Anti-Allergy Cream

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The base of this cream contains Shea butter, which has natural anti-inflammatory properties. To this I added rosehip seed oil and jojoba oil, which are used to reduce itching associated with allergic skin reactions. The essential oil blend for this cream contains Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Melissa, which has an anti-histamine effect on the skin; reducing inflammation and calming itching. The lavender has the additional effect of soothing insect bites and stings.

Caution: It is not advisable to use this cream during pregnancy.

Some essential oils can cause sensitivity and if sensitivity does occur, discontinue use.

While the essential oils do provide a degree of preservation to the cream, it is advisable to use the cream within 3 months. My products are made to order to extend the shelf life for as long as possible.

Quantity: 50 ml

Price: R87 (excluding shipping –contact me for delivery options)

Please place your orders through the Contact page.

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Aromatic Gifts

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For this section I was going to discuss the fragrant gifts and valuable offerings mentioned in the bible. Everyone is familiar with the gifts of the magi described in Matthew 2:11; which included myrrh and incense (often interpreted as frankincense). Then there are the tributes that the Queen of Sheba paid to King Solomon and the gifts Israel told his sons to take to Egypt to appease the official (who was, unbeknownst to them, their brother Joseph). These included myrrh, balm, spices, honey, almonds and pistachio nuts.

 

However, I have been battling with this particular topic. I don’t believe it is because there is a lack of material, because there really is much more than I have mentioned and each instance can be examined in great detail going into why these fragrances were chosen and deemed appropriate for gifts. It is also not because there is no link between the bible and aromatherapy in this instance because many of these aromatic gifts are still very much in use in aromatherapy today (insert a witty punt for my products which can be bought for gifts, hint, hint).

 

I believe the reason I have been battling is because of a lack of focus. Or, more importantly, an inaccurate focus. The most fragrant gift we have ever received is the gift of eternal life. God looked at Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and He found it to be a pleasing aroma (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV):

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

In the same way, the most fragrant gift we can offer to God, our Saviour and Creator, is sincere prayers and praises. Revelations and a number of apocryphal books depict angels offering the prayers of the saints to God as bowls of incense:

…Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

– Revelations 5:8 (NIV).

 

Our relationship with God does not exist in isolation. The same is true for our relationship with God. This is not a two-way street; it is a trinity of aromatic gifts. The fragrant gift of eternal life, the sweet incense of our prayers to God, and the aroma of Christ – as second Corinthians describes:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

– 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

The third fragrance is our lives as Christians, bringing aroma to those whose lives we touch. For those who are searching for Christ and are newly saved, we should be a pleasant aroma; while to those who are unsaved and not searching for salvation, we are actually quite sickening and foul to be around. If it is not that way, we need to ask ourselves if we really are giving off the right scent. This is a point I battle with the most, as I’m sure many do. Who wants to be repellent to people? And yet, that is exactly what we should be. As Paul says, “Who is equal to such a task?” Certainly not me. I am a poor example to follow and have made too many life choices that would sour in God’s nostrils. In fact, I have absolutely no business writing this at all. I am not a biblical scholar. I am not as well versed in the bible as I should be. And I certainly have no wisdom to impart (except that which comes from experience of doing what I should not have done). But this has given me something to think about, something to strive for: to live a life of spiritual aromatherapy; pleasing to God and soothing to my Christian family.

Healing Treatments

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Plants have been used extensively for medicinal purposes from the time when disease first entered the world. These plants were processed into medicines using various techniques, for example cold pressing the plant to extract the oil, as is done in order to extract olive oil; or infusions of the plant material in oil. Resins such as frankincense and myrrh were ground into a powder and some plants were dried before being ground into powdered form.

 

The Balm of Gilead was well-known for its healing properties and by all accounts was a very expensive and effective treatment:

As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

– Genesis 37:25 (NIV)

In this passage the balm is given special mention along with myrrh, which was an expensive resin. Further on in Genesis, the balm was again mentioned as among the best products of the land:

Then their father  Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift – a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.”

– Genesis 43:11 (NIV)

The healing properties of the balm of Gilead are inferred in a number of instances throughout the Old Testament:

The men designated by name took the prisoners and from the plunder they clothed all who were naked. They provided them with clothes and sandals, food and drink, and healing balm.

– 2 Chronicles 28:15 (NIV)

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?

– Jeremiah 8:22 (NIV)

“Go up to Gilead and get balm, O Virgin Daughter of Egypt. But you multiply remedies in vain; there is no healing for you.”

– Jeremiah 46:11 (NIV)

Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed.

– Jeremiah 51:8 (NIV)

The balm of Gilead is thought to be the species Commiphora gileadensis, a member of the family Burseraceae, as are frankincense and myrrh [1] [2]. This was an exceptionally expensive resin and was useful for the treatment of a variety of ailments, including headaches, cataracts, and diminishing eye sight. The resin was extracted using knives of bone, stone or glass. Deep cuts using iron or steel would apparently cause the tree to die [2]. In the Medieval period this oil was thought to delay aging and cure “evil vapours of the stomach” and so was probably used as a poison antidote. The balm of Gilead was also used to treat wounds, colds, tremors, urinary tract stones, ulcers, spasms and ruptures and as an anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and to reduce fevers, heart rate and blood pressure [1].

 

Myrrh was used in Greco-Roman times as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory, being prescribed for pain in the ear, eye, nose, anus (probably for haemorrhoids), the side, and the liver. Being in the same genus as the Balm of Gilead, it would have similar phytochemical components and so similar properties and uses. It is mentioned in the gospel of Mark as being given to Jesus at Golgotha just before he was crucified:

Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

– Mark 15:23 (NIV)

Myrrh also promoted healing and was used in plasters to bandage broken heads and in the treatment of bladder stones, abscesses, inflammation of the genitals and uvula and to induce menstruation.

 

In the gospel of Matthew there is a different medicinal plant mentioned as being given to Jesus at Golgotha which was mixed with wine before his crucifixion:

There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

– Matthew 27:34 (NIV).

According to Tenney, gall is the juice of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, which induces a deep sleep [3].

 

Aside from these plants, the bible mentions healing oils in a number of places, but no specific ingredients are given:

They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

– Mark 6:13 (NIV)

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord

– James 5:14 (NIV)

 

 

Based on the historical record of medical practices at the time we can assume the use of certain plants and oils for treating various ailments. Olive oil in itself was viewed as medicinal and Greek physicians would often massage their patients and athletes with oil as a treatment for ailments or sports injuries [2]. Medical practice in Jesus’ time was expensive and rudimentary. Most treatments consisted of rest, massage, and changing diets [4].

Frankincense was used by Greco-Roman medical practitioners in a number of medicinal applications [5]. It aided in clotting blood and was used to heal wounds, stop bleeding, treat haemorrhages emanating from the throat and mouth. It also served as an antidote to poisons such as hemlock. The analgesic properties of frankincense made it useful for treating chest pains and pains in the side. Frankincense was also used to treat abscesses, haemorrhoids, ulcers and bruises [1]. In some instances, it was even said to be used to treat paralysis.

 

References:

  1. S. Ben-Yehoshua, C. Borowitz and L. O. Hanus, “Frankincense, Myrrh, and Balm of Gilead: Ancient Spices of Southern Arabia and Judea,” in Horticultural Reviews Volume 39, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012, pp. 1-76.
  2. J. A. Duke, Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of the Bible, New York: CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group, 2008.
  3. M. C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1974.
  4. E. Amiel, R. Ofir, N. Dudai, E. Soloway, T. Rabinsky and S. Rachmilevitch, “β-Caryophyllene, a Compound Isolated from the Biblical Balm of Gilead (Commiphora gileadensis), Is a Selective Apoptosis Inducer for Tumor Cell Lines,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, 2012.
  5. G. W. Van Beek, “Frankincense and Myrrh,” The Biblical Archaeologist, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 69-95, 1960.

Cracked Heel Cream

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My cracked heel cream uses a beeswax base mixed with coconut oil and olive oil. This cream is not only for heels and can be used on any cracked skin. It promotes healing of the wounded skin below the cracks and softens the dead dry skin that is cracking. This prevents the skin from tearing any further and damaging the living tissue underneath. Pain and inflammation caused by the cracked heels is also eased with the blend of essential oils. The essential oils that make this cream so amazing are German Chamomile, Geranium, Myrrh, Lavender, Lemon.

Caution: Do not expose the skin to direct sunlight after application as the lemon is photosensitising.

Some essential oils can cause sensitivity and if sensitivity does occur, discontinue use.

This cream should not be used regularly by pregnant women

While the essential oils do provide a degree of preservation to the cream, it is advisable to use the cream within 3 months. My products are made to order to extend the shelf life for as long as possible.

Quantity: 50ml

Price: R86 (excluding shipping –contact me for delivery options)

Please place your orders through the Contact page

Moisturiser for Dry Skin

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The base of the moisturiser for dry and mature skin contains coconut oil, avocado oil, and honey. The avocado oil is nourishing for dry and mature skin types. The essential oils used are Rose, Lavender, Neroli, and Sandalwood. The blend can be adjusted for men who prefer a less floral and more subtle smell (Sandalwood and Neroli) or for women who are pregnant (Sandalwood, Neroli and Lavender). Sandalwood helps to rehydrate dry skin while Neroli promotes the regeneration of cells. Lavender has a toning effect on the skin. Rose is used for hydrating dry skin and can help to repair broken capillaries.

Caution: It is not advisable to use this cream during pregnancy.

Some essential oils can cause sensitivity and if sensitivity does occur, discontinue use.

While the essential oils do provide a degree of preservation to the cream, it is advisable to use the cream within 3 months. My products are made to order to extend the shelf life for as long as possible.

Quantity: 50 ml

Price: R95 (excluding shipping –contact me for delivery options)

Please place your orders through the Contact page and specify if this is for a man or a mum-to-be.

Lip Balm

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The base is made from beeswax, cocoa butter and olive oil, which provides moisture and healing to dry cracked skin. Lavender, Geranium and Tea Tree essential oils are used in this lip balm. This not only makes the lip balm smell lovely, but it also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties that will heal cracked and sore lips. Tea Tree is often used to treat cold sores.

Directions for use: Apply to the lips and any dry skin around the mouth.

Caution: While the amount of essential oils contained in the lip balm is very low, this should not be used excessively by women who are pregnant

Price: R13 (excluding shipping – contact me for delivery options)

Please place your orders through the Contact page

Hand Cream

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The base of the hand cream contains coconut oil and grapeseed oil as well as honey. To this base I added Sandalwood, Cypress and Lavender essential oils, giving the cream a slightly woody scent. This blend also moisturises dehydrated skin and relieves itching and inflammation associated with dry eczema, psoriasis, sunburn and insect bites.

Caution: Some essential oils can cause sensitivity and if sensitivity does occur, discontinue use.

The hand cream should not be used regularly by pregnant women

While the essential oils do provide a degree of preservation to the cream, it is advisable to use the cream within 3 months. My products are made to order to extend the shelf life for as long as possible.

Quantity: 50ml

Price: R53 (excluding shipping – contact me for delivery options)

Please place your orders through the Contact page

Hay fever Balm

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Made from beeswax, cocoa butter and olive oil, the balm provides moisture and healing to dry cracked skin. The essential oils used are Melissa, Roman Chamomile and Eucalyptus, which were chosen to provide an antihistamine effect, reducing the effects of allergens that cause hay fever. The essential oils also sooth skin that has become inflamed and sensitive due to constantly blowing your nose. Finally, the essential oils work towards clearing blocked sinuses.

Directions for use: apply to the nose and lips as necessary.

Caution: While the amount of essential oils contained in the hay fever balm is very low, this should not be used excessively by women who are pregnant as well as people suffering from high blood pressure or epilepsy

Price: R14

Please place your orders through the Contact Me page

Eczema Cream

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My eczema cream is made from a base of shea butter, rosehip seed oil and hemp seed oil. These are all particularly effective in the treatment of sensitive skin conditions such as eczema. Added to this is a blend of essential oils that have a soothing and healing effect on eczema. These include lavender, tea tree, myrrh, geranium, sandalwood and rose.

Certain essential oils contained in this have been known to cause uterine contractions and so use during pregnancy is not advisable.

 

Quantity: 50ml

Price: R111 (excluding shipping – please contact me for delivery options)

Biblical Aromatherapy: Beauty Treatments and Perfumes

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Plants were used extensively in the bible for beauty treatments and perfumes. In the period during which the bible was written, perfumes were almost always made out of plant oils that were extracted through distillation or pressing [1]. The plants mentioned for use in perfumes and cosmetic lotions included aloe, nard, saffron, calamus, cinnamon, myrrh and frankincense. Since many of these plants were not indigenous to the Holy Land, they had to be imported, making the perfumes all the more expensive.

 

The gospels all include a particular instance when Jesus is anointed with a costly perfume. However, the details differ in each gospel; such as the time at which the anointing took place, the house Jesus was visiting, the woman who anointed him, and whether it was the head or the feet. This is possibly because different events were included in each gospel, depending on the focus of the author at the time of writing.

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Mark 14:3 (NIV)

The same event is recounted in Matthew 26:7 with no details changed. However, Luke 7:37 tells of a similar occurrence within the house of Simon the Pharisee (not a leper). The woman who did the anointing was a sinner and she poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet. In John 12:3 Jesus was visiting Lazarus after he had raised him from the dead. It was Mary, Lazarus’ sister, who poured a pint of pure nard onto Jesus’s feet while he was attending the dinner in his honour. An alabaster jar was an expensive marble flask with a long neck that contained enough perfume for a single application. When it was broken, the contents were used completely. This particular jar contained the exceptionally expensive nard, or spikenard.

 

There are many mentions of perfumes throughout the bible, emphasizing their importance.

While the king was at his table,

My perfume spread its fragrance.

My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh

Resting between my breasts

Song of Songs 1:12-13 (NIV)

Myrrh was a common perfume used for women and for scenting royal nuptial robes as can be seen in Psalm 45:8 (NIV):

All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia…

The use of perfumes and cosmetic lotions in daily life was so widespread that not using them signalled a period of mourning as is seen in Daniel 10:6 (NIV):

I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over

2 Samuel 14:2 and Amos 6:6 also mention the cessation of lotions and perfumes in times of mourning. Ruth 3:3 (NIV) hints at the same practices when the time for her to mourn was passed and Naomi tells her:

Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes…

A less savoury use of perfumes is found in Proverbs 7:17 when the adulterous woman leads men astray towards her bed perfumed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.

 

Perfumes and aromatic oils were used in beauty treatments, as we read in the book of Ester when she was subjected to an intensive beauty regime before being allowed to enter the presence of the king (Ester 2:12 NIV):

Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.

A common cosmetic was painting of the eyelids. In Ezekiel 23:40 the author speaks of a woman painting her eyes, which was done using the black soot resulting from burning frankincense.

 

I previously discussed cinnamon, calamus and myrrh in the discussion on the Anointing Oil. To recap: the cinnamon used in the biblical period could have been from either the Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum plant [2]. The tendency is to favour Cinnamomum zeylanicum as the species intended in biblical contexts [3]. Sweet calamus is probably referring to the species Acorus calamus, however there is not as much consensus on this specific identification. Myrrh in the time of Moses was possibly obtained from tapping the resin of Balsamodendron myrrh. However, Commiphora gileadensis is more widely accepted as the myrrh used in perfumes.

Frankincense was discussed in Holy Incense and is probably referring to Boswellia carterii, also known as B. sacra [3].The resin is tapped from the tree and dries on contact with air to form beads. The essential oil is very sweet smelling and an ideal ingredient in a perfume.

The aloe we use today is Aloe vera; however this is not a fragrant extract and would not be used as a perfume. It is believed that the aloe mentioned in the bible, particularly the Old Testament, is the species of Aquilaria agallocha [4], commonly known as Aloewood or Eaglewood. This woody tree has an aromatic resin that is used as a perfume.

Nard, also known as spikenard, is commonly believed to be an aromatic oil obtained from the rhizomes of Nardostachys jatamansi. This perennial herb grows at high elevations in the Himalaya mountains in India, making it difficult to source in great quantities and more expensive to obtain [5]. The quantity of nard used in the gospels for anointing Jesus was valued at approximately a year’s worth of wages.

Saffron means “yellow” and the yellow stigmata of the flower of Crocus sativus is used, not only as a perfume, but also as a yellow dye. One gram of saffron spice (the dried stamens) requires about a kilogram of flowers [6].This volume of flowers needed for a relatively small amount of spice contributes to its cost and it is currently the most expensive spice.

 

References:

[1] Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, “Cultural and Historical: Perfumes and Anointing Oils,” in Archaeological Study Bible, Michigan, Zondervan, 2005, p. 1746.

[2] P. Mihindukulasuriya, “The Fragrance of Life: Cinnamon in the Bible,” Journal of the Colombo Theological Seminary, vol. 8, pp. 171-181, 2009.

[3] Z. Wlodarczyk, “Review of Plant Species Cited in the Bible,” Folia Horticulturae, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 67-85, 2007.

[4] M. Boi, ““The Ethnocultural significance for the use of plants in Ancient Funerary Rituals and its possible implications with pollens found on the Shroud of Turin”.,” Universidad de las Islas Baleares, 2012. [Online]. Available: http://shroud.com/pdfs/boiveng.pdf. [Accessed 10 May 2017].

[5] H. Rahman, H. A. Shaik, . P. Madhavi and . M. C. Eswaraiah, “A review: pharmacognostics and pharmacological profiles of nardastachys jatamansi dc,” Elixir Pharmacy, vol. 39, pp. 5017-5020, 2011.

[6] L. J. Musselman, “Solomon’s Plant Life: Plant Lore and Image in the Solomonic Writings,” The American Scientific Affliliation, 1999. [Online]. Available: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1999/PSCF3-99Musselman.html.ori. [Accessed 10 May 2017].