Pascal Debauche, a biochemist with Pranarom International, spoke about Oregano(Origanum compactum) and Cinnamon Bark(Cinnamomum verum) essential oils and their bactericidal actions at Botanica. Right off the bat, I found it interesting he noted that one single essential oil can contain up to 250 molecules. His talk focused on two of the most powerful, natural phyto-aromatics; Oregano and Cinnamon Bark.


Cinnamon Bark

However, other Bactericidal Essential Oils that he mentioned are:

  • Ajowan(Trachyspermum ammi)
  • Thyme(Thymus vulgaris ct. thymol)
  • Clove(Eugenia Caryophyllata)*
  • Lemongrass(Cymbopogon citratus)
  • Tea Tree(Melaleuca alternifolia)

With the exception of Lemongrass and Tea Tree in the above list, the chemical component responsible for the aggressive action against bacteria is called a phenol. Oregano, for example, is comprised of 55-60% phenols(a combination of Carvacrol & Thymol constituents).

In his clinical study, the two essential oils were tested on 65 bacteria. Oregano and Cinnamon Bark proved to have the highest effect, with a great potential to target bacteria, as well as having anti-oxidant properties. This combination makes them both possible candidates as natural food preservatives(further testings will confirm).

In summary, phenols are the most aggressive anti-infectious chemical family found in some essential oils. With that being said, they are also one group that has to be handled with the most care.

Notes of Caution:

  1. Phenols are used for acute conditions, for short periods of time.
  2. For topical blends, always dilute essential oils that contain high amounts of phenols in a carrier oil, not greater than a 1% dilution. Skin sensitization can occur, as well as mucus membrane irritation.
  3. It is advised, prior to application, to apply on a test patch to confirm that there is no adverse reaction.
  4. Phenols are not suitable for children under 5.
  5. *Clove is an anticoagulant and is not recommended for persons with a clotting disorder.

For more information on essential oil safety, you can consult Robert Tisserand’s book here.

Great! Let’s put it into action-

Diffuser Blend for Cold & Flu Defense(original formula)**

Sweet Orange(Citrus sinensis)-20 drops

Lavender(Lavandula angustifolia)-20 drops

Tea Tree(Melaleuca alternifolia)-10 drops

Cinnamon Bark(Cinnamomum verum)-3 drops

Blend the above essential oils in a stock bottle. Use up to 10 drops in your diffuser. Diffuse for up to 10 minute intervals, a couple of times per day.

Until next time…

Breathe Joy,

Kc, Nationally Certified Aromatherapist


**Statements on this blog have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Naho Maruyama, a graduate of the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was one of the presenters at Botanica 2012. Her lecture was on the effects of essential oils on the cell walls of fungus. Her rating of the anti-microbial activity of the essential oil components (with greatest effect listed first) is:

  1. Phenols
  2. Aldehydes
  3. Alcohols
  4. Ketones
  5. Esters
  6. Ethers
  7. Hydrocarbons

And, in terms of complete essential oils, her line up is as follows: Palmarosa, Tea Tree, Cinnamon, Lemongrass, Melissa and Thyme ct. thymol.
One of the clinical case studies presented was on the treatment of Tinea ungunium, fungal infection of the nails(toe nails).

They applied the following formula 2 times per day:

  • Tea Tree(Melaleuca alternifolia)-25 drops
  • Lavender(Lavandula angustifolia)-10 drops
  • Palmarosa(Cymbopogon martini var. motia)-10 drops
  • Honey-10 grams
  • Carrier Oil-30 grams

Warming the foot(say in a warm water foot bath) was found to be useful in influencing saturation and increasing absorption. The above, with regular sterilization of shoes, showed a clearing in 9 months.

It was noted that not only are essential oils receiving strong attention for the pharmacological activities on bacteria, viruses and fungus but on the indirect effects as well; anti-inflammatory responses and immune enhancement being examples.

During Botanica, it was awesome to see the amount of time, effort, research and results dedicated to the clinical applications of essential oils in other parts of the world. This presenter from Japan was no exception.

Up Next: Natural Microbicides

Until next time…
Breathe Joy,



Jurgen Reichling, a German professor at the Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, was one of the speakers at Botanica this past Fall. He presented on the antiviral effect of pure essential oils on HSV-1(Herpes Labialis, caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus-Type 1); commonly known as cold sores. The essential oil of Thyme(Thymus vulgaris ct. thymol) was at the top of the list, inactivating the virus within 10 minutes of contact. Next, in the power line up, were the citrus essential oils, followed by Pine. He shared the following formula:

  • Thyme(Thymus vulgaris ct. thymol)
  • Tea Tree(Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Eucalyptus(Eucalyptus globulus)

The above essential oils were combined at a 6% dilution in a gel base, applied five times per day to the affected area. The results of the study showed clearing of the blister(s) outbreak in an average of 9 days vs. the typical 12.5 day period, if left untreated.

An interesting note highlighted was that the complete essential oil was more active than the individual main components. The synergistic effect of the whole essential oil had more activity and action on the virus. Are you surprised? I’m not! I think Mother Nature knew what she was doing. :o )

More snippets coming your way.

Next up: Pharmacological Activities of Essential Oils

Until next time…
Breathe Joy,


Photo Credit: American Meadows

Debbie Smith

Debbie Smith, Certified Yoga Teacher and author of the Retreat and Restore blog

I had the great fortune to visit with yogini, Debbie Smith. We shared stories of the past and our future dreams and inspirations. It was so great to connect with a conscious soul, with a shared desire for natural well being; body, mind and spirit.

Debbie is a gifted yoga teacher at the Victor Yoga Studio, in Victor, NY. If you are local, I highly recommend dropping by for a class to experience her offerings first hand.

Here is the link to our recent talk.

Until next time…

Breathe Joy,



Friends of Botanica

Do you know the best thing about joining in on educational functions? The awesome opportunity to hang with old friends and a chance to make new connections as well.
Botanica Friends
I have always loved being a part of a group, sharing like interests. In the past that has meant vegetarian societies, meditation sangats and community visitor associations. In this instance @ Botanica 2012, was all about plant medicine lovers! You can imagine there was no shortage of compassionate, forward thinking, intuitive folks present. All traits, that in my experience, are generally found in complementary care givers.

So, by day we were graced by one impressive speaker after another and by night, the fun continued as we met up with other conference attendees to compare notes, share case studies and business know how. Such a fabulous combination!

The next speaker was Ann Harmon, a distiller from the Pacific North West and owner of Morning Myst Botanicals. I have long appreciated the quality of her hydrolats and after meeting her in person, see why the caliber is so high. Her confidence and love of plants was alluring. She talked about the importance of using organic plant material when distilling, as pesticides and herbicides are water-soluble. I was lucky to not only hear her general lecture, but take the 3 1/2 hour workshop post conference. We enjoyed a wonderful slide presentation of the copper stills in action and played with hydrolats of Lemon Thyme, Helichrysum, Holy Basil, Yarrow and more. Instructions on how to home distill (on the stove-top) were introduced…which I am eager to try! Liz Fulcher, a friend and colleague, recently blogged about these healing waters. Click to check out her informative writings.

Botanica Friends 2

Enjoying the Dublin Gala with dear friends from my home town.

Other perks of the event were a wide array of vendors with goods that ranged from distiller direct essential oils, to natural skin care to published author works on the subject of backyard remedies. Old favorites included Aromahead Institute highlighting their Aromatherapy Scholars program. This 400 hour certification is available in person and online and is second to none in comprehensive, holistic essential oil education. Aromatics International flew in from their home base of Montana and exhibited a wide range of GC/MS(Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) essential oils that ranged from Gingergrass to Vintage Patchouli. A new-found supplier was Tunupa, a family owned operation from Brazil. Not only were they charming, the line up of exotic essential oils and carriers from their native country was enough to make any aromatherapist giddy. My top two must haves:

Baru(Dipteryx alata)-from the minute I tried the sample, I knew this liquid carrier was something very special. It immediately penetrated the skin and felt so nourishing (unlike anything that I have tried before). It is also known for:

  • High Omega 6, Omega 9 and Vitamins A, B’s and E.
  • Helpful for rheumatism, arthritis and eczema conditions
  • Skin Nourishing


Brazilian Cherry(Eugenia uniflora)-I love wood, especially Cherry. So my curiosity was peaked when I saw this single. Unique in fragrance and known for the following properties:

  • Emollient
  • Astringent
  • Restorative (especially for hair)
  • Highly antioxidant potential

The story of Botanica continues with more posts, speaker snippets and insider tips. Stay tuned.

Dublin Girls

From left to right: A Microbiologist from Poland, Me, an Essential Oil Importer from Long Island & an Aromatherapy Educator from Slovenia having fun post class.

Until next time…
Breathe Joy,

Bud Therapy

Photo credit: David Lev

Gemmotherapy was presented by Nick Churchill at Botanica 2012, in Dublin, Ireland. When I saw the title in the presentation roster, my initial thought was that it was related to gemstones. As a lover of both precious and semi-precious gems, I was excited! But, I quickly found out that the subject was very different and equally as intriguing.

The topic was on remedies created from the material gathered from embryonic tissues found in buds and young shoots (plant stem cell therapy). Gemmotherapy was started in France over 50 years ago and now is very popular in Italy and Romania.

Unlike other herbal harvests, the embryonic material and marrow stem (undivided cells) are harvested during a very short window of time, in some species that can mean 2 days, in others 2 weeks, in order to capture the most vital components before rapid development. Interesting to note that the meristems have the potential to become any other part of the tree. Imagine energetically how that potentiality infuses the remedy and then in turn the recipient!

The very nature of buds is expressed in an “outward energy.” Not a coincidence that the functions of many of the remedies derived have emunctory healing properties on our organs. Mr. Churchill referred to them as a “cellular chimney sweep”, whereas these unique photochemical components act on our biochemical pathways in a drainage, detoxification and tissue regenerating manner.

Mulberry Bud

Mulberry Bud
Photo credit: HM Vanderbeek

Examples mentioned:

  • Black Current(Cassia), known as the “Jewel of Gemmotherapy”-for it’s cortisone like behavior on allergic states, such as Hay fever
  • Mulberry-for diabetes support
  • Cedar-for scaly, dry skin conditions
  • Japanese Creeper-for arthritis of the small joints

The remedies are delivered in a maceration of glycerin and pure alcohol. A dose example would be 3-5 drops taken in water 2-3 times per day, over a period of time(weeks or months, depending).

This was one of the most fascinating subjects of the conference and definitely got my eyebrows raised! For more information, feel free to visit the following links:

Gemmotherapy School
Gemmotherapy Information and Remedies
Gemmotherapy Forum

Until Next Time…
Breathe Joy

Botanica: Part 2

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba
Photo credit: http://www.pfaf.org

It was heart warming to witness eager attendees from 33 different countries, with the common goal of experiencing the most cutting edge information and case studies in herbal and aromatic medicine. Each of the four days of Botanica 2012 the audience was packed with a wide array of professionals ranging from doctors, nurses, herbalists, microbiologists and clinical aromatherapists. The networking opportunity was fantastic and provided an invaluable view of how each country practices their trade based on culture, government and legal structures.

Anne Varley, a medical herbalist from Ireland, spoke about “The Map is not the Territory.” I did appreciate her insight on being open to the actuality of the case and time at hand. She talked in-depth about how not to confuse models of reality vs. the actual reality in regard to phytotherapy and complimentary medicine. I think this is a very valid point for life in general as well. What looks logical on paper or data that was compiled years past, may very well not be the most efficient way to handle the current situation. I like the quote from Deepak Chopra, “Instead of thinking outside the box… get rid of the box!” Politics of Irish herbal practice were discussed, including the herbs of Ginkgo Biloba and Hypericum’s ban and the campaign to have them re-instated as valuable healing agents. This talk gave me a feeling of gratitude for our current ability to use herbal and aromatic medicine in the United States, as well as a sense of fragility on the topic.

Love FlowersSwitching gears, we had the great pleasure of listening to a heart centered talk from Judith Hoad, a herbalist who also combines acupressure and homeopathy in her work. It was an honor to witness this loving being and her respect for all life. ‘Eco-kin’, a term that she coined, illustrates her deep respect for all living beings, including the plant world, our relationships with one another and how we communicate. She spoke about the intelligence embedded in all living cells and how this intelligence exists in plants as well(although not the same as humans, nonetheless still present). Co-creation Gardening, a book written by Machaelle Small Wright was recommended and Stephen Harrod Buhner’s teachings.
I had an opportunity to visit with Judith and her spirit was bright and demeanor humble. This woman, who as a side note has lived “off the grid” for over 50 years, was my all time fav of the event!

Lots more to come!  Stay tuned for Part 3.

Until next time…
Breathe Joy,


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