The Perfect Bath

Stress causes all kinds of uncomfortable health problems. Letting yourself carry too much stress is one of the quickest ways to getting sick or shortening your life.

Finding a good way to relieve some of that stress is essential to good health. One of my favorite ways is to take the time to have a hot bath every week. Of course, bath and beauty products can be tricky. I know, once you start reading labels you start playing a game called “now what can’t I have?”

Instead of expensive bubble baths loaded with perfumes, colorants, and detergents, try Epsom Salts. Magnesium Sulfate, also known as Epsom Salts are a great option for soaking in the bath. It’s often used in foot baths and other soaking treatments to sooth sore muscles and reduce inflammation. Pour a half a cup in the bath and use your favorite bar soap to make some suds.

You don’t have to give up a refreshing scent either. To your half cup of salts you can add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil. Lavender is, of course, the classic for relaxation. If you’re feeling like you have cold coming on, Eucalyptus is a good option for opening up your sinuses. If a bath to wake you up is your goal, Peppermint will have a cool, tingling effect that’s welcome on hot summer days. Patchouli, Neroli, Rosewood, and others are beautiful soothing scents that you can choose from.

Just be sure that the oil you’re using can be used directly on skin or is properly diluted and as always, not all oils are appropriate for women who are nursing or pregnant.

With a few simple additions such as a cup of herbal tea or glass of wine, a good novel, and some music, you can have a hour that’s all for you. And you can do it naturally.

Ginger- the Wonder Root

I’m currently in England, hence the lack of posting, but I wanted to drop by and extol the virtues of ginger. When travelling, it is absolutely necessary to throw in your suitcase.

Every time I feel nauseated from unfamiliar food, the stress of travel, or surprisingly strong cider, I find myself nibbling on a slice of crystallized ginger for relief. It naturally helps calm your stomach, which is why ginger is usually a key ingredient in digestive teas. Though it is very hot on the tongue, the crystallized form is one of the easiest to travel with and eat.

Ginger teas are delicious as well, and widely available in the supermarket. Beyond relieving stomach upset, ginger is also an immune booster (which is great for travel) and can help open up clogged sinuses.

The warming sensation of ginger has long been thought to help increase blood flow and help relieve cramps. Some even recommend a poultice of ginger placed over the pelvis to help with especially severe cramps. The warmth can have an energizing effect as well.

If you’re feeling cold, tired, nauseous, or crampy, ginger might just be the perfect way to gently and naturally get yourself back in balance. I know I have come to depend on it.

Always check the Label!

When it comes to living more naturally, what you eat is always one of the biggest concerns. I mean, we all eat several times a day and those of us pursuing a healthier lifestyle have, no doubt, at one time or another despaired over how unhealthy much of the food that’s readily available is.

Eating food as close to its natural state is the easiest way to eliminate chemicals from your diet. Buy fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and prepare them yourself with herbs, spices, and other yummy natural flavors. Sometimes though, we all like a treat and baking can take a long time. So we grab some frozen yogurt or, one of my personal favorites has been Nutella. Yes there’s been a little “scandal” about Nutella lately. It mainly consists of hazelnuts and cocoa. I feel like it shouldn’t be a surprise to people that nuts and chocolate have fat and sugar in them.

That being said, I maybe buy a jar of it about twice a year. It’s great to spread on toast sometimes. The other day I was at the grocery store, contemplating a jar of it when I took a closer look at the label.

Image

Do you see that last ingredient there? Vanillin. Cheap artificial vanilla. You know, the kind you can taste in really sad ice cream and coffee flavor syrups. Now this isn’t the most harmful or terrifying of the chemical additives that one finds in their food nowadays, but it still bothers me. A product that brags about using real milk and cocoa has skimped out on the vanilla. I decided not to indulge in it because of this.

Just because a product advertises itself as something natural or has branded themselves in a positive, clean, natural way doesn’t mean you can skip the read-through. Breyers is a perfect example of this. Their “all natural” label really is made with milk, cream, sugar, and natural flavors. But not all of their ice cream is in spite of their advertising campaign.

So when it comes to buying anything premade, I always ere on the side of caution and make sure I read the label.

Visit Your Local Farm Store

Last week I made yet another trip down to Traugers, a farm along route 611 in Kintnersville PA. It’s a great family own farm and store. There are often children and dogs running through the store, in fact. If that doesn’t bother you then you can find many treasures therein.

They sell their own fresh produce as it comes in, as well as local honey, baked goods, candies, items from other local farms, and even some basic groceries like flour, apple butter (wait… that’s not a basic grocery?), and much more.

I picked up some of those great fresh beets in the upper left corner. They are terrific steamed or roasted.

Ideally, we should eat with the season. When a crop is in season we should make the most of it and enjoy it at its peak freshness.  Now, frozen and imported vegetables get us through the winter, but I blamed these (along with the worst culprit: canned vegetables) for being the reason why so many children and adults seem to hate vegetables.

First of all, there are so many different varieties of vegetables, it’s pretty impossible to hate them all. Just in the picture above there;s onions, garlic, beets, cucumbers, green beans, yellow beans. Something freshly picked is always better than something that’s taken a week or two from farm to table. That’s one of the best parts about supporting local farms.

The other great part is helping to keep alive family farms. More and more farmland is being bought up for development or sold to corporate farms to be used in prepackaged, over-produced food sold in grocery stores.

I think the best way to eat healthy is to know what you’re eating. Buying it straight from the source before it’s been tampered with or “improved” with chemical flavor enhancers, you know exactly what you’re getting. It gives you the opportunity to flex your creative culinary muscle with new recipes, or just nibble at something raw. Like these delicious little baby plums I bought a quart of:

They are only somewhat bigger than cherries with sweet, mild red flesh, and some tartness right around the pit.

Hopefully this has encouraged you to check out your own local farms to see what healthy and conscientious food choices you can make there. Many farms and orchards will even let you go out and pick your own apples, strawberries, and other fruits from their crop for a small fee.

Review: Burt’s Bees Sensitive Cleanser and Daily Moisturizing Cream

01400-00_xl_1

I’ve been a fan of Burt’s Bees products for a long time. Their lotions and lip balms have long been a staple for my boudoir. Last week I decided to try their new line for sensitive skin. I’ve been plagued with sensitive skin since I was a child. It will break out with the least provocation or dry out if left unchecked.

The cleanser is different than I expected. It’s completely soap free, so it doesn’t foam up like many facial cleansers. It goes on your skin like a light cream– reminding me a little of old fashioned cold cream cleanser, actually. However, this is much lighter and more soothing. Never do you feel like your skin has been stripped after using it. It contains no fragrances, but is enriched with Cotton and Rice extracts, as well as Aloe, Sugar Cane extract, and Witch Hazel. It’s extremely gentle and comes in a large 6 ounce tube. You only need about a nickel sized blob for each use, so it’s fairly economical for around $10 a tube.

The Daily Moisturizing Cream is much like the cleanser with it’s long ingredient list of soothing extracts. It’s a very light lotion that smooths easily into your skin leaving it comfortable, but not oily. Unfortunately, it’s only packed in 1.8 ounce bottles,  meaning you’ll likely run out of it sooner than the cleanser. It also seems a little steep coming in at about $15.

Overall, the system is a good one. It’s helped sooth some of the redness and irritation of my skin. What’s more, I can feel good about using these products because of Burt’s Bees’ commitment to using natural ingredients. I do wish that they would release a sensitive skin toner as well. For these hot summer days when my skin gets a little oily, it would make a great addition to the set. These are in no way miracle products that have given me perfect skin in a week, but I think they are having a positive effect and may have a greater one in the long term.

I give it 4/5.