Thursday, February 24, 2011


Pink is the color,
Pink is the feel,
Pink is today,
Pink it is real,
Pink is the rose,
Organic at that,
Pink is the lady,
Who dares wear that hat!

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Pink Damascena Rose Hydrosol
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET

News release from the American Chemical Society: Catnip Essential Oil Proven Better
Than Deet At Repelling Mosquitoes

"Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET"

CHICAGO, August 27, 2001 — Researchers report that nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET — the compound used in most commercial insect repellents.

The finding was reported today at the 222nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, by the same Iowa State University research group that two years ago discovered that catnip also repels cockroaches.

Entomologist Chris Peterson, Ph.D., with Joel Coats, Ph.D., chair of the university’s entomology department, led the effort to test catnip’s ability to repel mosquitoes. Peterson, a former post-doctoral research associate at the school, is now with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Wood Products Insects Research Unit, in Starkville, Miss.

While they used so-called yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) — one of several species of mosquitoes found in the United States — Peterson says catnip should work against all types of mosquitoes.

Aedes aegypti, which can carry the yellow fever virus from one host to another, is found in most parts of the United States. Yellow fever itself, however, only occurs in Africa and South America, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Vaccines and mosquito control programs have essentially wiped out the disease in the United States, although there have been isolated reports of unvaccinated travelers returning with the disease. The last reported outbreak in this country was in 1905.

Peterson put groups of 20 mosquitoes in a two-foot glass tube, half of which was treated with nepetalactone. After 10 minutes, only an average of 20 percent — about four mosquitoes — remained on the side of the tube treated with a high dose (1.0 percent) of the oil. In the low-dose test (0.1 percent) with nepetalactone, an average of 25 percent — five mosquitoes — stayed on the treated side. The same tests with DEET (diethyl-m-toluamide) resulted in approximately 40 percent to 45 percent — eight-nine mosquitoes — remaining on the treated side.

In the laboratory, repellency is measured on a scale ranging from +100 percent, considered highly repellent, to –100 percent, considered a strong attractant. A compound with a +100 percent repellency rating would repel all mosquitoes, while –100 percent would attract them all.
A rating of zero means half of the insects would stay on the treated side and half on the untreated side. In Peterson’s tests, catnip ranged from +49 percent to +59 percent at high doses, and +39 percent to +53 percent at low doses. By comparison, at the same doses, DEET’s repellency was only about +10 percent in this bioassay, he notes.

Peterson says nepetalactone is about 10 times more effective than DEET because it takes about one-tenth as much nepetalactone as DEET to have the same effect.

Most commercial insect repellents contain about 5 percent to 25 percent DEET. Presumably, much less catnip oil would be needed in a formulation to have the same level of repellency as a DEET-based repellent.

Why catnip repels mosquitoes is still a mystery, says Peterson. “It might simply be acting as an irritant or they don’t like the smell. But nobody really knows why insect repellents work.”

No animal or human tests are yet scheduled for nepetalactone, although Peterson is hopeful that will take place in the future.

If subsequent testing shows nepetalactone is safe for people, Peterson thinks it would not be too difficult to commercialize it as an insect repellent. Extracting nepetalactone oil from catnip is fairly easily, he says. “Any high school science lab would have the equipment to distill this, and on the industrial scale it’s quite easy.”

Catnip is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family and grows wild in most parts of the United States, although it also is cultivated for commercial use. Catnip is native to Europe and was introduced to this country in the late 18th century. It is primarily known for the stimulating effect it has on cats, although some people use the leaves in tea, as a meat tenderizer and even as a folk treatment for fevers, colds, cramps and migraines.

A patent application for the use of catnip compounds as insect repellents was submitted last year by the Iowa State University Research Foundation. Funding for the research was from the Iowa Agriculture Experiment Station.

Chris Peterson, Ph.D., is a former post-doctoral research associate at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and is now a Research Entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Wood Products Insect Research Service, in Starkville, Miss.

Joel R. Coats, Ph.D., is professor of entomology and toxicology and Chair of the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by The American Chemical Society for journalists and other members of the public. If you wish to quote from any part of this story, please credit The American Chemical Society as the original source.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Candles with Essential Oils Kill Bacteria

New study from the University of South Hampton: Candles with Essential Oils Kill Bacteria

Researchers Dr Lindsey Gaunt and Sabrina Higgins from the University of Southampton have found that adding essential oils, such as eucalyptus, orange, litsea and thyme to candles can destroy bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (staph) on surfaces. The findings that adding essential oils to candles could be as effective as scrubbing with disinfectants were unveiled at the sixth joint symposium of the International Electrostatics Society of Japan and the Electrostatics Society of America conference in Tokyo (Nov 7-10, 2004).

The scientists used essential oils of orange, palmarosa, may chang, thyme, and an element of tea tree oil called beta-pinene, which when dispersed into the air and combined with the ions produced in the candle flame, all have a powerful bactericidal effect.

This unique combination of essential oils and electrical ions has demonstrated a remarkably powerful bactericidal action, with up to nearly 100 per cent bacteria kill.

For comparison, the researchers also tested plain wax candles without essential oils and evaporated essential oils in water on a hot plate. In contrast with the essential oil containing candles, the plain wax candle had no effect on bacteria, and vapor created by the essential oil alone also had little to no impact on the surface bacteria.

The candle flame and essential oil components appear to work together for a sterilizing effect, say the researchers. The researchers believe that the oils react with ions in the wick and with oxygen to take on anti-bacterial properties.

They said adding these essential oils to candles could help people to easily and conveniently kill bacteria lurking in their homes.

The researchers are planning further studies to see if essential oil laden candles are effective against the super bug MRSA among other strains of bacteria.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the University of South Hampton for journalists and other members of the public. If you wish to see the news releases see The University of South Hampton as the original source.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Essential Oils could help stop the spread of the deadly MRSA bacteria

Many moons ago I had this valuable information on my web site, but it has since been streamlined, and now I am archiving it here on the blog ..

Research findings from The University of Manchester:Essential Oils could help stop the spread of the deadly MRSA bacteria

21 Dec, 2004 - According to research carried out at The University of Manchester, essential oils have been found to kill the deadly MRSA bacteria.

Researchers tested 40 essential oils against ten of the most deadly bacteria and fungi. Three essential oils (which have not been disclosed) used in the tests killed MRSA and E. coli as well as many other bacteria and fungi within just two minutes of contact. Two of these oils killed MRSA and E. coli almost instantly, while a third was shown to act over a longer period of time, meaning that any soaps or shampoos made with a blend of these three oils would be effective over a period of time.

As aromatherapists and natural toiletry makers well know, the oils can easily be blended and made into items such as soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc ... which could be used by hospital staff, doctors and patients alike in an effort to eradicate the spread of these deadly `super bugs', which are becoming increasingly resistant to conventional means.

Jacqui Stringer who is Clinical Lead of Complementary Therapies at the Christie Hospital instigated the research. Jacqui works with leukemia patients at the Christie Hospital using essential oils to help in their treatment. Patients receiving treatment for cancer and leukemia are often left with weakened immune systems which makes them vulnerable to infection from MRSA. 'The reason essential oils are so effective is because they are made up of a complex mixture of chemical compounds which the MRSA and other super bug bacteria finds difficult to resist. The problem with current treatments is that they are made of single compounds which MRSA relatively quickly becomes resistant to, so treatment is only successful in around 50% of cases.'

'While a wide range of products currently exist to help prevent the spread of MRSA these are often unpleasant for patients as their application can cause skin irritation. MRSA is often carried inside the nose which means that patients often have to insert treatments up their nostrils, whereas these essential oils can simply be inhaled to prevent the patient being at risk,' added Jacqui.

Researchers are now desperately looking for funding to develop their work and carry out a clinical trial. Peter Warn from the University's Faculty of Medicine who worked on the research said: 'We believe that our discovery could revolutionise the fight to combat MRSA and other `super bugs', but we need to carry out a trial and to do that we need a small amount of funding ' around £30,000.

'We are having problems finding this funding because essential oils cannot be patented as they are naturally occurring, so few drug companies are interested in our work as they do not see it as commercially viable. Obviously, we find this very frustrating as we believe our findings could help to stamp out MRSA and save lives,' added Peter, who is based at Hope Hospital.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by The University of Manchester for journalists and other members of the public. If you wish to see the news releases see The University of Manchester as the original source.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cooking with Romantic Roses, A Valentine Treat

I found this archived article written by me quite some time ago for Aromatic Sage Magazine. Happy Valentine's Day!


In the Kitchen with Chris Ziegler
Cooking with Romantic Roses, A Valentine Treat

Welcome to AFS and the monthly column dedicated to the enjoyment of oils and aromatherapy in the kitchen.

Being that Valentine's Day is right around the corner it seems only appropriate to start of the first issue with the Romantic Rose.

The Rose has always been a flower associated with love. The intoxicating scent of roses (and rose oil) has worked its magic on men and women for thousands of years and still continues to do so today.

Roses were so popular during Roman times, that Horace wrote he was concerned that the farmers would dedicate too much time to their rose cultivation and neglect their olive groves.

The Romans used the petals in cooking, especially desserts such as puddings and sherbets. They even used roses to flavor wines.

The cultures influenced by the Romans also took up art of cooking with roses. To this day, tasty rose flavored treats abound in countries such as Turkey, and the ingredient "rosewater" is an essential part of some Middle Eastern dishes.

According to lore, a small number of wandering tribes of mystics in India were said to sustain themselves solely on roses, refusing all other foods except the "Queen of Flowers".

Roses from the garden can be used to create lovely dishes such as rose petal jam and jelly, rose petal omelets, candied rose petals, and more.

If you grow the old fashioned varieties you get an additional treat of rose hips at the end of the season to make goodies such as rose hip jelly and rose hip syrup.

When cooking with rose petals, NEVER use commercial roses that have been sprayed with pesticides.

When using rosewater for cooking be sure you are getting genuine, un- adulterated rose hydrosol from the stills, not rose-flavored distilled water.

Lastly, when cooking with rose oil be sure to use only unadulterated Rose Otto oil, which is hydro-steam distilled, do NOT use Rose Absolute, which is solvent extracted.

Turkish Princess Rose Cake
Pre-heat oven to 375°F.

Into a mixing bowl, combine:
1½ cups cake flour,
2 tsp. baking powder,
2 Tbsp. finely ground almonds
½ cup Rose Otto Sugar (recipe follows)
2 Tbs. Rose Syrup (recipe follows)
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp. milk,
5 Tbs. Unsalted butter,
1 egg,
1½ tsp. vanilla extract,
Pinch of salt.
Another 2 Tbsp. Rose Syrup

Blend all ingredients, except additional 2 Tbsp rose syrup. Mix about 4 minutes at medium speed with electric mixer. Turn into 2 - 8" lightly buttered and floured round cake pans. Bake in oven (375°F) until a toothpick, when inserted into the center of the cake, comes out clean - about 25 - 30 minutes. Let cool ten minutes before removing from the pan.

Remove from pans, place cakes on a rack, and let completely cool. Spread 2 Tbsp. Rose Syrup on top of the bottom cake layer. Then frost with Rose-Almond Frosting (recipe follows).
Place top cake layer atop frosted lower layer.
Complete frosting top and sides of the cake.
Garnish with fresh and candied rose petals (optional).

Rose-Almond Frosting

8 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Rose Syrup
1 Tbsp. finely ground almonds
4½ cups (1 box) powdered sugar
Rose hydrosol (have a few tablespoons handy)

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and vanilla extract, until the butter is softened. Add 2 Tbsp. Rose Syrup and continue to beat until mixture is fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar, blending on a slow speed at first to combine ingredients. Add Rose hydrosol, a tablespoon at a time, until frosting reaches proper consistency.

Rose Otto Sugar

1-2 cups sugar
2 drops of Rose Otto
Blend well in a food processor.
Rose Syrup (Easy)

4 heaping Tbsp. Rose Petal Jam
2 Tbsp. Water
Combine jam and water in a small pan. Warm slightly over low heat while stirring.
Asure (Turkish Wheat Pudding)
This is one of the oldest and most traditional deserts in Turkish cuisine. Legend says "When the Flood finally subsided and Noah's Arc
settled on Mount Ararat in Agri, those on the vessel wanted to hold a celebration as an expression of the gratitude they felt towards God, but alas, the food storages of the ship were practically empty.

So they made a soup with all the remaining ingredients they could find and thus ended up with 'Asure'.

Following that legend, today Asure is prepared by cooking together at least fifteen ingredients which vary slightly by region.

For example, in the Çorum region, known as "Pekmezli Hedik" molasses is used and replaces sugar. In Gaziantep anise is added to that version.

Servings: 10 Ingredients:

Dövme (dehusked wheat for Asure) 1 cup (180 grams ) Chickpeas 1/3 cup (60 grams)
Dry white beans 1/3 cup (60 grams)
Rice 2 tablespoons (15 grams)
Water 12 ½ cups (2.5 kg)
Dried apricots 10 (60 grams)
Dried figs 5 (125 grams)
Raisins (seedless) ½ cup (50 grams)
Orange 1 small size 1(20 grams)
Sugar 1 2/3 cups (300 grams)
Rose water 2-4Tbsp (20-40 grams)
Walnuts (not crushed) 2/3 cup (65 grams)
Pomegranate ½ small size (50 grams)

Preparation :
Rinse the wheat, chickpeas and dried beans.
Soak beans and chickpeas, separately, each in 1 cup of water, overnight.

Soak the Dövme and rice together in 2 cups of water, overnight.

Add 3 cups of water to the Dövme and 2 cups of water each to chick peas and beans and place them individually on the burner.

Cook the Dövme until the grains are dissolved and the starch comes out. If necessary boil the
chickpeas in a pressure cooker. Rinse dried fruit and soak them for 2 hours in 1 ½ cups of water.

Mix the cooked ingredients and the dry fruit in a pan and cook for 15 minutes. Peel the orange and cut the rind, including the white inner part into 3-4 cm long and 1 cm wide strips. Divide the orange slices into 4-5 pieces. Add them to the mixture altogether and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes and turn off the heat.

Add the rosewater and stir. Pour into dessert cups. Garnish with walnuts and pomegranate seeds.
For more information of the history and production of rose oil and rose hydrosol, visit
"Rosa Damascena - Anatolian Rose Production" by Butch Owen rosadamascena1.html

Step by step instructions on how to make rose petal jam

Chris has been both cooking and working with Essential Oils now for over 14 yrs. She has completed Certificate Training courses in Herbology and Clinical Aromatherapy. She is the owner of A Little Ol'Factory , a small company based in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she makes soap and other all natural toiletries.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oregano Oil may protect against drug resistant bacteria

The below press release is certainly not new news, but it is also not widely known information, so I'm spreading the word about that wonderful big bad bug fighter .. carvacrol type oregano essential oil. One of my personal EO staples!

Georgetown University Medical Center: Oregano Oil may protect against drug resistant bacteria

October 6, 2001 Press Release: Washington, D.C. — Oil from the common herb oregano may be an effective treatment against dangerous, and sometimes drug resistant bacteria, a Georgetown researcher has found. Two studies have shown that oregano oil — and, in particular, carvacrol, one of oregano's chemical components — appear to reduce infection as effectively as traditional antibiotics. These findings will be presented at the American College of Nutrition's annual meeting October 6 and 7 in Orlando, Fla.

Harry G. Preuss, MD, MACN, CNS, professor of physiology and biophysics, and his research team, tested oregano oil on staphylococcus bacteria— which is responsible for a variety of severe infections and is becoming increasingly resistant to many antibiotics. They combined oregano oil with the bacteria in a test tube, and compared oregano oil's effects to those of standard antibiotics streptomycin, penicillin and vacnomycin. The oregano oil at relatively low doses was found to inhibit the growth of staphylococcus bacteria in the test tubes as effectively as the standard antibiotics did.

Another aspect of the study examined the efficacy of oregano oil and carvacrol, which is believed to be the major antibacterial component of oregano, in 18 mice infected with the staph bacteria.

Six of the mice received oregano oil for 30 days, and 50% of this group survived the 30-day treatment. Six received the carvacrol in olive oil, not oregano oil, and none survived longer than 21 days. Six mice received olive oil alone with no active agents (the control group) and all died within three days. A repeat study corroborated these findings, which demonstrates that there are components of oregano oil other than carvacrol that have antibiotic properties.

"While this investigation was performed only in test tubes and on a small number of mice, the preliminary results are promising and warrant further study," Preuss said. "The ability of oils from various spices to kill infectious organisms has been recognized since antiquity. Natural oils may turn out to be valuable adjuvants or even replacements for many anti-germicidals under a variety of conditions."

Georgetown University Medical Center includes the nationally ranked School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Health Studies, and a biomedical research enterprise. For more information, please visit

4000 Reservoir Road NW Building D Suite 120 Washington DC 20007 202 687-5100 telephone 202 687-5213 facsimile

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sultana's Champagne Bath

Designed for the romantic, with one of Cleopatra's favorite things, genuine precious Turkish Rose Otto. Lush kisses of the precious pink blossoms perfume our Sultana's Champagne Bath. Add an actual glass of champagne to the experience; how decadent.

Each 2 oz packet is only $5.00
Cupid's Valentine Special:
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Incense is in Order

I've been going through the "pantry" and incense is totally on today's agenda!

Lets see what we've got here .. lovage root, patchouli leaves, ambrette seeds, sandalwood shreds, cinnamon chips, various resins, a buncha aromatic berries, star anise, tabu, and so much more .. fun fun!!! :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Ah dear alkanet root, the plant kingdom's version of litmus paper; how I so enjoy creating colors with you .. :)

Unveiling today - Lavandula Soap - Fair Trade Shea Butter rich, Lavender & Lavandin scented, & made colorful with Alkanet Root and Calendula Petals.

Click Here to Order!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Moroccan Harira

Here's to a warm full belly on a cold night and being grateful for it!

I found in the pantry some beef and lamb stock that I canned, along with some canned tomatoes and dried beans (lentils and chickpeas mostly) that have been around quite long enough .. and I also have a bit of leftover roast beast from a previous recent evening - SO I've decided that I'm going to make Moroccan Harira.

I chop a couple small onions, several stalks of celery, saute them in some oil and butter, add about 1 lb of beans that have been soaked overnight, add a can of crushed tomatoes, add 2 quarts stock, meat, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, simmer gently while covered for about 2 - 3 hours. Chill, eat tomorrow reheated as soup is ALWAYS better 1 or 2 days later! Be sure to add chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you're not into cilantro) and serve it with cous cous added :)