…and I have yet to do another blog post here! :So much for my hope that an Instagram account and updated blog look would inspire me to blog more… Though honestly, it’s not inspiration that I need…it’s time. There’s lots I want to blog about, and I would gladly do so regularly if someone would just come over and watch my kids, fold my laundry, and cook supper for us — for free! Anybody?!
Despite the lack of blogginess, I have been posting to Instagram quite a bit…or at least quite a bit more than I originally thought I would. It’s been really fun — I’m so enjoying sharing our “natural” approach to living, from what we eat and how I cook, stuff I use for skin care, what type of tea I drink, etc. I’m also (slowly!) going through my cookbook shelf and sharing my favorites. And as is now obvious, I opted pretty quickly to not do the Instagram round-up posts I mentioned in my last post. It just seemed a little overly repetitious since the Instagram feed is on the blog sidebar.
The last couple of years have brought a lot of changes for our family, and it’s been almost all I can do to keep up with it all! Last summer, we moved back across the country from eastern Tennessee and are now living in the mountains of Colorado. And although we love this area, the transition has been hard — we’ve been here over a year and have yet to find a church and make any close friends. Finding our way in a new area is always time-consuming, and the past six months have also brought new challenges: we “officially” started homeschooling, made some pretty significant diet changes after we discovered that Genoa has gluten and corn intolerances, and now I’m growing our fourth little one…coming in March! Needless to say, writing has been pushed to the very back burner. But when a good friend asks you to write a guest post (or three!) to contribute to her month-long series on a subject you’re very passionate about, what’s a girl to do?!
And that’s what happened. My friend, Gretchen, is doing a series this month on babywearing, and wanted me to do a “Babywearing Basics” post. That post morphed into three and reignited my love of writing…which turned into a public Instagram account since I still don’t have much time for regular long blog posts…which turned into a new blog theme that’s actually mobile responsive (which I didn’t even know was a thing until recently!) and a slight name change to mesh more thoroughly with my public Instagram account. Lots of changes, and most of them spurred on by Gretchen who “gets” this stuff way more than I do and put up with all my techy-inept questions…so big thanks to her!
Second — the new Instagram account. Yes, I’m very late to the party, but what else is new?! I’m going to have a live feed of the account on my sidebar, and I also hope to do a regular (hopefully weekly, but I’m not promising anything!) round-up of my posts here. And obviously, you can follow me on Instagram too.
I’m hopeful that all these changes might spur me on to blog regularly again, but we’ll see. It’s always a matter of time, and with a new baby coming, I doubt I’ll be getting more of that any time soon. If you haven’t given up on my blog yet, I thank you all for your patience!
This post should have been written a long time ago. But it wasn’t. One reason being that I’ve found it incredibly difficult to find the brain space and time to write much at all since having three little ones five and under (as is clearly evidenced by the fact that the last post here was written over a year and a half ago!). But the main reason is that I’ve been really conflicted on how to go about writing this post. I don’t want to cast a bad light on a company that I still dearly love and use often, but at the same time, the information I presented and recommendations I made when I first wrote this series a couple years ago has changed. And considering that this series still gets some traffic and people reading it, I felt it was necessary to do a follow-up.
In short, I no longer recommend Beeyoutiful essential oils as a great option for those wanting to get into using essential oils. It’s not that I think they’re horrible oils, or that I no longer support Beeyoutiful as a company. I fully support Beeyoutiful as a natural supplement company and still order quite a bit from them (we use their Miracle Salve almost daily!). However, I don’t think they’re the best option for essential oils, and have found several that I think are better.
Several years ago, when I first started researching and using essential oils, there were two options that I knew of: essential oils from the popular multi-level marketing companies, Young Living and doTerra, or those purchased from health food stores. I didn’t want to buy from the MLMs as I thought their oils were incredibly over-priced, and even with the little research I had done up to that point, I recognized that the majority of their usage recommendations were unsafe (using them undiluted/neat and taking them internally without the supervision of an aromatherapist). Even though I knew I wasn’t required to use the oils as they recommended, I couldn’t, in good conscience, support companies who made such recommendations just to get people to buy more of their products. I didn’t really want to buy the majority of the essential oils offered in health food stores as most of the ones I had seen up to that point didn’t seem like they were very good quality (i.e. there was a lack of basic information about the oil on the bottle, all the oils were priced the same regardless of type, etc.). At the time, Beeyoutiful seemed like the great third option: they weren’t over-priced and the company was very conservative in their usage recommendations, but from what I had researched about essential oils so far, they still seemed like quality oils.
As I talked about when I first wrote the Simple Essential Oils series, I used Beeyoutiful oils for several years and was very happy with them. I had a basic collection and I was slowly figuring out how to safely use the oils for different ailments my family came up against, and how to effectively use them to replace conventional cleaners and the like. However, in the last two years, I’ve been researching essential oils a lot more and a whole new world has opened before me! I discovered that there were a lot of others out there like me who were striving to learn more about essential oils, but didn’t want that to involve the MLM companies. And through these others, I found out that there’s quite a few essential oil companies that sell quality oils for a reasonable price. I was so excited about all the options that I now knew about!
The more I researched though, I discovered several signs that made me wonder if Beeyoutiful oils were as great as I thought they were. They failed to supply some information about the oil that I was learning was very important — things like where the plant was grown and what part of the plant the oil was extracted from. Also, the more I read about aromatherapy and discussed things with certified aromatherapists, I started to wonder how much Beeyoutiful actually know about aromatherapy. Not that they were trying to pass themselves off as something they weren’t, but essential oils are just a small part of their company, and therefore they couldn’t make aromatherapy their focus.
Along with those wonderings, I started to become concerned about some of the usage recommendations that I was seeing from Beeyoutiful regarding different ways to use their essential oils. Now that I had a much better grasp on the safety considerations that come with delving into aromatherapy, practices and recommendations that I had originally taken at face value raised some red flags for me. Things like not mentioning when an oil would be unsafe to use around young children (this article has a lot of good information about that), and recommending dilutions that were much higher than they ought to be. Seeing these tendencies in the recommendations made by the company made me feel that I could no longer recommend them as a source to others beginning their journey into using essential oils.
But all is definitely not lost — there are several other options out there to use as essential oils suppliers without having to get caught up in the over-priced and dangerously-marketed MLMs.
My top favourite supplier is definitely Plant Therapy. They are an amazing company and I have yet to hear anything bad about them (which, if you’ve read much online about essential oils, is pretty rare!). Their oils are great quality and very reasonably-priced (with free shipping on every order!). My favourite aspect of their company though, is their focus on essential oil safety. There are no crazy recommendations specific to their company just to get you to use up your oils faster so you can buy more. All their recommendations follow basic guidelines recognized in the global aromatherapy world. Plant Therapy even teamed up with Robert Tisserand, the world-renowned expert on essential oil safety, to develop their line of KidSafe blends, specifically made with oils that are safe to use with young children. As a mama to little ones, this was huge for me! I could go on about the company, but suffice to say: I highly recommend Plant Therapy to anyone looking to get started in essential oils.
While Plant Therapy is my go-to, I have also been very happy with Florihana essential oils. They’re a small company in France, and make great quality oils, but with international shipping and all, ordering directly from them can be pretty expensive. As such, I’ve ordered all of my Florihana essential oils through Tropical Traditions. I’ve been very happy with the oils themselves, but Tropical Tradtions’ stock seems to fluctuate significantly so I’ve only purchased from them a handful of times.
Well, I guess that covers most of what has been mulling around in my brain about this post for the past year or so. I hope to do (another!) follow-up post sometime in the near future with links to different websites and books that have been helpful to me as I’ve continued to learn more and more about using essential oils in my family. I definitely don’t know everything about the topic (not even close!), but if you have any questions, I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned.
As you may have noticed, what with a new baby in the house and me figuring out how to be a mama to three littles three and under, not much blogging has been happening. Type-able computer time is at an all-time low, as is creative brain power. However, I can still answer questions, and so recently I participated in two interviews at the blog, Nourishing Simplicity. It was “So Long Disposables, Hello Cloth” month and as the entire topic is one I feel strongly about, it was fun to share my experiences. Along with several other mamas, we talked about using cloth diapers and cloth menstrual pads (mama cloth). And as fun as it was to participate, I also really enjoyed hearing other women’s perspectives as well.
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.]