Honey Benefits

Honey has been touted as a highly regarded medicinal cure for thousands of years. It can be used in cooking, beauty treatments, and as a healer. Having this on hand is a smart idea, given the number of things you can use it for.

It takes 60,000 bees visiting over a million flowers to produce one pound of honey. There are over forty different varieties. Examples are: wildflower, blueberry, buckwheat, clover, and manuka. It is important to buy it raw and pure. Raw honey contains all of the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The darker the honey, the more antioxidants it has. It is unsafe to feed infants honey, as it can sometimes contain bacteria that would be harmful for them. So, please do not give infants honey.

Seven benefits of honey

1. It is a good cough medicine. The World Health Organization recognizes it as a helpful medicine to alleviate coughs. 

Honey Onion Garlic Cough Medicine

1/2 cup of honey

1/2 cup of water

One chopped onion

One clove of garlic (chopped)

Mix ingredients together in a jar and add in sage, thyme, or oregano. Let it sit at room temperature overnight. Strain the mixture the next day and store the liquid in a covered jar in the fridge. Take as needed. All of these ingredients are antimicrobial and will aid in healing. 

2. Treats wounds. Honey is antibacterial, antifungal, and contains antioxidants. In particular, manuka honey has been known to treat staph and strep infections. Apply a little to wounds and watch them heal quickly.

3. Itchy dry skin and hair. For a wonderful lotion, combine one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of olive oil. Apply this to the skin for 20 minutes, then wipe off.

Conditioner Recipe

1 1/2 teaspoon of honey 

5 cups of water

Mix together. After shampooing add this honey conditioner and let sit on the hair for an hour. Then, rinse clean. 

4. Quick energy boost. Honey isn’t simply a sugar, it regulates blood sugar because it has an exact combination of fructose and glucose. Need a quick pick me up? Try a teaspoon of honey.

5. Reduces allergy symptoms. Consume one teaspoon of local honey each day two months prior to allergy season. The logic is that you are slowly desensitizing yourself to the pollen that provokes the allergies. Make sure the honey is local to your area.

6. Ayurvedic medicine states that honey balances the five elements. It has been shown to improve eyesight, aid in weight loss, cure urinary tract infections, heal bronchial asthma, and cure nausea. 

7. Probiotic benefits. Some types of honey contain large numbers of friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. These are very healing for the gut.  

Honey is so very versatile. It’s benefits are many. Have it on hand at your house, and make sure it’s a local and of the raw variety.

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Holistic Moms Network 

Raising your children to honor their mind, body, and spirit can be challenging. Honoring your intuition and going with your guy may go against the “norms” of society. Mothers (and caregivers) interested in pursuing a whole and balanced life for their children meet all across the USA at local Holistic Moms Network chapters. 

The Holistic Moms Network (HMN) was founded in the spring of 2002 when Nancy Peplinsky hosted a local group in New Jersey. The name reflected the groups’s intention and HMN was incorporated in October of 2003 and received non profit status in June of 2004. The purpose of HMN is to generate consciousness of parenting holistically. The group energy is to encourage moms in their effort to parent naturally, alternatively, mindfully, and naturally.

The HMN charter declares the organization is “dedicated to facilitating grassroots community building throughout the nation, offering moms the opportunity to create local chapters where they can find the support, friendship, and knowledge that are so necessary for successful parenting.”

The values of HMN are listed on their website (www.holisticmoms.org):

-Helping parents to make informed decisions regarding their health, the health of their families, and parenting choices.
-They defend the right of parents to make choices that best serve families and their well-being.
-They believe every individual is responsible for their own health and has the right to make informed decisions.
-They encourage everyone to educate themselves on the pros and cons of all parenting and healthcare choices.
-They encourage parents to trust their instincts, to parent from the heart, and to use their innate sense of what is best for their children.
-They welcome all members in an environment that does not judge or criticize. 

In Pittsford, NY the chapter has been going strong since April of 2005. It was founded by local mom, Carol Chittenden. Carol was interested in using natural approaches to treat her children since the birth of her first daughter. She uses homeopathy and chiropractic healing methods and is also interested in the issue of vaccination and alternative schooling for her daughters. When she saw an ad for HMN in the Mothering magazine, she knew she found a home.

At the first meeting, women shared their life stories and what brought them on the “holistic” path. As each woman spoke about their life, “holistic” living emerged as a central theme. Some are vegetarians, some vegan, and others are omnivores. The group self surveyed, “who eats organic foods”?

A grandmother in the group, interested in environmental issues effecting health and wellness, has started a consulting company which aids clients in locating environmentally safe and friendly products. Another woman gave her insight on home schooling her children. A woman’s role as a doula assisting as a labor coach during childbirth was discussed as some of the mothers breastfed their infants. 

A hot topic was vaccinations. Some mothers vaccinate, some do not, and some do on a modified schedule. There has been a misconception in the local media that HMN does not support vaccination. That could not be further from the truth. HMN supports the right to an informed decision regarding all health care. The goal of HMN is to provide a supportive environment so both sides can be discussed. 

To find a chapter in your area, simply go to their website: http://www.holisticmoms.org and click on the map. If there is not a chapter in your area, HMN has a support system to get new chapters formed.

Happy In Nature

The way our society is organized, we have gotten away from being in nature. Getting outside benefits our immune system, our happiness, and our overall well being. No matter where you live, getting into nature should be a daily occurrence. 

Being in nature can be considered a form of medicine. Those practicing Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine consider it a treatment for many ailments. Some refer to it as “nature therapy”. The Japanese call it “shinrin-yoku” which means basking in the forest or forest bathing. Roger Ulrich, a leading researcher on the subject of healing gardens states, “We have a kind of biologically prepared disposition to respond favorably to nature because we evolved in nature. Nature was good to us, and we tend to respond positively to environments that were favorable to us.” Ulrich has produced many scientific studies that have shown the benefits, although many of us know instinctively that being in nature can be healing. Many hospitals around the country have created healing gardens for their patients. Healing gardens and being in nature have been shown to: 

1.  Reduce stress and anxiety by promoting serenity and wellbeing. Spending time in nature allows one to be in the moment. The power of being in the moment can cause a person to slow down and breathe in the freshness of nature. Among the benefits are lowered blood pressure and cortisol levels. 

2. Being in nature promotes physical activity. Generally, taking nature walks or hikes on trails, suburban sidewalks, or even on the beach, causes one to get the body moving. Taking extra steps each day has been shown to be beneficial to one’s health.

There are actions you can take on a daily basis to make sure you are getting in enough nature. Obviously, getting outside on hikes and walks can benefit one tremendously. Enjoying a view of nature from your window can also be beneficial if you are housebound or the weather is too extreme. Also, having plants in your house can give you benefits. Placing a few plants in each room can greatly increase the positive energy. 

Ideally having green space or a place to hike near your home has its advantages. It makes it more likely you will get out to enjoy nature on a daily basis. You could also do a google search by typing in local parks, trails, and green spaces. In addition, The National Park Service maintains a National Trail System at http://www.nps.gov/nts/. Also, the American Hiking Society can be found at: http://www.americanhiking.org/. To walk a healing labyrinth, go to: http://labyrinthlocator.com/. 

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from spending some time in nature, viewing nature, or bringing nature indoors. Doing so reduces stress and anxiety and offers some great physical benefits. Find an area in your town and make it a daily habit to get outside.

Healthy Halloween

Halloween is sometimes synonymous with sugar, unhealthy treats, then the inevitable sicknesses. You can still have fun and eat yummy snacks, it just might take more planning. Whether you are planning what treats to give your trick-or-treaters or planning a party, follow some of these tips.
Healthy Party Ideas

You don’t need to forgo treats all together, make a pumpkin bread or have some donuts on hand. To balance these sweets out, have some healthy options as well. Here are some ideas:

1. Make pizza fingers. Using whole wheat or gluten free dough, make a homemade pizza crust. Top with some organic sauce and cheese and cook. Slice the pizza into the shape of fingers and place a bit of red pepper at the end of the finger to make it look like a bloody finger.

2. Veggies with hummus. Scoop out the insides of a pumpkin. Fill with your favorite hummus. Offer it alongside some sliced up veggies such as carrots, peppers, and celery.

3. Clementine pumpkins. Peel clementines but don’t separate them, keep them in a pumpkin shape. Take a slice of green pepper and insert at the top to make it look like a pumpkin stem. 

4. Banana ghosts. Peel a whole banana. This will be the ghost’s body. Insert some chocolate chips as the eyes and mouth.

5. Cracker spiders. Take two whole wheat crackers and spread cream cheese in the middle. This will be the spider’s body. Take pretzel pieces as the spider’s legs and press them into the cream cheese. Sandwich the two pieces together. 

Healthy Trick-or-Treat

There are alternatives to giving out candy loaded added with chemicals and dyes. Having these alternatives on hand will be fun for your trick-or-treaters and you will feel good about giving them. Fill a bowl with a mix of these items and see what your trick-or-treaters choose. 

1. Whole wheat pretzels. Oftentimes, Whole Foods or your natural grocer has Halloween pretzel pouches. 

2. Fair Trade Chocolate. Treat sized fair trade chocolate is available through many realtors. 

3. Honey sticks. Honey sticks come in wonderful flavors and will satisfy your sweet tooth.

4. Organic bunny snacks. Annie’s makes chewy fruity bunny snacks that taste like gummy bears.

5. Popcorn pouches. There are several companies that make organic popcorn good bags. 

6. Don’t forget about the non-candy/food items. Stickers, henna tattoos, and trading cards are some other ideas that might excite children.

7. Organic juice pouches. The Honest company produces organic juice boxes that come in many flavors.

Halloween can be a fun and exciting time and it need not be unhealthy. Think of your favorite treats from this fall holiday and step it up a notch by making it healthy. You will feel good about your choices and you will be educating others at the same time as well. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used for centuries for healing, for rituals, and as perfume. These oils are extracted from the plant. Care should be taken when using essential oils. Many oils should not be used by pregnant women or by children under the age of six. Unless you are cleaning with the oils, always use a carrier oil. Good carriers oils are sweet almond, olive, apricot, and coconut oil. Pour a bit of carrier oil in your hand and then a few drops of the essential oil you will use. 

Lavender: This oil is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and can be used as an anti-depressant. Lavender tea is a lovely tree to drink year round for its calming effect. Dried lavender in sachets can be placed in drawers to freshen things up. Lavender can be used as a headache reliever. Apply a few drops to a carrier oil and rub on your temples.

Frankincense: This is anti-inflammatory, it helps with Crohn’s disease and arthritis. Add this oil to lotion, it is good for acne and heals skin afflictions (burns, rashes, cuts, scrapes). Add a few drops to coconut oil and rub on feet to increase immunity. Combats anxiety and insomnia, add to your aromatherapy diffuser. 

Peppermint: This oil is helpful for bad breath, tummy troubles, headaches, it eases depression and fatigue. It is a fever reducer and soothes bug bites. Place oil on some cotton balls and place strategically around the house as it deters rodents. As with all oils, be careful around small children. This oil in particular should not be given to small children.

Oregano: This oil is great for immune support, it highly concentrated so always use a carrier oil. When sick, it reduces congestion. Also, it is good disinfectant. 

Tea tree: This oil is anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal and enhances the immune system. It is common to use for skin problems such as acne. 

Chamomile: This oil is anti-spasmodic, so it is good for menstrual cramps. This oil also fights blemishes and skin inflammation. It is a sedative oil and helps you relax.

Eucalyptus: This oil is a decongestant and expectorant. It clears nasal passages and soothes allergies.

Lemon: This oil is great for cleaning products. Add a few drops to your laundry detergent to freshen your clothing. Adding 40 drops of lemon oil and 20 drops of tea tree oil to 16 ounces of water and splash of vinegar and use that spray to disinfect your countertops. 

Having these oils on hand are great for everyday use. Whether you use them in your daily regime, to heal, or simply to clean, they are so versatile. There are many handy how-to essential oil books to have on hand, so you are sure to be using them carefully.

Natural Easter

Walk into any department store and you become inundated with bright plastic eggs and chemically laden candy treats. You don’t have to forgo the fun, celebrating Easter in an eco-friendly fashion is easy.

Dyeing Easter Eggs

Bring your hard boiled eggs to room temperature before dyeing them. Generally white eggs generate a more vibrant color, but you certainly can dye brown eggs. Various things from nature can be used to create dye for your eggs. Use the following:
Orange: one cup of yellow onion peel to one cup of water
Blue: one cup of purple cabbage to one cup of water
Purple: one cup of red onion peels to one cup of water
Pink: one cup of shredded beets to one cup of water
Yellow: two tablespoons of yellow turmeric to one cup of water
Add your dye matter to water and bring to a boil, then turn it down to simmer for 15-20 minutes. When the dye is as dark as you would like, take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Strain the dye. Add one tablespoon of vinegar to the cool liquid. Submerge the eggs and place them in the fridge until the color is set the way you’d like it. Remove the eggs from the liquid and eat the eggs as soon as you’d like.

Decorating Naturally

Forgo the plastic and use natural elements. Wicker baskets full of moss or wheat grass give a very spring-like ambiance. Add pastel colored wooden Easter eggs to the basket. Grapevine wreaths with pastel colored ribbons or glued on wooden Easter eggs are simple yet natural. And, simple vases with daffodils or tulips really liven up a room. 

Easter Baskets

Are you trying to get rid of the commercially packaged Easter baskets? Create your own with a wicker basket, fair trade chocolates, candy without the food dyes (found at natural food stores), and some simple adornments such as a book, simple game, or outdoor toys (bubbles, chalk, or balls). 

Easter Brunch

Keep it simple and natural with a vegetarian brunch on Easter morning. Serve gluten free waffles, crepes, pancakes, or French toast with mixed berries and nuts and a local maple syrup. Add to that some omelets made with free range eggs and local cheese. Quiche made with local eggs, veggies, and cheeses is another great idea. Serve smoothies rich with nut milk, berries, and bananas. After brunch, take a walk at your local park! 

Every holiday can be made more simple and natural. Consider using resources that are recycled or from nature. Not only is it environmentally friendly to create a natural Easter, it is beautiful, too.

Earth Day Celebration Ideas

Earth Day is celebrated each year in April, but the choices we make should benefit the planet each and every day. You are probably already doing a huge part in creating a greener earth, but it is great to learn new and different ways to live a little lighter on the planet. 

Water usage. Curbing water usage is one thing you can continue to work on each daily. Make a conscious effort to use less water each day, make it your challenge. Take shorter showers by turning off the water while you soap up. A four minute shower uses roughly 25-40 gallons of water. When you brush your teeth, only use the water while rinsing. Run only full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher. Wash your dark clothes in cold water, it will make them last longer. If you wash dishes by hand, do not leave the water on to rinse. If you have a garbage disposal, consider composting instead. Garbage disposals use an enormous amount of water to run and create problems with septic systems. 

In your yard, plant only native plants that could withstand a possible drought. Plant drought resistant grasses or consider replacing grasses with ground cover that does not need mowing and watering. Position your gutters to water plants instead of sidewalks. A rain barrel could be used to water garden plants. Go to: http://www.wateruseitwisely.com for the home challenge video. 

Stop being a consumer. Stop those unnecessary or impulse buys. If you trying to “keep up with the Joneses”, maybe you need to switch your priorities. If something has an expensive upkeep, maybe it is not worth having around. In 2007, the mini documentary, “The Story of Stuff” came out and the information still holds true today. Go to: http://www.storyofstuff.org to see what happens when we buy and consume too much “stuff”. 

Rely less on your car. Utilizing public transportation, carpooling, or walking when you can is more preferable than using your car to get around. Some cities have carpooling websites such as http://www.gocarma.com. 

Shop locally and buy as much organic/non-GMO foods as you can. Voting can be done in the way you spend your money. It is slowly catching on in the USA that consumers are demanding more organic foods. Organic foods are better for the environment and your health. Better yet, seek out a local farmer who uses organic practices. If you can, grow your own food for your family. You would be amazed at how much can be planted in small plots or window boxes, all you need is a little sun.

Do something fun on Earth Day and celebrate what a beautiful place we live on! Make it a challenge to do something new each day to protect our great green Earth, you will be setting an example for generations to come!

Digestive Aids

A recent German study has found the proton pump inhibitor drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid etc. increase the risk of dementia. Many people take these drugs for heartburn and other gastric ailments. The idea is that they reduce the amount of stomach acid. If you suffer from these disorders, talk to your doctor about some natural alternatives. Please do not stop taking any medication without first speaking to your doctor. 

1. Eat more fermented foods. Include more sauerkraut, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso, or sourdough into your diet. Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion. These foods help your digestive system to better absorb the nutrients from the other foods you are eating. 

2. Include fish oil such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The healing benefits in the EPA of the fish oil soothe and heal those suffering from ailments such as Crohn’s or inflammatory bowel disease.

3. Add ginger to your food. Ginger speeds up the process of food moving from the stomach to the upper digestive tract. It has muscle relaxant properties that soothe a constricted digestive tract, it also helps relieve gas, and bloating. Ginger is also a good heartburn remedy and combats nausea.

4. Peppermint is a helpful herb for digestion. Peppermint is an antispasmodic which soothes and relaxes the bowels. If one suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, peppermint can be very calming. The best way to consume peppermint is to make a tea.

5. Consume enough high quality fluids, such as herbal tea and water. Water especially helps everything flow properly. Dehydration can cause constipation and a whole other host of issues. 

6. Consume home made bone broth. Bone broth contains minerals, a gut soothing gelatin, as well as amino acids proline and glycine. The bone broth attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices. It is very soothing and healing. 

7. Magnesium for digestion. Every single cell in the body requires it, without magnesium, your body cannot digest food. Magnesium is responsible for activating digestive enzymes. It aids in synthesizing protein, as well as helping to transport energy during digestion. 

8. Take a good quality probiotic. While fermented foods contain probiotics, if you are suffering from digestive issues, a good probiotic is beneficial. Probiotics help control harmful bacteria in the body, and prevent gas and bloating. 

9. Eat good quality fats such as coconut oil, grass fed butter, cod liver oil, and olive oil. Those that suffer from constipation can be helped by consuming good fats. Good fats help move the food right along the digestive tract. 

10. Make apple cider vinegar part of your daily routine. Add a teaspoon to a cup of water before meals. Research has shown that apple cider vinegar helps with gas, constipation, and heartburn. 

Mother Nature has provided us with so many digestive aids. Try some to see if they help with your digestive ailments. Many of them can be incorporated into meals or they are easy enough to take daily. 

Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA)

It is enrollment season to sign up for your local Community Sponsored Agriculture farm share, or as it is commonly referred to, a CSA. For several decades, people have been purchasing farm shares. There is no better way to receive a box of weekly fresh vegetables or other farm products. This article will give you the ins and outs and the importance of CSAs.

In late winter or early spring do a google search on “local CSAs” or visit localharvest.org. You will likely turn up a dozen or so local farms in your area that offer a CSA farm share. Peruse their websites and ask local friends their opinions. Oftentimes, you can visit the farm or call and ask a farmer some questions. Ask the farmers how long they have been farming and how many members they have. Ask them if they are certified organic or if they follow sustainable farm practices. 

Farms vary on what they offer and how they are set up. Some of them offer full shares (feed a family of 4) or half shares (feed a couple). Some farms require you work on the farm or help in some other way, some do not. Some farms require pickup at the farm, while others have pickup locations in neighborhoods or at farmer’s markets. Some farmers supply boxes of vegetables they have picked each week, while others allow you to pick and choose. 

Once you have chosen a farm or have decided you would like to partake in a CSA, ask yourself some questions. Are you willing to try out new vegetables? Make some new recipes with the items you are given? Can you make the weekly pickups? Often CSA pickups have a narrow window in which to pickup your goods. Are you willing to take on the risk of what Mother Nature has to offer? Some crops may do better than others during certain seasons and weather conditions. Talk to your farmer about any potential risks.

Generally, joining a CSA is a win-win situation for both the farmer and the consumer. Enrollment season for CSAs is during the time of the year when business is slow for farmers, in the winter. They also get to know the community. For the consumer, they get super fresh foods, they get to know the source of their food, and they support the local economy. 

There’s nothing more rewarding than picking up fresh veggies at the market on a warm summer evening. If you are lucky, you’ll even get to chat with your farmer about a new vegetable you have yet to taste, while socializing with your community. 

Creating Calm

Reflecting on the new year can give us pause with regards to what has worked in the past year and what has not. What things caused you to get stuck? Where do you see your life working well? What can be done with regards to those sticking points? Clearing out the clutter in all areas of your life can invoke the calm that you need.

Diet
Eat clean foods that are unprocessed. Shop the perimeter of the store and try to avoid the inner aisles full of prepackaged food. Fresh fruits and vegetables along with healthy proteins and fats will give your body the energy it needs. Everything is energy. Unprocessed foods vibrate higher and are better for your body.

Home
When you walk into your home do you feel a sense of calm? Or do you feel overwhelmed with the clutter that bombards you? If this is a problem area, think about decluttering your space. Investigate the Konmari method of organization. In essence, everything should have a place and everything you own should bring you joy. Joy is a feeling we should have in a space we live in.

Health
In addition to eating a healthy diet, are you maintaining your health? Are you keeping the body healthy by seeking out natural practitioners as much as possible? Regular care with massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, energy medicine, and other therapies keep the body working well.

Relationships
Are you involved in healthy and loving relationships? Are you seeking ways to heal and limit the negativity of certain relationships? It can be helpful to do inner work such as journaling or mediation when you are wanting to heal issues with relationships. Authors such as Wayne Dyer, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Louise Hay can be a great reference.

Work
Similar to relationships, are you working in a healthy environment? Does your work support you in fulfilling your life purpose? Do you feel tense or agitated when you think about work? Or do you feel that your line of work makes a difference? Seek ways to enjoy your job and feel contentment. If issues arise, meet them head on with tact and clarity. Be authentic and true to yourself. 

Time
Do you over schedule yourself or your family members? Are you running around ragged to different events and meetings? Pare down the schedule to a more manageable pace. If you’re dreading your activities, it is creating stress. Only do the things you love.

Sacred Area
Clearing the clutter in the major areas of your life will create this wonderful and peaceful sense of calm. If you have the space, create a sacred area for a daily meditation practice. It can be a simple floor pillow with incense or candles. Make this an area that can’t be used for other things. This should simply be a place you can meditate and reflect. 

Start the new year with a renewed sense of clam. Clear out the clutter in all of the major areas of your life. Calming your life down can reap big rewards down the road.