Essential Oils & Sun Safety

Essential Oils & Sun Safety

Have you seen the buzz lately about essential oils and sun safety, mainly articles showing up on social media with alarming headlines but not much useful information inside? There's some misconceptions about this issue of essential oils (primarily citrus derived oils) and phototoxicity so let's dive in and separate fact from fiction.

First off, lets talk phototoxicity. What is it? How does it happen? How do essential oils cause it? Phototoxicity is a type of photosensitivity and is a chemically induced skin irritation, requiring light. This phenomenon is caused by a chemical substance (yes, even natural substances are chemicals) that's either ingested or put on the skin topically that is photoactive, meaning when it absorbs light, it produces molecular changes that cause toxicity. This toxicity many times shows up as an exaggerated sunburn but can cause blisters and serious burns. Some essential oils contain furocoumarins, a constituent that can cause phototoxicity. These molecules are structured in a way that allows them to form cross-links with skin cell DNA, which then makes skin susceptible to UV radiation. 

So which essential oils are most likely to cause photosensitivity/phototoxicity? Glad you asked. Here's a handy list: 

  • Angelica Root Essential Oil
  • Bergamot (Cold Pressed)
  • Bitter Orange (Cold Pressed)
  • Cumin
  • Fig Leaf Absolute
  • Grapefruit (Cold Pressed)
  • Lemon (Cold Pressed)
  • Lime (Cold Pressed)
  • Mandarin Leaf
  • Opopanax
  • Rue
  • Tagetes

Notice the (Cold Pressed) next to some of the oils? That's because when the same oil is steam distilled is changed the molecular structure and it does not typically cause phototoxicity. 

A misconception is that all citrus oils cause phototoxicity, which is false. Here is a list of citrus oils that are considered generally safe in the sun: 

  • Bergamot FCF (FCF Has the Bergaptene/Furanocoumarins Removed)
  • Bergamot (Steam Distilled)
  • Blood Orange (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)
  • Lemon (Steam Distilled)
  • Lime (Steam Distilled)
  • Mandarin (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)
  • Sweet Orange (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)
  • Petitgrain
  • Satsuma (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)
  • Tangelo (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)
  • Tangerine (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)
  • Yuzu Oil (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)

Even if your favorite oil is on the photosensitive list, don't despair! You can still enjoy it and the sunshine with some precautions. 

Dilute, Dilute, Dilute

I know this is not popular with (ahem) some essential oil enthusiasts, but unless you're treating a very acute issue, you should always be diluting your essential oils before putting them on your skin. Here's some guidelines from Robert Tisserand’s book Essential Oil Safety on diluting popular citrus oils for sun safety: 

Safe Use of Citrus Essential Oils Per Ounce of Carrier Oil:
Cold Pressed/Expressed Bergamot — 2.4 drops (I just consider this 2 drops per oz)
Cold Pressed/Expressed Lemon — 12 drops per oz
Cold Pressed/Expressed Lime — 4.2 drops (I just consider this 4 drops per oz)
Cold Pressed/Expressed Grapefruit — 24 drops per oz

Another solution is to only use the essential oil on areas of the body that will not be exposed to UV light and wear sunscreen when using any product that contains essential oils that may cause phototoxicity. ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN. Sorry to yell at you, but it's only because I care. 

I hope that clears up any confusion and you can go on loving your citrus essential oils this Summer! If you're looking for a refreshing citrus pick-me-up for skin and mood, check out the Botanical Toning Mist with (properly diluted) grapefruit, hibiscus and rose! 

Ingredient Spotlight: Hyaluronic Acid (AKA: Youth Elixir)

Hyaluronic Acid, you might think this would be something you'd find in a mechanic's shop rather than your beauty cabinet. But, despite the unapproachable name, this ingredient is one of the holy grails for keeping skin supple and youthful. 

Here's How It Works: 

Hyaluronic Acid is a structural component of skin and is found in connective tissue throughout the body. What makes it so special is it has the ability to hold a greater capacity of moisture than any other natural or synthetic polymer (a large molecule made up of a string of smaller molecules). So what does this mean for your skin? Well, as we age our skin loses moisture (note: this is different then having oily or dry skin, you can still lose moisture and have an oily complexion as you age). This moisture loss at a deeper tissue level causes skin to start having the tell-tale signs of aging: fine lines, dull complexion, loss of firmness. In addition, skin ailments like acne, rosacea, and sun exposure can weaken our skin's outer barrier (outer layers of the skin) causing an acceleration of aging. Hyaluronic Acid helps skin retain its moisture even down to the deeper layers (dermis) while strengthening the skin's outer barrier, which leads to softer, firmer and more even toned skin. And if you weren't already convinced, Hyaluronic Acid provides antioxidant defense against free-radicals and inflammation. 

If healthy, glowing, youthful skin is your goal, then Hyaluronic Acid is a must-have in your skincare regime. Find it in the Rose Revival Cream, along with the best skin regenerating ingredients nature has to offer!

 

 

 

Creating A Healing Environment

Photo by: Julia Caesar

Photo by: Julia Caesar

Whether it's medicine, religion, dress, or even mannerisms, there's no denying that the culture we have been brought up in has an effect on our worldview and our comfort level with certain concepts. Through my journey in natural medicine and herbalism, I have found again and again that I have had to release my preconceived bias surrounding ideas that seemed flat out weird to me. In doing so, I have found an amazing openness, appreciation and curiosity in not only holistic medicine modalities, but in the complexity and depth of humans themselves. Healing is not simply curing; to activate your body's own ability to heal itself requires grace, humility, and trust, which sounds a lot like what it takes to have a healthy relationship with someone you love.

The fact is that we are still learning about the complexity of the human body and how sickness and disease also tie into our emotions, mental state, and even spiritual state. You don't need a doctor to tell you that when you have a stomach ache after getting your heart broken that the two are connected. We intuitively know that our emotions affect how we feel physically. It is this intuition that I want to encourage people to listen to. Next time you have a headache or digestive issues, instead of reaching for the medicine cabinet (even for natural remedies) take a moment to listen to your body. Where is this pain coming from? Are you carrying stress or guilt? Are you walking in truth and authenticity? We are not machines, you can't separate our parts. When there is disharmony in any part of our lives, it will infiltrate to all parts eventually, including your physical health. For true healing, you have to go to the root of the issue, not just mask the symptoms. 

I encourage you to look at health differently. Not viewing it just as the absence of disease, being the "perfect" weight , or managing pain, but as an awareness and appreciation of all the aspects that make you distinctly you. Cultivate a lifestyle that enriches you physically, mentally and spiritually. Don't let preconceived ideas keep you from benefiting from all of the amazing healing techniques that have been practiced for thousands of years, all over the world. By approaching yourself and others with openness and grace, you create a conducive environment for true healing.

Essential Oil Safety For Young Children

Photo by: Juan Galafa

Photo by: Juan Galafa

With Essential Oil use on the rise, more people are using aromatherapy as a natural, medicinal alternative for their children; and with properties that can calm anxiety, help sleep, clear congestion, and heal skin conditions, it's no wonder parents are interested! However, it's important to keep in mind that essential oils are very concentrated and that young children's immune systems are not fully developed and are therefore more susceptible to adverse effects. 

Let's first talk about the most popular way to use essential oils with children and that's via diffusion. You may have heard that essential oils such as Peppermint, Eucalyptus or Rosemary can clear congestion and help kick a cold, and while these are great choices for adults, these oils contain high amounts of menthol or 1,8- cineole which can cause slowed respiration in some children. Due to this risk, Peppermint should not be diffused around or applied to children under age 6, and Eucalyptus should be avoided on or around children under age 10. Diffusing child-safe oils such as Lavender, Mandarin or Chamomile can help calm and relax kids before bedtime or try using a few drops of Cypress, Pine, Fir or Spruce to help relieve congestion. Even when diffusing essential oils that are considered safe for children, make sure the space is well ventilated and the child is supervised in case of adverse reactions. 

Since infants and children have much thinner and more sensitive skin than adults, essential oils should be used with caution on the skin of children under age 2. It is imperative to properly dilute essential oils before applying topically, no matter how pure the oils are. Newborns are especially vulnerable to adverse effects of over-use or improperly diluted essential oils. Child-safe essential oils should be diluted at .25% in a carrier oil before applying to children up to age 6. A .25% dilution translates to 1 drop of essential oil to 4 teaspoons of carrier oil. In addition to providing a safety barrier against irritation, sensitivity, and phototoxicity, using essential oils in a carrier oil provides a good medium for the oils to be absorbed, as well as helping the essential oils spread over a larger surface of the skin. Some great carrier oil options for essential oils are coconut oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil. Use diluted essential oils topically for rashes, bruises, minor cuts and scrapes, itching (including bug bites) and other skin-related issues such as eczema. For children under 2, hydrosols are a great way to get the benefits of essential oils but in much less concentrated form. Hydrosols can be used topically on skin,  sprayed in a room or on linens for inhalation benefits. 

So what essential oils should you avoid using on or around young children? Glad you asked! Here's a list: 

  • Anise/Aniseed Pimpinella anisum – avoid using (topically or diffused) on children under 5
  • Cassia Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum aromaticum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Clove Stem Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia aromatica – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Eucalyptus Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus Autraliana, Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithii – avoid using (topically or diffused) on children under 10
  • Fennel (bitter), Fennel (sweet) Foeniculum vulgare – avoid using (topically or diffused) on children under 5
  • Lemongrass Cymbopogon flexuosus, Andropogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon citratus, Andropogon citratus – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Niaouli (cineole chemotype) Melaleuca quinquinervia – avoid using (topically or diffused) on children under 6
  • Peppermint Mentha x Piperita – avoid using (topically or diffused) on children under 6
  • Rosemary (1,8-cineole chemotype) Rosmarinus officinalis – avoid using (topically or diffused) on children under 6
  • Verbena (Lemon) Aloysia triphylla, Aloysia citriodora, Lippa citriodora, Lippa triphylla – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Wintergreen Gaultheria fragrantissima, Gaultheria procumbens – avoid due to methyl salicylate content
  • Ylang-Ylang Cananga odorata – avoid topical useon children under 2

These are the most common essential oils that should not be used on or around children. For a complete list, please visit learningabouteos.com

Wondering what essential oils are considered safe for children when used properly? I've got a list for that too:

  • Bergamot
  • Black Pepper
  • Blue Tansy
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary Sage
  • Copaiba
  • Coriander
  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • German Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Juniper Berry
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Mandarin
  • Neroli
  • Palmarosa
  • Patchouli
  • Petitgrain
  • Pines -except Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), or Huon Pine (Dacrydium franklinii)
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sandalwood
  • Siberian Fir Needle
  • Spearmint
  • Spruces
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Sweet Orange
  • Tangerine
  • Tea Tree
  • Vetiver

Finally, lets talk about phototoxicity, which is the reaction that some essential oils can have on the skin when exposed to the sun. Reactions including severe sunburn, blistering, swelling, and changes in skin tone can be severe. Here is a list of child-safe essential oils that have phototoxic properties, the number next to the oil is the number of drops allowed per ounce of carrier oil before there is a danger of phototoxic reaction: 

  • Bergamot – 1
  • Lime (cold-pressed) – 4
  • Orange, Bitter – 8
  • Lemon (cold-pressed) – 12
  • Grapefruit – 24

Notice there's no section on how to safely give essential oils to your children internally? That's because there's not a safe way. Never give essential oils to your child internally. I don't care how pure, how therapeutic grade they are, or if the Pope himself blessed them, just don't do it. Side effects of taking essential oils internally can include irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining, kidney damage and liver damage. 

I hope this information gives you the confidence and knowledge to use essential oils effectively and safely on your children! Have additional questions on using essential oils safely? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

The information in this post is based on personal experience and research as well as information from Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young and the Herbal Academy of New England. 

Information contained on this site is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis. All persons should consult their medical care provider prior taking or relying upon any herbal product, especially women who are pregnant or nursing, and persons with known medical conditions.

INSIDE - OUT BEAUTY: Fresh Spring Skin

Image by: Julia Caesar

Image by: Julia Caesar

By the time it's February, I am OVER winter.  To be honest, I'm over winter by December. Especially since winter can do such a number to the skin. The cold air and the subsequent heat we crank on to keep us warm can dry out our skin, leading it to be dull and flaky. A lack of Vitamin D filled sunshine can cause eczema flair ups. Fresh fruit and veggies aren't usually our go-to while binge watching Netflix, so digestion can get sluggish leading to congested skin.

But...SPRING IS HERE!! So let's leave our winter skin woes in the past and focus on what to do to get our glow back. 

Let me just start by saying that it does matter what you put on your skin. There is an amazing, green beauty movement happening. At last, we have choices other than chemical laden products that promise results but also have potential carcinogenic ingredients. (Umm...excuse me? No thank you.) There are natural, green beauty lines that are great for your skin and you should start adding them to your routine STAT. However, this post is about getting to the root of skin issues. Even if you're using super fantastical products on your face, if your deficient in vitamins and nutrients or your body isn't eliminating toxins properly, then you won't see lasting results. 

Here are four easy supplements to add to your (internal) skincare regimen:

The simplest way to start is with a high quality multi-vitamin. Not only will your skin look better, your whole body will function better. Ideally, we want to get all of these vitamins and minerals from our diet, but realistically...we usually need some help. When looking for a multi-vitamin consider these nutrients and the benefits they have for your skin:

Vitamin A: wound healing; helps to keep skin smooth and moist

Vitamin B Complex: helps improve skin texture

Vitamin C: necessary for formation of skin-strengthening collagen; sun protection

Vitamin D: promotes healthy cells; slows rate of cell division

Vitamin E: helps form anti-inflammatory chemicals; offers sun protection

Beta Carotene: converts in body to Vitamin A; production and maintenance of cells

Selenium: promotes anti-inflammatory chemicals

Zinc: helps with wound healing; helps control skin inflammation

*Don't forget that vitamins K,A,D & E are fat soluble, meaning take them with food for best absorbency.

Next, Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, which are critical for the growth of cells and the foundation of healthy cell membranes, including skin cells. Because Omega-3s help to reduce inflammation, they are helpful for acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. When your skin is dry, itchy or fine lines are creeping up, this is often a signal that you are deficient in essential fatty acids. 

It doesn't matter how many nutrients you put into your body if your digestive system isn't absorbing them properly. To help your body be able to benefit from the nutrients it receives in your diet and through supplements, include probiotics like acidophilus and bifidus in your daily routine. Aim for 5 to 10 billion viable units per day. 

Finally, herbs are a great resource to help address skin issues that are stemming from internal inflammation and improper elimination of toxins. The following are powerhouse herbs for your skin:

Burdock root is anti-inflammatory, diuretic, digestive stimulant, and liver tonic. It can be used for chronic skin eruptions like acne, eczema, boils, and sties. By stimulating the natural flow of lymphatic fluid, Burdock supports the excretion of toxic by-products from cells. 

Oregon grape root bark provides immune system support while also promoting the elimination  of catabolic residues. Commonly used for sluggish gastrointestinal and liver systems, it aids in conditions like psoriasis, dry eczema and acne. 

Horsetail is rich in minerals, including silica which helps build strong bones while promoting healthy skin and nail growth. 

All of these herbs and more can be found in the Native Nectar Clear & Glow Skin tincture, try pairing it with the Clear & Glow Skin oil for calming and rejuvenating skin!

Don't be discouraged if you don't see results right away. It may take up to a month to start seeing a difference, but once you start taking care of your skin from the inside out, you will reap the benefits for a lifetime!

 



*This information is for educational purposes only and not meant to take the place of a doctor's advice. The products and information on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not meant to diagnose, cure or treat disease. 

INSIDE - OUT BEAUTY: Best Foods to Eat to Fight the Bloat

Image by: Tiago Faifa

Image by: Tiago Faifa

Bloating is one of those unpleasant issues that many of us have to deal with on a somewhat regular basis. The frustrating thing about that full, uncomfortable feeling in your gut is that it can be caused by a myriad of factors; maybe you ate too much, maybe you ate your food in the wrong order (i.e. fruit before protein), maybe you drank too much liquid, maybe you have a food allergy, maybe your bowel movements aren't regular...I could go on and on. You get the point, it can take a lot of work to get to the bottom of bloating; but while you do your due diligence, let's talk about some foods you can eat to help fight the bloat. 

Bananas & Oranges: Potassium rich foods can reduce bloating by helping to maintain the potassium-sodium balance in the body and therefore keeping water retention at bay. 

Papaya, Pineapple, & Grapefruit: These fruits are filled with enzymes that help the digestive system break down food and speed up elimination. Not to mention that sounds like a delicious fruit salad!

Yogurt & Kefir: Filled with probiotics, yogurt and kefir products help promote healthy gut flora. If you have an aversion to lactose, look for lactose free kefir or coconut milk yogurt. Check your labels and avoid sugar and artificial ingredients!

Berries, Apples & Pears: These fruits are high in fiber and help keep things moving. 

Watermelon: At 93% water, watermelon is accurately named. It's also high in potassium so it's a great choice for relieving water retention. 

Salmon: We know this Omega 3 powerhouse is good for us but did you know that it can help reduce inflammation in the stomach? Yep. Pair it with some high fiber veggies for a delicious meal.

Quinoa: Many grains are notorious for giving us the tummy puffs, but quinoa lives up to its healthy hype. Full of magnesium, potassium and fiber, it's a great substitute for rice or other grains in recipes. 

Ch-Ch-Chia Seeds: Another on trend super-food, Chia seeds have magnesium, potassium and Omega 3. Don't know what to do with these tiny health ninjas? How about some delicious chia seed pudding? Or throw them in your smoothies, on top of salads; you can pretty much sneak them in anywhere. Google some recipes and go crazy.

So if bloating has got you reaching for sweat pants, again... try adding some of these foods to your diet regularly. And if you're looking for some additional ways to get your digestive system right and tight, try Native Nectar Detox & Nourish TinctureDigest Therapeutic Oil, or PMS Relief Tincture for PMS related bloating. 

 

 

*This information is for educational purposes only and not meant to take the place of a doctor's advice. The products and information on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not meant to diagnose, cure or treat disease. 

Behind The Hype: Essential Oils

Image by: Splitshire

Image by: Splitshire

Essential Oils are enjoying their day in the sun. Even though much of their resurgence in popularity is due to multi-level marketing companies, Im still excited people are experiencing the health benefits of essential oils. Before "Young Living" pretty much became a household name, most people associated essential oils with spa treatments or patchouli wearing hippies. While essential oils aren't a quick fix cure-all, they are an extremely powerful addition to your natural remedy arsenal. Here's how they work...

Scent: Pathway to the Brain

The typical question is how can you get therapeutic healing actions from simply smelling an essential oil? The answer is that your olfactory nerves are directly connected to your brain. This is the breakdown of the pathway:

Inhalation->Nose->Olfactory nerves->Olfactory bulb->Limbic structure->Cerebral cortex (memory, learning, emotions) & Hypothalmus -> Autonomic Nervous System-> Pituitary gland->Hormones.

When essential oils are inhaled their properties are also absorbed in the lungs which leads to the blood stream, then organs and tissues.

The Power of Scent

Have you ever caught the scent of fresh cut grass and been immediately transported back to a childhood summer memory? For most of us, scents can unlock powerful memories and emotions associated with those memories. With essential oils, this effect on emotions and moods is referred to as an oil's energetics, or subtle energy. Everything is energy and vibrates at a certain frequency. Essential oils also have a vibrational frequency, this frequency or energy has the ability to affect our own energy; which is why some oils help on an emotional level. Scent is a personal experience; each person is unique and so will have unique reactions to the scent of different oils. For some the smell of lemon balm is refreshing and invigorating, for others it reminds them of cleaning solution and they feel agitated. Some oils can grow on you with time, but it's important to pick oils that you associate with positive emotions.

Due to the way our brain responds to scent, it's no wonder that essential oils also have an affect on our immune system, organs, lymphatic system and blood. 

Top Oils

There are so many amazing essential oils to choose from but there are several that I would recommend for an essential oil "medicine kit".

Lavender: one of the most popular and versatile oils, it is great for treating depression and is effective in treating insomnia. Assists the body in handling unproductive stress. Energetically, lavender has a balancing and harmonizing effect.

Tea Tree: This oil has a sharp menthol smell that some may find off putting at first but it's an amazing oil due to its antimicrobial, antiseptic, and bactericide properties. It is a powerful immune system stimulant. Tea Tree is great for many skin conditions including acne, cold sores, dandruff, rashes and wounds. Energetically, it invigorates the mind and heart, builds confidence and helps people who struggle with feeling victimized.

Peppermint: One of the most effective oils for the digestive system. It has antispasmodic properties that are beneficial for the G.I. tract and can help with cramps, gas, nausea and bloating. Peppermint helps clear the mind and relieve mental fatigue. Energetically, it is said to act on the ego, dispelling pride.

Chamomile (Roman): One of the gentlest oils. It's a soothing and calming antidepressant; also good for headaches, migraines, and PMS symptoms. Chamomile is also recommended as an emergency remedy during an asthma attack. Energetically, this oil is calm and serene and helps to promote a harmonious emotional life.

Rose: This is my personal favorite. Rose has a profound psychological effect and helps to release anger, despair and heal emotional trauma. It is also valuable for the treatment of gynecological problems and is considered a tonic for the uterus, regulates menstruation, and relieves PMS symptoms. Rose has been used for thousands of years for its softening and moisturizing effects on the skin. Energetically, rose is the epitome of the female spirit, both vivacious and alive, yet gentle and nurturing.

When using essential oils there are some important things to remember, the first being that just because it's natural doesn't mean it isn't powerful. It's recommended to dilute oils in a carrier oil (olive oil, coconut oil, apricot oil, etc.) before applying to skin. Never take essential oils internally unless you are under direct supervision of a qualified Aromatherapist who is familiar with your health history. While it might seem safe enough to add some lemon essential oil to your water, keep in mind that in some oils one drop of lemon is equivalent to a pound of lemons! If you ate a pound of lemons in one sitting do you think your system might have a negative reaction? Yeah, probably. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Some possible side effects of taking essential oils internally include irritation of the stomach lining, upset stomach, diarrhea and liver damage. 

In addition, there are those who need to take special care when using essential oils including the elderly, infants, pregnant women and those who have severe medical conditions; this doesn't mean all oils are unsafe for these people, just that it's a good idea to consult with a health professional and/or thoroughly research the oils before use. 

Don't feel shy about jumping on the essential oil bandwagon. With the many health and wellbeing benefits that essential oils offer, you can't blame people for being excited!

Interested in trying essential oils? Check out Native Nectar Therapeutic Oil blends here!

 

 

 

 

 

*This information is for educational purposes only and not meant to take the place of a doctor's advice. The products and information on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not meant to diagnose, cure or treat disease.