Restocking my herb collection

Bags of dried Stinging Nettles, Red Clover, Lemon Balm, Dandelion and Gotu Kola
The herbs I got from l’Alchimiste en herbe in Montreal this past weekend.

This past weekend, I was in Montreal teaching an essential oils workshop at Café Floraison. I love the café’s warm, quaint and inviting atmosphere – plus, it’s located between a couple of neat shops selling a variety of herbs.

After the workshop, I took some time to explore and restock my dry herbs. Herbs are a great way to pack nutrition into your diet. Many are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytosterols and more!

Here’s what I ended up buying:

  • Stinging Nettle – energizing, nourishing and strengthening to the adrenals. It’s also a great support for allergies, which is something I struggle with. I make an infusion with this herb to get the maximum benefits.
  • Red Clover – superb anti-cancer and cancer-preventative herb. It is helpful for many “woman issues”. This is another one I drink as an infusion.
  • Lemon Balm – calming and supportive to the immune system. I consume this herb as a tea during cold/flu season and for a great night’s sleep. Lemon balm is part of the mint family and has a wonderful flavour.
  • Dandelion Root – great source of nutrients. Dandelion is a great detoxifying herb and I use it mainly for this purpose.
  • Gotu Kola – referred to as the herb of longevity. Need I say more? This is exactly why I consumer this herb!

There are many other health benefits associated with these herbs and I encourage you to do more research if you are interested in incorporating any of them into your proactive health regime.

Which herbs do you use and love?

M.

Natural hair care routine

I’ve been doing the no ‘poo method for about 7 years now. That basically means I don’t wash my hair with conventional products… I make a mixture of baking soda and water as a shampoo, and a mixture of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water as a conditioner. It sounds really odd but it makes my hair super soft and light-feeling. It also makes it so I don’t have to wash my hair as often and it takes wayyyy less time to blow-dry.

Every now and then, I do low ‘poo — a meet-in-the-middle option. I use 1 part unscented castile soap, 4 parts water and a few drop of essential oils. I’ll go this route if I’ve used product in my hair, which is INCREDIBLY rare, or if I don’t feel like mixing the baking soda and ACV. I always keep a mixture of ‘low poo in the shower just in case.

Both of these methods require an adjustment period. Your scalp won’t know what the heck happened and it will take a while for it to stop over-producing oil — a result of using conventional hair-washing products. Make sure to have a lot of DIY dry shampoo on-hand! I actually transitioned to ‘no poo while I was on maternity leave with my son. What better excuse for having greasy hair than a crying infant!?

You might have to experiment with the proportions. Usually, people start off with 1 tbsp of baking soda / ACV to 1 cup but when my hair was longer I was doing 2 tbsp baking soda in 2 cups of water, 2 tbsp ACV in 1 cup of water. For the low ‘poo recipe, I really had to experiment with the proportions… so it might be totally different for you.

After each wash, I also put a drop of coconut oil + essential oil and massage into the tips of my hair for extra moisture + nourishment. It’s also great to add shine and remove frizz.

Switching to low ‘poo / no ‘poo is an effective way to reduce your exposure to everyday toxins — many of which have been shown to be carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting. It’s also a SUPER cheap, low-maintenance and environmentally-friendly option.

I might be hard to believe that such a simple option could actually work… Well, look at that thick hair mask I had on in the video 😉 A paste of henna and indigo hair dye!

Give it a try, play around and have fun with it, and ABOVE ALL be patient with it 😉

M.

Oil pulling for health

I have the most high-maintenance gums. If I don’t give them extra attention, they go puffy and red on me. It never fails…

What works best for me is oil pulling. Unfortunately, oil pulling in itself is high maintenance… You’ll want to do it for 20 minutes twice a day. I feel good about myself if I get around to doing this once a day – and my gums sure do notice! They slim up and turn a nice, light pink hue.

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that is said to date back three thousands years (or probably more, who knows). It involves swishing approximately 1 tbsp of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil in your mouth. Quite frankly, I have a hard time swishing that much oil… I use more like 1 tsp.

“Research has offered several different benefits regarding oil pulling with coconut oil, saying it strengthens the teeth, rids the body of bad toxins, reduces gingivitis, prevents cavities, and whitens teeth, while also reducing plaque production. Although it is not scientifically known to do these things, it has been found to help reduce headaches, hangovers, and support general detoxification of the entire body.” (source)

Wow, hangovers… I didn’t know that until researching this post – LOL.

I also add a drop of doTERRA essential oil for extra punch. My favourites are tea tree or the proprietary blend “On Guard”. Both have amazing antimicrobial cleansing properties. Once you’re done swishing, make sure to spit out the oil. Otherwise, you will just be ingesting the yucky stuff pulled from your teeth and gums. Also make sure to spit out coconut oil in the garbage can and not the sink – unless you want to clog your drain 😉

I encourage you to give it a shot for about two week. You might even see awesome results before then…

M.

PS – Now, some people will get super offended I mentioned adding essential oils to the mix… as putting essential oils in your mouth is considered internal use of essential oils – a super highly controversial practice. Do your research, remember your mouth is lined with oral mucosa and ultimately do what you are comfortable doing.

 

My vitamin love affair

Vitamins
Just a few of the many supplements I take on a daily basis.

I’m in a full-blown LOVE AFFAIR with my vitamin and supplement regime – and the love has never been stronger. Let me start from the beginning…

About 10 years ago, I registered for a holistic nutritionist program. I was OBSESSED with food and health, and wanted to know everything that I could. At that point, I had already slowly started supplementing on the advice of a Naturopath but I didn’t think much of it until I started this program.

I did GREAT with supplementation for a few years and was starting to feel the best I had ever felt. However, I soon fell into the you-should-be-getting-all-your-vitamins-from-food trap. This was amplified by the fact that I had been taking nutrition courses and was juicing and was getting in lots of greens, etc. If anyone was getting all their vitamins from food it was surely me, right?!?!

(Side bar: see how powerful public opinion is? Despite the advice of a professional AND the training I was doing, I still fell for public “wisdom”…)

It took a LONG TIME for me to pinpoint the problem as my body slowly and progressively left clues that it was unhappy with my decision. Sure, I was getting older and a bunch of life changes were happening so it was easy for me to blame my new health concerns on that. Plus, there was nothing medically wrong with me so I started believing it was “normal” to feel this way.

To be honest, I strongly resisted going back onto a vitamin and supplement regime and I only VERY RELUCTANTLY ended up doing so. After a couple of weeks, I couldn’t believe the difference… Despite my best efforts, it was clear I wasn’t getting all the nutrients I needed from my diet. And, frankly, nowadays our food is much less nutritious than it was “back in the day” so I’m not sure why people make it sound so easy.

(Side bar: the quality of the supplements I started taking probably had A LOT to do with the results I experienced… choose wisely.)

So now I get a bit upset (ok, very upset) when I hear people say you should be getting it all from food. ESPECIALLY when I also hear them say they lack energy, have aches and pains, and are dealing with emotional issues. I’m not saying supplementation is a cure-all for these but you might be surprised how well your body responds.

Also, I’ve noticed that ALL my health idols take supplements… it just makes sense to me to follow the advice of the people whose health I admire and aspire to replicate for myself 😉

Some seem to worry that if people start supplementing they will become complacent with their diets and not bother eating any nutritious food. I think it’s the TOTAL OPPOSITE. When people start feeling better, they start making better decisions. It’s way easier to pop a vitamin in the morning than to deprive yourself of your favourite treat… and I bet you’ll notice that when you start improving your health you will be less tempted to splurge on these treats.

~ Rant ends here ~

I hope this encourages you to pay more attention to how you are feeling in your body, maybe question some of your current beliefs and explore more deeply what might be stopping you from taking necessary steps to improve your health.

Wishing you all amazing, radiant health!

M.

PS – I am not a medical doctor. I am not claiming that supplementing is a cure for physical and mental illness or disease. Always seek medical advice from your health care professional and let them know of any new supplementation regime you are considering.

 

 

Face lotion with oils

About 7 years ago, I ditched most of my commercial face products and started making my own using natural carrier and essential oils. I was tired of the chemicals, hefty price tags and less-than-stellar results.

Just like when you switch to a natural shampoo, there is a transition period in getting your skin used to DIY face products. I started slowly, toughed out the initial blemishes and now I couldn’t be happier with the way my skin looks. I never wear concealer, foundation or powder anymore. Honestly, I used to wear TONS and never left the house bare-faced.

Every time I make my face lotion, it’s a bit different. Here is my latest recipe, which uses two carrier oils and 4 pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.

  • Jojoba oil (3 parts): this oil is great for all skin types, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
  • Red raspberry seed oil (1 part): contains natural sun protection and “moisturizes the skin, improves elasticity, reduces wrinkles and fine lines” (source).
  • Frankincense (5 drops): helps preserve a youthful complexion, cell regeneration and tighten pores.
  • Cypress (2 drops): helps tighten pores.
  • Geranium (1 drop): helps cell regeneration and tighten pores.
  • Tea Tree (2 drops): good for oily skin and skin blemishes.

In the past, I’ve also used Grapeseed oil, Argan oil and Coconut oil as carrier oils. There are plenty of options you can try depending on what type of skin you have and the desired effect(s) you are looking for.

Other wonderful essential oil options to use in your face lotion based on your skin’s needs include Clary Sage, Jasmine, Lemon (photosensitive*), Myrrh, Neroli, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Rose, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Bergamot (photosensitive*), Cypress, Juniper Berry, Lavender and Rosemary.

BTW – I’m super picky with my essential oil brand as I don’t want any synthetics, fillers or additives on my skin. Otherwise, what is the point? Plus, you likely won’t experience the benefits listed above.

I’m also not big on complicated or overly precise recipes… I just made sure to have a 1 % dilution of essential oils based on a 50 ml glass bottle, as shown in the video. If it were any more complex, I likely would not do it! My time is way too valuable.

About 6 drops is all you need for your face. Add a few extra drops if you also want to moisturize your neck and chest.

Hope you like it!

M.

*Caution: Lemon and Bergamot (and all other citrus essential oils) are photosensitive, which means they can cause you to burn more quickly if you are exposed to the sun or a tanning bed. When using citrus oils topically, stay out of the sun or tanning beds for a minimum of 12 hours.

My side hustle story

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I started this side hustle about a year ago, stemming from my passion for health. At the time, I had NO IDEA how important it would become.

See, I would consider myself quite good with money. My father bought me the book “The Wealthy Barber” when I was about 16 years old and I’ve pretty much followed that advice since then. But the one thing I was NOT GOOD at was building an emergency fund…

It seemed that, as soon as I would put money aside for this purpose, something would break down or a big unexpected expense would come up. And there went the fund…

So when I got laid off from my corporate job, it should have been a huge financial shock. Don’t get me wrong – it was still a kick in the shin. But I had been building myself an income-generating safety net on the side.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it, though. I finished my 9 – 5 job and worked late evenings and weekends on this (amazing) gig. But I’m eternally grateful to have pushed through it.

As I get back up onto my feet, I’m proud to know that I’ve got my own back and I promise never to complain about the extra work ever again!!

(PS – I also got to live a dream… you know those annoying people who seem to be able to work from the beach? I got to do this while I was in Mexico! The magic of an online business…)

M.

Potassium-rich coconut water

My favourite hydrating and electrolyte-replenishing drink is definitely coconut water and nothing beats getting it fresh from the beach!

Coconuts are just awesome in general. Apparently, in Sanskrit, coconuts are called kalpa vriksha, meaning “tree which gives all that is necessary for living” (source). I believe it! They offer a full-on combo of nutrients, fats and hydration plus have incredible uses in cooking and for skin care.

Coconut water is a great source of hydration due to its electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. You might as well call it nature’s sports drink. I like adding it to my smoothies or mixing it with chia seeds along with a squeeze of lemon for an energy boost.

This year, I also discovered eating the coconut “flesh” or “meat” with some lime and spices. Coconut flesh, found on the inside of the coconut, is said to help restore oxidative tissue damage and contains healthy fats, proteins, and various vitamins and minerals (source).

Of course, coconut oil also has amazing health benefits but I’ll save that for another post 😉

M.