Blog Archives

Homemade Carpet Powder


I have 8 inside furbabies.  Yes, you read that right.  Eight!  4 cats & 4 dogs.  Needless to say, when it comes to products that make my house smell nice – I am a fan.

Carpet powder is one product that I can’t do without.  Even though it is a reasonable price, I buy so much of it that it works out to be pretty expensive.  Plus, it doesn’t always work as well as I like.

Homemade carpet powder to the rescue!!  It’s cheap & it has not met an odor that it doesn’t take care of.

All you need is baking soda & orange essential oil.  You can use other essential oils if you like, but I like the orange because of the great clean smell that it gives off.  Some readers have also suggested using cloves instead of the essential oil, and while I haven’t tried that personally – I’ve heard some great stuff about it!

It is also nice to have an empty Parmesan cheese container, or some other shaker.

Mix the baking soda & several drops of the orange essential oil (or other essential oil of your choice) together in a bowl using a whisk.  Then, spoon the mixture into your shaker.  OR… you can do this the lazy way like me and just put it all into your container & do the hokey pokey & shake all around… ;)

You can also add a couple tablespoons of borax (found with the laundry detergent) or food grade D.E. to repell fleas.  The food grade d.e. is great for repelling bed bugs too!

Sprinkle onto your carpets – let it sit for about 15 minutes, then vacuum up.



Simple & thrifty – and works like a charm.

Homemade Carpet Powder – Mrs Happy Homemaker.

 

Aromatherapy: More Than Just a Pleasant Scent? – US News and World Report


Tea Tree Oil

It’s touted as helpful in relieving tension, anxiety and more, but it’s not risk-free

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) — Aromatherapy is beginning to enter the medical mainstream, with groups as diverse as the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs touting the use of fragrance as a therapy that can complement traditional health care.

There’s little evidence to suggest that aromatherapy can directly cure illness, but research has found it can help reduce a wide range of symptoms and side effects in some people.

“Many specific ailments can benefit from aromatherapy blends and treatments,” said Monika Meulman, president of the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists. “For example, insomnia, nausea, headaches and migraines, and aches and pains are often improved with aromatherapy — just to name a few.”

Aromatherapy involves the use of what are called essential oils, which are very potent distillations of the fragrant portions of plant life such as flowers, roots and bark, said Dr. Hal Blatman, medical director of the Blatman Pain Clinic in Cincinnati and a past president of the American Holistic Medical Association.

These oils are either applied topically to the body, through a cream or a soaking bath, for instance, or are inhaled after they’ve been diffused into the air in a room, Meulman explained.

Researchers believe that the oils trigger smell receptors in the nose, prompting the transmission of chemical messages along nerve pathways to the brain’s limbic system, Blatman said. The limbic system is a part of the brain closely associated with moods and emotion.

“It’s easy to see smells have an effect on the body,” Blatman said. “Smells have deep emotional triggers in people.”

Aromatherapists recommend using different oils for different effects. For example:

  • Lavender and rosemary oil are suggested for relieving muscle tension and anxiety.
  • Peppermint and ginger oil may relieve nausea and help perk up a fatigued person.
  • Eucalyptus oil is considered helpful in treating respiratory ailments — something known by the legions of kids who’ve had Vicks VapoRub smoothed onto their chest.

The oils also can be layered on to get a combination of effects, Blatman said.

“There are all kinds of specific conditions and specific remedies,” he said. “There are a number of reference books for how to use the oils.”

The potential plusses of aromatherapy, however, come with possible drawbacks, too.

For instance, people who decide to pursue aromatherapy on their own need to be careful because the essential oils used are very strong, Meulman and Blatman said. The oils can cause an allergic reaction when touched or inhaled and can prompt an asthma attack in some people.

The quality of essential oils also can change over time.

“Often the oils sitting on the shelf in a health food store are no longer viable — they break down with time — and may no longer have active compounds in them,” Meulman said. “Many essential oils are only effective for several months to a year. By the time they get to an end user, they have oxidized to the point of not being useful and, in some cases, may be harmful.”

People also should be aware that the oils can have an internal effect even if applied to the skin.

“Some essential oils can accumulate in the liver,” Meulman said. “For example, eucalyptus is broken down slowly by the body and tends to accumulate in the liver. If used daily in large amounts, within a few weeks a person can experience signs of toxicity due to this buildup.”

For these reasons and others, Meulman and her association recommend that people interested in aromatherapy consult with a professional aromatherapist.

“For do-it-yourself use, one can use some oils for ambiance, room spray experiences and other such occasional uses,” she said. “For daily aromatherapy use and self-treatment, professional aromatherapist guidance is strongly advised.”

More information

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy has more on aromatherapy.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Aromatherapy: More Than Just a Pleasant Scent? – US News and World Report.

Ten Secrets of 100% Healthy People


Some people rarely get sick and are always fizzing with energy. They don’t gain weight or lose their memory. So what’s their secret? When leading nutritionist Patrick Holford carried out Britain’s largest-ever health and diet survey, completed by more than 55,000 respondents, the results showed that to be super-healthy, all you need to do is follow 10 simple rules. Make them your resolutions – and look forward to a happier, healthier new year.
PERFECT YOUR DIGESTION
How efficiently you digest food affects your state of mind. It also determines your longevity and whether you feel energized or tired. In my survey, those who ate fresh fruit, seeds, nuts, fish and vegetables reported the healthiest digestion. Many foods, such as fruit and vegetables, contain enzymes that help digestion, but this occurs only if the food is eaten raw or lightly cooked.
One myth is that you can’t digest meals of both protein and carbohydrate. This isn’t true.  Protein is digested in the stomach, a process that takes an hour or two, whereas carbs are digested lower down in the small intestine. However, if you eat a high-protein meal and follow it with a fruit salad, the fruit may get trapped in the stomach and start to ferment.
Many people become allergic to common foods for the simple reason that their digestive tract becomes too permeable, allowing whole food proteins to pass through, causing the immune system to react. The main culprits that cause gastrointestinal permeability are painkillers (the average person takes more than 300 a year), antibiotics and alcohol. If you suffer from excessive bloating, that is also an indicator of food allergies.
So, do some homework in identifying what you might have become intolerant to (wheat, milk and yeast are the most common culprits). As well, taking digestive enzymes in addition to probiotics and glutamine will restore intestinal health.
Digestive enzymes help to completely break down food (look for formulas that contain glucoamylase and alpha-galactosidase which are the enzymes that break down beans and greens). Probiotics work to reinoculate the gut with friendly bacteria – you need both Acidophilus and Bifidus strains.
And the amino acid glutamine literally feeds mucousal cells, helping them to regenerate and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. (In fact, some experts speculate that glutamine deficiency may play a role in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), namely ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease). Take a heaping teaspoon of glutamine in water, last thing at night.
BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
When your blood sugar is low, you feel tired and hungry. If you refuel with fast-energy-releasing high-GL (glycemic load) carbohydrates (sweet or refined foods), you cause your blood sugar to rise rapidly and your body dumps the excess into storage as fat. Then your blood sugar level drops again, and you enter the vicious cycle of yo-yoing blood sugar that leads to weight gain.
To balance your blood sugar, eat more slow-release foods (such as fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grain carbohydrates). You also need to graze rather than gorge. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. This provides your body with an even supply of fuel.
Another tool is a daily spoonful of cinnamon. A Scandinavian study found that about two teaspoons of cinnamon may slow down digestion in the stomach. This would effectively ‘slow-release’ the carbohydrates in a meal.
SHARPEN YOUR MIND
Do you wonder how your brain and body chemistry manages to stay in balance? How it makes insulin when your blood sugar is high, or adrenalin when you’re stressed?
Behind the scenes, there’s a process called methylation that is the key to feeling connected, happy, alert and motivated. How good you are at methylation is indicated by the level of a substance in your blood called homocysteine. Keeping your homocysteine low, indicating that you are able to rapidly adapt and respond to life’s stresses, is the third secret of 100% health. A low H score means a low risk of strokes, heart attacks, pregnancy problems, memory decline, depression, mental illness, osteoporosis and many other health issues.
There are four factors that raise homocysteine: stress, smoking, drinking coffee, and lack of exercise, – as well as a diet low in B vitamins, especially folic acid.
If your homocysteine level is high, there is a combination of nutrients that really works – folic acid, B6, B12, TMG, zinc and sometimes glutathione or N-acetyl cysteine. B12 is poorly absorbed, so it’s worth getting a formula that contains methylcobalamine, the most absorbable form. You need high doses, in the range of 500mcg. Two in five people over age 60 are B12 deficient. In patients with dementia, we often find that also giving glutathione or n-acetyl cysteine makes a big difference.
EAT ESSENTIAL FATS
Today we know that omega-3 fats are essential for good health, acting as natural painkillers and more potent antidepressants than conventional drugs. On top of this, they are your skin’s best friend, keeping it soft and moisturized. Omega-3 fats are found in colder-climate nut or seed oils, such as flaxseeds and walnuts, and in oily fish. The decline in our oily fish consumption, largely because of fat phobia, has fuelled an epidemic of omega-3 deficiency. In my survey, I found that the likelihood of optimal health increases by nearly two-thirds in those consuming three or more servings of oily fish (herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna and trout) a week, compared to only two a week.
INCREASE ANTI-AGING ANTIOXIDANTS
The entire process of aging, from your first wrinkle to worsening eyesight, depends on oxidation. Put simply, we make energy by combusting carbohydrate with oxygen. The net result is our own exhaust fumes called oxidants. This is the stuff that rusts metal and ultimately, rusts us. An optimal intake of antioxidant nutrients is the key to living a long and healthy life. Generally, with fruit and vegetables where you find the most color and flavor, you will also find the highest antioxidant levels. Aim for five to 10 servings daily of a range of fruit and vegetables to keep your intake high.
And yes, it’s true! Dark organic chocolate is good for you. It’s rich in two anti-aging antioxidant flavonoids called gallic acid and epicatechin.
In my book The 10 Secrets of 100% Healthy People we identify the top 20 antioxidant foods, which include herbs and spices such as cinnamon (half a teaspoon has more antioxidant power than two carrots), plus turmeric and oregano. Mustard is pretty good, too. You want to eat the strong colours in nature – greens, yellows, reds, oranges and blues such as blueberries.
In terms of supplements, antioxidants are team players and you need both vitamins E and C, glutathione, anthocyandins from berries (resveratrol being the best), plus beta carotene, alpha lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 reloads vitamin E once it has disarmed a fat-based oxidant, but cholesterol-lowering statin drugs wipe it out. Anyone on these drugs must take 90mg of CoQ10 a day to prevent drug-induced deficiency, which is the major cause of side-effects.
WATER IS YOUR MOST VITAL NUTRIENT
If you only drink when you’re thirsty, your body is already in a state of dehydration. Not drinking enough makes you tired and dries out your skin and your joints. It gives you headaches and reduces mental ability. It’s also a major cause of constipation. Your body absorbs more water if you drink little and often. It absorbs less if drunk with sweet drinks, or tea or coffee. For maximum hydration, drink small amounts of pure water more often.
THE CHI FACTOR
A survey of our 101 top health scorers shows that 50% practised some form of chi-generating exercise. Energy isn’t just about eating the right food and exercising. Chi or prana – which broadly corresponds to ‘energy flow’ – has been recognized for years in the East, but it is rarely included in the health agenda in the West, largely because it can’t be measured by conventional medical science.
These ancient systems of exercise such as tai chi, qigong and yoga have been designed to balance the emotions, still the mind and rejuvenate the body by removing the blockages caused by accumulated tension. Although you can, technically, learn chi exercises from books and DVDs, it is far better to have direct instruction because success depends on being in the right position, with the correct breathing pattern.
KEEP FIT, STRONG AND SUPPLE
My survey showed that 54% of people with optimum cardiovascular health exercise for three or more hours a week, compared to 1% of those with a poor rating. Simply increasing your energy expenditure from physical activity by 1,000 kilocalories a week – the equivalent of just 15 minutes of jogging, cycling or swimming, or 30 minutes of walking a day – is associated with cutting your risk of premature death by about 20%.
Get a pedometer and monitor your daily steps for a week. Aim for 4,000 steps in the first week and 6,000 in the second week, the equivalent of about three miles walking a day. When you have achieved this, aim for 10,000 steps a day.
GET YOUR PAST OUT OF YOUR PRESENT
My survey of 101 top health scorers shows that 85% consider state of mind to be extremely important for health, and 83% have a close circle of family and friends. Extreme emotions affect heart function, depress the immune system and inhibit digestion.
Everyone accumulates emotional tension. However, how you consciously experience your emotions makes all the difference. When you need to express an emotion, take a breath and say clearly: “I am feeling x,y,z (for example, angry, frustrated, sad) and that’s OK.” Take another breath and say this until you sense a different feeling. Allow the feeling, and yourself, to ‘be’ – without judgment.
FIND YOUR PURPOSE
Having a sense of purpose is one of the defining qualities in those who scored highly in my questionnaire. Your sense of purpose changes throughout life. For example, taking care of your family may give you your feeling of purpose. Many people find purpose through work that feels important and meaningful. For most of us, being of service to others works either by supporting causes that we feel passionate about or simply helping people we meet.

Ten Secrets of 100% Healthy People ~ RiseEarth.

Arun Thai Natural: Why You Should be Thanking Your Cracked Heels.


See on Scoop.itDragonfly Massage

Cracked heels tell us a LOT about our health.  Are you thanking yours for the important feedback they’re giving you?

See on arunthainatural.blogspot.fr

 

Home remedies for insomnia


Sleepy men

Image via Wikipedia

Did you toss and turn in bed last night, robbed of a rejuvenating deep sleep? Counting sheep didn’t help? Here are some natural home remedies for insomnia that will hopefully help you enjoy a more restful sleep.

Though insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, it’s a symptom (usually of some form of stress) rather than a disease. Of all the people who suffer from it — more than 60 million a year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Services — relatively few people with chronic insomnia discuss it with their doctor. For those who do, usually the only treatment suggested is sleeping pills.
Sleeping pills might help you fall asleep in the short term, but their efficacy usually wears off over time. Also, sleeping pills typically don’t induce a natural deep-sleep cycle that helps our body’s multitude of systems get a fresh start for the next day.
More natural treatments for insomnia include:
  • Controlling the sleep environment
  • Eliminating stimulants
  • Maintaining a strict sleep schedule
  • Natural herbal supplements
  • Winding down at night and meditation
  • Exercising
Woman in a sleeping mask, man reading in bed
Photo: Hill Street Studios/Jupiterimages
Watching television before bed: A no-no
Although suspenseful cable-TV shows about serial killers can be entertaining, especially after a long, monotonous day at work, watching TV right before bed can release adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) into your bloodstream.
If you have chronic troubles sleeping at night, try not to watch TV of any kind right before bed. You’ll also want to completely power down your computer, smart phone, iPad and all other wireless devices. Although there’s no concrete scientific evidence that WiFi devices can induce insomnia, it’s common sense that these devices won’t help you wind down at night, unless you have an app that mimics the sound of a babbling brook or migratory songs of whales.
Other environmental factors to consider include turning off all lights by 10 p.m., the hour that your cortisol levels should start dipping way down.
That cup of coffee you had at 3 p.m. could be keeping you up
The half-life of caffeine lasts for several hours. That means the effects of that big cup of coffee you had at work — which you gulped down perhaps because you didn’t eat enough throughout the day and now you’re feeling sluggish — lasts well into the night. By 9 p.m., several dozen milligrams of that cup of coffee is still active in your system. Sure, you may be able to fall asleep, but most likely you won’t enjoy a rejuvenating deep sleep.
Alcohol also can disrupt deep-sleep cycles. Although it can help you fall asleep, you’ll most likely wake up wide-eyed in the middle of the night if you have too much to drink.
Ben Franklin had it right
For those who work graveyard shifts, it might be impossible to live the motto: “Early to bed, early to rise,” but even those who have to work in the middle of the night can benefit from maintaining a strict sleep schedule, going to sleep at the same time every day. For those who work normal hours, try to be in bed by 10 p.m. with the lights out.
Try taking a hot shower or bath around 9 p.m. Add some all-natural bubble bath, Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and light a candle in the bathroom. Lavender, for reasons that are not completely understood, has also proven in some studies to promote more restful sleep. Purchase some lavender and an essential oil diffuser and place near your bed.
Popping pills is OK, but try to take natural ones
Tryptophan is the amino acid found in turkey and is possibly the reason that millions of Americans get a restful catnap after a Thanksgiving holiday meal. Tryptophan is broken down into 5-HTP, which is then converted by the body into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, commonly known as the sleep hormone.
Melatonin as well as 5-HTP can be purchased at most natural markets that sell supplements. Consider starting with 5-HTP as it is converted into serotonin, the pleasure chemical that many people with depression don’t have enough of. Most of melatonin production occurs in the gut. Have your doctor or someone trained in lab diagnostics to check your melatonin levels. If they are low, it’s possible you may have a chronic gastrointestinal infection that you may not be aware of, which could lead to sleep disruptions because of low melatonin.
Exercise and meditation
Try to get regular exercise most days of the week. You can split up exercise routines into smaller segments during the day. But don’t exercise at a high-intensity late in the day, as you may have trouble winding down. The more stressful your life is, the greater the need for meditation, which ideally should be done every morning and night for at least 10 minutes.
Sleep journaling and CBT
According to the National Institutes of Health, a type of counseling called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve the anxiety linked to chronic insomnia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia includes regular, often weekly, visits to a clinician, who will give you a series of sleep assessments, ask you to complete a sleep diary and work with you in sessions to help you change the way you sleep.
Have any other suggestions for home remedies for insomnia? Let us know below.
Judd Handler is a health writer in Encinitas, Calif.

Herbal Antibiotic Alternatives |


Holly-leaf Oregon-grape, Shining Oregongrape, ...

Image via Wikipedia

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.

Herbal Antibiotic Alternatives | Page 3 | The Dr. Oz Show.

Get Your “Pep” Back With Peppermint



As the temperatures rise, be sure to give yourself the cooling, minty refreshment that Young Living’s peppermint essential oil provides. One of the best things to do during a hot, summer evening is to rub some soothing peppermint on the bottoms of your feet.

There are very few things out there that can soothe and relax while also giving you the clarity, focus, and pick-me-up that you need during a day when you feel just a little off. Peppermint falls into that rare category, which makes it such a vital and outstanding part of your aromatherapy and essential oil options.

Some exciting research has been done with peppermint essential oil that studies an increase of concentration and alertness and even memory.  Simply take your bottle of Young Living peppermint oil and place a drop of the oil on your tongue or add it to flavor and cool your water, lemonade, or favorite tea.

Let’s examine a few other exciting and versatile ways you can utilize your peppermint oil and reap the benefits of nature’s living energy:

  • Add a drop of peppermint essential oil to herbal tea to help aid normal digestion.
  • Massage several drops of peppermint essential oil on your abdomen, place a drop on your wrists, or inhale to soothe the minor stomach discomfort associated with travel.
  • Rub one drop of peppermint essential oil on your temples, forehead, over your sinuses (careful to avoid contact with your eyes), and on the back of your neck to relieve head pressure.
  • Place two drops of peppermint essential oil on your tongue and rub another drop of oil under your nose to help improve concentration and alertness.
  • Apply peppermint essential oil to the back of your neck and shoulders throughout the day to keep energy up.
  • Inhale peppermint essential oil, apply topically to your temples or neck, or put a drop on your tongue or in water to jump-start your morning routine.
  • Diffuse or inhale peppermint essential oil mid-morning to curb the desire to snack.
  • Inhale peppermint essential oil or rub a drop onto your abdomen to soothe minor stomach discomfort.

Keep in mind that Young Living’s peppermint oil is a great way to introduce your neighbors, friends, and family to the wonderful and exciting world of essential oils. Help others see what they’ve been missing by introducing them to the versatile world of peppermint!

—Derek Cullimore, YL Product Marketing Manager

Young Living Essential Oils Product Blog » Get Your “Pep” Back With Peppermint.

How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo


Woman with natural red hair

Image via Wikipedia


Right now, I just may gross you out when I tell you something: I haven’t used shampoo or conditioner in three months.

Please don’t unsubscribe to this site.

Truly, I haven’t touched a bottle of either, and I don’t plan on using them anytime in the foreseeable future. My hair is as clean as a whistle, and to be honest, I don’t know if it’s looked this healthy in years.

A few months ago, I started reading around the web about going shampoo-free, and I was intrigued. But like many of you right now, I was also perplexed. Why would you bother? What’s the harm in using shampoo? And isn’t your hair greasy and smelly?

So I read for a few weeks, just taking in info, and one night, after reading about the shampoo-free concept on like the twelfth blog I enjoy, I decided to give it a shot. If I hated it, then no harm — I’ll just keep to my shampooing ways.

But if I liked it as much as everyone else seemed to, then I’ve found a frugal, easy, toxic-free way to care for my hair. So I took the plunge.

Why Go ‘Poo-Free?

Before I go in to the how of no shampoo, it’s a good idea to tell you the why. There’s a lot of valuable information on the Internet, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. But here are the reasons that spoke most to me.

1. Shampoo is a detergent.

Shampoo cleans your hair, but it also strips it of all the healthy oil your body naturally produces. These oils protect your hair and keep it soft and strong.

Shampoo was only introduced in the early 20th century — before that, people relied on good-old soap, which can wash hair just as well without removing important oils. But soap doesn’t work well in alkaline water, and when water in civilized areas started becoming more mineral-heavy (read: alkaline), soap became a challenge. It made the scales on hair stand up, making it weaker and rougher. So shampoo was introduced, marketed with its only benefit of working in both hard and soft water.

Detergent is harsh. I doubt we’d use the same type of stuff to wash our bodies as we would our dishes, but that’s essentially what we’re doing with shampoo.

shampoo bottles

2. Shampoo has all sorts of chemicals.

Our family typically goes out of our way to not eat boxed chemicals disguised as food — we stick to the natural, whole foods that either come from the ground or once ate things that came from the ground. But skin is our largest organ, and it’s extremely porous — substances can easily enter the bloodstream directly through our skin, and they can stay for a long time.

Since we try to avoid food that has unpronounceable ingredients, we thought it only made sense to adhere to the same standards for the stuff we slather on our skin. Since this includes shampoo, we sought out an alternative.

Most shampoos also contain mineral oil, which is a byproduct when gasoline is distilled from crude oil. It’s added to shampoo (along with hundreds of other products) to thickly coat the strands, giving hair an artificial shine. And since it can’t absorb into skin, like the other ingredients, it acts as a barrier on our scalp, preventing oil from being released — thus requiring more shampoo to strip away the grease. This is why the more shampoo you use, the more you need.

3. Shampoo is an unnecessary cost.

So because shampoo isn’t really necessary, using it creates this cycle that requires a dependence on the stuff, along with other hair products. In order to combat the stripping of protective oils, we need an artificial protectant called conditioner. And because now my hair is coated with unnatural substances, it requires more unnatural substances to keep it styled, strong, and workable. The list of hair pomades, waxes, gels, mousses, and detanglers available could take up pages on this site.

Since we’re a frugal family, seeking a simple life, it made sense to eliminate something we didn’t truly need.  We’d rather spend our money elsewhere.

There are plenty of other reasons — shampoo caused my husband’s dry, itchy scalp, and we had another added expense of buying a tear-free type of shampoo for our kiddos. While this wasn’t a life-or-death situation for us, by any means, it made more and more sense for us to give a shampoo-free life a shot once we read about it.

How to go ‘Poo-Free

nopoohair
No, this isn’t yours truly in a police line-up — it’s my hair today, a day after rinsing in baking soda and vinegar.

I don’t like writing doom and destruction on this blog — I’d rather give you useful, practical information that might make your life simpler. So that’s enough on the why not to do something — here are helpful tips for how you can give going ‘poo-free a shot.

Baking Soda is Your Friend

0714_baking_sodaBaking soda works wonders on hair, along with its other many household helps. It’s gentle, it’s the weakest alkaline, and it very gently clarifies hair from chemical buildup.

Like many natural cleaners, the recipe isn’t static — it can be tweaked to suit your needs. The standard amount for hair care is one tablespoon of baking soda to one cup of water. Those with curly or thicker hair might need a bit more baking soda, and those with thin or fine hair might need less. Experiment, and see what works for you.

I use a simple 8-ounce squeeze bottle, pour in a tablespoon of baking soda with a funnel, then fill up the rest with water from the kitchen sink. I give it a good shake to dissolve the baking soda, and it’s ready to be used.

In the shower, I soak my hair with water, then I squeeze a bit of the baking soda mixture on my scalp, starting at the crown. I massage it in as I go, squeezing a bit more here and there, concentrating mostly on the scalp. I include my hair as well, but since most of the oils originate from the scalp itself, the hair will naturally get cleaned once the scalp is clarified.

After a few minutes, I rinse it out, just like I would shampoo.

For my husband and I combined, this amount will last us about a week or week and a half. He has fairly short hair, and mine is just below my ears.

Apple Cider Vinegar is Your Next Friend

apple-cider-vinegar-1Apple cider vinegar is a mild acidic, working well to counteract the baking soda, and thus acts as a great replacement for conditioner. It detangles the hair folicles, seals the cuticle, and balances the hair’s pH balance.

A little goes a very long way, just like the baking soda. The standard recipe is also one tablespoon apple cider vinegar to one cup water. For this, I use an old conditioner bottle, and fill it with the vinegar and water via funnel, then finish it with a shake.

My hair tends to rest a little on the oily side naturally, so I don’t use much of this. I pour a little on just the ends of my hair, let it rest for a few seconds, then rinse it out.

And that, from start to finish, is my current hair care routine.

Other Tips

• You might have a transition period that lasts from a few weeks to a few months, where your hair reacts with excess oil to the lack of shampoo. This is perfectly normal. It’s used to having its oils stripped, so it might take time for the oil to stop producing so heavily in protest. My transition period only lasted about two weeks, and it wasn’t any big deal, really.

• I hear that eventually, you can wean off baking soda and vinegar all together, relying only on water in the shower to remove dirt and oil. I haven’t gotten there yet.

• If you find that your hair is too oily (after the transition period), try using less vinegar, or not using it all together. Some people also use lemon juice instead of vinegar as their acidic clarifier.

• If your hair feels too dry, use less baking soda, or try using honey instead of vinegar.

• I don’t need anything else for my hair. I stopped using pomade, which I previously used religiously to cut the frizzies. My hair is amazingly pliable, and can hold styles without my needing to do much of anything. I’m thrilled with the results!

• We also use this mix on our kiddos’ heads, though we only use it once a week or so. Sometimes we’ll even go two weeks, since their scalps don’t really produce much oil at this age. We clean more ketchup and oatmeal out than we do oil.

For more information:

How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo — Simple Mom.

The benefits of coconut oil & a new warning about olive oil


The benefits of coconut oil and a new warning about olive oil

by Doctor Joseph Mercola

A common question that many people have is whether food should be eaten uncooked. I personally believe that consuming a majority of your food uncooked is a cornerstone of optimal health.

Typically, the less processed and heat-treated the food is, the more nutritious and healthier it is going to be.

Nevertheless, most people prefer to cook their food, at least occasionally. When you do, you’re going to cook with some form of oil.

The question is, what’s the best, healthiest type of oil to use when cooking?

Dr. Rudi Moerck has studied oils for a long time, and offers some intriguing insights in this interview.

Cooking with Tropical Oils – Your Healthiest Alternative
I have, for many years now, recommended coconut oil on the basis and the supposition that it doesn’t contain much unsaturated fat. As a result, it’s not going to be damaged by heat and create trans fats like some other oils. (Another tropical oil that is very similar is palm oil.)

Dr. Moerck agrees, saying:

“I would say that coconut oil is okay to cook with. It’s a saturated fat. Your body will burn it as fuel or it will get rid of it some other way. It won’t store it in your body.. So from that point of view, if you’re going to use oil then that’s a good one to use.”

Interestingly, unlike carbohydrates, which can also deliver quick energy to your body, coconut oil does this without producing an insulin spike. Yes, it acts like a carbohydrate, but without any of the debilitating insulin-related effects associated with long-term high carbohydrate consumption.

But that’s merely the beginning.

Earlier this week I published an entire special report on the health benefits of coconut oil, which include:

•Promoting heart health
•Promoting weight loss, when needed
•Supporting your immune system health
•Supporting a healthy metabolism
•Providing you with an immediate energy source
•Keeping your skin healthy and youthful looking
•Supporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland
Part of what makes coconut oil such a healthful oil for cooking is that 50 percent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. This is also one of the features that distinguishes coconut oil from other saturated fats.

Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.

In addition, coconut oil is about 2/3 medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. These types of fatty acids also produce a host of health benefits.

Best of all, coconut oil is stable enough to resist heat-induced damage, which you cannot say for other oils. In fact, it’s so stable you can even use if for frying (although I don’t recommend frying your food for a number of health reasons).

I recommend using coconut oil in lieu of every other oil, whether your recipe calls for butter, olive oil, vegetable oil or margarine.

Important, New Information about Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil is a good monounsaturated fat that is also well-known for its health benefits. It’s a staple in healthful diets such as Mediterranean-style diets.

However, it’s important to realize it is NOT good for cooking. It should really only be used cold, typically drizzled on salads and other food.

Due to its chemical structure and a large amount of unsaturated fats, cooking makes extra-virgin olive oil very susceptible to oxidative damage. However, during this interview I learned that extra-virgin olive oil has a significant draw-back even when used cold – it’s still extremely perishable!

As it turns out, extra-virgin olive oil has chlorophyll that accelerates decomposition and makes the oil go rancid rather quickly.

In fact, Dr. Moerck actually prefers using almost tasteless, semi-refined olive oil rather than extra-virgin olive oil for this reason.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably leaving your bottle of olive oil right on the counter, opening and closing it multiple times a week. Remember, any time the oil is exposed to air and/or light, it oxidizes, and as it turns out, the chlorophyll in extra virgin olive oil accelerates the oxidation of the unsaturated fats.

Clearly, consuming spoiled oil (of any kind) will likely do more harm than good.

To protect the oil, Dr. Moerck recommends treating it with the same care as you would other sensitive omega-3 oils:

•Keep in a cool, dark place
•Purchase smaller bottles and not larger to ensure freshness
•Immediately replace the cap after each pour
To help protect extra virgin olive oil from oxidation, Dr. Moerck suggests putting one drop of astaxanthin into the bottle. You can buy astaxanthin, which is an extremely potent antioxidant, in soft gel capsules. Just prick it with a pin and squeeze the capsule into the oil.

The beautiful thing about using astaxanthin instead of another antioxidant such as vitamin E, is that it is naturally red, since vitamin E is colorless, so you can tell the oil still has astaxanthin in it by its color.

As the olive oil starts to pale in color, you know it’s time to throw it away.

You can also use one drop of lutein in your olive oil. Lutein imparts an orange color and will also protect against oxidation. Again, once the orange color fades, your oil is no longer protected against rancidity and should be tossed.

This method is yet another reason for buying SMALL bottles. If you have a large bottle, you may be tempted to keep it even though it has begun to oxidize.

The Worst Cooking Oils of All
Polyunsaturated fats are the absolute WORST oils to use when cooking because these omega-6-rich oils are highly susceptible to heat damage.

This category includes common vegetable oils such as:

•Corn
•Soy
•Safflower
•Sunflower
•Canola
Damaged omega-6 fats are disastrous to your health, and are responsible for far more health problems than saturated fats ever were.

Trans fat is the artery-clogging, highly damaged omega-6 polyunsaturated fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening.

I strongly recommend never using margarine or shortening when cooking. I guarantee you you’re already getting far too much of this damaging fat if you consume any kind of processed foods, whether it be potato chips, pre-made cookies, or microwave dinners…

Trans fat is the most consumed type of fat in the US, despite the fact that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.

Trans fat raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while lowering your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you want. In fact, trans fats — as opposed to saturated fats — have been repeatedly linked to heart disease. They can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.

Personally I don’t cook very much but when I do I use our Pure Virgin Coconut Oil as it is the most resistant to heating damage, but also a great source of medium chained triglycerides and lauric acid.

So, cleaning these oils out of your kitchen cupboard is definitely recommended if you value your health.

Dr. Mercola is the founder of the world’s most visited natural health web site, Mercola.com.

Make Your Own Pure and Natural Bath Salts | Organic Soul


Mother's Day

Image via Wikipedia

Making your own natural bath and body products can be a fun hobby. You don’t have to sniff through aisles of products filled with unnatural ingredients and artificial fragrances; instead, you are in charge. You can mix up your own custom blend that soothes your senses and saves the sinuses.

If you decide to create your own bath salts, varieties of purely natural options are at your disposal. When you’ve found your favorite base, I suggest purchasing it in bulk from an online source, simply because it is much more economical. However, it is important to be aware that not all sources of salt are created equal. Unfortunately, there are providers that blend a small amount of premium salt with a lesser grade, and yet it retails at full price. Sometimes minerals can be removed from the salt thus creating an inferior product. Also, beware of bleached white salt because it is a sure sign that valuable minerals have been removed. Since you are investing time into making your own blend, spend a few moments to make sure you’re using a high-quality base.

As a base, I recommend using Dead Sea salt. It is very economical and has so many wonderful benefits. This salt, originating in Israel, contains over 21 minerals essential to our bodies and has been known to ease many skin conditions. Another favorite of mine is Himalayan pink salts. The color is simply beautiful and the benefits are well worth the extra price. This healing, skin smoothing salt is said to contain over 80 valuable elements. Plus, it is said to be the purest salt on the market.

Once you have found your base, it is time to decide on scent. I prefer to use pure essential oils to synthetic fragrance oils. The crumb cake bath fragrance might smell heavenly, but we are trying to make something as close to nature as possible. Your body will thank you for steering away from the chemical alternatives. It is important to be aware that not all essential oils are recommended for bath products, so do your homework. Some of my favorites are peppermint, rosemary, lavender, grapefruit and lime. You can create your own unique blends by adding two or more essential oils to your recipe.

Your imagination is the limit when it comes to the creative process of blending your own fragrance.

If you would like to give your bath salts as a gift, I recommend reusing glass jars that you might find around the house. If the lid gives away the clue to the jar’s first purpose, simply paint over it with acrylic paint. Another fun thing to do is layer Dead Sea Salt with Himalayan salt. The colors are beautiful, and the presentation is quite impressive.

Pure and Natural Bath Salts

  • 4 C. salt
  • ½ oz. Pure essential oil

I like to use plastic shoeboxes to mix my bath salt in. Simply pour in your salt base of choice and add your essential oil(s). Blend thoroughly with a stainless spoon and cover with lid.

Note: You might find that you prefer either a lighter or a heavier scent; if so, simply reduce or increase the amount of essential oil you use. Just remember: when the salts dry, the scent will be reduced.

Have fun while creating your own blends and relaxing to the finished product!

Make Your Own Pure and Natural Bath Salts | Organic Soul.

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