Mother Earth Living

Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Add to My MSN


Imagine you’re an astronaut, and today is your very first three-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Even though breakfast was carefully formulated to minimize any gas-forming combinations, you soon know that whatever you ate is starting to bubble. Does that mean you have to breathe that foul odor over and over again for the next three hours and spoil the breathless inspiration of outer space? No, activated charcoal saves the day. Incorporated into your space gear, not only does the activated charcoal adsorb the noxious odor, it also captures CO2. The air is purified and you can breathe it over and over again.

space station


For many back on earth, flatulence is a constant source of embarrassment, never mind discomfort. More and more have discovered underclothing products that quickly and effectively minimize or eliminate flatulence at the back door. Whether it is charcoal underwear, Totally Scents-Less Pads placed in the underwear, or larger pads placed over chairs, many have found instant relief from the embarrassment of foul odor and noise.

odor eliminating briefs

Getting closer to the source of the gas war going on in the bowels, some have discovered—to their joy—that taking activated charcoal orally can significantly reduce, if not eliminate, gas throughout the GI tract in minutes. This may be a new discovery for some but it is not new. As advertised in the 1908 Sears Catalog:

“Every person is well acquainted with the great benefit derived from willow charcoal in gastric and intestinal disorder, indigestion, dyspepsia, heartburn, sour or acid stomach, gas upon the stomach, constant belching, fetid breath, all gaseous complications and for the removal of the offensive odor from the breath after smoking.”

It seems the general population was more enlightened about the many uses and benefits of charcoal in centuries past than they are in the 21st. But, that is all changing.

From space suits to charcoal underwear and gas masks to charcoal soap, air purifiers to charcoal insoles and hunting clothes to charcoal wound dressings, activated charcoal is there to minimize or eliminate all odor—good, bad, or ugly. Rather than take your breath away, charcoal gives the breath of life back to us revitalized.

Bad Breath

Bad breath can erupt from the stomach, but it can also originate in the mouth. A quick fix? Suck on a charcoal tablet or lozenge. Or, follow the lead of our great grandparents: Brushing your teeth with charcoal powder or charcoal toothpaste does a lot more than eliminate bad breath. It whitens teeth, even removing tobacco stains. Regular brushing with a fine charcoal powder can also improve gum health. Some have found that placing a small charcoal dressing next to an abscessed tooth helps manage pain until they can schedule a dental appointment. One very important reminder: Before going out in public, always rinse your mouth after using charcoal orally. If you forget, some will find you amusing, most will not.

Body Odor

Body odor isn’t just an internal problem, but also external and today there are more and more charcoal products that are able to capture personal BO and help to restore self confidence. Activated carbon cloth is used in athletic gear such as shoe insoles, socks, knee and elbow guards, and sports helmets. The Asian market even offers charcoal pillows, blankets and mattresses with replaceable pouches of fine granular activated charcoal. Charcoal soaps, charcoal deodorants, feminine pads and other innovative ideas are finding their way to markets around the world.

Wound Dressings

The first recorded use of charcoal for medicinal purposes comes from Egyptian papyri around 1500 BC. The principal use appears to have been to adsorb the unpleasant odors from putrefying wounds and from within the intestinal tract. In more recent times (1700s) charcoal powder was used directly on gangrenous wounds to control odor. In our day, activated charcoal is finding similar applications. Dr Agatha Thrash (board-certified pathologist and former Medical Examiner for State of Georgia) reports:

“We had a patient who had a large, deep ulcer (twelve inches in diameter) due to an x-ray burn on his back. The burn was from an overdose of x-rays used for treating a skin cancer. The ulcer became infected and foul smelling. His entire house smelled of the ulcer, despite the most fastidious care. We started dressing the ulcer by sprinkling dry charcoal powder from a saltshaker on all the moist areas before applying gauze. Instantly the odor vanished from the ulcer, and gradually left the house. Although the patient eventually succumbed to the radiation sickness, he and his whole family were grateful for the charcoal.”*

For those of you who have suffered a broken limb that required a hard cast to immobilize it, you are no doubt familiar with the bad odor that develops. Most often the smell is from dead skin, but it may be from an open, draining wound. These odors are not only unpleasant, they are themselves toxic and they slow the healing process. This requires that the cast be changed often.

To avoid such frequent changes, Dr. Frank Haydon, MD, at Fort Benning Army Base, Georgia, developed a simple technique. He took fifteen grams of activated charcoal (about three to four tablespoons) and mixed it with enough water to make a slurry. After the first layer of cast was applied, the charcoal slurry was then poured over the area of expected drainage. The remainder of the plaster was then applied over this wet charcoal. The cast appeared slightly gray, but was accepted well by patients. The unpleasant odor of draining wounds was controlled for much longer, and there were no adverse effects on wound or fracture.*

Is there a natural, man-made, unpleasant, noxious, toxic or deadly gas, odor or scent activated charcoal doesn’t help eliminate? In my second installment, we’ll look at innovative ways activated charcoal is being used to help sufferers of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and to help prevent MCS from affecting the rest of us.

To see a variety of activated charcoal products for odor elimination visit Charcoal House

Purify Your Space

* The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal & Its Applications p. 149

John DinsleyJohn 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, The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal, is considered the most comprehensive manual on the medicinal applications of charcoal.


Many of us find restful sleep elusive, but we know that getting enough of it is crucial to our health. With that being said, there are a number of things we don’t know about sleep. Read on to discover 11 things you likely didn’t know about sleep.

Things You Didnt Know About Sleep 

Fun Facts About Sleep

1. Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep. (Source: National Sleep Foundation)

2. Most of us need seven to eight hours of sleep each night for optimal daytime functioning, but at least 50 percent of Americans struggle with sleep problems. (Source: How to Sleep Naturally)

3. Fatigue can lead to depression, irritability, headaches, concentration problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, increased susceptibility to colds and infections, increased mistakes at work, and an increased risk of car accidents. (Source: How to Sleep Naturally)

4. The human body operates best when it’s in sync with natural cycles, but excess lighting from large urban areas has thrown off our biological clock and its connection with the rising and falling of the sun. (Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine)

5. Fragmented sleep could be as harmful to our health as a total lack of sleep—just one night of interrupted sleep can negatively affect mood, attention span and cognitive ability. (Source: University Herald)

6. More than eight in 10 survey respondents think that people misuse prescription sleep aids. (Source: National Sleep Foundation)

7. Medical experts have found a link between lack of sleep and weight problems: Dieters who sleep longer burn more fat, while people who sleep less burn more muscle mass. (Source: NPR)

8. Interrupted sleep can impair memory. Research even shows that shortly after childbirth a mental fog sets in until children start sleeping through the whole night. (Source: Medical News Today and Mother Nature Network)

9. Sleep deprivation has been linked with lower libido and less interest in sex in both men and women. (Source: Medical Daily)

10. Nearly 30 percent of people who drink four or more caffeinated beverages daily are at risk for sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing is interrupted briefly and repeatedly. (Source: Business Insider)

11. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes. The record holder (who was competing in a rocking chair marathon) reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses. (Source: Sleep Academy)

Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living, where she manages the health section of the magazine.


Informed people know that all the conveniences of our technological age come at a high price — pollution. Whether it is the air we breathe, the water we drink or bathe with, the food we eat or the very soil in which we grow our food, to a greater or lesser degree, the whole world has been negatively impacted by the chemical age we live in. But a great mystery to me is that so many of those who consider themselves informed, are all but unaware of the role activated charcoal plays in dramatically reducing or neutralizing the immediate and long-term effects of the toxic chemistry we are all surrounded by.

Photo by Dreamstime.

What are the most basic ingredients of life? Not ignoring the spiritual and emotional needs of man, most would agree that to survive any length of time we all need fire, food, water, air, earth, clothing, and medicine. If you were going to name one thing on planet earth that is vitally connected to each of the above elements, then at the top of the list you would have to put charcoal. For thousands of years charcoal has been used to warm houses, cook food, purify contaminated water, remove toxic odors from air, decontaminate and fertilize depleted soils, treat dozens of common and otherwise serious health issues, and in our day, it is used increasingly in fabrics for such diverse things as clothing, wound dressings, and space suits. Who would have guessed?

The Difference: Charcoal & Activated Charcoal

When you think of charcoal, think of the cold, hard, crusty black pieces left over when your campfire or wood cook-stove goes out. As the wood is gradually smothered with ash, the fire is deprived of oxygen, and instead of burning up into thin air, the moisture in the wood, along with all the volatile hydrocarbons, is essentially cooked/vaporized off leaving behind the black pieces of charcoal. Activating charcoal takes the same process to another level. For example, using charcoal made from coconut shell. The coconut charcoal is placed in giant rotisserie kilns and heated back up to very high temperatures and the charcoal is bombarded with oxidizing agents such as steam. This “activating” process dramatically increases the internal surface area of the charcoal particles, and it is this tremendous surface area that industry and medicine capitalize on.

soccer field
Photo by Dreamstime.

Don’t let technology confuse you. Activated charcoal is charcoal, just like condensed milk is still milk. It is the classic example of, “less is more.” It takes about three pounds of regular charcoal to make one pound of activated charcoal. During the activation process, while the outside volume does not change that much, the internal volume is dramatically increased as layer after layer of carbon atoms are peeled away leaving an internal structure permeated with microscopic tunnels. If you could magically unfold the surface area in one teaspoon of activated charcoal, it would stretch out to a soccer field. A one-quart jar filled with activated charcoal can suck up about eighty quarts of ammonia gas. Now that is a microcosmic Black Hole!

Water Purification

Recent studies of the wrecks of Phoenician trading ships from around 450 B.C. suggest that drinking water was stored in charred wooden barrels. This practice was still in use in the 18th Century for extending the use of potable water on long sea voyages. Wood-staved barrels were scorched to preserve them and the water or other items stored in them. How ingenious is that, a completely natural, organic, and environmentally friendly preservative! Today we have hundreds of patented sleek chrome water filters and activated charcoal is a major component.

water pollution
Photo by Dreamstime.

More and more, water is becoming a very valuable commodity, but whether it falls from the sky, is stored in reservoirs, or is pumped out of the ground, increasingly that water is contaminated with a host of chemicals. Whether it is rainwater contaminated with dioxins and VOCs from coal-fired generators, or river water drugged with steroids and antidepressants from sewage treatment plants, or well water medicated with antibiotics, it is a given that, whether it looks clean or not, the water coming out of our faucets is probably not that safe to drink, even if it does reek of chlorine. Consequently, bottled water has become a way of life for many, and whether people realize it or not, it has all been filtered through granular activated charcoal. How does something black, take dirty, smelly, toxic water and make it crystal clear and safe to drink? That is part of the mysterious science of charcoal.

Air Purification

The charcoal science used to clean water is the same science that is used to purify air. Whether it is nuclear power plants, modern vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, hospital surgery rooms, industrial HEPA filters, or gas masks, they all use black charcoal to turn otherwise deadly gas cocktails into revitalized air you, your animals, and plants can all thrive on.

olive oil
Activated charcoal enhances food flavor and appearance. Photo by Fotolia.

Healthier Food

Activated charcoal is used in numerous ways in the food industry to enhance the flavor and appearance of food. It is sometimes added for coloring, as in jellybeans, caviar, jams, beverages, burger buns and cheese slices. Sometimes it is used to take color out of food — white sugar and white grape juice. Primarily it is used to remove unpleasant flavors, odors, and putrefaction compounds (such as rancidity in vegetable oils), thus restoring many of the natural qualities lost in processing.

Really, once you begin to look around, you will be amazed at just how many things are purified by charcoal. Pharmaceuticals, food supplements, blood, infected wounds, gold and other precious metals, fine chemicals, microwave, yes, even dirty sound, and much, much more.


To see the scope of different activated charcoal products visit Charcoal House.

John DinsleyJohn 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, The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal, is considered the most comprehensive manual on the medicinal applications of charcoal.


Valentine's Day
Photo by Shutterstock

Valentine’s Day is all about love. For a full 24 hours, you have carte blanche to be as romantic as you wish towards your significant other. But while you adore your sweetie with all of your heart, you also have a great deal of passion for Mother Earth. With this in mind instead of merely showering your honey with tokens of your affection, take your gift giving one step further and honor your love of the environment too with these five eco-friendly Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Show Your Love

Adopt a Manatee
There is just something so adorable about manatees. Unfortunately, they are also an endangered species. On February 14, surprise your sweetie by adopting a manatee through the Save the Manatee Club. For $35, you can adopt an actual living manatee and receive a full color adoption certificate of your special critter, a membership handbook and a heart-shaped manatee ornament. As a bonus, if you reside in Florida or plan on vacationing in the Sunshine State, you and your honey can go to see your adopted manatee.

Give Fair Trade Flowers
Flowers and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand like—well, like you and your sweetheart. Surprise your love this year with a gorgeous bouquet of his or her favorite blossoms from a retailer that cares for the Earth like FTD. The company, which features a beautiful selection of Valentine’s Day arrangements, is also committed to supporting human rights as well as labor practices in relation to the way their flowers are grown and produced.

Write a Love Letter, Then Plant It
A wonderful way to show your love for your significant other is by writing a heartfelt letter that expresses your deepest feelings. This year, take this romantic gesture an eco-friendly step further and pen your masterpiece on recycled handmade paper that has actual wildflower seeds embedded in it. Available from Plantable Papers, the tree free paper is beautiful and comes in different colors and shapes. You can use the paper to write your love letter and then, if your sweetheart wishes, you can bury the paper in the ground and then watch as wildflowers grow to honor your growing love for each other.

Sweets for the Sweet
If Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be the same for you without some chocolate, consider giving your honey a box of chocolate from Raw Chocolate Love. The company strives to make delicious pure and raw chocolate that is not only good for the body, but also good for the Earth. Raw Chocolate Love sells organic and vegan chocolate that is made with top quality and earth-friendly ingredients and it is also incredibly delicious.

A Bottle of Wine
A wonderfully romantic and earth-friendly Valentine’s Day can involve something as relatively simple as a relaxing walk or hike followed by a glass of wine. Walking is inherently eco-friendly, so set out together on a nice stroll through the neighborhood hand in hand. End your walk at a local park or hill with a nice view and enjoy a wonderful glass of eco-friendly wine together, as well as a picnic meal. ecoVINO Wines are made from certified organic grapes from Mendocino County, California, and they are packaged in eco-friendly recyclable wine pouches instead of heavy glass bottles.

Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 14 years. Based in the Phoenix, Arizona area, Alison enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, but especially loves meeting interesting people and telling their stories.


Are your halls still decked with greeting cards from your friends and family? Are they taken down, but sitting in a pile because you just don’t know quite what to do with them? For a lot of us, the greeting cards we receive during the holidays are just too pretty to toss, and you know that a lot of effort and energy went into making them. It’s a pity that they only get a short time to shine. To top it off, at least 50 percent have pictures of friends and their kids. You just can’t throw away a picture!

Luckily, I have found a few reuse solutions for you that are easy with little to no clutter. Plus, they will save you money for next year. Have I got your attention? Great!

First take them down and separate them into two piles; pictures and not pictures.

Homemade Photo Album 

My Favorite Way to Reuse Christmas Cards

For years I hung onto picture cards in no rational manner until I decided to make an album of JUST picture cards. You can’t just use any photo album; you need to find one with “magnetic” pages, usually found at craft stores or on Amazon. The pages are slightly sticky and have no partitions for standard photo sizes, which makes them perfect for the variety of sizes picture cards come in. The year I started the album I sorted by family, but ever since I just add them each year as they fit onto a page. I also put in one of my picture cards to mark the year and because I like to see the cuties I made, too. I love looking back at how families grow over the years.

This homemade photo album is also a great place for any birth announcements or other pictures you are sent over the year. My kids love to look at friends and family at different ages, and it’s the go-to book when I need to show them Great Aunt Pam or second cousin Gina.

Less Fussy Option

Hit the holiday clearance and get a pretty card-sized box. Same theory as before—just put all the pictures in the box and put the box in with your other decorations. Next year, set the box on an end table and shuffle through them, enjoying them all once again. Add  a new batch each year. It may not be as handy year-round, but it keeps them all in one place and will take you about three seconds to complete.

Over-Achiever Option

Scrapbook it! I’m not a scrapbooker (although I covet the bits and bobs), but a scrapbook of each year’s cards might be a good project. There are just so many awesome holiday themed papers.

Homemade Gift Tags

For Cards Without Pictures

This is a longer term payoff because you won’t actually use them until next Christmas. They don’t take up much room, so stick a paper clip on them and put them with your Christmas wrapping paper. If you didn’t get many cards this year (or already tossed them), you can always score a box or two of a design you love on clearance and tuck it away.

Fast forward to next December—take the stack out and use scissors to make tags from the pretty parts of the cards. No more sticky tags, no more writing on the paper with sharpie or cutting wee slips of paper (unless you really like that). Make the tag into the decoration! This saves you money on buying yet another thing to be tossed. Plus, it saves you on fancy bows, as the cards are pretty enough to stand alone or with simple curling ribbon.

Half Card Gift Tag

Less Artistic Option

Cut off the half of the card that has writing on it. Write “To” and “From” on the blank back side and tape it to the present. Rectangular, but card designers know what they’re doing. The whole picture is…well, pretty as a picture!

Nutcracker Gift Tag

More Artistic Option

Cut out an element of the card. You don’t have to be limited to the central picture either; you can make a very pretty tag from some of the side elements. Even the high-quality cardstock is a step up from most gift tags. This also means you can make more tags per card depending on how you slice it.

Most Artistic Option

Use the card as a base to add embellishments. The tag could nearly be a gift.

Small Gift Tag
Photos by Kate Luthner

The Gift That Keeps Giving

If you find the “perfect” tag for someone, try and save it from the clean-up crew and use it again next year. Seeing that owl tag year after year will tell that special someone the gift is for them.

Once I had an easy solution to the card problem I felt better. All cards are sent because someone cared enough to send it.  I feel great neatly and simply honoring the picture cards people agonize over and recycling the pretty cards into centerpieces of my gift-wrap next year. I hope some of these solutions inspire you, too.

Kate LuthnerKate Luthner is a mother of three little girls. Transplanted from New York to Minnesota, Kate began to blog about life to keep up with her family at home. Her blog, Katy Stuff is updated most every day with posts ranging from DIY projects to updates on her children, as well as an occasional book review or opinion piece about world news. Kate’s philosophy? If  you can make it, don’t buy it!


It’s our favorite time of year again—time to celebrate the people we love by giving the most thoughtful, perfect gifts. Those gifts are made even more meaningful and joyous when they are made by people who were treated well and with materials that honor our planet. That might sound like a lot of requirements, but fear not! Our handy eco-friendly gift guide will help you find the perfect special gift for every friend and family member on your nice list.

For the Cozy Home-Body

Boll and Branch Cable Knit Throws

Boll and Branch Cable Knit Throw, $99
These luxurious cable knit throws will cozy-up any corner of your home. Curl up on the couch with a soft, 100 percent GOTS-certified organic cotton blanket made ethically in India. And, as an added bonus, a portion of every sale goes to Not For Sale to help end forced labor and human trafficking. Pick from nine beautiful colors to add a touch of warmth to any room. Though this item is a bit expensive, it’s worth it—this high-quality blanket will warm your loved one for decades to come. Order soon to jump on the limited-time sale—$99 and free shipping!

Forever Candles (Prosperity Candles)

A Forever Candle from Prosperity Candle, $65
These delightfully scented candles are hand-poured by women refugees who are working to build their families a better future. Though this may seen expensive for a candle, it comes with FREE LIFETIME REFILLS—you can even mix it up and try each of their signature scents. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Agraria Petitessence Diffuser

Agraria Balsa Flower Diffuser, $50-$95
Instead of traditional reed diffuser sticks, Agraria’s lovely PetiteEssence home diffuser collection uses thinly sliced pieces of naturally grown balsa wood folded into Sola flowers to diffuse the scent and also add to the ambiance. Choose from Agraria’s eight essential oil blends or, for the indecisive gift giver, get a collection of four scents for $95.

For the Discerning Beauty

Pacifica Perfume Wanderlust Trio

Pacifica Perfume Wanderlust Roll-on Perfume Trio, $19
These roll-on perfumes are the perfect size to travel with. Whatever you’re doing, you can bring Indian Coconut Nectar, Island Vanilla, and Tuscan Blood Orange with you. All Pacifica Perfumes are made without phthalates, parabens, carmine, beeswax, lanoline, mineral oils, petroleum or peanut oil—plus they’re 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free. They also have a great selection of make up to gift (or keep for yourself).

EWG Gift Basket

EWG Donation Gift Box, $150
For a $150 donation to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the nation’s leading nonprofit working to change the debate over environmental health, you get a magnificent holiday gift basket that includes the Weelicious Cookbook, the EWG’s A Year of Healthy Living booklet, Klean Kanteen stainless steel pint glasses, a ChicoBag travel zipper pouch, Core bamboo kitchen tongs, two ECO LunchBox cloth napkins, To-Go Ware RePEaT Utensil set, Earthbound Farm’s granola, Seeds of Change certified organic seeds, and more than $70-worth of savings in coupons from EWG-approved companies.

Brilliant Earth Silver Charm Pendant

A Brilliant Earth Charm Pendant, $75
This lovely silver charm pendant is made from recycled silver and is ethically sourced. And, with each purchase before December 11th, Brilliant Earth will make a donation to the International Rescue Committee that provides creative and comforting toys to kids in need. If you want to spend a bit more, they also have a lovely recycled silver wave pendant with an ethically sourced sapphire.

For the Green Thumb

Back to the Roots Mushroom Farm

Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Farm, $20
Grow your own organic gourmet Peal Oyster mushrooms in just 10 days! This kit comes in a box ready to go, just mist and watch the mushrooms pop up—this is also great for kids! There are larger options available, like this Shittake or Pearl Oyster Mushroom Log from Terrain.

Boskke Hanging Plant

Boskke Sky Planter, $18
For your surrealist gardener friend, try this upside-down hanging planter made of recycled materials. An internal reservoir system gradually feeds water to plant roots, and makes a super cool modern room decoration!

Hanging Tillandsia

Hanging Tillandsia, $32
Hanging plants is all the rage—this dainty and adorable aerophyte (meaning, it can live on the air alone) can be placed in a little glass bauble for a perfect self-sustaining terrarium. This could be a perfect space-brightening gift for someone with a…not-so-green thumb?

For the Eco-Techie

GoalZero Solar Recharging Station

GoalZero Solar Recharger, $75
This portable solar panel and USB re-charger has your back when you need to re-charge your phone or other small electronics. With just 4 hours of full sun, you will be fully loaded and ready to go!


Eco Amp, $10
This environmentally-friendly iPhone speaker amplifier is constructed from FSC-certified 100 percent post-consumer paper and printed with soy-based ink for a bunch of funky cool patterns.

Driftwood iPod Dock

Driftwood iPhone Dock, $62 (limited time sale)
This supercool iPod dock is constructed from driftwood found on the Maine shoreline. Each is unique and adds a modern, natural style to your room. It amplifies whatever you are listening to by resonating through the hollow wood. There are also options for iPhones 4, 5, 6, and 6 Plus.

For the Tea-Lover

Aiya Ceremonial Matcha Tea Set, Deep Soil

Aiya Matcha Tea Set, $88
This Japanese tea ceremony kit includes a 30 gram tin of matcha tea, a bamboo whisk and scoop, and a matcha tea bowl, plus a 20-minute documentary explaining the proper method of preparing traditional matcha tea. There are various options for style of bowl and you can upgrade the type of matcha: ceremonial, organic or premium.

Numi Flowering Tea

Numi Flowering Tea Set, $40
Winter is the perfect time to start a new tea-drinking habit, and this flowering tea set is as fun to brew as it is to drink. This tea set comes with a 16-ounce glass teapot through which you can watch a hand-sewn tea and flower ball blossom into a beautiful exotic flower suspended in the water as it brews.

For the Foodie

Theo Holiday Chocolate Bar

Theo Holiday Chocolates, $16
Give the gift of fair trade, organic, non-GMO and tasty chocolates this holiday season! This collection of four bars of holiday chocolate is $16, though any option from Theo really is delightfully delicious.

Mockingbird Meadows Medicinal Honey Sampler

Mockingbird Meadows Medicinal Honey Sampler, $62
Try these herb-infused raw honeys for a multitude of health benefits, including relieving stomach aches and carsickness, inducing restful sleep and boosting immune function. These are produced by contributing Mother Earth Living writer, ethnobotanist and author, Dawn Combs.

Home Cheese Making by Rikki Carroll

Home Cheese Making by Rikki Carroll, $17
Another gift that keeps on giving! If you know someone keen on food experimentation or homesteading, encourage them to make their own cheese, following recipes from Rikki Carroll in this wonderfully comprehensive guide. This is a delicious addition to any cook’s shelf. Also, check out more Mother Earth Living approved books at the Mother Earth Living Bookstore!

Nibblr Snack PackNibblr Snack Pack, Chai Mix

A snack subscription from Nibblr, $23
Give the gift of healthy snacking with a subscription to a healthy snack service. Nibblr provides healthy nut and fruit mixes, as well as some sweet and chocolate-y mixes delivered right to your door. This holiday season, they’re selling a four-box gift subscription for $23.

Natural Home Products 9-piece cookware set

Natural Home Products Nine-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware, $89
Nothing says “I love you” better than durable stainless steel! Natural Home’s recycled stainless steel is high-quality, dishwasher safe and scratch-resistant. This nine-piece nesting cookware set, including three saucepans with lids, two skillets and a bamboo slotted spoon, costs only $89 (marked down from $170!).

Mother Earth News Peace Blend Coffee

MOTHER EARTH NEWS Peace Blend Coffee, $11
This fair-trade organic coffee is subtle and smooth—a perfect addition to your morning routine. There are three roasts to choose from, and whole and ground options.

Natural Home Products Pizza Cutter

Eco-friendly kitchen gadgets and utensils!
One great way to subtly ask for a build-your-own pizza party invite is to give your friend an eco-friendly pizza cutter, made from recycled stainless steel and bamboo, for just $3!

For Kids

Eco-Stars Crayons

Eco Stars Recycled Wax Crayon, $10
These fun, star-shaped crayons are 100 percent recycled and recyclable (including the packaging!), are nontoxic, and made in the U.S. A box set of 20 crayons offers 100 points of color!


Eco-Dough, $20
These earth-friendly eco-doughs are made with organic fruit, veggie and plant extracts and essential oils—no strange ingredients or chemicals for your little one’s hands! A package comes with five fun, vibrant colors.


EarthOpoly, $25
Your kids will learn about keeping the Earth clean and happy as they work their way around the board becoming caretakers of parks and beautiful places, collecting Carbon Credits and trading them into Clean Air. This game is made with recycled materials and vegetable-based ink.

Mancala board

Mancala Board, $20
This popular African stone game is crafted out of locally sourced, sustainably harvested pine, and comes with 60 beautifully colored stones.

Little Nursery Rhymes

Little Nursery Rhymes, $16
This adorable set of 10 tiny books, each filled with a beloved nursery rhyme, is made from recycled materials with vegetable-based ink, and includes 10 classic nursery rhyme stories including “Little Miss Muffet,” “Twinkle Twinkle” and “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider”

For the Eco-Conscious

Klean Kanteen Classic 18oz Water Bottle

Klean Kanteen Water Bottle, $18-33
Show that you care about someone’s health and hydration with a nontoxic, reusable water bottle. These stainless steel water bottles are free from all BPA and other toxins, and is unlined and uncoated so you don’t have to worry about plastic or epoxy leaking into your loved one’s water.

Brush with Bamboo Starter Pack

Brush with Bamboo Toothbrushes, $20 for 4
Is someone you know trying to convert to zero-waste living? Give them a helping hand by introducing them to Brush with Bamboo toothbrushes, USDA-certified biobased product with no BPA or toxic chemicals, with a biodegradable handle and recyclable nylon bristles that comes in compostable packaging. They also sell bamboo drinking straws!

Be Good Pixley Socks

BeGood Socks, $20 for 2 pairs
These comfy and fun socks are made from organically combed cotton and local sourced yarn, plus every purchase gives 12 gallons of purified water to rural areas in Kenya and Uganda.

Subscription Options to Mother Earth Living

Mother Earth Living Gift Subscription! $15
If you love our magazine, then everyone you know will love it too! Give a one-year (6 issues) subscription to your friends and relatives. Print and digital subscriptions are available! Bonus, you could keep your print issues in a special MOTHER EARTH NEWS binder.

Check out some easy DIY gift ideas, too!
Don’t forget to wrap everything in earth-friendly wrapping paper, or at least try not to use tape!

Happy gift-giving!


A staple in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, turmeric is one of the world’s most versatile herbs. When ground, turmeric’s rhizome (underground stem) yields a vibrant yellow powder that’s abundant in health-boosting properties—as little as 1/4 teaspoon a day has measurable healing effects. This powder also makes a wonderful addition to homemade body-care products, home crafting and—most deliciously—cooking. A member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), turmeric stains whatever it comes into contact with so use it with caution.

Uses For Turmeric 

1. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY: Chronic inflammation can stress and injure cells, which in turn can trigger disease—everything from heart disease and cancer to joint issues and skin problems. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory. Curcumin, the active substance in turmeric, lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

2. REDUCE ARTHRITIC PAIN: Thanks to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, researchers believe turmeric may be effective at relieving osteoarthritis pain, as well as reducing swelling. Curcumin is often combined with bromelain or piperine (found in peppers) to help increase its absorption in the body. Doctor Andrew Weil recommends 400 to 600 mg of standardized 95 percent curcuminoids, three times a day for patients with arthritis.

3. CANCER PREVENTION: There has been a great deal of research on turmeric’s anticancer properties. Research is ongoing, but evidence suggests curcumin may help prevent, control or even kill several types of cancer, including breast, colon, prostate and skin cancer. This may be because curcumin is a strong antioxidant, protecting the body’s cells from molecular damage.

4. ANTI-FLU: Test tube and animal studies suggest turmeric may effectively kill bacteria and viruses. Mix the following ingredients to make a deliciously warming turmeric toddy to prevent and treat cold and flu: 12 ounces hot water, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root, 2 pinches cayenne powder, 1 tablespoon honey, juice of 1/2 lemon. Drink up to three times a day. You can also sprinkle turmeric powder over a slice of honey-drizzled toast.

5. BRAIN BOOST: Curcumin may also prevent the onset of dementia, as it has been shown to break down amyloid-beta plaques in lab-based studies. People who eat curry two to three times a week may have a lower risk.

6. SKIN POULTICE: Use turmeric powder to make a poultice to treat skin inflammation. Mix 1 tablespoon ground turmeric with enough water to form a paste. (For an even more powerful poultice, add a little curcumin extract.) Spread the paste between two strips of gauze and place on the affected area and cover with an elastic bandage. Make sure to change daily.

7. BRIGHTEN TEETH: One of turmeric’s most surprising uses—especially considering it stains nearly everything it touches—is its ability to whiten teeth. Mix about 1/2 tablespoon dried turmeric powder with a small bowl of water to form a thick paste. Apply paste to toothbrush and brush as normal. (Be sure to rinse well, and maybe follow-up with an additional brushing.) On top of its whitening powers, turmeric’s antifungal and antibacterial properties will boost oral health, as well.

8. FACE MASK: Turmeric is wonderful for skin. Use it to reduce signs of aging, decrease the appearance of dark circles and clear up acne via a DIY face mask. To make, combine 1/4 teaspoon turmeric with 2 teaspoons flour, a few drops of honey and a few drops water. If it’s too thick, add more water; if it’s too thin, add more turmeric or flour. Massage paste into skin using circular motions, let sit for 10 minutes and then rinse with a warm wash cloth.

9. TREAT SCALP CONDITIONS: Another of turmeric’s body-care benefits is its ability to deter dandruff and improve the condition of your scalp. Mix turmeric with a good-quality carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba, and massage into your scalp. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then shampoo and style as usual.

10. HENNA: Before henna became a part of Hindu bridal ceremony tradition, turmeric was used to ornament brides. Use this golden spice to fill in beautiful red-hued henna tattoos, creating a lovely contrast of color. To apply, dampen a small paintbrush in water and coat it in turmeric. Paint the area of the henna pattern you want to stain yellow; let dry, then wipe off the excess. Don’t wash the area until 12 hours after applying.

11. DYE EGGS: You can also harness turmeric’s staining powers to naturally dye Easter eggs. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons ground turmeric to a boil, then let simmer, covered, for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature; strain. To use, pour mixture into a glass jar, stir in 2 tablespoons white vinegar and submerge hard-boiled eggs until they’ve reached the desired yellow.

12. SCRAMBLED EGGS: In a skillet over medium heat, sauté a tablespoon of turmeric in olive oil, then spread around the pan. Pour about four whisked eggs into the pan and stir while cooking until no longer runny for a delicious and healthful breakfast.

13. CURRY: Turmeric’s most commonly used in curry. For an inexpensive recipe, check out this Potato Peanut Curry recipe.

14. GOLDEN MILK: Use this wonderfully pungent herb in an Ayurvedic concoction known as Golden Milk. Mix 1/4 cup turmeric powder with 1/2 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil and cook until a thick paste is formed. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of this turmeric paste with 1 cup milk and 1 teaspoon almond oil. (Save the remaining paste in the refrigerator for future use). Flavor the mixture with honey, stir over low heat and bring just to a boil. Finally, blend until you have a foamy and delicious healing beverage.

Gina DeBacker Headshot Gina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living, where she manages the health section of the magazine.

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.