Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Catnip: Kitty crack, kiddo calmer

Catnip: Nepeta cataria

Catnip is an herb in the mint family commonly used to make cats twitchy and insane. Every time I have had a bag of catnip in my herb stash not properly stored in an airtight container, my cats have completely annihilated it and gone on a crazy kitty catnip binge that rivaled WWI. Cats have receptors for the chemical nepetalactone that enhance emotion that people do not have, which is why we do not roll around in piles of the stuff making a mess all across the house. Fair warning, cats will destroy the live plants as well, so protecting your plant if your home is around cats may be something to consider when growing it.

Catnip is commonly used with humans to treat colic, headache, toothache, colds, and spasms. It is a calming nervous tonic and USUALLY will help a person fall asleep. Some people might have an opposite effect so if you are trying it as a calming agent, try it the first time during the day to see if it calms you so you are not accidentally up all night.

It is effective for treating anxiety, insomnia, and nervousness, and is also great for easing migraine headaches, stomach complaints, and also reduces swelling associated with arthritis, hemorrhoids, and soft tissue injuries.

An oil infusion of catnip is useful in baths and good for massages for children suffering from measles, chickenpox, whooping cough, colic, fevers, hives, insomnia and hyperactivity.

It is one of the best herbs you can find to use with children because of its gentle calming nature.

I add catnip to my daughter’s chamomile tea when she is teething. The combination helps alleviate pain and calm her so she can sleep. It also adds a slight minty flavor which is pleasant. I keep a sippy cup with the tea in her crib at night for when she wakes up. I also add it to a teething glycerite I make for her, and add it to my husband’s sleepy time tea.

You can see why this wonderful, gentle herb has made it into my “medicine cabinet“. How do you use Catnip in your home?

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday, and Simple Living Wednesday.

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OW! Safe, natural, and effective pain relief while pregnant.

Pregnancy is an amazing, wonderful, life changing journey that has its wonderful ups and not so wonderful downs. For some there are more downs than up. For those of us with chronic pain issues, pregnancy can pose a serious problem to our pain management routines.

I have two bulged disks in my back from working in a hospital. I have gone to physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractors, acupuncturists, yoga, you name it. About three years after the injury I was finally able to manage the pain without drugs most of the time, only taking Ibuprofen occasionally for inflammation or pain.

Unfortunately for my back I got pregnant which made things flare up again. During my first pregnancy I mostly suffered through the pain, popping Tylenol like it was no ones business, and got massages at least once a week. As the pregnancy progressed and I got bigger (much much bigger), my back pain actually eased up. According to my wonderful massage therapist I had in Spokane, I have a deep curve in my lower back (she used the real term for this which escapes me at the moment), and as I got bigger the curve straightened out. Woo hoo!

This pregnancy is so much different! I had been doing hatha yoga for about 2 months prior to getting pregnant which helped manage the aches/pains/sore muscles early in the pregnancy. My body was much stronger going into things this time so the pain issues did not start until about 20 weeks. I stopped doing hatha around 12 weeks pregnant because the forward bends and twists were just too much for me and baby.

When my pain issues surfaced this time I really had no idea what to do. There is no tea I have found to help with pain that is safe to drink during pregnancy. Tylenol was not cutting it, and all the nice anti-inflammatory drugs are a no go. To top it off Colorado insurance laws suck, so although my insurance will pay for massage, no massage clinics around accept our insurance! This means I have to pay out of pocket and hope to be reimbursed. That sucks.

On my search for something to help the pain I went to my Apothecary and bought a brilliant oil called “Sore Muscle Oil” which is amazing and works well during massages to really loosen up the muscles that are bugging you. The oil is a bit pricey so I modified it a bit and started making my own back pain oil, this time with a little more kick. Recipe to follow in another post. The other problem with the oil is you really need a back rub to get it to sink in. It is not an instant topical relief.

Since I started using doTERRA oils to help supplement my natural health care journey, I did some research to see what oils were good to use for pain and inflammation. doTERRA has oil blends that are specifically designed for pain and inflammation but they have peppermint in them, which is not recommended for use when you are still breast feeding, which I am, and will be again shortly. So on the search I went and I found Frankincense.

Frankincense is known best as a holy oil from the middle east, but did you ever consider why it was such a cherished commodity? If you don’t have time to watch that big long video let me just say that this oil has a variety of uses, from anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal, anticancer, antidepressant, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antitomor, immune stimulant, and sedative. It is pretty awesome stuff with many many uses.

We have been using Frankincense to help with the pain in my  husbands foot from gout so I figured what the heck, and rubbed it on my back on a particularly angry spot. I probably used about 3 drops. The pain I was having was gone in about 30 seconds and stayed away for about 6 hours. It was amazing. I now apply it every night before I go to bed topically to relieve pain, and prevent night time pain I might have, and have recently been taking it internally*, 3 drops, twice a day to help reduce inflammation and swelling, and to help fight this terrible cold we have been having.

It helps reduce my pain and inflammation drastically, and has helped me sleep better because my hip pain from side sleeping every night has been terrible.

The prenatal yoga and chiropractor were really helping me manage the pain, but the frankincense is what is reducing the inflammation and keeping the pain away. I would recommend all three if you are combating pain, especially while pregnant as there are no scary side effects to the oil. I have also heard great things about acupuncture for pain management while pregnant but have not had the chance to use it during pregnancy.

What do you do to naturally manage your pain during pregnancy?

* do not take any essential oils internally that are not approved for oral use as a dietary supplement. doTERRA Frankincense is Approved by the FDA for use as a Food Additive and Flavoring Agent. Always use caution when using essential oils and be sure anything you use is 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils and is labeled for therapeutic use (not aromatic)

For more information on doTERRA oils feel free to contact me or check them out here. There are more affordable ways to get the oils than the retail price so be sure to ask for more information.

Shared on The Morris Tribe’s Blog Carnival.

The wonders of Chamomile

As a mother, and a woman who has been pregnant or breast feeding for almost 2 1/2 years straight, and counting, Chamomile is my go to herb for just about everything. It is gentle and great to use for so many different problems and, as long as you are not allergic to it (it is in the ragweed family), has no real side effects. Even the main stream medical sites I have checked have no side effects listed for Chamomile! It is safe to use with children, during pregnancy and breast feeding.

We give chamomile tea to our daughter when she has an upset stomach, teething, emotionally upset, sleepless, has a fever, cold, flu, and pretty much any other problems that might come up. I drink Chamomile tea to calm down and relax after a stressful day, induce sleep, ease “the crazy“, reduce inflammation, and help ease my nasty stomach. I also use chamomile oil in my salves and baths as it is wonderful on the skin. Chamomile is also used to treat skin conditions  like psoriasis and eczema, helps heal wounds and abscesses, reduces inflammation, and can be used as a tea in a bath to help treat and sooth chicken pox, diaper rash, and colic. It is a wonderful nervous system tonic as well.

Of all the herbs in all the land, this is one that is easy to get ahold of, even in tea bags. It is cheap and very available. It is easy to grow (since it is a weed and will take over any dirt it gets its little seedlings into) and wild craft.  This is a MUST HAVE in any pantry or herbal medicine cabinet.

How do you use chamomile in your family medicine cabinet?

How to topically relieve gout pain with Essential Oils

Just a quick post about my husband’s gout. He is currently having a gout attack in his knee. He gets gout often due to an old kidney problem he had when he was younger. If you have suffered gout you know it is extremely painful, especially when it attacks a new joint, which it is in his case.

We are doing our best to avoid unnecessary medications (like hydrocodone) and were looking for a good way to treat the gout pain while his body fights the gout.

So, to treat gout pain we used essential oils of Frankincense, Basil, Geranium, and Peppermint. 2 drops each on the effected area about every 4 hours. After applying we put a hot pack (rice pack) on his knee. He says it helps his pain a lot and is helping him avoid needing the heavy duty pain killers.

I did want to mention we use doTERRA’s Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils. They are intensely tested for purity in each batch of oils to be sure they are clean, pesticide free, chemical free, and additive free. Be sure any oils you are using are Pure Therapeutic Grade oils for Therapeutic Use! You will not see good results with oils that are not pure, and not approved for topical therapeutic use. There is a HUGE difference between the quality and effectiveness of Aromatherapy oils and Therapeutic oils. Please be safe when buying and using oils.

He is also taking an epsom salt bath with baking soda to help leech some of the uric acid out of his leg. Lets hope he is mobile by tomorrow!

UPDATE:

After 24 hours of the gout attack start up, with the use of essential oils and the baking soda/Epsom salt bath, the attack has stopped. His knee is still sore from the damage from the gout crystals but the attack, which usually lasts about three days, has let up! He is amazed that it worked and I am glad to have had my husband back to help clean the house today. YAY!

What is your natural remedy for a gout attack?

What is in my “medicine” cabinet

It is cold and flu season. If you have children, are around children, work outside the home, or have any contact with society whatsoever I am sure you are aware of this. I am in a wonderful group of natural living mamma’s who all have kiddos the same age as my little one. We are all different levels of “Green and Crunchy” and have discussions almost daily about the green stuff we are doing in our lives. I love that we all have special things in our life that we focus on, I am big on herbs and healing.

Almost every day someone’s little one is sick and I (or one of the other more herbally inclined mamma’s) have recommendations about herbs that might help the kiddo/husband/mamma feel better, and the moms who do not use herbs on a regular basis never have the herbs I suggest on hand! I decided to make a list of my “natural” medicine cabinet. It seems like a lot but using just these herbs and oils we have drastically reduced our use of Tylenol/Ibuprofen and we don’t even keep stomach medicine, cold and flu medicine, teething gel, sleeping pills, store-bought lotions, diaper creams, shampoo, conditioner, you get the idea.

These are specific to my family. As you get used to using more herbs in your every day life, and find a good herbalist, you will find the perfect combination to have on hand in your home.

Here is my list of things I try not to go without in my home. This includes Herbs, Essential oils, and the extra stuff you need to turn these into medicine. I know the list seems daunting BUT with these few herbs you can take control of your family’s health and be your own family physician.

I will go more into detail with one herb or oil every week for “Wellness Wednesday” so keep an eye out every Wednesday for an update on the benefits of each of these herbs and oils for your family in detail!

Herbs:

Chamomile, CalendulaCatnipDandelion rootElder Berry, FennelLavender, Licorice, Marshmallow root, NettleOat straw, Peppermint, Red Clover, Red Raspberry Leaf, Rose Hips, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Yarrow

Essential oils:

Basil, Breathe oil, Digestzen, Frankincense, GeraniumGinger, Lavender,  Lemon, Melaleuca,  OnGuard oil, Peppermint.

Things that help make medicine:

Honey, Vegetable Glycerin, Vodka, Bees Wax, Olive oil, Almond oil, Baking Soda (aluminum free), Epsom Salt, Sea Salt, Vinegar (white and apple cider vinegar), Tea pot, Tea strainer/ball/french press

What is on your families “Must Have” natural wellness list? I would love to hear what is in your natural medicine cabinet and why! 

This blog is featured on A Delightful Home‘s Your Green Resource, and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, and Wildcrafting Wednesday.

Tummy Tamer Tea

As I have mentioned before I have been struggling with a gluten intolerance and have cut out gluten from my food, unless something slips in there I don’t know about. I have been gluten-free for almost 2 months and my stomach still HURTS! Even with the medication I am taking I am having issues and can not figure out what the problem is. I understand I have a food slip (where there is gluten in something I was not aware of) probably once a week but the stomach pain is daily. I called the pharmacy where I get my stomach medicine to find out what else is in the pill other than the drug its self and the pill is not gluten-free… Damn it!

So I talked to my midwife and she recommended papaya enzymes. I am going to go get some tomorrow. I guess most of the people in her family have celiac and that is what they take when they have gluten issues.

I went to the herbalist and told them my problem, and that I needed a tea to help assist with my digestion problems and healing and this is what they suggested, I thought I would share.

Equal parts of:

Calendula: Soothes and heals intestinal lining and reduces inflammation.
Fennel: Helps treat indigestion, calming to the intestines and stomach.
Marshmallow root: Soothes irritation of the mucous membranes, coats the stomach and other digestive regions, protecting their soft walls from acid and other irritants.
Chamomile: Anti inflammatory, calming.

She mentioned the tea mix they usually recommend has other herbs in it that are not safe for pregnancy/lactation so we stuck with this simple tea. Lets hope it helps. I have had a nice big 24 oz of it so far today and my stomach does feel better. Lets hope it lasts!

How do you soothe an angry stomach? Any natural celiac tips?

Geranium Essential Oil

I ordered some essential oils to help ease labor and delivery when the time comes and one of the recomended oils was Geranium. I have never worked with geranium before and was not sure of its effects on me so I figured I would give it a go.

I decided to make an anti dandruff hair oil tonight and used the geranium as one of the ingredients and I LOVE the smell! Floral, but not too strong, it is relaxing and calming but less strongly scented/potent smelling than lavender.

I think I will add this to my scented set of wool dryer balls once the current oil wears off. I would love to smell this all day.

From the doTERRA website:
Geranium Essential Oil
Pelargonium graveolens

Geranium offers outstanding benefits for soothing skin and is a common ingredient in many skin care products. Also useful for joint support and tempering minor aches and pains, geranium’s calming effects make it a popular choice for many essential oil users*. For aromatic or topical use.

Properties: Antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, insect repellent, refreshing, relaxing, sedative, tonic

There are numerous uses for geranium but I will just list a few here relating to pregnancy and labor, seeing as that is why I got it, although I want you to know it is good for so much more! If you have any questions ask me I have some very good books that might have the answers.

Geranium is safe for use int he second and third trimesters of pregnancy and is used to treat exhaustion, varicose veins, and edema. It is a known hormonal stimulant so listen to your body and how it reacts to this oil, especially when pregnant. (Essential Oils For Maternity published by Abundant Health, LLC)
It can be used in a massage oil for back pain/sciatica/leg cramps/perineal preparation (I am making an oil for sciatica soon); a foot rub for edema mixed with lemon, wild orange, or lavender; Hemorrhoids (you know the ones you get after pushing a melon out your lady bits); sore breasts, and stretch marks.

It is calming, reduces agitation, bleeding, dysmenorrhea, environmental stress, gall stones, insomnia, pelvic pain syndrome, physical stress, PMS, post labor, varicose veins, vertigo, and has numerous skin benefits. (Modern Essentials, A Contemporary Guide to the Theraputic Use of Essential Oils)

As you can see it is a great feminine ally, and one all woman should have on hand.

One of the things I love about doTERRA oils is their purity, being Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oils are tested bottle by bottle for purity, to be sure they are 100% pure essential oils without pesticides or chemical residue. It insures the plants used on the oils were harvested at the right time, and very high quality. This makes it the only brand I trust to use while pregnant, breast feeding, and on my child. For more information on doTERRAs quality control compared to other manufacturers you can read here.

How do you use Geranium Essential Oil? I would love some recipes/protocols on how you have used it and how it has benefited you.

Saving money, living better, being green.

Ok so I have been thinking a lot about our budget lately, and looking at the “average” budgets most others have. I am trying to figure out where people get their numbers! Comparing our budget for a 3.5 person house to the national average is eye-opening.

Where we spend:

Food

We spend 18% of our income on food. We do this because it costs more money to eat organic whole foods. There is really no getting around that. By increasing the quality of what we eat we save in other areas of our life. My husband was missing a lot of work because of health problems before switching our diet. He is out of work 3-5 days less a month than he was before the switch saving us his PTO time and the salary cut he had to take when he ran out of PTO.

We spend less on doctors visits because of our diet changes as well.

Healthcare

Our insurance is subsidized through Mikes work, so we “only” pay about $400 a month for insurance. We do get the good insurance though (an extra $60 a month) so we can take advantage of the alternative care. I get masages almost every week for prenatal/post natal care and health maintenance. Mike and I take full advantage of the Chiropractor/Acupuncture benefits as well. I wish I could say we used a Natropath instead of a MD but there are no ND’s in our area who accept insurance and we don’t have the money to pay out-of-pocket and hope for reimbursement from the insurance company. I have found a holistic MD that I think I like though. We have a FSA so our co-pays are at least paid with tax-free money. It is helping a lot too with the hospital and midwife payments for the pregnancy. Too bad they are changing the way FSAs work starting next year due to the new health care legislation. Maybe we will get lucky and our insurance rates will drop?

Where we save:

Cleaning products

We have made our last big market cleaning product purchase. From here on out we make our own house hold cleaners, bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, laundry detergent AND dish washer soap! I am terrified of the dish washer soap, that is one we have not switched yet I just stocked up on my favorite out of fear, but when we run out I am making our own! Mark my words! Instead of spending an average of $30 a month on cleaning products we will be spending an average of $14 about every 3 months on vinegar, baking soda, borax, and Dr. Bonner’s soap.

By switching to home-made, natural cleaning products we not only reduce our cost of living but also reduce our families exposure to many carcinogenic, teteratogenic, and mutinogenic chemicals lurking in our home.

Personal care products

I make our personal care products. I have been using the Oil Cleansing Method on my face which has been FABULOUS and cleared my skin right up. More on that later. I make my own body lotion and oils, bath salts, diaper salve, eczema salve, deodorant, and have been “poo free” for 2 months now. Yes I still bathe daily but use baking soda and apple cider vinegar for my hair instead of shampoo and conditioner. My hair looks and feels great by the way! We buy hand-made goats milk bar soap from farmers markets and craft fairs for soap, which feels so decadent to me. I love it! I used to spend about $40 on personal care items, not including makeup, which cost me another $20-30 a month.

By simplifying our personal care products, and knowing exactly what is going onto my family’s body we can better control the toxins we expose our selves to. I am not sure the accuracy of this statement BUT the herbalist I worked with in Spokane mentioned that 40% of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our body and blood stream.  The skin is the largest organ on the body after all. If you could reduce your risk simply enough wouldn’t you? More on the health benefits of cleaning up your personal care products here.

Housing expenses

We live in a smaller than necessary apartment and keep the heater between 62 and 65* on a day-to-day basis. We turn down the heat and turn off the lights when we leave the house. Our light bulbs are all CFL’s which save a lot of power usage and our water heater is at 120* unless I am tackling some stubborn diapers. We spend an average of 19% of our income on our housing expenses when the average family is at 34%. (Note that is not including the cost of our home in Spokane, which is a rental and netting $0 profit or loss at the moment).

Baby products

We cloth diaper almost all of the time. Ellie gets a rash at night, or wakes up wet in cloth so she sleeps in sposies almost every night. Other than that though we cloth diaper. If we were buying her disposables at the rate we change diapers and in the brand we use that does not cause her rashes, we would be spending an average of $90 a month, which would end up being about 1,080 a year. In Ellie’s first year of life we spent $320 on cloth diapers (that includes the very generous gift of my wonderful sister for Ellie’s baby shower), and I just bought some new-born diapers for when #2 comes for an additional $200. We are now over supplied with diapers and I will probably sell off some of my extras once we see how well we go through what we have. I spend $12 every 3-4 months on laundry detergent and the water/electric cost really is minimal with the washer and dryer, especially since we line dry during the summer. So we can call that a $59 a month savings on cloth diapering in the first year, and more for the second year into potty training, especially since half of year 2 will be spent diapering 2 kids! Good planning on our part.

And really what is cuter than a kiddo in a cloth diaper. Yeah she posed for this.

By cloth diapering we are reducing our child’s exposure to the toxic chemicals in children’s diapers. Ellie rarely gets diaper rash or yeast infections like a lot of babies I know who use disposables. I think once parents get over the learning curve of cloth diapering they will truly appreciate the health and financial benefits.

Breast Feeding

Ellie was exclusively breast fed for 6 months and is still breast fed to this day. She does not get cows milk when she is not nursing, she gets water. This saved us $1,733.75 in her first year of life alone (according to these calculations done with numbers from 2007). This is not including the cost of Organic Whole Milk we would have switched to afterward.

This cost is also not including the fact that miss Ellie has very rarely been sick enough to take to the doctor. Here is a good article about the benefits of BFing and some great links to scientific articles.

Clothes

We rarely buy new clothes for our selves, but when we do we buy quality. We never buy brand new clothes for our child unless they are on serious discount. It just seems like a waste of money for something she will grow out of quickly or destroy while playing. My MIL does buy her a new wardrobe at least twice a year because shopping for little girls is so fun. My savings tip: do not buy small children new clothes, they don’t need new clothes (unless it is a special occasion) nor do they care if they have new clothes. Let them be a little rough and tumble, creative and artsy, and have fun without worrying about staining or tearing. It will make your life much less stressful.

This is why we don’t need to destroy new clothes. 

How is this green? Re-use baby , re-use!

Transportation/vehicle expenses

We have 1 car. It is 10 years old and well maintained, most days. We own the car outright and have no monthly payments. Maintenance cost (including the big repairs spread out over the year) average about $80 a month. We spend about $80 a month on gas if I am driving a lot.  We live 5 miles away from Mike’s work and he bikes to work as weather permits, which is about 9 months out of the year. The rest of the time I give him a ride to and from work or he carpools. Bike maintenance is about $10 a month. Insurance cost is about $60 a month. That makes our transportation cost $230 a month, about 4.6% of our budget. The average American household spends 16% of their household income on transportation. It pays to drive an old car with decent mileage and only have 1 car if your situation allows.

By only driving one car we reduce our emissions by half, our gas usage by half, and our 10 year old car is just as fuel efficient as a car of the same size made this  year.

I could go on about how we save “being green” but I would love to know how you save? What are your tricks to benefiting your family and your environment by “being green”? I find the changes we have made help us support our expensive food habit and make our life much more enjoyable. I would love to hear your experiences.

Shared on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, and Our Simple Farm’s Simple Living Wednesday.

Essential oils 101: What are Essential Oils?

As you can tell from reading my different recipes, I love essential oils. They allow me to be able to gain the medicinal benefits of a plant without having to use a large amount of material. People always ask me questions about the oils, like where do I get them? How do you use them? Can you use too much? Because EO use is not common among the general population I decided to start an Essential Oil 101 series. Every week I will focus on a specific aspect of the use of EO’s to hopefully help  you in your wellness journey and increase your confidence in using oils. I just started selling EO’s through a wonderful company called doTERRA and will discuss them intermittently through all of this, but know that my focus here is to help you feel confident in your use, not to sell you oils. IF you do need them though, please take a look at my site. Thanks.

What are Essential Oils?

An Essential Oil is a concentrated liquid containing volatile organic compounds from different parts of the main plant including, but not limited to: seeds, bark, stems, roots and flowers. This plant liquid is not specifically oil of the plant, but the essence of the plant, with its specific scent, and chemical properties which is where we get the specific benefits from each individual kind of oil. Essential oils are very clean to the touch, not at all oily, and immediately absorbs into the skin.

Essential oils are not the same as perfume or fragrance oils. Essential oils are made from pure plants, while most perfume and fragrance oils are petroleum based fake scents and do not have the same beneficial effects of EO’s. Extraction of pure essential oils usually requires laboratory equipment and large amounts of plant materials for a small yield of oil. Seeing the extraction methods available it is easy to understand why good, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils cost so much.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years across many different cultures not only because they are beautifully fragrant but also because essential oils contain unique benefits to health and well being depending on the specific plant they are derived from. For example Lavender is a commonly used oil with anti-fungal, antiseptic, antidepressant, calming, normalizing, harmonizing, deodorizing, rejuvenation, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial properties and is believed to enhance the immune system. It is well known to calm and relax the nervous system. Sweet Orange is used for its uplifting properties, it is great for skin care, regenerative, antispasmodic, and balancing. These are benefits you will not get from a fake fragrance oil.

Essential oils many holistic and wellness benefits, which we will focus on more with specific plants later in the series, but should be used with caution. Due to their highly potent nature a little bit really does go a long way.  Use caution with the oils if you have a specific health condition, are pregnant, breast feeding, or using oils with children. There are a lot of good sources for information on essential oil uses and safety which I will try to provide for you as I use them. There are also a lot of bad and inaccurate sources out there, mostly on the internet so be ware and be sure your information is from a trusted source. I will link my sources as I can. If I forget please remind me and I will put them up for you!

When you buy Essential Oils, be sure not to trade cost for quality. I may have been cheap when buying oils to clean my house with, but never skimp on the oils I will be applying to my body, or in the products I make for others. “The quality of even pure essential oils can vary greatly depending on the country where the plant was grown, climactic conditions, how the raw material was collected and stored, and the process used to obtain the oil. Always opt for the best quality of oil available.” – The Essential Oils Book by Colleen Dodt. When you buy oils be sure to buy from a reputable supplier who is focused on providing the finest, high quality, pure essential oils. Always look for oils packaged in full dark glass bottles. Read the label carefully. Look for the term “pure essential oil” and for cautions such as “keep out of reach of children” and where the oil is intended for use.

dōTERRA (CPTG) Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils represent some of the safest, purest, and most beneficial essential oils available today. They are gently and skillfully distilled from plants that have been patiently harvested at the perfect moment by experienced growers from around the world for ideal extract composition and efficacy. Experienced essential oil users will immediately recognize dōTERRA’s superior quality standard for naturally safe, purely effective therapeutic-grade essential oils.

Cautions: everyone is different and will react to different oils in varying manners. Keep oils away from eyes. Always wash your hands before and after using essential oils. There is nothing worse than working with an oil, (like peppermint), then rubbing your eyes or mucous membranes directly afterward. I promise you, it feels like burning.  If you do get oil in your eyes do not rinse with water, but apply sweet almond oil (or another base oil) to a cotton ball and apply that to your eye. Water will disperse the oil and make it worse.

Keep out of reach of children. Pure essential oils can be toxic if ingested in large amounts and can be harmful to skin and eyes if improperly diluted.

Practice caution while pregnant. Essential oils are very strong and many have an effect on hormones and muscle contractions. Of everything I have read I would avoid most eo use in the first trimester, and use great caution and education while working with an educated midwife, doctor, or aroma therapist through the rest of your pregnancy.

A little bit goes a long way, using 1-2 drops has beneficial effects, but many people who use more than instructed find the benefit to be mitigated. Remember it takes pounds of plant material to make that very small amount of oil in your bottle. Use sparingly for best results. Also use proper dilution for oils. Most recipes will tell you how many drops of EO to use per oz of carrier oil, or water, or whatever you are using to dilute your material.

The uplifting, healing, and beneficial properties of EO usage in my daily practice has been a pleasure and I truly enjoy finding new uses for the oils. I am now working on putting together an essential oil kit to aid mothers in the stages of labor through the use of calming and uplifting scents, mixed with oils that are known to be beneficial during and after labor for the mother and baby. It is very exciting and becoming an addicting thing. I hope to share the journey with you.

What is your favorite use for Essential Oils? Include your favorite recipe or link here!

Oh my achy pregnant body.

I am almost 32 weeks pregnant. This pregnancy really has been pretty good to me up until recently. I have not thrown up at all except for when I had that horrible stomach bug that put me in the hospital. I have not gained a lot of weight, had very little swelling, and no real “scares”. It has been pretty nice compared to my extremely crappy pregnancy I had with Ellie.

Now that we are getting closer to the end my body HURTS. I have not been able to get my weekly massage because my husband has been sick for a month, and I can definitely feel it. Out of sheer desperation I remembered salt baths were supposed to ease muscle pain and it worked! I have been taking a bath with a combination of Epsom salt, Himalayan sea salts, and some oils every night and my body feels much better afterward. I have had much less pain and cramping, it stops my braxton hicks contractions that I have been having at night, and reduces the pain I feel in my hips when sleeping. My skin is softer and feels healthier than it has in a long time. And, on a side note, since I have been taking this bath nightly my CRAZY HORRIBLE pregnancy dreams/nightmares have not been occurring. I am loving this added side effect as the dreams were truly terrifying.

Ow my achy pregnant body bath:

1c Epsom Salt
1c Sea Salt (Celtic, Himalayan, Dead Sea, or “real salt”)
1/2c Baking Soda (aluminum free)
1/4-1/2c Chamomile Olive Oil Infusion
4-6 drops Lavender Essential Oil
 
Combine in hot bath water (no more than 120 degrees, you are pregnant after all), mix with hands until salt dissolves. There may be a little bit of extra graineyness, that is the extra minerals in your sea salt. Add essential oil drops right before getting into the tub to get the full benefit of the oils. If you add them too soon the bath room will smell lovely, but the oil will have evaporated before it absorbs into your skin. 
 
Enjoy your bath with a nice glass of water or tea. Soak at least 20 minutes. 
 
Be sure to clean out your bath with baking soda when you are done so the next person to use it does not slip and fall! 
 

How do these ingredients help?

Epsom salt is not actually a salt, but a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium and sulfate are readily absorbed in the skin making bathing in it an easy way to absorb all the great health benefits. Magnesium plays many important roles in the body including enzyme regulation, reducing inflammation, improving muscle, nervous, and digestive function. Sulfate improves the absorption of nutrients, flushes toxins, and helps ease headaches.

Here is a great site I found about the benefit of Epsom salt baths. It explains things so well I feel no need to go into more detail. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/health-benefits-of-epsom-salt-baths.html?page=1

Sea Salt is different from the over processed, de-mineralized, iodized “Morton” salt you get at the grocery store. It is naturally occurring salt with the trace minerals still intact having many health benefits, which the over-processed iodized salt does not provide. If you do not know about the difference please do your research! You will be glad you did.

Sea salt is effective at stabilizing irregular heart beat and regulating blood pressure, helps extract extra acidity from your blood cells (a leading cause of inflammation), balances blood sugar levels, is vital to nervous system function, the function of blood cells, the absorption of nutrients, the clearance of lung mucous, anti histamine, anti inflammatory, prevents and eases muscle cramps, along with being an over all good provider of micro nutrients. It also is known to soften the skin. You can use extra salt as a body scrub while you are in the bath to remove excess dead skin cells. It is very relaxing, especially if you combine the salt scrub with some oil.

I have also found the natural sea salt crystals help set the “resonance” of the bath. I prefer Celtic sea salt because I feel like it grounds me better. Yes hippie dippy as my father would say but it does make a difference for me!

Baking soda helps detoxify the body, neutralizes extra acidity in the body and softens the skin. It is a huge detoxifier, and because of this I only use a 1/2 cup per bath. I have read about using a pound a bath but I don’t want that much of a detox while pregnant or breast-feeding.

The chamomile olive oil infusion is for relaxation, anti inflammatory, and calming properties. It helps reduce anxiety and insomnia, it is anti spasmodic and works to calm and relax the nerves and muscles. The oil diffuses nicely in the bath and absorbs well into the skin. I find I rarely have to use oil after the bath for extra moisturization like I do after a shower.

Lavender essential oil helps circulation, eases aches and pains, reduces cellulite,  heart palpitations, high blood pressure, reduces pain and swelling, relaxes muscles, and reduces joint pain. It is calming, uplifting, and balances emotion. It also helps with depression, insomnia, nervous tension, panic and stress. All things experienced at one time or another during pregnancy, at least from my experience.

What do you do to relax and take the pain away while pregnant?