essential oils

How to Treat Ear Infections with Herbs

Ear infections are one of the most common ailments in children under the age of 8. Even teenagers and adults can get ear infections, though it’s less common. Unfortunately, not only are ear infections the most popular ailments in our younger generations, but they are also one of the main causes of overuse of antibiotics. In fact, most ear infections will clear up within 24-72 hours after the first symptoms. Parents who take their children to the doctor to get an antibiotic often believe that the antibiotic is what cured their child, when the reality is that the ear infection, more likely than not, began clearing on its own. It takes 24-48 hours for an antibiotic to begin working. It can take the same amount of time for the symptoms of an ear infection to begin subsideing on its own.

I get it, though. I’m a mom. I think I ran to the doctor for almost every single ear infection that my son had when he was little. There were a few times that I didn’t, but other times, I was just worried. Worried moms, that’s never a good thing!

Back then, I wasn’t confident enough in my herbal knowledge to help the issue, and so, I turned to modern medicine. But that’s the beauty of modern medicine—peace of mind. And when in doubt, I encourage you to heed your instincts, even now!

However, there are plenty of other ways to heal an ear infection and help ease symptoms. We’ll go over a few of those right after we understand why and how we get ear infections.

Preventing Ear Infections

Before we can treat an ear infection at home, there are some important things we have to take into consideration. Prevention is the number one place we need to begin.

Most children who have an ear infection get one because of immature Eustachian tubes. Little ones have the smallest tubes, and when they become inflamed during a cold or teething, fluid and/or bacteria can get trapped in the Eustachian tubes and cause pain, inflammation, and ultimately, an ear infection.

Most little ones get ear infections from inflammation and blocked tubes, and during (or right after) having a cold or an allergen inflammation. We can prevent ear infections during this time by first trying to prevent the cold and flu. You can do this by secondarily administering herbal remedies and supplements through your breast milk if you are a nursing mom. Try making an elderberry and astragalus syrup to not only help prevent you from getting a cold, but baby as well. Never give the syrup to infants, however, the syrup is safe for most toddlers.

You can also prevent an ear infection by aiding the draining process of fluid in the middle ear.

These practices may include:
  • Making sure your baby or little one is angled upright (when sick) while taking a bottle or nursing, as well as when they are sleeping, if at all possible. For older kids, propping pillows underneath of them while napping or sleeping is a must. For infants, allowing them to nap and sleep in a swing will be greatly beneficial.
  • Taking your children for chiropractic care. Chiropractic care allows the lymph nodes and channels throughout the body to drain more easily. It can also reduce inflammation and swelling. Find a trusted pediatric practitioner in your area.
  • Massage Therapy, focused around the lymph node areas, will help the body relax and drain the system of any excess fluid and sinus build up and blockage during colds and flus.

Prevention is your first step to helping your child with an ear infection. These simple methods can help rid the possibility of ear infection for your child, and even for yourself.

Different Types of Ear Infections

Let’s face it. Sometimes we forget to prop our kids up. Sometimes we forget to prevent cold and flu with herbs and vitamins. So now, our kid has an ear infection, and that’s ok! But what type of ear infection do they have? You may never know just by watching your child, but in many cases, especially when we practice the “wait”, we can know exactly what type of ear infection our child has…if it’s even an ear infection at all.

Here are the different types of common ear infections, and one other possibility:

  • It’s not an ear infection at all. Yep, that’s right. I could just be swelling and inflammation that will work itself out. The actual presence of puss and fluid never happens. Your child is just uncomfortable from inflammation in the sinuses and ear canal. This is a major cause for children pulling at their ears and never having an ear infection.
  • Acute otitis media (AOM)—this is the most common ear infection. This infection affects part of the middle ear and causes fluid to be trapped behind the eardrum. It can cause an earache and a fever, but it will typically resolve in a matter of 2-3 days.
  • Otitis media with effusion (OME)—this can be seen as an ear infection, but sometimes it’s just trapped fluid. The fluid never goes away after the original ear infection has subsided. Some children never have any symptoms with it. Or, they may just have discomfort on a regular basis because the fluid is trapped. We often think it’s a reoccurring ear infection, when in actuality, it’s just fluid build up.
  • Chronic otitis media with effusion (COME)—this ear infection is the most dramatic and may require medical attention. COME makes it harder for children to fight off other infections that may be lurking in the body because they are in a constant state of having an ear infection. Reoccurring infections can happen every couple of weeks due to fluid build up over an extended period of time. This type of infection needs medical attention.

I always encourage parents to practice the wait. Give your child 3-4 days after symptoms begin to see if they begin to subside on their own if you don’t want to take the herbal route. If the child isn’t better after a few days, it’s time to got to the doctor.

However, treating the ear inflammation or infection from the very beginning with herbal remedies is your best bet, and can prevent further, more dramatic, types of ear infections from occurring and reoccurring.

Whatever you do, I encourage you to hold off on antibiotics as long as possible.

The overuse of antibiotics truly takes hold of our children and their future generations when we overuse complicated medicines for simplistic ailments. Five in every six children in the United States will experience an ear infection during their childhood. According to Healthy People 2020, 77.8% of pediatric visits for ear infections result in antibiotic prescriptions. The overuse of antibiotics creates superbugs and antibiotic resistance in our communities.

Why are we consistently prescribing antibiotics for an ailment that will more than likely resolve itself in the same amount of time it takes for an antibiotic to begin working?

Besides the fact that we’re abusing antibiotics, let’s consider that antibiotics still do relieve pain or the stress of an ear infection. Only herbal remedies or pain relievers can do that. So why not kill treat the ailment and give natural pain and inflammation relief all at once?

Herbal Treatment for Ear Infections

There are a few different ways we can treat ear infections at home, and all of them are completely healthy and beneficial to your little one. The best way to treat efficiently and effectively is at the first sign of symptoms. Once you know, for sure, that your child (or you!) has an ear infection, immediate treatment methods should begin.

One of the best ways to treat an ear infection is with garlic, mullein, calendula, St. John’s Wort, lavender, and other anti-inflammatory and antibacterial herbs. You can create an herbal oil remedy (recipes below) to place inside of the ear. However, if the ear drum is ruptured do not use this oil inside of the ear. Rub it on the outside of the ear and behind the ear.

Basil Essential Oil is also a great remedy when placing the diluted oil around the outside of the ear canal and behind the ear. You can also put it in an ear oil recipe. Never place essential oils inside of the ear canal undiluted or without being in a recipe (like the one below).

You can certainly give pain reliever, like tylenol or advil, and offset the liver toxicity by offering milk thistle (dose according to weight). But you’ll find that the herbal oil itself will help relieve a lot of that pain.

Use one of these simple recipes for earaches and infections. You can make it in advance and store it in a cool, dark place for 6-8 months, or you can make it on demand when needed.

Again, do NOT place these remedies inside of the ear if there is a ruptured ear drum.

Infant and Pediatric Ear Infection Oil

Dose: 3-5 drops per application (in or around ear) every 2-3 hours until symptoms resolve
Age: 2 months and older

Ingredients:
7 grams chamomile flowers, dried
7 grams garlic, dried
2/3 cup avocado oil

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Once it reaches 250 degrees, turn it off and keep the door closed.
  2. Place herbs in a mason jar and cover with avocado oil. Immediately place in oven once oven has been turned off.
  3. Leave the jar of herbs and oil in the oven for 2-3 hours, infusing the oil with the medicinal herbs.
  4. Remove the jar from the oven and strain the oil into a sterile 4 oz dropper bottle. Make sure you squeeze all of the oil out of the herbs!

 

Child and Adult Ear Infection Oil

Dose: 3-5 drops per application (in or around ear) every 2-4 hours until symptoms resolve
Age: 9 months and older
This oil is great for older children and is more efficient because of the addition of basil essential oil.

Ingredients:

7 grams chamomile flowers, dried
9 grams garlic, dried
4 grams calendula flowers, dried
1 cup avocado oil
48 drops sweet basil essential oil
2 tsp raw or manuka honey (*optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Once it reaches 250 degrees, turn it off and keep the door closed.
  2. Place herbs in a mason jar and cover with avocado oil. Do not add basil essential oil. Immediately place in oven once oven has been turned off.
  3. Leave the jar of herbs and oil in the oven for 2-3 hours, infusing the oil with the medicinal herbs.
  4. Remove the jar from the oven and strain the oil into two sterile 4 oz dropper bottles. Make sure you squeeze all of the oil out of the herbs!
  5. Add basil essential oil to the strained oil liquid and mix well. if using honey, add while mixture is still warm. Stir until completely mixed.
  6. Shake well before using.

*Additions: Raw honey and manuka honey are great additions to this remedy. You can

 

*These recipes and more can be found in the Vintage Remedies Confident Family Herbalist course.

 

 

Resources:

Healthy People 2020. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Kristinsson, K., Magnusdottir, A., Petersen, H., & Hermansson, A., (2005). Effective treatment of experimental acute otitis media by application of volatile fluids into ear canal. The Journal of Infectious Disease. 191:1876-1880.

Lieberthal, A. S., Carroll, A. E., Chonmaitree, T., Ganiats, T. G., Hoberman, A., Jackson, M. A., … & Schwartz, R. H. (2013). The diagnosis and management of acute otitis media. Pediatrics131(3), e964-e999.

Rosenfeld, R. M., Vertrees, J. E., Carr, J., Cipolle, R. J., Uden, D. L., Giebink, G. S., & Canafax, D. M. (1994). Clinical efficacy of antimicrobial drugs for acute otitis media: metaanalysis of 5400 children from thirty-three randomized trials. The Journal of Pediatrics124(3), 355-367.

Soni, A. (2008).Ear Infections (Otitis Media) in Children (0-17): Use and Expenditures, 2006. Statistical Brief #228. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

All Natural Dryer Sheets | Wool Dryer Balls and Essential Oils

I feel most nostalgic during the fall and winter seasons. Holidays are so important to me, and some years it’s hard to find a balance between carrying out old traditions, and creating new ones of our own. Recently, though, I’ve been trying to find nostalgia in scents. The wood stove starts this for me every single year. The smell of cedar wood burning, or just the essence of smoke rolling down to the ground.
Sometimes it’s not the woodstove. The woodstove nostalgia carries over into sugar cookies, or pies, or turkey or ham — or those scented pine cones everyone loves.
In the spring months, it’s tulips or the smell of fresh water in a river bed. Light and airy scents keep us joyful and the sun shines bright and beautiful. I love those smells. I want to take them everywhere with me all year long.
I love scents, I just love them. Candles, wax burners, detergent, dryer sheets. But I found that I was using dryer sheets more often than not. And as many of us know, dryer sheets emit strong harmful chemicals into the air, and essentially, right up your family’s nostrils as they put their clothes on. While you might smell delightful, you might not feel so delightful. Studies have been done that show high amounts of chemicals being released, and some have even speculated that they can be linked to Alzheimers, neurological disorders, and even cancer.
In an effort to reduce our carbon foot print, and to created a healthier living environment, I recently discovered wool dryer balls. And let me tell you, I am absolutely in love with them.

I was strolling through the store a few weeks ago and out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of some wool dryer balls. As with anything, I automatically take my phone out and say to myself, I bet I can find these cheaper on amazon. Yes, of course I can. And I even found organic ones!

So I went home, hit that order button, and in two days I received my 6 organic wool dryer balls. Awesomesauce.

Dryer balls are not only a good alternative to scented dryer sheets, they also naturally soften clothing without leaving behind a residue. I can honestly say that my clothes are the fluffiest they have ever been since using these dryer balls. They are so soft. My towels are actually fluffy again!

Since I already have essential oils (EOs) on hand at all times, the EO part was easy peasy. But it was especially easy for me to choose which EO I wanted to start with. I started with the beloved Cedarwood.

I chose Cedarwood simply because it is uplifting. It also reminds me of my grandparent’s old house in the winter months, or the old cedar chests that my grandma used to keep winter sweaters or old blankets in. When she would pull them out, everything smelled like cedar. Everything. It was lovely. The best part, however, is the cedarwood also promotes a clear mind, relaxation, and focus.

The best thing about dryer balls is that you can switch up the scent whenever you want to. Maybe one day you could do peppermint or clove for the winter months—this also helps rid clothes of any sickness yuckies floating around on clothes. In the spring and summer, you can do tangerine or citrus scents. Don’t forget that EOs are dual purpose as well, not just for scent, but for aromatherapy. While the EOs won’t linger long, the first initial pull on of a shirt can fill your airways with aroma that could bring joy, happiness, peace, relaxation, motivation, or just a cleared mind. Choose blends like Balance, or Elevation, if you’re hoping to rejuvenate yourself each morning.

There are blends such as Purify, that are natural cleansing blends, which I highly suggest as well.  Purify is an exclusive combination of essential oils that purify and eradicate odors in a natural, safe way. This uplifting blend combines citrus and pine essential oils that leave an airy, fresh scent on surfaces and in the air.

So, here’s how you do it…

6-8 drops essential oil
1. At first,  your dryer balls may have a plasticy smell to them from sitting inside of plastic shipping for such a long amount of time. You can simply toss them into the dryer for 20 minutes to release that smell, or you can add the EOs and dry them for a few minutes.
2. When you’re ready to dry a load of laundry, simple place 6-8 drops of the essential oil of your choice on one dryer ball. Make sure you space them out all over. Do this for each dryer ball that you choose to put into the dryer. The more dryer balls you use, the more scent you’ll have, and the quicker your clothes will dry. I typically only use 4.
3. Set aside.
4. As you place your wet laundry into the dryer, layer your dryer balls, with the last ball  being place on top of the last article of clothing. This layer helps the dryer balls float throughout the entire load, rather than just around the outer edges.
5. Once your laundry is dry, pull out the laundry slowly, and collect the dryer balls as you see them. I place them in a little basket in my laundry room until they are ready to be used again.
Your clothes will not be riddled with scent, but just a light airy scent. You could, of course, add more EO to your liking, but we like to keep it airy.
Essentially, you could use the dryer balls twice in a row. My dryer balls smell just as good during a second use before adding more EOs, but it’s just not as potent on the clothes.
…and that’s it! Easy peasy…done!
If you’d like to join my essential oils family, please contact me. We have lots of fun in our group, and I’m here to help get you started with which oils could help whatever is ailing you specifically.

 

Resources In This Post

Hormone Imbalance, Essential Oils, & the PCOS Elephant in the Room

When I was trying to get pregnant with our son, I was part of an incredible online forum of women who were on the trying to conceive journey as well. You could say that it was really my first experience in interacting with other like minded women online…the basis of a community. A real online community.

I can remember reading through some of their posts though, and even some of my dearest friends on there would often post about hormone imbalances. I was a healthy early 20’s year old woman though, I couldn’t let my mind wander to that.

I’ve always said, even right after I had Junior, that he was my miracle child. Some how, I just knew, he might be my one and only. But I refused to speak it, I refused to think about it. I refused to think about the possibility of my body being ailed by a condition such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Fast forwarding 7 years—here I am. I have a 7 year old little boy, healthy as could be. But I’ve also had a miscarriage, and I’ve fought infertility for the past 5 years. But again, I refused to let my mind go to PCOS.

As most know, my journey into herbs, holistic health care, and essential oils (EOs) was really prompted by my son’s early childhood asthma. Thank the Lord, he has outgrown it, and I’m sure our lifestyle changes helped. But more recently, I’m turning to them for my own health.

There is something to be said about living a mostly healthy lifestyle, and yet, being ill. Why does that happen? How does it happen? A few months back, I noticed an over abundant amount of facial hair on my chin and upper neck. Maybe you’ve noticed it if you’ve been around me. Maybe you haven’t. I hide it pretty well (by waxing etc.) when we go out somewhere or plan on seeing someone. But sometimes, it just pops up before I have a chance. We joke that I can grow a 5 o’clock shadow quicker than my husband, but in all reality, it’s incredibly humiliating and discouraging as a woman.

This new discovery (along with many other new symptoms) instantly triggered my encyclopedia of brain knowledge and I quickly turned my attention to the possibility of thyroid and hormone imbalance. Because, you know, I didn’t really want to consider the elephant in the room.

While thyroid issues can cause infertility and unwanted hair, the kind of symptoms I was having didn’t seem to completely match up with all of the thyroid symptoms that a person would have. Either way, I knew that my estrogen and progesterone levels needed to be leveled out, and so I researched my options and opted for EOs this time. Clary Sage and Thyme, to be exact. Clary Sage is an incredible EO for balancing out estrogen, and Thyme may help level out progesterone.

While they helped, it wasn’t enough. I knew it wasn’t enough. I knew I was missing a key component, I knew I had some unwanted over abundance of male hormone in my system. Its been causing hormonal outbursts, which is unlike me. I am not a hormonal person, generally speaking. I have always been pretty level headed and easy going. Something is going on and I need to figure it out.

So, I sat down, I opened my books, and I opened the web browser, and every. single. symptom. led me to PCOS. Every single one. I have every single symptom, to every single degree. It is the one and only medical condition that my symptoms line up with—infertility, Hirsutism syndrome (excessive hair growth caused by excessive androgens), irregular periods (cycles longer than 35 days, or none in 4 month intervals), polycystic ovaries (I’ve had ovarian cysts my entire life), weight gain or issues losing weight in the waist, darkening of skin (specifically under the breasts and along neck creases), and more.

PCOS is caused by high levels of androgens—male hormones—or by insulin resistance. Or both. Either way, when you have PCOS, it heightens your chances of heart disease, heart attack, endometrial cancer, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cholesterol, depression and anxiety, and type 2 diabetes—either as you age, or imminently.

Talk about an elephant in the room.

I have prided myself, so many times, on my good health now that we live healthier lifestyles. And, certainly, I am trying to lose weight—that’s still a big issue, I know. I’m a work in progress.

There is something to be said about self diagnosis, though. To be clear, I’ve not been professional diagnosed with PCOS. I most certainly should go to the doctor, but if you know me, you know I will most likely try everything in my power to fix it before turning to alternative medicine. That’s right, I’m calling it that, because herbalism was the original medicine, not the other way around.

So, the Clary Sage and Thyme. It’s helping, and it will continue to help. As with most herbs and holistic remedies, sometimes you can’t tell it’s helping until you stop using it. That has been the case with Clary Sage and Thyme. I’ve felt bad for so long, that I have forgotten what feeling good feels like…until I’m feeling bad again.

While these two are helping, I’m still going to need to put a few more things in my arsenal. So, here’s what I’m going to try.

Essential Oils for Balancing Hormones

By placing 20 drops of each of these into a roller bottle, and then filling the roller bottle the remainder of the way up with a carrier oil, you’ll create your own unique PCOS blend. Roll the oil on the areas of your stomach where your reproductive system is, especially where your ovaries are located, or in the general area. Do this daily.

Clary Sage
In a study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research in 2014, Clary Sage was proven to have anti-depressant effects on women in menopause with hormonal imbalance. Clary Sage oil had the ability to reduce cortisol levels by 36% and improved thyroid hormone levels (TSH). Clary Sage’s biggest ability is to help level out the female hormones, whether they are in excess or decline.

Thyme
Many women deal with low progesterone levels. Thyme has the ability to help even those levels out. Low progesterone levels have been linked to infertility, PCOS, depression, anxiety, and overall imbalanced hormones.

Geranium
Geranium in and of itself is a stimulant of the adrenal cortex. This allows your body to de-stress and release the proper amount of hormones into your system. This is extremely important, as depression and stress in general can cause hormone imbalance.

Sweet Fennel
Sweet Fennel also helps balance hormones and the menstural cycle by reducing hormone fluctuations.

Sandalwood
While we like to talk about estrogen and hormone imbalance, let’s not forget about testosterone and androgens. Sandalwood helps balance out these male hormones in the body. Which is really important for someone with PCOS, most likely caused by a high level of male hormone.

Cinnamon
Cinnomon sounds like a really weird option for PCOS and hormone balance, and in fact, it doesn’t balance hormones at all. However, don’t forget that one of the issues with PCOS is insulin resistance. Cinnamon helps with that, allowing your body to level out blood sugars naturally.

Ultimately, diet, health, and exercise are all important aspects of healing PCOS as well. There are many herbs that can help with PCOS, but I plan to finish this journey of EOs first, and then if necessary, add herbs. And then, if all of that fails, I suppose it will be time to take that next leap into modern medicine.

However, I will say that in the small amount of time that I’ve been using the Clary Sage and Thyme, my body feels a difference. A big difference. And I have no doubt that adding these other oils will increase that feel good as well!

If you are interested in joining my essential oils family, and learning more about holistic remedies in general, please feel free to reach out to me! Or, visit my website here. You can also join my online Facebook Group here.

 

Our Holistic Remedies Cabinet | Essential Oils and Herbs

I often say the very beginning of our homesteading journey happened when I began diving more and more into herbal remedies. Herbs have always been my passion along this journey, and more recently, I’ve added essential oils (EOs). While herbs will always be my first go-to, because they are in their most natural form, EOs are a close second, or when I need something to really help instantly.
As the seasons change, I am constantly replenishing my Holistic Remedies cabinet, so today, I want to take you through the “must have” herbs and EOs that I keep on hand here around our homestead—be it for ourselves, our household, our pets, or our farm animals.

When I went on birth control in my late teen years, it made me feel awful and sluggish. It was my first bad encounter with a monthly medicine. But when I decided to go off of birth control in the second year of marriage, I was even more amazed by how wonderful I felt going off of it. It’s the same with most medicines or preventatives people take now days. You get so used to feeling “bad”, that you forget what feeling “good” feels like.
My next adventure into modern medicine was even worse. When my 1 year old son (at the time) was diagnosed with childhood asthma, I was terrified by the amount of medicines they were forcing down our throats. It had to change. I had to find something better for my baby,
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for modern medicine. I know many people who wouldn’t be alive today if not for modern medicine. However, I am saying that I believe, as a family unit, most (if not all) common ailments and medicinal needs can be met at home—either through herbal remedies or EOs.

Before We Begin

As with anything when it comes to herbalism, preventing illnesses and diseases from happening is probably more the key to success than simply treating the disease or illness. Therefore, having a good diet, a healthy (non-leaky) gut, and living simply (with limited processed items and chemicals) are things that play a huge role into our health. So take these things into account before starting on introducing herbs and EOs into your family’s life.
 
Also, you should know the EOs and herbs are extremely powerful—especially EOs. They are to be respected and never abused. Our ancestors used these treatments for centuries, but it wasn’t necessarily something that needed to be used every single day of their life. Be careful of dosage with herbs and EOs, and when using EOs seek a professionals advice when it comes to ingestion. While it is now widely accepted for EOs to be ingested (and mostly safe in capsule form), should a raw EO hit your stomach lining, it could cause extreme discomfort and make an already leaky gut worse.
Please use caution whenever adding new things into your family’s medicine cabinet. Children and people with Epilepsy or Neurological issues should take caution and not use certain sensitive oils.
Please always use a carrier oil whenever using EOs. 
If a health issue continues to persist long after you’ve been using EOs, then it may be best to see a holistic doctor or nutritionist to get to the bottom of whatever is ailing you. Many times, EOs and herbs can mask or temporarily treat underlying issues, but not cure them. If something is persistent, you need to make sure you get to the bottom of it and stop temporarily treating.
You can find the EOs that I use here. If you’d like to receive discounts on these oils (it’s worth it!), please contact me personally so we can chat!
I order all of my organic herbs here.

What’s In My Holistic Remedies Cabinet

…and how I use it.

Essential Oils

Oregano — A natural immune support and cleansing agent. I use this on animals that have scraps or cuts, in order to boost their immune system and help their bodies fight off anything that could cause more harm. I use it on cuts and scrapes along with Tea Tree oil, in order to treat and prevent contamination or nastiness from multiplying. Also aids in digestive and respiratory issues. It is also effective when defused in the barn or coop, should your chickens need respiratory help due to sensitive airways or illness.
Breathe This was the very first thing I used when treating my son’s childhood respiratory issues. It helps open airways and aids in respiratory issues. It is especially beneficial during high threat seasons. I suggest putting this oil in a roll-on bottle for convenient use.
PeppermintI use peppermint all.the.time. Whether it’s warding off ants in my kitchen, cooling high temperatures, or putting it in our homemade toothpaste. Peppermint also aids in digestion and allows easy breathing. I also use peppermint whenever I have a bone or muscle soreness. My knee cap often comes out of place, and the discomfort that comes with it is unbearable. Peppermint takes care of that! Use with extreme caution on children under the age of 6. 
 
LavenderI’ll be honest, I hate the smell of lavender. But it does amazing things to my body. It helps me get a restful sleep at night when I am feeling less than rested. I simply place it on the bottom of my feet. It’s also useful during homeschool days that are less than restful, if you get my drift. Lavender is great at soothing bug bites too!
CedarwoodCedarwood is widely used in spa settings. The smell is aromatic and calming, but the oil itself aids in healthy and bright skin. Cedarwood promotes hair growth (though, I’m trying to be less hairy now days). It also helps you focus, helps mouth irritations and pain, relieves muscle spasms, and more.
Eucalyptus Another helper in the respiratory department, Eucalyptus is a great oil that helps promote easy breathing. Diffuse this during the winter months when your nose is just not at it’s clearest, or add a few drops to a hot bath for soothing relief. Use with extreme caution on children under the age of 6.
Tea Tree (Melaleuca)  Melaleuca is a natural purifying agent, and therefore, we keep this on hand in abundance at all times. We use this in place of harsh alcohol or peroxide when cleaning wounds on ourselves or our animals. I have also treated bumblefoot in chickens by wrapping their foot with a brace coated in Melaleuca, Oregano, and a carrier oil. Melaleuca is great for the skin and scalp as well.
 
OnGuard While this is brand specific, the main oils in this blend are Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Bark/Leaf, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils. This builds immunity and keeps the yuckies away. It promotes natural antioxidant defenses and healthy blood circulation.
 
TerraShield  This is a must have on every homestead. Because, let’s face it, every single homestead has bugs. TerraShield is also brand specific, but the ingredients include Ylang Ylang Flower, Nootka Wood, Cedarwood Wood, and more. It is the perfect alternative to chemical filled bug spray! One application of this provides protection for up to 6 hours. You can also use this in limited amounts in your coops and around your animals to help ward off flies in the Summer time.
 
Clary Sage  Clary Sage is known for its ability to help improve eye sight and eye strain. It is a natural aphrodisiac, painkiller, it’s antiseptic, and helps regulate blood pressure. It helps during menstruation for women, causing a better flow and ease of pain. While Clary Sage is an extremely powerful and useful EO, it is not suggested that you use it frequently, and especially not on children or if pregnant. Please also use caution, as it is a hormone EO that promotes estrogen.
 
Frankincense  Frankincense is considered one of the “miracle” oils, mainly because it was used widely through out the Bible. It is the King of all oils. Frankincense supports healthy cellular function. We use it on boils or cysts that may pop up on my husbands skin. And we also use it for epidermis support in general, as it helps promote the regeneration of healthy cells.

Carrier Oils:

Either of the following Carrier Oils will work just fine. I’ve even used regular coconut oil when in a pinch. The reason I suggest fractionated CO is for blending purposes, so that it doesn’t solidify.

Herbal remedies were my very first passion when it came to holistic living. And honestly, they always will be. The romanticism of herbs and their uses is incredibly enticing and interesting. I love to educate myself when it comes to herbs in their rawest form. Therefore, these are the herbs or herbal remedies I keep on hand most days.

 

While herbs are my number one go-to, they take up a lot of room. This is why I keep a lot of EOs on hand (since they don’t take up as much room), and then the really important dried herbs on hand in 1 or 2 lb bags.

Herbs

Elderberry Syrup — When I first started making this at home, I was a skeptic. But when my child came down with his first cold of that season, and it was gone within 24 hrs of giving him this syrup, I was hooked FOR LIFE, ya’ll. I mean, seriously, this is a miracle worker in our family. This recipe includes organic elderberries, raw local honey, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. It is the easiest thing to make and it will last you an entire Winter (for smaller families). Elderberry Syrup helps prevent flu and colds when taken daily, and gives an amazing boost to the immune system. Read all about it in the link provided.
Fire Cider — This stuff is potent. Whew, lawdy. This stuff is potent. But it works. You remember the old timers taking shots of whiskey to get rid of a cold? Well, this is along the same concept, except it will put a fire in your belly, let me tell you. I use this recipe, and it works wonders. “Fire Cider is a traditional remedy with deep roots in folk medicine. The tasty combination of vinegar infused with powerful decongestant and spicy circulatory movers makes this recipe especially pleasant and easy to incorporate into your daily diet to help boost natural health processes, stimulate digestion, and get you nice and warmed up on cold days.” Source
Echinacea — Echinacea is something we grow right here on our homestead. We use it through out the year for our animals and for ourselves. Be advised, if you have a ragweed allergy, then stay far away from Echinacea. It could, in fact, make your symptoms worse. If you are not allergic to ragweed, then this can be used to help boost the immune system, treat infection, and cure illnesses. Other uses are in the treatment of boils, yeast infections, snake bites, diphtheria, low white blood cell count, strep throat, anxiety, migraines, indigestion, and so much more. We give this to our animals through out the year to keep them healthy and strong. Echinacea was the go to herb before antibiotics came along. That alone should tell you something! We also grow Black Eyed Susans, which are also part of the Echinacea family, and are even more effective than Echinacea.
OreganoAnother herb that we grow right here on our homestead. We add oregano to our animals feed, as it is a natural antibiotic. It helps prevent illness and infection in our animals. You can also place it in their water. Oregano also aides in respiratory health.
PeppermintI love my peppermint plants. Peppermint is anti-inflammatory, promotes the ease of fever, it is anti-septic, and anti-bacterial. It helps in the healing of (and easement of) respiratory issues, asthma, digestive tract diseases (such as IBS) and upset tummies (colic, indigestion), cracked and chapped skin, and so much more.
Red Raspberry LeavesThis herb is a very successful herb on our homestead. It promotes good reproductive health both for ourselves and our animals. It helps nursing mothers, has a high level of vitamin C which helps boost immunity, soothes sunburn and other skin conditions, and it even helps our animals during pregnancy, labor, and after delivery.
Garlic — Another item that can easily be grown on the homestead. Garlic is vital for cardiovascular health, is a natural blood thinner, reduces cholesterol, fights infection, and promotes good blood circulation. We use it to detoxify and remove heavy metals from our bodies. It is also good to use as a natural antibiotic, because it helps get rid of bacteria and other things that could be lurking on or in  your body. Put garlic into your chicken feed to boost their immune systems and help keep them healthy.
Turmeric — We keep turmeric capsules on hand at all times. We also keep just regular turmeric powder on hand to cook with, add to dog food, etc. Turmeric is incredibly awesome. It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, Anticoagulants/Antiplatelets (aspirin), has anti-cancer effects, helps lower blood sugar, treats IBS and other bowel issues, regulates cholesterol, and can be used as a steroid to help things like asthma, psoriasis, etc.
Colloidal Silver — To make a long story short, if nothing else, you need this in your life. It is new to us, but something we are quickly becoming attached to. To put it in an easy to understand term, colloidal silver attaches itself to sick cells and bacteria and blocks their ability to do harm to your body. It is antibiotic, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. It can prevent cold/flu, pneumonia, sinus issues, cure pink eye/ear infections. It is the miracle of all herbs/holistic drugs, in my humble opinion. And we are stocking up on it!
As you grow in herbalism and holistic living, you’ll find that certain herbs and EOs work better for your remedies cabinet. Take it slow and see which herbs and EOs you need to keep on hand by what things ail your family the most, or by which items you need to use most often for your animals.
If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, and joining my essential oil family, visit my EO page here. The best part is, not only do you receive access to discounts and supportive education, but you have direct access to me at all times for your holistic needs and growth.
** DISCLAIMER: Please know that there are risks with herbal remedies just as there are risks with modern medicine. PLEASE do your own research before using an herb or essential oil. Each and every person has different health issues, and herbs and EOs are not a “one size fits all” cure.
 
I am not a doctor or a medical professional. Please take these suggested uses at your own risk.
 
These claims have not been approved by the FDA.

 

 

5 {Quick} and Easy Changes You Can Make To Promote Healthy Living

 

Sometimes I get asked the same question over and over again — “How did you get started with a more natural lifestyle?” And honestly, we’re not completely there yet. I still have guilty pleasures like oreos, ramen noodles, and chocolate….just to name a few (stop judging). The road to trying to live healthier hasn’t been a bummer at all. In fact, I have really enjoyed it. It has caused me to do things I’ve never done before. It allows me to make home made things for my family, which I know they thoroughly enjoy. But most of all, it has caused me to realize that I can take control of my family’s health, and ultimately, for almost all (non-life threatening) mishaps or sickness, I can tend to my family without ever having to step foot into a doctors office.
While I am for holistic medicine, please understand that I completely realize there may come a time when we have to make a doctors visit or ER visit. Though, I hope it isn’t anytime soon.
None-the-less, it’s always the same look and questions, followed by the elephant in the room, “how do you afford it?”
Believe it or not, not everyone you know shells out an arm and a leg for a more natural lifestyle. We pay what we can and leave the rest for the following week or month. We do the things we can and we settle for that. Because in the long run, a few healthy changes are better than none!
Here are five quick and easy changes that you can make to promote healthy living in your home. Keep in mind that you might have some kick back and grumbling from others who might be living in your household, but eventually, they will come around…maybe!

1. Start cooking from scratch rather than eating frozen meals/at restaurants.
I was amazed by how much healthier we ate when I cooked a meal from scratch rather than a freezer container. Sometimes this meant breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other times, it just meant dinner. I grumbled and complained at first, but eventually I came to really enjoy what I made, especially when we quickly realized that it tasted so much better than the other stuff. Now that I cook more often, many times I’m disappointed with restaurant food, and I’ve noticed my husband is as well. There have been numerous times when he’ll say, “this is disappointing, you could make this better at home”. We’ve grown to realize what “fake” tastes like, and it’s amazing and disappointing all at once. There are certainly still our guilty pleasures which we know aren’t the healthiest decisions for us, but darn it, we like them!
People often think cooking from scratch is more expensive than buying frozen or eating out. In some cases, it can be. But when bought in bulk (flour, sugar, herd and meat shares) it is often less expensive. Most of our meat is venison, which we kill ourselves. The remainder of our meat either comes from our backyard or from herd shares with other homesteaders. With that said, I understand that raising your own meat might not be possible for you right now. However, going in halves with someone else on a cow, or buying a whole hog from another farmer will typically last a family of 3-4 for 5-6 months. If it’s a large cow, it will last much longer and will be much less expensive and healthier than buying meat from a store. Many times, even a specialty store or farm store can be much more expensive than buying meat directly from a farmer and having the animal processed yourself.
2. Start using essential oils (EO’s) and herbal remedies more often.
Start little. Don’t take it on all at once. Start with everyday nicks, bumps, and common ailments. And remember that you’ve spent a lifetime putting bad things into your body. Switching to all natural remedies and EO’s might not necessarily work miracles right away. Prevention, however, is key when going completely herbal. While EO’s and herbal remedies can heal just as well as antibiotics in some cases, their biggest miracle happens when you begin using them as prevention to illness and disease.
In any case, please do not douse yourself or your family members in EO’s everyday, it’s not healthy when using for prevention. I always tend to try herbal remedies before automatically going for the EO’s. EO’s are so potent and should be used sparingly unless actively treating an ailment.
We could talk for days about which EO brand to use, but ultimately, it’s whatever your budget can afford and what is the purest. I tend to stay away from large multi-level-marketing companies just because there is too much hype around them. I have, however, used many of them and loved them. I do prefer doTERRA oils.
3. Make your own toothpaste and deodorant.

I absolutely love my homemade toothpaste. I’ll admit, when I first tried it, it took a bit of getting used to. But now, I couldn’t imagine using regular toothpaste. In fact, I’ve tried, and my gums literally burned for about 3 hours after using it. That, my friends, is not healthy at all. The base for my homemade toothpaste is coconut oil, which has many benefits within itself. Coconut oil is believed to pull toxins from your teeth, gums and mouth in general. It also naturally cleanses bad bacteria in your mouth. Read more about my experience and recipe here.

Did you know that most deodorants (for both men and women) contain harmful chemicals and aluminum? Many of them have been proven to promote memory loss, Alzheimer’s. and cancer. If you know anything about simple science, then you know that these claims can be very much true. And I can attest to the theory of “clogged pores that hold toxins”. One of the biggest issues I have had when using regular deodorant is that I have this awful brown skin under my arms. One of the major deodorant companies even made a new deodorant that was supposed to “get rid” of the brown skin that supposedly comes from shaving your arm pits. It worked, or did it? It certainly lightened my skin, but the brown never completely went away.

Fast forwarding to my very own homemade deodorant. The first three days of using it were horrendous because my body was literally ridding itself of the toxins that had been trapped beneath the layers of gunk that had built up in my pours. And guess what. After stopping the use of commercial deodorant, I no longer had brown marks under my arms. Amazing! I would eventually come to find that your arm pits shouldn’t naturally “stink”, and that the smell comes from toxins in your body. I started to take notice, and it was absolutely true. When I ate real, healthy home cooked meals, my underarms never stank (without deodorant). Whenever I ate something overly processed, or drank soda, I literally couldn’t stand myself.
Since I am home all day (I work from home) I actually don’t really ever use any kind of deodorant, and I don’t stink…imagine that! However, when we go out, I tend to put a very thin layer of non-aluminum based all natural or homemade deodorant. You can read more about my homemade deodorant and how to use it here.
4. Add Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to your diet.
Awhile back I read a book titled Folk Medicine, by Dr. D.C. Jarvis, M.D. (click on link for my book review) I literally sat there with my mouth open most nights while reading it. I had often heard that Organic ACV (with the ‘mother’) was a healthy way to keep your body processing properly. But I never realized all of the other benefits and success stories. Many people I know take a small shot glass of ACV each day. A friend of mine recently started taking it when he found out he had an issue with his colon. He told the doctor to hold off for a few weeks before proceeding with anything, and he began drinking ACV each day (just a small cupful). When he returned back for his checkup and treatment options, the Dr was astounded to find that my friend was completely healed and there was absolutely nothing wrong with his colon. Incredible, huh? This isn’t just a “story”, this is truly a success story from a dear friend!
5. Rest more often.
Did she really just say that? Did she really just tell me to sleep? Yes, indeed, I did! Of course, don’t be lazy. In the same respect, get on your feet and do something during the day and throughout the entire day. But keep in mind, our bodies were created to rise and sleep with the sun. Imagine a world without clocks, as our ancestors didn’t have them. They rose early in the morning, as the dawn slowly came to meet the horizon. They worked during the day, and yes, sometimes they even took naps around lunch time. They continued working until the sun started setting. Then they came home, ate dinner, and guess what happened next…..they rested. It doesn’t mean they went to bed right away, but they did rest, and yes, many times they went to bed.
Now, I cannot imagine going to bed at 6 pm in the Winter time. But I will say that when I force myself to go to bed at 8:30 pm rather than 10 pm, I am much more rested in the morning when I awake. And when I wake up at 6 am instead of 7 am, I’m much more prone to fall asleep quicker in the evenings, and am much less restless. Our bodies are the closest thing we own to all natural nature. Most of the time, it knows what it’s doing. If you’re tired, rest. If you’re not tired, don’t rest. Some of us need more sleep than others, some of us need less. But in the end, your body will literally start flying on auto-pilot if you don’t start resting the proper amount of time that you should. In which case, you begin to open yourself up to colds, viruses, and bacteria, because your body is much too tired to fight them off.
All in all, making just a few simple and easy changes in your life can (and most likely will) eventually lead up to bigger changes in your lifestyle. The things listed above are simple everyday things that you do. They are not expensive and take little to no time to change. Your biggest change will be cooking from scratch more often, if you don’t already. But while it may take a bit more time, you will thank yourself, a hundred times over, in the long run!

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