Healthy Home

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.”

#TBT – Anise Seed – 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 sweet anise seed! 

Anise is a delicate white flowering plant with feathery leaves closely related to star anise, fennel and licorice. Native to Egypt, Greece, Crete and Asia Minor, it was the Egyptians who first began cultivating the plant. The Romans often included the spice in baked goods served at the end of decadent meals as the seeds provide protection against indigestion and flatulence. It was given the nickname Solamen intestinorum or “the comforter of the bowels.”

In France, Spain, Italy and South America, the seeds are used primarily in the production of cordial liquers such as Anisette. In Germany of the 1800’s, the spice was so popular, they flavored their bread with whole aniseseed. It is a remarkably versatile herb, used in both sweet and savory dishes.

It’s uses for human and animal alike, abound!

  • The oil of anise has long been used to destroy lice and other biting insects and to treat skin irritations. The oil is also said to work well in combination with cheese on mousetraps!
  • Some beekeepers say that anise oil is the fastest way to attract bees if there are no flowers around and putting the oil on bee boxes will help attract and encourage their return.
  • In addition to providing relief from excess gas and indegestion, the essential oil has been used to eliminate intestinal worms. It also provides relief from aches, pains and menstrual cramps as it has antispasmodic properties.
  • Anise has also been traditionally used in the treatment of  clearing congestion in the lungs and respiratory tracts, bronchitis and asthma. Teas with anise are very soothing during cold and flu season!

German Spelt Bread

Cinnamon Anise Tea

Homemade Italian Sausage

#TBT – Eucalyptus – 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 the spotlight is on eucalyptus!

Eucalyptus is a native plant of Australia where there are over 700 varieties. Aboriginal people considered them a general “cure-all” and the trees have been utilized for paper, mulch, fuel, as windbreakers and for fighting malaria. Because it has an extensive root system it can absorb large quantities of water and so it was intentionally planted in marshy, malaria infested areas to dry up the soil. The plant is also a good example of why humans have to be careful introducing non-native species. In the 1850’s during the California Gold Rush, thousands of acres of eucalyptus trees were planted in the state. Since the climate is similar to parts of Australia, the hope was that it could serve as a renewable source of timber for all sorts of construction including railroad ties for an ever expanding railroad system. However the timber wasn’t suitable for railroad ties as the wood has a tendency to twist when drying. Unfortunately eucalyptus trees release compounds which inhibit other plant species from growing nearby, it’s an invasive species and a fire hazard in a state plagued by drought and wildfires.

All that said, eucalyptus has some wonderful health and wellness benefits and has been used from ancient to modern times for respiratory ailments like bronchitis, coughs and flu. During World War 1, the oil was in high demand to help control a meningitis outbreak and as a treatment during the terrible influenza breakout in 1919. The plant is antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, plus it’s a natural decongestant. Studies have shown that for people suffering from non-bacterial sinusitis, symptoms improve faster when given medicine containing eucalyptus oil. It’s also used as a remedy for sore throats and can provide relief when mixed with warm water and used as a gargle solution.

With it’s cool and refreshing smell, eucalyptus has also been used to do away with sluggishness and promote mental alertness. For those suffering from asthma, massaging a few drops onto the chest and inhaling the vapors helps to calm the throat and dilate blood vessels allowing more oxygen into the lungs. The oil is also useful in dental care, the treatment of lice, as a foot deodorizer and skin coolant and for sore muscles. Below are links to some ways to incorporate eucalyptus into your wellness routine.

Cooling Foot and Shoe Deodorizer

Homemade Chest Rub

Frozen Eucalyptus Towels

#TBT – Lavender – 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 sweet benefits of lavender!

One of the most popular herbs/flowers on the planet, lavender is believed to originate from the Meditteranean and parts of the Middle East and India. The name lavender has its roots in in the Roman word “lavare” which means “to wash” as it was used frequently to scent baths, hair and beds. The herb, which is a member of the mint family and contains high amounts of camphor, is known for deterring mice, fleas, mosquitos and other pests. Through the years, it gained quite  a reputation with ancient herbalists for its disinfecting and sanitizing abilities and it’s many healing qualities.

Here are some fun facts and uses for lavender . . .

  • In the language of flowers, lavender is associated with devotion, luck and success
  • High quality honey is often made from the nectar of the flowers
  • Most plants produce blue or purple flowers but there are some pink and yellow varieties
  • The herb is often used to promote sleepiness and calm relaxation
  • Lavender buds are covered in fine hairs which is where the oil comes from, extracted in a process called distillation
  • The plants do not produce seeds and are propagated by cutting or root divisions.
  • It is drought tolerant and can thrive even in very high temperatures
  • Lavender plants will attract bees and butterflies to your yard
  • A few whiffs of the oil are said to help with dizziness
  • According to some studies, in high doses it can destroy many common bacteria such as pneumococcus, streptococcus, diphtheria and typhoid
  • Highly beneficial in relieving muscle tension, aches, soreness and headaches
  • Used often in cooking meats and sweets, it’s part of the popular blend Herbes du Provence

 

DIY Lavender Sleep Balm

DIY Hand Sanitizer and Antiseptic Spray

Lavender Lemon Bars

#TT – Pine – 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’re talking about invigorating pine! 

organic-pinee-oil

Fragrant pine trees have had a long history of use by many cultures, which viewed them as protection against evil spirits. Ancient peoples of Europe thought of the cones as the eyes of the tree, which could see into magical realms. Boughs of pine were brought into homes during the winter solstice and hung above doors in the belief that it would provide protection from spirits of the Underworld. It’s easy to understand how members of the evergreen family, which keep their brilliant green color through the coldest of winters and smell so invigorating, would come to symbolize vitality and longevity.

Pine oil, known for its refreshing, clean, woodsy smell is extracted from the needles of the Pinus sylvestris tree and from ancient to modern times humans have valued its many benefits.

In the Home

Historically, mattresses were stuffed with pine needles to ward off lice and fleas. It also has the ability to remove dangerous molds, bacteria and yeast. It’s one of the most beneficial essential oils to use as a natural home deodorizer as it eliminates bacteria and microbes which lead to contamination and odors. It can even help to destroy toxins in the air which cause colds and the flu. Because it is so great at neutralizing odors, many people put a few drops of pine oil into shoes to keep them smelling fresher.

Respiratory Relief

It’s also fantastic for relieving respiratory ailments. Steam inhalation containing pine oil can help clear congestion and soothe the lungs. Even when not sick or suffering from allergies, many use the oil for it’s refreshing and energy boosting powers.

Muscle Soother

Sufferers of joint pain, muscle aches and arthritis can benefit from the use of pine oil in massage. It’s analgesic properties help reduce pain and it’s an anti-inflammatory agent as well. Always use pine oil with a carrier oil (jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, etc.) and never use undiluted directly on your skin. Be careful to keep pine oil away from your eyes and the inside of your nose so that mucus membranes are not irritated.

Homemade Essential Oil Diffuser Christmas Tree Ornament

Peppermint Pine Headache Salve

Homemade Natural “Pine Sol”

Indoor Plants That Help Clean the Air

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Not only do indoor plants cheer up a space, some varieties can even help remove pollutants from the air! Unfortunately, a variety of household and consumer products contain ingredients that create noxious gases that can build up in an enclosed space. During the colder months, when we can’t open the windows as much to get fresh air, we are exposed even more to these chemicals and gases. Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Toluene and Ammonia are all such irritants. The good news is that certain types of easy to grow indoor plants are capable of cleaning the air and adding them to our living spaces can make our homes much healthier.

Aloe Vera

This one’s a no brainer when it comes to choosing plants for the home since they are incredibly easy to grow and they provide relief for sunburn and skin irritation. On top of that, they produce a good amount of oxygen and are champs at filtering formaldehyde.

Boston Fern

The best choice for fighting formaldehyde is the Boston fern. Although drought tolerant (for those of us who are forgetful waterers), the fern thrives in humid conditions so it’s a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms.

Peace Lily

Many cleaning products contain chemicals that irritate our lungs. The peace lily does a great job of ridding the air of these pollutants and it produces beautiful white flowers. Bonus!

English Ivy

If someone in your home suffers from asthma, benzene can be a real threat and trigger attacks. English ivy is the one of the best choices among indoor plants for filtering benzene out of the air.

Spider Plant

NASA did a Clean Air Study in which they named the spider plant as one of the best houseplants for air purification. The link will also give you some other indoor plants they found to be effective at filtering the air. Spider plants are great option for the frugal among us as they sprout many babies or offshoots which enables you to fill your home without spending a lot of cash.

Himalayan Salt Lamps For a Gentler Winter Morning Wake Up

 

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No longer just a fixture of massage therapist’s offices, the appeal and possible benefits of Himalayan salt lamps has caused a surge in their sales over the last few years. They are aesthetically pleasing and cast a peaceful peach glow over a room. Many believe that they have healing attributes as well.

Himalayan salt was formed over 250 million years ago where the sun dried up the saltwater of the original, primal sea. It is abundant in trace minerals, electrolytes and elements making it very popular with health food advocates as a seasoning of choice.

Advocates of Himalayan salt lamps tout their ability to improve indoor air quality. To understand why and how “right on” these enthusiasts might be, we have to talk a little simple science. Fans of salt lamps tout their ability to fill the air with negative ions. Negative ions are typically created by forces of nature like thunderstorms, waterfalls and ocean waves. They increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and may energize the cilia of the trachea allowing the lungs to function better. Because salt naturally attracts water, the heat created by the salt lamp causes the water to evaporate and create negative ions. There is some doubt as to how effectively the small bulb can heat the lamp to cause the reaction. It can only produce negative ions in small amounts. However, by placing it near electronics one might be able to cancel out at least some of the positive ions being emitted through electromagnetic radiation, which have a negative effect on the body. We are bombarded with EM due to all of the modern gadgets in our homes. Due to the fact that negative ions bond to and neutralize positive ions, even a small source such as a salt lamp could prove beneficial.

While the jury may be out on just how strong those other benefits might be, there is another reason to try a salt lamp in your home. The warm glow of the lamp may help you wake up a bit easier during the winter months. I purchased one last winter and used it to help gently wake me up in the morning. Because the winter mornings are so dark, it’s hard to rouse yourself with a harsh alarm and not feel jolted into the less than welcoming morning. Instead, try putting the lamp on a timer so that it turns on about 15 minutes before your alarm. The slight orange glow mimics early morning sun and just might help you wake up much more gently and a little less groggy!

Natural Ingredients for Home Cleaning

 

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Last week we shared with you some tips to keep in mind in our post Fall Cleaning for Optimum Health. This week we’re sharing some basic, natural ingredients you can use to get your home to sparkle! Many cleaners on the market are filled with not so natural ingredients that can aggravate our breathing, sinuses and aren’t so easy on the environment. The natural ingredients below are cheaper, do just as good of a job and are much healthier for you and the planet.

Baking Soda

Also known as Sodium Bicarbonate, good old fashioned baking soda is known for it’s abilities as a gentle yet effective scrub and neutralizer of odors. Here are some great uses for this ingredient in home cleaning. . .

~ Sink and bathtub drains getting clogged and smelling not so fresh? Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, along with half a cup of vinegar. Watch it fizz and bubble and ponder the wonders of science! Rinse with several cups of hot water and use the excess in the sink to scrub down the sides and bottom for a sparkly shine.

~ Many of you probably already have a box in your fridge to absorb nasty smells. (Activated Charcoal also works well for this!) and we recommend sprinkling some into the trash can and putting a box in closets as well to eliminate odors.

~ Have those old metal tracks in your windows that get clogged up with dirt and grime? Here’s a great trick to clean them using baking soda and a few other ingredients from theintentionalmom.com!

~ Freshen up mattresses by combining five tablespoons of baking soda and five teaspoons of lavender essential oil and using a sieve to sprinkle over the mattress. Leave it there for about a half hour and then vacuum up.

Black Tea

Black tea is brilliant for cleaning your hardwood floors. Black tea contains polyphenolic compounds which helps eliminate germs and the tannins in the tea help enhance the color of the wood and hide small scratches. Another natural item to use to help hide scratches in your wood floor are walnuts. Yes walnuts! Rub the meat of the nut into the scratch and it fills in the crack to smooth the surface.

Vinegar

Vinegar is extremely versatile. It works like a charm at cleaning glass and windows. Just mix half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle. Try using newspapers instead of paper towels or rags for less lint and a streak free shine. Vinegar is also your go to for getting rid of grime, grease and stickiness on surfaces. Have kids in the home who like to put stickers on every surface they aren’t supposed to? Squirt a little vinegar on it, let it sit for a bit and the sticker should wipe up in no time.

Vinegar is also great for getting rid of mineral deposits around faucets, shower heads and in automatic coffee makers. The smell of vinegar fades pretty quickly but if you just can’t stomach the scent, add in a little essential oil of your choice or try out this Pine Scented Vinegar recipe.

Hydrogen Peroxide

This powerhouse ingredient is known for whitening and brightening as well as killing bacteria. It can be used in the laundry to whiten and get rid of yellowing, on cutting boards to kill germs and on shower curtains or other items that have mold and mildew.

Battling filthy tile and grout? You don’t need bleach and other harsh chemicals. Mix together ½ cup baking soda, ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap and gently scrub the grime away.

Important Tip

Natural does not always mean safe! Hydrogen Peroxide + Vinegar = Peracetic Acid which can corrode surfaces and can irritate your skin, eyes and lungs. So never combine these two ingredients together.