Friday, August 17, 2007

Alarming reaction to Chamomile...

On Wednesday I did a customized Aromatherapy consultation and blend for one of the spa's really good clients. Her concerns were wrinkles, increasing dryness, and aging (age spots, hyperpigmentation, and tonus). She told me her skin was sensitive, and that she was starting to see thread veins.

My first thought for a blend was to use Carrot Seed (for its beta-carotene precursors), Rosemary verbenone (for its stimulation of the dermal layer), Blue Chamomile (for sensitive skin that has inflammation and thread veins), and Niaouli (for firming and for its anti-bacterial properties).

Before I make up the blend, I always test the client for sensitivity by putting a drop of each essential oil I am planning to use on their inner elbow and having them hold the elbow closed for 5 minutes. This way, I can be sure that the blend does not irritate them, and that it is always specific to their concerns and needs. In fact, I've had really good testimonials so far on my personalized skin blends.

So I went to test the oils, and believe it or not, the BLUE CHAMOMILE created a burning sensation and huge red welts on the inside of her arm! She looked like she had been bitten 7-8 times by a mosquito. I asked her if she had a Ragweed allergy, or was allergic to Chamomiles, and she said that she drank Chamomile tea and had never had a problem. Well, the thing is, the constituents in the Chamomile herb are not exactly the same as are in the essential oil, because during steam distillation, chamazulene is created.

So I tried another route: Blue Tansy. Another member of the Asteraceae family, also with high amounts of chamazulene (and also blue), and also good for sensitivity and thread veins, etc. This time I used her other elbow, and after 5 minutes, she felt no irritation. But when her arm was unbent, several little red pustules were although she felt no irritation, they were still there. I've never seen someone so allergic to such gentle oils.

Well, I've definitely learned something, and hopefully she did, too. I think she has an allergy to the Asteraceae family...I had to keep coming up with different oils and testing them, such that the final blend was completely different than what I had envisioned! We ended up using Geranium, Lavender, Cistus, and Niaouli in a base of Evening Primrose oil. A very interesting learning experience!

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