Saturday, June 28, 2008

Calendula Infused Oil

Oil that has been infused with calendula (Calendula officinalis or pot marigold) is great for treating burns, scrapes, and itchy rashes. The flowers typically are harvested just before they burst into bloom. The infusion is easy to make.


  • 1-1/2 cups (355 ml) dried calendula flowers
  • 2 cups (474 ml) oil (e.g., olive oil, sunflower oil)


  • Process the flowers and oil in a blender until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into a jar, cover the container, and store it in a warm location, out of direct sunlight.
  • Shake the jar once a day for 2-3 weeks. The herbs must be submerged, so add more oil if necessary.
  • Filter the oil using a strainer or cloth. Press the oil from the flowers. Discard the flowers.
  • Store the oil in the refrigerator in a sealed jar.
  • Apply the infused oil as needed to minor skin injuries (not deep lacerations).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two-Layer Lemon Bath Oil

I love layered bath oils! Here's an easy and tangy two-layered bath oil recipe. The bath oil has a stimulating and refreshing scent. To use, simply shake the bottle to mix the ingredient and pour a small amount into the bath. The layers will reform. Vinegar is used instead of water because no preservative is required. If you wish, you can add a bit of food coloring. It will color the vinegar portion of the mixture.
Yield 1/2 cup
Time 5 Minutes
  • measuring cups/spoons
  • pretty bottle, preferable tall and thin, with cork or cap
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (e.g., olive, corn, canola)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (choose from white or apple cider, depending on desired color)
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon essential oil (found in the spice aisle of your grocery store)
  • 1/4 tsp. oil of bergamot
Directions Add all of the ingredients to a clean decorative bottle.

Seal and label the bottle.

Shake immediately before use to mix the ingredients and keep the layers even.

Tropical Lip Gloss Recipe

These island ingredients will drench your lips with tropical moisture. The vitamin E is a natural preservative.

Yield - Approximately 1/2 ounce

Time - 5 minutes to make; a bit more time to cool


  • teaspoon
  • spoon
  • clean container with lid
  • small microwaveable or heat resistant cup or bowl
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa butter, grated
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon macadamia nut oil (may substitute almond oil or olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon light sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon petroleum jelly (optional: use to make gloss more solid or to add more shine)

Mix all of the ingredients in a cup or bowl.

Rest the container inside of a larger container of very hot (not boiling) water.

Stir the ingredients together until they are melted.

Pour the mixture into a small container with lid (lip gloss containers are commercially available).

Smooth the gloss onto lips, either to be worn alone or to add shine over lipstick.

Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose and Caffeine Withdrawal

Caffeine is a substance which occurs naturally in several plants or can be chemically synthesized. It is found in relatively high doses in coffee, some soft drinks (e.g., cola), and a variety of medications. It is also found in lesser amounts in tea and chocolate. Three cups of coffee is considered a moderate dose of caffeine for an adult. However, you can best gauge whether or not you are getting too much caffeine by being on the lookout for symptoms of caffeine overdose. If you are trying to cut back on caffeine, you may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours after stopping your intake. Withdrawal symptoms are at their worst 24-48 hours after the last cup of coffee (or other caffeine-containing substance), but can last for a week. For this reason, it's usually better to cut back on caffeine slowly over the space of several days.

Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose


  • Insomnia or Difficulty Sleeping
  • Muscle Twitches or Spasms
  • Confusion
  • Losing/Regaining Consciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Convulsions
  • Increased Urination
  • Increased Thirst
  • Fever
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Death


  • Tense Muscles Alternating with Relaxed Muscles
  • Tremors
  • Shock
  • Deep Rapid Breathing
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Death

Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Muscle Stiffness
  • Hot Flashes and/or Chills
  • Headaches

Medical Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

Most people realize they need to seek immediate medical attention if they are bleeding profusely from an obvious wound or experiencing the chest pains, dizziness, and shortness of breath that can signal a heart attack. However, there are other symptoms that may indicate a serious medical condition, requiring immediate attention:

Sudden Severe Headache

A blindingly severe headache can indicate an aneurysm in the brain - a spot where a weakened blood vessel bulges outward. Treating a blood vessel before it bursts can prevent disability or save your life. A sudden intensely agonizing headache is sufficient reason to seek immediate medical attention.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Losing weight without a change in your eating or exercise habits can signal a serious underlying medical condition. Similarly, an unexplained ongoing loss of appetite may be a symptom of illness.

Symptoms of a Stroke

People tend to take the classic symptoms of a heart attack more seriously than the often more subtle signs of a stroke. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience slurred speech, tingling, numbness, confusion, paralysis, weakness, and/or burning pain. Early treatment can often prevent permanent damage.

Headache with a Fever and Stiff Neck

These symptoms may indicate meningitis. Quick treatment of bacterial meningitis may save your life and prevent scarring of nervous tissue.

Black Stools

Black stools with a tar-like consistency may indicate bleeding in the stomach or small intestine. It's important to identify the cause of the hemorrhage. Bleeding ulcers and intestinal cancer can cause this symptom.

Men: Lump in the Testicles

A testicular lump can be a symptom of testicular cancer. Even as it is recommended that women perform routine breast self-exams, men should perform periodic exams of their testicles.

Women: Postmenopausal Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding after menopause may signify uterine cancer. The cancer is treatable if it is caught early enough, but many women tend to discount this symptom.

Seek medical attention for these symptoms. Although the symptoms themselves may seem minor, they can indicate a serious illness. A check-up can give you peace of mind or even save your life.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bach Flower Remedies

In the 1930's, Dr. Edward Bach used his knowledge of homeopathy to devise a plant-based remedy to treat a particular set of negative feelings. The Bach Flower Remedies are thought to work by stimulating the bodyĆ¢€™s capacity to self-heal and by balancing negative feelings. Remedies are selected which most closely correspond to a person's basic personality type or the particular emotional stress that is being experienced. The Bach Remedies are generally considered to be non-toxic, non-addictive, and safe to use with other medications. Bach flower essences are widely available from suppliers who carry homeopathic or naturopathic remedies.

Flower - Indication

Agrimony - repressed worries, for one who has a cheery outward appearance that conceals internal fears and concerns

Aspen - apprehension, fear of the unknown, anxiety, foreboding

Beech - intolerance, being critical of others, narrow-mindedness, feeling annoyed by others

Centaury - inability to say 'no', trying to please others, easily exploited

Cerato - lack of trust in own decisions, always turning to others for decisions

Cherry Plum - for some compulsions and obsessions, fear of impulsively doing something known to be wrong, impulsiveness

Chestnut Bud - failure to learn from mistakes, destructive patterns of behavior

Chicory - possessive love, needing to be involved in the lives of others, meddling

Clematis - daydreaming, withdrawing into a fantasy world

Crab Apple - feelings of self-hatred, poor self image, shame of physical appearance

Elm - feeling overwhelmed by responsibility, feeling unequal to a task

Gentian - discouraged by a setback, making 'mountains of molehills'

Gorse - hopelessness, despair, feeling nothing can be done

Heather - self-centered, needs to talk about one's self, unhappy when alone

Holly - hatred, jealousy, envy

Honeysuckle - dwelling on the past, expecting to never be happy again

Hornbeam - procrastination, fatigue due to boredom

Impatiens - impatience, irritability with slowness in others

Larch - lack of confidence, expectation of failure

Mimulus - fear of known things or things encountered in everyday life, such as fear of the dark, fear of growing old, etc.

Mustard - gloominess, feeling overshadowed by a cloud

Oak - for one who continues past the point of exhaustion, workaholic, one who continues to fight a battle that cannot be won

Olive - exhaustion following mental or physical effort, lacking vitality

Pine - guilt, perfectionist, dissatisfaction with the efforts of others

Red Chestnut - too much concern for the welfare of loved ones, always anticipating the worst

Rock Rose - fright, terror, extreme fear in the face of an emergency or accident

Rock Water - self-denial, repression, being too hard on oneself

Scleranthus - indecision, mood swings, unable to achieve balance

Star of Bethlehem - shock, refusing to be consoled, for trauma following receipt of bad news or loss

Sweet Chestnut - extreme mental anguish, when it seems no hope remains, when you have reached the limits of your endurance

Vervain - overly enthusiastic, feeling the need to convert others over to your way of thinking

Vine - inflexibility, dominance, domineering, seeming to have too much self-assurance

Walnut - protection from change and unwanted influences, for periods of transition and adjustment to new beginnings, protection from peer pressure and negativity from others

Water Violet - pride, arrogance, for loners who appear aloof, for those who seem unapproachable or distant

White Chestnut - unwanted thoughts and mental arguments, for when the mind replays the same 'broken record' to distraction

Wild Oat - uncertainty over one's direction in life, for feeling lost

Wild Rose - apathy, resignation, accepting what life has in store without an effort to influence it

Willow - self-pity, resentment, for unjust suffering and the feelings that tend to accompany it, for feeling unfortunate

Rescue Remedy - Mix of cherry plum, clematis, impatiens, rock rose and star of Bethlehem, used to help deal with any emergency or stressful event

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Natural Ways to Prevent Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a progressive condition characterized by decreased bone density. As the bones lose their mineralization, they become porous. The weakened bones can cause pain, deformation of the skeletal system, and susceptibility to fracture. Osteoporosis can lead to other conditions caused by a lack of minerals normally supplied by the bones.

Osteoporosis affects one in six women and one in eight men over the age of fifty. It is most commonly seen in post-menopausal women. A person's peak bone mass is reached in his or her 20s or 30s. At this age, bones are at their strongest and most dense. Bones are continually being rebuilt, but after this age the body absorbs more minerals from bone than are being replaced. The strategies for avoiding osteoporosis focus on making certain the diet contains sufficient minerals, so that the body won't need to draw on the reserves kept in bones. Another aspect of prevention is to keep stimulating the bones to remineralize themselves.

What Are Osteoporosis Risk Factors?

The more risk factors you have, the greater your tendency to develop osteoporosis. Even if you have many of the risk factors, there are steps you can take to strengthen your bones and minimize loss.

  • Female
  • Age 50 or older
  • Past menopause
  • History of hormonal imbalances
  • Use of certain medications, such as steroids
  • Insufficient calcium in the diet
  • Insufficient vitamin D, either from the diet or processing of sunlight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Very thin
  • 'Small-boned' body frame
  • Caucasian
  • History of fracture
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Smoking
  • Caffeine consumption (e.g., coffee, colas)
  • Alcohol consumption

    Prevention of Osteoporosis

    The best weapons against development of osteoporosis are a healthy diet and exercise:

    • Exercise

      Weight-bearing exercise induces the bones to rebuild. Examples of weight-bearing excersises include walking, running, dancing, and weight training. Exercises that rely on the body's own natural resistance also help strengthen bones, such as yoga and tai chi. In general, strong muscles require stong bones. Another advantage of exercise is that it helps to promote balance and coordination, which reduces the risk of falling.

    • Calcium

      The body uses calcium in bones for many of its processes, so it's important to make certain that reserves are available. The recommended intake of calcium ranges from1000-1500 mg per day, depending on age, sex, and other factors. Foods that contain calcium include dairy products, such as yogurt; green vegetables; soy products; seafood such as salmon; and sesame seeds.

    • Vitamin D

      Vitamin D is also important for building bone mass, as it aids in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is produced within our skin upon exposure to sunlight and it is also found in foods such as egg yolks, liver, ocean fish, and fortified milk. Daily intake should be approximately 400-800 IU per day, although the amount varies according to sun exposure.

    • Vitamin K

      Vitamin K is also important for healthy bones. Vitamin K is found in green, leafy vegetables (e.g., broccoli, collards, brussels sprouts, spinach). Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation, so persons taking blood thinners should check with their physician before attempting to increase vitamin K levels.

    • Avoiding Risk-Increasing Substances

      You can help to reduce your risk for osteoporosis by avoiding substances that interfere with calcium absorption or demineralize bones directly. Use of carbonated soft drinks, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol all may increase the risk of osteoporosis. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis.

    Additional Reading:

  • Natural Remedies for Dark Undereye Circles

    There are many causes that contribute to getting dark circles under your eyes. Some of them are out of your control (genetic predisposition, skin tone), but there are several things you can do to diminish the appearance of dark circles and keep them from worsening.

    • Drink Enough Water
      Dark undereye circles are one of the symptoms of dehydration.

    • Get Enough Sleep
      Insufficient sleep can result in pale skin, which shows blood vessels more than usual. Blue or dark circles can appear.

    • Use Sunscreen
      Sunscreen will help prevent weakening of the skin by the sun's ultraviolet rays, which can help keep dark circles from worsening.

    • Avoid Using too much Salt
      To some extent, salt dehydrates you. This can cause you to retain fluid. When you retain fluid, the blood vessels under the eyes can become engorged, giving you dark circles.

    • Apply Cool Damp Teabags
      Normal tea can temporarily soothe inflammation that can cause dark circles.

    • Try Cool Cucumber Slices
      Apply cool cucumber slices over closed eyes for 15 minutes to reduce swelling and inflammation.

    • Boost Your Diet with Antioxidants
      Foods high in antioxidants can hep strengthen your blood vessels. You can find antioxidants in blueberries, cherries, currants, onions, parsley, cranberries, and legumes.

    • Try a Vitamin K Cream
      Vitamin K can help heal bruising, which can be part of the problem contributing to undereye circles.

    Saturday, June 7, 2008

    Prevent Lyme Disease

    Deer Tick Ixodes scapularis (NOAA)
    If you don't get bitten by a tick, you won't contract Lyme disease. Therefore, the best protection from the disease is to avoid the disease carrier, the deer tick.
    • Avoid Ticks

      Deer ticks are most commonly found in wooded areas, bushy areas, tall grass, and areas with leaf litter. However, they can also be found in lawns and gardens, more commonly at edges of wooded areas and near walls. If you must enter an area that could harbor ticks, stay toward the center of trails. Try to avoid contact with grass, bushes, and leaf litter. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease are most active May through July, though they may be found at other times as well.

    • Dress Appropriately

      • Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts, shoes, and socks to help keep ticks off of your skin.
      • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
      • Tie back long hair; consider wearing a hat.
      • Tuck pant legs into socks or boots. Tuck shirts into pants. This will help keep ticks away from skin.
      • Consider taping the area where pants and socks meet to prevent ticks from crawling under clothes.

    • Consider Tick Repellent

      You can spray tick repellent on clothes and shoes before entering tick-infested areas. Two common choices are products containing the repellent DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) and those containing the repellent/insecticide permethrin. DEET-based repellents may also be applied directly to the skin, to help prevent tick bites. Permethrin should not be applied directly onto skin.

    • Check for Ticks

      Check for ticks at least daily. You should also inspect your pets. The following body areas are common sites of tick bites:

      • armpits
      • back of the knee
      • inside of elbow
      • nape of the neck
      • navel
      • scalp
      • groin

    • Check your Clothes

      Even if your body is free of ticks, your clothes may have acquired them. Ticks can survive quite a long time, waiting for a host, but you can kill them by running clothes through the dryer on high heat for a normal cycle. Normal washing of clothes will not kill ticks.

    Minimizing Risk if you are Bitten

    If you find a tick embedded in your skin, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of contracting Lyme disease. Infected ticks normally cannot begin transmitting the spirochete (the bacterium that causes Lyme disease) until the tick has been attached for about 36-48 hours. If you find a deer tick attached to your skin that has not yet become engorged (swollen with blood), chances are good it hasn't had sufficient time to transmit Lyme disease.

    • Don't Panic

      Only specific types of ticks can carry Lyme disease. Also, not all ticks that can carry the disease actually do carry it.

    • Remove the Tick

      Remove a tick from your skin as soon as you notice it. Use tweezers to grasp the tick very close to where it is attached to the skin. Avoid crushing the tick’s body (if you do, just be sure to clean your skin with soapy water or swab it with alcohol after removal). With a smooth and steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from your skin. Once the tick is removed, clean the skin with warm, soapy water. If you are very concerned that the tick could carry the disease, you could keep it for later inspection. Don't be concerned if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Once the mouthparts are separated from the tick's body, it can no longer transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. Don’t use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products to remove a tick. These removal methods could actually make the situation worse, causing the tick to excrete or regurgitate bacteria.

    Tick-Proofing your Surroundings

    • Consider Pesticides around your Home

      A pesticide designed to kill ticks called an "acaricide" can reduce tick populations around your home. A single application at the end of May or beginning of June (possibly reapplied in September to control adult ticks) can reduce tick populations as much as 68% to 100%. Timing is important, so check with local health officials about the best time to apply acaricide in your area. If you choose to apply pesticide yourself as opposed to hiring a professional, you will need to check into the regulations regarding pesticide application on residential properties.

    • Landscape to Deter Ticks

      Consider the habits of ticks when planning the landscaping of your yard. Ticks thrive in humid, wooded areas. They tend to avoid sunny, dry areas. There are several steps you can take to make your property less attractive to ticks:

      • Keep your yard free of leaf litter.
      • Clear brush and mow grass.
      • Separate lawns and wooded areas with wood chips or gravel to restrict tick migration.
      • Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
      • Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
      • Stack wood in dry areas.
      • Keep recreational yard equipment away from yard edges and trees.

    • Discourage Deer

      Deer ticks aren't found exclusively on deer, but reducing deer populations around your home may reduce their prevalance. To discourage deer from your property:

      • Do not feed deer on your property.
      • Construct barriers such as fencing to discourage deer from entering your property.
      • Plant "deer-resistant" or deer-proof plants.

    • Consider Additional Measures

      • You can install bait boxes that treat wild rodents with acaricide. These devices can reduce the incidence of ticks around homes by more than 50%. The bait boxes do not harm the rodents.
      • If you wish to keep deer near your home, but live in a high-risk area, devices exist for applying topical acaricides to deer.
      • Fungal agents are available for biological control of ticks.
      • There are plants you can include in your landscaping and natural extracts that could be applied around the home or on clothes that safely repel ticks.

    Natural Sunburn Remedies

    Example of a Sunburn (QuinnHK Wikipedia)
    You can get relief from a mild sunburn using natural remedies. A mild sunburn is the type that is red, painful, and may have slight swelling. This type of burn usually heals in 3-7 days, sometimes with peeling and itching.


    Applying cool, damp towels to a sunburn can help to relieve pain and keep the area hydrated. Baths or showers using cool to lukewarm water also may be beneficial.

    Keep Hydrated

    It's important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Being out in the heat and sun dehydrates the body, even if you don't get burned. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and headaches, which will only make you more miserable.

    Aloe Vera Gel

    Aloe vera gel is the sap from the aloe plant. Aloe is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects and to promote healing of a sunburn by helping to keep the skin hydrated. I'm not aware of documentation proving that aloe really helps heal burns better than a placebo, but applying aloe gel that you have kept chilled in the refrigerator, or aloe fresh from a plant, can provide temporary relief from the discomfort of a sunburn.

    Topical Vinegar

    Similarly, a white vinegar compress may help provide some relief from the pain of a burn. You can spritz unbroken skin with a mixture of half water, half white vinegar or apply a compress of diluted white vinegar which has been applied to a chilled clean cloth.
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    Treating Portuguese Man-of War Jellyfish Stings

    Portuguese Man-of-War or Physalia (NOAA)

    First Aid & Treatment for Physalia Jellyfish Stings

    The Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia) can be found in any ocean when the water becomes warm. They are most often seen when strong winds have blown them near or onto the shore. These creatures are characterized by their blue, violet, or pink balloon-like float, which trails clusters of tentacles and polyps. The tentacles, which may extend 165 feet (~50 meters) in length, house the stinging nematocysts. The nematocysts sting upon contact. The man-of-war sting can cause a life-threatening reaction, although this is rare. More commonly, inappropriate first aid worsens the sting from what it would normally be. Many properly-treated stings resolve on their own, sometimes as quickly as 15-20 minutes. That's why it is important to take prompt and proper action in the event of a man-of-war sting. Here's what to do (and not to do):

    Symptoms of Man-of-War and Jellyfish Stings

    First, know your jellyfish! A man-of-war is different from a true jellyfish and both are different from a box jellyfish. If you don't know what caused the sting, carefully lift off any remaining tentacles and rinse with seawater. Don't scrub the area and don't apply any chemical (e.g., vinegar, fresh water, commercial product), as inappropriate use can cause injury or death. Don't make the sting worse. Unless the person has a reaction to the venom, stings heal well on their own. Here are the symptoms of a man-of-war or jellyfish sting:
    • Painful raised red lesions running along the site of tentacle contact (most common symptom)
    • The lesions may become filled with fluid. Sometimes these will heal with pigmentation.
    • Muscle spasms in the affected area
    • Systemic reactions: nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness, runny nose, difficulty breathing, and irregular heart rate (these symptoms are more likely to occur in sensitive individuals or those with extensive stings)

    First Aid for Man-of-War Stings

    • Prevent further stings. Carefully lift off tentacle remnants, using a stick or gloved fingers. Do not rub the tentacles off, as this will cause more nematocysts to sting.
    • Next, rinse the affected area with seawater. Do NOT use fresh water or vinegar, as these may cause the stinging cells to discharge all at once and may greatly worsen the sting! Do not scrub the affected area. [vinegar, papain (as in meat tenderizer), baking soda, urine, or aluminum sulfate all may deactivate the toxin, but they may also cause the stinging cells to discharge all at once, possibly intensifying the injury]
    • Ice may be applied to reduce pain and swelling.
    • Pain can be countered with topical treatment of products containing lidocaine or benzocaine (as in those products used for sunburn).
    • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) cream may be applied for persistent itching.
    • Seek immediate medical attention if the person stung is having any difficulty breathing or maintaining consciousness.
    • Seek medical attention for muscle spasms.
    • Infection is possible, so seek medical attention if the pain persists, the rash worsens, a feeling of overall illness develops, lymph nodes become swollen, a red streak develops between lymph nodes and the sting, or the area becomes hot, red, and tender.
    • It is not uncommon for the sites of man-of-war stings to 'flare up' with irritation periodically for up to 6-8 weeks following the sting. Unless the signs of infection are seen, these symptoms tend to resolve on their own.

    Why Blog About Holistic Medicine?

    Why did I create this blog? I wrote articles for All Info About's Alternative Medicine site until January 2007 when the network was dismantled. I learned a lot... I apply much what I learned personally, like how to treat jellyfish stings and healthy recipes and basic reference information. At present, all of that content is saved on a hard drive. I can still find it, but no one else can. So... here's a blog that will be a home for those features on alternative medicine, plus will include new articles, recipes, and information.

    What Is Holistic Medicine?

    Holistic Medicine is a system of health care that integrates physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of health. You might think of the 'hol-' as 'whole'... the health of a person depends on the balance between all aspects of a person's life. This includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle in addition to more traditional medical factors like genetics and exposure to disease-causing micro-organisms. Holistic medicine can involve complementing traditional medicine with alternative therapies (complementary or alternative medicine).