Most of us are figuring out how harmful many of our household products are, and toothpaste is no exception. Top brands contain harmful ingredients that can contribute to a variety of illnesses.
Photo by Fotolia.
Toothpaste Ingredients to Avoid
• Sodium fluoride is used for cavity prevention and causes nausea, vomiting and even death if large amounts are swallowed.
• Triclosan is carcinogenic and is added to toothpaste for its antibacterial qualities.
• Sodium lauryl sulfate is a cleansing and foaming agent that is carcinogenic and causes skin irritation.
• Propylene glycol absorbs effortlessly into the skin and goes into our blood stream.
• Diethanolamine is another foaming agent that disrupts our hormones. Most commercial toothpastes contain all of these ingredients.
You’re probably getting pretty tired of hearing about all of the catastrophic things our environment is doing to our bodies. But there are some companies that are making toothpaste right. Natural toothpaste can be effective, healthy and taste great, all at the same time.
Many companies who sell natural toothpaste started making their products for a reason: They couldn’t find toothpaste they felt was safe for their families. They have created their products out of effective sources derived from the earth. So much of what we need in life has always been here, in a safe, pure state.
My Thoughts: Natural Toothpastes
Photo by Karyn Wofford.
David’s Premium Natural Toothpaste: With natural ingredients, recyclable packaging, no artificial flavors, no preservatives and no fluoride, David’s comes in at a rating of 1, on the Environmental Working Group’s toxicity scale. (0 is the least toxic rating, 10 is the most toxic.)
This American-made paste boasts great flavor too. 100 percent natural, USA-farmed mint oil is used to give it a super minty taste. Limestone is used to add a gentle, abrasive quality that really made my teeth feel polished. The clean feeling was long lasting as the mint oil really sticks around, keeping things fresh.
David’s takes pride in being earth friendly—“David’s is all about sustainability…sustaining our earth, our USA economy, our health…Thank you for your support and being part of the solution.”
The Natural Dentist All-In-One Toothpaste: This toothpaste is made with a combination of aloe vera and botanicals. It does contain fluoride, but they sell a fluoride-free version that uses xylitol. The EWG gives them a rating of 3.
The taste is very traditional. Mint is the dominant flavor and it isn’t too sweet. My mouth felt as clean as it did when I used regular toothpaste. If you are struggling to toss your SLS filled, mainstream toothpastes, this one is for you.
Mouth rinses are one of the main focuses of The Natural Dentist. They have a variety to choose from, including selections that soothe and heal bleeding gums. Just like the paste, I found the taste to be very pleasant. I have been using another mouth wash that actually made me a little queasy because of the sweetener in it. I didn’t have that problem with The Natural Dentist rinse.
I don’t agree with the use of fluoride in their products, but they do make sure that consumers have fluoride-free options.
Photo by Karyn Wofford.
Earthpaste: This one is probably the most unique products I came across during my research. It is pure enough to eat, it has only five ingredients, and the main ingredient is clay. Yes…clay! The clay polishes and cleanses. It is also alkaline and provides essential minerals to your teeth. With essential oils, salt, and xylitol, Earthpaste has everything you need for a healthy mouth. According to a representative from the company, after 20-25 brushings, all previous glycerin agents from unhealthy pastes are broken down, and the clay will start healing your teeth and could even heal cavities. The EWG rates it at a 1.
I had to try this stuff and was really excited to receive some samples in the mail. It was really different at first, but pleasant at the same time. The paste is grey, but smooth in texture. I felt like I did not put enough on my brush at first, because Earthpaste does not contain any foaming agents, however when I rinsed, my mouth felt incredibly clean.
Earthpaste comes in five different flavors, cinnamon, wintergreen, lemon twist, peppermint and spearmint. Lemon twist and peppermint were my favorites!
Green Beaver Toothpaste I’ll start by saying Green Beaver has incredible flavors. Cilantro mint, cinnamon, frosty mint, green apple, spearmint, star anise and zesty orange all taste ridiculously good. A fresh mint flavor is also available for anyone with sensitive teeth or gums.
It is hard to pick a favorite flavor, but frosty mint delivers that really fresh feeling most of us are looking for in a toothpaste. Sometimes, I’m in the mood for something milder, for example, when I want to brush up before a meal and the fruit flavors come in handy here.
This is another great product for those who are just converting to natural oral care products. The consistency isn’t shockingly different from any other toothpaste you’ve probably tried, but the ingredients are wholesome.
Green Beaver believes in creating products that do not harm animals, the earth, or humans. The company offers everything from oral care products to hair care products. “Green Beaver was founded on the belief that humans can live happily and healthfully off of the goodness that Mother Nature provides”—Alain Menard.
Photo via The Honest Company.
The Honest Company Toothpaste: I have tried almost every personal care product The Honest Company offers. Their toothpaste is one of my favorite things they have. Natural peppermint is used to add flavor, organic aloe and ginger create a calming effect to ease sores and abrasions, and calcium is added for enamel protection.
The EWG rates the paste at a 3 because of a coconut derived cleanser, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate. The Honest Company says that this is a natural ingredient and it has two stamps of approval from the Handbook of Green Chemicals and Whole Foods Premium Body Care. To further solidify the company’s stance that their product is pure, the Think Dirty App, an affiliate with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, rates the paste at a 0. This means according to their research, the product does not pose health risks.
So Which One Is the Best?
Each of these amazing pastes have their own strengths, many of which depend on what your personal preferences are. Is fluoride a must for you or do you think its toxic? Are you adventurous with flavors and textures? Do you have sensitive teeth or inflamed gums? Are you looking for something you and your kids will both love? Those questions should help you decide which natural toothpaste is right for you.
After trying all of them, Earthpaste came out on top for me. I love the fact that it not only cleans my teeth, but detoxes my mouth. I will probably continue buying all of the brands, and rotating. I like to keep things fresh…no pun intended.
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.
This is the time of year when we all hope to make it through the winter healthy! One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by boosting the immune system. To understand how to support our immune health and ward off illnesses, let’s take a look at the basics.
What Is Immunity?
Simply put, it’s the body’s ability to resist infection by a disease-causing agent such as a bacterium or virus.
How Can Holistic Aromatherapy Help?
Holistic aromatherapy helps by using essential oils to support the body, mind and spirit. Essential oils can help your immune system fight viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and other microbes. Many essential oils used in treating infections possess antimicrobial properties and work directly against invading microorganisms. There are also essential oils that stimulate the immune system which can boost the body’s own defenses. So this winter, consider making essential oils part of your routine to help protect your immune system and overall health during cold and flu season.
This room spray is a simple way to start using essential oils to bolster immunity.
Immune-Boosting Room Spray Recipe
• 14 drops eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus)—antibacterial, antiviral
• 10 drops orange (citrus sinensis)—antiseptic
• 6 drops tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia)—antimicrobial, bactericide, antifungal
Combine the essential oils with 4 ounces of distilled water and 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Shake well and spray in room to maintain a healthy atmosphere.
Too busy to make your own? It can be purchased already mixed with a carrier oil and ready to go. Using essential oils backed by science, Nectar Essences has a ‘super-immunity’ blend that includes antimicrobial essential oils of lemongrass, coriander, clove, thyme and red mandarin. There is also a kid and adult blend, ‘decongest immunity.’ that contains eucalyptus, cypress, silver fir, lavender, star anise and clove. Both remedies can be inhaled and applied topically, and 20 drops can be added to water for use as a room spray. Visit Nectar and use IMMUNITY15 for a 15% discount.
Wishing you a healthy and happy winter season!
Desiree Bell’s inspiration comes from botanicals and natural materials. She is a vegetarian who has a certificate in herbal studies and a certificate from Australasian College of Health Sciences in Aromatherapy. Follow her on Facebook at Beyond A Garden.
What do you think of when you think about your workspace? The harsh fluorescent lights? The recycled air? The sterile white walls that seem to close in on you over the course of the day? This is the place where you spend the majority of your waking hours. But here is a simple fact: Too much of life is spent indoors. It’s not just a statement that that looks good on a T-shirt. It’s a scientific fact. According to a recent article in the Harvard Health Letter, Americans spend 90 percent of their lives indoors. The study goes on to suggest the benefits of even a small increase in time spent outside — and these benefits aren’t just physical. They also have a positive effect on our mental well-being. Here are five ways heading outside can improve your mental health.
Photo by Depositphotos.
It Offers a New Perspective
Perhaps the biggest problem with spending so much time indoors is that it actually starts to feel like a natural environment. You can actually develop a dependency for the perceived comfort of the indoors, to the point that being outside of those familiar spots (or outside in general ) can cause a feeling of anxiety and even depression. It’s important to experience the outdoors simply as a reminder that life exists beyond the brick and mortar walls of indoor life. As humans we are born with a desire to experience the world from a variety of perspectives, and it’s important to not dull this desire by boxing yourself in.
Natural light is a natural stimulant. It increases the amount of vitamin D produced by the body, which improves liver and kidney function and can lead to a stronger immune system and higher metabolism. The Harvard study also suggests that being outside, especially when coupled with physical exercise, is physiologically and psychologically beneficial. It reactivates all five senses and returns the body and brain to an active state. If you’re the kind of person who likes to work out in a gym, you might be selling yourself short by not moving your routine outdoors.
It Requires Very Little
The Harvard study suggests that the biggest hurdle to increasing one’s exposure to the outdoors is the belief that being outside is hard, stressful work. You have the elements to contend with, and equipment to buy, and poisonous plants and animals to avoid. Ignore this hurdle. It’s just the indoors trying to keep you from finding out that there’s a great big world outside. In reality, being in nature requires very little. You’ll be surprised how far you can get with a full water bottle and a pair of comfortable boots. And remember, the first step is the hardest. The next million are easy.
It Promotes Self-Reliance
So much of life is planned and scheduled that there is very little opportunity for an experience that is truly new and unexpected. From a mental health perspective, this is a problem because it denies the brain an opportunity to be truly stimulated. Repetitious behavior creates a cycle. If you're prone to depression, this cycle can slowly wear you down like a steady stream of water across the surface of a rock. Heading outdoors breaks this cycle, and it forces you to use those parts of your brain that have typically lay dormant.
Aaron Rote is a Chicago freelance writer and poet specializing in quick wit and quick turnarounds.
In Herbs for Common Ailments, renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar offers the perfect introduction to the most effective herbal remedies that every family should have in their home medicine chest. This excerpt includes solutions and a recipe for treating earaches and infections.
Photo by Fotolia.
Earaches are infections of the inner or outer ear signified by pain, redness, and sometimes itchiness around the outer ear. Mild earaches can be readily treated at home. If the pain gets severe or is prolonged, consult a holistic health care provider or a physician.
What to Do
Hot onion packs are an old-fashioned remedy that can really work. Saute onions until soft, and then wrap the onions in a flannel cloth and apply directly to both ears (one at a time, if desired). Reheat the onions as needed. Leave the hot onion pack on for 30–45 minutes, and longer if possible.
If the ear still hurts, heat some salt in a cast-iron skillet, and when it is too hot to touch, pour it onto a dishcloth or cotton cloth. Fold carefully, being sure not to burn yourself.
Using more towels to protect against the heat, place the pack against the ear for at least 30 minutes. Treat both ears, as the ear canals are connected, and the infection can easily move back and forth. Hot salt packs work best if there is a lot of moisture and congestion in the ears. In addition to the hot packs, you can try infection-fighting oil treatments; see the recipe for garlic-mullein oil below.
Earaches are generally accompanied by a cold or flu. Treat the related symptoms, and eliminate foods that may be congesting to the eardrums, such as dairy, sugar, and citrus products (with the exception of lemons and grapefruit). And take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of echinacea tincture several times a day to activate the immune system.
Treating Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s ear is an ear infection caused by water in the eardrum. It doesn’t respond well to oil applications; in fact, oil treatments will often make it worse. Instead, combine several drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil with 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol. Shake well. Using a dropper, apply several drops in each ear. Massage the outer ear. Repeat several times daily, until symptoms subside. Hot salt packs are often helpful for swimmer’s ear.
Garlic–Mullein Flower Oil
This is a wonderful remedy for ear infections that relieves the pain and helps eliminate the infection. St. John’s Wort Oil is often added to this blend to enhance its effectiveness. The flowers of mullein are often difficult to purchase, so gather some in the summer and fall when the plant is in bloom.
• 2–3 tablespoons chopped garlic
• 2–3 tablespoons mullein flowers
• virgin olive oil
• 2–3 tablespoons St. John’s Wort Oil (optional)
Combine the garlic and mullein, and infuse in the olive oil. Add the St. John’s Wort Oil, if you’re using it. Warm the mixture only to body temperature and apply 3–4 drops in each ear. Massage the outer ear and around the base of the ear. Repeat several times daily, until symptoms subside.
Excerpted from Herbs for Common Ailments by (c) Rosemary Gladstar. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.
Since childhood I’ve struggled with motion sickness. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a car, airplane, boat, train or on a roller coaster, I will become nauseated within a matter of moments. Thankfully, there are over-the-counter medications that keep this kind of nausea at bay, but when I was diagnosed with an intolerance to corn in my early adult years, not just the food on my plate had to change, but my medications as well. This is because many medications use corn starch as their base, and even that tiny amount left me horribly ill. After discovering this, I began to look for alternatives to use on adventures with my husband.
What Is Motion Sickness?
Motion sickness happens when our inner ear senses motion that is incongruent with how we are visualizing it (i.e. how the road signs fly by our car window, or the gentle swaying of a boat, or the ever-so-slight turn of an airplane). When we sense motion differently than we’re seeing it, it can cause a sense of unease in our bodies. This sense of unease can turn into dizziness, nausea, sweating and vomiting.
To help relieve this sense of unease I use a combination of holistic and homeopathic remedies which I take throughout my travels.
One of my favorite remedies for motion sickness is ginger. This spicy root can stop and prevent nausea, and it also alleviates dizziness. You can drink it as a tea, but I prefer to eat it in crystallized chews when I’m traveling. Eating some before my travels begin and then after any meals while still in motion has been incredibly beneficial for me.
Chamomile and Spearmint Teas
I drink chamomile and spearmint as a blend, but they can be used separately if preferred. I use them throughout travel as chamomile can stop vomiting, alleviate nausea and relax the body, while spearmint can prevent and relieve dizziness and assists in digestion (an important factor when traveling). I will either bring pre-stuffed teabags with the loose-leaf herbs, or purchase a few boxes of pure chamomile and pure spearmint to use while traveling.
Hyland’s Homeopathic: Motion Sickness
This is the first homeopathic remedy I’ve taken that really worked well for me. I felt immediate and long-term relief after each dose and enjoyed how it tasted (it is a sublingual tablet that becomes sweet as it dissolves). In a single trip I used it on long drives, ferries, rollercoasters and, finally, the plane ride home, all with great success.
When in doubt use the pressure points on your wrists to alleviate motion sickness. I did this while on a plane since I couldn’t have my hot teas on hand, and trying to ingest anything (even ginger) had me gagging. You can buy wristbands that do this for you at most pharmacies, but you can easily apply the pressure yourself when in a bind.
The Stress Factor
Traveling is stressful for many, and this stress and anxiety can put a person at risk for experiencing motion sickness. Thankfully, there a few simple remedies to help relax the body and alleviate stress.
Lavender is known for its calming properties, so rubbing a bit of lavender salve into your palms, your chest or around your temples can go a long way to help you relax.
Note: Persons with scent induced headaches or olfactory sensitivities might find lavender too aromatic, and therefore a trigger. Test this remedy at home before using while traveling.
Lemon Balm Tincture
Keeping a tincture of lemon balm on hand is a must for anyone who experiences panic attacks, depression or other nervous tendencies, as it has antidepressant properties and is a nervous system tonic. Taking some before travel begins, and then more should symptoms reemerge, can help relax the body and prevent stress induced motion sickness.
Note: Before use, consult a medical professional or herbalist and always follow dosages specific to the purchased bottle as ratios of herb to alcohol may change depending on the source.
Historical Remedies: Homeopathic Calm Drops
Calm drops do just as they claim. They are a homeopathic remedy in the form of a lozenge that assists in calming the mind and, in turn, the body. When the feelings of stress and anxiety begin to creep up or overcome you, popping one of these in your mouth may bring a much needed sense of calm.
Finding the right combination of holistic and homeopathic remedies is incredibly personal, and not everyone will have the same reaction or response. Try them out to find what works best for you.
Do you have any remedies that have worked well for you? Leave a comment below to share your favorites!
With a background in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a minor in English, L. Diane is currently studying at Prairie Wise Herbal School in Leavenworth, KS with a goal of becoming a Master Herbalist. She is an avid gardener and a maker of tinctures, teas and baked goods. An aspiring author, as well, she weaves tales of fantasy, along with scarves, baby and pet blankets, and shawls on her table loom.
October is National Pet Wellness Month, which is a nationwide educational campaign sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Focusing on weight management, balanced diet, dental care, and the special needs for senior pets, the program's initiative hopes to educate the owners of approximate 50 percent of the US pet populations on the preventative measures for battling obesity, diabetes, arthritis and thyroid disease. Through preventative care, as well as weight control, pets can be on the fast track to ultimate health and fitness in no time.
Photo by Fotolia.
Dogs on the Move!
Dogs need a lot of rest, but just like humans, they also need stimulation and daily exercise. Commit to daily walks and games of fetch or tug-of-war- using durable toys like goDog® toys with Chew Guard Technology™ from Quaker Pet Group. With the soft plush, you can play fetch indoors or outdoors, so weather is never a factor.
Slow Feeding to Prevent Painful Bloat
Dogs of all sizes and breeds can put themselves at high risk for bloat, the second highest canine health risk, which can cause a great deal of stomach distress and even death. Loving Pets' Gobble Stopper™ from is a simple, convenient and highly effective solution to help prevent canine bloat by slowing your pet’s eating by as much as 500 percent. Easy to insert inside any bowl, the suctioned bone shaped insert is removed easily by owners via the easy-lift tab, but impossible for your dog. A cinch to clean, Gobble Stopper is dishwasher safe and made from BPA-free plastic.
In addition to committing to a more active lifestyle with your pet, a healthy diet is also of utmost importance. It is not just limiting the quantity of your pet's food that is helpful, but choosing a food that it rich in nutrients and quality ingredients.
Help make good choices for your pet and promote health from the inside out with American- made and -sourced Evanger's Pet Foods, for dogs and cats. With premium pure game meats like lean Buffalo and their best-selling Hunk of Beef, they also offer new Premium Dinners that feature Spinach and Kale.
By choosing wholesome treats for your pet, such as new PUFFSTERS™ Air-Puffed Snacks or BARKSTERS™, you are rewarding your pet with low-fat, low-calorie treats with premium ingredients—never any additives or artificial ingredients. Loving Pets offers an interactive TreatFinder™ where pet owners can easily enter in criteria, allergies, preferences, etc and be matched to the perfect treat for their beloved pets.
Dr. Andy Roark DVM MS is passionate about helping educate pet owners on simple, yet important ways they can stay ahead of oral/dental challenges and keep their pet's heart healthy!
Canine dental health is a hot topic, not just because of the importance of good oral hygiene, but also because (just like humans) canine tartar control is directly tied to heart health! Regular and preventative dental care, at home, can also save pet owners hundreds of dollars in veterinary expenses because once a problem arises, it can be very costly.
The dental tartar you see slowly building up on your pet’s teeth is about 80 percent bacteria. It damages the gums, the bone beneath and the ligaments that hold teeth in place. This bacteria can get into the blood stream and infect vital organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys. And there's no question that advanced dental disease hurts; it makes pets feel sick.
Daily brushing is the best deterrent. Every pet's mouth is different, so the amount of dental maintenance needed to make sure your pet stays healthy varies among individuals and also among breeds.
Feeding a high-quality food, staying away from offering your dog table scraps, and using treats and chews that are specifically formulated to keep teeth healthy are all easy ways to support your pet’s dental health. Your vet can even recommend a diet designed for dental health.
WHIMZEES™, all-natural, vet-recommended dog chews, help to fight dangerous plaque and tartar. Available in a variety of fun shaped characters such as Alligators, Hedgehogs, Stix and Toothbrushes, WHIMZEES™ are highly digestible vegetarian treats. These all-natural dog chews not only support dental health, but the unique shape ensures proper blood flow through the gums. WHIMZEES™ have no artificial ingredients, colors, flavors, preservatives, or meat products. They’re GMO- and gluten-free, as well as high in fiber and low in calories.
In 2015, more than half of all the pets in the United States will be considered senior. Veterinarians recommend that senior pets receive special attention and care to maintain optimum health and maximum vitality. In addition to weight management and providing your pet with an ultra soft and easily digestible food made of the finest organic ingredients, such as Evanger's Senior & Weight Management Cat & Dog Food, other issues can sneak up on aging pets.
As cats and dogs age, even going potty can become more of a challenge. Achey joints and arthritis can make bathroom routines, such as stairs and inclement weather, almost impossible. Puppy Go Potty from Healthy Pet is an original indoor elimination solution that was created to ensure happiness and comfort at home to aging pups. Puppy Go Potty is made of 100 percent natural fibers, absorbs 4 times its weight in liquid, effectively controls odor, and is scented with a natural pheromone attractant.
Aging kitties can also get finicky around potty time, a new product from Healthy Pet, ökocat Soft Step, is an all-natural, 99 percent dust-free litter. Made of extra lightweight, fine wood granules that are softer on paws than other materials, which can be an issue for the discerning cat. ökocat™ Soft Step™ is a high performance clumping litter, ideal for cats of all ages, and a great choice for those concerned about transitioning to a natural litter; ökocat feels close to traditional clay litter, but without the scents, chemicals and dust of clays.
This blog is intended for informational purposes only. Mother Earth Living does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.
Crafted by Mother Earth Living contributor and herbalist Dawn Combs, this bitters formula uses balancing herbs such as dandelion, ginger and gentian to aid digestion.
To Buy: $15, Mockingbird Meadows
Arm yourself against life’s everyday stressors with this balancing blend of adaptogenic herbs, including reishi, chaga, eleuthero and schisandra.
To Buy: $15, Terra Firma Botanicals
With its immune-boosting elderberry and rest-promoting lemon balm and California poppy, this syrup is a go-to staple for cold and flu season.
To Buy: $33, Gaia Herbs
Take this herbal tonic daily to help boost energy, enhance endurance, increase cognitive function and improve overall well-being.
To Buy: $33, Urban Moonshine
Apple Cider Vinegar
Use this high-quality, raw, unpasteurized and organic vinegar when concocting your medicinal herb-vinegar blends.
To Buy: $4, Eden Foods