One of the good things about the job I do is that I come across interesting stuff all the time. For example Hinoki Oil, which is the oil obtained from the leaves and roots of Chamaecyparis obtuse, Cupressaceae. The shrub from which it is derived is commonly known as either Hinoki or Hinoki Cyprus and is common in Japan. The wood from it is used to make incense sticks. So it is something that is quite exotic to me, but presumably is commonplace in Japan. Continue reading
Based on a totally unscientific sample of people whose opinion of Jasmine I happen to know, it is a very polarising smell and is one that appeals to men more than women. That many people don’t particularly like the smell is a bit unfortunate given the trouble that has to be gone to to obtain it.
Neroli is an essential oil made from the petals of the bitter orange. The amount of oil in a petal isn’t very high so it takes a lot of them to make much oil. So it isn’t surprising to learn that the use of neroli oil was originated by an aristocrat. The production and use of neroli goes back to the Duchess of Nerola in seventeenth century Italy, whose exquisite taste and deep pockets led to her name being given to the oil. Even today its stupendous price tag limits its use to very low levels or very expensive products. Continue reading
Head lice are a recurrent problem all over the world. The lice are no respecters of income levels, general cleanliness and the degree of diligence of the child’s mother. The only thing they take notice of is effective anti-lice treatments. Even here, the laws of natural selection mean that what is effective one year might well be useless in the face of a new strain the following year. Continue reading
The Roman Emperor Elagabalus once threw a party for some guests, against whom he had a grudge. After they had eaten at a prearranged signal his servants poured vast quantities of rose petals onto them. They suffocated to death. Continue reading
Should you use natural products if you have sensitive skin?
There is an argument that you shouldn’t. The problem is that an allergic reaction is caused by your immune system reacting to something that it encounters and identifies as a threat. Natural products contain a wider diversity of ingredients so you have a bigger chance of one of them being something that will give you a problem. Continue reading
Lemongrass is pretty well known to lovers of oriental cuisine (which seems to be nearly everybody in the UK). But just as you can get varieties of mint that smell of lemons – there are also kinds of lemongrass that don’t have the distinctive aroma of lemongrass. Continue reading
Myrrh will always be linked in everybody’s mind with Frankincense as one of the first two recorded examples of a skin care product being given as a Christmas gift. The pair do have some other similarities. Continue reading
Essential oils have gone from being an obscure aspect of botany to an all round marketing ‘good thing’. You can even by washing powder now that trumpets that it contains essential oils. What actually are they? Continue reading
The tropical uplands of Somalia and the Yemen are a hard and unforgiving environment. To survive there the Frankincense tree has had to develop some nifty abilities. One of these is a thick resin that exudes from damaged parts of its trunk and branches. The sticky substance rapidly provides a defence against the teeth of hungry goats, and it later hardens into a solid protective plug to protect against germs and insects, and to stop the plant drying out in the arid conditions.
Nature is remarkable isn’t it.
The solidified lumps of resin are known as tears, and for centuries have been gathered by tribesmen to trade with. In fact the frankincense trade is one of the oldest known with the trade route from the Horn of Africa to the Mediterranean having existed from prehistoric times to the present day.