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Feb 142014
 

"Why do bulls and horses turn up their nostrils when excited by love?" Darwin ponderedWhere_is_the_love deep in one of his unpublished notebooks.  Scientists long ago documented a rich array of animal pheromones, everything from seal, fox and civet, various rodents, boars, beavers, musk deer . . . even the effluence discharged by whales.  Discovering biochemical bouquets for attracting mates as well as marking territory and used for defense, as is the case with the noble skunk.  And, we took them as our own for exotic and sought after perfumes, not putting much thought into human scent, assuming our unique evolution and poor sense of smell lends to the idea that unique olfactory-challenged, sight-oriented hairless bipeds would be the species that conquers the Earth.  Hah! 

I don’t doubt that many of my readers here, like myself, dismiss the notion that we humans are bereft of scent-driven socializing.  That just because early scientists in autopsy couldn’t find the same hardware in humans, those two little pits, the VNO (vomeronasal organ) in each nostril, we had been left out of the savory realm of scent.  So, our olfactory prowess was dismissed and discarded, those early analysts  nodding their heads in agreement that humans simply did not rely on scent to any appreciable degree . . . and even physiologists declaring in the 1930’s that humans lacked the brain apparatus necessary to process VNO signals.  So, even if we had a VNO, the thinking was our brains wouldn’t be able to interpret its signals.

So it goes, the scientific dogma for most of the previous century that humans do not rely on scent to any appreciable degree.  I’m here to report that reports of our olfactory devolution have been greatly exaggerated!  And, it will come as no surprise to readers here that physiologists did discover a functioning vomeronasal organ inside the human nose. Using microscopes unavailable to early nasal explorers, discovering pits lined with receptor cells that fire like mad when presented with certain substances.  And probably less surprising that the discovery was prompted by a venture capitalist searching to cash in on manufactured human pheromones.  Tom Tykwer’s 2006 movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, featuring Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s dark quest for the ultimate perfume ingredient and its exquisite period sets could have us fantasizing a clever 17th century feminine entrepreneur doing a brisk business selling handkerchiefs scented with her body odor.  Or, who knows, perhaps it is the next olfactory market evolution yet to come.

Getting back to smelling each other and our pleasure therein, it appears we are also profoundly equipped with attraction-beckoning pleasant odor-producing capability . . . human sweat, urine, saliva, breast milk, skin oils, breath and sexual secretions all contain scent-communicating chemical compounds.  Zoologist Michael Stoddart, author of The Scented Ape, points out that humans possessThe Lovers denser skin concentrations of scent glands than almost any other mammal.  We have long believed that humans don’t pay much attention to the fragrant or the rancid in their day-to-day lives.  Part of the confusion resides in the fact that not all smells register in our conscious minds and that they are rejected when we don’t want to think about them anymore.  In studying aromatherapy, we learn that our conscious mind can refuse to acknowledge the presence of odor, especially after prolonged periods of smelling it.  We are, therefore, advised to  diffuse in time periods according to other protocols and parameters not related to actively and consciously detecting the aromatic blend being diffused.

As we study and learn more about DNA, there is a segment called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), codes which function as the immune system’s eyes for recognition.  This recognition triggers the immune system’s teeth – the killer T cells – who then swarm the intruders. Studies in mice have proven that females choose by evaluating males’ MHC profiles and choose those most dissimilar to their own to avoid inbreeding.  It was during early studies involving humans that we discovered we were capable of discerning small differences in the immune systems of mice. This led to further tests in which women rated men’s body odor and sexiness . . . exactly like mice do.  We much prefer men with scents that vary the most from our own. 

Although, even that is complicated in that there are still anomalies to the general rule of choice yet to be definitely ascertained. Doctors have known since the mid-1980s that couples suffering repeated spontaneous abortions tend to share more MHC similarities than couples who carry to term. And, if we don’t also know and accept same sex attraction by now, we might remain in those dark, dank ages.  Those who might be offended by the notion that animal senses play a role in their attraction to a partner need not worry. As the role of smell in human affairs yields to understanding, we see not that we are less human but that our tastes and emotions are far more complex and sophisticated than anyone ever imagined.

Perfume_Bottle_AntiqueWhile this ramble may give you something interesting you may not previously know, on this Valentines Day, you’re probably more interested in a simple bottle of perfume, rose-scented tea and the ever-beloved chocolate delight.  Just remember, if you haven’t developed an awareness yet, while you are nibbling on that lover’s ear, to sniff a bit . . . and judge for yourself whether he/she is the one. 

Love and Smelly Kisses,
Marcia

Jul 012013
 

LB Patch 1366x408

Lemon Balm, Balm mint, Blue balm, Garden balm, Honey plant, Sweet balm – these are all common names for Melissa officinalis, an aromatic plant in the mint (Lamiaceae) family having a long history as a delightful garden plant and medicinal aromatic herb.  As far back as the Middle Ages, Lemon Balm was recognized as a calming herb that would reduce stress and anxiety.  It was used to ease the discomfort of indigestion (including gas and bloating as well as colic).  Even before the Middle Ages, it is reported in ancient herbals to lift spirits, help heal wounds and treat insect bites and stings.  Native to Europe, Lemon Balm grows all over the world . . . in gardens to attract bees, in commercial crops for medicine and cosmetics, and even furniture polish.  The plant will mound into 3+ foot clumps; it is one of the easiest plants to grow and if left unattended will become invasive.  Leaves are deeply wrinkled, ranging in color from dark green to yellowish green.  Rubbing the leaves between your fingers releases the aromatic essential oil which smells tart and sweetly of lemons.  If left unpruned the plant will flower; clusters of light yellow flowers grow where the leaves meet the stem.  The plant will self seed and propagate profusely from the roots. 

Here at Samara Botane, starting with one organic plant, we now have about 18-20 large shrubs.  Leaves will be harvested by shearing with scissors throughout the summer, approximately every 4-6 weeks.  We will then distill leaves for hydrosol; macerate in organic coconut and olive oil for balms and salves; tincture in organic alcohol and vinegar for a variety of topical applications and household products, and we will dry leaves for teas andlemon-balm-1 525x394 bath herbs.  Fresh leaves will also find their way into culinary applications in syrups and jellies, and even as a flavoring for homemade ice cream.  I’ve been sharing a number of Lemon Balm recipes on our facebook page which you can find by following this link where we will be sharing Lemon Balm recipes throughout the rest of summer. 

Modern research has determined that Lemon Balm’s mild sedative (anxiolytic) effects are attributed to its ability to inhibit GABA transaminase due to its rosmarinic acid content. [1]   Lemon Balm has been shown to improve mood and mental performance, involving muscarinic and nicotinic acetycholine receptors [2] and positive results have been achieved in a small clinical trial involving Alzheimer patients with mild to moderate symptoms [3] due to the high acetylcholinesterase and butyrycholinesterase co-inhibitory activities, as well as its rosmarinic acid content. [4]  Melissa officinalis exhibits antithyrotropic activity, inhibiting TSH from attaching to TSH receptors, hence making it of possible use in the treatment of Graves’ disease or hyperthroidism, according to a mention in the scientific journal Endocrinology. [5] 

Lemon Balm leaves contain plant chemicals called terpenes, which play at least some role in the herb’s relaxing and antiviral effects, as well as tannins, which may be responsible for many of the herb’s antiviral effects. Lemon Balm also contains eugenol, which calms muscle spasms, numbs tissues, and kills certain bacteria.

In another double blind, placebo controlled study, 18 healthy volunteers received 2 separate single doses of a standardized lemon balm extract (300 mg and 600 mg) or placebo for 7 days. The 600 mg dose of lemon balm increased mood and significantly increased calmness and alertness.  Caution:  Using Lemon Balm as a sedative may interact with prescribed sedative medications (CNS depressants), causing extreme drowsiness or sleepiness. If you are taking thyroid regulating medication, ask your healthcare provider before using it extensively.  It is not clear whether Lemon Balm may interact with antiretroviral agents, but it is best to avoid Lemon Balm if you are taking medication for HIV. 

Unfortunately, Melissa essential oil enjoys the reputation of being probably one of t11069_melissa_250he most frequently adulterated essential oils.  A pure, undiluted or unadulterated Melissa officinalis essential oil is difficult to source.  There is very little essential oil in the plant and it takes a large quantity of plant material to produce a small amount of the essential oil.  For this reason, what we will find in the broader marketplace is usually inferior quality essential oil that has been co-distilled or recombined with Lemon oil, Citronella, Lemongrass and other ‘lemon’ smelling essential oils.  At Samara Botane, we have a limited quantity of high quality essential oil from England available for sale, but you will see by the price that is is rare and precious and quite costly.  We also have limited quantities of CO2 and absolute. 

For a tea, steep 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of the chopped dried herb (use more if fresh) in 1 cup hot (just under boiling) water.  Drink up to 4 times a day.  A stronger tea can be added to a warm/hot bath for a delightfully relaxing and rejuvenating home spa experience.  Lemon Balm hydrosol can also be added to a regenerating bath or spritzed on skin after a shower.

In Europe, the local name for Lemon Balm is “heart’s delight” and some of you may remember a French perfume of the late 1030’s named Coeur-Joie, which translates from the French to ‘heart’s delight’.  Coeur-Joie had a fresh Melissa topnote with faint floral undertones.  A traditional floral water using Lemon Balm as its basis, said to have been invented in 1611 by Carmelite monks was used as a perfume and toilet water, and was also taken internally as a cordial.  Many versions of Eau de Melisse des Carmes have developed over the years.  You will find one version, including several variations, on the Samara Botane facebook page later this week.  Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter.  We will be featuring a very good discount on all Lemon Balm products during the month of July and the coupon code will be in the ads in the newsletter.

There are many aspects to cover about Lemon Balm, I’ll revisit Lemon Balm again in the future. 

 

[1] Kennedy, D. O.; Little, W; Scholey, AB (2004). "Attenuation of Laboratory-Induced Stress in Humans After Acute Administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm)". Psychosomatic Medicine 66 (4): 607–13.doi:10.1097/01.psy.0000132877.72833.71.PMID 15272110.
Awad, Rosalie; Muhammad, Asim; Durst, Tony; Trudeau, Vance L.; Arnason, John T. (2009). "Bioassay-guided fractionation of lemon balm (Melissa officinalisL.) using anin vitromeasure of GABA transaminase activity". Phytotherapy Research 23 (8): 1075–81.doi:10.1002/ptr.2712. PMID 19165747.
[2] Kennedy, D O; Wake, G; Savelev, S; Tildesley, N T J; Perry, E K; Wesnes, K A; Scholey, A B (2003). "Modulation of Mood and Cognitive Performance Following Acute Administration of Single Doses of Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm) with Human CNS Nicotinic and Muscarinic Receptor-Binding Properties".Neuropsychopharmacology 28 (10): 1871–81. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1300230. PMID 12888775.
[3]Akhondzadeh, S (2003). "Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 74: 863–6.doi:10.1136/jnnp.74.7.863. PMC 1738567.PMID 12810768.
[4]Chaiyana W., Okonogi S."Inhibition of cholinesterase by essential oil from food plant". Phytomedicine. 19 (8-9) (pp 836-839), 2012.
[5]Auf’mkolk, M.; Ingbar, J. C.; Kubota, K.; Amir, S. M.; Ingbar, S. H. (1985). "Extracts and Auto-Oxidized Constituents of Certain Plants Inhibit the Receptor-Binding and the Biological Activity of Graves’ Immunoglobulins". Endocrinology 116 (5): 1687–93.doi:10.1210/endo-116-5-1687. PMID 2985357.

 Posted by at 7:40 pm
Jul 072011
 

Dia de los Muertos3The so called “Safe Cosmetics Act” has been rolled out again, with even more attendant shock and awe PR from the misguided zealots at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics using misinformation on  Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.  If one were to rate the importance of this bill . . . what with a fragile economy in slow recovery, an unemployment rate stuck at over 9%, entire states in disarray (WI) or in near-complete shutdown (MN),  so many environmental catastrophes (Exxon-Mobil/Yellowstone River Spill) or near catastrophes (Las Alamos National Laboratory Site Fire), (Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant Missouri River Flood) . . . it logically would be of low priority. To me, there appears to be so much more urgency to address myriad larger problems facing the Nation, I sometimes feel like Atlas with that giant granite weight crushing any hope that used to glimmer that our elected leaders are going to stop their partisan bickering and get on with the business of governing and helping remedy the continuing effects of a massive economic recession.  I put the importance of HR 2359 at about a –minus –minus –minus ridiculous number.  I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer our lawmakers to be focusing their time and efforts on some of these macro issues desperately in need of their attention.  You know, like making sure our kids can go to school 5 days a week instead of the 3 or 4 now having to be imposed because of necessary budget cuts in many states.  Hello!  That’s surely going to help regain academic status in the world, isn’t it, and perhaps not possibly lose an entire generation to ignorance?  And you can be damned sure my colleagues and I have more important things to do than weed through a poorly written bill, obviously crafted by those with little or no knowledge in the multiple scientific disciplines necessary to understand the minutia of cosmetic formulation, and especially pertaining to essential oils and natural plant extracts – the very ingredients consumers most want in their natural personal care products.

Samara Botane/Nature Intelligence opposes Safe Cosmetic Act 2011 (HR 2359).  

As much as I and many other colleagues in the personal care, spa, herbal, natural perfume and aromatherapy industries may wish it weren’t so, we are once again faced with having to raise our small voices to defend the integrity of our professional pursuits to bring safe, effective personal care products into the marketplace . . . to avoid unnecessary, sometimes impossible regulations that are not going to make cosmetics any safer than they are now and only raise consumer prices because of the additional money, time and effort to comply.  

Never mind that, when this bill was first introduced in 2010,  we have previously pointed out that lead has not purposefully been added to lipstick by unscrupulous manufacturers gleefully twirling their mustaches, and that it naturally occurs as an element of the Earth’s surface and is in EVERYTHING in microscopic amounts, especially natural botanical ingredients.  It is in your water.  How many times must one state a FACT before it is understood and accepted?  This is still one of CFSC’s major talking points.  It has grown to epic proportions and wends its way into many lists of toxins to avoid, such as Green America’s 9 Toxins to Avoid in Personal Care Products, a document not referenced nor annotated with any scientific substantiation.  Those inclined to do more research on this matter would quickly find “Easily Led” a comprehensive thorough investigation of the claim (now urban legend), ending with the caveat, “The bottom line is that U.S. medical literature has yet to record a single case of anyone’s coming down with lead poisoning through lipstick use.” Of course, the CFSC has  trotted out “Lead in Lipstick” in an attempt to overstate the danger  in a desperate, somewhat hysterical hue and cry that microscopic levels of lead in lipstick at the highest tested 0.00000306 are of sufficient danger to browbeat our legislative representatives once again to put forth a bill that will never make its way through the process to become law, as it is now written.  All of this frenzied PR hype (rolled out by CFSC before the bill was even publicly announced) cannot counter “A Perspective on the Safety of Cosmetic Products: A Position Paper of The American Council on Science and Health”.   Nor can it counter the response from the Personal Care Products Council in 2010, nor their current response.  If you’d like pleasantly-presented, factual, scientific based information on cosmetic safety, PCPC has produced this series of short videos for the consumer. You can search this site for a specific ingredient or browse by product category. If you are looking for an easily-searched, more scientific database, try Toxipedia, where you will find no alarming leading questions like “Are you sure about your lotion?” or untrue statements like “Most sunscreens aren’t safe.” such as are found on EWG’s Skin Deep.  You will also not be subjected to a ineffective numerical rating system for product hazard, just scientific research and facts, no opinion . . . how refreshing.

Never mind that we have carefully critiqued and debunked Annie Leonard’s cleverly crafted propaganda video “The Story of Cosmetics” as the supreme shock and awe scare tactic hype it is.  Oh, but it’s cute, and cute appears to trump rational fact and common sense these days.  The sad thing is that the frenzied imagery of a masked assembly line worker purposefully inserting poison (international skull and cross bones = SCARY) into a cosmetic container, followed by the same skull and crossbones ruthlessly stamped on a baby (even more SCARY) in the bathtub does not seem to invigorate the critical thinking necessary to separate fact from overblown fiction.  And, this fictional video seems to incite, rather than inform those not capable of critically assessing information by comparing with credible reference and countering  professional opinion. How sad.

Examine the current FDA Authority Over Cosmetics and you will see it is comprehensive.  It is true that there are issues of concern to be addressed.  I believe the FDA will continue to do due diligence to insure the safety of cosmetic products.  I believe that the industry will be more than willing to assist this effort and comply with reasonable regulations.  HR 2359 is not the answer.  At this time when we have so many stressful  problems facing us, let us focus on what is urgent and necessary.

Please join me in opposing HR 2359 by signing the petition.

 Posted by at 4:10 pm
Jan 062011
 

Samara Botane has embraced a number of changes to lower our carbon footprint and hold to our commitment of stewardship and ecology. You can see the progress we’ve made here, including eco-policies we have put into place in the last several years.

christmas tree2One of the small things we do personally each year has been to steam distill the twigs/needles from our Christmas tree.  This gives us healthful aromatic products that serve us throughout the coming year, extending the precious benefits of the tree.  How easily Westerners quickly discard their  trees, perhaps with no realization of the years of growth and energy Nature has invested on our behalf.  I hope you will consider exploring the additional uses and benefits, beyond the magical decoration for the holiday season, and save some of those branches to make delightful and healthful products for yourself and your family.  This year, we will again be distilling the gorgeous Noble Fir that blessed our family this season and offering the hydrosol for sale after it has rested for a few weeks and passes scrutiny.  I decided to look for other ideas to share, in order to savor our Christmas trees, long after the season.

Firs, Pines and Spruces are the most preferred Conifers for use in aromatherapy, and in most culinary applications.  In this blogpost, I focus on Fir which includes Abies procera (Noble Fir) pictured,  Abies grandis (Grand Fir),  Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir), and Abies alba (White Fir).  Olfactory attributes as described in perfumery for Firs are: strongly balsamic, slightly fatty-oily reminiscent of a pine forest and fruity-balsamic undertones.  There are subtle olfactory nuances for each species. Chefs, like Rene Redzepi of Copenhagen describe Fir in culinary terms as  having a pungent, citrusy flavor with green-minty backnotes.

If you do not have distillation equipment, you can make a simple aromatic herbal infusion by simmering the chopped needles (ratio: equal parts fresh water to needles, but make sure needles are covered completely by water)  in a covered pot on the stove for 10-20 minutes, reduce heat and let cool in tightly covered pot to avoid loss of aromatic oils.  Your infusion can be used to make simple herbal syrup of medium thickness (add equal parts of your infusion and organic sugar, bring to a boil stirring frequently, reduce heat and simmer until candy thermometer reaches at least 185 degrees, but no hotter than 220 degrees.  You want to ensure the sugar is completely dissolved, but mixture does not turn to candy.  Allow the syrup to cool gradually and do not refrigerate until entirely cool.

You can glaze a sponge cake for an unusual dessert sure to delight guests, or use this pungent syrup for a tasty fish or mussels dish to top rice.  Native Americans often prepared fish wrapped in Pine needles, cooked over an open fire.  You can grind needles with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder dedicated to herbs and mix with other savory herbs, salts and peppers for a tasty mixture for soups and stews.  Experiment and share your favorite ideas back with us!

The infusion, as well as the ground botanical, can be added to a bath along with sea salts and a few drops of Fir essential oil for a reviving soak.  You can make an aromatic spray for your home or car with the infusion, again adding a few drops of the essential oil for strength.  The dried botanical is also a lovely incense, burned on charcoal.

herbal syrups 402x229I made a few herbal syrups towards the end of the growing season.  They were great gifts for friends and family.  These include Spearmint, Orange, Lavender and Rugosa Rose.  All but the Orange were from my garden.  Pictured at right, they are made with organic sugar, with no added color, but strengthened with a few drops of the requisite essential oil.  We are offering one of each as a bonus to our Facebook group members – the first four to submit orders of $100 or more with the Coupon Code will receive a 5-oz. bottle, randomly chosen.  You can join the Samara Botane Facebook Group here to get details.   Take a look at other aromatic offerings at our website here.

We will be holding another Treasure Hunt in the coming months, and watch for Rob’s upcoming report on aromaconnection exploring the affects of climate change on aromatic plants and crops.

I and the rest of the staff at Samara Botane welcome the New Year, bracing for its challenges.  We wish you a very good twenty-eleven and remind you to use your aromatics, especially for stress and anxiety, sleeplessness and combating pollen and viral pollution.

Inhale Deeply and Breathe . . . Breathe . . . Peace.
Marcia

 Posted by at 11:43 pm
Nov 092010
 

42-15620395Seasonal viral and bacterial influenza is infection of the sinus, lungs and airways, and presents with one or more of the following symptoms: fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and a general feeling of weariness. It used to be that winter was the most likely time you would get the flu. The typical flu season runs from late November to March, however, there are possible outbreaks at other times during the year.

There are many sensible ways to keep seasonal viral and bacterial influenza at bay. Common sense and scents can help. Create awareness in school and the workplace and adopt and share one or more of the following suggestions that can put your mind more at ease:

Wash your hands often throughout the day with pure soap. Avoid touching your eyes, nosecolds flu washing hands 220x165 or mouth as germs enter your body more easily this way. Steer clear of synthetic chemical antibacterial liquid cleansers that strip your skin of its protective flora and actually create bacterial rashes. We carry several lovely choices of pure, natural soap, Black Soap from Africa, made from powdered Cocoa pods and the peel of the Plantain, using Coconut and Palm Kernel oils, is a wonderful choice. This soap will amaze you with its wonderful cleaning power and clean smell. We use it for everything!  It comes in a bar, or liquid, including a handy 2 oz. size for your purse or backpack.  You can easily make your own hand-wipes, spritzing cut-up paper towels with our Healthy Skin Hydrosol and conveniently carrying in a ziploc bag.

To avoid spreading disease, stay at home if you are sick, unless absolutely impossible. If you sneeze and cough at work or school, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or tissue. Do your best to keep those germs from going airborne and infecting others, prolonging illness in the workplace or school. Avoid crowds, and especially close contact with sick people. Generally keeping a distance of about six feet between yourself and others helps reduce your risk of exposure.

Using aromatics can introduce antibacterial, antiviral protection into your respiratory, sinus and throat regions. First Defense™ is a proprietary blend of the most powerful, yet gentle essential oils proven to address colds and influenza. This synergy is handy to have at hand when you feel the need to keep germs at bay. It is available in a convenient inhaler, especially good for travel, and for teachers, who are constantly exposed to the colds and flu of the younger population. It is also available as a diffuser synergy.

Proper ventilation significantly reduces the concentration of pathogenic bacteria and viruses76582_L_air_Fr_room_sp_140 in the air. Simply opening a window can help; unfortunately, this is not possible in many workplaces. If your workplace allows, use an environmental aromatic blend of essential oils like First Defense™, or Spring Breath™ in a personal diffuser on your desk to improve the air quality. You can also use them in a diffuser that works in the cigarette lighter socket in your car, or make a fine mist spritzer with the synergy suspended in water. You’ll find a wide range of aromatic diffusers here at Samara Botane, as well as the bottles and closures.  For routine prevention, you might also enjoy our L’air Frais™ Aromatic Room Spray, a bright, fresh environmental mist to clean and purify air.

Drink lots of water and eat sensibly. Foods that can boost your immune system include raw garlic (actually kills cold and flu virus), yogurt (immuno-stimulatory effects), green tea (powerful antiviral), fruits and vegetables (preferably fresh: full of vitamin C: apples are an excellent choice). If you get sick, avoid mucous-producing foods like milk, cheese . . . and, yes, ice cream! Pay attention to your nutritional needs and include vitamins and supplements as necessary. See your doctor and other health practitioners regularly, including your dentist.

Marcia’s Chicken Tortellini Soup for Flu Season

colds flu chicken tort soup 260x1953 large chicken breasts (brown in olive oil in skillet, remove and cut into cubes, set aside-chicken should be white all the way through)

Sauté to soften in skillet (adding more olive oil if needed):
1 1/2 c. celery, diced
1 1/2 c. carrots, diced
2 small or 1 medium onion diced
3-6 garlic cloves, minced (the more the better)

Add above ingredients to stockpot with:
8 c. chicken broth (add water as needed)
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
3 c. spinach leaves, chopped (or 3 c. broccoli)
1 15-oz. can sliced tomatoes (do not drain)
3-4 Tbsp. Braggs Amino Acids (optional)
2 tsp. Dried Tarragon, ground in mortar & pestle to release optimum flavor
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
cook at slow boil for 15 minutes
Add:
12 oz. fresh cheese tortellini pasta
cook for another 4-5 minutes or according to directions on pasta pkg.

Spoon into bowls, add:
freshly grated Parmesan for garnish, optional

This soup will keep well for several days refrigerated and can be reheated.

More tips for avoiding colds and flu:

no-smoking-symbol-140x139Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking is a high risk factor for influenza, and there is a higher mortality rate from influenza for smokers than non-smokers. Smoking causes structural changes in the respiratory tract and a decrease in immune response.

Dress properly. Thermo receptors (our body’s temperature sensory receptors) are concentrated on hands, feet, neck and head. Keep these parts of your body warm.

Modern life is stressful and many of us are worried, apprehensive and dealing with difficulties. This mental and physical state can lower your immune capability and create an environment for colds and flu to take hold. Pay conscious attention to reducing the stress in your life and pamper yourself – take time to relax. Luxurious aromatic baths and footbaths can soothe tired and sore muscles and calm frazzled nerves. Treat yourself to a therapeutic massage. Take long walks in the open air, away from the smog and traffic. Find time to relax with soothing music and/or a good book. Have a cup of tea with a friend. Talking to an empathetic ear can have a therapeutic effect.

We at Samara Botane hope you find these simple suggestions useful. We are here to serve through the aromatic life. You’ll find specific aromatherapy uses for each essential oil on the “uses” tab in the shopping cart on our website.

 Posted by at 6:23 pm
Aug 092010
 

Samara Botane Products You may think if you are a natural perfumer,  aromatherapist, massage therapist, or other alternative practitioner using essential oils or other raw botanical extracts or materials in your practice, craft or art,  that this bill will not directly affect you. At least you don’t think so.  However, you could be dead wrong.  If you are not a licensed doctor (M.D. or D.O. have the broadest authority) who can legally write a prescription, then you may be at risk under H.R. 5786 if you make essential oil blends or synergies for your clients or natural perfumes sold to clients (the general public). Thus far, essential oils have not been legally designated as either prescription or over-the-counter drugs.  The definition most used is, “A volatile oil, usually having the characteristic odor or flavor of the plant from which it is obtained, used to make perfumes and flavorings.”  In other words, they are manufacturing ingredients.

In H.R. 5786 (subchapter B), the definition of ‘ingredient’ reads:

“The term ‘ingredient’ means a chemical in a cosmetic, including – –
(A)  chemicals that provide a technical or functional effect;
(B)  chemicals that have no technical or functional effect in the cosmetic but are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during the processing of such cosmetic;
(C)  processing aids that are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during the processing of such cosmetics;
(D)  substances that are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during processing for their technical or functional effect;
(E)  contaminants present at levels above technically feasible detection limits;
(F)  contaminants that may leach from container materials or form via reactions over the shelf life of a cosmetic and that may be present at levels above technically feasible detection limits;
(G)  the components of a fragrance, flavor, or preservative declared individually by their appropriate label names; and
(H)  any individual components of a botanical, petroleum-derived, animal-derived, or other ingredient that the Secretary determines to be considered an ingredient. 

It is probably worth your while to ponder these definitions and take in their full impact.

Here in Washington state, the definition of ‘manufacturing’ in the state revenue code (RCW) reads:

"Manufacturer" means every person who, either directly or by contracting with others for the necessary labor or mechanical services, manufactures for sale or for commercial or industrial use from his or her own materials or ingredients any articles, substances or commodities.” (RCW 82.04.110)

"To manufacture" embraces all activities of a commercial or industrial nature where labor or skill is applied, by hand or machinery, to materials so that as a result thereof a new, different or useful substance or article of tangible personal property is produced for sale or commercial or industrial use . . . “

As you can see, this definition applies to the individual ‘person’, whether they are registered or incorporated as a business or not.  We can find similar manufacturing legislation in every state of the Union.  There is no exemption for individual practitioners, as many would define themselves.

I urge all my customers and clients, whether large corporations, small businesses or individuals to become more aware of the growing legislative efforts across the world that may affect the use of essential oils.  Please join the other 3,593 (and growing) signers in the advocacy efforts to oppose H.R. 5786 and make a point to stay abreast similar legislative issues.  

Thanks for listening,

Marcia

 Posted by at 7:50 pm
Mar 032010
 

I’ve blogged before about this great organization, spearheaded by Sylla Sheppard-Hanger and now joined by the dedicated Geraldine Zelinsky.  I’ve known both of these remarkable ladies for over 15 years now.  How time flies when you’re working hard and having fun.

Flag_SBProds_2010_280 For those of you who aren’t familiar with UAE, here is their mission, “The United Aromatherapy Effort, (UAE) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Charitable organization born out of the September 11th tragedy. The mission of UAE is to provide stress relief and aromatherapy to relief workers, and troops during emergency work and afterwards. We collect and disseminate donated aromatherapy products to those affected by disaster or war  in conjunction with chair massage and other natural therapies. Historically we have responded to the World Trade Center Disaster, NY (2001), Florida Hurricanes (2004), the Gulf Coast affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005-6), and in 2007-8 the California wildfires and the Gulf Coast Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Recently in 2009 we shifted our focus to the Military, both abroad and at home and are now supplying 4 Soldiers on the Ground (Afghanistan and Korea) with donated aromatherapy supplies they then disseminate to other soldiers.”

Since the beginning, Samara Botane has been happy to be donating diffusers, essential oils and aromatherapy products to bring stress relief,  help with minor skin problems and aromatic uplifting to those brave persons who serve so valiantly in times of emergency and disaster through this heartfelt organization.  Starting last year, UAE began working with troops in the field in Afghanistan and N. Korea.  A lovely thank you from troops outside Kabul at Camp Phoenix was the flying of the American flag on the base in honor of UAE last December 21. The flag was carefully removed, folded and sent to Sylla along with a letter from Brigadier General, Lawrence E. Dudney, Jr. expressing the gratitude of the troops.  The flag has now been travelling across the country from company to company while we all take pictures of it in our shops and warehouses.  Ultimately, Sylla and Geraldine will make a collage of the photos to send back to Brigadier General Dudney, Jr. to share with the troops. 

Mar_Rob_Flag_2010_325 As we did this, from opening the package with the flag to carefully replacing it securely to ship on to the next UAE company supporter, it has been an emotional time. We feel pride well up in our throats, as well as apprehension for the safety of our troops in our hearts.  We hope that we are doing some small thing for those who do so much, and it’s nice to know their appreciation.  We certainly appreciate them.

Rob and I took these casual pictures on the fly over the weekend, while squeezing a short break from taking inventory working with a temporary professional crew. I wanted to have our great staff in the pictures, but the timing didn’t work out and they weren’t here.  We are in our ‘blending room’ where staff fills thousands of those little bottles of essential oils and I work to formulate new blends for products when I’m not in the office on the computer or planting and tending the gardens.  The sign in the window is from our first store in Seattle, with the original Samara Botane logo and hand wrought copper samaras; a nice reminder, a glimpse of the evolution of our journey every time we look out that particular window.

I know these are tough economic times for many of our clients and customers.  UAE can always use money for postage and shipping, even in small amounts if you can spare it.  I’m sure they would appreciate hearing from you. 

 Posted by at 4:20 pm
Feb 252010
 

In the aromatherapy products community, safety is by far the most discussed topic. We spend hours in online discussion groups, social media outlets, on our websites and in our blogs in an effort to convey accurate and safe advice to those using essential oils and ancillary products.  Let us be very clear.  We at Samara Botane want safe aromatherapy products that carry no or minimal risk to consumers. 

Several years ago, many of our colleagues in the small personal care products industry joined with us as enthusiastic signers to the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. Sounded good and what looked to be a way to carry a larger message about personal products safety. We trusted that CFSC would represent an honest, peer-reviewed scientifically verifiable position. A closer review now indicates that many of their references reflect insufficient data, some reflect low hazard and yet they include these substances in a larger list of potentially toxic ingredients. Additionally, we assumed and trusted that, as signers, our interests would be taken into consideration for any actions bearing our signatures as supporters.  When the FDA introduced the FDA Globalization Act of 2008, it appeared as if CFSC was pressing for stringent, and perhaps unnecessary, regulations to be included in the act requiring product registration fees that would be prohibitive for many of the CFSC small business signers. At that time, it also began to become apparent that perhaps an overzealous rush headlong was overstating the immediate necessity for some of the requirements suggested to be included in the act and that perhaps established authorities were not being consulted to provide scientific documentation that would anchor CFSC’s position with actual facts and tempered scientific reasoning. There was an attempt to discuss our concerns with the leaders at CFSC, however, after several months we at Samara Botane requested we be removed as a signer when they were nonresponsive to our inquiries. It took over 2 months for them to comply with our wishes to have our name removed.  We were not alone.  Other small business colleagues did likewise and express similar stories.

Donna Maria Coles Johnson, President/CEO Indie Beauty Network, spearheaded a movement to insure member voices were heard at the FDA and she attempted to also dialog with CFSC.  She and several IBN members travelled to Washington, D.C. on two occasions to meet with the Congressional Committee working on the FDA Globalization Act.  The act has now been shelved, however, it could become active again. Donna Maria was diligent to communicate with and solicit input from IBN members throughout this process, gaining broad support from the membership.  Here are some of  her reports during this part of our story: 
Why I Oppose New Cosmetics Laws That Do Not Contain Exemptions For Small Businesses
Why I’m Headed Back To Capitol Hill On Behalf Of America’s Small Businesses
Campaign For Safe Cosmetics: A New Report

It appears as if CFSC is now determined to press for these cosmetic ingredient requirements without consideration for small business exemption or insuring that other concerns are first addressed. They are now taking their efforts to the states themselves. As an endorsing organization of the CFSC, the Women’s Lobby of Colorado, is supporting state senator Boyd’s and representative Primavera’s HB 1248 The Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act. CFSC is prominently featured on relative Women’s Lobby documents.  Based on Samara Botane’s experience with the nonresponsiveness of CFSC, and their failure to adequately advise signers  we wonder if the 36 small Colorado companies listed here have expressly authorized CFSC or the Women’s Lobby to use their names on this document, which intimates support of the act. We wonder if they are even aware of the act or the broader implications of the CFSC agenda that could impact their small business. Additionally, we do not know where the Women’s Lobby is gathering their facts, but their fact sheet is not entirely accurate.  Washington state has NOT passed a similar law as stated.  House Bill 2166 was introduced in the Washington legislature and referred to committee in 2007 and no further action has been taken.  There is not an existing similar law in Washington state.

We at Samara Botane encourage all small personal care businesses who either reside in or do business in Colorado to contact the legislators to oppose this bill.  Please read these blogposts from colleagues with additional details, concerns and cautions:
Oppose the Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act Donna Maria Coles Johnson, IBN
Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act :: Take Action Immediately, Kayla Fioravanti, Essential Wholesale
Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act Kelly Bloom, Southern Soapers 
Tunnel Vision, Robert Tisserand, Aromatherapy Expert and Author
Colorado Safe Cosmetics Bill, Cindy Jones PhD, Sagescript Institute
The Colorado Safe Personal Care Act: How Will it Affect You, Lisa Rodgers, Cactus & Ivy
You Can Die From Salt, Too, Anne Marie Faiola, Bramble Berry
Oppose Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act, Katherine Corkill, Sterling Minerals
From the President – Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act, Leigh O’Donnell, HSMG
Colorado versus the cosmetics industry, Sarva Natural Artisan Soaps
When Safety in Personal Care, Isn’t Safety At All, Jerell Klaver, Salus Natural Body Care
The Colorado No Product Law, Marge Clark, Nature’s Gift
Tilting at Windmills: The Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act, Emily Topsham, GCD Spa
Costly Confusion in Colorado: The Bubble Bill, Donna Maria Coles Johnson, IBN

Oppose the Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act, Aromatalk
House Bill 1248 Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act., MK Independent Beauty Consultants, We Will Not Fall Blog

Related Articles:
Colorado Proposes Ban on Cosmetics It Claims Cause Cancer, Cosmetic Design
Bill Proposes the Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act, Global Cosmetic Industry

Tell Colorado Legislators to Back off the Mary Kay Lady: Oppose HB 1248, Ben, Peoples Press Collective

We hope we have included all to date, please add additional blogs or articles in your comments so that we can continue to assemble a comprehensive list.  Thank you.

Marcia Elston and Rob Stitt
Samara Botane/Nature Intelligence

 Posted by at 5:52 pm
Jan 152010
 

I put my arms around him yes
and drew him down to me so he could
feel my breasts all perfume yes
and his heart was going like mad
and yes I said yes I will Yes.
James Joyce

According to the New Advent Encyclopedia Section, there were at least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs. One is described as a priest, another as a bishop and the third suffered in Africa with a number of companions, although nothing further is known. The popular, and now modern, customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day have their origins in conventional belief in the geographical regions of England and France during the Middle Ages. This belief stems from the observation that half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair.
Thus, in Chaucer’s Parliment of Foules,
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s Day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

For this reason, the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and the proper occasion for writing love letters and sending tokens to one’s object of affection. The French and English literatures are rife with allusions to the practice in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Those who chose each other under these circumstances called each other their Valentines.

One romantic legend, according to History.com contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II believed that single men made better soldiers and outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius after realizing the injustice of the decree and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

The oldest valentine in existence is thought to be a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the tower of London in 1415. Valentine greetings and tokens of affection were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, although written valentines didn’t appear until after 1400. The first commercial valentine in the United States is attributed to Esther A. Howland who made elaborate creations with lace, ribbons and colorful pictures, known as ‘scrap’.  The scanned image at right is one of several elaborate, lacy valentines belonging to my long deceased great grandmother.
A typical verse:
I send you this, with hope and fear
With hope that you will tender be;
Yet all the while, I tremble dear,
Lest you should not be fancy-free
I could not bear the hopeless fate
To hear the cruel words – too late.

Would that we could have such tender Romeos today to bare these fragile inner feelings and show such deep emotional love. Certainly not in this age of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Resident Evil 4.

In Roman mythology, Cupid (meaning ‘desire’) is the god of erotic love and beauty, aka Amor, and son of goddess Venus and god Mercury. We have exploited this young deity in art, literature, confection, adornment and perfume at this time of year, some would say to excess. And, while we moderns are probably not going to participate in the elaborate ancient celebration of Lupercalia, which occurred in ancient Rome on February 15, and when some of the weirdest customs were indulged, it is perhaps another precursor to our modern celebratory immersion in romance and fertility.

Those of us who garden in the northern climes can’t ignore the fact that February 14 is also the approximate time for the beginning of the Spring thaw, another significant allusion to fertility.

While we may never know all of the facts of the history that lies behind Valentines Day; most of us are smitten with the idea of heartfelt expression and indulgence to bestow favor and admiration on those we care deeply about or wish to have a romantic relationship with.

Any expression of universal love in light of the overwhelming humanitarian disaster in Haiti must include our commitment to the brave and beautiful people of that impoverished country.  During the first quarter of 2010, Samara Botane will donate 10% of all all sales (not just web sales) to Partners in Health.  PIH works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. Their work has three goals: to care for patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world. Partners in Health has been in Haiti for over 20 years and its hospitals are untouched by the recent earthquake. They have been the first medical response to the disaster and their doctors and medical personnel are primarily Haitian citizens. Based in Boston, PIH employs more than 11,000 people worldwide, including doctors, nurses and community health workers. The vast majority of PIH staff are local nationals based in the communities we serve.

Valentine Gift Suggestions

Amoretto™ Parfum Mist, 7.5 ml in brushed silver atomizer

Soft florals of Rose Otto and Ylang Ylang with hints of zesty Citrus, grounded with Vetiver & Sandalwood and a mere whisper of Black Pepper, Clary Sage and Juniper make this a lovely fragrant poem of innocent love. This fine perfume is a 30% perfume composition in certified organic perfumers alcohol, with moderate silage and a uniquely soft, sweet scent for young and old alike. Festively packaged in chic acetate pillow with sizzle fill.

Relax in the tub and treat your skin to nourishment and renewal

Renew Milk & Honey Bath Ensemble

The additive dissolves in your bath to create a beautiful skin softening therapy – a few drops of the essential oil blend make it aromatically restful while adding additional skin healing, and the aromatherapy body lotion completes the experience of skin rejuvenation and renewal. Packaged in a charming little reuseable suitcase. Delightful luxury for the love of your life.

Please explore our website for lovely naturally fragrant gifts and indulgences for your loved ones. If you have difficulty finding what you are looking for, or need some ideas or explanations, or want to put together a custom gift, you can always email or call me.

Free shipping to you or your recipient on orders placed before February 8th, with an additional bonus gift for the purchaser of one of our recipe booklets for refreshing skin, hair and body treatments and aromatherapy ideas for health and beauty.

Sending fragrant thoughts your way for this beautiful Valentine’s Day! Share your love abundantly with all you touch.

Marcia and the Samara Botane crew

 Posted by at 6:56 pm
Nov 192009
 

I thought we had cleared up this misconception years ago, however, it seems there are a number of essential oil purveyors claiming to carry essential oils  that are specifically certified as therapeutic grade by the FDA and show this seal below as proof.  Don’t be fooled.  They are not telling the truth.  In reverse order, this is one path to their deception.

 imageThis last trademark has been registered (as a word mark) by DoTERRA Holdings, LLC, 370 W. Center Street,  Orem, UT 84057.  Filed on March 4, 2009, published for opposition on July 1, 2009 and official registration granted on October 6, 2009.  This registration has the disclaimer, “No claim is made to the exclusive right to use ‘certified pure therapeutic grade’ apart from the mark as shown.

A third trademark has been registered (as a word mark) CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade also by DoTERRA Holdings, LLC, 370 W. Center Street,  Orem, UT 84057.  Filed on March 4, 2009, published for opposition on July 14, 2009 and official registration granted on September 29, 2009. This registration also has the disclaimer, “No claim is made to the exclusive right to use ‘certified pure therapeutic grade’ apart from the mark as shown”. There is a long list of products shown to be associated with this word mark.

A second trademark has been registered (as a word mark) CPTG also by DoTERRA Holdings, LLC, 370 W. Center Street,  Orem, UT 84057.  Filed on March 31, 2008, published for opposition on June 10, 2008 and official registration granted on May 9, 2009.

image A first trademark has been registered (as a word mark) CPTG also by DoTERRA Holdings, LLC, 1145 South 800 East, Ste. 134,  Orem, UT 84057.  Filed on March 31, 2008, published for opposition on June 10, 2008 and official registration granted on May 9, 2009. Under the trademark registration, they show application to the following products: Essential oils; Essential oils for household use; Essential oils for personal use; Lavender oil; Massage oil; Massage oils; Natural essential oils; Aromatherapy oils; Bath oils; Body oils; Cosmetic oils; Cosmetic oils for the epidermis; Essential oils for flavoring beverages; Essential oils for food flavorings; Essential oils for use in manufacturing of gelcaps and other dietary supplements; Essential oils for use in the manufacture of scented products; Oils for cleaning purposes; Oils for toiletry purposes; Skin and body topical lotions, creams and oils for cosmetic use; Food flavorings prepared from essential oils; Oils for perfumes and scents; Peppermint oil; Perfume oils; Tanning oils.

DoTERRA, LLC is yet another multi-level marketing natural products company based in Utah who has applied through the U.S. Patent Office to “own” (exclusive use) a registered word mark.  This registered word mark has not been provided to them by the FDA as they claim and is meaningless in proving that an outside certifying body has declared or designated that DoTERRA’s essential oils are certified pure therapeutic grade.  DoTERRA, LLC owns the right to exclusive use of the mark (however not the exclusive right to the actual words “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” which is revealing)  This seal or word mark is nothing more than a commercial trademark that they have registered and paid a fee for.  However, DoTERRA is purposefully misinforming potential customers and down liners by email by claiming FDA approval and that the FDA has provided them with the label that they, themselves registered and own.  The FDA does NOT certify the quality of essential oils by therapeutic grade and they do not provide a certifying label as claimed.  Following is an email from DoTERRA sent to a potential customer:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: d?TERRA Member Service <service@doterra.com>
Date: Mon, Nov 16, 2009 at 5:01 PM
Subject:  
To: Recipient Name and Email Removed for Privacy

Dear Recipient Name Removed for Privacy,

We apologize if one of our consultants has mislead you in anyway (sic).  All of our oils are FDA approved as being Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG). DoTERRA’s, CPTG essential oils are 100% pure natural aromatic compounds carefully extracted from plants.  They do not contain fillers or artificial ingredients that would dilute their active qualities and are free of contaminants such as pesticides or other chemical residues.  All of our products are taken through a series of tests including  AFNOR and ISO standards for purity, and all of our manufactures must maintain a GMP certification.  Therefore, we are passing government regulations.  The FDA has provided us with the label of CPTG. We hope we have resolved your concern.

Member Services
doTERRA International, LLC
370 West Center Street
Orem, Ut 84057
800-411-8151
service@doterra.com

Clearly this company is misleading people by claiming that they have a designation and approval provided to them by the FDA that in my expert opinion simply does not exist.  Stay tuned for part II of this series which will focus on FDA regulations that actually apply to essential oils and the part III will provide you with questions to ask a supplier that will ascertain their knowledge of essential oils and expertise in the industry.  

We at Samara Botane and many others in the essential oil trade have are dismayed about the misrepresentation of facts surrounding essential oils that occurs here in the United States, especially within the multi-level marketing industry.  We encourage people to diligently research any essential oil company before choosing them as a supplier.

Marcia Elston
Samara Botane/Nature Intelligence
http://www.wingedseed.com 

Please feel free to repost this entire message in its entirety, unedited, on your blog as well as social media outlets and newsgroups. 

 Posted by at 2:15 pm