Natural Health
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Top 10 Natural Foods for Cat Health

quality-food-for-your-pregnant-cat

If you have been educating yourself on what you should be feeding your kitty, you know by now that not all people foods are meant for these cute beings. When it comes to nutrition, you should never go for the cheapest options especially if your cat's health is on the line. However, cheap doesn't always mean unhealthy. What you need to do is develop the habit of reading food labels.

If you are planning to feed your cat raw food, you should at least know the basic ingredients that are necessary to promote cat nutrition. Here are some of the top picks when it comes to giving your feline food that would support its complete nutritional needs.

High-Quality Meat

If there is one thing that we know about cats, it's the fact that they need protein in their diet. Felines spend most of their days being active and to support their energy levels, they need to eat the right kind of food. There is a wide array of meat products that you can choose from. However, there are a lot of cat owners who go for chicken and turkey meals. This ingredient is quite familiar if you have a thing for reading the labels of your cat food.

The meat in the cat food, if it is in kibble form, should have the same grade as the one we humans eat. If you decide to take a trip to the supermarket to feed your cat some real meat, make sure that you cook the meat by at least 10 percent to get rid of the idea.

Grain-Free Pet Food Formula

Grain-Free-Formula

This is one thing that you need to be conscious about, especially when you have a cat that is prone to having allergic reactions. There are many cat breeds that may be sensitive to gluten which is present in grains. This means that favorite human food containing such as rice and barley are not good for your cat. This also indicates that you need to avoid these ingredients in your cat food since they may not be the best food for kitty. It’s better to stay away from grains whether you are feeding you are feeding your four-legged buddies with commercial cat food or you are putting them on an organic diet.

Spinach

Spinach

Apparently, Popeye is not the only one who could benefit from eating Spinach, your cats can enjoy this human food and it is healthy for them. Aside from being low in calories, spinach contains glycoglycerolipids which could help maintain a healthier digestive system.

However, if your kitty has kidney problems, this is not a good choice since it also contains calcium oxalate which may result in the formation of crystals in the urinary tract.

Broth: Chicken or Beef?

If you have a cat you know how these animals can be about water. In fact, felines are very picky on how you offer them a drink which is why you need to be looking out for their water intake to know they are drinking enough.

One way to get around this is to feed them with beef or chicken broth. This is a low-calorie meal. While at it, make sure not to add too much sodium. In cases where your kitty has stones or crystals, adding water is a must.

Eggs

Eggs are great sources of protein and they are not just good for a healthy breakfast, they also serve as a major source of nutrition for cats. If you are watching kitty’s weight, however, try to feed it with egg whites only since the yolk is high in fat and cholesterol. You may give your kitty with hard boiled or scrambled eggs.

Melon

Melon

Of all the fruits that you can load up on, melons happen to be one of the most nutritious and this fruit is not just good for your skin, they also have tons of benefits for your cats. Melons, irrespective of variety, are rich in Vitamins A and C which could help boost the immune system. This is true for humans and, apparently, for cats, too. Frozen melon slices may be a great option and treat for your kitties.

Fish

If we are to believe the things that we see on TV, we would say that cats love to eat fish. In fact, they do and you can share your fish meals with them.

Fish is high in Omega 3, which is good for the heart and your cats may also love cooked or canned fish. However, if you have an overweight cat in your hands, try to mellow down on fish and tuna.

Bananas

Bananas

While cats can eat fruits, you need to be careful about the kind of fruits to feed them. There are some fruits that contain ingredients that are toxic to cats, and you don’t want to commit the mistake of feeding Fluffy with that.

One safe choice is banana, which is rich in potassium and there is a whole lot of soluble fiber, too. Be sure not to feed your cats more than they should be eating.

Whole Grains in Cat Food

Whole-Grains

While there are some cats that are sensitive to gluten, it is not true for all your fluffy friends. Giving them high-quality whole grains may be a good way to improve their diet.

Grains are available in kibbles, too, and most cat owners rely on an automatic cat feeder for their cats if they use commercial cat food. However, preparing a meal with quinoa or brown rice may be a good idea if you want kitty to eat organic meals.

Blueberries

Blueberries

If you want to give cats a treat from time to time, blueberries can be a good choice. Frozen blueberries would be particularly great and many cats love it. These berries are rich in Vitamins C and A which are found in many cat foods. Needless to say, you should make sure that you are not feeding kitty with more than 25 pieces each time.

Conclusion

When it comes to cat nutrition the right balance of protein, fat, and carbs are necessary. If you are not a fan of the automatic cat feeder and would rather rely on all organic, be sure to check if what you are feeding your cats provide them with sufficient nutrition.

Ann Katelyn is a homesteader in Alabama whohas dedicated most of her life to gardening and botanical study with growing interests ranging from the popular, world-class roses to the rarest and most exotic orchids. She is currently trying her best to become well versed on plants found in desert areas, the tropics, and Mediterranean region. Connect with Ann on Twitter and her website, Sumo Gardener. Read all of Ann's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Comparing Soap Ingredients: Farm-Made Goat's Milk vs Corporate-Brand Soaps

Homemade Soap Samples In Store

Recently, I was at a store handing out samples of our all-natural goat’s milk soap when a woman walked up to me and asked for a sample. She told me that she had very sensitive skin which was itching constantly and that her doctor had recommended to her to use Dove brand soap. She said switching to Dove didn’t help — her skin was still itching.

Curious as to the ingredients, I bought a bar of the doctor-recommended “Dove, Unscented, Sensitive Skin”, and deciphered the ingredients, which were printed in light turquoise print on a white shiny background. I had to get help to read them — a friend could barely read them with 20/20 vision, so anyone without perfect vision would not have been able to read the ingredients. (Hmmm.)

Corporate-Brand 'Soap' versus Farm-Made Soaps

Here are the ingredients listed on the Dove label, with a comparison to the ingredients in our Goat’s Milk Soap. The definitions and explanations for the ingredients were taken from the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website. No interpretations or judgements were added.

To help with reading the ingredients, here are the definitions of three that occur throughout:

Surfactant is a compound that lowers the surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid so that they can be better blended.

Viscosity is a measure of a liquids resistance to flow. Honey is very viscous, water is not.

Chelating is removing chlorine, chemicals, metals and other mineral deposits from your hair or skin.

Soap Making Ingredients

Dove

Serenity Acres Goat Milk Soap

Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate

Sodium Salt – surfactant; a cleansing agent

 

Fresh Goat’s Milk

natural, high in alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic acid, breaks down dead skin cells and leaves behind new skin cells – cream is moisturizing, full of vitamins – contributes to the creamy and conditioning qualities of the soap

Stearic Acid

Natural occurring fatty acid – may be of animal origin or plant based (not specified here); can be harsh and irritating – surfactant, cleansing agent, stabilizer

Grade A Olive Oil

contributes to conditioning qualities of the soap

Lauric Acid

Natural occurring fatty acid, common in coconut oil – surfactant, cleansing agent, emulsifier

Coconut Oil

contributes to cleansing and bubbly qualities of the soap

Sodium Tallowate or Sodium Palmitate

Rendered beef fat – may cause eczema and blackheads – surfactant, cleansing agent, foam booster or sodium of palmitic acid, found in olive oils, coconut oils, or body fats – cleansing, emulsifying, viscosity controlling

Organic, Sustainable Palm Oil

contributes to hardness and creaminess of the soap

Water Aqua

Purified Water

Sodium Isethionate

Organic Salt – antistatic, cleansing, hair conditioning, skin conditioning

Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)

highly caustic and reactive inorganic base which combines with the oils through a chemical process and so changes into soap and glycerin. After the 24 hour saponification process, no lye remains in the soap. All real soap is made with lye.

Sodium Stearate

A natural occurring fatty acid – surfactant, cleansing Agent, emulsifying, viscosity controlling

 

Essential or Fragrance Oils

aromatic oil produced from a plant

A fragrance oil is an artificial chemical aroma carrier.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

A synthetic surfactant – associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis – antistatic, hair & skin conditioning agent, cleansing, foam booster, viscosity increasing.

 

Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate

Sodium Salt of fatty acids from coconut oil – cleansing and emulsifying sodium salt of the acids derived from palm kernel oil surfactant – cleansing, emulsifying, viscosity increasing.

 

Dipropylene Glycol

Synthetic Solvent – associated with irritation of skin, eyes or lungs – solvent, viscosity decreasing

 

Sodium Chloride

inorganic salt (table salt) – viscosity increasing

 

Tetrasodium Etidronate

Diphosphonic Acid Derivative – chelating agent, stabilizing, viscosity controlling

 

Tetrasodium EDTA

Chelating Agent associated with organ system toxicity and enhanced skin absorption

 

Maltol

Naturally occurring organic compound – scent of cotton candy and caramel so used to impart a sweet aroma; masking, tonic

 

Titanium Dioxide

Inorganic compound (white); colorant, sunscreen agent opacifying agent; ultraviolet light absorber- reduces lather and moisturizing

 

It is also remarkable that nowhere on the package is this “bar” labeled as a soap. And there is an easy answer for it: It is not a soap. It is a detergent and, therefore, cannot be called or marketed as a “soap”. A soap is specifically defined as fatty acids which are neutralized by an alkali such as lye.

Serenity Acres Goats Milk Soap

So, after looking at the table and comparing the ingredients, wouldn’t you much rather use on your skin — the largest and most permeable organ of your body ÿ a real soap with seven ingredients, all of which you can pronounce, or a synthetic detergent with 15 ingredients, most of which you have to look up as to what they are and what they do?

I’ll let you be the judge.

Yours Always, Julia

Gathering Herbs In A Field

Julia Shewchuk owns and operates Serenity Acres Farm on 80 acres in Florida. Serenity Acres runs on solar, is Animal Welfare Approved-certified, houses anywhere from four to 10 WWOOFers and interns, and is the home to 58 dairy goats, 16 Black Angus cattle, 278 laying hens, 3 horses, 3 cats, 4 house dogs, 6 livestock guardian dogs, and 6 ducks. Read all of Julia’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Echinacea: A Common Medicinal for a Variety of Ailments

 

Herbs are useful for more than just flavoring food. They can add nutrients to your diet including vitamins and minerals, help alleviate symptoms of a cold/flu, improve your immune system, and even reduce inflammation, stop bleeding, and heal minor burns/bee stings. Wildcrafting is a good way of gathering herbs that you may need. But a way to secure your herbal medicine cabinet is to learn to grow your own.

My last blog post was about mullein, which is something that grows prolifically in the wild and is great for making an oil to soothe ear aches/infections and also helping relieve chest congestion. Today, I’m going to cover another great herb that can be cultivated in your garden: Echinacea purpurea, or Purple Coneflower.

Echinacea as Medicinal Plant

A member of the Asteraceae family, this easy-to-grow plant is a native of North America. Its stalk will grow from 2-5 feet topped by a lovely lavender flower with brownish centers. Though it prefers moist soil it can also be found in dry prairies, and, once established, can do well even in drought conditions (which is great for gardeners!).

When planting this flower, choose a sunny spot — it does not do well in shade. The flower blooms in the summer and reseeds itself in the fall. This year I left the Echinacea in my garden alone to allow them to reseed for next year hoping to at least double my crop.

Echinacea has a rich history, used by several Native American tribes of North America for different purposes, the chief one being as an analgesic (it relieved fever, headaches, and provided pain relief). Echinacea is a natural remedy to turn to the next time you or a family member come down with a cold.

Adding this herb to your garden will allow you to be able to have it on hand when you need it. You can quickly whip up an infusion or, plan ahead a little, and make a tincture which allows the medicinal qualities to be preserved for use at anytime.

In the United States, we tend to rely more heavily on prescription medication, but that situation is different in Europe. For instance, in Germany, experts have deemed Echinacea a natural antibiotic, because it suppresses viral activities. Echinacea also contains phenols, flavonoids, copper, iron, iodine, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E.

These are some benefits of Echinacea:

• Alleviates symptoms of colds, coughs, flu, and upper respiratory conditions
• Soothes sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes
• Eases the symptoms of urinary tract infections
• Fights infections
• Strengthens the immune system by promoting T-cell activation (which may cause issues with people with auto-immune diseases)

Preparation: Using fresh is preferred since drying can decrease the medicinal potency, however you may dry it for use as an infusion if you desire.

Echinacea Tincture

Ingredients:

• 8 oz alcohol (I use Everclear but you can use vodka as well)
• 1 oz fresh flower/leaves/roots (only do this if you have a large stand since you are pulling the entire plant)
• Glass jar

 

Directions:

1. Check herb for bugs, remove any dirt, and chop plant parts (the more exposure to the alcohol the better).

2. Make sure the plant is completely covered by the alcohol and cover tightly.

3. Store in a cool, dark place for a minimum of two weeks (four weeks will create a stronger tincture). Shake the jar 1-3 times a day.

4. Strain through cheesecloth and store in an amber dropper jar, in a cool, dark location. For a stronger tincture you may change the herb: alcohol ratio from 1:8 to 1:4 but just make sure the herb is fully covered by the alcohol.

To use: For best results, take at the first sign of illness or if you know you’ve been exposed to illness. Take 15-30 ml three times a day. Do not take for more than 10 days in a row. Echinacea is NOT an everyday tonic, if you are wanting to support your immune system during the winter months, consider brewing up elderberry syrup instead.

This is NOT medical advice; this is for educational purposes only. You should always check with your doctor before trying any of these remedies.

Check out our online community for ways to help in your local food movement, learn about more medicinal herbs and much more. Sean and Monica are available for consulting work regarding property analysis and design, personal coaching and speaking engagements.

Sean and Monica Mitzel homestead with their family on 40 acres and are using permaculture techniques and methods for the property. The homestead is a demonstration and education site where they teach workshops and raise dairy goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and ducks. The Mitzels have planted food forests, guilds and enjoy wildcrafting and propagating plants. Sean and Monica can often be found podcasting or speaking and teaching at different events. Listen to the podcast and to learn more about the Mitzels, visit The Prepared Homestead. Read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Negative Effects of Loud Noise on Our Bodies

It turns out that loud noise is not just annoying, but it also has significant negative effects in the body.

An intriguing study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in 2004, reports that a single session of exposure to very loud noise (100 decibels) for 12 hours caused a significant increase of DNA fragmentation in the adrenal gland cells. These endocrine glands sit on top of the kidneys and release hormones in response to stress, such as cortisol and adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone.

Loud noise is a form of stress as well, called acoustic stress and this is probably why the adrenals were affected so much. The levels of the stress hormones were elevated in the blood following exposure to loud noise. Experiments with consecutive sessions of loud noise exposure (simulating situations of chronic exposure to loud noises, such as living in a big city) show that the levels of stress hormones in the blood reach maximum levels within 9 days and remained in those levels for the duration of the experiment.

Cells possess sophisticated molecular tools to repair DNA breaks within 2 hours (if both strands are broken) or 15 minutes (if only one DNA strand is broken). Interestingly, in the single exposure to loud noise study, cells were unable to repair their DNA even after a day of not being exposed to noise. This suggests that noise is not just harming the DNA or increases the stress hormones, but also diminishes the ability of cells to heal and restore their physiological functions. Somehow, the cellular mechanisms that restore genetic problems remain temporarily inactive after exposure to loud noise.

The cardiovascular system seems to be very sensitive to acoustical stress as well. A study published in 2003 shows that this may be just the tip of the iceberg, since heart cells actually suffer extensive structural and molecular damage following 12 hours of exposure to 100 decibels.

As with the adrenal gland cells, heart cells were unable to restore the genetic damages, even a day after the loud noise exposure. The specific studyalso reports swollen membranes in vital sub-cellular structures and an increase in oxidative stress in the heart cells.

References

1. Frenzilli G, et al., 2004. Effects of loud noise exposure on DNA integrity in rat adrenal gland.Environ Health Perspect. 112(17):1671-2.

2. Lenzi P, et al., 2003. DNA damage associated with ultrastructural alterations in rat myocardium after loud noise exposure.Environ Health Perspect. 111(4):467-71.

3. Soldani P, et al., 1999. Long-term exposure to noise modifies rat adrenal cortex ultrastructure and corticosterone plasma levels. J SubmicroscCytolPathol. 31(3):441-8.

4. Gesi M, et al., 2001. Time-dependent changes in adrenal cortex ultrastructure and corticosterone levels after noise exposure in male rats. Eur J Morphol. 39(3):129-35.

5. Stansfeld S & Matheson M. 2003.Noise pollution: non-auditory effects on health. Br Med Bull 68 (1): 243-257.

Eleni Roumeliotou is a geneticist and clinical nutritionist specializing in fertility and perinatal nutrition and lifestyle. She is the founder of Primal Baby, a health sanctuary for all things fertility and pregnancy. Eleni passionately helps women, who are trying to conceive or are already expecting a baby, to optimize their diet and lifestyle in order to conceive naturally and have the healthiest baby possible. Her passion is to empower women to take control of their fertility and their baby´s health, safeguarding the well being of the next generation, one baby at a time. You can read all of Eleni´s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Mullein: A Common Medicinal for Home Remedies

Cowboy’s Toilet Paper, Our Lady’s Candle, Bunny’s Ear, Beggar’s Blanket, & Quaker’s Rouge are just a few nicknames for Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), a member of the snapdragon family.

You will find this fuzzy, biennial plant growing on roadsides and in areas that have been disturbed in almost every state. A pioneer plant, it grows well in any type of soil, enhancing the soil as it grows (nitrogen fixer) which means it is a great plant to keep on your permaculture property for more than just an herbal remedy (or toilet paper emergency). Its water requirements are very low while sunshine is a must, so don’t look for it in shady, moist places.

The first year, no flowers are present, but it is identifiable by a small rosette of fuzzy green leaves which can grow up to 1 foot in length. Because second-year mullein grows so tall (up to 8 feet!) and produces bright yellow flowers which are great for attracting pollinators it will be much easier to identify and harvest. The entire plant is useful for medicinal applications - the leaves, roots, and flowers. For more information on medicinal herbs and many other subjects consider joining our online community.

         

One of the most common uses for mullein flowers is to make an oil infusion which can be used for ear infection/pain (a couple of drops 3 times a day). To get the best results, I recommend combining it with garlic. This will make a potent and very effective ear remedy. Here is a recipe for mullein/garlic oil drops.

Mullein and Garlic Oil Drops Recipe

• 1 part mullein flowers
• 1 part garlic crushed (with skin left on)

Put flowers and garlic in a small jar and pour enough olive oil to completely cover. Put the jar in a sunny place, shaking once a day for 2-4 weeks.

Strain the oil through a cheesecloth (there are small hairs on the flowers as well as the leaves that can cause irritation so the cheesecloth will ensure these are removed) and store in a dark jar (preferably one with a dropper), and keep in the fridge for up to one year. When you want to use it, allow it to come to room temperature.

 

Medicinal Mullein Tea Blend

Additionally, strong tea or infusion can be made of the dry leaves to help with congestion in the chest caused by chest colds, asthma and bronchitis. It is a very effective expectorant, loosening phlegm from the lungs, allowing it to be coughed up. It can also be used to rid the lungs of irritants that have been inhaled.

• 1-2 teaspoons dried mullein leaf
• 1 cup water (just off a boil)
• local, raw honey for taste (optional)
• spearmint or lemon balm if desired.

Put dried leaves in a teaball or strainer, pour in hot water and cover the top with a lid or plate. Steep 15 min. Sweeten if desired.

If you can’t tolerate the taste, then you can make a steam inhalant by putting the leaves in a pot of water, boil for 5 min. Remove from the heat and inhale the steam.

On a side note, If you ever are in need of using these large leaves as toilet paper, make sure you wipe with the direction of the small hairs and not against or you may end up with a rash!

Another use for mullein which I have not tried, is to dip the stalk in oil and use it as a torch, hence living up to one of its nicknames: “Our Lady’s Candle”. Here’s a really good primer on medicinal herbs.

This is NOT medical advice; this is for educational purposes only. You should always check with your doctor before trying any of these remedies.

Check out our online community for ways to help in your local food movement, learn about more medicinal herbs and much more.

Sean and Monica are available for consulting work regarding property analysis & design, personal coaching and speaking engagements.

All photo credits: Linde Mitzel, P3 Photography

Sean and Monica Mitzel homestead with their family on 40 acres and are using permaculture techniques and methods for the property. The homestead is a demonstration and education site where they teach workshops and raise dairy goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and ducks. The Mitzels have planted food forests, guilds and enjoy wildcrafting and propagating plants. Sean and Monica can often be found podcasting or speaking and teaching at different events. Listen to the podcast and to learn more about the Mitzels, visit The Prepared Homestead. Read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Killing Microbes Without Antibiotics

 

When it comes to infectious pathogens, antibiotics are considered the first and most efficient line of defence. While resistant bacterial strains are becoming more and more common and dangerous, we have learned to rely entirely on synthetic or natural formulations to protect human health. Commercial products, like toothpastes, soaps and household cleaners are also loaded with antimicrobial compounds in an effort to prevent microbes from thriving.

But what if there are simple and practically free ways to maintain health and prevent disease? Decades-old research proves that some of the most dangerous pathogenic culprits hardly need sophisticated ways to be controlled.

Experiments conducted in the midst of cold war showed that pathogenic bacteria cannot survive if exposed unprotected in fresh air. Microbiologists Hendry Druett and K.R. May found out that within 2 hours the vast majority of E. coli colonies were dead, after being exposed to air currents outside of their lab.

Conversely, if the same bacteria were kept confined in boxes at identical temperature and humidity conditions, but still outside of the lab, more than 50 percent of them survived.

When the cold war threats faded away, so did these remarkable experiments, or at least so we are told. Florence Nightingale, the famous British nurse, reportedly slashed hospital death rates by applying simple methods, such as throwing the windows open. Her principles regarding appropriate arrangement in hospital wards, led to the Nightingale wards. These long and narrow rooms had windows reaching up to the ceiling, allowing fresh air to circulate freely.

The long sides of the rooms were facing south, which additionally let in as much sunshine in as possible. The health benefits of sunlight became widely recognised for tuberculosis patients, for whom UV light was considered standard therapy before the widespread use of antibiotics. Like fresh air, sunlight not only kills directly pathogens, but improves body defences by boosting vitamin D production in the body, a mighty anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory substance.

Air renewal in hospitals now is accomplished through mechanical ventilation systems, which recycle and filter existing air. Since the 70s, the need for energy efficiency does not allow opening windows or giving priority to let healing sun rays in the hospital rooms. This has certainly played a role in the widespread problem of resistant pathogens currently thriving in hospitals.

The number and variety of such super microbial strains have increased so dramatically in the last decades that hospitals are now considered one of the biggest sources of antibiotic-resistant diarrhoea and wound infections. Common bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus have evolved to form an army of super-resistant strains, such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which are responsible for persistent hospital infections.

Apart from the lack of fresh, clean air and sunlight, the widespread of antibiotics is also a main driving force behind this bacterial evolution.

Back to Basics

The pressure created by this new generation of resistant pathogens has pushed for new and cost-effective ways to battle hospital infections. Getting hospital staff to wash their hands is another old fashioned method revived in an effort to reduce difficult hospital infections. This simple step alone dramatically reduced MRSA rates in UK hospitals by 80 percent within the last decade.

The World Health Organisation recommends access to fresh air for all health care settings as an efficient way to reduce the transmission of infections. “Natural ventilation can be one of the effective environmental measures to reduce the risk of spread of infections in health care”.

These simple methods show that killing microbes is not strictly a matter of using adequate antibiotics or antimicrobial substances; quite the opposite. Abuse of such compounds creates a tremendous environmental pressure for all kinds of microbes, forcing the most virulent and resistant strains to survive and thrive in the absence of other bacterial competitors. With appropriate organization and design of hospital spaces to make the most of the natural antimicrobial power of sunlight and fresh air, the necessity to use antibiotics and antimicrobials could be minimal.

References

Frank Swain. A Breath of Fresh Air. New Scientist. December 14, 2013.

WHO. 2009. Natural ventilation for infection control in health-care settings.

Photo credit https://pixabay.com/en/view-window-outlook-nature-sky-1602552/.

Eleni Roumeliotou is a mum, clinical nutritionist, geneticist and founder of Primal Babya health sanctuary for all things pregnancy: before, during and after. Eleni passionately helps women, who are trying to conceive or are already expecting a baby, to optimize their diet and lifestyle in order to conceive naturally and have the healthiest baby possible. Her passion is to empower women to take control of their fertility and their baby´s health, safeguarding the wellbeing of the next generation, one baby at a time. You can read all of Eleni´s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

4 Ways to Use Beautiful Bee Balm on the Homestead

Bee Balm Bloom In Garden 

When it comes to landscaping the farmstead or urban homestead, it’s nice to be able to include plants that are both beautiful and functional. Bee balm is a North American wildflower that easily fills both roles.

With an unusual, eye-catching bloom that is loved by bees and butterflies, these showy flowers can come in either scarlet (Monarda didyma) or lavender (Monarda fistulosa), but this plant provides more than just looks and wildlife habitat: It is also a versatile herb with many different uses for health and home.

Flavorful Tea for Enjoyment and Health

If you enjoy Earl Grey, a cup of bee balm tea will seem familiar. One of bee balm’s other common names, wild bergamot, alludes to the sophisticated and citrusy notes possessed by this mint family herb, which is similar to the bergamot orange that flavors Earl Grey tea.

In fact, after the Boston Tea Party, bee balm is believed to have been used as a substitute for the British imported tea that the colonists were boycotting (read more about the history and lure of bee balm).

This herb also makes a lovely after dinner beverage thanks to its ability to support the digestive system, and is much loved by herbalists for its centering and calming influence in the face of nervousness and anxiety. Bee balm is just as wonderful when used in homemade herbal tea blends simply to bring a little extra flavor to the mix.

Lavender Substitute for Skincare

A tea made from bee balm leaves and flowers, also called an infusion, isn’t just for drinking. Once cooled, it can be applied topically as an alternative to lavender.

Bee balm used this way can a provide cooling, soothing wash for minor burns and sunburns, or a useful poultice for cuts, boils, and other skin care needs.

Bee Balm in the Kitchen

The complex, unusual flavor of bee balm is also right at home in the kitchen. As a spice, dried bee balm can be substituted for oregano and used on pizzas, in pasta, and anywhere else a pinch of oregano would be welcome.

Fresh bee balm leaves can be added to pesto, and the flower petals make a pretty and aromatic garnish. They can be used in salads, to make an herbal butter, or in homemade ice cream or a cream cheese spread. Bee balm petals are also a lovely way to dress up fresh fruit or a fruit salad like this one.

Another favorite way to use bee balm is by making a wildflower jelly.

Bundle Of Medicinal Bee Balm 

Preserving Bee Balm as an Extract

A tincture or extract is another way to preserve and use this herb. Like the tea, a bee balm extract can be used to support urinary tract health, as a topical antiseptic, for digestive health, and to support emotional wellness.

A bee balm extract made with the “folk method” is an easy project that will make bee balm available year round for your homestead.

Step 1. Dry your herbs. The strongest extract with the best shelf life will be made using the dried herb. When your bee balm is in full bloom, harvest a bundle of bee balm stems with the leaves and flowers. Hang them to dry, or try one of these Three Easy Ways to Dry Herbs. You can even use a dehydrator to dry bee balm.

Step 2. Make your extract. When the bee balm is completely dry, crumble the leaves and flower tops into a clean, dry glass canning jar until your jar is half full. Add enough brandy or unflavored vodka to the jar to cover the bee balm with an inch of liquid. The alcohol provides shelf life and also helps extract the beneficial properties of the bee balm.

Step 3. Give your extract time. Place a tight fitting lid on the jar and gently shake the herbs and alcohol to combine. Let your bee balm soak in the alcohol for four weeks, but be sure to check on it every day and add more alcohol if necessary so that the herb stays covered. Give your bee balm extract a gentle shake each day.

Step 4. Strain and bottle your extract. At the end of four weeks, strain the herbs from the alcohol and bottle your bee balm extract in an amber colored glass bottle. Label and date your extract. Extracts can have a shelf life of two to several years. Herbalists sometimes use as little as 1 to 3 drops of extract at a time, or up to the range of 30 to 60 drops.

Bee balm is a perennial that, once planted, will thrive in your garden for years to come. This herb prefers full sun, but it can adapt to part shade and is deer resistant. It can also be grown easily in containers. Monarda spp. can be grown from Zones 4 through 9 and tolerate poor soils, but they may need to be watered during dry summers.

Take care not to wet the leaves when watering your bee balm to help keep your plants mildew-free. As easy to grow, versatile, and beautiful as bee balm is, it’s sure to become one of your favorite homestead flowers.

You can read more about bee balm in the Benefits of Bee Balm or Recipes and Remedies Using Bee Balm on the Herbal Academy blog. The Herbal Academy offers affordable, flexible online courses for budding herbalists through advanced practitioners and provides a vibrant online community for students to grow their herbal skills.

Photos provided and copyrighted by Annie Hall and Jane Metzger, Herbal Academy.

Agatha Noveille is an author, herbalist, and Associate Educator at the Herbal Academy. The Herbal Academy is an educational resource offering affordable online herbalist training programs for students at all experience levels, ranging from very beginner to the advanced professional level. Set your foundation in the Introductory Herbal Course, explore herbal therapeutics for body systems in greater depth in the Intermediate Herbal Course, prepare for business endeavors in the Entrepreneur Herbal Course, and delve into complex clinical topics in the Advanced Herbal Course. Learn more about the Herbal Academy’s training programs.


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