Easy Breezy Non-Greasy Whipped Body Butter

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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?

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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

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Body Cream Perfection!

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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!  If you added preservatives, it should last 6 months to a year in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Enzyme All-Purpose Cleaner – And Baby Shampoo??

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UPDATE!  2 years after purchasing a gallon of Botanic Gold (n/k/a Enviro-One), we finally ran out.   We used it consistently for everything from foaming hand soap, to cleaning up cat puke, to all-purpose cleaner spray and more.   It has saved my family some pretty good coin over the past 2 years!  Just wanted to share because this stuff is awesome!!  It cleans grease and grime in the kitchen better than store-bought cleaners.  I spray it on my stove, counters, cat puke, etc., and within seconds, it wipes off so easily!   It’s our go-to for EVERYTHING.  For reals.

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Recently on Facebook, I came across an article stating that Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo contained formaldehyde, an ingredient that is not necessary in any of our personal care products.  J&J has since changed their ways, but I am still not convinced that using even their “Naturals Baby Shampooline is the best thing.  The ingredient list is posted below.  Pay particular attention to the bolded ingredient at the bottom:

Water, Decyl Glucoside (Source: Coconut, Palm Kernel, Corn), Cocoglycerides (Source: Coconut, Palm Kernel), Sodium Coco-Sulfate (Source: Coconut, Palm), Coco-Glucoside (Source: Coconut, Palm Kernel), Glyceryl Oleate (Source: Sunflower), Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate (Source: Coconut, Palm, Soybean), Glycerin (Source: Coconut, Palm, Soybean), Xanthan Gum (Source: Soy, Corn), Sodium Benzoate (Source: *), Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose (Source: Plant, Mineral), Citric Acid (Source: *), Sodium Hydroxide (Source: *), Parfum (Source: Plant), * The remaining ingredients are essential to blend the product together and maintain effectiveness.

First, what are these “remaining ingredients that are essential to blend the product together and maintain effectiveness,” as stated in the last sentence?  I would sure like to know – I mean, if they are natural, why not include them on the label?

Second, why does a “natural” shampoo need all of those extra ingredients?  There are cleansers that are all natural, and don’t have a bunch of stuff added to them.  I understand many of their ingredients act as emollients, and help soften/moisturize skin, but they are not necessary.  All-natural oils, such as sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil, are a better substitute for retaining moisture in the skin, and can be added to a homemade shampoo for it’s added benefits.

The main reason I posted that listing is the bolded ingredient Sodium Hydroxide.  Why is Sodium Hydroxide concerning?  Because the New Jersey Department of Health has a “Hazardous Substance Facts Sheet” for this chemical, which is posted in industrial facilities so that workers know how dangerous it is:

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Sure, I know, this fact sheet is for factory workers who are dealing with the concentrated chemical in it’s purest form, but even a tiny amount of a toxic chemical has no place in a baby shampoo.  In my honest opinion.

Here is another clip from that same Fact Sheet:

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Billion dollar product companies like J&J claim that the actual amount of an otherwise toxic chemical is not actually toxic when a minimal amount is used in personal care products.  This may be true, but the question begging to be asked is – why is it used at all when there are more natural options out there?

Why do we blindly accept everything at the grocery store as safe, or even good, for us, just because it has pretty packaging, and the word “Natural” printed on it.  Does this make it actually good for you?  Not necessarily.

We are living in a time where we cannot trust multi-billions dollar corporations to have our children’s best interests at heart.  We are their advocates, nurturers, caretakers, etc., and need to be aware of these things.

By no means am I a “crunchy” person in all aspects of life, but I do try and cut out unnecessary toxins from my personal care, medication and cleaning products.  Every product that I make has a natural base (i.e., apple cider vinegar, or sweet almond oil, etc.) and then I add essential oils to it for its potent health benefits or cleansing properties.

Here is my proposition:  If you have the ability to make your own all-natural personal care and cleaning products for you and your family, then do it.  You will not regret it.

I don’t know about you, but when I make something in my own home, from all-natural ingredients that I choose, I know that my family is getting the best of the best.  Making your own personal products is not complicated, nor does it take up much of your time.  And it saves you money in the long run.

So, back to the lil ones.  Below is a super easy homemade baby shampoo recipe, that can also be used on their hair and body, and on yours too!  The base soap is an all natural botanical soap, made from plant enzymes, called Enviro-One, that can be used for just about everything:  skin care, brushing teeth, household cleaner, baby care, fruit/veggie washing, cleaning your toilet (!) and so much more.  (I love this stuff so much that I should get paid for how much I talk about it online!  (*hint, hint, Enviro-One executives*)

There are actually over 200 uses for Enviro-One all-natural soap.  I pick up mine at their website:  Enviro-One.  It is super concentrated, so it will last a very long time.  It may seem expensive, but when you use one part soap mixed with 10 parts water, and you can usually replace all of your cleaning and skin care products with it, it’s totally worth it in my opinion and experience.  My first gallon lasted me over 2 years.  (I have not been paid by Enviro-One to write this).

Just check out the back of the bottle – those ingredients!  Now that’s natural soap:

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Muuuuch better than the J&J, right?  I love how safe it is, and how much money it will save me.


 

Homemade Baby Shampoo Recipe:

– Plastic shampoo bottle
– Small amount Botanic Gold soap (see bottle for measurements)
1 Tbs of a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil
– (see below for amounts) 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils per ounce of soap mixture (see note in red below)

Combine ingredients together in a plastic shampoo bottle, shake and you’re done.

Essential Oil Options:

Babies 3+ months (2-3 drops oil per ounce soap):  lavender, roman chamomile, frankincense.  Or you might want to use 1-2 Tbs of a hydrosol (lavender, german chamomile hydrosols are gentler than essential oils)

Babies 6+ months. (3-5 drops oil per ounce soap): tea tree, bergamot, tangerine, sandalwood, geranium, helichrysum, cypress, cedarwood

Children 2+ years (not more than 20 drops per ounce soap):  basil, clary sage, ginger, juniper berry, lemongrass, lime, myrrh, parchouli, ylang ylang.

Essential oils are not only added for their scent, but for the slew of health benefits the provide.  While certain oils would be added for their cleansing properties, others can aid in relaxation/sleep, calming, skin irritations, etc.  If essential oils are added, please be sure not to get the soap in or near your baby’s eyes.

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oil company I purchase from gives full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade and extremely potent.  If you would like more information on how to get them, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.


Blessings!
Karen

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tea

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My cup of deliciousness

Turmeric is all the rage these days, and I just had to try out a recipe for cinnamon-turmeric tea I found online.  It.  Was.  Delicious.  My husband even liked it – he said it tasted like Thanksgiving.  With flavors like clove and cinnamon, and it’s pumpkin-y color, you could make this healthy drink for your holiday party.

**Please read this great article on Authority Nutrition‘s website on the many benefits of turmeric.

After reading about the benefits in the article above, now it is time to make your own turmeric tea!  Gather up your ingredients and let’s get started:

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Simmer all spices in water for ten minutes, strain.

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Put 1/3 cup of tea in a mug and add some raw honey (even better, how about some local honey!). Then add in 2/3 cup of milk and stir well.

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CINNAMON-TURMERIC TEA

1-2 tsps turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
3 cloves (I had ground clove, so I used a tea sachet)
A pinch of grated nutmeg
4 peppercorns
1 1/2 to 2 cups of water
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 cup milk of choice

(**Add some pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils for added health benefits!  (See note in red below).  My choices would be myrrh, clove or cinnamon bark.  But only a drop or two into the whole batch.)

Simmer all spices in water for ten minutes, strain.  Put 1/3 tea, 2/3 milk in a teacup.  Add raw honey and milk and stir.  Adjust to taste.

You can save the remainder of your tea mixture in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Just warm up a batch of the mixture each time, and then add the honey and milk.

(**turmeric tends to sink to the bottom.  Be sure to stir/shake well before each use).

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FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oil company I purchase from gives full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade and extremely potent.  If you would like more information on how to get them, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.


To your health!

UPDATED – “Hyperthyroidism, Multinodular Goiters, and Hyperparathyroid Tumors, Oh My!”

auto-immune, cancer, crunchy, Graves Disease, healing, health, homeopath, hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, nutrition, parathyroid, thyroid, tumor, wellness

 

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My goiter from Graves’ Disease (a/k/a Hyperactive thyroid)

 

**UPDATE 12/15/17:  I was diagnosed last month with hyper-parathyroidism.  My Endo referred me to a surgeon, but I decided to pick my own.  I wanted the best.  I believe I found that in Dr. Steven DeJong at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.  I saw him a couple weeks ago, and after reviewing my 4D CT scan, Ultrasound and bloodwork, he believes I have 2 parathyroid tumors, and said that my thyroid/goiter and nodules are so large, that they are around the size of his fist!  And it is growing downwards into my sternum.  Yikes.

Dr. De Jong said I need to have a total thyroidectomy, and a sub-total parathyroidectomy.  Meaning, my whole thyroid/goiter is coming out, and he’s hopefully going to leave 2 parathyroid glands behind (that is, if they are normal once he gets in there).

So!  “Eviction Day” is set for January 11th.  Eviction Day is what people with parathyroid tumors affectionately call surgery day.  😉  I’m finally kicking out the beast that is wreaking all of the havoc in my body.  I am excited!…but of course a little nervous.  I’ve never had surgery before, but the thought of a 2-3 inch incision on my neck gives me the heebie jeebies.

Here I was thinking it would be a quick, non-invasive surgery like all the others with parathyroid tumors, but no.  Mine will be a regular surgery, with an overnight stay, but only 2 weeks recovery.  Not too bad.  Due to the overnight stay, all of my time off of work will be short-term disability pay, and I don’t have to use ANY personal, sick or vacation time!  Thank you Lord!  After surgery, it’s life as usual…except that I’ll apparently feel 20 years younger and my brain fog and body aches will be gone!!

I’m ready to kick butt at the gym, grow my essential oils business, ace my Aromatherapy Certification course and finish learning the basics of the Norwegian language.  It’s been so hard to do any of those things due to body aches and memory/brain fog/confusion problems.  But I have high expectations for goals and accomplishments in 2018!

I just want to offer up a bit of advice…  ANY TIME you have blood work done, always look at it.  If ANY of your numbers are in the abnormal range, and your doctor does nothing – get a 2nd opinion.  It could save you decades of pain.

**UPDATE 10/11/17:  I went for a physical the other day, at my family doctor’s office, and they sent me for bloodwork.  I’ve been experiencing diabetes symptoms, and it runs in the family, so I wanted to get checked out.  While my blood tests came back mostly normal for diabetes (even though it revealed that I’m pre-diabetes), my doctor was concerned that my calcium level was high.  What the heck could high calcium do!?  Well, I’ll tell you why you should be concerned if your calcium level is ever higher than a 10.

Anything above 10 on your blood work is considered high.  Mine was 10.7 on this current test.  In 2015 it was 11.0 and in 2014 it was 10.8.  I am not sure why my doctor didn’t say anything about my level being high in 2014 or 2015, but I’m grateful that he looked into it further this time.  With the latest symptoms I’ve been experiencing over the past year or so, he decided to send me back to the lab for a PTH test (parathyroid hormone test).

Apparently, if both your calcium and parathyroid levels are high, you more or less have a parathyroid tumor called an “adenoma.”  They are almost always benign (less than 1 in 2500 are cancerous), but this little bugger wreaks havoc on your body.  It basically pulls calcium out of your bones (even your teeth!), and the calcium floats around in your blood stream because you are unable to absorb it.  This causes many frustrating symptoms that make you feel ill just about all of the time.  There is a more scientific explanation at Parathyroid.com, they are experts and only deal with parathyroid diseases.

I’ve had all sorts of symptoms that I’ve never been able explain for about 9 years now.  It’s so frustrating to have your thyroid checked yearly, only to get a normal result – but you still know there is something wrong with your body.  Doctors begin to think you’re making it all up!  After my doctor ordered me to get the parathyroid blood test, I Googled “parathyroid adenoma” symptoms – I have just about all of them.  It also went on to say that there is a quick procedure to remove the tumor (less than 20 mins!), with a small incision on your neck and a quick recovery, as opposed to the old school surgery with an 8″ incision!  (yikes!!)  They say that once the troublemaker tumor is removed, you are cured.  You are basically supposed to feel normal again within hours, days or months (depending on how sick you were and for how long).  I cannot contain my excitement!!  I don’t even remember what “normal” feels like!!  I’m basically praying I have this tumor, so that I can get it taken out.  😉

I got the results of my PTH tests back and my level is 110 pg/mL.  Normal levels are between 15 and 65 pg/mL.  So, it looks like I have the tumor.   I scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist.  I am assuming he will diagnose me with hyperparathyroid adenoma, and when he does, I am scheduling the surgery ASAP.  I am aching (no pun intended) to feel better!

I will update again after my appointment with the endocrinologist.  Hoping for a diagnosis so I can finally get the tumor out and be done with this part of my life.


 

(Original blog)

Back in 1996, when I was in high school, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, called Grave’s Disease (a/k/a hyperactive thyroid) and was told I also had toxic multinodular goiters on my thyroid.  The goiter was benign, thank God, but the symptoms of the disease were rough on me as an already self-conscious teenager.

[The thyroid is a small gland in the neck just below the Adam’s apple.  Its primary function is to produce hormones that influence most of the metabolic functions of the body.  Three primary thyroid conditions, of which I will mention later, can occur for a variety of reasons and each carry their own set of annoying symptoms.]

So, at 16, my daily life was filled with nervousness, anxiety, shakiness, excessive sweating, losing hair around the hairline, large eyes and pupils, feeling sick if I hadn’t eaten, and basically looking anorexic due to the inability to gain weight.  I also had a lump growing on my lower neck called a goiter.  Just lovely.

At times it was hard to sleep on my stomach because my pillow would push against my tender goiter.  I started sleeping with a stuffed bear under my chest to lift up my neck.  This would relieve any pressure on my goiter.

There were one “bonus” in having a hyperactive thyroid – I could eat an entire pizza every day of the week, or 2 pints of Hagen Daaz ice cream in one sitting, and not gain an ounce!  Being skinny may sound like a good thing, but it’s not in this case.  And I can’t tell you how many people have asked me “how can I get a hyper-thyroid!?”  Trust me people, you don’t want one!!

One particularly hard part about having this disease as a teen was that kids at school would ask me if I were anorexic.  A friend once approached me in the hallway at school, and asked if I were sick because I had a lump on my neck (goiter).  I didn’t “fill out” the school bathing suit in gym class like the other girls, because I was too skinny.   That was embarrassing, to say the least.

Finally, after a year or so on antithyroid medications – Synthroid and PTU – my doctor scheduled me to have the radioactive iodine treatment (“RAI”) at the Nuclear Medicine department of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.  This was to try to stop my thyroid from producing too much thyroid hormone.  This treatment is serious business – the doctor dons protective gloves and drops a radioactive iodine pill down your throat.  You aren’t even allowed to touch it.  You are then instructed not to sit by anyone who is pregnant for 3 days after treatment (!?!).  You are to flush the toilet 3 times each time you go, and eat with paper plates and plastic forks.  They don’t want any of your bodily fluids touching someone else.  (And maybe my future children will have 3 heads?)

I wondered, if the radioactivity in my body could harm someone else just by sitting next to them, what radioactive residue could it leave behind that might wreak havoc in my future?  While the future of my health is unknown, I am thankful that my thyroid has currently, and for the past 22 years, not given me any trouble since RAI treatment.  This is actually pretty rare because most people end up turning hypo (underactive) after this treatment, and need to take Synthroid for the rest of their lives.  I am basically cured, hopefully forever, of the overproduction of thyroid hormone in my thyroid.  I still have goiters, and I still get yearly blood tests.  So, it’s not completely out of my life.

My goiter isn’t as noticeable now, but I still get a tad self-conscious when I wear a short necklace, which accentuates my lump.  Sometimes I feel the necklace is like a blinking arrow on the Vegas strip, directing your gaze to my lovely lump!  (Said lump is depicted in the photo at the top of this page).


TYPES OF THYROID DISORDERS

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a where the thyroid is not producing enough of the thyroid hormones, which may lead to a variety of symptoms, such as:  obesity, joint pain, infertility, heart disease, tiredness, depression, lack of concentration, feeling cold, constipation, muscle cramps, weight gain, increased menstrual flow, more frequent periods, itchy skin and thinning hair.  It is most common in women, over 50.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

This is where the body attacks the thyroid tissue.  This results in inflammation and damage to the tissue.  Which then results in reduced amounts of the hormones normally generated by the thyroid.

Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid increases your metabolism, like you wouldn’t believe.  It causes sudden weight loss (I was 96 lbs my senior year in high school), a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nervousness and irritability.  More symptoms include: insomnia, anxiety, irritability, bulging eyes, weakness in arms/legs, shaky hands, frequent bowel movements, weight loss, racing heartbeat, premature grey hair, lighter menstrual flow, less frequent periods.   All of which I experienced as a 16 year old.  Ugh…

Various forms of hyperthyroidism include:

Graves’ disease
Toxic adenomas
Subacute thyroiditis
Goiters/Nodules


 CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS

Antithyroid Medications
Thyroid Removal
Radioactive Iodine (RAI)
Alternative wellness support (i.e., essential oils, healthy eating, supplements, lemon tonic (see my blog on these), etc.)


ESSENTIAL OILS FOR THYROID

While I am not on any thyroid medications, I do try and support my thyroid with a natural approach.  There are a few essential oils can be a huge help in supporting your endocrine system, especially your thyroid.  Some of which include:  Myrtle, Lemongrass and Frankincense.

Myrtle oil is what they call an “adaptogen” type of oil.  It has been discovered through research that myrtle oil has the ability to support the natural balance of the thyroid hormone – whether under-performing or over-performing.  (see research by Dr. Daniel Penoel).

Rub 1-3 diluted drops of myrtle oil onto your big toe, or on your neck below where the Adam’s apple would sit, once or twice a day. You can also intensify this thyroid support by blending lemongrass or frankincense – they are both the “intensifiers.”

Should you wish to make a rollerball bottle, for easy application, of myrtle and lemongrass, or lemongrass and frankincense, be sure to dilute it as follows:

Add 10 drops of an essential oil to any 5mL roller bottle.  Add 20 drops of an essential oil if you are using a 10mL roller bottle.  Then, you would fill the remainder of the roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil.  This is roughly a 1:10 ratio.  Or see chart below.  The colored drops show how many actual drops of oil to use in the corresponding bottle size, and the gray drop shows the percentages it would represent for each of those colored drops.  I hope it makes sense.  (It confused me at first!)  (See note in red below)

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FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oil company I purchase from gives full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade and extremely potent.  If you would like more information on how to get them, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.



If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, please make an appointment with a good Endocrinologist.  They will take the appropriate blood tests to see if you have low or high thyroid hormone levels.

Blessings and good health to you!

Karen

DIY Facial Serum

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Facial serums are an important part of a skin-care regimen, just as much as a good cleanser and moisturizer.  Serum will provide nourishment and soothing to your skin.

If you have acne-prone skin, you would benefit from a light, astringent serum to keep your face moisturized and nourished without clogging pores.  And you will also want to use as a toner, either Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, or organic witchhazel – or both combined (witchhazel-based toner is the best for your skin, as it will not dry it out like an alcohol-based toner would). Toner is always a must in any skin care regimen because it firms, tightens and tones the skin.

If you are 25 or older, I would highly recommend using an anti-aging facial serum.  It’s never too early to start nourishing your skin.  As skin ages, it loses its elasticity and starts to sag.  Without proper moisture and nourishment, you may end up looking like an American bulldog by the time you are 60.  Sorry, it’s truth – and the truth hurts sometimes…

Let’s get started!


FIRST, choose your carrier oil – which is your main ingredient.  It’s also known as a base oil.  Below are a list of very light base oils that will not leave your skin sticky or greasy.  I would try to always get organic or cold-pressed:

Argan oil (for dry, aging, oily, normal, or acne-prone skin)
Jojoba oil (for dry, aging, oily, normal, or acne-prone skin)
Apricot kernel oil (for any skin type, but especially dry, aging skin)
Sweet almond oil (thicker, and takes longer to sink in, but nourishing)
Grapeseed oil (for normal, oily, or acne-prone skin)
Avocado oil (for dry and aging skin)
Hemp seed oil (for any skin type, also very light)
Calendula oil (extremely healing to irritated, sensitive skin)

My favorite base oils are jojoba oil or sweet almond oil.  They are very lightweight and do not clog pores.


SECOND, you will choose an extra oil, for added nourishment (optional, but very beneficial).  Here are some extra oils:

Tamanu oil (good for acne-prone or oily skin, or skin with scars)
Sea buckthorn oil (for all skin types, but especially aging or dry skin)
Rosehip seed oil (regenerating, firming, anti-aging)
Carrot seed oil (super nourishing! – you only need a miniscule amount
Borage oil (high in oleic acids – for most skin types, especially oily & acne-prone skin)
Evening primrose oil (acne, aging, normal skin)
Neem oil (antimicrobial and healing – for acne and oily skin)
Emu oil (emollient, protective and nourishing – for dry or aging skin)


THIRD, choose your favorite essential oils that work best according to your specific skin care needs.  You will only need a few small drops of essential oil as they are super potent.  (See note in red below)

Here are the most-used essential oils in skin care:

Lavender (oily or dry skin)
Peppermint (oily or dry skin)
Chamomile (soothing for sensitive skin)
Rose (for aging, dry and normal skin) (Unless you are the CEO of Microsoft, you may not be able to afford this oil!  My company finally sells it, and it’s pre-diluted so it’s cheaper!  Hallelujah!)
Geranium (for dry, sensitive, aging, and normal skin)
Lemongrass (brightens/tones – for normal or oily skin)
Rosemary (moisturizes oily skin)

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oil company I purchase from gives full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade and extremely potent.  If you would like more information on how to get them, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.


LAST, take the dropper top off of a 1-oz glass bottle and:

1.  Fill your bottle just under 2/3 of the way with your base oil.

2.  Add “extra” oil until the bottle is just about full (If you are using carrot seed oil, only use a few drops)

3.  Add 5-7 drops of essential oil.  (Less if you’re using peppermint!! – and make sure to keep away from eyes).  Put the cap on your bottle and shake well.  You should be able to smell the oils, but it should not be overwhelming.

Apply 2-3 drops to face and neck after cleansing, and before your moisturizer.  If you use toner, use it after the toner.  You will not need a moisturizer after applying the serum – it should give you enough moisture on its own.  Keep your serum out of the sunlight (use a dark colored class bottle, such as amber or cobalt blue).  Give it a little shake each time before you apply the serum, to make sure the oils are well combined.  It should be good for up to 12 months.

This recipe may need tweaking, to accommodate your skin care needs.  We all have different skin types, and an oil that is good for one may not be good for another.  I would suggest by making only a small amount at first.  If it ends up not working for your face, you can always rub it on your body to moisturize before bed, or add it to your whipped body butter (see my recipe HERE).  The mixture will still benefit your skin, and does not need to go to waste.

To learn more about essential oils, or the brand I use, comment below.  I’m happy to help point you in the right direction.

Blessings

Silky Whipped Body Butter

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 Winter in Chicago is pretty darn cold!  Between the below-zero windchill days, and the strong winds off of Lake Michigan, it is almost impossible to stay moisturized throughout the winter months.

I have tried numerous body creams and lotions, and while some commercial creams work pretty well, none are as luxurious as this do-it-yourself whipped body butter – or as pure.  Frankincense essential oil provides extra skin-soothing support, and I highly recommend you add it to this recipe.  (See my blog on Frankincense HERE.)

Rather than purchasing creams from the drug store, which contain parabens, mineral oils, formaldehyde, sulfates, preservatives, animal fillers, petrolatum, GMOs, etc., you can make your own all-natural body cream and actually nourish your body, rather than fill it with toxins.

My husband’s job causes him to wash his hands with a very harsh scrubbing soap, which leaves the tops of his hands dried out, red, rough and cracked from the lack of moisture.  I applied this body butter to his hands before bed, and by morning they were much softer and less irritated.

**Quick Tip!  If you have a mason jar or glass container that still has a price sticker on the bottom, any citrus essential oil will remove it, including all sticky residue, within a couple of minutes!  No need to purchase Goo Gone anymore once you have these oils.

I am always amazed at how having essential oils in your home can eliminate almost every store-bought cleaner.  (See my Essential Oils Cabinet project HERE.)

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Voila! No sticky residue left on the glass!

So, let’s get started!

First you will want to gather your ingredients (see recipe below):

In a double broiler or glass bowl, combine all ingredients except sweet almond, shea or jojoba oil and essential oil/oils.

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Bring to a low-medium heat. Stir constantly until all ingredients are melted.  Remove from heat, add your shea/almond/jojoba oil and stir to combine.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes.

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Place your bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes, or in the fridge for a few hours, until the oil is opaque and somewhat solidified.  It should no longer be a clear liquid.  (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture at this point!)

Once your oils have solidified, remove it from the fridge and add your essential oils. Using a hand mixer, whip for 10 minutes.  Body butter will become fluffy and look like whipped cream.

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Scoop into a glass jar, or if it is a gift, use a piping bag to give it more of a design.

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My piping design didn’t look so pretty….  So, I just filled the jar completely, tapping it on the counter each time to make sure it filled every space of the jar.

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If you are giving it as a gift, find some cute labels and ribbon and beautify it!  I think I will be giving one of these to all of my bosses this Christmas. It makes a thoughtful and budget-friendly gift for anyone.

SILKY WHIPPED BODY BUTTER

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw shea butter
1/2 cup raw mango butter
1/2 cup cold-pressed coconut oil
1/2 cup sweet almond oil, jojoba oil OR shea oil
20-30 drops essential oils of choice
10 drops of frankincense oil (optional – fyi, frankincense in creases the potency of other oils)

(*Essential Oil Variations, depending on your health needs:  Copaiba, cedarwood, heluchrysum, geranium, melaleuca, peppermint, lavender, chamomile, cassia wild orange, rosemary, eucalyptus, grapefruit.  NOTE:  If using any citrus essential oils, DO NOT go in the sun for up to 12 hours.  It could cause severe burns.  They are “photosensitive oils”.)  (See Note in red below)

Directions:

In a double broiler or glass bowl, combine all ingredients except almond/shea/jojoba oil and essential oil/oils.  Bring to a low-medium heat. Stir constantly until all ingredients are melted.  Remove from heat, add your almond oil and stir to combine.  Allow to cool.  

Move bowl to the fridge and allow to cool for 1 hour.  This is important because you do not want to add essential oils to hot oil, or it will decrease it’s wellness benefits.  It should look slightly opaque and soft at this point.  Remove from the fridge and add your essential oils. Using a hand mixer, whip for 10 minutes. Body butter will to become fluffy and form stiff peaks.  Store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

I HIGHLY recommend this body butter to anyone with dry or problem skin.  It has become my favorite body cream!  For extra added skin soothing, add frankincense and/or helichrysum oils to your butter.

Also, the types of base oils or butters that you add to this body butter makes a huge difference if you have eczema or sensitive/irritated skin.  I would recommend: raw shea butter, raw mango butter, almond oil, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, hemp seed oil, borage seed oil, evening primrose oil, calendula oil, kukui nut oil, carrot seed oil, safflower oil, peach kernel oil, sea buckthorn oil, rosehip oil, tamanu oil, sesame oil, walnut oil.  They are all very soothing for eczema.

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oil company I purchase from gives full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade and extremely potent.  If you would like more information, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

Until next time – stay moisturized!