Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) extract is something I use regularly.  Horsetail is a plant with a hollow stem and feathery branches, and can resemble a horse’s tail.

In the past, horsetail has also been used to polish pewter and lightly sand wood.  The reason for this is that silica crystals form on the stem and feathery branches of the plant as it dries.  This gives the plant and light abrasive feel.

It is this same silica that makes horsetail such a valuable herb for medicinal and cosmetic purposes.

Studies are ongoing about all of the various benefits of silica.  Silica helps with the formation of bone and collagen.  It helps strengthen hair and provides volume.  I add it to my clay mix that I use daily to clean my hair.  I have the added benefit of having a friend north of the city who has lots of horsetail growing on her property.  She always has some to spare so I get to make my own extract!


Rhassoul clay


I use a few different clays but my most favourite is rhassoul clay.  It comes from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and is formed through geothermal changes and volcanic activity.

Rhassoul clay is highly absorbent and is widely used in beauty care products.  When mixed with water it swells in size.  It has high levels of silica and magnesium and helps cleanse the skin without stripping it of its natural oils.  It is often used with oily or blemished skin as it helps draw out impurities like blackheads without damaging the skin.

Rhassoul is also beneficial for your hair.  This is how I use it most often!  I use a mix of rhassoul, rose water, regular water, horsetail extract, and rosemary essential oil.  I make a paste that I massage into my scalp and hair each morning in the shower.  I let it sit for a few moments and then rinse it off.  It is important not to let it dry on your hair as that can damage the hair.  But used wet it does a great job of cleaning my hair and scalp and leaves my hair soft and easy to manage.  I also find that I get less static fly away hair in the winter now.

It is not a clay to be taken internally as it has a very high mineral content.  If you are considering taking it internally, you should check with a doctor.

My thesis – Keratosis, part 3


As I mentioned in my last post, after a couple of weeks of using the oil mix, we both noticed that the skin patches were softer.

At this point, I added a sugar scrub to the treatment plan. In addition to sugar, it contains apricot kernel oil, argan oil, and orange essential oil. It helps exfoliate the skin in general and specifically helps with the keratosis patches.

About 4 months after we started the entire process, I added in a clay mask for her back and the back of her legs. Keep in mind that the client was continuing to use the oil mix and the sugar scrub at home on a daily or weekly basis. In general patches were continuing to soften and come off. However, there are areas that are hard for someone to reach – like your back. We were doing a treatment once a week on her back but that was all. So to help soften and heal the patches on her back a little more intensely, we added in the weekly clay treatment after the sugar scrub and before applying the oil. I use a mix of glacial clay, kaolin clay, and rhassoul clay. This was mixed with a rose water toner (rose water and witch hazel) and frankincense essential oil. Frankincense was chosen for its wound healing and cell regenerative properties. After a few weeks, honey is added to the clay mix.

The overall results have been wonderful to see! Fewer patches, overall they are softer, and they continue to come off. It is not a speedy process but a much less harsh process especially for someone with a severe case of keratosis. Any of the traditional treatments would have had to be done over several sessions for a severe case of keratosis as you couldn’t do too many at one time.

There is no guarantee that new patches won’t form. That is the same if they are removed with traditional methods as well. It is the nature of keratosis – new patches continue to form. With an aromatherapy approach, we developed a maintenance program that helps eliminate patches and helps maintain softer and healthier skin.

My thesis – Keratosis, part 2


Continuing on with my thesis, today I’m looking at some of the treatment I used.

My basic premise for my thesis was to soften and eliminate existing seborrheic keratosis patches.

From my thesis:

The first step was to mix an oil blend to help moisturize the skin. The oil blend is as follows:

45 ml Sesamum indicum oil (Sesame) 45 ml Helianthus annuus oil (Sunflower) 10 ml Triticum vulgare oil (Wheatgerm)
10 drops Daucus carota oil (Carrot Root)
30 drops Achillea millefolium essential oil (Yarrow)
20 drops Anthemis nobilis essential oil (Roman Chamomile)
10 drops Helichrysm italicum essential oil in a 10% dilution with Jojoba Oil (Helichrysm)

Sesame oil was chosen as it is good for inflammed skin conditions and with the light sunscreen factor it helps protect the skin at least a little bit from exposure to the sun.

Sunflower oil is also good for dry and mature skin. Rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, this makes it useful for skin conditions and moisturizing.

Wheatgerm is another oil that is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, useful for dry skin, and helpful in repairing skin damage from sun exposure.

Carrot Root Oil helps the skin with the rejuvenation process as some of the seborrheic keratosis patches come off.

Yarrow was chosen as it is good for inflamed skin conditions, helps tone the skin, and helpful in healing wounds.

Roman Chamomile is good for treating skin conditions, has cell regenerative properties and is good for sensitive skin.

Helichrysm is great for skin conditions, helping with cellular regeneration and wound healing.


My client was to use the mix twice daily on her skin. Within about 2 weeks, there was a noticeable softening of the patches and some smaller patches were starting to come off.

This was definitely an encouraging sign! More to come next week!

My thesis – Keratosis, part 1


Part of my aromatherapy training involved doing a thesis. I chose to work on keratosis.

Keratosis is a skin condition that often develops in females (though not limited to females) as we age. While I have started to develop a few patches and I have a few friends who have as well, I do have one friend who has quite an extreme case of keratosis and she agreed to be my case study! What follows is an except from my thesis about what seborrheic keratosis is and how it is traditionally treated.

The Condition

Seborrheic keratosis is a skin growth. While it can often be confused with skin cancer by looking at it, it is a benign growth. The growths are generally round or oval and are slightly elevated on the skin. They can sometimes appear as if they have been stuck on top of the skin. This is partly because only the top layers of the epidermis are connected to this condition as the growth starts in the keratinocyte cells.

It generally appears in older people, sometimes starting in middle age. While it does effect both genders, it is more prevalent in female. Young people can be effected but it is much less common. Often they are found near areas that sweat – behind the knees for example.

There are several theories as to what causes seborrheic keratosis. It does seem to have a genetic component as it will often occur in family members. Exposure to the sun also seems to be a potential factor that increases your risk of developing seborrheic keratosis. Though it can appear to be a wart, it is not and it is not contagious. When a growth is removed, often it does not return. However new growths can still form on another place on your body.

Traditional treatments

Once a doctor has determined that it is seborrheic keratosis and not skin cancer, generally no further treatment is required. If desired for cosmetic reasons or because the growth is irritated by clothing, they can be removed by several methods:

– electrocautery – burning the growth with an electrical current
– cryotherapy – freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen and then removing it
– curettage – scraping away most of the growth. It is sometimes also followed by electrocautery to remove the final bit of the growth.
– ablation – using lasers to remove the growth

All of the above treatment options will remove the keratosis growth and generally they do not return in the same place. It does not mean that another one won’t appear else where requiring another round of treatment.

Next week I’ll go into more details on how we chose to treat keratosis for my thesis!

Reflexology, part one


Reflexology has been around for many, many years. Its origins can be traced back to China around 2300 BC. Over the years it was shared across cultures and eventually made its way to Europe and North America.

Reflexology is a healing modality that deals with, in the simplest of terms, applying pressure to areas of your feet, hands, and ears. These reflex areas relate to other areas of the body. By applying pressure to an area on your foot you can stimulate a corresponding area in the body and help the body provide relief from pain or discomfort.

Reflexology can help stimulate your circulatory system. All of our cells require oxygen and nutrients to function properly. They receive both of those from our blood as it is circulated through out our body. Without good circulation and an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients, cells die or become damaged.

More to come on reflexology in the coming weeks!

Aromatherapy, part two



With aromatherapy one of the first uses that often comes to mind for me is skin care. Probably because that is one of the first ways I used essential oils. And who doesn’t love a great feeling and smelling body lotion or a relaxing aromatherapy facial!

Yet there are many other uses for aromatherapy and essential oils.

Aromatherapy can help stimulate your circulation and the healing process for various areas of your body. Helping to release tension and aid with relaxation is a great way to use essential oils.

There are several ways that essential oils can be used so that they enter your body to help the healing process. Inhalation is a very easy way to work with essential oils. You can smell them straight from the bottle, make up a small inhaler to carry with you, or use a diffuser in your home or car. Another way to get essentials oils into your body is through your skin. Massaging in oils or lotions that have EOs added to them is not only an effective delivery system, it also feels good!

Remember to always consult a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oil. They are powerful substances and should be treated as such. Keep them away from children and pets.

Aromatherapy, part one



There are so many uses for aromatherapy and so many ways to use essential oils! Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk about some of my experiences with essential oils.

Aromatherapy is often referred to as an art and a science. It takes the essence of a plant and uses it to promote healing in the body, mind, and spirit of a being. It can be used for preventative measures or for active treatment.

Herbal remedies in many forms have been around for a very long time. Both Egypt and China have written documentation in the use of herbs from the time written documents started to be made. Herbs and oils have been used for perfumes, in religious ceremonies, and for healing in many cultures over many millennium. As with many things, it has drifted in and out of popularity. And not everything has worked.

There are, however, many documented things that have worked. French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse is the person who started the term aromatherapy. He investigated the antiseptic properties of essential oils and, because of his work, a lot of interest in and study of essential oils started in France in the 1920s.

Dr. Jean Valnet is another person who helped validate the field of aromatherapy. He used essential oils on the battle field during WWII and documented many of his results. I highly recommend his book, The Practice of Aromatherapy, if you are interested in learning more about essential oils and aromatherapy in general.

One of my first experiences with essential oils was in the cosmetic classes I took a few years ago. I had heard of them but hadn’t used them much. Getting into the cosmetic making classes opened up a whole new world for me! The cosmetic uses for essential oils are many. They offer great benefits for your skin. You can find many posts from me on skin care here Or ask me a question directly if you are curious about something specific!



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Tubiflorae is the order for today! It signifies plants with numerous tubular flowers. I use plants from the Labiatae family of this order. Here the tubular flowers look a bit like lips. This family is very large and includes many aromatic herbs and shrubs like mint, thyme, sage, and rosemary.

In general, members of the Labiatae family are warming, good for helping with the respiratory system and with common muscle aches and pains. I use peppermint EO frequently at home in the winter to help get rid of my chest congestion. Oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, and rosemary herbs go into many of my sauces when I’m cooking in the fall and I use the EOs in various treatments. This is a very versatile and useful family of plants and I use something from this family everyday either as an EO or in the form of the physical plant itself.




Let’s take a look at the botanical order of Rutales. There are two families connected to this order that I deal with a lot.

The first is the Rutaceae family. This is where all of the citrus plants belong! In general, plants of the Rutaceae family are detoxifying. They aid digestion by stimulating the flow of gastric juices. They also tend to be uplifting and calming in nature. With skin care, I use orange EO with my sugar scrub. Lemon EO is incorporated occasionally into my treatments at the clinic. And Bergamot EO is one of the ingredients of my facial compress oil. I also use citrus EOs frequently in my cleaning products around the house.

The second family under the Rutales order is the Burseraceae family. This includes frankincense and myrrh. I use these two EOs very often, both personally and in my treatments for others. General properties include helping soothe dry respiratory issues, wound healing, and again a calming nature. I often use frankincense in my facial treatments. Myrrh I use at home to help heal small cuts and as one ingredient in my mouthwash (a mix of water, baking soda, peppermint EO, and myrrh EO).