Monthly Archives - April 2017

#TBT – Dandelions – History and Benefits

Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. This week we focus on dandelions and their many benefits!

Folks who want perfectly manicured lawns fight against the dandelion but this herbaceous plant has so many benefits to us and our ecosystem, you might think twice about mowing over them or spraying them with chemicals. Dandelions have been around for so long in the Northern Hemisphere that it’s impossible to pinpoint their nonnative status but their use was recorded in Roman times and by Anglo Saxon tribes of Britain and the Normans of France and Arabian and Indian peoples. European settlers found them so useful that they brought them on their long ocean journey across to America.

This perennial flower, botanically related to the sunflower family, which also includes daisies and thistles, grows year round unless in an area that experiences a cold winter in which case they go dormant. They have a thick taproot that can penetrate 10 to 15 feet into the soil and because they spread via seeds that can travel on the wind for hundreds of miles, they spread quickly. The name dandelion is from the French term “dent de lion” which means “tooth of the lion”.  All parts of the plant are edible and dandelions have long been used as a food source, in making wine and for medicinal benefits.

Kidneys and Liver

Dandelions are very diuretic, helping to eliminate toxic substances in the kidneys and urinary tract. In France, they are also called “pissenlit” which translates to “urinate in bed”. So be under advisement! That said, dandelions can be very helpful in eliminating fat from the body as well as eliminating jaundice. Jaundice occurs when the liver begins over-producing bile which will then enter the bloodstream and messes with metabolism. The disorder causes the skin and eyes to develop a yellow tint. How interesting that the sunny colored dandelion is excellent for helping to eliminate jaundice from the body! It regulates bile production and because of its diuretic nature, it aids in eliminating excess bile.

Skin Care

The sap, called dandelion milk, is alkaline and fights against various germs and fungi. It’s traditionally been used in the treatment of ringworm, eczema and acne. The greens of the plant contain over 100% of the daily minimum of vitamin A which also benefits the skin as well as mucus membranes and vision.

Protect Bee Populations

Dandelions are one of the major food sources for bees in the springtime. Because bee populations are in serious decline and we rely on their existence for so many other foods, it’s important to keep this in mind. Show a little love to the bees not only by leaving dandelions alone but also by avoiding the chemicals in sprays that are directly linked to their decline.

 

How to Cook Dandelion Greens

Dandelion Wine

DIY Fine and Dandy Facial Serum

 

Natural Anxiety Buster Suggestions

Anxiety and stress can be detrimental to your health and well being. You may have a head of swirling thoughts, life’s pressures weighing down on you or perhaps battling phobias or bouts of panic. Each natural anxiety buster listed below can be incorporated into your life to help soothe and calm your brain and body.

Anxiety Buster #1 – Simply acknowledge what you are feeling. Just saying to yourself or even out loud, “I’m feeling stressed. I’m feeling anxious.” without any judgement on yourself can lift a bit of the weight of your feelings. After that, seek out a friend to talk to and share your feelings with. Releasing and connecting with another person helps take weight off your shoulders and strengthen the bonds of friendship.

Anxiety Buster #2 – Breathe. Breathe. Then breathe some more. Deep cleansing breaths help to steady your heart rate, relieve tension and release pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain to elevate moods. Deep breathing means breathing into the belly, not just the chest, and doing so stimulates the vagus nerve, part of your parasympathetic nervous system which calms you down.

Anxiety Buster #3 – Hear what Tibetan Buddhist Master, Mingyur Rinpoche has to say about simple meditation and training your “monkey mind.” This simple exercise can bring much relief and help to train your brain away from constant worrying.

 

Anxiety Buster #4 – Rev up your serotonin levels with exercise, time in nature and music that you love! A neurotransmitter, known for improving mood, serotonin affects many areas of the body including the gut. Many people feeling the pressures of stress and anxiety often have accompanying digestion issues, which leads us to our final anxiety buster. . .

Anxiety Buster #5 – Promote good gut health with proper nutrition and making sure your intestinal health is in balance. The re:iimmune formula was created to provide hydration support and through the addition of probiotics and a prebiotic, a food source for good gut bacteria to thrive, to help those battling with digestion issues. The gut and the mind are closely connected and taking care of each, helps the other!

 

Superstars of the Summer Garden

When it comes to gardening, you always have to think ahead. So even though it’s barely spring, today we want to focus on the plants that will be superstars of your summer garden. By putting in the time, research and effort now, you’ll be reaping the rewards of your summer garden with satisfaction! Once again, these are all items that are relatively easy to grow for the newbie or inexperienced gardener. All three require a good amount of direct sunlight and can be started from seed indoors now or you can pick up seedlings from your local nursery when ready to plant in the ground.

Tomatoes – No summer garden is complete without tomatoes and nothing compares to the taste of a homegrown tomato! They will want lots of sunshine, water and nitrogen in the soil. If you notice the plants turning yellow, this means they are lacking nitrogen. Adding a little bone or blood meal around the base of each plant is a quick fix. Just be sure to keep companion planting in mind and keep your tomatoes at a distance from our next suggested plant. . . bell peppers.

Bell Peppers – Bees will cross pollinate peppers and tomatoes, ruining the flavor of tomatoes which is why they should not be planted together. Bell peppers love heat which makes them a superstar of the summer garden. They want sun all day long and do best in well drained soil, spaced about 4-6 inches apart. When they first begin to ripen, they’ll be a lighter shade of their color and are ready to pick when they turn bright and waxy.

Summer Squash – These vining plants either needs ample ground space to run or you’ll need a sturdy trellis. This summer garden group includes both green and yellow zucchini, crookneck and scallop squash, all of which are typically ready to pick 60-70 days after planting. They also produce squash blossoms which are delicious sauteed, stuffed or dipped in batter and fried.

We hope we’ve given you some inspiration to get out and get gardening! Here’s hoping for a great growing season and an ample harvest!

Spring Cleaning For Better Health

A good spring cleaning of the house is on many people’s to-do lists at this time of the year. Clearing out the dirt, dust and clutter can make for a healthier and happier home. Today we have a few areas to keep in mind as you tackle your spring cleaning chores.

Tackle the Dust Collectors

Dust is no friend at a time of year when people may also be dealing with seasonal allergies. Start high with ceiling fans, curtains and upholstery and then move on to furniture and floors.

 

Get Ready to Open Those Windows Wide

Cleaning the dust away from the tops of window sashes and getting rid of the winter dirt and grime from the glass will make those spring views even more enjoyable. Opening the windows to get some fresh air means also making sure that screens are cleaned and in good repair.

 

Renew the Refrigerator

Give the fridge a total overhaul as part of your spring cleaning routine. Throw out expired foods and condiments and get rid of any spills and debris which can breed bacteria and mold. This is also a good time to clean the condenser coil, typically found behind the toe grill. You can usually do this with a long handled bottle brush or vacuum cleaner attachment hose. Getting rid of dust and lint can help prevent the refrigerator to overheat. If coils are attached to the back of the fridge, don’t hurt yourself pulling it out, ask for help to get to the area!

 

Declutter and LET GO

Go through clothes, books, household items and such to see what isn’t working or you don’t need anymore. Purging items that you don’t really love, wear or use can be extremely satisfying. Remember, more stuff means more stuff you have to take care of and it might just be a good time to eliminate that burden.

 

Fire Alarms/Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Do a thorough test of existing units, change batteries and add alarms and detectors where needed. The American Red Cross has some valuable information on the importance of having working alarms and estimates that, “The fire death rate in homes with working smoke alarms is 51% less than the rate for homes without this protection.”

Whole Foods Spotlight – Strawberries

 

While many folks today would list strawberries as their favorite fruit, this now beloved berry has gone through periods of history where it was practically shunned. Technically, it’s not truly a fruit since the seeds are on the outside surface. Botanically speaking it’s related to the rose.  We know that early peoples enjoyed strawberries as the seeds have been found at Mesolithic, Neolithic and Iron Age sites. However, the fruit was not cultivated until the 14th century.

The strawberry is mentioned in early Roman writings, including Virgil who warned children to keep an eye out for snakes when picking the wild, low growing fruit. This caution toward the berry stuck and strawberries became associated with danger, with 12th century Saint Hildegard of Germany declaring them unfit for eating because snakes and toads and other slithery creatures could crawl on and among the fruit. Finally in the 14th century, the French put an end to its undeserved bad reputation and began cultivating the plant.  The first 1200 strawberry plants were put in the gardens of the Louvre on the command of King Charles V.

As European settlers arrived in Americas they discovered that native people had also cultivated a wild strawberry with much more success in size and flavor. In the 18th century, the American and Chilean varieties were crossed, resulting in the first of all cultivated strawberries known today Fragaria x ananassa. The word “strawberry” more than likely derives from the practice of growing the cultivated fruit upon straw and some Native Americans called them “wuttahimneash” which translates to “heart-seed berry”.

High in fiber, the strawberry helps to improve digestion, especially if you are suffering from constipation or irregular stools. They help to improve cardiovascular health as the ellagic acid and flavonoids provide antioxidant effects. Strawberries also help to lower LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol which leads to plaque build-up in the arteries and the potassium found in the berry helps to counteract the negative effects of sodium, regulating pressure and preventing high blood pressure. They are also wonderful for skin care as the salicylic acid exfoliates dead skin cells, brightening and softening the skin and tightening pores.

 

Strawberry Oatmeal Face Mask

 

Strawberry Salsa
Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Chicken

Snow Safety: Part One – Driving Snow and Ice Covered Roads

 

The kids are all singing “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” hoping for days off school and time for snowball fights and sled rides. While it sure is beautiful, most adults find it to be a pain, especially when it comes to driving snow covered streets and roads. At the very least, it can make life inconvenient but at worst it can be downright dangerous. We’ve put together a three part series on staying safe and healthy in the snow. Driving snow covered roads and icy streets can be a challenge, so today we focus on navigating the white stuff!

We are one snowy nation! Around 70% of U.S. roads will see 5 or more inches of snow each year and vehicle accidents result in about 1,300 fatalities per year. Here are some tips to keep you safe as you navigate the ice, slush and snow. . .

  • Bridges, overpasses and rarely travelled roads are the first to freeze. If conditions are wet, these areas can become icy before the temperatures even drop below freezing.
  • Be sure to brake gently when driving snow or ice covered streets and roads. If standard brakes lock, pump gently and if anti-lock brakes do lock up, apply steady pressure (they may begin to pulse and make noise when doing so).
  • Never pass a snowplow. These vehicles have limited visibility and conditions ahead of them are more than likely worse than behind them.
  • Allow enough space between you and the car ahead of you. About 3 car lengths for every 10mph you are travelling.
  • If you begin to slide and it’s your rear tires, take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels then begin sliding in the opposite direction, ease the steering wheel in the same direction as the tires. Repeat gently until the car is under control. If your front tires are sliding, take your foot off the accelerator and put the car in neutral. When traction returns, gently steer the car in the direction you want to go, put the vehicle back in drive and slowly accelerate.
  • If you get stuck, turn your wheels from side to side to push the snow. If needed, get out and try to shovel some snow away from the tires and undercarriage. Go easy with gentle acceleration to avoid spinning your tires.

Surgery Recovery and re:iimmune

If you or a loved one are facing an operation, you will want to put as much thought into surgery recovery as the procedure itself. The healing process can be a frustrating one but planning ahead can make the surgery recovery time less daunting and help support healing. Today we have some tips for you as you begin the healing process. . .

Follow the Doctor’s Orders

Listen carefully to what your doctor instructs you to do post-surgery. Sometimes patients follow only the instructions that make sense to them personally and ignore the ones they don’t care for, think silly or decide don’t apply to their case. There are usually very good reasons for the surgery recovery directions your physician gives. You may hear things like “no lifting anything over ten pounds” or “showers no baths” and blow it off but these types of things can really impede healing and if your doctor says to avoid them, then listen and follow that advice.

Get Up and Walk

Unless your doctor has given you strict instruction not to do so, walking can be one of the most beneficial things you can do in surgery recovery. Short walks can help prevent constipation, one of the side effects of anesthesia, and prevent complications like pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis. Short walks every couple of hours are recommended and if you can get out into a little sunshine, that helps the healing process as well.

Incision Care

Obviously you want clean hands before inspecting and touching your incision. Don’t scrub or remove scabs from the area or use alcohol or peroxide on the incision unless your doctor specifically directs you to do so. Scabbing can be annoying and itchy but picking them off can cause the site to heal more slowly.

Food as Medicine

During surgery recovery many patients suffer from nausea, lack of appetite and constipation. However it is vital to think of food as medicine. Certain foods help support recovery and aid with fatigue. Protein found in foods like eggs, meat and beans is at the top of the list as it helps with wound healing. Foods with B12, iron, fiber and vitamin C are beneficial during the healing process. It’s important to discuss supplements with your doctor to be sure of what you should and shouldn’t be taking with whatever medications you are on. One supplement that many find beneficial during surgery recovery is bromelain (pineapple extract). It’s aids in digestion and has strong anti-inflammatory effects to help reduce swelling and bruising. Once again, consult with your physician first.
Hydration for Healing

Dehydration is a serious risk that can get in the way of recovery. Staying hydrated helps to reduce the chance of stroke, deep vein thrombosis and urinary tract infections and is one of the most important things you can do to support healing in the body. Poor hydration and a stressed immune system can slow your body’s natural ability to heal. We understand that healing starts from the inside out and re:iimmune was specifically designed to aid in the healing process, providing isotonic clinical strength hydration with balancing electrolytes. L-Glutamine pulls water across the intestinal wall, assists the cells in absorbing water and aids in tissue repair. The probiotics found in re:iimmune were included to give the digestive system support in strengthening beneficial bacteria. 75% of our body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract. With probiotics and a prebiotic food source you can help fight against the side effects of antibiotics that kill off healthy gut flora, inflammation, bacterial infection and constipation. All of which helps you on the road to recovery!

#TBT – Ylang Ylang – History and Benefits

Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. Today we focus on the benefits of ylang ylang essential oil!

Ylang ylang (e-lang e-lang), often called “the poor man’s jasmine”, comes from the sweet smelling, star-shaped flowers of the ylang-ylang tree. Native to Malaysia, Indonesia and other east Asian lowland countries the tree does not produce flowers until five years of growth but then produces up to 45 pounds of flowers for up to fifty years. High quality oil made from the flowers has a sweet and musky aroma and is prized for it’s amazing scent. However, indigenous peoples of the areas where it grows quickly discovered it was effective as a natural treatment for skin irritations such as cuts, burns and insect bites as it inhibits microbial growth and disinfects wounds.

Indonesians scatter the petals over the beds of newlywed couples on their wedding night. A hair pomade, Macassar oil, developed in the Molucca Islands became so popular in Victorian England that it led to the creation of the antimacassar, a decorative chair covering used to keep the oil from staining upholstery. In the 20th century, French chemists discovered that the oil was useful in treating intestinal infections and that the oil had a calming effect on the body, specifically the heart. Eventually, ylang ylang essential oil was used as the top floral note in the now famous Chanel No. 5 perfume.

Ylang ylang oil has also proven beneficial in treating eczema. Caused by malfunctioning sebaceous glands which don’t provide an adequate production of sebum, eczema is a painful skin disorder. Ylang ylang soothes inflammation and assists the skin in regulating sebum production.  It’s also loaded with organic compounds that are beneficial to the hair and scalp. Since it’s known for uplifting mood and promoting relaxation, it’s a terrific addition to massage oil.

If taken in excessive amounts, it can result in nausea and headache so it is important to use ylang ylang oil in recommended doses.

Healthier Homemade Baby Food

Parents concerned with the cost and quality of jarred foods for beginning eaters may be considering homemade baby food instead. It really is a great way of saving money, providing quality nutrition and getting that little one on the path to a healthy relationship with food. Making homemade baby food gives you the ability to experiment with different textures for your baby and use a greater variety of ingredients than what can be found in commercial baby food.

Most pediatricians recommend starting kids on solid foods between the ages of 4 to 6 months. Prior to 4 months, nitrates in foods can be toxic to the infant as their digestive system cannot handle them. After four months, it’s best to start with single ingredients and to space new foods about 4 days apart to see how baby reacts to the food. These first foods are highly pureed and strained foods that are lowest on the allergy scale and are more easily digested by those little bellies. Rice and other grain cereals, sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas and carrots are among good choices for the first foods.  

Many of these first foods can just be smashed up with a fork such as avocado, banana, cantaloupe and pear. Simple purees from foods that must first be cooked, can be made using a food processor, blender or immersion blender. It’s very difficult to finely puree some vegetables such as peas and green beans and so some parents choose to wait on introducing those later when baby has reached the age of enjoying some texture and can eat them as finger foods.

Another great reason to make homemade baby food is the ability to incorporate herbs and spices to introduce new flavors and build baby’s taste buds. Most pediatricians will recommend waiting until 8 months to incorporate spices and herbs but this has more to do with preventing digestive upset than a concern over allergic reactions. Many cultures begin using spices and herbs in homemade baby food from the very start. As with any new food, just be sure to wait about 4 days before introducing something new. It is never recommended that one add sugar or salt to homemade baby food but several spices and herbs to try include: anise, basil, cinnamon, curry powder, dill, ginger, garlic, mint, nutmeg, oregano, pepper, rosemary and vanilla.

There are so many ideas out there for simple recipes for baby that we’re sure you’ll have no problem finding a wealth of suggestions on the internet. The idea is to give baby a healthy start when it comes to a relationship with food, so we recommend not getting too upset or worried if your child doesn’t take to certain foods right away or at all. Remember that taste buds change throughout the years and it can take several tries of a food before a child decides they like it. It’s best not to force foods on children or make a big deal about being a “picky eater” which can set up an unhealthy relationship with food. There are a wealth of healthy options in the food world and as they grow they are certain to find some nutritious delights that they love. Bon appetit, babies!

Seasonal Allergies – Hydration is Your Hero!

One of the best things you can do to stave off and help relieve those seasonal allergies is to stay hydrated.

Those itchy eyes, the runny nose and sneezing that make us miserable are due to a natural product of our endocrine system. Histamine is actually our friend and is there to help defend against and get rid of pollutants, viruses, bacteria and pollen. However, dehydration can throw histamine out of balance and cause elevated levels. As a neurotransmitter, the primary role of histamine is to regulate thirst and the body’s water supply. When dehydrated, histamine production kicks in to preserve the water remaining in the body. It plays a role in the contractions of bronchial muscles and tries to restrict water loss by constricting the bronchioles which can lead to asthmatic symptoms. Increased histamines, out of control and trying to push out perceived threats, make us miserable with the sniffles, watering, sneezing and itchiness.

By staying well hydrated, you can help keep histamine production in check and flush out the irritants in your system. Proper hydration helps to thin mucus in the nasal passages and encourage sinus drainage. Sinus congestion leads to dry mouth and going for extended periods without protective saliva increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, another great reason to reach for more water.

Increasing the amount of water you drink is a big part of minimizing seasonal allergies. Adding a packet of re:iimmune to that glass of water adds balancing electrolytes which help the body retain water. It also contains the amino acid L-Glutamine which aids in hydration by assisting cells to absorb water quicker and helps to rebuild healthy tissue in your intestinal wall. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol and other known diuretics is also a good idea. How much water should you drink? Eight glasses a day is the standard response but another way of thinking of it is based on your body weight. Divide your weight in half and that will give you the number of ounces of water you should be drinking each day to maintain proper hydration.