Thieves Oil

Have you heard the story of the Four Thieves of Marseilles who successfully robbed people afflicted with the bubonic plague in the 14th Century? It’s rumored that their armor was a blend of herbs and oils diluted in white wine vinegar which they doused themselves with before going out & plundering the community… and they never became ill! A modern-day “Thieves Oil” exists today with numerous uses - household cleaning when diluted into a spray bottle, diffusing into the air for immune benefits, massaging on the feet with a carrier oil to help ward off colds and pathogens during flu season, or even using a few drops in a capsule to take orally for your immune system. If your family tends to get their fair share of colds and germs passed around each Winter, consider using a Thieves blend at home for wellness purposes - diffuse this blend for 30 minutes a few times each day in different rooms of the house to clean and purify the air while making your home smell divine. 

Thieves oil blend:

40 drops of Clove Essential Oil

35 drops of Lemon Essential Oil

20 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil

15 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil

10 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil

Can we find Mindfulness in Tech?

My iPhone can be a huge mindless distraction at times and a huge help in others. I’m sure this is the case for most of us these days. I’ve been thinking of ways to make my iPhone work more FOR me than against me lately… so that I’m feeling more of the true usefulness it can offer, rather than the tempting diversions. I’ve come across a few great apps that promote mindfulness and healthy living (beyond your basic Nike & Health fitness apps) and am very happy to share them with you! 

Daily Water: This was just so relevant for me right now I had to download it. It can remind you to drink water / hydrate yourself at different times of day and towards a goal of 8 glasses per day (or however many you want) on average. I set it to remind me 3x a day to drink water - and find that’s more than enough notifications in one day to keep water in my mind  - and mouth. If you have trouble with hydration, I recommend using an app like this for a few weeks to get yourself in the habit of drinking more, then you can delete it! 

Headspace: This is a wonderful mindfulness meditation app for beginners. The free app gives you 10 meditation sessions (they call it the Take 10) that are based in mindfulness of the body and the environment around you. The guide has a nice, relaxed, British accent and his voice is very natural and personable to me. Once you complete your first session, the next one is unlocked for you for the next day - the idea is that starting with 1 meditation, 1x a day, for 10 days will help establish a habit of creating more “headspace” in your life. 

Stop, Breathe & Think / Calm: These are 2 other meditation based apps that I like. Stop, Breathe & Think uses lots of infographics like Headspace but has some nice guided meditations on different topics that may apply to your emotional/mental state - like one on Great Compassion, Gratitude, or Being Present. The guide tends to talk a lot through these sessions - so if you find that a bit much, you can simply use their self-meditation timer that has a lovely gong sound to begin and end your session for the more seasoned user. Calm also has a self-meditation timer, timed guided sessions of any length you may want - 2, 5, 10, 20 minutes - and some nice visual relaxation scenes if you are using it on a laptop or computer. It’s a great break from long hours of computer work! 

Moment: Like I said, the iPhone can provide many distractions and mind-numbing habits. If you find you are checking your phone gratuitously for emails, social media, news, photos, games etc on a chronic basis - consider an app like Moment that will let you know just how many times you checked your phone & how much time you are spending on your device in a given day. Some days will be more than others, but you can start to be more mindful, perhaps, of exactly what you did on your phone and whether it was helping you or hurting you (or others around you). They even have a family plan to monitor the kids phone usage if you feel it’s getting out of control. Their message is “Put down your phone and get back to your life.” Sometimes, I couldn’t agree more! 

As far as apps go, there is a thing as TOO MUCH information - even when it’s trying to be useful or make life more efficient- that can add more stress than benefit to your life. :) So download with care and delete when unnecessary. Oh, the conundrum of technology! 

Summer: Season of the Heart

When I think of June I always think of the beginning of long, hot summer days balanced out by a LOT of swimming in Deep Eddy or our neighborhood pools. Summer means we are moving out of Wood (Spring) and into the Fire phase of Chinese Medicine. In fact, the Summer Solstice was upon us this week on June 21st - the longest day of sunlight in the year! 

image

Summertime means warmth, light, activity, elation, and socializing. In Chinese medicine, summer is also the season of the heart organ, and during this season we should strive to balance the heart organ system with our food, actions, and intention.

The heart is seen as the emperor of the body, governing the blood and blood vessels, and storing our Spirit. It acts as a leader for the body and maintains order of thought and intention. If there is no order, chaos will occur and you may have anxiety, insomnia, inappropriate behavior, discomfort around people, heart palpitations, panic attacks, or stuttering. Just as blood pumped from the heart communicates with our cells, bringing them oxygen and nutrients, our heart is also responsible for social communication and thrives on love and warmth from people.

To keep the heart in balance during the hot summer months use the following foods: salads, fruits, beets, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, melons, brown rice, tofu, celery, sesame, slightly bitter greens, or longan fruit. Eat less red meat, fats, and extremely spicy foods. Stay connected with family and friends. Balance the fire and activity of summer with enough rest and time in the water! Water balances Fire. Meditation is also a valuable tool for quieting the busy Fire-type mind.

Summer Bummers? Best natural tips to prepare for the season.

Summertime… and the livin’ is easy… and a little bit brutal, especially in Texas! Try to stock your home with some of my favorite herbal products and tips to have a stress-free season.

1. Best Sunscreen: Badger Sunscreen (Adult or Baby): Badger consistently gets the best ratings for sunscreens from the EWG and is completely natural & organic certified. Badger products are NEVER made with nanoparticles or parabens, ever. I love the lavender scented sunscreen, but they also have fragrance free adult and baby versions. Since Badger is made with Zinc oxide it will tend to be more white in color than mainstream chemical sunscreens - this is a good thing and just takes a little longer to rub in, but is well worth it for your skin.

2. Best Sunburn Remedy: Ching Wan Hung & Egg White Mask: Ching Wan Hung is an all-time favorite medicine cabinet product at my house. It is a Chinese herbal balm for burns of all sorts - rug burns, sun burns, steam burns, even severe burns in hospitals! - it is amazing. Keep this at home all summer and see how handy it can be. If you are really in a pickle - whisk some egg whites and brush on a mask to your burned skin and let sit until it dries. You can repeat this remedy for several days until your skin looks healed and the redness has gone down. It’s truly remarkable!

3. Best Bug Bite Remedy: White Flower Oil & Cedarwood Oil: The mosquitoes. Thorns in our sides. I like to have these oils on hand for when the bites get too itchy or painful to handle. Dap 1-2 drops of oil into a cotton ball and apply it to irritated skin. With little ones, you might want to keep a vial of diluted cedarwood oil on hand for applications, as using the pure essential oil can be too strong for them, although the white flower oil is ready to go!

4. Best Ear Ache Remedy: Onion steam & Grapefruit Seed Extract: Long ago, I posted my favorite home remedy for ear aches - the onion steam. You can read all the details of that right here. If feels so good, and releases so much pressure on the inner ear. In addition to the steam, for swimmer’s ear or bacterial ear infections you can easily use hydrogen peroxide drops in each ear, or Grapefruit Seed Extract ear drops. These have always worked so well for me - tea tree oil & grapefruit seed oil are both anti-bacterial, anti-biotic, and anti-microbial, and the combination of the two really cuts out any pain-causing junk. Put a couple drops in each ear and wait for the liquid to penetrate deeply inside the ear canal before shaking it out.

5. Best Acne/Skin Products: Wake up and smell the Rose! Rose is sort of a cure-all for redness problems. In homeopathy, like treats like, so rose (being red) can treat a multitude of red skin issues while promoting a healthier, softer, smoother looking complexion. My favorite rose-infused products are Weleda Wild Rose Facial lotion, Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater, and Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel (alcohol-free). I use these simple products daily on my face - especially during the hot and harsh months - and have never had less skin issues in my life.

Do you have any favorite remedies to combat summer bummers? I’d love to hear them. Now, let’s go swimming!

Sinus Steam

Happy New Year! First post of the new year, let’s get down to business. 

Soooooo many folks sick right now. It’s really the hardest time to maintain your health when it’s freezing and windy, people are traveling, not eating well, stressed out, allergies are high, and pathogens are being passed around like crazy. We had a little bug passed around over Christmas, and I ended up with what seemed like a sinus infection. First one as an adult! Deep congestion, hard to get it out, face & sinus pain, toothache, green snot… not fun. If anyone is having similar symptoms, try this home remedy to help get rid of bacterial infection, open your sinuses, and relieve pain. It got rid of my sinus pain and toothache almost completely after 2 days, and no more green snot, either. I’d say that’s pretty effective!! Eucalyptus and Tea tree oils are very inexpensive, and great to have on hand - both anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. Oregano oil is pricier but extremely effective in fighting stubborn infection. 

Sinus Steam Cure:

Eucalyptus essential oil

Tea Tree essential oil 

Oregano essential oil, optional

LIght weight towel or large linen/cheesecloth towel

Large pot filled with 3 inches of water

Tissues

Add 3-5 drops of all oils into water in a large broad pot on the stove. Bring water to about boiling and then turn off the heat. Stand over the pot, drape the towel over your head and the pot and breathe in the steam for 10 minutes, pausing to blow your nose with the tissues every so often when it starts to run & careful not to get your skin too hot. Get that crud out! Repeat 2x per day until symptoms improve. You can actually just leave this same pot of water on the stove and re-heat it several times to save oil. Put a few drops of these oils in your shower too for additional help! 

Medicine Kitchen Gift Guide 2014!

Do you have your heart set on healthy this holiday season? If so, let me lend a hand! Even if a “healthy holiday” sounds like the worst thing you’ve ever heard of, these heartfelt gifts will be the perfect find for the foodie, holistic mama, yogi, fitness fiend, nature-lover, or health nut in your life. These are truly some of my very favorite products to promote a healthy lifestyle and feel happy while doing it. Enjoy! 

image

Clockwise from top left: Texas Wildflower Smudge Bundle by Botanicals Folklorica; Raw Manuka Honey with Honey Dipper; Kids Food Group set by Melissa & Doug; bkr water bottles; Thug Kitchen cookbook; Japanese ceramic tea mugs; Magic Carpet yoga mat; Cacao powder and goji berries superfoods by Navitas Naturals; Citrus Blossom Dermabrasion skin scrub by Inventive Eco-Organics

Ridiculously Easy Raw Chocolate Bars

Some of you might think making your own chocolate sounds like a chore, one which you would be more than happy to simply leave to the professionals. I’m here to tell you this: making your own chocolate could not be ANY easier than this recipe I’m about to share. It’s only 3 basic ingredients. No cooking involved. Just mixing & freezing. Making raw chocolate - without cooking or heat involved - is actually wonderfully healthy for you as well. It is completely, 100% guilt-free dessert! I’ve been mixing up some batches lately and here are my favorites picks for superfood-infused raw chocolates that will make your heart sing: 

Homemade Raw Dark Chocolate:

3 Tbsp organic, unrefined coconut oil

3 Tbsp raw cacao powder

1 tsp raw honey (you can adjust more for taste)

Mix coconut oil and cacao powder in a small bowl and set that bowl inside a larger bowl filled somewhat with warm water - leave the cacao mixture here until the coconut oil softens. Mix well. Stir in honey and any other liquid or powder ingredients you might add (see my variations below), pour into a small dish lined with parchment paper. Freeze until solid - just an hour or so. EAT! 

Raw Maca - Goji - Chocolate (pictured above): Mix in 1 tsp maca root powder to cacao mixture and stir. Sprinkle with goji berries before freezing. I call this the Yin/Yang chocolate. Maca root is a yang tonic, goji berry is a yin tonic - so together they build the yin (substance) and yang (function) energies of our body. A great chocolate to activate your kidneys, which help with our most primal functions of reproduction/fertility and stress recovery. 

Raw Orange Peel - Almond Chocolate: Sprinkle orange zest and flaked almond slivers atop raw chocolate mixture before freezing. This one’s not really on the therapeutic side, unless tasting really good is enough therapy in itself?

Raw Ginger - Turmeric Chocolate: Add ¼ tsp ginger powder & ¼ tsp turmeric powder to cacao mixture and stir. Freeze as is, or top with more fresh grated ginger before freezing. Ginger and turmeric are both invigorating, anti-inflammatory herbs that can help with arthritis and bursitis conditions. If you have pain or poor circulation, go ahead and pump up your chocolate with these. 

yum. 

Gluten-Free (Flourless) Pancakes

My sister emailed me a recipe for gluten-free pancakes a few weeks ago and claimed they were the B.E.S.T. After my mom made them, and my DAD claimed the same thing, I decided I had to try them, at least once. See, I’m no big pancake eater or maker, for that matter. But I was drawn to the idea of a gluten-free, no refined flour, low sugar, higher protein, and still tastes great and looks great pancake. My first batch wasn’t all that. But after tweaking the recipe to my liking, I found these to truly be pancakes worth sharing. When you are in the mood for that little indulgence and don’t want to feel guilty or gross afterwards - here’s what you do:

Gluten-Free Pancakes

½ C gluten-free whole oats*

½ C whole milk cottage cheese

1 whole egg + 2 egg whites

¼ tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger 

small pinch sea salt

½ tsp natural vanilla extract, optional

Makes about 4 medium sized cakes. 

That’s it. It’s super easy. Blend all these ingredients in a blender until batter is smooth. Use some coconut oil to grease your pan and start flipping away! These cook rather quickly; once you flip them once to the second side, you will the see the pancake rise in the center and inflate a bit. Once it stops rising, it’s done. Add some fresh fall fruit or pumpkin puree on top and enjoy (with only a slight drizzle of maple syrup and butter if desired). That’s all they need! A true treat. These also don’t taste an inch like cottage cheese, if you are not a fan. Tested on a husband who avoids it like the plague. :)

You can also double this recipe and make for the whole family, or save some batter for yourself in the fridge to use throughout the week for a fast and delicious breakfast. 

*Oats are naturally gluten-free, but most companies package them in facilities where contamination from other gluten sources is inevitable - so certainly for a serious allergy, look for a brand that states gluten-free on the label.