The Ugly Truth about Essential Oils

It astonishes me how many essential oil companies encourage excessive use of essential oils. These companies are well aware of how much plant matter it takes to make an essential oil, still they promote undiluted use and harmful large doses (yes, one drop of some essential oils can be a large dose).

The amount of plants needed depends on what plant is being used. The amount of oil that is extracted from each batch will fluctuate due to many factors such as temperature and climate, interaction with insects, soil health, fertilizer use, and other natural and human influences.

Since Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia) is so popular and Rose (Rosa damascena) so expensive and exotic, I will use them as our examples.  

Plant Part Needed to make an Essential Oil

Approximate Flowers Needed for a Pound of Essential Oil

 

Approximate Flowers Needed for 30 ml (1 fl. oz) of Essential Oil Approximate Flowers Needed for a Drop of Essential Oil

Lavender flowers

250 pounds 6 pounds

6 stalks

Roses 10,000 pounds 630 pounds

50 roses

References: Crop Watch, Mountain Rose Herbs

As you can see, there is a dramatic difference between how much plant matter it takes to make an ounce of essential oil. What is evident is that it takes A LOT of material to make a small amount of essential oil.

That is why I am so concerned when I hear companies tell people to use essential oils for everything from anxiety to digestive issues.  With the knowledge of how many plants it takes to make even an ounce of essential oils, it is obvious that our current use of essential oils is not sustainable. Why use a highly concentrated essential oil, when inhaling a single flower or drinking a simple cup of herbal tea will do the trick.

If we want the variety of essential oils we enjoy to be available in the future, we should not be using essential oils undiluted, we definitely should not be using them in the irreverent way they are being used now, and we shouldn’t purchase oils from companies that don’t care about sustainability. The greedy practices of MLM companies like Young Living and doTerra, which promote inappropriate and excessive use of essential oils, do not care how their business practices perpetuate habitat extinction and ecological instability across the globe.  All they care about is making more and more money off of destroying our precious plant species.

A prime example is how last year Young Living was sentenced for violating the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act for the illegal trafficking of Rosewood (Aniba roseaodora) essential oil. This is a serious crime, as Aniba roseadora is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Sure Young Living was fined $760,000 for their offense, but the Justice Department calculates the market value of Rosewood essential oil they sold to be between $3.5-$9 million. Young Living made a pretty penny off their crime as they contributed to the decimation of one of our many endangered species. Way to go! Not really the values of a company I want to support.

In my 5 Element Essential Oil Blends I use the least amount of essential oil possible to elicit the aromatic properties I want in each of my 5 Element creations. I think it is extremely important to educate people on the importance of conservative use of our plant medicines. The enthusiasm for these precious oils is potent, and I know you want to use these precious oils. It is absolutely imperative, we use them wisely. If you want to learn more more about aromatherapy and on how to properly dilute essential oils, watch my video on Dilution & Frequency of Essential Oils

We have to use our dollars wisely and hold companies (and each other) accountable for our actions, or I fear there won’t be many plant species for our future generations. It will take all of us doing our part. I’m glad we’re on this journey together.  

To hear more about aromatherapy, herbalism, and Chinese medicine subscribe to my Youtube channel (new videos coming soon!) and my podcast, The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker.

With love (and hope),

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica Baker, LAc, RH (AHG)

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

SaveSave

Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soak

My feet ached after three nights of dancing to one of my favorite bands, STS9. Two of those nights were at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which boasts 380 stairs to the top. Needless to say, I needed to soak my feet!

I pulled out my resin foot bowl, filled it hot water, threw in flowers, sea salt, and a couple of drops of essential oil, grabbed a book (Educated by Tara Westover- not the best book when trying to relax, but a must read if you haven’t), a joint, a glass of water, and chilled. It was beautiful.

And not something I do often enough. As I sat there feeling the warmth of the salt water and the aroma of the herbs work their magic, I began to breathe long deep breaths of relief. The intensity of the last couple of months moved through me and freed up tension that entangled my muscles and my mind.

After three eclipses, everything retrograde, and moving into production of my essential oil line, I finally felt like myself again. The effects of a little self-love and recognition for the transformations I have gone through are still marinating, but it feels good. Like I will transcend into loving myself for exactly who I am.

I share my Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soothing Soak recipe with you, but I encourage you to choose whichever flowers and herbs you need that day.

Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soothing Soak 

Handful of Sea Salt (can use Epsom salt)

Handful of dried Organic Rose petals

3 sprigs of fresh Tulsi Basil (from my friend Willow’s yard)

3 sprigs of fresh Garden Sage (from my yard)

6 sprigs of fresh Mints (variety from my yard)

2 drops of Lavender essential oil  

Muddle the herbs and add to footbath (bin, or tub big enough to fit both feet), along with the salt. Fill the bath 1/4-1/2 full with water that has been boiled. Add enough cold water to have your feet rest comfortably. Add essential oil and disperse it in the water. Take a moment of gratitude as you immerse your soles in the warm liquid. Soak your feet for as long as you feel like it. Keep adding hot water (it’s awesome if you have someone boiling water and replenishing it for you, but that could be wishful thinking). After you dry your feet, apply coconut oil liberally. Pour the herbal water into your grass or garden. Give thanks for the nourishment they provide.

If you don’t have a bin or tub large enough to fit both feet, or your body wants it, make this a bath soak instead of a foot soak.

Take care of those souls. And remember to keep on dancing.

If you want more herbal recipes, check out my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine from Balboa Press.

With love,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Overcoming Fear- One Inhale at a Time

I’ve been fighting the urge to be in a bad mood for a couple of weeks now. There are all kinds of things I can blame it on- politics, regulatory agencies, conservatives. The reality is, I am irritated with myself.

With all of the injustices in the world I don’t feel as if I’m doing enough. I talk a good talk, but there have been weeks of just feeling hopeless and not accomplishing anything. I haven’t wanted to rush out to volunteer or march because it’s been hard to even be around people. I’ll be honest crowds have been intimidating lately.

And that irritates me- because I know that media and politicians love to spread fear and me not wanting to be in crowds is a direct effect of their propaganda.

I’m over feeling paralyzed and frustrated. I’m over blaming “them” for my discontent.

I’ve been seeing so much on social media about self-care being the most important thing you can do to help others.  I agree, kind of. Yes self-care is the most important thing I can do- at first. Then I have to do more. We have to do more. Just getting massages and taking time to walk in the woods is actually not enough to change the world. Time and time again, it is direct action that works.

I am at a place again where my anger is no longer stifling me, but preparing me for action. The challenge for me is to fuel this action with love and compassion and not fear and hate (which is sometimes easier said than done!) I always have my faithful herbal allies, reminding me that an open mind and calm heart is the only way forward.

Besides fueling myself with black tea (I have been adding rose petals to balance it out- does that count?), I’ve been using my Water Element Courage essential oil blend. I formulated these blends with the intentions and energies of each of the five elements of Chinese medicine. The Water Element is associated with Zhi, our determination and willpower. When we have conviction, purpose and vitality, our Water Element is balanced and we are able to respond with courage and resiliency. When our Water Element is depleted, we may experience fatigue, lack of control, or fear, which further drains our reserves.

The essential oils in the Courage blend can help bring the Water Element back into balance so that we may be the change we want to see in the world.

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)- for metal/water connection

Wild Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)- for calmness and serenity

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)- for relaxation of body and mind

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanoides)- for rooting deep into your principles and desires

To order Courage or other 5 Element Blends, check out my new website www.bakerbotanica.com

With love,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Finally! 5 Element Essential Oil Blends

It is an auspicious day that I should have my 5 Element Essential Oil Blends available on the Full Moon in Capricorn! I feel like I have finally made it to the top of a mountain riddled with self-doubt and fear. I overcame it all and finally have my creations to offer the world! Please spread the word far and wide- we’re shifting the paradigm around essential oils!

I started Baker Botanica because I believe we need a sane, educated voice when it comes to essential oils. We need advocates for sustainability within the aromatherapy and herbal industries. We need opposing forces to the MLM companies that dominate the market and promote excessive and unsafe use of essential oils. One of the largest essential oil companies on the market, Young Livingjust got a HUGE fine ($760,000) for illegal trafficking of rosewood oil and spikenard oil in violation of the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act (Check out the sentencing on the Department of Justice website). Is this really who should be at the top of of the essential oil industry? Are these the people who should educate on how to work with plants?!

I also created these seasonal solutions to honor the natural cycles of the cosmos according Passion Baker Botanicato Chinese Medicine. As the seasons shift, so do we. At times these shifts can be difficult or unsettling. The elemental blends are meant to help with the transition and the energy of each season. For example, Passion, is the blend I created for the Fire elementThe Fire element corresponds to Summer, the color red (or pink), joy, passion, love, and creativity, the energies of the heart and pericardium,

If you need your  passion flared or to find more joy in life, the Fire Element Blend was created for you.

May these oils bring you Clarity (Wood), Passion (Fire), Balance (Earth), Resolve (Metal), and Courage (Winter). 

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Honeysuckle Honey Recipe

Heaven is walking around my neighborhood this time of year! Along with the Linden Roses, and Lilacs, one of my favorite aromas erupt from the Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) that spread wherever they are planted.

In my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine, I share messages (songs)

Chapter 5 Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle by Jason Garcia

that were gifted to me from the plants I encounter. Honeysuckle reminds us that to grow we must

Dissolve & Evolve

Honeysuckle is your ally to remind yourself that you are worthy and capable of accepting divine love and compassion. It is when we can dissolve into the discernment of our own hearts that we evolve into the people we long to be.

Honeysuckle Honey

–       1 cup fresh honeysuckle flowers (Make sure they are not sprayed)

–       2 cups honey

Place honey and flowers in the top of a double boiler and heat on low for 20-30 minutes. Turn off heat and strain out flowers. Store honey in a glass jar. Add a teaspoon to black or herbal tea.

Fresh Honeysuckle Tea

Gather a handful of fresh honeysuckle flowers. Boil 2 cups of water. Pour hot water over flowers. Cover cup with lid. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain out flowers and compost plant material. Slowly drink the fragrant tea. Sweeten tea with honeysuckle honey.

To find out more about herbalism through my blog, podcast, and other offerings, check out my website, Baker Botanica.

With love,

cropped-jessicabaker 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: from permies.com

Fragrant Flower Tea Recipe

My daily walks around Denver are so aromatic this time of year. Everywhere there are roses, dogwoods, cottonwoods, and lilacs wafting their gifts my way. The rain has made everyone vibrant and green, coming to life after winter.

All of their beauty has inspired me to share a recipe from the Rose chapter of my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine. I hope Rose fills you with as much love as she has me.

Rose’s Song: Love Yourself, Everyday

Fragrant Flower Tea

Harvest a handful of roses, daisies, calendula, violet flowers and any other edible flower (make sure they are not sprayed with pesticides). If using lavender, use only a small amount, as it can taste soapy. Pour hot water over flowers and cover completely. Steep for 20 minutes in a glass jar with lid on. Strain flowers and collect water in a glass quart jar. Drink the tea throughout the day to open your heart and promote relaxation.

If you’d like to order your copy of Plant Songs, go to Balboa Press or Amazon.

With much love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Rose created by Jason Garcia 

Cannabis Chai Recipe

To get us all ready for the big cannabis celebration tomorrow (420) I thought I’d share one of the recipes from my book, Plant Songs.

I hope you enjoy this chai as much as I do. Not only is it delicious, you’ll feel pretty good too!

Cannabis Chai

–       3 grams dried cannabis flowers

–       1 tablespoon Assam or Darjeeling

–       1 crushed cardamom pod

–       1 inch piece of fresh ginger root

–       1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

–       1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel

–        1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Simmer 4 ounces water, 4 ounces of milk (the fattier the better—whole milk or coconut milk), and all ingredients together for 20 minutes. Strain out cannabis and other ingredients and set aside. Drink 2-4 ounces of the tea as needed to promote appetite, reduce nausea or as a gentle relaxer. 

To enjoy this recipe and others, order Plant Songs today!

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Finding Peace in Frustration

Today I find myself super irritable. I could blame it on the rising Wood energy of spring or all the political upheaval, but the truth is it is all me. I am letting the little (and big) things bother me. Instead of breathing through the stress, I am stewing it in, allowing my frustration to build until it erupts like a volcano, spewing on whoever is closest.

It’s one of those days when I’m like, “maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all since I can’t find nice ways to say it.” Then I’m like, “fuck that.” Which is my affirmation that I should think before I speak so I don’t say things I will regret.

Today I have to consciously breathe deeply. I have to skillfully navigate the turbulent waters of my own psyche. I have to find positivity among the negative speak of my mind. I have to remember that I am flawed and am a work in progress.

That being said, today I’m just going to find peace however I can. Walking among the budding trees help, so does drinking my herbal tea. I will diffuse my Vetiver and Lavender essential oils and try to be nicer to myself and others. I won’t beat myself up for feeling like this, but I will reflect on what is really bothering me so I can move past the anger and be more compassionate next time. My herbal allies help every time.

If you want to find out more about herbalism or how you can utilize plants for well-being, check out my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Energetics of Dandelion

Spring has arrived in Denver with sunshine, wind, and even a little rain. I am in no denial that we can have more snowstorms, but I am excited to see all the new growth popping up everywhere.

The dandelions are back! The bright yellow flowers are reaching for the sun, while that taproot is digging deep into the earth, defying those grubby hands that want to pull it out. I haven’t seen any bees yet, but I’m sure they’re waking from their slumber and will be buzzing around soon. They love dandelion like herbalists do.

Instead of thinking of dandelion as a noxious weed, think of it as one of the first foods that spring has to offer. The umbrella of yellow a reflection of the long, warm days ahead.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Western Energetics:

leaf, flower- bitter, salty, cool

root- bitter, cool

 Chinese Energetics:

entire plant- bitter, sweet, cold

Therapeutic Actions:

Clears heat and toxicity from the blood

Reduces nodules and sores

Promotes urination

Reduces congestion of bile

Promotes lactation

Vitamins:

A, C, E, K, B1, B2, B6

Minerals:

Calcium, Magnesium, Folate, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Copper

Fiber:

Contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that enhances the production of healthy gut bacteria

 Dandelion greens and flowers are a delicious addition to your salads, soups, and steamed veggies. May you see dandelion in a more appreciative light!

For the love of plants,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Steamed Spring Greens Recipe

Spring has always been one of my favorite times of year. I yearn for longer days and I thrive when the sun is out! Although it snowed in Denver this week, I can still feel spring stirring in the air. The tulips are blooming and buds are beginning to form on the trees that line the streets. I even saw my first squirrel scampering through the alley. We are all feeling the regeneration that comes along with spring.

In Chinese medicine, spring is associated with the Wood element. The organ systems of the Wood element are liver and gallbladder, which is one reason people like to do liver cleanses in springtime. The energy is generating- as we see the creation of life that begins as plants sprout and grow. The color is green, another obvious sign of spring, the taste is sour, and the emotions that may come up for us are compassion (when Wood is in balance) or anger and frustration (when Wood is out of balance).

When someone is angry or frustrated we say that the liver qi (energy) is stagnant. We can promote movement of liver qi by exercise, meditation (especially moving meditation like qi gong or yoga), eating foods that are easy to digest, and ingesting herbs that are appropriate for your constitution.

One easy way to help move liver qi after a long, cold winter is to eat the tender greens of the herbs that are sprouting around you. Here’s a simple recipe that your liver will love!

Steamed Spring Greens

Gather a handful of leaves of dandelion, plantain, violet, miner’s lettuce, yarrow, and any other edible leaves that grow where you live. Add the leaves to a handful of your favorite store bought greens- kale, chard, collard, etc.

Lightly steam the store bought and harvested greens until they just get soft. Pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar over the greens. Eat and enjoy!

Make sure the greens you harvest aren’t growing in an area that is sprayed with pesticides-many people love to spray our precious dandelion, as if it’s nothing but a noxious weed!

For the love of plants,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows