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Monday, December 22, 2014

Oil for Mary: Soothing Herbs for Severe Itching Skin

Most of the time, I'm approached for skin care solutions related to aging and/or sensitive skin.  Recently, a close colleague approached me for the first time in 16 years of knowing and working with each other.  She was seeking support.  She confided in me that her mother was undergoing chemotherapy and all was going well besides one thing - her skin was severely irritated and creating chronic itching throughout the day and especially at night.  Her dear mother was losing sleep due to the itching as a side effect of the chemotherapy was seeking support. 

I've known this family for 16 years as they have a tremendous history in the nonprofit and special needs field.  They are like family.  I humbly agreed and that night when I went home I carefully thought out what I hoped would help dear Mary get some well deserved sleep...at least for a night.

I formulated a bath blend and kept it simple: magnesium salt, almond oil, lavender and chamomile.  Magnesium salt to sooth her central nervous system and feed her muscles and skin from the outside in.  I then formulated a body oil for her to place liberally on her skin after she came out of the bath.  An oil that would hydrate and sooth her skin throughout the night was my inspiration.  I quickly reached for oils I've infused and had on hand in my apothecary for skin health: yarrow infused olive oil, calendula oil, violet leaf oil and blended with other beneficial oils to hydrate and benefit the skin. 

I drove in the day after Thanksgiving to meet my colleague.  As I handed her the bath salts and oils I sent her and her mother a special internal prayer of health, happiness and rest. 

Eager to find out how Mary slept the night before, I called my colleague on Saturday morning and she placed her mother on the phone.  On the phone was Mary...telling me she slept so well...the first time since she started chemotherapy.  She was elated and her voice rang with happiness.  I felt incredibly full of joy and relief.  I told her how happy I was she was able to get some much needed rest.  She was delighted and so was her family who had been worrying about her itchy skin.  Her skin had been such a bother to Mary that she had scratched it to the point of breaking the skin on her back and legs. 

Days later I asked how she was doing and the response was the same.  She was able to sleep through the night without itching and her scratches were now starting to heal.  Amazing....love. 

I'm sharing this special story out of gratitude.  I am grateful for the humble support I was able to give one extraordinary lady in her time of need. 

Later, I learned through research that the process of chemotherapy reduces the skin's ability to renew itself, which can worsen dry skin.  I didn't know this when formulating for Mary, but it makes so much sense now. 

The key is maintaining hydration and moisture.  Many over the counter lotions or jellies can feel hydrating, yet may not hydrate or add moisture to our dermal layers.  What may help is a good fragrance free botanical oil blend or crème.    If you or a loved one is experiencing this, look for crèmes, oils, and ointments made with whole organic ingredients which may be a better path to relief.  The key is retaining moisture in the skin using soothing ingredients, such as botanically infused oils.  It's also best to seal in moisture after bath time.  Of course, always consult your physician in your treatment.

Blessings to Mary and all who are surviving cancer.  May your strength and light persevere. 

Green Blessings
For your skin and for the plants,

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