Using Lavender Oil for Sunburn Relief and Why You Should Avoid the Blue Goo…

Using lavender Oil for Sunburn

I live for the summer and the sun and I always have. Growing up I remember hearing my aunt tell me every summer, “look at you, you’re brown as a little berry”. I still have no idea why that is a saying, I have yet to come across a berry that is supposed to be brown… but that is another story. I tan relatively easily, not making sunburns a huge concern. However, as an adult I have become a little more leery of sun damage and I also spend considerably more time inside than I ever did as a child so I have become much paler and more susceptible to the occasional sunburn. Earlier this summer I went over to a friend’s house wearing running shorts, where I usually wear long skirts and dresses, and came home with a nice little sunburn on my thigh. Nothing overly terrible, but enough to hurt, peel and be annoying.

Rather than reaching for the blue “cooling” goo under the sink, I decided to do a little experiment and try my little bottle of lavender essential oil. I had recently been reading about lavender oil and burns and I wanted to test it out myself. The night I came home with the sunburn I applies a few drops of oil on the burn, neat, and let it dry. Few hours later, before bed, I did it again and went to bed. When I woke up the redness was significantly reduced and I had no pain. I applied it again in the morning and one more time at night and by the following day most of the redness was gone, I had no pain and I never had any peeling or blistering. Again, this wasn’t the worst sunburn I had ever had, but I was still impressed by my results. This led me to do a little research on the topic. What actually happens when we get a sun burn? What do over the counter sunburn remedies do and what is in them? And how does lavender essential oil work? Here is what I found:


What Happens When We Get a Sunburn?

Obviously, we all know what a sunburn is, but what is actually happening to our bodies to cause the redness and irritation we experience? A study done at the University of California, San Diego found that “the reddish, painful, protective immune response from ultraviolet (UV) radiation – is a consequence of RNA damage to skin cells…” Cells exposed to UVB radiation “release altered RNA, provoking healthy neighboring cells to start a process that results in an inflammatory response intended to remove sun damaged cells” (1) It is thought that this inflammatory response not only initiates healing, but also acts to remove damaged cells before they become cancerous. Of course this is not a perfect system and the more we are exposed to UV radiation the higher our chances are of developing skin cancer become.


What do Over the Counter Sunburn Remedies Do and What is in Them?

After sun care products come in a lot of forms; creams, gels, lotions, and sprays some with aloe, some with vitamin e, some with cooling properties and some without. However, many of them share the same active ingredient, lidocaine. Lidocaine is a topical anesthetic meant to reduce the pain and irritation caused by the burn. Sounds good right? Well I decided to look up the risks and benefits associated with topical lidocaine use and came across some surprising information. In 2009 the FDA released a report warning of serious risks associated with the use of topical anesthetic products containing lidocaine, tetracaine, benzocaine, and prilocaine. The warning states that when applied to the skin the products are absorbed into the blood stream and if used improperly, or when too much is absorbed into the blood stream, the resulting effects include irregular heartbeat, seizures, breathing difficulties, coma, or even death. Their recommendations for these products state that among other things, consumers should not make heavy application of topical anesthetic products over large areas of skin, or apply these products to irritated or broken skin. Finally, the warning states that “ When skin temperature increases, the amount of anesthetic reaching the blood stream is unpredictable and the risk of life-threatening side effects increases with greater amounts of lidocaine in the blood.” (2) A few things jump out at me here when thinking about the use of lidocaine in treating sunburn. First, sunburn generally does occur over large areas of skin, your whole back, legs, abdomen… etc. Meaning that it is common practice for people to slather after-sun products on large areas of their body, which as we just read is contraindicated. Second, sun burn products are ALWAYS being applied on irritated or broken skin. That is the nature of what you are trying to treat. Finally, the times during which these products are being used could easily collide with times of increased skin temperature. All you would have to do would be to put some on and then go back out in the sun for a bit, meaning that absorption of the product is increased and can cause increased levels of lidocaine to enter the blood stream.

Obviously, the amount of lidocaine in sun burn products is relatively low and unlikely to cause an immediately severe reaction but I, personally, worry about the long term effects of using these products in large amounts.

How Does Lavender Essential Oil Work?

The primary compounds in lavender essential oil are linalool and linalyl acetate. Both of these compounds contain both local anesthetic properties and anti-inflammatory properties, making them ideal for sunburn care. In a study looking at the effects of isolated linalyl acetate and linalool on carageenan induced edema, an inflammatory response, in mice both compounds were found to significantly reduce inflammation. (3)

While evidenced based studies are limited, the current thinking and traditional usage of essential oils indicate that because essential oils are comprised of natural components that our bodies recognize they are either used or discarded appropriately by the body’s receptor sites whereas synthetic compounds in pharmaceutical and over the counter medications confuse our receptor sites and are then stored in the body, usually in the liver or colon, until our body can “figure out” how to use them. This can cause many problems such a suppressed or over active immune system and increased toxicity in the body. Essential oils also seem to support the immune system rather than inhibit it, which allows healing to happen at a naturally increased rate.


lavender EO Before and After

The original sunburn (top) and the sunburn after one application of lavender EO (bottom)

How to Use Lavender Essential Oil to Treat a Sunburn:

I have said it before and I will say it again, not all essential oils are created equal. In order to be effective and not cause side effects essential oils must be pure, organic, and from a reputable manufacturer. If this is not the case you will still have unwanted things in your blood stream just as you would if you were using an over the counter medication. I recommend either DoTerra or Young Living essential oils. I am not a sales person for either company, I have used them both and I trust them both. I encourage you to do your own research and determine which brand is best for you, but those two brands have the most reputable practices and highest level of purity available.

There are multiple ways to apply your oils. For adults who have tried oils before, have not had a reaction to them, and use them sparingly it is safe to apply them directly to the skin. This is the method I chose to use in this instance. If you are worried about having a reaction to the oil or if you are treating a child, dilute the oil with a 1:4 ratio using a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil. Finally, you can also combine the oil with other calming agents such as aloe vera gel.

Use sparingly, a drop or two goes a long way, and apply as needed every few hours until the burn starts to improve then use a couple of times a day for a day or two until you are comfortable and healing.

You may still get a few uncomfortable burns this summer, but why not try some lavender oil this time instead of the blue goo hiding in your bathroom? Give it a try.



AIP Tostones- A Plantain Appetizer or Side Dish

AIP Tostones

A while ago I wrote about my experiences eating out while on the AIP diet as well as one of the places I have fallen in love with the most… a little Peruvian restaurant called Mami Nora’s. Not only does this place have local, organic, chicken cooked over a wood burning rotisserie, it has a little side dish called tostones, or fried green plantains.

Tostones are a dish commonly found in South America and Puerto Rico, made by taking green plantains, breaking them into pieces, frying them, flattening them and then frying them again. They are a delicious side dish or appetizer and very easy to make AIP.

I especially love them because they are so satisfying and filling and a welcome deviation to the AIP meat and veggie rotation that can so easily become boring. I made these as an appetizer for my family when they came into town for a visit, but they are also a delicious snack if you are up to the task. I recommend pairing them with this simple AIP Guacamole recipe!


AIP Tostones (Fried Green Plantains)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2-4 people
  • 2-3 Green Plantains
  • ¼ Cup of Palm Oil or Coconut Oil
  • ¼ Tsp of Sea Salt
  1. Peel your plantains and break them into pieces about 2-3 inches long.
  2. In a large sauce pan heat your oil on medium heat and drop in your plantain piece.
  3. Cook them until they are slightly soft and starting to become golden on all sides.
  4. Remove the plantain pieces and dry them on a towel or paper towel.
  5. Taking the bottom of a drinking glass gently press down the pieces until they are about half their original hight.
  6. Place them back in the oil and cook for another 2 minutes per side or until entirely golden.
  7. Remove and salt, serving immediately with AIP guacamole.


AIP Mint Chip Ice Cream – Plus E-Book Review


As I write this post I am sitting outside in July in North Carolina and it is exactly 90 degrees. Hot summer days and nights never cease to bring on the desire for the treats of my past. Walking outside with some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in a tall waffle cone in hand, the sweet taste on my lips, the slight stickiness of melted drips on my fingers and a smile on my face.

This may sounds like a bit of a tease to you because those memories are distant and forever gone for those of us on restricted diets… or are they? Well, I promise I am not being a tease.  A new God-send has been given to us AIP folks in the form of an e-book. Authors Jennifer Robins, from Predominately Paleo, and Vivian Cheng, from The Real Food Guide, have teamed up to bring us We Can All Scream For Ice Cream: Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Recipes of Frozen Treats,  an e-book filled with over 20 recipes for ice cream, sorbet, popsicles and other delicious treats and guess what? They are  all AIP friendly! Every last one of them!

I have become skeptical of many recipes claiming to be “allergen-free” because I am often still unable to eat at least some of the ingredients. Not with these recipes! Every recipe is made up of simple, nourishing, real-food, AIP friendly ingredients!

My favorite part of this e-book though, is that you do NOT need an ice cream maker. I can not tell you how many times in recent months I have come across a coconut milk ice cream recipe only to find that it only gives instructions for an ice cream maker that I don’t have. Jennifer and Vivian give great tips on how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker and do a great job of making each and every recipe simple and accessible.

Aside from the ingredients and the info, the awesomeness of this book goes one step further because it is currently only being sold for $5.99 and is available as an instant download so you can enjoy these sweet treats ASAP!

To prove that I am telling you all the truth about how amazing this e-book is I have shared a preview recipe from the book below! Mint Chip Ice Cream! Check out the recipe and click here to order your copy of this book! I absolutely promise it is worth the money! You will never feel dessert deprived again, no mater what your food sensitivities may be! Enjoy :)

minticecream_coneMint Chip Ice Cream (AIP Friendly)


  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon carob powder
  • 1 can (13.5 fl oz/398 ml)
  • full fat coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon real peppermint
  • extract
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  •  tbsp pure maple syrup
  • Handful fresh baby spinach


  1. Pre-freeze your ice cream maker’s insulated container. Or if you do not have an ice cream maker, place a baking dish in the freezer. Make your ‘chips’ by combining the coconut oil and carob powder in a shallow dish, and place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or until completely frozen.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine your coconut milk, peppermint extract, mint leaves, and maple syrup. If you want
    a greener looking ice cream, add in the fresh baby spinach. Blend until the leaves are well combined and your mixture is
  3. Remove your frozen carob mixture from the freezer, and break up the thin, frozen layer into chips with your hands or a fork.
    Add chips to ice cream mixture. If using an ice cream maker: pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow the directions for your machine. Serve when ready.

— or —

  1. If not using an ice cream maker: pour mixture into a baking dish, and place it in the freezer. Freeze for 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the mixture from the freezer and stir it well with a rubber spatula, making sure to break up any hard, frozen sections. You can also use an immersion blender, in your baking dish to do this. Place the mixture back in the freezer.
  3. Every 30–45 minutes, check the ice cream mixture and mix or churn it, until the ice cream is of the desired consistency. This should take about 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Freeze longer for a harder ice cream, or allow to thaw slightly before serving for a softer texture.


  • Affiliate Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links. I was not paid to write this post, but by clicking these links and buying the products you help support Sweet Potatoes and Social Change and keep the posts coming. Thank you for your support.

4 Reasons Basic Sewing Skills are Important

4 Reasons Basic Sewing Skills Are Important

At 5 foot 1 inch, the basic value of sewing was a principle that I came to understand relatively early. Outside of the occasional find in the petite section of the department store I am sure that I do not own a single pair of pants and a single long skirt or dress that has not needed to be hemmed. My clothes have also seen a lot of alterations over the years do to the rapid changes in my weight caused by my ulcerative colitis I have clothes in my closet spanning at least 4 sizes that have probably all been worn within the past two years.

It seems though, that as a culture acquiring basic sewing skills has become less and less common. My guess is that in a culture that values convenience and doing things quickly it is simply easier to throw out damaged clothes and buy new ones or have someone else alter your clothes while you go about your normal routine. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a seamstress and I would much rather pay an expert to do major alterations on my clothes so that they last and are done well, but for small jobs I much prefer to do It myself. Here’s why:

  1. Sewing Saves You Money: Getting a basic hem done at a tailor can cost anywhere from $5 to $15 dollars depending on the garment. This is not bad at all, but if you are prepared to do something basic like this yourself you can basically do it for free. I have already hemmed 3 skirts this summer alone so that means I have saved myself anywhere from $15 to $45 dollars just in the last few months. Now let’s say that I didn’t want to pay or deal with sewing at all and I only bought clothes that didn’t need to be hemmed. One of the skirts I bought this summer I got at Kohl’s, on sale, with a gift card, the cost of the skirt was about $10. What would have happened if I had limited myself to only looking for petite sized skirts? The most accessible place I have found for petite clothing is Old Navy and they only carry a small amount of petite clothing in-store so I probably would have had to shop online. In order to try things on in a store I would have had to go to a more specialty store like Anne Taylor LOFT that carries a larger selection of petite clothes (because let’s face it, in most department store petite is synonymous with old-lady)… a similar maxi skirt at LOFT is over $60! Basic sewing skills offers the flexibility to shop where the sales are and worry about the length later.
  2. Sewing Helps Decrease Consumption and Utilize Reused Materials: If I had to buy new clothes every time something got a small tear in it or needed a slight alteration I would be buying clothes much more often. I shop for clothes maybe twice a year and it is usually a gift from my mom when she is here to visit. The rest of the time I find new ways to make my old clothes look more stylish or I scope out thrift stores for good deals. Being able to repurpose old clothes, whether they are your own or clothes from a thrift shop cuts down on the environmental impact that the textile industry has. Did you know that polyester, one of the most common synthetic fibers around is made from petroleum? The production of polyester requires “large amounts of crude oil, and releases emissions including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, all of which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease.” (1) Even cotton, a natural fiber, has a significant environmental footprint when manufactured in huge quantities to meet the needs of the clothing industry. “This crop accounts for a quarter of all pesticides used in the United States, the largest exporter of cotton in the world, according to the USDA.” (1)
  3. Sewing Gives you Flexibility: I started to touch on this in my first point, but knowing basic sewing skills gives you the flexibility to shop where you want, but also to customize your clothes to fit your needs. How many of us have found the perfect dress only to have the straps be just a little bit too long, or the waste just a little bit too low? Being able to master some basic sewing skills gives you the flexibility to customize your clothes to fit your body so that you always look like your clothes were made just for you!
  4. Sewing Saves you Time: I think that it is a common misconception that it is faster to have someone sew for you. Sure, if it is a big project and you aren’t an expert in the end it may be faster, but for a basic alteration nothing beats doing it yourself. The closes seamstress to me is about 5 minutes away, I would then have to try on the clothes, have her pin them, take them off, get dresses, and check out with her, wait a few days, pick the clothes us, try them on again, pay and drive home. That is a lot of time! I can usually hem a skirt from start to finish in less than 30 minutes at home. That is a lot of time saved!

So, now that we have touched on why basic sewing skills are important how do you get started? Below I have listed links to the basic sewing tools I own and recommend as well as a few resources to help you learn the basic skills you’ll need to reap these four benefits listed below! Good luck and happy sewing!


Sewing Machine: Singer Sew Mate (I love this sewing machine)

Basic thread Set


Measuring Tape



Online Sewing Lessons


E- Book: Sewing 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction [Kindle Edition]


7 Fruit Infused Water Recipes

Watermelon Mint Water

A quick Google search of the phrase “most popular drinks in America” reveals the not-so-surprising fact that we are outnumbered. According to this source 4 out of the top 5 most popular beverages include milk, beer, coffee, and soda, all of which are obviously off limits to those of us following the AIP diet and still mostly off limits for those following the paleo diet.

Drink options on the AIP diet basically include herbal teas, fermented beverages such as kombucha, seltzer water, regular water and a few other options in moderation. Obviously, water is a great choice, but let’s be honest, in a world full of every flavor sodas, lattés, and energy drinks, water just gets boring sometimes.

That is why I like to add a little surprise to my water and infuse it! When I first started doing this I was surprised by how strong the flavor really becomes. This is a great way to customize your water and add a little variety to your life! Which really gives you the upper hand in terms of beverage selection because when was the last time your neighbor got to customize his favorite soda?… take that high fructose corn syrup junkies! ;)

Here are a few of my favorite infused water recipes, as well as a round up of some from across the web!

Strawberry Limeade:

Per 16 oz of Water

citrus-herb-water-       2-4 strawberries

-       2 lime slices

Ginger Mint:

Per 16 oz of Water

-       2-3 TBS of fresh ginger diced

-       4 mint leaves

Watermelon Mint:

Per 16 oz of Water

-       ¼ cup of watermelon chunks

-       4 mint leaves


Check Out These Recipes from Other Bloggers:

Cherry Cucumber Limeade

Peppermint Peach

Citrus Mint Herbal Lemon Water

Homemade Vitamin Water



Fermented Spiced Watermelon Rinds

Fermented Spiced Watermelon Rinds

I have talked a bit in the past about the benefits of probiotics, however I have been amazed to learn how specifically important probiotics are to those of us with autoimmune disorders. Research on probiotics is still in its infancy, but already the findings are amazing. In fact, certain strains of probiotics have already been shown to reduce inflammation, decrease intestinal inflammation, and modulate the immune system to keep it from becoming over-active. (1)

So, how do we take full advantage of these helpful little bacteria? Supplements are a great start, but fermented foods are where its at! While a big piece of going AIP is eliminating certain foods it is almost equally as important to add in healing foods, such as probiotic drinks and fermented fruits and vegetables. The benefits of eating fermented foods on top of taking a probiotic supplement are largely based on the concept of variety. Fermented foods contain a slightly different type of bacteria with every batch, and while supplements usually contain anywhere from one to nine strains of bacteria, analysis of different fermentations of sauerkraut yielded a total of 686 strains of probiotic bacteria (1).

Honestly, this is an area that is taking me longer to embrace. I did start making my own kombucha over the winter and that has become a regular part of my routine, but outside of that I haven’t tried much fermentation. We’ve been enjoying some wonderful watermelon this summer and one day I decided that I really didn’t want to waste all of the rind. I researched fermenting it and came up with this recipe. They do not taste anything like you may expect. They are salty at first, from the brine, but end up being delightfully crisp and tangy with a little hint of spice. This was a super fun and inexpensive way to start experimenting with fermentation. I highly recommend giving it a try this summer!


Fermented Spiced Watermelon Rinds Recipe:

Fermented Spiced Watermelon RindsIngredients:

-       rind from one watermelon

-       sea salt

-       filtered water

-       cinnamon sticks

-       cloves


Cut away the pink and green parts of the watermelon leaving only the white inner rind. Cut this into one inch chunks. In a medium bowl make a brine of 2 TBS of sea salt to one quart of water. Make as much as you need following this ratio. Place you watermelon chunks into your mason jars, along with 1 cinnamon stick and about ½ TSP of whole cloves. Cover with brine leaving about an inch of room at the top of the jars. Cover and allow them to sit and ferment for 1-3 days at room temperature. During this time you may need to burp the jars occasionally to release some of the gas build up. Do this by slightly loosening the lid or canning ring on your jars, listening a hiss of gas escaping, and tighten the lid again. When they are done, transfer them to the fridge. They should keep for months.

Citation: (1) Ballantyne, Sarah. The paleo approach: reverse autoimmune disease and heal your body. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing Inc. , 2013. Print. 

Strawberry Lemonade Kombucha

Strawberry Lemonade Kombucha

We love lemonade in this house, especially my hubby. Growing up in the south lemonade is a staple at all events and in almost every house. When I was younger I loved starting lemonade stands, we lived in a neighborhood so our wonderful neighbors would always stop by and pay $0.25 for a dixie cup of lemonade.

throwback This love of lemonade led me to want to combine this southern classic with my current nourishing summer beverage, kombucha. This recipe is super simple and basically adds a burst of lemon to my strawberry kombucha recipe. It is perfect for summer and I am definitely looking forward to having a nice tall glass this weekend for the fourth of July!



Strawberry Lemonade Kombucha Ingredients:

2 qts of water

1 cup of sugar

8 green tea bags

½ cup of chopped strawberries

1 lemon sliced



Follow the basic instructions for brewing kombucha found here. When it comes time to flavor and have you second ferment add in your strawberries and lemons and let sit in a closed mason jar of airlock bottle for 2 to 3 days. Then cool and enjoy!