Why Exercise May Be the Best Medicine

There is no debate, regular exercise is vital for maintaining health and wellness.  Again and again, research confirms that everyone can benefit from physical activity.  Want to live a long, healthy life?  Your chances of doing so are far better if you regularly work your body.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, regular physical activity has been shown to reduce mortality rates of many chronic diseases. Additionally, many illnesses and health ailments can be improved, or even prevented, by engaging in a regular physical activity.

1. May Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by endless fatigue that is not satisfied by sleep or rest.  The disease is, by definition, very debilitating and some people suffer from symptoms for years. Most people do not find relief from pharmaceuticals, and even alternative remedies fall short.  However, as part of a comprehensive approach, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital recommends exercise therapy for improving fatigue and secondary symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

2. Puts Insomniacs to Bed

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that exercise improved insomniac tendencies in persons with major depressive disorder.  Which symptoms?  Most of them.  Participants in the study reported improvements in mood and sleep quality and researchers concluded that exercise therapy was a recommendation-worthy therapy.

3. Supports Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a very individual and personal experience; you should always consult with your healthcare provider before making any drastic lifestyle changes when you’re pregnant so take this as food for thought.  Research has shown that pregnant women who participate in mild to moderate exercise have better heart and lung fitness, are less likely to experience urinary incontinence, have fewer symptoms of depression, gain less weight, and have a fewer incidence of gestational diabetes!

4. Softens Aging

Diet and a sedentary lifestyle are huge contributors to the steady, physical deterioration that is often associated with age.  Don’t settle for it!  Evidence repeatedly shows that improvement in physical fitness lessens the risk of age-related diseases, including mental diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

For a low-impact, easy-to-do routine, many older folks enjoy Tai Chi.  The Tufts University School of Medicine reports that Tai Chi can help improve rheumatological conditions by enhancing fitness, strength, balance, and overall physical function.  Those are just the physical effects.  Mentally, Tai Chi has been cited a stress reliever, anxiety reducer, and quality of life improved.

5. Improves Mental Health

One of the largest, recurrent benefits of regular exercise is that it reduces stress and improves mood. This can be helpful for everyone, but especially persons with depression for whom pharmaceuticals do not work or are not preferred. The Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia confirms that people who maintain a healthy heart and lungs into and through their middle ages report less incidence of depression. However, it’s better to start early.  Research conducted by the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section at the University of Michigan found that adolescents who suffer from depression showed significant improvement after engaging in aerobic exercise.

The Netherlands’ Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience conducted a clinical trial to examine the effects of exercise on patients with schizophrenia and discovered that exercise therapy performed at least twice a week increased cardiovascular fitness and reduced symptoms of schizophrenia, including depression.

6. Fights Antidepressants’ Libido Depression

The University of Texas at Austin conducted a study involving 47 women who reported sexual arousal problems caused by antidepressants.  Researchers had the women watch three erotic film clips during which time they measured genital arousal.  Before two of the sessions, the women exercised.  The results? Exercising prior increased genital arousal and sexual satisfaction.

7. May Help Menopausal Mood Swings

Hormonal changes and mood swings are often most severe during menopause.  The University of Granada’s Faculty of Health Sciences recommends that menopausal women may benefit from physical exercise, which lessens the physical and psychological changes associated with menopause.

8. May Improve Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammation and degeneration of the central nervous system.  This will often affect physical activities (like walking) and cognitive functions like attention and memory. According to the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, because exercise combats inflammation and neurodegeneration, it may be therapy worth investigating for sufferers of multiple sclerosis.

9. Promotes Positive Recovery

Traumatic brain injuries often include a long and difficult recovery process. Unfortunately, depression can creep in.  As part of an approach to dealing with the difficulties, Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center advises that exercise may be an appropriate method to boost the quality of life for persons who have sustained traumatic brain injuries.

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Recommendations for Stress Management

We all have stress and stressors in our life. Although stress has a negative connotation, it’s actually not inherently bad. Stress challenges you. It makes you tougher and more resilient to adversity. It helps you grow stronger and, hopefully, provides an opportunity to learn. This is true of both psychological (mental) stress and physiological (physical) stress.

However, stress needs to be handled properly; when external stress becomes internal, it affects the body. Prolonged, uninterrupted exposure to stress gradually erodes the immune system, inhibits the body’s detoxification processes, and makes it difficult to experience good health. Even generalized stress, like worry that nags at the back of your mind, has the same hormonal, neural, and physical effects on the body.

When Psychological Stress Becomes Physiological

Stress produces a physiological response—your heart races, your face and body feel hot, you sweat, and your breathing may become shallow and fast. Inside your body, your muscles tense and prepare to act. Your blood pressure increases, your pupils dilate, and you become hyper aware of your surroundings. This phenomenon is called the fight-or-flight response, and it’s an evolutionary advancement that developed to help you survive when your life is at risk. Although the stressors of modern humans look less like wolves and more like an overstuffed agenda or an upset client, your body still responds to these situations as if they come with claws. When stress is excessive or constant, it pushes the fight-or-flight response to be on all the time; that overactive state can negatively affect your physical health.

How Stress Management Affects Your Health

Your mental state, mood, productivity, and health are all affected by routine exposure to excess stress and anxiety. It can lead to an imbalanced immune system and set the stage for the development of many chronic diseases. Thus, it stands to reason that when you find effective ways to manage stress, not only will you improve your standard of living, you’ll reduce the negative effects of stress on your health. Let’s look at a few of the health benefits of effective stress management.

Preserves DNA Integrity

Telomeres are the stretches of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes from degradation—similar to the cap on the end of a shoelace. Effective stress management helps you maintain the length of your telomeres and protects the integrity of your DNA. Although telomere shortening is a normal part of aging, stress accelerates the process. People who are constantly stressed out, or who had stressful childhoods have even more exaggerated shortening. You might be 35, but an excessively stressful life could cause you to have the telomere length of someone much older.

Encourages a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

When you’re not stressed out, you’re better able to plan for a healthy lifestyle and carry out those plans. For example, if all your mental energy is spent worrying about a house repair, it’s easy to forget to pack a healthy lunch and put yourself in a position where the only convenient option is unhealthy food. It doesn’t stop there; people who are chronically stressed tend to be more reactive than proactive and engage in unhealthy habits like overeating, drinking, smoking, avoiding physical activity, and not sleeping enough. The effects of unhealthy habits compound quickly and encourage even more stress.

Promotes Weight Maintenance

If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight, stress management needs to be at the top of your mind. Cortisol levels rise with stress and increase insulin levels and cause blood sugar to drop. This is the catalyst that sets off your appetite and produces cravings for unhealthy food. Long-term stress often leads to weight gain since the more stressed you feel, the more likely you are to overeat.

Benefits Cardiovascular Health

Effective stress management has the potential to impact cardiovascular health in two ways. First, many activities that reduce your physical response to stress—such as exercise—are, in their own right, an important part of maintaining heart and blood vessel health. Additionally, stress can elevate blood pressure and heart rate; this degrades cardiovascular health in such a way that stroke or heart attack become real possibilities. Managing stress can help you avoid some of those risks.

Supports Digestive Health

Maintaining a calm nervous system is essential for proper digestion. When the fight-or-flight response activates, it halts all nonessential, energy-intensive processes, including the rest-and-digest response. Not only is digestion one of these processes, acid reflux, ulcers, diarrhea, and constipation is common effects of stress on the digestive system.

Promotes Normal Immune System Health

Stress puts the immune system on high alert. When the immune system is on edge, its normal operation is disrupted and it’s unable to fully focus where it’s needed most. Studies related to wound healing reveal that psychological stress impedes the body’s ability to repair itself.

How to Manage Stress

It may be possible to reduce the amount of stress in your life, but it’s really difficult to eliminate stress entirely; that’s why regularly managing stress is so important. Different stress management techniques work differently for different people. For you, it may mean making time to do the things you enjoy, exercising, getting enough sleep, or taking regular breaks. Let’s look at a few of the most effective ways you can manage or circumvent stress before it starts.

Time Management

With good time management skills, there’s a lot you can accomplish in a day. But, be mindful of your capabilities. A jam-packed schedule may look ambitious but if completion isn’t realistic, you’re only setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. When you’re planning and prioritizing, give yourself realistic time frames and plan breaks to collect your thoughts and prepare for your next commitment. Add a buffer to your plans so unexpected setbacks don’t derail your schedule.

Take a Break

Working lunches have become the norm in offices everywhere. Although the effort to stay productive is well-intentioned, sometimes it’s better to step away. Your brain needs an occasional break and trying to power through mental exhaustion only hurts performance. Taking a break to refocus and recharge is key to dealing with life’s daily stresses.

Exercise

Exercise is the most underutilized stress reliever. Many people complain about not having time to exercise, but what they usually mean is that they’re too exhausted to exercise. Ironically, working out helps you feel more energized because it releases feel-good neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Not only will regular exercise provide an amazing outlet to “burn stress” like it’s extra calories, but it’ll also help you sleep better.

Meditation

Meditation has been practiced in the East for millennia and offers real, measurable benefits. Comparing MRIs and PET scans of people who meditate regularly to people who don’t show a remarkable difference in their brains. Meditators have more gray matter in the hippocampus—the area of the brain that controls the autonomic nervous system. Many meditation techniques relieve stress, help you control your emotions and thoughts, tune out distractions, and improve your memory and ability to think. It’s also my favorite way to relieve stress. Try it!

Deep Breathing Exercises

Feeling stressed can lead to shallow breathing. Not only does shallow breathing restrict you of the very oxygen you need most, but it also feeds the stress response and makes it worse. Deep breathing exercises are an excellent way to hit the reset button on your breathing and relieve feelings of anxiety. When you’re feeling stressed, take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose. At the top of your inhale, leave your throat open and continue to inhale just a little deeper for a second or two. Then, slowly exhale to the count of eight. Repeat this nine times, elongating the duration of your inhales and exhales as you continue.

Cultivate a Healthy Gut

Some probiotics help regulate the response to fear and anxiety. In fact, people who have a healthy, diverse gut microbiota appear to be more resistant to some of the negative health consequences of stress. You can cultivate a strong, robust community of bacteria by incorporating fermented, probiotic-rich food, such as kombucha, into your diet. Alternately, a daily probiotic supplement can provide a steady supply of probiotics—think of it as a multivitamin for your gut. I recommend FloraTrex™. It features a diverse range of health-boosting probiotics to help keep your gut in balance.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential to cognitive function. Too little sleep worsens stress by affecting memory and the ability to focus. There’s really no question about it—a good night’s rest is the best way to reduce the feelings and physical toll of stress. To fall asleep more easily, wind down a few hours before bed. Put your devices away and turn off the television. Treat yourself to an herbal tea and meditate to ready your mind and body for a good night’s rest. Sometimes, despite best efforts, sleepless nights happen. When I’m feeling a little short on sleep, I find that NeuroFuzion® helps keep me alert and in good spirits.

Take a Mental Health Day

Taking a day to rejuvenate your mental and physical well-being can be instrumental in achieving mental and emotional balance. Sometimes a recharge is all you need to be a better, more productive person. Schedule and plan for longer vacations, too. If you can, consider leaving the country and experiencing other parts of the world; one study found that vacationers who traveled abroad came back happier.

How to Curate a Tranquil Environment

Performing stress management techniques in a tranquil environment of your own can amplify their benefits. There are many ways to curate a comfortable, soothing space. Here are my top recommendations:

  • Let in as much natural light as possible. Harsh, inadequate, or irritating lighting can exacerbate stress levels.
  • Surround yourself with plants, even a simple succulent or lucky bamboo on your desk will do. Adding a little greenery to your surroundings helps relieve stress.
  • If noise is an issue, get a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to shut it out. Play relaxing music or white noise to de-stress.
  • Aromatherapy is an effective means of reducing mental stress. Add a few drops of essential oil of bergamot, lemon balm, lavender, or sage to your humidifier. If you don’t have a humidifier, rub a drop between your hands and inhale.

Sustainable Changes for Stress Management

Incorporate stress management techniques into your day, every day; view it with the same importance as eating. Don’t wait until things pile up and you feel overwhelmed. One of the best ways to be proactive is to identify a few areas for change and commit yourself to improving. If you don’t get enough sleep, be honest with yourself about what’s standing in your way and change it. If you don’t get any exercise, start by taking an evening walk in your neighborhood. Do a little every day to build the momentum that will serve you well over the long-term.

How Can Frankincense Oil Aid in Natural Skin Care

Frankincense is a special sap from the Boswellia tree and it’s had a wide array of cultural applications for over 5000 years. Boswellia trees are hardy trees that yield the valuable resin when the bark is “striped”, or slashed open. It’s a process that’s done by hand to ensure the highest quality resin. Frankincense originated in Africa, India, and the Middle East, with most of the supply coming from the nation of Oman. Trade grew extensive and frankincense eventually became so prized that it was one of the three gifts presented in the Christian Nativity story.

Frankincense has been used in a myriad of ways and, in present times, it’s a popular ingredient in topical skincare products. In this article, we will explore some of the historical uses of this valuable resin, as well as its role in skin care. But first, let’s answer a simple question.

What Is Frankincense?

Frankincense is an aromatic, hardened tree resin. It contains several unique compounds, most importantly boswellic acid. The hard frankincense resin can be refined into an essential oil that offers remarkable health benefits, including boosting the immune system. The regional composition of frankincense is so distinctive that you can trace the source resin by analyzing the oil.

Traditional Uses of Frankincense and Frankincense Oil

Some of the most common uses for frankincense have been cultural or religious in nature. Because of its pleasant aroma, frankincense has been used as incense for centuries. The first recorded use of incense was in Fifth Dynasty Egypt (2345 – 2494 BC). Frankincense was also used in religious ceremonies in the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece. Eventually, its use spread to countries like China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Frankincense saw cultural use in Taoism, Buddhism, and Shinto. Frankincense became popular in Europe and its use was adopted by the Christian faith, particularly Catholicism.

Modern Uses of Frankincense

As the use of frankincense evolved, it became popular as an ingredient in many cosmetic and skin care products. In some areas, frankincense is found in deodorant and toothpaste. Frankincense is used to create natural household cleaning products and is one of the most common oils used in aromatherapy. You can find it in many cosmetic and skin care products as frankincense is frequently added to soaps, shampoos, lotions, and facial creams.

Its popularity is not simply because of its aroma; frankincense actually helps promote youthful, healthy skin. Mixing the essential oil with liquids (especially distilled water) can yield a fragrant, spray-on skin toner. You can combine frankincense oil can with other products to impart its health-supporting properties. Frankincense has a unique chemical composition and proven skin-strengthening abilities. That’s why, after thousands of years, it still remains an important part of natural skin care.

Let’s take a look at why this is so important.

Why Is Natural Skin Care Important?

Skin is the largest organ in the human body. It is constantly exposed to the external environment and all its challenges. One of the primary responsibilities of your skin is to act as [thin] armor for your internal organs, muscles, skeleton, and more. It’s important to take care of your skin so it stays healthy. And, many of the best natural skin care products use frankincense to help achieve this goal.

Don’t underestimate the importance of using natural ingredients when it comes to skin care. If you wouldn’t put toxic substances in your mouth, why would you want to rub them on your skin? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many people do, as lesser products contain toxic ingredients that can be absorbed through the skin.

8 Skin Care Product Ingredients to Avoid

Eight common skin ingredients that should be avoided include…

  1. Parabens: commonly used preservatives found in many cosmetic products.
  2. Triethanolamine: used in herbicides and petroleum demulsifiers.
  3. Butylene Glycol: humectant that has been traced to contact allergens.
  4. Diethanolamine: can lead to skin irritation but commonly found in soaps, shampoos, cleaners, polishers, and other cosmetics.
  5. DMDM Hydantoin: harsh chemical preservative.
  6. Ethanolamine: listed as a chemical hazard by American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  7. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: widely used synthetic detergent with known side effects.
  8. Sodium Laureth Sulfate: shown to be a skin irritant.

This is by no means a complete list of harmful cosmetic additives. There are plenty more, and finding a safe skin care product may seem like an arduous task. That’s why choosing a product with natural ingredients, like frankincense, is so important.

How to Choose the Right Skin Care Product

Many people go out of their way to eat healthy, natural foods. That’s great! Unfortunately, not everyone puts the same thought into choosing the best skin care products. Your skin is not impermeable. Any substance you put on your skin could be absorbed into your bloodstream and dispersed throughout your body.

I suggest limiting yourself to skin care products made with natural ingredients like frankincense. Parfait Visage® is a premium, luxury face cream that was designed to help promote fresh, radiant skin. It’s made with all-natural ingredients, including organic Indian frankincense oil. It’s the perfect skin care product for keeping your face looking its best.

Essential Oils, A Guide from Extraction to Uses

Essential oils are the oil-based aromatic extracts derived from the leaves, stems, fruit, bark, flowers, roots, or seeds of plants. They are a highly concentrated form of volatile oils—another name for essential oils—and have many beneficial properties. Historians estimate that humans have been using essential oils for 5,000 to 6,000 years for medicinal, cosmetic, and hygienic purposes. The earliest methods and technology did not produce the essential oils we are familiar with today. Whereas many of today’s essential oil producers focus on purity, the ancient versions were likely adulterated with stray plant materials, debris, and other oils. As time passed, extraction methods and technology improved. Let’s look more at how essential oils are created and the many ways they can be used.

How Are Essential Oils Created?

There are a few ways to create essential oils and the ideal extraction process is determined by the oil’s source and how well its phytoconstituents respond to extraction. Distillation and using solvents are the most popular ways to extract essential oils. Plants or oils that are too delicate for distillation must be expressed, mechanically crushed, or extracted using solvents. Others, like whole citrus fruits, may be mechanically rolled over needles that puncture and release essential oils, a process known as the ecuelle or scarification method.

Distillation

When using the distillation method, there are three distinct ways to obtain oils: water distillation, water and steam distillation, and steam distillation. Pure steam distillation is the most gentle of the distillation extraction methods. In water distillation, the plant material is boiled, and the essential oils are decanted off the water. Water-steam distillation involves both boiling and steaming the plant material.

Steam distillation takes place in a still. If the essential oils are processed fresh, this typically takes place in or near the same field from which the plant is harvested to preserve the delicate phytochemicals. The heat from the still forces the plant matter to release its oils at the lowest temperature possible to prevent burning or denaturing the more fragile phytochemicals. The steam carries the essential oils through the equipment to condense in another section of the still with the water. The essential oils are poured off the top of this water. This water, called hydrosol, contains the water-soluble, aromatic phytoconstituents of the plant. Hydrosols are often used in cosmetics for their more subtle aroma and gentle, beneficial effects on the skin.

Enfleurage

Enfleurage is an old, tedious, and expensive method of collecting essential oils. Historically, essential oil producers used it for fragile plant sources, such as jasmine flowers, that couldn’t tolerate more aggressive extraction methods. The process involves gently placing flowers on top of a fatty medium, either a scent-free vegetable oil or lard, so that the volatile oils would transfer into the fat. These flowers were continually and regularly replaced on the surface of the medium until it was thoroughly imbued with the desired oils. Once completed, the producer would use alcohol to separate the essential oil from the fatty medium by allowing the alcohol to evaporate away.

Solvent Extraction

A relatively new technology for extracting essential oils is called supercritical CO2 extraction. This method applies high barometric pressure under specific temperature conditions to release the oil from its source. Liquid CO2 is used as a solvent and poured over the plant matter to release the essential oils. Sometimes ethanol is added to this process. Afterward, the CO2 (or ethanol) evaporates and only the essential oil remains.

Alcohol tinctures are another method of extraction that uses ethanol to release essential oils. The plant matter is submerged in alcohol and the volatile oils of the plant are extracted by the ethanol. One potential downside of these tinctures is that they contain as much as 60-90% alcohol, and may not be an appropriate choice for everyone.[4]

How to Select Essential Oils

The best quality essential oils are 100% pure, organically grown, and minimally processed. Many phytochemicals are sensitive to heat, light, and harsh chemical solvents, so they must be handled gently to retain the full spectrum of their beneficial constituents. If an essential oil provider doesn’t openly explain how they extract their oils, consider a different brand.

Though the scientific community is skeptical, some aromatherapists ascribe to an idea called an energy signature. They believe that living beings resonate at a particular frequency and life experiences, or processes in the case of essential oils, change the speed at which their molecules vibrate. This energetic signature is what they believe provides the many health benefits of essential oils.

The Top 33 Uses of Essential Oils

Essential oils do much more than just smell nice, they have a variety of health-promoting and helpful uses. Try essential oils the next time you want to soothe a headache, reinvigorate your mind, calm frayed nerves, or any of the other uses for essential oils listed below.

1. Clean Surfaces, Air, and Clothes

Many natural and organic cleaning products already contain essential oils as they tend to have antimicrobial properties. Beyond just cleaning surfaces, the volatility of these oils makes them ideal for reducing microbial contaminants in the air. For example, you can:

  • Use eucalyptus and tea tree oil to freshen humid rooms like the bathroom.
  • Add a few drops of lavender oil to a dry washcloth and throw it in the dryer with your wet clothes.
  • Use lemongrass or rosemary to freshen and disinfect the fridge or freezer by sprinkling a few drops on a damp washcloth and wiping down surfaces.
  • Freshen up your gym bag, locker, car, or shoes with a few drops on a cotton ball or piece of felt.

2. Get Rid of Shower Mildew

Shower mold is unsightly and unhealthy. To get rid of it, liberally sprinkle eucalyptus oil on any areas that have darkened, especially grout or the tracks of sliding shower doors. You can also apply to problem spots with a cotton swab.

3. Promote Skin Health

There are several skin care benefits that essential oils provide. Patchouli and clary sage slow skin aging and increase cell turnover to reveal fresh glowing skin. Orange oil revitalizes aging skin by promoting collagen production, just like the vitamin C in the whole orange.

Apply a drop of bergamot oil to soothe dry, cracked, or inflamed skin. Chamomile also helps moisturize dry skin to soothe itchiness. For dandruff, add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo bottle and shake well to distribute evenly.

Patchouli also calms irritated skin and expedites wound repair. Slow or stop a small cut from bleeding with a small dab of cypress oil.

4. Moisturize Hands and Nails

For a DIY cuticle oil, dilute lemon or rosemary oil into sweet almond oil and rub into bare nails.

5. Clear Blemishes

Basil, bergamot, and cedarwood will help clear blemishes. A compress made with bergamot oil promotes the healing process by soothing swollen, painful skin eruptions. Cedarwood and orange oil help balance the production of skin oils.

6. Encourage Supple Lips

Topical bergamot oil minimizes pain from lip conditions, while lemongrass and peppermint promote clear, moisturized lips.

7. Calm Anxiety and Promote Relaxation

Essential oils are well known for their ability to improve mood. Lavender is thought to be so effective at reducing feelings of anxiety that it’s encapsulated and taken orally by some people. Diffuse oregano, basil, black pepper, and cedarwood in a humidifier to create a calming home or work environment.

8. Discourage Harmful Organisms

Several essential oils are good for addressing topical Candida overgrowth, so you’ll have no trouble finding one that suits your preference. These include lavender, peppermint, sage, tea tree oil, thyme, tulsi, and clary sage. Make sure to apply them correctly. If your preferred essential oil requires a carrier oil, mix into lotion or coconut oil to apply.

For athlete’s foot, rub a few drops of cedarwood into your skin, or mix a couple of drops of tea tree oil into a teaspoon of a carrier oil and massage into skin. For nail fungus, use a cotton swab to apply 100% tea tree oil to the affected area.

9. Create a Rejuvenating Bath Elixir

Add a few drops of lavender, lemon balm, jasmine, or chamomile to your next hour-long soak. Drop the oil on your bath salts, on your bath bomb, or add it directly to the water. Boost the efficacy of your foot bath by resting tired feet and killing fungi. If you’re prone to urinary tract discomfort, using bergamot oil in the bath helps keep your bladder and kidneys healthy.

10. Assist Recovery After a Workout

Add a few drops of lavender, rosemary, or rose oil to a damp hand towel and freeze it. Fold over your eyes during savasana at yoga or drape it around your neck after your workout to cool down and boost your mood.

11. Increase Alertness

Mix a few drops of eucalyptus and peppermint oil together in your humidifier to increase alertness. You can also try basil oil, bergamot, and black pepper for similar results.

12. Boost Memory and Concentration

Inhale the vapors of black pepper, cypress oil, or eucalyptus to boost your concentration. Clary sage, cloves, sage, and coriander increase your ability to concentrate with the bonus of increasing your recall.

13. Deepen Meditation

To deepen your meditation practice, inhale the vapors of benzoin and cypress oil. It can help increase your focus and turn your thoughts inward.

14. Repel Insects

Peppermint, lemongrass, basil, and eucalyptus are natural insect deterrents. Either diffuse the oils to deter mosquitos, or use a mixture of the essential oil in vegetable glycerin and water and spray lightly on clothing. Just make sure to shake well first.

15. Support Normal Digestion

There are many ways that essential oils can help relieve gastric upset like bloating and gas. Lemongrass relieves gas and helps your body recover from stomach distress. For indigestion, dab a dry mint with peppermint oil. After letting it soak in thoroughly, quickly crunch the mint and swallow. For heartburn, use the same method but with chamomile oil. To relieve gas, stimulate appetite or prevent constipation, try basil, black pepper, or coriander oil.

16. Boost Cleansing and Detoxification

To stimulate your body’s natural cleansing abilities, dilute 3 drops of fennel oil into a teaspoon of olive or flax oil and swallow.

17. Calm Upset Stomach

Peppermint has long been used to quell nausea, and it’s an effective non-pharmaceutical option for people undergoing aggressive medical therapies, but there’s no scientific evidence it helps with morning sickness. You can also try inhaling the scent of ginger, peppermint, or coriander.

18. Appetite Suppressant

Inhale fennel or bitter orange to suppress appetite.

19. Encourage a Happy Mood

Surround yourself with uplifting scents when you’re feeling down in the dumps. Chamomile and clary sage resist down moods, basil oil brings about feelings of joy, and eucalyptus increases optimism.

20. Boost the Immune System

Many essential oils stimulate the immune system. Add them to your diffuser to reap the health benefits.

21. Promote Respiratory Comfort

Calm a cough with cedarwood and clary sage. If you already have a sore throat, soothe it with bergamot, lavender, or black cumin seed oil. If your lungs ache from coughing, inhale the scent of benzoin to soothe the discomfort. To reduce feelings of bronchial tightness, add 10 drops of clary sage to your humidifier. For a runny nose, inhale cypress or eucalyptus oil through your nose to dry it up.

22. Support Easy Breathing

Many OTC medicines contain chemicals that help loosen thick phlegm (so you expel it) but there are several natural ways to break through chest congestion. Use your humidifier to moisten dry air and diffuse the vapors of essential oils like benzoin, cedarwood, Manila elemi and eucalyptus to loosen phlegm and make your coughs more productive.

23. Clear Nasal Passages

To clear a stuffy nose, inhale the scent of basil or black pepper oil.

24. Relieve Headache

Apply lavender, ginger, lemongrass, or willow bark to your temples to relieve headache pain. Dilute a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint in a carrier oil and apply the same way, or simply rub a few drops between your hands and inhale the scent.

25. Topical Pain Relief

To relieve local pain, apply clove, echinacea, kava, or myrrh topically to the affected area.

26. Menstrual Pain Relief

Attenuate menstrual pain with basil oil, chamomile, or clary sage. Rub undiluted chamomile on the abdomen, or dilute basil or clary sage oil in an equal amount of sweet almond oil and apply.

27. Ease Symptoms of Menopause

For hot flashes, keep a bottle of clary sage on you. Rub a few drops into your hands and inhale the aroma to quell a hot flash.

28. Calm Joint and Muscle Discomfort, Swelling, and Stiffness

Massage black pepper, chamomile, basil, coriander, or eucalyptus into the skin to relieve joint and muscle stiffness and soreness. Dilute the essential oils according to the directions on the bottle.

29. Encourage Restful Sleep

Dispel insomnia with chamomile. Either rub some onto your chest, add it to your humidifier, or sprinkle lightly on your pillow case.

30. Flavor Foods

To flavor your hot chocolate, add a drop or two of peppermint in your cocoa.

31. Promote Hair Growth

Some believe cedarwood and clary sage stimulate hair growth. Add a few drops to your shampoo to apply.

32. Add Shine to Hair

Return some luster to your locks with basil or chamomile oil. Evenly distribute 2-3 drops into dry hands and comb your hair with your fingers to coat strands lightly.

33. Enjoy a Pleasant Fragrance

You can use essential oils to scent your home, car, or even yourself. Dilute a little rose, orange, lavender, and lemon oil in jojoba and rub into your pressure points for a perfume. To fresh your breath, add a drop of peppermint oil to your toothbrush and brush as normal after using toothpaste. For your home, use a humidifier to distribute the oil’s aroma throughout your house.

Be careful about putting essential oils in your car. Some oils contain plant compounds that, while natural, may be rough on finishes. You can easily apply a few drops to a cotton ball, piece of cardboard, or felt and put it somewhere in your car to keep it smelling fresh and clean.

Essential Safety Tips for Using Essential Oils

The dose is what matters most when using essential oils at home. Always check the label or consult your trusted essential oil producer’s website to ensure you’re correctly using these powerful oils. Many essential oils must be diluted to prevent skin irritation, and some should only be used in humidifiers or diffusers.

Follow the directions when using essential oils. In addition to skin irritation, some essential oils increase your susceptibility to sunburn when applied to the skin. If you’re pregnant, nursing, or trying to get pregnant, consult with your healthcare practitioner before using any essential oils, even if you’ve used them before. Some essential oils stimulate the shedding of the uterine lining and should be completely avoided. If you cannot find information on the essential oil you want to use, do not apply to your skin or ingest it.

Some essential oil producers intentionally dilute their oils to make them safer for consumer use or to lower the price of extremely expensive oils like neroli. Make sure to buy your essential oils from organic sources and check to see that they are therapeutic grade if you intend to use them pure. If you’re not yet ready to try using pure or undiluted essential oils, you can always try products that contain them—there’s no shortage of options. Parfait Visage® features a blend of essential oils, each selected to promote beautiful, radiant-looking skin.