herbs

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.

Using Astragalus to Boost Your Chicken’s Immune System

When you first begin your homesteading adventure, you typically begin with the gateway animal—chickens. Chickens are some of the most entertaining of livestock that you can have. They offer eggs each day (or almost each day), a cute egg song, and a beautiful scene across your landscape when, and if, they free range. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as chickens in their free ranging element.
But what happens when you start realizing that chickens can also be the most complex animal on the homestead, especially when it comes to their health?

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Elderberry + Astragalus Herbal Syrup for Colds and Immunity

We read blog after blog claiming things like elderberry syrup, fire cider, and some type of tonic all help to reduce cold and flu symptoms. My favorite misconception is that echinacea is a preventative to catching the common cold and flu. while in reality, clinical studies have been shown that echinacea does not, at all, prevent anything. However, it is a great herb once you get sick, and helps lessen the symptoms and length of the cold or flu. Just make sure you don’t take it if you have a ragweed allergy, because you’ll make yourself ten times worse.

So what happens when you spend hundreds of dollars in all of these herbs and then, they don’t work? Well, I’ll tell you what—your husband looks at you and bans you from ordering herbs off the internet for the next 6 months.

I kid…kind of.

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8 Common Chicken Illnesses & How to Treat Them

 

It happens to everyone at some point or another. You go and start your flock with a few chickens—everything in life is happy and grand. And then one day, you walk outside to a dead bird, a sick bird, or a “what the heck is wrong with it” bird. That’s when the death emotion sinks in and you think you’re a failure at chicken keeping.

The reality is that sick or hurt chickens can happen to just about anyone. Of course, there are certainly things you can do to prevent illness and mishaps. Today we’ll talk about some of the common chicken illnesses and hurts, and also, how to treat them effectively.

 

First thing’s first—you need to understand that chickens are prey animals. Meaning, they can be sick and hurt long before ever showing symptoms of being so. This is why monthly (and even weekly) animal checks are important. Look over each and every chicken as often as possible for you on your homestead. For us, at one point, we had a lot of chickens. It wasn’t possible to check them all over in one week. So we did monthly checks.
Next, you’ll need to figure out how you want to treat animals on your homestead—chemically or holistically? Or both, when it comes right down to it.
We are not strictly “holistic” here. If holistic methods don’t work, I certainly go for the chemical method, or cull. However, all of the methods in today’s blog are about holistic treatment. I always try hard to use my herbs and essential oils first.
We are a working homestead. Therefore, sometimes it’s better to cut our losses than throw $50+ into a $10-$25 chicken. It just doesn’t add up for us to do that. We certainly keep things on hand if something goes wrong, but for a single incident? Absolutely not. Culling is our choice when all else fails within reason.
Prevention Is Key

If you take nothing else away from this blog, please take away this. Prevention on your homestead is essential. The bulk of things that go wrong with your chickens could have been prevented or at least counteracted.

So, how do you prevent illnesses in your chickens?
 
 
Give Them A Healthy Diet
Make sure they have all the nutrients they need. Skip the GMO feed if you can. Organic is certainly best, but not possible for some incomes.
Add Supplements to Their Feed
This is a really ideal way to help prevent disease and illness in your flock. I highly suggest adding things such as dried/powdered garlic, Diatomaceous Earth (DE), Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS), Oregano, and Turmeric into their feed and diet as much as possible. Oregano is a natural antibiotic. Garlic aids in immune health and is antibacterial. DE is a natural wormer. BOSS adds extra protein to your chickens diet, and also aids in digestion. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and also aids in aches and pains, purifies blood, aids respiratory health, and strengthens the immune system. I would say out of everything, garlic, turmeric, and oregano are my top picks to put into their feed on a regular basis.
Add Apple Cider Vinegar to their Water
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) helps alkalize the body in any living being. It’s also great for gut and crop health in chickens because it’s filled with wonderful probiotics and has anti-fungal properties. I do not suggest adding ACV to water during the hot months, as it can actually cause them to over heat more in the summer time.
Fresh Herbs and Snacks

Growing your own chicken garden isn’t always the easiest, but when you can set aside time to dry herbs (or order them online), and add it into their feed, you’ll see your chickens health improve dramatically. Herbs and snacks such as garlic, oregano, thyme, marigolds, dandelions, violets, chickweed, red raspberry leaf, elderberry (dried), and autumn olive berry are great, wild grown options for your flock. Some of these things you can find right in your own backyard. Others you can forage for. And still, others, you can grow yourself or order large bags of online here.
Pumpkin seeds and DE in their feed are also great options, and help prevent worms in your chickens digestive tract.

Keep Essential Oils On Hand
Essential oils are a very quick alternative to harsh chemicals. We’ve healed many a chicken strictly with Oregano and Melaleuca! You can find out more about EOs HERE.

Make Sure Their Forage Area and Coop is Safe
Ultimately, some things happen because of unsafe living areas. Whether it’s a predator attack, or a hen getting her leg caught in some contraption—do a check on your barn, coop, and foraging areas often. Rid these areas of any potential safety hazards for your flock and yourself.
Illnesses and Treatment

Now that we have the prevention part of this equation down, lets get right down to the nitty gritty. You’re probably reading this blog because you need help right here and now. You now know how to help prevent illness, but that doesn’t help you right in this moment if your chicken is ill or in pain. Here are some common ailments and the the treatments for them.

Lice and Mites —

We had our first run in with lice about 6 months into our chicken journey when we bought lice infested chickens from someone we thought we knew well, but in fact, were stuck with sick chickens. I made the mistake of treating them chemically, and almost ended up in the hospital myself. After their first treatment, I learned of a much better way to continue treating them (as they need to be treated for an entire month).

Lice and mites transmit from other birds. However, if left long enough, can become an epidemic and kill your chickens by feeding on their blood supply. It takes awhile to get to that point, which is how we knew the chickens had lice before they arrived here (and none of my other flock had them, but had to be treated still). Should you find yourself with an anemic chicken, raw red meat in his/her diet is essential to get their iron levels back up.

The safest and best treatment: Dusting your chickens (very carefully) with wood ash and/or DE will rid them of any parasites that are currently on them. You’ll need to make sure you are dusting them right down to the skin, where these parasites live. You can add DE and wood ash to a special dust bathing area for the remainder of the month, so that they can dust themselves after the first initial  dusting. Or you can continue dusting them individually once a week. In fact, you should do this as a preventative at all times (the regular dust bath). Treating for one month ensures that you catch all of the eggs that have hatched since the first initial treatment. You’ll also need to clean out the entire coop and dust with DE.

Scaly Leg Mites —

Scaly leg mites are very similar in transmittal as lice and mites for chickens. However, I have read some pretty crazy “treatments” online for it. Someone even suggested you douse the legs in gasoline or kerosene. Please, do not do that.

The safest and best treatment: Soak your chickens legs in a warm water bath with dish liquid. Scrub their legs with a toothbrush to help loosen any dying scales. Dry and slather both legs and feet with a thick oil such as coconut oil, neem oil, or olive oil. This will help smoother the mites and allow for quicker growth of new scales. Add this oil to the legs of the chickens for at least 4 weeks, once or twice a week. Offering the same DE and wood ash dust bath to your chickens is also essential. You’ll also need to clean out the entire coop, dust with DE (without the chickens inside the coop) and make sure you’ve gotten all of the old bedding out. Don’t forget to dust the roosts as well!

Coccidiosis —

Cocci can be a vicious parasite in your flock’s digestive tract. While it mostly attacks younger digestive tracts, such as with chicks, it can also attack your adult flock as well, causing diarrhea, unusual feces, blood in feces, and even death if left long enough.

The safest and best treatment: Kocci free is a very effective treatment. We use many of the Vibactra plus products on our homestead. They are an incredible source for herbal remedies. In fact, you can use Kocci free as a preventative as well once a month. Simply add it to their water.


Respiratory Irritation —

Many new chicken owners freak out when they notice their chickens sneezing or wheezing. But it’s not always the “worst”. No, chickens do not get “colds”, however, their respiratory tracts are extremely sensitive. A little more dust than normal in the coop can cause sneezing and wheezing.

The safest and best treatment: Clean the coop out and lay down a less dusty bedding, especially in the summer months. We prefer cardboard bedding in the summer months. Make sure you air out your coop before putting in new bedding, and make sure your coop has good ventilation so that dust can escape easily. Many times, respiratory issues arise because of dust, too much ammonia in the coop, or pollen.

Mycoplasma Gallisepticum and Mycoplasma Synoviae Infection (MG/MS)  —

Mycoplasma is a completely different issue that we really need to talk about in the chicken world. We experienced what I believe was a case of MG here the very first month we started with chickens. The chicken, thank goodness, was on our property for less than 48 hours and was quarantined (and immediately culled), but it was scary, to say the least.

Number one — ALWAYS QUARANTINE NEW CHICKENS. We learned our lesson and are thankful we did.

MG and MS are respiratory bacteria that can seriously sicken and kill your entire flock. It is extremely contagious, and can even be spread by clothing and shoes. Many chicken experts will tell you that MG and MS are not curable, but I  have to respectfully disagree. If preventatives are used, and if caught in time at the first symptoms, I absolutely believe that MG and MS can be cured. It is, after all, simply a bacteria. 

Symptoms of MG/MS: Wheezing, gasping for air, puffy face and swollen eyes, sneezing, sinus drainage, swollen joints, lethargy.

The safest and best treatment: You’ll need to be aggressive with this one. Oregano (antibiotic) in their feed and water at all times during treatment until symptoms have completely passed for ALL chickens. Add turmeric (immune support and anti-inflammatory) and garlic (antibacterial) to their feed as well. Separate any infected birds as much as possible, but treat ALL birds the same. Chickens can have MG/MS and not show symptoms until stressed or weak, which is what happened to us when we brought in a new chicken. Within 24 hours, she was literally on her death bed when she was fine the day we bought her.

Your chickens will need to be treated until ALL symptoms are gone. You should also not visit other farms unless you plan to change your clothing when you get there. And do NOT sell chickens or hatching eggs from your property for at least 4 weeks after symptoms are gone.

Infectious Coryza —

I don’t have any experience with IC, but I’ve read enough, and experienced enough through others, to know that IC is extremely detrimental to any flock. Once contracted, it is extremely hard to get rid of. And can live in your soil for awhile. The fatality rate is extremely high and depressing even with treatment. I have no advice to offer you on IC except that you can treat the same way you would treat MG/MS, however, if it spreads to your entire flock viciously, you may very well consider culling and starting all over again after a 4 week waiting period.

Sour Crop —

Sour Crop is probably one of the most common issues on a homestead when it comes to chickens. At least, it seems to be. We’ve actually never had the issue here, but have had friends with sour crop. Sour crop happens when chickens ingest something that is too big for them to pass through the crop. It can also be fungal, as things can begin to ferment in the crop and cause more issues if not passed properly.

The safest and best treatment: Giving your chicken ACV and olive oil in the crop will help tremendously. ACV has anti-fungal properties, and therefore can help tone down that yeastiness in the crop. You can add oil to your chickens crop and massage her crop, holding her upside down, to help expel anything that may be lodged or compacted.

Bumble Foot —

Bumble foot is another very common issue on the homestead. This happens when your chicken has stepped on something, such as a thorn or has gotten a cut on their foot. The thorn or cut then becomes infected, causing a sore type lesion to pop up on the botton of their foot or in between toes. It can affect their walking, and if left long enough, the infection can spread to their entire body.

The safest and best treatment: You can pick the scab off of the bottom of the foot and expel any infection that way, and also release the core of the issue (if it’s something lodged inside the foot). Or you can wrap the foot with a bandage soaked in tea tree and oregano essential oils. This has proven to be extremely successful for us, as the tea tree oil is antiseptic, and the oregano oil is a natural fighter of infection. You’ll need to do this, daily (direct skin contact with a swab soak in the oil under the bandage) for at least a week or until symptoms begin to subside. This also allows your chicken to walk better with the bandage and extra padding so that it can heal quicker.

When all else fails, you may choose to take a chemical route. However, we have not had to do that in over two years with preventative methods and herbal treatments. Go with your gut, because most of the time it never steers you wrong. And remember that if you lose a chicken, you’re not a bad chicken keeper or homesteader. Sometimes, these things just happen and they are out of our control. But remember, prevention is key!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Naturally Treating Chicken Lice

I can still remember that feeling — that punch in the gut that doesn’t go away. I was still fairly new to the wonderful world of chickens, and everything had gone so smoothly up until this point. I had amazing mentors, friends and bloggers helping me along the way. And then this happened….
my chickens got lice.
 
No, no way was this happening to me. All of my chickens had been extremely healthy and parasite free up until this point. And now, all of a sudden, one of the hens started acting lethargic. She had only been here for 3 weeks, if that. I quickly checked her over to notice that she was literally infested with lice. This poor girl had been this way quite a long time, and I brought her into our flock this way because I was naive and figured I didn’t need to check them over since they came from a trusted breeder whom I had bought from before. But unfortunately, even the best of breeders can have issues when they are used to having a normally healthy and happy flock. We get comfortable in not doing our weekly check-ups, and then, something like this happens and can affect so many others.

Moral of my story — always, always check over the chickens you buy….even if they are from people you know personally.
 
I reached out to several fellow chicken keepers on how to treat this girl and eventually my entire flock. In just 3 short weeks, the lice had spread to over half of our flock, though, it was minimal for my original flock. The other hens she came with were much worse off than my flock.
I received suggestions such as dusting in Sevin dust, poultry dust, Eprinex pour on, bathing in dawn dish liquid, dusting in DE and treating with poultry spray. Sadly, this one hen was already anemic and on her last leg, and I simply wanted something that worked quickly. So, I chose the Sevin dust and dusted all of our chickens with them….all 50 of them….
….and I was sick.as.a.dog. afterwards.
 
Please, learn from my mistake, and never ever use Sevin dust to treat lice or anything else on your property…not even in your garden. It is an extremely harmful chemical, not only for yourself and your animals, but it kills bees and beneficial bugs on your property. And, let’s face it, if you use it in your garden, you are certainly NOT gardening organically. I also refuse to use “poultry dust”, as it is equally as toxic and harmful.
I broke out in hives, had a fever, coughed uncontrollably (I even had a mask on). I was a wreck, and I can only imagine what it did to my chickens.

Thankfully, it immediately killed the lice, however, I retreated with DE a week later (because more lice had hatched) and DE did the job just fine with zero chemicals and absolutely no reaction. I completely understand there is a DE debate on whether it is safe or not, but when used wisely, it works wonders, and my own body thanked me afterwards as well.

Lice eggs — Photo via poultrykeeper.com
Unfortunately, in the end, I also ended up using another pour-on chemical to treat all of our chickens topically. However, along the way, I found that all natural remedies would have worked (on their own!!!!) just as well.
Here is the schedule and the products you should use to treat chicken lice {completely all natural}.

1. Examine all chickens. Lice will be visible on the skin of the belly and around the vent. They will be nasty and crawling quickly, so look thoroughly. Assume that all of your flock could potentially have lice or lice eggs on them. Lice eggs will be seen (pictured above) at the base and on the shaft of the feather. Separate chickens that look anemic or lethargic from the rest of the flock. For chickens that visibly have lice on them, dust (to the skin) cautiously with food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE). Wood ash is a more natural option if you are against DE. However, DE works just fine on our homestead and we have absolutely zero issues using it.

2. Create a large bathing area for your chickens if you do not already have one. Fill it with fresh wood ash. Wood ash is a completely all natural way to rid chickens of lice and mites. In fact, you can even rub your chickens down (to the skin) with wood ash and a little dusty dirt rather than using DE. It will naturally kill mites and lice. Make sure there is plenty of wood ash in the dust bathing area for the next 4 weeks.

3. Thoroughly clean out coop and give a good layer of DE to the entire coop, including roosts and nesting boxes. Do not put bedding down for 1 hour. Do not allow your chickens back into the coop for 2 hours so that the dust settles. Lock them in their run or allow them to free range without coop access for 2 hours, total.

4. Lice eggs hatch every 7 to 10 days. So, you will need to inspect them again in exactly one week after the first treatment, and until the eggs hatch and complete their cycle (we suggest treating for 4 weeks). The wood ash dust bath, in and of itself, should kill all of the newly hatched lice from your regular flock. However, if you actually see lice (not just eggs) on your chickens in one weeks time, reapply DE or wood ash directly on the chicken down to the skin once more. The same with week #3. By week #4, there should be zero lice (in most cases, there’s no lice after week #2). Continue to make sure there is plenty of wood ash in their dust bathing area, or bathe them in the wood ash instead of the DE.
 
5. For your more delicate chickens who may have become anemic, you’ll need to pamper them a bit more. You will need to put the wood ash or DE directly on their skin and give them a nice rubdown for the next couple of weeks since they will be too weak to bathe themselves. You will also need to get their iron levels back up. This will require giving them plenty of raw red meat (which they will love) and other iron rich snacks and meals. After the 4 week healing period, they will most likely be ready to go back in with the rest of the flock. However, if you have roosters, you will need to make sure your ladies are strong enough to support being mated. If not, wait until they are strong enough before putting them back in with the flock.
If you prefer a more gentle way than rubbing your chickens down with DE or wood ash, a nice warm bath with dawn dish liquid will work just fine. But you’ll need to make sure it’s done on a warm day or that they are blown dry so that they do not get cold. Also, I just can’t imagine giving anymore than 4 chickens a bath!

I hope that my horrible experience can help many of you. I doubt we will ever have to deal with this again, as we are completely on top of things now and will give any new hens brought in a thorough run down. However, sometimes life just throws you lemons — and it is better to be prepared now than when you actually need the reference!

As always, the key is prevention — weekly check overs, quarantining new chickens, a clean coop and living area, and good diets are important!

On our homestead, we strive to treat as naturally as possible. Certainly, there are some dire instances when less natural remedies must be used. However, thankfully, we have not had to use anything other than all natural treatments for quite some time now.

With that said, if you find that this natural remedy is just too much, or your chickens aren’t progressing, the chemical fix is simple and can be used as a last resort. Don’t beat yourself up about it!! Use 2-3 drops of Eprinex or Ivermectin on the skin of the back of the chickens neck. Just keep in mind there is a withdrawal period of 2 weeks after treating, and you’ll probably have to treat once a week for 2-4 weeks.

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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