Friday, September 16, 2011

Aaaaah, Aromatherapy

I've always been very fond of all kinds of nice smelling stuff, cosmetics, perfume, home fragrance, cleaning products that make everything smell nice, etc. Little did I know that most of those things pose serious health risks because of the chemicals used to create all these nice smells. Sad truth is that most of the products listed above, especially cosmetics which we all love to lather ourselves with, have an abundance of artificially created fragrances and all other kinds of chemicals in them. Add everyday exposure to that and your risk of serious health issues is guaranteed. Just pick up one of your favorite lotions or your kitchen counter cleaner and read the ingredients. Go ahead, read it. What's the problem? Can't pronounce most of the words on that ingredient list? That's exactly what I am talking about. If you're like me, there's very little chance you can remember which of the chemicals are safe and which are closer to toxic when you're barely able to pronounce them.

So my rule of thumb is the simpler the better. Better yet is if you make it yourself. Some may say it's too much hassle. But no one is talking about making anything complicated. Good things are often simple. It was with that thought in mind that I began learning about essential oils. When I was pregnant I made anti-stretchmark oil for my stomach and hips. This oil blend was based on jojoba carrier oil, included 25 % of rose-hip oil(very rich with vitamin E which improves skin elasticity), a few drops of chamomile oil, lavender and patchouli. The result? I don't have a single stretch mark! For those nay sayers who would object that some people have more elastic skin - I'll tell you a secret - I had a few stretch marks before from losing a few pounds ;) So I knew that could be my problem, that's why I made the oil in the first place! Well, another thing is to be consistent using it daily, once a week won't do most likely.

Since I have a 9 month old who loves to crawl everywhere exploring her surroundings I make sure my floors are squeaky clean. After all, she puts those hands back into her mouth right away. Since I got rid of most of my harsh chemical cleaning supplies a while ago I had to come up with a good enough alternative, something that cleans and disinfects. My solution was 1 gallon of water, 5 drops of lavender oil, 5 drops of lemon oil. I wash the floors like that every other day and don't need to worry about chemical residue that might be licked off the floor by the crawling baby. The reason why I picked those two oils is that they both have a very strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal action. They are also not very expensive and quite safe (some oils are rather toxic and must be used sparingly). The rooms smell very nice for the next few hours as well.

Which brings me to my new take on home fragrance. I've always loved all those nice smelling candles and air fresheners. Again, same danger - they are full of hormone disrupting, cancer causing and immunotoxic chemicals. The safe solution? You guessed it - essential oils. The best part, you create your own fragrance, just the way you like it. For me that is a big plus because I am very picky about smells. Most of those scented room fresheners are too strong for my nose. So a tea light candle in a diffuser and a few drops of oil mixed into water work really well for me.

Another plus of using essential oils is that there's a certain health benefit to their use. It continues to amaze me how many different uses same oils can have, especially if combined with others. Just a few examples:
-lavender oil (my most favorite) is a very powerful antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, sedative. It really works for headaches, by the way. In combination with chamomile and Shea butter it is a wonderful ointment for sunburns - soothes and helps the skin heal.
-chamomile oil is a good immunostimulant, antibiotic, anti-inflamatory, sedative. It helps with insomnia, especially in combination with lavender oil. In combination with myrrh oil in a base of almond oil it works miracles healing diaper rashes, cracked skin, minor cuts and scrapes. I simply love this oil because of how versatile and effective it is. I have also been using it in baths for my baby since she was a newborn.
-eucalyptus oil has strong antiseptic and anti-fungal properties and is very effective with all kinds of breathing problems such as asthma, stuffy nose, coughs, etc.
-ti-tree oil is a great tonic, also strong antiseptic and anti-fungal. It is safe to use undiluted, works wonders on warts, pimples, sores and other yuckity-yucky stuff. I found it very useful for insect bites, it takes off the itch right away.
Again, these are just a few examples. There are so many more and with more useful healthful properties.

Shopping for the oils is not that difficult either. Most places like WholeFoods, Sprouts, local health food stores carry a good selection. And if there's something you cannot find in a store there's always numerous places to order from online. Here are some of my most favorite ones and the reasons I like them:
100% Pure Essential Oils (free shipping option, periodic sale discounts)
AromaLand (free shipping option, email coupons)
Mountain Rose Herbs (very wide selection, periodic sale discounts)

Now as far as cost it might seem like quite a luxury because some oils get quite expensive. When i began creating my selection of oils and the necessary accessories (like droppers, little glass bottles, etc.) I ended up spending slightly over $100. Some may think 'Yikes! Maybe I'll go buy that Clorox after all'... But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Of all the stuff I bought, I still have most of it. In the last year the only thing I reordered was lavender chamomile oils. That is because I use them the most, for about anything. So if you do your calculations, using some oils a few drops at a time does make your supplies last for a long time so in the end it doesn't come to cost you a whole lot. Frankly, I believe over time it comes out to be about the same as if you were to buy any other type of cleaners and cosmetics. Besides, some stores or websites offer discounts, sales and coupons. For instance, right now there's a coupon for

So, go ahead, give the essential oils a try. I can say for myself that I'm not going back to the artificial chemicals and I'm sticking with aromatherapy!

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