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

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.

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.

On my mind…

De-StressThe words for this post have been floating around my head for weeks… I haven’t been quite sure how to put this all together in something coherent… and it may still not be, but here it goes…

Health a tough subject; it’s one I would try to avoid if I didn’t feel so passionate about it. It is personal, vulnerable, and sometimes emotional and scary. When it becomes the topic of conversation, somehow it usually becomes a subject of debate. Everyone has strong beliefs, whether they admit or not that they actually care.  As you can imagine, my views on health aren’t always the most popular, and I get it… a few years ago, if the old me had met the current “alternative” me, I would have thought I was crazy.  So, when people roll their eyes or laugh (yes, this happens, often actually), I understand where they are coming from.  The reaction that I get when sharing my story is most consistently defensiveness.

It sucks to be wrong, especially about something you have believed all your life.  After years of unexplainable health issues and pain, I continued to seek out doctor after doctor and different medication.  I was furious when I realized that the doctors and medication I had trusted with my health had not only let me down, but actually caused me a great deal of harm.  It’s easy to be angry and hate the system, but instead, I’m now motivated to do my own research to find what’s best for my body.  In writing this blog and sharing what I learn, my goal has always been to share what you may not be hearing elsewhere.  I do that because my life was so dramatically changed when I was finally forced to question what I believed as undeniable truth.  What I have discovered since has been such an answer to prayer that I feel compelled to share it in hopes that it might help someone find healing sooner than I did.  I wish someone would have done that for me.

In the spirit of openness…. An update of where I’m at right now….

I had a follow-up appointment recently with my naturopath.  We talked through all the symptoms that had improved on my new protocol, ones I was still experiencing and a couple things that have been getting worse lately… one of which being weight gain.  Talking through all the different factors – diet, exercise, sleep, stress – nothing was jumping out as a cause.  We discussed other options I could try, like exercising less intensely so I’m not stressing my adrenals too much, or intermittent fasting… I know my face showed the discouragement.  I was at that hopeless “will I ever get better?/I feel like I’ve tried everything” stage when she said something that’s really stuck with me…

“Christine, in the 10 years I’ve been seeing you, you really are the healthiest you’ve ever been.  Would you rather be healthy and enjoying life with a few extra pounds or what is more important?”

It doesn’t make it easy, but she’s totally right.  Even though it’s tough to put on shorts and tank tops this summer, much less wear a swimsuit around all the super thin people in my life, I won’t let those thoughts get the best of me.  While the unexplained weight gain is a sign of a health issue that we have to figure out and address, I have seen some successes with my health lately and life is good….

I am no longer drowning in stress at my job.  I’m so blessed to be at a company that actually cares that I have a life outside of work and cares about my health.  Real talk: if your job is ruining your life/health, you’ve got to get out. It is not worth it. If these articles hit home for you (like they did for me), it’s time to make a change…

As my body has been recovering from the effects of years of stress, I’m enjoying relaxing with my husband, cooking at home more, going on walks with my pup and spending more time reading. It’s been months since I was sick. I don’t get ear infections weekly anymore. I don’t come home with back pain every single day.  And when I look at it that way, it feels like a miracle to be where I’m at.  And a little extra weight seems silly in comparison to all that.

If you are struggling with health issues right now that you can’t figure out and you’re losing hope- I’m sorry. I know what that’s like and I’m still there some days. It’s frustrating and so discouraging. And doctors are sometimes just guessing, randomly prescribing, and giving different diagnoses; and that’s even more disheartening. If that’s you, I’d love to hear about your journey. If that’s someone you know, please share this with them. There are answers out there and healing to be found, I know it.

Emphasis on Hopeful

Apologies for the lack of new posts recently – life’s been a bit crazy lately, with little time left for blogging! Although I have a couple of posts I really want to write & share soon, I thought it was about time for an update on my health…

A few months ago, in reaction to an extremely stressful time at work, I got an ear infection.  Let me tell you, friends, ear infections are the worst.  The only pain was terrible and nothing seemed to help.  I tried home remedies – living clay, essential oils and loading up on all kinds of vitamins – without any luck.  I visited the doctor twice to no avail and, in my desperation, I opted to take antibiotics.  Unfortunately, as expected, they made me super sick, gave me a rash & didn’t help at all.  Finally, a visit to the ENT to insert a sponge helped get steroids directly into my ear and multiple visits to the chiropractor drained the fluid eventually.

Our trip to Europe provided some reprieve from the stress this summer; the break gave me a renewed mind and optimistic perspective.  But as the hours at work picked back up, all of my post-vacation resolutions – talking the dog for nightly walks, spending more time with friends and family, cooking meals, even shopping for groceries – got neglected quickly as there just weren’t enough hours in the day.  As my work-life balance suffered, the stress creeped back in and, therefore, back into having it’s effect on my immune system.

RelaxOne day in early August, I woke up with hives all over the back of my legs.  I thought it was odd and attempted to find what the cause could be; but, nothing in my routine, diet or hygiene/beauty products had changed.  Figuring the hives would go away soon and it had to be a fluke, I just dealt with the itching.  But they lasted, spreading and progressively getting worse and worse.  After a week, I made an appointment with my naturopath doctor.  Asking questions about every aspect of my life, sleeping habits and diet, she got the full picture of my health.  She suggested that while I could be experiencing an allergic reaction, she was pretty positive that stress was the cause.  Hoping to learn more about what was going on with my body, she prescribed a blood test and hormone panel. In the meantime, I would stay away from gluten and really focus on my nutrition to lessen the inflammatory response my body was having.  After four long weeks, my hives finally subsided; the stress was still there, but I think that a better focus on my diet and a supplement I got from my chiropractor finally helped my body stop overreacting.

The CDC states that emotional stress causes 80-85% of all illness. It makes sense – stress suppresses our immune function, so, long-term it gets even worse.  This month, I’ve been sick twice – a bad cold and then food poisoning for the third time this year… ugh!  But I returned to my doctor last week and the results were in: stress is the culprit.  Even after all my time at the pool this summer and daily Vitamin D supplements, I was still deficient and need to increase my intake.  I’m anemic, so will be taking a liquid iron supplement to give me more energy.  And although I drink lots of water and even add Himalyan pink sea salt, my electrolyte levels were still low – I foresee lots of coconut water (NOT sugary gatorade) in my future!

Most importantly, my DHEA levels were extremely low.  Although known for overuse by athletes, the presence of DHEA in our body is essential.  Most people in their twenties are producing more DHEA this decade of their lives than any other.  DHEA is a steroid hormone secreted by your adrenal glands; during times of stress, your adrenals are pumping so much cortisol that they produce very little DHEA. But that has massive effects as DHEA is the precursor to estrogen, progesterone & testosterone.  As a result, my hormones are totally out of whack.  So, instead of “doping” up on unnatural DHEA, I’ll be taking a custom supplement designed by my doctor to provide the building blocks to hormone development, bringing the levels back up. I’ll also be on a high-protein diet of 60-80 grams per day to balance my blood sugar – prolonged high-cortisol response causes problems there too.  So, if anyone has some good ideas for high-protein snacks (especially low-budget options), please share!

While the news was not good, I am thankfully at a point where I can step in to make these changes now and get my body back in balance before things get more serious.  It will take many months to recover, but I am committed to focus on my health – this body is the only one I get.  In the meantime, I would appreciate any & all stress-management recommendations!  I am rejecting the identity of illness that I’ve had my whole life; I am so hopeful that healing is near and I will choose joy & faith.

Meditating on this verse lately: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5