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Nature is so wise. Aloe vera juice is said to have these natural benefits:
- Support healthy digestion
- Support a healthy immune system
- Reduce harmful toxins
- Increase absorption of nutrients
- Enhance antioxidant support
- Balance stomach acidity naturally
- Soothe occasional muscle and joint discomfort
If you have seasonal allergies, you know what it’s like to suffer from sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion, and sinus pressure. None of these symptoms are pleasant and interfere with enjoying your day. I am sure everyone has tried every over-the-counter solution to make these seasonal symptoms go away. Did you know there are completely natural solutions that can ease your symptoms too?
You probably associate probiotics with digestion and your gut health, but they also play a role in keeping your immune system well balanced. Keeping the gut healthy, makes the immune system stronger which should not allow so many allergens to affect you each season.
Your allergies are an immune response to an otherwise harmless substance. This substance — whether it’s pollen or dust — comes into contact with cells in the mucus membranes of your nose, mouth, throat, lungs, stomach, and intestines. (another reason to keep the gut healthy with probiotics). This triggers the release of histamine. Histamine is a protein that causes all of the symptoms you associate with allergies, like sneezing and cold-like symptoms that drive us crazy. Antihistamines block histamine activity, stopping the allergic reaction.
Allergy medications you buy at the store work as antihistamines. But there are also certain foods and plant extracts that can have similar effects on histamine production. For example quercetin, bromelain, and vitamin C, can all work as natural antihistamines. Talk to your doctor about these alternatives before using.
Eating local honey (produced near where you live) really works. The bees eat the pollen that’s in your region of the country, then they produce the honey and you consume that, so it’s kind of like a mini allergy shot. This is a remedy we use year around. Honey in general just has so many health benefits, you can use it in place of refined processed sugar any time you can!
Air Purifier with a HEPA Filter
The best way to remove spores and pollen from the air is to use a HEPA filter. I find that using a HEPA filter at night helps me wake up with clear sinuses. But if your home air system can accommodate a HEPA filter for the whole house, 24-hrs a day, this is a great way to get relief.
Saline Nasal Rinse
I have never personally tried this remedy, but have many friends who swear by it! Basically all you’re doing is flushing out your sinuses with a saltwater solution, in a Neti Pot, which can help wash away the things you inhale that irritate your sinuses…you allergens. To mix a solution yourself, combine 1 quart of distilled or boiled (then cooled) water with 2 tsp non-iodized salt (kosher, pickling, canning or sea salt) and 1 tsp baking soda. Pour about 8 oz of the solution into the Neti Pot and tilt your head forward over the sink while you pour the solution in one nostril. The solution and irritants will drain out the other side of the nose into the sink.
Just in time for spring cleaning, the Environmental Working Group updated their healthy cleaning options.
The cleaning products in your home may be harboring hazardous ingredients. Many brands make it difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to learn what ingredients are in them. These products commonly contain chemicals that can cause reproductive problems, exacerbate asthma, burn or irritate your skin and harm the environment. Some have even been linked to cancer.
EWG’s assessment found:
Almost half of the products in this update were rated “poor” on ingredient disclosure.
Only about one in seven products earned a grade of A or B, for low human and environmental toxicity and robust disclosure of ingredients. A little more than one-sixth earned a passing grade of C. The remainder – more than two-thirds – fell short, receiving a D or F.
Almost three-fourths contain ingredients which may have worrisome respiratory health effects. Of particular concern, such chemicals were routinely found in all-purpose spray cleaners.
More than one-fourth of products scored moderate to high concern because they contain ingredients linked to cancer or may contain impurities linked to cancer.
One-fifth of products scored moderate to high concern because they contain ingredients associated with developmental, endocrine or reproductive harm.
More than 10 percent of the products are corrosive, capable of permanently damaging eyes or skin.
Ten percent of products were rated moderate to high concern for skin irritation and damage and skin allergies because they contain ingredients of concern.
Almost 60 percent of products scored moderate to high concern because one or more ingredients pose a risk to the environment. These chemicals are only partly removed by wastewater treatment plants, don’t readily break down, are persistent in the environment and toxic to aquatic life.
Almost half of the products EWG assessed for this update rated “poor” on ingredient disclosure. Other disclosure details:
Fewer than 40 percent rated “good,” providing relatively complete and specific ingredient information, rather than hiding behind vague descriptions like “preservatives” or “surfactants.” Five percent of cleaners, including some from Colgate-Palmolive Company and Sun Products Corporation, provided no information at all on the label.
Almost seven in 10 of the products use the terms “perfume” or “fragrance,” catch-all terms that can hide the presence of chemicals such as bioaccumulative synthetic musks, linked to endocrine disruption and reproductive and developmental harm. Seven percent listed the equally vague term “essential oil.”
Little more than a quarter of products fully disclose ingredients in any single location, whether on the label or online. Only 14 percent got full credit for disclosing ingredients on the label, and another 14 percent for disclosure on product websites.
For half of products with available worker safety data sheets, the documents revealed at least one additional chemical not disclosed on the label or website. Most disturbing, were the listing of benzene on the currently available (as of March 2016) safety data sheet of Palmolive’s eco+ dishwasher gel and of formaldehyde on the currently available safety data sheets of eight other dish and laundry products.† Long-term exposure to benzene is linked to leukemia, anemia and bone marrow damage, and formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, respiratory irritant and allergen.
Twelve percent of products use the terms “dyes,” “colorants”, or “colors” instead of listing the specific chemical dyes. Two dyes that were sometimes listed are known as FD&C Yellow 5 and FD&C Red 40, which may cause allergic reactions or be contaminated with impurities known to cause cancer.
Other frequently appearing but vague terms include “fabric brighteners” or “optical brighteners,” chemicals that make clothes appear whiter. Some of the specified brightening agents that are listed are known to build up in the environment.
Other Chemicals of Concern
Almost 40 percent of products reviewed contained isothiazolinone preservatives, which can either trigger or exacerbate allergies. Researchers and physicians from over a dozen clinics have reported cases of serious skin allergy, and an increase approaching epidemic proportions in allergies to a specific type of isothiazolinone known as methylisothiazolinone, or MI. The European Union recently lowered its safety standard for these chemicals in rinse-off cosmetic products, but the U.S. has no restrictions, even though hands and forearms are repeatedly exposed to these substances for long periods while washing dishes. A small number of products contain one of three preservative compounds that when mixed with water release formaldehyde.
Fourteen percent of products contain sodium borate, also known as borax, or its boric acid relatives. Sodium borate is an acute respiratory irritant that has been linked to nose bleeds, coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest tightness. It is also associated with reduced sperm count and libido in exposed male workers and decreased ovulation and fertility in lab animals. Sodium borate and boric acid can also cross the placenta and harm the developing fetus.
Harmful germ-killing ingredients known as quats, or quaternary ammonium compounds, were found in more than 40 percent of antibacterial products under review. Evidence is building that quats may impair human reproduction. Another active ingredient used in disinfectants is bleach, found in just over 10 percent of the disinfectant products and in over half of the dishwasher detergent liquids we reviewed. Bleach, or sodium hypochlorite, can cause severe burns and eye damage. Both sodium hypochlorite and quats can cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people after frequent exposure to low concentrations. Lactic acid, a safer bet for killing germs, was found in just over one-fourth of disinfectant products we reviewed.
To search all 406 products included in the EWG’s update and to find expanded details on these and other key findings, stay tuned to EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
† Products with formaldehyde listed on available safety data sheets:
Ajax Dish Liquid, Lemon
Ajax Triple Action Dish Liquid Hand Soap, Orange
Fab Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergent, Spring Magic
Finish All in 1 3X Concentrated Gelpacs, Orange Grease Cutting
Finish All in 1 8X Power Gelpacs, Orange Grease Cutting
Palmolive Ultra Dish Liquid, Original
Palmolive Ultra Concentrated Dish Liquid, Lotus Blossom & Lavender
Woolite Everyday Laundry Detergent, Sparkling Falls.
Learning more and more about the benefits of yoga, and the many types of yoga. According to mindbodygreen.com, there are several types of yoga to fit everyone’s needs to desired benefit.
There are many different types of yoga to practice, so it’s important to find out which type of yoga is right for you. Here’s a quick introduction to some of the most common and popular types of yoga:
Bikram Yoga – Get ready to practice yoga in 105 degree heat and in 40% humidity — hot! Though Bikram only has 26 poses and there’s lots of alignment work so it might be a good fit for beginners.
Hatha Yoga-Class is also likely to be focused on slow and gentle movements so it’s a great type of yoga to wind down with at night
Vinyasa Yoga-Commonly called “Vinyasa flow” or just “flow”, you’ll definitely be moving, flowing from one pose to the next. Other than starting with a sun salutation, no two classes will be alike. It’s the most popular style of yoga in America.
Kundalini Yoga-“Kundalini” refers to the energy of the Root Chakra, which surrounds the area around your lower spine. Expect lots of work in your “core” area and classes are known to be pretty intense.
Ashtanga Yoga-Commonly called Power yoga, Ashtanga is definitely physically demanding. It’s probably best suited for an ex-athlete or someone looking to really push their body.
Iyengar Yoga-Expect lots of props with this type of yoga such as blocks, harnesses, straps, and even cushions. There’s also a lot of focus on alignment so Iyengar can be great for physical therapy.
Anusara Yoga-Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara is epitomized by “the celebration of the heart. Expect many “heart-opening” poses like backbends and more talking by the instructor in class.
Restorative Yoga-Looking to wind down after a long day of work? Or perhaps you want to quiet your mind? Restorative yoga might be the answer as it’s focused on relaxation.
Jivamukti Yoga-Jivamukti is mostly practiced in NYC as it was founded there in 1984 by Sharon Gannon and David Life. It’s a mix of vinyasa flow sequencing infused with chanting and a vegetarian twist.
Prenatal Yoga-If you’re an expectant mother then Prenatal yoga is probably for you. Prenatal yoga is thought to be one of the best types of exercise for moms-to-be as there’s a lot of core work and a focus on breathing. Sorry guys, this one is not for you.
You have probably heard that a healthy digestive system is key to a healthy body. Why is this? Many believe that the immune system directly relies on the health of your digestive tract. Your intestines are filled with flora that maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. When that healthy balance is disrupted, you have what is called dysbiosis. Bad bacteria becomes predominant in the intestines, and that bad mix can also be candida (yeast), or protozoa.
Digestion begins in the mouth, where your teeth start the process by crushing your food. The crushed food is then mixed with saliva in the mouth. Enzymes within saliva begin to break down the food. Once food enters the stomach, it gets churned and broken up and fats are emulsified. Within the stomach enzymes such as pancreatic juices and hydrochloric acid are introduced into the digestion process. Once the food passes to the small intestine, where the good and bad bacteria reside, the process of nutrient absorption begins. When that unbalance occurs, dysbiosis, the nutrient absorption is disrupted and malnutrition occurs.
Signs or Symptoms Of Dysbiosis:
Bloating, belching, burning, flatulence after meals
A sense of feeling full after eating
Indigestion, diarrhea, constipation
Nausea or diarrhea after taking supplements
Dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose in those who are not alcoholics
Post-adolescent acne or skin irritations such as rosacea
Chronic intestinal infections, parasites, yeast, unfriendly bacteria
Undigested food in the stool
Stools are greasy
Your skin bruises easily
Absence of menstruation or Amenorrhea
Weak or cracking fingernails
So what sort of things can cause dysbiosis? Stress, is one cause. If your immune system is suppressed, adding stress to that can disrupt the digestive tract. Inflammation can be a contributor too. Diets that are poor and lacking the proper nutrition will attribute to the imbalance in gut bacteria. Another cause of dysbiosis can be frequent antibiotic or drug therapy. The antibiotics strip the digestive system of bacteria, the good and the bad. It’s indiscriminatory. If any or all of these factors are present in your body, the addition of intestinal infections or even a parasitic infection will increase dysbiosis too. If the intestinal tract is balanced, the body can fight off the bad bacteria or parasites in order to keep the population under control and balanced, or in symbiosis.
To make a big change in your health, start with your digestive system. Here are four ways to heal your gut.
Remove all food toxins from your diet. Food toxins are sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup), omega-6 oils like corn oil, cereal grains and processed soy.
Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
Eat fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, etc., and/or take a high-quality, multi-species probiotic
Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present
Take steps to manage your stress
To add to my previous chat on recycling, here are some more recycling tips to make the habit easier!
Buy recycled paper and print on both sides. When using paper in the home or office, print on both sides of the sheet and recycle the paper when you are finished. By recycling one ton of paper, you can save 17 trees, almost 7,000 gallons of water and more than three cubic yards of landfill space.
Recycle your outdated technology. According to EPA, Americans throw out two million tons of e-waste each year. Avoid adding to that waste by recycling your old technology. Check with your local waste management company to find out your options for disposing of electronics and appliances. There are safe options and many areas have a neighborhood clean up days that gives free disposal dates once or twice a year.
Make recycling bins readily available. Make sure your home and office are outfitted with recycling bins for paper, plastic and metal. Keep them out in the open and label them appropriately. Sometimes the convenience factor is all that is needed.
Recycle your empty ink and toner cartridges. Almost eight cartridges are thrown out in the United States every second of every day. That’s almost 700,000 cartridges per day.
Buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges. Each remanufactured cartridge keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills and saves about a half gallon of oil. I recently learned you can refill ink cartridges at Costco of all places!
Recycle old magazine or newspapers lying around the home or office. When finished reading the newspaper, or your favorite magazine, either leave it for someone else to read or recycle it. Many have chosen to use online newspaper or magazine subscriptions now. That makes for an even better option to protect the environment.
Look for the recycled option in all the products you buy. It’s not just paper that is recycled.
Buy rechargeable batteries. It takes 1,000 regular batteries to equal the lifespan of one rechargeable battery. When you are discarding your batteries, recycle them.
Purchase rewritable CDs, DVDs and thumb drives, or any other memory devices, so that you can reuse them from project to project.
Reuse your morning coffee cup. Or better yet, buy a mug to avoid the waste caused by throwing away the paper or Styrofoam. Styrofoam has been banned in many areas, and hopefully that trend will continue.
Here is a list of natural acne remedies that I came across this week. Always good to find healthy ways to cure your ailments!
Baking Soda– This is my absolute favorite natural remedy for acne! Surprisingly, I only discovered baking soda masks a couple of years ago, and oh boy, is this stuff powerful at clearing skin! Baking soda not only helps eliminate breakouts and reduces inflammation, it is also an exfoliator and helps remove dead skin cells! Because of this, it also works great to reduce any old scars or acne marks. To use it, just take a few teaspoons of baking soda and mix it with warm water until it forms a paste. Apply the paste to your skin. You may want to leave it on for only 10 to 15 minutes the first few times as it may feel powerful. You can gradually increase the time up to an hour or even leave it on overnight (which is what I do). After one use you can see a great difference in your skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar– This natural remedy for acne is another powerful one, it has both antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. To start out, you may want to dilute a few teaspoons with half cup water or 1/4 cup water as it can be quite powerful when applied directly to your skin. Make sure to use apple cider vinegar that’s raw, unfiltered and labeled as “with the mother”, which has the most nutrients.
Coconut Oil– Coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal. Coconut oil is also extremely moisturizing and gentle. It helps fight the bacteria and reduce redness. Apply the coconut oil to your skin and massage it in. You can reapply a couple times per day. With coconut oil, there is no need to ever use a moisturizer again, it works so well and doesn’t clog your pores. For optimal benefit, use organic coconut oil that is unrefined.
Tea Tree Oil– Tea tree oil is an essential oil and can be a very powerful all natural remedy for acne, as it is antibacterial. To apply it, mix a small amount (5 to 10 drops) of tea tree oil with a 1/4 cup water. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and apply it to your skin. You can reapply throughout the day or leave it on under your makeup.
Egg Whites– For this, I’m not talking about eating them, they make a great natural remedy for acne when used as a facial mask! Egg whites reduce the oil and minimize your pores in addition to drawing out impurities. To use it, separate the egg white from the yolk, use a cotton ball or you can use your fingers to apply the egg white to your skin. After a few minutes you’ll start to feel it tighten, you can leave it on anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Afterwards, your skin will have an amazing glow!
Lemon Juice– For this one, you can either use lemon juice or a fresh squeezed lemon. Lemons have natural antibacterial and astringent properties to help clear your skin. Apply the lemon juice to your skin and leave on for 15 minutes to an hour.
Garlic– Not only is garlic a great natural antibacterial when ingested, it also works great topically. To use it, take a clove of garlic and thinly slice it. Rub the slices on your skin, particularly any problem areas, making sure the juice of the garlic is applied. Leave on for 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
Ice Cubes– Rub an ice cube on problem areas to help reduce inflammation. Not only, does the cold close your pores it also forces the bacteria out. You can also splash your face with cold water to achieve similar affects.
Cornstarch– Cornstarch is very soothing and gentle. This is a great natural remedy for acne when you have a lot of redness or irritation. You can apply the cornstarch to your individual breakouts or to your whole face. Sometimes you can leave it on overnight and find a huge difference in the morning!
Aloe– Aloe is very soothing and reduces inflammation and redness. To use it, apply the gel to your skin with your fingers, you can apply it several times a day. If you have an aloe plant, it would be even better as you get the aloe fresh, without any added ingredients. Or you could also just get an organic aloe gel.
Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment. Here are some recycling basics, courtesy of United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Benefits of Recycling
-Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
-Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals
-Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
-Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
-Helps sustain the environment for future generations
-Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States
Steps to Recycling Materials
Recycling includes the three steps below, which create a continuous loop, represented by the familiar recycling symbol.
Collection and Processing
There are several methods for collecting recyclables, including curbside collection, drop-off centers, and deposit or refund programs.
After collection, recyclables are sent to a recovery facility to be sorted, cleaned and processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like raw materials would be, and prices go up and down depending on supply and demand in the United States and the world.
More and more of today’s products are being manufactured with recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include the following:
-Newspapers and paper towels
-Aluminum, plastic, and glass soft drink containers
-Plastic laundry detergent bottles
Recycled materials are also used in new ways such as recovered glass in asphalt to pave roads or recovered plastic in carpeting and park benches.
Purchasing New Products Made from Recycled Materials
You help close the recycling loop by buying new products made from recycled materials. There are thousands of products that contain recycled content. When you go shopping, look for the following to make your contribution to the world’s recycling efforts:
Products that can be easily recycled
Products that contain recycled content
Below are some of the terms used to identify such products:
Recycled-content product – The product was manufactured with recycled materials either collected from a recycling program or from waste recovered during the normal manufacturing process. The label will sometimes include how much of the content was from recycled materials.
Post-consumer content – Very similar to recycled content, but the material comes only from recyclables collected from consumers or businesses through a recycling program.
Recyclable product – Products that can be collected, processed and manufactured into new products after they have been used. These products do not necessarily contain recycled materials. Remember not all kinds of recyclables may be collected in your community so be sure to check with your local recycling program before you buy.
Some of the common products you can find that can be made with recycled content include the following, adding to your knowledge of recycling basics:
Laundry detergent bottles
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by inadequate production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas and has a key role in controlling blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is also frequently associated with excess weight and high blood levels of fats. Wheat grass, which is scientifically known as Triticum aestivum, is a herb from the wheat family. Wheat grass is a natural source of vitamins A, C, E, K and B complex and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, amino acids and chlorophyll. The juice from wheat grass leaves usually are consumed in the raw form, and done so by many, as a medicinal practice.
Because wheatgrass is rich in healthy nutrients, this herb has been proposed for improving a variety of health conditions, from boosting immune system and antibacterial activity to colon detoxification, diabetes and cancer. However clinical studies are needed to confirm these health benefits.
In December 2009, a study was published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology , stating that wheatgrass has a definite role in improving glucose and lipids levels and can effectively be used in the management of diabetes. The study was conducted on 30 volunteers, where wheatgrass was added to one meal. Glycemic index (GI) is a number that measures the impact that a food has on blood glucose levels. It is recommended that diabetics should consume low GI foods. The researchers found that adding 15 g of wheat grass to certain foods significantly lowered the GI of those foods and thus improving blood glucose levels. The blood levels of some fats called triglycerides were also improved in the participants who consumed wheatgrass. Hopefully more larger scale studies can be completed to back up these findings.
Wheatgrass has a good safety profile and aside from the sweet flavor, is well tolerated by most. Rare side effects include mild nausea and headaches. Findings from USDA research notes, “Gluten is found only in the seed kernel (endosperm) and not in the stem and grass leaves.” However many are still a bit skeptical. Of course, there is an exception, if the company has gotten gluten-free certification through the Celiac Sprue Association, the Gluten Intolerance Group, or the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, where products are tested to contain less than 5ppm or 10 ppm of gluten, respectively.
The safety of wheatgrass is not fully assessed during pregnancy or lactation, so it is recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume wheatgrass.
Always consult with a qualified health-care provider before starting any new health regimen, and to find out optimal dosage of daily wheatgrass that may help improve your condition. Wheatgrass does not replace and should not be used to replace any medication you are currently taking.