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Helping those in need who serve our aromatic community

nepal oilsKailash Dixit is a chemical engineer and a distiller. After 15 years as an alcohol distiller, Kailash took some time off to explore his country, Nepal and its biodiversity. He realized that the work he was doing was contributing unhealthy products to the poor people in Nepal. This changed his mind about his work and how he was contributing to society. In his words, “As a result of this sadness, I wanted to make the most out of Nepal’s natural resources that the world could benefit from. I wanted to work in an environment that is peaceful, invigorating and full of camaraderie. I quit my job because I wanted do something more rewarding to the country, to the people and to myself using my skills in distillation and my background as a chemical engineer. I established an essential oil manufacturing distillery in 2004. I fell in love with the work that I am doing today. I realized my passion and my passion became my business. I am a proud essential oil manufacturer and a distributor from Nepal.”

Establishing a cooperative to support the community                             In 2004, he founded Aarya Aroma with three major objectives: 1) to cultivate essential oil-bearing plants, 2) to process essential oils, and 3) to provide the marketing and sales of essential oils on the international market. He leased more land (divided between 19 farmers) and installed more distillation units. This became the birth of a cooperative. “We also initiated collection of wild harvested herbs for distillation in partnership with the community forest user groups. We ensured buy-back guarantee of the raw material and the essential oils produced by the cooperative, locally owned enterprise and community forest user groups.”

The work of the cooperative supports the local community and helps the international community by providing the pure essential oils. Nepal has approximately 700 species of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) and 80% of the population depends on agriculture.

Devastating earthquakes                                                                               On April 25 and May 26, 2015 massive earthquakes hit Nepal and took more than 10, 000 lnepal rubbleives and internally displaced more than six million people. Kailash, once again motivated to help his people, went to the mountains to help the earthquake victims. With some financial funding, he visited the Wintergreen harvesting/collection area (2400-2800m) and stayed in the remote village for five days distributing some relief goods. He witnessed the destruction of 100% of the houses there. Aarya Aroma are currently in the planning phase to help the herb farmers/collectors in the remote mountains to re-build and relocate. Relocation is a bit tricky, as the mountain soil has been loosened and when the Monsoon (rainy) season begins, huge landslides are predicted.

A 10-point plan to relocate and rebuild a sustainable community                                                                                                        Aarya Aroma has devised a nepal land purchaseddevelopment and implementation strategy to help these people who grow and harvest Wintergreen. They have already purchased land from previous private donations from friends in the aromatic/herb community, but there is much more to be done.

1. In the area where Wintergreen is grown and harvested, 25% people are well off and have already taken initiative to rebuild their homes on their own expense. They aim to help the poorest of the poor who live on their daily wages (less than $5.00/day USD).

2.With the help of the international community, they plan to rebuild community homes (approximately 500-600 square feet), mostly using the debris. We will be using the same stones that got crumbled from the same house, carefully paying much attention to the structural safety. We will also be using the same windows and doors. They estimate is 50% of windows and doors need to be replaced.

3. They are not trying to rebuild fancy homes, the structure and their way of living will be very similar, but somewhat improvised. The estimated cost for each house is $6000 USD. It is very hard for the villagers to accept the sudden move from where their families have been living for centuries in harmony with their neighbors, so the people will only be relocated within a 1-1.5 km radius (approximately a walking distance of 10-15 minutes to reach their farm).

4. They aim to make the model community housing as sustainable as possible using their natural resources. An example is to construct micro-hydro power plant, costing $4000-$5000 USD and would provide lights for 15-20 homes.

5. They plan to build a community bio gas plant using human feces and urine; if inadequate they could also use cattle dung. This can provide an alternative source of cooking fuel six months without having to chop down trees for firewood.

6. People in this locality literally do not take shower because of the cold. For health reasons they will build a common bathing place for the families. The water will be heated using solar energy (one for males and another for females-separated by a common wall).

7. There will be a playground for children. In mountains there is no playground for kids.

8. Work has already begun on the model community housing and shared with one of the best advertising companies of Nepal. They are creating a 5 minute presentation to share about the project and the need for funding.

9. Their plan is to support the people 80% financially. The families will pay the remaining 20%, so as not to take things for granted and to have some pride in responsibility and ownership.

10. To appeal to the donor community.

Concerns regarding donations                                                                     There is concern that any donations will be delayed in reaching the areas that need it and the government may be incapable of spending the money appropriately. There is not yet a local government. Aarya Aroma aims to do this work as good citizens and provide a model for the to emulate. Likewise the donor community needs to be equally transparent on how they spend the money while being most economical in whatever endeavor we take so that the money will reach to the neediest families.

On a personal note                                                                                       I’ve met Kailash personally.  He is a warm and wonderful human being who greats everyone with open arms.  He is humble, modest and without ego in his endeavors. His work with Aarya Aroma started and continues to be in service to the local community. By providing work to these areas of Nepal, Aarya Aroma stimulates the local economy as well as the international community. In a time when so many oils are adulterated to meet the demands of the larger cosmetic and perfume corporations, Aarya Aroma is dedicated to providing pure essential oils to the practitioner.

A gift for them, a gift for you!                                                                   The International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy, International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy, the Aromahead Institute, and the Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy.  A private donation site is currently being set up for you to donate. Please contact the IJPHA if you wish to donate to support the efforts of Kailash and Aarya Aroma in helping the people in this community in Nepal.

As a thank you for your donation, you will receive a free audio file of Kailash Dixit’s presentation from the Botanica2014 conference in Dublin, Ireland from Rhiannon Lewis.

Two_little_girls_of_NepalWon’t you help?               Here’s how…

Mollie Jensen has set up a Crowdrise account to collect donations.

https://www.crowdrise.com/rebuildavillageinnepal/fundraiser/molliejensen

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Frankincense Oil and Boswellic Acid

Frankincense tree_BrangdonJRecently, I was made aware of a report from an analytical testing lab comparing the levels of boswellic acid in frankincense oil samples from two popular resellers of essential oils and aromatherapy products. The report immediately caught my eye for two reasons, first because of my love and experience with analysis of frankincense oils from many different regions, and second because of my curiosity about the relevance of boswellic acid in such a product as a steam distilled essential oil.  The whole notion seemed very curious to me because of what I knew to be true about the structure of boswellic acid.

For those less familiar with this recently popular compound in the health and wellness industry, boswellic acid is an oxygenated triterpene which occurs naturally in frankincense resin in two structural isomeric forms namely alpha and beta with the structures:

boswellic acid

The molecular formula for boswellic acid is C30H48O3 and the two isomers differ only by the position of a methyl group.  What immediately would cause any essential oil chemist to raise his eyebrow upon seeing such a claim of a triterpenoid molecules in a steam distilled essential oil is the fact that these compounds have a very high molecular weight at 456.7 and are non-volatile solids in their pure form, thus one would not expect it possible to be in a steam distilled product.  Typically the largest class of molecules occurring (and rarely so) in essential oils are diterpenoid in nature and the observed threshold weight for components that can be obtained by steam distillation is in the low 300 range.   For example, one of the heaviest components one sees in essential oils is the oxygenated  diterpenoid called sclareol (normally found in clary sage at a fraction of a percent under normal steam distillation conditions), which has the molecular formula C20H36O2, molecular weight of  308.5 and the structure below: 

sclareol

Given this observed upper weight limit of essential oil components being maxed out in the diterpenoid range, one would predict that finding non-volatile triterpenoid molecules in a steam distilled product would be an incredible finding worthy of substantial attention in literature, however no such reports could be found.  Furthermore, upon closer examination of the lab report making the claims (see report below), one finds that the determination of boswellic acids in the frankincense was determined by HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography).   HPLC is a method used for the analysis of non-volatile components dissolved in solution because these components will not elute on a column by GC (Gas Chromatography) methods.  Steam distilled essential oils are necessarily composed of volatile organic molecules because it is their volatility that allows them to be distilled in the first place.  For this reason, the chosen method of analysis for steam distilled essential oil components is Gas Chromatography, not Liquid Chromatography, and all known steam distilled essential oil components are detectable by Gas Chromatographic methods.  But our experiments with reference samples of boswellic acid did not detect any trace of said components by GC when attempts were made to analyze dissolved solutions of the pure component, even when the GC run was maxed out at 260 degrees Centigrade and a total run time of 140 minutes (normal GC run times are 30 to 60 minutes).  This is very strong evidence that obtaining boswellic acid in an essential oil by steam distillation would a physical impossibility even at percentages of only a fraction of a percent.  But even if one optimistically hoped it would be possible to get trace amounts of triterpenoids by steam distillation it would certainly be out of the question to hope for any significant concentration.  As shown in the report, the total triterpenoid level (in the form of boswellic acids plus acetyl and keto derivatives) for samples #1 and #2 were shown to be 11.5 and 81.5 grams per milliliter.  This corresponds to 1.15% and 8.15% respectively.   Needless to say that this finding is highly suspect, given the extreme rarity of their smaller cousins, i.e. the oxygenated diterpenoids which have molecular weights that are roughly 150 units smaller.

boswellic acid gc

In summary, if the report claiming high levels of the triterpenoid boswellic acid in steam distilled frankincense oil is analytically accurate, then one would necessarily come to  one of two conclusions:  1. the samples were not really steam or hydro distilled but from an extracted product, or 2. samples were adulterated with boswellic acid from another source. It is my professional opinion as an essential oil chemist that the presence of boswellic acids, despite their potential therapeutic value, are not appropriate markers of quality for pure steam distillate of frankincense resin, in fact, quite the contrary.  Ironically, the MLM rep who was attempting to use the report to make his product look superior only succeeded in making himself look uneducated and his competitor’s oil look to be the more authentic!

As appeared in the IJPHA Winter 2012 Issue (Vol 1, Issue 3)

Written by Dr. Robert Pappas

Image Courtesy of Brangdon J/Flickr

For more information or to subscribe, visit the IJPHA website at www.ijpha.com

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Help create future issues of the IJPHA

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The International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA) is a peer-reviewed professional journal dedicated to providing the professional holistic practitioner with useful information and resources to enhance their practice and expand their “toolbox.”

We need your input for future issues. Would you please take a few moments to complete our survey.  Your responses will help to shape future issues of the IJPHA.

Click here to take the survey

Our objective                                                                                                                           

The IJPHA aims to provide the reader with informative articles highlighting the practical application of essential oils and to  provide a showcase for practitioner case studies. 

Each quarterly issue contains articles and/or tips on how to build and maintain a thriving successful business; recipes utilizing essential oils in cooking, therapeutic blends, and/or personal care products; and news and current information on issues relevant to the field of aromatherapy and holistic health care.

The professional holistic aromatherapist assesses the client’s needs physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Addressing the clients needs goes beyond the use of essential oils alone and may include herbs, homeopathic remedies, flower essences, supplements and advice on nutrition, exercise and techniques for improved relaxation to address the client’s body, mind and spirit.  When necessary, a practitioner may make recommendations to a client to seek complementary care from another provider or to seek advice from an integrative practitioner.  The IJPHA strives to provide information and resources with regard to integrative and complementary healthcare methods, as well as additional “tools” for the professional holistic aromatherapist.

Click here to take the survey.

Thank you for your time!

Lora Cantele, Publisher/Editor IJPHA