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How to Address Burns with Herbs and Essential Oils: Herbal First Aid

I have a bit of a sunburn at the moment. This past weekend, my husband and I attended an outdoor service and stopped at a local Lavender farm on our way home. We spent some time out in the Lavender fields harvesting delightful purple stems and chatting with the farmers and I came home feeling contentedly sun-soaked and Lavender-calm. It wasn't until I looked in the mirror that evening that I noticed I had turned a bit pink! I had already planned on sharing my go-to remedies for burn recovery with you today, so I had a bit of a chuckle at my ironic timing. If you've ever wondered about the best way to support your skin when you're recovering from a burn or a sunburn, you're in the right place!

Note: The salve and spray recipes featured in this article were originally published in June's Skin Healing Edition of AromaCulture Magazine. You can find out more about the issue here.

When you're dealing with burns, you have to be able to discern the severity of the burn before you can effectively treat it. If you're looking at second or third degree burns or if the subject is experiencing other symptoms besides mild discomfort, you should consult your medical team. Home remedies are not sufficient in all cases. But when you're dealing with a mild burn or sunburn, there are many things you can do at home to help support the skin as it recovers and to help relieve the discomfort that comes with that dreaded burning sensation.

How to Support Skin When Recovering from a Burn

1. Hydrosols

One of the first things I reach for when I'm dealing with a burn is a hydrosol. Lavender and Peppermint tend to be the ones I use most often, but I've also used Calendula, St. John's Wort, and Yarrow hydrosols for the same purpose. Hydrosols help to cool the area where the skin has been damaged (I keep mine in the fridge, which also helps with this) and can also help to soothe inflammation and pain. Each one also contributes its own layer of therapeutic effects.

2. Aloe Vera Infusion

True Aloe vera (not the green junk from the sunscreen section at the store) can be wonderful for burns. It's soothing, cooling, anti-inflammatory, and helps aid the skin as it begins to repair itself. You can either pat a bit of pure Aloe vera gel into the skin where the burn is (don't rub - it will increase the irritation and the heated sensation) or you can pour some Aloe vera juice into a small spray bottle and use it to mist the area as needed. Store the spray bottle in the fridge to keep it cool and extend its shelf life. It's recommended to avoid using Aloe if there is blistering or a raw, open wound, but for minor burns and sunburns, it can be a great ally.

I like to take a couple of extra moments to infuse my Aloe with some skin-healing herbs before use. Calendula, Comfrey leaf, and Plantain are all suitable options. The spray in this photo features all three, along with a bit of St. John's Wort.

3. Herbal Salve

You can also use these same herbs: Calendula, Comfrey leaf, Plantain, and St. John's Wort to make a skin-healing salve that can help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by the burn and support the skin as it goes through the recovery process. I infuse the herbs individually into carrier oil throughout the year and keep a jar of each in my apothecary so I can use them as needed. To make my go-to burn recovery salve, follow the recipe below. It also makes a great all-purpose first aid salve and can even be used as an herbal moisturizing treatment. It's full of skin-loving herbs!

Burn Recovery Salve Recipe

  • 1 part organic beeswax
  • 1 part Calendula (Calendula officinalis) infused carrier oil
  • 1 part Comfrey leaf (Symphytum uplandicum) infused carrier oil
  • 1 part Plantain (Plantago sp.) leaf infused carrier oil
  • 2 parts St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) infused carrier oil
  • Lavender essential oil (at a 3 to 10% dilution)

Instructions

Melt the beeswax over low heat in a double boiler, then stir in the carrier oils until everything is well incorporated. Remove the blend from the heat and add your essential oil. To achieve a lighter consistency like that in the photo (instead of the typical, harder salve consistency), let the mixture cool a bit, then blend it with an immersion blender to add a bit of fluffiness to its texture. Pour the finished blend into sterilized tins or jars and keep one, labeled, in your herbal first aid kit.

Some folks love to use salve right away on burns and others prefer to wait until the initial burning sensation has eased. You'll be able to discern which option works best for you as you tune into your own remedy and give each method a try.

How about you? What do you turn to when you're dealing with a burn? Let me know in the comments below.

Much love,
Erin

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Top 11 Herbs and Essential Oils for the Skin

Walking down the skincare aisle at the drugstore is sort of amusing to me. Shelves and shelves of products with pretty packaging, clinical claims, and long lists of synthetic, chemical-laden ingredients...they don't appeal to me at all anymore, but they do cause me to ponder the reasons our culture tends to so easily buy into their marketing. Before I transitioned to a chemical-free lifestyle, I tried so many different storebought products to try to force my skin into looking vibrant and glowy and clear, but none of them worked long-term and many of them even caused irritation or damage to my sensitive skin. When I started using homemade, botanical products instead of the options offered to me at the local Nordstrom, Target, or CVS, I saw such a drastic improvement in my skin (and my health) that it's hard for me to even fathom picking up a toxin-laden, though prettily packaged, product again.

Since June is Skin Healing month here at AromaCulture, I decided to reserve some blog space to talk about my favorite herbs and essential oils for the skin. All of the botanicals in this post are well suited to a wide variety of skincare and first aid applications and can be used for every skin type. They're perfect ingredients to include in your own skincare formulations. Ready to see what made my Top 11 list?

1. DANDELION

So much of the skin's health depends on what is actually happening on the inside of your body. If your liver and kidneys are not functioning well or your digestive system and circulation are a bit stagnant or your gut health is not quite where it should be, you'll start to notice changes in your skin. Acne, blackheads, irritation, inflammation, dull skin...these are all outward manifestations of an inner imbalance that needs to be addressed. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)  is one of the best herbs for this. It supports the health of the digestive organs, especially the liver (which is directly related to the health of your skin), and helps the body to purify the blood and flush out the yuck that doesn't belong. Any time I start to notice little spots popping up on my face, I know it's time to bring out the Dandelion. My skin thanks me every time.

Dandelion can be utilized for the skin via digestive bitters, herbal hand and foot baths, or through the diet. The whole plant is edible. Flowers can be added to salads, roots can be added to soups, and the greens can be cooked down with something sweet and eaten like any other edible green. (The younger leaves are better tasting than older ones.) Generally, the leaves are used as a diuretic (think stagnant issues, like cellulite) and the root is used to stimulate digestion and the production of bile, supporting the liver (and, therefore, the skin). The root can be roasted and brewed as a coffee substitute and is often included in homemade root beer formulas.

If you have a latex allergy, you will probably want to avoid Dandelion. That milky white sap that you see when you pick a Dandelion is latex.

 
 

2. BURDOCK

Burdock (Arctium lappa) is another liver-supportive herb that will indirectly improve and support the health of the skin. It works to correct the internal imbalances that manifest themselves outwardly via issues with the skin (i.e. dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, etc.) and is also valuable when used externally for scalp health, wounds, rashes, and inflamed areas. It's great at getting the lymph moving, too, so is again indicated where there is stagnation. My favorite herbal shampoo includes Burdock root as a main ingredient. It can be infused into a carrier oil and included in first aid preparations and skin care formulas or can be decocted and used as a wash. Burdock can also be taken internally as a tincture or as a food. The root is often cooked and eaten as a dish called Gobo and it can also be brewed into a tea and included in homemade root beer soda blends.

Burdock is a weedy plant, so it's extremely easy to grow yourself. Start a little patch of it (it'll do well in just about any kind of soil) and harvest the root in early fall. There are no known safety issues for Burdock.

3. CALENDULA

Ah, Calendula. Possibly the herb supreme for skincare formulas. This sunny little bloom is chock-full of flavanoids and carotenoids that help to heal the skin. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is indicated for everything from acne to wounds and helps to reduce inflammation and promote cell repair. It's one of the easiest herbs to grow in the garden and will start blooming in early spring and last until well after the first frost if you keep cutting the stems throughout the growing season. Harvest seeds in the fall or winter to save for the next year's growth.

Use Calendula for the skin by infusing the dried blooms into carrier oils for skincare formulations. It can also be brewed as a tea and used as a compress, wash, or poultice (or taken internally). The hydrosol is lovely on its own or included as an ingredient in cream formulas. The tincture can also be used in some cases, though it may be drying when used externally. Calendula also produces a lovely CO2 extract which can be incorporated into topical blends.

 
 

4. COMFREY

Comfrey (Symphytum uplandica or Symphytum officinale) seems such a happy plant to me. It contentendly pops its first little leaves out of the soil in early spring and sets right to work filling its plot with cheerful green. It may be one of the fastest growing, most resilient plants in my herb garden. Comfrey is one of those botanicals that herbalists just love. It has an incredible affinity for healing the skin and has such pronounced wound healing properties that it's earned the nickname "knitbone" because it is said to 'knit' wounded tissues back together. Rich in the skin-healing and protective component, allantoin, it's often included in first aid formulas and skin care preparations. Infuse the leaves into carrier oil or Aloe to use in blends or use an infusion / tea as a wash. Comfrey can also be utilized as a compress or poultice.

5. LAVENDER

No list of skin-healing herbs would be complete without Lavender. There are many varieties of Lavender products available on the market, but you'll want to look for Lavandula angustifolia for skin-healing purposes. The herb, essential oil, hydrosol, and infused carrier oils are all useful for skin preparations. Most folks who are even the slightest bit interested in herbs and essential oils are familiar with Lavender, so I won't expound too thoroughly on it here, but do know that it can be included in just about every herbal / aromatherapeutic product you ever make for the skin without seeming out of place. Aside from its own contribution to the therapeutic effects of the blend, it seems to marry together all of the other ingredients you choose to include to create a more potent synergy.

Lavender is another easy-to-grow herb that will do fine in well drained soils to a zone 5. In cooler areas, it can be grown in a pot and brought in during the colder months. We're growing about a dozen varieties this year and it hasn't taken me long to decide that it's my favorite herb to grow. There's nothing quite so lovely and delightful as this sweet plant!

Infuse Lavender buds into carrier oils, Aloes, and honeys. Use the tea as a wash. The herb can be used as a compress or poultice. The hydrosol is lovely on its own as a facial toner or body spray or as an ingredient in creams. The essential oil can be added to most any skin care or first aid formula.

 
 

6. ST. JOHN'S WORT

Who doesn't love this sunny little plant? The St. John's Wort used for skincare is Hypericum perforatum, which can be easily identified by the little "holes" in its leaves. When you hold a leaf up to the sunlight, you'll see little dark specks (or perforations) on it. The top 4-6" of the blooming plant is used. The plant is ready to harvest when the buds produce a reddish-purple stain on your fingers when you press them. If you don't see this stain, you're either too early or too late. Watch your patch closely when the weather starts to turn toward summery temperatures near the end of June - the perfect harvesting window is short! Some will be ready and some won't. If you're unable to gather enough in one harvesting session, check back every day or two for the next week to see if more flowers are ready to be collected.

St. John's Wort can be infused into carrier oil (it will turn a bright, deep red color as the flowers release their medicinal properties into the oil) that can be used in both first aid and skin care blends. It's useful for external wounds, burns, cuts, bruises, areas of trauma, and inflammatory complaints and helps to speed recovery. Some folks include it in preparations for shingles or herpes. It's excellent for helping to relieve pain as well, so it's often used in massage oils for sore muscles or injuries.

Some people experience photosensitivity when using St. John's Wort, so be aware of any areas of your skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight after applying. If you experience any sort of rash or discomfort, stop using it.

7. HELICHRYSUM

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) is probably most known for its lovely, skin-healing, anti-aging essential oil. It's pricey, but oh so lovely and effective. It helps to speed recovery of wounds and is often used in first aid applications. It's also excellent in anti-aging skincare products and posh facial creams. One well-known brand uses it in their fancy hand creams and another in their makeup products.

The hydrosol is wonderful for use as a facial toner or body spray and can also be used in herbal creams. A teaspoon of it can be added to a luxurious bath (or hand or foot bath).

The herb itself can be infused into carrier oils or brewed as a tea for use as a wash. It's beneficial for a wide variety of skin ailments, including acne and eczema.

 
 

8. PLANTAIN

Plantain (Plantago spp.) is another weed-like plant that grows along the trodden path; it likes to follow human footsteps and spring up right where it is most likely to be needed. It's a skin-soothing herb that's especially great for skin irritations like bug bites and stings. Just the other day, I was planting out some new herb transplants into my garden and something decided to bite me. The swelling, itching, and burning reaction didn't seem too bad at first so I carried on with what I was doing, but within a few minutes, the bite had turned into quite a painful welt. I walked over to my bed of Plantain, picked one of the leaves, crushed it with my fingers and rubbed it over the area. I then used a fresh leaf, also crushed, to lay over the area as an herbal bandaid (it will stick on its own if you've crushed it). Within a few minutes, the itching and burning had stopped and when the leaf naturally fell off 15 or 20 minutes later, the Plantain had completed its job. I couldn't even tell where the bite had been.

 
 

Plantain can be used in a carrier oil or Aloe for first aid and skin care preparations to soothe and reduce inflammation and irritation and can also be taken internally as a tea (or used externally as a wash) for other issues.

 
 

9. ROSE

Rose (Rosa spp.) can be utilized in its every form for delightful, luxurious skin formulas. More ideas for ways to do that here and here. They contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds (which suit acne-prone skin), are rich in anti-aging properties, and are known to nourish, hydrate, and even help tone and rejuvenate the skin

Rose petals, Rose hydrosol, Rosehip seed oil, Rose flower essence, and precious Rose essential oil are all derived from this one generous plant. I like to incorporate her into every step of my own skincare routine.

Rose essential oil is also beneficial for wounds when there has been trauma. It will not only help with speeding the recovery of the skin, but will also comfort the heart and mind and work to bring stability back to the person affected.

 
 

10. CARROT SEED

Carrot Seed (Daucus carota) is available both as an essential oil and as a CO2 and an infused carrier oil. All are beneficial for the skin. It's one of those plants that's also beneficial for the liver and is helpful for releasing blocked energy, so we know it's going to be amazing for our skin! Include it in topical blends for a variety of skin ailments, including eczema, psoriasis, acne, and other inflammatory, irritated conditions. It's also useful for anti-aging skincare products and can be used in carrier oils, creams, and facial steams.

Avoid use when pregnant.

11. MARSHMALLOW

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) leaf and root are both used for skin and hair formulas (root is more commonly used, but the leaf can also be used). It's rich in flavanoids, polysaccharides, and beta-carotene and is mucilaginous, making it skin-soothing and anti-inflammatory. You can infuse the root into a carrier oil or Aloe to use in a blend or you can prepare a decoction and use it as a poultice or wash. It blends well with Chamomile tea for this purpose as well. It's effective for a variety of ailments, including eczema, burns, and wounds, and will help to moisten dry skin. Powdered root can be included in homemade baby powder blends.

12. YARROW

I couldn't choose just 11 after all! Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is so useful in the herbal first aid kit that I felt it had to be included in this list. The leaves are styptic and antiseptic and can be powdered and used in styptic powder recipes or used fresh when needed. All of the aerial parts of the plant can be used to help speed healing of wounds, burns, and other skin ailments. The foliage is light and feathery and the flowers are lovely; it's easy to grow from seed (perennial) and the pollinators love it. Look for the white or pink flowering varieties if you want to use the herb medicinally. The yellow flowering varieties are ornamental. Use the herb in hand and foot baths, washes, and compresses to help reduce inflammation and speed healing.

I've used Yarrow hydrosol as a styptic in a pinch and it seems to be just as effective as the herb itself, at least for minor cases. It can also be used as a facial toner or as an ingredient in creams. The essential oil is antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. Include it in blends for your first aid kit to help with the pain and swelling associated with injury. For skin-care, it can be a useful ingredient for irritated, inflamed skin complaints.
 

WHICH HERBS AND/OR ESSENTIAL OILS WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST?
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

Much love,
Erin

How to Use Chive Blossoms In the Kitchen + Make Chive Blossom Vinegar

There's a 100 year old farm just down the road from us that grows all of their crops organically. Every few days, they stock the little barn-side shop on their property with fresh produce, herbs, and baked goods. Locals can stop by just about any time of day to shop, leave their money in the cash box, and head home with truly fresh-from-the-farm food. I love it! One of the things that has been included in the selection at the barn these past couple of weeks is Chive blossoms. They're such delightful blooms to use in the kitchen, so I brought a batch home to enjoy.

The blossoms smell just like Chives and have a bright, mild, onion-like flavor, so I like to use them to accent flavors in savory dishes. One of the ways I like to use them is in a vinegar infusion; the result is always so beautiful - the vinegar turns bright pink within a day or two!

Infusing the blooms in vinegar is fairly simple. Place them in a mason jar and pour fresh vinegar over them until they're covered. Cap the jar, give it a good shake, and set it out on the counter so you'll remember to shake it each day while it infuses. It'll be ready in a few weeks (2 to 6, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be - taste it occasionally to gauge the strength) and then you can strain out the blossoms and store the vinegar in a fresh jar in the pantry or fridge.

Chive blossom infused vinegar can be used to make vinaigrette salad dressings, to flavor meat dishes like chicken or fish, and can be added to soups, eggs, or grilled dishes to add a delicious, bright flavor to the overall plate.

Chives blossoms can also be chopped and added to herbal butters or soft cheeses (including cream cheese). Using them this way can add another layer of flavor to garlic breads, biscuits, breadsticks, potatoes, crackers, or pizza crusts. The stalks can be used in the same way and can also be hung to dry or wrapped fresh around bundles of veggies, like asparagus. Tie one around a bundle of fresh basil and set it in a mason jar with water as a pretty decorative piece for your table.

Chives are a member of the onion (Allium) genus, and are closely related to garlic, onions, and leeks. They have a bright, fresh, mild onion-like flavor and can be grown as a hardy perennial herb in growing zones as low as zone 3. Chives grow happily in almost any soil type, but seem to thrive best in rich, fluffy soil that is well draining and kept moist; they don't like to dry out.

Chives aren't really used medicinally by herbalists, but they are used as a delicious culinary herb. They combine especially well with other aromatic herbs used for flavoring savory dishes. Add them at the last moment when cooking to keep their flavor bright and fresh. The bulbs can be pickled for use in the off-season as well.

Are the Chives blooming where you are? Let me know in the comments below. =)

Much love,
Erin

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Herbal Skincare: Helichrysum Rejuvenating Balm

The moment I saw that my Helichrysum seedlings had emerged from their little soil nursery this spring, I couldn't stop the smile that spread across my face. There's just something about actually growing the plants you are using yourself that adds a new layer of depth to your relationship with them. Helichrysum is one of my favorite botanicals for skincare recipes and home remedies. I've long utilized it in its herbal form, as a hydrosol, and as an essential oil and now that I'll have access to the fresh plant, I'm looking forward to making a flower essence once these sweet little plant babies are old enough to spread their sunny faces toward the sky.

Helichrysum is such a versatile herb when it comes to formulas for the skin. It rejuvenates the skin cells and helps to promote quick recovery from wounds, soothes irritation, calms inflammation, smells amazing, and generally supports the healing process. I love it. This balm recipe is one of my must have recipes for my herbal first aid kit. It can be used when dealing with just about any kind of skin issue, though you'll want to avoid using it on deep or puncture wounds until they have scabbed over.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 part beeswax
  • 5 parts carrier oil that has been infused with Helichrysum flowers
  • 1 part carrier oil that has been infused with Calendula flowers
  • essential oils of Helichrysum, Lavender, and Calendula CO2 (optional)

HOW TO MAKE THE BALM

  1. Infuse your carrier oils with the herbs if you don't already have infused oils on hand in your home apothecary. I like to infuse my oils for at least 6 weeks, but you could also use the quick-infusion method if you need your balm to be ready right away.
     
  2. Melt the beeswax in a double boiler over low heat. Once it's melted, stir in the infused oils.
     
  3. Remove the blend from the heat and stir in your essential oils at a 3 to 5 % total dilution (optional).
     
  4. After the blend has cooled a bit, use an immersion blender to 'fluff up' the texture of the balm.
     
  5. Scoop into sterilized jars or tins. Add your labels (include the date you made the product + all of the ingredients you used).
     
  6. Store a jar in your herbal first aid kit so you'll know where it is when you need it. This balm can also be used as a daily moisturizer if you leave the essential oils out or keep them at a 1 to 2 % total dilution. When used after showering or washing your hands, it will soak nicely into the skin without leaving any sort of greasy residue.

Enjoy!
Much love,
Erin

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The Art of Herbal Papermaking (How to Make Paper Out of Weeds, Herbs, or Other Plants)

When I was younger, I was obsessed with unique stationery. Pretty letter papers and envelopes, vibrant stickers, and endless stacks of notebooks were some of my favorite things. [Actually, artistic, spiral-bound notebooks are still at the top of my list of favorite things!] I had quite a little collection going and I loved using bits of it to send snail mail to my penpals and far-away family and friends. I can still remember one handmade paper set in particular that was made with cotton and deep pink rose petals. I loved it so much that I never wanted to use any of it. It was just too beautiful to write on and the texture was divine! 

I still love handmade papers. You just can't match the character of handmade stationery with a sheet of anything mass produced. Once in awhile, I set aside some time to make some for myself. It's perfect for packaging up thoughtful gifts; I also love painting on it. Lately, I've been adding garden weeds and herbs, sometimes sustainably wildcrafted bits of plentiful flora, to my "paper batter" and I've been loving the results, so I thought I'd share the process with you here.

Note: This tutorial was originally published in the May 2017 issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO NEED

  • a mould and deckle
  • a thick, clean kitchen sponge
  • sheets of cotton or felt (I like to use this cut down into smaller pieces.)
  • recycled paper scraps (or shavings)
  • a blender
  • dried herbs, flowers, or garden weeds
  • a tub larger than your mould and deckle
  • water

TUTORIAL

  1. Fill your tub about halfway with lukewarm warm water and set it aside.
     
  2. Fill a blender halfway (loosely, not packed) with recycled paper torn into smaller pieces. You can use the paper from your paper shredder bin, old newspapers or packing paper, etc. You'll want to avoid papers with a glossy coating; matte papers will work best. Old coloring sheets, tissue paper, or construction paper could be added to the mix to incorporate a bit of color to the finished paper.
     
  3. Add water to the blender until all of the paper is covered by about an inch or two of liquid. Pulse the blender for about 30 seconds, or until you're left with a pulpy, watery mix, free of large chunks.
     
  4. At this point, you can add a little bit of dried herb, flowers, or garden weeds to the blender and pulse again to incorporate. I like to use garden "weeds" in my paper - Plantain, Dandelion, etc. all work well once dried. You can also use dried Rose or Calendula petals, or just about anything else that you'd like to include.
     
  5. Pour the pulp into your tub of water and use your hand or a spatula to give it a good mix. After agitating the water, lower your mould and deckle into the tub, below the surface of the water, holding both pieces of it tightly together so they don't separate. Let the pulp settle a bit into the frame, then slowly lift the mould and deckle out of the water. Let the excess water drip through the screen back into the tub.
     
  6. Remove the top piece of the frame and set it aside so that you are left with just the screened piece.
     
  7. Lay a sheet of cotton batting or felt over the paper sheet, then lay a cookie sheet on top of that. Flip the entire ensemble over carefully (the cookie sheet helps to keep everything flat while flipping, sort of like flipping a cake out of a cake pan) and set the cookie sheet aside. The cotton sheet will now be touching the counter (or work surface); the new paper sheet will be on top of that and the screened frame will be on top.
     
  8. Press the kitchen sponge along the screen to absorb excess water, squeezing the water out of the sponge and back into the tub as you go. Once you have removed much of the moisture from the paper through the screen, you can lift the screened frame off so you're
    left with your new sheet of paper laying on the sheet of cotton batting.
     
  9. At this point, you can leave the sheet as is in a safe place to dry. After a few hours, you can remove the paper from the cotton batting and let it continue to dry out. Once all of the water has evaporated, you'll be left with a beautiful sheet of handmade paper!

Have you ever tried making paper? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.

Much love,
Erin

Meet an Aromatherapist: An Interview with Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

Many of you will fondly recognize our guest today. Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, aromatherapist, essential oil safety advocate, and educator-extraordinaire, is no stranger to the aromatherapy community and we're blessed to be able to share our recent interview with you here on the blog this week!

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ABOUT SYLLA

Sylla Sheppard-Hanger has 40-some years of experience and personal research into bodywork and essential oils as a Natural Health Care Practitioner, licensed Massage Therapist, Aromatherapist, and licensed Cosmetologist. Her fascination with aromatherapy has led her to study with some of the most knowledgeable people in the field of aromatic and medicinal plants, essential oil research, and herbology.

In 1993, she completed the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Program at Purdue University in Indiana, and continued to complete the International Training in Essential Oils: Advanced Studies - Parts 1 & 2 (1996-7). She was a founding member of the American Aromatherapy Association (1988) and served two terms on the Board of Directors. She is the Founder and Director of the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy (Tampa, Florida) and author of The Aromatic Spa Book (2007), The Aromatic Mind Book (2008), The Aromatherapy Practitioner Correspondence Course, and the Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual (1995). Sylla founded and directed the volunteer team for the United Aromatherapy Effort, Inc. (UAE), a non-profit charity whose mission is the collection and dissemination of donated aromatherapy products and chair massage to those affected during critical incidents and emergency work. Sylla worked closely with Dr. Trevor Stokes of the University of South Florida in their Psychosocial Aromatherapy Research Project (PARP) using aroma in children with autism and other disorders. She teaches and consults with companies needing help; and she maintains a private Aromatherapy practice (as a licensed massage therapist and cosmetologist) in Tampa, Florida, where she resides with her husband and one cat.


THE INTERVIEW

Hi Sylla! Thanks for being here with us today.  Could you start by telling us a bit about who you are, where our readers can find you, and what you are doing in the aromatherapy industry right now?

Thank you for this opportunity! I started in the 1970's when I first found essential oils and added them to my massage practice.  I actually thought I invented something but soon found out others had the same ideas. 

It all started on the quintessential “hippy road trip,” during which I ran across a fragrance shop for the first time.  It was love at first scent (and sight­ — I love those little glass bottles). That love became an obsession with personal scents and I developed one for myself that I still wear to this day. Those who know me know me by scent, even when I’m no longer there.

From there, I moved into licensed massage therapy and began to incorporate fragrances into my massages. The effects on clients sometimes astounded me! My lifelong obsession with aromas, essential oils, and positive effects was cemented.

Today, I work in several aspects of the industry.  From teaching to researching, editing for peers to client consultations — I am very active within the aromatic world and have a driving desire to encourage safe use on a global level.

You can read that whole story of my aromatic birth here.

When did you start working with essential oils? What was it about them that inspired you?

Like many people, essential oils changed my life from the moment I first smelled some way back in the mid-1970’s.  When I added them to my massage treatments, clients experienced amazing relaxation; when I made my own personal perfume, I felt complete.  It became my signature scent that I still am known by today, 40 years later. 

Which teachers or mentors have been the most influential in your aromatherapy journey?

Like so many in this industry, I began by reading anything I could. Of course, in those early days, finished quality reading material was harder to find. After I’d read all I could and incorporatedthat material into my practice, I searched for further education.

I found Kurt Schnaubelt and the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy and enrolled in (and completed) the program there. I loved their conferences. Oh, the joy of gathering together with like minds and learning from others! Kurt and Monica were the first to bring many aromatherapists to America for those conferences — I heard from people like Tisserand, Penoël, and Franchomme. Great days, those were!

I talk more about those first days in my education here.

Was there ever a specific situation that led you to an, "Oh, this really works!" moment?

Several moments stick out:

  • My first healing experience of treating a bedsore wound with lavender.
  • Helping one person to relax in order to pass away in peace, soon after diffusion.
  • My own healing experience during radiation treatment for breast cancer and feelings during my breast cancer journey (link below).
  • Finally, a testament to daily diffusion: it is rare that either I or my husband catch a flu, virus, or other contagious illnesses, even though we both work around lots of people. He totally attributes that to living with me and the oils all these years; our home is protected!! So, our having no major illness from airborne germs because of diffusion is a big one.

I must say, though, that one of the most amazing things is seeing the “This really works” moment. Watching someone have a complete breakthrough in thinking just by smelling an oil or blend or having a complete emotional release (cry, laugh, etc) — that is something I’ve always loved. My daughter, Nyssa, and I say in our classes that the class is not successful unless someone cries. And most often, someone does, even us.  

My journey combining complementary aromatherapy with radiation is a free download here (put it in the cart, then check out - use credit card 0000, leave expiration as is, and fill out other information as usual). 

Can you tell us a bit about your own pursuit of aromatherapy education?

I first took the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy course in the early 1980s, then wrote my own Aromatherapy Practitioner Home Study Course to fill in the gaps for practitioners as I found the course lacking that part. I attended every class, conference, and meeting I could find in those days before the internet. Some of that is chronicled in the link below. 

As a Founding Member of the first American Aromatherapy Association, I met all the leaders in the field. Later, I attended Purdue University for several programs on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, including the two-part Essential Oils Program with Dr.  Jim Simon. 

Other influences have greatly expanded my personal growth in the field. Some of them include: 

  • I studied with Martin Watt in person and over distance, first published his Plant Aromatics and brought him to the United States of America. 
  • Tony Burfield helped me with scientific editing for my courses and I published his Natural Aromatics Odours and Origins (both the first and, more recently, second editions) which taught me more. 
  • I’ve repeatedly teamed up with Dr.  Robert Pappas and have sponsored classes and collaborated on papers with him for many years. 
  • I also attended a fascinating summer program on plant classifications at Cambridge University (UK). They have all the plant families in separate beds there! 
  • I hosted and studied with Robbi Zeck and the Blossoming Heart classes.
  • Gabriel Mojay has been a big influence as a personal friend and colleague and a joy to host in classes here in Tampa. 
  • Most recently, I attended Mark Webb’s 8-day Medical Aromatherapy class in Atlanta.
  • A full listing of all the courses I’ve taken can be found here.

One thing aromatherapists have in common is an endless thirst for continued education in our field.  What are some of the ways you are continuing your own education?

Besides attending most Alliance of International Aromatherapists and National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy conferences, I enjoy attending classes like the Aromatic Medicine above. Editing Tony Burfield’s Natural Aromatics Odours and Origins, Second Edition has been a continuing education for me and my daughter for the last year. In addition, I’m regularly updating my own course materials and creating new courses is education. Aside from all of that, I enjoy the informative parts of social media (Facebook/LinkedIn) for leads on new studies and updated information.

What does a typical day or week as an aromatherapist look like for you?

Today it is scattered regular clients and some online mentoring in our Student Forum. For the last year, spare moments were spent working on editing and publishing Tony Burfield’s second edition; since Nyssa and I are also creating a new beginner course, we are writing sections for this. In addition, throughout the last few years, I have been working with new companies/individuals - consulting, creating blends, etc. (such as the Kids line for Eden’s Garden). 

What do you enjoy most about being an aromatherapist?

I love daily work with the oils — making a new blend or just using them in my own self-care, for diffusion, etc.  Mostly I enjoy making changes in people’s lives so simply and pleasantly, and sharing with others the simplicity and pleasure of living with essential oils. I recently gave a diffuser and oils to a friend’s mom who is house-bound — her life is much more pleasant and healthier with it!

What is one of the most challenging things about being an aromatherapist?

When I started 40 yrs ago, there were no courses or qualifications or titles for people taking courses. We have had to create this in our industry, and even still today, they are varied and inconsistent; from Aromatherapy Practitioner to Certified Aromatherapist, with training time varying from a simple weekend to years of study.  The national organizations have their standard requirements for members, but that leaves out the rest of the world. 

Our working vision is to get the Registered Aromatherapist designation in place — for this, people can take an independent exam (regardless of which accepted course they choose) and receive the title Registered Aromatherapist. Right now, this remains our only designation with a standard, yet it needs new volunteer input and some changes to reflect what Aromatherapists really want.

So the acceptance and embracing of aromatherapy or aromatic medicine in holistic health care is happening, but slowly, and this is good to see. However, the other issue is battling the constant unsafe info being generated by the masses on the internet.

Is there a particular aspect of aromatherapy that you are passionate about?

Safety!! As former chair of The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy Safety Committee (unfortunately now defunct), I developed a passion for stressing safe use — due to the tremendous amount of reports of injuries caused by unsafe advice since about the mid 1980’s. We had never had to deal with this issue before the unsafe advice started being spread. This led to the collection of injury reports we still now collect. The collection has begun to reveal the degree of less safe use and the need for safety education at a mass level. It also points to the validity of a class action lawsuit being looked into.

Which essential oils are you finding yourself working with most often lately?

Lately, I have used what I call the breather oils (conifers/citrus), partly because I love the fresh clean smell and because my oak trees are full of pollen. Since pollen doesn’t help my breathing issues, I am preventing the issues by staying inside! Also I have been playing more with new CO2 extractions, most recently,  the Rosemary ct. verbenone, which has always been a favorite!

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in the aromatherapy industry?

Decide on your role and capabilities: essential oil producer, product sales, product formulation, application as a licensed professional (for instance: massage/skin care), mental health counseling, health coach, etc. Ask yourself, “What do I want to do in the industry?”

Find the most relevant school and teachers to get your initial education; look for teachers who may share your field, especially those that are still practicing therapists themselves. Look for those who are still learning themselves. Look for schools that have a long history of specialty education in aromatherapy. Check out the school and teachers’ accomplishments over the years: are they active in the industry? How long have they been teaching? Look for those with high regard in the field and courses that are approved by the national organizations. 

And .  .  .  never stop learning!


I hope you've enjoyed getting to know our guest a bit more today. Have a lovely week!

Much love,
Erin

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Hawthorn + Hibiscus Smoothie Recipe

I think the weather here forgot about spring this year. It seems like we went from super chilly, rainy, hot-tea-and-oversized-sweaters days to 90 degree flip-flops-and-shorts days overnight. I don't know what happened. Suddenly, my cozy, heart-warming daily rituals of the past couple of months don't seem as seasonally appropriate. (No one wants to soak their feet in a steaming foot bath and drink hot tea when all they really want to do is run through the sprinklers and eat popsicles.) Soooo I'm working on incorporating my daily herb buddies into slightly less hot recipes, this Hawthorn smoothie being one of my current favorites.

Hawthorn is my herbal best friend. My connection with this plant runs so deep that I kind of think of her as a living, vibrant person now. As a gal with a heart condition, she's worked wonders in her supportive, healing friend role. I love her! Sitting with the baby Hawthorn trees in my garden makes me feel so warm and calm and comforted; the same way I feel when I drink her tea. But I'm not exactly craving hot teas at the moment, so I've been experimenting with incorporating teas into my daily smoothies at breakfast time and, guys, I think I've found my new favorite thing. Herbal teas and infusions used as the liquids in smoothie recipes instead of milks, juices, or water are amazing. I don't know why I didn't try them sooner!

HAWTHORN SMOOTHIE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 14 ounces of Hawthorn + Hibiscus tea
    Tip: In the evening, just before bed, pour the freshly boiled water over an ounce of Hawthorn leaf, flower + berry + a bit of Hibiscus flowers. Let it cool, then set it in the fridge, covered, to continue to steep overnight. In the morning, it'll be nice and chilled, ready to strain and add to your smoothie. You can also steep the blend for 10 minutes in the morning and use it as a standard tea base for your smoothie.
  • 24 organic strawberries
  • 2 organic bananas
  • 1 organic orange
  • optional add-ins: a TBSP of organic nut butter, a handful of raw oats, or 1/2 cup whole, plain, organic yogurt

    Yield: smoothies for 2

HOW TO MAKE IT

Pour the tea into your blender and follow it up with the other ingredients. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Much love,
Erin


5.99

How to Make an Herbal Face Toner with Garden Plants

There's a glorious, untouched field full of wild herbs and edibles across from our home. My husband and I love to take our pup out there to run around, forage, and spend time with plants. We have a bit of a joke in our family that our dog is a canine herbalist - she seems to always be drawn to aromatic herbs. Back in California, one of our neighbors had some large Lavender plants bordering her picket fence and every time we'd pass her house on our walks, our sweet little pup would have to stop to smell those Lavender bushes for a moment. (Smart dog!)

One of the herbs that's abundant in the field here, especially near the frequently trodden bits, is Plantain. It's so lush and vibrant and, on a recent walk through the field, I felt like it wanted to be made into something lovely. So I harvested a bit, brought it home, and whipped up a new batch of facial toner (among other things). Skin care products are some of my favorite formulas to develop and I'm really loving this one at the moment. I hope you enjoy it!

The herbs in this recipe can be interchanged with whatever skin-nourishing plants you have on hand. These just happen to be what I was drawn to when I was making this batch. I've been really keen on garden herbs lately (perhaps because all of the little seedlings I've been nurturing and planting out have me dreaming of summer blooms), so I've included many of them in this recipe.

I've also included a bit of organic liquid chlorophyll in the recipe. I saw a bottle of it in our local healthfood store that was made from organic alfalfa awhile back and it intrigued me, so I picked up a bottle to experiment with in topical formulations. Liquid chlorophyll is said to be incredibly skin healing, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory when used topically.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 part Plantain leaves
  • 1 part Nettles
  • 1 part Burdock root
  • 1 part Calendula flowers
  • 1 part Rose petals
  • Aloe vera juice (the kind meant for internal use without all of the added junk) or raw, organic Apple cider vinegar
  • liquid Chlorophyll

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine equal parts of all of the herbs you're going to use in your formula. Infuse the herbs in organic, raw Apple cider vinegar for several weeks (4-6), then strain the herbs out of the liquid and send them to the compost pile. Alternatively, you can infuse the herbs in Aloe vera juice for 20-30 minutes instead. The product will have a shorter shelf life and will be best kept in the fridge, but Aloe vera boasts a plethora of skin-healing therapeutic properties in itself and is well worth using in skincare formulas.
     
  2. Pour the strained liquid into a sterilized spray bottle and add a couple of drops of liquid chlorophyll. Shake well.
     
  3. To use, spray an organic cotton pad (or washcloth) with Aloe vera juice (if you're using a vinegar infusion), then spray the same cotton pad with your herbal vinegar. Swipe the pad across the skin of your face and neck, then follow up with your favorite herbal serum or cream.

I hope you enjoy the recipe! If you decide to give it a go, leave a comment below to let me know how you like it.

Much love,
Erin

MAY'S MAGAZINE ISSUE IS NOW AVAILABLE!

How to Make Chamomile Body Lotion

*Note: This recipe was first published in the April 2017 issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

Whether you like to use natural, homemade products whenever possible or you just want to have skin as soft as a baby's, I think you're going to love this recipe. When I originally set out to create a lotion that I could use everyday in place of my go-to storebought one, I wanted to create something that was gentle enough for a baby, calming, and suitable for long-term everyday use. I adore this result of that formulating day and I'm thrilled to share this recipe with you now.

I have purposely not used any essential oils in this formula. I found that they were unnecessary, especially if I wanted my formula to be suitable for wee ones, and I tend to leave them out of most everyday products anyway. The hydrosol and the Chamomile flower infusion provide just the right amount of dreamy Chamomile scent without the overpowering aroma that Chamomile essential oils can sometimes present. The result is truly lovely.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ounce of organic Aloe vera juice (the kind fit for internal use, without additives)
  • 1 ounce of German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) hydrosol
  • 1 teaspoon of organic German Chamomile flowers
     
  • .75 ounce of organic Sweet Almond oil
  • .75 ounce of organic Sunflower oil
  • .5 ounce of organic Cocoa butter
  • 1/3 ounce of organic, unrefined Shea butter
  • 1/6 ounce of organic beeswax

Note: If you prefer to formulate creams with preservatives, you are welcome to adjust the recipe to include whichever one you wish to use. You will need to follow the manufacturer instructions for the product to do so.

If you prefer not to work with preservatives, you'll want to store this cream in the fridge, access it only with clean hands, and use it up within a week or so.


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the Chamomile flowers in a tea ball and set it inside a bowl with the Aloe vera and the hydrosol to infuse.
  2. Melt the beeswax in a double boiler over low heat. Once it is melted, add the Cocoa butter.
  3. When both the beeswax and Cocoa butter are melted, remove them from the heat and place the bowl of liquids (Aloe + hydrosol) in the double boiler, with the heat turned off, to warm.
  4. Add the other carrier oils to the beeswax and Cocoa butter and stir until everything is thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Stir in the Shea butter. It will melt as you mix it with the other oils.
  6. Once the oil mix and the 'water' mix have both reached a temperature of 110 degrees F, you are ready to start blending the two together to form your lotion. It's important that both the liquids and the oils be right at 110 degrees, otherwise they may not emulsify correctly.
  7. Using an immersion blender, start blending your carrier oils, which should have started to show a change in their texture by now (this is good). Very slowly, start adding little bits of the liquids into the oils, all the while keeping the immersion blender going. Slowly add more liquids into the oils in small increments until all of the liquids have been added. Continue to blend using the immersion blender for a couple of minutes, until your lotion reaches a consistency that you like.
  8. Pour the mixture into your jars, add labels, and enjoy!

NOTES

  1. Lotions can be tricky and it may take some practice before you perfect your fluffy concoction. If the lotion doesn't come together on your first try, remelt the whole mixture in a double boiler over very low heat until it again reaches 110 degrees F, then try again.
  2. Homemade lotions are best stored in the fridge and made in very small batches.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful, calming lotion! I know we are and I've heard some glowing reports from readers who made this recipe after seeing it in the April issue of our AromaCulture Magazine. =)
Much love,
Erin

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Meet an Aromatherapist: An Interview with Rhiannon Lewis

*Note: This interview was first published in the April issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

I was first introduced to Rhiannon Lewis through the Aromatherapy Certification Program's Masters Series at Aromahead Institute. One of the educational webinars available to me as a student featured Andrea's interview with Rhiannon about French medical aromatherapy. I later came to recognize Rhiannon as the creator of the Botanica aromatherapy conferences and the editor of the International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy. She's a lovely person and a gifted aromatherapist and educator. I'm thrilled to be able to share this interview with you today!

ABOUT RHIANNON

Rhiannon Lewis is the director of Essential Oil Resource Consultants. She is an experienced aromatherapist, author, editor and gifted educator. Her extensive experience in the clinical uses of essential oils stems from undertaking training in the UK, France and the USA.

Together with Gabriel Mojay, Rhiannon is editor of the International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy. Through publication of evidence-based articles and research studies, she inspires practitioners to use essential oils and related products across a range of healthcare settings. Rhiannon is also the host and organizer of the Botanica series of conferences that run biennially. 


THE INTERVIEW

Hi Rhiannon! Thank you for joining us today. For those readers who do not know you yet, could you tell us a bit about who you are, where you come from, and what you do in the aromatherapy world?

Hi Erin, thanks for inviting me. I am often described as a Welsh African living in Provence (Afro-Gallo-Provencale)! I was born and brought up in the African bush and owe my passion for aromas and aromatic plants to my early childhood experiences in nature. I then spent a chunk of years in the UK where I trained as a nurse and where I began my professional aromatherapy journey. I have been living in France for the past 20 years, 17 of which have been in my current location, tucked away in the mountains of Provence surrounded by wild aromatics and artisan distillers. My work, essentially, is providing information, education and research in the field of essential oils, and especially, in the field of clinical aromatherapy. I achieve this in several ways: via classes and conferences, via my publication, the International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy, and via the Botanica series of international conferences of which I am host and organizer. I also practice aromatherapy in my community.

When did you start working with essential oils? What drew you to them?

I first started working with essential oils in the 1980’s. I was a nurse working in intensive care at the time and, inspired by the first book written by Shirley Price, I began using them for my own wellbeing and to help cope with stresses related to working in a high tech environment with very sick patients. The difference they made to my own life and sense of balance led me to consider what a difference they could make to patients. So, I left my secure full time job as a nurse and entered full time aromatherapy training with the intent to return to the clinical environment as a therapist instead of as a nurse, which I did. My training in aromatherapy was then further extended over the years that followed by attending educational programs in the USA (essential oil science) and France (the French medical style of using essential oils).

If one of our readers wanted to attend one of your classes or workshops, how could they go about doing so?

I teach at events in different countries around the world so the best way to find out where I am or what I am up to is via my website where there is a calendar of events. I also host classes here in Provence during the summer months – usually they relate to my Advanced Clinical Aromatherapy intensive study program that began 19 years ago and which has several levels and reflects my knowledge, training, and experience of both the traditional UK and French aromatic medicine approaches to using essential oils.

Tell us a bit about the Botanica conferences. When did you start organizing them? Will there be another one in the coming years?

For many years, I had dreamed of hosting an international conference: one that was independent of any membership organization, that was devoid of hype and egos and that simply brought together people who were passionate about herbal therapeutics and especially essential oils, to celebrate common ground, to provide a platform for networking and sharing experience, skills, products and education. In 2010, I found the ideal location and began organizing the first event which finally took place in September, 2012 at Trinity College Dublin.

Botanica2012 was a great success, and this has been built on successively every two years. The last event, Botanica2016 took place at the University of Sussex and welcomed 400 persons from almost 50 different countries. Botanica2018 is set to take place there again, August 31 - September 3, 2018.

What makes Botanica unique is the truly international nature of the event, the excellent speakers, the diverse trade show and the warmth of exchanges between practitioners, researchers, producers and suppliers alike.

Can you tell us a bit about your aromatherapy journal?

The International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy was launched in 2004 in response to the needs of therapists working in clinical environments or those who are working clinically with essential oils. The IJCA provides solid, evidence-based information to help these practitioners extend their knowledge and skills and make an even greater difference at the bedside. The journal is published twice a year and each issue carries a main theme. For example, the themes for 2016 related to digestive challenges, the themes for 2017 relate to symptom management and so on. In 2014, Gabriel Mojay came on board as my associate editor and we transitioned the journal to an e-format which has permitted us to further expand the content and presentation of the journal. For 2017 we are setting up an online networking platform for current IJCA subscribers, the International Clinical Aromatherapy Network (ICAN) as we want to foster closer exchanges between readers of the IJCA.

What are some of the trends you are seeing in the aromatherapy industry?

One trend that I have been watching with interest is the increase in online training programs leading to professional aromatherapy qualification. Several leading educators such as Andrea Butje of the Aromahead Institute in the USA have really taken online learning opportunities to a high level and students are well supported in their learning journey. Over the last couple of years there has been a veritable explosion of online classes – they are of varying depth and quality.

Another trend I have seen in the UK in clinical settings (partly through my influence in the cancer care field over the past 14 years) is that more and more aromaalone interventions (aroma stick inhalers, aroma patches, etc.) are being used. Previously, aromatherapy was almost always associated with a touch intervention, such as massage. This is changing, at least in the cancer and palliative care world, with very positive outcomes.

Another trend I have been watching is the rise in popularity of using essential oils by the general public with little or no awareness of the potency of essential oils. This trend is worrying and as aromatherapists, we need to be vigilant and ready to educate on the safe, appropriate use of essential oils and related products wherever we can.

One of the trends we are seeing here in America is misuse of essential oils when it comes to internal applications. You are a trained educator of aromatic medicine. Could you briefly address the issues we are seeing with the misuse of essential oils, especially when it comes to ingestion?

As you say, this trend began in the USA, but has also now spread to other countries and so we are seeing concerns raised in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, Japan and so on. In my mind, there are two things to consider.

Firstly, to use essential oils internally in a safe and effective manner, one normally has to have a very good indication/ clear diagnosis (usually an acute situation such as infection), a sound rationale for the specific oils chosen for this route of administration, use of the minimum effective dose, careful monitoring and treatment over the short term only. Unfortunately, the trend we are seeing (often erroneously cited as the “French style”) appears to be the complete reverse - essential oils are ingested in high doses over extended periods of time more as a lifestyle fad than for a specific indication, with little or no monitoring and it is often the case that the essential oils selected are ones that carry a certain level of risk such as toxicity or mucous membrane irritation. In my opinion, this trend will only change / be positively influenced with good education.

Secondly, this excessive consumption / use of essential oil presents a significant ecological impact. Every drop of essential oil represents a large biomass of plant material. When people use essential oils excessively and without a sound indication, not only are they putting
their health at risk, they are also having a negative impact on the environment; they are being wasteful (even qualified aromatherapists need reminding of this fact!). Once again, we need good education to reinforce the importance of the minimum effective dose, the awareness that every single concentrated drop of essential oil counts and that in many cases, an herbal (or other) approach may in fact be more effective.

Could you share one of the ways you use essential oils most often in your own life?

I tend to restrict my use of essential oils to when I need them, usually when I get sick. I tend to use them most often when traveling, to help me adjust to time zones, to protect from germs and to restore my energy levels.

In my practice here in Provence, I use essential oils for a wide range of needs. A recent blend I made for a client here in Provence that was truly wonderful contained Vetiveria zizanioides (Rhus kus), Citrus bergamia (Bergamot), Tsuga canadensis (Hemlock) and Citrus aurantium var. amara (Neroli). This client has complex issues including longstanding fibromyalgia and insomnia and absolutely loves this blend. She is sleeping better, has less pain and is currently reducing her antidepressant medication (under medical supervision) with regular use of this blend in aroma stick and topical applications combined with regular bodywork and counselling.

Which aspect of aromatherapy do you enjoy the most?

My passion is for making a difference to the quality of life for patients living with cancer or those with a lifelimiting illness. This is where the therapist ideally needs a broad set of aromatic skills (clinical, holistic, medical, etc.). I love being able to explore and research specific clinical challenges that therapists in these settings meet on a daily basis and then be able to offer well informed strategies to help them enhance their care.

What is next for you? Are you working on any new projects?

I am never short of ideas and projects! There is, of course, Botanica2018 to organize, the ICAN to set up, as well as some wonderful local projects in my community that involve essential oils. On a personal level, I will be getting married this summer and so that in itself needs some planning!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS:

  • FAVORITE VEGETABLE - Leeks (well, I am Welsh after all!)
  • FAVORITE FLOWER – Gloriosa superba (flame lily), the national emblem of Zimbabwe
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU HAVE TRAVELED – the hot springs village of Kurokawa onsen near Mount Aso in Japan
  • FAVORITE ESSENTIAL OIL - This evolves over time depending on how I am feeling and what situations I am in but I confess to being a long-term fan of Lavandula latifolia (spike lavender).

Rhiannon, thank you for being willing to share with us today. AromaCulture readers, I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Rhiannon a bit!

Much love,
Erin

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