“Like the magnolia tree, She bends with the wind, Trials and tribulation may weather her, Yet, after the storm her beauty blooms, See her standing there, like steel, With her roots forever buried, Deep in her Southern soil.”
So why am I willing to set our Southern style of eating on hold for a while and pursue this raw foods thing in the first place? Wouldn’t anybody in their right mind be content to eat fried bacon, fried eggs, and gravy every single morning from now to eternity?
Actually, yes, I am “in my right mind”…I guess, or at least hope…but my husband was recently diagnosed as having diabetes…and we have got to eat healthier than before…than the way we were brought up…now that we have crossed that bridge that most Southern men find themselves crossing at some point in their lives…after years of eating like a true Southerner…
And the “Raw Foods” diet seems like a good place to start eating healthier…
In fact, there are many reasons to consider eating a Raw Foods diet, such as…
1. Chronic Disease/Conditions…A raw foods diet can help reduce your risk of getting certain chronic diseases and conditions—including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, gallstones or gallbladder disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
2. Digestion...Cooked foods are usually harder to digest than raw foods, and can be less “frustrating” to your stomach and digestive tract…(more on this later).
3. Energy Level.…Eating a diet like this can increase your\ energy levels, and being a fifty year old chasing a “resident four year old” 24/7, Lord knows that I personally need that.
4. Longevity...Increasing your intake of raw fruits and vegetables could lead to a longer life
5. Osteoporosis...Raw foods have been proven to be great for preventing and treating osteoporosis, joint pain, muscle aches and pains, and headaches.
6. Weight...Eating fewer processed foods and consuming fewer sugary drinks is always a good idea and can result in losing weight without supposedly even trying. Raw foods contain plenty of fiber, and fiber helps curb cravings and keeps you feeling full longer so that you end up eating less overall
Nutritional Value...Switching to a diet that focuses less on “lower quality foods”—such as dairy, tofu, eggs, fish, and meat…and focuses more on “higher quality foods” such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds…has important nutritional benefits. Eating this way, instead of settling for the typical American diet, will mean that you will be getting less sodium, added sugars, fats, carbohydrates, processed and pasteurized foods, preservatives, and unhealthy chemical additives…while at the same time getting more antioxidants, magnesium, minerals, vitamins, natural enzymes, phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients that most Americans are deficient in.
And perhaps best of all…A “raw foods” might even make us smarter and able to remember stuff. Studies have shown that chewing stimulates those parts of the brain responsible for learning and memory, puts you in a better mood, and improves both your alertness, as well as both your short-term and long-term attention spans….and chewing raw foods simply takes more effort than chewing cooked foods.
We are all familiar with chamomile tea, having been read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, written by Beatrix Potter in 1902, and hearing how chamomile tea was given to Peter after being chased by Mr McGregor.
But chamomile tea has been around since the Indian days, at least.
And it seemed like the Indians enjoyed their chamomile tea. The Tzeltal Mayan Indians in the highlands of southern Mexico brew chamomile tea with an orange and a lime leaf to “lift the mood.” Aleuts brewed chamomile tea to alleviate gas. Drinking the tea was a Cherokee trick for “regularity.”
Today chamomile tea remains one of the most popular varieties of tea in the market. In fact more than one million cups of chamomile tea are consumed per day.
But not only has chamomile used for nearly 5,000 years for chamomile tea. Throughout the centuries, there have been many other uses also, including…
Bath Soaks…Lavender Chamomile Bath Soak…Combine 1C Epsom Salt, the contents of 2 chamomile tea bags in a blender. Pulverize into a fine powder. Add 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil and 5 drops Roman Chamomile Essential Oil.
Place soy wax chips in a heatproof glass measuring cup. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until completely melted.
Attach a wooden candle wick to its metal tab. Dip the tab in melted wax. Center at bottom of a glass jar.
Heat 1Tbsp cooking oil on a stovetop. Steep two chamomile tea bags and 10 drops lavender essential oil until the oil is scented.
Remove the tea-infused oil from the heat.
Combine tea-infused and oil and the melted wax together.
Slowly pour the mixture into your glass jar. Let the wax cool and solidify. Trim the wood wick.
Compresses..Steep a chamomile tea bag in boiling water, as if you were going to drink it. Pour tea into a bowl. Let tea cool completely. Add a few ice cubes. Soak a muslin cloth in the cool tea and squeeze out. Place on eyes or sore area and leave for at least ten minutes.
Hand Rinse…Chamomile has been used as a hand rinse for gamblers needing good luck, because of its supposed magical ability to attract money…Steep a chamomile teabag as if you were making yourself a cup of tea. Set aside 1/4C of the tea to cool. Combine ¼C liquid castile soap, ¾tsp olive oil, 8 drops chamomile essential oil, and several drops of Vitamin E oil. Add tea when completely cooled. Mix ingredients well. Pour into a labeled pump bottle.
Liqueur...Chamomile has also been used as a flavoring agent for liqueurs such as Benedictine and vermouth…so why not tequila?!
Measure out 1C reposado tequila. Add two chamomile tea bags. Let steep thirty minutes. Place this mixture in the fridge for later.
Combine 1/2C honey, 2tsp dried lavender, and 1/2C water in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm, stirring once or twice, until the honey melts to make a simple syrup.
Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice.
Shake 2oz of the tequila mixture, 3/4oz of the simple syrup, 3/4oz freshly squeezed lime juice, and a dash of bitters in a cocktail shaker.
Combine 1/4C witch hazel, 1/4C aloe vera juice, 1/8C distilled water. Add two drops of chamomile essential oil and two drops of mint essential oil. Shake well. After thirty minutes, set the mixture in the fridge.
To use, combine 2Tbsp mixture with 1/4C warm water.
Perfume…Perfume has been made from the pulverized dry flowers.
Combine 6 drops lavender essential oil, 10 drops chamomile essential oil, 1Tbsp carrier oil, and 3Tbsp vodka. Shake well. Place in a dark bottle. Let mixture remain undisturbed for two days.
After two days, add 2C distilled water. Let mixture stand for at least three weeks in a cool, dark place.
After this time, filter the mixture. Store it in a glass bottle that has a stopper.
As I sit here this morning, writing this…I am enjoying my first cup of coffee and all seems right with the world…until all chaos and the “resident four year old” also wakes up and the day eventually drags on and on until I am barely able to drag myself back into bed and begin the entire cycle all over again tomorrow.
Sounds like the life of each and every single one of us, right?
And that’s on those mornings when we have had a good night’s sleep…
We have enjoyed that deep, long periods of eight to nine hours of healthy, restorative sleep that is so important for recharging the body and mind, releasing important hormones, repairing cells and muscles, slowing down the aging process, strengthening the immune system, and doing so many more things that are important for the health of the mind and body.
What an awesome feeling to wake up ready to set our feet on the floor and tackle the world.
Wish I could say that about every single morning…
But truth is, like the one-in-three individuals, or seventy million Americans, who will also be heading out the door late to work and driving way over the speed limit in order to get to work on time this morning, I rarely get such rejuvenating and reparative sleep anymore because like, so many of us, I suffer with mild to severe insomnia…an insomnia that has most likely become such as epidemic in today’s fast-paced, technology-saturated world…a lifestyle that seems to be making it difficult for any of us to enjoy a “good night’s rest” anymore.
So what can we do about this lack of sleep?
So far in this “Now What” section, we have looked at using breathing techniques and essential oils to help ourselves catch up on sleep.
Another option, but an option that so many people seem to abuse these days, would be “sleeping pills.”
Yeah, I know…this is supposed to be a blog about my learning to live a healthier and more “politically correct” lifestyle, so I’d be the last one to pop an over-the-counter pill hoping to finally get some sleep…
In fact, both over-the-counter and prescription sleep meds are probably not even worth checking into, for several reasons. These include…
They stop working quite quickly.
They can cause even sleepless nights, than preventing sleepless night after using them for a time.
They prevent us from feeling “awake, alert, and all full of energy”—instead of actually making us sleepy.
They will quite negatively impact our energy levels the day after we take it.
They may create side effects, such as drowsiness, headaches, nasal congestion, memory loss, muscle aches, double vision, diarrhea, and swollen lymph nodes.
They are also highly addictive.
They can be addicting.
They can cause you to “build up a tolerance” for them after taking them for so long, meaning that you now have to take even a higher dosage to get the same benefits that you were getting at first.
They can actually make you sleep problems worse, instead of better.
However, there are some safer-but still-effective, science-backed proven sleep supplements that can offer a “natural” way to help you get to sleep faster, sleep deeper during the night…and get the rest you need to stop this endless cycle of exhaustion. Supplements such as…
1. 5-HTP…5-HTP is an amino acid that produces and stockpiles the serotonin we naturally lose as we age by actually converting into serotonin in the brain itself and then helping to manufacture melatonin, the “feel good” hormone. This amino acid can be found profoundly important for not only sleep and mood, but also learning, sexual behavior, and hormone regulation…and is commonly used to treat depression and insomnia that’s secondary to mood disorders and increase REM sleep. A good option to help you get this amino acid would be Dr. Lipman’s Be Well Sleep Bundle.
2. Flower Essences…Flower essences, such as Bach Rescue Sleep Remedy, can be a good option for those “insomniacs” who are not actually struggling with a serious sleep problem, but do occasionally need some help traveling to the Land of Nod off. Flower essences are made by infusing spring water with various flowers. The most common flowers used to make these flower essence remedies are cherry plum, impatiens, and white chestnut. Flower essences work by helping to quiet racing thoughts, ease a restless mind, and calm frazzled nerves. These essences are particularly great for using to help children fall asleep…(well in that case, I’m going all out and ordering every single bottle and container of flower essences available on Amazon right now(?!))…
3. GABA…GABA (gamma butyric acid)is a naturally-occurring acidproduced in the brain that acts to help calm down the excitatory neurotransmitters, also known as our “fight or flight mechanisms,” and to wake up our parasympathetic nervous system, our “rest and digest” system.
GABA calms and relaxes both the body and muscles so that you feel very calm, drowsy and ready for a good, long night of sleep—both in terms of quantity and quality…and then helps you to get the truly restorative sleep that you need in order to wake up feeling less groggy in the mornings.
4. Holy Basil…Holy basil has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.
Holy basil, available in forms such as New Chapter’s Holy Basil Force, works by moderating the levels of cortisol, a naturally-occurring chemical that normally spikes between 6am and 8am to wake us up.
But often when we are under a lot of stress or going through something emotional, our cortisol levels can get out of whack and leave us consistently waking up at 3am or 4am instead…and who in their right mind wants to wake up that early…except for my spouse when he’s going fishing perhaps…
5. L-theanine...L-theanine, the ingredient that makes green tea such a great antioxidant and “superfood,” also has a calming effect on the brain because it impacts levels of the amino acids affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters.
7. Melatonin…Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland that keeps us alert during the day and helps us fall asleep at night.
Melatonin is a very popular sleep aid, although melatonin was actually formulated not to treat general insomnia, but to reset the body’s circadian rhythm, or “internal clock,” when it is disrupted because of jet lag, unusual work schedules, parenting young children who have the guts to keep you waking up through the night, and days like today when the switch to/from Daylights Savings Time totally whacks your system and makes you late for church.
Many experts claim that liquid or quick-dissolving melatonin, such as Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve,work best because these allow the hormone to be absorbed directly into the body.
8. Skullcap…Skullcap is a herb that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. This safe, mild herbal sedative excels in relieving anxiety and insomnia, and boosting energy and cognition. A good supplement containing skullcap would be Flora Sleep Essence.
9. Valerian Root…Valerian root, such as Nature’s Way Valerian Root, is a mild sedative that can be very helpful in helping to calm the nervous system by lowering the anxiety response and promoting relaxation and sleep without causing a major hangover or histamine coma or fog.
10. Vitamin Supplement...Perhaps the cure for your insomnia and/or sleepless nights could be as simple as taking a multivitamin supplement. After all, Vitamin B helps tryptophan in your body convert to niacin and serotonin, which regulate sleep and increase REM, and Vitamin D can remedy daytime drowsiness while improving overall well-being.
This book sparked my interest because I am just now starting to use essential oils in my home now that I have started this journey to a happier and healthier lifestyle.
The title, Essential Glow, is appropriate for the book because the book was written by the same people who host the popular Hello Glow website—the ultimate source for daily inspiration, recipes, projects, and tips for living a healthy, mindful life and learning more about natural beauty and wellness.
The author of the book is Stephanie Gerber, a Nashville-based natural living blogger, who has also written…Stephanie Gerber says that she believes that “the journey to well-being can and should be, simple and beautiful, natural and stylish.”
The book is filled with over two hundred simple recipes and tutorials for making organic skincare and haircare-products, household cleaners, and even cosmetics at home…all using essential oils…including recipes for laundry softeners, all purpose cleaners, steam tablets, masks, bath oils, and invigorating scrubs.
Essential Oils: The Complete Guide: Essential Oils for Beginners, Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Recipes is a guide book about essential oils written to “introduce you to the world of essential oils and aromatherapy.”
The book was written primarily for beginners who have absolutely no prior knowledge about using essential oils and carrier oils.to show how to use them properly…
This book sparked my interest because so many of the natural body care and skincare products that I will be making and sharing in the near future contain them.
The title, Essential Oils: The Complete Guide: Essential Oils for Beginners, Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Recipes, is appropriate for the book because the book explains everything in simple, easy to understand steps..
The purpose of the book–showing how to use essential oils properly-is carried out throughout the book as evident by the fact that the book tells the reader how to store your essential oils and carrier oils, and the fact that It is important to know what you are doing when you are using essential oils because some essential oils can do things such as increase UV light/sunlight sensitivity and affect your hormones.
According to the introduction, this book promises to teach you a natural treatment that takes care of both your mental and physical health at the same time…how to cure your common cold without the use of drugand how to start the day exploding with motivation and energy, whilst finishing the day calm, content and stress-free.all through the proper application of essential oils.
The author of the book is Amy Joyson.
The main idea of the book is that both your health and vitality can be improved through the use of essential oils.
My favorite part of the book was definitely the over 100 recipes for natural body and skincare products, as well as home cleaning products because this is something that I am focusing on right now in both my life and my blog…recipes to enhance your calm or self-esteem and confidence, to uplift your mood, to support your detox and many, many more.
Other topics discussed include what aromatherapy is and how you can use aromatherapy at home for stress relief and weight loss, what carrier oils are and how to use them, and what exactly essential oils are and how they work in the body.
I highly recommend this book, and feel that you will also be happy that you bought it.
When I first heard of bergamot essential oil and found out that it was a citrus fruit, my initial reaction was, “Gee, I’ve never heard of that before. Let’s go to Sprouts and go buy some bergamot oranges.”
But nestled among all the other citrus fruits, there was no sign of the bergamot orange.
Perhaps because the bergamot orange itself is inedible? Kinda like the penguin who can’t fly in the bird world, right?!
Anyway, bergamot essential oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus fruit that is the size of an orange and has a taste that is much sweeter than your typical lemon.
The bergamot orange is the most delicate of the citrus plants, requiring the special climate and soil found mainly in the Mediterranean. For this reason, most of the oranges used to make bergamot essential oil will have been harvested from trees located in the Ionian Sea coastal areas of the province of Reggio di Calabria in the southern part of Italy. Considering that the production of three ounces of bergamot oil requires one hundred bergamot oranges, there must be too many trees there to count(?!)…
If you’re like me, you’ve been enjoying the benefits and taste of bergamot for years without even realizing it. This is because an essence from the skin of the bergamot orange is extracted and used to give Earl Grey tea its distinctively citrus aroma and flavor.
And even though the bergamot orange is supposedly inedible, the bergamot orange is still used in Italian cooking to make Turkish delight and marmalade such as this recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders.
As far as essential oils are concerned, bergamot has a very strong, very sweet citrus-based scent with a hint of florals and a strange spiciness. It is considered to be uplifting and relaxing, and blends particularly well with sandalwood, jasmine, and rosemary.
As far as the best uses for bergamot essential uses, here are a few of the best reasons to open the bottle…(no, not that bottle of whiskey or gin…the bottle of essential oil that you only spent how much for(?!))…
1. Aches and Pains...Bergamot essential oil stimulates the secretion of certain hormones which lessen the sensitivity of nerves to pain and help reduce the feeling of pain in the body. This makes bergamot essential oil an excellent choice for using topically when you are seeking quick relief from muscle cramps and headaches.
2. Anxiety…Bergamot stimulates the activity of certain hormones in the body, like dopamine and serotonin, and improves blood circulation. This makes bergamot essential oil a good choice when you are looking for an essential oil that will help the most in relieving stress and anxiety, and soothing frazzled nerves…and helping to treat stress-associated ailments such as high blood pressure, insomnia, and depression.
3. Cardiovascular Disease…The iconic coast of Italy in the Calabria region, where the bergamot orange is grown, is an area where people have experienced low incidents of cardiovascular diseases for generations. The soil in the region supposedly has some secret “fountain on youth” potion that results in the fruits and vegetables having been grown there, such as the bergamot orange, positively affecting your cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL and blood glucose level.
4. Deodorants…The refreshing aroma and natural cleansing/disinfectant properties of bergamot oil make this an excellent choice whenever you are considering which essential oil to be used in deodorant or household cleaners and air fresheners.
5. Digestive System…According to traditional Chinese medicine, bergamot essential oil is the best treatment for keeping your your digestive system work properly. So if you’re needing anything pertaining to your digestive system and pooping mechanisms—indigestion, gas, constipation—this is probably the essential oil of choice.
6. Respiratory…Bergamot essential oil is one of the best essential oils for anyone suffering from respiratory problems or asthma…
Honestly, this is the one essential oil that I made a special trip to Whole Foods to buy as soon as we completed last month’s journey to Cook’s Children’s Hospital after the “resident four year old” had an asthma attack.
Much rather breathe in bergamot and cough up that phlegm and mucus, than breathe in a deep sigh of relief when you finally leave the pediatric ward and have to cough up enough to pay for an ambulance ride and two night vacation with room service.
Might be using bergamot in my diffuser for a long, long while now…
7. Skincare…Bergamot is used extensively in such cosmetic and skincare products as creams, lotions, shampoos, soaps, cleansers, and perfume. In fact, about one-third of all men’s and about half of women’s perfumes contain bergamot essential oil.
One main reason that bergamot is used in these products is its ability to help more evenly distribute pigments and melanin when used to help heal marks on the skin, such as wounds and scars and acne. Using bergamot topically to treat such marks allows these marks to gradually fade away into a more even, attractive skin tone instead of leaving noticeable scars on the affected areas for many years.
Also, bergamot acts as an antiseptic agent that allows for fast healing of not only wounds as previously mentioned, but also helps heal cracked heels, ulcers, and eczema.
Bergamot Rollerball Stress Mess…Combine 3 drops grapefruit essential oil, 2 drops frankincense essential oil, and 2 drops bergamot essential oil in a dark rollerball bottle. Fill remainder of bottle with a light carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. Apply to pulse points as needed. Store in a cool, dark place.
When I first started using essential oils, I felt overwhelmed by the selections and how little I knew. Which one should I choose, and why? Almost like being a kid in a candy store.
But as I have started reading and studying more about living a healthier lifestyle and beginning new habits, I have also learned more about which essential oils work best for what the problem is.
For example, these are the best essential oils for helping to cure insomnia that are out there…but instead of going into depth about each one of these in this post, I have decided to choose one oil per month, and detail more and more reasons and ways to use that particular essential oil that particular month…
For example, the Essential Oil of the Month is bergamot (see next post…oh wait, you can’t…because at this point I haven’t finished writing it)…
Anyway, here are the best options as far as essential oils to help you sleep…
1. Bergamot…Bergamot essential oil is a cold-pressed essential oil that is produced by cells inside the rind and peel of a bergamot orange, a citrus fruit that has been used as a fragrance ingredient since around the year 1714. It takes about one hundred bergamot oranges to yield three ounces of bergamot oil.
Bergamot essential oil smells like a sweet light orange peel oil with a floral note and has a bright, yet calming and relaxing, effect. Bergamot essential oil is used to give Earl Grey tea its flavor, to calm anxious feelings, and to reduce both the heart rate and blood pressure.
2. Cedarwood…Cedarwood essential oil is an essential oil that is produced from the foliage of various types of pine and cypress trees. The oil has an earthy, woodsy smell and supports healthy function of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin, the body’s natural sleepy hormone.
3. Frankincense…Frankincense essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil obtained from the tree resin of four main species of trees from the Boswellia genus. Frankincense essential oil has an earthy, balsamic fragrance and is perfect for balancing emotions, supporting healthy sleep, calming your mind and supporting your body’s natural response to healing.
4. Juniper Berry…Juniper Berry essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil that has a calming, grounding effect and an earthy, woodsy smell. The oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of about fifty different species of junipers plant, a member of the cypress family that can grow anywhere within the Northern Hemisphere, all the way from the Arctic down towards tropical Africa, Pakistan, and the mountains of Central America. Most of the juniper berry essential oil that we use here in America has been harvested from juniper plants found in middle Tennessee, northern Alabama, and southern Kentucky.
5. Lavender…Lavender essential oil is a steam-distilled essential oil that is obtained from the flower spikes of certain species of the lavender plant, a member of the mint family. Lavender essential oil has a relaxing and calming effect…and is used to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, help reduce feelings of tension, and calm emotions.
Most of us are already familiar with the lavender plant because the plant has been used as ornamental plants in garden and landscaping, as a culinary herb, and was one of the common colors in that magical 64-count box of Crayola crayons…the bo that had the sharpener on the back of the box…and that every kid in the classroom envied unless they had one themselves.
6. Marjoram…Marjoram essential oil is steam-distilled from from the flowering leaves and tops of the marjoram plant, a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub, that was referred to by the Romans as the “herb of happiness” and to the Greeks as the “joy of the mountains.”
The leaves have a unique mixture of sweet “pine” and citrus flavor. Most of us have had a marjoram spice container at least once in our spice cabinet of marjoram. If not an actual jar of marjoram by itself, perhaps a spice blend containing marjoram, such as herbes de Provence and za’atar…(I probably still have all three of these spices in the same container from back when I purchased thirty-one years ago when I first got married….let me go see)…
Anyway, marjoram essential oil is wonderful for muscles and joints, but it also excels in creating peaceful sleep and calming frazzled nerves.
7. Roman Chamomile…Roman Chamomile essential oil has a calming, soothing, and relaxing effect and is perfect for helping to get rid of restlessness and anxious feelings.
The Roman chamomile plant is a low perennial plant found in dry fields, gardens, and cultivated grounds in Europe, North America, and in Argentina…and is used for making foods, herbal teas, perfumes, and cosmetics.
8. Sandalwood...Sandalwood essential oil is a steam-distilled oil extracted from chips and billets cut from the heartwood of various species of sandalwood trees. Sandalwoods belong to the same botanical family as European mistletoe and can befound in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands. Sandalwood is the second most expensive wood in the world, after African blackwood.
Sandalwood has a distinctive rich, woodsy smell that has been highly valued for centuries as an ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics.
9. Vetiver…Vetiver essential oil is distilled from the roots of a type of grass that is widely cultivated in tropical regions such as Haiti, India, and Indonesia. Vetiver has a psychologically grounding, calming and stabilizing effect and a rich and earthy smell.
10. Ylang Ylang…Ylang ylang essential oil is extracted from the flowers of a ylang-ylang tree that is native in the rainforest habitats of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Ylang-ylang is also widely used in oriental- or floral-themed perfumes such as Chanel No. 5…and is also believed to relieve high blood pressure, to help with skin problems, and to be an aphrodisiac. In fact, in Indonesia, ylang-ylang flowers are spread on the bed of newlywed couples.
Another option for using your essential oils is topically.
There are times when deciding whether to use your oils aromatically or topically seems like perfectly good common sense.Applying oils topically simply works better for certain circumstances, such as when using them for aches, pain, sore muscles, and injuries.
Then there are other times when how to best use your oils isn’t so obvious…such as when using essential oils for such issues as sleep, anxiety and lack of energy.
But how can I be sure that I am using my essential oils the “best” way possible?
The decision between using the diffuser to use the oils aromatically or applying the oil topically basically depends on whether or not you need the effects to benefit your entire body, or just one centralized area.
If you need the benefits throughout, it is best to use the diffuser because this delivers a quick dose of “good stuff” into the bloodstream. This usually works best when dealing with emotional, neurological, and respiratory issues.
If you need the benefits to focus on one particular area, it is best to apply topically. Substances that are applied topically to the skin slowly permeate and are absorbed through the skin, eventually entering into the bloodstream.
For example, people suffering from problems sleeping benefit from using oils topically because studies have shown that the chemical components of lavender essential oil enter the bloodstream within five minutes of massaging the lavender essential oil onto the skin.
How do I use essential oils topically?
To use essential oils topically, start with only one or two drops of the essential oil. This should be all that you usually need because only a little bit of essential oil can go a very, very long way.
Sounds way too simple, right?!
Well, actually it is…and here’s why…
Before applying the essential oil to your skin, you will most likely need to dilute the essential oil with a “carrier oil.” (Examples of carrier oils that can be used to dilute essential oils include olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, and avocado oil.)
“Most likely”…gee, that tells me a whole lot, right?
There are several types of essential oils on the market today that may or may not require diluting the oil with a carrier oil first. But the instructions on the essential oil itself will be the best place to figure out if and how the oil needs to be diluted.
But a few classifications of essential oils that you might want to keep in mind are…
Neat Oils…This may depend on the essential oil itself as to whether or not you need to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil first. There is a category of oils classified as “neat” oils that do not require diluting with a carrier oil before each use. These include…
Hot Oils…Then there are other essential oils that are high in phenols and must ALWAYS be diluted with a carrier oil before being used topically. These include cassia, cinnamon, clove, oregano, lemongrass, bergamot, and thyme.
Sensitive Oils…“Sensitive” oils are those that do not require dilution before use topically, but should be diluted before use on young or sensitive skin. These include black pepper, eucalyptus, ginger, and peppermint.
Photosensitive Oils…“Photosensitive” oils contain furocoumarins, a type of extremely photosensitive compounds that may cause a rash or darkened skin if used before exposure to sunlight, sunlamps, or other sources of UV light. Such types of light should be avoided for up to twelve hours after using these oils topically. These “photosensitive” oils are typically citrus oils such as angelica, bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, orange, and tangerine.
Diluting your essential oils does not make the essential oil less effective, but actually offers many benefits that can make the essential oil work even better. These benefits include helping to “carry” the essential oil onto the skin, preventing particular oils from feeling too warm on the skin, keeping the essential oil from evaporating too quickly, increasing the surface area that your essential oil can cover at one time, enhancing absorption through dry skin, and preventing “sensitivity responses.”
Sensitivity Responses? Gee, made the skeptic in me wonder if essential oils are even worth the effort when I first read about “sensitivity responses”…
The truth is that just like almost anything else that you could possibly use on your skin, there is a chance—ever so slight—that a given essential oil could cause a reaction or “sensitivity response” for some individuals.
You can avoid such reactions by applying a small amount of essential oil to an ” inconspicuous” area and checking regularly to make sure that no reaction takes place before using it many more places also.
It is also a good idea to keep track of what oils you use, amounts used, where you apply, your thoughts and impressions on that particular oil, and any reactions that you do experience. Also try only one new essential oil at a time.
Another good idea would be to go ahead and mix your essential oil and your carrier oil together, and then store in a used or empty essential oil bottle or roller bottle so that you won’t have to dilute the oil every single time that you want to use it.
Finally, be aware of the importance of purchasing and using only quality essential oils from reputable sources. Do not assume anything about the purity, the efficacy, or the reliability of the essential oil.
Because many manufacturers have been reported as actually mixing essential oils with synthetic materials or other unknown ingredients to help stretch the oils and reduce costs, you need to be confident that you are actually getting the product that you are paying for. (no, this is not a plug for a future offer…just a fact…don’t worry)…
Essential oils should not have an expiration date. If there actually is a date on the bottle, this probably means that the oil contains additives and might not be from a good source.
Where do I apply the oil?
The soles of your feethave large pores that rapidly absorb essential oils and are not very sensitive, so this is a very good, safe place to start using essential oils topically. Simply and massage in two to four drops of your essential oil.
Other places where insomniacs and people who can’t sleep and people who are stressed out and so forth might want to try applying oils for help in dealing with stress and anxiety include across the forehead, behind the ears, the temples, the tops of your shoulders, and your wrists.
Good options of essential oils for this would be frankincense, lavender, peppermint, and cedarwood. (Just wait, my next post is about which essential oils are best for sleeplessness.)…
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.
This audiobook is a guide written for insomniacs, and other people who have trouble sleeping quite often, to show the life-changing health benefits that optimum sleep provides….and more importantly how to have this optimum sleep experience.
This book sparked my interest because as I get older, the more I’ve started to realize that how well and how much I sleep impacts your entire life…(yeah, Mom, I shoulda listened to you all those nights when I was little and you told me to turn the lights off and go to bed.)
The title of the audiobook, Healthy Sleep, is appropriate for the book because the book explains how a healthy sleep cycle can improve your immune system, mood, sense of well-being—and even your weight.
This theme is carried out throughout the book as evident by the exercises and strategies that the book provides to help manage both stress and anxiety as well as common sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea.
The authors of the audiobook are alternative medicine “guru” Andrew Weil, MD…and sleep expert Rubin R. Naiman, PhD.
—–Andrew Weil, MD, is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing-oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit. He is founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AzCIM) at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, and director of Integrative Health & Healing at Miraval Life in Balance Resort in Tucson. Dr. Weil s bestselling books include Spontaneous Happiness, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, and Spontaneous Healing, and his popular audio programs with Sounds True include The Healthy Heart Kit and Breathing: The Master Key to Self-Healing.
—–Rubin Naiman, PhD, is an internationally recognized leader in integrative sleep and dream medicine. He is director of Circadian Health Associates, an organization that provides information, goods and services in support of sleep health. Dr. Naiman is the sleep specialist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona s Center for Integrative Medicine, directed by Dr. Andrew Weil. He also serves as Director of the Sleep and Dream Advisory Board for Sleep Studio. For more than a decade, Dr. Naiman served as the sleep and dream specialist at Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, where he founded the first formal sleep center at a spa. Subsequently, he served as director of sleep programs for Miraval Resort. Dr. Naiman is the author of a number of groundbreaking works on sleep, including Healing Night, Healthy Sleep (with Andrew Weil), The Yoga of Sleep, and To Sleep ToNight, as well as a number of professional book chapters and articles. He also blogs about sleep and dreams for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.
This audiobook consists of two discs. The first disc is a discussion on why sleep is so important and why you may not be sleeping as you should. The second disc contains guided exercises, including three sessions to help you fall asleep.
Topics covered in the book include sleep stages, sleeping disorders, breathing techniques, good “sleep hygiene,” and safe supplements to overcome insomnia. The book uses a combination of creative visualization, self-compassion, and pranayama to explain insomnia and then lull you gently to sleep…
I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who has trouble sleeping…makes an excellent read about 2am when you should be sleeping instead of reading.
In addition to Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique, there are several more such exercises out there that might be worth trying also. These include…
1. Kapalbhati Breathing…In Sanskrit, kapal means “forehead” and bhati means “shining.” In addition to helping relieve stress and anxiety, benefits of doing this technique include helping to rid the lungs of carbon dioxide and fill them with fresh oxygen, keeping the digestive system and heart healthy, and improving circulation in the abdominal area.
To do this: Kneel down with your back straight and your hands resting on your knees. Breathe in through your nose, focusing all of your attention on breathing. Then contract your abdominal muscles and exhale powerfully through your mouth, using short, measured bursts.
2. Nadi Shodhana…Nadi Shodhana is another breathing technique based in the practice of yoga. It is also one of the most common forms of pranayama, or breath control. In addition to helping relieve stress and anxiety, benefits of doing this technique include achieving a sense of balance and neutrality and send signals to the brain so that the body starts relaxing. Nose breathing also conditions your breath, filtering the air and adding moisture to your breath before it enters your lungs.
To do this: Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight. Keep your eyes shut while doing this exercise. Close off the left nostril with the right ring finger. Inhale. Next close off the right nostril with the right thumb and exhale.
3. Pranayamic Breathing Techniques…Pranayamic Breathing Techniques are a third breathing technique. This technique involves exhaling for a length of time that twice as long as you inhale. In addition to helping to relieve stress and anxiety, benefits of this technique include helping to reset the body’s autonomic nervous system and synchronizing neural elements in the heart, lungs and brain,
To do this: Lie down in bed on your back. Inhale for three seconds. Exhale for six seconds. Repeat. Focusing on counting as you do this.
4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)…PMR is another breathing technique. This technique involves contracting and relaxing different muscle groups, one at a time, starting with your feet and moving up to your head. In addition to helping to relieve stress and anxiety, benefits of this technique include being able to relieve tension one area at a time as each muscle group is relaxed.
To do this: Lie on your back. Deeply inhale once through your nose. Hold your breath for three seconds as you squeeze your toes. Release your toes, while exhaling through your mouth. Next inhale and exhald while you focus on your feet. Continue breathing, flexing and releasing as you move up your body next to your calves, all the way to your head.