What NASA has to say about the power of your houseplants!

Creating a peaceful, organized, non-toxic home can be just as important to your health as what you choose to eat. Making your home a safe haven from the toxic world we live in can create a greater sense of wellbeing, which translates into a happier and healthier you!

Three simple additions you can make to your home environment that can have major transformative effects and help turn it into a happy non-toxic home are

1: High quality candles

2: High oxygen-producing, toxin-absorbing plants

3: Essential oils that open the senses, calm the nerves, and can actually kill airborne bacteria and viruses.

Candles

Everyone loves the ambiance a candle adds to a room. But did you know, depending on the quality of the candles you’re burning, they can be calming and uplifting OR put an unnecessary toxic burden on your immune system?

In order to limit the toxic burden a candle has, it’s important to use ones that are made with natural vegetable wax like hand poured coconut wax or beeswax. The fragrance should be high quality essential oils, and they should have a cotton or pure paper wick. My current favorites are Calypso Candles, the one’s I featured in the video with me.

What makes candles toxic?

Two questions you want to ask yourself when shopping for candles are;

1: What is the wax made of?

2: What kind of wick does it have.

Paraffin is the major ingredient in most conventional candles. Paraffin is a sludge waste product from the petroleum industry which releases carcinogenic chemicals when burned.

These fumes are similar to those released from a diesel engine and can be as dangerous as second-hand cigarette smoke! Fumes of this nature can also contribute to serious respiratory issues such as asthma.

“Scented” candles (when the scent/fragrance is not natural) may have lead or lead cores in the wick, which releases dangerous amounts of lead into your home through the candle soot. This is no bueno and actual illegal, but…

Candle wicks are supposed to be made from pure paper or cotton. A study done by the University of Michigan in 1999 found that 30% of candles in the USA released lead into the air in amounts higher than is considered safe by the EPA.

Legislation was passed in 2003 by the USA to ban lead in wicks. Unfortunately lead wicks are still present in some candles that are imported from China or Taiwan and they make their way onto store shelves.

This makes sense to me now when I test my client for metal and they come back with lead…. I always thought it was from paint, but this is now another place to check.

What toxic chemicals do you find in cheaper candles?

There are two toxic chemicals in particular that are found in cheaper candles.

1: Benzene, a common solvent found in oils and paints connected to cancer

2: Toluene: found in the sooty residue from burning candles that has been shown to adversely affect the central nervous system.

In addition to those two chemicals, artificial scents and colors may trigger allergic reactions or become irritants to some people.

NASA-Tested and Approved Clean Air Machines –Common Houseplants

My mom always called plants clean air machines and told me to never ever put fake plants in my home (at least until I was 80 years old ;).

Peace lilies, native to South and Central America, are easy to maintain and are among the top houseplants used to purify air quality in the home.

While all plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as part of the photosynthesis process, according to the University of Minnesota, Peace Lilies also absorb airborne pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene (I will tell you more about those below).

NASA spent two years testing 19 different common houseplants for their ability to remove these common pollutants from the air. Peace lilies topped NASA’s list for removing all three of most common VOCs (volatile organic compounds); formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.

Peace lilies effectively remove benzene, a byproduct of inks, oils, paints, dyes, plastic byproducts and synthetic fibers. In addition, they absorb trichloroethylene, which are generally derived from metal degreasing and dry cleaning industries, printing inks, paints, varnishes and adhesives. Then, there’s Formaldehyde, another known toxic chemical used in many building materials including particleboard and foam insulations.

Pretty cool that a common houseplant can do all that, wouldn’t you say?

Other top-ranking houseplants on NASA’s clean air machine list are:

English ivy
Gerbera Daisies
Pot Mums
Bamboo Palm

Read more about house plants, clean air and EMF's here.

The Healing Power of Essential Oils and Their Aromatherapy Benefits

Essential Oils are great to open your senses and calm your mind. Scent is our strongest sense and the remarkable benefits of aromatherapy are truly underestimated.

According to aromatherapy practitioners, inhaling essential oil molecules or absorbing essential oils through the skin transmits messages to the limbic system; a brain region responsible for controlling emotions and influencing the nervous system. These messages are believed to affect biological factors such as heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.

How to use Essential oils

Diffusing Essential oils is a great way to calm the mind. To maintain the quality of the oils it is important to use a high quality diffuser. When shopping for a good aromatherapy diffuser you want to look for one that atomizes the oil. This means it converts the oil into very fine particles or droplets without heating it since the process of heating essential oils can compromise the integrity and potency of the oils.

Examples of Essential Oils and Their Healing Properties

Lavender Oil

Lavender Oil offers some of the most powerful remedies in the plant world. It offers both physical and emotional relief and is a great (topical) remedy for problems as varied as burns, migraines and insomnia as well as insect bites and skin problems.

It owes this amazing spectrum of healing powers to its complex chemical makeup. Lavender is particularly rich in aromatic molecules called esters, which are calming and soothing, while other molecules give it its antiviral, bacterial and anti-inflammatory powers. Historically noted in the aromatherapy world for refreshing a tired mind, lavender has also been named as one of the most useful of the essences for the relief of anxiety and stress. A great one to burn in the bedroom before sleep or when you get home from a long day to symbolically release stress.

Tulsi-Holy Basil

Diffusing Tulsi, also called Holy Basil essential oil can provide uplifting, clarifying, and air purifying benefits. When diffused, Holy Basil essential oil purifies and cleanses the air, supports the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems and protects the body from environmental toxins. The aroma of Tulsi can help invigorate your senses, clarify your mind, uplift and balance your emotions.

It even kills air born challenges such as bacteria, molds and viruses- pretty cool in the dead of an intense winter when everyone is getting sick. This makes it a great oil to diffuse when someone else in the house is sick to keep the whole family from catching the bug.

Rose Oil

Used throughout history since the 17th Century as medicine. Rose oil is very expensive so it is almost always diluted, usually with jojoba oil.

The healing tradition associated with the rose is no less remarkable than its fragrance and beauty. The 17th-century English physician Culpeper wrote that red roses strengthen the heart. This goes beyond the physical as roses are said to have the highest energy field of any flower and therefore provide emotional and spiritual benefits when applied directly on the heart area.

Culpeper routinely recommended extract of rose for its cooling and astringent benefits and its efficacy to treat headache and tired eyes.

Whether you are looking to uplift your mood, clear your mind or purify the air, adding candles, plants and essential oils are great ways to make your home environment healthier.

Using these three simple, inexpensive additions not only provides better air quality and the removal of unnecessary toxic burdens, they also create the healthy, happy sanctuary you deserve to go home to.