Make Your Own Immune Boosting Fire Cider

Fire ciders are a well loved folk preparation that have been used traditionally to boost digestion, aid healthy body processes, warm one up on cold days, and help to ward off illness. Autumn is the perfect time to make a big batch of fire cider so that it can be used to promote health throughout the winter months.

Fire cider is simple to prepare, but it does need to infuse for some time before it’s ready. Depending on who you ask, the exact recipe varies, but the basic formula remains the same: vinegar + health boosting herbs + honey.

For my version, I use a homemade fruit vinegar as the base. This adds a pleasant flavor and extra health boosting properties. However, using organic apple cider vinegar will work perfectly fine too.

Onion is often used to treat colds, flus, and coughs. It is antibiotic and helps to reduce mucus. It is also anti-inflammatory and is helpful for rheumatic conditions.

Garlic has antiseptic and antibiotic properties. It has long been used to treat colds, flu, and ear infections. It is also an expectorant that helps to reduce mucus.

Ginger is a warming herb that is helpful for treating sore throats, colds, coughs, and chronic bronchitis.

Nettle is a tonic herb that improves overall health and resiliency. It is beneficial for treating fevers or colds. It can also be used to boost the immune system. The root has high levels of sterol, which enhances production of white blood cells.

Thyme is an antiseptic herb that is an effective remedy for colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis. It also is helpful for boosting the immune system and relieving congestion.

Oregano is a powerful antiseptic that can be used to treat respiratory problems, like coughs, tonsillitis, bronchitis, and asthma. It also helps to boost digestive processes.

Turmeric is helpful for inflammatory disorders, like arthritis. It boosts digestion and improves liver function. It also has antibacterial properties.

Lemon is valuable as a preventive medicine. It improves circulation and the body’s ability to fight off infection. It is also an antiseptic and antibacterial that can be used to treat sore throats, colds, flu, and chest infections and to reduce fevers. It eases rheumatism and arthritis. It also helps to detoxify the liver and promotes a healthy digestion.

Aji and cayenne peppers are warming and stimulating. Both are high in capsaicin. This constituent improves circulation and thus helps to bring more blood to the hands, feet, and vital organs. It helps to relieve pain and arthritis. It is antimicrobial and has been used traditionally to help prevent infections. It also relieve gas and digestive problems.

I like to enjoy a shot of fire cider diluted in a bit of hot water on cold nights. It’s also a delicious, healthy addition to soups, stir fries, and salad dressings. It can also be taken straight if you don’t mind some spice! I like taking bigger, more frequent doses to boost immunity if it seems like illness is threatening to come on.

Below you will find the recipe for my version of fire cider. It yields roughly a half gallon of cider. If this seems like it will be too much for you feel free to half the recipe, however, you may just find that you appreciate having lots of this spicy tonic on hand throughout the winter.

How to Make Fire Cider

Ingredients:

  • homemade fruit vinegar or apple cider vinegar (about 1/4 gallon)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 15 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh stinging nettle, roughly chopped
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • several sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbsp fresh turmeric root, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juice & zest
  • 2-3 fresh aji peppers, chopped or 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • honey, to taste

Directions:

Roughly chop onions, peppers, & herbs and put into a large jar. (This recipe works best in at least a 1/2 gallon size jar.) You can substitute dried herbs if fresh ones aren’t available, but if so, decrease the amount of herbs you are using. Dried herbs will expand as they absorb the vinegar.

Pour the vinegar over the other ingredients until they are covered by an inch or two of liquid. Cover the jar and let sit for 4 weeks. Strain out the liquid and set aside. Compost the other ingredients. Add honey to taste and mix well.

Resources:

Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. 2nd ed., Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2000.

Grieves, M. A Modern Herbal. http://www.botanical.com

Kloss, Jethro. Back to Eden. Lotus Press, 2009.

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Holistic Treatment of Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Rash

Photo Credit: WebMD

If you live in the United States (or parts of Canada), there’s a good chance that you are all too familiar with the effects of a run in with poison ivy, oak, or sumac. These plants contain an oil called urushiol (you-ROO-shee-all) that causes an itchy, blistering rash when it comes in contact with the skin. This rash often goes away within a few weeks, but can cause a lot of misery in the meantime. Try the following suggestions to avoid getting poison ivy, oak, or sumac this summer.

Preventative Measures

If you live in an area where one or more of these plants grow, learning to identify them is an important first step to avoiding exposure in the first place. Once you know these plants, be careful to respect them and keep your distance.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac grow prolifically and vigorously throughout the United States. The below images from poison-ivy.org map out specific areas where you can expect to find each of these plants.


This PDF from Michigan herbalist, jim mcdonald, is helpful for learning to ID poison ivy. Poison-ivy.org also offers information on identifying the different types of poison ivy, oak, and sumac.

You can sometimes prevent an outbreak of a urushiol rash by washing well with fels naphtha soap. (You can find it online or in grocery or drug stores.) Try this if you have been walking or working in an area where poison ivy, oak, or sumac grows. The sooner you do this after possible exposure the better. It takes about 12 to 72 hours for a rash to form after coming into contact with the plant, so you will want to wash off the urushiol oils long before then to avoid an outbreak.

If you do end up with a rash from exposure to poison ivy, oak, or sumac, the following holistic treatment plan can help speed recovery time and reduce symptoms, without the use of conventional medications, such as antihistamines and steroids.


Cleanse & Support the Liver

The liver plays an important role in cleansing the blood and ridding it of metabolic wastes and environmental toxins. An unhealthy liver that isn’t functioning properly can cause issues with kidney, heart, skin, respiratory, and glandular functions. Thus, when skin problems manifest, it is important to boost liver health as support therapy to help the body regain balance.

The following regime will help improve liver health:

Liver Cleansing Tea

  • 3 parts dandelion root
  • 2 parts burdock root
  • 2 parts cinnamon
  • 2 parts licorice root
  • 1 part pau du arco
  • 1/2 part yellow dock
  • 1/4 part echinacea

Combine about 3 tablespoons of the above herb mixture per quart of water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture slowly to a boil, then simmer gently for 20-45 minutes. Then remove from heat and strain the herbs from your tea. Drink 2-3 cups daily.

 

Liver Tonic Tea

  • 3 parts peppermint
  • 2 parts lemon balm
  • 2 parts red clover blossom
  • 2 parts nettle
  • 1 part alfalfa
  • 1/2 part parsley
  • 1/4 part stevia

Add 1-3 tablespoons of above herb mixture to a strainer or tea ball and place in a cup. Bring water to a boil. Pour hot water over herbs and cover. Let infuse 15 minutes to an hour and then strain out herbs. Drink 2-3 cups daily.

Switch to a Cleansing Diet

To support the body during flares of any skin related problems, the diet should be cleansing and eliminative in nature.

Eat light simple foods, including:

  • Miso
  • Vegetable broth
  • Millet
  • Brown rice
  • Tofu
  • Steamed veggies

Avoid:

  • Sweets, chocolate, and foods high in sugar (even fruit and juice)
  • Alcohol
  • Fatty foods
  • Large or complex meals
  • Processed or refined foods

 

Relieve Stress & Support the Nervous System 

Supporting the nervous system is especially important during flares of skin issues, like poison ivy, oak, or sumac, as the rash and itching can cause stress and increased inflammation.

Try one or more of the following to help soothe nerves and reduce irritation.

Peppermint-Valerian Tea

  • 2 parts peppermint
  • 1 part valerian
  • 1 part milky oats and/or oat straw
  • 1 part licorice root

Combine water and licorice root in a saucepan. Bring the mixture slowly to a boil, then simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add other herbs, and let infuse for 45 minutes. You’ll want to use about 3 tablespoons (total) of herbal blend per quart of water. Strain the herbs from your tea. Drink as often as needed throughout the day.

Nerve Soothing Tea

  • 3 parts chamomile
  • 2 parts lemon balm
  • 1 part milky oats and/or oat straw
  • 1 part lavender

Add 1-3 tablespoons of above herb mixture to a strainer or tea ball and place in a cup. Bring water to a boil. Pour hot water over herbs and cover. Let infuse 15 minutes to an hour and then strain out herbs. Drink as often as needed.

Valerian tincture

Take 1-2 teaspoons diluted in water or tea 3 times daily or as often as needed.

Skullcap tincture

Take 1/4 tsp diluted in water or tea 3 times daily.

Reduce Further Irritation

Dealing with poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes can be pretty miserable. Do yourself a favor and don’t make things worse! Try the following suggestions to avoid further exacerbation.

  • Avoid hot showers, water, & heat. For a relieving soak, add baking soda to lukewarm bath water.
  • Avoid oil based treatments, like salves and ointments.


Internal & External Treatment

The following natural treatments will help to dry up poison ivy, oak, or sumac rashes, relieve itching, and speed recovery.

  • Drink drying, astringent teas of mugwort, oak bark, or witch hazel.

  • Mix clay with enough apple cider vinegar to form a paste. Spread into the affected area and let dry. Rinse with cool water.

  • Apply yogurt to affected areas. It is slightly astringent and drying. It is also a good option for topical treatment for the skin around the eyes, as other treatments may be too harsh.

  • Dilute the below linament with a little cool water and apply to affected area.

The following recipe is adapted from Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss.
Jethro Kloss’ Herbal Linament

  • 1 oz golden seal root
  • 1 oz myrrh gum
  • 1/4 oz cayenne
  • 1 pint rubbing alcohol

Combine ingredients in a glass jar with a lid that fits tightly. Cover and let sit in a warm place for 2 weeks or more, shaking daily. After 2 weeks, strain well and store in a glass jar.

  • Mix green clay, sea salt, & water till a paste forms. Stir in a few drops of pure peppermint essential oil. Apply to affected area as needed. Store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

  • Apply the following tincture to affected areas frequently.

Poison Ivy/Oak Tincture
Fill a jar with wilted fresh mugwort and cover with apple cider vinegar. Cover jar and put in a warm place, out of direct sunlight for 14 days. Then strain and add 2 tablespoons of salt per pint of tincture.

To use: dilute a small amount with water and apply as needed.

 

The consequences of a too close encounter with poison ivy, oak, or sumac can certainly be uncomfortable, however, hopefully with increased care and awareness when working or walking in areas where these plants grow can help to reduce these types of run ins for you in the future. And if you do end up with a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash, it is nice to know that there are natural options for treatments, as antihistamine and steroid medications can often have unpleasant side effects.

If you’re struggling with why “pesky” plants like poison ivy even exist, you may want to check out this short video featuring jim mcdonald. He offers a more positive point of view on poison ivy that may be helpful to you. Best of luck this season as you share the woods and fields with these powerful plants!

Have a favorite natural remedy for poison ivy, oak, or sumac that I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!

 

[RESOURCES]
Gladstar, Rosemary. “Herbal First Aide: Skin Problems and What to Do About Them.”

Gladstar, Rosemary. “Herbal Therapeutics for the Liver.”

Kloss, Jethro. Back to Eden.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac.” American Academy of Dermatology. 6/21/2017.

Tierra, Michael. The Way of Herbs.

Herbs for A Healthy Pregnancy

Herbs are a lovely, natural way to support mom and baby during pregnancy. They can help provide important vitamins and minerals, ease morning sickness, relieve stress, and help to level out mood swings.

The following tea blend is one that herbalist , Rosemary Gladstar, recommends for pregnant mothers. It is tasty and nourishing. This blend can be enjoyed throughout pregnancy to provide essential nutrients, strengthen muscles used during childbirth, ease stress, and gently boost energy levels.

Pregnancy Tea 

  • 4 parts peppermint or spearmint
  • 3 parts raspberry leaf
  • 3 parts lemongrass
  • 2 parts nettle
  • 2 parts oat straw
  • 2 parts strawberry leaf
  • 1 part comfrey leaf
  • Optional: a pinch of stevia

[TONICS]

Tonic herbs strengthen and improve general, overall health and vitality of the whole body or in some cases, a specific body system. They are gentle enough to be used often over an extended period of time, and in fact, often work best when used regularly.

Raspberry (Rubus)
Raspberry leaf is a safe and widely used herb for supporting pregnancy. Prepared as an infusion,* it makes a lovely uterine and general pregnancy tonic. It can be used regularly throughout pregnancy to nourish mother and baby and to strengthen the muscles used during childbirth.

The leaves of raspberry contain an alkaloid called fragrine, which helps to tone the muscles of the pelvis and uterus. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B complex, C, & E; phosphorus, potassium and iron. The infusion of raspberry leaf also contains calcium in its most absorbable form. The uptake of this mineral is further enhanced by the aforementioned phosphorus, vitamin A & C contained in the leaf.

The regular use of this tonic herb is especially beneficial before and during pregnancy. Prior to conception, raspberry leaf combined with red clover blossoms can help to improve fertility in both men and women. During pregnancy, it can help to ease morning sickness by gently relieving an upset stomach and nausea.
If taken throughout pregnancy, Rubus helps to tone the uterus, which helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage. During childbirth, this toning allows the uterus to contract more effectively, which may make birth faster and easier. Also, because it strengthens the muscles used during labor and delivery, regular use of raspberry leaf during pregnancy can reduce labor pains and healing time after birth.
Raspberry leaf can also be beneficial after the baby is born. The high mineral content of this herb often helps the mother’s body to produce enough breast milk. However, since it is slightly astringent, some mothers may actually experience the opposite effect.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle is a wonderfully nourishing tonic herb, especially during pregnancy. It has a high chlorophyll content compared to other herbs and is source of nearly every vitamin and mineral that is known to be needed for human development. It is rich in vitamins A, C, D, & K; calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and sulfur.
Nettle is easy to enjoy. The infusion* is deep and rich tasting. It is also a delicious spring edible in temperate zones. If you’re lucky enough to live in warmer climates, it can be eaten year round.
There are many benefits to regular consumption of nettle before and during pregnancy. Before pregnancy, nettles help to improve fertility in both men and women.

During pregnancy, this herb helps to provide essential nutrients for mother and baby. Nettle infusions supply readily absorbable phosphorus, calcium, and vitamins A & D.

Nettles also help to ease leg cramps and other muscle spasms. Since this herb is mildly astringent and generally nourishing, it strengthens the blood vessels can help to reduce hemorrhoids. Additionally, nettles tone and strengthen the kidneys, which have to cleanse 150% of the normal blood flow during most of pregnancy.
Regular use of nettle throughout pregnancy helps to reduce pain during and after childbirth because it is high in easily assimilated calcium, which reduces muscles pains in the uterus, legs, and other areas. It also is an excellent source of vitamin K and increases the amount hemoglobin that is available, both of which help to decrease the risk of bleeding postpartum. In case bleeding after birth does occur, drinking fresh nettle in teaspoon doses will help to slow it. After birth, nettle helps mothers produce rich, abundant breast milk.

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100+ Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is making gifts for my friends and family. Homemade gifts are easily customized to fit the tastes of the recipient and are a truly unique and special way to celebrate Christmas.

This DIY gift round up is sure to give you plenty of ideas for everyone on your list this year.

Gifts to Pamper:

1. Coconut Mango Butter Lip Balm from The Nerdy Farmwife

2. Beach Waves Hair Spray from Wellness Mama

3. Oil Cleansing Facial Bars from My Healthy Green Family

Photo credit: My Healthy Green Family

4. Herbal Mud Mask from The Hippy Homemaker
5. Sweet Lime Lip Scrub from Mountain Rose Herbs Blog

Photo Credit: Mountain Rose Herbs

6. Elderflower Eye Cream from Joybilee Farm
7. Sweet Orange & Rose Perfume from The Herbal Academy

8. Basil Anti-Aging Face Cream from The Nerdy Farmwife

9. Natural Makeup from Wellness Mama

10. Massage Oil from the Mountain Rose Herbs Blog

11. Aloe Mint Lotion from The Nerdy Farmwife

12. Calendula Sugar Scrub from The Herbal Academy

13. Green Tea Skin Serum from the Mountain Rose Herbs blog

Photo Credit: Mountain Rose Herbs

14. Aromatherapy Shower Steamers from The Hippy Homemaker

15. Lavender Cardamom Bath Salts from Shalom Mama

16. Cacao & Vanilla Body Polish from the Mountain Rose Herbs blog

17. Gingersnap Facemask from Growing Up Herbal

18. Honey Body Wash from DIY Natural

Photo Credit: DIY Natural

19. Beard Oil from from Mountain Rose Herbs Blog

20. Buckwheat Relaxation Pillows from Wellness Mama

21. Peppermint Tea Tree Aftershave from The Hippy Homemaker

22. Lotion Bars from Wellness Mama

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Herbal Dream Pillows & Tea


Throughout history, dreams have had a special significance in many cultures. There is written record of dream interpretations dating back to over 5,000 years old. Ancient Egyptians, for example, highly valued dreams, especially vivid ones, as they believed they were messages from the gods. The ancient Greeks also felt that dreams were divine messages and used interpretations of their dreams to help them make decisions, predict the future, and solve problems.
Today, dreams are still a bit of a mystery to us. Some researchers claim that they help to store memories, while others feel that they are important for resolving conflicts and regulating mood. While the specific benefits of dreams are still uncertain, it is clear that healthy sleep patterns are important to health and well being.

Insomnia and difficulty with dream recall can make it hard to benefit from sleep and dreams. Herbal dream pillows and teas, however, promote vivid dreams, peaceful sleep, and dream recall. They are simple to make and are a natural, non-habit forming way to promote healthy sleep and dream cycles.

The herbs in these dream blends are naturally calming and dream boosting. Mugwort is used to enhance and promote lucid dreams. It has also traditionally been used for protection and was woven into necklaces by Native Americans to help keep away dreams about the dead.

Lavender and chamomile are calming herbs. They promote relaxation and restful sleep. Passion flower is soothing and naturally reduces stress. It aids in easing anxiety and quieting a busy or worried mind.

Oats are a natural sedative and are well-loved by herbalists for their soothing effect on the nervous system. They have been used traditionally to help calm anxiety and alleviate insomnia.

 

Dream Pillows

Ingredients:

  • 3 parts lavender
  • 3 parts roses
  • 2 parts mugwort
  • 1 part chamomile
  • 1 part rosemary
  • 1/2 part eucalyptus

Directions:

Combine all dry herbs in a large bowl and mix well. Scoop this herbal mixture into pouches sewed from fabric scraps of your choosing. Sew the pouch closed.

To use: tuck the herb sachet under your pillow to promote peaceful sleep and enhance dreams. Drink a cup of sweet dreams tea before bed for an added effect.

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Lavender-Lime Infused Vinegar

Vinegars are wonderfully versatile and have long been appreciated for their ability to clean and disinfect surfaces and to preserve and enhance food. They also have many health benefits and can be infused with a variety of herbs for more specific medicinal or practical uses.

Infused vinegars are simple to make and can be customized to serve many different purposes. They are a tasty addition to salad dressings, soups, and sauces. They can be used in your beauty routine to help balance skin and hair. They are also a safe and effective alternative to conventional cleaning products.

This recipe is best suited as an ingredient in an all-purpose household cleaner, though it certainly can be consumed as well (and is quite tasty!). It utilizes white vinegar, which has antibacterial and antifungal properties and works well to remove stains and odors from a variety of surfaces. 

Lime is a disinfectant that kills bacteria and viruses, making it a great addition to a cleaning spray. The naturally occurring acids in citrus also help to cut grease and remove stains. Lavender adds a lovely smell to the vinegar and is naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. 


Ingredients:

  • Lime peels 
  • White Vinegar
  • Fresh lavender sprigs 

Directions:

Fill a jar with lime peels. Don’t pack the jar too tightly, the peels will need to be able to move freely in the vinegar to infuse well. Add the sprigs of lavender and pour vinegar over top to fill the jar. Cap tightly with a lid. (If your lid is metal, placing a square of parchment paper between the lid and the rim of the jar can help prevent corrosion.) 

Let infuse for 2-3 weeks, shaking the jar daily. Then, strain through a mesh strainer or cheese cloth and rebottle.

To make an all purpose cleaner with your vinegar you will need:

  • 1 part lavender-lime infused white vinegar
  • 1/2 to 1 part water 
  • essential oils, if desired

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and use to clean and disinfect surfaces, neutralize odors, and remove stains.
Other ingredients that make great additions to infused vinegars that are to be used for cleaning and disenfecting purposes are thyme, tea tree, basil, eucalyptus, oregano, sage, rosemary, and lemon. 

Enjoy infusing your own vinegars for your culinary and household needs. I’d love to hear about any of your favorite combinations in the comments section below! 

Natural Pet Care: Preventing Flea Infestations

While many of us love the warmer weather that spring and summer bring, those of us who own pets know that pests like fleas also enjoy these seasons’ milder temperatures. Aside from being highly annoying to your pet, flea infestations can also cause more serious health issues, such as excessive itching (some animals are more sensitive to flea bites than others), hair loss, secondary skin infections, and anemia.

Unfortunately, many commercial flea preventatives and treatments contain highly toxic chemicals. Though these collars, shampoos, pills, and sprays are certainly effective at killing fleas, they are highly unsafe for pets and their owners. Many of the chemicals in these treatments are also highly irritating to dogs and cats so they will lick and bite at them, which increases the amount of toxins that they take in. Herbalist, Juliette de Baïracli Levy, even states, “The modern flea collars, because they work on a chemical principle and carry health-precaution warnings, I suspect are more hazardous to health than the presence of fleas.”

There are, however, many natural options for preventing flea infestations. Essential oils can be used safely on animals to help prevent various pest problems. However, it is important to remember that animals are much more sensitive to scents than humans are. A little bit of essential oil will go a long way, so you don’t need to use very much. Dilute essential oils when using them directly on an animal’s skin and do not apply on the mucous membranes, near the eyes, to the genital area, or in the inner ear. Be cautious about using essential oils on cats, as they aren’t able to metabolize them in the same way humans and larger animals do. Always do your research or consult a holistic professional before using essential oils on pregnant animals.

To use essential oils to help prevent external pests on dogs, you can add a drop or two (depending on the size of your dog) of lemongrass or citronella essential oil to Dr. Bronner’s eucalyptus liquid castile soap and then bath them with this mixture every so often throughout the warmer months. This will deter fleas for a short time.

Making your own natural flea collar is a another way to utilize essential oils to help prevent pests problems. This natural alternative to commercial flea preventatives is effective and safe for both dogs and cats. The below tutorial is adapted from The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Wormwood.

Natural Flea Collar

Supplies:

  • A collar made from soft, absorbent material (An inexpensive cloth collar will work perfectly)
  • 1/2 tsp cheap vodka
  • 1 drop of cedarwood essential oil
  • 1 drop of lavender essential oil
  • 1 drop of citronella essential oil
  • 1 drop of thyme essential oil
  • A heaping 12 tsp of garlic powder or 4″0″ size garlic capsules

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together in a small bowl or measuring cup. If you are using garlic capsules, break them open and add the contents before combining. Pour mixture over the collar until it is fully absorbed. Let the collar dry then put it on your pet’s neck. It should be effective for 1 month.

 

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is another natural option for keeping fleas and other pests from infesting your pets. DE is a very fine powder made up of the crushed skeletons of the fossilized skeletons of diatoms (single-celled marine and freshwater organisms whose cell walls are made up of silica). These extremely tiny particles kill insects by lacerating their exoskeletons and then drying them up.

There are two main types of diatomaceous earth: food grade and industrial grade. Always use food grade DE. Industrial grade DE has been treated with heat and chemicals. It is not safe for use on humans or animals. Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe for internal and external use, but is dusty and can cause lung problems if large amounts are inhaled, so be aware of this when using it.

To use DE for pest control, simply sprinkle onto your pet’s fur. It can also be used on pets’ bedding, in their living quarters, and on carpet to aid in eliminating these pests from your home. Some people feed DE to their pets to help eliminate internal parasites. This is not something I have personally tried as I have had good results with herbal de-wormers.

There are many effective natural external treatments for preventing pest problems on your pets, however, one of the most important parts of treating and preventing flea infestations is to make sure that your pet is receiving a nutritious diet. A malnourished pet with a weak immune system will be more susceptible to parasite related problems (and other health issues in general). In addition to proper nutrition, herbs can be used to support your pet’s overall skin health and boost their immune system.

Echinacea in bloom

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) is a particularly useful herb for boosting your pets’ immune function to help them fight off infections and pest infestations. Dr. Randy Kidd, D.V.M., Ph.D., advises to use this herb in an on/off way. He recommends using it once daily for three weeks, then taking a week off or using it once daily for 5 days, then taking 2 days off. Repeat either regimen as needed.

Herbs can also be used to help improve your pet’s overall skin health and thus, make them less susceptible to flea infestations and other related problems. The liver is a key organ for clearing out internal toxins that can lead to skin issues, so many of the herbs that are beneficial to the liver will also ultimately promote the health of the skin. The following are a few herbs that are particularly helpful for your pet’s skin.

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100+ Natural Gift Ideas for New Moms 

If you’ve looked for a baby shower gift lately, you know that there are tons of baby clothes, body care products, and toys on the market these days. But, while many of these items are created for babies, not all of these items are necessarily safe for them. Unfortunately, many conventional baby products are made with toxic materials and ingredients that can cause a variety of health issues, including allergies, developmental problems, and cancer. Selecting the right gift for new moms and their little ones can be a difficult task if you are trying to find natural alternatives to these commercial products. Fortunately, this massive round up offers over 100 baby-safe gift ideas for the new mom in your life.

 

The following gift ideas are for the crafty folks. For those of you who prefer to buy a gift, keep reading, there’s lots of ideas for you too.

DIY Baby & Mama Personal Care Products:

  1. Bottoms-Up Salve adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health – This salve is great for healing and soothing diaper rash, cuts, scrapes, and irritated skin making it a great addition to any new mom’s diaper bag or changing table.

new-mother-balm-3-300x300
Photo Credit: The Nerdy Farmwife
Ingredients:

  • 1 part calendula flowers
  • 1 part comfrey leaf
  • 1 part comfrey root
  • 1 part St. John’s wort
  • Olive oil
  • Beeswax pastilles

Directions:

Combine 2 ounces of herb mixture with one pint of oil and let steep in a double boiler over very low heat for several hours. Check often to make sure that the oil isn’t overheating and burning the herbs. This will make about 2 cups of herb infused oil.

Strain the herbs from the oil and compost the spent herbs. Return the herbal oil to the double boiler and 1/4 cup grated beeswax per cup of herbal oil.

When the beeswax has melted, place a tablespoon of the mixture in the refrigerator for a few minutes until cooled. This will allow you to check the consistency. If the salve is too hard, add a little more oil. If it is too soft, add a little more beeswax.

When the salve is finished, pour it into a glass jar or tin. Spruce up your container with a label or other decorative touches. The salve does not need to be refrigerated, but should be stored in a cool place, as it will melt if overheated.

baby-massage-oil-blog
Photo Credit: Mountain Rose Herbs
2. Cloth Baby Wipes from Evergrowing Farm – These cloth wipes are easy to make and are safe for baby and the environment.

 

3. Mama & Baby’s Massage Oil from Mountain Rose Herb – This gentle massage oil is perfect for soothing baby’s delicate skin and is also the perfect gift to pamper a new mama.

Photo credit: The Herbal Academy

 

 

 

4. Child’s Herbal Bath Sock from The Herbal Academy – Herbal baths are a great way to nourish and heal baby’s skin. These cute bath socks are easy to make and allow baby to benefit from an herbal bath without any extra clean up for mom.

 

 

 

5. Three Nursing Balms for New Moms from the Nerdy Farmwife – These three nursing balm recipes vary in complexity and are all wonderful, safe options for sore, dry nipples.

Photo credit: Mountain Rose Herbs

 

 

 

6. For more DIY gift ideas, check out these 5 Calming DIY Gifts for Moms from Mountain Rose Herbs

 

 

 

 

The following gift ideas include some lovely natural body care products that you can buy for baby & mom if you’re short on time or if DIY just isn’t your thing.

Natural Baby & Mama Personal Care Products:

7.  Natural Baby Powder from Wild Blossom Herbals – Conventional baby powders can contain ingredients that are toxic and potentially cancer causing. This baby powder is a wonderful alternative as it is made with only natural, baby safe ingredients.

Photo credit: Wild Blossom Herbals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Baby Massage Oil from Wild Carrot Herbals – This massage oil is made with gentle ingredients that are safe for baby’s delicate skin.

Photo credit: Herbal Revolution
9. Mother Lovin’ Tea from Herbal Revolution – Help nourish and uplift a new mama with this lovely tea blend that is specifically formulated to provide extra nutrients and minerals, balance hormones, and support the nervous system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Mountain Rose Herbs
10. Baby’s Balm from Mountain Rose Herbs – A soothing salve that’s perfect for baby’s skin and bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Many Benefits of Red Clover 

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a lovely little plant that grows abundantly in meadows and along roadsides here in Southwest Michigan and in temperate regions across the world. It is a favorite among farmers, foragers, and herbalists.  In his book, Back to Eden, herbalist, Jethro Kloss, called red clover “one of God’s greatest blessings to man.” And for good reason! This wonderful legume is edible, medicinal, and extremely useful in the garden.

We planted red clover heavily our first year at the Augusta Creek Permaculture site to aid in the transition from lawn to forest garden as it helps to force out unwanted weeds and grass. It also loosens poor, rocky, or clay soil and fixes nitrogen. We chop and drop it throughout the season to prepare areas for planting and feed other plants. It is a low-maintence, easy to grow perennial and is a favorite cover crop among farmers because it easily adapts to a variety of climates, grows quickly, and has few issues with diseases and pests.


Red clover has many medicinal uses. It is blood purifying and improves liver function. It also has antispasmodic and expectorant properties, making it helpful for coughs and other bronchial issues.

It is helpful in aiding the healing of skin problems, such as skin eruptions, eczema, psoriasis, skin growths, and fresh wounds. It is also a great herb for treating skin problems in children, as it is very gentle. Because of these properties, it is a wonderful addition to healing salves.

Red clover and nettle combine well for treatment of skin problems. This lovely clay mask is simple to make and naturally purifies oily, acne prone skin types. The clay draws out toxins and gently exfoliates. Red clover and nettle cleanse and heal problem skin.

Red Clover & Nettle Exfoliating Face Scrub

  • 1 cup betonite clay
  • 1/4 cup finely ground dry red clover blossoms
  • 1/4 cup finely ground nettle leaf

Combine ingredients and mix well. Store in a glass container with a lid.

To use: mix a small amount (1-2 teaspoons) of the clay & herb blend with water to form a paste. Apply mixture to face and massage gently into skin. Rinse with warm water. If desired, follow with an astringent facial spray (click here to learn how to make your own dandelion, cleaver & violet toner!) then a little bit of a natural moisturizer.

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