Natural Health

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12/22/2014

ElderBeach 

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the time I am fortunate enough to spend with loved ones. I find great joy in listening, learning, and reveling in the wealth of wisdom and love that surrounds me. The people that I choose as my elders, mentors and guides never stop enriching my life.

At our dinner table this weekend, one of our family’s elders joined us for an equally nourishing meal and conversation. We all talked about lasting moments and lessons from our childhood and she specifically shared the profound effects of living through war some seventy years ago. Listening to her weave together what took place in her own backyard during WWII gave us only a peak into what she must have felt and seen. The strength and work ethic that kept her family, and arguably the rest of England, looking down and moving forward as a team with a concentrated goal in mind gave me pause. She connected this tenacity of character required from war time to her generations pragmatic approach to life. I am thankful for the opportunity to reflect on a diversity of lessons learned that I can continue to incorporate into my life today.

Our daughter furthered the conversation by asking us all a question that prompted a reflection on our past year: “What is your fondest memory of the year?” Her’s was the second year-end question I have heard this week. The other went something to the effect of: What is your greatest accomplishment this year?” While both focus on an appreciation of the year passed, each question remains distinctly different. What I glean from each is an awareness that approaching our family conversations with loving interest and questions, will guide us into a deeper knowledge of each other and ourselves as we share in the significance of today by tying it to our past and then weaving it all together for our future.

Because we live in an age of social media, which I sometimes refer to as anti-social media, conversation can be awkward or hard to bring folks into. In this season of time spent with loved ones what questions will you be asking each other? Where will you be spending time together? Will you be sharing your intentions of the past, present and future with each other? Do your elders know the impact they have on your life?

I look forward to spending time with family and friends and plan to cherish our togetherness through mutual sharing, learning and growth. 


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12/15/2014

Several weeks back, one of my dear friends, readers, and book editors forwarded me an email with information about a few charities and how they spend people’s hard earned donations. It reminded me of an article a boss sent to me years ago and a conversation my stepfather and I had when I was much younger about his research into the irresponsible spending of the Red Cross and AARP. During the past few weeks, our mailbox has been littered with donation envelopes. Because it is the season of asking and receiving, it seems a good time to do some investigating into where all our December dollars and donations end up.

For many years, our family has attempted to find our way to the most useful holiday gifting. My husband and I have decided on years of no gifting, regardless of the fact that I have often changed my mind before the 25th, and failed to notify him of that change. Other years, we’ve made big proclamations that all gifts should be homemade, books, or donations to charity, and not all family members held up their end of those agreements either. Regardless of the specifics, most every year we spend some time as a family considering what we should do about gift giving, and about where to spend our money with the most reward to all.

This year, I had hoped to give small local sustainable gifts to friends and family who would be dropping by during the holiday season, donate in honor of others, and give gift certificates of experiences to some; but that dream will necessarily be placed on hold until next year. Having until recently been unemployed for six months, and with Mark and I working toward a goal of freeing ourselves from credit, this year, I am saying “no gifts,” for the most part, and meaning it.

Horseback riding

I know as we age, many of us find we need less stuff. Mark and I started giving experiences to each other many years back, and these gifts have formed some of my most cherished memories. There was a trail ride with our rental horses Teddy Bear and Dakota, and the hot air balloon ride that I had been wanting to try all my life. These memories made with Mark will be in my heart forever, and I wouldn’t think of trading them in for something more material.

So this year, in the time I would usually set aside for gift planning and shopping, I will instead start a file of experiences, good hard-working charities, and local artisan-made and handmade food treats that I will look forward to gifting to loved ones next December.

What gifts do you buy for your loved ones? What charities do you give to and how do they spend your money? How will you celebrate this holiday season?


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.



12/15/2014

home remedies for toothaches

If you have recurrent dental problems or are currently suffering from pain in a tooth, give these home remedies for toothaches, gingivitis, and bad breath a try. Herbal treatments like turmeric, sage and peppermint are natural and effective ways to ease pain, fight bacteria, and prevent inflammation.

Home Remedies for Toothaches

Experiencing nagging pain near your tooth and gums? While you should make an appointment with your dentist soon to diagnose the cause of the pain, there are many natural herbal therapies that can help ease your discomfort in the mean time. Try the following ideas:

1. Turmeric. Massage ground turmeric around your aching tooth to eliminate pain and swelling.[1]
2. Peppermint. The essential oil of peppermint acts as an analgesic and reduces pain when applied topically.[1] Soak a cotton ball in peppermint oil and place it in your mouth, or rub it directly on the aching tooth.[2] A few drops can also be added to a glass of water to make a pain-relieving mouthwash.
3. Cloves. Oil of cloves can help ease pain in teeth or sore gums.[2] Rub a few drops onto the source of the pain with your finger or a brush.

Gingivitis Treatments

Gingivitis, a common form of gum disease, causes irritation and inflammation in the gums. While gingivitis itself can be mild and even unnoticeable in some cases, it is important to treat as it can lead to more serious oral diseases. These herbs can help you to find relief from gingivitis:

1. Myrrh. Effective for treating inflammation of the gums and fighting oral mucosa that contributes to gingivitis, myrrh can be made into a mouthwash. Dilute 30-60 drops of myrrh tincture in a glass of water. Alternatively, apply the undiluted form to affected areas 2-3 times daily.[2]
2. Sage. Sage is also a natural gingivitis treatment. Make sage tea by adding a few tablespoons of chopped sage leaves to a cup of boiling water. Let steep and cool slightly, then gargle.[2]
3. Peppermint. This herb is also helpful to help relieve inflammation in the gums. Make a mouthwash with a few drops of peppermint oil stirred into a glass of water.[3]
4. Turmeric. Rub a past of 1 turmeric and 1/2 tsp mustard oil onto the teeth and gums twice daily to treat gingivitis.[1]

Bad breath

Nobody likes to deal with bad breath. Luckily there are many bad breath remedies that can help you to stay fresh. Some herbs that help fight bad odor include:

1. Rosemary. Try adding rosemary essential oil to water to make a mouthwash for treating bad breath.[3]
2. Myrrh. Gargling with myrrh-infused water can also eliminate bad odors.[3]
3. Chrysanthemum. This flower has antimicrobial activity, which can help to fight the bacteria that cause bad breath.[4] Make a chrysanthemum tea to be used as a mouthwash by boiling the herb in water.
4. Tea tree oil. This essential oil effectively combats bacteria associated with bad breath.[5] Try gargling with diluted tea tree oil in a glass of water.

Natural Dentistry

These herbal remedies will help you to find relief from a variety of oral health issues. Keeping your mouth healthy and preventing oral diseases is very important; your oral health can impact the health of your entire body. Try finding a biological dentist, who is a dentist trained to approach your dental care in a holistic manner, to care for your oral health. Biological dentists avoid toxins commonly used in dentistry, encourage a lifestyle that will benefit your dental health, and use holistic, naturopathic treatments to care for you.

References

[1] Indian J Dent Res. 2009 Jan-Mar;20(1):107-9.
[2] Int Dent J. 2011 Dec;61(6):287-96.
[3] J Clin Diagn Res. 2013 Aug;7(8):1827-9.
[4] Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2010 Apr;71(2):129-40.
[5] Arch Oral Biol. 2013 Jan;58(1):10-6.

Chelsea Clark is a natural health advocate who is on staff at the Natural Health Advisory Institute. Read more of her articles here.


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.



12/9/2014

Oil of Oregano is derived from the wild oregano plant (Oreganum vulgare), a member of the mint family (Lamiacae or Labiatae). The name oregano originates from two Greek words: oros (mountain) and ganos (joy). Oregano is also known by its other common names, wild marjoram and marjoram. It grows throughout many regions of the world, but is native to northern Europe. This shrub grows to approximately two feet and has multi-branched stems with oval leaves and small white or pink flowers that grow in erect spikes. In warmer climates such as the Mediterranean region, oregano grows as a perennial, while in other colder regions it is grown as an annual.

Oregano for taste, nutrition and healing

Oregano is well known as a culinary herb. The oregano herb has a warming and aromatic flavor which can be bitter due to the volatile oil content, especially when harvested fresh. The leaves of the oregano plant contain vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, copper, boron, manganese, vitamins A and C, and niacin. Oregano is also important medicinally, with its distilled oil highly regarded for its strong antibacterial properties. 

While oil of oregano has been used throughout history long before any scientific research was available, today we know that the major active chemicals found in oregano oil are phenolic terpenoids (terpenes have potent antibacterial components and give off the scent of pine). The two key terpenes thought to work synergistically in oil of oregano are carvacrol and thymol. PubMed, one of the world’s most reliable resources for medical research, lists many references regarding the healing potential of carvacrol. Studies have shown that carvacrol and thymol have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity, as well as being strong antioxidants that help prevent cell damage from free radicals. Rosmarinic acid, also found in oregano, is also an antioxidant.

Oregano for healing

In numerous clinical trials, oil of oregano has shown great promise in treating many illnesses, including colds, flu, muscle pain, GI problems, respiratory illnesses, skin conditions and urinary tract infections. The constituents found in oil of oregano may even help lower cholesterol, promote cardiovascular health, fight cancer, reduce symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and serve as a natural antibiotic. This oil has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria, including Staphyloccus aureus, and may also give the immune system a boost in fighting viruses, fungi, and parasites.

The volatile oil of oregano is obtained by a distillation process wherein it takes approximately 100 pounds of wild oregano to make one pound of volatile oil! This oil is clearly very different than a culinary oil, which is made by infusing the fresh herb in olive oil. The medicinal volatile oil is very strong and must be used appropriately to prevent irritation and harm. 

As a topical application for skin disorders, oregano oil must be added to a carrier oil (such as olive oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, or grape seed oil) with a ratio of one drop oregano oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil, or 10-12 drops per ounce of carrier oil. This oil can then be applied directly to the affected area. 

Oregano for taste

While most essential oils are not safe for internal ingestion, oregano oil is classified by the FDA as “generally regarded as safe” for human consumption (learn more about essential oil safety at the Herbal Academy of New England website). A drop of the oil may be added to four ounces of liquid in the form of water, juice, or food (dilute further for children, and children under the age of 6 should not ingest oregano oil at all). Oregano oil is also available in capsules, liquid leaf extract, and tablets.

For respiratory illness, a few drops of oregano oil can be added to a diffuser or a small pot of boiling water. To inhale the vapors, remove the pot from the heat source and place a towel over your head and lean over the pot just close enough to inhale the steam (don’t get too close!). This can be done several times a day to relieve symptoms.

For those preferring to use the whole plant instead of the oil, oregano tea may be made by using one teaspoon of fresh leaves to one cup of boiling water. Crushed fresh oregano leaves and flowers can be used as an antiseptic for minor wounds and burns, while a paste made by blending crushed oregano leaves with oats and hot water can be applied to areas of swelling and itching.

Fresh Oregano

Interested in learning more about herbs for nutrition and healing? Join the Herbal Academy of New England’s new membership website, The Herbarium.

Marlene is the Founder and Director of the Herbal Academy of New England, the home of the Online Introductory Herbal Course and the Online Intermediate Herbal Course, and meeting place for Boston area herbalists. Through the school and online herbal classes, Marlene has brought the wild and wonderful world of plant medicine to over 1,000 students across the globe. Photos provided and copyrighted by Herbal Academy of New England.

References:

A Closer Look at Essential Oils and Safety
Essential Oils 101: Oregano
Essential Oils 101: All Your Questions Answered
FDA regs on essential oils "generally recognized as safe"

• Jeremy J. Johnson. Carnosol: A promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent  2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
• Eran Ben-Arye et al. Treatment of upper respiratory tract infection in primary care: A randomized study using aromaric herbs. Hindawi Publishing Company Volume 2011
• Mark Force, William S. Spark and Robert A. Ronzio. Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in vivo. Health Exploration Trust, Scottsdale AZ, USA and Biotics Research Corporation


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.



12/9/2014

Coconut oil is the hottest new health product, offering a wide variety of benefits. Coconut oil uses range from cooking to skincare, so read on to take advantage of what this oil has to offer.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil consumption is associated with a more favorable profile of HDL and LDL cholesterol than other oils, and diets rich in coconut oil are associated with lowered risk factors for cardiovascular disease.[1,2]

Coconut oil contains high percentages of short-chain fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides, which have advantages over other types of fatty acids in the way they are metabolized by the body.[2] There is also growing evidence that coconut oil benefits memory loss and can help with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.[3]

Coconut oil also exhibits antimicrobial effects against bacteria, due to the fatty acid content.[4] It can even help skin conditions like atopic dermatitis.[5] So how can you take advantage of all of these health benefits? Here are a few ideas for using coconut oil daily.

Coconut Oil Uses

1. Cook with it. Coconut oil can be used in high heat, so it can replace other types of oil in essentially any recipe. Use coconut oil to:

• Roast veggies in the oven.
• Pan fry or sauté your dish.
• Make a homemade salad dressing.
Substitute for butter in dairy-free recipes like muffins and cookies, or as a spread on top of toast.
• Pop popcorn (and melt it on top as well).
• Make a healthy dessert.

2. Use it as a natural deodorant. Many deodorants contain harmful chemicals, but coconut oil deodorizes naturally due to its antimicrobial capabilities.

3. Season your cast iron pan. Rub coconut oil generously into the pan after cleaning, and let the cast iron soak up the oil to keep your pan seasoned perfectly.

4. Care for your skin. Coconut oil serves as a fantastic natural moisturizer, and it can help to relieve itchy or dry skin and treat skin conditions like dermatitis. Try rubbing coconut oil onto affected areas and letting it soak in. Common uses for skin care are widespread.

• Moisturize your hands.
• Treat diaper rash.
• Use it as a nipple cream during breastfeeding.
• Care for a sunburn.
• Keep your cuticles healthy.
• Use it as a massage oil.

5. Treat your acne. Coconut oil can help to fight bacteria, which are responsible for acne breakouts. Try putting coconut oil onto your skin as a natural topical treatment. Ingesting it in your diet will help too.

6. Use it as a natural conditioner for your hair. Apply coconut oil to the scalp and hair before showering, let it sit, and then rinse. This can also help to treat dandruff.

7. Add it to a smoothie as a dietary supplement. A tablespoon or so in a smoothie can be a great way to add coconut oil to your regular diet.

The best form of coconut oil is organic, extra virgin, cold-pressed, and non-hydrogenated. This assures that you’re getting the purest, most raw form of the oil, without the processing that can destroy some of its beneficial qualities.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature; if your home is cool you may need to heat the coconut oil slightly to soften. This will allow you to spread it and use it more easily.

What’s your favorite way to use coconut oil? Share your ideas here.

References

[1] Adv Nutr. 2013 May 1;4(3):294-302.
[2] Br J Nutr. 2014 May 28;111(10):1782-90.
[3] J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;39(2):233-7.
[4] J Med Food. 2013 Dec;16(12):1079-85.
[5] Int J Dermatol. 2014 Jan;53(1):100-8.

Chelsea Clark is a natural health advocate who is on staff at the Natural Health Advisory Institute. Read more of her articles at the Natural Health Advisory website.


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.



12/8/2014

South Africa

This week, I had hoped to write about giving to charity instead of corporations for the Holidays, but the topic below took personal and national precedence. I will look forward to discussing donations in place of consumption next week.

My heart is heavy. A little more than a week ago, at the Thanksgiving table, my family got into quite a heated conversation about prejudice—specifically, the recently meditated concentration of black deaths in the United States at the hands of white police officers. Since the conversation, I can’t help but reflect on the level of fear, ignorance, and consciously calculated hatred in our country and around this world. I find it increasingly difficult to extend an understanding, necessary to open dialogue, with those who fail to acknowledge the historic and systematic roots of irrationally excessive uses of force.

It wasn’t until my husband and I took a trip to Durban, South Africa two years ago to visit our daughter that I witnessed first-hand how a white American male feels when plucked out of the privilege of his majority status. We were visiting Carly during the Christmas holidays when she surprised us with a day tour of local Durban hotspots. One of the afternoon highlights happened to be a chairlift ride over the Durban beachfront, where a week-long party for tens of thousands of black South Africans, many who spend the remainder of their year inland, was taking place. On the beachfront, our whiteness was impossible to ignore. While everyone was friendly and open to us being there, we were also open game for stares as a pale-skinned spectacle. I noticed my husband looking tense and stressed, and I was immediately curious about the reason for his edginess. As we rode the chair lift above the crowd down on the beach, he remarked that this was the first time in his life that he could remember being the minority, and how exposed, unsafe, and unsure it made him feel. While being a recognized minority and a persecuted minority are completely different experiences, what Carly’s Christmas gift did give us that year was a useful dose of self-reflection and interrogation into a greater contextualization of our creature comforts.

In most of the conversation I have had recently surrounding prejudiced police killings —Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice — I find myself at a loss for words in the face of hastily and arrogant “understanding” from people of privilege and racial majority. I don’t understand the pain of losing a child. I don’t understand the pain attached to a family history of slavery and oppression. And I don’t understand the insecurity of being different, marked, and targeted for it every time I leave my home. What I do understand is that I am incredibly fortunate, and with that fortune it is my responsibility to learn, to empathize, and to struggle for the safety and justice of us all.

How can we help each other to move out of places of hatred and fear?

Resources:

Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah Compare Racism in America versus Africa


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.



12/8/2014

 home birth

In listening to the stories of mothers who have chosen home birth, the same sentiments are heard again and again. Here is what they have to say in their own words:

1. There is no better way to birth. ~Anne Stevens

2. I loved laboring in my own sacred space. ~ Mary Moon

3. I would do it again and again. ~Anne Stevens

4. I chose a home birth because I wanted to be comfortable and in control. ~Robin Murphy

5. They (my team) allowed me to be the one in charge and call all the shots. ~Anne Stevens

6. I never even felt scared. ~ Mary Moon

7. I loved that I didn't have to leave and go anywhere. ~ Mary Moon

8. I didn't have insurance but it was so worth it! ~ Mary Moon

9. I liked being able to ask for something that I had in the house. ~Robin Murphy

10. Best part of my two children's births is meeting my babies in a peaceful, comfortable, quiet, environment surrounded by people who loved and cared about us. ~Anne Stevens 

If that weren't enough to get you excited about your upcoming home birth, this video is my absolute favorite footage of how calm and beautiful a home birth can be...and its a twin birth! Enjoy.


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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