Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thoughts on Holiday shopping, and avoiding the mall

Two weeks ago my vacuum cleaner started smoking. It was suggested that perhaps a replacement was due. So, I did what I always do. Went to and checked out the best buys, the best quality, etc. Chose what I thought I wanted, and started shopping.

Went to one of my favorite "great price/great service" places, and started an order. Got interrupted. Later went to to check on some videos for my grandson.

And found my vacuum cleaner for $100 less...with free shipping and no sales tax. I only regret not logging onto Amazon through our affiliate link, so Nature's Gift would have gotten credit for the referral.

SO, for Christmas shopping...for all the presents we can't supply, I'd suggest checking out Amazon. "They aren't just for books any more!" You can find toys for all ages, music favorites at bargain prices (while browsing, I had to order The Ultimate Waylon Jennings and the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album that I missed the first time around!), organic hot chocolate, Godiva Chocolates, stocking stuffers for your fur-kids, tools for him (or her, I'm reminded!), clothing... (I'm looking at a dress for my youngest grand-daughter but I can't get the link to work to show you. frustrating!) In other words...something for everyone on your list.
(Yes, we are Amazon affiliates and if you choose to click on one of those links and order something from Amazon -whether it's something we suggested or not- we may get a few cents commission.) But... it's also a great way to beat standing in line at the mall!

(I will do almost anything to avoid the mall!!!)

And if you DO shop via one of our links, we thank you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Special for Blog Readers ONLY

A never before special sale, just for the readers of our blog. (Just to say "Thank you!")
From now until Sunday Evening (Nov 23) receive a 10% discount on all the books listed on our "Special Books" page.

A special promotional code, just for you! At checkout, enter the word "reader" (without the quotation marks!) in the box marked "gift certificate/promo code" and you will see a 10% discount on the cost of any/all of our rare and special hard to find books. We have never discounted them, no "normal" Nature's Gift promotional codes ever apply to them, so this is truly a once in a lifetime savings.

Among the books listed are:

The Blossoming Heart - Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation by Robbi Zeck, N.D.
Essential Oils and Aromatics: A Step-by-Step Guide for Use in Massage and Aromatherapy by Marge Clark
The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia
Liquid Sunshine - Vegetable Oils for Aromatherapy by Jan Kusmirek
The Aromatherapy Practitioners Reference Manual by Sylla Sheppard-Hanger
Introduction to Aromatherapy Booklet by Marge Clark
Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, first edition by Gabriel Mojay
The 'm' Technique® DVD or Video - Structured Touch, by R. Jane Buckle, PhD, RN

You will see the discount applied before you enter your credit card information. Please don't submit the order if you don't see the discount, we will not be able to apply it retroactively.

Lavender Research

I've always known that Lavender angustifolia was's one of the most useful "sleep inducing" essential oils. But recent literature shows it's use for dealing with stress and anxiety.

A recent issue of the Intl Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy cites a study in which Lavender essential oil baths were studied to see their effects on stress and anxiety.

Two groups were studied, each committing to taking a warm water bath daily at approximately the same time for 14 days. One group used grapeseed oil in their bath, the other used a blend of lavender and grapeseed oil.

Prior to testing, all individuals were scored on tests for "Life Satisfaction", Perceived Stress, and both State Anxiety and Trait Anxiety. (State Anxiety results from current situations that are stressful, Trait Anxiety tends to indicate a longer term Anxiety, perhaps being prone to anxiety, rather than an immediate reaction to an anxiety producing situation.)

After the two week test period, results showed that both types of baths gave lower Perceived Stress scores. However, it appears that the lavender group started out with higher Perceived Stress Levels, and finished the study with lower other words, the level of percieved stress dropped more dramatically with the use of Lavender.

State anxiety, also was lower for both groups, but the State Anxiety level was significantly lower for those who had participated in the Lavender baths.

Study results indicate that the use of Lavender baths is a viable treatment for mild stress and anxiety, and may be a useful adjunct to other therapies in dealing with severe cases.

At the very least it offers us a relatively inexpensive and reliable method of self care!

Another Study - the one we funded for the American Holistic Nurses Association, last year involved testing the use of Lavender and/or Rosemary essential oils to reduce test taking anxiety and stress in graduate nursing students.

From the data gathered during this study, the researcher concluded that both lavender and rosemary have some effect on test anxiety in graduate nursing students. What I found most fascinating (but not surprising!) was the focus group interviews after the study.

The general consensus among focus group participants was that the lavender was pleasant however; some felt it relaxed them too much and they were less able to concentrate on the test material and were less able to “dredge up” the correct answers. Another group actually felt that the lavender caused them agitation because they were fighting to be alert and the lavender was fighting to relax them. All of the focus group participants liked the rosemary and said that it was a very warm earthy aroma that increased their ability to “dredge up” the answer to the
questions on the test from their memory. They stated that the rosemary seemed to clear their heads and make things clearer where the lavender made things more relaxed and even fuzzy.

To my this result seems totally predictable. Of course the lavender would relax the students, and allay anxiety. But it's almost sedating action is bound to interfere with the mental concentration needed to perform well on an exam. Rosemary, on the other hand, is known for intensifying mental clarity and focus. Shakespeare even said "Rosemary for Remembrance."

For whatever it is worth, the researcher did not mention the species of oils used in the second research paper. The Lavender used was Lavendula angustifolia, var Mailette and Rosmarinus officianalis ch Cineole. (IE our Lavender Mailette and Rosemary Cineole, both organic from France.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

A gift in my Computer

Somewhere this week I came across a link that I clicked on out of idle curiousity... Thoughts of Pandora's Box filled my mind, but I clicked anyway. (Feeling bold and exploratory, I was!)

And I found the most wonderful font of online music.

Not a 'download this song' to your MP3 player (I don't have one!) or your hard drive... but an interesting concept. Enter a single song name, or an artist you love...or better yet, a song by an artist. First they will play a similar song by the same artist. (Not your request, but a substitute, for complicated legal reasons.) Then they will find other songs that in their computer seem to "fit" with your first selection. If they choose wrong, you may cancel it and start over. Just tell them "that's not what I meant." and they'll come up with other suggestions. Or you can start over. I've listened to 60's folk, to Waylon and Willie, to Indian flutes.

A few minutes ago I entered "Clannard" and I'm listening to wonderful soft vocals and... well... If you can't find something you enjoy here, then you just should go watch TV or something.

The programing is based on the The Music Genome Project (tm). (I was going to explain what that is...but they do it better than I could.

At any rate, it's a pure delightful listening experience. ENJOY!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Postit Note - "Perseverance"

Last year, one of our distillers sent us an absolutely stunning monthly calendar. Huge thing, with, for each month, a stunning picture of some natural scene and a short "inspirational" quote.

Because it is so lovely, I chose to hang it in the break room, where everyone could enjoy it. Unfortunately, we ended up hanging it on a wall that doesn't get looked at as often as it should. So sometimes we are a bit late turning to the new month. (Or sometimes we just enjoy last month's picture so much we are reluctant to turn the page.) At any rate, we just this week turned from October to November.

Now, these calendars had to be designed at least two years ago in order for them to be received in time for last year's holiday season. What kind of prescience did someone have that they *knew* in advance that the economy of our country, and perhaps that of the whole world is in a sometimes frightening (if we allow it to be) downward spiral.

As I sit here trying to project how much product to prepare, how many orders to place for this so far dreadfully slow fourth quarter... the calendar reads:

Perseverance - At times like these it is helpful to remember
That there have always been
Times like these.

Thank you! A good reminder. Perhaps I am not the only one who needs to be reminded.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cistus? Labdanum? aha!

I love it when something I've never quite been able to wrap my brain around suddenly makes sense. The "Aha Moment"

For years I just rather assumed that Cistus Essential Oil was distilled from the leaves of the RockRose plant (cistus ladinifer). and that Labdanum absolute was solvent extracted from the same botanical. Or, maybe that cistus essential oil was distilled from the resin of the above named plant, and the absolute from the same substance.

Until I realized that my producer offered not only Cistus essential oil AND Labdanum Absolute but also a Cistus Absolute. Ooooooooooops. That totally confused me.

Obviously Cistus Absolute and Labdanum absolute weren't the same thing (since there is quite a difference in price.) but??? confusion reigned supreme.

Finally, after much material being sent me, and many questions back and forth by email, I finally wrapped my brain around it.

The shrub commonly known as Rock Rose (but known as "Christ's Tears" in Andalusia because of it's five petalled flower, with deep purple spots on each petal, near the center of the blossom) produces a thick, resinous exhudate from the leaves (actually from the whole plant, but mostly from the leaves.) This aromatic resin (called Labdanum!) protects the plant from evaporation.
In ancient times, when goats fed on the leaves of the Cistus shrub, the resin stuck to their beards and was combed out. (Surely they don't still collect it that way?)
Cistus Essential Oil is produced by steam distillation of the leaves of the shrub. That makes sense. Yield, by the way, is quite low, normally less than 1% of the weight of the botanical.

but the resin? the absolute? If the essential oil is distilled from the leaves, where does the resin come from? and the absolute? Cistus Absolute is extracted from the leaves. Okay...what is the difference between Cistus Absolute and Labdanum Absolute. Still scratching my head here.

The leaves of the plant (obviously not the same leaves that have been steam distilled to produce the oil!) are soaked in warm carbonated water. Since carbonated water is fairly acidic, the acid solution causes the raw resinoid to separate from the leaves, so that it may be collected from the water bath.

This raw resinoid is then washed with alcohol and concentrated to form what is known as Labdanum Resin. (Wonderfully aromatic stuff, almost solid, and totally impossible to dissolve in carrier oil. I know. We tried.)

This resin is far more concentrated than the essential oil derived from the leaves.

The resin is further processed (washed with Ethanol) to produce the Absolute, which, fortunately for us, is soluble in carrier oil. AH... Cistus is from the leaves, which produce *some* resin. Labdanum is the resin itself, and Labdanum Absolute is extracted from the resin itself. Which is why it is so much more aromatic, more intense.

There may be some other natural botanical which gives the amber note found in the various cistus products, but I've not encountered any.

Cistus Essential Oil is sweetly balsamic, with amber notes. Our Labdanum absolute, on the other hand, is deeper, darker, almost animalic. It would be superb in any leather blend, add depth to amber blends, and, of course, is the basic necessity for any chypre based accords for the perfumers.

I am so glad I finally got that one straight!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Radiation Treatment - Lumpectomy

Recently Mary Martin emailed asking for suggestions regarding a tight pulling on her side along her ribs - under the breast where she had had a lumpectomy. The only thing I could think of was our Miracle Blend - because it shouldn't be scar tissue in that spot. But, in case it could be scar tissue (out of place scar tissue!) I also suggested perhaps using rose hip seed oil with or without Helichrysum essential oil.

Mary wrote back after a few weeks:

"I've been rubbing the rosehip seed oil in that area per your suggestion and guess what? the pain and pulling has subsided significantly. I can barely feel it now. Thanks for the suggestion! I was applying rosehip oil to my lumpectomy scar to prevent scar tissue build-up but I would have never thought to apply it UNDERNEATH my breast area!

Mary Martin

P.S. I am saving the miracle blend for my carpal tunnel on my wrist. It works great for that!

When I wrote back, thanking her for the followup and asking if I could quote her, because someone else might have this same problem, she wrote the following:

Hi Marge, By all means, you can quote me!

I also used the Blue Tansy and Heli hydrosols post radiation (immediately after my treatments), along with the Tamanu oil (and I never got burned!).

After radiation, I used the sea buckthorn berry, tamanu oil and the rosehip seed oil directly on the radiated area. My skin really looked and felt ok throughout my treatments and afterwards (I got a "tan" but that was really it) and my oncologist was amazed!

Now, a year post-lumpectomy and post-radiation, I am still using the rosehip seed oil and the tamanu oil directly on my scar. It's faded quite nicely. Even my radiation oncologist said so! Of course, now the rosehip seed oil also seems to have alleviated the pulling underneath my breast as well...Mary

For the record - the suggestions on the Blue Tansy and Helichrysum hydrosols were based on a paper my mentor and friend Sylla Sheppard Hanger presented at a symposium in the year 2000, sharing her experience with dealing with her own radiation treatments.

Sylla used water based dilutions of Helichrysum and Blue Tansy since, at that time, she did not have a reliable source for the hydrosols. She also used fresh aloe vera gel. You may read Sylla's presentation here.

I am a bit concerned about the use of the Calophyllum, or any carrier oil, as it could erase the marks used to "aim" the laser during treatment. Some patients have the marks tattooed on so there can be no risk of them disappearing.