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.

(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!

In the Summertime when the weather is hot…

I love Summer.  The sunshine is life-giving to me!   I can’t imagine anything better than spending time at the pool and lake with the warm sun on my skin.  Plus, it’s mostly allergen-free, so unlike most of the year, I can spend lots of time outside without regretting it later.  Anyone else share this passion with me??

Unfortunately for a lot of people, the summertime has a bad rap.  The beautiful sunshine has been villainized; we are advised to minimize our sun exposure and when we must be outside, cover every inch of ourselves with sunscreen every hour so we don’t get the big, bad cancer.  Funny how effective the “c” word is into scaring us into submission.

Coincidentally, our nation is currently experiencing epidemic levels of vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D is a valuable nutrient that comes from the sun and helps our immune system protect our bodies from a multitude of diseases, including cancer.  Actually, some research studies have proven that sun exposure can decrease our chances of getting cancer.  Add to that the fact that there is no proof that sunscreen protects against cancer and that sunscreen itself contains dangerous chemicals and carcinogens, the case against the sun is quickly diminishing.

Okay, now of course, the sun can be dangerous; it is a burning ball of fire, after all. You can’t simply sit outside for hours in direct sunlight and not expect to be hating yourself the next day.  Sunburns do cause cell death and can damage your skin.  It’s important to develop a healthy relationship with the sun…

After a winter indoors, your skin will need to be acclimated to the sun.  The best way to do it is spend 15-30 minutes at a time out in the sun (without sunscreen), getting exposure little bits at a time.  Your skin will respond as it is supposed to, the melanin will become tanned and protect you more and more from the sun naturally.  People with fair skin get Vitamin D faster and reach the maximum level of exposure sooner, so then it’s time to find some shade.  But most people can work up to being able to spend hours in the sun without harm.

If you are going to be out in the sun for longer than your skin is ready for, or your children need protection, consider using natural sunscreen options instead of those loaded with chemicals.  Personally, I use straight up coconut oil whenever I am in the sun for longer than half an hour.  It has minimum SPF so it still allows me to get Vitamin D and my skin tans easier when I use it so that I can build up my natural tolerance to the sun faster.

Lastly, a healthy diet is the best way to avoid a sunburn.  A diet high in antioxidants will protect your body from sunshine’s free radicals that cause cell damage.   So feel free to snack away at those sun-ripened berries and dark chocolate!  Avoiding foods that cause inflammation are another way to protect yourself – grains and Omega-6 vegetable oils being the main offender.  People often blame the sun for their wrinkles, collagen breakdown/premature aging and sun spots, but it’s actually an inflammatory diet that causes these issues.  Eat a diet high in healthy Omega-3 fats (found in animal fats, fish, coconut oil and organic raw dairy), the building blocks of your skin.

Now, get out there and enjoy the summer sunshine without fear!

Read more from my sources here:

Scientists Blow the Lid Off Cancer & Sunscreen Myth

4 Ways You Are Screwing Up Your Sun Exposure

Avoid Sunburn, Tan Better

Benefits of Sunbathing to Pregnancy and Nursing

Healthy Hygiene Routine

 

Healthy Hygiene RoutineMany people make a good effort to eat healthy and limit the toxins they ingest, but what about the chemicals you are spreading over your body or putting in your mouth during your hygiene routine?  Today I want to share some basic products I use daily and talk a bit about why they are way better than their mainstream alternatives.

Living Clay MaskCalcium Bentonite clay is full of trace minerals and literally vacuums toxins out of the skin. It’s been used throughout history and has so many healing and detoxifying uses.  It’s alkaline 9.7 pH brings the body into balance.  I use it as a mask at least once a week on my face and have seen dramatic improvement in my skin.  If my hormones are going crazy and causing me to break out, then I will use it daily to remove my makeup each night.  You can instantly feel how it stimulates blood circulation and your skin will feel so refreshed and energized afterwards.  When I had an allergic reaction to antibiotics, it helped decrease the severity and redness of the rash. I use the powder form in detox baths and even mix it with water & drink to detoxify my body when I’m sick.  It’s also the perfect shaving cream for those of you who struggle with dry skin and razor burn.  This is one of those products I really could not live without; it’s made my skin clearer than ever!

Coconut Oil – I recently wrote about my absolute obsession with coconut oil and all it’s miraculous healing abilities. In addition to cooking with it, I also use it as a moisturizer all over my body and even on my face.  As it absorbs and moisturizes your skin, you also get it’s benefits internally.  It has anti-aging properties and will help prevent wrinkles; it also helps your skin adjust to sun exposure giving it SPF effects.  And it’s great for removing eye makeup and lip stains.  Best of all, it’s super affordable (especially when you compare it to what you would spend on lotion and expensive face moisturizer) because a little goes a very long way.  I simply melt a few tablespoons on the stove and put it into a small travel sized container for my bathroom counter.

Lavender Essential Oil -I actually mix this with the coconut oil in the container I use for my face moisturizer.  Besides smelling absolutely amazing, lavender oil has many anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  It will help heal pimples very quickly, minimizes the appearance of scar tissue, and helps heal cuts and bruises by stimulating circulation.  It’s a great moisturizer for chapped skin, so I use it on my lips too.  Plus, it’s scent helps calm your mind and body, decreasing stress and helping you wind down for a night of restful sleep.

Orawellness HealThy Mouth Blend – The simple fact that you’re never supposed to swallow regular toothpaste always made me suspicious of its safety for putting in my mouth at all.  This is the best “toothpaste” I’ve ever used and I’ve seen incredible improvement in my mouth health over the past year (my dentist has too!).   This is a blend of organic essential oils that fight bacteria and helps heal cavities.  Plus, it doesn’t contain any of the toxic chemical fluoride.  If you have gum problems, cavities, or are just looking for a safe way to clean your teeth, this is a must-try!

Mineral Salts Deodorant – Antiperspirant deodorant works by using aluminum to stop the sweat and odor.  Unfortunately, it also causes breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, so I knew I needed to get it out of my routine.  (TMI) I sweat a lot, which made this the toughest natural hygiene solution to find.  Most products would work for a while or at least stop odor, but I finally found a great solution that is consistently helping with both.  Lafes Deoderant is made with simply 3 ingredients: aloe vera, essential oil and natural mineral salt; it comes as a spray or a roll on.  The mineral salts combat the bacteria that causes odor. I love the lavender scent and while it’s not technically an “antiperspirant,” I’ve noticed that my sweating has decreased the more I use it.  I buy mine at my grocery store, Natural Grocers, and it lasts months using only once a day.  Lastly, it doesn’t leave stains or marks on your clothing like the regular ones always do – a great bonus!

As for the “beauty” department, I am researching and testing different makeup and hair products to find healthy options that actually work.

Hair Products – I am currently using Kevin Murphy shampoo, conditioner, hair spray and dry shampoo.  They are sulfate and paraben-free and work amazing, but still use a lot of chemicals I am not comfortable with.  I’ve tried many of the organic options from the grocery store but found my hair was oily and flat within just a week of use.  I am considering making my own as soon as what I have runs out, and I will certainly keep you updated on that adventure.

Makeup – I’ve used Origins, Arbonne, and MineralFusion from Whole Foods, but they are all so expensive and don’t have the lasting power that I really want.   I feel like when I come home from work it looks like I didn’t even put makeup on that day.  Looking for any and all recommendations!!

Have you found safe, natural beauty & hygiene products that you love? Please share them here!