Natural Antibiotic Alternative – Essential Oils

It’s official, I will never be without oregano essential oil in my medicine cabinet.  My body is so messed up lately.  I feel like everything is upside-down.  I was pregnant in the end of October, felt terrible for three months, had a miscarriage and now I just feel weird.  It is times like these when I am so incredibly thankful to have a medicine cabinet full of homeopathy and essential oils.  Whatever I need, I have it on hand.

Let me back the truck up a second.  This story is mainly about my finger.  My pointer finger had been hurting for two weeks and was slowly becoming more and more swollen.  At first I thought I had injured it.  Something in our toilet is broken and the water runs non-stop unless we turn the water supply off on the back of it, which hurt my fingers after doing it 17 times a day.  But I stopped using my swollen finger and it was still getting worse.  This past weekend, the pain was so bad I could not sleep.  I started to wonder if I had an infection, even though there was no discoloration or anything gross looking.

I decided to start taking a supplement blend of essential oils to reinforce my body’s natural defenses.  I had several discussions with my husband about the possibility of my finger falling off, and who wants to deal with that.  Losing a finger, or hearing your spouse talk about losing their finger.  I started taking the oil blend supplement in the morning and at night.  After the second time, my finger was throbbing less.  After the third time, the swelling was retreating from my knuckle and pretty much only the tip was hurting.

Here is what was in the supplement I took:

  • Extra virgin coconut oil
  • Clove flower bud essential oil
  • Lemon rind essential oil
  • Eucalyptus radiata essential oil
  • Rosemary essential oil
  • Cinnamon bark essential oil
  • Oregano essential oil
  • Thyme essential oil
  • Lemongrass essential oil

I will save you all the gross details, but it turns out it was infected.  I don’t know how or why it was infected, which is kind of scary.  And gross.  I accidentally managed to drain it (surprise!) on my third day taking the supplement.  Also gross.  I am so glad I was already flooding my body with oils which provide immune support.  I am going to keep taking it until my finger is back to normal.  Now that I found the source of the problem, I have done things like soaking it in hydrogen peroxide and alternating topical use of this homeopathic gel with Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon, Rosemary & Eucalyptus Oils diluted in coconut oil.  The supplement was what I took when I was unsure what I was dealing with and when I couldn’t get to the source of the infection, which was under my nail and skin.

Excuse the terrible editing, I had to remove the product/ brand name to be able to publish my testimonial.

Excuse the terrible editing, I had to remove the product/ brand name to be able to publish my testimonial.

If I would have gone to a doctor, they would have put me on some extra strength antibiotic which would have further damaged my sensitive digestive system.  This would in turn create more problems for my already wonky hormonal state because important feel-good hormones like serotonin are made in gut.  The gut is very important in all aspects of health.  Protect it at all costs by avoiding chemical drugs the best you can.

Having essential oils on hand is a must.  The supplement I took is designed to boost the immune system in times of stress.  These oils mentioned above are high in thymol, carvacrol and eugenol which have been proven in studies to be “capable of inhibiting or slowing the growth of bacteria, yeasts and moulds.”  (Source)

My finger was the second reason I needed to take this supplement in the last month.  The first was after my D&E procedure following my miscarriage.  Although I was prescribed chemical antibiotics, I again chose not to take them.  In addition to the reasons I explain above, I avoid antibiotics because I understand how much damage they cause to the beneficial bacteria in the human body.  Often times antibiotic use can allow destructive pathogens, such as candida, to overgrow creating additional health problems.  A healthy population of beneficial gut bacteria is crucial for so many aspects of health, including proper immune function, healthy digestion, brain health and even healthy skin.

If I didn’t already have this supplement in my cabinet, I would have had to take the antibiotics to avoid possible infection.  A big part of living toxin-free is preparation.  You need to have a stocked cabinet to be prepared for general illnesses or conditions.

**Please note that in order to protect my freedom to share my personal testimonials, I cannot affiliate with any brand of essential oils.

Surprise Digestive Healer – Throat Coat Tea

Throat coat tea is full of herbs used for healing leaky gut!Having a child with food allergies and related conditions is a never-ending process of effort.  It’s a little frustrating because he can eat something his body doesn’t like and he will have delayed symptoms, hours or even a day later.  It is difficult to peg exactly what caused the upset each time, especially if I have been careful with what I make him to eat.  You can read more about his condition here:

Beginning the Gut Healing Journey,

Beginning an Elimination Diet for Gut Healing,

and most recently Healing the Gut Part 3.

Exciting article titles, I know.  The fact that it’s a trilogy should tell you its good.

As you may know, allergies are often tied to the health of the digestive system, mainly the gut.  My son has gut damage due to overuse of prescription drugs and antibiotics his first two years of life, which is one of the reasons he has fairly severe food and environmental allergies.

Every morning I make my son warm tea with honey to help get his digestion warmed up while I make him breakfast.  I have always thought of tea as supportive of the immune system but never bought any particular tea to help with healing his digestive tract.

The other day, we were in the local grocery store and while I was walking down the tea aisle an old lady was stopped in the middle of the isle, blocking my passage.  She was reading the label on a powdered coffee creamer:  “Lactose free?  If I wanted to be healthy I wouldn’t be buying this crap!”  Because this delightful old lady was blocking my way, I remembered my son was almost out of tea and began looking over the organic options displayed in front of me.  (Why buy organic tea?  Read this article from the Food Babe!)  We frequently buy Traditional Medicinals and so I grabbed a box of the Dandelion Tea and picked up Throat Coat, thinking of my son’s Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) and wondering if it would help.

After reading the label, I was really excited!  The top three herbs included are Licorice Root, Slippery Elm Bark and Marshmallow Root.  These are all used as treatments for leaky gut!  Is anyone else excited?  No?  You see, with myself I have no problem buying the herbs and taking them orally.  For a child, however, I think it is too risky to medicate without a doctor’s guidance, or at least someone who is very familiar with the herbs and the outcomes.  Several times I have almost bought these herbs, but last second decided not to because I am not sure how his little body will handle them.

So yes, I was very excited to find these three herbs in one tea, which I am totally comfortable with giving to my son.

Throat Coat Tea herbal goodies:

Licorice Root – the flavonoids contained in licorice root help decrease inflammation in the digestive system.  It also supports the body’s natural ability to maintain the mucosal lining of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine.  Every time we eat, the mucosal lining is damaged by the passage of food and the body should be able to repair this on its own.  When it cannot, large protein molecules can escape into the bloodstream, causing an autoimmune response.  Maintaining the mucosal lining is crucial for preventing leaky gut.

Slippery Elm Bark – Slipper Elm Bark has been used as an herbal remedy for a very long time and happens to be great for the esophagus and digestive system.  Why?  Well, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It also contains antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory bowel conditions. Slippery elm also causes reflux stimulation of nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract leading to increased mucus secretion. The increased mucus production may protect the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity.

Marshmallow Root – This is another herb which produces mucilage, explained above.  It is great for helping line the digestive tract to prevent proteins from escaping into the bloodstream, for preventing toxins from being absorbed via the digestive system which normally would be excreted, and from preventing further damage to the walls of the digestive system due to inflammation or normal digestive processes.

Because we were already in the habit of having tea every morning, this was a really easy way to get extra TLC (tender lovin’ care) for his esophagus and digestive tract.  I am really excited!

Want an extra plus for digestive health?

I have been adding a small amount of gelatin to my son’s hot tea each morning, about 1 teaspoon.  Gelatin is known for coating the digestive tract, which will prevent damage and allow healing.  It is also a great source of protein for picky eaters!  Try it in your morning coffee or tea.  We use this brand!

This tea is full of herbs used to heal leaky gut!

Sources not linked:

http://www.naturalalternativeremedy.com/nine-health-benefits-of-licorice-root/

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/4-steps-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease?page=2

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-marshmallow.html

This post was shared on Natural Family Friday!

Healing the Gut Part 3 – Allergy Tests and My Weakness Exposed

What to do when doing an elimination diet for allergies with a child.

A lot has happened this month on the allergy front!  We finally decided to take our six year old for the blood work his allergy doctor ordered a few months ago.  I was holding off because I was afraid.  There was a time in the past where a tech could not find his vein and was jabbing a needle inside his arm trying to catch one… I guess they call this fishing.  Anyone who’s job it is to poke a needle into a vein should at least be good enough to actually find the vein.  It’s their job, after all.

So anyway, the day before the 4th of July we went for the blood draw.  It actually went really well and he barely cried, RELIEF!  We were still following the elimination diet, removing the top allergenic foods such as egg whites, gluten, soy, dairy and nuts.  The doctor called about a week later letting me know that in addition to testing allergic to dogs, cashews and mold, he is also allergic to gluten and soy.  We should make sure to always have an EpiPen on hand.

Do you know what happens when you send an EpiPen to Day Camp with your son who thinks he knows better than you when you say not to play with it?

EpiPen safety is taught to our kids, I just wish mine would LISTEN!

The answer is he stabs himself in the hand with it.  Thank god he wasn’t applying much pressure when the needle popped out.  He was barely poked, but definitely scared.  One day, I tell myself…  One day he will listen to me when I talk.

Sometimes I think my sarcasm is the only thing that keeps me sane.

How the elimination diet is going…

We were doing pretty good at avoiding the allergenic foods and cooking at home.  I noticed that eating out in restaurants would impact him negatively – his immediate symptoms are grogginess, inability to listen and communicate, tired and glassy eyes, throat swelling and asthma.  The more we eat out, the more I see these symptoms.

To any person who cooks at home every day, I salute you.  We do not have a dishwasher and cooking and cleaning up three meals a day (sometimes six meals because everyone eats something different)  is so time consuming and exhausting.  If I wasn’t a stay-at-home mom I would have to hire a chef or a maid.  Or Mary Poppins.

For lunches, I have been sending him the same foods I discussed here.  We are sticking to gluten free treats, which cost an arm and a leg but are worth it when my son is bright eyed and communicating throughout the day.  He attends summer camp through the City Park District, which offers a “healthy” lunch three times a week.  Here is what this lunch consists of:  GMO white bread sandwiches with non-organic lunch meat and cheese, a piece of non-organic fruit which few of the kids actually eat and sometimes a salad.  (Because kids eat salad.)  My son eats the lunch I pack before lunchtime and then eats the GMO white bread sandwich, throwing away the free fruit and salad.  Elimination diet fail.  The good part, however, is that even though there are some slip-ups, we are seeing improvements in behavior and overall appearance which suggest his body is doing better than he was before.  In pictures from the recent past, his eyes were droopy, dull and sunken in, but now they are clearer and he looks happy and healthy.  Again, RELIEF.

It is my plan to go strict elimination diet in August when I have full control over his diet.  The important thing in healing the gut is to completely avoid foods which irritate the body, otherwise healing will not take place.  Every time my son eats something he is not supposed to, we are back at square one.  While I am seeing minor improvements which I am super thankful for, true healing of his gut will not take place unless we can completely stick to his diet.

Why am I so terrible at sticking to an elimination diet?

That is the question I keep asking myself.  I talk about what we need to do, I write about what we need to do.  I even start to do what we need to do.  Then the resistance starts.  My son complains.  He won’t feed himself.  I have to hand feed two kids while cooking and cleaning up and doing dishes non-stop.  My son wants a treat.  We are out of gluten free snacks.  There is pizza day at camp.  Wait, it’s ice cream AND pizza day.  I just cooked lunch and cleaned everything up, now its already time to start dinner!?  What the heck an I going to make tonight?!?  AHHH.  Ok, so I think its pretty obvious why sometimes I just say whatever, just this time we will steer off the path.  The problem is those times add up!

On Saturday it was my son’s trophy picnic for completing the t-ball season.  On the way there, my husband needed to stop for a coffee.  (The fireman schedule is not conducive to early mornings.)  Of course, son wants a doughnut, so Dad gives him a little doughnut hole; like the little part stamped out from the center of the big doughnut.  No big deal, I guess.  Then we get to the park.  He gets a free lunch of a crappy hot dog on a crappy bun with some chips.  I’m not liking this, but how can I rip the hot dog out of his hand without being evil?  I ripped off most of the bread but he still got a big dose of preservatives, gluten and who-knows-what else.

Later, we stop by family to hang out for a little.  He eats fancy crackers that look like they are whole grain and I hoped not too bad (from an allergy perspective).  On the way home he starts coughing and trying to clear his throat, so I know his throat is swelling and he is having a reaction.  I felt so guilty for not protecting him because I was too tired to fight him, and now he was suffering and it really was my fault.

I am so terrible at sticking to his diet because I get weak.  I get tired from all the battle and I just give in.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how tired I am.  My son’s health and well being is my responsibility, whether he likes it or not!

Thankfully I put my own whining behind me and decided to work out a solution.  If I can be prepared at all times, then my son will still feel included and I won’t have to be the “bad guy.”  We ordered some coconut flour to make some treats at home, and I found some “healthy” (only meaning not full of corn syrup) fruit snacks at Target, check them out here.  We are still buying these gluten free cookies made by Annie’s which my kids love.  I am going to use his old kindergarten lunch box as a carrying case and take it with us when we go to visit friends or out to events.  The preparation will take a lot of time and most likely border exhausting, but nothing is more exhausting than the whining and fighting if I don’t prepare.

The bottom line is that we are taking on this battle to improve my son’s quality of life.  He has been sick pretty much his whole life and I want to give him a chance at feeling better, while I still have a little control over what he is eating.  With preparation, I can avoid a lot of the resistance and keep us all on track.  A happy healthy boy is my reward and that is the best gift any mother could hope for!

Is your child on an elimination diet?  Please share your tips or tricks in the comments below.  I need them!  😉