Taking the Plunge!

                                                                                     Post contains affiliate links. Sponsored.

I FINALLY took the plunge! No, not a cool plunge into some refreshing pool of water on a hot Southern summer day, though that would feel nice and relaxing. I finally took the plunge after a l-o-n-g time of putting it off and I bought one of the big name essential oil kits.  I have been using essential oils already and was convinced that they had HUGE benefits after my own family’s experience and tons of personal research including not only marketing materials and testimonials from various sources, but scientific research articles as well.  I have bought various brands and began using them aromatically.  We got an affordable but good diffuser like this one.

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If you are unable (or unwilling) to spend that much initially to get started you can do what I did.  I was careful to get better quality oils from what I could tell and read (a lot) avoiding the really cheaper ones that were more likely to be inferior and impure.  (Two or three I managed to get hold of were definitely inferior and had an off odor to them, though.)

I am a label reader!  We have to avoid certain additives and ingredients so it is part of life now to pay attention to ingredients. I have learned that it is important to pay attention not only to what goes into our bodies directly through food and drink, supplements and medications, but also through what goes ON our bodies.  AND what gets INHALED (and does not even get filtered by the digestive system)!

So, while we have had great results in our family and home with my budget diffusers and moderately priced essential oils, I still wondered about the big brands and because of the difficulty of REALLY knowing the background of the oils in these little bottles, I wanted to have the assurance that their quality and purity were backed up. Plus it is easier to have a go to that is consistently trustworthy.  But I was REALLY impressed that the little bottles in my big name kit were SO MUCH STRONGER than the oils we had been using.  For instance:  My oldest daughter uses a personal diffuser in her room to help with some of her chronic symptoms. We had generally used a blend similar to a popular one from the big brand and she had noticed that with the new oils from my big brand starter kit she needed only a few drops (4 – 5) instead of the usual amount (15 – 20)!  I had noticed the same thing!  You really need to be careful not to overdo it with these super strong oils 😃.

However, as I said, we did manage with the more moderately priced oils for a while as I learned more and experimented with more ways to incorporate them into daily living.  If you cannot afford the better oils (better quality in my opinion thus far), you do not have to wait or do without!  You CAN benefit from essential oils! I started with a diffuser (which is plenty powerful for a small area or room) like the one above

I used LOTS of this blend which smells great!
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I used it to diffuse and clean the air and have a fresh smell, plus for cleaning in a spray with water or vinegar and on a wet cloth or sponge as well as in the laundry. (Check out my post which mentions my laundry puppy here.). The components of this blend are comparable to (though not exact) the big brand blend that was so popular.  I used it in a vacation lake house we leased sight unseen which had a leaking washing machine on the lower level when I arrived.  Plus, the house, though appearing clean, had a moldy, musty odor.  After I called the owner and helped the cleaning lady with the water leak cnleanup, I went to work rapidly trying to salvage this vacation by cleaning down the kitchen surfaces with my little oiled cleaning cloth while diffusing it in my diffuser that I had (thankfully) brought from home.  By the time the rest of the family arrived (along with my daughter who has serious sensitivities to mold and environmental toxins), the upstairs was smelling clean and pure and the downstairs was significantly improved. We had no adverse health episodes and a lovely vacation after all.

Using oils topically or even ingesting however, it was important to me to have oils I could reliably count on for purity.   Knowing that the oils would be absorbed I wanted to make sure any I used topically on my family were high quality and to be able to count on their purity.  This is a reason to stay away from the cheapest oils.

I am using my cheaper oils outdoors now, where they can be used liberally and not inhaled so much as if using indoors.  I can use them in diy yard and garden spray for pests (not directly on the edible fruits and veggies, though) and in outdoor cleaners, saving my better oils for personal family and indoor use.  Inhaling some essential oils is a very good way to reap the benefits fast, bypassing the digestive system, but also a way that impurities can make a big impact, as we have learned from experience.

So there you have it! An ultra frugal way to get started with essential oils by just dipping your toes in the water and avoiding the pitfalls of the oils that may do you and your family more harm than good, or at the least turn you off of essential oils so you are cut off from experiencing their benefits due to a negative experience.

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Luxury Soaps & Shampoos Hack with Essential Oils (contains affiliate links)

Life has certainly been proving to be, well, UNCERTAIN and as the mom of this crazy crew, I am torn between my lack of funds and the draw to better items for me and my family.  These are everyday products that you may or may not deem luxury items. But when I know I can get shampoo/conditioner or liquid soap or dish soap at the local dollar store, it seems like a big splurge to buy those for $8, $9, $10, $11 and up, especially when we go through them so fast.
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A bubble bath for my youngest son recently ate up 2/3 of a bottle of wintergreen essential oil scented soap I had received as a gift.  Being deaf, his other senses are a big focus.  He has always sought out and reacted strongly, positively or negatively, to scents.  Good thing he really liked the scent of wintergreen!
In order to get the added benefits of essential oils (a luxury ingredient that is likely missing from my dollar items) I realized can add a few drops of a favorite essential oil or blend or one which seems to compliment the current scent of my soap or shampoo/conditioner as soon as I bring home the bottle. After l add around 5 to 10 drops, replace the lid and shake it up, it is ready to use. Furthermore, I get a quality essential oil that is not necessarily food grade as I don’t think it is necessary to buy the most expensive essential oils on the market for this purpose.  Adjust the amount of drops to your liking.
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For kids who like the spray you might keep the empty bottle and refill with water plus one or two drops of a favorite essential oil (depending on how strong the scent of the particular oil) and shake it up.

For laundry I have begun using white vinegar with a few drops of essential oils in the washer in the fabric softener compartment. My front loading machine can easily develop a bad odor. (I found out this is common due to their design.) The vinegar/essential oil rinse helps take care of it, and no — the clothes do not come out smelling like vinegar. I just add several drops to my vinegar jug and then it’s good to go with a little shake before each use. I also like to add some essential oil drops to my clothes dryer which helps the clothing to come out with a fresh, but not strong, scent.  I did have a little stuffed dog who had some wear to whom I added several drops (about 12 – 15) of an essential oil blend every few loads.  I would just sniff it and if there was no more of the essential oil scent I would add some more. Since my laundry pup went missing I have just been using a wash cloth, but I miss my little pink laundry puppy.
14 Essential Oil Set (7 Synergies and 7 Singles) Includes 100% Pure, Therapeutic Grade of: Sensual , Energy, Germ Fighter, Relax, Immune-Aid, Tranquil, Invigor-Aid, Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Orange, Lemon & Cinnamon. 10 ml each.
I hope these tips help you to enjoy adding essential oils to upgrade your budget products and keep the wallet happy as well.

God Already Knew!

Sometimes I am struck with the realization that God has been working out certain things in our lives.  Does this ever happen to you?  It is really an awesome, faith-building moment.  Yet, I sometimes have a twinge of guilt in a related realization – – that I hadn’t really trusted him enough.  But God knows. He knows already that I am weak and a worrier.  And, he points out the little bit of faith I did have to keep going and the little bit of trust I did have to look to him and follow, even if it took a BIG push.  Then I look back and see that God already knew and my striving and worrying did nothing to help his work, only (and this is where I feel that guilty twinge again) hinder his work, or at least hinder the joy that could have been greater if it weren’t for my bad attitude, etc.

I was struck recently by the fact that while I didn’t know my F.A.S. (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) affected children would have an auditory processing problem that could be aided by using sign language, GOD KNEW!  God knew their needs and what they would need long before I did and he gave us a deaf son who would need us to all learn sign language to facilitate communication with him.

Years ago when I first began homeschooling my children, one beginning fourth grade and one beginning first with a toddler in tow, I thought I was doing it for my kids and their needs; I didn’t know how much I needed to learn and how God would use homeschooling to teach me, But GOD ALREADY KNEW!  He knew that the best Bible-based curriculum and resources, even my search for them, would teach me as well as my children, amazing truths  about God, his Word and living a Christian life.

When God saved my oldest daughter’s life at birth, again after her two month old vaccines caused a bad reaction, and then protected both of us when my car caught fire, I didn’t know that it was preparation for a life-threatening, chronic illness and her facing fear of death many times over, but GOD ALREADY KNEW!  He knew we would both need to reach back to those earlier times and see how his saving hand had been on her from day one.

When we found out about a crazy sounding genetic issue (MTHFR) this same daughter had that was a culprit in her ongoing health problems, we didn’t realize that learning about and addressing this issue would not only help her and possibly our biological family members, but our adopted family members as well.  But GOD ALREADY KNEW!

There are other instances where I can look back or have a sudden realization at God’s hand and his plan being worked out and coming together, knowing He knew all along how certain things would fit together down the road of our lives.  This gives me great comfort, even in the situations that seem difficult, and reminds me to trust God even more.  If you don’t see God’s hand in your life, or in the lives of those close to you, try asking him to show you or remind you of a time that he knew how things would work out down the road before you.  Ask him to show you that he really does know what you need and can work out even huge problems for your good. Then wait (expectantly) for God’s revelation!

By the way, God already knew that you and I would break his laws and sin even before we were born and he made a plan to work things out for our good, a plan for Jesus to come into the world and be the perfect sacrifice for you and me, and all of mankind, so that we could be saved and have an everlasting relationship with him.  He loves us so much.  May you be reminded of that love this Sunday!

Putting It All Together — What We Have Learned & Current Treatment Plan (with changes)

Since I was unable to cut and paste the following update to the You Caring page we have been using for fundraising for and updates on our oldest daughter’s health needs, I decided to post it here (rather than rewrite it) and just post the link over there.  You may read more on her battle with chronic illness on the You Caring site (thanks to them for making their site available and FREE!) at www.youcaring.com/healingchristina  and that is linked to in the sidebar.

Putting It All Together – – What We Have Learned & Current Treatment Plan (with changes)

From our time in Florida at the Sponaugle clinic we learned that not only did Christina have Chronic Lyme Disease, but a couple of other things were MAJOR reasons she had been unable to get well and had even gotten worse after a brief period of doing better since antibiotic treatment:
(1) MTHFR genetic defect (specifically homozygous C677T) which is a block in the methylation pathway of each and every cell keeping her from being able to fully process folic acid and other problematic results, and
(2) HIGH level of molds, especially the “Black Mold” aka “vomitoxin” (tricothocene mycotoxicosis) plus a few other infections (Bartonella, which we suspected and the protozoa Rheumatica)
Together, this toxic mix had caused all of her hormones to bottom out, leaky gut, all kinds of bodily levels to be way off from where they should be (some low, some high), keeping her body from using nutrients effectively and from expelling (detoxing) cellular wastes due to a depletion of and inability to produce the body’s major antioxidant – glutathione. Her liver was failing and her heart was weak. Her digestive system was wrecked from the mold, antibiotics, etc, and her severe weight loss was alarming to say the least, with muscle wasting and bone loss, also making it even more difficult to treat do to her fragile state. It allowed other infections to flourish.  In a nutshell, Christina had numerous intertwined critical health problems, but thankfully, Dr. S. knew what tests to run as well as how to interpret them and treat accordingly!

Though the latest testing showed marked improvements, a high benzene level was something new. It turns out that the previous test results had cut off the benzene result on the reporting so it may have been there all along. Without any large exposures, we concluded that it must have been from lower exposures over time such as from laundry detergents, art supplies, etc. and are trying to avoid all exposures as much as possible. Of course, it is not an ingredient that is always listed clearly on labels.
At this point, after being home from the clinic for a while, we are tweaking Christina’s treatment plan based on what we believe are her current needs, things learned, and seeking to follow God’s leading. Continuing to focus on specific symptoms while supplementing for the genetic issue and deficiencies as well as overall healthy living, toxin avoidance and rebuilding of health and body while detoxing from further toxin build-up are main points. Below are some specific things we are implementing. I tried to group things according to the specific health issues but of course there is significant overlap. We will adjust as we go and as we continue to wean her off of prescription meds, using appropriate alternatives as needed. Christina continues on a very pure vegetarian diet that is gluten-free and dairy-free without any highly processed foods like enriched flours or processed sugars. (She specifically wants to avoid gelatin, dairy, wheat/gluten — and now folic acid — in supplements/meds.) Getting the calories needed is still a bit of a struggle but so much better than before when she couldn’t keep anything down or at times could barely swallow!

 

I. For the MTHFR genetics (homozygous C677):
a. Glutathione supplementation is still a big necessity. So is avoiding “folic acid” and so we have changed out some of her supplements, including the Essential Pro Glutathione and are now using one without folic acid.(see below.) (We have left off Cellgevity, but are considering adding it back or another supplement from the same manufacturer or another “precursor” supplement as some say oral glutathione does not make it through the digestion process in useable form, yet Christina does tell a difference so it must be working somewhat!)
b. Bio-available Folate is still highly necessary so we continue to use a methylfolate supplement to bypass the defect of the methylation cycle (5 MTHF).
c. Folic Acid avoidance as noted above, is something we have begun to make a point of after learning more about how dangerous it is in the general population, and specifically in those who do not break it down well due to the genetic defect in the methylation cycle and how prevalent it is. A long-time supplement we traded in was Juice Plus (a foundational whole food supplement for about five years) having gotten the official word from the company that they add the synthetic folic acid — we have switched to the Lightening whole food supplements that are similar to Juice Plus but do not have the added synthetic folic acid. The rest of the family can take the Multicolor Lightening, but at present, Christina is only taking the Blue Lightening (comparable to Juice Plus’ purple Vineyard Blend that was so good for inflammation), as she is continuing to avoid all wheat, as well as gluten, and the Multicolor Lightening has wheatgrass in it which she chooses to avoid due to possible cross-contamination of gluten.
d. SAMe, MethylB12 – are still used, plus cyanocobalamin form of B12 that seems to work better than methylB12 alone.
e. Omegas, Zinc (with copper),and Magnesium Taurate – are supplements we are continuing except we traded the Super Critical Omegas for a vegetarian one and the Magnesium Taurate to another brand. And since she can never seem to get enough magnesium, and cannot bathe in Epsom salts, I hope to get a foot bath asap to enable her to have Epsom foot baths without the challenge of keeping her from chills. I have read that magnesium is better absorbed through the skin as well. We found the Zinc from the clinic already had copper so there was no need for a separate copper. Those had been stopped while in Florida as we had traced her after lunch symptoms to those two supplements. We have now added back in the one zinc supplement that already contains copper. (Pumpkin seeds have high mg and loads of other good stuff and she enjoys snacking on them, too!)
f. Niacin – (added) to use in case of symptoms of overmethylation as suggested by Dr. Ben Lynch of MTHFR.net (He has a ton of information and supplements specifically formulated for MTHFR defects. Dr. Amy Yasko has a lot of information available online in her Autism resources as well.) We have not had to use this yet but would temporarily stop the methylfolate as well when indicated.

II. Mold/Leaky Gut/GI symptoms:
a. Gluten-free, dairy-free diet is something that Christina was already doing. Additionally, she eats a vegetarian diet largely free of sugar, most grains, and most additives. This strictness is a fine line to be careful but not obsessive and fearful about, and she is doing an amazing job with it all.
b. Fluoride/neurotoxin avoidance in foods, water, dental products – we had already left off fluoridated toothpaste (and her teeth are doing amazing now, even after baby teeth were cavity-prone and this disease brought on severe and prolonged vomiting that caused us concern about the damage it did to her teeth), but we are working harder to avoid it after learning more about how prevalent it is and that it is a neurotoxin! (She/we already avoids the neurotoxin, MSG and a slew of other additives.) We are blessed to have local artesian wells from which to obtain fresh water! Bottled water is typically lower in fluoride as well. I hope to get a filter for bathing to filter chlorine and fluoride to avoid skin absorption. No toothpaste with fluoride or tapwater if possible, although it is difficult not to cook with it, we are trying not to drink it.
c. Probiotics – continuing with Ultimate Flora 50 Billion that Dr. S. recommended and that we have used before.
d. Intestinew – brand supplement (capsules instead of powder) with glutamine, etc. to help continue heal the stomach, intestines recommended by Dr. S.
e. Enzymes – recommended by Dr. S.
f. Chromium Ultra – recommended by Dr. S. (includes a small amount of niacin)
g. Juicing fresh fruits, vegetables – to take it easy on digestion (about 5-6 times a week for now) as well as getting concentrated nutrition. (It takes a lot of fruit/vegetables to get a little bit of juice, but worth it!)
h. Aloe – capsules
i. Daily fresh air – as much as possible
j. Essential oils diffused in air – to help clean air and for therapeutic benefits
k. VOC and toxic chemical avoidance – With mold it appears that people become sensitized to even low levels and brief exposures to environmental toxins that others may not seem to have a problem with so that it has become necessary to avoid many cleaning products (and places where they use them) – – we use more natural cleaning products, hygiene products, etc. (Mrs. Myers and Seventh Generation brands are good.) We do not eat out often but learned to use the drive-thru (even for the rest of the family) to avoid restaurant cleaning products, especially avoiding public bathrooms! I plan to take along filter masks when we do have to be away from home for a prolonged time.

l. HOUSE –We are taking measures to keep from enticing mold growth, an ongoing process in a humid, Alabama environment.

III. Lyme, Bartonella, Protozoa Rheumatica – Christina’s CD57 marker showed her immune system was working and clearing the Lyme while at the clinic (without antibiotics!). We are not treating for these specifically except as to support her overall immune system and health, plus avoiding anything that would over-burden her immune system. While at the clinic they could monitor Christina’s progress with IV treatment and slow it down as needed. Even then she could not go too fast with the IV detox and never even got to the “killing” phase, yet her immune system did clear some of the infection as her health improved. (The IV aminos were a big help, bypassing the digestion with pure nutrition.) With all the toxic build-up and die-off from her own immune system killing infection we want to avoid moving too fast and risk overburdening her vital organs. We want to continue supporting her immune system, keep her detoxing and build up her body through nutrition, rest and limited (for now) exercise. (By the way, the Bartonella appears to be gone!)

IV. Hormone imbalance: (This is tricky and we are tweaking as we go.)
a. Prescription Progesterone – we will need to get a new prescription for these capsules or use an otc cream. (Christina dislikes the creams.)
b. Prescription testosterone cream – we will need a new prescription if she continues to need this – it has helped with temperature regulation so she is not chronically cold or alternately having hot flashes!
c. Prescription estradiol patch (Minvelle) – we will need a new prescription if she continues to need this (helps with anxiety).
d. Prescription DHEA – have been without this a long time – we may need a new prescription or alternative.
e. Prescription Armour Thyroid – No longer using as of this week; I am looking for a vegetarian alternative to this – trying herbs (see below)
f. Growth hormone injections – not able to take these any longer (plus the insurance special pharmacy will no longer fill this) we hope as overall health improves her natural production will go up.
g. DIM – helps with testosterone processing
h. Chaste Tree berries –(added) hormone help
i. Rhodiola – (added) hormone help, oxygen help

V. Sleep:
a. Serene and Benadryl as well as Dronabinol (though not primarily for sleep, but appetite) were too strong for her and discontinued either before or after leaving the clinic. We tried melatonin but it was also too strong. (The prescription sleep medication had been dropped early on while at the clinic as it was much too strong!)
b. Valerian – (added) for sleep, pain (Valerian Super Calm herbal blend)
c. Chamomile – (added) for sleep, anxiety
VI. Pain and Anxiety (in addition to those above):
a. Turmeric (added) pain (plus other herbs below)
b. Prescription clonaxepam (generic Klonapen)for anxiety, pain
c. Advil – pain (using less and less)
d. Yarrow – to use for stomach pain
e. White willow – for pain, fever as needed
*Christina does not take much for pain as she has had so much over the years that not only was not alleviated with even strong pain meds, but made worse due to the side effects. We have found herbals seem to be a better balance of pain relief without unwanted side effects.

VII. Other:
a. Monolaurin – antimicrobial, immune boosting
b. Dandelion – Pain, appetite, digestion, liver support (alternate with Milk Thistle for liver support)
c. Morenga – amino acids (complete protein), antioxidant, magnesium, calcium
d. Prescription Riluzole (generic Rilutec) – medicine for ALS symptoms (Lowered dosage after original was too strong, tapering off slowly. Replacing with Ashwaghanda Root.
e. Essential oils diffused in airThieves – type blend; oregano, lavender (adding frankincense); hoping to use some EO in foot baths with Epsom salts for better results
f. Protein powder smoothies – Vega brand – added nutrition
g. Vitamin D3 – to resume (for energy)
h. Peppermint throat mints – (not the sugary candy, but strong herbal mints for throat, tummy pain)
i. Red root – to add for antifungal properties to treat mold
j. Evening primrose – hormone balance

*We would like to have a new round of testing done, to help ascertain whether further IV treatments are needed but are currently paying off some lingering medical bills and had to postpone our scheduled trip to the clinic in Florida. We may look to see if another doctor will run the tests if it appears we are unable to continue with Dr. Sponaugle in Florida.  At this time Christina is making good progress with which we are delighted and tremendously grateful to God for.  Special thanks to each of you who have continued to support her (and us) in any way through this long ordeal and may God richly bless you! Anyone who wants to see more of the background of Christina’s chronic health problems can check out the You Caring link in the sidebar.