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…”

Winter Solstice

I love the scents of the season from times past, as we make preparations to celebrate the Longest Night of the Year…

Winter Solstice is a 101_0256celebration of the new solar year and the completion of a cycle. It’s when the sun is farthest south, and we in the northern hemisphere, have the shortest day and longest night of the year.

In ancient times, the Romans honored the god Saturn with a “Saturnalia” celebration.  Winter Solstice and Christmas still use some of those same traditions; such as exchanging gifts and decorating with mistletoe, holly, ivy, cedar boughs, and pine cones. (Early Pagans used  “The Holly and The Ivy”  to represent the masculine and feminine energies). And, of course, the food!

I love the scents of the season, whether from burning candles or from diffusing essential oils. The holiday scents of Mandarin, Cedarwood, Pine, and Juniper Berry are some of my favorites.

Juniper Berry (Juniperus Communis) is an evergreen shrub that grows to approx. 6 canstockphoto0127780ft. tall. It has bluish-green needles with small white flowers. The green berries change to a dark blue color after 2-3 years. The essential oil is steam distilled from the crushed, partly ripened berries and has a sharp, almost piney scent. Most of Juniper Berries come from France, northern Italy, Austria, and Croatia.

Juniper Berries were burnt by the ancient Greeks to combat epidemics. and as a cheaper alternative to using Frankincense and Myrrh as incense. The Europeans thought of Juniper oil as a cure-all for cholera and typhoid. Tibetans used it for incense and North American indigenous people burned Juniper in their cleansing ceremonies. Juniper Berry was used in the 10th century by the Vikings to make a type of beer and by the Dutch in the 17th century to make gin.

Juniper Berry adds a crispness to the sweeter floral and citrus essential oil blends. My Winter Solstice blend has traditional holiday oils like Scotch Pine, Cedarwood, and Frankincense, but the addition of Mandarin and Juniper Berry that adds a freshness that balances the blend.

This time of year brings out the best in people, as we give of ourselves to our family, our friends, and to our community. It is also important that we take a moment to nurture our own spirit. To find the balance…

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or a little run down check out the properties of Juniper Berry essential oil.

  • Juniper Berry is contraindicated if you are pregnant, or have kidney issues.

My Blog is for information only & is not meant to  Replace  Medical Advice.
Essential Oils are not for ingestion & should always be diluted before topical use.

References:

  • Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The   International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
  • Davis Patricia.  Aromatherapy an A-Z. New revised edition, Vermilion, an imprint of Edbury Publishing, a Random House Company, 2005
  • Tisserand, Robert, & Rodney Young,  Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition,      Churchill Livingstone, 2014
  • Lawless. Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Thorsons, 2002

http://thehealthyhavenblog.com/2010/12/21/suggested-uses-for-juniper-berry-essential-oil/
http://www.thewhitegoddess.co.uk/the_wheel_of_the_year/yule_-_winter_solstice.asp
http://www.altogetherchristmas.com/traditions/hollyandivy.html
http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/food.shtml
http://www.ginvodka.org/history/ginHistory.asp
http://www.posbeer.org/oppaat/sahti/history.php
http://www.westcoastaromatherapy.com/
http://www.webmd.com/…/ingredientmono-724-juniper.aspx?…724…juniper