An Introduction to Sunflower Oil

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by
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Sunflowers: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Sunflowers: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

This is the first article in a trilogy of articles on sunflower.

The above image is available as a note card through the Sedona Aromatherapie website.

Sunflowers are not the first flower which you think about in an aromatic garden – although their bright, sunny disposition is not something you can easily miss. However, sunflower seeds are used to produce a carrier oil which is used in aromatherapy – and I recently discovered a rare and intriguing sunflower essential oil! Here’s more information about the different types of sunflower oil used for aromatic practice.

A Botanic Profile of Sunflower

The sunflower (Helanthus annuus) has been around for centuries. As a member of the Asteraceae plant family, a long-standing plant family, the sunflower is the epitomy of the expected characteristics of this plant family. It has a composite “flower-head” (which is actually a cluster of small flowers), alternate leaves, and a strong erect stalk (or stem). Sunflowers vary in size but some of the larger varieties can reach heights of up to fifteen feet. Sunflowers are traditionally yellow in color, but today you will find them in a variety of colors. I will discuss this more in next week’s post.

Sunflower as a Carrier Oil

The traditional use of the sunflower in aromatherapy practice is as a carrier oil. The oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant through cold pressing. Seeds will produce varying amounts of oil but they are known to produce a light, yellow oil which can be used for massage, in aromatherapy products, and in macerations with other plants.

Sunflower oil can contain a high percentage of oleic acid or linoleic acid, depending upon the type of sunflowers grown.1 Note that highly processed sunflower oil (produced at a high temperature) is not the same as cold pressed sunflower oil as it will not retain the same therapeutic properties. Highly processed sunflower oil is used as a cooking and salad dressing oil, but only the cold pressed oil is used in aromatherapy.

Sunflower as a carrier oil in aromatherapy can be used for skin care, bruises, and acne.

Sunflower as an Essential Oil

I recently discover a supplier who sells a very rare sunflower essential oil. It is described as being distilled from the seeds and flower leaves of the plant. When I received the oil it did, indeed, remind me of the aroma of sunflowers! It has a fresh, clean, green top note. I was unable to verify any therapeutic properties of this essential oil, nor find any clinical studies on it, but it is an ideal medium to add to aromatic perfumes which require this particular note. However, as it is rare (and expensive), it will be an essential oil to use with care!

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

  • 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 Evening Primrose Oil

Posted on: July 31st, 2017 by
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Evening Primrose as a Carrier Oil

Evening Primrose as a Carrier Oil

Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a member of the Onagraceae plant family. Although it is not as common as some carrier oils, such as apricot kernel (Prunus armeniaca) or jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), evening primrose oil has uses in aromatherapy as a carrier oil. Here’s a short introduction to evening primrose oil.

Botanical Profile of Evening Primrose

Evening primrose is indigenous to North America, although it was naturalized in the Mediterranean region when it was brought to Europe in 1619. Evening primrose is a versatile plant which is found growing in the desert, by the ocean, in mountain landscapes and by the river. It has yellow flowers which bloom and die within the same evening (hence its name, evening primrose), a pattern which is repeated the following evening. Evening primrose oil is extracted from the pod seeds which form when the flowers die.

Historic Use of Evening Primrose

Native American Indians used the seeds, roots and leaves of evening primrose to make various medicinal infusions, one of which was used to treat wounds. The Europeans did not commonly use evening primrose for medicinal purposes but in his book, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, Len Price cites that the English herbalist, John Parkinson (1567 – 1650), described the use of evening primrose in 1629.1

Chemical Components of Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil contains up to 25% essential fatty acids, such as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and linoleic acid (LA), making it highly unsaturated, unstable, and reactive. It is similar to borage oil, although borage oil contains a much higher percentage of GLA than evening primrose oil.

Use of Evening Primrose Oil in Aromatherapy

Externally, evening primrose oil is used in aromatherapy to treat the following conditions:

  • dry, itchy skin

  • dandruff

  • eczema

  • healing wounds

  • psoriasis

  • dermatitis

  • scars

  • anti-wrinkle cosmetic lotions.

Scientific Evidence for Use of Evening Primrose

Evening primrose oil is recommended for many problems associated with women, such as menopausal symptoms, P.M.S., breast pain, breast cancer and pregnancy related problems.2 Note that some of these recommendations are for use in capsule form for internal use and may not hold any real validation. However, evening primrose oil is often supported for use in the treatment of eczema.3 Len Price, in his book Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, cites two studies which support the use of evening primrose oil, one for eczema (Kerscher and Korting 1992) and one for psoriasis (Ferrando 1986).1

Cautions for Using Evening Primrose Oil

Most cautions associated with using evening primrose oil are for internal use; as evening primrose oil contains a high level of GLA, prolonged use of internal supplements is not recommended. Some side effects of the internal use of evening primrose oil include headache and upset stomach.

Medical opinion should be taken for possible interaction with other prescription and non-prescription drugs, in addition to conditions such as epilepsy and high blood pressure. However, in general, the external use of evening primrose oil for aromatherapy, will not cause a reaction in most people.

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

  2. University of Maryland Medical Center website, Evening Primrose Oil (EPO), accessed from: http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/evening-primrose-oil

  3. Mayo Clinic web site, Evening Primrose (Oenotheria spp.), accessed from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/evening-primrose/background/hrb-20059889

  • 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 home 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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Georgie’s Garden: A Healing Garden with Aromatics

Posted on: July 22nd, 2017 by
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George in the Sedona Aromatherapie Garden: Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

George in the Sedona Aromatherapie Garden: Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Last night, after a lengthy struggle with inflammatory bowel disease, my beloved dog, George, passed away. George was a very special soul who touched so many lives in his short time here on Earth. Although my heart is broken, I know that I was extremely honored to have shared the past eight years of my life with this beautiful boy. So, I am sharing something here which will help his memory to live on and heal others, as he helped to heal me over the years.

How Aromas Can Help Us to Heal

Aromas have a powerful way of healing. Think about some of your favorite aromas and what they remind you of. I tried so hard to hold onto George’s aroma at the end that I was constantly inhaling his fur into my nose. The only way I got some sleep after his passing was to sleep with his blanket close to my nose. Aromas can be comforting, and help us to process deep emotional issues that our logical brain has difficulty understanding.

On a scientific note, aromas are the quickest way in which essential oils used in aromatherapy connect with the brain. From the Sedona Aromatherapie Certificate in Professional Aromatherapy course, we learn that:

“The theory of olfaction, with regard to aromatherapy, can be summarized as follows:

  • Reception – the volatile molecules of an essential oil dissolve in the inner mucus lining of the nose.
  • Transmission – the molecules are detected by the cilia, protruding from the olfactory receptor cells. The olfactory receptor cells send an electrochemical message, along the nerve fiber known as an axon, to the axons of the receptor cells. The fibers of the olfactory nerves, connected to the axons of the receptor cells, travel through the roof of the nose (via the cribiform plate of the ethmoid bone) where they join the olfactory bulb. This message is chemically converted and relayed to the brain.
  • Perception – the message is received and perceived by the cerebral cortex. The olfactory area of the brain is found in the temporal lobe of the brain.

The above process occurs at lightening speed.”

Aromatic Healing Gardens

Regular readers will know that over the past two years, I have been developing aromatic healing gardens of my own. George has been a big influence in that, too! In my recent NAHA Webinar: A Healing Garden in Your Back Yard, I discussed the role of our senses in the aromatic garden, and gave ways in which George helped to demonstrate that process. George”smelled” with his tongue and I’ve never known a dog who was so stimulated by different aromas, and demonstrated it so with his tongue. He was always licking! But then, he did arrive in our home at the tender age of four months, and was immediately surrounded by the work of an aromatherapist!

He regularly patroled the garden to make sure that everything was in order and took in the scent of each new flower or herb that appeared in the garden. Unfortunately, he also had a penchant for chasing lizards, and two of my flower beds suffered greatly with doggy paws trampling and digging for lizards who used to hide from him.

Despite these adventures, my own aromatic healing gardens have helped me to both grow and connect with plants more as an aromatherapist, and to just truly take in the very healing nature of plants. My instagram feed regularly features many of these plants.

Georgie’s Garden: His Passing and Legacy

George had a way of making the Sedona Aromatherapie aromatic garden his own so it seems only fitting to rename the Sedona Aromatherapie Garden in his honor to “Georgie’s Garden.” Many friends, neighbors, and clients have walked through the garden and described it as a place of healing, without my prompting, so it is only natural to honor this, even if it has unintentionally become an extension of my business.

George passed peacefully at home, surrounded with love and many tears, but he managed one last walk in the garden with me, despite his struggle, on the morning of his passing. We sat quitely for half an hour, drinking in the garden together. It seemed to me like he was proud of this garden he had made his own, and, continuing to share the healing it has already brought, is his legacy. George was a very loving and giving soul, only wanting to please those around him, so his garden is the perfect gift to us all to honor that memory.

As I develop aromatic workshops for next year, I will share more information on Georgie’s Garden and how it will continue to heal those with suffering. Even if you can’t physically attend an in-person workshop, I will continue to share the work of the garden through instagram, and other ways, virtually.

For my beloved George,

November 24 2008 – July 21 2017,

Forever in Our Hearts.

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Aromatic Blends with Borage Oil

Posted on: July 17th, 2017 by
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Borage Oil is Used in Aromatherapy Blends: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Borage Oil is Used in Aromatherapy Blends: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

In the final post of the trilogy on borage, I am finishing up with two aromatic blends which incorporate borage oil; the third blend recipe (adaption) can be found in my book Authentic Aromatherapy. As discussed previously, borage oil isn’t usually a popular oil for use in aromatherapy, in comparison to other oils such as jojoba and sunflower, but it is a valuable addition to several types of blends. Here’s a few ideas.

Skincare Serum with Borage Oil for Mature Skin

As discussed in the first post of this trilogy, borage oil is recommended for use with wrinkles, so the following skincare serum would work well as part of a mature skin care routine. A skincare serum can be defined as many things but, in this instance, it is simply a mixture of beneficial oils for this particular skin type. No essential oils are needed for this blend; sometimes, less is really more!

You will need:

  • 1 part borage (Borago officinalis) oil

  • 1 part rosehip(Rosa rugosa) oil

  • 2 parts sweet almond (Prunis dulcis) oil

For example: For 1 oz of oil, you would mix 1/4 oz each of borage and rosehip oil, and add 1/2 oz of sweet almond oil.

Instructions for Use:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a suitable glass bottle. You may wish to use a dropper bottle for ease of application.

  • To apply: Add a small amount to hands and massage over face after washing morning and night.

Aromatherapy Blend with Borage Oil for Eczema in Children

Eczema is an inflammation of the skin which can cause severe itching, redness, flaking, scaling, or weeping. Consult your health care practitioner before using an aromatherapy blend in conjunction with eczema and any prescribed or over-the-counter medication.

The following blend is suitable for children aged 3 and up:

  • 3/4 oz calendula (Calendula officinalis) oil

  • 1/4 oz borage (borago officinalis) oil

  • 2 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

  • 1 drop bergamot (Citrus bergamia) essential oil

Instructions for Use:

  • Combine all of the ingredients together in a one ounce glass bottle and mix well.

  • To apply: Massage a small amount of the blend over the affected areas up to three times a day. If irritation occurs, stop using immediately and seek medical advice.

Cautions:

  • This blend may cause photo-sensitivity. Do not apply prior to going out in sunlight or with use in any other ultra-violet light.

Aromatherapy Creams and Lotions with Borage Oil

If you enjoy making your own creams and lotions at home, you might benefit from adding borage oil to your base recipe. A base recipe for both creams and lotions is given in my book Authentic Aromatherapy. Substitute part of the shea butter portion (in the cream recipe) with borage oil to suit your requirements. This cream would be then suitable to use for dry or mature skin as part of your daily skin care routine.

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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Borage in the Aromatic Garden

Posted on: July 10th, 2017 by
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Borage in the Aromatic Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Borage in the Aromatic Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Last week’s post looked at an introduction to borage 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 borage is useful in the aromatic garden. This is a plant which is easy to grow for beginners, directly from seed, and it has a few advantages in the garden, in addition to enjoying its beautiful blue flowers!

Description of Borage as a Plant

Borage (Borago officinalis) is perhaps not the first plant you would think of adding to your aromatic garden as it doesn’t actually have an aroma! Its use in aromatherapy is as a carrier oil, not an aromatic essential oil. However, what it lacks in aroma, borage makes up for in visual impact. It’s true – this plant is not an automatic showstopper, and you might even overlook its brillant blue, starry flowers at first due to their modest (some would say, small) size. Its large hairy leaves and stem tend to overwhelm the flowers at first glance. However, plant borage “in bulk,” and you”l be pulled in by the blue flowers, popping out at you from the mass of green leaves.

A botanical profile of borage was discussed in the first post of this series.

How to Grow Borage

Borage is described as an annual or biennial plant. However, it does self-seed, and I have found a few plants popping up in unexpected places in the garden! Depending upon your climate, and considering the date of your average last frost in spring, it’s possible to grow borage from direct sowing the seed in your garden. It needs little care and attention (although it will wilt if not watered frequently in hot weather), so pretty soon you’ll have shoots coming through the soil. Sun and water are borage’s friend, so provide enough of both, and borage will bless you with its presence in your aromatic garden!

Borage can be planted in groupings of other borage plants, alongside other herbs and aromatic plants in the garden, or as a beneficial companion plant and/or pest repellent.

Borage as a Companion Plant and as a Pest Repellent

Borage is a friend to many plants in the garden; there aren’t many plants it doesn’t get along with, but it is cited as one of the best companion plants for tomatoes, squash, and strawberries by various sources.1

What is a companion plant? A companion plant, just like a human companion, is good to have around as it provides support, growth, and/or protection. In the case of borage, borage will attract beneficial pollinators such as bees, and repel garden pests that may attack plants such as tomatoes, squash, and strawberries.

Permaculture with Borage

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 With regard to borage, the plant is an excellent permaculture worker.

Borage is reputed as adding trace minerals to the soil, thereby improving soil quality and promoting plant growth naturally, and it is a great mulcher and composter.3 It can fix the nitrogen level in the soil by storing what it absorbs from the air in its roots.4

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

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

References:

  1. LA Times website, Borage: Companion Plant for Tomatoes, Strawberries, and Squash, accessed from: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/26/news/la-lh-borage-seeds-how-to-grow-20130323

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

  3. Permaculture Research Institute website, All About Borage, accessed from: https://permaculturenews.org/2011/01/21/all-about-borage/

  4. Regenerative.com website, The Best Herbs for Composting, accessed from: https://www.regenerative.com/magazine/best-herbs-composting

  • 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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