Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Massage Oils, Phthalates & You

An oil massage always begs that question, “How much oil to use?”  Are you one of those therapists or massage customers who thinks less is more?  Or does generous, slick, smooth and slippery-sensual sound infinitely better?  Does it matter?

Fundamentally, the style of massage will, to a large degree, determine how much oil the therapist needs to use.  Feast your eyes on this recent clip, showing a creative, bold and pretty special oil massage technique:

Had Trayl, the massage therapist and teacher in the clip, been less than liberal with the oil, the guy receiving the massage would probably have had mild friction burns.  How much of that oil was absorbed into his skin, do you think?  How many of the ingredients in that oil found their way into his bloodstream?

The US Center for Disease Control has for more than a decade been studying what they call Body Burden and Bio-Monitoring – the level and concentration of chemicals found in large population samples.  They have, in particular, been studying phthalates – a group of chemicals most commonly found in plastics and in synthetic fragrances.   Their studies show phthalates in the bloodstreams of as much as 75% of the US population samples tested. (1)  Why is this relevant to massage oils?  Phthalates are a common component of plastics manufacture and most commercial massage oils are sold in large plastic containers, which means the oils carry high levels of phthalates since oils dissolve plastics over time, especially when stored at warm temperatures.  Massage oils made with a mineral oil base have high levels of phthalates, which are also a commercial solvent used in the mineral oil production process.  And many, many commercial massage oils are synthetically fragranced.  If you are unlucky enough to receive a massage with a synthetically fragranced cheaper mineral oil that came out of a plastic bottle, you are basically getting a mega-phthalate dose.
So should you be worrying about that?   Phthalates, sometimes called “the everywhere chemical” are known endocrine disruptors – they mimic, block or suppress normal hormone function in the body; they can affect fertility and sexual development, disrupt sexual function, aggravate the growth of hormone dependent cancers and also affect foetal development, since they cross the placenta.  Giving yourself a mega-all-over phthalate dose whilst stimulating circulation and absorption through the physical massage technique is most definitely NOT a health-enhancing move.

Does that mean just using less oil fixes the problem?  Actually no.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (2) has published specific research which suggests that combinations of various chemicals with estrogenic properties may actually have additive or even synergistic effects in the body.  Lots and lots of low doses of various chemicals bind together and add up to powerful chemical cocktails in your bloodstream. (3) 2+3 = not 5, but maybe 10.

What does all this mean?  It (thankfully!) doesn’t mean you need to forego that sensual, healing and relaxing oil massage.  Phew!  It does mean, that as a massage customer you need to ASK about what is being applied to your body during that 60-90 minutes.  It especially means you need to consider what oils you use as a massage therapist.  While your client may only receive one 60-90 minute exposure per week, as a therapist you may literally be half-covered in it for as much as half your working day, every day.

What to insist on, whether you are the client or the massage therapist?

· A good quality plant-based massage oil;
· A massage oil which is scented using only 100% natural essential oils. If the term “fragrance oil” appears on the label, it is NOT natural – this is a soft and more politically acceptable industry term for a chemically synthesized fragrance;
· A massage oil not packaged in plastic – preferably choose glass or metal containers which do not chemically react with the oil inside.
As Trayl, the massage therapist and teacher in the clip says, an oil massage is wonderfully relaxing and healing in that it provides the impetus for a shift in nerve function and gives a breathing space, if you like, for the body to begin to naturally heal and re-align itself.  All oil massages should be not only feeling good, but be health-enhancing to the body over time, regardless of how much oil you choose to use or receive.

Enjoy, share, relax, experiment with technique... and be sure to choose only natural, health-enhancing oils.

Foot-note: You can contact Trayl Aitken-Cade, the therapist and teacher featured in the clip, via his website He teaches advanced classes in Chiang Mai, Thailand at Sunshine Massage School


(1) i Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center (2005). Taking It All In: Documenting Chemical Pollution in Californians through Biomonitoring. Available online at Accessed August 19, 2008.
Environmental Working Group (2006). Across Generations: Industrial Chemicals in Mothers and Daughters: The pollution we share and inherit. Available online at Accessed August 19, 2008.
Environmental Working Group (2005). Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns. Available online at: Accessed August 19, 2008.
Environmental Working Group (2003). Body Burden: The Pollution in People. Available online at: Accessed August 19, 2008.


(3) viii Ramamoorthy K, Wang F, Chen IC, Safe S, Norris JD, McDonnell DP, Gaido KW, Bocchinfuso WP, Korach KS (1997). Potency of combined estrogenic pesticides. Science 275: 405-6.
Foster WG, Younglai EV, Boutross- Tadross O, Hughes CL, Wade MG (2004). Mammary gland morphology in Sprague-Dawley rats following treatment with an organochlorine mixture in utero and neonatal genistein. Toxicological Sciences 77: 91-100.

ix Xie L, Thrippleton K, Irwin MA, Siemering GS, Mekebri A, Crane D, Berry K, Schlenk D (2005). Evaluation of estrogenic activities of aquatic herbicides and surfactants using a rainbow trout vitellogenin assay. Toxicological Sciences 77: 91-100.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

DEET is the best choice against mosquitoes, isn't it?

Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and Dengue Fever are on the rise world-wide, from “first-world” Florida in Southern USA and Southern Australia to gorgeous tropical South East Asia, Africa, India and South America.  Yes, they make a lot of people very sick; malaria alone killed an estimated 1,238,000 people globally in 2010, according to a University of Queensland study published in the prestigious Lancet magazine.  Staggering numbers.  And that doesn’t count the number of people who just got miserably feverish and sick for months on end, nor does it account for the substantial number of deaths from Dengue Fever.  So that smart thing to do is use a proven mosquito repellent like DEET, right?  I mean, safety first, right?  Agreed, safety first.  But if you’re truly concerned about health and safety, then DEET as a choice for mosquito protection is very wrong.  Here’s why.

DEET (developed and originally manufactured by those same caring and health-conscious US army people who created Agent Orange during the Vietnam War) has been officially classified by the USFDA as a Group D carcinogen (cancer causing agent) and is believed to be an endocrine disruptor, which means it has effects on the reproductive and hormone systems in the body.  Important to note that many cancers are oestrogen dependent, so a disturbed hormone level and response in the body can contribute to the growth and development of many cancers.  DEET has been proven to be a neuro-toxin and to cause both kidney and liver damage.  It is a skin irritant and can cause scarring.  DEET is currently being studied for its contributing role in birth defects and developmental problems in children, hence it is NEVER to be used on children under 6 years of age.  DEET has been detected in ground-water around the world and is also a serious environmental contaminant. 

But the natural sprays don’t work well or, if they do, only for a little while…

For an essential oil to be effective as an insect/mosquito repellent, it has to be at a high enough concentration.  Many natural insect sprays use only 5% concentration, which is simply not enough. Why so low?  Many of the people making the product either aren’t well trained or well read, or are looking to optimize profit and/or maybe not so very interested in your long-term health.

Citronella oil is the most common ingredient in most natural insect repellent sprays, but it is also the least effective over time.  Why do most people choose to use it so much?  Because it’s relatively cheap.  Other oils like basil and clove are incredibly effective but expensive and need to be used carefully at very specific concentrations so as not to burn the skin.  And some oils like neem that are highly effective insect repellents and anti-malarials are simply not known for that purpose; for example, Thai people eat neem leaves with curry (called sadao locally) to prevent intestinal parasites but mostly don’t know about it’s wonderful medicinal uses as an oil for the skin or as an anti-malarial insect repellent.

So what evidence is there for good natural alternatives to DEET?

Field studies on the mosquito repellent action of neem oil.  Sharma SK, Dua VK, Sharma VP.  Source:  Malaria Research Center (Field Station), BHEL Complex, Ranipur, Hardwar, India.
Abstract :  Repellent action of neem oil was evaluated against different mosquito species. 2% neem oil mixed in coconut oil provided 96-100% protection from anophelines, 85% from Aedes, 37.5% from Armigeres whereas it showed wide range of efficacy from 61-94% against Culex spp. Therefore, neem oil can be applied as a personal protection measure against mosquito bites.

Phlai Essential Oil, Sweet Basil Essential Oil  The plant oil group was comprised of Phlai (Zingiber cassumunar) and Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). Both substances were effective as repellents and feeding deterrents against An. minimus (205 minutes protection time and a biting rate of 0.9%), Cx. quinquefasciatus (165 minutes protection time and 0.9% biting rate) and Ae. aegypti (90 minutes protection time and 0.8% biting rate).  Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2010 Jul ;41 (4):831-40  21073057

Citronella Essential Oil  Essential oil from citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus) exhibited protection against biting from all 3 mosquito species: for An. minimus, Cx. quinquefasciatus and Ae. aegypti, the results were 130 minutes and 0.9%, 140 minutes and 0.8%, and 115 minutes and 0.8%, respectively. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2010 Jul ;41 (4):831-40  21073057

Clove Essential Oil  In a 2005 study that compared the repellent activity of 38 different essential oils, researchers discovered that clove oil offered the longest duration of protection against all mosquito species involved in the lab experiments.

Lemongrass Essential Oil  Lemongrass oil is effective for repelling mosquitoes, according to a 2009 study conducted at Obafemi Awolowo University, which found that a preparation including lemongrass oil was as effective at repelling mosquitoes as commercially available insect repellents.

Other tips:  cover up, wear light colors and don’t drink alcohol.  It is believed the increased CO2 in perspiration from drinking alcohol and eating a high sugar diet (yes, that includes fruit) attracts mosquitoes.  Eating garlic and Vitamin B has also been shown to repel and reduce the rate of mosquito bites.   And using a fan outside during the mosquito-biting hours is smart, safe and easy – mosquitoes HATE moving air.

So if you’re serious about your long term health and safety, don’t use a DEET-based repellent, use other strategies to reduce the risk of biting, and make sure any spray you do choose is both effective and 100% natural.

Footnote:  Arun Thai Natural’s 100% Natural Insect Repellent Spray uses a neem oil concentration of 3.5% against the reported study results, which used 2%.  It also contains 5 other proven effective essential oils – basil, phlai, clove, citronella and lemongrass.  Neem oil is effective for up to 12 hours.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mineral Oil - Safe for Babies, Massaging & Me?

We assume so much when we shop. That everything on sale is safe, that things for babies are especially safe, and that big business and the government have our best interests at heart and will protect us from unscrupulous products or manufacturers. Take mineral oil, for example. I mean, they sell it for babies as “Baby Oil”, so it must be OK, mustn’t it?

Common Question: “I use baby oil sometimes for my legs as they are very dry. I am thinking maybe I should just get some almond oil or something else? I have a small bottle baby oil and have just been using it. Is it good or is it not so good? My legs seem drier after using it for a week.

And the rather complex answer?

The name mineral oil by itself is deliberately vague and sounds innocuous enough. If you try to identify the correct chemical name, you’ll learn there actually isn’t one. Other names/synonyms for mineral oil are: Paraffin oil; Heat-treating oil; Hydraulic oil; Cable oil; Lubricating oil; Oil mist, refined mineral; mineral oil mist; oil mist, mineral, severely refined; Uvasol; Paraffin oils; Mineral oil hydrocarbon solvent (petroleum); Mineral oil (saturated parrafin oil); oil, petroleum; Nujol; liquid paraffin; white mineral oil; clearteck; drakeol; hevyteck; filtrawhite; frigol; kremol; kaydol; alboline; paroleine; Saxol; adepsine oil; glymol; lignite oil; blandol white mineral oil; carnea 21; Ervol; gloria; hydrocarbon oils; peneteck; primol; triona b; blandlube; crystosol; Molol; protopet; bayol f; crystol 325; fonoline; bayol 55; kondremul; neo-cultol; oil mist; penreco; perfecta; petrogalar; primol 355; primol d; tech pet f; Petroleum hydrocarbons; jute batching oil; paraffin oil (class); petrolatum, liquid; white oil; Mineral oil, aromatic; Mineral oil, paraffinic; Mineral Seal Oil; Electrical Insulating Oil; OIL MIST, MINERAL (MINERAL OIL)

Now that’s reassuring and all very natural-sounding, isn’t it? Especially when you consider that mineral oil is the primary ingredient for a number of leading brands of “natural” cosmetics. Not to mention baby products.

So what do the people who sell it have to say? The statement on the website of a major petroleum oil product supplier: “Pharmaceutical white oils are generally recognized as safe. The products are not known to have any allergenic, skin irritation or toxic side effects.” Do you believe that? If I buy a 50kg drum of “white oil” here in Thailand from the chemical supplier, it comes complete with a Hazchem warning, reminding me to use it in a well-ventilated space (it can cause and trigger asthma) and cautioning me that it cause skin dryness and irritation.

Negative Effects of Mineral Oil in Skin Care

A liquid produced by the distillation of petroleum, mineral oil is odorless, tasteless and inexpensive. It is a common ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams, ointments and cosmetics. Its slippery quality helps products spread easily across the skin; however, the Environmental Working Group lists mineral oil as a potential hazard due to its link to skin irritation, allergic reaction and cancer.

Stops skin “breathing” naturally.

Mineral oil coasts the skin with an impermeable layer that inhibits the skin's natural ability to breathe. Although product manufacturers claim that this helps locks moisture in the skin, opponents of mineral oil caution that this film interferes with the skin's ability to eliminate toxins through sweat. Mineral oil can also block pores and cause acne, potentially leading to long-term scarring. According to, this effect also prevents the absorption of any healthful ingredients in your moisturizers or skin treatment products.

Accelerates Drying.

Because mineral oil pulls moisture away from the skin, it can contribute to dry skin and chapping, even though it is sold to alleviate these skin conditions. According to Positive Health Online, this effect also robs newly formed cells of moisture, which interferes with normal cell development, slowing down the cell renewal rate and contributing to premature aging of the skin. While the sun is the number one cause of skin damage and premature aging, skin care products with mineral oil aren't helpful and may contribute to the damage.

Causes Skin Rashes.

According to, common side effects of mineral oil and petroleum jelly include mild itching, burning, stinging or dry skin. Severe side effects, in those who are allergic, may include rash, hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, mouth or tongue.

Linked to Cancer. 

According to the National Toxicology Program, unrefined or mildly refined mineral oil is a known carcinogen due to the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which naturally occur in coal and petroleum. PAHs have been linked to various cancers, including scrotal, gastrointestinal, sinonasal, bladder and lung cancer. (reference 5) Mineral oil used for cosmetic purposes is highly refined to remove PAHs, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that some over-the-counter products containing mineral oil now display a warning label. Consumer advocacy groups such as the Environmental Working Group advise exercising caution when using products containing mineral oil until more conclusive research is available.

And why is that research not being conducted? Start looking around and reading labels and you will find mineral oil is in the vast majority of all cosmetics, soaps and personal care products. Why? It’s cheap. Let’s just delicately say that the political will is simply not there to conduct research that would jeopardize the profits of the big players in the cosmetic and personal care product business.

The conclusion? If your health matters to you, choose only personal care products using natural plant-based oils. Read widely and make good, environmentally sustainable choices when you shop.


Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database: Mineral Oil
Positive Health Online: Mineral Oil Petroleum Derivative in Beauty Products Traditional Tanning Oils Contain Harsh Chemicals and Potentially Dangerous Ingredients Mineral Oil Side Effects
National Toxicology Program: Substance Profiles: Mineral Oil

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Yellow Means...?

Q: My Thai Herbal Massage Balls have arrived looking very yellow on the cloth part.  They smell great but are they OK to use and to on-sell?  

A:  A traditional, well-made Thai Herbal Massage Ball should have Phlai in it – yellow Phlai – botanically known as Zingiber cassumunar Roxb.  It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic Thai root herb, which clinical studies (1)  have shown to be as effective, if not more effective, than NSAID drugs.  It improves blood circulation, helps to relive pain, reduces inflammation and bruising, and assists rapid natural healing.

After it is harvested, the washed Phlai root is cut into very thin slices and usually sun-dried, and then used as a Thai Herbal Massage Ball ingredient in its dry form.  Like all natural things, Phlai varies according to the time of year, growing season and conditions, soil quality and the way it is dried.  If it is over-dried, old or of inferior quality, it is hard, brown and has little fragrance.  Premium quality Phlai that is well dried (but not baked for eons in the blistering sun) retains its unique essential oils which makes it more effective as a healing herb, more fragrant and, well, more yellow.
When you use Thai Herbal Massage Balls often, you begin to appreciate that the size of the dried herb bits inside also matters and affects the quality of the treatment.  Overly large pieces of dried root herbs (like Phlai) stay hard even after they are steamed.  If the masseur applies substantial pressure or uses some of the more creative twisting moves in the treatment, then the big, hard pieces of herb can push through and hurt the client’s sensitive skin, and sometimes even tear the cloth that the ball itself is made of.  To avoid this, Arun Thai Natural has developed a system where we firstly weigh off the dried mixed herbs and loosely tie them into the square of cloth.  We then use a heavy wooden stick (from the big Thai mortar and pestles that they use for somtum, but not unlike a policeman’s truncheon) to literally beat the parcel of herbs. Each little ready-to-go parcel of mixed herbs is beaten to help eliminate any hard or sharp pieces of dry herb, and to make the herbs inside the ball as small as possible.  With more surface area of the herb exposed to the steam, the herbal ball releases more of its wonderful healing juices.  And that’s goodreally good.  Once the parcel of herbs has been beaten (maybe 6-8 times on each side) it’s then expertly tied into the Thai Herbal Massage Ball as you know it.  If the Phlai is of a high quality and the beating has broken up the biggish pieces, then yes, sometimes the Phlai continues to release its healing essential oils and that can sometimes stain the outer cover of the ball.
So, in short, any yellow staining on the cloth cover of your Thai Herbal Massage Balls is like a stamp or seal of quality.  It shows we choose fresh and optimal herbs and are not passing off last year’s old herbal dregs to you.  It shows the herbs inside have been beaten to minimize their size – that improves both the quality of the herbal mix released and the sensory experience for your client.  Once you wet and steam the Thai herbal Massage Ball, the whole cloth cover becomes an interesting herbally-yellow colour and smells divine.  Always remember to wipe your client carefully with a towel after the treatment to prevent staining of their clothes, and make a mental note not to use white towels in your massage clinic.  

If you have more questions about Thai Herbal Massage Balls, Arun Thai Natural has a 27 minute instructional DVD available from which explains most things you will need to know, or you can email or post in the comments below.   If you are in Chiang Mai, please come and join in our Herbal Ball, Hands On class – a weekly 3-hour practical session that takes you through all the steps of choosing and using Thai Herbal Massage Balls, with a hands-on practice session

 (1) “Studies on Safety and Efficacy of Phlai Gel.” By Warunee Hanpithakpong.  Faculty of Graduate Studies Mahidol University, Thailand.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quality Touch for Beautiful Skin

Close your eyes for a moment and remember the last time someone reached out to simply hold you – maybe with a little half-smile and a hint of sensuality, to support and encourage you and maybe just because it felt really nice… no agenda.  (* NB if you can’t remember or have never had this, it’s time to start changing the people you hang out with!).  Feel that lovely moment of surrender and enjoyment again.  Now, Recall #2.  Try to remember the last time someone rudely grabbed your arm or shook your shoulder roughly to get your attention.  Or jabbed you hard in the ribs.  Or maybe they just shouted at you.  Feel the difference in the way your whole being responds between the first interaction and the second.  The first interaction makes you almost want to draw the person in through the pores of your skin to bring them closer, whereas in the second interaction you bristle so fast that you energetically repel them and probably snap back.
Now I want you to honestly consider how you approach your skin. Do you slap products on to your skin determinedly and forcefully to try to make it conform to an ideal of beauty?  Do you bully it?  A hurried 5 mins given begrudgingly cos you need results fast?  Mutter at your zits, wrinkles or stray hairs crossly in the mirror?  Or do you quietly give your skin a gentle and grateful touch when you use your products and clean your body?

Or maybe you’re a massage or spa therapist.  Do you give mindful and generous touch when you massage, or are you busy thinking about sen lines, thumb pressure, the overdue phone bill or, Goddess forbid, what’s for lunch.  Be honest.

Every cell in your body is alive and responds to energy, to touch.  The way you touch skin changes the way it receives not only the healing touch but also the product you apply.

Now imagine you have an innocent 11 month old baby hungrily awaiting her dinner in her high chair.  Gurgling and banging the spoon in that oh-so-cute way.  Imagine yourself feeding her some wholesome food prepared with love, ever-so-mild and nutritious.  Delicious but gentle.  Baby gurgles, dribbles, smiles, receives and digests your lovingly prepared meal.  Everybody happy.  Or take #2.  You smile and coo and then gently spoon into baby’s mouth some strong flavoured, ultra spicy food that burns her mouth and makes her cry, or some tuna that’s really for cats but it was cheap and seems OK and the cat doesn’t have a problem with it so why should baby?  You wouldn’t do that, would you? 

The relationship between the quality of the touch skin receives and the products we choose to use IS really important. 

It doesn’t matter how delightful or natural the body or face care product is, if it is slapped on hurriedly, begrudged or resented.  If the touch is rough, uncomfortable and perfunctory, the cells of the body literally recoil.  It doesn’t matter how expensive the massage oil or how many lovely essential oils it contains, if it is applied without mindfulness, generosity or care.  Conversely, the best technical massage in the world is flawed if you’re using products known to cause skin irritations, which contain harmful petrochemicals or which contain artificial fragrances which are publicly documented to be seriously harmful to long-term health but allowed under lax labeling laws.

Good natural skin health – for ourselves, our clients and our customers – requires us to consider this complex relationship between the quality of the touch and the nature of the product. 

So now take yourself back to where we started – to that gentle, supportive embrace that is so wonderful to receive.  Remember it again and savor it for a moment.  When next you think skin care for yourself, for clients or for massage, think natural and try to recreate that feeling.  Do no harm with your skin care and massage products - to the environment or to the body which will receive it.  And learn to give yourself over completely to the experience of quality touch, whether it’s 5 mins in the privacy of your bathroom or during that slightly-rushed-pre-lunch massage that you need to deliver. 

Enjoy the vibrant health and glowing skin that mindful touch combined with simple, effective and natural products brings.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Anti-Aging or Radiant Natural Health?

I can’t help it – the very phrase “anti-aging” makes me cringe inwardly.  As if someone is trying to run away from life and its consequences. I immediately think of people agonizing in front of mirrors, being unhappy, having painful surgeries, botox, chemical peels… you name it… to look, err, tight. Forced, even, like a rose pushed through a commercial hothouse but disappointingly lacking in fragrance.  I then think of young and beautiful friends who have passed away tragically and who would probably have given anything to be able to worry about sunspots, wrinkles and crowsfeet. 

This anti-aging cringe thing I have is a professional liability, since I make and sell natural things for people’s bodies and skin, and the very phrase “anti-aging” makes a whole lot of people reach for their purses and credit cards without even thinking.  So why don’t I simply push my scruples out of the way and settle into entrepreneurial anti-aging bliss?
Well, you see, most “anti-aging” products contain things that should make you worry.  Things with poly-syllabic chemical names that are unpronounceable and which, if I were to buy them at the wholesale chemical place here in Thailand, would come with safety and hazard warnings.  Chemicals that are well documented to not only irritate and dry skin and cause all manner of physical problems from depression to asthma, but which also accumulate in your blood and vital organs and impede your immune system.  In short, over time and with repeated usage, they make you sick.  Do they make you glow with health and vitality and make your gorgeous?  Almost never.

Conversely, if you focus on your natural and radiant health, the outcome is almost always (often by accident, as an unexpected by-product!) that you start to glow with that special something that people love.  If you forget about the way you look and just go for a run, take a yoga class, laugh in the kitchen with your lover or maybe sleep in the moonlight…. *something* happens.  You stop worrying and stressing.  You discover that instead of the $60 pot of chemical-cocktail-night-cream that the $8 bottle of natural oil actually works better.  You decide to spend the other $52 on a new skirt and it makes you feel great.  It makes you smile.  You find your yoga class is fun and you decide you’re worth the time to do it, and in that new freedom you smile more and that simply helps people to engage with you.  You start thinking more about what you eat, you sleep better and all of that makes you look 10 years younger.  You talk to the lady who falls over all the time at the yoga class and hear her story about her long term illness and her struggle to walk well, and suddenly you don’t care about the smile lines around your eyes so much – in fact, you start to feel rather proud of them.  The more you focus on your natural, radiant health, the younger and more beautiful you look and feel to the people around you.  You ooze energy and creativity.  People smile when they see you.
Next time you see someone plugging expensive “anti-aging” products, stop and think and read the product label.  Ask about the ingredients. Then spend an hour on Google and be prepared to be shocked.  Ask yourself if you really want to bombard your body with dangerous, toxic chemicals for the transitory dream of looking younger (if indeed it even works).   Look at the massive monetary and physical costs involved in these “anti-aging” products and ask yourself if simple, natural health might not be a better path to choose.

Ironically, a healthier, happier you will look more gorgeous and probably even a bit younger, but you’ll possibly be too engrossed in new things and the great people around you to care.
In loving memory of Steph, who shared Ward 3B with me many years ago and helped me make it positively rock with laughter until even the nurses frowned and fussed over drips and pain management implements.  Beautiful Steph died at the age of 17, only 3 weeks after being diagnosed with a melanoma on her back.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Essential Oils Can Make Me More Beautiful?

Essential oils are about smell, aren’t they? Natural healing aromas from Mother Earth.  Sure they can help you relax, sleep better, feel less nauseous, boost your mood.  But that’s not “beauty” – I want to LOOK good as well as feel good and be well.  That’s mostly how the masses think about essential oils – a fragrant add-on to the way we feel and experience health, but not relevant to beauty or looks.  Actually, that thinking is quite wrong.

Did you know essential oils work and have therapeutic benefit even when you can’t smell them? A 2009 study on rose oil deprived subjects of their sense of smell and applied the essential oil directly to the skin only.  Even without all the gorgeous memories and associations with the divine smell of blooming summer roses, the measured relaxation effect on the test group (as opposed to the clinical control group) was significant. (1) 

So, essential oils are not really about smell per se at all, and effective even when we’re not blissing out on their magnificent natural aromas.  What are those benefits and how do they contribute to beauty and the way I look? 

Essential oils trigger parts of the brain and limbic system that contribute to relaxation, better sleep, improved mood, better blood circulation, improved immune response and optimal hormonal function.  Better sleep equals less sags and bags and optimal production of human growth hormone for cell repair and healthy new skin.  Improved mood means less frown lines and sags around the mouth, and more smile lines (which are gorgeous!).  Better blood flow means better waste removal, better detox and improved oxygenation of the tissue cells and skin, which helps to give that hard-to-define “radiant glow” that truly beautiful people have.  Reduced stress and improved relaxation leads to an overall letting go in the body, face, jaw and shoulders, which leads to softer muscles and better movement of blood.  Improved hormonal function directly leads to less blemishes, better mood, more smiles and yes, even more love-making (and that makes everyone look and feel more beautiful too!).  And improved immune response keeps us well – we all know that looking and feeling sick does NOT make us beautiful.

Think for a moment of the most aggressive, stressed out, sleep deprived person you know: all frown lines, pursed lips, locked jaw and tight.  Not beautiful.  When the myriad of tiny muscles of the face are contracted through stress, worry or anger, the skin pulls differently and blood flow is constricted, which in turn impedes natural skin detox and leads to blemishes, pallor and a loss of skin elasticity.  Consider that prolonged stress makes it harder to sleep and, in time, will make us sick.
Using essential oils as part of your daily health and body care routine contributes to the way you feel, look and to your natural beauty.  You don’t have to sit hovering next to an oil vaporizer to achieve this – I mean, who has time for that?  You can use natural body oils blended with essential oils as part of your daily after-shower or before-bed routine – gorgeous silky smooth skin as well as an essential oil health treatment.  You can spritz on essential oils in natural sprays during the day or just whenever you need a “boost”.  You can plan for a hot herbal ball treatment after a great massage – as the hot herbs release their healing benefits to your muscles through the essential oils they release, your whole being will respond.  You could even simply add a few drops of essential oil to a handkerchief and put in your clothes drawer or cupboard – that way even hurrying to dress for work is taking care of yourself.
Be aware that products containing essential oils must contain ONLY essential oils and not additional synthetic substances or fragrances – these synthetic additives are incredibly harmful to your health (read Essential Oil + Fragrance = Something Stinks! to understand this issue better).
Celebrate the magnificent essential oils Mother Earth has blessed us with and indulge yourself daily for not only better health, but for a soft, radiant, natural beauty that shines like nothing you can ever buy in a bottle.
1Hongratanaworakit, T. Relaxing effect of rose oil on humans. Natural Product Communications, 4(2), 291-6.