Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

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Alex and I understand all too well how challenging life changes can be and this is why we've decided to post this insightful blog for you. I believe that there are life changes and challenges that can cause us to fall off track at times in our lives but it is how we pick up and move forward that matters most.

We want to encourage you with some practical and simple ways you can move forward in a positive and healthy direction. Before we begin however, I want to share a snippet of our story with you. I believe it will encourage you to continue to pursue health despite the challenges.

Alex and I have been in the Health & Wellness field combined for over 25 years and together for 10. It is amazing the growth we have both experienced and all that we have learned (primarily from our clients). We reached what we thought was the "pinnacle" of physical health and established ourselves as Experts in our little community. We were "all" about health.

In 2012 however, our entire world as we knew it changed. We faced challenges together as a couple that we had not yet faced and it left us emotionally "weak" and honestly, feeling pretty beat up. I found myself engaging in emotional eating as well. The stress of our situation left me tired and I slowly started gaining a little bit of weight. Nothing our clients really noticed, but I noticed! I knew I was not at my best and that our situation was getting the best of me.

After much reflection and running a very successful business in Florida for almost a decade, Alex and I made the decision to start fresh. We knew that doors were not opening and in fact, all doors seemed to be slamming shut in our faces. It was tiring, frustrating and I at times felt like I was losing that sense of "health" that I so boldly promoted for many years.

We packed up and moved our family to Atlanta, Ga. We literally made the decision to start all over again. We came to a new place, new community and started everything from the ground up (including our business). While this was a humbling experience that taught us both SO much, it was also challenging on every level. It forced us to reevaluate what mattered most and despite the tough times, to continue to press forward boldly (and positively!) as well as to pursue health.

Personally, it forced me to look at myself and realize that I needed to take my own words and example to get myself back on track. It wasn't like we moved here and everything was great overnight. It was a process to rebuild, rebrand, refocus and it was alot of work but every bit of it was worth it.

For the first time in almost a decade, I had to look in the mirror and be brutally honest with myself. I knew that I was not practicing on every level what I was preaching so I diligently refocused myself to getting back to where I knew I could be! I gained close to 20 pounds over what I was used to and did not like this at all. While I knew it was the stress, I also knew I had to do something.

For me, it was a process of setting goals and staying diligent and focused in my Faith. We all have different things that can reignite our fire but these are just a few that worked for me. I am going to share our gained knowledge from this experience that Alex and I endured with ways to transition through life's changes.

Feel free to modify and adjust accordingly to your life, just let the end result be a successful, happy and healthy you! You are worth it and your health is certainly worth it.

Ways to transition through life's changes:

1. Be honest with yourself and your situation - I start with this because it is the foundation. If you are not honestly looking at where you are, you won't be able to focus on where you want to be. For me, it was facing the fact that we needed to rebuild and move on. Knowing when to fight fires and when to walk away is a key component to life.

2. Faith - this looks different to everyone. For me, my faith is what got me through. It helped me keep my sanity and focus on the plan and path ahead. It gave me the strength I needed to press forward. This may look different to you and that is OK. The key is to hold onto faith and let go of the fears in your life.

3. Be Bold - it takes a certain boldness in your life to know that it is OK to move forward and transition through life changes. If you feel weak (I know I did!) just dig deep and find some alone time to reflect on where you are as well as the desires for your life. Make this your motivation!

4. Set goals - this is huge! No matter where your situation takes you, you can always set goals! Alex and I built a mini empire yet found ourselves starting all over. This was ok! Together, we started to set fresh new (reasonable) goals that motivated us through each stage of our journey. I also set a personal goal to compete again in a Figure competition. I ended up taking 9 short weeks of my life and dropped 22 pounds to step on stage in the best shape of my life. This got me back to where I knew I could be and it felt amazing to reach that goal. It brought back that spark and fire that I knew I had within me.

5. Be humble and know that your life and health is a journey. What I went through taught me that no matter how much I knew, how much experience I had or how much I had built in my life, that it all could go. There will always come a time where you have to sit and face the situation and take your own advice.

Above all, know this, if you do not take risks and if you aren't willing to fight for your life and your health, than what else gives? You are valuable and worth it and sometimes life will knock you on your tush! Keep pressing forward anyhow. Good will eventually come of it.

Today, only 17 short months after moving to Atlanta, Alex and I are thriving again. I am once again in the best shape of my life. We have an amazing new flourishing business and amazing clients. We have a very strong church family and we are stronger in our marriage than ever before. We have a rich new Community and we have had local articles published, filmed several healthy eating segments here in Atlanta as well as we teach classes in our Community and Church. We are growing day by day and I believe that this growth would not have taken place without the storm.

Be bold, be you and do not be afraid of life changes. Good can always come from the struggles if you allow it. This includes with your health as well! Here is to a happy and healthy you. We look forward to posting again soon!

Until next time,


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.


Lawn Mower

At a garage sale recently, my daughter and I bought some records to add to our dusty collection. While we compiled the new purchases with our old records, my family had a heck of a time controlling their laughter as we counted how many Barbra Streisand albums I own. I don’t care. I have listened to Barbra Streisand for at least 45 years. I have always enjoyed her voice, her sentiments are clear, and her songs inspiring.

I can't remember exactly when I first heard Barbra Streisand’s “Carefully Taught/Children Will Listen”— a mash-up of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s “Carefully Taught” from South Pacific and Stephen Sondheim’s “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods — but I know it was when our daughter was a little girl. I’d totally forgotten about “Children Will Listen” until recently when I was listening to Barbra's album Barbra Streisand Live in Concert 2006 while push-mowing our lawn — hopefully for the last time before winter sets in. Slight digression: I enjoy the sound of the blades swishing in and out of the music I’m listening to. And the physical energy and connection with the earth while push-mowing is lovely. In its outdated simplicity, such mowing reminds me that progress (gas mower) isn't always so progressive.

Anyhow, I put in my earbuds and started to listen to Barbra Streisand Live in Concert 2006. On the second track of the album, in “Jason’s Theme,” she speaks about the importance of actively parenting children over her son Jason’s instrumentals. The music is gentle and her sentiments about parenting are rich and full of wisdom. Then seamlessly, the track turns over to “Carefully Taught/Children Will Listen.” The words in this song are exactly what I look for in my music — wise, encouraging, and uplifting.

The points of the song that stand out for me are that children are sponges as well as lie detectors; they will watch your actions while they listen to your words. If there is a disconnect between thought and action, they will believe action over thought, and their memories of us long after we are gone will be the combination of both thought and action.

Here are my favorite lines: “What do you leave to your child when you're dead? Only whatever you put in its head.” And "Guide them but step away. Children will glisten." (Not a typo.)

When I am gone, I know my daughter will continue to glisten in her own light, and that light will be reflected in the memories of our intentional conversations, our laughter, and the love we shared. I also trust that she will remember me in the strength and integrity of consistent thoughts and character.

The song is most definitely worth a listen — I trust you might find a line or two that will resonate with you.

What song and music will inspire you and the children around you? What will you put in your children’s head by way of your example? And how will you guide them and step away?


Finale: Children Will Listen - Into The Woods
Modeling Behavior For Children Has Long Lasting Effects
Role Model the Behavior You Want to See From Your Kids
Getting Along Together: Developing Social Competence in Young Children

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.


Author and herbalist Rosemary Gladstar has been described as the “Godmother of modern American herbalism.” Rosemary’s life story is fascinating, and her accomplishments are an encouraging example of the type of life one can lead if you listen to your heart and pursue your passions. Continue reading to see how Rosemary has turned a lifelong passion for herbs into a fulfilling career, or, click on the video below to watch an interview with Rosemary Gladstar, during which she discusses her current projects and future goals with MOTHER EARTH NEWS editor, Hannah Kincaid.

A Budding Herbalist

Traditional Medicinals

Rosemary grew up on a dairy farm in Sonoma County, California. One of five children, she was surrounded by a close family and immersed in life outdoors.  Rosemary’s grandmother, who survived the Armenian genocide, was an inspiration to Rosemary and introduced her to gardening as a form of solace, in addition to sustenance.   Rosemary first learned about plants from her grandmother, and the tiny Armenian woman showed her “this weed for the compost, this weed for the kitchen.”  Rosemary went on to study herbs with a number of mentors and teachers, and she started the small herb shop Rosemary’s Garden (which is still operating in Sebastopol, California).

After years of blending teas and working with herbs at her shop, Rosemary’s bootstrap business evolved into Traditional Medicinals tea company. You may recognize the Traditional Medicinals label on such popular organic tea blends as “Gypsy Cold Care” and “EveryDay Detox,” which are still available in health food stores across the nation.  In 1978 Rosemary founded the well-regarded California School of Herbal Studies and in the 1990s Rosemary moved to the mountains of Vermont where she founded Sage Mountain Retreat Center and Botanical Sanctuary, a gorgeous 500-acre learning center and wilderness retreat.

In the mid 90s, Rosemary, along with a team of her peers and friends, founded the International Herb Symposium and the New England Women’s Herbal Conference, both of which provide valuable learning opportunities for beginning and advanced herbalists. The International Herb Symposium is one of the largest herb conferences held in the United States, and it’s the only worldwide herbal conference with an explicit international focus.

Founding of United Plant Savers

United Plant Savers

As the use of plant medicine in the United States increased during the 80s and 90s, so did the consumption of many native medicinal plants. Concerned herbalists believed that an organization was needed to monitor the health and abundance of medicinal plants native to the United States and Canada, so Rosemary became the Founding President of the non-profit United Plant Savers. According to the United Plant Savers (UpS) website, their mission involves research, education and conservation of native medicinal plants and their habitats. 

In July of 2014, United Plant Savers announced the launch of their new ‘At-Risk’ Assessment Tool, which has allowed them to create an up-to-date list of threatened medicinal plants. The tool rates plant species based off their abundance and range, demand and more. To learn more about the new ‘At Risk’ tool, download the article Ranking Tool Created for Medicinal Plants at Risk of Being Overharvested in the Wild from the Journal of Ethnobiology.

As a result of the ‘At-Risk’ Assessment Tool and years of dedication from the United Plant Savers and the University of Kansas staff, a list of “At-Risk” and “To-Watch” native medicinal plants is available at the United Plant Savers website. A few native plants included on the “At-Risk” list are American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.), Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) and Osha (Ligusticum porter, L. spp.).

In addition to providing a list of “At-Risk” and “To-Watch” plants, United Plant Savers encourages their members and supporters to transform their backyards and gardens into native plant sanctuaries. These home sanctuaries provide much-needed growing space for native plants and a safe space for the owner to connect with the land near their home.  As a result, hundreds of botanical sanctuaries have popped up across the nation, including the 300-acre Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio. For resources about how to transform your yard or garden into a botanical sanctuary, go to the United Plant Savers' Botanical Sanctuary Network webpage.

Videos, Books and More

Ogden publications has been pleased to welcome Rosemary Gladstar to a number of MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS across the country. At our FAIRS, Rosemary presents workshops on a variety of topics, including Herbs for Anxiety and Depression. At our FAIR in Topeka, Kan., Rosemary sat down with our natural health editor, Hannah Kincaid, for a 30-minute interview about the future of herbalism, the goal of United Plant Savers and more. Click on the embedded video above to watch the interview, or visit the Mother Earth News YouTube page.

Interview and Presentation

Mother Earth News Interview with Rosemary Gladstar

Herbs for Depression and Anxiety (presentation)

Articles by Rosemary Gladstar

How to Make Herbal Teas, Herbal Infusions and Herbal Tinctures

Herbal Cold Remedies Using Thyme

How to Make Medicinal Syrup

Herbal Skin Care Basics: Tools, Ingredients, Recipes

Find Natural Beauty With Herbs

Homemade Face Cream

Books by Rosemary Gladstar

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health

Herbal Healing for Women

Herbs for Natural Beauty

Much of the information from this post, plus more, is included in Jesse Wolf Hardin’s 30-page interview with Rosemary Gladstar, published in his fantastic book of interviews, 21st Century Herbalists.

Hannah Kincaid is an Assistant Editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. She is an enthusiastic student of herbal medicine, organic gardening and yoga. You can find Hannah on .


ListWhile listening to the news recently about the precautions and checklists that hospitals are using to deal with Ebola, I am reminded of the benefits of visual lists, of how the process of making a list minimizes the chances of making mistakes. Checklists aren’t necessarily medicine specific or even new to me. When I was in my early twenties, I learned to fly a Cessna 150, where staying in flight and making sure that the airplane was flight-worthy relied on a checklist. During the holiday season, I make less crucial lists to buy groceries and gifts, and maybe even to map out my new year. 

After spending the past several weeks devoting much thought, consideration, and conversation to the subjects of consumption, hoarding, greed, and economic oppression, I decided to make a list for myself. I have just finished a limited-consumption, sharing, and greater good list for my wallet as a visual reminder when making future financial decisions and purchases. 

Here is my checklist:

1. Shop and support stores that share similar values to mine: awareness of environmental impacts, getting back to basics with healthy non-toxic chemical pesticide, eating locally grown and organic foods, staying away from sweat shop products, and making sure the company I am supporting is in favor of human rights, including paying their employees a livable wage.

2. When buying, always ask this first: Do I need this? Does the person I am buying this for need it?

3. Does the item I am buying economically oppress others?

4. Am I living with as light a material impact on the planet as possible? 

5. Am I sharing my wealth, time, and energy with others?

6. Are my retirement investments aligned with my values? 

7. Buy local, handmade art, or experiential as gifts whenever possible.

I trust your list will be different and I hearty encourage you to make one. What’s on your list?


Food Chains
Seth's Blog: Wall Street gets what it wants
MSNBC: Threat of Ebola's spread calls for careful, thorough response
Aviation Checklist
Aircraft Checklist History

The New Yorker: The Checklist
The Checklist Manifesto

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.


Hoarding picIs the hoarding of money different from or any healthier than the hoarding of stuff?

The “reality” TV show Hoarders offers a glimpse into the world of hoarding. Is the show’s point to help people let go of clocks, salt shakers, and airplane models? Mock people’s inability to let go? Or plain, morbid curiosity about what drives their hoarding? I’d love to see a segment on the show about hoarding money. Think about it. We label people who hoard newspapers, bottles, and, well, cats, as crazy. But when the wealthy in our communities hoard money, we idealize and revere both the hoarding and the hoarder.

I’ll tell you that I’m not good at purging stuff myself. I have many boxes in my basement filled with my childhood memories, holiday supplies, block party “necessities,” large celebration basics, and even a salvaged kitchen. My biological dad was a salvager long before the green movement started, so I come by my habits honestly. If there’s a project that can be saved from the land fill, I’m your gal. I do my best to keep my hoarding to the confines of the stuff in our basement. That said, I do not believe in hoarding money.

I think we can all agree that no one will be able to take any of their worldly goods or money with them when they die. And one day we will all die.

I believe everyone should be able to meet their basic needs for their survival: food/water, clothing, shelter, and healthcare. In many countries, the idea of how much is needed to live a satisfying life looks very different from ours. They need much less. So maybe we should take a look at why we feel we need so much more?

I would say the roots of our greed and need to hoard stem from scarcity. The definition of greed is: intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food. I’d add “scarcity” to that definition. We need to understand why greed and hoarding exist, on the individual, community, state, and national level. By better understanding the reasons behind greed and hoarding, we might be able to help ourselves and others find ways to look for something more fulfilling to enhance their life rather than the selfish desire to have more than one person will ever need or use. When people’s basic needs are met, I believe they are freed up to live outside of scarcity.

How do you define greed? Are greed and hoarding related? What ways do you think we can take care of our people’s basic needs? If you could choose how we would change the hoarding of money by the top one percent, what would it look like? Related articles you might enjoy:

Seven Deadly Money Disorders: Hoarding
Nick Hanauer: Beware, Fellow Plutocrats, the Pitchforks Are Coming
The Rise of the American Oligarchy
CarlyHosfordIsReal Blog
Anonymous Art of Revolution

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.


The growing season at Raven Crest Farm is coming to an end. It has been an amazing year with new green friends in our garden and bountiful herb harvests. We started to make flower essences this summer, a beautiful way to connect to the vibrational essence of plants and the world of green healing in a deeper way. Now fall is here and winter waiting on our door steps, the garden is dying back, the plants have shed their last seeds and are being tucked in for their winter beauty sleep. As our own energy starts to move inward as well and our bodies are getting ready for the colder season, it is the perfect time to strengthen and support the respiratory system.

In this part of our “Plant a Medicinal Herb Garden” series we will look at easy to grow herbs that will support and heal the the lungs, throat and sinuses, while adding flavor to your kitchen and beautifying your garden.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

Hyssop is a sun loving, perennial, low growing shrub with beautiful dark blue blossoms that attract many bees and pollinators. Hummingbirds love it too. Hyssop is drought resistant and does well in poor and sandy soil. It is an herb in the mint family and has a delicious aromatic and minty scent. Hyssop's warming energetics make it a fine remedy for a stubborn cough and shivers. The responsible medicinal constituents are soothing to the lungs and help to loosen and expel mucus when taken internally (see recipes below). In addition, hyssop is a good carminative, meaning it supports healthy digestion and prevents formation of gas.


How to Make a Tincture

Here is the link again to Rosemary Gladstar's video on How to Make a Tincture in case you have never made one before. It is an easy process to make your own green medicine from freshly picked herbs from your garden. You will pay a fraction of the cost compared to a store bought tincture and your medicine will be just as effective if not more potent with the help of your intentions and the love you gave to the plant in your garden. When you grow your own medicine, you ultimately give that attention and love to yourself.

How to Make an Oxymel

An oxymel is another very good tasting way to extract the medicinal constituents from hyssop. Instead of using alcohol as a solvent, organic apple cider vinegar and raw honey are combined. You can take a teaspoon straight up as needed during a cough or cold or add it to salad dressings as a delicious culinary treat with many health benefits.

To harvest hyssop, cut the flowering tops in early summer when the flowers are just about to open. At this time, the plant holds the highest concentrations of medicinal essential oils. The plant will grow new flowers and you can harvest a second time later in the year.

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Just like hyssop, anise hyssop is also a hardy perennial herb in the mint family. It grows up to 4 feet tall with heart-shaped leaves that have a pretty purple rim. The stalks of light purple flowers are a favorite of bees and bumblebees. It is self-seeding and will happily spread around your garden. Leaves and flowers have a subtle licorice aroma, hence its other name – licorice mint. 


How to Use Anise Hyssop

Anise hyssop makes an aromatic tea from the fresh or dried leaves and flowers that eases digestion. The fresh leaves are also a lovely addition to salads. Native Americans used anise hyssop medicinally for coughs and fevers, and so do I.

A tea or tincture blend of anise hyssop and hyssop combined soothes and helps to heal irritated lung tissue during a respiratory infection. We made an oxymel from hyssop and anise hyssop combined and it is my favorite in salad dressings. 

Anise hyssop can be harvested several times per year. Harvest the flowering tops when the plant is starting to bloom. Cutting back the flowers before they can mature into seeds invigorates the plant to grow new flowers – which can be cut again a few weeks later. That way you can enjoy fresh anise hyssop tea all summer long. Place a good hand full of fresh leaves and flowers in a teapot or large ball jar. Poor boiling water over the herb and close the lid to make sure the precious essential oils do not escape. Let steep for 5-10 minutes, strain, sweeten with a touch of honey to taste - and enjoy!

How to Dry Herbs

To dry medicinal or culinary herbs, harvest the flowering tops, bind three or four stalks tightly together with a rubber band and hang upside down to dry in a well ventilated room that is protected from night moisture. After a few days or a week, roll a leave between your fingers next to your ear. When the plant is fully dried, it will “crackle and pop”. If the leaves are still floppy, dry them a little longer. Pull the leaves from the stems (this process is called garbling the herb) and store in a ziplock mylar bag or tightly closed ball jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

Mullein (Verbascum thapus)

Mullein is a tall standing bi-annual plant that forms a rosette of velvet soft, large leaves in the first year and a tall stalk covered with small yellow blossoms in the second year. The plant self-seeds before it dies and will spread around your garden so you never have to plant it again. In ancient times, mullein was considered a protector against evil spirits as it stands tall and straight like a guardian when in bloom.


Mullein Medicine

All parts of mullein can be used medicinally, but the leaves is what we are after for their soothing and coating effects on the mucus membranes, such as the lung tissue and sinuses. This medicinal action is called demulcent. Mullein and osha root tincture combine very well to treat stubborn sinus infections.

Mullein flowers can be used to make a healing ear oil for ear infections. It works especially well when combined with garlic oil.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Wild thyme is a sun loving perennial ground cover, temperate in all zones, that will compete with your lawn, and win (!), when you don't mow it during its self-seeding time. A soft bed of flowering thyme will spread through your lawn that will release its lovely scent with every step you take on it. It also makes a nice border in ornamental flower beds.


Thyme has strong anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties. Both the tincture and tea are useful during respiratory infections. A steam bath with dried or fresh thyme works wonders for congestion and sinus infections.

Thyme Steam Inhalation for Sinus Infections

Pour boiling water into a bowl and add a tablespoon of fresh or dried thyme leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon. Place your head about 12 inches above the bowl and cover your head and the bowl with a towel. Close your eyes and inhale the aromatic thyme steam through your nose for 2 to 5 minutes. It will clear up your sinuses and lungs and help to loosen phlegm and mucus, while delivering the anti-bacterial essential oils straight to the places where they are needed. If you feel the steam is too hot, raise the towel a little so cool air can come in.

Dabbing some thyme tincture on your gums several times a day is a great remedy for gum disease.

In addition, thyme tincture can be used as an all natural disinfectant in your home. Simply mix a tablespoon of tincture with some vinegar and water, spray on your counter tops and wipe off.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Garden sage is a perennial shrubby herb that can grow up to 3 feet tall. The velvety leaves are not only a wonderful culinary herb but also have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and the fresh purple and pink blossoms are delicious in a raw sage blossom pesto


Medicinal Uses of Sage

Sage is an extremely versatile herb. A tea from sage, thyme, hyssop, anise hyssop and mullein is a great remedy for coughs and colds. Add raw honey for extra healing and anti-bacterial action.

Make a sage honey (yummy!) and take it by the teaspoon for the cold and flu and to soothe a sore throat.

To help heal a sore throat you can also make a strong sage tea, add a dash of salt and use as a gargle. This is also a good remedy for mouth sores.

For fungal skin infections, such as athlete's foot, mix a few drops of tea tree essential oil with sage tincture and rub it onto the affected area.

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Yes, garlic! Plant lots of garlic in the fall and mulch it well with straw. Garlic is one of the strongest anti-bacterial herbs around. It contains over 50 sulfur compounds that have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal action. These compounds are broken down in the lungs, which is the reason for garlic breath. It also means that the medicine is working right where you need it - in your lungs.

Garlic Medicine

Roast a whole garlic bulb in the oven and enjoy two to three garlic cloves spread on a piece of bread or a gluten free rice cracker.

You can also add fresh garlic cloves to a green smoothy or hearty vegetable juice.

Both recipes will work wonders on stubborn lung infections and candida yeast infections.

Welcoming Winter

With these green allies in your garden, you will be well prepared for the coming winter season. Together with the immune building plants discussed in the previous blog, Part 1: Immune-Boosting Herbs, your green medicine cabinet will be fully stocked and you can even share your healing wisdom with friends and family.

Sign up for an herbalism class in your area and dive deeper into the world of healing with medicinal plants. We need more of us.

Green blessings,
Susanna Raeven

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.


PhoneThis post marks the beginning of a three part series on greed, consumption, and economic oppression of the majority by the few.

In the wake of September 11, former President George W. Bush advocated consumer consumption as both a way to strengthen our nation and a prosperity tactic. In 2007, Annie Leonard wrote The Story of Stuff as a critique of hazardous rates of production, consumption, and waste. In 2014, potentially the warmest year on record, we mark our 23rd year of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, and the release of Apple’s sixth iPhone in seven years. Reflecting on these landmarks, I’ve found myself thinking about the sustainability of our spending habits and the social consciousness of our collective character.

I spent part of my childhood in the well-off community of Palo Verdes, California in the home of a prosperous salesman and a mom who got to be a part-time homemaker, I came to know the comfortable dream of the 1960s white middle class society. At 54, I am conditioned into a U.S. culture focused on the individual initiative and unstoppable growth that sustained the rose-colored glasses dream of my generation’s parents’ past. But one small detail interfered with that dream — deregulation, the deregulation of the Bell System, banks, and many other industry giants that has steadily increased since the 1980s, enabling massive greed. The result? The Great Recession. Now only the rich wear the glasses. And so, we meet with greed.

Recently, I was reminded of the detachment and depersonalization of greed through a series of interactions with an activist group picketing at the front of my outdoor clothing co-op in Seattle. Being a curious person, I gave this group of young people a bit of my attention and time. They shared with me their concerns regarding my co-op’s buying practices, and expressed an interest in meeting with the executive team to open dialogue about livable wages and working conditions. After chatting with the student activist group, I offered to help support their cause by doing my best to set up a meeting with the co-op’s CEO.

Being a people-minded and persistent person I assumed setting up a meeting would be a quick and simple task. When it comes to landing appointments with CEOs, business leaders, and government officials, I’m not often stonewalled. One of the many gifts that dyslexia has given me is the tenacity it takes to open doors. This time, after many hours of committed time on the phone with executive personal assistants and the co-op’s public relations professionals, I was still meeting dead ends. I connected these dead ends to greed. The execs didn’t want to discuss their practices. In the end I think a meeting may have happened, but I was not invited to attend, so I am unsure of the outcome.

When I was young, I don’t remember a huge skepticism toward business — any fracture in the feeling that businesses looked out for customers and shareholders without conflicts of interest was concealed by the apathy of a fat and happy middle class. Companies were approachable. CEOs and boards of directors were reachable by phone and assumed responsible.

I look forward to revisiting that customer-focus and approachability in our future. Maybe we’ll see those values displayed again by small and local companies, maybe with the growth of organizations like Kickstarter, a crowd funding platform for creative projects. Or maybe big corporations will find their way back to seeing the importance of customers and business ethics. Who knows? In the meantime, I will continue to look for ways to lower my consumption.

How did we get here? How have the rights and responsibilities of corporate citizens changed in your life time? Can you find someone in your community either younger or older to have a conversation with about this topic? If you could stop supporting one store, industry, or big business person because of greed, who would it be?


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.

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Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.