In 2018 my family of five spent seven weeks in Lebanon. Past trips included vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fevers, aches, chills, doctor visits and never feeling 100%. Landing back home in Toronto always felt amazing and ironically, was the best part of the trip. Usually I would pack laxatives for constipation, Imodium for diarrhea, Advil & Tylenol for headaches, fevers and chills. All of the band aid solutions for the symptoms that I experienced. Every trip I took, the symptoms got worse, lasted longer and I felt I was really going to die. Yes, I know, I am dramatic. It’s one thing to get sick at home but it’s totally different when you get sick in a foreign country. It’s a completely different ball game when you get sick in a foreign country as a nursing momma.
This was the first time I travelled with three children and for such a long period. For the last leg of the trip, I was solo. I wanted to be better prepared because clearly, what I used on past trips was not effective, and many of those things couldn’t be used with children. I wanted to enjoy my trip and not get sick or have to parent sick children for most of my trip. I am not talking about a cold, with a cough and some sniffles. I am referring to projectile vomit while having the runs on the toilet and being scared to eat because you aren’t sure what exactly is causing these severe symptoms.
I wanted to take things that would help prevent these symptoms. I wanted to enjoy my trip and ensure that it was a trip to be remembered for all the fun things we did. Not how sick one of us got. I wanted to be better prepared and the universe listened.
Two weeks before our trip I was invited to a workshop held by a local momma who was talking about all the different ways essential oils can be used. I almost cancelled because I was feeling overwhelmed and I had a lingering headache from a night of broken sleep with a teething toddler. She started the event by passing around a bottle of peppermint essential oil and invited us to apply one drop to cupped palms, inhale and then rub our hands together and apply the oil to the back of our neck and temples. I didn’t expect to feel anything, but after about ten minutes that headache vanished and I felt alert. Long story short, I placed an order for a starter kit and that was the beginning of my essential oil journey. I used them daily on our trip and neither the children nor I got sick and it was literally the best trip our family has taken to Lebanon. It has been two and a half years and I still use them daily in all parts of my daily routines, to clean my home, and for supporting my family’s well-being.
Here are five ways you can use essential oils in your home:
Herbs like clove, rosemary, cinnamon, wild orange and eucalyptus are antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. Combined together in a formula called On Guard this blend is one of my absolute favorites. Ways to use this oil is to diffuse it before or after school, make a roller of 10-20 drops topped with fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil and apply it to the back of the spine before school and bed and also applying it to the bottom of the feet as per the reflexology points.
You can also combine it with rubbing alcohol, vitamin E oil and aloe vera gel to make an effective non-toxic and non-irritating hand sanitizer.
Oils from eucalyptus, Ravensara, melaleuca, lemon, laurel, cardamum and peppermint are cooling, invigorating, can help break down phlegm, relieve sinus pains and congestion. As a momma, my second favorite blend is called Easy Air and is one I reach for often. I diffuse it at night when my children are congested, I apply it to their chest in a roller ball and also apply it to the bottom of their feet before bed. This is an oil blend that I truly believe has prevented the minor colds my kids get from turning into much more serious illnesses.
Essential oils are amazing support and great to have in the home medicine cabinet. If I am completely transparent, I used to buy the Costco sized Advil and Tylenol for kids and go through them like water. They would help with the acute pain but then their cold would turn into an infection and antibiotics were the norm. Since changing to a more holistic and natural way of living, prevention is high on my list of priorities. Incorporating things like essential oils, herbs, nutrient dense foods and prioritising sleep and no sugar on the onset of any symptoms has been extremely helpful and beneficial. As a family, we have not had to use any NSAIDs (Advil/Tylenol etc.) in over 2 years. I actually just threw out full sized bottles because they were expired and also unopened. Now that is a mom win if I don’t say so myself ;)
Aromatherapy involves the inhalation of essential oils. This can be a powerful way to affect memory, hormones, and emotions through the olfactory system. Anatomically the olfactory system is closely connected to the limbic system of the brain. This system contains the hippocampus (long-term memory), the amygdala (emotions), the hypothalamus (autonomic nervous system and hormones), and the cingulate gyrus (regulates blood pressure, heart rate and attention). This close connection between the olfactory system and the limbic system allows essential oils to have such a profound and physiological and psychological effect. Lavender is one of the best-known oils for its calming effects on the body and mind and its ability to decrease anxiety. Other stress and anxiety reducing oils are bergamot, lemon, lemongrass, neroli, orange oil, Roman chamomile and vetiver.
When I am feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed my go to oil blends are Balance, Serenity, and Adaptive. I diffuse them, I apply a drop to my wrists and inhale or I roll them onto pressure points using a roller bottle. These three essential oils are blends that contain essential oils that are calming, grounding, relaxing, balancing and soothing. I tend to diffuse Adaptive during my morning rituals that begins at 5:00 a.m. It’s uplifting, yet calming and grounding to me. During the day when I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious, I roll Balance on my wrists or drop a couple of drops in my shoes based on where the adrenals are on the reflexology points on the feet. In the evening after the littles are in bed, I diffuse lavender, bergamot and lemongrass while sipping on a tea and connecting with my hubby after a long day. At my bedside table I have a roller of serenity that I roll on my wrists and inhale as I drift off to sleep. This is especially helpful with box breathing - breathe in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4.
For two years while taking night classes, box breathing was extremely helpful in shutting my mind off and allowing me to get restorative sleep. Other nights when I needed more sleep support, passion flower tincture was my go-to. It really helped quiet my busy mind, especially on nights when I had a class and didn’t have time to process all the mind blowing information I was learning.
Part of my family’s first aid kit are essential oils. Oils like tee tree, clove, myrrh, eucalyptus, frankincense, peppermint, turmeric, ginger, ZenGest and oil of oregano are in our kit. There are more, but these are the ones that stand out in my mind because they each have made a huge impact over the last two years. Inhaling peppermint has helped prevent my husband from passing out. Ginger applied to the roof of the mouth has helped me when I was nauseous. Clove has helped with tooth aches due to its antiseptic properties. Myrrh is quite healing to the mucous membranes and helps canker sores heal fast. Turmeric applied with Deep Blue to my mom’s arthritic elbow reduced the inflammation visibly within one hour. Frankincense and peppermint in a roller have effectively reduced fevers and helped with headaches. Tee tree on cuts and bruises helps to disinfect.
The key to using essential oils is to have them readily available so that when you need them you actually grab them. I keep a small kit with me at all times and a box in the bathroom that is labelled so that I can direct my kids or husband to in times of need. Dilution matters when using essential oils on children so be sure to look into safe practices and it’s best not to use oils on infants under two.
I have dealt with acne since the eighth grade. I used topical antibiotics until 2011 when I got pregnant with my first. During that pregnancy I had what I thought was the worst acne of my life. Dramatic, I know. However, once she was born, I learned first-hand the power of nutrition. My skin cleared up and was crystal clear until my third was 9 months old in 2017. At that time, I was burnt out, sleep deprived, under extreme stress and thriving off coffee…like A LOT OF COFFEE. The perfect mixture for disaster.
Overnight, my skin started to break out again. Painful cystic acne along my jaw line. All of the dietary things I had done initially to improve my skin did not work. I later learned it was hormonal and gut related and I have been working on improving my skin naturally and holistically since November of 2018.
I am determined to use non-toxic products and get to the root cause so it has been a slow process with periods of clear skin and then breakouts again. One thing that has been beneficial is incorporating essential oils to help with the pain, healing and scaring on my face. I usually use a drop mixed into my moisturizer and then massage it into my face. I use copaiba for the inflammation and pain. I use frankincense to help with scarring. And I use bergamot (at night) due to its antibacterial properties as a spot treatment on painful cystic acne.
Bergamot is considered a citrus oil which can cause photosensitivity and therefore the skin can burn once exposed to sunlight. Make sure to avoid the sun for twelve hours after application of any citrus oil.
My acne journey is long and multi-faceted. I will share it in a later post. Just know, that if you are struggling with acne, I am always available to chat. It is definitely not an easy or simple journey.
Nothing feels better than sitting in a freshly cleaned home that smells amazing. I used to use extra cleaning products and highly scented ones to get that “clean” smell. What I didn’t realise was the products were releasing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that have serious health implications. These gasses are emitted from toxic cleaning products and were accumulating in our home making it literally unsafe to be in. VOCs can be up to 10x higher indoors than outdoors.
Today our home is cleaned with 100% non-toxic cleaning products that I make completely from essential oils and a few other simple ingredients. I use lavender and white vinegar to clean windows and mirrors. I use Purify mixed with On Guard concentrate and water in a spray bottle to clean the bathroom. Baking soda, castile soap and vinegar are what I use to scrub the scum. A few drops of lemon eucalyptus along with a few sprinkles of baking soda in the garbage bins prevents that nasty stink. Lemon eucalyptus mixed with the On Guard concentrate and water to mop the floors reminds me of Pine Sol which just smells heavenly. And I have a disinfectant bottle in the kitchen that is lemon essential oil and On Guard concentrate and water.
My home is clean, and if it doesn’t smell like cooking [which is quite often ;)] it smells heavenly. I have peace of mind that what I am cleaning my home with is not detrimental to my family’s health or contributing to their toxic load. With the addition of a lot of plants and regularly opening the windows the air quality is better than it was.
I am really trying to become a plant lady but my thumb is not green, so if you have any tips for me please reach out! I seem to be dealing with creepy crawlers that are giving me the heebie jeebies.
A note on essential oils
Not all essential oils are created equal. It is an industry that is not regulated. A lot of oils are adulterated meaning they have other things added to them which could make them more harmful than beneficial. A rule of thumb to go by is that if they are cheap or you need more than a few drops or feel greasy to the touch don’t use them. It is important to do your research with essential oils (as with any product you use) and use a brand you trust and feel safe to use.
I feel confident using DoTerra Essential Oils because of their testing, their ethical sourcing practices and fair jobs they create in the countries the plants are grown. I also feel confident because of the first hand results I have seen using these oils. They are an empowering tool in our home that allows everyone to feel responsible and accountable for their health. If you have any questions or want to learn more, please don’t hesitate to reach out!