Have you seen our new selection of apps? Mother Earth Living now offers a FREE Wiser Living library app filled with great resources that readers will love having right at their fingertips, including recipes for homemade cleaners, tips on herbal remedies and specialized digital issues of the magazine. To get our collection of reader resources saved to your phone, simply download our Mother Earth Living Wiser Living library app from the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. After downloading the app, you can browse through our resources and download those that most interest you. Best of all, as we continue to create new guides and resources the library app will automatically update you with new content.
Guide to Herbal Remedies
Most recently, we created the Guide to Herbal Remedies. This resource makes herbal health simple by breaking down 20 herbs you should know and 20 health concerns you probably want to know more about. Choose from our list of herb profiles to learn more about standout healers such as aloe, an African succulent that can be completely neglected and still produce a cooling gel for superficial burns, cuts, poison oak and insect bites; milk thistle, a prickly plant that makes a great liver tonic; or turmeric, a golden spice that has a myriad of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and astringent properties. Search through our list of common disorders to discover herbal remedies for health concerns such as arthritis (willow bark tea can help ease arthritic symptoms), cholesterol (one clove of garlic a day can decrease total cholesterol by about 9 percent) and insomnia (stuff a handful of hops strobiles into a sleep pillow).
If you’re looking for natural, healthier ways to treat common ailments, such as allergies and the common cold, or take preventative measures for fighting off heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious health problems, then this easy-to-use resource is a perfect fit for you. Plus, did I mention it’s free!
To start making your own herbal remedies, download the FREE Mother Earth Living library app from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store right now.
Don’t forget to visit the Mother Earth Living Wiser Living apps page for information about all of our app offerings.
Gina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves having this app on her phone to quickly reference her favorite herbal remedies. (Tea tree oil is a magical thing!)
"The noblest of fruits is the apple. Let the most beautiful or swiftest have it" –Henry David Thoreau, 1851
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" originally comes from the Old English proverb “To eat an apple before going to bed will make the doctor beg for his bread.” But this popular saying isn’t just a bit of folk lore. Apples are extremely good for your health. Take advantage of apples’ health benefits by eating them whole, using them in your cooking or—my new favorite way—using apple-derived apple cider vinegar. I recommend you go one step further and double up on the health benefits by pairing apples with honey—another health-benefiting food that is also a natural antibacterial. When you mix apple cider vinegar and honey together you benefit from natural sugars, vitamins, minerals and enzymes with one swift health choice.
The Health Benefits of Honey
"We've got to trust someone—why not let it be the bee?” –D.C. Jarvis
Honey—a sweet food made by nectar-loving bees—is a popular alternative to sugar in many desserts. Rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes, raw honey is helpful for soothing the stomach, as it is said to be a natural laxative that can improve constipation and prevent fermentation from occurring in your gastrointestinal tract. Honey is also excellent at improving the absorption of calcium, increasing your hemoglobin count and treating nutrient-deficient ailments such as anemia. This popular sweetener is also a natural antibiotic and antibacterial that is useful in treating parasites, and bacterial and fungal infections. In fact, one Bulgarian study of almost 18,000 patients showed that honey improved chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma and hay fever, and stimulated the immune system.
Raw honey can treat allergies, anemia and insomnia, just to name a few.
When applied externally, this antibacterial treats infections, skin grafts, gangrene, stings, bites and burns. In clinical settings, honey has been found to effectively treat fist-sized ulcers and first to third degree burns (found more effective than silver sulfadiazine), where complete healing was “reported without the need for skin grafts and with no infection or muscle loss” by stimulating new tissue growth. It can even draw poisons from the body. So as long as the wound is clean, honey is an excellent healer!
Lastly, eating a spoonful of raw honey can also treat a slew of ailments, including insomnia, hyperactivity, nasal congestion, fatigue, sore throats, stress, osteoporosis and migraines.
Note: When buying honey try to get it as local as possible. Also, raw and organic honey is a lot more medicinally potent.
The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Historically, apples have been known to have medicinal properties. When they are not in season they can be fermented and preserved in root cellars as either hard cider or apple cider vinegar. Today, apple cider vinegar is widely available in many brands, one of the most popular being Bragg.
I recently read that the founder of Bragg feeds his older chickens a mixture of apple cider vinegar and honey for 10 days before they are to be served as dinner so that, when cooked, they taste more tender and juicy. He thought that his older chickens didn’t taste as good as his younger chickens because his older chickens had a potassium deficiency; the combination of apple cider vinegar and honey are fed to them to help boost their potassium levels. In the book Folk Medicine: A New England Almanac of Natural Health Care, author D.C. Jarvis says that potassium deficiency symptoms can include loss of memory, alertness, muscle fatigue and lack of endurance as well as sensitivity to cold, susceptibility to sickness and constipation. Lack of potassium can also lead to loss of appetite, nausea, slow healing wounds, stiff joints and leg cramps.
Apple cider vinegar is a delicious must-have in the kitchen and medicine cabinet.
Apple cider vinegar may also prevent and treat acid crystal build-up in the body and joints. Acid crystal build-up can lead to hard, stiff joints and tissue, which could result in arthritis. If you ingest apple cider vinegar, these crystals will pass through the body harmlessly via the kidneys and your body’s natural elimination, keeping your joints and skin supple and elastic.
Apple cider vinegar is also excellent at keeping the blood thin, thus improving circulation and digestion, especially when animal fat intake is high.
Like honey, apple cider vinegar can also prevent the growth of bacteria and mold, both on the surface of your produce and within your digestive tract. This is why apple cider vinegar is useful in treating bacterial and fungal infections such as candida. Apple cider vinegar can even help relieve allergies from animal dander, pollen and food; plus it treat sore throats, sinus infections and chronic fatigue.
What is Switchel?
Take advantage of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar and honey by making switchel. Switchel, which is sometimes called the “original Gatorade,” is a refreshing, electrolyte-laden drink originating in the 1600s. Drink it one to two times a day to quench thirst, restore energy. You can even apply this beverage topically to treat burns, shingles, varicose veins, night sweats and poison ivy.
Switchel is a delicious and easy way to get the health benefits of both apple cider vinegar and honey, supplying all the sugars, vitamins, minerals and enzymes available! *Recipe courtesy herbalist Katherine Krumwiede
• 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons raw honey
• 1 quart filtered water
1. Mix vinegar and honey till dissolved.
2. Add water and stir again till mixed thoroughly.
3. Enjoy! Makes 1 quart.
• “The healing power of honey: From burns to weak bones, raw honey can help” by Kelly Joyce Neff
• “Enjoy fresh produce and a healthy glow with apple cider vinegar” by Kelly Joyce Neff
• “Switchel,” courtesy Diamond Stone Oriental Medicine, Inc.
• Cider Vinegar: The Natural Healer by Margaret Hills
• Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System by Paul C. Bragg and Patricia Bragg
• The Healing Powers of Honey by Cal Orey
Freelance writer, community herbalist and medicine maker, Jennifer Heinzel hails from the cold city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jennifer is an avid writer, especially for anything folklore or myth-related to herbalism. She has written for the Chequamegon co-op, the United Plant Savers' journal, and the NorthPoint Health & Wellness center. Visit Thymes Ancient Remedies to read more from Jennifer.
Sometimes your only option is to buy on the fly. No time to consider what brand is better, or even how your purchase gives a stamp of approval to the company behind the product.
But, when you think about it, if you put as much effort into considering the purchases you make as you do with the charitable donations you give, you could be changing lives or supporting causes you believe in each time you take out your wallet.
Photo By maska82/Fotolia
In fact, where you spend your money is about the biggest statement you can make, whether you are buying food, products or buying into ideas. Each swipe of your card is your thumbs up on policies, organizations and people that matter to you. Actually, it’s the easiest way to get heard.
Purchase with a purpose isn’t a new concept, yet as more and more brands include supporting social good as part of their business model, your chances for showing support are gaining ground.
According to goodpurpose® 2012 study: “Not only are consumers making purchase decisions with Purpose top of mind, they are also buying and advocating for purposeful brands. Seventy-two percent of consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t; a 39 percent increase since 2008.”
There are many brands worth investing in not just because of their great quality but also because of the company's dedication to the environment, passion for giving back to the community and commitment to supporting organizations that make our world a better place.
The obvious choices are shoes that help people in need, clothing dedicated to bettering the environment, food that cares for its workers farming the fields. When you buy one of these products, you are helping a cause and participating in its success. And that feels really good.
But what about companies that aren’t easily recognized as doing good, the smaller brands making a huge impact? Falling Whistles, for example, or Hand in Hand soap. For consumers faced with walls of products and a sea of options, all of this spirited social entrepreneurialism has its benefits.
A quick search on companies giving back will expand your buying power, but if time evades you, apps like Rank a Brand make supporting sustainable companies fast and easy. And here’s a no-brainer: stay close to home and pick up food from your local farm stand or select garments from a locally owned shop to make the statement "I support my community." Just as good, buy handmade.
Then there’s B Corporations (the B stands for Benefit), which have magnified a new interpretation of what it means to be successful in business. B Corps, a standard created six years ago by two entrepreneurs, are certified for meeting strict environmental principles and social responsibility, being good to your employees and generous within your community.
Applying for B Corp status helps companies loom above altruistic-boasting organizations that don’t follow through on advertised commitments. Last I checked there were more than 700 B Corps, some that stand out as Rock Stars of the New Economy.
B Corp Certification, however, can be a pricey commitment for small businesses, and there are companies with philanthropic initiatives already in place that don’t see the certification necessary. Either way, when you take the time to consider where you put your money, you too can B the Change.
Margaret Gilmour is a freelance writer who loves the outdoors and knows everything is better if it’s just-picked and all-natural. You can find her at Fresh-Basil.com (where she plans to spend more time).
Air travel is wonderful for bringing new experiences, perspectives and opportunities. In addition to its many benefits, however, travel can also be very taxing on our bodies, health and wellness. But there are simple things you can do to stay healthy and happy while traveling—read on to learn my tried and tested tips.
As a former international flight attendant with more than 20 years of experience as a professional traveler, I have learned the hard way that there are a few things I simply cannot fly without. Taking a few minutes to make sure my carry-on contains these proven essentials has made all the difference for me on many flights.
Here’s my list of the top 4 things my carry-on cannot do without:
1. Noise-reducing headphones or earplugs
I’ve learned through experience that these can make a big difference to not only enjoying my music, book, nap or the in-flight movie more than I would without them, but they also help reduce stress by reducing the constant background cabin noise that can take a toll on your nervous system and energy levels without you even realizing it.
2. A large bottle of water and Oxylent multivitamin drink mix packets
Staying hydrated is perhaps the primary factor in staying healthy and comfortable while traveling. The air inside airline cabins is only one-third to one-half as humid as the air we encounter on a day-to-day basis, and dehydration can quickly result. Drinking at least a cup of water per hour is important, but research shows that electrolytes may be more effective than water alone.
Studies suggest that on long flight, drinking electrolytes in water is more effective than plain water, which is why I always add a packet or two of Oxylent to my water bottle, since it contains as many or more electrolytes than most sports drinks, in addition to a full panel of vitamins and minerals that help boost my immune system while flying.
3. A small gift for the flight crew
Everyone always likes being appreciated, especially hard-working flight attendants. Their lives often involve leaving loved ones behind or missing important events in their lives while they work long hours and holidays. A simple little gift of recognition is highly recommended, especially on long-haul flights—you’ll find that any in-flight requests you may have will be happily accommodated, or that you may just receive some extra attention and appreciation without even asking! I usually bring a box of chocolates.
4. An attitude of appreciation
Finally, I always try to remember to appreciate not only the privilege of being able to fly, but also the fact that my fellow travelers and the flight crew are doing the best they can while they are often tired or stressed. Being mindful of these facts helps the inconveniences of air travel roll off my back rather than raise my own stress and tension.
I hope that my tips can help keep you happy and healthy on your next flight—wherever your journeys may take you.
After experiencing health challenges while traveling that led her to discover first-hand just how essential good nutrition is to health and happiness, Lisa Lent became determined to find a better way to supplement in order to maintain her own health and help others avoid similar health challenges. Her initial dream to create a supplement for travelers ultimately led to something far greater with Oxylent—a high quality effervescent multivitamin drink that has become the ultimate supplement for everyday life! To read more about Lisa’s story, visit: http://www.vitalah.com/CEO.php
I have made up my mind. I even have dreams where I advocate for eating organic. I am certain that to take care of my family, our planet, and myself, choosing organic foods is the wiser choice.
I know that you have likely seen countless articles that either claim organic foods are better or ones that claim they are not. I think that the answer is within our grasp by applying good ole common sense.
We live in an age where we are told science knows best. I am pro science but I am also pro self-determination and using basic reasoning skills that do not depend on a PhD, test tubes, petri dishes or field sampling. For those of you who need science to confirm, there are some significant studies for review.
In a factual presentation shown below in two columns, the Mayo Clinic has outlined some significant differences between organic and conventional agricultural methods.
Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.
Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
Spray synthetic insecticides to reduce pests and disease.
Spray pesticides from natural sources; use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
Use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds.
Use environmentally-generated plant-killing compounds; rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.
Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.
To my mind, the major points of difference are significant. One method uses non-synthetic inputs and works with natural systems like crop rotation, beneficial insects, non-synthetic pesticides derived from things like cayenne to produce food. Animals are fed organic food and not given antibiotics and growth hormones and are allowed to be outside. This is organic agriculture. The other method uses toxic synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum to control weeds and insects and then applies synthetic fertilizers derived from natural gas to make the plants grow. Animals are given antibiotics and growth hormones and are held in confining and crowded conditions with no access to the outdoors. This is conventional agriculture.
Photo Courtesy Seleyn DeYarus
Photo Courtesy Seleyn DeYarus
Now we arrive at the moment where a common sense evaluation comes to bear. Which approach sounds healthier to you? Which methods seem like they would work in harmony with earth’s ecosystems? Which system appears like it might cause pollution as a byproduct? Which system seems like it respects animals? Which system would you like to pick the fruit straight from the source and eat?
You may not arrive at the same conclusion as I do—that is the joy of self-determination—but for me, the choice is clear: organic. Many people like to point out that organic food costs more. I suggest that the costs that you are not calculating are the impacts to our individual and planetary health from exposure to chemicals, which ends up costing much more in the long term. For example, glyphosate (the active compound in RoundUp) is now found in the rain water in the Midwest during the growing season. Or the area known as the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico caused by nitrogen runoff from synthetic fertilizers from the heartland of America. These large-scale impacts suggest that we have passed a threshold of acceptable contamination of our natural world caused by how we are producing food.
My choice to eat organic has determined my professional life path as well. I own the only 100 percent organic gift basket company is the USA aptly named America’s Best Organics. Our mission is to grow demand for organic by introducing people to organic foods with our healthy and delighting gift baskets and thereby increase the amount of farmland producing food organically. This commitment to organic farming is grounded in years of encountering the science behind organic food and agriculture during my tenure at The Organic Center, a 501(c)3 that conducts and reviews research worldwide on the qualitative and quantitative benefits of organic food and farming.
Photos Courtesy Seleyn DeYarus
We live in a world that is driven by many different competing interests—some serve the greater good and many do not. Food is a monumental topic since we all must eat to survive—so it is also about money and power. Determining the process by which we can produce the best food for our world is a huge debate. I encourage you to investigate Genetically Engineered Organisms (GMOs or GE food), chemical-intensive agriculture and organic and biodynamic agriculture. The United Nations has issued several reports that conclude organic farming can feed the world. I will leave you with a few more links to assist in your inquiry into GMOs, food security, and why organic can feed the world. Enjoy the process of becoming better informed, knowing that the choices we make do indeed make a difference for our world and ourselves. May you eat and live well.
Seleyn 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.
Artist Sandra Stevens wasn’t a typical child of the 50s. Growing up on her family’s 540-acre ranch near Houston, she rebuffed baby dolls and tea parties to play with duck decoys and cow skulls. She had a pony and occasionally rode the family’s cows. “I was an antisocial, weird, little kid who liked to draw pictures,” she recalled. Her parents encouraged her talent and arranged for professional art lessons.
Although she always painted as a hobby, Sandra chose a career as a fine-art photographer. In 2007, she picked up her paint brush on a fulltime basis. Animals— and cows, in particular—inspire most of her oil paintings.
Artist Sandra Stevens with two of her cow paintings at the Holland St. Gallery in Bellville, Texas. Photo By Pat Pape.
“From childhood on, my comfort, reassurance, love and joy came from and went to animals,” she said. “I'm not very comfortable in social situations, but animals fascinate and attract me. And for some reason, they seem to be attracted to me. My husband Robert says I have a natural compassion and empathy for them. When I make an animal feel healthy, safe and happy, I feel the same thing inside myself.”
Sandra paints at her home in Sugarland, Texas, and at her small ranch near Columbus, Texas, where she raises Longhorn cattle. She also travels with a camera and has taken thousands of bovine photos. Many times she has stopped her car on a country road to snap an appealing heifer whose portrait may eventually hang above a fireplace.
Sandra paints at her home studio in Sugarland, Texas and at her Longhorn ranch in Columbus, Texas. Photo By Pat Pape.
Some of her work is realistic, and some is fantasy, such as the white-faced cow posing next to a mirror, red dress and red high heels. Its title is “Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes,” the same name as the 1958 hit by singer Bobby Freeman. “I like a realistic animal with an unrealistic background,” she said of the painting.
Sandra’s canvas cows have inspired a following among ranchers and city-living country lovers. Her work has been selected for juried shows and used as the poster art for other events. Dr. Temple Grandin, the well-known expert on autism and an animal advocate, owns one of her paintings. And even though Sandra paints other rural subjects, cows remain her passion. “Texas Longhorns are real live art on the hoof,” she said. “I’m fascinated with bringing them to life on canvas.”
There have been many Longhorns in Sandra’s life, but her all-time favorite is Cinco, a 17-year-old steer who enjoys a leisurely life on her ranch and has frequently been the subject of her art. “His heart is so totally pure and kind,” she said. “It was something I felt the first time I saw him—more than being impressed with his horns and his beautiful coat. I literally laid my face against him and felt the kindness in his soul and knew I could trust him. In no time at all, I'd climbed up on his back, and we've been more or less inseparable since then.”
Cinco is Sandra’s favorite Longhorn, model and riding cow. Photo By Pat Pape.
Yes. Sandra has given up the duck decoys, but she is still riding cows, as evidenced by her recent photo with Cinco.
Sandra’s work is shown at Marta Stafford Fine Arts in Marble Falls, Texas; Holland St. Gallery in Bellville, Texas; and Ranch Antiques in Brenham, Texas. Her most recent paintings are featured on her website at www.sandrastevensart.com.
Pat Pape is a freelance writer and communications consultant. She lives north of Dallas on five acres, dubbed Pigs Fly Ranch, along with her husband, cats, dogs and pygmy goats.
Every year at Natural Products Expo West (an amazing products fair that features all of my favorite natural goodies in one massive convention hall), the press room showcases new natural products out on the market—the "Best of the West." I was asked to vote on my favorite Best of the West products just by scoping them out. Here were my three picks for the most intriguing and innovative.
Ozonated Jojoba Oil with Lavender
What It Is
This beauty product infuses organic jojoba oil with activated oxygen to form a moisturizing skin cream. Lavender essential oil is added after the oxonation process.
Why I Love It
I adore jojoba oil. It is an excellent moisturizer and it helps control the oil your skin produces. Every other night, I use jojoba oil as a natural cleanser and rub it gently onto my face. It’s a great facial treatment that supposedly helps trick your skin into producing less oil, and it effectively removes my eye makeup. However, I have personally never before heard of oxonating oils such as jojoba. What a great idea! You get the same skin benefits as the oil, but in a creamier form that is easier to apply.
Impressed by its innovation, this was the first Best of West product I voted for. After taking my PurO3 sample home, I fell in love. The cream is refreshing, and the lavender oil adds a scent perfect for winding down in the evenings. Apply it to your face every other night 30 minutes before going to bed so as to let the oil absorb into your skin. The company also offers oxonated avocado, coconut, hemp, sunflower and olive oil.
Organic Slam Dunx yogurt dippers
By Plum Organics
What It Is
Slam Dunx are a line of portable and fun healthy snacks for kids: vanilla wheat sticks served alongside a creamy vanilla-coconut yogurt dip.
Why I Love It
This line of products has actually been on the market for awhile, but I had never heard of it—whether that is because I’m not a mother or because I just don’t pay that much attention. I voted for this product because it reminded me of the similar (but sugar-heavy) Dunkaroo snacks I used to enjoy so much as a kid. (Any 90s kid would agree with me here.) I love that this children’s snack offers the same dipping fun that kids find exciting, but with a health-conscious twist: It’s made with wholesome ingredients such as real yogurt, and it is free of artificial flavors. The best part? It tastes great! How can your kids reject such a tasty snack?
Sleepytime Snooz Berry Natural Sleep Aid
By Celestial Seasonings
What It Is
Made with melatonin and herbal sleep-aids such as valerian, chamomile and lemon balm, this “snooze shot” is designed to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Why I Love It
Although I love drinking tea (I am an Herb Companion alum after all) I don’t always want to take the time start a pot of tea—especially after 9 o’clock. But I liked the idea that these natural “snooze shots” are available pre-packaged and ready to drink. This particular one is flavored with stevia and other natural berry flavors.
After tasting it, I was thrown off guard by its bitter taste. The berry flavors are there to help it go down smoother, but I still had some difficulties. Despite that setback, I have to say—I enjoyed a good night’s rest. Do not exceed one bottle per day.
Gina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails traveling and testing new natural products.