Monday, 23 January 2017

On Natural Living // Everyday Essential Oils


When I first stumbled onto essential oils about a year ago, I knew I was onto something. Natural, organic, invigorating, remedial... they ticked all the boxes. But experience has taught me, that you should only recommend something once you've had experience, so I held myself back and refused to write this blog post until I was sure I could genuinely endorse with a genuine voice.

So here I am.



I have long been a fan of natural products... my instinct being that the more natural something is, the better it is. It's not always the easiest route to go down... a gorgeous scented candle, an easily retrieved bottle of antibiotics and multipurpose cleaner from the supermarket are some of the less "natural" products that have entered our home over the past few years... but the more I began to read about some of the side-effects of these more synthetic approaches to daily life, the more I became aware that perhaps they weren't doing our family a whole lot of good... and that's where my journey into exploring other, more natural options, began.

I am the hugest advocate of modern medicine... our youngest daughter would not be here without the intervention of the NHS and I will forever be grateful for the care that the NHS has given us, and continue to give us, on numerous occasions. Modern Medicine is vital, and necessary... and scientific breakthroughs, vaccinations and antibiotics used in the right way have transformed our society for the better. But I was becoming aware that I was using medicine as a first point of call, when actually, with a little bit of research, I realised that nature sometimes had some solutions to the more minor illnesses we face throughout the winter months that were better for our bodies in the long run... and that I could help ease, and even solve, some of the health problems we were facing with products I had sitting in the larder.

But that medicine cabinet is for another post... because one of the new discoveries I made, was the incredible power of essential oils.

In short, essential oils are just that. The essence of the plants and herbs from which they come; removed by resin tapping, cold-pressing and steam-distilation they are the purest form of the botanicals from which they stem, and are, therefore, much more powerful. One drop of peppermint oil is the equivalent of 28 cups of peppermint tea! For hundreds and hundreds of years, plants and herbs have proven their worth in preventing and healing sickness all over the world. It makes sense to me that God would make a world with everything needed to keep that world healthy... Of course it's a broken world, and that's why sickness, pain and, ultimately, death exist, but it makes sense that the original Eden would have had everything mankind needed to thrive. And as is the case with every result of the fall, we still see little glimpses of how things should have been, albeit imperfect glimpses...

And so I began investigating the wonderful world of essential oils, and, in essence, we've been using them in three different ways over the past year... To help create a sense of calm and wellbeing in our home, to respond to any bugs or illness that inevitably come and to replace some of the more toxic and unhealthy products we have been using in our home... 

Creating a sense of calm and wellbeing...



I have always been a fan of scented candles... There is something about the sense of smell which has a huge impact on our ability to relax and there is something about candles that just creates a calming atmosphere. But a lesser known fact, is that the candles we tend to buy in the shops are, in fact, not very good for us at all. In fact, the smoke from candles (excluding beeswax and soy candles, pictured above) contains toxins which have been linked to cancer, asthma and eczema. It's strong stuff to hear for a girl who has always had a good batch of scented candles on the go! Using essential oils in a diffuser (whether a reed diffuser or a cold diffuser) has the same calming effect without any of the dangerous toxins entering your home, and if you really miss the candles themselves, then soy and beeswax as opposed to the more common paraffin, are the way to go. For a reed diffuser, simply combine a carrier oil like coconut oil, sweet almond oil or evening primrose oil with a few drops of your favourite essential oil and voila! For a cold diffuser, 100ml of cold water with 4 or 5 drops of your oils of choice will keep your diffuser running all day long, keeping your air toxin free! Even better, you can adapt and change the scents depending on your mood or need at the time!


Responding to the onset of bugs and illness...

Illness is inevitable... no matter how much you try and beef up your immunity with vitamins, a healthy balanced diet and watch your little people's hygiene, I have found with three small ones that winters are guaranteed to bring us a few bugs along the way. From the smallest cough and cold, to the nasty D&V viruses that roll around each year. All too often, the "virus" label means that Doctor's are unable to do anything except encourage us to ride it out... and watching your little one ride out difficult symptoms can be really hard.

Relieving some discomfort is where these lovely little oils come in... over the past year, they have massively helped with coughs, colds and congestion, stomach aches, muscle ache and sleeplessness, and that's just with the four little oils I started off with! So in case you were interested, I thought I'd share some of the essential oils we've been using for minor bugs and illnesses... please note I am NOT a Doctor, but these are remedies I have researched and they are all things I have used on our own family this past twelve months... (to clarify, I do not use essential oils on Jonas yet... I will probably wait until he's three or so, and then very cautiously and sparingly).


Coughs and Colds:
* Diffuse eucalyptus oil in the bedroom as children sleep (using either a cold or reed diffuser)... eucalyptus is an antiviral and a decongestant and very effective at clearing blocked airways!
* As an adult, pour steaming water into a bowl and add a couple of drops of eucalyptus, tea-towel over the head and it works wonders! (Not recommended for children!)

Stomach Aches/nausea:
* A drop or two of peppermint oil in a carrier oil (something like sweet almond oil) rubbed onto the tummy can help relieve discomfort. Putting in on the feet can be an alternative.

Rising temperature:
Either lemon or peppermint oil, diluted in a carrier oil, can be really helpful on the chest, or bottom of the feet. They are both coolants and will help regulate the body's temperature in a natural way. If the temperature is feverish, however (anything over 38 degrees), I would personally return to good old-fashioned calpol. As a family unable to use ibuprofen due to Heidi's medication, its nice to have some alternatives to use alongside the calpol as well.


Muscle ache:
As a kid I was prone to sore legs at bed time (commonly known as growing pains) and its sadly a trait I seem to have passed on to both girls... A drop of lavender in 10ml of carrier oil on the muscle area that's hurting has proven to help. Another trick we've found with this is that downing a glass of cold water seems to get rid of leg pains in the space of 5 minutes - who knew!!


Sleeplessness:

Nothing does the job like good old lavender! Proven to send the children off to sleep at the drop of a hat! And with my recent insomnia problems (thank you pregnancy!) it has truly been a lifesaver. Either in a carrier oil on the bottom of the feet, or, as I've been using, a couple of drops on the bed linen work wonders!

PLEASE note, if using oils topically, always dilute them in a carrier oil (sweet almond, or coconut oil are good examples). Oils are very strong and need to be used with caution. The dilution amounts will be stated on the bottle, but increased dilution is necessary forchildren. This dilution guide is really helpful.

It is also advised not to use essential oils topically during pregnancy, if so, you should check with a medical professional first.

Replacing toxic products around the home...

I heard this week that "the air inside our homes is 3 to 5 times more toxic than the air outside"... it's a statistic that's come from the Environmental Protection Agency and has been backed by the World Health Organisation... its a sobering statistic, and one that can leave us feeling pretty helpless and overwhelmed. Toxins lurk in our paint, our flooring, our furniture, our beauty products and, one of the most guilty subjects are those cleaning products that fill our cupboards.


Yet again, essential oils offer a toxin-free alternative. For a basic cleaning spray for wiping and dusting purposes, combine 250ml water with 20 drops of lemon oil. Lemon is the powerhouse oil for cleaning recipes as its naturally antiviral and antibacterial. If lemon's not your thing, reduce the lemon to 10 drops and add 10 drops of lavender to it - lavender is another antibacterial oil, and it smells amazing...

For a spray that's a bit more robust, you'll need to get some vinegar involved! 70ml of white vinegar, combined with 700ml of water and ten drops of your oil of choice (lemon, eucalyptus and lavender are good for their antibacterial qualities) and voila, you have a mild disinfectant spray that you can use all over the house!

Cleaning products containing oils will need to be housed in coloured glass bottles to stop them losing their effect... I got the spray bottle above from Amazon and its serving me well!

Honestly, I could write and write about all the fun we've had with these four little bottles the last 12 months. They are not perfect. They are not the answer to everything... and they certainly don't solve every problem (to find out where we do go for answers, click here!) But they have helped me to find alternative, safer answers for our family as a first point of call, and for that, I'm truly grateful.

Many of you have already messaged and contacted me with questions about our essential oils journey over the past year, and I want to reiterate that I am by no means an expert. These are still early days for us... so please, please, if you are going to pursue a similar route, if you are similarly nervous about the over-exposure of your family to products that are harmful to them, please do your own research.

And in terms of what oils to invest in? If you are starting out, and wanting simply to investigate, then my top five recommendations would be...

* Lavender
* Peppermint
* Lemon
* Eucalyptus
* Tea Tree (this is next on my list)

And a good starter carrier oil which doesn't break the budget is Sweet Almond Oil.

Please remember, though these tiny bottles may seem expensive for their size (anything upwards of £4 for 10ml), you are using mere drops, so they will last you FOREVER! I bought ours a year ago, and none of them are more than a quarter used up! A worthwhile investment!

Lastly, thought I am very much a beginner, there are lots of wise voices out there who aren't... I've included a few links to some helpful people below.

Please ask any questions, or tell me about your own essential oil experiences in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you!



Some really helpful resources...



And where to buy pure Essential Oils in the UK...
Holland and Barratt - Sell a brand called Miaroma which are budget friendly, and frequently have deals of some description... keep an eye out! (They've got a penny sale at the moment!)
TK Maxx - Sell essential oils at knock off prices, but don't have the full collection. It's worth checking in now and again to see if they've got what you're after





9 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you posted this as I've recently been looking into them! .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard a lot of feedback like that... I think people are hearing more and more about all the stuff that's bad for us, and wanting to find alternatives! I hope its been helpful!

      Delete
  2. Rain_makesmesmile23 January 2017 at 22:14

    A really interesting post at a time where I feel it's something I should look into!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! Really interesting Claire. Thanks for that. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have found the whole thing so fascinating, and feel like I've only scraped the surface!

      Delete
  4. Wow, this is a really informative helpful blog, thank you Claire. I've heard Rosemary is excellent for colds too - can you get that as an oil? You've inspired me, too, to make my own reed diffuser oil. I'm v fussy and don't like many of them plus they're so expensive. Can i ask what a cold diffuser is? And where did you get your 'hot diffuser' from? Sx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I think you can get Rosemary oil... I shall have to look into it! The diffuser pictured is a cold diffuser that I got on Amazon... They still have this exact one on now! You basically put 100ml of cold water into it, add a couple of drops of your essential oil of choice and voila! It also turns itself off once the water runs out, so it's safe to leave diffusing in your room overnight! Great when the kids are bunged up with colds and you can get the eucalyptus going all night!

      Delete
  5. This is wonderful information. Can you please provide a link to the diffuser you have? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your comments! Thanks for stopping by!