Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Indigenous Peoples of the Circumpolar North (Arctic)

This semester I am taking a course on culture and environment in local and global prespectives, focusing on the Arctic region and the indigenous peoples of those areas, in particular Russia. I am enjoying learning about these different but wonderful cultures, though I am very concerned about the social, economical, and environmental problems these groups face. These troubles are not unlike what other indigenous groups throughout the world have suffered, abeit maybe in a colder and harsher environment. In my research I've found several awesome resources on the environmental, economic, and social problems of indigenous peoples of the Arctic region, and thought I'd share them.

Here is an awesome link to the Arctic Network for the Support of the Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Arctic. This site discusses a wide range of topics that the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation face: environmental, social, cultural, and economic issues. I love this site since it contains vast amounts of in depth, but easily comprehensive information!
For a great short summary of ecological, legislative, and economical issues and viewpoints, download the poster under the environmental and health articles (under the society and land section) titled:
Poster: Oil development and indigenous peoples in the Russian Arctic: Environmental changes, mistrust and dialogue, by W.K. Dallmann and V.V. Peskov. Note: I did not have trouble downloading this (I used Safari as my browser and opened it Photoshop) but some other browsers may have problems accessing this file.

One of the best resources I've found on environmental, social, cultural, and economic issues in the Arctic, focusing mainly on the Yukon region, is by a professor of Yukon College. Dr. Graham's course website has five modules online, which contain numerous articles on the circumpolar north. A good place to get a sense of the issues, including northern myths (stereotypes).

The University of Connecticut hosts a marvelous page on the Arctic called Arctic Circle. This website by Norman Chance (a well known Arctic anthropologist) and others contains in depth, but easy to understand research on natural resources, history, culture, environmental justice, and more! Not only does this site discuss these issues, but there are also examples of art and a virtual classroom.

The Alaska Native Knowledge Network has a lot of great information on the Alaska's indigenous people and their traditional knowledge systems, including publications (books and CDs). Definitely a great educational resource!

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a good resource to learn about Alaska's different indigenous peoples. They also provide numerous programs (in Alaska) to educate people about and preserve indigenous culture. If you are planning on visiting Alaska some time soon, be sure to check out their native art and culture programs out! They look awesome!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Online Aromatherapy Resources (Aromatherapy information)

Though I have a fairly large aromatherapy book collection, sometimes I like surfing online to find new articles and facts about my beloved essential oils! Here are a few of my favorite online resources on aromatherapy. :)

Aromaweb is probably the online resource I use the most! This website has it all: articles, essential oil and carrier oil profiles, recipes, lists of essential oil companies, and an awesome aromatherapy book list! Definitely my favorite!

Jeanne Rose's website has a lot of awesome articles on aromatherapy, herbalism, and natural cosmetics. She is one of the pioneers of modern day aromatherapy and herbalism and her books and articles are among my favorites in providing descriptions of the cosmetic and medicinal uses of essential oils and herbs.

AGORA's page has a lot of interesting articles on a wide range of aromatherapy topics. Some sections can be kind of hard to navigate through, but this site contains a wealth of information.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Carrier Oils for specific skin types (Aromatherapy/Natural Skin Care)

*This entry was editted July 13th.

I've suggested carrier oils for specific skin types before, but here's an expanded list. If one oil doesn't work for your skin, try a different oil. I've used all of these oils on my body with no problem, but my face is a different story! It took me a long time to find the right oils to use, but once I found them, my skin simply glows. Be sure to try to get cold pressed, unrefined, organic whenever possible; which has more vitamins and nutrients that highly refined oils.

Note: Though you can generously apply natural oils, creams, and butters on your body, apply only a small amount to your face. Natural serums (carrier oils plus essential oils) and creams are much more concentrated than the conventional stuff, and applying too much may clog pores and lead to blemishes. For the facial skin, apply no more than 2-5 drops of serum or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of natural cream. Be sure to apply to very damp skin. I like spraying my skin with hydrosol or aloe and then massaging the serum or cream in, though you could use toner or herbal infusion as well!

-Jojoba: actually a liquid wax, this oil is similar to sebum (the skin's natural oil). It has a long shelf life and will not go rancid. People love using this as a base for perfumes for this reason. You can use it full strength or add up to 10% to extend the life of other oils.
-Camellia: from the green tea plant. This is a very light weight oil that is good for all skin types from dry to blemished skin. This is my favorite oil for skin care. Great for anti-aging (actually most of the oils on this list are good for that). A bit pricey but worth it!
-Kukui nut oil: this oil is one of my favorites. It is good for both dry skin and blemishes. It absorbs quickly, and is very light weight (it is probably the lightest weight oil described here). It is also one of the most expensive. I like unrefined but some people may not like the smell. I actually love it, it reminds me of water melon seeds.

This skin type looks like dry skin, in other words finely textured and flaky, BUT the dry, flaky areas are also oily at the same time; the skin produces oil but evaporation of water/moisture occurs too quickly. Pores may be clogged. May have blemishes. The following list is what I use on my skin. This skin type is generally not discussed in most books.
-Kukui nut oil
-Kukui nut butter-I love this butter. Like the oil, it absorbs quickly. Totally non-greasy.
-Shea butter: this butter is good for blemishes too. It forms a breathable barrier on the skin that holds in moisture. It is also easily absorbed. Make sure you spray your skin with lots of hydrosol or water or aloe, and only apply a tiny amount (to avoid clogged pores).
-Some people with this skin type may find help with jojoba


Certain parts of the face are oily and other parts dry. Generally the t-zone is oily and the cheeks dry. This is different from dehydrated skin where the dry parts are also oily. Suggestions of carrier oils for this skin type are usually not given in books (some recommend using different oils for specific parts of the face) but I think the following would be suitable:
-Shea butter
-Kukui nut oil
-Hazelnut: this oil is light but astringent. Usually suitable for oily skin, some dry skins may like this as well.
-You may also want to try some of the other oils in the other lists below; many people like olive.

-Kukui nut and butter
-Argan: this medium weight nut oil is good for dry skin.
-Olive: this is a medium weight oil; heavier than grapeseed, almond, or kukui, but not as heavy as avocado. Many people with dry skin love this oil, and some people with normal skin love it too
-Avocado: this oil is very thick and rich; you may want to combine this with a lighter oil (up to 10% in a blend)
-Rosehip seed: this oil is a bit expensive, and is usually combined with other oils because of its expense. But you can use it full strength, if you like. Note: Do NOT use this oil on active acne or really oily skin, as it can aggrevate acne. However, it is great at getting rid of old scars (including acne scars).
-Coconut oil: many people love this oil for dry skin. However use only small amounts since too much may be a bit drying. Be sure to get extra-virgin, unrefined (which is solid when it is cool) since refined is very drying, contains less vitamins, and is a lot waxier. Not to mention refined doesn't smell like coconuts like extra-virgin, unrefined!
-Macadamia nut: this light, nourishing oil is great for mature, drying skin. It resembles sebum.
-Shea butter
-Seabuckthorn berry oil: this healing oil is high in vitamins and must be diluted in another carrier (it can stain some light skins orange)
-Hazelnut (only suitable for some people with dry skin since it's astringent)
-You can also try almond and apricot if your skin is only mildly dry.

-Almond: a good light all purpose oil. Often used for massage.
-Apricot: a nice light oil
-Kukui nut
-Many people also love olive and coconut oil

-Grapeseed: this light oil is well absorbed into the skin. Many people also like to use this oil for massage since it is so light. Most of the time this oil is solvent extracted, though a cold pressed version is available
-Kukui nut oil

For more information on the benefits of these oils, check out Mountain Rose Herbs, Aromaweb, and Nature's Gift. All three sites have oil profiles (MRH is my favorite).

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Carrier Oils, Essential Oils, Hydrosols (Aromatherapy/Natural Skin Care)

One thing that confuses people about aromatherapy and natural skin care is some of the terminology. Since I've posted a lot about carrier oils, essential oils, and hydrosols, I've finally decided to distinguish them below.

What is a carrier oil?

Carrier oils are just another name for any vegetable, nut, or seed (fatty) oil that is used in aromatherapy and natural skin care. They are called "carrier" oils because they are the oils that are used to dilute essential oils; the "carriers" or base of the blend. They are also sometimes called base oils. Examples include: olive, jojoba, and apricot oils.

A good, in depth explanation may be found at Aromaweb.

What are essential oils?

Though they are termed "oils", they are not greasy, "oily", or fatty, but are highly volatile substances. I've read many definitions from almost 30 books and there is no perfect definition on exactly what they are. What is agreed upon is that they are volatile substances, and that they are generally made of hundreds of chemical components that are responsible for a plant's fragrance as well as disease prevention and insect attraction/repelling activities.

Within the plant, essential oils are stored in special plant cells. Depending on the plant species, these cells can be found in either the leaves, flowers, roots, bark, fruit peel, or seed (fruit). One plant may yield up to several different types of essential oil. For example, neroli (flowers), petitgrain (leaves), and bitter orange (peel) essential oil all come from the same plant: Citrus aurantium, the orange tree. Not all plants have essential oils.

Plant matter is typically steam distilled to produce essential oils, though some (mainly citrus peels) are obtained by expression (pressing), and others (in particularly delicate and expensive flowers) may be extracted by solvents. There is also a new extraction method that involves CO2 that some people consider produces the purest product, though CO2 extracts contain many of the plant's waxes and constitutes not found in other types of essential oils. Since CO2 extraction is such a new method, all of the medicinal and cosmetic benefits of CO2 extracts are not yet known.

Aromaweb also has a great article describing essential oils in detail.

What is a hydrosol?

In the process of creating essential oils (steam distillation), two end products are created: essential oils and hydrosols. Hydrosols, also called flower waters or hydrolates, can be thought of as a distilled herbal water--kind of a fancy way of producing an herbal tea that has many more components than a regular herbal tea, and also contains trace amounts of essential oils. They also have one up on regular herbal teas in that they have a shelf life of 3-4 months rather than days. Popular hydrosols that you may have heard of are rose water and orange flower (neroli) water that are often used in many cosmetic recipes as well in Indian and many Middle Eastern cuisines.

Please note when buying hydrosols that there are two products that are called "flower waters". The other is basically essential oil mixed with distilled water; which is a different product. This type of flower water makes a wonderful all purpose aromatherapy spray, but should NOT be used in cooking. Though I've used the essential oil type of flower water in skin care, I much prefer the true hydrosol for use as a skin toner.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Vegan article (Vegetation Information/News)

There is a good article in the Washington Post's Sunday Source section on veganism called"Vegan Venture: Going All-Veggie in the Company of Carnivores" By Bridget Bentz Siz. It includes four recipes that has been rated by a panel of five eaters (including a meat eater). The recipes include chocolate cake and a nut loaf. It also includes a section on the best vegan restaurants in the D.C. area.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Farmer's Market (Market information)

I recently found an awesome website from the USDA that lists all of the farmers' markets in every state (plus D.C.). I never knew there were so many farmers' markets in the VA and D.C. areas; if I actually have any time soon, I'm going to try to go to some of them!

Blog update

Hi all,

This blog is still undergoing updates; still in the process of placing all my old posts into links on the right side bar, so it'll be easier to find information! Almost done with that (just a few of the earlier posts left to do), and then I'll work on adding more environmental and skin care links (other resources). :)