Holistic Wellness

Can essential oils kill viruses in the air around you?


Photo by Mareefe from Pexels

The short answer is yes, but within limitations, and if used properly.

 

I am blogging  today because something(s) I am very passionate about seem to be under attack lately in the media. Specifically natural health, essential oils, and individuals abilities to determine their own plans for protecting themselves and promoting their own immune systems. I realize some people believe in essential oils and some do not. If you google the subject, half of what you read will claim it is all “witchdoctery”, while the other half praises their efficacy. This article, as with anything I write, is based on scientific research, classes I have taken, personal testimony, and books I have read.

 

I’m sure you all read about the recent post made by a social media influencer, and beauty guru where she wrote that essential oils being diffused into the air would kill the coronavirus because they were anti viral. Then later a famous western medicine dermatologist claimed “Sorry, anti viral essential oils don’t exist.”  while publicly shaming the original poster who was trying to help others. It saddened me and made me a bit angry that the doctor was so close minded to something she clearly did not want to understand. First let me define the word antiviral.

Antiviral as defined in the book Essential Aromatherapy means it prevents viral growth.

 

The facts are:

  1. Antiviral essential oils do exist.
  2. There is plenty of scientific research to support their efficacy.
  3. Diffusing antiviral essential oils into the air can prevent further growth of viruses, preventing their spread when used properly.

 

I will preface this by saying that my resources for this article are:

 

  1. The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, By Valerie Ann Worwood, PhD
  2. Essential Aromatherapy, By Valerie Ann Worwood, PhD
  3. The Aromatherapy Bible, By Gill Farrer- Halls

 

About the authors of the aforementioned books:

 

Valerie Ann Worwood

Valerie Ann Worwood is one of the world’s most well known experts on aromatherapy and essential oils. She is a consultant clinical aromatherapist with a doctorate in complementary medicine, as well as the author of ten books on the therapeutic use of aromatherapy. She has been Chairperson and Chair of Research for the International Federation of Aromatherapists, and she has acted as a consultant and expert on the clinical use of essential oils internationally. She is a reflexologist, and member of the London and counties society of Physiologists.  She runs her own clinic in Romford, England, conducts research on aromatherapy and its effects on endometriosis and infertility, and is a consultant to several natural beauty and health clinics. In addition, she lectures all over the world on the benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils.

 

Gill Farrer- Halls

Gill is a Tibetan traditional Buddhist. She has spent extensive time in India and Nepal and has worked with the Dalai Lama. She is a writer and freelance producer based in London. She is considered an expert in Eastern Medicine, and specializes in the healing power of plants.

 

I apologize for the very long introduction, however I wanted to make the point that I was typing fact and not simply my own opinion.

 

Now let’s get to it! Let’s start with which essential oils have proven effective as antivirals.

 

  1. Cinnamon Essential Oil:

Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, and Jamaica. Cinnamon essential oil is effective at treating influenza, warts, coughs, colds, viral infections, arthritis, aches, and pains. Quote from The Aromatherapy Bible page 350; “Cinnamon is used less in aromatherapy than most of the other spices, but it is excellent in a burner to ward off colds, flu, and ALL other airborne infections and contagious diseases.” Cinnamon is warm, and comforting, and makes me think of being little and the smells in my great grandmothers kitchen after she would pick the peaches off the tree and make cobbler. Do not use cinnamon essential oil: during pregnancy, on persons under 18 years of age, on people with sensitive skin, in baths.


Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels
  1. Clove Essential Oil:

Cloves are native to Indonesia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, West Indies, and Zanzibar. Clove essential oil is effective in treating warts, toothache (because of its analgesic properties) , fungal infections, tummy troubles, viral infections, and stress. Clove is utilized in the kitchen as a traditional mulling spice. I adore it in the elderberry syrup we retail at the spa, it makes the immune powerhouse syrup taste like an apple pie! In ancient Egypt, clove was utilized in “mood perfumes” for its aroma, but also to create a pleasant mood. Do not use clove essential oil: during pregnancy, on persons under 12 years of age, on people with sensitive skin, in baths.

 

  1. Eucalyptus (Radiata) Essential Oil: 

Eucalyptus is native to Australia, Tasmania, America, Brazil, China, Portugal, Russia, and Spain. Eucalyptus is effective in treating viral infections, headaches, cough, sinus infections, colds, bug bites, and stings. The tree has been called “White Top Peppermint, and was first distilled in 1788 by doctors John White and Dennis Cossiden. Please note there are quite a few different types of Eucalyptus essential oil, the only one that is anti viral is “radiata”, the others “globulus”, “smithi”, and “polybractea”, etc do not have anti viral properties.  Eucalyptus has a menthol-like smell that is very crisp, cool,  and clean. There are no known contraindications for eucalyptus essential oil.

 

  1. Melissa Essential Oil:

Melissa is native to The Mediterranean, and Europe. Melissa essential oil is effective for calming anxiety, relieving stomach cramps, treating herpes, treating yeast infections, and viral infections. Melissa is a bit rare, and it takes a lot of the plant to produce essential oil, so melissa is one of the more expensive essential oils. The smell is similar to lemon balm. Bees tend to be drawn to the melissa plant. Melissa is one of the best essential oils for mental health as it is calming but also uplifting and reduces feelings of depression, and anger. There are no known contraindications for melissa essential oil.


Photo by Ian Panelo from Pexels
  1. Oregano Essential Oil:

Oregano is native to Morocco, Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Oregano is effective at treating respiratory infections, bronchitis, rheumatism, arthritis, general debility, muscular pain, viral infections, and bacterial infections. Oregano is one of my favorites, the smell is so potent it seems to purify and overpower any other scent in the air, and it grows so abundantly that the oil is super affordable for all. The crisp smell always makes me think of a zesty pizza sauce. Oregano is another one that bees seem to favor. Do not use oregano essential oil: on children under 18 years of age, during pregnancy, or in baths.

 

  1. Ravensara Essential Oil:

Ravensara is native to Australia and Madagascar. Ravensara is effective at treating viral infections, liver infections, lung infections, respiratory ailments, chicken pox, diarrhea, reducing fever, and wounds. It smells woodsy and camphor like. The seeds are used in cooking as “Madagascan Nutmeg”. Ravensara has also been used to make rum. There are no known contraindications for ravensara.

 

  1. Tea Tree Oil:

Tea tree oil is native to Australia and Tasmania. Tea tree is the most powerful disinfectant essential oil ever discovered as it is antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. Tea tree oil has effectively treated athletes’ foot, yeast infections, thrush, herpes, but bites, acne, shingles, and warts. It is also used to boost the immune system. Tea tree oil is 100X more powerful than carbolic acid (AKA phenol) and yet it is safe for humans! There are no known contraindications to tea tree oil, and it is one of the very few oils that can be used on the skin neat (without dilution).


Photo by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels
  1.  Thyme Essential Oil:

Thyme is native to Algeria, USA, France, Germany, Greece, Morocco, and Spain. Thyme is a versatile, necessary tool in your tool kit because it treats a huge variety of conditions. Historically it has been proven effective for treating viral infections, bacterial infections, fluid in the lungs, poor circulation, respiratory infections, gout, acne, anorexia, warts, lethargy, ADD, and much more. What is unique about thyme as an essential oil is that it is also a lymphatic stimulant, so it increases the removal of waste and toxins from the body, at the same time as it prevents infections. Thyme is also a natural bug deterrent.  Quote from Essential Aromatherapy; “Red Thyme is one of the best anti- infectious agents when diffused in the atmosphere”. However it is recommended that it be used sparingly. Do not use thyme essential oil: on children under 18 years of age, during pregnancy or breastfeeding, on persons with hyperthyroidism, heavily dilute for use on skin, and avoid prolonged use.

 

To diffuse any of the above oils please remember less is more. Do not overdo it, too much of a good thing can be toxic. Fill your diffuser with cold or cool tap water before adding oils, and always clean your diffuser before and after each use to prevent cross contamination. I suggest cleaning by just wiping out with white vinegar. Below are a few virus annihilating blends using the aforementioned oils. A good rule of thumb for diffusing essential oils is 4 to 6 drops per ounce of water so it is important to know how much water your diffuser holds. For example, below recipe #1 contains 5 drops total will work well in 1 ounce of water, double the recipe for 2 ounces of water, OR recipe #4 contains 12 drops total so you need 2 to 3 ounces of water. So please take this into consideration when purchasing the correct diffuser for your needs.

 

  1. 2 drops melissa, 2 drops eucalyptus, 1 drop tea tree
  2. 3 drops clove, 3 drops tea tree, 1 drop cinnamon
  3. 3 drops oregano, 3 drops eucalyptus, 3 drops ravensara, 1 drop clove, 1 drop cinnamon
  4. 4 drops eucalyptus, 3 drops melissa, 3 drops tea tree, 2 drops thyme.
  5. 5 drops oregano, 4 drops eucalyptus, 3 drops thyme
  6. 2 drops melissa, 2 drops clove, 2 drops ravensara

 

Or just try a few drops of a single oil you really enjoy, such as 4 drops of oregano (my personal go to).

 

If you’re not keen on playing chemist in your kitchen you can always purchase a blend already put together by professionals such as on guard, or breathe. On guard contains wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils Breathe blend contains laurel, eucalyptus, peppermint, melaleuca (tea tree), lemon, cardamom, ravintsara, and ravensara essential oils.

 

Happy redolence friends!

 

Licorice root is a powerhouse ingredient for fighting sun damage!

 

Licorice is a native weed to Europe and Asia. Its Root is widely used for its oddly sweet extract. You may be familiar with licorice candy, although like everything else these days, its rarely actual licorice root used in candy anymore, instead usually a man made flavoring.

 

The Ancient Egyptians first documented use of Licorice in 360 A.D. They thought of it as a universal remedy for pretty much all ailments from eye disorders, to tummy troubles, to skin rashes and everything in between. They made it into beverages for easy consumption. The plant was dried and placed inside King Tut’s tomb.

 

The Chinese believed it beneficial for treating coughs, colds, flu, depression, lethargy, bad breath, and more. It is still a popular choice amongst Chinese herbalists.

 

Licorice Root is a robust anti oxidant,which helps fight free radical damage when applied topically. Antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage, environmental toxins, and premature ageing. Licorice is also used to hush hypersensitive skin being one of the few proven ingredients to have a calming effect on rosacea and eczema. It’s anti-inflammatory properties make it super effective for calming skin and reducing puffiness, making it an excellent go to for under eye treatment products. I always recommend products containing licorice root to my clients with hyper-pigmentation, sun spots and/ or  melasma because it contains liquirtin and licochal which reduce melanin production. These components of licorice have been shown to be as effective as hydroquinone (a drug prescribed for hyper-pigmentation) at reducing enzyme activity that produces melanin, according to a 2009 study done by The Pakistan Association of Dermatologists. When combined with a good old retinol (vitamin A derivative), the duo reduces pigmentation, while increasing cell turnover, out with the old, in with the new!It can even be found in many sunscreens. Another unique benefit of using licorice to treat sun damage is because it naturally contains UV blocking enzymes, it doesn’t increase the risk of sunburn during treatment (photo-sensitivity) like its competitors. 

 

Licorice root can also be taken internally. Licorice is similar to the popular drug mucinex in how it causes expulsion from the lungs. It cleanses the lungs by ridding them of old mucus, while producing new mucus to protect. No wonder the Chinese have used it for many years to treat coughs and colds. Licorice is also an effective treatment for heartburn when ingested. Licorice also balances the bacteria in the gut, and has been used to treat Dysbiosis. 

 

I think we can all agree this is one weed that we shouldn’t be pulling, unless it’s to make tea or tinctures. 

 

Boosting Your Immune System Now & Always: The Best Defense is a Good Offense!

 

Boosting Your Immune System Now & Always: The Best Defense is a Good Offense!

 

During these uncertain, and scary times, I believe it is my duty to share my knowledge on immune system health. I feel that the best preventative medicine is a defensive one. By strengthening your immune system you are less likely to catch a viral or bacterial infection, and if you do, your body is stronger for the fight. Below I will provide a brief outline of some of my favorite tried and true methods for a rock solid immune response.

Check it out!

 

Goldenseal- A perennial herb from the buttercup family, Goldenseal is found in North America. There’s documentation to support its use as early as 1798 by the Cherokee Indians. Due to its antimicrobial properties, it’s used today in Eastern Medicine as immune system support. If taking Goldenseal, follow the manufacturer suggested dosages to avoid overdose, which can be toxic.

 

Limes- Limes are naturally high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, making them an excellent go-to staple for boosting your immune system. If plain lime juice is too sour for your taste buds, consider adding it to a smoothie (immune smoothie recipe below), making Lime-Aide, or squeezing on top of a dish for garnish. In addition to boosting your immune system, limes can support healthy skin, help with weight loss, and ward off bad breath.

 

Immune Boosting Smoothie (tastes kinda like V8)- 

 

2 tomatoes washed and cored

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lemon

1 celery stalk, ends removed

1 carrot, peeled and ends removed

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic

Small chunk of ginger, peeled

2 ice cubes

 

Blend in blender

 

Enjoy!

 

Oranges- I don’t think mentioning that oranges are full of Vitamin C is news to anyone, but they are also jam-packed with vitamin B6, antioxidants, and limonoids. So, in addition to making your immune system tough, they help regulate energy, fight cancer cells, and make your skin glowy and fabulous. Eat these guys raw, or make some orange chicken!

 

Lemons- Lemons are another great immune boosting citrus, loaded with Vitamin C and B vitamins, and make a super tasty garnish! So pucker up, buttercup. 

Zinc- Zinc is a trace mineral. It boosts our immunity by controlling the actions of proteins in our body, preventing excessive inflammatory response. As with anything, don’t overdo it. In addition to helping a healthy immune response, it has been used and shown effective for preventing acne, relieving diarrhea, alleviating ADHD, and when used topically, it’s great for healing burns.

 

Elderberry- Elderberry is a flowering plant used to create elderberry syrup. Please note: Elderberries cannot be eaten raw, because when raw they are toxic. However, made into a variety of forms it can be used for year-round immune system support. In addition to immune benefits, elderberry syrup has been shown effective in treating chronic pain, constipation, and reducing cholesterol.

 

Cayenne Pepper AKA Capsicum- Ever wonder why you get hot while eating spicy foods, besides the actual spice itself? Cayenne Pepper is a vasodilator (meaning it expands your blood vessels), so it increases circulation, which will shorten the duration of any infection in the body by getting things moving. Kind of like how you get a fever when your body is fighting an infection, your body’s natural vasodilator. Additionally, capsicum is naturally high in Vitamin A, which is great for keeping away acne. It is also loaded with beta-carotene which is great for eye health. I personally adore spicy foods so another excuse to eat them is welcomed, however, if hot is not your jam, oral supplements are available. 

 

Oregano- Oregano has antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. Essentially a natural antibiotic, natural antiviral, and anti-fungal. I prefer to take an Oil of Oregano supplement daily during cold and flu season, but it’s also fun to increase the use of this dried herb in meals. Oregano has been used in medicine and in food for over 4000 years. Hippocrates was known to advise its use for treating coughs, indigestion, and fever. Oregano as an essential oil can also be diluted and mixed with witch hazel and water to make a surface disinfectant. (Who is suddenly craving pizza? I’m lying – I’m always craving pizza!)

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Olive Leaf- Although lots of Americans enjoy olives on their pizzas and in their salads, many do not realize that the leaf of the olive tree is full of antioxidant properties! Olive leaf also regulates cytokines (the immune system messengers), making it a must-tool in your immune system toolbox. Historically, it has been used to regulate blood sugar, prevent heart attacks, and chewed on as a snack in Yemen. Although I have only ever personally used it in its supplement form, olive leaf tea is popular with our European neighbors.

 

Mushrooms- A good combination of mushrooms in one supplement is usually best for immune support as each kind of mushroom has a different nutrient makeup. For example, shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamins B and D, selenium, amino acids, and enzymes, since it is technically a fungus. Chaga mushroom, on the other hand, helps your immune system by fighting free radicals with its powerhouse of antioxidants. Other mushrooms that are good for immune health are turkey tail, cordyceps, lion’s mane, maitake, and reishi. (I really feel like I’m naming all my favorite pizza toppings now. Eat up!)

 

Probiotics and/ or Kombucha- Maintaining healthy gut bacteria is super important for a strong immune system – as we all know the old saying, “you are what you eat.” Cells in your gut actually produce a ton of antibodies that are used throughout the body to fight disease and dysfunction, so take good care of your intestines. Probiotics are good bacteria that support healthy gut function, and can easily be purchased in a gel cap form to swallow.  However, for those who don’t mind a slightly vinegar tasting sweet tea, kombucha is fermented tea that is loaded with good bacteria for your gut. (I love kombucha, but it is unique).

 

Enzymes- Enzymes occur naturally in certain foods, or can be purchased in a supplement form. Enzymes help break down foods, speeding up healthy digestion and making the body and GI tract more alkaline. Your body constantly seeks balance and works hard to maintain the healthy neutral alkaline zone. Bacteria and Viruses enjoy an acidic environment, and do not survive well in a more alkaline one. Enzymes also help the body absorb nutrients better because of how they break down ingested foods and supplements. Enzymes are naturally found in papayas, pumpkin, pineapple, bananas, and avocados.

 

Ginger- Ginger is high in antioxidants, as well as magnesium, zinc, and iron. Ginger has antimicrobial properties that kill viruses, and bacteria. Ginger also increases circulation, speeding the body’s natural immune response if already sick. Ginger also offers very versatile options as it can be consumed as a tea, added as a dried root while cooking, added as a fresh root while cooking, or even honey and ginger lozenges for sore throats.

 

Turmeric- Turmeric is another magical root. It is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral. It also increases the body’s response of T cells (the cells that protect the body from pathogens and cancer). It has also been used to relieve symptoms of depression and support healthy liver function. Turmeric can be purchased as a supplement, or found in a variety of cuisines (especially Indian cuisine). (As if I need any excuse to eat at my favorite Indian restaurant).

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Sunflower Seeds- Sunflower seeds are high in magnesium, which is a natural immune booster. Sunflower seeds also contain selenium, which help your body fight cancer while also helping your immune system to rebuild cells. Sunflower also contains high amounts of zinc, which we discussed earlier is an immune ally. So eat up those yummy, little treats for your health. 

 

Garlic- Long renowned as nature’s antibiotic, garlic keeps away the cold and flu. I personally get a ton in my diet, because I love garlic, but you can always grab in supplement form if you do not care for the taste. 

 

Echinacea- Echinacea is a flowering herb that has been used for decades to combat cold and flu. Echinacea contains phenols, which increase antioxidant activity. Echinacea supplements can be purchased at most herb or vitamin shops. 

 

Vitamin C- In addition to helping our immune systems, Vitamin C has been used in IV infusions to help during cancer treatments. Vitamin C also helps reduce blood pressure, lowers risk of chronic disease, and also prevents iron deficiency. Drink some Oj or grab a supplement! 

 

Raw Honey- In addition to soothing a sore throat by coating the back of the tongue and mucus membranes of the throat, honey has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Buy local honey to your area for a decreased inflammatory response to local allergens. It is also an energy booster, so say bye-bye to the afternoon slump!

Colloidal Silver- We have all heard the folklore as kids that silver wards off vampires, but it actually does ward off colds, flu, bacteria and viruses. If you have ever heard that your antique “real” silverware is naturally antibacterial, guess what? It’s true. Bacteria, germs, viruses cannot live on silver surfaces. Now, there are supplements containing silver that can be ingested internally. It comes in a liquid or lozenge form.

 

In addition to great supplements and a balanced diet, good lifestyle choices are imperative!

 

Sleep- Make sure you are getting enough ZZZ’s. Sleep helps maintain proper cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates many processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. 

 

Water- Ever heard the phrase “You’re not sick you’re thirsty”? Dehydration can literally make us sick, or flush our bodies when we are sick. We should all try to drink half our body weight in ounces every day. For example if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day. Amazon makes it easy these days with encouraging jugs with straws. 

 

Move your body-  Daily cardiovascular exercise or general muscle and joint movement such as tai chi, or yoga should be a quintessential part of your immune plan. Muscle contraction and joint movement naturally push lymphatic fluid through the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is how your body cleans itself & rids itself of toxins. So – get out and get moving! Or do a workout at home. Either way, move your bod!

 

I hope this helps you stay well.

 

 

Training for a 5 K on a budget!

Photo by Derick Santos from Pexels

Guest Article by: Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com | info@fitsheila.com

Budget-Friendly Ways to Train for Your First 5K

 

If you’ve decided to sign up for a 5K race, you’ve made a good decision. Training for and running this roughly three-mile trek is a great way to quickly get in shape, support charities, make friends and so much more. Plus, 5Ks don’t require you to spend a lot of money. 

 

Whether you’re just starting to run again after a long hiatus, or you’ve never run more than a half-mile in your life, training for a 5K race can be challenging. But training is also the most beneficial part of the whole process, and doing it well is what will help you achieve your goals. That’s why we’ve put together this list of cost-effective tips to help you prepare and make the most of your 5K experience:

 

Gear up through promo codes. 

 

When you start running, having the right gear is critical for staying healthy and avoiding injury. Buying gear can also be the most expensive part of running, which is why it’s important to find deals before you make a bunch of purchases. Look for Rakuten Coupons, promo codes, or cashback opportunities on anything from running shoes to technical socks and clothing. 

 

Sign up as early as possible. 

 

When you sign up for a race early on, it can help motivate you to start training and give you more time to prepare. The act of signing up alone moves you from talking about running a 5K to committing to it. Local races are typically easy to find, registration is usually free or inexpensive (expect anywhere from $5 to $40), and portions often go to charity. If you currently pay for a gym membership, canceling it can help you to cover the cost of registration (and maybe even other costs like gear). 

 

Set a healthy goal. 

 

For your first race, try to think of yourself as the only competition. If you’re not an experienced runner and your race is coming up in a few weeks, it may not be a good idea to shoot for a 20-minute finish time. Instead, focus on improving during training, preventing injury, staying healthy and doing your best. This will set you up for success and help you avoid hefty medical bills. 

 

Find the right training program.

 

A 5K race generally takes 15 to 45 minutes to complete. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a very short amount of time compared to the training leading up to the event, which is why most benefits come from training. If you research online, you can find countless training programs for 5K races—some of which are free. Find one that challenges you, but make sure it’s realistic. Your training program should motivate you to get fit and have fun, not discourage you. 

 

If it’s been a long time since you engaged in any physical activity, shoot for 20 to 30 minutes of jogging/walking three times a week. From there, you can gradually increase your pace and add a day—then two—to your weekly regimen. 

 

Stretch before and after running. 

 

Finally, stretching before and after your runs will go a long way in preparing your body and avoiding injury. As part of your pre-run routine, do dynamic stretching, which includes movements like walking lunges, high knees and butt kicks that help to get your blood flowing and prepare your muscles and joints. After each run, cool down by walking for a few minutes and doing static stretches for your hamstrings, quadriceps, back, hip flexors and groin. You can get ideas for stretching on free apps like Flexibility, Stretching Sworkit and Kaia. 

 

Running a 5K race comes with tons of benefits, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Be sure to get all the gear you need, and register for your race early. Also, make sure your goals and training program are challenging but realistic, and stretch appropriately before and after each run. Most of all, enjoy the journey of preparing for your first 5K, and don’t look back!

The root of Immortality; and its key benefits for inside and outside of the human body.

Ginseng, a root written about as “The Root of Immortality” in Eastern medicine as early as 196 AD in The Shen- Nung Pharmacopoeia is making a popular come back in skincare products. It is an amazing ingredient, I hope you are as excited about as I am.

Disclaimer: Please note that the FDA does not approve its medicinal use in the United States, however it can be purchased over the counter as an herbal supplement. This blog and the research used to write it came from Eastern Medicine teachings and uses.

Ginseng is a root that is harvested and then pulled from the ground similar to farming a carrot. There are 2 main types: Korean and American. Ancient Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cultures used Ginseng to increase stamina, improve overall wellness and immunity, and for persevering through hard times as it is believed to bring good karma. Ginseng is rich in several vitamins and nutrients including the following B vitamins; 1, 5, 2, and 12, as well as amino acids, peptides, folic acids, fatty acids, and minerals. It is also rich in ginsenocides, a substance that is similar to human hormones, and has been shown effective in balancing hormones in the body which will help balance blood pressure, insulin production, and increase metabolism. Furthermore it acts as an appetite suppressant, aiding in weight loss.

Ginseng has been used for the following:

  • Treating Erectile Dysfunction (because the ginsenosides increase circulation to genital blood vessels)
  • Boosting Immune system function
  • Lower Blood Sugar
  • Improve mood
  • Boost Energy (because it is a stimulant)
  • Fighting Cancer (because it supports healthy T Cell function, T cells are the cells that fight cancer)
  • Aid healthy digestion
  • Reduce Tumor Size
  • Boost liver function
  • Increase sexual desire and performance
  • Calming the central nervous system and promoting healthy stress response
  • Obesity

Please note there are some contraindications to taking Ginseng as a supplement, if you have any of the following, it is advised that you do not take Ginseng:

  • Pregnancy
  • Breast feeding
  • Anxiety (because it is a stimulant, it may over excite the existing condition)
  • Insomnia (because it is a stimulant)
  • Those on anticoagulant medications
  • Diabetics should also be very careful with its use, below link for more info https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781779/

Ginseng has been very popular in Korean skin care products for years because of its topical effects on the epidermis! We is the US are always a bit behind, but it is gaining popularity here as well, including several products in the Affordable Spa Services signature line we use and carry in office.

Some positive effects Ginseng has on the skin are:

  • Prevents visible signs of ageing  (because it is a super antioxidant that fights free radical damage)
  • Helps prevent environmental damage (like sun or environmental toxins)- because of its antioxidant properties
  • Superb moisturizer (because of its ability to hold on to water molecules)
  • Plumps the skin (because it Increases collagen and Elastin production)
  • Reduces redness and Inflammation- making it a must have for hyper sensitive skin, like me! If you turn red just washing your face you may have hyper sensitive skin. (Ginseng is a natural anti-inflammatory)
  • Reduces puffiness (because of its stimulating and anti- inflammatory effects)
  • Reduce dark circles and dullness (because of its stimulating properties)
  • Increases circulation to the skin

Products in our line that contain this powerful ingredient:

Shoot me an email if you would like to discuss if our products are right for you affordable2012@gmail.com

Namaste,

Brandi

Break up with chronic inflammation like the bad habit it is!

Being in the spa & wellness industry for the past 17 years I know a lot about chronic inflammatory conditions and people who suffer with them. Some people are in pain from a car accident, some from work related repetitive motion, some from auto immune conditions, and others just burning the candle at both ends for too long and becoming burnt out. No matter what caused your suffering, it’s up to you to take the steps to start feeling better, becoming unstuck if you will in the cycle of inflammation. In today’s blog I will talk about effective and affordable ways to do that.

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Maybe you’re not sick, maybe you’re thirsty! If you have ever been a client of mine you are likely already familiar with the sponge analogy, you have probably already heard it more times than you can count. If I have not had the pleasure of connecting with you yet, I’ll tell you all about it here. Your body is supposed to be 65% water, and I mean actual water, keep in mind coffee, sodas, etc. do not count (the diuretic effects of sweet, caffeinated beverages cancel out the hydrating effects). If your muscles hurt, they may be simply dehydrated. Water is free or cheap, so drink up. If you were washing your dishes and attempted to use a dry sponge it would not be very pliable, and may even break or tear, however when the sponge is wet it moves easily and freely, (sort of how your muscles should move, when they are hydrated). Should you really be walking around with dry muscles?
  • Have you ever heard the term, “starve a cold”? Let’s say starve the inflammation! Stop feeding the inflammation and start feeling better. Cut inflammatory food from your diet. Inflammatory foods can be different for different people, however foods that tend to generally cause inflammation are:

A. Grains- grains are hard for human intestines to digest, think about it this way if we were supposed to eat them, couldn’t we just go pick a piece of wheat, rice, or oat and eat it without it going through a ton of processing? Grains weren’t designed for humans to eat. You can go pick a cucumber from the garden and eat it without any process, although you should rinse it off first.

B. Dairy- Cow’s milk is for baby calves. Humans aren’t supposed to be eating that stuff, we are not infant cows. You do not drink breast milk past infancy. The enzymes in cow’s milk are very large, making them hard for humans to digest because we are not baby cows. Our bodies attempting to break down and digest these enzymes is very inflammatory for the body.

C. Sugar- Avoid white sugar and instead add a little raw honey if you need a little sweet in your day.

D. Certain Fats and Oils- Avoid vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, and margarine instead use Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, or Coconut oil.

E. Stay away from processed meats, instead look for organic, grass fed, and free range. High quality meats will provide you the protein your body needs without the added hormones, steroids, and antibiotics that your body doesn’t need that are typically still present in regular store-bought meats. I am a huge fan of Butcher Box personally.

F.Overall, I have personally found the most success for myself and my clients with a strict Paleo or Whole 30 diet. You can goggle either of those for meal plan ideas and/ or allowed food lists.

  • Yoga. I suggest #yogaeverydamnday but also realize that may not be possible for everyone. Muscle and joint movement and regular stretching is essential for free range of motion. If your muscles are not tight, they will hurt less, or not at all. Robin Rison Ashworth, E-RYT and Owner of Synergy Yoga Studio says ” Arthritis is frequently a source of chronic inflammation and related stiffness and pain. Yoga is decidedly appropriate in bringing mobility back. I have students who absolutely insist that yoga has enabled them to continue to live independently, and function with strength and improved agility, despite having arthritis. But benefits under these circumstances warrant a regular practice (benefits are usually cumulative), and a slow-paced, deep-stretch focus, as opposed to a vigorous vinyasa flow. Chronic pain that emanates from injury or chronic irritation (think tendinitis in wrists or knees) is best served by rest and refraining from overuse until the inflammation subsides. Another yogic approach to chronic inflammation is Ayurveda, which emphasizes appropriate nutrition and the right combination of foods, herbs, spices, and essential oils to rid the body of ‘ama’ or disease. Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga, and these practices are ideally observed simultaneously. Ideally, a yoga practice-an established, routine practice-functions to prevent injury and pain. Any physical practice, any exercise, yoga included, can be overdone. Best not to incur problems as a result of the very thing meant to prevent them. “
  • Regular Massage. Receiving regular massage therapy care from a licensed and Insured Massage Therapist can help reduce or eliminate your aches and pains when performed in conjunction with an overall healthy lifestyle. It is important to continue receiving regular care even once you start to feel better for maintenance of your sacred vessel. Talk to your massage therapist to determine which type of massage is best for you and to determine how often you should schedule to receive treatments.
  • Supplements. Keep in mind even if you are very restricted in your diet and taking excellent care of yourself, taking supplements may be indicated for you. Most of these are easily found at your local vitamin or herb shop. My favorites are listed below.

A. A good whole food multivitamin recommended for your age range.

B. Fish Oil- has been shown to fight inflammation, prevent heart disease, increase brain function

C. Yucca- has been shown to prevent osteoarthritis, reduce high blood pressure, reduce migraine headaches, reduce inflammation, and increase circulation.

D. Turmeric/ Curcumin- is an excellent anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant.

E. Devil’s Claw Root- has been reported to be effective at treating a wide variety of pain including migraines, back pain, gout, tooth aches and more.

  • Topicals. There are many excellent topical pain relievers on the market these days. I really like capsicum and CBD topicals. They work instantly and quality products will usually work most of the day and usually only need to be applied once or twice daily.

A. Capsicum comes from hot peppers, so has an instant or gradually warming sensation, and penetrates deeply to relieve pain and reduce inflammation when applied to a painful area. Capsicum topicals are usually very affordable as well, since they are easily sourced and have been around for ages.

B. CBD topicals are incredibly popular right now, and everywhere you look you can find testimonies to their efficacy. They are however usually at a higher price point due to the current demand and the higher overhead involved with sourcing, extracting and labor.

In summary it’s hard work to live your best healthy life, but easier and cheaper than taking pills every day in my opinion. What do you think? Are you ready to make the appropriate lifestyle changes to be well?

Spa Treatments with CBD for Pain Relief and more.

So I recently wrote about using CBD oil to manage my MS symptoms. Since I started adding CBD to my daily regimen, I experience less brain fog during the day, less anxiety, and almost no debilitating fatigue. However, there hasn’t been any improvement in my chronic pain or spasticity. I initially wanted to try a topical CBD product to alleviate these symptoms. However, Brandi Bovell of Affordable Spa Services had a better idea: try spa treatments with CBD products!

I like spa treatments! And I like CBD products! This makes sense! I will make time for this self-care!

Let’s Recap: What is CBD?

CBD (Cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive component of industrial hemp. (Translation: CBD does not get you high.) It affects the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating a variety of physiological and cognitive processes, including but not limited to pain-sensation, mood, and memory. CBD products have been shown to soothe anxiety, stress, pain, and insomnia. The ingredient has soared in popularity over the past few years, and it can now be found in a number of products, pain creams, moisturizers, gummies, teas, beer, ice cream, massage oils, and dog treats, just to name a few.

My initial experience with CBD products was good – so much so, that I continue to take CBD oil to this day. I have more focus and energy, and less anxiety. I consider it a tool to help me deal with my very, very stressful life. However, it has not helped me with my chronic pain – which is mainly due to my MS, but I can’t help but think that being a 42-year-old woman who is stressed and busy and spends a lot of time in front of a computer is contributing at least  partially to my pain issues. In other words, it’s very easy to blame everything on a chronic condition, but it may not be completely fair.

When Brandi offered me the opportunity to have a CBD-infused spa day, I was all in. We’ll call this my CBD Spapertunity! 

Spa Treatments with CBD: Mineral Bath

This is the bathroom at Affordable Spa Services (Richmond, VA) where I relaxed in my CBD-infused mineral bath.

I arrived at my appointment and was taken to a room with a super-cute clawfoot tub filled with water and soaking salts. Affordable Spa Services uses the Empower® brand of soaking salts, described as, “a luxurious brand of Epsom, Dead Sea, and Pink Himalayan salts, carefully infused with a proprietary essential oil formula and third-party, lab-tested, domestically-cultivated, 2014 Farm Bill Compliant hemp-derived Cannabidiol (CBD).”

That ticks all the important boxes. As you know, quality is extremely important to me.

So, I stepped into the super-cute clawfoot tub. I will spare you the bathtub pics.

Let me just say:

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I felt relief! After a few minutes, my pain had subsided – from where I typically am on the 1-10 scale (a 5-6) to a 2-3.

I soaked and soaked. It was wonderful. My only wish was that I could soak the side of my face more , since my MS causes trigeminal neuralgia, and the water level didn’t quite reach as far as my face. They call it there “hydroponic” treatment. TEE-HEE!

My time in the tub was up. On to the next part of my CBD Spapertunity!

Spa Treatments with CBD: The Massage

Now I have had massages before. Every massage therapist has his or her own technique. And as a general rule, I don’t like massages. I find that they are not effective, or cause me pain and discomfort. I usually walk out of the massage therapist’s office feeling as if I have wasted my money. And there is always the caveat that you have to keep going back to see a real difference. Well, why would I go back if I didn’t receive any benefit or enjoy it the first time?

This was not the case with my CBD-infused massage.

Massage room at Affordable Spa Services

My massage therapist was an imposing figure who towers over me (as many people do) and has enough muscles in her arms and hands that she could potentially break me in half. But attached to those arms and hands are fingers of MAGIC. Over the course of the massage, her magic fingers worked knots out of several areas, including my back, shoulder, and neck.

So What Makes it a CBD-Infused Massage?

The experience was enhanced with the use of CBD-infused massage oil by a company called apothecanna, based out of Denver. CO. Their mission is simple: to spread the wisdom of traditional plant medicine. (OK, I’m on board with that). According to their website, they, “thoughtfully source organic and wildcrafted essential oils from their native regions of the world… do not use artificial ingredients, fillers, parabens or GMO ingredients.”  The company does not test their products on animals, and strive to create products with uncompromised purity, quality, and functionality.

The massage lotion contained a combination of arnica, peppermint, juniper, and cannabis (CBD). Each ingredient is designed to provide a specific therapeutic element:

  • Arnica: heals bruising and relieves sprains
  • Peppermint: relieves pain and soothes skin
  • Juniper: reduces swelling and soothes nerves
  • Cannabis (CBD): anti-inflammatory and relieves stress

It may have been the relaxing mineral bath that I took before the massage. It may have been Ms. Magic Fingers who was working away my knots. Or it may have been the pain-relieving CBD cream. Maybe it was a combination of all three. But I can say that this one of the best (read: therapeutic and effective) massages I have ever received.

Spa Treatments with CBD: Skin Care

Oh, but we can’t forget about this face, can we?

Dr. Jess Norris sitting in the lobby of Affordable Spa Services, Richmond VA

I know what you are thinking: Why mess with perfect?

Truth be told, some of the medicines that I have taken over the past few years have really done a number on my skin. Cystic acne, dehydration, and hyperpigmentation have all been my nemesis since my MS diagnosis and subsequent change to my prescription medicine regimen. Alas, any skin care treatment that I have received in a spa has made things worse.  And there is always the caveat that you have to keep going back to see a real difference. Again. if I come out of the facial looking worse than when I went in, why would I come back?

And so I prepare for my skin treatment with Amanda Roberto, an aesthetician with Affordable Spa Services. Amanda knows her stuff. Also she has met Sylvester Stallone. Neat. She explained each step in the process, including the cleanse, exfoliation, serum application, and hydration. This process included applications of two CBD-infused products, including the same extra-strength lotion used during my massage (which was wonderful for my trigeminal neuralgia), and a CBD-infused facial serum.

Seriously, my skin glowed after this facial. And with the added benefit of the CBD-infused products, my face actually felt some temporary pain relief.

Spa Treatments with CBD: the Bottom Line

CBD-infused spa treatments are rapidly becoming more popular, and for good reason. Throughout my spa treatments, I experienced relaxation and pain relief. There is no doubt that I will continue to add CBD-infused products to my self-care regimen – at home and at the spa!

It’s important to remember that, when it comes to CBD products, quality counts. And unfortunately, CBD is being produced without any regulation, resulting in products that vary widely in quality. Brandi and her team of professionals have carefully vetted the CBD-infused products used at Affordable Spa Services. It is clear to me that customer safety and product quality are among their top priorities – and this is KEY when choosing any aesthetician or  massage therapist. When it comes to self-care, be sure to set your standards high.

Let me know.

Innovative treatment for acne, wrinkles, pain relief and more.

LED light therapy treatment

How I personally got rid of my acne.

I was that teen that always got picked on, “pizza face”, “zit face”, or “you can fry a French fry with all the grease on your face” became part of my daily life. Kids at school picked on me, coworkers berated me (I started working bagging groceries when I was 14), even my own mother tormented me daily (I think she thought if she insulted me enough I could somehow control my own hormones). I tried all the cleansers, scrubs, masks available, heck I worked in a grocery store, I hit the personal care aisle weekly trying product after product. Spent the little money I earned bagging groceries to visit skin therapy clinics and see professionals, nothing worked. I finally made it to my 20’s my skin started to look better, not 100% but not “make me cry with embarrassment and shame” face covering acne. Late 20’s my skin looked normal and even radiant, I thought I was in the clear. Then came my 30’s and a whole new round of crazy female hormones made their way into my life, and I was a teenager all over again, except adults are too politically correct or kind to call names, they would just stare, or say “have you tried this or that, it worked for me”, which of course I thought I had tried it all, Hello I own a day spa! I have access to the best products, the best specialists, and equipment, however suddenly what had been working no longer worked, ah ha moment! Your skin changes with the seasons, age, the environment, and stress and what has worked for the past 10 years, or the past 2 weeks may stop working today. I adjusted my products, and tried to adjust my stress level. I finally visited a dermatologist, which of course he listened to my concerns, told me my issues were hormonal and he could prescribe me a medication (spironolactone) to lower my testosterone, and thus clear the acne. I am a person who avoids medications unless I’m dying, I won’t even take a Tylenol if I get a headache, and instead I massage essential oils on my temples. I very gently explained my views to the doc, hopefully without sounding like a wack-a-doo. He smiled a beautiful ear to ear grin, and said “Well, we have this light mask that a product rep dropped off a while back to give away to an acne patient to try, and no one before wanted it because usually everyone just wants a prescription medication, you can have it to try if you would like”. A light mask? Well sure it doesn’t require me to ingest chemicals, I’ll give it a go! I accepted it, and started using it per the instruction manual for 10 minutes a day, every day and within 2 weeks my skin was transformed. I had my confidence back, along with gorgeous skin. I feel my skin looks better now, in my late 30’s then it ever has.  Because of my personal experience I decided to go back to school to earn my Master Aesthetics License so I could perform LED treatments on my clients and share this wonderful treatment with others.

So what is LED?

LED stands for light emitting diode and is essentially fast flashing lights that cause positive changes in the appearance of the skin. Another term for the use of light therapy to treat conditions of the skin is photo modulation. 

The benefits of LED technology were originally discovered by NASA while they experimented with ways to increase plant tissue growth in space, they also learned that LED’s have a similar physiological effect on human cells and tissues. Body tissues have the ability to absorb light and convert it into energy. LED’s can be used to deliver beneficial light energy to the skin. In further research NASA proved that particular wavelengths (different colors penetrate to varying depths) of LED light have positive effects on the body’s ability to regenerate and repair human tissue, as well as inducing different benefits for the skin and fascia.  This happens because LED therapy stimulates the release of ATP- (adenosine tri phosphate); an organic chemical that provides energy for many metabolic processes in living cells. Think of it as fuel for the cells: by increasing cell activity, cell repair is increased. The process is very similar to photosynthesis in plants, a reaction occurs which triggers the conversion of light energy into cell energy. More basically it harmonizes cellular activity.

“Different wavelengths of light (colors) have varying depth penetration, to stimulate different results in the skin” says Bedeha Hamze, Master Aesthetics Instructor at American Spirit Institute. By penetrating to varying depths the different colors are able to either make your skin do things that they no longer do well on their own, or can create an effect on the surface of the skin. They also increase the efficacy of serums by causing greater product penetration when used over a serum or treatment.  LED should not be mistaken for UV lights (like those in a tanning bed), or for lasers (like those used in hair removal, or for IPL- intense pulsed light (used in photo rejuvenation), as LED does not produce intense heat. Because it does not produce heat it does not cause damage to the dermis, nor does it hurt to use. Bedeha also stated “LED is an absolutely painless procedure that can be done alone or added to another facial treatment”. LED has been used to treat sun damage, redness, rosacea, visible telangiectasia, uneven skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles, acne, wounds, pains, and bruises to name a few. LED also stimulates fibroblasts (cells responsible for making extracellular matrix and collagen; which are critical for proper wound healing) to increase collagen, resulting in smoother texture, tone, and reduced appearance of fine lines.

Red light is typically used for increasing circulation, increasing moisture retention, stimulating cell turnover, reducing appearance of large pore size, fading photo damaged skin, reducing inflammation, speeding up the healing process, decreasing fine lines and wrinkles, and stimulating collagen production. Red light LED’s are also beneficial for temporarily relieving minor muscle and joint pain, reducing the severity of bruising, temporarily reducing arthritic pain and stiffness, and temporarily increasing local blood circulation.

Blue light is antibacterial making it best for the treatment of acne because it penetrates below the surface of the skin to kill bacteria deep within the epidermis before it reaches “a white head” or closed comedome. Basically it kills it before it happens, however it will also rid the skin of existing acne by sanitizing surface bacteria as well. It is one of the few acne treatments that works without causing irritation in the process. 

White light is often used to tighten, and reduce inflammation.

Yellow or Amber light can also be used to reduce swelling, redness, pigmentation, and to stimulate collagen and elastin.

Green light is most often utilized to decrease dark circles (I sure need that under my eyes), reduce hyperpigmentation, lessen the appearance of broken capillaries, break up discoloration such as sunspots, and calming angry skin.

Keep in mind, LED and other photo modulation techniques should not be used on folks with seizure disorders, unless permission is given by a medical doctor.

LED can be added to your facial treatment during your mask, or during serum application, or you can use a daily at home device. Because LED will take more than one session (usually a minimum of 6) to achieve desired results, an at home device that can be used daily may be a better fit for someone on a limited budget. For clients who are on a restricted budget, and want to treat more than 1 issue at the same time (IE: acne, wrinkles, and sunspots) a multi color LED at home device would be the most effective way to get the most bang for your buck. At Affordable Spa we accept HSA and FSA cards for our services and products to help you make your skins wellness a priority.

Is LED right for you? It is certainly worth discussing with your Licensed Aesthetician.

Aloe isn’t just for burns anymore!

Aloe Vera is my absolute favorite of all skin care ingredients. It’s an oldie but goody. Often overlooked as a reason to purchase a product and seen as antiquated, but it shouldn’t be, there is certainly justification for the ancient Egyptians regarding it as the “plant of eternity”. Aloe is beneficial for your whole self, inside and out, and can be drank, added to smoothies, rubbed on your skin, and even massaged into the hair and scalp. Best of all it is very reasonably priced, or even free as you may be staring at an aloe plant in the corner of the room you are in collecting dust right this minute.

Let’s start with the internal benefits, because being healthy on the inside is imperative for beautiful healthy skin on the outside. Aloe Vera Juice can be purchased at most grocery stores, or health food stores. Drinking aloe vera juice is an amazing post workout recovery beverage, because it is 99% water it is super hydrating (and without all the added sugars, artificial coloring, and other unnecessarily added ingredients found in many post workout drinks).  Your body should be 70% water at any given time, so you can imagine how important staying hydrated is. It addition to its high-water content aloe vera juice also contains probiotics (good bacteria your body needs), enzymes, and vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B6, and B12 (which is super rare in plants, usually B12 is found in animal proteins). If all the above listed reasons don’t already have you making the trek to go get you some, aloe also contains minerals needed by the human body, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper and manganese. Since B12 is so rarely found in plant sources, daily intake of aloe vera juice is an essential part of a balanced vegan or vegetarian diet. Manganese is an essential trace mineral that when deficient in the human body can cause disorders such as tinnitus, so if your ears have been ringing, you may want to give this old remedy a try and see if it helps you.  Aloe Vera is also high in amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, making it amazing for increasing muscle. In addition to building muscle by adding proteins it also helps eliminate the stuff we don’t want in our guts because it’s a gelatinous plant it absorbs and eliminates toxins and waste as it travels via the peristalsis movement in our intestines, making it a great choice for those looking to lose weight. It has also been shown to be beneficial for people diagnosed with celiac, crones, diverticulitis, or other GI disorders to help heal leaky gut, and rid the body of toxins while they adjust to dietary changes associated with these disorders. Aloe Vera is also naturally antibacterial, antiviral, antibiotic, antiseptic, antifungal, antimicrobial, and germicidal making it a wonderful addition to your immune boosting shelf (or entire cabinet in my case). Additionally, Aloe Vera is naturally alkaline, so when drank it makes the body less acidic, increasing natural immunity because disease cannot survive in an alkaline environment.

You may be asking at this point, what does any of this have to do with my skin? Well firstly healthy inside, healthy outside. Unhealthy diet shows up in your skin, and your sweat, we discussed above about how aloe helps to eliminate so I just want to reiterate here how important eliminating the junk from our intestines is to maintaining clean, clear, beautiful skin. Basically, if you aren’t eliminating it the right way, it starts coming out of your pores, like sometimes if you have been eating a poor diet and have noticed a difference in the way your sweat smelled during your workout. Secondly, because of the antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties we discussed earlier it’s great for killing bacteria on the skin and drying up acne. The antioxidants naturally occurring in aloe vera gel fight free radicals, decreasing the signs of aging. In addition, because aloe is so hydrating it makes a great skin moisturizer, without being overly greasy. It also reduces inflammation and creates a protective barrier when applied to the skin, which is why it is well known to heal and soothe burns.  It has also been shown to help eczema and psoriasis, when applied topically. The enzymes contained in aloe make it a great natural exfoliator when used topically (recipe for an amazing anti-aging, anti-acne DIY mask to follow). More and more people, myself included have started using an oil moisturizer at home on our faces. I personally like how much more breathable it feels on my skin then a creamy moisturizer (which feels highly occlusive to me, just my opinion). However, those of us using an oil moisturizer, or a cream and still not feeling hydrated must remember oil doesn’t moisturize, water does, so a water or aloe-based toner or serum is imperative under our moisturizer to truly achieve that youthful appearance and maintain healthy skin, since your moisturizer shouldn’t penetrate the epidermis, but a serum or water/ aloe based toner should. I also would suggest a soothing aloe & azulene mask every 4 to 6 weeks for someone still feeling dry or inflamed as this will hydrate and increase barrier function preventing external damage from the environment. I personally like to give myself an Acne LED treatment over my aloe (or any gel mask) so im getting a double whammy of benefits at one time, which i think is great for any busy mom with a limited amount of time for home care.

I also mentioned hair care in the first paragraph! We all want beautiful, shiny, soft, healthy hair, right? Well aloe is you one stop shop! The natural enzymes found in aloe act as an exfoliator by digesting dead skin cells, so massaging it into the scalp, helps prevent dandruff by increasing cell turnover, and by removing the dead cells on top of the epidermis, it helps hair grow thicker and healthier by creating a clear path for the hair follicles. You can also make your own aloe vera hair mask by massaging into wet hair during your shower, cover with a shower cap leave on for 10 to 15 minutes then rinse out revealing shiny, resilient hair.   

A few tips for utilizing aloe vera at home:

  1. If drinking daily as a supplement, swish around your mouth for 30 seconds or so prior to swallowing because the good bacteria we talked about earlier in conjunction with its antibacterial, antiviral, and germicidal properties are great for preventing gum disease by killing bacteria, and germs and creating an alkaline environment. Bonus: this also helps prevent bad breath! Yay Aloe!
  2. If you are getting your aloe directly from the plant (like me), make “aloe cubes”! Once you have scraped the aloe gel from the inside of the leaves and ran through the food processor, place portioned into an ice cube tray, then once frozen, place 1 cube each into small freezer bags and keep frozen until ready to use. Keep in mind freshly sourced aloe wll go bad in less than 24 hours at room temperature because we haven’t added preservatives, like the gel you buy in stores. A frozen aloe cube feels like heaven on a burn, an inflamed acne pustule, or calming the skin after an exfoliating cleanse, I could go on but I think you get my point and probably already have an idea of how to use your aloe cube in your mind right now.
  3. When using on hair apply a thin layer as a leave in treatment or use it as a hair mask as I mentioned earlier.

DIY Aloe Enzyme Mask:

1 ½ inch cube of fresh pineapple

1 ½ inch cube of fresh papaya

2 Tbsp. aloe vera gel, or freshly scraped from inside a leaf

2 drops of apple cider vinegar

Run all ingredients through your food processor, apply to cleansed face, if it instantly burns or hurts remove it, otherwise leave on for 1 to 3 minutes (no longer than 3 minutes, this recipe is powerful), a slight tingle and itch is normal, but pain or burning is not. Remove with cool, damp towels, apply your normal serum, moisturizer and sunscreen.  

I hope you enjoyed hearing about an amazing plant!