Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cough and Sore Throat tea

We survived a virus that caused everyone to cough and have sore throats.  Some of the kids had a dry, hacking cough and others got wheezy with it.  At least 3 of my children lost their voices.  (Sadly, that didn't seem to create a quieter atmosphere here since it was only one at a time.)  The first to catch this virus was my son Samuel.  He seems to end up with asthmatic symptoms whenever he catches any cold.  One morning he was struggling so much he couldn't even make it up the stairs to his bedroom.  I had to leave, but made him some tea and instructed Grace, his babysitter for the morning, to push the tea.  She said she had him sip it every time she could--maybe every 15 minutes or so.  When I returned 4 hours later, he was fine and went to play outside.

So what was in the tea?  I will share my list of ingredients.  But if you don't want to make it yourself I have now made a HUGE bag of it and would be glad to share.  $5 for a 2 ounce bag.  In about 3 weeks I'll have a tincture made from it and will want to test that on somebody. :)  I'll need a local person with a cough to test so let me know if you feel bad about 3 weeks from now.  Not wishing it on anybody, but just letting you know I'll be glad to share my tincture free for the first person who is sick and willing to test it out.  FYI it will be alcohol based.

My cough and sore throat formula is this:  1 part each of mullein, licorice root, echinacea, peppermint, spearmint, stevia, dried elder berries.  1/2 part lobelia.  Sometimes I throw in an extra part of mullein.  It doesn't seem to make a difference though.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oil Cleansing Method

 I've been on a quest to find ways to cleanse my hair and skin without using commercial products.  So far I've tried baking soda and vinegar for my hair which I didn't like, coconut oil as a moisturizer or lotion which I like, coconut oil as deodorant which I like, and oil to wash my face which I LOVE.

I mixed 1 T castor oil and 3 T olive oil.  You can find castor oil on the bottom shelf with laxatives in the pharmacy section.  But this won't work as a laxative.  I promise.  I saw one website suggested them at the opposite ratio, but I think this would actually dry out your skin.  The ratio I gave you is great for me and my teenage daughters.  I think the person who suggested more castor oil and less olive oil just got mixed up.

I put it in a little plastic container I got over by the sample size stuff in Health and Beauty Aids at Walmart.  $1 I think.  The castor oil was maybe $3?  Olive oil I already had in the kitchen.

Each night I use about 4 drops.  I put it on my wet hands and rub together.  Then I massage it over my whole face.  It removes make up too.  Get a washcloth wet with water as hot as you can stand it.  Lay this over your face and hold it until it cools.  Then wipe off the oil.  Do this again.  It takes me about 3-4 rinses.

In the morning I just rinse with warm water.  That's all it takes.  Sometimes I forget and wash my face in the shower out of habit.  Then I need to moisturize.  I use coconut oil for that.

My daughters and I have been doing this for a couple months now and still love it.  Their acne is improved.  My dry patches and blotchy spots are gone.  I even had a mole disappear and another one shrink!  I'll be trying straight castor oil on my moles and let you know if that works.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bug Bites and Thorns

We've spent the last couple of months testing out Plantain leaves. They grow all over our yard, but we didn't harvest any while they were "flowering" and now I can't recognize them. One of these days I'm going to get around to creating an herb garden so I can plant all my weeds and know which is which. For now I have some dried plantain that I purchased.

Plantain is good for relief of pain, itch, and swelling. My daughter is about to try it on the beginnings of a black eye. I don't expect it to work well since it's been hours since she got in a fight. But we'll see.

I used it on my 2 yr old when he got into fire ants. I just put a handful of leaves into a washcloth, closed it up with a rubber band so it looked like a big tea bag and then put it into a very hot bathtub. I let it sit for a few minutes while squeezing it to get the juices out, then added cold water to make it cool enough for him. He got in and played and it seemed to help him a lot.

We've had a couple of strange spots on hands and feet where we aren't sure what happened. But it hurts and swells up. Maybe a thorn? Maybe a bug bite? Maybe a spider bite? We don't know. But I ground some dried plantain, mixed it with water to make a paste, then put it on the spot and held it in place with a band aid. In both cases the swelling was gone within 30 minutes. In one case the spot comes back 30 minutes after the band aid is removed. We're now trying immune boosters for that one. I think it was a spider bite.

We've also used plantain to relieve pain from thorns (even Mesquite thorns!), splinters, etc. I had a jar of plantain oil that was a handy way to be ready, but it got knocked off a table and broke. I'm making more now. You simply put the herbs in a jar, cover with your choice of oil (I like coconut or olive oils because I have them around and they are healthy), put the lid on the jar and shake it every day for three weeks. Then you strain out the herbs, save the oil and label it. Put a couple drops on as needed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A useful weed--Mullein

I've read about the multitude of uses for mullein, and had used it for several things. I went to order more from the Bulk Herb Store and they were out of stock. So I finally got around to searching for it in my yard. And we have plenty. It's considered a weed, grows nearly everywhere, smells good, and is pretty. So we'll be letting this weed grow.

I found it just in time. I picked some flowers, washed them, then put them in a jar with some olive oil and kept them at low heat for about 24 hours. Then I strained out the oil. Five of my kids had earaches, one or two at a time, and so I got to test this stuff out. I put a couple drops in each ear when they complained about earaches. Three of the kids still needed Motrin to get through the night, but it worked great during the day. The other two made it through the night without any additional pain killers--and the two month old baby was one of them.

Things we've used mullein for and been successful include cuts and scrapes, coughs, colds, sore throats, and ear aches. I tried to get one of the kids to try a leaf in her shoe when she had that bruised heel feeling, but she only wanted to wear flip flops so that didn't work.

I made the mullein oil for earaches. But for sore throats, coughs, and colds, we added it to tea. Mullein helps with pain, but it also can kill germs and help expel mucus from the body. The kids said their tea helped a lot with the cough and sore throat. I didn't just use mullein in their tea, but it helped more when I added it than when I didn't.

With the nice weather the kids have been playing outside a lot. That means they scrape themselves while climbing trees and fall and scrape knees while riding bikes and scooters. I get tired of handing out bandaids and suggested they crush or bruise a mullein leaf and put it on their cuts. They tell me it worked great! It helped it stop hurting right away. Of course, kids think bandaids help scrapes stop hurting too, so I can't be sure how well it worked. I don't fall down much so I haven't been able to test it myself quite yet.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fast Working Stuff!

We've all had sore throats around here. I think it might be strep. I realize the conventional thing is to run to the doctor and get antibiotics and I am not saying you shouldn't. I just know that I have found natural ways of dealing with it and we don't go to the doctor unless we have to. We have had to, but usually we respond to other things.

So what do we do? I usually use Grapefruit Seed Extract made by Nutribiotic. I've tried other brands and not been happy with the outcome, so I stick with the Nutribiotic brand. The dosage is 1 drop of the liquid per 10 lbs body weight. I mix this in juice and give it 3 times a day. They also have tablets and capsules for those big enough to swallow them.

Another thing that works well is to gargle with mouthwash. Those in the family big enough to do that are seeing great results. As with anything, it works best if used at the first sign of illness, then gargle at least 3 times a day.

But this year was different. My little guy wouldn't drink the juice. He wouldn't take any of the things I offered him. He's too little to gargle. I prayed about what to do because he just kept getting sicker. I knew if I took him to the doctor, they would prescribe antibiotics and I was fairly certain he wouldn't take that either. Every time I prayed I got the same answer: licorice. That wasn't making sense to me as in my limited knowledge I figured it would help the sore throat a bit, but he also had some really bad diarrhea and I thought the licorice would make it worse. I finally decided to trust God and started brewing some licorice tea. Meanwhile, I got out my book "Herbal Antibiotics" and looked up licorice. It turns out it is listed in the book and even effective against some strain or other of strep. So I gave it to him. He loved it and drank a couple of cups that day. By the next day he was nearly better.

Fast forward to this week. More of the kids have been sick and I was giving them a tea with a mix of licorice, mullein, peppermint and echinacea. It was helping a lot, but I think they had some motivational issues too. (It's fun to sit on the sofa and be waited on by Mom while you watch movies all day. Who would WANT to get better?) Then I got sick. That was kind of hard on all of us. I was recovering quickly, but still had a horrible sore throat last night. I hate the taste of black licorice, but gave in and tried this stuff we have. Within seconds my sore throat was gone and stayed gone for 12 hours!

So what was this stuff I used? Meltzer's Puremints Licorice. I don't mean to be doing an ad for them, but wow! I was so amazed at how well it worked I felt I should share!

I had to take another one almost exactly 12 hours later because my throat was hurting again. It worked again.

Funny thing is, I didn't buy them to be helpful. I bought them because my husband and one of my sons were in search of the perfect flavor and they thought licorice and mint would be it. So when I saw them, I had to get them. They love them. They have helped a couple of tummy aches, cheered kids up (those who like licorice), and now sore throats. I'll be buying more of these in spite of the fact I think they're yucky.

Did you ever notice that most people either love or hate licorice? I've always been one who hated it, but now I'm learning to love the stuff even though I still hate the taste.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tummy Aches

There are several things we are using for tummy aches.

Peppermint can help with heartburn. Licorice too. Ginger is supposed to be great for nausea.

But there's one thing that is really helping almost every digestive problem we are encountering and I want to share that. Slippery Elm.

When Ezra was having trouble being able to handle any solids we started adding Slippery Elm bark powder to his applesauce and he was suddenly doing much better. Over the course of a couple months, he was able to eat all kinds of things without all the diaper rash and upset stomach problems he had been having.

I shared this with a friend and she tried it on herself. She said it worked better than the prescription drug she was taking. (A popular reflux medication)

One of our daughters has trouble occasionally where everything she eats will hurt her stomach. This comes and goes and we can't figure out why. But she started taking slippery elm for it and it healed it up. For now at least. If it comes back we know to try the slippery elm again.

Everything I've read says this is safe for pregnancy, but I had trouble with it once while pregnant. I had some spotting while taking it and it stopped when I quit. Maybe that was a coincidence, but I'm cautious. I just wanted to alert you that it could be a problem so watch carefully for trouble if you are pregnant.

You can get it in capsules, but I don't know how much it would help with upper digestive problems because it wouldn't touch the area. We buy it as a powder and mix it with juice, water, or applesauce. It will thicken whatever liquid you mix it in, so you'll want plenty of liquid. My daughter says it gets kind of gross with water, but it's worth it. 1 tsp seems to be plenty for adults. I am sure you can cut this down for children. I know when Ezra was taking it as baby food we mixed a teaspoon with a bowl of applesauce. It's a food so you can't really overdose on it, you just don't want to waste it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Asthma and allergies in a preschooler

When our oldest son was a little guy he had a lot of health problems. He seemed to catch every cold that went around. The doctor just kept prescribing antibiotics every month which would help, but we'd be back the next month with yet another illness. Every cold seemed to go to his chest and he'd end up coughing a lot and wheezing. When he was about 2 the doctor said he wasn't going to officially diagnose him with asthma because that would be a problem for him later, but we should keep an inhaler on hand and we did. He needed it pretty often.

At night he would get to coughing so hard he would throw up. This would happen usually twice each night. It was terribly frustrating. One morning I woke to hear him coughing and laid there exhausted wondering if I should get up and wake him up before he threw up, or let him get that last minute or two of sleep before he awoke on his own. Then I just prayed and asked God what in the world we were supposed to do about this. "Go to the allergist" was my answer. Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. It had just not occurred to me that it was allergies.

So we went and they did the skin test which showed him to be allergic to most of his favorite foods--chocolate, rice, oats, bananas, cinnamon, egg whites, and grapes. He was fine with dairy. I want to point this out because so many people assume that if you have allergies you must be allergic to dairy. This is not always the case and switching from cow's milk to rice milk would have been horrible for my son! There were a few other foods that he tested positive for, but the allergist urged us to remove everything he'd tested positive for from his diet for two weeks, then give each food to him one at a time to see if he reacted. Some caused no reaction and we were able to add those back to his diet. The ones that caused reactions we kept him off of. The doctor was hopeful that if we avoided these foods completely, he could outgrow these allergies because he was still fairly young. I believe he was about 3 1/2 at this point. He is now almost 20 and can eat all of the foods he once had to avoid. Sometimes some of them will cause a slight problem, but usually he said he's okay with them.

He also had airborne allergies and got weekly allergy shots. This was absolutely no fun. I can't say if the shots worked because we only did them for about half a year. I'll explain why.

We began to see a lot of improvement right away with avoiding food allergens--he stopped throwing up. We also took him off all artificial colors (all those FD&C colors with numbers) which improved his behavior. He had been a good kid all along, but he'd have these Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde moments where he'd suddenly become aggressive or wild and get in trouble. He didn't like that and when he saw that avoiding dyes helped him stay out of trouble, he was very careful--at age 3-4 yrs old!--to avoid dyes. As he put it back then, "Dyes make me crazy!" But he was still getting a lot of colds, coughs, and wheezing often. He couldn't ever play hard or he'd begin to cough and wheeze. The shots didn't seem to be doing much and I kept praying.

A friend of mine ended up suggesting a doctor who does things all naturally. This guy was great! (Dr. Dorman in Independence Missouri for anyone in that area who might want to try him.) All he did was tell me to give my son some drops in juice 3 times a day for 3 weeks, then nothing for a week, then come back for a re-check.

Each day he was to take 3 drops of Nutribiotic Grapefruit Seed Extract (He weighed about 30 lbs then. I have since learned that a dose is 1 drop per 10 lbs of body weight.) and 5 drops of Zand Insure Herbal (now called Insure Immune Support). We did this faithfully and began to see results pretty quickly. After the first month, we went back for a check up and were told to keep doing what we were doing. We continued for 3 months. After the third month he said we could stop the allergy shots if we felt comfortable with that. Boy did we!! And he said he no longer needed to take the drops every day. Just give them to him at the first sign of any illness coming on. Wow! We hardly ever even had to take any of our kids to a doctor at all after that! And it's a good thing because we moved and couldn't go to that doctor anymore. I've never found another one that I liked as well as him.

IF you would like to find these drops (and they have tablets of both formulas for those big enough to swallow pills), my favorite place to shop is because they have good prices, reasonable shipping rates and quick service. They usually have everything I am looking for in one place, too. So I'm going to share my referral code just in case. By using this, you save $5 off your first order and I get some small percent of your purchase as credit in my next order--or something like that. I know it's good for both of us. But it would be even better if you can find the drops at a local health food store. Then you are supporting your own community AND you get what you need right away. I would caution you to not try other brands simply because when I have, they didn't work nearly as well. But that's up to you.

My referral code at is MOM681.

Another change we made was to avoid sugar in our diet. This is something you'll hear from me often. Sugar depresses the immune system and when you have allergies you need to build your immune system. Honey is okay and will help satisfy your sweet tooth. So will fruit. Artifical sweeteners are worse than sugar and should be avoided.

Eat lots of fruit. At our house we call it God's Candy since it truly gives a "real fruit flavor". And a piece of fruit will usually cost you less than a candy bar. Plus it HELPS your health rather than hurts you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Basic Philosophy on Health

Most of us have heard of DNA, right? It's hard not to these days with all the talk about genetics and evolution and such. Each of our cells contains DNA which contains the basic instructions on how to make our body work right. It was taught to me in my high school biology class that each cell has all the knowledge it needs to create the whole body, but they each specialize and do what they need to do.

So if every cell knows what to do, why do they sometimes do the wrong things? Why do we sometimes not heal as well as other times when there is a problem? My theory is that the cells need the proper nutrients to do what they need to do.

If a brick builder is given straw to build a building, it won't come out right. It doesn't matter what he knows about bricks and how to build a good, strong building. If he doesn't have the right materials, he can't do as good of a job. I believe that our bodies work the same way. If what we need are vitamins, minerals, protein, water, etc, and we give them sugar and chemicals instead, the cells will be unable to properly create new cells and create a healthy body.

We were created to self-heal. We were provided with the proper nutrients in our environment to nourish and cleanse our bodies as needed. But we often choose to stray from what is good for us and go to what is easy or tasty. We have altered our tastes from what we were created to enjoy to what man has created. I believe that if we go back to what God has created for us to eat and eat foods as close to how God created them as possible, then we will see our bodies begin to heal themselves and we will feel healthier, stronger, and more vibrant each day. I'm seeing it in myself and my family and I hope to share that with anyone willing to try it for themselves.

Good healthy food is the first step. Herbs provide nutrients that might target a specific area that needs extra help. I believe herbs help because they cleanse and nourish. They provide the vitamins and minerals and things that we know help us. They also provide nutrients that man hasn't even discovered yet. Whole herbs (rather than derivatives of herbs and individual chemical constituents) nourish and also help counteract some side effects.

Another big part of my philosophy on health is prayer. I try to always ask God what to do in each situation. I try to follow His lead. Sometimes He leads me to things I already knew to do and other times He leads me to things that I think, "Huh? Why would I do that?" And yet so far it has turned out to be the right answer each time. So I ask that you keep that in mind and know that just because something worked for someone, that doesn't mean that same answer would work for everyone. Please be aware that the stories I share on this blog are not advice for YOU and what would necessarily work for you. It might, but please pray about it first just to be sure. Herbs are usually pretty safe--like just eating your vegetables really (sometimes we put them in a capsule rather than plugging our noses) but why waste your time and money and deal with the discouragement of taking something that isn't what you need? God created you. He intimately knows every detail of your body. He knows what you need and what you don't. Just ask Him.

Getting Started

This blog will be a journal of my progress as I learn about herbs. My goal is to share stories of trials with herbs and the results--whether positive or negative. Perhaps this will help others to figure out what herbs to try for their own health, but also it will help me to remember what has worked and what has not.

I began learning about herbs when my oldest child was about 3 or 4. He had lots of allergies and when the doctors seemed unable to help him much we tried a doctor who did things all naturally. It was very successful. He went from having all the symptoms of asthma and throwing up a couple times each night, to being a normal, healthy child. The asthma symptoms disappeared and the vomiting stopped. He began to be able to play without wheezing. This greatly encouraged me and I wanted to learn more.

I dabbled here and there and continued to have successes for the most part. Last year at some point I began to study with the School of Natural Healing. My goal is to become a Master Herbalist. I have so far completed the initial phase of Family Herbalist and then the next step was Nutritional Herbologist. I am continuing my studies, but I'm not sure how fast my progress will be since we are expecting a new baby (#11) sometime in the next month or so.

Using herbs is more than just taking a pill. It's not for everyone. It's not always easy. To truly work well, there is often a need to change your diet. For us, the first requirement was to give up sugar--or at least greatly reduce how much we consumed. This stops a lot of people right there.

But if you are interested in learning, feel free to read through this blog. There might be something helpful here for you. Sometimes those herbs help in spite of bad eating habits.