Thieves Essential Oil

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to write about one of my all-time favorite essential oils: Thieves.  This oil is incredible at supporting the immune system to help fight illness.

So what’s with the name?  This blend of oils is based on a formula that allegedly kept 4 thieves from getting the bubonic plague as they robbed the dead and dying.  When questioned by authorities, legend has it that they revealed the secret blend they wore in masks to protect themselves in exchange for a lesser punishment.

What’s in it?  Whether the legend is true or not, Thieves is a blend of 5 really powerful essential oils:

  • Clove has been used since ancient times by Healers to aid the body in fighting infection. Interesting historical tidbit: When the Dutch conquered the island of Ternate in 16th century, they destroyed the many clove trees on the island. Until that time, many generations were protected from epidemics because of cloves in their diet; afterwards, nearly the entire indigenous population died from disease.
  • Lemon contains properties that amplify immunity and promotes circulation and lymphatic function.
  • Cinnamon Bark is mentioned throughout the Bible and is valuable for helping your body fight infection.
  • Eucalyptus Radiata was a treasured ingredient in folk medicine; it’s great for supporting the respiratory and sinus system.
  • Rosemary was burned as incense to help protect against infection by cultures for many centuries. This herb is supports immune function and improves mental clarity.

How do I use it? I put a drop of Thieves on the bottom of my feet every day as a regular immune system boost.  I use extra when I’m sick and put it in my diffuser to disinfect the air as well. Whenever I fly somewhere, I put a couple of drops on a scarf and wear it on the airplane to help disinfect the air I breathe.

IMG_6806I also clean my house with it. Thieves Household Cleaner is the best all-purpose cleaner I’ve ever used. And the best part – it’s completely non-toxic.  I use it for all my kitchen and bathroom surfaces, as a de-greaser and for cleaning my windows and mirrors. I recently, finally threw away all the chemical cleaners in my house and replaced them with this safe option. The good news is that it’s also cheaper than all the other products I was buying!

For more information about essential oils, you can reach out to me personally or visit this page.

 

Source: Essential Oils Pocket Reference

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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

Antibiotics: Worth a Second Thought

AntibioticsIn 1943, a miraculous drug known as penicillin made its way into our world.  WWII soldiers’ lives were saved. Simple infections no longer risked death. It changed everything.  The development of new antibiotics continued, becoming more widespread and saving millions of lives. Now, antibiotics are essential to all modern medical technology, especially for enabling recovery from surgeries.

While antibiotics have saved many lives, they’re not without risk.  As each new antibiotic has been created, the bacteria have developed resistance.  The creator of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming, warned:

“The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism”

Every time your body is exposed to an antibiotic, the most sensitive bacteria are killed and the remaining get the opportunity to learn how to mutate. Since antibiotics do not discriminate, they kill both good and bad bacteria, ultimately weakening your immune system and leaving the stronger ones to flourish and multiply without good bacteria to balance them.

Not only are we giving ample opportunity for antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs” to flourish, but antibiotics also cause permanent damage to your own gut flora. Recent studies are suggesting that the boost in antibiotic use could be what’s behind the increase in issues like autism, ADD, Alzheimer’s and other brain dysfunction.  This is why a daily probiotic (helps promote good bacteria) and healthy, non-inflammatory diet are crucial.

Having had pneumonia and chronic respiratory infections as a kid, I took a lot of antibiotics.  While they may have helped in those cases, I was also prescribed many antibiotics when I didn’t need them- the most crazy being for acne for eight years… yikes!  My immune system was essentially destroyed and I was sick all the time; medication & additional antibiotics couldn’t help me.  Thankfully, the Lord healed me and I’ve since discovered how I can keep my immune system functioning properly through nutrition, supplements and essential oils.  Now, my body is equipped to do it’s job and fight infections naturally; that’s a really good thing since I’m now allergic to nearly all antibiotics and can’t take them when I get sick.

Resistance is an inevitable process that was fully expected, but it is occurring much quicker than anticipated.  Why?

  • Many 3rd world countries have these drugs available over-the-counter, allowing overexposure
  • In the US, 45-50% of the antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary, meaning they are given for conditions for which antibiotics cannot help at all (for example: viral infections)
  • Animals are pumped full of antibiotics to protect them from factory farming conditions and to make them fatter – 80% of all the antibiotics sold in the US go to farms and thus into the meat & dairy we eat.

Antibiotic resistance is currently causing 700,000 deaths per year, and it’s getting worse.  New antibiotics cannot be developed and tested in the time it takes for resistance to develop. We are drawing near to a future that looks a lot like the pre-antibiotic world. While that’s a little overwhelming, you and I can take some small steps towards change that, together, can make a real difference:

  1. Avoid eating conventional meat, dairy and seafood from factory farms and choose antibiotic-free, organic options instead.  Read more about why it matters here.
  2. If prescribed an antibiotic, ask your doctor if it is actually necessary (is a bacteria or virus causing the infection?) or to test if the kind prescribed will actually be effective against that particular bacteria.

The source of this information is a fascinating TEDHealth Talk: What do we do when antibiotics don’t work anymore?  I highly recommend you take a few minutes and watch it now:

For additional info…

If you have HBO GO/NOW, you should also check out VICE Season 3: Episode 6 for a real look at what antibiotic resistance looks like (preview here).

Listen to the famous neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter speak on the Bulletproof Radio podcast for a fascinating discussion of why what’s going on in our gut actually affects the brain.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and the above statements are not intended to recommend nor discourage any form of treatment. This post is simply meant to provide information so that you can make informed choices on your health.

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!

A Health Challenge: My Goals

Auld Lang SyneWe are almost halfway through January and I wanted to check in… how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?   I’ll be honest, I’ve failed already.  But, I’m not giving up quite yet!  

I recently organized a health challenge for my office and have also decided to participate.  The challenge runs 12 weeks and started yesterday.  The competition is based off of body fat percentage loss since that is a good indicator of both fitness and health and more accurate than BMI.  Plus, you can see your percentage loss, weight loss and inches loss at the end, which is so encouraging.  Y’all, my current body fat percentage puts me in the “overweight” range… I have got to get back in that healthy range! I’ve known for awhile what I should be eating and doing to get my body healthy, I just haven’t had the self control to do it. As I sat down last night to think through my goals and make a plan, I knew that many of you also have some health resolutions this year and might want to see what I’m doing.  If you haven’t made a resolution yet – it’s not too late!  Here are the five things I am focusing on for this challenge, why they are important and some simple action steps to follow if you are interested in adapting them yourself:

  1. Increase Nutrients – With all the packaged and processed foods in our restaurants and grocery stores, we are no longer getting the nutrients our bodies are starved for.  We have essentially become malnourished as a culture.  The blog 100 Days of Real Food has some great meal plans and recipes to avoid processed food.  I will be focusing on eating real food with real health value to my body.  I will aim for 5+ servings of vegetables per day and a high protein, high fat diet to keep me full and give my body energy instead of relying on cheap carbs to do so.  Basically, I’ll just be eating lots of freshorganic produce and protein.
  2. Eat Clean – It is important to eliminate the toxins in our environment and foods that are causing harm to our bodies.  In order for the nutrients we eat to work effectively to help our body, we need to make sure we are not poisoning it at the same time.  I always look for these on food labels when grocery shopping or on a restaurant menu:
    Hormone-Free
    Antibiotic-Free
    Preservative-Free
    Pesticide-Free (Produce)
    Cage-Free (Eggs)
    Free-Range (Chicken)
    Grass-Fed (Beef)
    Wild-Caught (Fish)
    Non-GMO
    Nitrate-Free
  3. Eliminate Inflammatory Foods – While losing weight/inches/fat would be great, my main goal is health.  I want to get my hormones balanced, be pain-free and increase my immune function.  My adrenal levels are currently way high, which is inhibiting all of those things and causing me to gain weight.  Eek! The only way to fix it is to change my diet: I will be avoiding grains & cheap carbs, soy (as always!), sugar (except for a couple of special occasions & some dark chocolate here and there) and vegetable oil (I use coconut oil instead… and no, it doesn’t taste like coconut).
  4. Drink More Water – A couple of months ago, I read the book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water and learned so much about how dehydrated I am (I plan to write a review about the book soon!).  Drinking lots of water has tons of benefits, including losing weight & detoxifying the body.  Per the book’s recommendation, my goal will be to drink at least 64 oz of water per day, plus an extra 16 oz for any coffee or tea I drink since those beverages work to dehydrate us.  Also, less alcohol… red wine is healthy, right?
  5. Get Moving – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate exercising.  I can commit to eating well all day, but commitments to exercise always fail.  Recently, I watched an interesting documentary about exercise and I really want to put the routine into practice.  It will only take 3 minutes a week… surely I can.  I’m going skiing soon and my trip to Europe this Spring will entail lots of walking, so I need to be in shape. I woke up this morning and worked out for the first time in years, so I’m off to a great start. Please, ask me next time you see me and hold me accountable!

Writing those out makes it seem a little less daunting than it did yesterday.  Instead of focusing on what I can’t have, I’m going to focus on all the yummy foods that I can eat…. here’s to bacon, avocados, raw cheese, BBQ, sushi, colorful salads, nuts, fresh juice, sweet potato fries, fried okra, dark chocolate, and (in case you forgot) bacon.  Cheers!  *Water glasses clink*

Who else wants to join me?  What are your goals?