Mother Earth Living

Natural Health

Better living through nature

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As spring begins and summer quickly approaches, many of us are looking for a refreshing, sweet treat to help boost our immune systems and stay healthy during peak vacation season. One of earth’s best, not so hidden, little secrets is found in the form of a flavorful berry that provides the antioxidants to promote immune support and help contribute to year round health.

For centuries, elderberries have been used to support wellness. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates was particularly fond of the tiny berry for its potent antioxidant qualities and the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that elderberries may help maintain healthy sinuses and nasal function.  Today, the effects of the elderberry spans continental divides with North American, European, Asian, and African cultures utilizing them for their overall health and wellness benefits.

Due to its pleasant taste and health-promoting qualities, elderberry is found in several widely accessible wellness products. Elderberries contain vitamins A, B, and C, which help support your immune system.  Additionally, the tiny berry’s extract acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free radicals and supporting the immune system.

Enhancing the immune system has a wide range of benefits. While many of us focus on immune support during the winter, it is just as important to keep our immune systems healthy during the warmer months as millions of people across the world travel and hit the road for family vacations and summer activities.

Whether in the form of an immune-boosting vitamin or a tasty drink mix, the nutrients found in elderberries support a strong immune system so we can stay healthy while doing the activities we love.

Bret Furio is the CEO of Zarbee’s NaturalsTM , a whole family wellness company with a commitment to providing consumers with simple, handpicked, quality ingredients to support family health & wellness.  Zarbee’s uses clinical evidence to identify ingredients, and strives to avoid many unwanted additives, components or fillers, resulting in wholesome, safe, and effective options for the entire family.


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Do you worry a lot? Join the club. It’s part of the human genetic makeup, because it can boost chances of survival. Anxiety is more than a feeling — it’s rooted in brain activity. Because anxiety is a natural body process, you can take steps to decrease anxiety levels. Many natural methods provide significant benefits. Here are my favorite.

Tea for You

A nice soothing cup of chamomile tea three times a day seems to reduce anxiety. Research from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found benefits over eight weeks. However, people who are sensitive to chamomile’s plant family could develop allergy symptoms. Therefore, the treatment might not be a good choice if you’re allergic to plants such as ragweed, marigolds, daisies and chrysanthemums.

Humor Rumor

Is laughter the best medicine? It helps. Laughter is scientifically proven to lessen anxiety. Laughing — even when it’s forced — releases the brain chemical dopamine, which affects pleasure sensations. Look for ways to add some chuckles to your life, such as funny books, podcasts, TV shows or movies. You can even put a laugh track app on your phone.

Air Care

Belly breathing eases anxious feelings. To practice, put one hand on your stomach, and the other on your chest. Exhale slowly and fully, then pause for a couple of seconds. Push out your stomach, and then slowly breathe in through your nose. Pause when you feel comfortably full of air. Exhale through your mouth, pulling in your stomach. After a slight pause, repeat the process.

Hydrate Date

Make sure you take in sufficient water throughout the day. Your body is seven-tenths water, so you’re stressing it if you’re not well hydrated. The “eight cups of water a day” is outmoded. New research indicates that the best way to make sure you’re getting enough water is to drink it when you’re thirsty. Also, sip a beverage — preferably water — at each meal.

Mood Food

Eating a balanced diet helps your body handle stress. Limit processed foods and sugar. Reach for a variety of natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain foods, dried peas and beans, and nuts. Include protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t skip meals — it reduces your chances of getting enough vitamins and minerals.

Wean from Caffeine

Too much caffeine makes most people jittery. When you’re feeling anxious, you don’t need to compound the symptoms. A cup of tea or coffee in the morning is fine, but, after that, avoid anything caffeinated. Anxiety often leads to sleep issues, and caffeine adds to the problem.

Deep Sleep

Stress increases your body’s need for sleep. Seven to nine hours is optimal. When you’re not properly rested, the part of your brain associated with processing emotions is activated. Increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep by having the same wake time and bedtime every day. Keep your room cool and very dark. Take a hot bath or do some gentle stretches. Many people sleep better if they avoid electronics within an hour of trying to sleep.

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Ties to Exercise

Exercise relieves anxiety through short-term and long-term positive effects on brain chemistry. Exercising regularly boosts self-esteem and improves sleep. It’s also good for your health, and concerns about well-being are a common source of anxiety. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do — just make sure you’re moving. Walking, yoga, running, biking, dancing bowling, badminton — you have plenty of options, so choose one you like so you’ll keep at it.

Snack Attack

Even if you’re eating a healthy diet, hunger can trigger anxiety. To compound matters, anxiety causes blood sugar to drop. If it’s not close to mealtime, get back on track with a healthy snack. For example, try a serving of:

• Walnuts
• Dark chocolate
• Berries (any type is fine)
• Avocado
• Cashews
• Oatmeal
• Orange slices
• Pair your snack with a glass of water or a cup of chamomile tea.

Bright Light

Sunshine gives you vitamin D, which reduces symptoms of anxiety. Just a 15-minute walk is enough exposure to make a difference. Plus, you’re adding exercise: another benefit. Any sun is better than no sun, but researchers in Japan found that walks in natural surroundings reduce stress levels better than catching some rays in urban areas.

Meditation Causation

Mindful meditation brings people into the present moment with curiosity but not judgment. To begin, sit comfortably using good posture. Either a chair or the floor is fine. Add a cushion or blanket, if necessary. Focus on inhaling and exhaling slowly. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing. Need help getting started? Download guided meditation sessions.

Heat Treatment

Warming up the body is a great way to relax muscles and de-stress. Besides feeling good, warmth may affect parts of the brain that govern moods. Sit by a fire with a cup of hot tea. Use a sauna or steam room. Rest in a warm bath or hot tub. Spend a few minutes sitting in the sun, and you’ll get some vitamin D at the same time.

Feelings of anxiety run from unpleasant to crippling, and anxiety can lead to depression or even addiction problems. Though you may feel helpless, you’re not. Many natural approaches help reduce these negative feelings. Some are remarkably easy, like sipping decaf tea or taking a bath. All are simple enough for you to do on your own to help put you back in control of your life.  


Workout Party

Combine the fun and support of small group workouts with the convenience of at-home fitness by hosting a workout party.

1. Make sure there’s plenty of room. Pick a spot that will allow everyone to move around freely, without accidentally poking neighbors with a wayward elbow. If needed, clear a room of furniture or head outdoors to make sure everyone has the space they need.

2. Choose an appropriate workout for everyone. Does your group want to stretch and gain balance? Build muscle or burn calories? Get an idea of what kind of exercise and intensity guests prefer. Check out the useful apps and home programs above — many offer customizable options for a variety of fitness levels. Another benefit of a group? More experienced friends can help others.

3. Create a kid-friendly area. Home workouts are great for parents. If your group includes parents, encourage them to bring children along, and make a space for younger guests to play while the grown-ups burn calories.

4. Set up a post-workout recovery bar. Plan snacks and drinks to replenish your group post-workout. Make a pitcher of infused water with fruit or herbs, or assemble a make-your-own smoothie station. Protein-packed snacks such as roasted nuts are another good option. Find an easy recipe: motherearth

5. Make it a regular event. Consider turning your workout party into a regular get-together. Pick a day and time, and rotate houses or divide prep duties among your group. If your group feels disciplined, consider finding a structured workout plan to go through together.

Photo courtesy of iStock



Try these fitness apps and websites for inexpensive, effective workouts.

Skimble’s Workout Trainer: free to $10

Skimble’s Workout Trainer offers thousands of free individual workouts, complete with step-by-step audio and video instructions for everything from pain relief exercises to kickboxing to prenatal workouts. Multiweek workout programs cost $10 each, or you can pay a $7 monthly fee to access the app’s full range of content.

Sworkit: free

Derived from “simply work it,” the Sworkit app offers something for everyone, whether you’re a strength-training newbie or a Pilates pro. Users can create and share custom-built routines from the app’s library of over 170 exercises. The Sworkit website also includes a selection of user-built workouts that can easily be accessed online, or downloaded directly to the Sworkit app on your phone.

Pocket Yoga: $3

This app, conveniently available on tablet, phone and Apple TV platforms, acts as a portable studio. It includes adjustable intensity and session lengths, as well as detailed instructions for each pose. Pocket Yoga’s website includes a searchable glossary of yoga poses for all difficulty levels, with a range of body focus areas.

Fitness Blender: free to $15

Offering individual workout videos and multiweek workout plans, Fitness Blender is built for exploring a wide variety of workouts. The site also offers healthy recipes and short instructional videos for individual exercises such as Pilates, crunches and muscle stretches. Workout and instructional videos are free; multiweek plans range from $5 to $15, depending on length.

Gaiam exercise ball 

Bonus: Gaiam Restore Massage Therapy Kit: $20

If your goal is to release tension rather than burn calories, consider Gaiam’s home massage therapy kit. The kit comes with three massage therapy balls of differing sizes and a 25-minute DVD program of relaxing exercises. Add air with a pump to increase air pressure for a deeper massage, or keep the pressure low for a gentler approach.

Photo courtesy of Gaiam


Hooray, Spring! The sun is out and it’s warming up. Trees are blossoming and flowers are pushing out of Earth, raising their little faces to the sun. Fellow Sunbirds, it’s time to start enjoying all of our favorite outdoor activities again so let’s not let seasonal allergies keep us in. I’m moderately affected by seasonal allergies and never use meds, instead I focus on these four simple steps and they work!

coconut oil, sea salt and neti pot 

1. Use a Neti Pot 3-4 times a week.

I know so many people that try the neti pot once and it burns or they “feel like they are drowning” and they dismiss it as not for them. The main reason neti potting feels uncomfortable is that users aren’t adding enough sea salt in the water. You need more salt than you think. Here is how to use the neti pot properly.

How to Use a Neti Pot (the right way!)

Boil water. Pour water into clean neti pot. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Let it cool to room temperature. Lean over the sink. Pour saline mixture into one nostril, and clear your throat to bring it through your mouth or allow it to run out of the other nostril. Repeat on the other side. Then bend over and allow any extra water to drain from your sinuses. Blow your nose.

2. Keep your mucous membranes moisturized.

Put a little bit of pure sesame or coconut oil on your pinky and stick it up your nose! Rub the oil around inside each nostril, moisturizing the mucous membrane. It’s wise to keep your sinuses moist (just like skin) rather than drying out with medications. If the membrane dries out and cracks, bacteria, dust and pollen enter easier! In Ayurveda we call oiling in the nose Nasya, and use it to cure many ailments from congestion to insomnia.

jar of local raw honey from oregon 

3. Eat local raw honey.

When you eat local honey you are eating the local pollen from the very flowers you are allergic to which has been digested by the bees and turned into natures medicine. Over time your body will become less allergic to the pollen. (The same way homeopathy works.) Have a tablespoon of Raw Honey or more every day.

red clover tea 

4. Reduce intake of sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages.

I know, no fun!! Replace them with respiratory tonic herbs. Make a tea of elecampane, mullein, and fenugreek or buy the tinctures. I also like red clover tea for allergies and it has a nice light flavor that’s very pleasant. It’s my favorite kiddo and adult allergy tonic herbal tea to pair with raw honey. YUMMY!

Cheers to your health, now get outside and enjoy!

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 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!


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What do you look for in your daily intake of fruits and vegetables? Of the many superfruits out there, papaya is often overlooked and passed over due to the inconvenience of finding it at local stores or a lack of knowledge surrounding the fruit.

You may be surprised to learn that papaya is actually one of the best fruits you can put into your body. With its protein-digesting enzyme papain, it’s the perfect choice for improved gut health. It also provides that boost in antioxidants - specifically vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene - that you may be looking for in your fruit intake.

Maybe you already knew all this about papaya fruit, but most people don’t know about the health punch that papaya leaves as well as the seeds pack in. If you’ve eaten papaya in the past, you would probably scoop out the seeds and eat the fruit by itself, but by doing this you are missing out on the many health benefits they provide. The following are reasons why you should always eat your papaya seeds.

Liver Health

Papaya seeds have been used for centuries in Chinese medicine for improving vital functioning of the liver. Because of the cleansing benefits of papaya seeds, they can sometimes be used in people with excessive alcohol consumption.


Papaya as a whole aids in digestive health due to the powerful enzyme papain that it contains, and that goes for the seeds as well. Papaya seeds have a high amount of this enzyme, which supports a healthy digestive tract. If you’re dealing with indigestion or other well known digestive issues, a daily intake of papaya seeds can do wonders for keeping a healthy gut.


As well as aiding in every day digestion issues, papaya seeds can also help with cleansing your gut from parasites, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Similar to how papain helps digestion through breaking down undigested protein waste, it can also break down parasites and their eggs because it views them as excessive proteins and toxins. The enzyme carpaine is also present in papaya seeds, which is an anthelmintic alkaloid and known to help dispose of parasitic worms. With this said, you should still always consult a physician when fighting intestinal parasites.

There are plenty of health benefits that I could go into about papaya, but the seeds are one part of the fruit that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Many people just focus on the fruit, but there are many ways to use the leaf and seeds of the papaya for health, especially if you use them as supplements as part of a daily health regiment.

Lastly, if you’re wondering about the best way to include papaya seeds in your diet, they have an earthy taste to them so they are best used in eggs, salads, yogurts, or blended with smoothies. They can also be used as a black pepper substitute and freshly ground as such. They can be air dried for 2-3 days and then blended or you can simply pop a few in your mouth if you don’t mind the earthy taste.

So, next time you eat a papaya, save a scoop of those seeds for later. Your body will thank you.

Note: Papain, an enzyme in papaya, is safe in amounts commonly found in foods, and  is likely safe in medicinal amounts, but should not be taken in excessive doses. Papain is not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as it may cause birth defects or miscarriage. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming unripe papaya, as well as papaya seeds. Stop taking papain two weeks before scheduled surgery.


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Whether it is a drizzle in your tea or an ingredient in a DIY hair mask, honey is often characterized as “liquid gold” for its health and beauty benefits. People have long used honey as a nutrition and wellness aid, with some of the earliest evidence found in 8,000-year-old Stone Age paintings.

Centuries later, people still use honey for a variety of reasons. But today, there is sound, clinical research that shows the honey to be an effective solution to one of the biggest concerns of the winter months – soothing throats.

From skin applications to hair treatments, honey has been known as an at-home remedy with multiple uses. As a result of this general agreement on the benefits of honey, it can be found in products across the shelves of stores nationwide. But perhaps one of the most proven benefits of honey is its effectiveness at soothing throats. Compelling clinical research discloses buckwheat honey's effectiveness at calming coughs from hoarseness and soothing irritated throats. Studies show that cough frequency, severity and sleep quality for children can all be improved through the use of dark or buckwheat honey.

But not all honey is created equal, and often the composition of honey varies. In general, dark honey is much richer in nutrients than lighter-colored varieties and its sticky, viscous consistency is perfectly suited for soothing irritated throats and calming hoarseness.

In addition to its soothing properties, honey is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which help support your immune system. From children’s throat lozenges to adult supplements, people of all ages are benefit from natural honey’s numerous rich elements including amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

The evolving use of honey in everyday solutions such as multivitamins and throat soothers helps patients and children find relief in knowing and being able to pronounce the ingredients being put into their bodies.

So, next time you start to feel a tickle in your throat, head to the store and be sure to stock up on one of nature’s most versatile ingredients or seek products that contain a dark honey blend. You’ll be sure to feel its soothing powers in in no time and can feel good about what you are putting in your body.

Bret Furio is the CEO of Zarbee’s NaturalsTM , a whole family wellness company with a commitment to providing consumers with simple, handpicked, quality ingredients to support family health & wellness.  Zarbee’s uses clinical evidence to identify ingredients, and strives to avoid many unwanted additives, components or fillers, resulting in wholesome, safe, and effective options for the entire family.

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