Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health

Hope you’ve been enjoying all the insight and wisdom that’s being shared on these Tele-Summit calls. This evening is our 4th call in the series: “Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health.” I’ll be the resident expert for today’s session and I’ll be talking about something very important –-the hidden health threats to your baby from the personal care and beauty products you use! Some of the things I’ll cover on tonight’s session:

  • Startling new research about ingredients in mass-produced personal care products that may pre-dispose your baby to obesity (among other serious health problems!)
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  • The top 10 ingredients you MUST avoid to keep you and your baby safe and how you can find out if the products you’re using right now may contain them
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  • Using Mother Nature’s Rx: Essential Oils to safely address some of the most common pregnancy-related complaints

Much of what I’ll be sharing on tonight’s call applies to you whether you are pregnant or not, but becomes even more important when you are or planning to be. There’s no better time than now to take inventory of the products you currently use and toss the ones that are bad for you. Come join me and learn how to become a more conscious consumer so you can stop exposing your baby to hidden threats from toxic exposure while learning how to identify and choose safer, more effective natural alternatives.

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern. Don’t miss this very important call!

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info. It’s FREE!

Essential Oils: Meet the “New” Antibiotics

The self-perpetuating cycle of resistance caused by over-use of antibiotics can leave us feeling sort of hopeless -after all what other options are we being offered by the medical community? But its not all bad news … science (and even the medical community) is beginning to recognize that we’ve gone too far with antibiotics and is looking at the use of gentler, safer plant-based alternatives.

Tea Tree essential oil, with its strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, has shown promise in a number of different studies as a safe and effective way of killing “bad” bacteria without destroying the “good.” It is widely used in Australia (where it grows in abundance) to successfully treat conditions like yeast infections and Athlete’s Foot.

In his book “Life Helping Life: Unleash Your Mind/Body Potential with Essential Oils,” Dr. Daniel Penoel, a renowned expert in medical aromatherapy, points out that Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) has great potential as an antibacterial agent, but its different from conventional antibiotics in that it attacks only destructive bacteria. It was “created from life to help life,” so it knows what to do.

And there are some other essential oils that show promise in the treatment of bacterial infections. As Penoel points out in his book, essential oils like Thyme, Oregano, Clove Bud and even Cinnamon Bark that are rich in phenols, are powerful anti-infectants, but must be used with care because their prolonged use can place a heavy burden on your liver. He believes that alcohols (essential oils rich in monoterpenols) are the most important oils for our long term health and vitality because they work in a way that’s balanced, gentle and harmonious not just on individual organs but on the immune system as a whole.

A number of essential oils with anti-viral properties have also been identified as strong immune system defenders and can be combined synergistically for use as a preventative against various infections.

To put things in perspective, studying the use of essential oils in the treatment of illness and disease is a required part of the curriculum at medical schools in France, indicating their validity as a legitimate alternative.

Gifts of Love for Couples to Celebrate Valentine’s Day: Staying In vs. Going Out?

Going out to a nice restaurant for Valentine’s is a great gift if you don’t have the opportunity to do this very often, or you’re feeling so cooped up that you need to get out of the house to enjoy yourself. On the other hand there are many ways you can celebrate this occasion by staying in.

Below are some ideas for ways couples can celebrate the day in a way that focuses on nurturing each other rather than succumbing to the old standby clichéd way of giving each other store bought gifts and (ho hum!) “dates.”

Why not try a variation on the old breakfast in bed? Rather than one of you making breakfast for the other, why not prepare a nice breakfast or brunch together then retreat to the bedroom to eat it in bed. Plan it all the night before and don’t make any other plans for the day. Just enjoy a lazy day at home sharing favorite moments from your relationship or what you adore about each other.
If you want to spice things up and do something to commemorate the occasion, swing for a set of satin or high thread-count organic cotton sheets and add some of the traditional accouterments –scented candles, dark chocolates to nibble on, a bottle of champagne (for mimosas) and roses or other flower petals strewn around the room. Try an aromatherapy massage followed by a hot bath with mineral salts. Or curl up together with lots of soft cushy pillows, some hot cocoa, and your favorite movie or a new one you’d both like to see.

If lazing around all day doesn’t suit your style then why not work on a project together that celebrates your love for one another? Consider creating a scrapbook or collage that chronicles the highlights of your relationship. Collect everything you think should be included: photos, ticket stubs, matchbooks, souvenirs and other meaningful memorabilia. Start from the beginning, group and arrange related items you want to include and as you add them into your book, write the narrative together. If you have different memories of an event or occasion then each one can write down their version – like an entry in a guestbook. The experience of putting this together helps you appreciate each other and your relationship and you can re-visit the scrapbook whenever you like (maybe make it an annual Valentine’s Day ritual) and update it with new insights or adventures you’ve shared and would like to record. Or you can create mini-scrapbooks that are specific to events (vacations or celebrations), or different periods in your relationship.

Another variation on this theme is creating a vision board for your future together. This can involve using photos you have or photos you collect from a variety of sources with images that symbolically represent things you want to do, places you want to go, goals you want to achieve, possessions you want to acquire (a new car, vacation home, RV, kitchen, swimming pool or Jacuzzi, etc.). Include graphical text headings from magazines or newspapers that communicate the substance of what you want to accomplish and how you want to feel when you get there. This can be a powerful bonding experience and an affirmation of your plans moving forward as a couple –one that energizes you rather than draining you. The other benefit is that you can do these activities regardless of the weather, which can be somewhat unpredictable at this time of the year.

For some simple sensuous essential oil blends you can to create the right ambiance for love try these combinations:

Lavender, Geranium, Clary Sage
Lavender, Sandalwood, Vanilla
Lime, Geranium, Cypress
Orange, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine
Grapefruit, Bergamot, Rosewood
Lime, Vetiver, Coriander

Combine 2-3 drops of each and add to an aromatherapy candle-based diffuser (in some water to prevent burning the olls) or to a tablespoon of jojoba or coconut oil for massage; or a cup of epsom salts or baking soda for a bath. Our Certified Organic Body Oils work great for massages too and they’re $5 off this month. You can buy them here.

For more ideas and recipes for using essential oils to create a mood for love, pick up a copy of Nitya Lacroix’s book The Art of Sensual Aromatherapy: A Lover’s Guide to Using Aromatic Oils & Essences.

Keeping the Air Clean: Are Your Candles Doing More Harm Than Good?

Before the advent of electricity, candles were used primarily for illumination. Light served as a symbol of the good and the beautiful  –especially in times of emotional and spiritual darkness– and the way in which human beings relate to light is emotional, almost sensual.

Today, candles are used mainly for their aesthetic value and scent, to set a soft, warm, or romantic ambiance, and for emergency lighting during electrical power failures.  Scented candles are often used as a vehicle for aromatherapy.

No matter how you slice it, candles are BIG business. Here are some interesting and “illuminating” statistics:

  • Candles are used in 7 out of 10 U.S. households.
  • A majority of consumers burn candles 1-3 times per week with half of these consumers burning 1-2 candles at a time
  • In 2006, the U.S. market for candles was estimated at $2.3 billion
  • 96% of all candles purchased are bought by women

The prevalence of candles in our homes is evident. The real question is how much do you know about the type of candles you’re buying and their potential impact on the quality of indoor air in your home?

Lead Wicks Can Lead to Trouble

According to a study conducted about 8 years ago by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 40% of candles on the market still contained lead wires inside their wicks. This is a startling statistic in light of the fact that the U.S. candle manufacturing industry voluntarily agreed to cease production of lead-containing candles in 1974, once it was shown that burning lead-wick candles resulted in increased lead concentration in indoor air.

A candle with a lead-core wick has been shown to release five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air.

Lead, along with other metals like Zinc, is used to stiffen the wicks of candles so they remain straight when the surrounding wax begins to melt. The metal prevents the wick from falling over and extinguishing itself as soon as the wax no longer supports it.  Although Zinc is considered to be far less toxic than lead, very little is known about the long-term effects of breathing zinc in the form of dust or fumes released from burning it.

The Soot That’s All Around

Another problem inherent in burning candles with lead wicks (especially those made with paraffin wax -a petroleum by-product) is a phenomenon called Black Soot Deposition. It’s now believed that frequent candle-burning is one of the sources of black soot in the home. The amount of soot produced can vary greatly from candle to candle. One type of candle can produce as much as 100 times more soot than another type. The type of soot may also vary. Though primarily composed of elemental carbon, candle soot may include phthalates, lead, and other toxic ingredients such as benzene and tuolene.

When soot is airborne, it can be inhaled. The particles can potentially penetrate the deepest areas of the lungs and the lower respiratory tract causing respiratory problems and aggravating existing asthma, lung, or heart conditions.

If left unchecked, soot from regular burning of paraffin candles can also cause significant damage to the inside of your house, your computers, electrical appliances, and ductwork.

Synthetically scented candles are believed to be a major source of soot because the chemicals used in “fragrance” oils tend to soften the wax, increasing the need to add metals to the wicks to stiffen them. They are also likely the main source of phthalates in soot.

The Good News …

The good news is there are ways to enjoy burning candles without routinely exposing yourself to harmful toxins. Here’s how you can avoid the problem:

1. Ensure any new candles you buy don’t have lead in the wicks. Look for “lead-free” or “coreless clean-burning” labels on them.  If you’re not sure, you can perform a simple test by rubbing the tip of the wick on a piece of paper. If it leaves a gray mark like a pencil, the wick contains lead

2. Buy candles made with 100% Beeswax or 100% Vegetable Wax. Because these waxes are more expensive, a lot of manufacturers tend to blend them with paraffin. Avoid blended wax candles. Look for labels indicating they are 100% pure

3. To reduce soot no matter what kind of candles you burn, keep wicks trimmed and don’t burn candles near a draft

4. For aromatherapy candles, buy candles scented with only pure essential oils. Soy candles are best for this purpose as they are clean, slow-burning, and long-lasting with superior scent throw (dispersion). Soy candles in containers can also be melted if placed on an electric warming plate. This eliminates the soot generating combustion that comes from directly burning wicks and enables sufficient release of the aromas.

How to Select the Right Type of Essential Oil Diffuser for Your Needs

Diffusers are the most effective way to experience the benefits of essential oils and essential oil blends via inhalation. A diffuser fragrances the air and is excellent for scenting a room to enhance mood, aid in respiration, or eliminate odors or airborne bacteria and viruses.

1.  Light Bulb Rings

This method involves placing a few drops of essential oil on either a ceramic or metal ring that is then placed over an incandescent light bulb and uses the heat from the light bulb to activate the essential oils and release their aromas into the air. This type of diffuser is inexpensive, ranging in price from $5 – $15, but it uses direct heat which when applied to certain oils (like citrus essential oils), will burn off their more volatile components and make them evaporate quickly, requiring frequent re-application to maintain the desired scent. It also tends to diminish their therapeutic value — not to mention increase the risk of getting burned or possibly starting a fire.

2.  Candle-Based Diffusers or Aroma Lamps

A candle-based diffuser like a potpourri burner or aroma lamp is another heat-based method of diffusion. They typically range in price from $10 – $25. If used in the same manner as the light bulb ring (i.e. oils are placed in the burner and exposed to direct heat) then the results are similar. You can mitigate some of these effects by adding water to the bowl or dish first, then a few drops of essential oil to the water before lighting the tea light. When the water is sufficiently heated the scent will be released through the steam rising off the top. This is a gentler way to heat essential oils without destroying some of their beneficial properties. The down side with this method is that the scent will not travel far so you need to be close to the diffuser to enjoy the scent and will need to re-apply oils frequently if using over a longer stretch of time.

3.  Electric Heat-Based Diffusers

The most common versions of this type of diffuser are the Scent Ball and Car Scenter. Both use a small square cotton pad that is saturated with the essential oils then placed in the diffuser where it comes in direct contact with a ceramic or metal plate. The diffuser is plugged into a wall outlet or a car lighter well and uses AC to lightly heat the pad, slowly releasing the scent. These diffusers can effectively scent a small space with continuous diffusion (up to 3 hours per application). You can control the intensity by how much essential oil you apply to the pad and refresh as needed or desired. They cost between $10 and $15, but replacement pads can sometimes be difficult to find.

4.  Fan-Based Electric Diffusers

Fan-based electric diffusers like the Spa Scenter are an excellent way to quickly or continuously fragrance a larger space. Like the Scent Ball and Car Scenter, they also use cotton pads though round and larger. Essential oils are applied to the cotton pad in varying amounts depending on desired strength of the scent, but instead of using heat to release the scent, the pad is placed over a variable speed fan that blows cool air through the pad and out of the unit. These units run somewhere in the $30 to $50 range and are relatively quiet making them the perfect choice for creating a home spa environment. They can be connected to a timer for more efficient unsupervised use.

5.  Nebulizing Diffusers

By far the most effective and expensive diffusers you can use. They consist of a hand-blown glass nebulizer that’s attached to a motorized base which when plugged in forces the essential oils’ aromatic molecules into the air in a fine, barely discernible jet stream. Since no heat is involved in the process the aromatic components of the oils remain unaltered providing maximum therapeutic value. This type of diffuser tends to cover large areas quickly and can be a little noisy. Still they’re the best to use for eliminating airborne bacteria and viruses. They’re also highly effective for odor elimination, managing allergy symptoms like congestion, or easing insomnia and anxiety. Prices range from $50 to $150 depending on features desired.

For a list of quality diffusers please visit http://www.dropwise.com/catalog/aromatherapy-diffusers.

Copyright 2009 Dropwise Essentials

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Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.

Essential Oils for Specific Ailments – Part 2

Emotional/Psychological

Insomnia: Lavender, marjoram, clary sage, chamomile, sweet orange, sandalwood or cistus can relax you and help you achieve a deeper, more refreshing sleep.

Depression: Citrus oils like sweet orange, pink grapefruit, neroli, tangerine, bergamot, and florals like rose, geranium, ylang, ylang and jasmine in particular, are especially helpful     [Read more…]

Essential Oils for Specific Ailments – Part 1

Physical/Physiological

Digestion: Sweet fennel, peppermint, lemon or ginger can help relieve indigestion. Chamomile can be used to relieve stomach cramps. Coriander, peppermint or cardamom can help relieve constipation.

Respiratory: Eucalyptus, myrtle, naiouli, peppermint, rosemary or cajeput can bring relief from congestion due to colds, flu or allergies.

Infection: Tea tree, eucalyptus, thyme, oregano, savory, clove, lavender & palmarosa are all strong anti-infectious oils that support the immune system. Some of these oils can be skin irritants so use with extreme caution. Consult a professional for best results.      [Read more…]

Safety Tips & Precautions for Working with Essential Oils – Part 2

Continuing on our last post, following are 7 additional safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Take extra care not to get oils or vapors in the eye. If you accidentally get some in your eye, soak a hankie or paper towel in a fatty carrier oil (i.e. sweet almond, sunflower, safflower, or even olive oil) and wipe the eye gently with it to soak up the essential oil. Essential oils are not water soluble but are readily absorbed by fatty substances. If you only have access to water then go ahead and flush the eye with cool water. Just be aware that relief may take a little longer!
  2. Avoid using essential oils while under medication, or if you have a health condition like high blood pressure, epilepsy or even asthma, unless they are used under the guidance and supervision of a trained health care professional
  3. Don’t ingest essential oils unless you are under the supervision of a medical doctor or a trained and certified aromatherapist or naturopath. Safe ingestion of oils requires significant training and experience, do not attempt this on your own!!
  4. Certain oils should be avoided during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, and some essential oils should be avoided altogether due to their toxicity. Oils that are safe to use during pregnancy include Rose, Neroli, Jasmine Absolute, Lavender, Chamomile, Geranium, Sandalwood, Frankincense, and all citrus oils. To be safe, it’s probably best to avoid these oils during the first trimester too.
  5. Oils to avoid altogether include Ajowan, Arnica, Boldo, Buchu, Calamus, Camphor, Horseradish, Jaborandi, Mustard, Pennyroyal, Rue, Santolina, Sassafras, Spanish Broom, Tonka, Wormseed, and Wormwood. It is highly unlikely that you will readily come across these essential oils, but if you do, avoid them because they are highly toxic. Also, most essential oil marketed as Wintergreen is not true Wintergreen and should be avoided as well.
  6. The following essential oils are known to be either mucous membrane or skin irritants and should be used with caution: Allspice, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, Pimento, Savory, and Thyme (except for the Linalol variety).
  7. Always stay within the established guidelines for dilutions in all aromatherapy applications (see our blending guidelines or refer to our recommended reading list for more information on this topic).

Read more at Safety Tips & Precautions for Working with Essential Oils – Part 1.

Safety Tips & Precautions for Working with Essential Oils – Part 1

Pure essential oils are entirely “natural” substances. The fact that they are natural doesn’t mean that they are all good for us or that they can be used in any quantity or manner. Just as certain herbs and plants can be toxic or even poisonous, there are essential oils that are toxic or can be toxic if they are not used in accordance with generally accepted guidelines.

Anyone who practices or wants to practice aromatherapy should be fully aware of certain hazards and precautions involved in the use of essential oils. Below is a summary of the main safety concerns and precautions to keep in mind.

  1. Always use pure, unadulterated essential oils. Purchase them from a trustworthy and reliable source who can verify their authenticity.
  2. Keep oils stored in dark bottles, tightly sealed, and away from sources of heat and light to prolong their potency and lifespan.
  3. Keep essential oils out of reach of young children at all times.
  4. Many essential oils can be highly irritating to the skin if applied undiluted. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying to skin. Lavender and Tea Tree are the exception to this rule. These two EOs can be applied “neat” (i.e. directly) to the skin for the treatment of minor burns, cuts, scrapes or other skin eruptions, except in individuals with extremely sensitive skin.
  5. If you are sensitive or highly allergic, perform a skin “patch” test before applying any oils. Place a drop of the essential oil in question on your upper chest area or in the crook of your arm. Wait 12 hours for signs of a reaction. If redness, itching or swelling occurs, avoid using that essential oil.
  6. Some citrus essential oils especially Bergamot, can cause photosensitivity of the skin if used prior to exposure to ultraviolet light. Oils to avoid on the skin if you plan to be out in the sun for awhile are Bergamot, Bitter Orange, Lime (cold-pressed), Lemon (cold-pressed), Grapefruit (cold-pressed), and Lemon Verbena (distilled Lime, Lemon, and Grapefruit oils do not pose this hazard). If you apply one of these oils to your skin then avoid UV exposure for at least four hours.
  7. Some essential oils may be harmful if used in their undiluted state over a prolonged period of time. If you use essential oils on a regular basis, it’s best to vary the oils you use every few weeks to avoid over-exposure to the chemical constituents of any specific oil.

Read more at Safety Tips & Precautions for Working with Essential Oils – Part 2.

Methods for Using Essential Oils & Blends

Each essential oil has its own unique properties and benefits. Used individually they can be very effective, but when blended with two or more complementary oils, their combined effect is more powerful than that of each individual oil. This is what’s commonly known as a “synergistic blend.” Depending on the desired results, either inhalation or direct application is suitable. Direct application is good for the physical body and will help with things like pain management, circulation, digestion, relaxation, and skin conditions. When applied by a professional massage therapist, benefits can be deep and long lasting. Essential oils can also be effectively used in massage therapy to release emotional blockages.

For inhalation, there are a couple of methods commonly employed to dispense the essential oils, including hot and cold diffusion, misters, hot baths or inhalers. A diffuser or mister quickly fragrances the air and is excellent for scenting a room to enhance mood, aid in respiration, increase alertness, or clear out unwanted odors.     [Read more…]