Linda at Litebeing Chronicles has a month long blogging challenge going on about delighting in our senses. Join in if you are a blogger and read (and watch) my post here.
For Men’s Health Month I put together a list of natural help for thinning and even graying hair. These issues are not just men’s issues of course, but they do seem to suffer the earliest and most severely when it comes to thinning hair. Overall nutrition and lifestyle play a role, as well as genetics, but there are things you can do to help your hair remain vibrant and healthy. Check out the post here, and please share it with anyone who might be looking for a little help in the hair department.
Hello everyone! I’ve been quiet here lately b/c I’ve been working on a new blog site which I can’t wait to share with you. I started Spice of Life Blog right after finishing grad school when I just wanted a place to write again in a way that wasn’t in the grad school genre and reclaim my personal voice. Now I’m ready to start putting more time into a blog and although I thought about just reworking this space a bit, it quickly became clear I needed a new look, new categories, new everything, and so instead of a remodel, I guess I’m moving houses. I so hope you’ll join me!
Much like this one, my new blog will be about herbs, food intolerances (both managing and healing them), essential oils, natural foods/products, and green beauty. In the future I hope to have links to other herbalists and wellness practitioners around the world as a kind of virtual healing center resource. I also intend to offer herbal classes and tutorials there as well, and perhaps even some products. This is just the beginning and I hope to see you there at my new site, Botanical Alchemy & Apothecary. Please subscribe and let me know what you think about the new look. I’m still in the setting up phase and welcome suggestions.
PS~ If you know anyone else who is interested in herbs, essential oils, food intolerances, natural foods and products, and green beauty, please share the address: www.botanicalalchemyandapothecary.com with them. I can’t wait to have a community of like-minded people sharing ideas and growing and learning together.
Happy October everyone!
You can make your own natural perfumes at home and avoid the chemicals found in other perfumes which can be hazardous to your health. Essential oils are not only good for your health and well-being, they are also good for the environment too. You can use other ingredients besides essential oils, such as olive oil infused with rose petals or lavender, a hydrosol such as rosemary or orange, or even vanilla extract. This video shows how to make a perfume with just essential oils and it’s so easy, you’ll never want to buy a bottle of perfume again. (But you can reuse the perfume bottles you do have!)
The biggest thing is, don’t get hung up on proportions. There are no hard and fast rules, just start with a high proof alcohol like vodka or a base oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil, then add 10 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of base (the vodka or oil.) Add more essential oils if it isn’t strong enough. It’s really that easy!
If you don’t know where to begin, I have gathered some essential oil combinations from different sources on my pinterest board called Essential Oils. Really though, you can just start with one essential oil that you know you love, and if you want, combine it, one drop at a time with another essential oil you like. Combining scents can be surprising in that the results are often far different than you imagined, and even oils that you may not have considered alike in any way can end up complementing each other beautifully.
Most of the time when I make perfume oils it’s all about the scent. (I have a couple of videos about making them, here and here.) This is different though, this one is all about the emotional benefits with my essential oil picks based solely on their traditionally recognized benefits for reducing anxiety and stress. I chose sunflower oil for the base because it hardly has any scent of its own so it carries the e.o. scents quite well. The essential oils I’m using are Neroli, known to decrease nervous tension and apprehension, so much so that Neroli blossoms used to frequently be placed in wedding bouquets, Clary Sage which is a happy scent, sometimes even described as euphoric and elation-promoting, and Lavender which is a relaxing scent. To make the blend, simply add the base oil (I use a funnel to reduce spillage) to the clean, empty bottle of choice. In the picture I have a clear, 1/3 oz. bottle, but I actually ended up using a dark amber bottle instead because dark-colored glass helps the essential oils stay fresh longer. In a 1/3 oz bottle I’d add about 12 drops of essential oils total, and in a 1/2 oz bottle size I’d add 15-18 drops total. For this blend none of the oils are exceptionally strong so I decided to add equal amounts to the base oil, so 4 drops of each oil went into the bottle. Always cap your blends right away and shake them, or better yet, roll them in your hands to mix the ingredients together. The blend is then ready to use but it will deepen and change a bit over a month’s time. Keep it out of direct light and heat for best results, and then use on pulse points to reduce nervousness and stress. Always remember to shake the bottle before using to make sure the essential oils are well mixed. This is so easy that even the most stressed out person can manage to do this without so much as a toddler sized tantrum or clenched jaw. Don’t forget to write down your personal blend formula for future reference, and also to label the bottle accordingly. I labeled mine ‘breathe’ so I remember to check on the quality of my breathing when I’m reaching for a stress-reducing scent. A mantra I learned a long time ago comes in handy at those moments: Breathe in the future, breathe out the past. The sweet spot is in-between the breath in and breath out which can only be recognized as the present. Let me know what your favorite stress-reducing techniques are. I’d love to hear them!
This is timely considering we are enduring the longest winter ever here in the Pacific Northwest. I often take St. John’s Wort to ward of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but for some reason I didn’t this year and right about now, I’m regretting it. The rain is dreary and we are all weary. The only good thing is that when it does start to dry up and warm up it’s going to be fantastic. And when it does, those taking St. John’s Wort should be aware that it can make one more photosensitive, therefore be sure to be a bit more diligent with wearing sunscreen or however you protect your skin. I love the whole cycle of that though~ Vitamin D is connected to SAD, we get Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, St. John’s Wort ups our ability to receive from the sun, St. John’s Wort is known as an effective antidepressant. I’ve written a bit about this same increased photo-sensitivity affect before concerning antidepressant citrus essential oils. Herbs are magical. Here’s some scientific proof:
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum, Hypericaceae) St. John’s wort (SJW; Hypericum perforatum, Hypericaceae) aerial parts are a popular treatment for depression, and many countries in Europe prescribe SJW for that purpose. According to the authors, SJW has been well researched; however, the results are conflicting. The last large published meta-analysis was conducted in 2008, and […]
One of the easiest ways to use essential oils is to make up a spray that can be used on your body or in a room to freshen up and influence the atmosphere. You basically just need a spray bottle, distilled water, and whatever essential oils you want to use. I have a video about it also, or you can just follow along here:I also use a funnel to fill the spray bottles with distilled water, just to be on the safe side, and I always write down what I make in a notebook. And when I say ‘always’ I mean I always intend to write it down, though unfortunately, that doesn’t quite always happen.
It’s best to use dark-colored glass, generally found in brown or blue (I’d love charcoal colored glass bottles~ why doesn’t anyone make those?) but plastic or aluminum will do. If you use clear glass then be sure to store your goodies in a cool, dark place, they will last longer and smell sweeter for it.
That brown glass bottle as well as the aluminum one above hold 4 oz or 1/2 cup of distilled water and the blue glass container holds 6 oz or 3/4 cup. For the smaller containers I’ll add 20-40 drops of essential oils, depending on how strong they are. For the larger bottle, 30-50 drops will do it.
As for deciding which essential oils, it really depends entirely on what you want~ something that smells of flowers (Ylang Ylang and Jasmine?) Or forests (Cedarwood and Pine)? Something anxiety relieving (Lavender and Neroli)? Something to help you remember to write down your essential oil recipes (Rosemary)? There are endless possibilities so it really helps to get to the root of why you are making the spray. I generally have an uplifting daytime spray that I use all day long, and a calming nighttime spray I use before bedtime. That aluminum spray bottle if filled with Thieves oil and distilled water to use for antibacterial/antiviral uses which has been used all too often this wet winter season.
Even though I use the daytime spray more often, I have to put it in the smaller bottle because visually the dark blue bottle reminds me of night and the Lavender and Sandalwood that resides in it, while the brown bottle reminds me of my favorite daytime mixture which is Bergamot and Clary Sage. (Bergamot is in Earl Grey tea so I guess that explains the brown connection.) Together they produce an uplifting spray that is antidepressant and smells incredible good, lightly floral with a hint of citrus-y sunniness.
Another combination I like to use for day use is Rosemary and Orange, which is the combination I use in my diffuser every morning to get my mind jump-started and influence my mood to be a bit sunnier despite the early hour. Rosemary is the classic brain herb especially benefiting memory, while all citrus oils are great mood enhancers and are stimulating thus perfect for morning. They do increase photo-sensitivity so that is something to be aware of when using them. I’ve written before about how cool that actually is because of the whole sun-D-seasonal affected disorder connection, so I won’t repeat myself but it’s worth reflecting on how brilliant nature really is.
Here’s what I made today (and I actually did remember to write these in my notebook already~ thank you Rosemary!)
4 oz distilled water
20 drops bergamot
20 drops clary sage
And Night Spray:
6 oz distilled water
30 drops lavender
10 drops sandalwood
I should note that many people put alcohol such as vodka in their sprays in an effort to keep the scent around longer. I do not do this because I find the alcohol scent lingers longer than the essential oils and that is not a smell I personally enjoy, but there are plenty of recipes online if you want to experiment with adding alcohol to your sprays.
Have fun experimenting and here’s a link to aura cacia’s recipe page which has all kinds of inspiration on it should you find yourself in a creative mood. And lastly, don’t forget to label what you make~ all it takes is a bit of paper and tape to keep straight what’s for day and what’s for night. And do shake your mixtures to blend them well. Valerie Worwood who has written many best-selling aromatherapy books including The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy says to rub your palms together with the bottle between your hands for best blending.
Sorry about that weird picture with my hands looking way too large to be human, but it’s a hard thing to describe so I had my son take this pic of me doing it and this is the best we got. Enjoy your herbal crafting!
This morning I was reminded of how herbs as essential oils are just part of my family’s everyday life, making it better, healthier, sweeter smelling, and even a little sillier. Before getting out of bed, I heard my oldest son sniffle a couple of times. The boys went skiing yesterday so I wasn’t overly concerned, but I did put some Thieves oil into my little diffuser instead of my usual morning wake-me-up blend. Thieves oil has a great story to it, though whether it is more history or mythology is anyone’s guess. I like to think the story had to start somewhere, so why not in an actual event? The story has several variations, but basically they all say something along the lines of this: During the Middle Ages there were four thieves in France who used to rob the graves (or the houses) of those who had died of the Plague and managed to not get ill themselves. When they were eventually caught, they were given a lighter punishment in return for telling how they did it. The four thieves admitted they used herbs (most likely soaked in vinegar at that time) to keep themselves from getting the disease. They knew how to do this because among them were perfumers and spice traders who at the time understood the anti-biotic and anti-viral properties of their goods. Their blend has passed down to us through all these centuries, though the actual recipes vary depending on who’s making it. Usually the blends include: clove, lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon and rosemary, and then different makers add in their own special favorites. You can find it as Thieves Oil, Four Thieves Oil, Bandits Oil, and I’m sure other names as well.
The boys and I use it almost everyday. I have added Thieves Oil to almond oil (10 drops per ounce of base oil) and put it in a glass roller bottle so we can easily apply it. I like to rub my whole neck with it but the boys are pickier. Since it was at first difficult to convince them to start rubbing themselves with this perfume-like substance I resorted to telling them they had my permission to write swear words on themselves with this oil. They found that to be hilarious and even now, after months of this, my youngest still takes the oil from me with mischievous glee and waits for me to pull a face of shock and horror as he writes something spectacularly naughty on his arm. Whatever works.
You can make your own as there are plenty of recipes online, or just buy it already blended at any Whole Foods or herbal shop. I’m using Uncle Harry’s Four Bandits Anti-germ blend right now and realized after I bought it that the company is based right here in Redmond, WA, where I live! Now that’s pretty cool.
Every single day I use herbs in a multitude of ways and they are not necessarily ‘curing’ anything (although they might be!) nor are they making me super-human. What they do is enhance daily life in meaningful, beautiful ways and I’m on a mission to get others to think about herbs as enhancing their lives, instead of thinking of them in a pharmaceutical way. If people can change the way they think of herbs, they are far more likely to start using them and enjoying their benefits, which is great in itself but also it is beneficial because herbs work best as promoters of long-term balance, so not only would one get the most out of one’s herbal usage, one would also be able to retain balance and avoid imbalances (dis-ease). In other words, more herbs means less drugs, less sicknesses, less doctor visits. Now I’m all for modern medicine~ absolutely would not turn back time to any romantic bygone era because I wouldn’t want to lose access to our modern medical wonders. I am most definitely not talking about replacing modern medicine with herbs~ if you have a medical issue, go to the doctor. Herbs can do so much more though, and if you start incorporating them in your life, it’s my firm belief you’ll have less medical issues for which you need to go to the doctor. And even though modern medicine may be full of wonders, the truth is not many people enjoy the time spent in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or going through the newest medical techniques~ miraculous or not. This attitude reminds me of the slow food movement so I like to think of it as slow health. Herbs alone won’t make a person healthy, but thinking long-term about health is a great way to start thinking about your personal tendencies and imbalances and how to counteract those things long-term. Many things might help: exercise, yoga, dietary changes, brain games, homeopathy, social changes, journaling, essential oils…the list can go on and on because we are all such different individuals. At a time of year when so many of us are reviewing our daily lives and resolving to do better, be better, I hope in the rush towards better-ness we can all pause and instead of just downloading a new app on our smart phones to track diets, or upping goals on fitbits, we can all think of slowing down this rush which is itself out of balance. Perhaps the best part of adding herbs into daily life is the connection with nature that moment provides.
If you own one essential oil, it’s most likely lavender. Add a drop to your pillow tonight, or several drops to your bath and enjoy herbalism that way. In other words, you don’t have to drink an herbal tea or take a tincture in order to benefit from herbs, there is a world of beauty in essential oils that can be tapped through so many ways. Not that there is anything wrong with herbal infusions or tinctures, but if you are new to the world of herbs, I recommend starting with something fully pleasurable and beautiful and hopefully it will whet your appetite to investigate more in the herbal world. Health regimes do not need to be unpleasant~ enjoy creating your optimal health. It’s a beautiful thing.
My son woke up yesterday with a nasty cough. It was the middle of the night when he first started coughing (isn’t that always the case?) so I put some lavender on his pillow to help him sleep and help him fight off the cold. He did sleep but the cold set in unfortunately, although it isn’t a bad one with only a cough and runny nose keeping him home from school. He is full of energy and doesn’t have a fever which make it especially hard for him to just sit around the house sniffing and coughing. He’s been using a sinus rinse but his nose just fills back up immediately, so I went in search of my Eucalyptus oil.
They have been stored in a cool dark place though and still smell vibrant and active. Of all the oils in the box though, I could not find the one I wanted, Eucalyptus, and my son said it is kind of like trying to find the right Lego in a box of loose Legos. You just never find the one you want…
These aren’t all the oils, just the ones not in heavy use. I have some in our bathroom and several in our kitchen in two different holding areas. But after checking all those places, there was no Eucalyptus to be found, BUT, I did find a combination that works just as well~ E-M-C, which stands for Eucalyptus, Menthol, and Camphor. After put some liberally on the front of his clothing I added it to our diffuser and we both found ourselves breathing easier. It is such a fresh scent and it is amazing how it works through the gunk that likes to clog sinuses and allow for deep breathing. E-M-C is also great for sore muscles. If you have ever used Tiger Balm or Ben-gay, you’ll understand why. We will rotate oils throughout the day and happily I found a handy old essential oil chart which lists oils I hadn’t even thought of as good for colds and coughs. Here are the lists with the ones good for both in bold:
Colds: Angelica, Basil, Benzoin, Black pepper, Camphor, Cinnamon, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Garlic, Ginger, Marjoram, Peppermint, and Tea-tree.
For Coughs: Angelica, Aniseed, Benzoin, Bergamot (drink Earl Grey Tea!), Bois de Rose, Camphor, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Frankincense
We all could use help remembering to breath deeply and easily. Having essential oils around is a good way to remind oneself to do just that.