Botanical families

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It occurred to me that I have tried to include the botanical family connections in my EO posts but I don’t think I have ever discussed what botanical families are in general.

All plants are divided up into classes, then orders, then families. Most of the plants that we are dealing with as EOs are part of the class called Angiosperms. This means they produce seeds within an enclosure. They are often called flowering plants and include fruit producing plants.

Next plants are divided into orders. There are several orders under the Angiosperms class that we see on a regular basis. They include:
Magnoliales – woody plants that flower
Geranioles – mostly herbaceous or shrubby plants that have 5-parted regular flowers
Tubiflorae – plants with tubular flowers
and several others!

Family is the next division. One order can have multiple families. And a family can have several different plants in it. In general these plants have some similar qualities when it comes to looking at what their EOs do. I’ll take a look at the various families and their properties over the next few weeks here on the blog!

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Tea Tree

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Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a very beneficial EO that I seem to have gotten away from using! Long before I started actively studying essential oils, tea tree EO was my go to oil as it seems to fix just about everything. Tea tree belong to the botanical family Myrtaceae, the same family as Eucalyptus. The EO is distilled from the leaves of the plant, native to Australia and New Zealand.

Tea tree EO is not something I use in facial skin care, though success has be reported with using it to treat acne. A very antiseptic EO, it does have a strong smell. And there are lots of other EOs that will help the skin with a more pleasant scent! It is good for helping to treat nail fungus and athletes foot.

For me this was something I used often when taking care of small cuts (like paper cuts when I was doing corporate admin work) or to help ward off colds in the winter. Tea tree is antibacterial and antiviral so works well at keeping germs at bay. Just a whiff of it can help open up congested air passages and, in the winter, I often put a drop on my coat collar as I walk out the door to walk through the cold and then get on a crowded, germ-filled subway. I am looking at some inhalers for the fall/winter season and will most likely be incorporating a bit of tea tree into at least one recipe.

Tea tree EO should never be taken internally and should be kept out of reach from children (as should all undiluted EOs).

Lemon Essential Oil

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Lemon (Citrus lemon) EO is an oil I should use more often. Not sure why I don’t as I love the fresh crisp scent that it has. The EO comes from the peel of the fruit and is obtained by the expression method. (https://lazycatoils.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/how-is-an-essential-oil-made/) It belongs to the Rutaceae botanical family along with all of the other familiar citrus fruits like oranges and limes.

Among its many benefits, lemon has antibacterial, antiviral, and astringent properties. It has a very uplifting scent and it always makes me smile when I smell it.

For the skin and hair, it can be helpful in reducing excess oil. It can also help restore dull looking skin to a more vibrant look by helping increase blood circulation. It is used to treat acne and oily skin. Many of the citrus oils are also photosensitive. Damage to the skin can be caused if the skin is exposed to sunlight after using oils like lemon. It is recommended to avoid sunlight for up to 24 hours after using some of the citrus EO. And of course, using any EO in a diluted form is always recommended.

A look back at the past year

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A year ago I was getting ready for my first outdoor street festival! It was a great success and a turning point for me – a chance to step things up with my own business, knowing that I was about to leave my full time job and start a new path with another job but only part time. I’m getting ready to take part in Big On Bloor (http://bigonbloorfestival.com) once again and thought this was a good to look back at what has happened over the past year and what lies ahead!

At the end of last August, we went on a lovely vacation to California. Saw lots of places and would love to go back in the future and see some more! Returning from vacation saw me being back to self employed and very part time employed in a new job. My new job is with Music Toronto, a chamber music presenting company (www.music-toronto.com). Initially the plan was to only be working for them one day a week to start and to increase my time and my role over the next several years. Well that timetable has moved up considerably and as of this month I’m now working for them 4 days a week! It has been a great experience and I’m loving the work I’m doing with them.

I’ve been doing lots of reading and studying and moving more towards the treatment side with essential oils. I’ve been working away at my thesis and hope to finish off all of those related courses by the end of the summer. I took some more classes with my teacher, Jan Benham (www.makeyourowncosmetics.org), last October. I spent 5 days learning how to do facials and haven’t looked back! In November, I started booking some room time at a clinic near me and I’m giving facials on a regular basis now. I’m building my clientele slowly as I don’t have that many hours in a day. I’m loving it and the response has been great! Jan will be back again this October and I’m signed up for a chair massage class and a week long course in reflexology. So looking forward to both of those!

I have continued to launch a few more products this past year, adding in some more makeup items in the past few months. Next weekend I’ll be back at Big On Bloor and I’ll have my usual favourites and some of my new items available for purchase. The festival takes place over 2 days – Saturday and Sunday – so come on by and say hi if you are in Toronto! I’m hoping to be close to the Lansdowne end of the festival. Watch my LCO Facebook feed (https://www.facebook.com/LazyCatOils) for updates as we get closer to the end of the week.

BIG On Bloor Festival – July 19, 2014 – noon to 9pm; July 20, 2014 – noon to 6pm. http://bigonbloorfestival.com

Hyaluronic Acid

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Hyaluronic acid (HA) is one of those things that make me go “hmmm?”. Just saying it sounds like I’m saying something that is harsh and bad for you, though it is quite the opposite. It is not something I had ever heard of until I started taking my courses and it is something I am only just getting into using.

So what is it? Hyaluronic acid is a water holding molecule that occurs naturally in mammals. This molecule can bind up to 1000 times it weight in water in a cell. There is approximately 15 grams of it occurring naturally in our bodies and about 5 grams of that is used up and reproduced each day. While HA is found throughout our entire body, about half of our HA is found in the collagen in the skin.

And what does it do? Depending on the area where you difind it, the function seems to differ. For the skin it helps with the production of collagen and can help hydrate. It acts as a cushioning agent and lubricant for joint and nerve tissue. And it helps maintain the liquid in our eyes.

Like many functions in the body, as we age it becomes harder for the body to produce HA. However, the body continues to use up HA on a daily basis. There are several studies out there that document great success in using HA both as injections (for joints) or topically (for skin). I’m looking forward to trying it out in a few more products!

Castile Soap

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This morning I cut up the second batch of Castile soap that I made this week. I do enjoy making Castile soap. It is simple and straightforward and relatively easy to make. The only ingredients are water, lye, and olive oil. Mixed in the right proportions, this combination of ingredients gives you a lovely soap that is hard to the touch but not harsh on the body.

I do sell Castile soap on its own and in a liquid form but mainly I make it, grate it, and use it to make new soap combinations, like my Chocolate Spice Soap. I have a couple of new combinations that I want to try out over the summer and have ready for this fall. While the mixing process is fairly straightforward, it takes a while for soap to dry and harden. Hence the reason for making soap this week! This way it will be ready for me to play with in August when my schedule is a little freer.

Lots on the plate!

The past couple of weeks have been busy! There never do seem to be enough hours to get everything done that I’d like to do but I’m slowly checking things off my list. Here’s a sample of what’s happening!

Summer festivals are looming in the not too distant future and I’m starting to get ready for those – mixing, bottling, and labelling coming up! I do have one coming up in July (the Big On Bloor festival) but most of my outdoor things will be happening in August and September. The Goderich Celtic festival is at the beginning of August and then I’m helping out Shannah Rose for a couple of dates in the Orangeville Farmers Market!

I’m working on a couple of new lipstick colours and hope to have those ready soon. It is always fun to experiment with the various micas out there and see what colours you can make!

John did a few photo shoots for me for my make up and face care products. As always they look great! And now I need to put everything together so I can add new pages to the website. Here’s a sample of one of the shots!

eye liners and mascara now available

eye liners and mascara now available

I’m also working on another facial/relaxation treatment based on the class I recently finished. Hoping to add that into my services list in July.

And then there are more classes in October! Looks like it is going to be a busy summer and fall!

Pearl Powder

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This past week I was able to get together with my friends and fellow students and do some treatment swaps. We have added another person to our group – an traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturist who we met in the facial class a couple of weeks ago. Treatment swap days are always great! We all get a chance to give and receive treatments, generally facials but depending on who wants what, we do Qi drop, reflexology and reiki as well. This time we has a bit of acupuncture happening too!

Along with swapping treatments, there is a great deal of chatting that happens. While we do keep in touch via regular emails, we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like in person so there is always lots to catch up on. And there is lots of shop talk! Everyone is learning different things and finding different resources so there is lots to share and lots of questions to ask. One thing that came up this time was pearl powder – something the newest addition to our group mentioned. It sounded intriguing so I had to do some more research on it and find out more about it.

As the name suggests, it is made from pearls. The pearls are ground to a fine powder. Pearl powder has been used for centuries in Asia both for beauty and health. For skin care, it is reported to help with relieving redness with conditions like rosacea and to help with slowing the aging process of the skin. It can be mixed in creams, used as a mask, or used in the powder form with your makeup. Very versatile! When taken internally, it is said to help with stomach and digestive issues. Pearl powder is full of minerals and amino acids. It is also high in calcium.

I’m looking forward to trying this out and seeing what the results are!

Benzoin Essential Oil

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I have been doing some bulk ordering this week. There are several of us working at various stages of aromatherapy who have met through classes over the past couple of years. We have become a great support network for each other and a great source of resources as we each bring our own different expertise to the group. While gathering info for what everyone needed for this order, I was reminded of another EO that I don’t personally use much but which has intrigued me in the past. So Benzoin has become my topic for this week!

Benzoin (Stryrax benzoin) is a tree native to Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Styraceae botanical family. The EO is a resin that comes from tapping the bark. It is a thick, dark (brownish-red) liquid that has a vanilla-like smell.

Commonly used as a fixative in perfumes and as incense, benzoin EO has many other great uses. It is often used to help relieve coughs and cold, having antibacterial and expectorant properties. I look forward to exploring that more next fall! It is also said to be helpful in treating arthritis so I need to do some further investigation into that over the coming months and see what I discover.

For skin care, it is used sparingly and is not something I use in my facials. It can help with chapped, irritate, red skin. But it should be used in small quantities. It can be useful in treating more wound-type skin conditions like psoriasis. Not something to keep in the cupboard to use everyday but useful when treating something more severe on a short term basis.

Evening Primrose Oil

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Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) Oil is a wonderful oil that kind of fell off my radar in the past few months! I had started to use it a bit last fall but some how got away from it. I was reminded of it in the past few weeks with the class that I took.

There are lots of studies happening with evening primrose at present and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the long term study results. Many consider it a great plant with many preventative disease possibilities!

From a food point of view, evening primrose oil is considered a good source of essential fatty acids. Evening primrose contains the essential fatty acid called linoleic acid. The body uses this to produce prostaglandins, which in turn are involved in helping many different types of body tissue to remain healthy. There have been some studies that suggest essential fatty acids help reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and joint pain.

For skin care, helping both to calm the inflammation and to dilute the excess sebum, which can clog pores and cause a break out, it is often used for treating acne and rosacea. Evening primrose oil is nourishing for your nails helping to prevent them from cracking – a bonus for me if I’m using it to treat someone else!

Looking forward to adding this oil back into my life!