February 26, 2016

Essential oils help with anxiety... a lot!

From time to time everyone has suffered anxiety to some degree, and its horrible! I have struggled with both very low and sad feelings, lack of motivation as well as intense anxious feelings.  It kept me home alone, saying “no” to things out of fear, and on days I couldn’t breathe and my skin felt like I had little ants crawling around inside. No fun at all!  These terrible feeling were not going to rule my life! Using essential oils was one way that I combated anxiety, in a totally safe and natural way. The beauty of essential oils is that they are natural, extracted from flowers, leaves, bark or roots of plants View full article →
February 15, 2016

cooking with essential oils...

Essential oils have been used throughout history in many cultures, for medicine, in food and for beauty purposes. EO’s are wonderful in the kitchen and with a bit of practise, some guidelines, and a creative mind, the culinary possibilities are endless. The easiest way to begin cooking with the oils, is to substitute the essential oils in recipes that call for dried herbs, spices or fruit juices.  Simply replace these ingredients with the companion essential oil. Read more...
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January 18, 2016

i have a new passport...

I have a new passport! which means I have a whole new decade of traveling to do. Its really exciting looking at all those empty pages, wondering where this world will lead me too.. What stamps will be filled in those empty pages. Travel is amazing, and wondrous for the soul. I try to travel somewhere new every year, and do an act of kindness while I'm there. But, travel can be a little taxing, so I'm always adopting healthy new travel tricks and tips along the way to make the journey a little easier. Read more...
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January 16, 2016

it's the little things...

I've always loved a good homemade gift over something bought from a store, and I tend to think most people feel this way too...  deep down I think we all can agree that our thoughts and intention goes a long, long way these days.  A handmade gift says, "hey, so i might be pretty busy but i carved out some time for you,  and I made this, because your pretty darn cool (and heaps special). I love you :). Read more...
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October 17, 2015

Essential Oils vs. Extracts

Here's a question that I'm frequently asked: "What's the difference between an essential oil and an extract?"  "If I should avoid grapefruit seed extract, should I also avoid grapefruit essential oil?"

What are Essential Oils?
The term "essential oil" has a very specific meaning. Essential oils are the concentrated volatile aromatic compounds of a plant, typically consisting of terpenes, esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides. In other words, the aromatic compounds of the plant are removed and separated to create an oil-like substance.  (Although essential oils are not technically oils, as true oils are made up of lipids.) Essential oils are typically extracted through the process of steam distillation.  Plant matter is placed in a big vat with water and boiled...the steam arises and through a system of tubes. As the steam cools, the water collects to the bottom of the tank and the essential oils arise and collect in a separate tank.  (The water that's collected is known as a hydrosol and contains trace amounts of the essential oil and other components from the plant.) The only exception to steam distillation is with citrus fruits, where the essential oil is sometimes pressed from the rind of the fruit.  (Called cold-pressing.)

What are Extracts?
There are several types of extracts.
  • Infusions
    • An infusion is made when the plant material is let to steep in water or oil for a period of time.  A water-based infusion is made just like you'd make a cup of tea--boil the water and add the herbs to steep for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.  With an oil infusion, the steeping time is much longer, from days to weeks.  
  • Tinctures
    • A tincture is an alcohol-based extract. The plant material is steeped in a solution of (usually) 50% alcohol. The plant material steeps for days to weeks to extract compounds from the plant.  
  • Glycerites
    • These are liquid extracts in glycerin.
Essential Oils that Aren't Really Essential Oils

You may see a few ingredients listed as essential oils, when in fact, they aren't truly essential oils. Take for instance vanilla.  The "essence" of vanilla is difficult to extract via steam distillation, so it's typically extracted through steeping in alcohol (most commonly) or in oil.  This is the traditional vanilla extract that you'd use in cooking.  This is the least concentrated form of vanilla extract.  But, for a more concentrated form of vanilla, there's vanilla oleoresin. (Sometimes you'll see it listed as essential oil.)
  • Oleoresin
    An oleoresin is created by taking an alcohol-based extract and evaporating out the alcohol.  You're then left with a thick resinous material that's a more concentrated form of the aromatics that the plant provides.  Two common oleoresins are vanilla and rosemary.  Vanilla oleoresin is commonly used in personal care products as a scent.  Rosemary oleoresin (also listed as rosemary extract) is used as an anti-oxidant in foods and personal care products, helping give oils a longer shelf life. (Do note that it is an anti-oxidant, not a preservative.  It will help keep oils fresh but it does not stop bacterial growth.)
  • Absolutes  
    Finally, there are absolutes. This is the most potent and concentrated form of extracts.  Absolutes are typically extracted with a solvent like hexane to create a waxy material called a concrete.  The concrete is mixed with alcohol to further extract the aromatic compounds.  Then, the alcohol is evaporated out and a highly concentrated oil known as an absolute is left behind.  Sometimes people will mistakenly list an absolute or oleoresin as an essential oil, whereas they are technically not an essential oil.  Plants that are typically extracted as absolutes instead of essential oils include vanilla, jasmine, tuberose, oak moss and mimosa.  When it comes to roses, both steam-distilled essential oil and absolutes are made.  There are actually absolutes of honey as well, that will extract the delicate fragrance notes from different types of honey.  
Fake Extracts

There are some ingredients that you'll see listed as "extracts" on a product, when they're not really an extract.
  • Japanese Honeysuckle Extract is not a true extract but a highly synthesized preservative.  
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract is not a true extract, but a quaternary ammonium compound that's also used as a preservative.   (Not to be confused with grape seed extract, which is a totally different thing, extracted from grapes, not grapefruits. Grape seed extract is a true extract.)
Vegetable/Carrier Oils

Vegetable or Carrier oils are true oils, composed of lipids (fats). These include sunflower, jojoba, safflower, almond, olive, coconut. They are either solvent, or, preferrably, cold-pressed from the seeds, nuts, or fruit of certain plants.  Some carrier oils sound like essential oils, when they are not.  For instance rosehip seed oil is not an essential oil but a vegetable carrier oil.  After the rose has blossomed and created a rose "hip", inside this hip are hundreds of tiny little seeds.  These seeds are taken and pressed to create rosehip seed oil.  It doesn't smell like roses, but has a nutty, seed-like aroma.  Red raspberry seed oil is also commonly confused. It is pressed from the raspberry seeds and while it does have a mild raspberry aroma (somewhat like raspberry leaf tea) it is not an essential oil and is used for moisturizing properties, not for scent or aromatherapy.  
June 30, 2015

Meditating with EO's

It is an ancient tradition to use Eo’s to ground, uplift and focus in spiritual practise. Eo’s have been used for purification, religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes for the mind, body and soul for centuries. People have been smudging, anointing, and inhaling scents from the beginning of time.

Churches waft the smell of frankincense and myrrh for a reason. Buddhist use sandalwood to transform one's desires and maintain a person's alertness while in meditation. Hindu utilise Eo’s to raise energetic frequency and open the third eye to bring us in touch with our consciousness.
Science 101 - Eo’s combined with meditation.


When we inhale an EO, it has a positive effect on our brain and is directly connected to our limbic system (ancient part of the brain), in particular our hypothalamus. The limbic brain is the part that takes us back to a time or memory. As you make a batch of pumpkin soup... does the loving aromas remind you of your grandma’s kitchen as a child? That’s a limbic moment.


The hypothalamus is a part of the limbic system and its function is to keep the human body in a stable emotional and physical condition. If you smell an EO that has a vibrationally calming effect on the body, the hypothalamus creates neurochemicals to relax and calm. If you smell an EO with a frequency to stimulate the body, then the limbic system will bring oxygen to the brain which can increase alertness and focus. Basically your sense of smell is closely linked to your emotional centre.


Certain aromas have long been recognized to remind meditators of their Divine Purpose, and to bring calm, relax, focus and alertness at the same time. Many spiritual masters will use scent to link a memory and enhance a response for a meditating experience. Mixing different oils to stimulate different emotions can be an interesting too. It’s fun to play with blending oils for meditation, because each different blend will stimulate the limbic system and the hypothalamus in a different way, creating a very unique meditation each time.


The next time you meditate, try inhaling an essential oil before you begin and notice any changes that come to your practice. After you have found an oil that you enjoy, use it regularly until you have the scent firmly associated with meditation. You will find that merely getting a whiff of the smell will quiet your mind and put you in a meditative frame of mind.


Proper use of essential oils during meditation can enhance the experience by grounding you and promoting a sense of calm. Essential oils like Vetiver, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, and Patchouli are considered grounding. Other oils like Clary Sage, Lavender and Roman Chamomile act as natural sedatives and can enhance the relaxed state of meditation. Oils like Helichrysum and Frankincense are said to enhance enlightenment and a spiritual connection with the divine.

June 29, 2015

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