Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Nose Knows...canine superpower

One of the central characters of my work-in-progress cozy mystery novel, is a beagle
"Beagle Face" By Mariano Szklanny  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
named Betty. I chose Betty's breed, not only for its well-deserved reputation as a sweet and loyal companion, but because it is one of the stars of the canine olfactory league. Since my main character is an aromatherapist who deals in scents on a daily basis, it seemed appropriate she should have a pet that appreciates her particular line of work. In researching various super-sniffer breeds I learned just how amazing is the canine sense of smell. Compared to humans, it really does fall into the superpowers realm.


Not only do dogs have superior numbers of olfactory sensors in their noses (300 million to our 6 million,) the part of their brains dedicated to detecting smells is about 40 times greater than ours. When an analogy is made with vision, if eyes could see as well as noses could smell, what we could see clearly at 1/3 of a mile, a dog could see at 3000 miles or further. If the analogy is one of taste, where we could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee, a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water. Yes. They are that
"Sophie and Toadstool" by KL Wood
powerful. For myself, I'm grateful my sense of smell is not so acute, especially when passing by an active landfill on a hot summer day. It's a good thing dogs appear to enjoy all kinds of smells! 


Dogs can determine which of their nostrils a particular scent entered, knowing to search left or to search right for the source. And although we inhale and exhale air and scent through the same passageway, dogs have a fold inside their noses that separate the two and upon exhalation, sends the scent out through slits on the side of the nose in a swirl of air that helps pull in more scent. In this way, dogs can achieve a continuous flow of scent making them the outstanding trackers they are. For more fascinating facts about this canine superpower, I invite you to check out this article from the PBS program, NOVA:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/dogs-sense-of-smell.html

Here is a list pulled from dogtime.com of the crème de la crème, the top ten sniffing superstars of dogdom:
"Blood Hound" By Petruss (Own work) Wikimedia Commons

10- Pointer
 9- German Shorthaired Pointer
 8- Coonhound
 7- English Springer Spaniel
 6- Belgian Malinois
 5- Labrador Retriever
 4- German Shepherd
 3- Beagle (go Betty!)
 2- Bassett Hound
And, drumroll please, the number one sniffer is...
 1-Blood Hound

So, there you have it. As we humans sit smugly assuming we are in all ways superior to all God's creatures, let us not forget that most everything on earth has its own superpower and many such powers are more helpful and less destructive than a big brain.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! 
Kate


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Olympian sized muscle pain?...try these essential oils

"Sgt Hillary Bor Runs 3000m Steeplechase" by US Army via Wikimedia Commons
Watching the 2016 Summer Olympics, I am continually amazed at the stress these athletes heap upon
their muscles. Sometimes it shows on their faces. Sometimes it shows by their use of wraps and kinesio tape. This is definitely the year of The Tape-- sometimes boldly apparent, sometimes subtle, blending with the athlete's skin tones. Are there essential oils suitable for soothing muscle pain? You betcha! Take a gander at the ones, below. Massage them in with your carrier oil or lotion of choice. Soak them in through full body and foot baths. They are a wonderful, natural means of soothing overworked muscles, whether from running a 10km marathon or pulling weeds in the garden.

Essential Oils of:

-Lavender- (what an herbal workhorse, this is!) Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, circulation aid

"Freshly Cut Lavender Flowers" by Lexipexi via Wikimedia Commons
-Black Pepper- (and, no, you can't just shake it from a box) Warming, pain relieving, circulation aid

-Rosemary-Analgesic

-Ginger-Warming, antispasmodic

-Eucalyptus- Analgesic, anti-inflammatory

-Marjoram-Warming, antispasmodic, circulation aid

"Eucalyptus" by Toby Hudson via Wikimedia Commons
-Cypress-Antispasmodic

-Thyme- Warming, pain relieving, circulation aid

-Peppermint-Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic

So, next time you need some blessed relief from aching muscles, try reaching for an essential oil instead of just popping a pill. Fragrant oils have a way of lifting your spirits as they ease your pain.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! (Go Team!)
Kate

(As always: this post is for information only for adult use and does not replace medical advice. Тest out an oil first by placing a small diluted amount on your arm as a patch test. In particular, those who are or could be pregnant should always refer to their physicians before using any essential oils.)







Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Are You Red or Blue?...there's an essential oil for that

"Red and Blue" by Mattes (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It's presidential election convention time again and in this heated political season, many Americans are feeling Red or Blue...that is Republican or Democrat. (Of course there are a fair number of Purples who are still undecided but that's for another day.) Are there any red or blue essential oils to help us through this tumultuous chapter in our democracy? Of course! There is one for each political hue so read all about them here and if you're feeling Purple, maybe this will help you decide. I've heard worse decision-making methods lately!

Red: Jasmine

The absolute extracted from the Jasmine flower is bright red with a warm, deeply floral
"Jasmine Flower" via Wikimedia Commons
fragrance. Originating in Egypt, it's been famous for its use in perfumes all the way back to the days of Cleopatra as she floated down the Nile on her scented barge. In addition to its widely used aphrodisiac qualities that heat up your love life, Jasmine is known for the following properties: 



Antidepressant
Antiseptic
Antispasmodic
Cicatrisant (helps heal scars)
Expectorant
Emmenagogue (helps relieve menstrual symptoms)
Sedative
Uterine (helps increase contractions in labor)
Antibacterial

Fun Factoid: It takes about 2000 Jasmine flowers per pound of oil.

Blue: German Chamomile

"Honeybee on German Chamomile" by Schizoschaf (Own work)
Like its color, Blue Chamomile with its herbaceous apple-like fragrance, is known most of all for its calming properties. Originating in Nepal (not Germany,) it is a member of the daisy family. There are other types of Chamomile but it's the German variety that produces a beautiful deep blue color when distilled. Here are its properties:

Antidepressant
Anti-inflammatory
Sleep aid
Digestive aid (think Chamomile Tea)
Skin irritant aid (helps acne, eczema, rashes)

Fun Factoid: It take 100 pounds of German Chamomile flowers per pound of oil.

Red? Blue? Republican? Democrat? Jasmine? German Chamomile? The choice is yours!
As far as my husband and I are concerned, we've decided to start our own movement. The "Cooler Heads!" No matter which you choose, may Cooler Heads prevail! (Just put some thought into your choices, no matter what they be.) 


Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now!
Kate

(As always: this post is for information only for adult use and does not replace medical advice. Тest out an oil first by placing a small diluted amount on your arm as a patch test. In particular, those who are or could be pregnant should always refer to their physicians before using any essential oils.)



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cool Your Heels...with these essential oils

"Sun in Celestia" Public Domain per Wikimedia Commons
The 4th of July has just passed and it's hot as a firecracker here in North Carolina with heat indexes well over 100 degrees F. So here is a lovely, natural way to cool off. Take a few minutes, glass of iced beverage of your choice in hand, and soak your feet. When your feet are cool, it spreads upward throughout the rest of your body (and, of course the opposite is just as true.)

To a foot basin of luke-warm water, add several drops of any one or combination of the following cooling essential oils:


Eucalyptus
Foot Bath by John Frazier, Brooklyn Museum
Peppermint (a little goes a long way)
Spearmint
Lemon 
Lemongrass
Lavender
German Chamomile
Cypress
Vetivert
Juniper

Simple solution, complex benefits. Sit back, sip your drink, and soak those feet. You'll be glad you did!

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! (And keep cool!)

Kate

"Peppermint" Public Domain per Wikimedia Commons

(As always: this post is for information only for adult use and does not replace medical advice. Тest out an oil first by placing a small diluted amount on your arm as a patch test. In particular, those who are or could be pregnant should always refer to their physicians before using any essential oils.) 


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Going Buggy...essential oil insect repellants

Ahhh, Summer is straining at its seasonal leash and ready to burst full blown onto the
"Asian Tiger Mosquito" By James Gathany, CDC [Public domain],
 via Wikimedia Commons
scene. For many of us, summer weather has already descended, regardless of the calendar date, along with those most unwelcome of guests: biting flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. My research into essential oils as natural insect repellants unearthed a treasure trove of possibilities. If you try any of these, I'd love your comments!


For horse flies:
Lavender
Lemongrass
Cedarwood
Rosemary
"Freshly cut Lavender Flowers" by Lexipexi via Wikimedia Commons

Peppermint 
Lemon
Tansey*
Thyme (Vulgaris)
Tea Tree

For gnats:
Rose Geranium*
Spearmint
Peppermint
Globulus
Eucalyptus*

For mosquitoes:
Lavender
Lemongrass
Peppermint 
Lemon
Tansey
Thyme (Vulgaris)
"Lemongrass" via Wikimedia Commons
Clove
Cinnamon
Globulus
Blue Cypress
Sage
Eucalyptus

(* also good against ticks)

You can mix several drops of the oils of your choice into your favorite unscented body lotion or make into a spritzer spray:

Into a 2 oz spray bottle mix:
  • 4 tablespoons of distilled water
  • 2 teaspoons of vodka
  • 5-6 drops of your favorite essential oil or try a combination such as sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and mint.
So bring it on, Summer. Give it all you've got and we'll be ready for your blood sucking posse!

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! (And yes I know, despite my post title, bugs are not insects but "going insecty" just doesn't work somehow!)

(As always: this post is for information only for adult use and does not replace medical advice. Тest out an oil first by placing a small diluted amount on your arm as a patch test. In particular, those who are or could be pregnant should always refer to their physicians before using any essential oils.) 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Clary Sage...beauty and brains in one package

"Clary Sage Field" photo by KL Wood
May is the month in which many fields in my part of northeastern North Carolina burst into lovely purple and white bloom. Flowering spikes of blossoms begin to peek above their green leafy bowers and assail the senses with their beauty and pungent scent. The source of this botanical extravaganza is a plant unknown to the fields of my Carolina childhood, one that in many cases replaced tobacco. Welcome to the world of Clary Sage. 
"Salvia Sclarea" photo by H. Zell via Wikimedia Commons

The Clary Sage grown in our neck of the woods is used for extracting sclareol, refined into sclareolide, which is added to scented soaps, cologne, shampoos, detergents, etc to greatly extend the life of their fragrance. It takes the place of ambergris which used to be extracted from sperm whales. Local farmers have embraced this plant which is temperamental to grow and harvest, but well worth the effort, making North Carolina the unofficial Clary Sage Capital of the World! Please read a great article in Our State magazine for fascinating information about its history and processing.

https://www.ourstate.com/clary-sages-smell-success/

Beyond its use in the fragrance industry, Clary Sage produces an essential oil used for centuries in a variety of treatments. Purchase only therapeutic grade oil for the following benefits:
  • Painkiller – Helps relieve headaches, back pain, muscle stiffness, and cramps.
    "Purple Clary Sage" photo by KL Wood
  • Eye Health –Known in the Middle Ages as "Clear Eyes."
  • Antiseptic – Used to cleanse wounds and may help protect the body during surgery and against other infections.
  • Aphrodisiac – Boosts libido and may improve sexual performance. 
  • Blood pressure regulator – Helps reduce blood pressure by relaxing the arteries.
  • Hair treatment – Believed to stimulate hair growth and can also limit the sebum produced in the scalp to treat dandruff.
  • Skin health promoter – Regulates oil production and reduces inflammation that contributes to dermatitis.
How to use Clary Sage essential oil: 
"Salvia Sclarea" Kurt Stueber via Wikipedia Commons

  • To soothe eye problems, soak a clean cloth in a mixture of warm water and a few drops of clary sage oil. Lay cloth over closed eyes for 10 minutes.
  • To relieve anxiety and emotional tension, inhale with the use of diffusers and burners.
  • To relieve muscle pain and menstrual cramps, mix with a carrier oil and massage into affected areas or add a few drops to your bath water.
  • To regulate the production of sebum in your skin, add a few drops to your moisturizer. 
-A word of caution, Clary Sage essential oil is known to increase the sedating effect of alcohol and other sedatives.-

Clary Sage figures prominently in my work-in-progress novel, Essentially Dead. My main character's beagle, Betty, has an obsession with its highly aromatic scent and likes to stop, drop, and roll in it if given the opportunity!

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! 

(As always: this post is for information only for adult use and does not replace medical advice. Тest out an oil first by placing a small diluted amount on your arm as a patch test. In particular, those who are or could be pregnant should always refer to their physicians before using any essential oils.) 






Wednesday, May 11, 2016

So Divine...Angelica Essential Oil

Angelica Archangelica photo By Kat- St Albans, United Kingdom
via Wikimedia Commons
The essential oil I'm showcasing today, Angelica, plays an important role in my cozy mystery work-in-progress, Essentially Dead. As the novel opens my main character, aromatherapist Verbena Brazwell, is on the hunt for lacey white Angelica flowers for her shop's display vases. What she discovers is anything but angelic.

The Angelica plant was deemed so beneficial to mankind, it was called Holy Spirit Root and its essential oil, "oil of the angels." Angelica Archangelica (usually just called Angelica) was said to have been introduced by the Archangel Michael and was widely used to help with the ravages of plague in medieval Europe. Today, Angelica essential oil is a prime ingredient in aromatherapists' arsenals. It has a woody/peppery/spicy aroma and can be dispelled into the air by diffusers, inhaled through steam applications, and massaged into the skin with carrier oils. Angelica covers a myriad of benefits including aids as:

-anti-spasmodic for cramps and coughs
-carminative for intestinal gas
-depurative for high blood pressure
"Garden Angelica" By Franz Eugen Köhle (Public Domain)
-diaphoretic to promote healthy perspiration
-digestive to stimulate digestive juices
-diuretic to aid urination
-hepatic to aid liver function
-emenagogue for menstrual symptoms
-expectorant for relief from excess phlegm
-febrifuge for fever
-nervine for nervous disorders
-relaxant for calming and soothing
-stimulant for positive internal actions
-stomachic for balancing stomach acids and bile
-a tonic substance for strengthening the immune system

No wonder Angelica was considered a gift from Heaven!

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! 

(As always: this post is for information only for adult use and does not replace medical advice. Тest out an oil first by placing a small diluted amount on your arm as a patch test. In particular, those who are or could be pregnant should always refer to their physicians before using any essential oils. Specifically Angelica should not be used in pregnancy or by diabetics and if applied topically, you should avoid direct sunlight for 24 hours.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Going to the Dogs...essential oils for canine comfort

"Sophie Selfie" photograph by KL Wood
Exciting news around our house! We have recently adopted a rescued seven month old female, wirehaired terrier mix. Nine pounds of love, joy, and some emotional baggage. She was brought to the Humane Society by an Animal Cruelty Officer from a home in which another dog had died of starvation while bound to a short rope. Heartbreaking. We have named her Sophie and are amazed at her intelligence and rapid adjustment to our family. She does, of course, have some fears that we are working through together so I thought I'd check on essential oil use for canine anxiety. 

It is important to remember that dogs react, physically and emotionally, differently to some oils than do we. So what's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander...or what's good for Kate isn't necessarily good for Sophie! And the information here is only for dogs. Not for cats. Felines respond differently than canines and can have fatal reactions to things that are just fine for dogs. Instead of listing oils that are not safe for dogs, I am going to give you some recipes that are helpful for them. (If you're like me, you might remember the good and the bad but not recall which was which!)

With all of these recipes: Never spray near eyes, nose, or mouth and if your dog doesn't like it, don't use it! The good thing about all of these mixtures is that they all smell lovely and have similar
"Sophie with her New Grandma" photograph by KL Wood
therapeutic properties for us humans.

For General Anxiety:
Mix these essential oils-
5-10 drops of Lavender and
5-10 drops of Roman Chamomile into
10 ounces of purified water
Pour into a spray bottle and lightly mist over your dog's coat.

For Hyper Sound Sensitivity:
Add any of these essential oils to your home diffuser-
Lavender 
Melissa 
Neroli

For Separation Anxiety:
Add these essential oils to your home diffuser-
"Happy Tail Wagging" photograph by KL Wood
8-10 drops of Sweet Orange and
4-5 drops of Lavender and
4-6 drops of Ylang Ylang

For YOU! For Odiferous Dogs:
Mix these essential oils-
10 drops of Lavender and
 6 drops of Sweet Orange and
 6 drops of Peppermint and
 3 drops of Eucalyptus into
 8 ounces of purified water
Pour into spray bottle and lightly mist over your dog's coat.

When buying essential oils, always buy the highest quality. You really do get what you pay for and you don't want to use oils that may be diluted with products unsafe for use with your dear pups. (Speaking of pups, wait until your puppy is older than 10 weeks to use the oils.)

"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small..." are deserving of our love and care.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! 

Kate (and Sophie Rose)




       


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring Allergies...essential oils to the rescue

To quote Nanki Poo in Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado:
"Pink Azaleas" photo by KL Wood

"Fresh Cut Lavender Flowers" by Lexipexi via Wikimedia Commons
"Lemons" by By Zeynel Cebeci  via Wikimedia Commons
"The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Tra la,

Breathe promise of merry sunshine..."

But for some of us, the flowers that bloom in the spring (tra la) breathe promise of runny noses, itchy eyes, and headaches. There are several essential oils that can bring relief to these less-than-welcome signs of spring. Three of the most popular and effective are:

Lavender- 
A natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. It also has the added bonus of cleansing the air and relaxing mind and body.

Lemon-
A natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. Helps relieve excess mucus and its fresh, citrus scent is uplifting. (Lemon can add to photosensitivity so go sparingly if you are going out into the sunlight.)

Peppermint-
An anti-inflammatory that helps open breathing passages. Its fragrance is energizing.

"Peppermint Plant" by By Gürkan Sengün  via Wikimedia Commons
These three are great individually and fantastic when combined with each other. Diffuse them in a home essential oil diffuser, mix them with a carrier oil of your choice (such as jojoba) or lotion and massage into your skin, add a few drops to your soaking bath, place drops on a cotton ball and inhale, mix with carrier oil in a roller ball bottle and apply to temples, back of neck, and pulse points.

So go out, breathe in Spring, (and carry an essential oil roller ball with you!)


Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! (Tra la!)

Kate
(As always: this post is for information only for adult use and does not replace medical advice. Тest out an oil first by placing a small diluted amount on your arm as a patch test. In particular, those who are or could be pregnant should always refer to their physicians before using any essential oils.) 







Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Spring- when a young man's fancy lightly turns to...Ylang Ylang!

Cananga Flower (Ylang Ylang Flowers) by Ks.mini via Wikimedia Commons 
Back in 1835, Alfred Lord Tennyson pronounced, "In the Spring young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." One might add that the warmth and promise of Spring turns all our thoughts to love! And the essential oil to help encourage such thoughts to move into desired channels of attention or just keep our own minds and hearts focused on the emotion of the season? According to aromatherapists, that would be Ylang Ylang. From my own experience with this essential oil in aromatherapy blends, I heartily agree. It has the most luscious, sensual fragrance you can imagine. No wonder it is often used in perfumes. And its fragrance is so concentrated, just a little bit goes a long way. Too much is overpowering.

Ylang Ylang is utilized as an:
Ylang
Ylang Ylang (
Cananga odorata) Essential Oil in clear glass vial
by Iteneranttrader via Wikimedia Commons
Antidepressant- its fragrance has qualities that lift the spirit, ease stress, and relax the body and mind
Antiseborrhoeic- helps regulate the natural sebum production in the skin, aiding in relief of seborrhoeic eczema
Antiseptic- acts as a disinfectant and inhibits microbial growth in wounds
Aphrodisiac- used in many cultures to stimulate those thoughts and feelings that arise come Springtime! (Also attributed to balancing hormone levels)
Hypotensive- its stress-lowering qualities contribute to a lower blood pressure
Nervine- boosts the nervous system and reduces emotional strain on nerves
Sedative- its ability to lower stress levels and calm the mind helps induce a good night's sleep (of course, if you are thinking all those "love thoughts" it encourages, that might keep you awake at night!)
Cananga Odorata in Maui, Hawaii by Forest and Kim Starr
via Wikimedia Commons

The essential oil of Ylang Ylang is steam distillation extracted from the fresh flowers of the Ylang Ylang tree, (Cananga Odorata,) commonly found in the rain forests of Asian and South Pacific Islands like Indonesia, Philippines, Java, Sumatra, Comoro and Polynesia. Its chief components are benzyl acetate, benzyl benzoate linalool, caryophyllene, geranyl acetate, methyl benzoate, p-cresyl methyl ether and other components known as Sesquiterpenes, all of which contribute to its fragrance and medicinal properties.

So inhale it, soak in a bath infused with it, massage it in with your carrier oil of choice, or lightly dab it on your skin, and lose yourself in Ylang Ylang's sensual, joyous cloud of Springlike goodness. 

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! (And inhale deeply...)

Kate
(As always: this post is for information only and does not replace medical advice. Тest out an oil first by placing a small diluted amount on your arm as a patch test. In particular, those who are or could be pregnant should always refer to their physicians before using any essential oils.)