Easy Natural Lip Balm

I’m very happy with my first attempt at making my own lip balm!

There are myriad recipes for DIY lip balm on the internet. Some of them were very complicated, and every single one is a bit different than the others, even if they have the same ingredients in them.

In the end, I decided that proportion was the thing to get right, and the more straightforward I could make it, the better!

This was the recipe I used.

Ingredients:

40g pure Shea butter
40 g coconut oil
80gm beeswax pellets
40 drops peppermint essential oil

Equipment:

Microwave safe jug
Wooden spoon for stirring
Small spatula

Method:

  1. Melt the Shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.
  2. When it is all melted and no wax pellets remain, stir in essential oil. 
  3. Pour into small pots or tins.

Notes:

It will set at room temperature, but that will cool and set faster in the fridge.

When set, the lip balm should be opaque white and smooth in appearance. 

This recipe makes approx. ten small tins. 

The Verdict:

This was so easy to make!

It set really well and has a nice, smooth consistency.

The smell is quite neutral and only faintly minty.

It feels lovely on my lips, with a delicious little tingle from the peppermint.

I love the fact that this has no chemicals in it!

I’m very happy to be reusing tins and containers that I already had. I simply used some decorative tape to cover the lids.

DIY Hand Sanitiser

This week, as one of my “I’m staying at home, so I’m going to make the time useful” projects, I made my own hand sanitiser. 

Sadly, in this time of corona virus and panic buying/hoarding by selfish people, there’s no real need to explain why. 

While there are several recipes in circulation on the internet, the one I used was given to me by my local natural health practitioner. I chose this recipe because it included Vitamin E oil to nourish and moisturise the skin.

Ingredients: 

  • 100 ml aloe vera gel
  • 80 ml water 
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil 
  • 12 drops essential oil of choice
  • 1/3 cup isopropyl alcohol 

The original recipe had 1/4 tsp of vitamin E oil, which I doubled in the hope of preventing the nasty dryness and itching that I experience with so many of the commercial products. 

In the interests of making my lotion as cleanly as possible, I used room-temperature water out of the kettle, which had been boiled that morning. 

I don’t really like overly floral fragrances, so I chose something more aromatic and spicy: a blend of bergamot, sweet orange, cinnamon, cardamom and clove which not only smells really nice, it is strong enough to counter the smell of the alcohol and fragrance the lotion without being overpowering. 

Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine aloe vera gel, vitamin e oil and essential oils. 
  2. Add water and alcohol, mixing well to combine. 
  3. Pour into a clean, dry container. 

I used two 100 ml containers that I bought specifically for this purpose, as they are different from any of the other bottles or tubes of stuff in my house, and therefore won’t be confused with anything else. 

I also clearly labelled them, so that everyone in my house knows what is inside. 

I have been using this sanitiser for two days and have no dermatitis or nasty reaction yet. This is a very good sign, as I have sensitive skin and tend to react quickly to anything it doesn’t like. 

Four Years Migraine Free: A Happy Anniversary Indeed!

Today is the fourth anniversary of my daith piercing. That also makes today the fourth anniversary of the last of the debilitating migraines and chronic severe headaches that had plagued me consistently throughout my teens and adult life. 

My Daith Piercing

I don’t think I could ever forget the surprise and shock when that migraine— which I had had for five days— was gone within an hour of the piercing being done. I had definitely not expected that to happen! 

I also still remember the profound sense of clarity and awareness the following day when I was in the classroom and completely headache-free — an entirely new experience for me.

The niggling fear and suspicion that it couldn’t last and that the next migraine was lurking around some corner, waiting to accost me and steal my new lease on life, was a feeling that took some time to overcome.

That hasn’t happened yet, and while I realise that day might yet come, I no longer actively think about it. 

I am so incredibly thankful for the difference in my life that one piercing made. I am also thankful to my professional body piercer for her expertise, and for having taken the time to learn how to use her art for therapy and healing.

Vetiver Oil: A Grass Roots Therapy For Better Sleep

One of my most consistent problems with sleeplessness is that I can be totally exhausted, but still unable to actually drop off to sleep. 

That’s mostly because of my fibromyalgia, but it is complicated by back pain on those nights when my pain relief medication fails to cut the mustard, as it sometimes does. 

Because I know from past experience that prescription sleeping medication causes my whole system to lag, and because of the strong pain killers I need to take for my back as well as my fibro, I feel very strongly about not having those other drugs in my regime. 

So, I recently visited my friendly local alternative health practitioner and asked, “What can you suggest to help me sleep?”

She suggested Vetiver Oil, diluted in fractionated coconut oil. The instructions say to apply it under both big toes and to the wrists, to inhale deeply on going to bed, and to reapply on waking through the night. 

Extracted from the roots of vetiver grass, vetiver oil is useful for calming emotions and relaxing the body.

The first night, I did doze off more easily. I also smelt like I was sleeping in the very damp leaf litter on the floor of a forest that didn’t get enough sunlight. Inhaling it deeply wasn’t anything I needed to do consciously — that was unavoidable! It is not an offensive smell, but it is distinctive and perhaps a little strong. 

On the second night I decidedto just go with it under the big toes, and I added a dab or two on the inside of my ankles instead of my wrists – I figured the circulation is near the skin there, too, and I wouldn’t find the smell so strong there. I found that it still helped me to drift off and the smell of the oil was not so pervasive. 

On the third night, I followed the same routine as the previous night. I also used some lemongrass oil on my fingers and hands for pain management, as I often do through the day. It wasn’t my intention, but I found the lemongrass balanced and lightened the vetiver quite effectively. That was a happy accident! 

I have been following that routine for a couple of weeks now, and while I still don’t fall asleep quickly, I have observed that drifting off is gentler and generally doesn’t take as long as it has done in the past. 

Having experienced difficulty falling asleep for as long as I can remember – even before the onset of fibromyalgia, it’s fir to say that any improvement is welcome. 

Fibro-my-Sunday.

Image by Jordan_Singh on Pixabay

My plans for today are not optional. That is a luxury rarely available to me.

When I woke up, though, I realised my body has other ideas:

Me: “Come on, legs. You can do it!”
My legs: “No. We can’t.”
Me: “You have to.”
My legs: “Fine. But we’re going to make you suffer.”
My back: “I’m with them.”
My fingers: “Us too!”

I got up and showered. I needed the hot water for my back, but the water hitting my skin was painful.

I dressed, but then had to change into something made from softer fabric that didn’t hurt my skin so much just by being against it.

I downed my medications, hoping they would work quickly. They didn’t.

I drank my coffee, hoping the caffeine would make a difference. It didn’t.

I can’t take any more pain killers for hours. I can have more caffeine, though, so that is definitely happening.

This is one snapshot of one morning. One morning that is complete typical of many others in my life, and in the lives of other fibromyalgia sufferers.

And now, I am off to a full day of rehearsals that I have to attend because I am the director.

Today is going to be an exercise in perseverance and in drawing upon my actor’s craft. The role I play today needs to be motivated and excited, and able to project that motivation and commitment into my cast and crew.

I cannot fall over. I will not fall over. That is, at least, until I get home.

Tell you what, though. I’m glad my other half is cooking dinner, because I’m already exhausted.

Fibromyalgia Friendly Salad Dressing

A locally produced hemp oil that I bought at Timboon Railway Distillery.

I’ve been making my own salad dressings for a while, but have recently changed up one of my recipes with a new ingredient: hemp oil, also known as hempseed oil. 

Hemp oil is not the same as cannabis oil. The variety of hemp from which the oil is obtained doesn’t contain any of the interesting qualities that some people seek in the leaves of some of its cousins, but it does possess enormous anti-inflammatory properties due to its high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fats. It’s also really good for your skin

I have been using hemp oil instead of olive oil in my balsamic salad dressing, which I use for my lunch most days. The balsamic vinegar and mustard help to balance the flavour of the oil, and combine with the oil to produce a delicious dressing that gives my salad and my body a boost. 

Some people make larger quantities, but I prefer to work with small amounts and make it more often. I don’t think that there is any particular health advantage to that – it’s simply personal preference. 

It’s a very easy and straightforward recipe: 

  • 3 tablespoon hemp oil
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon whole grain mustard 

Simply put it all in a jar or jug, and stir with a fork. Some people might like to shake it to mix it, but shaking a jar causes me pain in my arm for some time afterwards.

If you’re storing leftover dressing in the fridge, make sure you stir or shake it well before using it on your next salad, just to keep the ingredients mixed and distributed evenly. 

I use this dressing on a salad full of fibre-friendly foods: dry slaw, mixed leafy greens, capsicum, beetroot, cucumber, roasted pine nuts, and a few cherry tomatoes. I generally add some cold chicken, or occasionally switch that up with some tuna or other fish. And because I love dill pickles and pickled onions, there’s usually one of each of those chopped into the mix for a pop of delicious tang.

Best Essential Oils for Sleep

There are people in this world who are able to get into bed, lie down, take a deep breath, and fall asleep right away.

I kid you not.
I know this, because my husband is one of them.

I can lie there practising every relaxation and breathing technique I know, and it doesn’t happen. Sometimes I can lie there for hours before I finally drop off. This is what I have come to consider “normal”.

Even if I don’t fall asleep as quickly or easily as I would like, I have found that essential oils can be very helpful with relaxation and restfulness.

This very handy post by Alisson at The Sustainable Mess blog outlines which ones are generally the most useful.

Fair Fashion & Sustainable Lifestyle Blog

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health. Essential oils can be used for a variety of purposes, from boosting mood to relieving migraines. In this article, I listed out the best oils that can be used to feel calm, relax and help you sleep.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Before getting started, there are a few basics to remember when working with essential oils:

  • When applying oils topically, always use a carrier oil. These are oils used to dilute essential oils, like coconut, argan oil or jojoba oil.
  • Always do a patch test before applying anything to larger areas of your skin.
  • Make sure you only ingest essential oils that are meant to be eaten.
  • Buy “pure” essential oils. There…

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Warning: May Cause Insomnia

So, I’ve been limping for a few weeks with a sore heel.
It’s been much worse over the past two weeks, when I couldn’t have seen a doctor about it if I tried, unless I went to the emergency room. In my completely non-medical-professional, sucking-it-up-like-a-big-girl opinion, it wasn’t bad enough for that.

Today I saw a doctor.
Turns out it’s acute tendinitis of the Achilles. 
Oops.

I’m now on medication – anti-inflammatory pain killers and prednisolone – in addition to the DoTerra Deep Blue ointment that I’ve been using on it. That stuff is really good, by the way. I’ve also been told to rest it and be gentle when I do have to walk on it.

2018-01-04 11.56.02

When I opened the package from the pharmacy, the information provided told me that  the medication might cause drowsiness. There was also a sticker on the box that warned me that it could affect mental alertness and/or coordination. With those warnings heeded, I took my medication and went to bed.

At this point, it’s fair to point out that I’ve never been a sound sleeper. Insomnia has been a way of life for me for years. The degree of wakefulness last night, however, was unexpected, even for me.

I looked at the label on the box again this morning. It didn’t tell any lies. It certainly did affect my mental alertness. I was sitting up at 3am writing a story so good, I scared myself.

The saddest part is that I’m not even surprised by any of this. It’s exactly how my luck and my life tend to roll. Prescribed rest, though… that’s not so bad.  Hello, books.

 

 

Who Says Gentlemen Don’t Exist Anymore?

Today I took my sister, my brother-in-law and my 86 year old dad shopping. Between my dodgy spine and Fibromyalgia, I generally walk slowly.  Imagine my surprise today, then, when I actually found myself walking faster than someone else in the shopping centre.

Sure, he was 90ish and had a walker, but he was very gracious and let me enjoy my moment.

Who says gentlemen don’t exist anymore?

rollator-2298056_960_720

Conch Piercing for Pain Relief.

Chronic pain is a hard slog. I don’t like to complain about it, but it’s a fact of life for me, courtesy of both Fibromyalgia and a degenerative condition in my spine. Living with pain and the exhaustion it causes isn’t easy. “Faking it” in order to appear as though one is living life normally can be just as exhausting as the pain itself.

It’s easy to take medications and think that you’re doing all you can. It’s very tempting to feel sorry for yourself, which can be very dangerous because it’s a hole that’s hard to get out of.

I’m here to tell you, though, that I’ve found something else that helps.

Ear map

A “map” of different ear piercing positions.

Having had a daith piercing that successfully dealt with my migraines and cluster headaches,  I was excited to hear about a piercing that was reported to help with chronic pain.

I read as much as I could and spoke to an acupuncturist about it, who told me there was no reason why it might not work, especially given the success of my daith piercing. It seemed to be a therapy to which my body responded in a really positive way.

On October 18, I returned to the same professional body piercer who had pierced my daith and had another piercing done on an acupressure point in the ear that is treated to ease chronic pain. It’s called a conch piercing. It’s the one nestled in the centre of the “shell” of my ear.

The first night, I slept a lot, which is very unusual for me. In fact, I slept right through the night! I observed the next day that I couldn’t remember the last time that had happened. Since then, I’ve slept consistently better than before the piercing – probably because my brain is less jangled by pain than before. 

I’ve been able to significantly reduce my codeine intake by about 90%. Before the conch piercing, there were days when I was taking as much codeine as I had been prescribed, and sometimes it didn’t seem to touch the pain at all.
In the seven weeks since the piercing, I’ve taken less and less of it. I still have pain, but I can manage it most of the time with ibuprofen or paracetamol, only needing to take codeine occasionally.  When I do need to take it, I take one pill, not two.
Reducing my codeine intake is something for which my liver and kidneys will thank me forever, and has other… erm… regular health benefits which need no spelling out to anyone who has ever taken codeine frequently.

Conch 2I’ve also coped a lot better with the hot weather, which always caused my Fibromyalgia to flare and render me almost useless. I still have summer to get through, but I got through some very hot weather last week without falling apart, so I am hopeful that it is a sign of improvement that I will enjoy from now on.

I deal much better with stress than I did previously. I used to experience temperature spikes and pain flares whenever I experienced stress or strong emotions. Those seem to have diminished to instances that last only minutes instead of hours.

So, here’s hoping that it will continue to diminish my pain in the long term.

I’ll keep you updated.