Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

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8/24/2015

 

I like setting goals and better yet I love achieving them. Because I am not a sports person and never competed in sports, not even as a kid, competition seems a bit odd to me. But if you were to frame competition as a goal I’d totally understand the mission. Today I have just archived one of my goals. I set a personal goal of writing a weekly blog for MOTHER EARTH NEWS for the duration of a year. 

Last week when I was considering where I might take my weekly musings next, on how I would shape my next goal, I asked two of the folks at MOTHER EARTH NEWS for advice. I also thanked them for their patience in the past when I wrote about topics that could be considered off-topic for their audience. Each of their responses to my query and gratitude were kind and thoughtful.

What I know to be true is that the writing I have done over the past year has allowed me to dig deeper for meaning in my life. I have clarified where I stand and why. Most importantly, the writing has allowed me the space to step back and gain wider perspectives. 

Coming to the conclusions above, I plan to continue writing on a monthly basis for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. In this next series, I will do my best to stay more narrowly focused on topics about our Mother Earth, wildlife, food, and relevant books or movies. This may be difficult as I do enjoy wandering and wondering.

While mulling over what was to come, it became equally clear that my other topics of reflection would continue to need an outlet, so I will share those on The Invisible Parenting Handbook Facebook page. I hope to write heart and soul reflections several times a month on that page.

As with any goal, I believe you always need others to help you achieve them. So as I shifts gears to this next chapter I would like to thank both Heidi and Kale from MOTHER EARTH NEWS for their guidance with blog titles and general smoothing out of the rough bumps of my blogging road. A big thank you to Carly and Kelly my diligent and clear minded editors who took my dyslectic thoughts and helped them to be digestible. Thank you to Blythe, my sister, who occasionally helps with photos and always reposts my MOTHER EARTH NEWS links to my Facebook page. Mostly, thank you to all of you who have spent your valuable time reading my blogs. As you know, I believe time is our most valuable commodity, thank you for sharing yours with me, and sharing my blog posts with others when you felt they were useful.

For me it takes a village to achieve anything of value in my life. Thanks to one and all in my village!

What goals are important to you? Do you need other to help you achieve them? Once you have archived a goal do you set another one?


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



8/17/2015

Every day I do my best to practice mediation, prayer, and walk in the woods. I feel more balanced when I am able to make space for these daily practices.

I can't remember how long ago I started mediating or spending time quieting my mind but I’m constantly reminded of its business as it works on solutions large and small.

I can remember starting my practice of prayer as a very little girl. One way that I stay connected with this practice is by reading my Daily Word every day. When I was in my early twenties my grandmother gave me a subscription to this little gem, and I have been renewing it ever since. Sometimes I read it to my family to help start their day on a positive note. If my day takes a turn for the worse, I take the booklet out of my purse and reread the lesson of the day. I also spend sometime in prayer about all that I have to be grateful for, staying mindful to gratitude helps me see the good surrounding me.

 

I have never been an athlete, so running or bicycling has never felt natural for me. I can enjoy a bicycle ride on the back of our tandem as long as we are on a quiet, somewhat flat road, with the wind at our backs, and a shining sun. Clearly there are too many conditions for me to enjoy the act of bicycling often or alone. But if you put me in the woods, most any day, I will enjoy a walk and or hike. I love trees large and small. Sharing space with squirrels, chipmunks, eagles, owls, grey and blue jays, deer, woodpeckers, and all the other critters that live in the woods help my heart smile. Lucky, I live close to a large park that is home to all of the above critters along with some sea life that enjoys peeping up near our coast line. Just the other day, I got to see some porpoises enjoying the waters edge next to my woods. As I walk through nature I can feel the rough edges smooth out, I take note of my gratitude, and I get to note all the good that lays before me.

I feel healthier and more balanced when I am able to practice all of these things on a daily bases, but if time is tight any two will do.

What are your daily practices? Do you feel more balanced when doing something for yourself on a daily bases? How do you find gratitude?


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



8/11/2015

 6 Top Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus

Don’t let a toenail infection get the best of you; try these easy and effective home remedies for toenail fungus that will help you get your nails back to normal.

An infection on your toenails can be bothersome and embarrassing. Unfortunately, conventional treatment, which consists of various liquids, lacquers, or other topical or oral medicines often take a long time to work, aren’t effective, and cost a pretty penny. In fact, it seems that even the most effective antifungal medicines have a cure rate of only around 30%.[1,2] But that is no reason to get discouraged; these home remedies for toenail fungus work well, are cost-effective, and use all natural ingredients.

What is toenail fungus?

Nail infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungi, including yeasts and molds. It usually begins with something small, like a white or yellow spot under the nail. Gradually, this spreads deeper into the nail, causing discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nail. It may become painful as the infection worsens. The medical names for toenail fungus include onychomycosis and tinea unguium.

6 Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus

In order to effectively treat a toenail infection, you will need to use antifungal agents. But these don’t have to be prescription or made out of potentially harmful chemicals; a variety of herbs, oils, and other natural substances have antifungal properties of their own.

Baking soda. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda actually has significant antifungal effects. Laboratory studies show that baking soda is effective against many fungal species that are commonly involved in toenail fungus – in fact it inhibited the growth of 80% of fungal isolates tested in one study.[3] Try making a paste out of water and baking soda and spreading it on your nails. Alternatively, add some baking soda to a bucket of water and do a daily foot soak.

Tea tree oil is a very useful essential oil. It can be used to treat conditions ranging from dandruff to athlete’s foot, including toenail fungus. This essential oil has significant antifungal effects, along with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Nanocapsules of tea tree oil suppress the growth of T. rubrum, one of the more common fungi causing toenail infections.[4] One study found that 100% tea tree oil applied twice-daily for six months was as effective as clotrimazole, an antifungal medication. After six months, 60% of the people in the tea tree oil group experienced partial or full resolution of symptoms.[5] Rub tea tree essential oil directly on the affected area twice daily until symptoms subside.

Ozonized sunflower oil. By reacting ozone (O3) with sunflower oil, you can produce ozonized sunflower oil, which contains compounds with significant medicinal effects. In one study using a product called Oleozon, participants experienced some remarkable improvements with topical application of the ozonized sunflower oil twice per day; 90.5% were cured of their toenail fungus completely. In the control group using ketoconazole (an over the counter medicated cream), only 13.5% were cured. A year later, the Oleozon group had only a 2.8% relapse rate, while 44.4% of the control group had relapsed.[6] Rub a small amount of this oil onto your toes twice daily to treat toenail fungus.

Olive leaf extract. Olive leaves contain many beneficial compounds, including phenolic compounds. Extract from the leaves of olive plants have been shown to have significant antibacterial and antifungal effects, making it a useful tool for fighting toenail fungus.[7,8] Look for the liquid form, and use a small amount to cover your infected toenails multiple times per day.

Coconut oil. Many people use coconut oil to treat toenail fungus. This oil has health-promoting effects ranging form protecting your heart to preventing memory loss. Additionally, coconut oil is a powerful antifungal agent.[9] To help treat your toenail fungus, melt a small amount of coconut oil on your fingertips (it is solid at room temperature) and apply directly to your toes.

Snakeroot extract. The plant Ageratina pichinchensis, commonly known as snakeroot, is highly effective at fighting toenail fungus. In a study on 96 people, a snakeroot formulation was effective in 71.1% of the cases.[10] Look for snakeroot extract itself, or natural toenail fungus formulations that use Ageratina in the ingredients list.

It is also recommended to keep your toenails trimmed and thin if possible. This may relieve some pain by reducing pressure, and it will allow the topical products to penetrate into the nail itself when you apply them. Scraping the top of your nail may also help your remedies to work better, as they will be able to get deeper into the layers of your toenails. Start by doing a daily foot soak with baking soda, then experiment with various essential oils and extracts until you find the one that works best for you. Try combining coconut oil with tea tree oil, for example, to get a two-in-one treatment.

Share your experience

Have you ever had toenail fungus? How did you treat it? What natural strategies worked for you, and which didn’t? Share your experience in the comments section below.

References

[1] Mycoses. 2013 May;56(3):289-96.

[2] Dermatol Clin. 2015 Apr;33(2):175-83.

[3] Mycopathologia. 2013 Feb;175(1-2):153-8.

[4] Mycopathologia. 2013 Apr;175(3-4):281-6.

[5] J Fam Pract. 1994 Jun;38(6):601-5.

[6] Mycoses. 2011 Sep;54(5):e272-7.

[7] Molecules. 2007 May 26;12(5):1153-62.

[8] Pak J Pharm Sci. 2013 Mar;26(2):251-4.

[9] Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Mar;4(3):241-7.

[10] Planta Med. 2008 Oct;74(12):1430-5.

Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.


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



8/10/2015

Hopelessly Lost 2 

I think that I have a good sense of direction, until I find myself a stranger in a new land. When going into Canada, which I do from time to time for work, I don't always take the same boarder crossing or route. I’ll also admit to not taking time to look over any maps to get a sense for the lay of the land. On my most recent business trip to Canada, I carefully printed directions I found online so that I might find my hotel more easily. Best laid plans, one wrong turn and I was on a freeway hopelessly heading the wrong direction. An hour later I found my way back to my destination.

Because I was born in Seattle and have lived there most if my life, I am able to easily reach destinations using a diversity of routes. As the city grows and roads change, I have to reorient on the fly, but in general I know the lay out well enough to shift gears and find my way.

I remember as a kid, before my family took a road trip, we would look over maps in advance. The overview helped to give me a sense of where things were as we headed off for our adventures. As I got older I would still look at maps prior to, and during adventures, to see if there was a grid or some organization of the place that I could make sense of. I can normally get where I need to go by coupling the map method with itemized directions. I’m at my best navigating ability when that itemized list includes landmarks.

The problem is I don't own many maps any more, and the ones that I do own are out of date. I don't have enough information to keep me from getting lost each time I cross the boarder. This time the kind Canadians that I met as I was trying to find my way said "she had faith in me finding her way" the problem was I didn't have faith in finding my own way. Another person I know texted to me, that changing my view to one of being on an entertaining adventure might be a great idea. I am definitely more ready to assume this perspective when there are no business meeting time constraints. Thankfully I did get to my appointments on time and had some unplanned adventures.

My lessons learned from this trip are: to buy a current map of my next destination to learn the lay of the land, get step by step directions, and ask people for landmarks to enable me to find my way more easily. Here's to my next adventure!

How do you orient yourself when driving in unfamiliar territory? Are you are directionally challenged and if so are there tricks you can do to orient yourself? Are good old fashion maps relevant for helping us in unfamiliar places?


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



8/3/2015

 

I have seen it said that happy couples live longer and I believe that's true. I also think good friends add to our lives in emotional richness, depth, and fullness.

In the past three days Mark and I have broken bread with: a couple that we travel and spend time in the mountains with, some childhood friends of Mark, and a man that I have known for forty plus years. It has been a weekend of enjoying my passion for feeding my loved ones and enjoying the fellowship of friends and family.

When I overbooked this weekend by planning to feed one couple dinner on Friday night, a group of friends breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday to two more folks, I knew I would be spending some ample time in the kitchen. Mark would be doing many loads of dishes, with the help of our friends. What I didn't know is I would be receiving the gift of reflecting on how rich our lives are with the friends that we are surrounded by. If I had the opportunity to string together more time with our loved ones I would have many more meals to prepare in the coming days. If only if had the time, energy, and resources. Someday I trust I will.

The thing I love about breaking bread with my family and friends our sharing in nourishing our bodies. I am grateful for an abundance of fresh organic fruits and veggies, specialty foods like cured meats, fresh seafood, and home grown meat that are humanly raised and delightfully flavorful. To enjoy friendships with the same intricacies and delight as I do food is altogether another gift. To be able to talk about politics, and other powerful topics, in a trusting space with folks who don't always share my views is exceptionally educational. As the presidential election season heats up, I imagine I’ll have many more of these conversations in my future.

Mark and my friendships are diverse in time known, perspectives on life, and places we have been and plan to go. The thing that I believe ties these friendships together is respect for one another, the sharing of time and resources, and history with each other as well as our willingness to help each other in our hours of concern or need. I am thankful for the great diversity we comprise in community.

What are the qualities you look for in your friendships? Can you make more time to break bread with your loved ones? What topics will you be sharing and enriching each others lives with as you break bread?


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



8/3/2015

One of my favorite foods is paella. Each summer, my family goes to our favorite restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking Pike Place Market in Seattle, and we order up a round of paella for everyone. We spend the afternoon taking in the summertime colors of the market and feasting on the delicious, beautiful dish. Part of what makes paella such a unique food is the addition of saffron. This special spice imparts the distinct yellow coloration and earthy flavor in foods like paella, risotto, curries, and more. But did you know that saffron benefits extend beyond culinary uses, and that saffron can actually benefit your health as well?

What is saffron?

Saffron is a spice used in cooking. Resembling thin, red threads, it is harvested from a plant called Crocus sativus, of the iris family. If you have ever bought saffron for a recipe, you know that it isn’t cheap; this is because it is harvested by hand, and takes about 150 flowers to produce just one gram of saffron threads. 

6 saffron benefits  

Saffron contains more than 150 compounds, many of which have medicinal properties like carotenoids (beta-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and more).[1] Laboratory studies have shown that saffron acts as an antioxidant, fights inflammation, modulates the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, protects nerve cells, benefits artery health, and more.[1-3] Saffron benefits for your body range from treating depression to moisturizing your skin:

1. Treat depression. A systematic review of clinical studies showed that research supports the use of saffron for treating mild to moderate depression. Studies have found that saffron extract had similar efficacy to antidepressant medication and outperformed placebo. Most studies have found a dosage of 15 mg twice a day to be effective.[1] To read more about how saffron treats depression, as well as to learn about another effective spice for depression relief, go here.

2. Protect against toxins. There have been several reports of saffron extract protecting many tissues in the body from both natural and chemical toxins, including the brain, heart, liver, kidney, and lung. Clinical trials are still needed to verify these results, but it is likely that saffron has many protective effects in the body.[4]

3. Appetite control. Some research suggests that saffron may be used in weight management because it can help to lower appetite.[5] One study found that mildly overweight women who consumed saffron extract (176.5 mg per day) snacked less frequently than those consuming placebo. The authors believe that saffron may help with weight loss by creating a satiating effect.[6]

4. Improve memory. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may benefit from taking saffron as well. Clinical studies have found saffron and its active component crocin to have positive effects on cognition in Alzheimer’s patients, similar to medications like donepezil. Therefore, it could be a safe drug alternative to try.[7]

5. Help PMS. Research is still in its infancy, but researchers have found that 30 mg of saffron per day can help to reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.[5] Read more about saffron and two other natural remedies for PMS here.

6. Soothe skin. Saffron has long been used to treat a variety of skin conditions. It is used in anti-itch creams, may protect against sun damage, and is known to have moisturizing effects on the skin as well.[5,8]

Some of the other potential saffron benefits for your health include treating infertility, erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and more.[4,5]

Recommended use

Most studies have used a dose of 30 mg saffron daily. It is considered safe to use at those low doses, and it usually presents little side effects.[1] If you wish to use saffron as a dietary supplement, be prepared to pay a good price for it. Saffron is considered the most expensive spice in the world, so supplements won’t be cheap if they are of good quality. 

You can also try using saffron in cooking from time to time in dishes like risotto, seafood stews, or paella. Experimenting with this unique and special spice will not only please your taste buds, but it may also improve your health, as well. 

[1] Hum Psychopharmacol. 2014 Nov;29(6):517-27. 

[2] Antiinflamm Antiallergy Agents Med Chem. 2012;11(1):37-51. 

[3] J Tehran Heart Cent. 2011 Spring;6(2):59-61. 

[4] Drug Res (Stuttg). 2015 Jun;65(6):287-95. 

[5] Daru. 2015 May 1;23:31. 

[6] Nutr Res. 2010 May;30(5):305-13. 

[7] Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:926284. 

[8] Pak J Pharm Sci. 2014 Nov;27(6):1881-4. 

Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.


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



7/28/2015

Red Clover Blossom Harvest 

Want to make your own herbal medicines, but not sure where to start? Tinctures (alcohol extracts) and infusions (concentrated teas) are my favorite ways to take herbs internally– after eating them as food, of course! Both methods involve soaking plant material, whether leaves, flowers, roots or seeds, in a liquid.

Which liquid is preferable depends on what you’re trying to get out of the plant — that is, the type of constituents you’re going for. Tinctures are often used for acute or specific concerns, while water-based infusions, when made part of your regular diet, just like “an apple a day,” gently strengthen the body.

Remember that knowing how to make herbal medicines doesn’t mean you know how or when to use them. If you do have possibly serious concerns, don’t hesitate to consult a health professional.

All About Making Tinctures

Alcohol-based extracts are quick and convenient: they are appropriate for acute ailments and first-aid situations. And they have a shelf life of three to five years or more.

Plant constituents that dissolve easily into alcohol include (as their name suggests) alkaloids. Plants with important alkaloids also frequently have other constituents that dissolve more easily into water. For this reason, I tincture plants in equal parts alcohol and water. That is what is meant by “100 proof” alcohol: 50 percent alcohol and 50 percent water.

To make your own tincture, chop fresh plant material, pack into a glass jar, and cover with 100 proof alcohol. Ideally you want a 1:2 ratio of plant weight to alcohol volume. If you have 6 ounces of dandelion roots, for example, use 12 fluid ounces of alcohol. If you are using leaves, packing the container full and tightly is close enough.

Keep in mind that a tincture will only be as potent as the plant material in it. The less fresh the material, the less potent your medicine. If the plants are dried, they are further removed from the source and don’t tincture as well. So try to complete the whole process, from field to jar, the same day.

Label your jar with the contents and the date and let it sit for six weeks. Then strain out the plant material and viola, you have enough homemade tincture to fill and refill a 1- or 2-ounce dropper bottle many times over.

Tincture dosages are usually expressed in drops, and a dropper (when squeezed and released once) contains about 25 drops. When taking tinctures, it’s best to dilute in water or juice.

If you are concerned about the alcohol content, you can just use warm tea instead, as much of the alcohol will evaporate out with the steam. Keep in mind, though, that each dropperful has no more alcohol than a ripe banana.

Tinctures Brewing 

All About Herbal Infusions

Infusions, or concentrated teas, extract nutrients like minerals, vitamins, and chlorophyll. Infusions taken daily are nourishing and tonifying.

Infusions are best made with dried herbs because they can only be left for a few hours, not for weeks, so there’s not as much time for the liquid to penetrate the tough cell walls in the plant. During the drying process the cell walls of the plants are weakened. Then the contents of those cells, when soaked in water, easily come out into solution. That’s why fresh leaves will barely color a tea while dried ones will often turn it a dark, rich hue.

This is not to say that fresh plants should not simply be eaten. Let’s say you have fresh Nettles outside your doorstep . . . rather than brewing the leaves like an infusion, cook them — and eat both greens and broth!

To make an infusion, place one ounce (about a cup) of dried plant material into a quart mason jar. Fill with boiling water, cap, and let steep for four to six hours or overnight. You can add a pinch of mint for flavor. Then strain out the plant material and enjoy one or more cups daily. With most tonic herbs, the dosage need not be precise. These are foods: help yourself!

Infusions keep for several days in the refrigerator. You can drink them warm or cold, sweetened or plain. The important thing is to make them a part of your daily diet, and for that, they need to be something you enjoy.

Try some out yourself. My favorite infusion herb is Nettles, which is nourishing for the adrenals and kidneys, as well as the hormonal and immune systems. My favorite tinctures to have on hand in the family medicine chest include the renowned immune tonic, Echinacea, as well as St Johnswort and Motherwort.

Making Nettle Infusion 

It feels good to make your own herbal medicine and to make herbal food your medicine!


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












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