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  • Saturday, November 26, 2022 6:49 AM | Kathleen Jaggassar (Administrator)

    Hello everyone,

    In my President's message this month, I mentioned a diffuser blend I enjoyed.

    I have included the recipe below for you.

    • Bitter Orange (5 drops)
    • Rose (1 drop)
    • Jasmine (1 drop)
    • Neroli (1 drop)
    • Sandalwood (4 drops)

    This blend has a calming effect. However, it is also high in monoterpenes, at 44%, so it might also help with congestion (LabAroma, 2022); it is always helpful to have a decongestant around this time of year! Remember that monoterpenes oxidize easily and may irritate mucous membranes and the skin. So take care. You can view additional safety information here.

    Physically, the blend ranks high for the reproductive system and skin (LabAroma, 2022). Although I intend not to aid either of the systems, I will not turn down the help! 

    I used LabAroma to help formulate this blend and review its chemical properties. If you haven't used LabAroma, I highly recommend it. They also give CAOA members a discount. 

    I hope you enjoy this blend as much as I did. 


    LabAroma. (2022, November, 22). Presidents Message November 2022

  • Saturday, October 15, 2022 10:35 PM | Shannon Bachorick (Administrator)

    By Lucas Anderson, RA®, EOT® 

    You get home from a long, tiring day. Maybe you’ve been doing some physical work and are feeling sore. What do you do? You decide to pour yourself a nice hot bath, with some bath salts, and think, “I’ll add some essential oils and make it an aromatic bath!” But here’s a dilemma for any person, and aromatherapist. How can we enjoy an aromatic bath without causing any topical reactions? Well, there are some options. What I have found in talking with people, therapists included, is that most still don’t really do it appropriately. 

    So how can you mix the oil with the bath water without it floating on top, ready to burn your skin or cause a dermal reaction? We know oil and water don’t mix on their own. They require emulsification to mix. But what do you use? Some people will mix essential oils with Epsom salt before adding them to the bath water. However, this does not emulsify the oils in the water, and you still end up with a layer floating on top of the water. Some add them to witch hazel, milk or aloe gel, none of which truly emulsify the oils with water. In most cases you still end up with essential oils floating on top of the water. You can’t even see this layer because it's very thin and spread out.

    On top of all the mixing issues, there is the added frustration of longevity of aroma. Every time I’ve added essential oils to a bath, I get to smell them for all of five minutes and then the rest of the bath is, well, bathwater. 

    So, to address both issues, there are a few solutions. The one I believe is the best solution, I will share last. 

    First off, emulsification. To truly suspend an essential oil, you need an actual emulsifier. Aloe gel, milk and witch hazel are not actual emulsifiers. Even 95% grain alcohol doesn’t emulsify essential oils in water. It does somewhat, but not completely and properly. It's more of a solvent of essential oils, not an emulsifier. What I have found in the past year is that polysorbate 20 is an amazing emulsifier that works well for essential oils, and doesn’t require a lot, approximately equal parts polysorbate and essential oils. This will allow the oils to become suspended in the water and not be concentrated in one area. Another emulsifier is common soap! It makes the essential oil molecules water soluble, allowing them to become suspended in the water and not concentrated on top of the water. If you use an unscented soap, you shouldn’t have conflicting aromas.

    Both these solutions only address the topical aspect of essential oils, but still have one problem in common. That is the fact that essential oils are volatile compounds and, even at room temperature, dissipate into the air. Add them to hot water and they’ll dissipate even faster! The one problem that I’ve always had with aromatic baths, apart from occasional dermal reactions, is that the aroma portion only lasts about five minutes and then I can only smell bath water. And when you enjoy your bath for 20 to 30 minutes, that’s rather disappointing, to say the least. 

    Here is my solution that I have come to over the years. I pour my bath, I add the plain Epsom salts, get that all mixed up nicely. Then, I will put my essential oils onto a facial tissue, which I place on the edge of the tub, next to my head. This way I don’t worry about possible skin reactions to any oils I decide to use, and as the oils stay at room temperature, they dissipate much slower than at the temperature of the warm bath water. I can enjoy the aromatic bath for the full 30 minutes and not be burned by a dermal reaction, or disappointed by the short occurrence of the aromatic portion of the bath!

    I hope you find this blog post useful in your aromatic bathing routine.


    About the author: Lucas Anderson, RA®, EOT®, with seven years' experience as an aromatherapist, has been focussing on men's health and helping men achieve freedom. He has a passion for health as close to nature as possible and currently works with more than 130 essential oils. Located in Edmonton, Lucas is past president of the CFA and is currently serving on the CAOA board of directors. You can learn more about Lucas at

    Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

  • Saturday, September 24, 2022 9:18 AM | Shannon Bachorick (Administrator)

    By Margo Fletcher, RA®, EOT®, and Anita Kalnay, RA®, EOT®

    Margo's review:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this recording of Dr. Ablard’s webinar, as she begins by sharing the concept of sustainability and how its true meaning is defined in the intentions of the first peoples to safeguard the future of their people for at least seven generations, and she shines a light on how our lack of sustainability is impacting the world right now as we experience global warming and climate change.

    Dr. Ablard is intent on having us see where our own responsibilities lie within this concept of sustainability, and she highlights the steps we can take toward the thoughtful and ethical use of the essential oils we are using. We as aromatherapists need to not only be aware and informed of the essential oil bearing plants that we are using, but also of the impacts of sustainably harvesting of these plants, and the importance of holding the people we buy our products from accountable for the part they play in bringing them to us.

    She outlines guidelines to demonstrate sustainable practices, which are revealing and concise for someone new to this important idea and she breaks them down into five easy-to-understand sections of environmental, social, cultural, economic, and distribution and labeling. 

    Then she covers the topic of biodiversity, a term used to describe the enormous variety of life on earth, and explains how one species, our species is impacting the world. 

    She shares with us that although we are in a biodiversity crisis there is still hope. There are organizations such as the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that are working to identify the different species that need help and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is an international agreement to which governments voluntarily adhere and which seeks to ensure that the trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

    These organizations identify and protect biodiversity on a global level, and Dr. Ablard has founded her own organization, the Airmid Institute, which provides education for us on the importance of sustainability and ethical harvesting and use of essential oil bearing plants. She has kindly provided us with her biannual list of Threatened, Near Threatened, and CITES-Protected Plants, Mammals, Fungi, and Seaweed Species Used in Aromatherapy, Perfumery, and Aromatic Herbalism.

    We can become informed about a specific plant’s conservation status by using the above list and by connecting with the IUCN and CITES organizations to see if we are using any of these threatened species in our own aromatherapy practices and thus change how we purchase and utilize these plants as well as inform others within our circles on the importance of sustainability and what this means for us all.

    As a side note, I have tried numerous times for information on the essential oils that I was purchasing from my suppliers and what I received was a batch number of authenticity, not the chemical break down that I was looking for, so I will be reaching out to Dr. Albard for her guidance on how to phrase my request for the necessary information I am seeking.

    I found the webinar informative as well as empowering and I am grateful to Dr. Ablard for her groundbreaking work and the CAOA for showcasing her presentation.


     Anita's review:

    The CAOA recently hosted an online seminar with Dr. Kelly Ablard. Many of you might recognize her name as a faculty member at Essence of Thyme. 

    She is also the founder of Airmid Institute. The name Airmid refers to the Irish goddess Airmid, whose healing tears (in the story her father killed her brother) gave life to all the healing herbs in the world, which she then collected and wore. 

    Kelly’s mission became one of giving back life to dying plant species, and to celebrate and share the many traditional secrets of plant medicine kept by Indigenous healers worldwide. 

    Her knowledge is key to assisting us all as aromatherapists, who use distilled plants in our practices, to meet our needs and those of our clients, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

    Kelly and her team, which comprises directors, global ambassadors, members and interns from all over the world, work together as a well-connected group to help preserve plant species and their use. As I looked through their website, these folks are passionate, well-educated individuals who truly care about sustainability. 

    Kelly outlined five areas of sustainability in her introductory workshop. The CAOA board has decided that our spring event will also be on this topic as it was extremely well received! 

    The five areas of sustainability include: 

    1. Environmental sustainability: The management of a physical environment including biodiversity and the preservation of natural resources. Balances the need of communities to benefit future generations. Including water and waste management and plant species preservation. 
    2. Social sustainability: Social engagement, community investment and education, including safe, ethical working conditions and gender equality.
    3. Cultural sustainability: Respect for and preservation of customs, beliefs, living systems and lifestyles, including working closely with indigenous communities and their knowledge of natural medicines. 
    4. Economic sustainability: Encouraging practices that support long term economic growth without sacrificing local cultural customs, including decent salaries for growers and distillers. 
    5. Distribution and labelling sustainability: Truth in advertising, minimal packaging and avoiding plastic materials. 

    Ethically: “We don’t have a right to drive other species to extinction.” 

    2010 was the year that the sixth extinction was revealed. Earth has undergone five extinctions in human history, and the sixth was revealed in 2010. Rapid climate change is the biggest challenge. 

    Plants, humans and animals cannot adapt fast enough to accommodate the changes and the result is habitat loss. The main driver of climate change is carbon dioxide and plants are the “carbon fixers” of our Earth!

    As humans dealing with this, Kelly suggests that “we are so misguided, we don’t even know where to start.” Education and awareness being two of the biggest issues. 

    As aromatherapists who use the tools of nature, we ask ourselves “where do WE start”, and what does that mean for our industry and the essential oils that we use as the tools of our profession? 

    I was surprised to learn that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was already UICN at the helm, and that they had already developed a five-level criteria as part of their focus on building nature-positive economies and societies.

    Five-level criteria to evaluate endangered species:

    A. Population reduction of species 
    B. Restricted geographic range
    C. Small population size and decline
    D. Very small or restricted population 
    E. Extinction: probability analysis 

    Examples included: 

    Agarwood: Critically endangered, fewer than 250 species in the wild, expected to decline in one generation or three years by 25% 

    Vanilla: Globally endangered, fewer than 2,500 species, five years or two generations expected to decline 

    Sandalwood: Facing extinction but being reseeded in project areas such as Australia 

    Elemi: Near threatened;there is excessive mutilation of the tree in order to strip bark and resin 

    Lavender, eucalyptus and virginia cedarwood: Species of least concern 

    The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of a the species. 

    CITES lists all the species protected by international trade. It also has a regularly updated database and dashboard of species at risk. 

    Kelly offers key information and education on threatened species and ethical sourcing as well as tips to empower all of us as consumers and users of essential oils. Airmid Institute also has a list of threatened plants that is updated annually. You can request this list at

    As an aromatherapist, this was fascinating to find out and inspiring to know that essential to the future of our industry itself is the work that these groups do on our behalf at a global level. 

  • Saturday, September 17, 2022 8:51 PM | Shannon Bachorick (Administrator)

    By Anita Kalnay, RA, EOT

    Meet Steven Williams, the Sweetgrass Guy

    “2022 was the wettest June EVER, seven inches of rain! At least here in St. Albert, Alberta! 

    “Sweetgrass loves the moisture but I couldn’t get access to the field,” says Steven Williams as we begin our conversation about sweetgrass.

    “July came around and things dried up.” 

    Steven is “the sweetgrass guy” and the only commercial distiller of sweetgrass hydrosol that he is aware of. So the fact that you as a CAOA member get to meet and read about him is a treasure in itself!

    “Sweetgrass is distilled from the Hierochloe odorata species, also known as ‘holy grass.’ It is unique in that it does not produce an essential oil, only an aromatic water known as a hydrosol. There is no such thing as sweetgrass essential oil as the plant does not contain any oil.

    "I start a new patch every year. The plot itself is an area about the size of a large city lot. The harvest is best on the second year cut for distillation.”

    “Sweetgrass is not conducive to growing in large plots. It has to be grown in smaller plots. It spreads by underground runners. So you put a row out and in a year it’s two to three paces wide. But as it spreads it becomes weaker in the centre, like a donut, and it can get weedy. The plots are small and new ones need to be planted every year. I’m picky about weeds, so by year three I till the plot under and start a new patch. From one patch that begins as a row 10 metres long, I can get one or two truckloads by year two, so it yields well.”

    How do you cut it? 

    “I use a weed whacker with a hedge trimmer blade. I take long swipes and it lays it all down. 

    “It demands personal attention. It wouldn’t be economically feasible to mechanize the plant harvest, so there is a lot of hand labour involved,” he chuckles. 

    How did you get into sweetgrass distillation?

    “I used to work at the University of Alberta at the botany greenhouses. One year, a grad student gave me a handful of sweetgrass seed. An aromatherapist suggested I try to distill the grass. My question was ‘then what’? What do you do with the hydrosol after distilling it? Who would be interested in buying it? 

    “Her answer was rather straight forward ‘I’m not sure who you will sell it to, but you’ll figure that out.’

    “Persistence pays. I did my first batch in 2003. It took four to five years before I felt like it would be worth doing. It takes a few years to even determine whether it is worth even pursuing as a crop focus. Not just will it grow, but what do I do with it after I grow it. I spent a lot of time sending e-mails and samples out before it got going. 

    “By 2006 to 2008, after a few years of growing and distilling, I felt like the idea was going to work. There were people interested in purchasing sweetgrass hydrosol.”

    Steven retired from the U of A in 2018.

    “I used to grow medicinal herbs, such as wild mint, monarda, rhodiola and  echinacea. Anybody can grow a plant,  that’s not the hard part. The hard part is how do you sell and pay for your time.”

    How do you get customers?

    “Sweetgrass is one that worked. There is no competition. No one else in the world does it. I do hundreds of litres every year. I find that most of my customers have referred other people. All my business is done from e-mail contacts and referrals. I don’t even have a website. I sell out every year, why would I want to manage a website? 

    “There is a lot to the management. I have sales mostly in North America. Thankfully, I have a loyal following, and people often go from 1 to 30 litres per order as they get familiar with the product and figure out what to do with it. It’s been wonderful!” 

    Who buys it? 

    “Aromatherapists are the main customers. Many customers use the hydrosol as an ingredient in cosmetic products. Also, lots of New Age shops buy it, meaning people who sell herbs and crystals. Tourist locations in the U.S. sell the hydrosol, but sweetgrass is anything but main stream.”

    Suggested uses include:

    • As a liquid smudge where the burning of sweetgrass braids is not allowed, e.g. In hospitals
    • As an ingredient for cooking, e.g. sweetgrass syrup or in cheesecakes
    • As an ingredient in cosmetic products
    • Makes a unique fragrance alone or blended with essential oils to be used as an air freshener for vehicles, bathrooms, etc.
    • Add to small fountains to provide a fresh natural scent
    • Add to essential oil diffusers along with oils or in place of them

    What about Indigenous users? 

    “It is used by the Native community. They use the sweetgrass braids, but the hydrosol is not culturally used so the Indigenous market is still largely untapped in that regard.

    “The average person doesn’t have a clue what to do with a hydrosol water. The scent that comes out of sweetgrass is from the coumarins, meaning sweet clover and hay scents that smell like new mown hay.”

    I have also used tonka bean-infused crystals in natural perfumery. The sweet coumarin hay-like scent is used to make fougère and chypre accords. I love the smell of new-mown hay. Research suggests that it can be used safely in cosmetic products and it has been used in food where it is often a companion to vanilla in scent and taste offerings; however, food use in Canada has been discontinued.

    “Sweetgrass does not contain or produce any essential oil. It does, however, produce a beautiful and fragrant hydrosol.”

    I ordered a batch and asked how long should I let it sit when I receive my hydrosol after distillation.

    “Every batch is different. The first few litres of a distillation always has a little more earthy scent than the middle or last portion of a distillation. 

    “I hesitate to ship the hydrosol soon after distilling because it does need time to breathe and off-gas. It smells a bit raw/earthy for the first few weeks or even months sometimes. These off notes tend to dissipate over time. So, given a bit of time, it always mellows out to the fragrance we all so like. 

    “It is much like wine in that regard. Time allows it to mellow out and bring the desired fragrances forward. Let it rest in a cool, dark place to off-gas. There really is no magic number, but sweetgrass hydrosol should rest for a few weeks minimum after distilling. And like wine, you do nothing but let it be and it mellows out itself.”

    As a side note, all hydrosols should be stored in a cool, dark place free of light and heat, which can cause degradation and microbial blooms.

    How does the distillation process work?

    “Care is taken to only distill the fresh green leaves and areal plant parts (seeds, stems, etc). Dead stems will produce a dead grass smell. It’s not a pleasant odour, but you can detect it. I pick all of the dead grass out.”


    A small distiller was made. It is a mobile distiller left over from an herb group that I used to belong to. It’s available, but I am the only one using it.

    “Distilling is a very specialized field. You have to be in it for the long run. Even if you find plants to distill, you are back to how do I market it? In order to sell your product, you have to reach out to a lot of potential customers and do a lot of door knocking. The trick being to work with what you know, work within your own area, and stay focussed.”

    What is the chemical profile analysis?

    “I have never tried to get an analysis done on a hydrosol. It will give you the phand the microcompounds present, but what do you do with that? With sweetgrass hydrosol, there is not good reason to incur the expenses of an analysis because the results do not mean anything to anybody.

    “To justify getting a gas chromatograph, there must be a reason for this expensive test. With lavender oil, the chemical profile may tell you which species of lavender you are dealing with. Sweetgrass hydrosol is a water containing the essence of the plant. There is no essential oil profile to see.”

    What does the customer do with it?

    “Creating mist bottles for aerosol sprays is the most common use. Many blend it with other hydrosols or essential oils. Cosmetic products, creams and lotions are also a common use. I had one client in Saskatoon who uses it to make soap. They all have their own reasons. It depends on the person. I’m just happy to hear that they are using it! There is a customer in Ontario who has a fairly good market with funeral homes. She does a stress-release spray with lavender that is relaxing and refreshing. The funeral home sprays the area before events. Everyone has their own niche market.”

    I use it for smudging an area as a liquid smudge for clearing space. I’ve also tried as a natural perfumer to recreate the scent using 100% natural essential oils and I have created a blend called Peace that was launched in 2020. Most of my clients say that misting the back of the neck before bed helps to create a peaceful sleep. 

    Do you have a relationship with the plant itself?

    “Whenever you grow a plant, you have a relationship. I do less talking and more listening. If you have the knowledge and background, plants will tell you things if you listen. For instance, a nutrient deficiency can be detected by observing a plant or perhaps water stress is shown by the burning/browning of leaf tips.”

    In summary, “It takes a lot of effort and work when you take the first few steps. The rest will come,” was Steven’s takeaway looking back.

    “Also, that there are not many people in Canada or North America that even do distilling. It’s hard to narrow down the field itself. So many are just microdistillers on the kitchen table. I am more than surprised about how things have fallen into place over the years.” 

    For more information, and to get on Steven’s e-mail list, please send a message to He does respond right away.


    About the author: Anita Kalnay, RA, EOT, has 30 years of full-time practice as an aromatherapist and intuitive healer. She holds a diploma in Spiritual PhytoEssencing and has completed more than 3,200 certified hours in other natural health modalities. She is also a natural perfume designer and works with more than 500 essential oils. Located in the Comox Valley, BC, Anita currently serves on the CAOA board of directors. She can be found at

    “I just LOVE hearing people’s stories and sharing them. If you have a story to tell, please feel free to contact me. I’d LOVE to hear it. Our aromatherapy profession has grown because of people like YOU! You can write me at

  • Thursday, August 11, 2022 6:46 AM | Shannon Bachorick (Administrator)

    By Lucas Anderson, RA®, EOT®

    In the aromatherapy industry, there are a few rather heated topics. Depending on the audience, you can get some who think essential oils are completely harmless and only helpful, and you can get those who come across as fear mongering. You can even get those who believe that their brand of oil is the only one safe enough because it's the only pure essential oil on the market. I’ve also seen professionals get caught up in less than sound logic, using examples for why one shouldn’t use essential oils internally because of some property they possess that can be perceived as harmful to an unrelated object.

    Last year, a fellow member of a Facebook group posted the ingestion question as she had been approached by several people asking about ingestion of essential oils. And she knew from her training that we aren’t supposed to do that or recommend it, but she wasn’t sure how to explain it to these individuals. I shared my rationale behind not recommending internal use of oils, and why it is far beyond our scope of practice as aromatherapists. I believe when you understand what you’re dealing with, it’s easier to understand why. When you understand what essential oils really are, when you understand the body and the systems within to protect, build and support the whole, it becomes clear why ingestion of essential oils is not something to take lightly, nor should it be undertaken without a greater understanding of what’s happening within the body. The following is my explanation to anyone, but particularly fellow aromatherapists who are trying to explain the hot topic to clients or other members of the general public, including sellers of essential oils.

    I will point out here that I am not a medical doctor or pharmacist, nor do I have a bachelor of science degree. In my aromatic journey, I have simply picked up things from various professionals and have come to this understanding on my own.

    A relatively brief reasoning for not ingesting essential oils

    So that everyone can understand why this application of essential oils is so far beyond our scope of practice as qualified aromatherapists, I am going to give a relatively brief explanation of some of the considerations involved.

    Internal usage of essential oils constitutes medicine. Period. And practising medicine without a licence is illegal. Essential oils comprise chemical constituents just like all drugs. Each oil can contain upwards of about 200 different chemical compounds. As such, there is far more involved than just purity of the oils, or even the state of the liver! A pure essential oil can be equally as dangerous as an adulterated one when you truly understand what you're using. 

    The body is a very complex organism and needs to be treated with the respect its due. When you take in a "drug" (which I will include essential oils in this category for the rest of the post), that drug will be metabolized by the liver, at some point. However, the liver is not the only organ that has to handle the drug, its subsequent waste material and metabolites. Once the body has made use of the drug, it must excrete the ensuing waste product. So you have other organs involved in the process including kidneys, sweat glands and lungs.

    Now to go back to that ". . . at some point." Depending on the route chosen by the properly trained professional, e.g. oral, sublingual, rectal, intravenous, etc., the essential oils/drugs will reach first pass metabolism (FPM) at different points, if at all. FPM is the point at which the liver has to deal with whatever you're putting into the body and metabolizes, or breaks down, a substance into something usable, or excretable. Not all roads lead directly tothe liver, they take different routes. Anything taken in orally will be the first to reach FPM. This means that what an oil does on the outside, may not be what it'll do internally. Those same oils/drugs taken rectally will pass through the system differently before reaching the liver.

    For a purely illustrative purpose, the following are the travel paths through the body for different routes of administration:

    Sublingual/Buccal: Sublingual vein  internal jugular  superior vena cava  heart lungs  heart  systemic circulation  liver

    Vaginal: Vaginal vein  internal iliac vein  inferior vena cava  heart  lungs  heart 

    systemic circulation  liver

    Rectal: 1/3 superior rectal vein  liver (FPM)

    Rectal: 1/3 middle rectal vein  internal iliac vein  inferior vena cava  heart  lungs heart  systemic circulation  liver

    Rectal: 1/3 inferior rectal vein  inferior pudendal vein  internal iliac vein  inferior vena cava → heart → lung → heart → systemic circulation → liver

    Inhalation: Lungs  heart  systemic circulation  liver

    Intranasal: Brain  heart  lungs  heart  systemic circulation  liver

    Oral: Hepatic portal system  liver (FPM)

    Essentially, FPM will happen to all oral routes, and only about 30%–50% of rectal. Drugs taken in through inhalation will pass through the system differently and not go directly to the liver. So again, knowing the chemical composition of the oils (and what chemicals will get metabolized as what in the body), and knowing what compounds will get metabolized as toxic substances (our liver can break down some compounds into more toxic compounds, which will drain the liver of glutathione and potentially damage the liver by depleting it of this substance quickly), and knowing how those compounds will affect the different organs they'll pass by, and . . . Are you beginning to understand the breadth of the scope of medical aromatherapy yet and why this is outside of our scope, that of all MLM companies suggesting taking them internally and, for that matter, even some medical professionals?

    Then once they've been "used" by the body, there is the matter of waste. Different compounds will compete for the same exit strategy. Meaning that if you take two drugs that exit the body in the same manner, e.g. kidneys etc., you can cause a strain on the exit pathway, or you can cause an excess of waste materials to build up. Neither are good.

    Whenever anyone is recommending internal use of essential oils without knowing pharmacokinetics/dynamics, the different systems of the body completely, how the body excretes the various waste products that are created or how the body will metabolize those compounds, they have no right, licence or legal permissibility to give any such recommendations. This area is a very broad and large scope and cannot be simplified down to a generality of "oh if you have (insert random complaint), just take a capsule with this oil, this oil, and this oil." It's not that simple. And there is a reason that those of us who realize this, shutter, cringe and get very vocal about it!

    As well, don't get caught up in the marketing game either! I’ll include this in this discussion because I’ve heard people say that it is okay to take essential oils internally because they are natural and therefore harmless. “Natural” is a term that is used in marketing because when people hear the word, they assume it must be better for you and less harmful, if at all. Well, remember this: gasoline is natural, it comes from petroleum, which comes from the ground, naturally. Lye is natural, it's found in the ash of burned wood, among other things. Pure lye will most certainly kill you! Aconite, a beautiful flower also known as monkshood, is extremely poisonous and will kill you if consumed in small quantities, but is completely natural! Poison ivy is natural. Don't get caught up in the natural = harmless movement, especially in the discussion of internal use of essential oils. Yes, they are natural; however, they can cause harm. They can trigger allergies, interfere and interact with other medications, and they can definitely exacerbate various medical conditions (such as epilepsy). The body metabolizes essential oils just like any other drug. Wintergreen’s primary constituent, methylsalycylate, is metabolized into salicylic acid, just like acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin).

    I hope that this is helpful in explaining why this topic is such a hot one, and why it is such a big one! I haven't even scratched the surface of the things that need to be considered. My answer is not complete or exhaustive, and I may have incorrectly described some of the functions of different parts of the body, but the point is that there is a lot to understand before making a suggestion of internal use of essential oils.


    Webb, Mark. Aromatic Therapies: A world viewpoint. Mark Webb lecture, Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists. Toronto, 2017.

    Miller, Timothy. AromaPharmacokinetics Full Course. Timothy Miller Online Course, Naturopathic CE,

    About the author: Lucas Anderson, RA®, EOT®, with seven years' experience as an aromatherapist, has been focussing on men's health and helping them achieve freedom. He has a passion for health as close to nature as possible and currently works with more than 130 essential oils. Located in Edmonton, Lucas is past president of the CFA and is currently serving on the CAOA board of directors. You can learn more about Lucas at

  • Wednesday, July 06, 2022 2:07 PM | Shannon Bachorick (Administrator)

    Nature’s Ingredients with Vennie Chou

    By Anita Kalnay, RA®, EOT® 

    Vennie Chou caught my attention when she posted a Facebook comment on using flowers to create colour naturally for bath salts. Prior to that, I had seen her name as a member of the Natural Perfume Foundation, (1) but we had never met. 

    Amazing people sometimes come in the most humble of packages! Although Vennie is not an aromatherapist, her job as senior technologist at the B.C. Cancer Institute, of which she is a 32-year veteran, involves the use of colour in determining malignancy of cell tissue. 

    “My job is ‘playing with colour.’ I use chemical colour to dye the tissues that come from surgery. I take a removed organ, slice it up, and colour it with different chemicals. From that I can tell which cells are cancer cells and which are other cells. I call it ‘the body shop’ (she laughs)

    “In cancer testing, we use logwood, which is a purple-blue natural dye that colours the nuclei in the cells that hold the DNA. A tumour nuclei looks very different than a normal nuclei. We look at the colour, the shade, and can tell, just by looking at the colours, the state of health of the cell. 

    “There is a lot of funding in cancer research to ‘cure,’ but there is no funding toward prevention!

    “That’s why I study naturals. To get away from chemicals.

    “My goal is to find natural alternatives to products we use daily, such as lotions, hair colour, shampoos, soaps, toothpaste etc. For example I use a combination of henna and indigo to create a black hair dye, or cassia and amla for blonde hair.” 

    Vennie was appalled at having to wear full PPE at work, while working with the very same chemicals that were in health and beauty products. Her motivation was “to do it different,” to explore naturals as alternatives. So, after work, she started to apply her laboratory and science skills to create her own personal care products at home. 

    Creating Coloured Bath Salts with Flowers

    How did you come up with this idea?

    “Originally, I wanted to create an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial foot soak using thyme and oregano. I  picked the plants live, mixed them with epsom salt and put them in the blender with the idea of ‘breaking up’ the plant material. When I picked blue pansy, I got blue bath salts, roses gave me pink salts, lavender didn’t have much colour, but it had a beautiful scent! Calendula marigold was bright gold and totally therapeutic, anti-inflammatory and calming. 

    “I picked the flowers, pulled the petals off, added epsom salt, put it in the blender and as it mixed, the flowers totally disappeared into the salt. Then I laid it on a paper grocery bag to dry. 

    “Some plants have more ‘juice.’ Where thyme might dry in a day, marigold would take three to four days. And it also depends on how much plant material you put in the blend and the depth of colour that you want.”

    Being the scientist that she is, Vennie observed her bath salts over a period of a year and noticed that the colour was still active and had stayed the same. 


    • Be sure to research the flowers and herbs to ensure that they are not poisonous. 
    • Test for allergies. Those allergic to plants in the daisy family allergies will likely be allergic to calendula, too.
    • Use your aromatherapy skills to add scent and consider different applications or skin types. 
    Here’s a good link for edible flowers (2) that might help.

    Vennie particularly liked pink peony flower, the original peony, which apparently is non-toxic and has a strong rose like scent. She suggests blending peonies with rose petals, as the peony has larger and more petals than roses and offers a vibrant pink colour. 

    Her suggestion:

    Dry as many of the raw materials as you can, over the summer, then try to play with it, especially after the summer season is over. 

    Here are some other colour ideas:

    • Lemon verbena, blended with grated lemon zest.
    • Beets have no smell, but they have a beautiful strong colour. Add just a tiny bit to a blend. Let it dry in epsom salts and dissolve in a bath or foot bath. 
    • Use the primary colours to create your own colour explorations: pink or red flowers, blue flowers such as pansy, yellow flowers such as dandelion. Mix and match to your own delight!  

    Keep good notes.

    Take pictures, so you can refer back to them.

    Explore. You can add lavender and marigold to salts, to make a light purple with yellow, for instance

    Look at the yin/yang of the plants/herbs, often most visible in the growing conditions of the plant.

    Consider the WHOLE process as natural therapy

    “I don’t like products that have gone through a lot of processing. The only process I do is rinse the bugs off the flower, then add the salts and some moisturizing oil.”

    Moisturizing Oils

    -Grate some coconut butter into the epsom salt to add a cream colour. When added to hot water, it will dissolve.

    -Grate some 90% dark chocolate and mix into the salts. Add some grated cacao butter for scent. 

    Other Ideas

    Consider plant material such as fruit or vegetables. Cut a small piece of watermelon and blend into the salts for a cooling effect. Very nice with lemon verbena and lemon zest. Make a pillow or eye bag with the dried materials, too! 

    Does it have to be Epsom salts?

    “Epsom salt is easy to use because it is very drying. But you can blend it with pink Himalayan salts or dead sea salts.” (Which I find take on more water in our coastal environment.)

    “Colour is a BIG part of therapy. It is therapeutic and relaxing just watching it dissolve in the bath or a foot bath”

    Both Vennie and I explored colour as part of the textile art industry. I originally explored it as a silk painter and after taking several colour classes at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, discovered that the colours I was dyeing changed my mood. That was my introduction to the healing arts. 

    Vennie took classes at Maiwa Handprints on Granville Island, where she learned about natural dyes and mordants that can be used in textiles to replace chemical products. Her goal is to “eliminate all the ‘crap’ we buy and replace it with plants.” 

    Natural dyes and plant materials have been used for thousands of years all over the world.

    “I used alkanet root to dye my textiles. It offers a beautiful range of purples. In Japan and Turkey, the plant is used as a compress on a wound to help it heal very fast. The Japanese use this plant and this idea with diabetics. It helps wounds to heal fast and it is also antiseptic. 

    “You can take part of the root and soak it in oil. The red colour soaks into the oil. I call it an alkanet infusion. Then take the oil and blend it with salts. It enhances the moisturizing properties of the salts.”

    Her research also correlated these natural materials to Chinese medicine, eg. indigo root used to treat lungs, asthma and colds. It also inspired her to research the herbs used and the countries and traditions that used them. 

    “About the only thing I don’t make is my own toilet paper,” and, strangely enough, just the day before our interview I found a reference to using mullein leaf as a natural toilet paper when out in the bush as it is large, soft and fuzzy. 

    “The textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world! The first is the petroleum industry. If we can eliminate chemical dyes and replace them with naturals, then we can clean up the world! 

    “I knit as well, and the moths in my house will only eat the synthetic or chemical dyes. I have been dyeing yarns for about 20 years and I never have to store them separately as a cashmere sweater dyed with natural dyes will never have holes from moths. The bugs won’t eat the natural dyes, because the mordants bind with the fibre creating a natural chemistry that is deadly to bugs.”

    Vennie’s Vision

    “I want to expand what I do. I use chemicals all the time at my job and I just hate it. How can I live a modern life avoiding these products? It’s been a long journey, over 25 years of exploring so far!”


    - Every failure is a lesson. So it is constant research and development. I have had lots of projects that didn’t work. 

    - In inspiration there is possibility. I want to open up the possibilities, the dimensions, horizons, so people will start looking around, researching and learning about natural materials. 

    - I love my walks in nature, and that’s what started the process over 25 years ago now.

    “I am working with a doctor of Chinese medicine to create products for skin. I was watching a TCM documentary, in Chinese, and they mentioned some plants that might grow in our area here in B.C. So, I went to a Chinese herbal store, to buy them to dye my textiles. I discovered that gardenia seed pods were used in history to dye the emperor’s clothing, the ‘royal gold’ colour.”

    It was humorous to hear Vennie talk about going into an herbal apothecary and buying huge bags of product for textile dyeing. 

    “So, history meets colour, meets herbal use… I incorporated the Empress Herbal Blend formula into my facial cleanser, which is very good for freckles and brown spots, meaning age spots.”

    Vennie’s Formula for Age Spots

    At this point my curiosity on age spots took over! Age spots are often brought out via heat such as sun exposure and also UV rays emitted by older computer monitors. Vennie offered her recipe for an age spot mask. 

    I noticed my age spots shortly after I went into menopause and immediately after going to Oregon for much of the summer, where we spent most of our time outdoors. And the sun is much hotter in Oregon. 


    - Mint, peppermint leaf or use a peppermint tea bag

    - Mung bean, unsprouted

    - Barley flour grains

    - Dried chrysanthemum flower, available in a Chinese herbal store, or tea store


    - Use a coffee grinder and grind into a powder.

    - Add water or add your favourite hydrasol to moisten.

    - Make it into a paste and apply as a mask.

    - Don’t add any essential oils to the blend.

    The face has a yang energy. Use plain water or a cooling hydrasol (e.g. rose, neroli, lavender, peppermint), not rosemary or other warming hydrosol.

    The whole idea is to cool the skin:

    • In TCM, the process addresses stagnation where things are not moving resulting in irritation and inflammation. The body is trying to get things moving, so use cooling properties. 
    • If the blood or the meridian channels don’t move, you have pain and the heat of ultraviolet mimics the sun.

    Play with it at home for yourself! 

    You can also sell the product by putting instructions on it, e.g. add your own water.

    • For an oily face, add a bit of French clay.
    • For dry skin, add a few drops of almond oil for a moisturizing effect.

    Vennie does not have a website, but her Facebook page offers a world of wisdom and has some great pictures to guide the process!    



    1. Natural Perfume Foundation IPF

    2. 40+ Edible Flowers (and How to Use Them)

  • Tuesday, July 05, 2022 8:36 AM | Shannon Bachorick (Administrator)

    Recap and Afterthoughts

    By Kathleen Jaggassar, CCC, RA®, EOT®


    The central theme of our June 2022 Coffee Saturday was Aromatherapy and the Scope of Practice. We discussed the differences between aromatherapy and aromatic medicine, and the ingestion of essential oils (EOs). Colleen Thompson explained that since we do not have aromatic medicine in Canada, the ingestion of EOs falls under a medical doctor’s scope of practice. In fact, Health Canada[1] and the Province of BC[2] explicitly state that EOs are not to be ingested. We discussed how to approach this issue with clients. We talked about the value of education, and we touched on the risks associated with various methods of application. Koyama and Heinbickel discuss how the method of intake (diffuser, ingestion or topical) will interact with the bodily system related to the application (olfactory, digestive and skin) and that currently there isn’t a comprehensive understanding of how these physical systems interact with each constituent or combinations of constituents.[3] An extensive body of research demonstrates that inhalation is the safest method of aromatherapy.[4] Tisserand and Young[5] provide a thorough resource on inhalation and topical safety, informing Health Canada guidelines[6]. All these resources can educate our clients to make an informed decision about using EOs.


    We also touched on counselling and aromatherapy and how an aromatherapist might know when they were engaging in counselling. Kathleen said that an aromatherapist would be outside their scope of practice when they begin to process an issue with a client. The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) defines counselling and psychotherapy as “a relational process based upon the ethical use of specific professional competencies to facilitate human change.”[7] Kathleen gave numerous examples of what this could look like during a session. Storytelling, guided meditations or spiritual journeys are all within the scope of aromatherapy practice. When a client engages an aromatherapist in a discussion about their concerns or begins to tell a story, an aromatherapist could use empathetic phrases such as, “That must have been really difficult for you,” “I am here with you now,” and “I can imagine this is a terrifying diagnosis.” Empathy is conceptualized as the ability to re-experience or share the emotions of another person.[8] Emotional regulation (the state by which a person returns to baseline after an emotional reaction) is indicated in many mental health issues. Emotional regulation is highly impacted by an empathetic response.[9] Therefore, it’s reasonable to expect that empathy alone can initiate a transformation. 


    However, remember that to engage in counselling, you must use a specific set of professional competencies that far exceed an empathetic response. This discussion raised the question of what to do when a client starts talking about trauma or tells you they want to work through a psychological problem. Kathleen suggested explaining the scope of practice to clients by telling them you are willing to listen to their stories. Still, you cannot help them work through their problem, and you know of someone who can help (Kathleen strongly recommends engaging a counsellor as a referral source so you can be prepared for this circumstance). In summary, as an aromatherapist, your primary focus must be using EOs to promote mental and physical health and, through their use, remediate and treat client health symptoms and diagnosed medical concerns. The experience you chose to administer EOs to your client is arguably, the “therapy” in “aromatherapy.”


    [1] Health Canada. Aromatherapy – Essential Oils [Internet]. 2018. Available from 

    [2] Health Link BC. Aromatherapy (Essential Oil Therapy) [Internet]/ 2021. Available from

    [3] Koyama, S., & Heinbockel, T. (2020). The effects of essential oils and terpenes in relation to their routes of intake and application. International Journal of Molecular Sciences21(5), 1558.

    [4] Aćimović, M. (2021). Essential oils: Inhalation aromatherapy—a comprehensive review. J. Agron. Technol. Eng. Manag4, 547-557.

    [5] Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential oil safety: A guide for health care professionals.

    [6] Health Canada. Aromatherapy – Essential Oils [Internet]. 2018. Available from

    [7] CCPA. Who are counsellors/psychotherapists? [Internet]. 2022. Available from

    [8] Lamm, C., & Tomova, L. (2018). The neural bases of empathy in humans. In Neuronal correlates of empathy (pp. 25-36). Academic Press.

    [9] Engen, H. G., & Singer, T. (2013). Empathy circuits. Current opinion in neurobiology23(2), 275-282.

  • Tuesday, June 07, 2022 7:31 PM | Shannon Bachorick (Administrator)

    By Anita Kalnay, RA®, EOT®

    Recently, the Spiritual PhytoEssencing (SPE) community created a blend called Born Free. This blend was formulated by Dr. Bruce Berkowsky in response to the traumatization of the people of Ukraine that has so deeply touched us all. 

    According to Dr. Berkowsky, the intent of the blend is to “soften the layer of trauma.” It will be used by Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) practitioners in their work with Ukrainian refugees. The recommended protocol is to apply two drops of the blend to six specific acupuncture points after needling in order to deepen the action of the treatment: CV (conception vessel) 6,15, and 17; kidney 7; and heart 9. 

    Alternative points will also be used in accordance with needling patterns, as government regulations and cultural sensitivities vary from one refugee camp to another (these camps are located in several different European countries). 

    The SPE Blending Process

    SPE blending does not simply involve static drop counts for each oil used, but rather it is a fluid process that involves conscious soul-to-soul connection to each oil. Additionally: “In SPE, deep acting blends are built in layers in order to create a three-dimensional dynamic and to reflect the lower-to-higher layered nature of the soul.” 

    The members of the SPE group all have had the opportunity to create the blend and relate to it through their own experiences. The blend itself is created in small batches, with a series of layers constructed on different days (one layer per day). 

    There are two central references used in the SPE blending process:

    1.    Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils, which offers an in-depth profile of the inner soul nature of 122 essential oils. (The most extensive description of this kind that I have ever seen in our field.)

    2.    The SPE Repertory of Essential Oils, currently about 2,500 rubrics (regarding symptoms, constitutional traits, reactional modes, etc.) divided into three sections: general; mental, emotional and dreams; and physical.

    Creating the Blend

    “The Ukraine situation is a staggering social trauma . . . including disturbing visuals and high intensity explosives.”

    “The premise of the Born Free blend is to create a light-infused aromatic frequency that can carry and transmit the wave frequency information of solace and peace.”

    ─ Dr. Berkowsky

    Recently, Dr. Berkowsky and his Spiritual PhytoEssencing students conducted what he refers to as a cosmic light projection. Cosmic light projections involve the use of transmitter/receivers designed by Dr. Berkowsky that are constructed of stones and crystals arranged in a very specific pattern. These stones and crystals surround a bowl that contains a SPE essential oil blend (in this case, the Born Free blend) and selected SPE gemstone essences (Dr. Berkowsky uses his Natural World Alchemy Method to produce all of the SPE gemstone essences).

    All participants set up their transmitter/receivers that link into, and amplify, the signal generated by Dr. Berkowsky’s much larger transmitter/receiver station (his station features copper pyramids surrounded by copper spirals, pulsed electromagnetic field generators and a scalar light wave generator).

    Quantum physicists suggest that scalar waves can pass beyond the time/space dimension into what they refer to as the non-local space. The non-local space is populated by an infinity of wave forms that can store and transfer information. As the non-local space is beyond the time/space universe, it enables the transmission of healing energies to distant locations. 

    Essential oils and gemstone essences vibrate information-bearing waveforms of characteristic frequencies. With the proper alchemy technology and the power of intention, these waveforms are readily and instantly transmitted via the non-local space to distant places. 

    Dr. Berkowsky suggests that “In the case of Ukraine, the idea was to bring some solace to the individuals. The healing impact of this projection, subtle as it was, still served at a quantum level as a contribution to the healing of these people.

    “The projection spread light not just to Ukraine, but also the Russian people, tens of thousands of whom who are being used, and dying, as cannon fodder in a brutal and utterly pointless war that they have been thrust into against their will. Russia is an autocratic state. As John Edward Acton famously wrote, ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’”

    The Born Free Blend 

    Born Free is referred to in SPE as a situational blend, which a blend that is specific for ameliorating the psychospiritual impact of a particular situation (e.g. grief, divorce, disease, etc.), as opposed to a deep-acting constitutional blend. Situational blends can be highly customized for a particular individual or can be formulated to have general relevance for a large group of people (as with the Born Free blend). On the other hand, SPE deep-acting constitutional blends are tailored to engage with the unique, soul-nature archetypal pattern of one particular individual’s inner-core identity and so have no relevance regarding anyone else. 

    Born Free Blend Formulation

    The rubrics selected from the SPE Repertory of Essential Oils for the formulation of Born Free to help identify relevant essential oils were:

    Third Chakra (Solar Plexus)

    -    To support the will of the Ukrainian people during this brutal assault.

    -    This chakra is the seat of will. 

    Desire to Escape

    In this case, to flee the bombs and missiles that are laying waste to their towns and cities.

    Typhoid Miasm

    The central themes of the typhoid miasm are danger of losing your place of comfort if you don’t do something soon; sudden loss; critical period; danger, risk, urgency; do or die—either successfully resolve the crisis through short, intense effort or die if the effort fails; impatience; and taking risks.

    There is a focus upon recovering lost ground—wants the same thing back that was lost; reaching a position of comfort; grab it, want it all right now; an intense short effort is needed to find rest. In the failed state of this miasm, there may be collapse, loss of will, inactivity, defeatism.

    Fourth Chakra (Heart)

    To address feelings of disheartenment and to help assuage emotional wounding. 

    Netzach-Victory (one of the Tree of Life vessels)

    In Hebrew, Netzach means victory. It is the vessel that sustains the soul’s potential for overcoming obstacles and any factor that interferes with the divine energy flow. 

    Earth Element

    Associated with nurturing, grounding and connection to the land to address feelings of deprivation and disconnection from the homeland.

    Water Element

    Associated with fear and anxiety.

    Smaller rubrics used include fear (of being murdered), passionate (about freedom and national identity), and grief.

    The goal of the blend (reflected cumulatively in the above rubrics) is to support hope and will and to assuage emotional trauma.

    The blend contains 11 main component oils and 3 alchemy essential oils. SPE features various alchemy techniques developed by Dr. Berkowsky. The three alchemy oils in this blend served as the “surrounding essence,” “invisible sparks” and “magic drops.” 

    Use of the Blend 

    The blend was prepared and then diluted to 5% in unprocessed jojoba oil. The AWB practitioners will be taking the blend to various refugee camps in Europe. 

    Approximately 30 people can be treated with the contents of one 15 mL bottle of the 5% dilution. Thus, 10 bottles can be used to treat 300 people.

    My personal experience of making and using the blend was a softening of the issues that I felt were obstacles and limitations in my own personal life, including an immediate reduction in ongoing hip pain that I have felt since the COVID lockdown. 

    I also used the blend in a massage with a client, who is a well-known Buddhist teacher. He continued to use it as a take-home blend and had vivid dreams that offered resolution. He also sent a blend to a Star Group healing program of which he is a member. Those of us who used the blend had similar experiences.

    Because I study the Gene Keys, I intuitively correlated the Born Free blend with the 57th Gene Key, which is very much about moving beyond the field of suffering and unease into trust and clarity with gentleness. 

    As I continue to use the blend at home, I have noticed a softening of the worries that might otherwise plague my mind as obstacles or limitations. It truly speaks to the heart of compassion in a gentle way! Also, as our community opens its doors to refugees from Ukraine, I feel that I now have a tool that I can offer them that in some way may comfort their journey of loss and relocation and welcome them into new freedoms here in Canada. 

    If the blend and process of creating Born Free sparked your interest, please contact Dr. Berkowsky to receive the formulation at If you are interested in creating, preparing and using the blend in direct reference to the Ukraine situation, or personally with clients or family members, please feel free to share your experiences! 

    If you would like to train in the art of Spiritual PhytoEssencing (SPE), Dr. Berkowsky is initiating a very affordable SPE Membership Program that, for a low annual fee will provide you access to his SPE Members-only e-mail messages, and monthly classes, certain recordings, cosmic light projections and blending exercises. At discounted prices, you would also have access to his SPE Gemstone Essences and SPE essential oil blends and reference guides (such as the SPE Repertory of EOs). He is also in the process of making arrangements with certain essential oil retailers to offer high-quality oils to SPE members at discounted prices. The membership program is scheduled to begin in August.

    About the author: Anita Kalnay, RA®, EOT®, has 30 years of experience as an aromatherapist and intuitive healer. She holds a diploma in Spiritual PhytoEssencing and has more than 3,200 certified hours in various natural health modalities. She is also a natural perfume designer and works with more than 500 essential oils. Located in the Comox Valley, BC, Anita currently serves on the CAOA board of directors. You can learn more about Anita at

  • Sunday, May 15, 2022 7:57 AM | Shannon Bachorick (Administrator)

    By Anita Kalnay, RA®, EOT®

    What kind of clients are you attracting as a practitioner? 

    Often those are the exact clients that become your teachers and, in fact, I have learned everything from my clients as a practitioner over the years. 

    Recently, I had a request to explore how aromatherapy might fit into the management of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Which is very interesting because I am dealing with just that myself and at the beginning stage of figuring it all out! 

    According to a recent CBC interview, 20% of our population will soon be over the age of 60. Also during the COVID period, almost all of my female clients and many friends were complaining about right-hip issues and pain, including me!

    Because I love Ayurveda I decided to take Intermediate/Advanced Ayurveda, Osteoporosis (2) by KP Khalsa (1), a well-known herbalist, Ayurvedic practitioner and teacher as part of additional CEU credits.

    It was insightful in understanding the slow progression of the disease itself and the possibilities for alleviating pain and encouraging the natural healing process. 

    Some of the basics

    Understanding Bones

    There are 206 bones in the human body, making up 70% of our body mass! 

    Bone is a living tissue, constantly being remodelled. It is the mineral bank for the body, storing minerals as they come and go. Blood mineral content does not change, remaining stable. However, blood draws its minerals from the bone, and that’s what changes! 

    Osteoporosis is when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or even from sneezing or a minor bump. 

    My client reported over-exercising as the cause of her thigh and joint pain, which affected her much loved ability to dance! She attributed her issues to osteoporosis. 

    The Three Main Elements in Bone Are Earth, Air and Water

    Earth is the dominant element, or kapha. Air is the dominant dysregulation or, in Ayurveda, the vata type. Bones are 80% earth and 20% air as they are porous.


    The natural home of vata is the air/space element and includes the large intestine, pelvis, thigh, ear, bone and skin. 

    This was a cue to linking the hip conditions I observed with accompanying low back pain to osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Osteoarthritis being a degeneration of the tissue around the bones. 

    Good bones are strong and stable like the kapha earth/water constitutional type, including good teeth and nails. Psychological kaphas are also forgiving and hard working. 

    And interestingly the pitta or fire/oil types rarely get osteoporosis as they are more inclined to -itis types of issues, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

    In Ayurveda there are always three causes for every type of disease to consider—vata, pitta or kapha. Each requires a different approach to food, lifestyle patterns, and treatment including the use of aromatics and herbs. 

    Often osteoporosis that is in the later stages can be complex and tridoshic to treat. The idea is to plan for 20 years ahead, meaning when you are 40, begin preventive maintenance. 

    Is osteoporosis curable? 

    No, but according to Khalsa, that does not mean it is not treatable. 

    Who gets osteoporosis?

    Usually someone in their later or vata years. Post-menopausal women also report increases in bone-density loss. Secondary characteristics of bone-density loss can also include loss of hair and public hair. And the most characteristic symptom to look for might be bluish colour of the sclera or white area surrounding the eye. A bluish colour surrounding the iris can be an indicator of osteoporosis.

    Characteristically, “Caucasian American women over 50 with blue eyes have more chance of a healthy skeleton slipping away every year.”(3) Black women luck out as they typically have greater bone density. 

    In looking at inheritance, Ayurveda suggests that all hard things in the body are inherited from the father, e.g. bones, while all soft tissue is inherited from the mother. 

    Treatment Options

    Prevent osteoporosis by getting a bone density test. With treatment, it takes about five years to notice improvement and can only be tested with bone-density testing. Osteoporosis itself does not cause pain, but rather it is the falls and injuries that cause the pain.

    Excessive Vata Causes of Osteoporosis

    Anyone can score as excessive vata. Our lifestyle routines such as diet, sleep, our jobs and family responsibilities, how we spend our leisure time, the hobbies we do and the friends we keep are all part of our cumulated lifestyle patterns. 

    Vata’s main pattern is irregularity. Vatas are consistently inconsistent! Some people have a vata dosha or constitutional birth type, while 70% of disease can be attributed to vata imbalances in any type.

    Experiencing 30 years of excessive vata lifestyle and diet can cause us to wear down. Also recent disruptions that shift our routines can bring on vata dysregulation. All of us have been challenged with several years of COVID disruption and many are still in active transition between what was and what is now.

    Signs of excessive vata include:

    • Diet: irregular eating times; food that is dry, rough, cold, light, small quantities, pungent, bitter
    • Excessive fasting
    • Excessive physical exercise including jumping, jogging, flying
    • Not enough sleep and staying up late
    • Excessive sexual activity
    • Suppression of natural urges, e.g. dry constipation
    • Stress, worry, anxiety, trauma
    • Fall or cold season, gusty winds, cloudy, dry

    In the later stages of vata dysregulation:

    • Spasms, tremors or ticks
    • Nerve diseases such as fibromyalgia 
    • Severe dehydration, emaciation, osteoporosis, tissue degeneration, constrictive asthma, epilepsy, coma

    Main areas affected:

    • Joints and bony tissue, especially the pelvic area
    • Loss of teeth, hair and brittle nails
    • Fatigue, joint flaccidity, bone pain (from wear)
    • Dry rough skin 
    • Cracking of teeth and nails
    • Herniated discs
    • Tingling and numbness
    • Sciatica that radiates down the leg
    • Low back ache relieved by pressure or support

    Vata excess results in thinner and more fragile membrane health, including the membranes that surround the bones. 

    As bone mass decreases:

    • Teeth fall out
    • Fractures can be caused by movement, falls or even sneezing

    Vata, Sub-doshas

    Vata is divided into sub-doshas, which indicate the flow of the energy movement itself and where it might be restricted or compromised, much like a river with a dam or obstruction. These are called sub-doshas. Treatments such as acupuncture and TCM also consider these in balancing the flow as part of their treatment modalities. 

    Since air is the central force in vata, that air can flow in different directions. These directions create the sub-dosha categories. And air requires unrestricted flow. 

    Prana vata, located in the head, air/energy that moves in a downward flow including the breath and food/digestion. Symptoms of dysregulation can include: anxiety, fear, anger, stroke and breathlessness.

    Udana vata, located in the chest, air that flows upwards, air that propels out of the body, e.g. exhalation, burping, nausea, vomiting. Symptoms of speech disturbances such as stuttering, muttering, memory loss, directionless, depression, skin discolouration, hoarse voice, asthma.

    Vayana vata, located near the heart and moves everywhere in all directions, i.e. moves blood and oxygen to all parts of the body. Symptoms of poor circulation, ischemic heart/brain diseases, stroke, circulation and muscle activities.

    Samana vata, located near the digestive fire and moves into the gastro intestinal tract. Symptoms of appetite loss, indigestion, distressed peristalsis, gas, malabsorption.

    Apana vata, located in the lower pelvic area, large intestine, bladder, genitals. The movement is downward and out of the body. Symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, dysfunction of menstruation, gas, sex, backache.

    The best reference book for aromatherapy in relation to essential oils for each of these sub-doshas is Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The EARTH Essentials Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing (4) by Dr. Light Miller (see illustration).

    At this point I would suggest that the course offered by KP Khalsa covers far more information and is very helpful in identifying the causes and also herbal supports as well for osteoporosis. 

    How Do We Address and Treat Osteoporosis with Our Clients?

    Each of us may be trained in different complementary modalities. 

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Communicate and educate together with your client

    Together you can track patterns and look at the history of how they might have led to osteoporosis. Most of the time and as a result of information available on the internet, many clients have a lot of knowledge that they have collected on their condition. What they likely haven’t collected is recognizing how that all fits together as a pattern. This is where our listening skills come in and also visual diagramming and client intake information including history and family history.

    • Use diagnostics

    Bone-density testing can be done initially and repeated regularly to track results. Expect the journey to be at least a five-year process! I have used bio-feedback, which also offers a detailed list of vitamins and minerals that may be depleted or even overused and ,depending on your service provider, offers a 44-page printout as a reference. It is also affordable and can be used to understand baseline heath, identify both chronic and acute symptoms, and, over time, provide a record of progressive change.

    • Get a game plan

    In this case, discuss and create some sources of either referral or information sourcing to help the client identify dietary and lifestyle issues and support. I love the (5) platform as the dosha tests are free and there is an enormous data base of both diet and lifestyle suggestions, including online introductory and affordable courses. Clients need a connection to discussion and accountability. That may or may not be your focus as a practitioner but consider where or who to refer them to for ongoing support based on their game plan.

    • As a practitioner, offer the skills the you have related to the issues presented

    In my case, as one who offers Ayurvedic oils used in massage, the application of body oiling is the primary treatment in Ayurveda for vata conditions! We know that essential oils, more than anything, can help to restore balance to the autonomic nervous system quickly and effectively. This can include booking regular body oiling treatments and creating products for at-home use including body oil and applications to soothe and balance the nervous system. Also, I can relate my choice of oils to the sub-dosha categories listed above and reference them in the book listed.

    • Herbal supplements

    Although I am certainly not an herbalist, there are many over-the-counter vitamin supports that can be considered and often the stores themselves are well-informed and clients can be referred to specialists in this area for a consultation. KP Khalsa offers online consultations as well. The main supplements to consider are mineral supplements. In Ayurveda, these are constructed of seashell and calcium compounds. Also “hard” compounds such as Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata) (9), which is from a hard resin, can be used.

    What Is Working for Me

    Since I have been troubled by many of these issues myself, I have personally received the most noticeable benefits from:

    • Acupuncture, which relieved the pain effectively and also provided balanced energy support and endocrine balance with only a few treatments. The relationship with your practitioner is the main key to healing! It has to be a good match and that can take a bit of exploring. If you don’t notice results within a few treatments or sessions, don’t waste your money, look elsewhere.
    • Homeopathy, such as the cartilage remedy (10) I used for hip tissue degeneration. I noticed the difference immediately although the process of healing will be ongoing.
    • I am also using an enhanced protein collagen powder daily from a bovine source and have noticed improvements already in my nails especially, as well as a mineral supplement. 
    • Getting an electric bike to exercise and be social without causing more harm to the tissues.
    • Using custom daily mineral salt baths, Ayurveda body oils and shampoo blends, and observing and addressing underlying patterns through journalling in order to support and balance vata. 

    I truly wish there were more practitioners available to offer Abyanga body massage, which requires the generous use of herbal base oils (8). There are too few of us out there and many of my favourite Ayurvedic suppliers do not ship to Canada. 

    So, YES, the treatment is worth the effort!

    Expect the process to take at least five years to restore bone density and rebuild the tissues.

    And balancing vata is the number-one focus along with supporting the earth element of kapha.

    Dr. Khalsa also offers simpler online courses to support learning more about osteoporosis (11). 

    Repertory (6) Categories to Consider for Essential Oils


    Angelica; balsam fir; bergamot; blue chamomile; blue cypress; calendula; cardamom; carrot seed; cassia; cedarwood; champaca; cinnamon; cistus; clary sage; clove; coriander; elemi; Douglas fir; eucalyptus; fenugreek; frankincense; Gandhi root; geranium; ginger; goldenrod; guaiac wood; helichrysum; jasmine; juniper; laurel; lemon; lemongrass; monarda; myrrh; nagarmotha; neroli; nettle; olive leaf; oregano; palo santo; patchouli; pemou; peppermint; pine; plai; prickly ash; rhododendron; Roman chamomile; sage; sandalwood; santolina; silver fir; spikenard; tagetes; tamarack; thuja; tuberose; valerian; vetiver; violet; wintergreen; ylang ylang

    Calcium Themes 

    Balsam fir; bergamot; black spruce; carrot seed; cedarwood; champaca; juniper; leleshwa; lime; mastic; olive leaf; oregano; rhododendron; santolina; savory; seaweed; silver fir; spikenard; tamarack; thuja

    Carbon Themes

    Blue chamomile; cedarwood; clary sage; cypress; helichrysum; juniper; neroli; Peru balsam; ravensara; santolina 


    Weakness, lumbar and sacral

    Ammi visnaga; anise; balsam fir; balsam poplar; benzoin; bitter orange; blue chamomile; buchu; camphor; carrot seed; cassia; catnip; cedarwood; celery seed; clove; copaiba; cypress; dill; Douglas fir; fenugreek; frankincense; garlic; ginger; guaiac wood; helichrysum; hemp; hyssop; jasmine; laurel; lavender; ledum; lemon; litsea; marjoram; monarda; neroli; nutmeg; olive leaf; oregano; orris root; palmarosa; peppermint; Peru balsam; pine; plai; Roman chamomile; rosemary; rosewood; savory; seaweed; spearmint; spikenard; St. John’s wort; tarragon; thuja; thyme; tobacco leaf; turmeric; valerian; vetiver; yarrow 


    Anise; balsam fir; bergamot; bitter orange peel; black pepper; black spruce; blue chamomile; blue cypress; calendula; caraway; cardamom; carrot seed; cassia; cedarwood; champaca; cinnamon; cistus; clary sage; clove; coriander; elemi; Douglas fir; eucalyptus; fenugreek; frankincense; Gandhi root; geranium; ginger; goldenrod; greenheart wood; guaiac wood; helichrysum; hyssop; jasmine; juniper; ledum; leleshwa; lemon; lemongrass; lime; mastic; monarda; myrrh; nagarmotha; neroli; niaouli; olive leaf; oregano; palo santo; pemou; peppermint; petitgrain bigarade; pine; plai; rhododendron; Roman chamomile; sage; sandalwood; santolina; saro; savory; seaweed; silver fir; spikenard; tagetes; tamarack; thuja; thyme; tuberose; valerian; vetiver; violet; white spruce; wintergreen; ylang ylang 

    Here is an interesting although complex research paper that investigates the following essential oils in relation to bone tissue repair and regeneration, including the use of St. John’s wort, rosemary, ylang ylang, white poplar, eucalyptus, lavender and grapeseed. 

    Other Factors

    Medications can be a contributing and causative factor. source: (7) 

    Long-term use of certain medications may make you more likely to develop bone loss and osteoporosis, such as:

    • Glucocorticoids and adrenocorticotropic hormone, which treat various conditions, such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis
    • Anti-epileptic medicines, which treat seizures and other neurological disorders
    • Cancer medications, which use hormones to treat breast and prostate cancer
    • Proton-pump inhibitors, which lower stomach acid
    • Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, which treat depression and anxiety
    • Thiazolidinediones, which treat type II diabetes

    Your comments are welcome! What have you found that worked? Please share your thoughts, observations, insights and suggestions.


    1. KP Khalsa,
    2. Intermediate/Advanced Ayurveda, Osteoporosis course,
    3. Quote from the course,
    4. Book Ayurveda and Aromatherapy by Dr. Light Miller
    5. Joyfulbelly, test your body type
    6. Berkowsky’s Spiritual PhytoEssencing Repertory of Essential Oils
    7. Treatment of Osteoporosis
    8. Sewanti, Ayurveda massage oils Canada
    9. Indian Boswellia, Boswellia Serrata
    10. Cartilage Remedies Homeopathy,
    11. More about osteoporosis, KP Khalsa course offerings,

  • Tuesday, March 15, 2022 8:51 AM | Kathleen Jaggassar (Administrator)

    Hello everyone!  Anita Kalnay has written a wonderful piece on Bergamot, which we have included below.  Let's start our conversation by sharing how each of us uses Bergamot in practice. 

    Bring In the Light—The Energetic Side of Bergamot

    By Anita Kalnay, RA®

    Bergamot can be used in blends for many different reasons. It is an oil of illumination and considered a “light” remedy (1). For that reason, it has often been associated as an essential oil for the psyche . . . as well as a wonderful oil for physical issues.

    There are two poles: light and dark. Bergamot can “shine a light” within the darkness. Often these periods of darkness are dark nights of the soul. They are times of inward reflection, perhaps dejection and soul searching. Berkowski said that the bergamot individual seeks illumination (1). Often that is presupposed by a feeling of being stuck or a frustrated inability toretain emotional constancy, and to make fruitful commitments to the choices that life presents.

    Bergamot is a balancing oil for the nervous system (2), as well as an adaptogen. Adaptogens effectively dance with the nervous system until the rhythm is fully integrated, creating harmony and balance in an otherwise polarized expressive system. When the nervous system polarizes, the stress on the body to find balance takes more work and can feel like a tennis match rather than a dance. ME/you/ME/you rather than US together enjoying the moment and the movement. In a nutshell, the bergamot-type individual needs to restore the dance and the rhythm—the joy and the flow, the idea being to “breach this oscillation” of deeply entrenched duality that causes so much stress otherwise. And when we can do that, it is stabilizing. And that in a nutshell is the magic of bergamot!

    Clincher: We must ensure that the bergaptene is present in the distilled bergamot essential oil. Why? Because that is the element within the plant that “attracts” the light. The Bergaptene-free essential oil in effect isolates the bergaptene element out of the final product. And of course, nature would never do that!

    Legislation and safety regulations in many areas of the world have required that bergamot be the bergaptene-free version for safety reasons. So, if you are a formulator and create products for general use, the bergaptene-free version will be the bergamot of choice for your use and there are available guidelines based on product development and safe application and usage (5).

    However, if you are blending for depression, anxiety, stress-related emotional symptoms such as ADHD, SADS, agitation, fear, insomnia, discouragement, frustration, shyness, lack of self-confidence and nerve-sense-system pain (1), each of these would benefit from the original unadulterated version of bergamot.

    There are non-dermal ways to utilize bergamot as well as appropriate and safe dilutions. Client education regarding safe application is also essential and helpful (e.g. do not apply to exposed skin as burning may occur). It might be quite fine to apply it under a covered area of skin or before bed etc. Or “dot” on only and inhale, as is the option with natural perfumes and stronger blends. Refer to Tisserand and Young (6) as a guideline for general aromatherapy use.

    So, both can be used, and for different reasons entirely. It’s an idea to be sure to have a bottle of both in your kit and experiment. My experiments over the years have also shown that the bergaptene-free version of bergamot goes off much faster and when stored in a bottle with a dropper lid in fact turned entirely black in a short time, while the regular bergamot did not. Just interesting!

    Astrological Bergamot

    The Essence of Magic: Tarot, Ritual and Aromatherapy by Mary K. Greer(3) is a vintage and nearly impossible to get book now, but wonderful and one of my favourite books to reference essential oils and astrology. Bergamot is listed under the signs of the sun (fire), Jupiter (fire) and Sagittarius (fire). It relates primarily to the elements of fire and air and pitta/vata in Ayurveda.

    In the tarot, bergamot is related to card #14, the temperance card, which is for balance, moderation, patience, and purpose. “Temperance refers to rebirth and renewal after ‘letting go’.” (2) Although many may not be into tarot cards, they do inspire creative introspection and can be very useful in guiding the inward journey, especially when used in conjunction with journal writing or contemplation.

    This is a lovely quote that summarizes the influence of bergamot and its relation to temperance: “Temperance refers to having the compassion for mistakes and using your ability to heal yourself by correcting imbalances and reconciling opposing beliefs . . . bridging gaps and catalyzing change”. (3)

    In Ayurveda, bergamot clears excessive heat (pitta). Balancing the activity of the hypothalamus, it helps maintain appropriate temperature and temperament. (3)

    Energetically, bergamot fruit is a lemon/green colour, which relates to the third and fourth chakras, the solar plexus (yellow) and heart (green/pink). “The solar plexus aligns with the heart to overcome power and control issues. (Especially where the mind “judges” something as good or bad in a “conflicting: or polarized way). Bergamot releases fear and trauma from the cellular memory of the physical body as the “mental” body becomes clearer and calmer”. (4) Bergamot is well known to relieve depressive patterns (through its guiding “light”) and stress-related conflicting thoughts.

    As our energies assimilate to the energies of the essential oil itself, there is often a

    transformational process of “rebirth” when the heart and solar plexus align. Irritability is calmed and the light of joy returns. Bergamot cools excessive heat in the body, burning away what no longer serves us and “stimulates the body’s etheric thyroid (energetic) to balance the body’s thermostat.” (4) I have also found it to be a very good balancing oil when used in a hormone blend.

    Much of the relationship stress that we encounter might be the relationship to our own nature. Insightful bergamot can “turn on the light” as we continue to discover our own inner nature, and reclaim our essence, hold onto and shine it brightly no matter what is going on in the world around us!

    Repertory suggestions for bergamot

    The Berkowsky repertory (1) is conclusive especially for psycho-spiritual type of considerations. A 2022 edition is now available. It is 152 pages long and divided into three sections: general, emotional, and physical references.

    Considering the theme that much of our recent world is so polarized as we look around us, perhaps blending with bergamot will allow us to see through the confusion that so many of us feel and witness.

    Repertory Considerations:

    • Fatigue: mental
    • Anxiety felt in the heart region
    • Anxiety felt in the stomach
    • Confusion
    • Depression: when alone
    • Duality: sense of Tension

    Essential oils that showed up the most often (intuitively) in relation to the repertory references used:

    • Bergamot—6x
    • Lemon—6x
    • Frankincense—3x
    • Neroli—3x
    • Valerian—3x
    • Cardamom—3x
    • Tuberose—1x
    • Anise—1x
    • Blue chamomile—1x

    How to use this information:

    Create your blend with intention, selecting the essential oils that you have in your kit. If you are doing this with a client, you might present the oils to them to sniff on separate strips, have them line up their favourites in order and remove the ones that they don’t feel an attraction.

    Sometimes with clients this can be challenging as many, if not all, of the oils, might be new to them to sniff and they might not appreciate the effect of the oils, so don’t overwhelm your client. Often I will do intuitive additions too! Or knowledge-based, as the case might be.

    Having said that, a little can go a long way and using just a few of the oils might illuminate the effect for that particular client as we are all very different and sense our situations quite differently.

    In working with any essential oil, the nose knows. There will be a visceral attraction or repulsion and, with that in mind, it is easy to create a blend based on that sense alone. I use scent strips, which are easy and fast for a client to sniff and put in order of their favourites, then create the blend based on their selection.

    Intention is the key to creating the focus for just what the action of the blend is all about to the client, or yourself if it is for you.

    No two people would ever pick the same blend, and that is half the fun of why we love our job as aromatherapists!

    Anita’s Blend:

    Illumination—“fruitful commitment”

    • Seeing the light through times of anxiousness and confusion
    • Relates to mental/emotional aspects as well as physical/spiritual
    • Third and fourth chakra balancer

    Oils selected from list (you can create your own selection):

    • Bergamot 6
    • Lemon 2
    • Frankincense 3
    • Neroli 1
    • Cardamom 2
    • Tuberose (20% dilution) 4

    TOTAL 18

    Blended in a 10 mL roller applicator in oil

    Blend is 6.6% essential oil in dilution

    NOTE: the bergamot in this blend is at 2.2%. If using for psycho-spiritual focus (e.g. using the non-FCF bergamot), apply safety application guidelines or dilute the blend to 10 drops per ounce (30 mL) of carrier oil. Suggested use for psycho-spiritual is the dot on the wrist and sniff method (1). This offers full potency at low application and works fastest directly through the limbic system.

    Otherwise, Eden Botanicals states that “Bergamot FCF is one of the few citrus peel oils that has the benefit of wearability in both perfumes and body oils without the potential risk of phototoxicity”

    Application options:

    • Apply to areas on the body where you feel the anxiety, e.g. solar plexus, heart, etc.
    • Apply to the back of neck area and temples and rub in gently
    • Apply to the soles of the feel and rub together like a foot massage
    • Apply to inner wrists and inhale (dot on if using a stronger dilution)
    • Create a blend and use in a diffuser
    • Create an atomizer blend using water or a hydrosol base (e.g. frankincense or neroli) based on 8 to 10 drops per ounce of carrier. In this case I have found that high- percentage alcohol (perfumer’s alcohol is 195 proof) is an excellent preservative/emulsifier. Use the same percentage as the essential oils in total.


    1. Berkowsky. Spiritual Phyto-Essencing Repertory of Essential Oils. 2022 ed.
    2. Stromkins. The Autonomic Nervous system and Aromatherapy: A Therapists Guide to working with the two systems. 1998
    3. Greer, Mary K. The Essence of Magic: Tarot, Ritual and Aromatherapy. 1993
    4. Eidson, Deborah. Vibrational Healing: Revealing the Essence of Nature through Aromatherapy’s use of Essential Oils. 2000
    5. IFRA 49th amendment standards - May 2020.
    6. Tisserand and Young, Essential Oil Safety: 2013 ed.

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