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How to make an oil extract of Frankincense and other oleoresins

Frankincense oleo-resin extracted from Boswellia Neglecta.

  How to extract the healing properties of Frankincense and other oleo-resins

There is increasing information online about the healing properties of the different types of Frankincense. Notably, the Boswellic acid family including AKBA which make up a large proportion of the resin in these oleo-gum-resins. In general, they all share anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which make them ideal for many external and internal applications. Phytochemicals in Frankincense have been proven useful for arthritis,  rheumatism, cancer, ulcers, colitis, brain injuries, depression, and much more. They are especially useful in cremes, oils and salves to help rejuvenate the skin, increase elasticity, reduce wrinkles and signs of aging. Many of these healing compounds can be absorbed through the skin and are able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Oleo-resins are composed of volatile oils, or essential oils, and resins which are not volatile and cannot be separated via water or steam distillation. Though we rely heavily on essential oils to deliver the therapeutic properties of  plants in our medicine and cosmetics,  many of  Frankincense’s therapeutic properties reside in its resin portion. Boswellic acid, lately researched and promoted heavily for its anti-cancer properties is one of many heavier therapeutic compounds that are not naturally present in the distilled essential oils

Frankincense Sacra/Carterii and Frankincense Papyrifera
Frankincense Sacra/Carterii, top, and Frankincense Papyrifera

The whole oleo-resin provides a broader spectrum of phytochemicals, and from a holistic and synergistic point of view more effective than the isolated essential oils.

There is not much information on processing oleo-resins online, nor is there an abundance of research available on the many types of Frankincense compared to other medicinal Herbs.  This is slowly changing as the interest in therapeutic properties of oleo-resins increases.

A great number of the tree oleo-resins in our little garden world hold therapeutic properties that we have used for thousands of years, long before distilled essential oils were commonly available. Mastic, Spruce, Pine, Fir, Opoponax, Myrrh, Frankincense and many others have been highly valued for their healing properties. We are only beginning to appreciate the degree of their healing potential.

Extracting Oleo-resins

Finely ground Frankincense oleoresins for extractions
Finely ground Frankincense oleo-resins for extraction. From left-Boswellia Papyrifera, Boswellia Neglecta, Boswellia Rivae.

Oleo-resins are usually extracted via volatile solvents.  The most common are ethanol and petroleum distillates. Once the oleo-resin is separated from any water-soluble gum and foreign material, the solvent is evaporated and the remaining sticky mass utilized.

Another approach is to use non-volatile solvents such as vegetable oils and animal fats to extract the therapeutic compounds from oleoresins. They are much gentler than many volatile solvents, do not harm the environment in their production, use and disposal and pose no threat to our health in topical or internal applications. They are easy to make, purchase and use, they break down and decompose without adding toxins to the environment, and are safe and easy enough to use in any kitchen and home. Using non-volatile solvents creates new opportunities for self care and making our own medicine.

Non-volatile solvents for Frankincense oleo-resins

 Frankincense oleo-resin extracted from Boswellia Neglecta.
Frankincense oleo-resin extracted from Boswellia Neglecta with Olive oil.  Originally made as a chest rub for respitory releif. After using it for a year and collecting feedback from other users, I am forced to change its description and application. Rubbed on the chest, it is a surprisingly effective treatment for anxiety, panic attacks and tightness of the chest. It quickly removes the sharp physical pangs of anxiety, lifts and lightens the chest, eases and deepens breathing even during an Asthma attack and brings about a deep feeling of calm. I keep wondering if I am projecting here, but reports from others who use it confirm my description. Pretty amazing. Pine, Spruce and Fir saps still have the lead for coughs, colds and releif of respiratory congestion.

The use of vegetable oils as solvents and carriers for oleo-resins makes these products eminently suitable for external use as oils, liniments, cremes and salves. It can also provide an option for a more readily digestible and easily assimilated product for internal use.

This type of extraction requires no special laboratory chemicals or equipment, and can be performed in any kitchen or field with a simple water bath, mortar and pestle or electric coffee grinder. Oh, and a pillow case..

Solvent/carrier oils for whole oleo-resins

I have found 2 vegetable oils work particularly well with most oleo-resins. They are Jojoba oil and Olive oil. I stick to cold pressed extra virgin Olive oil even though it often has a more bitter flavour and scent.

Jojoba works well if the finished product is for external application only. Jojoba is really a wax and not a true oil. It keeps extremely  well on its own, though if making an emulsion type crème, a broad spectrum preservative is needed due to the presence of water.

Oleoresins are natural preservatives. Hence their extensive use historically for embalming and preserving corpses…. However, I can find no studies that show exactly what percent of oleoresins will preserve vegetable oils or aqueous solutions, and for how long. So for the time being some type of preservative is called for.

Olive oil is an ideal carrier and solvent. It has been used for centuries for its therapeutic effects on skin, hair and  GI tract. If you plan to keep any vegetable oil or animal fat product longer than 6 months unrefrigerated, Vitamin E will greatly delay rancidity and extend its shelf life.

Any vegetable type oil, (not mineral-based), or animal fat such as tallow or lard will work as a solvent for most oleoresins.This includes Coconut oil, nut oils such as Almond, Hazelnut and Macadamia and any of the exotics such as Argan oil, Baobab oil etc. Choose an oil based on your needs and preferences. Some oils keep longer than others though Vitamin E will extend the life of most oils.

 Instructions for making an oleo-resin extract

  • If you are using any type of Frankincense, Mastic, Myrrh, Elemi or other hard brittle oleo-resins, grind them to a fine powder first. (See the post on how to grind Frankincense & Myrrh. ). The finer you grind them, the more readily  and quickly they will dissolve in the oil.
  • If using fresh pliable oleo-resins such as Spruce, Pine or Fir, the soft saps can be used as they are.
  • In a water bath heat up 1 part oleo-resins by weight to 2-3 parts oil in a glass or mason jar. (See  A Solid moustache wax recipe) for complete directions on making and using a water bath at home.
  • When the bath reaches temperature and starts boiling, stir to break up any lumps and let sit in a simmering bath with occasional stirring for up to 3 hours.
  • Remove from the bath and filter when no more oleo-resin can be dissolved.
Water bath with multiple vessels and ingredients warming to the same temperature.
Water bath with multiple vessels and ingredients warming to the same temperature.
Frankincense Papyrifera ground in a steel mortar in preparation for extraction.
Frankincense Papyrifera ground in a steel mortar in preparation for extraction.

In the case of Boswellia Frereana, Maydi),  the oleoresin dissolves into the oils within minutes of the bath reaching the boiling point. (It has little to no water-soluble gum). As soon as you have a hot homogenous liquid you can proceed directly to filtering.

Filtering the oleo-resin extract

  • Filter the hot liquid carefully through a fine metal mesh coffee filter, the corner of a well washed and thoroughly rinsed and dried pillowcase, or through a good piece of cotton cloth similar in weave to a bed sheet.
  • Place your filtering material in a funnel over a clear glass vessel or jar. (so later you can gauge when most of the sediment has fallen).
  • Add the hot liquid extract.
  • If using a cloth filter, twist the excess cloth on top to form a sachet, and press out the liquid from this bag with the back of a spoon.
  • If using a metal mesh filter, running the back or side of the spoon against the mesh will keep the liquid flowing and the mesh open.
  • Working with the extraction while it is still hot keeps it mobile, liquid and more easily filtered. It will thicken a bit when cool.
  • Cover and set aside.
  • Compost the residue or return it to the earth.
  • Wait till all sediment falls to the bottom of the vessel. This could take a day or so.
  • Pour or siphon off the clear liquid, leaving the sediment. You can return this or use it for external applications.
  • If you plan to keep your extract around for a while, add 400 IU of Vitamin E to each 250 ml. or cup of extract. And it is ready to use.

For internal use I suggest starting with 1/2 teaspoon of extract with food. See how your body feels about it. This is uncharted territory and you are ultimately in charge of your own health. We don’t know how much  is too much. However compared to ingesting pure essential oils as some do, this method is relatively easy on the body and I believe likely more effective.
For external use, apply to face, joints etc as often as desired. Again, listen to your body….

To make a Frankincense or oleoresin cosmetic crème

I am not an expert in cosmetics formulation. There is an abundance of great recipes online written by people with much greater knowledge of this art than I. I suggest you find one with detailed instructions for making an oil/water creme that appeals to you, and replace the oil portion in any of these recipes with your oleoresin extract to make a healing creme. The guidelines below are simply that, loose guidelines based around a recipe that works for me at the moment.

  • Set up a fresh water bath with one jar for oil and a large jar for distilled water.
  • Put the filtered and sedimented extract back in a jar in the water bath.
  • Add distilled water in the second jar in a quantity that makes up 75% to 80% of the total weight of your finished creme. More water means a slightly thinner lotion or creme.
  •  If you are not using delicate oils, heat the water bath till boiling till both jars and the bath have reached the same temperature-If you are using oils that won’t tolerate high temperature then follow the instructions that come with the oil and bring both vessels in the water bath to the appropriate and same temperature.
  • Calculate the total of all the oil soluble components you will have in your product, carrier oil, essential oils, waxes and oil based preservative if you are going to use one.
  •  Add 25% of the weight of the oil based portion  of your product in emulsifying wax.
  • Blend the wax in the oil completely.
  • Remove from the bath and add the water slowly to your oil/wax mixture in a large enough bowl or jar to hold both materials comfortably.
  •  Stir or blend the oil-wax mixture for a couple of minutes and let sit. Every 15 minutes or so, repeat the blending till the mixture is room temperature and has started to thicken.
  •  This cooldown period is the time to add your essential oils and any other products that are heat sensitive. the weight of essential oils is added to the overall weight of the oil when you calculate how much wax to add.
  • When room temperature and of the right consistency pour into clean, sterile containers. If you have not added a preservative then keep refrigerated.
  • For long-term unrefrigerated use, a preservative is a must since you have added water to the formula. Bacteria and moulds are “suitcase in hand”,  just waiting to move in. Liquid Germal Plus works well as a broad spectrum preservative and seems relatively benign.
  • Add during the “Cooldown” stage and follow the directions that come with the product. It is considered one of your oil soluble ingredients and should be added to your calculation of how much wax needs to be added to your formula.
  • Of course you can improvise with the formula to your heart’s desire. Depending on the purpose of your creme and your personal preferences, there are many waxes, oils, colourants and essential oils you can fine tune your product with. These are just the basics. I expect you to explore, be creative and have fun with it.
  • For an excellent an excellent website dedicated to all facets of lotion and creme making, recipes, instructions, and tutorials, please visit Makingskincare.com.

I am told regularly by concerned friends that I should not share secrets, methods and successful recipes online. I disagree. I believe we are at a stage in our evolution as a global society that all information needs to be shared freely and openly. The internet is our collective brain and even our collective consciousness. We all draw from it, and contribute to it one way or another. The time for hiding things, for secrets and shadows in the world is past. We need to share whatever we have. If we all shared freely and none of us hoarded any resources, there would be more than enough of everything to go around. There would be no lack in the world, no poverty, and likely no war. If we all actively sought opportunities to share, the transformation would be immediate.  I also believe whatever we put out there always comes back to us in whatever form we need.

So. Have fun, be responsible for your health and wellbeing, and share what you have.

And always, always keep clear notes!

Your future self will thank you.

Dan

Muscle & joint rub from a whole extract of Spruce and Pine oleo-resins
Muscle & joint rub from a whole extract of Spruce and Pine oleo-resins
 Therapeutic Chest Rub from whole Spruce and Pine extract
Therapeutic Chest Rub from whole Spruce and Pine extract
 A wonderful rejuvenative skin creme Simply Frankincense with no added fragrances or extra ingredients.e made from the whole oleo-resin of Maydi-Frankincense Frereana.
A wonderful rejuvenative skin creme Simply made from the whole oleo-resin of Maydi-Frankincense Frereana extracted with Jojoba oil. No added ingredients or  essential oils.
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The Apothecary’s Apprentice- Hamilton Herbal Workshops

Apothecary's tools-Mortar and Pestle

APOTHECARY’S APPRENTICE

HAMILTON HERBAL WORKSHOPS

Medieval Apothecary and apprentice in the garden- courtesy the Guttenberg Project.
Medieval Apothecary’s Garden- courtesy the Guttenberg Project.

The Apothecary’s Apprentice is a hands-on “how-to” series of workshops in Hamilton that focuses on the practical and applied side of herbalism.  In the style of old fashioned apprenticeships, participants are invited to work with the apothecary on each of the seasons herbal products as the year unfolds. The goal of the series is to teach participants the best methods, both modern and  traditional, of making a variety of high-quality herbal products. This includes an introduction to ethical and sustainable wildcrafting, Astrodynamics and Plant Alchemy.

Apothecary's Garden-Teaching Gardens at Churchill Park, Hamilton
Our modern-day, volunteer run Apothecary’s Garden-Located at the Teaching Gardens at Churchill Park, Hamilton

Practical Herbal Workshop series in Hamilton

The first workshop takes place at:

Humblepie

142 James St. North 

2nd February 2014 from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

 

The workshops follow a full year of herbal work, including projects traditionally reserved for winter such as making The Great Northern Cough and Chest Rub. Participants will learn, among other things, how to identify, when and how to properly harvest and preserve wild herbs, how to prepare nutritious and healing food from the wild, how to make wild wines, salves, essential oils, tinctures, preserves, and other traditional natural products.

*****

The old-time apothecary had a role, similar to our modern-day pharmacist, except that the apothecary was often involved directly in growing and harvesting herbs, and would prepare crèmes, salves, tinctures and balms from raw materials. This gave the apothecary,  the dispenser of medicine, full control over quality. Though today they are mainly stylized and formal (more for show than practical use), apothecaries’ gardens functioned historically as reliable, controlled environments for production of the highest quality materia medica.

*****

The first workshop, making The Great Northern Cough & Chest Rub, will take place Sunday, 2nd February 2014, at Humblepie, 142 James St. North, between 2:00 and 5:00 pm.

Great Northern Cough & Chest Balm-Spruce-Pine & Fir sap salve
Great Northern Cough & Chest Balm-Spruce-Pine & Fir sap salve

This session will guide participants through the process of making an effective winter chest rub from local evergreen saps.   From how and when to harvest from nature, to how to make the best products, participants will learn the best practices of making their own herbal salves from scratch. They will leave this workshop with a fragrant, winter medicine that they can share with others and duplicate in the future. Notebooks are mandatory.

Dandelion Wine at Work-Primary Fermentation- 2013
Dandelion Wine at Work-Primary fermentation 2013

As the season of 2014 unfolds, the sessions will cover topics such as:

  •  Identifying medicinal and culinary wild plants & mushrooms:
  • Wildcrafting: ethical and sustainable practices for harvesting in the wild.
  • Plant energetics:  the hidden worlds of nature
  • Planetary rulerships and Astrodynamics.
  • Gardening by the Moon.
  • How to make herbal, wild berry and flower wines.
  • How to make medicinal oils, cremes and salves.
  • How to prepare medicinal tinctures from fresh and dry materials.
  • Making herbal teas, infusions and decoctions.
  • The art of distillation.
  • How to build and use an essential oil still.
  • How to make perfume ingredients from wild and garden plants.
  • Plant alchemy: making spagyric tinctures.

*****

  •  Children are invited and  welcome. They are free to attend all outdoor workshops at no extra cost. Talk to me ahead of time for indoor sessions since children’s participation depends on safety, space, and cost of materials.

*****

The cost for this first workshop is $60.00.  Materials are included. You will go home with  a wonderful winter chest rub, richer in knowledge and experience.  If possible please reserve a spot, either with me- 905-541-2956, or with Susan@ Humblepie- 289-389-7208.

  Payment can be made here through Etsy, or at the time of the workshop.

I hope to see you there.

Dan

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Conscious Consumerism

creativesolblog is one of my favourite blogs to follow. Sometimes the information he collects stre-e-e-e-etches my mind, other times his posts say exactly what’s on my mind and express my deepest convictions much more eloquently than I ever could.
This is a case of the latter. As a community we are just starting to grasp the power we have to change the world, as individual consumers, each spending our few dollars conscientiously, while sharing a common vision. A simple vision of a better world. A fair and peaceful world. We have the power, together, to create a total transformation of life on our planet. How cool is that.

 

Dan

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Falling into winter

The magicians, 6 of 8. Gifted the Apothecary's Garden, the Teaching Gardens with something the Gardens couldn't give themselves, and will be clear what that is, next spring.

 

Gorgeous Hamilton Escarpment, Fall Mushroom Hunt
Gorgeous Hamilton Escarpment, Fall Mushroom Hunt

     Once more, we fall into Winter.

 

I started this post a few weeks ago while the parade of breathtaking fall colours enchanted us here in Hamilton. It went on, and on, s l o w l y unfolding day after day after day, week after week, and then just kept on going! I think I became entranced with it. Hypnotized. Completely forgot this post. Ahhhh, Nature Porn, mmmm, baby. I spent way too much time not writing about it because I couldn’t find the words. Gave up trying, but did take some photos. Now though, no longer drifting in a tizzy of autumn oo’s and ahh’s, the stark reality of cold bitter grey has hit like a slap in the face,  the naked trees just look vulnerable and exposed to the cold.

Peeking in through the fence at dusk
Peeking in through the fence at dusk

       It is here now, shortened days, deeper thoughts, introspections, retrospections and a premium on cheerful bright musings. Nothing we can do about it. The cold has seeped into the ground and feels like it’s already in my bones, it doesn’t look like it will be warming up again, any time soon.

Stripped of colour, the jig is up. Fall has let out its last breath to inhale bitter sweet winter.
Stripped of colour, the jig is up. Fall has let out its last breath to inhale bitter sweet winter.

We finally put the Apothecary’s Garden to bed.  A surprising turnout 5 adults. 2 young boys and myself. Nothing fancy, not ornate,  but, it was a stitch, anchoring our intent in the physical world. Every tiny start, when compared to nothing , is always  huge. The participants may not know it, but what they did was huge, transformative and will be evident when the garden wakes next spring, and carries through the year with new purpose in its stride.

The magicians, 6 of 8. Gifted the Apothecary's Garden, the Teaching Gardens with something the Gardens couldn't give themselves, and will be clear what that is, next spring.
The magicians, 6 of 8. Gifted the Apothecary’s Garden, the Teaching Gardens with something the Gardens couldn’t give themselves,

  3 times round the circle, heart of the garden beds, boys taking turns leading the procession, swinging the big copper cauldron, billowing fragrant smoke.

Hot tea with Wild Ginger
Hot tea with Wild Ginger

We spoke of the Elderberry bushes, naked now, remembered how sweet and abundant the berries were this year, the Hops and Clary. Mints and Rue. We spoke of how we could let it go now, leave it, tied with a bow, and delivered into the life stream.  The hot tea with wild Ginger hit the spot, kept our hands warm while we meandered over to the Labyrinth to say goodnight and share some smudging smoke with it.

Billowing fragrant smoke, a smudge mix from our community apothecary's garden
Billowing fragrant smoke, a smudge mix from our community’s  apothecary’s garden

   Almost whispered farewells, as everyone drifted away to warm homes and Sunday chores. It all seemed a little anticlimactic, but endings are like that.. death is ehhh. Bury the dead and carry on. Such is life. Needs to happen, but happy to see it in the rear view mirror. It is obviously a no brainer that Spring will be a rush, everyone bursting with anticipation and motivation  literally and figuratively racing to embrace new beginnings and the warming sun. This is why it was so impressive and meaningful that so many showed up for the closing ceremony.

Not quite winter, our Labyrinth is ready to sleep and regenerate.
Our Labyrinth is ready to sleep and regenerate.

 Do the plants wistfully long for the sun on their leaves,  fragrant flowers,  loved by bees?  What do the plant sprites and caretaking energies do while the plants sleep?

For any of us that suffer from the shortened days, and the winter grey, closing the gardens is a symbol, acknowledging the things we can’t control. A way to open our arms and welcome it, well, at least try to accept it. Whether we see each other or not, we are all walking through the dark together. . If winters are darkness, then circles tells us we are not alone.

 

Fall is like a last meal, We are blessed with such superb beauty in Southern Ontario,  breathtaking, fragrant, nourishing to the soul.  However, seems the price we pay, for our temperate fall paradise, is the long, dark, winter, ahead. Couldn't we have these stunning gorgeous Autumns without the price of a dark gloomy winter? Apparantly not.  UGHH,
Fall Colours and Concrete-Hamilton Mushroom Hunt

 

Fall colours, Hamilton Ontario 2013
Fall colours, Hamilton Ontario 2013

 

 

Fall Vista-Hamilton Mushroom Hunt 2013
Fall Vista-Hamilton Mushroom Hunt 20

 

Cootes Paradise, Hamilton Ontario. Fall 2013
Cootes Paradise, Hamilton Ontario. Fall 2013

Let’s remember to try to embrace it all, the spring and the fall, summer and winter, while they flow past us and through us. To accept the dark and the light, depression and inspiration, sadness and joy. Like pain and pleasure, they are not who we are, but experiences, colours and textures, things that pass through us, flow around us, impact our senses and systems. We are the perceivers and the experiencers, separate, we are the ones looking at the things. Not the things themselves. (Something I learned through my career as an impaler.) More about that in the future…..

Till then, bundle up and do something nice for someone.

Dan

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Darkness, Death and the “Black Whole” – the Uranus-Pluto Square, Scorpio Solar Eclipse and Samhain

I rarely ever, (never), reblog someone else’s post, however, Emily Trinkaus presents with ease, many of the concepts I struggle to express daily. Though the topic is Halloween, Samhain, and our shift to the dark part of our yearly journey, it is clear that this is when we can best see the dark side of our society. How we have separated our material world from the spiritual, physical form from content, orphaned chemistry from living Alchemy, severed nature and spirit,  from science. We favour youth over age, sweet over bitter, and have created detached, impersonal relationships with the world around us. We mass produce our food and animals at a distance, separate ourselves from our connection to nature’s rhythms, to work 9-5, 365 and wonder why depression and cancers are rampant.
The coming dark months are perfect for introspection, slowing down and stepping back from our external preoccupations. Who knows what illumination and insight we might find within, if we embrace the darkness just as we embrace the light?
There is a reason and a season for all things, and time for a glimpse in between them.
Happy Halloween and Samhain salutations!

Dan

http://virgomagic.com/2013/10/29/uranus-pluto-square-2/

Darkness, Death and the “Black Whole” – the Uranus-Pluto Square, Scorpio Solar Eclipse and Samhain

Posted on October 29, 2013by 

solar eclipseThe Sun moved into Scorpio on October 22(until November 21) – the season of deepening darkness when (in the Northern Hemisphere) the days grow noticeably shorter, the leaves change color and fall off the trees, and our animal bodies tune into the many images of dying around us and the reality of our own inevitable death.

Darkness has been vilified and banished from our modern world, in which death is the ultimate failure and the enemy of life, but to the ancients death was simply a precursor to rebirth. The dark times – whether the monthly dark of the Moon or the annual diminishing of the Sun’s light – were used for rest, regeneration, healing, magic, and accessing information that can only be obtained when we turn away from the distractions of the external world and drop into a deeper level of feeling and listening. Traditionally, during this time of year the veil between worlds is especially porous, we have greater access to our ancestors, to our invisible friends and allies, to the deep wisdom of our souls.

The darkness is especially intense right now, more than during your average Scorpio season. In addition to Sunday’s Solar Eclipse in Scorpio, Uranus and Pluto will form anexact square on Friday – their fourth of seven between 2012-2015 – signifying a culmination point in this ongoing process of death and rebirth. Pluto, God/Goddess of the Underworld, is the modern ruler of Scorpio, whose function is to reveal what’s been denied, repressed or hidden and what’s now stagnant, corrupt, diseased and robbing us of vitality and power. Uranus the Great Awakener, agent of revolutionary change, sparks awareness of these dark and hidden realms and calls for radical, creative action to free ourselves from the core patterns and paradigms that are killing us.

Ultimately, the Uranus-Pluto square signifies the transformation of our understanding and use of ENERGY and POWER. While there are many, many fine examples of how industrial civilization is destroying life on Earth through its misuse and abuse of energy and power, nuclear energy is to me the most explicit. The separation of Spirit and Matter – the underlying, ecocidal paradigm of industrial civilization – was literalized in the splitting of the atom, which first occurred just after the discovery of Pluto (plutonium).

fukushimaWe suffer the consequences of that action through the ongoing damage of nuclear radiation to our bodies and home planet, as well as the psychological trauma of knowing our world could be instantly destroyed by just one intentional or accidental detonation of nuclear weapons (see Eric Schlosser’s chilling new book,Command and Control) or a major nuclear power plant incident. Although shocking, it’s not surprising that the explosion at Fukushima occurred just as Uranus entered Aries and triggered the Uranus-Pluto square. And now, as the square again heats up, nuclear power is back in the news.

On November 7, CNN is scheduled to air a propaganda piece called “Pandora’s Promise,” which presents a one-sided argument that environmentalists should embrace nuclear power. (One of the film’s funders is invested in nuclear power, hence “propaganda” rather than “documentary.”) I know Americans have a short attention span and all, but… what the Fukushima?? The timing is especially interesting since, just as CNN is telling the world how safe nuclear power is, TEPCO will begin removing spent fuel rods from Fukushima’s Reactor 4, described as “an operation with potentially ‘apocalyptic’ consequences,” as  radiation from the rods “matches the fallout of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs.” (Fuel Removal From Fukushima’s Reactor 4 Threatens “Apocalyptic” Scenario)

Astrologically, these events not only closely coincide with the Uranus-Pluto square and Scorpio Eclipse, but also with Samhain – the cross-quarter holy day that marks the midpoint of the Scorpio season (when the Sun is at 15 degrees Scorpio) and the halfway mark between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. Although commonly celebrated on November 1 (and manifesting in various forms such as Day of the Dead and All Saint’s Day – and Halloween), Samhain or Hallowmas technically occurs this year on November 6 (10:30 pm Pacific, for my fellow Virgos).

samhainSamhain is the most powerful time of the year to honor the dead and commune with our ancestors. Because modern western culture denies death – worshipping youth, banishing signs of aging, segregating elders in “nursing homes” apart from the rest of society, etc. – we have lost connection with those on the other sideMalidoma Somé writes:

In many non-Western cultures, the ancestors have an intimate and absolutely vital connection with the world of the living. They are always available to guide, to teach, and to nurture. They represent one of the pathways between the knowledge of this world and the next. Most importantly – and paradoxically – they embody the guidelines for successful living – all that is most valuable about life. Unless the relationship between the living and the dead is in balance, chaos results.” (Of Water and the Spirit)

We are living that chaos. Instead of facing death and relating to the dead consciously, the culture enacts its underlying death urge by creating technologies that destroy the planet, along with relentless acts of violence in various other forms. Because Matter has been divested of Spirit, because Spirit has been relocated to some ethereal realm “out there” rather than inherently infused in physical form, what was once related to and expressed energetically – through ritual, magic, ceremony, intention, prayer, meditation, art – must be literalized.

As the signs of death and destruction multiply and amplify in the external world, let us remember and reanimate the tremendous power we hold within ourselves. Instead of buying into – funding and fueling with our mental, emotional and spiritual energy – either stories about the end of the world, or fairy tales of denial, let the deepening darkness pull us thoroughly into our true source of power, our own spiritual authority and our connection with the invisible, infinite realm of pure consciousness.

flower of lifeI recently watched genius physicist Nassim Haramein’s The Black Whole, which gave me a new understanding of these Uranian-Plutonian themes around energy and power. Haramein makes the point that since 99.9999 (etc.) percent of the universe is made up of “empty space,” maybe we should be paying more attention to it! Instead of following the lead of generations of physicists who fudged their equations and failed to account for what they named “dark matter” (hmmm…), Haramein’s work has focused on uncovering the structure of “space” and he discovered that, instead of being “empty,” this space actually contains infinite energy. He’s working on developing free energy technologies, liberating us from the ridiculous “choice” of whether to destroy the planet by burning oil or splitting atoms. (And of course free energy technology has existed, and has been suppressed, since Tesla.)

Applying these insights in our own lives means that, if you’re exclusively tracking the external-world story, you’re going to lose the plot. What’s happening at the level of consciousness, at the level of our feelings and intuition, and through our connections with the invisible – this is where the real action is taking place, and this is where we can access our power to transform. Let’s embrace this remarkable opportunity for some serious MAGIC. As Haramein says, “This is the ride we’re on, and I invite you to be a full participant.

– Emily Trinkaus

p.s. I gave a talk about the Eclipses last week in Portland, and you can listen to it here.

 

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Darkness, Death and the “Black Whole” – the Uranus-Pluto Square, Scorpio Solar Eclipse and Samhain

I rarely ever, (never), reblog someone else’s post, however, Emily Trinkhaus presents with ease, many of the concepts I struggle to express daily. Though the topic is Halloween, Sawain, and our shift to the dark part of our yearly journey, it is clear that this is when we can best see the dark side of our society. How we have separated our material world from the spiritual, dry chemistry from living Alchemy, nature and spirit, severed from science, favouring youth over age, sweet over bitter, and have created detached, impersonal relationships with the world around us. We mass produce our food and animals at a distance, separate ourselves from our connection to nature’s rhythms, to work 9-5, 365 and wonder why depression and disease are rampant.
The coming dark months are perfect for introspection, slowing down and stepping back from our external preoccupations. Who knows what illumination and insight we might find within, if we embrace the darkness just as we embrace the light?
There is a reason and a season for all things, and time for a glimpse in between them.
Happy Halloween!

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Frankincense Oil, a Cough,Cold and Chest Rub

An oleo extract of Frankincense Neglecta from Ethiopia.

I have, over the past few days, slowly succumbed to a head/chest cold. Stuffed up, scratchy rough throat, and a cough. Yuch!! On the bright side, it motivated me to finally make a Frankincense Oil, or rather a Frankincense Neglecta Cough and Chest Rub.

Frankincense-Boswellia Neglecta
Frankincense oil-Boswellia Neglecta

Since My first whiff of the rare and unusual Frankincense Neglecta last winter in the Mercado market of Addis Ababa Ethiopia, I have been itching to work with it and explore its therapeutic properties.

Local transport in the narrow allies of Addis Mercado.
Local transport in the narrow allies of Addis Mercado.Large trucks fit through narrow allies teeming with people. The resin vendors are on the other side of the vehicle. Ethiopian photophobia left me with very few shots of the bustling Mercado

The Mercado is considered Africa‘s largest outdoor market and covers hundreds of  square kilometers. It is like a sub-city of Addis and takes days to even scratch the surface of it. After spending the best part of a day hunting,  feet sore from unpaved, rock strewn paths, exhausted, discouraged and ready to go home, I finally came upon  a “quarter” in the market, that specialized in local resins, barks and dried herbs. Jackpot! Frankincense, Myrrh, Opoponax and everything else I had hoped to find.

My inspiration for working with Frankincense Neglecta, is its similarity in fragrance and substance to our local conifer saps, from which I make a wonderful winter chest “balm”, and a muscle and joint rub. Products which draw their healing powers from the use of  their wholes saps, (Oleoresins), not just the essential oils of the trees.

I call my sap based respiratory product, the “Great Northern Cough and Chest Rub”. Anyone who knows me, knows I have been making it since my son Nathan was a toddler. At the time I had to come up with something that a child would, (willingly), allow one to administer, so it had to be pleasant, effective and smell nothing at all like Vicks!

Great Northern Cough& Chest Balm
Great Northern Cough& Chest Balm

The great northern “C&CR” or “Cough Balm” as we call it, has been a great success for over 15 years. It not only helps to break up phlegm, open and clear breathing passages, reduce coughing in young and old alike, but  it also has the effect of calming and grounding, soothing those cranky sick kid nerves and promoting a sound sleep. Parents know how important it is for everyone to get a good nights sleep when there is a sick kid in the house. All in all, The Great northern Cough & Chest Rub has been one of my most successful formulas. Beyond minor tweaks, I haven’t changed the recipe or method of making it in over a decade and a half.

While Boswellia Neglecta is obviously a Frankincense, and has the distinguished warm, rich, fragrance that we associate with Frankincense, Neglecta has an extra “set” of terpene notes, reminiscent of our own temperate evergreens. It has a penetrating sweet Fir like scent. A scent that implies it likely shares similar phytochemical compounds and healing effects to our conifers, which are excellent decongestants and respiratory medicines.  From what I can gather, Boswellia, or Frankincense Neglecta, has been used medicinally much more than the other types of Frankincense native to the region. Since all the species of Frankincense share anti aging, anti wrinkle and skin rejuvenating  properties, I also look forward to seeing what B. Neglecta can do for the skin.

Spring Spruce 2013
Spring Spruce 2013

Two days ago, I prepared an oleo extraction of the whole oleo-resin, separating the volatile oils and resin, from the water-soluble gum. (All types of Frankincense and many other fragrant saps are oleo-gum-resins, with varying proportions of water-soluble gum, resins and essential oils, (see photo below)). I have since, been applying this fragrant medicated oil to my chest and neck areas regularly. The effect is an immediate opening up and easing of my breathing passages. A lightening and relaxing of a heavy and tight chest, with a loosening of phlegm which in turn creates productive coughs. The effect consistently lasts 4-5 hours before I feel the need to apply more, and it does not diminish with use. It works every time. My nose is still a little runny, but not as stuffed up as it was 2 days ago. I  have a lingering headache, but the scratchiness in my throat is gone, and I am experiencing no accompanying soreness after 2 days of use.

Frankincense Papyrifera-Separated into its 3 basic components. Gum, Resin and essential oils.
Frankincense Papyrifera-Separated into its 3 basic components. Gum, Resin and essential oils.

The fragrance of this oil is calming and relaxing,  grounding and elevating, comforting too, like Spruce. The fragrance on its own, has obvious benefits from an aromatherapeutic perspective, promoting a sense of peace and calm without diminishing mental acuity. I was experiencing some distress from feeling ill and under physical duress, (That Yuchi sick feeling). Whether it was absorbed through my skin or lungs, its calming effect on my nervous system was direct and immediate.

I think most of us realize on some level, that our emotional, physical and mental states are all tied together, affected by, and affecting each other. I can always feel an emotional and mental shift before I experience the physical symptoms of a cold or virus. For a medication to address and alleviate the emotional discord that comes with being ill, while it helps heal the body physically, is a great added benefit! I think it qualifies as a sign of a more holistic remedy and indicates a synergy to the product.

  When it comes to sharing formulas, There are those who counsel not to reveal recipes or methods. They caution against giving away trade secrets that unscrupulous others may use to mass produce competing products and cut into my “Market share”.   I understand their concerns, but,,,I don’t make millions from my salves and cremes, or hundreds of thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars from them. I doubt I ever will. I make small amounts, for a local, small community that appreciates and need them.  ( And with a small online community of like minded individuals)                                                                                                                                                                            More to the point, I don’t want to set up a factory and produce  thousands of  jars of healing salves a month. Way too stressful. I would rather see thousands of people around the world, nurturing personal relationships with Nature, using these methods to produce small quantities of finely crafted, high quality remedies for their own families and local communities. So, the more, the merrier!  That being said, I also have to point out , that methods are only a small part of what makes these or any natural products exceptional. If you read through my blog you will see that there is much more to producing a fine or sublimated natural medicine, than just a formula or knowing how to physically process plant material. Much, much more. Anyone can do that.

    So here is my recipe for making a simple extraction of  the resins and essential oils of Frankincense Neglecta.  It is applicable to other saps and oleoresins. This is a medicinal or medicated oil that can be used for respiratory problems and muscle / joint pain.  It can be used as is, with added essential oils, or as the base for a salve.

    I am very happy with the healing effects of this oil. It works extremely well. I hope that if you try to make some for yourself, or for those  in your family and community, you will all experience equally gratifying results.

 

A Recipe for Frankincense oil, a cough and chest rub.

  • 1 part fresh Boswellia Neglecta oleoresin. The fresher and more pliable it is, the better your extraction will be.
  • 2 parts Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive oil. You can use any oil of your choice. You can use a different amount of Frankincense, but,  in general a ratio of 1:2 by weight is what I aim for and works best for me.
  • In a water bath,(See “A Solid Mustache Wax Recipe” for instructions on making and using a water-bath), combine oil and oleoresins in a container that holds double the volume of the products.
  • Clamp container to the wall of the water-bath.
  • Bring water bath to a boil.
  • Stir, press, agitate oleoresins with a clean wooden spoon or other clean utensil , break up any chunks or lumps as best you can.
  • Leave in simmering water bath for an hour at least, longer if using old, dry or hard material. Stir and break down the Frankincense periodically. Using a large mason jar works well. This way you can keep a lid on it when you are not stirring, I believe this will help retain more of the essential oils since the heat will make the volatile oils fly out of the oleo resin.
  • After an hour or so, when you feel the Frankincense has broken up as much as it will, and when it seems the oil and resin are homogeneously mixed. Put the lid on tight, turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  • Take a clean, washed pillowcase, you may have to rinse it well with hot water and re-dry it so there is no residual odor of laundry detergent or any other aroma. Lay the open pillowcase in a bowl, corner at the bottom, and pour the contents of the jar into the corner of the pillowcase. Scrape out as much of the jar contents as you can.
  • Collect the sides of the pillowcase, (keeping unneeded parts of the pillowcase from being saturated with oil), and twist it so the mixture starts filtering out of the pillowcase corner into the bowl. Squeeze as much as you can by hand, twist it as if wringing out a towel to dry, then if you have one, cram the pillowcase into an herb press and press out the rest of the liquid.
  • Pour all your liquid into another jar or vessel you can close. Let it settle for a day or two, then very carefully pour off, or siphon off the clearer liquid, leaving the sediment on the bottom.
  • A small Herb press. Handy for  making extracts and tinctures.
    A small Herb press. Handy for making extracts and tinctures.

 You now have a potent,  fragrant, whole oleo-resin, medicated oil that works effectively “as is” ,or, if you like,  you can use it as a base for a salve. It will probably settle further so be prepared to separate it from more sediment. You could let it sit in a glass separatory funnel and drain off the sediment again later, or if you have a vacuum filtering system, you can use it to remove all resin particles. Then again, you could just leave some of the sediment in your oil.

If you like, you can add some essential oil of Frankincense Neglecta to make up for what may have been lost due to the age of your Frankincense, or through the extraction process. Also, if you like, you can add essential oils that compliment the application you are using it for, such as Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Peppermint essential oils for respiratory issues, Chamomile for sleep,  Wintergreen, Birch etc. for use as a muscle rub. Plan to add about 2% essential oils at the most.
It will keep for years, as oleo resins, (saps), do, and the oleo resins will help keep the vegetable oils from going rancid.  If you like you can add 400 IU, (one gel cap), of vitamin E. to each cup or 250 ml. of medicated oil as an extra precaution against rancidity down the road, or add a small amount of Benzoin essential oil. Both these additives have skin healing properties.

To Make A Salve

To turn your oil into a salve,

  • Pour the Frankincense oil you made into a vessel that  holds at least twice the volume of the oil.
  • clamp it in to the water bath wall.
  • In a separate jar, break, scrape, grind or shave, raw Beeswax. About 1/4 – 1/3 of the volume of oil you are working with.
  • Bring the water bath to a boil.
  • When the beeswax is completely melted and both materials are at the same temperature, pour a little beeswax into the oil and mix well. (Or use a bulb type baster to transfer the hot liquids).
  • Put a drop or two of the hot, well mixed, oil and wax, on a cold plate.
  • When it cools to room temperature, test the consistency. If it is too soft or liquid, add a little more beeswax.
  • Test again and repeat until your salve is exactly the consistency you desire. If  by chance you add too much wax and your salve is too hard you can add a small amount of room temperature oil to your salve, test and adjust it.
  • If you are adding essential oils to your salve, do so during the cooling down point, after removing the salve from the water bath. It is easier to measure and pre-mix the essential oils before you make the salve, just put them aside and add them at the end.
A water-bath, Bain Marie, or double boiler at work regulating the temperature of all the ingredients
A water-bath, Bain Marie, or double boiler at work regulating the temperature of all the ingredients
Separatory funnel with essential oil of Frankincense Papyrifera-2013
Separatory funnel with essential oil of Frankincense Papyrifera distilled in the lab 2013

Remember to keep clear notes, especially on the quantities of essential oils you are adding. If it is a success you will want to reproduce it as precisely as possible in the future and avoid disappointments .

Make sure you have closeable containers ready to receive your salve. Pour it in carefully. When it is cool and solid, put your caps or lids on.
That’s it. Your salve will keep for years. Hopefully it will not last that long, and it will get used quickly for its wonderful healing properties.
It will make a great gift, providing comfort through the worst parts of colds and flus, to family and friends.

Remember to always keep notes.
Your future self will than you.

Dan

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Apothecary’s Garden has Moved to a new Address!!

After 9 months of gestation, learning WordPress under the gentle and thoughtful tutelage of WordPress dot com and 3 months of trial and error exploring alternatives, I have finally moved forward to hosting Apothecary’s Garden on my own WordPress dot org site.

As most know, WordPress.com is like a gentle parent, supporting our blogging efforts every way possible, worrying about, and taking care of all the little details for us, while setting safe, but sometimes frustrating boundaries and limitations on our creative expression.

In my case, I needed to share not only my thoughts and words, but the tangible products  I have perfected and the rare  gifts of Nature I have discovered on my path.

The new site is up and running. I managed to migrate most of this site to it, however, it is far from finished or perfect. The learning curve has no end it seems. I was not able to migrate my followers, (sorry folks!!), and there have been some problems with broken links and photos not showing up. But, I am still learning and have no doubt I will iron out the glitches, with time, I hope you can bear with me, and please let me know if you encounter any problems or bugs when you visit the new site.

The new website address is, apothecarysgarden.com.If you are not there already, feel free to bookmark it or put it in your browser. This is where you will find me from here on, and, I hope within a few weeks , you will also find a store woven into the blog, offering for purchase or barter, those things that I have been inspired to create and perfect over the years. I would love to share them with you.
I believe that there are no coincidences in the world, that those who need exactly those items I have created, will find themselves here. That like-minded people will be drawn here regardless of where they are in the world. And that this will be a place where I can interact with, and fulfill the needs of others, while filling my own well.

I hope to see you there. If you were following me, and would like to continue doing so, please go to the new site and re-subscribe to the blog. (“Subscribe by email” button). I would be very happy to continue our relationship.

Apothecary's Garden- New Dawn Herbal Apothecary
Apothecary’s Garden- New Dawn Herbal Apothecary

Dan Riegler
apothecarysgarden.com
New Dawn Herbal Apothecary

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Apothecary’s Garden has Moved to a new Address!!

English: WordPress Logo
English: WordPress Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After 9 months of gestation, learning WordPress under the gentle and thoughtful tutelage of WordPress dot com and 3 months of trial and error exploring alternatives, I have finally moved forward to hosting my own WordPress dot org site.

As most know, WordPress.com is like a gentle parent, supporting our blogging efforts everyway possible, worrying about, and taking care of all the little details for us, while setting safe, but sometimes frustrating boundaries and limitations on our creative expression.

In my case, I needed to share not only my thoughts and words, but the very real and tangible products of insight, experience and creativity I have brought forth along the way.
A place where I could share my perfected products and “potions”. Healing products refined by many years of experience and inspiration. A place where i could share the rare and wonderful gifts of Nature I have discovered along the way.

The new site is up and running. I managed to migrate most of this site to it, however, it is far from finished or perfect. The learning curve has no end it seems. I was not able to migrate my followers, (sorry folks!!), and there have been some problems with broken links and photos not showing up. But, I am still learning and have no doubt I will iron out the glitches, with time, I hope you can bear with me, and please let me know if you encounter any problems or bugs when you visit the new site.

The new website address is, apothecarysgarden.com.If you are not there already, feel free to bookmark it or put it in your browser. This is where you will find me from here on, and, I hope within a few weeks , you will also find a store woven into the blog, offering for purchase or barter, the physical products of my path and pursuits, those things that I have been inspired to create and perfect over the years. I would love to share them with you.
I believe that there are no coincidences in the world, that those who need exactly those items I have created, will find themselves here. That likeminded people will be drawn here regardless of where they are in the world. And that this will be a place where I can interact with, and fulfill the needs of others, while filling my own well.

I hope to see you there. If you were following me, and would like to continue doing so, please go to the new site and re-subscribe to the blog. (“Subscribe by email” button). I would be very happy to continue our relationship.

Apothecary's Garden- New Dawn Herbal Apothecary
Apothecary’s Garden- New Dawn Herbal Apothecary

Dan Riegler
apothecarysgarden.com
New Dawn Herbal Apothecary