August 28, 2011

Aromatics (coming soon) in Print

I happened across this abstract on the web while browsing around searching for future posts for the aromaconnection blog:

The Scents of Larsa: A Study of the Aromatics Industry in an Old Babylonian Kingdom by Robert Middeke-Conlin | Papers by Robert

Revision of M.A. Thesis Submitted March, 2010. Cuneiform Digital Library Journal (CDLJ) In press,2011
Full version of this paper was removed on January 4, 2011 in preparation for its publication by CDLJ later this year.

The aromatics trade is a luxury trade with origins in distant antiquity. Ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian techniques at perfume production are the roots of the Arabic perfume industry so famous in the Middle Ages. The south Arabian incense trade, so important to the Greeks and Romans, seemingly appears fully grown with the domestication of the camel. However, this trade and the production of perfumes arose from a much older tradition of which the sources are difficult to grasp. There are no texts which describe perfume production before the Middle Assyrian period, nor did the ancient Mesopotamians state where many of the raw materials they imported came from.
This work sheds light on some of the origins of this trade by examining the aromatics industry as it existed in the Old Babylonian Kingdom of Larsa. Section one lays the groundwork for this discussion, starting with a history of aromatic scholarship, moving on to a textual discussion; and ending by stating both the modern and ancient terms used to describe aromatics and perfumes, as well as defining the use and non use of the šim determinative. Section two describes the manufacture of aromatic products; beginning with an examination of the materials used in production, moving on to an overview of the methods involved in perfume manufacture, then describing the perfumer, and finishing by exploring the places of aromatic production. Section three discusses how aromatics and fragrances fit into the society and economy of the Kingdom of Larsa. This section investigates the sources of aromatic raw materials, the people involved in the aromatics trade, and the availability and uses of aromatics in the Kingdom of Larsa’s society.

I’ve been unable to determine exactly when this will be published, but this will be in an online journal that is available for free. So we’ll plan on a review here once it is out.

Posted by Rob on August 28, 2011 in Aromatics in Print, Incense, Perfumery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2011

Aromatics in Print

The February-April 2011 issue of Herbalgram (#89) arrived recently, with several items of aromatic interest.  Since this is the current issue some of the articles in the online version require a subscription for web access. I will provide links to the free articles.

  • The Herb Profile in this issue is Sage (Salvia officinalis). This is a complete profile that provides detailed information about the herb, and plant, the history and cultural significance, and modern research. Most of the research presented involves the essential oil, including studies of its effect on memory, cognition and mood, with some studies on the physical effects, including sore throat treatment, anti-inflammatory effects, and Herpes simplex infection.  There is also a discussion of current production and sustainability potential, although the data available are admitted to be minimal.
  • A detailed article describes “The Plant List: The first Comprehensive Inventory of Most Known Plant Species”, available online only by subscription. However, if you are interested in seeing the actual list, you can link to it here at The Plant List. The list is an attempt to standardize the Latin binomial names of all plants. It lists over 1 million plant names of species rank; 298,900 are accepted species names. This list should go a long way towards standardizing the names of aromatic plant species, although it will not resolve the question of INCI names that have been derived through a separate process.
  • An article reports on the recent COP (Conference of the Parties) meeting for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which met last October in Nagoya, Japan. (Registration required) Click this link if you want to see the actual COP/CBD website.
  • A major article reports on “The Safety of Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium) and p-Synephrine.” This article is in response to previous reports in Consumer Reports that have suggested that Bitter Orange is unsafe as a dietary supplement. The article deals with this use and does not mention the essential oil at all. The article thoroughly debunks the safety concerns about internal use of “Bitter Orange Extract” and attributes the concerns to erroneous information released by the FDA. Since the concerns were with internal use, it would seem unlikely that the use of bitter orange oil in aromatherapy would be of concern other than its well-known phototoxic effects. Tisserand/Balacs in Essential Oil Safety rate its Oral Toxicity as D, or non-toxic. I attempted to determine if the ingredient of concern (p-Synephrine) is present in the essential oil. The best study I found online (Toxicological Summary for Bitter Orange . . .) suggests  that the essential oil doesn’t contain any of the alkaloids they studied [“Oils from the fruit, peel, and other plant parts are also used for flavoring and fragrance and do not contain alkaloids.” Curiously, that study doesn’t seem to have been cited in the Herbalgram article.
  • A major article “The Genus Ligusticum in North America” is available on the web only by registration. Since Samara Botane has in the past sold “Medicine Root” essential oil (which is Ligusticum canbyi –an unresolved name per the Plant List) I was particularly interested in this article, which is mainly about “Osha” root, and the confusion of the various Ligusticum species that are confused with it. These plants are members of the “Lovage” family which is found throughout the world. The article contains a list of the phytochemicals found in the various species, and shows their distribution throughout North America.

As usual, Herbalgram, the Journal of the American Botanical Council, provides a plethora of information about herbal issues related to the aromatic industry, and is well worth a subscription.

Posted by Rob on March 1, 2011 in Aromatics in Print, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Safety/Toxicity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2009

Aromatics in Print

A review of some of the recent print magazines to come across my desk.  Links are supplied when articles are free online; otherwise you’ll have to visit your local library or subscribe.

  • The January 2009 issue of Perfumer&Flavorist reports on the IFRA workshop on Allergy Prevalence in Fragrance held in November 2008 in Brussels; Reports on the Centifolia 2008 Conference featuring an article on “The Three Pillars of Smart Sustainability in F&F” that discusses how we can increase the usage of natural products while maintaining the natural environment; an article by Brian Lawrence “A preliminary Report on the World Production of Some Selected Essential Oils and Countries” (for example, did you know that 67% of orange oil, the #1 oil, comes from Brazil—or that Hungary is the largest producer of Blue Chamomile Oil?); and Brian Lawrence’s monthly column “Progress in Essential Oils” covers Orange Oil. The print magazine also provides links to online articles, particularly “FMA Ponders Green Fragrances”.
  • The December 2008 issue of GCI (Global Cosmetic Industry) contains an article “What Do Ethical and Sustainable Mean to Today’s Beauty Consumer?” that raises some of the issues and discusses how some companies have dealt with the issues, concluding that “those companies seen to behave in an ethical and transparent manner are likely to win over today’s skeptical consumers.”
  • The September 2008 issue of DAYSPA magazine discusses how organic applies to the Spa world in “You Say You’re Organic?”, something that seems to be open to interpretation in the Spa industry. [see previous note].
  • The December 2008 issue of Economic Botany contains a paper “Traditional Tar Production from Cedrus libani A. Rich on the Taurus Mountains in Southern Turkey” (abstract) that describes how katran, a tar that has medicinal properties, from chips of old stumps that undergo a kind of distillation process involving burning them in a closed space. The katran is about half Monoterpenoids and Sesquiterpenoids, the remainder comprising hydrocarbons such as heptane. Not surprisingly, the chemical composition is similar to that of cedar essential oils.Traditional uses for katran include a number of medicinal uses for humans and animals, and as an insect repellant. Unfortunately the authors used “volatile oils” and not “essential oils” as a keyword, so the article may not be easily found by an online search.

Posted by Rob on February 1, 2009 in Aromatics in Print, Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 04, 2008

Aromatics in Print

This is a new series that will review aromatics information found in the print media. When possible a web link will be provided. Items that have broader information available may stimulate a full blog post as a followup.

  • Plants and People: Society for Economic Botany Newsletter, Volume 22, Fall 2008 announced a meeting held in Vietnam November 1-4, 2008: Cultivated Agarwood in Vietnam: A Guided Field Tour of Successful Agarwood Production in the Mekong Delta.  The seminar was organized by Seven Mountain Co. and presenters were Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota, and Henry Heuveling van Beek.  For more information about Cultivated Agarwood (Aquilaria crassna) see this link. Plants and People is posted online in PDF format. We've blogged about agarwood in Vietnam earlier.
  • This issue also included (p 15) a list of "Recent Publications on Medicinal Plants from India."
  • The Herb Companion (January 2009) reviews the book: The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston, which is available at
  • Herb Companion also has a short piece on home distillation of "Herbal Waters" and suggests that the distillation process destroys the antioxidant properties of the herbs distilled. They cite an article from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55:8436-8443, "Antioxidant Activity and Phenolic Composition of Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia Emeric ex Loiseleur) Waste (Abstract available but they still charge for the article).
  • Herb Companion discusses and links to the new International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP) which, in my understanding, is still a work in progress. They also link to a newly formed Fairwild Foundation which will have responsibility for final implementation and the quality of the standard.
  • The December issue of perfumer&flavorist leads off with and editorial: "Everyone's a Critic: Are Fragrance Bloggers and Critics Good for the Industry?" Jeb Gleason-Allured, the Editor concludes that "yes, fragrance criticism and bloggers are ultimately good for the industry. A lively and devoted discourse is the lifeblood of any art form, and fragrance has for too long been ignored. . ."
  • In the same issue of p&f, there are a number of articles addressing the subject of naturals in the Fragrance industry: "(Not) Lost in Translation", p. 41; a sidebar on p. 42 on "the Challenge of Organics and Natural Material Sourcing"; "Defining 'Natural'" [a discussion of the Natural Products Association's Seal] on pp 44-46; "Natural Stories: Ylang-ylang" pp 47-51. There is also a review of a recent talk by New York Times scent critic Chandler Burr on "The Future of Naturals in Perfumery", p. 20. The editorial direction of P&F seems to be moving in the direction of accepting and using Natural products, probably under the Editorship of the (relatively) young Jeb Gleason-Allured, and Natural Products Editor Brian Lawrence.
  • The November 2008 issue of the AARP Bulletin has a piece in its Health Section (p. 26) entitled "The Scent of Roses for Rosy Dreams." It references a study done in Germany in which researchers administered the scent of roses, rotten eggs, or an unscented control to 15 women after they entered REM sleep. When awakened one minute later, they reported their dreams. The rose resulted in dreams with a positive emotional tone, while the rotten eggs produced the opposite. A more detailed report on the study is online in Health News.

Posted by Rob on December 4, 2008 in Aromatics in Print, Book/Movie Reviews, Oil Crops, Perfumery, Research, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack