Monthly Archives: October 2011
How To Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
We live in a niche world, where there’s seemingly a product for every single task. But it wasn’t that many years ago that people used little more than a handful of simple substances and some elbow grease to keep houses spic and span. They relied on these substances because they worked. And they still do.
Making your own products costs about a tenth as much as buying ready made cleaners off the shelf and keeps your home free from some of the most toxic chemicals used in product formulation. Gather up the following ingredients, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy home that will look great and smell great, too.
White Distilled Vinegar
In the world of natural cleaners, vinegar is a superpower, as it can be used for so many things. And it’s incredibly cheap. No matter where you shop, you should be able to find a big bottle of it for pennies. (Always use plain white vinegar for cleaning purposes — not cider vinegar or malt vinegar or balsamic vinegar or anything else. It’s the cheapest, and the other stuff can stain).
Vinegar gets its cleaning power from a weak form of acid — in this case, acetic acid — that is created when sugars or starches ferment. Vinegar’s acidic nature also means it has antibacterial properties. Worried about germs? Ditch the antibac wipes and sprays (and the toilet bowl cleaner, too) and get out the vinegar instead.
Vinegar is so versatile that it makes sense to have it ready to use at all times. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, or simply use it straight out of the bottle for jobs like…
Odor zapping. You might not like the smell of vinegar, but if you need to get rid of another smell in your house, simply set out a small bowl of vinegar in the vicinity of the aroma. Just sliced up an onion and your hands reek? Wash them down with a little vinegar, rinse them thoroughly, and then wash with soap and water.
Soil testing. Since vinegar’s an acid, it reacts with substances that aren’t; e.g., alkalis. You can use this chemical knowledge to see what’s in your soil. Just grab a little dirt and drip vinegar on it. If the vinegar starts to fizzle, you’ve got alkaline soil.
Mold and shower scum zapping. Have a corner in your shower that’s looking a little dark? Spray it with vinegar. To prevent future buildup, spray shower walls and doors daily, either straight or mixed 50/50 with water, if the smell gets to you. If you’ve got a ring around the bathtub, simply fill it with hot water and add a couple of cups of vinegar. Let it sit for a few hours and then drain. The ring won’t be gone, but it will be a lot easier to remove.
Window shining. Wash your windows with a 50/50 blend of warm water and vinegar for streak-free glass.
Water-ring removing. Remove water rings from wood furniture by rubbing them with equal parts of vinegar and olive oil. Work with the grain and polish when done.
Fabric softening. Just add half a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Baking soda is as much of an all-arounder as vinegar, and it’s used in many of the same ways. It’s a fantastic all-purpose cleaner, and especially so when you need a little extra oomph, as its slightly gritty texture makes it a mild abrasive.
Because of its chemical composition — it’s an alkali or a base rather than an acid — it’s the substance of choice when you need to attack dirt and grime that is oil- or fat-based. It’s also a great odor eliminator — a box of Arm & Hammer in the fridge or freezer is almost ubiquitous; sprinkling some on your carpet before you vacuum will help get rid of pet or other odors that might have settled in.
Go up a little higher on the pH scale and you’ll find washing soda (sodium carbonate), which weighs in at a pH of 11. This makes it more caustic than baking soda. It also means it’s even more effective at doing the same things that baking soda does, but you also have to be more careful when using it. If you were to work with it without gloves (definitely not the recommended approach; gloves should always be used around washing soda), your fingers would start to feel slippery as the washing soda literally dissolves the oils in your skin. Also be sure to keep it away from no-wax floors and aluminum surfaces and products, as it can discolor them, and don’t use it on fiberglass sinks, tubs or tile.
Washing soda is a great product to have on hand for tougher cleaning jobs, especially outdoors where grime can really build up. Mix up half a cup of it in a gallon of warm to hot water and use it for…
Cleaning plastic and/or wrought iron outdoor furniture. Simply sponge it on, let it sit for a few minutes (longer for really dirty jobs), and then rinse thoroughly. (Note: washing soda can remove the finish on wooden decks and painted surfaces, so wash furniture on the lawn or the driveway instead).\
Grill racks. Remove racks and place in utility tub or other container large enough to hold the racks (a large plastic trash or leaf bag works for this too). Cover with the washing soda and water mix and let sit overnight. Wash with soap and water, and then rinse thoroughly. (Do not use on aluminum racks, as it can discolor them.)
Garbage cans. Washing soda will clean and deodorize. Wash surfaces inside and out and rinse.
Recipes and Applications
For counter tops, windows, mirrors, shower doors, etc., mix equal proportions of vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and use as necessary. Add a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender to fight bacteria and leave a great scent behind.
For no-wax floors add 1cup vinegar for every gallon of water.
For laminate wood floors, 1/2 cup vinegar for every gallon of water. But be sure to check manufacturer’s guidelines first; some recommend against using vinegar.
For glazed tile, substitute baking soda for vinegar, as vinegar can etch tile and grout — some experts say it should never be used on any stone surfaces (like marble and limestone) or grout, as it can react with the minerals in both. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water. Rinse thoroughly.
For natural stone, mix a squirt or two of liquid soap with a gallon of warm water. Wash and rinse.
To clean and deodorize the toilet, pour a couple of cups of undiluted white vinegar into the bowl. Allow to stand for several minutes, then scrub and flush.
To keep drains flowing freely, pour in 1/2 cup baking soda, then add an equal amount of vinegar. You’ll see a lot of fizzing — this is caused by the release of carbon dioxide gas that happens when you mix the two ingredients together. When it stops, pour boiling water down the drain. Do this at least monthly to keep clogs from forming.
To tackle mildew, mix 2 cups water with 1/4 teaspoon tea tree essential oil and 1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil (about 25 drops of each) in a spray bottle. Spray everywhere mildew is a concern and let dry. Don’t rinse; you want to leave the essential oils in place so they can do their job. You’ll have to shake this blend before use as the oils will separate from the water.
Excerpt used with permission from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Organic Living by Eliza Sarasohn with Sonia Weiss.
Four Herbs to Know
The following plant medicines are very effective choices in helping us avoid pharmaceutical antibiotics. Along with many other botanicals, these have been used to fight infections for thousands of years. I see them work everyday in my own practice. They have proven to be quite safe when used in the short term at standard dosage. When used in conjunction with the aforementioned health recommendations, these can be valuable allies to keep in your natural medicine cabinet.
- Goldenseal (Hydrastis): Hailing from the northwest United States, goldenseal is a potent antibiotic, well known to help treat sore throats as well as digestive infections which can cause diarrhea. The Native Americans taught us that goldenseal has the ability to soothe the linings of the mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive and genitourinary tracts while effectively clearing bacterial invasion. A few drops locally can stop a sore throat in its tracks.
- Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium): Also from the Northwest, Oregon grape contains a substance known as berberine, which can stop bacteria from adhering to the walls of the intestine and urinary tract. When used as a tea, it is a wonderful way to wash away urinary tract infections; it can be used in dried capsules or liquid tincture to treat digestive tract conditions like infectious diarrhea.
- Andrographis paniculata: This Asian herb with thousands of years of traditional use is now being proven through modern research as being able to disrupt the quorum-sensing system of bacteria. This system helps bacteria attach to each other and thrive as a community. Andrographis basically helps break up the bacterial “party.” As a result, it is beneficial to treat symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections and sinus problems. Numerous studies report its ability to reduce upper respiratory infection symptoms, such as fatigue, sore throat, cough and headache.
- Manuka honey: The sweetness of Manuka honey is already being used in hospitals in protocols for wound care. You can place the honey directly on gauze and cover the wound. Typically, the bandage is replaced three times a day. Although studies show most honey has antibacterial activity, manuka honey seems to be especially potent due to a compound called methylglyoxal. In fact, studies have confirmed its activity against a wide range of medically important bacteria, including MRSA.
A home herbal remedy from umckaloabo is a plant that is often used in over-the-counter cold and flu medicines. Umckaloabo syrup can be used for sore throat, cough, and other ailments. The plant is also used for general respiratory health.,
Acute bronchitis, upper respiratory tract infections, the common cold, and tonsillopharyngitis may all be treated by umckaloabo. Known more commonly as Pelargonium sidoides or umcka, it may also be a viable remedy for acute rhinosinusitus. An antibacterial agent, the plant impedes bacteria from adhering to the mucus membranes.
Umckaloabo is available as a syrup as well as a cough drop or tablet for most of these uses. Its primary purpose when used as a home herbal remedy is to shorten the period of sickness, as well as to relieve the affected person’s symptoms. The remedy also helps break up mucus, fights bacteria, and works as an .
Known to stimulate the immune system, pelargonium sidoides also helps prevent the spread and growth of infection. Some people use the herbal remedy as an alternative to traditional antibiotics for this reason. Tuberculosis has also been successfully treated by the plant. A mainstream treatment in South Africa and surrounding areas, it is also used in Germany, England, and other countries.
via What Is Umckaloabo?. (Dr Oz’s web site)
Water is essential in any healing process. Dehydration is the cause of many symptoms. 6-8 eight ounces glasses per day.
Stress is also compounded by poor nutrition. Diets high in sugar that contain too many sweets, refined foods, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are all bad for your system. Stress depletes your body ofC,D,E , Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Potassium, Sulfur and Zinc.
During our busy schedules, it’s easy to forget about a balanced diet by skipping meals or eating anything while on the run. Yet when your body doesn’t get the balance of nutrients it needs, you may end up trying to do more with less energy.
Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, complexed carbs, whole grain, as well as, fruits, nuts, seeds and protein.
Set aside time to eat meals at a pace that allows you to taste and savor them. The 15 or 20 minutes it takes to put aside work and other distractions will more than compensated by a noticeable energy boost.
Enjoy quite time or peaceful music while you eat alone, or share some friendly company as you relax at mealtime.
Take a Multi-vitamin.
Stress can also increase a yearning for extra snacks and high-fat comfort foods. Snacks can be an important part of good eating, so don’t force yourself to starve if you’re hungry. But snacking when your not really hungry doesn’t give you more energy. Sweet snacks can give you a short-term energy boost, but then can also leave you feeling worse later when your blood sugar drops.
When people are worn out from the stress of trying to do too much, they often turn to sugar, caffeine, or sweets to increase energy levels and help them function. Sweets and caffeine-containing products may be enjoyed occasionally if you like, but avoid using them throughout the day, or you may experience huge dips and surges in your energy levels. Avoid alcohol, excess caffeine, drug stimulants, processed foods, excess sugar and cigarettes.
A 15-minute catnap, walk around the block or stretching session will more likely give you renewed energy. Review you priorities and set aside enough time to get adequate sleep for the most dramatic effect on you energy levels. If you suspect your diet has a lot to do with your stress, see a nutritionist for help.
Add protein and carbohydrates to your diet: Incorporate protein into your diet. Protein helps to keep sugar levels stable. You can find protein in nuts, yogurt, beans, fish, chicken, tofu and lentils.
Seek out foods that are high in Omega-3 (a fish oil): This fish oil has been shown in many studies, to reduce your bad cholesterol levels and reduce plaque buildup in your blood. By reducing your bad cholesterol, you are helping your body to fight off stress and relieve anxiety, tension and even prevent heart disease! Fish that are high in Omega-3 are excellent ways to help your blood stream.
Folic Acid: Folic Acid (required for energy production) is considered brain food. The brain needs it to work properly. It helps to prevent anxiety and fatigue. Folic acid works best when combined with vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Much research has indicated that a deficiency of folic acid may include depression, insomnia, anorexia, forgetfulness, hyper-irritability, apathy, fatigue and anxiety. You can find Folic Acid in the following foods: Whole grain breads, Fortified cereals, Dried beans, Leafy vegetables, Fruit. Most multivitamin complexes contain folic acid.
GABA: GABA ( ) is an amino acid help reduce anxiety, allows rational decision making, promotes restful sleep and enhances workout recovery. It has also been shown to have similar effects as the benzodiazepine drugs. You will also feel more relaxed and notice that you are sleeping better. The recommended dose for GABA is 700-750 mg – 3 times daily – talk to a medical professional about using GABA.
Inosistol: has been shown in studies to have a positive effect in the calming of the symptoms of panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Taking up to 4 grams daily – 3 times-a-day has shown to be beneficial.
Magnesium: The supplement magnesium has been found to aid in the management of anxiety symptoms. Taking 200-300 mg of magnesium 2 to 3 times daily has been shown to help.
Selenium: Selenium, an important antioxidant, is a trace mineral found in soil and food. It protects neurotransmitters. Deficiency in selenium has shown to have a negative impact on mood. It also helps to reduce bad cholesterol and keep the heart healthy. You can get much of your selenium from dietary sources such as: Alfalfa, fennel seed, ginseng, butter, garlic, liver, Brazil nuts, shellfish and other fishes. You can find it in sunflower seeds, yarrow, wheat germ and Brewer’s yeast.
Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1 is also known as “thiamine.” In many studies, B1 has shown to have positive effects on the nervous system and mental well being. Vitamin B1 is found in peas, soybeans, fortified breads, cereals, pasta, fish, pork, whole grains and dried beans. Prolonged intake of large amounts of alcohol depletes your body’s supply of vitamin B1. Vitamin B3: (in the form niacinamide) has been tested in lab animals and seems to work in animals in the way that benzodiazepines such as Valium have.
Vitamin B6: Lack of Vitamin B6 has been known to cause anxiety and depression. The formation of certain brain chemicals from amino acids requires this vitamin. It affects the nervous system. The recommended Dietary Allowances for adults (25+ years) is 2.0 for men and 1.6 for women. The best sources of vitamin B6 are meats (particularly organ meats such as liver), whole grains and wheat germ.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is needed for energy, brain function and a healthy nervous system. It helps to combat depression, stabilize PMS and helps to protect against anemia and it may help fight cancer. The best food sources of Vitamin B12 are liver, kidney, oily fish, beef, pork lamb, cheese, eggs and milk.
Zinc: and essential mineral, has been found to have positive effects on the nervous system as well as helping to produce a calming effect. Most multivitamins contain zinc. Food sources for zinc are Oysters, meat, poultry, nuts, beans and dairy products.
Avoid Caffeine: Caffeine is something many people in America and Europe are used to bringing in their daily lives. Though many studies have shown that this addictive stimulant can help produce symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and the like. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, many sodas and even certain medications.Always ask your doctor about a medication before using it. Also, ask the doctor if there is an alternative medication if your medicine contains caffeine.
Reduce Processed and Refined Foods:
Processed food can rob your food of nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to fight off stress and promote good health. Try to buy whole foods, unprocessed foods and try and stay away from “instant” foods, preservatives, artificial flavors, saturated fat and MSG.
Reduce Sugar Intake:
Too much sugar can rob our body of essential nutrients. Yet don’t be so fast as to replace the sugar with Stevia the natural sweetener from the Stevia plant. Artificial sweetener can also cause anxiety as well as other health concerns.
Reduce Alcohol Intake:
In small amounts, alcohol can be good for your heart but too much alcohol is not a good thing for your body and too large of an intake increases your body’s need for extra vitamins. The body has a harder time using oxygen. As a result, you can become more sensitive to stress – which in turn can cause anxiety reactions. It can also cause depression.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS. L.Ac
Therapies for healing mind, body, spirit