Body butters are so simple to make and that's what I'll be teaching at the end of February. So today, I made enough 2oz body butter giveaways to make sure everyone gets one. I used Mango, Cocoa and Coconut butters and added essential oils of Lavender, Sweet Orange and Vanilla CO2. If it makes any sense, it smells like a Dreamsicle tastes. Absolutely delicious.
I'm preparing for my second semester of teaching how-to classes at CSN. The first one is "Creating Herbal Tinctures" and I'm giving them a glycerin tincture with Astragalus, Dandelion and Echinacea for a winter immunity boost. I prepare the same thing in both apple cider vinegar and alcohol so they can taste the differences with different menstruums and the same herbs. They also get hand-outs of different herbs they can use therapeutically, a blending worksheet so they have a record of what they make, a list of useful books, a page of recipes and a detailed instruction sheet on how to make a tincture. Fun class.
I've always loved a good challenge. I have recently been named the Nevada Representative for the Alliance of International Aromatherapists. I accessed the site to see who the members were in the state and there are a total of 3 of us! What do you do with that? I contacted both members to see what they'd like from the organization and how we could grow the state membership. I got some great suggestions and hope to start holding some local classes to introduce aromatherapy lovers to the science and art of this wonderful profession and explore how they can get involved (and join the organization). My first worry was talking to people who may not know anything at all about essential oils and yet suggest they join an organization that's all about the oils. However, we just happen to have a membership category for those who support the organization and know they can begin their own exploration through our teleconferences, bi-annual conferences and library of books and reputable schools. I hope to make a difference. If you're reading this and you live in Nevada, feel free to get in touch if you'd like to know more.
Several years ago, I sent a couple of class proposals to CSN (College of Southern Nevada) but waited too late to submit them. I never followed up, thinking the preparation alone would take too much time. However, they contacted me recently to see if I would be interested in teaching those classes. I met with them last week and it looks like I might teach a series of 2-hour classes on "how to make" stuff - herbal teas, tinctures, body balms, salves and body scrubs. It still looks like an awful lot of preparatory work but I remember what fun it was discovering I could make my own products and I hope it works out because I'd love to teach these classes.
It's an interesting thing to be an aromatherapist in the clinical field. I've become accustomed to snide comments, disbelief and condescension. But I also see some light here and there from those who are willing to listen to the facts of essential oils' possibilities and realize I'm not trying to reinvent medicine. Those are the ones who see that there is a place for something beside pharmaceuticals in managing symptoms. Unfortunately, there are also the "learned" clinicians who believe that unless a doctor has chosen to study something, it must be useless. Surely if it had any value it would've been studied by a doctor or the pharmaceutical industry, right?
Here's where I have a problem: If you clearly have no idea about the subject, then you might want to reconsider judging it and send it on to someone who does. Case in point? I wrote an article for a peer-reviewed nursing magazine on aromatherapy and discussed the effectiveness of essential oils and how we know they work. Clearly my learned, anonymous reviewer thought the whole idea absurd, but the one thing he/she said that made me laugh out loud was in response to a cited study on the use of essential oils for MRSA. He/she wrote that "this sounds more like the use of essential oils than aromatherapy." Oddly, that was the one comment that made me feel okay about the rejection of the article. How can you not laugh at an expert who lacks expertise?
Many of us have read the warning letters the FDA sent to DoTerra and Young Living Oils regarding their claims from reps and on their web sites. I'm no fan of either company because I think they give sketchy information to their reps and do things like make up marketing verbiage that they're aware is untrue but that their reps will use as gospel, and all, in my opinion, solely to make money. However, I also have a problem with the FDA throwing the baby out with the bath water. Yes, I think their claims that their oils can cure Ebola are outrageous and damaging to the aromatherapy community, but I also think they're correct to post things like - Tea Tree is a good antifungal because yes, it is. So many of the properties of essential oils have been pretty decently proven through aromatogram disc diffusion and other lab tests that it's really frustrating to never be able to say these things or risk getting shut down by the FDA. Okay, so according to the FDA, these claims make them potential drugs; I get it. No reputable aromatherapist wants people like the ones espousing essential oils as a cure for Ebola to be out there selling things. But there's a middle ground somewhere between bogus and truthful that hasn't been explored. Just as there are bad aromatherapists with false claims, there are medical professionals selling and using (and/or prescribing) drugs for unintended purposes. What about the damage that causes?
I also know that not many (hell, probably not any) aromatherapist can afford the millions of dollars it takes to go through the FDA approval process. Surely there's some sort of better way to figure things out so that qualified aromatherapists can use essential oils in their therapeutic capacities without risk of losing everything. Even though hundreds or thousands of pharmaceuticals go through their rigorous testing process and are put out on the market with a laundry list of side effects, they're still sold and sometimes used indiscriminately. Where's the logic in that? I can't see that the expensive testing resulted in a safer produt.
If I could get myself elected to one of the FDA's advisory committees, I'd fill out their application. It would be an uphill battle, but at least our voices would be heard. Maybe it's actually the rules governing what constitutes a drug and how that's determined that need to be revised, not the language on a label or the claim on a web site. There really is middle ground and it needs to be looked at. Wish I had the answer.
My body has felt ever so slightly out of balance for about a week - increased phlegm, stomach a little "off" - so I decided to make myself a tea to ward off any possible internal virus that might be brewing and to quell any inflammation that might be causing everything. I threw together Chamomile for the inflammation and because I like its taste, Spearmint for its flavor and its cold and flu inhibiting properties and Nettle, which just seems to be good for a number of issues. I threw in some Stevia for sweetness and then made up two teabags which I drank during the day. Seems to have worked. I probably could've come up with a better, more focused blend but those were the things that caught my fancy as I was about to run out the door for work.
Next up is a blend for retinal vein occlusion. I had several incidents going back about 6 years now, but I haven't forgotten them - mainly because one of the doctor's with whom I worked decided I needed to go get my eyes checked immediately and when the eye doctor found nothing, his best guess was either heart or brain. Trust me, that's enough to scare you to death. I went for a brain scan, heart test and while I was there, they checked out my carotid arteries. Everything was fine and no one ever figured out what the issue was but the article I read on retinal vein occlusion sounded spot on. I figure a few rounds now and then of a nice herbal blend might help so I'll put together my Bilberry and Dong quai and some new ones mentioned in the article that I haven't worked with before: Chrysanthemum flowers, Red Sage and Tienchi ginseng.
If you live in Vegas, I'm going to be on the Fall schedule at Community College of Nevada to teach two courses, twice each: one on creating herbal teas and one on making body balms. In the tea course, the students will explore the properties, benefits and flavors of 20 different herbs and discuss how to combine them. They'll leave with info on 40-50 different herbs and two sample teas. For the body balms, the students will leave with a basic understanding of butters, fixed oils and essential oils, will create (on paper) two recipes of their own and take a sample body balm with them. These will probably be in September and October but the dates haven't been finalized yet.
As for my kitty from the last blog post - he got follow up blood tests today and all kidney and blood values have improved. He's eating well and playing so I'm hopeful that I might have him around for awhile.
For those of you who had a chance to read the newsletter with the Restless Leg Syndrome study, here's the first follow-up. I gave Stephanie a 4oz jar of crème containing a 1% dilution of Rosewood, chosen because of the study Robert Tisserand found that said it appeared the chemical component "linalool" in lavender might positively affect RLS. So I made three different cremes, labeling them only as A, B and C and asked her to use A for a week. I chose Rosewood because it has an unusually high content of linalool. Her report? "That first one you gave me? The one labeled A? Absolutely nothing." So things have gotten really interesting. You'd think that one would be a big help, wouldn't you? She's now using the one labeled C and it's the original blend that works for her but minus the Peppermint. I'll keep you posted.
Since I asked Cindy Black to be one of my analysts on the "unexpected reaction" reports that I feel certain will start pouring in any day now, I thought it was only fair I listen in to her free webinar on Spring Qi. I have to admit that I didn't expect to get much out of it but found it quite fascinating. Enough so that I registered for her four-week course on the 5 elements that starts this Tuesday. You can still sign up at Meridian Massage Institute (www.meridianmassageinstitute.com). It's only $149 for the 4 weeks and there's an informative and fun facebook page set up for students where she posts questions to ponder. I would love to figure out a way to marry my essential oils, herbs and Chinese studies into one practice but that will take some time and thought. I've even looked into a four-year course on Tibetan medicine or Chinese medicine but, really? Who has $17,000 a year? I'd need some serious financing for that. So for now, I'll take Cindy's course and study on my own and see how far I get.
One advantage of working in hospice is that I get to play with all the therapy dogs. This is Asher, a Corgi.