All posts by Stephanie Phillips

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

In our house Apple Cider Vinegar is a staple.   We drink it, use it for cooking, cleaning and even to balance the pH of my hair.  Check out some of the wonderful benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar in this blog.

Apple cider vinegar lowers glucose levels, and may be helpful for diabetics. It has also been touted as a weight-loss aid, as it is said to help you feel fuller and eat less. The enzymes in apple cider vinegar also promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, and can help regulate candida issues.

Apple cider vinegar can also be very helpful in reducing gas and bloating. Just take a tablespoon of ACV diluted in water or tea before a meal. It can also help aleviate symptoms of heartburn. Take a dose as soon as you feel heartburn symptoms coming on.

Apple Cider Vinegar, despite its acidic taste actually promotes alkalinity in the body. Since  cancer cannot live in an alkaline body, the primary way to heal many ailments is by bringing the body into an alkaline state which makes it an inhospitable environment for cancer.

How to take apple cider vinegar orally: Mix 1 tablespoon with a cup of water or herbal tea. (Apple cider vinegar is quite strong, and when taken straight can be harsh on the esophagus, so you’ll want to dilute it).   We also add some Himalayan Salt and Tumeric for an added mineral and nutrient boost.

And, of course, apple cider vinegar is a classic salad dressing ingredient, which you can definitely get a little creative with! While olive oil, the most commonly used oil for salad dressing, it is not recommended, you can mix your ACV with flax oil, avocado oil, lemon or orange juice, and perhaps even whirl it all together in a blender with a clove of garlic and fresh ground pepper and Himalayan Salt to taste.

Here is one of my favorite ACV dressing recipes:

Honey Chia Seed Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. himalayan salt

Finding Quality Apple Cider Vinegar

The quality of the Apple Cider Vinegar that you use is important.  First you have to get ACV with the “Mother”.  The Mother of Vinegar which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules.    In ACV particularly, “the mother” is a complex structure of beneficial acids that seem to have health benefits. Unrefined vinegars have a murky appearance and typically still contain the mother culture. Clear and pasteurized vinegars typically do not contain the mother culture and don’t carry the same benefits.  Second you need to make sure that the ACV that you get comes from Organic Sources.  Refined and clear vinegars are great for cleaning as they don’t leave residue. Raw, unfiltered and unrefined versions contain many more beneficial properties for culinary uses.

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar is the brand we use almost exclusively for eating and cooking.  I totally love the whole Bragg Brand and what they stand for.  This information is an excerpt from Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System.  I highly recommend this and other books written by the Bragg family.  Here is a link if you would like to purchase the book.  http://bragg.com/zencart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8&products_id=22

Research worldwide supports and commends what Hippocrates (the father of medicine) found and treated his patients with in 400 B.C. He discovered that natural, undistilled Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV)* is a powerful cleansing and healing elixir, “a naturally occurring antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs and bacteria” for a healthier, stronger, longer life!

The versatility of ACV as a powerful body cleansing agent is legendary. It’s been traced to Egyptian urns as far back as 3000 B.C. The Babylonians used it as a condiment and preservative, while Julius Caesar’s army used ACV tonic to stay healthy and fight off disease. The Greeks and Romans kept vinegar vessels for healing and flavoring. It was used in Biblical times as an antiseptic and a healing agent and is mentioned in the Bible. In Paris during the Middle Ages, it was sold from barrels by street vendors as a body deodorant, healing tonic and a health vinegar drink.

Even Christopher Columbus and his crew on his voyage to discover America in 1492 had their vinegar barrels for prevention of scurvy as did the soldiers in the American Civil War. For centuries in Japan, the feared Samurai warriors drank it for strength and power. ACV has been used for thousands of years not only for health reasons, but also as a cleansing agent to remove bacteria, germs, odors, and even stains and spots.”

ACV – Mother Nature’s Perfect Food

Natural (undistilled) organic, raw ACV can really be called one of Mother Nature’s most perfect foods. It is made from fresh, crushed apples which are then allowed to mature naturally in wooden barrels, as wood seems to “boost” the natural fermentation. Natural ACV should be rich, brownish color and if held to the light you might see a tiny formation of “cobweb-like” substances that we call the “mother.” Usually some “mother” will show in the bottom of the ACV bottle the more it ages. It never needs refrigeration. You can also save some “mother” and transfer it to work in other natural vinegars. When you smell natural ACV, there’s a pungent odor and sometimes it’s so ripened it puckers your mouth and smarts your eyes. These are natural, good signs.

Why Has Natural Apple Cider Vinegar Disappeared from Grocers’ Shelves?

The blame for the disappearance of natural raw Apple Cider Vinegar from supermarkets lies on the shoulders of the general public, as well as the producers of vinegar.

Most people buy food with their eyes, not thinking of good nutrition. The vinegar producers failed to enlighten the public on what powerful health qualities were locked within natural ACV. Why? Because most of them had not the slightest knowledge of the health values of natural, organic, unfiltered, cloudy (and to some, less attractive-looking) Apple Cider Vinegar with the “mother.” They produced pasteurized, refined and distilled vinegars because the public demanded the clear look. It was simply filling current supply and demand.

Powerful Health Qualities Removed

You cannot completely blame the producers of vinegar. They are not nutritionists, nor are they biochemists. Their business is to give the customers what they want. Most people purchase vinegar for flavoring, also for pickling and marinating their foods. Some women use it to rinse their hair after shampooing, as it leaves it squeaky clean, softer and much easier to manage.

ACV is also a germ fighter in the home, lab, etc.. Some mix it with water to wash windows, as it removes sludge and keeps them sparkling clean. ACV has hundreds of uses and its versatility is legendary as a powerful household cleansing and deodorizing agent free of dangerous chemicals.

ACV Has Powerful Health Qualities

Both the general public and the producers of vinegar have been informed as to the powerful health qualities of organic, raw, unfiltered, fully ripened ACV. Ignorance isn’t always bliss! When most people see natural apple cider vinegar with the brownish color and the tiny, cobweb “mother” floating in it, they think it looks unappetizing. The general public has been educated and brainwashed to want everything they purchase to have perfect eye appeal!

To meet this demand of clear, light-colored vinegar sans the brownish, cobweb “mother” is the reason producers distill their vinegar. In distilling, the vinegar is turned to steam by heating, thus destroying the powerful enzymes and evaporating the life-giving minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, natural organic fluorine, silicon, trace minerals and pectin as well as many other powerful nutrients! Distilling also destroys the natural malic and tartaric acids which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria.

You can see how the public, with their obsession for eye appeal foods, reacts. The producers of Apple Cider Vinegar, who agree to sell their product for a profit, put a death warrant against healthy, organic, raw, fully ripened ACV. The public got what they wanted—a clear, appealing, but dead ACV. When natural ACV was hard to find, other strange vinegars began to appear on grocery shelves. The first was malt vinegar, a refined vinegar. It’s clear and acceptable to the public. It tastes like vinegar, but has none of the healing qualities of natural, raw ACV.

The universally accepted #1 fruit, the apple, is popular across America and around the world. Early American settlers, the Pilgrims, brought apples to America in the early 1600’s and became Johnny Appleseeders, starting apple orchards that eventually spread throughout America.

Commercial Vinegars are Real Tragedies

Then came the real tragedy: a food chemist produced an imitation vinegar from coal tar! It looked clean, white and tasted like vinegar. Today it’s the most popular vinegar in supermarkets. It’s cheaper than distilled vinegar or malt vinegar. Most people buy these worthless vinegars. There is nothing redeeming about commercial vinegars, besides their clean look and vinegar-like taste. They have no health value! They don’t contain the health values of organic, raw ACV with the mother. Millions worldwide never get the health benefits of this natural ACV as Hippocrates used in 400 B.C.

ACV Helps Stiffness Vanish from Body

You will find, after several months of ACV and honey cocktail taken 3 times daily that the stiffness and misery will be gone from your joints and body. You will discover you can walk or run up several flights of stairs without any effort and pain! You will notice that you look and feel younger!

Make The Bragg Healthy Lifestyle a life-long daily habit! Over the years we have seen many stiff-jointed, prematurely old people transform themselves into new, youthful, healthy people! We can’t do it for you. You must make the effort to give this ACV and honey program a chance to prove what it can do for you!

Question About Apple Cider Vinegar

Many people have some preconceived idea that Apple Cider Vinegar is harmful to the body. However, it is actually the distilled, pasteurized, filtered, malt and synthetic dead vinegars that must be avoided for human consumption!

Let us assure you that there is nothing in this wonderful, organic, raw ACV that can in any way harm your body! People ask us about the merits and benefits of ACV. See the inside front cover for a list of some of the miracles it can perform.

Animal proteins and fats have a tendency to thicken the blood, while natural acids and enzymes in ACV help to keep the blood healthier and thinner. Also, that’s why people naturally crave and serve cranberry sauce (which contains four different natural acids) with turkey and fowl. They serve applesauce with roast pork dishes, a slice of lemon with fish, or mushrooms with steak —all rich in natural acids.

Organic Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

 

On a chilly morning there is nothing better than a nice bowl of steamy hot oatmeal.  I must admit that over the years the main source was from those little Quaker Oat instant oatmeal packs.  Strawberries and Cream was my favorite, I probably went through a box a week.

Now-a-Days I focus on whole nutrition, real foods and making most everything from scratch.  So unfortunately, no more quick oats, only the steel cut kind.  So why steel cut oats?  Well the difference lies in how processed the oat is and what nutrients are left over after the processing.  Steel cut oats, also called coarse oatmeal or Irish oats are made by chopping the groats of whole oats into two or three pieces.  This is why steel cut oats take the longest to make.  Rolled oats take it a step further and roll the oats into a flat version of the groats.  Instant oats take it even further by steaming and rolling the oats.  Instant oats cook so quickly because you are not really cooking them, you as simply warming and rehydrating them.  I prefer the Steel Cut version because it is the least processed edible version of the oat.  Just remember that you cannot use these oats interchangeable in most recipes as the outcome will not be the same.

The nutritional benefits of oats are amazing and then you have the added benefits of the endless topping options.  This recipe calls for Apples & Cinnamon but you can add almonds, almond butter, bananas, berries, cacao nibs, shredded coconut, dates, honey, pure maple syrup, pecans, pumpkin seeds, raisins….I could go on forever.  The nutritional benefits are listed below for each of the ingredients.

Another reason I love this recipe is because it is kid approved, super easy and you can make it up to 3 days in advance to save some time on those busy mornings.

 

ORGANIC CINNAMON APPLE STEEL CUT OATS

Yield: 4 Servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cup almond, cashew, coconut or hemp milk unsweetened
  • 1 ½ tbs honey
  • 1 cup organic steel cut oats
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 tbs hemp seeds

Directions:

This recipe is super easy and nutritious.  All you have to do is mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Then you place the oats in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a minimum of 10 hours.  The oats can sit refrigerated for up to 3 days.  So that is three whole days worth of breakfast ready to go.

Now when you are ready to eat your oats, simply get a serving out and eat cold, you can even add some more nut milk of your choice, like you would a bowl of cereal.  You can also warm on the stove at a low temperature for a piping hot bowl.  Just be sure to stir constantly so it doesn’t stick to the pot.

In the first few days the oats will be nice and chewy like Muesli.  The longer you leave your oats to sit, the softer they will be.  I find them to be perfect after two nights but try at different times so you can see what is best for your preference.

CHECK OUT THE NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF EACH INGREDIENT BELOW.

APPLES:

Scientific Name: Malus domestica

The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” might just turn out to be a pretty true cliché. Apple nutrition benefits include the ability to improve your digestion — thanks to being one of best high-fiber foods — lower disease-causing inflammation, improve heart health and help you better manage your weight. Plus, apples make a great, portable post- or pre-workout snack thanks to their quick-releasing natural sugars than can raise your energy.

With a diverse family of phytonutrients present in apple pulp and skin, some studies have linked the consumption of apples with a reduced risk of certain forms of cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease and even diabetes.  A medium size apple contains:

Vitamin C: 14% RDI

Potassium: 6% RDI

Vitamin K:  5% RDI

Vitamin B6:  4% RDI

Manganese: 3% RDI

 

CHIA SEEDS:

Scientific Name: Salvia hispanica

Bottom line: Chia seeds are an excellent source of many essential minerals, but a poor source of vitamins. They are high in manganese, phosphorus, copper, selenium, iron, magnesium and calcium.  The absorption of some minerals, such as iron and zinc, may be reduced because of the phytic acid content of chia seeds.

Calcium: 18% RDI

Phosphorus: 27% RDI

Manganese: 30% RDI

CINNAMON:

There are two main types of cinnamon:

  1. Scientific Name: Cinnamomum verum or Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as “true” cinnamon.
  2. Scientific Name: Cinnamomum cassia or Cassia cinnamon: This is the more common variety today, what people generally refer to as “cinnamon.”

Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. The inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed from it.  The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oily part, which is very high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde.  It is this compound that is responsible for most of cinnamon’s powerful effects on health and metabolism.

A little bit of cinnamon goes a long way, and its antioxidant abilities are what makes it especially beneficial to include in your diet. As little as ½ teaspoon of cinnamon daily can have positive effects on blood sugar levels, digestion, immunity and more; however, stronger doses are also extremely beneficial for improving heart disease risk and cutting your risk of diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Manganese: 68% RDI

Calcium: 8% RDI

Iron: 4% RDI

Vitamin K: 3% RDI

 

HEMP SEEDS:

Scientific Name:  Cannabis sativa

In it’s perfect organic natural state hemp seed is considered by many to be the safest, most digestible, balanced, natural and complete source of protein, amino acids, and essential fats found anywhere in nature.

Phosphorus: 33% RDI

Potassium: 14% RDI

Magnesium: 34% RDI

Calcium: 5% RDI

Iron: 20% RDI

Manganese: 60% RDI

Zinc: 14% RDI

Copper 15% RDI

STEEL CUT OATS:

Scientific Name: Avena sativa

Both rolled oats and steel cut oats come from the same whole cereal grain. The real difference is in how, and how much they are processed. Known in their whole form as “groats,” both have been separated from their hard outer “hull” to become oats. They still include both the germ (where the healthy, unsaturated fat lives) and the endosperm (where all of that gut happy fiber and protein lies). They’re also both high in B and E vitamins.

The nutrient composition of oats is well-balanced. They are a good source of carbs and fiber, including the powerful fiber beta-glucan.  Oats are high in the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which has numerous benefits. It helps reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, promotes healthy gut bacteria and increases feelings of fullness.

They also contain more protein and fat than most grains.  Oats contain many powerful antioxidants, including avenanthramides. These compounds may help reduce blood pressure and provide other benefits.  Oats are loaded with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidant plant compounds. Half a cup (78 grams) of dry oats contains:

Manganese: 191% of the RDI

Phosphorus: 41% of the RDI

Magnesium: 34% of the RDI

Copper: 24% of the RDI

Iron: 20% of the RDI

Zinc: 20% of the RDI

Folate: 11% of the RDI

Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 39% of the RDI

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10% of the RDI

Smaller amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B3 (niacin)

Breastfeeding…Part 1: The Basics…

So this blog has been a long time coming…This is going to be an entire series as there is a lot that goes into breastfeeding…as simple as it seems…and I want you to be completely informed.  I will try to keep it as short and sweet as possible…I’m starting this very late as my LO is just over 24 months old…that being said, it has been a very interesting adventure, so here we go.

During my entire pregnancy I knew that I was going to breastfeed for at least the first year.  It only makes sense…our bodies are designed very ingeniously, as I’m sure you are well aware…especially if you have ever grown or are currently growing a miniature human inside of you.  Since my body makes milk for a baby human, why would I ever steal another mama’s milk unless it was the only way for my child to survive…Survival is why you often times see dogs, cats, pigs and other animals being nurtured by another species…its only out of necessity…not because it is natural.  That is what we are trying to get back to…the way our bodies naturally & optimally function.

Let me give you a disclaimer before I get too deep into my opinions on the subject…

I am not judging you…if you have tried to feed your child and they couldn’t latch or if you couldn’t produce milk (although there are great ways to increase milk flow…another blog in the making.).  I’m not even judging you if you went straight to formula without even trying to breastfeed.  It is only my place to inform…all I am trying to do is make sure that as many mamas are informed as possible and make the right decision for themselves and their lil ones…since the benefits to you both will be vast and I really believe this is a way to heal the species…by FEEDING our BABIES & BODIES…RIGHT from the START!!…

So How Does It All Work??

So you have this baby that you created and now it is here, waiting for food…love and diaper changes too but mostly food.  Well just like every other function of your body, hormones play a big role in ensuring your milk production.  Prompted by the hormone prolactin, the alveoli take proteins, sugars, and fat from your blood supply and make breast milk.   A network of cells surrounding the alveoli squeeze the glands and push the colostrum and then milk out into the ductules, which lead to a bigger duct.

Your baby stimulates nerve endings by suckling at your breast. This causes the hormone oxytocin to be released into your bloodstream. Oxytocin then makes the muscles around the milk-making (glandular) tissue in your breasts contract, pushing the milk into the milk ducts, and out through the nipple openings in your nipple.. This causes the hormone oxytocin to be released into your bloodstream. Oxytocin then makes the muscles around the milk-making (glandular) tissue in your breasts contract, pushing the milk into the milk ducts, and out through the nipple openings in your nipple.  The oxytocin also helps mom to be calm and relaxed through the feeding process.

Colostrum…at the very least…

Colostrum is the perfect nutrition tailored to the needs of your newborn.  Your breasts produce colostrum during pregnancy (if you noticed any leaking…it was colostrum) and continuing for about 2-4 days after birth. It is yellow to orange in color and thick and sticky.  Colostrum is extremely easy to digest, low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep your baby healthy.  While there isn’t much of it, it is high in concentrated nutrition and very important for your newborn. Colostrum has a gentle laxative effect that helps your LO pass stool and also aids in the prevention of jaundice.

It is extremely important to breastfeed your newborn at least 8-12 times (approximately every 2-2.5 hours) for the first few days, and more is even better. This allows your baby to get all the benefits of the colostrum and also stimulates production of a plentiful supply of mature milk. Frequent breastfeeding also helps prevent engorgement.  I will talk more about engorgement later but trust me…it is to be avoided if at all possible…it is not pleasant.

Better than any vaccine colostrum contains large quantities of the antibody IgA and actually works as a natural and 100% safe immune booster.  Colostrum also plays an important role in the baby’s gastrointestinal tract. A newborn’s intestines are very permeable. Colostrum seals the holes of the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier that  prevents foreign substances from penetrating and sensitizing a baby to foods the mother has eaten.  Colostrum also contains high concentrations of leukocytes, protective white cells which can destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

During the first two weeks, as the colostrum changes to mature milk, the concentration of antibodies in your milk will decrease and the volume of milk will increase.  Even though the colostrum decreases the disease-fighting properties do not.

As long as your baby is drinking human milk, they will receive immunological protection against many viruses and bacteria.

That is the scientific way it all works…as for my experience it has been a very interesting roller coaster of emotions and physical changes.   Luckily I understand what my body is doing and I understand the importance to my growing LO…so I make adjustments and I sacrifice…something that you will come to discover goes along with parenting…

So that is how it works…but how does it benefit you and your LO?

NEXT BLOG IN SERIES:  Breastfeeding…Part 2: Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mama

 

 

The Ancient Cleanse

I have to start this by stating as I have many times before, that this is not my recipe.  I cannot for the life of me find the man that I got it from but it is pure magic when trying to cleanse the body.

I would also like to note that before doing this cleanse be aware that their are side effects to cleansing that are sometimes not very pleasant…headaches, nausea, cramping, blurry vision….what do you expect, you have been toxic for a while.  That is why you need to jpay attention to your body and adjust your cleanse if you are moving too quickly.

How do you know you are moving too quickly?  You experience any symptoms that make you feel uncomfortable…if you do then you need to slow down by simply eating some food.   Make sure it is still healthy alkaline foods but it will help the process slow down.  Also make sure that you drink lots and lots of water.  This will help with the symptoms as well since it is flushing those nasty toxins out.

Shilajit will also help since it will give you the minerals that you need to remove the toxins as well.  Read more about Shilajit Here.

ANCIENT CLEANSE INSTRUCTIONS: The cleanse is really simple, All you have to do is blend three servings of juice in the morning and drink it throughout the day.  It will keep you full and for those sugar and protein cravings, you get to snack on apples and almonds throughout the day as well.  I found that this greatly helps with the cravings and need to just simply chew something.  You will also drink water with lemon throughout the day to help flush toxins and keep you well hydrated.

Supplies you will need to have on hand

  • Blender
  • Distilled Water
  • 3 Mason Jars (16 oz) or equivalent
  • Raw Honey
  • Organic Raw Cacao Powder

 These items will be your snacks throughout cleanse

  • Raw Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Lemons with Distilled Water
  • Organic Apples

These items will need to be fresh so will require stopping by a store a few items throughout 10 day cleanse

  • 2 bunch of Organic Kale
  • 2 bunch of Organic Spinach
  • 3 bunch of Organic Cilantro
  • 3 bunch of Organic Parsley
  • 2 bunch of Organic Mint
  1. Combine one handful of each-kale, spinach, cilantro into blender
  2. Add one half a handful of each-parsley & mint into blender
  3. Add 1tbs raw honey and 1tbs cacao to blender
  4. Add distilled water and blend
  5. Pour into mason jars and consume throughout the day.

DIAPERING & SKINCARE


This blog is an excerpt from another blog that I did all about Newborn & Baby Skincare.  If you would like to read the entire article click here.   This article will focus specifically on diapering and pampering your baby’s bottom.

DIAPERING

I must admit that I did not make an investment in Newborn cloth diapers.  I did receive 2 as a gift but obviously that isn’t enough for a full day.  You should actually have enough for 2 days incase something comes up and you can’t get to the wash, that means 24 minimum.  I did use the NB cloth diapers I had daily along with disposable ones.  Ok so this isn’t a blog about cloth vs disposable diapers (I’m working on that one too…so many blogs so little time) but I do need to address possible diaper allergies since we are on the topic of skincare.

Contact dermatitis

Disposable diapers are quite possibly the reason for your little ones red bum.  No seriously, they are filled with materials that are not only possible allergens but also known to be toxic.  Irritation caused by constant contact to these irritants or allergens is known as Contact dermatitis.

Common Allergens in Disposable Diapers that cause Contact dermatitis:

  • Dioxins-the residue left over after using chlorine to make the diaper material white.  According to the WHO (World Health Organization) Dioxins are highly carcinogenic and exposer can cause skin reactions, altered liver function and disrupts the immune, endocrine, nervous and reproductive functions.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate-this super absorbent compound is a mixture of cellulose from trees and crystals from polyacrylate.  You may have seen it before, it looks like little jelly crystals on the baby’s skin.  It was removed from tampons because of toxicity concerns, only to be reintroduced in diapers.  There are not long term studies but it is said to be linked to skin irritation and respiratory problems.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT)-according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)-These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some VOCs are even suspected of causing cancer in humans (EPA.gov).
  • Other Yucky Stuff-Other skin irritating chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, plastics, latex and petrolatum’s. Adhesive chemicals are used in the sticky tabs to close the diapers and dyes are used to color and make the patterns and labels that mark diapers. Perfumes and fragrances are used in some disposable diapers to help mask odors.

There are a few ways to tell if the irritation is caused by Contact dermatitis.

  • The rash can take up to 2 days to appear after contact with irritant
  • Redness is accompanied by bumps, puss or blisters that cannot be resolved with diaper rash
  • No matter how many times you change your little ones diaper or how dry he/she is, the irritation will not go away
  • Irritation is not limited to areas that pee and poo are present, ie the area on the tummy where the waist band rubs
  • Irritation is only present on contact areas and does not spread

This can most easily be remedied by changing the brand of diapers that you use.  We have been using Babyganics brand diapers, they are free of chlorine, latex, petroleum and fragrances.  I started with Honest and they work about the same but Babyganics is more pocket friendly.  Of course the best, most earth-friendly option will be the cloth diapers.  Cotton or Bamboo fabrics are best for babies sensitive skin.

Irritant Diaper Dermatitis better known as Diaper Rash

Irritant Diaper Dermatitis or Diaper Rash is caused when moisture is trapped between two skin surfaces.  It is due to infrequently changed diapers, diarrhea, new foods and allergies.  My lil guy goes through about 8-12 diapers a day.  I simply change him as needed when he is awake and every time he wakes up from a nap.  That being said, he still sometimes has a little red on his bottom after a poo.

Diaper rash usually clears up in 1-3 days when diaper is kept dry.  Topical ointments can be applied to provide a barrier from the moisture and to help soothe the irritation.  Most over the counter products will contain petroleum jelly.  Harmless right?  Wrong!!  Although it has been used as a cure all for many years, it is a by-product of the oil industry and has been known to have carcinogenic effects.  This simply stated means that it has the potential to cause cancer.  Its purity cannot be guaranteed as the refining is not regulated.  Petroleum jelly also clogs the pores not allowing skin to breathe, one of the skins most important functions.  So my take on this is stay away from it.  There are plenty of unharmful and renewable natural alternatives.

I like coconut oil because it is anti-bacterial  & anti-fungal and use it on a regular basis just for general maintenance.  It works great for minor irritations caused by wet diapers.  When my LO has his poopie days (breastfed babies do not necessarily go #2 everyday) he gets a little irritated on his bum.  On those days I use Baby Bee Bum Butter from Walnut Hollow Workshop.  Love this stuff, it makes his bum go from red to taupe in no time flat.  Even better all the ingredients are natural & beneficial.  You can get it from the Fredericksburg Farmers Market.

BABY BEE BUM BUTTER
BABY BEE BUM BUTTER

Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are full of the nasties…there are some good brands that have natural ingredients with out all the toxic ones.  I found an awesome blog from Safe Mama, that goes over all of the ‘Safer’ baby wipes.  These are however very expensive.  An alternative is to just make your own at home.

I don’t use anything special to wipe his bum only simple ingredients.  I mix some castile soap and water on a baby wash cloth (I use different wash cloths for diapering and bathing).  I wipe his bottom, let it air dry and toss the soiled wash cloth in a wet bag for washing within 48 hours.  I like this option for two reasons, 1) It is earth and tree friendly and 2) It is inexpensive.

That being said, disposable wipes are so convenient, especially when you are out and about and they still save tons of money.  Here is a recipe for Natural Homemade Baby Wipes from Wellness Mama that I just love.  I actually recommend you bookmark her site, it is great.  The most important thing to remember is that you need to always make small batches.  Enough for 1 to 2 days only, after 48 hours water will start to grow bacteria even with essential oils.

THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE…BOYS!  Just not their circumcisions…Ouch!!

No seriously!  I’m glad I have 2 boys.  Ok well except for the circumcision part…ouch!  I’m not going to get into my opinion on this but since it is such a common practice and it is skin, I will get into the care.  When my first son was born, he was circumcised in the hospital.  I can only imagine being whisked away from your mothers arms and taken into a room with strangers that hold you down and cut off a piece of your skin.  Only to be left with a raw, tender wound that is left to sit in a closed diaper, stinging every time you pee.

I’m not judging either way….one of my boys is circumcised, the other is not.  If you do choose circumcision it does require special cleaning & care for the first 7-10 days.  Since the wound will most surely come in contact with urine & poo, it is imperative that you clean the area well.  Do not use soap.  All you need is warm, NOT hot, WARM water.   You should come home with a peri bottle.

PERI BOTTLE

If you did not, you can get one from your local drug store.  Please don’t take the baby in a drug store, ever if you can avoid it.  Obviously because sick people go there to get medications & prescriptions.  Just put warm water into the peri bottle and squirt the area to remove any yucky bits.  Please be careful not to get the umbilical cord wet.  It is important that it dries, as noted earlier.

Let the area air dry, you can fan with a diaper too.  Change the diaper constantly,  sitting in urine is the worst thing for irritation.  It is very important to apply a lubricant that will keep urine off of the irritation as well as keep it from sticking to the diaper, ouch!  As noted previously I don’t use petroleum based products because of its carcinogenic nature.  Besides it is not a renewable resource therefore not earth friendly.  I don’t know about you but I would like my LO to have a planet to live on.  Anyways, enough on my tree hugging tangent…yes…I hug trees and so will my LO.

There are a few natural remedies to help calm the irritation and help the wound heal faster.  As I wrote earlier, Coconut Oil is like magic for irritation because of its calming & anti bacterial properties. You can simply dab some on a cotton make-up pad and apply to the tip at every change.  This will keep the area moisturized and from sticking to the diaper.  It will also keep the area germ free.

Coconut Oil & Organic Cotton Make-up Pads
Coconut Oil & Organic Cotton Make-up Pads

You can also melt some beeswax in a double boiler & add coconut oil for an extra barrier from moisture.  I would use a mixture of 1 part beeswax to 6 parts coconut oil.  You can adjust the formula but don’t make it too hard because you want it to smooth on easily with out much resistance on the skin.  Make sure you melt the beeswax first as it has a much higher melting point than the Coconut Oil.  Then add the Coconut Oil at the end.

Beeswax Melting with Coconut Oil
Beeswax Melting with Coconut Oil

Give it a good stir and pour into an airtight glass lid and it will keep for a year or two as long as you don’t introduce any water into it.  This mixture is great for a diaper rash ointment as well.

Beeswax & Coconut Oil Mixture Cooled
Beeswax & Coconut Oil Mixture Cooled

Herbs for the Maiden, Mother & Matriarch

By this point you are aware of how important hormone balance is in our bodies, if you are not, check out these blogs before continuing.

  1. What are “Female” Hormones?
  2. How to Know When Your Hormones are Outta Whack

Now that we have a basic idea of what hormones are and how they get out of balance, let’s look at how to get them back in order.  You know me, I’m all about the solution and not dwelling on the problem.

As you probably know there are three phases of a female’s life cycle:  The Maiden, The Mother and The Matriarch (or Crone, but I hate that term so I use Matriarch).  The first step to balancing hormones is by honoring the cycle that you are in.  Here is a brief description of these cycles:

  • The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, youth and youthful enthusiasm, represented by the waxing moon;
  • The Mother represents ripeness, fertility, sexuality, fulfillment, stability, power and life represented by the full moon;
  • The Matriarch represents wisdom, repose, death, and endings represented by the waning moon.

There are many herbal remedies that nourish and support the female reproductive system in all the cycles of life: Maiden, Mother, and Matriarch. Since the beginning of time women have always reached instinctively for natural remedies to support their overall health and hormone balance.  It is only within the past few hundred years that we have gotten away from our natural roots and began to rely on modern “medicine”.  I use that term lightly because I don’t even see it as medicine, but rather a system that focuses on band aiding the symptoms and not treating the whole person.  This leads to a myriad of other symptoms, check out a commercial for prescriptions, have you seen even 1 without side effects?  I haven’t and generally the side effect symptoms are worse than the initial symptoms.  That being said, click here to read The Full Medical Disclaimer.

I do believe highly in Nature’s Medicine.  Our bodies are made of the same elements as nature and it is through Nature’s Medicine that we will heal ourselves.  There are many wonderful herbs, foods and elements that can help us maintain homeostasis and specifically hormone balance in each life cycle phase.  This blog will focus mainly on herbs to help balance the female hormones.  I will first go over which are good for females of all ages, then I will break down the ones that are best for the Maiden, Mother and Matriarch.

All Life Cycle Phases:

Alfalfa sprouts are a staple of salads and contain nutrients, but the leaves hold the best healing potential and contain phytoestrogens that are beneficial in menopausal and breast feeding women.  Sprouts in general are a great way to maintain balance without putting undue stress on your digestive system.

Note: It is always best to purchase Organic Alfalfa since it is one of the more highly GMO crops.

Asparagus racemosus known in India as Shatavari, has been a treatment for infertility and lack of libido in women for thousands of years, and is regarded as one of the most important herbal tonics for women.  In India, it is often boiled with milk and consumed.

Note:  They cherish their cows in India, we don’t here.  I don’t recommend use of milk unless it is raw and even then, in limited amounts.

Clary sage oil has a special affinity with the female system in general and is recommended for women who are experiencing hot flashes, pain and tension associated with menopause, menstrual problems and PMS.  It is also relaxing, soothing and tends to be earthy and grounding.

Note: Do not use during early pregnancy as it can cause miscarriage.

Red Raspberry Leaf is rich in iron, potassium, magnesium and B, C & E vitamins which are helpful for immune properties & energy.  It also provides ample blood flow to the pelvic area.  (I will get more into this herb in the Mother Phase however it is great for all cycles.)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER RED RASPBERRY LEAF TEA

 

THE MAIDEN PHASE:

Burdock (root) and Dandelion (root) are a great pair as liver cleansers and the burdock helps greatly with teenage acne.  Teas of these two roots are excellent with a little bit of honey to sweeten.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER DANDELION ROOT TEA

Milk Thistle will help with adolescent surges and the emotional roller-coaster.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER MILK THISTLE EXTRACT

Pau d’arco from South America is rich in calcium and has positive effects on a growing endocrine system.

Siberian ginsing is a major endocrine gland tonics and have properties similar to the adrenal cortical hormone, this is great for exhausted teenagers.  It also supports the liver and bloodstream.

Wild Yams beneficially effect the adrenals, digestive system, liver and endocrine system.

 

THE MOTHER PHASE:

Avena Sativa better known as oats are an alleviator of menstrual cramps.  It increases blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system.  Avena Sativa is also thought to free bound testosterone, an essential hormone for both females & males.

Dong quai and wild yams (not to be mistaken for sweet potatoes), along with other estrogenic herbs can be used in combination to treat menstrual difficulties and other conditions where a woman’s hormones need to be brought back into balance.

Note:  Dong quai is not to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Galactagogues are those herbs that establish and promote the flow of mother’s milk. They often have high calcium contents and vary in taste. Below are a few examples of Galactagogues:

  • Alfalfa
  • Anise Seed
  • Basil
  • Black Seed Oil
  • Blessed Thistle
  • Borage Seed Oil
  • Caraway Seed
  • Castor Oil
  • Chaste Tree
  • Dandelion Root
  • Dill
  • Fennel Seed
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Goat’s Rue
  • Hops
  • Jasmine Oil (not to be used during pregnancy)
  • Lemongrass
  • Milk Thistle Seed
  • Sesame
  • Tribulus terrestris

Red Raspberry Leaf is a must for anyone trying to conceive as it clears toxins that can prevent pregnancy.  It also strengthens uterine walls making implantation easier reducing the risk of early miscarriage.  While pregnant Red Raspberry Leaf will continue to strengthen, and tone the uterus.  Trick is finding the right balance for your body, if you drink too much you can throw yourself into early labor.  I drank 1-2 cups daily until about Week 36 when I increased to 4-5 cups daily.  This worked well for my body however all bodies while similar are different.  I was lucky enough to have a healthy baby boy in under 1.5 hours.  I believe this was because the Red Raspberry Leaf had allowed me to dilate over time instead of all at once.  Just listen to your body and if you feel anything more than slight creamping, be sure to cut back on consumption.

Note:  Always consult with a licensed herbalist before taking any herbs during pregnancy.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER RED RASPBERRY LEAF TEA

 

THE MATRIARCH PHASE:

Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, which disrupts endocrine function and prompts premature aging.  It stimulates blood flow to a woman’s reproductive organs and also helps to produce positive effects on hot flashes, anxiety and depression.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER ASHWAGANDHA

Avena Sativa better known as oats are known as a libido enhancer and alleviator of menstrual cramps.  It increases blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system.  Avena Sativa is also thought to free bound testosterone, an essential hormone for sexual desire in both genders.

Black cohosh contains numerous chemical constituents, among them isoflavones which mimic hormonal activity. This makes this herb useful for hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and even the depression sometimes associated with menopause.

Note:  This is never to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding

Catuaba bark has been used by the Tupi Indians of Brazil for thousands of years.  It stimulates the central nervous system, thereby providing energy and a more positive mood.  It is also known to be an aphrodisiac.

Epimedium better known as Horny Goat Weed, it not only encourages blood flow to the reproductive organs but also has menopause symptom relieving effects.

Maca (root) also known as Peruvian Ginseng, has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of the Andes, to treat infertility, sexual dysfunction, hot flashes, sleep disruption and night sweats associated with menopause.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER MACA ROOT

Muria Puama this little known herbal gem calms the nerves, relieves anxiety and also increases blood flow to the pelvic area.

Red Clover greatly benefits the body’s arterial strength and flexibility while helping to relive menopausal symptoms.  It also helps to maintain bone strength.

Shilajit revered in both traditional Indian and Chinese medicine is used as a tonic, which aids in physical energy, mood enhancement and sexual drive.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER SHIAJIT

Suma known as South American Ginsing, is commonly used to improve the mood, stimulate sexual desire and encourage overall reproductive health.

Tongkat Ali used in Malaysia by women to stimulate libido, increase sensitivity to erogenous zones, supports energy levels, cognitive function and creates positive responses to stress.

Tribulus terrestis stimulates androgen receptors in the brain and encourages the body to use hormones more efficiently.

Now that you have this information you can start honoring the stage you are in by doing research on the herbs in the correct category.  Some herbs may have contraindications with certain medicines, so be sure to check with your physician before beginning any new herbs or adding to your current.

 

In this section, we covered the different phases of a woman’s life cycle as well as herbs to help with each of those cycles.  Next we will focus on how to balance your hormones through diet adjustments and lifestyle changes.

How To Tell When Your Hormones Are Outta Whack

How to Tell When Your Hormones are Outta Whack

In the last blog, What are “Female” Hormones?, we learned that our hormones are the chemical messengers in our bodies that help it function properly.  Hormones effect the brain, heart, bones, muscles, and reproductive organs and are an essential part of the workings of every cell in the human body.  As you can see, having balanced hormones is a very important part in overall health and wellbeing.  So in this blog I will discuss how hormones get thrown outta whack as well as how to tell if your hormones are balanced or not.

How do Hormones Get Out of Balance?

Our bodies are ingeniously designed machines and they withstand many years of torture from our toxic life styles.  Hormone balance is deeply connected to the foods we consume, the amount of movement that we do, how many toxins we take in, how much weight we carry and the stresses that we deal with.  Let’s do a quick review of a few of the many factors that can throw off your hormonal balance.

Consistent high levels of stress: When stress takes center stage in our lives and becomes chronic, Cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, floods the system and total hormone production is disrupted. The body tries to compensate for this disruption by stealing its own supply of available progesterone, to make more cortisol, thus depleting this key hormone.  Prolonged stress tears up our bones, melts our muscles, robs us of vital energy and strength, lowers our libido and overwhelms or immune system.  All of these factors put our bodies at serious risk of chronic illness, cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Poor food choices: Insulin, serotonin, cortisol, and dopamine, not to mention estrogen and testosterone are each affected by the food choices we make.  Xenoestrogens in animal products and byproducts all throw off your hormonal balance (more on Xenoestrogens below).

Inadequate sleep: Sleep deprivation has been shown to lower the appetite-suppressing hormone known as leptin and increase the hormone that stimulates hunger known as ghrelin.  Chronic sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your bodies stress response hormone, cortisol.  Having these hormones out of whack will affect your brain function, ability to keep off weight as well as damaging your immune system.

Taking synthetic hormones: Synthetic versions of Estrogen and progesterone hormones may change the way your body absorbs or discards critical nutrients and can also have an adverse effect on your mood.  They can also impact the hormones that make your body interested in sex so that you find your libido pretty much non-existent.

Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of movement or exercise cause a host of problems in the body, hormone imbalance being only one. 

Xenoestrogens: These man-made toxins mimic the estrogen that is naturally created by the body.  Unlike natural estrogen, these fake hormones severely overstimulate cellular activity, wreaking havoc on the internal balancing mechanisms of the body raising the estrogen burden and along with it the risk of breast cancer.  Xenoestrogens are found in beef and dairy that is pumped full of synthetic growth hormones, in personal care products, household cleaners, in plastics, acetone (paint thinners, removers & even fingernail polish remover) and in pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and more.  The scariest thing about these Xenoestrogens, is that once they are introduced into the body, they are not easily removed.

SIGNS THAT YOUR HORMONES ARE OUTTA WHACK

Even when only one unbalanced hormone is present, it may result in the following hormonal imbalance symptoms in women.  This list is not all encompassing, please remember that hormones are messengers and if they are not functioning properly you will have some sort of dis-ease of the body.

Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Women

  • Fatigue not relieved by rest
  • Tired all the time/no energy
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Poor sleep
  • Craving for salty or sugary foods
  • It takes more effort to perform every day tasks and duties
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • Increased time to recover from illness or injury
  • Light headed when standing up quickly
  • Light headed, dizzy, or nausea after periods of not eating
  • Hirsutism (excessive facial hair)
  • Depression
  • Lack of enjoyment or happiness
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Food intolerance
  • Sinus problems
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Excessive allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Dry and thin skin
  • Excessive hunger
  • No hunger
  • Hair loss
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Infections
  • Liver disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Low body temperature
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Poor memory
  • PMS
  • Sleep disorders
  • Tender breasts
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty building muscle
  • Cramping
  • Fluid retention
  • Slow metabolism
  • Irritability
  • Chronic illness
  • And more and more and more

Today we learned about the causes of hormone imbalance as well as common symptoms.  Check back tomorrow for different natural ways to balance these hormones during the Maiden, Mother and Matriarch Phases of life.

Check out the Full Medical Disclaimer Here.

 

What are “Female” Hormones?

By: Stephanie Phillips

Hormones are the chemical messengers that regulate or change the functions of organs and structures throughout your body.  Hormones are created in small organs, called glands and move throughout the body, usually through the bloodstream.  The release of hormones is one ways that different parts of the body communicate with one another.  While hormones are present in both males and females, the main ones we will focus on in this blog are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone as it relates to female development.  These hormones are created by the ovaries, two almond-shaped sex glands that are in the pelvis.  Your ovaries also produce a woman’s eggs.

During fetal development, the sex glands are relatively active.  By the time, you are born, every egg is fully formed and stowed away in the ovaries.  During infancy and childhood, or the Maiden Phase, they slow down production.  Then, when puberty hits, the sex glands kick back into high gear.  At this time, they begin to produce adult sexual development and urges.  Mood swings area also associated with puberty.  After this period, most women settle into a regular ovulation pattern.

As mentioned before, the ovaries make both estrogen and progesterone, along with other hormones in a cyclic fashion (ie. Why it is called the monthly cycle).  The levels of these hormones rise and fall with ovulation.  This takes between 21 to 35 days, and ends with a two to seven-day period of menstruation.  This is called the Mother Phase, since this is when your hormones have balanced out and your eggs have had time to mature.  This process will continue for 30 to 40+ years of your life.  It is important to remember that your cycle can be interrupted now and then, of course by pregnancy but also by stressful events.

Estrogen is the primary female hormone, building up the uterine lining, stimulating breast tissue and thickening the vaginal wall.  It also effects almost every organ in the body.  It plays a critical role in bone building and is thought to have very important effects on the cardiovascular system.

Progesterone, is also a very important hormone, especially when it comes to pregnancy.  It is produced only during the second half of the menstrual cycle and prepares the uterine lining for an egg to implant.  Progesterone also has other effects on any of the tissues that are sensitive to estrogen.

Testosterone, is also produced by the ovaries and plays a role in generating energy, developing muscle mass and stimulating sexual desire.

The balance of these hormones in your body at any given time is affected by many factors.  The pituitary gland, a gland found at the base of your brain, and your ovaries are constantly communicating via their respective hormones, dictating the changing hormone levels of your monthly cycle and the production of eggs.  The pituitary gland produces a follicle-stimulating hormone among other hormones.  Medications, stress, body weight (over or under), time of day and even time of the moth can all cause temporary changes in your hormone.

Once we reach the Matriarch Phase of life, permanent changes to the hormone levels and hormone balance occur.  The ovaries will slowly begin to stop releasing eggs, which at this point may no longer be viable.  When this happens they also quit producing their hormones.  This will usually happen over a period of time, beginning anywhere from the late 30’s to the 40’s and even early 50’s in some women.  Progesterone is the first hormone to slow down production, this can lead to heavier and more frequent periods.  This is known as “perimenopause”.

After that the estrogen production begins to taper off, this is what leads to the common discomforts and health concerns that are associated with menopause.  Fluctuating and falling estrogen levels disrupt your internal thermostat, causing hot flashes or vasomotor instability.  Your sleep cycles and some muscle tone are affected by the drastic reduction in estrogen, most notably muscle tone in the pelvic area.  Therefore it’s so vital to keep up those Kegel exercises.

This has been just a quick description of the female hormones and how they work.  Tomorrow I will put up a blog on How to Tell When Your Hormones are Outta Whack. 

JANUARY 2017 TOTAL BODY DETOX PROGRAM

phonto

This is by far the best Christmas gift that you could give to yourself!  My 28 Day Total Body Detox will give you a new outlook on life once you learn the proper way to fuel your body!  You will have group informational webinars as well as personal sessions to leave you empowered to live your best possible life.

I’m always really excited for the New Year and what better way to start anew than with better body habits.  This course will leave you more conscious and in-tune with your body than you have ever been before.  The best part is you learn to lose weight without dieting but with lasting lifestyle changes.

This entire course is online, via skype or the phone so it doesn’t matter where you are.  All you need is a good internet connection and access to a phone.

Check out this link for more information:  http://edensbalance.com/detox-program/

Payments can be made via cash, credit or PayPal.  Use code FAMILY 20 to get 20% Off of the program cost until December 25th, 2016.

As always contact me if you have any comments or questions.

e-mail: stephanie@edensbalance.com

phone: 571.572.2058

HEALTHY IS BEAUTIFUL: Pedicures

HEALTHY IS BEAUTIFUL SERIES

TOPIC OF THE WEEK:  PEDICURES

Summer is my favorite time of year!  Time to let the toes out!  I love setting my feet free from the confines of shoes.  Most people don’t give much thought to their feet but they really take a lot of wear and tear.  Think about it, every day you get up and walk around without a thought as to what your poor feet go through to support the weight of your body.  If you have ever had a foot injury you can probably understand this more than most.  I know that my car accident gave me a new appreciation for my feet and the realization that I needed to take care of them.

Usually after having your feet trapped in shoes all winter long, there tends to be a buildup of dead skin. These callouses form to protect your feet from where your shoes rub against them.  Whether you choose to get one in the spa or do it yourself at home, pedicures are a great way to keep your feet healthy & pampered.  Check out these tips below for the Perfect Pedi!

PAMPER WITH A PEDICURE

Let me start this section by saying that I love pedicures.  I love the massaging chair that you get to sit in, the glass of wine & plate of snacks that I get served all while having my feet & calves massaged…it is the ultimate in pampering experiences.  For many centuries having well-manicured hands & feet has been a sign of wealth & privilege.  Here is a link to an interesting article on the history of pedicures.

ancient egypt pedicure

Source: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/massage.html

Pedicures in our times are much different from the ones in the days of old.  Servants would come to your chamber and give your feet personal attention, sometimes even with happy endings.  Since salons now a days are designed to get people in and out of the “chair” as fast as possible, important disinfecting procedures are not usually followed.

AT HOME PEDI

Giving yourself a pedicure at home is a great way to save money and protect yourself from the bacteria & fungi lurking in most salons.

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Perfect Pedi Steps:

  1. Soak. Soaking your feet for 10 minutes will help to soften any dry skin and cuticles.  Here is a simple detox foot soak recipe from one of my favorite bloggers Wellness Mama.  Click on the photo below for seven more natural foot soak recipes.foot-soak-recipes-600x399Source: http://www.naturallivingideas.com/7-foot-soak-recipes-to-re-energize-re-invigorate/
  2. Cut & File. Cut your toe nails straight across with a large nail clipper and don’t cut them too low. This will avoid painful ingrown toenails.  File with emery board to shape and smooth edges.  Here is a video on how to properly cut your toenails.
  3. Remove Dry Skin. Use a pumice stone to remove callouses then use a foot scrub to remove any remaining dry skin.  You can make a simple foot scrub using 1 part sugar or salt and 1 part olive oil.  If you want to get fancier here is a link to some more DIY scrub recipes.                                 91BTgKn9HJL._SX522_ Source: http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Natural-Lava-Pumice-Stone/dp/B0147DY2L8
  4. Moisturize. This is the most important step in the whole process if you want to keep smooth, soft feet.  Apply a liberal amount of natural butter or oil and massage into feet.  Then put on a pair of thick socks to help it soak into your skin.  Leave the socks on for a minimum of 10-15 minutes.  I make an amazing natural Peppermint Foot Cream that soothes, cools & moisturizes sore, tired feet.                                      il_570xN.689408707_tvu2
  5. Polish.  It really is healthier to go polish-less as most polishes contain TPHP, an endocrine disruptor.  Please take your time to read this article about the findings by Duke University on the effects of TPHP.  That being said, I do understand how pretty it feels to have a nice bright hue on your newly pampered toes.  If you do decide to go with polish here is a great blog on finding less toxic nail polish brands and another on how to perfectly polish your toenails.

pedicure-tools-names

Source: http://www.fashionlady.in/amazing-pedicure-tools-for-picture-perfect-nails/55029

SALON PEDICURES

foot-massage

Source: http://renovafootcare.com/news/protect-feet-pedicure-danger/

Being pampered in the salon is great if they follow all of the proper procedures to make sure that everything is sanitized.  Make sure you ask the owner about the cleaning procedures.  You can also watch to see what happens when each person leaves the chair.  Did they take apart the foot bath components and sterilize for at least 10 minutes? Did the tools get sanitized?   Probably not…check out these other tips to consider when going to the salon.

  1. Make Sure Tools Are Sterilized. Barbicide is often used in salons to sterilize metal tools, you’ve probably seen that blue cool-aid colored liquid on each manicure station.  Please note that plastic or wooden tools should not be reused, this includes nail files as they cannot be sterilized.  It is best to bring your own non-metal tools to be safe.  Simply have a small container with all of your tools and bring to each session, that way when you get home you can ensure that they are cleaned properly.  I have even seen some salons that keep a box of tools for all of their regular clients. (3)
  2. Don’t Turn On the Bubbles! While the pedicure chairs may be cozy, the whirlpool jets are not easy to properly clean quickly.  While it is optimal to sanitize the jets after each client, it never happens, remember how important turn-over is to profit in the salon industry.  Since they are not often sterilized they can harbor bacteria & fungus. (3)
  3. Wait at least 48 hours after shaving. Your skin is a protective layer designed to keep bacteria & fungi out of the body.  Each time you shave your legs, it causes microtears in the skin.  These tears that are often unseen, can allow infectious disease into your skin. (4)
  4. Don’t Cut Cuticles. Cuticles protect your nail bed from infection from bacteria & fungi.  While it may appear “neater” at the time, cut cuticles tend to grow back faster.  There is also a chance of cutting more than just your cuticle.  If you have ever had that happen, you know how extremely painful that can be.  (1)
  5. Bring your own products. In my teens & 20’s I always had issues with the foot soaks, scrubs & lotions that salons used.  They left my skin dry and irritated.  I always attributed this to having sensitive skin.  Now I know that most, if not all commercially produced products are laden with toxic chemicals.  Especially the ones that are purchased in bulk and have an unlimited shelf-life.  This however is a very easy problem to remedy.  Simply make your own.  You can use the same recipes from the At Home Pedi section above.  If you don’t have time to make your own, make sure you take a product that you can read the ingredient label on.

Sources:

  1. “Foot Hygiene: 3 Reasons Why You Should Never, Ever Cut Your Cuticles.”SteriShoe. N.p., 21 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 May 2016.
  2. “History Of Pedicure.”US Pedicure Spa. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016.
  3. Oliver, Dana. “5 Dangers Awaiting You At The Nail Salon.”The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 24 May 2016.
  4. “Pedicure Safety Tips.”com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016.