Monthly Archives: March 2014

Whirlwind

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The past month has been a whirlwind of 30 page assignments, exams, and a high stakes exam also known as the “Practical Outcomes Assessment.” In addition to the first round of OA exams this past fall, there is a practical component where students must demonstrate competency of all clinical skills. These skills include point location, needling, warming needle, needle manipulations, pole moxa, and cupping. The exam is conducted as a full treatment where the student practitioner has 40 minutes to complete these skills and be accessed on their efforts by a faculty member.

Going into this exam, I was shaking in my boots. Having to demonstrate a culmination of all the skills in my toolbox seemed like a tall order. I am very proud because not only did I make it successfully through this exam, but also I did quite well and was complimented on my professionalism. During the exam, I stopped and had an out of body experience where I thought to myself, “Am I really able to do all these skills?! How did I learn all of this stuff? How bizarre is it that I am sticking sharp objects into people, burning herbs, bleeding fingertips, and throwing fire into cups to create suction.” It is quite strange when I stop to think about it. After wrapping my head around the uniqueness of my profession, I’ve come to the realization that I can’t imagine ever doing anything else. As tough and as trying as this journey has been – I don’t think it could ever be any other way.

The day I started Acupuncture School, I put a sticky note up on my computer screen that says, “There are no shortcuts anywhere worth going!” This statement is so relevant to my life at this very moment. After passing the final OA (until the next round in the fall) and all the stress I’ve endured in the past year and a half, I am finally becoming an intern. That means I will get a new pin, update my silver “assistant” sticker to a gold “intern” sticker on my name tag, and finally be able to start treating patients by myself (with an overseeing faculty member, of course!). It’s all happening so fast, but I think I am ready!

The excitement continues as I prepare for my trip to China in less than 2 weeks! I absolutely cannot wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Lotion Goodness Project – Take 1

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I’ll admit it. I am definitely the type of person to slather myself with lotion in the winter months. My skin gets unbearably dry, itchy, and uncomfortable. After making the switch from antiperspirant to deodorant, I’ve started to think about the ingredients of my other daily use body products. For example, my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and yes – lotion! I decided to be a Suzie homemaker and take a stab at making a batch of homemade lotion. After quickly searching Google and Pinterest, I found an easy, halfway decent looking recipe. Here it is:

 

Lavender Body Lotion

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup extra virgin oil – can use olive oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, etc. (I used organic extra virgin coconut oil)
  • ¾ cup distilled water
  • 2 tbsp. shaved beeswax
  • 30 drops of lavender essential oil
  • A couple drops of tea tree oil
  • Glass mason jars to store the finished product

Tools Needed

  • Blender
  • Knife, vegetable peeler, or cheese grater
  • Glass measuring cup OR double boiler
  • Rubber spatula

Instructions

  1. Sterilize all tools with boiling water
  2. Pour distilled water into the blender and set aside
  3. Pour the oil or combo of oils into the glass measuring cup (or top of double boiler)
  4. Shave beeswax with a knife, vegetable peeler, or cheese grater – it usually comes in a block, measure and put into the measuring cup with the oil
  5. Heat water in a pot and place the glass measuring cup inside to create a double boiler to melt the beeswax into the oil (or just use double boiler)
  6. When all the oils are melted together, remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes.
  7. Turn on the blender with the water already in it and pour the oil in slowly to create an emulsion.
  8. Once oil and water are blended together, add essential oil (can use any, I just used lavender because that’s what I had)
  9. Add a few drops of tea tree oil

10. Pour into mason jars to store

 

The Ingredient Goodness

Coconut Oil – Most moisturizers are either made mostly of water or petroleum based products. Water will cause the illusion of hydration until that water dries out, and petroleum products are heavy and cause the skin to become easily suffocated. Coconut oil is a super rich and hydrating product, which provides deep moisture without being too greasy. Additionally, it yields antibacterial and antioxidant properties, which reduce bacteria on the skin’s surface and nourish the skin in a brilliant way. For this reason it has the ability to soothe bug bites, clear rashes, tame breakouts, reduce wrinkles, protect against sun damage, and remove makeup. 

Tea Tree Oil – Derived from the leaves of the tea tree, this oil is antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial. It’s beneficial for mild to moderate acne and fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and scabies. The benefits of tea tree oil go beyond skin care, as it can be used for lice, toothache, infections of the nose and mouth, boils, vaginal infections, sore throat, and ear infections. Tea tree oil is also great for sensitive skin because it has the ability to reduce allergic skin reactions. It is important to mention that tea tree oil does not work as fast as benzoyl peroxide on acne; however, it is more gentle and may be best for long-term use. 

Beeswax – Although primarily used as a non-toxic, all natural thickening agent, beeswax also has great skin benefits. On the skin, it provides a “protective” barrier from the elements without clogging pores – this is primarily the reason why it’s used extensively in all natural lip balms. Just like honey, beeswax has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce acne and promote wound healing. Additionally, beeswax contains humectant, an ingredient that attracts water, helping to keep the skin hydrated for a longer period of time. Moreover, it is a natural source of vitamin A and fragrance, supporting the healthy turnover of skin cells and it has a fresh and lovely honey smell to boot!

Lavender Essential Oil – Lavender has antispasmodic, antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. It is not only great for skin, but has many other uses, which offer both physical and emotional relief.

  

The Results

I made this recipe a few months ago, which yielded two medium-sized jars of lotion. Now that I am down to about a quarter jar, I have used it long enough to speak about my experience. Keeping in mind that this winter has been absolutely horrific – ridiculously cold, dry, and windy – I think this lotion did an average job. I’d reckon it’s been hard on everyone’s skin, even those traditional lotion users.

There was a definite adjustment period as this lotion is oil based. At first, it feels greasier than traditional lotions. The good news is that it soaks in quickly – maybe 15-20 minutes and it feels very lightweight after it’s been absorbed. On one hand it has a nice, subtle lavender smell due to the lavender essential oil; however, on the other it also has a light “woodsy sort of hippy smell” due to the tea tree oil. For me – this is a very fitting and comfortable aroma!

Functionally, an important difference I noticed was that all the residual acne I’ve had for years started to disappear. This was an amazing and welcomed change! It’s been gone ever since (minus the occasional blemish around my womanly cycle!). I’d imagine the disappearance of the acne is due to all the antibacterial constituents doing their job of clearing away bacteria from my skin.

One important drawback was that this lotion needed reapplication more than traditional lotions. For this reason, I plan to improve my next batch by adding a small amount of 100% shea butter. Shea butter is a rich and creamy substance, extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It is widely used in all types of creams for it’s moisturizing properties. Not only that, but shea butter is chock full of antioxidants such as vitamin E, polyphenols, and phytonutrients. This makes shea butter great for blemishes, stretch marks, wrinkles, burns, dermatitis, eczema, and other skin conditions.

Stay turned for “The Lotion Goodness Project – Take 2,” for updated results on my second batch! 

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