Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Love You, Honey

Sniffle sniffle,
Honk honk.

Sniffle sniffle,
Honk honk.

This is the poetry my nose makes this time of year starting at 5am every day. The story usually ends around noon. It is an epic poem, complete with suffering and tragedy. I have lived with seasonal allergies for most of my post-pubescent life. In high school I was called "tissue box girl" because I sported a box of tissues everywhere I went. My record for number of back-to-back sneezes: 31... on the bus home from school in 8th grade.

I have tried all sorts of medications, from your standard Claritin pills to cortisone-laden prescription nose sprays. Nothing worked without side effects. I couldn't figure out whether the combination of side effects plus drug dependency was better or worse than the actual allergy symptoms themselves. So I just stopped taking medications. They never worked 100% anyway.

Needless to say, my allergies have affected me adversely for many many years. Until this year. This year I learned about local raw honey. A spoonful every day and my allergies stay at bay. It's a beautiful, simple thing and it makes so much sense. For many people (like me), allergies are caused by pollen released by trees and plants in their local area. While all this pollination is going on, bees are busy collecting it and dropping a little bit of it here and there in their hives and consequently in the honey they make. The small amout of pollen in the honey helps to build immunity in our bodies, working similarly to allergy shots. The only caveat is that the honey regimen must begin a few months before allergy season begins, in order to build this immunity.

If this treatment seems interesting to you, read on...
It is very important that your honey is local and that it is raw (i.e., not pasteurized or sterilized). The reason you want local honey is obvious: it contains local pollen that is causing the allergies. Local would be considered a 10-15 mile radius. So if you know of any neighbors who keep bees, it's time to start making some friends. The reason the honey should be raw is so that all the good stuff that the bees deposit into the honey (like pollen) isn't killed off.

This type of sweet treatment obviously doesn't work if you suffer from dust, mold, pollution, animal and/or grass allergies. Bees tend to stay away from that stuff! We don't have much mold, dust or pollution around here, so these things are not a problem for me. The only pets we keep are chickens, which are pretty darn hypo-allergenic. I am allergic to grass, but I have proudly and successfully decimated my lawn so at least grass is not within my property line. The honey also won't work if you buy it from a grocery store, since most of the honey in stores is mass-produced, pasteurized, and shipped all around the country. I found mine at my local farmers market. We also have a beekeeper down the street from us who sells his honey from time to time.

Who knew?
I'm guessing this is how people took care of allergies before shots, pills and money.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the many chemicals with which we are bombarded on a daily basis contribute in a huge way to the cancer rate in the U.S. and worldwide. I recently spoke with a long-time friend of mine who is a breast cancer survivor of seven years. We are blessed to have her in our lives. She and I share the viewpoint that cleaning our bodies and our homes with home-made, natural products are a great way to avoid many carcinogens.

Aside from injection (via hypodermic needles), there are three ways for chemicals to enter our bodies. If I can control just one of these, I'm better off:

  • Ingestion - eating and drinking

  • Inhalation - breathing

  • Absorption - coming in contact with the skin

The one I believe I can control the easiest is absorption. This is because I can truly control what is spread onto my skin. I'm the only one doing that. As for inhalation, I can choose to live in an area that has documented cleaner air than other places. This is very helpful in eliminating chemical exposure via inhalation, but not foolproof due to many factors beyond people's control. Ingestion of chemicals is also a little tougher to control, but can be minimized by choosing better foods. I'm guilty as sin in this arena (I'm a foodie!), but I am trying to get it right by growing more of my own food.

My friend and I talked about our recipes for homemade products and we agreed we would exchange recipes. I figured I'd go ahead and make a blog entry out of my recipes so that I could share them with everyone who might be interested. Not only are these recipes free of harmful carcinogens, but they are also cost-effective and simple. If you have any recipes that you would like to share, please add them in the "comments" section of the blog.

  • Here's the goat's milk soap from that we LOVE in our house. We will never use regular soap again. They don't mention in the video or in the article that all measurements (besides the goat's milk) are by weight, not fluid ounces. Be aware of this, and get a kitchen scale if you are going to make your own soap:
  • I spray a water/vinegar mix on all of my produce before washing. The vinegar helps loosen a large portion of the pesticides used on fruits and vegetables - as much as 75%! I use a spray bottle with about 10 parts water to 1 part vinegar and let it sit on the produce for a couple of minutes. After spraying, I triple-rinse. Produce with the highest levels of pesticides are strawberries, peaches and broccoli due to their absorbent qualities. I am extra-cautious with these, making sure they are cleaned well.
  • I love to make this simple body scrub: mix equal parts epsom salt with grapeseed, soybean, almond, or olive oil. Add a little lavender essential oil or tea tree oil, if you'd like. Scrub the mixture on the body and let it sit for a few minutes. This is a very cheap alternative to all of those expensive, chemical-and-fragrance-laden body scrubs out there.
  • Here are some recipes for natural hair color solutions from Mother Earth News, my favorite magazine:
  • Here are recipes for safe household cleaners, also from Mother Earth News:

It's time we all opened our eyes to the fact that we can clean ourselves and our bodies quite effectively without the use of chemical-laden products manufactured by large corporations. These corporations' only interests are to make huge profits and to keep us sick so that we consume their pharmaceuticals. I'm not buying it anymore. The freedom I am rewarded with is beyond measure. I just breeze right past the household cleaners and beauty aisles when shopping. I am no longer tempted with the latest fragrances or anti-bacterial wonder-cleaners.