Water is easy to overlook. But it’s the most important nutrient there is. And getting a pure source of water is harder than you’d think, especially if you want to stay “green” while doing so.

I have avoided straight drinking tap water for many years. When we moved to KY we discovered our house had a cistern, about which I was hesitant at first. Rainwater, rolling off the roof and into our pipes? But it worked fairly well, and with a three stage filtration system (big filter at the pump, smaller one under the kitchen sink, put that into a Britta), I was relatively comfortable with drinking that, especially since it started out as rain.

Two years ago though, our cistern cracked during a drought. Never having lived through a drought before, we didn’t know that one must actually water the foundation of a house to prevent it from cracking. Who knew? With the crack came water in the basement, not a big flood, but a seeping crawl that was nonetheless annoying.

So we had the cistern pumped out and fixed (five days to dry, oh my!) And went on our merry way. However the following spring, when we had beaucoup rain, the darned house shifted again and the cistern cracked yet again. That’s when I put my foot down, and we had a water line run down from the street (a not inconsiderable distance.) City water, yay!

Or, not so much. I am less than pleased with the city water we get. It smells very strongly of chlorine. I don’t like bathing in it, making tea with it (it also has a high mineral content), much less drinking it. So for the past while we’ve been buying distilled water at the store and bringing it home. Far from ideal, especially with the resultant empty plastic containers. Our area has no provision for recycling at all, so those all go in the landfill, which I hate.

So at this point I am researching Reverse Osmosis water filter systems. We used to have one when we lived in Duluth and I really liked it. They’re much cheaper than buying a distiller, and while there are downsides to each (RO systems need filters about every four months, distillers have to be cleaned each time), I think the RO system will work better for us.

But the bottom line for me is, I want and need the water we drink to be totally free of chemicals. This is an absolute for me. I know a lot of people are comfortable with drinking tap water, but I just am not, especially in light of recent studies such as this one: Tap water contaminant ‘castrates’ frogs found in an article released Monday from the National Academy of Sciences that discusses the presence of the herbicide Atrazine in common tap water across the US. Thanks, but no thanks to that! Happily, Home Depot sells a GE RO system for only a couple hundred dollars, and it shouldn’t cost too much to be installed. I’ll have to find somewhere else to store my plastic wrap and tinfoil, but I can live with that.

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To follow up yesterday’s post, here’s the recipe for an Elderberry Syrup you can make for children when they have colds or the flu:

(Warning: not for use by children under 2 years of age. If you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or breastfeeding, consult your health care professional before using this product.)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups dried Elderberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 pints water
  • Sterilized pint jars
  • Large stock pot or canner

In a medium pot add together the Elderberries, the sugar, and the water. Bring to a boil.

Simmer the ingredients until they are reduced by half, or 50%.

Pour the syrup into sterilized pint canning jars and seal.

Process the jars for 20 minutes in a water bath or canner.

Notes:

  • Refrigerate after opening.
  • Dosage for children is 1 tablespoon per day as a preventative; five days a week (take two days off.)
  • For help with a cold or the flu, take 1 tablespoon three times per day, five days a week (take two days off.)

Elderberry is an amazing curative for most viral issues. When put together with other anti-virals like echinacea and austragalus, it becomes even better. A number of years ago I ran across this great recipe for an Elderberry Tonic that I have found works wonders to prevent and heal colds and the flu. I normally purchase my herbs from the website www.mountainroseherbs.com, (with whom I have no connection other than being a satisfied customer), but you can use dried herbs from any source, although I prefer those that are organically grown:

Ingredients:

– 1 cup dried Elderberries

– 1/4 cup Echinacea

– 1/4 cup Astragalus

– 1/4 cup Horehound

– 1/4 cup Mullein

– 1/4 cup Peppermint

– 1/4 cup green tea

Put all these ingredients into a quart (or larger) jar and fill the jar with 80 or 100 proof Vodka. Put the lid on the jar and shake it well. Put the jar into a dark cupboard and take it out and shake it every day for a month. At the end of the month, strain out the herbs and rebottle the tincture. Some herbalists make their tinctures according to moon phases: starting the tincture on the dark of the moon, then decanting it on the second full moon afterwards (about six weeks later.) Others start their tincture on the full moon, hoping to potentize the tincture with the energy of the moon. Either way works well, as long as your intent is clear: to heal.

The alcohol will absorb all the properties of the herbs so there is no need for refrigeration. It will keep forever.

Dose:

Take 1 tablespoon twice a day as a preventative and 1 tablespoons 4 times a day if you have flu symptoms. Be aware that each quart has 16 ounces. Each ounce has 2 Tablespoons. 1 quart is a 32 day supply for one person when used as a preventative and a 16 day supply when used as directed when you have flu symptoms.

Tomorrow I’ll post directions for using glycerine to make the tonic alcohol-free for use with children, and a simple recipe for Elderberry Syrup for kids.

A wise friend of mine is known to say “When you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.” And it’s very good advice. Sometimes rushing into action is not the best idea. Our subconscious often has information about situations that we don’t access consciously. And when you’re at a crossroads of some sort or another and can’t decide what to do or which way to go, it is often a good thing to just not do anything.

I’m at that place right now about a certain aspect of my life. I feel as if I should make a decision which will affect both my life as well as that of my husband and children (not in a huge way, but it will affect them.) I just am not sure which way to go.

As I was out doing chores today in the snow (we live on a farm where we have horses, goats, and chickens) I found myself going over the possibilities in my mind. Just worrying at the decision like a dog will a bone. Still don’t know for sure what to do. So I decided, I won’t do anything. But I will ask for wisdom and clarity, which will help me to make the right decision.

Many of my friends are devout Christians, many follow other religions. But this advice works in pretty much any theology. If you don’t know what to do, pray to your diety for clarity and wisdom, and do it in a way that you are expressing gratitude for having been granted it.

The Universe is a funny place. Often, in order to “get” something, we are best served by giving thanks for that thing. So because I was seeking clarity and wisdom, I decided to thank God for it. As I did my chores, I said out loud “Thank you God for the clarity and wisdom to make the right decision.” I said it a number of times as I walked about with the water and feed (the critters didn’t seem to care at all, as long as they got their food!)

I know that for a number of years Affirmations were poked fun at by many, including the Stuart Smalley character on Saturday Night Live (which I found hysterical, fwiw.) But despite the humor, Affirmations really do work. If you say a thing out loud, you’re helping to create it in your life. What You Say Is What You Get, as it were (sort of like WYSIWYG on a computer.) If you put out there that things are bad, the Universe/God will give you bad things. If you put out there that you have good things, well then, that’s what you’ll get!

I know that sounds simple, and to a certain degree it really is. But I can’t emphasize enough how important your self talk is. Pay attention to how you speak about yourself and your life. See if you’re putting negative stuff out there, or if what you’re putting out is positive. And if it is negative, try making some changes to how you talk about things, and see if life itself doesn’t change too.

Saying a little prayer of gratitude for things you “want” is always a good way to make them happen/come about. So try being grateful for financial security, even if you’re not experiencing it now. Try saying thanks for good health, even if you’re struggling with a health issue at the moment. And most importantly, say these prayers of thanks out loud. Not only does God/the Universe need to hear them out loud, so does your subconscious.

And remember what that wise woman said, and if you’re not sure what to do, ask for guidance so that you’ll know it when it presents itself to you. Can’t hurt, might help a lot.

Most of my friends know I have dabbled in the Woo-Woo for many years. One of my favorite New Age modalities is Feng Shui, which is the Chinese art of “right placement.” It’s not complicated, it’s not hard to do, it’s really just a matter of decluttering your life and getting rid of things that impair the flow of Chi.

Chi is the life force that surrounds us and moves within us (in Japanese the word is Ki, which we see in the term Reiki.) Chi has no religion, or better yet, has all religions. Consider it the Breath of God if you will. But however you think of it, it pays to be aware of Chi.

There are lots of good websites that explain how Feng Shui works, as well as a number of great books. My personal favorite is “Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life” by Karen Rauch Carter. It’s a simple, yet thorough explanation of how Feng Shui can be used by anyone to improve their life in all its aspects: Love, Prosperity, Career, the works. If you feel like your life needs a push, if you’re stuck someplace you don’t want to be, or just thinking of making your life better, check that book out, it’s well worth it!

The basic principle of Feng Shui is to seek balance in your life. Most people start out by applying the principles to their home, but you can also Feng Shui your office, your apartment, even your car! But let’s start with your house. To begin, visualize (or better yet, draw) how your house is laid out, putting your front door at the bottom of the page. Then overlay the Feng Shui Bagua, which breaks every place into nine areas, like this:

The Feng Shui Bagua

The simplest thing to do is to figure out which areas in your life (and corresponding areas in your home) need improvement. Let’s say you’re out of work and looking for a job. Your first thought may be to spruce up the Prosperity area, which is never a bad thing, but perhaps you might want to make some improvements in the Career and Work area. Find that spot in your house and make it shine. Clear out any clutter, dust, mop, put some elbow grease into it. And you might be amazed at the results.

There’s no way I can cover everything there is to know about Feng Shui in a blog post, and no reason to try. Get Karen’s book, it really is amazing how easy it is to implement her cures and put Feng Shui to work for you. I have a number of stories about how using simple Feng Shui cures has improved my life and well-being, and I’ll no doubt blog about them as time goes on. But here’s a short one.

I have an eBay store. Lately sales have been pretty flat. I put my Feng Shui thinking cap on and thought about what I could do to increase sales. Helpful People – I needed some buyers! So I saw to it that my daughter (whose room is in the Helpful People corner) did some tidying up in her room (teenagers, you know how they can be.) Sure enough, about an hour or so later, I had three big sales. Coincidence? Maybe. But I think not. Chi was all stuck in there, and once she tidied up, the Chi could flow again, and Helpful People came into my store.

Try it, you might be amazed at the results.

No two ways about it, artificial sweeteners are just plain not good for you. Not that an excess of sugar is either, I’m not saying that at all. But the most common artificial sweetener, Aspartame, is just flat-out terrible.

Aspartame, commonly sold under the name Nutrasweet, has recently been re-branded by its owner Ajinomoto’ as a “new” product with a new name. And charmingly, they have renamed it “AminoSweet” and are touting it as being “natural.” “Natural” is a very slippery term, and I think that the perception that most folks have is that something labeled “Natural” is free from chemical additives and comes from ingredients that have not been chemically manipulated.

I don’t want to go into a huge diatribe about the evils of Aspartame, there’s a ton of info out there on the Internet about it, just Google the name and you’ll find over two million hits with information both pro and con. But if you sift through the info available out there, a number of facts come through:

  • Aspartame easily breaks down into phenylalanine, aspartic acid (aspartate) and methanol, which then turns into formaldehyde in the human body. There are many reasons why this is a bad thing, not the least if which are the effects on the human nervous system and the brain.
  • Aspartame actually inhibits the body’s ability to metabolize fat. Yes, that’s right. A diet additive can cause a reduction in your ability to lose weight. This happens when the chemical is ingested and goes straight to the liver, where it is broken down into the components shown above. During that process, the liver has less cells available to metabolize fat, so fat becomes stored rather than burned.
  • A study funded by Monsanto (which used to own the rights to the product) to study possible birth defects caused by consuming aspartame was cut off after preliminary data showed damaging information about aspartame. Have to wonder why they stopped investigating?

These are only a few of the reasons why artificial sweeteners like Aspartame should be avoided. I lump all the Aspartame brands together: Nutrasweet, Equal, Canderel. As well, I recommend avoiding the following: Neotame, Sucralose (Splenda, Altern), and Acesulfame-K (Sunette, Sweet & Safe, Sweet One.)

Stevia seems to be relatively safe to use, but as with any sweetener, I would avoid high amounts. It takes time, but you can train your body to do without sugar in your coffee or on your cereal, honey in your tea, or corn syrup in foods. Once you’ve gotten away from sugar/sweeteners in your food, you’ll be amazed at how sweet certain foods taste, almost to the point where they’ll make you gag.

Again, I’m not holding myself up as some paragon of healthiness here, I have a large and meaningful sweet tooth, no question of that. But if you must indulge your sweet tooth, do it with real sugar. Drink a Coke, not a Diet Coke. Or better yet, just go for some plain old water.

See these links for more info:

http://www.naturalnews.com/028151_aspartame_sweeteners.html

http://www.naturodoc.com/library/nutrition/aspartame.htm

http://www.wnho.net/aspartame_makes_you_fatter.htm

http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/embalm.html

http://www.mercola.com/article/aspartame/dangers.htm

If you do nothing else, if you get no other reference works when it comes to all things Natmed, there are two books you must have. Parent or not. Single, mother of multiples, senior citizen, doesn’t matter. These two books should come as operating manuals for every human:

Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch & Balch, and Family Guide to Homeopathy: Symptoms and Natural Solutions by Andrew Lockie. Between these two you can cover the spectrum of prevention and healing for yourself and others.


Although you should, you don’t have to read these books cover to cover, they are wonderful for when you’re dealing with a specific ailment and need good advice soonest. The Lockie book assumes you have access to a good health food store with a wide choice of homeopathic remedies, if you don’t, don’t panic, he often gives you several choices, and remedies can be ordered online easily these days.

These two are easily found at places like Amazon.com or B&N brick and mortar stores, you can even find older editions on eBay (older editions are likely just fine to use, my Balch & Balch is at least 14 years old.)

In later posts I’ll go into more depth about how to use homeopathy, how to pick the right remedy for a given person/situation, and how not to go off the deep end with vitamins (all too easy to do.) But for now, if you don’t have these books, get ’em!

All my Goose friends think I should blog about Natmed topics, so here I go.

I’ll start out by talking about the number one homeopathic remedy that should be in every household, in every first aid kit, and the purse/diaper bag of every mom: Arnica Montana. If you have nothing else, this is the one to have.

Normally, homeopathic remedies are specific to a persons’ symptoms, but there are some that are so broad in their effect that we can recommend them for anyone who suffers from certain things, and Arnica is one of them. Arnica is for any sort of trauma, be it a bump, bruise, tooth extraction, or even surgery.

Arnica in pill form comes in numerous potencies, and it is also available as a gel. For most of what I’ll cover in this blog, I generally suggest those who aren’t homeopathic experts to stick with the lower potencies, such as 6x,12x, 30x and 6c, 12c, and 30c. Using higher potencies is something best left to those more experienced with how homeopathy works. But the lower potencies are useful for anyone, even those new to the concept of homeopathic treatement.

Arnica in pill form is best given just after a traumatic event happens: baby falls down, toddler bashes fingers in door, adult slips and falls on her tailbone, anything like that. For acute issues like these, I like a 30x. Several pills under the tongue immediately, and re-dose after five minutes if pain has not lessened. I’ll do another blog post on how to dose with homeopathic remedies soon, but for now all you need to know is, as symptoms diminish, lessen the frequency of the doses. It doesn’t matter how many pills you use, two or ten have the exact same effect, it’s the frequency of the dosing that counts.

The other wonderful way to use Arnica is in gel form. My favorite brand is Boericke & Tafel Arniflora which can be found in any number of places both online and in your local health food store. It is only for use on unbroken skin, you don’t want to put it on an open wound. But it’s like magic for bruises!

My favorite story about Arnica gel revolves around a horse (not a surprise if you all know I live on a farm.) In 2001 my husband bought a new horse and had a vet check scheduled during the day when he was at work. I was the one who met the vet and had to trot the horse around so the vet could be sure he was sound. During the trotting, the horse (who my husband later named McAskill, after a Nova Scotian giant), managed to stomp my right foot so hard that I fell to the ground. I knew I was in trouble, so I limped to the house and immediately slathered Arnica gel on my foot and took several doses of Arnica in pill form. I was pretty sure I had at least one small broken bone in there, but was due to go out of town that day to an important seminar, so I just wrapped my foot up in Vet Wrap, put my boot back on, and hobbled on my merry way.

Later that evening in the hotel, I finally removed my boot. All over my foot was the colorful bruising I expected, but in green and yellow, which you would normally see in a bruise that had been healing for a week or so. Only in several small spots on my toes (where I had missed slathering the Arnica gel) could you see the deep purple of a serious bruise. I am convinced that had I not been so janey-on-the-spot with the Arnica gel I would have wound up with my foot in a cast. As it is now, I can tell when a storm is coming from the twinges in the foot, but all in all I was pretty lucky. And it makes a good story to tease my husband about.


James & Mac

Tip of the Day

A ten percent solution of Peppermint essential oil mixed with a neutral carrier oil, applied to the forehead can reduce or eliminate a headache in minutes.

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