Treating Pink Eye, Naturally
November 15, 2011 at 6:00 am
Ugh. Pink eye. It is the pink devil.
It is itchy and miserable and oozy, and makes you kind of want to throw a shoe at whoever brought their infected kid to the place with the slide.
The common treatment for super contagious conjunctivitis is antibiotic eye drops. And sometimes, in some cases, they are exactly what is called for.
But there are some home remedies that in mild cases can help clear up pink eye, and in more severe cases can help (along with your practitioner’s treatment) to speed up the healing process or at least bring a little comfort:
- Warm Chamomile Tea Compresses — Make a cup of chamomile tea and let it cool slightly. Wet a washcloth with the infusion and place over affected eye.
- Echinacea, Vitamin C and Elderberry– Taking immunity booster like echinacea, astragalus, vitamin c, elderberry and zinc all help support your body’s natural defenses and help you recover more quickly. It can also help build your immunity if you live with someone who already has pink eye.
- Similisan Pink Eye Relief — a natural alternative to antibiotic drops. Flushing the affected eye with sterile saline can also be helpful.
- Homeopathy– Homeopathy is a very individual science, but some remedies to investigate include apis mellifica, argentum nitricum, arsenicum album, belladonna, euphrasia, ferrum phosphoricum, hepar suprhuris, mercurius vivus and pulsatilla*
- Environment — Pink eye is VERY contagious. To eliminate it from your environment, wash sheets and pillowcases each day, and do not share towels. Surfaces that can not be washed can be sprayed with diluted tea tree or thyme oil, or a blend like Medieval Mix
- Diet — Much like with a cold (where mucous becomes the enemy) avoid rich foods like eggs and dairy and drink lots of water
- Breastmilk(bonus!) — Are you nursing a babe? A bit of breastmilk dropped into the affected eye can heal pink eye. (Note: Other infections can be transmitted through breastmilk, so only try this if you trust the source completely.)
- Rest — This is not a precise prescription of course, but we have found in the past week that lots of rest and downtime helped speed up recovery as well.
* From a Homeopathic Handbook of Natural Remedies by Laura Josephson, C.C.H., R.S. HOM. (NA)
(Note: I am not a doctor, and just like anything, conjunctivitis can require medical attention. Please do not take this post as a substitution for medical advice.)
Have you battled pink eye in your home this season?
Good Old Fashioned Chicken Stock
November 4, 2011 at 6:00 am
It was more than a year ago now that a very vegetarian girl asked a couple of Traditional Foods loving friends how the heck to make chicken stock.
The process had never really interested me before, because as a long-time vegetarian, I very rarely had a chicken carcass lying around.
But then because of some food allergies and restrictions, our diet changed pretty drastically, and we started having chickens appear in the kitchen. Still a vegetarian myself, I somehow felt better about using the whole bird.
And so, I began making chicken stock from scratch a couple of times a month.
Do you make stock? Are you wondering why anyone would bother?
It turns out that the stuff is pretty darn healthy, if you are carnivorous. A lot of those old wives’ tales about chicken soup helping with healing really might have some scientific merit.
And around my house, three out of the four of us really like it. It is a great base for soup, of course, and can come in handy for sauces and risotto too.
What I learned from those Traditional Food friends is the important step is adding a tablespoon of vinegar to draw out the minerals from the bone (I know — this from a girl who has shunned eggs and dairy in the past). Also, the gelatin you see floating to the top really is the good stuff, so go ahead and share that with all involved.
An optional step is roasting the carcass. I don’t, but I do enlist the help of little chicken pickers like one friend suggested in order to get all the meat off the bones.
I am still adjusting to our new diet, which seems to be ever evolving anyway. But if I am going to buy chicken, I want it humanely raised, antibiotic-free and organically fed. I also want to use every bit of it.
Homemade Chicken Stock
Chicken carcass, picked clean (roasted or not)
Fresh filtered water
1/2 of a large onion
3 carrots, washed but not peeled
2 celery stalks
a large bunch of parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 4 hours or as long as you can. Drain and transfer to jars. We do freeze ours for later use, or refrigerate it if we are going to make soup the next day.
It’s Bee Time
November 3, 2011 at 6:00 am
We got a couple of special deliveries this past week. Our farmer friend Jan harvested honey and beeswax from her hives recently and was kind enough to share some of what she got with us.
This big jar of delicious local honey is a little like liquid gold to us. The honey helps keep us healthy during cold and flu season, and it tastes great on our toast and tea.
I was also thrilled that she gifted us with some wax from her hives this year, which we used to make some homemade beeswax polishfor our toys and also for blocks we colored, sanded and polished last week as part of our wood-themed homeschool pre-school class.
I’ve got some other big plans for these great local gifts, but I also thought it might be a good time to look back on last year’s “Honey Week,” when I spent several days talking about our farmer friend Jan and all things honey:
Hope you are enjoying a little of the sweet stuff where you are!
What’s in Your Fall ‘Medicine Cabinet?’
October 5, 2011 at 6:00 am
Fall has ushered in some beautiful weather in the Midwest, but it has also brought with it the first bout of cold germs.
Our family started to get sniffly noses and scratchy throats this past weekend, and so we dove into our “Fall Medicine” stockpile to try to fight the funk.
Last year, my mom mentioned to me a really helpful tip — when you set your clock back, she said, “double-up” your Vitamin D and Vitamin C.
This advice makes a lot of sense to me because when the days get shorter, we get less natural Vitamin D from the sun. This is also the time of year, of course, when colds and flus rear their ugly heads, so it makes sense to take more Vitamin C for increased immunity.
Around here, we also make sure we are taking good doses of probiotics, fish oils, powerful food-based multi-vitamins, and we add in echinachea and elderberry syrup when someone starts feeling a little run-down.
Our diet also shifts, towards more warming foods and to hot herbal tea instead of ice water. Yogi’s Echinacea Immune Support Tea is one of my favorites for added protection.
How are you staying healthy this season?
5 Quick and Easy Ways to Recharge Your Day
September 13, 2011 at 6:00 am
Being a mother, is without a doubt, one of the very most rewarding things I have ever done.
It is also, sometimes, a little exhausting. A little thankless. A little, um, relentless.
When my day starts to feel like that, there are five little tricks I use to recharge and rest my day:
1. I wash my hands. You know those days, when a nice long shower would really change things? But those are the very days you do not have time to take a nice, long shower. So instead, I wash my hands.
I always keep some Dr. Bronner’s by my sink (because it cleans just about anything). Dr. Bronner’s soap contains true essential oils, which are powerful — the lavender, peppermint or citrus kinds are my favorite, and all those oils have “recharge” benefits. Peppermint invigorates, citrus brightens and lavender relaxes.
So I wash my hands, and breathe. Does it fix everything? No, but it gives me a minute or so to stop and figure out my next step with a slightly clearer head.
2. I drink a big glass of water. This is something I learned from my brilliant midwife during my first pregnancy. When things felt a little “off,” she encouraged me to drink a large glass of water (8 to 12 ounces), sit down, and relax.
Somehow, drinking a large glass of water still has the power to stop my worrying, fretting and wandering mind. Hydration also helps every system in your body, so a large glass of water never hurts.
3. I take 3 deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. I close my eyes, and begin again.
4. I practice a few calming and centering yoga poses like downward dog, bridge pose or legs-up-the-wall pose. If I am feeling super ambitious, I do a headstand. It is really, really hard to be upset and frustrated when you are upside-down.
5. I take a 15-minute walk …With the kids, unless someone else is here to care for them. But even with the kids, a little fresh air and sunshine helps a lot. Sometimes we walk to a near-by store and get an ice cream cone. Sometimes we just walk around the block. With every step, I feel a little better.
So … what is your quick way to recharge your day?
Natural Ways to Treat Insect Bites
May 18, 2011 at 6:00 am
I think there was probably a spider in his bike helmet. That makes the most sense since he came in from riding his bike and his ear was swollen to three times its normal size.
I could also see the little bite marks when I looked closely. A bee sting, a nurse told me, would show one little hole, not too.
Last summer, Owen got a bite of some sort, and his ear reacted with itching, swelling, redness … all the classic signs.
Once we got it diagnosed, we tried a natural treatment our naturopath had told us about.
(NOTE: Some spiders really are incredibly dangerous, and of course, other stings and bites can carry dangers as well, especially to people with allergies. So please know this post is not intended to replace medical advice. Please seek help from a professional if you need it. Disclaimer done.)
Bug Bite Poultice
You can create a bug bite poultice by mixing equal parts ground flax seed and activated charcoal and adding boiling water. Stir into a thin paste. Smear between wet paper towels an apply to skin. Wrap affected area and leave on for a few hours.
If it is on your ear, the poultice plus bandage might feel a little funny. But it is darn effective and I have been told that it does not hurt.
Unfortunately, Owen’s spider bite was not the only bug-related incident last summer. We also had two family members who befriended ticks.
Again, one type of ticks CAN carry Lyme Disease, so inform yourself about that illness and the symptoms. But otherwise, I was glad to find a natural way to treat ticks bites and to remove the little buggers.
The way we handle ticks bites here is to smother the tick in olive oil, which will get it to release and its weird little body will pull up into the air. Next, we use tweezers to grab its head and remove it with a twisting motion. (If you think it is a deer tick, save it in a bag. I saved ours anyway for a few weeks just to be sure.)
After removing the tick (being sure to get all tick parts), we cleaned the area carefully and treated the spot with thyme oil, which is naturally antiseptic.
We kept an eye on things and in both cases we were lucky.
(ANOTHER NOTE: Both times we found ticks we had not been visiting a wooded are or a place that normally would be associated with ticks. It was flukey. But when we do visit those kinds of places we apply natural insect repellent and do “tick checks” when we get home just to be safe.)
Do you have a natural way of handling insect bites during the summer? Have you ever made your own insect repellent?
For a tummy bug …
May 10, 2011 at 6:00 am
I had mentioned last week that we were going to have a busy weekend — two birthdays and Mother’s Day will do that to you.
We had BIG plans on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of last week … but we only made it until half-way through Saturday when a tummy bug stopped us in our tracks.
It seems like it might have been the universe’s way of telling us to slow down. And we certainly did. We spent the rest of Saturday and most of Mother’s Day close to home, which actually turned out to be pretty perfect.
We organized the house and focused on healing, and within 24 hours, everyone afflicted was feeling much better.
Some of the tricks we use around here when a tummy bug strikes are sticking to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) and drinking lots of chamomile or peppermint tea.
A hot water bottle and lots of rest helps too.
We made up a big batch of soup Saturday night and snacked on a few crackers. I also made a pot of rice pudding with half rice milk and half coconut milk.
My naturopath suggests making (and drinking) homemade rice milk with lots of cinnamon when tummy trouble hits. Her recipe is to cook brown rice in twice the amount of water and then drain off and reserve the cooking water as the milk. Add cinnamon and honey to taste and you are good to go. (Honey can help with tummy trouble too!)
We like to keep coconut water on hand as an alternative to Pedialyte. It is naturally really hydrating. And something about coconut does a tummy good. Aloe juice can also help, and of course, doubling up on probiotics!
What are your natural tips and tricks when your family is suffering from tummy trouble?
MYO: Lavender-Peppermint Bath Salts
March 2, 2011 at 6:00 am
I am still loving Laura’s sugar scrub. It is getting me through these last few weeks of winter as spring approaches. And my elbows no longer look like they belong to elephants, which is always nice.
But I like a little pampering in the bath tub too. So I mixed up some bath salts this week for those times when a relaxing soak seems in order.
These lavender-peppermint bath salts are so easy to make and so affordable. I love the essential oil blend that is both calming and a little cheery. But you could substitute any essential oil blend that works for you — geranium and grapefruit is one of my other current favorite combinations right now.
Lavender-Peppermint Bath Salts
1 cup coarse sea salt
1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup baking soda
5 drops essential oil
Mix well in a big bowl and transfer to a sealed jar. Add a good amount to running bath water.
Moisturize well after your bath — these bath salts are wonderful for relieving muscle tension, but can be slightly drying if you don’t moisturize carefully after using them.
Herbal tea juice pops
March 1, 2011 at 6:00 am
My little girl is wiped out today with what seems to be the flu.
It came on suddenly, with all the classic symptoms — discomfort, exhaustion, a rough cough and fever.
She has no interest in food, even though we keep making and offering her favorites.
She has been drinking, but to make sure she stays hydrated and to help flush whatever nastiness has taken over out of her system, I made some herbal juice pops too.
Chamomile is such a good tea for sickness and fevers: it promotes rest, helps fight infections and relieves aches.
But my kids don’t love it.
I read once in a book about a teacher at a Waldorf school who mixed equal parts of apple juice with chamomile tea for the children. The sweetness of the juice won the kids over; while drinking it diluted meant less sugar.
My kids love that mix, but when they are sick, I sometimes take it one step further and make the mixture into frozen juice pops.
Because my kids will eat just about anything in frozen juice pop form.
(When our naturopath recommended coconut milk for Owen’s stomach, I wasn’t sure how to give it to him. So I froze it with pineapple juice into juice pops. I was then forced to wonder if it was possible to overdose on coconut milk …)
At times like these, there isn’t much you can do for a child but bring comfort. And so we stay close, I try to keep her hydrated, and I do whatever I can think of to help her rest and recover — lots of layers; warm blankets; gentle back rubs and medicine from the Earth.
While I’m anxious to see her bright and cheery again, I feel so grateful to be close by while she gets better, and to be able to give her something that brings a smile to her face, until her full-time smile returns.
MYO: Lemony Sugar Scrub
January 27, 2011 at 6:00 am
I am so excited to share a recipe with you from my crafty friend Laura.
As I mentioned yesterday, our house gets incredibly dry this time of year. And that translates into really dry skin for me.
I have what women in my family refer to as “The Nanny Itch,” named after my grandmother who used to get awfully scratchy from December until about June. I realize that the poor woman probably needed a humidifier, but unfortunately there’s not a whole lot I can do about that now.
What I can do is arm the other women in my life with Laura’s awesome scrub, which helps slough off dead skin and leave the skin underneath moisturized and glowing.
Laura’s recipe, which she created by pulling all the best parts from various recipes calls for non-organic sugar because it contains more beneficial acid than organic sugar. It is also slightly cheaper, but certainly organic sugar could work here too.
I also added a very small amount of lemon essential oil to the recipe. I figured a scrub would be a great wake-up in the shower, and lemon always makes me feel cheery. I do have a word of caution though — some people can be sensitive to lemon essential oil. And it should always be diluted well. I used 4 drops for my recipe, just a little lemon in the background. If you have issues with lemon or have very sensitive skin, you may want to consider another essential oil, like lavender or rose (but do not use rose oil while pregnant). And of course, you can skip essential oil altogether — the scrub will still be very effective and leave your skin looking and feeling great!
So experiment! Have fun! Share with the women in your life who need a little skin pampering this time of year (which I think is all of us).
Lemony (or not) Sugar Scrub
(fills 3 1.5-ounce containers; I halved the original recipe)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 vitamin e capsules (cut open and squeeze out oil)
3/4 tbsp aloe gel
3/4 tbsp cocoa butter
4 drops essential oil like lemon, lavender or rose
In a small pan, mix coconut oil and cocoa butter and melt over medium heat until liquified. Pour into a glass bowl and add sugar, vitamin e, aloe gel and essential oil. Mix well to combine. Store in airtight containers.
Scrub, scrub, scrub!