The Healing Powers of Plant Essential Oils

Photo Courtesy of Mike Dierken

 

From over-the-counter to across the meadow: One woman’s experiences with self-education and plant-medication

By Sarah Elizabeth Colburn

The good, the bad, and the temporary fix

I grew up taking Advil and Tylenol for my constant headaches, vicks and Sudafed when I had a cold, tums for a tummy ache, and antibiotics when whatever I had caught turned into something more long lasting. My family did the best they could to take care of me the way they knew how to take care of themselves, and I’m truly grateful to them for that. I survived a few bad cases of infection, viruses, and anxiety attacks/fainting spells.

But did I thrive? No, I wouldn’t say that I thrived healthwise as a child, teenager or young adult. In fact, I was always sleeping off or riding out little bugs I would catch or bouts of anxiety or depression that would inevitably crop up. Headaches and stomachaches are two symptoms of disease that were a pretty consistent experience for me since I was very young, and I always seemed to get the same kinds of sicknesses over and over. Knowing what we as a culture know now about the negative effects and harmful ingredients in many over-the-counter and antibiotic drugs (not to mention the fact that they only mask symptoms temporarily and completely rob your gut of its natural probiotic flora), how could I perpetuate this practice? When I began to take responsibility for my own health as an adult, I had to make a change.


New mama steps up

I give you this background of how I grew up and what I experienced to preface my absolute passion and fervent curiosity of plant medicine. In my mid-twenties, I began researching more natural, alternative, and holistic methods of health care and treatment for different things—namely anxiety, digestive issues, acne, and general UNwellness. When I got pregnant, I knew that it was my chance for a new beginning in how I cared for myself and how I would care for the human I was bringing into this world. I visualized a perfectly developed and thriving child who would reach his full health and wellness potential and maintain it throughout his early years and into adulthood. When he was still in my belly, I saw my son as a physically strong, emotionally stable, mentally expansive bundle of joy. This was my dream as a mama-to-be and I knew it was up to me to make it happen.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Elizabeth Colburn 

 

Miscellaneous but necessary changes

After some gradual lifestyle and dietary transitions, I started researching herbs and vitamins and alkaline water. I took reishi mushroom supplements during pregnancy to strengthen my fetus’s immune system. I began to only drink and shower in non-fluoridated water. I began reading the labels on EVERY package of food or bottle of household cleaner I bought, and I realized how many neurotoxins I was introducing into my environment unknowingly on a daily basis. I doubled our grocery bill because I insisted on only feeding our 6-month-old new eater (and us for that matter) organic produce and responsibly-raised meat.


The oils

While all of these changes have made a tremendous impact on my health and the health of my now two-and-a-half-year-old, nothing has empowered me more than starting to use therapeutic grade essential oils as our plant medicine. Essential oils can be used for everything from treating ringworm to beating a cold to calming a hyper child to cleaning the house.


What is an essential oil?

Essential oils are volatile compounds with hundreds of tiny chemical constituents that make up an extremely concentrated liquid. The oils are extracted from the berries, roots, bark, leaves, stems of trees and plants and rinds of fruits. The plants that produce the essential oil need to be grown in a specific region of the world, in a specific climate, and harvested at just the right time to get their optimum therapeutic value. It is also beneficial for the plant, the world, and your family if the plants are ethically and responsibly-grown and made by a company who has the farmers, the oils, and the oil users’ best interests in mind. 

Photo Courtesy of Nina Nelson 

 

How do I use them?

Essential oils can be used in three different ways: aromatically, topically, and internally. When you inhale an essential oil aromatically, your pineal and pituitary gland are stimulated, sending messages of healing, relaxing and calming to every cell in your body. Using oils aromatically is the best way to get the emotional and spiritual benefits of the oils.

Topically, the oils soak into your pores (just like every lotion, soap, makeup or other substance you put on your skin). The difference between essential oils and other cosmetic products is that the chemical constituents of the oils are so small that they soak into your bloodstream quickly and effectively, and there are no synthetic fillers, additives or dangerous chemicals in a certified pure therapeutic grade (CPTG) essential oil (sidenote: not all essential oils are created equally).

I only recommend the use of essential oils internally if you are using CPTG oils and you are aware of the list of oils that are generally recognized as safe to consume internally. When you take a drop of an essential oil under your tongue, in a glass of water or in a veggie capsule, the oil can quickly travel to where it needs to go in your body. Essential oils are living, bioavailable, and extremely effective and powerful.


Living proof

My two-and-a-half-year-old, River, has never been to a sick visit with his pediatrician—only well checks. He got ringworm when he was a year and a half and we treated it with melaleuca (tea tree) and lavender oil. The fungus was gone within three weeks. When he has had a fever, we put a drop of peppermint on the bottoms of his feet and three minutes later, I can literally feel his body temperature drop back to normal. When he has had a cough or congestions, we have diffused Breathe (a respiratory blend made of eucalyptus, peppermint, melaleuca, and other essential oils). When mama is going crazy, I use clary sage to balance my hormones, citrus oils to uplift my mood or lavender and ylang ylang to calm me down. I clean my counters, bathroom and floors with a mixture of lemon and a protective blend called OnGuard (cinnamon, rosemary, clove, wild orange, and eucalyptus). No chemical cleaners in our domain. I use the essential oils to compliment my own personal yoga practice and the yoga classes that I teach.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Elizabeth Colburn 

 

Thriving

I would like to say that River and I are always “thriving” on a daily basis, but of course we have our ups and downs. Like every family, we get sick and we backtrack on our progress, and we recommit to our commitments and restart our resolutions—but we get back up quickly and are constantly learning and growing. Our immune systems are working for us, not against us, because we are feeding them with substances that promote vital health and longevity. We know that we can take our health into our own hands by making healthy choices as to what we put in our environment and in and on our bodies.

So how did I begin using essential oils? I began with buying a Family Physician Kit from a doTerra Wellness Advocate and diving into the vast plethora of research, stories, and information about essential oils that I could find at the library, the bookstore and online!

Visit my website at or email me for more information or a free personal wellness consultation.

Photo Courtesy of Nina Nelson  

 

What are your favorite ways to use essential oils? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter and tag #myphilosophie!  

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Heart of the Week: Waldorf Schools

I love Kai’s Waldorf School so much! We actually moved to our new beautiful home in Culver City last fall from the Valley just so that he could attend. Since Kai was in utero, I've been slightly stalking Waldorf schools. I would go online, research, and dream. The cost for Waldorf schools is typically between $20-30k per year, which is not a real option for our family. I filled out financial aid forms and never turned them in, dreaming on my own, slowly planting the seeds.

When Kai was 5, I went to the local kindergarten near our school in the Valley for a tour and went through all the motions of meeting the teachers, touring the classrooms, etc. I was crying the entire time. The school didn't feel right. Everything inside of me felt like screaming. I knew Kai would be amazing anywhere and survive, but I know he's meant to thrive. I then found out via a close friend about a Waldorf school on the Westside, that is *FREE*. It's a LAUSD public charter school, specializing in WALDORF! I couldn't believe my ears. Adi and I immediately went for a tour and applied, putting our names down for a lottery. That was last February. In June, they called to let us know they were opening a new kinder class and asked if we wanted Kai to be included. I snatched up the spot immediately and cried tears of gratitude.

The school was over an hour and 15 minutes each direction so we moved in the fall. My heart is so complete. With their vibrant gardens and outdoor play area, baskets of wooden toys, and rows of books, they’re incredible at promoting creativity and encouraging active, hands-on learning.

At Waldorf, the kids sing songs, tell stories, do dramatic performances, and memorize fun rhymes and verses! I like that the teachers also pair language arts and music with specific movements, games, and patterns to boost coordination, concentration, and support different types of learners.

They weave math organically throughout the day with fun activities so that the kids learn to love it at an early age and really see its value! Kai and his class play with shells, stones, and beans to learn patterns of organization and also get to design necklaces, finger knit, sew, and count with circle games.

And of course, art is huge at Waldorf. Kai absolutely loves drawing and watercolor painting time! They also offer modeling with BEESWAX. (What other school does that?!)

As I mentioned earlier, gardening and the outdoors is integral to the Waldorf curriculum and serves as a beautiful intro into the science world. As a zero waste school (where EVERYTHING is reusable!), they cultivate an early appreciation for nature and teach the kids that the world is innately good and needs us all to work together to protect and support it. This has helped ME be less wasteful and more mindful of every single thing we use and don't use in our home.

Leo will go there as well in the fall as a T-K student, and the school goes until 8th grade. I feel so content and at peace. When I pick Kai up in the afternoon, he’s always bursting with excitement to tell me what he did that day – I couldn’t ask for more in a school.

If you have any interest in learning more, I encourage you to look into Waldorf-inspired preschools/schools in your area. You'd be surprised how many schools there are (or even after school activities with a similar theme). Please feel free to ask any and all questions – I hope this helps!

I'd love to hear what you do as mamas + papas to give your kiddies the best education possible! Please share with me on Facebook with #MyPhilosophie! 

Green Dream Cauliflower Smoothie Bowl Recipe

I loved how dreamy + nutritious last month's Cacao Magic Cauliflower Smoothie Bowl was, so this week I decided to whip up a Green Dream rendition. I also decided that I wanted this one to be super coconutty, so I added a cup of coconut milk, shredded coconut, AND Coconut Dream–one of our luscious coco butters supercharged with the detoxifying powers of Green Dream

And it did not disappoint! I recommend creating this oh-so-yummy bowl when you're looking for an ultra nutritious breakfast or when you know that you'll be eating out later in the day and want to ensure your bod is super happy + nourished. 

 Gather This:

Do This:

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Top with cacao nibs, hemp seeds, bee pollen, shredded coconut, and sliced berries and bananas! 

What veggies do you like to sneak into your smoothies or smoothie bowls? Let me know on Twitter with #MyPhilosophie!

3 Dreamy Philosophie x Cafe Gratitude Brunch Recipes

Last month, we teamed up with Cafe Gratitude and had the most magical brunch that I’m still in awe over. I’m pretty positive the Acai Berry Bliss Parfaits were made of unicorn poo (aka: Berry Bliss, wild berries, frozen acai, gluten-free granola, and pure love!).

I’ve been going to Cafe Gratitude for 9 years, when the only location was in San Francisco. I would visit my older sister when she lived there and take a public transportation adventure through the city to get there.

When they came to LA, I burst with excitement. I’ve probably been to the Larchmont location 500 times. It’s been a huge part of my world for a decade, and now I’m collaborating with them in the most dreamy of ways!

And now I’d love for you, my ever expanding Philosophie family + community, to try this trio of beautiful brunch superfood recipes created by Cafe Gratitude’s Chef Dreux Eliis.

Acai Berry Bliss Parfait

For the Berry Bliss Coconut Yogurt:

Gather This:

Do This:

Mix together in a bowl.

For the Parfait:

Gather This:

  • 1 teaspoon Berry Bliss Superfood + Protein Blend and 3 goji berries (topping)
  • 2 tablespoons granola
  • 1 RS mixed berries
  • 1 GS acai
  • 1 RS mixed berries
  • 1 GS Berry Bliss Coconut Yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons granola
  • 2 tablespoons Berry Bliss Coconut Yogurt

Do This:

Layer it up, starting from the bottom of the ingredient list and working your way up. Garnish with the Berry Bliss and 3 goji berries.

Green Dream Chopped Salad

Gather This:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup blanched broccolini
  • 2 pieces blackened tempeh, rough chopped
  • 1 RS sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade
  • 1 cup chopped romaine
  • 1 cup chopped massaged kale mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
  • 2 ounces ramekin escabeche, chopped
  • 1 ounce ramekin toasted pistachios, chopped
  • 1/2 ounce Lucky Vinaigrette, mixed with 1 teaspoon Green Dream Superfood + Protein Blend
  • 1 PS cashew mozzarella
  • 1 teaspoon gremolata
  • 1/2 teaspoon Green Dream Superfood + Protein Blend

Do This:

Saute the olive oil, garlic, salt, and broccolini. After heating well, add the tempeh and tapenade. Transfer to a bowl and toss together with the romaine, kale mix, smoked salt, escabeche, pistachios, and vinaigrette. Garnish with the mozzarella and gremolata and dust the plate with the Green Dream.

Cacao Magic Buckwheat Pancakes

Gather This:

  • 4 ounces Cacao Magic Buckwheat Pancake Batter
  • 1 ounce maple syrup, swirled
  • 1/2 ounce maple syrup, on pancake
  • 1 teaspoon bee pollen
  • 1 half banana, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon shredded coconut
  • 1 ounce chocolate sauce

Do This:

Grill the batter on a flat top. Transfer the pancake t’o a plate, add ½ ounce of maple syrup, and then swirl 1 ounce of maple syrup on top. Garnish with the bee pollen, banana, almond butter, coconut, and chocolate sauce in stripes.

I can’t wait to see your gorgeous brunch pics! Please share them with me on Instagram with #MyPhilosophie + #PhilosophieSuperfoods!  

A 10 Minute Yoga Flow to Put A Spring In Your Step

Today is the first day of spring!!!
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There are so many beautiful ways to open and welcome this revitalizing season of transformation + growth. I encourage you all to:
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1) Set spring intentions by asking what you want to bring into this new season. Envision the miracles + magic you want to manifest and invite them to unfold. 
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2) Release old energy and anything that is no longer bringing light, joy, and radiant energy into your life. Spring's a wonderful time to recognize a mindset, habit, or relationships that is no longer serving you and to let it go.
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3) Rejuvenate your body with a 5 or 14 day spring cleanse! We'll help guide you on a gentle, food-based cleanse that detoxifies and energizes your body. 
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4) Put a spring in your step by moving your bod to this easy, energy-boosting 10 minute flow:
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How are you welcoming in the new spring season? Share with us on Twitter with #MyPhilosophie? 

Superfood Shamrock Shake Recipe

Fuel up for your St. Patty's Day shenanigans with this Superfood Shamrock Shake!

A serving of our Green Dream Superfood + Protein Blend, along with a handful of spinach or kale, gives this detoxifying drink its vibrant green color. Then the 'nanas, cashew butter, and Coconut Dream make it plenty filling + SUPERB as a sunrise smoothie!

And what would a shamrock shake be without that fresh minty flavor? We double up on this magical ingredient by adding a drop of peppermint extract (it's powerful stuff) and mint leaves.

Last not but not least, top with coconut flakes and a sprinkling of bee pollen "gold" for you and your favorite little leprechaun friend to enjoy! 

Gather This:

  • 8 ounces canned coconut milk, refrigerated for 30 minutes prior
  • handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1 drop peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Dream Coconut Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Green Dream Superfood + Protein Blend
  • 1 tablespoon cashew butter
  • 1/2 cup spinach or kale
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes for topping
  • 1 teaspoon bee pollen for topping 

Do This:

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Pour into your favorite glass, garnish with coconut flakes and bee pollen! 

Is there shenanigans in your kitchen? Share your #GreenDream creations with us on Instagram with #MyPhilosophie!

Sophie's 6 Dinner Recipes for March

Have you ever heard that funny saying that March comes “in like a lion and out like a lamb”?

Since the weather often stays pretty chilly, I wanted to create plenty of grounding, warming dishes like Smoky Sweet Potato Soup and Roasted Spaghetti Squash and then close out the month with a lighter Quinoa Salad to embrace the Spring Equinox. 

I hope you keep up the home cooking + join me in creating these 6 wholesome, supercharged and super flavorful dinners for March!


Smoky Sweet Potato Soup


Gather This:

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 organic green apple, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 pounds of sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 medium canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cacao Magic Superfood + Protein Blend
  • salt + pepper
  • shaved parmesan (optional)

Do This:

Combine garlic and onion with EVOO and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add in all of the other ingredients and turn the temperature up to high, until it begins to boil. Let it boil for 10 minutes, cover, and then turn to medium-low for another 25 minutes. Once everything is softened, turn off the oven, and add an immersion blender to blend until smooth and creamy! (You can also carefully pour into your regular blender as well if you don't have an emersion) Top with shaved parmesan, if you like!


Roasted Spaghetti Squash


Gather This:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar of your favorite marinara (I love Rao’s!) or Green Dream Pesto
  • ground turkey or meat addition (optional)
  • Spoonful of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt + pepper

Do This:

Slice spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the inside, drizzle EVOO on top, and roast in the oven on 400 degrees for 55 minutes.

Once the squash is soft, use a fork and scrape out the insides and watch as the squash takes on a spaghetti-like texture. Combine with your favorite sauce, add in meat if you are using it, and top with salt and pepper.

 

Cauliflower Steaks


Gather This:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • Your favorite sauce (like our Green Dream Pesto) or chopped herbs
  • spoonful of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt + pepper

Do This:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut off stems and leaves from the cauliflower and slice like you would a piece of bread, in 1-inch sections. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, salt + pepper, and roast for 30 minutes. Add your favorite sauce or chopped herbs.

Black Bean Enchilada Bake


Gather This:

  • 2 bags of Siete Foods Tortilla Chips
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 bag of blackened corn
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • 1 bag of organic spinach
  • ½ of onion, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 can diced green chillies
  • 2 large jars of enchilada sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cacao Magic Superfood + Protein Blend
  • cheese (or vegan cheese) of your choice

Do This:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put some olive oil on the bottom of a large rectangular pan to grease it. Cover the bottom of the pan with the enchilada sauce. Then layer the grain-free (or corn!) Siete Tortilla chips on top of the sauce. Sprinkle chopped onion, corn, tomatoes, spinach, green chiles, black beans, ½ of the jar of salsa, and salt + pepper. Then layer another round of chips, follow with the above items until the ingredients are used up, stacking the layers. It should be about 2 layers! Top with cheese of your choice, sprinkle on the Cacao Magic Superfood + Protein Blend, and bake for 30 minutes. Top with cilantro + avocado to finish!


Prawn, Sun-dried Tomato, and Artichoke Salad


Gather This:

  • ½ pound wild prawns (optional)
  • 1 jar of artichoke hearts
  • 1 package sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 head of organic butter lettuce
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon Green Bee Honey
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt + pepper

Do This:

Grill shrimp for 5 minutes on medium heat. Chop lettuce, onion, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and combine all ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, Green Bee Honey, EVOO, and salt + pepper. Drizzle over the salad and top with grilled shrimp and crumbled feta.


Chicken + Red Apple Quinoa Salad


Gather This:

  • 2 cups of quinoa
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 organic chicken breasts, shredded (optional)
  • 1 chopped red apple
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon Berry Bee Honey
  • salt + pepper

Do This:

Cook quinoa according to package directions. I love cooking it in chicken or veggie broth, instead of water, for added flavor! Shred the chicken breast and chop the apple, walnuts and cranberries. Combine all ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the EVOO with the honey, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with crumbled blue cheese.

 

I'd love to see your supercharged dinners this month! Please share them with me on Instagram with #MyPhilosophie!