Natural Health

2016 Health and Wellness Books

Did you receive a gift card this holiday season to the local bookstore? Today we offer up a few of the health and wellness books that came out in 2016 that you might want to check out! All descriptions are via each publisher’s website. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2017 and more great books to read!

 

Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness, and Beauty

Hope Gillerman – Harper Collins Books

“From Hope Gillerman, founder of the aromatherapy line H. Gillerman Organics, an indispensable guide to the fundamentals of one of our most ancient and aromatic healing tools, essential oils—nature’s most concentrated plant medicines.

Fragrant and wonderfully sensual, one hundred times more concentrated than dried herbs, essential oils are the ultimate in luxurious natural self-care. Pairing pleasure with potent healing, essential oils have been a therapeutic treatment of choice for thousands of years, from ancient Egyptian rituals to Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic treatments, and Aromatherapy. But while essential oils are accessible, versatile, and beautiful, few of us know how simple it is to harness their power.

Enter Hope Gillerman, founder of H. Gillerman Organics, a line of essential oil remedies beloved by celebrities, the fashion elite, and leaders of holistic healing. With passion and unparalleled expertise, Hope takes readers on a lively tour through the science and history of essential oils. Carefully culling the hundreds of oils out there to introduce readers to the forty truly must-have oils for home use, from lavender to jasmine and eucalyptus, she provides clear, quick, and easy-to-follow techniques for integrating them into daily life—as simple as breathing.

From topical applications for aromatic healing to crafting homemade blends, Essential Oils Every Day is a practical, beautiful guide to all the ways the power of essential oils will transform your everyday: better breathing; improved relaxation and focus; sounder sleep; healthier travel; natural beauty; and spiritual uplift.”

Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health

Drew Ramsey, M.D. – Harper Collins

“Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen

From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.

What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.

Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.

Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.

Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:

  • Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).
  • Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
  • Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.

Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.”

 

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time

Arianna Huffington, Penguin/Random House

“We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis, writes Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post. And this has profound consequences – on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness. What is needed, she boldly asserts, is nothing short of a sleep revolution.  Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives.

In her bestseller Thrive, Arianna wrote about our need to redefine success through well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. Her discussion of the importance of sleep as a gateway to this more fulfilling way of living struck such a powerful chord that she realized the mystery and transformative power of sleep called for a fuller investigation.

The result is a sweeping, scientifically rigorous, and deeply personal exploration of sleep from all angles, from the history of sleep, to the role of dreams in our lives, to the consequences of sleep deprivation, and the new golden age of sleep science that is revealing the vital role sleep plays in our every waking moment and every aspect of our health – from weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s.  

In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna shows how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives – and even our sex lives. She explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream.  She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.

In today’s fast-paced, always-connected, perpetually-harried and sleep-deprived world, our need for a good night’s sleep is more important – and elusive — than ever. The Sleep Revolution both sounds the alarm on our worldwide sleep crisis and provides a detailed road map to the great sleep awakening that can help transform our lives, our communities, and our world.”

 

Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure it

Dr. Josh Axe – Harper Collins

Doctor of Natural Medicine and wellness authority Dr. Josh Axe delivers a groundbreaking, indispensable guide for understanding, diagnosing, and treating one of the most discussed yet little-understood health conditions: leaky gut syndrome.

Do you have a leaky gut? For 80% of the population the answer is “yes”—and most people don’t even realize it. Leaky gut syndrome is the root cause of a litany of ailments, including: chronic inflammation, allergies, autoimmune diseases, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, and even arthritis.

To keep us in good health, our gut relies on maintaining a symbiotic relationship with trillions of microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. When our digestive system is out of whack, serious health problems can manifest and our intestinal walls can develop microscopic holes, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins to seep into the bloodstream. This condition is known as leaky gut syndrome.

In Eat Dirt, Dr. Josh Axe explains that what we regard as modern “improvements” to our food supply—including refrigeration, sanitation, and modified grains—have damaged our intestinal health. In fact, the same organisms in soil that allow plants and animals to flourish are the ones we need for gut health. In Eat Dirt, Dr. Axe explains that it’s essential to get a little “dirty” in our daily lives in order to support our gut bacteria and prevent leaky gut syndrome. Dr. Axe offers simple ways to get these needed microbes, from incorporating local honey and bee pollen into your diet to forgoing hand sanitizers and even ingesting a little probiotic-rich soil.

Because leaky gut manifests differently in every individual, Dr. Axe also identifies the five main “gut types” and offers customizable plans—including diet, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations—to dramatically improve gut health in just thirty days. With a simple diet plan, recipes, and practical advice, Eat Dirt will help readers restore gut health and eliminate leaky gut for good.

Whole Foods Spotlight: Black Eyed Peas

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf

It is in this spirit that we present re:iimmune’s new blog series “Whole Foods Spotlight” where we will focus in on a specific whole food, its nutritional benefits and provide you with a few links to some tasty recipes that may inspire you to add more of that particular food into your diet. After all, good health begins with good nutrition! This week we focus on the protein/potassium powerhouse.  . . black eyed peas!

If you are from the southern United States, chances are you’ll have your black eyed peas on New Year’s for good luck. If you don’t know about this tradition, check out this article on americanfood.about.com . Today we want to share some of the amazing health benefits packed in this powerful little pea, which is actually a bean.

Black eyed peas are used in cuisines throughout the world. In the southern region of the United States, “Hoppin’ John” is perhaps the traditional dish folks would have on New Year’s to ensure their luck. In Portugal, black eyed peas accompany cod and potatoes. Egyptians call them “lobia” and use them in very popular rice dish cooked with garlic, onions, tomato juice and meat.  Meanwhile, in Vietnam they are used in a sweet sticky rice and coconut milk dessert called chè đậu trắng and in India they are used in many ways, including a curry made with black eyed peas and potatoes. A popular traditional street food of Brazil is called akara, which originates from Nigeria. The black eyed peas are peeled, mashed and then the paste is used to form balls which are then deep fried. They are usually served split in half and stuffed with Vatapá (a dish made of bread, shrimp, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts and palm oil mashed into a creamy paste) and a condiment called caruru which is made from okra, onion, shrimp, palm oil and peanuts or cashews. Akara is topped with diced green and red tomatoes, fried sun-dried shrimp and homemade hot sauce. There are so many delicious ways to use this simple little bean!

Not only are black eyed peas delicious, they are highly nutritious. They are packed with potassium and protein. Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure which lowers your risk of heart disease and it supports muscle and bone health too. Getting cramps in your legs or feet? Foods rich in potassium are the first things to reach for. As for protein, they are a smart alternative for those who don’t eat meat. Protein supports the health of most of the parts of your body including muscles, skin, hair and nails and it also helps your cells repair and grow while providing you with energy.  Dried black-eyed peas contain 6.7 g of protein per ½ cup and the same size serving of canned black eyed peas contain 5.7 g.  Be sure to rinse canned beans of any kind to reduce sodium and to help prevent problems with flatulence. They are a great high fiber, low calorie food to rely on if you are trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

We already provided a couple of links to some seriously great black eyed pea recipes above but here are a few more very simple ways to incorporate more of this whole food into your diet. . .

Black Eyed Peas and Dill Potato Skillet

Hot Black Eyed Pea Dip

Black Eyed Pea Salad

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

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It’s that time of year when many of us are burning the candle at both ends. Sleep deprivation can become something we don’t even realize that we are doing to ourselves. With work, school, parenting and all of the busyness of the holidays you may be feeling exhausted yet still find yourself fighting the urge to sleep. Or the time change, darker days and all there is to do might make you feel like going to bed directly after dinner to catch a few more hours of sleep. You just might want to heed that impulse instead of staying up to play on social media, write one more email or watch one more show because sleep deprivation can do serious harm to both body and mind.

The National Institute of Health reports that the average American adult sleeps less than 7 hours each night. However 8 to 10 hours is the recommendation for optimum function and while those few missed hours might not seem like much, they really add up. Lack of sleep really messes with the mind.

The hippocampus is a moon shaped structure in the frontal lobe. This is the area used when the waking mind encodes or learns new information. Later, while sleeping, this same area “replays” that information to help it stick with us. If you are skipping out on sleep, you are putting your ability to form long-term memories at risk. Scientists are also finding that sleep starved brains are more prone to incorporate false information into memories.

Well rested folks also have highly active temporal lobes, the region of the brain responsible for language processing. Slurring and difficulty enunciating words is a hallmark of sleep deprivation. Wit is also affected as sleep deprivation impacts divergent thinking, necessary for us to switch topics and make connections between thoughts and ideas.

Sleep deprivation also causes a decrease in the neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation and amplifies anticipatory reactions fueling the fire for depression and/or anxiety to set in. Not getting enough sleep also makes us grouches. In a well rested brain, the amygdala which is responsible for emotional processing and the medial prefrontal cortex responsible for regulating feelings are connected and working in unison. When we don’t get enough sleep, that connection is weakened and we are more prone to angry outbursts.

In addition, sleep deprivation is also connected with reduced immunity, frequent colds and infections, weight gain, increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and impaired motor skills increasing risk of accidents. So listen to your body when it tells you that 8pm is a perfectly reasonable time to go to bed even when the lure of screen time calls. Unplug, unwind and get those extra zzz’s your body craves!

#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! 

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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”

Dry Hair Remedies

 

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Are you feeling those flyaway, dry hair blues? This time of the year can take it’s toll on our bodies and hair is no exception. The lack of moisture in the air can do a number on your strands and scalp, so today we’ve gathered some simple and natural fixes to help give some love to your locks!

Static Stoppers

One of the worst parts of dealing with winter hair is static. It’s annoying to say the least. One way of reducing the amount of static is to gravitate toward natural fibers in your clothing. Cotton, wool, linen and other natural fibers aren’t as likely to create static electricity as synthetic fibers like polyester and acrylic. You can also create a hair mist to help moisturize and tame flyaways. Mix rosewater and a few drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil of your choice (apricot kernel oil or argan oil for example) in a spray bottle and spritz the hair lightly to control, moisturize and add a little shine.

Keep it Cool

We know it feels so good to blast yourself with hot water in the shower when it’s so cold outside but resist that temptation. It’s bad for your skin and can lead to dry hair. Keep the shower temp lukewarm and try a final rinse with cold water, which helps to smooth the cuticles of the hair.

Special Treatments

You don’t have to pay a ton of money to a salon for masks to help moisturize you hair. There are plenty of ingredients right in your kitchen that do a marvelous job at battling dry hair. Here are just a few concoctions to try out. . .

banana (1) + almond oil (1tsp) + avocado (1) = Natural fats soften the strands, moisturize and lock moisture in.

yogurt (½ cup) + honey (½ cup) + 1 tbsp almond oil = Protein promoted growth and lactic acid aids in cleaning the scalp and keeping hair follicles healthy. Honey is wonderfully moisturizing and smells divine.

eggs (2) + apple cider vinegar (½ cup) + castor oil (2 tbsp) = Shine and prevention of hair loss. You might want to add a bit of lavender oil in the mix for a more pleasant smell.

Turmeric – 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 learn about the treasure that is turmeric!

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The people of India have long known what a treasure turmeric is and have used it in their cooking, sacred rights, in their beauty routines and as a healing helper for many ailments. Pottery discovered near New Dehli contained residue from the spice used as early back as 2500 BCE. It’s botanical name is Curcuma longa and it produces both flower and rhizome, a stem that grows underground, similar to ginger. The rhizome is the part of the plant that gives us golden hued turmeric. Indian curry gets its yellow coloring from it and it’s long been used in many other dishes, favored for its ability to aid in digestion and improve circulation.

Turmeric was also used in India and other surrounding countries in sacred ceremonies. In southern India, an amulet made of the turmeric rhizome was believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits. Saffron colored Buddhist robes are achieved by using the spice as a dye. Hindus also view it as sacred. During a wedding, a string dyed yellow with turmeric is tied around the bride’s neck by the groom. The mangala sutra, as the necklace is called shows that the woman is married and capable of running a household.

It’s sacred standing is owed to its remarkable healing properties as well. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian practice of natural healing and these discoveries of turmeric’s abilities by these ancient peoples benefit us still today. They discovered that burning turmeric could relieve congestion and that the spice was also helpful in healing wounds, bruises and a variety of other skin problems.

Turmeric is prized for its many benefits in a skin care/beauty regimen. It’s been used successfully to aid in inhibiting facial hair growth, smoothing and evening out skin tone and lessening dark circles under the eyes. Its wonderful as an exfoliant and in treating dandruff of the scalp. Many swear by it’s ability to naturally whiten teeth and it’s also known to be effective as a treatment for cracked heels and softening the skin of the feet. Head to toe, turmeric has a myriad of benefits for the human body.

This includes internally. Turmeric is a potent natural anti-inflammatory and painkiller with abilities that have been shown to be as effective as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects. This makes it very helpful in dealing with arthritis and muscle pain. Numerous other studies are being done on its possible powers in treating some forms of cancer including melanoma, slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s by removing amyloid plaque buildup in the brain and its abilities to aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.

There are so many different ways and good reasons to incorporate more turmeric into your diet and beauty routine. Below you’ll find a few links to ways to do just that!

Top Ten Best Beauty Remedies Using Turmeric

Golden Turmeric Milk Recipe

Healing Carrot Soup with Turmeric and Ginger

#TBT – Sage – 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 the herbal savior, sage!

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“How can a man grow old who has sage in his garden?” is an old proverb quoted throughout much of Europe, China and Persia. During the 17th century, sage was so valued by the Chinese that Dutch merchants discovered that they would trade three chests of Chinese tea for just one chest of sage. The word sage derives from the Latin word salvare which means “to save” bestowed for it’s many healing and curative properties.

Native Americans called the sagebrush “spirit caller” and used it in the cleansing and purification of their dwellings. Still today, people looking to cleanse their home of bad vibes or just to refresh the air will burn a smudge stick made of sage. Some even find relief from the smoke for sinus congestion or pain as well as migraines. Sage contains saponins which improve circulation and its been used for over a thousand years in the treatment of Cerebrovascular disease. Like its family member rosemary, it is also known for improving memory and many studies are showing that it may even help treat and prevent Alzheimer’s. With these benefits, it’s no wonder we use the word “sage” to describe a very wise person!

The herb  is prized for it’s strong flavor and for many people the smell of it evokes the holidays. Which is perfect, as the herb is known for its ability to assist the body in digesting all those fatty foods we enjoy this time of year! Also, red sage has been used traditionally as a treatment for inflammation of the mouth, throat and tonsils so it’s one to turn to for relief during cold season.

In the garden, sage is a fragrant and often overlooked spring flowering plant. There are dozens of varieties; some for cooking, some for medicinal purposes and some ornamental. Most are very hardy and prefer well drained soil. Common sage, which is most often used in cooking, produces beautiful purple flowers which attract bees and other beneficial insects to the garden.

We’ve collected a few useful DIY’s for you that take advantage of sage’s many wonderful offerings. Enjoy!

Sage Tincture for Colds and Sore Throats (scroll to bottom of article)

Homegrown Smudge Sticks

Fresh Sage Wreath

Dealing with Dry Skin

Has the weather got you feeling itchy? Dry skin is a major problem for people throughout the cooler months and for some, all year round. Never fear, we’ve got some tips for you to help you stay smooth and soft.

Our skin is our largest organ, measuring around 20 square feet! As with all the organs in your body, the most important thing you can do for your skin is to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. re:iimmune can help in that department! Sometimes to get hydration to optimum levels your body might need a bit of assistance. The L-Glutamine and electrolyte balancing nutrients in re:iimmune can help give a boost when trying to stay well hydrated.

Speaking of water, another tip to keep in mind is avoiding super hot showers. Whereas ingesting water is excellent for your skin, frequent bathing in the colder, drier months can make dry skin worse. Keep the shower temps down and make sure to replenish the oils stripped from your skin during bathing with a good moisturizer. Check back next week for a post on how various plant oils, not lotion, might be your best bet!

Before we talk moisturizing, there’s another important step in keeping your skin at it’s best. Exfoliation is key! Dead skin cells need to be dealt with and there are several ways to do this. Alpha-hydroxy acids are essentially fruit acids that help to eliminate dead skin cells. One of the best is pineapple! In Sri Lanka, women have used pineapple on their skin for centuries to smooth their skin. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which literally eats up dead skin cells! Other great natural exfoliants include baking soda, apple cider vinegar, rice bran and oatmeal.

As with water, the food we eat plays a huge part in the health of our organs and skin is no different! Here are a few suggestions of items to add to your diet which have great benefits to your skin’s health. . .

Walnuts – Omega-3 fatty acids increase your skin’s ability to retain moisture.

Cantaloupe – Chock full of choline, Vitamin K and E which keep skin healthy and radiant.

Watermelon – No brainer! It’s 93% water, aiding in hydration. It also contains vitamins A, B6 and C to repair and protect your skin.

Kale – Some studies have shown that the indole-3-carbonal in Kale boosts DNA repair in our cells and may help block the growth of skin cancer cells.

Other food helpers in the struggle to keep skin looking great include strawberries, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and avocados. So eat, drink your water and keep your skin merry this winter season!

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!

#TBT – Witch Hazel – 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 wonderful Witch Hazel!

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Indigenous to North America, hamamelis or witch hazel has been prized for thousands of years for it’s astringent, anti-inflammatory and healing benefits. Native Americans boiled the bark and leaves to create an extract that was valued for its cooling and healing properties in treating swellings and inflammations. Early New England Puritans copied the idea and it’s use in America has been widespread after Dr. Charles Hawes found that steam distillation of the plant’s twigs was more effective. “Hawes Extract” came on the market in Essex, Connecticut in 1846. The process was further refined by Thomas Newton Dickinson, Sr. who began the commercial production of the product. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel is still on the market today.

Because it’s naturally rich in tannins, which have a drying effect, witch hazel’s astringent powers have been found to be helpful in treating hemorrhoids, minor bleeding and skin irritation from insect bites and poison ivy. Some folks have also had success in using it to treat psoriasis and eczema. Because of it’s skin tightening properties, it’s also effective at slowing down and stopping bleeding from small cuts and scrapes.

Witch Hazel is also prized by “Water Diviners” who practice an ancient technique called dowsing wherein a limb or branch of a tree is used to “divine” where water is located underground. They are also a great choice for landscaping as they are hardy, low maintenance and ignored by most pests. Whether you consider them a small tree or a large shrub, they are manageably sized, topping out at 10 to 20 feet. Some varieties will spread nearly as wide, making them a great addition when wanting to cover a lot of space in the yard. Best of all is the beautiful yellow glow you’ll see in your yard when its leaves turn in early autumn. Then in late fall, its spicy smelling, spidery shaped yellow flowers appear and will remain on the branches long after the leaves have fallen.

We can enjoy witch hazel’s beauty and also incorporate it into our own beauty routine! It’s commonly used as a toner and some folks claim that it helps to reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. To test it out for yourself, mix equal parts witch hazel and aloe vera gel and pat under the eyes. We’ve included links to some other Do-It-Yourself beauty products that include witch hazel below. Enjoy!

 

DIY Rosemary, Cedarwood and Witch Hazel Facial Toner

DIY Mouthwash with Witch Hazel, Peppermint and Aloe Vera Juice

Homemade Makeup Remover Wipes