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7/5/2013

Achy muscles plague all of us from time to time, whether from menstrual discomfort, the flu or even something as simple as overdoing a workout. In times like these, it might be tempting to reach for a bottle of over-the-counter painkillers—but don’t! OTC painkillers have a variety of negative side effects, and in many cases, natural remedies can work just as well. One herb in particular that works well for pain is ginger. Ginger has warming properties that can help increase circulation and relax sore muscles. A 2009 study found ginger to be as effective as ibuprofen as relieving menstrual pain.

For back strains, sprains and bruises, a ginger compress works wonders at relieving pain—and is also easy to make. Check out the video above to watch Mother Earth Living Editor-in-Chief Jessica Kellner demonstrate how to make a ginger compress.

For more ways to relive sore, achy muscles, check out the article Natural Pain Relief for Arthritis, Headaches, PMS and More.



6/26/2013

Fun in the sun is a big part of what makes summertime so special. Our lives become more seamless with the outdoors as we enjoy picnics, boating, pool time and summer grilling. From bike rides to gardening, summer is a time to get outside and activate. But with the enjoyment of fun in the sun comes the responsibility of caring for and protecting our skin from too much exposure.

family bike ride
Photo By andreusK/Fotolia

You may wonder how best to do this as you’ve probably heard that the chemicals used in sunscreens are harmful. Thankfully, we have innovating entrepreneurs and product safety ratings from Skin Deep, a program of the Environmental Working Group. Perusing this site is immensely informative and well worth the time. You can search for specific products, or scan a category and learn something new. (If you do visit Skin Deep and find helpful information, please consider a modest donation to the EWG in support of their ongoing research!)

Maybe you’ve visited Skin Deep and you’re still not sure what product is best for you and your family. I live in Boulder, Colorado, which is literally a mile high. At this altitude, protection from harmful UV rays is very important. I got serious after I had a Basel cell carcinoma, a localized and non-life threatening form of skin cancer, more than 18 years ago. Ever since, protecting my skin has been a high priority. Without wanting to be too heavy, I will go ahead and mention that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the USA.  Thus, our treasured fun in the sun is made even better when our skin is cared for properly.

I have the good fortune of working in the natural and organic products industry, and have built some great relationships with fellow entrepreneurs who are creating wonderful products. One such entrepreneur is Nova Covington, founder of Goddess Garden Organics. Goddess Garden makes organic sunscreen, and in the five years we have been doing business with them, Nova and her team continue to innovate and improve upon their sunscreen products. I like knowing who is behind a product as well as knowing the motivation. Nova started her company in response to her first child’s sensitivity to chemicals in body-care products. Like many intrepid entrepreneurs, she was responding to a personal need, and from that a company was born.

We each have the opportunity to learn more about the people behind the products, as well as the company that makes them. On our website, AmericasBestOrganics.com, we offer little bursts of insight into the stories behind the brands on our product pages. Trusting in a product is important, especially when it comes to our long-term health and well-being.

In honor of the topic of this blog, America’s Best Organics created a special gift for summertime featuring sunscreen from Goddess Garden Organics, a reusable 100 percent organic cotton snack bag from Eco-Ditty, and other treats in our Fun in the Sun Organic Gift Basket. This gift-basket-in-a-box makes a great thank you or send-off for a vacation for family and friends, or a gift for you!

Fun in the Sun organic gift basket 

I hope you’ll take a peek at Skin Deep and look into Goddess Garden Organics, plus other great brands that are doing their utmost to bring healthy alternatives to mass-produced sunscreen products that often miss the mark in providing a product without harmful chemicals. Here’s to lovingly protecting our precious skin!


Seleyn DeYarusSeleyn DeYarus is a long-time advocate of the positive impact of healthy lifestyles on people and the environment. Based in Boulder, Colorado, she is majority owner and CEO of Best Organics, Inc., an organic and sustainable brands promotion company and provider of America's Best Organics gourmet gift basket collections. Learn more about Seleyn and find your next best gift at AmericasBestOrganics.com 



6/19/2013

Most people use sunscreen when they go out to soak up some of the sun’s rays, but sometimes we completely forget to reapply sunscreen. And for some of us, extremely fair complexions mean getting burned every time when we step out in the sun, leaving our skin to endure a nasty sunburn. While a serious sunburn may need to be treated by a doctor, few require medical intervention. Sunburns usually fade within a few days; however, there are some things you can do to stop the irritation, itching and burning sensations you experience when you have one. Best of all, these remedies are natural, and you may already have what you need at home.

sunscreen on boy at beach
Photo By Daddy Cool/Fotolia

Cold Compress

A cold compress is one of the easiest ways to stop skin irritation from a sunburn. To prepare a basic compress, all you need to do is soak a clean cloth in chilled water and apply it to the skin, rewetting the compress when it becomes warm.

If you experience a lot of itching, aluminum acetate that comes from packets can be added to the water (be sure following the manufacturer’s instructions). Adding a few tablespoons of witch hazel to the cool compress water can help to relieve inflammation as well.

Pure Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is one of the most common and effective natural sunburn remedies. You can buy pure aloe vera from some health and drug stores, but you can also get it from fresh leaves if you are able to find or grow the plant yourself.

To extract the aloe directly just remove the first two layers of the inside of the leaf until you feel the thick gel inside. Fresh aloe vera may have a slightly thinner consistency than you’re used to if you usually buy packaged aloe products, but it works just as well for sunburns.

pure aloe vera gel
Photo By Joanna Wnuk/Fotolia

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is commonly used to relieve irritation related to allergic reaction, but it can also be used to stop itching and burning sensations from the typical sunburn. To use oatmeal as a sunburn remedy, wrap a small amount of dry oatmeal in cheesecloth and pour water over it into a clean bowl or basin. Soak a clean compress in the liquid and apply it to the affected area every 2 to 4 hours, or as needed.

Milk

Mixing a single cup of milk with 4 cups of cold water and a handful of ice cubes is a simple, effective way to make a mixture that can be used with a compress. For the best results, keep the milk and water mixture chilled in the refrigerator and apply it for about 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat the process every 3 to 4 hours with another clean compress.

Steer Clear of Soaps

While washing after a day at the beach or exercising in the sun might seem necessary, washing sunburned skin with harsh soaps can make inflammation and tenderness considerably worse. If you really need to wash, take a quick shower in relatively cool water and wash the soap off quickly. Be gentle to your skin while washing and try to avoid using coarse or rough materials, such as a loofah or washcloth.

If you prefer to soak in the tub, make sure you don’t use soapy bubble bath. Instead, try a generous amount of baking soda to relieve itching or a cup of apple cider vinegar to soothe your skin.

After showering, a cold compress can help to relieve any irritation the soap might have caused.

Dealing with a sunburn is far from comfortable, but sometimes avoiding one is close to impossible. While over-the-counter treatments can work, they aren’t really necessary. Any one or combination of the basic remedies above will help soothe a mild to moderate sunburn.


Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer from California who writes about a range of health topics, including skin and hair care, holistic medicine and fitness. To treat her sunburns, she prefers using natural products to soothe her skin.



5/13/2013

When we think of nutrient-dense foods, brightly colored fruits and vegetables come to mind. Just because a vegetable is white, however, doesn’t mean it’s devoid of nutritional value—and cauliflower is no exception! Check out below the many benefits you could be reaping from this cruciferous vegetable.

cauliflower and carrots in basket 

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Antioxidants and Vitamins

Cauliflower is packed with antioxidant-providing vitamins and minerals. This cruciferous vegetable is particularly high in vitamins C and K, as well as folate and magnesium. It also contains antioxidant phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin and more.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Vitamin K, one phytonutrient found in cauliflower, is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. A study from Tufts University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that high intake of vitamin K decreased levels of 14 inflammatory markers. Cauliflower also contains phytonutrients known as glucosinolates, which can be converted into anti-inflammatory compounds.

Cancer Prevention

Those same glucosinolates that help cauliflower battle inflammation can also help protect against cancer by inhibiting carcinogens’ ability to damage DNA or by altering hormone activity that can lead to the development of some cancers. Cauliflowers’ antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detox properties also make it useful in cancer prevention, especially for bladder, breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancers.

cauliflower and parsley 

Detox Benefits

Cauliflower is often seen as a main ingredient in many detox recipes and detox diets. Glucosinolates in cauliflower can help the body’s natural detoxification processes by activating detox enzymes and helping the body cleanse itself of carcinogens. Additionally, cauliflower contains significant levels of fiber, which can help remove solid waste from the body and keep the flow of toxins moving through and out of the gastrointestinal tract.

Digestive Support

Cauliflower contains high amounts of fiber—nearly eight grams for every 100 calories. Fiber helps move food easily and quickly through the digestive track. Cauliflower also contains a compound called sulforaphane (derived from glucosinolates) that protects the lining of your stomach by preventing growth of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers.

Healthy Cauliflower Recipes

Add more cauliflower to your life with these recipes!

Lemony Leek and Cauliflower Soup
Roasted Cauliflower Capellini
Cauliflower Curry
Cauliflower Casserole
Mashed Cauliflower

For more nutrient-dense white foods, check out the article White Foods for Your Health.

Images (top to bottom): Photo By alex/Fotolia; Photo By Printemps/Fotolia


Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on .



4/19/2013

Spring is officially here. In addition to the birds, flowers and sweet-smelling air, spring is also the season for allergies. If you suffer from a wide array of seasonal allergy symptoms such as fatigue; sinus congestion; itchy eyes, nose or throat; or watery eyes, don’t let a high pollen count get you down this season. Here are 10 natural remedies for allergies from my book Allergy-Proof:  Over 60 All-Natural, Drug-Free Ways to Beat Allergies.

man with allergies
Photo By WavebreakmediaMicro/Fotolia

1. Build Your Defenses with Bacteria

Research by scientists at the Osaka University School of Medicine found that certain probiotics were effective in the treatment of nasal and sinus symptoms linked to allergies. According to their study, published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, the specific strains that are effective include: Lactobacilli casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, L. acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium longum. Supplement your diet with a high-quality probiotic taken on an empty stomach.

2. Drink More Alkaline Water

Drink at least 8 to 10 cups of pure alkaline water daily to support the natural cleansing systems in your body. Research even shows that staying well hydrated helps 38 percent of women relieve allergy symptoms. Most tap or bottled water is acidic. Acidity has been linked to allergies (The Ultimate pH Solution). By switching to alkaline water, you’re helping to further reduce allergies.  Read my post The Healing Power of Alkaline Water to learn more.

3. Supplement with Sea Buckthorn

If spring pollens aggravate asthmatic symptoms, you might want to supplement with sea buckthorn. Sea buckthorn has been used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine for lung conditions and asthma. Its use for asthma and chronic coughing are recorded in the Tibetan and Mongolian Pharmacopoeia. Learn more about sea buckthorn on my website.

4. Drink Green Tea

Green tea is packed with a powerful antioxidant phytonutrient called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that blocks histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE). Both of these naturally-produced chemicals are linked with uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Because EGCG blocks their production, allergy symptoms are reduced. If you don’t like the taste of green tea, add matcha powder, which is simply powdered green tea, to your dairy-free fruit smoothies. (Dairy products are mucus-forming and can aggravate allergies). Drink two to three cups of green tea daily for the best results.

green tea
Photo By Liv Friis-larsen/Fotolia

5. Take Quercetin to Quell Allergy Symptoms

Quercetin is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine phytonutrient. Quercetin has an excellent ability to reduce allergy symptoms and to improve lung function. Apples and onions are excellent sources of quercetin. Some studies show that people who eat a lot of apples have improved lung function and reduced risk of lung conditions. Other good sources include:  berries, cabbage, cauliflower, nuts, and black, green or white tea. 

6. Choose Nettles for Allergies

Native Americans used stinging nettles for thousands of years to treat many health conditions, including allergies. Now, science has proven what these wise people knew from experience: that nettles are an effective allergy treatment. Unlike pharmaceuticals, which cause heart problems or drowsiness, nettles do neither. Nettles are conveniently available in the dried form for making tea, liquid tinctures to take as drops, or in capsule form. 

7. Pick Pineapple Enzyme for Allergy Relief

Extracted from pineapple, when taken on an empty stomach, the enzyme bromelain treats sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory disorders; acts as an anti-inflammatory; and reduces lung swelling. I usually suggest one or two capsules containing 5000 mcu each on an empty stomach, three times daily. 

8. Select Homeopathic Allium Cepa

If you have allergy symptoms that are worse indoors, at night or in warm rooms, along with red and burning eyes and a clear, burning nasal discharge, the homeopathic remedy Allium Cepa may be best for you. Start with a 6X or 30X remedy if you can find it. Let three pellets dissolve under the tongue every 15 minutes for the first hour or two. Then take three pellets, three times daily. 

9. Flush Your Nasal Passages

Using a neti pot, which is a small ceramic dish shaped a bit like a gravy boat, you can flush your sinuses with a salt-water solution. Most health food stores sell neti pots and saline packets ready to mix with water. You can either follow the package directions or you can purchase sea salt and mix it with pure warm water. Start with one-quarter teaspoon of sea salt to one cup of water. Simply lean over a sink and tilt your head to the side to pour the water into one nostril and allow it to run out the other nostril.  It may take some practice but it is an excellent way to cleanse and eliminate mucous and microbes. Over time, you can increase to one-half a teaspoon of sea salt per cup of water and cool down the temperature of water you use.

10. Eliminate Sugar

Sugar is highly acid- and mucus-forming, helping to aggravate allergies. I put my clients on a minimum 30-day low sugar diet (and no that doesn’t mean adding artificial sweeteners), and most of them see dramatic improvements in their environmental allergies even if they do nothing else.

Adapted with permission from Allergy-Proof:  Over 60 All-Natural, Drug-Free Ways to Beat Allergies from Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD.


Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, ROHP, is an international best-selling and fourteen-time author and publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on her site HealthySurvivalist.com, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook



3/29/2013

Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that occurs when the skin rapidly produces new cells at ten times the normal rate. Because the skin cells still slough off at their normal rate, this creates a buildup of cells, leading to patches of dry, itchy and occasionally swollen skin with thick silvery or whitish scales. The cause of psoriasis is unknown, although scientists think that it’s a genetic disorder (as cases of psoriasis often run in families) and possibly connected to immune system. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that runs in cycles with periods of remission.

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, it can be treated at home with natural remedies and improved through lifestyle changes.

psoriasis wrists
Photo By nebari/Fotolia

Home Remedies for Psoriasis

Diet: Poor diet and food allergies can worsen psoriasis. Poor digestion can create toxins that contribute to skin proliferation. As with many skin conditions, focusing on natural elimination of toxins through the digestive track, instead of through the skin, can significantly help. For a healthy, toxin-eliminating diet, focus on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and whole grains. For protein, choose easier-to-digest vegetarian sources or lean cuts for meat eaters. Cold-water fish is an excellent protein source as it also provides essential fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and low levels of which have been associated with psoriasis. Avoid foods that promote inflammation or are hard to digest, such as red meat, dairy, fatty or fried foods, alcohol and foods high in refined sugar. Food allergies can also trigger episodes of psoriasis.

Sunlight exposure: Light therapy is a helpful treatment for psoriasis. While many doctors offer UVA and UVB treatments at their office, you can also obtain ultraviolet rays from controlled sun exposure. The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends starting small with just five to 10 minutes of sun exposure daily, preferably around noon, then adding 30 seconds each day to find the right amount of exposure for your skin. Be sure to fully expose any patches of psoriasis and wear sunscreen over any patches of skin not afflicted to protect them from sun damage.

Hydration: For those with psoriasis, it’s important to keep the skin moisturized. Showering, soaking in a tub, swimming and other water-immersing activities can hydrate skin and help remove patches of scales, if done correctly. For an easy treatment, soak in a lukewarm or tepid bath (not hot; hot water can strip skin and leave it itchy), pat skin dry and immediately apply a thick emollient or body oil to help lock in moisture. Salves can also be beneficial, especially if they contain skin-soothing herbs such as calendula. Soap can dry out and irritate skin; instead, consider a gentle cleanser designed for dry skin.

Supplements and Herbs for Psoriasis

Fish oil contains essential fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties beneficial for treating psoriasis. Take a standardized dose daily.

Milk thistle helps the liver remove toxins from the body, aiding in the body’s natural detox process. Take 250 mg three times daily.

Aloe vera can be taken internally or applied topically to treat psoriasis. Drink a quarter cup of aloe vera juice or apply pure aloe gel, taken from the leaves of the plant, to affected skin to benefit from this plant’s cooling, anti-inflammatory effects.

Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory effects that make it beneficial for treating psoriasis, and some studies have even shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can alter gene expression, including a particular type that can minimize psoriasis flares. Turmeric also enhances detoxification. Take 1 gram of dried turmeric in capsule form daily, or add liberal amounts of turmeric to your cooking.

Discover more home remedies for psoriasis.


Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of
Mother Earth Living. Find her on .


2/28/2013

Although inflammation is a natural reaction and helps with the body’s healing process, chronic inflammation can be damaging and even play a major role in the development of many diseases: arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, various cancers and more. Tackling chronic inflammation may require major lifestyle changes—managing stress, exercising more, eating right.  While a proper diet can be crucial to managing inflammation, don’t discount the benefits of other kitchen ingredients. Many herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful in tackling chronic inflammation—many of them inexpensive as well. Try supplementing your diet with these seven anti-inflammatory herbs for a start.

green tea and ginger
Green tea and ginger both have anti-inflammatory properties. Photo By Brebca/Fotolia

7 Anti-Inflammatory Herbs

Turmeric: Curcumin, the active in ingredient in turmeric and the substance responsible for its yellow color, has strong anti-inflammatory properties. A clinical trial in the Journal of Neurochemistry found that treating patients with turmeric led to a 30 percent reduction in Alzheimer’s-associated brain plaque. A recent Italian study also found that taking turmeric led to a 58 percent reduction in pain and stiffness caused by arthritis, and a 63 percent reduction in reliance on standard painkillers. Take 400 to 600 mg of standardized powder three times daily; or use liberally in cooking.

Devil’s claw: Widely used for joint pain and inflammation in Europe and the United States, devil’s claw has been shown to reduce osteoarthritis pain and even be as effective as certain prescription painkillers. One small study also showed that devil’s claw may be useful in treating mild-to-moderate lower back, neck and shoulder pain. Take 600 to 1,200 mg of a standardized dose three times daily.

Boswellia: Boswellic acids in this Ayurvedic herb, sometimes called Indian frankincense, bind to enzymes that cause inflammation. Studies have shown boswellia to be useful in treating inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease. (For a more in-depth look at how boswellia treats arthritis, check out the article Soothe Aching Joints with Frankincense.)

garlic in white wooden box
Photo By ivan_dzyuba/Fotolia

Cayenne: Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, has been shown to inhibit certain substances associated with the inflammatory process, helping to reduce pain and inflammation in conditions such as arthritis and diabetic neuropathy. Studies have also shown this anti-inflammatory herb to be beneficial for heart health and immunity. Use a capsaicin cream as directed for affected areas (never on broken skin), or take 30 to 120 mg in capsule form three times daily.

Garlic: Compounds in garlic inhibit inflammatory messenger molecules, which has shown to be particularly effective in helping to promote heart health. In addition, garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties can benefit our respiratory system (in the case of inflammation in airways), help with arthritis, and maybe even inhibit some changes in fat cells that are critical to the development of obesity. Use garlic liberally in cooking. You can also eat the cloves raw and whole. Cutting or crushing the garlic before consumption amplifies its health benefits. 

Ginger: Anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger called gingerol suppress pro-inflammatory compounds. Ginger is particularly effective at treating arthritis; a study published in Osteoarthritis Cartilage found that long-term use of ginger led to less pain, swelling and inflammation in arthritic patients. Preliminary studies have also shown that ginger may help prevent heart disease, another inflammatory condition, by helping lower cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Take 250 mg of ginger extract four times daily.

Green tea: Polyphenols in green tea act have anti-inflammatory properties, and studies have shown that green tea can reduce inflammation and help with conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, stomach cancer and more. Drink at least two cups a day.


Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of
Mother Earth Living. Find her on .


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