Saturday, June 28, 2014

Head and Neck Tension & Essential Oils


We are a family that gets headaches and or migraines. My hubby was diagnosed with a weird type of migraine called basilar migraines, the symptoms often resemble that of a stroke and have hospitalized him in the past. I get your regular run of the mill headaches periodically as well as headaches related to my fibromyalgia that starts in my occipatal nerve and radiate from there. Lately as well Jacob once in awhile gets a regular headache,  I think probably related to his allergies.  Needless to say when I started using essential oils, something to relieve head and neck tension was top of my list.

DO NOT use this in place of medical advice! I am just expressing what works for my family. If you are having a medical problem, please go see a doctor.

Because this is for therapeutic purposes I try to use top of the line essential oil. I recommend doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs. All of the major companies have blends that are supposed to help relieve head and neck tension. They are all good and I have used some of them. However to be perfectly honest, going back to the basics is what works the most often for us. If one of us is having a problem I will put the diffuser in whatever room we are in and in the diffuser I put 3 drops of Peppermint, 3 drops of Lavender, and 3 drops of Roman Chamomile. Just this simple blend does wonders. Another thing we do is at the first hint of tension we put peppermint or a blend of the previous 3 (diluted of course) on our temples and possibly back of neck depending on where it is coming from (I often put it on my right occipatal nerve, and for hubby's migraines I put it at the base of his brain). To find a dilution chart click here.  Dilute? In addition it is also effective to rub the diluted oils or blends on the bottom of our feet and hit up those vita flex points.

Some other single oils in addition to the above oils that are recommended for head and neck tension are Frankincense, Helichrysum, Wintergreen, Ginger, Jasmine, Patchouli, Clove, Rosemary

Some other single oils in addition to the above oils that are recommended for migraines are Basil (I add Basil and Frankincense when hubby is having a Basilar migraine), Eucalyptus, Marjoram, Rosemary, and Ylang Ylang

Blends by some of the top quality companies include but are not limited to:

doTerra - Past Tense, Deep Blue

Native American Nutritionals - Migraine Relief, True Blue, Relieve Me, Soothing Relief

Young Living - Panaway, Deep Relief, M-Grain, Relieve It

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bug Repellent Lotion Bars



 Update: Just made another batch using these super cute molds I had on hand to make the kids fruit gummy snacks. This way they are a reasonable size to give away for others to try. Made 17 of these small ones with a bit left over I tossed into some mini muffin tins.



I have done two different things for bug repellent. Living in the tropics we neeeed bug repellent and I am not interested in spraying DEET on myself or kids. One was bug repellent bars that I like to give out as gifts and one was just some simple bug spray. I feel like both work well. Living in a military community we have people move in and out a lot in our neighborhood. When people move in, in addition to some homemade treats like pineapple macadamia nut bread and Apple Ginger Jam, I like to give some of the bug repellent bars and a lemongrass plant (they are going to need them here.) Just rub the lotion bar on your skin when you are going to be out and you are good to go. I will write a post for the bug spray tomorrow. Sorry I do not have step by step pictures for the bug repellent bars. I had taken a break from blogging when I made them. The next time I make them, I will post pics. :) For this picture I had one bar left and tossed the ingredients in a double boiler, do not have time to actually make them right now though.

Bug Repellent Bars

I got this recipe from My Buttered Life Summer Edition E-Book.

Ingredients
Beeswax - 3 1/2 oz,
Shea Butter - 1/3 cup (3 oz.),
Coconut Oil - 1/3 cup (3 oz.),
Citronella essential oil - 4 1/2 tsp (0.6 oz).
Makes 3 bars of 3 oz each

Other essential oils you can use instead of Citronella or in addition too are Lemon, Eucalyptus, Clove, Cedarwood, Neem, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, or Lemongrass. If you use them in addition too, just make sure you adjust the amounts you are putting in. You should only have a total of 4 1/2 teaspoons of essential oil. The Citronella is a pretty strong scent so you might want to put part Citronella and part Lavender. Again since you are putting it on and rubbing it in your skin, I would use a high quality brand essential oil. I recommend doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Instructions
1. Place beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil in double boiler (if you do not have a double boiler you can use a glass pyrex bowl set in a pot of boiling water.
2. Melt and stir with wooden skewer
3. Remove from heat, wait a few minutes, and add essential oil.
4. Stir with wooden skewer, pour into molds, and let set.

Tips - if you do not have specified molds you want to use, instead of buying them you can just put in muffin or mini muffin pan, or make smaller bars and put in ice cube tray. If bars won't pop out, put in freezer for 30 minutes then pop out. I used a tray I had for baking homemade twinkies (the twinkies were never a hit but now I use the pan for these bars.) :)

When I used the cute molds pictured above I had some left over so tossed them in a mini-muffin pan which is actually a good size to give out as gifts.




I got the shea butter on Amazon but you can also get it on, Aromatics International, Native American Nutritionals, or  Mountain Rose Herbs. The beeswax pellets I got from my local craft store but you can also get it on Amazon, Aromatics International or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dilute?

    
      This is another kind of controversial question among the EO community. I am not a medical professional so do not take this post as such please. After all the research and reading I have done coming from both sides and my own personal experience, I have to say I think it is a terrible idea to use essential oils neat (undiluted). Now that is my opinion for me and my family and is what I tell people when they ask. I urge you to do your own research and to make the decision you feel is right for you and your family.  I feel like essential oils truly are a gift from God, and their strength should be respected. Just because they are natural does not mean they do not need to be used responsibly. Essential oils are very concentrated and there could be adverse medical reactions when used neat (undiluted). My experience is they are effective and get the job done when diluted so not only is there no reason to use them undiluted, there are so many reasons not to use them undiluted. I keep reading testimony after testimony after testimony of people using it undiluted and it causing mild to severe reactions. Some just a minor rash all the way to actual blistering burns and even in some cases bleeding. That is just on the skin, also been reading about it causing people to be physically sick like nausea and diarrhea.
     This is not a case of using a poor quality oil so having a bad reaction. These are testimonies of people using even the best quality most pure brands of essential oils.  I had a friend suggest I have a type of massage her company promotes and trains which has to do with applying several different oils neat in a certain sequence. I am all for natural remedies so thought I would look into it. So I did what I do, I researched it.  I went on websites, forums, blogs, FB pages etc. run by people selling this particular companies oils, and participated in by people selling / using this companies oils. I guess you could say I was "lurking". These distributors and customers of this company were writing in asking advice because of reactions as moderate as a mild rash, all the way to actual blistering burns, open bleeding sores, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding at off times of the month,  numb swollen extremities, and the list goes on. With the research I did, I just decided it was not worth the numerous risks.
     The sad thing is that once someone does have a bad reaction to it, if it is due to sensitization then they can no longer use the oil even diluted for at least several years, maybe longer. So an oil that may have been very helpful diluted can not be used on them anymore. Kids need to have an even more diluted solution because their skin is thinner and they are more sensitive to EOs, there is a list of EOs that pregnant women should not use at all and the ones they do use should definately be diluted, possibly only under a professional's care.

This is a cool chart that I did up that goes along with the recommended dilution percentages.  I made it to hand out to those that are just betting started in essential oils. I got the information off of a chart done by A Drop of This

There are several different carrier oils you can use. My personal favorite right now are Fractionated Coconut Oil and Jojoba Oil. You can get carrier oils at your local health store, Amazon, or just about any company that sells essential oils. So for example if you were diluting an essential oil for an adult. You might use 1oz carrier oil and 10-12 drops of essential oil.





Simple Homemade Vapor Rub



There are tons of recipes out there on the internet for homemade vapor rub, I am sure most of them work great. This is a simple, quick one that works well for us. It was one of the first things I made with essential oils and helped to convince me of the benefits of essential oils. :) To read the long version of the story you can read here Essential Oils. The short version is, it was late at night, my son had a chest cold and was having bad asthma attacks before we knew he had asthma, my hubby was out of town and well you get the picture. My friend told me to make some vapor rub with essential oils, rub it on his chest and his feet and put socks on. It helped a lot to soothe and support his respiratory system and I have used it several times since.  There are other recipes that are more complicated and some that call for beeswax but since this works for us, I saw no need to do something different. We keep this in our room where the A/C stays on most of the time and so the coconut oil stays pretty well solidified. Again because this is being rubbed into the skin I would suggest a higher end essential oil like doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs

Ingredients for kids and elderly
1/2 cup coconut oil
8 drops peppermint essential oil
8 drops eucalyptus essential oil
8 drops lavender essential oil

Ingredients for older kids and adults
1/2 cup coconut oil
15 drops peppermint essential oil
15 drops eucalyptus essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil

Mix all the ingredient together and you are ready to go.

If you want it thicker consistency you can whip the coconut butter with some shea butter or you can melt some beeswax and mix it in. I do not find it necessary but some do.

You can use other essential oils as well, like lemon, tea tree, rosemary, pine, basil, chamomile, orange and others. If you do add more EOs however, you will need to adjust the number of drops you put in as it needs to stay safely diluted. There is a good chart / print out for diluting here Dilution Chart.

Tranquility Blend






So far even beyond Immune Strength (On Guard, Thieves), and beyond Calming (Peace and Calming, Serenity) the blend Tranquility from Native American Nutritionals has to be my favorite blend. :)  I am not affiliated with Native American Nutritionals, just like to pass along what works for us. :)

Their website's description is the following:

"Formulated to promote relaxation allowing us to relax so the blood can get up to the brain. Grounding and integrates energy allowing us to visualize our goals and dreams more vividly and accurately. Assists in reducing depression, eases anxiety, stress, and tension bringing joy to the heart, balances and stabilizes the emotions, gives patience and calms worries. May assist hyperactive children in creating serenity in their life. Has been found beneficial when used with children that have frequent nightmares. It may assist in curing the smoking habit.

Application: May be applied under nose, back of neck, and diluted with massage oil to rub on back. Add to bath water. May be applied to navel, legs, and back of neck for insomnia. Wear as a perfume or cologne. It has been used in a diffuser to assist in calming active or hard to manage children, also in the evening to relax the entire family. While traveling with small children put 10 drops in a 2 oz spray bottle, add water, shake, and spray around the car (it does miracles). This synergy has assisted people coming off drugs just by diffusing it.
Ingredients: Orange, Tangerine, Patchouli, Lime, Ylang Ylang Extra, Lavender, Blue Tansy, German Chamomile, and Citronella."

This was one of the first blends I ordered and I love it. For whatever reason my daughter gets kind of more hyper around bedtime so I use it (diluted) to rub on her feet and even put a bit on her pillow case. It helps her to calm down around bed time. My son tends to get stressed out easily so I use it (diluted) on him at times he might get stressed out. Most recently he was getting ready to test for his yellow belt in Taekwondo and he was getting really worked up. I rubbed some of it diluted on his feet and back of neck and it really helped him to relax and relieve some of his tension. One of the many problems with fibromyalgia is not being able to get good rest, so I use it on myself to help with that as well. I am going to either use their idea of a spray bottle and spritzing it in the car or put in a car diffuser as well for things like our drive to taekwondo testing or long car rides.
When I first received this in the mail, I received two because I had accidently added 2 to my shopping cart online so I gave the extra one to a fellow oily friend/neighbor who has also given me great feedback about it. Her and her husband use it for massage and has also been using it to help their kids settle down around bed time. Again I loooove it!

DIY Homemade Deodorant

 
 

As part of my journey to start to reduce unneeded chemicals in our lives I decided to have a go at making my own deodorant. While my cancer was not breast cancer, now that I have had cancer, I am more susceptible to getting cancer again and I figured the less chemicals near my lymph nodes and breasts the better, plus it is more cost effective. I came across this blog and recipe about a year ago, added it to my favorites, determined do make it.   http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2012/10/natural-homemade-deodorant-recipe.html   I just recently made it for the first time. :) Nothing like procrastinating. I did switch to using store bought natural deodorant a long time ago but making my own felt like the natural next step. Now that I have made it, I really wish I had done it sooner. It was soooo easy!! At the bottom of the post you can read my assessment and tweaks I might make next time.

Ingredients
2 heaping tablespoons beeswax pellets
1 tbsp shea butter
5 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for sensitive skin)
1/4 cup aluminum free baking soda
10-15 drops lavender oil
10-15 drops tea tree oil
10-15 drops of other essential oil of your choice (I chose Ylang Ylang because it is supposed to help with fibromyalgia
3-4 new or used (cleaned out) deodorant tubes twisted all the way back down. When I did this, it made 3 regular sized and two travel sized.

I got the beeswax pellets at our local craft store but you can get them on Amazon, Mountain Rose Herbs, or Aromatics International. The shea butter I got off of Amazon but you can also get it at Aromatics International or Mountain Rose Herbs, probably at your local health food store as well. The aluminum free baking soda I got at our local health food store Down To Earth but you can also order it from Mountain Rose Herbs. For the essential oils, you can choose which brand you want. Since it is being applied / rubbed into the skin, I suggest a higher quality brand. I recommend doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs.  For the deodorant tubes, you can get them on Amazon, possibly your local health food store or local craft store. For me where we live, it was actually more cost effective for me to buy the cheapest deodorant at the grocery store (93 cents each), and cleaned them out.

Directions

1. Melt beeswax in a double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler you can put them in a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water.


2. Add shea butter and coconut oil and heat until just melted, stirring occasionally.



3. Remove from heat and add cornstarch and baking soda. Stir until smooth.



4. Add essential oils and mix well



5. Pour into old deodorant tubes and let sit a few hours before adding the tops. You will want to fill them until they seem to almost overflow because they will fall down a good bit once cooled.  You can see from my picture, my tube was a tad lumpy, I stirred it up better before pouring the rest.



So there you  have it, a quick and easy way to make your own deodorant! I am excited to have finally done this!

After using it for a little while, here is my assessment.
Does it work?
Yes, it works. :) I do not have to apply it any more often than I did the store bought natural deodorant. I apply it 2 -3 times a day but again I did that with the store bought stuff. I sweat a lot. I work out hard almost everyday, soaking through my work out clothes, I am in menopause so have periodic hot flashes causing me to perspire, and I just naturally sweat a lot. So 2-3 times a day may sound like a lot for you but for me it is normal. I hiked Diamond Head just this weekend with the family and had no complaints. :)
Would you make it again and if so what changes would you make?

Absolutely I would make it again. The only complaint I had was that it did not set up quite as well as I would have liked, my guess is because we live in the tropics. Not much stays in a solidified state in my pantry because of the warmth. So I think once it is time for me to make it again I will probably add a little more beeswax, maybe 3 heaping tablespoons rather than 2 to see if it sets up a little better. I will update this when I do. It still works fine. I keep it in our bedroom where we keep the A/C on and I smear it on with my fingers rather than rubbing the bar on it.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Quinoa with Bell Pepper and Pine Nuts


This dish very much reminds me of couscous dishes I ate growing up in Africa which is probably why I am so drawn to it. In all honestly it could be just as easily made with couscous but I use quinoa because I cannot eat wheat.  I think it is yummy and great for a light lunch and easy to make. Oddly enough when I first came across the recipe it was part of a recipe for stuffed bell pepper and was supposed to be the stuffing but I liked it just as well on its own. If you want the whole recipe for stuffed bell pepper just ask me. I got it out of the cookbook Vegan Fire and Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes, http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Fire-Spice-Sultry-Recipes/dp/0980013100/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401930187&sr=8-1&keywords=vegan+fire+and+spice
This is one of those types of recipes you can add or detract ingredients as you see fit. Like you could easily add some carrots, peas, or green beans.  Not part of the original recipe but I added to it are ginger because in case you have not noticed by now, I love ginger, and I also added mint to it.

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa, bulgar, barley or couscous or grain of choice
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion chopped
½ cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small fresh hot chiles, seeded and minced (optional)
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup mint (optional, not in original recipe)
ginger chopped (optional, not in original recipe)
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup currants
¼ cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon sugar or natural sweetener
Freshly ground pepper
 
Directions
Cook quinoa and 2 cups vegetable stock according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, chiles, and chopped bell pepper and cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add parsley, mint (optional), ginger (optional), dill, cumin, lemon juice, pine nuts, currants, sugar, quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.