Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

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Entertainment: reading, radio, word games, TV (1-hour per kid per week), animals, nature. How do you currently fill your spare time? Is it with things that are time wasters or things that are productive? How do you entertain yourself when living off-grid?

Without electricity and/or internet, many people today would feel extremely deprived. Recently I visited Cuba to find a country without much internet access and the people filled the streets with music, dance, talk, playing soccer, laughter, and human interaction.


Thought on Life Without Internet

Currently, I have been without internet for about 4 days and the withdrawals are intense. I feel disconnected from the world and afloat. I hadn’t realized how interdependent on the internet I have become.

Not having the internet has given me time for reflection, contemplation and planning. I have used this time to lay out 15 articles I would like to write for Mother Earth News. I feel I am not a very good writer but also feel the compelling need to get to writing some of what I now know to be a very unique upbringing.

Growing up, everything we did tended to take awhile, so we didn’t seem to have much time to “waste." We hauled water for ourselves and our animals, fed the animals and ourselves, and generally always found things that needed fixing or building.

My brother and I were always tinkering with bicycles, my sisters always spending lots of time with their horses, my dad working on the truck with my brother or building something new for the animals, my mom cooking or working in the garden. We tended to do things together as many hands make light work.

Also, since we didn’t stay up very late, we didn’t have many extra hours to waste. I went to bed at dark and woke up at daylight normally, although I do remember times that I would be so engrossed in a book that I would stay up all night reading it and not realize it until 5:30 a.m. or so when my dad would wake up to say get to sleep.

Being able to read well has served me in my pursuit of knowledge. I still read 2 or 3 books a week and maybe watch one show a month on the internet. My love of reading has distilled in me high levels of knowledge on myriad subjects. I still love reading and learning. Books are readily accessible and us kids would study and read about our interests.


We had a good battery-operated short-wave radio. I grew up with our whole family sitting around listening to variety radio shows like Prairie Home Companion or Whaddaya Know while we read or did patchwork or needlework or knitted or played a card or board game.

I remember people’s astonishment when they stopped us in our covered wagon to talk and dad would turn down the volume on the shortwave where we were listening to the BBC from Europe or a radio show from the middle east. I guess they thought because we were traveling low tech with the horses, we also shunned all other technologies.

Currently I have a solar-powered and hand-crank short-wave radio that I can use or I stream on my phone either podcasts or radio stations, like my favorite station in Brazil.

Not Watching Television

I grew up not watching TV and I don't watch TV now, although recently I did go over to a friends house for a political debate party. I remember our family’s first television was a little portable 4-inch black-and-white one that we ran off of the cigarette lighter plug on dad’s truck. We would set the TV on the hood of the truck to watch our show. We were only allowed 1hour of TV per kid and I remember the shenanigans trying to get the other kids to watch your show so you wouldn’t use up your hour but rather they would.

Later in life, I ended up going through a period of watching TV nonstop for 3 or 4 months — I guess to get it out of my system. I would say the only disadvantage of not watching much television is people quote from movies and TV shows a lot in regular day-to-day life. Many jokes are based on these same things.

The first movie I saw in the movie theatre was with a group of 12 or so teenagers. We went and saw Running Man when I was I think about 11, and I was not prepared to have my senses so assaulted with such intensity that I was a bit shell shocked and I had minor anxiety attacks from loud noises for a few weeks. I also had a nightmare of being chased by a chainsaw-wielding man.

We don’t think how TV affects children, but I am glad that I wasn’t exposed to very much movie or TV chaos.


When I was younger, I remember being given a small like matchbox car and I ended up spending hours in the woods under a tree that had a lot of moss around it pulling up the moss to make roads, building houses out of sticks and moss, and generally building a whole town. I don’t remember actually driving the car through my town much at all, but I used the car as a catalyst for my imagination to build a whole town.

My house had a fire station, police station, library, many houses, a playground (that was hard to build the miniature swing and see-saw), but I don’t remember building a school. I don’t think my imaginary town would have a school.

Have you ever wondered why we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway? Funny quirks in language such as that were an everyday game with us.

A great pastime for me was my goats. I pictured myself as an old timey goat herder tending to my flock. Most of the time we didn’t have fences, so I would either tether the goats or would herd them with a stick and throwing stones in the air to fall in front of the wandering goat to frighten it back into the herd. We cleaned with goats many a property of exotic plants that were taking over and killing the trees like kudzu or honey suckle.

Our father left us kids with the ability to see fun in everything, to know that there is always something to do, to play word games, to have an ability to create our own fun.


What do you do for fun that is not just time wasters ?I look forward everyday to the interactions I have on my Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page and hope you will join the discussion there. Stay energized.

Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page, and read all of Aur'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.



My interest in farming and the outdoors began when I was about 8 years old, helping my grandma in her garden. I remember she asked me to get some peanuts, but when I went down to the garden, all I could find were tomatoes and squash.

“You have to dig them up!” she said. That was the beginning of my education. I also remember seeing my Uncle Fred garden when I was 4 years old, growing all kinds of great vegetables. My father is a huge pepper nut — he grows the most amazing hot peppers and cans them with my mom and grandma.

Growing Up to Grow a Sustainable Life

In 2002, two women who lived in a bungalow on the edge of my family's property passed away, and I took over the land. I started to build a home in a sustainable way, reusing and repurposing furniture and other objects found around the property. My grandfather collected antique furniture since he was 12 years old, and seeing all of his stuff growing up, I never wanted to buy furniture at one of the big stores. I love reusing old pieces that have great history and that don’t leave a big carbon footprint.

My lifestyle started to change around 2011. I was eating tons of fast food, and drinking tons of soft drinks. I started noticing that I was overweight and that I didn’t feel well, and something clicked. I decided I needed a change and started researching and discovering people like Daniel Vitalis and David Wolfe. I became inspired by the concept of “ReWilding,” eating raw foods, and blending. My wife and I started exploring this together, and that’s when we started our own garden.

I found an old book called The Farmer’s Almanac. My father always talked about it, but I never gave a second thought to it before. We bought some non-GMO heirloom seeds and tried to do everything totally natural.

I remember thinking it would be a small garden, but it ended up being 60 feet by 40 feet. My uncle helped us get started and we did everything by the letter, planning it out by the phase of the moon, making sure we started it on the right day of the week, etc.

I discovered that our garden was in the same spot where the old ladies’ garden used to be, and it felt great to keep their legacy alive. We planted tons of squash and other heirlooms, always making sure to get non-genetically modified seeds. We had an incredible black calypso bean bush, heirloom arugula, and a ton of pumpkins — but the squash was our favorite.

Inspired for Healthy Living

As our garden grew and we learned more about the benefits of natural and organic seeds, our interest in healthy lifestyle began to spill over into every aspect of our lives. My wife earned a degree in health and wellness, with the goal of working in alternative medicine. In the U.S., we’re so focused on treating diseases after the fact, but when you look at eastern medicine, there are so many things people can do to stay healthy by taking supplements and making sure to get the minerals, nutrients and vitamins you need from plants and other raw foods.

We always tell our friends who aren't feeling well to take a look at what they're eating and try to invite more raw or organic grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts into their diets. In a lot of places around the country, people aren’t getting the nutrition they need.

Hunting and Food Foraging

Going out into the woods and finding great natural foods became a passion of mine. I go hunting for dryland fish morels, a type of mushroom. My friend used to tell me that when you find them, you need to keep it a secret or people will dig them all up — they’re so delicious. When you dig them up, make sure to pull all the way from the root, because the spores go into the ground and you can sometimes replant them and get another crop.

There’s also a tropical fruit in Kentucky called the passion flower, with a green orb. Once the orb falls off, you can pick them off the ground and break them open, and it has the most delightful floral smell. You can suck on the seeds, and they’re actually used in a lot of homeopathic calming remedies. So, now I have a whole vine of passion flower growing in the back of my house.

We have local persimmons, which are incredible, and pawpaws, or what we call "hillbilly bananas.” We make salads out of dandelions by taking out the root and drying it out, and it actually makes a great coffee substitute that’s great for your kidneys.

One of the greatest things we discovered was that our propriety has a huge set of pecan trees from the 1940s. Pecans are expensive! Every other year, they produce a great crop and we always pick them and give them out as gifts, or make them available for everyone to enjoy.

My transition to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle didn’t happen overnight. There are times when I kick myself for not doing enough to keep myself and my family healthy. But we can’t be perfect, either, and the journey to living better is about making mistakes and finding successes. There are many steps that we can take to stay healthy, no matter what our lifestyle and personal challenges are, and we have to take it one step at a time.

This guest blog post for MOTHER EARTH NEWS was written by John Fred, drummer for the band Black Stone Cherry. Connect with John on the band’s website, and check out their new album Kentucky, on sale now.

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.


Homemade Coffee Lemon Body Scrub 

After my first do-it-yourself scrub, I did some experimenting to see what combinations I could create. Eager to make some yummy, detoxifying scrubs for my arms and legs, I mixed some simple ingredients to my trusty epsom salts to achieve clarity, exfoliation, and moisture using coffee grounds, lemon zest, and coconut oil. Brilliant? Yes! Simple? You bet.

Every couple weeks I like to give my body a thorough scrub to remove dead skin cells and reduce the likelihood of shaving burn and ingrown hair. Seeing what seems like a recent spike in popularity with coffee scrubs in the beauty world, I decided to give one a try. In addition to my interest in testing the raving reviews on coffee grounds, I have one big dealbreaker when it comes to beauty routines: All-natural ingredients only.

Tying in my own interest in green beauty, I created a completely natural salt scrub with no harsh chemicals — and it’s actually quite simple! The scrub is made of four ingredients that you (or your neighbor) probably have in the kitchen cabinet.

The first ingredient, coffee grounds, have antioxidants which help prevent premature skin aging, tightens skin, and helps reduce cellulite. Additionally, epsom salts are known to soothe aching muscles, act as an exfoliant, while coconut oil helps condition the skin and lock in moisture.

Lemons, another antioxidant packed ingredient, are great for neutralizing free radicals and boosting collagen production. 

It’s quite amazing how simple, cheap ingredients can be combined to create such great self-care concoctions. Follow along to read up on the easy, 4-step body scrub that you and your skin will love!

Homemade Coffee-Lemon Body Scrub Recipe


• epsom salts or organic granulated sugar
• organic coconut oil
• coffee grounds
• lemon zest
• recycled jar

Homemade Coffee Lemon Body Scrub


1. Spoon out about two tablespoons of organic coconut oil, such as Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil into a microwave safe dish. Substitutes such as olive oil work as well. Homemade Coffee Lemon Body Scrub

2. Next, spoon about a half cup of epsom salts into the coconut oil and mix well. Depending how wet and conditioning you want your scrub, you can add more melted coconut oil. Add in your desired amount of coffee grounds. I used approximately two tablespoons.

Homemade Coffee Lemon Body Scrub

3. Wash your lemon and use a zester to remove half of the rind. Add to the coffee scrub mixture and mix well.

Homemade Coffee Lemon Body Scrub

4. Spoon your ingredients into a recycled jar (mine was previously used to hold jam), add twine, and gift it to someone you love. Or, enjoy it yourself!

Homemade Coffee Lemon Body Scrub

Until next time, you can find more eco-friendly DIYs and sustainable fashion tips on Sustainable Daisy.

Karen Housel is a fashion designer and DIY enthusiast. If you create this DIY and share on social media, use #sustainabledaisy so she can take a look! Follow Karen on Instagram, or subscribe to her blog at Sustainable Daisy for more eco-friendly lifestyle tips! Read all of her 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.


The art and practice of herbalism is passed within communities from teacher to student, parent to child, and friend to friend. Free sharing of this wisdom is what keeps herbalism alive and vibrant.

Herbalists share herbal knowledge to help others maintain wellness, and as teachers they have an extensive scope of influence within their community.

Say Thank you this herbalist day

April 17th is Thank an Herbalist Day! This is a special day to reach out and share gratitude with herbalists who have touched your life. This year at the Herbal Academy, we are celebrating the teacher in every herbalist!

Herbalists, whether novice or professional, bring the knowledge of plants into their communities. They teach and empower folks towards wise self-care, sharing information about the wonders of herbs, and often inspire people to begin walking their own path as an herbalist.

Free 'Thank an Herbalist Day' Cards

Do you have a special herbalist in your life? Someone who has inspired you or helped you in a time of need? Maybe it’s a friend, an herbal teacher, or even an author of a beloved herbal tome. Send them a little note of appreciation using one of these free cards, or share a specially crafted herbal gift to express your thanks for what they have taught you and shared with you. A thank you means so much.

Free Thank You Cards for Herbalist Day

It is easy to say "thank you" with these beautiful cards. Download and print this card below or grab one to share a little appreciation online with a favorite herbalist! Find more FREE Thank an Herbalist Day cards here to print and share.

Thank an Herbalist Day Cards for April 17

Say 'Thank You' With the Gift Of Herbs

Feel inspired to share a gift of appreciation? Herbalists adore receiving herbs and homemade treats lovingly crafted with plants! Craft up a batch of a personal signature creation or perhaps something that you learned to make from a favorite herbalist. Then enjoy giving your creation to a treasured herbalist in your life. They will love it! If you are looking for suggestions, we have gathered up some easy to make gift ideas to inspire you.

herbal gifts

Home-Crafted Herbal Honeys

Bringing herbs into the kitchen is a magical way to enjoy tasty plants in everyday cuisine. Culinary treats such as herbal honeys, vinegars, and salts are a pure pleasure to have around and a great way to say thank you!

Springtime is perfect for creating herbal vinegars and honeys from springtime herbs. A beloved herbalist favorite this time of year is honey infused with fragrant violets (Viola odorata).

To make this divine treat, simply fill a clean, dry jar with fresh violet flowers and cover with honey. Place a lid securely on top. Check back on your tasty honey after a couple of hours, add more honey if necessary, and push the flowers down so they stay submerged under the honey.

A butter knife or chop stick is a perfect tool for this. Your honey is ready to eat and enjoy right away or you can let the flowers infuse for a week before gifting.

More Herbal Gift Ideas

1. Herbal honeys. Make this tasty sage honey or if you are crafting with children check out this for tips on making herbal honey for kids. Yum!

2. Vinegar infused with tasty herbs is another super easy and tasty treat to make. You can use fresh seasonal spring herbs or whatever appealing herbs you have on hand. Learn more with this helpful guide to making herbal vinegars.

3. Salt infused with the goodness of herbs. These take moments to whip up and add a special touch to any kitchen table. Find lots of recipes and ideas here.

body care for herbalists gifts

How to Make Dandelion-Flower Salve

Used topically, herbs bring a little special loving care to body and mind. What better way to show appreciation than to share a jar of salve or an herbal bath sachet? Springtime brings vibrant, yellow dandelions which can be found popping their heads up everywhere. Dandelions make a delightful base for springtime body care and a happy treat to share. Use them to create a batch of dandelion flower soap or salve!

1. To make dandelion flower salve, harvest dandelion flowers from a safe place that has not been sprayed with herbicides. Spread the flowers out to wilt for a day or two. This will remove some of the moisture content from the flowers.

2. Then pack the flowers into a clean, dry jar and cover with olive oil.

3. Place the jar in a pan or crockpot with a couple of inches of water. Heat slowly over low heat for at least 4 hours, making sure the water doesn’t boil or completely evaporate.

4. Strain the flowers from the oil.

5. Add the strained oil to a dry, clean pan and then add one ounce of beeswax for every cup of oil. Heat gently until the beeswax is melted and stir to incorporate.

6. Pour into containers and enjoy! Be aware that beeswax is very hard to clean off of pans and knives so it is good to have dedicated equipment set aside for just this purpose.

Follow these links for more information about how to make herbal infused oils and salves.

More Herbal Body Care Ideas

This lavender infused oil recipe is truly like heaven in a bottle while this warming ginger cayenne salve can help to soothe away aches and pains, and this no-crack day lotion recipe is full of therapeutic essential oils that are very nourishing to dry skin.

Whip up a batch of a special soap to share. Learn how to make your own soap or enjoy making a beautiful springtime violet leaf soap.

Share the gift of an herbal bath with either of these simple bath recipes: soothing oatmeal bath or simple lavender bath salts.

The Gift of Plants

Sometimes, the best gift is found in the simplicity of sharing living plants and seeds. And really what herbalist doesn’t love a vibrant, living plant? Perhaps choose an herb to gift that has special significance to your relationship.

Did the herbalist inspire or help you with a particular herb? Plants are also known to have symbolic meanings, such as rosemary for remembrance and sage for wisdom, and a gift of one of these plants can help you express that sentiment.

gift of plants for herbalists

'Thank an Herbalist Day' Sale from The Herbal Academy

In celebration of Thank an Herbalist Day, the Herbal Academy is offering a discount of 15% off online herbal courses as well as The Herbarium membership! If you have been considering studying herbalism, this is the perfect time to get started.

Herbal Academy programs offer multiple levels of comprehensive herbal education, 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. Through the Herbal Academy’s training paths, students will gain the knowledge and experience required for careers as professional herbalists, and with additional hands-on training, clinical herbalism. All programs are held online, and designed with an international classroom in mind.

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.


Healthy Pregnancy With Probiotics

In the last decades, our knowledge regarding the miracle of creating life has advanced with leaps and bounds. We have learned so much about how the baby grows, the different developmental stages and what is necessary for a healthy baby.

Until quite recently, scientists believed that the uterus was a perfectly sterile environment, where the baby was safe from infections or other detrimental exposures. Natural birth was supposedly the first contact with bacteria and other blessings of the outside world.

There is no doubt that passing through the birth canal seeds the baby with precious beneficial bacteria from the mother, a critical event that research has found to play a major role in the short- and long-term health of the baby. The excellent documentary Microbirth is a testimony to this radical, yet entirely science-based truth.

Reproductive System Bacterial Communities

But now we have gone even further. Studies have found that the uterus is not the perfectly sterile and safe haven that we thought it was. In fact, both the uterus and the placenta (the organs most closely and intimately related to the baby) are now confirmed to harbor their own unique microbial communities, which are decisively different from microbes in other maternal organs, like the vagina or the gut.

The type of bacteria dominating these critical (for the baby and pregnancy) organs seems to influence the risk for pregnancy complications; when potential pathogens are present, there is higher risk for preterm birth and conditions such as preeclampsia.

Therefore, we need to do our best to ensure that the symbiotic bacteria of mothers-to-be are characterized by health-giving, beneficial strains, not pathogenic ones.

What Does Oral Hygiene have to Do with Healthy Pregnancy?

Another ground-breaking scientific finding is that the placental and uterine bacteria seem to be more similar to the bacteria of the mouth, despite the considerable physical distance between them. Perhaps, this is why serious gum infection (periodontitis) has been linked to higher risk for labor complications, as have other types of serious infections as well.

These finding do not mean that the gut and vagina are not important for a healthy pregnancy and baby, just that they are not in the front row of interest anymore. It is important to remember that natural birth remains a major event in seeding a baby with beneficial bacteria and that gut and vaginal flora are closely related.

However, the new facts put an unexpected emphasis on the oral hygiene during pregnancy and also provide several ways to help pregnant women enrich their symbiotic bacteria with good guys.

Bacteria in Breast Milk

Finally, we have learned that breast milk is yet another source of bacteria for the newborn baby. The mammary gland is an additional, newly found bacterial home that inevitably donates bacteria to breastfed infants.

The mother´s weight and pregnancy weight gain are shown to be important factors affecting the kind of bacteria passed on to the baby. According to a study published in the journal Pediatric Research, the breast milk of mothers with higher Body Mass Index (BMI), usually indicating obesity or overweight, has more potentially pathogenic bacterial strains, such as Staphylococcus, Clostridium, Bacteroides and Akkermansia muciniphila and less beneficial strains, like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.

All these exciting scientific advances show us that seeding a baby with beneficial bacteria starts from the early stages of pregnancy, is reinforced during natural birth and hopefully with breastfeeding. It is a multi-step process that lasts several months and depends significantly on the mother´s diet and lifestyle.

Unfortunately, this is not a matter of simply taking a probiotic supplement, although this is a necessary step as well. In order to fully support the microbiome of pregnant women and new mothers, a more holistic and careful approach is necessary.

4 Ways to Help Beneficial Bacteria Thrive

1. Practice good oral hygiene. Because the mouth is a source of bacteria for the uterus and placenta, keeping oral bacteria happy and balanced is essential. Harsh, alcohol-based, flavored mouthwashes or hydrogen peroxide washes may give a refreshing feeling, but at the same time kill indiscriminately good and bad bacteria and irritate mouth tissues.

An excellent natural alternative is oil pulling (using a natural oil as a mouthwash), which supports beneficial mouth bacteria, while being an effective detox method. Organic sesame oil and cold pressed, virgin coconut oil are the best options, because they are loaded with gentle, natural antimicrobials and numerous health-giving substances. Needless to say that keeping teeth clean is also a fundamental part of a good oral hygiene.

2. Increase probiotics. If there is no history of gut dysbiosis, you can take extra shots of beneficial bacteria with naturally fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut. The bacteria in these foods and drinks remain temporarily in the gut, encouraging the establishment of healthful microorganisms.

Alternatively, probiotic supplements rich in different Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria species can also enrich the gut and vaginal flora with beneficial bacteria.

3. Limit antibiotics. Prescribed antibiotics inevitably mess up bacterial communities in the whole body, because they kill beneficial bacteria along with the bad. If you have to take antibiotics of any kind, make sure to replenish your good bacteria communities with fermented foods and drinks or by taking probiotic supplements at the same time until a week after the treatment is finished.

4. Pastured meat and dairy products. Unfortunately, the vast majority of animal products that are available come from industrially raised, confined animals, receiving large doses of antibiotic cocktails on a daily basis. Small quantities of these antibiotics are found in all types of animal products and, therefore, eating them can throw most bacterial communities out of balance.

It is much more sustainable, ethical and healthful to consume animal products coming from humanely raised, pastured animals. The products coming from such animals are of premium quality and superior nutritional value, while lacking harmful antibiotics and synthetic hormones.


The placenta harbors a unique microbiome. Science Translational Medicine. May 2014; 6(237):237ra65.

Probiotics and pregnancy. Current Diabetes Reports. January 2015; 15(1):567.

Microbiome of the placenta in pre-eclampsia supports the role of bacteria in the multifactorial cause of pre-eclampsia. The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research. May 2015; 41(5):662-9.

Exploring preterm birth as a polymicrobial disease: an overview of the uterine microbiome. Frontiers in Immunology. November 2014; 5:595.

Placental Microbiome and Its Role in Preterm Birth. Neoreviews. December 2014; 15(12):e537-e545.

The Placental Microbiome Varies in Association with Low Birth Weight in Full-Term Neonates. Nutrients. August 2015; 7(8):6924-37.

The perinatal microbiome and pregnancy: moving beyond the vaginal microbiome. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. March 2015; 5(6).

Collado MC, Laitinen K, Salminen S, Isolauri E. 2012. Maternal weight and excessive weight gain during pregnancy modify the immunomodulatory potential of breast milk. Pediatric Research. 72(1):77-85.

Eleni Roumeliotou is a fertility and pregnancy nutrition and lifestyle specialist. Through Primal Baby, she helps women from all over the world to restore their fertility naturally and have complication-free pregnancies and healthy babies. Find Eleni on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

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.



Many people take multivitamins, calcium or fish oil to help ensure that they get the essential vitamins they need. That said, the majority of people aren't aware that there are some other supplements and foods out there that may even more beneficial to the body.

Here are seven healthful natural supplements and the foods they come in that you might want to consider adding to your daily routine.

1. Choline

Choline promotes health in the nervous system and helps to prevent fatty liver. It increases dopamine production, which provides a host of benefits including an overall decrease in appetite. Choline is found in eggs, chicken and fish.

CDP-choline supplements are an effective way to make sure your body is getting enough choline. Those who have diabetes or struggle with depression should consult a doctor before taking choline supplements.

2. Refined Coconut Oil

Refined coconut oil has a wide range of benefits. It helps maintain a healthy level of cholesterol, fights heart disease and lowers blood pressure. It wards off some of the deadliest diseases, including cancer and diabetes. It strengthens bones and even promotes weight loss.

Coconut oil is especially effective in promoting healthy skin and hair. It is sometimes used as a massage oil and moisturizer. It prevents flaking and can help ward off wrinkles and saggy skin. It is very popular in India because it gives hair a shiny, healthy quality.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are a great source of fiber and health-promoting compounds. They contain a lot of anthocyanin, which provides a lot of cognitive benefits which are particularly useful for the elderly.

The best thing about blueberries is that they are a naturally-occurring vitamin carrier. You can eat them on their own or drink them in juice form. Consuming less than a cup each day is enough to gain beneficial effects.

4. Iodine

Iodine is a mineral found in fish that helps the body synthesize hormones. Iodine helps maintain a healthy thyroid and reduces general aches and pains in the body. Iodine also improves cognition and balances hormones.

An Iodine deficiency is a bad thing. Low Iodine levels can cause an under-active thyroid, which means that the entire body's metabolism is running sluggish.

Too much iodine can be bad for you, so be sure to follow the recommended daily dose if you are taking it in supplement form.

5. Berberine

Berberine originates from plants and is used in Chinese medicine. It is effective in supplementing diabetes treatments because it promotes blood sugar response. It also helps maintain a healthy cholesterol level. 

Berberine is a fantastic supplement for those who are overweight and are dealing with common side effects of obesity and it can be a terrific first step to getting in shape. Be careful when first taking it, as too much berberine can cause an upset stomach. It is generally best to start at a low dose and slowly add more as your body adjusts. Berberine doesn’t appear naturally in a lot of foods that people typically eat, but can be found in the European Barberry, the Oregon Grape, and multiple types of roots.

6. Garlic

Garlic is absolutely overloaded with health benefits. It can help maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels while promoting blood flow and supporting the immune system. Some studies have shown that garlic assists in weight loss by transforming white fat into brown fat.

A study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center has shown evidence that garlic fights health disease, the common cold and cancer. It may also help men who have an enlarged prostate.

At least 4 garlic cloves should be taken every day to get the minimum expected benefit. Make sure not to microwave it as that can damage allicin, which is believed to be the compound that makes garlic so healthy in the first place.

Some people prefer to take aged garlic, because it has a less potent scent.

7. Vitamin B

Vitamin B is a nutrient that is essential for the nervous system. It is found in green vegetables, whole grains, milk and meat.

Studies have shown that taking vitamin B for six months or longer will reduce the risk of having a stroke. It also helps to prevent Alzheimer’s and other age-related brain effects. Vitamin B keeps bones strong, reduces the risk of cataracts, boosts energy and can help fight depression as it aids in the formation of serotonin.

Photo by Wiki Commons

David Glenn has lived his entire life in the beautiful state of Utah. He was fortunate enough to be successful in the residential construction market and was able to retire. He has been a contributor to Vivint and SmartHome USA. Follow David on Twitter at @DavidGlenn97, and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts 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.


Create an herbal pillow to encourage restful sleep and sweet dreams; your own do-it-yourself natural sleep aid! This practice dates back centuries and is a lovely way to enjoy the time-honored sleep and dream inducing power of herbs. They also make charming gifts!

 Dream Pillows

I repurposed vintage lady's hankies to make these pillows (2 hankies per pillow) 

An herbal pillow is easily made from fabric cut into small squares or rectangles. Once finished, it is tucked inside or under your bed pillow so that you can enjoy the dreamy/sleepy fragrance.

Most instructions for creating herbal pillows involve sewing a single pillow case to be filled with an herbal blend. This works well, however, once the herbs lose their scent the pillow can’t easily be refreshed.

Another option is to make an inner muslin bag to fill with herbs. One side is loosely basted closed so that it can easily be opened, refilled with fresh herbs, and re-basted shut as needed. If you have the sewing skills, consider sewing a zipper or velcro strips on one side. A more refined, outer pillow case is then created (similar to a bed pillow) to encase the inner muslin, herb-filled bag.

Fabric Ideas

Consider repurposing vintage pillowcases, lady’s hankies, scarves, leftover fabric, retired clothing, etc. Natural fabrics such as cotton or silk work well; the herbal scents need to breathe through. Consider purchasing organic muslin or other organic fabrics.  My favorite source is Organic Cotton Plus.

How to Sew Inner Muslin Bag

Cut a double layer of fabric into the size/shape you desire.  Pin the right sides of the fabric together and then sew along the edges of three sides.Turn right side out and fill well until stuffed with your preferred herbal blend; cotton batting can also be added. Baste the last edge closed.

How to Sew Outer Pillow Case

You need to basically repeat what you did in the step above. However, you will be leaving one side open, like a bed pillow. You need to hem the fabric edges of the side that will be left open so it is finished off. This should be done before you sew the other three sides together. The finished dimensions of this outer pillow case should be the same as the inner muslin bag or just slightly larger.

Bowl of Herbs

The herbal information below was taken from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Dreamy Herbs

Catnip: Relaxing, helps bring deep sleep.

Chamomile: Calming, relaxing, and said to keep bad dreams away.

Cloves: Brings warmth and an exotic feeling to dreams, add only 2-4 per pillow.

Hops: Relaxing and brings peacefulness.

Lavender: Soothing, relaxing and eases headaches.

Lemon Verbena: Uplifting, used to add “lightness” to dream blends.

Mugwort: Greatly enhances lucid dreaming and helps with remembering of dreams.

Peppermint or Spearmint: Enhances clarity and vividness in dreams.

Rose petals: Brings warmth and love, may be used to evoke romantic dreams.

Rosemary: Traditionally used to bring deep sleep and keep away bad dreams.

Sleepy Herbs

Catnip: Relaxing, helps bring deep sleep.

Chamomile: Calming, relaxing, and said to keep bad dreams away.

Hops: Relaxing and brings peacefulness.

Lavender: Soothing, relaxing and eases headaches.

Lemon Balm: Relieves stress, anxious and nervous feelings, insomnia, stress, and headaches.

Rose petals: Brings warmth and love.

Rosemary: Traditionally used to bring deep sleep and keep away bad dreams.

Sweet Marjoram: Calms restlessness and nervousness.

Herbs for Pillows

Judy DeLorenzo is a holistic health practitioner, garden foodie, and daycare founder. She completed a 3-year course in Transformational Energy Healing, studied homeopathy, earned a certificate from eCornell in Whole Foods, Plant-Based Nutrition, and is currently studying herbalism. Her approach as a holistic health practitioner is to carefully look at the complete picture and suggest solutions that promote the person’s innate ability to self-heal and maintain vibrant health. You can learn more about Judy DeLorenzo and her healing practice at Biofield Healing and find Judy's blog at A Life Well Planted. Her child care center is called Room To Grow in Litchfield, CT. Read all of her Mother Earth News posts 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.

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