ecology · food · gardening · organic

Dirt

 

This weekend I was kind of half-listening to NPR while I was prepping gluten-free bread for the week when what someone said about soil caught my attention. He brought up the fact that our ancestors actually ate a lot more soil than we do now, and that soil was also far more loaded with healthy microbes than it is now. That makes complete sense when you think about how much more people used to grow their own food (and therefore ate it right out of the ground) and how much healthier that dirt used to be before commercial fertilizers and pesticides became commonplace, and before the earth was as polluted as it is now. Our grandparents and our great-greats must have thought of dirt quite differently too, seeing it as a fundamental part of the food chain instead of something to be scrubbed off and sanitized away. I looked for the interview I heard this weekend so I could listen to it with my full attention, but unfortunately could not find it, though I did find this article on The Splendid Table about the importance of good soil and getting our bodies in it and it in our bodies. Of course, that is assuming the soil is healthy soil, not soil that has been polluted with “junk food” fertilizers as a Delicious Living article put it.

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To keep soil healthy for future use and to make the plants grown in it healthier and therefore those that eat those plants healthier, it’s important to use natural fertilizers that actually build up the soil and plants instead of conventional fertilizers that provide quick fixes. The slow food movement would certainly concur with that. Let’s build up the soil, the plants, and our bodies as nutritionally as possible with the understanding that it all starts with the dirt. InstagramCapture_a2653364-0100-4a28-badb-402a57f5c2d4[1]

children · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · health · kids

Probiotics

There is a study being carried out at the University of Washington (where I got my MA~ go Dawgs!) which is looking at probiotics in a slightly different way than the usual probiotic news. They are studying how birth by C-section vs. through birth canal effects the baby’s microbiome, and also the differences that occur in only breastfeeding, only bottle feeding, or mixing the two. As you might guess, the baby gets probiotics by actually traveling through the birth canal, kind of like the mama’s last parting gift as her little one moves into our germy world. I can’t help but think of it as a parting party bag…only the beginning of many party bags for the next 6 years at least. The baby does get some probiotics when delivered by C-section, but not anywhere near the same quality or quantity that the birth canal gives. And also as you might guess, breastfeeding offers the baby a host of probiotics that bottle feeding cannot replicate. What you might not guess, and what seems to have surprised the researchers, is that when mixing breast and bottle feeding the baby does not get the same amount of probiotics that pure breastfeeding gives. This is intended to inform only~ anyone who has a baby to feed needs to decide for themselves how best to do it. If you happen to have been a C-section, bottle-fed baby (like many of my generation) then it is yet another reason to look at taking probiotics. Or if you are a parent, then the same information can be used when making decisions for your kids. It makes me think about the rise of food intolerances and allergies of late and the part that infancy and the actual birth might play in those issues. Obviously the causes are multifaceted, but I do not doubt that our modern birthing and feeding changes play a role. A person’s microbiome is a magor player in their immune system their entire life, and it is never too late, nor too early, to start building a good defense system.

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alternative medicine · children · ecology · essential oils · health · Herbs · kids

Everyday Herbalism Featuring Thieves Oil

This morning I was reminded of how herbs as essential oils are just part of my family’s everyday life, making it better, healthier, sweeter smelling, and even a little sillier. Before getting out of bed, I heard my oldest son sniffle a couple of times. The boys went skiing yesterday so I wasn’t overly concerned, but I did put some Thieves oil into my little diffuser instead of my usual morning wake-me-up blend. Thieves oil has a great story to it, though whether it is more history or mythology is anyone’s guess. I like to think the story had to start somewhere, so why not in an actual event? The story has several variations, but basically they all say something along the lines of this: During the Middle Ages there were four thieves in France who used to rob the graves (or the houses) of those who had died of the Plague and managed to not get ill themselves. When they were eventually caught, they were given a lighter punishment in return for telling how they did it. The four thieves admitted they used herbs (most likely soaked in vinegar at that time) to keep themselves from getting the disease. They knew how to do this because among them were perfumers and spice traders who at the time understood the anti-biotic and anti-viral properties of their goods. Their blend has passed down to us through all these centuries, though the actual recipes vary depending on who’s making it. Usually the blends include: clove, lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon and rosemary, and then different makers add in their own special favorites. You can find it as Thieves Oil, Four Thieves Oil, Bandits Oil, and I’m sure other names as well.

The boys and I use it almost everyday. I have added Thieves Oil to almond oil (10 drops per ounce of base oil) and put it in a glass roller bottle so we can easily apply it. I like to rub my whole neck with it but the boys are pickier. Since it was at first difficult to convince them to start rubbing themselves with this perfume-like substance I resorted to telling them they had my permission to write swear words on themselves with this oil. They found that to be hilarious and even now, after months of this, my youngest still takes the oil from me with mischievous glee and waits for me to pull a face of shock and horror as he writes something spectacularly naughty on his arm. Whatever works.

You can make your own as there are plenty of recipes online, or just buy it already blended at any Whole Foods or herbal shop. I’m using Uncle Harry’s Four Bandits Anti-germ blend right now and realized after I bought it that the company is based right here in Redmond, WA, where I live! Now that’s pretty cool.

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alternative medicine · ecology · essential oils · food · health · Herbs · homeopathy · modern life · slow food · technology

Herbal Enhancement and Enchantment

Every single day I use herbs in a multitude of ways and they are not necessarily ‘curing’ anything (although they might be!) nor are they making me super-human. What they do is enhance daily life in meaningful, beautiful ways and I’m on a mission to get others to think about herbs as enhancing their lives, instead of thinking of them in a pharmaceutical way. If people can change the way they think of herbs, they are far more likely to start using them and enjoying their benefits, which is great in itself but also it is beneficial because herbs work best as promoters of long-term balance, so not only would one get the most out of one’s herbal usage, one would also be able to retain balance and avoid imbalances (dis-ease). In other words, more herbs means less drugs, less sicknesses, less doctor visits.  Now I’m all for modern medicine~ absolutely would not turn back time to any romantic bygone era because I wouldn’t want to lose access to our modern medical wonders. I am most definitely not talking about replacing modern medicine with herbs~ if you have a medical issue, go to the doctor. Herbs can do so much more though, and if you start incorporating them in your life, it’s my firm belief you’ll have less medical issues for which you need to go to the doctor. And even though modern medicine may be full of wonders, the truth is not many people enjoy the time spent in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or going through the newest medical techniques~ miraculous or not. This attitude reminds me of the slow food movement so I like to think of it as slow health. Herbs alone won’t make a person healthy, but thinking long-term about health is a great way to start thinking about your personal tendencies and imbalances and how to counteract those things long-term. Many things might help: exercise, yoga, dietary changes, brain games, homeopathy, social changes, journaling, essential oils…the list can go on and on because we are all such different individuals. At a time of year when so many of us are reviewing our daily lives and resolving to do better, be better, I hope in the rush towards better-ness we can all pause and instead of just downloading a new app on our smart phones to track diets, or upping goals on fitbits, we can all think of slowing down this rush which is itself out of balance. Perhaps the best part of adding herbs into daily life is the connection with nature that moment provides.

Lavender

If you own one essential oil, it’s most likely lavender. Add a drop to your pillow tonight, or several drops to your bath and enjoy herbalism that way. In other words, you don’t have to drink an herbal tea or take a tincture in order to benefit from herbs, there is a world of beauty in essential oils that can be tapped through so many ways. Not that there is anything wrong with herbal infusions or tinctures, but if you are new to the world of herbs, I recommend starting with something fully pleasurable and beautiful and hopefully it will whet your appetite to investigate more in the herbal world. Health regimes do not need to be unpleasant~ enjoy creating your optimal health. It’s a beautiful thing.

natural beauty products

Beauty product toxins

This is a great visual from abesmarket.com of some of the worst toxins in beauty products that should be avoided:
Toxic Beauty I’ll just add Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS ) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) which are foaming ingredients in soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste. They cause a multitude of problems including hormone disruption. It’s a dangerous world in the beauty aisle. Be careful out there.