Natural Health
Better living through nature


5 Must-Have Herbs for Winter

The light may have returned according to the calendar, but lingering cold and dreary weather can make the dark part of the year seem like it’s going to last forever. Coupled with the fact that most of us spend the majority of our days inside is the unavoidable exposure to a variety of pathogens silently hitching a ride on surfaces, the air molecules we breathe in and on each other. It’s inevitable -- sooner or later, the sniffles will strike. Armed with a few herbal helpers, you can help your immune system to ward off these invading germs or, in the event that a cold or flu does get its viral foot in the door, reduce your symptoms and recovery time.

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Photo: iStock/Maren Winter

Elderberry

Enough good things cannot be said about these delicious purple-black drupes in terms of assisting the immune system. Harvested from the European elder (Sambucus nigra), a deciduous woodland tree in the moschatel family, elderberries have been used for centuries to make jams, jellies, tarts and pies, syrups, cordials and wines, and have a long history of use in preventing and treating flu. Compounds in the fruit thwart a type of protein called hemagglutinin that lines the surface of influenza cells. This viral protein attacks healthy cells in the body with spear-like projections that it uses to penetrate and inject its enzymes, which allows the virus to replicate throughout the body. Elderberry prevents this activity by neutralizing those enzymes. It’s effective against several strains of influenza including H7 hemagglutinin, a variety that causes the flu patient to also suffer conjunctivitis.

Elderberry also has antibacterial properties. The extract of the fruit has been shown to counter Streptococcus pyogenes and group C and G Streptococci. It is also effective against Branhamella catarrhalis, a strain of bacteria that often leads to upper respiratory tract infection.

How to Use:  The fruit must be cooked or dried before consumption to avoid toxicity. Use the fresh or dried berries to make jam, alone or in combination with other fruits like rosehips or goji berries for extra flavor and vitamin C. Add the dried berries to tea blends. (Note: A recipe for a simple syrup to use as a daily preventative and a remedial flu remedy appears at the conclusion of Part II of this blog.)

Ashwagandha

Also known as Indian ginseng, Indian winter cherry, asana, and a host of other common names, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an evergreen shrub in the nightshade family and a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. Its Hindu name means “horse smell,” a reference to the fact that the raw plant smells a bit like a sweaty horse. It’s species name is obtained from the Latin word that means “induce sleep,” a testament to the herb’s long history of use to ease stress and anxiety, as well as inflammation. It is said to help one resist disease by increasing strength and energy. As an added bonus,  ashwagandha is also reputed to enhance male performance considerably, if taken daily for a year.

The root contains a number of withanolides, a group of naturally occurring steroids. One in particular, Withaferin A, is currently receiving a good deal of attention as a potential cancer preventative and treatment. Both in vivo and in vitro studies have shown that these agents inhibit tumors by triggering apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

How to Use: Ashwagandha root is dried, chopped and infused in soups or broth, or prepared as tea. It is also tinctured. The powdered herb may be encapsulated as a dietary supplement.

Astragalus

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous) is a member of the pea family native to China. Also known as gum dragon, milk vetch and Huang Qi (yellow leader), it is one of the 50 fundamental herbs central to traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory. It is considered an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it helps the immune system maintain homeostasis during periods of physical as well as emotional stress.

The root contains several flavonoids, such as quercetin and kaempferol, that demonstrate potent antioxidant activity. Some of these compounds also show strong antimicrobial effects against several bacterial strains, including Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus.

How to Use: Prepare the chopped root as an infusion or tincture. The powdered herb may be taken as a dietary supplement.

Eleuthero

Also known xas Siberian ginseng, devil's shrub, pepper brush and touch-me-not, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a small, woody shrub indigenous to China, Japan, Korea and Siberia, and is now naturalized in some parts of British Columbia and the United States. As a member of the Araliaceae family of plants, it is a botanical cousin to ginseng and is also considered an adaptogen. The herb has been used for thousands of years in traditional systems of healing to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatism and arthritis, and as a tonic and restorative.

Recent studies show that eleuthero root has a high antioxidant value and owes its properties to a class of polysaccharides collectively referred to as eleutherosides, among them coumarins and lignans. The root also contains several flavonoids, most notably quercetin, kaempferol and rutin.

How to Use: Infuse in water as tea or in alcohol as a tincture. The chopped root may also be added to soups and stews. The powdered root is taken as a dietary supplement in capsule form.

Maca

Maca (Lepidium meyenii), also known as Peruvian ginseng, is a member of the turnip family (its roots resemble miniature turnips) widely cultivated in the Andes Mountains of Peru as both food and medicine. Historically, it is used as a tonic herb to boost stamina, mood and cognitive function. Recent studies suggest that maca may also be of benefit in addressing benign hyperplasia and osteoporosis. One study showed that maca root helped to regulate blood pressure by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).

In Peru, maca is an important economic crop and is commonly prepared as a root vegetable, either added to soups and stews or mashed and creamed with hot milk, vanilla and sugar to produce a popular porridge-like dish called mazamorra. The root is also ground and used as flour. Nutritionally speaking, maca root is packed with 19 amino acids, fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins.

How to Use:  It can be challenging to find the whole root but, if you succeed, prepare it as a tea or tincture. The powdered root, which has a mild malt-like flavor, can be added to cooked cereals and smoothies, or encapsulated as a dietary supplement.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

This kid-friendly syrup is wonderful served over pancakes or ice cream, or stirred into yogurt and cooked cereals. Make a double batch and share!

  • 1/2 cup organic dried elderberries
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • Optional: 1 small cinnamon stick, teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 1 cup local raw honey

Combine the berries, water and spices, if using, in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer while pressing down on the berries with a ladle to release every drop of the juice. Let the reserved mixture cool for a minute, then stir in the honey. Pour into clean glass bottles, cap and label/ Keep refrigerated and use within three months. To use, take 1-3 tablespoons daily.


References

Hannah M. Creager, Amrita Kumar, Hui Zeng,et al. "Infection and Replication of Influenza Virus at the Ocular Surface." J Virol. 2018 Apr 1; 92(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5972870/

Christian Krawitz, Mobarak Abu Mraheil, Michael Stein,et al. "Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses." BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011; 11: 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056848/

Dushani L. Palliyaguru, Shivendra V. Singh, and Thomas W. Kensler1. "Withania somnifera: from prevention to treatment of cancer." Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Jun; 60(6): 1342–1353. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4899165/

Viktor M. Bratkov, Aleksandar M. Shkondrov, Petranka K. Zdraveva, Ilina N. Krasteva. "Flavonoids from the Genus Astragalus: Phytochemistry and Biological Activity." Pharmacogn Rev. 2016 Jan-Jun; 10(19): 11–32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791984/

Carla Gonzales-Arimborgo, Irma Yupanqui, Elsa Montero, et al. "Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study." Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2016 Sep; 9(3): 49. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5039502/

Daniel Załuski, Marta Olech, Agnieszka Galanty,et al. "Phytochemical Content and Pharma-Nutrition Study on Eleutherococcus senticosus Fruits Intractum." Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016; 2016: 9270691 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5098108/

Roman Chamomile Essential Oil: Amazing Flower Power With A Soft Touch

For over 2,000 years, the small, cheerful, daisy-like flowers of the Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, syn. Anthemis nobilis) herb have enjoyed a medicinal reputation in Europe and especially the Mediterranean region, and they are still in widespread use today, primarily as a digestive aid due to their rather innate bitterness. The plant is native to southern and western Europe and has naturalized in North America.

roman chamomile on wood tray
Photo by Mars Vilaubi

A familial relative of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita, syn. M. chamomilla), these two chamomiles share a similar appearance, apple-like fragrance when fresh, and many of the same properties and applications, even though the two herbs have a different chemistry. German chamomile essential oil is a deep inky blue (due to a higher chamazulene content providing more potent anti-inflammatory effects than  Roman) with a pungent tobacco-like, herbaceous, sweet, warm aroma.  Pale yellow-to-gold in color, Roman chamomile essential oil has an intensely sweet, fruity-floral, warm, apple-like herbaceous scent.  Both essential oils are produced by steam distillation of the small, daisy-like flower heads and the fragrance of each can easily dominate a formula, so keep that in mind when experimenting with recipes.

Owing to its gentleness, Roman chamomile essential oil, when used as directed, is a soothing and safe oil even for infants and young children.  I often use it alone or in combination with cardamom, lavender, or frankincense essential oil in formulas designed for bathing and massage to calm irritability and induce sound sleep, as well as in topical blends designed to ease painful symptoms of earache, colic, and teething.

Because of its cooling, deeply relaxing nature, Roman chamomile is a good choice for addressing hot flashes, stress-induced, inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or hives, and tension/migraine headaches.  Bouts of sciatica, neuralgia, lower back pain, menstrual cramps, and spasmodic muscle cramps respond favorably, as well.

roman chamomile in garden
Photo by Stephanie Tourles

Essential Properties In A Nutshell

Though German chamomile essential oil offers calming and soothing properties, in cases of anxiety, insomnia, mental strain, anger, fear, nervous tension, and other stress-related conditions such as the emotional swings of PMS and menopause, I prefer to use Roman chamomile essential oil for psychological or emotional concerns due to its even gentler nature, softer, more pleasing scent, and potent relaxing, nervine, and anti-anxiety properties.  It is also a comforting, cooling pain reliever; exceptional topical digestive agent; remarkable antispasmodic, with relaxant and sedative properties; specific for infants, the elderly, and those with sensitive skin in need of healing with a soft touch.

Safety Data & Usage Information:  Roman chamomile essential oil is considered nontoxic and generally nonirritating, but it may cause dermatitis in some individuals. Always dilute essential oils properly — according to age, health, medication intake, and skin condition — prior to application.  My book, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide, is a good reference, complete with safety guidelines and dilution charts.

The following recipe highlights the therapeutic nature of Roman chamomile essential oil with regard to nurturing the skin.  It’s not only beneficial for babies’ delicate skin, but also for those of you with ultra-sensitive skin, no matter what your age.  This gentle oil will be your skin’s best friend.  It can also serve as a healing aid for new bruises, insect bites and stings, and environmental assaults such as sunburn, windburn, or dry, cracked, chapped skin. 

Pure and Gentle Herbal Baby Oil

With skin-soothing, calming herbal extracts and a subtle apple-floral aroma, this blend provides a conditioning, protective barrier that seals in valuable moisture while serving as an effective healing aid for minor irritations of a baby’s delicate skin.  Use as a full-body massage oil, bath oil, foot rub, or diaper rash preventive oil.

Essential Oils:

• 2 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
• 2 drops Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, syn. Anthemis nobilis) essential oil

Base:

• 1/4 cup calendula-infused oil or jojoba oil

Container: 

• 2-ounce plastic squeeze bottle or dark glass bottle with a pump or dropper top

To Make The Blend: Combine the lavender and Roman chamomile essential oils in the bottle, then add either the calendula or jojoba oil. Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously for 2 minutes to blend.  Label the bottle and set it in a cool, dark location for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.

Store at room temperature, way from heat and light; use within 1 year (or 2 years if you used jojoba oil).

To Use: Shake well before each use.  Massage a small amount into baby’s skin as desired.  For use as a bath oil, add 1/2to 1 teaspoon to a small tub full of warm water and swish to blend with your hands before placing your child in the tub.  After bathing, pat baby’s skin dry, and follow with an application of this same oil or your favorite natural baby lotion.

Yield: 2 ounces (60 ml)

stephanie tourles book coverRecipe excerpted from “Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide,” (c2018 by Stephanie Tourles). Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

5 Essential Oils for Everyday Wellness

Essential oils are a complex mixture of natural occurring chemicals that have a multi-faceted role with in the plant. They are tiny volatile droplets found in the glands, glandular hairs, sacs or veins of leaves, stems, fruits, bark, roots, seeds and flowers of plants. They contain the essence or fragrant part of the plant.

These oils can benefit the body, mind and soul physically, emotionally, energetically, cellularly and spiritually. Essential oils enter the bloodstream through inhalation or penetration of the skin then circulate throughout the body until they are eliminated through perspiration and normal bodily functions.

every day essential oils

Five essential oils for everyday wellness are Eucalyptus, Lavender, Orange, Peppermint and Tea Tree.

Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) essential oil is steam distilled from fresh or partially dried leaves. Depending on the species its color can range from colorless to pale yellow to brown. Eucalyptus has a refreshing and camphorous scent and best known as a decongestant for colds. Eucalyptus essential oil is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing.     

Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) is steam distilled from flowering tops or stems. It is colorless or a pale yellow and has a sweet, floral, herbaceous refreshing aroma. Lavender has a calming effect on the nervous system and is a first choice for insomnia due to stress and anxiety. It also has many beneficial attributes for skins issues. Lavender essential oil is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing.  

Orange (citrus sinensis) is cold pressed from the ripe outer peel of the fruit. The oil is a yellow-orange to a dark orange color liquid with a sweet, fresh citrus aroma. It’s considered to have a mildly sedative and antidepressant effect, along with beneficial attributes for soothing dry or acne prone skin. Orange essential oil is non-toxic, non-irritating, but phototoxic.   

Peppermint (mentha piperita) essential oil is obtained by steam distillation and is a pale-yellow or pale-olive color with a fresh, strong grassy-mint aroma. Peppermint is one of the most effective essential oils for the digestive system. It is beneficial in relieving headaches and sinus congestion. Peppermint essential oil is non-toxic, non-irritating but maybe sensitizing.        

Tea Tree (melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil is water or steam distilled from a small tree and is a pale-yellowish to almost clear color liquid with a warm, spicy odor. Tea tree is recommended for bronchitis, coughs and sinusitis. It is also used in the treatment of acne, athletes’ feet, bug bites and wounds. Tea Tree essential oil is non-toxic, non-irritant, maybe sensitizing to some individuals.  

Click here to receive a free downloadable chart that shows how to use these 5 essential oils at home or while traveling or camping.   

This information is for educational purposes only. Do Not Use Internally. Keep Out of Reach of Children.


Reference: Battaglia, S. (2003). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Brisbane: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy

Foods for Eye Health: How to Manage Eye Problems Through Food

The food that you eat plays a critical role in many things, including controlling inflammation levels, balancing blood sugar levels, maintaining cardiovascular and digestive health, and more. Traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda have long been aware that good choices of food can impact our digestive system along with skin and eye health. 

All modern health conditions are related to unhealthy food and lifestyle. Nutritional deficiencies and toxicity from poor diet are often the main cause.

In the perspective article I will be discussing the following:

  • Reasons for tire, dull eyes
  • How to support dull eyes with food
  • Reasons for eye bags and dark circles
  • Superfood suggestions for eye bags and dark circles

eye looking through leaf
Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash

Tired and Dull Eyes

‘Tired eyes’ is just another term for eye strain. First let us look in to the causes of tired, dull eyes.

  1. Too much screen time
  2. Too much driving time
  3. Poor lighting while reading or working on computers
  4. Poor sleep patterns
  5. Activities that require eyes to have intense focus
  6. Incorrect prescription

Any of the above reasons can result in out of focus, dry or watery eyes. There may be a dull pain around the eyes and a puffy appearance will be present.

It is not a disease and does not require medical treatment. But there are symptoms which require immediate medical attention, for example if tired eyes are associated with frequent episodes of headache or vomiting, consult your doctor.

Is it possible to support or prevent dull eyes with food?

Yes! Perhaps more than anything else in our lives the choice of right food can help in preventing and supporting dull, tired eyes. Foods Rich in vitamin A & B, Anti-oxidants and fatty acids boost circulation around the eyes.

Foods rich in Vitamin A & B

Antixidants

Fatty acids

Orange pepper – It contains the highest amount of Carotenoid Zeaxanthin which protects the retina

Berries – high in Vitamins and anti-oxidants, protects the retina against light

Chia seeds – rich in omega-3 fatty acids which protects against macular degeneration

Egg yolk – It is a source of Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.

Bee pollen – anti-oxidant rutin boosts blood vessel walls to improve micro circulation

Spirulina- grown naturally from algae, presence of both anti-oxidants, proteins and vitamins

Carrots (Beta-carotene in carrot is converted in to Vitamin A), Dark leafy greens (Rich source of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin) – especially Kale and spinach, Cucumber (hydrates and nourishes eyes)

Wild Alaskan Salmon – presence of super anti-oxidant Astaxanthin which can cross blood-retinal barrier and it absorbs UVB

If you aren't a fish lover, another way to make sure your diet contains enough omega-3s it to take fish oil supplements.

What are the causes for those pesky dark circles? Is it just the tiredness due to lack of sleep or are there any underlying causes? Let’s have a quick look at the major causes of dark circles beneath the eyes.  

  • Hereditary Conditions – People with Mediterranean backgrounds are more affected by dark circles 
  • Eczema or skin allergies – Though this is not the direct cause, if you continuously rub the eye region due to itching it can trigger inflammation and redness which can cause broken blood vessels leading to dark eyes. 
  • Cosmetic allergies 
  • Sun damage  
  • Fluid imbalance or local swelling 

In most cases, dark circles under the eyes are not a sign of a serious medical condition. 

Ayurvedic Perspective of Dark Circles  

In Ayurvedic perspective, dark circles are due to aggravated Vata dosha.  As age advances there will be a predominance of Vata in the body. In old age there is depletion of the subcutaneous fat tissues and thinning of the skin under the eyes that causes darkening of the skin in that area. Intake of foods that are dry and use of processed foods can aggravate Vata in the body. Excessive salt intake is often mentioned as the cause for fluid retention under the eyes that results in puffy eyes and formation of dark circles.  

Role of Food in Preventing Eye Bags and Dark Circles

Hydrating foods and circulation-boosting antioxidants along with mineral-rich foods help in preventing dark circles and puffy eyes.

Hydrating foods

Antioxidants

Mineral-rich foods

Water Melon – along with 92% water water melons are rich in anti-oxidants including beta carotene

Blueberries (prime source of anti-oxidants lutein and anthocyanins) protect delicate blood vessels there by improving blood circulation around eyes, Mulberries (presence of resveratrol), Goji berries

Celery – rich source of electrolytes mineral sodium and Potassium

Cucumber helps rehydrate the skin surrounding eyes and Vitamin K present enhances the elasticity of the blood vessels surrounding eyes

Beets has detoxifying anti-oxidants Betalain

Zinc is a trace element that is important for the visual process. Oysters contain a large amount of zinc.

Baobab – It balances the fluid and prevents puffy eyes

Tomatoes has lycopene that helps to protect the delicate blood vessels and improves circulation to eyes

 

Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and healthy fats will provide you with all the nutrients your eyes — and the rest of your body — need for optimal health.

Sweet Orange Essential Oil: A Fresh and Fruity Plant Remedy You Need to Know

Did you know that oranges are among the oldest cultivated fruits and they were mentioned in ancient Chinese literature as long ago as 2,400 BCE? It’s true! The dried peel, from both the bitter and sweet orange, and essential oil from the sweet orange, have been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments including coughs, colds, anorexia, cystic breasts, digestive spasms, stagnant digestion, respiratory congestion, and constipation. From the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), the vitamin C-rich fresh juice and essential oil have offered valuable protection against infectious diseases as well. Sounds like a good fruit to have on hand and an essential oil to include in your natural medicine cabinet, right?

sweet orange essential oil
Photo by Michaela Jebb

Sweet orange trees are extensively cultivated today in the United States (California and Florida), Brazil, Italy, Spain, the Mediterranean region, and Israel. Much of the essential oil is produced in the United States, Brazil, Israel, Sprain, and Cyprus.

The yellowish-orange essential oil, with its familiar, rich, lively, zesty aroma, is cold-expressed from the outer peel of the ripe or near-ripe fresh fruit. Be aware that sweet orange essential oil oxidizes quickly (as do all citrus oils), so use it within 1 year, or 2 years if you keep it refrigerated.

Essential Information

Sweet orange essential oil has a gently warming energy, with antibacterial, antiseptic, deodorizing, cleansing, carminative/digestive, and mild astringent/diuretic properties. This bright, cheerful oil also lifts the spirits, helping to improve your mood.  It helps open the heart, and reduce irritability, nervous tension, anxiety, restlessness, and other stress-related conditions, including PMS.

Like other citrus oils, such as lemon, lime, bergamot, and grapefruit, it instills a general feeling of well-being and builds your sense of humor. Especially calming and balancing, this oil will help you relax and unwind, no matter how chaotic your day.

Sweet orange essential oil is considered nontoxic, nonirritating, and generally non-sensitizing, with only a low risk of photosensitivity, and can even be used with young children. Always keep in mind that when using any essential oil, adherence to safety guidelines and dilution protocol is vital. In my new book, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (Storey Publishing, 2018), I discuss safety tips, special precautions to take with children and infants, and dilution guidelines for various methods of application. Less is more with essential oils as they are highly concentrated plant remedies. Please educate yourself prior to using any essential oil, whether for self-care or when using on friends, family, or clients.

Below are some of my favorite ways to use sweet orange essential oil:

  • As an aromatically pleasing nervous system tonic for children—great for use at bedtime when blended into a relaxing foot massage oil (6 drops to 1 ounce carrier oil) or diffused into their bedroom for 20 minutes.
  • In the morning, I diffuse it in the kitchen while eating breakfast; starts my day off on a sunny, joyous note.
  • As a topical digestive aid to help relieve constipation, cramping, and gas, I like combine 2 drops of orange essential oil with 2 drops of peppermint oil in 1 teaspoon carrier oil and massage my own belly in a counter-clockwise direction, beginning at the navel and spiraling outward, ending at the top of the left thigh, to encourage the digestive process to move in the normal direction. If massaging someone else’s belly, use a clockwise direction.
  • Added to a moisturizing, muscle-relaxing, skin-soothing bath blend. (See recipe below.)

cream and honey bath ingredients
Photo by Mars Vilaubi

Orange-Honey-Cream Moisturizing Bath

Imagine the familiar, smooth, fruity scent of orange peel softened by sweet honey and the essence of rich cream. Ahhh . . . just the thought of slipping into a tub filled with this skin-pampering blend is enough to instill a bit of tranquility and make you feel pampered! The aroma of sweet orange and calming lavender soothes the senses, while honey and cream—natural moisturizers—nourish your skin. It’s the perfect way to end a hectic day, and it’s guaranteed to comfort and calm irritable young ones as well.  Indulge, won’t you? Safe for folks 2 years of age and older.

Essential Oils:

• 5 drops sweet orange
• 3 drops lavender

Base:

• 1/4 cup honey, preferably raw
• 1/2 cup heavy cream, preferably organic (you can substitute light cream, half-and-half, or full-fat coconut milk)

To Make the Bath: Fill the tub with warm water. Meanwhile, combine the honey, cream, and orange and lavender essential oils in a small bowl. Stir well.

To Use: Add the mixture to the tub and swish with your hands to thoroughly disperse the ingredients.  Step in and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. When you’re finished, pat your skin damp-dry and apply your favorite natural lotion or cream, if desired.

Yield: Makes enough for 1 bath

beginner's guide to essential oils by stephanie tourles book cover
Recipe excerpted from Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (2018). Used by permission from Storey Publishing.

Getting a More Natural Energy Boost

Did you know that among coffee drinkers the average daily consumption in the United States is over 2 cups per person? Although coffee can have its health benefits, there’s a reasonable chance that any more is too much for you. However, many hardworking Americans don’t think they can survive without multiple caffeine boosts through the day. They need their energy, and coffee is a convenient way to get it.

There are other ways to obtain your pick-me-up however which don’t require excess or for you to ingest things that you don’t need to. You won’t have to drink too much coffee or other caffeinated beverages when you’re taking care of yourself and getting your energy intake more naturally. It does involve some awareness, though. Here are some ways to get energy throughout your day without resorting to caffeine or harder drugs.

pexels-photo-1458671

Food Intake

As most people know, food gives you energy. And in a separate exchange, taking some cues from the keto diet, it’s possible to burn your own fat for energy. Some readers may be thinking “wait, won’t eating too much just take away my energy?” This is a concern if you’re eating giant meals that are full of unhealthy food. But healthy snacking throughout the day and enacting portion control will give balance your amount of energy throughout the day and is good for you. Food is a key to energy — not a tool to deplete it.

Nutrients

It’s what you eat as well, not just how much and often you’re eating. Good nutrition is scarce in a culture of excess and ultra-processed food, though. Additionally it’s becoming more difficult all the time to get our needed amount of nutrients due to the rise of CO2 in our atmosphere (a result of “climate change”). But some careful research will give you a good idea of what food and nutrients can naturally raise your energy levels and be healthy for you. That said, be on the lookout for food products posing as nutritious that may not be. For instance, energy bars and diet soda are actually worse for you than they are good, as exemplified by Web MD here.

H2O

Did you know that simply drinking enough water can fill you with energy? In an article entitled “20 Reasons Why Water is the Best Energy Drink You Can Give Your Body,” the author writes, “Being dehydrated means, as you’ve seen, having to work harder to do less, your joints are less spry and you’ll have less water to sweat out to cool yourself – you can cramp up faster, and in general won’t be as effective.” Water is important for your energy because it keeps you from losing energy and getting tired. If you want to keep up, keep hydrated.

Staying Active

Your body gets natural energy from glucose, which is what it uses during exercise. The more you work out, the more glucose your muscles will need, and therefore the more your body will produce. On a simpler level however, habits matter. When you start working out consistently, your body will want to keep working out, and it will start to feel odd when you don’t. Your endurance while participating in physical activities will be up, and your body and brain will be less content staying inactive. Any way you look at it, activity begets more activity.

Spirituality and Personal Motivation

There are a number of other actions different people take to mentally and spiritually tap into the natural energy they have. For instance, diffusing essential oils can potentially influence a variety of things, from clearing the air to helping you sleep, and some believe they can aid in helping people feel energetic. Other people watch various types of media to motivate themselves — self Ted Talks and inspirational movies for instance. And some give themselves pep talks in the mirror. The point is, energy boosts can depend on what you’re putting in your head as well as your body. Keep this in mind and surround yourself with good influences.

It’s clear that caffeine isn’t the only — or even the most natural — way to get an energy boost. So how else do you make yourself feel energized? Let us know in the comments below!

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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