my journey to homemade solutions

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For a LONG time, I’ve been the person that said, “I want to use more natural products. I want to save money and make my own stuff (when it’s easy!).” But I’ll be honest – I’m lazy and just never got around to it. Well, the time has come, friends! I recently bought homemade body butter and lip balm from a friend, and that was the nudge I needed.

Since then, I’ve ordered my first set of doTERRA oils (I was using essential oils before, but they were the cheap ones from the grocery store); stocked up on washing soda, Borax, coconut oil, and shea butter; and made a trip to the store for bottles and jars! I’ve already made laundry soap and oil rollers for arthritis and calming (for us and the dogs!). I’ve also just made a new bottle of calming spray for my dog, and I’ve ordered the necessary ingredients to make baby wash for my son. When our dishwasher soap, hand soap, and other household cleaners run out, I’ll be making those too!

I’m excited for the benefits of all-natural solutions, and I’m excited for the cost savings. And truth be told, because I’m a total nerd, I’m also a little excited about getting all of my stuff organized and labeled! I’ll be posting my recipes and stories as I go, so check back often.

all-natural soothing dog shampoo

dogshampoo

Did you know…many commercial pet shampoos contain drying agents to help the coat dry faster. These chemicals and artificial additives can also dry out the dog’s skin–resulting in itchy, dandruffy skin; excessive shedding; and a dull coat. Additionally, when the pet is bathed too often (more than once every 6-8 weeks) with these shampoos, those potential side effects become even worse!

When our oldest dog developed papillomavirus (a condition actually quite common among older dogs), I of course started to do my research. Papillomavirus causes wart-like growths on the skin. These growths are generally benign, but they can be itchy and will occasionally break open and bleed or ooze. Gross and ouch, right?? As an essential oil educator, I knew I could find something natural to help soothe him. I also knew using a natural shampoo meant I could bathe him more frequently! He now gets a bath about once every two weeks. The essential oils in the recipe are optional, but they are both great for soothing the skin and disinfecting. They also add a nice, subtle fragrance.

For this recipe, you’ll need an 8-oz glass pump bottle (cobalt or amber preferred). Not sure where to get one? Check out this post.

Ingredients:

Make It:

  1. Add all ingredients to bottle and shake well.
  2. Shake before each use.

Because this is an all-natural shampoo, it won’t get as sudsy as a commercial shampoo will. Rest assured, it’s still doing its job! Resist the urge to use more to make up for it. Also, as I mentioned earlier, this shampoo can be used more often since it’s made of all-natural ingredients. Bathe up to once per week if needed.

 

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manage your pup’s arthritis, joint, and muscle pain with essential oils

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Our oldest dog, Jake, is now 13+ years old. He’s a mix breed built like a dachshund or corgi–long body, short legs. We always knew that would cause stress on his back, hips, and joints, and it’s definitely showing now with his age. He has a tougher time jumping up on furniture, his back legs are weak and occasionally tremble, and he struggles to stand firmly on tile and other slippery surfaces.

We had tried some meds from the vet, but none of them helped much. Plus, they were expensive and came with potential long-term side effects. Being a family focused on natural remedies whenever possible, I started to research essential oils for arthritic dogs. I tried a couple different combinations and application methods (what might work great for one person or dog might not work at all for another) and found one that helped! I now use a roller bottle for him 2-3 times per day, and he gets the doTERRA Deep Blue® supplement once a day. I am amazed with the improvements in a short period of time!

The Roller Bottle:

Because he’s a small dog (and a dog in general), it’s important to use the right dilution when using essential oils for him. To mix up this roller bottle, you’ll need a 10-mL roller bottle (amber or cobalt preferred) and fractionated coconut oil in addition to the essential oils. Not sure where to get the roller bottle? Click here. *NOTE: be sure to use only certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils. I use and recommend doTERRA oils. Make it:

  1. Add 3 drops each of peppermint, lavender, lemongrass, and frankincense essential oil to a 10-mL roller bottle.
  2. Fill bottle with fractionated coconut oil.
  3. Shake to mix.

To use it, roll it under the dog’s “armpits” or along the spine. Be sure to get the oils on the skin rather than allowing them to just soak into the hair. Apply 2-3 times per day for ongoing maintenance or as needed for injuries.

The Deep Blue® Supplement:

There’s no better explanation of this awesome product than the one right from the doTERRA website:

“The brand name Deep Blue® is synonymous with relief for sore and tired muscles. The CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oil blend as well as the rub have provided comfort to many and are trusted among their users. It only makes sense that an ingestible supplement would complement the topical benefits of the Deep Blue product line.*

Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex delivers polyphenol extracts of frankincense, turmeric, green tea, ginger, pomegranate, and grape seed, and is designed to provide soothing support to aching muscles and to other occasional discomfort.* Take as needed when discomfort presents itself, or take it every day for long-lasting benefits.*”

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

For adults, the dosage of this supplement is two capsules per day (one morning and one evening) with food. In addition to Jake (who is about 15 pounds), we also have a German shepherd dog mix weighing about 65 pounds. Since she has the typical GSD hips, we give her the Deep Blue® supplement as well. I split one capsule between the two of them, once per day (I give it in the morning). I open the capsule and sprinkle about 2/3 of the powder onto Bergen’s (the GSD) food and the rest onto Jake’s.

Since we started the roller bottle and Deep Blue® supplement, Jake is getting around much better, and we were able to stop giving Bergen her daily dose of Deramaxx®. It’s empowering knowing I’m helping manage their mobility with all-natural supplements!

Want to learn more about essential oils for pets? Check out this post!

homemade, natural sunscreen that WORKS!

sunscreen

One of the top things requested when we made the switch to natural products was an all-natural sunscreen that actually worked. My first attempt was terrible and didn’t work at all. Being the guinea pig for that was fun! The second attempt, however, works great and is easy to make! Before I get to the recipe, I want to explain the ingredients a bit.

Non-nano Zinc Oxide

The primary ingredient in this recipe that provides the UVA and UVB protection is non-nano zinc oxide powder. Let me first explain the difference between nano and non-nano. When folks first started using zinc oxide powder, they were using nano powder. That means the powder was fine–and I mean super fine. The problem was it was so small that it actually seeped into skin pores and ultimately into the blood stream. Zinc oxide powder is a mineral and is perfectly safe externally, but you don’t want to get it into your blood stream. Non-nano is just big enough for that to not be a problem. It still provides all the awesome protection properties without getting into your pores. All that said, be sure to choose a non-nano zinc oxide powder. A link is provided below for the one I use.

Like most powders, zinc oxide can be a health risk if inhaled. Therefore, when mixing the recipe, be careful not to inhale the powder. I recommend wearing a mask to reduce risk. Once mixed into the lotion, there is NO risk with the zinc oxide powder.

With 2 ounces of non-nano zinc oxide powder mixed into 8 ounces of lotion, the approximate SPF value is 20. For each additional ounce added, that approximate SPF goes up 10. For example, for SPF 30, add 3 ounces non-nano zinc oxide powder to 8 ounces lotion.

Carrot Seed Oil & Red Raspberry Seed Oil

Carrot seed oil and red raspberry seed oil are believed by some to add SPF values to lotions. However, no conclusive studies have verified it for either, and there’s a mountain of information out there claiming the opposite. For that reason, I call them optional in the recipe below. I include them, though, because they both offer wonderful antioxidant properties, and they are rich in Omega fatty acids. Additionally, carrot seed oil has a good amount of Vitamin E in it, which acts as a great natural preservative. Again, links to purchase both are provided below.

Lotion

The zinc oxide powder and oils (if used) can be mixed into any lotion if you’d like. Since I like to use homemade, natural products, I start with my own homemade lotion (recipe here) and add to it. *Note the lotion recipe yields 16 ounces of lotion.

Ingredients:

Make It:

  1. Put lotion into medium bowl. (I use an immersion blender, so I put the lotion into a tall, cylindrical container. A hand mixer will also work.)
  2. Using an immersion blender or hand mixer, gradually blend in non-nano zinc oxide powder, 1 tbsp at a time.
  3. When zinc oxide powder is blended in, blend in oils if using.
  4. Transfer to half pint jar or other container for storage.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for best results.

intro to essential oils and pets

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The aromatherapy benefits of essential oils for humans is no secret. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that they can have similar benefits for pets. It’s important to remember, though, that pets can and will respond to them in much different ways than we will. When using oils with your pets, always consult your veterinarian and an essential oil expert.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are naturally occurring compounds found in the seeds, roots, bark, flowers, and other parts of plants. They give plants their distinctive smells, and they play a role in pollination. Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and healthcare.

Think of it this way–plants can’t run away to escape predators or environmental threats. Instead, they rely on the oils they produce for protection. Those oils can neutralize and repel pests and pathogens.

Not All Oils are Created Equal

Have you shopped for essential oils? You’ve probably noticed there are LOTS out there! They are not all created equal. Many of them have added ingredients that at best take away from the effectiveness of the oil and at worst result in adverse effects. When using essential oils (for yourself and for your pets), be sure to only choose therapeutic grade oils that go through rigorous testing. I personally use and recommend doTERRA oils.

doTERRA oils are certified pure therapeutic grade. They go through eight tests to verify purity. What does that mean? It means you know you’re getting pure, quality oils, free of additives and artificial ingredients. Read more here.

A Few of My Favorite Oils to Consider

We use essential oils for our dogs for a number of things including flea/tick repellent, deodorizing, calming, and arthritis relief. Because animals tend to have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, always dilute oils for pets in a carrier oil. The following oils are safe for use with pets:

  • Cedarwood: Cedarwood is a great all-purpose oil. It has calming effects and is a good bug repellent.
  • Fennel: Fennel helps break up toxins and fluid in tissue. It balances pituitary, thyroid, and pineal glands.
  • Frankincense: Frankincense is my second go-to oil for pets. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it great for aches and pains associated with injuries or arthritis.
  • Geranium: This one is a key ingredient in our flea/tick repellent collars. It is an excellent bug repellent.
  • Lavender: Often referred to as the all-purpose oil, lavender has a wide variety of benefits and uses. It is great for calming for the nervous dog and when introducing new things. It may also help with allergies, burns, ulcers, insomnia, car sickness, and more. When in doubt, lavender is often the oil I recommend trying first.
  • Spearmint: This oil can help to reduce weight. It is good for colic, diarrhea, and nausea, and it helps balance metabolism.
  • Wild Orange: The citrus aroma of wild orange is uplifting and calms the mind and stomach. I use it with lavender in my calming spray.

Specific Oils to Avoid

Because pets have a much stronger sense of smell and are typically much smaller than we are, some oils should be avoided completely. I never recommend use of the following oils with pets:

  • Basil; also present in doTERRA proprietary blend AromaTouch
  • Cassia
  • Cinnamon; also present in doTERRA proprietary blends Cheer, OnGuard, and Passion
  • Clove
  • Melaleuca (aka tea tree); also present in doTERRA proprietary blends Breathe and Purify
  • Oregano
  • Pine; also present in doTERRA proprietary blend Purify
  • Thyme; also present in doTERRA proprietary blend Forgive
  • Wintergreen; also present in doTERRA proprietary blend Deep Blue (only found in oil; supplement is safe)

Cautions

Cats, birds, and rodents are much more sensitive to oils than dogs. Personally, I don’t use any oils directly on my cats for this reason. Additionally, if oils are diffused near cats, birds, or rodents, they should be heavily diluted.

When diffusing oils, always ensure all pets (but especially cats, birds, and rodents) have an exit if needed. If the smell becomes too much for them, it’s important they can get to an area free of the aroma.

Allow pets to smell the oils by simply opening the bottle in their presence before using the oils on them. If the pet is bothered by the smell, put the oil away and try again the next day. Only use oils that are not bothersome to the pet.

Melaleuca is especially toxic to pets and should not be used on dogs or cats. I won’t even diffuse melaleuca in their presence. Some folks may disagree, but I tend to err on the side of caution; better safe than sorry.

So-called “hot” oils should be avoided for both dogs and cats. They get their nickname because they can cause a warming sensation. This sensation tends to be too intense for pets. Hot oils include cinnamon, clove, oregano, and thyme. On the flip side, peppermint is known for its cooling sensation. It should be used with caution, as the cooling sensation may also be a bit intense for pets.

Never use essential oils around the eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals, and never put essential oils into the pet’s ears.

For best absorption, oils should be applied on the skin of the armpits, between pads, or on the spine. If applying to the spine, be sure to part the hair and get the oils onto the skin.

Need Some Help?

If you want to get started with essential oils for your pets, please contact me. I’m happy to arrange a wellness consult to discuss the benefits and cautions with you.

 

why you should switch to natural deodorant

When making the switch to natural products in your home, deodorant is often one we cringe about. No one wants to be smelly or have pit stains. But do you know what antiperspirants do? They stop a natural body process–sweating. While the sweat might be an inconvenience at times, our body needs to do it. Stopping that isn’t a great idea. So how do you make the switch, and why is it so important?

Aluminum

One of the biggest downsides to antiperspirants is its inclusion of aluminum in the ingredient list. How does antiperspirant work? The aluminum essentially clogs up your pores to keep the perspiration in. That sweat then builds up and gets trapped just under the skin. That can cause all sorts of things like bumps and irritated skin and buildup of bacteria. The acidity of the aluminum tends to react with your clothing and ultimately causes those lovely yellow pit stains on your white shirts. Numerous studies have also been conducted suggesting aluminum can be responsible for Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Beyond Aluminum

Aluminum is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep reading those ingredients, and you’ll find a whole lot of other chemicals that have been linked to various ailments and diseases:

  • Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, benzyl, butyl): endocrine disruption, environmental toxin, cancer, reproductive disorders, premature aging, immune toxicant, allergens
  • Phthalates: cancer, birth defects, infertility, allergens
  • Proplyene glycol: skin, eyes, and lungs irritation; reproductive and fetal neurotoxin linked to kidney and liver damage; enhanced skin absorption
  • Silica: possible carcinogen if contaminated with crystalline quartz; skin, eyes and lungs irritation
  • Steareths: endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, skin irritation
  • Talc: non-reproductive organ system toxin, possible carcinogen if contaminated with asbestiform fibers
  • Triclosan: antibacterial agent banned in several countries due to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria; endocrine disruption; muscle weakness; skin, eyes, and lungs irritation

How to Make the Switch to Natural

Making the switch can be tough! When I switched, I was one of the few able to do it without having any trouble. I switched cold turkey and never looked back! For some, though, switching can be a bit tougher. When switching, consider these tips:

  • Give a new deodorant at least two weeks. It can take time for your body to adjust. Some people find they sweat more than usual due to their body detoxing and expelling stored-up sweat.
  • To speed up the detox period, be sure to wash daily (or even 2-3 times daily) with natural soap and water. Additionally, exfoliate your pits twice a week. Apply deodorant after each cleanse.
  • Wear more natural fibers (cotton, hemp, etc.) during the transition period. Polyesters and acrylic fibers have a tendency to trap extra moisture.

I know it can sound a bit daunting (and maybe even a little scary) to switch to natural deodorant, but it is absolutely worth it! Your health will thank you!

homemade bug spray that WORKS!

bugspray

When we made the switch to all-natural products, one of the things most frequently requested by my family and readers was a recipe for all-natural bug spray that actually works. I mixed this up a few weeks ago, and then it got cold again, so I didn’t get to try it for a while. Last week, I went out to mow just before dusk. After only a few minutes, I was getting bombarded by mosquitoes, so I applied my bug spray and headed back out. I immediately noticed a difference! The mosquitoes were leaving me alone. I’ve used it a couple times since then, and I still love it.

You’ll need an 8-oz. glass spray bottle, preferably cobalt or amber. Not sure where to get one? See this post.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup filtered water*
  • 1/3 cup witch hazel or vodka (improves dispersion when spraying; I always use vodka)
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerine
  • 6 drops each essential oils: peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, eucalyptus, geranium, cedarwood, melaleuca

To make, simply add all ingredients to your bottle, and shake. Be sure to shake before each use, as it may separate a bit. Do not spray directly on your face. Instead, spray into your hands and rub on face and ears.

*The recipe as-is works great if you’re wearing long sleeves and pants and are spraying the repellent on your clothing. If your skin is exposed, it won’t last long and will thus require frequent reapplication. For skin spray, replace half (or more) of the water in the recipe with fractionated coconut oil.

^Because this spray is all-natural, you may find you need to reapply it more often.

skin to bloodstream: 26 seconds

26 seconds. When we put something on our skin (be it soap, lotion, sunblock, or anything else we touch), its ingredients are in our bloodstream in 26 seconds. Yes, seconds. Once those ingredients hit our bloodstream, they circulate through the entire body and begin to affect all sorts of bodily functions.

Now with that in mind, grab a couple of your personal care items – your face wash, your lotion, your hand soap, whatever you have handy. Read the ingredient list. How many things are too difficult to pronounce? How many are things you’ve never heard of? How many are harsh chemicals? Now think about those things entering your bloodstream in 26 seconds.

A few months ago, I called it quits. I got rid of all the harsh chemicals and synthetic-based products in our house. And I’m not even talking about just the things that touch our skin; I’m also talking about the ibuprofen, the cold medicine, the dishwasher detergent, the cleaning products…anything that included artificial ingredients. You know what happened? My toddler who had had a months-long, never-ending cold was finally healthy and snot-free. I stopped needing daily allergy medication (that I’d been taking for over ten years). The dogs are flea- and tick-free without using Frontline or K9 Advantix or any of those other spot-on treatments. The list goes on and on.

Next time you grab one of those items, take a glance through the ingredient list. If you don’t still want to use it, contact me to learn how to convert your home to an all-natural one!