Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Red Hot Chili Peppers

I am a self-described foodie. I love to eat. I also love to cook or even just do a bit of food preparation. I get very excited when I find food that not only tastes good but also has observable physical benefits. For this holiday season, behold the wonderful and extremely versatile chili pepper! (No, not the southern California rock band.)

The chili pepper or spicy pepper (such as jalapeno, cayenne, or habanero) contains the chemical Capsaicin. Capsaicin, is the hot pepper’s natural heat-causing mouth-sizzling chemical; and has been proven to kill cancer cells, prevent sinus infections, serve as an anti-inflammatory agent, provide gastric relief, and even produce fat oxidation.

Hot peppers can help breathing, relieve aches and pains, and even help an individual burn up to an additional 50 calories per day! Sorry - that is not an excuse to have that extra slice of holiday pie (around 300 calories or more). According to research, hot peppers have the same metabolic effects as Ephedra without containing Ephredra’s negative cardiovascular side effects. Recent medical research is targeting the use of peppers and Capsaicin to fight cancer! Further research is also showing the use of peppers in pain relief post surgery - from the associated press – click on the following link:
Peppers for pain relief

If you get really into hot peppers, you may want to explore their heat rating. It is called the Scoville scale and can be found at the following web link:

So, spice up the holidays and add some peppers to your festivities! Try some finely diced peppers in your all-natural greens salad; or add them to your favorite roasted vegetables or meat. Great in that organic free-range egg omelet breakfast… Even add some to that favorite sandwich made of left-overs.

For the holiday dessert…
Try adding a just a bit of cayenne to that holiday apple pie; a little goes a long way and it gives a nice zip to the sweet.

If you have further interest in holistic health and nutrition review the Australasian College’s Nat 308 Holistic Nutrition course or Holistic Health Practice Program at and contact an advisor today at 800-487-8839!

Happy holidays and good eating! Now where did I put that cayenne for my popcorn?

Joel Strimling
Student Services

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ACHS 4th Annual Holiday Open House A Success!

The ACHS 4th Annual Holiday Open House was a great success! The Holiday Open House is a favorite of many who wish to give natural gifts to their loved ones.

During the open house, we learned how to make several preparations including:

Peppermint Foot Scrub - Visit us online here to view the kit from the Apothecary Shoppe.

Lemon Hand and Nail Butter - Visit us online here to view the kit from the Apothecary Shoppe.

Holiday Ambience Blend - Also available from the Apothecary Shoppe online here.

The 2008 ACHS on-campus scheduled will be available shortly. Check the Calendar online here for upcoming events. We hope to see you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ACHS Partners with The United Aromatherapy Effort to bring aromatherapy relief to rescue workers in the Southern California Wildfires

Australasian College of Health Sciences is proud to support the United Aromatherapy Effort (UAE,) a not-for-profit charitable organization providing stress relief and aromatherapy to relief workers during emergency work and afterwards. ACHS is shipping air freshener sprays down to the UAE staging area in Huntington Beach, CA. These sprays, prepared from pure therapeutic organic oils, have been formulated by ACHS’s President, Dorene Petersen, to help support ease of breathing in smoking, ash filled air. “UAE provided a wonderful opportunity for ACHS to send some relief to those affected by the terrible fires. I chose essential oils that are traditionally known for supporting respiratory stress, such as lavender, rosemary, fir, peppermint and tea tree,” said Dorene.

The collection effort is being administered by Deborah Halvorson, one of Australasian College of Health Sciences’ adjunct instructors. Deborah is also Director of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, and a Registered Aromatherapist. Deborah lives in the affected area and has generously volunteered to coordinate the collection and dissemination of the donations to the teams.

Aromatherapy has many benefits in disaster areas. The United Aromatherapy Effort collects and disseminates donated aromatherapy products, in conjunction with chair massage, to those affected by disaster. It is for this reason that the United Aromatherapy Effort teamed up with the Emergency Response Massage International (ERMI) to provide assistance to those dedicated and heroic individuals. ERMI's mission is to provide a 15-minute stress relief chair massage to first responders and relief workers following a disaster or other critical incident. Historically they have responded to NY (2001), Florida Hurricanes (2004) and most recently the Gulf Coast affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and now are helping those in the Southern California area affected by the wildfires. For more information about The United Aromatherapy Effort, visit For more information on the benefits of essentials oils visit

Purifying Blend includes the following essential oils:
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia - analgesic and antispasmodic
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis - analgesic
Fir Needle Abies canadensis - analgesic and expectorant
Peppermint Mentha piperita var. vulgaris - analgesic and antispasmodic
Tea Tree Australia Melaleuca alternifolia - expectorant

Friday, July 27, 2007

Make a Lavender Wand!

Making Lavender Wands

The Lavender Distillation and Open House was a wonderful success! We had many turn out and watch the distillation demonstration by President Dorene Petersen as well as enjoy the Lavender Wand Making talk by Tracey Miller. It was a gorgeous sunny day here in Portland and many bunches of lavender were picked by all!

For those of you who missed it we'd love to share a portion of the day with you. Find below a link to the audio of Tracey's Lavender Wand Making Demonstration and the accompanying instructions. Enjoy!

Making a Lavender Wand Demonstration (.mp3)
Lavender Wand Instructions (.pdf)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In The News: ACHS Aroma 401 Student - Betty Chang

Herbalists' shop full of healing teas


ON BIRD ROAD: Betty Chang burns a cleansing bundle of sage at BA Natural Body Care.

Step into BA Natural Body Care in a scruffy strip mall along Bird Road and be transported to a Taiwanese healing center. The compact space is lined with glass jars of teas, herbs, and herbal blends for ailments from insomnia to colds. There are also soaps, honey, teapots and vials of essential oils.

The BA is for Betty and Amy, the sisters who run the place along with their mother, Maria Huang. Each morning one of the sisters purifies the shop by lighting a bundle of dried sage. The pungent smoke rises from the flaming leaves held over an incense bowl to cleanse away any bad energy.

The Huang family emigrated from Kaoishiung in southern Taiwan in 1995, joining family members in Miami. Maria had trained as an herbalist, and her daughters took courses here in aromatherapy and Chinese herbal healing. They opened the shop about six months ago. Click here for the rest of the article.

Businessman Enjoys Sweet Smell of Success

Aromatherapy - The quality of the essential oils Robert Seidel sells earns him a following

Thursday, April 26, 2007


In 1977 Robert Seidel started a business that made a lot of scents but not much money.

In fact Seidel, 56, says the first few years he made no money at all.

But 30 years later, The Essential Oil Co., a wholesaler of essential plant oils based in the Sellwood neighborhood of Southeast Portland, grosses about $1 million annually.

Last month he shared trade secrets with students at Clackamas County's Tree School, an annual program targeted to those in forestry and timber management fields sponsored by the Oregon State University Extension Service, Clackamas Community College and local forestry groups.

"Oils are a value-added product," Seidel said. "When you harvest a tree you can collect the branches that you cut off and distill the oil." Click here for the rest of the article.

Monday, March 26, 2007

ACHS Graduate Dorothy McCall Featured in Sniffapalooza Magazine

ACHS Graduate Dorothy McCall Featured in Sniffapalooza Magazine

An Interview with ACHS Aromatherapy Graduate Dorothy McCall is featured in the most recent issue of Sniffapalooza Magazine.

Dorothy McCall is a graduate of Australasian College's accredited clinical aromatherapy program, Aroma 201 Certificate in Aromatherapy.

Read the full article online here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Important Lavender Essential Oil Research Review

The following is a review of a recent small study on lavender oil and its potential estrogenic effects (with associated breast enlargement in young boys) by ACHS Professor Dr. Arianna Staruch ND.

You may also view this full review online at

This recent experience highlights that essential oils contain biologically active constituents which can have physiologic effects when used topically. The use of these oils should be by those with appropriate training. Indiscriminate exposure of the public to essential oils may need to be evaluated for possible risks.

Is Lavender Essential Oil Associated with breast enlargement in young boys?

A study published in the NEJM this week raised the possibility that lavender essential oil found in common beauty products had caused breast enlargement (gynecomastia) in three young boys in Colorado. The breast enlargement resolved when the boys stopped using the products. The products all contained lavender essential oil, and included a healing balm, soap, body lotion, shampoo and hair gel. (The shampoo and hair gel also contained tea tree oil.) Hormone levels in all three boys remained normal throughout.
The researchers then tested tea tree and lavender oil in vitro, and both were found to stimulate the estrogen receptor and block the androgen receptor. This kind of disruption of hormone signaling pathways is thought to be responsible for gynecomastia and early puberty associated with known endocrine disruptors such as soy, pharmaceuticals, dioxins, furans, and organohalogens. Assessment of estrogenic activity of essential oil constituents has found that citral and geraniol can bind to estrogen receptors in vitro, but did not show estrogenic activity in a mouse model. Lavender essential oil contains geranyl acetate, a compound related to geraniol.

So was it the lavender that cased the abnormal breast enlargement? We can only suspect but not be sure. Because the gynecomastia resolved when the products were stopped, we can make a strong assumption that the products were the cause. None of the boys had been exposed to any known hormone disruptors including soy. The only obvious similarity in the products was the presence of lavender oil, however even the author of the study states that we cannot rule out that other components in the products also possess endocrine disrupting capability. Lavender essential oil was shown in vitro studies to bind to and stimulate the estrogen receptor but animal studies have not shown that this binding translates to estrogenic activity in vivo. However, children are extremely sensitive to estradiol, and no threshold has been established below which no hormonal effects can be seen in children exposed to known endocrine disruptors.

Does this mean that lavender essential oil is not safe for use in children? Compared to the number of children that are exposed to products containing lavender essential oil every day, only a very few may have had this response. In fact in the reported study, a fraternal twin brother of one of the boys also used the lavender skin lotion, but not the lavender soap, and did not show any signs of gynecomastia. However it is only prudent to be aware that the indiscriminate use of essential oils in frequently used household and beauty products may pose some risk to some children.

Should we change the way use lavender essential oil therapeutically? Lavender essential oil has long been viewed as an oil with few if any contraindications or side effects. In light of this study, maybe we should reconsider the use of lavender during pregnancy, nursing or in those with a history of hormone sensitive cancers.

This recent experience highlights that essential oils contain biologically active constituents, which can have physiologic effects when used topically. The use of these oils should be by those with appropriate training. Indiscriminate exposure of the public to essential oils may need to be evaluated for possible risks. It is recommended that the public seek out a Registered Aromatherapist (RA) by searching the Registered Aromatherapists Register at All RA's have passed the national ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy and have completed a minimum of a one year Level 2 program in aromatherapy from a college or school that is in compliance with the current NAHA Educational Guidelines. Registration is a mark of the candidates dedication to the Aromatherapy field and to the safety of his or her clients and customers.

# # #


How do environmental estrogen disruptors induce precocious puberty? Massart, et al; Minerva Pediatr 2006 Jun; 58(3):247

Assessment of estrogenic activity in some common essential oil constituents. Hoews MJ, et al; J. Pharm Pharmacol. 2002 Nov; 54(11):1521

Anticonflict effects of lavender oil and identification of its active constituents. Umezu T; et al; Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006 Dec; 85(4):713

The sensitivity of the child to sex steroids: possible impact of exogenous estrogens. Aksglaede L, et al; Hum Reprod Update. 2006 Jul-Aug; 12(4):342
Dorene Petersen
503.244.0726 x14
Come visit the ACHS Blogs:

Australasian College of Health Sciences. 5940 SW Hood Ave, Portland, OR 97239 , 1-800-487- 8839 Nationally Accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Natural Solutions for Winter Skin Care

Photo copyright Joel Strimling Photography
Used with permission

Winter is here! In many places, temperatures are cold and the ground is covered in a blanket of snow. After spending time outdoors, sitting by a cozy fire in the fireplace is a nice way to thaw out. However, the cold, wet outdoor air and the dry heat indoors can wreak havoc on our skin.

I have to admit, winter is not my favorite season, which is why I live in Southern California. But even here it is impossible to escape the dryness and chapping caused by the cold outdoors as well as the dry, heated indoor air. Unfortunately, many products on the market that are supposed to help the skin can actually dry it out even more. Here are some natural solutions to help protect and moisturize your skin.

Avocado Honey Mask (for face and hands)
The face and hands are more exposed to the winter elements than the rest of the body and may require extra special attention. This mask is an inexpensive and easy way to pamper yourself. All you need is half of a ripe avocado and a tablespoon of honey. Cut the avocado in half and remove the peel and pit, then mash half and add the honey mixing well (you can use a blender or a food processor to get a smoother product). Spread the mixture liberally over the face and hands, lie down and prop up your feet for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse your face and hands with warm water and follow with a pure vegetable oil such as cold pressed Almond or Grapeseed. Avocado is high in oleic acid, linoleic acid, lecithin, and vitamin D, and is especially beneficial for eczema. Honey is an emollient (soothes irritated skin), a humectant (draws needed moisture to the skin), and an exfoliant (removes dry, dead skin cells).

Sugar Scrub
Scrubs exfoliate and polish the skin, stimulate cell renewal, and promote velvety-soft, smooth skin. Sugar cane produces glycolic acid, one of the natural alpha-hydroxy acids that exfoliate the skin. Aloe is soothing to irritated skin. Neroli oil is an astringent, is great for aging skin, and helps reduce stretch marks. Ylang ylang stimulates skin cell regeneration and is helpful for dry skin. Grapefruit is an astringent; it is useful for skin congestion.

1/2 cup organic white sugar
1/4 cup Apricot Kernel oil
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon Aloe Vera gel
1 teaspoon Cocoa butter
6 drops (total) Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara), Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina) or Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) essential oil (or a blend)
Mix together the first four ingredients. Gently warm the Cocoa butter by placing the container in a bowl of hot water to soften it. Add Cocoa butter and blend well using a hand mixer on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes. Add essential oil. In the shower, wet the skin then rub the sugar scrub all over the body (don’t use scrubs on broken or irritated skin). Do NOT wash with soap afterward. Can be used up to twice a week. Makes 1 cup.

Exotic Rose Cream (for dry skin)
1/3 cup Jojoba oil
1/3 cup Apricot Kernal oil
1/3 cup Rosehip Seed oil
1/8 tsp Vitamin E
¾ oz. beeswax
¼ cup Rose Hydrosol
¾ cup distilled water
essential oils:
20 drops Rose absolute (Rosa damascena)
10 drops Jasmine absolute (Jasminum officinalis)
5 drops Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) essential oil
5 drops Sandalwood (Santalum album) essential oil
5 drops Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina)
Pour Rose hydrosol and distilled water into blender. Heat Jojoba, Apricot Kernal, and Rosehip Seed oils and beeswax in top of double boiler until beeswax melts. Remove from heat, add Vitamin E oil. Allow to cool just until hardened ring of beeswax begins to appear around top of bowl. Turn on blender and slowly pour the oil mixture into the water in the blender until it emulsifies (a chopstick is very handy if the blender becomes clogged). Add essential oils and blend again. Pour into clean jars. (Yield: 16 ounces)

Essential oils and other ingredients discussed here are available through the Apothecary Shoppe.

If you’d like to learn more about natural body care, contact the ACHS admissions department regarding Nat 201 Certificate in Nutrition, Body Care, and Herbalism.