Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Latest Obsession: Essential Oils for Wellness and Detoxification

This summer I got hooked on essential oils. It started innocently enough with 3, then grew to 10, then 25 with more on the way as I write. I think I might need an intervention soon, but what better thing to be addicted to than something that has amazing health properties? I used to think essential oils were just for giving things a nice aroma. I had a few in my pantry that I used for desserts like lavender, orange and lemon. I was completely unaware of their magical powers and how useful they can be for daily wellness.

So what are essential oils you might be asking? They are chemical compounds distilled or pressed from flowers, leaves, bark, roots, stems, fruits, and resin of plants and trees. They can be used 3 different ways:
Aromatically: you can inhale them straight from the bottle, rub a drop between your hands and inhale or use in a diffuser to fill a room. Essential oil compounds are so small, they are able to enter the blood brain barrier within seconds and go to the cells that need help and repair. Their positive mood altering and calming effects can be felt within seconds.
Topically: some oils can be applied without dilution (neat) while some need to be diluted in a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba, or almond seed oil. Within 30 seconds of applying essential oils it enters the bloodstream and goes to whatever parts of the body need supporting.
Internally: put a drop or more in your drinking water or place drops in an empty veggie capsule (you can find these at health food stores) and take them like a vitamin.

It's super important that you use very pure therapeutic grade oils as there is little regulation in the oil business. A product only needs to have 1 drop of pure oil in the bottle to be able to label it as 100% pure. The remainder can be synthetic or diluted essential oil. How crazy is that?? Plus most brands can only be used aromatically as they are too toxic or caustic to be ingested or applied topically. What I love about the doTerra oils is that don't go to a broker to get the oils, they actually source each oil from their indigenous area all over the world. Their lemon oil comes from Italy, the lavender from France and the Frankincense is from Jordan. They oversee that each oil is harvested at the right time and steam distilled or pressed at low temperatures to not degrade the oils. Every oil is truly 100% pure and unadulterated, creating a very potent product. They are 50-70% more powerful than herbs and so potent, in fact, that just one drop of their peppermint oil is the equivalent to 26 cups of peppermint tea!

The new modern medicine cabinet.
So what can they do? Almost all essential oils are antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and/or antimicrobial. Some have antidepressant, analgesic, antiseptic, anti-tumor and anti-parasitic properties among other things. Some of my daily go-to oils are:

Lemon: I use a drop or two in my drinking water to use as a daily cleanser. It has the ability to break down petrochemicals and other toxins in the body as well as parasites. It has a considerable amount of limonene (as do all citrus), a very potent anti-cancer and anti-bacterial compound. You can also put a few drops in a spray bottle with water and spray kitchen and bathroom counters, door knobs and other places that harbor germs. Hospitals in Europe sanitize their rooms and kill airborne germs with lemon oil. Lemon oil is also an antihistamine, stimulates white blood cell production and assists the liver to detoxify.

Lavender: I rub this on the bottom of my feet at night. Lavender is very good at calming the mind and inducing a good nights sleep. This is great for babies and kids who are restless at night. Our feet have the largest pores on our body which is why it's a great spot for applying essential oils. Lavender is considered the Swiss army knife of essential oils since it can be used for almost anything. Everything from skin conditions to headaches to immune support to emotional distress and muscle pains.

Peppermint: When my cat allergies flare up I put 2 drops peppermint, 2 drops lemon and 2 drops lavender into a capsule and swallow it. Voila! No more allergies. I also love to put a drop of peppermint into my water with lemon oil for a pick me up or rub a little on the back of my neck to cool and revive me when I'm feeling sluggish. Just smelling it puts me in the best mood. Maybe it reminds me of when I used to eat Junior Mints (swoon...I mean, gross, it's all corn syrup). It's also great to put on the temples when you have a headache or on the bottom of the feet to reduce a fever. It's also great to add a drop to tea to aid indigestion.

Melaleuca: also known as "tea tree" oil, I use this every night over my face to treat and prevent blemishes. It's great as a skin aid for burns, cuts, eczema and shingles and has very powerful antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic, and antifungal properties. Use it on the feet to help eliminate candida or athlete's foot or dab it on a cold sore, wart or an achy tooth. It stimulates the immune system, and can be used to fight colds, flu and other illnesses. It has so many uses, I recommend everyone have this one in their medicine cabinet.

Wild Orange: Honestly, I have been huffing this oil like crazy and still can't get enough. I put a drop into my Yerba mate tea every morning and diffuse it into the living room. I carry it around in my purse and sometimes I even wear it as perfume (mixed with a little coconut oil so it lasts longer). I got a diffuser for my car so I could be a less aggressive LA driver and guess what? it worked! Citrus has mood lifting properties and is amazing as an anti-depressant, and like the lemon oil, it contains many of the same antibacterial and cancer fighting abilities. Wild orange is also great for liver, gland and tissue detoxification.

All of the above oils, except for the melaleuca, can also be used in desserts and other recipes. There are some other doTerra oils I'm planning to add to my culinary arsenal like basil, cilantro, black pepper, cinnamon and thyme. All of which have amazing health properties as well.

I've really only scratched the surface of what these oils can do. I highly recommend trying some out for yourself and see if you don't get hooked on them. What is so great is that these oils are a gift from nature that work so intelligently in our bodies. The pharmaceutical companies have based their formulations on mimicking what nature has already given us but with terrible side effects. There are little to no side effects with these oils. A word of caution, though, when using citrus oils topically. Avoid sunlight for at least 12 hours as they can make the skin photosensitive. If you're pregnant I recommend avoiding most oils for the first trimester (citrus oils are OK) and use them sparingly for the 2nd and 3rd trimester and only topically and aromatically. For everyone else, these are a great addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Have fun huffing!

For more info or to get a free sample from the doTerra line of essential oils click here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sugar Free Superfood Chocolate Shake

One of my favorite superfood companies, Navitas Naturals, is kicking off their Back To Basics Smoothment today. I call it a festival of smoothies. You get daily videos and recipes on how to make nutrient dense, superfood smoothies plus you can enter to win $300 in Navitas Natural products. Click here to sign up!

So just to get you jazzed up, I came up with a sugar free chocolate smoothie for all you low glycemic peeps out there who, like myself, just don't handle sugar well. This is a great afternoon pick me up or meal replacement. It's thick and rich with hemp seeds to bump up the protein and add some essential fatty acids plus powdered wheatgrass for a shot of chlorophyll. What I love about their wheatgrass powder is that you can't taste it at all, and I'm a person who REALLY dislikes the flavor of wheatgrass. You could easily add more to this smoothie if you wanted without affecting the flavor. This is also really versatile, so play around with other superfoods like Navitas maca powder or medicinal mushrooms like reishi and chaga if you're into those (I am!!). Also, use your favorite sweetener. I used xylitol to make it low glycemic but use whatever floats your boat.


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