Natural Health
Better living through nature


Grief Relief Using Aromatherapy

Grief is something we all experience. No matter the path we take, we will unfortunately walk the journey of loss.  You might have lost a relationship, a job, a pet, or even a loved one. We often experience loneliness during these times, and we can find answers in all the wrong places. I am not a psychologist or an experienced grief counselor, but I have experienced several losses in my short life. 

olfactory
Photo by Getty Images/Brzozowska 

Sense of smell is an essential part of our being, which is partially why we often connect smell to memories. We have something called “olfactory receptors” as part of our limbic system. After you smell an oil, these receptors send a message to your brain and you instantly make a connection. This is why many aromatherapists, including myself; believe aromatherapy can help ease anxiety, grief, and depressing during tough times. I have personally found solace through books, nature, and essential oils. By using essential oils for grief relief, you can allow yourself to face the truth while healing your wounds with the gift nature has given us.

In times of trouble, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment and ignore what it is we need most: self-care. Using certain plants can provide therapeutic properties to get you feeling better. For example, rose absolute (Rosa x damascene) is a tried-and-true option for easing the pain of grief. This oil can be soothing for grief and depression while restoring feelings of deep despair and anxiety. This oil also promotes the feeling of love, which can be lost during such tragic times.

If floral scents aren’t exactly what you love, then Melissa, also called lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is another great option. The scent resembles a mixture of lemon and lemongrass, and it is uplifting. Melissa can aid insomnia, anxiety, promotes calmness and is especially helpful during grieving. I often use this oil when experiencing anxiety.

A third and affordable option is grapefruit (Citrus paradise). This oil is uplifting, cleansing, and can reduce tension and depression. You can count on this oil when you need a pick me up. 

Citrus-reticulata
Photo by Getty Images/Sergdid

There are many other oils to help during times of trouble, such as jasmine absolute (Jasminum grandiflorum), green mandarin(Citrus reticulata), helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum), Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and more. I suggest researching each individual oil and finding which one resonates with you. In my opinion, it is important during tough times to personally identify with the scent of the oil. Many oils belong to the same chemical families and are able to provide similar results. For example, I love bergamot mint (Mentha citrata). This oil can bring balance and can be helpful during times of anxiety and depression. I personally resonate with Green Mandarin essential oil because I associate positive memories to its scent. Every time I open a bottle of this oil I can instantly remember the happy feeling I experienced at my cabin when I diffused the oil during a fall retreat.

Now that I have introduced you to these oils to help during tough times, we can begin to blend a few recipes.

Calming Grief Recipe

6 drops of Roman chamomile essential oil
2 drops of rose absolute essential oil
8 drops of lavender essential oil
1 ounce carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba

Directions: Add all ingredients to a 10ml roller bottle.
Use: Roll over wrist and temples.

Happy Thoughts Recipe

10 drops grapefruit essential oil
2 drop jasmin absolute essential oil
3 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
1 ounce carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba

Directions: Add all ingredients to a 10ml roller bottle.
Use: Roll over wrist and temples.

Anxiety Free Recipe

3 drops Melissa essential oil
10 drops green mandarin essential oil
2 drops sandalwood essential oil
1 ounce carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba

Directions: Add all ingredients to a 10ml roller bottle.
Use: Roll over wrist and temples.

You can find more blending ideas through the Aromahead website. We recommend visiting their site for more information regarding the proper use of essential oils.

Queren was inspired to write this blog post during her time enrolled in Aromahead’s Aromatherapy Certification program. She is a photographer and Digital Content Assistant for Mother Earth Living. You can follow her journey @kingfarmhouse

Rooibos: Much More Than Tea

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), also known as red bush, is a bushy plant in the legume family that is indigenous to the shrubland of South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces, specifically the small mountainous region of Cederberg. The needle-like leaves, from which the herb yields its characteristic rust color and earthy, slightly sweet flavor, are harvested and fermented much in the same way as black tea (Camellia sinensis). While rooibos has been a staple in Africa for centuries, it has only become popular in the U.S. in the last decade. Because the plant is naturally caffeine-free, it’s an appealing alternative to those who want a robust and full-bodied tea but without stimulating effects. Rooibos tea also has fewer tannins than black and green teas, making it easier on the sensitive stomach.

rsz_istock_000036461466_small
Photo by FelixRenaud/iStock

Cooking with Rooibos

Like true tea, rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is typically prepared as an infusion, served hot or iced with honey and lemon. But the herb also has culinary value. For example, the loose leaf can be combined with prepared mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and other herbs and spices, and used as a marinade for baked chicken or poached salmon. This mixture is also interesting when stirred into cubed potatoes before roasting. A simple syrup made from rooibos tea may be used to flavor panna cotta, ice cream, puddings and a variety of beverages, from chai-spiced latte to mojitos and other cocktails. Red bush tea alone adds vibrant color and flavor to soups and stews.

Natural Beauty from Roobios

Used as a final rinse after shampooing and conditioning, rooibos tea adds shine and softness to your hair. If dandruff is of concern, mix a bit of apple cider vinegar into the tea before rinsing hair. The vinegar will also add softness, while helping to restore the proper pH to your scalp. Final rinse means just that—you don’t wash it out.

A simple hand and facial lotion can be made from infusing two or three rooibos tea bags in a cup of hot milk. Let steep for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve the liquid. To this add 1/4 cup raw, organic honey and, if you wish, the contents of one vitamin E capsule. Stir well to combine and store in a clean, glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Drink to Your Health

Rooibos offers a number of benefits for the body. Rich in polyphenols, drinking generous amounts of the tea can help to prevent dehydration and premature aging of the skin. The plant also contains several antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin, luteolin and aspalathin. Studies have shown that rooibos compounds combat oxidative stress in a number of ways – by inhibiting lipid peroxidation, decreasing the presence of stress-related metabolites, regulating glutathione metabolism and by preventing the degradation of certain proteins.1 It should also be noted that consumption of the green, unfermented form of rooibos, which imparts a malt-like flavor, has been found to exert significant liver-protecting activity over its red counterpart.2 Among rooibos flavonoids, aspalathin is of particular interest as an anti-diabetic agent that may reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and the risk of heart disease associated with it.3 Aspalathin is unique to rooibos and does not occur in any other plant on earth.

Sensible Cautions

Rooibos is vulnerable to salmonella contamination during processing, so be sure to purchase rooibos tea from a reputable supplier that uses ozone treatments or other deterrents. Also, be sure to prepare rooibos tea with boiling water to eliminate potential pathogens.

Drinking large amounts of rooibos tea may increase the effects of diuretic medications. It may also increase the production of liver enzymes. Some of the compounds in rooibos tea may promote estrogenic activity, so you might want to avoid this herb if you have a history of a hormone-driven cancer.

How to Brew Roobios Tea

For each cup of boiling water, steep one heaping teaspoon of cut and sifted rooibos (if using loose tea). Otherwise, one tea bag of rooibos will do nicely. Bring the water and tea together in a cup or pot, cover and steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain and serve. The tea is already on the sweet side, but a bit of honey or tiny pinch of stevia can be added after steeping, if desired.

Increase the amounts according to make a pitcher of iced tea. Some lovely flavor-enhancing garnishments for iced rooibos tea include fresh mint leaves and slices of lemon or orange. Try it iced with a splash of bourbon and a drop or two of vanilla extract!

Rooibos Simple Syrup

• 1 cup filtered water
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 6 rooibos tea bags
• 1 tablespoons raw, organic honey
• 1 one-inch cinnamon stick
• 4 black peppercorns
• 1 whole star anise
• 3 whole, green cardamom pods lightly crushed
• 1 vanilla pod, sliced length-ways with seeds removed (reserve seeds for another use, like vanilla-infused sugar)

Combine ingredients in a heavy saucepan and gently heat over a flow flame until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring often. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil for 15 minutes; stirring often. Strain and let cool before using. Keep refrigerated, and use within two weeks.

References

1. Hong IS, Lee HY, HP Kim. "Anti-Oxidative Effects of Rooibos Tea (Aspalathus linearis) on Immobilization-Induced Oxidative Stress in Rat Brain." PLoS One. 2014; 9(1). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897768/

2. BD Canda, OO Oguntibeju, JL Marnewick. "Effects of Consumption of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and a Rooibos-Derived Commercial Supplement on Hepatic Tissue Injury by tert-Butyl Hydroperoxide in Wistar Rats." Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014; 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967803/

3. PV Dludla,E Joubert, CJF Muller, et al. "Hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress and heart disease-cardioprotective effects of rooibos flavonoids and phenylpyruvic acid-2-O-β-D-glucoside." Nutr Metab (Lond). 2017; 14: 45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504778/

Self-Care Is Not Selfish

Life can just get too busy. No matter what age you are, not enough of us take the time out for ourselves. It is very important to be able to take some time out, switch off for a while, recharge the batteries, helping you to think and see clearer. Self-care is any activity we do, on purpose, to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health. Pick a day in the week where you will set aside some time for yourself to try some of the following.

skin-care products
Photo courtesy Katie Guerin

Bubble Bath

Just before bed light some candles, turn on some nice music, bring your favourite book, a cup of tea and RELAX. Remember that you deserve it!

Face Mask

Apply a mask once or twice a week to help deep cleanse and clear your skin. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Lay down with some music on or soak your feet in a big bowl of warm water while you do it for the ultimate relaxation time.

Healthy Food

Making healthy food choices when possible is one of the best things you can do for your body. Taking the time to prepare meals and snacks ahead of time prevents making poor food choices, which not only affect our body but our mood. Healthy food = good mood!

Exercise

Moving around is a great way to release any tension in the body and mind. As a bonus it increases the serotonin in our brain (the feel-good factor). Find an exercise you like to do, pick a few days in the week to do it and you will feel and see the benefits.

General Appearance

Making that tiny bit of effort in the mornings makes a difference to how you feel. Spraying your favourite perfume, applying some lipstick, polishing your nails. These small things can add to your mood and when you feel good, you look good. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning to give yourself enough time for those things.

Meditation

Sitting alone, quietly, wherever you are most comfortable for a few minutes in the day is great to clear your head. Taking some deep breathes and focusing on your breathing. Meditation is something that takes time to get into, but everyone should give it a go. There is a very good app you can get on your phone called CALM. It is a guided meditation session and helps you to focus on the moment. The clearer your mind, the clearer you can think.

Beauty Sleep

Try to get as much sleep as possible as our bodies regenerate as we sleep. I really believe that sleep is a healer and you can see it in someone when they have not slept enough. Bring a book to bed with you instead of all the apps on your phone (unless they are meditation apps). Reading or meditating are the best things you can do before sleeping to ensure you get the best quality of sleep.

Ayurveda in Pregnancy: Take Care of Yourself During Those 10 Months

In my Ayurveda practice, I often get questions from my clients asking if there are any tips from Ayurveda during pregnancy. I would say, Ayurveda is a life science. Its not just tips for pregnancy, but it has some real advice which can do wonders for mom and child.  

Ayurveda says, "If a pregnant woman is taken care of, as advised, she will give birth to a child who does not have any diseases—a healthy, physically strong, radiant and well-nourished baby."

Pregnancy is not merely a physiological process, it is a great responsibility to father and mother. The mental and physical status of the mother is important for a healthy pregnancy. There are certain general rules from inception to delivery which include regimen and diet.

Ayurveda in pregnancy
Photo courtesy _ Marcos Moraes

Ayurveda Pregnancy Tips

• Always try to be in a happy mood
• Be clean, neat and well dressed, always wear simple comfortable clothes
• Have proper sleep, go to bed early and avoid sleep during morning hours
• Engage in peaceful and benedictory activities like listening to music, reading, craft works etc
• Not indulge in anger, fright, or agitating emotions
• Travelling in rough roads, long distances should be avoided
• Oil bath is advised
• Beholding natural urges should be avoided

Ayurveda Diet for Pregnancy

Ayurveda gives a detailed explanation of the diet that should be followed in each trimester. As a general rule, greater care should be taken during the first three months of pregnancy and after the completion of seventh month. 

During the first trimester, stress is laid on stabilizing the pregnancy and nurturing the uterine bed through rasa and raktha dhatus (blood tissues). The embryo gets nourishment directly by percolation, hence more liquid substances like juicy fruits, coconut water, and milk should be advocated.

In first month sipping cold milk and maintaining a light diet is good, whereas during the second month the intake of milk is indicated with certain herbs like pueraria, asparagus, liquorice (sweet wood), Bacopa, etc. 

By the end of third month, the body parts of the fetus become differentiated, sensory perceptions and motor reactions start developing. The heart starts beating and is said to express the desires through the mother's blood. This the period when women crave certain foods/flavors. The needs of the mother and developing baby are identical. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends that her cravings be fulfilled as far as possible. If not contraindicated, Bacopa helps in calming the nerves and sustaining the pregnancy.

From the fourth to seventh month, drugs which strengthen the uterine muscles and nourish the embryo are advised like winter cherry (withania somnifera) or Indian tinospora should be used. Also fruits like oranges, mangoes, apples, carrots, Indian gooseberry, and leafy vegetables help in providing nourishment to the uterine tissues.

During the seventh month, there is a chance of itching and irritation in the abdominal region due to stretching of abdominal muscles. This should be treated with taking sips of an infusion of berries or butter medicated with Indian madder. External application of neem and basil oil are also effective.

From the seventh month on wards there should be less fat and salt in the diet. It is advisable to take thin gruel, green gram, etc.

In short, fully cooked, easily digestible food with proteins and vitamins are ideal throughout the pregnancy period. A proper diet and regimen will help the mother to have a happy pregnancy and the baby to lead a healthy life in future.

 

7 Ayurvedic Tips for Healthier Summer Travel

Summer is here and everybody will be planning for a vacation. Traveling is amazing if you're healthy, but too much traveling can be stressful and can affect your overall health and well-being.  Is it possible to embrace health and keep your mind, body and spirit in working while traveling? My answer is YES!!

I would suggest some simple steps to stay healthy and happy while traveling with these tips that are inspired by Ayurveda.

girl sitting on canoe near lake
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Sleep Well

The aspects of happiness, nourishment, strength, virility, knowledge, and long life are attained by sound and timely sleep. Sleep is the time for rebuilding and reconstruction. It is an anabolic event and is held to be as best as the divine elixir. If sleep is lost, all the doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha will be vitiated as per Ayurveda.

Do you know how much you should sleep while traveling? Listen to your body's demands and decide based on that. Traveling can be harsh to the body and your body needs adequate rest. So, plan well, giving enough time to rest. Don’t overdo while roaming and be sure to give yourself enough time for little breaks.

Practice Mindful Eating

You should be sure to take the right quantity of food, since it is quantity which helps maintain proper digestive power. Avoid raw salads and uncooked food while traveling since it aggravates Vata dosha. Have simple, warm, and grounding meals. Do not skip your breakfast, thinking you will have a scrumptious meal at noon.

Stay Hydrated

Carry a water bottle throughout your trip. If possible use a thermos, and drink warm to hot water. The hot water will help open up the channels and reduces the formation of toxins in the body. Hot water is carminative, digestive, desirable to throat, light, and it cleanses the bladder as per Ayurveda. It also helps in pacifying the aggravated Vata and Kapha.

Don’t Forget Your Routine

Wake up, eat, sleep, and exercise at the same times daily, like you would regularly. It is always better to watch on your destination time zone right from the beginning of travel for your body to get adjusted with the time change. By doing so, your circadian rhythm will not be hampered and the effects of jet lag will also be reduced.

Pamper Your Skin

Carry some coconut oil, and apply at bed time. This will nourish your skin and keep it lustrous even after sun exposure.

Take Triphala

Triphala is a herbal compound that contains three fruits, one being Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), which contains loads of vitamin C and antioxidants. This will help support the immune system to help fight off any bugs you may pick up on your journey. Also, taking Triphala at bedtime (1 tsp powder with 1/2 cup warm water) ensures proper bowel movement and kindles the digestive fire.

Cut Down on Sugars and Alcoholic Drinks

Sugar and alcoholic beverages will make you tired and disturbs your sleep. You might enjoy the drink, but won’t be able to enjoy the trip.

Above all, always indulge in yourself while traveling. Breath in the beauty of air, delight in the presence of your loved ones, and travel with all your heart and soul.

Natural Prevention and Treatment for Bug Bites

I spend a lot of my evenings and weekends outdoors. Tending the garden, doing house chores, and feeding our pets while also chasing my daughter around our farm.  We love being outside and enjoying the natural beauty we have around us. The downside to this is the amount of bugs, particularly mosquitoes. I have gotten 30 to 40 bites while pulling weeds in the garden before. Not only is the aftermath uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous due to disease that spreads through these mosquito bites. I prefer using a natural approach to prevent and treat most common ailments.

diy-spray
Bug spray Photo by Getty Images/ChesiireCat

Here is DIY bug spray recipe that’s worked well for my family:

Homemade Bug Spray with Citronella and Lemongrass

Ingredients:

• 2 oz (60ml) Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) hydrosol
• 16 drops of citronella java essential oil (Cymbopogon winterianus)ointment
• 4 drops lemongrass essential oil (Cymbopogon citratus)
• 1 tsp aloe vera gel
• 4 ml Solubol dispersant
• 2 oz (60 ml) glass spray bottle

Directions: Blend all the ingredients together in the glass spray bottle. You will need to shake the bottle before every use. Avoid your face. Use often and re-make the product every few weeks; this recipe does not include a preservative.

(If you like the general idea of this recipe, but prefer the scent of patchouli and frankincense, then check out this great recipe from Aromahead.)

bite-remedy
Beeswax  Photo by Getty Images/Premyuda Yospim

Itch-Relief Salve

Sometimes you may get adventurous (or forgetful!) and not bring your bug spray with you. As a result, you could end up with itchy bites all over your body. There is a great solution for this, and it does not require using any store-bought chemical. You can rest assured and know there is a more natural approach to remedy this situation.

Here is a bug bite anti-itch recipe to rescue your body from those stubborn bug bites:

Ingredients:

• 1/2 oz beeswax
• 1 oz coconut oil
• 1/2 oz jojoba wax
• 14 drops of lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
• 7 drops of peppermint essential oil (Mentha x piperita)

Directions: First, melt the beeswax in an old pot on the stovetop.  You can set the wax inside of a heatproof glass container and fill your pot about ¼ full with water; this will allow you to melt the wax using a double-boiler method. You will then add the coconut oil and jojoba wax.  After the waxes are melted and fully mixed with the oil, you can then remove the pan from the stovetop and add the essential oils. Stir to combine.

At this point, pour the hot liquid into a safe container. The aromatherapists at Aromahead recommend using a lip balm tube for easy application. You will most likely need a plastic pipette to prevent spills.

After the stick cools down for a few hours, you are ready to use it! Simply rub the stick on bites for instance itch relief.

Making these remedies ahead of time is a great idea. Keep both the bugs spray, and the itch remedy balm nearby. Remember, this is not a substitute to prevent or treat allergic reactions. These recipes have been a wonderful and natural alternative that my family has used to protect ourselves during the heavy mosquito season.

Ayurveda Summer Practices & 5 Ayurvedic Summer Fruits

It’s summer time! Ayurveda calls the summer season as ‘Grishma Ritu’. As the sun rays become more powerful, the body feels as if squeezed with increasing atmospheric temperature. This in turn weakens the Kapha, day-by-day, and strengthens Vata.

Ayurveda is called the science of life because it gives great importance to the preventive aspects of health. If you notice the ancient classical textbooks on Ayurveda, the initial chapters have been devoted to the daily and seasonal regimens.

Ayurveda Summer fruits

What Ayurveda has to say about summer?

  • Salt, sour, and pungent tastes should be avoided
  • Rigorous exercises and too much exposure to sunlight should be avoided
  • Preference should be given to sweet tastes
  • The food should be light, unctuous, and cool in properties
  • Cold water should be used for taking shower
  • Intake of alcoholic beverages should be limited or forbidden
  • Diet should include white rice, watery meat soups, water flavored with camphor powder or trumpet flower, churned spicy yogurt, milk, leafy vegetables, and seasonal fruits

What are the ideal fruits for summer?

  1. Mango: As per Ayurveda, ripe mango pacifies Vata, is sweet and sour in taste and increases Kapha and Virility.
  2. Grapes: Ayurveda considers grapes as the best among fruits. It is aphrodisiac, improves vision, and keeps the bowels clear. The sweet taste makes it ideal for summer season. It has light, unctuous, and cold in properties. It pacifies Vata and cures bleeding disorders, bitter taste of mouth, cough, fever, alcoholic intoxication, and emaciation.
  3. Pomegranate: It is sweet in taste and pacifies tridoshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They are stomachic, light, unctuous, constipative, appetizer, and carminative in action.
  4. Watermelon: This summer favorite is extremely hydrating and best suited for season. It cools the body and pacifies. It should not be combined with any other food items and is better to be eaten alone.
  5. Plums: They are sour in taste, vitiate Pitta and Kapha. It pacifies Vata and is a laxative. In addition, plums are powerhouses of nutrients and cures digestive problems.

Fruits are summer super fruits and are healthy for digestion and assimilation. Fully ripened, fresh fruits appropriate to the season can act as nectar. As per Ayurveda, fruits with the above mentioned qualities get immediately digested and converted to Rasa (one among the seven tissues). These fruits also increase the Ojas (energy and vitality) and provide immunity. Remember to go for organic fruits from your local market whenever possible.

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash


All information and resources provided are based on the opinions and experiences of the author, unless otherwise noted. Information is intended to encourage readers to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, and should never substitute or replace the recommendations of a qualified healthcare provider. Always consult your physician before making changes to your diet, exercise, or general wellness plan, even when using holistic methods.







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