A Healthy Hint of Green

My health took a turn for the worse three years ago when I developed Lyme disease. As a part of my healing process, I reevaluated all the chemicals that I used in our home and on my body.  Up until that point, I knew many the products I used had chemicals in them, but I just took it for granted that they were safe.  Experience is the best teacher, as they say!

Below are some tricks that I’ve learned to use to be a little more heathy while lessening the toxins on/in my body.

Healthy Aromas

Before Lyme, I loved having candles burning in our home. I also used scented dryer sheets and fragrant laundry detergents, lotions and soaps.  Sadly, all of these things are not very healthy for the immune system due to all the man-made fragrances and chemicals in these products.

IMG_1004I now use diffusers in both the bedroom and livingroom. You can create healthy and pleasing scents with just a few drops of essential oils of your choosing. Be sure to research them; don’t just purchase any oil on the market! (Check out my post Diffusing the Confusion About Essential Oils.)   Personally, I like lavender and geranium together for sleeping.  Clove and orange or lemon and eucalyptus are great in the living room.  And both these combinations are helpful in building up your immune system.

Interestingly enough, when I lit a popular commmerical brand of candle in my home, after being ill with Lyme for many months, I had quite a different reaction than my before-Lyme lifestyle. Before Lyme, I enjoyed the heavy candle scent.  Now, candle scents are overwhelming to me, and I can honestly say that I haven’t burned those candles, or any candle, since.  I prefer essential oils because they give you a clean, light smell without the heaviness you can experience with candles. And because oils are so concentrated, you only use a few drops at a time. The oils produce a long-lasting scent, but they can also can provide health benefits, like altering moods or boosting the immune system.

During the winter months,  I have found that diffusing oils in my home has cut down on illness in my family, too.  We haven’t been hit with a stomach bug in over two years, and I’m very confident that it has to do with using essential oils.  I typically diffuse lemon eucalpytus in the living room, which is known to be a great germ killer.  When I  experienced some congestion early in my Lyme illness, I found that shaking a few drops of this same oil while taking my shower helped to diffuse the oil into the air and also made it easier to breathe.

Healthy Showering

When I started this switch, I thought about all the products that I used in the shower: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and shaving cream.   Between those four products, I was easily putting hundreds of compounds on my skin and into my system daily.  A pretty scary thought when I couldn’t even pronounce most of the ingredients!

Now, I try to purchase shampoos and conditioners  that are better for my hair and system in general.  My hair dresser has a line of hair products that are more natural than commerical products you can find in the stores, and I also have learned how to make my own soaps, without the harsh chemicals and fragrances.  Before learning how to make soap, I did use Dr. Bronner’s Castile soaps and Shea Moisture products, which I found to be healthier in some respects.   But now that I make my own soap, I haven’t purchased bar soap for my family in three years!  I can use whatever essential oils that I like to scent my own soaps, and since I know what is in them, I know what is going on/in my skin. IMG_1005

Another decision I made was that my body washing product would double as my shaving product, thus cutting down on the amount of products I’d need to use.  And I found that my homemade soaps work just as well as a shaving cream because they lather well–and smell nice, too!

Heathly Cleaners

If you really are into organic cleaning, you can learn how to make your own cleaners with essential oils.  Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition, has wonderful information about how to use essential oils for many uses, including home cleaners.IMG_1003

If you’re not into the Ma Kettle mode yet, you can research and purchase more ‘green’ products like Mrs. Meyer’s. I have used the hand soaps,  all-purpose cleaners and tile and tub cleaner from time to time.  I love the scents like Basil and Honeysuckle. The company also has seasonal scents like Peppermint and Orange and Clove.  It was because of the Orange and Clove hand soap that I then made my own mix of the same essential oils to diffuse in my home!

I purchased Woolsie’s dryer balls, and I won’t ever use a dryer sheet again.  The dryer balls work just as well, and because I do love smells, I just add a few drops of an essential oil on the dryer balls to get a healthy smell in my clothing.  There are unscented dryer sheets, but I perfer the dryer balls since they last a longer time than the sheets.

For washing my clothes, I use fragrance-free detergents. My clothes are clean without harsh chemicals or perfumes.

For the dishwasher, I am still mainstream with Finish dishwasher tabs.  I tried a ‘green’ brand–I can’t remember which one–but found that they didn’t seem to clean as well. I’m still on the hunt for a product that I like, and I’m sure I’ll find one.

Healthy Personal Products

Deodorants that didn’t burn or were effective were hard to find.  Tom’s brand would burn, and Kiss My Face brand didn’t seem to work at all for me.  But then I tried a brand called Crystal Essence.  I purchased both a roll-on and stick, and both seem to work well for me.IMG_1007 I also use Tom’s toothpastes and mouthwashes.

And while I’m not a big make-up person, I do like to make myself look a little more glamourous from time to time. But it’s been challenging to find ‘green’ make up that isn’t expensive.  I love Burt’s Bees lip products, and was happy to find recently that in addition to their lip balms, some stores also carry blush, eye shadow, and mascara.

Making the Healthy Switch

I knew it would be super expensive to just toss all my soaps, cleaners, lotions, deodorants, and make-up all at once.  I also didn’t know how my body would react to certain products, or how well they would actually perform.  So, I’d purchase one or two items to test at a time.

Three years later,  I’m happy that I made the changes that I did.  Much like my health returning, going green has been a gradual process, but I’m satisified that I have started to replace the more chemical-laden products that we use for ones that are a little more green.

Have you thought about going more green?  If you have, share your story.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

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Review of 25th Edition of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

 

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Notice the post it notes…

When I was first dealing with my Lyme disease during the fall and winter of 2016, I was doing lots of research, both online, in books, and in person. With so many issues popping up daily, there was never enough information to help me find the right solution.

By spring, I had starting feeling better, after having several months of a new diet and numerous appointments with medical and holistic practitioners. I was ready to try something else to help me heal even more, and I had the opportunity to learn about essential oils at a workshop at a local organic nursery. I also spoke with a few representatives who sold them for various companies. While this newfound knowledge was very informative and helpful, my own experience with Lyme taught me that my body had become extremely sensitive to foods and compounds. I wasn’t really looking to sign up for programs and pay money for products I may or may not use or may be a source of more pain and complications for me.

In end, I decided that the best route for me to take would be to find a good book to help me learn which oils to use for what purposes. And that is when I discovered Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Aromatherapy, New World Library, 1991.

As a ‘rookie’ in the essential oil world, I loved this book. Not only was it easy to use, it was also very comprehensive in its approach of how to use the oils for what purposes. There were recipes for any type of use: cooking, cleaning, or germ fighting. In the back, there was a listing of reputable oil companies to purchase from, which for me, was great information. With my own immune system so compromised at the time, and so many companies were jumping on the EO bandwagon, this was very helpful information for me. Interestingly enough, she does list the two major essential oil companies, Young Living, and doTerra, in her first book. But due to my own knowledge of the bad blood between the two businesses, I personally boycotted those two and purchased other recommended oils at local stores in my area.

The 25th anniversary edition has recently been published, (2016) and I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from the publisher. And much like the first volume, this one also is a great edition to anyone’s library.

Ms. Worwood’s does a deeper exploration of the history of essential oils in this volume; and for me, this is a great asset to the book.   My epiphany about the health value in using essential oils came when reading this section. Our ‘advanced’ technological and medical age has overshadowed the fact that these oils have been used for thousands of years by various cultures across the globe. My own health issues combined with this knowledge about essential oils really indicated to me that the medical community needs to takes notice of ways to help people heal from aliments without the use of synthetic or manmade compounds. Imagine if more doctors used more natural ways to healing the body!  They may be out of a business, but we’d be a healthier community, for sure!

The 25th edition has great reference charts for oils as well—a dilution chart, conversion charts, a quick reference chart about oils, and also more detailed profiles on essential oils which grace the pages of this book from beginning to end.

What I love about the new book is that there is notably more information for all types of ailments at any age, from birth all the way to what she gently describes as the ‘maturing’ years.   I have family members dealing with stress, fatigue and other more serious health issues. Ms. Wormwood details explicitly how oils can be used in any number of situations. While she does specifically state that this book is not intended to heal or substitute for medical advice, I do find that as a Lyme disease warrior, there is something in here for everyone. Whether you are interested in more ‘green cleaning’, ways to use essential oils in cooking, or just want to learn something new about a very old and everlasting health practice, this is an informative and easy to reference book to have on hand.

As someone who is now at the point in my learning to start to experiment more with essential oils to improve my health further, I am happy that this book is gracing my coffee table. ( I reference it quite often—it hasn’t made it to the bookshelf yet!)

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL

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

 

 

 

 

I AM THE BIONIC WOMAN

“Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”

-Opening narration to The Six Million Dollar Man

I grew up watching this classic 70s show, along with the Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman. I loved these shows for what they represented in both a magical and scientific sense. The creators of these shows left me with an excitement for what science could possibly do for the human body in the future. The fact that these characters were human with flaws and downsides, but were also touched with either scientific or outer-worldly improvements to help improve society, was a very enthralling idea.

I worked in my garden yesterday against my own plans to sit and read. It’s my own fault: I went out to check on it, then I gazed at the azalea bush that was in need of pruning, and that was the beginning of the end. 20160718_095757In my head, I reasoned it would only take me a minute to do, and I had neglected to do it for several weeks now, so I grabbed the electric trimmer and extension cord from the garage. And, of course, that bush led to another, which led to another bush, which led to the lilac tree on the other side of the house…and before you know it, I was outside for about an hour and a half, dripping in sweat, weeding, trimming, and pruning several bushes and plants, and beginning to clean out a side garden. I also dug up some feisty day lilies that have started to grow outside of my fence and moved those little guys into that side garden.

Yes, I felt like the Bionic Woman yesterday. Until I noticed the red rash on my left arm later that evening.   I was sitting with my daughter and started to itch my arm when I noticed the familiar raised red bumps. Ugh.

I went immediately to my medicine cabinet to wash with my Burt’s Bees Poison Ivy soap. 20160718_100737Normally, after working in the garden, I would wash with the BB soap just as a precaution, but yesterday, I forgot. I had purchased the soap years ago and found that it worked better for me than the Technu soap that is highly promoted for poison ivy care. I wondered after having it for a few years if it would still be potent, but I tried it anyway, and it seemed to work.

This morning, I remembered I had read something about poison ivy treatment with essential oils. After a little digging, I found in one of my books, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood, that lavender, eucalyptus, or chamomile oils applied neat or with a cool compress also work to calm the poison ivy itch.   I had some lavender castile soap in the bathroom, so I used that today in the shower just to try that out. It seemed to calm down the itch down a bit, so that’s promising. Later on today, I’ll try adding some lavender essential oil to it and see what happens.

I’m not the Bionic Woman, but I feel pretty close!

Now…off to the garden to water those little day lilies!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL