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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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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