A Health Story: Fatigue, Food Allergies, Inability to Gain Weight

Me and AlyssaToday, I’m sharing the health story of my friend Alyssa. Alyssa is one of my oldest friends… we met nearly twenty years ago at church and we were 2 of just 16 in our graduating high school class. I’m so thankful for Alyssa’s friendship over the years.  She is one of the strongest women I know; her optimism and endurance in the midst of suffering is inspiring and truly displays a joy that only God can give.  

As we have both struggled with different health issues for many years, I’ve been grateful for someone to share ideas & recipes with as we try new diets and attempts at natural healing.  She’s the friend that introduced me to essential oils, which have been so life-changing for me. And, as I’ve become a mom, she is an even more valued resource.  Here’s her story:

Hi, I’m Alyssa. I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have four kids, ages 9, 6, 5 and 2. When I’m not spending time with my family I enjoy DIY projects at home or working part-time at Board and Brush creative studio.  I’m also passionate about natural health and wellness.

Growing up, my family was close-knit, but my mom struggled with health problems her whole life – depression, gut issues and back problems.  While we did things together as a family, we were limited by her condition  I remember her being in bed a lot. She would try to have a good meal for us on the table every night, but I still ate a lot of junk and processed food when a home cooked meal wasn’t an option.  We weren’t aware of all the short and long-term effects that food has on the body.

In middle school, I started getting made fun of for being so thin, which really affected me.  I had always been slender and unable to put on much weight, but when others started noticing, it made me really insecure.  That continued well into high school.  In high school, I also remember being pretty tired and not having a ton of energy.  My sleep consisted of: going to bed late, getting up early for school, falling asleep on my bed doing homework and going to bed late again.

Fast forward several years after having my first few kids.. just a few sleep deprived nights… my exhaustion and fatigue were much worse.  Not taking care of myself the right way put me in a bad state.  I was having gut issues and I was frequently getting sick and littlest virus would keep me down for a week or two.  

My mom had passed away in 2008 after I had had my first child, from an accidental overdose (the combination of a pain patch on her back and a heating pad).  After that, I began to think about my health in a new light; I knew I needed to figure out what was going on with myself, but I had a bad taste from conventional doctors and medicine after everything that happened with my mom.  

I discovered I had a gluten intolerance via trial and error after a doctor misdiagnosed me with acid re-flux.  I saw a string of natural doctors trying to figure out what was now lack of energy, anxiety, thinning hair, continued inability to gain weight along with some gut issues.  I saw at least 5 different doctors who all saw I had a problem going on with the symptoms and various lab results, but were unable to figure out what it all meant or what the cause was. I started eating healthier, in addition to being gluten-free, and begun researching more about natural remedies.  

When anything came up with our family, from colds and ear infections to strep throat, I tried to find a natural remedy for it. When my oldest was five, she had 5 rounds of strep throat and antibiotics to go with them, but was still sick. I was so frustrated and felt helpless; I came across a remedy of cayenne + honey + garlic and made her try it.  To my surprise, it worked! I had been able to treat her strep naturally without the use of antibiotics and she’s never had strep again. It’s like her body needed just a little natural help to fight it off on it’s own.

I continued seeking out natural remedies for ailments and dabbled in essential oils, not seeing much impact from the ones I had bought from the grocery store.  I didn’t think much of it until I was introduced to Young Living essential oils at a class. I was educated on the difference between store-grade oils vs pure, therapeutic grade oils and how they could help enhance a natural lifestyle. My husband thought I was nuts for being so excited about oils, but he’s now completely on-board and embraced my “crunchy” tendencies of tackling pretty much anything naturally.

As for my health problems, I’m still continuing to sift through the details of understanding what’s going on with my body. I found that following an AIP diet helps with a lot of my gut issues.  When I eat something I shouldn’t, I can recognize it quickly. My blood work still shows off levels and indicates potential thyroid and hormone issues, but the doctor I was seeing was somewhat perplexed by it. I’m currently waiting to see a new functional medicine doctor that a friend with Hashimoto’s recommended. She’s seen drastic improvement with her health over the last 6 months, so I am hopeful for similar results. In the meantime, I take each day as it comes. I am super aware of what I eat, what I use on my body and the products I use in my home. The journey to health and wellness seems to be an ongoing one. It can be so discouraging at times but I know that God has me in this journey for a reason and I’m trusting in His plan.

Like Alyssa, I know that so many of us are still in the thick of it- trying to figure out what’s causing issues and doing all we can to address the symptoms in the meantime.  I hope to someday share the answers Alyssa has discovered and the healing that she’s found.  I’m always comforted to know I’m not the only one still looking for answers, even though it is such a frustrating & discouraging place to be.

If you want to share your story, I would love to feature it on my blog to encourage others- please reach out to me at healthyhopefulblog(at)gmail.com. 

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What’s Your Dog Eating?

Raw Dog FoodWe all love our pups… they’re not only our best friends, they’re part of our families. We want them to live long, healthy lives as our companions; but, are we giving them the best chance at doing so?

Our family dog, a Wheaton terrier, had several health problems throughout her life.  It was heartbreaking and frustrating that we followed all the vet’s advice for raising a healthy dog and still watched her suffer. Ultimately, her life was cut short because of it all. When I got my schnoodle, Belle, I did a lot of research on everything I could do to raise her in better health.  The information I found lead me to make some dramatic changes, including what I feed her.  I focus so much on putting nutritious foods into my own body, why wouldn’t I do the same for her?

It’s a well-known fact that dogs share a very similar DNA with their canine relatives (like wolves), so, of course, we should feed them similar diets, right?  We see the pictures of meats and vegetables on the bags of dog food, but have you ever actually taken a look at the ingredient list?  You might be surprised by it.  Commercial dog foods today contain:

  • Questionable Meat – The type of meat that goes into dog food is typically the cheapest, poorest quality. And there’s usually not much of it to meet the high-protein needs of our canine friends. Many brands use “meal,” which is a highly processed form of meat.
  • Grains & Carbs – Many kibbles use corn or wheat as cheap fillers. Dogs cannot digest those foods well, leading to the big smelly poops you get in your yard, but also to a host of other problems… allergies (this is a BIG one!), yeast infections, poor dental health, diabetes, obesity and even cancer.
  • Preservatives – Filled with salt and other chemical preservatives to improve shelf-life, it leaves your dog thirsty and laden with behavioral and health problems caused by these toxins. Many of these additives aren’t deemed safe for humans.
  • Processed Ingredients – It’s funny how we are told to avoid processed foods for optimal health, yet we feed our dogs heavily processed food every single day, for their entire lives. No wonder they are begging for our kitchen table leftovers.

This all comes as probably a shock to you, as it was to me. Don’t these companies spend time and money on research to find what the best nutrition is for our pets? Their commercials certainly advertise that they do.  But check out the ingredients for yourself and you’ll find that even the “best” dry dog food raises some questions.

Kibble is nothing like the diets of dogs’ relatives and goes against everything considered “healthy” by humans.  So what’s the alternative? A raw food diet… exactly what a canine needs for proper nutrition.  What does that consist of?  Raw meaty bones, muscle meat and fish, organs, vegetables, eggs, and vitamins. Still not so sure? Here are a few of the questions and fears I had originally and the answers I’ve discovered:

  • How do I make sure my dog is getting the right amount of food and balanced nutrition?  The book Raw Dog Food: Make It Easy for You and Your Dog explains everything in detail and very simply. It explains proportions for each type of ingredient, gives sample “meal plans” with different meats and has a formula to determine the amount to feed based on your dog’s size and stage of life.
  • What will this do to my dog’s teeth?  Actually, it will help a lot!  Kibble is terrible for keeping your dog’s teeth and gums healthy… it creates lots of plaque leading to decay and bad breath. One of the most noticeable things about switching food for my dog Belle is that her teeth are getting whiter and her breath is much better.
  • Aren’t bones bad for dogs? Cooked bones are bad because they can splinter and be very harmful when swallowed.  Raw bones don’t splinter like this and dogs really enjoy chewing on them (which helps clean teeth even more!). If you are still really worried about it, the book above has some suggestions for softer bones to use or how to grind them up smaller.  Even small dogs like bones – my 10lb dog loves gnawing on chicken wings!
  • This sounds messy… is it?  Yes, unfortunately, it is messier than kibble. I now have to clean Belle’s face after meals, but she enjoys it SO much, it’s totally worth it!
  • How much time does all this take?  It depends. I’ve talked to people who say they prep their dog food when they do their own meal prep on Sundays, and it’s only an additional half hour a week or so.  But, I currently don’t do the food preparation myself right now. I’ve found an option that’s dehydrated raw food where I can just add hot water to rehydrate. It’s super quick and easy to make a bowl for her. Then I throw in a couple bones each week for her to chew on and an organ every once in awhile when I’m cooking a whole chicken.
  • Is it more expensive?  It depends on what you’re buying now, but it wasn’t for me.  A quick Amazon search shows that a 35lb bag of Purina Pro dog food cost $40.  When I was buying dry dog food, I purchased a GMO & preservative-free, high protein brand called Nulo for $55 for a 24lb bag. I now purchase I and Love and You Raw Dehydrated Dog Food; a 5.5lb bag makes 36 lbs of prepared food – on Amazon it’s $67, at Whole Foods it’s $60 and on Thrive Market it’s only $50. I’ve also purchased a similar option that uses free-range meat – The Honest Kitchen Free-Range Chicken Raw Dog Food – it’s a little pricier, but I buy if it’s on sale. If you go with preparing your own food, there’s many ways to save by buying meat & bones in bulk or getting unique cuts of meat no one else wants (dogs don’t care!) for a discount. I’ve asked the butcher for the bones they remove for their boneless chicken breasts & thighs and got them super cheap.
  • My dog is picky; will she like it? ABSOLUTELY!  Honestly, I was convinced by my research that this was certainly the healthier choice, but what sold me was how much she LOVES it. With her old dry dog food, I would put a bowl out in the morning and she would only pick at it a little throughout the day. And she’s always been picky with treats and sometimes even table scraps. Now, when I make her food, she scarfs it down. If we take too long to get out of bed in the morning, she will whimper and jump to remind us because she’s so excited to eat. Obviously, this food is the best for her. I’ll never make her go back to crumbly kibble.

When we started feeding Belle raw dog food and bones, I immediately noticed several improvements to her health.  To sum all this up, here are a few of the health benefits you can expect by switching your dog to a raw food diet:

  • Cleaner Teeth, Better Breath – gnawing on bones and meat helps remove plaque
  • Shinier, Smoother Hair – all the collagen in the bones and extra vitamins help
  • Less Allergies – I barely notice Belle chewing her feet anymore. Grains and toxic preservatives in dry dog food are the main cause for allergic reactions and inflammation.
  • Healthy Joints – I’m hopeful that Belle won’t have to struggle with painful arthritis in her old age like our Wheaton did. The bones & marrow contain glucosamine which is necessary for creating collagen and helps build and repair bones, joints, tendons and ligaments.
  • Easier Digestion – This is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen. Real talk… Belle’s poop is not nearly as hard as it used to be, which makes it come out much easier for her. I don’t have to express her anal glands anymore or risk them getting infected from becoming impacted. Her poo essentially dissolves in the yard in just a couple of days, which I think says a lot about what kind of ingredients she was eating before. It’s also less smelly.
  • Hydration – Raw dog food naturally contains lots of water unlike dry kibble.  I’ve noticed that Belle rarely goes for her water bowl anymore (only after a long walk or after barking at the neighbor dog on a hot day).
  • More Energy – you’ve removed ingredients that cause lethargy and replaced by those that give proper protein and nutrition for energy
  • Lean Muscle –  Belle didn’t struggle with being overweight like many dogs, but she’s definitely more muscular now.  If you’re dog does need to lose some pounds, this raw diet would be great to try.

Sorry for the super long post, but I hope this information helps you make a more informed decision about your dog’s nutrition. I’m so glad we’ve made this change for our sweet pup… the transition has been so easy and was definitely worth it!

What do you think? Is this something you’d be willing to try for your dog?

My Favorite Diffusing Combos

One of the ways I use essential oils every day is through aromatherapy. I almost always have some essential oils in my diffuser at home and on my desk at work. Research has shown that the fragrance of essential oils can have a profound impact on the limbic system (our emotions), the hypothalamus (our hormones), and on the oxygenation & function of the brain.  Today, I’m sharing some of my go-to essential oil blends to diffuse when I’m sick, stressed, or just want to clear the air:

EO Allergy BlendSeasonal Allergy Blend:

  • Lavender (4 drops) – Lavender is an incredible natural antihistamine and helps reduce inflammation in the sinuses.
  • Peppermint (2 drops) – The minty freshness of peppermint opens up the airways, helping you breathe and easing congestion.
  • Lemon (2 drops) – Lemon is another natural antihistamine that helps reduce inflammatory response and mucus.
  • If you have a sinus headache, add 3 drops of Copaiba – it’s a super strong anti-inflammatory that helps with pain relief.
  • *I used this same blend mixed with coconut oil to calm my skin and relieve itching when I had an allergic reaction that caused a rash.

Odor EliminatorOdor Eliminator:

  • Purification (3 drops) – This stuff is magical – it disinfects the air and neutralizes bad odors, including those from mildew and smoke. It’s a blend of citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, lavandin, and myrtle.
  • Lemon (4 drops) – Lemon helps to cleanse and disinfect the air while adding an invigorating, clean aroma.
  • This blend is also fantastic for getting rid of that mustiness in your washing machine or added to carpet spray used on pet accidents.

BreatheBreathe

  • RC (5 drops) – aka “Respiratory Congestion,” this incredible blend of oils provides significant relief from colds, sore throats and sinus issues. It contains many oils that help open up airways: Myrtle, (3 kinds of) Eucalyptus, Marjoram, Pine, Cypress, Spruce, and Peppermint
  • Lemon (2 drops) – Lemon helps to reduce excess mucus and to open up lymph pathways for proper drainage.

Immune BoosterImmune Booster

  • Thieves (4 drops ) – With powerful ingredients like clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary, this oil has proven through research and history to boost the immune system and disinfect the air of germs.
  • Lemon (2 drops) – Lemon helps to cleanse the body of toxins and opens up your lymphatic system.
  • Tea Tree (2 drops) – Promotes cleansing and purity, helping fight infection.

RelaxRelax

  • Lime (2 drop)  – Stimulates a tired mind and renews your spirit.
  • Lavender (2 drops) – Calming & relaxing.
  • Stress Away (4 drops) – My favorite blend… it truly does help take the stress of the day away.  It contains Copaiba (to help soothe), Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla (because who doesn’t love that wonderful fragrance!?), Ocotea (creates peaceful environment) and Lavender.

Happy BrightHappy & Bright – My very favorite everyday combo!

  • Joy (4 drops) – A delightful blend of beautiful oils that brings positive energy to the household. It promotes romance and harmony. It’s a mix of bergamot (relieves stress and tension), ylang ylang (to balance crazy hormones), geranium, lemon, coriander, tangerine (calming), jasmine (promotes feelings of love and support), roman chamomile, palmarosa, and rose (creates a romantic, magnetic energy).
  • Lemon (4 drops) – Purifies and provides a bright, uplifting fragrance.

Bedtime BlendBedtime Blend:

  • Lavender (4 drops) – Lavender is calming to the body, both mentally and physically. A University of Miami study found that inhalation of lavender increase beta waves in the brain, leading to heightened relaxation; and an Osaka Kyoiku University study found that it reduced mental stress.
    • Since lavender is one of the most commonly adulterated oils (chemical fragrances are added), you have to be careful where you buy it. I once bought a bottle from the grocery store when I ran out and, while it (mostly) smelled the same, it had zero effect on inducing relaxation like my Young Living bottle did!
  • Stress Away (3 drops) – The perfect blend to help you wind down for the day.  It contains Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood (to release melatonin), Vanilla, Ocotea and Lavender.
  • Variation: If you have them, add a couple drops of each of the following to the Lavender instead of Stress Away: Cedarwood – stimulates the pineal gland to release melatonin, and  Ylang Ylang – Restores peace and balances hormones (can help reduce cortisol spikes that inhibit sleepiness).

Oh Happy DayOh Happy Day!

  • Peace & Calming (4-5 drops) – I think the name says it all… this blend truly does bring emotional peace. It’s a blend of tangerine (combats nervousness), orange (sedating and calming), ylang ylang, patchouli (clarifies thoughts and promotes grounding), and blue tansy.
  • Frankincense (2 drops) – Increases spiritual awareness and improves attitude. This oil was used throughout the Bible to enhance connection to God through worship and prayer.

What are your favorite blends to add to the diffuser? Let me know how you like these!

Source: Essential Oils Pocket Reference

For more information on essential oils and why I chose the Young Living brand, visit this page.

P.S. It’s important to be careful how you diffuse essential oils into the air because when you heat them, it destroys the healing compounds. I use a cool air diffuser that uses ultrasonic technology to mix the oil with water and disperse into the air. This atomizer activates the healing effects of the oils and allows the aromas to stay in the air for longer.  Plus, it’s also a humidifier so is great to put by your bed when you’re sick.  When you order a starter kit from Young Living, it comes with an amazing diffuser – read here for how to get started.

Seasonal Diffusing Blends

Pumpkins on the porch, mums planted and the house smells like apple cider and cinnamon.  No more candles for me… I’m now diffusing essential oils to fill my home with fragrance AND get some added health benefits.

One of my favorite ways to use essential oils is through aromatherapy. Research has shown that the fragrance of essential oils can have a profound impact on the limbic system (our emotions), the hypothalamus (our hormones), and on the oxygenation & function of the brain.  Today, I’m sharing my favorite essential oil blends to put in my diffuser each season (but, of course, you can use them anytime!)

Fall BlendFall:

  • Citrus Fresh (3-4 drops) – This refreshing blend combines Orange, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, and Spearmint oils. It is purifying to the air and helps with focus and energy.  *If you don’t have the Citrus Fresh blend, orange or tangerine will work too.
  • Cinnamon Bark (3-4 drops) – This is a powerful oil for boosting the immune system and is perfect for the sniffles that Autumn brings.  For a variation, sub a couple of drops of Thieves blend for cinnamon as an additional immune boosting & disinfectant, with the added notes of clove and rosemary.

Winter BlendWinter:

  • Peppermint (2 drops) – Peppermint stimulates the mind, helping you focus. It is also great for the respiratory system and to soothe digestion.
  • Lemon (2 drops) – Lemon is an invigorating and warming fragrance. It helps to cleanse the air, to boost immunity and promote relaxation.
  • Valor (2 drops) – The Valor blend originated with Roman soldiers who put it on to promote courage before going into battle. It instills great confidence and promotes alignment of the spine. This blend contains Spruce, Rosewood, Blue Tansy and Frankincense.
  • Joy (2 drops) – One of my favorite blends for the wintertime blues, Joy promotes positivity and hope.  It eases tension and brings harmony to the household for those days everyone is stuck inside. Joy contains a blend of some amazing oils: Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Lemon, Coriander, Tangerine, Jasmine, Roman Chamomile, Palmarosa and Rose. If you’re looking for a new perfume this Christmas, I’d highly suggest this fragrance!

Spring BlendSpring:

  • Ylang Ylang (2 drops) – This romantic oil promotes hormonal balance and confidence.
  • Clary Sage (2 drop) – Clary Sage has notes of blooms in a spring garden and is very calming.
  • Lemon (2 drops) – Adding this will be perfect to help with and complement your spring cleaning!
  • Stress Away (2 drops) – Absolutely could not live without this one… it brings peace and tranquility, taking the stress away. This has been a saving grace for my adrenal issues!  It contains a soothing blend of copaiba, lime, cedarwood, vanilla, ocotea and lavender.
  • Variation: If you add lavender and remove lemon from this blend, it is perfect for bedtime relaxation anytime!

Summer BlendSummer:

  • Peace and Calming (2-3 drops) – This blend is amazing at uplifting spirits and creating emotional peace.  I also hear it’s great for crazy children home from school for the Summer! It contains Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli and Blue Tansy.
  • Lemon (2 drops)
  • Tangerine (1 drop) – Promotes happiness and relaxation, helping with nervousness (maybe about putting that swimsuit on?)
  • Lime (1 drop) – Reminds me of sipping a margarita by the pool, this oil is great for clearing the respiratory system.

Source: Essential Oils Pocket Reference

For more information on essential oils and why I chose the Young Living brand, visit this page.

P.S. It’s important to be careful how you diffuse essential oils into the air because when you heat them, it destroys the healing compounds. I use a cool air diffuser that uses ultrasonic technology to mix the oil with water and disperse into the air. This atomizer activates the healing effects of the oils and allows the aromas to stay in the air for longer.  Plus, it’s also a humidifier so is great to put by your bed when you’re sick.  When you order a starter kit from Young Living, it comes with an amazing diffuser – read here for how to get started.

Diffusing Seasons

Lemon Cream Pasta

I can’t believe it has been over a year since our trip to Europe.  I so miss the days of walking everywhere, drinking wine & cappuccinos and eating ALL the pasta.  My favorite part of the trip was a 5-hour private cooking class in Lucca, Italy – check out my brother’s travel blog for all the yummy details!  When I am craving comfort food, my new go-to is the lemon cream sauce we learned to prepare.  It’s light and perfect for summer. Today, I’m sharing it prepared two ways.  The flavors in both of these recipes will blow you away… they certainly don’t taste healthy. Plus, both of these recipes can be made in 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

For the Lemon Cream sauce…

Simmer the zest of 1 lemon in a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil for one minute on low heat.

Then add 4 tablespoons of bone broth (or white wine).  I always have bone broth on hand and try to use it as much as possible… it’s a super-food that helps with digestion, supports our immune system, remineralizes our teeth, and is vital for our connective tissues (ligaments, joints).  Simmer for another minute.

Next, add 1 cup of organic heavy cream, the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of sea salt (I use pink Himalayan salt). Bring to a low boil, whisking frequently, to reduce the cream.  After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let it sit – it will continue to thicken as it cools. While the sauce is sitting, you can make the pasta.

Veggie Noodles with Italian Sausage

For a completely grain-free version, you can make “noodles” from squash & zucchini.  I use this julienne peeler to make the veggie strings, but of course you can use a spiralizer if you’re fancy.  Then, saute the “noodles” in a bit of olive/coconut oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes just until they are soft. Season with salt and toss with the warm sauce.

Complete the meal by topping with sliced organic Italian chicken sausage for some protein.

Veggie Noodles with Lemon Cream Sauce

Einkorn Pasta with Kale & Pancetta 

Despite the fact that so many people are having problems with the gluten in modern wheat today, not all gluten is actually bad.  Societies have eaten wheat for the centuries and been entirely healthy… even Jesus broke bread!  Over the years, wheat has been hybridized to increase crop yield and is now high in they type of gluten to which most of us are intolerant.  There is an ancient version of wheat that remains unhybridized and contains a completely different, more digestible version of gluten.  This is the traditional wheat that our ancestors ate and were nourished by.  Many with gluten allergies & intolerances are even able to eat Einkorn wheat without reaction. Read more here.

Anytime I want to enjoy real pasta, I make Einkorn pasta. I buy mine at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers and it’s prepared just like any other pasta.

To complete this meal, I saute sliced pancetta (or turkey bacon) and kale, then toss with the pasta and lemon cream sauce.

Einkorn with Kale and Pancetta

Happy cooking!

10 Ways I Use Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint OilDon’t you just love the smell of peppermint?  So refreshing and invigorating.  Peppermint oil is would probably rank in my top 5 for most-used essential oils.  Here are a few ways that I use peppermint oil and see great results:

  1. Nausea – If I’m ever feeling queasy or nauseous, I either rub some peppermint oil on my stomach or breathe it in.  I’m always amazed at how fast it works and keep applying every 20 minutes or smelling it until I feel better.  This, along with activated charcoal, seriously saved me when I got food poisoning 3 times (why, oh why!?!) last year.
  2. Headaches – Whenever I get a headache, rather than popping not-so-safe aspirin or ibuprofen, I put some peppermint oil on the roof of my mouth, back of my neck and top of my forehead and within minutes, I’m back to normal.  *Warning: be careful to not get it in or close to your eyes or it will sting. If you do, wash out with olive or coconut oil rather than water.
  3. Anti-Itch – Last summer, when I got hives as a result of stress, peppermint oil was the only thing that would relieve the itching.  It’s also a great option for bug bites and sunburn as the oil is very calming for skin inflammation. You may need to dilute peppermint oil with coconut oil before applying directly to your skin as it can irritate sensitive skin in its concentrated form.
  4. Allergies – Peppermint oil is great at helping clear out my nasal passages and reducing sinus inflammation caused by allergies.  I use this in my essential oil allergy blend LLP (Lavender + Lemon + Peppermint) and diffuse all the time during allergy season. Read more about how I fight allergies naturally here.
  5. Energizer – Afternoon slump or just need to focus at work… I diffuse peppermint at my desk at work and it does wonders for getting me through the rest of the day.
  6. Fever Reducer – The couple of times I’ve had a fever in the past few months, I’ve used peppermint oil on the back of my neck and forehead with a cool compress and brought my temperature down to normal without medication.
  7. Decongestant – When I have a cold, I mix peppermint with eucalyptus oil and coconut oil and applied to my neck and chest.  It acts as an expectorant and helps open up airways and clear out sinuses.  This was especially helpful to me when I was coughing a lot.
  8. Muscle Pain Relief – Anytime I have sore muscles, I use peppermint oil to help relax them and relieve the pain.  It’s also a main ingredient in one of my favorite blends of essential oils for pain relief – the Deep Relief Roll On. This was amazing to rub on my feet and legs each night after walking miles a day at Universal Studios & Disney World.
  9. Oral Care – Of course, peppermint is a well-known breath freshener.  I mix it with a bit of water and use as a mouthwash.  It’s also in my beloved brushing blend OraWellness – read more here about why I will never go back to using regular toothpaste!
  10. Bug Repellent – Ticks & mosquitoes apparently hate peppermint, so I use this in a pest-repellent spray for my dog every day.  For some reason, bugs don’t like me, so I don’t have to use anything personally, but you can use it for people too. For my pup, I mix up distilled water with a few drops each of peppermint + eucalyptus + Thieves + citronella + tea tree in a spray bottle; besides protecting her from fleas & other bugs, it makes her smell great.  Here is an actual recipe for homemade bug spray that’s very similar.

I’m so grateful to have added a variety of essential oils to my “medicine cabinet” and to now have a safe, effective way to address symptoms immediately when they arise.  I have chosen to buy the Young Living brand of essential oils because I’ve done my research and I trust the source and the purity of the oils they grow & produce. If you are interested in trying out essential oils, visit this page on my blog for more details or leave a comment and we can chat more.

Have you been looking for a natural way to address any of the symptoms above?  Do you use peppermint oil in other ways that help?  I’d love to hear about it!

7 Ways to Control Your Allergies Naturally

There’s nothing better than waking up, checking the forecast & seeing this:

Weather Forecast

But then, I check the other forecast.  The one that tells me if I can actually go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather…

Allergy Forecase

This time of year is awful for my allergies.  The cedar gets me the worst… can anyone else relate?

I used to reach for allergy medicine or anti-histamines to get me through, but after many years rotating through, they eventually stopped working. And I don’t know about you, but anti-histamines make me feel sleepy and sluggish so it’s hard to get up and go to work.  Plus, the purpose of those is to dry you up, so they are dehydrating.  In search for something that would help provide some relief, I’ve discovered a few ways that have really helped me control my allergies:

Allergy Relief

1. Use a nasal rinse.  This will clear your sinuses of allergens & bacteria.  Plus, it moisturizes your system, thinning the mucous to keep it moving through the system and reducing post-nasal drip. The saline mixture added to warm, distilled water works wonders for clearing my nasal passages and keeping me from getting too stuffy. I use this kind – you can find it at nearly any drugstore.

EO Allergy Blend2. Essential oils have worked miracles for me with my allergies.  In particular, I use a combination of Lemon, Lavender & Peppermint (aka the LLP bomb). I put them in my diffuser, put 3 drops of each in a capsule to swallow or put them in a spoonful of local, raw honey.  There are also a few other oils that can be super helpful with symptoms of congestion – RC & Breathe Again – or sinus headache – Copaiba.  Read more about how essential oils can improve your health here.

3.  Nothing relieves my itchy eyes better than Can-C Carnosine Eye Drops.  It is the best eye drop out there; even though it’s not specifically for allergies, it is a great moisturizer and completely safe. On a side note, I’ve read stories that it has even helped people improve their vision or cataracts.

4. I recently discovered a homeopathic tincture called Allergena.  They have blends for specific regions (Texas is Zone 5), or for allergies to pets, mold, dust, and several others. You put a few drops under your tongue every 10 minutes as long as you feel symptomatic until you don’t.  It works super fast to provide relief for sneezing, runny nose & itchy eyes.

5. A couple of times a day, I take Natural D-Hist. My doctor recommended it originally for my stress hives last year, but it also helps with seasonal allergies.  The blend of healthy ingredients helps relieve irritation from increased histamine response.  Although it doesn’t provide fast relief, I have seen a lot of benefit by taking it consistently every day.

6. While it’s not realistic to always stay inside, it helps to keep your indoors an allergy-free environment to give your system some reprieve.  Take a shower each night and wash your hair to get the pollen out. Put your clothes in a hamper when you get home for the day. Leave your shoes at the door. Wash your sheets and vacuum often. Close your doors and windows. Run an air purifier to remove those particles from the air – this is the one I use.

7. Eating a healthy diet is a crucial way to reduce inflammation & mucous production.  Organic fruits and vegetables will help provide vitamins and antioxidants.  Avoiding dairy and sugar will help lower your body’s inflammatory response and keep your immune system functioning properly.  Staying hydrated is also important; water helps control levels of histamines in the body.

Do you have any other ways that help you control your allergies naturally?  Thinking about trying any of these out? I would love to hear feedback on how these work for you!