Sunday, July 30, 2017
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Another article full of Aromatherapy info!
"Here’s your foolproof guide to finding the right essential oils, safely. It covers everything from therapeutic benefits and energetics to what experts want you to consider when purchasing aromatherapy products.
How to choose the right essential oils:
1. Identify the problem.
This is where everyone should start. What’s going on with you? Is your problem physical? Chronic or acute? Perhaps there is no pain-point, and you’re looking to evoke a state of being, like relaxation. Once you get to the crux of the issue you want to address, it’s much easier to whittle down the thousands of essential oils one can use.
Aromatherapy is an intimately personal science—it’s not one size fits all when it comes to blending.
It’s easy to fall into the aforementioned "there’s an oil for that" mentality because many people use similar oils for common ailments. But with aromatherapy, it’s equally important to consider your personal smell preference. For example, Spikenard’s sedative effect makes it a go-to for insomniacs. But I know some people who just cannot stomach the smell and would prefer to use lavender or vetiver for sleep. Aromatherapy is an intimately personal science; It’s not one size fits all when it comes to blending.
2. Consider energetics.
For those who turn to essential oils for a specific therapeutic goal, considering energetics may seem baffling. While you need not work on an energetic, soul level to reap the benefits of aromatherapy, it’s useful to understand the chemistry. Evidence from Ancient Egypt tells us that aromatic oils were likely being used before 4500 B.C. The ancient Egyptians are renowned for their knowledge of cosmetics and fragrant ointments—with their most famous herbal preparation being "Kyphi," which was a multipurpose spiritual blend of 16 ingredients.
As the Egyptians knew so well, oils have different properties that we don’t always consider. Some are heating, others cooling, and some resonate with us in different parts of our bodies.
For example, 1,8 cineole, also known as eucalyptol, is a chemical found largely in eucalyptus and rosemary that has a well-known cooling effect. Additionally, the chemical menthol triggers the cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in the skin and is responsible for the cooling sensation. Peppermint is an intensely freshening essential oil in part due to its high menthol content, so much so that many professionals suggest working with the hydrosol to avoid safety issues (particularly in children).
As oils cool, some can also bring on the heat. Oils high in phenols, containing chemicals like carvacrol, eugenol, and thymol, are known to be hot. These oils should be used with caution and include oregano, thyme, cinnamon leaf, and clove. More warming oils include yarrow, sweet marjoram, ginger, basil, and black pepper.
Potentially knowing if an oil identifies with feminine yin or masculine yang energy, or helps ground or open certain chakras, can provide even more support.
3. Combine oils.
Synergy is everything. While individual oils are potent, combining the aromatic molecules of different essential oils allows them to work together and results in greater benefit than the sum of individual effects. From a holistic perspective, I often blend synergies with three to five essential oils. At the very least, this blending technique allows me to have a core of the blend, enhancer, and harmonizer.
Blending oils with similar chemical components gives heightened effects. For example, blending ho-wood, rosewood, and Spanish marjoram, which all contain a high percentage of linalool, a monoterpene alcohol, would make a good synergy for sleep and deep relaxation.
4. Know the facts.
While it’s not realistic to expect everyone to know everything about each oil chemotype and potential contraindications, you can really get by with only two pieces of basic information: source and price. Let packaging be your first clue!
There is no regulatory body that scientifically evaluates and certifies the purity of essential oils.
On essential oil bottles, though, small, high-quality suppliers will always tell you the Latin binomial (indicating the plant genus and species), where and how the oil was distilled, and whether it’s organic or wild-harvested. The Latin name is important because there are many species of certain plant families, like lavender. In fact, there are over 250 species of eucalyptus—only eight of which are commonly used in aromatherapy. Knowing where an oil is from is key to understanding environmental factors that alter chemical constituents and aroma. For instance, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) from France is considered superior to lavender grown in other countries, like Bulgaria.
5. Be wary of cheap oils and gimmicky claims.
Unfortunately, the scene has been set for unethical business practices as large corporate players drive raw material prices to low levels, often forbidding profit to be made. With rampant adulteration of oils (e.g., cheaper essential oils substituted and falsely labeled—like lavendin for lavender, or a completely synthetic laboratory-made oil labeled as wild-harvested), it’s crucial to be in the know about realistic essential oil prices—particularly for unadulterated, pure, and rare oils. For example, rose, jasmine, and sandalwood being sold in ½-ounce and 1-ounce sizes should raise some eyebrows. A single ounce of rose otto retails for $400 or more!
Given current industry practices, you should also be wary of popular, gimmicky claims. Perhaps the most egregious is using the label "Therapeutic Grade." There is no such thing as "therapeutic grade" or "certified pure" essential oils. There is no regulatory body that scientifically evaluates and certifies the purity of essential oils. Some large, multilevel marketing brands have even trademarked or copyrighted these promotional sayings, but they are just misleading catchphrases. When purchasing oils, ask sellers if they provide data information sheets on their oils. Most quality distillers and retailers provide GC/MS (gas chromatography and mass spectrometry) testing results that show the chemical breakdown of their oils. This objective data can help you assess the quality of an oil when read (and tested!) properly.
5. Think beyond the oils.
Making your own all-natural product? There’s more to it than just essential oils. Many DIY aromatherapy recipes also call for carrier oils and butters, which are just as important to consider. Products have shelf lives—with many citrus essential oils only lasting a year when kept refrigerated (in fact, most essential oils are happiest when cool!) and many common carrier oils are best used before six months to a year after purchase. Being wary of product expiration can help you avoid safety issues, like skin sensitization and save you from wasting precious ingredients from a spoiled batch. Additionally, when purchasing and using oils, be mindful of their method of application. Gels are the fastest to dermally absorb, but direct inhalation and diffusion can be just as effective depending on your goal.
6. Diffuse, diffuse, diffuse.
An easy way to integrate aromatherapy into your everyday life is through diffusing. I turn to my diffuser for a multitude of reasons—when I want to set an ambience, reduce stress, support sleep, and increase alertness or motivation. Diffusion refers to a method of transmitting essential oils into the air within a specified area. Diffusing supports a multitude of goals, but it mainly serves two purposes: reducing air microbes and altering mood and emotion. Clinical research shows that diffused lemon essential oil is an affordable intervention that has a positive effect on test anxiety. Additionally, diffusing cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary is an uplifting blend that also serves as a safe way to keep your home’s air germ-free.
There are many diffusers on the market, but I recommend checking out Aromis Aromatherapy or Organic Aromas. I suggest purchasing a jet style nebulizer made out of glass. If you can, avoid diffusers made from plastic that use water as a carrier. Not only are they harder to clean, but repeated use also leads to degradation as some essential oils eat away at plastic. Beyond that, most inexpensive diffusers heat by a candle or lamp, and I would consider investing in one that uses cool air to create an aromatic vapor. Heating often changes the chemical structure of essential oils, potentially affecting their aroma and therapeutic benefit.
How to use essential oils in your everyday life:
Based on the process outlined above, here are some of my go-to essential oil combinations and the thought process behind their crafting:
1. Cold-busting inhaler.
Whenever I come down with a nasty cold, I make an aromatic inhaler with a synergy of three gentle, cooling oils with an affinity for the respiratory system that are high in monoterpenes and oxides. Therefore, I use rosalina, eucalyptus radiata, and german chamomile. My goal is strictly therapeutic—to open up my stuffed nasal passages and help clear my foggy mind as quickly as possible, so I don’t worry too much about loving the aroma. Rosalina is gentle and effective, and eucalyptus radiata is less aggressive than other eucalyptus oils, and its immune-enhancing properties make it a go-to upper-respiratory tonic that helps alleviate any sinus troubles.
How-To: Add 6 drops rosalina, 5 drops german chamomile, and 4 drops eucalyptus radiata onto a cotton wick and seal in an aromatic inhaler.
Substitutions: Feel free to also try other oxide-high nasal-clearing oils like rosemary, tea tree, inula, blue gum eucalyptus, green myrtle, and frankincense in your inhaler.
2. Sleep blends for relaxation.
Every night, I anoint my pulse points with a rollerball blend that supports restful sleep and deep relaxation. Therefore, I look for oils high in esters, monoterpene alcohols, and sesquiterpene alcohols that calm and soothe the nervous and endocrine systems and release muscular and nervous tension. This is a daily blend that allows me to drift off into sleep, so loving the aroma is a must!
I turn to a well-balanced, herbaceous blend of lavender, roman chamomile, and clary sage. All three of these oils are high in esters—promising an instant calming effect on the central nervous system. Lavender and clary sage are also both high in monoterpene alcohols that help nurture balance.
How-To: Add 15 drops lavender, 5 drops roman chamomile, and 10 drops clary sage into a glass roller-bottle and top if off with 10 mL of vanilla-infused jojoba oil.
Substitutions: Spikenard, vetiver, ylang-ylang, and sweet marjoram are other sleep-supporting oils with which you could blend. I love the aroma of vanilla-infused jojoba, but most other carrier oils (sweet almond, sesame, or grapeseed) would also work.
3. Moisturizing face serum.
I have thin skin that’s prone to dryness. My skin care goals are to keep moisturized and prevent environmental damage and premature aging. I take a holistic approach to my face-care routine, always using essential oils high in esters that soothe dermal inflammation, monoterpenes that enhance dermal penetration, and monoterpene alcohols that are mild and generally well-tolerated by most skin types. While I always promote and see the value in essential oil synergies, for my daily face serum, I only use two oils: Helichrysum italicum and rose. Sometimes, I’ll add sandalwood to round out the aroma and reduce hyperpigmentation.
Helichrysum is one of my favorite scents, so I like using it every day. It also doubles as a wonderful skin and wound healer—a must-use oil for those with acne and eczema. Rose is the queen of luxurious essential oils and a true aromatic treat. Rose helps reduce inflammation and redness, while nicely prepping the skin for other products.
How-To: Add 15 drops helichrysum and 7 drops rose into combined ½-ounce rosehip-seed oil and ½ ounce argan oil. Use on face after cleansing.
Substitutions: In a face serum, balm, or cream, try other essential oils heavy in monoterpene alcohols, like lavender and rose geranium; or sesquiterpene alcohols, like German chamomile, sandalwood, and patchouli; and ketones, like rosemary ct. verbenone and manuka. Additionally, based on your skin type, other carrier oils may be suitable. For acne or oily skin, try grapeseed or hemp oil, and for normal or combination skin, try using apricot kernel or jojoba.
Inspired to fill your purse with aromatic goodies? Here are five essential oils you should never travel without and 10 more you need every time you go outside."
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017
I'm getting psychologically and physically ready to the short nights coming up!!!
How do some people manage to look so darn perky as they sip coffee and smoothies in their Instagram stories in the morning? It all comes down to establishing a winning routine, one that’s easy for you to do every day and leaves you feeling awake, alert, and inspired. You don’t have to steal an entire routine from these fitness and wellness experts, but they have some pretty great suggestions of places to start.
Once you begin to develop a routine of your own, optimize it to your specific needs. Meditation for 20 minutes might not work for you, but maybe you can handle five minutes. Yoga might not be your jam, but what about a few basic stretches instead? And journaling can feel a little cliche, but what about a Google Doc where you list one thing daily that you’re grateful for? We don’t all need to be fitness and wellness junkies, but we can all get a little bit better at managing our mornings and crushing the rest of our day.
“I’d say my number one tip is to get ready for your day, whether that be breakfast, journaling, meditation, or working out before looking at your phone,” Sophie Gray of WayofGray.com says. “I recommend being off of your phone for at least 30 to 60 minutes in the morning! I like to do this because I can check in with myself first, before checking in with others.”
Productivity gurus and the authors of Peak Performance, Brad Stuhlberg and Steve Magness, also back this one up. The more time you can stay off your phone and not be distracted, the better. Getting your primary workout for the day done before the flood of emails, Instagrams, and text is going to make the day feel a lot smoother.
“This year has officially been the year of slowing down and learning to give myself what I need in order to thrive throughout the day with sustained energy and inspiration,” adds The Balance Blonde blogger Jordan Younger. “You could say I am a notorious overcommitter and a workaholic-slash-iPhone-aholic—who isn’t?—so I decided to get serious with my morning routine, to start to cultivate more peace and serenity in my daily life. I start each day with a digital detox where I do not look at my phone until I feel ready to be on and communicate with the world!”
Get Some Sun “Working from home can sometimes mean there’s no need for you to leave the house, but, for me, getting outdoors every day for fresh air, a sense of vitality, and vitamin D is so important,” says Melissa Hemsley of the Hemsley Sisters. “Daylight helps to reset your internal body clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep and allowing your body to tune into what it needs. I’ve got a staffy called Nelly who I take for runs around my local park, so it’s a non-negotiable for me!”
Studies bear this out: We need vitamin D to stay happy and energized. One such study even linked vitamin D deficiency in young women with depression. You don’t need to start supplementing to get it. Just getting sunlight should do the trick. And if, like Melissa, you work at home, a walk outside can give you the divide between “you time” and working hours.
Add a Yoga Flow It’s no shock that Strala Yoga creator Tara Stiles starts every morning with a yoga flow, though as a new mom, her routine varies daily depending on what she needs and how she feels. And that’s a good thing! Even if you’re not nursing a newborn, switching up your yoga flow makes the morning a bit more exciting. Just do a few sun salutations and poses that make you feel particularly good!
A regular yoga practice—10 minutes a day is over an hour a week!—can increase strength, balance, and flexibility, calm the mind, and reduce stress, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. It can even help battle things like lower back pain, according to a recent study.
Scrape Your Tongue (or Whatever)
″Tongue scraping with a copper or stainless steel tongue scraper removes the toxins that brushing and flossing your teeth doesn’t,” says the other Hemsley sister, Jasmine. “Quite frankly, I’d rather forget to brush my teeth!” If tongue scraping isn’t for you, that’s fine, too, but having a morning beauty/cleansing routine can go a long way toward making you feel more awake and alert if you’re having a tough time crawling out of bed and perking up.
“I wake up, make a matcha tea or coffee in my kitchen, stretch on my yoga mat, and do a mindfulness meditation practice,” says Younger. “I have also gotten very into crystals, sage, essential oils, and palo santo. The morning is my ‘me time’ to play around with all of my yogi, kundalini grounding practices and also get some reading or journaling in. Then I head off to teach yoga down the street and feel like a new human! Also breathing. It sounds simple, but it’s been a game changer to really focus on my breath.”
Meditation also makes you more creative – especially in the morning, when we’re at our most spiritually aware.
It’s not just the yogis who are doing morning meditation, fitness junkies are into it, too. “Everyday is different for me, but no matter where I am, I make sure to spend a few moments alone setting my intention and purpose for the day through meditation,” says Karena Dawn of ToneItUp.com. It really helps me stay centered and focused. After that, I head out for my workout. If I don’t workout in the morning, it usually won’t happen.”
Get in a Quick Workout
Dawn also digs a morning workout to get the blood pumping. If you’re an early riser and can sneak in a quick run or strength workout, it’s a great way to kick off the day. And bonus, if you do a low-key workout before you eat breakfast; you’ll reap the benefits of fasted state training and gain extra strength and aerobic capacity in the process. Bonus: You can burn almost 20 percent more fat if you exercise pre-breakfast, according to one study. Plus, let’s be honest, breakfast will taste a whole lot better when you’ve really worked for it.
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