Thursday, April 16, 2015

Aromatherapy: Science or fiction?

By Christine Charles, RDH, CCA
April 15, 2015
Christine Charles, RDH, CCA is a certified clinical aromatherapist with 12 years experience using therapeutic grade essential oils in supporting wellness and balance.

According to the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists, “aromatherapy is a treatment designed to help maintain physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing by the correct application of pure essential oils. The word ‘aroma’ means a fragrance or sweet smell and the word ‘therapy’ simply means a treatment designed to bring about a positive change in an individual.

“Since an aromatherapy treatment is concerned with creating balance and equilibrium within a person, its primary uses are to uplift, detoxify, de-stress and invigorate—in other words, to help the body to help itself to regain health or wellbeing.” (1)

A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found evidence that aromatherapies are helpful. The authors undertook “a systematic review of scientific experimentation addressing olfactory effects on mood, physiology and behavior. From this review, 18 studies meeting stringent empirical criteria were then analyzed in detail and it was found that credible evidence exists that odors can affect mood, physiology and behavior.” (2)

Certified clinical aromatherapists (CCA) make custom-balanced essential oil blends for a client's problem. A custom blend is specific to the client and requires a great deal of knowledge of the chemistry and actions of the oils and their desired outcomes on the part of the CCA.

Aromatherapists need to take an in-depth assessment of their client to discover the issues for which essential oils may be helpful. That includes asking medical questions and writing down the history that is given by the client. This information is valuable in helping to decide which healing treatments and which essential oils to use in the healing session with the client.  

The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists also states that “essential oils are manufactured in the leaves of aromatic plants during the process of photosynthesis and then stored in a variety of places, such as in the flowers, leaves, fruit, seeds, etc., depending on the plant. They are extracted by a variety of methods, including distillation and expression. Each individual essential oil has its own chemical components and therefore, its own individual therapeutic properties.” (1)

Therapeutic grade essential oils can work through inhalation, ingestion, and topical application; it all depends on the purpose and focus. Topical use is perhaps the best known, and oils are also used through massage, acupuncture, acupressure, warm compress, cold packs, bath and shower.  Dietary use may be one of the most effective ways of unlocking their health benefits (e.g., antioxidant benefits). It is important to look for the “dietary supplement” on the label—then you know it can be taken internally.

A very popular and useful way to use therapeutic grade essential oils is by direct inhalation or by diffusing, as well as by adding to humidifiers and vaporizers. It is important to know your essential oil company and the purity and efficacy of the oils from the seed to the seal on the bottle.


1. What is aromatherapy? International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists. Accessed April 15, 2015.

2. Herz RS. Aromatherapy facts and fictions: A scientific analysis of olfactory effects on mood, physiology and behavior. Int J Neurosci. 2009;119:263-90. doi: 10.1080/00207450802333953.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Desert Solar May Pose Threat to Desert Biofuels

by Chris Clarke
on July 25, 2012 5:09 PM

Development in the desert can cause serious dust pollution, and utility-scale solar is no exception to that rule. Any disturbance to the desert's delicate soils can loose tons of dust into the air. (If you've driven past Ford Dry Lake on I-10 on a windy day recently, you've seen an example of this, as heavy dust off the Genesis Solar Energy Project routinely slows transcontinental traffic between Blythe and Indio.)

That dust can do more than decrease visibility, and breathability for that matter. It can also seriously affect desert plant life, including some desert plants that are being farmed as a renewable energy source themselves. And according to jojoba farmer Donna Charpied, dust blowing off the Desert Sunlight construction site adjacent to her farm in the Chuckwalla Valley has seriously damaged this year's crop of potential fuel oil.

Charpied, who KCET viewers may remember from an popular episode of California's Gold with Huell Howser, has been farming jojoba in the Chuckwalla Valley with her husband Larry for more than 30 years. Jojoba is an evergreen shrub native to the North American Deserts, including California's Mojave and Colorado deserts, whose seed is more than half oil. This oil is generally used in cosmetics and personal care products. Given its very long carbon chains it's long been touted as a potential biofuel crop. That's the use the Charpieds -- who call themselves "Jojoba Witnesses" -- have spent three decades promoting.

First Solar started building the 4,100-acre Desert Sunlight solar facility next door to the Charpieds' farm in September 2011, and Donna Charpied says the resulting dust has done serious damage to their crop. First Solar cleared about 1,000 acres of desert almost immediately on commencement of construction, she told ReWire, and winter dust storms off the site covered their jojoba while it was flowering, with disastrous results. According to Charpied;

When the female blooms, it sends out three little "hairs" or styles that produce a sticky substance to help catch pollen. The jojoba cannot distinguish between a particle of pollen or dust, and once it "thinks" it is pollinated it stops producing that sticky substance and goes into seed setting mode. We lost 50% of our crop this year due to false pollination, which would have been a bumper crop.

Dust, also called "particulate matter," is a serious health hazard regulated by the EPA and state air quality management districts. Aside from car crashes during dust storms, it can cause asthma and other respiratory ailments. Airborne soil is a known vector for valley fever, and apparently it's bad for a jojoba-fueled future as well.

Charpied finds it ironic that her crop losses due to fugitive dust from the construction site can be seen as a result of development of a utility-scale solar project built with nearly $1.9 billion in Federal loan guarantees. "We grow a true 'green energy' crop that lives 200 years," she says. "It converts CO2, and does not compete for water during the summer months. And we never received a dime in government money to produce it."


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vintage Cranberry Glass Czech Atomizer

Cranberry glass, hand painted. Marked Czechoslovakia on the metal collar.

Bottle measures 6 1/2" tall with atomizer, Siphon tube is glass. New atomizer bulb. Hand painted enamel flowers with gold encrusted accents. Almost no paint loss, very good condition. ID=AT2


The science behind naming a perfume

Unlike making a perfume – an elusive and complicated exercise in chemistry, creativity and olfactory instinct – naming a fragrance is neither science nor art. At best, it is clever wordplay or effective sensory cue. At worst, it is focus-group marketing gone awry.

Le Labo, a niche fragrance house, is one of those that gets the name game right: It titles all its scents after the primary essence involved plus the number of ingredients in the formulation. Hence Vetiver 46, Ambrette 9, Patchouli 24. Informative yet original, right?

On the other hand, perfumer Kilian Hennessy takes the prize for most superfluous labels, as each of the nine scents in his Black Masterpiece series also has subtitled lower-case names. Two examples are Liasons Dangereuses: typical me and Cruel Intentions: tempt me. I’m waiting for Head Scratcher: confuse me.

In general, fragrance names are less a reflection of trends than a way of getting a customer’s attention. To that end, many perfumers have succeeded of late, as I’ve found myself intrigued by a series of recent arrivals emphasizing sex. And by sex I mean gender. Dolce & Gabbana, for instance, has released The One Gentleman, which has Matthew McConaughey attached to the campaign (he was also their man in 2008). Last month, Paco Rabanne debuted the very decadent Lady Million. And the newest Thierry Mugler perfume has been christened – get ready to cringe – Womanity.

Clive Christian, the outfit behind “The World’s Most Expensive Perfume,” has also introduced C for Man and C for Women, veering away from a track record of neutral names such as No. 1 Perfume, X Perfume and 1872 Perfume.

What’s with all the labels aimed squarely at ladies or dudes? While the market has always offered scents that are directed toward “him” or “her,” an extended love affair with all things unisex has made gender-specific labelling increasingly rare until now. That’s why all these sex-focused names stand out. Frederic Appaire, marketing director for Paco Rabanne, suggests that recent metrosexual and girl power moments in popular culture have made fragrances such as CK One, the once-revolutionary unisex fragrance, feel like an eternity ago, priming the industry for a labelling shift. “Fragrances have followed that evolution by becoming more gender-oriented and having more sensual, ‘signed’ notes for both men and women,” he writes via e-mail.

To be sure, there is no ambiguity as far as the smell of these scents go. Lady Million, a follow-up to 1 Million, the men’s scent housed in a gold bar-shaped bottle, is luxuriously sweet: I get grapes, bouquets of fuchsia flowers, the olfactory suggestion of a trophy wife. Womanity, meanwhile, is like tasting candy after an especially savoury meal – a reward of sweet balanced by a lingering hint of salt. It will not replace Mugler’s iconic and aggressive Angel, but it's wonderfully flirty.

The One Gentleman, meanwhile, represents another interpretation of pepper this season – see also Marc Jacobs’ Bang – with the addition of hints of cardamom, lavender, fennel and vanilla. These are flavours that appear in gourmet chocolates and, I suspect, would be equally delicious on a man. For the promo video, McConaughey is shown in the closing hours of a lavish party. “If you know who you are, there’s nothing to prove,” he says in voiceover. Compare that to Lady Million’s tagline: “Lady Million is a dazzling femme fatale, creative and untamed. No man can resist her.” In other words, he comes across as suave, while she's a predatory minx. This is the stuff of gender studies these days.

The Lady Million flanker (industry-speak for bottle) is shaped like a multi-faceted diamond, with an ostentatious gold-plated cap. Womanity is a pink juice housed in a long glass bottle topped by an engraved, tribal motif in a pewter-esque finish. These perfumes would look as out of place on a man’s bathroom counter as a pair of Brian Atwood platform pumps in his closet. Yet at least there are no mixed messages. The problem with unisex fragrances, says James Bassil, editor of, is that they’re not nearly as enticing for the gents as the ladies. While lifestyle publications have helped educate men about the world of scent, choices are still primarily made based on a partner’s opinion or branding. Hence the importance of a name that doesn’t beat around the bush. “Guys don’t want to smell manly because that would be wood or axle grease,” Bassil says by phone from Montreal. “They want to smell nice, but they’re wary of anything wrapped up in femininity branding.”

So is the great unisex-fragrance experiment pioneered by CK One over? There are still a number of strong gender-neutral scents on the market: I’d likely choose a nuanced Hermès, Tom Ford Private Blend, Frédéric Malle or L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrance in a blind sniff test over others that simplify the floral/wood formula. This latest branding – really another version of pink for girls, blue for boys – just rubs me the wrong way.

To muddy the perfume waters further, though, actress Kate Walsh has partnered with the Home Shopping Network to launch Boyfriend in November. The fragrance is intended for women, but is inspired by “the scent of a guy on a girl,” according to the press release. Among young women, it may well prove a hit, although I doubt we’ll be seeing Girlfriend any time soon. Married men wouldn’t touch it.


Monday, February 9, 2009



Parts used and where grown

The leaves of basil and its many close relatives are used as medicine. The seeds are also used medicinally in India and Southeast Asia. Though it originates on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, common basil now grows in gardens all over the world. Three important relatives with similar properties are Ocimum canum (hairy basil), O. gratissimum (basil), and O. sanctum (holy basil).

Active constituents

Basil contains a strong-scented volatile oil composed primarily of terpenoids, particularly eugenol, thymol, and estragole. Basil also has what are known as chemotypes, minor variations among plants that contain significantly different mixes of constituents. The exact components of basil oil vary widely, being affected not only by these chemotypes but also by factors such as the time of day of harvest. This may account for some of the variability in scientific research and reports of medicinal efficacy of basil from culture to culture.

Preliminary studies on holy basil and hairy basil have shown that the leaf and seed may help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. While the action-mechanism of the leaf is not understood, the seed may work by providing dietary fiber, which helps prevent rapid blood sugar elevations after meals. In addition, the seed has been found to relieve constipation by acting as a bulk-forming laxative in one uncontrolled human study. A similar study showed the seeds useful in elderly people who experienced constipation after undergoing major surgery.

The volatile oil of basil has shown antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity in test tube studies. It is also believed to act as a carminative, relieving intestinal gas, and as a mild diuretic, though these actions have yet to be definitively proven.


How much is usually taken?

A tea can be made by steeping 1 teaspoon of basil leaves in one cup of water for ten minutes. Three cups of this tea can be drunk per day. Capsules of basil can be taken in the amount of 2.5 grams per day. The volatile oil can be taken internally in the amount of 2 to 5 drops three times per day.

Side Effects

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Although concerns have been raised about the possible cancer-causing effects of estragole, a component found in variable amounts in basil volatile oil, small amounts of basil would not seem to pose a significant threat. However, because some herbal books suggest that estragole may be potentially carcinogenic and has been thought to stimulate uterine contractions, some herbal experts feel it may be best for pregnant or breast-feeding women to avoid use of the herb, especially the volatile oil. People with serious kidney or liver damage should not use basil volatile oil internally, as they could theoretically have trouble eliminating it from their bodies. However, use of basil as a seasoning in food is unlikely to be of concern.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with basil.

Drug Interactions

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with basil.


1. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal vol 1. New York: Hafner, 1967:86.

2. Nadkarni AK, Nadkarni KM. Indian Materia Medica vol 1. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1976:861–7.

3. Farnsworth NR, Bunyapraphatsara N (eds). Thai Medicinal Plants. Bangkok: Medicinal Plant Information Center, 1992:180–2.

4. de Vasconcelos Silva MG, Craveiro AA, Abreu Matos FJ, et al. Chemical variation during daytime of constituents of the essential oil of Ocimum gratissimum leaves. Fitoterapia 1999;70:32–4.

5. Viseshakul D, Premvatana P, Chularojmontri V, et al. Improved glucose tolerance induced by long term dietary supplementation with hairy basal seeds (Ocimum canum Sim) in diabetics. J Med Assoc Thai 1985;68:408–11.

6. Agrawal P, Rai V, Singh RB. Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 1996;34:406–9.

7. Rai V, Mani UV, Iyer UM. Effect of Ocimum sanctum leaf powder on blood lipoproteins, glycated protein and total amino acids in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Nutr Environ Med 1997;7:113–8.

8. Kocharatana P, et al. Clinical trial of maeng-lak seeds used as a bulk laxative. Maharaj Nakornratchasima Hosp Med Bull 1985;9:120–36.

9. Muangman V, Siripraiwan S, Ratanaolarn K, et al. A clinical trial of Ocimum canum Sims seeds as a bulk laxative in elderly post-operative patients. Ramathibodi Med J 1985;8:154–8.

10. Farnsworth NR, Bunyapraphatsara N (eds). Thai Medicinal Plants. Bangkok: Medicinal Plant Information Center, 1992:180–2.

11. Farnsworth NR, Bunyapraphatsara N (eds). Thai Medicinal Plants. Bangkok: Medicinal Plant Information Center, 1992:180–2.

12. Valnet J. The Practice of Aromatherapy. New York: Destiny Books, trans. Campbell R, Houston L, 1982:97–8.

13. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997:143–5.

14. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998, 33–4.

Dutch Delft Bottle

A Dutch Delft 19th century silver-topped bottle. Dutch hall mark and Delft backstamp with maker's initials.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Herb garden: For favorite seasonings, look for kitchen doorstep

I love running my hand across the basil as I walk through the vegetable garden. I hesitate, then breathe deeply as its spicy scent fills the air.

I can't resist breaking off a stem of oregano, then crushing the leaves and holding them up to my face so I can enjoy the powerful fragrance.

For me, a garden isn't complete without herbs. Definitely basil. And oregano. And parsley. And don't forget chives, rosemary, thyme and mint.

You get the picture.

There's nothing like having fresh herbs to use all summer long. I can't imagine ribs without oregano, tea without mint, baked potatoes without chives. I dry herbs to have during the cold months. It brings back memories and scents of summer's bounty and gives me a sense of accomplishment, of self-sufficiency.

Luckily, herbs are among the easiest plants to grow. They're seldom bothered by pests or diseases. They're mainly sun-worshippers that get more aromatic and tastier when ignored. They disdain fertilizer and respond well to constant harvesting. Most thrive with little water. Even a tiny herb garden can produce more fresh herbs than a family can use.

Herbs fall into the same classifications as other garden plants: annuals, biennials and perennials.

The annuals grow, flower and produce seed all in one season, then die. Basil is an annual herb.

Biennials take two years to mature. Parsley falls into this category.

Then come the perennials. Most culinary herbs are in this category. Some, like oregano, need to be cut back every fall. They send out new growth in spring. Others, like sage, develop woody stems and can survive from year to year.

Further, herbs are versatile and carefree. You can grow them in the ground, in pots or in hanging baskets. They also make good neighbors in the ornamental garden. I have oregano growing alongside kniphofia and watsonia. I have thyme growing as a ground cover beneath the roses, and one raised bed in the vegetable garden has been given over to spearmint so there's plenty to clip for iced tea in summer and hot tea in winter.

I have a pot of chives on the deck as well as a hanging basket filled with sage, oregano, thyme, parsley and rosemary. They'll likely outgrow their containers by the end of the season, but meanwhile they're close at hand if I need a few sprigs to season a meal.

Why grow herbs when they're so easy to buy — fresh or dried — at the grocery store? If you've ever grown and dried your own basil or parsley flakes, or made pesto with basil picked just minutes before, you'll never want to buy packaged herbs again.

So let's go into the garden and pick a place for herbs. As long as it gets plenty of sun, the best place for an herb garden is near the kitchen or along the pathway to the front door so you walk by it every day. That's the surest way to guarantee the herbs will find their way to the kitchen table or the cooking pot. Too little sun and they'll get leggy and lanky. Herbs and shade just don't mix.

Most herbs aren't picky about soil and actually grow better in less-fertile soils. Harsh conditions can make herbs like oregano and sage even more powerfully fragrant. That said, don't put them in the toughest spot in the garden and walk away. New herb plants need pampering like any other new addition to the garden. Once established, though, the perennial herbs almost take care of themselves.

Water sparingly for best flavor and fragrance, but don't let them wilt. Most aromatic herbs prefer to be a bit on the dry side. Save the fertilizer for ornamentals and vegetables.

Plant what you love, but be bold. Try something new. If you don't like it, you can always take it out. Most gardeners start with the basics: basil, parsley, oregano or marjoram, thyme and sage. You can use them fresh or dried.

If you plant cilantro each spring, you can harvest the leaves, and if you let the plant go to seed, you'll be harvesting coriander seed. Dill can be tricky, but fresh dill leaves and seeds are a fragrant treat.

If you love oregano, why not try Greek oregano?

And mint, while it does need to be contained lest it overrun the entire garden, comes in a world of fragrances besides the usual spearmint or peppermint: chocolate mint, pineapple mint, apple mint.

Snip constantly to keep your herbs producing fresh, fragrant foliage.

Herbs like cilantro won't make it past spring before bolting (going to seed) and dying. Basil will grow all summer, but the first frosts will blacken the leaves and kill the plant. Most perennial herbs can survive mild winters with little trouble. Culinary sage is tough, although purple sage is tender. In containers, the herbs will need regular watering.

Apply a few inches of mulch to insulate the soil, conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

Finally, dress up the herb garden with a few edible flowers like calendulas, borage, violets or nasturtiums.

Whether you pronounce herbs with a hard "h" or leave it off, don't forget to put them in the garden

Here are a few herbs that can be planted now. Some, like basil, will last until the first frost while others, like rosemary and oregano, will live for many years.

(Ocimum basilicum): Summer annual. Grows to 3 feet tall. Full sun. Regular water.
Produces masses of aromatic leaves all summer. Snip off flower stalks as soon as they appear to prevent the plant from going to seed. There are dozens of varieties of basil available: purple basil, lemon basil, licorice basil, Thai basil and more. Basil is easy to grow from seed. Low temperatures and cool soil are enemies of basil seedlings, since the combination leads to damping off, and basil is very susceptible. Plant when the soil is warm, or use heating mats if starting seed indoors.

(Petroselinum crispum): Biennial usually grown as an annual. Grows to 12 inches tall. Full sun. Regular water.
Parsley produces leaves its first year. In its second year, it produces yellow flowers and seed, then dies. It's famous for being finicky to start from seed, so buy starts from the nursery. It comes as curled or flat-leaf varieties. Both have the same fragrance.

(Salvia officinalis): Perennial. Grows to 2 feet tall and as wide. Sun. Limited water.
Sage's wooly gray leaves are gorgeous. And they come in purple, green and gold as well as tricolor (purple, white and green). The plain green one is the typical culinary sage and the hardiest. Sage has no trouble with winter in my garden (elevation 1,250 feet). It sends up spires of blue flowers in summer that are beautiful in arrangements.
Cut it back every spring to encourage new growth. However, sage tends to get quite woody after a few years, much like lavender, and needs to be replaced every three or four years.

(Thymus vulgaris): Perennial, 6 to 10 inches tall; can spread wider. Sun. Limited water.
Thyme is a versatile plant. It can be a ground cover that creeps and crawls along the ground, smothering weeds. It's the perfect herb for soups, stews and poultry. It also looks good among roses. Some gardeners use it as a lawn substitute or let it grow among the grasses in a traditional lawn. It comes in many flavors, including lemon and lime. In fact, there are hundreds of varieties of thyme. It, too, can get woody, but responds well to being sheared to the ground.

(Allium schoenoprasum): Perennial. Grows to 12 to 18 inches. Sun. Regular water.
Chives are related to onions and have a similar flavor and fragrance, but milder. Each spring, they send up stems topped with light-purple flowers. I clip the flowers away and use them in flower arrangements. That way, I prevent the plant from going to seed and spreading itself everywhere. A small plant easily grows into a fat clump about a foot wide. You can divide the clump to make more plants. Keep snipping chives and they will keep growing.

(Rosmarinum officinalis): Perennial. Prostrate types grow to about 2 feet tall. Upright forms can grow to 5 feet. Sun. Limited water.
Rosemary has become part of most ornamental gardens. It looks great spilling over a wall, it is tough and carefree enough to cover large expanses of difficult-to-garden areas, it is covered with cheerful blue flowers most of the year and it has a heavenly scent. Its leathery, slightly sticky leaves are narrow and dark green, slightly reminiscent of Douglas fir needles. Give rosemary as much sun as possible and water sparingly. It can take regular watering but doesn't like wet feet.

(Origanum vulgare, O. heracleoticum): Perennial. Grows to 18-24 inches. Sun. Limited water.
Snip and use fresh throughout the season. To dry, pick just before flowering. I strip the leaves from the stems and put them in a paper bag. Four or fives times each day I shake the bag to redistribute the oregano leaves and keep them from accumulating moisture. When thoroughly dry, store in sealable plastic bags.
I prefer Greek oregano (O. heracleoticum). A warning: The purple-flowering oregano reseeds itself prolifically, so cut flowers before they go to seed if you plant this one.
Marjoram is a type of oregano, although it is milder and not as hardy in winter.

(Mentha): Perennial. Grows to 12-18 inches tall. Part sun. Prefers lots of water.
Mint is a thug. It will take over the garden, so be careful where you plant it. Give it boundaries. There's the typical light green, crinkly-leaf spearmint and the purple-flushed leaves of peppermint, but take a look at the herb section of any nursery, and you'll likely find pineapple mint, apple mint, chocolate mint and more. You have to really use your imagination to discern some of the exotic scents. Pick the leaves any time. If you're going to dry mint, it's best to pick the leaves just before it flowers.

Gold Aurene Steuben Scent Bottle

Rare Gold Aurene Steuben scent bottle--rare shape and extremely scarce. This is a rich gold bottle with beautiful hues of blue, green, platinum and even a touch of scarlet. It is correctly marked "aurene" and "3294" on the base of the bottle adjacent to the finely polished pontil. even has a sizeable portion of the original gold banner STEUBEN LABEL still present. Ht: 8". This bottle came in 2 sizes, this being the larger size. It is in perfect condition except for the end portion of the frosted dauber has been broken off and refinished. Not uncommon, the bottle is still considered in very excellent condition.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Massaging Muscles Facilitates Recovery After Exercise

Researchers testing the long-held theory that therapeutic massage can speed recovery after a sports injury have found early scientific evidence of the healing effects of massage.

The scientists have determined that immediate cyclic compression of muscles after intense exercise reduced swelling and muscle damage in a study using animals.

Though they say it’s too soon to apply the results directly to humans in a clinical environment, the researchers consider the findings a strong start toward scientific confirmation of massage’s benefits to athletes after intense eccentric exercise, when muscles contract and lengthen at the same time.

“There is potential that this continuing research will have huge clinical implications,” said Thomas Best, a professor of family medicine at Ohio State University and senior author of the study. “If we can define the mechanism for recovery, the translation of these findings to the clinic will dictate how much massage is needed, for how long, and when it should be performed after exercise.”

Anecdotal evidence suggests massage offers many health benefits, but actual testing of its effects at the cellular level is more difficult than one might think. In this study with rabbits, the researchers used one mechanical device to mimic movements associated with a specific kind of exercise, and a second device to follow the exercise with a simulated consistent massaging motion on the affected muscles. They compared these animals to other animals that performed the exercise movements but did not receive simulated massage. All animals were sedated during the experiments.

“We tried to mimic Swedish massage because anecdotally, it’s the most popular technique used by athletes,” said Best, who is also co-medical director of the OSU Sports Medicine Center and a team physician for the Department of Athletics. “A review of the research in this area shows that despite the existing anecdotal evidence – we know athletes use massage all the time – researchers don’t know the mechanism of how massage improves recovery after exercise and injury.”

Swedish massage combines long strokes, kneading and friction techniques on muscles and various movements of joints, according to the American Massage Therapy Association.

After the experimental exercise and massage were performed in the study, the researchers compared the muscle tissues of all of the animals, finding that the muscles in animals receiving simulated massage had improved function, less swelling and fewer signs of inflammation than did muscles in the animals that received no massage treatment after exercise.

The research is published in a recent issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The research focused on eccentric exercise, which creates a motion similar to the way in which quadriceps in human thighs are exercised during a downhill run. In the study, the scientists focused on the tibialis anterior muscle, located on the front of the shin in humans. The simulated exercise involved continuous flexing and pointing of the toes to exert the muscle during seven sets of 10 cycles, with two minutes of rest between each set.

“It’s hard to describe exactly how the exercise intensity would be matched in a human, but this was considered a significant amount of exercise that would likely cause muscle soreness and possible damage,” Best said.

Immediately following the exercise, the affected muscle was subjected to 30 minutes of simulated massage, called compressive loading. The researchers used mathematical equations to determine the appropriate amount of force to apply to the animal muscle, which was intended to match the force Swedish massage typically places on a patient’s spine. The device used to simulate the stroking motion for the research was designed by Yi Zhao, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Ohio State and a co-author of the study.

“We know biological tissues are sensitive to the magnitude of frequency, duration and load, so we controlled the force, frequency and time spent on massage,” Best said.

The exercise-massage cycle was repeated for four days, after which the animals’ muscle strength and tissue were examined.

The massaged muscles recovered an estimated 60 percent of the strength after the four-day trial, compared to restoration of about 14 percent of strength in muscles that were exercised and then rested.

Similarly, the massaged muscles had fewer damaged muscle fibers and virtually no sign of white blood cells, the presence of which would indicate that the body was working to repair muscle damage, when compared with the rested muscles. The massaged muscles weighed about 8 percent less than the rested muscles, suggesting that the massage helped prevent swelling, Best said.

“One fundamental question is how much of a role does inflammation play in repair to a muscle? Are we preventing inflammation and therefore improving recovery? We haven’t proven that yet,” Best said.

He is collaborating with a variety of experts across the university to continue this line of research, and hopes to cooperate with Ohio State’s Center for Integrative Medicine on future clinic-based work.

“Our goal is to use this model to understand the biological mechanisms of massage as a guide to preclinical trials to test the effects of massage on muscle recovery after exercise,” he said. “A trial in humans could look at optimal indications for massage.

"Ultimately, we could also find out how massage helps not just exercise-induced muscle injury, but swelling and pain associated with other medical conditions, as well.”

Additional co-authors on the study were Timothy Butterfield, a former postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State now with the University of Kentucky Department of Rehabilitation Sciences; Sudha Agarwal of the Ohio State College of Dentistry’s Section of Oral Biology; and Furqan Haq of Ohio State’s Division of Sports Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Ohio State University Pomerene Chair in Family Medicine, held by Best.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Aromatherapy – More Than Just Good Smell

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative healing that makes use of volatile plant oils, referred to as essential oils, and other aromatic compounds obtained from plants for the overall physical and psychological well-being of a person.

The history of aromatherapy dates back to more than 3500 years before Christ’s birth, to a time when the use of aromatics was recorded for the first ever instance in human history. The truth is that the history of aromatherapy is deeply linked with the progress of aromatic medicine, which in its initial stages was typically combined with religion, mysticism and magic.

In India, around 2000 BC, various writings mention the role of ‘perfumers’ and ‘incense sellers’. The word ‘aromatherapy’ was used for the first time in the 1920s by French chemist Rene-Maurice-Gattefosse, who dedicated his life to researching on the discipline of aromatherapy.

The theory to explain the healing effects of aromatherapy offers two mechanisms- the influence of aroma on the brain, on the limbic system through the olfactory system in particular, and the direct pharmacological effects these essential oils have on the body.

Though the efficacy of aromatherapy as a form of healing has not yet been proven, but some clinical studies have shown encouraging results.

An overview of the materials frequently employed in aromatherapy is given below:

•Essential oils: These are fragrant oils extracted from plants mainly through steam distillation (e.g. eucalyptus oil).

•Absolutes: These are also fragrant oils, but extracted from flowers or delicate plant tissues through solvent extraction (e.g. rose absolute).

•Phytoncides: These are volatile organic compounds obtained from plants that destroy microbes.

•Hydrosols: These are aqueous by-products of distillation (e.g. rosewater). Many herbs are used to make herbal distillates. They have culinary, medicinal as well as skin care uses.

•Infusions: They are aqueous extracts of various plant materials (e.g. infusion of chamomile)

•Carrier oils: These are oily plant based triacylglycerides used to dilute essential oils for use on the skin (e.g. sweet almond oil) so as to avoid irritation.

Like any other form of healing, aromatherapy too has its uses and benefits. It doesn’t just smell good but provides immense relaxation and stress relief. It boosts the immune, respiratory and circulatory systems which help in mood enhancement and overall well being.

Essential oils, which form the heart of aromatherapy, pose some potential concerns as well. Because they are highly concentrated, they can cause skin irritation if used directly. They could also raise some health issues for pregnant and lactating women.

But on the whole, one can say that the positive effects of aromatherapy far outnumber the negative ones. It is an alternative to medicine that entails systematic use of organic essences in holistic treatments for enhancing general vitality and ensuring prevention of disease.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Antique Silver Top Crystal Perfume Scent Bottle

This is a beautiful Victorian silver metal and crystal glass perfume bottle. It is 6" tall, 2 1/2" wide.

The actual bottle is silver metal covered with an ornate raised design of flowers, shells, and decorative foliate elements. The cap is similar and, attached with chain to the cap, is a simple metal top where, uncovered, the wick comes through.

This is a true scent bottle! You open the top for the perfume to slowly permeate the room and simply cover the wick with the metal top if you've had enough scent! The bottom has a hand-etched crystal stem on a crystal pedestal base, covered with a band of ornate silver metal. Gosh, the fine details all over this bottle are amazing! The bottom of this silver band is stamped but I can't read it.

The metal is probably silver plated. I didn't polish it as some people like that old tarnished look.

This bottle and the glass pedestal are in excellent condition. It has no chips or cracks and all hardware is complete! ID=ot1


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