This Wednesday: DIY Aphrodisiac Massage Oil Workshop with Ayala @ Giving Gifts

Treat your special someone and yourself to a custom-made aphrodisiac massage oil!

In this 2hrs workshop with master perfumer Ayala Moriel you will:
- Discover the world of natural aphrodisiac essential oils and botanical turn-ons
- Learn about the properties of sensual and nourishing plant-based massage oils
- Design your very own blend, with those special notes to inspire passion and stir up the senses!
- Take it home with you, and be ready to get pampered!

* Complementary refreshments of aphrodisiac teas & chocolates will be served.

About the instructor:
Master perfumer Ayala Moriel of Ayala Moriel Parfums has been creating seductive scents since 2001. She creates custom perfumes, body products, fragrant teas, fragrant chocolates and candles, and teaches DIY aromatic workshops.


Giving Gifts & Co.
4570 Main @ 30th Avenue, Vancouver


Wednesday, February 12th, 6:30-8:30pm 

How much:
$50 including all materials, equipment, packaging and the massage oil bottle you'll be taking home with you, of course!

Space is extremely limited!

Please register with Ayala Moriel Parfums via email or call/text (778) 863-0806. 

Sexy Ginger

Naked Ginger by Ayala Moriel
Naked Ginger, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is the rhizome of a tropical plant, related to cardamom (as we mentioned earlier), only that it is the rhizomes, not the fruit or seed that is used – in herbal medicine, aromatherapy, as a culinary spice, and in perfume. Native to Southeast Asia, and cultiaved in tropical countries throughout the world - across Africa, the West Indies, Caribbeans, etc.

In Hawaii, the hoola dancers use the fragrant ginger flowers (or "lilies") in their leis along with plumeria, tuberose and gardenia. In aromatherapy, ginger is considered a nerve tonic, especially effective for nervous exhaustion and fatigue, and - similarly to its used in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda - it is used to aid digestion and to fight colds, flu and other "moist and cold" respiratory and gustatory conditions.

Ginger Dry by Ayala Moriel
Ginger Dry, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

The dry roots can be cooked in soups, stews, chai teas and ground for herbal preparations, including some over-the-counter drugs against nausea. In countries where the root cannot be grown - it is mostly the dried rhizomes that were used, as a spice. Throughout North Africa and Arabia, dried and powdered ginger roots found their way to many spice blends such as Hawaij (Yemen), Baharat (Arabia) and Ras el Hanout (Morocco). The Druze in Lebanon, Syria and Israel/Palestine enjoy a warming drink throughout the winter made of dried ginger roots and a hulnejan root, that is believed to protect the body against colds and flu.

However, in European and Western cuisine, the dry roots (usually ground) are more widely used - for practical and historic reason: ginger is not native to those countries, and was introduced to them as a spice, imported from far away tropical countries aboard ships. Therefore - most of these cuisines have used the dried ginger root in spice mixes for breads, bread puddings, cookies, etc. - gingerbread and pumpkin spice being the two most popular and widely recognizable forms of ginger. And only later, as the cuisines of those countries became more versatile and open to the use of spice (with influences from North Africa, India, etc.) - they've also incoporated dried ginger roots in soups, stews and so-called "curry" blends from pre-ground (and usually un-roasted) spices.

The fresh root is better for chai, in my opinion (the dry one having a more musky, peculiar, and somewhat unpleasant after-note), and is used in countless Chinese, East Indian and South East Asian cuisines.

Ginger is good for indigestion, and is wonderful thing to add to bean stews to prevent discomforting gases that are often associated with this excellent-otherwise plant-based source of protein. It's used in countless Indian curries, including Rajam Chawal (beans and rice). Fresh ginger is easily incorporated in any stir-fry and in present in countless Chinese, Korean and Japanese stir-fries, soups, stews and dumplings. And of course - the slices of ginger are pickled in rice vinegar as an acidic accompaniment to sushi and sashimi. Fresh grated ginger - as well as its close relative, the galangal root - are an essential component in Southeast Asian curry pastes along with lemongrass and other citrusy components (kaffir lime leaf and zest, for example) - giving Thai and Malaysian curries their distinct freshness and balanced flavour.


Although for culinary and medicinal use both the dry and the fresh roots are used almost interchangeably, as far as aroma goes – there is quite a big difference between dry and fresh ginger: Fresh ginger oil smells Sharp, peppery, root-like, citrusy-fresh, earthy, woody, dry, a tad floral, grassy. Ginger oil from the dry roots smells rather unpleasant in my opinion - rather sharp, grassy, and even a little oily. However, ginger CO2 from the dry root smells candied, spicy, warm, sweet, overtones with hints of fresh-citrusy, tangy character, resembling closely the sensation when enjoying crystallized or candied stem ginger. Tart, sweet, warm and refreshing are a few of the adjectives that come to mind when experiencing a high quality ginger essence.

As an aphrodisiac, ginger works like most other warming spices – increase circulation and create a warm fuzzy feeling when smelled, inhaled or enjoyed in beverages and delicious foods. Ginger is also one of the main ingredients in pumpkin pie spice - which a famous study found that men found the scent to be most arousing. But most importantly - ginger tones the nervous system and dissolves nervous exhaustion and fatigue, neither is particularly sexy or appealing... In her book "The Fragrant Mind", world renown aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood recommends it against sexual anxieties, and recounts the oil's personality as very sexual and confident.

Using ginger in a menu for an aphrodisiac dinner would be a great idea – and also will help ease digestion, so that it does not get in the way of other things later on…It imparts a unique fresh and subtly pungent flavour to masalas, stir fries and curries. The fresh ginger root can be incorporated into beverages - cool or warm. warm ones, such as the classic chai tea or hulnejan I mentioned above, or more innovative concoctions such as Aftelier's Rose Ginger oolong, and my own Zangvil tea. Or cool ones - such as your own aphrodisiac "ginger ale" with fresh ginger juice, some honey or raw sugar and sparkling water and a slice of lemon, or add some ginger juice to a white wine like the Romans did. Ginger juice is quite a revitalizing beverage as long as it's balanced with less pungent fruit or vegetables - try juicing it with carrot, pineapple, orange - or any combination of these four that strikes your fancy!

Ginger Fresh by Ayala Moriel
Ginger Fresh, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

And of course - we can't forget about dessert! Besides the usual suspects (pumpkin pie, ginger snaps, candied ginger and ginger-spiked chocolate truffles or bars) - there are also more unusual ones to discover that I would have never dreamed of myself! When I saw Steamed Milk with Ginger on the menu of Sun Sui Wah (one of Vancouver’s finest Dim Sum restaurants), it sounded peculiar – as it sounded more like title of a a hot beverage in a coffee shop. When I finally mustered the courage to order it, I discovered that in fact it’s more like a pudding – and further research into the matter (when looking for a recipe) revealed that it is actually a Ginger Milk Curd - an unusual hot dessert that takes advantage of a chemical reaction between hot milk's proteins and fresh ginger juice, forming it immediately into squiggly, slippery pudding. I strongly urge you to try this at home – it is quite the delicacy, and there are even YouTube tutorials to guide you step by step!

For a sensual aphrodisiac massage with ginger, try this:

1Tbs light (aka unroasted) sesame oil

1 drop ginger essential oil or CO2

2 drops jasmine absolute

3 drops frankincense essential oil

You can may also use this blend to condition and perfume your hair.

For a revitalizing room scent, place in the diffuser one drop of each ginger, jasmine and lemongrass. You may also use this combination for a scented bath, to overcome fatigue - one of the worst mood killers after stress.

And of course - there are some perfumes that were already prepared and ready for you to revel in before you embark on your seductive adventures. Here are a few suggestions for aphrodisiac perfumes with a noticeable ginger note: Bois des Îles (Chanel), Camille (JoAnne Bassett), Classique (Jean Paul Gaultier), Cognac (Aftelier), Eau de Reglisse (Caron), Ginger Ciao (Yosh), Ginger Essence (Origins), L’Herbe Rouge, Lys Méditerranée, Orcas, Réglisse Noire (1000Flowers), Sahar (The Scented Djin), Tilda Swinton Like This (Etat Libre d’Orange), Zangvil.

Aphrodisac of the Day: Frankincense

frankincense tree by Alexbip
frankincense tree, a photo by Alexbip on Flickr.

In the Aphrodisiac of the Day series leading to Valentine's Day 2012, I present to you some of the easier to find aphrodisiacs and suggest creative and fun (as well as safe!) uses for your own amusement and pleasure. I'm also attempting to bring them in alphabetical order, and because there isn't all that much time I will only bring one of each letter (even though, there are more aphrodisiacs beginning with "C" than I can possibly cover here this year: I've already told you about Cardamom, but there are other domestic spices such as cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and the more exotic civet and costus root). Since I can't find anything beginning with "D" that I know enough about from first hand experience (there is damiana, which I know little of) - I'll jump straight to F and talk about frankincense. The name is derived from "Franc" (Medieval French for "Free") and "Incensum" (Latin for "to kindle"). Olibanum, the more ancient name for it is derived from the Hebrew name "Levonah".

Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) is a small tree or large shrub that grows wild in the deserts of Arabia near the Red Sea (in Yemen and Oman, where the best quality comes from), most of which is used by the Arab world. The next best quality of frankincense comes from Somalia and Somaliland, from which most of the essential oils and so-called absolutes of frankincense are processed for perfumery and aromatherapy purposes. Arabian frankincense is harvested from the wild by Bedouins (the nomadic tribes of the desert), who will induce more resin by placing incisions in the tree trunks and branches. The tree will exude a milky liquid that quickly resinifies into yellow, white and golden amber resins ranging in size from pea to a walnut. These are broken off the branches or collected from the ground underneath the trees.

Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata) has a similar odour and has been used in Ayurveda "treating arthritis, healing wounds, strengthening the female hormone system, and purifying the atmosphere from undesirable germs" (Wikipedia). It's also considered helpful for respiratory conditions and even asthma.
The resin looks like precious gold, and smells like drops of sun and its texture is redolent of the dry desert where it came from: It is often a little dusty - partly from the broken resin itself, and party from the desert earth itself. It has a freshness to it alongside a balsamic, heavy, exotic perfume. The scent is fresh-citrusy (from limonene), woody-conifer (from the pinene) and spicy-peppery (from the phellandrene content). But above all, it possesses a richness that is unlike other, and unfortunately does not translate nearly as well into the essential oil, which is more light, fleeting and orangy-lemony in feel with a slightly powdery woody oriental finish.

The best of frankincense comes through once its burned as an incense. Placed directly on hot charcoal or embers (nestled in a heat-proof censer, of course), the resins and gums dissolves and release the true aroma of frankincense, without any “burnt” incense after notes. If you’ve ever entered an ancient church such as the Church of Holy Sepulchre or the Notre-Dame, whose walls are infused with prayers and incense smoke of hundreds of years - you know what I’m talking about… It brings the mind an instant calm and contemplative state that is most suitable for prayer and meditation, but also for other things…

Although not exactly as easy to find as culinary spices, you can find frankincense in most church supply shops - either on its own, or with various other resins and herbs. I suggest you stick to pure frankincense, and while you're there - you might as well pick up some myrrh resin and benzoin (which is a dried balsam), and charcoal to burn them on. This is the simplest, purest loose incense and if you are not objected to smouldering your habitat with thick, aromatic smoke - this might be the beginning of a very fine journey that will connect you to incense burning traditions as ancient as the world's first civilization (myrrh and frankincense were the first burning perfumes, remnants of which were found in ruins of ancient Sumer).

Don't let the religious associations of these resins "turn you off". The reason they were used in religious rituals since the dawn of civilization is because of their immensely powerful effect on the mind, body and soul. Their powerful effects were hardly researched until quite recently. For example: Boswellic acid, one of the main constituents in frankincense resin and oil has therapeutic properties was found to have anti-inflammatory properties and even cancer-fighting potential. But more relevant to our aphrodisiac topic, is the 2008 research by Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem that found incensole acetate to reduce stress levels in mice.

Priests, shamans and prophets of antiquity did not need mice to know that. They burned frankincense in ceremonies and temples since the beginning of human civilizations. Frankincense was 5 times more popular than myrrh in ancient Egypt. While myrrh was used in some perfume and incense preparations at this time - it is probably most known for its used in the mummification process and in medicine (a powerful analgesic). Frankincense enjoyed more versatile uses: it was burned at dawn to worship the sun-god Rah.

Frankincense is not your predictable aphrodisiac that stimulate and excite the superficial layers of passion. Instead, it works on a deeper level of our mind - calming it completely and connecting us to the spiritual part of our existence, or our soul, or whichever way you’d like to call it. And being connected to your soul can only do you good - especially in our time, when the modern life-style gives very little room for relaxation, contemplation and connecting with one’s inner self.

Aside from particular health conditions that might be associated with lowered libido, stress is probably the number 1 mood killer or “anti-aphrodisiacs”. With this in mind, it only makes sense that something that is relaxing and is not damaging in any other ways, can only help (unlike, for instance – wine – which can relax and increase libido but can also take away from the fun by having the completely opposite effect tby the end of the night; not to mention unsightly spider veins all over your face and other less desirable long-term side effects).

So if burning incense makes you happy – do it for your own sake, and also to improve your love life. If loose incense seems like too much trouble (it does require some skill and certain equipment) – opt for high-quality incense sticks such as Shoyeido’s Frankincense from their Gourmet series, and Diamond in the Jewel series.

If you’re not into any kind of smoke, you can enjoy the essential oil in a diffuser or in a bath alone (as few as 5 drops of frankincense will be more than enough for a relaxing bath) or in a 30ml (2 Tbs) massage oil base (such as: almond, avocado or grapeseed oil) blend with other beautiful and sweet smelling oils to enhance its aphrodisiac qualities:

Olibanum Sensual Massage Oil
4 drops Frankincense essential oil

1 drop Roman Chamomile essential oil
1 drop Cinnamon leaf oil
3 drops Neroli oil
5 drops Sweet Orange oil
1oz (30ml) or 2 Tbs almond, avocado or grapeseed oil

And last but not least – enjoy it in a tea! Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes created an innovative beverage - Frankincense GABA Oolong - that combines the best of both worlds – sensual, aromatic and with health benefits. Her hojary frankincense is hand-tinctured and infused into an organic oolong that is rich in GABA – a naturally occurring human neurotransmitter that brings calm and relaxation to the mind and the body. While the oolong itself is a little earthy, the frankincense adds a fine nuance of woods and hints of citrus and keeps opening up and unfolding as the tea leaf unfurl with recurrent steepings. As with most high-quality teas, and particularly oolongs, this tea can be re-infused and each cup will taste and smell differently – which makes it even more fun experience for the palate.

Aphrodisiac perfumes containing true frankincense oil: Arunima , Atlantic (Strange Invisible Perfumes), Avignon (Comme des Garcons), Carmel Bohême (Envoyage Perfumes), Encens Blanc (Rebel & Mercury) Fête d'Hiver (Ayala Moriel), Fire and Cream (Strange Invisible Perfume), Incense (Ava Luxe), Incense & Chocolate (Ayala Moriel OOAK perfume), Incense Pure (Sonoma Scent Studio), Mahjoun (Dawn Spencer Hurwitz), Marie Antoinette (JoAnne Bassett), Moon Breath (Ayala Moriel), Old Spice, Oud Luban (Aftelier), Rivertown Road (Soivhole), Song of Songs (Ayala Moriel).
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