Friday, February 28, 2014

Bye Bye Stretch Marks

As the temps warm up, you'll want to show more skin but there's this one thing that keeps you a little self conscious about going bare... stretch marks!

There is an all natural approach for reducing the appearance of stretch marks, so you CAN kiss those tiger stripes goodbye. However, you must be committed for the long haul. Depending upon the cause of your stretch marks, i.e. child birth or sudden, drastic weight loss then it may take a bit longer than say having acquired stretch marks over time.

Lean in, because here's where it gets good... you won't have to come out of a wad of cash or get them surgically removed (unless you're into that sorta thing... no judgement, but it doesn't guarantee stretch marks will be fully gone, so here's a less expensive option). However if you try some of these solutions while pregnant, then you'll have greater chances of reducing the appearance of stretch marks as a pose to starting after having already given birth. Here are some quick remedies:

Shea Butter - absorbs into the skin and pores helping to 

deeply moisturize skin

Cocoa Butter - moisturizes skin and penetrates both the upper and second layer of the skin. FYI: human body has three skin layers, cocoa butter helps to penetrate more deeply

Aloe Vera - contains tons of plant collagen, which hydrates skin naturally

Vitamin E - an antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals, wrinkles and sagging. Free radicals breaks down collagen and increases the appearance of stretch marks

Coconut Oil - loaded with fatty acids, which restores collagen to the skin

Olive Oil - rich in antioxidants and vitamin E

Exfoliate (sugar scrubs, loofa or dry brushing) - helps 
circulate the lymphatic system and removes dead skin

Exercise - excellent way to tighten and tone skin

Although results may vary, usually you'll begin to notice a difference in about four weeks. If it takes longer for you, stick with it because one day you'll look up, and notice they've finally faded. When that day comes you'll feel so victorious that it'll feel like you've conquered Mount Everest.

Remember to drink plenty of water, as water is your skin's best friend, providing moisture to the skin from the inside out. It'll give your skin the glow that no cosmetic can fake.

Get started now, so you can have silky smooth skin by this spring and summer.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Herb Crush: Neem Benefits

Photo Credit: Prabhupuducherry
Every now and again, I'll write a personal profile on one of the ingredients used in our products. Today's herbal star is... neem.

This powerhouse herb is one of the core herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine, and has become a household favorite among many herbalists and "natural" companies.

Neem is a tree that grows in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemelo, Mexico, China, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and throughout Africa.  It belongs to the Maliaceae family and its scientific name is Azadiracta indica, which looks similar to the Chinaberry plant.

Neem can be taken both externally and internally, but read labels to determine which usage is best, or seek a qualified natural health professional if in doubt. Neem is great for treating problem skin thanks to its anifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antiviral properties (I know... a lot of anti's, huh). Translation, neem helps to cleanse and improves the function of the immune-system. Here's a list of neem benefits:

Neem Oil: (external use, usually)
Strengthens nails
evens skin tone
clears skin ailments (eczema, psoriasis, acne, boils, rosacea and dryness)
stimulates hair growth
treats dandruff 
treats chicken pox
treats warts
heals ringworm
improves oral health
heals poison ivy

Neem Leaves: (internal use, usually) 
regulates diabetes
enhances blood circulation (neem leaves helps regulate blood circulation)
treats gum disease
treats ulcers
improves liver function
birth control (if you are pregnant or attempting to become pregnant do not take neem)
HIV/AIDS (seek a qualified professional if seeking natural treatment using neem)
treats pink eye
treats pesticide/insecticide
anti-cancer (seek a qualified professional if seeking natural treatment using neem)

Alright, I'm gonna stop here because listing all of neem's great qualities can go on and on. 

Many natural health companies use neem as the base ingredient in toothpaste; because of its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. I've tried quite a few natural toothpaste brands, but here's a link to my favorite neem toothpaste by Himalaya.

As you see above, neem helps remedy some serious ailments; but please, please, please seek a qualified natural health professional to guide you as to how best to use. Depending on the ailment you're treating would determine the part of the plant you'd need to use. For instance, you may need to use the leaves, bark or stem in either powder, oil, leaf form or another method. As noted above in most instances the oil form is usually used externally, as the leaves are used internally in most cases. 

Neem can be used in a variety of ways for an inumerable amount of ailments. This is a brief intro into the world of neem, by all means please keep researching on your own.

For best results, seek a health care professional especially when using for babies and children.  Neem is an all natural product and there are no known side effects for using. It is safe for babies and children, but if there are any reactions discontinue use.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIY: Ancient Egyptian Sugar Wax -- Natural Hair Remover

So, in my latest natural health discovery I've learned how to make organic hair remover... OMG! This is a safe and holistic way to remove body hair, and I'll bet all three of the ingredients are already in your kitchen. This regimen removes hair for a couple of weeks, and is less painful than traditional waxing. This method, known as sugar waxing or sugaring, sticks to hair follicles and snatches them from the root. Unlike traditional waxing, sugaring doesn't stick to the skin nor causes redness and bleeding. As it turns out this is an ancient beauty regimen practiced by the Egyptians. 

I found this really good tutorial on how to make your very own sugar wax, so check it out! You'll be naturally removing hair in no time, good luck!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Discovering African Herbs

When it comes to herbalism we've at least heard about Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda (India's traditional medicine practice), Western Herbalism, Native American approach, Rainforest Herbs; but more often than not one school of thought is missing from the conversation: African Herbalism. Well, it does exist although not heavily recorded; so in the process of my herbal studies I've decided to familiarize myself with some African herbs for a balanced point of view. Exciting, because I love learning new schools of thought! Here's a list of what I've gathered so far. Feel free to share info below about these and other African herbs. Enjoy!

Yohimbe: Lost your groove, and can't get "it" going again? Well, here's a herb that'll help you get your mojo back! Most often prescribed for erectile dysfunction, this natural remedy is cultivated from the bark of the evergreen tree throughout West Africa. In other words, it can serve as a natural replacement to drugs like Viagra and Levitra. Because Yohimbe helps increase circulation to the genitals; it's been known to also help stimulate women's libido, but it should be taken in small doses due to its side effects. Speaking of which, there's a bit of controversy about this alternative bark, due to its ability to raise blood pressure and increase heart rate... hmmm, what other commercial brand of medicine does that? I'll let you decide on your own. Because of this factor, again, it should be taken in small doses (especially if you're first starting to use it), the stronger the potency the smaller your dosage should be. Visit Natural Fertility and Annie's Remedy to learn more.

Photo of moringa (Credit: Venkatx5)
Moringa: often called the "miracle tree" native to various countries throughout Africa, moringa helps to boost the immune system as it boasts seven times the vitamin C than oranges. The plant is nutrient dense, and serves as a complete protein source. Moringa also grows in other tropical regions throughout Asia, South America and the Caribbeans. In Ayurveda, this plant helps treat more than 300 diseases. It is a natural antibiotic, antiviral, anti-infammatory, antioxidant, and increases cell regeneration helping to keep skin looking firm and youthful. It's a pretty rich source of iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, B, and C. Complete moringa benefits can go on and on and on and on (ok, you get the idea), but if you want more info about this herbal powerhouse check out Dobby's Signature blog, a Nigerian food blog, but this particular post delves deep into moringa's many benefits.

Gotu Kola: this plant grows naturally in South Africa and also grows in the tropics and sub-tropic regions of India, China and South America. Gotu Kola is one of the prized herbs in the Ayurvedic medicine because of its many health benefits. Hmmm, those benefits include: boosting the immune system, reducing fevers, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-allergenic, improves memory, antioxidant, helps alleviate skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, cuts, burns, ulcers, etc.), it helps to naturally increase collagen production when used on the skin. But, it's most known for being a nervine, helping to regulate the nervous system. It's caffeine free and is not a stimulant. The herb helps to purify the blood, improves circulation, balances sugar and helps with liver and kidney issues. This herb has a bounty of health and beauty benefits, and although I've listed a lot here, this is just scratching the surface of this plant. Gotu Kola is a powerful herb and should be used under the guidance of a qualified health professional (Ayurvedic practitioner, naturopathic doctor, etc). Learn more about Gotu Kola's healing benefits and visit the Indian Mirror and National Center for Biotechnology Information

Rooibos Tea (photo credit: Kenpei)
Rooibos: Rooibos also called Red Bush Tea is surprisingly caffeine free making it safe for women who are preggers and children. It's loaded with antioxidants and minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese and zinc. It helps calm an upset stomach, (I'm talking nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps etc.). Rooibos has low tannins, therefore it helps the body absorb iron, unlike black teas which blocks iron absorption due to its high tannin amounts. This herb is native to South Africa, it has gained popularity for its ability to fight against disease, including cancer. For more information about Rooibos check out the Turtle Woman Blog.

Hoodia: Harvested in South Africa, this herb is most noted as a natural appetite suppressant. Its scientific name is hoodia gordonii which consists of compound molecules (nucleotides) which send signals to the brain that you're full, which in turn helps to reduce calorie intake. Because of its unfavorable taste, this plant naturally repels insects. One of the leading drug companies isolated its weight loss component, P57 and used in its diet pills, but has since discontinued use. There are no known side effects, however getting your hands on this concentrated plant would be either pricey or difficult as hoodia is threatened with extinction for over harvesting. As a result, many companies claim to contain hoodia in its ingredients list, but offer knock off versions. Hoodia also has been used for indigestion and minor infections.

There're much more info from where this came, check out: African-American Slave Medicine. This book shares the traditional herbal practices African-Americans used during slavery. In addition to reveling the holistic approaches of that time, it also includes research further explaining the reasons why the practices were being used.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Herb Crush: Lemon Balm

Herbs have several uses and benefits, and after you discover the many uses of lemon balm you'll understand why it's a favorite among many Western herbalists. At a glance, here are the top five benefits of lemon balm, but this in no way an exhaustive list of its benefits.
Image courtesy of Datkins

Antioxidant: keeps cells from aging, helping you to look younger
Nervine: relieves anxiety, stress and insomnia
Anti-inflammatory: arthritis and allergies, works similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Anti-viral: cold, flu and viral infections (cold sores, chicken pox, herpes and shingles)
Anti-spasmodic: mild muscle relaxant, soothes muscle tension and cramps

The benefits of lemon balm are continuous, to learn more about this wonder herb, read EarthSeed Detroit Blog for a full herbal profile.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

5 Natural Tips for Treating Puffy Eyes and Dark Circles

Trying to treat under eye bags and puffiness can feel hopeless after having tried almost every solution possible. Relax and try again until you get to the root of what's causing it, which can be any variety of reasons from an unhappy gut, poor diet, medication, vitamin deficiency, stress a lack of sleep the list keeps going. Speaking of sleep, that is the absolute BEST remedy, nothing can help cure drooping eyes like sleep and reducing stress.

Other probable causes could be your body responding to too much alcohol and salt both of which lead to water retention and can provoke swelling. Allergies and sinuses are often the main culprits for the appearance of puffy eyes and swelling. If this is the case for you, stop eating whatever is causing the flare ups. On the other hand, mucous causing foods: dairy, wheat and gluten are oftentimes the main agents for causing puffiness and dark circles. The excess mucous in your body stores fat deposits, which can lead to the under eye poof. In my experience, when I ate less wheat and dairy (I'm soooo trying to stop eating wheat 100% of the time, but I'm 80% there) my puffiness began to clear up more rapidly. Well, whatever your cause (I suggest you to get to the root, you'll be happy you did), here are a some suggestions on how to get this resolved. Pay close attention to your body to see what is and isn't working. 

TIP 1: Used coffee filters, well if you're still brewing your coffee in the pot (the old fashioned way), thanks to the advent of the Keurig, then this solution may work. If old fashioned, then after brewing a pot of fresh roasted coffee, remove the filter and give it some time to drain or squeeze the remaining liquids out. Cover it in plastic wrap and place it on your eye lids for at least 5-10 minutes daily (if really eyes are reeeally puffy and/or heavy dark circles) or a at least three times a week if it's not so severe. You can also place drained coffee filters in the freezer until their frozen, then place the filters over your eyes. This method is very soothing, and I experienced more rapid results with continued use.

TIP 2: Used tea bags, same as above strain a couple of used tea bags and apply to your eyes. You can also freeze the tea bags to offer a cooling effect and additional relief. Peppermint and green tea are the best teas to use in this instance.

TIP 3: Turmeric milk, pour in ice tray and freeze until they become cubes then place the cubes over your eyes. Turmeric is rich with anti-inflammatory properties, which will help to reduce the under eye swell. Create your very own turmeric milk which is REEEEALLLY easy to do and has plenty amazing benefits, check out the recipe and learn more about its benefits at Frugally Sustainable.  

TIP 4: Moisturize, I mean specifically under and your eyes. Massage your moisturizer around your eyes in a circular motion. 

TIP 5: Apply moisturizers at night, such as coconut, vitamin-E oil or lanolin. Using your fingertips massage 1-3 drops of either one of these oils around your eyes. In the morning, rinse using a warm face towel before washing your face. Personally, this method has yielded me the absolute best and most immediate results.

Of course there are more than five ways to beautify your eyes, so check back soon to find out more tips on how to kiss the under eye puff goodbye. I'll also update this post and share reasons why and how these natural tips work. In the meantime, leave a comment below and share your tips as well.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Boil Busting Natural Remedies

Boils are usually caused by clogged sweat glands or hair follicles that have become infected. Although contaminated ingrown hair can also be the cause, people with an already compromised immune system are most susceptible. Good news is there are several home remedies to get this squared away:

Bentonite Clay
Bentonite Clay: Combine water and Bentonite clay until it forms a paste-like texture (poultice), then apply on the affected area. The clay will dry, and then pull the toxins from the boil. Reapply this poultice once its dried out. NOTE: do not mix clay with metal flatware or dishware, as contact with metal can change the clay's chemical composition. Buy Bentonite clay at your local health store or purchase at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Activated charcoal
Activated Charcoal: Just as the above poultice is created, add water to activated charcoal mix together until it forms a paste texture. Then gently rub it on the boil and cover with a gauge. Once the concoction dries out; repeat this step so that the poultice remains moist and continues to have its healing drawing properties. You can buy activated charcoal at your local health food store, or online from Bulk Herb Store. Just like Bentonite Clay, activated charcoal will suck up toxins like a magnet, as its negative ion charge attracts positive ions like heavy metals, pathogens, toxins and harmful bacteria. Note, mostly all disease and infections have positive ionic charge.So both clays and charcoal tend to literally suck the junk out of you.

Raw Propolis
Propolis: This sticky resin, collected by bees, is most touted for its skin healing abilities, as it is a natural antibiotic. This poultice can be created by pouring a little hot water over propolis, so that the poultice is more pliable, apply to the area then cover with a dressing cloth.

If you don’t have any of these items on hand, try a using potato by cutting a slice and placing it on top of the boil, which will draw puss from an already draining boil. You can also use apple cider vinegar to help sterilize it, simply pour it over the draining boil. To reduce the stinging feeling mix a small amount of water to the vinegar. Buy propolis at your local health food store or online at iHerb.

Meanwhile, give your immune system a boost by eating more vitamin-C rich veggies and fruit, such as: oranges, dark green leafy vegetables, tangerines, strawberries, etc.). Find these ingredients at your local health food store or farmers market. Remember to thoroughly wash hands and clothes that have come in contact with the boil to avoid further contamination.

Both Bentonite clay and activated charcoal can be used internally to help further rid the body of invasive toxins. Do not take either within two hours of eating food, as both Bentonite clay and activated charcoal may interfere with the effectiveness of some medications, so ask your health care provider how long it takes for your medications to absorb and verify whether it's alright to take these natural remedies after your medications have been absorbed. If pregnant or planning to become pregnant consult your caregiver first. Got questions or want to share your experience using these home remedies, please share below.

Monday, February 3, 2014

When Life Throws You Lemons... Have a Cup of Tea

We all know how stress can negatively impact health, but it also wreaks havoc on your beauty.  From wrinkles, dull skin to under eye bags... oh and not to mention dark circles, puffy eyes and stress marks in the forehead;  so when life is throwing you lemons, grab a cup of tea (one of the  below perhaps) to help you keep your nerves and yourself together.

Found this cool infographic that breaks it down quite simply.