"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Home Remedy Month- homeopathics

First, some updates:

Today is Isaiah's 8th birthday! Seems like just yesterday....

We found out on Tuesday that our baby... is a girl. We are very excited, especially Rosemary. We are still duking it out over names.

And, in my last post, I said Ed's job will be ending here in the forest in a couple months, and that we will be heading back to the city, most likely. I didn't say WHICH city, for the good reason that we don't KNOW which city!!! We hope to be able to share our plan by the end of April... provided we actually have one by then. (And don't worry, we have plenty of options, we just haven't made any decisions.)

To wrap up Home Remedy Month, I want to share a bit about how we use homeopathics around here. The best thing about homeopathic remedies is that they produce zero side effects. If you take or give a dose of the wrong one...

Nothing happens.

A helpful saying for understanding how homeopathics work is "One lock, many keys." As far as I understand, it means that there's not just one homeopathic that will work in any given situation, and also that there are lots of homeopathics you could try that won't work in a given situation. In other words, it's a little confusing to sort it all out.

In Mexico and many European countries, homeopathic medicines are utilized by MD's just as often as allopathic (mainstream pharmeceuticals) medicines. Unfortunately, in the late 19th century, Big Business in the form of newly formed pharmeceutical giants, started sponsoring medical schools and overnite homeopathics disasppeared from the curriculum.

Since there are plenty of excellent books on homeopathic medicine in any library, I won't go into their history or chemistry any more than that.

I have a small handful of homeopathic remedies that I use regularly because I 'know' them well. Similar to herbs, it can be more helpful to build your stash around a few remedies versus buying a huge kit containing dozens of remedies you're not sure how to use. And remember that the more sure you are that a homeopathic is the 'right' one for your situation, the higher dosage you can use.

(The other thing to remember is that strong herbs, mint especially, and caffeine 'antidote' homeopathics. So don't store them near your herbs or your coffee canisters and don't take them within 15 minutes to an hour of consuming any caffeine or mint products.)

Arnica Montana is the first one I have around with wild kids and a rocky canyon. Arnica is used just like its herbal counterpart- for any bump, bruise, strain or sprain that doesn't break the skin.

Hypericum Perforatum is used for nerva pain, and I use it for any bump that does break the skin. (Yesterday while partying with his friends, Isaiah busted his knee on a rock and Rose punctured her hand on a fence. I gave them both Hypericum and coated their little woundlets in lavender oil.)

Chamomilla (homeopathic chamomile) is helpful for cranky or restless kids, anywhere herbal chamomile would help.

Ignatia Amara is good for grief or emotional upset (read temper tantrum).

Hyland's makes a line of wonderful homeopathics for little ones- teething, colic, slepplessness, etc. Their Hyland's Kids' Kit is a great and inexpensive way to get started.

If you want a book, Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants is excellent and thorough.

Many moms prefer homeopathics to herbs because, as I mentioned, there are zero side effects and there is no danger if the wrong one is accidentally administered. Also, homeopathics require little or no preparation (what, stewing tinctures for months at a time isn't your idea of fun?) and take up a lot less space in the kitchen cupboards. And they travel better, I have to admit.

Personally, I find herbs to work more powerfully, but the more gentle action of homeopathics is really a plus for small children. In any case, combining your herbal arsenal with homeopathics can really yield the best of both worlds.

Tomorrow I'm introducing a new giveaway, so check back!!!

"The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around.... Throughout history, "tender loving care" has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing."
~Larry Dossey

"Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing."
~Redd Foxx

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Strewsday Tuesdsay- Spring has Sprung

Supposedly every Tuesday I am doing this, though I forgot the last 2 Tuesdays in a row- woops.

Strewing is a term some homeschoolers use to describe what I call 'setting the feast' (being a foodie, I always have a food metaphor for everything). What we give our children to spark their imagination, their learning, their play, their hearts.

And it's nice to record it somewhere so you don't lie awake at night wondering 'are they really learning?' And believe me, if you've never done that, you just haven't been homeschooling long enough!

An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life.
-Author Unknown

My little people are spending most of these beautiful days in our canyon, rock climbing, observing scat (endlessly awesome to them), catching and observing lizards, setting rabbit traps (that don't catch anything), and trying to get close to deer (I SAID DON'T TRY TO PET THE DEER!). Since we will probably be moving back to the city in a few months, I am letting them free range in our 'wilderness' as much as possible... not to mention I get to sew bibs, baby hats, and cloth diapers while the play in the dirt, which is a pretty big bonus for me.

Education... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.
-G.M. Trevelyan

We've been reading a lot of fairy tales from around the world every night. We really enjoyed the Italian Cinderella, Cenerentolla, last night, and we have actually worn to shreds this volume of Grimms' Fairy Tales, my favorite fairy tale collection of all times. So I just bought a new copy.

It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.
-Robert G. Ingersoll

Isaiah started his own blog:
which healps me to reduce the paper clutter around here. Every week we are selecting and posting his favorite drawing of the week. Maybe other than myself as a child, I've never seen a kid spend so much intense time with a sketch book. It's good for him because he's an intense person and needs a serious outlet.

My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young and inflame their intellects.
-Robert Maynard Hutchins

Later today we are going to Albuquerque for my sonogram, plus a trip to Barnes & Noble, since there are no real book stores within an hour or two of our home. We spend hours in there every time we go- I'll never take a big ol' bookstore with comfy chairs for granted again. The little people are very excited to see the baby... oh, and to use our free muffin coupon in the cafe!

I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice. That's what I call a liberal education.
-Tallulah Bankhead

I hope you all have a great week, full of good food, good books, and beautiful weather.

If you want to read more of my writing on education and mothering, check out Growing your Homeschool and The Catholic Nursing Mother's League blogs.


"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught."
-Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist," 1890

Monday, March 26, 2012

Herbs for Allergies

*DISCLAIMER* The author of this post is not a healthcare professional or a licensed herbalists. This information is provided for educational purposes only.*

Allergies suck. Food allergies, outdoor allergies... they suck. Those 2 types are what we deal with around here. The wildflowers and grasses are beginning to bloom int he mountains and we all have red eyes, plus mom has swollen sinuses and joints.

One of the finest ways to deal with the swelling (anywhere) associated with allergies is to EAT REALLY SPICY FOODS. (Incidentally, this is a Mexican folk remedy for allergies.) Jalapenos, cayene, real horseradish, and ginger are great for calming swollen sinuses and relieving aching joints. The 'hot oils' in these foods counteract the swelling caused by the allergic histamine reaction. That's why some people can't eat avocado without their throats swelling shut, but with the addition of enough chopped jalapeno, no problems, no near-death experience. Of course, my sister-in-law, who has this problem and solution, still keeps an epi-pen about just in case, but she's never had to use it.

(A note on hot peppers like jalapeno and cayenne: the 'hot oil' is called capsaicin, and it is amazing. It causes, among other things, the release of endorphins and lowering of blood triglyceride levels, just like when you exercise. New Mexico's heart disease rate is HALF the rest of the country's, though I'm pretty sure the overweight/ obesity rate is NOT half. Studies from the University of New Mexico link that to the very high rate of hot pepper consumption. Seriously, when local chile peppers are in high season, you can only buy them in the store in 40 lb boxes. Ummmm, do people really eat 40 lbs of hot chile peppers here? Yes, they do.)

Unfortunately when it comes to food allergies, no herb will help you much. Avoidance is the way most herbalists suggest dealing with food allergies. Sometimes, in the case of dairy allergies, extreme fermentation, usually in the form of really over-cultured kefir, can break down the allergens lactose and casein far enough to allow the individual to eat them without triggering a reaction. Not for us, unfortunately, but for some. Extreme kefir like that is good in smoothies or thickened as a sour cream or cream cheese sub.

As far as herbs go for seasonal allergies, stinging nettles, in the form of freeze-dried nettle capsules and tea, are helpful. Take them in advance of the season, following the dosage on your bottle, and drink any tea containing nettles 3-4 cups/ day. Mountain Rose Herbs (they should really pay me) make a great nettle-containing allergy tea called "Seasons of Discontent" that tastes great.

Well, that's it for me today. I've got a really messy kitchen because I made homemade pasta sauce yesterday but was too tired to clean the kitchen before bed... and I wanted to knit. It was really delicious and you can look forward to the recipe after I tweak it just a bit more.

"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes."
-e.e. cummings

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Echinacea: an Ounce of Prevention

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care.”
-Benjamin Franklin

(Is there a situation for which that glorious hypocrite doesn’t have a quotable quote???)

Well, Echinacea is not my favorite herb, I’ll be honest. Personally, I think there are so many herbs that taste good, why dabble in the incurably bitter?

In the case of Echinacea, it’s because there is nothing else that works like it. Period. (Well, maybe olive leaf, but that actually tastes worse… if that’s possible!) So in my apothecary, lavender is the queen, but Echinacea is the king. (See that? Spell check even capitalizes it automatically for some unknown reason!)

Not only is Echinacea a supreme preventative of… just about everything… it works for you once you get sick, too. The easiest way to take it is in tincture form. If you want to make you own tincture, you can use my super-cool tutorial:

More kid-friendly Echinacea recipes:

(Sorry, my computer has an unfixable problem that doesn’t allow me to post links, just cut-and-pasties.)

You can use Rosemary Gladstar's directions, too. However, for kids, I’d make the glycerite tincture, and add more cinnamon sticks than I did in my tincture, above.

I add the alcohol tincture to tea. Once upon a cinnamon stick, I used to drink an immune cocktail every day: 1 cup OJ with 1 teaspoon elderberry extract and 1 dropperful of Echinacea tincture. I started that when I was pregnant with Isaiah because that winter the flu was terrible but I didn’t want to get the vaccine. (NOTE: Echinacea should be avoided during the 1st trimester of pregnancy. Some sources suggest avoiding it throughout pregnancy, some indicate that it is safe after week 12. Always do your own reading and use your discretion.)

Now OJ is pretty much a verboten food around here unless it is fresh squeezed, and heck no, I’m not a committed enough foodie to fresh-squeeze orange juice every day. Sheesh, people, I have a life outside food.

So I sneak it into tea when I remember. Which is ok, as general protocol for Echinacea is to take it on and off, not continuously. So, maybe, 5 days on (M-F) and 2 days off (weekends). Or 2 weeks on, 1 off. I will swear that the winters I actually do that consistently, NO ONE gets even the sniffles. I’m usually not that consistent. Once you are sick, 1 dropperful of tincture every hour or two should kick a cold or other virus in a day or 2. Sneak it into a spicy, cinnamon-y tea, and children (and picky adults) don’t even notice.

John Paul, the kid who still licks the floor, and Rosie, the mud-eating queen, both had a runny nose earlier in the week and I brewed up a pot of strong Echinacea-rose hip-raspberry leaf tea with stevia and cinnamon (using green Echinacea herb) and made them each a thermos. They sipped all day and (to my surprise) they’ve been snot-free ever since.

Herbs for Kids makes a nice glycerite called Sweet Echinacea that is very tasty. I don’t buy it, because my kids think it is candy and pester me for multiple doses in an hour. It’s that yummy. This would be great for the non-tea brewers among you. (I really don’t think juice is a good thing to give kids. Ever. So I don’t even suggest it anymore, unless you really are going to fresh-squeeze it every day.)

Taking too much or very strong Echinacea will make your tongue numb, but this is harmless (and actually sorta cool). It will fade in a minute or 2.

Well, I could wax poetic for a few more pages about Echinacea, but I bet you’ve had enough, and I need to go feed my pregnant belly. So enjoy your tea today and come back and see us tomorrow.

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”
-Helen Keller

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fever Helpers

Fever in itself is not an illness. It is a symptom that your body is fighting one.

I will NEVER forget the winter of 2007... Rosie was due any day, and Isaiah came down with some mystery virus, the only sign of it being a ridiculously high fever.

At one point, we raced him to the ER during a fit of fever so high he was hallucinating. The fever was down by the time we got there and they sent us home. Phew. Saving us a thousand bucks, I'm sure.

A couple days later we took him to a clinic (Sunday afternoon of course) when his high fever simply wouldn't break. It's the talking to given us by the doctor on call that I'll never forget.

"Why are you so worried about a (insert cuss word) fever? I've got six kids and we never give them anything for fever. Fever is good. t's your body's way of fighting germs. I wouldn't give my kids Tylenol to break a fever. Ever."

Even if they ended up in one of those fever seizures?

"Correct. After infancy, it won't hurt them, it's just scary for mom and dad."

WELL! Thank you, doctor. No really. I had always heard such contradicting information on fever- it's good, it's bad, bring it down, let it go...

Now, I would never let a fever go so high that it sent anyone into a seizure, and Ed is so paranoid over fevers that if my self-help methods don't work- quickly- he breaks out the Tylenol.

So I try to be effective when a fever gets too high or goes on too long.

Ginger with lemon tea is one of the best fever reducers there is. Ginger itself is warming, working on the homeopathic principle that "like cures like." Plus, with a drop of stevia, it is delicious and my kids have never refused it. (Just place a few slices of fresh root in a cup, cover with boiling water, cover, steep 10 minutes, sweeten, and enjoy.)

The other herbal tea good for fevers is peppermint and lavender; use a half teaspoon lavender and a half teaspoon peppermint per cup, sweeten, and enjoy. Peppermint is a cooling herb. Lavender, you know, it’s just pretty much good for everything. In a pinch, you can use 1 drop peppermint oil and 1 drop lavender oil in a teapot of hot water; use organic oils; and be prepared for a strong tea! Editing to add: this essential oil tea would be appropriate for adults, but it would be too strong for small children. See the commments for some ideas on how to use eo's for fever in little people.

If your little people aren't big tea drinkers, well, let's face it, you're a bad mom.


Seriously, if your children hate to drink tea, there is a great brand of herbal glycerine extracts (sweet, not gross like alcohol tinctures) called Herbs for Kids. They make a "Temp Assure" that is very, very tasty, and works well. Could be a good choice for traveling, for adults or children.

*DISCLAIMER* This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of care by a qualified allopathic, homeopathic, or herbal professional.*

"Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Giveaway Coming...

April is fast approaching, and with it will come some cool reviews and a NEW BreadwithHoney giveaway! I think you'll be as excited as I am.

So be sure to stay tuned once Home Remedy Month wraps up. April will have a new theme (sorry, it's a secret!), multiple green products reviewed, and an uber cool giveaway to go along with it.

"Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul."
-The Koran

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Herbs for Headache

Serious headaches needs medical attention... blah, blah, blah.

*DISCLAIMER* The author of BreadwithHoney is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. Information here is for educational purposes only. Use all home remedies at your own risk and always consult your healthcare provider.***

OK, that's out of the way!

Headaches have different causes, so when looking for a natural remedy, you may need to try a couple before 1 works on yours' particular cause. Guess what my favorite remedy is for headaches?

Lavender Essential Oil

Apply it to your pulse points or inhale straight form the bottle.

If that doesn't work, do the same with Peppermint Essential Oil.

And if that STILL doesn't work, drink a glass of something super-sour, like 100% cranberry juice, or a whole lemon squeezed into a few ounces of water.

And if that doesn't work, for heaven's sake, take a Tylenol and go to sleep. Life needs you!

"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."
-William Shakespeare

Monday, March 19, 2012

Herbs for a Sore Throat

There are about a million herbal remedies for sore throats. I'm just sharing my 2 favorites.

Number 1 is just plain old salt water. I make it super-strong with Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
and baking soda. Then gargle away, every hour or 2. It works. It just doesn't make anybody big bucks, so you don't see commercials on TV for it....

Number 2 is licorice and cinnamon tea. These 2 herbs release a mucilaginous substance that coats your throat really well. You can purchase tea bags of Throat Coat Herbal Tea, which contain herbs that do this, too.

To brew licorice and cinnamon tea, just place 1 teaspoon licorice root (about 1 slice, licorice root is usally sold in slices) or 1/4 t licorice root powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon chips (or 1 cinnamon stick, or 1/4-1/2 t powder) in a large mug and cover with boiling water. Cover tightly while brewing at least 10 minutes. Sweeten with dark, raw honey or stevia as desired. Drink as much as you want, at least 3-4 cups a day when your throat really hurts.

Do you have a favorite home remedy for sore throat? I'd love to hear it!

"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another."
-Juvenal, Satires

*DISCLAIMER* The author of BreadwithHoney is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. Information here is for educational purposes only. Use all home remedies at your own risk and always consult your healthcare provider.***

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Herbs for Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids. Luckily, this pregnancy has been blessedly free of them. People don’t like to mention them. Right?

Hemorrhoids are varicose veins in that MOST uncomfortable of places. And they can pretty much ruin your day.

To prevent them, FIBER is the best weapon. After giving birth, one doctor I know recommends eating ¼ to ½ head iceberg lettuce every day. Sorta extreme, but very effective.

Once they arrive, nothing beats witch hazel fresh from the fridge. Apply with a soft cotton round and if you want, leave it there till you feel the need to replace it.

There are 2 homeopathic remedies that work amazingly well on hemorrhoids, too. The first is Hamamelis, which is especially appropriate if the hemorrhoids are accompanied by bleeding. (Consequently, Hamamelis is Latin for witch hazel, and is simply the homeopathic form of witch hazel.) The other common homeopathic for hemorrhoids is Muriaticum Acidum. There are other homeopathics for hemorrhoids, so reading up on all of them before you decide which to go with is helpful. (But remember, homeopathics are very safe so if you accidentally choose the wrong one, there are no side effects.) 30c is a good strength for quick relief.

*DISCLAIMER* The author of BreadwithHoney is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. Information here is for educational purposes only. Use all home remedies at your own risk and always consult your healthcare provider.***

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.... People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back."
-Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Herbs for Diarrhea

Diarrhea, cha-cha-cha.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Diarrhea can have many causes, but generally speaking, unless you are suffering from amoebic dysentery, the herbs and foods that will help are the same. Foods are always the safest, gentlest way to treat bowel imbalances. Magic Rice Tea is great for vomiting/ diarrhea situations. Oatmeal and yogurt are excellent for any diarrhea, any cause. Coconut water is great for rehydrating during diarrhea.

The very best herb for diarrhea is blackberry root, taken as a tea or tincture. The tincture can be hard to find, and honestly since diarrhea is the only thing I would use blackberry root for off the top of my head, I rarely have any. Raspberry leaf actually makes a good substitute and I always have that, since it works well for such a host of things. If you prefer tea bags: Raspberry Leaf, Herbal Tea .

The main concern with any diarrhea is dehydration. Know the signs and call your doctor if you see them. And keep offering the coconut water and rice tea!

"God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars."
-Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

*DISCLAIMER* The author of BreadwithHoney is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. Information here is for educational purposes only. Use all home remedies at your own risk and always consult your healthcare provider.***

Friday, March 16, 2012

Herbs for Heartburn

Heartburn is one of those things...

For most of us, heartburn is an annoyance and not a serious condition. The information here is for this type of occasional heartburn. Severe, prolonged, or constant heartburn should be overseen by a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Herbs are not miracle cures. That means if you are consistently eating a less-than-healthful diet, don’t expect miracle results with any herb. Herbs always work best when you are doing your best to eat a healthful diet and live a healthy lifestyle.

Peppermint is the “Digestion Doctor.” Occasional heartburn can be taken care of quite effectively with a strong peppermint tea. Loose peppermint is available at virtually any healthfood store. For the lazy, buy a brand of tea bags that come individually wrapped so they stay fresh. Traditional Medicinals is a great brand for tea if you need tea bags. While it costs a bit more than other brands, I can promise you their teas are much stronger than most brands. Brew this at the first sign of heartburn. Pour boiling water over your tea bag in a nice large cup and then COVER your cup tightly with a plate or saucer. Let it steep 10 minutes or more.

Mmmm- minty! Add a drop of stevia and enjoy.

If you are prone to heartburn or you know a certain meal may cause it, drink a cup 30 minutes before the meal and then again 30 minutes after the meal. Don’t wait for it to start. Peppermint tea is good for you, so no need to worry about drinking too much. (UNLESS you are a nursing mother. Mint herbs can adversely affect milk supply, so be aware.) Peppermint essential, just 1 drop, can also be added to your water glass at dinner to help avoid the development of heartburn after the meal. That can be a good choice when traveling, as a tiny bottle of Peppermint Essential Oil takes up little room and won’t get smashed like a tea bag might.

If you don’t care for peppermint (what’s wrong with you?), or you do happen to be a nursing mother, then another good digestive herb is anise. You can get anise in teabag form also. But I buy it by the pound and it gets used up! Use it just like peppermint. This is a traditional after dinner tea in Egypt. It is also used in Egypt for colic, and for many Egyptian babies, it’s the first “food” they will taste after mother’s milk.

Editing to add: One of my friends recently got sick of hearing me whine about pregnancy heartburn, so she told me to go drink some baking soda. Boy, it tastes gross, but a little baking soda dissolved in a little water gives lots of folks immediate relief from occasional acute heartburn. My mother-in-law confirms that this is the folk remedy of choice in northern Mexico.

"In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia."
-Charles A. Lindbergh, Life, 22 December 1967

*DISCLAIMER* The author of BreadwithHoney is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. Information here is for educational purposes only. Use all home remedies at your own risk and always consult your healthcare provider.***

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Well, we missed Strewsday Tuesday yesterday. Sorry, but we were at the PARK!!!

Today is my last essential oil post, I think. If I were stranded on a desert island, I would pick lavender oil and tea tree oil as my 2 essential oils. Because if you cut you foot on the coral, you're gonna need some good disinfectant.

Tea tree oil may not be pull-the-rabbit-out-of the-hat magic, but like lavender, it comes awfully close. Dh is currently using it to get rid of a rash (it seems like I have many tales of skin woes, which is odd, but we have been married 10 years, with 3 kids who like to roll in the grass, and moderately sensitive skin... oh, and my husband works around industrial chemicals!) that has baffled his doctor. His doctor wanted to prescribe a particularly noxious pharmeceutical, but I begged for 2 weeks to try to heal it naturally.

First we tried a geranium oil spray, in case the rash was viral or bacterial, but I suspected the rash was actually fungal. He likes the geranium smell, and wanted that to be the solution, hehe. But I had him switch to tea tree oil, neat- NO you shouldn't use tea tree oil neat (neat means undiluted)- unless directed by a qualified healthcare professional, and NO, I'm not one of those, but I do what I want. Anyway, the rash is almost gone.

Thank you very much.

Tea tree works on all sorts of germs, but it is superior on fungus (think YEAST). You can find directions for using it in a douche for vaginal yeast infections. You can add a drop to an all natural diaper cream for yeasty diaper rash, or just add it to a spray bottle with witch hazel and spray it on baby's bum before giving him plenty of naked time. A drop added to baby's bath will work on yeasty diaper rash, too.

Just like lavender, it is great on pimples. I have one right now, actually, and it really disturbs John Paul. Hang ona sec while I go put some on....

OK, hope that helps. He was trying to brush it off my face all day yesterday.

Tea tree is wonderful for cleaning. Tea tree in white vinegar is pretty much the world's best all-purpose cleaner. Add some lavender if the antiseptic, hospital-ish smell is more than you can bear. Great on bathroom surfaces, floors (diluted), whatever (sorry, I don't clean very much!).

If you happen to be the type of family that gets those unnameable illnesses- you know, not a raging bacterial issue, and whatever virus it is has no name an cure but tincture of time, and meanwhile kids are really cranky and, well, so are you... add tea tree with any of the lavender oil suggestions, on the stove to clear the air is my favorite, and pack a double whammy on your strange cold-shivers-tired-headache-stuffed-up junk.

It's realy easy to get your hands on inferior quality tea tree oil, so beware. The Body Shop used to sell a travesty of a product labelled tea tree oil. But when you read the fine print, magnified 20x with a monacle, it was really a jumble of crap with about 2% added tea tree oil. Not very effective when my sister tried to use it on a crazy skin infection several years ago. You need 100% tea tree oil. Latin name Melaleuca alternifolia. Buy a reputable essential oil like Aura Cacia or NOW. Mountain Rose Herbs would be an even better source; their oils are amazingly concentrated, so theirs I would never use neat, even on a lazy day. NOW oils just aren't as strong in my experience and their tea tree is what have used neat when I get lazy. And NO I'm not suggesting that as a good idea, more as a confession, really.

So besides your diaper bag (or purse) first aid kit, these three essential oils are a good way to green up your medicine cabinet. You can toss (no! not in the garbage! Find a community hazardous waste facility!) your cortizone creams, your cold medicines, and your antibiotic ointments at least, by now, if you've been reading through March.

I guess we'll need a diarrhea remedy, a heartburn remedy, a sleeplessness remedy, a fever remedy, and an allergy remedy to round out Home Remedy Month. Because I've got some really great food and nature stuff brewing, so I'm sorta eager to wrap up Home Remedy Month... like before someone sues me or something. Heh-heh, just kidding, you can't sue me because

*DISCLAIMER* The author is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. This information is for educational purposes only. Use all home remedies at your own risk.*****

"Man's heart away from nature becomes hard."
-Standing Bear

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Geranium Essential Oil

I remember the smell of broken geranium stems from when I was a girl... both my mom and grandma had lots of geraniums and that pungent, sharp smell is unforgettable.

Essential oil of geranium (also called rose geranium), though, smells very sweet, really too sweet. But it mixes well with other scents. It is a powerful wound healer, anti-depressant, anti-bacterial, and the list cgoes on.

Geranium is so powerful it should NEVER be used on infants under 6 months, and betwen 6-12 months only with the advice of a healthcare professional.

It must be strictly avoided during pregnancy.

My favorite use of geranium oil is as a remedy against staph infection. God forbid you and your family ever contract antibiotic-resistant staph. But we did. (I am referring to SKIN rash-type staph, not staph infection of open wounds!)

John Paul was just a baby. By the time Ed noticed this rash oon his trunk, it was bad, and I mean bad. He was prescribed oral antibiotics and chose to take them. When we all succumbed 1 by 1, thankfully, I caught it early and our PA thought a topical ccream would do.

Well, it didn't do. It was a big, fat, terrifying mess. Another PA suggested antibacterial body wash. Nice. Like I wasn't already breeding super-germs in my house!

Then one weekend Isaiah fell on his knee and I found a big puss-filled thingy on his knee. I was sure it was going to have to be lanced and drained. But I wasn't about to spend 6 hours and $600 in the ER for that. My friend and midwife suggested trying geranium oil on it while I anxiously waited for Monday morning to come. I used the oil neat (undiluted, and NO you shouldn't do that... it should always be diluted... I was just having a reeeeally bad day) and covered the area with a hefty bandage.

Monday morning, 10 am, PA's office. Bandage comes off. PA frowns. PA looks at me puzzled. "Where is it?"

It was gone. The quarter-sized, pus-filled boil had disappeared.


She actually asked me to give her info on geranium oil, as she had several patients really struggling with staph and she couldn't give them any more antibiotics in good conscience.

Over the next couple of weeks, we continued to have little staph spots appear but the geranium oil banished them all very quickly... WAY more quickly than the topical antibiotic we had tried first. Our PA continued to be awed and impressed by the superior results.

Generally, to use geranium on wounds or bacteria, yoou dilute it a few drops to a few ounces vodka or rubbing alcohol- use witch hazel if straight alcohol is too drying for you. Geranium in witch hazel also makes a great deodorant for sensitive skin that can't handle natural deodorants containing baking soda or salt.

The reason I had geranium on hand, though, was as a help for the after-baby blues. Avoid it while pregnant, but remember it after birth if you feel down in the dumps. Use the deodorant spray or just sniff the bottle a couple times a day. As my dh likes to remind me, the fatsest way to get a chemical into your blood stream is to inhale it.

Oh, and he's an industrial construction safety specialist, not a druggie, in case you were worried.

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."
-Emma Goldman

"Even if you think the Big Bang created the stars, don't you wonder who sent the flowers?"
-Robert Brault

DISCLAIMER* The author is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. This information is for educational purposes only. Use all home remedies at your own risk.*****

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lavender: the mother of all remedies

*DISCLAIMER* The author is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. This information is for educational purposes only. Use all home remedies at your own risk.*****

"How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways...."
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Some say the rose is the queen of flowers....

But she is so expensive!

Lavender is like the poor man's rose, then.

Lavender is an amazing cure-all, and as such, it really makes the backbone of my herbal medicine chest. The dried herb makes a lovely potpourri and repels bugs when tucked into linen chests and closets and drawers. You can use it as a tea, too, but I find the essential oil to be the easiest and quickest to use.

When purchasing essential oil of lavender, look for the latin names Lavandula officianalis or Lavandula augustofolia. If the bottle says spike lavender, Spanish lavender, lavender 50/ 50, or something like that, leave it on the shelf.

Most essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier before being applied to the skin or added to the bath. Lavender is an exception. So gentle, it can be applied directly to the skin, though many sources suggest diluting it anyway, to be on the safe side.

I'm really lazy, though. I use my bottle of lavender like a salt shaker and sprinkle it right on.

Here are some of the multitudinous uses you will find for lavender:

-headache remedy: unscrew the lid and inhale deeply, or rub a drop into each temple

-sting and bite relief: numbs the pain and itching right away and stops/ prevents swelling

-pimples: apply a drop directly

-general germicide: place a drop on the chest or shirtfront of a person sick with... anything; the vapors will go to work against all those germies

-viral infection: lavender has been proven to inhibit the reproduction of viruses, flu even; add a few drops to a bowl and place on the sick person's floor in an out of the way place, but near the bed, and fill with boiling water which will disperse the vapors into the air while the sick person sleeps (essential oil vaporizers work wonderfully, but they are expensive)

-prevention: lavender flowers or a drop od lavender oil (add another drop every half hour) in a pot of simmering water on the stove will keep the herb's
vapors in the air, help keep sinuses open, and can help prevent infection or its spread

-colds: use lavender flowers or oil in a traditional herbal steam treatment; see any published herbal resource for how to do this

-sunburn: lavender oil in your aloe will make it more effective

-stress: inhale lavender, sprinkle it on your pillowcase, bathe in it

-insomnia: not a true cure for insomnia, but the relaxing properties of lavender make it a good scent to sniff in the evenings in addition to whatever other remedies you use for insomnia

-inflammation: whether it's your joints, your skin, whatever, lavender oil in a massage oil like almond or coconut will soothe imflammation quickly

Buy lavender oil in small quantities. Essential oils do not have a long shelf life, compared to other herbal remedies. Never use undiluted lavender on babies; never use essential oils of any type on babies under 6 months without the advice of a qualified natural-friendly healthcare professional.

Because lavender is cheap and radily available, it is a great place to start with herbal home remedies. Check out a book from your library on herbal remedies or hebal medicine and I guarantee you will find dozens more uses for the miraculous stuff.

Happy healing!

"Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,
When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.
Who told you so, dilly, dilly, who told you so?
'Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly, that told me so."
-English folk song

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Strewsday Tuesday: Spring!

Although I know the bad weather will come back, for now it's spring, and I'm a happy mommy. We spent nearly all day Sunday down in our canyon and then yesterday, too.

However, yesterday, just after noon, we ran into- or rather they ran into us- a group of deer, 3 large bucks and 2 does, who wanted to use the path. Our canyon is part of a deer migration path and it's the time of year when they start moving, and more than just at dawn and dusk.

We had some good converations about migration and respecting wild animals. (Deer are not harmless creatures... there have been some serious incidents recently!)

The one real object of education is to have a man in the condition of continually asking questions.
-Bishop Mandell Creighton

Isaiah continues his obsession with Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. We found 2 in the free section of our library's used book store; he's in heaven.

Rosie and Isaiah both are prepariing for their spring dance performances which is fun and exciting, but a little exhausting for mom.

My parents told me, "Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving." I tell my daughters, "Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job."
-Thomas L. Friedman

Tomorrow is our monthly morning at the Bradbury Science museum. They have an excellent program for homeschoolers on a different science topic every month- last month was Atoms. Every morning concludes with a Bill Nye the Science Guy video. My kids are officially in love with Bill.

You can get all A's and still flunk life.
-Walker Percy

Other than that, my kids will be learning about bartering this week. I'm taking my box of never-used-much baby stuff into the consignment store in Santa Fe this afternoon and working out a trade for a new Beco baby carrier. I drive a hard bargain when I really want something. Er, hard but fair of course!

"If you sincerely desire a truly well-rounded education, you must study the extremists, the obscure and "nutty." You need the balance! Your poor brain is already being impregnated with middle-of-the-road crap, twenty-four hours a day, no matter what. Network TV, newspapers, radio, magazines at the supermarket... even if you never watch, read, listen, or leave your house, even if you are deaf and blind, the telepathic pressure alone of the uncountable normals surrounding you will insure that you are automatically well-grounded in consensus reality."
-Ivan Stang, High Weirdness By Mail

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Earache Remedy

Talk about ridiculously simple. This earache remedy is one of my favorites. Although mullein grows abundantly here, and its flowers make a superb infused oil for earaches, I am too lazy to do that. So here, in its stead, is an earache remedy for dummies and lazy folks.

Take a 1 oz. dropper bottle.
Fill 3/4 of the way with rubbing alcohol.
Add 3 drops tea tree essential oil.
Cap and shake.

Add 2 drops to the affected ear as needed.

This remedy is found in several of Rosemary Gladstar's books. My mother-in-law also confirms that rubbing alcohol alone is used in Mexico as a folk remedy for ear infections and ear pains of all types.

We rarely to never get ear infections or earaches, but in early December, I developed one in both ears that was excruciating. We were on the road and the first thing I did when we got home was mix this up. It provided instant relief. In January, Isaiah got some water stuck in his ears by over-zealous neti-potting, and woke up at 2 am screaming with ear pain. These drops also worked in moments for him.

"Ah, me, herbs cannot cure love!"

Friday, March 2, 2012

Natural 1st Aid Kit

With warm weather approaching... um, it is approaching isn't it???- my thoughts turn to my neglected daypack. (Not, at the moment doing double duty as a diaper bag.) In addition to the usual stuff a mom needs for a day away from home, I always carry a 1st Aid Kit. Always. You never know with a gaggle of kids in tow!

It's easy and inexpensive to put together your own kit full of all-natural remedies. The key is to use versatile remedies to avoid lugging the whole medicine cabinet with you.

Here is what I carry:

Tiny pair of sharp scissors
Tiny pair of tweezers
Needle (in case those tweezers don't cut it)
Safety pins, just 2 or 3
Lavender oil- the heart of any minimalist, all-natural 1st Aid Kit for on the go- see below
Arnica salve or pastilles- see below
Rescue Remedy- see below
Alcohol or iodine swabs (not strictly necessary if you carry lavender oil)
Anti-itch cream or spray for mosquito bites, etc.

Lavender oil: this little miracle replaces lots of other junk. Take several deep whiffs for headache relief. Drop one drop on any type of sting for immediate analgesic relief. Use instead of an anti-biotic cream or gel; it's a very powerful antiseptic. Dab on skin rashes, too. Lavender oil is one of the ONLY essential oils that can be used "neat," that is, straight, even on kids. Most every other eo needs to be diluted in a carrier oil or in water, making other oils rather cumbersome for on-the-go usage.

Arnica gel/ salve/ pastilles: water-based preparations of arnica are considered homeopathic; oil-based are considered herbal. If that's Greek to you, just know that strong herbs, such as lavender, can diminish the effectiveness of homeopathics if stored together. I like to use an oil-based salve of arnica to avoid this issue. Arnica is for bruises, sprains, bumps, etc, WHEN THERE IS NO BROKEN SKIN. Arnica should absolutely never be used on open wounds.

Rescue Remedy: technically a homeopathic remedy for stress, anxiety, and violent emotions in general (think temper tantrum from over-tiredness, hunger, etc). This is a ready-made remedy made by a company called Bach. You can buy this as an alcohol preparation, a spray, or in pill form. I like to keep this separate from my main kit in my bag, as the lavender can deactivate its awesome powers :). Pastilles (pills) are nice for kids, but so is the spray- spray in the mouth, on this skin and rub in, etc. I find the original alcohol tincture impractical for on-the-go. (Sometimes Amazon puts these remedies on sale: Rescue Remedy.)

Well, I hope that gets you dreaming about warm days in the woods.

"We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today. I don't think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you're hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time."
-Art Buchwald

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March is Home Remedy Month!

Well, it is at BreadwithHoney! In an attempt to get back to regular blogging, I'm going to share with lots of super-duper-simple remedies for all sorts of things.

***DISCLAIMER*** Maureen, owner of BreadwithHoney is neither a healthcare professional nor a certified herbalist. Any information here is for educational purposes only. Use at your own risk. Always cross-consult 3 published works before using any herbal remedy.***

My philosophy when it comes to home remedies is definitely to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Rosemary Gladstar wrote something like she'd rather see an herbalist who can use 1 herb in 50 ways than an herbalist who can use 50 herbs only 1 way. My lazy thought exactly!

I like to keep herbs around that are SAFE and versatile. Plus, using fewer herbs for more things keeps the herbal apothecary hogging only a reasonable number of kitchen cabinets!

Some of my favorites are ginger, lavender, tea tree, rose hips, raspberry leaf, peppermint, and geranium. Lavender is really the mother of my herbal repertoire. There used to be a book called "The Lavender Essential Oil Bible" which is out of print. And anyone who wants to make me really happy should feel free to find this book and send me a copy.... Anyway, lavender is as close as I've ever been to magic!

I hope you'll join me this month and glean some useful, or at least interesting, information.

"If the day and night be such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more immortal - that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself."
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden