Pennyroyal Oil

Pennyroyal flower

Pennyroyal oil (Mentha pulegium)

Despite serious safety concerns, pennyroyal is used for the common cold, pneumonia, fatigue, ending a pregnancy (abortion), and as an insect repellant.

In manufacturing, pennyroyal oil is used as a dog and cat flea repellent, and as a fragrance for detergents, perfumes, and soaps.

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Origin of Pennyroyal Oil

Pennyroyal is a perennial herb that grows up to 50cm (20 in) tall with smooth roundish stalks and aromatic, gray-green oval leaves. Lilac flowers are produced in distinct whorls in late summer and autumn. The plant has a fibrous creeping root.

It is a herbal remedy of ancient repute, and was used to purify the blood, for digestive and menstrual problems and feverish colds. It also has a deserved reputation as an insect repellent.

It is indeed a wonder why such a poisonous plant or oil has been in use as a folk medicine from ancient times. Although it is also true that most of the medicines (particularly in homeopathy) are based on poisons collected from plants and animals. It is the accuracy in the number of doses, frequency of administration, and diagnosis of a disease that their use as a medicine depends upon.

Other Names: Mentha pulegium, commonly (European) pennyroyal, also called squaw mint, mosquito plant and pudding grass.

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Extraction: Pennyroyal oil is extracted from the fresh herb or slightly dried herb by steam distillation.

Chemical composition: The main chemical components of pennyroyal oil are pulegone, menthone, iso-menthone and neomenthone.

Blends well with: citronella, geranium, lavandin, rosemary, and sage.

By Raffi Kojian – http://Gardenology.org, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12734737

Uses for Pennyroyal Essential Oil

The health benefits of pennyroyal essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antimicrobial, anti-bacterial, antirheumatic, antiarthritic, antiseptic, astringent, cordial, decongestant, depurative, digestive, emmenagogue, insecticide and stomachic substance.

Abortifacient: pennyroyal’s use as an emmenagogue and abortifacient is from ancient times. However, its action as an abortifacient was linked to its toxicity. The amount required for abortion also endangered the pregnant woman’s life.

Antimicrobial & Antibacterial: The antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of pennyroyal oil are the results of its toxicity. Even in trace quantities (mere parts per million) this poisonous oil is deadly to microscopic living beings (microbes). Even a few milliliters can cause death to a human. It kills microbes and bacteria and protects us from the infections caused by them. It also exhibits antifungal activity.

Antirheumatic & Antiarthritic: Being a depurative, it promotes the removal of toxins like uric acid from the body, thereby eliminating the biggest cause of rheumatism. Anesthetic effect on the nerves also helps withstand the pain of rheumatism and arthritis. Its cordial or warming effect heats up the affected area and gives a more comfortable feeling. Finally, its stimulating effect on blood circulation increases blood flow to important organ systems, bringing warmth to the affected places.

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Antiseptic: Wounds and internal organs, particularly the urinary tract, urethra, kidneys, and uterus may become septic due to infection by the germs. The highly poisonous nature of the pennyroyal oil makes it an antiseptic since it kills the germs or bacteria that cause sepsis. However, this oil should be used in very mild doses, as it is highly poisonous and an irritant.

Astringent: Traditionally, this oil is used as a gum strengthener, which is probably due to its astringent properties. This makes the gums contract and tighten their grip on the teeth. The effects of its astringency can also be felt on other parts of the body since it induces muscle contraction, pulls up loose hanging skin, gives the face a lift, strengthens hair roots, and helps stop hemorrhaging by contracting the blood vessels.

Cordial: Due to its stimulating property, the essential oil of Penny Royal increases blood circulation, which in turn warms up the whole body, thus behaving as a cordial. This warming effect gives relief from feelings of cold that often result from a fever.

Decongestant: The toxicity of this oil makes it an antiviral and fights infections in the lungs. This also loosens the phlegm and catarrh deposition in the lungs and the respiratory tracts, as well as promoting their expectoration. This way, it behaves as a decongestant for the lungs and respiratory tracts.

Depurative: There are certain reports that say that this oil can be used as a depurative, that is, a blood purifier. Certain components of this oil may help neutralize the toxins in the blood. Since it promotes blood circulation, it also helps proper mixing of fresh oxygen with the blood. In this way, it can purify the blood and keep the organs and cells properly oxygenated. An animal study found that pennyroyal essential oil increased hemoglobin, white and red blood cells, but did not have any effect on other blood indices. The increase in white blood cells indicates that it can strengthen the immune system.

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Digestive: In an animal study published in 2018, it was found that pennyroyal essential oil improved performance, organ weight, serum lipids and intestinal morphology. It increased nutrient absorption in the intestines. Pennyroyal is been in used in folk medicine to facilitate digestion. This property is also reportedly present in its essential oil and it promotes digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices.

Emmenagogue: Pennyroyal essential oil is sometimes used in herbal medicine as an emmenagogue. It is believed to open blocked and delayed menstruation cycles. The resultant stimulation of certain hormones like estrogen and progesterone makes the cycle more regular. However, there is little scientific evidence to support this.

Insecticide: this oil is toxic to humans and to other animals, it is toxic to insects as well. It is a very efficient insect killer and is highly effective if used in fumigants, sprays, and vaporizers. Insects also try to stay away from this oil. This oil is highly praised and reputed as an insect repellant. An experiment undertaken to study the acaricidal effects of different herb essential oils found that the pennyroyal derivative was the most effective.

Stomachic: Used in extremely low doses, this oil can cure stomach problems and can settle the stomach. It cures infections in the stomach, helps maintain the acid-base balance in the stomach by stimulating secretion of acids and bile into the stomach, and soothes inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract.

Word of Caution

This oil is highly poisonous to humans and other animals. Ingestion in even small doses can cause death. It is a strong abortifacient as well, and should, therefore, be strictly avoided during pregnancy. It is not used in aromatherapy, as inhalation in small quantities can seriously damage the lungs, the respiratory tracts, and the liver. Utilized in extremely high dilutions to treat ailments topically is recommended only with the support of a certified Aromatherapist. Furthermore, although several medicinal properties of this oil have been discussed above, most of them are reported to have been in use traditionally and their authenticity is not guaranteed.

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Pennyroyal oil is UNSAFE. It can cause serious liver and kidney damage, as well as nervous system damage. Other side effects include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, burning of the throat, fever, confusion, restlessness, seizures, dizziness, vision and hearing problems, high blood pressure, lung failure, and death.

When applied to the skin: Pennyroyal oil is UNSAFE when applied to the skin undiluted. 0.05% maximum dilutions are recommended.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is UNSAFE to take pennyroyal by mouth or apply it to your skin when pregnant or breast-feeding. There is some evidence that pennyroyal oil can cause abortions by causing the uterus to contract. But the dose needed in order to cause an abortion could kill the mother or cause life-long kidney and liver damage.

Children: It is UNSAFE to give children pennyroyal by mouth. Infants have developed serious liver and nervous system injuries, or even death, after taking pennyroyal.

Kidney disease: The oil in pennyroyal can damage the kidney and make existing kidney disease worse.

Liver disease: The oil in pennyroyal can cause liver damage and might make existing liver disease worse.

Pennyroyal tea.

References:

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-480/pennyroyal

https://essentialoils.co.za/essential-oils/pennyroyal.htm

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-penny-royal-essential-oil.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha_pulegium

https://www.poison.org/articles/2016-mar/pennyroyal-oil

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2532629

https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780443062414/essential-oil-safety

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287343314_Effect_of_pennyroyal_Mentha_pulegium_extract_on_blood_parameters_in_mice

https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/8928306

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00881

Patchouli Oil

Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=875908

Patchouli oil (Pogostemom cablin)

Patchouli oil’s aroma can be an acquired taste. Not everyone loves the smell of ‘deodorized hippie’, as my Grandmother once said. Even though it can be overpowering, this oil is not something you should avoid. The benefits greatly outweigh the smell, especially when it is diluted and blended with other oils.

Patchouli essential oil is steam distilled from the dried leaves of the plant. It has a deep, earthy and woodsy scent. The oil is thick and dark brown in color.

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Major Constituents of Indonesian Patchouli Oil: Patchouli Alcohol, a-Bulnesene, a-Guaiene, Seychellen, Gamma-Patchoulene, a-Patchoulene, β-patchoulene, α-bulnesene, seychellene, norpatchoulenol, pogostone, eugenol and pogostol.

Blending: Patchouli essential oil blends well with essential oils of bergamot, clary sage, geranium, lavender, and myrrh.

By Itineranttrader – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6029650

Patchouli Essential Oil Uses: Acne, Athlete’s Foot, Candida, Chapped Skin, Dandruff, Depression, Dermatitis, Eczema, Fatigue, Fever, Frigidity, Hair Care, Infection, Inflammation, Insect Repellent, Mature Skin, Oily Skin and Stress.

Patchouli essential oil can be a great alternative if you are allergic to lavender or chamomile essential oils.

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In traditional medicinal practices, it is used to treat colds, headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, insect and snake bites. In aromatherapy, patchouli oil is used to relieve depression, stress, calm nerves, control appetite and to improve sexual interest.

Modern studies have revealed several biological activities such as antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet, antithrombotic, aphrodisiac, antidepressant, antimutagenic, antiemetic, digestive, fibrinolytic and cytotoxic activities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Pogostemon cablin is a medicinal herb commonly used for treating gastrointestinal symptoms, including colds, headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, dyspepsia, and poor appetite.

Benefits of Using Patchouli Essential Oil

Anticancer: In 2013, researchers performed an in vitro study to investigate whether patchouli oil affects an increase and infection of human colorectal (colon and rectum) cancer cells and define its potential molecular mechanisms. The data found that patchouli oil suppressed cell growth and induced apoptosis, which means that the cells were no longer a threat. In addition, the patchouli oil reduced enzyme activity — the reactions that cancer can have on the body. These surprising and optimistic findings suggest that patchouli oil exerts an anti-cancer activity by decreasing cell growth and increasing apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells.

Antidepressant: the impact that inhaling patchouli oil has on our hormones, it encourages the release of serotonin and dopamine; these hormones ease feelings of anger, anxiety and anxiousness.

Anti-inflammatory: Patchouli oil has antiphlogistic properties, which means that it has the power to soothe inflammation in the body. With inflammation at the root of most disease, patchouli oil can address internal inflammation and such conditions as arthritis and gout, and deal with external inflammation that can be present in skin infections or irritations.

Antiseptic: it protects cuts or sores on the skin from becoming infected. It also kills fungus, so it can help if you are battling athlete’s foot or another fungal infection. Simply rub 2–3 drops of diluted patchouli oil on the infected area or make yourself a warm bath with 5–10 drops of this infection preventing oil.

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Deodorant: it can be used to mask body odor naturally. It also kills germs and fights fungus, so it’s makes a great natural home deodorizer for any infected area.

Digestive Tonic: helps to tone your liver, stomach and intestines. This increases your ability to decompose food and absorb nutrients properly, so it impacts your digestive system. Because of these metabolic benefits, patchouli oil will give you more energy and help your body to function properly.

Diuretic: increases the frequency of urination, and this can be beneficial to your health in several ways: You are removing excess salt, water and uric acid, which is good for your gallbladder, kidneys and liver.

Hormone Support: has the power to stimulate hormones and increase your libido or sex drive. It can be considered as one of the natural remedies for impotency and erectile dysfunction. Used as an aphrodisiac for years, patchouli oil boosts your testosterone and estrogen levels, and this can have a huge impact on your intimate relationships.

Insomnia: as a sedative, it helps to treat insomnia; it helps to put your mind and body at ease and allows you to rest peacefully.

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Repellent: it will repel mosquitoes, fleas, ants, lice, moths and flies. You can use patchouli oil outside while you are gardening or dining in the backyard, or you can use it inside — especially if you are battling bed bugs or lice; try adding patchouli oil to your laundry detergent or burn five drops of the oil in an oil burner.

Skin Care: regenerates new skin cells, and this keeps the skin looking young, healthy and vibrant. It is also great for all skin types — dry, cracked skin and oily or acne-prone skin; you will see the healing and germ-fighting benefits of this oil either way. Because of its quick-healing properties, patchouli oil minimizes the look of scars or marks that are left from acne, wounds, measles, pox or boils. You can even heal bug bites with this powerful essential oil.

Recipes

Homemade Bug Spray

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup witch hazel

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

40 drops of patchouli essential oil

Glass spray bottle

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients in 8-ounce spray bottle.

Spray over all portions of the body but avoid repellent in eyes and mouth.

Homemade Anti-Aging Serum

INGREDIENTS:

½ tablespoon jojoba oil

½ tablespoon evening primrose Oil

½ tablespoon pomegranate oil

15 drops vitamin E

20 drops lavender oil or frankincense oil

10 drops carrot seed oil

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together into a dark glass bottle. Use every morning and night on face, neck and chest.

Homemade Men’s Cologne

INGREDIENTS:

5 drops cedarwood essential oil

3 drops bergamot essential oil

2 drops sandalwood essential oil

8 ounces (300ml) 70 percent alcohol or vodka

Glass roll on tube or glass cologne spray bottle

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and store in a bottle.

Dab on as needed.

Risks of Using Patchouli Essential Oil

Patchouli oil does not often elicit irritation or an allergic response when applied to the skin. But you should still be careful when initially applying it in case a reaction occurs. Never apply undiluted patchouli essential oil to the skin.

Because patchouli oil can affect blood clotting, the following people should avoid using patchouli oil:

  • those taking blood-thinning medication
  • individuals who have recently had or will be undergoing major surgery.
  • those with bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia

As always, it’s important to remember that essential oils are very concentrated and should be properly diluted before using on the skin or for aromatherapy. Never eat or drink any essential oil without first consulting a qualified medical professional.

References:

https://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/patchouli-oil.asp

http://www.aromatalk.com/aromatalk/2009/08/growing-patchouli.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/patchouli-oil#1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patchouli

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6272783

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6812344

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23602914

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20628993

Divinity Oil

Mother Jai’s Pure Divinity Oil

This oil blend is purely divine with historically healing oils including Frankincense, Myrrh, Sandalwood, Jasmine and Ylang Ylang. This blend smells divine and is amazing for balancing hormones and alleviating depression. Use it as a full body moisturizer or natural perfume.

Frankincense: is used by either inhaling the oil or absorbing it through the skin, usually mixed with a carrier oil, such sunflower oil. It’s believed that the oil transmits messages to the limbic system of the brain, which is known to influence the nervous system. A little bit of oil goes a long way; it should not be ingested in large quantities as it can be toxic.

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The health benefits of frankincense essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, cytophylactic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative, tonic, uterine, and a vulnerary substance. Frankincense oil relieves pain associated with rheumatism and arthritis. It helps to heal boils, infected wounds, acne, circulatory problems, insomnia, and various types of inflammation as well.

Jasmine: also known as the “Queen of the Night” or “King of Oils” is a highly intoxicating plant. Its strong, heavy yet sweet scent has been used for years to invoke love and happiness.

The health benefits of jasmine essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antidepressant, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, cicatrisant, expectorant, galactagogue, emmenagogue, parturient, sedative, and a uterine substance.

Myrrh: Myrrh is a sap-like substance (resin) that comes out of cuts in the bark of trees that are members of the Commiphora species. It is familiar to many as one of the traditional resinous gifts mentioned in the Bible. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional healing therapies and in religious ceremonies. Its amber scent creates a warm, calming environment. The oil is often used during meditation to create a relaxing and uplifting atmosphere.

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Myrrh is commonly used for indigestion, ulcers, colds, cough, asthma, lung congestion, arthritis pain, cancer, leprosy, spasms, and syphilis. It is also used as a stimulant and to increase menstrual flow. Applied directly to the mouth for soreness and swelling, inflamed gums (gingivitis), loose teeth, canker sores, bad breath, and chapped lips. It is also used topically for hemorrhoids, bedsores, wounds, abrasions, and boils.

Sandalwood: commonly known for its woodsy, sweet smell. It is frequently used as a base for products such as incense, perfumes, cosmetics and aftershave. It also easily blends well with other oils. Sandalwood essential oil helps users to achieve more clarity and calmness due to its extensive therapeutic benefits. This special essential oil can also have an effect on overall well-being and mental health, along with many other surprising healing properties.

Sandalwood oil has a classic scent and a very interesting agglomeration of benefits. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiphlogistic, antispasmodic, astringent, cicatrisant, carminative, diuretic, disinfectant, emollient, expectorant, and hypotensive properties. Sandalwood essential oil is a great memory booster, sedative, and tonic.

Ylang Ylang: (Cananga odorata) essential oil comes from flower petals of the large, tropical ylang ylang tree. Ylang ylang actually means “flower of flowers” and was given this name because of its sweet, floral scent. In fact, you can recognize ylang ylang’s smell as one of the key ingredients used in the legendary perfume Chanel No. 5.

Research shows that this oil has positive effects on immune health, blood flow and emotions, making it a natural remedy for the endocrine, cardiovascular, reproductive and digestive systems.

So as you see Mother Jai’s Divinity Oil is an amazing blend that smells wonderful and provides the body with a multitude of nourishing and healing compounds. Get your bottle below.

Passionflower

Passionflower leaf dried (Passiflora incarnata L.)

With a name like passionflower, it can only be something kind, gentle and calming from nature. While that doesn’t hold true for all sweet names, it does hold true for the passionflower, a wildflower of striking beauty that produces a fleshy fruit. There are many passion flower benefits — it may help reduce and possibly eliminate insomnia, anxiety, inflammation from skin irritations and burns, menopause, ADHD and even more serious conditions such as seizures, high blood pressure and asthma, just to name a few.

Passionflower is a plant in which the parts of the plant above the ground are used, in different forms, to provide natural healing purposes and food flavoring. You may have heard of passionflower tea or passionflower extract — and it’s also found as infusions, teas, liquid extracts and tinctures.

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It’s common to see passionflower combined with other calming herbs such as valerian root and lemon balm, chamomile, hops, kava and skullcap.

A perennial, climbing vine, passionflower is typically grown in Europe but is native to the southeastern parts of America. Common names are maypop, apricot vine, passion vine and passiflore.

Benefits of Passionflower

Passionflower is used for stress reduction, calming without sedation, and overcoming insomnia when combined with other calming herbs such as valerian and lemon balm.

May Help Reduce the Effects of Menopause, Including Hot Flashes & Depression: Menopause is associated with feeling of anxiety and depression, which is often caused by low levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a chemical in the brain. Hormone therapy that relies on modern medicine can create a lot of unwanted side effects. Studies have been conducted that show that passionflower can treat menopausal symptoms such as vasomotor signs (hot flashes and night sweats), insomnia, depression, anger, headaches, and may be a great alternative to conventional hormone therapy.

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Women are seeking natural remedies more and more, and passionflower may help by increasing the levels of GABA. When the levels of GABA are increased, it helps to decrease the activity of some of those depression-inducing brain cells. The alkaloids in passionflower may prevent the production of monoamine oxidase, which is exactly what anti-depressant medication tries to do. Studies have shown that it may reduce depression, a common problem for women in menopause.

Another study showed that passionflower may reduce those annoying hot flashes! The study conducted used various herbal remedies, and the results showed that anise, licorice, black cohosh, red clover, evening primrose, flaxseed, St. John’s wort, valerian and passion flower may alleviate hot flashes in those that are menopausal as well as those that are premenopausal.

Lower Blood Pressure: The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry conducted a research study dosing with 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight using passionflower skin extract. The study found that blood pressure levels were significantly reduced, likely due to the GABA-promoting properties of the extract.

Additional studies that have been published indicating passionflower fruit pulp as a remedy for reducing systolic blood pressure by administering 8 milligrams of passionflower for a period of 5 days. The results indicated that passionflower extract increased levels of an antioxidant enzyme and decreased levels of oxidized lipids that can cause damage from the accumulation of toxins and waste products in the body.

Reduce Anxiety: Passionflower may be helpful in reducing anxiety and has long been known as a folk remedy. It’s believed that certain compounds found in passionflower may interact with some receptors in the brain provoking relaxation. Because passion increases GABA, the activity of some brain cells that may be causing anxiety is lowered and makes you feel more relaxed. Studies suggest that passionflower extracts may even have mild anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure benefits.

A study was performed for four weeks on 36 out-patients that were diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The results indicated that passionflower extract was an effective treatment for managing the anxiety and did not negatively affect job performance unlike the synthetic therapy.

Studies suggest that passionflower may reduce anxiety in patients undergoing surgery. Another study found that passionflower had similar affects as an anti-anxiety medication in reducing general anxiety. The properties in passionflower are thought to promote calming effects by increasing the levels of the chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which reduces the activity of some neurons that cause anxiety.

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Addresses ADHD Symptoms: ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) seems to be an ongoing concern for many parents, and sadly, conventional drugs such as Adderall can cause many unwanted side effects. ADHD is a disorder of the brain which manifests in symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that interfere with a child’s development or daily activities.

The good news is that a survey showed parents opting for alternative ADHD treatments more and more, with nutritional therapies being at the top of the remedy list. Herbs such as Roman chamomile, valerian, lemon balm and passionflower have been noted as possible treatments, though it’s always important to check with your physician first since some may cause allergic reactions. Tests were conducted using the Conner’s parent ratings to see if essential oils could be effective. The results indicate that ADHD symptoms did improve after the use of essential oils.

Improves Your Sleep: Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body, and we all love a good night’s sleep! Studies were conducted of patients who had problems sleeping. The study, focusing on patients with bipolar disorder, tested various natural herbal medicines to include passionflower, and the results showed an improvement in sleep, maybe by reducing anxiety.

Reduces Inflammation: Passionflower may reduce disease-causing inflammation. Analysis were conducted of the phytonutrient and antioxidant contents of the wild passion fruit species, specifically P. tenuifila, and P. setacea. The researchers paid most attention to the seeds and the explants from seedlings as well as the adult version. The high level of phenolic compounds showed the powerful antioxidant activity of the extract of the passionflower plant.

How to Use Passionflower

There are several ways to take passionflower. Most common are infusions, teas, liquid extracts, and tinctures in capsules. Take a trip to your local health food store and see what options they have. You may want to try an infusion or tea by steeping 1 teaspoon of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Then strain and sip.

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You can also try adding passionflower to your bath water for relaxation. The typical dose of passionflower is about 1 to 2 grams, finely chopped. You can make a tea is by steeping a teaspoon of dried herb in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes and you can have two or three cups throughout the day.

If you are taking it to help with sleep, make sure to drink at least an hour before going to bed. Check out my passionflower tea recipe below for added relaxation and to help stop anxiety.

By Ilovemylife9 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83021056

Recipes

Passionflower & Chamomile Anxiety Reliever Tea

1–1/2 teaspoons dried chamomile

1–1/2 teaspoons dried passionflower

1 teaspoon local honey (optional)

I cup of water

Hot Flash Eliminator Passion Rose Tea

1/2 teaspoon dried chamomile

1/2 teaspoon dried passionflower

1/2 teaspoon dried St. John’s Wort

1/2 teaspoon dried valerian root

1 teaspoon local honey (optional)

1 cup of water

Prepare either tea by using a saucepan. Bring the water to a low boil then turn off the stove. Add the herbs to the water. You can use a muslin bag or tea infuser. Cover with a lid right away so that the oils from the flowers do not evaporate. Allow it to steep for about 10–12 minutes. Remove from the stove, strain if needed, and pour yourself a cup. Then add some local, organic honey if desired. Try this at any time when you may feel anxious or at night before bed.

Oral Dosage

Tea: passionflower tea an hour before bedtime is commonly used in improving sleep quality. The typical dose is 0.25 to two grams of dried herb steeped in 150 ml of boiling water for 10-15 minutes.

Fluid extract: 0.5-1 ml, three times a day (1:1 in 25% alcohol)

Tincture: 0.5-2 ml, three times a day (1:8 in 45% alcohol)

Risks and Side Effects

At one time passionflower was approved as an over-the-counter sedative and sleep aid in the U.S., but in 1978, it was taken off the market due to safety and lack of testing. While studies indicate many positive uses for passionflower, always check with your doctor before taking any new herb in any form.

If you experience nausea, vomiting, drowsiness or any other odd symptoms, even if after a few days, please seek the help of a physician. Do not take if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have medical problems. It may not be suitable for children under 6 months of age.

Herb / Drug interactions:

The NMCD concludes passionflower is “possibly safe” when taken for less than two months as medicine or tea. However, since passionflower has sedating properties, users should exercise caution when taking with alcohol or sedative medications. These include benzodiazepines and tricyclic anti-depressants, anticonvulsants, and barbiturates. Other side effects of taking passionflower orally include dizziness, confusion, ataxia (involuntary muscle movement and loss of coordination), and sedation.

Passionflower may cause dangerous side effects when taken with blood-thinner medications and an older class of antidepressant medication called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOs).

Because passionflower may help lower blood pressure, caution is advised when using this herb with antihypertensive medications.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/calming-effects-of-passionflower

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323795

https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/passionflower/

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-871/passionflower

http://www.loyno.edu/lucec/natural-history-writings/passion-flower-passiflora-incarnata

https://mountainroseherbs.com/passion-flower

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passiflora

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/passionflower

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203277

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941540

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4899762

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23436457

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/passionflower

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23179673

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19097772

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23088514

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24947278

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21294203

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27108307

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25808583

http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/mississippi/state-flower/passion-flower

https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/passion-flower

https://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/2010/8/Weed-of-the-Month-Maypop-Passionflower/

Akhondzadeh, Shahin, H. R. Naghavi, M. Vazirian, A. Shayeganpour, H. Rashidi, and M. Khani. “Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double‐blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam.”Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 26, no. 5 (2001): 363-367.

Movafegh, Ali, Reza Alizadeh, Fatimah Hajimohamadi, Fatimah Esfehani, and Mohmad Nejatfar. “Preoperative oral Passiflora incarnata reduces anxiety in ambulatory surgery patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Anesthesia & Analgesia 106, no. 6 (2008): 1728-1732.

Passionflower. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty. [Updated March 3, 2014; Reviewed March 3, 2014; Accessed April 4, 2014].

naturaldatabaseconsumer.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?rn=3&cs=NONMP&s=NDC&pt=100&id=871&fs=NDC&searchid=45727925

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dr_Saeid_Abbasi-Maleki/publication/261359010_ANTIDEPRESSANT-LIKE_EFFECT_OF_ETHANOLIC_EXTRACT_OF_PASSIFLORA_INCARNATA_IN_ANIMAL_MODELS_OF_DEPRESSION/links/55c3a41108aeb975674019c9/ANTIDEPRESSANT-LIKE-EFFECT-OF-ETHANOLIC-EXTRACT-OF-PASSIFLORA-INCARNATA-IN-ANIMAL-MODELS-OF-DEPRESSION.pdf

Better Balance

Balance is defined as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

Sway is the horizontal movement of the center of gravity even when a person is standing still.

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Maintaining balance requires coordination of input from multiple sensory systems including:

  • Vestibular system: sense organs in the ears that regulate equilibrium; directional information as it relates to head position
  • Somatosensory system: information from skin and joints (pressure and vibratory senses); spatial position and movement relative to the support surface; movement and position of different body parts relative to each other
  • Visual system: Reference to verticality of body and head motion; spatial location relative to objects

Aging and Balance Impairment

  • Decline in flexibility and fluid viscosity within the vestibular system reduces its ability to regulate equilibrium.
  • Decline in flexibility and nerve conduction in joints leads to reduction in mechanical stability.
  • Decline in muscle and connective tissue or ligament strength can lead to functional instability
  • Decline in balance is the strongest predictor of falls and one in three people 65 and over will fall each year.

Balance Test

This test is designed to determine the basic balance of an individual.

  • Begin by standing straight behind a chair with eyes open and weight even between feet.
  • Resting your hands on the back of the chair, continuing to stand up straight, close your eyes.
  • If you sway with your eyes closed it likely means that you are off balance.

Ways to Support Balance

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that you get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update your eyeglasses to maximize your vision.  Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
  • Make your homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improving the lighting in their homes.
  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.
  • Do weight bearing exercise. Mild weight-bearing exercise, like walking or climbing stairs, helps slow bone loss from osteoporosis and increase muscle strength.

Beyond Better Balance

The other benefits of multi-component exercise programs include:

  • Faster reaction time. This can help you keep yourself upright if you start to fall by putting out an arm quickly to grab something stable.
  • Improved coordination. This can directly help prevent falls but can also help you roll rather than crash as you go down.
  • More muscle. Stronger and larger muscles can buffer the impact of a fall, providing some protection to bones and joints.
  • Stronger bones. Resistance exercises strengthen bones, and stronger bones are more resistant to fractures.
  • Better brain function. Regular exercise helps maintain brain function with age. Clearer thinking may help you avoid situations that increase fall risk.

Seated Balance Techniques

Building balance while remaining safely seated. These practices are accomplished while sitting with your back straight, feet flat on the floor, and chin parallel to the floor. These exercises help to improve stomach and back strength, reducing back pain and improving balance.

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Seated Abdominal Strengthening

  • Sitting up straight, feet flat on the floor, hands resting on knees.
  • Breathing in slowly through the nose; slowly raise arms up to shoulder height, palms facing down, keeping back straight.
  • Hold arms at shoulder level while holding breath for count of two.
  • Breathing out slowly through the mouth; slowly lower arms back down, palms on knees while keeping your back straight.
  • Pause while holding your breath for a count of 2 and repeat the process at least 5 times.

Seated Side Strengthening

  • Sitting up straight, feet flat on the floor, hands resting on knees.
  • Breathing in slowly through the nose; slowly raise left arm up over the head and arch to the right.
  • Hold arm above head while holding breath for count of two.
  • Breathing out slowly through the mouth; slowly lower arm back down, palm to knee while returning your to back straight.
  • Pause while holding your breath for a count of 2 and repeat the process with the right arm and repeat both sides at least 5 times.

Seated Twist

  • Sitting up straight, feet flat on the floor, hands resting on knees.
  • Breathing in slowly through the nose; slowly turn to the left with both hands resting on the left arm of the chair, sitting up straight while twisting, head turned and eyes looking left.
  • Pause while holding your breath for a count of 2.
  • Repeat the process with the right arm with head turned right and repeat both sides at least 5 times.

Seated Reach

  • Sitting up straight, feet flat on the floor, hands resting on knees.
  • Breathing in slowly through the nose; slowly reach across your chest with your left arm, keeping your right arm down with palm resting on knee, sitting up straight while twisting, resting left elbow on right armrest while facing forward, eyes looking straight.
  • Pause while holding your breath for a count of 2.
  • Repeat the process with the right arm on left armrest with eyes looking straight ahead and repeat both sides at least 5 times, breathing and twisting.

Palmarosa Oil

Cymbopogon martinii – Palmarosa grass at full Flower blooming stage.This photo at Sesha farms www.sfpalmarosaoil.com during the month of December

Palmarosa Oil (Cymbopogon martini)

Cymbopogon martinii is a species of grass in the genus Cymbopogon (lemongrasses) native to India and Indochina, but widely cultivated in many places for its aromatic oil. It is best known by the common name palmarosa (palm rose) as it smells sweet and rose-like. Other common names include Indian geranium, gingergrass, rosha, and rosha grass.

Origin of Palmarosa Oil

It is a wild growing, herbaceous green and straw-colored grass, with long slender stems, terminal flowering tops and fragrant grassy leaves. It is harvested before the flowers appear and the highest yield is obtained when the grass is fully dried – about one week after it has been cut.

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There are two varieties of grass from which the oil can be extracted – motia and sofia. We find the sofia chemotype to be far more active and pleasant smelling – and for this reason the oil sold by us is from this chemotype.

Extraction of this essential oil is done by steam distillation of dried grass which is harvested before flowering. The chief constituents of this oil are geraniol, geranyl acetate, dipentene, linalool, limonene, and myrcene. This oil smells like rose oil, which is how it got the name, palma rosa.

It is often used as an ingredient of soaps, perfumes and cosmetics, and is also used in the flavoring of tobacco.

Composition of Palmarosa Oil

The main chemical components of palmarosa oil are myrcene, linalool, geraniol, geranyl acetate, dipentene and limonene.

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In general terms, Palmarosa Essential Oil contains approximately 70-80% monoterpenes, 10-15% esters and around 5% aldehydes. It does not contain the abundance of citral (aldehyde) that Lemongrass Essential Oil and Citronella Essential Oil possesses.

Palmarosa oil is an antifungal that fights against Aspergillus niger (commonly known as black mold), Chaetomium globosum (also known as moldy soil), and Penicillium funiculosum, which is a plant pathogen.

The essential oil of this plant, which contains the chemical compound geraniol, is valued for its scent and for traditional medicinal and household uses. Palmarosa oil has been shown to be an effective insect repellent when applied to stored grain and beans, an antihelmintic against nematodes, and an antifungal and mosquito repellent.

Benefits of Using Palmarosa

Palmarosa oil calms the mind, yet has an uplifting effect, while clearing muddled thinking. It is used to counter physical and nervous exhaustion, stress-related problems and nervousness.

It is most useful during convalescence and cools the body of fever, while aiding the digestive system, helping to clear intestinal infection, digestive atonia and anorexia nervosa. It is effective in relieving sore, stiff muscles.

Palmarosa oil moisturizes the skin, while balancing the hydration levels and stimulating cell regeneration. It balances production of sebum, to keep the skin supple and elastic and is valuable for use with acne, dermatitis, preventing scarring, rejuvenating and regenerating the skin, as well as fighting minor skin infections, sore tired feet and athlete’s foot.

Palmarosa Essential Oil Uses

Sinusitis & Excess Mucus:  anti-inflammatory effects reduce inflammation caused by infection and irritation. Mucolytic benefits thin mucus and help clear membranes.

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Cystitis & Urinary Tract Infection: antibiotic or antimicrobial effects reduce infection and anti-inflammatory benefits to reduce inflammation and increase water and toxin removal.

Gastrointestinal Disorders: it assists in improving intestinal flow and nourishes intestinal flora. It also helps to thin and remove mucus buildup that happens in the intestines with inflammatory foods. Its carminative benefits calm the digestive tract and assist in the expulsion of gas.

Wounds & Scarring: through cytophylactic action it assists in wound healing and tissue regrowth.

Acne: through antiseborrheic actions it helps to reduce oil production of the skin cells. Antibacterial actions reduce skin infection. Anti-inflammatory benefits reduce redness and irritation of skin.

Fungal Infection: its antifungal and antimicrobial benefits reduce fungal growth on the skin and throughout the body.

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Restlessness & General Fatigue: Palmarosa has calmative effects that assist in calming the mind and nervous system and allowing the body to relax and heal. Its cephalic actions help to clear the mind and assist in focus.

Muscular Aches: through mild analgesic properties it assists in relieving muscular pain associated with overuse or injury.

Stress & Irritability: as a gentle sedative, relaxant and uplifting oil it helps to counteract the effects of stress on the body and to bring balance to moods.

Insect Bites & Stings: antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits reduce the pain and swelling associated with insect bites or stings.

How to Use Palmarosa Oil

Burners & Vaporizers: In vapor therapy, palmarosa oil can help during convalescence. It relieves fatigue, nervousness, exhaustion and stress, while having an uplifting effect on the mind and clearing muddled thoughts.

Blended massage oil or in the bath: In a blended massage oil or diluted in the bath, palmarosa oil can be used on convalescent patients, to fight exhaustion, fatigue, nervousness, stress, bolstering the digestive system, while boosting the health of the skin.

Wash, lotions and creams and used neat (undiluted): Palmarosa oil can help clear up infections and prevent scarring when added to the water used to wash the wound. When included in creams and lotions, it has a moisturizing and hydrating effect on the skin, which is great to fight wrinkles. It also balances the natural secretion of sebum, which keeps the skin supple and elastic.

On cellular level, it helps with the formation of new tissue and for that reason is great for rejuvenating and regenerating the skin. It is most useful when fighting a dry skin and treat skin infections. Some people find that they have great results when applying palmarosa oil neat or undiluted to the affected area of athlete’s foot – but please keep in mind that we do not advocate the use of neat essential oils on the skin.

Precautions

Palmarosa oil has no known contra indications and is considered a non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing essential oil.

References:

https://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/palmarosa-oil.asp

https://essentialoils.co.za/essential-oils/palmarosa.htm

https://www.essentialoilsdirect.co.uk/palmarosa-cymbopogon_martinii-essential_oil.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbopogon_martinii

https://www.nativeoilsaustralia.com.au/palmarosa-essential-oil/

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00073a015

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12809717

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4276358

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0926669004000317

https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/93598/antimicrobial-action-of-palmarosa-oil-cymbopogon-martinii-on-saccharomyces-cerevisiae

Prashar, A.; Hili, P.; Veness, R.; Evans, C. (2003). “Antimicrobial action of palmarosa oil (Cymbopogon martinii) on Saccharomyces cerevisiae”. Phytochemistry. 63 (5): 569–575. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(03)00226-7.

Rajeswara Rao, B.; Kaul, P.; Syamasundar, K.; Ramesh, S. (2005). “Chemical profiles of primary and secondary essential oils of palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii (Roxb.) Wats var. motia Burk.)”. IIndustrial Crops and Products. 21 (1): 121–127. oi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2004.02.002.

Kumar, R.; Srivastava, M.; Dubey, N. K. (2007). “Evaluation of Cymbopogon martinii oil extract for control of postharvest insect deterioration in cereals and legumes”. Journal of Food Protection. 70 (1): 172–78.

Kumaran, A. M.; D’souza, P; Agarwal, A; Bokkolla, RM; Balasubramaniam, M; et al. (2003). “Geraniol, the putative anthelmintic principle of Cymbopogon martinii”. Phytotherapy Research. 17 (8): 957. doi:10.1002/ptr.1267. PMID 13680833.

Mallavarapu, G.; Rajeswara Rao, B.; Kaul, P.; Ramesh, S.; Bhattacharya, A. (1998). “Volatile constituents of the essential oils of the seeds and the herb of palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii (Roxb.) Wats. var. motia Burk.)”. Journal of Plant Nutrition. 13: 167–169. doi:10.1002/(sici)1099-1026(199805/06)13:3<167::aid-ffj719>3.0.co;2-b.

Guenther, E (1952). “Recent developments in essential oil production”. Economic Botany. 6 (4): 355–378. doi:10.1007/bf02984884.

Orange Peel

Orange peel dried (Citrus reticulata)

Botanical Name: Pericarpium citri reticulata. Mandarine Oranges/Chen Pi – Citrus reticulata. Bitter Orange (aka Seville Oranges)/Zhi Shi – Citrus sinensis, Citrus aurantantium.

History/Folklore: All species help move Qi stagnation. Mandarin Orange Peel is a better anti-inflammatory, carminative and tonic. The Unripe Green Orange Peel is a cholagogue and carminative.  Bitter Orange Peel moves Qi stagnation, stimulates, expectorates and is a stomach digestive. Another species is tangerines with the Latin name, Citrus tangerina.

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For hundreds of years, herbalists trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have used mature mandarin orange peel, known as chen pi or ju pi in Chinese medicine, to improve digestion, relieve intestinal gas and bloating, and resolve phlegm. This peel acts primarily on the digestive and respiratory systems. We apply it in conditions involving a sense of distension and fullness in the chest and upper middle abdomen combined with loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, or coughs with copious phlegm.

You will find dried orange peel in Mother Jai’s Raspberry Tea. Shop below.

Immature mandarin orange peel, known as qing pi in Chinese medicine, acts primarily on the liver and stomach to promote digestion, relieve food retention and abdominal distension, and promote good liver function. Practitioners of Chinese herbology use this herb when the sense of distension and discomfort lies primarily under the rib cage rather than the central abdomen. 

The cut peel is traditionally used as a tea, and the powdered peel is used to add a sweet, fizzy flavor to drinks. Many cosmetics call for peel in either cut form or as a powder. Its light flavor makes it easy to add into tea blends, and the peel can also be incorporated into jams, jellies, stir-fry dishes and many other culinary creations.

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Symbol of Fertility: Oranges can produce flowers and fruit at the same time so they have become a symbol of fertility.

Health benefits of Oranges

Oranges are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat, filled with Vitamin C, fiber, potassium and low in calories. Consuming them more often may protect against heart disease, cancer and diabetes while also helping to improve memory, blood pressure, immune system and overall health. Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of oranges

Helps Prevent Cancer: oranges are wonderful sources of both Vitamin C and hesperidin. These two antioxidants are recognized to help prevent the formation of free radicals – which are known to cause cancer. Vitamin C content is particularly important because a lack of Vitamin C has been shown to help tumors survive. So if you want to help prevent cancer, make sure you eat an orange.

Control Your Diabetes: oranges are a great source of fiber! This can help lower your cholesterol which in turn helps make your diabetes easier to control. Additionally, researches have shown that if you’re a Type I diabetic, consuming a high-fiber diet helps lower your overall glucose levels. And for Type II diabetics, it can improve your blood sugars and insulin levels. Not only that, but getting so much fiber improves your digestion and helps you feel fuller longer. Meaning you’re less likely to attack the pantry for sugary and unhealthy snacks.

Heart Healthy: oranges are high in potassium. And an increase in potassium can help support heart health and decrease the risk of things like stroke and heart attacks. Potassium also decreases your risk of heart disease. Additionally, oranges help lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure, which is great for your heart health and for preventing heart problems.

Better Skin: oranges are good for your skin, helping to protect from skin damage caused by the sun and pollution. They also reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin texture. And, as mentioned earlier, Vitamin C helps increase collagen production, which is important for keeping your skin healthy and wrinkle-free.

Science Supports Citrus

Sweet and bitter orange peels have similar constituents. Modern research shows many benefits to these peels or their constituent phytochemicals.

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The medicinal actions of  citrus peels come in part from their primary essential oil, d-limonene. D-limonene has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also acts as a solvent for cholesterol, which has led some physicians to use it to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones. D-limonene neutralizes gastric acid and supports normal peristalsis, making it useful for relief of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Research also indicates that d-limonene has cancer-preventive properties. 

Citrus peels also contain hesperidin, a flavonoid that reduces the proliferation of cancer cells and induces programmed cell death in human colon cancer cells. Korean researchers found that qing pi extract induces programmed cell death in human colon cancer cells.

A team of scientists from Taiwan investigated the effects of the four citrus herbs mentioned above on adipocyte (fat cell) differentiation. They found that mandarin orange peel (chen pi) markedly reduced production and accumulation of triglycerides (fats) in fat cells, with the highest dose tested reducing triglyceride production by nearly 50 percent.

References:

https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/orange-peel/

https://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/citrus-peel-medicine

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https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1658077X16300960

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22980779

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26024407

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690266/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908842/

Moving to Keep Moving

Regular exercise is essential to maintaining functional abilities throughout aging. Once we stop moving our muscles weaken and our joints become stiff and inflexible. The more sedentary we become the more we have to do to reverse the effects. Avoid being completely sedentary by moving at least a little every day.

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These are common barriers to exercise that we can overcome.

Self-efficacyBegin slowly with exercises that are easily accomplished; advance gradually; provide frequent encouragement.
AttitudePromote positive personal benefits of exercise; identify enjoyable activities.
DiscomfortVary intensity and range of exercise; employ cross-training; start slowly; avoid overdoing.
DisabilitySpecialized exercises; consider personal trainer or physical therapist.
Poor balanceAssistive devices can increase safety as well as increase exercise intensity.
Fear of injuryBalance and strength training initially; use of appropriate clothing, equipment, and supervision; start slowly.
HabitIncorporate into daily routine; repeat encouragement; promote active lifestyle.
Subjective normsIdentify and recruit influential others; education of patient and influential family/friends.
Fixed incomeWalking and other simple exercises; use of household items; promote active lifestyle.
Bad weatherWalk around the home; use senior centers; promote active lifestyle
Cognitive declineIncorporate into daily routine; keep exercises simple.
Illness/ fatigueUse a range of exercises/intensities that patients can match to their varying energy level.
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Moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day has these health benefits:

  • Improves blood circulation, which reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Helps in the battle to quit smoking
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging
  • Maintains quality of life and independence longer for seniors
  • Helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly
  • Increases muscle strength, increasing the ability to do other physical activities
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts energy level
  • Helps manage stress and releases tension
  • Counters anxiety and depression
  • Improves self-image
  • Promotes enthusiasm and optimism
  • Reduces risk of stroke by 20 percent
  • Counters the conditions that lead to heart attack and stroke
  • Provides a way to share an activity with family and friends
  • Reduces coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent
  • Reduces the overall risk of obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, etc.
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Finding Balance with Holiday Eating

We all tend to eat too much for the holidays. One way to counteract our increased calorie consumption is to exercise more (burn more calories).

This can be beneficial, yet if you’ve seen the latest research you will know that calories are not the issue. Macronutrient composition is the issue. To put it plainly, we are getting to many simple carbohydrates and not enough healthy fats.

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So finding balance with Holiday eating is essential to minimize weight gain and maintain digestive health throughout the Holidays.

I would never recommend avoiding certain foods because that leads to uncontrollable cravings. Which make weight loss even harder.

Simply try to put fewer simple carbohydrates (pie, bread, pastries, jellies, marshmallows) on your plate and more complex carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa) and more healthy fats (avocado, walnuts & pecans, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, turkey & ham, olive oil).

Following the One-Hand Rule can be very helpful as well. This is filling your plate while considering the size of your stomach. Basically, your stomach is the size of both of your fists together.

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So when you fill your plate consider a serving to be 1/4 to 1/2 the size of your fist. If you have 8 different foods to try then place 1/4 fist size of each so you can try them all. Or if you have 4 foods to try then they would each be 1/2 fist size servings.

This is a very simple method to control your eating without weighing, calculating or measuring.

Why We Should Avoid Petrolatum

White Petrolatum – By Kiyok – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2647443

What is Petroleum Jelly or Petrolatum?

Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of the oil refining process. This means it is not sustainable or eco-friendly, and it also explains some of the potential problems with using it. Petroleum jelly was originally found in the bottom of oil rigs and is further refined for use in the beauty industry. According to packaging and safety info, all of the harmful components are removed before use in beauty or personal care products, but some sources argue that it still contains some harmful components (like hydrocarbons).

Petrolatum, commonly known as petroleum jelly, is a byproduct of petroleum refining. Petrolatum is a soft paraffin or wax mixture sold as a topical skin ointment. It is acknowledged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an approved over-the-counter skin protectant and is used in the manufacturing of cosmetic skin care.

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Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, white petrolatum, soft paraffin/paraffin wax or multi-hydrocarbon, CAS number 8009-03-8, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons (with carbon numbers mainly higher than 25), originally promoted as a topical ointment for its healing properties.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a U.S. non-profit organization that does environmental and safety studies, says there’s petrolatum in one out of every 14 cosmetic products on the market, including 15 percent of lipsticks and 40 percent of baby lotions and oils. Plus, it is used as an active ingredient for healing cuts and burns.

The EWG says ’and governments and the CCTFA acknowledge’ there is a risk of contamination from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cancer-causing chemicals found in crude oil and its by-products. While no studies have ever shown a direct link between petrolatum and cancer, the European Union put numerous grades of petrolatum on a list of dangerous substances. Only highly refined petrolatum can be used in cosmetics there.

How Does Petroleum Jelly Work on Skin?

Petroleum jelly is used in everything from lotions to baby products for its ability to create a protective barrier on the skin and hold in moisture. On labels, it may also appear as Petrolatum, Mineral oil, Liquid paraffin, or Paraffin oil.

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While the ability to hold in moisture may seem like a good thing, it can have its downsides as well. Since petroleum jelly is both waterproof and not water soluble, it creates a waterproof barrier on the skin. At first glance, this may sound good, but it also means that it blocks pores and can lock in residue and bacteria. This is also the reason petroleum jelly should not be used on a burn or sunburn, as it locks in heat and can block the body’s ability to heal.

Also, while it certainly gives the appearance of hydrated and moisturized skin, this may be an illusion as there is nothing in petroleum jelly that is actually nourishing the skin.

Petroleum jelly can’t be metabolized by the skin and just sits as a barrier until it wears off. This means that the body isn’t able to gain any benefit from petroleum jelly (like it can from nutrient rich substances like shea butter or cocoa butter), and there is concern that some of the components (like hydrocarbons) may be stored in fat tissue within the body.

There is strong evidence that mineral oil hydrocarbons are the greatest contaminant of the human body, amounting to approximately 1 g per person. Possible routes of contamination include air inhalation, food intake, and dermal absorption.

This suggests the potential for long-term accumulation of these hydrocarbons in the body. The study found no link between nutritional habits and hydrocarbon levels in the body but did find a strong potential link between cosmetic and beauty product use and contamination, suggesting that beauty products may be a major source of hydrocarbon exposure.

As moms, this study is especially interesting, since it shows the potential for passing on these contaminants to our children during breastfeeding. We also know that we can’t metabolize these substances, so they can build up in the body and are difficult to remove.

Collagen Breakdown

Because of the barrier that mineral oil/petroleum jelly creates on the skin, there is also some concern about its potential to cause collagen breakdown (which is the opposite of what most women want!). Essentially, the concern is that when petroleum jelly coats the skin it blocks the skin’s natural ability to breathe and absorb nutrients. This can slow the cell renewal process and cause the skin to pull the necessary moisture and nutrients from within, leading to collagen breakdown over time (aka wrinkles!).

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Estrogen Dominance

A growing problem in today’s world, estrogen dominance is when the body has high levels of estrogen and proportionately low levels of progesterone to balance it. It is linked to infertility, menstrual problems, accelerated aging, allergies and autoimmune problems as well as nutrient deficiencies, sleep problems and even some types of cancers.

Many products (including petroleum jelly) contain chemicals called xenoestrogens which may increase estrogen problems in the body. Studies have shown that these chemicals may act on hormone receptors in the body and lead to estrogen dominance.

Does it heal skin?

While some beauty companies are promoting petrolatum alternatives, other manufacturers swear by its ability to moisturize and heal. Petrolatum seals off the skin from water and air, as it allows the skin to heal itself.

But there’s a potential downside. A study that was published in Pediatrics in 2000 found that extremely-low-birth-weight infants treated with petroleum jelly were more likely to develop systemic candidiasis; it created a warm, moist place for fungi to grow.

Petrolatum is an occlusive barrier, locking in moisture but it does not allow moisture to be absorbed from the atmosphere. For example, lip balms with petrolatum and other petrochemicals can be less moisturizing than those with emollients that enable moisture exchange.

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Alternatives to Petroleum Based Products for the Skin

Thankfully, there are many great alternatives to petroleum jelly and mineral oil that help increase moisture on the skin and provide nourishment as well. The best part? Most of them can be used alone and you don’t even have to make anything!

Looking for a simple alternative to petroleum jelly or petrolatum? Try Mother Jai’s Moisturizer. Simply all natural with Coconut, Olive and Sunflower Oils. A little goes a long way.

Shea Butter– A natural skin superfood that is high in Vitamins A, E and F. It also contains beneficial fatty acids that nourish skin and it may reduce skin inflammation and increase collagen production. It is excellent on its own or in homemade beauty products.

Cocoa Butter-A great source of antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids, cocoa butter is another great product for skin. There is even some evidence that it may reduce the signs of aging.

Beeswax– A great substitute for the waterproof and protective properties of petroleum jelly without the hydrocarbons. Though not usually used alone, beeswax can be blended into homemade beauty products for its skin-protective ability and is especially good in lip balms and body creams.

Coconut Oil– Coconut oil has so many benefits, internal and external, and it can be great for the skin. It does cause breakouts in some people, so I always suggest testing on a small area of skin first, but it is a source of skin-nourishing fatty acids, lauric acid and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Almond Oil– A liquid oil that is fragrance free and nourishing to skin.

Sunflower Oil – Another liquid oil that is full of nutrients like omega fatty acids and minerals that are essential to skin health.

Jojoba Oil – A perfect choice for skin care because it naturally resembles sebum, the oily substance naturally produced by the body to nourish and protect skin. You can mix jojoba oil into shea butter for a natural lotion.

References:

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