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Essential Oils 101: All the Basics You Need to Know!

Posted on November 13, 2019 at 11:05 AM

The power of essential oils (EO’s) is real - have YOU made them part of your everyday life yet?

 

We’re going to lay out all of the basics so you can get on this one bandwagon that’s here for the long haul. And when you learn about the history of EO’s, you’ll know that they’re not even new. In fact, EO’s have been around for centuries!

 

Some essential oils come from seeds while many others are extracted from the leaves of the plant. Because EO’s are so highly concentrated, it takes a tremendous amount of plant to produce just one ounce of oil.

 

Due to this level of concentration, essential oils are incredibly powerful, so a little bit goes a long way!

Some “essential” terms you should know:

AROMATIC

Essential oils are basically the natural aromatic compounds extracted from seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Diffusion is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the aromatic benefits of essential oils.

 

CARRIER OIL

This refers to a lipid- or fat-based liquid used to dilute EO’s. Olive, coconut, almond, jojoba and argan oils are the most common ones.

 

DISTILLATION

The process of extracting essential oil from plant material.

 

Steam distillation is the most common distillation method that uses low-heat pressurized steam to circulate through plant parts and extract oils.

 

Cold press distillation uses a mechanical press to squeeze essential oils from plant parts, and is the most commonly used method for obtaining citrus oils - a classic ingredient in DIY household cleaning products. This is to preserve their aromatic bounty!

Historic Essential Oils

Despite being suddenly catapulted into popularity, essential oils are not a new thing.

 

The ancient Egyptians were among the first to use aromatic essential oils for daily life, and pure EO’s were prized and saved for priests and royals. Other ancient societies, such as those in China, Greece and Rome used EO’s for aromatherapy, illness, and personal hygiene.

Essential oil starter kit:

Are you a newbie to EO’s?

 

Here are 4 of the most popular ones to try first, and a few suggested uses. They make great staples in your medicine cabinet too!

 

TEA TREE OIL (Melaleuca): Soothing, cleansing & healing

 

● Combine 1–2 drops with your preferred facial cleanser (or moisturizer) for added cleansing properties

● Mix 1-2 drops with pure aloe vera gel and apply to skin after shaving

● Use diluted with water and/or vinegar as a surface cleaner - see recipe!

● Add a few drops to shampoo and massage into the scalp - use in your conditioner too

● Add a drop to toothpaste or swish with water for a quick and easy mouth rinse - but do not swallow or ingest

 

LAVENDER: Soothing & calming

 

● Add a few drops to your pillow or bottoms of your feet for a restful night’s sleep - or use in a diffuser near your bed

● Apply topically to help heal pimples, skin inflammation and irritation - be sure to test a drop on your skin to test for sensitivity; dilution may be required

● Soak away stress! Add a few drops to a warm bath

 

LEMON: Cleansing, revitalizing & uplifting

 

● Use to remove gum, glue, or any other sticky residues from surfaces

● Use in a diffuser to purify the air, creating an uplifting & refreshing aroma

● Add to a spray bottle full of water to clean tables, countertops, and other surfaces - recipe!

 

PEPPERMINT: Cooling & energizing

 

● Apply a few drops directly to the skin of the back of your neck to cool off

● For a refreshing aroma, diffuse at night by your bedside

● Feeling tense? Rub on head and neck for a soothing, calming sensation

● Add to shampoo or conditioner for a stimulating & invigorating scalp massage

● Use as a natural bug repellent

 

Other popular ones for beginners are essentials oils of frankincense, clove, eucalyptus, clary sage, sweet orange, grapefruit, and rosemary.

Applications, skin sensitivity & ingestion

Essential oils can be used topically, which means you can apply them directly on the skin, mix them with carrier oils or mix with other personal care products. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before utlizing essential oils!

 

DILUTE — A category of essential oils that should be mixed with a carrier oil. The carrier oil will help transport the EO’s onto the skin.

 

NEAT — A category of essential oils that can be applied topically without dilution because of a chemistry that is considered mild.

 

Essential oils are incredibly powerful and serve many purposes for the home, and in daily health routines. With some basic knowledge, and having a few high-quality oils on hand, you can DIY dozens of homemade products, and enjoy many therapeutic benefits.

 

RECIPE

 

Natural All-Purpose Household Cleaner

 

Ingredients:

● ½ cup plain white vinegar

● 2 Tb baking soda

● 10-15 drops tea tree, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus &/or rosemary essential oil (or any combo of these) for their disinfectant properties

 

Preparation:

 

In a clean 12-ounce spray bottle (glass is best), mix the vinegar, essential oils and a splash of water before adding baking soda *important*.

 

Then fill to top of bottle with water, and gently shake to mix ingredients. Then spray area, wipe with a clean cloth, and allow it to dry. Dirty areas are now clean and disinfected!

 

 


 

Red Wine - Is it really good for you, or just health hype?

Posted on October 25, 2019 at 4:35 PM

Is red wine an essential part of a healthy diet?

The short answer is no.

If you aren’t a fan of wine or choose not to consume alcoholic beverages, there’s no reason to start drinking red wine for the sake of your health!

Plenty of other diet and lifestyle factors, like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting regular physical activity, not smoking, and managing stress can provide the same health benefits.

Like any other alcoholic beverage, it’s also important to remember to limit wine consumption. The health benefits of red wine only apply when it is enjoyed in moderation. Surprise!

 

When consumed in excess, any alcoholic beverage can negatively impact your health, contributing to alcohol dependence, organ damage, and increased risk of several cancers.

 

References

Healthline - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/red-wine-good-or-bad

Healthline - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/red-vs-white-wine

Time.com - http://time.com/4070762/red-wine-resveratrol-diabetes

 

Everything You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fats

Posted on October 14, 2019 at 11:25 AM

There’s a lot of talk about healthy fats these days. People are including more fat in their diets and forgetting about the fat-free diet crazes of the past.

You’ve probably heard about omega fats in the mix, but what exactly are they?

What are Omega Fats? Do they all perform the same function in our bodies?

Omegas are a group of fatty acids known as Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. They’re numerically named based on their chemical composition.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFA’s). The body is capable of producing some fatty acids on its own, like Omega-9 - meaning you don’t need to get them from food.

 

But the fatty acids the body can’t create on its own must be obtained from food, and therefore, are considered essential. Both fats are needed for good health, but most diets contain an abundance of omega-6 and not enough omega-3.

This skewed ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 is considered a cause of chronic inflammation that can lead to scary stuff, like heart attack and stroke.

 

A 1:1 ratio is ideal for keeping inflammation at bay, but it’s estimated that most people have a ratio closer to 20:1!

Low intake of Omega-3’s means most people are missing out on the major health benefits of this essential fat.

 

The protective qualities of Omega-3’s include:

● Improved immune system function

● Decreased inflammation

● Decreased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis, and depression

● Improved triglyceride and cholesterol values

● Critical role in human development – the brain and retina contain lots of omega-3 in the form of DHA

Which foods are the best sources of Omega-3’s?

Omega-3’s actually include several types of fats, including:

· ALA (alpha linolenic acid) – found in plants, like nuts and seeds

· DHA/EPA – found primarily in fish

The best sources of ALA include flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.

 

Canola and soybean oil are also good sources of ALA, but these oils aren’t the healthy options since they quickly oxidize and turn rancid, which promotes inflammation and cancels out any beneficial effects of the omega-3s they contain.

While meat and dairy aren’t a good source of omega-3s, it’s worth noting grass fed meat and dairy contain higher amounts of omega-3s than conventional grain fed meat.

ALA needs to be converted into EPA or DHA by the body for it to be utilized. This process is pretty inefficient, with estimates of 1-20% of the ALA we consume being converted into a usable form.

Although it would be hard to meet all your omega-3 needs only with sources of ALA, flax, chia, and walnuts are still healthy fats with lots of other good-for-you vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Since fish contains the ready-to-use EPA/DHA form, it is recommended that most people obtain their omega-3’s from fatty cold water fish, like salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines.

Did you know fish don’t actually produce the omega-3s they contain? Instead, algae makes EPA/DHA and fish accumulate the fat from the algae they eat. Cool fat fact!

 

If omega-3’s from fish are so good for us, shouldn’t we be eating fish every day? Nope!

How much Omega Fats should we be eating? Do I have to eat fish or take fish oil?

While there are no official recommendations for daily omega-3 intake, it’s thought most people can meet their basic omega-3 needs by consuming fish 2x/week.

To avoid taking in too much mercury, a toxic heavy metal in fish, you should alternate the types of fish you eat and limit varieties known to be high in mercury.

If you choose not to consume fish because of mercury or other concerns, it’s best to supplement with fish oil or, if you’re vegan - try algae oil. Fish and algae oils don’t contain mercury as a result of processing.

It’s generally considered safe to consume up to 3 - 6g of fish oil per day. If you include a high quality fish oil supplement and a variety of sources of healthy fats in your diet, you don’t have to worry about counting omega-3s.

People who are managing symptoms of heart disease or other illness may benefit from even higher, therapeutic doses of omega-3’s.

 

However, high doses of fish oil could interfere with blood clotting. If you’re currently taking blood thinners or have surgery scheduled, you should check with a healthcare provider before supplementing.

 

References

Healthline - Omega 3 Fatty Acids: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

National Institutes of Health - Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Precision Nutrition - All About Fish Oil

Precision Nutrition - All About Healthy Fats

 

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Recipe:

Chia Pudding Serves 2

1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond or coconut

¼ cup chia seeds

1-2 tbsp maple syrup or honey (depending on how much sweetener you like to use)

¼ tsp vanilla extract

1 cup mixed berries, for topping

2 tbsp raw walnuts, chopped (for topping)

Combine milk, chia seeds, sweetener, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whisk until well-combined. Alternatively, you can place ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake to combine.

Refrigerate chia pudding at least 2 hours or overnight. Portion pudding into bowls. Top with fresh berries and chopped walnuts.

Tip: You can add 2 tbsp cocoa powder (unprocessed preferred) to the pudding mixture to make a rich chocolatey version!

 


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