Natural Flea Control for Pets

Natural Flea Control for Pets

Fleas are some of the most prolific and detrimental parasites to animals. Everyone knows their legacy: itchiness, allergies, infestation and even parasitic infection. Many people tend to assume that only harmful chemicals will get rid of an infestation. Alas, with these well-rounded natural treatments, you can send fleas running the opposite direction.

First, make sure your pet is as optimally healthy as possible. Raw food diets are extremely nutritious for a dog and can make their internal ecosystem and external landscape inhospitable to fleas. Probiotics such as yogurt help the pet’s immune system better deal with the allergies caused by fleas.

Essential Oils for Flea Control

Essential oils are very effective flea killers and repellents. Although it takes more than a monthly application as does the conventional medication given by the vet, it is much safer and smells great. Essential oils can be made into a spray by diluting them with water and adding a small amount of liquid Castile soap.

Experiment with combining each essential oil to see what works best. The most potent are lavender, eucalyptus, citronella, tea tree, lemon, lemon grass and peppermint. Use extreme moderation when applying essential oils to cats.

Neem oil is good to dilute (a few drops per bottle) in the pet’s shampoo. It is very good at killing fleas and fleas don’t like its scent. It can be applied directly on the coat and skin as well as diluted in a carrier oil. Topical need oil in a solution makes a healthy conditioner leaving your pet’s coat shiny and luxurious.

Diatomaceous Earth

Next, you may want to find some food-grade diatomaceous earth. This is the light colored, powdered remains of marine fossils. It is very soft to the touch for animals and humans, but to fleas, it is more like crushed glass. It destroys the outer coating and dehydrates the adult bugs as well as the larvae. It’s also deadly to other crawling insects. Dust-bath the pet thoroughly and spread a layer on carpet, furniture and the pet’s bedding. Vacuum it up the next day, and repeat the process if necessary.

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References

The Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth; Dogs Naturally Magazine; accessed July 8, 2014

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How to Have a Healthier Flight

How to Have a Healthier Flight

Whether traveling for business or leisure, flying may be involved. While flying is a fun activity for some more than others, many passengers have health concerns such as the spread of germs or poor circulation. However, there are a few commonsense flight health tips that not only make the next flight more enjoyable but a little healthier as well.

Avoiding DVT

DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, occurs when blood clots develop in the legs. DVTs are sometimes associated with flying, especially on long trips. The low pressure in the cabin and restricted movement plays a role in this, but so does dehydration. Avoiding this health complication while flying is not difficult though; Proper hydration and exercising can help prevent DVT. Many experts recommend frequently flexing the calf muscles and drinking ample water. It is also advisable to get up periodically and walk around the cabin.

Staving off Illness

Catching a “bug” on a flight is not all that uncommon. The close quarters and low level circulating air can be a breeding ground for germs. Refraining from touching the face, especially around the eyes, nose and mouth, can help prevent the spread of illness. Also, the traveler may want to bring along some hand sanitizing gel and eat a large, healthy meal beforehand.

What to Eat

Flying can have a negative impact on digestion. For this reason, many experts actually recommend eating prior to the flight. If the flight is particularly long, or if this is not possible, other recommendations include eating lightly and avoiding carbonated beverages. You can bring fresh fruit and vegetables for snacking. Unsweetened juice and water are good beverage choices, whereas caffeinated beverages and alcohol can increase the chances of dehydration. These considerations can help frequent fliers avoid problems such as gas, cramps and bloating that can sometimes occur during flights.

Next time you are planning a flight, take care of your health to avoid some of the health pitfalls of travelling.

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Reference

Carr, Coeli; Keeping Healthy While Flying; Web MD; Accessed July 24, 2014

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What is Leaky Gut?

What is Leaky Gut

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition associated with increased permeability of the intestines. The cells that control the release of nutrients from the intestine break down and become less efficient. Thus, more particles from digested foods can move into the blood stream from the intestine.

These compounds are still very small, but bacteria, mucous and other items can then be perceived by the body as infectious agents. This results in the triggering of the immune system response: extra production of white blood cells, irritation, swelling and a general feeling of being run down. The increased irritation can lead to additional infections — including ulcers, pain and cramping. None of this is good for the body.

A number of conditions can cause leaky gut. Some include intestinal surgery, aging, certain types of food allergies, celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Currently, there is no cure for these problems; however, leaky gut is not typically continuous but manifests itself as intermittent flare-ups.

Treatments might include antibiotics for infection or immune suppression drugs. Sometimes a diet change, such as the elimination of “trigger foods,” will result in improvement and the end of the symptoms.

There is still some discussion among doctors as to whether a leaky intestine is actually syndrome or a symptom, but most recognize that treatment is needed. Sometimes a variety of measures must be undertaken to resolve the condition.

Leaky gut often reasserts itself after being cured. Irritation of the bowel can cause the syndrome to keep reoccurring, but there are treatments available to address the flair-ups.

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Reference

Leaky Gut Syndrome; NHS Choices; accessed June 10, 2014

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What to Do if You Have Athlete’s Foot

What to Do if You Have Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that typically occurs on the feet. The infection is common among people who exercise or play sports; however, anyone can get athlete’s foot.

Fungus thrives in warm, dark, moist places, such as the inside of a shoe, locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools. Your bare feet come in contact with the fungus when you walk through a contaminated area. The fungus will grow if your feet or the area between your toes stays slightly wet.

Risk factors that increase your chances of getting athlete’s foot include:

  • A history of athlete’s foot infection
  • Walking barefoot in locker rooms or public places
  • Not keeping your feet clean and dry
  • Wearing air-tight or poorly ventilated shoes or boots
  • Sweaty feet
  • Hot, humid weather
  • Disorders of the immune system

Athlete’s foot symptoms usually start between the toes. It may spread to the soles or arches of the feet or to the toenails if the infection continues.

Symptoms often occur together and may include:

  • Dry skin
  • Itching, which gets worse as the infection spreads
  • Scaling
  • Cracking
  • Redness
  • A white, wet surface
  • Blisters

 Medications

Over-the-counter topical antifungals may be helpful. Tea tree oil is a natural ingredient with antifungal properties that can be helpful for milder cases. You should consult with your doctor if you don’t see any improvement within two weeks of trying topical antifungals. Prescription topical or oral medications may be more effective.

Tips

  • Gently wash your feet often (at least daily) with soap and water. Completely dry all areas, including between the toes.
  • Put a dusting of antifungal foot powder on your feet or in your shoes to absorb moisture.
  • Change your shoes and socks frequently.
  • Do not swim or use public locker rooms when you have an infection. This will help prevent spreading the infection to other people.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and allow your feet to breathe.
  • Wear cotton socks that pull moisture away from your skin.
  • Take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot at home when possible.

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References

This article is an encapsulation of an article by Debra Wood, RN, located in the iHerb Library. To see the full article and references, please visit: http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?token=0a1af489-5b4c-4f2d-978e-3930be13b1f6&chunkiid=12030

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Can 5-HTP Help Migraine Sufferers?

Can 5-HTP Help Migraine Sufferers

Many antidepressant drugs work, at least in part, by raising serotonin levels. The supplement 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) has been tried in cases of depression for a similar reason: the body uses 5-HTP to make serotonin, so providing the body with 5-HTP might, therefore, raise serotonin levels.

As a supplement, 5-HTP has also been proposed for all the same uses as other antidepressants, including aiding weight loss, preventing migraine headaches, decreasing the discomfort of fibromyalgia, improving sleep quality, and reducing anxiety. For the most part, 5-HTP is not found in foods; as a supplement, it comes from the seeds of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia).

Migraine and Other Headaches

Similarly, antidepressant drugs are often used for migraine headaches. Some, but not all, studies suggest that regular use of 5-HTP may help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, as well as help other types of headaches.

In a 6-month trial of 124 people, 5-HTP (600 mg daily) proved equally effective as the standard drug methysergide. The most dramatic benefits observed were reductions in the intensity and duration of migraines. Since methysergide has been proven better than placebo for migraine headaches in earlier studies, the study results provide meaningful, although not airtight, evidence that 5-HTP is also effective.

Similarly good results were seen in another comparative study, using a different medication and 5-HTP (at a dose of 400 mg daily).

Putting all this evidence together, it appears likely that 5-HTP can help people with frequent migraine headaches if taken in sufficient doses, but further research needs to be done. In particular, we need a large double-blind study that compares 5-HTP against placebo over a period of several months.

Therapeutic Dosages and Interactions

A typical dosage of 5-HTP is 100 to 300 mg 3 times daily. Once 5-HTP starts to work, it may be possible to reduce the dosage significantly and still maintain good results.

If you are taking:

  • Prescription antidepressants (including SSRIs, MAO inhibitors, or tricyclics), the pain drug tramadol, or migraine drugs in the triptan family (such as sumatriptan): Do not take 5-HTP in addition, except on a physician’s advice.
  • The Parkinson’s disease medication carbidopa: Taking 5-HTP at the same time might cause skin changes similar to those that develop in the disease scleroderma.

 Click here to see iHerb’s selection of 5-HTP products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

Note: This article was encapsulated by copy editor Assia Mortensen, on 6/11/14, from an article by EBSCO publishing on located in the iHerb.com library. To see the entire article and references, please click on: http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?token=e0498803-7f62-4563-8d47-5fe33da65dd4&chunkiid=21399

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Blueberry Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
Photo and Recipe from Selena Sharpless of The Nutritious Kitchen Blog

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients
(Makes 16-20 cookies)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place your cereal in a high powered blender or food processor and pule for a few seconds until it forms a flour texture. Combine cereal flour, oat flour, cinnamon, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a sepreate bowl combine apple butter, peanut butter and honey. Whisk until fully mixed then pour into dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until a batter forms. Fold in chocolate chips, blueberries and granola.
  3. Scoop about 1.5 tablespoons big of cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking tray. Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes until tops look golden.
  4. Let cool for 10 minutes before placing on a cooling rack. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Or store in the fridge, covered.

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup favorite cereal
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ⅓ cup apple butter (or apple sauce)
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup honey (or brown rice syrup)
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup favorite granola
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place your cereal in a high powered blender or food processor and pule for a few seconds until it forms a flour texture. Combine cereal flour, oat flour, cinnamon, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a sepreate bowl combine apple butter, peanut butter and honey. Whisk until fully mixed then pour into dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until a batter forms. Fold in chocolate chips, blueberries and granola.
  3. Scoop about 1.5 tablespoons big of cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking tray. Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes until tops look golden.
  4. Let cool for 10 minutes before placing on a cooling rack. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Or store in the fridge, covered.

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Rewards Code WOW123 to get $10 off your first order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off orders less than $40.

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Sea Salt Beauty Treatments

Sea Salt Beauty Treatments

What would life be like without salt? The stuff known to scientists as sodium chloride is essential to human life. A reasonable amount of dietary salt helps to maintain cells and transmit information throughout the body. Did you know that salt can also be used to promote beautiful, radiant skin?

Here are five ways you can use sea salt as a beauty treatment:

1. Exfoliate

Whether you buy Dead Sea Salt body scrubs or make your own with almond oil and sea salt, a salt scrub can be used to polish away dead skin cells almost anywhere on your body. Apply to wet skin and rinse thoroughly afterward.

2. Perfect Your Pearly Whites

Combine one part sea salt with two parts baking soda to make an effective tooth and tongue cleaner that costs a mere fraction of the price of most commercial toothpaste.

3. Saltwater Soak

Toss two or three handfuls of sea salt into your bath as the tub is filling. Let your cares soak away as the salt enhances your skin tone.

4. Purify Your Pores

Sea salt contains plenty of calcium that can help clear acne-prone skin in a hurry. Use a face-friendly exfoliating agent, or make your own with olive oil and sea salt. Massage gently onto wet skin and then rinse it away.

5. Say Goodbye to Dandruff

Add sea salt to your final rinse to help say farewell to itchy flakes.

Sea salt is preferable to regular table salt because it’s not been processed in any way. Typical table salt goes through several processes before being packaged for sale at your local supermarket.

On the other hand, natural sea salt contains potassium and other vital nutrients that are washed away during commercial manufacturing.

Click here to see iHerb’s selection of Sea Salt Beauty Products! New to iHerb?  Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Salt Uses and Tips; Saltworks US; accessed July 11, 2014

Long, April; Sea Salt Benefits; Elle magazine; January 10, 2012; accessed July 11, 2014

Why Do We Need Salt?; Royal Society of Chemistry; accessed July 11, 2014

Chowdhury, Nilankeeta; 15 Best Benefits of Sea Salt for Skin, Hair and Health; August 21, 2013; accessed July 11, 2014

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Filed under Skin Health, Women's Health/Beauty Info

Recent News on Children and Spray Sunscreens

Recent News on Children and Spray Sunscreens

Spray-on sunscreens have become very popular with adults and children alike. Using the spray bottle means that one does not have to put lotion on their hands first and spread the sunscreen around. These sprays are also a fast way to apply lotion to kids, who often don’t want to stand still very long. However, the FDA is investigating these sprays for nanoparticles, which can cause asthma attacks and breathing problems in some people.

Even worse, the nanoparticles have been shown to cause developmental delays in animal studies. These particles are formed from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide compounds, which are found in most sunscreens. This year, Consumer Reports recommended that spray sunscreens not be used on children at all because children are most susceptible to these effects. It is also recommended that no one use the sprays on their face or mouth area.

Besides the Consumer Reports warning, the American Academy of Dermatology supports this position along with many pediatricians. Overall, lotions are available that don’t have this problem, so it seems reasonable for parents to be cautious with using spray sunscreens, at least until more research is completed.

Sometimes developmental delays do not show up for many years, and it is generally young children who are the largest users of these sprays. If your child is asthmatic, they will often react to spray around the mouth and nose and could have an attack due to their habitual response to these influences. Parents who have the sprays can squirt the sunscreen on their hands and rub it on their children. The Federal Food and Drug Administration had not yet reviewed the research, nor have they made a recommendation.

There is also a potential of uneven coverage with sprays, which often necessitates spraying an area more than once. This is less of an issue with lotions where it is clear what body areas have been covered.

Natural and plant based sunscreens are available in lotion form. According to Consumer Reports, it may be wise to avoid using spray sunscreens on kids until more studies are completed.

Click here for a selection of iHerb’s Sunblock, Sunburn and Sun Protection Products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off any first order.

Resources

Consumer Reports, “Don’t Spray Sunscreen on Kids, At Least For Now,” accessed July 10, 2014

The 21 Most Affordable Natural Sunscreens; Good Housekeeping; accessed July 16, 2014

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Filed under Children's and Teen Health, Skin Health

The Best Sundried Tomatoes Made Right at Home

Dried tomatoes

If you love sun-dried tomatoes and want to try drying your own, the first thing you should know is which types of tomatoes dry the best. The smaller, firmer, and meatier the tomato is, the better it is for drying. Therefore, cherry, plum and Roma tomatoes are your top choices.

Although some people prefer to, you do not have to remove the seeds before drying. Try drying out some with their seeds and some without to discover your taste preference. The same goes for the skins. Some people prefer to dry them with their skins, and some prefer to dry them without.

If you prefer skinless tomatoes, just put a few tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for a little over 30 seconds, and then plop them into ice water. This process allows the skins to slip off with minimal effort.

Then, cut your tomatoes into lengthwise quarters and discard any unusable parts — including the seeds, if you prefer them seedless. Place the quarters onto the dehydrating tray of your food dehydrator or on a cookie sheet, spreading them out so that they don’t touch. You may want to season with sea salt, thyme, oregano or basil, depending on your taste.

When using a food dehydrator, set the temperature for 140 degrees and allow the tomato slices to dehydrate for three to eight hours. Oven drying takes 10 to 20 hours at 150 degrees. When drying tomatoes outside spread the fruit slices onto a tray with holes, like food dehydrator trays, and place that tray over a cookie sheet to catch the juicy runoff. Cover your fruits with a light cloth to keep dust and insects away; weight down the cloth on the edges. Drying outside in hot weather typically takes two days. Store them inside spice containers or freezer bags.

It’s nice to know that even in their dried state, tomatoes keep their fiber, minerals and supply both vitamins A and K. Get creative! Use your dried tomatoes in breads, pesto, salads, dips, spreads, and egg dishes such as quiches and omelets.

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Rewards Code WOW123 to get $10 off your first order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off orders less than $40.

References

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes; PicYourOwn; accessed April 28, 2014

Drying Tomatoes FAQs; Tomatodirt; accessed on April 28, 2014

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Are Relaxation Drinks Safe?

Are Relaxation Drinks Safe

Due to our increasingly stressful lifestyles, the newest craze on the market is relaxation drinks. Most are a combination of herbs, amino acids and natural hormones; but do they actually work?

One study suggests that while you pay a premium price for some of these beverages, you don’t always get what’s on the label.

Relaxation Drink Ingredients

A number of ingredients are included in varying formulations in relaxation drinks, and most are safe when consumed in moderation. However some have potentially dangerous medication interactions.

Herbs such as Valerian root and Kava have been used for centuries for relaxation and sleep. Studies show that amino acids 5-HTP and L-Theanine may promote relaxation. GABA has been shown to relieve anxiety for some people and Melatonin may safely promote sleep.

Prevention magazine conducted a review of several brands and found that some of the ingredients that were claimed to be included were not present, or they were in much smaller amounts than stated on the label. Many times, this is due to the tendency of that substance to break down in liquid or to degrade quickly. For example, one product claimed to contain Valerian, which was not found at all. It would be more reliable to take the supplement itself to get the best results.

Dangers of Excessive Use

In the same Prevention study, one brand claimed to contain Kava. You should not take Kava if you are a regular drinker, have existing liver problems or have just taken acetaminophen. Valerian is another ingredient that Dr. Andrew Weil recommends not using on a regular basis, due to the potential for dependency.

Don’t use relaxation drinks if you will be driving or operating machinery. Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends – avoid them while doing anything requiring focus and concentration.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Relaxation Drinks! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Dr. Tasneem Bhatia; What You Need to Know About Relaxation Drinks; doctoroz.com; accessed March 4, 2014

The Editors of Prevention; The Truth About Relaxation Drinks; ABCnews.go.com; accessed March 4, 2014

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Filed under Food (Benefits, Cooking and Nutrition), General Health