Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

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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.


Skin Care 

Our bodies drink through our skin, as well as from the food and water we eat. I heard this at a presentation on skin care and suddenly felt very thirsty, craving to hydrate my skin. I wanted to feed my body real food and water, inside and out. Being a farmer and a homesteader, I already feed the inside of my body real food. Now I wanted to feed the outside of my body real food, too. I love to make things from scratch, so I set out to find a delicious skin care recipe to create. 

I’m a hard sell on skin products. I have sensitive skin that is best left alone. I don't like commercial skincare products or perfumes or preservatives or just about anything on the market. With a bit of resignation, I usually just skip the skin care. But suddenly I craved hydration like a dried out prune. Anticipating the dry air that would fill my house from winter’s wood stove heat, I became determined to have lovely well-nourished skin.

It took me a couple months to research recipes, collect ingredients, and make time to create my own homemade skin cleanser and cream. I selected Rosemary Gladstar's Cleansing Miracle Grains and Rosemary's Perfect Face Cream, from her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. These recipes are made from real ingredients.

Miracle Grains. For the grains, I used lavender from my herb garden, as well as oatmeal, almonds, and poppy seeds from my kitchen cabinets. And white cosmetic clay and roses. If you grow flowers without spraying, you can harvest and dry whole rose buds to use.

Grind all the ingredients of the Miracle Grains, ideally in a small coffee grinder. Store the gritty Grains in a jar. For application, mix a tablespoon of dry grains in a little jar with distilled water and/or rose water until it is a paste. It lasts for a few days. You can use tap water, but it will not keep long, it will mold, so make this by the teaspoon for only one or two applications.

"Face Mayo." Rosemary's Perfect Face Cream is an emulsified blend of waters like rose water, distilled water and aloe with oils like coconut, almond, lanolin and a touch of beeswax. You can personalize your blends. I call the skin cream “Face Mayo” because it is made just like mayonnaise. I found it easy because I am used to making mayonnaise.

Here are some tips: you are blending waters and oils, which don’t usually blend well. Keep them about equal in quantity and temperature, at room temperature. You want them to blend, so one should not dominate. Put waters in a blender or food processor. Drizzle the oil into the waters slowly while blending until they are completely emulsified and look like mayonnaise.

Balancing waters and oils makes sense to me, as the goal is to hydrate your skin with waters and moisturize with oils. I keep a small jar in the bathroom and store the rest in the refrigerator. I do not label the refrigerated jar “Face Mayo”, for fear that my son will smear some on a sandwich.

I am excited about this new venture, because I am finally taking care of my skin. As a farmer, I am hard on my skin. I like to feel the soil, so I am not protecting my hands as often as I likely should, and my feet are barely slipped into garden clogs. My skin could use some TLC after all that hard work.

The first time I used the grains and moisturizer, my skin was instantly softer and balanced and made me want to start doing promotional videos for Rosemary. I look forward to washing my face in the evening. That makes me chuckle, as I’m really not the kind. It is like a little spa time every evening when I heat up my skin with a warm wash cloth, rub the gentle mask of grains over my skin and wipe it off with the wet wash cloth. Then massage in just a dab of the face mayo. I slather it on after showering and on my feet as often as possible. Life is good, skin is good.  

Winter at its best is a time of homey, cozy indulgences like this one. The real test will be giving my skin this loving, beneficial hydration when I start playing in the soil again in March. All of these skin-care programs..."May they serve to enhance your inner harmony and may you become enchanted with your own unique, radiant beauty.” Rosemary Gladstar, Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health

The Recipes

Cleansing Miracle Grains

Rosemary's Perfect Face Cream

Read a blog post I wrote about seeing presentations by Rosemary Gladstar at MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR and another one of her wonderful recipes: Make Echinacea Tincture

Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are one of six 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life on the farm's Facebook Page. For more about House in the Woods Farm, go to the House in the Woods website, and read all of Ilene's 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.


Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common, chronic disorder that causes inflammation in the linings of the joints. This causes pain, swelling, tenderness, and weakness in the joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis also commonly experience fatigue.

So how can you treat these painful and debilitating symptoms? Try these rheumatoid arthritis natural treatment options.

Top Rheumatoid Arthritis Natural Treatment Strategies

If you want to treat your rheumatoid arthritis naturally, you’ll want to focus on physical activity, mindfulness, and effective supplements.

1. Move More

While you might not feel like it due to pain, fatigue, and stiffness, increasing your physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your symptoms. Exercise can help to improve your quality of life, level of functioning, muscle mass, fitness, energy levels, and mood, for example.[1]

Moving more throughout the day is essential. You might find that using a pedometer or Fitbit to help you track your activity levels and motivate yourself to be more active is helpful.One recent study found that a pedometer-based physical-activity intervention led to increases in physical activity and decreases in fatigue that benefited people with rheumatoid arthritis.[2]

Certain types of exercise can be particularly beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Try these two gentle, enjoyable activities:

Tai chi can help you sleep better, increase your mood, boost your muscle strength, reduce stress, and benefit your cardiovascular and bone health, too.[3] It can improve physical symptoms (by improving your range of motion and functional capacity while decreasing disease-related disability[3]) and mental symptoms as well (reducing anxiety and depression, improving self-esteem, and providing social support, for example[4]). Sign up for a local Tai chi class to give this gentle, effective mind-body exercise a try.

Yoga is associated with improvements in general health perception, walking ability, pain levels, energy levels, and mood. It can lead to better physical and mental health, improved fitness and function, and higher quality of life in people with rheumatoid arthritis without any associated adverse events.[5]

2. Try Mindfulness

Mindfulness refers to a state of being where you are intentionally aware of the present moment. This involves paying close attention to the thoughts, sensations, and emotions you are experiencing in any given moment without judgment. People with rheumatoid arthritis who went through an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program experienced reduction in things like pain scores, tenderness in the joints, and morning stiffness compared to controls who didn’t do the program.[6]

You may consider doing a formal mindfulness-based stress reduction program (search for one in your area or ask your doctor about this type of program), but if that doesn’t feel right for you, there are many ways you can practice mindfulness in your daily life. Read our blog, 5 Fun Mindful Exercises to Improve Health and Well Being, for more information on mindfulness and how to simply and enjoyably cultivate mindfulness.

3. Get Some Supplement Support

There are many all-natural supplements that can help to treat your rheumatoid arthritis. Try these four to get started:

Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which help to fight inflammation, making it helpful for rheumatoid arthritis treatment. People with rheumatoid arthritis who supplemented with 2.1 g EPA and 1.4 g DHA daily experienced significant reductions in disease activity after nine months.[7] A review study found that people who supplemented with more than 2.7 g of omega 3s per day reduced their need for NSAIDs (over the counter pain relievers) significantly.[8]

Borage seed oil is rich in something called gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which has anti-inflammatory and immune system-modulating qualities. Borage seed oil supplementation (1.8 g of GLA daily for nine months) led to significant reductions in disease activity in one study.[7]

Turmeric is a spice with strong anti-inflammatory capabilities, which can help relieve inflammation in the joints and the pain and tenderness associated with it.[9] Learn more about taking turmeric supplements here.

Boswellia, also known as frankincense, can be an effective rheumatoid arthritis natural treatment. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory herb, which is in large part why it can be effective.[10,11] Typical dosage ranges from 300 to 400 mg three times per day.

Getting started

You don’t have to let rheumatoid arthritis symptoms control your life. Get started finding relief today by increasing your activity levels, practicing mindfulness, and supplementing with natural options like fish oil, borage seed oil, turmeric, or boswellia. By combining these three strategies, you’ll be well on your way to feeling better, both physically and mentally.


[1] Int J Clin Rheumtol. 2012 Oct 1;7(5):489-503.
[2] ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting. 2015 Sept 29. Abstract #3243.
[3] Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2012 Dec;14(6):598-603.
[4] J Clin Nurs. 2013 Nov;22(21-22):3053-61.
[5] J Rheumatol. 2015 Jul;42(7):1194-202.
[6] Ann Rheum Dis. 2015 Feb;74(2):472-4.
[7] Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:857456.
[8] Arch Med Res. 2012 Jul;43(5):356-62.
[9] Biofactors. 2013 Jan-Feb;39(1):69-77.
[10] Planta Med. 2006 Oct;72(12):1100-16.
[11] Clin Pharmacokinet. 2011 Jun;50(6):349-69.

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



For the past few days, I’ve been hearing alarming news on the radio about the Zika virus spreading into the United States.

The virus is spread by mosquitoes, like West Nile and malaria. From what is known so far, the virus does not spread from person to person like a cold, but by a mosquito biting an infected person and then on to another person who contracts the virus. 

I hate putting chemicals on my skin, so I use an essential oil spray that has proven to be very effective.  In the past couple years in the garden, none of us have been bitten even though my neighbor has a large pool of standing water. Even at a riverside campground in Louisiana, there were no mosquito bites.

Herbal Mosquito Repellent Spray


• 14 ounces Witch Hazel
• 10 ml (2 tsp) Citronella Essential Oil
• 10 ml (2 tsp) Eucalyptus Essential Oil
• 10 ml (2 tsp) Lemongrass Essential Oil


Mix ingredients together, shake well and pour into spray bottles(s). To store more than a month or two, it is best to keep the spray in a glass bottle or you can halve the recipe.

You’ll give the bottle a shake each time you spray. If it’s hot and you’re perspiring, re-apply every couple of hours.

Where to Find Ingredients and Equipment

The essential oils can be found in most health food stores, usually in the 10-ml bottles.  (Even Amazon has these oils; just make sure you buy pure, undiluted oils.) If you want to find the oils in larger quantity, there are sources online at New Directions Aromatics, Rainbow Meadow, Bulk Apothecary, and many others.

Never buy essential oils from a pyramid marketing company or from a catalog that lists all the oils at the same price.

Witch hazel can be found in most any drug store, usually in the first aid section, next to the peroxide.

Plastic spray bottles can be found in the personal care section, often near the travel size containers. Pretty glass bottles like ours are available in several catalogs, such as Pinetree Seeds and even on Amazon.

Zika Virus Update

Wanting to learn more about Zika, I Googled and found this quite scary information:

The Zika virus is likely to spread across nearly all of the Americas, the World Health Organization has warned. The infection, which causes symptoms including mild fever, conjunctivitis and headache, has already been found in 21 countries in the Caribbean, North and South America. It has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains and some countries have advised women not to get pregnant. No treatment or vaccine is available. New cases of the Zika virus, which is linked to birth defects, have been confirmed in the UK.

Sources: CNN · BBC · Time

Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s 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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