Friday, May 29, 2015

Fragrant Fridays - The Basics of Aromatherapy

I get many questions asking about the basics of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. This week I’d like to start a new series called
Fragrant Fridays™ where I take many of the commonly asked questions and provide answers which are simple and easy to understand by a lay person. There are misconceptions to be debunked and skeptics to be converted. Mostly though I hope to help educate you on the incredible power of essential oils that can be of benefit to humans and animals. 



What exactly is an essential oil?

Essential oils (also called volatile oils) are the most important group of chemical molecules of plants that make smells what they are. Essential comes from the word “essence” because the fragrances are the essence of many plants, contained within the cells of the plant. 

What makes an essential oil different from say almond oil or olive oil?

Almond, olive and flax seed are called fixed oils. They don’t vaporize the way essential or volatile oils do. Volatile refers to the fact that many aromatic compounds of plants quickly dissipate into the air. The volatile oils from the rind, flower, leaf, bark, root or resin of aromatic plants are released via steam distillation, cold expression or solvent extraction.  

What is the difference between an essential oil and a fragrance?

Essential oils are natural products extracted in a number of ways from plants; however, all plants do not contain essential oils. Essential oils extracted from plants contain aromatic properties used as remedies for a number of problems. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy practice to help ease muscle pain, emotional problems, menstrual issues, skin problems, arthritis and more, according to author Julia Lawless in her book "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils.”

Fragrance oils are synthetic products and therefore do not possess the natural healing properties of essential oils. Fragrance oils are essentially a "pleasant" aroma, and many modern perfumes are created using fragrance oils. It is possible to create almost any aroma in a fragrance oil, unlike an essential oil, which is extracted from a plant. 

Do essential oils have to be inhaled to be effective?

Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It really is about using the extracted aromas of plants which contain medicinal and nutritional components that are healing to the body. Many essential oils are most effective being inhaled. Through stimulation of the olfactory nerves, there is a direct connection to the limbic center of the brain which controls emotion, memory and learning.

Scent stimulates nerves to fire in the emotional center of the brain, but it also stimulates the master gland to release hormones. Hormones affect the fight or flight response, as well as digestion and heart rate. In this way, essential oils can affect us in many ways all at once, just through their fragrance.

Many essential oils can also be applied topically. With the use of a carrier the essential oil enters through the circulatory system. The individual components of the essential oil penetrate the skin and the blood vessels, relieving pain and stimulating circulation which can help relieve swelling, boost your immune system, and protect against infectious organisms. Thyme oil for instance contains thymol that fights bacteria and fungus and is often included in commercial soaps and antiseptics. 

What are the precautions when using essential oils?

The essential oils used in aromatherapy are highly concentrated. Most essential oils need to be diluted to avoid problems such as irritation or sensitization. Don’t ingest essential oils unless you are working with a qualified practitioner. Only use 100% pure and natural essential oils. Some companies claim they carry a “therapeutic grade” or “medical grade” of essential oils – this is simply a marketing ploy because there isn’t a regulatory agency that provides a grading scale for essential oils. There are two categories: pure essential oils and synthetic (fragrance, compounded or perfume) oils.

· Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils; Julia Lawless; 1995
· Aromatherapy Workbook; Shirley Price; 2000
· Wikipedia
· Understanding Essential Oils by Christopher Hobbs
· The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness; Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele; 2014

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tick Tricks

It's that time of year again. Dangerous and deadly tick diseases on the rise.    

To keep things simple Earth Heart has created an infographic to help you identify different ticks and some handy tricks for taking care of those nasty ticks so you and your pet can enjoy the great outdoors. 

Did you know?
  • If you can get a tick off immediately it cannot transmit a disease. But you only have from 6 hours to a few days at most, depending on the type of tick, to remove it and not have to worry about it transmitting a disease.See infographic below.
  • Most chemical laden pesticide based or topical flea/tick collars take 2-3 days to kill a tick that is already attached, rendering collars ineffective in preventing an infected tick from infecting your dog with dangerous tick diseases.  
Preventing ticks is the best program but if you have ticks get them off as soon as possible. Be sure to check your pets as often as possible particularly after they have been out in a place that is known for ticks.

There is only one way to safely keep ticks off your dog - by making your dog less attractive to them.
  • Treat your yard or lawn. Diatomaceous Earth (food grade only) is a wonderful, healthy and safe powder product that you can sprinkle in your yard to effectively kill ticks.
  • Concentrated Garlic Spray can be sprayed around your yard, effectively repelling ticks.
  • Ticks are attracted to a host by body heat, odor from the skin and carbon dioxide that people and dogs exhale. Using an essential oil based spray on your dog with neem seed oil as the main ingredient can make your dog unattractive by altering its scent.
  • Check your dog immediately after being outside, time is critical.
  • If you don’t immediately find a tick, check again after 1.5 hours, before several tick diseases can be transmitted.
  • If you find a tick, safely remove it by using round-tip tweezers. Grasp the tick firmly at the base of the head. Then gently and steadily pull on the tick. Be careful not to break the mouth parts of the tick off and leave them inside your dog because infection is likely.

Earth Heart strives to help you and your dogs live healthier, happier lives. We hope this information helps you understand and prepare for the second tick invasion during late summer and autumn. 

Sources: PetMD, WebMD,

Download Tick Tricks Infographic HERE

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Debilitating Mosquito Disease Hits U.S.

The Deadliest Animal on Earth Brings Chikungunya to the U.S.
We all have heard that Mosquitoes spread many diseases in humans and animals. In fact, Bill Gates in his blog last year created Mosquito Week to bring attention to the fact Mosquitoes kill more people than any other animal on the planet.
  • According to the WHO over 700 million people will get a mosquito borne disease and a million people will die each year from mosquitoes
  • In 2014 the debilitating disease Chikungunya was found in Florida and the CDC is now bracing for its spread. If you haven’t heard of Chikungunya you need to read this. It is another debilitating disease spread by mosquitoes that is just making its way to the United States.

  • Mosquitoes transmit diseases and parasites that dogs, cats and horses are extremely susceptible to. Heartworm, West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are all prevalent in the United States now.

Heartworm disease, transmitted by mosquitoes, is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.

We all know it...we need to protect ourselves and our pets from mosquitoes. We also know that most bug repellants are full of chemicals which can do more harm than good.

DEET, a common chemical ingredient in bug spray, should not be used on dogs and cats. It can definitely be toxic if ingested which can happen when pets lick their skin or coats.

DEET is designed for direct application to people’s skin to repel insects. Rather than killing them, DEET seems to work by making it hard for these biting bugs to smell us. Check out this research study to learn more.

While DEET is considered safe by the CDC it MUST be used according to directions. Here are some precautions from the EPA and CDC:
  • Don't use any product that has DEET and sunscreen mixed together. Unlike DEET, sunscreen requires frequent reapplication. DEET doesn't wear off as quickly as sunscreen, so you could end up with unsafe amounts of DEET on your skin.
  • Apply DEET only to exposed skin and/or clothing. Don't put DEET on skin that will be covered by clothing -- this will cause your skin to absorb the DEET.
  • Don't use DEET on any open wounds or rashes.
  • Keep DEET out of your eyes, mouth and ears.
  • Don't spray it directly on your face.
  • Avoid inhaling it.
  • Don't apply DEET near food or use it in enclosed areas.
  • Apply DEET in a thin layer -- just enough to cover your exposed skin. Avoid heavy application or oversaturation.
  • Once you return indoors, make sure you wash off the DEET with soap and water. It's especially important to do this if you plan to reapply the DEET later or the next day.
So what are the natural options?

In two recent CDC publications, when oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the US, it provided protection similar to repellents containing DEET, (N,N-diethyl meta-toluamide)

Neem seed oil has been gaining popularity as a natural insect repellent for use on the body and in the garden.The oil is pressed from the fruits and seeds of Azadirachta indica, an evergreen tree native to India, where it has been traditionally used in remedies for a wide variety of skin problems. Neem at just one or two percent of the total product is also an effective insect repellent.

Our own Buzz Guard contains neem seed oil as well as pure essential oil of citronella. Our proprietary formula has a wonderful scent combining essential oils of fir, rose geranium, basil, rosewood and myrrh. It has been field tested with great success. Nancy Hassel, founder of Long Island Pet Professionals, includes Buzz Guard as a must-have pet product for spring because "it is safe and all natural so you can feel confident about using it." Read more reviews here.