Adventures in Living a Natural Lifestyle

Sharing my adventures in living a more natural lifestyle, information about essential oils and natural home, health, and beauty recipes!


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How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience! #WBW2015

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share a little bit about how essential oils can be used in various ways to help enhance your breastfeeding experience. You will see tons of info about how essential oils should be avoided while pregnant or nursing.  But 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils when used appropriately can actually help boost lactation, decrease lactation when ready to wean, and even help relieve pressure and aches associated with engorgement or clogged ducts.

Safety:

Essential oil use should always be practiced safely.  Only 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used, especially while pregnant, nursing, or with children.  Some brands of essential oils contain fillers or synthetic chemicals that you don’t want to expose yourself, or your baby, to. Do your research and make sure you trust your brand implicitly before using.

Please review the general safety guidelines listed in my previous blog post What Are Essential Oils?

Additional Safety Considerations for Nursing Mothers: There is a lot of contradictory information out there about essential oil safety and which oils to avoid while breastfeeding.  More often than not literature seems to lump pregnancy and breastfeeding together which makes it much more difficult for consumers to know what they can and can’t use (for instance Clary Sage should be avoided while pregnant as it can cause contractions but it a great oil to use during labor and delivery as it can help speed up labor once contractions have started.  But I’ve read conflicting reviews of Clary Sage during breastfeeding – some say that it can help bring on milk after baby is born and will boost lactation other sources say that it will decrease lactation. As a result, I generally avoid Clary Sage just to be safe).  I would recommend erring on the side of caution and doing your research before using any essential oil while nursing.  Much of the information listed below comes from two of my essential oil bibles Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern (you can buy it here) and Essential Oil Pocket Reference published by Life Science Publishing (you can buy it here).

Essential Oils and Uses: 

To Boost Lactation: 

  • Fennel – Fennel seed is often recommended as an herbal supplement to help increase breastmilk production.  Fennel essential oil may be more effective given that the concentration of the oil is much more potent than the plant or seed.  Fennel can be used as a dietary supplement, 1-2 drops added to tea or a tsp of honey, or it can be taken in a vegetable capsule.  Debra Raybern recommends taking Fennel every 2 hours and follow with a glass of water (hydration is important to keeping your supply up so always make sure you are drinking plenty of water!).  Fennel can also be applied topically.  For topical use, dilute 1-2 drops of Fennel essential oil with 1 Tbsp of carrier oil (Coconut oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex) and apply directly on the breast and lymph area under the arm, avoiding the nipple area*.  (note: Fennel should not be taken internally for more than 10 days as it could cause an increased flow through the urinary tract)
  • Basil – Basil is similar to Fennel essential oil in its lactation boosting properties and can be taken internally or applied topically in the same way.  Basil does not carry the same warning as Fennel, however, and can be taken internally for longer than 10 days if necessary.
  • Joy or Stress Away blends – Stress can have a negative impact on your supply so using essential oil blends such as Joy or Stress away, either diffused, dabbed on your wrist and behind your ears, or combined with Epsom Salt and Baking Soda for a relaxing bath!  Other oils that help reduce stress and promote relaxation include: Lavender and Sandalwood.

To Help Decrease Lactation and Relieve Engorgement (For Oversupply or When Weaning):

  • Peppermint – Most herbalists recommend avoiding peppermint while nursing as it can have an adverse effect on your supply (However, some mothers, like myself, will report that peppermint does not affect their lactation). However, if you have an over-supply issue or you are weaning your baby, adding Peppermint oil to your routine may help alleviate some of the pressure associated with engorgement.  Peppermint is a dietary supplement and can be taken internally.  Debra Raybern recommends taking 5 drops of peppermint orally several times a day to decrease supply.  You can add a few drops of peppermint oil to water, dip a wash cloth in it and wring out the excess water and apply directly to the breast as a cold compress.  Avoid heat application when engorged as this can increase swelling and inflammation.

In addition to peppermint oil, another natural remedy to relieve engorgement and help decrease supply are cabbage leaf compresses.  Simply take a chilled or room temperature cabbage leaf and apply directly to the breast between feedings for up to 20 minutes 3 times daily.  For weaning, you can leave the cabbage leaf on the breast until it wilts.  For more information on cabbage leaf compresses visit Kelly Mom’s blog.

For Sore, Dry, Cracked Nipples*: (Note: painful nursing and dry or cracked nipples could be due to another condition, such as improper latch or tongue or lip tie.  Please see a lactation consultant and/or pediatrician for evaluation)

  • Myrrh, Helichrysum, Geranium, Vetiver, or Sandalwood – When diluted with a carrier oil and applied directly to the nipple these oils can help moisturize the skin and provide relief from dry, cracked nipples as well as help speed up the healing process.
  • Valor blend – a good alternative to the above oils to help provide relief from dry, cracked nipples.  Dilute with carrier oil and apply directly on nipple.
  • Lavender or Roman Chamomile – Sore nipples? Add a few drops of Lavender or Roman Chamomile to your nipple cream or apply directly on your nipples with some organic coconut oil to help minimize discomfort.

When applying any essential oil directly to nipples, always make sure they are diluted.  I would ensure that the oil was fully absorbed into the skin or wipe off any excess before my next nursing session.  While all these suggested oils can be taken used orally for adults it is not recommended that small infants ingest oils just to be safe. 

For Clogged Ducts:

  • Geranium, Lavender, and Melrose blend – Each of these oils individually or used together can help promote circulation, reduce pressure and alleviate aches associated with engorgement and clogged ducts.  Combine 1 drop Geranium, 1 drop Lavender, and 2 drops of Melrose with 1 1/2 pints of cold water.  Dip washcloth into the mix and squeeze out excess water.  Apply as a cold compress directly to the affected area of the breast.  Repeat as often as once per hour for relief.  (Recipe from Gentle Babies)

In addition, hot showers, soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath that completely covers the breast, breast massage, frequent pumping or nursing, pointing your baby’s chin towards the affected area of the breast while nursing, and “dangle nursing” (where you nurse from a position of hands and knees and dangle your breast towards your baby’s mouth) are all recommended to help alleviate discomfort associated with clogged ducts and to prevent development of mastitis.

For Mastitis: (Note: Mastitis is a serious infection and should always be diagnosed and treated by a health professional of your choice.  You may choose to use the following blend to help provide some relief as a supplement to your prescriber’s treatment protocol.)

  • Breast Blend Recipe – combine 3 drops Myrrh, 3 drops Vetiver, 2 drops Copaiba, and 1 drop Blue Spruce with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (Coconut Oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex are good choices). Massage blend onto breasts and under armpits two times daily to help provide relief from pain, swelling, redness or warmth of the breast.  (Recipe from Essential Oils Pocket Reference)

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

 

Have you used essential oils as part of your breastfeeding journey?  I’d love to hear your story! Share it in the comments below to keep the conversation going!

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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My All Natural Skin Care Routine: Plus My Favorite DIY Facial Serum Recipe (using Essential Oils)!

I just hosted my first Essential Oils 101 class two weekends ago and had so much fun sharing all about the oils I’m so passionate about with a great group of lovely ladies! And it occurred to me that it has been awhile since I had written a blog post about how I use my essential oils in my daily life.  I’ve shared a lot about using essential oils to clean and a few hygiene sort of recipes so figured it was time to share some of my beauty routine with y’all! First, a bit about my journey.  My husband and I started trying to conceive after our 1 year wedding anniversary, on May 19, 2013.  I had been on hormonal birth control pills for 17 years and when I went off of them my whole body went bonkers! I later learned that I had PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) and that’s what was causing my crazy hormonal issues and making it so difficult for us to conceive.  My hormonal imbalances were most obvious with my skin.  My once beautiful, soft, smooth skin suddenly became a nightmare of crazy teenage-type acne breakouts… at 32 years old!!!  I seriously tried everything shy of going to a dermatologist (which would’ve taken me 2+ months to get in and they likely would’ve prescribed medication that I’d have to discontinue when I got pregnant and/or antibiotics which I didn’t really want to take).  As a measure of last resort I started researching natural alternatives to skin care to find away to help clear up my skin.  That was when I discovered Crunchy Betty’s blog and started my adventures in living a natural lifestyle.

When I decided to rid my life of toxic chemicals, starting with my skin and beauty routines, I literally threw out 20+ bottles of skincare products, both drug store and expensive department store brands, none of which worked to control my acne. I found a fair bit of success using honey and even more luck when I switched to the oil cleansing method (OCM) to cleanse my face while I was having extreme acne breakouts.  My skin cleared almost completely once I got pregnant and my hormones got back in check (and my skin has so far stayed clear since having my darling little daughter with only the occasional breakouts) and I’m lazy, so I no longer use either of these methods.  But they were great alternatives to traditional, chemical filled store-bought cleansers. So rather than reinvent the wheel, here are some links to Crunchy Betty’s blog posts on both these methods:

Crunchy Betty’s Honey Challenge – all about how to wash your face with honey!

Nitty Gritty on the Oil Cleansing Method – a great intro to oil cleansing with descriptions of the various oils and the skin types they work best with.

Trying and Troubleshooting the Oil Cleansing Method – a follow up to her previous post that gives 5 new tips she learned through 2 years of trials and tribulations with the oil cleansing method.  Read both posts before you begin for the best success!

* I will add this, I personally had the most luck with a combo of Castor Oil and Jojoba Oil when I was using OCM to help reduce acne breakouts.  But try out different oils and find the best combo for your skin type.  You don’t have to have acneic skin for OCM to work for you!

So, want to know my current skin care routine? Of course you do! That’s why you’re reading this blog post after all, right?

  • Water only to clean my face.  No seriously, that’s it! When i take a shower I just rub my face with circular motions using hot water only.  As I’ve mentioned before I’m pretty lazy and I only actually “wash” my face at night.
  • Thayer’s Rosewater Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner as an astringent. I apply this with a cotton round after my showers at night and once again in the morning to get rid of any extra oil that my skin produced overnight. I love the rose petal one for it’s added moisturizing effect and lovely scent but I’ve also used the plain and the lavender as well.  I spend the extra money on Thayer’s because all the other brands I could find in the grocery/drug store witch hazel had alcohol in it and I didn’t want the drying effect that alcohol has on my skin. More info about Thayer’s Witch Hazel varieties here.
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil as my acne spot treatment – Tea Tree Oil is a natural antiseptic and can help cleanse the skin as well as dry up blemishes and reduce future breakouts. I use it “neat” – just a dab on a qtip, applied directly to the blemish.  Note: Tea Tree Oil may cause skin sensitivity with repeated exposure.  I haven’t had any problems yet and have been using it for a couple years now but I do personally know people that have had a reaction to it.  
  • Coconut Oil as eye makeup remover. If you haven’t caught my review of my awesome mascara, check it out here: I’ve found my perfect (naturally based, cruelty-free) mascara!  The downside is that I can no longer be lazy and absolutely must take my eye makeup off or it won’t apply right the next day and it doesn’t come off with water only or with my astringent.
  • DIY Natural Sunscreen as my daytime moisturizer. If you missed my previous post with the recipe, check it out here: DIY Natural Sunscreen
  • DIY Facial Serum as my nighttime moisturizer.  You want the recipe? Here it is!

DIY Facial Serum

DIY Facial Serum:

Ingredients:

  • Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • Melrose essential oil blend – Young Living’s proprietary blend of Tea Tree, Rosemary, and Clove essential oils designed to soothe and support healthy skin. The Tea Tree and Rosemary oils have an added benefit of a cleansing effect and the Clove helps support a healthy immune system.
  • Frankincense essential oil – a natural astringent that helps soothe and tone the skin as well as supporting a healthy immune system.  May help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to promote more radiant, younger looking skin!
  • Lavender essential oil – In addition to having a soothing effect, lavender essential oil is a natural antioxidant and moisturizer that can help soothe irritation as well as detox the skin and protect it from the daily barrage of sun and pollution damage. Plus it has a calming effect and can promote relaxation and a better night’s sleep!

Directions:

Combine 2 oz of Fractionated Coconut Oil with 7 drops each of the essential oils. Shake gently before use and apply to skin at night before bed (could also be used as a daytime moisturizer).  A little goes a long way!

There are lots of other essential oils that have amazing benefits for healthy skin, including but not limited to Carrot Seed (high SPF and rejuvenating effect), Geranium (helps regulate oil production and may reduce breakouts), Myrrh (helps improve skin tone and firmness promoting more youthful looking skin), Neroli (moisturizes, improves skin tone and may reduce fine lines and wrinkles), Patchouli (a natural antiseptic that helps soothe irritation and promotes skin regeneration), Rose (especially moisturizing and can promote healing), and Ylang Ylang (helps control oil production and reduce breakouts).  Feel free to mix and match to find the right combination of essential oils for your particular skin care needs!

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

** Both my DIY Natural Sunscreen and my DIY Facial Serum use Coconut Oil as the base.  However, Coconut Oil is comedogenic, meaning that it can clog pores.  I haven’t noticed any more than the occasional breakout but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this.  If you have acne prone skin or have found that Coconut Oil causes breakouts for your skin, here is a list of alternative carrier oils that you could use for your DIY facial serum.  I’ve also included approximate SPF information of the oils that may offer some SPF protection as alternatives to Coconut Oil in the DIY Sunscreen recipe.

Comedogenic Ratings of Alternative Carrier Oils for Facial Serums*:

Will not clog pores:

  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Mineral Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil

Low:

  • Castor Oil (SPF 5)

Moderately Low:

  • Almond Oil (SPF 4)
  • Apricot Kernel Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Hazelnut Oil
  • Olive Oil (SPF 4-7)
  • Peanut Oil (do NOT use if you have peanut allergies)
  • Sandalwood Seed Oil
  • Sesame Oil (SPF 1-2)

Moderate:

  • Corn Oil
  • Cotton Seed Oil
  • Soybean Oil

Fairly HIgh:

  • Coconut Oil (SPF 4-7)

High:

  • Wheat Germ Oil

* Adapted from the Lemondroppers Comedogenic Ratings graphic

For more information on alternative moisturizing oil blends check out Crunchy Betty’s Simple Homemade 3-Ingredient Facial Oil Moisturizer blog post! It’s got a lot of alternative carrier oil choices with descriptions of what types of skin they are good for as well as descriptions of other skin nourishing essential oils not listed here!

So there you have it! Do you have an all natural beauty routine? I’d love to hear what works for you! Comment below to keep the conversation going!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.