Digging Deeper Into Herbs and Oils, Life, Natural Living, Wellness

Bishop’s Journey

Have you ever come across something that dramatically changes your perspective? Ours was essential oils. One in particular for my son. He uses this oil daily and has seen massive improvements in his overall cardiovascular health.

Why are we talking about my son’s cardiovascular health? Because at the age of sixteen he was diagnosed with stage two hypertension and flagged as a heart attack risk. We went through all of the testing, and the doctors couldn’t explain why his cardiovascular health was so poor. Physically, rhythmically, and activity/diet-wise he was perfect.

That’s when the doctor started exploring out of the box explanations. One of those explanations was an emotionally traumatic childhood.

Talking about alcoholism and PTSD in combat veterans has become much more common, but what isn’t talked about nearly as frequently are the effects these conditions have on families. Spouses and children often develop symptoms of PTSD themselves and can develop many of the same medical problems…anxiety and depression as well as physical manifestations such as high blood pressure.

I wish I had some awesome research to attach here but unfortunately until it becomes a talking point itself, there just won’t be many studies out there. What I do have is a lot of anecdotal evidence and my own experiences and the experiences of my fellow combat families. We need to start having open discussions about the health of our families so everyone, including our children, can heal.

For healing to begin, it is important to address the underlying causes of illness. For our family it was most definitely abuse. Alcohol abuse. Verbal abuse. Mental abuse. Borderline physical abuse. The first major step was for the drinking to stop. My husband has been dry for almost three years and we could not be more proud of him for that. The second major step was acknowledging, out loud that abuse had actually occurred. Saying it out loud was even scarier than thinking it. Once it was said out loud there was no more putting it back in the box. But it was absolutely necessary. When things are hidden in the dark too long, they fester and cause physical manifestations. If you want the physical manifestations to go away, you have to bring the real issues to light. And lastly, we had to decide if we were going to move forward as a whole family or separately. This last step was perhaps the scariest because the abuse didn’t magically stop with that last drop of alcohol. And it doesn’t even magically stop with the last cruel word uttered. We all have learned behaviors, response and survival behaviors that we now have to change. Yes, even the children and I. Because abuse survival behaviors have no functioning place in an emotionally balanced life. And it’s hard. But we’re working together as a family to not only move past, but to grow together and heal together as a unit. I imagine that these blog posts are just as hard for my husband to read as they are for my kids and I to write. But the writing and the reading are necessary. I hope that if you recognize any of this in your own family that you will reach out…to family, to friends, to me if there is no one else. Healing can happen. Especially with our combat vet families. I know you don’t want to even think the word abuse. I know you want to keep whispering to yourself that, “it’s just PTSD. It’s not their fault. It’ll get better.” I whispered those same words. It can get better. But it takes a lot of work. A lot of painful work. And you and your children do not deserve to get ripped up and traumatized in the process. No one deserves to be abused. And as long as you are still in that environment, turning a blind eye to it, you can not heal. No pill, no oil, no slap in the face from the divine, is going to heal you if you refuse to acknowledge the real issue.

This is where I need to jump in and say that any statements I make in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. As well as using the essential oils for the benefit of my family, I am also an independent distributor of Young Living. It is Young Living’s official stance that their products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Therefore, as a distributor I cannot diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you want to learn more about the oils, please visit Witchy Gypsy Oils. *This article also contains affiliate links that link to products we recommend and use ourselves.* Click on any of the little bottles to go to that specific product page.

I can, however, discuss my son’s overall cardiovascular health and share some of the research that I found that prompted discussions and a treatment plan with our cardiologist. That’s what I’m going to do here in hopes that this same information may be beneficial to someone else needing cardiovascular support or a beginning point of discussion with their own doctor. Don’t forget to include your kids in these discussions. It’s important that they feel like they have some say and control in their own health.

I’m going to be honest here and say that when it came to matters of the heart, I wasn’t sure that natural remedies were going to be enough. I’m not anti-medicine. I think pharmaceutical answers have their place…although it is typically more of a nuclear decision for us. Time to salt the earth and all that. This was definitely something major and a little salting of the earth seemed appropriate. We started my son on high blood pressure medication and resolved to wait the two to three weeks for his body to adjust to it.

Talk about a roller coaster! Suddenly his numbers were all over the place! He was blacking out more frequently. He had a complete personality change and was short tempered ALL THE TIME. And he was exhausted. Like, couldn’t get out of bed exhausted ALL DAY. We rode out the two weeks but it didn’t get better. His quality of life was terrible. The doctor suggested taking him off the medication entirely just to make sure that it was indeed the medication and not a new development. A week later, he was back to his previous normal sick state.

That’s terrible. His normal sick state. Just saying that makes my momma heart tighten up.

Another discussion with the cardiologist confirmed that it was in all likelihood the medication that caused the severe decline. Because he wasn’t comfortable prescribing any of the other medications in that class to a teenager, we had a few options. We could half the dose and see if that made any difference. We could ride out the levels for a few years and see if they improved on their own since teenagers are already such tumultuous beings. Or we could try natural remedies. We discussed herbs like garlic, some mineral combinations, and essential oils. The cardiologist did warn us not to be too hopeful with such remedies, but he also wasn’t completely dismissive. Everyone responds differently to different things, and he had seen stranger things in his practice.

Ringing endorsement, huh?

We decided to try essential oils first. These are concentrated little powerhouses that do not require ingestion. They are also less expensive than some of the other options we had discussed with the doctor. We have experience supporting mental health with essential oils, but I was still a little dubious about them supporting something like cardiovascular health. Silly me.

Let’s stop for a minute and talk about research. If you’re going to have a conversation with your doctor about alternative therapy, it’s important that you are on the same page. That means bringing your research with you and learning new terminology like vasoconstrictor and antimucogal. It’s these weird named properties that you and your doctor are actually going to be looking for within any plants you are considering.

My starting point of research is almost always the Life Science Essential Oils Desk Reference. This book goes into a lot more detail regarding medical properties of the plants as well as suggested uses. Then I branch out on the internet to confirm or expand that information. I have the 7th edition (linked above) but you can also find the newest edition HERE. I also like to visit Plants for a Future…a database that contains plant information including the typical history and growth conditions but also ranks plants on their edible and medicinal values.

Once I find what I’m looking for I try to consolidate that research into pertinent bites to make the discussion easier. Below is the type of research I would bring with me to the conversation as a starting point for discussion and/or more research. I would also bring the actual books or websites booked on my phone for easy reference and expansion. For this example I am limiting my findings to two sources. You may or may not need to delve deeper into your own rabbit hole.

The blend that we discussed with our doctor, and finally implemented as a part of Bishop’s daily routine, was Aroma Life. This is an essential oil blend consisting of sesame seed oil and essential oils of Cypress, Marjoram, Ylang Ylang, and Helichrysum.

Young Living, the company that produces the oil, describes it simply as:

Aroma Life™ uses Marjoram and Ylang Ylang essential oils to energize your spirit and create a sense of connection.

Product Listing (https://oily.life/witchygypsyoils/young-living/en_US/product/aroma-life-essential-oil-blend)

Remember, it is Young Living’s official stance that their products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. That means they are very careful not to make claims without FDA approval and substantial amounts of research. And while they are going through the process of meeting labeling requirements and validating claims for some oils for internal and over the counter use, this process takes time. Ultimately, we the consumers are responsible for doing our own research and sourcing quality ingredients for any plans that we wish to implement. So let’s start researching one for our example.

Aroma Life

Aroma Life improves cardiovascular, lymphatic, and circulatory systems; lowers high blood pressure; and reduces stress.

Life Science Essential Oils Desk Reference, 7th edition, page 145

That is a bold statement for any publication to make so let’s look at what it says about the individual ingredients.

Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

Cypress is the common name for a variety of coniferous trees and shrubs. That’s why it is important to pay attention to scientific names so that we know we are discussing the same plant.

The product listing describes it as:

Cypress has a fresh, herbaceous aroma that can promote a sense of security and grounding.

Product Listing https://oily.life/witchygypsyoils/young-living/en_US/product/cypress-essential-oil

The reference guide goes on for a while about the history of cypress; how the Phonecians, Greeks, and even Egyptians used these trees for building, carving, and worship. A quick google search brings up lots of historical information as well. What I was interested in though were medical properties of the plant.

Improves circulation; is anti-infectious, antispasmodic, and an antioxidant; discourages fluid retention; improves respiration; promotes liver health.

Life Science Essential Oils Desk Reference, 7th edition, page 83

The cones and young branches are anthelmintic, antipyretic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, balsamic and vasoconstrictive[7, 46, 240].

Plants for a Future (https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cupressus+sempervirens)

Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)

You might actually have this dried herb on your spice shelf. Commonly known as sweet marjoram, we’ve been adding this to our Italian spice blends for years. I have always known that herbs held medicinal value but I am only now learning just how beneficial they can be in concentrated form. Let’s look at the medical properties of Marjoram. First, from the product listing (https://oily.life/witchygypsyoils/young-living/en_US/product/marjoram-vitality):

  • Has a mild, herbaceous, and savory flavor
  • Provides powerful antioxidants that support a healthy lifestyle
  • May support the digestive system when combined with a healthy diet*
  • Can be taken as a dietary supplement to support a healthy immune system*

This of course is from the Vitality product listing which is the line of oils approved for internal use. Once we look further afield for research we can see that the herb and associated oil have a much richer history.

It’s muscle-soothing properties help relieve body and joint discomfort. May also help soothe the digestive tract and is a general relaxant. Antibacterial, antifungal, vasodilator, lowers blood pressure, promotes intestinal peristalsis, expectorant, mucolytic.

Life Science Essential Oils Desk Reference, 7th edition, page 110

Sweet marjoram is mainly used as a culinary herb, but is also medicinally valuable due to its stimulant and antispasmodic properties[254]. It is a good general tonic, treating various disorders of the digestive and respiratory systems. It has a stronger affect on the nervous system than the related oregano (O. vulgare) … The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and mildly tonic[4, 7, 21, 240]. It is taken internally in the treatment of bronchial complaints, tension headaches, insomnia, anxiety, minor digestive upsets and painful menstruation[238].

Plants for a Future (https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Origanum+majorana)

Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)

This one is just fun to say. And while we normally associate it with perfume and bedroom activities, it has a stout list of medicinal properties as well. We can find its key constituents in the product listing (https://oily.life/witchygypsyoils/young-living/en_US/product/ylang-ylang-essential-oil) and research further from there.

KEY CONSTITUENTS

  • Germacrene D
  • (E,E)-alpha-farnesene
  • Benzyl acetate
  • Geranyl acetate
  • Beta-caryophyllene
  • Benzyl benzoate
  • Linalool
  • Para-cresyl methyl ether
  • Methyl benzoate
  • Benzyl salicylate

Antispasmodic, vasodilating, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, regulates heartbeat.

Life Science Essential Oils Desk Reference, 7th edition, page 141

The flowers, and the essential oil obtained from them, are antipruritic, antifungal, antiseptic and sedative, relieving tension, lowering blood pressure and reducing fever[ 238 , 311 ]. They are also said to be aphrodisiac[ 238 ]. The dried flowers are used in the treatment of malaria and the fresh flowers are made into a paste for treating asthma[ 303 ]. Applied externally, they are used to treat skin irritations, conjunctivitis, boils and gout[ 238 ]. They are added to bath water to treat impotence and frigidity[ 238 ]. The essential oil is important in aromatherapy, where it is used in the treatment of tachycardia, rapid breathing, hypertension, gastrointestinal infections and psycho-sexual complaints[ 238 ]. The flowers are harvested of a night time and dried for infusions or distilled for their essential oil[ 238 ]. The leaves are used in a treatment for diarrhoea in infants[ 311 ]. The leaves are also used in a remedy for treating boils[ 311 ]. They are rubbed on the skin to treat itch[ 303 ]. The bark is applied against scurf[ 303 ]. An infusion of the bark is used for treating stomach ailments such as pains, indigestion and colic[ 311 ]. Fluid from the pressed bark is used in treating toothaches and migraine headaches[ 311 ]. The seed has been used externally to cure intermittent fever[ 303 ].

Plants for a Future (https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cananga+odorata)

That plant escalated quickly. You can see how it is easy to dismiss an ingredient because it is commonly known for something simple like its perfume and lose out on everything else it can provide. Always…always look deeper.

The next ingredient is one that I was not familiar with. I mean, I had seen its name included in a lot of blends but I hadn’t done any research on it previously.

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)

This one is intriguing because no matter where you look it points out that it is also called Everlasting and Immortal. But does the actual plant live up to the hype? The product listing (https://oily.life/witchygypsyoils/young-living/en_US/product/helichrysum-essential-oil) breaks down its key constituents:

  • Neryl acetate
  • Gamma-curcumene
  • Alpha-pinene
  • Beta-caryophyllene
  • Beta-selinene

Breaking down its constituents definitely helps with research when individual constituents may have studies that have been done on them and not the whole plant.

Anticoagulant, anesthetic, antioxidant, antisposmodic, antiviral, liver protectant/detoxifier/stimulant, chelates chemicals and toxins, regenerates nerves

Life Science Essential Oils Desk Reference, 7th edition, page 97

None known

Plants for a Future (https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Helichrysum+italicum)

Sometimes you run across an oil that has a huge list of medicinal value in one reference and none in another. It happens. Most of our plant based research is new or ancient. There isn’t a whole lot of in between because more plant medicine lore was passed on from generation to generation through stories and verbal transfers. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. You just sometimes have to dig further. Remember those individual constituents? PubMed can be a good, albeit harder to read, source of newer studies.

There are reports on the traditional use of Helichrysum italicum in European countries, particularly Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In these countries, its flowers and leaves are the most used parts in the treatment of health disorders such as allergies, colds, cough, skin, liver and gallbladder disorders, inflammation, infections and sleeplessness. In order to validate some of the traditional uses of Helichrysum italicum and highlight other potential applications for its extracts and isolated compounds, several scientific studies have been conducted in the last decades. In vitro studies characterized Helichrysum italicum as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent. Its flavonoids and terpenes were effective against bacteria (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus), its acetophenones, phloroglucinols and terpenoids displayed antifungal action against Candida albicans and its flavonoids and phloroglucinols inhibited HSV and HIV, respectively. Helichrysum italicum acetophenones, flavonoids and phloroglucinols demonstrated inhibitory action in different pathways of arachidonic acid metabolism and other pro-inflammatory mediators. Regarding Helichrysum italicum in vivo activity, the highlight goes to the anti-erythematous and photoprotective activities of its flavonoids, demonstrated both in animals and humans, and to the anti-inflammatory properties exhibited by its flavonoids, acetophenones and phloroglucinols, as seen in animal models. Concerning its safety and adverse effects, while Helichrysum italicum does not display significant levels of cytotoxicity or genotoxicity, it should be noticed that one of its flavonoids inhibited some CYP isoforms and a case has been reported of an allergic reaction to its extracts.

PubMed.com, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24239849)

So where does all of this leave us?

With an informed conversation between mother, son, and cardiologist. With an easy implementable, daily, plant based therapy. A therapy that the child is not only comfortable with, but has chosen himself. And with a child who has seen a tremendous increase in his quality of life.

My son is not cured. There is, and probably always will be, lasting effects of childhood trauma in his life. However, his overall cardiovascular health has improved from an impending crisis event to a manageable state and he is now looking forward to his future instead of debating whether or not he is even going to have one. The oils involved are not magical. Healing always involves more than just managing physical symptoms. However, relieving the stress of those physical symptoms can lead the way to identifying, accepting, and releasing the heart and soul issues that led to the physical manifestation in the first place.

You may have a different experience. Your health plan may involve one oil or several. It may contain herbs or even outside therapy such as chiropractic care. Or it may involve a simultaneous combination of these and pharmaceutical solutions. This is why it is so important to work with your doctor.

I hope that showing examples of research…how to find information as well as how to break solutions up into their ingredients for further research…will help you on your own journey. Please do not take anything that I say or experience as gospel. Do your own research. But also, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about some of these alternatives. In our case, they turned out to be much more effective than we could have hoped and definitely a lot more beneficial than initially advertised.

For healing to begin, it is important to address the underlying causes of illness.
For our family it was most definitely abuse. Alcohol abuse. Verbal abuse. Mental abuse. Borderline physical abuse. The first major step was for the drinking to stop. My husband has been dry for almost three years, and we could not be more proud of him for that. The second major step was acknowledging, out loud that abuse had actually occurred. Saying it out loud was even scarier than thinking it. Once it was said out loud there was no more putting it back in the box. But it was absolutely necessary. When things are hidden in the dark too long, they fester and cause physical manifestations. If you want the physical manifestations to go away, you have to bring the real issues to light. And lastly, we had to decide if we were going to move forward as a whole family or separately through divorce. We decided to give our family a chance together. This last step was perhaps the scariest because the abuse didn’t magically stop with that last drop of alcohol. And it doesn’t even magically stop with the last cruel word uttered. We all have learned behaviors, response and survival behaviors that we now have to change. Yes, even the children and I. Because abuse survival behaviors have no functioning place in an emotionally balanced life. And it’s hard. But we’re working together as a family to not only move past, but to grow together and heal together as a unit. I imagine that these blog posts are just as hard for my husband to read as they are for my kids and I to write. But the writing and the reading are necessary.
I hope that if you recognize any of this in your own family that you will reach out…to family, to friends, to me if there is no one else. Healing can happen. Especially with our combat vet families. I know you don’t want to even think the word abuse. I know you want to keep whispering to yourself that, “it’s just PTSD. It’s not their fault. It’ll get better.” I whispered those same words. It can get better. But it takes a lot of work. A lot of painful work. And you and your children do not deserve to get ripped up and traumatized in the process. No one deserves to be abused. And as long as you are still in that environment, turning a blind eye to it, you can not heal. No pill, no oil, no drink, no slap in the face from the divine, is going to heal you if you refuse to acknowledge the real issue.

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