Just Breathe…

breathe

Living on Canada’s west coast surrounded by trees, I was more concerned about daughter’s year-round hay fever and the air quality in my home. I thought about outdoor air quality in the abstract, but never about how it directly affected me or my family. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives.

This past summer was a wake-up call.  “Summer 2017 has been B.C’s  worst wildfire season on record, & as of Sept 28, more than 100 fires are still burning.”  Many communities have been impacted, like Williams Lake, 100 Mile House & the Elephant Hill fire, near Cache Creek & Ashcroft. The smoke affected the air quality near the fires but it also affected air quality in different areas throughout the province.  One day this past summer, I was outside in the middle of the afternoon, everything was hazy, the air felt thick, & it was hard to breathe.

I have never thought much about breathing other than if I had a chest cold or sinus congestion. From the moment of our birth, our body’s  “autonomic nervous system” controls our breathing; we don’t even have to think about it. Adults breathe anywhere from 12-20 times per minute. If you do the math, (which I did), that adds up to 17,280 – 28,800 breaths per day (depending on your fitness and/or stress levels). While we can’t-do a lot about outdoor pollution personally (well other than voting in governments that have strong environmental protection plans, writing letters/ petitions to your MP or MLA, and recycling! Sorry that was just a little rant), we can do something about the air quality in our homes.

Things you can do:

  • Get rid of chemical cleaners, laundry detergents, fabric refreshers, and Synthetic Room Sprays/ Plugins.
  • Avoid using Incense & candles with synthetic fragrances, or at least limit their use and get some ventilation into the room. (I am finding that these 2 things really bother me.)
  • Go more natural with your Personal Body Care Products. There are a lot of products available, but educate yourself & read the labels to find the best ones. (No one in my house is allowed to use a certain type of Body Spray because it affects my breathing.)
  • Air out your home frequently. Many manufactured items in your home will continue to off-gas to some extent. Older homes were drafty so this wasn’t as much of a problem, but newer homes are more airtight so it is important to open some windows periodically, especially during the winter months.
  • Consider getting some plants in your home. NASA calls plants part of “Nature’s Life Support System”. Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, English Ivy & Weeping Fig plants are a few to consider; they are fairly hardy & are thought to help with air quality due to the photosynthesis process.

And you can also use Aromatherapy in your home. When using essential oils, cheaper isn’t better, quality is. It is important that you find a reputable supplier that sell pure, hopefully, organic &  unadulterated oils; that your suppliers know where their oils come from & they share all the important information with you. (And if someone wants to sell you “100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils, know that this is a registered trademark of the company. There is no organization that oversees the quality of essential oils.) At a minimum you need to know:

Continue reading “Just Breathe…”

Is it Rosacea?

canstockphoto40922798My recent blogs have been all about Skincare & Essential Oils. I found so much information, that I am continuing this month with a blog about Rosacea… 

This chronic skin condition affects women more than men, & is usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 – 50. Rosacea can be recognized by ongoing facial blushing across the cheeks & on the chin. Your skin may get dry or flaky, feel itchy, or sting. The symptoms of Rosacea have been broken up into 4 sub-categories; they are:

  1. Erythematelangiectatic Rosacea: flushing of the skin, visible or enlarged blood vessels
  2. Papulopustular Rosacea: Swelling & redness of the skin, acne-like breakouts (pimples and/or bumps on the skin, but not black or whiteheads).
  3. Phymatous Rosacea: a thickening or a rough, bumpy texture of the skin; (Men typically get this type of Rosacea, which also may include an enlargement of the nose, a condition known as rhinophyma.)  
  4. Ocular Rosacea: irritated or gritty eyes; eyelids may get red or swollen.

Causes of Rosacea:

The causes of Rosacea are not exactly known. While research is ongoing, what they have found were some common factors that many Rosacea sufferers share.

  • Genetics may be a factor. Some think that Rosacea may run in families.
  • The Rosacea may be caused by an over-reaction of the body’s immune system.
  • The microscopic “Demodex” mite that commonly lives on the skin may be a factor. Studies have shown that some Rosacea patients have a larger than the normal number of this mite on their skin.
  • The body’s reaction & ability to process to a protein called Cathelicidin, may cause the redness of the skin & “determine whether a person gets Rosacea.”  

Common Triggers: Our daily lifestyle choices may also trigger a Rosacea flare-up. These triggers can vary from person to person. These triggers are:

  • Weather conditions like cold & dry winters or hot, dry summers. Sun exposure is also a factor, causing irritation or redness… *** Protect your skin from extreme weather. Apply appropriate lotions to help with dryness & irritation; Sunscreens to protect your skin are highly recommended
  •  Stress may trigger some people’s Rosacea flare ups.  *** Managing your stress is so important in all aspects of our life. Check out my blog on Stress & Self-Care for more info.
  • Extreme exercise along with a lot of sweating may irritate the skin. *** Try less intense forms of exercise. Also, have a cool shower to reduce your temperature & wash the sweat off of your face & body as soon as possible after a workout. 
  • Your Diet may trigger Rosacea; this includes hot caffeinated drinks, spicy food & alcohol especially red wine. *** Keep a food diary to track of your diet, & your triggers. Then modify your diet as needed. This is an important step because everyone’s triggers are different.
  • Make-Up & Skincare may cause Rosacea flare ups. *** Check out the ingredients in your products & avoid abrasive exfoliators. Unfortunately, it is usually by trial & error to find the right products for you. (And you will need to be flexible because your skin triggers can change

When it comes to skincare you may also want to consider using Essential Oils that canstockphoto22894795have been diluted in a Carrier Oil. Like I mentioned in my blogs:  ” Love the “Skin” you’re in…” and  “Love your Skin Part 2 – Carrier Oil.”  Essential & Carrier Oils have different properties that are helpful for different types of skin & skin conditions, which also include Rosacea.

Continue reading “Is it Rosacea?”

Women of a Certain Age…

First Posted May 2017

canstockphoto2737319Women’s lives are full of transitions and Perimenopause is probably one of the biggest.  “It is a time in a woman’s life when physiological changes occur that begin the transition to menopause.” What they don’t mention, is that while you are going thru a lot of physical changes, perimenopause also changes how you see yourself & how you feel in your own skin.
During the perimenopause phase, the hormonal balance in a woman’s body is in flux. The process gradually starts to happen 8 – 10 years before the onset of menopause. What happens during perimenopause is:

  • The ovaries are starting to lose their ability to make estrogen and progesterone and you aren’t ovulating every month.
  • Your periods become irregular and start to taper off until they stop completely sometime around the age of 52.
  • By menopause, most women’s testosterone levels are a lot lower, which can lower their libido.
  • Usually, starts around 40 – 50, but can start in your 30’s or last until your 60’s. Every woman’s experience is different.

I would recommend being proactive and:

  • Get informed about perimenopause/menopause. If you are able, talk to your Mother and/or Grandmother to find out what they experienced. You may have a similar experience, but not always.
  • If your perimenopausal symptoms are impacting your life, talk to your Medical Professional or Naturopath. If you don’t have one, I would recommend finding one that you can really talk to.

There is a lot of talk in the media about different things that you can use to alleviate the physical symptoms of perimenopause. There are also alternatives in the health-food store that you may want to check out. As I mentioned in my “Wise Women” blog, essential oils can help ease PMS type symptoms & they are also useful for many of the physical & emotional symptoms of perimenopause… Continue reading “Women of a Certain Age…”

Heads Up!

First Posted April 2017

headacheI have had headaches & migraines since I was a young teenager. Each year approximately 45 million Americans suffer from headaches. (That is 1 in 6 people). One of the reasons I got interested in Aromatherapy was because I was taking a lot of OTC pain relievers to help with my headaches and they weren’t working all that well; I was also concerned about the long-term effects of pain reliever usage on my stomach. I decided then, that I wanted to go a different route, to manage the ongoing pain that I was experiencing.
With our busy lifestyles, our daily stress can cause a lot of different physical symptoms which can include, you guessed it…Headaches. (Other causes of headaches may include certain foods, air pressure as well as anxiety, lack of sleep, and dehydration). It is important to take the time to manage your stress and to understand your headache and/or migraine triggers.

There are different types of Headaches:

Tension Headaches:
With a tension headache, you tend to feel pain as well as the pressure across your forehead and at the back of your head. You may also find that your neck and shoulders muscles get really tight too.

Migraine Headaches:
If you have ever had a migraine, you know how painful they can be. The main symptoms are feeling the pain on one side of your head, seeing spots or having a sensitivity to light as well as nausea. The duration & symptoms may vary each time you experience one.
Migraines can be triggered by everyday things like stress, foods, too much or too little sleep, hormones, and certain smells.

Sinus Headaches:
If you have had a sinus headache, you will recognize how the symptoms differ from that of a tension headache. Usually, you have some form of sinus congestion, either from a cold, allergies or a sinus infection. While symptoms may vary (You may have a stuffy nose, a cough, or be sneezing) you will definitely feel some form of facial pain and/or pressure.

Hormonal Headaches:
A lot of women have experienced hormonal headaches at some point in their reproductive life. Women who experience PMS may have headaches as one of their symptoms. Dips in hormone levels (Especially estrogen) may be the cause. Hormone headaches can also happen during pregnancy as well as perimenopause & menopause.

TMJ Headaches:
You can get a headache if you clench your jaws either when you sleep, are stressed or if you grind your teeth. There may be pain in your jaw, the Temporomandibular joint, as well as the side of your head. ( Talk to your dentist to get more info.) Continue reading “Heads Up!”

Gut Feelings

First Posted March 2017

canstockphoto19913695Most of us experience stress in our daily lives on some level. When you are chronically stressed or if you add anxiety into the mix, you may experience a whole range of physical symptoms that can include digestive issues; which can make it difficult as you go about your day. Stress can affect every part of your digestive system. An estimated 60 -70 million people in U.S.A suffer from some form of “tummy troubles.”

There is a strong connection between the brain and the digestive tract. Some refer to the digestive system as our “mini Brain”. This is due to the “vagus nerve fibers that carry signals from the gut to the  “real brain”, not the other way around.”    The digestive system is really sensitive to our moods;  “95 % of the bodies Serotonin is found in the digestive tract, not the brain.” (Serotonin is a naturally occurring, mood-boosting hormone.)  Your gut may react if you are feeling stressed or anxious because the brain releases hormones that trigger your fight/ flight response, and this slows down the blood flow to your digestive system.

This slowing of the digestion can cause:

  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Constant feeling of fullness
  • Constipation

Stress can also increase your stomach acid which may cause:

  • excessive burping or belching
  • a queasy stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • diarrhea

You may have one or two of these symptoms or a combination from both lists; the intensity may ebb and flow depending on the stress that is going on in your life, or any anxiety that you may be feeling. Taking steps to limit your stress can be helpful to ease your digestion issues. For more info check out my blogs on Stress or Anxiety.
If you are having ongoing digestive issues, you may want to consider seeing a healthcare professional to get a proper diagnosis and maybe some advice on what to do next.

Other things to try to ease your Tummy Troubles:

  • Ginger, Peppermint, Licorice or Lemon Balm Tea are soothing.
  • Probiotics and/or digestive enzymes may be helpful.
  • Examine your diet; some foods may be an irritant to your digestive tract. (Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Caffeine, and Sugar may be a few to look at.)

Essential Oils for Digestion Issues:

Diffusing essential oils like Neroli, Lavender, Frankincense, Geranium or Cedarwood is very soothing when you’re feeling stressed.
If you are feeling nauseated, try a personal inhaler or smelling salts using Grapefruit, Sweet Orange,  Ginger and/or Spearmint essential oils.
You may also want to consider trying essential oils, applied topically to your abdomen for the digestion discomfort.  Continue reading “Gut Feelings”