Internal Use of Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter I post in the #AtoZChallenge. My series is about aromatherapy and essential oils. Today, I have a quick post for you on the safety (or lack thereof) of using essential oils internally. Are essential oils safe to ingest? The short answer: no!

Essential oils are highly concentrated. This means that, just because you can safely consume, say, orange juice, doesn’t mean orange essential oil is safe to ingest. It is not!

Aren’t essential oils used in food? Yes, they are. For example, candy canes may contain a tiny amount of peppermint essential oil. Candy canes and other industrially-manufactured foods that may contain essential oils, though, are produced in such large amounts that a drop of essential oil doesn’t nearly have the same effect as it would when you added it to your food.

Can you add essential oils to your drinking water, even just a drop? No, don’t! They really aren’t safe to ingest, not even a drop.

So why do certain companies, like Young Living and dōTERRA, advocate the internal use of essential oils? I honestly don’t know. It’s probably a way of making their essential oils sound better than other companies’. In reality though, I wouldn’t trust a company whose safety advice goes against that of major aromatherapy associations such as the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

Can you use essential oils in lip products or toothpaste? I’d say no. Again, some cosmetic product manufacturers will put essential oils into their products and some companies say that some of their oils are safe for lip products. However, if you aren’t well-educated on aromatherapy, I recommend you don’t take the risk. I personally don’t! Instead, I will always use food grade flavor oils.

The Most Important Milestone

This week’s prompt for Reena’s Exploration Challenge is “Milestones”.

I am a big calendar girl. As such, I always remember important dates. As a teen, I used to commemorate an important event in my life at least once a month. For example, September 24, 1999 was the day I realized I hated mainstream secondary school and I remembered it for several years afterwards. Similarly, on November 2, 2001, I was in crisis. Same on November 2, 2007 and I was sure the reason (or part of it) was the day (Friday) and date. I still to this day commemorate the day I landed in the psychiatric hospital, even though it’ll have been fourteen years this year.

I realize now that all of these are negative. Don’t I have positive anniversaries? Sure I do. September 19 is the day my husband and I first met (in 2007) and the day we got married (in 2011). On May 7, 2008, we started officially dating and on June 4, 2010, my husband proposed to me.

Then there is the day I was approved for long-term care funding, also June 4 but in 2019. Finally, the day I moved into the care facility, September 23. I only now realize that there were twenty years minus a day between the important event that defined my teens and the important event that I hope will define at least most of the rest of my life.

Okay, that makes me feel ashamed. After all, shouldn’t the most important milestone of my life be the day I met my husband or the day we got married? It probably should be, but right now, honestly, it isn’t. Sorry, hubby.

Hazardous Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter H post in the #AtoZChallenge on aromatherapy and essential oils. Today, I will talk about hazardous essential oils. I will also talk some about the risks of generally safe essential oils.

There are some oils you should definitely not use. These include bitter almond, boldo leaf, deertongue, sassafras and garlic. See a more complete list on AromaWeb.

However, you should not assume that an oil is safe just because it doesn’t appear on the list. For example, birch oil can make people very ill. Some people will use it for its phenomenal painkilling properties, but I wouldn’t recommend taking the risk. Birch oil used to appear on the AromaWeb list I linked above. So did wintergreen, which is now commonly used in diffuser blends.

In general, pregnant women should be cautious about using essential oils. While some oils are safe to use in pregnancy, the list of oils that can affect the unborn baby, is long.

Never apply essential oils on the skin undiluted by a carrier oil. Many essential oils, though, can be irritating to the skin even when diluted. These include citrus oils such as lemon and bergamot, peppermint oil, spicy essential oils such as cinnamon and clove, etc. AromaWeb has another list of skin irritant oils. Oils that are photosensitizing will cause the skin to be more sensitive to sunlight. Phototoxic oils are even worse, in that they can cause severe sunburn.

Even with generally skin-safe essential oils, it is recommended to do a patch test (applying the diluted essential oil to a small spot on the skin) before using an essential oil in baths or for general massage. After all, you may get irritated skin from or develop an allergic reaction to any oil.

Lastly, there are some other risks to using essential oils. For example, clary sage essential oil should not be used when you’ve consumed alcohol because of its sedative properties. Certain oils, such as ylang ylang, can cause a headache when inhaled over a prolonged time. Finally, oils such as fennel and hyssop may not be safe for people with seizure disorders.

In general, if you have any chronic medical conditions, you should be extra cautious when using essential oils. I’ve also heard that essential oils can interact with medications or natural remedies. I haven’t personally experienced such interactions as far as I know.

Geranium Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the letter G post in my #AtoZChallenge series on aromatherapy. For this letter, I will talk about geranium. This is one of my less favorite scents, but when blended appropriately, it can definitely be beneficial.

Geranium is originally not native to Europe or the Americas. It originates from Africa and was introduced to Europe in the seventeenth century. Currently, it is cultivated all over the world. Geranium essential oil is sometimes referred to as “the poor man’s rose oil”, because it has similar properties to rose essential oil but is much more affordable.

The most common geranium species used for its essential oil is Pelargonium graveolens. Geranium essential oil is distilled from the leaves and flowers of the plant. It has a sweet, floral aroma, which comes from its constituent geranyl formate. Other chemical constituents of geranium essential oil include Linalool, Citronellol and Geraniol. The preferred variety of geranium essential oil by aromatherapists is Bourbon geranium, as it has a smell preferrable to others.

In aromatherapy, geranium essential oil is used for the reduction of feelings of anxiety, sadness and fatigue and to promote general wellbeing. It is also known to help with concentration and cognitive function.

Used topically on the skin, geranium essential oil is known to help eliminate dead skin cells and regenerate new ones. It is known to help tighten the skin and, as such, reduce effects of aging such as sagging and wrinkles. Geranium essential oil is also used in the promotion of healthy hair growth.

Geranium essential oil is a gentle and relatively safe oil to use. However, pregnant women are advised to be cautious with this oil, as it effects hormone balance and it is not known how this oil might effect their unborn child.

Geranium essential oil blends well with most other oils. I like to blend it with calming oils such as lavender and clary sage when I want a relaxing effect. It however also blends well with citrus oils. When creating diffuser blends, I personally like to add only one or two drops of geranium essential oil into my blends, as I don’t really like its scent when it’s too strong.

Frankincense #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter F post in the #AtoZChallenge. I focus my A to Z posts on aromatherapy and essential oils. Today, I want to talk about frankincense.

Frankincense is a resin (highly viscose substance that the plant uses to protect itself) derived from any of five species of Boswellia. It is used in both incense and in perfume-making or aromatherapy.

Frankincense has been used ever since at least 1500 BC. It was introduced to western Europe by the Franks, who had found it on their journeys to the eastern Roman empire. The name, though, doesn’t refer to the Franks, but is derived from the old French word for high quality incense.

Frankincense has been claimed to have medicinal benefits for many centuries. In traditional Chinese medicine, frankincense and myrrh combined are used for their antimicrobial and blood moving properties. In Persian medicine, frankincense was used for diabetes and stomach ulcers.

Frankincense essential oil is produced via steam distillation of the resin from a Boswellia plant. I only own Boswellia Carterii essential oil.

Frankincense essential oil has a fresh and fruity yet warm, woodsy and spicy scent. It is a stimulating essential oil and can be used to clear the mind and increase focus.

When applied to the skin in massage oils or other skincare products, it is supposed to help prevent skin aging and help with dry skin.

Frankincense essential oil blends well with citrus oils such as lime, lemon and orange. It also blends well with oils such as lavender, geranium, ylang ylang and woodsy oils such as cypress and sandalwood.

Please note that some species of Boswellia are near threatened status. Although they are exempt from the international regulations on trading endangered plants or animals, it may be advised to take their rarity into account when buying frankincense.

#IWSG: Taking Risks in My Writing?

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. It is April, which means it’s time for the #AtoZChallenge too. For this reason, I am writing a lot. Not that I didn’t write much in March. I wrote 29 blog posts, which I’m rather content with.

I also have been loving looking at writing prompts again. Not that I’ve dared to actually write based on them yet, at least not on the fiction/poetry ones. Okay, maybe it’s not so much that I am too scared, as I could of course be writing just for myself. Then again, I usually write with an audience in mind, so maybe I’m still scared to write even just for me. However, I also find that I take on a lot with my blogging, maybe too much. Yesterday, I was up till 11PM blogging because I had to write something for the letter E in my #AtoZChallenge series. I really hope I’ll find both the time and courage soon to write something more outside of my comfort zone.

This brings me to this month’s optional question. It is whether you’re a risk taker where it comes to your writing. This could mean tackling subjects or genres that are outside of your comfort zone, but also it could mean talking about controversial topics.

The short answer to this question is, no, not really. I used to take risks with my writing several years ago, when I still often shared my views on disability rights and autistic advocacy. Now I hardly ever cover these topics in my writing anymore.

I originally started my current blog as a way to actually take a risk by writing from the heart. I also chose my domain name to reflect the fact that my alter personalities could write too. They hardly ever do anymore.

That being said, I do put myself out there with my writing. As a personal blog writer, I am very open about myself online. Maybe that’s taking a risk in itself.

Do you take risks when writing?

Eucalyptus Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the letter E post in my #AtoZChallenge on aromatherapy. Today I will share what I know about eucalyptus essential oil.

Let me start by saying that my use of the singular word “oil” when referring to eucalyptus, is incorrect. There are several types of essential oils derived from different species of eucalyptus. These various types of eucalyptus essential oil are similar, but still each have their own somewhat different uses. The most common types of eucalyptus used in aromatherapy are eucalyptus globulus, eucalyptus radiata, lemon eucalyptus and peppermint eucalyptus (eucalyptus dives). I only own eucalyptus globulus.

Eucalyptus oils that contain large amounts of cineole should not be used on children under age ten. These include eucalyptus globulus and eucalyptus radiata. Lemon eucalyptus and eucalyptus dives can be used on children age two and up.

According to Valerie Ann Worwood, in her book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, eucalyptus radiata is the safest essential oil out of the various eucalyptus species to be used by people with chronic health conditions.

Eucalyptus is perhaps best known for its effectiveness in relieving common cold symptoms such as a stuffy nose. However, it also has antiviral and other antimicrobial properties. It also works as a natural pain reliever, particularly for arthritis.

According to Worwood, eucalyptus helps relief sunburn and cools the body in summer. By contrast, in winter, eucalyptus warms the body and keeps infection at bay.

Eucalyptus has a fresh, somewhat sharp scent. The aroma of eucalyptus globulus, the one I own, is described as herbaceous, menthol and camphorous with woodsy undertones. Personally, I never thought of it as a camphorous scent (that reminds me of cinnamon, but I might be wrong). It has deodorizing properties.

Eucalyptus, particularly the lemon variety, can be used as an insect repellant. Eucalyptus essential oil is energizing and helps with focus and concentration.

Eucalyptus essential oil blends well with lemon and other citrus oils, rosemary, peppermint and tea tree essential oil. If you want to sleep peacefully and breathe easily at the same time, blend eucalyptus essential oil with lavender. It also blends well with woodsy essential oils such as cedarwood or sandalwood.

Do you like the scent of eucalyptus?

Book Review: Abby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart

About a week ago, I was browsing the children’s book category on Bookshare and I came across the realistic middle grade novel Abby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart. Gephart was a new to me author even though she’s had eight middle grade novels published so far.

I was already reading four different books at the same time, but needed something, uhm, lighter? Not that the subject matter of this book is light, but I did expect it to be more easy to read than the adult novels I was reading. I raced through the first 80% of this book, then let it sit there because the #AtoZChallenge got in the way. I eventually decided to finish the book last night. Let me share my thoughts.

Summary

When Abby Braverman’s best friend, Cat, moves to Israel, she’s sure it’s the worst thing that could happen. But then her older brother, Paul, is diagnosed with cancer, and life upends again. Now it’s up to Abby to find a way to navigate seventh grade without her best friend, help keep her brother’s spirits up during difficult treatments, and figure out her surprising new feelings for the boy next door.

My Review

First, let me share that this book is really good with respect to its representation of diverse characters. Abby and her family are Jewish, which in a way shouldn’t be surprising, but it was to me. Abby has two Moms and nowhere is there a mention of a biological father. Abby just corrects people who assume she must have a Mom and a Dad.

Second, Abby is a truly great character. At first, she seems a bit dorky, but her sense of humor is apparent pretty quickly. I really loved the word jokes in this book. One of them, about Mom Rachel’s cooking YouTube, I didn’t even get until I’d finished the book.

Despite the tough subject matter of Paul’s cancer, this is a really lighthearted read. I don’t mean that the hard parts are sugarcoated – they aren’t. I mean, Paul truly experiences grief and sadness and this is made very clear. However, through Abby’s strength, I keep feeling that everything will be okay in the end.

The side characters are also very well-developed. I totally rooted for Conrad, the boy next door Abby has feelings for. However, there are also more negative characters out there. That makes this story believable and yet positive at the same time.

Overall, I loved this story. I gave it a solid five stars on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Abby, Tried and True
Author: Donna Gephart
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Outdoor Activities I Enjoy

The book 412 Journaling Exercises and Prompts for Personal Growth by Meredith Lane contains, in addition to a wealth of assorted journaling prompts, also a number of “list of twenty” prompts. One of these is outdoor activities you enjoy. Right now, the weather outside is frightful: cloudy, windy, rainy and even a bit snowy. It’s April though and the weather has to get better someday soon. For when it does, let me share some of my favorite outdoor activities.

1. Walking. This is a no-brainer to anyone who’s read some of my blog before. I love love love walking and will even go for some walks in light rain occasionally.

2. Sunbathing. Or rather, just sitting in the sun. I don’t really sunbathe that much, but I do love to sit in the sunshine sometimes.

3. Swinging. At the day center, there is a rocking lounger outside of the door of my pre-lockdown group. I’ve also heard there are sets of swings in front of some of the other homes. At my former day centers, I loved to sit on a swing outside and swing about.

4. Listening to birdsong. I really love to hear the birds sing and chirp when I’m walking or sitting outside. I have absolutely no birdsong recognition skill whatsoever, but the mere sound of the different birds is pure bliss.

5. Meeting people from other care homes. This is mostly due to lockdown, as I used to be able to speak to other clients at the day center. Now we have to meet outside. I love talking to my acquaintances from other homes.

6. Swimming. Mostly in the outdoor pool, that is. Oh, how I wish I would be allowed into them again. I’ve heard some outdoor swimming pools have opened to a limited number of swimmers, but then still I won’t be able to go yet. I don’t really like swimming in a lake as much.

7. Barbecueing. Oh, how I love all the barbecue meat. Truly, if you ask me, salads are just a necessary evil. No, not really, but I am a true carnivore when it comes to barbecueing.

8. Enjoying a picnic. Although I struggle not to make a mess when not seated at a table. I try to think that’s not a problem though.

9. Feeling the wind blow through my hair. I don’t really like windy weather like today, but I do love to feel a slight breeze on my face and through my hair.

10. Campfires. Mostly for the marshmallows, that is. I don’t particularly care for the smoky scent and feel of a campfire, but it definitely adds to a cozy atmosphere.

Okay, I’m not going to get to twenty, but this was definitely fun to try.

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with #SeniSal.

Diffusing Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter D post in the #AtoZChallenge. My theme for this challenge is aromatherapy and today, I’ll talk about one of the most common ways of using essential oils: diffusing.

When I first started using essential oils, oil lamps were still popular. These use a tealight under the essential oil bowl. Other options were aroma stones, which you were supposed to lay on the heating. However, heat can alter the effects of the essential oil and is, for this reason, not recommended.

When I first got my own essential oil diffuser, it was a nebulizer that works with a fan. Then, about a year and a half ago, I got an ultrasonic diffuser. This is a diffuser in which you add water and essential oils. Ultrasonic waves then convert the water and oil into a fine mist. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of diffusers:


  • Fan-based nebulizers are more expensive than ultrasonic diffusers.
  • They also are usually louder. My nebulizer’s fan made a horrible noise, while the only sound my ultrasonic diffuser makes, is a slight bubbling of the water.

  • You don’t need to clean fan-based nebulizers. Rather, you remove the oil filter or switch off the bottle of oil. My nebulizer had oil filters, but I’ve heard there are also diffusers to which you attach a bottle of essential oil directly. Ultrasonic diffusers need to be cleaned occasionally. I heard various things about how to clean a diffuser. I personally fill about half the diffuser’s container with water and then add a bit of white vinegar. Then I turn on the diffuser for five to ten minutes. I finally have it on with just water to clear out the vinegar smell.


I, to be honest, prefer my ultrasonic diffuser because it’s quieter than the fan.

There are many brands of diffusers. Some ultrasonic diffusers are as cheap as €15. Mine cost about €40. My AromaStream® fan-based nebulizer cost about €60.

Ultrasonic diffusers also come in various sizes. Mine has a container of at most 300ml water, which is enough to diffuse essential oils into a large bedroom or normal living room. The diffuser size determines how many drops of essential oil you can use in it. With a 300ml diffuser like mine, 10-12 drops is recommended.

Many essential oil diffusers have other uses besides diffusing essential oil. For example, mine has LED lights in it too, so it doubles as a night light. I’ve also heard of an essential oil diffuser with a Bluetooth speaker in it. I think that’s awesome!