Lavender Essential Oil

LavenderOne of the first essential oils I ever got was Lavender.  Besides being one of my favorite scents, it’s been my go-to in many different ways for a few years now.  It’s known to be the most versatile of all essential oils with many healing and restorative properties.  Lavender oil is extremely concentrated; it takes 27 square feet of lavender plants to make one 15ml bottle.  And it’s fairly inexpensive at $30 retail for a bottle of around 240 drops – plus, it’s easy to make one drop go really far and still be effective.

Each night, I use a mixture of coconut oil and lavender as my face moisturizer.  I keep a glass cosmetic container of it in my makeup drawer all ready to go.  One jar will easily last me a couple of months as a little goes a very long way.  I simply warm coconut oil to bring it to a liquid state and then add a few drops of lavender oil – I use about a 1 Tablespoon coconut oil to 1 drop lavender ratio.  Once you put it in the jar, it will harden back up (this also helps it from going rancid) and the warmth of your skin will re-liquefy it as you apply.

Since I implemented this moisturizer into my routine, I have noticed my complexion improve a great deal. Lavender’s many properties make it really effective towards any type of skin irritations, so I have found that it both helps prevent acne (by fighting the bacteria that causes blemishes) and helps promote healing.  There’s been many a morning that I woke up to discover my face blemish-free after not being so the night before.  It is also extremely moisturizing and is quite helpful at relieving dry skin.

The other great benefit to applying lavender to my face each night is that it promotes sleep.  It calms and relaxes – diffusing it by my bed also helps me fall asleep quickly on those nights that my mind can’t seem to settle down and give into the tiredness of my body.  The calming effect is also helpful with reducing anxiety or stress after work and has helped relieve headaches that I’ve had caused by that tension.

Lavender is also a staple in my medicine cabinet.  I keep it handy for minor cuts and burns as it promotes healing and provides relief.  There is simply nothing more soothing than applying coconut oil + aloe + lavender to a sunburn. And it is fantastic for those annoying, little paper cuts… with all the use our hands get, I always find those take so long to heal, but with lavender, I often find they close up in just a few hours!  It’s also helpful at relieving the pain and inflammation for a bug bite or sting or can altogether help prevent – apply lavender to your exposed skin to repel mosquitoes.

Most recently, I discovered how much lavender could help act as an anti-histamine during allergy season.  Usually cedar season really gets me down, but it was so much more manageable this time.  I was applying and diffusing lavender constantly to reduce my inflammatory response.  Lavender is also really effective with respiratory issues; when I had a sinus infection over Christmas, I noticed how much it helped with my congestion. The stimulating nature of the oil makes it help loosen things up in the respiratory system.

One last note to leave you with is from a bit of personal experience – after great success with my first bottle of lavender, I went to go buy more at the grocery store.  Started using it again and much to my surprise, it didn’t work at all anymore. I was baffled.  A couple years later, I began researching more about essential oils and realized that not all essential oils are made equally.  Many (usually cheap ones at the grocery store, unfortunately) are not pure and/or have fragrances added, so they will not be beneficial beyond just smelling good.  After a lot of research, I’ve decided to purchase my oils from only a couple of brands, one being Young Living.  Learn more about essential oils and how to purchase here.

Have you used lavender before? What has it helped you with? I love hearing personal success stories!

Note: The above testimony is purely from personal experience.  I am not a doctor and none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA.

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Lemon Essential Oil

In my last post, I included a reader poll on future blog topics and the majority has spoken….you want to learn more about essential oils.  So, I’ve decided to start a series on oils, focusing on different ones and how I use them.  Today, I’m going to start with one of my favorites – LEMON

Lemon OilLemon essential oil is highly concentrated – cold-pressed from the rind, it takes 75 lemons to make one 15ml bottle. If you have heard about the benefits of drinking lemon water each morning, lemon oil is an easier alternative to stocking up on lemons each week, and the lack of citric acid can be easier on your stomach and teeth. Just a drop of lemon essential oil in a glass of water can have a lot of benefits first thing in the morning:

  • Rehydrates your body after 8 or so hours of no water, reinvigorating your body and brain
  • Helps flush your digestive system & promotes stomach acid production to aid in digestion throughout the day
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Calms the body, reducing stress and helping your adrenals prepare to tackle the day
  • Gets vitamin C into your body first thing, boosting your immune system
  • It’s a powerful antioxidant, which combats free radicals in the body – learn more about that here
  • Suffering from post-nasal drip?  Lemon in hot water with raw honey can soothe a sore throat.
  • Note: I only ingest the Young Living brand of essential oils as not all brands are safe internally

My husband and I love citrus scents, so it’s one of my favorite oils to diffuse and fill our home with a lovely energizing aroma.  It’s a great air freshener to get rid of odors… I have been really thankful for it when we’ve left trash in the house during a weekend away, returning to that awful permeating smell; a few minutes in the diffuser does wonders. On that same note, (although I must be the only one who does this) if you accidentally leave your laundry in the wash for a few minutes too long before moving it to the dryer or the dryer doesn’t fully dry your bulky load of towels, you know that your clothes will smell terribly musty/mildewy.  Instead of rewashing, rub some lemon oil on a dryer sheet and throw it in the dryer to make your laundry fresh and clean again – it’s amazing!

In addition to the two ways above, there are many other ways that you can use lemon oil around the house. I mix my own totally safe & cheap all-purpose cleaner & disinfectant to use all over – the kitchen, bathroom and windows/mirrors (streak-free!).  It’s a simple mixture of one part white vinegar, one part water and 10-20 (depending on your “part” size) drops of lemon oil in a spray bottle.  The lemon helps a lot with the vinegar smell, but if you still can’t stand it, there are plenty of other recipes on Pinterest.  You can also make your own easy furniture polish by replacing the water with olive oil in the mixture above, adjusting ratios as needed depending on your wood varnish and how well it absorbs.  Polish with a microfiber cloth to protect and clean your wood furniture. Depending on how much you want make at a time, you may want to use a glass spray bottle as citrus oils can eat through plastic.  And one last cleaning tip – lemon oil can help remove anything sticky, including gum from hair.

Beyond being a staple in my medicine cabinet & under-the-sink, lemon oil is also a go-to in my cosmetic drawer.  I mix it with coconut oil to use as a face moisturizer each morning; it helps balance my oily skin and helps heal any blemishes.  Lemon oil is known to improve circulation so is great for making cellulite disappear (hello, nearing swimsuit season) and I’ve heard it helps with varicose veins as well.

I literally use lemon oil every day and don’t know what I would do without it.  Interested in giving it a try?  Learn more about purchasing essential oils here.

How do you use lemon oil? I’m always wanting to hear more ways essential oils help people!

(Char)coal in your stocking?

I still can’t believe that Christmas is less than a week away!  In remembering last Christmas, some very lovely memories of time spent with family are a bit overshadowed by a bad bout with food poisoning.  Miles away from the comforts of home, all I could think of was getting back to my charcoal.  And, yes, I am speaking about the charred wood type of charcoal.  I know it sounds a bit strange, but let me tell you about this surprising little cure-all…

As charcoal is created, “the gases, resins, proteins & fats in the wood are burned out, the heat-generated and change in chemistry cause the development of a charge on the charcoal granule which attracts most poisonous substances.”  Activated charcoal is created in a controlled setting and steam is introduced to enhance the adsorbtive power by creating finer pores.

Charcoal CapsulesActivated charcoal is a powder form that is easy to ingest and very fast-acting.  I have it in both capsule form and straight up powder.  The capsules are easy to take just like any pill; they’re good for kids (or husbands) who may not be willing to drink a glass full of black water.  Personally, I just mix a tablespoon or two in a glass of water and drink it – it’s completely tasteless, odorless and mixes well so the texture is barely granule.  Plus, drinking lots of water enhances its effectiveness.  “Charcoal reaches its maximum rate of adsorption within one minute.”

Charcoal has some surprising health benefits you’d probably never imagine.  It is actually classified in the safest Category 1 by the FDA for all ages.  It is an absolute staple in my “medicine” cabinet that’s filled only with harmless remedies and I highly recommend you get some too. Here’s the short list of its uses:

  • Charcoal is an extremely effective antidote to poisoning from chemicals or drug overdose.  There is a long list of substances which charcoal easily absorbs and the fact that it can be administered quickly & act quickly is a major advantage.  Ideally, it should be taken on an empty stomach and should be double the dosage of the poison (double further if person has eaten recently).
  • It is widely used as a remedy for stomach and intestinal issues like gas, bloating (especially from food allergies), diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.  As I mentioned, this is my go-to whenever I have food poisoning (which I have somehow contracted 3 times this year!).  As soon as I am able to keep down the charcoal for a few minutes, the vomiting stops, my stomach cramps lessen and I feel dramatically better within a matter of 10 minutes.  It decreases recovery time by preventing dehydration and, best of all, it truly absorbs the toxins causing your body to react instead of you just having to get it out of your system.
  • Swishing charcoal around your mouth for 30 seconds helps whiten and clean your teeth (seriously – it works wonders!) and stops bad breath.  Rinse with regular water afterwards to avoid a smile full of very black teeth.
  • Here’s a fun fact many of you may need over the holidays: although charcoal does not prevent alcohol intoxication, it does reduce the effects of a hangover.
  • It can be used externally on venomous bites or stings.  Wet a band-aid and put charcoal on there before applying to a bee/wasp/ant sting, a mosquito bite or even poison ivy (just use a larger compress). There are several case studies of how helpful charcoal has been when a snake or spider bite has occurred.  It was ingested and applied externally before the patient could reach the hospital to start removing the poisons from the body; it’s even cured brown recluse spider bites.
  • Topically, it can help clean & remove bacteria from skin lesions and ulcers.  It can also be used as a treatment for acne.  I mix a little bit with coconut oil and put on as a mask… its ability to draw substances out is great for removing blackheads.
  • It can be used safely with pets!  Like humans, it can help with bites or skin infections as well as intestinal problems.  When my dog has had diarrhea in the past, I’ve simply filled a syringe with a water/charcoal mixture and put it down her throat.
  • A few other uses for illness include foot and mouth disease, chronic pancreatitis and newborn jaundice.

I’ll give a couple of cautions: 1. The only side effect -real talk here- is that you will have black poop afterwards. 2. It doesn’t absorb nutrients that your body needs, but it will absorb any medications that you’ve taken. If you can, wait a couple of hours after taking meds before you drink it.

Interested in adding this to your medicine cabinet in case of emergency? The best news of all is that charcoal is cheap!  You can buy activated charcoal at your local health foods store or online.  Here’s a couple of options that I have used personally: capsule and powder version.  I’d also recommend you buy this short book for $7 and keep it handy to reference for dosage information.  It was the main source for this blog post & has a ton of really fascinating stories of healing to read: RX: Charcoal by Agatha Thrash, M.D. & Calvin Thrash, M.D.

Do you think charcoal is something that you’d try? I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions!