Willow Health


Aromatherapy & Herbalism

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At Willow Health we believe in the healing power of essential oils and the plants they come from. We believe that to really know and understand essential oils you must know the plants they come from. Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to promote health and well-being both emotionally and physically. These oils are extracted from various parts of the plant....roots, rhizomes, bark, leaf, stems, flowers, buds, seeds and peels. In order to truly know the essential oil, it is valuable to know the entire plant before distillation. The properties of the plants, and the essential oils work together to form a holistic healing therapy.

Aromatherapy has been around as long as plants and trees have been around. Walking through a forest you can receive aromatherapy from all the different trees, conifers and plants that broadcast their sotting aroma which communicates their essence between themselves, the animal kingdom and people. We know that these natural aromas are more then just a pleasant scent. They are emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically healing. They are the first medicines and they remain the best medicines for our health and wellness. Even when the scent of the plants and trees may be too faint to notice those tiny molecules that make up the essential oils are still in the air administering aromatherapy to us.

There are times when usage of an essential oil is appropriate for treatment and there are times when the herb may better suit whatever needs to be treated. As with all of naturopathy we seek to treat the whole person and provide the best advice taking into account the whole individual. We do not do one-size-fits-all advice here at Willow Health. We treat each customer as a unique individual.

We have several herb classes and essential oil classes which you can find the class description here. Check our blog for any scheduled classes

Roberta's "Coaching from the Mat" essential oil profiles

KANNA --- notes of interet from our June 2018 newsletter

A medicinal herb used in South Africa since prehistoric times, Kanna is a succulent (water-retaining) plant used to treat a wide variety of health conditions by rural peoples living in South Africa and the surrounding area. Kanna’s scientific name is Sceletium tortuosum (Latin for “something to chew”) and emerges in South Africa’s written history as early as 1660.

According to early research into Kanna, this plant contains several indole alkaloids, specifically mesembrine and mesembrenol. Mesembrine and mesembrenol appear to imitate the same effects produced by antidepressants known as SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors). In addition, mesembrine weakly inhibits an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), which has recently been identified as a major contributor to cognitive issues, depression and hypertension. By blocking the reuptake of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, sleep, appetite and libido, kanna keeps sufficient amounts of serotonin in the brain to stop depression and anxiety. When serotonin is prevented from being released into the brain due to chemical dysregulation, moodiness, anxiety, insomnia, lack of libido and appetite problems occur.

Kanna provides the following benefits without causing negative side effects:
• Calms nerves, eases agitation produced by anxiety and chronic stress.
• Slows racing thoughts, which sometimes inhibits the ability to fall asleep.
• Relieves depression and health issues related to depression, like aching muscles, lethargy, “fuzzy” thinking, mental fatigue and migraine.
• Has appetite-suppressant qualities when taken in higher doses.
• Some South African people use kanna to relieve toothaches by plugging a cavity with a wad of kanna leaves.

Since only a few of kanna’s alkaloids have been classified, some as-yet-detected analgesic alklaloids may provide remarkable, pain-relieving abilities that are not yet officially documented. A higher dosage of kanna provides stimulatory properties that infuses the user with energy and a sense of well-being and optimism. In addition, kanna is non-habit forming and does not affect areas of the brain involved in the addiction process, in contrast to prescription antidepressants or pain relievers that carry a strong risk of addiction when
used for even short periods.

ABC (American Botanical Council) Herb Clip

Medicinal Plants of South Africa - Kanna

Journal of Ethnopharmacology - Psychoactive constituents of the genus Sceletium (kanna)

FRANKINCENSE --- some notes of interest from our October 2017 newsletter

Frankincense essential oil and Frankincense resin do not have all the same properties

The Boswellia family of trees have many different species in that family.  The ones we are most used to when dealing with essential oil or Boswellia gum resin are the Boswellia serrata and the Boswellia carteri.   It seems the Boswellia carteri and Boswellia sacra are the same species.  All Boswellia trees have the more or less same properties in slightly different proportions, etc.  (One of the reason for the difference in proportions is where the tree grows and its conditions) Example being that Boswellia serrata has the highest percentage of boswellic acids.  Boswellic acids, particularly the AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-B-boswellic acid) are strong anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-cancer components of the Boswellia tree.  The HOWEVER here is that boswellic acid is a heavy chemical component (molecular weight in the 400-500 range) and it DOES NOT distill over into the essential oil.  Volatile molecules - those capable of evaporation (therefore distillation) have molecular weights below 300.  Frankincense essential oils has many many wonderful properties, however if you want the cancer fighting compounds in the Boswellia family you should look at Boswellia serrata gum resin. 

There are also pro-inflammatory boswellic acids called beta-boswellic acid so any supplement you consider should be a standardized extract (of the gum resin)  that is standardized so that you’re getting at least 10% AKBA and virtually no beta-boswellic acids. This way, you get the best of both worlds—a true, complete boswellia with all of the good components you need with none of the potentially dangerous amounts of beta-boswellic acid. 

We can help you here at Willow Health with selecting the best Frankincense for your purposes.

Frankincense Oil and Cancer in Perspective by Robert Tisserand of the Tisserand Institute

Frankincense as Medicine - Truth, Myth & Misinformation by Dan Riegler