I hear this said every day at work by Anesthesia providers as they explain what their role is in making this experience more tolerable. Years ago, i discovered essential oils - which brought new meaning to organic chemistry.
Did you know a group of essential oils classified as esters may be a solution - research has found it to be so- to one of the top 3 health concerns mentioned in every one of my classes, and polls I’ve taken among my fellow nurses. .
Stress, in itself, is not a bad thing. Unmanaged stress is a problem. Nurses (people in general really) are experiencing an unhealthy constant level of unmanaged stress.
There are many safe, natural stress management tools - that don't require advanced skill or a large budget. There are very common tools that are popular today - that have somehow gained value in our culture, despite their cost to long term health as well as the hit financially that adds up over time. Just one, and maybe one of my favorites - essential oils. Better living through chemistry.
One class of chemical compound, Esters are not just important for beer flavor - Essential oils high in esters are antispasmodic, often sedative and some are analgesic
Common esters found in essential oils are methyl salicylate, linalyl acetate. These are found in lavender, clary sage, Roman chamomile, bergamot, helichrysum, and for methyl salicylate-we have wintergreen and birch.
Essential oils are amazing tools for managing stress.
My favorite "reset" stress management tool - combining Frankincense with Wild Orange for the uplifting qualities with one of my favorite Esters - Lavender. One drop of each in a personal inhaler, applied to aromatherapy jewelry or even just in the palm of my hand - rubbed together, applied to the back of my neck or chest... breathe it in.
There are many ways manage stress, meditation is one that honestly surprised me in the impact it made once I was practicing daily - and for only 10 minutes each day. The National Institutes of Health reports studies show us that meditation practice may reduce stress, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, while increasing feelings of happiness and well-being.
Meditation can be intimidating for some, others think its all a bunch of hocus pocus that works as much as you believe it does. Science is telling us otherwise and if it helps to reframe the story about it.- think of it more like a discipline, an exercise for the brain.
What is meditation anyway?
According to Psychology Today, meditation is the act of turning your mind away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. The practice can involve turning your attention to a single point of reference, focusing on the breath, bodily sensations, or for some, a mantra, a quote, or Bible verse.
How is it done?
One of the biggest barriers to meditation is that people don’t know where to begin. I suggest starting small - maybe even just 2 minutes, then 5, work up to 10 and if you love it - keep going. If all you ever do is 2 minutes every day, I believe you will still see a difference that makes it worth it. And of course, if you want to power boost this discipline - add in essential oils to help your brain and all those neurotransmitters get the right signals out to your body - to relax, everything is going to be ok.
Ok, here are some tips:
One of my favorite tips is to just go to headspace.com or download the app. I have learned tons of science and tips on mediation for various goals and seasons here. I love it! Just do the free trial... and then start out with a 3-5 or 10 minutes every morning. By the time you have completed the free trial, you will see the difference it makes and can decide if you need a guide or not.
Essential Oils known for their value in meditation: Frankincense, Lavender, Neroli, Sandalwood, Eucalyptus (great for clear breathing). Any essential oil can be great for meditation though. I don't think you can choose the wrong oil.
A couple other tips I learned from other nurses:
Hinoki Essential Oil is sometimes referred to as Japanese Cypress Essential Oil or Hinoki Cypress Essential Oil.
Hinoki Essential Oil is steam distilled from Chamaecyparis obtusa, a conifer that is native to Japan. Hinoki Essential Oil is available in limited quantities as a wood oil, root oil and needle (leaf) oil. The chemistry and actions are somewhat different depending on what part of the tree the essential oil was distilled from.
The Hinoki tree and essential oil goes by several common names. It's always important pay close attention to an essential oil's botanical name, and that holds especially true for Hinoki Essential Oil. An essential oil steam distilled from Chamaecyparis formosensis and known as Taiwan Hinoki Essential Oil (and other similar names) is also available. The two essential oils should not be confused. Both botanicals are considered in the aromatherapy world to be endangered. This is another really fabulous reason of WHY doTERRA!
You don't have to guess and we can trust that if doTERRA is making it available, they have guarded sustainability.
For centuries, the wood of the Hinoki tree has been used to build shrines and temples across Japan, and is still used today in the timber industry. While Hinoki is a prized resource, its wood has been over-populating areas of Japan for years. Seeing an environmental and economic need, doTERRA has partnered with groups in Japan to use the timber industry’s by-product of Hinoki wood to create this beautiful essential oil. Through the Hinoki Co-Impact Sourcing effort, doTERRA not only contributes to Japan’s forest management programs, but also creates needed jobs across rural Japan—ensuring that this unique, premium oil continues to give back to the people of its native land.
Emotionally and energetically, the Hinoki Needle Essential Oil is uplifting, cleansing, comforting and opens the mind for new perspectives. [Musacchio, 2018)
JUST THE FACTS:
Botanical Name of Hinoki Essential Oil: Chamaecyparis obtusa
Common Method of Extraction: Steam Distilled
Plant Part Typically Used: Needles, Twigs/Wood or Root.
Color: Clear to Pale Yellow
Perfumery Note: Middle
Strength of Initial Aroma: Medium
Hinoki Essential Oil smells woody and sweet. The aroma varies between the wood, root and needle (leaf) oils.
Hinoki Needle (Leaf) Essential Oil Uses / Actions
Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Topical use: Apply 1 drop with 5-10 drops of a carrier oil to
minimize skin sensitivity.
For those of you still reading, we know a lot about our oils and how to use them by chemistry... Hinoki essential oil is complex, with many chemical components, mainly:
What you really probably want to know is... does it work? Try it and see!
Say it with me..... chamazulene! fun, right!
Now imagine every day, waking up an "painting" the bottom of your big toe - with BLUE TANSY! I have to admit, I thought this was really silly... but then is sounded fun too. Mental Clarity, more focus... it's worth a try! Love it! Why....
Chamazulene, besides being fun to say and being a beautiful blue color, it is a chemical component in Blue Tansy, It is what brings in the indigo color and is recognized for its skin soothing benefits. It is this component that is widely sought for its ability to calm overall body outrage. You know the kind that makes everything ache and no one can give you answers for so you jus live with it day in and day out....
So, what do you do with Blue Tansy?
Blue Tansy essential oil, which comes from the annual yellow-flowered Mediterranean plant, is high in chamazulene and sabinene. An important oil in the doTERRA Deep Blue blend, Blue Tansy is soothing to mind and body.
At the same time, the main chemical component Sabinene helps diminish the appearance of blemishes. Uplifting to the mood, Blue Tansy provides a sweet aroma to fill any room. It’s perfect for massaging into skin with fractionated coconut oil or lotion after a long day of work or intense exercise to aid the body in the natural recovery process.
It does go on blue, but you won't be blue for long! (pun intended)
It is not an oil that you can take internally, you can use Blue Tansy in a variety of ways both topically and aromatically.
The characteristic indigo color of the oil may stain some surfaces, fabric, and skin. For this reason, it may be a good idea to purchase child-resistant caps to keep children from accidently spilling the oil on a surface where it won’t come out. However, when it comes to using it with the moisturizer in your skin care routine or diluting it in Fractionated Coconut Oil for a massage, it is unlikely to leave any trace.
Evidence Based Essential Oil Therapy to Support the Urinary System
Scientists have been investigating the interaction of essential oils and various pathogens for a long time now and they are publishing some promising work, clues to help us support our health with natural solutions.
UTIs develop when a person has an overgrowth of bacteria in their urinary tract, Nearly 85% of UTI are caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli). To address a UTI, we have to have a solution that has the potential to kill this type of bacteria..
The following essential oils are represented in recent studies:
Bergamot Citrus bergamia
- actually many of the citrus oils are mentioned often in the literature.
Clove Eugenia caryophyllata
A 2016 study suggests that clove oil may help to kill E. coli, particularly when the bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics.
Oregano Origanum vulgare
A 2012 study found that oregano oil could slow or stop the growth of E. coli and other bacteria. The bacteria strains used in the study resisted other treatments, which means oregano oil may also kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
A 2015 study that compared the effectiveness of oregano and lavender oils found that oregano had higher antimicrobial properties, suggesting that it can fight bacteria such as E. coli.
Thyme is always an oil that I think of first when considering protective properties. It's a little milder than Oregano as well.
Cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Cinnamaldehyde, the chemical that gives cinnamon its flavor, may inhibit the growth
of E. coli. The oil and the spice may also help to prevent UTIs from recurring. In addition to using cinnamon oil, a person might consider adding powdered cinnamon to their diet.
Those of you who struggle with recurring UTI, add cinnamon to tea or coffee or favorite diffuse blends - it just may be what make the difference!
Lavender Lavendula augustofolia
Research suggests that lavender can kill bacteria, fungi, viruses, It may also act as an antioxidant.
Research published in 2015, for example, found that lavender and oregano oils, separately and in combination, may inhibit the growth of, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus).
Tea Tree Melaleuca alternafolia
In his book, Medical Aromatherapy, Kurt Schnaubelt recommends two dorps of tea treee oil, internally, every twenty minutes ofr the first 4-6 hours. He also recommends Oregano oil as an option - one drop every hour, four times.
Authors of a 2013 study propose that some herbal oils are effective against E. coli and other bacteria. These include:
I love this because one of my favorite blends contains all of these oils! AromaTouch, is doTERRA’s proprietary massage blend. It is a combination of oils known to provide relaxing and comforting effects. It is so much more than that, AromaTouch combines our essential oils of Cypress, Peppermint, Marjoram, Basil, Grapefruit, and Lavender essential oils - all oils that are researched for their protective properties.
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus radiata
Eucalyptus oil may combat a wide range of bacteria. This makes it a good option when a person is unsure which type of bacteria is causing the infection.
A 2016 study identified compounds in eucalyptus oil that may explain its antibacterial properties. The researchers found that eucalyptus may kill or slow the growth of E. coli, S. aureus,
Cumin and Coriander
Cumin oil became even more effective when used in combination with some antibiotics, suggesting that it may be a complementary treatment. Like Cumin, Coriander oil was more effective when paired with antibiotics.
Good point to make here is that using essential oils, choosing natural solutions, is not an all or nothing choice. Essential oils can also work with our allopathic approaches - take the antibiotics prescribed - and add essential oils into your plan to address the root cause and support overall health.
Once you have chosen the oil you want to use - what do you do with it???
Essential oils can be used aromatically, topically or internally.
Many Aromatherapists will say not ever to use them without consulting an Aromatherapist - Well, I get to be that for you. Internal use is not to be taken lightly and really I can only speak for doTERRA essential oils because they are the oils that I know and trust. There may be other companies who offer pure oils, but I don't know of any who put the work into assuring quality and purity as doTERRA does.
In this case, I would begin with all three - topical application and an inhaled option as well as an internal option. Rememeber if you are also being treated by a Provider - full transparency about your preference to use essential oils is a must.
When applied topically, essential oils are best used diluted in a carrier oil. The usual recipe is 3 to 5 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier oil. Fractionated Coconut Oil is a popular choice. There are some oils that should should only be used if diluted (Oregano would definitely be one of those, it can be very hot on the skin).
Essential oils should not be applied to mucous membranes of the vagina or urethra. The mixture of essential oils you choose can be applied to areas around the inner thighs, mons pubis - the fatty tissue that lies just over the joint of the pubic bones. Diluted essential oils can also be safely used in a warm compress on skin near the affected area.
Another option would be to add a few drops of diluted oils to a bath may promote relaxation and provide temporary relief from pain. Remember that oil and water don't mix, oils will sit on the top of the water and then your skin and with some oils - that isn't going to feel good! So, Mix 5-20 drops of essential oil per ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) of your chosen bath base. Either use this amount for one bath, or make up a larger quantity for future use (Tisserand). You can safely use solubol, castile soap, shampoo, shower gel, vegetable oil - fractionated coconut oil, bath oils
A couple recipes:
Lavender - 5 drops
Marjoram - 5 drops
General rule with essential oils: It is best to use small amounts of high-quality essential oils diluted in a carrier oil, you cannot go wrong using doTERRA oils -the oils that I trust.
Now, when you have trouble - consider this and take this to your Provider and share your goal of minimizing antibiotic use when possible and ask that outcomes be measured to help you track the effectiveness of your chosen method of management. It is not advised to take matter into your own hands, you should seek medical advice from a provider who will listen and honor your preferences.... And consult with your Certified Professional Nurse Aromatherapist!
Fill your home with the fresh woodsy scents of fall by diffusing dōTERRA Cypress, White fir, and Cedarwood. Relax after a taxing day by adding dōTERRA Cypress oil and Epsom salt to a warm bath. Reduce the appearance of oily skin by adding a drop of Cypress oil to your face lotion. When applied topically, Cypress oil will leave your skin looking healthy and radiant!
The three main chemical components of Cypress essential oil are α-pinene, carene, and limonene. Both limonene and α-pinene are part of the monoterpenes group and have strong uplifting characteristics. α-pinene is also well known as a chemical with powerful renewing properties. Because Cypress oil contains a variety of monoterpenes, its aromatic compounds help to uplift and give you the added boost you may need.
All too often, essential oils that are available for purchase contain contaminates or filler substances. These extra substances weaken the power of an essential oil and reduce their effectivity in helping to fulfill individual needs. For this reason, it is crucial to get essential oils that are potent and pure. In order to guarantee effective essential oils, doTERRA subjects each batch of essential oils to the CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® protocol. This protocol contains a series of thorough tests to ensure the maximum potency and purity of each oil sold. When we buy from doTERRA, we can feel confident that the essential oils they receive are potent and pure, making them most effective for our needs. This is why this nurse will confidently use dōTERRA essential oils in the health care setting!
One of my favorite tools for daily essential oil use is the personal inhaler (click the pics to see how you can purchase these tools) - allowing you the benefits of your essential oil therapy on the go. These (above) are beautiful, have a glass container that will preserve the aroma and not leak. There are also plastic options (below) - with even less cost involved - they do look a little like a tampon- if that matters to you at all. I like when they come with labels - but you can easily apply your own sticker of label so you remember what your blend was and why you created it!
You can add your favorite combinations of essential oils - choose by what outcome you are looking for. You can add up to 15 drops total before you have to be concerned about leaking.
My favorite blends:
3 drops each of wild orange and peppermint.
5 drops Siberian Fir
4 drops Marjormam
6 drops Wild Orange
3 drops of each Serenity and Balance.
Antother option is "smelling salts". This is a more sustainable option. The bottles are completely reusable. Simply fill a 3/4 dram or 5ml amber glass bottle with some chunky Himalayan salt - which are being used on their own as an inhaled health option - have you seen the salt inhalers?
An extra little perk - add in some herb with your essential oil. It’s pretty, it feels good,
Any of these are perfect for those who work in places that have not evolved to prioritize workplace wellness practices over finicky people who insist that lysol is ok but essential oils are not. Be patient, this is changing - we just need more education about quality of our essential oils... there are still those who just don't know.
Try this - if you haven't, you will probably be amazed at the benefits. I have managed an all day battle with fatigue, nausea and head tension with just my "Power Through" blend alone!
Essential oils work - and it doesn't have to be complicated!
...Laurel Leaf essential oil is one for every home, let's put it to work for us.
Laurel leaves have been regarded highly sacred in both the ancient Greeks and the Romans. Their value being in the their symbolism for victory and high status. The Greeks also considered it to be a potent medicine that was capable of protecting them against plague and various diseases. To the Romans, it was a symbol of wisdom, peace, and protection.
Bay laurel was used to fashion the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, a symbol of highest status. A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games because the games were in honor of Apollo, It is also the source of the words baccalaureate and poet laureate, as well as the expressions "assume the laurel" and "resting on one's laurels".
Today, some of that carries over in the way we can value the Bay Laurel tree for its benefits for those who seek natural solutions for health care. I think you will love what you learn about this oil, as you read it - and even more so as you experience it.
Bay Laurel Leaf essential oil is derived from the Bay Laurel tree, which is also botanically known as Laurus nobilis, through a process of steam distillation. This oil is commonly confused with Bay oil, which comes from Pimenta racemosa instead. Although these two oils share similar qualities and have similar properties, they come from two very different plants. This is why it is so important to notice the Latin name on any bottle of oil that you purchase. You don't have to remember all of the names, just be sure that you are getting what you are intending to. Names of oils can be closely related and there can be very different chemistry profiles involved.
Health Benefits of Bay Laurel Leaf Essential Oil:
1. Respiratory Support
You can diffuse bay laurel leaf oil aromatically in a diffuser or personal inhaler. The essential oil of the bay laurel leaf is known to be an expectorant, clearing up excess phlegm and mucus and relieving nasal congestion. This oil is a valuable part of doTERRA Breathe respiratory blend as well. This, as a single oil or in a blend is one that is great to have handy when needing relief from coughs and congestion. The properties in this oil are credited for being antispasmodic, and thus able to provide relief from even the really uncomfortable cough.
We love how essential oils do not only address and soothe the symptoms, but are also equipped for the root cause. Laurel leaf also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties to aid the body in fighting off the threat that caused the problem in the first place.
Another nice way to use this oil is by making a steam inhalation. Add a few drops of the oil into a bowl of hot, steaming water and inhale the vapors, You can even mix it in combination with eucalyptus, lemon and oregano essential oil to produce optimum results!
2. Regulates Menstrual Flow
Extracts of the bay laurel leaves have been used to stimulate menstrual flows, making the essential oil a good, natural remedy for irregular and improper menstrual cycles.
Remember we said there are antispasmodic properties, this also can help to menstrual cramps - relaxing the uterine muscles. Added benefit may be the relief of commonly associated problems, such as nausea and fatigue.
TIP: Dilute the oil with a carrier oil (such as fractionated coconut oils) in a 1:1 ratio and gently massage onto your abdominal area for pain relief and to stimulate menstruation.
3. Relieves Discomfort
The analgesic properties in Laurel Leaf make it an option for addressing muscular and joint discomfort. This is great news for those with ongoing issues as well as for those who are looking for relief after an intense workout session. Another time to consider Laurel Leaf essential oil is for the relief of head tension.
This oil is very calming to the nerves as well and may help with discomforts related to disturbances of the nervous system.
In the presence of discomfort, we are usually looking for fast relief. Essential oils work fast and have additional benefits that are not offered by more conventional approaches that may also have unwanted side effects and may be harmful to your overall health in the long run. So, reach for the oil first. You will know quickly if it is going to be effective. If you don't experience the outcome you are looking for within 20 min, then you can always move to a different approach (a different oil or a more conventional approach).
When addressing pain, topical use may be best approach, simply dilute the oil with a carrier oil and gently massage onto the affected areas. Diluting is going to add to benefits of the oils by improving absorption and creating a little heat as you massage it in. You can also add a few drops of the oil in a warm compress and press gently onto the affected areas.
4. Helps to Support Wound Healing
This oil is also a great addition to your first aid kits as it helps to clean bacteria out from wounds, cuts, bruises or scrapes incurred. It may also help to speed up the healing process.
Apply around the wound, not directly on an open wound. Apply diluted bay laurel leaf oil onto the affected areas using a cotton swab,
5. Supports Digestive Health
Gently massaging diluted laurel leaf oil onto your abdominal area to suport your digestive health! This oil may boost appetite, so great for those who suffer from loss of appetite due to various reasons, Not only that, it also may help to remove excess gas from the stomach and intestines, and prevents the formation of gases in these digestive organs as well, This is going to be supportive in relieving any symptoms of indigestion, bloating or pain. Its antispasmodic qualities at work!
6. Insect Repellent
Diffusing Laurel Leaf essential oil or adding few drops of the oil to a spray bottle containing water, and spraying it all over surfaces and cracks to may prevent those little creatures from taking up residence.
Like so many of our essential oils, one of their purposes is to protect the plant from pests. This oil is no different, containing potent insect repelling qualities, If you eliminateing toxins from your environment is important to you, this is an added perk
Commercial pesticide bottles are detrimental not only to the environment, but to your health as well if you breathe in too much of it. Using essential oils as insect repellent has that extra benefit of eliminating yet another toxin from your life!
7. Promote Hair Growth
I am excited about this use! Laurel leaf oil is also thought to be a good tonic for the hair. If you are looking for a natural way to boost hair growth and prevent excessive hair loss, this is one to give a try. Because it is also an astringent, it helps to tighten the grip of the hair follicles and the hair roots, preventing loss of hair. It helps to moisturize the scalp too, preventing dandruff and flaky scalp. Healthy scalp means healthy hair.
Simply dilute the oil with a carrier oil in a 1:1 ratio and apply onto the scalp and hair. Rinse off after a few minutes.
Safety Precautions: Bay laurel leaf essential oil, when used in aromatherapy, is often mixed with other essential oils such as rose, rosemary, thyme, lavender, ylang-ylang, juniper berry, coriander, ginger and eucalyptus essential oils,
When applying bay laurel leaf oil, it is important that you dilute it heavily with a carrier oil in a 1:1 ratio and perform a skin patch test first to ensure you do not have any sensitivity. I would also recommend starting at higher dilution 1-3% when applying it topically. Because of its high concentration of eugenol, it has been known to irritate the skin.
There is not much reason to consume bay laurel leaf oil internally and as always, discuss it with your doctor or a medical expert if you are going to uslaurel leaf oil as a form of treatment, because the oil can interfere with your pre-existing prescribed drugs to produce unwanted side effects.
Chemistry, for those of you who are a little more curious about how we think we know how these oils work:
The main constituents of bay essential oil are alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, beta pinene, chavicol, geranyl acetate, eugenol, limonene, linalool, methyl chavicol, myrcene, and neral.
Sleep has an impact on every aspect of daily life. It affects your alertness, performance, physical health and mental wellness. Recent studies have linked sleep loss and sleep disorders to a variety of health problems. These include depression, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and stroke.
Besides all of that, let’s face it, when you are tired- everything is harder - and less fun. Personally, what caught my attention was struggling to remember things. The busier I got, the less clear my thinking was.. I know myself well enough to know that there is no chance that I’ll be content backing off on my dream life and for the time being, I also have a work shift that starts at 5:30am, and occasionally requires pulling all nighters (a testimonial to cultural factors that have led to our sleep deprivation problems.) If I’m not going to slow my roll, I’ll have to make adjustments in the management of my time, to include desperately needed sleep.
When I have a problem, I start by gathering evidence to support a plan of action. I know I need sleep if I’m going to be healthy and clear headed. I don’t have time to not sleep and this has been a problem. I simply didn’t want to “waste time” being unconscious. I had more important things to do! I was (and honestly, this is a work in progress) in need of a mindset change. So, I studied until I became more convinced of the value of sleep than I was of the value of staying (or trying to) stay awake.
The first thing I discovered is how important sleep is to brain function. The more i read, the more convinced I became that i could actually be more productive if I slept more. Even is I was not perceiving the massive impact, it was there - in the chemistry, in the brain waves.
We all know what sleep deprivation feels like. if it’s something that you regularly experience, no matter when you go to bed, you’re going to be shocked by what it does to your brain–I know that I was. Scientists have found that people suffering from sleep deprivation more often had cortical shrinkage than people who got the appropriate number of hours. And your cortex is the part of your brain that’s responsible for thought and action! This reduction in the volume of the cortex increases vulnerability to depression and addiction.
Have you ever pulled an all-nighter? I have. It felt terrible, but I did it anyway out of what i thought was necessity. Health care workers, law enforcement... probably others that I am not as familiar with all have all nighters built into the requirements of the job. This is unfortunate and could actually result in tragic consequences.
Researchers found that pulling an all-nighter leads to the blood levels of proteins associated with brain injuries like concussions to increase by 20%. So, Pulling an all-nighter is comparable to head trauma! That’s terrifying. For those of you who think I’m being dramatic, we also tend to ignore the significance of concussions.
The second thing I learned was that the hours that you sleep DO matter.
Our sleep cycles in and out of 2 phases: REM sleep, in which memories and thoughts are processed, and non-REM sleep, in which restorative functions occur and hormones are released to help the body recover. As we sleep, we experience 90-minute cycles of these 2 types of sleep.
The ratio of the types of sleep, however, changes during the night – no matter what time we go to sleep.
According to My research , Between the hours of 11 pm and 3 am, most of these cycles are non-REM (restorative), and between 3 am and 7 am, most of these cycles are REM (memory processing). THOSE WHO GO TO BED LATE MISS OUT ON MANY OF THE RESTORATIVE FUNCTIONS OF NON-REM SLEEP (Robbins).
Finally, I learned more about a whole host of negative consequences all associated with reduced sleep–including an increase in inflammation in the body and an increase in the rates of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and obesity. Yikes!
Ok, so there is some of the bad news. Time for isome of the good news! Besides changing jobs, there are some simple habits that we can adopt to help our sleep situation.
If you are thinking that it may be time for a sleep aid... consider natural options first:
Essential Oils for Sleep!
Somewhere between 50 and 70 million Americans are currently thought to suffer from sleep disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and around 4 percent of adults use prescription medication to get a good night’s rest. On average, sleeping pills will only add around 11 minutes of sleep time, according to a 2007 study from the National Institutes of Health, and will cause the user to drift off just 13 minutes sooner after getting into bed. As promised, they’re likely to help you go to sleep and stay asleep, but barely.
The best sleep aids are the ones that are not going to impede the normal body function or block our normal sleep mechanisms and interfere with a healthy sleep cycle. Certain essential oils, or highly concentrated versions of natural oils found in plants, have been shown to help improve sleep quality. These fragrant oils can be experienced in a diffuser, or by placing a few drops on your pillow at night, applied topically and some taken internally.
I am confident that there is a solution for you. Know that everyone is a little different in preference as well as physiological response. Here are just some of the essential oils that have been linked to better sleep:
Lavender is associated with lower blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, all necessary ingredients for a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that inhaling lavender can improve sleep quality, and it may help manage the recurring difficulties with sleeping. As an added bonus, lavender has been shown to reduce anxious feelings, making it a great essential oil to put on your pillow on nights when your racing mind is keeping you awake.
You might think that because bergamot is a citrus fruit (native to Italy and used in Italian holistic medicine), its essential oil would have an invigorating effect. Instead, it is known for its calming effect. Bergamot essential oil signals to your system that it is time for bed by slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. Plus, it reduces anxious feelings and stress.
This essential oil is gotten from citrus fruit, and that is the reason behind the pleasant smell it has. Bergamot has been proven to improve mood And reduce cortisol level in saliva, helping to keep you sedated. Bergamot has a wide range of medical benefits part of which is working as a sleep aid. Some of the common uses of bergamot essential oil include;
This oil is well-known for the treatment of sleep difficulties , and it comes in different species. Roman Chamomile is the most effective. Chamomile works like a sedative and relaxes the body and mind. To support sleep, ease tension, and stress, Chamomile is an excellent recommendation that will make sleeping incredibly easier. Roman Chamomile has a sweet scent that even children will enjoy. Research has also reported that it helps reduce tantrums in children and the frequency of nightmares generally. It remains unclear how chamomile essential oil has all of these effects; however, the positive effects have been well documented.
This essential oil works on a mental level and its primary function is to reduce stress and support emotional health. It is also known to improve a person’s mental well-being which can ease the stress of the mind. If you have a hyperactive mind and this overactivity of your mind makes it difficult for you to sleep, Ylang Ylang is the essential oil that you should use.
Marjoram may have even more profound effects than Chamomile and Lavender which are the most popular choices of sleeping aid. It is effective for supporting sleep, lowering the blood pressure, improve mood, calming the nervous system and ease tension and anxious feelings This is another time to mention that quality matter and you want to make sure you get the right type of marjoram which is sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorama). Sweet marjoram is the type of marjoram essential oil that works for sleep. Honestly, this is also why doTERRA oils are a great option - guess work removed in the commitment to quality.
Frankincense works on the limbic system which is the part of the brain that directly affects the nervous system. Frankincense sends calming messages to the limbic system which in turn improves mood and makes you feel less stressed. It also cures symptoms of indigestion, reduce anxious feelings , discomfort, and inflammation. Frankincense also helps reduce snoring as it can clear air passages which allows you to breathe properly while asleep. This one is different for everyone, some report feeling more clarity of mind, more awake. I find Frankincense to be very adaptogenic, if I want to diffuse it to help me sleep it is as relaxing as it is clarifying during the day when I use it for a refresher.
This essential oil is best known for hormone balance, and has some properties that help improve the mood and is an effective treatment for low or sad feelings. In comparison to lavender and chamomile, Clary Sage essential oil may be a more effective stress management - the aroma may not be as favorable. So, this may be one to apply to the feet and cover them up.
Cedarwood, Vetiver, Copaiba, as well a couple of blends- Serenity and Balance- are other popular options. So many options!
Additional Tips for a Better Night's Sleep:
How does all of that sound?
Take if from me, an authority on sleep and why it matters - only because I have tried sleeping 6 or less hours a night, and found it to be, not good. I have done my homework and discovered that while the obstacles to sleep may vary for all of us, we have these couple things in common: the need for sleep and some simple solutions as a place to start.
My intent is to raise the value of sleep and get us thinking about ways we can make a difference in our sleep deprived culture. Let's give our body the sleep it needs- not just the sleep we think it needs.
My hope is that everyone reading this will sleep a little better.
Remember that where essential oils are concerned, quality matters. It is not grocery store oils that are getting the outcomes cited in research. If you need these oils, I would be more than happy work with you in getting the essential oils you can trust to use to support your sleep and overall health!
References, to name a few:
Jockovich, M., Cosentino, D., Cosentino, L., Wears, R. L., & Seaberg, D. C. (2000). Effect of exogenous melatonin on mood and sleep efficiency in emergency medicine residents working night shifts. Academic Emergency Medicine, 7(8), 955-958.
Luik, A. I., Zuurbier, L. A., Hofman, A., Van Someren, E. J., & Tiemeier, H. (2013). Stability and fragmentation of the activity rhythm across the sleep-wake cycle: the importance of age, lifestyle, and mental health. Chronobiology international, 30(10), 1223-1230.
Walker, M. (2017). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Simon and Schuster.
I predict that the next wave of "oops, we swung the pendulum too far" will be regarding the use of corticosteroids. We have overdone it on opioids and are in crisis. We overused our antibiotics and now are in crisis mode. You would think we would learn.
Our culture demands instant gratification -- we want answers, treatment, cures...and we want it now. Oh, and we want it cheap and at our convenience.
Part of my job in preparing patients for surgery is to reconcile medications. In my work as a wellness coach, frequently health goals that come up involve "I would like not to be taking so much medicine." On social media, I don't think a day goes by that I don't see somoen posting about how many rounds of steroids they have endured in effort to combat their discomfort. (If it's not working, why do we just keep trying?)
Corticosteroids are prescribed by physicians for infectious diseases including the common cold, viral respiratory infections, pneumonia / bronchitis. This will work to suppress the symptoms, create a false sense of feeling 'high on life' while sick, and possible contribute to high marks on a patient satisfaction survey.
Short term benefit at long term expense to health.
For decades we have avoided these immunosupressive medications that rob you of your health behind a symptom-free facade (false front). But since we have created a crisis surrounding antibiotics and opiods, and patients demand for something to help them feel better, we have resorted to quick fixes.
Corticosteroids include oral meds like prednisone, methylprednisolone/Medrol dose pack, and Dexamethasone/Decadron. Topical forms range form the lowest strength being hydrocortisone, and six classes of stronger ones above this that will make your skin thin incredibly and the underlying cause and condition worsen and rebound once the med is stopped.
These steroids suppress immunity and the ability for tissues to heal and maintain their integrity and strength. Blood supply decreases to exposed tissues and small blood vessels break easily (capillary fragility). The supposed benefit is a decrease in inflammation but inflammation is linked to the repair and healing process. Another use is to reduce allergic reactions. This is potentially life saving in life-threatening allergic reactions like anaphylaxis or severe asthma. So, they are not all bad. When you need them, you want them! Used over a long period of time though, while symptoms are managed, the underlying cause may be compromised greatly.
When a doctor suppresses an inflammatory / 'autoimmune' disease like asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, arthritis or skin rashes with immune suppressing drugs like corticosteroids, THE UNDERLYING DISEASE IS going to get worse.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is catabolic meaning it breaks the body down and weakens tissues, breaks down protein and muscle. It helps your body get through stressful times but at a price. Anabolic hormones are testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone which increase protein synthesis and healing and regeneration. They strengthen you and increase lifespan. This is why we must rest and eat well and exercise not in excess so that we have good anabolic hormones and less catabolic hormones.
The side effects of corticosteroids are too many to list all here but here are some that come to mind. Corticosteroids, especially oral or IV cause susceptibility to infections, cancer/ tumor growth, diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts, skin thinning, muscle wasting, bone loss/osteoporosis, increase fat especially in the belly, obesity, psychosis, insomnia, mood disorders, rebound worsening of the underlying condition, impaired wound healing, and death of the head of major bones such as the ball (head) of the femur. This condition is called AVN (avascular necrosis of the head of long bones; necrosis means death; avascular means no blood supply). AVN is frequently silent and the hip or shoulder just suddenly crush and fail. I know a patient who has MS who took prednisone and other oral corticosteroids and ended up having both hips and a shoulder replaced. All it takes is one seemingly harmless injection of a corticosteroid for poison ivy to cause problems later on - The more exposure to them, the higher the risk.
Another huge negative effect is that corticosteroids cause suppression of the pituitary's production of ACTH, a hormone that stimulates your adrenal gland to be healthy. This causes adrenal deficiency following the steroid use.
Common uses of corticosteroids are:
ORALLY: Inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, allergic reactions, skin rashes, asthma, chronic lung diseases, auto-immune conditions such as lupus. Nowadays, doctors prescribe them when they never did before such as for a common cold or real infections to reduce symptoms!
TOPICALLY: psoriasis, eczema, rashes, poison ivy, hair loss. Topical and oral corticosteroids account for the majority of treatments recommended by dermatologists.
AGAIN I WILL NOTE THAT IF YOU CANNOT BREATH AS A RESULT OF SEVERE ASTHMA OR ALLERGIC REACTIONS INCLUDING ANAPHYLAXIS, THEN YOU MAY NEED A CORTICOSTEROID. Other than that, the use of corticosteroids should not be considered as a first line of defense. Ask what other options may be available to support your body in the healing process. Consider natural options first - dietary changes, herbs, behavioral changes, detoxificaiton, essential oils.
Let's just good consumers. Let's be proactive and dligent in our health care. Let's be informed and willing to ask questions, to ask for alternative solutions.
Wellness Advocate, BSN,RN