Please, Drink Responsibly

Please, read my Exploration + Wisdom = Empowerment introductory post to understand the narrative in this series!

So, I’m going to address an aspect of one of the most contentious issues in the EO using community: Internal use through oral consumption.

Please, Drink Responsibly

The Controversy:

The New Kids are using EOs internally through oral consumption. They are doing this through a couple of methods: Dropping the oil into vegetable based capsules or drinking them with liquids, usually water or some sort of non-dairy “milk” (like rice or almond milk).

The Natives are freaking out. It’s in their training to fear it- poor creatures- they can’t help themselves. They almost never want to go there, and in the rare occasion they do, they feel the road should only be traveled with a “trained professional”.

The Contention:

The New Kids see the benefit of exploration with internal consumption and cite the fact that many EOs make the FDA’s GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list. They also point to less restricted practices of oral consumption outside American and British training.

The Natives try to disqualify the validity of the GRAS list and assert that the oral consumption of EO’s by our less restricted, French neighbors comes only through supervision by trained aromatherapists and only in the form of enteric coated pills.

The Caution Cone:

To the New Kids: The reason the Natives are against consuming the oils in water has to do with the fact that oil and water don’t mix. Drinking the oils in water doesn’t dilute them because the oil rises to the top and hits sensitive skin neat (or undiluted) on the inside of our mouths and throats. In some cases, this can cause a real problem for the skin on our insides! Think about it: if we wouldn’t put a hot oil like oregano or cinnamon undiluted on our skin why would we put it undiluted on our throats where the skin is more sensitive and there are mucus membrane that could be adversely affected? They have put out a valid caution cone over a real pothole. However. . .

To the Natives: The New Kids want to explore this method of application. I know I’m only addressing one aspect of why you’re freaking out about oral consumption, and I hope to address other aspects later, but the point is, we busted down the “do not enter” sign you put up, and we’re exploring this road, like it or not. You’re yelling from the corner curb, “get off the road because it has potholes, and it could have more potholes than we know about!” However, we want to know what’s on this road because it could have amazing possibilities for our neighborhood! So many of your warnings involve putting caution cones around “this could be a problem”. We want to know what is a problem and what we can do to more safely explore what might lead to real benefits.

The Compromise:

The natives don’t want us on the road at all because it is dangerous in some ways and might be dangerous in ways we don’t yet know about. The New Kids want to try out the road, believing it can’t be that bad. The compromise comes in this:

Natives: stop trying to blockade the road with fear tactics. If there is a problem, be specific about what it is, and include ALL the specifics. The road is open, people are on it. If your real concern is safety, stop giving vague “could be” problems, and then pointing to “see your trained aromatherapist” as the answer.

I’m not coming to see you.

I’m not going pay you to tell me how to use the oils because, even though you’re acting like the information the new kids have is all wrong, I’ve only been able to find a few valid practice differences that separate you from the information I already have access to.

New Kids: let’s take the real wisdom and see if we can apply it to a more safe exploration of the road, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be responsible for hurting myself or others.

Since the problem I’m addressing today is undiluted oil against sensitive skin, here are some of the ways that you can minimize the risk if you’re concerned:

**The company from which I order my oils put out a list of essential oils safe for internal use this past summer. Here’s their list.**

  1. Stop drinking the oils in water, or at least stop drinking the more caustic (hot and cold) oils and seek other methods of oral consumption.
  2. Pre-dilute oils in a carrier oil base such as virgin olive oil or some other vegetable based oil- which both have health benefits to us- and drop the diluted mixture into a vegetable base capsule for consumption (which, I believe will also help with some of the Native’s other concerns).
  3. Consume oils as a medicinal “syrup” mixed in with either an oil base like, extra virgin olive oil, or in a honey base. I would think 1 drop per tsp- Tbsp would work well.

But for those of you who like drinking your oils, I took last months earnings and set forth on an expedition of my own!

** I compared oils in water to oils in animal milks, vegetable milks, sweetener bases, and the “toothpick” options to see which might do something to reduce the amount of oil that rises to the top undiluted.

Here is what I found:

The Animal Milks

I tested a drop of wild orange in 5 Tbsp each of: raw, whole cow’s milk; whole, 1%, and skim pasteurized cow’s milk; whole, pasteurized goat’s milk, and whole, Lactaid lactose free cow’s milk. All performed similarly, and better than water, as far as oil that rose to the top after stirring the drop of oil in, BUT not much better. I’d say that if you were very concerned about this particular problem, animal milks aren’t going to offer much relief.

The Vegetable Milks

Amazingly, these preformed better (to various degrees) then the animal milk. Maybe that wouldn’t surprise those of you who understand more about this, but it surprised me. I tested one drop of Wild Orange oil in Silk brand, no sugar, almond milk and cashew Milk, Silk brand original coconut milk, and Rice Dream brand original rice milk. Rice milk performed just as water did, and so, it’s not a good substitute for this problem. Of the three Silk milks, cashew greatly decreased the amount of oil that rose to the top compared to water. Almond and coconut performed similarly to the animal milks: they were better than water, but not a lot.

Other Options

I also tested a drop of Wild Orange in 5 oz each of plain Kefir and Aloe Vera juice. Aloe Vera juice performed just the same as water, and so, it’s not a good substitute for this problem. Kefir performed much better, and so, like cashew milk, it might be a good option for those of you concerned about this problem.

The Sweeteners

Honey is a surfactant (something that helps the oil and water stay mixed together). I have found, that for myself, if I use about 1/2 tsp of honey in the bottom of a cup, mix the oil in with the honey (it’ll make the honey a little thicker and cloudier), and then pour in the hot or cold water, the oil stays very well mixed into the water and is my prefered method of dealing with the problem of dilution in a drink. Then I thought, if honey works what other sweeteners might also work? I tested 1 drop of lemon in some and 1 drop of wild orange in others. Here are the sweeteners I tried: Xylitol (granulas, not liquid), Sugar in the Raw brand sugar, real maple syrup (grade A dark), a chocolate flavored stevia syrup, a maple flavored agave syrup, and compared them to both water and honey. In each case, I mixed them with the oil before pouring the water. Xylitol and maple syrup performed just the same as water. Sugar in the raw and the agave syrup were only slightly better, enough to note, but not enough to make them good options for avoiding the problem. The only one that was worth any real note was the stevia syrup. It performed similarly to honey, but honey was still the best option.

The Toothpick Trials

Many of us know about using oil soaked toothpicks to dilute proportions in our drinks and food. There’s the “dip” (simply dip the oil soaked toothpick into the drink), “swizzle” (dip the oil soaked toothpick into the drink and “swizzle” it around), and I also tried dropping the toothpick in the water and leaving it there. While all three will reduce the amount of oil that is in the water, none of them do anything to help keep the water and oil mixed together so, they are not a solution for this particular problem.

Seeing that pre-mixed oil and honey is by far the best option for diluting the oils in beverages, for convenience, you could pre-make a favorite drinking oil in a 1/4 cup of honey with 3-6 drops of oil mixed in. Make sure you store this mix in a glass container and keep it covered between uses. Use 1/4- 1/2 tsp in your water.

If you wanted it very diluted you could add 1-2 drops to that 1/4 cup (12 tsp) of honey and use 1/4 tsp at a time.

Remember! Children under 6 years of age should not be taking oils internally through oral consumption and older children should use a higher dilution ratio then adults!

So, as far as the dilution problem goes: Problem solved, pothole filled in.

Keep exploring New Kids, and thank you Natives for your wisdom!

Cold Sores

I have been suffering from cold sores since I was kid.

Cold Sores

And, not just the minor type, but the huge, uncomfortable, itchy, burning, puss filled blisters type. Living with something all your life often makes you somewhat of an expert on dealing with it. Through a lifetime of trial and error, and a bit of research, I have some advice about cold sores!

I have tried several remedies for cold sores over the years, and so, my first advice is this:

Choose a remedy that will help you minimize the outbreak not stop it altogether. What I’ve observed is that this virus is tenacious. Once you’ve acquired it, it does not leave your body. There is no cure. I’m going to speak in terms of the virus as a living enemy: It does not like to lose the battle. If you win a battle, it’ll keep coming back until it overcomes your artillery.

I have gone through several remedies to share this nugget of wisdom with you today. They may work to prevent an outbreak at first, but later, the cold sore over comes the remedy and is much more painful and difficult to deal with.

In my experience, it is better to give the cold sore a little victory, but contain it, rather then eliminate it altogether. Give the cold sore the space to come out and run it’s natural course, but take steps to minimize it from exploding out of control. The product I have used for years to accomplish this is RELEEV, it is effective in minimizing the outbreak’s impact w/o stopping it altogether. If you take nothing else away from this post, take my advice here and resist suppression therapies.

What is even more effective is changing your lifestyle to minimize the likelihood of an outbreak to begin with. Cold sores are great mockers. They laugh at our attempts to throw an easy medicine at them, when it’s a hard change in living that is the real remedy.

Common Cold Sore triggers:

  1. Stress
  2. Compromised immune system
  3. Shifts in hormones
  4. Diet
  5. Too much sun exposure on lips
  6. For some, a Lysine deficiency (though, this is not always a cause for all people- me included)

Here are some things to consider as you seek to identify your main triggers and manage your outbreaks:

  1. De-stress your life. Remove unnecessary stressors or learn stress management techniques. For me, my faith in Christ brings peace. I have a fiery personality, and while it may not always be apparent how much control following Christ has brought to that, I can say that who I am today is infinitely more at peace then who I was 15, 10, or even 5 years ago. consider what things are in your life that really don’t need to be there and what you could access to help emotionally manage what you can’t change.
  2. When your immune system is compromised by either chronic conditions, or temporary viruses, seek healthy choices that give your immune system it’s best chance of fighting back. Cold sores are a virus, and a healthy, strong immune system is your best defense, as well as, your best offense. Consider what things are in your life that decrease your immune function (stress, lack of proper sleep, poor diet– to name a few) and consider what things you could do to boost your immune system (de-stress, proper sleep and diet, safe exposure to the sun and/ or vitamins that help your body function properly- again, to name a few).
  3. Being a woman, I can tell you that the majority of my outbreaks surround changes in my monthly cycle. Again, stress management is key. Also, look into products that can help regulate your hormonal changes if they tend to be extreme.
  4. Consider trying an L-lysine supplement
  5. Wear UV lip protection when you know you’re going to be out in the sun for long periods. I prefer Carmex brand products for all my lip balm needs because of its well known impact on cold sores.
  6. Your diet is important, not only for your immune system, but there are certain foods that make your chances of an outbreak more likely and/or more severe. Minimize or eliminate the following from your diet to give yourself the best chance you can in avoiding cold sore outbreaks:

I recommend minimizing chocolate, sugar, wheat, hops, and caffeine on a regular basis. Cut out all of the above in the event of an outbreak, or if a common trigger is at play and increasing your chances of an outbreak.

Where might oils fit in with managing your cold sore virus?

Research oils and supplements that. . .

  1. help you manage stress
  2. boost your immune system
  3. help regulate your hormonal cycle
  4. help boost your energy levels in the absence of caffeine

For relieving the discomfort associated with cold sores, I find Melaleuca oil helpful. I believe that Melaleuca would also help minimize the impact of an outbreak. However, I caution you again in using any product, even oils, to prevent a cold sore that is trying to break out. Use Melaleuca to help manage the discomfort, not prevent the active virus’ normal cycle.

*Disclaimer: I am not a licensed healthcare practitioner. The FDA has not approved these statements. While these statements clearly have prevention and treatment implications, they’re not to be viewed as FDA approved or an authoritative source of diagnosis, prevention, treatment, or cures. They are simply what has worked for me and I offer this for your consideration as you seek to manage your own cold sores. View treatments that are approved by the FDA HERE.

New Series Coming Soon!

I’m relatively new to this community of Essential Oil users. When you enter any community, at first, all you see is the sunshine and roses. However, it often doesn’t take long before you bump into the community’s controversies. Every community has them. They almost always center around a difference of opinion about how things should be done, and the aromatherapy community is no different.

The war is between those who have been trained in specific methods and who have been use to being the big kids of the block. They’re the original residences- the natives- in this little gated community, and they are none to happy about the new rush of loud, crazy, over exuberant explorers who throw caution to the wind, and have moved in all over the place, turning their quiet, controlled neighborhood into one big out-of-control EO party!

Exploration + Wisdom = Empowerment

I know there is more to it then that, but that’s the basic overview.

The natives are mad and on the attack. “Stop! Stop doing that! That’s not safe! Stop saying that, it’s not right!” Forgetting that they know what they know because they explored where others hadn’t dared to tread before them.

The new kids on the block are flabbergasted. “Wait, but this is working. Hold on, this makes sense! What’s your problem?” Responding in defense (for good reason, the natives have been less than welcoming) and pride, refusing to acknowledge the wisdom gained by those who came before.

To the natives: We get it. We hear that you’re mad. We understand that you think we’re not being safe, that you think we’re doing it wrong, but we bought houses in your neighborhood. We’re invested in this community. We’re here to to stay, and yes, we’re changing the way this community functions. You can continue to be that neighbor who glares out the window at us every time we walk by and calls the cops every time we don’t do it the way you have always done it, or you can get used to the new demographic and find a way to peacefully co-exist with us. Maybe, you can even be the sage grown-up who shares her wisdom rather than the cranky old woman who sits on her porch with a her BB gun loaded and ready to go. We’re here to stay, get use it.

To the new kids on the block: Yes, we’re changing things and that is good! It’s good that Essential Oils are opening up to the average, everyday person, and that they are no longer in the hands of just an exclusive few, but we don’t know it all. Exploration is good, but when someone, who knows the terrain, warns of a pothole in the road, what kind of idiots are we to ignore the warning and drive right into it? Listen to the natives a little. They don’t like us, they don’t like the changes we’re making, but when they put out a caution cone, if there’s clearly a hole, don’t drive over it! And, when their knowledge helps us avoid paying for a new car transmission, we could drop by their house with a “thank you” note and ask if they know any other potholes we should avoid.

Isn’t that lovely.

The neighborhood could be nice for all of us.

More importantly, when we add new exploration, to known dangers, we all get empowerment. We all grow.

Because I’m tied up in other wars (ones that really matter), keep an eye out for posts under the new tag: Exploration + Wisdom = Empowerment, as I try my best to take what we’ve been exploring and add what they want us to know so that it turns into useful information for us all!