Tag Archives: Aromatherapy

The AIA Aims to Shed Light on Growing Concerns Regarding Essential Oils

A recent market report indicates favorable shifts in consumer demand and market expansion have helped the Essential Oil Manufacturing industry thrive in the current five-year period (IBIS World, 2016).

Market share concentration in this industry is low; no company accounts for more than 5.0% of industry revenue in 2016. Furthermore, IBIS World estimates that the top four players account for less than 10.0% of revenue in 2016. The level of concentration has been slowly rising over the past five years as network marketing companies continue to establish their brand names and thereby increase their market share. Although market share concentration has been slightly rising over the past five years, the level of concentration is expected to remain low over the long-term. A moderate level of barriers to entry will allow new companies to enter the market to take advantage of the rising revenue over the next five years.  The report’s analysts forecast the global essential oil market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.26% during the period 2016-2020.

With the increase an increase in the demand for essential oils, we are seeing more adulteration in essential oils-even in those that are relatively abundant and easily produced. What does this mean for authentic practitioners of Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine?

With the theme, Out of the Bottle and Into the Garden: Traditional Herbalism to Aromatic Medicine, the Alliance of International Aromatherapists International Conference aims to explore the use of various plant preparations while emphasizing the importance of the plants from which we obtain our precious oils. Lectures will feature experts from around the world discussing sustainability, ethics and professionalism while growing your business. The importance of how essential oil demand  is impacting the availability of our oils will be highlighted with attention to other types of plant medicine that can be used to provide complementary care in practice.

With the growing interest in Aromatic Medicine and questions regarding our ability to practice Aromatic Medicine and specific protocols that incorporate internal use of oils, we will feature two special lectures on Aromatic Medicine and protecting your business from government intrusion.

This August the Alliance of International Aromatherapists, in partnership with the Rutgers University Plant Biology Department (New Brunswick, NJ), will bring together 300-400 of the world’s top Aromatherapy leaders, practitioners, educators, research scientists, integrative health practitioners and entrepreneurs. Business development, thought-provoking content and endless networking opportunities are tied together by engaging and inspiring speakers, trade exhibits, and pre-conference workshops, and social events about the future of the Aromatic plant community, innovation, marketing, communication and imagination.

Registration is open and information about the schedule, speakers, pre-conference workshops, hotel and transportation are all online at www.aromatherapyconference.com.

 

Advancing Clinical Aromatherapy Education in Women’s Health

pam-conradPam Conrad Discusses Her New Evidence-Based Program

Interview by Leslie Moldenauer CHNC, HHP, Cert. Aroma

Pam Conrad, PGd, BSN, RN, CCAP, earned her Bachelor of Science Nursing degree from Purdue University and has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. Pam completed R J Buckle and Associates 18-month Clinical Aromatherapy course for healthcare professionals in 2000. Pam’s focus in Aromatherapy has always been integrative; combining time-honored nursing and clinical Aromatherapy.

Upon completion of Dr. Buckle’s course, her family moved to England for two years where she studied advanced Aromatherapy with nurses and midwives, and completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Complementary Studies at the University of Westminster Graduate School of Integrated Health, in London. This is where Pam met Denise Tiran and Ethel Burns–two of her mentors–who both specialize in Aromatherapy and pregnancy/childbirth and postpartum. Pam became Ms. Tiran’s first international intern and was able to learn first-hand how to integrate complementary Aromatherapy alongside her traditional practice.

In 2008, Pam taught a group of 12 obstetrics (OB) nurses evidence-based clinical Aromatherapy and developed the first hospital OB Aromatherapy program in the United States (Burns et al., 2000 and 2007).  Since that time, multiple hospitals in Indiana (and now Santiago, Chile) have completed this course and developed clinical programs.

Pam currently has the only evidenced-based women’s health/ maternity/clinical Aromatherapy course in the United States that is approved by the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA).

LM: Pam, let’s talk a bit more about your evidence-based program being taught here in America. This is a substantial advancement for the industry. What makes your course unique? What is your course offering to potential students?

PC: Historically, the class has been nurses and nurse midwives. The program has recently extended to teach certified doulas as well as certified Aromatherapists. The International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy will be hosting the first class that includes certified Aromatherapists in February 2017.

The course is focused on labor, childbirth and postpartum. As new clinical evidence emerges, the course content is revised with Aromatherapy interventions for the nine months of pregnancy.

The program takes a clinical approach, which stands out from what is currently being taught in the United States. There are many factors that come into play when making a clinical decision with a patient, not just looking at the chemistry of a particular essential oil. We teach everyone how to analyze the person standing in front of them, looking at their medical history, medications, and to discern how they have responded to different therapies over the course of their lives. Some people react paradoxically to a therapy or an essential oil, this is taken into consideration as well. The clinical judgment and knowledge along with the property of the oils backed by evidence-based research is the basis of how the students are taught.

Another aspect that is covered in great detail is knowing how to decide which women are good candidates for Aromatherapy and which ones are not. We look at possible issues surrounding the neonate, so we teach what should be done for the mom with the baby as well as separate of the baby, in other words without baby present in the room.

In taking this well-rounded and evidence-based clinical approach, I believe that the program is incredibly unique, and very important to the community at large.

LM: Pregnancy and childbirth has until very recently carried with it a stigma, viewing it as a medical condition, rather than a natural and beautiful part of life. Can you talk briefly about how Aromatherapy is being used to facilitate the birthing process?

PC: Pregnancy, labor and childbirth are a beautiful and natural process for the female body. In normal healthy pregnancies, our bodies are well designed to adjust the many functions of our bodies as well as accommodate the growth and development of a fetus. Healthy nutrition, rest, and regular exercise can accomplish this task. At times women do become so uncomfortable with nausea, ingestion, stress, and aches and pains that Aromatherapy is a good choice. Occasional, very dilute and select essential oils used externally; i.e. Lemon (Citrus limon), Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia), and Red Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) have been very effective in our programs.

Unlike what seems like a popular notion, there is no need to help start the labor process. Utilizing Clary sage (Salvia sclerea) for example, is being overused with the idea that a therapist or a nurse can get labor started. This area needs to be understood more fully. If the mother is already in labor, there is no need to increase the contractions. This actually causes what is called hyper-contractions from uterine hyperstimulation (a potential complication of labor induction). This could create a risk for the mother or baby, especially if there are conditions such as cord around the babies neck, placenta previa1 or abrupto.2

The overall goal is to make the mother more comfortable. The more relaxed and comfortable she is, the more likely that natural labor is going to progress, as it should.

LM: Lavender was at one time considered an emmenagogue (uterine stimulant) and was considered contraindicated during pregnancy. In his book, Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed., Robert Tisserand dismissed this as a myth as he found no credible research to support that. Recently there has been some debate over this topic. Where do you currently stand on the issue?

PC: There have been some changes recently as far as opinions surrounding Lavender. The experts that I refer to are the clinical experts. When it comes to Aromatherapy, we all find a place to work from that we feel most comfortable, based on our own professional background. Being in the medical field for decades, I focus on the clinical experts and the evidence base, as well as our patient responses. Since beginning our program, we have collected patient data from over 1500 OB hospital interventions.

Historically, the agreement between Ethel Burns and Denise Tiran has been no topical application of Lavender until after the 24th week of pregnancy. The percentage for an acceptable essential oil during pregnancy is 0.5-1%. Once term labor begins this can be increased to 2%. This is a fraction of the dilution that you may have seen recommended often times in the industry.

In a clinical setting, when working with someone who has previous medical conditions or any other red flags; i.e. past miscarriages, in vitro fertilization (IVF),  multiples (twins, triplets,etc.) various blood lab abnormalities, high or low blood pressure, and swelling, the decision to be more conservative with Aromatherapy is recommended. For someone with no red flags, a decision may be made to use Lavender at the dilutions mentioned above before the 24-week mark. At that point, the only Lavender that would be used is Lavandula angustifolia, as ketones are a concern with other varieties of Lavender. If the soon-to-be-mother is going through such a high level of stress that it is insurmountable and puts a risk on the pregnancy and she needs help, Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) may be used.

As long as the mother is not allergic to or dislikes Lavender, it can be used throughout labor and postpartum for anxiety and pain. Red Mandarin is also very helpful for anxiety, indigestion, and nausea and is emotionally uplifting.

As a nurse for many years, the clinical perspective, patient care experience and evidence base all play a part in my practice and courses.

LM:  I would like to talk a little bit about your 2012 study conducted with Cindy Adams, “The effects of clinical Aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman.” Can you tell us a little bit about that clinical study?

The aim of the study was to determine if Aromatherapy is effective at improving anxiety and depression in women at high risk of postpartum depression. It was a study that included 28 women who were all 0-18 months postpartum. The treatment groups were randomized to either inhalation or the Aromatherapy ‘M’ Technique. The treatment consisted of 15 min sessions, twice per week for four consecutive week using a 2% blend of Rose (Rosa damascena) otto and Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). The non-randomized group avoided all Aromatherapy during this same time period. Allopathic treatment continued for all of the participants.

All subjects completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7) at the beginning of the study. The scales were then repeated at the midway point (two weeks), and at the end of all treatments (four weeks).

No significant differences were found between Aromatherapy and control groups at baseline. However, the midpoint and final scores indicated that Aromatherapy had significant improvements greater than the control group on both EPDS and GAD-7 scores. No adverse effects were reported.

The study shows that Aromatherapy is very effective and safe as a complementary therapy in both anxiety and depression with postpartum women.

LM: What do you hope to see for the future of Aromatherapy? What other areas of support for women are you hoping to target in the near future?

Where I see the greatest importance for Aromatherapy during this passage of life is during the post-partum phase and early motherhood. The ability to identify a mom who is at risk for post-partum depression (PPD) is crucial. We can work with them to using Aromatherapy and other complementary therapies to help avoid PPD. We demonstrated the empowering use of the essential oil on mothers and their children in our published pilot study (Conrad and Adams, 2012).

The time during pregnancy and labor is the perfect time to teach a woman how to properly take care of herself during the post-partum period and beyond. When we are able to work as a team, thereby giving us nine months to provide the education to the mom as a complement to their care, greatly increases their quality of life. A mom can then to go to Aromatherapy first, rather than medical treatments, after birth. The postpartum period involves the mother navigating through a myriad of changes, both emotionally and physically. Aromatic complementary therapies can be a perfect stand alone support during the postpartum period for some women. In others, when medication is indicated, it can further support the mother physically and emotionally to improve her quality of life in early motherhood.

The IJPHA is proud to present Pam’s course in Women’s Health for Aromatherapists, nurses, nurse Aromatherapists, midwives, and doulas February 4-5, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. For information about this program and to register, visit the IJPHA website at http://www.ijpha.com.

[1] Placenta previa is a problem of pregnancy in which the placenta grows in the lowest part of the womb (uterus) and covers all or part of the opening to the cervix.

[2] Placenta abrupto is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the womb (uterus) before delivery.

References

Burns E et al.. (2000). An investigation into the use of Aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 6 (2), p141-147.

Burns E, Zobbi V, Panzeri D, Oskrochi R, Regalia A. (2007). Aromatherapy in childbirth: a pilot randomised controlled trial. BJOG. 114 (7), p838-844.

Conrad P and Adams C. (2012). The effects of clinical Aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman-A pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 18 (3), 164-168.

Leslie Moldenauer has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. She is the owner of Lifeholistically.com, a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer. Leslie is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home. Leslie earned her degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at the American College of Healthcare Sciences in Portland, Oregon. She is currently earning an advanced diploma in Aromatic Medicine with Mark Webb (Australia), and has trained with Aromatherapy researcher and educator Robert Tisserand.

CO2 Extracts for Aromatherapeutic Use

 

CO2extracts

Image: naturalwisdom.co.uk

What are CO2s?

Aromatics produced via carbon dioxide extraction (CO2 extracts) have been around and in use for the past 15-20 years. While some, like German Chamomile and Calendula have become commonplace within the aromatherapy world, there are still many CO2 Extracts with little to no information available.

CO2 extracts are oils similar to distilled essential oils that can be used in Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine. They can be more subtle in fragrance and perhaps a little stronger in flavor as compared to essential oils. CO2 extracts have a different chemistry than their essential oil counterparts making them more suitable in a variety of aromatherapeutic preparations. CO2 extracts have the taste and aroma closer to that of the fresh plant, are more shelf stable and cost effective.

CO2 extracts are produced by using carbon dioxide under high pressure (solvent) to extract the aromatic compounds. Subcritical carbon dioxide processing carefully extracts only the aromatic compounds (Select CO2) while Supercritical carbon dioxide processing extracts the aromatic compounds, as well as the heavier non-volatile molecules like colors, resins and waxes (Total CO2). The process is done at low temperatures (just above room temperature) so it does not alter the extracted compounds. The process is efficient and yields little waste.

CO2 extraction technology video – YouTube © Nisgara Biotech 2014

Supercritical CO2 is used as a solvent to extract lipophilic compounds from natural herbs. These extracts are concentrated as high as 250 times as compared to the raw herb. Thus a small quantity in any product is enough, leading to cost effectiveness as compared to other products from different extraction techniques. This technology is environment friendly with minimum carbon footprint and CO2 is recycled as much as 95% in the system.

Visit http://www.nisargabiotech.com for more information.

Want to learn more?

The International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA) is hosting a 2-day seminar entitled CO2 Extracts: The How, What, When, Where and Why in Aromatic Therapies with Mark Webb, B.Sc. in Boulder, Colorado October 15-16, 2016. Participants will earn 12 CPDs (continuing professional development credits).

mark webb 2Mark Webb holds a B.Sc. Degree in Biochemistry and Plant Physiology and Biology from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He is an associate member of the International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA), and a member of the Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists (ASCC).  Mark has over a decade of experience formulating with CO2 extracts. Making him well placed to discuss their uses within the fields of cosmeceutical and aromatic therapies applications. His knowledge about how to incorporate these extracts in food and beverages for both therapeutic and non-therapeutic use enables him to provide a broad range of practical and day to day examples. If you have been curious about using CO2 extracts, this is the workshop to answer your questions

In this 2-day workshop, Mark will delve deeply into the world of CO2 Extracts, looking firstly at the production technology and how this effects the end product. He will compare and contrast a range of volatile and non-volatile, Select and Total CO2 extracts with their essential and fixed oil counterparts and oleoresins, discussing safe and effective usage within topical and internal formulations.

Learner outcomes include:

  • An overview of what CO2 extracts are & how they compare to essential and expressed oils, absolutes and oleoresins.
  • A detailed look at of how CO2 extracts are made and the differences between Select, Total, volatile and non-volatile extracts.
  • Comparing and contrasting the chemistry of CO2 extracts to other aromatics; such as essential oils.
  • Discussing the various applications of CO2 extracts across a variety of dose forms and application techniques.
  • Safe use and handling of CO2 extracts, recognizing which extracts to watch for and the importance of dilution within formulating.

Webb.4For more information about this class and to register, visit our website at http://www.ijpha.com.

 

Cancer and Essential Oils

Frankincense resinCancer is a concern that affects millions of people around the world. With such a prominent disease there are a lot of researchers working diligently to develop treatments. A treatment that has been gaining a lot of traction in the most recent years involves the use of essential oils; more specifically, the use of Frankincense (Boswellia Carterii) essential oil. Despite the links to Frankincense essential oil and the treatment of cancer, it is not a miracle cure. In world where news sources are posting misleading articles it is important to discern what is good research to determine what benefits Frankincense actually possesses.

Frankincense resin  

It is important to understand how and why Frankincense is being linked as a cancer treatment. This essential oil is produced from the Boswellia trees found in India and Africa. The cancer treating chemical in Frankincense is boswellic acid which has anti-neoplastic properties. Anti-neoplastic properties have the ability to prevent or inhibit the development of a tumor. This information is where most claims regarding Frankincense being a cure for cancer are derived. However it is important to know that Frankincense oil does not actually contain boswellic acid, as the molecule is too heavy to be volatile (Tisserand, 2016) and therefore does not come out in the distillation process. Boswellic acid can be found in Frankincense resin because the molecular weight can be supported. So far there is limited research involving Frankincense resin and cancer. While some of the results are promising there isn’t enough to conclude the resin as a treatment.

Good research              

When it comes to Frankincense research most studies are done in vitro. In vitro studies are studies conducted outside the body’s biological context in single case. This type of research isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means the research is a long way away from being a treatment. Researchers Mark Barton Frank, Qing Yang and their colleagues did a study testing Frankincense oil.This study involved a range of concentration of Frankincense oil in which the oil was able to distinguish cancerous cells from normal bladder cells (Frank and Yang, 2009). Frankincense oil was able to induce bladder cancer cell death via multiple pathways activated by the oil. The important thing to note about this study is that it states that this isn’t a cure for cancer and more research is needed. Overall the study provided good evidence that could suggest future treatments involving Frankincense.

This research article makes no claims. As stated before, Frankincense oil contains no boswellic acid, but the resin does. This study tested the oil and had results regarding cancer cell death. The researchers further explain that this study is in vitro in an attempt to explain the benefits of Frankincense oil however in vitro testing (in a petri dish) does not necessarily translate to the same or similar effect in the human body. Acknowledging that Frankincense resin has anti-tumor properties allows for further research with the oil to determine if the oil has these similar properties. A follow-up study can be done to see if the resin has a greater effect on bladder cancer cells than the oil. While this research is well done, the final results show some promise but further research needs to be done to prove Frankincense oil as a treatment.

False claims      

In the last couple of months, there has been an article floating around on various Aromatherapy groups making false claims regarding Frankincense oil. Most of the people in the (facebook) Aromatherapy groups were debating the accuracy and credibility of the article. This article made outrageous statements with regard to breast cancer. It stated that topical treatment of Frankincense oil can cure cancer, as it claimed to have cured the author’s own cancer. This is a single claim by one person and one that has not been validated by credible source. It could be true that this author had their cancer cured, but that doesn’t mean that it was cured by Frankincense oil nor does it guarantee it will work for everyone. This claim also doesn’t include any other methods or treatments the author was receiving that could have contributed to their cure. It is also important to note that since doing research and writing this blog post the article has been taken down. There are no current records of this article, and the group posts have been deleted.

If this author did cure her breast cancer that is a wonderful thing and nothing should take that away from her. The problem is suggesting that it can cure all breast cancer and it puts light on the Aromatherapy industry. Making these claims without any research can give people false hope that their cancer can be cured. The article then goes into detail making more individual cases of Frankincense curing cancer, which is nothing more than shared testimonials that have not been evaluated and validated. There is no definitive research available on the oil or resin that suggest Frankincense can cure any form of cancer. Research is being done to determine the connection between the oil or resin and treatment.

For a fun look at the reality of scientific research check out this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Rnq1NpHdmw

References  

Frank M B, Yang Q, Osban J, Azzarello J T, Saban M R, Saban R, Ashley R A, Welter J C, Fung K-M, Lin H-K. (2009). Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity. BMC Complement Altern Med. 9 (6). Published online. Available: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664784/. Last accessed 8 March 2016.

Tisserand R. (2016). Frankincense Oil and Cancer in Perspective.  Available: http://tisserandinstitute.org

Additional resources/reading

http://tisserandinstitute.org/frankincense-oil-and-cancer-in-perspective/

http://roberttisserand.com/2015/03/frankincense-essential-oil-and-cancer/

http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=15052

 

http://tisserandinstitute.org/citrus-oils-and-breast-health/

by Bryant Hernandez, Graduate in Integrative Health Technologies

Inside Agarwood and its Oils: Oudh and Boyah

By Trygve Harris

The following are some personal notes regarding the Indian trade of Ouhd and Boyah and the author’s experience in shopping for the oils.  You can read the full article in the Winter 2013 issue  (Vol. 2, Issue 3) of the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA).  For more information or to subscribe visit www.ijpha.com.

agarwood_The Green Investment Co.

                                 Agarwood trees © The Green Investment Co.

The chaos of India                                                                                         In India, when I was in the Northeast Agarwood area of Assam in 2010, the legal status of Agarwood meant that in order to be certified as “legal” and exportable, the wood and oil had to go through certain channels. This required the distilleries be in certified industrial areas of certain towns like Kanpur or Guwahati, for example. The problem with such an approach, which probably seemed like a fine idea on paper, is that Agarwood trees are grown everywhere in Assam and no one is going to send their wood away. It seems Assam (and the surrounding states) are some of Agarwood’s best terroir. So, many households grow a few trees in their yards, with the expectation that eventually the trees can be cut and sold. While these homegrown Agarwood trees are not so valuable that they need high security (like Sandalwood does) they are still valuable enough to keep close. These are small households; they don’t usually have an extra man or two who can take the time and expense to travel with the wood down to Guwahati with no guarantee that the whole scheme wouldn’t end in disaster. No one is going to send their wood away to be distilled by someone else. It would almost certainly be stolen. It’s better to have the entire family around. So if there is no neighborhood still, portable stills come around, set up in the yard, and people can accurately log their production, while distilling their wood within full view, as they go about their daily life and chores.

Unfortunately, this wood is “illegal” because, even though it is grown on private land, with the precedent of hundreds of years, and even though it will benefit the people who grow it, it hasn’t been distilled in Guwahati or any of the other Indian industrial areas whose presence is somehow deemed necessary to convey the “legal” blessing on Agarwood oil.

This scenario has been in place since 2000 and is still the law, as far as I know. The idea was originally to control the timber trade from the forests, which was probably a good idea, but the absolutely massive, unbelievably complicated and extraordinarily irritating behemoth of Indian bureaucracy sat down on top of it, asphyxiating all legal free movement of this traditional industry and even stripping the States of power regarding their own forests and industries. The central government told the thousands of small local farmers that they (the government) would have a solution “within six months” and to please “stop your industries” in the meantime. That was in 2000. So now local people were faced with the illegality of cutting down their own backyard Agarwood trees to cover their household expenses of university fees, weddings, etc. The backyard Agarwood trees were an income source that most people counted on for their entire lives and their parents before them, and so on.

As they were no longer legally allowed to cut and distill their own trees, people did what was necessary to protect themselves and went around the system. The sudden illegality of a valuable forest commodity created some unique opportunities for a few. First of all, with the government out of the picture, it was no longer possible to legally distill, sell, or export Agarwood, it was a perfect situation for someone powerful to step in and take charge of the situation, with great financial benefit as well.

A large company located in Assam that seems to have a monopoly on the Agarwood trade as they have of millions of Agarwood trees under their control and have the capability to transport the wood to the Gulf for distillation.  With hundreds of outlets across the Muslim world, most of them in the Gulf Countries, they now control the Agarwood trade from India, although there are a few other companies. The company prefers to give the perception that they are an Arabic company and most Arabs I know do think they are a local (Emirati) company based in Dubai. They certainly do give that impression, even on their new website. It doesn’t seem that they lie, exactly, as they don’t actually say where they are based. India is barely mentioned on their website, including their list of offices. I am not saying this is wrong of them, but it is interesting how well it’s done and seems like an excellent example of marketing genius.

They are based in Hojai, Assam. I have been there, seen their facilities, had lunch with them, and spoken to two of the Ajmal brothers (whose first language is Sylleti.) They have very strong and direct links to the Gulf, particularly the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. They have a research and development center as well as an office and a large religious school for boys in Hojai and have many local charitable undertakings, such as hospitals and clinics. The large facility is also well protected, with excellent security, necessary with so much Agarwood around.

Indian Boyah can be soaked for six months at a time, then distilled for three, then soaked another six, then distilled again for three. The final product for that scenario is the lowest quality possible and the end distillate comes out as foam. The margins are very small here, and the only expense is the fuel used to keep the still going.

A shopping experience                                                                           Nearly all of the Agarwood comes to the Gulf: all qualities, different grades of wood, different grades of oil, hundreds of retail perfumes, and all manner of specialty products. There are many big perfume companies in the Gulf: Ajmal (the largest), Al Hariman, Al Rasasi, Arabian Oud, Qureshi, and many, many more.

There are a few teeny tiny suppliers from India who don’t work under the Ajmal umbrella. These are producers who have their own connections relating to export customs and the companies are very small, selling tola sizes of about 11 grams. These companies sell at a very high price, probably because of their small volumes and also because they can, as they sell directly to Western companies through online forums and the like.

Like any worthy product, when a large company like Ajmal controls a market, they set the pricing, for what they buy it for, what they sell it for, and to whom. They control every aspect of it. And the small distillers, who take their stills around and/or receive local wood to distill at their own facilities, must distill to that company’s specifications and are paid according to that company’s agenda.

For example, I tried many Indian oils when I was in Assam. I was buying samples to present at the Omani Royal Court. I wanted only the best quality. I made it known who I was buying for, as well as my own small company, as I wanted to be taken seriously and not treated as a fool because of my gender and nationality. That is common and even the status quo in many places. American + woman = fool. It can work to one’s advantage but not in this case.

I settled on a distiller I liked very much, and visited with them over two days. I tried three of his oils, repeatedly. I don’t speak Hindi or Assamese and I was with someone whom I had known for years as the “Agarwood Farmers Advocate.”  The second day in the village I selected my Oudh. I was sure that between the distiller, the advocate, and my own nose, I would find excellent samples to bring back to Muscat. As the people related to Oman’s Diwan (Muslim Council of State) Agarwood procurement have sophisticated palates, excellent taste and plenty of money, any oils they liked would be ordered repeatedly in the future, and they would pay a lot for the best. We would all benefit. The Diwan, the distiller, the community, the farmers, the advocate, and me too. I didn’t worry because it was in everyone’s best interest to do the best we could. I was slathered with many oils and then stoned from the Agarwood at night; when I made my selection the next day, I simply picked the one that smelled the most sublime.

After making my purchase I drove back to the state capital of Guwahati and the next day I flew out to Kolkata and then Coimbatore to meet a friend. He is also a distiller and even though he doesn’t have much experience in Agarwood, he knows a lot about everything else and produces wonderful Vetiver  (Vetiveria zizanoides) and Nagamotha (Cyperus scariosus ) oils and I know his honesty. By the time we met, I was feeling disturbed, as I didn’t like the smells coming from my arms. It was a crude disassociated brutal smell recognizable from the Agarwood family but quite obviously not what I bought. It had a paint thinner note and a dull, nasty side note. I opened the one I bought from the distiller and smelled it and it smelled great. I couldn’t figure it out.  Finally my friend suggested we call the Agarwood distiller. The farmer said he couldn’t talk to us and to please contact the advocate/Ajmal representative. So we did.

It was explained to my friend that they (meaning all the distillers who distill under the Ajmal umbrella) have to remove the oil every three days during the distillation.  While white wood always produces Boyah, any wood will produce Boyah eventually.  Once that oil comes out in the consistency that hardens at room temperature, the oil is no longer very valuable. So great care is taken to make sure the oil is pulled off before that happens. It is distilled in fractions. Theoretically they are combined to make an oil. But when you are distilling for a large company you need a standard oil. So it’s kept in fractions and goes off to the Ajmal lab to be “processed.”

They had sold me the top fraction. Only. That’s why it smelled terrible. It was great for about an hour, but as time passed it turned sour and horrible. The body and tail were missing. The oil was decapitated! The advocate/Ajmal rep was laughing, telling my friend that they just sold me the head; who cares, and what did I know, anyway? An American lady?  It’s quite obvious I was stupid and easily dupable. My friend reminded the advocate about the oil going to the Omani Royal Court, thinking that would make a difference as Arabs know their Oudh.  The advocate promised to send the other two fractions to a friend in Mumbai who deals in Agarwood and could be trusted to receive two fractions for me in sealed bottles. But he never sent them. It was more important and exciting to bilk me out of the $200 I paid for a sample than to establish a new customer from the Palace in Muscat. It’s unfathomable behavior to me. The farmer had no say in it. A potentially great future for him and his family were vaporized. If Agarwood had been legal in India his story would have been different, but he was at the mercy of the advocate and the large company, proving why these controls are a bad idea.

The information shared is the opinion of the author based on her personal experiences and is not necessarily the opinion of the IJPHA and its associates.

Aromatic Chocolate Ganache

ganache_slobblogs Photo by: Slobblogs

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and we know what is on everyone’s mind… CHOCOLATE! What better way is there to celebrate the romantic holiday than with some Aromatic Chocolate Ganache.

Aromatic Chocolate Ganache

12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

10 oz heavy cream*

Essential oil (3-5 drops)**

*For a dairy-free version, substitute 10 oz coconut milk (not lite)

  1. Place the chocolate chips in a large bowl, set aside.
  2. Warm the cream or coconut milk in a pan until just before boiling.
  3. Add 3-5 drops of essential oil to the cream. Stir well to incorporate it. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for a few minutes to melt the chips.
  4. With a small whisk, whisk the chocolate and coconut milk into a smooth ganache. Work quickly and move the bowl around to get the chocolate that sticks to the side. The more you whisk it, the darker the color and it becomes shiny. (Tip: add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor.)

ganache_chefeddy Photo: Chefeddy

Pour the ganache over cake or ice cream.

To make chocolates for your sweetie, fill chocolate liquor toasting cups (available at most liquor stores) with the flavored ganache. Keep refrigerated.

**Experiment with flavors. Try 4 drops orange with 1 drop geranium, or 3 drops lemon with 2 drops lavender, 4 drops lime with 1 drop basil, 3-4 drops of peppermint, or 2 drops rose. Top with candied fruit peel, organic lavender buds or rose petals.

By Lora Cantele

The Benefits of a Hot Mineral Bath

A_hot_spring_bath_-tshushimaTaking a mineral bath can be very relaxing and revitalizing to the skin. Bathing in hot water not only increases your body temperature, it also increases metabolism and white blood cell count, and helps detoxification and aids sleep. The addition of mineral salts and trace elements will soften the water, draw out toxins and revitalize the skin by replacing minerals lost through detoxification. These minerals are vital as they can soothe painful joints and muscles (calcium and magnesium); calm nerve pain, soothe and tighten skin, and improve circulation in cases of arthritis (magnesium); reduce stress and relieve anxiety by lowering blood pressure (magnesium and potassium); improve muscle contraction and the proper functioning of nerve impulses (sodium and sodium chloride); soothes painful muscles (sodium chloride).

Hot baths (100-104° F), while highly therapeutic, are not for everyone and should be employed by individuals with abnormal blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorder. They are also not for children, pregnant women, elderly or obese patients and supervision is recommended.

KuroganeHot_springs_bath_紫煙

Kugane Hot Springs Bath by 紫煙

The addition of essential oils can increase the pleasure and therapeutic benefit of a hot bath. Adding the essential oils to hot water will simply cause the volatile oils to evaporate quickly. While they are not fatty oils, such as olive or grapseed oil, essential oils are somewhat oily and are not diluted by the water. They are best dispersed by adding four to six drops of essential oil to a teaspoon of milk, cream or honey and adding them into the bath water when the tub is full.

Aromatic essential oils such as Sandalwood, Vetiver, Patchouli or Lavender can help to encourage relaxation, aid sleep, and provide support for the adrenal glands. Floral aromas including Geranium, Ylang Ylang and Rose invoke a heady feeling of euphoria and comfort. Warming oils of Ginger, Black Pepper and Juniper can help to improve circulation and provide relief in cases of arthritis.

You can make your own Sea Salt bath by adding 25 drops of your favorite essential oils to two teaspoons of grapeseed oil. Be sure to mix them well. Then combine one cup each baking soda and Dead Sea salts and the essential oil blend and mix thoroughly. Store in a 16 ounce airtight jar. This makes enough for four mineral baths (1/2 cup each).

Sleep Easy Blend

9 drops Lavender essential oil                                                                                                     9 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil                                                                                   7 drops Sweet Marjoram essential oil                                                                                         2 tsp. (10 ml) Grapseed oil

1 cup (8 oz) Baking Soda                                                                                                               1 cup (8 oz) Dead Sea Salts

Blend the essential oils with the grapeseed oil. In a large non-reactive bowl combine the baking soda and Dead Sea salts. Add the essential oil blend and mix very well.  Store in a 16 ounce airtight jar or container.

Fill the bath tub with hot water. Add 1/2 cup of the prepared salts and swish around the tub to dissolve. Slip into the tub and enjoy.

Lora Cantele

Co-author of The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness