Easy Poultice for Insect Stings – What’s your favorite way?

I taught a class on herbal first-aid recently and we went over a variety of home remedies for simple concerns that arise with more time outside when the weather is nice — bites, stings, rashes, cuts, etc.

IMG_0795One of the topics was bee/wasp/hornet stings. Ouch!  It was interesting to hear all of the ways that people manage this at home.

My favorite is very simple and we’ve used it three times in the past year!

Before applying anything, try to remove the stinger.  Use tweezers or even scrape a credit card along the skin to dislodge it.  This will go a long way in preventing the area from continuing to be painful and irritated.

Then, make a thick paste with equal parts baking soda and clay to neutralize the area and remove toxins that cause the sting.  Seriously, that’s it!

Get a tablespoon or so of both baking soda and clay (I use kaolin), add enough water to form a paste, and apply this to the bite.  Allow to dry and just let it sit there for as long as necessary. You can reapply every 30 minutes or so to keep soothing the area.  Also, I often add a drop or two of tea tree or lavender essential oil to the paste to further help relieve the sting and calm the area.

I have a few packets of the mix leftover if you’re looking to have some on hand!

IMG_2717You can also buy your own baking soda and kaolin clay.  I recommend using Mountain Rose Herbs, especially because they have aluminum-free baking soda!

And, another trick for stings if you’re away from home – grab a leaf of the common weed Plantain (Plantago major), crush it up in your hands (or even chew it!) to release the juices and stick this wad of goopy plant material right on your sting.  It will help to relieve the sting quickly and also helps to draw out toxins.  In fact, it’s a good plant to know for any bug bites you get while outdoors (you should see me while camping, I have tend to have little wads of plantain all over!).

IMG_0622What’s your favorite way to deal with stings naturally?

Come to the next class on the farm (October 8, 2015) where we’ll be discussing herbal remedies to help with the transition to Fall. This class is sponsored by the Holistic Moms Network and it is helpful if you register.

herbalsupportfall

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Homemade Lavender Mustard

Around here, summer is still in full swing.  It’s been hot, the garden is starting to produce a lot, and we’ve been enjoying our very full days around the farm.

Recently, we had family visiting for a week and I had a request for mustard.

Uh-oh!  I had the mustard seeds sitting right there ready to make a fresh batch, but this summer grilling essential still had not been made.

I decided it was time, and it’s too bad it took me so long because it’s really very easy.  The hardest part is that you must soak the mustard seeds for two days so in this respect it does require a little advanced planning.

I decided to get a little adventurous and try this lavender mustard recipe by Rosalee de la Foret.

Yum! I’m glad I did.

Here are all the ingredients, most of which I gathered from Mountain Rose Herbs

  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds (or you could use only yellow mustard seeds as we did for a milder flavor)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon lavender flowers (omit or choose a different herb if you desire)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

First, the mustard seeds, apple cider vinegar, and water are mixed in a bowl.  Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for two days.

After the seeds have softened for two days, place the seed and liquid mixture in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.

Blend together until you have a mustard paste. Easy!

mustard

This recipe makes about a pint and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

To see Rosalee’s original recipe on Learning Herbs click here.

To purchase ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs click here.

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

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FTC DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary or other compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services within this article. However, it is my promise to you that I am sharing my honest opinion and that I only recommend products or services that I have personally used or recommend and are in alignment with Light Footsteps ideals.

Common Sense Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for educational purposes only.  It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition or ailment.  Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns and before making changes to your lifestyle, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a preexisting health condition.  

Make your own sunscreen at home! ~ Sun Stick Recipe ~

Now that things are heating up outside, it’s time to break out the sunscreen!

But not so fast…have you seen some of the warnings and fact sheets about conventional sunscreen?

Ugh. It’s not fun news that many of the most common brands contain chemicals that are endocrine disruptors, common allergens, and can be detrimental to the environment.

What’s more confusing is that despite our increased use of sunscreens, skin cancer is on the rise and many Americans have Vitamin D levels that are way too low (vitamin D is critical for healthy bones and a strong immune system).

We certainly still need to protect ourselves from the sun, but maybe we need to rethink the way that we’re finding our protection.

So how do we do this while still staying safe from excessive and dangerous exposure to UVA and UVB sun rays?

Here are some of the top tips:

  • Wear big hats, shirts, and pants to protect your skin from the sun.
  • Go outside in the early morning or late afternoon rather than at mid-day when the sun is most intense.
  • Hang out in shaded areas, or bring shade in the form of umbrellas.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
  • Research sunscreen options and find the best, safest choice for your family when you must be out in direct sunlight!

Continue reading

Herbal Baby Powder

Recently I made a fresh batch of herbal baby powder as part of a friend’s baby shower gift.

IMG_1360Other than saving money and the fun that comes with homemade projects, why might you want to make your own baby powder?

Unfortunately, many conventional powders contain talc which can be very irritating to our mucous membranes, especially if inhaled.

Here’s what Dr. Weil has to say about talc in baby powder:

Talc is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. The danger is that babies can easily inhale tiny particles of it that are light enough to be carried in the air. When inhaled, talc can dry an infant’s mucous membranes, adversely affect the baby’s breathing, and cause serious lung damage. Studies have shown that talc can lead to shortness of breath and wheezing in babies and can also lead to obstruction of the airways. Some babies have developed pneumonia and some have died as a result of respiratory failure from inhaling the powder. — Dr. Weil, found here.

Luckily, it’s easy to make homemade baby powder with ingredients that are more baby friendly.  This recipe contains arrowroot powder and kaolin clay.  Arrowroot powder is a lightweight powder made from the root of the arrowroot plant and helps to absorb moisture.  Kaolin clay is one of the mildest clays and wonderful for people with sensitive skin.  It is naturally absorbent and helps to stimulate circulation to this skin while gently cleansing.  It does not draw oil from the skin so will not rob the skin of its own healing properties.

Chamomile and calendula powders are also included because they are gentle herbs that have traditionally been used to help soothe sensitive or irritated skin. Continue reading

Spring is on the Way {So is the New Herbal Wellness Basket!}

You know we’re getting closer to Spring in Ohio when it’s 45 degrees outside and I’m pulling out the lawn chair to soak up the sun.

Yes, there may still be snow on the ground, but these spring rays are just begging for someone to soak them up.  I will. IMG_0811

In the past week, the bird song has increased steadily each morning.  In addition to the usual chorus of black capped chickadees and cardinals, I’ve even begun hearing the red-winged blackbirds outside.  This is surely a sign that Winter’s fingers are unfurling their grasp around Northeast Ohio.

With the warming days we’ve been out playing in the yard, and joyfully been exploring the process of tapping our maple trees.  We do, after all, live in the heart of Ohio’s maple syrup kingdom.

IMG_0801 Continue reading

Steer Clear of Toxins to Improve Health and Fertility

Today I have a guest post from Nita Ewald of Nurture with Nita.  We are both members of a local women’s group of holistic health providers and educators.  I’m pleased to share with you this piece about the importance of avoiding toxins to improve your overall health and in particular, your fertility.

Steer Clear of Toxins to Improve Health and Fertility

Nita Ewald

A bucket of domestic cleaning products

Couples thinking about starting a family in 2015 should begin by taking a closer look at the products they use. They might want to switch deodorant and throw out the waffle iron. Continue reading

Catnip Cloths for Teething

Catnip: it’s not just for driving your kitty a little crazy.

Although its use as a cat crazy-maker is probably the first thing that comes to mind for many, catnip (Nepeta cataria) is actually a useful medicinal plant.  Historically, it has been used for a variety of childhood ailments including cough, asthma, and colic. Indeed, research has found its chemical constituents to have spasmolytic and bronchodilatory properties which provide support for this traditional use (see resources below).  There’s also evidence for its use as a mosquito repellant which is why I include it in my homemade Bug-a-Bye.

Traditionally, catnip is also chosen to gently lower a fever, settle a tummy, and for its nervine (calming) properties that can help ease little teethers (and their mothers).  Catnip, along with chamomile, is an excellent choice to help get through the moodiness that comes along with teething.  Baby LF’s molars are coming in right now and she is certainly letting me know!

I’ve been making Baby LF these really easy catnip teethers by dipping washcloths in catnip tea and freezing them.  She loves gnawing on them!  Plus, they’re really easy to make. Continue reading

Prevent Colds & Flu with DIY Elderberry Syrup

There are so many great ways to support your winter health with herbs.  Starting with simple dietary additions (like garlic!) and ending with soothing choices to make your cold or flu more tolerable and shorter, herbs are my go-to for prevention and treatment.

One of the tastiest herbal allies, however, is the elderberry.

This shrubby perennial plant has been used as medicine for centuries to support health and well-being.  I often see it growing naturally in moist soils, but it has also historically been planted at the edge of gardens as the protector of the garden.  Even its name, Elder, speaks to its wise and respected role in our collective medicine chest.

Elder’s lacy, delicate flowers, and bright purplish-black berries can both be used for their medicinal properties.  The flowers are diaphoretic meaning that they help to lower fevers by inducing sweating.  It is a common ingredient in many cold-care tea formulas.

The berries are rich in vitamins C & A, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, beta-carotene, iron, potassium, and phytosterols.  They are often used in prevention and treatment of colds because of their ability to boost the immune system.  As an antiviral, they are helpful in treating upper respiratory viruses including colds and flu, but have also been used in treatments for other viruses such as herpes and shingles.  Elderberry’s effectiveness is not just an “herban” legend, but its ability to reduce the duration of the flu and to fight viruses has been published in a number of scientific articles (links to abstracts in the resources below).

As a food, elderberry can be consumed as a jam, wine, or in pies, but it’s easiest to use as preventative medicine or for treating cold and flu when made into a tasty syrup.  Luckily, it’s really pretty easy to do, too!  I even made a handy graphic . . .

Elderberry syrup Continue reading

Herbal Hair Powder (Dry Shampoo)

I’ve been procrastinating this post for some time because a) I only have a limited amount of time to write blogs, b) I’m not sure if I should admit that I don’t wash my hair everyday, and c) it’s hard to take good pictures of powder.

However, I am tired of seeing this post on my to-do list, and this project is too useful for me to pass up!  Plus, after making this I learned that some of the major beauty companies sell this for a hefty price!  You can make this on your own for a fraction of the price (and with healthier ingredients).

They tout the ability of hair powder to volumize and texturize, and this powder does do all that, but I will let you in on a little secret…..

It also allows you to skip a hair wash or two (or three). Maybe we should just say “prolong the time between washing” – whatever that means for you.

Sprinkle a little hair powder onto dry hair that has a little shine and POP! — the shine is whisked away leaving fluffy, textured hair for another day.

This homemade version is made with safe, food-like ingredients that you won’t have to worry about putting near your skin (or your face, or your family).  I’ve also added a few powdered herbs to give it my own herb-loving spin that can help improve the overall quality of hair health.

For these blends, I’ve included powdered horsetail (also called shavegrass) and chamomile.  Horsetail is known for its high silica content and is commonly used to help hair grow and stay strong.  Chamomile can help with dandruff and is lightening for hair.  It’s also a relaxing, nicely scented herb that I enjoy adding to my beauty products.

There is a formulation for both dark- and light-colored hair. Continue reading

Homemade Herbal Bug Spray with Yarrow

Recently, we realized the power of this bug spray as we sat on a lawn and watched bugs approach our arms, hover, and turn away leaving our skin untouched. Amazing!

Not only is it effective, but it is made with just a few high quality ingredients that are non-toxic and safe for our families! Continue reading