Simple Swaps You Can Make Right Now To Ease Your Body Burden Today And Heal

Simple Swaps You Can Make Right Now To Ease Your Body Burden Today And Heal

Have you ever heard the term “body burden”? Body burden is the toxic load we place on our bodies from day-to-day living that can lower our quality of life and negatively affect our health.  We add to this burden by using toxic body care products and household chemicals like cleaning products and pesticides. The kind of water we drink and the foods we eat play a role, as well as over-the-counter and prescription drugs … these play a big part in overburdening our bodies.

Our body burden starts growing even before we are born! Studies have found that babies today are born with more than 200 man-made, industrial chemicals already in their blood. This number will grow and maybe even quadruple by adulthood. That is astounding!

Only about 200 of the over 80,000 chemicals used in commerce have ever been studied for safety. And 20% of those 80,000 are kept as “trade secrets.” So, we don’t really know the effects these chemicals are having on our health, or even know what chemicals we’re being exposed to in some cases!

Different chemicals have different effects on people depending not only on the specific chemical, but on the amount, timing, duration, and means of exposure to that chemical. These chemicals can cause direct damage to the body’s organs including the heart and brain. The bones, blood, nerves, reproductive and endocrine system can all be affected by body burden!

When I was pregnant with my second child in early 2005, I began delving into natural/home-birthing books and started dabbling in creating organic baby care items. I simply was not satisfied with the items I was seeing on the shelves in regards to diaper creams, powders, and baby washes. There is very little extra care that goes into the mass production of these products that you see on the baby aisle at your favorite store. There are still toxic chemicals present and artificial colors & fragrances “trade secrets” that your baby readily absorbs into the lungs and via the skin!

I began having “a-ha moments” quite often since discovering that not every product on the shelf was going to be safe to use! I was a bit naïve in my early 30s, but I am thankful to have awakened to better ways to care for my children, myself, and my husband! Today, there are *thankfully* many more healthy options available to the consumer!

This article isn’t about baby care products but I thought I would mention MY personal turning point!

You cannot eliminate every point of exposure to toxins but you CAN reduce and control it. And by reducing your exposure to toxins, you can reduce the effect they have on your health.

Let’s take a look at some simples swaps you can make right now to ease your body burden!

>>Air Fresheners

I always balk at the term because these mainstream “fresheners” are nothing but junk that can cause serious harm.  Air freshening products can contain dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde and phthalates that can contribute to asthma, nasal allergies, headaches & migraines, infertility & birth defects, and even cancer. Formaldehyde is a well-known human carcinogen that has been definitively linked to cancers of the nose and throat. Naphthalene is another chemical found in the majority of air fresheners and it has been shown to cause tissue damage and cancer in the lungs of rodents in laboratory studies. It is plausible to assume that it causes similar effects in humans.

Children are particularly vulnerable to these chemicals but anyone at any age can be affected.

Air fresheners include plug-ins, aerosols, certain candles, and carpet powders.

<<What to use instead:

Invest in an essential oil diffuser to safely scent your home with lovely botanicals! You don’t have to spend a fortune; many home diffusers can be purchased for under $40 and will last for years. Some of my favorite essential oils to diffuse for a clean, fresh, and inviting aroma are lemon, lime, sweet orange, cinnamon, spearmint, and lavender. Mix and match your favorites!

Making carpet deodorizers is simple. All you need is baking soda and essential oils. For each cup of baking soda, use about 30 drops of essential oil. Mix well, store in a jar with a lid, and sprinkle on carpets as needed to deodorize and freshen! Allow the powder to sit on the carpet for at least 30 minutes before vacuuming it up.

Lost River Naturals’ Sacred Space Aroma Spray is a fantastic, cleansing/purifying, grounding scent for the home using pure essential oils!

Choose soy, coconut, or beeswax-based candles made with essential oils instead of artificial fragrances and paraffin wax. Etsy is a great place to discover handmade, non-toxic candles! Or if you’re the DIY type, candle making is a fun and easy project!

Fresh Lavender Buds and Lavender Essential Oil

>>Scented laundry products

Like air fresheners, scented body products can cause just as much (or more!) damage to the lungs and body as a whole due to the chemical fragrances they off-gas. One thing I simply despise is smelling someone’s “clean” laundry that refuses to go away! These scents (sticky molecules) remain on the clothing long after it has been laundered and affects the surrounding air and even STICKS to your lungs! Yuck!

Studies show that air vented from machines using the top-selling, scented, liquid laundry detergents and scented dryer sheets contain hazardous chemicals, including two that are classified as carcinogens. Manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients used in fragrances, or in laundry products, and these chemicals are not even regulated.

One particular study, with findings published in the journal ‘Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health’ is alarming. The study focused on chemicals emitted through laundry vents. Analysis of the captured gases found more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants, coming out of the vents. Of those, two chemicals — acetaldehyde and benzene — are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as carcinogens, for which the agency has established no safe exposure level.

These products can affect not only personal health but also public and environmental health. The chemicals go into the air, down the drain, and into bodies of water.

<<What to use instead:

Choose “free and clear” laundry detergents when possible or those scented with pure essential oils.

‘Ecos’ brand laundry liquid is a favorite of mine that contains none of these harmful chemicals mentioned above. We use the ‘free and clear’ version of ECOS laundry detergent.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the brand “biokleen’. This company makes natural, biodegradable laundry powders and liquids too that seem to be very popular in the natural health community, although I have not tried this brand myself.

Again, if you are the DIY type, there are many easy, homemade recipes to try like this one:

that WORKS LIKE CRAZY and will cost pennies per load to save you a lot of money and worry!

>>Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

This category I could write on for days and days but I won’t!  I will simply share some of my favorite resources so you can easily see for yourself if what you are using may be causing harm.

You can imagine the amount of chemicals present in cosmetics and body care products when the industry is largely unregulated. Many ingredients are not even listed on packaging… ingredients like:

1,4 Dioxane which is a contaminant linked to cancer found in products that create suds, such as shampoo and liquid soap

Formaldehyde, a carcinogen, which is a byproduct of the manufacting process of commercial products.

Coal Tar which is found in many hair dyes, lotions and soaps may not appear on the label but it’s also a nasty additive that elevates cancer risks. 

And these may be listed but must be avoided…

Talc which may contain asbestos, found in makeup and body powders

Parabens which can mimic hormones and disrupt the endocrine system as a whole and contribute to breast cancer. Parabens are widely used in fragrances, make-up and body care items since the 1920s to help preserve products and prevent bacterial growth.

Toluene, found naturally in crude oil and is added to gasoline. It’s used in the making of many products including hair dyes and nail products.

The list of chemicals to avoid is too long to publish, so I suggest spending some time on the sites linked below:

Here is a wonderful resource to delve into (Campaign For Safe Cosmetics):

and The Environmental Working Group’s site, “Skin Deep” . This is a huge database where you can get a safety rating on hundreds of brands.

<<What to use instead

Since a lot more people are looking for natural personal care items today, they are easy to find! Just look around my website shop right here for organic deodorants, natural tooth powder cleanser, face care, body care and more! I have dedicated my life to creating products that are not only safe for the family, but really work and won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out on anything! If you haven’t shopped my offerings, I hope you at least take a look, beacuse I am so proud of what I do (and we use it all here at home!)  Shop – Lost River Naturals

Natural products for the body are beautifully designed. Once you try natural make-up or face serums or deodorant, you’ll wonder why you ever used the chemical stuff! It’s simply NOT NEEDED. 

When shopping for natural cosmetics and personal care, just read the ingredients just like you do when shopping for natural foods at the grocery store. The simpler the better! If it’s something you cannot recognize or pronounce, it’s most likely not a natural product. (except maybe for latin/botanical names of herbs and essential oils, those can get pretty tricky but they ARE safe!)

When I first discovered that the products I was buying off the shelf may not be safe, I wanted to panic and throw everything out at once! This may not be the best answer for you especially if you are on a budget or are feeling overwhelmed like I was! I suggest replacing 1 or 2 items at a time, then move on.

I bet once you start looking you will find that many products are multi-purpose! When you simplify you will more organized, save money, and actually start using the products you have on hand.

And, again, if you’re the Do It Yourself type, dive in and have some fun trying out different recipes at home that will make you feel better, LOOK better and even live longer!

with love,

Owner of Lost River Naturals

8 Positive Herbal Tea Benefits For Your Soul

8 Positive Herbal Tea Benefits For Your Soul

Brewing a cup of herbal tea is one of the most simple things you can do to tend to your health! 

Herbal teas support your well-being in several ways. An excellent herbal tea also referred to as a “tisane,” uses a specific blend of herbs and spices to create an aromatic and flavorful tea that can nurture and support overall health.

Ayurveda, India’s ancient healing system (literally meaning The Science of Life), regards warm water as a powerful “Anupan,” a vehicle or carrier substance to bring herbs and their healing properties deep into the system. Sipping warm herbal tea regularly is considered one of the most impactful methods of using herbs for health!

Effective herbal tea blends are created with the wisdom of our ancestors and modern science to help achieve a specific effect in the body. 

8 Positive herbal tea benefits:  

  1. healthy sleep patterns 
  2. natural immune support
  3. strengthening metabolism and digestion 
  4. alleviating pain 
  5. reducing anxiety
  6. balancing hormones
  7. lowering blood pressure
  8. addressing grief and loss

Most Americans would not dream of starting their day without a cup of coffee. But what if you began your morning routine with a warm, comforting cup of herbal tea instead? Imagine the positive health impacts this practice would bring over the course of several days or weeks! 

Ending your night with a botanical blend is also very much recommended and will ensure a good night’s sleep. Nightly tea habits also support the body’s detoxification and repair our bodies naturally while we sleep. 

Most herbs typically used in herbal teas are safe for anyone in the family. (Pregnancy requires special attention). Children can enjoy the benefits and flavors of herbs, too but in lesser quantities. An adult dose is in one 8-ounce cup, then a child’s portion would be 1/8 to 1/2 cup depending on the age and weight of the child. The vast majority of herbs commonly used are naturally caffeine-free, so you can feel good about taking your “herbal medicine” as tea without the potentially unwanted effects of caffeine.

Let’s talk about preparing herbal tea, shall we?

Many different parts of plants are used in tea making. Bark, roots, flowers, berries, and leaves are all used in herbal teas. There are various ways of preparing your tea depending on the aforementioned parts of the plant present in your blend. 

*Making an herbal tea INFUSION*

We call it an infusion when we steep herbs in nearly boiling water to produce tea. I recommended an infusion when most of your tea blend comprises leaves or flowering parts of the herb (like chamomile, elderflower, and peppermint). Leaves and flowers give up their medicinal properties more easily than the tenacious parts of the plant, like roots and bark… but we will talk about preparing those later!

To make an infusion, bring 1 cup of water to boil or near-boiling, and add about 2 teaspoons of herbs. I prefer 3 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon) because I like a nice, robust flavor. You may adjust this according to your own taste. 

After adding your herbs to the hot water, cover your infusion; this prevents the essential oils in the herbs from escaping into the air via steam and keeps the temperature warm too. You may steep your herbs for as little as 10 minutes, but at least 20 minutes is recommended in herbalism to ensure maximum benefits. Those flowers and leaves need a little patience on your part if you want a potent brew. Some herbs, like nettle or alfalfa, can be steeped for hours or overnight, especially if you are trying to draw out minerals and vitamins! Unlike green tea or black tea (Camellia Sinensis), herbal teas will not become bitter with a longer steeping time.

You may add your herbs directly to the boiled water and strain later or simply use a tea infuser ball or paper tea filter. Either way, be sure to press all the water out of your herbs when straining. Adding some honey to your herbal tea is a wonderful idea to sweeten up your beverage. Local honey has spectacular benefits to offer your body, mind, and soul!

*Making an herbal tea DECOCTION*

A decoction is made by simmering your herbs in water (rather than a mere steeping), and this is how we prepare teas comprised of roots, barks, and berries (like turmeric, ginger, and peppercorns). We begin by adding 1-3 teaspoons of herbs to 1 cup of water in a small or medium saucepan. Instructions: Bring to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer your herbs on low for at least 15 minutes. Again, decoctions are made by *simmering* rather than *steeping* because those tenacious roots and barks require more heat to release their medicinal value and flavor!

Once you have simmered your herbs, covered, for 15-20 minutes, you may remove them from heat and strain. For making herbal decoctions, I prefer to simmer my herbs directly in the water and then strain with a handled tea strainer placed over your cup. Simply pour the liquid over the strainer into your mug and press down to completely strain. You may then add your honey or preferred sweetener and enjoy your herbal decoction!

If you own a French Press, these are great for straining your decoction! You can make an infusion in a French Press by adding your herbs and water (all-in-one) to your press. Getting comfortable with tea making requires a little practice, so I suggest DIVING RIGHT IN to see how satisfying and easy it can be! 

Making herbal teas, or tisanes, at home is a beautiful way to connect to the plants God gave us for medicine and enjoyment! The joy and benefits you receive from this practice will (hopefully!) keep you coming back for more! Teaching our children these methods can help ensure that this ancient practice continues for generations to come! 

If you are ready to learn more about herbal healthcare, join my community on Facebook! I have over 15 years of holistic health experience and run an online apothecary here at Lost River Naturals.

Thank you for reading!


10 Ways to Improve Lymphatic System Health

10 Ways to Improve Lymphatic System Health

The lymphatic system is the primary component of our immune system. It contains lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that destroy pathogens and remove them from the body. When our lymphatic system is unhealthy, all kinds of health problems can ensue:

  • bloating
  • swelling
  • constipation/digestive issues
  • fatigue
  • increased colds, flu, allergies
  • skin problems
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • cancer
  • depression…

If the lymph glands, the body’s “drainage” system, become congested, the flow of lymph is obstructed and this can cause a domino effect of cascading pathology as mentioned above.

There are many natural and easy ways to keep lymph moving!

1.One of my favorite ways to keep lymph moving is to keep the body moving! One of the best forms of exercise for lymphatic flow is rebounding. Rebounding is simply jumping on a trampoline! We have a mini-trampoline (aka rebounder) as do many home health enthusiasts (and parents of young children)! This is an inexpensive, easy and fun way to keep the lymphatic system in tip top health. Just 15-30 minutes of rebounding a day will do the trick. Small rebounders can be placed inside the home and you can jump, jump, jump your way to health while watching television, listening to music or playing with the kids. Place your rebounder outdoors on nice days and get your jump on while taking in the sights and sounds of nature.

2. Walking. What a simple way to exercise. Simply taking a walk is a good way to raise your heart rate and pump lymphatic fluid to where it can be cleaned in the lymph nodes. Make a commitment to take a brisk 20-minute walk (not a leisurely stroll) every day and not only will your lymphatic health improve, but your overall health and weight will improve as well! Inversion positions such as legs up on the wall (lying with legs elevated), and other inversions use gravity to increase lymphatic flow. Stretching and using these positions increases circulation and breathing in general and, in turn, supports the lymphatic system.

3. Lymph fluid is mostly water, as is the human body. Dehydration only stresses the lymphatic system more and makes it less efficient. Drinking your full fluid intake as clean, clear water will help your lymphatic system flow well. Flush your system with up to a gallon of water per day. Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol. This further dehydrates the body and is, or course, detrimental to overall health and lymphatic flow.

4. Diet. Diet is of utmost importance in any situation. Eating a diet of wholesome foods free of artificial ingredients like colors, flavors, sweeteners, additives and preservatives will help your lymph system run more efficiently. Remove things from the diet that do not belong there! That is simple. Focus on leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage, berries, nuts, seeds, and wild caught fish (or supplement with Omega 3s). Unrefined oils like coconut oil for cooking and olive oil for cold preparations are encouraged. Red foods in particular (beets, pomegranate, turmeric, apples, cherries) are great for the lymphatic system!

5. Deep breathing exercises are beneficial to the body in many ways. Practicing deep breathing strengthens the diaphragm which promotes lymphatic system health. Breathing. We do it every day, while we sleep, each and every moment, but we don’t always focus on our breath which can be a mistake. There are no fancy steps that you need to take to practice deep breathing. Simply breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Draw in the air and feel it fill your lungs. Now exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat several times daily. You can feel the oxygen saturating your body… who couldn’t use some deep, calming, cleansing breaths daily!? Deep breathing exercising helps with mental clarity, pain relief and relaxation as well as detoxification.

6. Massage – Lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle, specialized form of massage that focuses on lymph. Find a licensed massage therapist in your area that offers lymphatic drainage massage or you can perform it on yourself at home quite easily. YouTube has some wonderful videos to show you just how to do this yourself. It is the most gentle, lightest form of massage and can be done safely and easily in the privacy of your own home.

7. Saunas and detox baths—Sweating It Out in sauna therapy is another way to increase circulation, sweat out harder to remove toxins (like metals) and improve lymphatic flow for cleansing. Many gyms and health clubs now offer infrared sauna therapy which is one of best ways to detoxify the body! An infrared sauna session raises the body’s core temperature, activates circulation and excretes toxins from the lymph and blood through the skin. If you can’t get to an infrared sauna, you may opt for a detox bath at home. There are many different detox bath recipes to be found online, but all you really need to do this at home is a bag of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) and good old-fashioned baking soda. Use 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt and ½- 1 cup baking soda, mix well and soak in a hot bath for at least 30 minutes. Most people own essential oils, and why not blend some bath safe oils into your soak to increase the effectiveness? Some of my favorites in the bath are lavender, rose, frankincense, lemon and tea tree. Stir in no more than 10 drops in total of essential oil for an adult detox bath. Avoid mints, clove and lemongrass (among others) in the bath because they can be skin irritants, especially in the bath. If you are going to use bath safe essential oils in the bath, stir in 1 Tbsp of coconut or olive oil into your detox bath recipe before adding to the water.

8. Not smoking, reducing stress & inflammation and getting enough sleep are paramount for lymphatic health. Go to bed before 10pm and rise with the sun if possible. Lack of sleep is one of the worst things for your body! Take magnesium glycinate before bed and take a cup of relaxing herbal tea such as chamomile or lemon balm. Poor quality sleep can cause a host of issues from depression to chronic illness. Getting adequate rest, deep sleep, can boost your mood, lower stress levels during the day, aid in weight loss and increase lymphatic system health.

9. Laughter! Certainly the easiest and most joyful way to improve lymphatic flow. Laughter is GREAT medicine!! Laughing boosts your immune system, reduces depression, protects the heart, stops fear, relaxes and comforts us and those around us! Injecting laughter into your life can also ease pain and boost recovery time from surgery or chronic illness. Laughter brings people together because laughter is contagious! How many times have you and your best friend or sibling NOT been able to STOP laughing once one of you starts giggling? Laugh and the world laughs with you! Laughter is just as effective as deep breathing which we already know boosts lymphatic health.

10. Employ herbs. Lastly but certainly not to be overlooked is herbal supplementation in the form of teas, tinctures, or capsules! Ayurvedic herbs like red root (aka Manjistha), astragalus root and ginger are superb “lymph scrubbers!” Other more commonly known herbs such as calendula (a member of the marigold family), mullein, turmeric and cleavers are wonderful allies for lymphatic system health! These can be found in capsule form, tincture form or can be combined in different variation as an herbal tea.

One of my favorite teas for lymph congestion is:

2 parts calendula flowers,

1/2 part ginger,  

1 part cleavers,

 1 part lemon balm

Use 1 Tbsp of dried herbs in total for each cup of tea. Bring water to boil, steep herbs 20 minutes. Enjoy with honey. Serve warm for best results.

Unlike the heart, the lymphatic system does not have its own built-in pump. In order to keep the toxins moving, it relies on breathing and bodily movement to function properly. Follow some of these steps above to improve lymphatic system, and OVERALL health of the body!

How to prevent and treat ear infections, naturally!

How to prevent and treat ear infections, naturally!

In this article, we will discuss simple ways to prevent common ear infections in children and how to treat them successfully if they do occur. If you are a parent, you have likely been to the doctor on more than one occasion because your child has come down with a painful ear infection. Antibiotics are overused, over-prescribed (dare I say abused!) and often, unnecessary.

Let me start by saying that even the CDC states that a “watch and wait” approach to treating ear infections is recommended. According to the CDC, middle ear infections, “may not need antibiotics in many cases because the body’s immune system can fight off the infection without help from antibiotics” and a mild case “will often get better on its own without antibiotic treatment, so your health care professional may recommend watchful waiting before prescribing antibiotics to you or your loved one.”

That’s pretty encouraging, right?

Another form of watchful waiting is delayed prescribing. This means that your pediatrician may give you an antibiotic prescription, but he or she may
ask you to wait 2–3 days to see if your child is still sick with fever, ear pain, or other symptoms before filling the prescription. Having a prescription handy may give some parents peace of mind if things do take a turn for the worse or fail to improve. I have left the doc with a filled prescription on a few occasions and have never cracked the bottle open. Our bodies know what to do to correct these problems and our immune systems often do without interference!

What is an ear infection?

Middle ear infections are called Otitis Media, and they can be caused by viruses or bacteria.

The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum, which is connected to the back of the throat by a passageway called the Eustachian tube. Middle ear infections can occur when congestion from allergies or colds block the Eustachian tube. Fluid and pressure builds up, so bacteria and/or viruses that have traveled up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear can multiply and cause an ear infection. Middle ear infections are the most common type of ear infection in children and adults. Symptoms of an earache can include pain (earache), temporary decrease in hearing and fever.

Now let’s jump on my list of ways to prevent ear infections from occurring in the first place!

Prevention is key! This list will be much longer than my remedy list 😊 :

Kids are picky, I get it, mine are too, but restricting certain foods and beverages, especially when your child is ill with a cold or the flu is paramount. There are many supplements to consider as well as other factors that can prevent the dreaded ear infection.

  • Kids who drink juice and dairy products get more ear infections, that’s a fact. These beverages encourage the production of mucus in the upper respiratory system, while the sugars in milk and juice depress immune function. This can lead to congestion in the chest, sinuses and ears, which is the perfect situation for an ear infection (and a decreased ability to fight it off!)  Kids should not drink juice daily especially when ill. Sugar and refined, processed foods should also be avoided in general and especially during an illness. (even natural, organic sweets!)

Offer fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and other whole, nutrient dense foods to older children and BREASTFEED babies at least to age 1!

  • Breastfeeding has been proven to decrease ear infections (and other illnesses) in children. Breastfed babies have been shown to get at least HALF the amount of ear infections as formula fed babies. Formula feeding can increase ear infection risk, especially if baby is bottle fed lying down. If you have to use formula, be sure baby is at a 45 degree, upright angle when feeding. This prevents milk from getting from the back of the throat up into the immature eustachian tubes where it can be a site for infection. This is more of a risk with cow’s milk and formula feeding.

Pacifier use increases ear infection risk – for this and other reasons, avoiding pacifier use is recommended.

  • Water is always the preferred choice of beverage for kids! Herbal teas can also be given slightly warm or chilled, lightly sweetened with a touch of local honey, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses or left unsweetened.
chamomile tea

Some of my favorite herbal teas for kids include chamomile, lemon balm, fennel seed, ginger and lavender either alone or in combination. Lavender tea alone is quite strong-tasting, so if you have dried lavender buds at home, add a pinch to ½ cup lemon balm and ½ cup dried chamomile flowers for a safe, stress busting tea that will also encourage deeper sleep at naptime and bedtimes. Use 2 tsp. of herbal mixture per cup of water that has reached boiling. Steep 10 minutes, enjoy when cooled sufficiently or store in the fridge and give by the spoonful as needed to babies. (Adding fennel seed and ginger to your herbal tea blend will help with colic and other digestive problems—tip: fresh ginger is not as spicy as dried!) These herbs soothe the body and mind which leads to my next point, addressing STRESS.

  • Stress in kids suppresses the immune system (adults too for that matter!) If *you* are stressed, your child can pick up on that and he or she can become stressed. The herbs I mentioned above are super safe for babies and excellent soothers! I make and use a lovely chamomile tincture that is excellent to have on hand for stress, teething, sleep and colic! Chamomile works wonders in kids and adults! You can grab a bottle right here (link to my chamomile tincture)
  • Supplement with the appropriate amounts of Vitamin D3, Zinc, Vitamin C and probiotics daily and especially when a cold takes hold. Be sure your child is getting adequate amounts of sleep. I always enjoyed bathing my kids with lavender when they were younger. Do not underestimate the calming power of an herbal bath! Every home needs a bottle of lavender essential oil! Try blending 1-3 drops of pure, lavender essential oil with ½ to 1 cup Epsom salts. Stir in 1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil, blend well and add this mixture to a warm, not hot, bath for a soothing, relaxing bedtime soak for kids of all ages! Soothing bedtime rituals are a great way for babies and kids to relax and sleep soundly, and, heck, mom will also inhale that lovely lavender aroma and smile as well!
  • Children exposed to second hand smoke are at greater risk for ear infections. Exposure to tobacco smoke, and even the residue of smoke on a caregiver’s clothes, dramatically increases the risk of your child getting ear infections and upper respiratory infections. Plug ins, scented fabric softeners, detergents, perfumes and candles can also contribute to respiratory problems & allergies which can, in turn, lead to ear infections. Free your home of these toxic artificial scents and watch everyone’s health in the home improve!

Address known allergies immediately and try your best to get to root of other allergic reactions. This can be a daunting experience, but quite necessary to see improvements in health. 

  • Chiropractic care! This could very well be one of the most important things we can do for optimal health for our children (and ourselves). The spine can (and does!) misalign in the upper neck and that will affect the way the body heals. When an ear infection is present, fluid is getting trapped in the middle ear cavity, which then creates an environment for viruses and bacteria to flourish. The idea behind chiropractic care for ear infections is that spinal manipulation, especially of the cervical vertebrae (neck) can help relax the muscles surrounding the Eustachian Tubes allowing for proper drainage. Chiropractic care also aims to restore the natural function of the nervous system, which can benefit the health of the entire body. My 3 kids have been seen by our chiropractor since they were babies and they are vibrantly healthy children with very few illnesses and NONE has ever been on antibiotics for an ear infection, or any other reason for that matter. (one exception being my daughter when she was 4 as an experimental treatment for severe skin problems. I will blog about this separately because not only did the antibiotics not work for this, we learned the hard way how to heal severe eczema!)

Ask your friends and family for a great chiropractor recommendation in your area and you will see what a huge difference it can make in the health and happiness of your family!

Natural Treatment Options–What’s a mom to do?

So, your child starts pulling on her ear or tells you “Mommy, my ear hurts.” First of all, take a deep breath and say to yourself ‘MOST ear infections go away all on their own with 2-3 days.’ Repeat as needed!

Let’s talk about things you can do immediately to help the pain and inflammation decrease and clear the infection.

Always keep raw honey handy for herbal syrup making!
  • At the first sign or symptom of a cold or the flu, please start Elderberry and Echinacea right away. This trusted, proven remedy can nip an illness in the bud before it becomes a full-blown virus and it certainly cuts down on sick days and secondary infections like sinus and ear infections. I recommend DIY Elderberry Syrup, available right here. Making this excellent remedy is easy and it lets you control the amount and type of sweetener you choose. Much more information and instructions are found in the link provided above and you can purchase it today so you will always have it handy! This treatment is full of Vitamin C, antiviral and antibacterial compounds and anti-inflammatory relief.
  • Remember that all-important bottle of lavender essential oil we talked about above? … well, this is a great, soothing, anti-inflammatory remedy for outer ear massage. Simply make a massage oil by adding 5 drops of pure, lavender essential oil to 2 Tbsp of coconut OR olive oil. Store in a jar with lid. Very gently massage the outer jaw of affected ear, including all the way behind and around the painful ear. Repeat 2-3 times daily.

Alternately, you can apply 1-2 drops of lavender oil to a warm, not hot, wash cloth and apply over the affected ear for 15 minutes at a time as needed to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Garlic ear oil!  If there is one thing I recommend (and use) most often for ear pain, it is garlic ear oil. This classic herbal remedy works so quickly that 1-2 uses is, oftentimes, all you’ll need! Garlic is a natural antimicrobial, addressing infections of both a bacterial and viral nature. Garlic ear oil is readily available in nearly every health food store or online or you can make it at home. You will often see garlic combined with other herbs such as mullein which is a lovely analgesic herb.

I like this one and always keep it on hand.  (Willow and Garlic Ear Oil Drops by Herbs for Kids) This remedy combines garlic with other wonderful herbs for pain/inflammation and infection. The directions are simple and it’s always wise to treat both ears because the infection can travel. Shake well. To warm, place entire bottle in warm water. Test on inner wrist before using to assure safe temperature. Always use warm. Apply 3-5 drops in both ears as needed, up to 5 times a day. Cover with clean dry cotton. Do not use if eardrum is perforated.  Ingredients:Extra Virgin Olive oil, Fresh Garlic cloves, Calendula flower, Willow bark, Usnea lichen and Vitamin E oil.

This treatment hasn’t failed me yet and I think you’ll love it too!

Colloidal silver is a suspension of minute silver particles in water. A known antibiotic, colloidal silver has been used by various cultures as a topical and internal medication for hundreds of years. However, following the discovery of penicillin and subsequent increase in commercially prepared antibiotics, the medicinal value of colloidal silver was discounted. BUT, this does not lessen the value and effectiveness of silver for bacterial infections. I use and recommend this one (link to my colloidal silver). Our family has used it countless times for ear infections and other common ailments (like pink eye) at home– very successfully I might add! I recommend silver to moms all the time and they are always pleased with the results.

If you want to get geeky on how colloidal silver actually works in the body, here you go:

According to a report written by Richard Davies and Samuel Etris of The Silver Institute in a 1996, there are three primary ways that colloidal silver can help heal the body.

  • Catalytic Oxidation: Silver naturally holds onto oxygen molecules, which readily react with the sulfhydral (H) groups that surround bacterial and viruses. In turn, this helps block the life-preserving cellular process known as cellular respiration, which is defined as “the set of metabolic reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and then release waste products.” 
  • Reaction with Bacterial Cell Membranes: Silver particles can attach to bacteria cell membranes directly and produce the same respiration-blocking effect.
  • Binding with DNA: Shown to literally enter bacteria DNA, up to 12% of silver has been detected in Pseudomonas aeruginosa (the most common type of bacteria affecting humans). According to one source, “While it remains unclear exactly how the silver binds to the DNA without destroying the hydrogen bonds holding the lattice together, it nevertheless prevents the DNA from unwinding, an essential step for cellular replication to occur.” 

We use colloidal silver both internally and externally as needed without the worry of unwanted side effects.  AND, silver DOES NOT create bacterial resistance like many prescribed antibiotics! Silver will not create bacterial mutations, in fact, colloidal silver is effective in eliminating some resistant strains of bacteria. Overuse and abuse of prescribed antibiotics is what is creating antibiotic resistant “super-bugs!”  Silver does not do that. You may come across warnings about colloidal silver causing a condition called argyria (when people turn blue). However, this is caused by misuse of cheaper products marketed as colloidal silver, such as ionic silver or silver protein. True colloidal silver isn’t capable of doing this!

When an ear infection is suspected, you can take a dropperful of colloidal silver by mouth several times daily, and place a 1-2 drops into the ears as well.

  • Breastmilk and REST

I have heard stories from dozens of moms who have used their own breastmilk in their kid’s ears to successfully treat ear infections. (pink eye, too!) It is safe, natural, made BY you FOR your baby, so why not give it a shot if you are a breastfeeding mother!? Just apply several drops of your mama milk into each ear as needed (plus it’s already body temperature, how soothing!)

Don’t underestimate the power of rest during or following an ear infection. The body is working hard to create balance and rid the body of pathogens, so rest and hydration are always recommended during and after an ear infection episode. I settle my kids in their bed or on the couch with their favorite movie or books, a soft blanket and a cool drink of water or herbal tea and allow them to just be still for at least a day after the pain has gone.

Now if you have the Garlic Ear Oil/Colloidal Silver combo, Elderberry & Echinacea formula, and follow some of these recommendations for prevention and treatment, you will be sitting pretty in the ear infection department and you will no longer fear the dreaded whine…

“Mommy my ear hurts.” again!

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you when a trip to the pediatrician IS necessary.

When to see the doc:

  • If your child seems very sick with a fever over 102 and has other symptoms such as stiff neck, a trip to the doctor is warranted.  
  • Doctors and experts usually recommended that babies under 6 months old always be seen by a medical professional if an ear infection is suspected.
  • If your child experiences sudden hearing loss, dizziness or severe pain, go see the doc.
  • If you notice, redness, swelling or pain behind or around your child’s ear, it’s time to see the doc, especially if your child does not move the muscles on that side of his or her face.
  • If the pain has not subsided after 3 days or if the pain is worse in day 2 or 3, see the doctor.
Tinctures, what are they anyway? And Can I give them to my children?

Tinctures, what are they anyway? And Can I give them to my children?

One question I get quite often is this “Is it ok to give my child a tincture?” The short answer is yes, but let’s explore this, shall we!? Take a look, then you decide!

First, let’s talk about why tinctures are so wonderful and learn a bit more about what they are!

What is it?

Tincture definition: A concentrated herbal extract made by soaking (macerating) herbs in solvents like alcohol and water and then pressing the liquid out for medicinal use.

Herbalists commonly use alcohol as medicine making medium because it is so effective at extracting herbal constituents. We also use water (when making herbal teas) and vinegar sometimes to extract certain herbal compounds, as well as honey and vegetable glycerin. A tincture made with vegetable glycerin as the menstruum is known as a glycerite. Glycerites are popular for children and pets because they are mild and sweet, and there is no alcohol involved. Glycerites are nice and useful, but they are not as potent as a tincture made with alcohol.

Why use it?

These other mediums are acceptable and useful in certain situations, but nothing beats alcohol as a menstruum (the solvents or solvent used to make a liquid extract, usually a blend of alcohol and water).

Using alcohol as the menstruum extracts fat soluble and water soluble herbal constituents, including resins, minerals, and vitamins. No wonder alcohol is the preferred method in tincture making!

Another benefit of using alcohol in tinctures is this – alcohol is a fast delivery system! Not only is an alcohol-based extract (aka tincture) a convenient, shelf-stable medicine, our bodies absorb a tincture very quickly and effectively. Tinctures can be taken under the tongue, but as a rule, most experienced herbalists recommend taking a tincture dose in a shot of warm or room temperate water (or in juice – in the case of giving to young children). Taking supplements sublingually can be done, but when using an alcohol-based tincture, this may not be a good idea because it can burn the delicate tissue under the tongue, no matter your age! In a pinch, take on the tongue, not under it if this concerns you.

What’s the shelf life?

Tinctures have a very long shelf life, usually 5 years or more if it’s made properly, so you can keep a tincture in your cupboard for years and years, and when you’re ready to use it again, it will still be potent and fresh, thanks to the alcohol.

Tinctures travel well. Since they need no refrigeration, you can simply toss a bottle in your bag whether making a trip across town or across the country. Tinctures aren’t “fussy” so take them with you wherever you go if needed. One other thing I find lovely about tinctures is you can leave your favorite ones on your bedside table without the worry of refrigeration. This comes in really handy if you are sick and cannot easily get out of bed to go after your herbal medicines. They do just fine on the nightstand, and I always leave a bottle of my Dream Faerie Tincture right there because I take it every night before bed and once again if I wake up in the middle of the night.

Now that you understand what a tincture is let’s move on to the question of alcohol being given to children.

Foods containing ethanol (alcohol):

Are you aware that many foods that kids eat regularly have measurable amounts of alcohol?

Bread and other baked goods, ripe bananas and fruit juices in particular. Some foods, per serving, contain more ethanol (alcohol) than a child’s dose of herbal tincture. Reference:

Alcohol is a naturally occurring constituent of fermented foods such as bread, yogurt, kefir, vinegar and kombucha and non-fermented foods as well such as fruit juices.

Orange, apple, and grape juices had the highest amount of ethanol. Some of these foods tested contained 2-4 times more ethanol than exposure to herbal medicines.

We don’t worry about these low levels of alcohol in popular children’s foods, (you probably didn’t even know it existed!) so there is no need to worry about it when using an herbal tincture on occasion. We can provide this information to you, but ultimately, you decide what is right for you and your family.

Ethanol is even present (in low concentrations) as an endogenous substance in the blood of humans, probably produced in the intestinal tract!

Now let’s discuss dosage and hear from some experts!

Tincture Dosage for Children and Adults: Tincture dosage can vary widely from person to person, but the general rule (as stated by acclaimed herbalists and natural health professionals) for children is this:

  • Age 9 months to 3 years: 2-5 drops per dose
  • Age 4 to age 10: 5-15 drops per dose
  • Older children and teens can usually take an adult dose.

*An adult dose varies but 30-60 drops is a typical adult dose, titrating up or down as needed. Experimentation is often called for when using plants as medicine.

There is no hard and fast dosage for everyone!

We always take into account the age, weight, and overall health of the individual when giving herbal tinctures and other medicines. But using this guideline, you can feel comfortable using herbal tinctures at home.
Many herbalists and others familiar with these types of medicines, use tinctures with children without hesitation.

But if you are new to this idea and are unsure, let’s hear what Dr. Aviva Romm has to say on the subject. Dr. Aviva Romm is not only an experienced herbalist of many decades, but she is a medical doctor (Yale-trained), midwife, and educator!

Dr. Romm states,Used appropriately, liquid herbal extracts—tinctures—are among the most valuable and effective botanical tools for treating children’s health concerns. They are very concentrated, so only small doses are required. Tinctures can be hidden in water or juice with practically no detection for most herbs that you’d use with kids.

Dr. Romm is my go-to expert when I need correct advice on herbal medicine, particularly for women and children… she has it all!

In conclusion: Alcohol-based herbal tinctures are an effective, time-tested method of delivering remedies to children of all ages. (Adults in the AA program and other sober individuals may also enjoy these plant medicines without the worry of compromising their health or sobriety!)

The dosage of a tincture is equal to or much less than the alcohol found in commons baked goods, some fruits, fruit juices, and fermented foods.

Many well-known, revered herbalists and health care professionals recommend alcohol-based herbal tinctures to kids of all ages.

If you still aren’t comfortable using herbal tinctures with your kids, there are other preparations to consider…herbal teas being the most common and easily accessed. (but that is a whole other blog post!)