Monday, November 13, 2006

Lemon Ginger Tea (Herbal Information/Cold Remedy)

With the cold season coming on, I thought I'd post my favorite cold remedy tea: Lemon Ginger tea. Lemon is antiviral and antibacterial, and ginger is also good for colds and flu. If you add honey, it is good for soothing throats too. (Unfortunately I can not eat honey anymore; but I still love the taste without it--most people don't, LOL!)

Lemon Ginger tea

Boil some water and add some fresh ginger root (a few slices) and simmer for at least 15 minutes (with the cover on). Take it off the heat, add a few slices of fresh lemon and let steep (with the cover on) for at least 20 minutes. Add honey and drink hot (it should still be hot, if you kept the cover on, if not, just bring it to a boil again).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Questions On Various Natural Cosmetic Ingredients (Natural Skin Care)

Random FAQ from a few weeks ago.

What carrier oils are good for my skin type?

Check out my blog entry on Carrier oils and skin type (I actually need to edit this list, as I've just received several new oils!)

What liquid cleanser can I use on my face?

You can use plain castille liquid soap, which is an olive oil based soap. Many natural companies such as Aubrey Organics and Terressentials (see links) also make nice soap based cleansers. I've been using soapwort as a cleanser recently.

My shea butter is so grainy. Is there a way to fix this?

After you melt in your hands, apply only a small amount to really, really damp skin.

I haven't tried this (I haven't had a problem with my shea being grainy) but I've read you can melt all of your shea in a double broiler over very, very low for at least 15 to 20 minutes, and then let it cool quickly, like in the fridge or freezer; cooling it down fast prevents crystals from forming.

Next time, you can also try east shea (a subspecies), which is softer/creamier and very easy to spread.

Which butter is better? Shea, cocoa, or mango butter?

Depends on your skin type. I love shea the most, which is helpful for my dehydrated skin which can get dry and blemished. While shea can be used by most skin types (except maybe the very oily), cocoa butter is better for dry skin, though some people with normal, dehydrated, and combination skin can also use it. Cocoa butter probably needs to melted and mixed a carrier oil before use, or you can just melt a little in the palm of your hand. I like both shea and cocoa butter in creams. Haven't tried mango yet, but intend to soon.

What is whipped shea?

It is basically when you whip shea, like whipped dairy butter! I plan on making this soon.

How do I make my own perfumes? What can I use to make perfumes? Is there a rose scented oil?

I've posted about natural perfumes concentrations and miy and where to buy and more notes and resources. You can make one with rose essential oil (aka rose attar) or rose absolute. Dilute in a carrier like vodka, perfumer's alcohol or jojoba. Rose attar is one of the most expensive essential oils ($1-2 a drop) but so worth it, the absolute is less expensive and some people prefer the smell of the absolute over rose attar. I love rose attar, it's one of my favorites. Though expensive you don't use that much essential oil and it ends up being much cheaper than commerical perfumes once you dilute it. And it smells way more heavenly than the commerical brands.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Insect Repellents on Animals (Aromatherapy)

Meant to post this a while back.

Can I use essential oils on pets for fleas, mosquitos etc?

There are many essential oils that are effective moisquito repellents for use on humans, but I don't know too much about what essential oils are safe to use on dogs (some essential oils that are used on humans are very toxic on other animals). I haven't researched this too much, since I'm a cat person and essential oils are toxic to cats. Some are fine to use on dogs.

There is one book which is supposed to be the best source for essential oils on animals called Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell (who is incidentally the owner of the mineral makeup company Aromaleigh--I am so sad they moved away from being all natural so i don't use their products any longer. Anyways...)

There is another book called "Veterinary Aromatherapy" but Aromaweb (an aromatherapy website) cautions about some of the advice in this book.

I do not have these books yet, but I suggest getting the one by Bell since she is considered the expert in aromatherapy for animals.

Worwood's complete book of aromatherapy also has some info on use on animals, but since it was written in 1995, and she recommends using essential oils on cats which has since been shown to be toxic, the info from that book is dated for animals (though it is considered one of the aromatherapy bibles for humans)

Be sure to dilute the essential oils well (probably only at the 1/2 to 1% concentration or less; remember: less is better!) or consider using hydrosols, which are much more gentle.

It would probably be better to use essential oils on a collar rather than on the fur so your dog can't lick it off.

Vermont soap sells dog shampoo, and Aubrey Organics has dog shampoo, a dip for fleas, and a spray. You can look at the ingredients to get an idea of what you can use. (For cat lovers reading this, please don't use these products on cats. Use plain castille soap to wash kitty if it is absolutely necessary).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Essential oil storage, shelf life, old oils, and also use in pregnancy (Aromatherapy)

What is the shelf life of essential oils?

Depends on the essential oil. Citrus oils have the shortest shelf life of about 6 months to a year, so be sure to buy from a reputable dealer which has a high turnover rate. For citrus essential oils I highly recommend not buying them in a store (unless it is a store like Enfluerage) but rather an online essential oil dealer, since essential oils in a store may have been sitting there for a while. Most essential oils will last anywhere from 1 to 2 years, some people say they are good for up to four years, with a slight loss of quality. I tend to agree with the 1-2 year opinion, because I have a couple essential oils that are pushing 2 years, and the smell has changed. If you aren't using them often, be sure to refrigerate them, which will extend the shelf life, as much as twice as long. A few essential oils, such as vertivert, frankinscene etc (most of the resinous or heartwood ones) may have a shelf life of several years.

What is the best way to store essential oils?

The best way is to refrigerate them and make sure that there is no space in the bottles so there is no room for air in the bottles (which causes degradation). If they are in the fridge, it won't matter if the glass is clear. But if you store them elsewhere, it is better to have colored glass. If you can't store them all in the fridge than any cool, dark (but not damp/humid) place will work great! Do not store them in the bathroom--too humid. I personally don't store my essential oils in the fridge but I generally use them within a year or two (or less, especially like citrus essential oils).

What do I do with old oils?

I think either a lot of people use or just throw away old oils (moaning and complaining of course since some of them are quite pricey). Though I wouldn't use old essential oils for cosmetic or medicinal uses (old essential oils may undergo some chemical changes and lose their cosmetic/medicinal properties) there is no reason why you can't use them to scent your clothes (place a few drops on a cotton ball), letters, ink etc.

Can I use essential oils during pregnancy?

I'm not an expert in this (since I've never been pregnant) but I have read some about the topic. Generally a lot of aromatherapy authors have stated that essential oils should be used at lower concentrations (1/2 to 1%) and list only a few that can be used during this time, and many should be avoided. Different authors have different lists, but most of the lists of essential oils ok to use include some of the citrus peel oils (like mandarin or tangerine) or lavender (depends on the species; recommended is L. angustofolia. You probably shouldn't use Lavendula latifolia aka spike lavender since that is high in camphor; all camphor rich oils should be avoided). But there seems to be conflict with many authors lists from what I've seen. Like several authors list chamomile and rose as okay to use, but then another listed it to be used with caution during pregnancy (though it can be used). Geranium has been cited by many authors as safe to use; but that never made since to me since geranium can have hormone-like activity. (Tisserand and Balacs listed both chamomiles, rose, and geranium as safe to use, and I generally trust their suggestions since they have conducted a lot of scientific tests on the essential oils; though their book is from 2000 so may be a little dated)