Fun in the Sun – Natural Solutions for Summer Fun

natural solutions for summer

I love Summer! Those lazy days with no schedule and nowhere you have to be at any particular time. I love the sunshine and the extended time outdoors. What I don’t love is all those chemicals that we put on our skin to protect ourselves and our family from the sun and bugs. Have you ever wondered if there was a better solution?

Anything that we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream, which in turn enters our entire body. This is through a process called Dermal Absorption which is the transport of a substance (via diffusion) from the outer surface of the skin both into the skin and into the body. So no matter what we apply to our skin, whether they are chemicals or other will become absorbed into and affect our bodies. And think about it, our skin is the largest organ in our body, so when we’re lathering up with that sunscreen or bug repellent we are exposing ourselves to a lot of chemicals we may not want.

Essential oils, combined with other natural ingredients, can provide us with the protection we need without being concerned about what chemicals we are absorbing into our bodies (because they’re aren’t any). When you use all natural ingredients like essential oils, you can support your body in ways that you need and in ways that benefit and may improve your overall health and well being. Not only can essential oils and other natural ingredients protect your skin in the way you desire (your immediate need like sun protection), but you can also benefit from the other properties of the oil you are using as well, like nourishing the skin or soothing and calming benefits.

Natural Solutions for Summer

There are various combinations and recipes out there to create natural products that will protect you in the summer, but all have a basic formula of at least one essential oil combined with one or more other natural ingredients to work together for optimal protection.

You’ll notice that many of the recipes include lavender and peppermint essential oils, which are must have’s for summer time. Both oils have analgesic (may reduce pain), cooling and soothing properties which are very much needed in summer.

Natural Sunscreen

Fact: Out of 2000 sunscreens reviewed, more than 75% were found to contain toxic chemicals.

Some things to consider when creating your own sunscreen are things like SPF and waterproof ability. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor scale and is measured by a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin. For example, if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, then using a SPF sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – so about 5 hours. Also the SPF number represents the percentage of protection that particular product provides. For instance, something with an SPF of 4-5 offers 75% protection.

There are a number of natural oils that naturally have an SPF factor rating. Coconut oil for instance has a rating of 4-5 SPF and contains antioxidants that help protect the skin from harmful radiation. Shea butter has an SPF of 5-6, Avocado oil SPF of 4-8 and Myrrh essential oil an SPF of 15 – plus ultra healing properties to help take care of your skin. Now using one of these by itself is not enough to provide the sun protection you need but used in combination can create a higher SPF and protection for your skin.

This Natural Sunscreen recipe uses a combination of these natural oils as well as beeswax which gives it waterproof ability.

Natural Sun Screen

1/2 c. oilve oilnatural solutions for summer fun

1/4 c. fractionated coconut oil

1/4 c. beeswax

2 tbsp. Shea butter

1 tsp. Vitamin E oil

2 tbsp. zinc oxide

12 drops Helichrysum essential oil

Place all ingredients except zinc oxide and helichrysum essential oil into a glass mixing bowl. Fill saucepan with 2 to 3 inches of water and turn on medium heat. Place glass bowl in saucepan and stir as ingredients melt. Remove from heat and ad the helichrysum essential oil and zinc oxide. Pour into a glass jar and store in a cool place. Apply lotion to skin before sun exposure. Reapply as needed.

 

 

Bug Bite Relief

Fact: Many topical medicated creams for insect bite itching and irritation have side effects causing redness, irritation and swelling.after bite

Ingredients

2 tsp. Fractionated Coconut Oil

10 drops Lavender essential oil

10 drops Peppermint essential oil

OR

15-20 drops doTERRA Purify essential oil blend

Add lavender and peppermint or purify essential oil to 10 ml rollerbottle. Add fractionated coconut oil to top. Secure the lid to your roller bottle and shake until ingredients combine. Apply as needed.

 

Heat Protectant Spray (for hair)

Shield your strands with a heat protectant spray made with Clary Sage and Geranium essential oils. Easy to make, this DIY spray will have your hair feeling full and healthy.

1 tsp. Fractionated Coconut Oilnatural solutions for summer fun

1 tsp. Sweet almond oil

2 tsp. doTERRA Salon Essential Smoothing Conditioner

1 c. water

5 drops Clary Sage

5 drops Geranium

Small spray bottle

Pour half of water into spray bottle. Add fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil, conditioner and essential oils into bottle. Add remaining water and shake well.

To use, apply one spritz to hair and work it through until hair is lightly coated. Style as normal.

 

Natural Allergy Relief

1 drop Peppermintnatural solutions for summer fun

1 drop Lavender

1 drop Lemon

Put into glass of water and drink. May need to increase to 2 drops each depending on person. *Note: not all brands of essential oils are safe to ingest. Research the brand you are using before ingesting.

Or create an allergy relief rollerbottle. Increase the amount of drops to 4 drops each and top with fractionated coconut oil. Shake and roll on as needed across chest and back of neck.

Check out more natural DIY recipes for summer, such as after sun and bug repellent, in part 2 of our Natural Solutions for Summer Fun.

 

Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking

essential oils for hiking

Hiking is one of those summer activities that I really love. It’s one of those go anywhere activities that is always an adventure, an exploration of the natural space around you and different every time. It’s inexpensive and is available to everyone of all ages and all levels. All you really need is a good pair of hiking boots. (Ok I know to hike safely there’s a few more things you should bring – backpack, first aid kit, water, etc. – but in essence your equipment is minimal and it can be an inexpensive but very enjoyable activity).

Hiking also provides us with many health benefits from strengthening your core, lowering blood pressure and improving your balance. Not to mention the benefits of simply being out in nature (like leaving that technology behind!) I always feel fantastic after a day of hiking, whether it’s been a 3 km loop on a flat trail or a good hike up the side of a mountain. I always feel more alive and invigorated than when I left.

What does not always feel so great though are some of the after effects of hiking. From sore achy muscles (especially if this is my first hike of the season), to possibly a few scrapes and bruises or some insect bites. Even though sometimes that nice all over achy feeling can be a good feeling, I like to avoid the “Oh my God now it hurts to move” the next day.

Last summer, quite by accident, I discovered a combination to help reduce these aches and pains and a few other hiking ‘side effects’ while using my essential oils. I had been an avid user of essential oils for the past year and was discovering more and more about their benefits and uses. I just naturally started to bring them along on trips as I usually needed an oil for something. What I hadn’t though about yet was how I could use them specifically for hiking.

essential oils for hikers

I had just done a hike with the kids around Moraine Lake, which is near Lake Louise. It was only a short hike that day, but we had done a bit of climbing and I was already starting to feel achy. Taking what I knew, I quickly decided to take a drop of Frankincense internally* and apply some Deep Blue to my muscles. (I love Deep Blue, I think it is one of the most amazing blends for aches and pains. I love how it penetrates and gives you that nice cooling feeling). Then I carried on with the evening making supper and sitting around the fire. The next day when I woke up I fully expected to be at least a little bit achy. But to my surprise I wasn’t at all! I was thrilled! and happily put my boots on again for another hike with the kids, this time a 12 km adventure.

Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking

This also made me think about what other essential oils would be beneficial for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. So I explored more and as a result give you the Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking (really must have’s don’t leave home without them list).

  1. essential oils for hikersFrankincense – supports cellular health and cellular restructure and rebuilding. Perfect for supporting healing those muscles after a hike or any workout.
  2. Deep Blue – formulated to soothe and cool, this wonderful blend does just that. It reminds me of my Grandpa’s old formula of A5-35, but nicer smelling and all natural! Apply topically where needed.
  3. Peppermint – this one does a lot for hikers. It supports opening up your airways, can soothe aches and pains as well as cools and refreshes (place a drop on the back of the neck) when your feeling hot. It is also a wonderful oil for giving you an energy boost – you know if you need it to get up that last little bit to the top.
  4. Eucalyptus – is the oil of wellness, so great all around for hiking to feel well – will also open up your airways. Apply 1-2 drops topically across the chest.
  5. essential oils for hikersWild Orange – is an uplifting and energizing oil. You probably already feel great cause your outside enjoying the outdoors, but that extra little lift wouldn’t hurt, nor that boost of energy to get to the top! Drop 1-2 drops into your hands, rub them together, cup gently over the nose and mouth and inhale deeply for 30-60 seconds.
  6. Cypress – this one is excellent when hiking at higher elevations as it provides circulatory support. Use 1 drop topically across the chest.
  7. Lavender – eases sore achy muscles, supports anti inflammatory and is great for reducing itchiness from bug bites! Apply topically where needed.
  8. Myrrh – has powerful cleansing properties and when combined with lavender (which is also anti fungal and anti bacterial) in a spray bottle makes an excellent foot spray to use in your hiking boots to prevent foot fungus.

**Essential oils can be used 3 ways, aromatically, topically and internally. Depending on the intended outcome (and kind of oil) will depend on how best to use it.

I use these in a combination of ways from preventative to after care. I usually do my frank and deep blue combination after the hike, but often use my peppermint topically across the chest before heading out and I always take a drop of Wild Orange in my hands rub them together and breathe deeply before I start any day.

Depending on what kind of hike I am doing I’ll use the cypress topically for the higher elevation hikes and I always spray my boots with the lavender myrrh combination before heading out.

Of course I bring a little ‘mini’ first aid kit of these oils (and a few others) so I have them on hand should the need arise – like Lavender for bug bites and Terra Shield for bug repellent. I pack them in small dram bottles which does not take up much room in my pack and I have been very glad to have them on many occasion.

essential oils for hiking

Essential oils are such wonderful things! and can do so many things for us in supporting our health and wellness, both on a physical and emotional level. If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils or would like to give some of these a try on your next hike, contact me and I’d love to help you out.

*Note: not all essential oils are safe to ingest. Depending on what oil it is and what brand (as not all essential oils are created equally due to growing practices, extraction of the oil, etc. There are also currently no regulations or guidelines on producing essential oils in Canada) Ensure you research the brand of essential oil you are using to be sure.

Top 10 Essential Oils for Brain Fog

Have you ever had one of those days when you just couldn’t concentrate? You had a mountain of things to do but just couldn’t focus? It is literally like we are in a fog and we can see to the other side but can’t get out. The good news is we can do something about it. Recently my colleague and friend, Krista Strayer of Flourish Yoga, wrote a fabulous piece on the Top 10 Essential Oils that can be used to clear brain fog. Read on below to discover how you can get focused and get the job done quicker! And comment below with your favorite essential oil to lift the brain fog.

brain fog

Essential oils support brain function on many levels from oils that stimulate the brain, calm the nervous system to relieve the fight or flight response, to oils that help reduce inflammation throughout the the body which can also lead to brain fog.

The Powerful Sense of Smell

sense of smellEssential Oils directly access the brain through the olfactory bulb which is strongly linked to emotional state and memory function. The olfactory system is connected to the hippocampus, brain stem, auditory cortex and many other areas of the amygdala. This means that through our sense of smell we are able to positively influence thought processing. Going beyond the scent of Lavender reminding you of your Grandma it will also help to calm the brain stem and assist with auditory learning.

Crossing the Barrier

Another way that essential oils assist with brain health is through the blood-brain barrier. The brain has a unique built-in protective system that prevents toxins and harmful substances from affecting the brain. The blood vessels are lined with endothelial cells that create a barrier between the blood system of the brain and the rest of the body. Many drugs are not able to cross this barrier to help heal the brain. Essential Oils have this ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and act quickly to reduce inflammation and assist cellular regeneration.

My top 10 Essential Oils for Brain Fog to keep the brain healthy, reduce stress and focus better.  Mix and match these essential oils together to create a brain and focus blend to use in your diffuser and roller-bottles with the oils you have in your cupboard. Don’t use oils internally unless they are CSPG Certified such as Doterra Oils.

The Top 10 Essential Oils for Brain Fog

 

1. Peppermint – Invigorating and Stimulating

brain fogPeppermint is a versatile oil that helps with everything from indigestion, bug repellent, and improved athletic performance. It’s most widely known though for its ability to perk us up and keep you alert. Spritz peppermint on your child’s shirt, sip it in water or inhale from the palms of your hands with a drop of wild orange and frankincense to improve mental clarity and focus.

2. Rosemary – Refreshing and Clearing

brain fogUsed in ancient times by scholars to increase focus but wearing rosemary leaves around the neck. Rosemary contains the chemical carnosol which  reduces inflammation and helps nerve tissue growth. Apply diluted rosemary to the back of the neck or bottoms of the feet to boost memory and brain function. Or diffuse with frankincense and peppermint and while studying.

3. Vetiver – Exotic and Grounding

This grass root harvested in Haiti is known for its ability to ground and soothe emotions. brain fogDiffuse or apply topically with Lavender to the feet, spine or back of the neck to improve focus and concentration. Combine with Melissa and diffuse or apply to pulse points to decrease anxiety and severe stress.

Click here for full article and the other 7 brain fog essential oils…

Chocolate Additions

In my last post, I shared the basic recipe for making raw organic chocolate. Very easy to do, it is a healthy and delicious way to enjoy chocolate without the guilt!

Now here is the fun part! Once you have the basic chocolate made you can add all kinds of things to your chocolates that not only make them delicious, but also add vitamins and nutrients that are good for you! You can ‘soup up’ your chocolates and no one will even know what’s in there.

I make peppermint Christmas trees and add E3 Live to them, which is a form of algae, very high in protein and minerals. It darkens your chocolates but does not alter the taste, no one would ever know it’s in there. And Matthew loves them and as a result asks me to make them all the time!

chocolate additionsMatthew even helps me make chocolates; as it is very easy for kids to do. He loves to experiment so we have made a variety of kinds of chocolate. We make our base chocolate, which is a combination of cacao butter, cacao powder, vanilla bean and sweetener of choice, (see my previous posts for the basics on how to make it and natural sweeteners), then we add different ingredients depending on the kind of chocolate and flavor we want. We make peanut butter cups, caramel cups, orange ginger and peppermint; and this is only what we have done so far – there are many ingredients that can be added to your chocolates to achieve the flavors that you want.

When adding ingredients to chocolate this can be done in a few ways – mix it in, usually with essential oils or powders, you can pour the ingredients on top of the chocolate, after you have poured it onto a cookie sheet, for instance with nuts and seeds, berries, coconut or you can make/ use a filling. The ingredients you add depend on what type of chocolate you want and personal preferences. Here are some ingredients to try.

Nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, cashews.

Goji berries

Seeds such as hemp seeds, sesame, sunflower or pumpkin.

Berries such as goji, incan or mulberry.

High quality essential oils such as peppermint, wild orange, cinnamon bark, etc. to flavor your chocolate. Use only a few drops and use the highest quality oils you can – they are better for you and could alter your chocolate if they are not.

Spices, such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, allspice.

Algae such as E3 Live, Spirulena or Chlorella. All are very high in protein, minerals and a variety of vitamins.

You can create combinations using ingredients that are high in vitamin C like coconut nectar and spirulena, or a high content of magnesium and calcium using ingredients such as mesquite and carob powder with any algae.

Some people even add medicinal mushrooms to their chocolates, which might sound distasteful, but the neat thing is is you can’t taste it, so would have no idea that it is in there if no one told you. We have recently discovered banana flakes as an addition to our chocolate making. They are quite yummy on their own and are delicious in chocolate.

The amounts you add will depend on the size of your batch of chocolate, how strong a taste you want and also depends on the herb/ spice that is being added (some are stronger than others). A good rule of thumb is to start with half a teaspoon, taste it, and then decide if you want to add more. The great thing about making your own chocolate is that there is lots of taste testing to get it just the way you want it!

Once you have what you want you can set your chocolates in a number of ways. I buy silicon ice cube trays in a various shapes and fill those up to set. (tip – you don’t have to fill these all the way up as your chocolates can be quite thick if you do, but you want to fill them up enough so they are not too thin and break when you pop them out of the molds). There are lots of shapes to choose from; squares to hearts and around the holidays stores usually carry fun shapes related to that holiday. I have snowmen, trees and Halloween pumpkins. You can also use any of the candy molds that stores like Michael’s sell, this is where I found the mold to make peanut butter cups, they also have a variety of themes and shapes.

Of course you do not have to set your chocolate in shapes, you can just pour it onto a cookie sheet, let it set, then break it into pieces. You can also make clusters simply by mixing everything together and then dropping them by the teaspoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

For chocolates with fillings, make or find your filling (I use unsweetened peanut butter for my peanut butter cups and make the caramel filling using dates, vanilla, mesquite and lucuma powder), pour some chocolate let it set for a few minutes til firm, then drop or spread the filling over the chocolate, then add more chocolate on top and let set completely.

There are lots of things you can add when making chocolate. Many different flavors and combinations, depending on what you want and what you like. It is also fun to experiment with different combinations, flavors and shapes and it is easy to get the kids involved – they’ll love it. So get in there and try stuff out, worse case scenario is it does not turn out the way you want it and you might have to eat it yourself!