Diffusing the Confusion About Essential Oils

Below are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way in my research about essential oils.

Not All Oils–Or Companies–Are Alike!img_0769

When I began to learn about essential oils, I learned of these two companies: doTERRA and Young Living. From my limited understanding, do TERRA branched off from Young Living, and there was a falling out and a lawsuit brought on by Young Living—you can look it up online if you want more details.

But in my mind, both get a lot of exposure caused by the split and therefore, these consultant-driven businesses are in competition with each other. This doesn’t stick well with me in my “all-natural” craw, if you know what I mean. If you talk to anyone who is a consultant for either one, they will naturally espouse the goodness of their own company and not go into detail about the rift, if you happen ask about it. I’ve spoken to consultants from both companies, and they’ve all been lovely, well-informed people when it came to essential oils. But the bad karma between the two enterprises turned me off to BOTH companies.

Being the rebel that I am, I did my own research and found reputable oils that are easily purchased at local health food markets. I can pick the ones I want to try out and avoid being locked into ‘beginner starter kits’ and other programs that are pricey.

Knock It Off!

I can’t say this enough: avoid purchasing oils that you find in your drug stores or chain stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Essential oils and diffusers seem to be the ‘in’ thing right now, and I’ve seen different unknown brands pop up in different stores . You need to know what is in the oils that you are diffusing, ingesting, or using topically. If it says “100% Pure Frankincense” on the bottle, and it’s only $4.99 at Target, you can safely assume that it’s not PURE Frankincense in that bottle! (Frankincense is one of the most expensive oils you can purchase.) If you diffuse oils that aren’t really pure, you can be putting worse things into your system than you bargained for. And who wants that?

Do Your Homework!

There are literally HUNDREDS of resources available online and in print about essential oils. I like to keep my options open and use both types of sources.

searchPintrest, of course, has quick information for all your essential oil needs, but I also love to have books on hand, because sometimes, it’s just quicker to be able to bookmark a page and turn to it in a pinch. My favorite book is Valerie Worwood’s The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. It is very comprehensive and outlines the history of various oils as well as which oils to use topically, diffuse, and/or ingest. Valerie provides recipes to use with oils for any kind of ailment or household task or beauty regime. She also lists reputable essential oil companies in the back, which was extremely helpful to me in my research, since I was definitely waging a private campaign against both doTERRA and Young Living. (And she does list these two in her book as reputable companies.)

Basically, don’t just start diffusing because ‘everyone is doing it’. If you’re not sure about an oil, be investigative and find the answers you are looking for. Work smarter, not harder! Look for book titles online, then go to the library and check out the books that interest you. I love doing this because I can make sure the book (s) have the information I require before purchasing. I made the mistake once of purchasing a cookbook before I really reviewed it. I’ll never do that again!

In this case, doing your homework means the difference between being informed or spending money that really can be saved for a better purchase.

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way!

The oils are potent, so after you have researched what oils you want to use and how to use them safely, do it drop by drop. I learned that I could use Frankincense, Rosemary, and Oregano in combination to help combat my Lyme disease. But after applying 3-4 diluted drops of each to each foot, I felt somewhat stomach sick within a half an hour! I should have just used one oil at a time and rotated, but live and learn, right?

I also discovered that Geranium and Lavender, which smell wonderful together, are not a good combination for me when I am dealing with congestion; the two actually made my symptoms worse!  But a Lemon and Eucalyptus blend were perfect for me in the bath or in the shower when I was all stuffy.

So in the case of essential oils, a little bit does go a long way. It’s better to start of with one or two drops and build up. Rotating oils is also recommended if you notice that you aren’t getting the same effects over a period of time.

Diffusers Don’t Need To Be Expensive to be Worthy

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This is my Wal-Mart diffuser. Isn’t it pretty?  It also lights up!

Now that you are ready with oils, you need to get a diffuser.  And just like anything else on the market, diffusers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices.

Three things I learned to consider when deciding on a diffuser:

Ease of Opening

Room Size

Price

Personally, I have three diffusers. And the easiest one to open is the cheapest one that I bought at Wal-Mart, made by Better Homes and Garden. Both the outside glass cover, much like a bell jar, and the inside cover, are easily removable. Because the square footage of my bedroom is relatively small, I can put the diffuser on, shut the door, and within a half an hour, the air in the room is filled with any beautiful oil that I put inside.

The one I bought from my classroom has a plastic cover that you need to twist on and off according to arrow indicators on the outer lid and diffuser. My hands are small, so this one is hard for me to grasp and as a result, it is difficult to open and close. I purchased it because it is larger in size, and has a timer for how long you want it to run. Its size allows it to run up to 360 minutes, which is great in the classroom! But I didn’t consider how to opens (I bought this one online) and because it’s harder to open, I end up just leaving the lid in the unlocked position to avoid having to twist it open when it is time to refill.

I have another one that my husband purchased as a Christmas gift. It is made out of wood—it’s very pretty and looks lovely in my livingroom, but again, it’s a little trickier to open and close due to the design.

The square footage of my living room is much larger than that of my bedroom. The room also opens up to a stairwell, so when diffusing, it seems to require more drops of oil to reap the same benefits as in an enclosed space like my bedroom.

So, consider all these factors before purchasing and diffusing. And if you can, purchase your diffuser in person and not online, so you can actually see the diffuser and test out how it opens and closes.

 

Well, I hope these tips help clear the air when considering using essential oils!

Let me know how it goes!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

Traditions of Love

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Here we are on our wedding day in front of the church.  I am a direct descendent of the second minister of the church, which was burned down by the British during the Revolutionary War.

I married my husband on July 21, 2001, when I was 31 years old.

We had met when I was 26, and three years later, became engaged. We had a 2-year engagement, where we saved to pay for both our wedding and honeymoon. I remember writing that check to the restaurant for the reception…it was painful to see that money one minute and hand it over in the next, but what a fun night we had!

He is the youngest of ten, so we had a very large wedding party with his five brothers, my three sisters and brother, a girlfriend of mine, and a niece and nephew as flower girl and ring bearer.

We were married in the Protestant church I grew up in, and we also had a priest officiating, to represent both of our faiths.

Chris and I love a good party, so we planned our reception to be fun. Once in a while, I hear a comment about how much fun our wedding was—as well as how much food was there! We had picked a local restaurant for our reception, and although Chris and I didn’t get to eat that night, we knew our guests would be satisfied with the several course dinner.

We had hired a DJ and because we had different generations of people attending, we tried to select dancing music that everyone could enjoy. Chris and I danced to Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight”, which was about as slow as it got that night! And our cake cutting song was Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy”.  I can’t remember what the entrance songs were at the reception, but I am sure they were just as upbeat and jazzy.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn about and enjoy many different traditions from my husband’s family. Christmas Eve was the first tradition that I experienced and we continue to enjoy every year. We’ve hosted it a few times, and it’s just a big party overloaded on family, food, and gifts!

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband’s family had a baby shower for me, complete with a cookie tray and a beautiful stork that was made by my father in law and had graced the family baby showers over the years.

When my daughter was Sophia christened, my mother made her Christening gown, and she was able to wear a baby Christening ring that has been in my husband’s family for generations.

This past weekend, we went to a family gathering that allowed me to be part of yet another family tradition. A nephew on my husband’s side had gotten married this past February out in California, and his parents held a summer reception at their home here in Connecticut. It was a big party, complete with a tent, white tablecloths, and catered food.

But what was really special for me were the cookies that his aunts and myself made for dessert.

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The tray before the unveiling.

One of my sister-in-laws organized our baking a few weeks ago, and when the seven of us were done, the tray that was made would be the pride of any upstanding Italian wedding! It had anginettes, layered cookies, two kinds of biscotti, raspberry bars, peanut butter and chocolate cookies, chocolate anisette balls, linzer strips, almonds, and little chocolate kisses interspersed.

I couldn’t attend the building of the tray due to an upset stomach, but I was able to see the final product when it arrived at the party house. What a beautiful tray! I was glad that I was able to bake and participate in the cookie tray event. It was a special tradition, that I hope we aunties continue to do, over the next generation of weddings and showers.

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The layers of love in this tray are fit for any Italian wedding.

I wish my nephew and his now six-month bride a wonderful life full of great memories, happy days, and yummy cookies!

What traditions does your family enjoy?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

Kale Supreme

Here is my own recipe I created for the Kale Supreme dish I am bringing to a family gathering tomorrow.

You can adjust the ingredients to whatever veggies and meats you like, just be sure you have enough meat to balance the veggies.  Since I am limited in what foods I can eat, I use at least 2 meats when I make this dish. For this event, I chose to add bacon as well…who doesn’t love bacon?  It gives the dish enough salt and complements the sweetness of the roasted brussel sprouts.

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Ingredients:

Olive oil (in a pourable hand-held container…you will be using a lot of olive oil!)

Garlic- 2-3 cloves, cut up

Kale -1 bunch,  stems removed and leaves chopped up (you can put it in a processor or cut the leaves with scissors)

Brussel sprouts 1-2 containers, depending on your own taste (I used 2 here) cut in half pieces

1 lb bacon cut up into bite size pieces

1 lb chicken cut up into bite size pieces

1 lb sausage either removed from casings or cut up into bite size pieces

Any other veggies you like: red peppers, broccoli, or asparagus cut up would be good in this

Steps:

Pre-heat oven to 375 or 400, whichever you prefer.

Mix chicken, sausage and bacon in separate bowls w/ olive oil.  Place each meat separately in baking pans and cook until done. I line my pans with foil just to make clean up easier. Put some olive oil in the pans as well to discourage sticking.

Put kale into a bowl while meat is cooking.  Mix with more olive oil to coat the leaves.  Add salt if you like.

Cook garlic in olive oil large pan (like what you use to make a large pot of homemade sauce in) and add kale once the garlic is almost browned.  Add a little more olive oil if the pan is dry.  You can put all of the kale into the pan, (it will fill to the top of the pan!) putting the stove on a medium flame or temp. It will cook down to cover the bottom of the pan in about 7 minutes or so. Stir the kale from time to time and continue to add olive oil as it cooks so that it doesn’t stick to bottom of the pan.

Once the kale is done, add the meats to the pan just to mix it all together.

After you halve the brussel sprouts, put them in a bowl and again, toss them with olive oil. Put some more olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish and put the flat sides of the sprouts on the bottom of the pans.  You will need to let the brussel sprouts roast  for about an hour at 375.  If you want them darker, just roast them longer!

Once the sprouts are golden brown, put the kale and meat mixture into a pretty serving dish.  In the picture above, I used a lasagna dish.  But any rectangular or other heat-resistant dish will do.  Add the brussel sprouts on top.  Try not to steal a few to munch on!

Cover with foil or a top and keep in the fridge until you are ready to heat it up and eat!

I suggest taking the dish of the fridge and letting it get room temperature before heating just to hasten the heating time if you are serving the whole dish.

A few notes:

This makes about 3 or 4 individual meals for myself. It keeps very well in the fridge for a few days.  And when I want to heat it up, I just put the portion I want in a sauce pan with some olive oil to keep it from sticking to the bottom.

Another variation would be to make the kale and cook some shrimp with lemon and olive oil  and bacon as the meat addition.  I would cook the shrimp on the stove and bake the bacon in the oven as directed above, since shrimp cooks very quickly and you don’t want to to over cook it.  I can’t handle the shellfish, but I am sure that would be yummy! Salmon or cod might work well, too.  You  just want to be sure you have enough of the fish to enjoy with the kale. And the fish may not last as long in the fridge, so you want to be sure to eat it before the fish gets too fishy!

What other variations can you come up with?

Enjoy!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways To Be The Best Lyme Warrior You Can Be

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1. Documentation Is Your Saving Grace

When I first became ill, before even seeing anyone who really helped me, I started what I now jokingly call “My Lime Bible”.  It’s a green binder (I want to get a Lyme and tick photo to slip into the clear, plastic front cover….) that is sectioned off with pocket files, one for each doctor, specialist, dietician, or practitioner. I have a separate pocket for blood work results. I also have a pocket with general information about my health prior to my illness as well as monthly changes, positive or negative.

Additionally, I created a table in Word where I record daily my food and liquid intake, with measured amounts, as well as any reactions I had. I note exercise and daily supplements and amounts as well. I make hard copies of this to bring to appointments as needed. Sometimes this information changes, so it is important to note what date supplements were added or stopped as well as reactions that occurred.

I take a loose leaf notebook with me to every appointment, and put all my notes in the corresponding pocket. It’s impossible to remember every thing, so this is a quick way to help me and gives me a system to check back if I need to.

I keep a post it note with the name, address, and phone number of the specialist on the front of each pocket for easy reference as well. This was especially helpful for me when I had to go see a neurologist and was having difficulty reaching the office over the phone with the number they gave me. When they called me on a different line, I jotted that number down as well.

Little things like this help streamline my treatment and make it easier to share my complex history with new practitioners.

2. Know And Listen To Your Body

When you are struck with a chronic illness, your body has amazing ways to tell you when something is or isn’t good for you. Learn to listen to your body and respond. Back to back activities for me right now is a recipe for disaster, so I have learned to really pace what extra activities I can do.  I’ve come to realize my health is more imporant right now than being sure that I attend every family get togther.

If you feel tired, say not to family and friends.

Even if you anticipate being tired, say no to friends and family.

Leave from events early if you need to.

Eat and drink what and when you should to avoid getting more tired than necessary.

Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night; 10 hours is best.

3. Brain Fog Strategies

I was so distressed early on when I realized that my brain wasn’t functioning like normal. I was used to having a ‘ticker tape’ running in my head of things I needed to accomplish each day, especially on the weekends. Now, I realize that is just not a good option for me anymore.

Instead, I use little strategies to help me remember things:

Stay in one area of the house to complete a task before leaving the room. Many a lunch was left unfinished before I started doing this!

Use post-it notes for reminders like : switch the laundry or empty the dishwasher. Display them in a prominent place where they will likely be seen.

Tape invitations next to the calendar as well as write the information down on the corresponding date.

If your store offers this service, order groceries on-line and  have them delivered or picked up when scheduled. This both a time and energy saver for me. The store I use also saves my favorites and my last order, so I always go to those sections of the website first to see what I need before adding new items.  This helps me remember to order staples like milk or eggs, which I may have in my head to do, but oftentimes, I’ll forget, because I get sidetracked looking up other items.

Write due dates for  library books right on the calendar.

Focus and tackle one small cleaning job at a time if you feel up to it.  Starting two or three is too taxing on the memory and the body.

4. Food Can Be Your Best Friend Or Your Worst Enemy

Remember my Lyme Bible? Over time, I was able to see what foods caused what reactions in my body. It was so disheartening to me to find out that I was having issues with almost every part of the food pyramid: dairy, carbohydrates, fruits, nuts, and nightshade vegetables. But I’d never know this if I didn’t keep a food journal on the advice of my naturopath and dietician.

Just as an example, I was drinking lemon water for the longest time, thinking that it was a healthy way to detox my body. One day it dawned on me that lemon was a fruit, and that was probably why I was experiencing a light stinging sensation over my whole body! Sure enough, once I just switched to regular water, the stinging subsided. I felt even better once I started adding green tea into my diet.

Becoming a label reader was really important for me. I read many posts about Lyme warriors eating gluten-free processed products because they are staying away from wheat, and I cringe inside. Gluten-free doesn’t mean sugar-free. In fact, if you start to read and compare labels, you will see that many gluten-free products have just as much sugar as regular wheat produced products! You are just feeding your little Lyme friends by eating gluten-free processed food products like breads, cereals, and crackers.

A few guidelines that have helped me:

Stick to eating whole foods, not packaged or processed foods.

Cook in olive oil.

Drink only water or tea that you brew.   I drink 40 oz of water and/or green tea per meal, and another 10-16 oz in between meals to total close to 100 oz or more of fluids a day. The green tea seems to help me greatly with inflammation.

Eat at least 4 – 6 oz of protein for each large meal to help sustain cravings and maintain energy levels. I typically eat 5-8 oz of protein.

Use supplements that are made out of whole foods and not synthetic compounds. Talk to an experienced holistic practitioner or naturopath about the important difference between the two.

 

5. Reach out and Touch Somebody’s Hand

The best information I received about how to heal wasn’t from anyone with an MD after his or her name, it was from people who went through Lyme, are going through it, or know someone with Lyme. Also, natural practitioners and a dietician helped me greatly. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. There is so much information out there, you need to work smarter, not harder, when you have Lyme.

Ask friends and family whom they recommend for a naturopath, holistic practitioner, dietician, or LLMD.

Research all natural cleaning products, shampoos, and body cleansers, toothpastes, etc.  to find ways to limit more outside toxins entering into your body.    Some companies will send you free samples to try if you ask! Dr. Bronner’s sent me free many free samples of their products, and I’ve discovered what compounds from their line my skin can tolerate as well as which ones aren’t safe for me.

Keep in touch with family, friends, and co-workers either on the phone or by email. These little connections can help you to keep a positive attitude even on a bad day.

Send cards to friends and family via snail mail.  It’s nice to receive letters from people, and it’s equally as nice to send them out, too!

 

And never stop learning. Your health depends on it.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

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Today, the weather is beautiful outside with no humidity, and I’m feeling relatively normal for me, so it’s a ‘cook in bulk’ day today.

I was advised that I need to do this, since I have such a limited diet and must prepare fresh meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every. Single. Day.

It’s taken me a while to figure out what I can eat as well as how much I should eat. I also know that once I start a task, I have to stay in close proximity in order to finish it. Otherwise, the short-term memory function in my brain shuts off, and lunches are left partially complete on the counter, laundry is left in the washing machine for days, and animals don’t get fed.

So, I pulled out the chicken, bacon, and tea kettle to made my bulk food. After putting the meat in the oven, and turning on the timer, I went back to into my happy little office to working on a few writing projects.

My attention span is short and quick, like the squirrels that zip up the oak and maple trees in my yard. Writing work is interrupted by taking my Scrabble and Dice turns, checking my Twitter, Facebook and Word press accounts, reading and perhaps following random writings of bloggers, and responding to anyone that comments on a post or follows me. I get up to meander around the house, check on my blooming perennial garden outside, open a few windows, put some odd objects left on the counter or dining table away, water my plants. It’s like I have ADD with a hefty dash of Alzheimer’s sprinkled in. Quite a combination.

I  smelled the bacon instead of hearing the timer.…triggering me to get up and go back into the kitchen. The meat was done.

I decided today to actually cut up all the meat before storing it, since I always cut it up when I eat it in one of my three main kale and meat combinations anyway. Smart, right?

My green tea is brewing in the kettle. I like to keep a glass container of it in the fridge to drink so I have some variety between tea and water. My new batch for today will be ready to drink.

I also have some fresh kale that I need to chop in my Ninja. It’s a pain to do, but it definitely helps having it all ready to toss in a salad or a pan of olive oil. And I recently discovered you can kale and brussel sprouts frozen, too. Victory in the kitchen will be mine!

 

Now if I could just remember to close the cap on my water bottle next to my laptop….

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL