The Natural Buzz / Essential Oils
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Do you make a conditioner?” I have a page on my site called Shampoo Bar Success which goes into the whole reason some people develop what I like to call “Barbie Doll Hair Syndrome” where your hair feels wet and weird even when it’s dry, so I won’t go into that here.
But a vinegar rinse doesn’t have to be plain. Today we’ll talk about why apple cider vinegar makes a great conditioner, infusing herbs into the vinegar and using essential oils as well.
If you looked at your hair under a microscope it might appear to have flakes on it. These “flakes” are the cuticle and they are what protect the fragile inner layers of our hair. When the cuticle is lying flat it will reflect light causing the hair to shine. When the cuticle is lying flat it will also give out hair the silky smooth appearance we love. When the cuticle is worn down our hair will look dull, lifeless, frizzy or limp.
Commercial conditioners work by coating the hair with silicone to cause the cuticle to lie down and appear smooth. Problem is, now you have silicone covered hair. So how do we get our cuticles to behave without chemicals? Apple cider vinegar!
Apple cider vinegar strips the build-up of silicone other residue from our hair shaft causing the cuticle to lay flat (shinier hair) as well as closing the cuticles which allows our hair to slide more easily and results in less tangles.
You can use a plain vinegar rinse, starting with a 1-1 ratio of vinegar to water to strip off the residue and silicone build up when you begin using natural shampoo bar. As you go use less vinegar and more water. There is no specific ratio that is best because we all have different needs. Dry hair tends to need less vinegar than oily hair. Experiment to find what’s right for you. I like to do my rinse in the shower after I shampoo and leave it on for a few minutes. Save the hair rinse until after you’ve washed and rinsed the rest of you. You CAN leave it in. The smell will go away after your hair is dry. If you struggle with dandruff or an itchy scalp try leaving it in, the ACV will restore the natural PH of the hair and help with those conditions.
You can also make your ACV rinse as fancy as you want! Infusing herbs into vinegar is a simple way to add extra conditioning to your hair. Herbs contain many wonderful properties and you can experiment to find the ones that are right for you. Personally, I like Ayurvedic Herbs for hair.
Bhringraj is excellent for promoting hair growth, moisturizing dry hair, and reducing premature greying, balding and alopecia.
Brahmi Powder darkens hair (not one I need since I’m a natural blonde), strengthens the roots, controls premature graying and helps clear up dandruff.
Shikakai Powder cleanses the scalp, breathes new life into dull hair, fights dandruff, makes hair silky and detangles. Amla Powder stimulates the root to promote hair growth, reduces shedding, fights premature graying and is great conditioner.
Neem is a powerful antiseptic and helpful for clearing dandruff.
Don’t have access to Ayurvedic Herbs? Try some of these more commonly found ones.
Rosemary is great for dandruff and hair loss. Be aware it can darken hair so best for brunettes and dark hair colors.
Calendula is hydrating, clears dandruff, and strengthens both scalp and hair. It is also great for giving natural highlights.
Chamomile is soothing for the scalp and is said to help prevent hair loss. It also imparts a beautiful shine.
Whichever herb you choose be sure that it’s organic or if from your own yard that it’s not been sprayed with chemicals.
Place about a cup of chopped herbs into a glass jar and cover with about 2 cups of vinegar. If you’re using powdered herbs you can use about 4 TBSP per cup of ACV. Steep fresh herbs in a cool, dry place for a couple of weeks. For powders be sure to shake the jar frequently to impart the properties of the powder to the ACV.
After a few weeks, strain the vinegar into a clean jar or bottle and it will keep about 6 months in the refrigerator. If you happen to run out or are just really impatient you can also boil the vinegar and herbs together for about 15-30 minutes and then allow to sit, off the heat for another 30-45minutes. Strain, cool and refrigerate.
Essential oils can be added to your ACV rinse with or without herbs but be very careful because some oils can burn you if not properly diluted. Never use more than a 1.5% dilution of essential oils in vinegar (5-10 drops to 2 cups of vinegar).
Look for Ayurvedic Vinegar Herbal Rinses on our website within the next couple of weeks.
This past weekend at the Mother Earth Fair in Seven Springs, PA I gave several demonstrations on how to make your own remineralizing tooth paste from ingredients most people have on hand in their home. There were many people who stopped by our booth but missed the demonstrations. I'd like to thank each person who stopped by our booth and visited with us! We enjoyed meeting you and sharing information. Here is the recipe and logic behind each ingredient.
- Bentonite Clay – Bentonite clay has the ability to absorb toxins, heavy metals, & impurities.(I get mine at our local health food store but you can get it here)
- Calcium Carbonate/Magnesium Powder – Calcium & Magnesium help provide a good source of minerals and can whiten as well. Calcium Carbonate and Magnesium are actually the ingredients of Tums, Rolaids or Mylanta tablets. You can grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder. (If you prefer to purchase the powder this is a good source.)
- Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is a natural anti-bacterial & anti-fungal, and it also helps bind the ingredients together. Always use Organic Virgin Oil.
- Essential Oils – The essential oils I used in the demonstration were spearmint and tangerine. Spearmint oil has antibacterial and pain relieving properties. Tangerine oil is an excellent antiseptic. These are the oils I use in my daughters toothpaste. I like to add oils of oregano, tea tree, clove and blood orange to it. This gives it anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, & antimicrobial properties. (I use several suppliers for my oils but I like this line of Organic Essential Oils.)
- Myrhh Gum Powder - Myrrh is commonly used in dental care and oral health. It helps prevent dental problems such as gingivitis, mouth ulcers, receding gums, sensitive teeth, toothache and bad breath. (Great source and Kosher too)
- Stevia – This is totally optional, but a small amount of stevia can add a touch of sweetness to your toothpaste. Be sure to look for one WITHOUT added glycerin. (this one is organic)
Other great ingredients that are optional.
Baking Soda – Baking soda helps whiten the teeth by removing stains, and also contains minerals & is alkaline.
Trace Minerals – Adding a boost of bio-available trace minerals will provide an array of extra minerals to your toothpaste.
Colloidal Silver - Colloidal silver destroys disease-causing microorganisms in the mouth, and soothes and heals the gums and oral tissues, while also boosting the immunity of the entire body.
Oil of Oregano - Is an antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. This oil should be in your medicine cabinet!
This recipe will encourage remineralization of tooth enamel by neutralizing acids and bacteria, supplying calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus for strengthening teeth, and maintaining a naturally alkaline pH.
So…if you decide NOT to make your own and want to find a natural one here are the ingredients to avoid.
Glycerin-Coats your teeth and prevents the absorption of minerals. It can take as many as 20-30 rinses to get all the glycerin off your teeth after brushing.
Sodium lauryl sulfate – In addition to being linked to many auto-immune disorders it is also linked to aphthous ulcers (canker sores and other mouth ulcers) For more info on this ingredient.
Fluoride – This controversial ingredient reared its ugly as a popular form of rat poison. While most of us have been taught it’s beneficial for our teeth, research does not bear this out.
We put a lot of time, work and money into creating clean, healthy homes for ourselves and our family. For most of us, a healthy home and environment doesn’t include toxic chemicals but many of us use cleaning products with potentially toxic ingredients. The floors our children crawl on, the countertop where we prepare food, even the air we breathe is a potential toxic wasteland when we use noxious chemicals to “clean”.
There is an alternative to synthetic chemicals and it is brought to us courtesy of nature. Plant essential oils not only clean and disinfect but they smell great too! Studies have shown many essential oils are antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral as well. Cleaning with essential oils also saves a lot of money!
Below are a few recipes you can use for a clean, non-toxic home.
All Purpose Spray: Add 10 drops Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lavender, Oregano, Parsley, Pine, and Spearmint, Tea Tree or Thyme essential oils to 2 cups of water, ¼ cup white vinegar and 3 drops liquid castile soap. This spray is a great surface disinfectant. It works great on windows, countertops and floors. My personal favorite is a blend of Parsley, Oregano, Tea Tree and Spearmint.
Dishwashing boost: To add fragrance or to improve the antiseptic action of your liquid soap, add 10 drops of essential oils such as lavender, orange, bergamot or lime to 3 ounces of natural liquid dishwashing soap and shake well.
Hot tub cleaner: To disinfect and fragrance the water in a hot tub, add 3 drops of lavender, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, thyme or grapefruit essential oil per person that uses the tub.
Purchasing high quality essential oils are crucial.
BE INFORMED: “Fragrance oil,” “nature-identical oil” or “perfume oil” isn’t the same as 100 percent pure essential oil. They may be combinations of essential oils and chemicals, or just plain chemicals. Always be sure to label your homemade cleaning supplies and putting the recipe on the bottle is a great way to remember exactly what you did next time you run out!
Last week I walked into a lovely little shop that smelled great. Truly, it smelled heavenly. I wasn't there more than 15 minutes when I began to feel dizzy, light headed, needed to sneeze and had the beginnings of a headache that persisted for more than 2 days. Just being in the same room as one of the synthetic scents sent me into a downward spiral of allergies and that is why I’m writing this today.
Everyone likes walking into a room that smells good. But your nose won’t tell you that fresh smelling fragrance is really harming your health. Today’s modern fragrances are nothing like the essential essences distilled from plants and flowers. People are enamored with fragrance, and while our quest to have an environment that smells lovely continues, few know the dangers associated with synthetic fragrances. There are at least 4000 different chemical used by the fragrance industry today, and many haven’t been tested for safety. A single fragrance can contain between 200-600 separate chemical ingredients. Fragrance sensitivity in the workplace and at home is on the rise. It’s no wonder considering most synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals which give off volatile organic compounds (vocs). These compounds are linked to a myriad of allergic reactions including; eye, nose and throat irritations, headaches, dizziness, nausea, rashes, damage the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. There have been links between synthetic fragrances and auto-immune diseases such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Not to mention it’s one of the leading causes of contact dermatitis when used in body products.
We use no synthetic fragrances in our products because we know how harmful they are for our family, our customers, and our planet. Now we've introduced a few products that will help to freshen our homes naturally. Essential Mists that not only smell great but have beneficial properties from the essential oils in them and are safe enough to use a body or linen spray, Carpet Freshener that is completely natural so we can have peace of mind when our children play on the floor, Wool Dryer Balls that keep the static and wrinkles down while not contaminating the fabric we place on our skin with chemicals. Let’s not persist in “freshening” our environment with chemically produced, synthetic fragrances. There are natural options that are so much better.