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Posts Tagged ‘health’

I discovered virgin organic rosehip oil from Chile when trying it out as a facial moisturizer. I knew very little about it, but it was on sale through my wholesale buying club/co-op one month so I bought it. After a few weeks of use, I noticed the splotchiness of my face was greatly diminished, and my skin tone seemed more evened out. I was amazed!!! I did some online research and was impressed to learn the following about rosehip oil:

Native to South America, rosehip oil is made by cold-pressing the seeds of the fruit of the rose plant (the little red bulbs that appears after the flowers fall off). It is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, and natural anti-oxidant properties that help improve the elasticity of the skin, regenerate skin cells, slow down premature aging, and reduce the formation of wrinkles and scarring.

Rosehip oil is extremely high in Vitamin C, in the form of essential fatty acids, which retain and attract moisture for healthier skin. Vitamin C is also necessary for the production of collagen, one of the main proteins in the skin.

It is great for mature or damaged skin and can be used to fade blemishes such as pigmentation spots, acne scars, stretch marks and sun-damage. Just a few drops go a looong way, especially on damp skin. Face, neck, decolletage, and tops of hands are the main anti-aging spots you want to hit. But really, use it anywhere. Rough elbows, dry feet … it feels very luxurious on the skin.

Rosehip oil helps regenerate tissue, and is excellent for treating burns immediately after they happen. Apply multiple times daily to affected area; heals skin quickly and vastly reduces visibility of scars.

The only thing for which it seems to be contraindicated is active acne. It’s good for diminishing the appearance of acne scars, but not for use when acne is active.

It is a nongreasy carrier oil which absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving behind shiny residue. It has a light, nutty aroma which can easily be enhanced with a variety of essential oils. The color is a beautiful and surprising deep amber.

Here’s another personal testimonial from the perpetual clutz. yours truly: I burned myself not long ago when the lid of the wafflemaker fell on my hand and left me with a nice little grid pattern on it

Ouch! *sob* Keep going. Must. Feed. Children. Breakfast.

After the little creatures were held at bay with healthy whole-grain waffles and nitrite-free turkey bacon, I started treating my tic-tac-toe-board-for-a-hand with a few drops of rosehip oil every day. A few weeks later, my hand had NO gridmarks, NO scar, NO sign of damage to the skin whatsoever!!!

I sort of feel like a born-again because I’m so convinced of and vocal about the magical properties of this oil. So much so that I even went out and bought a gallon of virgin organic cold-pressed rosehip oil from Chile and separated into 2-oz amber glass bottles with glass dropper in lid to distribute amongst my friends and loved ones. I want the world to enjoy the benefits of this oil, and I still have a good number of bottles left.

If you are interested, send me an email at ecomamasays at gmail dot com

My favorite thing about rosehip oil: How it evens out my splotchy skin tone, flattens my keloid scars, and plumps up my skin in general.

Tell me and our other readers below what you like best about what rosehip oil is doing for your skin. Good things, no doubt!

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Have you heard of the Chinese five elements theory?

In traditional Chinese medicine, five elements of nature (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) represent different attributes of human health. Ideally we should have a balance of all five, but most of us are predisposed toward one element in excess of the others, causing an imbalance in the body with negative physical manifestations.

Check out this quiz to determine what element is most prevalent for you, and then read about your element’s characteristics and how to help yourself get back into balance.

A few months ago, my latest step in my journey to heal myself naturally of the curious skin rashes that seem to come and go, brought me to a new health practitioner: an acupuncturist and doctor of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) who assessed me based on the Chinese five elements theory. She asked me a few questions, looked at my tongue, eyes, and overall frame, then said my elemental type was Metal. She said that my big problem is that the pH balance in my body is off, and leaning too far in the direction of acidity.

Don’t know much about pH balance and the acid-alkaline balance in the body? Check out this nice little article to learn more, and then come on back to me and read on.

Surprisingly, one of the ways this over-acidity was manifesting, she said, was that my stomach contained too little digestive acid to properly digest my food. As such, I wasn’t getting enough nutrition from the foods I eat because my stomach wasn’t able to break everything down as it should.

She gave me nutritional counseling based on my Metal type and the over-acidity in my body, and designed a healing, pH balancing food protocol to increase my alkalinity. The new diet included the following dietary changes:

  • no beef
  • no eggs
  • no dairy
  • no bananas
  • no “vegetation” (that is, anything leafy or green, which was a pretty darned big part of my diet before)
  • more alkaline fruits and vegetables, especially with seeds (think cucumbers, eggplant, avocados, zucchini, butternut squash, tomatoes, yellow squash, etc.)
  • 90% of my diet as soups or stews (a bit labor intensive so I find I’m not doing quite as well on this one)
  • all grains pre-soaked before cooking

She also said to make broth to extract the nutrients of various foods into a form that can be consumed without digestion from the stomach. According to her assessment, I lack the requisite amounts of stomach acid to properly digest certain foods. I sat up straighter when she said this, because I already make a ton of broth and drink it every day, sometimes in the morning in a mug instead of coffee or tea.

You’re probably thinking to yourself Yes, yes Ecomama, this is all fine and good, five elements, mm hmm, interesting, but what about the coconut cream you mentioned in your title?

Well, the new diet means I’m now I’m officially dairy-free, and even though I didn’t eat a lot of dairy before, butter remains one of my true gustatory pleasures. Eliminating butter is, for me, the most excruciating part of giving up dairy. I don’t drink milk, I hardly eat cheese, I’ve gotten over the loss of yogurt, but oh … butter. How I miss you so.

Needless to say, since this diagnosis, I’ve been exploring lots of non-dairy alternatives to dairy foods. I tried some almond cheese that didn’t exactly taste like cheddar as the wrapper implied, but it melted well enough in a quesadilla to suit me.

I already make my own rice milk and almond milk, but there are certain recipes calling for cow’s milk, like my favorite healthy pancake/waffle batter or creamy oatmeal cooked on the stove, that need a little more fat to give them the fluffiness or richness they need.

One morning, as I was getting my ingredients out to make steel cut oatmeal on the stove, I found myself completely out of both rice and almond milk. I rifled through the pantry and spotted a can of coconut milk that had been waiting to be transformed into an amazing Thai curry dish that never quite materialized.

I dumped it all in a small storage container. The liquid poured out easily, and then I scraped out the thick solids that had risen to the top of the can and stuck to the lid. I topped the storage container with its own lid and with one hand, shook the container intensely to break up the solids and mix them into the liquid. With the other hand, I licked the silicone spoon I had used to scrape the can clean.

As soon as I licked, I had the flash realization that the texture of that coconut “cream” was very similar to butter, my long lost love! Be still my beating heart!

I immediately stopped shaking, but alas, the solids were already all mixed in. I vowed I wouldn’t shake the next can I opened, so that I could keep the buttery coconut cream intact.

Fast forward a couple of days, and another can of coconut milk was purchased and opened. This time, I didn’t mix the solids in with the liquid, but rather left it all separate. I toasted some whole wheat bread, and spread the coconut cream on it like butter.

I swear it spread the same way, glistened the same way, even melted slowly into the bread the same way. I sprinkled it with a generous pinch of sea salt, and while it didn’t taste exactly like butter, the fatty creaminess did hit the spot juuuuuust right.

Thank you, coconut cream. You have saved me from plummeting to the dangerous depths of severe butter withdrawal.

coconut cream toast

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Remember those ceramic statues in the seventies shaped like animals or a human head that you’d cover with a fine layer of tiny black seeds and water daily? Sprouts would grow, making it like fur or a really tight ‘fro.

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Chia seeds provide super-high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain development. Omega-3’s are also linked to joint health as well as elevated mood; one Scandinavian study showed that people taking an omega-3 supplement for four months reported happier outlooks on life.

Eating seeds can make you happier. Who knew!

The little black seeds can hold 8-10x their weight in water, making a gelatinous substance that can be used in many different ways. It can substitute for eggs in various recipes, baking or otherwise. I also add it to foods where my three year old won’t notice, like pasta sauce or scrambled eggs, as well as putting it in Ecodaddy’s morning smoothie. The seeds don’t really have a particular flavor, so they are very easy to camouflage.

Photo credit: MySuperFoods

Chia Gel

  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 quart mason jar, or similar lidded container
  1. Place seeds and water in container and seal lid. Shake vigorously for a few seconds.
  2. Let rest for a few minutes, then shake again. Gel should be ready in ten minutes.
  3. Refrigerate and use for up to two weeks.

If you want to use your gel as a substitute for eggs in recipes, the general rule of thumb is 1/3 cup chia gel per egg. I do this often in baking recipes, and neither Ecodaddy nor the Ecokids ever know the difference.

It’ll be our happy little secret.

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Hello, dear Ecoreaders; today I write from the trenches.

I’ve been at war with my arch-nemesis, Candida albicans. I’ve had problems with it for years and years, and have mostly kept it under control, but lately it seems to have taken on a mind of its own.

Candida albicans is a yeast that is part of your gut flora. It is a teeny tiny microorganism that lives in everyone’s mouth and gut. For such a little guy, Candida sure packs a wallop when its population grows out of control, passes through the intestinal walls, and into the bloodstream.

Candida overgrowth is also called candidiasis. It can manifest in symptoms that vary wildly, from obvious ones like vaginal yeast infections or thrush (a yeast infection of the mouth and/or nipples) to athlete’s foot, eczema, fatigue, weight gain, depression and mood swings.

Since Candida lives in everyone and is usually in balance with all the other microorganisms in your gut, something has to set off the imbalance that causes overgrowth.

It could be antibiotics, which kill the good flora that keep the bad Candida in check.

It could be oral contraceptives (ie, “The Pill”), which is high in estrogen and promotes the growth of yeast.

It could be a diet high in foods that “feed the yeast”, like white sugar and refined carbohydrates.

It could be heavy metal toxicity, like from the mercury in your fillings, which weakens your immune system and creates an environment where Candida can proliferate.

It could be even just be plain ol’ stress.

Hmmmm … check, check, check, check, and check. *sigh*

My journey with Candida has been a long strange trip dating back to the late nineties. I used to get recurring yeast infections, and went to several different doctors to try to figure out why, not just to treat the symptoms.

One doc had the gall to tell me I shouldn’t make myself crazy trying to chase down an answer … since most women get yeast infections 3-4 times a year, I should just treat the symptoms and move on.

So doc, you’re saying that because lots of women get this, I should just suck it up and deal with it?

Ummm … no!

Needless to say, I never saw that doc again.

I found a holistic gynecologist who diagnosed me with Candida overgrowth and put me on a restrictive anti-Candida diet. Starve the yeast, and it will go away.

“Starve the yeast”; that does sound funny, but yeast eats to get bigger and stronger, just like we do. If you ever baked bread, you know that you need to mix your yeast with a little sugar in warm water to get it started. The yeast literally eats the sugar in order to grow.

This is exactly what is happening in your body, too. Unfortunately, it’s not just sugar that needs to be restricted. Many foods convert to sugar in the body. Wheat and other carbs convert to sugar. Dairy has lactose in it, a milk sugar.

Candida also likes mold, so any foods that do or could potentially contain mold are also off-limits. No vinegar, mushrooms, peanuts, dried fruit, soy sauce, or certain fermented foods.

In a nutshell, it’s a really hard diet to be on. So many foods in the Standard American Diet (SAD, for short) have sugar, wheat, or dairy in them, so it really is a task to starve those little yeastie beasties.

Take breakfast for example. Short of eggs, it is truly an effort to make myself something yummy that doesn’t feed the yeast.

Anyway, I went on the elimination diet, eliminated all the offending foods, and lo and behold, the infections went away.

But once the symptoms were gone for a while, I slowly let those foods seep back into my diet. Human nature. We are all addicted to our taste buds, big time.

Fast forward a few years …

I caught a cold/cough that wouldn’t go away for months. My brain felt kind of foggy, and my memory was worse than usual. My energy levels felt like I was operating at about 60% of my full potential, all the time. I just felt like something was off.

I went to two different doctors to figure out what was wrong with me, and both of them prescribed me anti-depressants. I tried to tell them that I was not depressed and I wasn’t unhappy, I just had low energy.

Soon after, a friend loaned me the book Depression-Free Naturally by Joan Larson. He said there might be some natural remedies in there that could boost my energy.

Well, whaddaya know. Candida albicans, my old enemy, was right there in that book. And all of a sudden I remembered what to do, and cleaned up my diet, pronto.

Away went the mucousy throat and cold I hadn’t been able to shake for three months. My energy levels skyrocketed within three days. My focus seemed sharper.

Ok, so you’d think I’d have learned by now, but …

When I got pregnant with Ecogirl, I went hog wild on Candida-feeding foods. Me, a healthy eater who loved salad, couldn’t even look at a salad unless it was drowning in ranch dressing. I don’t even eat ranch dressing, normally!

Furthermore, I was craving pizza and doughnuts, of all things. I never eat donuts. I have no idea where that came from. Thank goodness those cravings passed after a few weeks!

I satisfied my cravings with the foods I desired, and surprisingly had no ill effects. Hallelujah, pregnancy rocks! I can eat all the wheat and sugar I want!

Then Ecogirl was born via c-section after a looooooong natural labor. She was forward facing with a head tilt, and I just couldn’t push her out, so she came “out the sunroof” as a friend of mine likes to say.

Of course, the surgery came with all the requisite antibiotics, and my incision got infected a week later, leading to a second round of antibiotics.

Ugh. Can you guess what happened next?

The most raging, painful, like-fire-and-needles-and-knives-in-my-nipples-all-at-once case of thrush you could ever imagine. And it lasted for ten miserable weeks, because Ecogirl and I kept giving it back and forth to each other: from her mouth to my nipples and then back to her again.

I breastfed through the toe-curling, sobbing pain. Oh yes, I cried plenty when I nursed, it hurt so much. My nipples actually hurt all the time, it even hurt to wear a shirt; just the fabric rubbing against my nipples was excruciating. Ecodaddy couldn’t even hug me, for months.

I tried every natural remedy under the sun, then gave in and got prescription anti-fungal medications and took them religiously for two weeks. Still nothing.

Silly rabbit. Don’t you remember that you need to eliminate the foods from your diet that feed the yeast?

Oh yeah. Darn. There just is no easy way out, is there?

Back on the anti-candida diet, and finally, the thrush went away.

Thank goodness. Thrush is just awful.

Fast forward to second pregnancy, with Ecobaby. I ate what I wanted, which was often dark chocolate dipped in peanut butter. I did eat plenty of carbs too, with no ill effects, just like during the first pregnancy.

Ecobaby’s birth couldn’t have been more different than Ecogirl’s: a peaceful, unassisted waterbirth at the home of a dear friend. But the thrush that followed was the same as before.

This time, I got rid of it in a week. I jumped straight to the anti-Candida diet, plus a cocktail of natural remedies, including:

  • Several spoonfuls of coconut oil every day. Coconut oil is high in lauric and caprylic acids, natural anti-fungals which target Candida but leave the healthy gut flora alone.
  • Garlic pills. Garlic is a strong natural anti-fungal.
  • Grapefruit seed extract. Another strong natural anti-fungal.
  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV). Yeast thrives in an acidic environment, but ACV makes your body more alkaline. It also doesn’t contain mold (which feeds the yeast) like other vinegars do.
  • Probiotics. These are the good gut flora that help to keep bad Candida in check.

Even though the thrush was gone in a week, I stayed on the anti-Candida diet for three months after Ecobaby was born. I wanted to be absolutely sure that the excruciatingly painful thrush wouldn’t return.

But then my old habits returned, slowly. But honestly, not as bad as in the past. I wasn’t eating a lot of bready carbs, but I was eating a lot of fruit. And dark chocolate. And peanut butter.

In my weakened state from childbirth and breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and chasing a two year old, and not having enough time to pee much less feed myself nourishing foods, apparently that was enough to jump start the Candida overgrowth all over again.

This time, it was manifesting in new ways. Itchiness between my pinky toe and fourth toe. Itchiness all around my big toe nail. Eczema on one elbow. Fatigue.

Me. Who hardly ever gets sick. Feels like I’m falling apart at the seams. *shakes fist at Candida*

Fatigue?! you might exclaim. Why, Ecomama, you have an almost-three-year-old and an almost-five-month-old, of course you’re fatigued!

Yes, yes, of course. But I feel weak, I really feel like my immune system is depleted. A good, solid detox is what I need, but because I’m breastfeeding, I can’t do anything drastic.

You see, detoxing forces the toxins in your body to leave the body via any route they can. Breastmilk included.

So until I can fast and cleanse, I need to stay on the anti-Candida diet, and get these yeastie beasties out of my body as best I can.

Wish me luck. The long strange trip continues …

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Ecobaby has been drooling up a storm. Her fist has been in her mouth at every possible opportunity. She’s been chewing on my fingers and knuckles every chance she gets.

Not even four months old, she has only been grabbing at things with her hands for a few weeks now. She can direct objects to her mouth, but struggles to keep them there, so she has been getting very frustrated.

Normally, she sleeps through the night, from around 9:30pm until 5:30 or 6am (I know, I know, it is truly miraculous!), but last night, she woke up three separate times throughout the night.

Only three? some moms might be muttering to themselves. To them I offer a deep bow of admiration for trudging through each day under the effects of extreme sleep deprivation. You are unsung heroes, mamas!

Anyway, combining all these different clues … the drooling, the fist sucking, the night-waking … I’ve concluded that she must be teething. Or pre-teething. Whatever you want to call it, something is going on in her mouth that’s causing her discomfort and disruption of the usual program.

Having identified teething as the culprit, out came the baltic amber necklace from big sister’s jewelry box. At age 2.75, Ecogirl won’t have any new teeth coming in for a while, so her necklace can be handed down to Ecobaby for now.

Baltic amber is a fossil resin from ancient pine trees. It contains large amounts of succinic acid, a powerful anti-oxidant that has been shown to boost the immune system. Succinic acid helps restore strength and energy, enhances brain function, and reduces stress. It is also a natural analgesic and exhibits both anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.

Reduces stress? Restores energy? Hmmm, I could really use one of these necklaces too, I think …

Baltic amber necklaces have been used for centuries to treat many different ailments. When the necklace is in direct contact with warm skin, succinic acid is released and absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.

But how can a baby wear a beaded necklace, you might ask? Won’t she pull on it and break it, sending beads everywhere?

The necklaces are strung by hand one bead at a time, with a knot in between each bead. If your child pulls on the necklace and it breaks, only one bead will be lost instead of a whole necklace worth of beads scattering all over the place. The necklace will still be shot, but it will pose significantly less potential hazard to your little one.

You can leave the necklace on all the time, though some people like to remove it at night for fear their child will get tangled and strangled. Ecobaby is a veritable mummy when she sleeps; she doesn’t move an inch, so I feel comfortable leaving it on.

You do want to remove it when bathing, however. Soap buildup can create a barrier between the bead and the skin, preventing the succinic acid from entering the body. To keep the necklace clean, just wipe with a damp cloth from time to time.

If you have a child who is teething and you are a skeptic: just try it. At best, your child gets relief, which means you get relief.

At worst, your child looks really darned cute.

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