Can I Use Essential Oils to Ward Off Cold and Flu Germs?

essential oils fight germs

Flu Season Is Upon Us

As I write this, flu season has just begun. Doctors are recommending that you get your flu shot as soon as possible, but some people (myself included) are nervous about the other ingredients that go into the flu shot besides the flu vaccine itself.

Have you ever wondered if there was a natural way to fight off the flu and other viruses? Maybe you’ve heard or read about how essential oils can improve your health.  But can essential oils really provide a way for you to protect yourself and your family from the cold and flu?

Essential Oils Provide a Natural Alternative to Traditional Flu Vaccines

The short answer? Yes.

Now, for the longer answer: Essential oils have powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

While some oils might have more of a germ-killing reputation than others, almost all essential oils contain powerful antioxidants that heal the body while warding off nasty things like mold, bacteria, and viruses.

essential oils

 

Which Essential Oils Are Best?

As noted above, certain essential oils are better than others when it comes to fighting germs.

Some of the best are:

  • Lemon oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Clove oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Cinnamon leaf oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Oregano oil

Using combinations of the abovementioned oils, you can make up your own essential oil blends for personal use to protect yourself all year long.

How Do I Use the Essential Oils?

Essential oils are typically either ingested, topically administered, or diffused into the air.

In the above list, some oils are perfectly safe to ingest (as long as you are buying high-quality, food grade oils). These include rosemary, lemon, thyme, and oregano. In fact, this is the best way to use these oils. They are also safe to use on your skin as long as you mix them with a carrier oil, like coconut oil. (You can also ingest them this way – virgin coconut oil is very good for the body, as well).

You can use eucalyptus on your skin sparingly (and you can also gargle with it), but you need to make sure you have diluted it in a carrier oil before trying either method. Just to stay on the safe side, I like to diffuse my eucalyptus oil.

Clove and cinnamon are really hot oils that should not be ingested, and they should only be used on the skin in a very, very diluted form. Even then, you should use extreme caution. I made a homemade perfume once  that had clove oil in it, and the skin on my neck broke out minutes after I put it on for the first time. It didn’t bother my wrists, though. I think my neck is just really, really sensitive. Still, skin irritation is definitely something to watch for with these oils. For safety’s sake, it’s probably much better to use these oils in a diffuser only.

can you put essential oils on your skin

Where Should I Get Essential Oils?

As I mentioned before, quality is important when it comes to selecting essential oils, especially if you’re trying to use these oils to keep yourself healthy.

Some of the best oils on the market today come from the direct sales companies DoTERRA and Young Living. These oils can come with a hefty price, but they’re totally worth it. You get what you pay for, and this statement is even truer when you’re talking about essential oils.

Check out those two companies and see what they have to offer. You might just find that their oils are more affordable than you first thought.

But if you still can’t find a way to fit those into your budget, there are some other pretty acceptable alternatives, like my favorite online shopping club, Plant Therapy, and even Country Scents.

I buy my essential oils from a number of different sources. Sometimes I’ll prefer one company’s scent over another (you wouldn’t think lemon oil would smell different from one manufacturer to another, but it does). Or sometimes I’ll prefer the way a certain company’s oil reacts to my body over another’s. For sinus-clearing power, DoTERRA and Young Living can’t be beat. Honestly. This is one issue I face daily, and so I’ve learned that the quality of these oils over others is worth every bit of the price tag – and then some.

I’ve found that the best thing to do when it comes to selecting the essential oils you want to use on a daily basis is to try a variety of oils from a variety of different companies to find your favorites – and you WILL find your favorites.

It’s well worth the time and effort you will put into experimenting with essential oils, and it can even be fun!

But what’s most important is it’s absolutely one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. Don’t wait. Go buy some essential oils today!

Read This Before Subscribing to Butcher Box!!!

butcher box review

As part of my recent lifestyle change, I decided to look into some healthier meat options. I’m eating more of it now than I ever have in my life, so I want to make sure I’m getting the best quality meat possible.

On the face of it, that’s what Butcher Box, a monthly subscription service to the tune of $129 for 24 meals’ worth of meat, whether you choose a mixture like I did or whether you get all beef, chicken, or pork, offers. You can also choose a 30-day or 60-day period for your recurring payment and the arrival of your next box.

There are plenty of coupons and offers available online. I took advantage of some (plus the 1000 Swagbucks offer for signing up) and decided to plunge into the world of boxed meat with Butcher Box.

The Promise

“Convenience” – perfectly portioned and packaged meat delivered right to your door.

“Quality” – 100% Grass-fed & Grass-finished Beef, Heritage Breed Pork, and Free-range Organic Chicken

“Value” – less than $6 per meal, plus free shipping

How the Butcher Box Service Holds Up to the Promise

Convenience

From my experience, the only convenience Butcher Box truly cares about is their own.

I ordered my first box on September 30. On October 2, I received an email saying that my box was on the way, and they sent me the FedEx tracking information. The box was supposed to have been delivered yesterday, October 4, 2018, by the end of the day.

On Wednesday, I checked the tracking information just to see where the box was, and there was a notice that the package would not be delivered because it was damaged.

I was understandably disappointed. I’d been planning my meals for the week around that high-quality, healthy meat that was supposed to be coming in the mail, and then I suddenly discovered there was no meat and no meals for the week (and I’d already paid my $120+ – that’s more than my weekly grocery budget).

So, I reached out to customer service to see what the company could do to make things right for me, a brand new customer. I’m copying and pasting the exact emails so I can give you a really clear picture of what I found myself facing (in addition to the non-receipt of the box I’d already paid for).

Here’s the first message I sent:

I was checking on the status on my order that was supposed to be delivered by tomorrow evening, and I found this… “unable to deliver because of damaged package.”
We are quite disappointed and upset because this is our first experience with the Butcher Box and we found out that we will not even be receiving it. We’re wondering how you intend to make this right. Please let us know as soon as possible.
Thank you.
Mishael Witty

 

I immediately got the canned reply:

Hi Mishael.

Thank’s for choosing ButcherBox!

We’ve received your message and one of our member experience specialists will be following up with you shortly.

In the meantime, feel free to check out the following resources:
Frequently Asked Questions: https://support.butcherbox.com/hc/en-us
Blog: https://www.butcherbox.com/roam/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_KPWEoWBRsUnlJE_jRx7WA
Recipes: https://www.butcherbox.com/recipes/

If you found the answers you were looking for in the linked resources, simply reply got it and we’ll close out your request.

Have a great day ahead!

Sincerely,

ButcherBox Member Support

Thirteen hours later, I got this reply from an actual customer service representative:

Hi Mishael,

Thanks for reaching out. I’m so sorry you have experienced an issue with your ButcherBox delivery. I do see from your tracking that this order has been damaged in transit and will not be delivered. Usually the when the carrier damages the order, they contact us so that we are able to set up a replacement right away. I am truly sorry we were not notified about this order. I would love to make this right for you by setting up a replacement for next week. Please let me know if you will be available and I will get that set up for you.

All the best,

Pam
Customer Support Specialist

So, basically what they were offering me to make the situation right was – THE BOX I’D ALREADY PAID FOR AND NEVER RECEIVED.

I was … irritated, to say the least. My next message was not very cordial:

Okay, so you’re offering me the minimum in customer service. That would be okay, and that would be the least I would expect (either a new box or a full refund). I paid for a box; I should receive a box. I understand that this was something that happened on the shipping side, but I don’t think I should be penalized for it. And I really feel that I am being penalized, since I’m suffering a shipping delay and not being offered any sort of compensation. I will wait for the new box to arrive before cancelling my subscription (assuming the next one makes it here eventually).

Thank you.
Mishael Witty
This was their ever-so-caring reply:

Hi Mishael,

I do apologize that you are unhappy with the resolution. We aren’t compensated by the carrier in any way other than a small shipping fee reimbursement. When a carrier damages a package, standard practice with most companies is to have the customer file a claim and seek reimbursement from the carrier as once it leaves the warehouse in the intended condition, the carrier is actually liable and not the company itself. We believe the right thing to do despite this is replacing the shipment free of charge. We would rather take the loss financially than require our members to complete the tedious and usually unapproved process of filing a claim with the carrier. Our policy is to replace (or refund if preferred) anything that is damaged in transit on the carrier level, which I’ve already taken care of for you. Your replacement order number is SUB_744006. Once this order is in transit you will receive tracking information via email.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there is anything else I can help you with.

All the best,

Pam
Customer Support Specialist

A few things irked me about this reply:

  1. “We aren’t compensated in any way…” –  boo hoo, sob, sob … poor company. Really?
  2. “Standard practice with most companies is to have the customer file a complaint…” – um, not most companies I’ve ever dealt with. EVER. Most companies I’ve dealt with know how to correctly package their products so they don’t get ruined, and/or they bend over backwards to make sure the customer is happy, regardless of what that does to their bottom line.
  3. “We’re replacing this shipment free of charge…” – wow, don’t do me any favors. You didn’t charge me a shipping fee to begin with (as stated on their website). Why would you charge me a shipping fee for a box that is a replacement for a box I PAID FOR AND NEVER RECEIVED?

So, here’s my reply (as you might have noticed, my responses get less and less cordial as we go on, because I get more and more irritated):

You mean you would actually consider charging me a shipping fee for something I should’ve received and didn’t? I know you’re not, but that seems to be the standard practice for you guys, according to your response.

And how do I know that the carrier damaged the box and it wasn’t damaged before it was shipped? There’s no indication of when the damage occurred. I know you say the box left your facility  in the intended condition, but I only have your word on that. And, seeing that this is my first experience with your company, I have no way of knowing how honest you’re being with me.

I’ll wait a week to see if the box arrives, and then I’ll be cancelling my subscription and possibly asking for a refund if the box does not get delivered. This service really seems like more trouble than it’s worth.

At this point, apparently Pam felt that she was done with me. The next message I received was from Heather, a quality and development manager.

Pam asked me to take a look at your email thread. When the box left our fulfilment center in Deleware it was intact and without damage, it wouldn’t have passed through our system checks if there was any damage to the shipping container prior to being loaded onto the FedEx vehicle. Your box shipped from our fulfilment center in Deleware, to the access point in Ohio, to Kentucky where the damage to the box is noted on the tracking. The box was damaged at some point when it was received in Ohio or in transit to the Kentucky access point. When the box was unloaded or prior to the box being placed onto the actual delivery verhicle they noted the meat had thawed making the shipement undeliverable and destroyed as damaged. In either scenario, the box was damaged in transit and therefore technically the responsibily would lie with FedEx to compensate for the damages via a claim submitted by the recipient. This process is tedious and time consuming and we would rather assume the responsibility for the damage and replace the shipment for our member free of charge, absorbing the cost of the reship, which is and always has been our policy. While transit damages are rare (less than 1% monthly), they do occcur and we’re always happy to do the right thing and replace the shipment or if preferred, process a refund for the shipment instead.

Your replacement order ID is 744006. Since this is a replacement/reship of a damaged delivery, it should go out this week for delivery no later than Saturday end of day. All reships are given prioroty and upgraded when nexessary to ensure delivery same week when at all possible.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

Aside from Heather’s inability to spell “Delaware” (and other things) correctly, I found this response to be annoying (although it did give me more information about the nature of the damage to the package – thawed meat … YIKES!) because it was basically the same response Pam had already given me. “It’s not our fault; it’s the carrier’s fault. And we’re doing you a favor by not making you file a claim with them or having to pay a shipping fee for the replacement box.”

Right… it’s FedEx’s fault that you didn’t package the meat so that it wouldn’t thaw out before delivery. Uh huh.

So, my response was:

I’m not an idiot. I understood all that information when Pam shared it with me before. I’m not sure why she referred you to me to harass me further when all I want to do is get the one box I paid for (or get a refund if the next box is going to thaw in transit) and get rid of this subscription.

Sincerely,
Mishael Witty
Here was her reply to that:

Sorry Mishael,

It did appear that you were under the impression we would charge someone for shipping a replacement and that we would ship a damaged box, both of which are untrue. Pam was looking out in your best interest and wanted to have a manager reach out directly to assure you that we’ve taken ownership of the damage caused, the box being undeliverable, and issued a replacement that has been prioritized to be delivered this week which does include expedition due to the transit time to your zip code. Two-day ground orders put in after Wednesday ship on Monday and we wanted to be sure that you weren’t waiting an extra week. Pam and I will monitor the shipment and make sure there aren’t any issues.

Have a wonderful week remaining and an even better weekend.

Sincerely,

Heather
Quality & Development Manager

“You were under the impression…”

Now, gee, why would I be under that impression?

They make it seem like they’re doing me a favor by shipping me a replacement box (that I’ve basically already paid for) for free. And their box of meat (that they packaged themselves) thawed out within two days. Obviously, SOMETHING about their packaging is faulty. And they want to blame it all ON MY ZIP CODE.

Um, gee. Victim mentality, much? They say they’re “taking ownership,” but their responses via email belies that just a bit.

(By the way, I quit responding at this point because I knew I was going to keep getting the same kind of answers … and that they didn’t care a thing about me or keeping me as a customer).

So, Butcher Box’s customer convenience? Yeah, that’s a joke!

QUALITY

Obviously, I can’t speak to the quality of the meat because I haven’t received it yet.

BUT:

  1. If their meat quality in any way resembles the quality of their customer service,  I’ve just wasted $120+. 🙁
  2. They certainly don’t seem to care that they’re wasting the lives of countless animals – cows, chickens, AND pigs. All that meat they packaged for me ruined in transit, so it’s (hopefully) going in the garbage. I hope they don’t try to resend it to me or another customer. That’s just BEYOND wasteful and/or dangerous!

VALUE

Again, I can’t speak specifically to the value of the meat received because I have not received it. I’m hoping to make it go a bit further so that it ends up costing me better than less than $6 per meal.

We shall see if/when the replacement box gets here, although now I’m a little afraid to even try it.

The Final Verdict on the Butcher Box Service

As soon as that box comes in the mail, or the end of this week comes, whichever comes first, I am cancelling my Butcher Box subscription. I can’t wait!

I never anticipated inconvenience of this magnitude or customer service that was so poor.

I’m done, and apparently I’m not the only one, judging by all the poor reviews it’s gotten on the Better Business Bureau website and other sites.  I wish I’d read all these BEFORE I threw all that money away, but I was drawn in by the empty promises.

Don’t be like me. Save your money, your time, and your sanity! Avoid Butcher Box at all costs!

The funny(sad) thing is, I really wanted to love Butcher Box. I have an affiliate link, so I was going to try to promote it on my blog and maybe make some money off of it. But now I can’t do that and feel good about it. I won’t promote a company that gives their customers such a horrific experience.

If you want my affiliate link, send me a message or comment, and I’ll give it to you. You can get a free box of ground beef in every box for life…assuming the boxes get to you. But I’m not going to post the link here. That service doesn’t even deserve the backlink love, in my opinion.

What Now?

There are other companies that offer a comparable service, although most of them are a lot more expensive than Butcher Box.

One thing I’m looking into now is the meat boxes offered by Thrive Market (yes, that’s an affiliate link). They’re just a bit more expensive than Butcher Box, but Thrive Market’s customer service is a lot better, in my experience. To me, that totally makes it worth it!

I’ll report back at some point and let you know what I think about the Thrive Market boxes.

So, tell me. Have you tried Butcher Box? Love it/hate it? What about the Thrive Market boxes? What do you think about them? Is there something similar out there that you love, and I’m missing?

Talk back to me in the comments.

Four Foods That Lower Your Blood Pressure

foods that lower your blood pressure

High blood pressure is a serious and widespread problem for billions of people around the world. One in five women suffers from it, while slightly more men (one in four) will be diagnosed with it at some point in their lives. About one in eight people will die from it, and it is the main risk factor for heart and kidney disease in addition to playing a major role in the risk of stroke. 

Given the seriousness of the disease, it is important to deal with thoroughly and swiftly. The traditional Western way is to prescribe medication to lower blood pressure, and this treatment method is not without its complications – like stroke, one of the very things you are trying to prevent by lowering your blood pressure. Fortunately, most people are able to control their high blood pressure fairly well through making a few simple lifestyle changes.

Diet, for example, can play a hefty role in improving quality of life for those suffering from high blood pressure – and everyone, in general. An advantage of using diet to modify blood pressure is that foods typically do not cause side effects such as those that commonly appear with the use of medication. The following article will discuss a few of the foods you can add to your diet that may lower your blood pressure naturally.

oatmeal high blood pressure

Oatmeal

Oatmeal has been a staple food all over the world for thousands of years. As a main ingredient in classic foods including granola and porridge (otherwise known as a hot bowl of oatmeal with milk), it is filling, low in sodium and extremely high in fiber. This complex carbohydrate encourages a slower digestive process, which is better for the body.

Many studies have shown that the beta glucans found in the kernels of oats are known to lower cholesterol and blood glucose, which has beneficial effects on blood pressure. And if you add a handful of blueberries to your hot cereal, as the above picture shows, you’re going to be adding even more heart healthy benefits to your diet!

bananas high blood pressure

Bananas

Bananas are well known for their high potassium content. This is a really versatile fruit that can be eaten in a variety of ways. You can cut it up and put it on top of your oatmeal, you can blend it into a smoothie, or you can simply peel and eat it. That’s personally my favorite way to eat bananas because you can stick the whole fruit in your purse and have a ready-made healthy snack at any time of the day.

Potassium is absorbed by the body much more efficiently through ingestion of foods than it is through supplements, so try adding bananas into your daily diet by including them in healthy desserts and snacks.

fish oil high blood pressure

Fish Oil

As always, health through food is about balance. Typical Western diets contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, but low levels of omega-3 fatty acids (mostly found in fish). That’s why it’s recommended for almost everyone to take an omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplement every day.

One of the main causes of high blood pressure is chronic inflammation, and fish oil greatly reduces inflammation in the body, making it a powerful preventive aid for a number of serious health conditions.

green tea high blood pressure

Green Tea

Green tea has become famous worldwide for its amazing health benefits, including a wide array of antioxidants and polyphenols. The polyphenols in green tea have been found to increase blood flow and improve blood pressure.

Studies have proven that drinking just a few cups a day can widen arteries by almost 40 percent. Tea drinkers have a lower risk of heart disease than non-tea drinkers, so you might want to try a cup of green tea today.

I started drinking green tea every day several years ago (maybe over a decade – I’m getting old!), and I’ve never regretted it. One of my favorite types of green tea is the South American yerba mate, which I talk about in this post.

the DASH diet

While the four foods listed above will get you started on the way to lower blood pressure and overall better health, if you are really serious about making some healthier diet changes you will want to check out the above guide on the DASH Diet. 

The DASH diet focuses on using calcium, magnesium, and potassium rich whole foods to combat high blood pressure. It’s more than just a guide to help you lose weight (although you can very quickly on this plan, and the weight will stay off). It’s a plan for getting healthier for the rest of your life. 

Do you suffer from high blood pressure? Do you know someone who does? Have you (or they) made these dietary changes, or are you (or they) still stuck using the standard pharmaceuticals? How do you think things would be different if you changed what you are eating today? Are you ready to try?