Mother Earth Living

Natural Health

Better living through nature

Add to My MSN



Tongue scraping is the Ayurvedic oral care practice that helps to remove bacteria, food debris, toxins and dead cells from the tongue’s surface. When our flora is balanced, these bacteria that live on the tongue help protect against oral health issues. Clinical studies have confirmed that using a tongue scraper on a daily basis reduces the bacteria that cause bad breath.

I scrape my tongue every day upon rising religiously. Why?

• When you sleep your body works hard to detox your entire system. Your digestive system pushes toxins to the top of your tongue, kindly asking you to take out the trash, meaning scrape the gunk off. You don’t want to re-ingest it! Scraping first thing in the morning clears the toxins improving your over all health and immune system.

• Things taste way better with a clean tongue.

• It really does keep breath smelling fresh!

tongue scrapers
Banyan Botanicals stainless tongue scraper (left) and Dr. Tungs scraper (right). Photo by Shar Veda.

I forgot my Banyan Botanicals ($8) tongue scraper last week on my trip to southern California to visit my cousin. After the second day, I could not stand the way my mouth tasted without scraping in the morning. Yuck! So I bought a Dr. Tungs ($7) scraper at Whole Foods.

The Dr. Tungs scraper, featured here with pink handles, cut my tongue on the first go—ouch! It’s much sharper and fatter than Banyan’s streamlined stainless steel scraper.  Although Banyan Botanicals’ scraper is a little more expensive, it is well worth the extra money spent.

Shar VedaShar Veda is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, Yoga Therapist, and herbalist living in Ashland, Oregon. She works with at risk teen-aged girls and offers compassionate health and lifestyle counseling anywhere in the world via Skype and or the good old-fashioned telephone. Shar has had the great gift of studying with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for nearly 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook!



Not everyone who works out wants to spend more time at the gym if they can help it, which means that you have to pinpoint some smart ways to get the most out of every visit and hone your exercise routine for top results in the shortest time possible. If you learn the secrets of savvy workouts, it is perfectly possible to create a highly effective and efficient exercise routine which could take just thirty minutes, a few times a week.

The issue that many regular gym attendees have to contend with is that it's easy for your progress to plateau. When that happens, you may not get the results you're used to, which is why you may want to shake things up and work to boost the effectiveness of your routine. Please note, the tips and suggestions here are given based on the assumption that you already have an established workout routine and aren't diving in at the deep end. As you will know, fitness levels take time to rise and you have to build up your training regimen. Avoid trying to do too much too soon.


Limit Workout Time

It might go against conventional thinking to suggest that spending less time at the gym for each workout session might improve your fitness levels, but after about 30 minutes of solid exercise the benefits of continuing start to diminish.

If you are spending more than 30 minutes working out, it’s likely that the intensity of your workout will be lower. Instead, try to work at a higher level of intensity for a shorter period of time.

Interval Intensity

If you‘re a regular at the gym, you’ve probably memorized your treadmill workout. At this point you may not be challenging your body as much as you used to during those familiar high-intensity spurts such as a sprint routine.

If you’re not finding the workout as exhausting, or difficult, as it used to be, mix things up by extending those intense intervals, increasing your speed and even shortening your recovery period in order to challenge your body once again.

Raise the Bar

The same scenario applies to strength training. You need to keep challenging your muscles when it comes to the amount of weight you are lifting.

As your strength improves, performing reps becomes easier and this often means that it takes longer to exhaust the muscles you’re targeting. If you aren’t feeling the fatigue after 10 reps like you used to, raise the bar and go with a heavier dumbbell. Heavier weights will decrease the amount of time you spend on weights, but if you don’t feel you’re ready to increase in weight, add more reps at the lower weight to continue challenging muscles.


Add Compound Exercises

If your current workout involves isolated muscle exercises like bicep curls, a great way to maximize your efficiency and reduce your workout time is to add a few compound exercises. These exercises target multiple muscle groups at the same time, so with a just a few of the right moves you could actually get a full-body workout in half the time.

Some great compound exercises that are worth incorporating into your routine include:

• Deadlifts
• Lunges
• Push-ups
• Squats
• Pull-ups
• Dips

Change Your Routine Regularly

If you stick to the same workout routine for any period of time, your body will start to adjust to the stress level. When that happens you won’t be getting as effective of a workout as you could be, or once did.

Mix up your routine to keep your body and mind interested in the task ahead. For strength training, look to change your routine about every couple of weeks. As for cardio, it is often better to cross-train rather than only running for every workout.

More Effective Circuits

There’s a common mistake when it comes to circuits: Many people tend to do multiple sets of the same exercise without a rest period between sets.

The problem with this approach? It doesn’t allow a sufficient recovery period for your muscles, which means that your workout isn’t as effective as it could be.

Try a different approach which involves doing multiple exercises in each set. This will enable you to achieve a more effective circuit where you don’t necessarily rest between exercises, but do give each muscle group a rest and take a small break between sets.

The end result is that you will get a great cardio workout while also doing your strength training, which will definitely boost the effectiveness and efficiency of your regular workout routine.

Lisa B. Sims is a fitness coach. She loves sharing her insights with others by posting online. Her articles appear mostly on health and fitness websites.


Diethanolamine (DEA) and DEA-related ingredients are suspected of human carcinogenic activity, according to the European Commission, which prohibits their use in cosmetics. This group of chemicals is used as emulsifiers, foaming agents and pH-adjustors in products such as soaps, shampoos, eyeliners, mascaras, foundations, sunscreens and more. DEA and its relatives have been associated with cancer in rodents when used topically, according to the National Toxicology Program. Once they make their way into product formulations, these substances can also lead to the formation of powerful carcinogens known as nitrosamines—impurities you won’t find on any ingredient list—which form as the DEA breaks down and combines with other ingredients, such as preservatives. Ingredients related to DEA may be listed as: cocamide DEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA-oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, monoethanolamine (MEA), cocamide MEA, linoleamide MEA, stearamide MEA, triethanolamine (TEA), TEA-lauryl sulfate.

Photo by Fotolia

Fun Facts

• 1,378 ingredients banned from cosmetics in Europe by the EU Cosmetics Directive
• 11 ingredients banned from cosmetics in the U.S. by the FDA

Skin Deep app
Photo courtesy Environmental Working Group

Buy Better

Avoiding products loaded with undesirable chemicals can be tricky, but this app for your phone can help you shop smarter. The Skin Deep app from the Environmental Working Group can make shopping for healthier personal-care products easier. While shopping, you can look up personal-care products or ingredients in its searchable database of more than 68,000 products and nearly 9,000 ingredients. Keep all the information you need at your fingertips to easily and confidently select personal-care products that you can feel good about putting on your body. Skin Deep, free app for iPhones and Androids


A runner’s diet is an essential part of ongoing training and upkeep in order to promote health, stamina and strength necessary to continue peak performance. While some may choose to steer clear of organic meals, runners are among the many that understand how delicious organic foods can be when prepared in some great-tasting recipes. Here, I break down the best health-boosting organic foods for runners.

Banana Ice Cream 

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables play a two-part role in the healthy lifestyle of a runner: They assist in preparing the body for running and help replenish essential vitamins after a strenuous workout. Some types of organic vegetables and fruits stand out in particular, whether you’re a novice or professional.

Bananas take the top spot for healthy fruits, as they’re not only high in potassium but also fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. In addition, bananas can assist in balancing electrolytes, acting as a natural sports drink. Some other great ways to add bananas to your daily diet include fruit-packed smoothies or following simple recipes for treats such as this organic banana ice cream recipe.

Leafy greens, such as kale and sweet potatoes, rank high among runners for their health benefits. Salad greens replenish fiber, calcium and vitamins A and C. Kale in particular also contains vitamin K, antioxidants and folate, which promotes good circulation. There are so many organic ways to prepare delicious meals using sweet potatoes, from pies to fries, and the health benefits for runners are tremendous. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, potassium and antioxidants. They’re also packed with good carbohydrates. Keep the skins on for the best nutritional benefits.

Spinach And Quinoa Salad

Whole Grains

While carbohydrates often get a bad name among dieters, it’s not carbohydrates in general that are part of an unhealthy diet. Rather, it’s important to distinguish the good from the bad. While empty carbohydrates found in junk food do nothing for the body, carb loading with good foods is popular among runners. Whole grains such as quinoa and black rice are excellent choices in meals, but it’s recommended that runners eat these complex carbohydrates after a run so as not to place too much strain on their digestive system while exercising. Quinoa specifically is a popular choice among vegetarian runners and contains nine amino acids. Prepare black rice as either the popular sticky black rice dish or the Malaysian dessert pulut hitam.

Grilled Salmon


Protein is the building block of muscles. Because running can easily break down the essential tools of the body, protein is an important part of a runner’s diet. Lean meats, such as lean beef, are best, but your protein list should also include eggs and nuts for better flavor and more choices. When choosing organic foods, runners should assure no antibiotics or other unnatural processes were done to the animals or to the finished products. Vegetarian runners can still enjoy protein via non-meat sources, such as vitamin-packed lentils. Another great source of protein is salmon, which provides the runner with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Salmon also keeps bones healthy and provide an energy boost whenever needed.

Lene has been running since she was 12. Her passion is on helping runners get the best nutrition from organic diet in all levels of training. With a fellow runner, she now works on her website, Running Info Guide.


Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes just the simple smell of bread baking in the oven or the sound of children laughing can trigger vivid memories of something that happened to you many years before, and with such detail that you’re amazed by your powers of recollection. Then you start looking for the keys that you put down somewhere just five minutes ago and they’ve vanished, leading to hours of fruitless searching before you realize you left them in the door. Equal parts endlessly amazing and frustrating.

friends chatting

Sensory memory, that which is gleaned from our five senses, is the most short-term form of memory. The amount of time between the information being captured and processed and when it can be retrieved and used is only mere seconds to minutes. The areas of sensory memory that have been most keenly studied by researchers are iconic, or visual input, and echoic, or auditory input.

We all know that the eye is one of the most complex parts of our body, but as anyone who’s spoken to a specialist hearing organization such as Hidden Hearing will be aware, the workings of the ear are also extremely elaborate. Any damage to the ear and how it performs can have an effect on echoic memory.

So, what exactly is echoic memory and what does it even do? Essentially, it’s the way that the brain replicates a sound as its received—someone coughing nearby, a word said during conversation, a car backfiring—and retains it for a very short period, usually only 2-4 seconds. The easiest way to understand how it works is this: If you're talking to someone and you miss what they’ve just said and are about to ask them to repeat it, but suddenly you recall it. This happens because you're able to access your brain’s interpretation of it.

Basically, it gives you time to think! The brain takes these copies unbidden, and the most amazing part is that it sorts all of the sounds we pick up, during every moment of the day, and automatically filters them into what is of importance and should be retained in the short-term memory, and what can simply be discarded.

This knowledge was the result of experiments conducted by Ulric Neisser as recently as the late 1960s, and has since been expanded on so that, for instance, we know the span of our echoic memory lengthens as we get older.

Our short-term memories degrade rapidly, so if you do miss something someone says at a party and you’re distracted and unable to instantly recall what was said, chances are that you’re going to need to ask them to say it again. But echoic memory can also be distorted by other events, such as a stroke which damages the brain. Thus if a victim is shown a list of four single-digit numbers they may still be able to recall them perfectly, but if the numbers are spoken, they would be unable to recall them at all.

Similarly, if we suffer from hearing loss as a result of the natural aging process, regular exposure to excessive noise or infection, then that will have a negative effect on the amount of sounds that our brains are able to record and process. 

Echoic memory is a vital brain function that serves us well in our daily lives, and the loss of it can cause major problems. Luckily, we can take steps to guard against such problems. Simple health maintenance like keeping blood pressure down, quitting smoking, having hearing checked regularly by specialists and wearing ear protection if you're going to be somewhere noisy for prolonged periods can all greatly reduce the risk of hearing loss, or health problems that could contribute to hearing loss.


We all experience feelings of anxiety, to varying degrees, throughout life. Whether it’s stress from work, school or myriad other life obligations, this response is part of our inherent “fight or flight” mechanism. For some, anxious feelings and symptoms can become so overwhelming and persistent that they begin to disrupt normal life. If you find yourself experiencing spells of anxiety, try incorporating the following four easy-to-grow anti-anxiety herbs into your daily routine.


Valerian is one of the best herbs for bringing down fear & worry based anxiety (excess Air) in a person as it contains much of the Earth element and is thereby very grounding. A sedative and nervine (tonic for the nervous system), warming valerian cleanses toxins from the colon, blood, joints, and nerves—everywhere that air hides! It calms muscle spasms, menstrual cramping and can help alleviate insomnia. Take it as a strong tea or decoction by boiling and straining it. Valerian was named Phu, by first century Greek physician Dioscorides, because it has a funny smell. The taste and smell of an herb is part of the medicinal value, as it tells your body what to do and how. Potent valerian will attract bees, butterflies and birds to your garden.

Chinese skullcap 

Skullcap is a sedative and nervine that works on the nervous and circulatory systems by bringing heat in the body down. It is a superb herb for cooling down hot emotions like anger, jealousy, and burning desire. So while valerian alleviates anxiety and insomnia due to cold emotions like fear and grief, skullcap should be used in the same manner for insomnia due to hot emotions like anger, jealousy, and desire. It has nice light flavor.

catnip, aka catmint 

Catnip isn’t just for cats! A cooling member of the mint family, catnip is also a mild sedative and digestive aid. It is great for children and adults who can’t or won’t quiet down! Catnip is pleasant tasting and does well in iced or hot tea with raw honey. Try swapping out traditional black or green teas for catnip. If you don’t want to wait until it grows, Alvita makes a great catnip tea that is very convenient, you can find it in the tea aisle at most natural food stores. Like all plants in the mint family, catnip is very easy to grow.

lemon balm, aka Melissa 

Lemon balm, aka Melissa, is another member of the mint family. It has a pleasant lemony aroma and is used primarily for nervous stomach (gas, bloating) and nervous skin (cold sores/herpes). Lemon balm is used too to promote mental clarity, concentration and relaxation. I love blending lemon balm with, her sister, catnip in the summer for refreshing iced tea! It is easy to maintain and will help keep the bugs at bay.

Grow and cultivate any of these herbs in your personal garden. Be wary of planting catnip, lemon balm or anything from the mint family with other crops, as they have a tendency to take over garden plots. Gardening itself is great exercise and many anxiety sufferers are calmed by it—a win-win. Let me know how it goes!

Shar VedaShar Veda is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, Yoga Therapist, and herbalist living in Ashland, Oregon. She works with at risk teen-aged girls and offers compassionate health and lifestyle counseling anywhere in the world via Skype and or the good old-fashioned telephone. Shar has had the great gift of studying with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for nearly 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook!


We tracked down everything from alarm clocks and the latest apps to all-natural supplements that may help you sleep more soundly.

Earthsake Pillow 

Rest Your Head

Earthsake’s Natural Latex Contour Pillow helps support and align the neck and spine sans formaldehyde (often used in conventional foam pillows).
To Buy: $99, Earthsake

Wake-Up Light 

Wake Up Happy

Encourage the body’s circadian rhythms (which help regulate sleep/wake cycles) with the Philips HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light.
To Buy: $70, Amazon

f.lux app

In Sync

The f.lux app changes the spectrum of light coming from your phone or tablet to
correspond with the time of day—and your circadian rhythm.
To Buy: Free, f.lux

Healthy Sleep Supplement

System Support

Maintain melatonin, GABA (a neurotransmitter) and serotonin to promote healthful sleep and manage anxiety with NeuroScience Kavinace Ultra PM.
To Buy: $50, PureFormulas

Pillow Mist

Misty Morning

Drift off to dreamland with Earth Therapeutics Dream Zone Pillow Mist, scented with lavender, valerian, geranium and bergamot.
To Buy: $9, Ulta

Learn more about the importance of healthy sleep in The Power of Sleep.

Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.