Cold remedies

It’s cold and flu season, but *crossing fingers* I rarely catch the affliction. Here are my secrets.

Prevention

water

Aside from eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of grains, vegetables, fruits, and proteins, I do these things every day to prevent colds, the flu, and headaches:

  • Garlic pill. It’s odorless and is my sure-fire, fail-safe cold prevention. I never miss a day!
  • Netipot. I got a new netipot for my birthday. Love it! I do the netipot every day during spring and fall.
  • Drink lots of water and tea. Lots.
  • Nettle tea. If you’ve got allergies, drink nettle tea.
  • Wash hands often. And protect your skin with a good moisturizer.
  • Use essential oils like peppermint to clear sinuses and prevent headaches.

Remedy

If I start to feel like a cold is coming on, or I’ve been near sick people, I do these things, even if I’m not sick.

  • Continue with the prevention tactics.
  • Get extra sleep.
  • Eat lentil or split pea soup. Load up on the protein, naturally.
  • Drink pure pomegranate juice. Hint: mix pomegranate juice with Dark Chocolate Almond Milk by Silk for a tootsie-roll pop beverage. You get super antioxidants and protein in this yummy drink. (this does NOT work with cranberry juice)
  • Drink even more water and tea.
  • Put some peppermint oil or Vics vaporub on the bottom of your feet when you go to bed.
  • In addition to garlic, take a zinc supplement.
  • Many people use oregano oil to ward off sickness, but I haven’t tried it.

What is your favorite cold prevention or remedy?

We can solve it

Have you seen this ad on tv? I almost fell off the couch in shock, when I saw these two sitting together, agreeing to do something about climate change. It’s easy to do, it’ll save us all a lot of money, we’ll have a cleaner planet (who likes smog?), and we’ll help the environment. Here’s the ad with Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson.

Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich have also come together to tackle climate change (or talk about it, at least). It’s a wise move. While the videos won’t solve anything, they show that we can work together to make this a human issue, not a political issue. It’s something we can all agree on.

Green jobs are American jobs. You can’t outsource solar panel installation. If we don’t innovate soon, we’ll be buying “green” technology from our international competitors forever. That situation isn’t beneficial for anyone. We’ve got to start creating renewable energy technology. Oil is not the answer. Drilling in Alaska won’t help – that oil won’t be available for more than 10 years. Geothermal and biodiesel (from used vegetable oil – not food crops!) are available now, and they’re renewable.

It’s time people look past politics, toward the future. It’s only a political issue if we make it one. We’ve got to take this issue back and make it cooperative. Don’t let the politicians control the dialogue. We, as consumers, have to come together and do what’s best for our health and our planet.

Even if you dispute the science, don’t you want cleaner air? Cheaper power?

It’s about taking responsibility, not laying blame.

Let’s create a better life for everyone.

We can solve it. Ok, they changed their name to Climate Reality. I wrote this a few years ago, but it’s still relevant and impressive. And Climate Reality has a new project that will address Dirty Weather (caused by dirty fossil fuels) on Nov. 14, so check it out and see how you can get involved.

Oh Neti pot, how I love you

my neti potThis allergy season has been a real doozy. I’ve had everything from heartburn to sneezing and my Neti pot has been there with me through it all, keeping my sinuses clean (for a few minutes at least), and making sure I don’t get a cold. I normally do the Neti pot every day through cold season and it really helps keep the germs away. It also helps sinus headaches or sinus pressure.

Neti pots have been around for centuries, and became popular in the U.S. fairly recently. Many people use it to get rid of congestion and facial pressure.

Research backs up these claims, finding that nasal irrigation can be an effective way to relieve sinus symptoms when used along with standard sinus treatments.

WebMD

You can read the scientific and biological reasons for using the Neti pot over at WebMD. Basically, the saline solution used with the Neti pot helps your nasal passages work more efficiently and effectively. Dr. Oz loves Neti pots too.

Although you can buy Neti pot solutions, you can just mix 1/4 tsp baking soda with 1/4 tsp salt in 1 cup of water and put it in your Neti pot to flush out those allergens and irritants. Remember to use boiled water. I usually pour out a cup of water from my teapot before I make tea in the morning. That way, I’m getting boiled  water, but not boiling  water. (I heat my water for about 20 seconds in the microwave, so it’s not too cold, then add the baking soda and salt.)

There are many beautiful Neti pots out there, and you can get them at drug stores or health food stores. Mine is boring blue plastic because all the stores were sold out of the ceramic ones and I needed one in a jiffy. I love that elephant Neti pot!

If you want a real laugh today, check out Neti pot videos on YouTube. After using the Neti pot for a few months, you won’t even flinch, but in the beginning, it’s quite awkward.

Castile Soap

I discovered the wonders of Castile soap about two years ago. I don’t know why it took me so long, but I’m glad I found it. Castile soap is wonderful in so many ways.

Castile soapEndless uses

Castile soap can be used for

  • shampoo
  • laundry
  • facial cleanser (if you’re not doing the
    oil cleansing method!)
  • body wash
  • toothpaste?!
  • cleaning

The Castile Soap FAQ page has more details.

Environmental responsibility

The real magic in Castile soap is its gentle, earth-friendly ingredients. It’s certified fair trade, which means it’s people-friendly too. They call it “Constructive Capitalism,” which means they share profits with the workers and the earth.

All of the oils used to make the soap are organic. Though they use palm oil, it’s grown on decades-old plantations in Africa, not newly planted, a.k.a. clear-cut forests.

Castile soap is not tested on animals. And it’s 100% vegan, packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottle. (I like to buy the big one and put it into smaller, reusable containers.)

My experience

I used Castile soap as body wash, face wash, and laundry a few years ago. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the film that was left in my sink and tubs. However, I’m back to using Castile soap as a body wash. (I have another eco laundry method that I’ll post later.) I can put up with a little film, knowing that I’m using a product that matches so many of my values. Though the bottles seem expensive (maybe because I buy the big one to reduce packaging), it lasts forever and it’s just so good for you, the workers who make it, and the planet.

Check out Dr. Bronner’s website for all the details.

Flexible solar panels

A company in Germany (of course!) has invented flexible solar panels made from small, organic molecules on polyester films. They weigh a lot less than traditional solar panels, and they can generate just as much electricity! Solar energy is best collected in sunny and cloudy conditions.

Heliatek, the start-up company, has produced some proof-of-product demos, but they need a lot more money in order to build a larger (but still small) production factory. This little company needs a huge supply in order to make their product cost less. (Remember those good ol’ supply and demand laws you learned in macroeconomics? Here they are.) Currently, the flexible panels cost more than traditional panels, but as they sell more, and build a bigger factory, the cost of flexible panels could drop to 40-50 cents per watt!

A few other incentives for Europeans to start buying these panels

  • Builders won’t have to buy the heavy metal hardware to hold traditional solar panels.
  • The panels can be incorporated into concrete facades, not just windows.
  • Soon, policies in Europe will require buildings to produce as much electricity as they consume. (What!? That’s a great policy!)
  • They’re like tinted windows, only these ones produce energy.

It sounds like these will initially be sold to industries, not so much to individual consumers.

They need to become a little more efficient, but they have serious benefits to the future of solar power.

Heliatek’s complete panels (a panel is a collection of cells wired together) convert 8% of the energy in light into electricity (polymer solar panels are 3% to 5% efficient). Conventional silicon solar panels are 14 to 15% efficient, but the Heliatek technology’s good performance in low light  and high heat can make up for the lower efficiency.

Every little bit helps.

Thanks, Mashable, for this exciting story.

The Oil Cleansing Method

SunflowerI have a real passion for healthy skin. In fact, I often compliment people for having nice skin.

For years now, I have been on a quest to find the best products to help our biggest organ look its best. Some products have worked great.. others.. well I wish I could have that money back.

As part of my new year’s resolution, I have slowly started to move towards only using natural stuff. So after changing my cleaning products, tooth paste, shampoo, etc.. it came time for my skincare. Why, you ask? Think about all the harmful chemicals they put into lotion and skin care.. a lot of people do not realize they all get soaked into the body through the skin. No thank you!

After a trip to our local natural health food store I thought I landed a winner. However, my experience was less than hoped. I have roscea so my skin constantly looks irritated if I am not using the right products, well after two trips to the store I was still at a loss. That was until I discovered a pin on pinterest linking to this blog post.

The Oil Cleansing Method

I know what you are thinking, “Are you crazy?” or “Who would want to add oil to their face?”. Well after trying it, I can tell you who.. this girl! My skin has never looked better. In fact, after washing my face with it, you can’t even tell that I am not wearing make up (aka no redness at all).

The blog I looked at used this recipe:

  • Normal Skin- One part castor oil with one part sunflower oil
  • Oily Skin- 2-3 parts castor oil with one part sunflower oil
  • Dry Skin- one part castor oil with 2-3 parts sunflower oil

Directions

Moisten skin with the oil mixture, place a warm cloth over your face until you feel it cool and then wipe off. Sometimes if my skin is feeling extra dry, I will put more on and let it soak in while I sleep.

Some of the other places I researched used different oils other than sunflower oil like jojoba, almond, argon, olive, grapeseed.. the list goes on. Sunflower was easy for me to find at the store and so far has worked perfectly!

Palm oil vs. Coconut oil

Coconut TreeMany of us are aware of the destruction caused by palm oil. But what about coconut oil? Coconut oil seems to be the new trend among the vegan / vegetarian / environmental / health blogs. I’ve started using coconut oil as lotion and sometimes in baking, so I had to find out if coconut oil is as destructive as palm oil.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a lot of information about coconut oil. That could be good news – it’s not causing a lot of destruction; or bad news – the destruction hasn’t been noticed yet. I found one source, Mongabay, that describes the coconut oil market and lists articles related to forest destruction. It does not point to coconut oil as a source of forest destruction. It does, however mention palm oil; so I know it’s aware of the problem. Pretty good.

I really couldn’t find anything else. It seems that more research needs to be done about the sustainability of coconut oil. I’ll keep looking, and I hope you’ll post anything you find too!

Good things about coconut oil

Palm oil

OrangutanP.S. I never use palm oil. Ever. I’m stricter about palm oil than I am about hfcs or sugar! The good news is, palm oil is not in anything that I need. It’s only in processed food. And it’s unhealthy. Read up on the dangers of palm oil.

Your actions mean something! One company has promised to stop rainforest destruction due to palm oil.

Don’t you want to adopt that cute orangutan?

Licorice root

I’ve got this crazy heartburn right now. Not sure what caused it. Maybe the “mild” salsa in my southwest lasagna wasn’t that mild. Maybe it’s a side effect of the allergies/sinus infection that are plaguing me right now. I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t want to take a commercial antacid. I looked online for heartburn relief. Lo and behold, one of my favorite herbs can be a heartburn reliever. Licorice root!

Licorice rootI discovered licorice root in college. It’s doesn’t taste like black licorice, and it’s actually about 400 times sweeter than sugar, without the crazy brain effects. I have a bag of licorice root in the cupboard, so I ran right in and started chewing a stick. The heartburn is a little less intense and I feel better knowing that I have a natural remedy for at least part of this miserable situation. This morning, I’m drinking licorice tea, just in case my oatmeal sends me into spasms of pain. (10 minutes later… yes, oatmeal is giving me heartburn. oatmeal!)

Licorice root contains isoflavones and can be used for

  • sore throat
  • stomach ulcers
  • bronchitis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • depression
  • heartburn

Don’t take too much though. Licorice in large amounts (200mg a day) can be dangerous for the liver and cardiovascular system. It’s powerful stuff. (Some people buy it in pill form. I prefer the sticks.)

Sources

Spring Cleaning!

It’s that time of year! It really is quite funny how excited I am about cleaning my house but this year, besides getting everything sparkling clean, I had a new mission in mind. To actually do it all… and do it naturally!

Before I set out on this journey, I did some research for the best “recipes” for homemade cleaning products. I found two really great cleaning sprays, a furniture dusting spray and a multi-purpose cleaner.

Multi-purpose Cleaner

  • Mix equal parts water and vinegar
  • a few drops of essential oil

Since I try not to be wasteful, I reused my spray bottle from my Green Works cleaning spray that recently ran out and 4 cups water and 4 cups vinegar nearly filled it up. I also added some lemon essential oil to help cover up the vinegar smell. In the future I may add more seeing as my grandpa asked me later in the day what I had been doing with vinegar.

Furniture Dusting Spray

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon essential oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cup water

I bought a spray bottle for this since I did not have one on hand. Overall, this new experiment cost me so much less than going out and buying harmful cleaning products. For an idea of the cost let me share this with you…

  • Vinegar- $3 for a gallon bottle
  • Lemon Essential Oil- $4.99 from a local store or you can find oils on Amazon ( and you only use a couple drops for an entire bottle so it will last for years)
  • Olive Oil- already had on hand for cooking
  • Extra Spray Bottle- $1

Will I be doing this again? You betcha!!! Everything looks so amazing and clean. I think it is important to also note that the vinegar smell doesn’t linger (well maybe on your hands a little). Best part? It is completely non-toxic and my little children (aka pets) are safe too!

See doesn’t she seem happy about it?

Now let’s see…. what other cleaners can I make myself…

Charge your electric car at Walmart

Electric vehicle charging stationDrivers of electric cars can charge their car for free at the Easton Walmart. The store recently opened the first public charging station in partnership with American Electric Power. More charging stations are popping up around Ohio as electric cars like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf become more popular. American company, ECOtality (pretty cool stuff there!) provided the charging stations. –Columbus Dispatch

Walmart is also trying to innovate its shipping fleet with hybrids, biodiesel, etc. They estimate they could save $300 million.