Safflower in the Aromatic Garden

Posted on: September 18th, 2017 by
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The rosette-like bud of Safflower: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

The rosette-like bud of Safflower: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Last week’s post looked at an introduction to safflower oil and how it is used in aromatherapy practice. In the second post of the current trilogy, we are taking a quick look at how safflower is useful in the aromatic garden. Safflower was a new plant to me in Georgie’s Garden this year, but I found it to be easy to grow and it produced some beautiful orange blooms.

Description of Safflower as a Plant

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), like borage, doesn’t actually have an aroma. However, it is used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy and it does have medicinal uses in herbal medicine. It is not a tall plant and, when planted next to taller plants like sunflower (which I did this year in the aromatic garden), you may miss it. Therefore, I would advise planting it in a mix of smaller herbal plants such as oregano, basil, and mint.

Its unique feature is its orange, thistle-like flowers, which emerge from a rosette shaped bud. Plant a few safflower plants together for the full, visual effect. The flowers do not last long and the seeds form about four weeks after flowering has ended.1 Seeds contain about 30 to 45% of oil1, which is extracted via cold expression to produce safflower oil.

I would advise getting “up close and personal” with safflower to truly appreciate its botanical features, as part of an aromatic garden. A botanical profile of safflower was discussed in the first post of this series.

How to Grow Safflower

Safflower is an annual plant, meaning that it will bloom once and it will need to be replanted the following year. If you let it go to seed, like any plant, there is the possibility it will grow again from the new seeds produced, although conditions would have to be right for it to grow successfully. I would advise sowing new seeds in the spring, after the average last frost for your area, to produce plants in the places that you wish them to grow.

Safflower is traditionally considered an oilseed crop, but it is also used as a cover crop by farmers (and gardeners) for the benefits listed below.

Safflower as a Cover Crop

Safflower has a number of great benefits for the aromatic gardener as a cover crop. A cover crop essentially protects and enriches the soil for the benefit of the next plant crop. If you aren’t harvesting this plant for its oil or seeds, consider the following benefits of safflower as a cover crop:

  • a deep taproot which breaks down hard soil, and encourages air and water movement. The taproots of safflower can also reach nutrients in the soil that other plants’ roots fail to reach.2

  • resistant to root lesion nematodes.2

  • low pest presence in the garden and attracts beneficial pollinators and insects such as lacewings and spiders.2

Permaculture with Safflower

Permaculture draws on the natural world to design a holistic “health care” system for the garden to create and sustain food and resources in harmony with its environment. A simple example is that of organic gardening.3 Safflower has a place as a permaculture worker in the garden.

Safflower is a good biomass crop4 which means that it may help to supply nitrogen to the soil, add organic matter to the soil, or help to surpress weeds in the garden. The roots of the safflower (as mentioned above) are the key to this plant’s permaculture benefits.

Safflower Benefits in Herbalism

Safflower has the following uses in herbalism, if you harvest it from your aromatic garden for this purpose:

  • promotes menstruation

  • useful for amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea

  • invigorates the blood and it is useful in many blood-related disorders.5

Consult a certified herbalist for dosage and methods of application for safflower in herbalism.

Learn More About Safflower as a Carrier Oil in Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about carrier oils such as safflower, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM home study program!

References:

  1. Purdue University website, Alternative Field Crops Manual: Safflower, accessed from: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/safflower.html

  2. Green Cover Seed website, Safflower, accessed from: https://www.greencoverseed.com/product/1074/

  3. Deep Green Permaculture website, What is Permaculture?, accessed from: https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/permaculture/

  4. Toby Hemenway website, A Permaculture Guide to Choosing Cover Crops, accessed from: http://tobyhemenway.com/1285-permaculture-cover-crops/

  5. Mdidea website, Functions and Clinical Uses of Safflower, accessed from:https://www.mdidea.com/products/new/new01503.html

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry and a UK-certified aromatherapist. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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An Introduction to Safflower Oil

Posted on: September 11th, 2017 by
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Safflower in Georgie's Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Safflower in Georgie's Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is not one of the most well known medicinal plants in the aromatic garden, nor is the oil one of the most popular for aromatherapy practice. However, this year I decided to grow safflower in Georgie’s Garden, here at the Sedona Aromatics School, to learn more about this plant and how it can be used in the practice of aromatherapy. Here’s part one of a new trilogy on safflower!

Profile of the Plant Safflower

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is a member of the Asteraceae plant family, and therefore you should know that it is related to the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). It is an annual plant with orange to yellow flowers that almost resemble those of the thistle plant. Plant height varies between one to five foot.

It gains its common English name from “saffron flower” and its botanical name is a derivative nod to its use in dye coloring: Tinctorius.1

Safflower has traditionally been grown as an oilseed crop (particularly in the Great Plains region of the United States)2, although it has other uses as well.

Chemical Components of Safflower Oil

Safflower oil is extracted from cold expression of the seeds. Safflower produces an oil which is either high in monosaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid).2 Check with your supplier as to the chemical content of the oil you intend to purchase. Other components of safflower oil may include:

  • palmitic acid

  • stearic acid

  • palmitoleic acid

  • linolenic acid (trace).

Traditional Uses and Modern Day Use of Safflower

As mentioned above, safflower (both the flower head and the seed) was used as a plant dye for both paint and cosmetics. Safflower contains safflomin and carthamine which produces a red vegetable dye.1

The dye was also used for clothes and food.2

Safflower oil high in linoleic acid may contain upto 75% of this one component.2 It is considered the “superior” oil for aromatherapy use. It is useful for conditions such as eczema, and dry, cracked skin. Safflower oil high in oleic acid is primarily used for culinary purposes or as an industrial oil.

Safflower oil is one of the more expensive carrier oils in aromatherapy practice (although not as pricey as borage oil) but it can be combined with an oil such as sunflower to maximize the therapeutic and emollient benefits of each oil.

Learn More About Carrier Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn how to use carrier oils in aromatherapy blends, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.

References:

  1. Price, Len, 1999, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, UK: Riverhead Publishing

  2. Purdue University website, Alternative Field Crops Manual: Safflower, accessed from: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/safflower.html

  •  Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry and a UK-certified aromatherapist. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.
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An Aromatic Chocolate-Themed Garden

Posted on: September 4th, 2017 by
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Chocolate Sunflower for the Aromatic Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Chocolate Sunflower for the Aromatic Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

An aromatic garden encourages the flow of creativity, both in terms of scent, and in color. For example, you can create a theme of citrus, floral, fruity and – as described in this article, chocolate – which incorporates both the actual aromas that we are familiar with in aromatherapy, and the color of chocolate.

When you create an aromatic garden, it is a little bit like painting a picture and/or designing a custom perfume. As an aromatherapist, I always want to incorporate healing qualities of plants, but the garden allows me to go beyond those aromas, and notes, you find in aromatic blends. It allows me to express more creativity and, in my mind, results in greater healing. Combine color and aroma with the plants suggested in this article, and create your very own chocolate-themed (aromatic) garden!

The Original Chocolate Aroma

Chocolate is made from the extract of the cacao (Theobroma cacao) tree but it is not very likely that many of us have the ability to grow a cacao tree in our aromatic garden, unless we live in central or south America. However, it is useful to know a little bit about this plant. The cacao tree is a tropical, evergreen tree with small, yellow flowers and brown fruits (which contain the cocoa beans). Cocoa is extracted from the seeds (cocoa beans). The cocoa beans are fermented, washed, dried, hulled and roasted before cocoa butter is finally hot expressed in the form of a solid fat. The fat is brittle and it has a warm, chocolate aroma; it is used as cocoa butter in aromatherapy and bath and body products.

An absolute and CO2 extract are also made from the extract of the cacao tree.

Fragrant Chocolate Flowers for an Aromatic Garden

If you are looking primarily for a chocolate scent to waft through your aromatic garden, there are several chocolate flower species that can oblige. Some species of flowers do emit scents that resemble the fragrance of true chocolate; examples of chocolate fragrant flowers include:

  • chocolate cosmos

  • chocolate flower

  • chocolate geranium

  • chocolate soldiers columbine.

You may have to rub the leaves/flowers of the plant to release the chocolate aroma, but it is a quick and easy action, if you are craving the aroma of chocolate.

Edible Chocolate Flowers for an Aromatic Garden

There are some species of chocolate flowers that are edible, too. Some are in common usage and practice today. Others, such as the chocolate lily, have been used in ethnobotany, for centuries. Common edible chocolate flowers that also add some chocolate color to the garden include:

  • chocolate nasturtium

  • frosted chocolate viola

  • chocolate mint

  • chocolate calendula.

Add a couple of chocolate mint leaves to your tea or coffee, or add viola flowers to a dessert.

Using the Aromatic Garden for Chocolate Inspiration

I often use my aromatic garden for inspiration when creating a custom blend for a client. A five minute walk in the garden can help to stimulate ideas for a particular theme for a blend, or suggest a slightly different aroma to combine with the blend.

For example, if I was creating a chocolate blend with cacao CO2 extract, I might combine it with mint. There are different varieties of mint growing in the aromatic garden (spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, chocolate mint) which might suggest to me which direction I wanted to take that aromatic blend.

Think of your aromatic garden as an extension of your work as an aromatherapist or perfumist, and you might be surprised at what you end up creating!

Finally, don’t forget about color in the aromatic garden. There are now many versions of common species with different color palettes than those which we are used to; for example, the traditionally yellow-colored sunflower is now available in colors of bronze (chocolate) and red, a beautiful addition to a late summer garden.

Learn More About Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about aromatherapy, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program or one of the Sedona Aromatherapie aromatic garden retreats/workshops coming in 2018!

References:

  • The recommendations expressed in this article are based on the author’s 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry, as a UK-certified aromatherapist, as a published author in aromatherapy, as an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), as an aromatherapy business owner, as a consultant, as Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal, and as an aromatic gardener.

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Aromatic Blends with Sunflower Oil

Posted on: August 28th, 2017 by
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Aromatic Blends with Sunflower: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Aromatic Blends with Sunflower: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

In the final article of the sunflower trilogy, we are looking at some easy aromatic blends to create with sunflower oil. As sunflower oil is a light oil, it can be generally used on its own, in bath and beauty products, or as a base to create other types of oils. Here are a couple of aromatic blends to get you started in the use of sunflower oil!

Sunflower Massage Oil for Tummy Upsets for Baby

I believe thant sunflower (Helanthius annuus) oil should be a basic carrier oil for everyone to have around for baby! It is light and easy to apply, and not too “greasy.” It is also good for moisturizing and softening baby’s skin. However, I would recommend using it on babies six months and older, or until you are confident with using oils, because any type of oil causes the skin to become slippery, and you need to make sure that you have baby in a secure and safe place before applying it.

You will need:

  • 1 oz sunflower (Helanthius annuus) oil

  • 1 drop mandarin (Citrus reticulata) essential oil

Instructions for Use:

  • Combine the sunflower oil and mandarin essential oil together in a 1 oz PET bottle with a flip cap. Apply a small amount to the palm of your hand and massage into baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction. The addition of mandarin essential oil helps to calm children with digestive issues.

Cautions:

  • Possibly phototoxic. Do not apply prior to going out into sunlight or before exposure to any other form of ultraviolet light.

Sunflower Body Oil

Sunflower oil can be used as a body oil to soften and moisturize the skin after bathing. Add a combination of your favorite essential oils at a 2% dilution rate (for a normal, healthy adult). The following blend is an example but you can switch out the essential oils to those of your choosing:

  • 4 oz sunflower (Helanthius annuus) oil

  • 15 drops palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii) essential oil

  • 9 drops geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil

  • 12 drops amyris (Amyris balsamifera) essential oil

Directions for Use:

  • Combine the sunflower oil and the essential oils together in a 4 oz PET bottle with a flip cap. Avoid using a glass bottle if you intend to store in the bathroom. Apply a small amount to the palm of your hand and massage over the body after bathing.

Sunflower Oil Infusion Blends

Sunflower oil is often used as a “base” oil for infused oils such as St John’s wort (Hypericum perfortum), calendula (Calendula officinalis), carrot (Daucus carota), lime blossom (Tilia cordata), and practically any type of plant that you wish to infuse from the aromatic garden! The reason that sunflower oil is such a good base for infused oils is because it is light, inobstrusive (and often overlooked as a carrier oil for this reason), and it has no aroma. It readily absorbs the infused plant material added to it.

Simply add your plant material to sunflower oil and allow it to infuse by following the instructions in this article.

Once you have successfully created your infused oil, you can add appropriate essential oils to it (or combine with other carrier oils) for specific conditions.

Learn More About Using Carrier Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn how to use carrier oils further, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.

References:

  • The recommendations expressed in this article are based on the author’s 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry, as a UK-certified aromatherapist, as a published author in aromatherapy, as an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), as an aromatherapy business owner, as a consultant, and as Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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Sedona Aromatherapie Graduate Interview: Joanne Klauber

Posted on: August 23rd, 2017 by
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Joanne Klauber, Sedona Aromatherapie Graduate: Photos Used with Permission

Joanne Klauber, Sedona Aromatherapie Graduate: Photos Used with Permission

It’s been a while since we caught up with any of the Sedona Aromatherapie graduates, but I thought that it was only right to introduce you to recent aromatherapy graduate Joanne Klauber, as she has taken on the role of one of the moderators in the new Sedona Aromatics School and Garden Facebook group.

Joanne graduated from the Certificate in Professional Aromatherapy course in June 2017, and completed the course in an impressive six months! However, this should come as no surprise as Joanne is not one to sit around, as this interview reveals!

  • What (or who) inspired you to begin your journey into aromatherapy?

I had been interested in essential oils for a number of years. I signed up under an MLM company, but was uncomfortable recommending essential oils when I didn’t really have an adequate understanding of their power and how to use them safely. I researched aromatherapy certification courses recommended by NAHA, and finally settled (happily) with Sedona Aromatherapie. I became a Certified Professional Aromatherapist in early June, 2017. Later the same month I successfully completed the Caddy Profiles chemistry course, also through Sedona Aromatherapie. I’m a professional member of both NAHA and AIA.

  • In addition to your aromatherapy skills, tell us a little bit about your background and other talents?

My work history is varied… including that as a legal secretary (when they were still called secretaries!), a performance tech at a nuclear plant, and a systems analyst. My longest ‘stint’ has been working for myself, manufacturing fragrance lamp oil and fragrance lamps in a business I began in 2004 and sold in 2014. That’s when I first became interested in essential oils, which I purchased directly from industry expert Dr. Robert Pappas. These days, besides my aromatherapy interests and jewelry design, I oversee the production, packaging and shipping for the family candy business that my mother-in-law began in 1962. She is 97 years old and still comes to the office many days! My husband and I live in the country with our nine furkids, most of which are rescues (including a three-legged AmStaff and a one-eyed Catahoula).

  • Do you think that taking a course in aromatherapy has helped you better promote yourself/succeed in the aromatherapy business? If so, how/why?

Definitely so! Completing this course has given me the confidence to speak knowledgeably to others regarding the safe use of essential oils. The case studies I performed have taught me the importance of gathering a thorough client history and asking additional questions, as necessary, to paint a complete picture of my client’s health and habits. All the details are important!

  • Since completing your aromatherapy course, where has your aromatherapy journey taken you?

I’ve found a happy combination in aromatherapy and handmade jewelry, by crafting aromatherapy bracelets that include stock or custom blends. I’m currently creating chakra bracelets and blends, and plan to work on some seasonal designs as well. I’m fortunate to be able to feature my work in the retail portion of the candy shop, and I also have a website.

  • What advice do you have for other aspiring aromatherapy students who may be considering an aromatherapy course?

Probably my biggest take-away from taking the certification course is that there is so much more to learn. Aromatherapy education is a fascinating journey! The skills and confidence you will gain from becoming certified are priceless, and this is just the beginning. Keep learning!

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Sunflower in the Aromatic Garden

Posted on: August 21st, 2017 by
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Sunflowers are available in a variety of colors for the aromatic garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Sunflowers are available in a variety of colors for the aromatic garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Last week’s post looked at an introduction to sunflower oil and how it is used in aromatherapy practice. In the second post of the current trilogy, we are taking a quick look at how sunflower is useful in the aromatic garden. This is a plant which is easy to grow for beginners, directly from seed, in the right climate. It also has some perceived benefits with regard to permaculture and phytoremediation.

Description of Sunflower as a Plant

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is hard to miss in any garden. The sunflower dazzles you with its large, yellow head, and its tall, erect stalk. Other varieties, in colors such as bronze and red, are now popping up and are just as stunning in appearance.

You may think that sunflowers aren’t aromatic plants and, technically, you would be right when compared to traditional aromatics such as rose (Rosa x damascena) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). However, the leaves of the sunflower do have an aroma to them and can be distilled into a rare essential oil, as discussed in the first post of this trilogy. It is one of my favorite, subtle aromas in the garden, especially after rainfall.

The sunflower has a rare ability to direct its head towards the sun. Some people say that the sunflower does not follow the path of the sun throughout the day but I have witnessed it doing so in my own garden. In fact, Helen Keller had this to note about the sunflower:

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It is what sunflowers do.”1

A botanical profile of sunflower was discussed in the first post of this trilogy.

How to Grow Sunflower

Sunflower is an annual plant but, if the seedheads are left through the end of the season, it will self-seed the following year. You may also find the sunflower popping up in unexpected places, as its seed is carried by birds and other critters around the garden. I have sunflowers which have self-seeded in garden pots (alongside the original plants), hanging baskets, and in the middle of a gravel pathway. I never pull them and allow them to “bloom where planted” so it makes for an interesting sight around the garden!

Sunflower can be grown from direct sowing the seed in your garden in the spring, after the last frost has passed. Sunflowers require a lot of water and sunshine to thrive. Even self-sowers will not survive without a steady water supply and several hours of sunshine a day. Sunflowers will bloom from summer through Fall, depending upon your climate and season.

Sunflower is just as happy to stand alone, with members of its own tribe, or as a beneficial companion plant and/or pest repellent. Personally, apart from the self-sowers, I think that sunflower does best in groupings.

Sunflower as a Companion Plant and as a Pollinator-friendly Plant

Sunflowers can be grown as companion plants. Their tall, sturdy stems provide shade for other plants – especially those in the vegetable garden that wilt in too much sun (such as lettuce) – and they attract bees for pollination, of both themselves and other plants.

Permaculture and Phytoremediation with Sunflower

Permaculture draws on the natural world to design a holistic “health care” system for the garden to create and sustain food and resources in harmony with its environment. A simple example is that of organic gardening.2 Sunflower is considered a permaculture worker in the garden because of its perceived ability to be beneficial in the process of phytoremediation.

Phytoremediation is the removal of harmful toxins from the soil with the use of living green plants.3 The sunflower will draw up the harmful ingredients into its leaves, stalk and flowerhead, making harmful soil (such as that filled with lead) usable. However, sunflowers used in this way should not be eaten or harvested but disposed of in safe way.4

Sunflowers, like other plants, possess various chemical components to deter predators. In the case of sunflower, sesquiterpene lactones found in the anther of the plant prevent sunflower moth larvae from feeding on the plant.5 However, this same chemical component can deter other plants from flourishing in the sunflower’s vicinity – great news for supressing weeds, but not so good for companion plants. Personally, I have not experienced this phenomon in my garden, despite the sunflower’s reputation as an allelopathic plant. However, not all plants are deterred by the sunflower’s defenses and can bloom quite happily alongside it.6

Harvesting Sunflowers from the Garden for Medicinal Uses

The first post in this trilogy looked at the use of sunflower as an oil, but sunflowers grown in the garden can be use for other medicinal purposes, too.

Both the leaves and the seeds can be tinctured and infused for various purposes including coughs and colds, respiratory problems and inflammatory conditions.7

Learn More About Sunflower as a Carrier Oil in Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about carrier oils such as sunflower, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM home study program!

References:

  1. Farmers’ Almanac Website, Sunflowers to the Rescue!, accessed from: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2012/06/11/sunflowers-to-the-rescue/

  2. Deep Green Permaculture website, What is Permaculture?, accessed from: https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/permaculture/

  3. United Nations Environment Programme website, Phytoremediation: An Environmentally Sound Technology for Pollution Prevention, Control and Redmediation, accessed from: http://www.unep.or.jp/Ietc/Publications/Freshwater/FMS2/1.asp

  4. The McGraw-Hill Companies Website, Phytoremediation: Using Plants to Heal Soil, accessed from: http://www.mhhe.com/biosci/pae/botany/botany_map/articles/article_10.html

  5. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry website, Feeding and toxic effects of floral sesquiterpene lactones, diterpenes, and phenolics from sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) on western corn rootworm, Mullin Christopher A, et al., accessed from: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00012a041?journalCode=jafcau

  6. Penn Live website, Are sunflower shells toxic to plants?, accessed from: http://www.pennlive.com/gardening/2013/06/are_sunflower_shells_toxic_to.html

  7. A Modern Herbal website, Sunflower, accessed from: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sunfl100.html

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry and a UK-certified aromatherapist. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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