Archive for February, 2010

Can Essential oils be toxic? Part One

Some of you may have been told by an aromatherapist or naturopath, that certain essential oils may be toxic. Well some essential oils may be.  The question is which ones.  In order to answer this, we first need to understand our aromatherapist’s mind-set a little.

Three Schools of Thinking.

You may be surprised to know that there are 3 schools of thought in the field of aromatherapy.

The German school of aromatherapy teaches the use of essential oils via inhalation. The French school teaches the use of essential oils in anyway that’s appropriate – orally, rectally, through the skin and through inhalation. Gary Young has added a number of other ways to this school, including intravenously and hypodermically.

The British school of thought, which has largely influenced the American and Australian aromatherapist community, focuses more on the burning of oils (inhalation) and the dilution of oils.

Therapeutic Grade vs. Perfume Grade

At his recent visit to Sydney, Dr David Stewart (an aromatherapist and prominent researcher in the field of essential oils) [1] made reference to a number of British aromatherapy text books, such as Essential Oil Safety and Clinical Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Childbirth. In page 45 of the latter book, a number of oils were listed as forbidden: cinnamon, calamus, cassia, fennel, clove, oregano, wintergreen, tansy and yes, Vanilla (incidentally, the bible makes reference to people being anointed with calamus and cassia thousands of years ago).

Dr Stewart made the following points about much of the British research in aromatherapy, much of which has a long impressive list of citations:

  • The research was conducted on animals (They’re far more sensitive to oils than humans.)
  • They will take one compound in the essential oil, which in isolation is toxic (but which in combination with other compounds in the oil, render it safe) and label the entire oil as toxic and to be avoided.
  • Much of the research utilizes perfume grade essential oils and NOT therapeutic grade essential oils (we’ll come back to this point later).

The Sum of the parts…

Let’s elaborate on the second point that Dr Stewart made, as it’s an important one. We’ll use a couple of examples.

The compounds Scatole and Indole are not very nice ones. Scatole in fact can be found in animal droppings. Yet the essential oil Jasmine has both of these. In fact perfume companies deliberately put Indole in their perfumes, as it intensifies the fragrance.

Another compound, Xylene (found in hazardous waste), can be found in Myrrh, another oil referred to in the scriptures. It was given to the Christ child by the 3 Wise Men. The point is many compounds are dangerous on their own, but when placed in combination with other compounds, have a totally different effect.

As Dr Stewart puts it, “one cannot deduce the properties of an essential oil by knowing the properties of its individual compounds as isolates… a compound that is highly toxic alone can be safe, non-toxic, and therapeutic when occurring as an ingredient in an essential oil. Many aromatherapists who fear certain oils have been trained in a school that teaches the fallacy that properties of isolated compounds studied in laboratories apply to the natural oils in which they are found. Thus, many aromatherapists avoid perfectly safe and therapeutically effective oils because a laboratory has found one or more compounds in the oil that, by themselves, are harmful.”(My emphasis) [2]

Synthetic vs. Natural

We now come back to Dr Stewart’s third point, that many lab tests are conducted on perfume-grade essential oils and not therapeutic grade essential oils.

 

The first perfume oils in the world were basically essential oils. Two thousand years later, there is very little in our perfumes that are natural or essential oil. Advances in chemistry over the last 100 years, have meant that the perfume industry relies largely on synthetics that attempt to mimic the best that nature has to offer. And it’s not just the perfume industry that relies on the synthetics.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.

 

[1] About David Stewart, Ph.D.

[2] The Raindrop Messenger, Official newsletter of C.A.R.E. (Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education) Vol 8, No 1 Jan-Feb 2010. To subscribe

OUCH!!! So you’ve been bitten or stung by some insect or spider.  Well just as essential oils can be used as effective insect repellants, they can also be used for insect bites. The beauty is they can act very quickly to break down the poison and render it harmless.

The molecules of essential oils are very small (less than 500 atomic mass units in fact) and lipid soluble (can pass through fatty substances or tissue), so they can pass through the skin very easily and quickly enter the blood stream.

The Original Snake oil.

Everyone will have heard of the phrase “snake oil salesmen”. Nowadays it denotes someone engaged in shonky business practices, usually selling something that isn’t what it’s been purported to be. However over 100 years ago, the term Snake oil referred to a real product, which was exported to the U.S. from Australia.

The product in question was Tea Tree oil (or Melaleuca alternifolia) and it was found to be very effective against rattlesnake bite. Traveling salesmen would sell the oil to the settlers, trappers and miners traveling through the Wild West. Unfortunately over time, many of these traveling salesmen would be selling the pioneers an oil, that wasn’t really snake oil – hence the phrase – Snake oil salesmen.

This is no reflection on Melaleuca mind you. The oil is effective against snake poisons which affect the blood and organs (hemotoxic venoms). This includes rattlesnakes and copperheads. It’s not so effective against snake poison which attacks the nervous system (neurotoxic venoms) and which are the most deadly. And many snake venoms include both a neurotoxic and hemotoxic component. [1]  An essential oil like Clove or the blend Thieves is likely to be the most effective. [2] Clove oil has analgesic/anaesthetic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory properties. In any case, you should seek emergency medical attention in the event that you are bitten by a poisonous snake (or spider for that matter).

Purification

Coming down the scale of lethality (considerably) what about bites/stings from such critters as ants, bees, spiders and ticks? The essential oil that I would most likely turn to is the Young Living oil blend – Purification. It consists of  Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca (there’s that snake oil again), Lavandin and Myrtle.

Single oils that are effective include Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Eucalyptus Globulus, and our old friend, Melaleuca (or Tea Tree as it’s also known). Lavender and Peppermint will be effective in reducing any itchiness that can occur after a bite. In the event that there’s pain, the oil blend Panaway could help. Panaway contains Wintergreen, Clove, Helichrysum and Peppermint. Clove is the most antiseptic of all essential oils, while Helichrysum is effective as an anaesthetic and analgesic. Wintergreen is highly anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. How much oil to apply? Around 2 drops 2-4 times a day.

The Essential Oils Desk Reference (EODR) also lists Melrose, an oil blend that consists of Melaleuca, Naouli, Rosemary and Clove oils as the first recommendation for bee stings. [3]   Don’t forget that before you apply the essential oil, you will need to remove the stinger first. Apply around 2 drops 2-3 times a day until you see the redness start to abate.

In the event of spider bites, the same caution applies as per snake bites. If we are talking about funnel web or red back (black widow in Nth America) bites, seek immediate medical attention. If you’re unsure or unable to identify the spider in question, try to catch it (safely). This will be necessary to assist the medics/hospital in determining which anti-venom to use.

While waiting for medical attention, I would most likely apply the Purification oil blend or even Thieves and Panaway. A number of spider bites, while not deadly, can create serious problems such as gangrene (the Brown Recluse in Nth America, and I believe, the White-tail spider in Australia). Purification, Thieves and Panaway are helpful here, but again, seek medical attention. How much oil do we apply in the event of a spider bite? The EODR says 1 drop of any of the above mentioned blends every 10 minutes, until you reach medical treatment. I would probably be applying more than that in my own case, but you be the judge.

Ticks

In the case of ticks, you need to remove the tick before attending to the bite. You can use essential oils to remove the tick as well. Either Thyme or Oregano would be effective here, but you may wish to dilute them 50:50 with a vegetable oil (almond or coconut are good, but so is olive oil) as these oils with their high phenol content, can irritate the skin. Apply2 drops over the bite area and the phenols in the oils will cause the tick to let go.

After you have removed the tick, you can apply an oil like tea tree, peppermint, lavender or rosemary. Apply anywhere between 1-6 drops, around 3-5 times daily.

Anyway, back to the garden…   🙂

Till next time

Cheers

Anthony

 Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.

 

[1] An excellent source of info on snake venom or snakes for that matter is The Reptipage.

[2] Essential Oils Desk Reference, 4th Edition, Essential Science Publishing, Sept 2007, P461

[3] Essential Oils Desk Reference, 4th Edition, Essential Science Publishing, Sept 2007, P410-411

 

Dis-ease – “a deficiency of love”

This one comes from Gary Young, but I thought I would share it with you:

“I feel very strongly that the biggest problem we face today is a lack of love. I learned several years ago from patients I saw in my practice that the cause of what we call “dis-ease” is nothing more than a deficiency of self love. When we have self love, we take care of our body–our temple–because we expect it to serve us. When we have self love, we feed it the way it should be fed. When we have self love, we nurture and care for our bodies. We don’t damage and destroy them.

When there is no love, that is when war rages–between countries, between people, and within a person’s head. Several years ago I did a seminar in which I preformed blood research. I had my microscopes there and performed the tests on site. A lady came to me after we had concluded the seminar. She said, “Gary, have you ever looked at the blood of someone who is having a real emotional trauma, then given them oils and tested their blood later on?” I said, “No, I haven’t.” She then asked me if I would mind doing that for a client of hers, and I did so.

Of course, her client’s blood was very aggregated—it contained a great deal of bacteria from undigested food particles. When people are under stress they don’t digest their food very well, so that is a pretty natural thing to see. The woman was clearly upset because her husband had left her, she was in the middle of a divorce, and her home was under foreclosure. It was a traumatic time for her.

We applied some oils on her and she calmed down and stopped crying. After about 20 to 30 minutes, we took another blood specimen. That is when I realized that we were dealing with something that was very, very real. Her tests the second time were very different from the first results, much more normal.

That’s one of the many reasons I am so proud of the things we do at Young Living, our products, and the care we take with them. I have heard countless testimonials about the wonderful effects our oils have on people’s lives. Real effects, life-changing effects. I have seen miracles, and I have experienced miracles. I know how important these oils are and how much good they do. The oils can make a tremendous difference, but they have to be used…. and shared.

None of us has to settle for second best in this life–unless we choose to settle. No matter how big obstacles seem, they can be handled or improved. The oils can help you move beyond the things that are blocking you–both physically and emotionally.

If you have a battle going on inside you, stop fighting it. Focus your energy on positives instead of negatives. Place your trust in a better future and in the ability you have to change whatever needs to be changed so you can move into that future. Use the oils; they will help you. And share them with others who also need them. Be a positive force that lifts other up rather than dragging yourself down. Start loving yourself, and things will get better.”

D.Gary Young

Essential oils are great against bugs and insects

With summer ‘steaming’ along, I’m sure everyone is experiencing their share of ‘unwanted guests’ in the house. Aside from the regular cockroach that flies in, I’ve noticed a lot of ants around the house. I’ve been told that when there is a lot of rainfall (or the prospect of it) ants like to get out of the garden, go for high ground and yes enter your house.

We have a can of fly/insect spray in the house but of late I’ve been keen to avoid using it. These products are cocktails of various toxic chemicals, that I suspect, not only wipe out insects, but also leave an environmental residue and affect our health.

Essential oils provide an environmentally healthy alternative. They’re great as insect repellants and insecticides. In the event that you’re bitten by something nasty, they can also help you out there.

I’ve recently been trying out a peppermint oil based spray against the ants in the house. You buy yourself a pistol grip spray bottle and mix anywhere between 5-10 drops of peppermint oil (or more if you really want to get nasty) with water, shake the bottle up and start spraying/squirting. If you already have a line of ants  invading your house, just draw a line of oil across them and watch them  turn around.

Essential oils act as powerful insect repellants, but somehow when combined with water, they become insecticides. [1]

If your problem is mosquitoes, you may wish to try a home-made spray made from the Purification oil blend. Purification includes  Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Lavandin and Myrtle. The following list comes from Dr David Stewart’s Raindrop Messenger newsletter. Hope you find it useful. This is a subject we will likely come back to. In the next post we’ll look insect bites.

Till next time

cheers

Anthony

 

ANTS
Peppermint
Spearmint

APHIDS
Cedarwood
Hyssop
Peppermint
Spearmint

BEETLES
Peppermint
Thyme

CATERPILLARS
Spearmint
Peppermint

CHIGGERS
Lavender
Lemongrass
Sage
Thyme

CUTWORM
Thyme
Sage

FLEAS
Peppermint
Lemongrass
Spearmint
Lavender

FLIES
Lavender
Peppermint
Rosemary
Sage

GNATS
Patchouli
Spearmint

LICE
Cedarwood
Peppermint
Spearmint

MOSQUITOES
Lavender
Lemongrass

MOTHS
Cedarwood
Hyssop
Lavender
Peppermint
Spearmint

PLANT  LICE
Peppermint
Spearmint

SLUGS
Cedarwood
Hyssop
Pine

SNAILS
Cedarwood
Pine
Patchouli

SPIDERS
Peppermint
Spearmint

TICKS
Lavender
Lemongrass
Sage
Thyme

WEEVILS
Cedarwood
Patchouli
Sandalwood

Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.

[1] The Raindrop Messenger, Official newsletter of C.A.R.E. (Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education) Vol 1, No 5 May-June 2003. To subscribe

Aerotoxic Syndrome

This piece has nothing to do with essential oils, but plenty to do with health and wellbeing.

Especially, if you travel on airlines frequently (or work as air crew).If you do, then I suggest you read this article by former airline captain, John Hoyte. Aerotoxic syndrome is something most of us will probably never have heard of…and when you read the article you’ll understand why

Aerotoxic Syndrome – Aviation’s best kept secret

If after reading that, you think you’d like more information about the subject, an association has been formed – The Aerotoxic Association. It provides more information on the subject as well as support for sufferers of this illness –  Aerotoxic Association

Fish Oils for Mental Illness

By now, most of us have probably heard of the benefits of fish oil in our diets – the Omega 3 in particular. Most of us are also probably aware that mental illness is a major health issue in our society, next to such things as Cancer and Heart disease.

A new study from a team of researchers from Australia, Switzerland and Austria, and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, has revealed that fish oil supplements are very effective against mental illness.[1]

The randomized, placebo controlled study involved 81 participants that were considered to be at high risk for psychosis. Half the participants were given 1/2g of fish oil supplements each day for 12 weeks and the other half placebo supplements. Only 2 people in the fish oil group developed psychosis as against 11 in the placebo group.

The study is certainly small but one hopes that there will now be follow up studies. If fish oils supplements become widely acceptable in the medical/psychiatric field, it will certainly be preferable to the antipsychotic drugs that bring with them a whole range of side effects and problems.[2]

Aside from mental illness, Omega 3 fatty acids (or PUFA’s they’re sometimes known) have been shown to support cardiovascular, joint, eye and brain health and in reducing the risk of heart disease & stroke, pulmonary disease, autoimmune diseases, crohn’s disease, hypertension, and ADD/ADHD. Low Omega 3 levels on the other hand have been associated with depression, dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Selecting the right fish oil supplements is equally important. You need to make sure your supplements are free from heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic residues.

Three years ago Young Living (YL) developed a fish oil supplement that combines the benefits of fish oil with the effectiveness of essential oils. Indeed YL were the first producers of essential oils to combine essential oils with food and food supplements. Omega Blue stands out way above many fish oil supplements in the market place for the following reasons:

  • It’s sourced from wild-harvested fish (sardines, mackerel and anchovies) and YL’s molecular distillation process pulls out any toxicity that is present.
  • The essential oils added increase the bioavailability of the nutrients by 10 times
  • Omega Blue fish supplements use an enteric coating which ensures that it is absorbed through the intestines, rather than through the stomach. Nutrients are thus absorbed into the body more easily. It also guarantees that you don’t get any “fish” taste or fish breath after taking the capsule.
  • Research has shown that many fish oils begin to oxidise within days of being packaged, even though their expiry date is 3 years away.[3] Oxidised fats produce free radicals, which in turn promote disease and aging. The essential oils added to Omega Blue protect from oxidation.
  • The essential oils also lend their own benefits. For example:
    • Clove oil, German Chamomile, Myrhh and Lemongrass are anti-inflammatory.
    • Clove oil is the highest recorded antioxidant as measured on the ORAC scale.
    • Eugenol, one of the constituents of Clove oil protects the neurons in the brain from a lack of oxygen.
    • Myrrh oil increases digestion, while Lemongrass oil lowers cholesterol and offers cardiovascular support.

Till next time,

Cheers

Anthony

Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.

[1]Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Indicated Prevention of Psychotic Disorders  http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/67/2/146

[2] BBC: Fish oil supplements beat psychotic mental illness.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8490937.stm

[3] Oxidised fish oils on market may harm consumer, warns researcher http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Oxidised-fish-oils-on-market-may-harm-consumer-warns-researcher