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Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is one of those scents I always hated.  After talking to different people, I figured it was either Love Young Living - Lavender Essential Oil - 15 mlLavender, Hate Lilacs, or Love Lilacs, Hate Lavender.  Lilac is still one of my favourite scents and I’m going to miss the sweet purple blooms this spring, but I’ve found something interesting:  I don’t hate lavender anymore.

When my starter kit (Everyday Oils) came with not one, but TWO bottles of lavender oil in it, I thought, “Well *this* will last us a long time….”  I used it sparingly, and mostly on Brendan (to help him relax before bed).  But what I discovered was that Young Living’s lavender EO is different than the lavender scented “stuff” I’d smelled in the past.  The artificial (or less-than-top-quality) products with lavender oil I’d used in the past had a musky, off-scent to it that was disagreeable to me.  This lavender is far “cleaner” and its scent is actually pleasant, not one that I try to avoid.

So what does lavender EO do?  Most people know it for a calming, help-you-sleep benefit, but we use it on mosquito bites (yes, even in the desert, there are a few flying around) with spectacular success, on cuts and scrapes, on cotton balls for earaches and ear infections, and to reduce stress.

Lavender is well-known as a burn-healer; Rene Gattefossé was a French scientist who was badly burned in a laboratory explosion and tested lavender oil to see how it healed his burns.  Miraculously, it did just that.  In ancient Greece, a physician/botanist/pharmacologist named Pedanius Dioscorides extolled the medicinal benefits of lavender oil, and Romans used it in baths and to deter insects. Shakespeare even wrote about lavender in The Winter’s Tale and included a recipe in the play for lavender tea.  It’s been around for centuries and used medicinally for equally as long.

Japanese researchers have found what they believe to be a link between lowered serum cholesterol and improved coronary blood flow in men who have been exposed to lavender as an aromatherapy treatment, suggesting that one’s coronary health can benefit from the relaxation induced by lavender.

The science behind these ancient oils really fascinates me – in some ways, I think we’ve almost come to the end of ourselves with our over-dependence on laboratory-created supplements and medications, which bleeds over in to an interest in a back-to-basics, more natural way of caring for our bodies. The fact that scientists are still studying lavender and its benefits amuses me, but empirical evidence that backs up what history has known for ages is always good, I suppose.  :)

Lavender oil is one of the less-expensive oils in our arsenal of essential oils; a 15ml bottle is $27.30 (plus tax), and local customers are welcomed to contact me to tack on to my order for a savings of 20%.  Our two little 5ml bottles of lavender are almost gone, and as much as we use it now, we’re due a larger bottle.  I never would’ve thought that I’d use lavender like I do, but I’m delighted to have such a potent and useful EO in our home.

I’m starting something new here at A Mother’s Heart – partly for you and partly for me.  As we’ve forayed away from traditional medicine and in to more natural remedies, we’ve had pretty darned good success.  And because I’m one who would rather write than talk (yeah, I almost never meet the “number of words a woman speaks” by the end of the day [unless I’m on the phone with Elizabeth]), it seems good to write down what I’ve learned and continue to learn.

By way of disclosure, I am a Young Living distributor, but I don’t *do* anything with that, except order oils for our family at a discounted rate.  If you’re local, I’m happy to order oils for you and share the benefit of my discount, but I’m never going to pressure anyone in to becoming a distributor or signing up.  Ever.  I’ve done the MLM-thing before and it didn’t end well – and I like these oils too much to spoil it for myself.  😉

Peppermint oil (mentha piperita) is one of the first oils I tried – I’ve officially given one of my two bottles away and replenished the supply so  that we have it on hand when we need it.  YL’s Peppermint is very strong, and its medicinal value is high in our home.  We use it to cure headaches, to stimulate our minds (alertness), to relieve sinus pressure and pain, and (for me, especially) to release earache pressure.  We’ve learned to not rub it in our eyes or get it too close to our eyes (because they water at its strength), but it’s one of the first oils we reach for if we feel “off.”

It’s hard to describe what the sensation of the Peppermint oil is, but I assure you, it’s FAR more than the old York Peppermint Patty commercials used to talk about – it’s fresh, cold, and very, very minty.  When applied topically to the temples, forehead, or sinus areas, you can feel it “sinking in” as it were and relieving the congestion and pressure.  Mark had a headache for hours a month or so ago and nothing got rid of it.  I encouraged him to put some peppermint oil on his temples and the back of his neck – and within a 10 minute time frame, his hours-long-headache was GONE.

I’ve also moistened a small part of a cotton ball with it and then placed the i0 where my sinus cavities are, especially right before going to sleep.  The sinus pressure is alleviated and I sleep very soundly after application of the oil.

We have yet to use it for digestive issues, but it can be taken internally (a few drops in a glass of water or in an empty capsule) or applied topically to an area of the abdomen with digestive discomfort and the pain is gone quickly.  One of my friends used it (topically) on her baby who had terrible acid reflux for about a week and after that, there was no more acid reflux and no more need for acid-reducing medication.  Pretty impressive!

Because the FDA is what it is, Young Living and any other natural distributor of essential oils cannot make health claims about their products – they must rely on the testimonials of individuals to spread the word.  So when you go to a website to look at oils, be aware that these stories cannot legally be conveyed, else they risk prosecution by the FDA.  There are many sites around the web that talk about the benefits and uses of essential oils, and if you ever have a question, feel free to shoot me an email.  I’ll research the answer and get back to you.

Look for more installments in this series in weeks to come

Around here, I’ve been trying to do things more “naturally” for a while now.  And between reading some articles on some of my long-term “cures” and some recent successes, I thought it was about time for an update.  :)

Back in 2002, I went off of Actos (pioglitazone – an insulin sensitizing medication) to control my PCOS symptoms.  Our insurance co-pay had skyrocketed from $25 per month for this medication to $100 per month, and it was simply unaffordable.  Researching my options, I knew about taking cinnamon capsules to control my insulin levels (PCOS is, at its root, an insulin-based disorder) and to stave off diabetes.  I tested the supplement out at 500mg several times per day and found success.  Admittedly, I wasn’t (and do not now) eat carb-loaded meals – I am a protein-type and I don’t do well on scads of carbohydrates.  But the cinnamon, when paired with a paleolithic eating plan (I despise the word “diet”) has worked well.  Cinnamon has the side effect of lowering cholesterol and inflammation levels in addition to controlling insulin excretion and re-sensitizing insulin receptors on cells.  As a result, my cholesterol is low, my inflammation levels are low, and my insulin resistance continues to go away, some 8 years later.  I do not need cinnamon every time I eat some carbs as I once did, but if I have a meal that includes potatoes or other forms of “white carbs,” I generally pop one and am fine; no insulin bounce, no blood sugar spikes, and generally, no GI-discomfort.  Ahem.

Reading about cinnamon today on Mercola.com reminded me that I was long-overdue on this update.  Some commenters were arguing about the type of cinnamon used; my experience says that either type (cassia cinnamon or ceylon cinnamon) is effective.  Some posted concerns that are commonly thrown out by allopathic (Western) medicine that there is a risk of coumadin overdose when taking cassia cinnamon, but as one who takes both cinnamon AND aspirin as part of a plan to stay off of coumadin (warfarin sodium) and who nearly succumbed to pulmonary emboli in 2000, I can tell you that my blood is no thinner now than it was when I was taking Actos and aspirin, prior to starting the cinnamon.  I simply don’t think this claim holds water.

I take 1000mg as needed; usually a couple of days per week and no more than that.

Cinnamon to control PCOS = BIG SUCCESS for me.

In 2009, we began supplementing with Vitamin D3 in large quantities.  I read up on it and was sufficiently satisfied that D3 would be very hard to overdose on (unlike what I was taught in school) and that it could positively affect our overall immunity.  Adding D3 to coconut oil (for the lauric acid which also boosts immunity) was my H1N1 plan when others were freaking out.  I was very uncomfortable with the lack of testing on the H1N1 vaccination and after reading about the adjutants in the vaccine, decided that there was no way in this world I would subject my family or myself to the vaccination.  As it turns out, H1N1 was more hype than reality, but the D3 doses convinced us to keep it up – we haven’t been sick (even a cold!) in over a year now.

The current wisdom is 35 units per pound of body weight (rounding up in the dosage isn’t harmful), with adults taking a minimum of 5000 units per day.  Mark and I take 6000 units per day because we get 2000 unit capsules at Costco, and Brendan takes 2000 units per day, which is just about right for his weight.  As he grows, he will also increase his intake of D3.  Capsules are tiny and easy to take, but if you have kids who can’t swallow them, it’s easy to pierce the capsules and mix the oil in to something they will drink or eat – it’s a very tiny amount.

This is a HUGE win for us, as my immune system tends to be a tad weaker than I’d like and in the past, I had a history of catching whatever Mark brought home and being down for several weeks.  Mark hasn’t brought anything home in over a year and I’ve been perfectly fine, too.  :)

This year (2010), as we moved to Arizona and procured what we thought would be better health insurance than what we had in Michigan (it’s not!), I quickly realized it was economically impossible to spend $180 per month on my asthma medication.  I needed a solution – and discovered an alternative way to keep my lungs healthier and my breathing clear.  After doing some research on homeopathic remedies and being quite skeptical, I ordered something called “tissue salts.”  Tissue salts are naturally occurring compounds in the body that are diluted (in this case, to 6X which is .000001% of the original strength) to minute levels.  When introduced to the body, the tissue salts are easily recognized and go where they are needed, relieving the symptoms.  It’s still allopathic medicine in that it treats a symptom and not the whole system, but in the face of not being able to breathe, I’ll take it.  My tissue salt combination consists of equal parts of KaliPhos, MagPhos, and NatSulph, bound together with lactose.  I take these daily as a preventative and if I have a flare, I’ll take extra.  Mark can hear a difference in my breathing (wheezing) and rales within five minutes.   There are no jitters, heart palpitations, or other side effects for me as there are with albuterol inhalers.

According to traditional Western wisdom, this shouldn’t work at all – when you dilute something THAT much, it shouldn’t have any affect.  And yet, I’m here today, breathing easier than ever, and completely off of my $180/month dose of Singulair.  I don’t claim to know HOW it works, but I can tell you it DOES indeed work.

Also started in 2010 is my personal supplementation of iodine tablets.  I began reading about iodine therapy a few months ago and decided to give it a whirl.  This is a form of detoxing at the moment and when I’m done with detoxing, it will be a form of supplementation.  Iodine is necessary for life, but salt doesn’t have enough (at least not in reasonable quantities – you’d need over 10 tablespoons of salt in order to get the right amount of iodine DAILY).  Iodine restores health to the thyroid gland, clears out toxins such as bromine, chlorine, and fluorine, increases sensitivity of endocrine receptors on cells, and reverses things like breast cancer, prostate cancer (by imploding the tumours on themselves), fibromyalgia, and PCOS.  I was skeptical on that last part, but the more I read, the more I became convinced to give it a try.

Detoxing from these heavy metals isn’t fun.  I’ll be honest.  There were days of traveling aches – my knuckles would ache, then my elbows, then my knees, then my hips.  There were days of ridiculous tiredness – I could get through the day fine, but would collapse by 9pm and sleep for 9 hours, still waking up exhausted.  But after 2 or 3 weeks, the aches went away (for the most part) and the tiredness is also gone.  I have more energy than i did and my bald patches seem to be sprouting new baby hairs that weren’t there before.  I’m going to continue on a loading dose of 37.5mg per day for another 7 weeks or so and then taper down to 12.5mg as a maintenance dose.  It’s both for continued health and thyroid support as much as it is preventative at this point, and I’m appreciating the results.

There are naysayers to the iodine theory, but there are naysayers to everything anymore.  I can’t tell you what will work for you, but as one who has consistently tested in the “low end of normal, but still normal” on thyroid tests and not been able to directly do anything about my lack of hair, cold nature (I was ALWAYS cold), and other symptoms, if this relieves some of these things, I’m completely sold.

I dislike the fact that allopathic medicine treats fibrocystic breast disease as “normal,” and yet when faced with therapeutic levels of iodine, there is NO fibrocystic breast disease.  As in, “it’s GONE!”  Clearly, iodine is useful in this application.  Historically, I know that iodine used to be added to bread and flour and then in the late 60s and early 70s, it was removed, substituted with bromine, which has no nutritional benefit (although it’s supposed to keep the flour nice and fresh for a long shelf life! </bitter>) and clogs iodine receptors in the body, causing fibrocystic breast nodules (cysts).

The jury’s not fully reconvened on the effectiveness of this treatment, but I’m recommending it to others, based on what I’ve read and researched and seen in my (formerly fibromyalgia-stricken) friend.  I’m putting my money on the iodine.  :)

So these are the major “therapies” I’m using to restore health to my body and my family without relying on compounded pharmaceuticals.  Paired with a natural eating plan and avoiding most processed foods, we’re in a good place and this is the right route for us.

If you’re looking for alternative treatments, I hope you find success with your chosen path as well.  :)

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