What’s Tough Enough To Kill The Plague but Gentle Enough For a Baby to Touch?

black death

YOU’LL WANT TO LET THESE THIEVES IN

Our story today is set in France, during the dark mysterious times of the Middle Ages. Disease and famine were rampant, and a new killer emerged, “Black Death”, or bubonic plague. Within 5 years of its spread to Europe, over 25 million people had died, or roughly one-third of Europe’s population! Legend has it that a band of four thieves roved the countryside, stealing the victims’ possessions once they had succumbed to the illness.

plague doctorMiraculously, the thieves never contracted the highly infectious plague and this led to deep inquiry in court after they were caught and charged. The magistrate offered them a deal, their secret for a reduced sentence. Taking the deal, they told stories of herbal remedies with powerful medicinal properties when combined in certain ways. This specific herbal blend that they had created, concocted from aromatic herbs, was HIGHLY EFFECTIVE in killing all of the airborne bacteria. Some of the stories told speak of it in a vinegar form, while others talk about a blend that was in a mask over their faces.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN GETTING SICK, WELL, NEVER?

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While we may never know if the story is true, we do know that the product born of the legend, Young Living Thieves Essential Oil (a blend of Clove, Lemon, Rosemary, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus therapeutic grade essential oils) is indeed a force to be reckoned with. In 1997, Weber State University did a study that found the Thieves essential oil blend to have a 99.96% success rate at killing airborne bacteria.

I don’t know about you, but my house is like a giant petri dish waiting to attack me. With 3 kids in three different school environments and a husband whose office holds the flu record, I am constantly bombarded with the latest, greatest “plague” of my own.

I have been using Thieves faithfully since I started my oil journey in January, both in my aromatic diffuser, and on my feet at night. During that time, I have survived 2 cases of flu in my house, one case of pink eye, a stomach virus, and an unknown tonsil blowout that was possibly Strep. Needless to say, my family hasn’t been on my oily bandwagon to this point.

Now remember, I have a lower white blood cell count (those cells you need to fight germs) than most people due to lingering effects of chemotherapy and radiation. How many times have I been sick in that 4-month window? Zero. Nada. Zip. That’s right, this girl’s immune system comes out swinging! I now call my Thieves oil my “immune system bouncer”.

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Another fantastic thing about Thieves is its incredible versatility. Young Living has dedicated entire product lines to this little germ-fighter. You’ll find it in everything from their toothpaste to their concentrated Thieves Household cleaner. This super economical cleaner lasts forever and will replace the bulk of your toxic products with something you can feel good about exposing your family to.

Want some more practical uses for Thieves?:

  • Natural Pesticide: Add a few drops of Thieves to a small spray bottle and spray on plants and flowers. The scent helps to repel bugs.
  • Acne Spot Treatment: Apply neat (undiluted) to a treat acne and promote healing. The clove and lemon oils in the Thieves blend is particularly helpful in reducing acne.
  • Treat Fungus: Apply neat (undiluted) to feet to kill fungus and promote healing.
  • Soothe a Bee Sting: Apply neat (undiluted) to a bee sting to relieve pain and neutralize the toxin. Be sure to dilute with a carrier oil for children.
  • Disinfect the Dishwasher: Add a few drops of Thieves to the detergent container in your dishwasher and run a normal cycle (either with or without a full load of dishes).

And the list goes on and on…

ALL THAT AND A FREE RECIPE, TOO?

I recently started making my own safe Hand Sanitizer. Kids are obsessed with those little cutesy bottles, but they have harmful chemicals in them. Try this instead:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp aloe vera gel
  • 1 Tbsp filtered (or distilled) water
  • 1/8 tsp Vitamin E Oil
  • 5 drops Young Living Thieves Oil

Equipment::

You will need a small 2 oz. squeeze bottle – perfect for keeping in your purse or diaper bag (Amazon has them. Be sure to get #1 or #2 plastic.)

Directions:

Combine aloe, Vit. E oil, and Thieves in bottle. Thin with water until it is desired consistency (should be thin enough to coat hands but not drippy).

You’re welcome. Now get your own bottle of Thieves, germ warriors, but please don’t start robbing graves!

If you’ve missed any of the Essential Oils 101 series, please visit the “Essential Oils” category on the right side of the blog to catch up.

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Pardon Me, Can I Have Your Immune System?

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What if I told you that you could harness the incredible power of a healthy immune system that didn’t even belong to you? Kind of like a rent-a-cop for your white blood cells? Um, yes please!

Well, the good news is that you can, without harvesting organs or taking anyone hostage. Because your new healthy immune system would go to waste in prison, or at worst be traded for cigarettes.

The Guards Have Left the Building 

As many of you reading this blog know all too well, a body assaulted by chemotherapy and radiation doesn’t fight infection very well. You become incredibly familiar with your dwindling “White Blood Cell Count” as you trudge to your next appointment and cross your fingers.

What you may not know is that your immune system had a glitch long before you were ever diagnosed, while you still looked and felt “healthy”. A properly functioning immune system has white cells that function as “guards at the gate”, kind of like the ones you see at a military base entrance.

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Surprise! Everybody Has Cancer 

I hate to break this news, but we all have rogue, or “cancer” cells floating around our bodies all the time. When our physiology is functioning normally, our immune cells, those “guards”, recognize the cancer cells as enemies and promptly mount an attack to get rid of them. When something breaks down in that process, the cancer cells are able to gain a foothold and multiply out of control.

So when the doctor tells you, “Congratulations! We got all of the cancer.” or, “You’re cancer-free”, that is a fairy tale. There’s no way to guarantee that one of those “bad cells” didn’t survive the treatment. As a matter of fact, it’s almost a certainty that it did.

Excuse Me, Mr. Plant, I Need To Borrow Your Immune System

What can you do to prevent cancer or keep it from coming back? There’s no one, simple answer to that question. Just as there were multiple factors that allowed cancer to invade your body, there are multiple things you must do to keep it in check and co-exist.

One of the most powerful weapons I have in my anti-cancer arsenal is my Young Living essential oils collection. Why?

Inside every plant, shrub, tree, or flower is a source of energy, life and healing compounds. The essential oil is like the blood and immune system of the plant. In the plant, it seals cuts and heals wounds, provides nutrients and oxygen for cellular regeneration, and guards against unwanted harmful invaders.

The essential oil is 200-10,000 times more powerful than an herb from the same plant. Therefore, it has incredible medicinal power and a little goes a long way.

In 20 seconds, the oil can penetrate the tissues of the skin and get into the bloodstream, and it is one of the few substances with particles small enough to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. This is how certain oils affect brain inflammation, emotions, focus, and concentration.

Essential oils are among the most powerful anti-oxidants on earth. Some are antibacterial, some are antiviral. In addition to supporting the immune system, they benefit the body in many ways: relaxing muscle, helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels, soothing aches and pains, aiding digestion, promoting sleep, slowing aging, etc.

I Don’t Have Time To Squeeze Oil Out of Plants!

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That’s quite a picture! You in your secret basement lab wringing out some poor peppermint leaves into a jar. Let’s not go there.

How do they get the essential oils out of the plants?

Essential Oils are extracted in many ways, but the primary method is steam distillation. But there are a number of ways that the oils can be grown and extracted that are very cost efficient and produce large amounts of cheap oil, such as:

  • Using Chemical Solvents. These mix with the oil in the final product and leave behind chemical residue which doesn’t have to be listed in the ingredients.
  • Diluting the pure essential oil with another oil or a synthetic substance (think perfumy) to make it go farther. Again, this won’t be on the label!
  • Steam distilling the same batch of plants over and over again. This would be like using the same coffee grinds to brew six pots of coffee. That sixth batch would be pretty weak and useless.
  • Spraying the crops with chemical pesticides to increase crop yields.

Young Living doesn’t use any of these methods. They sell only the first distillation, and no chemical pesticides or fertilizers are ever used. As a matter of fact, they use their own oils as pesticides, and most weeds are still picked by hand. Pretty rare for a large corporation!

Young Living Lavender Fields, Utah

Young Living Lavender Fields, Utah

Interested in the science? I’ll link to a few abstracts below for you to peruse:

1) Anti-Cancer activity of essential oils: a review

2) Immunomodulatory activity of geranial, geranial acetate, gingerol, and eugenol essential oils: evidence for humoral and cell-mediated responses.

3) Anticancer activity of essential oils and their chemical components – a review

If any of this strikes a chord in you, and you want to get started with your own oil journey, check out the Essential Oils tab on my home page to sign up.

Supplements That Have Let Me Live Well During Chemotherapy, Part 2

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

As promised, I am going to outline the supplements that I have used specifically for chemotherapy and why I chose them. If you missed the first part of this post, you can catch up here. I am undergoing Adriamycin/Cytoxan/Taxol (ACT or ECT) chemotherapy for breast cancer, but I feel that these supplements would be helpful to anyone needing immune or antioxidant support during a period of chronic stress.

I can see your eyes getting big when I mention antioxidants. It is a very controversial topic when it comes to chemotherapy. Some doctors discourage the use of antioxidants for fear that they might lessen the effectiveness of drugs that work through oxidation. However, there are many scientific studies showing that antioxidants actually increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs while reducing the side effects. Click here to take a look at an article that is really well done and explains how each drug category is affected by a specific antioxidant.

Just a note of caution here. Most of the following supplements are plants, so if you have strong allergies, proceed slowly. If you are allergic to ragweed or daisies, be aware that Echinacea and Astragalus are in this family. Also, if you take a large amount of prescription medication, it would be wise to do some research and see if there is any interference with these substances. If you feel like you want to talk to someone about it, your best bet would be an herbalist or a Naturopath. Your MD will probably look at you like a deer in the headlights.

Astragalus by jrdnzASTRAGALUS (photo by jrdnz)

Astragalus is a fantastic product for deep immune support. It inhibits tumor growth, increases natural killer cells, protects the kidneys and liver, and reduces fatigue. The product I take is from Gaia Herbs and is called Astragalus Supreme. This is from an organic farm right here in Asheville, but it is available online. I take 2 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.

Echinacea Purpurea by Jonathan BillingerECHINACEA (photo by Jonathan Billinger)

Echinacea is another fantastic immune support product. It is helpful in preventing illness with decreased white blood cell counts and also instrumental in stimulating new cell production. This is the magical herb among Sioux Indian tribes both for healing and for health maintenance. I use a Mediherb product called Echinacea Premium. Once again, this company has a wonderful reputation for quality, and they grow all of their own herbs on a large organic farm. I alternate this product with Astragalus; when one runs out, I take the other, etc. I take 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.

Milk Thistle by H ZellMILK THISTLE (photo by H Zell)

This is the ultimate in liver protection. And when your liver is being bombarded by chemo drugs, pain killers, steroids, and God knows what else, you need some protection. Milk thistle also protects the kidneys, lowers LDL cholesterol, and decreases intestinal damage. I read some research showing that silymarin, an ingredient in milk thistle, may have an estrogenic effect. But other research showed that it inhibited metastasis. I probably will discontinue this one after treatment, just to be safe. But for now, my liver is in tip top shape. I use a product called Liver Health, also by Gaia Herbs, 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms by BuckeyeinTriadTURKEY TAIL MUSHROOM (photo by BuckeyeinTriad)

Also known as Trametes versicolor, the turkey tail is the “mack daddy” of mushrooms. As a matter of fact, it is used as standard of oncological care in Japan and China, where 9600 clinical randomized clinical trials have been done on disease-free and overall survival. Improved immune function seems to be a key in prevention of primary and secondary breast cancer, and medicinal mushrooms shine in this area. I use a product called Chemo/Rad Support by Dr. Kang Secret Formulas. You can Google this and order online. I like this fomula because it has other ingredients to help with the toxicity and side effects of chemo and radiation. It says to take 2-3 three times per day, but I can’t do this many pills. So I take 1 in the morning and one in the aftenoon. After treatment, I may move strictly to a mushroom extract.

So far, all of these supplements have been basic support formulas for any kind of stress/disease state. The following are more specific and I took these when I couldn’t stomach anything else in those days right after treatment.

ESSENTIAL FOR AC/EC:

COENZYME Q10- One of the most devastating side effects of AC/EC is cardiotoxicity. I am a runner, and this doesn’t work for me, so I got serious about protecting my heart. Adriamycin works by damaging DNA in cancer cells. Unfortunately, the mitochondria (or energy plants) in the cells of your heart are very susceptible to the inflammation that this creates. CoQ10 is an anti-oxidant that protects healthy tissues in your heart. Not only that, but COQ10 has been shown to stimulate the immune system, allowing it to “fight back” against cancer cells. I take 100mg twice per day.

ESSENTIAL FOR TAXOL:

L-GLUTAMINE- I know you’ve heard me talk about an L-glutamine cocktail to drink during infusion and for a few days after. In addition to that, I take L-glutamine capsules every day. They can help prevent destruction of the GI lining and peripheral neuropathy. As a bonus, they can enhance your mood, and who doesn’t need that right now? I take two 1,000mg capsules twice per day.

For infusion days: mix 15mg of L-glutamine powder in ginger ale or fruit water and start sipping about 15 mins prior to Taxol. I keep sipping throughout. That day and for the next 2-3 days, I have one of these cocktails twice per day.

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HOW CAN I TAKE ALL THESE?

 

I know this seems like a lot of pills, and I’m not gonna lie. It is. But you do get used to it, and you have to remember that it’s for a very good cause, you! I break it up so I’m taking pills 3x/day. It’s just a habit now. Write down everything that you choose to take, the dosage, and how many times per day you need to take it. Then build yourself a dosing schedule that works around breakfast, lunch and dinner. I find that it’s easier to remember to take pills if I’m sitting down to eat. The only exception is L-glutamine: try to take it on an empty stomach, at least in the morning.

I’ll be posting additions as I go along in treatment and beyond. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve found supplements that helped with chemo, radiation, or general health. Good luck!!