The Cold Buster

coldbuster

It’s no secret that I had the worst cold known to mankind over the past few weeks. I whined about it on every social media outlet available, and nobody saw me for almost a week because when I left the house I felt like I was going to die (ask my husband about the 2 meltdowns I had at the grocery store when I tried to go out).

Because I’m pregnant and stubborn, I flatly refused to take any over the counter medications. While I did eventually have to go to the doctor (frown face) and get on antibiotics for bronchitis (double frown face), this drink did a great job of loosening my congestion and clearing my sinuses. I concocted this magical drink with all the antiviral gusto I could manage, so it’s not for the faint of heart!

You’ll need:

3/4 in chunk of ginger, peeled and cut into slivers (helps stimulate circulation and ease congestion)

1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife (strong antibacterial and antiviral)

Juice and pulp of 1/2 a lemon (cuts through mucus, boosts vitamin C, soothes the throat)

1-2 T raw honey (antibacterial and antiviral, soothes the throat)

As much cayenne pepper as you can stand! (breaks up mucus and stimulates circulation)

Steep the ginger, garlic, and lemon juice/pulp in freshly boiled water for about 10 minutes, until cooled to drinking temperature. If desired, fish out ginger and garlic pieces (I leave them in to keep getting medicinal benefits). Stir in raw honey and cayenne pepper. Drink up!

I drank this every 2 hours or so and it definitely helped!

This post is part of Tasty Traditions, Natural Living Monday, and Natural Living Link-up!

Oil Pulling- Your New Morning Routine

I spoke last week about how I really miss detoxing, so I’ve been folding in ‘everyday detox’ measures into my daily routine to help avoid the buildup of toxins during my pregnancy and help support my health in general. Here’s one you may not have heard of, but you definitely need to give a try!

When I lived in Florida, I spent a brief period of my natural health learning studying Ayurvedic medicine. This is normally associated with Indian/middle eastern culture, and is completely fascinating in how far removed it is from western tradition, yet how completely effective it is! Many common health tricks (such as the Neti Pot and starting the morning with warm lemon water) have their roots in Ayurveda, but there are many Ayurvedic traditions that are not as well know. Oil pulling is one of those- it was on my radar for a few months, then I forgot about it until I got involved with a stellar group of crunchy mommies on Facebook, many of whom are devoted oil pullers!

HERE’S WHAT TO DO:
Swish 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil (or another lighter healthy oil, some like sesame) around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Don’t let it get in your throat, though- no gargling!
Spit the oil into the toilet and flush the gross stuff away. Don’t spit in the sink- the oil can clog the drain!
Rinse with warm water.

POSSIBLE BENEFITS OF OIL PULLING:
Remineralizes teeth and prevents cavities and tooth decay
Pulls bacteria, parasites, congestion, and mucus out of your system
Coats teeth with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiviral goodness from the coconut oil
Clears skin on the face
Gently cleanses the system of bacteria and parasites
Relieves congestion in the sinuses and mucus in the throat (similar to kapalabhati in yoga)
Heals chronic skin disorders such an eczema, psoriasis, and tinea versicolor
Gently whitens teeth and strengthens gums
Helps alleviate arthritis
Gently detoxes the liver

I’ve been oil pulling semi-regularly for a few months now, and I really do love it. It takes some getting used to (the texture of oil in your mouth is likely a foreign one haha) but the effects are undeniable! I have struggled with bleeding gums since being pregnant, but much of that has disappeared since I’ve started pulling. My mouth feels cleaner, my skin is very clear, and much of my chronic sinus congestion has been kept at bay. In short, I’m a believer!

Easy Detoxifying and Healing Morning Elixir

Detoxifying and Healing Morning ElixirOne of the things that I miss the most while being pregnant is the opportunity to go through regular periods of cleansing and detoxing. I love doing cleanses- they make my body feel more efficient, lighten the load on the digestive system, clear the brain, and give me lots of energy. Full detoxing isn’t recommended during pregnancy because of how the body can react to toxins being pulled into the bloodstream (and therefore possibly reaching the baby), so lighter, more ‘everyday’ detox measures have to be put into place to maintain health and stop the accumulations of toxins and waste!

One of the easiest ways to keep your body clean is to make yourself a light, detoxifying morning drink. There are many, many variations of this (see my friend Kaitlin’s over at Eat Klean), but this is my favorite, as it has very intentionally selected ingredients to treat a variety of health issues and aid in detoxing. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I look forward to it at this point, and I know it’s doing my body a world of good!

YOU’LL NEED:

Fresh juice of 1 organic lemon
1-2 tablespoons Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1-2 tablespoons raw honey
Dash of cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients in the bottom of your favorite mug, top with freshly boiled water that has been cooled to room temperature. Stir until all ingredients are combined and enjoy!

WHAT YOU’RE GETTING:

Lemon Juice– Full of vitamin C (which is especially important in the winter months), lemon juice boosts the immune system. In addition, lemon alkalizes the body, which is proven to inhibit cancer growth! Warm lemon juice also acts as a mild diuretic that will stimulate digestion. Citrus in general is touted for it’s ability to awaken the body and give energy, making it a great addition to this morning beverage!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar– A miracle worker, apple cider vinegar is good for anything from preventing heartburn (huge for me during pregnancy!) to treating fungal skin infections. Taken internally in this morning beverage, it helps recolonize the gut with good probiotics (hence the RAW acv being best), and helps fight bacterial infections and improves dental health due to it’s antibiotic properties. It also acts as an expectorant, which comes in handy if you’re suffering from any type of congestion or cough. *note: the photo shows Trader Joe’s brand ACV.  This is a pasteurized brand, all I had in the house at the time! My favorite raw brand is Bragg’s 🙂

Raw Honey– Raw honey is full of beneficial enzymes and antioxidants that aid in cleansing and has very strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, which keep any threatening sicknesses at bay and will shorten the duration of anything you’re dealing with currently. Raw honey is also full of vitamins and nutrients that support the body in the cleansing process. The healing benefits of raw honey are such that many people will apply raw honey to open wounds to speed the healing process and protect against infection.

Cayenne Pepper– Yes, this gives the drink quite a kick! Besides waking you up in the morning, cayenne helps to clear congestion and stimulate circulation, while boosting the metabolism. Because it elevates circulation, this causes us to sweat (even a little bit!) which is a major source of detoxification. Cayenne can help prevent blood clots, prevent migraines, and is even speculated to have anti-allergenic properties. Like apple cider vinegar, cayenne acts as an expectorant, breaking up mucus and relieving symptoms of many common illnesses.

As you can see, this drink is a nutritional powerhouse! Yes, the taste takes some getting used to, but the health benefits are borderline magical and your body will thank you for a long, long time. Try it and see!

This post was shared with Wildcrafting Wednesday!

Links used in this post are affiliate links. I do earn a very small percentage when you purchase through these links, which allows me to continue doing what I love: writing!

The Antibacterial Movement: Are We Destroying Our Immune Systems?

Here’s a confession for you: I HATE washing my hands. Don’t worry, I do it after I go to the bathroom, or when I’m cooking, but I’m just generally not an avid hand-washer. I don’t carry around hand sanitizer- I do have a small bottle of all-natural sanitizer from CleanWell, but it’s lasted me about 3 years. Places that I do wash my hands often (home, kitchen, office) I only use all-natural, preferably homemade or small-batch soaps that don’t contain weird ingredients. I don’t know what it is, but generic, chemical-laden hand soap and sanitizers just are NOT my thing!

Given this little quirk, when a friend suggested writing about hand-washing and antibacterial stuff, I jumped on the subject. Maybe there’s something behind my personal vendetta against germ killers? Turns out, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be…

The first thing I came across was this FDA page about Triclosan, the active ingredient in antibacterial hand soaps and sanitizers. The page states that “the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.” Hmm. Okay, so the FDA says there’s not really a benefit. Interesting.

Then, there’s this troubling recent article that actually details the history of triclosan as an antimicrobial ingredient. The article references “recent animal studies of triclosan [that] have led scientists to worry that it could case hormone-related problems in humans including an increase the risk of infertility and early puberty”. Additionally, the article discusses the original draft of ingredients allowed in soaps and cleaners, which “stated that triclosan was ‘not generally recognized as safe and effective,’ because regulators could not find enough scientific research demonstrating its safety and effectiveness.The FDA published several drafts of the guidelines over the years, but the agency never finalized the results. So, companies have not had to remove triclosan from their products.” This is a little worrisome to me.

While the FDA is expected to begin definitive studies on triclosan any time now, they have already missed their target start date several timers, so…I’ll read it when I see it.

Next, I found this minutes report from an the 2000 American Medical Association Annual Meeting.  At this meeting, the AMA reccommended that “the use of common antimicrobials [triclosan being named as one in the previous paragraph]for which acquired resistance has been demonstrated in bacteria as ingredients in consumer products should be discontinued”. Clearly, nobody listened to the AMA, but here it is- they express their concern that we are creating different strands of microbes that will then be resistant to antibiotics.  Essentially, that antibacterials/microbials are causing more harm in the long run than they are good.

I don’t know about you, but the FDA and the AMA are pretty big sources to be actually speaking out against making something- usually, if they lean a certain way, it’s unfortunately towards a money-making product. Needless to say, these articles got my attention.

As I continued researching, I found some more interesting articles. This one, from Mother Earth News, discusses another popular antimicrobial agent, triclocarbon or TCC, which is also a pesticide- which, thanks to it’s prevalence in hand soaps, is now contaminating our water systems and, therefore, much of large-scale agriculture. The article also discusses how triclosan “known to promote the growth of resistant bacteria, including E. coli”. Okay, no. Gross.

The kicker, for me, is this study from 2006 of mice and rats- some kept in a dirty sewer, and some kept in a sterile laboratory. The study showed that “the wild mice and rats had as much as four times higher levels of immunoglobulins, yet weren’t sick, showing an immune system tuned to fight crucial germs, but not minor irritants…what happened in the lab rats is what likely occurs in humans: their immune systems have got it so cushy they overreact to smallest of problems.” Essentially, the study concluded that the mice and rats that were continually exposed to different microbes were able to fight off sicknesses when stimulated, while the lab-kept mice and rats got much more sick when stimulated, because their immune systems weren’t used to having to do any work.

So, where do we go from here? This recent ABC news article discusses the importance of germs, and how normal, “older cleansers such as soap and hot water, alcohol, chlorine bleach and hydrogen peroxide are sufficient for most purposes…strong antibacterial cleaners are needed only when someone in a household is seriously ill or has low immunity.” Furthermore, the article discusses the importance of bacterial exposure in children, citing an Italian study that concluded that “exposure to bacteria is essential for development of an infant’s immune system. He says a baby must be exposed to germs during its first year in order to develop antibodies needed to fight infection later in life”. So, germs are not just good, they are essential for preparing our children for their future health.

My Bottom Line: We use homemade soaps and cleaners, or soaps and cleaners that we know the ingredients of, whenever possible. Yes, I bring my own soap to my office. When in a public restroom, I opt to use my all-natural hand sanitizer rather than the generic anti-microbial soap offered from the dispenser. I’ve even been known to carry around a tiny tupperware container with a sliver of soap from home. Am I going to be a germaphobe mom? Probably not, because honestly, I’m not afraid of germs- I recognize their importance to our immune systems and want my children to be strong and healthy. I know that regular exposure to common germs, in addition to a diet that supports their bodies rather than breaking them down, is pivotal for my children’s health. If someone is very ill or immunocompromised, of course there are precautions to take. I’m just not convinced that they need to include triclosan or TCC…