my top 3 essential oils + their uses
over the past several weeks, i’ve received a handful of emails from you guys asking about what essential oils i use. i’ve mentioned some different essential oils in a few blog posts here and there, but thought it would be more beneficial to dedicate a post to talking about my favorite ones and what i use them for in more detail.
the three oils that i always have on hand [lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus] are great because they each have more than one benefit and more than one way they can be used, so there’s no need to keep your medicine cabinet stocked with twenty different essential oils at all times [although i would kinda love that, not gonna lie]. here are three essential oils that i recommend having in your home at all times.
- lavender oil: this is definitely my favorite essential oil. it smells amazing and really helps with a few different things. most importantly, it can be used to aid relaxation and promote healthy sleep patterns. staying asleep throughout the night is something i struggle with regularly, so heating a little lavender oil in an oil warmer before i go to sleep can really help me relax and set me up for a restful night’s sleep. i’ll also put a few drops in my humidifier to keep the aroma in the air throughout the entire night. lavender oil can also be used to ease headaches by inhaling the aroma or applying it directly to the temples.
- tea tree oil: i use tea tree oil for so many different things at this point that i don’t even know where to begin! tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-septic, so it’s uses and benefits cover a lot of ground. it does have a little bit of a harsh scent that takes some getting used to, but i still recommend keeping this one around. personally, i use tea tree oil in my homemade facial toner and as a spot treatment, as it’s anti-bacterial properties help to fight breakouts. i’ll also use it to ease cuts, scrapes or burns in place of neosporin.
- eucalyptus oil: i find that i use eucalyptus oil most often in the winter months when i’m feeling under the weather, as it offers relief to the respiratory system. there are a few ways you can use it, but what i recommend is placing a few drops at the back of the shower as soon as the water is hot, which will create a steam that when breathed in can help ease a cough, sore throat and irritation in the sinuses. because it’s anti-inflammatory, eucalyptus can also soothe sore muscles when applied and massaged directly into the affected area.
if you’re going to start experimenting with essential oils, i recommend investing in high-quality, therapeutic grade, u.s.d.a. organic versions. while they will be a little more expensive, you’re going to experience more of the benefits these babies have to offer with a higher quality oil. i personally love aura cacia products, which you can order online directly from their site or pick up at most health food stores. a few other essential oils that i also recommend checking out are peppermint oil for indigestion [place 2-3 drops in an 8 oz. glass of water] and lemongrass as an insect repellant.
have you experimented with essential oils before? what ones? how did you like them? would love to hear from you in the comments below or via firstname.lastname@example.org!
healthy lifestyle staples: skin brushing
the healthy lifestyle staples series here at bananas + bellinis is something that i think is really important. not only do i get to give you a glimpse of some of the things i do/use on a regular basis, i also get to show you how easy it can be to incorporate healthy habits into your day-to-day life.
today, i want to add another item to my list of healthy lifestyle staples: skin brushing. skin brushing is known to have many health and beauty benefits, such as reducing cellulite, stimulating the lymphatic system, aiding digestion and detoxification of the body, increasing energy and circulation and exfoliating the skin.
the skin is the largest organ in the body and its job is essentially to protect us from anything that might be harmful [toxins, germs, viruses, bacteria, etc]. if the skin is not well taken care of, it’s ability to protect us decreases. skin brushing is an easy way to keep the skin in tip-top shape as a part of your regular skincare regimen.
so, how does it work? by stimulating the skin, you’re essentially getting a bunch of the other systems in your body working. it’s best to do first thing in the morning before showering when your skin is dry and your system is relaxed. you should always brush in the direction of your heart, as this is the way the lymphatic system naturally flows. start with the soles of your feet [the nerve endings there are connected to your entire body], working your way up your legs, over your stomach, booty, hands, arms, chest [ladies, be sure to avoid the ladies, if ya catch my drift] and down your back [see the diagram below]. because you’ve just exfoliated, showering after skin brushing is the best way to go so that you can wash away all of the the dead skins cells. apply some lotion [or coconut oil!] after your shower to soothe the skin and moisturize. you should notice a difference in how your skin looks and feels almost immediately.
a few things to keep in mind when skin brushing:
- don’t brush too hard, you don’t want to irritate the skin
- skip over any cuts, rashes, irritations or varicose veins
- leave your face and neck alone since the skin there is so sensitive
ready to give skin brushing a try? you can buy a skin brush at most drug or health food stores for under $20. you can always order one online, too!
diagram courtesy of healthy lifestyle choices 101
3 reasons you should start oil pulling
oil pulling is one of those things i had known about for a really long time before taking the plunge and trying it out for myself. i mean… who wants to swish a tablespoon of oil around in their mouth for 20 minutes? not me… or so i thought.
after doing more research and reading about all of the amazing health benefits of oil pulling, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give it a try. oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic practice that is said to rid not only the mouth, but the entire body, of harmful toxins while restoring balance throughout your system. as you might have guessed, once i started oil pulling, i became obsessed with it.
basically, all you do is pick an oil [i recommend coconut oil because of it’s strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and mild taste], swish around a tablespoon of it in your mouth for 15-20 minutes on an empty stomach and spit the oil out into the trash can, not the sink. it was easiest to work into my daily routine by taking a spoonful of oil right before brushing my teeth and hopping in the shower in the morning. here are three reasons you should make it part of your day-to-day routine, as well!
- it improves oral health. after just a few days you should notice whiter teeth and better breath. over time oil pulling will also build up the strength of your teeth and gums.
- it can reduce the symptoms of allergies. this includes sinus congestion, mucus build up in the chest and that terrible dried out feeling you sometimes experience in your sinuses.
- it can improve skin issues. because oil pulling rids the entire body of toxins, many have experienced clearer skin and reduced severity of eczema after oil pulling regularly. this can be super helpful even if you don’t experience severe acne, especially in the cold, dry winter months.
other reported benefits of oil pulling include reduction of sleep issues, elevated energy levels, reduced inflammation, improved kidney function, correction of hormone imbalances and, my personal favorite, alleviated symptoms of a hangover.
i recommend trying this out for at least a week to see what kinds of changes you notice before making a decision about it one way or another. the first few times can be kind of rough [swishing around a spoonful of oil in your mouth is definitely something that takes time to get used to] and if you can’t make it through the entire 20 minutes at first, don’t worry! you’ll slowly get used to it and once you start seeing and feeling the benefits, you’ll probably wonder how you ever lived without it.
image courtesy of green med tv
5 tips for surviving the common cold
with winter fast approaching, many of us will find ourselves [or already have found ourselves] battling the common cold. it usually creeps up out of nowhere and before you know it, you’re waist deep in tissues and mouth-breathing in order to supply your brain with enough oxygen to think straight. fun, right?
i have a few [all-natural!] tricks up my sleeve that i turn to to make myself more comfortable when that cold inevitably hits. these are most effective at the first signs of a cold, so if you feel it coming on, start right away!
1. echinacea: echinacea is a plant known for its immune boosting qualities that is available in a variety of forms. as soon as you notice the signs of a cold, start popping some echinacea supplements or drinking an echinacea tea a few times a day to give your immune system a little oomph.
image courtesy of oglesby
2. the neti pot: the neti pot is one of those things that totally freaks people out when they first hear about it, but is something that you won’t know how you lived without once you give it a try. if you’re not familiar with it, the neti pot is basically a mini-teapot-ish vessel that you fill with a solution of lukewarm water and salt [you don’t want to use just any salt; there are many salts out there made for use with the neti pot]. you then pour the solution into one nostril while leaning over a sink and the salt solution works its way through the sinuses, flushing out any… stuff… that might be hanging out in there through the other nostril. i usually do this two times a day when i’m sick, once in the morning and once right before bed and the relief it provides for sinus pressure and a stuffy nose is almost immediate.
image courtesy of yoga lifestyle
3. eucalyptus oil: the eucalyptus plant has many medicinal properties that come in handy when treating the common cold. it’s an anti-imflammatory and works as as a decongestant, so it’s especially helpful if you have a sore throat, cough and/or a runny/stuff nose. it’s easiest to find and use as an essential oil. for a sore throat, place a few drops in a glass of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds, 2-3 times a day or whenever you feel like you need relief. when I’m in the shower, i also put a few drops on the floor of the tub all the way at the back, as far away from the drain as possible, so that when the hot water hits it, a nice vapor is created that will waft up into your respiratory system, helping to clear congestion and ease a lingering cough.
image courtesy of the health site
4. water: as simple as this sounds, staying hydrated when you’re sick is so important. make sure that you are drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day [you should do this when you aren’t sick, as well] to keep your system running optimally, prevent dehydration, loosen mucus and flush out toxins and germs.
image courtesy of m.n.n.
5. rest: i saved the best for last and this is seriously the most important thing on the list. i cannot stress enough how important it is to take it easy when you’re under the weather. your body is already working hard enough to fight off the cold in the first place, so the last thing you need to do is place even more stress and exhaustion on it. doing so will only make you feel worse and make your recovery time even longer. it’s okay to take a sick day from work or skip the gym when you aren’t feeling well. so email your boss, make yourself a cup of tea and get cozy on the couch with some netflix. your body will thank you for it.
image courtesy of the dog dish
so, while i don’t have a magic, instant cure for the common cold [sorry if you were expecting that from this post!], all of the things on this list will definitely alleviate your symptoms and make you a little more comfortable while it runs its course through your system. if you have any other tips for surviving the cold that i didn’t include, please share them in the comments below.
stay well and get better soon!
feature image courtesy of pearls of profundity
healthy lifestyle staples: tongue scraping
okay, i know what you’re thinking. tongue scraping? is she serious? what even is that?! well, i’m 100% serious and after you read this article, i guarantee you’ll go buy yourself a tongue scraper and love it.
so, why is this a healthy lifestyle staple? tongue scraping, or jiva shodhana in sanskrit, is an ancient ayurvedic practice that is known for not only keeping your mouth extra clean, but can help to detoxify the entire body, as well. here are three great reasons to start using a tongue scraper asap:
- it improves oral health. because tongue scraping removes the bacteria that forms on your tongue throughout the day, it will ultimately leave you with fresher breath, less plaque buildup and healthier gums. it can also reduce your chances of getting cavities.
- it aids digestion. tongue scraping will clear up your taste buds so that you can really taste the food you are eating and begin the digestion process smoothly. digestion begins with salivation and if you can’t truly taste your food, your body won’t know how to properly begin to break it down, which can screw up the whole process. and no one wants that.
- it boosts your immunity. because the tongue is the first line of defense in your immune system, removing toxins and bacteria from it can prevent them from being reabsorbed into the body, which is especially important during cold and flu season.
i know that this sounds really weird, but give it a try. i guarantee once you start you will wonder how you have ever gone without doing it. it’s best to do it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, right after you brush your teeth. i personally use this tongue scraper by dr. tung’s. the stainless steel versions are preferable to the plastic ones and you can purchase one on amazon for around $5-$7.
image courtesy of the chalkboard
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