Have you been curious about using essential oils, but haven’t really been sure where to start? There’s a lot of information out there, and a ton of different essential oils, and it can be pretty confusing. Lavender is a great beginner oil to try, for those that are new to using essential oils. It’s gentle, has an appealing scent, and helps with relaxation and pain relief. And you don’t need fancy equipment or complicated recipes—with these five applications, you’ll be enjoying the benefits in no time.
Lavender Sleep Sachet
Lavender’s gentle, relaxing scent makes it a great sleep aid. I like to use a mix of lavender flower buds and essential oil in sleep sachets. Simply mix about 10 drops of the oil into a few tablespoons of the flower buds, and drop them into a small fabric drawstring bag, or tie them up inside of a fabric handkerchief. Tuck it into your pillow and settle in for a good night’s sleep.
I’m a big fan of diffusing oil into the bedroom at night before going to sleep, and I don’t use a plug in or candle diffuser to do it—I just put a few drops directly onto the light bulb of my bedside lamp. The heat from the light bulb will gently perfume the air while you read or relax before bed.
Lavender Drawer Liners
You might be wondering what having scented drawers does for relaxation and stress relief, but I really think that unexpected pops of calm and things that make us happy (and doesn’t the smell of lavender make most of us happy?) go a long way in helping us feel more balanced. Throw a scented liner into a sock or delicates drawer for a little whiff of a warm summer’s day, in an endless ocean of lavender can help bring you right back to center. Just add 10-20 drops of oil to a fabric handkerchief or square of cloth and tuck it into the drawer. Vintage handkerchiefs are lovely for this, and can be picked up for just a dollar or two at thrift shops or antique stores.
Lavender Hot/Cold Pack
Muscle tension is no fun, and one of the best relief methods I’ve come across is a scented warm pack laid right across my shoulders. If you’re handy you can sew one—a simple rectangular “pillow” will suffice, and I like to sew a zipper into one side so I can easily refresh the filling from time to time. But here’s a secret: If you’re not much of a seamstress or are short on time, grab a fabric pencil or cosmetics case—it will do the same job!
For the filling I prefer buckwheat hulls the best, but I promised solutions that don’t need “fancy” ingredients, so rice works just as well. Put your filling of choice and 20-30 drops of essential oil inside the bag, and warm it up. You can use a microwave for 20-30 seconds if you have one, or lay it on a steam radiator, run a hairdryer over it or wrap it in a heating pad for a few minutes. Then apply it to your sore neck, sit back and relax. And if you need a cold pack, just throw in the freezer for ten minutes or so—it’s very versatile.
Lavender Oil Roll On
All of the above uses are great when you’re trying to get some stress relief at home. But what do you do when you’re at the office, or out and about? Having a roll on of lavender essential oil saves the day. And yes, this is the one “special” piece of equipment you need, but there are so many uses for roll-on bottles that $5 spent on a dozen will be worth the price. I really appreciate the convenience factor of these little gems, but of course you can always put the oil into a small bottle and use your fingers to dab it on.
You don’t want to use straight essential oil for this, as even gentle oils like lavender is generally too strong to use directly on the skin. Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil. My favorites are almond or grapeseed oil, as they’re both gentle and don’t leave your skin feeling like an oil slick. But in a pinch you could use plain vegetable oil, though it’s a bit greasy. I’d avoid olive oil in a use like this because it has a dominant scent of its own which may overpower the lavender. Simply add 30-40 drops of lavender essential oil to the bottle, top it up with your carrier oil or choice, put the lid on, and shake to combine. Roll (or dab) on whenever you need a calming moment. This roll-on oil is great applied to the temples or pulse points for headache relief as well.
If you’re new to essential oils and need a little help with stress relief and healthy sleep patterns, lavender essential oil is just the ticket. As you learn more about the different properties and uses of other essential oils, you can certainly try them in some of these applications too—they have a variety of uses and can be a beneficial aid to a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Amanda is passionate about cooking, gardening and crafting. To read more, please check out Apartment Farm.
The aloe plant is a wonderful healing tool. If you are interested in growing herbs at home, Aloe vera is a great plant for beginners. Even when neglected, it’s virtually impossible to kill. Plus, its leaves produce an aromatic juice with a multitude of health benefits—particularly skin-soothing benefits. Keep a potted aloe plant near a windowsill on your kitchen counter, that way it’s close by to immediately treat burns or other skin irritations.
1. SOOTHE BURNED SKIN: Various studies have shown that aloe is useful in treating wounds and burns. It’s particularly great at soothing sun burns. Scoop aloe gel into an ice cube tray and freeze for several hours until hardened. To use, apply an ice cube to the affected area for about one minute, until your skin starts to feel numb and the ice cube begins to melt.
2. BANISH BRUISES: Dr. Weil recommends using aloe to treat bruises. Apply aloe gel directly onto the bruise, turn it into a lotion or cream or buy aloe lotion from your local health-food store.
3. TREAT TEETH: Naturally antifungal and antibacterial, aloe can actually treat bad breath. Thanks to the anti-inflammatory b-sitosterol, which soothes acid indigestion—a common cause of bad breath—it can help kill bad bacteria as well as fight tooth decay and gum disease. Dissolve 1/4 cup aloe gel in 1/2 cup water and drink the solution down to improve your breath and oral health.
4. HEAL ATHLETE’S FOOT: Athlete’s foot, a common fungal infection, is another condition that antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory aloe can help tackle. Mix aloe gel with a few drops of tea tree essential oil, another powerful antibacterial, to create a soothing ointment. Apply onto the affected area twice a day until the infection starts to disappear.
5. SANITIZE HANDS: Fight germs (a battle that seems especially necessary during cold and flu season) with a homemade aloe-infused hand sanitizer. In a spray bottle, combine 2 teaspoons aloe gel with 1 tablespoon witch hazel and 2 teaspoons vitamin E oil. Next, add 10 drops each lavender and tea tree essential oil, as well as enough filtered water to almost fill your spray bottle. Shake before use.
6. MAKEUP REMOVER: Gently remove your makeup with aloe gel. It’s a great alternative to oil-based removers, and is great for the delicate skin around your eyes. Soak cooled aloe gel in cotton balls to use. Alternatively, you can combine 1 cup aloe water with 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and use the same way you would a standard makeup remover.
7. SHAVING CREAM: Combined with olive oil, aloe vera makes a great shaving gel. Mix one part olive oil with three parts aloe gel. Optionally, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance. Mix well and use. Store the remaining mixture in a container with a tight-lid.
8. FACE WASH: Use aloe to create a gentle face cleanser. Mix 1/4 cup aloe gel with 2 tablespoons sweet almond (or olive) oil and 1 tablespoon castile soap. To finish, add about 20 drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance, then use as you would a normal face cleanser.
9. LIP GLOSS: Use aloe to protect and moisturize your lips. Its high moisture content is very soothing, and it feels especially great on cold sores. Keep your lips kissable with this homemade solution: Mix 1 teaspoon fresh aloe gel with 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil and 1/8 teaspoon vitamin E oil. Pour into a small, clean container and use up!
10. SKIN EXFOLIANT: Light homemade scrubs can reduce the appearance of blemishes and blackheads by sloughing away dead skin cells that clog pores. Use moisturizing aloe to make a homemade exfoliating scrub: Combine 1 tablespoon aloe gel with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. To apply, rub a dime-size amount of the mixture to your skin in upward, circular motions. Rinse and pat dry.
11. WRINKLE REPAIR: A study of women in their 40s discovered that aloe gel can significantly improve wrinkles and elasticity in photoaged human skin. Apply pure aloe gel to the affected area, or apply a mixture of aloe gel with a few drops of vitamin E oil and lavender essential oil. You can even allow the solution to soak into your face overnight, washing it off with cool water the following morning.
12. HAIR MASK: Aloe can also benefit your tresses. To hydrate your hair, mix 5 tablespoons aloe gel with 3 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons raw honey. Apply the mixture onto your hair, from root to tip. Keep it on for about 20 minutes then wash it out with a gentle shampoo.
13. DIGESTIVE AID: Apart from treating wounds, skin and hair, aloe can also boost overall wellness. Rich in a number of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids, aloe may soothe and cleanse the digestive tract. You can find aloe juice drinks for sale at your local health-food store to aid digestion.
14. IMMUNITY BOOSTER: The polysaccharides in aloe juice stimulate white blood cell activity, which fights against viruses. Drink aloe juice to also boost your immune function.
15. SUPER SMOOTHIE: Instead of buying store-bought aloe juice, use aloe to make a delicious health-benefiting smoothie. It may not be the tastiest plant on the planet, but surrounded by an array of sweet-tasting fruits it can make a delicious treat. (And with a laundry list of health benefits, it makes sense to take advantage of it via food!) Try this recipe from Healthy Smoothie Headquarters, which, in addition to aloe juice, uses almond milk, blueberries, mango, coconut oil, basil and a little bit of honey.
Gina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living, where she manages the health section of the magazine.
Keeping fit is not always easy. Commitments, work and family can all play a role in keeping us away from the gym, but as a result your health can really suffer. To combat this, I invite you to start training in martial arts in your own home. It’s a cheap alternative to other fitness methods that is not only easy to fit around your current life, but also features numerous benefits.
Help With Weight Loss
Martial arts gets you moving. It can either be slow, smooth and gentle; or rapid, energetic and vigorous. No matter which speed you prefer, over time, you’ll start to see weight loss as any physical activity will burn some calories. The great thing about martial arts is that you can begin at a level your body can handle and work your way up—improving your stamina and ability to drop those pounds.
Improve Flexibility and Reduce Muscle Tension
In our day-to-day lives, we often find ourselves sitting for long periods of time. Not only is this bad for your waistline, but also for your neck and back muscles as well as your joints. It is this sedentary lifestyle that often results in chronic back problems and tension headaches. However, martial arts can be a valuable tool when it comes to combating these issues. It is all about the movement, which highlights the need for stretching, which in turn improves flexibility. Not only does this increase muscle strength, but it helps to loosen them. That combined with the actions involved in training, such as punching and kicking, helps to alleviate problems such as tight muscles overtime. It isn’t an instant fix, but you’ll start to notice the difference soon enough.
Being able to defend yourself improves your outlook on life. It doesn’t mean you’ll be ready to fight the next person who looks at you funny, but it gives you a sense of being able to handle yourself and invites the idea of taking more risks in your life. Risks you might not have considered before. The sense of achievement you get from learning how to complete moves also inspires confidence to try other new things. After all, if you can succeed in learning a delicate skill such as martial arts, just think what else you could achieve.
For some, exercise like running is very much an enjoyable activity. For others, it’s a boring, elongated process that sucks time out of your life. So why subject yourself to this dull activity when you can do something enjoyable? Training in martial arts is exhilarating and changes daily. One day you might be practicing your kicks, the next your movement: with so many different moves to learn, it never gets repetitive. Plus, constantly battering a punching bag is one of life's simpler delights and is great for relieving the stress of a hard day’s work.
Tips for Success
One self-taught lesson isn’t going to be enough to solve your neck problems, boost your confidence or lose more than about 100 calories. To see actual success, you need to stay motivated and practice regularly. But, as many of us know, making fitness promises is far easier than keeping them. So, I have a few tips that can help you keep the training sessions going and the health benefits flowing.
First, when starting at home, I would advise you find a DVD or online course. Written tutorials might be cheaper or even free, but there is no substitute for good old fashioned visual lesson. Also, make sure you pick the martial art that is right for you. Some offer big on foot movement, others upper body, so do a bit of research before make your choice. Once you select your style, you will need to get the right equipment as to not hamper your progress. Proper gear like shorts, gloves, ankle wraps and punching bags all allow you to see real improvement, even when learning alone. Other than that, below are a few tidbits that might help you along the way:
• Train with a friend. If you train with one or more people you can influence and motivate each other. On the days you feel like sitting and eating a pizza, they’ll be there to get you into the fighting spirit.
• Take days off. The worst thing you can do is to wear down your fitness levels through sheer exhaustion. Take some rest days in between.
• Set a date. Mark the days you are going to train on your calendar. It means you can plan ahead, and make sure you have time to get into it.
• Start slow. Don’t go in all gung-ho expecting to destroy the punching bag after a few days. Ease into your training, find your rhythm and then run with it.
• Read about it. Reading up on how to perform moves will increase your knowledge of martial arts and, therefore, your ability to understand it and succeed.
George Atkinson, owner and founder of RAW MMA Fightwear, is a martial arts expert with experience in many different fighting styles.
With this February marking American Heart Health month, best-selling author and renowned nutrition expert Jonny Bowden (author of The Great Cholesterol Myth and The Great Cholesterol Myth Cookbook) emphasizes proper nutrition for optimal cardiovascular health.
Surprisingly, most women mistakenly believe that cancer is the No. 1 killer, but they’re wrong—it’s cardiovascular disease. In fact, mortality rates for women show that one out of three deaths of American women this year will be caused by heart disease or stroke. But these stats can be improved significantly.
Bowden brings a healthful dose of clarity and preventive wisdom to the table beyond the CDC’s standard recommendations for controlling risk factors, such as diet, exercise, tobacco, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Check out his tips below and please spread the word!
10 Super Heart-Health Tips from Jonny Bowden
• Reduce sugar and processed carbohydrates in the diet.
• Stop worrying about fat, including saturated fat. Two major meta-analyses in the last few years have established that saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease. However, the combination of sugar and fat is a very bad one.
• Do an oil change! Reduce your intake of vegetable oils and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, especially fish oil. The balance between omega-6 (vegetable oil) and omega-3 (fish oil) is one of the most important metrics for human health, and the ideal ratio of these two types of fat in the diet is 1:1. Research shows we consume more than 16 times more (inflammatory) omega-6s than (anti-inflammatory) omega-3s.
• Learn to manage stress. Stress contributes to every disease known to man (including heart disease) and is a tremendous risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
• Get some sun and spend some time outdoors.
• Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, but inflammation does. Foods rich in anti-inflammatories include virtually all vegetables as well as some low-sugar fruits such as apples and berries. And new research shows ‘Bergamot’ citrus to be a powerful balancing agent for the critical triglyceride: HDL radio as well as the lipid profile.
• Supplement wisely. My top recommendations include fish oil, magnesium, vitamin D and, for those with existing heart issues, D-ribose and L-carnitine.
I particularly like two supplements that have wide-ranging, systemic effects on the body—curcumin and resveratrol. They are both in my personal daily regimen. While not usually thought of as a specific “heart” supplement, resveratrol has many benefits that impact heart health—it thins the blood, acts as an antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory, and turns on the SIRT genes (forlongevity). Recent research shows it also improves memory and glucose metabolism. NOTE: The active ingredient in resveratrol is trans-resveratrol, and this is the only part of resveratrol that really matters. As far as I know, Reserveage Nutrition is the only company that makes a 100 percent trans-resveratrol supplement, in doses that are clinically relevant (250 mg and 500 mg).
• Do some kind of exercise every day. For basic heart health and protection, it's hard to beat a daily walk.
• Cultivate nourishing relationships (and not just "Facebook friends"). Friendships, connections and social usefulness have enormously beneficial effects on both the heart and on health in general.
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”) is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He is a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology and the author of fourteen books on health, healing, food and longevity, including three best-sellers.
What do the AAP-approved homeopathic remedy for infant colic and the International Space Station have in common? The same thing they have in common with nuclear submarines, EMTs, kidney dialysis machines, NBC suits (Nuclear Biological Chemical), water filters, emergency hospitals, poison control centers... and savvy doctors, nurses, mothers, farmers, world travelers and environmentalists.
Armed with a mother’s heart, J went to her kitchen to formulate something that would relieve her first born from his misery and crying. The family was all worn out from sleepless nights as baby C cried and cried from infant colic. With no formal training in herbs, no chemistry degree, J researched to find something other than the different gripe waters she had tried that contained alcohol and just weren’t working for her baby. After blending together half a dozen herbs, known for their medicinal benefits, she added her not-so-secret outlandish ingredient: activated charcoal. In only minutes baby C stopped crying, the colic was gone, the sleepless nights were history. Since then that simple remedy has helped tens of thousands of babies, and no doubt saved many a marriage from the brink of divorce—if you have ever experienced the strain and stress of a colicky baby that can cry almost 24/7 then you can understand why.
A Universal Antidote
Only a small fraction of the population are aware that charcoal is often referred to as the “universal antidote” for poisoning.* Activated charcoal is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) for people and animals, and the FDA lists charcoal as Category I, “Safe and Effective” for poisoning. What kind of poisons? It is estimated in the neighborhood of 6,000+ natural and manmade toxins. From classic poisons like strychnine, arsenic and some heavy metals; to the endotoxins produced by tetanus, diphtheria, E. coli, and other microbes; to the cocktail of poisons coming out the ends of cigarettes and coal-fired generators; to virtually all psychotropic drugs (Lithium being one exception), just to name a few. In fact the neutralizing effect of activated charcoal on poisons is so wide reaching that when doctors prescribe it for various conditions, they are careful to stress not to take it within 1-2 hours of prescription drugs (pharmacologically also classed as poisons) because the charcoal may interfere with their absorption by the body.
Charcoal is basically inert. When given for poisoning, drug overdose, or food poisoning (by EMTs on the way to the hospital) the charcoal is not digested nor does it pass into the blood stream. Instead it passes from one end of the GI tract mopping up** toxins as it moves along, and together the toxins and charcoal are voided from the body at the other end.
During the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, media publicity of potential radiation poisoning had desperate people along the west coast of America trying to score bottles of Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets as a possible antidote. Meanwhile the Japanese government was buying up shiploads of activated charcoal. Connected to each nuclear reactor are giant filters holding eight tons or more of activated charcoal made from coconut shell. Because the Japanese demand for coconut activated charcoal for water, air and soil decontamination put a serious dent in world stores, the prices rose dramatically—but not as high as KI tablets in California. Strange, that the antidote of choice for radiation toxicity was never mentioned in the media. Curious, but not surprising.
It is because activated charcoal does adsorb so many drugs—toxic chemicals, as well as poisonous plants—that, in 2001, Kentucky’s Regional Poison Center spearheaded a statewide media blitz to encourage every household to store activated charcoal in their medicine cabinet. Activated charcoal is most effective as an antidote for drug poisoning, mushroom poisoning or any poisoning, if given within the first thirty minutes. The Poison Center followed 138 cases of home poisoning in children. The average time for hospital treatment from the time of ingestion was about 73 minutes. The treatment time was cut to 38 minutes, almost half, for those children treated in the home by their parents. The study authors concluded: “Greater efforts need to be put into educating parents about the need to stock activated charcoal in the home in advance of a poisoning.” When your house is on fire that is no time to go looking for a fire extinguisher.
Do you have activated charcoal in your home? If not, consider purchasing activated charcoal for medicinal uses.
* Technically it is not universal. There are many chemicals that activated charcoal does not adsorb, still, it neutralizes so many, that it stands without peer among other potential antidotes for poisons.
** This action is called adsorption, as compared to absorption. What is the difference? When you eat a lemon meringue pie you are absorbing it. When someone throws it at your face you are adsorbing it. Charcoal adsorbs toxins to its internal surface area and refuses to let them go.
John Dinsley is the co-founder and owner of Charcoal House LLC and Charcoal Gardens experimental organic farm. He is a Lifestyle Counselor, teaches public health programs, home remedies workshops, and drug cessation clinics. His award-winning book, CharcoalRemedies.com: The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal is considered the most comprehensive manual on the medicinal applications of charcoal.
Recent research has shed light on the importance that dental health is to our overall health and longevity: The Mayo Clinic reports that poor oral health can affect endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart, as well as cardiovascular disease, premature birth and low birth weight, diabetes, immune system disorders and eating disorders.
It may be well worth giving up commercial toothpaste and turning toward home remedies for healthy teeth and gums.
Is Traditional Dental Care the Best?
Experts recommend protecting your teeth and gums by getting regular dental checkups; eating a healthful diet; and brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice daily. Katie The Wellness Mama cites studies about oral health and lack of minerals by married doctors Mellanby and Weston Price, showing that vitamin D is important to healthy teeth. She discusses her own experience with a diet that helps her treat cavities and improve oral health: She cuts out grains, beans and nuts, limits food with sugars and starches, and adding healthful fats (coconut oil); pastured, cultured butter; and homemade bone broths.
Even if you eat this way, regular toothpaste contains lots of things you may not want in your system. When was the last time you read the ingredients on the toothpaste you buy? Do you know what’s in your toothpaste? Do you have a favorite brand or flavor of toothpaste?
Commercially prepared toothpaste has ingredients such as synthetic additives; disinfectant chemicals containing ammonium compounds,; preservatives; fluoride; foaming agents; abrasive silicas and mica; artificial colors and flavors; and even have plastic microbeads that can get lodged underneath gums and in between teeth.
One of the most concerning ingredients in commercial toothpastes is triclosan, a pesticide that alters hormone regulation but is used in toothpaste as an antimicrobial to fight gingivitis. This petroleum-derived ingredient has also been linked to carcinogenic and abrasive properties.
Toothpaste pot from the early 1900s.
Photo via Wellcome Images
Neem & Peelu
If you don’t want to use such ingredients in your mouth every day, you have plenty of safe and effective alternatives. Before 1873, when Colgate started mass production of toothpaste in jars, people used cloth and water to clean their teeth, or chewed on twigs or inner bark fiber from neem and peelu trees.
Neem twigs are still used as toothbrushes in India. They peel off the thin, outer bark covering of a twig and chew on the end until the fibers split, then rub it on teeth and gums. Peelu fibers from the Middle Eastern peelu tree (Salvadora persica), also called miswak and siwak, are available at health-food stores to aid in oral health. Use the raw fibers to chew daily or use it in powder form to brush with.
If you live in a warm climate, you can grow neem and peelu trees for personal use. They are not hardy outdoors in freezing climates but could be grown inside as houseplants.
Use sage leaves to clean teeth by rubbing them on teeth in your mouth.
Photo courtesy Nnorbu/Wikimedia Commons
Baking soda is another great natural solution for clean teeth and gums. Turn it into a paste by mixing it with water. This is an easy and effective time-tested tooth cleanser. Mix in some peppermint or spearmint oil, as well as a little bit of stevia extract, for a better tasting paste.
Instead of baking soda, you can mix sea salt with a little bit of water to brush with. Both baking soda and salt can be abrasive, so some people may prefer formulations without them.
You can also use a toothbrush dipped in hydrogen peroxide to your brush teeth. Follow up follow with a mixture of baking soda and fine or crushed sea salt to brush a second time, unless you have amalgam fillings—hydrogen peroxide can cause mercury to leach from these types of fillings.
Try making your own toothpaste with two parts baking soda and three parts organic coconut oil to five parts calcium powder. Flavor and sweeten this mixture with mint, cinnamon or orange essential oil and xylitol.
Finally, if you have access to fresh sage, rub fresh sage leaves on your teeth to clean and disinfect them. Some tooth powders actually contain crushed sage.
Retail Products I Trust
If you don’t want to mix your own toothpaste, use herbal tooth powders such as Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Tooth & Gum Powder or inVitamin’s Natural Tooth & Gum Powder with Activated Charcoal. Dr. Christopher’s powder has a mixture of many herbs, including shavegrass, peppermint, white oak, comfrey, lobelia, cloves, prickly ash bark, bayberry bark, slippery elm bark and stevia. InVitamin’s powder contains activated bamboo charcoal, bentonite clay, orris root powder, myrrh gum powder, hibiscus petal powder, stevia leaf, peppermint and cinnamon.
You may prefer one of the natural toothpaste products from Earthpaste or Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste. With their toothpastes, you’ll get all the freshening, cleansing, whitening and antibacterial benefits without any of the risky chemicals.
Heidi Cardenas is a freelance writer, gardener, knitter and crocheter in Illinois with a keen interest in growing and using herbs and spices. She has written about gardening and natural living for various online venues and loves the focus on natural alternatives at Mother Earth Living.
During the cold winter months, finding natural ways to ease cold and flu symptoms may help prevent or shorten the length of symptoms. While the days of being sick can be miserable and long, finding enjoyment and relaxation from a warm bath, a cup of hot tea or the warmth of a cozy bed are some of the best natural medicines. Thanks to friendly advice from family, friends and neighbors, here are a few of my favorite natural cold and flu remedies.
Photo by Kristy Severin
Warm Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt, otherwise known as magnesium sulfate, is known for its therapeutic properties, including relief of minor aches and pains, reducing inflammation, improving circulation, helping detox the body, aid in stress relief and helping raise energy levels. Epsom salt can be found at your local drug store, at your nearest natural grocery store or online. To start, sprinkle 1 to 2 cups Epsom salts to warm water in a standard bathtub and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Add a couple drops of your favorite essential oils to enhance your experience. I added a couple drops of peppermint essential oil to help alleviate congestion.
Photo via This Organic Life
Whether you decide to make your own or purchase elderberry syrup from your local natural-food store, this powerful natural medicine is known to fight against colds and flu.
Photo via Healthy Happy Life
Start your morning or end your day with a bright orange smoothie filled with tons of vitamin C and other vitamins to help fight or prevent a cold. I found this recipe from one of my favorite vegan recipe blogs, Healthy Happy Life.
Photo by Kristy Severin
Hot Herbal Teas
Thyme, licorice root, echinacea, cinnamon and eucalyptus are just a few herbs that can help prevent and relieve cold symptoms. To make an herbal tea for cold-relief, boil dried herbs in hot water to steep and strain, or use a simple pre-made tea bag. The powerful properties of herbs are extensive and certain herbs can be used to help with specific symptoms.
Photo by Kristy Severin
Honey can help calm a cough, soothe a sore throat and sweeten a warm cup of tea or lemon water. I am always sure to have honey on hand during a cold and take a teaspoon of pure, raw honey when needed or add it to a warm cup of herbal tea with lemon.
Photo via Monsoon Spice
Spicy Hot Soups
A warm spicy soup can help relieve congestion and soothe a cold body. Enjoy your favorite soup recipe and kick it up a notch if you wish. I don’t typically like spicy foods, but I enjoy the relief and regaining the ability to taste again with a hot and spicy soup.
Photo via Sustainable Suburbia
Natural Vapor Chest Rub
Help alleviate congestion with a natural vapor chest rub. From a simple mix of peppermint essential oil and coconut oil, to a more complex recipe such as this one from Sustainable Suburbia, enjoy the relaxation and relief from congestion.
Warm Bed and Happy Thoughts
Rest and happy thoughts can go a long way! Remember to use your best judgment and do what feels best for your body during a cold or flu this season.
Kristy Severin is a mother of two, a certified art instructor, photographer, painter, writer and cook. She earned her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda, East Africa. Inspired daily by her children and love of the earth, you can find her fine art and writings at The Art of Green Living.