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Topics in Aromatherapy-Argan Oil

27 Mar

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butterpatchouli, kokum butter and avocado oil.  This week, we are going to talk about argan oil.

What is argan oil?

Argan oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree (see above) that is endemic to Morocco  (source).  This oil is unique as it is mainly composed of  mono-unsaturated (up to 80%) fatty acids(source).  The oil is also very high in gamma -tocopherol (Vitamin E)(source) and have a high level of oleic and linoleic acids and phenols

What are the health benefits of argan oil?

Argan oil has shown to:

  • Reduces cardiovascular risk and may be  anti-atherogenic  (source)
  • Posess strong chemopreventive and anti-inflammatory properties likely due to its high Vitamin E content (source)
  • Perhaps have the ability to decrease the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation (which leads to atherosclerosis) in type 2 diabetes patients with dyslipidemia(source)
  • Perhaps have a role in reducing weight loss in diabetics, and even in inhibiting the development or progression of diabetes.(source)
  • Improve some of the metabolic and insulin signaling abnormalities associated with high fat feeding (in mice) (source)
  • Perhaps have the ability to prevent prostate cancer (source)
  • Have the ability to lower triglycerides in men (source)

How can I use it?

Argan oil is commonly used by Moroccans in the cooking as well as body care.  It is used to  treat damaged, dry or brittle hair  (source) and can be used in lotions and other body care products.
My hairdresser uses it but that is the only time I have ever seen it.
A really neat feature is that argan oil is made largely by a Argan Co-operative  which is a group consisting only of women in Morocco which manufactures oil on a large scale (source)
Question?
Have you ever heard of argan oil?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Kokum Butter

13 Mar

Kokum Butter

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butter and patchouli.

This week, we are going to talk about kokum butter.

What is kokum butter?

Kokum butter is obtained from the Indian tree Garcinia indica. (source).  This tree is commonly known as kokum and has various names across India, including aamsol, aamsul, bindin, biran, bhirand, bhinda, bhrinda, brinda, bin’na, kokum (alternate spellings kokam and cocum), katambi, looikya, sour apple, panarpuli, ratamba (source)

Kokum fruit

The fruit is dried in the sun to get the spice aamsul or kokam which is a blackish-red color and used in dishes such as lentil soup (source).

What health benefits does it have?

According to Mountain Rose Herbs, a supplier of numerous natural products:

Kokum Butter is rich in essential fatty acids, which aid in cell oxygenation and make nutrients more readily available for use by skin tissues. Kokum Butter also contains antioxidant vitamin E.  Kokum Butter is a non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging) material that aids quick absorption and adds a premium texture to your cream emulsions. Kokum Butter helps regenerate tired and worn skin cells and supports skin elasticity and general flexibility of the skin wall. It has been used traditionally in India to soften skin and restore elasticity and as a balm for dry, cracked, rough and calloused skin. It is also beneficial for the treatment of many different conditions, such as:

  • Helps prevent dry skin and wrinkles
  • Helps regenerate skin cells (Source)

I looked to see if I could find any scientific literature backing up these claims, but I couldn’t find anything.

How can I use it?

Also according to Mountain Rose Herbs:

With its relatively higher melt point, it melts slightly at skin temperatures making it ideal for lipsticks and balms; it‘s also a great addition to bar soaps and skin lotions and may be easily incorporated into Lotions, Creams, and Body Butters. It is also wonderful to use in the summer as a moisturizer before and after sun exposure to reduce possibility of the skin peeling or becoming dried out.  Use as an addition to:

  • Creams, lotions, balms
  • Cosmetic foundations
  • Lipsticks
  • Conditioners
  • Moisturizers(Source)

I have been thinking about buying some kokum butter with which to make lotion.  I currently use shea butter, but shea butter is not very conducive to adding essential oils to.  Has anyone ever used kokum butter to make their own lotion?

Question?

Have you ever bought anything with kokum butter in it?  If so, what?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Shea butter

28 Feb

Shea butter

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavender and ylang ylang.

This week, we are going to talk about shea butter.

What is shea butter?

Shea butter is a slightly yellowish or ivory-colored fat from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) (source)

Shea butter is widely used where it is grown as a cooking oil, for soap, and in pharmacological and cosmetic products.

Shea butter can be unrefined or refined via chemicals or clay  (source).  Refined shea butter and is white and has had less of an odor

What health benefits does it have?

Shea butter has Vitamin E in it (source)

In fact, it was shown that the Vitamin E content of shea butter actually differs depending on where the tree was grown due to climate differences (source)

Shea butter also has oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and arachdic acid, all fatty acids (source)

Shea butter has shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor promoting compounds. (source)
It has been used traditionally to relieve nasal inflammation and may rival conventional nasal drops (source)

How can you use shea butter?

Shea butter is quite hard at room temperature but will dissolve with body heat.  You can use it right from the container or melt it with some liquid oil (jojoba, sweet almond, etc) to make it smoother at room temperature.
I buy my shea butter from Amazon and it’s unrefined, from Africa.  
Question?
Do you use shea butter?  Do you use it plain or with additional oils?  What do you think of its smell?

Topics in Aromatherapy

14 Feb

Topics in Aromatherapy-Lavender

Welcome to the 4th post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oil and sweet almond oil.

This week, we are going to talk about lavender.

What is lavender?

Lavenders (Lavandula) are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. (source)

What claims have been made about lavender?

A number of studies have reported that lavender essential oil may be beneficial in a variety of conditions, including:

  • insomnia
  • alopecia (hair loss)
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • post-operative pain
  • being antibacterial and antiviral
  • The German Standard license and European guidelines for medicinal tea preparation lists lavender for use in sleep disorders, lack of appetite, mild tranquilizer, and treatment of irritable stomach (source)

What studies have been done about lavender?

Most of the studies concerning lavender were not well carried out, too small or used a non-standard dosing of lavender

Some reputable studies have found:

  • The combination of lavender and imipramine was significantly more effective than imipramine alone in treating depression (source)
  • Animal models have found that Lavandula angustifolia can treat painful and inflammatory conditions (source)
  • Lavender extract can reverse learning deficits in rats with Alzheimer’s Disease (source)
  • Lavender oil is effective in reducing challenging behaviours in individuals with dementia (source)
  • Lavender has shown to decreased perception of stress in nurses (source)
  • Lavender was shown to reduce needed pain medication, improve sleep patterns and enhance perception of well-being in patients with rheumatoid arthritis  (source)
  • Lavender was found to be anti-fungal  (source) and anti-bacterial(source)

How it is used in aromatherapy?

Commercial preparations are made from dried flowers and essential oils of the lavender plant to be used in:

  • Aromatherapy oil
  • Bath gels
  • Extracts
  • Infusions
  • Lotions
  • Soaps
  • Teas
  • Tinctures
  • Whole, dried flowers

(source)

I recently made some lotion and a face scrub with dried lavender and they smell so lovely and are very relaxing.

Cooking with lavender

Lavender is also used in cooking:

  • Its flowers yield a nectar which is transformed by bees into honey.
  • Its flowers can be candied for cake decorations
  • It can be made into sugar
  • It may be blended with tea
  • It can be added to baked goods (source)

Cautions

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to lavender (source)

Question?

Have you used lavender before?  What is your favorite way to use it?  Have you grown lavender?

Toxic Thursdays-Body Wash

22 Dec

Toxins in Body Wash???

(source)

Welcome to the next installment of Toxic Thursdays!

If this is the first Toxic Thursday post you have read, check out the posts on shampoo and lotions.  Each Thursday, I am highlighting a potential source of toxins in our everyday lives, explain what health risks the potential toxins have been linked to and suggest healthier, safer alternatives.  Today we are going to talk about body wash.

What toxins are in body wash?

Some of the most common toxins in body wash are:

1. EXT DC VIOLET 2 Banned for use in cosmetics.
2. FDC YELLOW 6 Possible human carcinogen.
3. TRIETHANOLAMINE
Possible human carcinogen.
4. FDC YELLOW 6 Possible human carcinogen.
5. PARABENS
Reproductive system toxicity.
6. SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE Gastrointestinal toxicity.
7. PROPYLENE GLYCOL
Immune toxicant.
8. TOCOPHERYL ACETATE Immune toxicant.
9. FRAGRANCE
Immune toxicant.
10. DISODIUM EDTA Penetration enhancer.

(source)

What are these toxins and what have they been linked to?

1.  Violet 2-a synthetic dye produced from petroleum or coal-tar sources. There is very little evidence it causes any immune toxicity.

2.  Yellow 6- a synthetic dye made from petroleum.  There is very little evidence it causes any immune toxicity.

3.  Triethanolamine-strongly alkaline substance used as  pH adjusting chemical. It can cause irritation in some individuals (source)

4.  Parabens-see this post

5.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-see this post

6.  Propylene Glycol-see this post

8.  Tocopheryl acetate-see this post

9.  Fragrance-has shown to induce acute toxicity in mice (source).  It has also be linked to asthma, allergies and migraine headaches. Fragrance can accumulate in adipose (fat) tissue such as the breast and fragrance can actually be present in breast milk (source).

10.  Disodium EDTA-see this post

What alternatives are there?

As I mentioned in my shampoo post, I use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for my body wash.  You can buy this at stores such as Target or on Amazon.

You can also make your own body wash.  Some recipes are found here.

If you are interested in more of body scrub and exfoliator, this is very simple to make with ingredients you likely have at your home.

This website has some great recipes for bath scrubs.

Depending on how rough you want your scrub to be, you can use either salt or sugar.

Use salt as the base if you want a rough, exfoliating scrub.  This which would be great for removing dead, flaky skin.

Use sugar as the base of the scrub for a smoother formula.  You can add oatmeal to the sugar scrub to make it even gentler on your skin.

You can also add your favorite essential oils to scent the scrub and add additional health benefits.

Healthful Pursuit, one of my favorite blogs, made a pumpkin spice foot scrub.  How great does that sound?

Question?

Do you use body wash?  Have you ever looked at the ingredients in your body wash?

Toxic Thursdays-Lotion

15 Dec

Toxins in Lotion?

(Source)

Welcome to the next installment of Toxic Thursdays!  If this is the first Toxic Thursday post you have read, check out the first post on shampoo.  Each Thursday, I am highlighting a body care product, explaining the potential toxins in the body product and suggesting healthier, safer alternatives.  Today we are going to talk about lotions.

Is my lotion toxic?

Maybe!  The easiest way to tell is to check out the EWG’s Skin Deep Database.  Here you can search for your lotion and find out if it has any potential toxins in it.  If it does, look for safer alternatives or check out some of the recipes below to make your own, toxin-free lotion.

What are some toxins in lotions?

Some of the most common toxins in lotion and their side effects are:

1. Phenoxyethanol- a colorless, alcohol used as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products which can cause pruritus (general itchiness) (Source)

What pruritus looks like:

(source)
2. Ethyhexyglycerin– a weak preservative which can cause contact dermatitis (source)

What contact dermatitis looks like:

(source)

3.  Parabens- which you can read about in this post.

4. Dimethicone- a silicon-based polymer used as a lubricant and conditioning agent which can cause contact dermatitis (source) (see above).
The take home message, similar to that in the shampoo post, is just to be aware of what you are putting on your body.  Studies must be done to determine how these toxins can build-up in our bodies and  and what the long term effects may be.  Even though a huge body of evidence does not exist directly linking these toxins with severe health concerns, if we can take easy steps to remove these potential toxins, why shouldn’t we???

What are safer alternatives?

If you would like to buy safer alternatives, here are some options.

Burt’s Bees Hand Salve from Amazon

JASON Moisturizing Creme

Garden of Eden Hand and Body Creme

Can I make my own lotion?

Of course! Here is a great and easy recipe.  You can customize your lotion by adding essential oils (which have their own health-boosting properties and I will address in a later post).

I simply order shea butter direct from Africa off Amazon, melt some in the microwave, add a little coconut oil and let it re-solidify.  I slather it on my hands at night and lock in the moisture by wearing gloves.  This is a cheap and safe alternative to store bought lotions.

This website shows you which oils you can add to your shea butter mixture to customize it to your skin texture and tone.

Oily, Acne-prone Grapeseed, jojoba, neem*
Dry, Aging, Damaged Sweet almond, avocado*, borage*, calendula, jojoba, kukui nut, olive, rosehip*, sea buckthorn*, St. John’s wort
Normal, Combination Sweet almond, apricot kernel, jojoba, sunflower
Sensitive Apricot kernel, avocado*, calendula, grapeseed, kukui nut, rice bran
Eczema, Psoriasis Calendula, sweet almond, avocado*, castor, evening primrose*, jojoba, kukui nut, neem*, olive, rosehip*, sea buckthorn*
Scars, Stretch Marks Calendula, castor, jojoba, kukui nut, rosehip*, sea buckthorn*

Question?

Do you believe toxins in lotion are a concern?  What lotion do you use?

Maybe she’s born with it….maybe it’s….full of toxins?

1 Dec

(Source)

If you haven’t looked at EWG’s Skin Deep Database, you may be shocked to find the number of toxins that are in the cosmetics you use everyday.

The shocking fact is that the cosmetics we apply to our bodies are not well investigated nor regulated.  The  FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors has said, “…a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA” (FDA 1995).

Top 10 Cosmetic Toxins

1. Mercury Known human carcinogen.
2. Lead Acetate Known human carcinogen.
3. Formaldehyde Known human carcinogen
4. Toluene Reproductive/developmental toxin
5. Petroleum Distillates Possible human carcinogen
6. Ethylacrylate Possible human carcinogen
7. Coal Tar Known human carcinogen
8. Dibutyl Phthalate Reproductive/developmental toxin
9. Potassium Dichromate Possible human carcinogen
10. 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol Forms carcinogens if mixed with nitrosating agents

You can click on each toxin to learn more about it.

(Source)

Here is a great You Tube video put out by the EWG that discusses the toxins in makeup.

I have recently switched the majority of my makeup to healthier alternatives.  Safe alternatives can be expensive.  However, affordable options are available.

In my new series, Toxin Free Thursdays, I will discuss toxins to avoid in body care products, healthy alternatives and ways to be naturally gorgeous!

Question?

How many cosmetics do you use on a regular basis?  Did you know so many toxins can legally be in cosmetics?