February 2005

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Food for Love: Aphrodisiacs

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Health & Wellness News:
Essential Oils

by Lisa Stag-Tout, Wellness Manager

Much like beauty, an aphrodisiac is subject to the judgment of the beholder. Named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, aphrodisiacs were thought to arouse sexual desire. These few following essential oils have been called aphrodisiacs for centuries and may warrant some personal experimentation.

Known around the world as the “Queen of Flowers”; indeed, images of Cupid and Venus are crowned with roses. The 17th-century English physician Culpeper wrote that red roses strengthen the heart. This flower has come to symbolize innocence, love, passion, and desire. It takes 10,000 pounds of roses to obtain one pound of oil therefore it is extremely expensive... but worth it.

“Moonlight of the Grove” is an Indian name given to this tropical flower. The rich, narcotic fragrance is most potent at night and the scent becomes more seductive when applied to the skin. It is one of the most expensive essences, and eight million blossoms are needed to make one kilogram of oil.

Used for evoking feelings of deep, languid calm that melt away anxiety. This oil has an intense and somewhat sharp fragrance that is much less expensive than either rose or jasmine, but it is extremely potent in its own right.

A mysterious, earthy aroma that is reminiscent of a dark and steamy jungle. It induces a feeling of gentle clarity and is said to inspire the harmonious flow of emotional energy.

Warm, woody and balancing, this ancient perfume was used in Buddhist and Hindu rituals. It has a molecular structure that is nearly identical to that of testosterone, a human pheromone that is emitted by both sexes.

How to carry an aphrodisiac
Oils used to dilute essential oils are called base or carrier oils. They make essentials oils suitable for massage by providing good lubrication for hands to glide over the skin’s surface. These plant-based oils are beneficial and healing. Not only do they soften the skin and give it elasticity, they support the skin’s ability to function.
(Mineral oil on the other hand is made from petroleum and should not be used for massage with essential oils. It is not a suitable medium because it is not absorbed into the skin. It is a toxin and prevents the skin from functioning effectively.)

Popular carrier oils
Here are some finer points on a few popular carrier oils:

Almond Oil
A fine, light, soothing and healing oil, with excellent penetrating properties. It is completely odorless, good for dry sensitive skin and can help relieve itchiness and swelling.

Apricot Oil
A fine, light textured oil. Good for facial massage and make-up removal. It is expensive, but a very good source of minerals and vitamin A.

Avocado Oil
A heavier oil that plumps up skin because it is absorbed deeply. It may slow the signs of aging and is excellent for facial massage. It’s also useful for relieving the dryness and itch of eczema and psoriasis and contains vitamins A and B.

Borage Oil
Very rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA). A small amount (such as in a capsule) is used as an addition to other carrier oils to treat eczema and psoriasis. Useful as an anti-aging treatment because of its fatty acid content.

Coconut Oil
An extremely rich and luxurious natural moisturizer that is good for stretch marks and helps heal cracked or brittle skin. It is solid, therefore it needs to be warmed before use.

Grapeseed Oil
This is a light, easily absorbed, inexpensive oil which is good for full body massage. It is completely odorless, making it an ideal base for essential oils. Contains vitamin F. This has been my favorite body oil for many years.

Hazelnut Oil
Slightly astringent, so it is good for oily, damaged or combination skins. Easily absorbed but is expensive so dilute with grapeseed or sunflower oil. The slight fragrance mixes well with sandalwood. This oil needs to be refrigerated once opened.

Jojoba Oil
More like a wax than oil, it requires little or no refining, and its chemical composition is close to the skin’s own oil. It has anti-bacterial properties and is rich in vitamin E therefore it resists rancidity and has a very long shelf life. Used for treating many types of skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. It conditions and restores skin, scalp and hair.

Olive Oil
100% extra virgin cold pressed has exceptional disinfecting and wound healing properties. Can be used for infected skin and has been used for ear infections. A very fragrant natural moisturizer, it helps to feed the skin, also softens and lubricates. Used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians for body massage. Makes a useful hair conditioner as it increases the strength of the hair shafts.

Sesame Seed Oil
A fine, light textured oil that has been cultivated in the East for thousands of years. Being almost odorless makes it an ideal base for massage oils. Unrefined sesame oil contains natural protein, vitamins, minerals and lecithin and is excellent for adding to facial massage blends.

St. John’s Wort Oil
A rare herbal oil that can be difficult to find, although we have it (Four Elements/Nature’s Acres). It is a product of blossoms and leaves, steeped for three weeks in base oil and exposed to direct sunlight. A beautiful red color, this oil provides excellent treatment for all types of sores, wounds, burns–especially sun burn, boils, and nerve pain (like lumbago or sciatica).