Spring is probably my favorite time of year. Where I live in Florida springtime is the sweet spot between the excruciating, suffocation of hot and humid 99 degree summers, and winter- where when it does (rarely) get cold, it is bone chilling and miserable… see again humidity.
Spring naturally brings about the desire to start anew. Flowers are blooming. It is finally nice to be outside again. New clothing choices emerge from the closet. New activities are on deck for family fun. Spring is the fresh breath of a clean start.
If the desire of spring cleaning hits you hard this time of year I want you to consider a different, and maybe new, concept for spring cleaning. Cleaning up your toxic load.
Lessening your toxic load, or the amount of toxins you expose yourself to, is key to healing your body when you have an autoimmune disease. It is also important in maintaining wellness. Our bodies have decided to wage war against themselves. With our immune system compromised, it is easier for toxins to reek havoc once they seep in. Toxins also interrupt our hormones. Hormones play a role in regulating every function of our body so it is imperative to protect them.
Toxins can be any of the following items:
- Household Cleaning Products
- Dryer Sheets
- Body Care Products (soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc.)
- Food and Beverages (additives and chemicals)
- Air Fresheners
That sounds like a lot doesn’t it? The sad truth is this is a small list of the most common toxins you likely come into contact with on a daily or regular basis. The good news is, each of these items can be replaced with non or less toxic products that work just as well!
One of my favorite ways to lessen my toxin exposure is by using essential oils. Essential oils smell amazing, but it is their natural properties that don’t confuse the body that I love the most. Essential oils are made from plants. Our body’s know how to process them, unlike chemicals what disrupt and cloud the body’s ability to function as it is supposed to. Essential oils offer gentle support and can be used for just about anything from cleaning to first aid to cooking to detoxification. These little plant powerhouses are a force to reckon with!
I have been using essential oils since 2016. They are an everyday fact of life for my family and me. I have seen astounding proof that oils work and I truly believe they are little miracles.
The benefits of essential oils can be gained in three different ways:
Inhaled, Topically and Internally.
To inhale you simply breath the essential oil in. Diffusing essential oils is probably the most well-known way to enjoy essential oils. Another way to inhale an oil, is to place a drop in your hands, rub them together and then cup your hands to your face and breathe in. This method is handy if you don’t have a diffuser around. Get it? Handy? (I hope that made you laugh. If it did not, I’d ask you stop rolling your eyes at my corny joke so you can read the rest of this : ) ). Removing the cap from a bottle of essential oil and drawing in a breath through your nose is another way to inhale the oil.
Topically using an oil would be to place the oil directly on or around an area of concern. Another topical method, and a way to overall expose your body to the oil is to place the oil on the bottoms of your feet or down the spine. Some oils can be applied “neat” meaning directly to the skin. Other oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil before placing on the skin. It is a good practice to dilute all of your oils with a carrier oil or lotion if you are going to apply topically. I will get into carrier oils more at the end of the article.
Lastly, essential oils can also be taken internally means eating or drinking the oil, or taking 1-2 drops in a veggie capsule. Now, I do not mean taking a bottle of essential oil and chugging! One, that would taste awful and secondly, I can promise you would not receive the enjoyment meant when using essential oils. Essential oils are an awesome way to add flavor to your favorite dish. Another option is to place a drop or two of your choice of essential oil into a glass of water and drink. Certain oils should NOT be consumed and it is important to know which ones are safe to take internally. Be sure you confirm the oil can be taken internally before using any oil in this manner.
In the spirit of spring cleaning the toxins in your word, I have complied a list of five of my favorite oils. It was hard to choose just five, but each of these oils are extremely useful and multifaceted. So without further ado, here are the top five oils to incorporate into your life and why.
Lemon is one of the most diverse oils which may explain its massive popularity. Lemon is a powerhouse detoxifier. Full of antibacterial and disinfectant properties it great for cleaning your home and your body.
- Add a couple of drops to water or tea for overall detoxification. Lemon aids the liver and kidneys and helps them to do their job even more efficiently. I personally do this almost daily by adding lemon essential oil to my water or dandelion tea to give my liver extra support. This became especially important to me when I began taking medication for my psoriatic arthritis which poses a risk to my liver function.
- Add lemon to your favorite dish- like lemon butter fish, lemon pepper chicken, or a decadent dessert of lemon squares for a burst of flavor.
- Add lemon to your favorite non-toxic cleaner, like white vinegar, for a cleaning solution. Bonus- you won’t have to worry about residual chemicals!
- Add a few drops of lemon to a large bowl of water and soak fruit and vegetables for 5-10 minutes to remove pesticides and toxins.
- One of my favorite tricks with lemon oil is that it removes the leftover sticky residue after taking off labels and sticker! Place a drop or two on a cotton ball or a paper towel and rub the sticky away.
- Lemon and other citrus oils are uplifting and invigorating to the emotions. Diffuse or apply a drop to your hands and then cup to your face for a quick pick me up.
Lemon is a natural decongestant. If you are suffering from a stuffy nose or sinus pressure, rub a little oil over the affected area (steer clear of your eyes!) to break up congestion. This works for runny noses and allergies as well
Lavender may be as popular as lemon. Possibly more so, actually. Lavender seems to be popping up in every relaxing thing available for purchase. And not without good reason. Lavender is relaxing to both the physical body and emotions. With sedative and antihistamine properties, lavender is the go-to for quite a few issues. Stressed? Lavender is your girl. Need to relax your brain? Lavender. Skin irritation? Yup, Lavender again. Want to sleep better? Get yourself some lavender. Lavender is used very. single. day. in my house.
- Diffuse or inhale lavender to relax the body and mind. Lavender can also be applied to the soles of the feet to achieve the same benefit.
- Place a few drops of lavender into a bath for a nice relaxing soak. Add Epsom salt for a double duty relaxing and detoxing bath!
- Jaw-clenching. Does anyone else clench their jaw when stressed? Apply a little lavender to the back of your jaw just below your ears to relax the muscles. Another great place to use lavender just before bedtime.
- Because of its antihistamines, lavender is great for bug bites and hives. Really any skin irritation. This was what convinced my husband essential oils were not “snake oils” as he once not so jokingly referend to them as.
One evening my husband was bit by something while working out in the yard. His foot immediately swole and it was painful. I grabbed my lavender and applied it to the area every hour for a few hours and the sting and swelling lessened greatly. By the next morning, his foot was basically back to normal, only a little swelling, and by the afternoon his foot was completely back no normal. He was convinced and now asks me to make him blends when he needs something.
- Bumps and bruises, small cuts and skin irritations. Let’s just say I use lavender a LOT with two pre-school aged boys around. Lavender increases cell growth so when it is applied to small cuts it can quicken the healing process. Lavender also has antimicrobial properties so it helps the cut from getting infected.
- Diffuse lavender at night for a calming and restful sleep.
Put 5-10 drops of lavender in a spray bottle, top with distilled water and mist your pillowcase and sheets. It’s seriously heavenly. Just give the bedding a few second to dry… otherwise it’s damp and the heavenliness goes right out the window.
Peppermint is another versatile oil. Peppermint is anti-inflammatory, constricts blood vessels and works to both warm and cool the area where it is applied. It never ceases to amaze me how essential oils work with our bodies to provide the correct relief needed in that moment.
Headaches and Tension:
- Peppermint alleviates tension incredibly well. You may have tight muscle or a massive headache. Apply peppermint to the affected area for near instant relief. To note: I would recommend always using a carrier oil with peppermint rather than putting the oil directly on the skin.
- Apply peppermint down the spine and to the soles of the feet to reduce a fever. Using peppermint in this way is what really convinced of the power of oils. My then one year old had a high fever that wasn’t going down with meds. I applied a peppermint blend down his spine and to his feet twice over an hour and his fever went down immediately after the second application. I kept the blend on him and his fever never spiked above 99 again.
- Peppermint is a great digestive aid. It can be used to relieve stomach discomfort resulting from digestive issues . Put a drop or two in a glass of water or apply over your stomach and watch how quickly your stomach distress fades away.
Nausea and Motion Sickness:
- Feeling unwell? Car ride making you miserable? Peppermint. Inhale a few good whiffs to calm the ickies. This is another Daniels’ family trick on long car trips with our young boys.
Melaleuca is perhaps better known as Tea Tree oil. With its distinct bright and woodsy aroma, this oil is the definition of “anti”. It is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and an anti-congestant… ok that was a stretch, but it is a great decongestant. With all of these “anti” properties, melaleuca is the king of cleansing.
- Just like with lemon, melaleuca is a top cleanser and is a fantastic addition to your cleaning routine. Melaleuca can be added to white vinegar or distilled water for a true all-purpose cleaner.
- Cleaning also applies to the skin. Melaleuca can be applied to and around wounds to prevent infection.
- Diffuse to clean and refresh the air.
- The antiviral properties of melaleuca make it a good oil for stomach bugs. Take 1-2 drops in a veggie capsule or glass of water. Rubbing the oil on the stomach can also provide relief.
- Melaleuca is good for dandruff, cuts and wounds, and acne.
And finally there is eucalyptus. While this is a great and very powerful oil, I feel it is especially relevant to include it on this list at this time. You see, eucalyptus can be used for congestion, couch, bronchitis, pneumonia and fever. With COVID-19 effecting all of our lives at this moment, I knew I needed to share the power of this single oil. Please do not mistake this for medical advice or for me saying eucalyptus will cure Coronavirus. If you are ill, with anything, please take every step necessary to speak with a trusted medical professional. The only thing I am pointing out is that this oil may be a good option to support your body as it fights any of the above listed symptoms.
Asthma and Respiratory Issues:
- Inhale or diffuse eucalyptus. Apply topically to the chest or down the bridge of the nose for respiratory relief.
- Eucalyptus can be massaged into sore muscles for pain or muscle fatigue. You may associate the menthol odor of eucalyptus to sports creams like Bengay or Icy Hot and you wouldn’t be wrong for doing so.
- Eucalyptus can be used as a cooling agent, especially if combined with peppermint. Apply down the spine for fever relief.
Natural Bug Repellent:
- Eucalyptus can also be combined with lemon oil for a natural, non-chemical mosquito repellent. Mix the two oils (25 drops of each oil) in a spray bottle and top with distilled water and witch hazel and voila! Bug Repellent!
Now for the safety stuff I promised. There are a few important rules when using essential oils. Please keep the following in mind in you use or are interested in beginning to use essential oils.
Never, ever, ever put essential oils in your eyes or in your ears. Essential oils can go around these areas, but never directly in. If you accidentally get an essential oil in your eye, do not flush with water as this will drive the oil deeper into your eye. Instead use a carrier oil to dilute the oil and continue to use the carrier oil in the eye until the stinging or irritation from the oil has subsided.
Now what is a carrier oil you ask? A carrier oil is an oil used to dilute the intensity of an essential oil. Some oils are too potent to apply directly on your skin. The carrier oil serves as a base to the essential oil and carries the essential oil deeper into the skin. Carriers oils are also a great way to stretch out your essential oil without diminishing the benefits of the oil. Examples of carrier oils are: fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, and olive oil. My personal favorites are fractionated coconut oil and jojoba oil.
Dilution ratios are also an important consideration when using essential oils. Depending on a person’s age and body size, and how use they are to using essential oils, the oils need to be diluted differently. There are a ton of great dilution charts out there, but a good, general rule of thumb is:
- 0-1 year old= 1 drop Essential Oil in 1 TBSP of Carrier Oil
- 1-5 years old= 1-2 drops Essential Oil in 1 TSP of Carrier Oil
- 12+ years old= 1-2 drops Essential Oil in 3 drops of Carrier Oil
Always start with the lowest amount. You can always add more. Newcomers to essential oils should stick to the lower end of the ratio, while more experienced users can go higher.
Please be aware of the essential oils you choose to use. Cheap oils from the local department store aren’t a good option. Because essential oils are the trend right now, a lot of companies have thrown together “essential oils” that are not pure oil. They add chemicals and fragrances to these franken-oils completely corrupting the essence of the oils and entirely negate the purpose of using them! Another thing I would like to say is please not buy your oils through Amazon. It’s super convenient, I know, but unless you are buying directly from a third party company through Amazon, you have no idea what those oils really are. You may not be getting what you think you are getting (this goes for vitamins and supplement too). If you cannot ensure the essential oil is pure oil (i.e. ONLY lavender, ONLY lemon, ONLY peppermint, etc.) DO NOT TAKE INTERNALLY!
Personal, I use doTERRA essential oils. And full disclosure, I am a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA. This means people can buy doTERRA oils through me. doTERRA’s oils are incredible and they are what I felt most comfortable using after doing a lot of research and educating myself about essential oils.
There are several other very good and reputable essential oil companies out there that sell great, pure products. This is not me trying to sell you on doTERRA’s oils, although they are the only brand I have years of experience using. I bring up this last point because it is so important to me that you understand you must know where your oils come from and what is in them. If they are junk products you won’t get any of the therapeutic benefits you expect, and worse, you could be unwittingly introducing more toxins to your body.
I hope you found this information useful or at least interesting. Using essential oils are one of the easiest ways to lessen toxin exposure. There is an essential oil for virtually every ailment, complaint or problem. Tell me what ails you, there is an oil for that! The more I have learned about oils and the more I have used them, the more I know they work. They are the answer to so many problematic areas in life and using essential oils has changed my life. It feels selfish to not share the full range of benefits these drops of nature are capable of.
If anything in this article peeked your interest, or if you have any questions please leave a comment below. I love educating on essential oils and I would love to hear what you all think! Feel free to reach out to me through email, firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information about essential oils.
*DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or health care professional. I am not licensed, nor qualified, to give medical or nutritional advice. My posts are not meant to diagnose or treat. They are meant to be informative. I am sharing my experience as someone who has suffered with and lives with autoimmune disease. Please consult with a doctor, nutritionist or medical professional for any medical needs and/or questions.*