April 24, 2009

Something for Mom

I love food. I always have. Typically, my 4'11" frame can handle most of what I eat and usually my own will power takes care of the rest. However, after having our 3rd child at the "advanced maternal age" of 37 my metabolism isn't what it used to be.

Part of my challenge was that I envisioned the having a 3rd child to be like having just 1 child. Nap time is free time, plenty of opportunity for walking off the baby weight, and going to Target without someone presenting an emotional case for why she or he MUST HAVE A TOY RIGHT NOW! It is like that- mostly. What I hadn't anticipated (or perhaps I just forgot) is how long it takes to feed a baby, change a baby, and load a baby into the car. Throw in the requirement to be at school on time for picking up the older kids and I'm done. There is no time for exercise, at least for me. I do know some people who get up at 5:30 to exercise. Good for them! I get up at 5:30 to be with a 1 year old.

The result: No time to exercise, no "easy" way to lose the baby weight, and way too much Easter candy. My body was on sugar overload and gave no indication of stopping. So, time to do something for me and still get the laundry done, run errands, and cook dinner.

I tried the Young Living 5 Day Nutritive Cleanse. I was excited to start it and looking forward to breaking the sugar habit. I had read the instructions and felt that I could certainly handle this- I had given birth 3 times hadn't I? I had to clean out my system and kick the sugar habit. I could do this. And if I lost some weight in the process- bonus!

I did do it. All 5 days. However, as a mom who is responsible for 3 kids for 14 hours in a day, there are some things that I feel I should share for anyone else considering this.

Day 1- This was definitely the most difficult day. I had almost no energy- and I'm a pretty energetic person. I didn't feel the toxic symptoms of gas until after the 2nd "meal" and never felt bloated. I attribute this to the good eating habits I had for January through March. If you are a stay at home mom- I would start on a weekend when dad can help. I needed a nap in the afternoon- I was exhausted. The caffeine headache in the middle of the day was almost unbearable. I couldn't wait to go to bed so it would hopefully go away.

Day 2- I had slightly more energy, but not much. There was still some gas, but I never felt bloated. I didn't really experience food cravings (as the program literature warns) but I did miss food- especially dinner. The headache persisted as well- not easy on a Monday. I was committed though and kept going.

Day 3-Finally I awoke with more energy than I had the day before. The headache was subsiding and I was used to the protocol. Lots of water, some snacks of fruit (which I love) and I was actually having fun putting some of my favorite oils, lemon and Thieves, into the shake. On this day though, there was a new side effect. The Ninxja Red (a very high anti oxidant drink- think of V8 Splashers on steroids) was giving me heartburn- something to which I am not usually susceptible.

Day 4- I skipped the Ninxja Red in the morning, and was getting used to no coffee. I had almost my normal energy and there was no headache. I learned that in order to avoid the heart burn, I had to drink the Ninxja Red first then have the shake. That worked like a charm. However, by dinner time I was ready to quit. I missed food. A lot. I was still cooking dinner for a family and not being able to eat it was just plain sad. But I kept going. Had another shake for dinner and stuck to the plan. At this point I felt lighter and could see my belly (where a lot of my baby weight remained) getting smaller. My jeans fit better too. I knew I only had one more day to go. So far it was all worth it.

Day 5- I had my normal energy back. No headache. No heartburn. 5lbs. less on the scale. I cruised through my last day and high-fived my husband when I had my last shake for dinner.

In short- here are some highlights of things to consider as a parent before doing this cleanse:
  • Be prepared mentally.
  • If you are home with kids, start on a Saturday. If you work in an office, I'd start on a Monday.
  • Have the support of your spouse or partner.
  • Have the recommended snacks on hand and available.
  • Prepare your shakes a little while before you anticipate needing them. They are very filling but my most tempting time to quit was when I was hungry.

What I have learned and will take away from this experience:
  • This is only a first step. Maintaining with diet and exercise is next.
  • Eat healthier snacks that are high in protein and fiber.
  • Have more fruit on hand to have as a snack.
  • Cut back on bread even if it's whole wheat.
  • Drink more water. It flushes out the system.

My next steps:
  • Begin taking Thermaburn to raise my metabolism in my newly cleaned digestive system.
  • Have a shake instead of macaroni and cheese for lunch. The protein shake can be used as a meal replacement for continued weight management.
  • Remember how well my clothes fit now so I have fruit for dessert instead of getting back into sugar and candy
  • Have a cup of coffee.

April 22, 2009

Getting Closer

Purification. After 10 days of trying a new Essential Oil for our little Eczema problem, I believe I have found a working solution. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that this is a working solution for my child and it took a few tries of different oils to make it work. Every child is different so by all means, try this but if it doesn't work, feel free to try something else.

What I have been looking for in my search is the almost immediate response to an Essential Oil like I saw with the lemon. My experience is that when it comes to the skin, a response is almost immediate, whereas finding relief with building up respiratory function or clearing up a cold, a serious positive response may take a day or two. I found that neither the Gentle Baby or the Frankincense were working the way I had hoped, so I did in fact move on to Purification.

Here is what worked for me and for my little one: Once a day I combine equal parts of Avocado oil with Purification (which is a proprietary Young Living blend of citronella, rosemary, tea tree and other oils) and rub it all over my little one's body. The upside for me: I love the smell! After more than a week of this, I have seen a continued improvement and healthy response from the skin. I believe the Lemon provided a first step to healthy skin, and the Purification provided the second step. As is often the case, there is not one oil or one solution for a particular problem, and in mine this two part process is now successful.

How I use Purification for me:
  • Put a few drops in a small spray bottle filled with water and clean my counter tops

How I use Purification for my kids:
  • Mix equal parts Purification with vegetable oil and rub all over the body for Eczema relief
  • Use directly on skin after a bug bite
  • Put a few drips in a small spray bottle filled with water and use a bug spray
*disclaimer: these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and the recommendations are solely based on personal experience.

April 14, 2009

Continued Quest

An interesting thing happened today. After I put Lemon Essential Oil and Frankincense on my youngest son's feet, my fingers got very dry. Worse than they have been in months. I read up on my Lemon some more and found that lemon is used to balance skin and combat acne. It's all coming together.

Here is what I think happened. When I first used Lemon on my son, his skin balanced itself out. The parts that should have been soft and silky became that way and therefore the parts that were dry patches showed more clearly. This is when I introduced Frankincense. After seeing my almost immediate Lemon results I have noticed that in 3 days of Frankincense, the result is not what I had hoped. Not that anything is getting "worse" but it's just not getting better.

So, here I am in part 3 of my Eczema cure quest. I am now taking away Lemon from my daily routine (as I think it has served its purpose) and instead using a combination of Avocado oil and Gentle Baby. I use Avocado oil as a basic vegetable oil and,, as a friend told me you only want to use something that you would be willing to eat. Many people use almond oil, but as my kids have nut allergies, I went with avocado. Good news- you can cook with it too. Gentle Baby is a Young Living Blend which includes both Lemon and Lavender (Lavender was to be my next test) along with 8 other oils. For about 24 hours now I have taken a dime sized amount of Avocado oil and added 4 drops of Gentle Baby to it. I rub my hands together and then rub that combination on his body essentially everywhere. This combination can also be used on diaper rash.

There will be more to come on this, but if it doesn't work, next I'm trying the same thing iwth Purification- which I happen to love. I think the Lavender smell in Gentle Baby bothers me, but as I've said, you don't have to love the smell.

April 12, 2009

He Smells Like A Pizza

Oregano. It does make my middle son smell like a pizza, but I do find that it is working to make his breathing much better. Oregano (Origanum compactum) is one of the most powerful and versatile essential oils. It contains strong immune-enhancing and antioxidant properties and supports the respiratory system. It can be used topically or diluted in rice or soy milk.

I started by putting 1-2 drops on the bottoms of my son's feet twice a day. At night I have to do it when he's sleeping because the smell is quite strong. In the morning I do it before putting his socks on for the day. I was patient and it took about 5 days to see a difference. Now I can see improvement in his early morning breathing. It is no longer strained while speaking first thing.

However, because of the smell I tried using Frankincense instead of the Oregano. When applied topically it helps to build respiratory function. The result was that within two days my son needed two puffs from his inhaler yesterday morning rather than the one he was getting. On its own, it was not strong enough for what I needed. I am back on the Oregano twice a day.

How I use Oregano on my kids:
  • 1-2 drops on the feet twice a day.

How I use it for myself:
  • 1-2 drops in any food I am cooking that could use a little taste of Oregano.

Eczema Relief Part II

In my ongoing quest for an effective treatment for my youngest son's Eczema, I had thought I found the answer in Lemon essential oil alone. Now that I am 10 days into my experiment I have a clearer view into what's happening.
The Lemon essential oil has made my son's skin healthy overall from the inside out. This means that I can feel the difference in the elasticity and general smoothness compared to previously when it was just dry all over. The result is that I can now see all the little dry patches that still exist.
What this means: the cure all that I thought was a cure all needs some additional help.

My next steps: I am going to try both Frankincense and Lavender- both are be good for the skin. Lavender can help skin irritations as well as cuts. Frankincense is helpful for aging and dry skin.

I am trying Frankincense first on the bottoms of the feet and directly on the skin's dry patches. Hopefully I will be able to post results soon.

April 7, 2009

What a Pain in My Hands!

Raven is a very soothing oil that I have typically used on my kids when they are congested. This week I found another use for myself and I finally have use of my hands. Both of them and full range.

It's all thanks to Raven. I had tried Peppermint and Idaho Balsam Fir for the carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my hands. After 4 days, none had worked so I knew I needed to try something else. The pain had gotten so bad that I was unable to hold anything heavy or drive easily- not good when you have 3 kids. As I was looking at the oils in this blend it contained most of what I had tried already but I thought perhaps something was missing from the single oils. So I massaged a few drops of Raven on my hand and was pain free for a few hours. I will be continuing with Raven a few times a day for the next few days as well as being very careful when picking up the wild child who needs me.

Addendum- after 2 days of using Raven on my hand, the pain was tremendously improved, but I noticed swelling. I turned to Peppermint as an anti-inflammatory and put it right on my hand a little while after using Raven. Now, at the end of the day the swelling is mostly gone and I think tomorrow I will try a combination of Raven and Peppermint at the same time. I believe that for my that will be just the right combination. If not, Deep Relief will be my next experiment.

How I use Raven on my kids:
  • Place 1-2 drops undiluted on the bottoms of their feet when congested.
  • Dilute and put 1-2 drops on their backs when congested.

How I use Raven for myself:
  • Directly on my hands for muscle pain relief from carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Combine (undiluted) with equal drops of lavender and rub on my abdomen to relive pain from cramps

April 6, 2009

400 Years Ago

Thieves is right up there with R.C. and Lemon as essential oils that I truly feel I cannot live without. The story behind Thieves is this: 400 years ago a band of French thieves anointed themselves with an aromatic mixture prior to robbing plague victims. This homemade blend of natural ingredients prevented them from contracting the disease, and upon their capture they relinquished the secret recipe. The Young Living blend for Thieves is based on this same recipe and offers the same kind of defense, and has proven effective against airborne bacteria.

I use Thieves every day on my kids. They get the oil on their feet twice a day and all I can say is that my husband noticed that while this winter was particularly bad with the stomach flu and what was known as the "fever thing," our kids stayed healthy. It's important to mention another factor here as far as the flu is concerned. The flu shot.

Personally, I'm skeptical about the flu shot. I totally understand that it can help the youngest kids and older people to avoid this horrible sickness. I personally have only had a flu shot once in my life and that was at least 8 years ago. However, because one child has asthma, and the other is still just a toddler, I had all 3 kids get a flu shot. For my middle child it was required by the school so I didn't really have a choice there. Where this gets interesting is here: My son's entire school was required to get a flu shot and there were record numbers of kids out sick with the stomach flu in February and the first half of March. In my daughter's class, 6 kids went home in one day. In the other class for her grade, 11 kids were out in a single day. That's half the class. My kids stayed healthy. And if they did catch a cold, it was minor and gone in 3 days rather than 10. During this time, I had a play date with 6 of my son's friends during the short break in February. All I heard about that day was how all the kids visiting in my house had been throwing up and of course their siblings too. After everyone left, I used the Thieves spray to spray down the entire first floor, the playroom, and the toys. My kids never got sick. More importantly, I never got sick. We all agree, if MOM get sick, we're screwed.

So, I have come to love Thieves. I use the essential oil, the waterless hand sanitizer, the foaming hand soap, the throat lozenges, and soon I'll be trying the dental floss.

How my kids use Thieves:
  • I put 1-2 drops on the bottoms of their feet twice a day.
  • My daughter loves the smell so I put 2 drops on a tissue and put the tissue in her lunch box.

How I use Thieves:
  • I put 2 drops under my tongue and chase it with some Peppermint. Clears the head and helps the sore throat.
  • Thieves lozenges have cleared my sinus stuffiness
  • A friend of mine rubs it on his gums before going to the dentist because it has a natural numbing effect.

I Call it Liquid Gold

R.C. This is one of the most important Young Living Essential Oils I have used. I bought it because I have a child with Asthma. One of the "good" things that came from my experience with this condition is that I learned the importance of catching a sickness from the very first sneeze or cough. In my son's case there is usually a cold that seems pre-programed to move from his head to his chest. That's when it gets nasty. And, in our case at the very first sign of a cold the amount of drugs needed to prevent the cold from moving to his chest and causing serious breathing issues doubled. Two inhalers with increased amount of dosages.

When I started using the YLEO products in my arsenal, I incorporated R.C. specifically for my son. I would rub it on his feet and put it directly on his chest and back twice a day. I also put Thieves on his feet at the same time. The result was calm sleep and a cold that lasted only 3 days (rather than 10) and did not escalate into an asthma problem.

R.C. success stories:
  • A friend of mine started using RC on her son's feet and was able to take her son off his nebulizer 5 days early.
  • Another friend (who also happens to be a nurse) was able to use RC during her daughter's cold and avoided putting her daughter back on a daily dose of Flovent.
  • The most important thing and best thing that R.C. does is help kids sleep at night. if a child is up all night coughing, guess who else is too.
What I am ultimately striving for is to take this coming spring and summer to build up my son's respiratory function with a combination of R.C. (when he has a cold) and Oregano daily.

How I Use RC on my children:
On my older son I use it on his feet twice a day during a cold.
On my younger son (a toddler) I put 1-2 drops on the bottom of his feet twice a day at the first sign of a green booger. Inevitably, the cold does not materialize at all.

April 4, 2009

Eczema Relief- Finally!

Lemon. I have been on a mission for 13 months to find a safe and comfortable solution for my youngest child's Eczema. Dry patchy skin. Scabs from him scratching himself. Even some scarring from so much scratching. Cradle cap/dandruff as well to go with the overall condition. I have used 4 different soaps to wash him, used rigorous bathing and moisturizing plans, at least 3 different moisturizers, and a steriod based foam/lotion prescription from the dermatologist.

Until now, the only thing I did that worked well was to take 4000mg of Vitamin C myself knowing that he would get it in the breast milk. (Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory and Eczema is an inflammation of the skin.) But this only lasted for about 9 months, and within 2 months of not nursing the very dry itchy skin was back with a vengeance.

On a whim, I decided to tried an experpiment with Lemon essential oil. Lemon is said to be good for the skin and revitalizing. So I started putting it on the bottoms of my son's feet about 2 days ago. Within the first 24 hours, I saw an incredible improvement. His skin is silky smooth, and his dandruff is all but gone. I was amazed, but more importantly, happy for my child and the comfort he will be feeling. I will continue to use the one moisturizer that seemed to work best for him (CeraVe) but am so relieved that I have found a solution. A healthy natural solution without steroids.

APPLICATION: 1-2 drops on the bottoms of the feet twice a day
WARNING: Avoid direct sunlight or UV rays for 12 hours after applying Lemon essential oil. (I fully expect to be able to continue usage on the bottoms of his feet even when we are more exposed to the sun on a daily basis in the coming summer months)

Using Young Living Essential Oils

I use only Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils. There are some basics around using the oils that everyone should know before starting.
Some should not be used if you are pregnant or nursing. See website for exact details.
Some oils can be sensitive to the skin and if you are considering using them on a child, try it on your self first.
If you use an oil that does result in a sensitivity, use a pure vegetable oil to dilute it- NOT water. Water will only intensify the strength.
With some oils (such as the citrus based ones- lemon, grapefruit, citrus blend) require avoiding sun on the skin for up to 12 hours after using them. For these, I'd use them only on the soles of the feet or at night.
Single essential oils (rather than blends) can be ingested either alone or by mixing in food or water. Refer to the product guide or website if you are unsure of anything.
As I create posts and details about each oil I use, I will list any sensitivities I am aware of as well as if I ingest any directly.
For a look into the products, any restrictions, or more general information please visit the site for Young Living Essential Oils. Select your country and then view the products. There is very detailed information on the products and of course if I recommend anything to you directly, I'll give you all the details I can before use. These oils have started me and my family on a path of wellness that has enhanced and improved our lives. I still use conventional medicine, but I have seen these products work and I'll try just about anything to keep my kids happy and healthy.

Whoa That's Hot!

Peppermint. When you smell Peppermint it just clears those nasal passages like nothing I've ever experienced before. It's very helpful for sore muscles, clearing the sinuses, and I'm hoping with the Carpal Tunnel in my wrists from carrying around a baby. Be careful: Peppermint is a HOT oil. It takes a minute or so, but once applied you can feel the heat working. For this reason, I would not place it on kids skin- even with dilution.

How I have used Peppermint:
Sore muscles. Place a few drops on the palm of your hand and rub your hands together. Then rub into sore muscles anywhere- neck and back, crampy abdomen, or your knee. I have been lazy about moving my legs properly when bending or shifting to pick up something like a child or a toy. The result is that for the first time in my life I have knee pain. Last week I put a couple of drops on directly on the area around my knee and within about a minute, my knee pain was gone and stayed gone for about 8 hours.
Place a drop on your thumb and then put your thumb on the roof of your mouth. I'm trying this one as I write this and I think I need another drop but I can feel the sinus pressure fading. This is awesome because I'm one of those people who does not get relief from something like Sudafed.
A word to the wise- don't rub peppermint on your body and then go to the bathroom. There could be a painful result there and I'll let you use your imagination on that one.

You Don't Have to Love the Smell

Lavender. It's all over the place. It's in kids products, adults products, laundry detergent, cleaning products, dish washing soap, body soap and shampoo. When it's too strong I don't love the smell- in fact it's one of those things I just can't stand. (I have a friend who feels the same way about Basil in the essential oil form). However, it's wonderful for the skin and will relieve the pain from a scrape or cut. It also has a calming effect when used as aromatherapy.

How I have used Lavender for the kids:
cuts and scrapes (just put a few drops of the oil directly on a cut or burn)
calming my kids. I call it the After School Oil (just put a couple of drops on their pulse points or bottoms of their feet.) I'm not sure who's giving them caffeine before they are returned to me but SOMETHING makes them very jumpy and excited and some days that's just too much at 3pm.
How I have used Lavender for myself:
I combine a couple of drops of Lavender with either Peppermint or Raven and apply directly to my abdomen when I am crampy. Sometimes you just need advil, but the oil combination works well and smells good. It's great at night as the Lavender has a calming effect which is lovely just before bed. Lucky for me the Raven or Peppermint smell overpowers the Lavender and I can just let it work without my issues.

How I Got Started

My journey into essential oils began a little over a year ago when I noticed that our youngest child had eczema. I suspected allergies to accompany the skin condition and was ultimately right. After several conversations with the pediatrician and confirmation of the allergies, I decided I needed to change my plan of attack for the health of the whole family. I was ready and willing to try anything.
Enter the mom's power breakfast! I got together with two of my mom friends and we went all out on natural remedies for babies and older kids. Actually, they talked and I listened. This whole aspect of health care was totally new for me. We talked about how to keep kids from getting sick in the first place and how to create a balance between conventional and natural medicine.
At the time of our first breakfast the baby had a cold. Not a huge deal except that at 5 weeks old, infants cannot take Tylenol for a fever. We were doing everything we could to avoid getting there. So at my friend's suggestion I started taking 4,000 mg Vitamin C for myself that the baby would get in the breast milk to help combat his cold. While Vitamin C is unable to stop a cold by itself I felt better knowing I was doing what I could. This is where my journey started.
I picked up a copy of Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child and started to incorporate the Young Living Essential Oils into my daily regimen of prevention.
Nothing will entirely prevent kids from getting sick. In fact, if they didn't get sick they wouldn't build up their immune systems. I was looking for a way to minimize the impact of the viruses they pick up and avoid that long 10 day green and yellow drippy nose. I believe I have found something close to the balance for which I strive.