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Peppermint Oil: (Mentha X Piperita)

  • Peppermint is sometimes regarded as 'the world's oldest medicine', with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago.  

  • Pliny the elder, 79 AD, an ancient Roman author, natural philosopher and naval and military commander wrote Naturalis Historia, it tells us that the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with peppermint at their feasts and adorned their tables with its sprays, and that their cooks flavored both their sauces and their wines with its essence.

  • Peppermint oil is also used in construction and plumbing to test for the tightness of pipes and disclose leaks by its odor.

 

Pomace Olive Oil: (Olea Europaea)

  • Dynastic Egyptians before 2000 BC imported olive oil from Crete, Syria and Canaan and oil was an important item of commerce and wealth.  Egyptians used it alongside beeswax as a cleanser, moisturizer and antibacterial agent since pharaonic times.

  • The first recorded oil extraction is known from the Hebrew Bible and took place during the Exodus from Egypt, during the 13th century BC.  During this time, the oil was derived through hand-squeezing the berries and stored in special containers under guard of the priests.

  • In 2000, Japan was the top importer of olive oil in Asia (13,000 tons annually) because consumers there believe both the ingestion and topical application of olive oil to be good for skin and health.

 

Sandalwood Oil: (Santalum)

  • The wood retains its fragrance for many years, so it is highly valued for carved statues and prayer beads.  The wood may also be ground into a paste and mixed with water to produce incense.

  • It is also used to focus the mind for meditation.

  • It grows to a height of up to 50 feet (17 m), with a slender trunk and abundant foliage.  A sandal tree must mature to at least 8-years-old before it is harvested for its essential oil.  However, the quality improves significantly when the trees are harvested at 15 years or older.

 

Sesame Seed Oil: (Gingelly Oil)

  • Historically, sesame was cultivated more than 5000 years ago as a drought-tolerant crop and was able to grow where other crops failed.

  • Sesame was cultivated during the Indus valley civilization and was the main oil crop.  It was probably exported to Mesopotamia around 2500 BC.  The Assyrians used sesame oil as a food, salve and medication.

  • Sesame seeds are protected by a capsule which only bursts when the seeds are completely ripe.

 

Shea Butter: (Karite Tree)

  • Separating/cracking: The outer pulp of the fruit is removed. When dry, the nut, which is the source of shea butter, must be separated from the outer shell.  This is a social activity, traditionally done by Women Elders and young girls who sit on the ground and break the shells with small rocks.

  • Accounts from as early as Cleopatra's Egypt speak of caravans bearing clay jars of valuable Shea butter for cosmetic use.  The funeral beds of early kings were carved in the wood of shea trees.

  • Shea butter's skin care and healing properties were first harnessed thousands of years ago. The history of shea as a precious commodity can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, where shea butter was and continues to be used to protect the hair and skin against the fierce sun and the hot dry winds of African deserts and savannah.

 

Sunflower Oil: (Helianthus Annuus)

  • Sunflower oil can be used to run diesel engines when mixed with diesel in the tank.

  • Sunflower oil was first industrially produced in 1835 in the Russian Empire.  The world's largest sunflower oil producers now are Ukraine, Russia and Argentina.

  • It may also help food stay fresher and healthier for longer periods of time.

 

Tea Tree: (Melaleuca Alternifolia)

  • The use of the name probably originated from Captain Cook's description of one of these shrubs that he used to make an infusion to drink in place of tea.  

  • The name tea tree is used for a number of plants, mostly from Australia and New Zealand, from the family Myrtaceae, related to the myrtle.

  • The indigenous Bundjalung people of eastern Australia use "tea trees" as a traditional medicine by inhaling the oils from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds. They also sprinkle leaves on wounds, after which a poultice is applied. In addition, tea tree leaves are soaked to make an infusion to treat sore throats or skin ailments.

 

Vegetable Glycerin: (Glycerol)

  • It is also used in glycerin soap for people with sensitive skin.  Treats gum disease, as it inactivates the associated bacterial colonies.

  • Vegetable glycerin can be used as a substitute for ethanol — the chemical commonly called “alcohol” — in making botanical extracts, such as herbal essences.

  • Vegetable glycerin can be used medically, and is a common ingredient in cough mixtures, due to its soothing properties

 

Vitamin A Oil: (Palmitate (Retinyl A)

  • Vitamin A is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of retinal, which combines with protein opsin to form rhodopsin, the light-absorbing molecule necessary for both low-light (scotopic vision) and color vision.

  • The discovery of vitamin A may have stemmed from research dating back to 1816, when physiologist François Magendie observed that dogs deprived of nutrition developed corneal ulcers and had a high mortality rate.

  • Vitamin A was first synthesized in 1947 by two Dutch chemists, David Adriaan van Dorp and Jozef Ferdinand Arens.

 

Vitamin E

  • Vitamin E has many biological functions, the antioxidant function being the most important and best known.  Other functions include enzymatic activities, gene expression, and neurological function(s). The most important function of vitamin E has been suggested to be in cell signaling.

  • Vitamin E was discovered in 1922 by Herbert McLean Evans and Katharine Scott Bishop and first isolated in a pure form by Gladys Anderson Emerson in 1935 at the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Erhard Fernholz elucidated its structure in 1938 and shortly afterwards the same year, Paul Karrer and his team first synthesized it.

 

Watermelon Seed Oil (Citrullus Vulgaris)

  • It is particularly common in West Africa, where it is also called ootanga oil or kalahari oil.  Watermelons probably originated almost 5,000 years ago in the Kalahari Desert of Africa where botanists have found its wild ancestors still growing.  Watermelons migrated north through Egypt, and during the Roman era they were cultivated and prized.

  • Watermelon seeds have been found at Twelfth Dynasty sites and in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Watermelon is also mentioned in the Bible as a food eaten by the ancient Israelites while they were in bondage in Egypt.

  • Watermelon flesh can be red, orange, yellow or white.

 

Witch Hazel: (Hamamelis)

  • The name Witch in witch-hazel has its origins in Middle English wiche, from the Old English wice, meaning "pliant" or "bendable"

  • "Witch hazel" was used in England as a synonym for Wych Elm, Ulmus glabra; American colonists simply extended the familiar name to the new shrub.

  • This plant extract was widely used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans and is a component of a variety of commercial healthcare products.  It is recommended to women to reduce swelling and soothe wounds resulting from childbirth.

Fun Facts (P-W)