December 22, 2008

Have your own business with Lavender's Botanicals

We probably won't play it much around here, where we live it every day, but I happened across a computer game called Lavender's Botanicals.

Expand your all-natural personal care business while helping your community in Lavender’s Botanicals! Travel the world and meet people who will help you find new ingredients, recipes, new production facilities and more!

As your business grows, you’ll have to keep your production facilities stocked with resources while developing new products to keep up with the market and increase sales. If you do well and keep yourself true to your all-natural dream, you’ll earn great rewards!

I downloaded the trial version to check it out. For that, I get 60 minutes of game play before I have to drag out my credit card and spend $20 on the full version.  I can Discover 56 Recipes, Solve more than 90 quests, Visit 17 unique cities, and make over 200 products.

I read through the 22 pages of help screens, lowered the music level, put the game into a window, and played the game for 19 minutes. I managed to make 6 bottles of Lavender Lotion in that time, as well as exploring the home city and talking to the aunt who is the player's mentor.

The game screens are educational in nature, providing information about ingredients and products. The product list, at least at the beginning, is limited, but you have to go searching for ingredients before you can use them.

I would guess this game is aimed at teenagers, and it appears to be an excellent educational tool about running a natural products business.

The game is from uclickgames. Derek Nolen was the Executive Producer and provided the Game Concept.  Mystery Studio was the Developer.

If you're interested in a more complete review, try this review by Marc Saltzman on GameZebo.

Posted by Rob on December 22, 2008 in Book/Movie Reviews, Education, Marketing | 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

May 18, 2008

Book Review: Medicinal and Aromatic Crops

Medicinal and Aromatic Crops: Harvesting, Drying and Processing Edited by Serdar Oztekin and Milan Martinov. Haworth Press: New York. 2007. ISBN 978-1-56022-975-9.

This book was published in 2007, but we recently obtained a copy for our library and realized that it should be in the library, or on the work desk, of anyone who is involved in the production or processing of medicinal or aromatic plants (acronymized in the book as MAP), or even those who have a curiosity about where essential oils come from or how they are or can be produced.

The book starts out with an excellent introduction to the issues involved in aromatic plant production and sustainability as the agricultural system changes from the previous norm of wildcrafted MAP to the more complicated processes of cultivation and the problems of assuring quality, purity, and safety with the transition from Good Wildcrafting Practices (GWP) to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) which are often unknown to the farmers. There is a good discussion of related environmental issues. One shortfall is that there is no discussion of organic production.

The focus of the book is on mechanization, which the editors claim is generally neglected in the literature and in practice for a variety of reasons, but which should be considered not only to improve production quality  but to improve working conditions for workers. Manual and semi-mechanized methods are not neglected, and renewable energy sources are discussed.

The chapter on Extraction gives a good overview of all the processes commonly used for aromatic plants. The discussion of distillation is illustrated by a thorough description of the production of Turkish rose oil.

A chapter on Industrial Utilization of MAP unfortunately relegates Cosmetics, Perfumery, and Aromatherapy to four paragraphs, with Aromatherapy in a single (short) paragraph, hardly doing justice to the usage.

The book closes with a chapter covering the management of MAP agricultural enterprises and an Appendix discussing a software program that has been developed to assist farmers in the decision making process.

The book is well illustrated with photos and drawings, unfortunately in black and white, and is extensively referenced and well indexed.

Posted by Rob on May 18, 2008 in Book/Movie Reviews, Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Oil Crops, Regulatory Issues | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 11, 2008

New Book "examines" Alternative Medicine

A new book due to published in England later his month (Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernse, published by Bantam on April 21 at £16.99) is excerpted in the [London] Daily Mail with the title Are we being hoodwinked by alternative medicine? Two leading scientists examine the evidence.

Illustrated with a provocative photo showing oil being poured from a vessel containing a rose onto the back of a nude woman (suggesting Rainbow Therapy? or aromatic massage? or?) the authors claim to be evaluating the claims of alternative medicine "by using the principles of evidence-based medicine."

The article includes information on Alexander Technique, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Chiropractic Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Magnet Therapy, and Osteopathy and includes a sidebar on "Best and Worst Herbal Remedies."

It's hard to evaluate the information presented in the excerpt from the book prepublished in a newspaper, since there are no references given and the information presented is sketchy at best.  For example, the section on aromatherapy is:


WHAT IS IT? Plant essences (known as "essential oils") are used to treat or prevent illnesses or enhance wellbeing. There are several ways of doing this. Most commonly, the diluted oil is applied to the skin via a gentle massage, but it can also be added to a bath or diffused in the air.

Aromatherapists believe that different essential oils have different specific effects. Aromatherapy is advocated for chronic conditions such as anxiety, tension headache and musculoskeletal pain.

DOES IT WORK? Some clinical trials confirm the relaxing effects of aromatherapy massage. However, this is usually short-lived and therefore of debatable therapeutic value. Some essential oils do seem to have specific effects. For instance, tea tree has anti-microbial properties. However, these efects [sic] are far less reliable those of conventional antibiotics. There is no evidence that aromatherapy can treat specific diseases.

I've had personal experience with several of the therapies covered in this article, and I'm sure that they work. In the case of Aromatherapy, Herbalism, and Magnet Therapy, I'm familiar with enough evidence to suggest that, when used appropriately, they do work.  I've experienced Chiropractic therapy, Massage, and Osteopathy and I can report varying success. I've also experienced our conventional allopathic medicine system with varying success. My personal opinion, as a user of these systems, is that an educated integrative approach is best. In theory, the sort of information included in this book is what is needed for the consumer to evaluate therapies so that they work with their medical providers to get the best possible care. Based on the summary of Aromatherapy above, it would appear to be nothing of the kind. I guess we'll have to wait for the book.

This book appears to be part of a well orchestrated campaign in the UK to discredit alternative medicine.  The same campaign is going on, to a slightly lesser degree, in the US. We've seen that in the media recently, as previously discussed in this blog.


Posted by Rob on April 11, 2008 in Aromatherapy, Book/Movie Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2008

Aromatherapy Thymes Notable Launch, a website/blog for the magazine industry, has declared Aromatherapy Thymes magazine as one of the "30 Most Notable Launches of 2007."

There are many health and medicine magazines jockeying for a position on today’s newsstands, but few give readers the type of information that Aroma Therapy provides which is why it has made it on the list of top launches for 2007.

Mr. Magazine has interviewed Patricia Carol Brooks, the Editorial Director, about the process of creating the magazine. She found her two biggest challenges to be "maintaining the integrity of the essential oil trade through informative articles and staying in contact with essential oil distillers in the U.S and abroad and coordinating the distribution channels for our market." By 2011 she expects the magazine to be "recognized worldwide as a reliable reference for aromatherapy and a publication that brought the distilling, trade, sell and distribution of essential oils to forefront."

There were a total of 715 new magazines launched in 2007, so this actually a fairly significant honor.

The blog link for the interviews is here. (The link above is to their web page, which is slightly abridged.)

Posted by Rob on April 9, 2008 in Aromatherapy, Book/Movie Reviews, Notes and News, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 28, 2007

Welcome to Aromatherapy Thymes Magazine

Aromatherapythymes11 A new magazine, Aromatherapy Thymes, has published its inaugural issue, and has been reviewed on the MediaPost publication MagazineRack. The review is somewhat mixed, and it's clear the reviewer is not familiar with aromatherapy. Aromatherapy Thymes is to be published quarterly by Willoughby Publications in Los Angeles.

We don't have a copy of the magazine yet, so we can't do our own review. The web site has been up for some time (since 1999 according to Alexa) and I seem to remember getting advertising information at least two years ago. As far as I know, this is the only print based Aromatherapy magazine currently being published in the US. Aromatic Thymes ceased publication in 2000, the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal last published in mid 2006.

The magazine joins other worldwide print publications such as Aromatherapy Today, the International Journal of Aromatherapy, Simply Essential, Aromascents, and In Essence, and the online Aromatic Sage. UPDATE: Other existing publications found: International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy, International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics.

Putting out an aromatherapy magazine has to be a labor of love--it's a lot of work, there aren't that many readers among the general public, and the complications of distribution, finding articles, dealing with publishers, selling advertising, etc. are a daunting task.

Congratulations to the publishers of Aromatherapy Thymes for finally getting it going, and we wish you a long and happy publishing career.

Posted by Rob on October 28, 2007 in Aromatherapy, Book/Movie Reviews | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 25, 2007

Silence Of The Bees

NATURE's "Silence of the Bees" premieres Sunday, October 28 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). 

You can look at the trailer and some excerpts on line here: Video NATURE | Silence Of The Bees | Online Exclusive | PBS - PBS, Nature, WNET, Thirteen, pollinators - Dailymotion Share Your Videos

In this online-only video, scientists and bee experts featured in the program discuss the crucial role that honeybees, a "keystone species," play in our economy and ecosystems, as well as bees’ fascinating social organization and what we can do to reverse the decline of nature’s pollinators.

Posted by Rob on October 25, 2007 in Book/Movie Reviews, Events, Notes and News | Permalink | Comments (0)