Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The causes of Ageing Skin.


What causes the ageing process in skin:

Research shows that there are two distinct types of aging. Aging caused by the genes we inherit is called intrinsic (internal) aging. The other type of aging is known as extrinsic (external) aging and is caused by environmental factors, such as UV Sun exposure and Wind exposure.

~Intrinsic aging, also known as the natural aging process, is a continuous process that normally begins in our mid-20s. Within the skin, collagen production slows, and elastin, the substance that enables skin to snap back into place, has a bit less spring. Dead skin cells do not shed as quickly and turnover of new skin cells may decrease slightly. While these changes usually begin in our 20s, the signs of intrinsic aging are typically not visible for decades.

~A number of extrinsic, or external, factors often act together with the normal aging process to prematurely age our skin. Most premature aging is caused by sun exposure. Other external factors that prematurely age our skin are repetitive facial expressions, gravity, sleeping positions, and smoking.

-Prematurely Aged Skin:

Prematurely aged skin suffers from decreased cellular turnover, photodamage and a loss of collagen and elastin. Approximately every 27 days new skin is regenerated through skin cell turnover. The bottom layer, known as stratum corneum, is where new skin cells originate. As cells are created they crowd and are pushed upward into the next higher layer. As the cells move into the higher layers, they flatten and eventually die. As old, dead skin cells reach the outer surface, they slough off replaced by the upward moving cells below them. This process can take from 40 – 120 days in adult skin. When dead skin cells do not shed rapidly, it results in a dry, dull, wrinkled, uneven complexion.

-Signs of Aging:

-Intrinsic Aging (Internal):

~Dull Complexion.
~Fine Lines and wrinkles.
~Loss of skin firmness.

-Extrinsic Aging (External):

~Rough skin texture.
~Brown spots/pigmentation.
~Excessive Wrinkles/Deep lines.
~Uneven skin Tone.

What you can do to help ease the aging process, both internal and external:

External: Limit sun and wind exposure, and pollutants such as cigarette smoke. Wear a sunscreen of at least 40 SPF if you go out in the sun, rubbing it over the back of your hands as well as your face, chest and ears. Wear proper UV protection sunglasses to avoid squinting. Wash your skin at night with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water. Exfoliate at least once weekly to help cellular turnover. Use an unscented, moisturizing cream or Retinol cream after cleansing at night. 

Internal: Take a daily supplement of CoQ10, Alpha-lipoic acid and Omega fatty acid from a reputable company *(I recommend the AOR company for all supplements.) Be sure to drink plenty of fresh water, green tea and Pomegranate Juice  (because it is loaded with powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that help protect the skin from the inside). Eat plenty of colorful fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, Yogurt, Olive oil and any healthy (Omega) fats. *Limit sugar intake, sugar substitutes as well as any fat substitutes or trans fats (Margerine), these items cause oxidation and harm the skin internally.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stretch marks; prevention and treatment.

~Stretch marks, no one wants them, but lets face it most of us will get at least a few. Here is a list of the best ways possible to treat and prevent them. *I added a great video about Fraxel Laser stretch mark treatments so you can see what that looks like.


~ Causes:

~Stretch marks are often the result of the rapid stretching of the skin associated with rapid growth and hormonal changes (common in puberty) or weight gain (e.g. pregnancy, muscle building, or rapid weight gain). In some cases, severe pulling force on skin that overcomes the dermis's elasticity.

 ~They first appear as reddish or purple lines, but tend to gradually fade to a lighter range. The affected areas appear empty and are soft to the touch.

~Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the resilient middle layer that helps the skin retain its shape. No stretch marks will form as long as there is support within the dermis. Stretching plays more of a role in where the marks occur and in what direction they run. Stretching alone is not the cause.

~A number of causes promote the appearance of stretchmarks: one study of 324 women just after giving birth demonstrated that low maternal age, high body mass index, weight gain over 15 kg (31 pounds) and higher neonatal birth weight were independently associated with the occurrence of striae. Teenagers are at highest risk of developing severe striae (lines).

~The Glucocorticoid hormones responsible for the development of stretch marks affect the dermis by preventing the fibroblasts from forming collagen and elastin fibers, necessary to keep rapidly growing skin taut. This creates a lack of supportive material, as the skin is stretched and leads to dermal and epidermal tearing.


Between 75% and 90% of women develop stretch marks to some degree during pregnancy. The sustained hormonal levels as a result of pregnancy usually means stretch marks may appear during the sixth or seventh month, primarily during the 3rd trimester, as that is when skin tends to be subjected to higher levels of stretching forces.

~A German research team tested the application of massage and cream and found that only one-third of women with this treatment developed stretchmarks, while two-thirds of an untreated control group developed stretchmarks, but it is not clear if this was a double-blind study.

~A randomized controlled study tested whether oils or creams prevent the development of stretchmarks. This study found a daily application of a cream containing Gotu Cola extract and vitamin E was associated with fewer stretch marks during pregnancy. Another study, though lacking a placebo control, examined a cream (Verum) containing vitamin E, panthenol, hyaluronic acid, elastin and menthol. It was associated with fewer stretch marks during pregnancy versus no treatment. During pregnancy, stretch marks cannot be avoided but if the pregnant woman keeps her skin moisturized, the itchiness can be prevented which causes because of the dry, stretched skin.
Another randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind study of 300 women tested Cocoa Butter. The result was not found to be a statistically significant difference.


~Various treatments are available for the purpose of improving the appearance of existing stretch marks; including laser treatments, dermabrasion, and prescription retinoids(Retin-A).

~A study in the "Journal of Dermatologic Surgery" showed that radiofrequency combined with 585-nm pulsed dye laser treatment gave "good and very good" subjective improvement in stretch marks in 33 of 37 patients, although further studies would be required to follow up on these results. In addition, the use of a pulsed dye laser was shown to increase pigmentation in darker skinned individuals with repeated treatment.

~If the epidermis and the dermis has been penetrated, laser will not remove the stretch marks.
A surgical procedure for removing lower abdominal stretch marks is the tummy tuck, which removes the skin below the navel where stretch marks frequently occur.

~A new modality, fractional laser resurfacing, offers a novel approach to treating striae. Using scattered pulses of light only a fraction of the scar is zapped by the laser over the course of several treatments. This creates microscopic wounds. The body responds to each treatment by producing new collagen and epithelium. In a 2007 clinical trial, 5-6 treatments resulted in striae improving by as much as 75 percent.  A 2007 Brazilian clinical study showed that fractional laser resurfacing improved both texture and appearance of mature, white striae in skin types I-IV.

~A recent study of new modality for the treatment of stretch mark published in the "Journal of Dermatological Treatment" was done on seventeen females with stretch marks that underwent six weekly treatments. Results showed that at one week after the final (sixth) treatment 38.2% and 11.8% of the patients were assessed to have 25-50% and 51-75% improvement in the appearance of their stretch marks, respectively. The long term effect of the treatment was confirmed during the 6 weeks follow up which showed that a higher percentage of the patients were rated to have improvement of their stretch marks, including 26.5% and 5.9% showing 51-75% and >75% improvement, respectively. None of the participants was rated as having no improvement in their clinical appearance of stretch marks. Patient satisfaction was also measured and 65% of patients reported that they were very satisfied with the treatment, 23% were satisfied and 12% were slightly satisfied.


  1. ^ Bernstein, Eric. What Causes Stretch Marks?. 15 December 2008. The Patient's Guide to Stretch Marks. 10 Feb 2009
  2. ^ "Stretch Mark". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  3. ^ "How to prevent and treat stretch marks". iVillage. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  4. ^ Atwal, G.S.S.; Manku, L.K.; Griffiths, C.E.M.; Polson, D.W. (2006). "Striae gravidarum in primiparae". British Journal of Dermatology 155 (5): 965–9. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2006.07427.x. PMID 17034526.
  5. ^ "Role of Hormones In the Development of Stretch Marks". Stretch Marks. Retrieved 2009-11-01.[unreliable medical source?]
  6. ^ Wierrani, F; Kozak, W; Schramm, W; Gr├╝nberger, W (1992). "Attempt of preventive treatment of striae gravidarum using preventive massage ointment administration". Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 104 (2): 42–4. PMID 1609525.
  7. ^ Mallol, J.; Belda, M.A.; Costa, D.; Noval, A.; Sola, M. (1991). "Prophylaxis of Striae gravidarum with a topical formulation. A double blind trial". International Journal of Cosmetic Science 13 (1): 51–57. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2494.1991.tb00547.x. PMID 19291041.
  8. ^ a b Young, Gavin; Jewell, David; Young, Gavin (1996). Young, Gavin. ed. "Creams for preventing stretch marks in pregnancy". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000066.
  9. ^ Stretch Marks During Pregnancy PregnancyBest. Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  10. ^ Buchanan, Keisha; Fletcher, Horace M.; Reid, Marvin (2010). "Prevention of striae gravidarum with cocoa butter cream". International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 108 (1): 65–8. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2009.08.008. PMID 19793585.
  11. ^ Suh, Dong-HYE; Chang, KA-Yeun; Son, HO-Chan; Ryu, JI-HO; Lee, Sang-JUN; Song, KYE-Yong (2007). "Radiofrequency and 585-nm Pulsed Dye Laser Treatment of Striae Distensae: A Report of 37 Asian Patients". Dermatologic Surgery 33 (1): 29–34. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2007.33004.x. PMID 17214676.
  12. ^ "Cell Therapy Targets Gum Disease, Stretch Marks". Sexual Health. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  13. ^ Petrou I (February 2007). "Fractional photothermolysis tackles striae distensae". Dermatology Times 28 (2): 94–106. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
  14. ^ "Fractional photothermolysis for the treatment of striae distensae". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 56 (2, Supplement 2): AB204–AB204. 2007. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2006.10.931.
  15. ^ Manuskiatti, Woraphong; Boonthaweeyuwat, Einapak; Varothai, Supenya (2009). "Treatment of striae distensae with a TriPollar radiofrequency device: A pilot study". Journal of Dermatological Treatment 20 (6): 359–64. doi:10.1080/09546630903085278. PMID 19954393.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Essential oils. ( Part Two)

While the scent is nice to have in the air, essential oils benefit you the most when they get into your bloodstream. They re-establish harmony, revitalize systems and organs where there is a malfunction or lack of balance. They boost the immune system, making it strong enough to fight off the diseases attacking every day. Essential oils balance emotions, to some degree. They help revive a tired mind and stimulate memory.  Different fragrances of essential oils will relax, revitalize or renew your mind, body and soul.

** WARNING: Never use a fake essential oil or perfume oil, see my post: Essential oils. ( Part One) for details.

~Essential oils are absorbed into the body a couple of ways:
  1. When massaged into the skin, essential oils are absorbed into the hair follicles and mix with sebum at the base. They are then diffused into the bloodstream.

  2. When the scent is inhaled, it enters the nose, moves to the lining of the lungs and is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.

~Here is a helpful list of all pure essential oils and their properties:

-Allspice Berry- The oil has a warm, spicy-sweet aroma. It is used in spicy or masculine scents. It combines well with orange, ginger, patchouli and all of the spice oils including cinnamon, cassia and clove. Aromatherapy benefits: warming, cheering, comforting, nurturing.

- Amyris is also known as West Indian sandalwood, although unrelated to the true Indian sandalwood. It has a woody, slightly sweet, balsamic aroma, suggestive of sandalwood. Amyris is used as a fragrance fixative-it slows the evaporation and dissipation of the fragrance it is added to. It blends well with cedarwood, jasmine and rose scents. Aromatherapy benefits: strengthening, centering.

- Anise and star anise are often used and sold interchangeably because they are similar in aroma and chemical make-up. he primary constituent of both is anethole, a sweet substance that solidifies at room temperature. If this happens simply warm the bottle in a warm water bath until the oil liquefies. Aromatherapy benefits: cheering, mildly euphoric.

-Basil, Sweet : There are many types of basil: linalool basil, exotic basil and sweet basil. The odor of the linalool type is very green, floral-sweet and is most often used in expensive perfumes. The exotic type of basil is stronger with a hint of camphor. Frontier's sweet basil type combines both qualities in a floral-spicy aroma with a lasting herbal sweetness. Clary sage, bergamot and lime oil work well with basil oil. Aromatherapy benefits: clarifying, uplifting, energizing, refreshing.

- Bay oil is distilled from the leaves and small twigs of the bay rum tree. It has a powerful, spicy, sweet aroma with a distinctive clove note. It is used to produce bay rum fragrance and as a component of fresh, spicy scents. Aromatherapy benefits: clarifying, warming.

— Bergamot oil is cold-pressed from the peel of the nearly ripe fruit. The aroma of bergamot oil is fresh, lively, fruity and sweet. It is an excellent deodorizer. It contains a constituent called bergaptene that increases the skin's sensitivity to sunlight. Bergamot BF means "bergaptene free." Most of the sensitizing bergaptene constituent has been distilled out of this product but traces may still remain. Aromatherapy benefits: uplifting, inspiring, confidence-building.

- Camphor is the grade preferred in scenting detergents, soaps, disinfectants, deodorants, room sprays and other household products. Aromatherapy benefits: clarifying, energizing, purifying.

- Cardamom oil has a spicy, camphor-like aroma with floral undertones. It imparts a warm note to masculine scents and floral perfumes. It blends well with bergamot, frankincense, ylang ylang, cedarwood and coriander. Aromatherapy benefits: warming, comforting, alluring.

- Carrot seed oil is distilled from the seed of the common carrot. Its aroma is dry-woody, somewhat sweet and earthy. In perfumery, carrot seed oil is appreciated for the interesting fatty-woody note it lends to Oriental, fantasy, and nature-type perfumes. It is an excellent addition to skin care oils. Aromatherapy benefits: replenishing, nourishing, restoring.

- Cassia, or Chinese cinnamon, is the spice sold as cinnamon in the United States. Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is considered the true cinnamon in most of the rest of the world. The two are similar in taste, though Ceylon cinnamon has a sweeter, more delicate flavor. The oils of both contain cinnamic aldehyde as the major component, with cassia having the larger amount. Caution: Cassia oil is very irritating to the skin and should be handled with care. Aromatherapy benefits: comforting, energizing, warming.

- Cedar grows in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria. The aroma of Atlas cedar is woody, oily and slightly animal-like. The tree is closely related to the famous centuries-old biblical cedars of Lebanon now protected from further destruction by law. Atlas cedar is used for its aroma and fixative powers in soaps and perfumes. It blends well with woody, floral fragrances. Aromatherapy benefits: stabilizing, centering, strengthening.

-Cedarwood, Red - Red cedarwood essential oil actually comes from a type of juniper known as Juniperus virginiana, whose common name is eastern red cedar. The balsamic-woody aroma of cedarwood oil evokes a feeling of inner strength and centeredness. It is quite useful in times of emotional stress and anxiety to overcome feelings of powerlessness.

- German chamomile is also known as blue chamomile. The color of the oil is deep blue, turning green then brown with age and exposure to light. The odor is sweet, tobacco-like and fruity, apple-like. It adds a warm, long-lasting, rich undertone in perfumes. Chamomile is a mild, soothing oil and is popular in massage blends and other herbal preparations. Aromatherapy benefits: calming, relaxing, soothing.

- Roman chamomile contains only trace amounts of the intense blue component azulene, which gives German chamomile its color. This oil is commonly used in perfumery. It blends well with bergamot, jasmine, neroli and clary sage, lending a warm, fresh note when added in small quantities. The aroma is not long-lasting like that of the German chamomile but it is a mild, soothing oil. Aromatherapy benefits: relaxing, calming.

- Wild or Moroccan chamomile is related to Roman chamomile. While the fragrance of these two are somewhat similar, wild chamomile is distinct enough to have earned its own place in perfumery. Wild chamomile has a fresh, herbal note and a rich, balsamic, sweet undertone which is very long-lasting. It blends well with woody fragrances like cypress, as well as citrus oils and musk scents like angelica. Aromatherapy benefits: soothing, nurturing.

-  Ceylon cinnamon, this is the true cinnamon of world commerce. Its aroma is similar to cassia, or Chinese cinnamon. The aroma of Ceylon cinnamon is preferred to cassia for perfume where it gives a warm, floral-enhancing effect. Cinnamon oil blends well with oriental-woody notes and is often combined with frankincense. It is a skin irritant and should be handled with care. Aromatherapy benefits: comforting, warming.

- Cinnamon leaf oil is distilled from the leaves of the same tree that produces cinnamon bark oil. The aroma is more reminiscent of cloves than cinnamon due to the large amount of eugenol in the oil. It is often used in Oriental fragrances. Use with care, cinnamon leaf can irritate the skin. Aromatherapy benefits: refreshing, vitalizing.

- Citronella: There are two types of citronella: the Java type and the Ceylon type. The Ceylon type. While the grass that produces the Java oil is grown in many parts of the tropical world, the Ceylon type is cultivated in Sri Lanka. The oils produced from the two types of grasses vary somewhat in composition, aroma and flavor. The odor of Ceylon citronella is fresh, grassy and warm-woody. It is preferred for scenting outdoor sprays, room sprays and household products. Java oil has a sweeter, more floral aroma which is preferred in perfumery. Aromatherapy benefits: purifying, vitalizing.

- Clary sage oil has a spicy, hay-like, bittersweet aroma. It combines well with coriander, cardamom, citrus oils, sandalwood, cedarwood, geranium and lavandin. The aroma of clary sage is long-lasting and the oil is valued as a fixative for other scents. Aromatherapy benefits: centering, euphoric, visualizing.

- Clove oil is distilled from the whole dried flower buds of the clove tree. Inferior oils are distilled from the leaves and stems and are sometimes sold as clove oil without any designation of the source. Clove bud oil has a powerful, spicy-fruity, warm, sweet aroma. Clove oil is highly irritating to the skin and should be handled with caution. Aromatherapy benefits: warming, comforting.

- Coriander oil has a delightful fragrance: spicy, aromatic, pleasantly sweet, not unlike bergamot orange. It blends well with clary sage, bergamot, cinnamon bark, jasmine and frankincense for use in spicy, masculine perfumes or light, floral colognes. Aromatherapy benefits: nurturing, supportive.

-Cypress - The oil has a refreshing, spicy, juniper and pine needle-like aroma and is often used as a modifier in pine fragrances. It blends well with lavender, clary sage, citrus and Angelica. Aromatherapy benefits: purifying, balancing.
- Eucalyptus - Of the 300 species of eucalyptus trees in the world, Eucalyptus globulus is the best known. Eucalyptus has long been used in topical preparations such as liniments and salves. Cineole is the major constituent. Aromatherapy benefits: purifying, invigorating.
- Fennel, Sweet - Sweet fennel oil has a very sweet, earthy, anise-like aroma due to its primary constituent, anethole. Sweet fennel usually contains more anethole than bitter fennel oil. Aromatherapy benefits: nurturing, supportive, restorative.

-Frankincense - Various species of frankincense trees grow wild throughout Western India, Northeastern Africa and Southern Saudi Arabia. The oil is distilled from the gum resin that oozes from incisions made in the bark of the trees. The oil is spicy, balsamic, green-lemon-like and peppery. It modifies the sweetness of citrus oils such as orange and bergamot. It is also the base for incense type perfumes and is important in Oriental, floral, spice and masculine scents. Aromatherapy benefits: calming, visualizing, meditative.
- Geranium (Bourbon) - This oil is one of the most important perfumery oils and is an important ingredient in all types of fragrances. It has a powerful, leafy-rose aroma with fruity, mint undertones. Bourbon oil, from the island of Reunion, is considered the finest grade, and has the best staying power. It is used in skin care products for both its fragrance and its toning, cleansing properties. Aromatherapy benefits: soothing, mood-lifting, balancing.
-Ginger - Ginger oil has a warm, spicy-woody odor. It blends well with spice and citrus oils. Aromatherapy benefits: warming, strengthening, anchoring.
Grapefruit - Our oil is cold-pressed from the peel of the common grapefruit. It has a fresh, sweet, bitter, citrus aroma. It is used to scent citrus perfumes and colognes, soaps, creams and lotions. Aromatherapy benefits: refreshing, cheering.
-Hyssop - Historically, hyssop herb was regarded as a sacred plant and was used as a strewing herb and incense to purify holy places. The scent of the oil is reminiscent of the herb; spicy, sweet, woody and strong. It blends well with clove, lavender, rosemary, myrtle, sage, clary sage and citrus oils. Aromatherapy benefits: refreshing, purifying.
-Jasmine Absolute - The fragrance of jasmine is a component in so many perfumes that there is an old saying: "No perfume is complete without jasmine." Artificial jasmine cannot begin to compete with the full, rich, honey-like sweetness of true jasmine, despite the efforts of the best perfume chemists in the world. Great expense goes into producing pure jasmine oil. The flowers must be hand-picked before dawn when the essence is at its peak, and large quantities are needed to produce small amounts of oil. Aromatherapy benefits: calming, relaxing, sensual, romantic.
-Juniper Berry - Juniper berry oil is distilled from the dried ripe berry of the juniper tree. Juniper berry oil has a fresh, warm, balsamic, woody-pine needle odor. It is used with citrus oils in room sprays and in masculine and outdoorsy perfumes, after shaves and spicy colognes. Aromatherapy benefits: supportive, restoring.

- Lavandin - Lavandin is a hybrid plant, the result of a natural cross-pollination of true lavender and spike lavender. The oil has a woody, spicy-green, camphor aroma. It is used in herbaceous colognes and blends well with numerous other oils including cypress, geranium, citronella, clove, cinnamon leaf, pine, thyme and patchouli. The scent is not very tenacious and requires the addition of a fixative when it needs to last more than a few hours. Aromatherapy benefits: balancing, clarifying, purifying.
-Lavender - Lavender oil is used in baths, room sprays, toilet waters, perfumes, colognes, massage oils, sachets, salves, skin lotions and oils. It has a sweet, balsamic, floral aroma which combines well with many oils including citrus, clove, patchouli, rosemary, clary sage and pine. Aromatherapy benefits: balancing, soothing, normalizing, calming, relaxing, healing. 

-Lavender Spike - The oil from the flowering plant has a fresh, eucalyptus-like aroma, somewhat like a combination of eucalyptus and lavender. It is used to scent room sprays, deodorants, soaps, disinfectants and insect repellents. It blends well with rosemary, lavandin, eucalyptus, lavender, rosewood, petitgrain and pine oils. Aromatherapy benefits: purifying.
-Lemon - Our lemon oil is cold-pressed, a much better oil than distilled. The scent is evocative of the fresh ripe peel. Lemon oil in the bath or in massage oils should be well diluted as it can cause skin irritation. Caution: avoid using the oil in body care products when going out into the sun as it can cause redness and burning of the skin. Aromatherapy benefits: uplifting, refreshing, cheering.

-Lemon Eucalyptus - The aroma of Eucalyptus citriodora is similar to the aroma of citronella. Both contain citronellal as a major component. Eucalyptus citriodora has a fresh, rosy, grass-like aroma. It blends well with eucalyptus globulus, moderating that oils somewhat medicinal aroma. Aromatherapy benefits: purifying, invigorating.

-Lemongrass - Lemongrass oil is distilled from a tropical grass native to Asia. It has a powerful, lemony, grassy aroma. It is used in insect repellents, room sprays, soaps and detergents. Aromatherapy benefits: vitalizing, cleansing.

-Lime - Two types of lime oil are commonly sold: distilled and cold-pressed. Distilled oil is pale yellow or clear in color with a perfumey-fruity, limeade aroma. Pressed oil, which we offer, is yellowish to green in color, with a rich, fresh, lime peel aroma. While pressed lime oil is produced in smaller quantities and is more expensive than distilled lime oil, it is preferred in aromatherapy. Lime oil applied to the skin, may, in the presence of sunlight, cause a skin reaction. Aromatherapy benefits: refreshing, cheering.

-Marjoram, Sweet - Sweet marjoram is distilled from the leaves and flowering tops of the same plant that produces the culinary herb. The aroma of the oil is warm and spicy, with a hint of nutmeg. It is used in masculine, Oriental, and herbal-spicy perfumes and colognes. Wild marjoram, (see below) is often substituted for sweet marjoram, but the two are not interchangeable in aromatherapy. Aromatherapy benefits: warming, balancing.

-Marjoram, Wild - Wild marjoram oil is not a variety of marjoram but is actually distilled from a species of wild thyme which grows in Spain. The oil has a strong, sweet-spicy, eucalyptus fragrance and is used in small amounts in massage oils for its invigorating effect. Aromatherapy benefits: purifying, clarifying.

-Myrrh - Natural myrrh resin is one of the oldest known perfumery materials. The oil has a balsamic, warm and spicy aroma that blends well in Oriental, woody and forest-type perfumes. It is also used in ointments and other skin care products. Myrrh was used as incense and in embalming preparation in ancient Egypt. Aromatherapy benefits: centering, visualizing, meditative.

-Myrtle - Myrtle is an evergreen shrub that grows wild throughout the Mediterranean. The oil has a distinct, spicy, camphor-like aroma. The better oils exhibit a sweeter, fresher note. Myrtle oil is used to add a spicy, herbal component to outdoors and natural-type colognes. It blends well with bergamot, lavandin, lavender, rosemary, clary sage and lime oils. Aromatherapy benefits: clarifying, cleansing.

- Neroli - Oil of neroli is distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree. It has a very strong, refreshing, spicy, floral aroma and is one of the most widely used flower oils in perfumery. It is an ingredient in eau de cologne and blends well with citrus oils and floral oils. Neroli is also used in premium natural cosmetic preparations such as massage oils, skin creams and bath oils. Aromatherapy benefits: calming, soothing, sensual.

-Nutmeg - Nutmeg oil is distilled from whole, dried nutmegs that have been cut into small particles and pressed to remove the fixed oil, also known as nutmeg butter. The oil has the characteristic aromatic, volatile, oily-spicy fragrance of whole nutmegs. Nutmeg oil is a component in men's fragrances and spicy perfumes. Aromatherapy benefits: rejuvenating, uplifting, energizing.

-Orange, Mandarin - Although the botanical differences between mandarin and tangerine are slight, the oils expressed from each differ in aroma and are not considered interchangeable in aromatherapy. The floral, neroli-like undertones of mandarin are evocative and sensual. Mandarin is used in combination with other citrus oils in colognes and fantasy-type perfumes. (See Tangerine.) Aromatherapy benefits: uplifting, cheering, sensual.

-Orange, Sweet - More sweet orange oil is produced than any other citrus oil. Two kinds of sweet orange oil are available: distilled or expressed. Distilled oil is a byproduct of juice making and has an inferior aroma. It is often used as an adulterant in expressed or pressed oil. Our oil is pressed from the peels of ripe, sweet oranges. It has a lively, fruity, sweet aroma. It is used to scent fruity and eau de cologne fragrances. All citrus oils are quick to deteriorate and should be stored in a cool, dry, dark area in full containers. Aromatherapy benefits: cheering, refreshing, uplifting.

-Oregano - Oregano has a strong, herbaceous, green-camphoraceous, medicinal top note. The middle note is spicy, medicinal. The dry out is sweet-phenolic woody, bitter-sweet. Oregano essential oil is invigorating, purifying and uplifting.

-Palmarosa - Palmarosa is distilled from a grass closely related to citronella and lemongrass. The oil has a floral-rose grassy scent. It is used extensively in perfumes and soaps to add or enhance a rose note. Palmarosa is a cleansing, astringent addition to skin care products such as bath and massage oils. Aromatherapy benefits: refreshing.

-Patchouli - Used in countless perfumes and fragrances, patchouli is noted for its long-lasting fragrance and fixative ability. It borders on the exotic and even the name patchouli evokes images of heady aromas, dark, rich colors, candlelight, incense and intrigue. The aroma is very intense; it can be described as earthy, rich, sweet, balsamic, woody and spicy. Patchouli oil is one of the few essential oils that improve with age. Aromatherapy benefits: romantic, soothing, sensual.

-Peppermint - Peppermint has a powerful, sweet, menthol aroma which, when inhaled undiluted, can make the eyes water and the sinuses tingle. Aromatherapy benefits: vitalizing, refreshing, cooling.

-Peru Balsam - Peru balsam is collected from wild trees along the "Balsam Coast" of El Salvador. Peru balsam oil has a very sweet, balsamic, rich, vanilla-like aroma. It has outstanding staying power and is one of the best fixatives. It blends well with spicy, floral, Oriental and balsamic scents. Aromatherapy benefits: anchoring, strengthening.

-Pine - Pine oil is distilled from the twigs and needles of the Scotch pine that grows throughout much of Europe and Asia. It has a fresh, resinous, pine needle aroma. The oil is used to scent a number of household and personal care products such as room sprays, detergents, vaporizer liquids, cough and cold preparations and masculine perfumes. When used in skin care preparations, pine oil should always be well diluted as it can be irritating to sensitive skin. Aromatherapy benefits: refreshing, invigorating.

- Rose Absolute - This is an economical, high-quality alternative to distilled rose essential oils, (rose otto). Rose absolute works well for scenting purposes, but to experience full aromatherapy benefits, we recommend using rose otto. Rose absolute has a sweet, deep-rosy, long-lasting aroma. It is used in perfumes for both its scent and fixative qualities. Aromatherapy benefits: romantic, uplifting.

-Rose Otto - Rose oil is one of the oldest and best known of all the essential oils. The fragrance of rose is associated with love. It is warm, intense, immensely rich and rosy. It is used in perfumes to lend beauty and depth. A drop or two in a massage, facial or bath oil is luxurious and soothing. The oil is used in skin creams, powders and lotions. Aromatherapy benefits: romantic, supportive, gently uplifting.
-Rosemary - Rosemary is known as the herb of remembrance. The plant produces an almost colorless essential oil with a strong, fresh, camphor aroma. It's used in many citrus colognes, forest and Oriental perfumes, and eau de cologne. Rinses for dark hair often contain rosemary, as do room deodorants, household sprays, disinfectants and soaps. Aromatherapy benefits: clarifying, invigorating.

-Rosewood - Rosewood, or bois de rose, is a tropical tree growing wild in the Amazon basin. It has a sweet-woody, floral-nutmeg aroma that finds extensive use in fantasy-type perfumes and colognes. It is also used to scent soaps, creams, lotions, bath oils and massage oils. Aromatherapy benefits: gently strengthening, calming.

-Sandalwood - Sandalwood oil has a sweet-woody, warm, balsamic aroma that improves with age. The essential oil blends wonderfully with most oils, especially rose, lavender, neroli and bergamot. Sandalwood oil is also an excellent cleansing, astringent addition to massage and facial oils, bath oils, aftershaves, lotions and creams. Aromatherapy benefits: relaxing, centering, sensual.

-Spearmint - Aromatherapists use spearmint to energize the mind and body. A few drops in bath water has a refreshing effect while a facial steam of spearmint oil helps cleanse and tighten pores. Aromtherapy benefits: refreshing, cooling, vitalizing.

-Spruce - Several species of evergreen conifer trees are used to produce this pleasant, balsamic, sweet, evergreen-scented essential oil. The oil is used as a fragrance for household products by itself or with other pine needle oils to produce a fresh pine scent. Applications include air fresheners, room sprays, disinfectants, detergents and soaps. It blends well with cedarwood, galbanum, rosemary and all pine needle oils. Aromatherapy benefits: clarifying, vitalizing.

- Tangerine - Our tangerine oil is pressed from the peel of ripe fruit. It is an orange-colored oil with the vibrant fragrance of fresh tangerines. The oil is used in colognes and occasionally in perfumes.(See Mandarin Orange.) Aromatherapy benefits: cheering, uplifting.

-Tea Tree - The leaf of the tea, or ti, tree had a long history of use by the indigenous peoples of Australia before tea tree was "discovered" by the crew of the famous English explorer James Cook. The aroma of the oil is warm, spicy, medicinal and volatile. It is occasionally used to scent spicy colognes and aftershaves. It blends well with lavandin, rosemary and nutmeg oils. Aromatherapy benefits: cleansing, purifying, uplifting.

-Thyme, Red - Red thyme oil is the natural essential oil produced from wild-growing thyme plants. It has an intense, sweet, herbal, spicy-medicinal aroma. Both red and white thyme are used to scent soaps, colognes and aftershaves. Caution: Thyme oil can be irritating to the skin and should be used cautiously. Aromatherapy benefits: cleansing, purifying, energizing.

-Thyme, White - White thyme starts out as red thyme oil that has been further refined and redistilled to remove the constituents that produce the red color. The aroma and action of white thyme oil are a bit milder than that of red thyme. Both are used to scent soaps, colognes and aftershaves. Caution: Thyme oil can be irritating to the skin and should be used cautiously. Aromatherapy benefits: cleansing, purifying, energizing.

 -Vanilla - The aroma is lingering sweet balsamic. Aromatherapy benefits: calming, comforting, balancing.

  -Vetiver - The aroma is rich, woody, earthy and sweet. It improves with age. Vetiver oil is used extensively in perfumery for its fixative effects as well as its fragrance. Aromatherapy benefits: supportive, grounding.

- Wintergreen oil was once an important perfumery and flavoring material, but has been replaced by less expensive and more reliable supplies of synthetic methyl salicylate. It is used in toothpaste and mouthwash Aromatherapy benefits: refreshing, bracing, invigorating.

- Ylang ylang oil is distilled from the early morning, fresh-picked flowers of the cananga tree. The distillation process is interrupted at various points and the oil accumulates is removed. The first oil to be drawn off is the highest quality and is graded "extra." Ylang ylang extra has an intense floral, sweet, jasmine-like, almost narcotic aroma. Aromatherapy benefits: sensual, euphoric.

Essential oils. ( Part one)

~What is an essential oil and How to avoid buying a low quality product.~

Most commonly, the essence is extracted from the plant using an technique called distillation. One type of distillation places the plants or flowers on a screen. Steam is passed through the area and becomes "charged" with the essence. The steam then passes through an area where it cools and condenses. This mixture of water and essential oil is separated and bottled. Since plants contain such a small amount of this precious oil, several hundred pounds may needed to produce a single ounce.

Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is the most common method of extracting essential oils. Many old-time distillers favor this method for most oils, and say that none of the newer methods produces better quality oils. Steam distillation is done in a still. Fresh, or sometimes dried, botanical material is placed in the plant chamber of the still, and pressurized steam is generated in a separate chamber and circulated through the plant material. The heat of the steam forces the tiny intercellular pockets that hold the essential oils to open and release them. The temperature of the steam must be high enough to open the pouches, yet not so high that it destroys the plants or burns the essential oils. As they are released, the tiny droplets of essential oil evaporate and, together with the steam molecules, travel through a tube into the still's condensation chamber. As the steam cools, it condenses into water. The essential oil forms a film on the surface of the water. To separate the essential oil from the water, the film is then decanted or skimmed off the top. The remaining water, a byproduct of distillation, is called floral water, distillate, or hydrosol. It retains many of the therapeutic properties of the plant, making it valuable in skin care for facial mists and toners. In certain situations, floral water may be preferable to pure essential oil, such as when treating a sensitive individual or a child, or when a more diluted treatment is required.

Cold Pressing

Another method of extracting essential oils is cold-pressed expression, or scarification. It is used to obtain citrus fruit oils such as bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, and tangerine oils. In this process, fruit rolls over a trough with sharp projections that penetrate the peel. This pierces the tiny pouches containing the essential oil. Then the whole fruit is pressed to squeeze the juice from the pulp and to release the essential oil from the pouches. The essential oil rises to the surface of the juice and is separated from the juice by centrifugation.

Some flowers, such as jasmine or tuberose, have such low contents of essential oil or are so delicate that heating them would destroy the blossoms before releasing the essential oils. In such cases, an expensive and lengthy process called enfleurage is sometimes used to remove the essential oils. Flower petals are placed on trays of odorless vegetable or animal fat, which will absorb the flowers' essential oils. Every day or every few hours, after the vegetable or fat has absorbed as much of the essential oil as possible, the depleted petals are removed and replaced with fresh ones. This procedure continues until the fat or oil becomes saturated with the essential oil. Adding alcohol to this enfleurage mixture separates the essential oil from the fatty substance. Afterwards, the alcohol evaporates and only the essential oil remains.

Solvent Extraction
Another method of extraction used on delicate plants is solvent extraction, which yields a higher amount of essential oil at a lower cost. In this process, a chemical solvent such as hexane is used to saturate the plant material and pull out the aromatic compounds. This renders a substance called a concrete. The concrete can then be dissolved in alcohol to remove the solvent. When the alcohol evaporates, an absolute remains. Although more cost-efficient than enfleurage, solvent extraction has disadvantages. Residues of the solvent may remain in the absolute and can cause side effects. While absolutes or concretes may be fine for fragrances or perfumes, they are not especially desirable for skin care applications. Some trees, such as benzoin, frankincense, and myrrh, exude aromatic 'tears', or sap that is too thick to use easily in aromatherapy. In these cases, a resin or essential oil can be extracted from the tears with alcohol or a solvent such as hexane. This renders a resin or an essential oil that is easier to use. However, only those oils or resin extracted with alcohol should be used for aromatherapy purposes.

Turbo Distillation Extraction
Turbo distillation is suitable for hard-to-extract or coarse plant material, such as bark, roots, and seeds. In this process, the plants soak in water and steam is circulated through this plant and water mixture. Throughout the entire process, the same water is continually recycled through the plant material. This method allows faster extraction of essential oils from hard-to-extract plant materials.

Hydrodiffusion Extraction
In the hydrodiffusion process, steam at atmospheric pressure is dispersed through the plant material from the top of the plant chamber. In this way the steam can saturate the plants more evenly and in less time than with steam distillation. This method is also less harsh than steam distillation and the resulting essential oils smell much more like the original plant.

Carbon Dioxide Extraction
Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction uses carbon dioxide under extremely high pressure to extract essential oils. Plants are placed in a stainless steel tank and, as carbon dioxide is injected into the tank, pressure inside the tank builds. Under high pressure, the carbon dioxide turns into a liquid and acts as a solvent to extract the essential oils from the plants. When the pressure is decreased, the carbon dioxide returns to a gaseous state, leaving no residues behind. Many carbon dioxide extractions have fresher, cleaner, and crisper aromas than steam-distilled essential oils, and they smell more similar to the living plants. Scientific studies show that carbon dioxide extraction produces essential oils that are very potent and have great therapeutic benefits. This extraction method uses lower temperatures than steam distillation, making it more gentle on the plants. It produces higher yields and makes some materials, especially gums and resins, easier to handle. Many essential oils that cannot be extracted by steam distillation are obtainable with carbon dioxide extraction. In the future, many botanicals that are not now available may possibly be obtained through carbon dioxide extraction.

~There are many variables that make qualify the quality of a specific essential oil. The plant it's derived from, if it was organic, if the soil is not right or the extraction method all factor into quality

~How to spot and avoid buying fake essential oils:

Anyone selling essential oils should disclose its quality or if it synthetic. Of course synthetic oils do not have the same properties or affects as their natural and real counterparts.  Many believe that use of the synthetic essential oils does actually increase toxicity and its not really recommended.

As most know, essential oils should be stored in dark glass container. Oils can range from $5 - $30 per bottle depending on the quality of the product. One way to spot less than perfect essential oils is wide varieties as the same price.

Next don't fall for the perfume or fragrance label. Chance are that means there is no essential oil found in the fragrance of the perfume. They are our synthetic friends yet again. Basically you will find a lot of imposters on the market these days. But most of all if you are interest into the healing benefits of the essential oils you, you will find that the synthetic just doesn't hold up to the test.

There are many tests you can do to see if the oils are real. But no test will take the place of experience where as you will learn over time how to spot that fake. There are very expensive test that can be ordered or you can consider placing a drop of the oil on a piece of construction paper. Because of how a pure oil will react it will evaporate quickly and will not leave a ring. Oils that are not pure or synthetic will leave an oily ring on the paper, clearly marking it as a fake.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Water, true nectar of the gods.

Health benefits of water:

Water is crucial to your health. It makes up, on average, 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water.

The human body, which is made up of between 55 and 75 percent water (lean people have more water in their bodies because muscle holds more water than fat), is in need of constant water replenishment.
Your lungs expel between two and four cups of water each day through normal breathing - even more on a cold day. If your feet sweat, there goes another cup of water. If you make half a dozen trips to the bathroom during the day, that's six cups of water. If you perspire, you expel about two cups of water (which doesn't include exercise-induced perspiration).

A person would have to lose 10 percent of her body weight in fluids to be considered dehydrated, but as little as two percent can affect athletic performance, cause tiredness and dull critical thinking abilities. Adequate water consumption can help lessen the chance of kidney stones, keep joints lubricated, prevent and lessen the severity of colds and flu and help prevent constipation.

How much water do you need?
Every day you lose water through sweating - noticeable and unnoticeable - exhaling, urinating and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you need to replace this water by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. So how much water, or more precisely fluid, do you need?
This isn't an easy question to answer. A healthy adult's daily fluid intake can vary widely. Most people drink fluid to quench thirst, to supply perceived water needs and "out of habit." At least three approaches estimate total fluid (water) needs for healthy, sedentary adults living in a temperate climate.

Here are three simple, beautiful, Spa Water recepies to entice you to drink more water throughout the day:


In addition to their excellent flavor, raspberries are full of strong antioxidants and possess anti-cancer properties. Limes, known as an immune system boosting fruit, add a vitamin-packed zest. This citrus is helpful in fighting colds, the flu, and recurrent ear infections.”

3 cartons of raspberries
4 limes, thinly sliced
4 cups ice

1.  Layer your beverage pitcher with lime slices and raspberries. Add ice. Repeat until the server is full. Pour water over the ice and fruit.

**Note: If you are using a beverage server, do not use frozen berries – they tend to break up and clog the spigot of the server.


Lavender is such a versatile herb. It relieves tension and stress naturally, while promoting relaxation and aiding in overcoming insomnia. You can use its leaves and flowers for sachets, and mix stems with vinegar or white sugar to make herbal vinegars and sugars, bath oils, and homemade soaps. Paired with orange zest and slices, this herbal and citrus water is fragrant and delicious.”

4 sprigs organic lavender
4 oranges, zested (colored part only)
4 tsp sugar (or agave nectar)
2 quarts water

1.In a large pot, combine lavender, orange zest from two oranges, sugar, and water. Heat to a boil. Remove from stove to cool.

2.Strain before serving. Pour cooled water in beverage server; add sliced oranges and lavender sprigs.


Herb-infused waters tout health benefits galore. Ginger reduces symptoms associated with motion sickness, such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating. Many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reduction in their pain levels and improvement in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. Basil helps with cardiovascular health by prompting muscles and blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms.

3 basil leaves
2 thin slices of ginger
¼ tsp ginger
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp coriander seeds
2 quarts water

1.Boil water for five minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
2.Pour in a thermos and sip the water hot or warm throughout the day.

I wish you all peace and good health!
~Lilly. =)