Nadine Artemis is a true visionary in the fields of health and beauty. She is the creator of Living Libations, providing the purest botanical products on the planet—an exquisite line of essential oils, serums, elixirs, and dental care products. A passionate researcher, innovative aromacologist, and modern-day alchemist, Nadine develops immune-enhancing formulas and medicinal blends for radiant wellness. She is also a speaker, educator, and the author of Holistic Dental Care: The Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums and the forthcoming book Renegade Beauty.

alanis.com: Welcome, Nadine. So great to be speaking with you. Alanis adores you and considers you a true mentor when it comes to essential oils, dating back to when she first became passionate about pure oils herself in Canada when she was 18 years old. When did botanicals first capture your imagination?

Nadine: It was really early on. When I was a child, our home was a cottage surrounded by nature. We had a huge backyard with trees, and I spent the majority of every day outside. Plus, all of my grandparents — which at one point included eight of them—lived out in the country; in different parts of Canada. I would play in the forests for hours, gathering and mixing the materials I found there — completely engaged in and in love with nature.

Later, in 9th grade, I was at the library beginning to do research for a science fair project when a book literally fell off the shelf. The title was How to Create Cosmetics. When I picked it up, I immediately landed on a chapter about perfumes and how they were made with essential oils that were first distilled in Egypt. I was fascinated by this book encounter because I was already into mixing and blending my mother’s perfumes. I didn’t quite get the division between natural and synthetic ingredients at that point, but that book helped me understand that perfumes were originally made of real plant matter like flowers and woods and berries. I found that really interesting.

As I’m sure many people are, I am fascinated by ancient Egyptian culture. For me, one of my connections to the culture is my great grandfather. He was the president of the London Egyptology Society and had done translations of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and had gone on archeological digs to Egypt as the illustrator.

There in the library, I felt these worlds were bridging — between nature, ancient Egyptian culture, and perfume. So I decided that for my science fair project I would recreate L’Air du Temp, the perfume by Nina Ricci. It turned out to be one of the funniest science experiments I have ever done — and my first official foray into essentials oils.

THE REVELATION

When I was 18 years old and at university, The Body Shop was really big. In the beginning, their products seemed to be a lot closer to natural than anything I had seen. They had oil perfumes, for one thing! But this was also the time when I was learning a lot about the quality of food and skin care products. I already understood that most foods on the grocery store shelves were totally processed and came from about five different companies. And suddenly I had a big revelation. Even though there were stores popping up everywhere with “natural” skincare product lines, I realized that there was no such thing as a “dew berry” in nature, and there was no cucumber in the face toner. “Oh my god!, I SO get it!” I said. The whole beauty care industry is completely false. It is no more real than the food industry.

From that moment forward, I started to make my own food and my own beauty care products, which led to making things for all my friends and family.

IN SEARCH OF THE PURE AND THE TRUE

I was reading any and every essential oil book I could find and learning about really special ingredients, like angelica and immortelle. But I couldn’t find them anywhere. This was just pre-Internet, and so I wrote to government consulates in several different countries trying to find out where the distillers were.

In addition to the more exotic oils, I started receiving samples of oils like bergamot, tea tree, and lemongrass right from the distiller—organic, artisanal oils of a whole different level of purity. This was when I came to understand that most of the health and beauty brands out there, including the ones at the health food stores, were using highly adulterated “essential oils” sourced from companies that were mainly based out of New Jersey that make “nature identicals” — for example, recipes that smell almost like peppermint and lavender, but not really.

True, authentic distillations of essential oils are rare in the world, and most of the production is for the food and flavor industry that puts the flavor in products like orange juice, menthol cigarettes, fast food hamburger patties, liqueurs, and of course, perfumes. So, the process of tracking down the pure oils was so awesome! That catapulted me into a whole different realm of research and experimentation. I was finding kinds of essential oils that weren’t even in the books I was reading. So a natural next step was to start an importing business of essential oils.

AROMATHERAPY & MEETING ALANIS

It was 1994, and I was still at university. Six months from graduation, I opened a store called Osmosis on Queen Street in Toronto, which is our hip area, like Soho in New York. It was North America’s first full-concept aromatherapy store. I made all the formulations from the gorgeous oils we were importing. We had a huge blending bar where people could even buy an essential oil by the drop.

That’s where I first met Alanis. It was 1996. I remember how I would mop the store floor at the end of the day listening to Jagged Little Pill. Alanis was on tour and came to town for a big concert, and a friend of hers from Ottawa knew friends of mine who suggested that she might want to check out the store. So we all rendezvoused there around midnight, after her show. It was so much fun! She was like a kid in a candy store, delighting in every smell and picking up on the many subtle nuances of the oils.

We closed the store in 1999. Although I still had a handful of private clients and worked on some perfume projects, I just wanted to chill for a moment. That had been quite a run — studying, importing, and opening a store. So I pretended like I was retired for a year, but it was really just a pause … to think and to re-create.

LOVE, PASSION & LIBATION CREATION

In 2000, I met Ron, who is now my husband. Coming together with him, I very quickly discovered a whole new level of alchemy — energy that seemed to multiply beyond the two of us. Within a month of us being together we had formed Living Libations online, which is our current incarnation. It has just been so much fun to have my husband as a business partner! — and to have work that comes together through our love and our passion for health and well-being.

Living Libations.com is the foundation of our company, and everything we do springs from there. It was initially created with my formulas from Osmosis, and then new ones have been developed over time. I hadn’t done oral care at the Osmosis stage, but it is such huge part of what we do now — it is so important.

HELLO VENICE, CALIFORNIA!

alanis.com: It’s so exciting that you’ve recently opened a brick-and-mortar store location again as well. Please tell us all about it.

Nadine: Yes, we opened a store in Venice, California, this year. We love that area so much and have many clients there. Also, one of our staff members who’s been with us for over six years lives there. She was ready. And we were ready. So we thought it would be a really fun thing to do. For our grand opening, people came from as far away as Spain to celebrate with us.

So, although our website is the foundation, it is really fun to have a physical location grounding everything we are doing. We’re hearing from so many people who are excited that there is a place on the planet where they can come to smell and feel and taste and touch all of our creations.

alanis.com: How do you help people who visit the new store but don’t know where to begin when it comes to essential oils and other botanicals? Do you offer some kind of education or coaching?

Nadine: One of our services is “appointment shopping,” which is great for people who need and want more focused time and attention. And there is no extra cost associated with that. In general, our staff is very knowledgeable, and we really go deep with our education. Also, there will probably come a time when we’ll offer onsite workshops.

alanis.com: Your YouTube channel is a wonderful resource for learning, too. Watching them is like going on a replenishing mini vacation. How can people find them?

Nadine: It’s the Living in Libations channel on YouTube. One of our goals is to give people a taste of nature while discovering something new or useful or healing.

ESSENTIAL OIL SOURCING: A STORY OF IMPECCABILITY

alanis.com: Where are you sourcing most of your oils these days?

Nadine: We have a great Canadian distiller that provides oils from many of the northern trees that I love. We also work with people in Madagascar, Peru, Brazil, Corsica, Australia, India, Argentina, Guatemala, and California — they are just about everywhere! The really cool thing is that almost 90% of the distillers I found when I began researching at 18 years old are the people we still do business with.

In earlier times, I traveled a lot to visit them, but not as much now. We have relationships that are now over 20 years old. A lot of the people we work with are fourth and fifth generation family distillers. They are masters at what they do. It’s like the wine industry, where you can find master artisan wine makers. It is rare that I will get a new distiller; plus they have to meet very specific and rigorous standards.

We enjoy supporting the families we work with. One of the ways we do this is through contract distilling, which we love to do. For them, it guarantees that their crops will be sold, and that is important because of the varying and often unstable economic situations in some of their countries. Plus, there are certain oils that have to be reserved a few years in advance, like immortelle. So that gives them and us a lot of assurance — of quality and stability.

The whole process is very important to us, including of course always going with organic and wild-crafted botanicals. Quality is always the most important factor for us. We don’t really care about the bottom line. All we want is to create the most pure products for people to put on their skin. And we’re devoted to keeping the purity levels alive and strong.

Most essential oils on the market today are still adulterated in some tiny way, which we know through third-party testing. There are so many subtle nuances in real essential oils, so you want distillers who are distilling slowly and at low temperatures rather than hot and fast because you will actually get more botanical properties that way. One drop of oil can have over 500 different natural components to it, and a slow, low distillation might pick up on another one hundred of these tiny factors. That is when you’re getting a more holistic oil that will have greater subtleties. For example, you could have a mandarin petitgrain (petitgrain being an essential oil that is extracted from the green twigs and leaves of the bitter orange tree) and actually discover a really neat clementine petitgrain. So these are some of the subtle nuances that we love to explore.

HOW ESSENTIAL OILS ARE CAPTURED

alanis.com: Tell us more about the various ways of distilling essential oils.

Nadine: Most essential oils are created through a steam distill process. The simplest way to explain it is you have a vat where you put the plant matter, and then you have a heat source underneath the vat, like a fire. Sometimes they will use dried out plant matter that has already been distilled for the fuel. The essential oil vapors get released from the plant, and then they go into a condensing coil. From there, the vapors are sort of brought back to life through a cooling. And what you have left is the water and essential oil.

There is also a cold-pressing process that is often done with citruses. This is another reason it’s important to have organic citruses as your raw material because they’re pressing the peels and extracting the essential oils from the peels as well.

There is one company that I’ve been working with since 1994 that does something called “supercritical extraction.”  It’s a fluid extraction process that often uses CO2 or carbon dioxide. One of the botanicals they do for us is our seabuckthorn. The process uses pressure to extract essential oils that previously were not able to be extracted.

Some of the rare oils, like jasmine and tuberose, are only available as an absolute, but that process involves the chemical called hexane, which gets 99.9% removed, but again, you need a good distiller for those. Those are the oils we recommend for perfumery — they aren’t oils we would ever put into something that is for skin care or for medicinal use. The absolutes just don’t have the properties and the dynamics that we need for really pure skin care. But they are amazing for perfumery, so we include those.

But then with the CO2 extraction, we were able to get vanilla, for example. Vanilla was only available as an alcohol extract for a long time, like you find at the grocery store. But with the CO2 extraction you get this amazing, beautiful, pure vanilla that has no alcohol, no hexane. And it is not an absolute; the extraction just really captures the plant.

From some plants, like seabuckthorn berry, it’s also able to capture some of the waxes and lipids (or fats) that steam distillation can’t capture. So you usually get something from the CO2 extraction that feels different in texture, and it can be thicker depending on the plant. For example, when you get a supercritical extraction of calendula, you’re getting a calendula that is a thousand times more concentrated than you would with just an infusion of calendula flowers. You also get a far more potent seabuckthorn this way than you get from the cold-pressed method.

For thousands of years, there was only steam distilled and cold-pressing infusions — until the supercritical extraction. I love it!

By the way, if you’ve used essential oils, you know that they’re not really oily. It’s not like the feeling of olive oil. They are actually volatile, which means they have an evaporative quality. So, on one level, the term “oil” doesn’t make much sense.

Also, not all plants have the aromatic molecules that provide the fragrances that we all love so much. But for the ones that do, you can extract the essential oil. So in the cooling process, you get both the water and the essential oil. The essential oil sits on top of the water, and then the two are separated.

If it’s a flower that’s being distilled, the water that is left over after the oil has been skimmed off the top is the flower water — which is also called the hydrosol. If you’re familiar with rose water, for example, that is actually rose-hydrosol from the steam-distilled rose.

While the essential oil is really the gold of the distillation, it is great when distillers make the water available because that is a huge byproduct of distilling. And that water is very special because it is not really water — or at least it shouldn’t be if the distilling process is done with care. It’s not just drops of rose oil in water. It actually contains the micro-soluble, water-soluble components of the essential oils, which have many healing properties of their own.

VIBRATIONAL MEDICINE

alanis.com: What are some of the basic medicinal properties of essential oils?

Nadine: Essential oils are just so fascinating. I love anything to do with plants. Herbal extracts. Flower essences. The essential oils are incredibly multifaceted and concentrated. They reach us on many levels — mental, physiological, emotional, and spiritual levels. Even for people who have temporarily or permanently lost their sense of smell, putting essential oils on the skin is going to have a positive, healing impact.

Every essential oil — whether it is rose or clove or tea tree or another kind — is antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. And many are anti-inflammatory as well. At the same time, they are so gorgeous. Essential oils are dripping, literally, with amazing medicinal properties AND beauty — and I think that is so important on the planet right now. I love that we can use them in so many different ways, from cleaning our house to oral care to getting rid of a zit . . . to just smelling like a dream.

USING ESSENTIAL OILS

alanis.com: Which botanicals can go on the skin vs. which can be ingested internally?

Nadine: We are so used to thinking that we have to ingest a substance for it to really work in the body. We forget about the power of transdermal absorption. So when you want to apply a botanical medicine on your skin, it helps to remember that the skin is our largest organ and that everything we put on our skin goes into our body. Often, the absorptive route through the skin is faster than through the digestive tract. Through digestion, we have substances like saliva and enzymes that help filter and break things down. The intestines, the kidneys, the liver, each of those organs move into gear if we’ve ingested something that is toxic. The skin, though, is a direct route — and there are no other filters.

It’s sobering to know that the average woman is applying over 200 chemicals a day to her skin, a lot of them before she even leaves the house in the morning.

And let’s not forget the nose. When you inhale essential oil molecules through your nose, they connect with the hypothalamus, travel to the lungs, and immediately start working physiologically. And then those molecules are easily transported out of the body a few hours later.

So whether we use them through inhalation or transdermal application, there is no toxic build-up when using a pure essential oil.

BREAST HEALTH

alanis.com: Breast health is such an important topic. Do you make a product blend for breast health in particular?

Nadine: Yes, we make a breast massage oil that includes frankincense, rose otto, cypress, broccoli seed oil, Saint John’s Wort blossom oil that’s infused in organic olive oil, and other exquisite ingredients. For the DIY people, you can make your own very easily just using ingredients like olive oil and frankincense.

When we massage our breasts, we’re stimulating the lymphatic tissue, which helps in so many ways. It aids in getting rid of excess estrogen in breast tissue. It also helps to strengthen the connective tissue, and that is not only important for overall breast health, but it’s also supportive of the cosmetic side of breast health.

If our breasts are in bras all day, it can cause lymphatic edema in the breast tissue, where we get this sort of cesspool effect because the lymph isn’t circulating. If you find that your bra is leaving red marks on your skin, then you want to look for another type of bra or for yoga-type tops that are softer and not cutting off the circulation and stagnating the lymph system in that area. We basically want to set them free as much as we can every day.

We also need to be aware of the antiperspirants and deodorants we’re using.

Every day, many of us are applying aluminum and parabens to our armpits, and a lot of breast cancer is found in the armpit. It’s also been discovered that 99% of breast cancer tissue has parabens in it.

But the wonderful thing is that every day our beauty care can be something that is adding to our overall health, including our breast health.

alanis.com: How often do you recommend that we do breast massage?

Nadine: I’m really low maintenance when it comes to self-care. So I love knowing that I’m set up from the start with purity and that anything I do is going to benefit my body. That’s my baseline. Then I just incorporate breast massage after every bath, as I’m moisturizing my body anyway.

Dry brushing the body is awesome too. I do it every day. Before a bath or shower, it’s extra beneficial if you add an essential oil to the dry brush. I often like one or two drops of frankincense or cypress. We also have a lymph blend. You put a couple of drops in the palm of your hand and then glide the brush over the palm of your hand, getting a fine sort of sprinkling of the oil along the brush. Then start at your feet and just go up up, up, up — so every stroke is up. When you get to your hands and arms, start at your fingertips and brush up toward the heart. Just don’t dry brush your face. 🙂

Also, brush lightly, so it’s almost like butterflies tickling your skin, and use a really nice brush. We have new dry brushes that have bristles made out of really fine copper, which feels amazing on the body and has an energizing effect. These brushes are firm enough to do the job but soft enough for more delicate areas like the breasts. And they don’t leave scratch marks on your body like a loofa can.

THE MIGHTY MICROBIOME – A NEW VIEW OF OUR FRIENDLY FLORA

alanis.com: In addition to breast and lymphatic health, what else are you excited about right now in terms of our health-beauty connection?

Nadine: I am really fascinated by the microbiome — which is a huge area of study and has been over the past ten years or so. In the 90s, it was all about genetics and our DNA, but now we realize that all these tiny beneficial bacteria that reside throughout our bodies also have DNA. Basically, the microbiome encompasses all of our microbes’ genes. From our skin to mouth to gut and beyond, we are hosts for these microbes in our bodies, and we want to create a really great environment for them.

We know about the blogs and websites that shed light on skin care ingredients that are detrimental. And that is all good and very important. But now we can see that it is more than a toxicity issue. We have actually been mutating and killing off very important species that are essential to the biological systems of our bodies.

Many of our modern skin care products actually suppress the skin’s beautiful symbiotic systems. And many of the practices and routines that we have incorporated into our lives in the name of beauty have actually been creating premature aging and poor health. We have been rubbing and scrubbing our skin with a daily diet of chemical cleansers and creams that actually fumigate our friendly flora, the friendly bacteria on our skin. And then we have been removing the food sources of our protective bacteria — the sebum cells and the lipids that are naturally a part of our skin. We are continuously disrupting this balance, the homeostasis of our skin, which is actually the root cause of things like wrinkles, acne, rosacea, and eczema.

I’m passionate about educating people to start thinking of their natural bacteria as their actual beautician. When we outsource our beauty routine to bacteria, we can effectively let these microbes micro-manage our skin care. That is what will ultimately unplug our pores; it’s not going to be plastic exfoliating beads because blackheads really begin with a congested colon. Rosacea is linked to a leaky gut. On the other hand, a healthy microbiome is really the best friend to our health. It is the best beauty cream ever.

Essential oils work in harmony with our microbiome, which is such a cool thing. We can pour frankincense on our flora, bergamot on bacteria, sandalwood on strep. We can use helichrysum on herpes or myrrh on melasma. Essential oils protect us much in the same way that they protect the plants they’re derived from against pathogens, all while supporting the friendly bacteria. Each oil is made up of hundreds of special substances that defy the development of bacterial resistance. So the same substances that can inhibit the pathogenic bacteria from overtaking our body also help to boost the beauty of our skin. They remove toxins, deliver nutrients, and stimulate the cells.

We always want the ratio in our bodies to be about 80% friendly bacteria and 20% (or less) pathogens. We don’t want the pathogens to start overtaking the friendly bacteria, but so many things we do, and so many of the foods we eat, are really inhibiting the health of our microbiome. But again, the great thing is that we have these anti-fungal, anti-bacterial essential oils that work with the friendly bacteria to clean up the pathogens.

In the area of oral care, we now have scientific studies that show how essential oils actually inhibit the communication of pathogens. They inhibit pathogens from forming a biofilm on our teeth, which is another word for plaque. We have scientific studies proving why botanicals like neem, frankincense, peppermint, clove, and cinnamon have been used for oral care for thousands of years.

In this age of antibiotic resistance, which we have created by the overuse of antibiotics, essential oils are really promising. Scientists are now looking for ways to kill off pathogens without killing off the good bacteria.

One of the biggest culprits of the overuse of antibiotics is in agriculture. In the factory farming industry, antibiotics are routinely used on animals. However, in Europe, instead of antibiotics they are adding essential oils like oregano to the food supply for chickens and other animals in order to prevent the spread of diseases.

alanis.com: It seems that we have been in conflict with our bodies’ natural capacities for rebalancing and healing.

Nadine: I often use that analogy. In effect, we have been carpet bombing our mouths with harsh toothpastes and mouthwashes that, according to statistics, create 36,000 cases of oral cancer a year. And yet you can find twenty brands at the store. We’ve had the same approach to dealing with acne, using harsh chemicals to obliterate it. We’ve been douching our vaginas with chemicals that can affect pregnancy and birth. And we have had this same mentality with growing food. “Let’s just rid the soil of its microbiome, so we can grow things!” It is so backwards.

Really, every ingredient matters.

When we think of all of this holistically, we have to really go deep and wide. We need to step away from bottles at the cosmetic counter and bring in the confluence of the cosmos: From the meteorites that plant microbes on our planet to the carbon content of our cells, we are physically linked to the atoms of comets that fell to the earth and the elements of exploding stars. Physicists tell us that 93% of the mass of our bodies is stardust. Paracelsus, the 16th-century alchemist, instinctively understood the intimate connection between us and the galaxy.

I feel like our bodies are starving for a reunion with the elements. We need to bathe in our life-affirming bacteria — which brings us back to nature. Think about the relationship that makes a flower grow: Flowers grab sunlight from a star that is about eight light-years away and swirls its photons together with water and carbon dioxide to transform a pattern of cells into fragrant blossoms. That is so radical! Plants are the original cosmic chemists, endlessly assembling the molecules of the world. We actually live by the grace of the assembly of plants. Plants are continually mixing elemental matter into the manna that we can use to continually rebuild our bodies throughout our lifetime.

For me, it is the life force of this plant perfection that I want to mix and meld with my microbiome. The epidermis of the plants works totally synergistically with our cells. They can turn on electrons. They can turn on protective genes. They can turn on anti-inflammatory proteins through the use of superherbs like turmeric. Using essential oils on our skin can stimulate circulation and boost our immunity. And on a pure outer beauty level, they prevent the breakdown of our collagen without buying a $100 jar of fancy petroleum-derived stuff.

When we’re talking about “anti-aging,” if anything is going to work it is the pure oils from these very active plants. Rather than preservatives like methyl paraben, I prefer that each drop I put on my body contains this boundless, infinite bio-active botanical beauty. When nature provides such effective elements to grace our skin, then the use of synthetics, I think, is just insanity.

BREAKING UP WITH BUBBLES

alanis.com: Your research and views on soap are pretty revolutionary. How does soap affect our microbiome?

Nadine: So, you never, ever want to soap your whole body. You really only want to do pits and privates. I remember the Irish Spring soap adds where the man is just completely lathered in suds, but you never want to do that to your face or your body skin because that is going to disrupt the whole microbiome. We’re literally compromising our immune system every day with these products. Even in your gentler health food store foaming cleansers, a surfactant is still a surfactant, and those get lodged into the stratum corneum, which is the top layer of the skin. They don’t leave even after you rinse your face with water, and it builds up. Then you’ve got an issue. For some that might create acne, which can lead to applying something really harsh like an alcohol-based chemical to try to get rid of the acne — and a really vicious cycle is created.

Our Best Skin Ever line of face cleansers is actually made up of oils. And, understandably, people who have had cystic acne or systemic acne can get nervous about switching to oil, but the results are exciting. Some people feel and see the changes overnight, and others see the changes in a couple of weeks. Although I often recommend dietary changes when someone is dealing with acne, I’ve received emails from people who didn’t even have to change their diet and their acne went away. I just love getting those emails. Women have emailed saying, “I don’t have to wear foundation anymore!” It’s fine to wear makeup, but it is really liberating when you feel like you can leave the house without it.

We also have products for men that help to protect their microbiome health as well, from shaving cream to deodorant to shampoo to Best Skin Ever oils. There’s a great skin care routine video in the Maverick Men section of our site.

THE SKINNY ON SUNSCREEN

alanis.com: What would like people to know about sunscreen?

Nadine: This is a topic I could talk about for hours! I have always loved the sun and am very passionate about it. I have made a skin care product for being in the sun for a long time. There was a time when I would go out into the desert near Sedona, Arizona and experiment with different plants to see how they would extend my time in the sun or heal from a burn. I discovered that just like oils in a plant protect the plant from the sun and other factors, using essential oils like jojoba and seabuckthorn actually help to extend our time in the sun.

Then about four years ago I began to go more deeply into researching the effects of sun on the skin and in the body. Now we make a product called Everybody Loves the Sunshine, and we also have a version with zinc because there are times you want to block the sun and the safest way is a product with zinc. Zinc actually reflects the rays rather than allowing you to absorb them. If you’re going surfing or snowboarding or that type of thing that you definitely need to block your nose — or you’ve got to have long, extended periods of time in the sun. This is such a deep subject, and so I write articles for the website that offer a more in-depth discussion.

But one of the most important messages that I can convey is that we really want to stop fearing the sun. There are articles in various medical journals that confirm that, statistically, when you piece all the research together, you find out that things like melanoma are less prevalent in people who spend more time in the sun. You find out that our DNA can deal with the damage from a sunburn better than it can deal with having spent time in the sun covered in sunblock.

So, besides the chemicals and carcinogens that are included in classic commercial sunscreen, the really big issue is how sunscreen blocks the UVB rays and allows the UVA rays — that’s Ultra Violet B and Ultra Violet A. But UVB and UVA really need to be together. We need the full spectrum, including rays other than the UVs.

In a nutshell, there is a full spectrum of information that comes to our bodies from the sun, and our skin is designed to be exposed to the sun’s rays — to receive that information. Our skin dilates to receive the rays, and that initiates a very beneficial chemical chain reaction in our body.

One of those reactions, of course, is the production of vitamin D. We can take a supplement (and that’s good for people who have long winters), but a supplement is a fat-soluble form vitamin D, and the relationship between our skin and the sun creates a water-soluble vitamin D. It also creates a very beneficial sulfate that our body needs. So when we activate all of that, we are really activating our immune system. We have vitamin D receptors in every part of our body, including places where the sun doesn’t actually shine. Those vitamin D receptors need to be filled with water-soluble vitamin D, otherwise the bacteria can come into the vitamin D receptors like a robber coming in and just switching off an alarm code. Then the wrong substances start to fill those receptors.

We really need time in the sun, and we can do it really wisely. The big shocker is that tanning is good for the skin. Age spots or liver spots, hyper-pigmentation, melasma — studies show that those actually come from eating a diet that is high in processed vegetable oils. (We have an article on our site about melasma and hyper-pigmentation and the essential oils that help to clear them.)

When we really use the sun appropriately, we find that it doesn’t create wrinkles, it isn’t aging, and it actually helps to heal so many diseases, including skin diseases.

Think of old Aztec sun worshipping where they offered their bodies on an altar to the sun. They knew that we have a relationship with the sun. So then comes the question: What are we offering the sun with our own body? Is it built with Wonder Bread, Diet Coke, food with no color, and a coating of Banana Boat sunscreen? Or are we lubed up with some seabuckthorn coconut oil and eating a rainbow-rich diet of greens, berries, red peppers, garnet yams, and other colorful foods? Studies confirm that eating colorful foods acts as an internal sunscreen. So we don’t want to be filled with Mazola corn oil and then offer our body to the Sun.  🙂

VAGINAL HEALTH & HAPPINESS

alanis.com: Is there a particular essential oil blend or product that you’re most excited for women to know about for vaginal health?

Nadine: First, going back to the matter of soap for a moment, I like to educate people to stop using chemical soap down there! Then, beyond soap alone, the next thing is to stop and really assess what is really going on and into the vagina overall.

I have another article on our website that talks about lubricants, because even commonly used products that seem harmless, like some of the name brand water-based lubricants, can be problematic. Studies show that what happens when we use them is something called osmolarity — which really means that vaginal cells release their water in order to create balance when you apply a glycerin-based lubricant. The studies show that those cells become shriveled up like cellular raisins. Then you have more cells that want to slough off in the interior of the vagina. Plus, using synthetic lubricants adds to an even easier spread of STDs.

All of that activity throws off the whole microbiome of the vagina, including the acid-alkaline balance. Vaginas are actually naturally lower in pH; they are a little more acidic. And that is actually perfect because they are totally self-cleaning.

We make three yummy serums for the vagina. One is a general serum that you can put on and around the entire area to keep the tissue really healthy. It also creates a vapor barrier to gently protect from the use of toilet paper, underwear, etc. It just sort of keeps it feeling good down there — happy and not dry or chafed.

Then we have a serum that is for women in the last three months of pregnancy. You or your partner can massage it in, which prepares the tissues of the perineum to beautifully open during birth.

And then there is Petal-Soother, a serum for just after the birth that is deeply calming and soothing. I made this formula right after I had my son because I was really scared to take my first pee. I was afraid it would burn, so I just applied this serum and everything was really soothed. It’s a little tingly, like the feeling of ice, but it is really calming — and numbing in a good way. A lot of women use ice packs after birth, so this is a more elegant way and a more healing way to take care of that area.

Of course, we have also created several kinds of love lubes as well so that you don’t have to use the drugstore lubes.

CHAKRA OILS

alanis.com: We love your chakra oil blends! How do you determine the blends for the different chakras?

Nadine: That is so fun! I love them too! The chakra oils are a line of blends that I began to formulate back at Osmosis. In my head, all essential oils have a color, and I begin blending them in thought, like a painting in my mind. Then I go to my nose, to my senses — to the real smelling. I have already gathered what I think will be in the blends, and then I check by inhaling. Through that process, I feel where the essential oil vibrates, where it resonates in my body. For example, I would note the oils that I feel resonating with my heart, with the heart chakra, and then put them all together. Together they become even more potent.

INSPIRED FROM WITHIN

alanis.com: What are some of your current projects or goals?

Nadine: On one level, I am not too goal-oriented. A goal can feel like a carrot that you dangle in front of yourself that is supposed to motivate you forward, but it may not. I feel like everything comes internally from me, through inspiration. From the inner to the outer world is more of how I operate.

There is a big project that we’re working on that I am SO excited about. A couple of years ago we lost our home and business to a huge fire. We’re now happy in our new home, and we have been looking for the right land to build our Living Libations facility again from the ground up. Before the fire, we were working on a brand new facility design, but the necessity for it got sped up. It will be finished in the upcoming months, and it’s really fun to think about all that we can incorporate into the building to create an amazing environment to work at, to be at, and to create products from. The top floor will be a yoga space and a cafe where we’re going to make all organic food every day. It’s not a cafe that will be open to the public; there are enough of us working together to feed. 🙂 And it’s going to be the first certified passive solar commercial building in Canada, so it is really exciting!

alanis.com: Do you blend, bottle, package, and ship everything from the same facility?

Nadine: Yes, and that is very important to us. There are a lot of people that make their own products, like with many beautiful skin care products you can find on Etsy, where people have turned their hobby into making these beautiful creations. I love that. But you will find, too, that there are a lot of people who just call a lab to put their skin care line together. We have always made our own, and we’ve always shipped our own. I obsess over every detail; I think in a really good way. We seek out purity, and then we get to maintain that in the exact environment that we want to, which is usually with higher standards than most manufacturing. Like we would never use chemicals or rubbing alcohol to clean equipment. We use 100% biodynamic alcohol for cleaning. We’ve always been in charge of all of those tiny details, and now it’s going to go to a new level with our new facility.

We’re going to have an apiary on the roof for the bees — a collection of beehives. It is going to be so much fun.

alanis.com: The way you live and do business is such an extraordinarily awake model. What is your vision for the planet?

Nadine: Ron and I always try to create in a way that takes the whole world into consideration. We tend to think globally and act locally — cleaning up our own backyard, so to speak, in order to help the larger ecosystem.

It’s also important to me not to approach the planet like it is a broken system. I have faith in the beauty that exists; it’s obvious that there is something beyond ourselves that is making the sun rise and set every day. And so with that underlying sense, we work toward less pollution and a lot more peace.

alanis.com: Is there one essential oil that is your sacred, beloved favorite?

Nadine: It is hard to pick just one oil because they are like children to me. But maybe I can boil it down to four! First would be neroli, which is from the orange blossom. If I were put on a deserted island, I would bring neroli for its beauty and its levity.

The next oil I would bring is peppermint because it is like first aid in a bottle. It is so practical. if you have a bug bite, a cut, a small burn, a hangnail, or something else that is irritating your body, you can just pour a drop of peppermint on there. It is calm. It is cool. And it’s actually an anti-bruise oil as well; it sends blood away from the affected area.

Then I would bring sandalwood because it is soooooooooo divine. It feels sacred to me. And it’s the most practical deodorant ever. We make a line of underarm charms which are all sandalwood-based. You can literally use just one drop of sandalwood in each armpit, and you will be deodorized for days!

My fourth choice would be frankincense, because it too is so beautiful — and so strengthening and fortifying. Of course, it’s much loved for use in meditation. For first aid uses, I often like to combine frankincense with peppermint.

CHOCOLATE!

alanis.com: Talking with you is DELICIOUS, Nadine, so it seems fitting to end our conversation on chocolate! Will you tell us a little bit about your magical cacao products?

Nadine: I would love to. The chocolate bean is such a fascinating food.

It really started when we first met our friend David Wolfe twelve years ago. He came to visit us in Toronto, and on that first day, he dipped this “thing” into honey. He said, “Try this! Does it taste familiar?” I hadn’t eaten chocolate in years at that point because I couldn’t find any that wasn’t processed. David said, “That is real chocolate; just the chocolate bean.” That’s when our chocolate journey began.

When Ron and I started to making our own chocolates, it was amazing —  like, boom! A download happened through intuition and inspiration, delivering a way of making it that required no melting or pouring. It’s more like stone grinding. Later, as we were researching how chocolate has historically been made around the world, we realized that our methods were similar to the ancient Mesoamerican way, where they would place the beans on a metate and roll them out with a kind of hand-operated stone grinder. Then they would throw in herbs like maca and cayenne. And that is how we do it!

Our chocolate tastes different; it has a more brownie-like texture than a Hershey’s texture. Herbs and superfoods are a huge part of our chocolate. Cacao is such a magical plant because it can really deliver nutrients to the body. It helps to release anandamide which is a fatty acid neurotransmitter found in chocolate — one of our bliss molecules.

Chocolate is good food, and it’s how we start our mornings. Water and chocolate! What could be better!?

alanis.com: Thank you so much, Nadine. It has been an illuminating joy to talk with you.

Nadine: Thank you too!

You can learn more about Nadine and her products here.