I was recently asked about adding essential oils to vinegar to make a more effective cleaning solution. My response was that it's not a good idea to add essential oils to vinegar, and that the vinegar by itself is enough. Then I began to wonder about adding herbs to the vinegar - would they enhance the antibacterial/antiviral properties of vinegar? Let's find out. We'll start with why it's not a good idea to add EOs to vinegar, discuss just how good vinegar is for cleaning, and finally discover the effects of infusing herbs into vinegar.
If you've ever made an oil and vinegar salad dressing, you know that oils separate from vinegar. The two do not stay mixed. The same thing happens when you mix essential oils and vinegar. The EOs are not diluted by the vinegar, so surfaces sprayed with such a mix would get undiluted oils on them. Often, DIY recipes that recommend using EOs in this way suggest using oils like oregano, sage, and basil. These are great disinfecting EOs, but they're very harsh on the skin (they actually damage skin cells) - both yours and your pets. To dilute the EOs sufficiently, you would need to mix them in a liquid soap (like Dawn) first, then add that to the vinegar. But, in that case, why not just use the soap? Soap is great at killing germs.
Vinegar, by itself, is pretty good at killing germs too. It kills about 80 - 83% of viruses and about 90% of bacteria. If you spray the vinegar, wash it off with a clean, wet cloth, then spray with 70% isopropyl alcohol and allow the surface to air dry, you will have killed nearly all of the germs. There are a couple of difficulties with this right now. Lots of people are cleaning surfaces frequently throughout the day because of COVID-19 -- this makes rubbing alcohol hard to find in the stores, and breathing in too much rubbing alcohol can damage our lungs. Well, what is a simple, safe way (other than soap and water) to disinfect surfaces? Will vinegar be more effective if it's been infused with herbs?
It turns out that the answer is yes. So, instead of adding harsh essential oils, you can infuse herbs into vinegar. Thyme, oregano, peels from citrus fruits, lavender, rosemary, and sage are all great herbs to infuse into vinegar. Once infused, the vinegar is augmented with the antibacterial and antiviral properties of the herb(s) used! An herb-infused vinegar, imho, makes a great household cleaner!
Next week, under 'Monthly Tidbits', I'll give directions and a video tutorial for making your own herb-infused vinegar.
It's Spring in the northern hemisphere, and plants are reviving everywhere. What you see pictured above are three of the earliest plants to start blooming. Many consider them to be pesky weeds and do everything in their power to get rid of them. Yet, they are highly nutritious and provide us with a free source of food.
The first picture is one that most people recognize easily - Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). The second is not nearly as famous, though it's just as nutritious - Chickweed (Stellaria media). The third is a Dandelion look-alike called Sow Thistle (Soncha oleraceus). All three plants are growing in my yard right now. All three are plants I will harvest responsibly from my front yard (which hasn't been treated with toxic chemicals) and use for food in the coming months. I'll enjoy the sweet leaves and flowers in salads while the plants are still young. By Summer, those leaves will become too bitter to eat fresh, so I'll dry them and store them for use in Autumn and Winter. The roots of the cousin plants - the Dandelion and the Sow Thistle - can be dried and made into tea. They are bitter, but full of vitamins and minerals.
The best part of all of this is that over the Spring, Summer, and Fall, a variety of different "weeds" will grow where I can harvest them, then use them in meals and in my home emergency kit.
If your yard hasn't been treated with harsh pesticides and/or herbicides, you may be able to harvest your own plants. Before you do though, make certain to identify those herbs - there are lots of look-alike plants, and some are toxic. To help you with identifying plants in your yard, there are several plant id apps and many books you can use. Wild Edible Plants of Texas and Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest by Charles W. Kane, Southwest Foraging by John Slattery, Botany in a Day, an Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America by Thomas Elpel, and Backyard Medicine Second Edition by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal are books that I find very helpful. In addition, renowned herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt has a new book, Wild Remedies, coming in April. It can be pre-ordered now on Amazon. She also has a FB page you can join once you order the book. On that page, she offers special previews of what's coming in the book, and you can ask all kinds of questions about the plants you encounter in your own yard.
Our immune systems are designed to "remember" pathogens and how to fight them after we encounter them for the first time. This 'memory' is why we become immune to certain diseases once we've had them or been vaccinated against them. Then, why do we catch certain illnesses multiple times? Likewise, why do we need to repeat some vaccinations? Unfortunately for us, some of these invaders survive by mutating. These mutations are the reason we can get the same illness over and over again. Let's take a more detailed look at how this works in regards to the flu.
There are thousands of variations of flu viruses! These variations are broken down into four types - A, B, C, and D. Type A affects human beings and animals; types B and C affect humans only; and type D affects only cattle and pigs. Let's look at each type of human flu individually.
We'll start with, type C, which causes only mild respiratory symptoms like stuffy nose, coughing, headache, congestion, etc. Scientists do not believe it's responsible for seasonal epidemics, and, because it tends to be rare and mild, flu vaccines are not designed to protect against it.
Type B flu is usually mild, but can get severe. It is one of the strains responsible for seasonal epidemics and is included in flu vaccines. Type B flu is divided into two 'lineages' then into smaller groups and finally into subgroups.
Type A is the most dangerous of the flu viruses. It affects humans and a variety of animals, and is responsible for both epidemics and pandemics (worldwide epidemics). This category of flu is divided into subtypes of both hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, which are surface proteins, and is further broken down into groups and subgroups. While there are nearly 200 possible subtype combinations for Type A flu, only two are seen on a regular basis - A(H1N1) and A(H3N2), and they are included in the annual flu vaccine. Because type A can jump from species to species, it has the potential to mutate much more drastically than types B or C. This is why type A is the only type of flu that creates pandemics.
[A(H1N1) refers to Influenza Virus A hemagglutinin 1, neuraminidase 1. You might remember H1N1 from 2009 - it was referred to as 'Swine Flu'. This particular strain of flu started out infecting pigs. It mutated and jumped to humans. Since it had never infected humans before, it became pandemic fairly quickly because human immune systems had to learn how to defeat it. It's full designation is H1N1 pdm09. Interestingly, and tragically, the flu pandemic of 1918 was an avian version - also an H1N1 flu that jumped from birds to humans.]
The thing about flu is that each new generation of viruses being produced in your epithelial cells has mutated from its parent virus because it has added small bits of your cellular genetic information to its own! Your immune system has to keep adapting to each new generation in order to effectively fight it. In addition, if you cough or sneeze near someone, the virus particles you spread to that person are slightly different from the virus particles that initially made you sick. If a mutation is similar enough to a strain you've had before or been vaccinated against, your immune system is likely able to recognize it and is better able to fight it before it can become severe. Larger mutations, on the other hand, (like the ones that jump species) create a greater chance of causing severe illness and spreading more widely.
The constant mutations occurring among the various types of flu make it impossible for scientists to 'cure' the flu. The best they can do is look at historical patterns of infection and try to predict what next year's version(s) will be. The pharmaceutical companies create their vaccines based on these predictions. The vaccines contain weakened or dead virions from Types A(H1N1), A(H3N2), and one of the two Type B lineages. If they predict correctly, your Flu Vaccine helps you avoid the flu; however, if the prediction is wrong, or if the mutation(s) are too great, you may still catch it.
We can take the information we now know about the flu and extend it to a virus that is causing new, global concern: Corona Virus. Next week's Monthly Tidbits blog will look at what scientists know about the new Corona Virus.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; How the Flu Virus Can Change: “Drift” and “Shift”, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Page last reviewed: October 15, 2019, Accessed February 12, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Influenza Virus Genome Sequencing and Genetic Characterization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Page last reviewed: October 15, 2019, Accessed February 12, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Types of Influenza Viruses, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Page last reviewed: November 18, 2019, Accessed February 12, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm
4. Butje, Andrea, Viruses and the Immune System: Influenza, Aroma Institute School of Essential Oil Studies, Accessed February 12, 2020, https://www.aromahead.com/online-course/viruses-and-the-immune-system/reference/general-reference/influenza
5. WebMD, Types of Flu, WebMD LLC. , © 2005 - 2020, Accessed February 12, 2020, https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/advanced-reading-types-of-flu-viruses#1
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; How Influenze (Flu) Vaccines are Made, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Page last reviewed: December 12, 2019, Accessed February 17, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/how-fluvaccine-made.htm
7. Ana Mosterín Höpping, Judith M. Fonville, Colin A. Russell, Sarah James, Derek J. Smith, Influenza B vaccine lineage selection—An optimized trivalent vaccine
Vaccine. 2016 Mar 18; 34(13): 1617–1622. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.01.042
PMCID: PMC4793086, Accessed February 17, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4793086/
Before you read this, I need to give a warning that there are graphic pictures at the end of the blog.
In early October 2019, I had a spot (that looked like a mosquito bite) come up on my right arm. I didn't pay any attention to it until about two weeks later when I realized that it hadn't gone away, and it had gotten bigger. So I looked at it more closely. This was no bug bite. It was red and white with brown spots - and looked like a small paw print. My regular doctor check up was scheduled for a couple of days later, so I asked him about it then. He thought it was sun damage and referred me to a dermatologist for a whole-body check because I have so many keratosis spots. Image 1 below is the spot on my right arm taken on November 2.
I started taking pictures because the earliest appointment I could get with a dermatologist was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. In the meantime, I decided to make a skin serum and apply it to whatever this was. If my serum helped, I wanted to be able to show the doctor what it looked like before I got in to see her. Long story short, this lesion turned out to be a Lichenoid keratosis. Because my serum helped, there wasn't much for the doctor to see - my pics allowed her to make a clear diagnosis without biopsy. Image 2 shows what this one looks like now.
That was the good news. During the whole-body check, the doctor did find two other spots of concern - one was a small, hard bump on the back of my leg and the other was a red area on my upper left arm. In the 90s, that patch of skin on my arm had turned pure white - no freckles or pigment at all. In the last two to three years, it turned pinkish-red and a little scaly.
The doctor took a biopsy from each spot and told me that, because of the holiday, it might take up to two weeks before the results came back. When she called the following Monday, I knew it was a bad sign. The spot on my leg was fine. The spot on my upper left arm was melanoma -- the more dangerous kind of skin cancer. Melanoma is not something to try and cure with food, herbs, or essential oils. It needs a surgeon. (Part of my "Hierarchy of Treatment" philosophy.) Image 3 shows the melanoma after the biopsy. The scab in the middle is from the biopsy. The red skin surrounding the scab is the cancer. There is still a white (no pigment) area around the outside edge of the melanoma.
I am extremely fortunate that this was very slow growing and only Stage 1 because cutting it out is a 100% cure. Surgery was December 16, and I am considered cured. Had this progressed to stage 2 or higher, much more treatment would have been required, and the chances of cure would have been lower.
With melanoma, there is a special type of surgery called "Moh's Procedure". The surgeon removes the lesion and sends it for immediate biopsy. The incision is bandaged and the patient waits for results. If there isn't enough margin of clear skin, (biopsy results will specify the edge that isn't clear) the bandage is removed and the surgeon excises more from the indicated area(s). This is repeated until the proper margin of normal skin cells is achieved. Once it is attained, the surgeon has to cut more skin out to be able to close and stitch the incision. (A round or oval excision can't just be stitched together - darts have to be cut at opposite sides to allow it to be closed and stitched.) Image 4 below shows the open incision before the darts were cut (the purple marker indicates the darts (triangle shapes) he cut right after the picture was taken), and Image 5 shows the final stitching.
The open incision may look gross to some, but it's also interesting, and pertinent to visualize why oils absorb into our skin so well. The white, wormy-looking tissue is a layer of fat -- part of the hypodermis. We also have lipid (fat) cells in our skin. Oils and butters are also fats, and fats attract fats.
You may ask "Why didn't you get this spot checked sooner?"
My answer is simple -- I never knew that a patch of pink/red skin was a warning sign. I knew that a mole that changed shape or got darker needed to be checked. I knew that something that looks like a big wart with blood vessels in it needed to be checked. I knew that something that has irregular edges and is multicolor needed to be checked. Even now, when I google 'melanoma images', I find pictures of a lot of things - none of which are a patch of red skin that looks like what I had on my arm. And this is why I'm sharing my experience and my pictures with you. If you, or someone you know, develop an area of unusual pink or red skin, go get it checked. Melanoma is a skin cancer that can spread to the lymph system and to internal organs. It can be deadly.
My journey with melanoma was short -- just a few weeks from diagnosis to cure. Follow-up will take longer. I'll have skin checks every three months for two years, then every six months for two or three years, then annually for the rest of my life. I will also need to take a few precautions like keeping my skin covered when I'm out in the sun.
Because of this experience, I've made some new goals for this website for 2020: I'll research the various types of skin cancer and keratosis lesions in depth and share what I learn through my blogs. I'll also experiment with all natural skin serums and butters to support my skin health and to try to minimize development and appearance of my keratosis spots.
Update: This is a picture of the scar 28 days post op. The red area with the small scabs is where the large area was excised and the skin is still stretching. I've been using a salve I made with carrier oils only plus a lotion with carrier oils and CBD added. The scar is still puckered, but healing nicely. In an effort to help the part of my skin that is still stretching, I apply the salve and the lotion to a wide area of my arm.
I'm back from a two week vacation and feeling refreshed. :)
I'm making a few changes to my blogging. In order to keep up with both the free blogs and the membership informational pages, I'll be writing one free blog per week.
I'll keep to the following schedule:
1st week of the month: Herb of the Month
2nd week of the month: Essential Oil of the Month
3rd week of the month: Karen's Blog
4th week of the month: Monthly Tidbit.
In addition, I'll try to coordinate my blogs as much as possible in order to provide a more in-depth view of individual plant therapeutics. For example, if the herb of the month is Sage, the EO of the month would also be sage. The monthly tidbit would be a little known fact about Sage. On the other hand, Karen's Blog will focus on different topics and/or questions others ask me.
Please feel free to contact me and let me know if you have specific topics you'd like to see covered!
Last week, we were introduced to the concept of affinity between plant parts and human parts and systems. This week, we'll create plant blends based on the parts.
When blending by plant part, we can include just one part - like leaves, or we can include multiple parts - like roots, stems and flowers. The body systems we're trying to support (to bring into balance) will determine the plant parts we choose. We can also make blends that contain every part of a plant.
One Plant Part
Leaves for Respiratory Congestion: Medium - Essential Oils
Diffuser blend, inhaler blend, steam blend, or topical application:
Here, we have essential oils distilled from leaves. Geranium works on respiratory infections and will protect the skin/mucous membranes from the harshness of the Peppermint and Ravintsara. Peppermint with its menthol, and Ravintsara with 1,8-cineole will reduce swelling and open the airways. (This blend is appropriate for ages 10 and older.)
These oils could be added to a carrier oil mix of Castor Oil, Tamanu Oil, and Andiroba Oil to use on the chest and throat. While the carriers add the part of seeds to the blend, they are chosen for therapeutic properties as well -- including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral. Castor oil will improve absorption of the entire blend.
Multiple Plant Parts
Resin, stems/wood, flowers, and seeds for circulation and blood pressure:
Medium - Essential & Carrier Oils
Cedarwood -- wood
Frankincense -- resin
Myrrh -- resin
Ylang Ylang -- flowers
Hemp Seed Oil -- seeds
Optional: cocoa butter, shea butter, and/or a wax if you prefer this to be a solid rub.
Resins and stems correspond to circulation - both blood and lymph. The flowers correspond to the heart and circulation. All of the essential oils in this blend stimulate circulation and lower blood pressure. Hemp Seed oil reduces inflammation which may also help with increasing circulation. It may also help lower cholesterol.
All plant parts: Medium - Herbs
Whole Body Anti-inflammatory Herbal Tea (also a good tea if you're sick!)
cardamom -- seeds - warming, drying, pungent, sweet, bitter
Ginger -- root - warming, drying. pungent
Cinnamon -- bark/stem - neutral/warming, drying, spicy, sweet
peppermint -- leaves - cooling & warming, drying, pungent
lavender -- flowers - warming, neutral, pungent, bitter
elderberries -- fruit - cooling, drying, sour
Each herb in this tea blend is anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, and antiviral. Notice the additional notes include more than the plant parts. Every herb has properties that warm you up or cool you down and those that moisten your tissues or dry you out. Of the five flavors, this blend includes all but salty. This is also intentional and will have an impact on the person drinking the tea.
So this is a good tea for someone with arthritis who usually feels cold and damp. It is also an excellent tea to drink in the case of illness when chills and wet, boggy conditions are present. We can use a 'whole plant' approach to address 'whole body' conditions like arthritis or illness. (We can also use this approach to address 'single issues'.)
Now that we've looked at using plant parts to formulate blends you're ready to experiment with this on your own! Try some simple blends at first, then get more adventurous! (Please remember to check for any safety considerations first.) Have fun, and let me know what you come up with!
In the past, we've focused on blending essential oils and herbs based on their chemistry. Today, we'll explore a different method of blending - by plant part.
Think of a plant. Think of its parts and what they do.
Roots anchor the plant to the earth and hold it steady through good weather and bad. They absorb nutrients from the soil and send them up to the rest of the plant.
Resin/Gum is the lifeblood of the plant and carries the nutrients to all of its parts.
Stems are the skeleton and blood vessels. As the skeleton, the stem is strong enough to resist breaking so the plant stands upright, yet flexible enough to allow the plant to bend in rough weather The stem also houses conduits to circulate water and nutrients to all parts of the plant.
Leaves breathe and sweat for the plant. They take in carbon dioxide and sunlight, then produce glucose (which gives the plant energy) and exhale oxygen.
Flowers attract insects through color and aroma. This attraction leads to pollination and fertilization, and the flower’s primary duty – reproduction.
Fruits protect and nourish the seed during its early days of germination until the ‘baby’ is able to sustain itself.
Seeds are the plant’s embryos. They drop from the plant and, when conditions are right, grow into new plants.
In aromatherapy and in herbalism, one method of deciding what ingredients to put in a blend is to match a plant part to the body part and function we’re endeavoring to support. Let’s look at how this works.
Someone who is highly stressed or lacks proper nutrition may find grounding and nutritional support from the roots of plants. Angelica, Vetiver, and Valerian are roots with calming, grounding properties. Dandelion, carrots, and radishes provide a plethora of vitamins and minerals we need to survive.
When blood or lymph is stagnant, a person may feel tired, bogged down, or sick. Resins like Frankincense, Myrrh, Copaiba, and Opopanax all have the potential to support healthy blood and lymph circulation. Improved circulation allows the body to heal faster so that person has more energy and feels better.
Often, the stems used in aromatherapy are wooden. Sandalwood, Palo Santo, Cedarwood, and Rosewood are good examples. The oils from these stems have analgesic and relaxant properties that may provide relief from muscle and joint issues and from acute injuries. They support our skeletal system. Like the resins, they also support circulation, encouraging blood flow to an injured area for faster healing.
When there is congestion (sinus or lungs), breathing clearly is the function one wants to bolster. In this case, the best option may be choosing herbs or essential oils that are made from the breathing part of the plant – the leaves. Think of Peppermint, Sage, Eucalyptus, and the evergreen leaves like Pine and Spruce. The aroma alone for all of these can open the airways and promote respiration.
Flowers provide a great deal more than perfume - though their aromas may inspire romance and reproduction in humans. Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Chamomile, and Jasmine, with their incredible fragrances, have the ability to calm and uplift a troubled spirit. They open the heart to peace and love. Those who are angry or tense can benefit from these florals.
As they nourish the seeds, fruits also nourish us. Apples, lemons, oranges, elderberries, and rosehips provide us with vitamins (especially vitamin C) to support and strengthen the immune and skeletal systems. People with demanding schedules and constant exposure to colds and flu may boost their energy and immunity with fruit.
Sunflower seeds, pecans, cashews, and chia seeds provide protein and other nutrients to support growth and maintain health. Oils made from seeds flavor our foods and nourish our bodies and skin. Cooking with the right seed oils provides the body with essential fatty acids that balance the inflammatory process. Using them on the skin may help regenerate skin cells. The seeds and their oils work to rejuvenate damaged cells. Seed butters and oils are good for baby's diaper rash, mature skin, and everything in between the two.
Now that we understand the affinity between plant and human parts, we can begin to design formulations based on them. Some of those blends may include only one part, i.e. leaves, while others may combine different parts for a greater effect. Next week's blog will go into more detail and specific examples of blending by plant part.
We can throw in everything but the kitchen sink, but keeping a blend simple is often a great deal more effective. There's no need to use 15 or 20 different essential oils, carrier oils, or herbs in a blend. In fact, doing so may reduce the efficacy of the blend. Let's look at how this works by creating a moisturizing serum for dry, mature skin with age spots.
First, we make lists of EOs, herbs, and carriers that are moisturizing for the skin. (These lists include ingredients I already have on hand.)
Off the top of my head, I know that Patchouli, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Geranium, Helichrysum italicum, Hemp, Ylang Ylang, Carrot Seed, and Vetiver are all great skin oils. Could I make a serum that includes all of these?
Certainly, and it would be an example of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink.
Since essential oils in a leave-on product should be limited to about 1%, putting all of these essential oils in would mean each oil would only be 0.07% of the blend. That means there's not enough of any one constituent to make much of a difference.
For a serum, herbs would be infused into carrier oils. On hand right now, I have Helichrysum stoechas, Lavender, Arnica, Calendula, St. John's Wort, Amla berries, Ginger, Comfrey Leaf, Comfrey Root, Plantain Leaf, Aloe, and Greater Galangal herbs infused in different oils -- Safflower, Olive, Castor, and Jojoba. To make our serum, the Helichrysum, Aloe, Lavender, Plantain, Amla, Calendula, and Comfrey are all great herbs for a skin serum. Using all 7, would be the kitchen sink method. We need to pare this list down to one, two, or three herbs.
Our carrier oil list will be huge. Jojoba, Castor, Hemp Seed, Andiroba, Olive, Safflower, Sea Buckthorn Berry, Sacha Inchi, Avocado, Black Currant Seed, Borage, Black Seed (Nigella), Coconut, Cherry Kernal, Cranberry Seed, Evening Primrose, Macadamia Nut, Meadowfoam, Neem, Pumpkin Seed, Red Raspberry Seed, Rosehip and many more. Again, it would be unreasonably complicated (and another kitchen sink example) to use all of these oils in our serum.
Okay, so how do we narrow it all down?
Excellent question. This is when we start looking at chemistry, energetics, and aromas and match them to the person. With essential oils, we have the recipient of the serum smell the different oils, and choose the ones (s)he most loves -- up to 4 to 6 oils (could be less). We then pull out the chemistry and EO datasheets and evaluate the chemical composition. With herbs, we'll choose 1 - 3 and use our herb and chemical datasheets to put next to the EO datasheets. Next, we do the same for the carrier oils. We may choose to use carriers that have already been infused with herbs. or we may decide to infuse our chosen herbs in our chosen carriers.
Now, to formulate. We'll make a 1 oz serum. That means a max of 6 drops of essential oil to keep it at 1%. Even though the essential oils are listed first, we'll start with our carrier oils.
We're choosing Hemp Seed Oil as the base oil because it has a perfect balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 Fatty Acids. It has the ability to restore moisture and to heal and protect skin cells from damage. It absorbs quickly and easily and has a light, pleasant aroma. The one drawback with this oil is its short shelf life.
Hemp Seed's short shelf life influences the next carrier oil selection. Meadowfoam moisturizes the skin and adds protection from the sun. It has a high percentage of very long-chain Fatty Acids and Vitamin E which means it will help preserve less stable oils in the serum. It will significantly slow the oxidation process of the Hemp Seed Oil and any essential oils.
Finally, we'll add Castor Oil. Castor oil hydrates the skin and can help toughen fragile skin to make it less prone to cuts. It carries the therapeutic properties of all of our ingredients deeply into all the layers of the skin. This oil will be infused with the one herb we're going to use -- Aloe. Aloe is renowned throughout the world for it's moisturizing, skin-healing properties.
After checking therapeutic properties, chemistry, aromas, and energetics, we've decided on 3 essential oils. For this blend, we'll use equal amounts (two drops each) of Frankincense carterii, Myrrh, and Geranium essential oils. Therapeutically, all of these oils have moisturizing, skin healing, and skin-cell regenerating properties.
Now, we look at all seven of our ingredients and decide on quantities of each. We write it as a recipe.
.75 oz (22.5 mL) Hemp Seed Oil
0.1 oz (3 mL) Meadowfoam Oil
0.15 oz (4.5 mL) Castor Oil infused with Aloe Vera
2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
2 drops Myrrh Essential Oil
2 drops Geranium Essential Oil
This is a simple, elegant formula, and every ingredient is designed to help moisturize and beautify dry, mature skin with age spots. The final step will be to test it and see if the recipient likes it.
Note: The Topical Recipes section of this website has instructions for how to infuse herbs into oils. Become a member and gain access to this and the many other great resources!
If you work with herbs, essential oils, carrier oils, or any combination of these, this is the place you can come to get the information you need on all of them.
One thing I have learned (and mentioned in prior blogs) is that when I'm creating new blends, EVERY ingredient needs to be chosen with the purpose of the blend in mind. Blends are much more effective when the herbs, EOs, and carrier oils are chosen based on coordinating the therapeutic benefits each provides.
This may sound like, and should be, a simple thing. Often, it is simple because I use oils and herbs that I've studied and that are quite familiar to me. Other times, I spend hours researching in multiple books, websites, and courses to find and learn about herbs, EOs, and carrier oils that are new to me. I have bookshelves filled with notebooks and binders with all the notes I've written, all the printouts from courses I've taken, and all the recipes I've developed. I have stacks of notecards I created for quick reference. The hunt from one source to the next to the next in order to get and/or verify the details of each ingredient in a new blend can take a great deal of time.
This became the reason for the creation of the membership portion of this website. I've created datasheets that include the important information that takes a ton of time to find. These datasheets are designed to be printed and saved for quick, thorough reference and will be updated periodically with any new information that comes to light.
There are currently 20 Herb Datasheets, 20 Essential Oil Datasheets, 21 Carrier Oil Datasheets, and 12 Chemistry Datasheets (5 Each for EO and carrier oils, and 2 for herbs). Three more herb chemistry Datasheets will be added this week. That means 73 datasheets today and 76 by this Friday! At least one new datasheet for each category plus datasheets on specific safety topics will be added every month. In addition, you'll have access to topical and edible recipes.
Future plans for the membership include short "how to" videos, chemistry videos, and blending process videos. I will also set up a members-only, private Facebook page for discussions and questions. All of this is included with your membership!
The cost is $30 for a monthly subscription or $300 for an annual subscription. (That's approximately a 17% savings over a monthly subscription.) Once created, individual video classes will run from $34.95 - $149.95 for non-members, but will be included free in your membership!
So, why is membership a good deal for you?
To get all of this information, you would need to purchase separate memberships with herbal sites, aromatherapy sites, and carrier oil sites. These memberships, on average, cost around $25 - $50 monthly or $250 - $500 annually.
With this website, you get all three fields of study plus the chemistry, the safety, the recipes, and a whole lot more! Your savings will be at least $1,000 a year!
To celebrate the launch of the membership section, I'm offering an additional 15% off the price of your monthly or annual membership. That means you'll only pay $25.50 for your first monthly subscription or $255 for your first annual subscription!
This special promotion is good until midnight on September 30, 2019.
To join today, simply go to the Membership section on Home & Store page and choose your option. Then enter Coupon Code Welcome when prompted.
I'm going to give you a preview of what you'll get with your membership. Below is one of the Carrier Oil Datasheets you'll find in the membership section.
Carrier Oil Datasheet
by Karen Dragoo Updated August 18, 2019
Oil: Neem Oil
Latin Name: Azadirachta indica
INCI: Azadirachta indica (Neem) Seed Oil
INCI Soap: Sodium Neemate
Other Names: Indian Lilac, Nim, Margosa
Plant Family: Meliaceae (Mahogany family)
Related to: Mahogany
Where it’s grown: Native to India. Now grows in tropical areas of Africa and Asia.
Plant Part: Seed
Method of Extraction: cold pressed
Therapeutic Properties: antibacterial, antifungal, antihistiminic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, antipyretic, antiseptic, antiviral, cicatrisant, emollient, skin cell regenerative
Traditional & Common Uses:
Integumentary: (skin, hair, nails): acne, Athlete's Foot, burns, cold sores, dry skin, eczema, fungal conditions, improve elasticity, insect repellent, irritated skin, itchy skin, lice, mature skin, moisturize, prevent free radical damage, prevent moisture loss, nail fungus, protect and restore the skin barrier, psoriasis, rashes, reduce redness, rejuvenate cells, ringworm, salves, scars, smooth pigmentation, soaps, warts, wrinkles, wounds
Immune: boost the immune system, may help protect against certain kinds of cancer (more studies need to be done)., protect against Malaria
Other: Insect repellent -- for both skin application and/or to spray an area. Keeps mosquitoes and flies away!
Safe to spray around the house to keep bugs out.
Safe to spray in the garden, and around children and pets.
Bedbug treatment that is effective, safe, and natural.
Pets -- get rid of fleas, mites, other parasites, and soothe skin issues.
Room spray -- use as part of an all natural spray when people in the house are sick.
Absorption: absorbs into the skin easily
Comedogenic rating: 1 - 2 -- moderately low probability of clogging pores
Aroma: strong and unpleasant -- like a mix of strong garlic and sulfur
Color: light to dark green, yellow-brown to dark brown
Freezing/Melting Point: 37° F 3° C
Flash Point: 392° F 200° C
Viscosity: Depends on the level of refining and temperature -- unrefined is thick, refined has a low viscosity.
Saponification Value: 194.5
Iodine Value: 65 - 85
NaOH Value: 0.142
KOH Value: 0.200
Peroxide Value: 1.91
Unsaponifiable Portion (aka Healing Fraction):
Shelf Life: Kept in a liquid state (meaning at room temperature). Note: I have tried putting Neem Oil in my refrigerator. From one supplier -- pure, unrefined Neem Oil -- no problem, the oil stays liquid. From a different supplier, the oil turned solid, and when melted, formed deposits on the bottom and sides of the bottle.
Fatty Acid Composition:
C16:0 means a chain of 16 carbon atoms with no double bonds (saturated). C18:1w9 means a chain of 18 carbon atoms with one double bond at the 9th carbon (Omega 9) from the methyl end of the chain
Oleic Acid C18:1 n-9 40 - 60 %
Stearic Acid C18:0 14 - 22 %
Palmitic Acid C16:0 14 - 19 %
Linoleic Acid C18:2 n-6 8 - 20 %
Arachidic Acid C20:0 1 - 3.5 %
Myristic Acid C14:0 < 3 %
Lauric Acid C12:0 < 1 %
Alpha-Linolenic Acid C18:3 n-3 < 1 %
Terpenoids 200 - 4000 mg/kg
Vitamins C, E
Do not ingest.
Try a patch test on the inside of the wrist before using as there have been rare cases of contact dermatitis.
Dilute to 2 - 50 %.
1. Parker, Susan M., Power of the Seed: Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty, Process Media, Port Townsend, Washington, ©2014 pp. 154 - 155, 260, 284
2. Janes, Damjan and Glavac, Nina Kocevar, et. Al. Modern Cosmetics: Ingredients of Natural Origin, A Scientific View, Volume 1, Sirimo dobro besedo d.o.o., ©2018, pp. 119
3. Saavedra, Karin, Comedogenic Rating of Carrier Oils and Butters, EverPhi, May 27 – June 13, 2019, https://www.everphi.com/2019/05/27/comedogenic-rating-carrier-oils/, Accessed August 17, 2019
4. Penman, Tash, The Complete List of Comedogenic Oils, Holistic Health Herbalist, ©2019, https://www.holistichealthherbalist.com/complete-list-of-comedogenic-oils/, Accessed August 17, 2019
5. The North Country Soapmaking Library, Iodine Values of Various Soap Making Oils, The North Country Soapmaking Library, Copyright © 1998-2019, http://www.northcountrymercantile.com/soapmakinglibrary/iodine-values-of-various-soap-making-oils/, Accessed August 17, 2019.
6. Just Neem, 4 Ways Neem Oil Will Improve Your Skin, Just Neem, https://www.justneem.com/4-ways-neem-oil-will-improve-your-skin/, Accessed August 18, 2019
7. Simply Health Today, 20 Benefits of Neem Oil, Simply Health Today, (c) 2019, https://simplyhealth.today/20-benefits-neem-oil/ utm_source=%2Bneem%20%2Boil&utm_medium=20BenefitsofNeemOil&utm_campaign=adw_us&msclkid=44577304d60a1051ded22e5dbe879dfb, Accessed August 18, 2019
The information on this datasheet is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The Datasheets are all set up in a similar manner so that you can easily find the information you're looking for and move on with your project.
To join today, simply go to the Membership section on Home & Store page and choose your option. Then enter Coupon Code Welcome when prompted.
The membership section is getting very close to completion. I finished revamping the earlier datasheets, and have now completed 20 EO datasheets, 21 carrier oil datasheets, and 8.5 herb datasheets. I've coordinated the informational format across all the datasheets to make it easy to find information.
Remaining are 11.5 herb datasheets and 15 chemical datasheets. I anticipate being able to get this done by September 6, 2019. Members are welcome to print and share these sheets. Each month, I will add at least 1 new sheet per section (6 total). Below is a sample EO Datasheet.
Essential Oil Datasheet
by Karen Dragoo Updated August 26, 2019
Essential Oil: Allspice
Botanical Name: Pimenta dioica , L (also Pimenta officinalis Lindl.)
Common Names: Allspice, Jamaica pepper, Pimento Berry
Plant Family: Myrtaceae
Related to: clove and myrtle
Part(s) used: Berries
Extraction Method: Steam distilled
Flash Point: 199.94° F 93.3° C
Aroma: spicy, like a combination of cinnamon, clove, pepper, and other spices -hence the common name ‘allspice’ (Note: Allspice is a spice by itself, it does not contain any of the above mentioned spices.)
Note: Middle note
Shelf Life: 4 years
Emotional/Energetic Qualities: relaxing, calming, reduce stress and nervous tension, help with depression
anesthetic (local), analgesic, antibacterial, anticoagulant, anti-convulsant, anti-diabetic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiulcerogenic, antiviral, carminative, circulatory stimulant, hepatoprotective, hypotensive, immunostimulant, neuroprotective, relaxant, rubefacient, stimulant, tonic, vasodilator,
Traditional & Common Uses:
Intergumentary: (skin, hair, nails): Athlete's Foot, bites, cuts, minor skin infections, stings, warming effect on skin, wounds
Note: Phenols make up the majority of this oil, and they are very harsh on the skin.
Skeletal: arthritis, numb local nociceptive & neuropathic pain, muscle pain, muscle spasms, sprains, strains
Respiratory: bronchitis, colds, coughs, sinus congestion, sinus infection, sinusitis
Digestive: bloating, calm stomach, cramping, gas, indigestion, nausea
Circulatory: increase blood flow, lower blood pressure
Immune: stimulate immune system,
Neural/CNS: anxiety, depression, headache, stress
Organs: liver, heart
Excretory: relieves gas,
Other: may lower the germ count in the air when diffused
Primary Chemical Families: Phenols, sesquiterpenes
Eugenol 67 – 80 %
Methyleugenol 2.9 – 13.1 %
beta-caryophyllene 4 - 6.6%
(+)-limonene tr - 42%
alpha-Phellandrene 0 - 1.8%
Terpinolene 0.1 – 1.5 %
alpha-Humulene 0.1 – 1.5 %
alpha-Selinene 0 - 1%
alpha-Myrcene 0 - 1%
1,8 Cineole 0.2 – 3 %
Safety: According to Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, the methyleugenol content has the potential to cause cancer. There is a moderate risk of skin sensitization and mucous membrane irritation. This oil may inhibit blood clotting. Avoid during pregnancy. Do not use before major surgery. Dilute to 0.02 % if using topically. Do not take orally.
Maximum dermal use levels: EU = 0.0015 %, IFRA = 0.003 %, Tisserand & Young = 0.02 % dermal limit (1 drop per 10 oz carrier oil)
Phenol-rich oils should be used at low dilutions for very short periods of time.
* Do not use if you are taking blood thinners or have a blood-clotting disorder.
* As with all essential oils, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor before using (or inhaling) any essential oil.
* Avoid using essential oils on children under the age of 6, and limit use on children from ages 6 - 10 to 0.5% or less (3 drops per 1 oz carrier oil).
* Always check with your doctor before using any essential oil.
* For topical and inhalation use only.
* For short term use only (max 3 days).
+++ Phenols are chemicals that have powerful therapeutic properties. EOs that have a high level of phenols are strongly therapeutic. It's important to note that they must be used in very low dilution and for very short periods of time only because they are also powerfully damaging to skin cells and mucous membranes.
1. Tisserand, R. Y. (2014). Essential Oil Safety Second Edition. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, ©2014, pages 392 - 393
2. Lawless, Julia, The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Conari Press, San Francisco, CA, © 2001, pages 33 - 34
3. Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, List of plants in the family Myrtaceae, Encyclopaedia Briticannica, August 2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/list-of-plants-in-the-family-Myrtaceae-2075387, Accessed August 25 - 26, 2019
4. Healthy Focus LLC, 7 Benefits of Allspice Essential Oil, Healthy Focus LLC, (c) 2018, https://healthyfocus.org/benefits-of-allspice-essential-oil/, Accessed August 26, 2019
5. Patil, Kiran, 10 Best Benefits of Allspice Essential Oil, Organicfacts.com, last updated Apirl 18, 2019, https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-allspice-essential-oil.html, Accessed August 26, 2019
6. Butje, Andrea, Eugenol, Component Database in Aromahead Institute, © 2019 Aromahead LLC, Accessed August 26, 2019