Tea tree essential oil is highly beneficial to keep in your oil arsenal. Its antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties make it a staple oil to have on hand. It is extremely beneficial to our skin, in wound care, and in our overall health. It makes a great addition to skincare products, cleaning sprays, and diffuser blends, as it kills many pollutants on our skin and in the air.
Effective Antibacterial Agent
Because tea tree has such powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can be helpful in treating eczema, itchy skin, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis. It is beneficial to the scalp as well, improving conditions like dandruff and dermatitis. It can also do wonders for our complexion, as it helps to alleviate acne and regulate oily skin, according to this study which found that when a sunscreen containing tea tree was used for 30 days, participants’ oily skin improved!
Tea tree has also proven to help helpful when caring for wounds, whether it be from a sunburn, bug bite, or a bad scrape or cut. It has shown to reduce the amount of time needed for a wound to heal, and it has shown to have antiseptic properties that help to keep wounds clean during the healing process. It has even shown to kill MRSA in lab settings, but more research is still needed to prove its efficacy.
Tea tree can also be used as a natural deodorant and bug repellant! When we sweat, secretions from our sweat glands combine with the bacteria already present on our skin. Since tea tree is such a powerful antibacterial agent, it kills the bacteria, resulting in less body odor. It has also been shown to repel flies and mosquitoes. One study even found that it was more effective in repelling mosquitoes than DEET was! Others found it to be effective in treating scabies and killing head lice and eggs.
Since it is such an effective antibacterial agent, tea tree makes a wonderful addition to cleaning sprays and diffuser recipes as well! Just adding a few drops will help to kill bacteria on spray surfaces as well as purify the air.
Fights Viral Infections
Using tea tree essential oil to combat viral illnesses can be effective! If you suffer from recurring cold sores, you may have success in adding tea tree to your skincare products. This study shows that tea tree can have a direct antiviral effect on the herpes virus, but only before or during the process of the virus penetrating a cell’s membrane. Meaning, that when used as a preventative, you can easily have success in preventing an outbreak.
Research has also been conducted on how the oil interacts with the influenza virus. Interestingly enough, in a lab setting, it does have the ability to prevent the virus from entering a host cell. A virus usually acts by attaching itself to a healthy cell and then flooding it with its viral DNA. When tea tree was involved, the virus kept its structural integrity, but the oil kept the virus from flooding the healthy cell with its viral DNA. It did this by binding to a cell receptor responsible for “opening” the cell’s membrane, so that the virus couldn’t bind to it itself. It was also suggested in a separate study, that tea tree was highly effective at inhibiting virus replication if it was implemented early on in the exposure (in vitro studies suggest within the first two hours after infection).
Since it displays such powerful antiviral properties, successes have also been found when diluting the oil and applying it a few times daily to warts.
Potential Treatment for Fungal Infections
Tea tree essential oil has strong antifungal properties. Because of this, more and more trials are being conducted to prove its efficacy in treating fungal infections like candida, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and ringworm.
One in vitro study found that tea tree oil was effective in killing candida in patients that used dentures while also alleviating the sores that may arise from candida. The study theorized that tea tree oil could potentially be used as a coating on dentures to reduce the effects of this fungal infection, but in vivo studies are still needed.
Another study tested the effects of using tea tree oil to treat vaginal candida. Vaginal suppositories containing tea tree showed fungicidal activity against all strains of candida, but it is important to note that in vivo studies are still needed to determine the efficacy of using tea tree oil to treat vaginal candida.
So, whether you are using tea tree in your diffuser blends or cleaning up a nasty scrape, it is one of the best oils you can have on hand.
Sweet, sweet summertime. Oh, how I adore you! One of our favorite oils to use this time of year is lemon. It has such a happy, revitalizing scent, which makes it a staple in our diffusers on these warm days! Lemon essential oil has a hefty list of uses and benefits since it is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. So, now you see why it is a fan-favorite and very handy to have around! This truly is a full-body-benefiting oil. It can affect everything from your mood to your fat cells and organs. Not to mention all of the benefits it provides when you use it in cleaning sprays and skin products. Let’s get a little more specific...
Supports Cognitive Health
Lemon can have a huge impact on your mood! It boosts creativity and regulates serotonin and dopamine activity, according to mice studies, and, according to a student study, it enhances attention levels, concentration, cognitive performance, mood, and memory during learning processes. Because of its antioxidant properties, it also provides protection for neurons by scavenging free radicals.
Benefits Respiratory System
Lemon is one of the best oils that you can use to treat allergy symptoms. It is anti-inflammatory and will help to kill airborne bacteria and potential allergens when diffused. It can lessen the immune response to allergens in the first place, making symptoms less severe. When inhaled or applied topically, it helps to encourage lymphatic drainage which can aid coughs, congestion, and mucus secretion.
Improves Gastrointestinal Health
Lemon can help with your digestive health by relieving bloating and constipation, as well as gastritis symptoms. Lemon can reduce the erosion that occurs in the lining of your stomach from stomach acid, therefore offering some relief from indigestion and nausea. If you suffer from morning sickness, inhaling lemon essential oil could benefit you as well! It has shown to decrease nausea symptoms by 33%! It can also aid with weight loss because it can cause an increase in the breakdown of fat cells when ingested or applied topically.
Supports Healthy Skin
It is important to note that lemon essential oil is photosensitive, and when applied topically, makes your skin sensitive toward sunlight as well! To be safe, wait about 12 hours before exposing your skin to sunlight if you have topically applied any lemon essential oil.
Lemon essential oil is very nourishing to the skin. It targets free radicals which are harmful to skin cells and can accelerate aging. It makes topical skincare with infused vitamins more effective by enhancing the release of vitamins E, A, B6, and C. It also can be applied topically as an insect repellent to keep mosquitoes and ants away.
As mentioned earlier, lemon essential oil encourages the drainage of the lymphatic system. This is highly beneficial as the lymphatic system is responsible for helping to remove waste and toxins from the body. In rat studies, the oil has shown to reduce oxidative stress and damage in the liver and kidneys.
While more research is still needed, there have been some interesting studies conducted about the efficacy of lemon essential oil on human tumors. It has shown to diminish prostate, lung, and breast tumors. It has also been found to induce the natural cell death of Leukemia cells.
So, whether you take advantage of its disinfecting properties by adding it to your cleaning products or diffuser, or you use it for its many health benefits, lemon is a perfect oil to keep as part of your basic oil tool chest. It is a simple and safe oil to use (when being mindful of its photosensitivity) and can be perfect to implement in your daily life. What are your favorite ways to use lemon essential oil? Let us know in the comments below!
When it is 97 degrees outside, and it is hard to escape the summer heat, we feel pretty inspired to write about the wonderful, refreshing, and cooling properties that make peppermint essential oil so appealing. Second only to lavender essential oil, peppermint is considered the most versatile and widely used essential oil that you can get! From pain relief to natural cleaners, peppermint can be used for a wide variety of things. Peppermint essential oil is primarily made up of menthol (a whopping 50-60 percent on average, as a matter of fact!), which is why it produces an immediate cooling effect when applied topically. It is primarily sourced in the Yakima Valley of Washington State, and it’s refreshing, grassy aroma makes it a favorite of oil users.
Peppermint Essential Oil is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, making it a wonderful addition to skincare oils and creams, natural cleaning recipes, diffuser blends, and so much more!
Peppermint essential oil can be very effective in decreasing inflammation, making it a great way to relieve pain naturally. It relaxes muscle aches and pains when applied topically or added to an epsom salt soak. It can also help to alleviate joint pain, and has been effective in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. If you suffer from migraines, peppermint may benefit you! In a study comparing the use of lidocaine and peppermint essential oil as treatments for migraines, peppermint oil “caused considerable reduction in the intensity and frequency of headache and relieved the majority of patients' pain similar to lidocaine.” Since this oil is effective at relaxing muscles, it can also work wonders for those who suffer from tension headaches. Just massage a few drops on the back of your neck and to your temples to feel relief. Peppermint also acts as an a decongestant, making it effective at alleviating sinus headaches. Dilute peppermint and massage your sinuses to get some relief.
While we are on the topic of using peppermint to alleviate sinus problems, we can also talk about how effective this oil is during bouts of respiratory illness or irritation (hello, allergy season!). As mentioned before, peppermint essential oil acts as a decongestant and can help to open airways. When you feel a stuffy nose coming on, diffusing this oil or even making a chest balm with peppermint and eucalyptus can be helpful. A facial massage using peppermint can also help to drain excess mucus and relieve some of that pressure.
Peppermint does wonders for our gut. From IBS to occasional indigestion, this oil can help! In a double blind study of 57 patients with IBS, 75% of those who were given peppermint reported decreased symptoms. Just massaging a few drops mixed in a carrier oil around your belly can help if you have any bloating or indigestion at all. It has also proven to be effective if you suffer from nausea, whether it is from indigestion, morning sickness, or motion sickness. Inhale the oil or apply it topically to your stomach to get some relief. As an added bonus, peppermint can help to diminish food cravings, which can possibly solve even more of those indigestion issues depending on what you are craving!
Since peppermint is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, it is amazing for our skin. It can help with acne by cooling irritated skin, and killing blemish-causing bacteria, it cools sunburns and takes away the stinging sensation, and it helps to fight dandruff and skin flare ups like eczema and skin rashes.
It is also especially helpful this time of year because it repels spiders, ants, and mosquitos. If you do still get a bug bite, it helps to cool the bite area, reduces itching, and accelerates healing time!
It is important to note that when using essential oils with infants or children, you need to dilute them! Both infants and children have more sensitive skin, making them prone to reactions, and they require far less of an oil to achieve the same effects.
If your sweet babe suffers from colic, diluting peppermint and massaging their tummy in a gentle, clockwise motion can offer some relief if the fussiness is being caused by excess gas or indigestion. It can also help if they are teething by relieving some of the pain. Dilute your peppermint and rub it along their jawline. Add clove or copaiba essential oil to make it even more effective! Peppermint can also be used on its own or with lavender as a fever reducer. Either dilute it and apply along the forehead and spine, or add drops to your hands, rub them together, and then use a cool, damp rag to wipe it up and brush the mixture across the forehead.
Energizing & Enhancing
Peppermint oil has shown time and time again to energize the mind and body and enhance mental clarity and focus when diffused or inhaled. In this study, it even showed to enhance physical exercise performance, grip strength, and it made the lungs work more efficiently!
Peppermint truly is one of the most versatile oils you can buy. It is safe for all ages (when diluted) and is wonderful to have on hand. What are your favorite ways to use peppermint essential oil? Let us know in the comments below!
Peppermint Oil (Mintoil) in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Prospective Double Blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Trial
Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance
It is that wonderful time of year again where all of the insects suddenly appear, and our glorious summer evenings have turned into a constant battle between enjoying the cool night air and not getting eaten alive. During this time, it is easy to pick up the cheapest bug repellants and spray away, thinking we are doing all we can to avoid the nasty bug bites that come with the changing of seasons. Unfortunately, we are opening up doors for toxic ingredients to be inhaled and absorbed into our bloodstream. While some ingredients are safe to use in moderation, others should be avoided completely.
So let’s dig in...
The most well-known bug spray ingredient and registered pesticide is DEET. It is one of the most effective, yet controversial ingredients found in a fair amount of bug repellents. It effectively repels many bugs and ticks, therefore reducing illnesses such as the Zika virus and Lyme disease. According to the EWG, when used as directed, DEET is considered safe by many public health organizations such as the CDC, AAP, WHO, and the EPA. Even with all of the information about the known toxicity of DEET, the EPA still concludes that normal use of the chemical is safe for the general population. It should be noted that it is known to irritate the eyes, and can, in very large doses, cause many issues such as neurological damage, skin blisters, seizures, memory loss, headaches, stiffness in the joints, and shortness of breath. The EWG also states concerns with children because they inevitably receive more DEET due to a greater surface area to body weight ratio.
DEET is quickly absorbed through the skin, and when combined with sunscreens containing the chemical oxybenzone, it is absorbed even faster. It also has the ability to cross the placenta, and in animal studies, it remained in offspring up to three months old after maternal exposure.
An important note to make with DEET is that while there are products out there that have up to 100 percent DEET, increasing the concentration does not increase efficacy! Because of all of the known effects of DEET, it is also recommended to wear long sleeves and pants, and spray your clothing rather than your skin. The Canadian government recommends limiting DEET to 30 percent in products that you use, and using an even smaller concentration for children. Their recommendations go as follows:
“The right concentration of DEET for:
For infants younger than 6 months old, do not use an insect repellent containing DEET. Instead, use a mosquito net when babies are outdoors in a crib or stroller.
Pyrethroids are a common name for a group of bug repellent chemicals. This group contains over 1,000 insecticides including:
Permethrin is a synthetic version of pyrethrum. It is labeled as non-toxic by the EPA, but still poses risks. It can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through our skin, and it can cause eye, skin, nose, and throat irritation as well as breathing problems. It is a suspected carcinogen, hormone disruptor, neurotoxicant, and reproductive toxicant. One study conducted at Duke University showed that when exposed to both DEET and permethrin, side effects such as motor deficits and memory dysfunction can occur.
Cyfluthrin is a synthetic insecticide that closely resembles DDT and is moderately toxic when inhaled. Breathing in this chemical can cause headaches, nausea, and vomiting. It accumulates in fatty tissues and, therefore, affects the central nervous system. It is highly toxic when consumed (which is why it is so important to assess what we put on our children as they are more likely to put their hands in their mouth). Because cyfluthrin affects the central nervous system so much, it has been known to cause jerky movements, incoordination, muscle trembles, and convulsions. In a study conducted with rats, it caused nerve degeneration and it broke down muscle tissue. To make matters worse, being exposed to any kind of pyrethroid increases the risk of skin paresthesia. This tingling or burning sensation on the skin’s surface is made worse by heat, sun, or perspiration. This is cause for concern of course since bug sprays are used in the summertime, when you spend more time in the sun, are prone to getting hot, and sweat more.
So how can we safely repel insects?
There are many ways to naturally prevent bug bites. The most notable include:
Many essential oils deter insects, however the most notable is Lemon Eucalyptus. It is effective in that it contains para-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) which makes it more difficult for insects to detect your scent. It should be noted that lemon eucalyptus should NOT be used by children under the age of 3 as it poses a risk of skin irritation. You can safely make your own essential oil blend by using a combination of any of these oils diluted with a carrier oil:
IR3535 is a synthetic ingredient that has been used for about 30 years in Europe as a safe bug repellent ingredient. It can be very irritating to the eyes, but works well and is safe to use. It works similarly to lemon eucalyptus in that it messes with an insect's sense of smell. It is just about as effective as DEET at repelling mosquitos, and is an excellent choice to repel ticks, offering twice the protection time as DEET. It has been recommended for use by pregnant women and young children (although it is still recommended to avoid putting on children’s hands, as its toxicity is unknown when ingested).
Chemicals of Concern in Bug Repellent
ATSDR - Toxicological Profile: DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide)a
Insect repellents - Canada.ca
Poisoning Due to Pyrethroids - PubMed
IR3535 Repellent FAQ | Safety, Effectiveness, Side Effects
Repellent Chemicals | EWG's 2018 Guide to Bug Repellents
Rosemary essential oil is a perfect oil to have on hand, whether you are an essential oil connoisseur, or if you are just beginning to experiment with essential oils. It has many potential benefits, and its woodsy, grounding aroma is a perfect addition for many diffuser blends. It is easily used both topically and aromatically, and can aid in a variety of ailments ranging from circulation issues to memory function.
The oil comes from the small shrub that originated in the Mediterranean. The ancient Egyptians used the oil as a symbol of remembrance and often included it in the coffins of loved ones. In ancient Greece, rosemary was burned as an offering to the gods as it was seen as a sacred herb. They also used the herb to encourage recollection and clear thinking.
Aura Cacia prides themselves with the purity and quality of their essential oils. Their rosemary essential oil is typically wild-harvested in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Each section can be harvested only once every three years, and the oil is sustainably distilled in the spring.
Improves Memory and Brain Function
Research shows that by using rosemary aromatically, the breakdown of acetylcholine can be prevented. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter important for amplifying or inhibiting signals exchanged by nerve cells, and is vital for thinking, concentration, and memory. In one study, twenty individuals were asked math questions while inhaling rosemary essential oil. Their recollection increased proportionally to the duration the oil was diffused. In a similar study, nursing students were able to remember more information while testing compared to those who breathed lavender or no oil at all.
Helps Relieve Respiratory Ailments
Rosemary essential oil contains the compound cineole which can help to break up mucus and reduce inflammation
Stimulates Hair Growth
This essential oil can be used to strengthen hair follicles by encouraging circulation in the scalp. By encouraging blood supply to your hair follicles, you can prevent your hair follicles from dying off. It also contributes to overall scalp health, alleviating dandruff and itchy scalp.
When applied topically, rosemary essential oil can be a great pain reliever. In an animal study, the oil was slightly more effective than acetaminophen for reducing pain symptoms.
Rosemary can help repel mosquitos. When it was compared to eleven other essential oils, it repelled mosquitos the longest. It is also effective in controlling the spread of ticks.
Inhaling rosemary may reduce levels of cortisol. Having increased cortisol levels can suppress the immune system, cause insomnia, and contribute to mood swings.
Rosemary essential oil expands blood vessels, therefore increasing circulation.
Reduces Joint Inflammation
Applying rosemary essential oil topically can help to lower inflammation in injuries as well as the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is hypothesized that rosemary helps to encourage white blood cells to move to injured tissues to release inflammatory chemicals.
Aids in Digestion
By diluting rosemary oil and applying topically on your belly, you can alleviate symptoms of indigestion such as gas, bloating, nausea, and constipation.
Our Favorite Recipes:
Rosemary Hair and Scalp Massage Oil
1. In a bottle, combine all ingredients.
2. Replace lid and shake gently until well blended.
3. To use, apply about 1 teaspoon blend to the scalp and use fingertips to massage. Shampoo and condition as normal.
Rosemary Massage Oil
1. In a bottle, combine all ingredients.
2. Replace lid and shake gently until contents are well blended.
3. To use, apply 1 to 2 teaspoons to the targeted area and massage.
Artichoke leaf extract is derived from artichokes. This plant has been used for hundreds of years due to its medicinal properties. It has been linked to lower blood sugar levels as well as improved intestinal, heart, and liver health. In ancient Rome, it was used as a diuretic and digestive herb, as well as being used to stimulate an appetite.
Artichoke extract is packed full of vitamins and minerals. It offers vitamins C, K, and B6, as well as important minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper, zinc, and manganese. Consuming this herbal supplement also offers the benefits of caffeoylquinic acid, cynarin, inulin, and luteolin.
Caffeoylquinic acid is an antioxidant that bonds with toxic compounds and lowers their toxicity
Cynarin is an antioxidant that stimulates bile production. This helps your gut absorb vitamins and digest fats from food.
Inulin is a prebiotic (benefits you by increasing the amount of beneficial microorganisms in your gut).
Luteolin is an antioxidant that can prevent inflammation and cancer.
Because of the components of artichoke leaf extract, it is very beneficial for your gut! While it doesn’t prove to be helpful in completely relieving the pain associated with indigestion, it has proven to be effective in improving the symptoms and quality of life. A study in which 247 people suffering from indigestion consumed this extract daily for six weeks showed that symptoms including flatulence and uncomfortable feeling of fullness were reduced. Artichoke leaf may also relieve bloating, nausea, and heartburn. Due to its concentration of cynarin, it is also effective in accelerating gut movements, fat digestion, and vitamin absorption. Because of the amount of inulin in the herbal extract, it is effective in balancing your gut flora. This just means that it promotes the growth of healthy bacteria while also inhibiting the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. Those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) should also know that artichoke leaf can offer effective relief from symptoms! One study concluded that 96% of participants rated the extract equally as effective, if not more effective, than other IBS treatments at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.
Can Improve Heart Health by lowering Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Artichoke Leaf may reduce the total “bad” LDL cholesterol while also increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. It affects cholesterol in two different ways. First, luteolin is found in artichokes. It is an antioxidant responsible for preventing cholesterol formation in the first place. Next, the extract leads to lower overall levels of cholesterol due to the fact that it encourages your body to process cholesterol more efficiently!
High cholesterol levels can cause plaque formation in the arteries, which contributes to heart diseases. Remember cynarin? It is the antioxidant responsible for stimulating the production of bile. The body’s main method of eliminating cholesterol is through the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids. In a study focusing on this fact, hamsters showed an increase in bile acid when given artichoke leaf, which could be a contributing factor in lowering their cholesterol levels. The antioxidant effects of the herb may also lower the amount of plaque in arteries by inhibiting LDL oxidation.
High blood pressure also contributes to heart disease. Artichoke leaf extract can increase the levels of an enzyme that produces nitric oxide which is responsible for widening blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.
Because cynarin stimulates bile production, artichoke leaf extract can protect the liver by increasing bile production. This helps to remove dangerous toxins from the liver. Artichoke leaf extract reduced liver fat levels and liver damage in a clinical trial of 90 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver damage. In a separate trial conducted with 30 people, it reduced liver damage due to high blood cholesterol levels. There was also a study in which rats showed lowered DNA damage, more antioxidant enzymes, and higher glutathione levels (a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals).
Artichoke leaf extract also slows fungal activity. The extract actively inhibits eight different types of fungi, including those that cause thrush! In a different study, the extract proved to be helpful in fighting bacteria, including those that can cause food poisoning and diarrhea.
Artichoke Leaf Extract is a wonderful herb to have on hand if you ever suffer from any of these issues. As versatile as it is, please remember that:
Any information given through this platform is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical care or medical advice. Please do not use this information to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should always speak with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement.
OH, Sunscreen. The summer item deemed essential by every governing health official under the sun. It is an item we quickly grab off the shelf after skimming which one has the highest SPF coverage. We pat ourselves on the back if it has some kind of “natural” component added to the title. Then we slather it onto our skin and our children’s skin and rush out to play in community pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans.
The sad truth is that many drugstore sunscreens contain harmful ingredients. These ingredients are not only hazardous for our health, but they also harm marine health as well. I don’t know about you, but I would love for my children and grandchildren and GREAT grandchildren to live in a world with abundant marine life.
Conventional sunscreens contain toxic chemicals including:
Whew. Hefty list, right? Let’s break this down a little bit.
Oxybenzone forms colorless, soluble crystals and is used as an ingredient in sunscreen as well as other cosmetics because it absorbs UV-A ultraviolet rays. Sounds helpful, doesn’t it? What manufacturers don’t tell you is that oxybenzone is also known to exacerbate skin issues and can cause skin allergies. The EWG states that oxybenzone is clearly a photo allergen, meaning that it can cause your immune system to attack sun exposed areas. On top of that, studies done on both animal and human cells show that this ingredient can be a hormone disruptor. While this ingredient is potentially dangerous to us, it is also suggested that it may be hazardous to coral reefs. So much so, that Hawaii has actually banned the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone beginning in 2021.
Avobenzone is used in conventional sunscreens to absorb the full spectrum of UVA rays, and on it’s own, it really isn’t that harmful. The problem is that it also isn’t really effective on its own, as it breaks down when it is exposed to sunlight and only offers about 30 minutes of protection. That is, of course, unless it is paired with a not-so-safe chemical (like octocrylene) to make it work for a longer period of time. Think of Avobenzone as a “gateway” chemical if you will. The use of it leads to more chemicals that cause more harm than good.
While we are on the topic of avobenzone, let’s chat about octocrylene! Octocrylene is a known endocrine disruptor that helps to stabilize avobenzone. It also releases free radicals. According to this study, more free radicals were present when using octocrylene than skin exposed to the sun with no sunscreen at all. It is also important to note that free radicals can damage skin cells and increase the risk for cancer and other health issues.
Homosalate is used in 45% of U.S. sunscreens as a chemical UV filter, absorbing UVB rays specifically. It is a concerning ingredient because it is known to disrupt the estrogen system in particular. In human breast cancer cells, exposure to this chemical multiplied cell growth 3.5 times. Homosalate also affects the androgen and progesterone systems. It is absorbed by the outer layer of the skin, and is easily transmitted during gestation and infancy due to the mother’s exposure to the chemical. According to one study, 85.2% of breastmilk samples from 54 women contained UV filters. Homosalate also increases the amount of pesticides we absorb through our skin, which is concerning considering sunscreen and bug spray tend to go hand-in-hand this time of year.
We have heard over and over again that parabens are bad for us. They are what manufacturers use in their products to preserve them and fight against bacteria. Parabens are harmful in that they have the ability to mimic estrogen. These potential hormone disruptors have been found to weakly bind to estrogen receptors. In addition to this, parabens can block androgens (like testosterone) and inhibit the enzymes that metabolize estrogen. Applying products containing parabens (especially methylparaben) can lead to UV-induced damage of skin cells and the disruption of the rate at which cells grow. Methylparaben in particular can accumulate with daily application because it cannot be completely metabolized. Some parabens can also be harmful for men, as studies have found that the chemical can reduce sperm production as well as lead to reduced testosterone levels.
Cyclopentasiloxane is a silicone that is regularly used in cosmetic products. It gives that silky, slippery feeling when applied to the skin and hair which allows the product to spread more easily. This ingredient is cheaper compared to similar chemicals, which is why it is favored by manufacturers regardless of its safety for humans or the environment. Great, right? While there is minimal risk for human use (it may be a hormone disruptor in higher concentrations, and most products contain lower concentrations of this chemical), it does wash off very easily, causing it to accumulate in some aquatic animals.
Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical that is actually recommended by the FDA to not be used in the home as it can encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. It has also been used as a pesticide since 1969. Even low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. It is also linked to liver toxicity. While it is not cancerous per se, recent studies have shown it to promote the growth of a tumor in the presence of a carcinogen in mice. According to the EWG, wastewater treatment doesn’t even remove all of this chemical, meaning it ends up in our water sources and accumulates in fatty tissues of our aquatic life.
Formaldehyde is used to preserve bodies in funeral homes, so it makes sense that it is also present in sunscreens (and other cosmetics as well), right? According to safecosmetics.org, “Formaldehyde is considered a known human carcinogen by many expert and government bodies, including the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.” A study conducted in 2014 found that this chemical initiates and promotes tumor formation. The use of formaldehyde in cosmetics has been correlated with allergic skin reactions and rashes. So much so, that in 2015, it was actually qualified as the American Contact Dermatitis Society Contact Allergen of the Year! A sensitivity to this ingredient can develop over time after repeated exposures. When reading labels, you have to look out for other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives such as quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin, as these are just as dangerous.
This chemical is an antimicrobial and a preservative used in both personal care items as well as cleaning products. While formaldehyde had to wait until 2015 to claim its title as Allergen of the Year, MIT claimed it in 2013. This chemical is known to cause skin sensitization. In high doses, rats were revealed after autopsy to have died from reddened lungs and swollen intestines due to the exposure.
Using any product with microbeads is harmful for the environment (and yourself!) While microbeads do exfoliate your skin, they actually do more harm than good. Instead of only removing the dead skin from your face, they actually create small tears in your skin, leaving it more susceptible to bacteria. These plastic beads are then washed down the drain and end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Once in the water, they can damage the health of marine life, hurt our environment, and create more health risks for humans. This is due to their composition, their ability to absorb toxins, and their potential to travel up the marine food chain.
According to the EWG and the European Commission of Endocrine Disruption, there is strong evidence that octinoxate is a human endocrine disruptor. They also state that it can significantly disrupt wildlife and the environment. This study shows that octinoxate produces damaging reactive oxygen species when exposed to sunlight. Which is ironic. Considering it is commonly used in sunscreens..
Unfortunately in the U.S. manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of synthetic chemicals by using the umbrella term, “fragrance”. They do not have to disclose those ingredients, meaning we have no idea what we are being exposed to on a daily basis. According to the EWG, more than 75% of products using the ingredient “fragrance” contain phthalates. Phthalates have shown to affect hormone activity, lower sperm counts, cause reproductive malformation, and have been linked to many different forms of cancer.
This form of Vitamin A, according to a study conducted in 2012, may speed up the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight. While taken internally, it can actually reduce the risk of certain skin cancers, the same is not true when used topically. Officials in Germany and Norway have cautioned that It can spur excess skin growth, and form free radicals that can damage skin cells.
4-MBC has strong evidence against it as being a human endocrine disruptor according to the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption. It delays male puberty and changes hormone receptor expression in the prostate of rats. It has also been found to persistently accumulate in wildlife, and it is suspected to accumulate in humans. In one study, 78.8% of women reported using products with UV filters, and 76.5% of breast milk samples contained these filters.
So why not be intentional about the things that go onto and into our bodies? Take the time to look for a sunscreen that takes our health and the health of our planet seriously. Your skin, your body, and the earth will thank you for choosing to be intentional about what chemicals you expose yourself and others to. Be mindful this summer. Cover up when you can, go out in shorter intervals, and choose a quality sunscreen! Enjoy yourselves, and, most importantly, enjoy the benefits of being outside!
With Covid19 running rampant through our community, we just want to reach out and encourage you by saying whatever you are going through will not last. Our jobs may be on the line or lost completely, our families may be struggling after being confined in our homes for weeks on end, and the stores may not have every single thing we think we need. BUT we want to encourage you that this is only temporary.
In Psalm 30:5 we read that “His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for a night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” How blessed are we to live in a time where what the Enemy meant for evil has brought up new job opportunities, has brought families closer together, and has taught us what we actually need to live healthy lives. Joy is coming. Breakthrough is coming! It is up to us to take our health into our own hands, and begin to understand what makes us so susceptible to illnesses.
Did you know that stress directly affects the immune system? When we are stressed, our body’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. The stress hormone corticosteroid suppresses our immune system by lowering the number of lymphocytes, which are needed to fend off illnesses. The way we cope with stress also greatly determines how our bodies will be able to defend itself.
Alcohol sales have skyrocketed since the beginning of the outbreak. Alcohol can damage the immune system cells responsible for clearing viral particles from the lungs, making you more susceptible to illnesses like Covid19. It also kills the good gut flora responsible for promoting overall health as well as reducing your risk of infection.
If we instead focus on how we can manage stress while supporting our immune system, Covid19 will not have such a strong grip on our community. Using essential oils to keep your stress levels at bay is simple and very effective! It can be as easy as placing calming oils directly onto your palms and inhaling their scent, or it can be as elaborate as creating blends, making relaxing bath salts, or scenting your own candles.
Using Essential Oils to Manage Stress
Energizing oil blends can help to alleviate stress symptoms by boosting your mood, inciting creativity, and improving metabolic functions. These oils include:
Using more grounding oils can have lasting benefits and can help to create a calm atmosphere amidst the chaos.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil can help to slow your heart rate and induce feelings of comfort, happiness, and peace.
Chamomile Essential Oil has antidepressant properties that help to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Clary Sage Essential Oil is known for its balancing, uplifting, and euphoric scent. It can be used to calm your nerves and relieve hypertension. This oil also has mild sedative properties to encourage a sense of calmness.
*Clary sage can stimulate contractions in pregnant women*
Patchouli Essential Oil has a rich, earthy smell that is known for its grounding, balancing, and calming effects. It can be used to reduce depression, relieve anxiety, and lessen stress symptoms. It also acts as a mild sedative.
Geranium Essential Oil can help to calm the mind and body. Its scent makes a wonderful perfume that also encourages positive emotions while serving as a natural sedative.
Sandalwood Essential Oil is well known for its centering and grounding effects. It encourages your body to remain in the restorative sleep phase longer. Getting quality sleep each night lessens your risk of stress-induced problems.
Bergamot Essential Oil can help to relieve depression, lower blood pressure, and can help with symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Lavender Essential Oil is well known for its calming and relaxing effects. It's ideal for adults and children and can be applied topically or diffused in the air.
Pine Essential Oil’s scent also encourages fortitude and strength. In times of over-work, stress, or disconnection from nature, pine’s aroma can be grounding and reconnect us to the natural world.
Rose Absolute Essential Oil has a rich and long-lasting scent that, when diffused, will create a stabilizing atmosphere during times of stress, anxiety and grief. It can help to relieve depression symptoms by triggering your brain to release those wonderful feel-good hormones!
Our favorite Recipes:
Lavender and Geranium Room Spray:
1. In a bottle, combine essential oils.
2. Top off with water, replace lid and shake until well blended.
3. To use, shake the bottle and mist the airspace.
Geranium Rose Bath Salts:
1. In a mixing bowl, toss together Himalayan pink salt and crush rose petals.
2. Sprinkle mixture with oils and mix until well blended and salt granules are well saturated with aroma.
3. Transfer to the wide mouth jar.
4. To use, dissolve 1 to 3 tablespoons in a warm bath.
Cedarwood Rose Roll-on Perfume:
1. In your roll-on bottle, measure essential oils, top off with jojoba oil, replace cap and shake until well blended.
2. To use, anoint pulse points with 2 to 3 swipes of perfume oil.
Roll-on Temple Massage with Clary Sage:
1. In a bottle, combine essential oils.
2. Top off with grapeseed oil, replace the lid and shake until well blended.
3. To use, shake the bottle and gently roll onto temples.
Sandalwood Lemon Essential Oil Diffusion
1. In diffuser, combine essential oils.
2. Operate the diffuser according to directions.
3. Refresh with additional oils whenever needed.
If you are just beginning your journey with essential oils, lavender is the perfect oil to start with! It is considered to be one of the safest oils for both children and adults. It is easily paired with other oils to create beautiful, floral scents as well as promoting mental clarity and relaxation. It is also effective in reducing skin irritations, reducing fevers, and it aids in a restful night's sleep.
Lavender essential oil is a natural muscle relaxer and painkiller. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting many organs, most notably, the kidneys and brain. It is calming and effectively induces restful sleep and relieves anxiety and depression symptoms.
Promotes Healthy Skin and Hair
Lavender essential oil is wonderful for the skin and hair. It is a nourishing oil that can help treat bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections, as well as rashes, cuts, burns, and aging skin. It is particularly effective in alleviating rashes that are caused by allergic reactions because it inhibits histamine release. Because of its antimicrobial properties, it can prevent common scalp issues like itchy scalp and dandruff, making your scalp and hair stronger and healthier! It fades scars and tightens skin, while also alleviating undereye circles.
Lavender has anti-inflammatory properties that make it an effective natural pain reliever. It relaxes muscles and relieves tension making it a highly effective headache remedy. In a migraine study, 71% of migraine patients reported having at least some symptom relief compared to 48% in the placebo group when the oil was inhaled. It has also proven to provide menstrual cramp relief and aid in relieving PMS symptoms.
Lavender essential oil has powerful antioxidant properties. It has neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress according to this rat study. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive agents that can cause large chain reactions in your body resulting in oxidation of cells. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals without causing harm to themselves. Lavender fights against oxidative stress because it significantly increases the antioxidant enzyme activity of the three most effective antioxidants, superoxide dismutase (SOD), Glutathione peroxidase-1 (GPX), and CAT.
Nervous System Support
Because it has such powerful antioxidant properties, lavender has proven to be effective in treating the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease, ischemic stroke injury, and seizures. Although more research is needed, it is a promising Alzheimer’s treatment because it fights oxidative stress so effectively, therefore protecting neurotransmitter activity and synaptic plasticity. It proved to protect neurons in this rat study, furthering the point that lavender has neuroprotective properties. Because of these properties, lavender has also proven to be effective in helping to treat ischemic stroke injuries and lessen the effects of seizures. Lavender extract exhibits anticonvulsant and antispasmodic activity primarily by blocking calcium channels. In a mice trial, it greatly reduced the severity of convulsions while also increasing the span of time between convulsions.
Natural Diabetes Remedy
Once again, because of lavender’s wonderful antioxidant properties, it protects against the increase of blood glucose levels while also increasing antioxidant enzyme activity. This helps to manage some of the symptoms of diabetes such as weight gain and hunger pangs. Also, because of this, lavender decreases lipoperoxidation (the oxidative degradation of lipids in cell membranes). This makes for an overall healthier liver and kidney in diabetes patients. While this one study does provide hope for a natural treatment option, more research is definitely needed.
Lavender is very versatile, making it hard to categorize each and every benefit it can provide! Some other uses include:
While, generally speaking, lavender essential oil is a safe essential oil, always dilute with a carrier oil and test skin for sensitivity. Discontinue use if skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, or headache occur after using lavender essential oil.
If pregnant, nursing, or taking any medications, consult a healthcare professional before use.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Nature knows how to take care of you. And when your body is craving vitamins, supplements, and health support from earth-true resources, you can count on Natural Foods & Supplements of Kearney to have the products and tools you need. Our broad selections of supplements, essential oils, and effective probiotics make it easy to fill your body with goodness. And our holistic offerings like Zaza Boo cosmetics and Himalayan Salt lamps support your wellness from the outside in. Plus, our caring staff is always here to help you find exactly what you're looking for among our variety of offerings. Give your body the tools for wellness and healing, and let nature do the rest.