Episode 80: A Look Into Stronger and Harvest Spice


doTERRA: doTERRA essential oil blends have been specially formulated to bring together the best and the most potent essential oils to help you in a variety of ways. You know you love the blends. But do you always know exactly which essential oils are inside? Today, we want to take a deep dive into two amazing blends and help you learn a little bit more about the fantastic oils inside.

Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA, the podcast where you'll hear exciting, useful, and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field. If you like what you hear today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen. We always appreciate hearing from you.

We are thrilled to talk to you today about two blends that are ready to be by your side throughout the fall and winter months

Stronger™ Oil, Protective Blend

First, we want to take a deep dive into the Stronger Protective Blend. The bright, uplifting scent of Stronger helps to evoke feelings of wellness and vitality whenever you need it the most. The powerful combination of Rose, Litsea, Cedarwood, and Frankincense essential oils bring a strength and a utility to this blend that we know you'll love.

Background of Rose

The rose, a symbol of beauty, love, purity, and faith for centuries. There are over one hundred species of roses in the world, each with their own history and legacy. The rose that we will be focusing on is the Rosa damascena, more commonly known as “the Damask rose” or sometimes as “the rose of Castile.”

It's a rose that has been written about throughout literature, with the famed Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani writing, “I come to you from the tales of the damascene rose that depicts the history of all fragrance.”

Shakespeare referenced the flower in his play Twelfth Night as well as his “Sonnet 130.” And the English poet Thomas Rivers wrote a whole ode to the Damask rose.

History of Rose

Now, the oldest known, tangible, historic evidence for the existence and possible use of roses comes to us from the Minoan civilization. The evidence is in the form of remains of a fresco from the palace at Knossos, Crete, in 3,700 BC.

The Damask rose gets its name from Damascus, the capital of Syria—where the rose originates. The French crusader Robert de Brie— who took part in the siege of Damascus in 1148, at the second crusade—is sometimes credited for bringing the Damask rose from Syria to Europe. However, other accounts state that the ancient Romans brought it to their colonies in England, and a third account is that the physician of King Henry VIII gifted him one in 1540.

Whatever way it made its way to Europe, it has made a large impact on not only the culture but also the economy, for instance, in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria's Rose Valley, the Damask rose has been grown and picked for more than three hundred years, and it's the center of the modern rose industry.

The rose has been utilized in everything from cooking to perfumes and rose waters to even some traditional medicinal practices. And now, it brings a beautiful floral note and years of tradition to this blend.

Background of Litsea

Litsea might be the oil in this blend that you might be the most unfamiliar with. It belongs to the Lauraceae family, which includes the true laurel and its relatives, although it's a very broad family that includes things from the bay leaf to the avocado.

Litsea cubeba—commonly known as “may chang,” “Chinese pepper,” or “mountain pepper”—is a small tree native to southern China and tropical Southeast Asia. The tree bears pale, lemon-scented flowers and small fruits that look like peppers, which is where the nicknames come from. Although it is native to southern China and other parts of tropical Southeast Asia, it is most widely cultivated in Japan, Taiwan, and China.

The benefits and properties of this plant have been known for thousands of years. It's been used by the indigenous people of Taiwan in their traditional health practices as well as in traditional Chinese medicine.

History of Litsea

Litsea essential oil was not introduced to the Western world until the 1950s, when it was introduced as a source of citral. After it made its way to Western culture, it began to be widely used in fragrances, flavorings, and soaps. And we're so glad that it did make its way over to the West to bring the benefits that have been seen for thousands of years to this blend.

Background of Cedarwood

The woody, sweet aroma of Cedarwood is one that brings memories of a densely wooded forest, birds chirping, and the warm feeling of dappled sunlight. The tree you're imagining—the one you know as cedarwood or the eastern redcedar—is actually not a cedar at all. It's a juniper. Other names for the tree include “red cedar,” “Virginian Juniper,” “eastern juniper,” “red juniper,” “pencil cedar,” and “aromatic cedar.”

Cedarwood is a strong, resilient tree. It's able to withstand extreme climates and can tolerate most soil types. It's also what is known as a pioneer species. A pioneer species means that it is one of the first species to return to a cleared, eroded, or otherwise damaged land. Among the pioneer species, cedarwood is one that is unusually long-lived, with the potential to live over nine hundred years. In fact, the oldest cedarwood tree reported was in West Virginia, and it was 940 years old.

Uses of Cedarwood

Because of its rot resistance, the wood makes excellent fence posts. The aromatic wood is also avoided by moths. So for hundreds of years, it has been used as lining for clothes chests and closets, often referred to as cedar closets and cedar chests.

If correctly prepared, the wood also makes excellent English long bows, flat bows, and Native American sinew-backed bows. It truly is a tree full of incredible uses

Background of Frankincense

Frankincense is one of the most well-known plants that we have on this list, and it brings with it a long and storied history. The English word Frankincense derives from the old French expression franc encens, meaning high-quality incense, with the word franc in old French meaning noble or pure. The resin is also known by the name olibanum or, in Arabic, al-libān, which roughly translates to “that which results from milking,” which is a reference to the milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree.

The Boswellia trees from which the frankincense resin is gathered are absolutely amazing. They are considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so unforgiving that they sometimes grow out of solid rock.

History of Frankincense

Now, frankincense has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula for more than six thousand years. Its use was characteristic in religious rights throughout Mesopotamia and the eastern Mediterranean from the earliest antiquity. It makes an appearance throughout many, many cultures.

The Babylonians and Assyrians would burn frankincense in religious ceremonies. The Egyptians placed it in the body cavities in the mummification process. In fact, the ancient Egyptians bought entire boat loads of the resins from the Phoenicians, using them an incense, perfume, and salves. Frankincense is also used in traditional Persian medicine. The ancient Greeks and Romans also imported massive amounts of the resins, which they burned as incense during cremations and also prescribed heavily in their traditional medicine.

Frankincense is used to this day in many Christian churches, including the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Catholic churches. Christian and Islamic Abrahamic faiths have all used frankincense mixed with oils to anoint newborn infants, initiates, as well as numbers entering into new phases of their spiritual lives.

With the incredible history frankincense brings with it, it was an obvious choice to add to this blend. We know that Stronger Protective Blend is absolutely one of our must-have essential oils in the cold winter months. And we hope it becomes one of yours as well.

Harvest Spice, Gathering Blend

Next, we want to take a look at the oils inside the Harvest Spice Gathering Blend. The scents of fall bring with them comforting memories of gathering loved ones together. So we put those scents together in a bottle just for you.

The combination of Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, Nutmeg, and Cassia in Harvest Spice fill your home with an uplifting fall scent, while creating feelings of warmth and happiness.

Background of Cinnamon

When you reach in your cupboard and pull out your Cinnamon essential oil, you might never imagine that cinnamon was once more valuable than gold. In the Middle Ages, cinnamon was transported via cumbersome land routes in the Middle East, resulting in a limited, expensive supply that made the use of cinnamon a status symbol in Europe. In fact, legend holds that the Roman emperor Nero burned as much as he could find of the precious spice on the funeral pyre of his second wife, Poppaea Sabina, in 65 AD to atone for his role in her death.

Tales of Cinnamon

Now, to maintain their monopoly on the cinnamon trade and also justify its exorbitant price, traders would weave colorful tales for their buyers about where and how they obtained the luxury spice. One such story related by the Greek historian Herodotus said that enormous birds carried the cinnamon sticks to their nest, perched high atop mountains that were insurmountable to any human. According to the story, people would leave large pieces of ox meat below these nests for the birds to collect. When the birds brought the meat into the nest, its weight would cause the nest to fall to the ground, allowing the cinnamon sticks to be collected.

Another tall tale reported that the cinnamon was found in deep canyons guarded by terrifying snakes. And a first-century Roman philosopher, Pliny the Elder, proposed that cinnamon came from Ethiopia, carried on rafts with no oars or sails, powered by man alone and his courage. However, today we don't have to make up any kind of story to recognize that cinnamon holds great value in our lives.

Background of Clove

The scent of clove evokes the warm feeling of Christmas and comforting holiday foods. It's a spice that has found its way into the tradition of many cultures around the world. Originally, cloves were grown, or rather, grew wild on the famous Maluku islands in Indonesia, which became known as the Spice Islands. Vast forests of clove trees flourished on these islands and were encouraged in their abundance by a native custom of planting a clove tree whenever a child was born.

There is a Zanzibar saying that goes, “Clove trees will not grow except within sight of the mountains and within smell of the sea.” And the clove tree does in fact flourish in the warm, humid climates of places such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Tanzania. Today, in fact, Tanzania alone produces nearly 80 percent of the world's cloves.

History of Clove

The earliest written mention of cloves comes from the Han Dynasty in China in 207 BC. The writings tell how officers of the court were made to hold cloves in their mouth when talking to the king, apparently to ensure the sweetness and acceptability of their breath. Europeans, however, did not experience clove until about the fourth century, when the spice arrived on the continent via traders as a luxury item.

Cloves can be used to make a fragrant pomander when combined with an orange. A pomander is a ball made for perfumes and traditionally was often carried with the owner, and when given as a gift in Victorian England, such a pomander indicated warmth of feeling.

Clove has been traditionally used in many healing traditions, including Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and Western herbalism. In fact, in Ayurveda, cloves are said to be kaphahar, which means that they have the ability to balance the kapha dosha, one of the three life forces in Ayurvedic tradition. And clove contributes its beautiful, warm scent to this incredible blend.

Background of Eucalyptus

Many of us have heard the children's song that says, “Kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree.” But did you know that the tree being referenced is a eucalyptus tree? In Australia, the eucalyptus are commonly known as “gum trees” or “stringy bark trees.” Eucalyptus radiata is also commonly known as the “narrow-leaved peppermint” or “fourth river peppermint.”

History of Eucalyptus

The eucalyptus tree is native to Australia, and in fact, Australia is home to almost all 700 known species of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus was introduced from Australia to the rest of the world following the Cook expedition in 1770. Collected by Sir Joseph Banks, a botanist on the expedition, they were subsequently introduced to many parts of the world, most notably California, southern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and South America.

The eucalyptus tree is well adapted for periodic fires. And in fact, most species are dependent on them for spread and regeneration, both from reserve buds underneath the bark and from fire-germinated seeds sprouting in the ashes.

the Indigenous Australians used—and still use—eucalyptus for many purposes. The wood was used to make tools and for firewood. The bark was used for boats, and the leaves were used to harvest fish in a waterhole. The leaves and roots were also used heavily in traditional medicine. And Eucalyptus brings a fresh and uplifting aroma to this blend.

Additional Background on Cedarwood

We spoke about Cedarwood earlier when talking about the Stronger blend, but there is even more that we wanted to share about this wonderful oil. Traditionally among many Native American cultures, the smoke of the burning cedarwood is used to drive away evil spirits prior to conducting certain ceremonies. For numerous tribes, the red cedar tree symbolizes the Tree of Life and is burned in sweat lodges and in purification rites.

The ancient Egyptians also incorporated cedarwood into their embalming rituals, rubbing precious cedar resin onto the body to prepare it for burial. And among the Phoenicians and Assyrians, cedarwood was even used to build fleets of ships. In Scotland, cedarwood is traditionally smudged—like you would do with sage—on Hogmanay (or as you know it, New Year's) to prepare for the coming year.

Finally, the fragrant, calming smoke when the wood burns is believed to allay nightmares, hauntings, malevolent influences, evil spirits, and ill-meaning wild animals. And we are so glad to have this beautiful oil as part of this blend.

Background of Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a spice that has been used in traditional culinary practices around the world, including many recipes that are still used today. But did you know that there are actually two spices that come from the same plant? Myristica fragrans is an evergreen tree that produces a fruit. From the seed of the fruit, we get nutmeg. But a lesser known spice, mace, comes from the covering of the seed.

History of Nutmeg

There's evidence that both nutmeg and mace were discovered as early as the first century AD, when Roman author Pliny speaks of a tree bearing nuts with two flavors. Later, Emperor Henry VI had the streets of Rome fumigated with nutmegs before his coronation. And in the sixth century, nutmegs were brought by Arab merchants to Constantinople.

In the 14th century, just half a kilogram of nutmeg cost as much as three sheep or a cow. But it was in the 1600s when nutmeg became worthy of starting wars. The Dutch waged war on the inhabitants of the island of Banda just to control the nutmeg production in the East Indies. Later, during negotiations over the island of Manhattan, the Dutch traded the island for control over a nutmeg-producing island owned by the British. Thankfully, you won't have to trade three sheep to take advantage of the nutmeg in Harvest Spice.

Background of Cassia

Warm, spicy, and known for its remarkable fragrance Cassia has been noted for thousands of years, even being mentioned in the Old Testament. Cinnamomum cassia is one of several species of Cinnamomum used primarily for their aromatic bark, which is used as a spice. The buds are also used as a spice, especially in India, and were once used by the ancient Romans.

Tales of Cassia

According to Pliny, the Roman author, a pound of Cassia cost up to three hundred dinars, which was the wage of ten months of labor. According to Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, both cinnamon and cassia grew in Arabia together with incense, myrrh, and laudanum and were guarded by winged serpents and that when ancient Arabians would go to collect cassia, they had to protect themselves against the serpents who guarded the spices fiercely. Another legend also says that the phoenix, a mythological bird that when it dies is reborn from its ashes, builds its nest from cinnamon and cassia.

The cassia tree is native to certain regions of Asia, and cassia is also known as “Chinese cinnamon.” And it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. And this versatile oil rounds out the warm Gathering Blend.

So this year, as you look to set the atmosphere for your future gatherings, look no further than Harvest Spice.

Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you liked what you heard today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen. Also, if you want to try any of the products you learned about, go to doterra.com or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today.