I cheated on my essential oils…

… with homeopathy.

I love my oils. I do. I use them all the time. I make laundry detergent, floor cleaner, household cleaner, and more with them. I love what they can do. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve seen them do.  I’ve seen them heal wounds, clear up congestion, calm an upset stomach.  But there’s a lot of misinformation about using essential oils. It’s sometimes difficult to find out the true information. I have found that even among experts simple things are still debated. Bigger companies combat with other companies saying ones better than the other therefore the rules do not apply. It’s hard to wade through all the information and know what you’re doing right healthwise.

I sometimes find myself riding a fine line. Sometimes agreeing with one side and sometimes agreeing with another side of an issue. I think essential oil use comes with a need for people to be diligent about research education and discretion.  It’s not so simple as just slapping an oil on a sore.  There are safety precautions that need to be followed, and oftentimes in the effort to “sell” an oil, these safety things get left aside.

A few days ago I found myself  abandoning my essential oils. I developed an extremely irritable rash on my face and neck. There were a variety of reasons it could have occurred but my likely culprit was an essential oil even though I didn’t directly apply the directly in that area.

When I was pregnant I started getting a rash on my throat when I’d apply lemon (yes, it was diluted) to my throat for a sore throat. lemon rashThe general response I got was that necks are sensitive.

(And the picture doesn’t do this rash justice. My face feels like sandpaper now 4-5 days later).lemon rash 2

This rash was very similar yet a little different.

So I started to dig a little deeper. I had not applied an oil topically anywhere along my neck.  I had dabbed a little whisper blend earlier that morning behind my ear. My first thought. I had been working in the yard, possibly a plant I touched? I applied sunscreen, maybe that? Yet neither of my children reacted to it and I’ve used it plenty of times before. Miserable and uncomfortable I did the allergy blend in a capsule. 2 drops of lemon, 2 drops of peppermint, and 2 lavender. The rash wasn’t getting any better. The itching becoming unbearable. Some of my oil contacts gave me suggestions for other oil remedies and stated that it’s a detox. Then I remembered for the last few days I had been drinking one 32oz water bottle with 1-2 drops of a metabolic blend.  I looked on the ingredient list and low and behold…lemon. So not only did I possibly react to the lemon in the metabolic blend but then added to it by taking 2 more drops of lemon.  The only thing that would resolve the itching was my unda cream (homeopathy) and coconut oil. My husband’s allergy pill didn’t even take away the itch.

Why do I share this?

In my search to determine whether or not it was an oil that I had used that caused the reaction, I stumbled across some startling information. Essential oils can cause reactions.  And they are not always detoxing! It’s simple any substance put into or on your body is going to potentially cause a reaction.  Nothing in this world is completely non-reactive for every single human being. Well I guess maybe water…

Just because it’s natural does not mean it is safe for everyone. 

However, even with a possibility of reacting, I would choose something that is natural that has a chance of reacting over synthetic toxins anyway!  I just hope to do it as safe as possible to avoid a possible reaction.

So many people have reactions to simple mundane things that others do not. It cannot be eliminated the an essential oil could be the same. Or that your body is going to remain the same for your entire life. Your hormones shift. Your diet changes. Your exercise changes. The toxins present in your environment change.  I stumbled across multiple accounts online of changes to people’s response to simple things like aloe vera (being fine with it for 30+ years and then one day breaking out into hives and not being able to use it again).

How do I use essential oils safely?

1. Dilute dilute dilute.

I cannot express or stress diluting enough.  I think this is KEY! So many reactions can be eliminated by diluting. Did you know that one drop of peppermint oil is equal to 28 cups of peppermint tea? Essential oils are powerful. People use them because of these powerful properties. But these powerful properties need to be respected. Dilute your oils. Not only does it save your money but it saves the adverse reactions to potentially strong or reactive oils (reactive to be used loosely cause all oils have the power to be reactive).

dilution

(Diluting like this could save a ton of money!)

2. Change up your oil routine

Using the same oil day in and day out can set your body up for becoming sensitive to that oil. In my particular situation that’s exactly what I think happened. When I was pregnant I was sick frequently. Lemon oil was my oil of choice for helping combat my sicknesses. It was one of the oils I felt was safest to use during pregnancy. Some of the other immune boosting oils I didn’t feel safe using. So I used lots of lemon. And then I started reacting. (That goodness I hadn’t overused lavender!! It’s my favorite). Explore more oils.  If you always turn to lemon for congestion, take a look at lavender, digestion blend, lime, respiratory blend, eucalyptus, peppermint, juniper berry, cypress, melaleuca, cedarwood, ginger, rosemary, fennel, etc. If you always use lavender for sleep, try calming blend, vetiver, Roman Chamomile, or marjoram.  You might be surprise at what success you have with an unsuspecting oil. I love ordering oils with my Loyalty Rewards Program because I’ll often trade in my points for oils I wouldn’t normally want to buy.  After I get them, I oftentimes wonder why I’d never ordered it before! Some of my favorite oils have been ones I get for free with points and later end up ordering all the time!

3. Know your oils

Essential oils can be complex. Know an oil before you use it.  Are there precautions you need to take? Are there people with certain conditions that should not use the oil? Does it cause photosensitivity? Are these oils pure or do they contain impurities (the FDA does not regulate essential oils and the minimum amount of essential oil that needs to be in a bottle to receive the “100% pure” label is only 3% essential oil!)? What country are these oils sourced from?  Please do not just take the advice of someone else, unless you trust that person completely. Do your own research.  There are plenty of books, websites, and other resources available to help make sure you are using essential oils safely.  I encourage you to continue to exploring ways to replace things in your homes that may be toxic or synthetic with essential oils (cleaners, laundry detergents, air fresheners, etc).  I feel this is by far a safer choice!  When it comes to using on your body, be more diligent about your research.Each day I learn something new and love that I can continue to learn about them and help others learn about them!

I will still use my oils and will continue to recommend them to others but I now have a better understanding of their power.  They have gained a little more of my respect.  Also, I do believe that I may be able to restore some bit of homeostasis in my body to hopefully not react to the lemon.  It is like food sensitivities, which change over time and can be healed if treated and cared for properly.  I’m just not sure what that will look like for now other than avoiding lemon.

I am dedicated to recommending oils in the safest way possible.  Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions! If I don’t know, I’ll try to find out for you.

Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

This post is kind of mortifying to me! I’m literally going to show you pictures of my toilet. It makes me cringe. It’s DISGUSTING! I think part of it is with the California drought we aren’t flushing as often, part of it is that we have hard water, and from some research I think some may be rust deposits. Oh, and I guess I should probably clean it a little more frequently.

But this is it! Disgusting!

toilet (1 of 3)

From my research, I saw lots of variations of sort of the same recipe for toilet cleaning. This is what I used

  1. I added 1 cup of baking soda and about 3-5 drops of purification blend essential oil.
  2. I let it soak for approximately 30 minutes and then added 1 cup of vinegar.
  3. I waited roughly 30 minutes again and then used my toilet bowl cleaner.toilet (2 of 3)
  4. It came out cleaner but not like I wanted. So I added all the ingredients again and let it sit for a few hours.
  5. Then scrubbed it a little harder.

This was my final result. Not quite as clean as I would like but WAY better. I’ll probably do this a little more often to keep it cleaner and less difficult to scrub!

toilet (3 of 3)

How to Dilute Oils—And Save Some Money

Every oil user should know how to dilute. There’s some specifics and some fluidity and flexibility with diluting.

  • Some oils require dilution to be used safely All oils should be diluted. (Please see my recent post about sensitivity development.)
  • Some people need oils to be diluted for safety or sensitivity
  • Using oils is all about frequency, not quantity. It saves you money and is more effective if you dilute and apply more frequently.

What do I dilute with?

A carrier oil is the term most people use in regards to using an oil to dilute an essential oil. Good options are Fractionated Coconut Oil (for constant liquid) or Coconut Oil (solidifies in cooler temperatures). Almond oil, grapeseed oil, and avocado oil are also good.

When do I dilute? ALWAYS!-But some oils require higher dilution

Type of Oil “Hot”

Particular oils are “hot” or powerful.  Some people are more sensitive too. Citrus oils can sometimes cause sensitivity and may benefit from dilution. Oregano, clove, cinnamon, thyme, etc are all hot oils and benefit from dilution. Peppermint, lemongrass, and immunity blend can also benefit from increased dilution on some people.

Skin Test

Every person is different and your response to oils will be different then others. It’s best to trial a small amount of oil in a small part of your body before mixing it into a full body rub and applying!

Children

It’s always recommended to dilute when applying to children. With young babies, you will use a heavier dilution rate than with older children. Typically with children a 1 drop of EO to 1 tbs of carrier oil is sufficient, but it also makes a difference the age of your child and the oil you are using. This dilution would be sufficient for lavender but may need more dilution, even up to 1 drop per 2 tablespoon of carrier oil with oils like clove, cinnamon, or oregano may not be sufficient.

Reaction

There have been times when I’ve had a reaction to an oil. Applying a carrier oil on that site will then help dilute the oil and reduce the reaction. Next time, try diluting heavier or apply only to the bottom of your feet. Also, watch out for a sensitivity to an oil. Discontinue use of an oil if you continue to have reactions even with higher dilutions.  Attempt to bring your body into more homeostasis with rest from that oil and immune boosting strategies such as whole and raw foods and probiotics.

Can I pre-Dilute?

This has been my latest love when it comes to oils! I’ve mixed up commonly used oils in our house in roller bottles.  I don’t have to figure out how much oil to carrier oil needs to be used when my daughter is crying with a tummy ache. I just grab the roller bottle and rub it across her belly, knowing I’ve already done the dilution and thought ahead of time. These roller bottles are easy to find on amazon.com or aromatools.com. I’ve been using clear ones but with more reading, I just ordered a set of blue ones to help maintain the oils. You can also order spray caps that screw onto old essential oil bottles so you can dilute and spray on as needed.

You can check out this website for more information regarding diluting. Please take note that each website has a different “right way” so it is best to make a decision that is appropriate for you!

dilution

Lavender Lemon Drop

lavender lemon drop (4 of 4)Years ago I had a lavender martini at a restaurant and it was delightful! I’ve always wanted to recreate it but haven’t ever had any easy way to make it (or the motivation to give it a try).  But since then, I’ve discovered essential oils.  Thus, I present to you my lavender lemon drop.lavender lemon drop (3 of 4)

Ingredients for Lemon Drop

  • 1/2 a lemon juiced
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 1 tbs Lavender simple syrup

Add all ingredients into shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain liquid into glass rimmed with sugar.

lavender lemon drop (1 of 4) lavender lemon drop (2 of 4)

Ingredients for Lavender Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2-5 drops of Lavender essential oil(be sure that you use essential oils rate for ingestion)

Heat water and sugar till sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.  Add essential oils. Cool completely before adding to lemon drop.

 

Time to enjoy! I so wish I had lavender in my yard to add a sprig to my drink. It’s one of my favorite plants ever! Time to add to the shopping list!

You could try adding lemon essential oil too.

Sensory Alert!: Rice Bin

Alright, I have work on the brain! But my work is fun! I love being an OT. Today my daughter and I participated in her homeschool preschool program. We’ve been on sort of a hiatus because of other stuff going on but we decided to do a little today. We read about Joseph in the bible and his coat of many colors. We talked about how his family came to him for food. This is what led us to playing with rice!

rice

It’s an easy activity. It can oftentimes be a little messy so I try to do it outside but today we just let the mess happen! It’s great that you can teach your kids that it’s okay to explore and let life (and mess) happen and that in the end, you can clean it up again! Isn’t it true? There always seems to be redemption in the end, especially when God is involved (or should I say, invited to be involved!).

We played with the rice for a little while and then we upped the activity by adding food coloring to the rice and making a rainbow of colors (playing off of Joseph’s coat of many colors). It was easy. Just a few drops of food coloring and then stirred it in with the rice. (A word of caution: many kids do not respond well to food colors and additives within their food. While they typically won’t be consuming the rice, it is something to be aware of. In an ideal world, if this had been a planned activity, I would have sought out more natural forms of food coloring.)

rice2 rice3

From the OT in me, here is why I love this activity:

  • Tactile-The number one thing about this activity is the tactile exploration. Kids can run their fingers through it, let it drip on their hands, bury their hands, etc. It provides a vast array of sensations. It’s great for kids that avoid sensory stimuli, crave it, or none of the above! Overall, it’s great for the tactile system. Adding other objects into the bin also encourages tactile discrimination, distinguishing between 2 objects through the use of the hands.
  • Fine Motor- While this may be a less of a fine motor activity than others, the clean up is where you can really get into the fine motor. Picking up those small grains of rice is a great pincer grasp exercise.
  • Cognition/Communication- With the colors, you can have lots of conversations about the colors. With other added elements, smells, toys, other objects, there is lots of conversation topics if you are doing this activity together. What about numbers too? Count some of the rice, or objects within the rice? Possibilities are endless!
  • Self-Regulation- It can be a great activity to increase calming in your child. (Ok I have to admit I have had kids with the opposite experience–picture millions of grains of rice flying around the room!). Many kids will sit and attend to this task for a good period of time (ahh! attention to task skills!).
  • Olfactory- While we didn’t do it during this activity today, adding a few drops of essential oils to the bin can provide another sensory input. You can add scents based off their alerting vs. calming qualities (i.e. peppermint, wild orange, eucalyptus may be alerting while lavender, vanilla,or calming blends may provide more calming). The rice of itself tends to have a scent which provide a olfactory sensory component for those who may be overwhelmed by smells.
  • Visual– With the added colors, you can play games identifying colors, separating colors (ooh! that plays with the fine motor pincer too!), you name it! Have fun exploring different objects within the rice. Visually finding objects of similar colors hidden in the rice, etc. There are some great theme oriented rice bin ideas at Imagination Tree.
  • Gross Motor Coordination- My daughter stirred the food coloring into the rice, which demonstrated to be a great task for developing the coordination to stir, without stirring too fast so that all the rice flew out. She was also using her cars to race up a ramp and dive into the buckets too. All great upper body coordination tasks.

Summer Series: Soothing Sunburns with Essential Oils

Gardening and planting my summer garden is one of my favorite things to do! I just love it! When we finally got our fence done, I feverishly worked on getting my garden boxes done and planted.  It was a cloudy day, my baby was sleeping, and my toddler was helping.  It didn’t even occur to me to put on sunscreen.  I didn’t even realize how burnt I had become until I went to get in the shower.  That’s when I took this picture.
sunburnFortunately, it didn’t hurt too bad but as soon as I got out of the shower, I went to the oils! There are a couple different remedies and options.

Sunburn Soothing Gel

(this is the one I used, and then switched out peppermint for frankincense once it cooled a little)

  • 1 tsp of aloe vera
  • 2-3 drops of lavender oil
  • 1-2 drops of peppermint oil

Sunburn Spray #1

  • 16oz. glass spray bottle
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon Aloe Vera Juice
  • 1/4 cup Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E
  • 8 drops lavender oil
  • 8 drops melaleuca oil
  • 8 drops Roman Chamomile oil

Sunburn Spray #2

  • 20 drops of Lavender
  • 10-20 drops of Pepeprmint
  • 2 ounce spray bottle
  • Fill the remainder with either water or fractionated coconut oil.

(Once the initial sting is worn away, you can trade the peppermint oil for frankincense oil)

  • 1 tsp of aloe vera
  • 2-3 drops of lavender oil
  • 1-2 drops of frankincense oil

 

Summer Series: Removing a Splinter

Walking around barefoot, relaxing on the sand, basking in the sunlight…only a few of the wonderful things that summer brings. But in those blissful months, there can be a few deterrents.  My first…a Splinter. Right in the middle of my foot! Right where my flip flop strap hit.  It made walking in sandals uncomfortable.  Who can have that during summer?

This little bugger was big and completely lodged under skin.  It wasn’t deep and I probably could have fished it out by slicing the top few layers of skin and digging it out.  But I had read some information about using baking soda and lavender oil to get it to come out.  I gave it a try.

I mixed a few drops of lavender oil with about 1/2 tsp of baking soda and a few drips of water.  I mixed it into a thick paste and applied to my splinter and covered with a bandaid.  I kept it on over night.

The next morning, when I went to remove the splinter, it didn’t look like much had happened.  Honestly, I was pretty bummed that it didn’t work.  Anticipating beginning to dig it out, I slid the tweezers along the edge of the splinter from the end without the opening, towards the opening.  To my surprise, the thing literally slid right out! I wish I had it on camera!  So, there you have it! It works!  I’ve heard it works with just lavender oil itself, as well but figured the both together made it most effective.

Splinter Removal Recipe

  • 2-3 drops of lavender oil
  • ~1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
  • Few drops of water
  • Bandaid

splinter bakingsodasplinter