Teaching Tuesday- Under the Radar EO's- Copaiba Balsam

Continuing on in our series of Essential Oils that may not have 

been on your radar, today we will be looking at Copaiba Balsam

Copaiba Balsam Essential Oil (EO), botanically known as Copaifera Officinalis, has a mild, sweet, woody and slightly balsamic fragrance, that provides a base note in formulations
The EO is steam distilled from the crude balsam of the wild-growing, Copaiba tree. Primarily found in the forests of Brazil, Columbia, Peru, and Venezuela, this well branched, tropical tree grows up to 100 feet tall. It has leathery leaves, and the blossoms are small, white, and quite fragrant. It produces a fruit that is leathery and only contains one seed, and is classofoed as  a leegume. The part of the copaiba tree that is used to make the EO is the balsam, which is the oleoresin. But, while it is called a balsam, it is really more of a natural oil, not a balsam. It is a thick, rather clear or pale yellow, but deepens to a fairly golden yellow color as it is exposed to air. This resin accumulates in cavities that are in the trunk of the tree. Then incisions are made in teh trunk in order to tap the resin.

This herbal oil is used as an emollient in lacquers and paint, and is used in art restoration to restore coloring to old paintings. But the most important properties of the copaiba tree are due to its oil, and the medicinal properties of that oil. In fact, from 1820 until 1910 copaiba oleoresin was listed as an official drug in the US Pharmacopeia. Copaiba oil has been documented to have antibacterial properties, and additionally is believed to have anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, diuretic, expectorant, and stimulant properties. It especially benefits bronchitis, bruises, burns, chills, colds, coughs, cuts, cystitis, intestinal infections, stress related conditions, and other urinary issues. In skin care, this EO is best used to treat cuts, burns, and bruises, in compresses, balms, or ointments. Considering its properties, and the fact that it is a base note, this EO makes a great fixative for your disinfectant blends, either for surfaces or for diffusers. And, of course, this EO is also great for scenting perfumes, soaps, lotions and other bath and body products. The only safety warning is to avoid this EO during pregnancy. 

Make it Yourself Monday- More Facial Masks

I know that I have posted several masks before, but here are some different ones.

Mint Mask
1/4 cup soy powder
1/4 cup plain yogurt (unflavored)
2 drops peppermint EO

This is a make and use immediately product. Mix the soy powder and the unflavored yogurt together, creating a paste. Then add in the EO and mix well. Put it on your face and neck and allow it to set for 20-30 minutes, then rinse with tepid water and pat the skin dry. After drying, don't forget to moisturize as you normally would. This mask is for all skin types, but especially benefits dry skin, as it won't over-dry the skin. The peppermint EO serves to clarify the skin. You should use this treatment once a week for great skin care.

Mean Green Mask
This next mask is a variation on two others that I have previously posted. This one mixes cucumber and clay, for one refreshing and moisturizing mask. It is another one that needs to be used once it is made. You will need;

1/4 cup French Green Clay
1 large cucumber, peeled and mashed
9 ml sweet almond oil (you may sub apricot kernel oil)
*distilled water may also be needed, depending upon the moisture level in the cucumber

After you have peeled and mashed the cucumber, place it in a bowl with the French Green clay and mix well. If the cucumber doesn't give enough moisture, add in enough distilled water to make the paste easy to apply. You want a soft, but not runny mixture. Once you have the correct consistency, apply it to your face and neck, and allow it to dry thoroughly. Stay still while the liquid evaporates from the recipe, which should take about 15 minutes. It will feel like it is pulling and this is the action that tightens your pores. Once dried, wash it off your skin with tepid water, pat dry, and moisturize as normal.

**I have a correction from last Friday's post as well. The Citrus Lavender soap does not have cocoa powder in it, but instead has vanilla powder. I have added a note to that post to correct the error.

Friday- More Coloring Soaps Naturally

In reviewing my Wednesday post I realized that I left Safflower off the list. So we will begin with it! Safflower will give you a nice yellow color. Add one to two teaspoons per pound of oils, depending upon the shade of yellow you desire.

Sandalwood Powder will give a purplish red to a maroon color, depending upon the PH level. A lower PH will give a more maroon coloring and a higher PH will give you a purplish coloring. Use at 1/2 teaspoon per pound of oils. 

Alkanet Root Powder gives a pinkish red to a bluish purple coloring, also depending upon the PH level. A PH of 6 will have a red color, a PH of 8 will be lavender/purple, and a higher PH will be more blue. For every two ounces of base oil, infuse one tablespoon of alkanet. For your soap, add about four tablespoons per five pound batch of soap. 
*of course the amount you use and the types of oils in your formulation also influence the final color.

For a green color in your soaps try some;

Burdock Leaf gives a nice, natural green. This is best when infused in a base oil, either by the hot or cold method.

Comfrey Leaf will also produce a nice, natural green. The leaves  can be infused in the base oil, using one part comfrey to two parts oil, or you can add the leaf powder straight into your batch at light trace, one tablespoon per pound of oils. You can also infuse the powder into the base oil, but you will need to use a cheesecloth to strain it prior to using it.

Dandelion Leaf powder is also good for a green. Use one to two tablespoons per pound of oils at light trace, or infuse in your base oil.

Then we come to my personal favorites;
*The above photo is of my Bamboo Soap and is made with cocoa powder and spirulina for coloring.

Nettle Leaf Powder, which gives a green that is pretty close to a lime green. It can be added directly into your soap pot or it can be infused into your base oils, whichever you prefer.

And Spirulina, which gives a nice, rich green. This works best when added straight into the soap pot. Depending upon the shade of green desired, adding 1/2 to one teaspoon in a five pound batch is generally recommended. Although I have seen it as high as one teaspoon per pound of oils. 

You can also use; French Green Clay, AlfalfaChlorophyll, or Olive Leaf powder for various shades of green. 

Cherry Bark Powder makes a nice warm, reddish-brown color. Use two tablespoons in a five pound batch of soap. It is best to take one cup of your batter out and mix the tablespoons in. Once you have it well incorporated, mix that cup back into the whole batch.

Tomato Powder makes a nice tomato red color, but it also has the scent of tomato since it is the actual dehydrated fruit.
This soap is a tomato soap and the green and brown coloring is from Neem powder.

Rattanjot will make a light lavender brown color to a deep purplish brown in your soaps.

For Browns try;
Walnut Hull Powder will produce a rich, nutty brown color in your soap. Add 1/4 teaspoon per pound of oils. For a deep, dark brown use up to 1/2 teaspoon per pound of oils. This is a great additive for creating a swirl color or a nice contrast color.

*The picture to the right is of my Kitchen/Gardener Soap. It is colored with coffee and has coffee grounds in it as well. It also has a small amount of cocoa powder sprinkled on the top.

Cocoa powder also makes a natural, deep brown that is great for contrast and swirls. Mix one tablespoon into 1/2 cup of your soap batter at trace, then mix that half cup back into your entire batter.  
The middle layer of this Citrused Lavender soap is cocoa powder. The picture isn't nearly as pretty as the soap is in real life. The brown swirly layer really pops! The bluish bottom is a combination of blueberry fibers, indigo, and vanilla powder.
*Correction! The brown in this soap is actually vanilla powder.

Coffee and Coffee Grounds also make a nice brown coloring for soap, not to mention that the grounds make a wonderful scrubbing additive.

Poppy Seeds will be a blue gray to black flecks in your soaps.

Blues are the most difficult colors to achieve naturally, but it can be done! A plant that is high in azulene will give a nice blue, even though it may fade when its left for a long period of time. So (Common) Yarrow, botanically known as Achillea Millefolium, Blue Tansy, and German Chamomile are your flowers of choice for blue.
Then there is also;
 Woad Powder is a nice sky blue color in soap and you only need 1/8 to 1/2 of a teaspoon per five pound batch of soap, depending upon how deep a color you want.

And Indigo Powder, which will give you a more denim blue, but still with only 1/8 to 1/2 of a teaspoon for a five pound batch of soap! 

Frequently I will mix one or more of the coloring agents to create a deeper shade of a color or even a new one all together. Play with them and find your own color combinations!  The picture above is of my Orchid Rain (a proprietary blend), colored with a mixture of cranberry powder and blueberry fibers

In case I forgot to mention, as I think I did, Clays, for coloring, should be added at a rate of one tablespoon per pound of oils, either to the hot oils or at thin trace. 

Tripod Thursday-Mystical, Magical, Awe

These photographs are from the area I live in. I am forever awe struct when I see the beauty of God's creations.

And Since this is what I am looking at.....

This is what I am dreaming of! 

What's Up Wednesday-Coloring Soaps Naturally

One of the aspects of my soaps that I love and am truly proud of, is the fact that all the coloring is accomplished by using natural colorants. That is to say, their coloring is achieved solely by the natural oil color(s) and the addition of various herbs, spices and flora. Since I am preparing to begin this year's 30 soaps in 30 days (as opposed to last year's 100 soaps in 100 days), I thought I would share some of the ways you can accomplish color without using lab colors, micas or the like. Some may even surprise you!

Remember, to understand coloring in your soap pot, nothing works better than trial and error! Some things will morph due to the PH level, and others will just simply not be the color you would expect. For example, hibiscus is a lovely color, but in cp soap it comes out a ruddy, muddy graysh color. Now in melt and pour it is pretty and what you would expect. Same goes with beet root powder, it appears that it should give you a nice reddish/pinkish coloring, but it doesn't. It gives you ugly, muggly beigish to brownish instead.  And while we are at it, cranberry fibers don't give you a pretty pink/red either, but rather a tanish color as well. So test them yourself, and don't just trust what the seller says, because I have seen lots of sites say that cranberry powder makes soap a pretty pink!

For yellow and orange coloring, the one I most use is                                                  
Annato Seeds. You can get a full range of yellow and orange from this one seed. But, to use these seeds you must soak/steep them in the oil of your choice, then use the oil to color the soap. You cannot grind the seed and add that to the soap pot.You can begin by adding 2 Tablespoons of the seeds to 6 ounces of warmed oil. Steep this for an hour and then strain it. Use the oil as part of your base oil. If you are making a ten pound batch, this will produce a deep orange color. If you want a yellow/orange you can cut the base oil amount in half and use plain oil for the  other half. If you don't care to use as the base, you can also just use tablespoons of the oil to color part of the batch for swirls. For deeper coloring you can increase the amount of seed steeping in oil, decrease the amount of oil steeping the seeds, or both. You can also lengthen the time frame of the steep. The longer you steep and/or, the more seeds you use and/or, the less oil you use, the deeper the color. Simply reverse the directions to create a lighter colorant. And, if you don't want to use heat, don't. Just cover your seeds with the oil, shake and let steep for at least 8 hours, but preferably a day. However, you will get a better, faster color saturation if you use the heat.  *This picture shows the yellow you can achieve with annato seeds. The orange is very easily conquered, which is why I am showing you the yellow. I usually divide my annato batches by taking some oil out at a low color sat and then steeping more and separating some out and then the final batch is the lengthiest steep with the deepest saturation.

Turmeric, depending on the amount used, will give you a yellow - reddish- to reddish brown coloring, depending upon the amount used. Just make sure that you do not use too much or you may cause the skin some irritation. This soap was made with 1 tablespoon of turmeric in 1/3 of a batch of soap.  About 5 pounds of oils, if I recall correctly. But for a nice yellow, use just 1/4 of a teaspoon per pound of oils at trace.

Calendual Petals- Aside from grinding and steeping the petals for yellow coloring, you can also incorporate the petals on to your soap for an interesting, slightly, soft exfoliating agent. *Calendula was not used as a coloring agent here, but infused oil was used for its healing properties, and on the top for decorative purposes, but it will add a light exfoliation. This bar actually has seeds included in the batter for exfoliation.

Saffron and curry will also give you yellows. While carrots (ground/shredded/baby food- the juice will turn black) and pumpkin (ground) will give you oranges.

Maddar root gives a pink to red, depending on amount used. Mix this with something else, or at different saturation rates, and you can get many different shades.  These bars are colored completely with maddar root , gaining their contrast with differing saturation levels of the maddar (they are topped with cranberry and poppy seeds). You can begin with one tablespoon per pound of oils at trace, and add more or less depending upon the saturation level desired.

Paprica will give you a rather peachy shade, to a melon orange, but you need to infuse this spice and strain it before using. You can add it at trace, using 1/2 to one tablespoon per pound of oils. If you don't infuse and strain it, you will end up with speckles in your soap and it can also cause dryness and/or scratching.

Cinnamon will give you more of a brownish than a reddish shade. However, you must exercise caution with the amount to keep from irritating the skin.

Cochineal is what is used to color Hawaiian Punch, and will work in your soap pot for a nice pink to red as well.

In the proper amounts, the clays will give you their coloring, except for rhassul clay. Rhassul clay usually produces a speckled gray-brown color in soap. If you want red, use your Morrocan Red Clay. And, if you want a lovely red, try mixing the Morrocan red with some Maddar root! If you want green, use your French Green Clay. And for pink, use the Pink Kaolin Clay.

For more herbal, spice and floral coloring, check back on Friday for some more colors, like the ones that are in these bars!

Teaching Tuesday- Under the Radar EO's- Cistus

This week we will be continuing the "Under the Radar Essential Oils" by discussing a somewhat pricey (around 40-50$ an ounce) EO that you may not be familiar with. It is Cistus EO, botanically known as Cistus Ladaniferus and/or Cistus Ladanifer. This EO is steam distilled from the leaves of the Cistus plant, which is sometimes known as a Rockrose shrub. The Cistus is a small, sticky shrub, native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It is a pale yellow-orange,  and has a strong, sweet, dry, richly herbaceous aroma. The EO is primarily produced by Spain, France and the Mediterranean.  Besides the steam distilled oil, which is made from the leaves of the Cistus plant, you can also find an absolute, meaning a solvent extracted oil, which is made from the crude resin of the plant. It is [usually] identified on the market as Labdanum Absolute.

Cistus is considered one of the ancient spiritual oils, with a history of being used in incense, and as an aid to meditation and centering. Now days it is mainly used in perfumery for its rich aroma and the fact that it makes an excellent fixative. In fact, it is currently used in some expensive brands of perfume! It is also often used in skin care formulations, and is in fact highly recommended in blends for aging skin products. Medicinally it has most often been used for treating digestive and menstrual issues. Aromatherapy wise, Cistus is still used for meditation due to its calming, stress reducing and mood uplifting properties. 

Cistus has antiseptic, antimicrobial, astringent, expectorant, tonic*, and emmenagogue* properties. For this reason, this EO should be avoided during pregnancy. Remedies made with this EO especially benefit bronchitis, colds, coughs, wrinkles, mature skin care, and nervousness. It is also used in a warm compress to treat swollen lymph glands.

As always, internal use of EO's is not recommended unless you are working with an experienced, licensed, professional. Failure to comply with this advice could result in serious consequences, possibly even death.

*A tonic is an agent that restores or increases body tone.
**An emmenagogue is an herb that stimulates blood flow in the pelvic area and the uterus, and some also stimulate menstruation.

Make it Yourself Monday- Dandruff

Dandruff is a common scalp condition that occurs when dead skin is shed, producing white skin flakes. In addition to adding a B complex vitamin to your regimen, using one of the following after shampoo recipes should help keep nasty flakes from adorning your nice winter sweaters, and help to heal your poor scalp! Don't forget to check out last weeks hair care recipes if you missed them!

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
1 cup thyme infusion 
*to make an infusion; Take 1 teaspoon of thyme and place it in 8 ounces of almost boiling water. Cover it, set aside, and allow to steep for at least 5 minutes before straining and using.*
Mix all ingredients together and use it as a rinse after shampooing. You will probably use about 1/2 of this recipe, depending upon your hair length. You can store any left-overs in a bottle, jut make sure that you keep it in a dark, cool place. It will only last for about 1 week, so make it when you expect to use it.

1/4 cup tea tree extract
1/4 cup witch hazel
4 cups water

Mix all the ingredients together and use as a rinse after shampooing. You will use about 1/2 of this recipe, depending upon the length of your hair. Store the left-overs in a bottle. It should keep for about 2 weeks.

Frankly Speaking Friday-SOAP Panel

As many of you already know, I am a huge Bramble Berry fan (soap making supplies). Not only do I love the quality of their merchandise and their superb customer service, but I am hugely impressed by the owner/founder, Ann-Marie Faiola. Her work ethic and business model is truly something to be emulated, she has even been named as her states' (Washington) small business of the year (2010). I love the way that She has grown her small company into what I consider to be a very large, small business!  

Several times a year Bramble Berry introduces some new, seasonal fragrances. In order to decide which  fragrances will make it through their selection process, and end up on the sales shelves, Bramble Berry has a panel of fans/customers to test their top picks. These people, nicknamed the S.O.A.P. panel (of whichever season it is for), test each of the fragrances delivered to them in a recipe of their choice (soap, lotion, scrubs ect.), and then send a detailed report back for Bramble Berry's consideration. Once all the notes are read and compared, Bramble Berry then decides on which fragrance(s) will be introduced that particular season.  

Why am I discussing Bramble Berry and their method for adding new fragrances? Because I really, really WANT to be part of the next S.O.A.P. PANEL, that's why! 
Before I found Bramble Berry, I had only ever used organic and natural ingredients in my products (soaps and bath and body). If it wasn't an essential oil, a herb, or a flower, it didn't go into any Unique Garden Essences formula. But then I ordered some essential oil and hard products from Bramble Berry, and received a free sample of a fragrance oil. Not one to waste anything, I mixed that fragrance oil with an essential oil and fell in love! The scent was truly divine, and remains one of my personal favorites to this day! It was Champagne fragrance oil and I mixed it with a white grapefruit EO. Then, last year I decided to reformulate my cp soap and created 60 new recipes to test. Since I had so many to test, and since I was really intrigued by all the fragrance names on Bramble Berry, not to mention the cost factor involved with EO's, I decided to treat myself to fragrance oils. Of course the first name on my purchase list was that fantastic Champagne fo. I have to tell you that I have mixed this fragrance oil with many EO's and even some FO's, and it is great! It is very versatile and it truly sparkles like its name sake!  Of course I liked all of the fragrance oils I purchased, but some I really LOVED, like the Berrywine and the Kumquat. Both of these were unique, crisp, and just plain wonderful scents. There are so many others that I could gush about, honesty there wasn't one that I tried that I didn't like, but I decided that these were my top three favorites. 

Even though the majority of my products continue to be made with EO's, I have to tell you that there are a few FO's that are now part of my line. Some are seasonal and some are permanent, but all are top quality and smell divine! I thank Bramble Berry for opening my mind to this possibility in the first place, for making such quality products, and for being the trust worthy and professional business that they are. Were any one of these aspects missing from the Bramble Berry formula, I would never have even tried one FO, much less the many that I have. And I certainly never would have added any to my product line. So, Thank You Bramble Berry! 

Tripod Thursday- Sky and Water

Well, I just realized that my post for yesterday was never posted. Unfortunately I left it for someone else to do for me and, they either thought they did it but did it improperly, or they forgot to do it. Whichever the case may be, I had it ready so here it is, even if it is a day late! 

Water and Sky, the two most calming, frightening, gorgeous and scary views, in my humble opinion, of course!

What's Happening Wednesday- Hair Care Products and Recipes

As some of you may recall, I am currently working on liquid soap formulations, which include regular soap, shower gel and shampoos. When creating the shampoo recipes to test I began looking back over my previous hair care posts and essential oils and herbs that would benefit the hair. Of course yucca came right to mind, but what else? And what about the problems with hair? Just like the skin, many people have hair issues that need addressed. So....as I continue to work on great formulations, I thought I'd share some of my ideas and findings for this "What's Up Wednesday" post.

Rather than write a whole Teaching Tuesday post, here are some tips and information that I have found helpful to me. Hopefully some will benefit you too!

First and foremost, great hair comes from the inside out. So, for the basics of great hair care, you may want to visit/revisit this previous post.

Hair grows about one half of an inch a month. 
Scientific studies show that hair grows faster in warm weather.

Clay is both a deep cleanser and a great hair conditioner. It will remove dirt and hair care product residue from the hair shaft while it nourishes the scalp. You need to use a white clay, such as kaolin because other types and colors may be too harsh.

Coconut oil preserves the hair (as it does the skin), by covering it with a thin, sealing layer, one that holds, seals, in the moisture that is present.

If hair has been over-exposed to the sun and/or wind, use a deep conditioning treatment once a  week, preferably one with lavender and olive oil. Lavender has many nourishing and healing properties, and when its combined with olive oil, which improves the elasticity of the hair shaft,  you get nice, soft, and less likely to break hair. Plus, the lavender will also help decrease tension and alleviate headaches.

Don't have a desire to buy chemical products? Simple, just make yourself a mayo and avocado hair pack to deeply condition dry hair. The eggs and the oil in the mayo, as well as the avocado are highly conditioning and make this a very simple, yet highly effective hair treatment. For a recipe, look here!

For gray hair, split ends, and/or thinning hair, use sage leaves. Just crush 8 sage leaves and place in a small jar. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water and leave it sit for 30 minutes. Once time is up, strain it and reserve the liquid. Add 1 tablespoon of wheat germ and grapeseed oils to the liquid and mix well. Pour this into a dark colored bottle (to prevent light from reaching it and breaking it down). Rub a small amount into your hair and scalp, or onto split ends, then wrap in a towel and leave on hair for an hour, then shampoo as normal. It is preferable to apply the treatment to damp hair.

Light colored hair benefits from a mild shampoo. Calendula, Lemon peel, or Roman Chamomile are wonderful additives to castile soap for the perfect light colored hair shampoo.

Rosemary is a good additive for a shampoo intended for Dark hair.

Tea Tree is of benefit to those with dry and/or flaky scalps.

Dandruff is a common scalp condition that occurs when dead skin is shed, producing white skin flakes. It is frequently recommended to add a B-complex vitamin to your health care regimen. You can also use specially formulated shampoos or after shampoo rinses to help condition and heal the scalp. Visit or revisit this post for a recipe from guest author, Alyssa, and check back next Make it Yourself Monday, when I will be offering a few more!

For shampoo and conditioning recipes, look here.
For a detangler and a rinse recipe check out this post.

Teaching Tuesday-Under the Radar Essential Oils-Cajeput

In creating my shopping list for Unique Garden Essences, I realized that there are several essential oils that many people may not be familiar with. While most everyone has heard of lavender and basil, how many have heard of copaiba balsam and cajeput? So I am starting a new series to describe EO's that may not have ever been on your radar, but should be! While you will get an overview of these EO's, rest assured that there will be a few more secrets revealed about them in my book! 

So let's get started with Cajeput. Botanically known as Melaleuca Cajuputi, Melaleuca Minor, and Melaleuca Leucadendra, Cajeput essential oil is made from a tree that originated from the Malaya coastal plains. Nicknamed Swamp Tea Tree, Punk Tree, White Tea Tree, White wood, and Paperbark Tree, this vigorous tree grows to a height of about 45 feet, as it crowds out most other trees in its area. Cultivation of this tree is minimal since it is known to spontaneously regrow once it is destroyed.

Largely produced in Napal, Australia and Indonesia, the essential oil of Cajeput is clear to slightly yellow, with a sweet, woodsy, slightly camphoraceous, medicinal odor. It is classified as a top note, but has a sweet, fruity middle note that dries out softly. It possesses antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antineuralgic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, febrifuge, insecticide, sudorific, tonic, vulnerary, and some say analgesic (pain relief) properties.

Cajeput is especially beneficial for arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, colds, coughs, cystitis, flu, insect bites, muscular aches and pains, oily skin, sinusitis, sore throat, urinary tract infections, pms and menopause symptoms, and viral infections. During cold season you can use cajeput much as you would eucalyptus, add it to a diffuser to disinfect the air and to clear congestion. It is also a great addition to your bug repellent formulations, but it may cause skin irritation so keep this in mind as you formulate.Additionally, it should be avoided during pregnancy.

Cajeput is considered stimulating and penetrating. It stimulates and promotes clear thinking. You can put 10 drops into one ounce of a carrier oil, use 4 drops in two cups of hot water for a steam, use in lotion formulations, or even in the bath. You should always perform a patch test though, especially since this EO can be a membrane irritant. This EO's use dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years. It has been revered primarily for its antiseptic properties. In fcat, it has long been a popular household medication in countries such as China, India, and Malaya, where it has predominantly been prescribed for stomach issues, rheumatism, cholera, and various skin diseases. It also has been widely used as a room spray to fend off insects and bed bugs.

Make it Yourself Monday-Winter Ailment Remedies

For many of us it is now Winter time, which frequently means an increase in coughs, colds and flu symptoms. Here are some recipes to address common Winter woes.

Thyme is an effective expectorant and antispetic, as it is rich in germ-killing compounds. For a cough remedy, add one teaspoon dried thyme to one cup of boiling water. Steep for ten minutes, strain, and drink. For sore throats; brew two teaspoons of thyme in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Gargle with the brew, then spit it out.

2 Tbs. lemon
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup hot water
2 Tbs. 90 proof vodka
Mix everything all together and drink it slowly, then go nightie night! *This recipe is NOT intended for children!

In the following recipe, the onion and the garlic are tough on colds and fevers. The honey and the glycerin help to sooth throats, the vodka helps to quiet a cough, and horehound has been used for almost 2000 years for respiratory relief. If you can find the flower tops and the leaves of the horehound herb, you can make your own extract, OR you can simply use a purchased extract. In fact, horehound is not necessary for this recipe to be effective, but it does make the recipe better, so it is worth the effort to find it. If you want to make this for a child, just leave out the vodka.

1 tbs. chopped red onion
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. glycerin
2 Tbs. glycerin
2 Tbs 90 proof vodka
1 tsp. horehound extract

Scratchy or sore throats result from an irritation of the mucus membranes in the throat. To sooth and help settle the irritation, the throat needs to be coated in a pleasant way. The following recipe can be made ahead of time so that you will be ready for your family's needs. It can be adjusted to incorporate your favorite herbs, vitamins, and or flavors! See the notes after the basic recipe for some suggestions.

1 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 cup water

Line a baking pan (9x9) with foil, making sure that the foil goes all the way up the sides of the pan, or you will be sorry! Then, butter the sides of a 2 quart saucepan. Combine the corn syrup, sugar, honey, and water in the pan. Cook over a medium-high heat until the mixture boils. Make sure that you stir constantly, in order to dissolve the sugar and keep it from burning. This usually takes about five minutes, give or take a few minutes. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking at a light boil. Stir occasionally. Once it reaches the soft crack stage (which is 290 degrees F. on a candy thermometer), keep cooking for 20 more minutes, still stirring occasionally. 

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Stir it occasionally, as it cools, for the next 2-3 minutes, then add the lemon. **If you are going to add any other vitamins or herbs, add them at this point**  Then pour the mixture into the foil-lined pan to finish cooling. As it cools (another 3-10 minutes), it is a good idea to use a spatula and mark some "break" lines into the drops. Make squares in the size you want, remembering that they are for individual-size portions. These marks will stay when the mixture is completely set up, making it easier to portion correctly and consistently. If your marks do not stay, it means that the mixture is still too hot and needs more cooling time, just wait a while and  try it again. Once properly marked, let the pan sit overnight then use the foil to lift it out of the pan. Break the pieces apart along your marks then package them in individual candy wrappers or wax paper. Make sure to twist each end tightly, then put all of the wrapped pieces into a large baggie or a paper bag. This recipe will make from 100-200 pieces, depending upon the size that you mark and break. They will last from 6-8 months, when properly wrapped and stored.

**To make this recipe more holistic and herbal you can add one each of the  
following; zinc, vitamin C, echinacea, and goldenseal. If these are in tablet form, finely crush them before adding, if in capsules, just pull apart and drop the inner content into your mixture. 

Of course you could also change up this recipe by either substituting (for the lemon), or just by adding an herb or two (some essential oils are ok too) to the lemon.
*when using fresh herbs, it is probably best to infuse them into the liquid portion of the recipe, but you can also finely chop them. 
*You may also substitute a food-safe flavoring oil, however you will NOT receive any of the benefits listed for that flavor. The way in which they are created destroys their natural benefits.
*If you plan to use essential oils, you MUST be aware of, and familiar with, the warnings, as well as the necessary dilution rate (which are not provided for you here). 
*If you are not familiar with the proper use of essential oils in edible products, you should NOTattempt to use them in this recipe.
If you want, you may add another herb/spice (in addition) to the lemon. Basil, bay, bergamot, black pepper, clary sage, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lime, orange, rosemary, vanilla, all blend well with lemon. If you would like to substitute another herb/spice for the lemon, you may want to consider one of the following;
-Basil has a beneficial action on the respiratory tract, and is often used for asthma, bronchitis, colds, coughs and sinus infections. It blends well with; black pepper, ginger, geranium, grapefruit, lavender and lemon. 
-Black Pepper has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, and is good for coughs, colds and flus. It blends well with bergamot, clary sage, coriander, fennel, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, orange, nutmeg, and rosemary. 
-Ginger is good for colds and flu, congestion, coughs, sinusitis, sore throats,   fever and chills. It does have a slight warming affect, so be extra cautious in the amount that you add. It blends well with; basil, black pepper, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, coriander, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon, lime, orange, rose, rosemary, spearmint, and vanilla. 
-Geranium is good for sore throats and tonsillitis, and blends well with; basil, grapefruit, lavender, lime, orange, and rosemary.
-Grapefruit is good for colds, flu, and headaches and blends well with; basil, black pepper, geranium, lavender, lime, and lemon.
-Lavender is good for bronchitis, asthma, colds, laryngitis, and throat infections. It will blends well with everything, so use your imagination.
-Lemongrass is good for sore throats, laryngitis, and fever as well as  indigestion and gastroenteritis. It blends well with; basil, bergamot, black Pepper, clary Sage, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, lavender, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, rose, and vanilla.
-Lime is good fevers, colds, sore throats, flu, coughs, bronchitis, sinusitis and  asthma. It blends well with; basil, clary sage, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, orange, peppermint, rose, rosemary, and spearmint. 
-Margoram, an antiseptic and calming agent
-Eucalyptus, an antiseptic and calming agent, good for bronchitis, colds, flu, headaches, sinusitis sore throats, and throat infections. The antiseptic properties in the essential oil increase with age. 
-Orange (Sweet) is good for colds, flu, and fever, blending well with; basil, black Pepper, cinnamon, ginger, clary Sage, lavender, lime, peppermint, and  spearmint.
-Peppermint, an antiseptic, expectorant and a muscle relaxant, so it is good for   
dry coughs, sinus congestion, asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia, as well as   bad breath (in case you want to make breath drops along with the throat drops). Peppermint blends well with; basil, black pepper, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon, lime, orange, and rosemary.
-Rose (use pure essential oil or untreated rose petals to infuse the water) posses anti-infectious, antiseptic, antiviral, and bactericidal properties that help with asthma, headaches, and coughs. It blends well with; bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, lavender, lemon, and madarin.  
-Rosemary is an antiseptic and works well for respiratory track issues, including asthma and bronchitis. It blends well with; basil, bay, black pepper, chamomile, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, lime, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, rose and spearmint.
-Spearmint. While spearmint has properties of a local anesthetic, an antiseptic, a decongestant and an expectorant which can benefit fevers, headaches, asthma, bronchitis and colds, its effects are less powerful than those of peppermint. For this reason, spearmint may be better in children's products. It blends well with; basil, lavender, peppermint and rosemary.  
-Thyme is frequently used in commercial applications of mouthwash, gargles, toothpastes and cough drops because of its analgesic, antifungal,  anti-infectious, antimicrobial, anti-oxidant, and antiseptic properties. It is good for bronchitis, chills, colds, coughs, sinusitis, sore throats, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. It blends well with; bergamot, clary sage, eucalyptus, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, marjoram, and rosemary. 
I am sure there are other additive that would also be helpful, but these are what came to mind. 

This recipe will help with the symptoms of a cold as you soak in a nice warm bath. 
You will need;
1/4 cup of  baking soda 
1/4 cup of powdered citric acid
a few drops of sweet almond oil or your choice of a similar oil 
4 drops of an Essential Oil or EO blend 
To make, simply mix the baking soda with the essential oil(s), and work it through until there are no clumps. You can use the back of a spoon to mash them out, or you can use a sifter to sift them out, or you can used a gloved hand, whichever way you prefer. Then add in the citric acid and begin squeezing it through your hands, working it like dough. You need to be gloved when doing this. Add oil by the drops as you work the ingredients together. When you have a consistency that holds together when its squished into a ball, you have it right. If the mix looks very dry, is crumbly, or falls apart, just add a bit more oil. Use caution though, you don't want to over-use oil, or you will cause the fizzy to not set up properly. If you start on the low end of oil addition, adding it by drops, you can always add more if/when you need it. While you can always add more, you can never take it back out!

Once everything is mixed, you can use it as is, or you can press it into a soap or candy mold to get a stylish shape. If you use a mold, you will want to overfill the mold cavity with your mix, then press it down hard, very hard. Once all the cavities are over-full, place a clean dishcloth over the entire mold, and place a book or two on top to apply pressure and to help it finish compressing into the mold. Leave it set up over night.

After they are set, hold the mold with both hands, and gently turn it upside down, close to the table top. With your thumbs, gently push the back of the filled cavity to release it. Don't let it hit the table hard, as it will break. These will last 3-6 months, but you don't want to mix up a large batch at any one given time, because the mix can react to moisture and get hard. To help avoid this possibility, store these in an airtight container.

Now, you probably thought that I forgot to give you the details of exactly which essential oils to use, but I didn't! I am going to list all of the ones that you could use, the ones that are [reported to be] beneficial for cold symptoms. then, you can choose which one or more that you want to add, depending upon what you have available, and what you like. If you are familiar with them, you can choose which ones work better for you and your current symptoms.

Please note that using essential oils for an ailment, or symptoms of ailments, is not approved by the FDA. This blog and its information is not intended to treat, prescribe, or in any way, replace the advice of your physician. The information provided in purely educational, and may be inaccurate and/or incomplete. Please see the disclaimer page tab at the top of this post for more detailed information on this matter. 

This essential oil list is pretty lengthy. While they all have properties that are said to benefit stuffy heads and the various symptoms of a cold,  I have keyed the oils, with letters, to identify oils that also have  properties said to benefit particular symptoms associated with the issues referred to. A= asthma,  B= bronchitis, CC= cough and cold,  F= flu, and  S= sinusitis

angelica root- B,CC       
all spice- B,CC      
black pepper-cough                                
clary sage- whooping cough                    
eucalyptus-A B C F (not for kids)           
fennel- A B                    
Frankincense-A B CC F
ginger- cold, congestion, F                      
myrtle- A F                    
patchouli- congestion
myrrh- A B CC                                      
grapefruit- cold and congestion
hyssop A B CC & whooping cough        
jasmine- cough                 
lavender A F cold
lemon B F fever                                      
lime A B F cold fever      
marjoram head cold, congestion
peppermint F                                          
pine A F cold                  
orange B cold
rose A                                                    
rosemary B CC              
rosewood CC respiratory infection
sandalwood B cough                             
tea tree A CC S              
red thyme A CC S

Certainly this list may not be all inclusive, it is just the culmination of years of my note taking....so it could also contain a mistake or two as well, but this is it to the best of my recollection! I hope you find it informative. There are certainly enough oils that you should be able to come up with a combination or two that you enjoy the scent of , and that may help relieve some of your cold symptoms.
Of course you should seek medical attention for any severe or lasting symptoms.

Franley Speaking Friday- It's all about Womanly Issues

Both blessed and cursed, women must deal with hormonal issues all throughout their lives. Many experience moodiness and may even have pain during their monthly cycle. From swelling and bloating to cramping and crying, woman suffer as their hormones fluctuate. Then, right when endure must cope with the uncomfortable cycle of life. Those they are rejoicing about no more monthly menses, the hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings kick into full swing. BTW, are you catching a commonality here? Menstration, Men opauselol. Anyway, many women just suffer in silence....well maybe not so much silence, if you ask their family, but they endure without medical intervention. Others seek medical consultation, but find no answers from the (male) doctors. Just the other day in a chat room for a game I play, I noticed that several women were discussing the woes of menopause, and how they have been unable to get any relief. In fact, a several said that they had approached a physician and "he" heard their age and told them that there was nothing to do but suffer. Well I don't agree with that at all! There is, of course, hormone replacement therapy. Of course this is not appropriate for everyone and must be prescribed. Then there are some alternative treatments. One relatively new product is called "progesta care". This comes in a cream and a spray, is supposedly "natural", and is to work like a prescription hormone without the negative effects. One of the woman in the discussion I mentioned suggested it, and stated that it works for her. I am not sure how I feel about it yet, but I have begun some research on it. I can tell you that this company was cited in the past for making medical claims and also was advised that one of their ingredients was soon to be considered a controlled substance. They have since removed that ingredient, however they have gone back to the same terminology that got them cited where the claims are concerned. At any rate, I am having a difficult time finding research to back up their claims, but since one woman swears by it, I am going to keep digging. 
Of course there are also several essential oils that have properties to soothe many physical and mood issues. I know it's not a Monday, but here are some recipes that may come in handy for you!

Premenstrual Mist Spray
35 drops Indian Sandalwood EO
35 drops Ylang Ylan EO
35 drops  Lime EO
35 drops Bergamot EO
30 drops Palmarosa EO
30 drops (French) Lavender EO
120 ml Orange Hydrosol

Mix the essential oils into the orange hydrosol (flower water). Place in a spray bottle, shake well and spray into the air. If you cannot get the orange flower water, you may add 15 drops of orange EO to 120 ml of distilled water and use this instead. This mist is intended to remedy your mood and make PMS symptoms more bearable.

Massage Oil for Premenstrual Symptoms
7 drops Bergamot EO
20 drops Indian Sandalwood EO
8 drops Ylang Ylang EO
5 drops Geranium Bourbon EO
10 drops Neroli EO
30 ml Sweet Almond Oil

Blend the essential oils with the carrier oil. Mix well, then use to massage into the lower back. Use a firm, circular motion for best results. This massage remedy is meant to help alleviate PMS ailments.

Moody Blues and PMS
3 drops Petitgrain EO
3 drops (Red) Mandarin EO
2 drops Geranium EO
2 drops (Bulgarian) Lavender
10 drops Apricot Kernel Oil (you may use Sweet Almond Oil instead if you wish)

Blend the essential oils into the carrier oil. Mix well. Massage this ointment into the neck and the shoulders, or the full body. You may also delete the Apricot KernalOil from the recipe and then use the remaining ingredients as a bath blitzer, in a vaporizer or in an oil burner to help uplift your spirits and reduce or alleviatethe symptoms of PMS.

Uplifting and Refreshing for Menopause
1 drop Jasmine EO
2 drops Clary Sage EO
1 drop Rose Morocco Absolute
1 drop Ylang Ylang EO

This mixture will uplift spirits and refresh you, and is especially beneficial for those going through menopause. This mixture is best utilized in an Aromatherapy lamp, an electric diffuser, an oil burner or a light bulb ring. You can also just add a few drops of the oil mixture to boiling water, stand close and breathe in. This is a quick and easy way to diffuse throughout a room, and basically get a steam inhalation in the process.

Jittery Legs, Cramps & Spasms 
6 drops (French) Lavender EO
2 drops Black Pepper EO
6 drops Margoram EO
25ml Sweet Almond Oil 

Mix all the ingredients together, then gently massage into the whole leg twice daily.

Menstrual Cramps Aromatherapy Blend
10 drops Cypress EO
15 drops Peppermint EO
5 drops (French) Lavender EO
1 ounce Apricot Kernel Oil

Mix the oils together and place in a dark-colored glass container. Store out of the sunlight. Use a small amount of this mixture to gently message into the abdominal area. You may eliminate the carrier oil and use the essential oils for a bath blitzer or in a diffuser for aromatherapy.

Hormone Balancer Aromatherapy
2 drops Sage EO
1 drop Sweet Fennel EO
1 drop Myrtle EO
1 drop Peppermint EO- use the triple distilled
1 drop Clary Sage EO
2 drops (Russian) Lavender EO
2 oz Sweet Almond (carrier) Oil

Mix all the oils together and place in a dark-colored, glass bottle. Store out of sunlight. Use a small amount to gently massage into the abdominal area for relief of symptoms.
This mixture is intended to balance male energy and prostate function for men, balance female energy andalleviate hot flashes for women.