essentialoilblogging


1 Comment

HOW to read the dilution chart

 

The dilution chart. We often get asked just HOW in the world you read this thing. We realize that this might seem intimidating – but we promise it’s not as bad as it seems! It’s important to remember that ANYTIME you apply essential oils to the skin, you’ll want to use a carrier oil. This chart helps you find the right ratio for your situation. Check out the illustration below for some guidance and the following discussion for some clarifications:

Dilution Chart Explination

Once you learn how to how to read the chart there often are more questions:

1. How do I know which dilution rate to use?

For normal, daily use we recommend a dilution rate of 2%. For acute situations, like an injury or temporary condition you can go up to 5% for a SHORT period of time. How long is this? Typically less than 2 weeks.

 2. How do I get .5 of a drop?

You don’t. If you really want to be exact, you need to increase the amount of carrier until you come across a whole number! If you can’t do this, just round DOWN to the next whole number (example 1.5 drops becomes just 1 drop).

3. What about use on the face?

This normally means you’d like to blend into a facial serum or cream and will be using it daily. Stick to 1% dilution – the skin on your face is more sensitive and you should use a lower dilution.

4. What about my kids? or Babies?

For use with children, you can see guidelines in the bottom block. For the most part, we feel like a 2% dilution for spot treatments is fine. You’ll notice that this block refers to WHOLE BODY APPLICATION. Since we rarely cover our entire bodies in essential oils – a 2% dilution is fine.

5. What is “whole body application”?

In the case of a massage (or body cream) where a large portion of the skin is covered, you want to use a lower dilution. Since so much surface area is affected, this increases the total rate of absorption for your body.

That should cover most of the FAQs regarding this dilution chart. However, as always, we want to hear from you! Contact us by emailing Aromatherapist@planttherapy.com for any questions, concerns or comments you may have. You can join our Facebook group Safe Essential Oil Recipes and participate in lively conversation with other essential oils users. We have your safety in mind – so come hang out with us to learn even more! We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 


Leave a comment

C02 Extracts—What’s All the Buzz About? (Part 1)

CO2

Lately, it seems that “C02 extracts” are being mentioned on almost every aromatherapy page. What are C02 extracts? How are they made? Are they even considered essential oils?  To better understand the C02 extraction process, let’s review some other ways that essential oils are obtained.  Christina Smith discussed some of these methods previously in her blog post Essential Oil Extraction 101.

Steam Distillation

Most of the essential oils we know and love are obtained by way of steam distillation, which is done inside of a “still”.  The basic process involves four separate parts.  Water is heated to boiling in the first chamber. The steam that’s produced is forced into a second chamber containing plant material such as lavender flowers, peppermint leaves, etc.  Essential oil that is found inside plant cells is forced out by the heated steam. The essential oil vaporizes, joins with the steam and is carried across a cooling mechanism called the condenser (blue coil, pictured). The condenser cools the mixture, which results in a change from a gaseous form (steam) to a liquid state (water and liquid oil).  When the vapors condense back into the liquid state, they drip into a third chamber called the condensation or collection chamber. Since we know that oil and water don’t mix, you can guess what happens next. The essential oil layer floats on top of the water layer (hydrosol, also called hydrolat).  The two layers can then be separated and bottled. [1]

3690476

Cold-Pressing

Citrus fruits contain essential oil in the glands of the outer peel.  Cold-pressed essential oils are obtained from the fruit by mechanically puncturing either the citrus peels or the whole fruit and collecting the expressed liquid. The oil and aqueous (water/juice) layers can then be separated. [2]

0

Solvent Extraction–Absolutes

Absolutes are technically not considered essential oils.  They are extracted via a multi-step process, and are used with more delicate plant materials (such as jasmine flowers) that wouldn’t survive the heat of steam distillation. As Christina described in her blog post, absolutes are obtained by this process:

1. Plant material is macerated in a solvent, usually hexane

2. After several days the solvent is removed, leaving the viscous, fragrant “concrete”

3.  The concrete is dissolved with high-proof alcohol

4.  The mixture is chilled, and separates into plant waxes and fragrant tincture

5.  The fragrant tincture is vacuum distilled to evaporate off the alcohol, leaving an absolute. [3,4]

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 12.37.08 PM

Solvent Extraction–C02

Carbon dioxide (chemical abbreviation= “C02”) is a gas familiar to most people: it’s what we exhale during breathing. We breathe oxygen into the lungs during inhalation and exhale carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of the body’s metabolism.  But how does carbon dioxide help produce oil? (Like absolutes, C02 extracts aren’t considered true essential oils, such as those obtained by steam distillation and cold-pressing.)

Under pressure, C02 gas transforms into an “almost” liquid state called the supercritical state. Plant material is placed into an airtight receptacle, and carbon dioxide gas is pumped in under pressure; low heat is also applied to aid extraction. As the pressure inside the container rises, the C02 gas nearly liquifies, bathing the plant material in supercritical C02.  The combination of high pressure and low temperatures encourages the plant material to releases its aromatic components.  After a period of time, pressure is reduced and the supercritical C02 then changes back to its gaseous state, completely dissipating from the extracted material.

429-59817Promo Image - Compound extraction with supercritical CO2

Because lower temperatures are used during the process, heat-sensitive plant components that might be destroyed or inactivated during steam distillation are preserved in the C02 extract.  The combination of lower temperatures and (generally) lower pressure means that C02 extracts contain more of a plant’s original constituents than steam distilled oils.  According to Dutch aromatherapist Madeleine Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes, the scent of C02 extracted oils is [generally] “richer and more intense because more aromatic components are present”[5 ].

A perfect example of this is a wonderfully aromatic ginger C02 extract carried by Plant Therapy.  Steam distilled ginger does not contain the components gingerol or shogaol, which in part give fresh peeled ginger root its characteristic scent.  These components are present in C02 extracted ginger, which gives it a more pleasing scent than the steam distilled oil. C02 extracted ginger is also correspondingly “hotter” than steam distilled ginger, so extra caution in diluting it is warranted.  Plant Therapy also carries a lovely vanilla C02 and turmeric C02 extracts.

C02 extracts are sub-divided into two categories, “select” and “total”.  Select C02s are extracted under lower pressure and resemble essential oils in that they are usually fully liquid, which makes them easier to work with when pipetting or diluting.  Total C02 extracts are extracted under higher pressure and contain more of the plant’s original components, including waxes, fatty oils, and color pigments. Total C02 extractions are more challenging to work with as they are thicker and require special consideration when diluting.  Plant Therapy’s C02 products are of the select variety.

Stay tuned for Part Two, where I’ll discuss how and when to consider using C02 extracts. I’m still learning myself, and I hope you’ll learn along with me!

We want you to learn as much as you want to about essential oils and how to use them safely. If you have any questions, comments or other concerns, you’re welcome to email us at Aromatherapist@plantherapy.com. Or come join us on Facebook at Safe Essential Oil Recipes!

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.33.55 AM

  1. Battaglia, S. 2003. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, publishers, Brisbane.
  2.  Wilson, R. 2002. Aromatherapy-Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty. Avery publishers, New York.
  3.  Pappas, R. 2015. Important Definitions Concerning Aromatic Products. Notes from Essential Oil University Facebook page.
  4.  Smith, C. 2014.  Essential Oil Extraction 101. http://www.essentialoilblogging.com.
  5.  Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes, M. 2015. Complementary Nursing in End of Life Care. Kicozo publishers, the Netherlands.


Leave a comment

You Give Me Fever!

 

 

 

6

Those of us who are a bit more….(ahem) *mature* in age may remember singer Peggy Lee on TV, crooning “You give me fever” into the microphone.

What actually causes fever? How do we “get” one, and why? Is it dangerous, or can it actually be helpful? (<<That’s a hint!)

In today’s post from The Bridge we’ll discuss the genesis of fever and the role it plays in helping the body fight off illness.

 

Fever has been discussed in written history for thousands of years. The Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical text written around 1500 B.C., discusses common medical ailments of the time. Many illnesses, including fever, were treated with a combination of herbs, spices, and magical incantations chanted over the patient by priest-physicians. In one section of the translated papyrus text, there’s a description of an infection accompanied by fever. When a “wound is inflamed…[there is] a concentration of heat; the lips of that wound are reddened and that man is hot in consequence…then you must make cooling substances for him to draw the heat out…leaves of the willow.”[1,2]

Unknown

(Ancient Egyptian physician treating a patient by instilling hippopotamus dung, which was believed to contain disease fighting particles, into the nostrils of a patient.)

 

 

In ancient Roman times, during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, the scholar Aulus Cornelius Celsus described treatment of fever:

“He (the physician) had the patient well covered up to excite at the same time a violent heat and thirst. When the fever began to abate somewhat, he made him drink cold water. If he broke out in a violent sweat, the patient was considered cured.”[3]

In this painting the patient is wrapped in blankets, and the physician also appears to be practicing “cupping”, an ancient method of treating disease.

DBubnaw

In Japanese and Chinese writings dating from the sixteenth century, the use of thermal hot spring baths to treat all manner of illnesses, including fever, was widespread.[2]

02113182

(a bathhouse attendant greets a customer as another finishes a bath)

 

 

During the Middle Ages, blood-letting was a favored cure for fever. The reasoning was that fever is caused by an excess buildup of heat in the blood; therefore, drawing off some of the patient’s blood would remove the source of the fever. The famous “barber pole” with its swirling white and red colors refers not only to the proprietor who would cut hair and shave beards, but also act as blood-letter. There are differing explanations as to what the colors and the pole itself represent; one common description is that the red swirl on the pole represents blood; the white swirl, the tourniquet used to raise veins to the surface of the skin (or the bandages used afterwards), and the pole represents the stick the patient squeezed to help force the flow of blood. [3]

barbers_pole230-197x300

In the 18th and 19th centuries, doctors began treating fevers with anti-pyretic (fever-fighting) medications. In 1763, the Rev. Edward Stone described his success in treating fifty patients with various “agues” (archaic term used to describe fevers) with extracts of white willow bark [4]. We now know that white willow bark contains salicylic acid, and a component similar to this makes up our modern aspirin.

Bayer_Aspirin_ad,_NYT,_February_19,_1917

What does modern medicine tell us about the genesis of fever? When healthy, our bodies maintain a nearly constant temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37.0 degrees Celsius). Fever occurs when the normal “set point” of 98.6 degrees is turned upwards by the hypothalamus, the “thermostat” of the brain. Elevations in body temperature normally happen during illnesses like a bacterial or viral infection, but can also happen in heat exhaustion/heat stroke, after vaccinations, an injury, or in inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. (Fever can even occur with something as simple as overdressing a baby.)

So, what happens in the hypothalamus to cause a fever? In response to one of the conditions described above, the immune system recognizes a threat to the body and goes on high alert. Let’s say that at daycare your child is exposed to hand-foot-mouth disease by a child infected with it. Once infection sets in, body chemicals called pyrogens are produced, either by the virus itself or from body tissues invaded by the virus. These pyrogens are carried throughout the body by the circulatory system to the brain, where they enter the hypothalamus. Although the process is complex, it can be described simply: pyrogens shut off heat-sensing neurons (nerve cells), and turn on cold-sensing neurons. When the cold-sensing neurons are turned on, temperature sensors in the hypothalamus think that the body is colder than it actually is, so it compensates by raising the body temperature several degrees.

A fever is thought to help defend the body because it stimulates the production of white blood cells which help fight infection. Also, a higher body temperature can stimulate the development of antibodies designed to help ward off infection. At the same time, having a fever may actually kill bacteria or viruses that can only survive in a narrow temperature range. So you can see that treating a fever with ibuprofen, tylenol, or aspirin (aspirin shouldn’t used in children) can actually re-set those temperature sensors, thereby telling the immune system to put on the brakes and stop pumping out helpful antibodies and blood cells!

So what should you do, then, if your child gets a fever? Should you treat it or leave it alone? When is a fever dangerous and when can you safely stay at home? Note: **If your child is sick, always contact the primary care physician. The information that follows contains general guidelines which do not apply to every situation, and should not be construed as medical advice.**

When You Might Consider Leaving a Fever “Alone”

The majority of fevers are not dangerous, and as I described above, they can actually aid the body in fighting off illness. When your little one has a mild or low-grade fever (generally considered to be 100.4 to about 101.5 degrees, though sources differ on the range) he/she may be listless or a little sleepy, have that “shiny sick” look in their eyes, may not feel like playing with favorite toys, be “clingy” or not much interested in eating. You’ll feel their hearts beat a little more quickly than normal, and you’ll see that their breathing rate will be a bit faster in response to the fever. While these are all normal symptoms and generally not a cause for concern, there are measures that you can take to help ease your child’s discomfort. Assist your child in feeling better by encouraging rest or cuddling. Taking frequent small sips of water, room temperature chamomile tea or sucking on a popsicle is helpful in maintaining hydration. Giving the child a tepid (lukewarm) sponge bath or a cool cloth on the forehead may help aid comfort. You may consider using Roman chamomile hydrosol, diluted, in a sponge bath or on a cloth for the forehead. Call your doctor’s office to let them know what kind of symptoms your little one is having so they can advise you on a course of treatment.

When You Should Consider Treating a Fever

Should your child complain of severe pain (like a sore throat which makes swallowing difficult, or body aches that make it hard to find a comfortable position), call the doctor’s office. Ask if treating with tylenol or ibuprofen is indicated or if other intervention is necessary.

When You Should Definitely Seek Medical Attention

A high fever (over about 103, though again sources differ), headache, stiff neck, vomiting and/or diarrhea, dry diapers/no tears when crying, or an inability to wake your child means a call to the doctor is in immediate order. If it’s after hours or on the weekend, consider an immediate urgent care/ER visit, and you can always call 911 for help.

Sometimes during a fever, a child will have a febrile seizure. This is a body convulsion brought on by the fever, most often during the first day the child is sick. Febrile seizures are terrifying for parents to witness, but only in the most extreme cases are they harmful to the child. According to the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke, one in 25 children between the ages of 6 months-5 years will suffer at least one febrile seizure.[5] Though the exact cause is unknown, several theories have been advanced. One is that the shivering mechanism the body uses to produce and dissipate heat is immature in infants and toddlers. Instead of inducing shivering to dissipate collected heat from the skin, the brain causes a seizure instead. Other scientists postulate that along with the pyrogens released during an illness, the brain also releases protein-based cytokines, which temporarily “scramble” the circuits in the brain, causing a seizure.[6]

First Aid for a Febrile Seizure

The first thing to remember is to try not to panic. Though I’m an ER nurse who has witnessed countless febrile seizures, when my own daughter had one at 15 months old, I had to fight to remain calm. Most seizures last about 15-30 seconds, but I guarantee it *feels* much longer than that!

Don’t put anything in the child’s mouth. Jaw spasms caused by a seizure are powerful and you can lose a finger if you try to open the mouth to insert something to keep the child’s airway open. Also, the object could break and cause the child to choke.
Move furniture out of the way if the child is on the floor so he/she doesn’t get injured by striking anything while seizing. If your child is in bed, place your body by the edge of the bed to make sure he/she doesn’t fall off. Do not hold or restrain the child during the seizure.
If you have the presence of mind to do so, look at the clock or try to time the seizure so you can relay this information to the doctor.
Once the seizure stops, gently place the child on their side (recovery position) and seek medical attention.
Though fevers are annoying and bothersome, remember that most are harmless and actually help the body fight off infection. Never hesitate to call the doctor if you are unsure or concerned about your child’s condition. In most cases, lots of TLC, rest, and fluids are all that it will take to get your little one back on track.

We want you to learn as much as you want about essential oils and how to use them safely. If you have any questions, comments or other concerns, you’re welcome to email us at aromatherapist@planttherapy.com. Or come join us on Facebook at Safe Essential Oil Recipes!

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.33.55 AM


Leave a comment

“You Give Me Fever”

6

Those of us who are a bit more….(ahem) *mature* in age may remember singer Peggy Lee on TV, crooning “You give me fever” into the microphone.

What actually causes fever? How do we “get” one, and why? Is it dangerous, or can it actually be helpful? (<<That’s a hint!)

In today’s post from The Bridge we’ll discuss the genesis of fever and the role it plays in helping the body fight off illness.

Fever has been discussed in written history for thousands of years. The Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical text written around 1500 B.C., discusses common medical ailments of the time. Many illnesses, including fever, were treated with a combination of herbs, spices, and magical incantations chanted over the patient by priest-physicians. In one section of the translated papyrus text, there’s a description of infection and attendant fever is found.  When a “wound is inflamed…[there is] a concentration of heat; the lips of that wound are reddened and that man is hot in consequence…then you must make cooling substances for him to draw the heat out…leaves of the willow.”[1,2]

Unknown

(Ancient Egyptian physician treating a patient by instilling hippopotamus dung, which was believed to contain disease fighting particles, into the nostrils of a patient.)

In ancient Roman times, during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, the scholar Aulus Cornelius Celsus described treatment of fever:

“He (the physician) had the patient well covered up to excite at the same time a violent heat and thirst. When the fever began to abate somewhat, he made him drink cold water. If he broke out in a violent sweat, the patient was considered cured.”[3]

(In this painting the patient is wrapped in blankets, and the physician also appears to be practicing “cupping”, an ancient method of treating disease.)

DBubnaw

In Japanese and Chinese writings dating from the sixteenth century, the use of thermal hot spring baths to treat all manner of illnesses, including fever, was widespread.[2]

02113182

 (a bathhouse attendant greets a customer as another finishes a bath)

During the Middle Ages, blood-letting was a favored cure for fever. The reasoning was that fever is caused by an excess buildup of heat in the blood; therefore, drawing off some of the patient’s blood would remove the source of the fever. The famous “barber pole” with its swirling white and red colors refers not only to the proprietor who would cut hair and shave beards, but also act as blood-letter. There are differing explanations as to what the colors and the pole itself represent; one common description is that the red swirl on the pole represents blood; the white swirl, the tourniquet used to raise veins to the surface of the skin (or the bandages used afterwards), and the pole represents the stick the patient squeezed to help force the flow of blood. [3]

barbers_pole230-197x300

In the 18th and 19th centuries, doctors began treating fevers with anti-pyretic (fever-fighting) medications.  In 1763, the Rev. Edward Stone described his success in treating fifty patients with various “agues” (archaic term used to describe fevers) with extracts of white willow bark [4].  We now know that white willow bark contains salicylic acid, and a component similar to this makes up our modern aspirin.

Bayer_Aspirin_ad,_NYT,_February_19,_1917

 

What does modern medicine tell us about the genesis of fever? When healthy, our bodies maintain a nearly constant temperature of  98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37.0 degrees Celsius). Fever occurs when the normal “set point” of 98.6 degrees is turned upwards by the hypothalamus, the “thermostat” of the brain. Elevations in body temperature normally happen during illnesses like a bacterial or viral infection, but can also happen in heat exhaustion/heat stroke, after vaccinations, an injury, or in inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.  (Fever can even occur with something as simple as overdressing a baby.)

So, what happens in the hypothalamus to cause a fever?  In response to one of the conditions described above, the immune system recognizes a threat to the body and goes on high alert. Let’s say that at daycare your child is exposed to hand-foot-mouth disease by a child infected with it.  Once infection sets in, body chemicals called pyrogens are produced, either by the virus itself or from body tissues invaded by the virus. These pyrogens are carried throughout the body by the circulatory system to the brain, where they enter the hypothalamus.  Although the process is complex, it can be described simply: pyrogens shut off heat-sensing neurons (nerve cells), and turn on cold-sensing neurons.  When the cold-sensing neurons are turned on, temperature sensors in the hypothalamus think that the body is colder than it actually is, so it compensates by raising the body temperature several degrees.

A fever is thought to help defend the body because it stimulates the production of white blood cells which help fight infection.  Also, a higher body temperature can stimulate the development of antibodies designed to help ward off infection. At the same time, having a fever may actually kill bacteria or viruses that can only survive in a narrow temperature range.  So you can see that treating a fever with ibuprofen, tylenol, or aspirin (aspirin shouldn’t used in children) can actually re-set those temperature sensors, thereby telling the immune system to put on the brakes and stop pumping out helpful antibodies and blood cells!

So what should you do, then, if your child gets a fever? Should you treat it or leave it alone?  When is a fever dangerous and when can you safely stay at home?  Note: **If your child is sick, always contact the primary care physician. The information that follows contains general guidelines which do not apply to every situation, and should not be construed as medical advice.**

When You Might Consider Leaving a Fever “Alone”

 The majority of fevers are not dangerous, and as I described above, they can actually aid the body in fighting off illness. When your little one has a mild or low-grade fever (generally considered to be 100.4 to about 101.5 degrees, though sources differ on the range) he/she may be listless or a little sleepy, have that “shiny sick” look in their eyes, may not feel like playing with favorite toys, be “clingy” or not much interested in eating.  You’ll feel their hearts beat a little more quickly than normal, and you’ll see that their breathing rate will be a bit faster in response to the fever. While these are all normal symptoms and generally not a cause for concern, there are measures that you can take to help ease your child’s discomfort.  Assist your child in feeling better by encouraging rest or cuddling. Taking frequent small sips of water, room temperature chamomile tea or sucking on a popsicle is helpful in maintaining hydration. Giving the child a tepid (lukewarm) sponge bath or a cool cloth on the forehead may help aid comfort.  You may consider using Roman chamomile hydrosol, diluted, in a sponge bath or on a cloth for the forehead. Call your doctor’s office to let them know what kind of symptoms your little one is having so they can advise you on a course of treatment.

When You Should Consider Treating a Fever

Should your child complain of severe pain (like a sore throat which makes swallowing difficult, or body aches that make it hard to find a comfortable position), call the doctor’s office. Ask if treating with tylenol or ibuprofen is indicated or if other intervention is necessary.

When You Should Definitely Seek Medical Attention

A high fever (over about 103, though again sources differ), headache, stiff neck, vomiting and/or diarrhea, dry diapers/no tears when crying, or an inability to wake your child means a call to the doctor is in immediate order. If it’s after hours or on the weekend, consider an immediate urgent care/ER visit, and you can always call 911 for help.

Sometimes during a fever, a child will have a febrile seizure.  This is a body convulsion brought on by the fever, most often during the first day the child is sick. Febrile seizures are terrifying for parents to witness, but only in the most extreme cases are they harmful to the child. According to the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke, one in 25 children between the ages of 6 months-5 years will suffer at least one febrile seizure.[5]  Though the exact cause is unknown, several theories have been advanced. One is that the shivering mechanism the body uses to produce and dissipate heat is immature in infants and toddlers. Instead of inducing shivering to dissipate collected heat from the skin, the brain causes a seizure instead. Other scientists postulate that along with the pyrogens released during an illness, the brain also releases protein-based cytokines, which temporarily “scramble” the circuits in the brain, causing a seizure.[6]

First Aid for a Febrile Seizure

The first thing to remember is to try not to panic.  Though I’m an ER nurse who has witnessed countless febrile seizures, when my own daughter had one at 15 months of age, I had to fight to remain calm. Most seizures last about 15-30 seconds, but I guarantee it *feels* much longer than that!

  • Don’t put anything in the child’s mouth. Jaw spasms caused by a seizure are powerful and you can lose a finger if you try to open the mouth to insert something to keep the child’s airway open. Also, the object could break and cause the child to choke.
  • Move furniture out of the way if the child is on the floor so he/she doesn’t get injured by striking anything while seizing. If your child is in bed, place your body by the edge of the bed to make sure he/she doesn’t fall off. Do not hold or restrain the child during the seizure.
  • If you have the presence of mind to do so, look at the clock or try to time the seizure so you can relay this information to the doctor.
  • Once the seizure stops, gently place the child on their side (recovery position) and seek medical attention.

 

Though fevers are annoying and bothersome, remember that most are harmless and actually help the body fight off infection.  Never hesitate to call the doctor if you are unsure or concerned about your child’s condition. In most cases, lots of TLC, rest, and fluids are all that it will take to get your little one back on track.

 

We want you to learn as much as you want about essential oils and how to use them safely. If you have any questions, comments or other concerns, you’re welcome to email us at Aromatherapist@plantherapy.com. Or come join us on Facebook at Safe Essential Oil Recipes!

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.33.55 AM

 

 

  1. Bryan, PW. The Papyrus Ebers. Geoffrey Bles, London, 1930.
  2. Mackowiak, Philip A. Brief History of Antipyretic Therapy. Oxford Journals, Clinical Infectious Diseases, V.31(5):S154-S156, 2000.
  3. Bierman, William. The History of Fever Therapy in the Treatment of Disease. Bulletin of NY Academic Medicine, V.18(1); 1942.
  4. Medtech website.  Bloodletting is Back! Here’s everything you need to know about this ancient practice. http://www.medtech.edu/blog/the-history-progression-and-modern-stance-on-bloodletting
  5. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Febrile Seizures fact Sheet.  www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/febrile_seizures/detail_febrile_seizures.htm
  6. National Health Services (UK) website. Causes of febrile seizures.  www.nhs.uk/conditions/febrile-convulsions/pages/causes.aspx


Leave a comment

Rash Roundup, Part 2

6

 

In last week’s Rash Roundup-Part 1, we took a look at some of the most common viral and bacterial rashes of childhood. This week’s post examines commonly seen fungal and contact rashes in children and adults. Not every existing fungal or contact rash will be discussed, nor will rare or unusual symptoms be mentioned, only the most commonly seen. This blog post is not intended to be a substitute for medical attention from your physician. If you have worrisome or unusual symptoms or if you have a compromised immune system and have a rash, prompt consultation with your doctor is indicated.

 

Fungal Exanthems (Rashes)

In last week’s post, I mentioned that the medical word for rash is exanthem (plural: exanthems). Fungal exanthems are rashes caused by contact with a fungus in the environment and include athlete’s foot, diaper rash, thrush, and ringworm. Fungal exanthems are most predominant in warm, moist areas of the body.

Athlete’s Foot  (Tinea pedis)      

 

bigstock-Athlete-s-Foot-tinea-Pedis-36876223SM_800x6001

Athlete’s foot is a foot infection caused by a dermatophyte called tinea, which is a disease causing fungus (plural: fungi).  Fungi are found most often in warm, moist places where people walk barefoot, such as gymnasiums, shared showers in locker rooms, and around swimming pools. The fungi are transferred from those surfaces onto the feet.  If conditions are favorable, such as when feet are enclosed in shoes and socks for long periods, dermatophytes are able to penetrate the outermost layer of the skin (the epidermis) and cause infection. This produces the itching, burning, and cracking skin of an athlete’s foot infection.  Treatment of the infection is two-fold; the first and most important treatment is to remove conditions which favor fungal growth.

  •  At home, be barefoot as much as possible
  • Keep toenails short, so fungi have less surface area to live under nails
  • Wear shoes that are made of ventilated mesh or leather. This lets moisture and heat escape better than wearing vinyl or plastic footwear. Try not to wear the same pair of shoes every day in order to allow them to dry and air out more thoroughly. Place shoes out in the sun to dry if possible.
  • Wash and dry feet thoroughly at least once a day, including between the toes. Wear clean white cotton socks to help absorb sweat and change them daily.
  • Wear flip-flop sandals around pools and in shared showers to avoid transferring the fungus or re-infecting yourself.

The second part of treatment includes medications which help kill the dermatophyte fungi. These include creams, powders, and ointments, many of which are available without a doctor’s prescription. Be aware that treatment involves patience and dedication, as it may take weeks of application to produce healing or remission.

Complementary/Alternative remedies*

  • Foot bath, Version 1: place a few tablespoons of Himalayan pink salt or sea salt in a foot bath with warm water and 1/2 cup of apple cider or white vinegar. Soak feet for ten minutes, then dry feet thoroughly. Wash the basin well with hot soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Foot bath, Version two: add 1/2 teaspoon (approximately 50 drops) of tea tree oil into a carrier, like an ounce of vodka or milk, in order to emulsify (blend) the oil with the carrier. Then add the essential oil/carrier mixture to a warm water foot bath and soak for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and dry the feet thoroughly. Wash the foot basin well with hot soapy water and dry.
  • Sprinkling shoes with a bit of arrowroot powder or cornstarch may help absorb moisture.
  • Break out the garlic. Yes, garlic!  Roughly chop or slice fresh garlic and put some between your toes before you put your shoes on in the morning. Your coworkers might wonder who brought Italian takeout, but your feet may thank you!
  • Simmer a finger-sized piece of chopped or grated fresh ginger in water on the stove for 20-30 minutes; let cool and strain out the ginger. Store the infused water in a jar in the fridge, and daily pour a tiny bit out of the jar and rub on clean feet; the let feet air dry. Wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water afterwards.

 

                                     

Diaper Rash

images

 

There are a number of causes of diaper rash, including skin chafing, infrequently changed diapers, new foods, allergies, or illness. If the diaper rash is caused by a fungus, it’s most often caused by a yeast called Candida.  The warm, moist diaper area is an ideal place for yeast to grow. Increasing the frequency of diaper changes is the best way to prevent diaper rash. Replace a soiled diaper as soon as possible after a bowel movement (within 10 minutes if possible) and within an hour or two for a wet diaper.  Airing out baby’s bottom is also a great way to reduce yeast growth on the skin. If baby is awake, try to keep him/her on a non-carpeted surface for easy clean-up if there’s an “accident”. If baby is going down for a nap, place a waterproof sheet underneath the linen on the crib or bed to keep the mattress from being soiled.

Despite keeping baby’s bottom clean and dry, sometimes a fungal rash that spreads over the diaper area can cause great discomfort when urine and feces contact irritated skin. Christina has this “naked” salve recipe in another blog post, you can find it here: DIY Salve. Though the recipe contains no essential oils, she mentions that it’s acceptable to add a couple of drops of lavender or German chamomile essential oil to the recipe (at a 0.25% dilution) for extra skin soothing power.

 

Step 1_ Gather ingredients

Use of unrefined virgin coconut oil during diaper changes is also believed to help promote smooth, healthy skin.

Oral Thrush

Thrush is a fungal rash caused by the Candida species of yeast It normally lives in small amounts in the mouth and other sites in the body, but its numbers are normally kept in check by a healthy immune system. Since infants have an immature immune system, they are more susceptible to developing fungal infections in the mouth. Thrush is characterized by white patches on the tongue, inside of the cheeks, and the throat. It can make nursing painful for both baby and mama, as thrush spreads from baby’s mouth to the breast area. Traditionally, thrush is treated with anti-fungal medications like Nystatin drops for baby and Nystatin cream for the mother’s breast area. There are alternative remedies to treating thrush, including:

  • Dietary changes like reducing or eliminating sugar.  Yeasts feed on sugars, so eliminating them from the diet helps control the yeast population in the body.
  • With your doctor’s advice/guidance, probiotic drops to help control yeast in baby’s mouth may be helpful.
  • Gentian violet is an antiseptic dye which can be painted on mom’s nipples after feedings. If you prefer not to use Nystatin, you can discuss this option with the pediatrician.
  • White vinegar–mix a tablespoon of white vinegar in a cup of water, and dab a bit onto nipples after feeding baby and let dry. Wash hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Cleanliness is of the utmost importance to prevent spread of the infection. If you bottle feed, make sure that bottles and nipples are sterilized, as well as pacifiers. If you breast feed and are pumping, make sure the cup part that fits over the breast is sterilized after each use.
  • Nursing moms may wish to use either disposable or washable cotton pads in their bras to discourage spread of the yeast to bras and/or clothing. If using washable pads, wash in the hottest water recommended by the product manufacturer and add some plain white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

The use of essential oils for thrush is not recommended.

Ringworm (Tinea corporis)

Unknown

Ringworm is a common infection which is not caused by worms! A dermatophyte called tinea is the cause of the condition. Ringworm is characterized by small circular reddened or crusty patches and is generally itchy. It can occur anywhere on the body and is most often easily treated by topical applications of antifungal cream, though more serious cases may involve taking medication by mouth. Andrew Weil MD, a well-respected complementary medicine physician, recommends eating a couple of cloves of raw garlic each day while treating ringworm and changing bed sheets daily while the infection is present. Another treatment he suggests is applying (diluted) tea tree oil to affected areas several times a day until the patches are gone. He also advises continuing to apply diluted tea tree oil for two weeks to areas where the patches were present to ensure that the infection is completely gone.

Contact Exanthems (Rashes)

Contact exanthems (rashes) are caused by contact with a substance that irritates your skin. The most common skin irritants are cosmetics (soap, shampoo, makeup, and perfume), metals (like nickel in costume jewelry), plants like poison ivy/oak/sumac, and clothing detergent.

Plant Exanthems (Rashes)

poison-ivy-rash

Plant rashes are most often caused by direct contact with a plant’s irritant oil.  Indirect contact with a pet which has the oil on its fur or with an object which has the oil present on its surface (like a rake or hoe) is another way to contract a rash.  A more serious reaction can occur if brush which contains irritant plants is burned, and the irritant oil is released into the air to be inhaled into the respiratory tract. Urushiol oil, the sticky substance secreted by the poison ivy/oak/sumac plant, is highly irritating to skin.  It is possible to come into contact with poison ivy plants and not be affected by the itching, burning, blistering rash it causes. This generally means realizing you’ve come into contact with the plant and having quick access to soap and water.  Showering thoroughly within two hours of contact with soap, water, and lots of skin friction to remove the tenacious oil can often prevent or reduce a poison ivy rash. However, most people don’t realize they’ve been in contact with an irritant plant until it’s too late to stop the reaction, or they have limited access to soap and water, such as when trail camping.  In instances where limited water is available, Tecnu is a product which can be applied to the skin, rubbed in thoroughly, and then wiped off with a cloth.

Treatment is symptomatic, and first focuses on completely removing the irritant oil from skin and clothing by thorough washing or use of a product like Tecnu.  Although it’s commonly believed that rupturing poison ivy blisters spreads the rash, this isn’t true. Blister fluid does not contain urushiol oil.  Common medications designed to ease symptoms include calamine lotion and benadryl for itching. Cool compresses or oatmeal baths may help ease the itching and burning that accompanies the rash. In more serious cases, a doctor may prescribe steroids to take by mouth for several days.

Use of essential oils on poison ivy type rashes is not recommended. Skin which is open and weeping is more susceptible to increased irritation or sensitization if oils are applied.

In the case of suspected contact rash from cosmetics, jewelry, or clothing detergents, stopping use of the product(s) for several weeks is often all that is necessary to clear the rash. It may take some trial and error to discover the culprit; it’s more advisable to stop using one product at a time. If several products are discontinued at once, it may not be possible to figure out which one was causing the rash.

 

We want you to learn as much as you want about essential oils and how to use them safely. If you have any questions, comments or other concerns you are welcome to email us at Aromatherapist@plantherapy.com or come join us on Facebook at Safe Essential Oil Recipes!

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.33.55 AM

 

 

 

 

 


2 Comments

Rash Roundup, Part 1

 

6

 

**NOTE: This post is an overview of the most common childhood rashes. Not every disease that causes a rash in children is discussed. Also, not every possible consequence/side effect of a disease state is discussed, only the most common symptoms. If your child has a rash that is accompanied by fever, headache, vomiting, lethargy or other worrisome symptoms, a call to the pediatrician or in some cases an ER visit is warranted. Please be aware that the subject of vaccination is a personal one and has passionate opinions on both sides of the aisle.  I will not entertain discussion of the vaccination issue here or in the comments, as that is not the purpose of this post.**

 

Skin rashes are universal in children as their developing immune systems are challenged by viruses, bacteria, and fungi in the environment. With the exception of contact conditions like poison ivy or a metal allergy, many rashes are a common external manifestation of an internal condition. Part One of this series discusses rashes caused by common viruses and bacteria. Part Two will discuss fungal rashes and those caused by external contact, such as poison ivy or heat rash.

Viral Rashes (Exanthems)

In medical terms, a rash or eruption on the skin is called an exanthem, while the term viral exanthem means that the rash is caused by infection with a virus. Viral exanthems are very common in childhood but can affect adults as well. Five rash-producing illnesses often seen in childhood are discussed below.

 

Roseola

        Roseola-Infantum-Photo

Roseola, also known as roseola infantum, is a generally mild illness. Roseola is caused by two viruses from the herpes virus family, though they’re not the same strains that cause oral cold sores or genital herpes. Roseola is most common in children 6 months to 2 years of age and is rarely seen after age four.[1]  The incubation period of roseola (incubation period is defined as the time period from when the infection enters the body until the time symptoms appear) is 1-2 weeks. Roseola is spread by the droplet route when an infected person coughs or sneezes virus-laden particles and usually is transmitted by a healthy-looking person before any symptoms  occur. The abrupt onset of fever is the first symptom to appear; it usually lasts 2-3 days and may be high (102-103); other symptoms during this period are uncommon. The rash associated with roseola usually starts around the third or fourth day after fever onset and appears as raised red bumps on the back of the neck or upper back, spreading quickly over the trunk to the arms and legs. The rash usually lasts 2-3 days, is not itchy and children often feel and act like their normal selves during this time.  Treatment is supportive, meaning bed rest if the child is fatigued and plenty of fluids. Most modern doctors are now returning to the wisdom of their elders by not treating fever unless your child’s discomfort is extreme.  Some comfort measures to consider before reaching for oral fever reducing medication are:

  • Tepid (lukewarm) bath or sponge bath. Bathing in water colder than lukewarm causes shivering, which is actually the body’s innate response to try and raise its temperature (such as when we shiver in the wintertime).
  • Cool cloth to the forehead
  • Frequent sips of broth/soups
  • Elderberry syrup to help support immunity (elderberry syrup can be purchased at most pharmacies in a pinch; here’s a good recipe for making your own if you have elderberries on hand)
  • Roman chamomile hydrosol in a sponge bath or cloth to the forehead

When your child has roseola, it’s best to keep them home from daycare or school for a few days. Frequent hand washing to prevent the disease spread is important.

 

Fifth Disease (Parvovirus B19)

fitth-disease-in-children

Fifth disease (also known as erythema infectiosum) was originally named as part of a group of common childhood illness. It was the “fifth” viral rash-causing disease seen in children along with measles, rubella, varicella, and roseola. The cause of fifth disease is parvovirus B19, but should not be confused with the parvovirus that dogs and cats get. Parvovirus seen in animals is not transmissible to humans. Fifth disease is most commonly seen in school-age children between the ages of 5-15, but anyone may be infected by it. Transmission is via respiratory droplets such as from coughing or sneezing. [2]

Fifth disease often begins after an incubation period of 4-14 days with a low-grade fever, sniffles and headache. Symptoms are generally mild and pass within a couple of days, and parents conclude that the child is “over” the illness.  However, in most cases of fifth disease, a bright red rash then breaks out on the face, giving rise to the term “slapped cheek” appearance.  Most people with fifth disease are only infectious during the time they have the mild cold-type symptoms, before the appearance of the rash. The illness is generally mild and passes within 5-7 days; however, those with compromised immune systems or pregnant women may be affected more severely. If you are pregnant and contract fifth disease, check with your obstetrician; however, serious complications are not common.  Persons with a certain type of anemia and/or a compromised immune system should contact their doctor for advice.

Treatment is focused on relieving discomfort associated with the cold-type symptoms like rest and frequent fluids. Washing hands frequently to prevent disease spread and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing is always good practice. Teach your child to cough or sneeze into their bent elbow, not their hands.  Once the rash appears, it’s considered safe to send your child back to school or daycare.

 

Hand/Foot/Mouth Disease (Coxsackievirus)

images-1

 

Hand-foot-mouth disease (HFM) is a common illness caused by a member of the Coxsackievirus “A” family.  Hand-Foot-Mouth disease is not the same as Hoof and Mouth Disease, which affects animal livestock and can’t be transmitted from animals to humans. It occurs mainly during the summer and fall in the U.S. and mostly affects those in the 6 months-3 years age range but can occur at any age.  Hand-Foot-Mouth disease is highly contagious with an incubation period of about 1 week, being passed through either direct contact (touch) with an infected person or object or by coughing or sneezing (droplet).  It’s characterized by painful blisters on the inside of the mouth and throat and the palms of hands/soles of the feet; the blisters generally last five to seven days and may burst and peel. Sores in the mouth and throat may be so painful that the child has little interest in eating or drinking.  Coxsackievirus may also be accompanied by fever, headache, or body aches, but many children don’t have these symptoms. Hand-Foot-Mouth disease is considered to be most contagious during the first few days of the illness, and it’s recommended that kids stay home from daycare or school for a few days to avoid spreading the infection. [3]

Treatment is directed towards replacing fluids with frequent small sips of fluids or sucking on popsicles.  Frequent hand-washing is important in helping prevent the spread of illness, though getting children to comply is often difficult because of the uncomfortable blisters on their hands.

 

Varicella

images-1

Varicella (chicken pox) is a disease that was once common in childhood, but is less common today due to a widespread vaccination campaign begun in the U.S in the 1980s. It is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a member of the herpes virus family. The infection is spread either through direct contact (touch) with an infected person or object but is much more commonly spread by droplets through sneezing or coughing. In the U.S., varicella is most commonly seen in unvaccinated children aged 9-11.  The illness has a short incubation period of 1-2 days and usually begins with headache, cough, fever and lack of appetite; a raised red rash typically appears a day or two after the start of the first symptoms.[4]

The varicella rash goes through distinct phases: red, swollen bumps or spots start on the child’s trunk. Spread to the face and neck is usual and is less common on the arms and legs. The bumps turn into fluid-filled blisters; the blisters then swell and pop, leaking their fluid. The third stage is when the lesions “crust” over. Infected persons are most contagious from 1-3 days before the appearance of a rash until the blistered areas crust over, usually 5-7 days after the rash first appears.

The majority of people who get varicella recover completely and uneventfully, though a small minority may develop serious complications. These include children or adults with weakened immune systems stemming from chronic illness or cancer, and pregnant women. Those persons should contact their physician immediately to discuss treatment options.

Treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms. The itching associated with varicella infection can be fierce, and secondary skin infections in small children from scratching are fairly common. Therefore, frequent oatmeal baths, cool compresses, and sometimes antihistamines are employed to help reduce itching.  A soothing hydrosol like lavender or Roman chamomile could be added to the baths or compresses*.

 

Bacterial Rashes (Exanthems)

A bacterial exanthem is a rash caused by being infected with a bacterium. These infections are much less common than viral exanthems and the treatment is different. The most common bacterial exanthem is caused by scarlet fever.

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet-Fever

Scarlet fever (also known as scarlatina) is caused by the same bacterium that is the source of strep throat, Streptococcus pyogenes group A.  Strep is spread by either direct or droplet contact and scarlet fever develops in a small percentage of infected people. It is generally a mild illness and easily cured by antibiotics. If left untreated, however, it can lead to serious complications like rheumatic fever, kidney damage, and pneumonia. Scarlet fever most often occurs in children aged 5-12 after a fairly wide incubation period of 12 hours to 7 days but it can affect older teens and adults as well. The illness starts with complaints of a dry, scratchy, or sore throat accompanied by fever, headache, nausea, and fatigue. After 1-3 days, a bright red rash develops. The scarlet fever rash is usually spread evenly over the body and has a rough, “sand-papery” feel. The tongue may be swollen and very red, having what is called a “strawberry-like” appearance.

Treatment is with an appropriate antibiotic, and after a full 24 hours of dosing, it’s considered safe to return to school, daycare, or work. Frequent sips of broth and other fluids will help soothe a sore throat; and as with most other transmissible illnesses, hand washing to prevent spread of the disease is of critical importance.

Next week, part two of the Rash Roundup will discuss externally produced rashes such as ringworm, poison ivy, and heat rash. See you then on The Bridge!

We want you to learn as much as you want about essential oils and how to use them safely.  If you have any questions, comments or other concerns you are welcome to email us at Aromatherapist@plantherapy.com or come join us on Facebook at Safe Essential Oil Recipes!

c26-B000HKZ85A-disclaimer

 

1.  Roseola. Mayo Clinic website.  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/roseola/basics/definition/con-20023511

2.  Fifth Disease. Centers for Disease Control website. http://www.cdc.gov/parvovirusB19/fifth-disease.html

3. Coxsackieviruses. Medscape e-medicine website. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/215241-overview

4. Varicella. Pubmed Health website.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024798/

5. Scarlet fever. MedicineNet website. http://www.medicinenet.com/scarlet_fever_scarlatina/article.htm

 

 


Leave a comment

Zap the Zits!

6

Whether you call them zits, spots, or pimples, doctors estimate that acne affects more than 80% of people at some point in their lives. Today’s post from The Bridge discusses how and why acne forms in human skin, what the common types of acne are and treatments that exist, both from an allopathic (Western medicine) and complementary/alternative (holistic) standpoint.

History

Acne (Acne vulgaris or common acne) has likely plagued humans for thousands of years. Researchers studying ancient Egyptians and Greeks have found mentions of acne in medical texts of the time. Popular anti-acne and facial scar remedies were found in the boy-King Tutankhamun’s tomb, suggesting that he may have suffered from the condition. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, considered by many to be the father of modern medicine, discusses acne in his text De Morbis Vulgaribus. The vocabulary term he used to describe acne implies that the condition comes “with the first growth of the beard”, signifying around the time of puberty.[1]

Throughout recorded history, there have been a number of theories as to why acne occurs. The 3rd century B.C. poet Theocritus opined that telling lies causes pimples to form on the nose; and in the 4th century A.D. a physician instructed people to wipe their faces with a cloth while watching the skies for a falling star, and consequently, the pimples would fall from the body.  In Elizabethan times, people were believed to have been afflicted with acne via witchcraft hexes or spells.[2]

Even today, there isn’t always agreement on the exact cause of acne, but almost all experts agree that the condition begins when dead skin cells begin to shed and block pores. The dead skin cells then react with sebum, the natural oil that our skin produces. This eventually is what causes an acne lesion to form.  For many years, scientists believed that skin bacteria (including the most common Proprionibacterium acnes) is what caused acne to form.  However, recent studies indicate that while there are “unfriendly” bacteria living on skin that help support the development of acne, there is also a “friendly” strain of the same P. acnes bacterium that actually helps protect skin from forming acne lesions! People have have never been troubled by acne have been found to have high levels of the “friendly” bacterial strain on their skin. Consequently, the theory that bacteria is the cause of acne has been discarded by many researchers.

Many researchers now believe that oxidative stress causes the formation of acne. The theory alleges that the skin’s own natural sebum oil oxidizes (reacts with exposure to oxygen) when exposed to air on the skin’s surface, and this begins a cycle of inflammation. This inflammation may be worsened by one’s own genetics or by conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), stress, diet, gut, or environmental issues.  The following graphic helps explain the cycle:

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 11.10.10 PM

Regardless of which theory is actually correct, acne causes a great deal of mental stress, to the point where people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on products and medications designed to help heal their skin.

Types of Acne

  • Comedones (blackheads and whiteheads)

 When a hair follicle gets clogged with dead skin cells and sebum, this is the beginning of a comedo (“comedones” is the plural of comedo). The illustration below shows what happens in the shaft of the hair follicle when comedones form: [3]

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 11.30.35 PM

Blackheads are comedones that are “open” at the surface of the skin. I used to think as a teenager that blackheads were caused by trapped dirt in my skin pores. Remember how sebum oxidation was mentioned above as the most likely cause of acne? It is sebum’s chemical reaction with air on the surface of the skin that causes it to turn black. In contrast, whitehead comedones stay “closed” at the surface of the skin. Since the sebum is closed off to air, the comedo doesn’t turn black.

  • Papules and Pustules

 When comedones become increasingly red, irritated or inflamed, they can worsen, progressing to papules or pustules. This indicates a more severe form of acne. (see illustration)

 Unknown

  • Nodules and Cysts 

Nodules and cysts are the most severe forms of acne and form large, painful swellings on the face and/or body. This type of acne can lead to permanent pitting and scarring and often causes great emotional distress. (see illustration)

images

Treatments

Many treatments exist for acne, and they are dependent upon contributing factors such as the type of acne, hormonal shifts, and age and skin type. Allopathic (Western) medical treatments for acne include topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide, which reduces the amount of skin bacteria and is a drying agent; antibiotic gels which reduce bacterial population on the skin, and retinoid creams, which help unclog pores and speed cell turnover.

Systemic (internal) anti-acne agents include antibiotic pills, hormones like the birth control pill for women who have hormonally-mediated acne, and Isotretinoin (Accutane), a powerful medication used only in the most persistent cases of nodular or cystic acne, as it carries the risk of significant side effects.[4]

Other allopathic methods of acne treatment involving neither topical nor internal methods include lasers and other light therapies, chemical peels, and incision and drainage of large cysts by the dermatologist.

Complementary/Alternative/Holistic Treatment Methods

  • Diet

Although medical science has disproven the old adage that greasy fried foods and chocolate worsen acne, eating a healthy diet full of vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, and protein supports all body processes, including promoting healthy skin.  Some researchers tout the benefits of fish oil, especially fermented cod liver oil, in reducing the appearance of acne. Also, carefully choosing your diet to limit foods believed to cause gut or immune issues, such as gluten-rich foods or dairy, may be helpful. Proper hydration with water is also important.

  • Honey

Although definitive studies have yet to be published supporting this treatment, honey (especially manuka honey) has been shown to positively affect the appearance of skin breakouts. It’s theorized that the honey reduces the amount of destructive “free radicals” (oxidizing substances) on the skin.

  • Oil Cleansing

An increasingly popular method of controlling acne is the oil cleansing method. Simply put, the skin’s natural sebum (oil) is secreted to help protect skin, keeping it smooth and supple. If sebum is continuously stripped away by harsh skin cleansers or topical medication like benzoyl peroxide, the body says “Uh oh! There’s not enough sebum going to the skin–I have to make MORE!”  This leads to a vicious cycle of more sebum production, which can lead to more acne.  The oil cleansing method may seem like exactly the wrong thing to do–“I have oily skin and you want me to put *more* oil on it??” but many people find that it balances the production of sebum, thereby leading to clearer skin.

How to do the oil cleansing method: take a room temperature carrier oil (like one of the carrier oils featured in today’s Day 22 Christmas in July sale!) and massage a teaspoon or two thoroughly into your skin. Then take a very warm wet washcloth to remove the oil, pat dry, and voilà, you’re done!  You might ask “But which carrier oil should I use?”  The answer is somewhat dependent upon your skin type.

  • Almond, sweet  (all skin types, especially oily)
  • Apricot kernel (dry, mature, or “normal” skin types)
  • Argan (all types, but especially mature skin)
  • Avocado (mature and very dry skin)
  • Camellia seed (mature skin)
  • Evening primrose (dry, mature, or hormonal skin)
  • Grapeseed (all skin types, but especially oily)
  • Hazelnut (oily/acne prone skin)
  • Jojoba (since jojoba is a plant wax that closely mimics the structure of skin’s own sebum, it’s ideal for many skin types)
  • Sunflower Seed (all skin types)

The above is not an all-inclusive list; note that fractionated coconut oil doesn’t make the list as it tends to be comedogenic (clogs pores). The list also doesn’t take into account individual skin type; for instance, jojoba is supposed to be non-comedogenic, but I break out when I use it. Conversely, rose hip seed oil is known to be comedogenic, but I can use it without breaking out; so sometimes a little trial and error testing is called for. For more information on the oil cleansing method, see Christina’s blog post and also Retha’s post about choosing a carrier oil.

Essential Oils

There are a number of essential oils believed to be helpful in promoting or maintaining clear, smooth skin. These include:

  • Bergamot
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Palmarosa
  • Australian sandalwood
  • Rosemary
  • Tea tree

Again, the list is not all-inclusive. Proper dilution of essential oils for topical use on the skin is imperative; we recommend no stronger than a 1% dilution for use on the face.  Caution is necessary to avoid sun exposure when using an oil that has phototoxic properties such as bergamot.

Making positive changes to your diet, reducing stress in your life, and finding a cleansing method that works for you may all help improve the vibrant, healthy look of your skin!

We want you to learn as much as you want about essential oils and how to use them safely.  If you have any questions, comments or other concerns you are welcome to email us at Aromatherapist@planttherapy.com or come join us on Facebook at Safe Essential Oil Recipes!

 

c26-B000HKZ85A-disclaimer

 

1. Grant RNR, MD.  The History of Acne. Proc R Soc Med, Vol. 44 (8); 1951

2. Puusa, S.  Acne Einstein website, http://www.acneeinstein.com

3. WebMD. Acne Visual Dictionary. http://www.webmd.com

4. American Academy of Dermatology website. Isotretinoin. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/i—l/isotretinoin