Happiness

Happy

Happiness is the state of being happy.

hap·py adjective \ˈha-pē\

: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
: showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment
: pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc.

As of this writing, the song titled Happy by Pharrell Williams is the number 1 song on Billboard’s Hot 100 and has been for weeks. Homemade videos of people dancing to the song have been posted on YouTube from all over the world. As was reflected upon in an Oprah Winfrey interview, I think that the song and official video resonates with so many because we relate to the notion that it is our birthright to be happy. “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.”

In Nia classes, an expressive movement practice I have been committed to for the last 11 years, we have definitely clapped along. A foundational principle in Nia is a focus on the joy of movement, the antithesis of the “no pain, no gain” mentality.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives examples of the various “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says all human beings have been given by their Creator and for the protection of which they institute governments.

Yet many of us in our society aren’t experiencing happiness. Let’s explore some of the reasons why and how we might reverse that trend. Raine Saunders has gathered the information that follows for educational materials we are co-creating on Nourishing Ourselves, which will be launched this year.

Contributing Author Raine Saunders

Depression and Mood Disorders

A Time Magazine article from 2011 reports that antidepressant use has risen nearly 400% since 1988. An estimated 1 in 10 adults experiences depression, and more than 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 have been prescribed some type of antidepressant.

Those between the age range of 45-64 have been observed as most likely to experience depression.

Deadlock

As a society, why are we so depressed?

Food

We propose that our diets are lacking in nutrient-dense foods. We consume a large quantity of processed, nutritionally devoid food products. The consumption of processed food has been observed to have profound effects on the development of depression and mood disorders.

Read more in these articles: The Pursuit of Happiness and Violent Behavior: A Solution in Plain Sight

To manage depression, allopathic recommendations tell us to avoid real fats and consume plant foods and even processed, modern fats such as margarine and vegetable oils! Reducing cholesterol depletes seratonin binding and signaling in the body. Seratonin is a critical neurotransmitter that regulates many bodily functions including behavior, learning, and memory. We assert that eating a low-fat diet, recommended by many medical professionals, can lead to a variety of chronic health issues including depression. See sources at the bottom of this article [1].

Sleep

Some develop chronic habits of not getting enough sleep or staying up late. Some watch television or use a computer or other electronic device late at night. This causes a disruption in sleep patterns. Research suggests that those who don’t get adequate sleep or experience insomnia are in the highest risk category for depression. [2]

Stress

The frenetic pace of modern life exposes some of us to stress from which we find little opportunity for relief and escape. Stress causes depletion of nutrients in the body that support health.

Julia Ross, M.A., author of The Mood Cure, says that important, natural brain chemicals are used up quickly under conditions of chronic stress. Our body cannot produce these chemicals in adequate amounts without proper support, including rest and a nourishing diet. Source: The Mood Cure, page 5, a book we recommend via our Amazon affiliation.

In an article from Science Nordic on how stress can cause depression, studies with rats reveal that stress affects the brain’s ability to stay healthy. This causes shrinking of the hippocampus, a vital part of the brain. Stress impacts our short-term memory function and learning abilities which can affect our mood and behavior.

Sun

Some allopathic practitioners and other sources advise avoiding the sun. As a result, we spend more time indoors and don’t produce enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for many aspects of our health including brain development. The Vitamin D Council asserts that vitamin D receptors have been observed in various parts of the brain, and in particular, those associated with the manifestation of depression.

pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals

Seratonin reuptake inhibitors commonly known as SSRIs and other antidepressants are routinely prescribed for depression. However, we don’t recommend them as a first step solution because they don’t address the underlying cause of depression. In addition we are concerned about the following side-effects:

SSRIs (seratonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft:

  • feeling agitated, shaky, or nervous
  • a feeling of malaise
  • digestive issues including stomach aches, diarrhea, or constipation
  • low sex drive
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • dizziness

Antidepressants including Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, and Effexor

  • dry mouth
  • blurry vision
  • constipation
  • heart rhythm problems
  • weight gain
  • dizziness or drowsiness
  • difficulty passing urine

In the interest of time we won’t mention the myriad of side-effects connected to other antidepressants.

Girl on a beach

Our recommendations to support a sense of well-being and happiness:

  • Eat traditional fats such as those found in butter, lard, tallow, grassfed meats and poultry, and raw dairy foods.
  • Use coconut oil, apple cider raw vinegar, and other fermented and cultured foods such as homemade sauerkraut, beet kvass, yogurt and kefir, and probiotic supplements to support digestive health. These provide additional support for mental and brain function. Read more in Raine’s Medicine Cabinet.
  • In her book The Mood Cure, author Julia Ross has written extensively on the subject of diet and depression, and recommends removal of processed foods and inclusion of real, traditionally prepared foods to support mood and brain function. During his travels, Dr. Weston A. Price witnessed and wrote about the profound effect animal foods had on not only the physical but emotional and mental development of the brain and mental function. Proper bone and skeletal structure supports both physical and mental health, while deformities contribute to chronic health issues including a variety of mental disorders. [3]
  • Get regular, moderate sun exposure
  • Obtain adequate and regular sleep. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
  • Engage in stress relief such as meditation, yoga, sex or other activities that promote deep relaxation
  • Engage in some type of movement or exercise you enjoy such as walking, hiking, running, dancing, or bike riding

Here are foods we recommend that contain nutrients that protect against depression. These include the following nutrients in abundance – Vitamins A, D, calcium, and arachadonic acid:

  • Cod liver oil (vitamins A and D)
  • Butter from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Fats from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Organ meats from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Bone broths (calcium)
  • Raw whole milk from grass-fed animals (calcium, arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Fish eggs (vitamins A and D)
  • Small whole fish (calcium, vitamins A and D)
  • Shell fish (vitamins A and D)

Source: Health and the Pursuit of Happiness

homeopathy

Alternatives to Prescription Medications

In addition to diet, here are some alternatives to prescription medications we can use to support mental health:

  • Homeopathy uses homeopathic medicines, derived from natural substances such as plants and roots to trigger the body’s healing response. This method uses the principle which the same substance which causes symptoms can be used to treat those same symptoms. Source: Depression, Anxiety and Homeopathy
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine uses herbs and acupuncture to address underlying imbalances in the body’s energetic organ meridian systems that can lead to depression. Source: The Case for Chinese Herbal Medicine in the Treatment of Depression
  • Ayurvedic medicine addresses causes of depression through diet, herbs, oils, and an understanding of each patient’s constitution and state of imbalance by considering the doshas or bodily humors. These affect the flow of energy in the body and their impact on our lymphatic system, immunity, circulation, and other factors which control our wellness and vitality. Source: Depression, Anxiety, and Ayurveda

What do you do in pursuit of happiness?

Disclosure
Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts.
Sources
[1]
http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/diet-recovery
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232248.php
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17064686
http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/skinny-on-fats
http://paleosimplified.com/processed-food-depression-food-thought
[2]
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/really-using-a-computer-before-bed-can-disrupt-sleep/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608071941.htm
http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/depression-and-sleep
[3]
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, pages 321-346, Chapter 19
http://www.westonaprice.org/dentistry/mental-or-dental
http://paleosimplified.com/processed-food-depression-food-thought/
https://www.moodcure.com/

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Filed under Nourishing Our Spirits, Nutrient Dense Foods, What is a healthy diet?

How do you keep the beet?

roasted-beet-salad-500px

I love beets.

I welcome new ways to prepare them. Roasted beet and walnut salad with kombucha vinaigrette is a recipe from Jenny McGruther’s new cookbook available via our Amazon affiliation The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle (Ten Speed Press 2014). It is re-published below by permission.

The benefits of beets

Beet roots have always been included in Dr. Joseph Mercola’s most recommended vegetables list, although we are advised to use them sparingly because of their high carbohydrate levels.

Although beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, he asserts that most people can safely eat beet roots a few times a week, and their greens in unlimited quantities, enjoying not only their sweet, earthy flavor but also their powerhouse nutrients that may improve your health in the following ways. Dr. Mercola lists 6 benefits of beets:

  1. Lower Your Blood Pressure
  2. Boost Your Stamina
  3. Fight Inflammation
  4. Anti-Cancer Properties
  5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
  6. Detoxification Support

Kiley Dumas adds another couple of items to the list:

  • Beets are nature’s Viagra. Seriously. One of the first known uses of beets was by the ancient Romans, who used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac. And that’s not just urban legend – science backs it up. Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
  • Beets help your mental health. Beets contain betaine, the same substance that is used in certain treatments of depression. It also contains trytophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being, similar to chocolate [which we actually recommend you avoid].

Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad with Kombucha Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 8 hours, 5 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 pounds beets
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter or ghee
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts [preferably crispy walnuts]
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into rings no thicker than 1/8 inch

Kombucha Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons kombucha
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground
  • unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. To prepare the salad, trim the beets by removing any beet tops and the tips of their roots. Dot each beet with a touch of clarified butter, then wrap each in parchment paper and again in aluminum foil. Roast the beets for 45 to 60 minutes, until they yield under the pressure of a fork. Refrigerate the beets for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
  3. To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk the kombucha tea with the salt, allspice, cloves, and the walnut and olive oils. The vinaigrette will store at room temperature for up to 3 weeks, but remember to shake it vigorously before dressing the salad because the oil will separate from the tea and spices when left sitting.
  4. Just before serving, heat a skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until very hot. Toss in the walnuts and toast them for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Remove the cold beets from the fridge, peel them, and chop into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, toss the beets with the sliced onion and toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, toss again, and serve.

More recipes

There are over 160 recipes based on the traditional foods philosophy of eating, which emphasizes properly prepared grains, raw and cultured dairy, pastured-raised red meat, organ meats, and fermented foods in Jenny’s new book: The Nourished Kitchen. It is available for pre-order now and will be released shortly! I consider it not only to be an invaluable resource but, a work of art.

What are your favorite ways to consume beets?

Disclosure
Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts.

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Why Buy Local?

Local

Sandrine’s Introduction:

Buying locally is something that I value and recommend for so many reasons, one of which is that I like supporting and being a part of the community I live in. The word locavore was added to the dictionary in 2005: lo·ca·vore ˈlōkəˌvôr/ noun 1. a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food. One’s food shed is often described as food grown within a 100 mile radius. There are a few occasions when I do opt to buy items that aren’t produced locally, because sometimes it is economically advantageous to do so. Read my article titled Decisions  written about my own quandary. I also do buy some items that simply aren’t produced locally such as salt, tea, coconut oil and the like.

By Author Raine Saunders: 

Although Globalization may be the wave of the future, it is not the best choice for health. Here’s why …

Let’s say it’s winter time and you are in the grocery store looking for fresh vegetables and fruits. In many regions, a good variety of produce is not readily available and so the method of bringing in tomatoes or oranges in during the cold months is to ship them from different parts of the world who can grow these plants year-round. Why would this be a problem? One reason is that having to ship all these foods all over the globe uses up more fuel. This drives up the price of petrol and pollutes the environment. Another issue is that in shipping these fruits and vegetables all over the globe, merchants are finding that much produce is perishing more quickly than they are able to turn a profit. In order to make sure their produce does not perish before it makes its arrival in the store, many decide to grow plants in an altered environment where the plant has been modified somehow to survive days of travel and stocking on the grocery store shelf.

In addition to genetically and otherwise modified foods, toxins and pollution from shipment and travel adversely affect the produce being sent. If these toxins and chemicals affect the produce, does it affect your health? Indeed. Eating local produce cuts down on toxins and pollution on fruits and vegetables because the food has traveled less distance to get to your table. That’s a happy thought.

Seasonal Purchasing 

The notion of eating fruits and vegetables in season is also becoming more and more understood by local communities. In season varieties allow the local farms to receive your support when you buy, reduces pollution from shipment, and provides the opportunity to try new foods and seasonal recipes that you may have otherwise overlooked. It tastes better too! Buying in season is more sustainable and better for your health as during different times of the year, your body needs different types of foods. Those needs come and go with the season, and thus eating in season makes health sense.

In Idaho, many crops do not grow in the winter time. So the shipping of produce from many other locations is something grocery stores do in order to provide a full menu for their customers. But, many local farmers are now using winter green houses and hot houses. This should reduce the need to ship in from other locations. Unfortunately, the demand of customer’s dictates that we have anything we want anytime we want it. Thus, the stores are shipping in anything and everything all the time.

Alternatives might include adjusting our consumption of certain types of produce during times of the year when they are not locally available. Some people make use of the available produce during peak seasons by canning, or drying, their food. We recommend Fido and Ball caning jars which can be purchased though our Amazon affiliation as well as the titles The Complete Book of Home Preserving, and The Natural Canning Resource Book, both of which can also be purchased through Amazon. Two great dehydrators that we recommend are KegWorks Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator or the TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator, both of which can be purchased through our Amazon affiliation.  Although these activities take a little more time and effort, you are conserving in many ways by making use of the available produce when it is fresh and preserving it safely for later use. Another alternative is to buy at your local farmers market. Growers from nearby farms can bring their seasonal produce to your local community. For a list of farmers markets in your hometown visit Local Harvest to locate farmers markets and organic and local products in your neighborhood.

Products that aren’t local

Even though buying local is important, there are other healthy products that may not be produced in your local area that may be of interest.  Some examples include traditional fats such as coconut oil, ghee, and olive oil.

For coconut oil, consider these brands we recommend through our Amazon affiliation: Artisana Coconut OilGarden of Life Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, or Barlean’s Organic Oils Extra Virgin Coconut Oil .

For ghee, consider these brands we recommend: Pure Indian FoodsPurityFarms, or Ancient Organics.

For olive oil, consider these brands we recommend: Bariani Olive Oil CompanyWilderness Family Naturals, or Kevala Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

To what degree do you consider yourself a locavore?

Disclosure
Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts

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Filed under Savvy Shopping, Sustainable Practices, Traditional Foods, What is a healthy diet?

What’s the problem with corn?

Corn Tortillas

Sandrine’s Introduction:

One problem with corn is that while it is ubiquitous, it is generally indigestible. I love corn on the cob but, know from first hand experience that unless corn is traditionally prepared through a process known as nixtamalization, corn passes right through me unassimilated. For those who are comfortable eating grains, I highly recommend sprouted corn tortillas made by Food for Life. Raine writes about how corn and oil in food production is harming our health:

By Author Raine Saunders:

Put aside your purely sentimentalist views about corn, including your ideal Sunday dinner on the farm. Corn is in everything we eat … from meat to cereals to drinks to coffee, from breads to pasta, from the McDonald’s meal you grab in the drive-through to so-called “organic” eggs. In fact, in the average grocery store, of more than 45,000 “foods”, a quarter are comprised of some type of corn. The use of so much corn has driven up the amount of petroleum needed to transport it by millions of barrels per year.

All About Corn

Corn is not inherently a harmful plant. But in most forms you will find it, it is indigestible. Unless it has been grown organically and soaked, sprouted, and cooked in an alkaline solution – usually limewater, and then hulled as our ancestors did - and most corn on the market is not, it is generally unsafe to eat. So why, then, is it being used in foods we eat, and why so pervasively? In Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, we are told in expert detail how the oil and corn industries together with the FDA are largely responsible for damage to the environment as well as many major health problems in modern society.

Each bushel of industrial corn grown, Pollan notes, uses the equivalent of up to a third of a gallon of oil. Some of the oil products evaporate and acidify rain; some seep into the water table; some wash into rivers, affecting drinking water and poisoning marine ecosystems. The industrial logic also means vast farms that grow only corn. When the price of corn drops, the solution, the farmer hopes, is to plant more corn for next year. The paradoxical result? While farmers earn less, there’s an over-supply of cheap corn, and that means finding ever more ways to use it up. You can learn more about this issue in the documentary Food Inc.

This disturbing truth supports the idea that we are a community of sick and starving people who are not receiving adequate nutritional support to keep our bodies functioning properly and feeling well. Corn and other carbohydrate-based crops are processed beyond recognition to produce many of the foods sold and which we eat. We have completely lost touch with consuming whole, real foods that humans need to be healthy and are a junk-food, convenience-based nation.

What About Chips, Crackers and Pasta? 

You will read the labels and will be told by a good number of them that they are “whole grains”.  A majority of these staple items contain processed, enriched flours and corn as primary ingredients. These products are not whole grains and they are not healthy to eat. Natural farming takes a back seat to factory and industrialized processes which destroy the integrity of whole foods that are a necessity to people and animals alike. Have we been lied to? You bet.

The FDA has approved the license to sell and consumption of all these foods that are making us sick, and causing an enormous rise in the cost of health care, oil, and many products that we use and depend on each day. Most significantly, our health conditions are in serious jeopardy with heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer among the top five reasons for death – all greatly contributed to by the power of the FDA and these bloated industries’ abilities to affect the content of the food we eat.

It is inconceivable that in a world where corn is so plentiful and readily available that it is not used more pervasively as an alternative fuel to oil. Unfortunately, there are politicians, special interest groups, and lobbyists working night and day to prevent this from occurring. Some would have us believe that removing corn from the food supply would actually cause mass starvation and loss of industry jobs. How can this be true when the corn most people buy is not really food in the first place? Farmers could still continue to make a living growing corn for fuel alternatives just as they do now harvesting it for food.

For further reading on non-GMO movement fuels, visit this site: Sustainable Food News.

For further reading on the topic of processed foods, we recommend the following books via our Amazon affiliation:

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner

What do you think about this?

Disclosure
Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts.

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Filed under Renewable Resources, Sustainable Practices, What is a healthy diet?

Two for tea?

tea

Most of what I eat is locally produced, except for items such as coconut oil, sea salt and tea. Until recently, surprisingly, I didn’t quite realize how expensive tea really is. A pound of tea can be more expensive than a pound of 100% grass fed, dry-aged fillet mignon!

So, this weekend I purchased a large French Press to brew loose herbal teas when I have guests, in favor of individual tea bags. Why? I like that buying loose herbal teas in bulk requires less packaging, is less expensive, and more versatile. I also really like the fact that I can grow some of the herbs I like for tea myself and brew them in my new French Press. My assistant Carlie points out that her favorite thing about it is being able to mix her own tea medleys. “I put in a little of peppermint, green tea, hibiscus, fresh chunks of ginger, even cardamon pods and baking spices to make a chai like flavor.”

I put hibiscus flower in every cup of tea I have. It’s sweet, sexy, and cleansing. – Mario Batali

It generally costs a fair amount less to buy tea in bulk.

For example, on their website, Numi organic boxed teas are offered at $6.99 for a box of 18 bags, which would be .38¢ a serving at 1 teabag per cup. Teabags generally contain 1 teaspoon of tea. There are 96 teaspoons in one pound. At that rate, a pound of bulk organic roobious tea for 15.00 sold by Davidson’s for 15.00 would cost .16¢ per cup. Even if you were to buy Numi organic mint tea as a 3 box carton on Amazon, you’d still save because that would come to .29¢ a teabag.

At New Seasons, local to where I live now in Portland, organic bulk herbs range in price. Peppermint leaf is sold for $21.99 a pound, hibiscus made by Frontier is $27.99 and a roobious medley made by Tao, also $22.99. Those prices are significantly more than I pay for 100% grass feed meats! Our referral partner Mountain Rose Herbs offers loose teas, so I looked at their website.

Mountain Rose Herbs is located in Eugene, Oregon which is relatively local to me now in Portland. They sell each of these teas for less. Their mint is sold for $20.00 a pound, hibiscus is $23.00 a pound and a red roobious is $12.00 a pound, which would have resulted in a price reduction of about $16.00 from buying them at New Seasons, however, there is a shipping cost of $10.85 on those three items. No free shipping is offered, unfortunately, even with large orders. There is a bulk discount however, so if you put together a group purchase, you’ll save this amount: 5-9 lbs – 10%, 10-24 lbs – 15%, 25+ lbs – 25%.

Next, I looked to Amazon, another referral partner, and found that Davidson’s offers a variety of bulk herbs that are by and large at least 25% or more less than Mountain Rose Herbs and New Seasons, with free Amazon shipping if you order a minimum of 35.00 of items sold on Amazon.  There is an option to subscribe to ordering the tea regularly, and saving an additional 5%. Frontier makes organic teas as well but, they are more expensive than Davidson’s and don’t include free shipping.

The cost of 3 pounds of bulk tea from Mountain Rose Herbs – 1 pound of mint, 1 pound of hibiscus and 1 pound of red roobious, with shipping to my house in Portland would cost $65.45. To purchase these same three kinds of teas at Davidson’s via Amazon would cost $47.91. Davidson’s is located in Sparks, Nevada. Not local. I have not yet purchased teas from each of these vendors to compare quality however, they are both organically grown. This reminds me of the post I recently wrote about decisions. Do I pay more to purchase at the more local Mountain Rose Herbs or do I save via Amazon?!

In order to avoid these kinds of decisions, I do plan to grow mint and chamomile in my garden, and possibly other herbal teas! I will report on my experience of creating an organic raised bed and planting herbs for tea when I do so! I am not sure that once you consider all of the materials and time involved that it will cost less, but the joy of gardening may be priceless? We’ll see!

A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water. ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you drink tea? What kind? Where do you get it from?

Photography credit Anthony Rue
Disclosure
Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts.

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16 ways to fortify your immune system during the winter months

Herbal Tea

Sandrine’s Notes: 

Beyond Raine’s list of 16 proactive steps to take in order to fortify your immune system, I would like to add one more. It has been recommended to me by various health practitioners that I supplement with Vitamin D if my levels are low, especially during the winter months. Dr. Mercola recommends these levels and testing protocols. My levels tend to run low even with regular consumption of vitamin D rich foods, so I take Biotics Research Bio-D-Mulsion Forte Vitamin D via our Amazon affiliation when lab work reveals a need.

Author Raine Saunders

Winter is here, and if you experience cold and flu symptoms a lot this time of year, there are numerous natural ways you can improve your body’s ability to stay healthy – especially with the foods you eat and lifestyle you maintain.

Many people believe that hand-washing is one of the best ways to keep illnesses away. In the last two decades we’ve seen a huge increase of the use of anti-bacterial substances which are supposed to keep our bodies healthier. But actually, these substances are toxic and don’t help our bodies to maintain health. They wipe out all bacteria, and our bodies need good bacteria to function optimally.

There are also many other factors which come into play toward keeping healthy. If your body doesn’t have the right nutrients every day – especially during times of stress, when you consume processed foods and especially those with sugar, exposure to illness from others, and days where sunlight is in short supply – your body will likely weaken and succumb to sickness and disease.

Whether you are a person who tends to “catch” every cold or flu that comes along or you just experience symptoms once in awhile, here are some tips that really work to fortify your immune system:

  1. Avoid eating processed foods and refined sugars. Fall and winter months are times when people tend to eat more sugary and processed foods due to holiday activities and gatherings. Sugar is a poison to your body and lowers immune system function. This includes foods such as crackers, chips, most breads, bagels, pastas, cookies, desserts, candy, juice, soda pop, and other related items. All of these items contribute to lowered immune system function and poor health. A good rule of thumb to follow – if it is not a whole food, avoid eating it regularly. Load up on real, raw, whole foods for snacks and meals alike.
  2. Consume plenty of healthy oils and fats. Real, organic butter (grass-fed and raw is a recommended), ghee, extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oils, coconutoils, sustainably-produced palm oil, and healthy animal fats from organic, grass-fed sources such as lard, chicken, duck, or goose fat, tallow (from beef), and drippings from those same types of animal meats. 
  3. Avoid vegetable oils and trans fats including vegetable shortening, margarine and fake butter spreads, soybean, cottonseed, canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, and peanut oil, which are rancid, contain too many Omega 6s, and have inflammatory and hormonal disrupting properties. These foods are often from genetically-modified sources which are hazardous to health. Some of our recommended traditional fats via our Amazon affiliation: 
  4. Be certain to obtain essential fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) in your diet. Take fish oil daily (good source of Vitamin D), eat grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, raw dairy, and safe-source fish. Green Pasture Products sells the only fermented cod liver oil in the world and is the best source for fish oil nutrients like Omega 3s, Vitamins A and D, and other trace nutrients. Good sources of other EFAs include healthy oils like cold-pressed organic flax seed oil and coconut oil
  5. Continue to eat plenty of organic, GMO-free and pesticide-free fresh fruits and vegetables. Especially those in season in your local area. Vegetables and fruits are high in nutrients and antioxidants which help thwart the development of disease and illness when properly prepared such as cultured or eaten with healthy fats like butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil, or olive oil.
  6. Drink mineral water or add liquid minerals or fulvic acid. There is some controversy about whether filtered water with added minerals is actually healthy for us to drink because it’s not much different than a lot of processed foods which have been stripped of nutrients and have synthetic added back in. Avoid plastic containers, tap water, and bottled water. Tap water contains toxins and plastic contains pthalates – both of which supress immune system and health.  Two other great ways to get minerals is to drink nettles infusions (made with filtered water) or add real sea salt to water and drink throughout the day. Good salt brands include The Spice Lab’s pink himalayan salt Celtic Sea Salt  and Real Salt. Lack of minerals is one of the leading causes of illness and disease. Directions for nettles infusions:
    • Get a glass container, which could be a quart-sized or or larger. I normally use either a half-gallon or gallon size, depending on how much I want to make and know my family will consume. We drink nettles daily. You can also add other herbs to your mixture such as mint, chamomile, red raspberry leaf, or others. We love adding mint and always put it in our infusion!
    • Cover the bottom of your jar with nettles and other herbs if you desire. I don’t usually measure, but you will want about a half an inch for a quart, and at least one inch for a half a gallon or more. Experiment to see how much you like, as using less will make the infusion weaker, whereas more will make it more potent.
    •  Add 2/3 cold water to the herbs and 1/3 hot water from the kettle on top. This helps to maintain potency of the nutritional properties of the infusion (not to be confused with most tea that is steeped for just a few minutes in a pot or cup), and still extracts the desired elements into the water due to the long amount of time the mixture is infused.
    • When your infusion has brewed for at least 4 and no more than 8 hours, there are two choices about how to drain the herbs: a) you can drain out immediately with a fine mesh metal or nylon strainer and store in the refrigerator. This will require having another clean vessel of the same size in which to store your drained infusion; or, b) you can simply store the finished infusion in the refrigerator as is, and use your strainer each time you pour a glass. Our family prefers option b as we don’t always have another clean vessel available to use.
    • I recommend using your nettles infusion up within a 24 hour period as the potency of the minerals and other nutritional elements diminishes rapidly once it is made. You can still drink the infusion beyond 24 hours, but know that benefits will be lessened as time goes on.
  7. Drink bone broths and incorporate them into your meals as well. Bone broths made from the bones of healthy animals and birds on pasture are full of easily-digested and essential nutrients which can help your body stay healthy such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, amino acids, and glucosamine (for bone health), and gelatin (muscles, metabolism, weight, skin, digestion, hair, fingernails, joint health). Read this post for more information on health benefits and recipes for making your own bone broths at home. More on bone broths.
  8. Eat real, fermented foods like home-made yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Making your own at home is best for optimal preservation of nutrients and beneficial bacteria, as well as immune supporting and digestive enhancing. Commercial yogurts, sour cream, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, and other foods do not have the health benefits or probiotic activity of home-made cultured foods. 
  9. Be certain to take a good probiotic each day – especially if you are lacking fermented foods. Good brands include Prescript-AssistBody Ecology Full Spectrum and BioKult.
  10. Use digestive enzymes. If you have maintained the Standard American Diet at any time in your life, your digestion is likely compromised.  Altered digestive function is one of the cornerstones of disease and illness. Digestive enzymes can help you to digest foods – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I use Enzyme Formulations, live enzymes with healing herbals, and Sandrine uses Biotics Research – Bromelain Plus CLA as per her nutritionist Anne Fischer Silva, with great success.
  11. Watch intake of alcoholic beverages, which tend to increase during holiday months. Drinking excess alcohol can have adverse affects on appetite, blood sugar, blood pressure and cardiovascular function, metabolic processes, and weight. If you are a binge drinker during special occasions, cut yourself off after two drinks and make certain you are eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water at the same time. Consider unpasteurized beer and wine.
  12. Make sure you are getting adequate rest and not overextending yourself. If necessary, say no to extra tasks that you know you really won’t have time or energy to accomplish. Stay home on a night where you might normally go out and rest, relax, catch up, and go to bed early. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
  13. Set aside time for some regular exercise, preferably outdoors. In the colder months people tend to go to health clubs more. Many more toxins lurk indoors during colder months, so bundle up and go for a walk, hike, or bike ride. You’ll be pleased with how exhilarated you feel afterward. If you are a winter sport enthusiast, get out on the slopes and go skiing, snowshoeing, or snowboarding. If you are an equine enthusiast, make time to get out on your horse or a friend’s mount during weather that is not icy.
  14. Set aside time for contemplation, stress reduction, and relaxation.  Whether that is a hot bath, a massage, tai chi, yoga, stretching, meditation or some other method you prefer, make sure you give yourself this time to recharge.
  15. If you do experience cold or flu symptoms, load up on probiotics, foods with healthy fats, and everything else mentioned above.   Take time to pamper yourself (but not with toxic products that contain harmful chemicals – remember -read labels and if you cannot pronounce something or don’t know what it is, avoid!), rest, and put off things that aren’t necessary so you can get back to a state of health quicker and easier. Read this informative post about my home medicine cabinet and things you can do to remedy illness and other health issues.
  16. Avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics. These substances rarely help your body to heal sooner, are over-prescribed, and actually cause nutrient depletion and lowered immune system function by wiping out friendly bacteria that is vital to health. For information on nutrient depletion caused by drugs, read Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutrition by Dr. Hyla Cass, M.D.

If you cannot shake a cold or flu symptoms consider visiting an alternative health care practitioner such as  a chiropractor, naturopathic physician, accupuncturist or other qualified individual. These practitioners are often very successful in alleviating health issues and perform treatment based on the cause of the problem rather than just treating symptoms.

If you maintain a schedule of eating traditionally-prepared real food, avoid processed foods and beverages, take proper supplementation when needed, obtain moderate activity, exercise, rest, and relaxation, you will likely notice an improvement in the way your health responds. My hope is that you will have more energy, feel more productive, and fortify your immune system.

What would you add to this list?

Photo credit: Wil Taylor
Disclosure
Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts.

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Raine’s “Medicine Cabinet”

Garlic

Sandrine’s Notes

This is the first of two posts we’ll publish on the topic. I will also post about items that are in my own so-called “medicine cabinet” that Raine didn’t mention in hers. We would love to read about the medicinals and therapeutics that you use in your home in the comments section below.

Author Raine Saunders

I’ve spent a lot of years building my knowledge of natural remedies – and I’m still learning, but I am so glad I made the effort to acquire a basic understanding of how to apply natural substances to the goal of helping people in my family to feel well again when they are not feeling good.

It is a good idea to replace items every so often to make certain the contents have not spoiled or gone rancid (such as olive oil or sesame oil), or lost their potency. But for the most part, many of these items stay in my cupboard for months or years, and I don’t have to replace them very often.

Raine’s “Medicine Cabinet” Staples

Activated charcoal – a natural detoxifier and remover of waste, charcoal is a substance that is used to carry out undesirable substances from the digestive tract. Make certain you find a variety that does not use petroleum as a base for the charcoal preparation and is considered “food grade” and comes from a source such as coconut or bamboo. Excellent to use when experiencing abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, upset stomach, or diarrhea. This supplement is normally effective when taken one to three times in a row, depending on the severity of the symptom. Baths – can also be used as poultice, compress or bath treatment for pain, infection, swelling, or detoxification purposes. We use Nature’s Way activated charcoal. Safe for children. Also recommended via our Amazon affiliation is Marine Land Black Diamond Activated Carbon and Multivita.

Aloe-Vera

Aloe vera – aloe vera juice is great for digestion and immune system function and support, and can be taken daily between (at least two hours after) or ahead of meals. Take 1 to 2 ounces daily. It is also great for the skin (both externally and internally used) and is a good base in making homemade cosmetics (think deodorant, tooth cleaners, soaps, shampoos, etc.) A good brand available from the health food store is George’s liquid.  Other recommended options are: Aubrey Organics and Jason Organic Oil. You can add your aloe vera juice to water (it basically tastes like water), juice, smoothies, or just drink it straight.

Apple cider vinegar – besides a great natural cleaning agent (dilute with water and use anywhere in your home), ACV is great as a daily supplement added to salads, water, or juice. When you are ill or have a cold or flu, it can be taken several times a day to add essential amino acid compounds and good bacteria to support your body and immune system. It is best to drink it with a straw, as repeated use of ACV can wear away the enamel on your teeth. I recommend raw apple cider vinegar that has not been processed nor pasteurized. Bragg’s is an excellent brand and contains the “mother”, a gelatinous substance formed during the final step of fermentation containing valuable minerals, enzymes, and nutrients. Also recommended: Dynamic Health, and Tree of Life.

Arnica – a perennial species belonging to the sunflower family, can be used for pain and bruising. It is a plant that has been shown in clinical settings to reduce inflammation by dilating blood vessels and capillaries to assist in transporting fluids and blood accumulations. In the cream form, apply it full strength topically (to the skin) to heal wounds and cuts, and reduce swelling. Its use internally should be avoided unless used in an official homeopathic herbal preparation where it is diluted down with guidance from a knowledgeable practitioner. Recommended products: Hyland Homeopathics tablets, Sanar Arnica White Ointment and Herb Farm Arnica Extract.

Castor oil - useful for detoxification (for liver and other organs), sore muscles, strains, sprains, or bruising, and PMS. It is a versatile, natural oil used for many different needs. Castor oil packs are widely recommended by practitioners for patients, and especially for complimentary care in cancer treatment. Castor oil packs are also used to shrink tumors and cysts, as applied directly to the affected area. Keep castor oil in the refrigerator when not in use. If it becomes cloudy or discolored, discard.

Use a small piece of fabric (wool or cotton flannel is best); cut a square, tripled or quadrupled over – can be as small as 4 x 4 inches or larger, depending on the area you are treating. Get a small dish (such as a casserole dish) and pour castor oil over the fabric and saturate, taking care not to get oil on other fabrics, upholstery, and clothing.

Get a water bottle and fill with hot water (not over 120 degrees). Apply fabric pack directly to skin and place the water bottle over the pack. You can use an old towel or t-shirt to make sure castor oil does not spread to your furniture or bed. The best time to do castor oil packs is in the evening before bed, and you should leave the pack on for 30 minutes to an hour. Try to remain quiet and in a resting state, without interruption.

Recommended castor oil: Dr. AdorableH&B Oils Center Co and Heritage Store. Recommend fabric: Heritage Wool FlannelHome Health Wool Flannel and Baar Cotton Flannel.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper – a great remedy for sore throats, colds, flus, and respiratory infections. It is rich in minerals and vitamins, and also a good digestive and cardiovascular aid. Great for digestive woes like bloating, gas, constipation, stomach cramping, and also allergies, poor circulation, chronic pain, the onset of sore throat/colds/flus, headaches, and toothaches. It actually works to expand blood vessels to aid in carrying nutrients contained in pepper and other foods to the cells in your body. Cayenne can help stabilize blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and has been reported to prevent and stop heart attacks from occurring. It is also a powerful, natural detoxificant agent for the whole body. Dr. John R. Christopher’s (well-known herbalist) School of Natural Healing (book) and web site discusses many effective herbal remedies, including cayenne pepper.

To use cayenne pepper internally, add 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon to a cup of about 6 ounces or more of warm water. The mixture will be spicy, so use caution. Sip or drink as able until gone. For added detoxification benefit and taste, you can add some Grade B maple syrup and lemon juice. It can also be used topically to wounds or cuts. You can apply the pepper directly to the wound or use 1/4 cayenne in a home-made solution with salt water. Use a small amount of water and salt to make a paste and apply. If necessary, cover with bandages or gauze.

Recommended brands: Simply OrganicsStarwest Botanicals and Indus Organic.

Coconut oil – a natural antifungal and antiviral oil that can kill yeast (useful for those experiencing candida), use on skin for body moisturizing, abrasions, sunburn, chapping or chaffing, cuts, bruises, scrapes, conditioner for hair, diaper rash, use in cooking as a healthy, medium chain triglyceride fat, and is also a great digestive aid and because of its caprylic acid content, can be used to help control candida issues – for use alone or with any meal. I don’t use much deodorant at all anymore, but if I do, I usually just dab on some coconut oil and it takes care of body odor very well. Amongst our recommended brands are: ArtisanaTropical TraditionsSpectrum and Garden of Life.

Colloidal silver – this substance has many uses and can be taken internally as well as applied topically. We use silver mostly for cuts and wounds. It heals very fast. Just apply a small amount and cover with a bandage or gauze strip. Some people use it successfully as a nasal spray or in a neti pot preparation for sinus and respiratory issues and allergies. I have found it works best on cuts and wounds. We use Natural -Immunogenics Sovereign Silver. Other recommended brands are: “Bio Silver”, Silver Mountain Minerals and Meso Silver Purest Colloids.

Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice (unsweetened, concentrated) – this is a great juice to take every day for lymphatic health and detoxification. I use about 8 ounces to 64 ounces of filtered water and drink daily. If desired, you can add fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice to the mixture, and Stevia or raw honey if the natural tartness is too much. It’s great for kidney health and contains many trace minerals and vitamins. I enjoy mine straight! This is a recommended brand: Lakewood Organic.

Dental/tooth/gum -Tooth and Gums Tonic – an all-natural, highly concentrated preparation made from ecologically-produced and sustainably harvested wild herbs echinacea and gotu kola, and oils of peppermint, red thyme, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and lavender. This is one of the only substances I have ever found that works on canker sores (even over lysine), and is great for a mouthwash or substitute for brushing your teeth if you find yourself without a toothbrush. As it is highly concentrated, only small amounts are needed for use at a time, and depending on how much you use it, a bottle could last for months. Tastes amazing!

Kombucha - I had had a sore gum problem a few years ago, and by massaging the area several times daily and rinsing with a bit of kombucha in my mouth for as long as I can (I rinsed for at least 3 minutes or longer), it really helps the pain and tenderness subside. Learn more about kombucha from Hannah Crum of Kombucha Kamp in her free educational materials. Here is an book with kombucha recipes.

Bone broth – this home-made food is good for almost anything that might ail you – colds, flus, sore throats, headaches, and for general health maintenance. Fantastic source of minerals and amino acids. Drink some every day! Here’s a post about the benefits of broth and how to make it.

Cod liver oil (fermented) Ramiel Nagel advises to load up on cod liver oil for dental and skeletal health and issues. The dosage for most adults should be 1 1/4 teaspoons (which is really the size of a silverwear drawer tablespoon in millileters). I normally spread out my dosage into 2-3 times daily, and I switch between capsules and the emulsified.  My son hates the taste of cod liver oil, so we do the capsules for him. A good trick if you have the oil and your kids won’t eat it but can take capsules is: buy a bag of vegetable glycerine tablets, a dropper bottle or a synringe. Put some CLO into either of these apparatuses to deposit into the empty capsules, and give it to them that way.

Cod liver oil is so good for many health remedies, increasing your dosage and amount if some health issues is occurring would be highly beneficial – especially for auto-immune disorders, infections, bone or teeth problems such as bone loss or cavities, or even crooked teeth. Read Ramiel Nagel’s book Cure Tooth Decay to find out more about this topic.

Green Pasture Products is the only brand I recommend because it is raw and fermented, which causes “deepening and broadening” of the nutrients such as Vitamins D and D, Omega 3s, and others (as termed by David Wetzel, the owner) in a manner that non-fermented cod liver and fish oils don’t. Green Pasture sells plain fermented and flavored, and also with high vitamin butter oil to enable proper absorption of Vitamins A and D.

David Wetzel, owner of Green Pasture Products, follows the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, who documented in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration – an account of his travels around the world to discover the cause of degenerative disease in his patients – the profoundly positive health effects of consuming cod liver oil when combined with high vitamin butter oil from healthy cows grazing on rapidly growing green pastures. This was the fabled “Activator X” component that Dr. Price discovered and he observed was missing from the diets of modern populations, the absence of which contributed to many modern health issues.

One of the best preventative measures I can think of for dental health for our family is to avoid grains. Some people question this (my parents insist on feeding my son grains when he is with them), but without fail when my son eats a lot of grains, he is sure to have plaque build-up and gets frequent canker sores. We don’t eat a lot of processed grains in our home; most of what we consume is the soaked and sprouted grains, and they are eaten sparingly. On weekends we might have sprouted pancakes and during the week sometimes we eat sourdough. Rarely do I make hot cereals, even, anymore. But when we do, I soak them overnight, cook, and serve with lots of butter, milk or yogurt, homemade granola with sprouted nuts, and fruit. For more information on this topic, read Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel.

Carrier oils – pressed from the fatty portion of a plant or food (such as nuts, kernels, and seeds) and are used with essential oils (see below). These oils do not impart their scent as strongly as essential oils. Used to carry and dilute stronger oils which alone can cause irritation or burning. Here are some examples of carrier oils people use: sweet almond, avocado, borage, apricot kernel, jojoba, hemp seed, sunflower, sesame, pecan, macadamia, olive, or coconut oil.

In the past I recommended using these oils. However, these go rancid fairly quickly as they contain Omega 6s and typically have a short shelf life. As well, some of these may be processed through high heat pressure and extraction.  Because of this, I now only recommend using oils such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil. Both are in liquid form and are easy for topical use. You can use approximately a 5 to 1 ratio of carrier to essential oil mixture for topical use on the skin, or follow the directions on the package.  Recommend fractionated coconut oil: Dr. Adorable and H&B Oils Center Co. Olive oils: Bariani Olive Oil Company and Wilderness Family Naturals.

Lavender

Essential oils – are distilled from the bark, roots, and other aromatic components of botanicals, herbs, and plants. We recommend essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, Vibrant Blue Oils, as well as Simplers Botanicals and those made by Aura Cacia.

Here are some essential oil combos I use:

Digestion: ginger, peppermint, tarragon, fennel, anise, caraway, and coriander. When someone has an upset stomach, use a carrier oil and a few drops of these oils to massage gently into abdominal area and on the bottoms of the feet. You can also add a few drops to hot water and sip.

Respiratory/Allergies: eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, melaleuca, laurel leaf, and tea tree oil. Use a few drops in hot steam as aromatherapy (breathing preparation) or in a neti pot or saline spray wash with a home-made saline solution and/or add some of the contents of a probiotics capsule as well.

Headache/stress/tension: lavender, lemon, peppermint, or melaleuca are all good oils to use – combined or alone. Use 2 – 3 drops essential oil to 3-4 drops carrier on a cotton ball and apply to affected area. We use essential oils on our foreheads and temples for headaches, which works quite well. Also make certain you are getting enough minerals with bone broth, nettles infusions, fermented foods and beverages, or filtered water with sea salt or liquid minerals, or add some unsweetened cranberry juice or lemon to your water. Minerals are essential in staying hydrated. Nettles infusions and bone broths are effective for eliminating headaches and re-hydrating as well.

Immune Boosting/Prevention of flus/colds, and other illnesses: wild orange, clove bud, rosemary, eucalyptus, and cinnamon. Dilute and use as a gargle for prevention or when you feel a cold, flu, or sore throat coming on. Dilute in spray bottles with purified water to clean doorknobs, floors, countertops, and other public-use surfaces. Use a few drops in an empty gelatin capsule for immune support.

Respiratory/sinus: Oil of oregano, one of the most powerful, natural antibiotics can be used for various issues like stomach upset, diarrhea, colds, flus, and respiratory or sinus infections. You can buy good quality wild, Mediterranean oregano from most health food stores. The preparation is often contained in a carrier mix such as olive oil. You can also mix your own saline at home with sea salt and filtered water and mix oil of oregano along with clove bud oil, bay leaf, and sage for use in a neti pot or a nasal spray in a bottle.

Another effective way to clear congestion and mucous out of sinus and nasal passages is to put a few drops of eucalyptus and tea tree oil on a cotton ball. Put the cotton ball in a clean, empty bottle such as an old vitamin or mineral supplement container. Plug one nostril at a time and breathe deeply from the bottle multiple times. Tea tree oil is a natural antifungal, antiseptic, and disinfectant and its fumes are powerful enough to ward off an infection in your respiratory tract if started quickly enough.

Taken orally, I just add the Oil of Oreganol P73 by North American Herb & Spice to filtered water (read bottle directions, usually no more than 3 -5 drops) and drink it down. It has a strong, spicy flavor. Use a slice of lemon to remove the taste in your mouth, if desired, afterward.

I have also used liquid trace minerals to eliminate sinus infections. The brand I have used with success is Best Process by Dr. Morter’s. Another recommended brands is Fulvic Ionic Minerals.

Instructions:

  1. Obtain a clean dropper bottle (1-2 ounce bottle), add some warm filtered water (I usually fill about halfway), and drop in 3-5 drops (more if desired and using more water).
  2. Lie with your head back on a bed or couch (using a pillow for comfort) and drop the mineral/water solution directly into your nasal passages. I usually do about 10 drops per nostril at a time. If you use this for a child, use considerably less until you know how much can be tolerated.  My son doesn’t tolerate this as well so I use less, maybe 4-5 drops for him. This procedure is safe for children, but some may be more sensitive to or unable to complete the process.

You may or may not feel a burning sensation, depending on the severity of your problem.  This is an indication that the minerals are working to move things out. If you feel the urge to sniff the solution up into your sinuses, go ahead and do this. Distributing the minerals up into your sinus passages is actually a good thing and will facilitate moving bacteria out. If you also feel the urge to expel anything from your sinuses by blowing your nose or spitting in the sink, go ahead and do this as well. This is a sign that the bacteria in your sinuses is starting to move out. When you stand up, you will likely feel noticeable relief from the material being expelled out of your sinus cavity.

If you catch a sinus problem early rather than wait until it has been around for days or weeks and is severe, you will have more success in eliminating the problem. I use this procedure at least several times a day, and continue until I am certain the infection or pressure is gone (sometimes this is necessary for days or a couple of weeks, depending). If you need more support, you can also use a buckwheat or rice pack heated in the microwave and put it over your sinuses to help alleviate sinus pain both while you are doing the drops or alone. I find this very soothing and effective at helping to move pressure and infection out.

Fermented cod liver oil – this is a food as well as a great remedy for colds, flus, and other illness. Although we take FCLO everyday, if someone in my family is sick, we load up on this important food which is packed with nutrients like Vitamins A and D. We use Green Pastures Products Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

Garlic – a great, natural antifungal, immune booster, and detoxifier. Eat raw (if you can stand it). Or, crush a few cloves of garlic and add to 4 cups water, bring to a boil and then sip. Garlic is good for infections – bacterial and viral. Also good for sinus infections and is good for digestion. Garlic oil is great mixed with other essential oils like eucalyptus, tea tree, and echinacea and a carrier oil (see above) for ear infections and stopped up ear canals. Recommendations: Dr. Christopher’s Formula and Now Foods.

Goldenseal Root

Goldenseal root – this herb is a bitter tasting potent and used for aiding digestion, curing infections and inflammation, and can be purchased in powder form from the health food store. Although I have never used it for this purpose, it is apparently useful for canker sores and as an earwash as well, when added to warm water as a gargle or washing agent. It can also be applied topically to cuts, bruises, and infected areas of the skin.  Because it is expensive and concentrated, you only need small amounts at a time when purchasing from the store, and it is wise to remember that a little goes a long way.

I have used it successfully for conjunctivitis. The preparation you can make for multiple uses (see above) is about a 1/4 teaspoon to about 16 ounces (half a quart) of boiling water, and then drained the powder out with a cheesecloth. The remaining “tea” can be used as a wash for the eyes, ears or skin, or to sip several times a day. The “tea” can develop mold sometimes within a day or two, and should be kept in the refrigerator and until discarded and then remade until the infection is gone.

Recommended products: Nature’s Answer, Now and Solaray.

Olive oil – use on your skin and body for moisturizing, eat on salads and light cooking (low temperature heat), and for oil pulling. Oil pulling is a useful way to detoxify your body and remove dangerous substances. Use 2 tablespoons of oil, first thing in the morning before eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth. Swish the oil in your mouth for 10 minutes and then spit out into a garbage can. Oil pulling should be done multiple times for maximum effect. Improves mouth or gum disease, chronic infections and many other health issues. Recommended: Olive oils: Bariani Olive Oil CompanyWilderness Family Naturals and Sistema Organa.

Probiotics - if you are a person who regularly eats fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables, etc. you are probably getting a good supply of friendly bacteria from real food in your diet, which is essential to health. Sometimes though, we all need a boost. I keep therapeutic-grade probiotics in our house at all times, which we take daily, but also for when anyone is not feeling well – whether it’s a common cold, sore throat, flu, upset stomach, diarrhea, or anything else. Here are the brands we use: Biokult, Prescript-Assist, and HMF Forte. It is a good idea to switch brands every few months to ensure diversity of bacteria in the gut.

Good quality probiotics are essential to your health; it’s not a good idea to skimp on quality because the majority of products on the market do not actually contain the strains nor the numbers of bacteria shown on the label, contain genetically-modified material, fillers, and preservatives.

For sinus and upper respiratory infections or issues, break open a capsule and add some of the powder to your neti pot or to a sinus spray bottle. I cured a serious sinus infection with probiotics in my neti pot.

Probiotics are safe for children to take. My son takes them every day of his life, and when he’s sick, I give him more. I can’t think of any instance where he has had an upset stomach or diarrhea and probiotics didn’t improve his condition.

Raw honey – Honey is a natural as a dietary supplement and as a topical application for infections, flus, and colds and supports digestion and immune function. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of raw honey in warm water with 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon or take straight several times daily for coughs, colds, and related ailments. You can also take raw honey and cinnamon with lemon in water as well for health. It is also really effective for putting topically on burns and wounds. Combine with garlic for a “garlic tonic” by chopping up garlic into minced pieces, pour honey over it and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. After it has infused, remove the garlic and eat the honey. Great for colds, flus, infections, and general immune boosting needs.

Sandrine’s note: we recommend locally sourced, raw, unfiltered honey, however if it isn’t available in your area here are some options: Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey.

Sesame oil – is useful for massaging into the skin and for oil pulling (see olive oil above) to remove impurities and toxins from the body. Recommended: Tropical Traditions and Wilderness Family Naturals.

Last but not least, my home medicine cabinet wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the fact that our kitchen is always stocked with plenty of nourishing, real food.

What’s in your home medicine cabinet?

Photo Credits
Garlic Photo SunChild
Lavender Photo  Elizabeth Weller
Cayenne Pepper Photo  Maja Dumat
Aloe Vera Photo  Olaf Pokomy
Cranberry Juice Photo  Stephanie
Goldenseal Root Photo  Forest Farming
Disclosure
Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts.

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