Soothing poison ivy naturally

My husband and I both recently got poison ivy rashes.  I’m usually pretty good about immediately washing any areas that come into contact with the weed but it seems like my tendency towards overdoing it in the garden got the best of me this time.  He seems to get it without even going in the woods. The silver lining to our affliction was that we got to test out some natural remedies.

The first thing we tried was Young Living’s Joy essential oil.  It’s one of my favorite scents so I was happily surprised to hear that it was helpful for poison ivy.  Joy is a blend of Bergamot,Ylang ylang, Geranium, Lemon, Coriander ,Tangerine, Jasmine, Roman Chamomile, Palmarosa and Rose essential oils.   It smells amazing and was very soothing and calming to our skin.

We both experimented with using Young Living Lavender oil next.  It didn’t cut the itching as well as the Joy but was very soothing on the second day of when it was more of a burning sensation.   I’m a huge fan of Young Living oils and we use them for EVERYTHING but this was one of the more profound experiences I have had using them!

A few notes on safety. We applied these oils “neat” or undiluted but if you are worried about skin irritation I would suggest using a carrier oil. Young Living’s oils are extremely pure and high quality so they can be used in ways that many other brands of essential oils cannot.  I would NOT apply any other brand of oils to my skin.  Also, Joy contains citrus oils and as with any citrus you should avoid direct sun exposure after applying.

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Plantain leaf is a  medicinal plant that grows wild in most yards and is considered a weed. I’ve had success using it on bug bites and also on another patch of poison ivy that popped up on my finger (I just can’t stay out of the woods!) The way I use it is to chew it up a bit to release the oils then secure it in place with a band aid over the itch.  I know people make salves with it but I haven’t tried that yet!  Here’s a photo of it growing in the yard followed by one that shows plantain leaf close up.

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Also an extreme close up of my hand.  How many times must I have creased my hand to get all of those amazing lines?

Another natural remedy that I tried out was Jewel Weed. This lovely plant is considered the natural antidote to poison ivy and is said to grow near where poison ivy is found.  We are lucky enough to have a little patch of it in the yard. It is usually found in shady and moist conditions.  This one worked really well too!  I used the same method as I did with the plantain leaf on yet another patch that popped up.  When I took the band aid off about an hour later there was NO itch or sting and the pain didn’t come back!  The first photo shows what the plant looks like in my yard in June. The second shows the flower that blooms later in the summer. I would have had NO idea what it was if I hadn’t seen it in bloom last year though!  Prairie Moon Nursery  sells Jewel Weed seeds for anyone interested in cultivating some yourself!

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Overall the essential oils were easier for covering large areas but the jewel weed and plantain leaf worked well too and were great for smaller areas.  I’m so happy that we have figured these out!  I’ll continue trying to avoid it but I’m glad to know these just in case it gets me again!

If you would like purchase some Young Living Joy or Lavender for yourself send me an email at LMKOLENDA@gmail.com or read this post to learn more about getting started with essential oils.

What has worked for you when you had an encounter with poison ivy ?

 

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The REAL reason why choosing organic matters

I can trace my health and wellness journey back to my teen years.  It was then that I was struck by the reality that I felt bad about animals being killed.  A friend had hit a chicken with her car and was really upset about it and so was I!  But the irony of sharing these tears over chicken burgers was not lost to my fourteen-year-old self.

My struggle toward mindful living could be seen in those early years but continues to be a major theme even now over twenty years later.  It’s SO hard in our culture where mindless and passive consumption seems to be the norm.  Just don’t think about it…

We all know that organic food is good for us, but is conventional “bad”?  Is it really such a big deal if me or my kids eat something that has been grown using conventional pesticides?

Well, on an individual level, no, it’s not terrible, I don’t think?  As a mom I’ve enjoyed taking a middle ground where we TRY to eat mostly organic but don’t stress about it too much.  And I REALLY want to avoid making our food into a stressful thing.

But…

What is the TRUE cost of “conventional” farming?  A few years ago I read this article and it kind of blew my mind.  Somehow the full effect of conventional farming was something I hadn’t really grasped before – the effect that crop dusting has on the farmers working the fields, the families living near by, the ground water and rivers that provide drinking water to the community, the nearby ecosystem of endangered animals, livestock that provide milk, cheese and meat to people. PEOPLE.  FAMILIES.  CHILDREN.  Woah…

It just made and makes me sick to think that this is what is considered normal.  Spraying toxic substances with KNOWN cancer causing chemicals onto our food and onto farmers and nearby families.   And THIS is “normal” and “conventional”?  And I’m the weird one for wanting to seek out organic?

In the past year or so I’ve been thinking more and more about where “stuff” comes from too. Discovering Konmari was super inspiring for me in this regard.  The fact that consumption is the leading cause of global warming rather than just population is a very interesting and upsetting reality. Somehow I had managed to go 34 years without thinking about the environmental impact of manufacturing and the impact of manufacturing on the people who work in the factories, the families who live nearby and breathe in the pollution from the factories, the animals in the surrounding areas…

I think for most people (myself included) there is a disconnect between what it actually MEANS when we buy something.  What is the impact on a broader scale?  Where does the cotton for my new t-shirt come from?  Who picked it?  What was the factory like where it was made?  What sorts of toxic chemicals were used in the growing, harvesting and manufacturing of it? The effects of GMO cotton seeds (Monsanto!!!) on the PEOPLE  of the villages is upsetting for sure.  Here’s a good recourse for seeking out ethical and fair trade clothing companies, and my favorite for affordable and ethical basics here.

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The idea of “Fair Trade” being a thing you can choose is baffling to me too.  Why is this a choice?  Why is unethical treatment of workers “conventional” and we have to seek out clothes and food that were manufactured in ways that allow people to retain dignity and a minimal quality of life?  Organic manufacturing tends to be better in this regard too, which is a good reminder to me when I’m feeling temped by low prices.

When my first baby was born I really tried to only put her in organic clothes.  My reasoning behind it was that her skin was so delicate and I didn’t want chemicals seeping into her sweet little body.  People thought that was strange.  I’ve tried for years to buy mostly organic food to keep my family healthy.  I always justify it with the idea that I am voting with my dollar and the more people who demand organic, the more affordable it will come for everyone.

I never thought about the REALLY important reason to choose organic though.  The unseen and unheard PEOPLE who quietly work in the farms and factories.  The FAMILIES who live nearby.  I want to choose to support their health and quality of life too.  Call me idealistic, I don’t care.  That’s a compliment to me for sure.  Because I WANT things to be better.  I NEED to see the world start to heal from years of mistreatment and neglect. Our children NEED to grow up as gentle and mindful consumers.  This is the REAL reason why choosing organic matters.

This is the kind of stuff that just screams “sustainable and joyful” to me.  I really want to feel truly good and joyful about the choices I make as a consumer.  Yes, it’s more expensive to buy this way.  But what if we all just bought less? And I take it one day and one decision at a time.  Because EVERYthing makes a difference.  Even the smallest change matters.  That being said, I’m far from perfect on this stuff.  Sometimes convenience just wins out.  But I’m trying!

What are your thoughts on this?  Any good recourses for living a more mindful life as a consumer?

 

DIY essential oil bug spray

It’s Spring, which means that in addition to the amazing rebirth of flowers and leaves, the bug are back too! Essential oils can be a great all natural way to help deter pesky and dangerous bugs.  The list of oils that serve as insect deterrents is long so I picked out a few of the ones I’ve seen most commonly listed to make my DIY tick spray.  I used equal parts of the following Young Living essential oils:

Geranium

Eucalyptus Globulus

Lemongrass

Cedarwood

I put about 10 drops of each in a spray bottle with some high proof alcohol to help them disperse and filled with water.  I’m sure boiled or distilled water would be best but I just used tap.

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I’ve been using this mixture sprayed directly onto the back of my cats necks in the morning for the past month. I’ve only found one tick, which is better than during the same time period last year using a conventional toxic treatment.  The added bonus is that this blend smells great and from an aromatherapy perspective is very uplifting and relaxing!  I’ve done a LOT of research on essential oil brands and I only trust Young Living oils to have the potency and purity necessary to be effective and safe.  You can read more about this here.

This mixture is also nice to spray on your legs or clothes when going into area where you are expecting to find ticks.  I also make it a habit to shower and do a tick check within an hour of returning from the woods.  Removing ticks quickly is the best way to prevent them from transmitting disease but there is plenty on that available elsewhere on the internet!

If you are more concerned with mosquitos using the Purification blend in a similar way would be a good place to start.  It contains Citronella, which has been historically used to keep bugs away.  Purification contains Tea Tree though, which is one to be avoided on cats so I didn’t include it in this spray.

Good luck and let me know how this works for you!

 

SUPER simple non-toxic air freshener

I used to be a big fan of scented candles and incense. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to go to a college that didn’t allow you to burn incense in your room!  Haha.   I bought conventional brands because they were cheap and smelled nice.

That all changed when I got pregnant for the first time all of a sudden I had a HUGE aversion to scented anything. It was like my body instinctively knew that they weren’t good for me.   I even ditched my perfume collection because I just didn’t have the stomach for it anymore.  I avoided that said “fragrance” after learning it was usually just a nice word for synthetic toxic chemicals that happened to have a smell.

Many air fresheners contain “phthalates which are hazardous chemicals know to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems”.  The really crazy thing is that since these products are food the manufacturers don’t even have to list that on the label! They can even call the product “unscented” or “all natural” and still be full of toxic chemicals KNOWN to cause cancer.  But if you are breathing something in, you are consuming it.  It’s getting into your blood and your cells.  That’s just how it is. See source here. 

Discovering essential oils has been a reawakening to the world of scents for me. Finally I found a healthy way to scent the air and myself! Diffusing true therapeutic grade oils smells great and you are getting the health benefits of the oils at the same tine.  I have a cool mist diffuser that we use daily and LOVE.  I like diffusing calming blends in the afternoon and sleep enhancing blends in the bedroom at night. If we feel any sickness coming on I choose blends that boost immunity.  It’s all SO lovely!

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But my inspiration for THIS post is my SUPER simple non-toxic bathroom air freshener!  Young Living’s Purification blend is PERFECT oil to use if you are making this for the bathroom as it really helps to clean the air and has a fresh scent but you can have fun and experiment with different oils! I have one for the bedroom that has lavender.  It’s so nice to spritz over the bed before getting in or on the sheets when I change them.

The supplies you will need are:

  • Glass spray bottles
  • Alcohol
  • Essential oil of your choice
  • water

Glass spray bottles are best to use since essential oils  can break down petrochemicals and therefore degrade the plastic over time.  I bought my spray bottles here.  Pour in a few tablespoons of alcohol. I used vodka but any clear alcohol should work.  Then about 10-20 drops essential oils.  I’m way into my Young Living oils as you may have noticed.  If you want to hear more about why check out my post on “My Essential Oil Obsession”.

But anyway, just combine the alcohol, essential oils, water and shake before using.  That’s it!IMG_0147

Purification just smells CLEAN to me and I love how it makes my house smell like I’ve been scrubbing the floors even when it’s been a while since that actually happened! Another added bonus of Purification spray is that it doubles as a bug spray since one of the main ingredients in Purification is Citronella!

So I have my Purification foaming soap and the air freshener in the bathroom at all times and LOVE them!  I hope you do too!

 

My Essential Oil Obsession

magnets.pngA few months ago I finally got around to attending an essential oil workshop at my friends house.  I had a feeling I would like it but I didn’t realize how life changing it would be for me.  For real.  As I sat listening to her talk about all the ways she uses oils in her life it was like the missing piece of my life was being explained to me.

I used to hear people talk about essential oils (or EOs as we call them) and I thought it was just a bunch of people who felt relaxed by nice smells.  I like smells, I thought, but I can’t imagine why they are SO into them.  Then I went and learned.  EOs are the oils of various plants that are extracted through specific distilling practices that allow them to retain various healing compounds.  Just in the same way that eating herbs and spices can be very healthy for us, consuming EOs, through inhalation, application on the skin or internally feeds our body with those same healing compounds.  They help to support our body’s systems to bring it back to balance.  They are also full of super high levels of antioxidants.

My friend’s talk was about Young Living essential oils specifically.  I was a little skeptical about why these oils would be worth so much more than the oils at health food stores but after her talk and then doing a lot of my own research it all made sense.  Young Living owns 9 of their own farms around the world where they grow, harvest, distill and bottle most of their own oils using BEYOND organic and sustainable practices.  They use essential oils instead of pesticides and weed by hand.  I’m big into organic gardening and permaculture so this is important to me.  They have also been around for over 20 years with this same mission.

All of the other companies I could find seem to source their oils from a variety of places and can’t have the same level of oversight in the production.  That’s really important since EOs are a largely unregulated industry where companies can pop up overnight and claim to be “therapeutic” or “100% pure” without any oversight. Many EOs on the market are completely synthetic, have fillers, were made with chemical solvents or were made with high heat and high pressure distilling practices which affect the healing qualities of the oils. It’s definitely a time where you get what you pay for.  It takes 27sq ft of lavender to make enough pure essential oil to fill a 15ml bottle.  If you find it somewhere for $5 then there is NO WAY it’s actually pure oil.  It just doesn’t add up.

Essential oils each have distinct fragrances as well as individual healing components.  My favorite is Frankincense, which is high in sesquiterpenes which stimulates and oxygenates the limbic system of the brain which helps to elevate our mood and helps us relax.  I LOVE it when I’m feeling stressed out in the afternoon or before a meditation.  It’s SO good!

Another favorite oil of mine is Thieves Blend.  This one contains clove oil, which is one of the highest antioxidant oils available!  I like to put a drop in my tea or on the soles of my feet when I’m feeling run down.  It tastes great and really helps me to feel better fast!

Lemon oil is probably the one I go through fastest!  I like to have a few drops in a big glass of water with a sprinkle of mineral salt (which helps it to disperse) to start my day.  I can really feel the difference when I forget to take it!  Lemon oil is great for helping to cleanse the body and support the liver and lymphatic system.  It’s also awesome as a natural version of goo gone and for helping to soothe acid reflux when rubbed on the throat!

RC is my husband’s favorite blend. It helps to support the respiratory system and he likes to put it over his sinuses when he’s feeling congested.  It has the added bonus of helping him to breath better and cuts down his snoring!

Peppermint is one of the strongest oils and Young Living’s peppermint really packs a punch!  It’s very soothing when applied to the temples if your head is aching.  It’s also nice on sore muscles and is even helpful for digestion when you rub it directly over your stomach or have it in a drop of water!

Peace and Calming II is the oil that my daughter asks for the most.  It’s a lovely blend and she says,”it helps me feel calm and control my body better”.  Many parents swear by this or the original Peace and Calming (which is often out of stock due to the seasonal availability of Blue Tansy)  for helping kids calm down from tantrums.  It’s also very soothing for adults and I like it as an everyday fragrance!

I could go ON AND ON!!! Just ask my friends!  Lol.  But really, essential oils have been such a positive addition to our lives.  They have helped me to get rid of a lot of toxic products around the house and have give me so much more energy and I feel better than ever!

After hearing my friend present I knew that I NEEDED to get some Young Living oils for myself and that because I would OBVIOUSLY be telling everyone about them I should probably just go ahead and make a hobby business out of it.  Definitely let me know if you are interested in getting started on your own oily journey!  Sharing these amazing oils brings me so much joy 🙂

The best way to get started with Young Living essential oils is to become a member by purchasing the Premium Starter Kit.  The kit includes eleven of their most popular oils, an essential oil diffuser and a bunch of samples.  Becoming a member is a no stings attached way to get your Young Living oils at 24% off of the retail price for LIFE as long as you spend $50 a year to keep your account active. I always recommend becoming a member and starting with the Premium Starter Kit as it’s the best way to really start USING your oils! The kit has a great assortment of oils and you have something on hand to help with anything that comes up.  Becoming a member also gives you access to our members only Facebook groups where you can connect with lots of other Young Living members and hear about all of the ways they are using and loving their oils.  Below is my link to get started.  I also offer ongoing classes locally in Westchester County NY and occasionally in Maine. Send me an email if you need any help or have questions!

Leah

LMKOLENDA@gmail.com

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/start?sponsorid=3365922&enrollerid=3365922&type=member

If you want to read more about how Young Living works read my post on it here:

http://sustainableandjoyful.com/2016/03/29/how-to-get-started-with-young-living-essential-oils/