Natural Essential Oils and Quality Vitamins May Be More Effective Than Traditional Medicine

Tis' the season to be wheezin' ....  Believe me, as an ER nurse, I saw it all!  And this has been one of the WORST seasons for colds and flu.   AND, with upper respiratory crud comes ear infections, especially for little ones.  As good parents, we can’t stand to see our children sick or hurting, so we take them to the pediatrician.  Unfortunately, the well-intentioned pediatrician only has so many tricks up his/her sleeve – and has written a prescription for that same antibiotic to treat the same bronchitis or ear infection at least 15 times by your 2:00pm appointment.  What does this mean??  The nasty little bacteria that’s causing all the ruckus is getting wise to us, and before you know it, we all need a second round of antibiotics or worse – a third round of a different antibiotic to try to outsmart and kill the little booger.  I have heard this from too many moms this season.

We stayed healthy until a week and a half ago.  It hit and hit HARD.  Nasty wet cough, snotty noses, ear pain, sleepless nights … it got all four of mine!  Then it hit me!  I’m thrilled to say that we just have a little residual congestion and intermittent cough, but we kicked it!  And with NO doctor visits and NO antibiotics. 

Here's a look at what my ordinarily empty kitchen window looked like this week!

While some MDs will scoff at “holistic” treatments, many are coming to recognize the dire need to treat common infections will natural approaches that are smarter than the bacteria.  Ready?  Get set ….. GO!
No, not all vitamins and supplements are created equal.  The gummy bear variety X-Mart brand really and truly is not giving your child a “leg up”.  In fact, all the sugar is actually killing his/her immune system. 
“Bioavailability” is a VERY important concept here.  We’ve all heard the term “whole food”, and it’s is equally important in supplements.  All this means is where are the good parts of the vitamins made:  a lab or in nature?  You can fool your body with man-made or “synthetic” vitamins, but you have to take A LOT of them in order to get a reasonable dose.  Why?  Because the body doesn’t readily recognize and assimilate them. 
On the other hand, if nature made the vitamin (meaning it came from actual food and is in its natural state), your body knows what it is and exactly how to use it. For that reason, those quality vitamins won’t have mega-doses of vitamin D and vitamin A because it’s so easily used by the body, you don’t NEED that much of it.  THAT is bioavailability in simplest terms. 
I’m not an expert, but I’m trying to become one!  Oils are one of the most potent forms of herbal medicine available!  They should not be used without research.  Some are unsafe for pregnancy and/or children.  Some cannot be applied directly and must be used in a carrier oil (like olive oil or fractionate coconut oil).  Some can be taken internally, and some cannot.  All that said, they are potent, and they work when used correctly.

I organize my oils in a tackle/utility box from a home improvement store like this ...

Now when I say “they” referring to essential oils, please understand that the above qualifications apply here, as well – NOT ALL OILS ARE CREATED EQUAL.  In fact, the FDA hardly regulates supplements and oils, so essential oil companies can get away with a LOT.  You are a smart consumer, and you read labels.  Know this:  Labels lie. 
Just because it says “100% Peppermint Oil” doesn’t mean the whole bottle is peppermint oil.  It only means that what oil is in there is 100% peppermint oil.  That’s just one example of how oils are set apart from one another.  It’s easy to buy the less expensive brands, but this is one thing that you get what you pay for!!  Also remember that “potency” is another distinguishing factor.  The better brands truly are more potent because they are purer, so you get more “bang for your buck” and your oils will last longer. 

ONE MORE THING:  The ONLY oils that are safe to take internally should be “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” oils.  This ensures that their method of collection prevents, oh, bug parts for example! 

Here’s a BRIEF overview of a few key oils for respiratory junk and how to use them:
Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO):  The ideal “carrier oil” because it absorbs readily, is non-greasy, and is just plain awesome for the skin.  Coconut oil is a saturated fat, which means it turns solid at room temperature.  “Fractionated” coconut oil has been processed to remain liquid at room temperature.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil can also be used but tends to stay greasy.

Eucalyptus & Peppermint:  These are found in standard chest rubs from the store, but those are in a petroleum base which isn’t very good for you.  These are “volatile” aromatics, meaning they absorb readily into the skin and open the sinuses and airways.  Peppermint may sting sensitive skin and can be added to FCO if needed.  These can be applied to the mastoid bone (the hard bone right behind your ear) to promote sinus drainage, to the chest, and to the feet.  The brand of oil I use has “oil blends” that combine the best oils for a given symptom, making the blend effective and simple to apply because it’s all in one bottle.
**Peppermint can also be added to water and applied topically to the skin for fever.  It will quickly soothe the patient and bring down the fever. 
Oregano:  Be prepared to smell like a pizzeria!  Oregano is a powerful antimicrobial and immune booster.  **DO NOT APPLY DIRECTLY ONTO SKIN WITHOUT A CARRIER OIL!!  Oregano burns!  You can take a high quality oregano oil internally by placing a couple drops in a capsule.  For children, put a small amount of carrier oil in your palm, add one drop of oregano oil, and apply to the bottom of the feet – cover with socks or footed pajamas.  This is a fantastic immune booster.  This is also great for ear infections!!  Mix the same way with carrier oil in your palm and apply around (not in) the ear.  This brings me to my next oil ….

Basil:  Basil is also wonderful for ear infections and the corresponding ear pain.  I have found it easier to apply a drop or two to a Q-tip and gently swab just inside the ear (not the ear canal).  It doesn’t take much!  It will treat the infection and also soothe the pain.  But I also add ….
Lavender:  Ah, what does lavender NOT do?  I love it.  It soothes and relaxes, but it does so much more.  It’s an anti-inflammatory, anti-histimine, anti-microbial ... It’s just good stuff.  So buy a quality lavender oil, and use it liberally!  This can also be added to the bottom of feet or behind the ears to promote rest.

Melaleuca:  No overview would be complete with covering “Tea Tree Oil”.  IF and ONLY IF you have purchased a CPTG (certified pure therapeutic grade) oil, you can take 1 drop internally 3x/day to combat infection.   Just mix in whatever liquid you choose (even cough medicine) or put in a capsule.  You can also put 2 drops on a cotton ball with 2 drops of Lavender and place in the ear for ear infection.  That’s difficult to do with little ones, but works great for adults.

OK, seriously, that’s the most basic & teasing overview on oils for respiratory illness I could possibly write.  There are SO many more oils that are beneficial for a plethora of viruses and bacteria, but there just isn’t room or time in one post.  This is just to peak your interest and get you Googling for the best brands and the endless uses of essential oils!
One more item I can’t skip … 

Grapefruit Seed Extract:  Here are some things to know:
·         It is Nature’s only true “antibiotic,” meaning “anti-life”.  If you take it internally, it will wipe out your good flora (gut bacteria) along with any bad.  So just like a prescription antibiotic, take your probiotics or yogurt!

·         It will burn the skin if not diluted!

·         If you choose to take the liquid internally, the best way is to dilute it in a citrus juice like OJ or grapefruit juice to cut the bitterness. 

·         This is my “go to” for GI bugs!!!  Taken internally, it will kill any stomach bug in your system and fast.  The key is to take it while you can keep it down.  If we are exposed to a stomach virus, we immediately treat our entire family.  Adults can 10-15 drops up to 3x a day, and kids can take 3-5 drops up to 3x a day.  Remember, don’t take it if you don’t have to.  And if you do take it, try to take a probiotic at least 3 hours after to restock your gut with good bacteria.  If you take them at the same time, you’ll just kill the good stuff immediately. 

·         There is a company that makes a great GSE ear drop that also contains Melaleuca oil.  Combined with Basil or Oregano oil, no ear infection stands a chance!
Sugar is an immune-system killer!  Avoid it like the plague.  I know, we feel like it’s the sweet  & motherly thing to do – ginger ale, jello, popsicles, etc.  Anything to give them something that tastes good.  Fight the urge!!  You are actually doing far more harm than any good at all!  If anything, focus on fresh fruits.  If you decide to give fruit juice, try to dilute it first.  Water kefir is an excellent sweet drink to offer that is loaded with health-boosting goodies, and only takes 24 hours to make or “culture”.  Don’t be afraid.  It’s easy.  It’s yummy.  And it’s SO good for you.
Don’t force foods.  The body tends to shut down the appetite naturally so it can focus on the battle at hand.  Offer plenty of fresh fruits and veggies your little likes to eat, and you can’t give too much homemade chicken soup.
Yes, I said it.  Home-made.   :-) Store bought stock isn’t the same.  Just buy a whole chicken from the store and throw it in some water.  Add some onion or garlic if you want (for both flavor and health benefits).  Add some salt and/or pepper.  Let it cook.  And cook.  And cook!  You’re not just cooking the meat.  You’re sucking every bit of nutrients and gelatin out of the bones.  THAT’S what makes it so healthy and boosts the immune system.  Pull your chicken out.  While it’s cooling, add your veggies to cook (carrots, celery, whatever you like).  Add brown rice or noodles if you prefer.  De-bone your chicken and toss the meat back in.  Season to taste and watch your child get healthier with every spoonful!  I recommend making this regularly and having some frozen for such occasions.  I make stock in advance and freeze in ice cube trays or this baby food cube tray.  Then I store it in a freezer bag for general cooking or healthy broth for sick littles.

I certainly hope this has helped spur you on to want to learn more about what makes a quality vitamin, what are the good brands out there, and how to use all these resources to keep your family out of the doctor’s waiting room this season!  Remember that nothing works in a day (or rarely does).  It requires consistency!  Stay with it, do your research, and stay healthy!
Until next time,
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Mama to 4 said...

I am with you - I actually made this switch about a year ago myself. Funny I am set to do a post for natural remedies for colds :)

VickeC said...

very interesting post,you would really have to be up an know what is good for what ailment

Melissa Pezza said...

I am totally with you! I am all about natural remedies to treat ailments.

MikiHope said...

I have always turned to natural remedies when I can--right now, as a matter of fact I am taking lemongrass to help lower my cholesterol-the statin drugs did a job on my muscle function-which, although the doctor said could not be fixed---I fixed it!! COQ10 and AHA--

Susan Liberatore said...

It definitely did! I am a back and forth gal on vitamins. I need to take them regularly. But oregano oil? Now there's something fab!

Jenna said...

Our family has been fighting the stomach flu for two weeks now. It seems we are passing it back and forth. This post has such great timing, because just this week I began looking into and using these products with my family to help us get healthy and STAY healthy! Thanks for the informative post.

Mudpiesandtiaras said...

We have used oils to get rid of warts. Pain free and natural!

B. Wilson @ Windy {City} Wilsons said...

I'm so impressed! Who knew... oregano?

Cara said...

Interesting post! I'm going to have to come back and read it more in depth when I have time or need some of these natural approaches.

sgumer said...

sometimes these natural vitamins and herbs work and sometimes they don't. i have had mixed results, but i am glad they are working for you.

Melissa Tiffany said...

wow- BOOKMARKING!! I soooo need this lately!! Thank you so much for sharing!

Eileen said...

My daughters are helping me find my way around this arena too, after being chronically ill for over 12 years. I have tried everything, believe me. And although I dont scoff medicine for emergencies, in my opinion we are becoming pill poppers and slap happy at surgery when sometime nature can help us best. At least in many cases with PREVENTATIVE care. I have been taking antibiotics off and on for lyme, a missed case. You have to be so careful the good bacteria doenst get killed off and our of balance in the digestive system. That is a huge part of our immune system. Look how many antibiotics we had when young and how many times Rx'd before our kids are 18. I am hoping this area of natural "medicine" will help me turn over a new leaf... perhaps an herb? ha! Good health to ya' all in 2013.

slehan said...

Good info. Home made chicken soup works wonders. I want to get a cool tackle box like yours for my EOs.

slehan at juno dot com

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing this valuable info during this nasty flu/sick season. I'm anxious to do some of my own research now to learn more about essential oils and vitamin treatments.
Thanks, Karen

freddie said...

Wow so much to remember but all worth it. I'm definitely going to look into this.

Tammy S said...

I love the smell of lavender. I didn't know it was also a anti-inflammatory and anti-histimine. I just knew it helped to relax me.

mineral supplements said...

Very interesting topic, thanks for posting.

kathryn said...

This is something I have always been interested in. Thanks :)

Janet W. said...

This is a ton of useful information! Thanks for posting all of this!

Daily Woman (Lacey) said...

Love the all natural oils. I always check out the ones a the Whole Foods Store.

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