It Puts The Oil On Its Skin And….It’s Hair Grows Thicker?!?

3 Years Ago

3 Years Ago. Notice That Sexy Bald Spot Up Front

Mother Nature Wants You Dead!

Perhaps some of you out there can relate. As a woman ages becomes wiser, Mother Nature starts to play these cruel little jokes on her just for fun. You see, after 40, you’re washed up! So sad, too bad. Once you’ve birthed them babies, you have no purpose left in the strictly biological sense. You’ve seductively flipped your long, luxurious locks for the last time, sister!

One day, you look in the mirror, and you start to notice just a tiny bit less hair up front than you used to have. It’s subtle at first. You can do a comb-over and keep things in your denial box, for a while. A couple years pass, and there ain’t a comb big enough to cover up that mess! You’re…offcially…old.

Well, that was happening to me at a fairly rapid pace. I would take a shower and have to hold hairs aside so they wouldn’t go down the drain and clog it when they came out. I’m not talking about a handful; just enough to be depressing.

 I Only Thought I Had Bad Hair Until Chemo

Wanna complain to the Universe about your misfortune? Whammo! It can most definitely get worse. After the top picture, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent a year of treatment including double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, followed by reconstruction. All in all, it could have been a far more devastating experience. I took care of myself with food, supplements and exercise to get through it relatively unscathed. One of the worst parts? Losing my hair.

I know, I know, that sounds really shallow. But, not only is a woman’s hair one of her most powerful outward signs of femininity, it’s loss also reminds her daily that she is sick. As long as you have hair on your head, you can be undergoing the most rigourous treatments and still feel normal. When you lose it, you suddenly become a “patient”, someone to be pitied.

Once chemo was over, my hair started to grow back, very curly I might add. At first, it looked like I would end up with better hair than before. No loose locks in the shower, no thin spot up front. I was secretly tickled.

Then, over the past several months, as my hair has gotten longer (and been colored enhanced), I started noticing that my part was getting wider again. And I was getting some hair on my hands when I washed it. “Oh no! Not Again.”

Oil To The Rescue

ningxia red

I figured it was just my destiny as a menopausal crone to be follicularly challenged. Well, over the last few weeks, I have noticed those little baby hairs coming in fast and furious at my hairline. And…my part is filling in. At first I thought it was just my imagination, but now it’s unmistakable. The only thing I have done differently is diffuse and apply my Young Living Oils daily and drink the super-antioxidant, essential-oil infused Ningxia Red drink by the same company.

You can hear life-changing testimonials from other people, but until you start to experience your own health shifts, they’re just that…stories. I’ve only been using these oils for about a month and a half, and I feel better on the inside, but I’ve been waiting for a sign, an “Aha!” moment. Well today, the outward signs of health are mirroring the changes going on inside. “Aha!”

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I’m putting the cart before the horse a little bit (again, I know!) with this post. We had really just begun our oily education. But I felt compelled to share this with you today.

Coming up..The what, why and how of essential oils. Then we’ll move on to individual oils and their unique uses and health/beauty benefits, including cancer prevention and possibly…adjunct treatment!

If at any point you feel like you’re excited and want to give these a try, e-mail me and I’ll tell you the best and most economical way get started with the company I use for my family and my patients.

It Puts The Oil On Its Skin…The Cheap, Adulterated Oil…Mwahahaha

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Take One Down And Pass It Around!

 At this point, some of you are thinking “Whoa there, crazy oil lady!  I just came to this blog because it popped up on my Google search for ‘boobs’. Why do I care about this? I don’t even know what an essential oil really is, let alone how it could possibly work on my health issues. Why should I worry about which company to use or how expensive they are? Aren’t you jumping the gun here?”

In the alternate scenario (in my head), you’re exclaiming “Wow! I’m digging all this information about the oily goodness. I never imagined that this tiny bottle could offer so much healing potential. But how do I know which one to use for what? And how can I be sure that I’m getting a quality product? Please educate me, Oh Oily One.”

Obviously, this is a subject that is very important to me. And I promise, by the end of my series, you will be at least somewhat intrigued about what these oils can offer you and your loved ones And you’ll be armed with the knowledge to use them wisely. I’m doing this post first, which seems to be “premature oilation”, to prevent you from being the star in the following scenario:

A Disaster Unfolds

You’ve always been on the cutting edge, you overachiever you, and you rush right over to the health food store and snag yourself a bottle of lavender, excited about cracking the seal and getting a better night’s sleep. And, you get it at a great price (far less than what your friend at work paid). You bring your bottle to work proudly. Your friend, who claims to be some sort of oil guru, takes one look at it and gives you a disapproving eye roll.

I know none of your friends would do this; it’s a  hypothetical story.

She starts her spiel about the differences in the quality of essential oils, and you politely listen while you think about the doughnut waiting for you in the break room. You just can’t get past one question: “Why would I spend $28 for a bottle of lavender when I just got the same thing for $9.95? I’m obviously the smarter one here!” There can’t be that much difference between oils. Can there?

ess oils quality pyramid

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Shakespearean sonnets aside, a rose is most definitely not a rose.  It takes 5,000 pounds of rose petals to produce one pound of rose oil. And to completely extract the oil without compromising its purity and fragrance requires a meticulous two-part distillation process. Quality rose oil is one of the most expensive oils you can buy. If you are buying a 15 ml bottle of this oil for $50, you can be sure you have wasted your hard-earned money.

But It Smells Good To Me!

Here’s the issue. Aromatherapy is a huge buzzword right now. Due to its popularity, an ever-growing number of marketers have jumped on the essential oils bandwagon in search of an easy profit. Some companies market essential oils that have been cut with synthetic chemicals or blended with cheaper hybrids.  This is very common with lavender. The FDA only requires that a bottle of essential oil contain 5% of the actual oil to be labeled 100% pure, meaning that the 5% is indeed pure. This makes it very difficult to tell what you’re getting.

Let’s take that bottle of lavender, for example. Most of the lavender oil sold today is actually a hybrid called lavandin, not lavender. It’s grown and distilled in China, Russia, and Tasmania, and brought into France, where it is heated to evaporate the camphor, cut with synthetic linolyl acetate to improve the fragrance, added to propylene glycol or SD40, DEP, and DOT (solvents that increase the volume), and then sold to you as lavender oil. You don’t know the difference, and you’re thrilled that you’ve paid less than $10.

Frankincense is another example, and one I’ll be referring to again because it is oil numero uno in my cancer prevention toolkit. The frankincense resin that’s sold in Somalia costs between $30,000 and $35,000 per ton. A great deal of time- 12 hours or more- is required to properly steam distill the essential oil from the resin, which makes it very expensive. Frankincense oil that sells for less than $25 per ounce is heavily adulterated with chemical solvents to make its production cheaper. It is then further diluted with more chemicals, such as diethylphthalate or dipropylene glycol. That just sounds healthy, doesn’t it?

Aromatherapy Is Far More Than Just The Smell

There are at least 200 companies marketing essential oils in North America. However, most of these oils are of the lowest grade and quality.  While some of these products may have a pleasing fragrance, the truth is that they have little to no therapeutic benefit. In the worst case scenario, they can actually be harmful, causing anything from allergic reactions to endocrine disruption.

label comparison oils

The picture on the right is a Young Living bottle.

What’s the consumer to do? Since I can hear you getting restless out there, I’m going to finish up this post tomorrow. Then we’ll move on to specifics, get down to the nitty gritty, get our hands oily. Ok, I’m done. Sorry about that.

Unexpected Natural Remedies That Are Blowing My Mind, Part 2

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The Artist Formerly Known as “Chuck”

He’s Joined The “Dark Side”

When we last left our saga, my skeptical Jeep-driving, gun-toting, Wrangler jean-wearing, red-blooded American husband had donned colorful silk clothing, joined my essential oil cult and taken the name “River”. What happened?

When I brought my starter kit of Young Living Essential oils home, I told my husband he would henceforth be my guinea pig. He has enough ailments for me to get plenty of practice and really give these a college try.

panaway

We decided to start with the knee, which has been through 4 arthroscopic surgeries, several bucking horses in the rodeo, and a life of general rough and tumble “real man” stuff. I applied the PanAway oil, which was suggested for joint pain, arthritis and muscle aches.

Most days my husband’s poor knees sound like machine gun fire when he stands up, and he describes his pain like a “headache in your knees”. It’s a constant, dull ache. He’s my weather forecaster; his joints know when the pressure is changing outside.

So we put about 2 drops on each knee, rubbed it in, and went back to watching “The Bachelor”. Ok, I went back to watching it, and he sat next to me and hated it the whole time. After 10 minutes, he stood up to try and escape  get a drink, and he turned and just stared at me.

“What”, I teased “are you afraid you’ll miss the Fantasy Suite? Don’t worry, I’ll fill you in.”

“No”, he bounced up and down. “My knees….don’t hurt. Really, I can still feel the grinding and popping, but the ache is gone.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I thought maybe he was just trying to make me feel better to get into his own “fantasy suite”.

“Seriously! I don’t know what the heck is in this stuff, but it feels better than the last cortisone shot I got”.

I was beyond pleased. That was quite a testimony for 10 minutes of being oiled up. The proof in the pudding would be what happened next. Maybe it was just like the “Ben-Gay effect” and the pain would come back in a few minutes.

That didn’t happen. We went to bed, and in the morning I asked cautiously about the knees, one eye closed.

“It still doesn’t hurt. That’s the easiest time I’ve had getting out of bed in months.”

My poor husband will sometimes wake up in excruciating pain from having slept with his knees in the wrong position. And inevitably, he looks like the tin man trying to straighten up in the morning. We were both now seriously impressed.

He went to work, and I could hardly wait for him to come back for the evening oil report. By about 6 that night, after being on his feet all day, the pain had started creeping back in a little bit.

We applied “the oil”, as we affectionately called it. Same result. Nearly instant pain relief. The more we’ve done this, the longer the effect has lasted. He can now go 2 days between oilings, and that seems to be where we’ll stay.

He actually said to me the other day: “Did you order ‘the oil’? I don’t ever want to be without it.” Um, ok River, I think the drum circle is missing your karma.

Essential Oils And the “C” Word?

After that first amazing week, I’ve gotten much more familiar with all of the 11 oils in my kit. I’ve done my research on their benefit, with particular interest in how they can be used in a cancer survivor’s prevention toolkit. The research is astonishing, both in volume and content. (I’m looking at you, my favorite Australian scientist) :)

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Check Out How Many Results There Are!

I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you in the coming posts. I’ll go over how essential oils work and how you can use them for common health concerns, including the “C” word.

So do I think the hubby can completely avoid the knee replacement staring him in the face? These are oils, not magic beans. But if we can keep him comfortable enough to enjoy life for a few more years, I say that’s worth the investment.

Here’s to you, River. I think I’ll call you by your Sioux name, Dances With Oils.

Unexpected Natural Remedies That Are Revolutionizing My Family’s Health

lavender plant

We Love Chemicals Around Here

Um, no thanks, we don’t really like to use natural products in our home when there’s a chemical alternative. The flu, yes please, we’ll take it! Builds character. The baby prefers parabens and blue #46 in his diaper cream, you freak! These are a few phrases often said by…no…one…ever.

These words are laughable, but so many of us live this way on autopilot without ever stopping to think what we are putting into our bodies or our environments.

As a holistic physician and a breast cancer survivor, I really should know better, but I ‘m just as guilty as the next guy. I do try to eat healthy and exercise, but I’ve got my fair share of Ibuprofen and Lysol in my house, and….Egads! I use tap water!

In my endless search to shore up my immune system and make myself healthier in general to prevent a recurrence, I have started taking a long, hard look at the medicines and household products we use. Don’t be lulled into thinking that only the things you physically put into your body can harm you. Everything from make-up to hand lotion, to cleaning solutions, to shampoo contain ingredients that are toxic and can lead to debilitating health issues.

Think I’m exaggerating? Grab one of your skin or beauty products, go here, and type in some of the ingredients. Be ready to drop jaw. Now some of you might be thinking, “Ok, so there are a few things I use that aren’t so healthy. They won’t kill me, and I’ll look really cute”. No, one or two might not hurt you because your amazing liver is plugging away to detox for you. But take all the products you use, day in and day out, and that toxicity builds up and can overwhelm your precious liver. And, let me tell you, a bum liver makes for a bad day.

What I’m About To Tell You I Discovered By Accident

My kids make fun of me and call me a hippie because of my arsenal of vitamins, juices, and health foods. But then I see them, when they think I’m not looking, and they’re eating some kale. Score!

I’ve always been interested in essential oils. I wasn’t sure why; they just appealed to my nature on some level. I would go to Whole Foods or Earth Fare and smell all the little bottles, but I never bought any. I guess I didn’t really know what to do with them.

About a month ago, I attended an Essential Oils 101 class given by a good friend of mine who is also a holistic physician. Something about the class and my level of trust in her persuaded me to buy my “starter kit” of oils and really figure out if they could help me and my family in any way.

Here’s a picture of what I got:

starter kit pi

My kit had 11 of the most popular essential oils, a special cool diffuser that atomizes the oil particles, some sample oil packets, a roller attachment for the bottles, and 2 packets of a super-antioxidant, low sugar drink. Anti-oxidants…can we say good for keeping your cells healthy and multiplying properly?

I’m a Huge Scientific Nerdy Skeptic

Well, I don’t just take anything at face value. I research it ad nauseum (usually way too long) before I make up my mind. I took my little kit home and started diffusing away, half expecting it to just make my house smell good but little else. Hey, even that’s a bonus with 3 kids, a dog, and 2 cats. That combo doesn’t always make for the most pleasing aroma, if you know what I mean.

What Happened Next Shocked the Heck Out of Me

My husband is not exactly what you’d call “metro” or “New Age”. He’s more like a Fred Flintstone kind of guy when it comes to doing anything out of the mainstream. So he looked at me like he always does when I came home with my oils. “Tolerant Disbelief” describes it best, I suppose. He knows me by now. No words are necessary.

Let me tell you…my husband was the first Berlin Wall of oil to tumble down. Now he’s with me, running through a field of tulips….ok, not quite.

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Stay tuned tomorrow, and I’ll tell you what turned Fred Flintstone into Yanni.

How Being Sour May Just Save Your Breasts…And Your Life

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I knew there was a benefit to my attitude! Instinct wins again.

Many people reading my blog have either had breast cancer, are in the middle of treatment, or are trying desperately to figure out how to keep it from coming back.  At the very least, you probably love someone you don’t want to lose.

That’s where my passion lies. I decided after my own bout with advanced breast cancer two years ago that it was my calling and my mission to educate myself and other women about natural prevention, nutrition, and treatment support.

When something easy yet powerful comes along, I listen…

I scour tons of literature looking for ways to protect myself in my quest to stay healthy and to be there for my kids. For cancer survivors, nothing is taken for granted and each day is a gift.  Although the fear dims with the passing of time, the possibility of recurrence lurks in the background like a constant companion.

So What’s The Latest Scoop?

The simply elegant, unceremonious little LEMON. More specifically, a recent study at the Arizona Cancer Center showed that the peel of the lemon is the hero in our story. The peel contains a natural substance called d-limonene, which has shown promise against a wide variety of cancers. In this study, a small group of women were given 2 grams of limonene each day for 6 weeks before lumpectomy surgery.

In these women, d-limonene supplementation reduced expression of the breast tumor marker cyclin D1 by 22%!

Cyclin D1 rears its ugly head in over half of invasive breast cancers and can cause Tamoxifen treatment failure.

D-limonene is known as a terpene. Other sources include:

  • citrus fruits
  • berries
  • cherries
  • peppermint
  • basi
  • thyme
  • rosemary

So How Are You Gonna Get Your Terpenes?

my juice glass

A delicious and easy way to get several in one shot would be to make a daily green juice. I just bought a Breville juicer and have tried out the following recipe:

4 lactinato kale leaves rolled into a bundle

3 carrots

half a lemon with peel on

half a grapefruit

1 inch of ginger

With juicing, it is very important not to overload with sweet fruits. Remember, sugar feeds cancer, and whenever you juice it’s like mainlining produce.

You can also whip up a smoothie in a Vitamix or a Ninja. This will retain the fiber of the veggies, and you’ll get more yield from your greens.

Whichever way you go, please use organic produce. We don’t want to flood you with a pesticide cocktail!

Be creative in your cooking. Find some recipes that use lemon zest. Click here for an easy one that I use often. (I substitute pesto for the mustard).

I’ll be writing a series of posts about how to use natural substances in your health toolkit. Until someone can improve on nature, that’s where my focus will be.

For now, pucker Up And Get Your Lemon On!

Cancer Schmancer: Here’s To Completely Shaking Up 2015!

It’s been a while since I last posted. I guess I had run out of things to say…same old, same old. “I’m trying to find my purpose after my breast cancer diagnosis.” “I can’t seem to shake this funk.” “My hormones are kicking my ass.” I got tired of listening to myself. Then, something came over me….

None of this is ever going to change if you wake up each morning with the same mindset and continue doing what you’ve always done. Not exactly a revelation, but so many times we hear things over and over, and one day they just  click.

So…I’ve decided that enough time in my life has been wasted on regret and negativity. I’ve embarked on a total life overhaul. How?

I’m not sure where or when it happened exactly, but I started reading motivational books, listening to positive affirmations, and generally trying to surround myself with positive influences in the virtual world. I started taking yoga classes, which I find deeply relaxing for the rest of the day. Got stress? Take yoga!

I got myself a business coach because I decided that I have something to offer other people, even if I haven’t completely refined my niche just yet. I know that it will involve holistic health care for women with a specialty in holistic cancer care during treatment and beyond. That one decision to get a coach has profoundly changed my mindset. He is an acupuncturist with a degree in Eastern philosophy. He is incredibly inspiring, not “salesy” and “sleazy”.

Most recently, I came across a phenomenal young man named Hal Elrod who is a life coach and extremely successful motivational speaker. He had a high-paying sales job at 20 years old when he was struck head on at 70 mph by a drunk driver going the wrong way down the interstate. He had to be cut out of the car and was clinically dead for 6 minutes before paramedics could revive him and airlift him to the hospital.

Take a peek at Hal speaking in the video below. You don’t have to watch the whole thing…but I bet you won’t be able to stop.

Told he would probably never walk again and had suffered permanent brain damage, he chose to accept whatever would come without self-pity. He told his father that he either would walk again or “be the happiest guy you know in a wheelchair”.

He did walk again, through sheer determination. He went back to his sales career and shattered his previous records. Eventually, he wrote a book that would become one of the highest rated in Amazon history, at age 32!

The name of that book is “The Miracle Morning”, and I just started reading it. So far, it has been full of great advice and inspiration. The book talks about how all highly successful people wake up early and have a morning routine that sets the tone for the rest of the day. The book spells out 6 points of that routine in detail, all of which take no more than an hour.

Not being a morning person, at all, I’m a little nervous about getting up an hour earlier, but the book has hundreds of testimonials on Amazon about how it has changed lives. I’m really excited to try it. I’m going to finish it this weekend and start on Monday.

The book talks about having an Accountability Partner for the “30 day Life Transformation Challenge”, so if any of you want to do it along with me, let me know. There is a website where you can get some great free stuff and get a feel for the philosophy. You do have to give an e-mail address, just a heads up. No…I don’t work for this guy:)

I know that there may still be ups and downs in my recovery, but I finally feel like I’m on the right path and learning how to enjoy the journey. Happy New Year, my friends!

Photography 101: Moment

I know that this is a photography prompt, but this scene so perfectly captures the essence of the prompt that I couldn’t resist. And, hey, I did take this video with my camera.

I was shopping at Whole Foods market in Florida this past Spring on a warm, beautiful day. As I stood outside waiting for my mother to check out, this elderly man sat down at the piano by the entrance and began to play.

He played several songs, including “The Entertainer”, a ragtime favorite. I was riveted to him and hated to leave. What an unexpectedly delightful “Moment”.