a Simple, Simple Syrup With Essential Oils

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and tried to sweeten your iced tea with a packet of granulated sugar?   What happens?  Not much, right?  All the sugar granules meant to sweeten your tea sink to the bottom.  You’re left with UNsweetened tea and sad taste buds.   Sure, those granules will eventually dissolve, but you’ll finish your beverage before that happens.  

Since sugar is more soluble in hot liquids than cold liquids, you’ll always have this problem with restaurant iced tea.  But at home, there’s a remedy for this!  Make a simple syrup.   Below I will explain how and why you should make your own simple syrup.  And most importantly, I’ll give you a recipe on how to make a naturally-flavored syrup using 100% pure, edible essential oils.

Essential oil-flavored simple syrup will add sweet, unique flavors, and even health benefits, to your desserts and beverages.  Just think of all the possibilities!  Perhaps a lavender lemonade?  Or a lemon/rosemary tea? 

Simple syrups are not reserved for only cold items, you can use them on and in baked goods, too.  Imagine drizzling a peppermint-flavored syrup over a freshly baked chocolate bundt cake.  It soaks into the cake, keeping it moist and flavorful.

Oh man, I’m having all the drools…

Flavored simple syrups are everywhere – they’re used in coffee and cocktails all over the world.  But, did you know that it’s called “simple syrup” because it consists of only two main ingredients?   Sugar and water.  And it’s extremely simple to  make!

You can spruce up your syrup by flavoring it the old way (adding fresh herbs and fruits to the syrup during the heating process and skimming them out at the end) OR, you can do it the quick, easy, and longer-lasting way by using 100% pure, edible essential oils.

 Fresh herbs/fruits vs. essential oils?

Herbs and fruits are perishable.  If they are used in your syrup, it will lose flavor within 24 hours and go bad quickly.  It will have to be consumed within a day or so.  This is okay if you are going to be using it all up the same day.  But for those who want to store it in their fridge, and use as needed, essential oils are the way to go.

Essential oils will pack a flavorful punch to your syrup, giving it a much longer shelf life.   It’s a great way to incorporate sweetness and fresh natural flavoring to items that wouldn’t do well with a grocery-store extracts.

Oh, and the BEST part!?  How often do you find flavorings that actually have health benefits?  Um, never.  In order to keep those lovely health benefits, the essential oils are added to the syrup after it’s cooled down a bit.  High heat diminishes the health benefits in essential oils.

Think of the wide variety of flavors you will have to choose from!   Lemon, lime, tangerine, bergamot, lavender, black pepper, pink pepper, fennel, ginger, basil, marjoram, Roman chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass, rosemary, wild orange, cassia, cinnamon bark and many more.  And the myriad of combinations that you can create!   You need only 1-2 drops (sometimes less) of essential oil to flavor the whole batch, and so it’s very economical.

But first…

PLEASE ONLY USE 100% PURE, FOOD GRADE ESSENTIAL OILS.  As you may have heard, not all essential oils are created equal.   You can’t buy any old oil from a store and ingest it.  They are not all 100% pure (EVEN IF THE BOTTLE SAYS 100% PURE ESSENTIAL OIL!!).   Only certain companies provide the purest of essential oils that are safe for consumption.   The bottles I purchase have a “Supplement Facts” on the bottle if it is ingestible.   The company is also very open and forthcoming about their oil sourcing, testing for purity, etc.  So you know that you are getting exactly what the bottle’s label says.
 
The recipe below is commonly known as the 1:1 method.  There is also a 2:1 method which is much richer – it takes 2x the amount of sugar as the 1:1 method.

SIMPLE, SIMPLE SYRUP WITH ESSENTIAL OILS

1 C granulated white sugar (for richer syrup, use 2 C sugar)
1 C water
1 drop (or more or less, depending on which oil is used)
16 oz. sterilized mason jar

Gently heat sugar and water until sugar is dissolved.  Turn off the heat immediately and allow to cool.  Do not let boil.

Boil some water in a kettle to use to sterilize the mason jar/lid.  Sterilize your mason jar by filling it with boiling water – and pour some over the lid too.  Only dump out the boiling water once you are ready to fill your jar with the hot syrup.

Dump the boiling water out of your jar and fill it with your yummy hot syrup.  When the syrup has cooled, add the essential oil(s).  Tighten the lid and shake.

Date your jar and store it in the fridge for about a month.  If you use the 2:1 method, it should last up to 6 months. 
(**TIP  For an even longer shelf life, add a shot of vodka to the mixture (it may keep for a year!).

I’d love to hear your flavor combinations – please share below!

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Easy Breezy Non-Greasy Whipped Body Butter

 

The other day I posted a luxurious body cream recipe containing water-based ingredients.  It’s a little more involved that your typical body cream.  Who has time for that!  So, in the alternative, I wanted to give you another recipe that is simple, contains very few ingredients, and effective – AND NON-GREASY. 

The other day I had to formulate a tummy tightening/stretch mark blend for one of my Aromatherapy course case studies, and I ended up loving the end product.  I don’t yet know if it will tighten saggy skin, or lighten stretch marks (because there isn’t much out there that can do that!) – but it is super hydrating and velvety and will make the perfect every day moisturizer.

If you’re into DIY personal products, you’ve most likely seen a bazillion recipes for whipped body butters containing coconut oil.  I’m sorry guys, but I’m soooo over that stuff… Really, it was a great discovery for me over 5 years ago, but I’ve moved on to something more sophisticated (i.e. LESS GREASY!!!!) – Babassu Oil.  Yes, I do have a Silky Whipped Body Butter recipe that contains coconut oil, which is very good, but only before bedtime…under socks and pajamas.  For years I brought that stuff to every “Make & Take” essential oils class that I taught.  From this point forward, I’m using this newer, snazzier, simpler body butter recipe.  And you may want to as well!

This recipe does not contain any water-based ingredients, such as aloe vera, hydrosols or distilled water.  This means that no preservatives are needed!  Raw oils and butters do not need preservatives and so your end product should last you a much longer time (12 months or more) if stored in a dark, cool area (Antarctica has nothing on my house!  I just keep it on my nightstand).  And if you add essential oils with antibacterial properties to it, it couldn’t hurt!

While water-based body creams soak in to your skin a tad quicker, I usually make up every excuse in the book NOT to make them because of the possibility of bacteria and all the stress of sanitizing everything with alcohol first.  I also hate having to use up an expensive bottle of natural preservative before it expires. Ironically, natural preservatives don’t stay preserved very long…go figure.

This body butter has a light, fluffy, almost whipped cream-like texture.  It soaks in pretty quickly, but is thick enough to create a great moisture barrier – keeping moisture inside where it belongs. It leaves my skin moisturized all day and incredibly velvety.

How is this possible?  The Babassu Oil.

If you hadn’t read about Babassu Oil on my other blog, here are some of the benefits:

  • It is light weight
  • It doesn’t clog pores
  • It soaks in faster than coconut oil
  • It is less greasy/messy than coconut oil
  • It has a very mild scent
  • It mixes better with essential oils
  • It helps heal damaged skin
  • It reduces redness & inflammation
  • It cools on contact
  • It repairs, softens & shines hair
  • It nourishes your scalp
  • It promotes healthy nails & cuticles
  • It locks in moisture
  • It helps prevent body odor
  • If you have the food grade, it’s a healthy alternative to other cooking oils
  • It improves pet health
  • It rejuvenates wooden surfaces

Read more about this oil’s benefits HERE

Just look at these photos.  Doesn’t it look scrumptious?  Like a white buttercream frosting?

20180828_2028231092163799183386086.jpg

 

So, let’s crack on already!  (Sorry, I’ve been binge watching “Being British: Joel & Lia” YouTube videos lately, and am starting to use their slang!)

Easy Breezy, Non-Greasy Body Butter

(Makes just over 4 oz body butter)

2 Tbs (1 oz) sweet almond oil (substitutes w/ jojoba or apricot kernel oil)
6 Tbs (3 oz) raw mango butter (substitutes w/ raw shea or cocoa butter)
1 Tbs (1/2 oz) babassu oil  (I found mine here)
120-180 drops of your favorite essential oils (it mays seem like a lot, but for body oils and butters, it’s the recommended amount)

Before you start, you will want to liquify the babassu oil.  It’s a solid in cooler temps, but melts when you put the bottle in a hot water bath. So, fill a large bowl with hot water, and let your bottle of babassu sit inside it for a bit until you can get it to melt a bit.

In a double boiler (or a pot full of water, with a smaller pot sitting on top of the water), melt the raw butter and the babassu oils together. Add sweet almond oil and stir until fully melted together. Let sit to cool in the pot, or pour into a clean mixing bowl, until it’s thickened and no longer clear. You can refrigerate it, but make sure it’s cooled down first, so that it doesn’t create condensation on the lid.

If you refrigerated your mixture, let it sit out on the counter for about 30 minutes to soften it before mixing.

Add your essential oils to the cooled mixture. Beat the mixture for a few minutes with an electric mixer until white and fluffy.

SUGGESTIONS FOR USE:
(body only):

  • Hands, feet & elbows before bed (add Frankincense, Lavender & Tangerine)
  • Moisturizer after shower (add Lavender, Jasmine & Bergamot)
  • Hand cream at work or your kitchen/bathroom sink (add eucalyptus & orange)
  • Hydrate aging/crepey skin (wrinkly) (add Cypress, Frankincense & Helichrysum)
  • Massage a dab onto dry/split ends hair before bed.  Wash out next day (add Lavender)

My favorite EO aroma combos:

Frankincense & Lavender
Tangerine & Bergamot
Clary Sage & Lavender
Clary Sage & Rose
Jasmine and Lavender
Cypress and Lavender
Hawaiian Sandalwood
Rosemary & Peppermint
Litsea, Eucalyptus & Orange
Rosemary and Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus & Orange
Lemon & Lime
Patchouli & Lavender
Vetiver & Lavender

 


Karen Kornichuk
Certified Aromatherapist
Member of National Association
for Holistic Aromatherapy

NAHA LOGO

Body Cream Perfection!

This lotion/cream recipe is literally perfect!  (Too bad I can’t take credit for the original recipe, as it was created by well-known herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, but I’ve done some tweaking to make it my own).  I hope you love it as much as I do!  Difficulty level is a little higher, but your skin will thank you for the efforts! (I’m going to post an easier version shortly).

When my Aromatherapy instructor shared this recipe with us, I was thinking we were sort of special – but apparently there are many variations of it all over the Interwebs…  This cream has probably been made a bazillion times by people all over the world.  So, while we weren’t especially special, this recipe is truly special!

What I love most about this recipe is that you can change it up with different base oils and/or hydrosols, to suit your needs and it always turns out perfect (but make sure you don’t replace a liquid oil with a solid-type oil, or the results won’t be so perfect!).  It yields approximately 16 oz. of cream, so make sure to have the appropriate containers.

Let’s get started!

FIRST!  Let’s extend the shelf life of our cream by disinfecting all utensils, bowls, spoons, blender, etc. with 70% rubbing alcohol.  Put the rubbing alcohol in a clean spray bottle and spray all items to disinfect them.  Lay them on clean paper towels to dry, or hand dry them.  Bacteria from the tap water could cause nasties to grow in your luxurious cream (this is another reason why we use distilled water or aromatic hydrosols versus tap water).

Preservatives are a must with any type of cream with a water-based ingredient, such as aloe vera gel and hydrosols.  There is a longer shelf life for body butters made with oils and butters only.  This recipe contains aloe vera gel and a hydrosol, so it will grow funky stuff within weeks if not preserved!  I’ve found some natural preservatives on the market to help increase the shelf life of our cream.

Leucidal SF or Leucidal Complete are nice, broad-range and more natural preservatives used mostly in creams and lotions.  Leucidal also provides extra silkiness to your cream.  Who doesn’t want silky skin!?  I sure do…especially since I recently hit 40!

One of the main base oils I chose to use instead of cocoa butter (and am currently obsessed with) is the incredible, but somewhat pricey, Babassu oil.  It is like coconut oil in that it is a solid and melts when warmed in your hand, but it seems to get a bit harder when cooled.

Babassu oil comes from the nuts of the babassu tree in Brazil.  It has so many benefits.  Here are a few to persuade you into loving it:

It is light weight
It doesn’t clog pores
It soaks in faster than coconut oil
It is less greasy/messy than coconut oil
It has a very mild scent
It mixes better with essential oils
It helps heal damaged skin
It reduces redness & inflammation
It cools on contact
It repairs, softens & shines hair
It nourishes your scalp
It promotes healthy nails & cuticles
It locks in moisture
It helps prevent body odor (this would be great in my Deodorant recipe!)
If you have the food grade, it’s a healthy alternative to other cooking oils
It improves pet health
It rejuvenates wooden surfaces

…just to name a few. 

You can read more about Babassu oil HERE.  I may replace coconut oil in all of my recipes with babassu from this point forward – if I can find a good quality, lower-priced supplier.

Below are photos taken step-by-step as I moved through the process. The actual recipe is at the bottom:

Gather all ingredients, sterilize and dry. Ignore the shea butter. I ended up changing the recipe and replaced it with a more liquid oil.

Measure all aqueous ingregients into a sterilized measuring cup.

If using babassu oil, you may need to liquify it by placing in a bowl of hot tap water.

Melt all oils (babassu oil, almond oil, beeswax), minus essential oils, in a double boiler until completely combined.

Fully melted!

Pour hot oils into sterilized blender and cool until room temp. Blend on high and slowly pour in water ingredients through the hole on blender lid. When fully combined, scrape into a sterilized, glass bowl.

Fold in your essential oils with a sterilized spoon until combined. It is a tad blue because I added a few drops of skin-nourishing Blue Tansy essential oil to my cream.

Pour into glass cosmetic jars if you prefer, but make sure your hands are clean when you scoop some out.

Or pipe into lotion containers. It’s much more sterile this way, since your hands never touch the inside.

I had on hand three 4oz lotion squeeze bottles, and one 2 oz round cosmetic container.  I filled all containers the top, and there was enough remaining for me to apply to my super dry arms and legs.

This recipe is velvety, silky and luxurious, and I slather it on after the shower (make sure to have clean & dry hands before putting them into your jar, or use a utensil to scoop it out)

ROSEMARY GLADSTAR’S “PERFECT CREAM” (my personal variation)

Group 1 (Waters)
2/3 cup white rose water/hydrosol (or you can used distilled water)
1/3 cup pure aloe vera gel (no junk from a drugstore – the real stuff)
48 drops of essential oils of your choice (or less)
1/2 oz. Leucidal Liquid SF (natural preservative/antimicrobial)

Group 2 (Oils)
3/4 cup apricot kernel or sweet almond oil
1/3 cup Babassu oil (or shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter)
1/2-1 oz grated beeswax
1/2 tsp. Vitamin E oil

FIRST, see my note above about cleaning everything with rubbing alcohol and drying with/on paper towels.

  • Combine your hydrosol, aloe vera gel and preservative in the glass measuring cup and set aside (cover with saran wrap if you have cats in the home – their fur gets into everything!)
  • Measure the babassu/mango/shea butter (whichever you chose), and beeswax into a double boiler and heat on low until melted completely.  Transfer the melted liquid to your blender, cover with a paper towel, and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to help cool it down.
  • When oils have reached room temperature, secure lid and turn blender on high. Add the water/aloe mixture through the hole at the top of the blender in a slow and steady stream.  (Adding slowly is KEY to getting the waters and oils to emulsify well).  When 3/4 of the water has been added, monitor the cream in the blender. At a certain point, it will thicken and pull above the blades, no longer accepting more liquid.  If okay, add the rest of the liquid.
  • Scrape as much out of the blender as you can, into an alcohol disinfected bowl, and gently fold in your essential oils with to make sure all oils and water are incorporated evenly.
  • Transfer to disinfected storage jars.  The cream will thicken as it sets.
  • Label your jars with all of the ingredients used and store in cool location (the fridge is best!).  Use within 3 months, or until you see mold (Eek!).  If you added preservatives, it should last 6 months to a year in the fridge.

Enjoy!


Karen Kornichuk
Certified Aromatherapist
Member of National Association
for Holistic Aromatherapy

NAHA LOGO

It May Be Low Stomach Acid – not GERD!

 

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a doctor, nurse, or any other type of medical professional.  I’m only a Certified Aromatherapist who enjoys research.  All of the information I’ve written about below was gathered through my own research and personal experiences in order to help my own frustrating bodily symptoms. Everything stated below is my own opinion, and I do not recommend you doing the same unless you’ve first talked with a Functional Medicine doctor or other medical professional. 

About 5 years ago, my insides felt like they were coming undone.  I had horrible acid reflux, constant belching, nausea, a dull ache under my right rib.  On top of all of that, I had constipation/diarrhea, gas and bloating.  After a quick visit to the gastroenerologist, I was diagnosed with GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and given a prescription for an acid blocker medication called Omeprazole.

Having GERD makes it hard to eat because of the wrath your favorite foods take out on your innards.  If you love pizza, cookies, pasta, french fries, chocolate or burgers, you will be in a lot of pain after eating them.  I assumed that my doctor was correct in his diagnosis, and didn’t question his authority.  Taking Omeprazole helped my reflux and excessive burping, and I was able to eat again without many issues.  I added digestive enzymes to my diet and that seemed to help with the gas and bloating.

After some research, I discovered that there are multiple causes of GERD symptoms, and by treating them, you could be rid of GERD symptoms forever.  One of those reasons is LOW STOMACH ACID.  That’s right, low stomach acid – not high.

Unfortunately, most doctors today are quick to write a prescription for an acid blocker, rather than seek out the root cause of your digestive issues.  This is  how they miss the fact that you may have low stomach acid.  I suggest making an appointment with a Functional Medicine Doctor to get your symptoms checked out.  Taking Omeprazole could cause your body further harm if you don’t actually have GERD.

Below is a list of symptoms you might be experiencing if you are suffering from either GERD or LOW STOMACH ACID:

Frequent heartburn
Trouble sleeping from heartburn
“Vomit burps”
Sore/scratchy throat
Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
Gas
Bloating
Constipation/diarrhea

Feeling like there’s a lump in your throat
Damaged teeth from stomach acid
Chest pain
Bad breath
Nausea
Dry, brittle, peeling nails
Dry hair
Loss of hair
Acne on your chin
Red broken capillaries on cheeks
Vomiting

During the years I was taking Omeprazole, it felt as though it gave me my life back.  I still had some bloating now and then, and so I took a good digestive enzyme with every meal and it helped with that to an extent.  The entire time I was taking Omeprazole, I had a strange fungal rash on my upper back.  It would never go away.  I assumed the rash was gut-related and that I had a lot of gut healing to do.  My doctor told me it was just tinea versicolor, a non-contagious fungal skin rash.  I’d put anti-fungal creams on the rash, but they would only fade the rash – never heal it.

I noticed that over time, I’d gotten a lot of red broken capillaries over my cheeks.  My clear skin was ruined, as nothing seemed to lessen the redness.  Expensive creams, homemade creams, eating less sugar, etc.  I didn’t know what this was related to, and so I chalked it up to just having fair, Scandinavian skin.

When I’d gotten my Omeprazole My prescription, it apparently had unlimited refills – which is just wrong in and of itself.  So, month after month, year after year, I continued to refill my Omeprazole prescription, not thinking anything of it.  I didn’t want to be on this drug forever, but a few people I know told me that they’d been on it for years and that they were just fine. 

Sadly, I can’t remember the last time I actually had an appointment with the doctor who gave me the Omeprazole prescription.  Out of the 4-5 years I was taking the drug, I believe I only saw him 4 times.  Once for our initial consultation and diagnosis, and a check-up and then for 2 colonoscopies (are you jeally?).

Last year, my friend Erin, a Nurse Practitioner, posted an article on Facebook about the dangers of Omeprazole. This somewhat piqued my interest because I’d never heard of there being any issues with acid blockers.  After reading the article, I shrugged it off.  I figured there was no way I could ever stop taking Omeprazole.  Imagine Gollum from the “Lord of the Rings” holding a bottle of Omeprazole – that would be me.  It would take an elephant tranquilizer dart to the neck to pry “My Precious” Omeprazole from me. 

Fast forward a few years, and I’m making my usual errands on a Saturday.  I stopped at Walgreens to refill my Omeprazole prescription.  The pharmacy assistant said there was a problem and they had to call my doctor to confirm a refill.  I thought to myself, that’s odd, and went about my day.

A week later I receive an online message from my doctor, at the patient portal website, stating that he’s no longer going to refill my prescription because PPIs aren’t recommended for long term use (uhm, okay…why didn’t you tell me this like 4 YEARS AGO, doc???).  He also recommended that I use over-the-counter Omeprazole as needed (No thanks…OTC omeprazole is only good for 14 days at a time, and to be used no more than every 2 months or so). 

A few days after taking my last Omeprazole pill forever, I ate my usual food and got acid reflux.  It was worse than before.  I was hoping it had magically gone away – I was wrong.  After some online research, I discovered this was called “PPI withdrawal.”  I had bloating, gas, vomit coming up to my throat and excessive burping. 

On the weekends, I’m a foodie, food junkie, gorger of goodies, cookie chomper, butter slurper, cheese muncher, pizza hoarder – you name it!  I eat out ALL the time – it’s one of the things my husband and I really enjoy doing together on our date nights.   I love food so much that I was nominated to be on the Yelp ‘Elite’ team for my area – meaning I write Yelp reviews when I go to restaurants and then I get invited to all of Yelp’s free food tasting parties throughout the year.  It’s my thing, and I love it.  How was I going to continue this with such horrible acid reflux??

After some research, and I discovered that there are many natural means to help with acid reflux.  Apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, licorice root, DGL, digestive enzymes, just to name a few.  I’d already been using digestive enzymes, which helped my bloating greatly.  A glimmer of hope!  The only problem was that these just mask acid reflux symptoms.  I needed to figure out the root cause of my GERD symptoms. 

This is when I learned about low stomach acid, and how its symptoms can mimic high stomach acid symptoms.  This was something I never would have imagined.  Was it possible that all my problems have been caused by low acid?  I mean, if my doctor put me on an acid blocker, it must mean I have high stomach acid, right? 

People are diagnosed with GERD because they present various symptoms to their doctors, such as heartburn and acid reflux.  They’re given a PPI prescription and sent on their merry way.  What some doctors aren’t telling you is that those PPIs can cause unnecessary harm to your body if taken longer than 8 weeks.  Some of the side effects of long-term use of PPIs could include:  bone loss, potential increased risk of hypocalcemia, hypomagnesemia, Clostridium difficile infections and pneumonia.  

When you have low stomach acid and eat a large meal, the food gets to your stomach, but there isn’t enough acid to break it up/digest it.  So, the undigested food ferments, which causes gas.  The gas pushes up on the opening that usually keeps your food in your stomach, and causes some stomach acid and food particles to get pushed back up your esophagus and into your throat.  You then complain to your doctor that you have acid reflux, heartburn, etc., and they assume it’s GERD. 

The main problem with taking acid blockers when you have low stomach acid is that it’s blocking even more acid from doing its job!  Your stomach, for lack of a better word, is ‘starving’ for acid.  It needs acid to help you digest, and if you’re not digesting well, you’re not absorbing the minerals and nutrients as well as you could be.  Mineral deficiencies makes your body susceptible to a host of other diseases.

If you have low stomach acid, technically all of your GERD symptoms can go away if you just take Betaine HCL with Pepsin (which is betaine hydrochloride with the digestive enzyme Pepsin.  Pepsin breaks down meat proteins).  Betaine HCL with Pepsin helps aid your body in creating it’s own stomach acid over time.

IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY NOT ON ACID BLOCKERS, and experiencing GERD symptoms, it wouldn’t hurt to test for low stomach acid before going to see a gastroenterologist.  It’s a simple test, and could be the answers to all of your digestive issues!

I’ll explain the test below:

TESTS FOR LOW STOMACH ACID:

  1. Baking Soda Test (Least reliable).  When you first wake up in the morning, before eating or drinking anything, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of baking in 4-6 oz. of water and drink it down. After you drink it, check the clock. If you do not belch within 5 minutes, you have low stomach acid. If you belch within 2-3 minutes, you don’t have low stomach acid. If you belch a lot, then you have high stomach acid. Don’t mistake small burps for belching. We swallow air when we drink, and little burps might be caused by that. Do this for 3 mornings in a row so that you get a good average reading.
  2. Betaine HCL w/ Pepsin Test (Most reliable).  Get a good bottle of Betaine HCL with Pepsin (about 650 mg) from Amazon.  Take one pill with a meal that consists of at least 4-6 oz of meat protein.  Pepsin helps break down proteins. If you don’t feel a burning sensation in your stomach, that’s a sign you don’t have enough stomach acid.  You will then take 2 pills the next time you have a meaty meal. If you still don’t feel the warmth/burning, add another pill on to the regimen until you feel a warmth/burning sensation in your stomach or chest.  Some people take over 10 pills per protein meal!  When you feel that sensation, you know that your dosage from now on should be one less than you just took.  I currently take 5 with a large protein meal. 

    You will take this dose of pills with each protein meal for as long as you need to manage the symptoms.  Once you feel the burn again, you will decrease by another pill, and so on, until you don’t need to take them anymore. 

Finding out about low stomach acid has been a game changer for me.  Knowing that I don’t actually have GERD after all, is great news.  Now, I can easily treat my issue with Betaine HCL until my body can produce enough acid on its own.  I no longer have GERD symptoms – unless I don’t take enough Betaine HCL with a meal. 

Obviously, if you have other worrisome symptoms, please make an appointment with a doctor – a Functional Medicine Doctor, if you have one in your area.  Before taking any new supplements, be sure to contact your doctor to be sure that there are no interactions with any medications you might be taking already.

I have a good routine going right now, which seems to help me feel my best.  My routine consists of:

1.  Before a Protein Meal:  I take 1-2 aloe vera gels by NOW Foods (I got mine here), and two-three digestive enzymes and my individualized dosage of Betaine HCL w/ Pepsin.

2.  After a Protein Meal:  If I overdid it with junk food, and I feel reflux or bloating, I will either take another Betaine HCL, or I’ll just take another aloe vera gel.   The aloe vera gels help coat the gut and esophagus to keep it from irritation.  I may also take a digestion calming supplement from my essential oil company, which contains a synergistic group of essential oils that all help ease stomach discomforts.

If you purchase aloe vera gels, please make sure to get the good stuff.  It should not contain the part of the plant that contains latex.  That part is toxic.

3.  Probiotics Daily.  I also take a good probiotic daily.  With the American diet, I believe everyone should be on a good probiotic.  They are necessary for maintaining a healthy gut.

4.  Sacchromyces Boulardii.  This is a very specific probiotic that survives your stomach acids and makes it into your lower intestine to fight any bad bacteria that may be causing SIBO.  It is also great to take when traveling to other countries where there might be digestive bacteria that you could pick up in their water, or if you have any type of stomach bug, such as gastroenteritis.

It’s hard to believe, but I’m SO grateful that my doctor cancelled my Omeprazole prescription.  It’s one less prescription that I need to pick up at Walgreens and less harm to my body. 

I should note that, as always, changing your eating habits and exercising regularly help greatly.  I am in the process of finding a lot more Whole30 recipes to add into our family’s mix of meals, so I’m not purposely provoking my gut.  I’m also making my own Homemade Ghee to cook with instead of butter.  It’s great immune systems, it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and doesn’t contain lactose or casein – great for lactose sensitive folks!  And it’s delicious.

You can read about Omeprazole’s harmful effects in this article

If you’re currently on a PPI prescription for major digestive illnesses or ulcers – please stay on your medication and talk to your doctor first about using natural means to manage symptoms.  And DO  NOT take Betaine HCL with Pepsin IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY TAKING PPIs.  You need to have your doctor wean you off of the PPIs before trying Betaine HCL.


Karen Kornichuk
Certified Aromatherapist
Member of National Association
for Holistic Aromatherapy

NAHA LOGO

Life After Thyroidectomy & Parathyroidectomy (PHOTOS)

ALL SURGERY UPDATES ARE IN ORDER AT THE BOTTOM

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3 mos. post-op

In January 2018, had a total thyroidectomy and a parathyroidectomy and lived to tell about it.  Below I’ll share with you as many details as I can remember (but my memory still isn’t the best – thanks to hyperparathyroidism!)  I’m hoping to give hope to those having this procedure in the future.  If you’re like me, you’ve been grasping for positive stories online – but you can’t find any, am I right??  That’s because there are very few positive stories online.  There’s a much smaller percentage of people actually going online to tell their positive stories than negative ones.  Remember that. 😉

I’ve had a multi-nodular goiter (a/k/a lumpy thyroid) for many years (over 20), and Grave’s Disease, which were treated in 1995 by radioactive iodine.  More recently, my surgeon discovered the goiter was growing downward, under my sternum.  It was also pushing on my windpipe causing me to cough a lot and making it hard to catch my breath.  Doc said it would continue to grow if we didn’t remove the whole thing, which would be dangerous down the road.

I also had Primary Hyperparathyroidism, which is basically a tumor on one of your parathyroid glands.  It is caused by the parathyroid gland producing too much PTH hormone.  The only cure for primary hyperparathyroidism is to remove the tumor.  So many people think they can naturally support their bodies and not need surgery.  I’m sorry, but that isn’t the way parathyroid tumors work.  They will slowly ruin your health if not removed.

I did not know if the goiter, nodules or parathyroid tumor were cancerous because I never got a chance to have a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy on them.  Fine by me!  I was terrified of that needle for some reason.  My surgeon, Dr. De Jong, said that since my whole thyroid needed to come out, it wasn’t necessary to biopsy anything.  He would have my thyroid sent to pathology once it was out, and then we’d find out if it was malignant and go from there.

Apparently, the goiter was the size of my doctor’s fist. :-O  At least, that’s what he told me from inspecting my neck.  My incision was to be about 3 – 4″ long.  He said that by looking at my neck from the outside, you could only see the tip of the iceberg.  Nice visual.  I was ready to get it all out and move on with my life.  We booked surgery for a month out.

Ten days prior to surgery, I was asked to stop taking Advil and all herbal supplements. I hate missing 2 days of my fabo supplements (they hugely help my mood), let alone go completely off of them for 10 days!  It was a bit rough because I rely on those supplements for mental clarity, stomach issues, energy and more.  My head wasn’t very clear at work during those 10 days – but then my mind hasn’t been clear at work for a LONG time thanks to the parathyroid tumor.

Two weeks prior to surgery I went in for pre-anesthesia testing.  They took 5-6 vials of blood to make sure I was healthy enough for surgery.  They like to see where your hormone and calcium levels are. Makes sense.  My poor nurse though… She was telling me how she has a horrible anxiety disorder, and so she had visibly shaky hands.  I tried not to look nervous as her shaking hand came towards my vein with a needle!  In my mind I was thinking, “aren’t nurses supposed to have steady hands??”  Everything worked out though – blood was drawn and I lived to see another day.

January 11, 2018, (my thyroid and parathyroid eviction day!) came before I knew it.  I’d gotten a lot of prayer from a lot of people, and so I was as cool as a cucumber on my way to the hospital (I was ready to get this thing out of me).  I wasn’t afraid of the surgery as much as I was the recovery, and the thought of being hypothyroid (weight gain, more depression, hair loss).

They wheeled me into a prep room where I put on a gown, hospital socks, a gigantic hospital maxi-pad (in case my period came during surgery) (sorry, TMI?).  They also wrapped electronic massage sleeves around my calves that constantly squeezed and massaged my calves.  This was to prevent blood clots. Dr. De Jong came to say hello and that he’d be ready for me in a few minutes.

Some people (nurses, medical students?) came by to wheel me away, but not before first putting a weird metallic shower cap hat on my head.  Once I was in the operating room, they exchanged the metallic cap hat for a knit cap.  I am not sure what that was all about…

After moving me to the operating table, they put a mask over my nose and mouth and asked me to breathe in deeply a few times.  That was the last thing I remember before actually waking up in the recovery room after surgery.  Surgery was over before I knew it and I was on to recovery.  The surgery was apparently 3.5 hours long, and Dr. De Jong successfully removed the very large goiter and parathyroid tumor – leaving the 3 other parathyroids and vocal cords intact and in good shape.  Thank God!  If you have a poor surgeon, you may get damage to your vocal cords.  Please do your research and find the best surgeon you possibly can.

I don’t remember much about waking up from anesthesia except that the nurse administering my pain meds wasn’t exactly a warm and fuzzy gal.  (I thought nurses were supposed to be warm and caring?)  I was drenched in sweat – dripping from my forehead down into my eyes.  I felt disgusting.  Oh, and guess what?  Aunt Flo came to visit me DURING surgery (wasn’t that thoughtful of her??!!??).  While I was trying to wake up from the anesthesia, I felt stabbing cramps in my uterus.  Perfect timing… They couldn’t give me Advil, only Tylenol.  So…essential oils to the rescue!  Thankfully I’d brought a roller-ball blend of my female/hormonal support oils to ease my cramps (a mix of Geranium, Clary Sage, Lavender, Marjoram, should you want to make your own). 😉

Once I was more alert, I was wheeled  into a real recovery room where I would spend the night.  I’d heard that you are usually in a room with a bunch of people, but I got a single room, with a TV and sink.  Not too shabby!  My husband arrived shortly thereafter, kissed me and sat down…and then I don’t remember much of what happened over the next hour or so.  I was so foggy and sleepy from the anesthesia.

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but apparently some people can’t handle anesthesia, and they puke after surgery.  Can you guess what type I am?  That’s right – I’m a puker!  It is a good thing they put a vomit bucket on my lap right away.  If it weren’t so easily accessible, I’d have made quite the mess all over their nice sheets.  After vomiting, my mind was clearer.

At this point, I didn’t feel any pain in my incision, but I did have a scratchy/sore throat. The sore throat was due to the breathing tube and camera tube that were put down my throat during surgery.  They brought me Cepacol lozenges to suck on for throat pain. Other than that, the only other issue I felt was a stiff/sore neck and weakness.  The stiff neck is from how your head is positioned during surgery.  I also had to keep the IV in my hand overnight just in case they needed to use it.  And the massage sleeves were still pumping away at my calves – I need one of those for my house!

Below is a photo of me not long after I puked. Still out of it, but forcing myself to smile…because you can’t take a picture without smiling.  Well, you can, but I usually don’t.  It’s not very often that I will share a photo of myself without any makeup on, so you’ll notice this particular photo is extra small compared to the rest.  Yeah, a tad vain…

A few hours later I felt much more alert, so I took another photograph. This time my bandage had been removed and I forced an even bigger smile even though I was wiped OUT.

I was starting to get hungry but could only order from the liquid diet portion of the menu.  Chicken broth and Jell-O sounded the least likely to induce vomiting, so that was dinner.  It was horrible – but can you really expect anything more from a hospital?  You basically get a bowl of broth, with a packet of protein powder to mix in.  It was like eating Ramen noodles….minus the noodles.  All salt.

The nurses gave me Tums to chew on every few hours. This was to provide my body with calcium because my 3 remaining parathyroids still needed to “wake up” and start doing their job in regulating my calcium level.  You don’t want to have low calcium in your blood. It causes hypocalcemia, which is very dangerous.  I won’t get into that now, but it’s a serious issue.

My husband and I watched TV – sort of – I kept nodding off.  When he had to leave for the night, I tried to get some sleep – but everyone knows you don’t sleep much in a hospital.  Nurses came in every few hours to give me the Tums, take my vitals, take my blood, etc.

I don’t remember sleeping much, but somehow the night went by pretty quick.  Though weak, I had to keep trying to get myself up and walk to the restroom out in the hall.  I had to remember to hold my gown tight so I didn’t give the other patients a “show”!  Before I knew it, it was morning and I was hungry!  I ordered an oatmeal and a yogurt and ate about half of each.  A nurse came by and gave me my very first Levothyroxine pill, which I was told I would be taking for the rest of my life.  “Hello Levo, so nice to meet you.  We’re going to be lifelong friends…as long as you do your job and don’t jack me up!”

At one point before my husband arrived, I got up to use the restroom and got a whiff of my armpits.  Holy mother of pearl…it was horrible.  I don’t know if the hospital gown hadn’t been properly washed before I got it, or if a family of skunks had burrowed into my armpits and died.  I just knew that I needed to freshen up quick – my husband was going to arrive soon and I didn’t want to smell like roadkill.  Thankfully my room had a sink with handsoap and paper towels.  I scrubbed my pits as best I could with that pink junk soap, and asked a nurse for a fresh gown.  Muuuuch better.  I smelled like a human, and even put on a little makeup to make myself feel better.

One of the medical students came in that morning and says to me, “so, now we’re going to take out your stitches.”  What the what?!!  I apparently said that out loud – not just in my head – so she made some type of comment about how “I wasn’t scared, was I?”  I’m no baby, but I did have to squeeze a pillow while she plucked each one out.  It pinched a little bit when she tugged on them.  That last one stuuuung!  It was stubborn and didn’t want to come out.  They remove stitches the day after surgery so that the scar is less noticeable – totally fine by me.

My husband arrived that morning and we watched a little TV until I was able to leave. The nurse came by and gave me a prescription for Levothyroxine and post-surgery instructions to rest, drink lots of water, take 4-5 Ultra Strength Tums (1,000 mg) per day for the next week, etc., etc.  We would discuss more at my 1 week follow-up appointment.

I was given the go-ahead to get dressed and was able to leave around 10:00 a.m.!  I couldn’t wait to get home – I missed my kitties…and my cozy new pajamas and comfy couch.  A very nice nurse took me down to the hospital entrance in a wheelchair. Wheeee!!  It was the most fun I’d had in over 24 hours.

It was about 20 degrees and snowing that morning, and there was ice covering our parking lot.  My husband took my arm and lead me into the house.  Then he led me straight to the couch – where I would spend the next couple of weeks watching TV.

I felt pretty good the next morning, and so I was able to take a shower.  But not without packaging and taping up my neck so that the water didn’t soak the steri-strips.  I need the help of my husband because it was a lot of work and I was still weak.  Here’s a lovely photo of me pre-shower:

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It felt so good to wash off all hospital odor from my body – especially being able to wash my armpits without paper towels and hospital soap!  A little water ended up seeping in and touched my incision area, but all-in-all it was a productive first shower.

Below is a photo of my incision 2 days after my surgery. It wasn’t looking so bad for only 2 days!

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We purchased a bunch of applesauce and yogurt so that I could eat soft foods for the first few days.  By the 3rd day or so, I grew tired of yogurt so we ordered pizza!  Probably not the best idea, but my throat felt a little better and I needed something tasty.

Note:  You’ll have a bunch of disgusting yellow mucous stuck in your throat.  You need to get that out.  You don’t want it getting into your lungs.  So, hopefully your surgeon will give you a breathing tube (which looks sort of like illegal drug paraphernalia), that seems to help it come up.

On the 4th day post-surgery, I felt pretty good.  I had some irritating leg cramping, and so the nurse called in a prescription for Rocaltrol, which was an active form of Vitamin D.  It seemed to help the cramping a bit, but it kept coming back throughout the day.  I had to keep rubbing a blend of essential oils to relax my legs.  It helped a ton, but I didn’t want to keep doing that every few hours.  Eventually it subsided and the cramping stopped.  I think part of the cramping was due to inactivity.  Sitting on the couch for 4 days wasn’t good for circulation or my leg muscles.  I got up and walked in place for a bit, which helped.

My sister came to visit me on my 4th day post-op.  We ended up talking too much, as I normally do, and it irritated my throat.  I started to feel something swell inside my throat. It felt like a little ball was inside my throat every time I swallowed.  I freaked out and thought I was having a side effect from the Rocaltrol (“throat swelling”), so I called the nurse.  She assured me that it wasn’t going to be the death of me.  She explained that they have to cut through a pretty thick muscle in order to remove the thyroid.  Ewwww.  Apparently that muscle gets “angry” for being disturbed and takes a little time to heal.  I didn’t need to hear this.

Below is a picture of my 4th day post-op incision. It was healing up pretty nicely:

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As the days progressed, it was easier for me to get around and do a few small chores, without lifting anything over 10 lbs. I tried to do as little as possible. You know what? Cable TV stinks.  They replay episodes over and over and OVER.  I was incredibly bored . I literally spent most of my mornings searching OnDemand for movies, without actually deciding upon one.

I don’t remember what day it was, when I got the surgical pathology results, but when they came in, it showed that everything was BENIGN! Praise God!

Below is a photo of my incision on my 5th day post-op. Just a couple of days before my 1 week post-surgery appointment with the surgeon. He would be removing my steri-strips, and I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like once removed.

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I saw my surgeon a week after surgery for my 1-week follow up. One of the medical students removed my steri-strips and I checked myself out in their mirror – not bad! It felt less tight, but I still felt like my neck was pulling if I moved my head around.

A few of days later, my incision was looking even better. See the photo below. Some of the scabs had come off with the steri-strips when they removed them.

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At this point (10 days post-op), I started to do what my surgeon told me to do. And that was to gently massage Vitamin E oil above and below the incision for 2 minutes at a time, twice a day for two months. He told me that it was better to rub it above and below, versus on top of the incision, and that it would heal beautifully.

The Vitamin E oil I had was incredibly sticky, so I switched to rosehip seed oil and a blend of essential oils: helichrysum, frankincense, lavender and a skin blend that my company makes. The steri-strips had irritated the skin around my incision, and so it was super sensitive and irritated easily. Knowing how potent essential oils are, I decided to back off of them for a bit, to let the sensitivity/redness go down.

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Once the sensitivity healed up, I began using organic calendula oil, which is very soothing to skin, along with a with a drop of Copaiba essential oil. This didn’t irritate my incision, so I kept doing it every day from this point forward.

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It’s now been 4 weeks since my surgery, and the photo below shows my scar looking a lot darker and more pronounced than it did a week ago! I’m not sure if this is because I hadn’t begun using a scar-diminishing oil, such as Neroli, or if I stretched it out somehow? I think when I took the above photo, I may have had the “skin toning” feature on that blurred out skin imperfections. Durrr.

Now that the incision is sealed and healed, I’m going to start massaging Neroli oil into it 3 times a day. I don’t want it getting any darker than it already is. Don’t bother with the Scar Away silicone patches. Maybe they work on some people, but they irritated my skin.

Now that it’s been a month since my surgery, and I’m back at work (returned after 3 weeks), I am feeling pretty good. Some days I feel achy/fatigued, and other days I feel fine. My main complaints are moodiness and depressive episodes, anxiety, fatigue and some body aches (feeling like I have a fever), cold feet and restless legs. The cold feet has been improving a bit over the last week or so. I’ve had depression and anxiety for over 20 years, so I am not sure either of those will ever improve.

I don’t think I’ve lost any extra hair, and I have only gained 3-4 lbs (but I’d lost that exact amount right after surgery, so I guess I’m just getting it back by eating too much junk food!). I believe my surgeon said they would probably be increasing my Levothyroxine at my next appointment in 2 months. I am hoping once they do that, my hormones will regulate and the remaining symptoms will improve. I’m currently taking 100 Levothyroxine, and 2 Calcitrol +D supplements per day. But that may change at my next appointment. I’m staying positive because the surgery was a success, so I know that future healing will be a success as well.

So far, at 4 weeks post-op, some of the symptoms that I used to have due to my hyperparathyroid tumor have begun to improve. Such as:

  1. Frequent urination (I go much less often – almost normal now)
  2. Extreme thirst/dry mouth
  3. Brain fog/confusion (feeling somewhat clearer and able to focus better)
  4. Breathing better (no more goiter pushing against my windpipe!)
  5. A tad more energy
  6. Joints not as achy when sitting still for too long

I’ve read that it can take up to 6 months to really notice improvements after removal of a hyperparathyroid tumor, so I must be patient like grasshopper. It will come in time. I am praying I am one of the success stories of those who do great on synthetic thyroid hormone and can feel completely normal one day.

If you’re about to have this surgery, please make sure you have a fantastic surgeon. Make sure you have help for the first few days post-surgery. And be sure to get a lot of rest, drink lots of water, and give yourself time to heal. Don’t rush back to work if you don’t have to. I pray your surgery goes well and that you have a positive story to share as well!


UPDATE: It’s been close to 3 months, and here’s how my incision is healing. This is with massaging Neroli oil into the healed scar 3x per day:

WOW – I look tired.  Notice the lovely bags below my eyes?  A tell-tale Hypo sign of fatigue.  And stress might play a part too…

Other changes include: hair loss, hypo fatigue, 5 more lbs of weight gain. and depression and moodiness. Dr. De Jong switched me over to the name-brand, Synthroid, and increased my dosage to 112, so I’m hoping this regulates me. I miss going to the gym!

But, this is life, and I’m glad I had the surgery. I would rather deal with meds, than have my goiter continue to grow down into my chest.


4 MONTH POST-OP UPDATE:

It’s been just over 4 months, and I’ve had some ups and downs.

I’ve gained a total of 9 pounds (not bad) after surgery.  Brain fog was gone for a bit, but it’s back somewhat.  I have no motivation to go to the gym nor do I have motivation to clean my house (but who does!?). I have lost a lot of hair. It doesn’t come out in huge clumps, but every day I lose way more than I used to. I don’t know if this is from the shock of surgery (surgery can cause hair loss out within a few months of the procedure), or if it is from Hypothyroidism – either way, it stinks. My hair was fine and limp to begin with. Now it’s fine, limp and thinning. Lovely. I sleep pretty well, but wake up exhausted and weak – as if I didn’t sleep at all.

So, I kept hearing/reading about how many people do better on T3 medications, like Cytomel, when taken in combination with their T4 medicine, like Synthroid. I asked my doctor for Cytomel, and he gave me a prescription to start on 5mcg per day.  Within the first week, I started getting headaches, I felt wired but fatigued at the same time (how is that possible?!?), I was having hot flashes, my brain felt heavy/foggy, my legs seemed a little crampy, I was irritable (on a recent date night, I almost jumped out of our truck and verbally attacked the person that cut us off in the mall parking lot – SO not me!), and I had serious worsening of my depression and anxiety. My doctor told me to stop taking it, and he increased my Synthroid to 125 mcg instead. I’m hoping and praying that I finally start to feel some energy and that my mood lifts, so that I don’t lose my mind and actually attack someone!

While I am not a fan of most Endocrinologists, mine seems to be doing a pretty good job. I’m grateful that he at least listened to me when I asked to try Cytomel, and didn’t shrug off my request. I think I’ll let him be the doctor next time and listen to his suggestion!

Here’s a recent photo of my scar. I covered it a little with makeup this morning:

5 MONTH POST-OP UPDATE:

It’s been 5.5 months since my surgery. Since the increase to 125 Synthroid, I lost a few pounds, but basically feel the same. Perhaps a tiny big less depressed. I left a message with the nurse today to ask my doctor if he would increase my dosage to 137, even though it’s only been 5 weeks since the last increase. I want energy!! And, I want my hair to stop falling out!


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7 months post-op

7 MONTH POST-OP UPDATE

It’s been 7 months since surgery, and I’m finally feeling better! I believe I’m now on the right dosage of medication – which is .125 of Synthroid. Hallelujah, praise the Lord!

My scar is looking a little better – unless that’s because I dabbed some makeup on it this morning? Sometimes I hate the way it looks, and other times I just don’t care. I mean, getting that huge thing out of my neck was the best thing I ever did, and most likely saved me from an earlier death, so I can’t complain about a scar, can I!?!

I copied the list of symptoms from my older blog and noted the improvements next to each. Here’s what’s up:

– Extreme fatigue – GONE! Still a little tired – but I’m 40 years old now, so…

– GERD – still have it, but I’m off Omeprazole and managing it with essential oils.

– Depression – somewhat improved.

– Anxiety – somewhat improved.

– Hair loss – finally slowed down! I was losing chunks for a while there.

– Brain fog/confusion – much better! I finally don’t feel like an idiot.

– Memory loss – improved in some areas, but not others.

– Frequent urination – GONE!

– Constant thirst/dry mouth – GONE!

– Dry/scratchy eyes – GONE! I can wear contacts (the “moist” kind) again.

– Stomach issues – improved with essential oils use, but still bloat if I don’t   use my oils.

– Hoarse/scratchy throat/voice – GONE!

– Trouble sleeping – only when I eat too much before bed.

– Irritability – GONE! (except for when I’m hangry and tired!)

– Muscle & joint aches – mostly GONE! (still taking Boron for aches)

– Frequent headaches – GONE!

It’s so odd to me to read these symptoms now, because I don’t even remember having some of them! These symptoms were mostly caused by my parathyroid tumor, but some were hypothyroid symptoms from having my thyroid removed.

My doc ordered blood tests the other day and I got my results within 24 hours. My levels are all normal, and he wants me to continue with this dosage until something changes. I’m hoping and praying that my symptoms continue to improve, but for the most part, I’m all good.

So, this is happening:

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I think these are new baby hairs growing back after losing so much from hypothyroidism and the shock surgery had on my body. I’m so happy to see them, although they are almost impossible to tame throughout the day! My hair used to come out in clumps, and now I may find 5-10 hairs on my comb each morning after I use it.

I can only see my symptoms improving from this point forward.

1 YEAR POST-OP UPDATE:

So, it’s been just over year, and while my Synthroid is relatively regulated, I still don’t feel quiet like myself.  A few months ago, I hit a pocket of time where I was feeling fantastic.  I had more energy, my joints felt good, and my mood was leveling off.  I’m not sure what happened, but I then took a turn for the worst.  My depression got horribly strong.  It could be due to all of the sugar that I was eating.  I’m trying to back off of that to see if my mood improves.

Since I wasn’t feeling the greatest, I called my Endo and asked if he would put an order in for me to get blood tests.  My levels were fine.  TST was .10, T3 and T4 were both within the standard range.  I see him next month, so I’m not sure what he’s going to say about my mood issues, continued hair loss (not as bad as before), weight gain and irritability.

But for the most part, I can’t complain.  The huge goiter is gone.  I can breathe much better.  My hormones will be easier to regulate with Synthroid being that I don’t have a thyroid that gets disrupted so often.  And the most weight gain I’ve had in 1 year is 10 lbs.  That’s not horrible, as compared to stories I’ve heard.

This will be a lifelong journey, but it’s not something I can complain about.  There are much worse ailments out there, and I’m grateful to have been able to remedy this one in a relatively easy way.

Click HERE  to watch my 1-year post-op video!


If you’ve recently had this surgery, or had it in the past, will you please comment below and let me know how you are doing? I know our bodies are all different, but I’d like to hopefully hear some positive stories about depression going away and weight loss after Synthroid regulates!

God bless and make sure you check your TSH and calcium levels whenever you get a blood test!


Karen Kornichuk

Certified Aromatherapist

Member of National Association

for Holistic Aromatherapy

NAHA LOGO

To Be, or Not to Be, a Certified Aromatherapist?

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I’ve been a rep with a very well known essential oils company now for 4 years.  While I get gobs of education and information from them, I figured it was about time I take that leap and go one step further in my botanical therapy education to become a Certified Aromatherapist.

I’ve always tried to educate my clients/customers as much as possible with information on how to safely use essential oils and help them figure out which to use, but now I can do it with much more confidence and knowledge.

Sure, I knew enough about essential oils to get by, and what I didn’t know I’d just ask my team or Google it.  I mean, Google has the answer to all things, right?  😉  Totally kidding…please don’t rely on Google as your answers to everything.

Becoming a Certified Aromatherapist has given me much more in the way of business and educational opportunities than I had ever had before.  There are various types of work you could do with this title, besides sales, and I cannot wait to find my niche!

For those of you who love learning about oils, or even do it as a business, I highly recommend getting certified.  With Certification, you will:

  1. Have the education and certification to back up your business.
  2. Feel even more empowered to take your health into your own hands.
  3. Feel more confident explaining essential oils and their benefits to others as you will understand the science behind them.

I am beginning to think that all sales representatives who educate on and sell essential oils should become certified before teaching anyone how to use them.  Or at least get extended training from their uplines.

As for certification courses, there are multiple levels of certification.  My school also has extra courses to further your education in various specialties.  My school of choice is approved by NAHA and taught mainly by Jade Shutes.

Jade Shutes is a past President of NAHA, and has been studying the science and use of essential oils for over 20 years.  She’s studied and worked in France, among other countries and is extremely knowledgeable.  Jade, as an instructor, is very soothing to listen to and makes it very easy to learn.  Her love of plants and natural alternatives is evident, and she loves to teach.  The audio and video clips make it easy to sit back and listen from the comfort of your own home.  The school also has a Facebook page where students can interact with each other and ask questions.

So, what school is it?:  The New York Institute for Aromatic Studies (they recently changed the name from The School for Aromatic Studies).  Click here to be directed to their website:  The New York Institute for Aromatic Studies.

I completed their first foundational course.  This course gives the title of Certified Aromatherapist, Level One once complete.  The course is online, which allows you to work through the modules as quickly or slowly as you wish.  This was perfect for me because I work full time as a legal assistant.  I was able to fit my studying in during my free time, although it took me a year to complete because life kept getting in the way!

Once you complete all of the modules and quizzes, you will then need to find five people to be your case studies (i.e., guinea pigs).  Your case studies will give you hands-on aromatherapy experience by helping these five people with any health issues they might have by creating various aromatherapy products for them to use.  Please note that it takes at least 4 weeks to complete your case studies.  You might have an experience like I had, wherein a couple of my case studies did  not respond to my emails when following-up with them.  I had to be vigilant in following up with them myself.  You will find that people are not always as reliable as you would like them to be.

When your case studies, and reports on each of them, are completed and submitted through the website, you will need to take a final exam.  It’s pretty short and you can use your notes.  Piece of cake.

Once your case studies and final exam are complete, the school will mail your certificate to you and you’re ready to become a member of NAHA!

If you have any questions, I’m always available to answer them.

Blessings!


Karen Kornichuk
Certified Aromatherapist
Member of National Association
for Holistic Aromatherapy

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Roasted Marinara Sauce From Scratch

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DISCLAIMER:  Not all essential oils are created equal, nor are all brands ingestible.  Most oils are adulterated, and contain fillers and contaminants.  The essential oils I cook with and/or ingest are 100% pure according to full disclosures of sourcing, testing and third-party testing for absolute purity.  Please do not buy oils from the store and assume that you can ingest them without first contacting a professional.


I have always been afraid of making marinara sauce from scratch – like from ACTUAL tomatoes.  Scary stuff.  I mean, what if I buy all those tomatoes and screw it up??  I’m Norwegian, not Italian – how could I possibly make a good “gravy”!?

While marinara made with a can of crushed tomatoes is delicious, I felt it was time I face my fear and make it from scratch.  And, of course, I also wanted to incorporate my beloved therapeutic-grade essential oils into the recipe to see how it  enhanced the flavor.

The sauce took me a few hours to make, because I took my time (and took photos as I went along), so you will want to plan ahead to make this on a day where you have some free time.  Those of you with small children are thinking, “free time, what the hay-hay is that??”  If you have small children…I am sorry…maybe you should save this recipe for another 12 years and then give it a try!  Seriously though, I think you can pull this off if you start cooking right when the kiddos go down for a nap.  I believe in you.

I will spare you the annoyance of reading each step between each photo.  I used to do that, and now understand how annoying that is!!

Feel free to browse the photos below, which are in the order of each step of the recipe.  Some people feel better if they can see how it is supposed to look along the way.  So, enjoy the beauty of these colorful fresh ingredients!:

Cored Roma tomatoes.

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Garlic cloves before peeling.

Garlic cloves after “quick peel” in a jar.  I’ll explain below.

Fresh diced red onion, basil leaves and parsley.

Cook olive oil and red onion before adding the tomatoes.

Final roasted ingredients in a colander over a bowl to collect tomato juices.

Blending roasted ingredients with basil & parsley

Blended ingredients.

Remaining ingredients are added before simmering.

The final sauce.  Smells SO good!

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I did it!  Delicious!  Roasted marinara sauce with broiled asparagus coated in olive oil, salt, onion powder and garlic powder, and unleavened whole wheat “bread” (see recipe at bottom of page) with a little shredded basil on top.

ROASTED MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 25 Roma tomatoes, cored
  • 2 sweet vidalia onions, quartered
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves peeled (see note in the recipe for “Easy Peeling”)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt (preferably Pink Himalayan)
  • 1/4 C sugar or “Date Paste” (See Recipe for “Date Paste” in the Pizza Crust recipe at the bottom of this blog)
  • Small bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cans tomato paste, for thickening
  • 2 drops Oregano essential oil (therapeutic grade only, with “Supplement Facts” on bottle – comment below for my favorite brand)
  • 4 drops Basil essential oil
  • 2 drops Black Pepper essential oil
  • 4-6 pepperoncinis, for a little heat
  • *Optional:  1/4 cup dry red wine, diced carrots

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425F.

Wash and core the tomatoes.  Split them between two 9×13″ baking dishes, or put all of them in a large roasting pan.  The tomatoes can be left whole; they will break down during the roasting process.

“Easy Peeling” of garlic cloves.  Toss a few garlic cloves in an empty, clean, glass jar, screw the lid on, and shake vigorously for a minute.  The peelings should become loose so that you can just peel it off of the clove.  Don’t overload the jar, only a few cloves at a time.  Cut off the hard ends of the garlic cloves.

Arrange the quartered onions and peeled garlic cloves (and diced carrots, if using) around the baking dish with the tomatoes.  Drizzle olive oil over all and then use your hands to toss the tomatoes, garlic and onions to coat everything well with the oil.  Season everything generously with salt.

Roast tomatoes in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or so.  The tomatoes and onions will look wrinkled, roasted, and slightly charred.  For a thicker sauce, cook longer and stir occasionally to keep from burning.

Remove the pan(s) from the oven and set on the counter to cool for 10-15 minutes. You can easily remove the tomato peelings if you want, but I left them on.

Place a large colander inside a large bowl.  Pour the roasted tomato ingredients into the colander.  The bowl underneath the colander will collect all the juice.  You need this juice for later – don’t toss it!

Scoop the roasted tomato ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Add parsley, and most of the basil leaves (save a few to shred and top your final pasta dish as a garnish).  Puree until it reaches your desired consistency.  You may need to do it in separate batches if you have a small food processor.

Put about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or stock pot.  Warm on medium heat, and then toss in the diced shallots.  Cook until they are soft.

Dump the pureed tomatoes, and the reserved juice, into the pot.  Season with additional salt, if needed.  Add the essential oils and any herbs you might want to add to the sauce to flavor it to your liking.  Add the pepperoncinis and cans of tomato paste.  If you are using red wine, add that to the pot as well.  Mix thoroughly.  I had to use a whisk to make sure the thick tomato paste was dispersed throughout the sauce.

Simmer on low, covered, for an hour or longer, so that all the flavors blend well together.  The longer the simmer, the better the flavors will be.  Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn.

Serve immediately as pasta sauce, or on homemade pizza (Click here for the pizza crust recipe that I also used as garlic bread with this meal.  For garlic bread, I just rubbed olive oil all over the dough and sprinkled generously with garlic salt and then baked it).  You will also find the “Date Paste” recipe within the pizza recipe.

Or, you can cool all of it completely and freeze it in containers or Ziploc bags for later use as a quick meal!

Mangia tutti!!


Karen Kornichuk
Certified Aromatherapist
Member of National Association
for Holistic Aromatherapy

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Easy Homemade Guacamole & Chips With Lime & Cilantro Oils


DISCLAIMER:  Not all essential oils are created equal, nor are all brands ingestible.  Most oils are adulterated, and contain fillers and contaminants.  The essential oils I cook with and/or ingest are 100% pure according to full disclosures of sourcing, testing and third-party testing for absolute purity.  Please do not buy oils from the store and assume that you can ingest them without first contacting a professional.


For a healthy,  quick snack, try some homemade guacamole and homemade tortilla chips!  They are fresher and taste a whole lot better than store bought chips!

First, gather your ingredients.  You will need the following:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1/8 cup diced red onion
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 drops Lime essential oil
  • Less than 1/2 drop Cilantro essential oil, (use a toothpick, seriously)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 pressed garlic cloves
  • 1/2 drop Black Pepper essential oil or 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 4 soft yellow or white corn tortillas (I prefer El Milagro – they don’t use preservatives)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (or a healthier cooking spray oil than PAM!)

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Thoroughly wash and chop your tomatoes, onion and avocado.

Put your avocado in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until your desired consistency.  I like mine a little chunky. Once mashed, toss in your onion and tomato and stir.

Then, you can add the spices and/or essential oils.  Where it says to use 1/2 drop of essential oil, here’s the trick on how to do that.  Since you can’t really measure a half drop, I usually put one drop on a spoon and then lightly shake some off into the sink.   Then I can stir the remainder of the oil that is on the spoon into the guacamole.  It seems to be just enough.  These oils are super potent, and a little goes a very long way!

If you aren’t going to eat the guacamole right away, put the avocado pits into the storage container along with the guacamole and refrigerate.  The pits will keep the avocado from turning brown!

For the homemade tortilla chips:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Put 4 tortillas (or more) on a cookie sheet (you’ll need a couple of cookie sheets).  Very lightly rub both sides of each tortilla with a very small amount of olive oil (If you use too much oil, the chips will be chewy, not crisp – and ruin the whole experience).  If you have a cooking spray (which I don’t like using due to the propellant in the can), it would work best in this instance.  Lightly spray both sides of each tortilla instead of using olive oil.  Stack the tortillas on top of each other, and with a large knife, cut through all of them so that each tortilla makes 8 chips.  Using 4 tortillas will make 32 chips.

Spread each chip out evenly out over 2 cookie sheets.  Sprinkle salt over all of the tortillas.  And if you’re feeling crazy, put some salt in a bowl, add a drop of lime essential oil to the salt and mix it up.  Then sprinkle the salt all over your chips.  Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until crispy.

Once the chips are cooled, you are ready to eat!

Enjoy!


Karen Kornichuk
Certified Aromatherapist
and Member of the National
Association for Holistic Aromatherapy

NAHA LOGO

Norwegian Krumkaker with Cardamom Essential Oil


DISCLAIMER:  Not all essential oils are created equal, nor are all brands ingestible.  Most oils are adulterated, and contain fillers and contaminants.  The essential oils I cook with and/or ingest are 100% pure according to full disclosures of sourcing, testing and third-party testing for absolute purity.  Please do not buy oils from the store and assume that you can ingest them without first contacting a professional.


 

Whew!  Say that title 5 times fast!  I’ll bet you can’t!

Today I’m going to share with you a delicious recipe that Norwegians, in both Norway and America, make at Christmas time.  It’s called krumkake (pronounced sort of like: “croom kaga”) is a delicious delicate and crumbly cookie.  Being 100% Norwegian myself, I am always looking for ways to learn about my ancestry and our traditions.  Speaking of which – I recently did a family tree through Ancestry.com.  Everything was going great…until I got out to about 300 AD, where it claimed that I was related to the Norwegian “gods,” Thor and Odin.  Uhm…I decided that was a good stopping point.

Ever since I was a child, mom would talk about the krumkake that her mom used to make them make, along with lefse, riskrem (rice pudding), spritz cookies and boller.  Out of all of those tasty treats, my mom only made boller (she’d make rice pudding once in a while for herself, as none of us wanted any of it back then).  I always wished she’d make krumkake, but she didn’t have the iron for it.  Krumkake was something I only got to eat at my aunt Judy’s house.  Thanks to Amazon I can now make my own. 🙂

The smell of boller (or as we called them, “Norwegian buns” or “mom’s buns” *snicker, snicker* was one of my all time favorite scents.  The scent of cardamom and sweet dough would fill the house and it felt so warm and inviting.  Most krumkake recipes do not call for cardamom, but I added it to my Christmas Krumkake recipe to give it that special nostalgic flavor I love so much.

FYI – I am not a pro – and to be completely honest with you, this was my first time making krumkake.  Better luck next time, right?  Although, they did taste awesome.

To make krumkake, you first need a special iron.  What makes it special is the traditional rosemaling design on the iron plates.  You have 2 options when looking for an iron.  You could get the old fashioned iron, which you place over a hot stove and have to flip halfway through cooking.  Or, you could opt for the electronic Krumkake Express iron like I have below.  I found mine on Amazon for $50.

Once you have the batter mixed, you will place a tablespoon onto the middle of the iron and press the lid down so that it spreads the batter out to form a full cookie.  Follow the lights on the iron – red means wait, green means it’s done – no surprise.

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The below photo shows what it will look like before you gently pull it off the iron with a butter knife or a long, skinny spatula.  I put a little too much batter in this one, so it spread out over the edges.

Immediately after you remove the cookie from the iron, you have to roll it onto the cone to make the cone shape as in the photo below.  Let it sit for 10 seconds until it cools slightly.  During this time you could put some more batter on the iron to get your next cookie started.

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Roll the warm cookie around the cone immediately.  If you don’t act fast, it will cool too quickly, and you will not be able to bend the cookie without breaking it.

Gently remove the cone and allow the cookie to cool completely on a wire rack.  This is important.  If you lie the cookie on parchment paper, the bottom will retain moisture and make it chewy.  You want it completely dry and crumbly.

If you make your krumkake a little darker than the one above, it will have a better chance of being delicate and crumbly.  See below.

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Perfect!

 

CHRISTMAS KRUMKAKE

1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 drops 100% pure cardamom essential oil (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom)
6 Tbs. water
Krumkake Iron

Heat your Krumkake iron (I used setting 3 on the electronic iron).  Beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Add flour, vanilla, and water and mix until blended.  Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes before using.  Bake the cookies according to iron instructions.  Roll the warm cookies around the stick that comes with the iron.  Let cool on wire rack COMPLETELY.  I cannot stress this enough.  Even the slightest bit of moisture will ruin the crumbliness you are looking for.  Garnish with powdered sugar or fill with whipped cream.  There are some great recipes on Pinterest of flavored cream for krumkake.   (* If you are going to fill them with whipped cream or any other filling, you will want to do it immediately before serving.  Do not fill them ahead of time or they will get soggy.   No one likes a soggy krumkake.)


Karen Kornichuk
Certified Aromatherapist
and Member of the National Association
for Holistic Aromatherapy

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