She got it. She knew the hard parts of being surrounded by littles always demanding your attention, but she also embraced the humor in those times as well. She knew how draining the constancy of mothering tinies can be, but she also fully recognized that amazing joy it brings as well.
And the best part: Canon Press, who published Fit to Burst and provided me with a review copy, also included a copy to give away! So if you’re a mama in need of some encouragement, head over to Kindred Grace and enter the giveaway (open until March 18th).
A week ago, we had an exciting announcement at my other writing place on the web…Young Ladies Christian Fellowship has a new name, one that speaks of what we hope our posts have and will continue to communicate. Kindred Grace. Our “About” page sums the new site up well:
“Kindred Grace is a community of women who are dedicated to fellowship through words, in order to glorify God and encourage each other. Our desire is to provide a grace-filled space for conversations between sisters in Christ.”
I’m writing over at Kindred Grace today about something that I think greatly saddens the heart of God.
“It’s a scenario I’ve witnessed too many times.
Christian A does something that Christian B doesn’t agree with. What Christian A did wasn’t sinful, but it’s something that Christian B has been convicted differently about. Christian B confronts Christian A about “being in sin” and things go downhill from there. Best case scenario: they agree to disagree, but there is still an underlying tension. However, all too often, there will be hard feelings and the relationship ends up disintegrating.”
I meant to get this post up on Saturday after I “drew” the winner, but the weekend got away from me and yesterday was crazy busy…so now I’m finally getting around to it! But first off, thank you so much to everyone who participated in the Beeyoutiful essential oils giveaway, it was definitely the most responses I’ve ever had to a giveaway so that was fun. But, the winner…according to random.org…is comment #9: Hannah Grace Estes. I hope you enjoy your oils, Hannah — they’re all great ones to have on hand!
For the rest of you, make sure you look at Beeyoutiful’s essential oils again! Many of their oils are discounted right now, so it’s great time to start your collection or add some of the more expensive oils that you’ve been waiting on buying.
And one more thing on essential oils…today I came across this recipe for creating your own Thieves Blend. If you don’t know about the Legend of the Four Thieves and the related Thieves Blend of oils, definitely read it for that bit of history, but if you can, try making some to have on hand for cleaning, etc., especially during the coming winter. I know that I’m going to try making up some of this blend for our family since I actually have all of the oils for it, except for lemon eucalyptus, but I’m going to just use plain eucalyptus instead. And speaking of eucalyptus, while you may have heard it recommended to take Thieves internally help fight sickness, etc., I really would not recommend it as eucalyptus oil is very toxic when taken internally, even in small amounts.
This post will bring the series to a close, and I hope it was helpful to those of you wanting to learn more about essential oils. It was fun to write and I learned a lot in doing so. And while I am by no means an expert on essential oils, if you have questions about anything I wrote about, please ask — you can contact me here or leave a comment. I can’t guarantee I’ll have the answer as I’m still learning myself, but I might be able to point you in the direction of information that has been helpful to me as I pursue learning more about this amazing gift of natural medicine the Lord has given us.
One final note before we get to the exciting giveaway: I realize that this series probably came across as very pro-Beeyoutiful. It was meant to be as I think Beeyoutiful is a great company that provides quality natural health products for an affordable price. They’re a small company and therefore not as well-known as other natural health companies so I wanted to get the word out about them. However, it really bothers me when people say stuff along the lines of “This company is the only one with quality products…you must buy from them if you want the real thing!”. So please know: as much I appreciate and trust Beeyoutiful, I don’t think they are the only company out there with quality essential oils. If you already have an essential oil supplier that you trust and that you can get affordable essential oils from…good for you! By all means, stay with them if that’s what works for you. For me, I’ve had only good experiences with Beeyoutiful through the many orders I’ve placed and the numerous interactions I’ve had with them…and so I want others to know about them as well.
My good experience with Beeyoutiful only continued when I approached them about sponsoring a giveaway to go along with this series. They were very enthusiastic about it and more than generous. They offered to give away one of their Beginner Basics Essential Oil Packs. This pack contains FIVE different essential oils: eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, orange and tea tree. I have all of those essential oils, and if you read my post about the different ways I use oils, you know that some of these are my favourites and they are all very versatile.
Entering the giveaway for this Beginner Basic Essential Oil Pack is simple. Visit Beeyoutiful and check out their selection of essential oils. Come back here and comment, telling me which essential oil you’re most interested in and why. For an extra entry, share about this giveaway through some kind of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and then comment telling me you did so (but remember, you must leave a separate comment in order for it to count as an extra entry!). And I’m sorry to any international readers, but due to shipping costs, this giveaway is only open to those residing in the US. The giveaway closes at midnight EST, Friday, December 7th.
Alright…now that we have all the pre-information out of the way, this is the part everyone always asks about. What essential oils do you have and how do you use them? However, before we get into that fun stuff, there’s one more disclaimer. Please remember: I am not a licensed health professional and anything I say is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. I am just a mama sharing what has worked for her. As with anything, please do your own research.
Lavender: This is definitely one of my most-used essential oils — very versatile and it doesn’t hurt that it smells lovely too! Lavender is one of the few oils that I occasionally apply “neat” (undiluted) as the situation warrants, but in general it is still a good idea to dilute it with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil (my favourite) or jojoba oil, especially when applying to children. And speaking of applying to children, lavender is one of the few essential oils that can be used on babies from birth (though obviously highly diluted!) and is generally safe for use during pregnancy. Some of my favourite uses for lavender are:
Applying a drop to bug bites to take away the itching and diminish the redness.
Diluted in a carrier oil, I have sometimes found headache relief from massaging lavender oil along my hairline, into my temples and in front of and behind my ears.
Frankincense: Along with lavender, frankincense is probably one of my favourite essential oils. It’s one of the more expensive oils, so I didn’t add it to my collection right away, but I was so excited when I finally did. It is distilled from resin and as such the scent reminds me of being outdoors in the forest…mmm! Frankincense is one of the few essential oils that I feel comfortable using while pregnant, for which I’m thankful.
I’ve also found headache relief from using frankincense in the same way as lavender, or sometimes I even mix the two. Dilute and massage along the hairline, temples and in front of and behind the ears.
The combination of frankincense and lavender is also very nice when mixed with Epsom salts and added to a warm bath. Helps take away general aches and pains and is incredibly relaxing.
Frankincense is excellent for skin care so I usually add some to my homemade lotion bars (recipe hopefully coming soon).
Partly because I just love the smell and partly because of its antiseptic qualities, I often add frankincense to my liquid hand soap (a 1:1 ratio of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile Soap and water).
Frankincense is a great immune-booster so when we’ve been exposed to sickness, or feel something coming on, I’ll dilute it with a carrier oil and rub it on the soles of our feet.
Lemon: This is the only one of my oils that doesn’t live with all the others in my lovely natural remedy cabinet, handmade by my talented husband. Instead the lemon oil lives in the corner of a cupboard right next to my kitchen sink. Lemon oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiseptic, so I generally use it for cleaning. Shockingly enough, it smells exactly like lemon peels, which in my opinion, is pretty much the ultimate clean smell!
After cutting up raw meat, I sprinkle several drops of lemon oil onto the cutting board and knife, add a squirt of dish soap, rub the combination all over the germy areas and then let sit in the sink for a couple minutes before rinsing with hot water. I also use this method for disinfecting the kitchen sink, or any other gross kitchen task that I want a little extra natural germ-killing power for.
I also use the lemon oil/dish soap combo for cleaning my hands after touching raw meat, etc., but just make sure to put the dish soap on your skin before the lemon oil as the oil is very concentrated and can easily irritate skin if used undiluted.
I’ve found that smearing some coconut oil mixed with a couple drops of lemon oil makes a great gunk remover for those stubborn sticky patches that show up when you try to remove labels from glass jars. Smear, let sit for awhile and oftentimes the gunk will wipe right off.
Orange: Mmm, who doesn’t love the smell of oranges?! Having such a cheery aroma, and being one of the more inexpensive oils, I’ve gone through several bottles of orange oil. Another citrus oil that has antiseptic properties, I use it mostly for cleaning.
Whenever I mop, I add orange oil to my mop head. The oil helps to clean and disinfect the floor, and it also acts like a diffuser, making the room smell of freshly-peeled oranges.
Peppermint: This is another very versatile oil, but I have to admit that I haven’t experimented with it as much as lavender or frankincense since it’s generally not considered safe to use while pregnant and that’s a state I’ve been in a lot in the last several years! I’ve also heard differing things about using it while nursing due to the strong taste possibly affecting the breastmilk. However, there are non-pregnant and breastfeeding people in my family so I’ve had a couple chances to use it.
Peppermint can be used in the same way as lavender and frankincense for headaches. Aaron prefers this one over the other two, so when he has a headache, I often will add a couple drops of sweet almond oil to a couple drops of peppermint oil and massage along his hairline, temples and in front of and behind his ears. Due to the menthol content in peppermint oil, he often has to keep his eyes closed for several minutes after application, but it often seems to help his headaches.
I’ve only tried this once so far, but diluting peppermint oil and rubbing over the navel and into the soles of the feet can help to lower a fever if needed. (I generally prefer to let mild to moderate fevers run their course in killing the infection, but sometimes lowering it for a time can be helpful in promoting sleep, etc.)
Peppermint is famous for helping digestive issues and while I haven’t had a chance to try this yet, I’ve heard that diluting a drop or two of peppermint oil and rubbing over the stomach can help upset stomachs and the like.
Rosemary: This another oil that isn’t safe to use on pregnant or nursing women, so thus far, my uses of it have mostly been for cleaning…but for that it works wonderfully! Rosemary oil is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, and according to some of my reading on it, it has even been shown effective against MRSA. Pretty amazing stuff!
The inspiration for the above-mentioned cleaner was from a blog post that included a recipe for homemade natural “Lysol”. Using a simple combination of lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil added to water, the post stated that: “This mixture was found, in the French state hospital system, to be as effective as standard hospital sanitizer, but in fact longer lasting, because the oils stay on whatever surfaces they land on longer than the alcohol-based sanitizers.”
Chamomile (Roman): This is the newest addition to my essential oil collection and one I’m very excited about! Even though Beeyoutiful has the most affordable price on it I’ve seen, chamomile is still an expensive oil so I didn’t think I’d ever be able to add it to my stash. However, a couple months ago, Beeyoutiful decided that they were going to discontinue it as there just didn’t seem to be enough interest…so they slashed the price in half. I told Aaron about it and he told me to buy a bottle (yes, my husband spoils me!). Why did I feel it was worth it to spend so much on a little bottle of oil? Chamomile essential oil is one of the few oils that can be used from birth and it is especially helpful in calming and soothing little ones (and anyone else who needs it!).
I added several drops of this to the kids’ shampoo (diluted Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile Soap) and wipe wash (for the wipes we use with our cloth diapers).
Chamomile is the main fragrance in a linen spray I made to put on my pillow to help with pregnancy insomnia. I can’t say that it cured the insomnia (there’s a lot of factors involved), but it smells so good that I often wear it as perfume.
Eucalyptus: This is an essential oil that’s so potent it’s not recommended for use by pregnant women, infants and small children…so I have yet to have a chance to use this one much. However, from all I’ve read about it, it’s still definitely a good one to have on hand.
Diluting a drop or two in a spray bottle of water and spritzing around can be a powerful disinfectant for keeping germs from spreading within a sick room.
Steam inhalation of eucalyptus oil can greatly help congestion and earaches. The oil can also be diluted and rubbed on the chest and back to help with chest congestion and some coughs.
Clove: It sounds kind of weird, but I often associate the scent of clove with babies, since baby-related stuff has been the main thing I’ve used it for, though I know there’s many other uses as well.
Clove oil is a powerful oral analgesic and so I’ve used very diluted clove oil to help my babies with teething pain. This is a good recipe for it; just test it on yourself first to be sure it isn’t too strong!
When we used to keep the cloth diaper pail in our bedroom, I taped a tissue to the inside of the lid and would regularly put several drops of clove oil on the tissue. Clove has a strong smell and doesn’t smell “herb-y” like many other essential oils (my husband doesn’t like “herb-y” smelling stuff) so it worked great as a diaper pail deodorizer.
Tea Tree: This is probably one of the most well-known essential oils to the general public…and for good reason as it has a lot of uses! According to this list, it’s supposedly safe to use during pregnancy, and from what I’ve read, it can also be used with older babies and young children as well (though obviously well-diluted in all those cases). However, I’ll admit that I have yet to use mine much since my husband has quite an aversion to its very distinctive smell as he supposedly had to put it on his poison oak outbreaks when he was younger. Tea tree oil is a powerful antifungal so the main reason I bought it was to use in case we ever had to deal with a mold problem, but after reading about it some more recently, I might see if I can break Aaron into the smell again! Some great uses I’ve read of are:
Tea tree oil’s antibacterial properties make it perfect for cleaning cuts, scrapes, burns, etc. (some people have even had success with treating their acne with it), especially since it can be applied to broken skin.
Applying tea tree oil to different skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis can be soothing and healing. It can also do the same for chicken pox and shingles.
While I hope I never have to use it this way, I’ve heard great success stories with using tea tree oil to treat head lice.
Tea tree oil can be used similarly to eucalyptus in treating colds and respiratory issues. Rub diluted tea tree oil on the chest and back or add to a steam inhalation treatment.
Oregano: This oil is pretty amazing at stopping many kinds of infections as it is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic, and has also been shown effective against MRSA.
This is the one oil that I have used internally (or rather Aaron has), in order to try and kill a bad cold when we were traveling and didn’t have any other remedies on hand. Yes, I know that in my post on using oils safely, I said that I thought oils should only be taken internally in rare cases and when under the supervision of a certified herbalist. I still do believe that, but this is the one oil that I make exception for in that regard since there has been quite a bit of research done on taking it internally and it is generally believed to be safe as long as it’s not used for prolonged periods of time. However, it is still not recommended to take even oregano oil internally while pregnant, and I’ve read conflicting information about taking it while nursing.
After trying several different remedies, both natural and otherwise, it was finally oregano oil that killed a very stubborn wart that Aaron had. He said he hated smelling like an Italian kitchen all the time, but I think it was worth it!
Geranium: I originally bought this oil since it was often called for and referenced in the very helpful The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. But, as it happened, I haven’t really had a chance to use it yet. The only time so far has been for part of an oil blend I was trying out to see if it would get rid of some sinus headaches I was dealing with. The blend did seem to help and the geranium definitely added a lovely fragrance to the mix!
[In the photo of my stash, you’ll noticed some random bottles on the sides of the cupboard: they are Aura Cacia brand Lemongrass and Rose Absolute, and Young Living’s Stress Away blend roll-on. The Aura Cacia ones were given to me and I won the Young Living one. I don’t use any of them medicinally or for cleaning, but primarily for their scent. The Lemongrass and Rose Absolute make lovely additions to linen sprays/perfumes and I enjoy using Stress Away as perfume when I’m not pregnant.]
With any herbal remedy, it’s important to remember that just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it won’t be harmful if used inappropriately. In my mind, this applies especially to essential oils since they are so concentrated. With very few exceptions, essential oils should never be applied undiluted to the skin. Many essential oils can burn the skin if not properly diluted with carrier oils such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil. This does not mean that the oil isn’t “pure enough” or of good enough quality — it just means that essential oils are very concentrated and should be handled with care.
Many essential oil users differ on whether or not essential oils should be taken internally. Personally, I feel that this should only happen in rare cases, and only under the supervision of a certified aromatherapist or the like. (Note: in the vast majority of cases, the MLM rep who may have sold you your oils is NOT an aromatherapist!) Certain essential oils, like eucalyptus oil, are quite toxic when taken internally, even in very small amounts. As such, it’s important to again remember that essential oils are very potent and using them is not to be done lightly.
The reason I emphasize this, and why I decided to devote an entire (long!) post to using essential oils safely, is because of an alarming trend I’ve seen among some people who decide to start using essential oils. Certain prominent essential oil companies make the claim that their oils are “so pure” that they can be used undiluted on the skin or taken internally. Conveniently enough, supposedly all other oils aren’t “pure enough” so if you’ve had a bad reaction to an essential oil in the past, that’s probably because it was adulterated, etc.
Honestly, that kind of reasoning doesn’t even make logical sense! If these certain brands of essential oils are supposedly so pure and therefore so potent, then wouldn’t that mean that extra care should be taken in using them? But as I mentioned in the post on essential oil brands and quality, these claims of “therapeutic grade”, etc. don’t really mean anything and are mostly just helpful for marketing.
Jessie Hawkins, a well-known natural living professional, wrote a blog post called “the post we’ve always avoided“. An interesting title, to be sure, and in it she talks of this trend and details more of the problems with it. I strongly encourage anyone considering using essential oils to read it in its entirety. Below is a telling quote:
These textbooks and experts [from medical establishments where using aromatherapy and essential oils is the norm], backed by large bodies of scientific evidence are able to best tell us how to use essential oils for safe and effective results. One of the things they tell us is that essential oils – with very, very few exceptions – are not to be used “neat” or undiluted on the skin. They are also not to be taken internally, again with very few exceptions, many of which require direct medical supervision or care. These pioneers of the field that have been studying the chemistry of essential oils for decades are not confused about the quality of a good oil. They’re not talking about adulterated oils or low grade oils. And they’re not recommending “therapeutic-grade” or similarly certified oils – designations that are essentially developed by the marketing departments of popular direct-sales brands here in the States. They’re talking about high quality organic oils that are so potent that they must be diluted before use on the skin and should not be ingested due to their chemical purity.
Along with mindfully using essentials oils in general, it’s especially important to be careful during pregnancy. Mimicking their herbal counterparts, certain essential oils are emmenagogues, which means they promote menstruation (therefore being an abortifacient if you’re pregnant) and can stimulate uterine contractions– not something you want happening for most of your pregnancy! Lists as to which oils are unsafe during pregnancy can vary widely, but this one is the most comprehensive that I’ve found. Yes, it’s very long, but especially with essential oils, I like to err on the side of caution when dealing with such a sensitive time.
While not dealing specifically with essential oils, but more generally with herbs, I’ve found the book The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy by Shonda Parker (a certified herbalist) to be very helpful in determining which essential oils are safe to use while pregnant.
The bottom line: essential oils are very concentrated and therefore, should be used with care and caution. Educate yourself about the oils you’re using and don’t fall victim to propaganda designed to promote a certain brand.
You don’t have to read much about essential oils to discover that there is a bit of controversy over which brands are better quality. Certain brands (namely Young Living and doTerra) claim that their oils are the only pure essential oils available. While I have no doubt that their oils are good quality, I’m always a little skeptical of companies who claim that they are the only source for a particular product.
Skepticism regarding their exclusivity aside, I never really got into Young Living or doTerra oils mostly because of the price…they’re very expensive! And while Aaron and I feel strongly that buying quality natural products can contribute to lower health costs in the long run, there are obviously budget limits to that and very expensive essential oils don’t fit.
That was the reason that I was so excited a couple years ago when I saw that my favourite natural health company, Beeyoutiful, was going to start carrying essential oils. I had been buying stuff from Beeyoutiful since the company’s beginning and I trusted their products to be quality and affordable.
But I was curious…I knew Beeyoutiful’s essential oils were of good quality, but why did they say “for aromatherapy use only”, when companies like Young Living called their’s “Therapeutic Grade”? And how could they sell the oils at such a cheaper price than the other quality essential oils?
So I asked. In the past, Beeyoutiful had always been very good about answering my product questions and giving me any information that I asked for. I sent an email to their customer service asking the questions above and a couple others and they got back to me right away. What followed was a very eye-opening and informative email conversation that only served to heighten my respect for Beeyoutiful as a company. Since this email conversation, they have put up a great article on their site that details much of what I learned in the emails and more. I strongly encourage you to read it in its entirety, but below is a quote that details something I found very interesting
There is no such system for essential oils. There is no standards committee. There are no independent certifying agencies. You will see some companies have actually trademarked their terms, “therapeutic grade” or “medicinal grade”. This is marketing on their part, a way of differentiating themselves from the competition and making people feel like the oils they are getting are of the highest quality while others meet lower standards. But there are no standards. There are no grades for essential oils. … [W]hile our oils are used by us and many others for therapies, for medicines, and for aromatherapy, we do not call them “therapeutic grade”, or “medicinal grade”, or “aromatherapy grade” because there is no such thing, except in marketing. We are committed to a straightforward, honest approach to selling our products, and stay away from such gimmicks.
I realize that this post could sound like an advertisement for Beeyoutiful, and while I personally trust and use their products, you shouldn’t just take my word for it. We each need to research for ourselves what we feel is best to use with our families and try to see past the marketing hype and patented phrases.