Home Remedy for Muscle and Joint Pain

When I was in high school, I remember my left knee getting awfully sore and swollen during my senior year–particularly after physical activity. As a show choir member (we did lots of dancing if you’re not familiar with show choir) and golfer, I was fairly active. As a right-handed golfer, specifically, my left knee took the majority of the turning and follow-through weight. With summer fast approaching, marching band was coming, and I was the captain of the colorguard. Let me just say we did A LOT of running, often wearing shoes or even strappy sandals with no support.

I finally decided to get it checked out at the doctor. I was told I had bursitis. If you’re not familiar with bursitis, it’s the inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that lubricate and cushion your joints. My doctor recommended a compression sleeve whenever I was participating in physical activity, followed by a rotation of heat and ice to ease the pain and swelling.  Though basic home treatment typically clears it up in a few weeks, it’s not uncommon for recurrent flare ups to happen.

After high school, I’ll admit I was fairly lazy and not nearly as active, so I didn’t have many issues for several years. At the ripe old age of 32, I decided it was time to get into shape. I started with Insanity at home. For the record, Insanity is indeed insane. Works great though if you stick to it! After I finished that, I thought it sounded like a good idea to become a runner. I always liked the idea of being a runner, but I’d never done it. Why not start in your 30s with no help?

I’ll tell you why not: your body isn’t ready for it, and proper shoes are ESSENTIAL. I went into it cold turkey and picked shoes I thought were cool–Five Fingers. While I loved the feeling of nearly shoeless running, I quickly learned it was a terrible idea for me. When my left knee started to get sore just minutes into a jog, I knew something was up. Back to the doctor I went. He diagnosed me with a sprained MCL, due to overpronation. He also suspected a bit of flare up of bursitis.

I was told no running for 2-3 weeks, and when I was ready to start again, I needed different shoes–shoes that better supported my gait and would minimize overpronation. I also incorporated a compression sleeve with side braces when I started running again to help stabilize my knee. Though all of these things helped, my age wasn’t on my side, and I still had some minor discomfort following runs, volleyball games, and sometimes even lawn mowing. That’s when I turned to essential oils for the last bit of relief.

I made a roller bottle that I would apply after any sort of physical activity, and let me say it helps a ton! It includes the essential oils of copaiba, Deep Blue (a doTERRA proprietary blend), and frankincense. Let’s first talk about why I chose those three oils:

  • Copaiba is a powerful antioxidant known to reduce pain and inflammation*.
  • Deep Blue is a doTERRA proprietary blend containing the oils of wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, ylang ylang, helichrysum, blue tansy, blue chamomile, and osmanthus. This combination of oils has an amazing cooling effect and provides great relief to achy muscles and joints*.
  • Frankincense is often referred to as the “king of oils” for its many health benefits. It has a warming and soothing effect that nicely counters the cooling effect of Deep Blue. (Think Icy Hot.)

Become a doTERRA wholesale member today to get the absolute best pricing on certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils available!

The last ingredient you’ll need is fractionated coconut oil. I love Molivera Organics, and I typically order it on Amazon. The especially handy thing about this particular bottle is that it comes with a pump top. That makes it easy to fill your roller bottle! Get it here.

For storage, you’ll need a 10-mL roller bottle. For ease of application, I prefer a steel roller ball vs. a plastic one; it just rolls more nicely. Additionally, I like to store mine in cobalt or amber glass to prolong the life of the oils. When not in use, keep your roller bottle in a cool, dark place. Need roller bottles? Get a 6-pack here or a 24-pack here. Okay, now we’re ready to make your roller bottle!

Ingredients:

  • 15 drops Deep Blue essential oil blend
  • 7 drops copaiba essential oil
  • 3 drops frankincense essential oil
  • Fractionated coconut oil

Make It:

  1. Add essential oils to your roller bottle.
  2. Fill the bottle with fractionated coconut oil.
  3. Cap and shake gently.

To use it, simply roll it on as needed to your achy muscles and joints. When possible, allow to dry before covering with clothing.

Don’t want to make it yourself? Buy it now.

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*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.

Easy Homemade Hair & Body Wash

Ya know what I love most about homemade hair and body wash? I can customize it in any way to suit my needs. Plus, since I know what’s going into it, I know it’s all-natural and free of artificial additives, chemicals, and preservatives. That means it’s better for my skin and hair. It’s a win-win!

What’s in It?

The recipe calls for just five ingredients–and one of them is water! The other ingredients include Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile liquid soap, carrier oil, essential oils, and xantham gum (a thickening agent).

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile liquid soap is organic and vegan. It is a wonderful moisturizing soap, and since I use the unscented one, it’s gentle enough for babies, kids, and folks with sensitive skin. Carrier oils have various benefits depending on your needs. Certain carrier oils are ideal for things like dry skin, oily skin, acne-prone skin, dandruff, and more. Check out this post for more information on choosing the right carrier oil for your skin type and this one on choosing the right carrier for your hair type. Like carrier oils, various essential oils can also have benefits for different needs. Choose the best ones for you by visiting the links above.

Remember also that not all essential oils are created equal. The FDA only requires 5% purity for an essential oil bottle to be labeled 100% pure. I know, right?! Just because the label says it’s pure doesn’t mean it is. Do your homework on the companies and their testing practices to ensure you’re getting pure oils. I only use and recommend doTERRA oils. If you’d like to order doTERRA oils, click here for more information.

The other things you’ll need to make your own hair and body wash are a blender and a 16-ounce dark glass (amber or cobalt) pump bottle. I like these bottles from Amazon. Why dark glass you’re wondering? Essential oils can degrade over time when exposed to light. Storing them in a cool, dark place prolongs their potency. They also have the ability (citrus oils especially) to eat through plastic over time. Plus, glass bottles can be washed, sanitized, and used again and again! Plastic bottles would need to be replaced with each new batch.

Ready to make it? Click the links in the ingredient list for purchase info if you don’t have them on hand.

Ingredients:

Make It:

  1. Blend water, carrier oil, and essential oils in a blender on low for 3-5 seconds.
  2. Add xantham gum, and blend on low for 5-7 seconds or until thickened slightly.
  3. Add liquid castile soap, and pulse (do NOT blend) 2-4 times to incorporate.
  4. Pour into pump bottle.

You’ll likely notice this recipe doesn’t get as sudsy as your typical shampoo or body wash. Without the artificial ingredients that produce the bubbles, that’s completely normal! Rest assured, though, it’s still doing its job.

Don’t want to make it yourself? Buy it now!

Detoxing Your Armpits: The How and Why

A while back, I wrote an article about why you should make the switch to all-natural deodorant. If you’re like me, you understand the risks of anti-perspirants as well as the benefits of natural deodorants. But another issue I ran into was creating an all-natural deodorant that worked.

My first recipe included baking soda, and it worked great for me. For some, including a friend of mine and my husband, though, the baking soda was just too irritating for the skin. Although the odor control was great, they both struggled with red, itchy (almost painful!) skin. Believe me when I say it wasn’t pleasant for either of them!

That led me to more experimenting to get rid of the baking soda altogether. Let me just say that next recipe stunk–pun intended. My husband and I both used the new recipe, which included NO baking soda, and we both found it essentially worthless. Within just an hour or two of applying, we were both pretty stinky to say the least.

My next attempt was a “meet in the middle” recipe. I used about half the baking soda of the original recipe. For both me and my husband, we found the odor control to be “meh” at best. It did okay for a few hours but didn’t last the day. Oddly enough, I also started to get some irritation with this recipe. It wasn’t terrible, but it was noticeable.

Next I tried a roll-on deodorant that used milk of magnesia, baking soda, arrowroot flour, and essential oils. This one was a disaster. Not only did it fail at odor control (despite people claiming they got 48 hours of zero odor!), but it irritated my skin terribly, and I felt like it never fully dried. I tried a similar roll-on with just milk of magnesia and essential oils as well. That one didn’t irritate my skin, but it also didn’t deodorize, and it again never felt dry.

Then, I started reading more and more about detoxing our armpits. At first, I thought it was useful just for folks that were getting the irritation, but I later learned it also helped for people using natural deodorants that found them to be less than effective. Luckily, I had all the necessary ingredients on hand, so I mixed up a small batch.

Ultimately, I switched back to my third recipe (the “meet in the middle” recipe) and incorporated a regular detox. I am happy to report I am now stink-free and irritation-free! For the first week, I used the detox paste daily before showering. Now, I use it once or twice a week. Before we get to that, though, let’s talk a bit more about why we detox our armpits.

Why You Should Detox Your Pits

If you find natural deodorants irritating or ineffective, a regular detox will help to balance you out and fix those problems. Even if you’re not having irritation and your natural deodorant is effective, though, a regular detox has LOTS of great benefits!

You’ll remember if you read my article on why you should switch to natural deodorant in the first place that conventional deodorants and anti-perspirants include a number of chemicals and artificial ingredients. For anti-perspirants especially, the ingredients literally block your sweat ducts, stopping your body from doing a very natural and necessary thing–sweating.

All of these different ingredients mess with the productivity of your lymph nodes, which can also inhibit your immune system. Additionally, many of the ingredients have been linked to various diseases and other medical concerns like Alzheimer’s, infertility, allergies, breast cancer, and (again) a weakened immune system.

A regular armpit detox can not only help your body adapt to natural deodorant more quickly, but it may also pull some of these toxins out of your body that have been stored up after years of anti-perspirant and conventional deodorant use. It’s a win-win.

How often should you do it? Great question! When first making the switch to natural deodorant, I recommend a daily detox for at least 7-10 days. Beyond that, it totally depends on you! For some, a weekly detox is a great way to keep the natural deodorants working well. Others find a monthly detox to be sufficient.

How to Do It

The “pit detox paste,” as I like to call it, calls for just a few ingredients and is easy enough to mix up and store. The primary ingredient is bentonite clay. Personally, I love the Molivera Organics bentonite clay; here’s what they have to say about it:

Bentonite clay produces an electrical charge that attracts and absorbs the toxins, impurities, chemicals, and heavy metals that can build up in and on our skin. It detoxifies the skin, leaving it clear, with smaller pores, and feeling better than ever. It also heals and regenerates skin tissue, improving scars and wrinkles. Bentonite clay improves blood circulation and replenishes minerals in the skin, giving you a youthful, radiant glow. It also clarifies and softens hair, giving you that manageable and touchably soft hair.

As you can tell, it’s of course great for far more things than just your armpits! I have some mild eczema, and I like to use it for that as well. You can also use the same recipe below as all-natural facial mask, skin healer (great for eczema, rashes, and more), or hair mask. For dry to normal skin, let sit 5-10 minutes before rinsing. For oily skin, let sit 10-20 minutes before rinsing. For your hair, let it sit for 15-30 minutes before rinsing.

The only other ingredients you’ll need for the recipe are apple cider vinegar and filtered water. *Note: bentonite clay can react with metals, so be sure to mix and store your paste using a glass or ceramic container and wooden or silicone utensils.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp bentonite clay
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2+ tsp filtered water

Make It:

  1. Mix bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar together in your jar or bowl.
  2. Add water and continue mixing until you reach a creamy yogurt-like consistency. I never actually measured the water; I simply kept adding little bits and stirring until I reached a good consistency.
  3. Store in a cool, dark place.

Use It:

  1. Apply marble-size amount to your underarms using your fingertips.
  2. Allow to sit for 5-15 minutes.
  3. Wash and rinse with a mild soap and warm water.

*I recently discovered some tips on incorporating bentonite clay right into your homemade deodorant to get a daily detox along with the deodorant. I’ll be trying this with my next batch, so stay tuned for results!

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DIY, All-natural Shower Melts

A while back, I posted my bath bomb recipe. If you read it, you know I’m not a bath person. Well, it turns out lots of you aren’t either! I got several questions about an equivalent “shower bomb.” The idea is the same, really. Call them what you want, but I like the name “shower melts.”

In any case, you just drop one on the bottom of your shower, just at the edge of the water. As you shower, the melt will slowly dissolve, providing the same benefits of bath bombs–essential oils for relaxing, energizing, or whatever benefit you’d like; and a great aroma. They also can of course be used as bath bombs; they’re just smaller than your typical bath bomb.

I make these in a great silicone mold (see the picture below) that I also use to make my dishwasher detergent tabs. The nice thing about this mold vs. the steel molds used for bath bombs is that the release is perfect! No fighting to get them out. If you need a mold, I highly recommend this one from Amazon.

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The recipe I use for these is the same as my bath bomb recipe. I highly recommend the use of a digital scale to measure the dry ingredients, but I’ve also provided approximate measurements if you don’t have one.

Ingredients:

  • Dry:
    • 2 ounces baking soda (approx. 1/4 cup)
    • 1 ounces citric acid (approx. 2 tbsp.)
    • 1 ounces salt of choice (approx. 2 tbsp.)
    • 1 ounces arrowroot flour (approx. 1/4 cup)
    • 1/8 tsp mineral mica powder color of choice (or more if you want the colors to be more vibrant; can also be omitted for plain white melts)
  • Wet:
    • 1/2 tbsp liquid oil of choice
    • 1/2 tsp witch hazel (or water)
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or water)
    • 10-15 drops essential oils of choice

Make Them:

  1. Place a medium plastic bowl on your digital scale, and zero it out.
  2. Add the dry ingredients, watching the weight as you go.
  3. When all dry ingredients are in the bowl, remove it from the scale, and stir the ingredients together; I just use my hands. Be sure to break up any clumps with your fingers.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate small bowl. I like to use a small Pyrex glass measuring cup. It makes for easy pouring when you’re ready to add the liquids to the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir wet ingredients thoroughly.
  6. SLOWLY pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Do small amounts at a time, or the dry ingredients will start to fizz up. I like to pour little bits in with my left hand and use my right hand to mix it in.
  7. Using your hand(s), mix the wet ingredients into the dry. In the end, it should be the consistency of lightly damp sand. If you squeeze some together in your hand, it should hold its form but not be hard.
  8. Transfer the mixture into your molds. Press firmly to ensure the mixture will hold together when it’s dry.
  9. Allow the molds to sit for several hours until the melts are dry and hard. In a dryer environment, they should be dry in 6-8 hours (or even sooner). In a more humid environment, drying may take 24 or more hours.
  10. Pop the melts out of the molds when they’re dry.
  11. Store in an airtight container or bag until ready to use.

If you’re using the molds I referenced above, this recipe will yield approximately 15 melts. You can certainly double or triple the batch to make more at one time.

Don’t want to make them yourself? Buy them now!

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Colic Relief with Essential Oils

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Being a parent is tough; there are no ifs, ands, or buts, or about it. Newborns bring with them a whole set of unique challenges. Between middle-of-the-night feedings, constant diaper changes, and all the other struggles that come with newborns, parents are just plain tired. We’re told to “sleep when they sleep,” which in theory is great, but who has time for that?

The time when they’re sleeping is when you finally have a few minutes to clean up the kitchen, throw in some laundry, or just grab the mail. Or if you’re like me, you’re working from home, so those precious minutes when they’re sleeping are when you’re trying to get some work done. Throw colic into the mix, and your stress level doubles. No matter what we do, we just can’t seem to console the poor little one.

Our son was less than a week old when the colic started in. As a first-time parent, I didn’t even know what was going on. I knew he was fussy almost all the time, but I didn’t know why. Then I learned about colic. I had of course heard the word but had no idea what it really was. I still don’t. What I do know, though, is it’s no fun, and it’s often digestion- or gas-related.

Our first phone call was to the chiropractor. My chiropractor has two (now grown) boys of his own, and he has tons of experience with chiropractic care for people of all ages–including babies and young kids. When I called to make the appointment, I was nearly in tears just explaining what was happening. I was ecstatic to get in that same afternoon. By the time we arrived at the appointment, I was desperate for anything that would just calm him for more than a few minutes.

After a brief discussion of the delivery and a Q&A about his current health and behavior, I handed the little man over to our doctor. He made a couple tiny adjustments and passed him back, and we were on our way. It was like a light switch! He went from seemingly nonstop fussy to happy and chill almost immediately. My husband, who had previously been a bit unsure of chiropractic care, was SOLD.

To help our little guy going forward, I also mixed up a roller bottle with essential oils and fractionated coconut oil. For babies under a year, you only need about 4 drops of essential oils in a 10-mL roller bottle. Be sure to use only certified pure therapeutic grade oils–especially on babies and kids. I use and recommend doTERRA oils. Sign up as a wholesale member today, and order doTERRA oils for 25% off retail price!

Ok, enough talk. Ready for the roller bottle recipe?

Ingredients:

Make It:

  1. Add essential oils to your roller bottle.
  2. Fill with fractionated coconut oil.
  3. Cap and shake.
  4. To use it, apply after feeding or as needed to baby’s tummy in clockwise circles around the belly button.

*Lavender and wild orange worked great for us, but you may find other oils are more successful for you and your little one. Other good options to consider are cardamom, ginger, and chamomile. What other natural remedies have you found success with for colic?

Simple Sugar Scrub Recipe

 

SugarScrubSugar scrubs are awesome for exfoliating and deep cleansing. They’re also super easy and inexpensive to make yourself!

You can customize it however you’d like using white or brown sugar (or a combination of both) and essential oils of your choosing. Different essential oils can add not only a great fragrance but also various benefits including relaxation (lavender, cedarwood, and vetiver are great options), invigoration (peppermint or wild orange), acne and blemish fighting (melaleuca, lemon, grapefruit, and lavender), and more.

You can even add coffee grounds, vanilla extract, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice…the options really are endless.

Sugar scrubs are also great for your whole body! I especially love them for my feet during the summer months to smooth and get rid of dry skin, but they’re awesome everywhere including your arms, legs, elbows, and face! The most basic recipe is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (white or light brown)
  • 1/2 cup light oil (I personally use coconut oil, melted but not hot; but avocado and sweet almond are great options as well)
  • 10-20 drops essential oils of choice

Make It:

  1. If using coconut oil, melt in 30-second intervals in a glass bowl or pitcher in the microwave OR in a double boiler over low heat. Allow to cool slightly before adding essential oils and sugar.
  2. For other oils already in liquid form, skip step 1.
  3. Stir together liquid oil and essential oils.
  4. Stir in sugar.
  5. Transfer to a glass jar for storage.

That’s it! Super easy, inexpensive, and full of benefits.

Variations:

  • The sugar simply acts as an exfoliant. Lots of other things can be used in place of the sugar and serve the same purpose such as salt (epsom salt, sea salt, and kosher salt work well), baking soda, coffee grounds (you can even use used coffee grounds), ground oatmeal, and ground rice.
  • Other liquids can also be used in place of the oil. Try raw, unfiltered honey or whole milk or cream (keep in mind if you use milk, you’ll want to store your scrub in the fridge and use it within a week or so). Milk alternatives like coconut milk are also good options. If you use honey, I recommend doing half honey and half oil to keep it from getting too thick.
  • Fresh citrus juices like lemon and grapefruit are great cleansers. You can also use zest from the peel.

What do you like to use in your homemade scrubs? Share your ideas in the comments!

Make Your Own Deodorizing Body Spray

BodySprayNeed a quick spritz to refresh after your workout at the gym, gardening in the yard, or cleaning around the house? This is it! This deodorizing spray is simple to make and can use whatever essential oil fragrances you like. Personally, I like to use a combination of citruses like bergamot, grapefruit, and lemon, but you can literally use anything!

Other great citruses to consider are wild orange and lime. Keep in mind citrus oils are photosensitive, so use caution when applying them if you’re heading out into the sun.

For guys, I like combinations of cedarwood, cypress, Douglas fir, Siberian fir, frankincense, or sandalwood.

If you’re looking for something a bit more flowery, choose combinations of chamomile, lavender, ylang ylang, geranium, or rose. Cinnamon, ginger, and majoram have great spicy qualities.

Beyond the essential oils, all you’ll need is a glass spray bottle (preferably cobalt or amber) and filtered water. Yep, that’s it! I make it in a 4-oz bottle like this one. If you need essential oils, click here to get started with doTERRA today.

Ingredients:

  • 30-50 drops essential oils of choice (use more for a stronger scent!)
  • Filtered water

Make It:

  1. Add oils and water to bottle.
  2. Cap and shake.
  3. Shake before each use, and apply as needed.

What are your favorite scent combinations? Share them in the comments.