Essential Oils 101 – Methods of Application: Ingestion

QUE THE HORROR MUSIC!! The EVIL Marvelous Mess will be covering drum roll please…… INGESTION MUAH-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!!!! So before I start this I want to emphasize I am a certified Aromatherpist and I am also an essential oil distributor. Yes, you can be both. It’s possible. Ingestion is super controversial and I want to ease your mind about it. I feel like there is a happy medium to this topic, so let’s get to it! As usual, we’ll cover the scary stuff first.

ADVERSE REACTIONS

Let’s just rip off the Essential Oil bandage here; it’s possible to drink an essential oil and die, it happens VERY RARELY, but it does happen and you should know that. Want to know how much it takes? A LOT. I’m talking something around a teaspoon (or more) for children or a 5ML bottle for adults of straight oil. With that being said, commonly used oils you should avoid ingesting are any species of Eucalyptus and Wintergreen. For the rest, if you are getting an essential oil from a company who promotes ingestion, the labels will either say dietary use or to not ingest.

Most of the time these oils are bad quality, so it’s really important to get pure  essential oils. Common adverse reactions with ingesting oils are: stomach irritation if you take too much undiluted and mouth sores if you ingest a hot oil undiluted. How can you avoid that you ask?

DILUTION, DILUTION, DILUTION!!!

I can’t stress this enough, you CAN safely take essential oils internally, but you’ve gotta dilute it. It helps dispersion by having those super small molecules attach to larger ones. There are several ways you can do this:

Diluting in Water

We all know oil and water don’t mix but this little trick helps! You put essential oil in a spoonful of honey and add it to your water. Another way you can do it is by cutting up some fruit in a bowl and adding oil to the fruit, that way you don’t have sweet water and it will give it a nice subtle flavor with therapeutic properties.

Sugar Cube, Honey, Cup of Milk, Charcoal Tablets

Any one of the items above you can add a few drops of oil to and consume them.

Veggie Capsules

You can get these cool little vegetable capsules and all you do is fill them up with a carrier oil like olive or coconut and add the desired amount of oils to it.

DOSAGE

Ingestion isn’t always the best way to apply an essential oil, sometimes the other methods will work more effectively when used with different body systems. You usually ingest essential oils when you would like to work on the digestive system or promote wellness with internal organs like your kidneys and liver. For dosage I would stick to one to three drops. You can take that dosage three times a day. A quick tidbit on oregano, if you use that for ingestion I suggest you take a probiotic along with it. Although its very effective at taking out germs it will wipe out all of the bacteria both good and bad and a probiotic will replace that.

In reality, most essential oils present little to no risk when used properly and ingestion is always a personal decision, if you feel comfortable doing it, great! If not, then don’t. Simple as that. If you want to take the super cautious route before you ingest an oil, consult a Certified Aromatherapist (like me) who is well versed in contraindications and therapeutic margin. Seriously, feel free to message me on Facebook or visit my Contact Me page and I’d be happy to help!

Essential Oils 101- Methods of Application: Topical

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. The skin regulates your body temperature, keeps bacteria out and excretes toxins out of your body through sweating. Most importantly, it circulates 33% of your blood. There are two layers to the skin, the epidermis which is about as thick as a piece of paper and the dermis which has got your blood vessels, nerve endings and hair follicles. When you apply an essential oil, the molecules are so crazy small that your porous skin rapidly absorbs it. Once the oil seeps into your hair follicles and sweat glands, it reaches the blood and is then dispersed throughout your entire body. Here are some things to look out for when applying essential oils topically:

PHOTOSENSITIVITY

There are some oils you want to avoid applying while the sun is out because they are more prone to absorb the sun’s rays and increase your chances of burning. There are two ways you can easily avoid these problems. 1. Apply them at night before bed 2. Apply them on skin that is covered by clothing. Most citrus oils are photosensitive as well as patchouli, some cedar wood varieties and clary sage. Again I just want to emphasize common sense on this one. If you apply clary sage on your ankles and are wearing shorts, you’re probably not gonna get burned.

IRRITATION

Irritation happens when you apply an oil that your skin considers abrasive and has a reaction. It would be red and irritated within about 5 minutes. If this happens, you can put a fatty carrier oil like coconut or almond oil on it to absorb it. Milk will also help.

SENSITIZATION

This reaction is a little different. As opposed to affecting your skin, your immune system would react. The essential oil attaches itself to a protein in your body and your body releases histamines. The result would be similar to an allergic reaction. In this case you can take an antihistamine (homeopathic or regular, your choice) and find another oil with the same chemical properties you’re looking for just from a different plant. The cool thing about oils is that they’re not like nut or shellfish allergies. You don’t have to swear off the whole category when you have a reaction to something in the family it belongs to.

Now that we’ve got the scary stuff outta the way! We can get into the fun stuff!

SKIN PATCH TESTING

Skin patch testing is one of those optional preventative things you can do to make sure your skin doesn’t have a reaction to essential oils. I personally don’t have sensitive skin and don’t do them anymore unless I know it’s a “hot” oil like peppermint, cinnamon or thyme. There are two ways you can do a skin patch test.

The first is to dilute an essential oil in a carrier oil cover it in a piece of gauze and wait 24 hours if there no reaction, you’re good to go! If there is, try diluting it a bit more and do it again. If there’s still a reaction then don’t use that oil topically, try diffusing it instead. If you have any type of sensitivity reaction though, do not diffuse it either.

The second way is to apply an essential oil “neat” meaning undiluted to the crook of your arm. Close your arm and wait five minutes, again see how your skin react and the same rules apply as above. I’m personally impatient and always do this option.

BASE OILS & DILUTION

Just like essential oils, base oils have different properties. Base oils are fatty and their molecules are bigger, which slows the absorption rate and also creates a barrier between your skin and the essential oil. If you do not have sensitive skin, you don’t need to dilute if you don’t want to. There are a lot of folks out there including myself who prefer to use them neat. Again, it’s totally your choice. If you like to err on the side of caution then by all means, dilute away! If you’d like to start using essential oils neat but want to start off with really mild ones try Lavender, Tea Tree and Chamomile. A few popular base oils are coconut oil, olive oil and almond oil.

Lastly, here is a handy dilution ratio chart they gave me in school to use as a reference:

Dilution Ratio Chart

**For Children and Preggos, stay in the 1-6% ratios**

HERE’S A FREE CHART TO DOWNLOAD AND HANG UP!

Dilution Ratio Chart

Essential Oils 101- Methods of Application: Aromatic

The most common way to apply essential oils is aromatically. There are several methods you can do that with, but first lets talking a little bit about our sense of smell. A lot of people don’t realize it but your sense of smell is one of the most important senses you have. Think about it, if you’re in your home and left a candle on, fell asleep and that candle just so happened to light a drape on fire what do you think would wake you up? The smell of your burning house! How do you usually check to make sure a Tupperware of leftovers or ground meat in your fridge is still good? You smell it! Your sense of smell’s first function is to protect you. Another function your sense of smell has is to help you digest food. Think of when dinner is about to be served, what happens? You smell that amazing meal that’s cooking and you start to salivate. Your saliva aids in the digestion of food by assisting you to swallow, moistening (I hate that word) your food so it’s easier to chew and lastly helps break down the starches in your food before it even gets to your stomach.

EMOTIONS AND SMELL

Without getting super nerdy, there are four parts of your brain that your sense of smell directly effects. The olfactory cortex, the limbic system, the hypothalamus and the reticular formation. When you inhale a smell there are receptors that grab those molecules and disburse them through the brain. The olfactory cortex receives the smell first; this is where you consciously perceive a smell. Next it goes to your limbic system which is responsible for two functions, your sense of fear and long term memory storage. Next step is when it reaches the hypothalamus which is responsible for the action, remember when we were talking about salivation and waking up in the middle of the night? This is where that happens. Think of it as the command center for basic emotions and drives. Lastly the reticular formation, it acts as glue between emotion, memory and smell. Think of a smell that reminds you of a loved one who has passed on, or a smell that makes you feel energetic and aware. That feature right there, is the key to using oils for emotional support. When you throw all of these things together you’ve got a great tool at your hands. For instance, Lemon is amazing for helping maintain a sense of focus and aids in retaining information, imagine how beneficial that would be for a late nigh study session?

THE BEST TIME TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS AROMATICALLY

Sometimes one method of use is better than others. Aromatic use is most beneficial for your sinuses, respiratory system and for emotional support. Aromatic use is the fastest indirect method of delivery and takes sixty seconds to five minutes to absorb. Now let’s get into how you can aromatically use them:

A COTTON BALL IN FRONT OF A FAN

I have a really cool story about this method. My mom had surgery and was super nauseous from the stuff they use to knock her out with. When I loaded her up in my car, I put a drop of peppermint on a cotton ball and put it in my a/c vent. She didn’t hurl or even so much as dry heave in my car once. Peppermint for the win! Any who, you can put few drops of oil on a cotton ball and stick it in a vent or fan and its disperses the aroma that way.

A CLOTH OR TISSUE

This would be a good method to use if you’re on the go and need to sniff an oil in a pinch. You can put a drop of oil on a cloth or tissue and smell it as you walk. A great way to relax would be to put a drop of lavender on a cloth and put it on your face to help unwind before bed.

A POT WITH SOME HOT WATER

Boil a pot of water and turn off the heat, add a few drops of oil to the hot water and inhale the vapor. To make it more potent you can drape a towel over your head, making the vapor go straight to your nose. This would also be a great way to use oils if you were doing a facial at home.

A DIFFUSER

This is by far the easiest way to disperse oils. You remove the cap put some water in the designated reservoir, drop five to ten drops of oil, push a button and voila! You’re done. The cool thing about diffusers is that they disperse the oils in a fine mist so that you’re inhaling the particles. That way you can have oils go through your house for hours without much effort at all.

I hope this was helpful!

 

 

Essential Oils 101: What Are Essential Oils and How Do They Work

In the words of the great Ron Burgundy, essential oils are a pretty big deal. Let’s dive in, shall we?

HISTORY

Essential oils are really freakin’ old. Plants are known as our first form of medicine. Romans would use plants to build up courage before battle. Egyptians used oils to embalm their dead. In the Bible oils are mentioned over 100 times. As modern medicine began to change, the use of plants for their therapeutic properties began to dwindle. Because of those advances, the main use of essential oils at the time was to make perfumes. Then a chemist and perfumer in France by the name of René -Maurice Gattefossé changed the game; by accident of course.

René was working when he accidentally burned the daylights out of his hand. Instinctually, he shoves his hand in the nearest pot of liquid he could find. Can we all guess what that liquid was? DING-DING-DING! Lavender essential oil. He went about his business and realized something in the days that followed, his hand healed insanely fast. So much so that he spent the duration of his life researching oils and their therapeutic properties, he called it “Aromatherapy”.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils are the volatile liquid that lives in a plant, they’re distilled or extracted depending on the type of plant. The reason they’re called “essential” is because the oil is the essence of the plant. The life blood you could say. The oil inside of a plant is what is responsible for doing things like repelling bugs that may pose a danger to them, or attract beneficial ones.

Picture a Russian nesting doll, this is an essential oil. Each oil has hundreds of individual chemical characteristics responsible for different actions. In each of these chemical components lies trillions of molecules and no, I’m not exaggerating! Now picture administering this to your porous skin. Your body then rapidly absorbs these molecules, distributing them throughout your body, inheriting the same benefits that the plant had originally used them for. Mind. Blowing.

HOW DO THEY WORK

Back to the word volatile, it sounds scary but it isn’t. It’s actually one of the most important features about essential oils. Volatile comes from the Latin word volare meaning “to fly”. The molecular structure is so light it evaporates into the atmosphere when you diffuse it. Now in the context of the human body, this makes it super beneficial. Peppermint for instance, is great for supporting healthy sinus function. When diffused and inhaled, your mucous membranes absorb it, administering its refreshing properties throughout your sinuses.

That’s the way oils work. When applied to the skin or diffused into the air, your skin and mucous membranes absorb them quickly and distribute those flying molecules throughout your blood stream. That’s the beauty of essential oils, all you have to do is apply them and they do the rest of the work.

That’s it. Easy peasy lemon squeasy right?  Next week we’ll be talking about methods of application.

A Prologue To My Essential Oils 101 Series

Pardon my leave of absence, the jump from having three children to four has been by far the most difficult for our family. My five year old thinks she’s thirty, my 3 year old seems to think that since he is so sweet he can do whatever he wants (kind of like those sour patch kids commercials) and my almost 2 year old doesn’t like that she’s not the baby anymore; throw in a newborn baby and you’ve got yourself a party! Enter essential oils. Lately, I’ve been using several essential oils for my postpartum sanity and on the kids to subdue the cray-cray. It all started 3 years ago when my hubby and I were looking for something that promotes a more restful night’s sleep. A friend of mine was a Young Living distributor and gave me some Lavender to try out, after that I basically said SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. Our sleep was UHMAZING man!! I later learned that Lavender is basically the hot sauce of essential oils, you put that stuff on everything. This led me on a rabbit trail of oily goodness which then led to me -a mom at the time of three under 5- to go to school for aromatherapy. I can’t stand school, so I knew aromatherapy was a passion of mine when it propelled me to go back to school and become a certified Aromatherapist.

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WABAM! I’m a certified Aromatherapist.

I’ve noticed that most articles out there about Essential Oils are usually surrounding the potential dangers of essential oils and bashing MLM companies for promoting unsafe usage. I learned about oils from an MLM (Young Living woop woop!!) I also first learned about safety from them and have not had an adverse reaction yet. I most definitely support MLMs and disagree with the sentiment that most distributors are spreading unsafe information. So if that’s what you’re looking for, you will not find it here.

Once I started school, the more I learned about oils, the more I realized that using them is not rocket science (even though the science behind it is pretty gnarly!) The source of most articles or posts you read harping about the dangers of essential oils and safety usually stems from a place of “better safe than sorry”. Take dilution, for instance. There are mild essential oils out there that do not require dilution if you don’t have super sensitive skin, but if I have a company and I want to avoid lawsuits, I’m gonna tell you to dilute it anyway to avoid legal issues in the case you had an adverse reaction. I love safety as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong, but I also believe people have common sense. I’m going to assume 98 percent of the population has come to this blog inquiring about oils because they heard about it from somebody, and I can almost guarantee you that the issues of safety have come up. Of course I’m going to cover safety, but from a common sense approach. I’d like to think I am a happy medium between the person who says its okay to put peppermint on your 5 day old baby and the person who would only diffuse oils in their house. Okay, I’m stepping off my oil soap box now. Here’s the lineup of my future 101 posts, I’ll be posting them every monday:

  1. What Are Essential Oils and How Do They Work
  2. Essential Oil Methods Of Application: Aromatic
  3. Essential Oil Methods Of Application: Topical
  4. Essential Oil Methods Of Application: Ingestion
  5. Essential Oil Safety
  6. Kids and Essential Oils
  7. Pregnancy And Essential Oils
  8. Popular Essential Oils And Their Potential Uses

There you have it, I look forward to getting our learn on together!

Carbonating Kombucha

So last week, we talked about how to make your very own kombucha for a fraction of the price. This post will cover how to kick your kombucha up a notch with flavoring and carbonation! Now that you have an active batch of tea, whenever you add more sugar the yeast in the tea will eat up the extra sugar creating CO2, naturally carbonating your batch of kombucha. Here’s the fun part- the sugar you use will be juice or a juice combination of your choosing. Another option you can use is fresh or dried fruit. This time I made pomegranate kombucha. Behold! DIRECTIONS:

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  1. 2 Cups of your favorite juice or fruit.
  2. Flip cap bottles (I got these), mason jars or any glass container that has a sealing lid. Make sure to get enough bottles to hold 1 gallon of liquid.

Optional Step 2 Equipment: A mesh strainer

STEP 1:

With clean hands remove your SCOBY and separate any babies that have grown, if you plan on giving them to friends (there’s a picture below of OG SCOBY which is darker looking compared to the brand new baby). Place them in clean jars along with ½ of a cup of your freshly fermented kombucha.

 

OPTIONAL STEP 2:

Strain your gallon of kombucha. Sometimes there are floating strands of yeast which are totally okay to drink, but I prefer to not have them in there.

STEP 3:

Pour your juice or fruit into your glass containers. The ratio for juice should be 10-25% juice to 75-90% kombucha. The ratio should be 30-10% fruit to 70-90% kombucha. In each of my 16oz bottles I poured ¼ cup of juice. I eyed it the first time I made it which worked just fine too!!

STEP 4:

Add your kombucha to your glass containers leaving 1 inch of head space or less (the less oxygen the better). I prefer to use a funnel and my beverage dispenser because I am a serious klutz.

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STEP 5:

Place your glass containers in a warm dark spot in your kitchen and wait 3 days to a week at the most. Too much time or heat can make kombucha shoot up to your ceiling (true story). CAREFULLY crack them open to release the pressure and then place them in the fridge, it slows down all the activity. You’re done son! Try not to drink them all in one sitting.

 

KOMBUCHA : Barney Style

You’ll find a recurring theme here on This Marvelous Mess. I like things that are cheap and as natural as possible, I also love preventative health. Kombucha fills all of those lovely little check boxes and since I made a batch this week, I figure I’d share how I make it and how awesome it is.

A friend asked me if I wanted a SCOBY to make kombucha. I of course had no idea what the heck she was talking about. It sounded like she was giving me a secret password to play a new hipster board game that came out or something, so I briefly googled it. Turns out kombucha is a fermented tea that’s supposed to be really good for you. I got the SCOBY from her and I was thinking it was going to be some special teapot that ferments tea for you… I WAS DEAD WRONG. She gave me a jar, in this jar was a byproduct of something apparently made from the slime in the Ghostbusters II movie. I wanted to make sure making a batch of this stuff was worth my time before I put my hands on that disgusting thing. Turns out SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, this little disc is filled with vitamins, probiotics and good-for-you acids. When you place the SCOBY into a batch of tea and wait a week or two BAM! You have kombucha. The SCOBY has now created a beverage that is great for your digestive and immune systems. Seriously, this thing saved me so much stomach pain postpartum. It costs $2-$5 a bottle at the store and I make a gallon of it for dirt cheap, and you can too. Winna winna chicken dinna. Here is a super easy step by step guide on how to make it, and stay tuned next Monday for a post on how to carbonate and flavor your kombucha!

What you’ll need:

  1. A SCOBY at room temperature in at least 1/2 of a cup of some starter tea. If there is no starter tea, purchase a bottle of unflavored kombucha from the store.
  2. 1/3 of a cup of green or black tea. If you are using tea bags just stick enough tea bags in a measuring cup to make the 1/3 mark and SKIP STEP 2.
  3. 1 Gallon of purified water
  4. 1 Gallon glass jar (I got mine HERE)
  5. Coffee filters
  6. A rubber band

STEP 1:

Boil the gallon of water and then shut it off once it’s done.

STEP 2:

Make a ginormous tea bag by putting your 1/3 cup of tea in a coffee filter and staple it shut, like this:
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STEP 3:

Steep your tea in the freshly boiled water, for five to ten minutes.

STEP 4:

Pour your tea in the glass jar and allow it to cool to the same temperature as your SCOBY and starter liquid,usually 12-24 hours.

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STEP 5:

Once your brewed tea is room temperature, using clean hands put your SCOBY in the batch of tea.

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STEP 6:

Add ½ of a cup of starter tea.

STEP 7:

Cover the top of the jar with a coffee filter and rubber band to allow the tea to breath and keep fruit flies out. Put the jar in a warm corner in your kitchen.

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YOU’RE DONE SON! Now pat yourself on the back and wait 1-2 weeks. The longer you wait the more sour it will be. You’ll be able to smell it becoming more similar to vinegar after a few days. After a week try a bit by using a straw to see if you like it or if you’d like to ferment it more. If you’d like to kick your “booch” up a notch try to carbonate and flavor it!

 

This Marvelous Mess: Ze First Post

SO! I’M FINALLY DOING IT. I’m sharing my life on the internet. It’s easy to post funny meme’s about a messy house, but it’s super hard to post a picture of your laundry room that used to have a visible floor. You may not even have a laundry room. You might eat takeout every evening because you struggle with depression and can’t seem to get yourself out of bed to cook dinner. You might be on food stamps and can’t afford super fancy, gluten-free organic meals plans served with chickens who learned their freaking alphabet before they were slaughtered. Sometimes, LIFE HAPPENS.

One of my biggest fears lies in showing my “real self” and leaving others to take it or leave it, with all the opinions and judgments that come with it. What do I mean by “real self”? When someone asks me how I am, it’s easy to say “I’m having a rough week, pray for me!” What’s hard to say is “I’m having a rough week because I feel like I yelled at my kids too much and I got into a huge fight with my husband over something stupid.” THAT is what I mean by real.

Before I share some of my mess with you, let me give you a visual: I’m big and uncomfortable because I’m pregnant and I’ve been having contractions for pretty much a week straight. My youngest is currently making a mess with a plate that I left out last night that had some frosting on it. And I’m totally babysitting my two eldest with a few episodes of “Hey Arnold”, just so I can write this post. Oh and throw in the very timely body flop to the tummy while I’m having a contractions courtesy of my youngest, she’s trying to hug me with her now frosting covered body.

A little bit about myself, I’m a young mom of three kids under five and we are expecting number four any day now. I’ve been married for six years to a man who is as equally strange as I am, possibly worse. Together we make a crazy bunch of folks just trying to find out what normal is for us. My life growing up was not your typical middle class American dream where everyone has the same last name and owning a home was in your future. I come from a single parent home. We were on welfare. We’ve moved more times than I can count and sometimes we lived in hotels for long periods of time. My mother has been clean and sober for 16 years from drugs and alcohol, she did the best she could with what she had. I was in foster care for a little bit. Eventually my mom got clean and then things started to change, we moved less and she got a job that she still works at to this day. I share this with you because as I raise my own children, my normal growing up is nowhere near their normal. They have a stay at home mom for crying out loud! I share this because everyone comes from a different climb and place. My place just so happens to be pretty much from ground zero.  That’s my mess.

What you read here will be from that perspective. What is meal planning and how do you start? What are essential oils and how the hell do those work? What does it even mean to be “real”? How can I eat healthy (sometimes healthy-ish) and not become broke? Each and every individual has a struggle, but that struggle will mold and shape you into something stronger. That’s why my starting point which may be messy, is wonderfully MARVELOUS. Now, let’s do life … shall we?