Sunflower Oil Profile

Botanical name: Helianthus annuus
Family: Asteraceae

I have always been enamored of sunflower (Helianthus annuus) flowers, even as a child. I would, and still can, sit for hours and watch these big beautiful flowers slowly turn their heads to follow the path of the sun as it traverses the sky. The sight is truly amazing. The French name for sunflower is tournasol, which literally means “turns toward the sun.” Continue reading “Sunflower Oil Profile”

Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera) oil

Botanical name: Vitis vinifera
Family: Vitaceae

The grape is a climbing vine that is native to Asia. The grape vine can grow up to 30 feet in length. It produces green flowers that mature into clusters of fruit. The fruit of the grape can be light green, rose, purple, or almost black in color.

The history of the grape is long. Egyptians were known to dry grapes for raisins prior to using them to make wine. Egyptians began making wine as far back as 3500 B.C. One source states, “Grapeseed oil has existed for over 6,000 years. The Old Testament in the Bible tells us the oil was a substance used in a dish known as Pulse and that the prophet Daniel liked eating this dish for beneficial health reasons.” The use of Grapeseed oil is found in the writings of many ancient Greek and Roman physicians.

Grapeseed oil comes from the seed of grapes that have been used to make wine. The seeds are a “waste” product of wine-making, but they can be used to make a nice by-product: Grapeseed oil. The oil is often light green in color and odorless. The unfortunate thing about Grapeseed oil is that it often requires chemical solvents to extract, which can render it less beneficial than if it were simply cold pressed or extracted by another more natural means.

The health benefits of Grapeseed oil are numerous. It is high in Vitamin E, minerals, linoleic acid, flavonoids, and anti-oxidants. Grapeseed oil is known to be anti-inflammatory and a cardio-tonic. It has been used to lower high blood pressure and high LDL (bad) cholesterol. It is reported to reduce varicose veins, reduce the risk of heart-attack, and atherosclerosis. Grapeseed oil also helps to tone the skin, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, aid with wound healing, and lessen scaring.

Grapeseed oil is very light and quickly absorbs into the skin. Grapeseed oil is also good for all skin types and is often used in acne treatments because of its astringent properties. These qualities make it an excellent choice of carrier oil to use in many cosmetics, lotions, shave creams, acne treatments, and massage oil blends. When formulating a blend, Grapeseed oil can be used at 100%. I like to use Grapeseed oil in many of the facial serums I formulate.

Safety note: Although Grapeseed oil is often used with individuals who are allergic to other carrier oils there are some possible, but rare, negative side-effects. The most common negative side-effects include dizziness, an itchy-scalp, nausea and headache. If you experience any of these side-effects, or others that are not listed, contact your health care professional and discontinue use immediately.

✿´´¯`•.¸¸ Haly JensenHof, MA, RA ¸¸.•´¯`´✿
Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact me at yourhealthscents@gmail.com. I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions, so please leave a comment in the box below.
You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/yourhealthscents

References:

http://grapeseed-oil.org/ – Retrieved 07/13/2014.
Resources:

Dechen, Shanti; Clinical Aromatherapy; Aroma Apothecary; Crestone, CO; 2010.

Keville, Kathy and Green, Mindy; Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, Second Edition; Crossing Press; New York, NY; 2009.

Schiller, Carol and Schiller, David; The Aromatherapy Encyclopedia; Basic Health Publications, Inc.; Laguna Beach, CA; 2008.

Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)

Botanical name: Simmondsia chinensis

Family: Buxaceae

Jojoba (which is pronounced ho-ho-ba) is not an oil. It is a liquid wax!  That may surprise many of you, but it is true.  Let’s take a look at what jojoba wax really is, and what beneficial properties it has for healthy skin and hair.   

Jojoba is an evergreen shrub that is native to North America, specifically to the region of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.  Jojoba grows to heights ranging from three to eighteen feet.  It produces small leathery leaves and its flowers are both green and yellow.  The color of the flower depends on the sex of the plant.  Male plants produce yellow flowers; female plants produce green flowers that later develop into olive-shaped, dark brown, nut-like fruit.[1]  It is the seeds of the nut-like fruit that is used to produce jojoba wax.

American Indians used the jojoba plant for cooking, skin care, and as a food item.  The jojoba wax was used for cooking and it was also applied to irritated skin. The jojoba seeds were used for a beverage similar to coffee.1   The first documentation of jojoba came from British botanist HF Link in 1822.  Link observed jojoba in its natural setting when he explored Baja California.  Link gave jojoba the Latin botanical name of Simmondsia chinensis, after a fellow botanist and explorer, TW Simonds.2  The name “jojoba” originates from my own American Indian heritage, the O’odham people of the southwestern United States.

Jojoba wax is cold pressed from the seeds of the nut.  The color of jojoba wax varies depending on the level of refinement.  Highly refined jojoba wax can be colorless while unrefined wax is a beautiful golden yellow.3  I prefer using unrefined jojoba wax in all of my aromatherapy products and blends.

I will now answer the question many of you are asking, “Why is jojoba considered a wax and not an oil?”  According to Salvatore Battaglia; “[jojoba] is unique because the oil is not composed of fat but of liquid wax.  In scientific terms, waxes are esters of long-chain fatty acids with long-chain monohydroxyl alcohols, whereas fats are esters of long-chain fatty acids with glycerine.”2  Simply stated, oils consist of long-chain fatty acids and glycerine.  Waxes consist of long-chain fatty acids and alcohols.

Jojoba wax is used in many skin and hair care products, such as; lotions, salves, massage oils, shampoos, hair conditioners, hair tonics, sunscreen, and facial creams or serums.  It helps to nourish and moisturize the skin because it is so very similar to the natural oil (sebum) our bodies produce.  What I find fascinating about jojoba wax is that it regulates sebum production; if your skin is too oily or too dry jojoba helps your skin to balance its oil production.  This is what makes jojoba wax ideal for all skin types.

Jojoba wax is known to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and an emollient.  It also contains antioxidants, which help with anti-aging.  The anti-oxidants of jojoba wax also help keep it stable and less likely to deteriorate.  Once source states, “Jojoba oil has an indefinite shelf life, even stored at room temperature.”3  I don’t know about that statement as a certainty so I keep jojoba wax in a refrigerator and feel comfortable using it for one year after purchase.  Typically, jojoba wax is used at a five to ten percent concentration, mixed with other carrier oils, in massage oil blends.

For simplicities sake I know everyone calls jojoba wax – jojoba oil, and to be honest, I do too!  However, in my mind I say “wax!”

Haly JensenHof, MA, RA

For more information, please contact me at yourhealthscents@gmail.com This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions. You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/yourhealthscents

Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Schiller, Carol & Schiller, David; Aromatherapy Encyclopedia, The; Basic Health Publications, Inc.; Laguna Beach, CA; 2008.

 

2 Battaglia, Salvatore; Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, The; Second Edition; The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy; Brisbane, Australia; 2003.

 

3 Wilson, Roberta; Aromatherapy, Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty; Penguin Putnam Inc.; New York, NY; 2002.

 

Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis)

[quote]“I said to the almond tree, ‘Friend, speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis[/quote]

 

Botanical Name: Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis)

Family: Rosaceae

 

The sweet almond (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis) is a tree native to the Mediterranean and Asia.

Bitter almond (Prunus amygdalus var. amara) is also native to the Mediterranean and Asia; however, it is not used in aromatherapy because it produces high levels of amygdalin, which in turn is used to produce toxic, and deadly, hydrogen cyanide. 1,2  There are approximately fifty species of wild almond, but only a few varieties produce the sweet almond. The almond tree is a deciduous tree that grows to heights between 20 to 35 feet and produces pink flowers that later develop into the fruit, [i.e. almond nut].3

 

Little information regarding the history of the almond, and almond oil, has been written.  According to one source, “Before cultivation for agricultural purposes predating 3000 BC, wild almonds were harvested as a rich nutritional source and, therefore, they were roasted or

leached to release their toxins.” 4 The earliest mention of almond oil use dates back to the Romans, who used almond oil for skin care.1 In Ancient Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Greco-Persian schools of medicine almond oil was used to treat psoriasis, eczema, dull complexions, and to improve nervous system and brain function.4

 

Almond oil is cold pressed from the dried fruit kernel.  Almond oil is golden in color and has a distinct nutty aroma.  It is used often in massage therapy because it is a good lubricant, lingers on the skin, and softens the skin.

 

Over the past 15 to 20 years there have been numerous reports on the healthful benefits of almonds.  Eating almonds for a healthy snack is mentioned by most, if not all, health and nutrition oriented magazines and television programs. We have been informed that almonds provide a good source of protein, help to raise “good cholesterol” (High-density lipoprotein or HDL) and lower “bad cholesterol” (Low-density lipoprotein or LDL).  However, there are reports that almonds are, “used especially in the treatment of kidney stones, gallstones and constipation.”2

 

Almond oil can be used in blends formulated for the conditions related to those mentioned above.  The known therapeutic properties of almond oil include: alterative [producing overall improvement in the nutritional state of the body], anti-inflammatory, antilithic [preventing the formation to calculi/stones], antipruritic [relieves itching], astringent, carminative [expels gas], demulcent [soothes mucous membranes], diuretic, emollient, galactagogue [promotes the production of breast milk], laxative, nervine [calming to the nervous system], tonic, and vulnerary [heals wounds].3  Overall, almond oil appears to be a very versatile carrier oil. Almond oil is also a gentle oil that is often used with infants and children.

Cautionary Note: Do not use almond oil if there is a known allergy to nuts.  I do not use almond oil for any of my personal aromatherapy blends because almonds are a common trigger for migraine headaches. After learning this information I have not eaten almonds or used almond oil as a cautionary measure against migraine.

If you don’t already use almond oil for your massage, skin care, and overall health needs I hope you will give it a try soon!

✿´´¯`•.¸¸ Haly JensenHof, MA, RA ¸¸.•´¯`´✿

Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact me at yourhealthscents@gmail.com.  I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions.

You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/yourhealthscents

 

 

[1]Battaglia, Salvatore; Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, The; Second Edition; The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy; Brisbane, Australia; 2003.

2http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/p/prunus-dulcis=almond.php; Retrieved 04/18/14

3 Schiller, Carol & Schiller, David; Aromatherapy Encyclopedia, The; Basic Health Publications, Inc.; Laguna Beach, CA; 2008.

4 Zeeshan Ahmad; The Uses and Properties of Almond oil; http://ac.els-cdn.com/S1744388109000772/1-s2.0-S1744388109000772-main.pdf?_tid=8d549860-c73c-11e3-b043-00000aacb35f&acdnat=1397855043_4b2f499a203182936fe537ed920089e9 Retrieved 4/18/14

 

 

 

 

 

Olive oil (Olea europaea)

[quote]“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. (Psalms 52:8)”[/quote]

Botanical Name: Olea europaea

Family: Oleaceae

The olive (Olea europaea) is universally known as a symbol of peace. The image of a white dove with an olive branch in her mouth is a common symbol of peace used in religious imagery.  We extend an olive branch as a sign of peace to someone we want to reconcile with.  Ancient Grecians wore olive leaf garlands in their hair when they prayed for peace.[1] The blue and white flag of the United Nations depicts a map of the world encircled by two olive branches.  The symbolism of the olive is mighty, and so too is the oil derived from the olive.

dove_with_olive_branch_md_whtThe olive tree is an evergreen tree believed to be native to the Mediterranean region in the countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Palestine.[2]  The olive tree can grow to heights between 25 to 40 feet, has gray colored bark, leathery gray-green leaves, and clusters of white flowers that develop into the fruit, i.e. olive.  Olive trees are very slow to mature, taking more than ten years to bear their first fruit.[3]  Not only are olive trees slow to mature, they also live for a very long time, many hundreds of years.

Historically, the use of the olive as a food item dates back to the Bronze Age, or 5000 to 6000 years ago.  During the rule of the Roman Empire, the first century A.D., olive oil was used for many purposes.  The main use of olive oil was for lamp fuel.  It was used for many religious ceremonies and to anoint the heads of rulers, warriors, the general public, and the dead.  Fragrant olive oils, or herb/flower infused olive oils, were used as offerings to the Gods, in pharmaceutical ointments, and for hair and skin care.2  Notice that the use of olive oil for cooking is not included?  At this time in history olive oil was not yet used for consumption.

Olive oil is expressed, cold pressed, from the fruit.  The oil actually comes from the meat of the olive and not the pit. No heat, solvents, or chemicals are used to extract the oil. To obtain the best quality olive oil the olives must be harvested without breaking the skin, and processing must occur 12 to 24 hours after harvesting.2  In the past the olives were crushed into a paste-like substance and allowed to sit in large vats in order to allow the water and oil to separate.  Once the oil rose to the top it was skimmed off, but this process took a long time and increased the likelihood of fermentation or rancidity.  Now the oil is separated from the paste and water through centrifuging.1  For additional purification/processing the oil is also filtered to remove any small particles of pulp.

There are three grades of olive oil from three different pressings.  The first pressing of the olives is called Extra Virgin olive oil, the second pressing is called Virgin or “Classico” olive oil, and the third pressing is called pure olive oil.  Extra Virgin olive oil is of the best quality, and for the purposes of aromatherapy Extra Virgin olive oil should be used.

Olive oil contains many healthy nutrients.  Vitamins A, E, and K are found in olive oil.  There are other nutrients like: anti-oxidants; phenols, which are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant; and oleocanthal, which is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and pain relieving.4  One reason so many people are now cooking with olive oil is because it contains no cholesterol or trans-fat.  Olive oil does contain the two good fats; mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated.  Additionally, olive oil tastes good!

The healthful properties mentioned above can be helpful in aromatherapy blends.  Battaglia stated that olive oil can be, “applied externally to sprains, bruises and insect bites and can be used as a treatment for dandruff, especially if it is blended with rosemary oil.”1  Olive oil is also known to be antipruritic [relieves itching], cholagogue [increases the flow of bile], demulcent [soothes mucous tissues], emollient [softens and soothes skin], vulnerary [heals wounds], relaxant, and laxative.3 So with these therapeutic properties in mind olive oil can be used in many aromatherapy formulations.  Since olive oil can feel a bit tacky or sticky when used for massage I use it at 20-50% with other carrier oils and essential oils.

For my personal hair care I do use 100% olive oil for a carrier.  I have found that by using olive oil for my hair it is healthier, shinier, and no longer dry.  After washing my hair, and while it is still quite damp, I apply a quarter-size amount of the following blend:

Olive oil & Rosemary essential oil Hair Oil

In a 1 oz. flip-top bottle add:

6 drops Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) essential oil

1 oz. Olive oil (Olea europaea)

The next time you formulate a blend for skin conditions, stomach complaints, sprains, painful joints, or just for relaxation I hope you will consider using olive oil as part of the blend.  I also hope you think of peace as you blend and apply your olive oil preparation.

 

✿´´¯`•.¸¸ Haly JensenHof, MA, RA ¸¸.•´¯`´✿

Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact me at yourhealthscents@gmail.com.  I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions.

You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/yourhealthscents

 

[1] Battaglia, Salvatore; Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, The; Second Edition; The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy; Brisbane, Australia; 2003.

[2] Vossen, Paul; Olive Oil: History, Production, and Characteristics of the World’s Classic Oils; Horticultural Science; August 2007, Volume 42, No. 5; http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/42/5/1093.full.pdf+html  Retrieved 4/17/14.

[3] Schiller, Carol & Schiller, David; Aromatherapy Encyclopedia, The; Basic Health Publications, Inc.; Laguna Beach, CA; 2008.

4 Nutrients in Olive Oil; Amazing Olive Oil; http://www.amazingoliveoil.com/nutrients-in-olive-oil.html; Retrieved 4/17/14.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Carriers

When people think of aromatherapy they think first of, “the good smelling stuff,” and then they may think of the essential oils themselves.  No one seems to think about the carriers used in the suspension and application of essential oils.  Carrier oils, waxes, butters, and waters are just as important as essential oils and they too have their own therapeutic properties.

Carrier oils are called “fixed” oils.  This means they evaporate at a very slow rate, not like the quick evaporation rate of essential oils.  Carrier oils help to stabilize the volatility (quick evaporation) of essential oils. Additionally, as stated before, carrier oils have their own therapeutic properties which they contribute to therapeutic blends.  Carrier oils are full of beneficial vitamins and nutrients.

Carrier oils also serve as a safe and effective means of applying essential oils.  Do you remember how I always equate the concentration and power of essential oils to using rocket fuel to light your grill?  Well, carrier oils help to dilute the strength of essential oils and allow a little essential oil go a long way in regard to application.  Carrier oils can also be viewed as analogous to the water needed to make your lemonade concentrate palatable.

Carrier oils are expeller-pressed or cold-pressed, which means they have been extracted from the nut or seed without the use of heat.  By cold pressing the oil from the source more of the nutrients and therapeutic properties are retained in the oil.

Many carrier oils come from the fruit of nut trees.  Sweet almond (Prunus dulcis), Hazelnut (Corylus avellana), Macadamia (Macadamia intergrifolia), and Walnut (Juglans regia) are all examples of nut carrier oils.  Before using nut carrier oils, and all carrier oils, be certain you are aware of any allergies to avoid an adverse reaction.

 

Some carrier oils are obtained from the seeds of flowers.  Sunflower (Helianthus annuus), Sesame (Sesamum indicum), and Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) are flower seed based carrier oils.

Fruit seeds also produce carrier oils that are used in aromatherapy.  Apricot (Prunus armeniaca), Avocado (Persea Americana), Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera), and Olive (Olea europaea) oils all come from the seeds of the fruit.

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) is unique because it is not oil. It is actually a liquid wax.  Jojoba wax is expressed from the bean of the jojoba plant.  Other carriers that are waxes include bees wax and vegetable emulsifying wax.

Butters are also used as carriers.  Cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao)is expressed from the cocoa bean, and has a distinct cocoa/chocolate aroma.  Shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa) is a butter derived from the nut of the shea tree.  Mango butter (Mangifera indica) is cold-pressed from the fruit seed of the mango tree. These oils are called butters because they do not remain in a liquid form; they are much more creamy and thick than the other carrier oils.

Because some plant material is too fragile, cannot be steam distilled or cold-pressed, or is too expensive for the amount of oil that would be produced from distillation, a process of maceration is used.  Maceration is the process of infusing carrier oil with plant material.  Examples of macerated/infused carrier oils include St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Arnica (Arnica Montana), Calendula (Calendula officinalis), and Carrot (Daucus carota).  Note: Do not confuse carrot seed carrier oil with the essential oil of carrot seed.

Other carriers used in aromatherapy include Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) gel, hydrosols/flower waters, vegetable glycerin, distilled water, milk, salts, sugars, and honey.

Over the course of the next several weeks I will be profiling the specific carriers.  I will provide information on the source of each carrier, how each carrier is produced, what therapeutic properties each carrier contains, and how the carrier is most often used in aromatherapy.  We can’t let the essential oils get all of the attention!  So I hope you join me on this journey through the little discussed world of aromatherapy carriers.

Haly JensenHof, MA, RA

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact me at yourhealthscents@gmail.com This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions. You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/yourhealthscents

 

Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!