Health & Nutrition Blog – Healthy Planet Canada

Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide

One of the most commonly asked questions that I receive is "Where do I find essential oils?" And you know what? It's actually ridiculously easy to find essential oils. They're not as mystical and unknown as we tend to make them out to be. I know, because I was there! I had no idea what they were, how to use them, or where I could find them even if I did want to use them! So I've decided to create a brief beginner's guide to all things essential oils... What Are Essential Oils? Essential oils are botanical extracts made from flowers, herbs, trees, and various other plant materials. These oils, present in all plant matter are extracted either by cold pressing or steam distillation. Have you ever felt that oily residue on your hand after squeezing an orange? That residue is actually full of essential oils from the orange skin! How Can Essential Oils Be Used? Essential oils have been used for thousands of years (as early as the ancient Egyptians) for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. In modern times, their uses have expanded to include everything from air fresheners and massage oils, to skin care and cold remedies. Aromatherapy is also an area of alternative medicine where essential oils play a large role. Personally, I use them in all of my homemade products, like bath and body care, and household cleaners and disinfectants. Essential oils can either be added directly to home and bath products, or they're diluted in a carrier oil (ie: olive, almond, grape seed oil, etc.), and then applying this blend to the skin for absorption. They can also be carefully inhaled for their therapeutic benefits!  Are All Essential Oils Created Equal? Not all essential oils are created equal. To receive the full benefits of essential oils, you must be sure you're using 100% pure, therapeutic grade oils, and not just a fragrance oil, which is artificially created and doesn't contain the same therapeutic benefits. Some trusted brands are: NOW, Aura Cacia, and Organika. There are, of course, other brands available, but whatever you choose, make sure they say 100% pure and therapeutic on the label. Healthy Planet carries a wide selection of essential oils on their website. Are Essential Oils Safe? Absolutely! However, a great deal of precaution must be taken to ensure the proper use of essential oils. Essential oils should never be used "neat" (or undiluted), but instead should be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied to the skin. Some oils are not safe to use during pregnancy, some may cause skin irritations, and some should not be used internally. Special care should be taken when using essential oils on children, and those with chronic health conditions. Essential oils should be kept out of reach of children and pets, and should never be used on or near babies or pets. As always, please consult your health care provider before using essential oils as part of your regimen. Where Can I Buy Essential Oils? This can seem like the hardest part, but it's actually pretty simple. First, you'll want to know which essential oils you need for your specific applications - check out this link for a great list of essential oil therapeutic properties. From there, you can start your collection with just a few of the more common oils, like lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and orange. Essential oils can be found at any local health food store, like Health Planet in Canada. They can also be purchased online at Healthy Planet Online. Have you ever used essential oils before? What are your favorites and how have you used them? Resources: 

Top 10 Uses & Benefits of Raw Honey

When we think of honey, our minds automatically go to that little plastic bear filled with a thick, brown syrup-like substance. But what if I told you that stuff is not even really honey? What if I told you that the honey we grew up eating and learning about is vastly different from the real, pure, raw honey that our ancestors most likely used in their healing teas and tinctures? Raw honey is honey that has not been heated, pasteurized or processed in any way. There's a huge difference between raw and pasteurized honey. Raw honey contains the vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and other natural nutrients that make it such a wonderfully healing food. Pasteurized honey, on the other hand, has been stripped of these beneficial properties through the process of heating, making it just as unhealthy as refined sugar. While pasteurized honey looks clear and syrupy, raw honey is more solid and opaque, and often contains small pieces of beeswax and pollen. We refer to raw honey as "liquid gold" in our home because of its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. It also strengthens the immune system and is a great topical remedy for skin wounds and infections. Raw honey has become a staple in our kitchen. It's so versatile and we use it in so many different applications around the home! Here are my 10 favorite ways to use raw honey around our home: Soothe sore throats and coughs: Honey's antibiotic and antiviral properties make it great for treating sore throats and coughs. It coats the throat and helps reduce irritation. Add a spoonful into a warm cup of lemon tea, or just eat it right off the spoon! Treat cuts, burns and scrapes: Smooth a thick layer of honey over minor cuts and burns, and it acts as an antibiotic ointment to help kill any bacteria, reduce inflammation, and protect the exposed skin from dirt and debris. Spread it on your toast: Because it's thicker than regular, pasteurized honey, I love spreading it on a piece of toast, with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon in the morning. It's a great energy boost to start off your day on the right foot! Replace the processed sugar: Instead of granulated sugar, use raw honey to sweeten things like yogurt, smoothies, and almond milk, or stir a spoonful into your morning cup of coffee or tea. If replacing the sugar called for in a baked recipe, it's better to use just regular, pasteurized (organic, if possible) honey, since it will be heated during baking anyways. Wash your face: Raw honey, softened between your palms, and massaged all over your face, first thing in the morning, on a dry face - try it and you'll love your sparkling, soft skin. It can even help with acne - just apply a small amount to blemishes every night, and you should notice results within a week. Treat allergies: Raw, local honey taken a couple times a day, starting a few month before allergy season has been found to relieve seasonal allergies. It must be local honey, however, since it will contain tiny amounts of pollen from local plants, which will act as a sort of vaccine against the allergens found in that plant. Improve your sleep: Add some honey to a warm glass of milk or tea (or on it's own!) right before bedtime for a better night's rest. Honey helps your body release melatonin into the brain, which promotes a deeper, more restorative sleep. Support good bacteria: Honey contains probiotics that help support the growth and activity of good bacteria in our gut, making it very efficient for digestion. Since it doesn't ferment in the stomach, it's easily absorbed and be used to treat indigestion. Relieve constipation: Make a warm tea by mixing a spoonful of raw honey and a couple spoons of raw apple cider vinegar into warm water, to help naturally relieve constipation. Make an exfoliating sugar scrub: Mix some raw honey with a bit of sugar, and your favorite moisturizing oil, and massage the mixture all over your body, in the shower, for a gentle, exfoliating, all-natural body scrub. A word of caution: Since honey contains natural botulism spores, make sure not to give honey to children under the age of 1 year, as their intestinal tract is not mature enough to inhibit the growth of botulism. You can order good quality raw honey right at the Healthy Planet website! Resources: