Saturday, 29 September 2012


The IFPA Accredited Shirley Price Aromatherapy Diploma class starts in October!  Call College Secretary Rosie Brandrick on T: 01455 615466

If you are not a member of the IFPA you can still have a subscription to In Essence Magazine
(which is a marvellous resource with lots of interesting articles from highly respected authors and therapists) 

If you would like to subscribe you can contact the IFPA office details here! 

St Hildegard - Replacing wheat in your diet with Spelt

I have been thinking a lot about Hildegard recently.

Hildegard of Bingen said: “spelt is the best grain, warming, lubricating and of high nutritional value. It is better tolerated by the body than any other grain. Spelt provides its consumer with good flesh and good blood and confers a cheerful disposition. It provides a happy mind and a joyful spirit. No matter how you eat spelt, either as bread or in other foods, it is good and easy to digest.”

Spelt ( Tricitum spelta) is not wheat (Tricitum sativum), it is one of the original natural grains known to man. Spelt was grown in Europe over 9000 years ago.

Those seeking better health as they age have to look at their diet and can remove wheat, dairy and sugar.

Besides regular consumption of my beloved onions I swear by a bread loaf made from spelt.     It is very filling, tasty and the perfect substitute for the white loaf.  I buy my loaf in a farmers market in Warwick.

Spelt is one of the original grains known to man. It was commonly used until the 19th century, until wheat took the world of bakery over, being more suited to mass production as it contains more gluten.

Nutritionally, spelt is:
Rich in proteins
Rich in Essential Amino Acids
Rich in Essential Fatty Acids
Rich in B vitamins
Rich in high quality fibres
Rich in quality carbohydrates
Low in Gluten

Its high water solubility combined with its low level of gluten. It means it is easily and slowly digested. Its energy reaches every cell in the body effectively and reduces the tendency to snack throughout the day to boost energy. The nutrients are also made available to the entire organism with minimum of digestive work.

It seems like a lot of things the change to white flour was motivated by ease of mass production not what was most healthy. Much inflammatory illness seems to come back to mass produced bread, sugar and dairy. If you have a flavoursome satisfying spelt bread to enjoy then you dont need to spread anything on it so goodbye to butter and sugar containing jams.

On the spiritual aspects generally a great book which can be scanned through online is Dr Wighard Strethlows book on Hildegard of Bingens Spiritual Remedies. St Hildegard didnt have much in the way of essential oils available to her but she points the way. The book takes in our knowledge of anatomy and physiology, the human condition, diet and remedies. Inspired spirituality of this sort does have great authenticity and is easy to understand. Dr Strethlows book sets out St Hildegards visions and thinking very well. You might like to think of emotion as a balance the body strikes between vice and virtue according to the internal and external circumstances perceived.

I have always found books on the emotional aspects of aromatherapy rather unsystematic and so hard to follow perhaps because we start with the oils and then relate them to emotion and mood via the physical/mental body rather than the other way round. (I know maybe the oils defer systemisation not least because they share components and Gabriel Mojays work is solidly grounded in understanding the mind/body ).

However starting from the spiritual aspects of received spirituality and the anatomy of the nervous system as it relates to the organs maybe helps point the way to the linking of the oils, emotions and spirituality.

Ian Brealey

Thursday, 27 September 2012


linalool is found in two enantiomeric forms in essential oils. 

The (R)-(-) linalool is the linalool found in lavandin, lavender, bergamot, clary sage, myrtle, neroli,bitter orange petitgrain, basil,

while the (S)-(+)- linalool is found in coriander and cardamom oil. (Ref BL)

The biological effects(activity) is directly related to the chirality of a compound in question. 

 The feature that is most often the cause of chirality in molecules is the presence of an asymmetric carbon atom.  The term chiral in general is used to describe an object that is not superposable on its mirror image.  In chemistry, chirality usually refers to molecules. Two mirror images of a chiral molecule are called enantiomers or optical isomers. Pairs of enantiomers are often designated as "right-" and "left-handed".

 Enantiomers of each other often show different chemical reactions with other substances that are also enantiomers. Since many molecules in the bodies of living beings are enantiomers themselves, there is often a marked difference in the effects of two enantiomers on living beings. In drugs, for example, often only one of a drug's enantiomers is responsible for the desired effects, while the other enantiomer is less active, inactive, or sometimes even responsible for adverse effects (unwanted side-effects).

Ref:  Wikipedia

Ian Brealey

Useful links


Wikipedia article

Perfumers alcohol

Organic jojoba, coconut

Organic essential oils

on fame

Are synthetic fragrances harmful?  

Are synthetic fragrances bad for my health? What's the difference between a natural and synthetic fragrance? How do I know if a fragrance is truly natural?
When made from plant-based ingredients such as herbs, flowers, spices, and essential oils, fragrances don’t just make you smell good—they can make you feel good, too. 

Most conventional sweet- smelling ingredients today are synthetic.  Fragrances can contain any number of 400 natural or synthetic ingredients, many of which are derived from petrochemicals. 

The problem with fragrances

Fragrances are among the top five known allergens in North America and Europe. More than 100 fragrance ingredients can cause itchy, scaly, painful skin, and potentially worsen asthma, and synthetics aren’t the only ingredients known to trigger allergic reactions. Even high concentrations of certain natural ingredients including tea tree, lavender, and citrus peel oils may cause such symptoms.

The rise of nontoxic scents

Thanks to greater awareness about the potential risks of synthetic ingredients, perfumers are finding success with natural formulations. Essential oils, often used in natural fragrances, have a range of mind-body benefits

The beauty of natural perfumes

When you buy natural fragrances—or beauty products containing them—you also support farmers and harvesters of plant-based ingredients. 


I am making some reed diffusers fragranced with essential oils, I am having trouble making the fragrance strong enough and finding the right carrier Liquid. Does anyone have a good recipe?

The fragrance base Ingredients: DPG, IGEPAL CO 730, TERGITOL NP9, TRITON X-100. This is pretty typical for a fragrance oil base.

Courtesy of wikipedia Dipropylene glycol is a mixture of three isomeric chemical compounds, 4-oxa-2,6-heptandiol, 2-(2-Hydroxy-propoxy)-propan-1-ol, and 2-(2-Hydroxy-1-methyl-ethoxy)-propan-1-ol. It is a colorless, nearly odorless liquid with a high boiling point and low toxicity. 

DPG is used to make perfume, incense and other products. I have seen that a 1:1 ratio is recommended for making fragrance oil, a 3 (parts fragrance oil) to 7 (parts DPG) for making reed diffusers, and a 1 (fragrance) to 3 (DPG) ratio for making perfume oil. 

OK I am going to stick my neck out here. All those volatile hydrocarbons are very very light. Inhaling them is going to add a microscopic load to the liver. When I fill my car with petrol I probably get a heftier dose of harmful hydrocarbons than I ever would inhaling DPG as a room fragrancer. Its not going to kill you or your clients.

However it is synthetic and for those of us who believe (in an intuitive and unproven way) there is some physics besides the basic chemistry that makes essential oils special thats enough to kill the vitality to be conveyed by the fragrance which is why we advocate diffusion by a fan of air or electrically heated stone.



Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Should essential oils be avoided in pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a red flag. Simple as that for most practicioners unless there are specific physical care reasons to continue more diluted treatments. For mental care then inhalation is good and can continue anyway. Come delivery yes Jasmine at the birth.

On dilutions a 3% blend in 5 ml of carrier, 20 drops to a ml so thats just one drop of three essential oils in the blend with higher dilutions for children eg 10ml of carrier.

Having the evidence base to hand for each essential oil used is good practice and these days very easily assembled as part of your protocol.

Standard stuff I know but you cant say it too often. 

 Caution is the word.  The term emmenague is used for herbs which stimulate menstruation so naturally its best to stay away from those oils. Some oils like parsley oil are downright dangerous in pregnancy and must be avoided. 

Many mums are well into the first trimester before realising they are pregnant.  Some mums can tell straight away.  As ever it comes down to the individual before you.  If they are finding light EO inhalation supportive for conditions eg weight loss or depression before finding themselves pregnant there seems no particular reason to stop as that will be supportive of the pregnancy. Fortunately though most mums have children young so would be less likely to be using EOs for self care or pleasure so less likely to miss them. 

EOs do find their way into fruit juices and bakery in particular as flavouring but obviously in tiny proportions (yes in home cooking the lemon or vanilla cake might get a good dose but you only need a little to impart the taste!). 

Tiran makes a very good point that medically chemicals are avoided if at all possible during pregancy so if medication is being avoided that must also apply to EOs in any significant dose but the mum will know.  Particularly in the latter stages of pregnancy the heightened sense of smell in pregnancy warns of danger.  When teaching a class we warn pregnant nurses to excuse themselves if it doesnt feel right.

Ian Brealey


"Clinical Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Childbirth" Denise Tran

Bakerink, JA. Gospe Pediatrics 98(5) 944-947 Multiple organ failure after ingesting pennyroyal

"Clinical Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Labor" Course by RN, Aromatherapist Pam Conrad

Burns, E. "Using Aromatherapy in childbirth" Nursing Times 90 (9) 54-60

"American College of Healthcare Sciences" Aromatherapy Program, Portland, Oregon
"Clinical Aromatherapy" Jane Buckle and her Aromatherapy Course

"Aromatherapy for Health Professionals" Shirley Price

Friday, 21 September 2012

Breast cancer awareness

Breast cancer awareness month

Did you know? Boots has trained 500 pharmacists to offer "practical and emotional" support to patients suffering from cancer, as part of its ongoing partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support.
As part of the scheme, Boots Macmillian Information Pharmacists direct patients to local cancer support and services. More than 4,000 of the multiple's healthcare staff have also received "bespoke training" on the issue to enable them to "understand and have good conversations" with people affected by cancer.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

beating cancer with diet

Well done Allan Taylor beating cancer with changes to his diet

Dr Max Gerson

Can cancer be cured by a vegetarian diet?  Take away the irritants (bad food, poor quality fluoridated water, fats and sugars, dairy products) and introduce ingredients the body can use to fight with-clean water-a healthy liver-vegetables-nutrients.  Because of epidemilogical studies of the incidence of cancer in relation to diet whatever other treatment is used dietary advice is no longer neglected in cancer treatment.

        Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
      Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

Monday, 10 September 2012

Essential oils and cancer

Essential oils are best known for their antiseptic and immunostimulant properties.

Perhaps the most suprising thing in essential research is the lack of investigation of the anti cancer effects of essential oils. No one would suggest such research could provide a cure for cancers or anti cancer properties can be routinely claimed for essential oils. However essential oils use may well throw light on useful lines of enquiry for researchers.

Essential oils are mixtures of upto 300 small chemicals.  The steam distillation process limits the molecular weight of these chemicals to some 440.  They are composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  Some constituents are really tiny.  So it is more correct to say a study of some essential oil constituents may throw light on anti cancer properties.  If it were a matter of particular essential oils or their major chemical constituents there would have been progress long ago in identifying what essential oil constituents have anti cancer effects and in understanding why.

There are plenty of signposts from users of essential oils pointing to an anticancer effect.  Not only in the late medieval herbals when essential oils were the state of the art tools of medicine but today in the reports of practising aromatherapists using essential oils as alternative treatments.

Speaking at Imperial College in May 2012 Robert Tisserand described work on brain tumours in Brazil with essential oil constituents apparently being used to shrink tumours.

Medicine uses naturally occurring substances in the treatment of brain cancer.  For example 140 uranium sources are used to create a focussed beam of energy to smash the DNA of cancer cells and eradicate a tumour.  There is no reason to suppose that equally discriminating chemical means cannot be employed to focus on the removal of tumours once we understand the biology, chemistry and the physics involved.

The science required is an understanding of the chemical intelligence of the body and how DNA actually works.  Viruses hold clues.  Viruses commandeer the cells they invade to create more viruses.  We know certain chemicals including antibiotics are carcinogens and can turn cancer genes on.   The day to day working of body tissues, why inflammation rises, how cells communicate at the molecular level - all this is needed.  Already an impressive list.

Unfortunately because of the economics of identifying essential oil constituents and patenting them progress in this area is patchy with no clear way ahead.  Why spend time on essential oil research if the result cannot be patented?  The research required is of a pure disinterested nature and cannot be left to the market. The not for profit sector funding cancer research can be of great assistance here. 

Science has a better understanding of why cancer genes can lie dormant and then be switched on.  If a gene can be switched on then it can be switched off.  With a better understanding of the chemistry of what switches cancer genes on comes closer the day when they can be switched off by chemical means.

Science also has a better understanding of essential oils.  It is now commonplace to analyse the essential oils being used and to source essential oils as close to the date of their first distillation as possible as well as using whole unprocessed oils.

It is possible to survive cancer and there is no doubt diet plays a vital part.
Here is the excellent work of Jane Plant.

Cancer incidence by age

Cancer support

Ian Brealey

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Essential oils

Can sadness make you ill?  Cant happiness make you feel better?  Of course.  Our psychological landscape and emotional landscape play a vital role in our health.  The ability of the scents from flowering plants to alter our mood is a valuable tool in self care.

The scents of flowering plants drawn from the roots, flowers, fruits and leaves are evocative and linked deeply to memory. They take you to places and experiences deep in your memory.  The scent of rose takes us back to the first garden they were smelt in and with it a memory of a treasured grandparent and a time of childish laughter, trust and communication.  This is especially valuable in times of stress when laughter - and the trust and communication that go with it are not to be found.

A garden’s perfume doesn’t just come from the flowering plants – bark resins release scent as you brush against them and the smells of hot stone, bonfires, moss, cut grass and mulching leaves. Because a scent’s ability to switch on emotional reactions is so powerful, you can plant a garden to support an emotional state.  The mentally ill (and most people experience mild form of mental illness sometime in their lives) can find it difficult to cope with emotions.  Treatment involves the use of sedatives to damp down the emotion.  Gardening and horticulture plays an important role in the treatment of prisoners and the mentally ill and is utilised where possible.

Scent can either energise or calm. To energise we use stimulating, fresh smells such as fennel, peppermint, basil and lemon. To calm we concentrate on the things that allow people to unwind. The way it affects our breathing – encouraging us to take a full, deep breath – is part of the relaxing effect. Lemon balm, thyme, lavender, rosemary, marjoram, vanilla, and chamomile.

As to why scents have this impact on us that is contained in the chemistry of the essential oils.  relaxing scents contain plant alcohols and esters.  Energising scents are rich in terpenes.  Aldehydes impart subtle emotional qualities to the experience of scent.  Fortunately for us the scents can be experienced in the convenient form of essential oils derived from flowering plants.

Ian Brealey