Monday, August 24, 2015

Anxious or Feeling Down: Can Essential Oils Help?

There has been a lot of discussion lately about emotional disorders like depression and anxiety. Talking about this difficult topic is an enormous step forward on the road to supporting those who suffer. One question I am often asked is: Which natural remedies work for depression and anxiety? And this is often followed-up with something like: Can essential oils REALLY help?

Don't miss this blog post over at our new blog here:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Our latest blog posts!

Read our latest blog posts at our new blog here:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New blog address at

Hi folks!
We've moved our blog posts over to and we're trying to figure out how to feed that back over to this blogger blog... in the meantime, please go visit us there! Recent posts include seasonal aromatherapy tips, recipes to make healthy treats fresh from the garden, holistic nutrition for busy people, and more!

Best wishes
Erika Yigzaw

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why Lavandula stoechas is not a substitute for Lavandula angustifolia...

I recently saw a post on a lavender list that said that Lavandula stoechas could be used medicinally and for cosmetics. L. stoechas is also called Spanish lavender and rabbit ear lavender due to the little rabbit ear bracts on the top - see the pic below). Strangely I'd just been explaining this issue to a friend who had stoechas in her garden, so I thought it worth a blog post!

Please don't think these two species are interchangeable! Lavandula stoechas can be toxic. Its very high in ketones and camphor and has a very different chemistry than L. angustifolia (syn. L. officinalis, syn. L. vera) (which is the variety that should be used therapeutically).

You can view the scanned pages from Geunther on Stoechas with the various constituents at my blog at If you'd like to look at L. angustifolia let me know. 

Ketones are easily absorbed by the skin and are quite irritating so we would never recommend L. stoechas for cosmetics. It is so important to distinguish the species and varietal of any botanical. I've seen some reports that lavender doesn't work as a sleep aid (because a study uses L. intermedia which is high in stimulating camphor and low in relaxing linalyl acetate) or that lavender causes irritation because a variety high in ketones or camphor is used. 

Here's a case study on pubmed of someone who poisoned themselves with L. stoechas tea: and the full text is available here:
You'll notice the title of that case study: "Anticholinergic Syndrome and Supraventricular Tachycardia Caused by Lavender Tea Toxicity" would make the average reader thing that all lavender is similarly toxic - when its likely the fact that it was L. stoechas that caused the problem. 

It is a great opportunity to remind ourselves that even if plants share common names, or are even the same species, they can still have very different chemistry and therefore their appropriate uses and toxicity can vary widely. Always be sure you know what the safe varieties are to use and that you have correctly identified your plant before you  use it to make tea or any other product. If you're in doubt, simply enjoy looking at it in your garden...

Best Wishes,
Erika Yigzaw 
ACHS CIO and Master Gardener

Friday, October 07, 2011

Pine Essential Oil: It's not just for cleaning anymore By ACHS Student Stacey Ford

Pine essential oil is the product of the steam distillation of the needles of the pine tree (Pinus sylvestris). Pine also goes by the names forest pine, Norway pine, or Scotch pine. Pinus sylvestris is found mainly in Siberia and Finland, with Pinus palustris being found mostly in the United States. Pine has many uses, but one may ask, “What is it that makes pine so effective?" The answer to that question can be found in the next section.

Active Constituents and Therapeutic Actions

Pine essential oil contains two main ingredients, terpenes and esters, each of which are responsible for certain actions. Terpenes have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral, and bactericidal action. Think of all the times you bought the cleaner Pine-Sol and the smell that hit your nose when you opened the bottle. Yep, that was definitely pine, but with a bunch of other “stuff” added to it. When you open a vial of pine essential oil, you’ll still get that strong woodsy aroma and that’s it. No extra anything. Esters, the second constituent, specifically, bornyl acetate, is the one that aids in promoting calmness and nervous system stability. Think pine essential oil is just for cleaning? Think again. Pine essential oil has uses that you may not have known about. It’s good for the skin, joints, and the nervous system. The next section will discuss what it can be used for.

Uses for Pine Essential Oil

For the skin, Pinus sylvestris is useful against overgrowth of yeast and fungi (such as Candida albicans) and other conditions such as scabies, ringworm, psoriasis, eczema, sores, fleas, and athlete’s foot. It may also be tried for the pain and stiffness of joint pain, namely, rheumatoid arthritis.
For nerves, pine essential oil can be diluted in a carrier oil (almond oil is a good choice as it is good for its softening, balancing action. However, it’s important to note that almond oil can’t be used by those allergic to nuts. Another good, light, oil that can be used is grape seed oil, which contains antioxidants).

And, of course, there’s the disinfectant nature of Pinus sylvestris when it’s used to clean one’s home, especially when it’s used to help combat that pesky mold and mildew that can be found in the bathroom on the walls and shower curtain.
As you see, pine essential oil has several uses, with “spring-cleaning” being only one of them. So, the next time you’ve had a rough day at work, reach for that vial of pine essential oil, open it, take a whiff, and let your mind float to that vacation spot from years gone by and feel that tension melt away.

1. Organic Facts. (2011). Health Benefits of Pine Essential Oil. Organic Facts. Retrieved from
2. Petersen, D. (2011). Aroma 101: Introduction to Aromatherapy. Portland: American College of Healthcare Sciences, 209, 238-241.
3. Plants and Oils. (2011). Essential Oil of Pine: Uses and Benefits of Pine Oil. HubPages. Retrieved from

This information is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease, and is not a replacement for the advice given to you by your doctor.

Note of Caution
As a precaution, don’t use pine essential oil if you’re pregnant or if you have “allergy-sensitive” skin as it can cause a rash resembling eczema. If you have sensitive skin, please do a skin patch test first.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Aromatherapy Used in Hospitals to Help Kids Cope with Cancer

Aromatherapy has many benefits, including the ability to help children and adults with stress and anxiety, whether in response to a specific situation, like heading back to school, or the ups and downs of life in general.

Here's a video clip from CBS NEWS featuring another great use for aromatherapy--helping kids cope with the side effects of cancer treatment and recovery.

Forty-two percent of 714 hospitals are now offering some form of alternative therapy or complementary alternative medicine to their patients, including children. These programs do not replace traditional therapies, but do offer support for the healing process.

Check out this clip and post your feedback - do you have experience using aromatherapy with pain management? We'd love to hear your experience with the benefits of using aromatherapy!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Introduction to Aromatherapy Distillation and ACHS Distillation Manual for Download

Distillation is the most widely used method for producing essential oils, and while the basic principle of distillation remains the same, the process of distillation is carried out in different ways depending on the plant material being distilled.

In general, the process of distillation requires steam to be passed through the plant material. The basic process is:

First plant material (this can be leaves, flowers, etc. depending on the specific plant) is loaded into the “retort” of the still. Then, steam is passed through the retort. The steam carries the essential oil out of the plant in droplets in the steam. The oil moves into the still’s condenser and the steam changes back to water. The water and oil then separate passively. In most cases the oil floats on the top. (There are exceptions depending on how heavy the oil is compared to the water.) The oil is separated from the water by dripping or pouring off the water from the top, leaving the essential oil.

To learn more about the art and science of aromatherapy distillation, download the American College Distillation Manual free here. Note, this PDF manual is password protected -- if you attend our recent distillation workshop on the ACHS campus, the password has been emailed to you.

If you were unable to attend our distillation workshop in person, not to worry! Subscribe to our holistic health and aromatherapy YouTube channel ACHStv, "Like" us on Facebook, then post a comment to this blog letting us know you're now an ACHS fan, and we'll send you the password to download our distillation manual (just be to sure to include a valid email).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wind Down at Night with Bergamot Essential Oil

After busy summer days at work or at play, it's important to wind down. Stress comes in many forms, even fun. Support your body's optimal health and wellness and make daily relaxation a top priority.

Wondering how? Try an aromatherapy Relaxing Bedtime Blend with bergamot (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia) essential oil. The oil's fresh, citrus fragrance is a great mood support and can be soothing in a bath or massage blend.*

Relaxing Bedtime Blend
Clary sage Salvia sclarea: 3-drops
Bergamot Citrus aurantium var. bergamia: 10-drops
Benzoin resinoid Styrax benzoin: 2-drops
Chamomile Matricaria recutita (German) or Chamaemelum nobile (Roman): 2-drops

Use 2-3-drops in bath, or dilute with 1-oz massage oil and rub on the chest.

Give it a try and let us know how it works for you! Feel free to post your suggestions for relaxing aromatherapy blends, too!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with your primary care physician, naturopathic doctor, or Registered Aromatherapist (RA) before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Do You Use Cananga Oil As An Alternative to Ylang Ylang: ACHStv Gathering Canaga Flowers for Distillation

ACHS College President Dorene Petersen recently traveled to East Java. Here's an ACHStv video from her trip about how cananga flowers are gathered for distillation.

The terms cananga and ylang ylang are sometimes used interchangeably but there are botanical and subsequently essential oil differences. Ylang ylang is Cananga odorata var. genuine while cananga is Cananga odorata var. macrophylla. Both are from the Anonaceae family.

The trees of C. odorata var. macrophylla are quite common in East Java. The oil is extracted from cananga flowers using the hydro distillation process. The oil content in the flower varies from 0.75% to 1%. Total annual production of cananga oil in Indonesia is approximately 30-35 tons.

The main distillation season for cananga oil is from July to October. Areas of concern for this industry are the lack of tree replanting, while the existing trees are getting old and being attacked by caterpillars, which eat up all the leaves. The trees are not managed and grow to heights of 40-50 feet, which makes it difficult and dangerous to harvest. Previously a harvester had fallen from a tree and died from the injuries.

There is potential for developing and encouraging awareness of environmental issues and sustainability practices. The market for cananga oil is small so the price paid to the flower harvesters is low - approximately $0.45 U.S. per kg. Its continued production is tentative given the areas of concern and the low market demand.

This is an oil that deserves a closer look at by aromatherapists, natural product manufacturers, and natural perfumers.

Do you use cananga oil as an alternative to ylang ylang? We'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to post your comments here or to ACHS Facebook at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Use Your Essential Oil Travel Kit

Join Tracey Miller from the American College of Healthcare Sciences at the Beaverton Farmer's Market as she walks you through the seven must-have essential oils for travel: cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), ginger (Zingiber officinale), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), lemon (Citrus limonum), tea tree Australia (Melaleuca alternifolia), peppermint (Mentha piperita var. vulgaris), and ylang yang (Cananga odorata). Traveling with essential oils is a great way to support you health while traveling and to have your sustainable, natural first aid kit on the go!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cananga Flowers (Ylang Ylang) Being Sorted and Gathered From the Ground

Cananga flowers (ylang ylang) being sorted and gathered from the ground. The flowers drop to the ground after they are cut from a very tall tree. The harvester, in this case a man, was perilously perched 40 feet above the ground in the branches executing the cut with a hooked blade tied to a 15 foot stick. His wife is on the ground sorting and gathering with amazing speed. Unfortunately they are paid only .45 cents per kilo of flowers.

Photo by Dorene Petersen, ACHS President. © 2011. Bali.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Meet Dean Vanderslice, Owner of edits!, and Learn to Harness the Clean Power of Essential Oils

ACHS Certificate in Aromatherapy Graduate Dean Vanderslice has found a unique way to combine her passions. Dean, owner of edits!, offers her clients more than one-day redesigns—she provides a fresh start.

“Our goal is to introduce a new beauty and function creating a new energy for living a more inspired life…naturally,” Dean says.

Edits! specializes in transforming homes and offices into stylish spaces by reusing, repurposing, and restyling things clients already own. While moving through a client’s space, edits! cleans, nourishes, and refreshes hard and soft surfaces with a line of non-toxic essential oil products Dean created.

“My confidence and passion for using essential oils in this way came from desperation, as most change does,” Dean says.

Six years ago, Dean’s husband underwent a stem cell transplant for a diagnosis of cancer. His doctor wanted him to live at home through the process because his body would already be used to bacteria, fungus, etc., living in the home verses a new environment, like the hospital. However, through the yearlong process, preventing exposure to new and seasonal “bugs” was critical.

“I was daunted by the task of keeping our home with two young children, two dogs, and lots of activity free of new germs,” Dean says. “I knew in my gut that Clorox and Lysol were not the answer for someone whose system was already being flooded with toxins. Thanks to my discovery of essential oils, we all survived and even thrived.”

Dean continued using essential oils to clean and disinfect her home, and soon began experimenting with using natural ingredients boosted by essential oils to counteract her husband’s chemo-dried skin. She also experimented with recipes for her daughters if they had sore muscles or started to get stuffy noses.

“I realized that since the use of essential oils, we had never been healthier. And I had to know more,” Dean says. “I found ACHS and was drawn to it because it was as serious as I was about utilizing the value of these amazing, therapeutic oils. I didn’t want fluff; I wanted real scientific information on why these oils worked and how to utilize them to their full potential. I got that and more. It was my first online study and although the coursework could be quite challenging, the process was simple. I enjoyed all my classes and was amazed and grateful that such acclaimed instructors took such time to develop us, not only as future aromatherapists, but business people as well.”

“As a mother of two teenage daughters, a wife to a husband who is a cancer survivor, and a business owner, I endorse a life that is simply free from artificial chemicals,” Dean says. “From what we eat, to what we put on our body, to what we clean our homes with—nature provides.”

For more information about edits! and Dean’s chemical-free products and philosophy, visit edits! online at or email Dean at

For more information about the ACHS Certificate in Aromatherapy, visit ACHS online at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

3 Essential Oils for Summer

Summer is here and you know what that means … fun and sun, bumps and bugs. To help stay in tip-top shape all summer long, here are three essential oils to keep on hand.

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, has a characteristic aroma frequently used in room sprays and cosmetic products to help relive stress and support relaxation. The essential oil also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which can be very handy with minor bumps and scrapes. To make your own lavender ointment, warm 2-oz sweet almond oil over a double boiler and add 1/4-oz grated beeswax. Stir until the wax is dissolved then add 25 drops lavender Lavandula angustifolia oil, 10 drops bergamot Citrus aurantium var. bergamia oil, and 5 drops thyme Thymus vulgaris oil. Cool before placing in jars and leave it to completely cool before putting on the lid to avoid condensation.

Neroli, Citrus aurantium var. amara, has a decadent, light floral aroma reminiscent of a stroll through the garden. It is the quintessential aroma for summer ambiance. To support relaxation and to refresh the air, diffuse around your home (especially if you plan to staycation this summer!).

Sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum, is a pale-colored oil with a slightly spice aroma; it is reminiscent of cloves and camphor. Medicinally, the essential oil has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which make it a useful ingredient in blends or when diluted in a carrier oil. In addition, basil’s essential oil is an effective natural insect repellent[1] and a good alternative to citronella essential oil if you do not like citronella’s strong scent; diffuse the essential oil at your outdoor events for a fresh aroma and some added insurance against those pesky mosquitoes.

Which essential oil is essential for you? Post a comment and tell us which essential oil is a summer must ... be sure to include your favorite blend and recipes!!

Interested in learning more about aromatherapy essential oils? Visit for more information about aromatherapy classes, community wellness events, and summer study abroad programs with the American College of Healthcare Sciences.We look forward to hearing from you!

[1] Dube, S., Upadhyay, P.D., Tripathi, S.C. (1989). Canadian Journal of Botany, 67:2085-2087.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Important Dos for Educating the Aromatherapy Novice in Business

BY Rose Chard, ACHS Certificate in Aromatherapy Graduate, Owner Your Body Needs, LLc

Aromatherapy is a term that gets tossed around in the commercial market with little credibility to the fundamental science behind it. For the aromatherapy student who may look forward to a future in the industry, this is a frustrating issue because it becomes more of a challenge attempting to reach out to those who stand to gain a tremendous amount of benefit from the practice. If you are planning on starting a career in aromatherapy, here are some important factors to educating your customers.

1. Understand you are an educator—If you are a Registered Aromatherapist (RA) you must recognize that achievement. Your education gives you a vast amount of knowledge in the industry which the average person does not have. Provided you remain in your scope of practice and within ethical guidelines, you have quite a powerhouse of information to help improve clients’ quality of life. You earned that right through your education. Wasn’t it valuable to you the first time you heard it?

2. Have a business plan—Aromatherapy study is broad. There are hundreds of essential oils and many applications of using them. Having a strategic business plan will allow you to focus on how to get your message across. Determine which area of aromatherapy business you want to focus on and in which platform you will be communicating: leased site, website, colleges or other? As soon as you have a solid idea of your plan, you will be able to develop well-suited ideas that will best fit your business model. Having a clear, well-thought-out direction will enable you to make smarter choices and lead to fewer frustrations. Do not be afraid to start small; you do not have to deliver the entire message all at once. You might decide that you want to concentrate your efforts on a branch of aromatherapy that appeals to you, and from there you could expand that into a business model.

To read the full text article with three additional suggestions, download the June 2011 edition of the ACHS eNewsletter, The Reporter, online here:

Don't forget to leave a comment! We want to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Essential Oils May Be Effective With Superbugs

Research suggests essential oils may be an effective alternative to antibiotics, according to research from the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands, Greece. Research also suggests essential oils may help fight drug-resistant hospital superbugs.

For this research, Professor Yiannis Samaras and Dr Effimia Eriotou tested eight essential oils for their antimicrobial activity, including thyme and cinnamon. Thyme essential oil was the most effective and eliminated bacteria within 60 minutes. Thyme and cinnamon essential oils also showed positive results against several Staphylococcus species.

Professor Yiannis Samaras says, "Not only are essential oils a cheap and effective treatment option for antibiotic-resistant strains, but decreased use of antibiotics will help minimise the risk of new strains of antibiotic resistant micro-organisms emerging."

In addition, "The oils – or their active ingredients – could be easily incorporated into antimicrobial creams or gels for external application. In the food industry the impregnation of food packaging with essential oils has already been successfully trialled. They could also be included in food stuffs to replace synthetic chemicals that act as preservatives," Professor Yiannis Samaras and Dr Effimia Eriotou say.

To read the full-text article, visit e! Science News. (2010, March 30). Essential oils to fight superbugs. Retrieved from

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Aromatherapy For Self-Care

BY ACHS President Dorene Petersen, BA, Dip.NT, Dip.Acu, RH (AHG)

Responding to stress is something people naturally do to help regulate the body—but staying in a constant state of stress will eventually have negative health effects. Cortisol, also called the stress hormone, is part of the body's natural response to stress, but when released at high levels, or when is it not allowed to disperse due to chronic stress, it can decrease immunity, bone density and overall quality of life.

Practicing consistent and intentional self-care to support the body's natural relaxation response and to keep our body's cortisol levels balanced and healthy is essential for long-term wellness. Self-care helps us to manage stress before it becomes constant. Aromatherapy is one effective self-care method we can use to stop stress from taking root in the body.

Aromatherapy triggers the relaxation response, necessary for self-care. The relaxation response can be triggered by doing something you like, such as deep breathing, walking, and self-massage. Triggering the relaxation response has many health benefits, including healthy cortisol levels and decreased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, improved digestion and normalized blood sugar levels.

That's why it is important to make time for yourself every day, even if that means stolen moments here and there, such as while you're between clients, in the car, washing dishes or even doing laundry. Aromatherapy is flexible and portable, and it provides a lot of diversity, so your self-care time can be most meaningful.

Consider using essential oils as part of your everyday health routine. Using essential oils when you are already relaxed, such as during a massage, creates a positive conditioning response, a positive association.

To support everyday use, try inhalation of single essential oils, or, if you have more time, creating a personal blend of essential oils. Both methods have therapeutic properties. Deciding which method is most appropriate for your immediate needs may be a simple factor of available time.

If you choose inhalation, select essential oils with a pleasant association. Waft (or diffuse) calming, yet uplifting aromas like palmarosa Cymbopogon martini, neroli Citrus aurantium var. amara, or bergamot Citrus aurantium var. bergamia. Inhale deeply.

If you choose to make a blend, select essential oil with relaxing and/or uplifting properties. Anise Pimpinella anisum, basil Ocimum basilicum, clary sage Salvia sclarea, geranium Pelargonium graveolens, grapefruit Citrus paradisi, lavender Lavandula angustifolia, nutmeg Myristica fragrans, petitgrain Citrus aurantium, rose attar Rosa damascena, rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis, sweet orange Citrus sinensis, tangerine Citrus reticulata, and ylang ylang Cananga odorata are especially useful for simple, stress-reducing blends.

To read the full-text article, which originally appeared in the May 2011 edition of Massage Magazine on, visit

We want to hear from you. Post your best aromatherapy for self-care tips!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Use Essential Oil in Your Home

You can incorporate essential oils into your everyday life by using them whenever you would use a commercial cleanser or air freshener. You may want to avoid using your precious essential oils, such as neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) and rose attar (Rosa damascena), for cleaning and household purposes.

You do not need to invest in diffusers or other aromatherapy equipment, although they can be quick and easy ways to disperse essential oils into the air. The following suggestions do not require an investment in any equipment:
  • Use two or three drops on the filter pad of your vacuum cleaner to leave a refreshing aroma around your home as you do the housework.
  • Add two or three drops to the edge of the toilet roll before placing on the toilet roll holder.
  • Place a few drops on cotton balls that are distributed in drawers, wardrobes, closets, and cupboards. A good night's rest is ensured if placed into pillowcases. This will also help keep moths and insects out of linen.
  • Use as a room freshener. Pour directly on cotton balls and leave in a room. This is particularly good for freshening up a room that is stale with cigarette smoke or pet odors.
  • Sprinkle a few drops on potpourri to revive the original fragrance.
  • Sprinkle a few drops in and around drains, into the trash bin, compost bucket, toilet bowl, and in the dishwasher.
  • Add a few drops to the washing machine or dryer when doing laundry. For dryers, add the oil to a dry cloth and place it into the dryer along with the wet laundry.
  • Add a drop of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) to the water that you add to your steam iron or use a hydrosol.
  • You can use essential oils in every room in your house: kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, laundry, and even in the garden.
For more information about the history of aromatherapy download our free lecture History of Aromatherapy and our PowerPoint presentation What is Aromatherapy?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Aromatherapy Benefits of Essential Oil Diffusion

Diffusion is an effective way to disperse essential oils into the air. Once released into the air, an oil's specific aroma can be used to create a desired atmosphere, like the fresh and invigorating aroma of Citrus paradisi, which can also be a mood boost. In addition, the beneficial properties of the oil are released into the air and inhaled, similar to the pathway essential oils take in nature when plants release them into the air.

For more information about the aromatherapy benefits of essential oil diffusion, check out
ACHS President Dorene Petersen's article, "Aromatherapy Benefits of Essential Oil Diffusion", on Perfume Pharmer.

In her article, Dorene shares two aromatherapy essential oil blends for diffusion, a Respiratory System Formula and Inhalation Formula. The ingredients for the
Inhalation Formula include eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus oil and peppermint Mentha piperita var. vulgaris oil. Download the specific quantities and blending directions from the Perfume Pharmer. Be sure to leave a comment and let us know how the blend works for you!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Essential Oil Profile: Grapefruit Essential Oil a Fresh and Tangy Aroma

Grapefruit essential oil Citrus paradisi is a hybrid brought about by cultivation of C. maxima and C. sinensis.

The essential oil, pressed or distilled from the fresh peel of the fruit, is a yellowish to pale-green oil with a fresh, bright, and tangy aroma. It feels thin and watery. Like many citrus oils, grapefruit will deteriorate quickly if exposed to moisture, air, or light and should be used within six months.

Traditionally, grapefruit essential oils has been used for its antibacterial, antidepressant, antiseptic, astringent, digestive, and stimulant properties. In perfumery, it blends well with bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, ginger, geranium, lavender, and rosemary.

Note, grapefruit's photosensitive effect is a current topic of research. Until there is definitive clinical testing, avoid citrus oils if there is a chance of being exposed to the sun after an aromatherapy treatment. A skin patch test is also recommended as the oil may cause skin irritation.

Winter Pick Me Up Blend

Grapefruit Citrus paradisi oil: 6-drops
Bergamot Citrus aurantium var. bergamia oil: 6-drops
Lime Citrus aurantifolia oil: 6-drops
Ginger Zingiber officinale oil: 4-drops
Sandalwood Santalum album oil: 2-drops

Blend all the oils and use in a diffuser or atomizer. It can also be added to the bath water; add 5-6-drops maximum.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. You should always consult with your primary care physician before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Essential Oil Profile: Ginger Essential Oil a Top Pick for Winter

Ginger Zingiber officinale is a member of the Zingiberaceae family and is cultivated in many tropical and subtropical countries. Commonly called common ginger, Jamaican ginger, and ginger root, it should not be confused with galangal oil, Alpinia officinarum, which is also called ginger root.

Ginger oil is produced from dried, whole rhizomes, as well as peelings and shavings if used immediately. The oil has a green or yellowish color and a fresh, spicy, and pungent aroma. The aroma is long-lasting and adds a spicy sweetness to blends. Ginger blends well with essential oils like cedarwood, coriander, frankincense, grapefruit, lime, neroli, orange, patchouli, petitgrain, rose, and vetiver.

For a Winter Blah pick me up, try this essential oil bath salt blend:

Grapefruit Citrus paradisi essential oil: 6 drops
Elemi Canarium luzonicum essential oil: 6 drops
Ginger Zingiber officinale essential oil: 4 drops
Sandalwood Santalum album essential oil: 2 drops
Epsom salts: 1 cup
Sea or mineral salts: 1/2 cup
White clay: 1/8 cup

Mix all ingredients together in bowl and sift. Add 4 tablespoons to one full bath; add after the bath has filled. Essential oils can be added as either single oils or as blends.

Download more information about essential oils for winter from our post Essential Oils for Winter HERE.

*This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, heal, or prevent disease. You should always consult with your primary care physician, a naturopathic doctor, or a Registered Aromatherapist before making any significant changes in your health and wellness routine. A skin patch test is always recommended.

Monday, February 07, 2011

How to Use Essential Oils to Help Reduce Risk of Viral Infection

Essential oils can be used in the home as antiviral cleaning products. A diffuser used with essential oils like eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus, lemon balm Melissa officinalis, peppermint Mentha piperita var. vulgaris, or thyme Thymus vulgaris may reduce the airborne viruses in a room.

Essential oils can also be added to hand creams to help reduce the spread of viruses by contact. Of course, these should be used in addition to the common sense CDC recommendations to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose with your arm when you sneeze, and to stay home if you are sick.

Winter can be a challenging time because there is the potential for many people to be sick with a cold or flu at the same time, but we can use natural support options, such as essential oils, to keep us healthy.

To read the full-length article "The Antiviral Activity of Essential Oils", click HERE.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, heal, or prevent disease. Always consult with your primary care provider for a proper diagnosis if you think you may have the seasonal flu or the H1N1 flu, and follow their recommendations.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Essential Oil Profile: Cinnamon Essential Oil Warming in Winter

Cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum has a long history of use. For example, did you know the Egyptians used cinnamon in their mummification process? Historically, cinnamon was also used as an ingredient in a medicinal tonic called "hippocras," and was blended with ginger and cloves. Today, cinnamon is most commonly known as a culinary flavoring. But, cinnamon essential oil has many health promoting properties worth exploring.

The active constituents in cinnamon essential oil include aldehydes, which are antifungal [1,2], antimicrobial, and antiseptic, as well as the oxide 1,8 cineole, trans-cinnamic acid, and terpenes, among others. Traditional uses include: slow circulation, colds, cough, gums, infection, influenza, lice, intestinal parasites, stomach cramp, and stress, to name a few.

Aromatically, cinnamon has a spicy, slightly woody scent, which can be warming in colder months. Cinnamon blends well with benzoin, frankincense, myrrh, orange, peppermint, and ylang yang.

Download our Cinnamon Air Purification Blend from our post Essential Oils for Winter.

1. Lima EO, Gompertz OF, Giesbrecht AM, et al. In vitro antifungal activity of essential oils obtained from official plants against dermatophytes. Mycoses 1993;36 (9-10):333-336.

2. Viollon C, Chaumont J-P. Antifungal Properties of Essential Oils and Their Compounds upon of Cryptococcus neoformans. Mycopatholgia 1994;128 (3):151-153.

*This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. You should always consult with your primary care physician, naturopathic doctor, or Registered Aromatherapist before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

6 Tips for Selecting Essential Oils for Clinical Use

Just like wine, a number of factors affect the quality of an essential oil, including:
  • Where the plant was grown.
  • What part of the plant was used.
  • How it was grown.
  • What the climate was like.
  • How it was harvested.
  • When it was harvested.
  • How it was produced.
  • How it was stored following production.
The quality of the finished product may be compromised if any one of these steps is not carried out optimally for that particular plant. So, how can we ensure that the essential oils we buy are of a quality suitable for clinical aromatherapy?

1. Know your supplier. Start by developing a relationship with a supplier you can trust. Try to deal with suppliers either who distill their own material or who deal directly with reputable distillers. Suppliers usually will provide a small sample of the oil for you to check before purchasing larger quantities.

2. Use the Latin names. Order by the Latin name, and always check labels for the correct botanical name.

3. Perform your own tests. Make sure the oil is pure and not extended or diluted by using the organoleptic testing techniques we have learned so far. Educate your olfactory senses: Smell, taste, feel, and look at oils from many different samples and sources to gain experience.

4. Do not rely on price as an indicator of quality. Be aware that a higher price does not necessarily mean a higher quality. It is important to check all oils thoroughly regardless of the price. Note that a price that is very low comparatively may indicate that an oil is not as labeled, is diluted in a base oil, or is otherwise adulterated. Many expensive oils, such as rose and neroli, are sold diluted in a base oil such as sweet almond.

5. Gas chromatographs. Gas chromatography (GC), mass spectrometry (MS), and similar additive-revealing techniques can analyze oils. This can be particularly helpful when purchasing large quantities. However, chemical analysis does not always reveal the presence of adulterants and an experienced technician must carry out the analysis of the MS. In addition, a GC must be conducted for each batch, so the cost can be very prohibitive for small distillers. A GC is not always a guarantee of quality. One test does not replace another. It is best to use all available tests in combination.

6. Organoleptic testing is still the ultimate test. Build your experience. The very best way to gain experience and familiarity with pure essential oils is to sample as many pure oils and synthetic oils as possible and document the differences.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Essential Oils for Winter

As winter unfolds its many surprises--cold temperatures and short, gray days among them--it's a great time to enjoy adding warming and uplifting essential oils into your seasonal blends. Warming essential oils like cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum and ginger Zingiber officinale have fresh, spicy aromas that blend well with citrus oils like grapefruit. Citrus oils are pleasant to use during the winter season because their fresh, uplifting scents can help support healthy emotional well-being.

Air Purification Formula with Cinnamon Essential Oil
  • Clove Syzygium aromaticum oil: 3-drops
  • Cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum oil: 3-drops
  • Lavender Lavandula angustifolia oil: 3-drops
  • Peppermint Mentha piperita oil: 3-drops
  • Pine Pinus sylvestris oil: 3-drops
  • Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis oil: 3-drops
  • Thyme Thymus vulgaris oil: 3-drops
  • Water (distilled): ½-oz
  • Alcohol: ½-oz
Directions: Mix the essential oils with the distilled water and ethyl alcohol in a 1-oz amber bottle. Place in a pump-action atomizer or blend 5-10-drops of each of the oils, and place in a vaporizer.

More information about cinnamon, ginger, and grapefruit essential oils to come!

*This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, heal, or prevent disease. You should always consult with your primary care physician, a naturopathic doctor, or a Registered Aromatherapist before making any significant changes in your health and wellness routine.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Essential Oil of Vitex May Ease Symptoms of PMS and Menopause

Vitex Vitex agnus-castus, also called chaste tree and monk's pepper, is from the family Verbenaceae. A perennial, deciduous shrub, vitex grows to about 6-18 feet high and can spread to about 15 feet. The leaves are dark green, the flowers are small and lilac, and the berries are red- black with a spicy, aromatic flavor and aroma.

Historically, vitex is said to have been chewed by monks to help preserve their celibacy. There are also reports mentioning its use in Greek rituals, as well as the practice of carrying twigs for protection against dangers and to signify chastity.

Vitex essential oil is a pale to dark-yellow color and has a strong aroma, but is not traditionally used in perfumery. The fruit, or berries, are used to produce the oil, which includes the active constituents limonene, 1,8-cineol, pinene, carophyllene, and sabinene.

Therapeutically, vitex essential oil is thought to have hormonal effects, such as support for the relief of common menopausal symptoms[1] and PMS[2], and may also have antibacterial and antifungal effects.

To learn more about vitex, read the full-text article "Essential Oil of Vitex May Ease Symptoms of PMS and Menopause," which originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of the ACHS Reporter HERE.

1 Lucks, B. (2003). Vitex agnus castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a research update. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery Vol 9, Issue 3 148-154.
2. (2009). The premenstrual syndrome: effectiveness of Vitex agnus castus. Med Monatsschr Pharm. May; 32(5): 186-91.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Compresses an Effective Way to Use Essential Oils

Did you know compresses are a very effective way to use essential oils?

Typically made from gauze or a similar soft material, a compress can be applied with pressure to specific parts of the body to help control hemorrhage, help relieve pain-related symptoms, or support the body's natural defenses against infection. For example, cold compresses are traditionally used with sprains, localized swelling, blisters, insect bites, stings, bruises, and headaches; hot compresses are traditionally used with abscesses, boils, cystitis, and dysmenorrhea.

A simple method for using essential oils with compresses is to:
  • Add 6 drops of essential oil to 9 oz of water. (Use ice water for cold compresses and boiling water for hot ones.) First pour the water into a bowl, and then add the oil.
  • Saturate a clean piece of unbleached muslin (or similar cloth, such as clean cotton) in the mixture, wring out, and apply.
For use with a cold compress, here are some example essential oils you may want to investigate further:
  • With sprains: Peppermint, chamomile, eucalyptus, ginger, lavender, pine, rose, and rosemary
  • With bruises: Eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, lavender, and peppermint
  • With localized swelling: Ginger, rose, and rosemary
For use with hot compresses, here are some example essential oils you may want to investigate further:
  • With abscesses and boils: Bergamot, eucalyptus, rose, manuka, and tea tree Australia
  • With menstrual pain: Chamomile, clary sage, lavender, peppermint, rose, and rosemary
For more information about using essential oils with compresses, download our free ACHS holistic health Wellness Guide HERE. In the guide, you'll also find several pages of information about using aromatherapy essential oils in the home and as a tool to support optimal health and wellness.

* This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, heal, or prescribe. A primary care physician, naturopathic physician, or Registered Aromatherapist should be consulted before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Benefit Of DIY Natural Homemade Gifts

BY Keoi Magill, ACHS Graduate Certificate in Aromatherapy

We all have much to gain by making our own homemade natural gifts. Anyone can run into a store and buy something off the shelf. But, when you put the time, thought, and energy into making gifts for those you love, the receiver knows that they are special to you.

By using natural materials you are also promoting a green lifestyle. Giving gifts that are natural to friends who have not experienced the benefits of organic products can be quite the eye opener. You will be introducing an eco-friendly lifestyle to someone who may be inexperienced. Plus, typically it costs more to purchase something already made, so you will save money as well.

Making DIY natural gifts can reduce stress. With all the hustle and bustle that life throws at us, spending the time doing something creative can be a form of meditation, calming and exhilarating you all at the same time. It can remove the worry about duplicating something your loved ones already have: your gift is original and one of a kind.

Handmade gifts can be problem solvers and time savers, especially for those on our holiday list who we never know what to give. No more wandering around trying to find that just-right gift. As long as we follow good manufacturing practices, quality assurance is guaranteed when we make natural gifts. We know that our gifts are toxic free and will not harm the environment or our family and friends.

In the truest spirit of the holiday season, there is nothing that we can do that is more rewarding than to make do-it-yourself homemade natural gifts.

For a free holiday recipe book, download the Apothecary Shoppe Holiday Recipe Guide HERE.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Re-Coloring Black Friday with Aromatherapy

BY Keoi Magill, ACHS Certificate in Aromatherapy Graduate

On Black Friday (November 26), we have less than a month until the presents will be unwrapped. With all the gifts to be purchased, parties to plan, cards to write and holiday cooking, we just don’t seem to have time to spend taking care of ourselves. You can dial down your holiday stress and achieve balance with aromatherapy. Here are a few simple and easy ways to sail through the holiday season.

Before you go out shopping put a few drops of lavender oil Lavendula angustifolia, on a cotton ball. Just breathe in the calming aroma whenever you need it. Another way is to add the lavender to 4 oz of distilled water and spray yourself with a fine mist. It will help reduce your stress and alleviate irritability.

Add a drop or two of peppermint oil Mentha piperita, to your favorite body lotion and rub it into your feet. It will help invigorate and refresh your tired feet and help with exhaustion.

Make a blend of bergamot Citrus bergamia, peppermint Mentha piperita, and cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum, and diffuse on a lamp ring or ceramic diffuser throughout your home before a party. Not only will it help reduce your anxiety and nervousness, it smells festive and inviting.

When you are wrapping presents or writing out your holiday cards, diffuse or use a cotton ball with a few drops of rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis and neroli Citrus aurantium var. amara. These two oils are great together for mental clarity and to help ward off depression.

The holiday season doesn’t have to be black when you can open your crayon box of essential oils and in minutes color yourself balanced.

To learn more about aromatherapy and essential oils, download your free copy of "History of Aromatherapy" HERE.

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe, or cure. See you primary care physician before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

5 Essential Oils in 5 Minutes or Less: Our Top 5 Picks for Fall

If you could only pick five essential oils to use for the rest of your life, which would they be? Don’t worry … we can’t answer that question either! But we can recommend five of our favorite essential oils to keep on hand this fall. Here’s a snapshot introduction to our top five picks.

1. Cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum has a spicy aroma and is considered a base to middle note. It blends well with frankincense, orange, and peppermint, forming a lovely seasonal scent. Medicinally, cinnamon has antiseptic, antispasmodic, and bactericidal qualities, making it an effective air purifier. Blend cinnamon with some of our other favorites (like clove, lavender, and peppermint) to create a room spray that’s both seasonal and germicidal.

2. Clove Syzygium aromaticum was an important commodity for the Greeks and Romans and was heavily traded. Clove bud oil has been shown to inhibit the production of free radicals and to have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Recent studies have highlighted its use especially for oral hygiene. Another good oil for travel! You can add 2 drops of the essential oil to 1 cup of water to make an on-hand mouthwash. For aromatherapeutic blends, clove imparts a fresh top note and blends well with bergamot, lavender, vanilla, and ylang ylang.

Read about our other picks--eucalyptus, tea tree Australia, and vetiver--in the October issue of our enewsletter, The Reporter. Download The Reporter HERE.

Help us spread the word about aromatherapy. Use the share button to email this article to a friend. Post a link to your Facebook. Send a tweet. And ... thanks!

*This information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Practical Aromatherapy: Using Aromatherapy to Help Attract Home Buyers

Experts say selling your home takes a little luck and a lot of preparation. With a gaggle of homes currently on the market, spending that extra time to make the best first impression may make all the difference. It certainly couldn’t hurt!

To prepare your home, realtors suggest taking several steps to present an organized, clutter-free and clean home, including cleaning out your drawers and cabinets, making minor repairs, and deep cleaning.

Part of deep cleaning is scent. For example, it’s important to clean out drains so they look nice, but also because hidden debris can encourage mold and an accompanying musty smell. A little tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil diluted in water can be an effective, chemical-free alternative to more traditional cleaning products. Plus, it smells better than synthetic cleaners and room sprays used to mask odors.

You may also want to diffuse some essential oil into the air before you show your home. This can help to freshen the air and to encourage a positive first impression. There are many essential oils to choose from, but you may want to select an oil that has general appeal, that is a familiar, and that is uplifting, such as bergamot (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), mandarin (Citrus reticulata), neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara), and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata).

Watch Aromatherapy Blending from ACHStv next!