Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health

Hope you’ve been enjoying all the insight and wisdom that’s being shared on these Tele-Summit calls. This evening is our 4th call in the series: “Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health.” I’ll be the resident expert for today’s session and I’ll be talking about something very important –-the hidden health threats to your baby from the personal care and beauty products you use! Some of the things I’ll cover on tonight’s session:

  • Startling new research about ingredients in mass-produced personal care products that may pre-dispose your baby to obesity (among other serious health problems!)
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  • The top 10 ingredients you MUST avoid to keep you and your baby safe and how you can find out if the products you’re using right now may contain them
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  • Using Mother Nature’s Rx: Essential Oils to safely address some of the most common pregnancy-related complaints

Much of what I’ll be sharing on tonight’s call applies to you whether you are pregnant or not, but becomes even more important when you are or planning to be. There’s no better time than now to take inventory of the products you currently use and toss the ones that are bad for you. Come join me and learn how to become a more conscious consumer so you can stop exposing your baby to hidden threats from toxic exposure while learning how to identify and choose safer, more effective natural alternatives.

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern. Don’t miss this very important call!

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info. It’s FREE!

Got a Blank Space Where My Mind Should Be: Can Aromatherapy Cure Memory Loss?

Some people are fond of saying that our memory is the first thing to go as we age. The conventional wisdom is that as we age, our memory inevitably gets worse. We just have to accept things like not remembering where we parked the car or forgetting a new person’s name within seconds of meeting them, as unavoidable signs of aging.

While most people will experience a decline in memory as they get older, there are some simple, natural things you can do give your brain a little “tune up” from time to time when you need some help remembering things. A number of recent studies have demonstrated that aromatherapy can stimulate positive significant change in all of the functions of the brain, from increasing mental focus to making people more likely to remember things.

One study conducted by the University of Northumbria in the UK observed the effects that different scents had on memory and mood. The study found that subjects who inhaled a peppermint aroma performed better on memory tests than subjects who inhaled a ylang ylang aroma, while those who were given the ylang ylang reported being calmer than the group that had received the peppermint. That’s because peppermint is one of the most well known aromatic stimulants. Now we know that in addition to its cooling, analgesic, and digestive properties, it can be used to improve mental performance too!

An earlier study conducted by the same University in 2003 used a different set of essential oils in order to measure their impact on memory and concentration. In this initial study, scientists had subjects work in rooms that were filled with either rosemary or lavender aromas. While both scents made subjects think longer about their answers to their memory test, those under the influence of lavender got more answers wrong. By contrast, those who were in the room filled with rosemary gave significantly more detailed and higher quality responses to their memory test questions.

This research clearly reveals some of the interesting and important benefits of using aromatherapy to aid in the area of memory and concentration, but even more astounding are the results of a recent study in Japan that measured the effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Japanese study examined the curative effects of aromatherapy on the behavior and cognitive function of 28 elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The subjects received aromatherapy treatments twice a day for a full month. Rosemary and lemon essential oils were used in the morning treatments while lavender and orange essential oils were used in the evening treatments. They were given three different tests to evaluate how well they functioned both before and after the thirty day period. At the end of the month-long study, patients “showed significant improvement in personal orientation related to cognitive function,” and no side effects associated with the use of aromatherapy were noted.

Impressive as these results are, they are not as surprising as they may seem. The link between scent and memory is well-known, and has been for centuries. The parts of the brain that are associated with memory and feeling are all part of the limbic system, as is the olfactory bulb (the area of the brain that processes scent). Because of it’s position in the brain, the olfactory bulb has easy access to the hippocampus, which is responsible for creating long-term memories, and the amygdala, which is the emotional center of the brain.

What researchers concluded from these studies is that aromatherapy stimulates the creation of new cells in the memory center of the brain. The creation of these new cells improves the higher functions of the brain, such as memory recall and abstract thinking.

So how can you use aromatherapy to benefit your own mind? There are a number of different scents you can use to boost your brainpower, and a variety of ways to use them. Your best choice would be the essential oils used in these studies that generated the greatest results like peppermint, rosemary, and lemon. The best time to use them is right before you need to focus on something, like at the start of your work day, or right before you do something that you want to remember well, like the beginning of a study session or lesson or even at the start of a movie if you have trouble remembering scenes.

If you have any of these essential oils on hand, you can mix 70-75 drops of one (or a blend) of the oils with 3 oz (or 80 ML) of purified water inside of a spray mister bottle (a 3% dilution). Shake the bottle to make sure the oils are evenly mixed then spray in the air and inhale deeply whenever you need to. For faster and more direct results you can inhale the essential oil or blend (undiluted) directly from the bottle. If you are blending oils be sure to place the oils into a dark glass bottle, and don’t overdo or over-use this method as it can sometimes result in the opposite effect of the intended or desired result.

Some of these scents can be obtained directly from the natural ingredients themselves only in a much less concentrated form. For example, you can grow fresh mint in your garden, kitchen, or on your desk and use it to make tea or crush some leaves to release their scent. Or you can throw the peel and rinds of some oranges, lemons, and/or limes into your garbage disposer and run it for a few seconds to grind the fruit and release it’s natural scent.

Copyright 2009-2012 Dropwise Essentials

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.

The Psychology of Scent: Remarkable Research Findings!

Here’s a brief summary of the most interesting findings from the dozens and dozens of studies conducted by these and other institutions on the effects of olfaction (smell) on a variety of human behaviors including learning, memorization and buying patterns:

  1. Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago discovered that people will judge a product a better value when bought from a shop where there is a pleasant aroma.
  2. In another study by Dr. Hirsch, he found that when a mixed floral aroma was suffused throughout a room of calculus students, they increased their speed of learning by 230%.
  3. One study conducted at the Las Vegas Hilton revealed that a certain aroma that was diffused around the slot machines in the casino resulted in an increase in the length of time gamblers spent at the machines as well as a 45% increase in the amount of cash they spent.
  4. Psychology professor Robert A. Baron at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY found that people in pleasantly scented rooms carry out their work with more confidence, more efficiency, and with greater willingness to resolve conflict. Clerical workers in one of his studies set higher performance goals for themselves while working in scented offices.
  5. At the Worcester Hospital in Hereford, England, a 6-month trial showed that vaporizing lavender through the air caused patients to sleep in a more natural pattern and made them less aggressive during the day. Over the 6 months, some patients were weaned off their tranquilizers simply by substituting lavender in the atmosphere, which has a calming effect on the brain.
  6. In Japan, the fragrance company Takasago (now a subsidiary of Avon) has shown that data entry errors fell by 20% when lavender was diffused in the atmosphere, by 33% with jasmine, and 54% with lemon. Furthermore, by changing the aromas around periodically, workers sensitivity to smell and their efficiency could be maintained.
  7. When students at Warwick University in England were told they performed poorly on a simple test they had taken while smelling a particular odor, they became depressed the next time they smelled that odor. Those who had been told they were successful had the opposite reaction: their self-confidence was boosted.
  8. A study at Wheeling Jesuit University, in Wheeling, West Virginia, found that subjects who inhaled the scent of peppermint while running for 15 minutes felt less fatigued, more energized, and more positive about their performance than those who didn’t inhale the scent. They were also more likely to run faster during those fifteen minutes.
  9. According to a report in the journal Chemical Senses, women out-performed men when asked to identify a given smell from a group of four scents 10, 30 or 60 seconds after sniffing the original scent.
  10. Sex and scent are so closely intertwined that as much as 25% of people who lose their sense of smell, also lose their ability to become sexually aroused.

The implications of these findings are astonishing. There have even been studies that suggest that adding certain scents to food can aid in weight loss, and sniffing lavender can significantly increase slow-wave sleep – the deepest, most restorative stage of sleep.

While scientists continue to try to understand all the elements at play in olfaction and how scents that exist in nature differ from those made from synthetic chemicals, knowing what we now know about what the nose knows, how will you re-evaluate and tend to your relationship with this vital organ?

The Secret Language of Scents: How You’re Influenced by The Smells All Around

Most people are totally unaware of the impact that smells can have on their mood, ability to learn, stamina, perception of themselves and others, and ultimately, their behavior and motivation. In fact, when given a choice between losing a big toe or their sense of smell, people are far more ambivalent than they are when given a choice between losing a big toe or their sense of sight!

Our sense of smell is the strongest of all human senses and the closest sense linked to memory and emotion. Every day we encounter aromas (pleasant and unpleasant) that have a powerful influence on our emotions, moods, and behavior. Until the 1990s, very little was known about the sense of smell or even the human brain, but now science recognizes that the sense of smell is a major key to understanding who we are as individuals and as human beings.

While we know that humans can distinguish between as many as 10,000 different aromas, there’s still much to learn about how the brain actually translates aroma molecules into smells and why we react differently to the same smells. What we do know is that through our sense of smell, aroma molecules set off a cascade of reactions involving proteins, enzymes, cell depolarization, and secondary messengers – all leading to an electrical impulse being sent to the brain.

The part of the brain most directly involved in olfaction (our ability to smell) is the limbic system, evolutionarily the oldest part of the brain (sometimes referred to as the “reptilian” brain). The limbic system controls emotions, memory and learning, imagination, intuition, and sexuality, as well as primitive drives and survival instincts. With olfaction these can all be evoked – even subconsciously.

Most of the research currently being done on smell is by people who want to bombard you with it for commercial reasons. In labs, subjects are exposed to fragrance and wired up to equipment that measure electrical skin response, skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. Pictures of the brain can be seen changing under the influence of aroma.
Research into the psychological effects of aroma now attracts major funding. There are 4 major research institutions: The Olfactory Research Fund (NYC), the Monell Chemical Senses Center (Philadelphia, PA), the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation Ltd (Chicago, IL) and the Olfaction Research Department of Warwick University (UK). There are also a number of private companies engaged in ongoing research for commercial purposes, most notable is International Flavor & Fragrances (IFF) which serves the perfume and food industries.

How conscious are you of the scents in the your environment and how they might be affecting your mood? Have you really considered how the scents you wear may be impacting others around you?

Gifts of Love for Couples to Celebrate Valentine’s Day: Staying In vs. Going Out?

Going out to a nice restaurant for Valentine’s is a great gift if you don’t have the opportunity to do this very often, or you’re feeling so cooped up that you need to get out of the house to enjoy yourself. On the other hand there are many ways you can celebrate this occasion by staying in.

Below are some ideas for ways couples can celebrate the day in a way that focuses on nurturing each other rather than succumbing to the old standby clichéd way of giving each other store bought gifts and (ho hum!) “dates.”

Why not try a variation on the old breakfast in bed? Rather than one of you making breakfast for the other, why not prepare a nice breakfast or brunch together then retreat to the bedroom to eat it in bed. Plan it all the night before and don’t make any other plans for the day. Just enjoy a lazy day at home sharing favorite moments from your relationship or what you adore about each other.
If you want to spice things up and do something to commemorate the occasion, swing for a set of satin or high thread-count organic cotton sheets and add some of the traditional accouterments –scented candles, dark chocolates to nibble on, a bottle of champagne (for mimosas) and roses or other flower petals strewn around the room. Try an aromatherapy massage followed by a hot bath with mineral salts. Or curl up together with lots of soft cushy pillows, some hot cocoa, and your favorite movie or a new one you’d both like to see.

If lazing around all day doesn’t suit your style then why not work on a project together that celebrates your love for one another? Consider creating a scrapbook or collage that chronicles the highlights of your relationship. Collect everything you think should be included: photos, ticket stubs, matchbooks, souvenirs and other meaningful memorabilia. Start from the beginning, group and arrange related items you want to include and as you add them into your book, write the narrative together. If you have different memories of an event or occasion then each one can write down their version – like an entry in a guestbook. The experience of putting this together helps you appreciate each other and your relationship and you can re-visit the scrapbook whenever you like (maybe make it an annual Valentine’s Day ritual) and update it with new insights or adventures you’ve shared and would like to record. Or you can create mini-scrapbooks that are specific to events (vacations or celebrations), or different periods in your relationship.

Another variation on this theme is creating a vision board for your future together. This can involve using photos you have or photos you collect from a variety of sources with images that symbolically represent things you want to do, places you want to go, goals you want to achieve, possessions you want to acquire (a new car, vacation home, RV, kitchen, swimming pool or Jacuzzi, etc.). Include graphical text headings from magazines or newspapers that communicate the substance of what you want to accomplish and how you want to feel when you get there. This can be a powerful bonding experience and an affirmation of your plans moving forward as a couple –one that energizes you rather than draining you. The other benefit is that you can do these activities regardless of the weather, which can be somewhat unpredictable at this time of the year.

For some simple sensuous essential oil blends you can to create the right ambiance for love try these combinations:

Lavender, Geranium, Clary Sage
Lavender, Sandalwood, Vanilla
Lime, Geranium, Cypress
Orange, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine
Grapefruit, Bergamot, Rosewood
Lime, Vetiver, Coriander

Combine 2-3 drops of each and add to an aromatherapy candle-based diffuser (in some water to prevent burning the olls) or to a tablespoon of jojoba or coconut oil for massage; or a cup of epsom salts or baking soda for a bath. Our Certified Organic Body Oils work great for massages too and they’re $5 off this month. You can buy them here.

For more ideas and recipes for using essential oils to create a mood for love, pick up a copy of Nitya Lacroix’s book The Art of Sensual Aromatherapy: A Lover’s Guide to Using Aromatic Oils & Essences.

Tip #7 for Beating the Holiday Blues: Surround yourself with uplifting and nurturing sounds and smells

Two of the fastest ways to raise your vibrational frequency (which is low when you’re sick or stressed out) are listening to music and using essential oils. Listen to music that you love or that soothes you as often as possible. As for essential oils, citrus oils are the most effective for alleviating depression and improving your mood, especially grapefruit, orange, tangerine, and lime (oils typically extracted from the rind of the fruit). More expensive but also effective are oils extracted from the orange blossoms, stems, and leaves of the citrus trees such as bergamot, petitgrain, and neroli.

Many of the smells associated with the holidays can be uplifting as well – the scent of a live Christmas tree or fresh cut wreath, the mulling spices from cider or the comforting smell of baked goods. All of these can be created with essential oils of pine, fir, juniper, cedarwood, clove, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. If you need relief from stress or seek to create a sense of peace and calm try lavender, which blends well with cedarwood or any of the “tree” oils.

Put a few drops of any oil or blend of oils in a diffuser or potpourri burner or in a cup of Epsom salts and add to a nice hot bath. Make a lovely spritzer by adding 15 drops of any essential oil or combination of oils to one ounce of purified water, or try one our Aromatic Mister sprays.

Always keep a small bottle of aromatherapy product handy and pull it out and sniff it whenever you need a little booster. Rub a small amount into your palms, bring to your face and inhale deeply. Our Trial Size Lotions and Body Oils are perfect for this! Follow recommended safety guidelines if you’re working with straight essential oils. You can find some on our blog.

Keeping the Air Clean: Are Your Candles Doing More Harm Than Good?

Before the advent of electricity, candles were used primarily for illumination. Light served as a symbol of the good and the beautiful  –especially in times of emotional and spiritual darkness– and the way in which human beings relate to light is emotional, almost sensual.

Today, candles are used mainly for their aesthetic value and scent, to set a soft, warm, or romantic ambiance, and for emergency lighting during electrical power failures.  Scented candles are often used as a vehicle for aromatherapy.

No matter how you slice it, candles are BIG business. Here are some interesting and “illuminating” statistics:

  • Candles are used in 7 out of 10 U.S. households.
  • A majority of consumers burn candles 1-3 times per week with half of these consumers burning 1-2 candles at a time
  • In 2006, the U.S. market for candles was estimated at $2.3 billion
  • 96% of all candles purchased are bought by women

The prevalence of candles in our homes is evident. The real question is how much do you know about the type of candles you’re buying and their potential impact on the quality of indoor air in your home?

Lead Wicks Can Lead to Trouble

According to a study conducted about 8 years ago by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 40% of candles on the market still contained lead wires inside their wicks. This is a startling statistic in light of the fact that the U.S. candle manufacturing industry voluntarily agreed to cease production of lead-containing candles in 1974, once it was shown that burning lead-wick candles resulted in increased lead concentration in indoor air.

A candle with a lead-core wick has been shown to release five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air.

Lead, along with other metals like Zinc, is used to stiffen the wicks of candles so they remain straight when the surrounding wax begins to melt. The metal prevents the wick from falling over and extinguishing itself as soon as the wax no longer supports it.  Although Zinc is considered to be far less toxic than lead, very little is known about the long-term effects of breathing zinc in the form of dust or fumes released from burning it.

The Soot That’s All Around

Another problem inherent in burning candles with lead wicks (especially those made with paraffin wax -a petroleum by-product) is a phenomenon called Black Soot Deposition. It’s now believed that frequent candle-burning is one of the sources of black soot in the home. The amount of soot produced can vary greatly from candle to candle. One type of candle can produce as much as 100 times more soot than another type. The type of soot may also vary. Though primarily composed of elemental carbon, candle soot may include phthalates, lead, and other toxic ingredients such as benzene and tuolene.

When soot is airborne, it can be inhaled. The particles can potentially penetrate the deepest areas of the lungs and the lower respiratory tract causing respiratory problems and aggravating existing asthma, lung, or heart conditions.

If left unchecked, soot from regular burning of paraffin candles can also cause significant damage to the inside of your house, your computers, electrical appliances, and ductwork.

Synthetically scented candles are believed to be a major source of soot because the chemicals used in “fragrance” oils tend to soften the wax, increasing the need to add metals to the wicks to stiffen them. They are also likely the main source of phthalates in soot.

The Good News …

The good news is there are ways to enjoy burning candles without routinely exposing yourself to harmful toxins. Here’s how you can avoid the problem:

1. Ensure any new candles you buy don’t have lead in the wicks. Look for “lead-free” or “coreless clean-burning” labels on them.  If you’re not sure, you can perform a simple test by rubbing the tip of the wick on a piece of paper. If it leaves a gray mark like a pencil, the wick contains lead

2. Buy candles made with 100% Beeswax or 100% Vegetable Wax. Because these waxes are more expensive, a lot of manufacturers tend to blend them with paraffin. Avoid blended wax candles. Look for labels indicating they are 100% pure

3. To reduce soot no matter what kind of candles you burn, keep wicks trimmed and don’t burn candles near a draft

4. For aromatherapy candles, buy candles scented with only pure essential oils. Soy candles are best for this purpose as they are clean, slow-burning, and long-lasting with superior scent throw (dispersion). Soy candles in containers can also be melted if placed on an electric warming plate. This eliminates the soot generating combustion that comes from directly burning wicks and enables sufficient release of the aromas.

How to Select the Right Type of Essential Oil Diffuser for Your Needs

Diffusers are the most effective way to experience the benefits of essential oils and essential oil blends via inhalation. A diffuser fragrances the air and is excellent for scenting a room to enhance mood, aid in respiration, or eliminate odors or airborne bacteria and viruses.

1. Light Bulb Rings

This method involves placing a few drops of essential oil on either a ceramic or metal ring that is then placed over an incandescent light bulb and uses the heat from the light bulb to activate the essential oils and release their aromas into the air. This type of diffuser is inexpensive, ranging in price from $5 – $15, but it uses direct heat which when applied to certain oils (like citrus essential oils), will burn off their more volatile components and make them evaporate quickly, requiring frequent re-application to maintain the desired scent. It also tends to diminish their therapeutic value — not to mention increase the risk of getting burned or possibly starting a fire.

2. Candle-Based Diffusers or Aroma Lamps

A candle-based diffuser like a potpourri burner or aroma lamp is another heat-based method of diffusion. They typically range in price from $10 – $25. If used in the same manner as the light bulb ring (i.e. oils are placed in the burner and exposed to direct heat) then the results are similar. You can mitigate some of these effects by adding water to the bowl or dish first, then a few drops of essential oil to the water before lighting the tea light. When the water is sufficiently heated the scent will be released through the steam rising off the top. This is a gentler way to heat essential oils without destroying some of their beneficial properties. The down side with this method is that the scent will not travel far so you need to be close to the diffuser to enjoy the scent and will need to re-apply oils frequently if using over a longer stretch of time.

3. Electric Heat-Based Diffusers

ScentBallThe most common versions of this type of diffuser are the Scent Ball and Car Scenter. Both use a small square cotton pad that is saturated with the essential oils then placed in the diffuser where it comes in direct contact with a ceramic or metal plate. The diffuser is plugged into a wall outlet or a car lighter well and uses AC to lightly heat the pad, slowly releasing the scent. These diffusers can effectively scent a small space with continuous diffusion (up to 3 hours per application). You can control the intensity by how much essential oil you apply to the pad and refresh as needed or desired. They cost between $10 and $15, but replacement pads can sometimes be difficult to find.

4. Fan-Based Electric Diffusers

Fan-based electric diffusers like the SpaScenter are an excellent way to quickly or continuously fragrance a larger space. Like the ScentBall and CarScenter, they also use cotton pads though round and larger. Essential oils are applied to the cotton pad in varying amounts depending on desired strength of the scent, but instead of using heat to release the scent, the pad is placed over a variable speed fan that blows cool air through the pad and out of the unit. These units run somewhere in the $30 to $50 range and are relatively quiet making them the perfect choice for creating a home spa environment. They can be connected to a timer for more efficient unsupervised use.

5. Nebulizing Diffusers

Nebulizing diffusers are by far the most effective and expensive diffusers you can use. They consist of a hand-blown glass nebulizer that’s attached to a motorized base which when plugged in forces the essential oils’ aromatic molecules into the air in a fine, barely discernible jet stream. Since no heat is involved in the process the aromatic components of the oils remain unaltered providing maximum therapeutic value. This type of diffuser tends to cover large areas quickly and can be a little noisy. Still they’re the best to use for eliminating airborne bacteria and viruses. They’re also highly effective for odor elimination, managing allergy symptoms like congestion, or easing insomnia and anxiety. Prices range from $50 to $150 depending on features desired.

For a list of quality diffusers please visit our diffusers page.

Copyright 2009 Dropwise Essentials
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of pure essential oils (EOs) extracted from different plants and their various parts, including flower petals, seeds, berries, fruit peels, buds, resins, bark, wood, grasses, twigs, stems, leaves, and roots. Essential oils are fragrant, highly concentrated essences of plants –considered to embody the “soul” or “life-force” of the plant. They may be concentrated in a specific part of a plant or present in several areas throughout the plant. A good example of the latter is the orange tree which produces different oils from its flower blossoms, leaves, twigs, and the fruit’s peel. Other essential oils such as peppermint, are extracted from the whole plant and oils like jasmine and rose are extracted strictly from the flower petals.     [Read more…]