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Top essential oils for folk medicine and herbal home remedies

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

essential oil marjoramBefore the days of pharmacies and hospitals, essential oils were used as herbal remedies for a variety of maladies as folk medicine, and many people today believe that even with modern medicine, the reputed healing properties of these natural oils should not be ignored.

They may very well be on to something. Modern day scientists have studied the effects of inhaling the aromas of essential oils, as well as the effects of applying them topically to the skin, and have confirmed much of what herbalists have believed for centuries.

Essential oils are quite literally the life force inside plants, hence the term “essential” oil. The word “essential” has its origins in the Latin word essentia, referring to an inseparable, often abstract quality of something or someone, like the soul or spirit. The energy and nutrients contained within a plants essential oil is retained when the oil is extracted and can be passed onto people via inhalation (aromatherapy) and/or topically by massaging the oil into the skin.

Now that you have a better understanding of how ancient and modern day healers have unraveled the mysterious benefits of essential oils, here is a list of some top essential oils used for folk medicine and the types of conditions for which they are best suited.

Types of essential oils explained

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Not all essential oils are created equal

Did you know there are multiple types of essential oils? We’re not talking about the difference between essential oils and synthetic fragrance oils, nor are we referring to the fact that there are so many essential oil scents from which to choose. We’re talking about how two bottles of the essential oil of lavender can have very different scents and aromatherapy effects.

“How can this be?” you may ask. “Shouldn’t all lavender smell and perform alike?” The answer is, “No.”

Different species = different scents

essential oil lavenderIf you were to travel to your nearest plant nursery in search of some tomatoes to plant in your vegetable garden, you’d see several different varieties of tomato plants, some labeled “Early Girl,” and others labeled “Cherry Tomato” or “Better Bush.” Each of these produces fruit that is slightly different from any other type of tomato plant because they are different species within the tomato plant family. The same is true of the plants used to produce essential oils. Different species produce different scents.

Now, to return to the example of lavender, you may now (correctly) surmise that the common name “lavender” does not refer to just one plant but a family of plants, all with similar but not identical characteristics.

Location matters

In addition to differentiation in species, the location in which a plant is grown can also affect the scent and aromatherapy properties of its essential oil. Continuing with the lavender example, French Fine High Altitude Lavender often has a much sweeter aroma than lavender grown in low-altitude eastern Europe.

Click here to see a breakdown of the various types of lavender by growing location.

Therapeutic grade essential oils

Every essential oil is assigned a therapeutic grade, which is determined by the quality of the plants used to produce it, the method by which the oil was extracted from the plants, and the oil’s purity. Low therapeutic grade essential oils may not be Certified Organic or wild-crafted, and are often diluted and used as little more than fragrances.

High therapeutic grade essential oils contain a higher percentage of pure oil and come from plants that were grown using organic farming practices. They retain most if not all of their aromatherapy and skin care benefits, and can be used by aromatherapists and herbalists therapeutically. The highest therapeutic grade essential oils contain 100% pure oil from organic and wild-crafted plant sources.

Find out which therapeutic grade essential oils Castle Baths uses  here.

Of course, like any crop, the weather plays an important role in determining the quality of the plants harvested, which in turn, affects the quality of the resulting oils. A bad season and crop can mean relying on supplies of a particular essential oil from previous years and drive prices up. But now at least you have a better understanding of the various types of essential oils available and the care that goes into preserving their quality from the field to your skin.

Essential Oils vs Fragrance Oils: What’s the Difference?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

essential oilsaromatherapy scents

Allergies to synthetic fragrances are common – try products scented in essential oils instead

Do the scented spa products you see in big box stores give you headaches or make you feel nauseous? Are you hesitant to try lotions and bath salts with aromatherapy benefits because you worry that their scents will be overpowering? Have you become convinced that you’re allergic to scents and can only use unscented products?

If the only spa products you’ve tried have come from large retail chain stores, you may not be as allergic to scented spa products as you think you are. Many of the scented products you see lining the shelves of these stores have been scented with artificially created fragrance oils, which have been concocted from a mix of chemicals. Cosmetics manufacturers are not legally required to disclose all the ingredients they use to manufacture their fragrances, and as a result, many of the chemicals they use can be quite harsh and irritating to your skin and your nose.

The lotions, bath salts, soaps, and oils you’ll find online at Castle Baths, however, are scented in pure, natural essential oils, not synthetic fragrance oils. As such, they are much less likely to cause allergic reactions, and deliver real aromatherapy benefits.

Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils: Aromatherapy Benefits

 

essential oil - geranium rose

Fragrance oils are exactly that, fragrances; they just smell nice (or not so nice as the case may be.) Essential Oils, on the other hand, have real aromatherapy benefits. Spa products scented in essential oils retain the aromatherapy benefits of the herbs and flowers from which the oils were extracted. You can find multiple scientific studies on the effectiveness of aromatherapy here.

You can learn more about the essential oils we use and the aromatherapy benefits of the scents we’ve created by blending various essential oils together here.

A few of the essential oils we use do have allergy warnings, such as those derived from ragweed or pine. You can find disclosures regarding potential allergic reactions to such oils in the additional information tab on our product pages.

So, if you’re ready to end your exile from the world of scented spa products, come check out our aromatherapy essential oil blends!

Dead Sea Bath Salts: most popular aromatherapy blends and staff picks

Friday, October 18th, 2013

If you enjoy taking long hot baths complete with scented bath salts don’t settle for those cheap salts you see in the bath and body departments of large box stores! All bath salts are not created equally, and you tend to get what you pay for. Commercial bath salts that use Epsom salt as their primary ingredient can be quite drying to the skin. They may also be scented with synthetic fragrance oils (which can cause headaches in some people) rather than pure essential oils.

There’s no getting around it. If you want a real luxury bathing experience, you need to use pure, authentic Dead Sea bath salts. The act of bathing in the waters of the Dead Sea has been regarded as a luxurious indulgence for centuries, and with good reason. The waters of the Dead Sea have demonstrated unique regenerative powers in numerous scientific studies.

Dead Sea Salt in particular has been proven scientifically to help with aches and pains, as well as reduce the likelihood of stiffness after exercising. Dead Sea Salt is also extremely helpful for detox purposes, as it helps remove impurities from your skin’s pores while feeding your skin with much-needed minerals. Dead Sea bath salts that have been scented in essential oils carry the additional aromatherapy benefits that can range from resting a headache to aphrodisiac properties. It all depends on which essential oil blend you choose.

Some of our most popular aromatherapy bath salts

Castle Baths offers a wide selection of bath salts, all of which are made with pure, authentic Dead Sea Salt imported from the Dead Sea. Below are some of our customers’ favorites, as well as our personal staff picks:

bath salts sdSweet Dreams Conditioning Soak (staff pick) – our Sweet Dreams Conditioning Soak combines the rejuvenating powers of Dead Sea Salt with the moisturizing power of Unrefined Cocoa Butter and the relaxing aromatherapy benefits of our proprietary Sweet Dreams essential oil blend (combining the essential oils of lavender and vanilla) for a truly exceptional bathing experience! These sweetly scented salts will help put your mind at ease while conditioning your skin to help you achieve that coveted silky smooth look – perfect for a late evening bath just before going to bed!

dead sea salts - prPrayer Dead Sea Bath Salts for the Soul – the very first Castle Baths aromatherapy spa products ever created, this floral fruity bath salt blend has been a hit from the very beginning, and has grown in popularity each year since. Originally formulated to ship with Castle Baths founder Laura Thomas’ spiritual memoir How to Have Purr-fect Faith, Even at a Cat Show in an effort to entice people to read the book, this aromatherapy bath salt remains a staple for anyone who, like Laura, loves to meditate and pray while taking a long relaxing warm bath.

 

green tea infusion bath saltsGreen Tea Infusion Dead Sea Bath Salts – when it comes to detox, this Dead Sea Salt blend means business. It combines the detox powers of pure, authentic Dead Sea Salt with the high antioxidant content of organic green tea to help purify your skin of pollutants without having to go on risky diets or undergo expensive spa treatments. Green tea also delivers uplifting and cheering aromatherapy benefits – a truly rejuvenating bath salt from Castle Baths’ Exotic Earth spa line!

 

bath salts - eucalyptusSexy Eucalyptus Bath Salts (staff pick) – Remember when we said that some aromatherapy blends have aphrodisiac properties? Case in point right here! We call this blend “Sexy Eucalyptus” for a reason. Both men and women love its sexy, stimulating aroma – perfect for a bath for two! Also, if you’re feeling under the weather, our Sexy Eucalyptus Bath Salts have shown to be helpful in opening up all your senses and helping you feel more revived. Containing nothing but pure authentic Dead Sea Salt and the essential oil of eucalyptus, this aromatherapy bath salt is simple yet amazingly effective!

Do you have a favorite Dead Sea bath salt or aromatherapy scent? Tell us! We may just feature your story in our next blog!

4 New Natural Soaps for Men and Women!

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

If you haven’t browsed Castle Baths’ natural soap selection recently, you may wish to do so, as we are offering four new natural soaps. We now offer natural soaps in the following scents: berry vanilla parfait, forest glen, naked hemp, and Sherwood Forest.

berry vanilla parfait natural soapOur Berry Vanilla Parfait Natural Soap encapsulates the aroma of freshly picked berries and the thrill of getting your favorite parfait at the local ice cream store. Not only does its black currant and vanilla aromatherapy blend give this bar of natural soap a candy-like aroma, these particular essential oils are also reputed to have numerous health benefits according to experts in folk medicine and aromatherapy.

forest glen natural soapOur Forest Glen Natural Soap brings the woodsy aroma of balsam to your bathroom or kitchen – a scent that works great for waking up your senses in the morning! In addition to a pleasant woodsy scent, this bar of natural soap also brings with it some unique aromatherapy benefits, to include a feeling of oneness with nature, calmness, peace, and contentment.

naked hemp natural soap for menOur Naked Hemp Natural Soap for Men is one of the latest additions to our Tre’Yours for Men line, featuring anti aging skin care products just for him. This bar of natural soap is made with hemp seed oil and the essential oil of eucalyptus to help inspire its user with the confidence of James Bond for an exciting date night. Men love it, and women love it when men use it! Plus, hemp seed oil has many anti aging benefits (nice bonus!)

sherwood forest natural soapOur Sherwood Forest Natural Soap for Men is another new addition to our Tre’Yours for Men line, and the men’s equivalent of our Forest Glen Natural Soap. Our Sherwood Forest Natural Soap, while appearing nearly identical to our Forest Glen soap, contains slightly less lavender for a more masculine woodsy aroma that is still just as invigorating. Whether it be for its unique balsam-like scent or the skin care benefits of its natural ingredients, this bar of natural soap will leave you a merry man!

So, the next time you are getting ready for a night out and want to give yourself a distinctive scent, don’t bother with that chemical-filled bottle of cologne or perfume. Experience what natural soap can do for you, your skin, and your social life!

Massage Oil for more than just massages?

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Using massage oil as body oil for intense moisture

massage oil - sweet communionCastle Baths’ massage oils make a great treat for when you want to go the extra step when giving or receiving a massage. But did you know, our massage oils can be used for much more than just giving massages?

Many people who shop for massage oils at Castle Baths do so with the intention of using our massage oils as body oil. If you suffer from chronic dry skin, using one of our aromatherapy massage oils as body oil may actually serve you better than some of our other body moisturizers.

As you may or may not recall from our previous blog articles and website, dry skin lacks oil, whereas dehydrated skin lacks water. The synthetic cosmetics industry has led many people to believe that oil is bad for your skin – and that it will make you break out with acne. While this may be the case for some people, others with extremely dry skin may need a generous dose of oil in their skin care products to reduce their chances of developing premature wrinkles.

rice bran oil for skinOur massage oils, a.k.a. body oils are also great for people with sensitive skin, as they consist of only two ingredients: cold pressed rice bran oil, and the essential oil aromatherapy blend of your choice (we offer seven varieties.) When it comes to sensitive skin, the fewer ingredients in your skin care products, the better, as there is less chance of irritation from the blend of two or three ingredients than from the 20 chemicals you’d find in a synthetic product.

massage oil - jubileeLast but not least, you may just want to experience the soothing effects of our natural massage oils without having to find someone to actually give you a massage. There are so many reasons why so many people love indulging their skin in luxurious natural body oil.

Do you have a preference on whether to use massage oil for massages or as body oil? Tell us! We may just feature your story in a future blog!

Essential Oils for Greater Healing and Beauty

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

If you’re interested in aromatherapy, you likely already know that long before the days of mass-marketed pharmaceuticals, essential oils played a vital role not only in the fragrance industry, but also in healing – as they were used as natural, herbal remedies for many common ailments.  A fact of which you may not yet be aware, however, is that almost all of the folk traditions surrounding the use of essential oils for healing purposes have scientific evidence to support their herbal claims.

essential oil peppermintIn fact, many essential oils serve as the active ingredient (under a different name) in many over-the-counter and prescription medications. For example, the essential oil of peppermint is used in the prescription digestive aid Colperin, and many other drugs intended to treat indigestion (ever wonder why Peptol Bismol tastes minty?)

Though industry regulation prohibits anyone from claiming that essential oils can cure, prevent, or treat any injury or illness completely, there are many oils in addition to peppermint oil that have been shown to have beneficial effects on the human mind and body when applied topically or through steam inhalation. If you are interested in experimenting with essential oils for folk remedies, this chart of common essential oils for folk medicine should help you decide which ones you may wish to try.

One of the many reasons so many essential oils have been shown to be beneficial to health is that nearly all of them have disinfectant properties. So the next time you want to eliminate a foul-smelling odor from your home, instead of reaching for that aerosol can of chemical-based air freshener, you may wish to try making your own natural spray with one or more of these disinfecting essential oils.

Essential oils also make great natural skin care solutions. When used topically, they can help normalize troubled skin, help reduce the appearance of cellulite or wrinkles, and give your skin a golden glow unmatched by any synthetic body moisturizer. Additionally, essential oils will not linger in your skin’s deep layers and/or clog your pores as synthetic cosmetics so often do  (and if they do remain in your system to some degree after accomplishing their aromatherapy purpose, there’s no harm to you, as they are infusing your body with natural vitamins and moisture – not chemicals.)

If you are interested in learning more about the healing powers of essential oils, consider scheduling an aromatherapy massage with a local aromatherapist. Not only will it feel great, but it will give you the opportunity to discuss your aromatherapy goals with a professional and discover which oils you should try using at home. Who knows? He or she may even recommend you purchase your essential oils from Castle Baths!

What you NEED to know about spa gift baskets for people undergoing chemotherapy

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

spa gift basketSending a friend or loved one a get well spa gift basket is a wonderful way to show someone who has been hospitalized that you care. But, if that person has been hospitalized for cancer, and is undergoing or has undergone chemotherapy, you will need to think carefully about what types of spa products your gift basket includes.

If you’re a spa aficionado or you’ve been following our previous blog posts, you may know that there are five different skin types: normal, oily, dry/dehydrated, combination, and sensitive. The fact you must remember when selecting spa products for a chemo patient is that all post-chemo skin is sensitive skin, regardless of what type the patient had before undergoing treatment. A chemo patient’s normal skin type will reassert itself in time, but for several days, and sometimes even weeks after treatment, his or her skin will react like that of someone with very sensitive skin.

As such, spa products containing synthetic chemicals should be avoided whenever possible, as these may do more harm than good where the patient’s skin is concerned. Synthetic fragrances should also be avoided as these will cause the chemo patient to become nauseous and possibly develop headaches.

This does not mean, however, that every product you include in your spa gift basket must be unscented. Products that are scented with pure essential oils, rather than artificial fragrance oils, should be perfectly fine. They may even help speed your friend or loved one’s recovery along through aromatherapy.

Make sure your gift basket includes at least one type of body moisturizer, as post-chemo skin, in addition to being extremely sensitive, will be extremely dehydrated. If left untreated, post-chemo skin can even show symptoms of eczema such as peeling and cracking.

You or your recovering friend or loved one may also notice an unpleasant metallic smell emanating from within his or her skin. This is caused by the use of heavy metals in chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. So make sure your gift basket includes something to help deep-cleanse skin, detoxifying pores while masking odor. Bath salts are a great natural way to accomplish this.

Castle Baths is here to help you, your friends, and your loved ones stay beautiful, inside and out. If you have any questions regarding aromatherapy and chemo or are uncertain what you should and should not include in your gift basket, please ask us. We hope all of your friends and loved ones who are ill or injured feel better. Be sure to check back with us next week for more skin care education and tips.

What are essential oils, and why are they so essential?

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

If you’ve explored the Castle Baths website, you know that almost all of our products contain essential oils. But if you’re new to aromatherapy, you might be wondering, “What exactly are essential oils, and why are they so essential?”

Essential oils are the molecules responsible for giving plants their scent. The reason a lavender plant smells like lavender is because of its essential oils. These oils flow through the leaves, bark, flower petals, or fruit of plants. They function as the plant’s immune system, circulatory system, and endocrine system, allowing the plant to fight off insects and disease, heal wounds, and attract animals to pollinate and fertilize it for reproduction. Centuries ago, these oils were considered to be the “essence” or “inner nature” of plants, similar to what we would call the soul in humans, hence the term “essential oils.”

Some essential oils can only be derived from the flower petals of a plant, and thus, require more plants to produce a usable amount of oil. These types of essential oils are called absolutes, and are typically more expensive than oils that can be derived from bark, leaves, stems, or fruit.

Essential oils are essential in the literal sense as well, as they are necessary for the plant to survive and propagate. As stated, they are responsible for healing and protecting the plant, among other functions. These healing properties can be passed on to humans via inhalation of the aroma of these oils, a process termed “aromatherapy” in modern days. Depending on which aromas you inhale, essential oils can help you feel relaxed, energized, or even sexual. Essential oils are not synonymous with carrier oils such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. Carrier oils, while containing numerous skin care benefits such as moisturizing, are unscented and have no aromatherapy benefits.

Essential oils are extracted from their respective plants in laboratories via a process known as steam distillation. The process begins with the intact plant being suspended over boiling water while being housed in  a closed container to prevent steam from escaping. The steam causes the essential oils to evaporate from the plant and travel upwards with the steam to the top of the container, where it enters a tube surrounded by cold water. The cold water forces the evaporated oil to return to its liquid state, as pure oil. It typically takes dozens if not hundreds of plants to produce even one ounce of pure essential oil.

The resulting oil is extremely potent, and a little goes a long way. Just one drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to the concentration of 20 peppermint tea bags. Often, the resulting oils will be blended with other essential oils to create unique, proprietary scents such as Castle Baths Classic line of aromatherapy products, which include the following scents:

  • Bathsheba – aromatherapy benefits include inspiring confidence and a romantic mood
  • Passion – aromatherapy benefits include arousal, stimulating of sexuality, and inspiring confidence
  • Jubilee – aromatherapy benefits include energizing of the mind and mody
  • Prayer – aromatherapy benefits include relaxation and helping people reach a spiritual, meditative state of mind
  • Restoration – aromatherapy benefits include helping to soothe feminine woes of midlife and relaxation
  • Sweet Communion – aromatherapy benefits include relaxation and helping to restore emotional balance
  • Sweet Dreams – aromatherapy benefits include relaxation and helping people reach a restful state of mind so they can drift off to sleep naturally

More information on specific essential oils and their uses can be found on Castle Baths’ essential oil page. Information on specific carrier oils we use in the making of our products can be found on Castle Baths ingredients page. Happy reading, and be sure to check our blog again next week too, as we will have new aromatherapy and skin care insights to share.

Start Your Teen off Naturally Stress Free

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Our kids are growing up faster and have longer working years ahead of them than ever before – show your teenager how to naturally take care of their skin as well as relieve stress. After all, they will need this skill and this is advice that will be used on a daily basis (unlike some of your other advice)!

Sometimes, as adults, we forget how very stressful being a teenager can be. Hormones are all over the place, large decisions about where their life will head are coming up quickly and self-confidence is almost always an issue. Help your teen to be self assured, confident, and ready to face the changes and challenges that God has in store for them by teaching them how to relieve stress and protect their skin in a natural, healthy way.

Relieving Stress

It is imperative in the stressful, busy world we have brought our children into, that they learn how to relax and let stressful emotions go on a daily basis.  Our Sweet Dreams scent can be found in several different product types ( bath tea, aromatherapy oils, etc.) and will help your teen to relax, sleep well, and be ready for another day in their busy life.

Natural Skin Care

Nothing seems more important when you are a teenager than your appearance.  If your teen suffers from lack of confidence in their skin appearance, it may be the kind of face wash that is being applied. See this video on the difference that a natural body wash makes versus a leading competitor’s body wash.

If you have a specific situation, and would like to discuss how our natural products could be used or applied to help, please contact us at (757) 788-8157 or by email.