Allergy season morning drink


As I write this, we received a fresh new layer of snow and it’s looking like winter again…

However, this past week was BEAUTIFUL and we saw a lot of snow melt. I could feel my eyes and nose starting to get itchy so I quickly switched into allergy season mode. My usual morning detox drink has been replaced with this allergy concoction: stinging nettle infusion, local honey and a squeeze of lemon. I’m not really sad about it because it tastes sooooo good – way better than the detox drink!

The concoction is actually a stinging nettle infusion, which means the herb matter sits in boiled water for several hours to pull all of the nutrients out. I usually make mine in the evening and drink it the next morning. To make the infusion, use 1 part stinging nettles to 4 parts boiled water. Place in a glass container (I use mason jars).

  • Stinging nettles: In addition to being great for allergies, a nettle infusion also has a bunch of  fringe benefits. “Nettle rebuilds the adrenals and the kidneys, keeps the blood vessels flexible, shines up the hair, improves skin tone, nourishes the immune system, and moderates or eliminates most allergies.” (source)
  • Local honey: I stress the word “local” because you want to be exposing yourself to pollen from your area. You are using the principle of homeopathy where like cures like. “When a person eats local honey, they are thought to be ingesting local pollen. Over time, a person may become less sensitive to this pollen.” (source)
  • Lemon: The benefit of lemon on allergies stem from its role in strengthening the immune-system and its high levels of vitamin C. Oh, and it just helps make the drink taste delicious.

The benefits from this drink are not going to be immediate so I use high-quality essential oils to manage my acute symptoms. A diluted blend of lemon, lavender and peppermint goes on my chest and under my feet 2 – 4 times per day. I’ve also been having great results with a drop of Arborvitae under my feet morning and night.

This weekend, I am going to add Quercetin supplements to this regime which have been very helpful to me in the past. Quercetin has amazing anti-histamine properties.

How do you naturally deal with seasonal allergies?

M.

Pushy essential oils salespeople

Wintergreen essential oil
A 15 ml bottle of Wintergreen essential oil from doTERRA

Recently, CBC News published an article about a frustrated mom that posted about her child’s illness on Facebook and in return received a bunch of messages from “pushy” essential oil sales reps. She was apparently looking for “help and support”.

As an aromatherapy student (and PROUD “sales rep”), I feel some responsibility to defend my passion. The recent surge in popularity of essential oils has made it a popular target in health communities and the mainstream media alike. I’m not going to refute each point in this article but rather provide some overall perspective.

  • Neither the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapy nor any certified aromatherapist was consulted in the writing of this article. Why aren’t we asking the opinion of a trained expert in this field?
  • Yes, Wintergreen essential oil can lead to toxicity when used incorrectly. It is particularly high in a chemical compound from the salicylates family, just like aspirin and some topical muscle creams. Here’s a great article with more information. Most people likely don’t even need to have this essential oil on-hand, as there are a lot of other effective options out there, and some aromatherapists even avoid it completely. I’ve actually never used mine!
  • All health products, whether “conventional” or “alternative” are backed by profit-seeking corporations and promoted through sales people and/or various forms of advertising. I honestly don’t see this as a legitimate argument at all. At the end of the day, we all buy from those we like and trust. This woman might not like the product or approach — but to each their own.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with completing my aromatherapy studies but this article hit a few nerves. I’ll dive in on this topic in a separate blog post but I will say that, after reading this, I made some HUGE progress on my assignments.

Now excuse me while I go breathe in some peppermint essential oil 😉

M.

Detox support for Spring

doTERRA zendocrine supplements
Two of my fave detox supplements

As I see more and more “healthy people” around me develop serious health issues, such as cancer, I become more and more convinced that the toxins we are exposed to play a far greater role in our health than we might think. By “healthy people”, I mean people who eat relatively well, exercise regularly and/or are considered far too young to be afflicted by such diseases.

Spring is the time of year when most of us think of detoxing or following a cleanse. I am no exception. In my most recent monthly doTERRA essential oils order, I got myself two amazing supplements: Zendocrine Softgels and the Zendocrine Detoxification Complex.

The Zendocrine Softgels are a blend of Tangerine (high limonene content), Rosemary (supports liver function), Geranium (supports elimination organs), Juniper Berry (supports kidneys) and Cilantro (supports your body’s detoxification mechanisms) essential oils which have been shown to have powerful detoxifying properties. I’ve been taking this supplement with breakfast, lunch and supper.

The Zendocrine Detoxification Complex is a beautiful mix of herbs that support healthy cleansing and filtering functions of the liver (Barberry root and bark, Milk thistle seed, Burdock root, Clove bud, Dandelion root, Garlic bulb, Red clover flowering tops), kidneys (Turkish Rhubarb stem, Burdock root, Clove bud, Dandelion root), colon (Psyllium husk, Turkish rhubarb stem, Acacia Gum bark, Marshmallow root), lungs (Osha root, Safflower petals), and skin (Kelp, Milk thistle seed, Burdock root, Clove bud, Garlic bulb). I’ve been taking this supplement with breakfast and supper.

Of course, at the same time, it is important to reduce your exposure to and consumption of toxins. Are you avoiding packaged goods and focusing on whole foods? Have you checked the ingredients in your home cleaning products and cosmetics? Could you replace some of these products with more natural versions or – EVEN BETTER – start making them yourself?

We commonly think of healthy eating and exercising as gateways to good health. I highly encourage you to also think about your toxic exposure as another important factor.

Are you going to support your body in cleansing this Spring?

M.

PS – Oh, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I TOTALLY sell these supplements. However, I also HONESTLY use them on a regular basis. I have absolutely NO SHAME with that. I would feel FAR worst keeping secrets to good health from you!

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.