Q: This combined scientific and real-world experience has led to a passion for developing products that really work and educating others on improving their own health.
I grew up on a farm and even during college I would milk cows in the morning and at night. I took college for my double-majors in agriculture and psychology. On the farm, we learned that the best theories were those that lead to RESULTS. There was no insurance for our farm animals. If they got sick, we had to get them better or lose money. In psychology, I was always fascinated by the science of brain chemistry. How does the brain work and why? And how can we help make it better?
When Leiann was introduced to herbs and essential oils, and she started seeing results, I started to use this same kind of thinking. In many ways, herbs and essentials oils were the overlap of my interests in agriculture and my studies in the science of psychology. I was interested in the science behind herbs and essential oils. Just as in agriculture – I wanted to try and get the best results. And this passion for results is what has continued to push me in my research to deepen my understanding of nutrition, herbs, and essential oils. It’s the drive to get the best results that pushes me to make multiple versions of our blends for specific purposes and then to test them over and over again with many different people. Ultimately that’s what we are after – real results for real people.
Q: You also have some interesting experience serving in the military. How has this contributed to your perspective and passion on health and essential oils?
While serving in the Army many of my duties required Secret Security Clearances. These duties were within the handling and application of Biological weapons. The Army would not appreciate any further description of details. But I feel I can say that it was an educational and eye-opening experience. I consider that learning and experience an opportunity of a lifetime. Much of what I learned has direct application to what I do with Natural Health applications, and I am grateful to be able to use this background to be of service in the lives of others.
Q: You have pioneered something new and amazing in the essential oils field– Mineral Enhanced Oils. What is your goal with your new frontier of Mineral Enhanced Oils?
True science needs to be more than a THEORY, it needs to produce RESULTS. We want people to FEEL BETTER and get real help with the issues that they are facing.
We learned this on the farm with the animals, and the same held true when working with blends. Regardless of the intention, the real question is how well do they produce RESULTS with real problems in real life situations?
This is why I have always been emphatic about people trying the blends – oftentimes in multiple versions – to see which blends produce the best results. I would develop five to 10 versions of every oil blend, and ask Leiann, our kids, and, in Leiann’s words, “practically everyone whoever came through the door” to test their responses. My teenage kids sometimes complained that their friends were getting “hit by a drive-by of oils,” and asked me to “ask first, oil-ize later.” But the results were that we would soon know which theories would actually get the best results in real life.
As I have already mentioned, it the RESULTS that have always been my passion. Whether in crops, animals, and especially in people – we want to help people get the best results. So the goal in blending oils is to put different oils together that would create a synergy, where together they would function better than using the individual oils separately. But I realized while doing this, that there are other components that also could have a very interesting synergistic effect – specifically MINERALS. Essential oils have a relatively unknown ability to be catalysts for minerals within our body. So what if we designed essential oils blends to capitalize on this ability? Not only were we able to develop blends specifically designed to help spark mineral balancing within the body, but we found that actually combining these blends with the minerals in the blend itself seemed to speed up and magnify the results that people saw. And seeing even better results with mineral enhanced oil blends has me more excited than ever about the difference that we can make!
Q: Now that we understand some of your background and goal in your new frontier of Mineral Enhanced oils, can you give us some examples of the “science” behind essential oils?
Absolutely! While some people look at essential oils from a “spiritual” perspective, I have researched them from a more scientific perspective, and oils have a lot of deep and rich science. For example, many people understand that the same oil type grown in different parts of the earth can have different properties.
These differences can be shown in the different terpenoids and phenolic compounds that can be seen in a spectrograph of the oil. What most people may not be aware of is that these components don’t change just based on soil composition and geographical locations. They can also change from harvest to harvest even in the exact same field based on the amount of rain or sunlight, additional soil nutrients added, or even the temperature.
That is why I always like to look at the spectrograph of the oils that I am using when working on blends. I want to make sure that each particular oils has the proper components to help augment the effect that we are looking for in the blend. And this approach has also been showing up in scientific journals, such as this one:
Source: Sofia Lafhal, Pierre Vanloot, Isabelle Bombarda, Robert Valls, Jacky Kister, et al.. Raman spectroscopy for identification and quantification analysis of essential oil varieties: a multivariate approach applied to lavender and lavandin essential oils. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, Wiley, 2015, 46 (6), pp.577-585. ff10.1002/jrs.4697ff. ffhal-01451419f https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01451419/document
While many people may not be experienced in reading and understanding this spectrograph, almost all of us can understand a very basic point from the table below published in this journal. This table shows just 28 of the known compounds in lavender (there’s another table of additional components at the link above). The point is that when you look at the “minimum and maximum” values outlined in red, you can easily tell that there can be a huge difference in the amount of various compounds in a particular harvest. For example, lavender with a camphor content of 1.04 may perform very differently from lavender with a camphor content of only 0.17 depending on what you are using it for. And this is why I want to see the spectrograph results for specific compounds in the essential oils that we use in our blends.
Q: What causes the same plant to have different characteristics based on the soil or where it is grown?
We have already mentioned the ability of essential oils to be catalysts for minerals. This is actually what leads the same plant to have different characteristics based on the concentrations of various minerals are in the soil where these essential oils are grown. For example, many Essential Oils can be effective catalysts for Carbon, Nitrogen, Potassium and more. And different concentrations or ratios of these minerals, often varying widely by the country of origin and soil that they are grown in, can make a difference in the characteristics of the oil from the plant – often what is referred to as a “chemotype.”
One example of the differences in growing conditions affecting a plant that people may be familiar with is an orange. Imagine, for example, oranges grown in California with an average of 15 inches of rain per year compared to those grown in Florida with 52 inches of rain per year. California oranges will tend to have a thicker skin and be sturdier while Florida oranges will have thinner skins and be juicier. With essential oils the differences are more the result of differences in minerals in the soil and not necessarily to do with rainfall.
So when looking at the interaction of oils and minerals, first and foremost you have to look at ratios. A simple report will only give you a snapshot of what that particular sample is manifesting at the time it is accessed. In addition to this the skill of the operator of the scan at the time plays a critical role in the quality of the scan. Even if the ability of the operator of the scan/assessment is at the novice level, a lot can still be gleaned from that particular report. But the most important thing is the ratios that are recognized in the report, and the country or region of the world where the oil originates from. Certain areas of the world have a tendency to produce oil(s) with certain characteristics.
In a college art class the concept of "Negative Space Art" – focusing on “drawing what wasn't there.” Sketch what was blank space around what was there. It worked very well for me but not just in art, as I also took this principle to my formulation of oils. I pay attention not only to what is showing on the analysis of the oils, and I also PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT ISN’T THERE -- especially if it is something that typically shows in the analysis.
Q: How would something “not there” in an oil impact its results?
When looking at reports on essential oils, you should remember that it is something that can be referred to as a “zero sum game,” meaning that a higher percentage of one component equates to a lower percentage in another area. While many people have been schooled into believing that a super high percentage of a given component that the oil is known for will tend to indicate a higher quality oil, this is not really the case. For example, in some oils such as Birch or Orange it’s given that the one component can be as high as 99%, while in some other oils this same component might be 80% or 90% of the oil. In an oil with over 90% of a single component, it means that the other components or cofactors have to be less than 10%. And sometimes these other components or cofactors are extremely important for getting the best results.
One example of this is Oregano. Most people like to see the main component up at like 80%. When that is at that level, it is really harsh. I like to see that oil showing at like the lower 60% range for that same component and that allows for other necessary components to be there and in an amount to serve as “co-factors” that also contribution to how beneficial the oil is overall.
Q: Can you give us some examples of different soil types or minerals in the soil can affect the characteristics of essential oils?
Sure. With essential oils, Basil is one example of different minerals in the soil leading to different characteristics or chemotypes in the plant or oil. If Basil is grown in a soil that is high in nitrogen, that Basil essential oil is known as Basil mentha chavacol. Whereas the oil from the very same Basil plant grown in soil high in potassium, is known as Basil linalool essential oil. Again, these are the same plant but show up as different chemotypes depending on what minerals are high in the soil.
Another example is Thyme oil. Usually the Thyme plant is grown in a higher Nitrogen soil and will end up being Thyme thymol type. The same Thyme plant grown in a higher Potassium soil will be Thyme linalool type. And while these different types have some similarities, they also have some differences in what they work best for.
Rosemary, and Lavender also follow the same pattern, but there are oils with smaller differences, for example, Fennel oil. With Sweet Fennel and Bitter Fennel, the difference with these two oils are ever so slight, when compared to the Basil or Thyme, but we do see the contribution of Nitrogen pushing and giving rise to the Bitter Fennel and the Potassium pushing and giving rise to the Sweet Fennel types.
We need to understand the chemotypes, or the ratio of compounds within an essential oil, in order to get the best oil for the job at hand. This differences in the chemotypes is especially important when you’re using oils for specific purposes in clinical settings, and to a somewhat lesser extent, also in non-clinical or “real-life” applications.
Q: Do you have specific examples of what characteristics would be affected by specific minerals in the soil?
There are several minerals that we know their effect on essential oils that become especially important when you’re using oils for specific purposes. Here are some examples of the differences:
Potassium tends to push the conditions to a more neutral or even alkaline pH soil condition, and this produces a sweet type of oil. I guess that sugar/sweetness tends to make the medicine go down easier.
Potassium will usually move the oil to a more positive state, IE; positively charged.
The higher Nitrogen content of the soil tends to push the pH of the plant to be more acidic and thus you end up with a more bitter or hotter type of oil.
A higher Nitrogen soils will tend to push the oil into a negatively state oil, IE; negative charge.
Q: What purposes can be affected by these differences? I know that you have spoken about both immune support.
Yes, the effect of an essential oils on the immune system is a prime example of a purpose that can be drastically affected by the chemotype or characteristic of an oil. It’s important to understand that some pathogens are negatively charged and some are positively charged. Since the ratio of potassium to nitrogen can affect the “charge” an essential oil, when using essential oils to help fight a pathogen, you want a negatively charged oil to fight a positively charged pathogen and a positively charged oil to fight a negatively charged pathogen. If these aspects are not accounted for, then it is just a “crap shoot” (where it’s just left to chance) and with the hope that you get it right. This whole idea is also very important to understand when doing formulations and blending. And it’s also important that the Clinician or therapist understand this in order to select the best protocol for the patient.
Q: How about joint support? In your blog you have mentioned that the amount of silica in the soil can affect how an essential oil can help with joint flexibility.
That’s another excellent example. One aspect of essential oils that is frequently overlooked is their ability to catalyze carbon and its cofactor, silicon. Carbon as an element is prevalent in all life, and as a result, acute deficiencies in carbon are not a normal thing. And while perhaps being chronically deficient may be possible in some situations, it usually doesn't take much to correct the situation. So, what is more important than the actual levels of carbon itself, is the importance of the silica, the essential co-factor to carbon.
The element carbon, because of the way it bonds with other elements, is the major contributor to the structure stability and strength of a molecule. Silica, a naturally occurring form of silicon mineral in the soil, also plays a role in the structure and strength stability by adding flexibility, IE; the strength-flexibility ratio. And, as you can imagine, flexibility is so very important to our joints, skin, nails, and other tissues.
And although you asked about joint support, there are also other uses that can be impacted as well. For example, carbon is also known to protect against cancers of many types, but here as well we see that if a person is silica deficient, the carbon can't do its job in regards to anti-cancer protection. Silica also plays a direct role with carbon in many other roles as well. And it’s not merely these two minerals alone that interact. Nitrogen also helps “provide the power”, so to speak, to fuel the interaction of Silica and Carbon.
Q: Considering all of details involved in the science of formulating essential oils blends, do you have a strategy that you use?
Basically, there isn't one hard and fast rule to addressing these ratios and results. So in addition to the numbers on the report, specific and even peripheral knowledge of the subject and experience working with a variety of people aromatherapy plays a major role in getting your head around to understanding what to look for in a report.
And again, that’s why I always like to make up multiple versions of a blends and have people experience them and give feedback. It’s only those blends that pass the scrutiny of Leiann and some key graduates from her school that make it to the consumers.
Q: Is it the “Kings Apothecary Consumer Approved” mark that certifies that this oil or blend has been positively reviewed by both oils experts and consumers?
Exactly! The “Kings Apothecary Consumer Approved” mark only goes on the oils and blends that have been tested by Leiann and her graduates.
This is our certification that these are oils and blends that they love and that we hope that mothers and fathers and even children everywhere will love, too!