Six False Claims About Essential Oils

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As a certified aromatherapist and someone who regularly uses essential oils for my health and household needs, I have pretty much heard it all. Some of it is true and some of it ain’t! After seeing both an increase in good information and also an increase in quackery, I decided to tackle a few of the common false claims that continue to plague essential oil education.

Please note… I love essential oils and God’s gift of plant-based medicine. I love aromatherapy. I love them so much that I even sell them so that I can help provide my clients with the best oils possible. Yes, yes, I know that some of you will instantly disqualify my perspective based on the fact that I make money off of doing what I love and what I’m good at. That criteria will disqualify almost every professional in every field… but I understand the skepticism.

For the rest of you… I hope that I can help you sort through the mountains of information out there and identify some of what is legit and what is downright quackery. I run a Christ-centered business and believe that I will be held accountable for every breach of ethics before the judgment (and mercy) of Jesus Christ. That doesn’t make me perfect… I just want you to know where my head and heart are.

Also, please don’t use my article to go hating on your friends who don’t agree with me. Just make informed choices for yourself and gently share what you know. It doesn’t serve others to blow up their businesses by making them look stupid in front of their friends and family. We all grow and stretch and learn and we do so best with considerate friends. Definitely share my article… and definitely do it with love and consideration.

So let’s just dive in…


6 FALSE CLAIMS ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS


1. ESSENTIAL OILS CAN CORRECT CURVATURE OF THE SPINE

False. Essential oils applied to the spine will not correct scoliosis. I don’t care what your company says, it simply isn’t true. What IS true is that receiving a massage with essential oils will help relax your muscles and consequently, help decompress the spine. It is certainly possible to measure a little bit taller after that! But it is not correct to say that the application of oils alone will add height to your body. I have met aromatherapists who believe this and use pre and post-therapy height measurement to prove the value of the oils.

I can give you 101 reasons why essential oils are beneficial to the body (including the spine) during massage and therapeutic treatments but this is NOT one of them.


2. ESSENTIAL OILS WORK BECAUSE OF THEIR ENERGY FREQUENCY

There is a lot about science that we know and a lot that we don’t know. One of the things that we do know is that the chemistry of essential oils is biologically beneficial to plants, people, and animals. One of things that we don’t know is if or how the energy frequencies of oils impact our biology. There is no standard of measurement for this kind of “energy work” other than how we feel after the application; and to be honest, those results could certainly be from the scientifically measurable chemistry of the oils!

I’m not saying that you can’t believe in frequencies as a healing modality. I’m saying that it falls under the umbrella of belief and not science at this point since what we can know through study and observation doesn’t support the method.

What we have is a lot of people running around talking about the quantum physics of essential oils and the “magic bullet” concept of healing. The reality is that hardly anyone knows what they are talking about in the realm of energy healing. The greatest harm in that (other than that it is wrong to mislead people) is that it takes people further away from a concrete understanding of their own God-designed biological cues and needs.

I imagine we will someday know (not likely this side of heaven) how all the frequencies of the natural and manmade worlds have harmed or healed us. But not all information is accessible to us and it seems that not all is meant to be. Unsupported claims about energy healing with essential oils are not only unnecessary in light of the knowable and highly practical benefits… but they are also misleading many people and proving to be an obstacle to good care. Which leads to the next false claim…


3. ZYTO SCAN CAN SHOW YOU WHICH OILS YOUR BODY NEEDS

There are several popular devices on the market which claim to be able to read a person’s body using things like “quantum theory” and “biophysics” to assess needs. I’m not going to get into the details of the science since that info is available elsewhere and leads down a mega rabbit hole. But there are some points I want to address that impact our health and pocket books directly as consumers and sellers.

First, these scan machines are the ultimate sales tool. For a moderate investment, I can buy one that is specifically designed for my company (essential oils, supplements, etc.), have the customer touch the device, and BAM! All the info is spit out like a prescription.

I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to hear their story. They don’t have to pay attention to their body because Zyto knows! Instead of leading to a better knowledge and stewardship of the body, it becomes the “magic pill.”

The results are not reproducible (because of something called “quantum indeterminacy”) which makes them impossible to study in any scientific fashion. Your reading will be different every time you have it done.

Do the recommendations ever help? Sure they do. Because essential oils are beneficial to the body in many ways, and also because placebo is a legitimate avenue of healing. But as a Christian aromatherapist and someone who sells many products I recommend, I am not in the business of selling the “magic pill” but only in helping others towards a lifestyle of self-directed care and healing.

I have nothing against marketing tools. Every single company uses them as a practical means of getting their information to the public… and can certainly do so ethically. But this is more than a marketing tool. It is a scam.

Quick story:

When I was going through my aromatherapy certification, we spent the majority of the time learning the chemistry and usage of essential oils. At one point however, the class got briefly sidetracked with the introduction of a machine similar to the Zyto. The student who brought it up assured everyone that the $800 investment (plus monthly fees) was worth it because all we had to do was to have a customer place their hand on the device and their needs would instantly be matched to our product.

In fairness to the woman, she absolutely believed that the science was legit and established and she believed she was offering good care to her clients. She was a believing Christian and I do not think that she meant anyone harm.

But I was appalled. Suddenly, everything that we had been studying and discussing meant nothing because of this little magic machine. It was a consolation that the woman sitting next to me turned and said quietly, “I don’t think this is the right direction to go. The goal should be to help our clients to be more familiar with their body cues, not less.”

And I would only add that it would be absolutely immoral for me to ever use this machine in order to make a few bucks because I do believe it to be quackery… but I think most people using it are simply deceived by false marketing and are not bad people.


4. LEMON OIL WILL FRY YOUR ESOPHAGUS AND VITAL ORGANS

There’s a popular aromatherapist online who makes her living convincing people that she knows a lot about essential oil safety. She does know a lot but she also has some areas in which she probably needs a science refresher.

She is opposed to internal use of essential oils and claims that lemon oil will rip up the mucous membranes in the digestive tract. She backs this up by reminding people of what lemon oil does to styrofoam (it eats a hole right through).

This is relatively easy to debunk without being a scientist…

First of all, lemon essential oil is food grade and approved by the FDA for that purpose. It is the same oil that we use when we use lemon zest in a recipe and the same oil that remains on our hands when we cut or peel a lemon. It is the same oil that gets squeezed into our tea and lemon water along with the juice of the lemon slice. It is not fundamentally harmful to your body.

Second, lemon essential oil has a neutral pH which distinguishes it from the acidic juice of a lemon. Once upon a time, I consumed too much lemon juice to ward off pregnancy nausea. It worked, but I also permanently lost some enamel on my teeth. Lemon oil is a fantastic alternative that isn’t corrosive.

Third, the chemistry of lemon oil reacts with the polymers of plastic differently than it does with our body. (This is also true with oils like rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus and others). The styrofoam experiment is pretty cool but does not prove that the oil will do the same thing to the esophagus or stomach lining. It also doesn’t prove the purity of an oil as so many on YouTube claim.

When I was a kid, I used to drop nail polish onto pieces of styrofoam to watch it bore a hole right through. Fortunately, the nail polish did not also put a hole in my nail or skin! Similar principle… it’s a chemical reaction specific to the material. Ironically, it is the d-limonene in the lemon oil which causes the styrofoam reaction AND it is the limonene in all citrus which is nourishing and beneficial to the stomach lining!

There are millions of people in the world currently using lemon oil (and common sense) in their beverages and food without harm. However, since most essential oils on the market have been shown to be fraudulent or contaminated with synthetics, I would only ingest oils from a trusted source.


5. A BAD REACTION TO ESSENTIAL OILS IS JUST DETOX. PUSH THROUGH!

No. As a professional, I would never tell this to someone. I have a personal story related to this and then I’ll move on to a deeper explanation…

The first therapeutic grade essential oils I used were from a large well-known company (the same one that has told people that oils cure scoliosis, by the way) and my first reaction to smelling the oils was a strong histamine response. I assumed that it was just me… that my sensitivity to smells was what caused me to develop a migraine, slight nausea, and runny nose. I still tried to push through and started diffusing. My children hated it and I continued to react. So I closed up the box and put it on the shelf, repeating the experiment 3 more times a few weeks apart, trying to see if I could use them.

Unfortunately not. So I went to the company’s FB groups that I joined as a customer and I told my story. Their reps were quick to answer each time: “It’s detox. Just keep going. Your body is just detoxing because the oils are so awesome.”

As a pretty body-aware individual, I just said no. I took a sniff of the oils. It’s not detox. It’s a reaction. And I’m done.

One year later, I was reintroduced to oils while researching a natural alternative to antibiotics. I purchased oils from a different company and did not have the same reaction. I was absolutely shocked and thrilled that I had zero negative response to the oils.

Now there are a very small number of oils that I do not like and that are clearly not a good fit for my body. My new essential oil mentors told me…

Stop using them.

My subsequent aromatherapy education confirmed that wisdom and I am a strong proponent of diluting and patch-testing. I also know that it is easy enough to simply stop using what doesn’t work. Unfortunately, there are still many people out there who believe that their symptoms are something they just have to push through.

After having experienced many oils in the last few years, my opinion is that the first oils I reacted to were either poorly distilled (allowing allergen proteins through the distillation process) or they were synthetically contaminated. I do not have another explanation as to why I react to the oil of one company but not another, and independent lab testing has since confirmed the latter.

But let’s talk detox a little more…

Certain people and companies push the idea that even the smell of an essential oil can cause a “healing crisis” in the body and cause a “detox” reaction. That’s supposed to be a good thing. What I find more probable is that the reaction is a legitimate sensitivity to the oil chemistry and should be respected. Sometimes a person may simply need a stronger dilution or to use in a less sensitive area of the body; but there is no harm in simply saying “This is not for me today.

I have Lyme Disease and so do know a few things about actual detox. Detox is a major aspect of my recovery since treatment causes what is known of as “die off.” The Lyme bacteria, co-infections, and fungal (mold, candida, etc.) toxicity produce large amounts of toxins as they die during treatment. This is called “herxing” (short for Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction). If this process is not properly navigated, a person can experience varying degrees of illness and in extreme cases, even organ damage. So the detoxification process is important since it is the process of moving those toxins safely out of the body.

I do believe that people can experience die-off when they have underlying infectious issues and are also using anti-microbial oils in heavier doses. The regular daily use of oils that are not targeted for specific disease (such as peppermint for headaches or tea tree for the skin), will work gently against microbes of all kinds in the body because of their chemistry. That is one beautiful aspect of oils! And it is possible that the regular use of an oil (such as oregano) for an ordinary purpose can cause an unanticipated die off. However…

This is not a common response to the normal use of essential oils. And it is not what I would properly call “detox” which is more accurately the elimination of the toxins and not the die off itself.

The elimination of toxins (“detox”) is a process of the body that centers around the kidneys and liver. These organs can be overwhelmed by a toxic overload and the body can experience illness as a result. If you are in a toxic state, you may very well be more sensitive to essential oils and everything else that you come into contact with.

But if you put a drop of essential oil on your skin and develop a rash, it is not likely to be related to “detox” at all. It is probably simply a sensitivity to the oil (diluting will often solve this issue) or to contaminants if you bought from a dishonest company (which is sadly the majority on the market today).

When in doubt… dilute, patch test, and if something makes you sick and it isn’t supposed to… stop using it. Every body is different.


6. YOU CAN’T USE ESSENTIAL OILS SAFELY WITHOUT AN AROMATHERAPIST

Wrong. I invested time and money to earn my certification with a NAHA approved school, and I’m telling you that you don’t need me to learn to use essential oils safely and effectively.

I know… that seems a little like I’m shooting myself in the professional foot, but hear me out. I’m not saying that you won’t benefit from good teachers (and I try to be a good one), but please know that essential oils are safe enough — and you are probably smart enough — to navigate use on your own.

And I’m going to tell you a secret about aromatherapists…

They don’t always agree with each other even on fundamental aspects of their specialty. Surprise! We’re no different than any other specialists including those within the medical profession. As the study of essential oils continues to expand, these knowledge gaps are closing… but differences still remain.

In my certification program, I sat in a room full of wildly different women who would all ultimately leave with their certifications in hand (I assume). Some of them espoused beliefs and practices to which I am strongly opposed, and my approach may have been annoying to them as well.

Some were focused on the bottom line ($$$) and some had a deep seated desire to serve others. Some were ready to change the world with energy flow charts and zyto scans, and others were excited to help people change their lives through biologically consistent plant-based medicine.

Essential oils are ultimately a more user-friendly form of herbology. You don’t need a certification to use plants for healing and household care. You don’t need to be an aromatherapist and you don’t need me. But sometimes it does help to have gentle guidance and someone to point out concerns.

Ultimately, essential oils are a gift from God and I use them safely and happily every single day… and it is one of the greatest joys in my life to help others learn to do so as well! Thanks for entering into the conversation.

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A Catholic Perspective on Essential Oils (A Skeptic Confesses)

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The first time I heard a friend talking about essential oils I confess that I pretty much tuned her out. She might as well have told me that she was using crystals to heal her broken aura while burning sage smudge sticks for the shaman. My head nodded politely but I was probably thinking about dinner... or wallpaper... or something.

My dear cherished friend... I am very sorry.

Up to that point, my experience with "natural" healing came primarily from my familiarity with New Age enthusiasts who made up the majority of the stereotypical alternative medicine crowd that I knew. And when I walked away from that environment to embrace my Catholic faith, I walked away from everything that I associated with them. Take your patchouli incense and yoga and go find your reincarnated Buddha... I want none of it!

I needed that distance at the time. I needed the clarity. But ultimately, I discovered that in multiple respects, I had thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. 

Does that mean that I embrace all of the accessories of the New Age natural healing movement? No...

I'm saying that the natural world belonged to God first... And that I am seeing things rightly ordered for the first time. If something is good, true, and beautiful, it isn't freaky or nutty... It's wholesome and designed to support us in our vocation in the service of God.

Yes, I threw out the crystals, the spiritual yoga, and the Buddha. But there have been a few things that I have reclaimed as a Christ-follower, understanding with a clearer vision that their goodness is a gift. 

One of those gifts is essential oils.

THE SKEPTIC

I am a skeptic. A questioner. I also have baggage that exacerbates that tendency when it comes to the healing arts. So coming to terms with essential oils has been a mountain climb. Here is what finally convinced me...

THE SCIENCE

We know experientially that the natural world provides real solutions to illness and disease. We love the smells of nature and buy the products that feature them. We walk in beautiful places because we instinctively know that it is good for mind, body, and soul. We breathe it in, feel it on our skin, and bring it into our homes. We slather stuff all over our bodies until we smell like walking orchards and flower gardens.

Whole industries have grown out of our desire to be smelly like things that grow from the earth and to heal our bodies with the same. We crave it. We literally salivate over the smell of cookies. We boil cinnamon and cloves to feel festive and happy. 

What we also know is that the data supports our intuition...

Oregano, for example, has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which can be demonstrated in a lab. We know also from clinical studies that frankincense oil has the ability to penetrate the blood/brain barrier and has a supportive impact on cellular health. Orange oil has anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a kind of anti-depressant by stimulating the senses. What we forget, however, is that these benefits aren't restricted to a scientific lab... but available to anyone with access to these potent plant compounds.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Pure essential oils are simply distilled plant compounds; potent, concentrated, and straight from God's creation. Their molecular structure allows them unique access to our bodies at a cellular level. There's nothing freaky, nutty, or unexpected about that. God's intelligence and benevolence is made manifest throughout all of creation. 

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

For those who have followed my journey through sickness and health, you know how seriously I have had to take this discussion. Out of real necessity, I have looked beyond traditional medicine for help and found it through nutrition, movement, and environmental changes. One of those changes has been the use of essential oils. 

Remember... I'm a skeptic. I don't throw plant compounds on my body or into my environment without tons of research and when I use them, I use with care. But I can't deny it...

My body responds to essential oils. 

God is good. He loves us. He provides for us. He gave us amazing, beautiful bodies, the materials of the earth to serve those bodies, and the intelligence to use them. That applies to natural as well as traditional medicine. They both have a place. 

(Even patchouli has a place, by the way. But if you're ever tempted to buy it for me... just... don't. My sensory memory will throw an ugly fit.)

THE CATHOLIC SIDE

The natural world belongs to God. He is master of all creation and just because non-believers use a plant or move their bodies in a non-sacred way, does not make them master over those things.

Catholicism, more than any other religion, recognizes the beautiful integration of mind, body, and soul. We are charged with the care of our bodies and the earth and it is entirely consistent with who we are as Christians to recognize the gifts inherent in the created world. 

The Church herself uses oils. At the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, her bishops bless them for use throughout the year. They fill our sensory memories, carry symbolic significance, and are used as sacramentals. After our babies are baptized, we breathe in the balsam that was touched to them and regret that we ever have to wash it away! Frankincense has long been used in liturgical celebrations and was even given to Our Blessed Lord as an earthly gift, and was considered at the time to be a medicinal treasure.

We do not worship the created over the Creator... but neither can we wholly remove the gift from the Giver. 

INTELLIGENT USE

Essential oils are potent. I would never advise using them without proper knowledge and care. It's not complicated but does take a certain amount of awareness. Like any tool, they can be misused. I dilute my oils so that they are safe enough even for the kids in my family. I research and keep charts on hand to make sure that I'm using each unique oil in the proper way.  

I was probably more surprised than anyone when my interest led me to earn my certification as an aromatherapist. And what I found through that training is what I had already learned through my own experience: that essential oils are an affordable, safe, and effective health care option.

AT THE END OF THE DAY...

... you don't have to use essential oils to be a whole and healthy Catholic person. They are simply another tool in the wellness tool box. Your use or non-use doesn't divide us. Using them doesn't put you in a particular camp of health nuts or crunchy Catholics. Nor does not using them make you less a good steward of your body. But...

It is good to know that there is nothing inconsistent about natural health options and a strong life of faith. God's creation is magnificent. Thanks be to God!


WHY I SHARE

Two reasons... and I'm going to be completely transparent...

  1.  I can't NOT share. Just like with the rest of my health journey, I feel compelled to reach out to others with my story of renewal and healing. It drives me past my shallow concern over what people will think. But I will say it a million times more if it reaches just one person:

    When I was 35, I sincerely thought I was going to be in a wheelchair by the time I was 40. I was that sick. I am now 41 and nowhere near that wheelchair. Doctors couldn't help me. But I changed my diet, my lifestyle, my environment... and God gave me new life with which to serve. 

    I want that for other people. So many are suffering. Maybe someone out there will benefit from my story.
     
  2.  I did a lot of research before choosing a company. And truthfully, I left one popular essential oil company because I was not happy with the integrity of the leadership or the quality of the oils. It was uncomfortable. But my first priority is to my God, my vocation, my family, my health... not to a company or to my friends. Since I have to purchase from somewhere, I still had to find a source... and I did choose one that seemed more in line with my priorities than the others.  I have decided that I can stand behind these essential oils enough to become a Wellness Advocate with doTERRA. That means that I get to bless my family by doing what I would already be doing: Sharing wellness

So many of us are sick, hurting, exhausted, seeking joy amidst the physical struggle, and having a hard time staying afloat. Essential oils are not a magic cure... but they can be another means of supporting our amazing bodies. God is good.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

If you are interested in learning more, just contact me HERE or start at the link below... "Why Essential Oils?" 

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Environment {The Forgotten Pillar of Good Health}

It has become so commonplace to hear about the toxins in our food, air, water, shampoos, etc. that most of us either ignore the warnings for the most part.

We are desensitized, tired and busy.

We all get it. We want to do better. We wince when we recognize known (or probable carcinogens) in our personal care or cleaning products . So we buy a "natural" product, don't love it or can't afford it, and decide the greater of two evils is the present difficulty and not the remote possibility of fatal disease. We care but…

We're surrounded by toxic chemicals anyway. Really... how much control can we have?

I'm going to tell you my story as a way of answering that question. And then I'm going to tell you how I take my healthcare plan another easy step forward...

MY BODY SAID "ENOUGH"

I have already written about the decades of chronic pain and illness that drove me to undertake a dramatic dietary overhaul. It changed my life. Brought me back to life. But in addition to the major systemic symptoms that I experienced for most of my life, I also have sensitivities to other environmental factors as well.

Among those challenges are migraines, asthma, allergies, and contact reactions. Annoying and disruptive! Even before I ever thought about changing my diet, I was already changing my environment just to survive my reactive days.

For the past 20 years, I have been unable to use most commercial lotions, moisturizers, or perfumes. I avoid places like Bath and Body Works like the Bubonic Plague and I admit to having a mini panic attack when I have to sit next to a highly synthetically scented person in a public waiting area. My frequent plea: Please God, get me through this without wheezing , hives, or unsightly grimaces.

I never thought this made me a health freak. It was pure survival. When your face breaks out into painful hives after applying a commercial "natural" product, you learn pretty quickly what ingredients to avoid. For me, it was pretty much everything synthetic. But I never thought about it as a "health" issue... only vanity and annoyance.

When I changed my nutrition habits and became a food label reader, the connection between environment and systemic health began to make sense to me for the first time. Here I was scouring labels like the food detective that I needed to be... just like I had been a product label reader for a decade. And the toxic chemical connection began to click…

My body hates this stuff. All of it.

Beyond that, much of it is known to harm the body... so what I am I doing? Why am I using toxic products that are known to cause cancer AND cross the placenta? During my last pregnancy, I read that tests done on newborn cord blood revealed the presence of over 200 chemicals.

Okay then...

I began to make changes.

MAKING CHANGES

Who doesn't want to be toxin free? No one wants cancer or endocrine disease. Most of us do care but…

1) We don't realize the cumulative negative effect toxic chemicals have on our body's ability to thrive. And...

2) We can't afford it.

I know that some of you are going to say: "Look. We live in a toxic world. We can't escape it. I've got things to do... priorities. I don't have the time or money to be a control freak about this stuff."

I hear you. I hear you. In a culture where corporate marketing drives our consumer habits, living simply with healthy ingredients has become a privilege for the wealthy. Bizarre, isn’t it?

We also live in a culture that is plagued with disease because of our dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle, and fixation on pleasure, convenience, and gluttony. Sometimes, we need to just say... I don't want to buy in. God made me for more.


SOLUTIONS

So what now??

I can't pretend that this topic and it's solution don't involve STUFF... because they do. This is about what we use on a daily basis through choice or necessity. But it is pretty much about stuff. We wear makeup, wash our hair, clean our floors, lotion our legs, apply deodorant, wear perfume, burn candles, spray air freshener.... we shop and consume. A lot.

The sad truth is that just because a bottle in the store says "natural" or "green" and has a leaf on it, doesn't mean that it isn't toxic. FDA regulations only cover so much. We have to be smart consumers.

So what I'm going to do here is share my absolute favorite resources for those of you who are ready to prioritize spending (or who, like me, are forced to prioritize spending for health reasons). There are other resources but these are ones that I spend money on and use daily so I have zero hesitation about recommending.


MY FAVORITE 'CLEAN AND HEALTHY' RECOMMENDATIONS


1. ESSENTIAL OILS

I know... It's a fad. But when undertaken with care, it's a pretty amazing fad that I hope never goes away. Give me your ear for an hour or two and I'll tell you how these little brown bottles have improved my days, weeks, and life. Magic? No. But REALLY good.

There are two primary ways that I use essential oils to improve my environment...

1) I diffuse to improve air quality and to derive essential benefits aromatically, and

2) I use them topically and in my homemade products (bath and body, cleaning, immune support) for real benefits and a gorgeous scent (that doesn't set off my asthma).

Read more here: Getting Started With Essential Oils

2. BUY FROM GOOD COMPANIES 

I love to DIY but sometimes I don't have the time or inclination to play chemist. At those times, trustworthy companies are invaluable. Here are some of my favorites...

DR. BRONNER'S

I use Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap for pretty much everything. It's basic, it's versatile, it's safe. I like to buy the larger sizes and use small amounts to fill scrubbing buckets, all-purpose sprayers, and various other needs like laundry or hand soap. My favorites to use are the almond scent and the unscented soap. The unscented allows me to add essential oils for any extra benefits or scents that I like.

I use their cleaning soap (Sals Suds) when a little more safe cleaning power is needed. I like to add Lemongrass, lemon, melaleuca, or orange essential oils to this soap for household cleaning. Use diluted as a laundry pretreatment or add a teaspoon to a quart of water for most surfaces. Available in 16 oz, 32 ounce or Gallon sizes. A little goes a long way!

3. DO IT YOURSELF {It's not that hard}

Laundry detergent
Make-up
Moisturizer
Cleansers
Air fresheners
Toothpaste
Shampoo
Insect repellent
Sunscreen
You name it... there's a recipe for it! 

If nothing else, everyone (at least once in their lives) should make their own lip balm. It's almost fool proof and so lovely. Use your favorite essential oils (mine are orange, grapefruit, and peppermint) and have the satisfaction of just knowing you did it.

Pinterest is a treasure trove of DIY ideas. You can visit my boards to get started.
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Laudato Si' {And Why You Don't Have to Love It}

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I've finally decided to tackle the divisive topic of Laudato si', the encyclical that many of us want to love but can't. I am not writing to foment division but rather to explain my concerns within the context of a great love for the Holy Father and the Catholic Church. After first reading the document, I was not planning on writing in spite of concerns that I had. At that point, most of the internet world hadn't read it yet and I felt that my points would not be understood in context. (In other words, I was sensitive to the possibility that you all might think I was nutty as a squirrel.) Now that others are finishing the document, community thoughts are steadily splashing onto my screen. I'm seeing a lot of anger and a lot more confusion. It's not necessary that people hear my thoughts, but I would like to join the conversation. My aim is not to be right, but to seek Truth. Onward...

I'm going to work hard at simplicity and thereby hope to avoid misunderstandings. Giving only a basic framework for my thoughts means that many other thoughts will go unwritten. With that, here is a brief overview of my position:

There are points of beauty and Truth in Laudato si' to which I can happily give my assent as a faithful daughter of the Church. There are also elements with which I cannot agree, nor am I required to since they do not fall under the category of "faith and morals" and the teaching authority of the Holy Father. I give him my attention and deference in all things but, at the end of the day, I am obliged to follow my properly formed Catholic conscience.

THE GOOD

The Catholic internet has done a marvelous job of highlighting all that is beautiful and worthy of attention in this document. I don't see a need to restate the core of that, particularly since it is immediately accessible in the document itself. We are obligated to give our assent to the truth concerning spiritual connection between all of creation and God. And what believing Catholic wouldn't? This is not new teaching, but only a reiteration of what the Church (including popes of recent memory) has always taught. In fact, you might say that the need for an environmental encyclical was already met by Pope Benedict XVI (sometimes referred to as "the green pope") in 2009 when he published Caritas in Veritate and in multiple other writings and speeches. Many readers of Laudate si' have the mistaken notion that Pope Francis has done something earth shatteringly new (no pun intended). This is not necessarily the case if we're only looking at the elements that are binding on the faithful. For example...

“The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In doing so, she must defend not only the earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all defend mankind from self-destruction. There is a need for what might be called a human ecology, correctly understood. The deterioration of nature is in fact closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when ‘human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits (#51). 

— Pope Benedict XVI {Caritas in Veritate}

So we know these are not new themes. But there is something new in Pope Francis' encyclical which is causing concern...

THE PROBLEM

The real stumbling block of Laudato si' for me (and for many others) is not the beautiful and good truths contained within but the elements which depart from the deposit of faith and step into dubious scientific and political theories. This is where things can get confusing for faithful Catholics who are not accustomed to finding non-binding and controversial secular elements in a papal encyclical. Our identity is wrapped up in Holy Mother Church and it is a wretched feeling to think we might somehow be at odds with her. Can we disagree with certain assertions contained in an encyclical and still be good Catholics? Yes, we can, but it is certainly an uncomfortable position to be in and we must be extraordinarily careful.

There is an idea making the rounds (perhaps to help people come to terms with that internal conflict) that being made uncomfortable by a work is a proof positive indication that it is of the Holy Spirit. While the Truth is almost certain to make us uncomfortable, it is also true that an intelligent and faithful Catholic can correctly feel "uncomfortable" by ideas which are at odds with Truth and beauty. I'll discuss a couple of these problematic ideas later in the article. 

THE PROPER RESPONSE

Whether or not you agree with all of the Holy Father's views in Laudate si', the fact is that good Catholics are finding themselves with a problem of conscience. The simple (but not simplistic) solution to this problem was summed up well by my friend Michael Hichborn, who has researched this document (and it's context) thoroughly. He wrote:

“The pope said in the encyclical that Catholics are not bound by the highly contentious science regarding global warming. Unfortunately, he built most of the encyclical around this non-binding principle, which means that all that follows from it is likewise not binding. What he said regarding faith and morals and the spiritual connections between man, nature and God are those matters to which we must give assent. But once he put in a caveat not binding us to a first principle, all those matters flowing from the non-binding principle are likewise non-binding.”

So we are free to disagree on those matters. But what's the big deal? Why would anyone want to disagree with anything in a papal encyclical? 

ABORTION, GLOBAL POLITICS, SHADY SCIENCE

I knew going into the encyclical that the Pope would touch on abortion and that he would say good things. What I hadn't heard from anyone was that he would also repeatedly and positively refer to international environmental efforts and organizations which are anti-life, anti-family, anti-Christian, and pro-abortion to the core. My pro-life sensibilities went into shock as I tried to reconcile a papal encyclical with what I saw as outright scandal. I cannot adequately address here the depth of moral decay within the organizations that the Pope mentioned with such enthusiasm. I will instead leave you with a couple names and brief comments. Please, research these on your own... 

1992 Earth Summit in Rio - Hosted by the UN (United Nations), the "Planned Parenthood" of the international community. Whatever it's laudable origins or periodic good works, it is now taking the lead in the promotion of population control, anti-family, anti-freedom efforts around the globe. Consider that the UN has formally cooperated with China's forced one-child policy and you will have some idea of how distressing this connection is. 

The Earth Charter - There's family planning language right in the document. It doesn't say "kill all the babies" but "family planning" to these secular entities does not mean NFP... it means contraception, abortion, sex education, and often even encouragement of deviant lifestyle. 

 Those are just two examples. Let's keep going...

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GLOBAL AUTHORITY

The encyclical is overflowing with language promoting global authority equipped with the power to enforce laws and penalize countries. In an ideal Christ-centered world, this could be a productive pursuit. However, a governing world body based on Christian principles is a practical impossibility at this historical juncture and we are left instead with the Holy Father's rather alarming suggestions for positive long term global guidance. In a papal encyclical of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, we are giving a glowing account of...

The Basel Convention (U.N.)
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio (U.N.)
The Earth Charter
The Stockholm Declaration (U.N.)
The Vienna Convention (U.N.)
The Montreal Protocol (U.N.)
The Conference of the United Nations on Sustainable Development, "Rio+20" (2012)

All of these agreements have fatal flaws and, without a doubt, would be used by corrupt political entities to inflict great harm upon innocent people. Why is that important to know? As faithful Catholics, we need to know that we are not bound to the Pope's opinions on these matters, even if he writes it in an encyclical. And we are NOT morally obligated to work with corrupt global organizations in order to be good stewards of the natural world.

Pope Francis takes a strong stand for cooperation with global authority regarding environmental concerns. In fact, in a recent speech to international NGO's, he said that the environmental protection issue is "perhaps the most important facing us today." More HERE. I strongly (but respectfully) disagree that these specific efforts bring us closer to a sustainable, life-giving, God-honoring worldview and solution. On the contrary, direct evidence shows that they would purposefully lead us in the opposite direction. Working with the U.N. to build a Christian worldview is like working with Planned Parenthood to stop abortion. They will ultimately only use and abuse your good will in the service of evil.

SHADY SCIENCE & SCANDAL

Of all the sections of this post, this is the one I am most loathe to tap out. It is larger than a blog post and it is disturbing because it highlights the reality of crisis at all levels in the Church. We know corruption and human error plague us. Pope Benedict strongly referred to it. Pope Francis has also referred to it. But how are we to respond to that reality? That is the question that has been occupying me since I read the encyclical and was the reason I finally decided to hit "publish" on this post. What are we supposed to do when ecclesial authority uses the holy office to promote fallible (and erroneous) opinion?

As you read the following details, please continue to keep in mind that we are not obligated to give assent to the elements of the encyclical that are non-binding and violate our properly-formed consciences. We do not have to cooperate with evil people or their organizations. We don't have to conform ourselves to the Holy Father's political leanings or those of his advisors or collaborators. We are followers of Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church and not the shenanigans of men. The following details are individual pieces that apply to the larger context but are important enough to include here because they all have bearing either on the creation or implementation of the goals of Laudato si'.

COLLABORATORS

Although the encyclical is a product of Pope Francis' study and opinions, the document itself was the result of a much larger collaborative effort. There were many who were invited to prepare the way for, help write, and also to promote the encyclical. Within that context, there have appeared some alarming names...

Cardinal Peter Turkson and a team of advisors wrote the first draft of the encyclical.  The Cardinal has been a high ranking Vatican official for a long time (predating Francis) and his views favoring a U.N. collaboration and a one world banking and environmental system are well known.

The team of experts consulted also included Hans Joachim Schnellhuber, the founder and head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change, and staunch advocate of a one world government. His presence has caused some alarm among good people. Learn more about him HEREHEREHERE

In September of 2015, Pope Francis hosted a Vatican summit on climate change in Rome. All things being, well, Catholic, this should not have been a problem. But there were some disconcerting elements. Among those elements were hosts, presenters, and attendees whose life work lies in direct contradiction to the Catholic faith. For example...

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was invited to lead the summit. In other words, the leader of the one of the most aggressive population-control, anti-family, anti-Christian organizations in the world was invited to lead a Vatican summit on pressing moral issues. The U.N. announced it's support of Laudato si' in 2014, well before most Catholics were aware that it would be written. This knowledge has caused significant concern among pro-life and pro-family activists.

Then there's Jeffrey Sachs who moderated and co-hosted the event. He is an outspoken proponent of legalized abortion to control population. (more here

Naomi Klein is another scandalous addition. She is an anti-capitalist/environmental activist who wrote: "For these right-wingers, opposition to climate change has become as central to their belief system as low taxes, gun ownership and opposition to abortion." There's abortion again. 

I'm providing a snapshot here, not a complete story. My awareness of many of these things comes, not because I am some kind of Vatican watchdog, but because I am a pro-life Catholic who has a Gospel mandate to build a culture of life.  Within my vocation, I have been able to keep up a little with the 'who's who' among the enemies of life; hoping to recognize them when they try to posture as sheep in my community and country. I am not foolish enough to believe that they are actually in the Church as united family; they have simply walked through the open door and are preparing to dismantle it like the Trojan horse guests that they are. To recognize their mission and to own a blog and stay quiet feels irresponsible.  The Holy Father wishes to publicly collaborate with such people on projects of such magnitude, and I believe I am obliged to publicly question these decisions.

FORMAL AND MATERIAL COOPERATION

At the risk of stepping into a theological rabbit hole, I must touch on the important distinction between formal and material cooperation with evil; because support of the global Sustainable Development Goals mentioned in Laudato si' and encouraged by the Vatican, appears to at least be flirting with material cooperation, if not fully engaged. (If you are not familiar with the theological distinction in cooperation with evil, you can brush up HERE.)

This can easily turn into a complex discussion but I'll break it down (for my own benefit as well as yours)...

The Vatican fully supports the global environmental objectives of the U.N. which DO include population control initiatives (i.e. contraception and abortion). Don't believe me? Read more HERE

Work that moral equation out for yourselves but remember: These are papal opinions and assertions that are non-binding on the faithful. But in order to justify material cooperation with those who promote intrinsically evil acts, there needs to be a proportionally grave reason. The reason we are given in Laudato si' is the highly controversial idea of man-made climate change. Personally, I think that anthropogenic climate change is junk science. Regardless of whether I am right or wrong about this, nobody is bound to believe or support such speculative scientific theories.

As Catholics, we are already taught to be good stewards, to be honest and generous and self-giving; we are taught to look upon God's creation with reverence and act accordingly; we know that it is wrong to destroy healthy environments and to abuse technology to the detriment of community, family, and personal dignity. We know all this. 

I encourage you to click on the links throughout this post and to do your own research, but I have to warn you... You will find a lot of what looks like scandal. To do in depth research into the weakness and wickedness of mankind we must also go armed heavily with prayer, Scripture, spiritual reading, and foundational teachings of the Church. If we know who we are in the Body of Christ and know the promises at our Lord makes to His Church, we will not be depressed by revelations of difficulty, but strengthened by Hope and grace.  

I love Pope Francis and I always will. I am his spiritual daughter and I take joy in his holy office as Father and shepherd. But in the tradition of he Church, I am also his spiritual mother and am charged with the care of his soul. I accept his authority and at the same time, exhort him to separate himself from association with those who seek to destroy the Church. Walking with and smelling like the sheep does not also mean allowing the wolves to invade the fold.