Making Mouthwash

March 6th, 2012 by

     Once a year my family visits the dentist for a checkup and a cleaning.  We always pray that the visit does not include any fillings!  However, my husband has had his fair share of fillings and they are expensive!!  We’ve drastically reduced our dental bills, however, by reducing the amount of processed foods we consume, including pop, candy, sugar, and white flour, eating more vegetables, and switching to xylitol gum.  A few years ago, when I was on a “Master Cleanse” kick, I found a book that contained a recipe for a “tooth cleanse”.  We tried it, and found that when we used the product before bed time our teeth had less plaque in the morning, our breath was fresher, and our gums looked healthier.  I “tweaked” the recipe slightly to accommodate our taste preference and to reduce the alcohol content of the recipe.  

      Instead of just posting about how to make this mouthwash recipe, I decided to tackle my fear of technology and make a YouTube video.  It will walk you through all the steps of making mouthwash.

     For this recipe you will need:

                      1 quart Mason (canning) jar with a lid

                      3 Tbsp. spearmint leaves (dried, cut, and sifted)

                      1 rounded Tbsp. blood root (Sanguinaria) pieces, dried

                      1 tsp. Myhrr pieces

                      1 cup 100 proof (80 proof is also acceptable) high quality vodka

                      1/2 cup aloe juice

                      1/2 cup witch hazel

                      2 1/4 cup filtered water

                      flour sack dish towel

                      glass bottle with a tight fitting lid/cork

     Combine the dried spearmint, blood root, and myrrh in your Mason jar.  Add the vodka.  Mix thoroughly.  Label and set aside for 2 weeks mixing once or twice daily.  Strain liquid through dish towel.  Add aloe, witch hazel, and water.  Store in glass bottle.

     The “key” to this recipe is the blood root.  Blood root (technically Sanguinaria) is an extreme immune stimulating herb.  It is also one of the “secret” ingredients in many cancer formulas including the notorious “Black Salve”.  It has been used for centuries in North America by indigenous peoples because of its anti-infective properties.  Theoretically, this herb helps reduce bacteria in the mouth that can lead to plaque, which causes gingivitis, tooth decay, bad breath, etc.

     Myrrh originates in the Middle East.  Myrrh is also a valued item for its healing properties.  It was once of the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus.

     Spearmint is a “cooling” herb.  It reduces inflammation, promotes proper digestion, and freshens breath.  I add spearmint essential oil (3-5 drops) to this recipe as well, because my husband likes the spearmint taste, and it takes quite a lot to cover up the bitter taste of the blood root.

     There is always controversy around the use of alcohol in mouthwash preparations, because alcohol actually dries out the mouth, which can increase the occurrence of bad breath.  However, water will not absorb the nutrition from the herbs, and especially if you use a “community” bottle, it will not prevent the product from spoiling.  You will need to use either alcohol or vegetable glycerin to extract the herbal properties.  I chose not to use vegetable glycerin because it also adds sugar, which we are trying to avoid putting in our mouth before bed!  Instead, I use only enough alcohol to extract the herbal properties, and add witch hazel, an astringent and preservative made from the bark of a tree, and aloe juice as an anti-inflammatory.

     The taste of this mouthwash is actually quite cooling and pleasant.  It is also quite inexpensive to make, and has saved us hundreds of dollars (in my best estimate) of expensive dentist bills! 

     For Health,

     Summer Joy

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Diapering Dilema

January 7th, 2012 by

    Happy New Year!  I brought in 2012 by washing diapers.  Yep, that’s right; I am a momma that currently uses cloth diapers.  I haven’t always used them, and I might not use them again in the future, but right now I wash diapers.  While I was waiting for the second rinse cycle to finish, I thought it might be nice to blog on the subject for those of you who are wondering about the health benefits of using cloth.

     My first experience with cloth diapers was when my youngest sister was a baby.  We would fold these “see-through” squares of flannel into a diaper, use pins, rubber pants, a stinky diaper pail, and rinse soiled diapers in the toilet.  Gross!  I vowed that I would never use cloth.  THEN, I had babies…with sensitive skin.  I started with unscented disposables.  I bought them by the truck-load at a membership club.  They worked great…for my first two kids.  Now, even though I am into most things natural, all things healthy, and want to preserve the earth for future generations, I can’t say that I am an “uber-green” momma.  I value my convenience, time, and sanity more than my carbon footprint.  (Sorry to burst your bubble.)  So, I enjoyed buying cheap, disposable diapers that worked for my babies. 

     THEN, I had a baby with SUPER-sensitive skin.  The chlorine in the brand name unscented disposables gave her a horrible rash.  I tried everything, and finally gave up and switched to Seventh Generation diapers.  No chlorine, no rash.  BUT, also no super-savings at a membership club.  Yep, I am a fan of Seventh Generation disposable diapers.  I am not a fan, however, of the price I have to pay for them.  My need to save some money sent me on the hunt towards “alternative” methods of baby waste management. 

     My first project was on EC (Elimination Communication).  This method stresses the importance of parents noticing their child’s habits and signals so that they can take their infant to the toilet before the baby feels the need to use a diaper.  It seems very effective and definitely would save money on diapers.  Problem???  I value my time and sanity too much (see above paragraph) to pay that much attention to my child.  (Well, now you know I’m not Super Woman!)

     So, I begrudgingly began to research cloth diapers.  I found that cloth diapering has evolved quite nicely in the last 20 years!  No more thin flannel squares and squeaky plastic pants–woohoo!!  Now, you can choose between cotton, sherpa, flannel, wool, fitted, all-in-ones, inserts, diaper service, etc.  In fact, there were so many choices that I was overwhelmed!  Fortunately for me, I found a WAHM (Work at Home Mom) that specializes in making cloth diapers.  Her name is Amanda, and she owns a business called Baby Go Green.  She helped me make a decision on cloth diapers after visiting with me about my needs and my lifestyle.  I use organic, cotton, sherpa, one-size fitted diapers and wool diaper covers.  I don’t rinse diapers in the toilet, and I don’t use a nasty, stinky diaper pail.  I still use Seventh Generation disposables for night, traveling, and when Daddy babysits (he’s not as excited about cloth diapers as I am…he,he), but I have a baby with a happy bottom and I still have coins in my piggy bank!

     So, if you are interested in the option of diapering with cloth, whether for saving money, saving skin, or saving the environment, check out Baby Go Green on Facebook!  Also, I found a really great formula for diaper rash that is safe for cloth diapering.  It’s called SC Cleanser from Systemic Formulas. 

     So, here’s to a New Year!  A year of healthy babies and healthy families!!

     Summer Joy

     P.S.  Both SC Cleanser and Seventh Generation disposables are available through Natural Alternatives.

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Soap Review and Gift Idea

December 5th, 2011 by

     These days I am bombarded with sale flyers full of  items to give as Christmas gifts.  Each circular is chock full of toys, clothes, food, and body products.  Scented body products seems to be a favorite item to give to people, especially women, and especially as hostess gifts.  However, most of these items contain chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and petroleum based toxins.  These chemicals cause skin irritation, liver toxicity, and are even linked to cancer!

     Therefore, I have searched high and low for body products that are safe for me and my family to use.  In my search I found a local soap artisan that I want to highlight in this blog.  I get lots of  samples of products to use and I have to say that I am very picky about the products that I endorse!  So, the following is a review of the available soaps at Prairie Soap House.  These products would be a wonderful alternative to the chemical-laden items that are usually given as gifts!

     In the past, I have NOT been a fan of bar soap.  I’ve tried making my own soap (a HUGE pain) and found that it is definitely an art that I don’t have the time to perfect!  Usually bar soap is messy, germy, inconvenient, and dries out my skin.  But the bar soap from Prairie Soap House is different!  I tried the “Mechanic’s Grease Cutter” soap (before I knew it was designed for mechanics) as a shaving bar.  This soap exfoliated beautifully, didn’t leave a residue on me or in the tub, and left my legs so soft I didn’t even need to moisturize!  I also tried the baby soap.  My youngest child (10 months) has SUPER sensitive skin.  In fact, for a while I didn’t use any soap on her–even the organic soap I normally recommend!  So, I was hesitant to use the baby soap from Prairie Soap House.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  No rash…in fact, it actually cleared up the rash she had at the time!  Both of these soaps had good lather, rinsed clean, and left behind plenty of moisturization.  Also, I store the soap in plastic bags, and it doesn’t get soft and mushy like some bar soaps.  Plus, it lasts a long time!  Another thing that I really like is that Prairie Soap House discloses their soap making process and all the ingredients in each soap.  Almost all of the ingredients are organic or natural.  This is definitely one company that I can give a “thumbs up” to!!

     For Health,

     Summer Joy

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When Alternative Methods Fail

November 23rd, 2011 by

It’s Thanksgiving.  I LOVE Thanksgiving!  (Little known fact about me–I like Thanksgiving best of all the holidays, because it’s the least commercialized.)  I like the idea of giving thanks to God for providing for us.  In fact, I think that we would all be a lot happier if we focused on the blessings in our lives instead of dwelling on the bad things we encounter.  One of the things I have been especially thankful for is natural healing methods. 

That being said, this year Thanksgiving is tough for me.  I really don’t feel thankful for my blessings.  I don’t feel like “feasting” on turkey and all the trimmings.  I don’t feel like visiting and playing games with my family.  I feel like sleeping through the whole thing!  Why?  Well, the last few months have been very difficult for me.  I feel as though natural healing methods have failed me.  One of my clients died earlier this month.  I’ve lost clients before, and I’m sure I will again, but this one was particularly difficult for me because it was my dear mother-in-law.  She passed away from pancreatic cancer just 5 weeks from diagnosis.

I’ve had many people ask how that is even possible with the work I do?!  In fact, I often thought that by being proactive about healing modalities, my family would escape sickness.  But the reality is that we live in a world where bad things happen…even to good, healthy, proactive people.  My family isn’t immune to viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungal infections, or even cancer.  Alternative healing such as the use of herbs has prevented many trips to the doctor, but it isn’t 100% fail proof.  Just as medical doctors call their office a “practice”, alternative providers call their branch of medicine an “art”.  God didn’t create all people exactly the same, and a standardized system of treatment doesn’t work for all people.  Well, didn’t I see this coming?!  No, I didn’t.  You see just a few months before Mom got sick, she had the best readings of her life.  She felt great!  Sometimes the computer won’t detect abnormally dividing cells, sometimes cancer moves in that quick, and sometimes…even when we find something on the computer or have a medical diagnosis, we don’t have time to fix it.

So, what’s the point of being proactive?  Should we just “chuck” the whole thing, and let the chips fall where they may?  I don’t believe so.  The Bible says in Romans 12 to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God”.  How can we be of service to God if we don’t care for our bodies?!  Research clearly indicates that people who care for their bodies by eating right, exercising, taking nutritional supplements, sleeping, and enjoying meaningful emotional and spiritual relationships generally live longer and healthier lives than those who don’t.  Notice, research mentions generally not always.  It was interesting though, that the surgeon who met with Mom told her that “she was the healthiest sick person the surgeon had ever seen”!  Mom enjoyed good health most of her life.  My kids enjoyed a grandma who was fun and spunky;  my husband enjoyed a mother who loved him unconditionally;  my father-in-law enjoyed a wife who served him joyfully; and I enjoyed a friend to live an abundant life with me!  Because of the care that Mom had given her body in the years before cancer, she was able to remain relatively pain-free and use her remaining days on earth to minister the Gospel of Christ to all who came to visit her.  Her zeal for Jesus, and her energy for life were evident to the physicians, the neighbors, and her family.  Mom believed in Christ’s sacrifice for her and is now celebrating and worshiping in heaven.  I’ll see her again in heaven some day, but for now, God has called me to continue to share the “art” of alternative medicine with those He places in my path.  I don’t know how long I have to live…no one does.  Ultimately GOD decides when a person’s life begins, and when it ends.

This Thanksgiving season is hard for me because I have to process through emotions of sadness, hurt, and frustration.  I have to grieve for moments that I will never again have with a woman I loved with all my heart.  But I AM thankful…I’m thankful that I had the chance to live life with her…I’m thankful for the wisdom she imparted to me…I’m thankful for the opportunity to care for her…I’m thankful for my family…I’m thankful for health…I’m thankful for LIFE (both here on earth and forever in eternity with Christ)…and yes, I’m even thankful for alternative medicine, because even though it doesn’t always work, it often does, and I’m thankful every time someone e-mails or calls to say how healthy and happy they feel since they’ve been to see me that God chose to call me into this line of work. 

So, my challenge to you today is what has God chosen to call you to that you are willing to thank Him for today?  Happy Thanksgiving!

For Health,

Summer Joy

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Omega 3 Oil and Brain Function

September 7th, 2011 by

     School has begun!  The ringing of bells, the commotion of children, and the sharpening of pencils herald the start of another year of potential brain development all over this country.

     The brain is an amazing organ.  It controls all our movements, our sleeping, eating, body function, memories, and emotions.  It forms synapses, or connections, where learning occurs.  It is at these synapses that the supplementation of Omega 3 Fatty Acids can play a critical part in brain development and restoration.  Omega 3, in the form of DHA and EPA, can actually reverse brain damage.  In light of the beginning of another school sports schedule, I’d like to highlight the role of DHA and EPA as a substantial tool for restoring nervous system function after injury.

     Sports are fun!  They can also be a little dangerous.  Especially at risk for injuries are adolescent children who are still growing.  Their muscles, skeletal system, and nervous system are particularly vulnerable to permanent damage due to repetitive injury.  Traumatic brain injuries that occur in adolescence can lead to increased risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and MS later in life.

     Medical doctors use NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to treat the pain and inflammation associated with injuries.  However, NSAIDS, such as Vioxx, Celebrex, naproxen sodium, and even aspirin, have side effects such as increased risk for ulcers and heart disease.  Dr. Joseph C. Maroon, a neuro-surgeon who worked for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has found that by adding 2-3 grams of EPA/DHA daily, he has been able to cut the use of NSAIDs in his practice due to the anti-inflammatory nature of Omega 3’s! 

     In addition to reducing the lasting effects of trauma, Omega 3’s help increase IQ, reduce symptoms of neurological disease, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, and help individuals with depression.  Natural Alternatives uses quality Omega 3 oils that are free from contaminants including mercury and lead.  Feel free to contact our office for more information on Omega 3’s and have an injury-free school year!

     For Health,

     Summer Joy

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The Great Raw Milk Menace–Pt. 2

August 27th, 2011 by

     Okay, I promised I’d give some more details, so here goes…

     First of all, if you are a man, an infant, or a post-menopausal woman, I don’t recommend consuming very many dairy products.  What?  (GIGANTIC GASP)  The idea that milk contains the vitamin D and calcium most people need in their diets is just, well, wrong.  You get most of your vitamin D from the sun, and most of your calcium from green, leafy vegetables. 

     Now that you are recovering from that shock, let me tell you why I suggest consuming dairy products for children and women of child bearing age.  There is NO easier way to get the necessary protein and fats required for growth and development than from raw, organic dairy products!  Healthy fats and proteins are ESSENTIAL for these groups!

     Dairy products (from cows) are a highly allergic food, so I don’t recommend exposing infants to these until necessary.  Infants should be breastfed if possible for at least the first year of their lives, and I’d go as far as to recommend closer to 2 years.  There are all kinds of resources for moms who are struggling to breastfeed including herbs that stimulate production, milk sharing organizations, and if necessary, goat milk based organic formulas.  Mothers who are expecting or nursing should consume lots of lacto-fermented raw, organic, full-fat dairy, as should children until they reach puberty.

     We happen to milk a few cows.  I realize everyone doesn’t have that resource, so here’s what we do and some suggestions if you can’t do what we do:

     We actually don’t drink that much raw milk.  Oh, we pour it on cereal and maybe have a glass with cookies now and then, but for the most part, we start by skimming the cream off the top to save for other uses like butter, ice cream, and making decadent sauces for potatoes and pasta.    We could just stir the cream in and drink it (It’s delicious, by the way), but then I couldn’t make butter, so…  Anyway, homogenized milk that you buy in the store doesn’t have cream to skim off–it’s mixed in so thoroughly that you (or your body) can’t separate the cream and your cells become “confused”.  Next, I make kefir.  Kefir is one of the oldest methods of lacto-fermenting dairy.  It’s also the easiest.  You just add your kefir grains to your milk and set it on the counter for 12-32 hours until it begins to thicken then refrigerate.  Kefir is like a runny yogurt.  It is teeming with healthy bacteria that help regulate digestion (think Activia TM) and strengthen the immune system.  Kefir also helps fight yeast.  We make delicious kefir smoothies a couple of times per week for quick breakfasts.  We also eat yogurt, cheese, and I cook with dairy products.  Cooking kills most of the beneficial bacteria (and the bad), but cooking with dairy still adds good fat and protein.  There is no way to be 100% sure that your dairy products are free from harmful bacteria, so twice a year I “clean” my kefir grains and yogurt starters by adding them to pasteurized milk.  I then discard the product, and add my starters to my raw, organic dairy again.  I try not to consume pasteurized dairy unless I can’t help it.  Please note that there is no way to be 100% sure that pasteurized dairy from the store is free from harmful bacteria either!  Okay, this sounds easy enough for me, but you are wondering what to do if you don’t have a doe-eyed Jersey out back with a bag full of creamy milk….

     First off, if you can find someone who milks a cow and has extra milk, go visit their farm.  Watch them milk, see what they feed their cow, ask what shots they give their dairy animal, and find out if they consume their own products.  If you are satisfied, find out the raw milk laws in your state.  You can find these by going to http://www.realmilk.com/milk-laws-1.html.  In North Dakota, for example, farmers are allowed to sell raw dairy products as pet food.  Now, if that farmer consumes his “pet food”, that tells me it’s some quality stuff!  Since the FDA is bent on prosecuting these hard working, honest individuals, most farmers will be hesitant to sell you raw dairy, but some may offer to give it to you.  FYI, even if they say they don’t want payment, please “gift” them $5-$6 per gallon (that’s the sale price for organic milk in the store) as they have worked hard to obtain a clean, healthy product.  It is also helpful if you bring containers to take your milk home with you.  You can reuse plastic milk jugs, but it is much easier to keep glass jugs clean.  Most health food store (including our office) can sell you gallon glass jugs for less than $10.  You can also obtain starter cultures for kefir, yogurt, cheese, etc. at health food stores.

     If you can’t obtain raw milk, you can purchase the organic, pasteurized, but NON-homogenized variety at some local grocery stores (Bessie’s Best and Horizon Organics are some good options).  You won’t have the beneficial bacteria in this milk, but you can culture it by making kefir, yogurt, etc.

     What if you can’t purchase organic, non-homogenized milk???  Well, eat plenty of complete proteins like beans, meat, etc., and get your healthy fats from avocados, coconut, fish, etc., and forgo the milk.  Yep, that’s right.  I don’t recommend consuming very many dairy products at all if you can’t get the REAL stuff!  Consuming homogenized non-organic dairy products will destroy your cells, mess up your hormones, and clog your arteries.  If you are interested in preserving your access to raw, organic dairy products you can learn more at http://rawmilk.org/.

     For Health,

     Summer Joy

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The Great Raw Milk Menace–Pt. 1

August 23rd, 2011 by

    Well, I’ve held my tongue during the last few weeks with hopes that I could just let the latest FDA blunder pass.  Unfortunately, my poor husband has had to hear my “soapboxing” an unacceptable amount of times however, and so I am going to blog to you my dear readers and save this darling man anymore “sermons” :)! 

     Apparently, the FDA has decided that people should not consume raw milk products because they believe these products are dangerous for our health.  Therefore, this government department is trying to ferret out those individuals who are “illegally” distributing these items.  A few weeks ago, the FDA raided a PRIVATE buying club, and arrested three individuals with the charge of illegally selling raw milk.  Now, let me explain what a private buying club is.  Say you live in Los Angeles where covenants stipulate that you cannot raise a Jersey cow.  However, you’d like milk from a Jersey cow.  So, you approach a farmer and ask to buy 1/4 of his Jersey cow.  In addition, you will pay this farmer a certain amount to feed, care for, and milk your cow.  In exchange, you will get 1/4 of what your cow produces (milk and cream).  Sounds fair and practical, right?  By raiding this club, the FDA is, in a sense, telling you that you no longer have the right to use YOUR product the way YOU want to.  To be honest, I’m not sure what upsets me more, the fact that raw milk has been given a bad rap, that the scientific data has been skewed to reflect the opinion of the FDA, or the fact that this in encroaching on individual rights.  I mean really…what right does our government have to tell me what I can and can’t eat?!

     Consumption of dairy products in general is a controversial issue even among the “alternative” community.  I know several chiropractors and health care professionals that believe that people shouldn’t consume dairy products at all.  They have valid reasons for this: yes, humans are the only mammals that don’t wean their young, yes, dairy products promote the production of mucus, yes, dairy products can contain harmful bacteria.  On the other hand, I know several prominent health care professionals and midwives who promote the consumption of raw, organic dairy products.  They also have valid reasons for this: dairy products contain beneficial bacteria that can boost the immune system and promote healthy digestion, dairy products are a great source of protein and healthy fats, dairy products contain essential amino acids necessary for the production of cellular ATP (energy).

     Personally, I am a proponent of consuming raw, organic milk products.  I happen to have grown up on a dairy farm.  We milked about 60 cows twice a day and consumed milk from those cows.  We were a grade “A” dairy, meaning the FDA believed our milk was clean enough to drink.  We drank this milk in our house every day (and NEVER got sick from it!).  We had friends who ran a different grade of dairy.  Let’s just say their milk was not as clean as ours.  In fact, one day while helping at their dairy, we got a sense of this “grade” of milk.  One of the automatic milk machine lost suction and fell into a pile of cow dung.  At our dairy, this would be cause for “panic” mode.  Switches would be thrown, pipes disconnected, and sanitation would ensue.  Not so at this dairy.  “Don’t worry about it”, our friend casually said.  “We’re allowed so many somatic cells anyway.”  Gross.  (I never drank milk at their house.)  What this basically means is that the FDA allows a certain number of bacteria in the milk.  (They also allow a certain number of rat hairs in peanut butter, grasshoppers in noodles, etc.)  It’s okay with the FDA, because when milk is bottled, it is pasteurized, which is supposed to kill all the bad bacteria.  Interestingly enough, the milk from our dairy actually had LESS bacteria than the milk that was purchased at the store.  (What can I say, I LOVED doing science projects–thanks Mom and Dad for putting up with disgusting petri dishes full of bacteria around the house for MONTHS!)  Additionally, milk purchased at the store is homogenized (the fat molecules are forced through teeny, tiny little holes so that the fat cannot be separated from the whey–this also means your body cannot separate the fat from the protein!) and synthetic (poisonous) vitamins A and D2 (the type that builds up in your liver) are added. 

     The FDA contends that homogenized, pasturized, vitamin enriched milk is healthy for you because it kills the harmful bacteria.  Pasturization does kills some of the harmful bacteria and almost all of the good bacteria.  However, it is just silly to think that we can erradicate all of our exposure to bacteria.  Yes, common food borne bacteria such as lysteria, campylobactor, etc. are down from 100 years ago.  But antibiotic resistant strains like MRSA are getting to be a real problem.  There will ALWAYS be sickness including bacteria in our world.  That is reality.  Personally, I want to deal with bacteria that herbal remedies and antibiotics can take care of.  That means I’ll continue to consume lacto-fermented raw dairy products that come from a source I trust.

     Bottom line?  The FDA shouldn’t have a say in consumption of raw, organic milk!  The choice should be left to each individual!!

     In my next blog, I’ll tell you what I recommend for consumption of dairy, how we do it in our house, and how to purchase raw, organic dairy for your family. 

     For Health,

     Summer Joy

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The “Value” of Organic Food

August 6th, 2011 by

In my line of work, I often need to discuss changing one’s eating habits.  One of the more common hesitations I hear is that eating organic is too expensive.  However, as a rancher’s wife, I know the value of the work we do, and therefore, I have found this argument to be fairly invalid from my point of view.  Yet, this week I was once again faced with the realization that the general population values the quality of their food quite little.  You see, yesterday I helped my children set up a booth at our local farmers’ market.  It was definitely an eye-opening experience! 

My children have spent a significant amount of time planting,  weeding, watering, and harvesting in the garden with their grandpa.  Not to mention the money they have spent for non-GMO seed, marketing materials, and fuel for the trip to town.  I have taught my children that vegetables help build strong cells and fuel the brain.  Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy sugary treats at our house just like the next family, but we reserve them for “once in a while”.  Instead, I freely allow my children to gorge themselves on snow peas, cucumbers, and carrots straight from this garden.  They feel rewarded for their work.  You can imagine their surprise when people walked by their booth, passing up the chance at organic beets, cucumbers, and lettuce, but stopping to purchase pies and hot dogs.  I am glad that people were supportive of the farmers’ market vendors no matter what they sold, yet I realized that the same people that complain about the high price of organic cucumbers have no problem shelling out high prices for homemade cookie confections.  The kids did well.  They paid for their expenses and had a little left over for some books that they’ve been looking at.  They’re happy.  I’m a realist (or I guess a pessimist today) since I realized that after expenses they made about 10 cents per cucumber. 

It really boils down to what you are willing to invest in.  The reason you can buy produce in the grocery store much cheaper than at a farmers’ market is because large farming operations loose money on their crops.  It’s okay though, because the government steps in to “subsidize” these crops.  The operation is happy, the government is happy, the consumer is happy.  The problem is the small, family farm doesn’t qualify for these subsidies.  Farming is becoming more regulated, larger, and producing less variety and less nutritious food.  Our bodies are breaking down with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancers.  Is the trade-off worth it?  I don’t think so.

I’m going to look at the brighter side.  I feel like my family gets a great deal in our organic food.  My children are fairly healthy and strong.  They have learned how to work hard and as a team.  They feel pride in being able to provide for our family.  We enjoy a family relationship around the supper table with lively conversation.  All in all we are getting a great “value” in our organic food!

I encourage you to invest in eating organic.  Notice how great your body feels when it is not polluted with pesticides and chemicals.  Find a local farmers’ market or better yet, find a small family farm that raises animals and produce with careful attention to healthy practices.  Our new little farmers’ market here in our home town is trying their best and doing a great job to educate the public on locally produced goods.  Now is the time to make the change.  In some countries people have been known to stand in line all day just for a loaf of bread!  Protect the future food supply in our country.  What are you willing to invest in?  Our broken health care system?  The stock market?  Your health?  Your life?  Just a little “food for thought”.

For Health,

Summer Joy

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Essential Oils and BUGS!

June 18th, 2011 by

Father’s Day is tomorrow.  This day is typically filled with all kinds of fun outdoor activities: fishing at the lake, playing tag football, grilling with the family, etc.  Besides fun and food, the other item all these activities have in common is bugs: mosquitoes, ticks, mites, etc.  Yuck!  I really dislike bugs!

A few years ago when our area of the United States finally began experiencing adequate rainfall, the mosquitoes (in particular) became quite bad.  With these stinging pests came the threat of West Nile Virus, a particularly nasty parasite that leads to flu-like symptoms ranging from mild to severe complications on the nervous and cardiovascular systems.  In horses, West Nile is often fatal.  Since we own several valuable geldings, our veterinarian suggested using a chemical insect repellent on our horses.  After reading the warning label on the repellent (which included advise on wearing latex gloves during application, and NOT to be used by women who are pregnant or may become pregnant) we decided that the chemical may be as bad as the disease and began using essential oils to create our own safe insect repellent for our pets.

“Fly Away” all-natural insect repellent works on mosquitos, ticks, flys (of all varieties), and other insects.  It is made with ingredients found in most kitchens and a blend of essential oils including melaleuca oil.  You can learn how to make “Fly Away” at our essential oils class, or it can be purchased from Natural Alternatives. 

Melaleuca (or “tea tree”) oil is harvested from the melaleuca tree in Australia.  This pungent oil is antimicrobial, immune stimulating, and particularly anti-fungal making it a great choice for pest repellents, athlete’s foot, dandruff, and dermatitis, just to name a few.  This oil is one of my “first aid oils” as it also helps in respiratory issues.

“Fly Away” doesn’t have a terribly pleasant smell, so we don’t recommend using it as a personal insect repellent, just for pets.  However, it is safe to use on wood making it an excellent choice for decks, door frames, window wells, and other areas prone to insect-home breech.  Enjoy your Father’s Day….bug free!

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Essential Oils–a Safe Alternative to Scents

May 27th, 2011 by

We were visited by Pepe Le Pewe at our house today.  Unfortunately Mrs. Skunk decided our barn would be a wonderful place to birth her litter of stink bombs.  Our dutiful dog, however, had other plans for Madame Smelly, and his challenge of her agenda triggered a release of “scentsationalism”!  OiY!! 

Anyway, the fragrance that is now wafting over our ranch got me to thinking about the other times I have been “overcome” by my olfactory system.  Most of those times involve chemicals….the cleaning aisle at Walmart, paint fumes at the auto body shop, and who can forget Sister So-n-so’s perfume in church?!  I don’t like any of these smells, but other than a mild headache, I’ll eventually get over them.  Some of my clients, however, aren’t as blessed.  Individuals with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) can literally become bedridden for weeks just by making one trip to their local department store.  Church events become things of the past as one whiff of incense sets off an asthma attack.  Theatres, concerts, and parties cannot be tolerated due to chemical smells in shampoo, deodorant, and cologne residues.

I often wonder, has our incessive need for personal hygiene added to the growing problem of MCS?  Not that I’m advocating the degredation of cleanliness, but it seems to me that fragrance is added to everything from laundry soap to shampoo to garbage can liners!  The majority of these fragrances are petroleum based.  Petroleum is a common sensitivity in many individuals and can cause symptoms such as headaches, nausea, skin rashes, itching, hives, post nasal drip, asthma, and many others.  

So, other than offending those around you with an “all-natural” odor, what can be done to safely deal with fragrances?  Well, I propose first of all that people go with the CLEAN smell!  Instead of using scented fabric softener, how about hanging clothes on the line for that wonderful “sun-dried” smell?  Or, try rinsing out dishes as you use them instead of letting them sit in the sink for days to develop the nasty odor of sour milk!  Practicing pro-active habits could help cut down on the use of unnessecary fragrance.

That being said, it is nice to catch a hint of soft fragrance now and then.  It is especially nice in the form of an essential oil.  Peppermint, for example, makes an excellent breath freshener.  Citrus oils compliment the fresh smell of clean in kitchens and bathrooms.  Soft flower essences gently tickle the air in bedrooms.  Experimenting with essential oil scents that work in your home is not only fun, but can be done without the detrimental side effects of air fresheners! 

Currently I am using Wild Orange in our home.  It sure beats ala Skunk!!

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