Author: Ellie Strand

Disabled/retired with ME/CFS, former nurse practitioner, ad/PR exec, journalist. Enjoy gardening, traditional cooking, ME/CFS advocacy and research.
Tibetan Buddhist

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Eucalyptus Oil Is Perfect For Colds, Flu and Other Uses

Eucalyptus essential oil (EO) smells like the rub Mom used to put on your chest when you had a cold or the flu. It still works wonders.

Did you know that homemade disinfectants, hand sanitizers and mouthwashes made from eucalyptus EO will minimize exposure to the toxic chemicals found in many over-the-counter products? But before I get into how to make these inexpensive, effective household products, let’s review some background.

The eucalyptus tree is native to Australia, where it is the preferred food for Koalas, but is now found around the world. Aboriginal Australians crushed and then soaked eucalyptus leaves to make medicine and used the bark for everything from canoes to bowls.

A eucalyptus tree was brought back from Tasmania to the British Museum in London In 1777 at which time it was given a scientific name. There are more than 500 species of eucalyptus now. However, only a few are used to make the essential oil–Eucalyptus odorata and Eucalyptus globulus. The colorless essential oil is obtained through complex extraction processes that involve either distilling or cold-pressing the eucalyptus leaves.

Six Ways Eucalyptus Oil Works

Eases upper respiratory irritation and congestion

Besides doing battle against microbes, eucalyptus can reduce redness and swelling. Researchers at Zhejiang University in China found that eucalyptus oil hinders the body’s toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) response, a reaction that produces cytokines that lead to irritation and swelling. By limiting these TLR4 reactions, eucalyptus oil may boost your immune system, allowing your body to heal more quickly and efficiently.

Effective against many common cold germs

Eucalyptus oil placed in a petri dish along with various microbes was effective against virus and bacteria species that cause cold sores, fever, acne, and sore throat.  One of the main components of eucalyptus oil, 1,8-cineole, is a natural monoterpene also found in tea tree oil and rosemary–both are potent antivirals and antibacterials. Isolated 1,8-cineole is less effective than the oil itself, which supports a common finding in natural medicines–an entourage effect in which the various components work together to be more effective.

Fights bad breath and tooth decay

Eucalyptus globulus has antibacterial effects against mouth microbes linked to tooth decay and is more effective at preventing the growth of bacterial biofilm than commercial-grade fluoride.  Eucalyptus flavored chewing gum helps with bad breath, also known as halitosis.

Fights ringworm & other skin/nail fungus infections

Brazilian researchers found that the high concentration of the compound 1,8-cineole fights harmful organisms that can infect the skin of humans, cats, and dogs. Eucalyptus oil also naturally repels nail fungus, making a great foot soak.

Soothes dry scalp and nourishes hair

According to research in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, hair products with eucalyptus help improve bounce and elasticity, starting at the roots.  The healing properties of eucalyptus also help with an itchy scalp by boosting the production of ceramides, lipids that help form the skin’s barrier and help skin retain moisture. Reduced flakiness and irritation, as well as improvements in hair gloss and hair fiber properties, were seen regardless of race, age, or gender.

Combats resistant head lice  

Some lice species are resistant to traditional treatments like permethrin-based head lice shampoos. However, recent research published in Phytomedicine found that eucalyptus essential oil is an effective treatment for head lice. There was one reported case of a preschooler who developed seizures after treatment with eucalyptus, so always test a skin patch to rule out an allergic reaction.

Six Thrifty and Effective Ways

To Use Eucalyptus Oil

Inhale for chest and sinus congestion

Add boiling water to a medium size heat-safe bowl and add 5-10 drops each of eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils.

Place a towel over the top of your head and the bowl and inhale the vapors for a few minutes.

You can get a similar effect by placing a few drops of eucalyptus and rosemary oil in your hot shower. The oils will naturally rise with the heat of the water, entering your nose, throat, and lungs for an invigorating lift. If you prefer, replace rosemary with peppermint essential oil.

Make your own vapor rub

Mix 3-5 drops each of eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils with an eighth of a cup of either raw shea butter or organic coconut oil in a small bowl.

Spread on your chest to feel the warmth and breathe in the vapors.

Any leftover rub can be transferred to a clean glass container for safe storage. Use dark glass for optimal shelf life.

BONUS: This mixture also can be used on aching muscles and joints.

hand-repelling-germsHand sanitizer without chemicals or alcohol

Fill three-fourths of a small (4 oz.) spray bottle with distilled water.

Add one tablespoon aloe vera gel, 10 drops each of eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, and clove essential oils, plus 20 drops of either lemon, orange or grapefruit essential oil.

Shake before each use and spray your hands or hard surface two or three times. You may want to test this on an inconspicuous place before using on a table or countertop to avoid possible discoloration.

Effective mouthwash and toothpaste

Mix two drops each of eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils plus two teaspoons baking soda in a medium-sized (8-oz) airtight bottle filled with distilled water.

Shake, then gargle with a mouthful.

Rinse mouth out completely.

You can also brush your teeth with baking soda mixed with a couple of drops of eucalyptus and any other favorite essential oil, such as peppermint or spearmint.

DIY insect repellent

Add 3-5 drops each of lavender, lemon, and eucalyptus oils to 8 oz. of distilled water.

A plastic spray bottle works fine but a dark-colored glass bottle will keep the oils potent longer.

Shake before each use.

Non-toxic air freshener

Mix half a cup of baking soda (or coffee beans) in a small container with a few drops of eucalyptus oil.

Add a few more drops of eucalyptus oil to your mixture when the scent fades.

Cautions When Using Essential Oils

Essential oils are extremely concentrated, and therefore you should always take precautions when using eucalyptus or any essential oil due to their potency and strength. Most essential oils can irritate if placed directly on the skin or hair, so it’s important to dilute them with a carrier oil like almond, jojoba, olive or coconut oil before using. Essential oils should never be used on an open wound. Only food-grade essential oils should be taken internally. Unless your healthcare provider recommends it, avoid using eucalyptus oil with young children.

Eucalyptus oil is an effective and beneficial essential oil that has a long history of use for congestion-related ailments from bronchitis to asthma and for relieving symptoms typical of a cold or flu. It can also be used in everything from hand sanitizers and deodorants to mouthwash and conditioner, thanks to all of its antiseptic, antibacterial, and inflammation-reducing properties.

For these and many other reasons, eucalyptus essential oil should be part of your natural medicine chest.

Have you tried eucalyptus essential oil before? Any uses I haven’t covered or good/bad experiences you care to share with other readers?

F&V-small-store-display

Organic Food Slashes Cancer Risk

A new study of almost 69,000 people finds a significant reduction in the risk of developing cancer among people who eat an organic diet. Lymphomas, the cancers commonly found in people with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome), were reduced by a whopping 76%. The risk reduction is 86% for Non-Hodgkins lymphomas. Overall cancer risk was reduced by 25% when compared to people who never consume organic foods.

The study gathered data from 68, 946 French organic food consumers between 2009 and 2016. Participants reported their consumption frequency of labeled organic foods (never, occasionally, or most of the time). 

The research team hypothesized that lower exposure to pesticide residues on food is the reason for the dramatic decrease in cancer. This is supported with a body of research showing that organic crops have lower levels of pesticide residues, and that eating organic food decreases your exposure to pesticides.

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This is the first study on such a large scale to find such clear support of organic foods. The well-designed study allowed the research team to follow up with the 68,946 participants over several years to see how their food choices impacted cancer risk, while controlling for confounding variables like dietary patterns and other lifestyle factors.

Research-Based Support For Organics

Research linking organic diets with a lower impact on health is becoming more common.

  • One study of just over 35,000 Norwegian women found mothers who ate organic food during pregnancy decreased the risk of certain uro-genital birth defects.
  • Other research on reproduction found that eating fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues was associated with a lower total sperm count and a lower percentage of normal-looking sperm among men presenting to a fertility clinic. 
  • Eating high–pesticide residue fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower probability of clinical pregnancy and live birth in a study done at a fertility clinic associated with a teaching hospital. Compared with women who ate less than one serving/day of non-organic fruits and vegetables, women eating more than two servings/day had an 18% lower probability of pregnancy and a 26% lower probability of live birth.

There is no disputing that cancer is becoming an epidemic in the US. It is diagnosed in new patients over a million times per year and is estimated to kill over 600,000 people in 2018 alone.

It just makes sense to do whatever we can to reduce our risk of cancer. Eating organically is, in my opinion, the hands-down simplest way to do this. But what about you? Is eating organic beyond the limits of your food budget?

Penguins

Serenity For Spoonies #26

This is the next installment of photos I find particularly intriguing and/or relaxing and hope you do, too. If you don’t know what a spoonie is, here’s a short article that explains it.

 

sunrise
Sunrise over a misty lake by Jasper Graetsch.
waterfall
The waterfall almost looks frozen. Photo by Jack Finnigan.

 

Penguins
Penguins! Photo taken by Ian Parker.
sunset

Serenity For Spoonies #25

This is the next installment of photos I find particularly intriguing and/or relaxing and hope you do, too. If you don’t know what a spoonie is, here’s a short article that explains it.

birch forest reflection
A birch forest reflected in a calm lake. Photo credit to Johannes Plenio.

 

seashore
This cold seashore has some intriguing elements. Photo by Joakim Honkasalo.
sunset
Another gorgeous sunset. Photo by Jesse Echevarria.
Tuscan farmhouse

Serenity For Spoonies #24

This is the next installment of photos I find particularly intriguing and/or relaxing. If you don’t know what a spoonie is, here’s a short article that explains it.

 

Tuscan farmhouse
Looks like a Tuscan farmhouse, doesn’t it? Photo credit to Karol Kaczorek.
woods and path
Just on a long walk through the woods… Photo credit to Joshua Fuller.
ocean sunrise
Imagine yourself with a warm beverage watching the sun rise over the ocean. Jonas Jacobsson took this photo.
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People With ME Need Your Help To Stop The CDC Mistake

This is an email I received this morning. Please sign the petition. The information you need to make a decision is below.


Sign this #MEAction petition and stop the CDC from making ME treatment guidelines without our input!

View this email in your browser

Take urgent action to stop the CDC from repeating a terrible mistake.

 We need your help.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is updating its ME treatment guidelines. As part of this work, it is attempting to quietly hire the same independent contractor that previously recommended graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of ME. 

We cannot let history repeat itself: Sign the #MEAction petition to stop the CDC from repeating a terrible mistake.

Then SHARE on social media and with friends and loved ones. We must act quickly and respond by Friday, Aug. 31st. That’s this Friday!

We encourage allies around the world to fight this contract by signing the petition, no matter where you live.

SIGN the petition

Or read on to learn moreThe CDC is attempting to quietly hire the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) for a sole-source contract to help them develop new federal guidelines for ME/CFS treatment.

That may not sound that bad, but there is plenty of reason to be alarmed. This same contractor was hired four years ago to do a similar literature review of the evidence base for ME/CFS treatments by a CDC sister-agency, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It did not go well.

The EPC’s 2014 report included recommendations for graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and concluded that PACE was a good trial with little bias!

Only through the dogged work of many ME advocates and an #MEAction petition did EPC finally issue a reanalysis TWO YEARS LATER

However, they still refused to publish this 2016 addendum in a peer-reviewed journal, making their conclusions effectively invisible to any future developers of treatment guidelines for METhis is not a contractor whose expertise or quality of work the CDC should trust.

We cannot let history repeat itself. We have to stop this right now. The CDC is trying to rush the EPC contract through with minimum time for us to respond.

We only have until August 31 – THIS Friday – to respond.

Sign the petition to demand that the CDC not issue this contract, put the project on hold, and meet with #MEAction immediately to discuss implementing a transparent and collaborative process for creating future guidelines that engages advocates and community representatives, and includes experienced ME researchers and expert practitioners.

We need you to take this urgent action today. EVERYONE can SIGN and SHARE this petition to the CDC, including those living outside the US.Sign the Petition Now!Let‘s make NOISE the CDC can’t ignore.

In Solidarity,
Ben HsuBorger
Community and Campaigns DirectorCopyright © 2018 #MEAction, All rights reserved.