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Tips for Immortality

Tips for Immortality

Why You Should Throw Out Your Air Fresheners – From a Self Professed Scentophile

March 20, 2018

A few weeks ago I did something kind of scary; I, a born and bred Miamian with cafecito and humidity in my bloodstream, went to snow-covered Vermont in the deepest part of winter. I expected to experience a forested mountainside blanketed in snow but also I encountered something else I would have never expected…breathing!!

I’ve had asthma on and off throughout my life and while it’s not life-threatening it’s definitely a constant discomfort when something triggers that lung-constricting feeling that burdens my breathing and makes me hope my inhaler is near. While I hate the feeling, I figured using my inhaler once or twice a week was just my life and thus something I’d have to contend with basically forever. 

Then I spent a month in a cabin in the woods of Vermont and realized, even though I was sharing the space with 4 long haired pets, a good deal of dust and a few other major asthma triggers, my inhaler was practically untouched for the entire trip. The whole month. Just 1 use out of my normal 5-8 uses a month. 

That one use was what made me realize how environmentally dependant asthma is. I lit up a scented candle and had it on the table near me; something I’d done a million times before, yet this time I felt my lungs reacting in slow motion, that chest-tightening feeling rising up in me once again. My reaction to this candle was the difference between night and day compared to all this free and easy breathing I’d been doing.

Suddenly everything was so obvious; the air quality on a forested mountainside in Vermont felt like freshly cleaned white linen compared to the air of a traffic-filled city like Miami. The house I was staying in had a total of 0 air freshening products, save for that one candle, which immediately triggered my asthma, but my own house had an assortment of air fresheners in basically every room, plus I love lighting incense as well. I realized that the bulk of my allergies and breathing issues were environmental, not just biological. 

The minute I realized labored breathing and allergies weren’t just my burden in life, they were actually my body’s natural response to dirty air and products filled with harsh chemicals to create artificial scents, I couldn’t wait to get home and completely rid my house of all these toxins. 

Just as I had thought, removing as many artificially scented things as was possible (you’ll find artificial fragrance in things you would never expect once you start looking) improved my asthma symptoms almost immediately. Within a few days of opening my windows and letting any built up artificial scents filter out, my breathing felt less constricted. Breathing more easily after removing certain items from your space is the most bright and clear sign that those things are harmful. 

The Science Behind The Spite

No, I don’t just irrationally hate air fresheners, although I do really, really hate them. It just pisses me off that companies will use ingredients in their products that are proven to be detrimental to people (i.e. their customers!!) and actually charge us to be poisoned. Yes, I’m mad about it, but here’s the less angry sounding more science sounding reasons for my anger towards air fresheners.

  • Air fresheners don’t get rid of smells; they just mask them with artificial fragrance or by interfering with your ability to smell. The latter is done by coating your nasal passages with an oil film or releasing a nerve-deadening agent.
  • Known toxic chemicals that can be found in air fresheners include formaldehyde, camphor, ethanol, phenol, petroleum-based artificial fragrances (which contain their own mix of toxins) and benzyl alcohol. 
  • These chemicals can cause symptoms like headaches, rashes, dizziness, migraines, asthma attacks, mental confusion, coughing and more. Some of the substances in air fresheners are also known carcinogens and others are hormone disruptors (the latter which cause issues with obesity, diabetes, female reproduction, male reproduction, hormone-sensitive cancers in females, prostate cancer in males, thyroid, and neurodevelopment and neuroendocrine systems as well as the healthy development of a fetus).
  • Severity and triggers, as well as symptoms, vary from person to person. But when used in a confined area like a house, the intense amount of toxins in a small area can be especially problematic. Children and animals are particularly susceptible to harm from chemicals in indoor air.
  • Asthma is a major problem related to air fresheners and perfumed cleaning products. In a 2007 European study, researchers found that using air fresheners as little as once a week can raise the risk of developing asthma in adults.
  • In aerosol form, the dangers of these products are multiplied because of the micro-particles that are created of the chemicals.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council found that 12 of 14 brands of common household air fresheners contained phthalates (chemicals that are used to prolong the length of time that scented products maintain their fragrance).
  • Regular exposure to phthalates can increase your risk of experiencing endocrine, reproductive, and developmental problems. Some of the brands that tested positive for phthalates did not include phthalates on their lists of ingredients; some of these brands were even labeled as being “all-natural” and “unscented.”

According to the EPA, air freshener contains four basic ingredients: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, aerosol propellants, and p-dichlorobenzene.

Formaldehyde can cause a number of health effects including:

  • Watery eyes
  • Burning eye, nose, throat and other mucous membranes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Asthma attacks

Petroleum distillates come from petrochemical manufacturing, which contributes to air, soil, and groundwater pollution. The effects on human health include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Asthma
  • Chemical pneumonia
  • Pulmonary damage

Aerosol propellants can harm earth’s ozone layer. Likewise, they can damage human health including:

  • Increased cancer risk
  • Breathing problems
  • Development of chronic health issues

Paradichlorobenzene (p-DCB) is often found in mothballs and may cause:

  • Anemia
  • Skin Lesions
  • Liver damage
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes to the blood

So basically, air fresheners are literally made out of poison. It just kind of blows my mind that companies are selling scented poison and charging people to pollute their own air. Is there an Anti-Air Freshener bumper sticker? Because I really want like 5.

If you’re jumping to throw out all your air fresheners but love having a beautiful smelling home, don’t hesitate! I’ve often said scent is one of my favorite senses, so I’ve taken great measures in finding ways to keep my home aromatherapeutic without actually poisoning myself and others. Check out my guide for how to make your own essential oil based room spray or try to make your own homemade potpourri. These are so safe you could actually consume them and be fine; your air freshener could never.

homemade room spray

Let me know if you’ve felt any nastiness from air fresheners like I have or what you think about the production of these perfumed poisons. I’ve actually noticed that my sense of smell has become more fine-tuned since abandoning artificial fragrances; now I can’t stand how synthetic they smell!


*If you’re into holistic living, you’ll love this Ayurvedic recipe for a cozy, nightcap. If you’re more interested in environmental issues, this is perfect for you.*

Tips for Immortality

Eat Less Meat: A Starter Guide

May 20, 2015

fruits-veganWhenever someone asks me about ways to get healthy, my first response is automatic: eat less meat.  

Not only does eating less meat make a huge difference for your health, it’s easy. I’m not even saying you should never take another bite of meat from this moment on. I’m simply saying eat less meat.

The wonderful thing about your health is that any change makes a difference. If you cut meat from your diet just 3 times a week, youll still have results. Now of course there’s nothing like going all the way (where my vegans at?) but it’s important to just start. So let’s go through the basic nutrition needs and their vegetarian substitutes:

It’s just not that serious. On a western dietary pattern you’re actually more prone to over consumption of protein than the underconsumption stereotypically associated with plant based diets. Here are the top ten plant based sources of protein:

veganOther sources of protein include: peanut butter,  non-dairy milks, tofu, tempeh and dark leafy greens. Now you too can roll your eyes when someone asks “but where do you get your protein?

Surveys have shown vegetarians to be no more iron deficient than the general population, so put to rest the cliche image of non-meat eaters as sickly, pale people in want of a hamburger. Kale actually contains more iron than beef does. But let’s go to the chart:
veganVeggie Tip: you can bump up the iron in your meal by including broccoli, tomatoes or citrus fruit juices. Vitamin C enhances the way your body absorbs iron. Using cast iron cookware doesn’t hurt either.

 Vitamin B12
Another supposed obstacle to a plant based diet with another simple explanation.

You don’t need to consume animal products to get vitamin B12 anymore than you need to consume plant foods; neither naturally contain it. Only microorganisms create vitamin B12. So as long as your small intestine gets enough of certain nutrients (cobalt, calcium and protein), your body will successfully produce and absorb vitamin B12.

It’s actually animal products that are more likely to cause a deficiency by indirectly exposing you to antibiotics, which obstruct B12 absorption, along with alcohol, smoking and stress.

It doesn’t hurt to take a supplement every now and then, but just to keep things in perspective, the lifetime requirement for vitamin B12 adds up to about 1/7th the size of of an average aspirin tablet.  So don’t stress about it, lest you hinder your B12 absorption!

Vitamin D
You can get this vitamin from certain cereals, soy milk and eggs, though don’t forget it’s referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because sunlight on skin helps produce it.

Essential Fats
One food usually comes to people’s minds at the mention of omega 3 fatty acids: fish (particularly salmon)…and that’s pretty much it. Relying only on one source for an important dietary need is silly, especially when there are tons of different ways to get your omega 3s. 

Introducing a food group that’s conspicuously absent from the average non-veg diet: seeds.
vegan-omega-3Seeds are a cheaper, more efficient and easier means of keeping up with your Omega 3 and 6 needs.

I love hemp and flax seeds: just throw them on your toast, avocados, in a smoothie or in yogurt. You can’t argue against how much simpler a source of essential fats they are than buying an expensive salmon and preparing a whole meal to go along. It almost seems kind of natural doesn’t it?
You’re making an easy change that’s going to have a wonderful impact on your health and the environment too. Be proud! Now get started with my favorite recipes:

                           À la prochaine!
                              Luna Gemme

Foodophiles, Recipes, Tips for Immortality

Clear Skin Vegan Smoothie Recipe

April 29, 2015

tmb2I never saw a significant change in my skin until I started eating better, that means cutting dairy out and adding more fruits in. Clear skin is not just a result of the products you use, but what you put into your body. Start your day with a smoothie; it’s the quickest and easiest way to get fruits into your system and leaves you feeling clean and ready to keep making healthy choices throughout the day.

Berries for Beautiful Skin
A powerful fruit smoothie to rescue your skin!
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Total Time
3 min
Total Time
3 min
  1. one banana
  2. 3/4 cup strawberries
  3. 1 1/2 cup hemp milk (or almond)
  4. 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  5. 6 ice cubes
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Luna Gemme
  •  Bananas help to get rid of dark under eye circles while also helping you achieve clear skin.
  • Strawberries contain vitamin C, which helps you detox and can prevent breakouts.  Strawberries are high in antioxidants that lessen the damage caused by free radicals, like signs of aging.
  • Chia Seeds are full of vitamins, proteins and minerals that support clear skin, shiny hair and stronger nails.
  • Hemp Milk contains omega-3, vitamins A, E and B12 but what makes if great for you skin is that it’s simply not dairy. Dairy is an inflammatory food loaded with animal hormones. And what is a major cause of acne? Imbalanced hormones. Cutting out dairy is the best thing you can do for clear skin. 

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Have you noticed a difference in your skin due to diet changes? I can never stop talking about the shift to clear skin I saw after cleaning up my diet. Share your favorite type of smoothie below!

À la prochaine!
Luna Gemme

Foodophiles, Tips for Immortality

Lemon Water: Weight Loss, Clear Skin & Fewer Sick Days

March 18, 2015

Drinking lemon infused water is a great way to add a twist to your hydration while making you healthier and it has quite a lengthy list of benefits too. Not only does it add a little kick to your water, it looks lovely when served to others!Lemon-Water-Benefits

Weight Loss

Yes, drinking lemon water helps with losing weight! There are actually two factors aiding your weight loss when drinking lemon water. Because lemons are high in pectin, they help to suppress appetite so you eat/snack a little less. Pectin is also a good source of dietary fiber and has powerful antibacterial properties, though it’s important to note it’s most concentrated in the peel and pulp.  The second factor in lemon water induced weight loss is how it helps your colon. Simply put; any toxins and waste build up you eliminate translate into weight loss.

Clear Skin

I will definitely testify that drinking lemon water regularly has helped make my skin noticeably more clear.  Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is important in healing acne scars and decreasing wrinkles and blemishes. Just take a look in any skin care store and you’ll find some of the priciest products tout vitamin C as a main ingredient. You don’t need to go broke buying vitamin C infused serums…one lemon contains a sizable 44.5 mg of vitamin C. Remember, real change comes by working from the inside first when it comes to acne; blemishes are just the symptom of internal issues.

Recall anytime time you’ve looked up remedies for healthy skin and you’ll know they always begin or end with “drink lots of water!” It’s because your body uses water to flush out toxins, so without plenty of water these toxins build up and cause trouble, namely breakouts. Adding lemon to your water boosts these benefits due to lemon juice’s diuretic properties, meaning you’ll end up flushing out those toxins at a faster rate; clear skin even quicker!

recipeImmune System

Everyone knows vitamin C is helpful for fighting off colds. But lemons are also high in potassium, which nourishes brain and nerve cells. I actually fell sick for the first time this year very randomly a few mornings ago with what seemed like the flu. I wouldn’t put it all to lemon water of course, but it only took a day in bed until I was feeling better! Which is so important to me; I’m for anything that cuts short the time wasted being miserable and sick.

A Short List of Other Benefits from Lemon Water

  • Balances and maintains the pH level of your body.
  • Good source of calcium, phosphorus, citric acid and magnesium.
  • Anti-inflammatory, thus reducing pain in the joints.
  • Strengthens the liver while also keeping it balanced and as such is helpful with heartburn.
  • Helps to freshen breath and fight gingivitis.
  • Maintains eye health and works against eye issues.
  • Aids in digestion by loosening toxins from the digestive tract.

recipeThere really is no reason not to infuse your water with lemon, so give it a try! I prefer to use a large dispenser so I can soak lemon slices in the water and have it pre-made, but it’s super easy just to make it a cup at a time too. Just make sure you soak the uncut lemons first to remove any pesticides or buy organic. You may also want to experiment with adding in other citrus fruits like limes and oranges for similar benefits. Feel free to share some of your mixtures below. Lemon water is one of my favorite drinks; it’s a minimalist mixture that just tastes like it’s doing your body good. Have you felt any benefits from drinking lemon infused water yourself?

 À la prochaine!
Salomé Luna Gemme