Monday, 26 July 2010

Aromatours - On the lavender road - alpes haute provence to Mount Ventoux

Today I am 'en famille'. The sun is out. we have cycled the Gorges du Vederon (europes answer to the grand canyon) after camping at Riez. Riez lies on the great plain around Valensole on which aromatic plants are grown for the perfume trade in Grasse and the beauty trade in Manosque, the home of L'Occitaine. Everywhere farmers are no longer watching the crops grow and harvest is in full swing.

Pictured are fields near Mount Ventoux and Montbrun les Bains.  Vast fields of purple lavandin are being harvested. Everywhere there is the hum of the honeybees kept by apicurists near the lavender and flocks of butterflies near water. Some of the most stiking images are of the smaller fields of lavender and sunflowers found unexpectedly around a corner and I have taken a few photos to share.

We are also visiting our small family distillers as well as the great names who deal in thousands of tonnes of lavendin but supply also oils suitable for aromatherapy though it cannot be economic for them. Some of those smaller family distillers are in the area around Mount Ventoux which is the most charming area. Mountains and a patchwork quilt of blue lavender and green harvested fields. And so it is 'bon courage' and up Mount Ventoux.

Pictured are Mme Magnans famous honey shop in Valensole, a typical provencal market stall with aroma ingredients, the view from the promenade at Sault towards Mt Ventoux to which neither camera nor artist can do justice, aroma crops being distilled,
Lavender facts.  French and Bulgarian lavender is the most popular..  Lavender grown and distilled at a higher altitude 600m to 1500m is reputed to be the finest.  France dominates lavender production with 100,000 tonnes per annum compared to the UK's 50 tonnes.  Three quarters of that produced is Lavendin which has a high yield and is easily harvested.  Then comes the Mailette clone which is commonly described as Lavender Fine, Lavender vera or angustifolia.  Both have a full floral fragrance while the angustifolia favoured by aromatherapists tends to have less aroma.  In practice farmers tend to propogate their angustifolia from the plants most resistent to disease, drought and flood so most true lavender production tends to be a mixture of angustifolias.
Lavender Vera harvesed at Banon.

Sadly adulteration of Lavender is a hazard. In order to comply with the standards of the fragrance trade synthetic linalool is added.  One complaint of the growers in upland areas is that the excellent lavender they produce which is high in esters do not comply with agricultural standards!  Lavendin is also added to Lavender fine and most Lavender Fine Angustifolia is from Lavender Mailette clone rather than P.Miller.  Always read the label and ask for certification.  If it is not forthcoming move on.  Ref Battaglia The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy p 217.

True Lavender and Lavendin

Notes: We travel in July to avoid the high season which is very busy in August
Reliable campsites can be found in the Mitchelin guide
Gites and Chambres d'hotel are available at reasonable cost
There is an excellent peage system of motorways on which you can travel at a mile a minute.
Lyons, Avignon airports.  The TGV.

For those with limited time here are some edited highlights of La Drome Aroma Tour this year. 

Ferry Portsmouth - Le Harve
Night 1, Haute Normandie Campsite La Foret, Norman dinner overlooking the Seine
Night 2  Beaune, Sauvigny Campsite, explore the Cote d'or

Night 3  Crest and mountain lavender distiller growers in la Drome
Night 4  Banon Epi Bleu campsite to explore Banon, Sault, MontBrun les Bains, Mt Ventoux
Night 5  Riez to explore the Valensole plateau in Provence

Monday, 12 July 2010

Gold of pleasure - Camelina sativa oil

An important skincare incredient for the future. Gold of Pleasure was cultivated extensively in the ancient world where olives could not grow. Today the crop is now being researched due to its exceptionally high levels (up to 45%) of omega-3 fatty acids, which is uncommon in vegetable sources.

Camelina is a flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae which includes mustard, cabbage, rapeseed, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts

Over 50% of the fatty acids in cold pressed Camelina oil are polyunsaturated. The major components are alpha-linolenic acid - C18:3 (omega-3-fatty acid, approx 35-45%) and linoleic acid - C18:2 (omega-6 fatty acid, approx 15-20%). The oil is also very rich in natural antioxidants, such as tocopherols, making this highly stable oil very resistant to oxidation and rancidity.

It has 1 - 3% erucic acid. The vitamin E content of camelina oil is approximately 110 mg/100g. It is well suited for use as a cooking oil. It has an almond-like flavor and aroma.


Friday, 9 July 2010

The science behind the virtues of Jasmine

Oils extracted from jasmine have long been used in aromatherapy. A new study has found that certain chemicals extracted from the plant can act as powerful sedatives with effects as strong as sleeping pills and barbiturates.

Sedatives, sleeping pills can also cause serious side effects such as depression, dizziness, hypotension, muscle weakness and impaired coordination.

So German scientists have been investigating the calming effects of various fragrancies that could be used in place of these drugs. They have now found that a chemical called Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and another variation of it derived from the jasmine plant act in the same way as these sedatives and that even just breathing in the scents can be enough to activate their effects.

How sedatives work
Sedatives such as valium act on particular sites in the brain, increasing the effects of the brain's own neurotransmitter called GABA. In fact the sedatives can even act in the same way as GABA in high enough doses. This GABA is an inhibitor - it serves to reduce brain function, thus leading to calmness, drowsiness and sleep.

Testing the fragrance
The jasmine extracts were administered to mice, both as injections and by inhalation. In both cases the mice responded by becoming calm, ceasing activity and sitting quietly in the corner. Mice that had been genetically modified such that their brain receptors no longer respond to sedatives were not affected by the chemicals, showing that the action of the jasmine extract is the same as other sedatives.

Commenting on the results, study leader Hanns Hatt said: "We have discovered a new class of GABA receptor modulator which can be administered through the air - applications in sedation, anxiety, excitement and aggression relieving treatment and sleep induction therapy are all imaginable."

The Journal of Biological Chemistry publishes papers based on original research that are judged to make a novel and important contribution to understanding the molecular and cellular basis of biological processes.

Find out more of the science behind aromatherapy

Tips for sleep besides aromatherapy

Bedrooms should be used only for sleeping and intimacy – not working,using a computor, eating, or watching television. Your brain needs to associate your bedroom with sleep.

You should aim to make your bedroom a dark, quiet and peaceful environment in which to rest after a hard day’s work. To do this:

Make sure you have a bed which is comfortable. Mattresses are supposed to be changed every 10 years. Fresh sheets and pillow cases may also help
If the morning sun is causing you problems, wear an eye mask
If your partner snores dont get mad, just buy some soft ear plugs


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Daily facial care - oral hygiene

Travelling in Asia and Africa I have always been struck by the flashing smiles and the contrast with western teeth. In Africa and Asia the antiseptic qualities of plants are used to create highly effective tooth brushes not only to remove the food on which bacteria feed but to inhibit the bacteria growing and infecting the gums.

Indian medicine (Ayurveda) has used the neem tree and its products to create teeth cleaning twigs and similar products for millennia. A person chews one end of the neem twig until it somewhat resembles the bristles of a toothbrush, and then uses it to brush the teeth. In the Muslim world, the miswak, or siwak, made from a twig or root with antiseptic properties has been widely used since the Islamic Golden Age

Find out more

The neglect of teeth in Western culture not only causes expensive trips to the dentist seriously neglected gums and tongues cause serious health problems.

What the study said

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Queens Speech

Queen Elizabeth II challenged the United Nations on Tuesday to spearhead the international response to global dangers and promote prosperity and dignity for all the world's inhabitants.

"In my lifetime, the United Nations has moved from being a high-minded aspiration to being a real force for common good," the 84-year-old British monarch told diplomats from the 192 U.N. member states."That of itself has been a signal achievement. But we are not here to reminisce. In tomorrow's world, we must all work together as hard as ever if we are truly to be United Nations."

Speaking as queen of 16 U.N. member states and head of the Commonwealth of 54 countries with a population of nearly 2 billion people, Elizabeth recalled the dramatic changes in the world since she last visited the United Nations in 1957, especially in science, technology and social attitudes.

But she also praised the U.N.'s aims and values which have endured _ promoting peace, security and justice, fighting hunger, poverty and disease and protecting the rights and liberties of every citizen.

"For over six decades the United Nations has helped to shape the international response to global dangers," the queen said."The challenge now is to continue to show this clear ... leadership while not losing sight of your ongoing work to secure the security, prosperity and dignity of our fellow human beings."

Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, flew to New York from Canada for a five-hour visit that will also include stops at the ground zero site where the twin World Trade Center towers were destroyed in terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. She will lay a wreath in tribute to the thousands who died, and then officially open the British Memorial Garden honoring the 67 Britons who lost their lives that day.

Dressed in a two-piece white, blue and beige print dress with a ruffled hem and a matching brimmed champagne-colored silk hat with flowers, the queen was greeted on her arrival by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Ali Abdessalam Treki and their wives.

After posing for photos in front of U.N. flags, she went to the memorial to UN peacekeepers and staff members killed in the line of duty and laid a wreath before the tattered UN flag that flew over U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Aug. 19, 2003 when the building was bombed, killing top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others.

The queen then walked slowly into the two-thirds full chamber, as past diplomats gave her a standing ovation. Before her speech she sat in a beige leather chair where she spent a half-minute fishing her reading glasses out of her black handbag, resealing the clasp and laying her speech out on her lap, tasks made harder because of her white gloves.

She looked up to occasionally peer out at the crowd, where the visitor and press upper galleries were full, scanning left and right and then looking intently straight forward. Her hands lay quietly on her speech.

Treki welcomed the queen, noting that when she last spoke to the United Nations"the world was rebuilding from a devastating world war, Cold War tensions and nuclear annihilation threatened the existence of all humanity ... and women were expected to stay at home."

While the queen had witnessed"the birth of a multitude of independent nation-states based on the principles of equal rights," he said, the world is still"blighted by extreme levels of inequality, with billions living in extreme poverty."

Treki praised the queen for lifting the spirits and comforting victims of terrorism and natural disasters.

The secretary-general called Elizabeth"a living symbol of grace, constancy, and dignity."

"In a changing and churning world, your are an anchor for our age," he said."Your reign spans the decades. From the challenges of the Cold War to the threat of global warming. From the Beatles to Beckham. From television to Twitter."

Ban recalled that 53 years ago the queen told the General Assembly that the future would be shaped"by the strength of our devotion" to the U.N. ideals of peace, justice and prosperity.

With Elizabeth at the helm, he said, Britain and the Commonwealth"have contributed immensely to the United Nations," noting that the four largest providers of U.N. peacekeeping troops are Commonwealth nations.

The queen recalled that when she came to the United Nations in 1957, there were just three U.N. operations oversease.

"Now, over 120,000 men and women are deployed in 26 missions across the world," she said."You have helped to reduce conflict, you have offered humanitarian assistance to millions of people affected by natural disasters and other emergencies, and you have been deeply committed to tackling the effects of poverty in many parts of the world."

At the end of the short speech, she was loudly applauded. She then met separately with Treki, Ban, Security Council ambassadors and Commonwealth ambassadors.

"Everyone was very impressed," Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Konstantin Dolgov told AP."She's a big part of the United Nations, very important."

Why am I seeing this on the Shirley Price blog?

Well I think this will need a separate blog.

Those who seek just to make a name for themselves by terror in all its forms should hang their heads in shame compared to those who have sought to create one world by peaceful means. Let them renounce violence now and embrace the arts of peace.




A blog to celebrate beginnings. Here is the oldest recorded ploughed field in the Indus.

Monday, 5 July 2010

English Rose oil

England is home to worlds most beautiful rose gardens (David Austen) but where is the english rose oil? Yes it exists. This is a good place to base yourself during an aroma tour of the UK.

Cawthorpe Hall.

Sp cannot buy this rose oil in sufficient volume to market internationally but I am personally very fond of this rose oil made from the stalks, leaves, buds and flowers rather than just the flowers. It meets my personal test for genuine rose oil by 'repeating'.

Let me explain what I mean by 'repeating'. I kept the Rose Oil cooled for 12 months and then smelt it. I inhaled it just once. I felt that I inhaled it again with the same aroma several times in the following hours.

The Shirley Price Rose Otto comes from Bulgaria from the excellent cooperative Biolandes. I would love to find a consistent Russian and Iranian Rose Otto but as yet cannot recommend a single consistent source to add our list. Keep sending the samples please!

Returning to gardens here is a wonderful display of David Austens 'Compassion, Snow Goose and Felicia' today at Fairview.


Gardening is good for your health - The biggest flower show of all

I have so many happy memories of visiting Hampton Court (dont ask my favourite its an English thing!). Internationally many people have heard of the Chelsea Flower show. This week it is the turn of Hampton Court Flower Show which is the scene of great rose displays.

Here is a garden that somehow brings it all together. I love the story of its design. It began as a committee effort but every committee needs a chairman to bring it all together and keep all the hard work on track! Of course I am biased living at the heart of Shakepeare's Warwickshire. The Garden is called Much ado about nothing

A ***** rating from us

good luck for the judging from all the team at Shirley Price

Shakespeare’s Comedies Gardens comprise an area 8m x 6m each.
The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is celebrating William Shakespeare’s plays and have selected six of his most popular comedies as a theme to represent through the design of the garden. The best designs for each of the plays from each of the following plays will be seen at the show: As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew. The gardens are grouped together in the showground.

Find out more


Staying a healthy weight - Appetite supression

A naturally-occurring appetite suppressant has been discovered by UK scientists, who say it could pave the way for a diet drug without side effects.

It may also have the potential to treat aspects of alcohol and drug abuse.

Hemopressin is a small bit of protein which works by affecting the reward centres of the brain associated with pleasurable experiences such as eating, sex and drug highs.

“It has long been known that the rewarding aspects of feeding behaviour influence our appetite, so that sometimes we eat for pleasure rather than hunger.

"By reducing hedonistic feeding, it is possible to help people lose weight by quenching the desire to eat,” said study co-author Dr Garron Dodd, from the Faculty of Life Science at the University of Manchester.

The scientists gave hemopressin to mice and monitored their feeding and other behaviours. They found that while the amount they ate decreased, their behaviour patterns remained the same.

Weight loss - the 5 most filling foods

We can use aromatherapy to curb the appetite but we still have to eat. Which foods are more filling?

At its simplest, the satiety index, is a measure of how long a particular food will stop you from feeling hungry. It was first developed by Dr Susanne Holt back in 1995. Holt and her colleagues fed volunteers 240 calorie portions of a wide variety of different foods in an attempt to discover which would be the most filling. The top 5 are:
1. Potatoes

2. Fish

3. Porridge/Oats/Oatmeal

4. Apples and Oranges

5. Wholewheat Pasta

Fibre. Unlike protein, fibre promotes satiety by slowing the rate at which the food is actually digested. It also triggers stretch receptors in the stomach which automatically sends a signal to the brain to stop eating.

Bulk. At 9 Kcal per gram fat is the most energy dense nutrient we can eat. Just one tablespoon of clotted cream has almost four times more calories than a whole cup of popcorn and yet it takes up far less space in the stomach making it incredibly easy to over consume. Fat greatly enhances the taste of a food too, another reason why we find it so easy to over consume.

Chewing. Chewing promotes satiety, partly because it slows down eating but also because it encourages the release of enzymes that register fullness in the brain.


Revision - beauty treatment for differant skin types


Essentia skin care combines the essential beauty and power of plants and flowers into a range of specific,
effective products. Essentia products do not contain synthetic perfumes, animal products or lanolin and are not
tested on animals.

The Essentia classic range offers a solution to all skin care requirements with the added value of aromatherapy oils to enhance and refresh the skin.
The properties of essential oils can be used to create natural cosmetics for different skin types.

Dry Skin - Essentia Cleansing Cream, Rose Hydrolat,Honey Mask, Essentia Moisture Cream , hydrating Pretty Serum
Normal - Essentia Cleansing Milk, Lavender Hydrolat, Revitalizing Minute gel Mask, Essentia Moisture Cream, Hydrating Pretty Serum
Oily - Cleansing Milk,Witch Hazel hydrolat, Cypress Exfoliating Cream, Essentia Lotion
Mature Skin - Essentia Cleansing Cream, Neroli Hydrolat, Honey Mask, Essentia Moisture Cream, Rejuvenating Night Cream
Sensitive skin, Essentia Cleansing Milk, Chamomile Hydrolat, Special E Cream
Combination and teen skin - the following can be used for a teenage skin
Cleansing Milk, Witch hazel Hydrolat, Essentia Mosture Lotion.
Mens - Essentia cleansing milk and moisture lotion.

Lets first look at the different skin types – Acne, Baby, Combination, Dry, Eczema, Mature, Normal, Oily and Scarred skin.

Acne Skin. There are four main causes of acne, hormonal imbalance, auto intoxication, stress and diet. The therapist will treat all these factors. Of course stress is treated by the aromatherapy treatment itself and hormonal imbalances can be rectified with the appropriate essential oils. Dietary advice can be given. Essential oils in skin care products help in a number of ways when applied to the problem area. They are anti-bacterial, they help encourage circulation and therefore the removal of waste matter. They deep cleanse the skin and help return it to normal by balancing the secretions of the sebaceous glands.

Baby. Baby skin is very sensitive skin. it makes sense to be careful to choose products with the minimum of synthetic ingredients, avoiding products containing perfume, lanolin, mineral oil and certain soaps. Our products can also be provided in bases that are parabens and sulphate free.

Combination. Usually one skin type predominates so that this is the one to attend to. If the skin is clearly divided into oily and dry areas treat these areas separately with the correct mask.

Dry. Dry skin is a common problem and can actually be due to a lack of fluid uptake. Other causes are by lost moisture or insufficient oil production. An effective moisturiser will replace the moisture lost while essential oils will normailise the production of natural oil.

Eczema. Eczema in the main is hereditary but is aggravated by stress, diet and environmental pollutants. it can be treated very well with the correct essential oils and specific skin care.

Mature. Essential oils are excellent for helping to preserve the youthful appearance of the skin and also for rejuvenating mature skin as certain essential oils help the regeneration of new skin cells. They also have preservation properties and help to prevent the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Normal. A normal skin is neither too oily nor too dry - it is clear, smooth, radiant and rare! Aromatherapy skin care helps maintain a good complexion by keeping the blood circulation active and restoring the natural moisture balance.

Oily. This skin type can have open pores and is prone to spots. However it usually maintains its suppleness for longer than other skin types and may appear to age more slowly. Essential oils can do much to normalise the production of oil from the sebaceous glands.

Scar Care. Natural Products are particularly effective in reducing the pain and appearance of scars


Sunday, 4 July 2010

Citronnelal and the Horsefly

As you know I live in Shakespeares country.  The river Avon ambles by and is fed by numerous slow moving streams.  Warwickshire is home a lot of horses.  In some villages horses outnumber the human residents!  In the first week of July the horseflies go on the rampage attacking horses and humans alike.  So the question is what is the best source of citronellal to keep off the pesky horseflies?  A bite is not only painful it can lead to large swellings and reactions in humans.

Eucalyptus citriodora essential oil is a rich source of citronellal (80%) and is reported to be non toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitising so can be used on the skin. 

Other less favoured sources of citronellal are Lemongrass (cymbopogon c.) and Lemon Tea Tree (Leptospermum petersonii). Lemongrass can be irritating and sensitising in some individuals. Tea tree is possibly sensitising in some individuals.  Tea tree left in clear glass rapidly oxidises with para-cymene content increasing from 3% to 30% enough to cause chemical burns.  Tea Tree left in amber glass hardly oxidises.

It works on mosquitos as well.


Henriettes Herbal

I was researching an article on how to deal with the humble horsefly when I came across this site.  Citranellal can wait until tomorrow! Wow this is the researchers dream site.

Henriette Kress is a herbalist in Helsinki, Finland.What does she do? Henriette says "I correct imbalances, using herbs in combination with diet and lifestyle changes. An herbalist can probably help you if you're feeling tired all the time, have digestive or sinus troubles, if you have recurring infections (like, for instance, cystitis), if your period's too long, short, crampy or just too much, if you can't sleep, and even if you get the flu too often to suit you. Small uncomfortable things like that, which doctors usually can't do much about."

For USD 25 or EUR 20, you can buy the current version of the site DVD. It fits all of (per April 8, 2010) as .html files onto one DVD, and it's 2.1 GB, 76597 files, and 491 directories (plus the 3074 /plants/ directories).

Sample - The British Pharmaceutical Codex.

If like me you like taking and browsing pictures of your favourite plants and drawings here is the link.  Please note for commercial use in a book you will need to pay.

Image gallery

Good links page


Rating ***** thankyou Henriette



Friday, 2 July 2010

So from award winning Spas to home sweet home


A candle can diffuse oils into the home but with young children they are obviousy a hazard.  Today we can create good feelings all around with economical and effective aromatherapy oil diffusers. They also serve as night lights and anti-pollen air purifiers trapping pollen particles.  Research done in the sixties also highlighted the number of particles in the air of the average home as a potential source of infection and allergy.

What are the differences between Ionisers, Purifiers and Vaporisers?

Ionisers The sensation of mountain fresh air, or that invigorating feeling just after a thunderstorm is created naturally with electrically charged molecules called negative ions. Ionisers re-create this environment cleaning the air in your home by releasing literally billions of these negatively charged ions. The result is the healthy, refreshing feeling found by a mountain stream or near a waterfall.

Purifiers Aroma-streams filter impurities and odours out of the air by drawing it through a replaceable filter. Filters have 5 layers of varying composition to filter out different sized particles. The Aroma-Stream uses a specially designed filter, an aromapad, to vaporise aromatherapy oils whilst also cleaning the air of impurities. Each aromapad is supplied unfragranced for you to choose the oil you wish to use to create your desired atmosphere.

Vaporisers Vaporisers gently warm aromatherapy oils to vaporise them in a controlled manner. The traditional method of heating aromatherapy oils in burners can cause the oil to get too hot very quickly thus changing the nature of the oil and, therefore, it's effect. The use of controlled temperature produces a clean oil vapour with the scent remaining true to the original oil. Some vaporisers incorporate the benefits of ionisation or air purification.

What are the benefits of using ionisers or purifiers to clean the air around us? The benefits of this clean, fresh air are numerous. No more depressing, stale or stuffy atmospheres. Smoke is cleared quickly bringing benefits to smokers and non-smokers alike. Sufferers of respiratory disorders and hay fever may find that their symptoms are reduced or alleviated. Dust, pollen and even bacteria are continuously cleared from the air of benefit to hayfever sufferers. Are they expensive to run? No. Why does the area around my ioniser get dusty? One effect of an Ioniser is that it attracts dust that would otherwise be inhaled. It is therefore recommended that you only place the Ioniser on or near surfaces which are easily cleaned. This is an inherent characteristic of all air Ionisers. We recommend that you regularly check surfaces and walls for dust deposition in a room where an Ioniser is operating.

Can Aroma-streams, vaporisers and ionisers be left running overnight? Yes, all of the purifiers, vaporisers and ionisers are designed to be safe if left running. In fact, we recomend ionisers are run constantly for maximum effect. Can the Aroma-streams be opened to be cleaned? No, all of our Aroma-streams are sealed units and should not need to be cleaned as long as they are always run with the air filters in place. The air filters can be replaced without opening the units.


Hayfever sufferers - pictures of pollen grains

Hay fever rates may triple between now and 2030 with half of Britons suffering from allergies to pollen, it has been suggested in a new report.

The NHS estimates around ten million people currently suffer symptoms of hay fever - such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes - in the spring and summer as grasses and trees release their pollen into the air.

Find out more