Crafting an Herb Garden in Containers

Crafting an Herb Garden in Containers

No matter where you live, be it an apartment in the middle of a bustling city or on acres of rural land, growing your own herb garden is the most cost-effective way to guarantee you always have a large supply of fresh herbs. As many are aware, fresh herbs taste better as seasoning than most jarred options. Consider the following when creating your own garden.

Use Big Pots

If you want plenty of one herb, you need space for it to grow. Even though store-bought plants already come in tiny containers, invest in pots that are at least twice as big. The added space will give your plant the extra room and nutrients necessary for it to grow into something more impressive.

Mix the Soil

If you happen to also drink coffee, there’s a use for the grounds. When you go to transfer the little plant to its newer, larger abode, mix its new potting soil with coffee grounds using a ratio of nine parts soil to one part grounds. In small amounts, the coffee grounds work as a great fertilizer.

Label the Plants

Some people use little handcrafted signs while others simply write on the pots with marker. Either way, make sure you know which plant is which. In time, it will be no challenge for you to distinguish basil from cilantro, but it’s more difficult to distinguish plant types when they have just popped out of the soil.

Consider Sunlight

Sunshine is every plant’s source for food. Without it, they use up all of their nutrients and die a quick death. Now that you have an herb garden ready to go, figure out the best place to put your plants. Some, like basil and rosemary, flourish in direct sunlight. Others, such as chicory, parsley and wild ginger prefer an indirect light source. Never be afraid to move the plants around. If it seems they are doing poorly in direct sunlight, or vice versa, try a shadier area to see if they grow better.

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References

MichelleMin; Mini Indoor Herb Garden; Instructables; accessed March 24, 2015

Reader Intelligence Report; The 5 Best Pieces of Advice If You Want to Start a Small Container Garden; The Kitchn; accessed March 24, 2015

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Three Signs of a Panic Attack

Three Signs of a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are surprisingly common for many people around the globe. Web MD estimates that about one in one hundred people have them. Although some may only suffer through one or two panic attacks during their lifetime, other people may experience one or more episodes each day. What used to be written off as a minor case of the nerves, or something that could be cured by resting, is now recognized by medical doctors as a treatable medical problem.

Those who have never had a panic attack may believe that the individual is making up the symptoms or just exaggerating. However, individuals in the midst of an attack sometimes feel as if they are having a heart attack or are about to die. Panic attacks are no laughing matter; they must be taken seriously and addressed with one’s physician should they occur. The following three symptoms are among the most common.

Fear and Anxiety

While many panic attack symptoms are physical, some are mental. For the length of the attack, usually around 10 minutes, the individual may feel extremely anxious and frightened that they are dying. They often feel as if they have lost control. Sometimes, this sense of anxiety may permeate the majority of the day because the individual can never predict when another attack will occur.

Heart and Respiratory Issues

Many of the physical symptoms mimic those of a heart attack, which makes it difficult to determine what is occurring. These symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing and a racing heart rate. The person may feel the need to lie down and may have trouble slowing their breathing. This can lead to hyperventilation, dizziness and even fainting.

Shaking

One common set of panic attack symptoms are those typically associated with an adrenaline rush. Shaking hands and knees are very common, and some may even experience trembling of their tongues or feet. Along with the shaking, they may feel very warm and flushed, or they may develop chills.

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References

Goldberg, Joseph, MD; Panic Attack Symptoms; WebMD; accessed March 24, 2015

Fawcett, Kirsten; How to Tell if You’re Having a Panic Attack – and What to Do; U.S. News and World Report; accessed March 24, 2015

Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder; Mayo Clinic; accessed March 24, 2015

Understanding Panic Attacks; Web MD; accessed March 24, 2015

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Cleaning with Mineral Oil

Cleaning with Mineral Oil

One of the persistent problems in the kitchen is the collection of oil splatters on appliances, especially in hard-to-reach areas on stainless steel. If you have tried to clean these areas with a wet cloth, you will find that while the dust is removed, the oil splotches stay behind. This is because water does not mix well with oil. To completely remove the oil, you need to clean up the grease – ironically — with oil.

Only oil has the chemical compounds that mix well with another oily compound. The best oil to use for your house cleaning is mineral oil. To clean with it, dampen your paper towel or clean cloth with mineral oil. As you wipe the greasy areas, you will find the mineral oil will remove all of the grease on your appliances. Viola! A clean kitchen awaits you.

The mineral oil will leave a very thin residue on your appliances. This is fine; as it will actually help protect the surfaces from further accumulation of dust and grease. Most wood products for the kitchen such as utensils or cutting boards are already primed using food-grade mineral oil. This adds to the longevity of the product as well as creating a more polished appearance.

If you do not have mineral oil, vegetable oil will make an acceptable substitute. However, over time, any film left behind will become yellowish due to other chemicals that may be in the vegetable oil, but are not found in mineral oil. If you need to use vegetable oil, simply return to using mineral oil during your next cleaning session.

Most people do not think about the ease of using oil to clean off oil. But, on reflection, it makes sense to use mineral oil to clean oil-based messes. A clear oil is a great choice for cleaning up the oil splatters in your home. Try it!

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Reference

Peltier, Karen; Mineral Oil: What It Is, How It’s Used in Cleaning, & More; About Home; Accessed March 29, 2015

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Bursitis Basics

3d rendered illustration of a painful shoulder

Bursitis is a relatively common problem that can cause chronic joint pain. Many people live with the arthritis-like symptoms, such as stiffness and joint pain that this disorder causes.

Bursitis is caused by inflammation in the bursa of a joint. A bursa is a small sac filled with lubricating fluid that is located between two bones in a joint. A bursa serves as a cushion between the two bones, which reduces wear and tear. Unfortunately, when the bursa becomes inflamed, it can cause pain and stiffness.

Bursitis can be caused by a variety of factors. It is associated with repetitive motion in that joint. In addition, it can be caused by other disorders that involve inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and thyroid disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Bursitis usually begins with joint pain. This can happen suddenly or gradually build up. The pain occurs within joints that have a bursa, including the elbow, shoulder, knee and hip.

The pain from bursitis is usually worse with movement, then stiffness can gradually develop. For this reason, many people who suffer from this disorder stop moving the affected joint. However, if a shoulder is not moved regularly, bursitis can lead to adhesive capsulitis, or “frozen shoulder,” in which the shoulder is unmovable. Sometimes surgery is required for this condition.

Treatment for Bursitis

There are several different treatments for bursitis. To prevent the disease, it is important to warm up before doing physical activity, while avoiding strenuous and repetitive motion. Once bursitis has developed, it can be treated with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. Doing gentle range-of-motion exercises as advised by a doctor or physical therapist can prevent stiffness.

Bursitis is a common and painful issue. However, it usually can be treated non-invasively. It is important to immediately stop the activity that caused the irritation and inflammation so that the joint can completely heal.

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References

Editors; Bursitis; WebMD; Accessed March 22, 2015

Staff; Bursitis; Mayo Clinic; Accessed March 22, 2015

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Sea Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

Sea Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips
Photo and Recipe from Lindsay Ambile of The Local Taste Blog

Sea Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Rinse kale and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Pull off kale leaves from the inner ribs. Make the leaves as uniform as possible (about potato chip size)
  4. Place kale leaves in a large bowl.
  5. Pour oil and vinegar over kale leaves.
  6. Using your hands toss the kale with the oil and vinegar making sure to coat it as evenly as possible.
  7. Place coated kale leaves on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle kale with sea salt.
  9. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until leaves are crisp and slightly browned.

Sea Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. white vinegar
  • sea salt for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Rinse kale and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Pull off kale leaves from the inner ribs. Make the leaves as uniform as possible (about potato chip size)
  4. Place kale leaves in a large bowl.
  5. Pour oil and vinegar over kale leaves.
  6. Using your hands toss the kale with the oil and vinegar making sure to coat it as evenly as possible.
  7. Place coated kale leaves on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle kale with sea salt.
  9. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until leaves are crisp and slightly browned.

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What in the World is Horny Goat Weed?

What in the World is Horny Goat Weed?

While researching herbs and supplements, have you ever come across something and asked yourself, “what in the world is that?” This series of articles will give you insight about some of the lesser-known herbs currently available on the market. From there, you can decide whether it’s a natural remedy worthy of further exploration.

Today, it’s all about Horny G0at Weed!

Horny goat weed, also known as epimedium, is an herb that is used in a variety of ways in alternative medicine. Despite the unsophisticated name, this herb has been proven to have a variety of positive health effects, especially on joint pain and stiffness.

History

Horny goat weed grows mainly in China. It is a hardy wildflower plant, although the leaves are the part that is used medicinally. It has a variety of uses in traditional Chinese medicine, although it is mainly used as an aphrodisiac. According to Chinese legends, its use as an aphrodisiac was discovered when a farmer noticed amorous behavioral changes in his goats after grazing on the plant.

Uses

Horny goat weed has been shown to be an aphrodisiac due to a compound in the leaves that is similar to the medication, Viagra. However, horny goat weed may be used for both osteoporosis and joint pain. It appears to have phytoestrogen compounds that stimulate the activity of osteoblasts, which build bone. In addition, it appears to increase blood flow to joints, which, in some people, increases lubrication, decreases pain, and decreases degeneration.

Cautions

Because horny goat weed contains several active compounds, it can have side effects and interact with some other medications. It should be avoided by women who are breastfeeding or pregnant. Because it decreases blood clotting, it shouldn’t be taken by people with bleeding or clotting disorders. In addition, its phytoestrogens may make hormone-sensitive conditions, including certain types of cancers, worse. In addition, it lowers blood pressure. It should not be taken by people who are on anti-hypertension or anti-clotting medications. As with any new remedy, it is wise to check with your health team before starting.

Click here to check out our selection of Horny Goat Weed products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Editors; Horny Goat Weed; WebMD; Accessed February 5, 2015

Yin, XX et al; Icariine Stimulates Proliferation and Differentiation of Human Osteoblasts by Increasing Production of Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2; Journal of Chinese Medicine; Accessed February 5, 2015

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Filed under Herbs and Supplements

How to Sleep Better with Seasonal Allergies

How to Sleep Better with Seasonal Allergies

If you have seasonal allergies, the spring foliage probably isn’t an inviting sign for you. In fact, you’re probably already wondering how you’re going to sleep at night and go out during the day.

Help is on the way…Use these tips to help you sleep better during allergy season so you can face the day rested. Sleep is important, especially for allergy sufferers!

Use Saline Spray

Saline nasal spray can help you clear nasal passages, making it much easier to breathe. You can also limit nighttime sneezing by using saline sprays. However, it should be noted that they can be addictive, so using them for more than three days is not recommended. If you do, the nasal passages could swell and your airways may be restricted until the effects wear off.

Purchase an Air Filter

Portable air filters can help you to get rid of basic allergens in your home, or at the very least minimize your exposure to them. Put your portable air filter in the bedroom and let it run to keep the air as clean as possible so you can sleep through the night. Be sure to change filters often, if your unit requires it.

Wash Your Sheets Regularly

Clean sheets feel great, but when you have allergies, they’re more important than just how they feel. You probably want to change your sheets approximately twice per week if you have seasonal allergies to keep pollens and dander off, especially if you open your windows to cool the house.

Limit Pollen Exposure

It might sound obvious, but even people with seasonal allergies like cool air in their homes. However, you may need to keep those windows closed, particularly when the pollen count is or has been high. Check pollen counts in your area to gauge how problematic those open windows will be if you must have that cool spring air.

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References

Best Health Staff; 10 Ways to Sleep Better During Allergy Season; Best Health; accessed April 6, 2015

Bruce, Debra Fulghum, PhD, Treating Allergies at Night: Are Allergies Keeping You Awake?; WebMD; accessed April 6, 2015

Kittaneh, Firas; 9 Ways to Sleep Better During Allergy Season; Huffington Post; accessed April 6, 2015

Iliades, Chares, MD; Sleeping Better with Allergies; EverydayHealth; accessed April 6, 2015

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Filed under Allergy, Asthma and Respiratory Info, Sleep Center

5 Everyday Habits for a Calmer Life

5 Everyday Habits for a Calmer Life

With the stresses of the modern world weighing on your shoulders, it can sometimes feel like you aren’t able to find one minute of peace in your 24-hour day. Work, family, friends and other daily obligations can very easily become overwhelming and stressful.

Here are five tips to help give your life a bit more tranquility.

#1: Be Prepared

The easiest way to deal with stresses in your life is to alleviate as many as you possibly can. Many times, this can mean being more prepared for everyday things. Something as simple as setting out your clothes the night before your big meeting can mean a less stressful morning, which will more than likely lead to a more productive and efficient day. Being fully prepared for tasks and routines creates a little bit more time, and you may notice less rushing in your daily life.

#2: Get Plenty of Sleep

Do not underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Being fully alert and energized allows you to deal with and solve everyday problems that come up with far less aggravation and stress.

#3: Watch What You Eat

It can be tempting to live on fast food and take-out when you haven’t had time to cook. Instead of burgers and fries, opt for healthy foods that require minimal preparation. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw and sometimes do not need to be refrigerated, if you need more fuel on the go.

#4: Make Time for Yourself

Take five minutes out of your busy day and just do some deep breathing. You can sip a cup of tea or coffee, or go for a walk. Take the time to focus on yourself will allow you to take a break from the demands of everything else in your life.

#5: Minimize

If there is clutter, either physical or emotional, in your life that is causing you stress, it may be time to reconsider who and what you have in your life. Sometimes, cleaning out your closet and/or your contact list can be just the change you need to live a more peaceful and Zen life.

It is impossible to remove all of the stress from our lives. However, if we take care of ourselves and do the best we can, we can at least make our lives better.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of products for Stress and Mood Support! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

Reference

Barry, Leslie;7 Steps to Instant Calm; Accessed March 9, 2015.

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Filed under Mental Health, Stress Management

Pillow Talk: Is it Time for a New One?

Pillow Talk: Is it Time for a New One?

Pillows are often forgotten on the list of household things that need occasionally replaced. We replace our air filters and light bulbs. Even our mattresses get replaced when they wear out. Why is it that we forget to replace our pillows? Many of us have had our pillows for years and years without a single thought about them. This means years of declining head and neck support. It also means potential filth build up that we are sleeping on.

While there is no hard and fast rule for the duration a pillow can last, as it depends on the way the pillow is made, if it is showing clear signs of wear, it is probably time for a new one.

 Neck Support

When a pillow has been slept on for an extended period of time, the materials inside (either foam or synthetic stuffing) begin to compact. The weight of a human head for eight hours every night, for hundreds of days, causes the materials to break down. This means that your head and neck are not well supported while you are sleeping; and if they are under-supported, it can affect your whole body.

The Fold-Test

It is recommended that you do something called “the fold test” to determine whether or not your pillow is need of replacing. This is when you fold a pillow in half, squeeze all of the air out and hold it for 30 seconds. If the pillow does not spring open when released, the materials have likely worn out, and it is time to replace it.

Dust Mites and Other Dangers

Another reason it is recommended to replace your pillow more regularly is because of the filth that collects in it over the years. Dead skin from hundreds and hundreds of nights is exactly the kind of environment that attracts dust mites. These tiny pests from the spider family are drawn to places like carpet, mattresses and pillows because of this buildup. Fungal spores can also live in the moist environment of a pillow. The buildup of face oil in your pillow can also cause skin problems like acne.

If there is still enough spring in the pillow after trying the fold test, you can launder the pillow with bleach in order to kill dust mites, mold and to remove dirt from the casing. Be certain to dry the pillow thoroughly in a hot dryer or on a clothesline on a sunny day.

With all of the negative health effects an old pillow can have – from neck pain to dust mites — it might be time to add pillows to the list of things that you need to replace.

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Reference

Klien, Sarah; The Gross Truth About How Often You Should Replace Your Pillow; Huffington Post; accessed April 4, 2015

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Can Acupressure and Acupuncture Help Headaches?

Can Acupressure and Acupuncture Help Headaches?

If you have regular headaches, acupuncture and acupressure may help to alleviate some of the troublesome symptoms you experience. While acupuncture should only be done by a licensed practitioner, acupressure (the use of pressure points on the body to stimulate energy and alleviate pain) can be done on your own. Read on to learn more about the benefits of these types of treatments for headache relief.

Many headaches are caused by tension in the muscles, especially in the shoulders. Acupressure, also known as reflexology, is the manipulation of pressure points that correspond to different areas of the body. By putting pressure on the designated points, you can help alleviate the tension you’re feeling, which will, in turn, take away or lessen your headache pain. To take it a step further, you can consult an acupuncture practitioner, who can insert minuscule needles in these points for a similar result.

One acupressure point, known as “the gates of consciousness,” is located at the base of the neck and releases endorphins that provide natural pain relief. Gradually apply pressure in the two hollows below the base of the skull, and in the hollows on both sides of the neck, between the two vertical neck muscles.

Another, known as “the valley of harmony,” is located at the web between your thumb and forefinger. Apply pressure with your opposite thumb and, when you begin to feel a slight soreness, hold for two minutes. Do so on both hands for optimum results.

The third eye point is located at the bridge of the nose, equally distant from each of your eyes. Put pressure on this point for a full minute to help relieve your headache symptoms.

For best results, put pressure on the acupressure points several times during the day, especially if you’re not feeling the results you expect. These therapies are not instantaneous; instead, you can expect a gradual healing process from your headache pain. Several clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of acupressure and acupuncture to relieve headache pain, however these therapies don’t work for everyone. Consult a specialist if you have regular and/or severe headaches as they can be an indication of a more serious condition.

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References

Gach, Michael Reed, Ph.D.; Acupressure Points for Headaches, Stiff Neck & Pain Relief; Acupressure Points; accessed March 10, 2015

Mukherjee, Bipasha; 6 Effective Acupressure Regions to Treat Migraine and Headaches; Modern Reflexology; accessed March 10, 2015

Ni, Mao Shing, Ph.D; 3 Pressure Points to Heal Yourself; The Dr. Oz Show Blog; accessed March 10, 2015

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Filed under Alternative Therapies, Pain Relief