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Natural Health
Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

Homestead Wellness Practices

Coronavirus Advice

There is lot of confusing information out there for coronavirus. We use some very commonsense wellness practices to keep our family healthy and I wanted to share them with you.

Please seek professional medical attention if you or your children are ill — do not follow a blogger's advice. These ideas are for folks who are currently healthy and want to be cautious. It is important to have a well-functioning immune system.

Keep your fingernails short. This prevents bacteria from building up in your nails if you normally keep your nails long or have artificial nails. I keep mine very short, and I also keep my kids' nails short. I haven't heard any doctors mention this tip, but I think it's pretty important.

Wash hands frequently. This is vitally important. But we also have a spray bottle full of 5% acetic acid white vinegar spray (same as canning vinegar), which we spray on our hands after touching items from the store or post office. We keep one in the vehicle, too. Vinegar can kill bacteria and viruses! It can even kill film-forming bacteria, one of the hardest types of bacteria to get rid of. I spray vinegar on all packages from the store as well. Leave the vinegar on, don't wipe it off. I am not suggesting that vinegar replaces bleach and water for sanitizing. Do what you feel is best for your family and consult the CDC for best practices. Vinegar will not help with respiratory transmission of illness. Acetic Acid is listed in the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines under Ear, Nose & Throat Medicines.

Avoid sugary foods, sodas, artificial sweeteners, and highly processed foods. Learn to cook at home. Try making something simple like slow-cooked potatoes and chicken. Simple techniques and only a few ingredients can help a newbie cook navigate the overwhelming task of cooking at home. Slow-cooking is the easiest way to make meat dishes taste amazing. Try this simple recipe to start: Put a whole chicken in the slow-cooke or Crock Pot (or a few breasts), add water until it rises up about halfway on the chicken, sprinkle 2 teaspoons of curry powder (or chili powder if you don't like the taste of curry), a generous sprinkle of salt, add optional 2 to 3 large potatoes (chopped) and let it cook for 12 hours on low. I like to squeeze a little siracha sauce on, or sometimes add a can of tomato paste. This recipe is so forgiving because slow-cooking will always make meat taste wonderful, no matter what spices you put in. Now you have yourself a delicious supper that will probably last until the next day's lunch or if you live alone — for many meals.

Slow Cooker Meals

Add lots of fruits and veggies to your diet. Add some wholesome dried fruits such as prunes and apricots to your snacks as well as nuts and plain (no-sugar) yogurt. Whole foods are always a good idea over take-out food or processed microwave meals. If you model this behavior, your kids will mimic it, too.

Avoid alcohol if you are feeling sick. Alcohol suppresses the immune system and also disrupts sleep. If your body is trying to fight infection it needs adequate rest and a strong active immune system!

Eat raw garlic (with the powerful natural antibiotic, Allicin), raw ginger, and turmeric when feeling sick or even just a little off. Dr. Joe Mercola has a very thorough article about garlic's benefits that I highly recommend: Garlic:An All-Round Health Boosting Herb. Not only is garlic anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral, but best of all it contains a natural antibiotic that selects the bad bugs in your gut and doesn't harm the good ones (unlike antibiotics that are prescribed by the doctor, which annihilate everything in your gut — very hard on your body). Yes, garlic is smelly, but don't be tempted to take a garlic pill. As far as I know, garlic supplements do not have the potent allicin in them, unless they are freeze-dried. The cheapest way to get garlic benefits is to eat it raw! You need to smash or chop fresh garlic before consuming it for the allicin to be present. We put it on sourdough toast, mix it into eggs (after they've cooled from cooking), put it into salad dressing and fresh hummus.

Read only the most essential news. A lot of it is full of fear and even the facts are meant to scare you. Limit yourself to 5 minutes a day. Set an egg timer and stop looking at it after 5 minutes when it dings. I'm not saying don't be informed, but many people who read the news tend to get stressed out by it. Stress hastens illness.


Does Vinegar Kill Bacteria?

World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines

Dr. Mercola: Essential Nutrition to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus

Rosemary Hansen is an author, homesteading Mama, and a chef. She has spent the last 10 years “homesteading” in the city. She and her family have just started their off-grid homestead in rural British Columbia, Canada. Her books, Grow a Salad In Your City Apartment and Rosemary’s Natural Cosmetic Guide are a great way to ease into a healthy, pure lifestyle. You can connect with Rosemary at her website or on her YouTube channel. Read all of Rosemary'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.

Experience a Sensory Deprivation Float

Photo by Adobe Stock/vlorzor

Life is so busy, I often feel overstimulated. This past weekend was no exception, and I felt pulled in many different directions, with loads of stimulation. I worked at Ogden Publications’ annual Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. We brought in thousands of people ready to hear speakers, and see our vendors and hands-on classes.

I arrived home sore, super tired, overstimulated, and in need of some TLC, — I was zapped. I thought about what I could do to make a comeback. I have been in a sensory deprivation tank once before but I wasn’t sold, ergo the owner gave me a free visit. If I had time, I would have walked off the plane and into a tank but, alas, family comes first. I knew if there was ever a time I’d see results it’d be now, so I set an appointment for the next day.

Yes, You Really Float!

The tank is filled with 800-plus pounds of magnesium sulfate, which is just a fancy way to say it is filled with a lot of pharmaceutical-grade Epson salt. All the salt makes the water denser than your body, allowing you to float and reap the benefits of an Epson salt soak. If you listen close enough, you can hear the salt crystals crackling when you move.

I was super self-conscience the first visit and somewhat uncomfortable in a new place, not to mention buck naked to boot! I chose a pod and my first question was, “How do I breathe in there?” I was told there is a vent at the back of the unit to let air in and if I needed I could leave the lid open for my comfort. I’m not a super claustrophobic person; however, I indeed did feel a little air on my face.


I removed jewelry, covered a small scratch with petroleum jelly (for a natural alternative, you could use a beeswax jelly), and inserted molded earplugs before showering excluding conditioner. I prefer to wear ear plugs instead of drying out my ears super well after. They are great for sound reduction; on the other hand, you will need to listen up when the voice calmly instructs you to lie down and clear your mind. I grabbed the head floater as a crutch and draped the dry washcloth as instructed over the inside arm of the tank just in case I had to itch my face.

Inside a Sensory-Deprivation Tank

I hear saltwater stings if it gets in your eye or an open wound, and you will want to avoid shaving 12 to 24 hours before. For five minutes, I felt a tingling sensation on a small blemish I didn’t know was there. The head floater is not necessary, but nice to have for the first float. Some spas keep a spray bottle with water close for you to rinse saltwater out of your eye.

The pod has soft meditation music with controls and soft blue light on at the beginning and end of the float. I focused mostly on my breathing during my float; I believe I reached a meditative state. The temperature of the water is around 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit, about the same as our skin. It’s easy to stop feeling your body, which makes it much easier to reach your relaxed state. The best way to describe this feeling is that, if I didn’t know any better, I’d almost think it was just my brain floating in the water. I’m guessing this is the feeling of an altered state some people report.

I was ready to get out after my thoughts started to bounce around at the end of the float. I didn’t focus on my breathing the second time around. There was no rhyme or reason to my thoughts; I wanted to stay longer. Most pods offer a 60 minutes or a 90-minute option. Next time I’ll try the 90 minutes.


I walked into the tank with the thought that I might fall asleep; I do not fall asleep just anywhere. If you are the type to fall asleep in the theater, dentist, or car at a drop of a hat — there's a chance you might fall asleep while floating. I know some will question, what if. Floating takes away all pressure points off the body so you will have no reflex to flip over. However, most locations will have you sign a waiver covering several things, including recently dyed hair. Even as worn out as I was, I still did not fall asleep. Perhaps that’s just the magic of the float.

Keep in mind, very salty water can cause a lot of damage to everything it repeatedly comes in contact with. Go directly to the shower after stepping out of the tank. Take a thorough shower to wash off all salt. All the salt in my hair made it feel like I had used a whole bottle of hairspray. However, my hair was so soft after washing it.

The pod will start its recirculation routine after you exit, making it pass through the tank’s filtration and the UV disinfection system. After dressing, find a place to relax and acclimate yourself to the world around you. This is a good time to rehydrate, because the salty water will make you thirsty. You may notice an inner calm, which some call the afterglow. Enjoy!

Benefits of Saltwater Immersion Therapy

  • Reduced pain relief
  • Aids chronic fatigue
  • Helps PTSD
  • Increases dopamine and endorphin levels
  • Aids anxiety and depression
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Helps fibromyalgia
  • Aids hypertension
  • Helps arthritis
  • Helps athletes relax sore muscles to aid recovery
  • Improved learning
  • Enhanced creativity

Floating is not recommended for people with kidney disease, low blood pressure, epilepsy, any contagious diseases, open wounds, skin ulcers, or severe skin conditions. Unplug from technology, silence your phone and avoid drinking caffeine before for maximum benefit. If your hair is dyed, the water should run clear during washing before floating.

Tonya Olson is a digital content manager for Ogden Publications' magazine titles. She was born and raised in Northeast Kansas swimming in corn, jumping hay bales, and driving go-carts as a child. College took her to Arizona, life moved her to North Idaho, and her heart brought her back home. She’s an artist by nature, her usual outlet is her eye behind the lens of a camera. You can find her on Instagram. Outside the office, Tonya enjoys kayaking local waters, digging in the dirt and wrangling kiddos. 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.

Boost Immunity with Homemade Medicinal Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry and Jewelweed Patch 
The patch of elderberry and jewelweed

“Save some for me!” I yelled to the birds on my way back from the river. I don’t typically start my days yelling at animals, but that morning they happened to be pecking away at dark berries nestled in a tall bush, berries that I was hoping to pick later that week to make a syrup effective enough to chase away a cold or flu: elderberries.

If you’d asked me at 10 years old what I thought about elderberries, I would have told you what I knew in my stubborn heart to be true... Elderberries are evil. Every time my mother made me take elderberry tincture, I’d get sick. That was just a fact. It took some years to understand that rather than cause the illness, elderberries were actually helping to ease the symptoms, and moreover, speed up my recovery process. I didn’t realize I was already on the cusp of some cold, or stomach bug, as kids frequently are, but of course, my mother knew better. A cough here, a stomach ache there and we were sent to the medicine cabinet. A young brain, however, correlated two things: elderberries and illness.

Thankfully, I no longer feel that way. My new perspective holds that a life without elderberries would be a difficult life indeed. This season was the first in which I’ve had a more hands-on approach to the harvesting process, which only furthered my appreciation of the bushes themselves. For the gathering, I had to crawl along fallen tree trunks, through dense areas of jewelweed, and, as earlier mentioned, fight off the birds. 

Any herbal guide you get your hands on will praise elderberry for its ability to fight the common cold and flu, shorten the length of the illness and improve the general symptoms. Interestingly enough, I’ve found that modern science will say the same thing. Multiple studies (as cited below) have shown that elderberry syrup is especially good at fighting the flu. Across the board, patients were recovering faster than those not taking the syrup (1) and in one case, an elderberry and echinacea mixture was as effective as a conventional drug when taken at the earliest signs of sickness (3). It turns out that elderberries have specific compounds that hinder viruses from entering your cells, and also works to fight the virus from within during later stages of illness (4). That’s why it’s typically recommended that you take a form of elderberry at the first signs of a cold or flu, so as to prevent any further spread of the virus. 

The various methods of medicine making create something for everyone. I personally prefer the elderberry syrup to the tincture, as it is sweeter and can be taken with tea. The syrup process happens in two steps, first creating the initial elderberry juice, then combining it with honey to create the syrup.

My Mom De-stemming the Elderberries

Elderberry Juice

  1. Put elderberries (off stem) in a crockpot and fill with water until berries are just covered
  2. Let sit for 24 hours on low 
  3. Strain and jar up the juices (the remaining pulp can be composted (we fed ours to the chickens))
  4. Can the jars if you made a big batch (this helps to preserve it for longer). If not, skip this step

Time to make syrup! 

There are many recipes out there so feel free to experiment and find the one that works best for you. Our recipe is as follows:

Elderberry Syrup


  • 2 cups elderberry juice 
  • 1/2 cup honey 
  • 2 tbsp brandy


  1. Heat the elderberry juice and honey together, do not boil - just combine
  2. Remove from heat and add brandy 
  3. Continue to stir for 30 seconds 

That’s it! While bottling this syrup, remember that honey settles as it cools, so it’s best to use a ladle and scoop from the bottom up, otherwise your bottles will lack consistency, with some being much sweeter than others. Unfortunately, I speak from experience here.

Final Product - Elderberry Syrup
Final product: elderberry syrup

This season’s elderberries came in handy in many instances of near-sickness during the cold season. Living in a farm store where dozens of people come and go daily makes it that much easier for me and the family to get sick. I’m thankful for that patch of dark berried shrubs tucked behind a small forest of jewelweed on the edge of our path. I’m thankful for the animals that help disperse the seeds and create more patches just like this one for others to enjoy and benefit from. On our third and final day of harvesting, berry-stained and exhilarated, my mom suggested we take them all, but, in the spirit of reciprocity, I opted to leave some for the birds.


  1. Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004). Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), 132–140.
  2. Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182. doi:10.3390/nu8040182
  3. Rauš, K., Pleschka, S., Klein, P., Schoop, R., & Fisher, P. (2015). Effect of an Echinacea-Based Hot Drink Versus Oseltamivir in Influenza Treatment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Double-Dummy, Multicenter, Noninferiority Clinical Trial. Current therapeutic research, clinical and experimental, 77, 66–72. doi:10.1016/j.curtheres.2015.04.001)
  4. Torabian, G., Valtchev, P., Adil, Q., & Dehghani, F. (2019). Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Journal of Functional Foods, 54, 353–360. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2019.01.031

Mackenzie Varney is an apprentice herbalist on Nezinscot Farm in Maine. She has degrees in biology and health and has lived and worked on farms all her life. Connect with her on Instagram, and read all of Mackenzie’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.

Roundup Trials: 2019 in Review and Monsanto's Legal Road Ahead

 Tractor Spraying Pesticide Glyphosate

Photo by Pixabay/maxmann

As you have likely heard by now, the last year and a half has been a rough ride for Monsanto legally speaking.

Ever since August 10th, 2018, when the San Francisco County Superior Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, DeWayne Johnson, there has been a flurry of litigation against Monsanto. Surprisingly, the cases are being decided against the company.

Today, let's take a look at the Roundup trials of 2019, and more importantly take a look at the road ahead in 2020 for Roundup and those impacted by Roundup exposure. 

Here’s the deal, there is too much for one individual to keep up with!

So to get a thorough look into the matter, I reached out to Carey Gillam, author of Whitewash- The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science, and research director for US Right To Know (USRTK), one of the leading sources of information on Roundup litigation.

With her help, let's take a look at how the Roundup Trials have fared so far, and where they will likely go in the years ahead.

The 2019 Roundup Trials: Year in Review

This is crazy, but of the 1,000’s of cases filed against Monsanto. Only 2 were publicly settled in 2019. I suppose that is the legal system for you.

The two trials decided against Monsanto in 2019, in regards to the cancer risks of their Roundup product were:  

March 19th, 2019: a jury unanimously decided that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in the development of Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. May 13, 2019: a married couple, Alva Pilliod and Alberta Pilliod, were initially awarded $2 billion for damages suspected to be caused by Roundup exposure.

Although only 2 trials were decided in 2019. As of May 2019, there were more than 13,000 plaintiffs waiting to have their cases heard. Many trials were postponed until January of 2020. Needless to say, roundup exposure lawyers have been busy!

To get some clarity on the issue I asked Carey Gillan of USRTK how she would summarize the Roundup exposure trials of 2019, and if there was anything that stood out to her. This was her response:

“The Pilliod and Hardeman trials were significant because they continued to expose internal Monsanto documents that showed the company engaged in years of deceptive tactics designed to hide the risks of its herbicides. The juries in those trials, found, just as the jury did in the first trial, that Monsanto should pay punitive damages because its conduct in failing to warn consumers of the risks was so egregious.” - Carey Gillan, Author, Journalist and Research Director of USRTK.

Carey Gillan brings up a point which is too often overlooked by "nay-sayers" that still claim that Roundup is completely safe. Monsanto's hid the risks of using their herbicide product. This is one of the biggest factors which is resulting in decisions against Monsanto.

As a landscaper myself, I simply can not comprehend why the company would pretend like there is zero risk in using a product designed to kill organic life. I myself always thought it was common sense that over exposure to a chemical based herbicide, including Roundup could be harmful and opted to use organic weed killer instead. Why a company would over hype the safety of a product is beyond me.

Lady Justice With Sword

Photo by Pixabay/Edward Lich

DOJ Charges Roundup Attorney for Extortion

One of the more notable incidents that occurred in 2019 in regards to the Roundup trials, was the arrest and charges brought against Attorney Timothy Litzenburg. Litzenburg was on the legal team which won the landmark case on behalf of DeWayne Johnson in 2018.

Litzenburg allegedly told an opposing attorney that he would “take a dive” and “ask the wrong questions” in a new case similar to his first against Roundup in 2018. He is alleged to have offered this service for a consulting fee at the “very reasonable price” of $200 million dollars. Which would have left the individuals that hired him to sue for their damages with nothing.  

2020 and the Road Ahead: The Battle for Justice Continues

As if the 13,000 plaintiffs who had cases pending against Monsanto in 2019 wasn’t enough. Currently, in January 2020, there are over 40,000 people with cases filed against Monsanto with allegations of harm caused by the Roundup product. Needless to say, things are still looking bad for Monsanto, a company now owned by Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

Many of the trials which began in 2019 were postponed for various reasons by Monsanto’s, attorneys and the courts. However, many trials are slated to be heard in January of 2020, but as of the writing of this article, none have been decided.

To find out more about the road ahead, I asked Carey Gillan how she thought the 2020 Roundup trials would go.

Here is what she had to say: 

“We are likely to see a major settlement of most, if not all, of the Roundup litigation in the near future. Both sides would like to see the litigation settled before Bayer’s annual shareholders’ meeting in April. Both sides have a lot to lose in the uncertainty that lies with the appellate courts.” -Carey Gillan, Author, Journalist and Research Director of USRTK.

It’s true many cases get settled before trial. Simply put, having a decision now, is usually more favorable for most people than uncertainty. With many of the Roundup trials already dragging on for longer than one year, most people would be happy to see an end to the stress and hassle of court. 

The Future of USRTK 

One of the biggest resources I have found for researching the Roundup exposure trials as they develop is the US Right to Know, non-profit group. Being that Carey Gillan is the research director of USRTK, I definitely wanted to get her perspective on the issue.

She and the USRTK non-profit have done, and continue to do, a tremendous amount of research regarding pesticides including Roundup. As well as GMO’s, artificial sweeteners and the companies that produce them.

Carey Gillam would like to let readers know that USRTK relies on donations to continue their work. Stating: 

“US Right to Know is a small non-profit with very limited resources. We are in need of donations, large or small, to help us continue to pay for the documents we obtained from court files, which we provide free to the public, and to allow us to continue to do the reporting that keeps the public, and other members of the press, informed.” - Carey Gillan, Author, Journalist and Research Director of USRTK.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of the slow, sloth like process of the American legal system. The fact that the people continue to grind against one of the largest corporations in the world, and win, is pretty astounding. Perhaps these trials will lead to a future where corporations who knowingly place the public at risk, will begin to pay the price.

There is an age old saying that I am reminded of "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12

In a world where so much seems to be going wrong, these trials are a beacon that shows justice is still alive and well. Justice may be slow, but when the people actually focus their efforts. When we don’t give into the distractions put forth by the same system that is causing harm. We can make the right thing happen. Like labeling GMOs, which took many years to happen, and finally came to pass in near silence.

Douglas Dedrick is landscaper, documentarian and environmental law writer. When he’s not looking for things to investigate, he is usually writing articles about lawn care. Connect with him at Healing Law, and read all of Douglas’ MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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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.

Make Natural Beeswax Balms

homemade oil balm 

Homemade balms are one of my favorite natural skincare products. Easy to make, a treat to use, safe, healthy, and wonderfully versatile, they will become a staple in your skincare routine — or a favorite thing to give as a gift — once you get into the swing of making them. 

Balms generally have two main components: oil and beeswax, although people who are allergic to beeswax may use alternatives such as soy wax. 

You can use any natural cold-pressed oils such as olive, almond, avocado, and even coconut if you live in a warm climate. 

Then comes the beeswax part. Generally, the more beeswax you add, the harder your balm will be. I like to have a proportion of 5 parts oil and 1 part beeswax. To measure with precision, I have a digital kitchen scale. 

It's nice to add a few drops of essential oils for good smell and/or relaxing or refreshing properties. I have made olive oil-based balm with menthol and eucalyptus essential oil that smells very invigorating. 

You can also make your own herb-scented oils and use them in making balms (or for other purposes). To do that, place oil in a jar in a sunny spot and add a few sprigs of fresh or dry aromatic herbs such as rosemary, mint, sage, and so on. Leave for a few days to a week, or until the oil smells as strongly as you wish. I am currently using a balm based on grapeseed oil imbued with lavender I had picked and dried myself. It smells divine!

Combine oil and beeswax in a small pot on very low heat and stir continuously until you reach uniform consistency. Pour into glass jars. If you use pretty ones, they can make a great gift. Allow to set at room temperature before using.

Use your balm on any bit of your skin that really needs some thorough care and lots of moisture - cracked heels, dry elbows, chapped lips, rough hands after working in the garden. It works especially great during the winter.

Give your feet an intense beauty treatment: before bedtime, slather natural oil balm, put on cotton socks, and leave until morning. After about a week, your feet will begin shedding dry, dead, cracked skin at a pace that will surprise you. 

Enjoy the new tool in your toolbox of natural homemade personal care! 

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband, and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author PageConnect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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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.

Managing Lyme or Possible Tick-Transmitted Diseases with CBD Products

 John Ivanko with Hemp Plants

Getting Lyme disease from a black-legged (deer) tick bite might very well become North America’s version of malaria that runs rampant in tropical and subtropical climates. True, Lyme disease, caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii transferred by a tick bite, is a completely different disease than malaria, caused by a parasite transmitted to humans by being bitten by an infected mosquito. But both can have devastating impacts on quality of life. And there is currently no vaccine against either disease.

Like most homesteaders, my wife Lisa Kivirist, son, and I spend a lot of time outdoors. We forage for morel mushrooms in spring, harvest wood throughout the summer months, and walk back and forth from our farmhouse to our organic growing fields at Inn Serendipity to harvest fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. We live in what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) would probably call a “tick habitat.” And we definitely don’t apply insecticides as advocated by the CDC for tick prevention. Mentioned in my previous article about protection from Lyme disease, we have found some insect repellents to have worked for us so far.

If you get bit by a tick, you may find the bullseye rash often associated with tick bites that carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Sometimes you’ll find a doctor who prescribes a short-term dose of Doxycycline antibiotics immediately after you think you may have been bitten by a tick (even without locating a bullseye rash) that may possibly be carrying Lyme disease or another tick-related disease. Many people, however, never see the bullseye rash. And it’s my personal experience that it can may be extremely hard to convince a healthcare provider to prescribe antibiotics as a precaution. The flu-like symptoms or other peculiar symptoms of tick-related diseases leave many doctors befuddled. My son had just one swollen right knee, off and on, for years before we had to switch healthcare provider who was willing to make a clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease and treat him.

The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi carried by the ticks is quite stealthy. While blood tests are available, they’re not very accurate. The more I asked around, the more fellow farmers and homesteaders seemed to describe symptoms similar to mine, some living with the joint pain, headaches or general fatigue for years.

Living With, and Managing, Lyme Disease with CBD Products

While the CDC and many doctors feel the Doxycycline antibiotics will completely kill off the harmful tick-transmitted bacteria, a swelling number of patients disagree, plagued with chronic joint pain or other nerve-related issues. It’s gotten so bad, that so-called “Lyme literate doctors” offer special care and treatment for patients with Lyme, treatment often not covered by traditional health insurance. Entire books have also been written about different protocols for treating chronic Lyme disease.

A relatively new course of management of some Lyme symptoms are various cannabidiol (CBD) products. If you decide to try CBD, you’ll need to experiment on what works for you based on the concentration of CBD in the particular product, your weight and body chemistry, and what you’re trying to treat. CBD is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, the FDA provides no recommended dosages.

Thanks to the legalization of the growing and sale of hemp in 2018, there has been an explosive growth in hemp, the non-psychoative cousin of cannabis. Many homesteaders have embraced growing hemp, in part, because the new crop recycles nutrients and reduces soil erosion, and because it can be more profitable than growing carrots and tomatoes for market.

“CBD products give people an opportunity to feel healing effects for a wide variety of ailments, using a natural plant extract, that works very well for many,” says FL Morris, President and Founding Member of South Central Wisconsin Hemp Cooperative. “CBD gives a healthy, non-addictive, alternative solution or supplement to prescription and over the counter drugs that do not have local organic farmers creating the source ingredients.”

So far, I consider myself lucky, since I have a doctor who is assisting with some pharmaceutical medication related to managing my odd nervous system functioning. However, I’ve also found some success with several new CBD products now on the market. Consult with your doctor before trying CBD products, since certain medications could have some interactions.

CBD and Honey Ache and Pain Relief from Life Elements

For several years, I struggled with joint pain in my shoulders. It wasn’t caused by over doing it in the growing fields. I fact, the pain suddenly set in after a stressful life event. Stress most likely triggered an episode of Lyme disease, causing the dormant bacteria to suddenly be active and lead to painful and inflamed joints.

CBD and Honey Ache and Pain Relief rub from Life Elements was quite effective at reducing inflammation and ease my shoulder pain. I’ve turned to it regularly when I have seasonal flair-ups of joint pain. Life Elements uses full-spectrum, organic, non-gmo, hemp-derived CBD grown in the US.

CBD Hemp Extract from Luce Farm Wellness 

Luce Farm Wellness Hemp Extract and Other CBD Products

On a 200-year-old, Vermont Certified Organic farm in Stockbridge, Vermont, Rebecca and Joe Pimentel have focused on full-spectrum hemp-infused wellness products. Luce Farm Wellness hemp-infused Body Balm and Warming Rub has helped ease some of my joint pain in shoulders and knees.

I’ve just started experimenting with their full-spectrum Luce Farm Wellness CBD Hemp Extract, using drops from their dropper bottle in my morning coffee. Use of the Hemp Extract may help in better managing my mild, but on-going, odd neurological sensations.

“It is very important for consumers to ask for or look up a certificate of analysis (COA) for any CBD extract product,” advises Morris. “This is becoming available as a QR code on the packaging, should be presented by the retailer, or listed on the manufacturer's website. If the COA is not available, do not buy it. The product could have no CBD content.”

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural RenaissanceHomemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Both are speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, a 10.8-kW solar power station and millions of ladybugs. Read all of John’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.

Peppermint Foot Chiller for Tired, Hot Feet


Folks, it doesn’t have to be summertime for you to experience dog-tired, hot, sweaty feet.  Just ask anyone who routinely spends a lot of time on their feet . . . landscapers, brick masons, carpenters, massage therapists, sales clerks, waiters, parents of young children, runners, school teachers, hair stylists, exercise instructors, nurses, etc.  Their poor tootsies take a beating all year long! 

Your feet are your foundation – ever think about that?  They literally connect you with the earth, stabilize your being, take you from point A to point B, and enable you to jump, run, ski, bike, swim, and enjoy life, often with grace and style.  It’s very difficult to get along without them.  At the end of the day, after being on them for hours, your poor fatigued, throbbing, sweaty, swollen “barking dogs” are in need of refreshment, rejuvenation, and relief!  For all the support they give, regular soothing care is recommended to keep them (and you) happy!  In this blog, I offer a simple, natural, soothing, aromatic solution that you can make in 5 minutes flat – a few minty spritzes will leave you with comfortable, cool feet so you can step lively once again!

I’m a practicing foot reflexologist and the DIY spritzer recipe below is one that I use nearly every day in my treatments.  I spray a light mist on my client’s feet and lower legs at the end of their session and massage it in real good!  They’re usually quite relaxed after 75 minutes of foot work, so this minty-fresh spray perks them up a bit, hydrates their skin (which is often dry), and sends them out the door with feet feeling ultra-revived!

Bonus uses?  You bet!  This spray doubles as a superior room freshener – perfect to deodorize both bathrooms and mud rooms where stinky shoes are stored.  Simply spritz into the air a few times (and into shoes, too) and say good-bye to staleness and odor. 

Make yourself a batch, won’t you?  This recipe is also perfect for gift-giving – design a decorative custom label with directions, ingredients, and date made.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love to receive a bottle of this pleasingly fragrant spritzer.

Lini-Mint: Peppermint Foot Chiller Recipe

Refreshing herbal relief is a quick spray away with this super-easy-to-make foot chillin’ formula.  Vodka, along with peppermint and lavender essential oils, combine to form a menthol liniment of moderate intensity, with a cool-to-cold energy that evaporates rapidly, removing heat along with sweat and odor and leaving you feeling footloose and fancy-free.  I recommend stashing a small bottle in your gym bag to use as a postworkout foot refresher – especially if there’s no time to shower – it’ll put some spring back in your step!


  • 1 cup unflavored vodka (use either 80- or 100-proof)
  • 30 drops peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil (optional, but blends beautifully with peppermint, and adds anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing properties, too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • 1 8-oz dark-glass spray-top bottle


Combine the vodka, peppermint and lavender (optional) essential oils, and glycerin in your spritzer bottle and shake vigorously to blend. 

Label and store on a counter (out of the sun) or in a cool cabinet.  No refrigeration is required, but chilling the formula makes it even more cooling. 

For maximum freshness and potency, please use within 1 year.

To Apply:  Shake well before each use as the essential oils will naturally separate out and float to the top.  Immediately spray on bare feet and lower legs whenever they’re feeling weary, hot, and generally uncomfortable.  Give feet and legs a good rub down.  If you can coerce a friend or family member to do this for you, all the better!  Allow feet to air-dry before putting on socks or hosiery.

Yield:  Approximately 1 cup

Recipe excerpted from “Hands-On Healing Remedies: 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies,” (c2012 by Stephanie Tourles).  Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Stephanie Tourles is a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist, and gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism. She has also written many other books, including her best-selling, Organic Body Care RecipesHands-On Healing RemediesRaw Energy In a GlassRaw Energy; Pure Skin Care; and Naturally Bug-Free (all available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store). Visit her website to learn more, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

Hands-On Healing Remedies-cover photo jpg


Stephanie Tourles offers 150 original recipes for herbal balms, oils, salves, liniments and other topical ointments you can make yourself to treat a wide range of conditions, from headaches and backaches to arthritis, tendonitis, fungal infections, anxiety, cuts and scrapes, insomnia, splinters, and cracked skin. These preparations are all-natural, effective, safe and fun to prepare. Take control of your well-being and stock your family’s medicine cabinet with your own custom-made healing remedies.

 Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.



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

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