Natural Health
Better living through nature


Natural Remedies and Relief for Seasonal Allergies

The changing seasons mean something different for everyone, but for many millions of Americans, they mean constant irritation from seasonal allergies. The symptoms range from mildly runny noses and watery eyes to sore throats and coughing. If you’re sick of your allergies but don’t want to pop a pharmaceutical antihistamine, check out these natural options for preventing and treating allergies.

Avoid mucus-producing foods

Basic allergy relief starts with changes in our diets. Allergy symptoms can also be tied to food allergies, so this is a good place to start. To make your symptoms better, avoid mucus-producing foods such as dairy products, eggs, chocolate, fried and processed foods and refined flour. Instead, eat non-mucus forming foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, cold-pressed oils, and raw nuts and seeds.

fruit in a jar
Apples, berries and fruits high in Vitamin C can help reduce the onset of allergies. Photo By Elvis Ripley/Courtesy Flickr. 

Food such as apples, berries, grapefruit, onions, tea and wine contain quercetin, a type of flavonoid, which prohibits the release of histamines. A Japanese study found that people who took quercetin had a 96 percent decrease in histamine release. Vitamin C also has a natural antihistamine effect, so be sure to eat plenty of foods with this vitamin.

Diets high in essential fatty acids are also helpful in deterring allergies, especially hay fever. Studies suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids decreases the risk of hay fever by reducing the production of inflammatory chemicals. If you’re not eating a lot of fish, take a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement.

Probiotics can also reduce the risk of allergies. These good bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus) keep immune systems healthy and can prevent allergic responses. Probiotics can be found in foods such as cultured yogurt, acidophilus milk, some soft cheeses, sauerkraut, pickles and miso soup.

Herbal Allergy Relief

Several herbs act as natural antihistamines, while others are useful at treating allergy-related symptoms.

stinging nettle
Stinging nettle can help prevent allergic responses. Photo By Seth M/Courtesy Flickr. 

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus): A Swiss study found that this herb was as effective as popular over-the-counter histamines at controlling allergy symptoms when taken four times daily. It relieves sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and other symptoms, and it won’t leave you feeling drowsy like some allergy medications will. Because this herb contains substances potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys, butterbur should not be taken in a raw form.

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica): Brush up against this plant’s living leaves, and your skin will complain. Sip its dried leaves in a tea, and your throat and nose will thank you. Stinging nettle contains anti-inflammatory substances and flavonoids, which helps prevent allergic responses from happening. Take 300 to 500 mg daily.

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis): This herb has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. It can help decrease secretion from the nose and eyes. Take 1 capsule three times a day. For a relieving eye wash, add 5 drops of Eyebright tincture to a half ounce of saline.

eyebright flowers
Eyebright can be used to decrease mucus in the nose and throat, or it can be added to an eye wash for relief for itchy eyes. Photo By Tony Marsh/Courtesy Flickr. 

Bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica): This herb will help dry out excessive mucus in your nose and throat. If you have a dry or scratchy throat, however, use a different herbal treatment.

How do you prevent allergies? How do you treat your allergy symptoms?

10 Natural Remedies for Allergies

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. 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 blog on care2.com, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook

4-Step Natural Allergy Remedy

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

neti-pot
Photo by Adobestock/MandriaPix

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

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

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

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

coconut oil, sea salt and neti pot 

2. Keep your mucous membranes moisturized.

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

jar of local raw honey from oregon 

3. Eat local raw honey.

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

red clover tea 

4. Reduce intake of sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages.

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

Cheers to your health, now get outside and enjoy!


Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook!

The Impact Your Diet Has on Your Mental Health

You are what you eat. You hear that often as a way to stress the importance of good nutrition. We don’t really think about it, but it is true that the food we eat becomes part of our bodies. So when we eye that bag of potato chips, thinking about it turning into an increase in our waistline or another chin can make us reconsider purchasing it.

Eating too many “bad” foods like potato chips or cookies and other high fat and sugar, low nutrient foods can give us unhealthy bodies. Obesity is the root of many physical health problems, so controlling our food intake is essential.

But did you know that unhealthy eating also affects our mental health? In addition to gaining weight or increasing your cholesterol levels, you could be compromising your mental health by eating too many of the wrong kinds of food or avoiding the healthier choices.

fruit, yogurt and granola breakfast bowl
Unsplash/Jannis Brandt

Hearty Hippocampi

Australian researchers found a connection between the quality of one’s diet and common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Physical evidence was found by examining the hippocampus, a part of the brain which helps develop learning and memory and is important to mental health.

While taking many factors into account, such as socioeconomic status and family history of mental illness, researchers concluded diet affected the size of the hippocampus. Adults who ate a generally healthy diet typically had larger hippocampi, and those who had a poor diet had smaller hippocampi.

Researchers concluded that there was a direct link between diet and mental health. It’s not exact, but it’s further evidence that our diet is important to our overall health and mental well-being.

Necessary Nutrients

Your brain needs nutrients to be healthy. The only way they will get there is by you eating healthy. Your brain is a very complex organ, but it won’t tell you exactly what it needs. You have to educate yourself (using your brain) to find out.

You often hear how bad fat is for you, but it is essential to your diet and to your brain. Your brain is two-thirds fat and needs an ongoing supply of healthy fatty acids to maintain high-speed transmission of nerve impulses.

A diet rich in these “good” fats will also protect you from developing depression or degenerative brain diseases such Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

Vitamins C and E and other antioxidants protect the brain’s delicate structures from potential damage caused by free radicals in our diet and environment.

B-complex vitamins battle inflammation in the brain, which can be a byproduct of protein metabolism. This process keeps the blood flowing in your brain and reduces the risk of damage, which could affect coordination and reaction time.

Your brain needs protein to help control blood sugar levels and to maintain the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which affect our mood and energy levels. Think of them as nutrient superheroes battling the Grim Mood Reaper — and your only hope for survival.

Food for Thought

So what foods should we choose to properly feed our brains and keep us happy? Generally speaking, you should eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in meat and dairy products. That said, you can eat too much of anything. Almonds are touted as a super healthy food item, but they are high in calories and could contribute to obesity. Moderation is key.

Two well-known healthy diets are the Mediterranean and the Japanese diets. Both contain nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish. Red meat is consumed only in small portions and isn’t a major part of either diet.

These diets provide the essential vitamins and minerals your brain needs. There are no processed foods, and sugars come from natural sources. You could model your diet after either of these or make up your own. Just be sure to you choose foods that are rich in brain-protecting antioxidants.

Choose fish over meat, eat fresh fruits and vegetables when you can and avoid processed foods. Here are a few other tasty items you can include in your diet:

• Blueberries
• Cranberries
• Spinach
• Cilantro
• Walnuts
• Pecans
• Artichokes
• Red wine
• Chocolate

Yes, chocolate can be part of a brain-healthy diet! Just be sure to choose dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate or other overly processed chocolate in candy. The higher the cocoa content, the higher the number of antioxidants you will consume.

Healthy Habits

Diet is important to brain health. When we eat processed foods high in sugar, fat and carbohydrates, we feel sluggish and tired. A trip to a fast food restaurant might make us happy at first. But in the long run, it just adds to our lethargy and our waistline. And have you ever felt hungry shortly after eating an unhealthy “combo meal”? That’s not a good sign.

You can eat all the right foods and still have poor mental health. Depression and other mental disorders can affect us no matter our diet, so be sure to get medical attention if a change in diet doesn’t help you. Plus, eating is just one thing. We need physical activity, socialization and mental stimulation for our brains to be healthy. Be sure you don’t overlook these needs while focusing on your diet.

But your diet is something only you can control, so it’s important you make informed decisions before putting anything in your mouth. You will be whatever you eat, and your brain will respond accordingly.

6 Tips On Discussing Your Mental Health Issues

Do you have a difficult time in explaining your mental health issues to your family and friends and having them understand where you are coming from?

friends

Here are six suggestions on how to discuss your mental health issues with your relatives and friends.

1. Talk To A Counselor: The most important thing that you need to do is to talk to a counselor about your mental health problems. Seeking professional help will help you to overcome your current issues. In addition, a counselor will be able to give you additional advice on how to deal with your friends and peers.

2. Don’t Argue With Others: It is important that you do not get into arguments with those who are giving you a hard time. Your number one priority is mental health recovery. It is not your job to convince people that you are right and they are wrong. Your health is more important than what other people may think.

3. Watch Who You Hang Out With: It is important to surround yourself with positive people. Try to keep your distance from those people who are giving you a difficult time. Remember that your goal is to remain positive and hopeful. Do not let the negative people in your life bring you down.

4. You Are Not Alone: It can be very frustrating to deal with your mental health issues when your friends and relatives are on your case. Remember, you are not alone. There are millions of people around the world who struggle with their fears, anxieties, depression, and stresses. The key is to find those people who can relate to you through various support groups in your area.

5. Stand Your Ground: It is important to stand your ground when dealing with family members and friends who are giving you a hard time. Explain your situation and your feelings to the people in your life, however don’t let them hassle you. Your number one priority is to get better and not to please everyone that you know.

6. Join A Support Group: There are many mental health support groups in your area that can help you. Many hospitals, churches, and counselors in your area will be able to provide you with a list of groups. These support groups will be supportive of your situation and can give you additional advice regarding your problems. Joining a support group is very important in a person’s recovery because it will help you find people who can relate to you.

A Fall Favorite: The Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

L.CleekWhen you're carving pumpkins, you’re bound to be left with a surplus of pumpkin seeds. While many people simply scoop out and discard the seeds as they prepare to carve their jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, offer many health benefits.

Pumpkin seeds were first used by Native American tribes, who found the seeds to be useful in eliminating intestinal parasites. The tribes also used pumpkin seeds to treat kidney problems. The seeds are still used to prevent kidney stones, but it is not known how this works.

A 2005 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that 68 percent of Americans have a magnesium deficiency. A magnesium deficiency can eventually lead to serious conditions like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes if left untreated. One way to make sure you don’t fall into this category is to regularly incorporate pumpkin seeds into your diet. Pumpkin seeds are so high in magnesium that just one quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains approximately 87 percent of the recommended daily value of magnesium for an adult.

11-1-2010-1
Pumpkin seeds can prevent and fight kidney stones,
osteoporosis and prostate cancer. Photo by Food Thinkers/Courtesy Flickr

A great source of phosphorus and manganese, pumpkin seeds also contain protein, iron, calcium, zinc and a variety of vitamins including B, K and A. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the zinc in these seeds has proven to help prevent osteoporosis in both men and women. Omega-3 fatty acids found in pumpkin seeds create a natural anti-inflammatory effect so arthritis-sufferers can find relief without the negative side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Phytosterols, a naturally occurring compound found in pumpkin seeds, have been found to be helpful for lowering LDL cholesterol.

Pumpkin seed oil helps keep testosterone from inflicting damage on the male prostate cells and therefore helps reduce prostate cancer development. Pumpkin seeds help ease difficult urination by inhibiting enzymes associated with prostate enlargement. Pumpkin seed extract can also help those with incontinence issues by increasing testosterone levels and strengthening the pelvic muscles.

Though it is best to eat pumpkin seeds raw to preserve the nutritional elements, there are many other delicious ways to enjoy them.

• Add pumpkin seeds to soups or salads for a nutty flavor.
• Mix pumpkin seeds in with sautéed vegetables.
• Combine pumpkin seed oil with honey and olive oil for a healthy salad dressing.
• Roast pumpkin seeds with an endless combination of spices.

Try this easy recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Seeds!

Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Teeth Looking Healthy and Clean

For most people, brushing their teeth is part of their morning ritual, usually one of the very first things they do in their day. Many people also make it part of their nightly ritual, doing the same thing before they go to bed. Likely, there is some flossing and extra brushing throughout the day added in.

The priority of and frequency in which people brush their teeth shows their importance; teeth are perhaps one of the most important parts of your body to keep healthy and clean. Not only is your smile one of the first things people may notice about you, but you also need your teeth to eat and feed your body.

While keeping your mouth clean and healthy is important, it can be a strain on the environment. Excessive water used when brushing your teeth, plastic in toothbrushes and floss, and other environmentally stressful factors can be easy eliminated while retaining the health of your teeth.

dark-haired woman smiling
Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Keeping Your Smile Healthy

Besides wanting a beautiful, white smile, there are many important reasons to prioritize your oral health. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, unclean and untreated teeth can lead to significant health issues:

...In many cases, the condition of the mouth mirrors the condition of the body as a whole. Recent reports indicate a relationship between periodontal (gum) disease and stroke, heart disease and preterm low-birth-weight babies. Likewise, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations, meaning your dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem

Basically, keeping your teeth clean and regularly visiting a dentist could have a significant impact on the quality and span of your life. Plus, rotting, unbrushed, or even just poorly brushed teeth can leave a malignant odor in your wake, putting off the people around you. Also, it’s always nice to keep your teeth and avoiding dentures as long as possible.

Fine Tuning Your Dental Routine

Clearly, oral health is important. But how do keep your pearly whites fresh and shiny without causing too much damage on the environment? Well, two of the most important dental health care tips are ones that you have likely heard many times since you were a child—and they are natural, too.

Toothbrushes and toothpaste are the most notorious uses of plastic related to oral health. Especially because there is not a lot of variety when you to to the store. However, you can order bamboo toothbrushes online, and shop for plastic-free toothpaste containers as well. For example, some companies sell powder toothpaste in tablet form that use minimal packaging.

Flossing is another natural way to care for your teeth. Flossing gets rid of enamel-eroding acids and toxins that can cause plaque and lead to gum disease. According to dental experts, not flossing can have severe consequences resulting in expensive dental procedures:

  • Root planing and scaling to remove tartar below the gum line can cost upwards of $1,600.
  • Surgical treatments for periodontitis can cost over $3,000.
  • Since gum disease can attack the bone, you could end up spending $300 to $400 per tooth is you require bone grafts.
  • Even simple tooth extraction can cost $100 per tooth, and then you are left choosing between dentures and dental implants. Dentures can cost up to $8,000 a set, and dental implants typically cost an average of $4,250 per tooth.

Flossing can eliminate these risks and fight gum disease directly. Plus, you can look into getting no-waste or biodegradable floss in order to be truly natural and eco-friendly, and it will only cost a few dollars.

Another easy way to change up your dental routine is not running the faucet while you brush your teeth. Not doing this is an easy way to save water that you can start immediately without having to go to the store to buy special products.

Eco-Friendly and Natural Tooth Tips

If you are on board with all of the tips so far and are looking for more, here are some more tips to consider.

Keeping your teeth healthy is one thing, but keeping them white is quite another. Wine, coffee, and mustard and more can stain your teeth to a not-so-appealing color. However, you don’t have to resort to expensive whitenings or harmful chemicals to get your pearly whites back to white.

With natural teeth whitening, you can avoid harsh chemical in your body—and also get in some healthy snacks. For example, putting bananas and strawberries on your teeth for a while will help brighten them up. Then, you can have the rest of the fruit and berries as a snack.

You can also look into making other concoctions to keep your smile attractive. Making an herb mouthwash, for example, will not only keep your breath fresh, but it can also reduce inflammation to maintain a healthy mouth.

Lastly, if you’re not convinced by the eco-friendly toothpaste options you find, you can just make your own. Though there are many ways to do this, the easiest—and perhaps the best—is made out of baking soda and water, adding enough of both to make a paste. You can also add a few drops of peppermint extract to get the fresh taste in your mouth.

If you are feeling more crafty and want something more creative, you can make your own charcoal toothpaste out of wood ash and a few other ingredients. Charcoal toothpaste is a natural dental trend that eliminates plaque and whitens your teeth. Here is the recipe:

  • Wood Ash
  • Baking Soda
  • Orange Peels (optional)
  • Lemon Peel (optional)
  • Bentonite Clay
  • Xylitol
  • Calcium Carbonate

Hopefully, these tips will help you to change up your dental routine, allowing you to maintain cleaner teeth, a healthier mouth, and a brighter smile—all while reducing your environmental impact.







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