Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Journey with The Tower

Image from The Druidcraft Tarot

Back in 2006 I was dating a wonderful man (actually, we'd handfasted by the old way), owned my own house and car, but was working a sales job and struggling to keep my bills paid. I did a reading to see how it would all turn out, laying out a Celtic Cross for an overview and outcome of my situation, and in the final outcome position I got The Tower. 

My view of The Tower then was pretty grim as I understood it only as a card of loss and destruction, losing everything, which is actually exactly what happened. Both my house and my car were repossessed within about a month of each other, and that wonderful man I was handfasted to had to help me out drastically. He was living with his sick elderly father to help him out, but he bought me a car and moved me in with him and his father. I had to live in the basement because his father was Catholic and old-fashioned and to him we weren't married (we never told him about the handfasting). Eventually Gene and I got married legally, his father was put in a care center, and Gene was diagnosed with cancer. I lost him and his father within six months of each other in 2007. It was a very long journey with the loss and destruction of The Tower, and I hated getting that card in readings! 

However, things always do work out for the best. I still own that lovely home, I've made it my own, and I've remarried to a wonderful man. My life has changed dramatically and I am far from being the person I was when I did that a very good way. I've learned and grown a lot.

I've come to a better understanding of The Tower and now I tell people that their lives are about to get shaken and stirred, and it might be scary for a while as you go through some massive changes, but in the end all will work out and you'll be in a better place. I think of it now as "the snow globe card". 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

How To Choose The Right Essential Oils For You--Part III

In the last two posts I covered what to look for in essential oils and then what brands I've tried (except for my #1 choice) and what I did and didn't like about them. This week I'll finally answer which are my favorite essential oil brands to use. I'm actually not choosing just one, but three that I'll rank and give the reasons why. 

My #3 choice is Young Living. The con is that it's an MLM, but if you want to build a business around essential oils and work with an MLM, they're the best, hands down. They are the brand I use as a measuring stick for all others for quality. However, I've chosen to move away from working with an MLM and while I'm still a distributor with them right now, I don't sell or actively promote them and haven't even made any purchases in several months. My one year isn't up yet, but I won't be renewing when it is later this year.

My #2 choice is Birch Hill Happenings. While they lack slightly in potency compared to my #1 and #3 choices, the price, variety and availability is there as is personal service. I can't rate them on sustainability, but that's why there are only a few things I order here. They are where I source my carrier oils and I use their Amaranthine Massage Blend for my face (that's one of my secrets for why I don't look my age and have a healthy glow). I'll also still use them to source some of the essential oil singles that I can't get through Floracopeia and also for some of their synergy blends that I love.

Now, my #1 choice? Floracopeia because I love the purity and potency of their oils as well as the price, and that they're not an MLM. I'm not an affiliate at this time, because while they do have an affiliate program that you can join, at this time it's only for their courses, not products. If you're a retailer, you can apply for a wholesale account with them for their products.  

I also chose Floracopeia because of the way they choose their sources, using small artisan producers who use eco-friendly practices, most of which are organic or wild-crafted sustainably. They actually do travel around the world to meet with them, and they support several eco projects around the world where they source their plants. They're a small company owned by David and Sara Crow who are well-respected and well-known as experts in their field and are teachers of plant medicine, herbology and aromatherapy. In addition to essential oils they also carry flower essences and a whole line of natural skin and body care, and I trust those products to be less toxic than the skin and hair products sold by either MLM company. 

On top of it all, Floracopeia has the best customer service I've ever encountered in my life. My very first order from them was for my two go-to oils to test a company by, lavender and peppermint, and when I opened it I found that one of the oils (turned out to be the lavender) was all over both oils inside the bubblewrap bag enclosing them, despite all of the very careful packaging to protect them. When I was able to open the bottles and explore them a couple of days later, I discovered that I was missing quite a bit of lavender oil out of my bottle and then a piece of the neck of the bottle fell into my hand when I was trying to get a drop out. [Ironically, despite the fact that it had leaked all over the place, it was hard to get a drop out at will!] 

I immediately emailed their customer service department and sent pictures of the bottle and they sent out a replacement of the entire order (!) plus a free roll-on of their Centered Essential Oil blend (!!), which is heavenly! Most companies only replace the damaged item, never have I had any company in any industry go to this level. I'm impressed. 

I have since received another order from them and all was well. The only con so far, honestly, is their orifice reducers and I'm still working on learning to use them to get a proper drop of oil out, but then, that was an issue with the standard ones at first too, and differs slightly with each brand. 

The bottles and orifice reducers are different than what every other company uses, and I love the style of the bottles and the fact that more can fit into a small space. The pro of that is that my bag for carrying essential oils fits ten 5 ml bottles, but only four 15 ml bottles, from other companies. Because of their design, I can carry ten 15 ml bottles of essential oils from Floracopeia and four of their 15 ml flower essences (those are in traditional styled bottles).

So now, it's up to you. I've added one more voice of personal experiences and choices to the information available out there on the world wide web, and a great company to add to your list of choices. In the end, only you can explore, compare and decide what works best for you as far as quality, price and selection. Happy oiling! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

How to Choose the Right Essential Oils for You--Part II

Last week, I talked about some of the primary things you need to know about choosing a high-quality effective and safe essential oil company, and this week I'm going to go into a bit more detail of what sets some of the companies I've used apart from the others, which ones I've used or at least gotten to check out in person, and what I have and haven't liked about certain brands.

As I mentioned, there have been some brands who had the purity I sought, and some even have exemplary testing methods, but I was disappointed when I actually tried their oils because I didn't feel they were effective enough since they lacked volatility...meaning that I can hardly smell them, and if you can't smell an oil very well then it feels very weak. Even some that seemed to have enough volatility lacked some effectiveness.

The first brands I tried were the normal Aura Cacia and NOW brands that you can find at health food stores because I really didn't know much. Both are cheap and definitely lack purity. NOW brand is a food-grade essential oil brand and Aura Cacia is one I used for comparison for purity because you can smell the chemicals in it. 

The first brand that I used that is actually supposed to be a pure, therapeutic grade essential oil and truly began my education was dōTERRA. Although I left for different reasons, I'm glad that I did leave this company since it's ethics are questionable and so is its purity. First is the CPTG claim, which is untrue. There is no such thing. For more details about that, read this blog post. Then there's the claims about some of their oils, like peppermint--theirs smells like a candy cane, which means that it's what is called a "complete distillation", or a food-grade peppermint being sold as a first distillation therapeutic grade peppermint. Then there's the fact that they're re-bottling essential oils and selling them at prices similar to Young Living who grows, distills and bottles their own because they're an MLM (more on that in a moment).

Next I tried a few brands, one of which was Ananda Apothecary. I had to send them back because although they passed smell tests, when I added one to my water bottle it tasted like gasoline. (Yes, I use mine internally because of my training from the MLMs who follow the French Aromatherapy methods, so purity is even more important--though honestly, all usage of essential oils is internal because what you breathe in and what you apply to your skin go straight into your bloodstream.) Anyway, ugh! I'll give credit to their customer service for taking back all of my opened bottles of oil and crediting me in full for them. Another brand I used for a while was Birch Hill Happenings, a small re-bottling company owned by a very nice couple. Their purity is definitely there, but again their peppermint smells just a little less herbal than a first distillation ought to smell and I found their Blue Muscle Mend not to be as effective as dōTERRA's Deep Blue or Young Living's Cool Azul. I will say that most of their oils had a better, fuller bouquet than dōTERRA's and they were the brand I used for a while after leaving there. They have really good customer service and are both friendly and quick to respond. They also have fast shipping. 

Then I joined Young Living. Now, I have to give them credit for both purity and potency, and I love a lot of what they're doing. My biggest qualm is that they are an MLM and it's only worth paying the high price for such oils if you're going to make a business out of selling them. They have become the standard by which I have judged all others when comparing for both smell and effectiveness. I love their sustainability. My other issue is with things like the fact that their lavender is grown on a farm here in the US and many of their other essential oils are grown on farms that might not be in the most ideal locations for harvesting them for their therapeutic benefits, especially since many are here in the US. 

So, I started looking for a really good company again. I read many blogs that compared a lot of companies in order to speed up my process and save myself a lot of money (which is why I'm writing this, to add to that and help others do the same if I can). I tried Rocky Mountain Oils because they were highly recommended by several bloggers, but I was truly disappointed by their potency. They test better than most companies and the purity is there, but potency is important too, even more so if you're going to dilute your oils (more on that in a future post). I also wasn't real happy that many of their blends are diluted since I prefer to purchase the synergy blend and dilute my own if I'm going to do so. My skin isn't that sensitive, so I tend to use many singles and blends neat or to use them internally, so I don't like carrier oils already mixed in--at least give me the option (like my #1 choice does). 

I also checked out Organic Swiss Aromatics, another company recommended by an aromatherapist's blog and it's owned by an aromatherapist who is a respected author and expert in the industry, and again I was disappointed in the lack of potency. Another very popular company whose oils I got to "meet" because a friend of mine uses them, but was again disappointed in, was Edens Garden. Again, it was the potency that was a let down for me, though they've been lauded by Dr. Robert Pappas for being the best non-MLM essential oil company. All of these have reasonable and fast shipping, and I haven't tried their customer service.

A word on MLMs in general: honestly, I feel all of them sell over-priced products because the "freebies" they "give away" and the fantastic trips they send distributors of certain levels on have to be paid for somehow, as do the commissions they pay everyone, and you're paying for that with every single product you purchase. So, while they're a wonderful way to start a business, and you can write off everything you buy if you do so, you have to be prepared to build your life around using and selling these products. Personally, I'm not a salesperson and this model just doesn't work for me...and I don't care how they try to say it, you're constantly trying to sell the products. Also, in my experience, most have really slow and expensive shipping! 

So, what company did I choose? This is already long, so I'll write one final blog post and reveal that answer and my reasons. I'll actually give my top three recommendations and then it's up to you to try some companies and decide for yourself!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Singing Bowl Collection Video

How to Choose the Right Essential Oils for You--Part I

Often when I get into conversations about essential oils with people who are enthusiastic about them, I hear that they buy them wherever they find them...the local health food store, metaphysical shop, or even Walmart...and this saddens me because it demonstrates the lack of good education that many have before starting to use something therapeutically that can cause a lot of good--or a lot of harm.

Yes, essential oils can cause a lot of harm if you're not using really good ones or don't know how to use them properly, and it's not that hard in today's Information Age to get to know more about them. There are plenty of books, blogs and websites out there without having to become an aromatherapist.

I have to admit, I didn't know a lot when I first started out either, and was guilty of what has become a pet peeve...but that's why I'm writing this series of posts. I want to add to the good information that's out there and help educate people about essential oils now that I've worked with them for several years, and especially since I know from experience what benefits can be derived from using really good essential oils. It's been an expensive, but worthwhile, journey and education!

So, the first thing you need to know is that the essential oil industry is not regulated by laws, and that there's a lot of misleading labeling out there...and even a lot of misleading education. It starts with how "100% Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil" is defined. If it has at least 5% of 100% therapeutic grade essential oil in the bottle, it can legally be labeled as such. Wait, what?! Yep, the rest can be chemical residue, fillers, pesticides and herbicides, etc.  

Next thing to know is that adulteration is HUGE in this industry because of the lack of regulation, and GS/MS testing doesn't really mean a lot. Most essential oil companies are re-bottlers who depend upon the honesty of the suppliers they obtain their oils from and many don't do in-house testing once they receive their oils to re-bottle with their labels. Often what happens is that they get sent the GS/MS certification for one batch, but get sent another and they have no idea if they don't do in-house testing and/or have close and solid business partnerships with their suppliers.

Last, there are two things to look for in a high quality therapeutic essential oil that lead to how effectively it works: purity and potency. Purity obviously refers to how pure and unadulterated the essential oil is, but potency can be more confusing. Part of the potency of an essential oil is its volatility, and that contributes to the strength of the essential oil...and is where a lot of essential oils that were high in purity fell short for me out of the several that I've tried, and I've tried several brands over the course of the past 6-7 years since I first started exploring essential oils. I'll start going into details of that journey in my next post, but you can see some of the brands I've considered high quality in the picture at the top of this post. Along the way, I'll share what I consider the pros and cons of MLM essential oil companies, the differences between the top two of those, and finally the company I've chosen to use.

I'm not an expert, but I've read and experimented a lot and my next step will be to become a certified aromatherapist. However, I wanted to share what I have learned in order to help others make better educated choices along their own journey, for the right company for me might not be the right company for you and you'll have to do some of your own exploration to find out what is right for you. At the end of my last post, I'll also include links to some other great blogs for even more education. Enjoy your jump down the rabbit hole!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

All-Purpose Anti-Inflammatory Recipe

My husband had the misfortune to get a really bad respiratory virus that's going around and after suffering for a week he discovered a recipe for Turmeric Milk, aka Golden Milk. Most recipes called for some form of milk however, either regular cow's milk or dairy alternatives like coconut or almond milk. We didn't have any of those on hand since I'm casein intolerant and I don't like the thickeners like carageenan and guar gum that you find in most dairy alternatives as they cause leaky gut syndrome and I also already have that, thereby I don't ingest things that will make it worse.

He came up with this alternative using what we do have on hand: coconut water and coconut oil because fat is one of the things that you need for turmeric to absorb better and thereby be more effective, along with black pepper. So, without further ado, here's his recipe:

1 cup coconut water, heated (microwave or pan)

1/4 tsp coconut oil (more is not better)
1 tsp honey
pinch of black pepper
1 drop of cinnamon oil or 1/4 tsp cinnamon spice
1 tsp turmeric (very important: add it last to mix best)

The first night he drank it, it broke a low grade fever he had and his cough went away. I've been drinking it and find it helps my chronic sinus congestion and I no longer need to use Nasacort every night. I'm also not in as much chronic pain in my hips. I also have not caught any of the various viruses that my friends are currently suffering from and have added this to my preventative routine along with echinacea and the immune blend of essential oils that I use at this time of year when so many illnesses are going around. 

The taste can take some getting used to. He doesn't like it, but I do...I find it has kind of a warm, comforting taste that I enjoy. So give it a try, and Zum Wohl!