Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dryer Sheets!

Do you use dryer sheets or some other product to "freshen" your laundry and reduce static? Consider eliminating this product from your home to save money, reduce pollution in the environment, and improve your health.

Dryer sheets are yet another product created by companies to make money, and they are toxic. If your clothes come out stiff and full of static, your problem is likely that you are over-drying and/or using a toxic clothing detergent. When clothes are washed in these substances (as is the case with most publicly-traded brands on the market), the build up on clothes can cause all types of issues to occur - including static build up and stiff laundry. Most laundry detergents found in the grocery store are toxic to the environment, your health and are a petroleum-based product. These detergents also contain other ingredients such as optical brighteners, ethylene glycol ethers and other solvents, alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), surfactants called ethanolamines, and chlorine and ammonia in combination which cause allergic reactions and other health issues.

Natural laundry detergents should never cause static cling or other problems and your laundry should come out static-free and smelling fresh and clean without chemicals and artificial scents.
To keep your laundry smelling fresh and clean and ensure you are using a safe cleaner, two high-quality brands to recommend are brands such as Biokleen and Nature Clean. These products are safe, non-toxic, and good for the environment. They are concentrated, so a little goes a long way. A box of Biokleen powdered laundry detergent (60 load size) should last at least a couple of months for a family of three.

For a home-made solution to laundry detergent that will keep your laundry clean, fresh, and eliminate the need for dryer sheets, visit the Family Homestead. Essential oils can also be added to your laundry mixtures to add a fresh, clean, safe scent if desired.

For more information on making your washing machine green, visit The Daily Green and Green Your.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Washing Your Hair Too Much?

Do you wash your hair everyday? Most Americans are overly obsessed with cleanliness, showering, and washing their hair - so much so, people generally wash their hair at least once daily. But is that too much?

According to hair stylists and dermatologists - once daily is actually too much. Washing hair that often removes beneficial oil from hair (called sebum) and can damage it. So when did we start washing so often? Well, an article published in the New York Times from 1908 recommended that women who were washing only once a month begin to do so twice monthly instead. In later years, television ads began selling shampoo to consumers, and the trend of washing more often increased. After all, shampoo companies were starting to make big money selling these products. Soon, the hair industry exploded with all types of must-have hair products from hair spray to hair gels, and hair "mousse" to enable you to make your style just so. Hair ads convinced us that if the celebrities featured in them had beautiful hair from using these products, so could we. Guess what? The advertising worked! And now thousands of multi-billion dollar hair product industries exist to make us look better than we would if we didn't use their products.

So what's the solution? The bottom line is that less washing over time allows your oil glands to return to natural levels of oil production. It may take some weeks to regulate this, as after you have spent years and years washing those oils away everyday, the oil production is irregular. But in the end, it is healthier for your hair and the environment. Less product means less manufacturing processes and containers and packaging to dispose of - or to go into a landfill and cause havoc on the soil, water, and ultimately, air.

How often should you wash, then? According to Michelle Hanjani, dermatologist at Columbia University, "If you wash your hair every day, you're removing the sebum. Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil," she says. She recommends that patients wash their hair no more than two or three times a week.

Also, when you do wash, try to avoid caustic, commercial shampoos. There are some good quality organic and natural shampoos on the market. Read labels. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, don't buy it. Avoid anything with emulsifiers, formaldehyde, and laureth sulfates. Here are a few ideas for good, homemade shampoo.

For more information on ingredients in specific brands of shampoo, hair care, and other personal care products, visit the Cosmetics Database.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vegan Diets - Unhealthy and Bad for the Environment

Do you eat a vegan diet and use vegan products? If so, you may be harming your health and the environment in ways you are unaware. Consider the vast amount of products consumers use and demand that are necessary for the vegan lifestyle - foods containing grains, corn, and soy such as food, personal care products, and household items - and you begin to get an idea of just how widespread the use and consumption of vegan foods and products really is.

Proponents of the vegan diet claim these studies are invalid and that vegans are often healthier than meat eaters, but these suppositions fail to take into account the following factors:
  1. The majority of soy eaten in developed countries such as the U.S. is processed, altered, and highly toxic to our bodies and the earth. The same is true for many grains and corn.
  2. Claims are continually made that Asian people have consumed soy for centuries and enjoy robust health. What is seldom mentioned is the fact that Asian people consume fermented soy (miso and tempeh, for example), and in much smaller quantities than people in developed countries (such as the U.S.).
  3. The fact that most meat consumed by citizens in developed societies is the conventional, factory-farmed variety - the very type of meat which directly contributes to poor state of health in humans. Animals from these operations are given feed that promotes disease - grains, corn, and soy (and much of this feed is also genetically-altered). Then, farmers administer antibiotics to counteract illness. These animals are also given hormones to speed up growth and maximize profits. All of these substances are in the meat you eat - and cause your health to decline. Not only does conventionally meat wreak havoc directly on human health, but the methods used in farming are also exceedingly damaging to the environment.
Human beings need healthy meat to obtain proper nutrition from a clean source - sustainable-raised, pasture and grass-fed meat from animals that are allowed to roam and eat proper types of feed - not commercially-produced meat coming from abused animals in the worst possible conditions. Unfortunately, the factory-farmed meat represents the bulk of what is available on the market, is consumed by the majority of meat eaters, and is the culprit of those very illnesses and diseases which vegans blame on eating meat in the first place.

Traditionally, vegans rely heavily on soy foods to supplement protein in the diet. Research reveals that soy consumption has a negative impact both on human health and the ecosystem. The majority of soy produced is grown with farming methods which use genetic modification, chemical fertilizers, and toxic pesticides. Soy farming is also responsible for the destruction of important pristine lands such as rainforest area in the Amazon.

Another commonly used food in vegan diets is grains. Like soy, the majority of grains produced use farming methods which have a negative impact on the environment. Since the market explosion over the last several decades of vegan and vegetarian foods in food stores, a proliferation of processed soy and grain products requiring packaging materials are now available which also contribute to more garbage and toxins in the environment. Corn is in the same category, and is found in many vegan foods as well as thousands and thousands of other food, household, and personal care products on the market.

It could even be construed that anyone not supporting sustainable farming agriculture for production of food, even those who don't eat meat, are directly contributing to the increase of more pollution and destruction to our environment.

Diets void of meat proteins and replete with plant variety proteins are lacking in many nutrients necessary for optimal health. Soy can inhibit absorption of vital nutrients in the body, and can cause or contribute to deficiencies such as Vitamin B. Parents who impose a vegan diet on their growing children are also believed to commit a gross disservice to the health of their offspring. Professor Lindsay Allen of the U.S. Agricultural Research Service stated, "There have been sufficient studies clearly showing that when women avoid all animal foods, their babies are born small, they grow very slowly, and they are developmentally retarded - possibly permanently." Lindsay is particularly pointed toward those who eliminate fats from children's diets such as meat and dairy foods. "If you are talking about feeding young children, pregnant women, and lactating women, I would go so far as to say it is unethical to withhold these foods [animal source foods] during that period of life. There's absolutely no question that it's unethical for parents to bring up their children as strict vegan."

For more information about the health risks associated with eating a vegan diet, read Death by Veganism by Nina Planck from the New York Times.

For more information on the dangers of eating soy, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Friday, March 20, 2009

More "Health Tips" Rewritten

What are types of information do you trust from health authorities? Here is a "health tip" found on the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia web site:

"Instead of chips, candy, pastry or sodas, reach for healthier alternatives such as: flavored rice cakes, air-popped popcorn, low-fat yogurt, pudding prepared with non-fat milk, seltzer splashed with some fruit juice, graham crackers spread with low-fat cream cheese and jam, or frozen pops made with 100 percent juice".

All of the foods recommended as a replacement for the aforementioned junk foods are no better than chips, candy, pasties or sodas. Let's examine why that is:
  • flavored rice cakes - processed and probably full of chemicals, devoid of nutrients, possibly genetically-modified
  • air-popped popcorn - devoid of nutrients and likely genetically-modified
  • low-fat yogurt - processed, pasteurized, likely full of chemicals and sugar, and has had its fat removed and is therefore indigestible to the human body, possibly contains hormones and antibiotics
  • pudding prepared with non-fat milk - processed, likely full of chemicals and sugar, very low in nutrients pasteurized, and has had its fat removed and is indigestible, possibly contains hormones and antibiotics, very low in nutrients
  • seltzer splashed with some fruit juice - processed, full of sugar, and likely contains pesticides (from the fruit) and is completely devoid of nutrients
  • graham crackers spread with low-fat cream cheese and jam - processed, possibly genetically modified, full of sugar, has had its fat lowered and is indigestible, and likely contains hormones or antibiotics
  • frozen pops made with 100% juice - full of sugar, pasteurized, and devoid of nutrients
This advice, reviewed by a medical doctor (Patrick S. Pasquariello, M.D.), couldn't be farther from healthy. Yet this information is posted on a medical web site that likely experiences a lot of traffic from the public - and the people reading this are dangerously uninformed about the dangers of processed foods and are made to believe by medical "experts" that they are "healthy" snacks to consume. Use caution when you read something that says a processed food is healthy to consume. The only healthy foods to consume are whole, unprocessed, organic foods. You may be causing health problems to occur - such as heart disease, Diabetes, obesity, and cancer - without even being aware.

Better choices for snacks include the following:
  • Raw cheeses
  • Raw nuts
  • Fresh organic fruits and vegetables
  • Sprouted grain, organic breads with almond butter, raw butter, or a dollop of organic, 100% fruit spread
  • Homemade yogurts and cheeses from raw milk
These snacks come from whole foods, are delicious, and give your body the nutrition and support it needs. Can you say the same about the other alternatives?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's the Word on Supplements?

Do you take supplements for preventative health measures? Many people do, and there has been an increase in consumers purchasing supplements over the last three decades. But do you know whether the dietary supplement you are taking is actually a quality product or right for you?

According to a recent study of multivitamin use among older women, these pills were found to do "nothing" to prevent heart disease or cancer. The study's lead author, researcher Marian Neuhouser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, offered this advice: "Get nutrients from food. Whole foods are better than dietary supplements," Neuhouser said.

In general, we should be getting our nutrients from whole foods - and that's great advice. The problem is, many doctors, government agencies, and organizations who conduct studies on supplements fail to acknowledge the following factors:
  1. That the foods we eat are not as rich in naturally-occurring nutrients as they need to be for health due to processing, soil erosion, water, and air pollution. Because of this, people need supplementation in their diets.
  2. Supplements used by the majority of people are not of the high quality standard they should be in order to actually deliver results in fighting diseases like cancer and heart disease. When quality supplements used for the correct purpose are used, results are usually favorable - unfortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule.
  3. Many people take supplements without guidance or knowledge of the product's quality, efficacy, or appropriate use. Dietary supplements can be produced in many different ways and the manner in which the supplement is produced is of the utmost importance. For instance, many vitamin and nutrient supplements are synthetically produced in a laboratory without co-factors or phyto-nutrients present. The human body needs these substances to recognize and use vitamins and nutrients. Vitamins and nutrients taken in synthetically-produced solutions and supplements are not absorbed properly by the human body. Always choose whole-food, organically-produced products.
  4. A great deal of people who take dietary supplements are also taking pharmaceutical medications which always counteract the effectiveness of any natural supplement - and the body's ability to effectively use the supplement's nutrients or herbal qualities. Drugs are known to deplete the body of nutrients and immune system function. In many cases, natural supplements and a change in lifestyle - not drugs - can heal the body sufficiently. Proper guidance from a knowledgeable practitioner can ensure the success of your treatment.
If you are going to take a supplement, to avoid dangerous side-effects such as overdosing on a particular vitamin or mineral, wasting money on a product that is not quality or is not effective in alleviating your medical issue, always consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner.

Medical doctors can be a good resource for this type of consultation, however, many medical doctors do not fully understand the tenets of nutrition in health and tend to prescribe drugs rather than take a natural approach to treatment.

Find a good practitioner who understands the human body's reaction to malnourishment - a problem experienced by more people than medical science cares to acknowledge in the modern world. Good practitioners for natural healing are the following: naturopathic, chiropractic, osteopathic, homeopathic, or Chinese Medicine practitioners. Do your research and make sure these individuals are well-versed in nutrition.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Are Raw Foods Always Healthy?

Do you eat a lot of raw foods? Eating raw foods is an important part of a healthy diet. However, if you have a toxic, unhealthy digestive system - which many people have who live in developed countries because of a continual diet of processed foods - raw foods are not as easy to absorb and can go through the intestinal tract being mostly undigested.

Consider your own health issues before embarking on a diet which may include a lot of raw foods. If you are a person who has typically eaten a lot of processed foods in your life, you may not be getting the benefit out of eating raw foods due to an unhealthy digestive tract unless you conduct some detoxification. Detoxification helps your body to remove harmful substances and toxins that prevent your body from functioning at optimal levels. If you are toxic, certain types of healthy measures you take may go by the way side and waste time and money. Keep in mind that if the digestive system is not functioning properly, it cannot absorb raw foods as easily. Stick to cooked foods until your digestion is in order.

Spring is an excellent time for detoxification as we are coming out of winter and cold and flu season. Detoxification should be performed on an individual basis and with the help of a knowledgeable health care practitioner. Avoid going to the health food store and guessing about which product to purchase. You may be unaware as to whether it is the correct substance your body needs. Find out through a consultation with a practitioner who is experienced in natural treatments and proper detoxification protocols.

For more information on detoxification and the importance of conducting this activity, visit Holistic Med.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Good Sources of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids

Are you getting enough Omega 3s in your diet? With the pervasive, processed diet and poor eating habits of citizens in developed countries, many individuals are not getting adequate amounts of this essential fatty acids from healthy sources. Here are some healthy foods from where you can obtain Omega 3s:
  • Fish - cold water, oily varieties such as salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, and sardines
  • Flax seeds (freshly ground up) or flax seed oil (raw)
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts
  • Kiwifruit
  • Black raspberries
  • Lingonberry
  • Pasture-raised chickens, turkeys, and ducks - those fed a diet of grasses, worms, and insects
  • Eggs from pasture-raised poultry and other birds
  • Grass-fed meats and lamb
  • Raw milk and cheese from cows that are grass-fed
  • Organic butter from grass-fed cows - check your local dairies. Good store brands are Lurpak and Kerrygold
It is extremely important that you obtain Omega 3s only from meat and dairy products that originate from grass-fed and pasture-raised poultry. Birds and animals who are fed grains, soy, and corn naturally have a lower Omega 3 content and a higher Omega 6 content - the consumption of which is associated with the development of inflammatory conditions in the body such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many others.

Omega 3 essential fatty acids are crucial in the maintenance of various body systems including brain development in infants and children, cardiovascular systems, and help prevent cancer.

For more information on Omega 3s and the role they play in health, visit The University of Maryland Medical site.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Using Water More Efficiently

Here are some suggestions for saving water and money on your water bill:
  • Use fixtures that are water efficient. Look for the WaterSense label on products to help locate products and programs that use water more efficiently. Visit this page on the EPA's site for more information about WaterSense.
  • Repair leaks in faucets. Leaks cost thousands of dollars in wasted water annually. Visit this EPA
  • Take showers instead of baths, and limit your time. On the average, showers use 10 - 25 gallons of water while baths use about 70.
  • When doing laundry, always run a wash that is full. Partial loads waste water. If you are in the market for a new washer, purchase a high efficiency washer for maximum savings on water and bills.
  • When doing dishes, always run a wash that is full. If you wash by hand, don't allow water to run unless you are rinsing.
site page to learn more about repairing leaks in faucets.
For more water-saving tips, visit Water, Use It Wisely.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gluten-Free Does Not Equal Healthy

Do you have trouble with gluten? Many people do, and maintain what is known as a "gluten-free" diet. But did you know that just because a food is "gluten-free" does not make it a healthy food to consume? Here's why:

Gluten-free only means the food does not contain gluten. It does not mean the food is free of preservatives, dyes, chemicals, emulsifiers, and other toxins. In fact, many gluten-free foods can be just as dangerous to consume as the gluten-containing foods that cause health issues. Many processed foods fall into this category. Some examples of gluten-free foods to watch out for that may not be healthy are:
  • Crackers
  • Cereals
  • Breads
  • Chips
  • Rice cakes
  • Fruit rollups
  • Fruit snacks
  • Bagels
  • Pasta
  • Cookies
  • "Food" bars
  • Desserts
  • Other processed foods
This is especially true with foods given to children who eat what their parents buy for them and what other adults provide in settings where they are away from home. Children (and adults too) with food allergies may react to foods without even having been diagnosed with an allergy before, or may eat something thinking that it does not contain allergens or toxins when in fact the food does contain those very things. If in doubt, read labels. However, most processed foods by their very nature are going to contain ingredients which will cause health problems - anything from allergic reactions to chronic disorders like eczema, asthma, digestive, respiratory, and cardiovascular issues.

Be aware that the only healthy foods are whole foods. If you are going to eat grains, they should be eaten in moderation and be whole (not flour), sprouted, and/or soaked. Any type of flour can go rancid within hours and should be avoided. Real whole grains should be purchased in the bulk grocery section. To avoid problems with celiac disease, allergies, and other health issues, stick to whole foods and your health should remain stable.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Prevention is the Answer to Our Healthcare Woes

Do you want change in our health care system? If so, it is critical to start thinking about health care change in the form of 'preventative' action rather than remaining with the Status Quo. Our current health care system relies too heavily on reactionary treatments that wait until the problem is acute (and sometimes too late) instead of emphasis on changes in lifestyle that would support a preventative system and better health.

How is prevention different than our current system? Let's take a look:
  1. Prevention assumes that everything you do affects your health, which it does. It comes from a holistic approach, rather than than a compartmentalized view taken by allopathic medicine. In other words, allopathic medicine waits until the problem is noticed by the patient and then treats symptoms, not causes. Preventative medicine knows that every day counts in making your health optimal. It considers diet, stress, sleep, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.
  2. Preventative measures are ongoing. They are continual in nature, whereas allopathic treatments are used only when there is a symptom occurring. Many people have health issues and aren't even aware of it. It can take days, weeks, or years sometimes to notice negative effects of poor lifestyle habits. That is why preventative medicine is so important.
  3. Preventative medicine does just what its name implies - it prevents issues from occurring before it happens or lessens the severity of a problem because action is constantly being taken. Allopathic or reactionary medicine doesn't prevent anything except the body's reaction to poor lifestyle, and then can cause or exacerbate other issues in the body because everything is connected. Our organ systems are not isolated from one another and when one system is compromised, it puts a strain on the others.
  4. The cost of preventative health care is paid incrementally and falls under a "cost of living" item, and is much less compared to costly intervention recommended after a condition has gone on for a long period of time by allopathic medical treatment.
The time has come to address this issue and put pressure on government and health decision-makers about creating a health care system that values and utilizes preventative care for citizens of our country. As long we as rely on pharmaceutical and allopathic care for the primary treatment of health issues and undervalue the importance of lifestyle changes that really work, we will continue to see a rapid decline in the health state of all people.

In 2007, President Obama talked about how we spend less than 4 cents of every health care dollar on preventative care. The U.S. Preventative Medicine organization praised his appeal for modernizing health care by investing in prevention. But is he just giving lip service? We need action and progressive leaders who will deliver! Write letters to your congressmen and women, and to the president expressing how important preventative care is to you. Get involved locally. Become an activist and make waves in your local community, or run for office. The only way we will see change in our current system is from people who get involved and want action.

Any prevention plan that works will include eating diet of whole foods and encourages you to avoid processed foods. That means, literally, foods that are as close to nature as possible. For the past 50 plus years, common medical rhetoric tells us to avoid foods with fat and cholesterol - but in doing so, we've caused many of the very debilitating diseases and conditions which have become so chronic in our culture. A return to traditional, whole foods is the only diet philosophy which supports a truly preventative way of looking at health. For more information about how the role of traditional diets prevents disease, visit The Weston A. Price Foundation.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cold? Make Some Soup!

Do you feel like curling up with a book and some soup in front of the fireplace? With cold weather still surging through the northern regions of the world, our promise of spring-time weather seems too far away indeed. Warm up with some homemade, chicken soup. Instead of using a broth from the grocery store, take some bones with meat on it or a carcass and make your own from scratch. Not only will your soup be healthier and taste better, you'll save money too . If you make a large batch, you can portion out smaller amounts and freeze it for eating later. Here's a recipe for making your own chicken broth:
  • 1 organic, pasture-raised chicken carcass or chicken bones with some of the meat left on them, including skin - use your favorite pieces such as breasts, thighs, or legs (or use them all)
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley
Fill up a cooking stock pot with filtered water (as much as you want for your soup), and put it on the stove. Cut the carrots, onions, and celery, and place them in the pot along with your carcass or chicken bones. Add the salt, pepper, and parsley to taste. Bring the contents of your stockpot to a boil and then turn down to low. Allow your soup to simmer for roughly 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, remove all the meat from bones and carcass. Discard bones.

You can add anything to your broth that you'd like. Here are some ideas:
  • Vegetables - corn, peas, mushrooms, zucchini, green beans, bok choy, shallots, cauliflower, broccoli.
  • Rice, potatoes, or sprouted-grain pasta (try Ezekiel bread pasta)
  • Additional meat - chicken or turkey
  • Other spices - cumin, chili powder, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, cilantro, garlic, gingerroot...the sky's the limit!
If you add anything to your broth, be sure to put it in all at once and then bring your broth to a boil again, and turn down to simmer for at least an hour (especially if you have put in raw meat). Visit World Famous Recipes for a variety of different types of chicken soup. Be sure to replace any processed foods used in these recipes with whole foods.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Keeping Warm and Saving the Planet

Winter is still here, and it's evident by all the snow falling and storms still raging across the west and northeast. And we'll still be experiencing chilly weather well into spring, which is really only a little over two weeks away. When it's cold outside, how do you keep warm inside? Do you turn up your thermostat and pay a high-ticket price for heating costs, or instead do you bundle up to keep your bills down?

Bundling up is certainly one way to save electricity, gas, and money. The best time to turn down your thermostat is when you are going to bed. According to Green Guide for Living, for every degree you turn down the thermostat, you keep up to 320 pounds of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere over the course of the season.You can add layers onto your bed at night to keep warm and keep heating costs down. Here are some ways to do it green:

Eco-fibers Purchase blankets, sheets, pillows, and comforters that are safe for health and the environment -eco-fibers are the way to go. Natural fibers such as wool and cotton are breathable and safer than petrol-based fibers like acrylic and polyester. Best bets are organically-produced fibers grown without chemical pesticides and genetically engineered methods.

Wool or Polyester? When choosing blankets and comforter batting, go for wool instead of polyester. Keep an eye out for organic or "Pure-Grow" wool. These fibers come from ranches that don't dip their sheep in pesticide baths. There are other chemicals to avoid such as moth-proofing insecticides, which many manufacturers use. Inquire at the place of business or with the manufacturer or retailer about whether those types of practices are used in the making of their products.

Chemical-Free Dyes Those who want colored sheets in their bedrooms now have a choice of heavy-metal-free or vegetable-based dyes. Look for products that are "SKAL-certified" and are made with dyes free of heavy metals. Another good choice is FoxFiber™ "color-grown" cotton, which is bred (but is not genetically-modified) to grow in different colors - but is usually only available in earth-tones such as browns, beiges and greens. Color-grown cottons will also fade less quickly in your machine than dyed cotton.

Chlorine-Free Bleaching: When selecting bedding or other household products, look for unbleached or chlorine-free bleached varieties. After harvesting, conventional and some organic cotton is bleached with chlorine in a way that releases cancer-causing dioxin into the atmosphere.

Tips for the savvy consumer:
  • Avoid products labeled with the following: crease-resistant, no-iron, permanent press, stretch-proof, shrink-proof, water repellent or water-proofed. Some finishes on fabrics release formaldehyde into the air.
  • Choose products that can be machine-washed, as dust mites and allergens can be eliminated from these fibers each time you wash.
  • Those with allergies should avoid down comforters and pillows as these types of bedding can be the culprit for exacerbating reactions due to their inherent ability to attract and harbor dust (and mites)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Natural Headache Remedies

Do you suffer from headaches? Many different health problems cause headaches, but most are not serious and are treatable and preventable. Causes of headaches can be numerous including poor diet (eating processed foods which contain chemicals or toxins), becoming dehydrated, being under too much stress, not receiving adequate sleep, and some environmental factors such as being exposed to chemicals or toxins. Chronic headaches are often caused by these types of things. Headaches which are caused from brain tumors or cancer are much more rare, but can occur and should be checked out by a health care professional.

To avoid headaches, eat an organic diet with whole foods and eliminate processed foods. Drink plenty of filtered water. Dehydration can cause headaches as well as other health problems. Get plenty of sleep, moderate exercise, and stress relief.

If you develop a headache, here are some useful remedies to try other than drugs:
  • Hynotherapy
  • Massage
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Hot or cold packs - try a hot or compress on your head with a moist wash cloth, and try different essential oils from herbs such as peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, passionflower, ginko, cayenne, willow, or valerian (especially for sleep problems). Visit this site for more information on herbs used for headaches.
  • Herbal teas with the above mentioned herbs can also be effective
  • If you are taking herbs from a supplement and you are also taking some type of drug, consult with your practitioner to make certain there are no known reactions to what you are taking.
If you have persistent headaches, you should always consider lifestyle habits and making changes before taking medications or drugs. Medications and drugs can mask the problem causing your headaches that lifestyle changes can often easily address. If you have tried everything in earnest to eliminate headaches, consult a knowledgeable practitioner, and one that will listen to you and your body - not someone who will immediately jump to the conclusion of putting you on medication before determining the cause of the problem.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Natural Remedies for Coughs

We are still in the midst of cold and flu season. Many people suffer from coughs that linger for weeks as a result of having contracted a cold or flu. Coughing is the body's natural reaction to inflammation and irritantion present in the throat. Coughs are often caused by allergies or by infection from bacteria or a virus. Here are some good, natural remedies for coughs as recommended by various natural philosophies:
  • Juice extracted from ginger with raw honey, 3-4 times daily
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of raw honey in warm water, 3-4 times daily
  • For dry cough - peel small piece of fresh ginger, sprinkle some salt on it and chew
  • 1 gram of turmeric to a teaspoon of honey
  • Ginger tea with a few pieces of raw ginger that has been sitting in boiling water for a few minutes
  • Avoid processed foods, but in particular, processed and pasteurized dairy products. These products are associated with contributing to many health problems, including allergies and the production of mucus. Try raw dairy products if you have never considered them in the past
  • Hot baths with epsom salts and the use of essential oils such as cypress, lavender, eucalyptus, cedar, pine, peppermint, or jasmine. You can also boil water on the stove and add these oils to the water and inhale the steam. Use caution to avoid burns. You can also pour the water into a bowl and place a towel over your head while you breathe the steam from the water with the essential oils of your choice.

For additional cough remedies, visit Health 911.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Yard Work and Gardening for Health

Have you started thinking about what you want to do in your yard this spring? Winter weather still prevails in most northerly places, but now is actually the time to start some preliminary activities for prepping yard and garden areas for planting. Garden and yard work is therapeutic and is a good way to stay active, as well as provides you the opportunity to save money by growing healthy foods on your own property.

Start making lists of all the things you want to do in your yard and what plants you'd like to grow once the warmer weather gets started. Some plants can be started in pots or smaller containers in your home such as tomatoes. By the time these plants have a good start as seedlings, the ground will be thawed out enough that you can transplant them. As an example, you'll have ripe tomatoes earlier in the year if you start them now inside your house. Most tomatoes take an average of 65 days to harvest. For more information about starting seeds early indoors, visit Renee's Garden. In the meantime, you can begin trimming back old, dead plants that you haven't eliminated from beds, and pulling out any unwanted ones that may not have done well last season. Cleaning up beds ahead of time will make it easier when it comes time to plant in April, May, and June.

Decide what plants you want based on availability, space, cost, how well they grow in your local area, and how much sun and water are needed for where you will locate the things you decide to grow. Best choices are organic seeds, and using organic growing methods will promote the healthiest, most nutritious plants for your family. You can use alternative methods of keeping pests away besides dangerous chemicals and pesticides such as insect identification, natural formulas and substances, proper soil cultivation, and careful monitoring of your garden area before infestations get out of control. Visit Avian Web for more information on this topic.

Careful planning, shopping around, and comparing plants can help save money and time down the road, and can lend better health from consuming healthy fruits and vegetables. Consult with your local nursery or greenhouse that uses organic and sustainable growing practices for more information about planting and growing in your local area.

For more information on gardening and growing the organic way, visit The Organic Gardener.