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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What is Eating my Blueberry Bushes?!

Another blog post found out what was eating my Dogwoods and now I searched for what is eating my poor blueberry bushes. They are still small and at the moment, they look quite pitiful.

Notice the cluster of caterpillars clinging to the branch on the left


I found that the culprit is from the genus Datana and is one of four moth species that feed as caterpillars on the leaves of blueberry. Yellownecked caterpillars are found throughout the southeastern United States and feed on a variety of hard woods such as blueberry, apple, cherry, basswood, birch, witch-hazel, and oak.

Yellownecked Caterpillars
The telltale markings include a black head, a yellow neck, a body marked with 8 thin yellow lines against a black background, and long sparse hairs. Fully grown, they reach a length of about 2 inches. When disturbed, they cling with both ends lifting up to form a U shape.

The pupae stage passes the winter months in the soil and emerge in early summer. They lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves. The hatch larvae feed together on nearby foliage. Once development is complete in late summer, they drop to the ground and pupate in the soil under these host plants. There is only one generation a year.

Notice what is left of this leaf
They are voracious eaters and can defoliate smaller bushes to the point where they look like skeletons. Groups of 30 - 100 feed together for protection. Natural predators such as the Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps keep caterpillar populations in check, therefore it usually isn't necessary to spray. Females lay their eggs on the host caterpillar larvae, and the young flies that hatch feed internally on the host.

In forests where the trees have abundant coverage of foliage, the cycles of growth may pass and only a few branches are stripped. But on smaller trees and bushes, the damage may be very obvious. The growth of the bush may be slowed, but the plants are seldom actually killed. This is because the feeding occurs late in the growing season when the bush has already given fruit.

 Often, the problem isn't noticed until the damage is done. Beginning in June and July, if blueberry bushes are inspected every week or two, severe defoliation can be prevented by manually removing the caterpillars and dropping them into a jar of soapy water.

If the trees are weak or of high value, the least toxic insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis k. is a good choice, but only if applied when the larvae are still small. If used on fully mature caterpillars, it won't be effective. Also, keep in mind that pesticides may also kill the predators you want to naturally keep the numbers down.

Adults are light brown moths with a wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches. The fore wings have dark brown lines and darker in color than the hind wings. Since moths are active at night, they are seldom seen.
Pictured below is the adult Yellowneck Caterpillar moth. Photo credit goes to Bob Patterson.


 
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.


Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
At least the birds got a few blueberries off of these bushes before this invasion. 
Well, everything has to eat and we all must share in nature's bounty.
We just have to accept the cycle of life and that what eats foliage then becomes a food source for something else and the rise in the food chain continues.
yyellBlueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.


Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.


Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.



Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.



Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.


Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tired of Being Tired?



Is This How You Feel?

It seems no matter who you talk to, when asked "how are you", the answer may be the automatic response of "fine", but it doesn't take long before those words are followed with "I am so busy I'm going nuts".
Most of us don't need a lot of convincing that half the problems within families is that they are just not getting enough rest. It seems to take a major blow-up or melt-down, and then a period of reflection before anyone realizes how things have crept up and escalated.

The thing is, we already know we are overextending ourselves. We know acting like the energizer bunny may eventually catch up with us. We're tired of being told what to change for a healthier lifestyle because we already know. But as with many health issues, people usually don't truly commit to a change until they are faced with a medical crisis which becomes the turning point in their lives.

A certain amount of stress is good, it gets us moving, keeps us alert, and challenges us to achieve success. But to be continuously in overdrive without getting adequate rest for the body to repair itself cannot go on indefinitely without repercussions.

Located in southeastern Pennsylvania is a Center for Natural Healing called The Clymer Center.
Take a look at the videos under the blog section that discuss Adrenal Fatigue and Adrenal Dysfunction. 
Founded by Dr. Poesnecker in 1968, this center was one of a kind in that they specialize in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Adrenal Dysfunction. Back before most doctors had even heard of these conditions, this center was helping people uncover the underlying cause of their symptoms. Rather than going through the whirlwind of various specialists for symptoms that include depression, anxiety, insomnia, skin flairs, exhaustion, menopausal issues, fertility problems, and autoimmune conditions, these professionals get to the bottom of where it all began, rather than treat each symptom as its own condition. They help the patient get the immune and hormonal systems back into balance.

Here is a very informative video on Adrenal Fatigue:




The suggestion in the use of bath oils, massage oils, or bath salts, is too often followed with the response that there just aren't enough hours in the day.
No one is denying that as fact, but once you develop chronic fatigue, depression, hypertension, or anger issues, you'll end up in a physician's office and be told something has go to change. You'll go home with the comfort of a label to your ailments and a handful of scripts to "fix" things, and hopefully that physician will also inform you that unless you make lifestyle changes there is no magic pill.

Taking care of yourself is not at all a selfish thing to do. All caregivers are told again and again that unless you are mentally and physically strong, you are not going to be up to the demands of caring for someone else for very long.
Start small with your goal to squeeze in time for yourself.

Utilize your crock pot more often. Just knowing in advance what you'll be having for dinner is a stress reliever in itself. If you get home and it is ready to be served, you've just gained an hour of your time.
All you need is 15 minutes to give yourself a foot and calve massage. You can do this while making necessary phone calls or relaxing with your favorite TV show.
A warm bath needn't take more than 30 minutes. Get the kids to bed earlier, they probably need more sleep anyway. Take your nightly cup of tea or glass of wine, a book and run that tub. Or else use that time to reflect on your day and put your worries into perspective. Or don't think about anything, meditation is great.

You'll be amazed at how your mind and body will respond. There are ways to calm your nerves and help you sleep without automatically reaching for prescription or over the counter medications. Once you give yourself permission for these small luxuries, you'll start to look forward to your "me" time. With renewed spiritual energy, you just may find the physical energy to claim another time slot for perhaps a bit of stretching.

Many of us have learned the hard way that though we so often put others' needs before our own, burn-out is a very real possibility. The phrase "If Mom isn't happy, no one is happy" may be said with humor but there is no denying that a home filled with positive energy and laughter is a much happier place to be than one where its occupants are too tired to smile anymore.
The work gets done eventually.

Below are just a few options to help. Remember the Calgon slogan, "Calgon, Take Me Away!"? The fact that years later people still remember that TV commercial shows just how effective consumer psychology can be.
We should also remember the Clairol commercial's phrase, "Because You Deserve It!"

Below are a few options as a means to bring a little serenity into your life.
A few choices include a calming air or linen spray, bath salts, massage oils and bath oils.
Check the entire Etsy shop or Meadow Muffin Gardens website for more selections.

CALMING, SLEEP AIR AND LINEN SPRAY

LAVENDER BATH SALTS

TROUBLE SLEEPING MASSAGE OIL
NERVOUS TENSION BATH OIL
EASE THE ACHE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY BATH OIL



Friday, July 25, 2014

But It Says Blueberries On The Box! What's Really In Your Food



It seems wherever we turn we are bombarded with articles sending the message that the food industry cares little about the health of those consuming its products.  Truth is, these corporations are 'for profit' organizations with the priority being to give the consumer what they want at the least possible cost to the company. As long as they are following labeling laws and pass FDA inspections, they certainly aren't going to let ethics interfere. How they shop and feed their own families is their business. That is why it is imperative for families to do their own research and not be gullible to the power of slick advertising.
Click here to watch a video using blueberries as an example of why we as consumers have to do our own homework.

Mega supermarkets and convenience foods didn't take off until consumers were willing to pay for such time saving solutions in their meal planning. With all the pressures in life, it would be nice to know the food we buy for our families is what it claims to be and not just a convincing advertising ploy. Reading labels is the only way to be sure of what you are buying. As educated adults we know that as long as the label says what is in the product the food companies have done their part, and if we as consumers choose to buy packaged and prepared food that is our decision.

The irritation is why should we have to pay top dollar for the natural, organic, "better" foods. Why should our food bills be twice as high if we want wholesome food that is nutritious and not just empty calories to satisfy hunger. It's enough to make one paranoid that everything we put in our mouths is altered or tampered with, and not really food at all, just artificially colored, flavored, scented, salted, sweetened stuff. If it tastes good, the customer seems happy, maybe not healthy, but good enough. Do most people even know what wholesome fresh food is supposed to taste like to even make a comparison?

As a parent, it is very frustrating to feel no matter which way we turn there is something to make us feel insecure and inadequate. Few decisions in life have more anxiety wrapped up in them than the decision for parents whether to be traditional, and have one spouse put a career on hold and focus on the home front, or try to do it all and juggle home, spouse, children and career.

Can it be that unless we are in a position to be able to grow and put up our own food, bake our own goods and keep the pots simmering from scratch, we're not doing what is in the best interest of our families? But how many can realistically do that? Not many people are in a position to become a homesteader. When you don't get in the door until dinnertime there often isn't the time to prepare many of the main meals from scratch. (Thank goodness for the crock pot.) Many folks just don't have access to convenient seasonal co-ops or farmers markets. Therefore, they are dependent on their grocery stores and just hope the fresh foods available aren't too laden with pesticides and the soil it grew in had some value to it. Not everyone can afford the organic section when they try to stick to a food budget.

So what is a parent supposed to do? There is no way we as a society can turn back now. Our age of technology is so interdependent and woven we usually have to pay for every little thing we need. I can remember the thrill of eating foraged plants or out of the garden and thinking "wow, this is really free!" It is almost comical when you compare that way of thinking with how our hunter, gatherer ancestors survived.

We need air filters for our homes for clean air to breathe, water filters on our taps for purified water, access to a Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or co-ops for decent food. So the choice becomes ours.
We can run a little faster on the hamster wheel of the workplace to make more money to afford it all in hopes for better health, only to lose our mental or physical health anyway from all the stress.

Or, we can reevaluate our lifestyles and walk away from it all to become more self-sustaining. But to grow and put up our own food requires time, effort and a commitment not everyone is willing to give.

Most of us will take the middle road and try to become more aware in our consumer choices, better organize our free time to perhaps plant a garden, shop at farmer's markets and co-ops, learn how to can or freeze extra produce, and just do the best we can with our individual situations.

An interesting article written by Scott Morefield, entitled "Four Ways Our Family Says No to GMO's" addresses the concern with genetically modified organisms in our food supply. He believes the best thing we can do for our health is to remove GMO's from our diets. In this article he focuses on the problem with corn, soy, white sugar and canola oil. He sums it up by saying the best way to avoid these "franken-engineered crops" is to just avoid the center aisles in the grocery store.

This code chart is handy to remember while shopping for produce at your supermarket.


Now back to blueberries. July is the month to take advantage of the availability and best prices for fresh blueberries. Very easy to freeze for use all year long, this fruit is considered one of the 'must eat foods'.

Try making these delicious blueberry muffins. As with any home baked goodie, without preservatives they only stay fresh for a few days. If a batch of 24 at a time is just too many, simply freeze the extras.




HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups all-purpose and 2 cups wheat or another whole grain of choice)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups (16 oz) sour cream or plain yogurt)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs. Gradually add sugar. While beating, slowly add the oil and then the vanilla.
Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl. Sift to blend thoroughly. I just toss with a pastry blender.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream or yogurt to the egg mixture.
Don't over mix muffins, stir only till moistened; don't worry about pressing out every lump.
Gently fold in blueberries, try to keep the blueberries whole.
Spoon into greased muffin tins. The typical muffin tin uses about 1/3 cup batter per muffin. 
This batch will make about 24 muffins.
Baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back to Beauty Basics with Baking Soda, Vinegar and Salt


Whether you've decided to simply clear out the clutter under your bathroom sink or just clear out the constant worrying about what hazards are in your personal care products, you may want to go back to the bare basics in what is really needed for personal hygiene.

Cleanliness and a holistic beauty routine can be achieved with three basic ingredients you probably already have in your home:
baking soda, salt, and apple cider vinegar

Everyone wants clean, white teeth, yet the expense of a professional treatment is usually a deterrent, and  the safety and efficiency of the over-the-counter whitening products may result in less than satisfactory results. So why not turn to the tried and true methods used by people long before commercial toothpastes were even available.

A combination of salt and baking soda is an inexpensive, safe and time tested methods of maintaining a healthy mouth and strong teeth.

Ideally, you want to use a natural, unbleached sea salt. Sea salt still contains nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus, sodium, iodine and iron. These elements strengthen gums, helps remove plaque, protects against bad breath and over time, even whitens teeth. Being salt makes you salivate, an antibacterial barrier is created that protects tooth enamel.

Most of us can remember as children the remedy for a sore throat or toothache was to rinse with salt water. Mixing a half teaspoon of sea salt with about four ounces of water made a great mouth rinse to help relieve mouth and throat inflammation and destroy bacteria.


The natural method to whitening teeth is to use baking soda or sodium bicarbonate. Being highly alkaline, baking soda has many cleaning uses and eliminating tarter and plaque from teeth and gums is no exception. Tooth decay is caused by acids in the mouth. Baking soda counteracts this acidity, and in doing so kills bacteria and germs which causes decay and bad breath. It is gritty enough to clean yet not so abrasive that it will wear away tooth enamel.

The ratio is about 6:1, baking soda to sea salt. Combine the baking soda and the salt and store in a little container to keep it dry. Dip a wet toothbrush into about a half teaspoon of the mixture or if you use a shaker top container, shake a bit onto your wet brush. Then gently brush your teeth, rinse and spit, being careful not to swallow the mixture.

NOTE:  Don't brush your teeth more than twice a week with baking soda. Slightly abrasive to tooth enamel, used repeatedly over time can weaken the enamel.

If you have braces or permanent retainers, don't brush with baking soda. Reactions with the baking soda can leave behind dark spots.


Want a back-to-basics method for cleaning your hair?
 Use baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

If you're fed up with your hair and frustrated that no matter what a product claims to do, you still can't achieve the results you want, then maybe it is time to just start over with as basic as you can get.

The decision to steer away from commercially made shampoos usually stems from frustration with your hair, scalp sensitivity and/or the growing awareness of the potentially toxic chemicals often added to skin and hair care products.

Washing your hair with baking soda and vinegar, the No-Poo method, is cheap, shampoo-free, conditioner-free, natural hair care. Shampoos advertised as leaving your hair squeaky clean do so but eventually may strip away protective oils and dry out the hair. What happens is that when hair dries out the protective cuticle layers are open, resulting in hard to manage fly away hair.

Many of our hair care products are strongly alkaline and cause a dulling buildup on the hair shaft.
Healthy hair is on the mildly acidic side of the pH scale between 4.5 and 5.5. Apple cider vinegar has an acidic pH of 2.9. Apple cider vinegar rinses help to balance the pH and remove buildup, giving you a softer, shinier, easier to detangle head of hair. Rinsing will close the hair shafts resulting in a smoother surface.

Changing your routine will be met with a period of transition. Try not to use the poo method once and say it didn't work. For some people, this adjustment period could take a week or even a month or two. You'll find over time that you'll only need to shampoo every few days.
This is how it is done:

Have the following ready before going into the shower:
Add 1 Tbsp. baking soda to a dixie cup or whatever small cup you choose. Add just enough water to form a paste.
Have the vinegar handy in a plastic squeezy bottle. Have a plastic 1 or 2 cup size measuring cup.


 First:

Wet your hair. Apply the baking soda paste to your scalp and give yourself a wonderful massage to stimulate blood flow. Using your fingertips, start making a circle on top of your head, beginning with the back and fill in the circle with your fingers making little scrubbing motions. Don't forget your temples and the base at the neck. This massage method cleans the pores and loosens built up grime. It isn't necessary to work down the length of your hair. When you rinse, the runoff will clean the hair on its way down. Don't get any of this in your eyes.

Next:
 
There are two choices for applying the vinegar:
1. Dilute 1/2-1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup water for short hair or
1-2 Tbsp vinegar to 2 cups water for long hair.
Pour the vinegar/water mixture onto your hair and scalp. Repeat this again if desired. Let sit a minute or so and rinse with lukewarm water (a blast of cold water will seal the cuticles of the hair). Some people don't bother with a final rinse to wash out the vinegar. Leaving it in does help with tangles but for some this proves irritating to their skin.
OR
2. You can just pour a tablespoon or two of vinegar directly onto your scalp, let it sit on your hair a minute or so, and then rinse. Vinegar is rather strong so use your own judgement which method to use. Some people find this undiluted method too strong for their scalp.

Periodic apple cider vinegar hair rinses will also help prevent or get rid of a flaky or itchy scalp.
For help with dandruff it is recommended to use the direct application method. Massage the vinegar thoroughly onto the scalp and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
The acids and enzymes in the vinegar kill the "bottle bacillus", a bacteria that is one of the causes for many scalp and hair conditions. The bacteria clogs hair follicles allowing dry crusts to form that itch and flake.
Now to resolve any problems:
If your hair becomes frizzy, use less baking soda or don't let it sit on your hair as long. Baking soda is a very effective cleaner, so you may have to play around with how much to use.
If your hair becomes greasy, use less vinegar or try applying the vinegar only to the ends of your hair.
If your hair dries out, use coconut oil or jojoba oil by applying just a bit to ends and scrunch. Leave this in. Repeat once a week or as needed.

Note:
Vinegar will not strip hair color the way chemical lighteners will so it shouldn't remove hair dye. The effect of vinegar is more subtle.


 


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Opposite of Depression is not Happiness, but Vitality


It is a shame there is a stigma attached to depression as being a form of weakness. As long as there is such a resistance in broaching the subject and bringing it out into the open, a great number of people shall continue to suffer, far more than we may realize.  There is usually little hesitation to go to a doctor for a physical ailment, yet observe any group gathering and often the topics of conversation are health issues. Yet rarely do you hear people answering the question "How are you feeling" with anything other than the usual "I'm fine".

There is a difference between being sad and being depressed.
According to Dr. Olivia I. Okereke, the academic director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, There are two core features of depression.
"To be diagnosed a person has to have at least one. The first is depressed mood. People are questioned if they sometimes feel sad. The second is anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure. People are asked if they still enjoy the things they previously enjoyed."

We all go through periods of sadness due to life circumstances. The difference between a bout of the blues and clinical depression depends on how things play out in time.  When something traumatizing or devastating happens, we go through the stages of shock, the denial, the anger, the sinking, and eventually we accept what is and can move on with our lives.
However, if a length of time passes and everyday normal activities become too much trouble and nothing in life seems to mean anything, it may be necessary to seek professional help. People suffering from depression are very aware that what is happening to them isn't normal and it may seem ridiculous that just getting dressed has become too much trouble.

Oftentimes, the response from friends and family to this kind of apathy is impatience, advice to "snap out of it", to "get with it", to "get motivated", and "stop being so lazy"; as if it were that simple. Depression is a very real disorder and until society realizes that and takes it seriously, it will continue to be what they call the "silent destroyer".

Below is a very enlightening video by speaker, Andrew Solomon, about his own experiences with this disease. He speaks on how he survived this period of his life and reflects on his observations through speaking to other people suffering from depression.
 
The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality
Andrew Solomon



The standard methods of treatment for depression include drug therapy, such as SSRI's, which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, antidepressants and psychiatric therapy.
These may or may not be effective and usually involve side effects such as feeling like a zombie, mood swings, and even suicidal tendencies. Then should a patient try to wean himself off of the medication, there are serious withdrawal symptoms to consider, oftentimes causing a spiral downwards even more.

Home Remedies for Depression is an option that many believe has a far better success rate than conventional methods.
Taking a holistic approach involves a lot more than popping pills. It takes commitment and often lifestyle changes. Rather than the accepted view that depression is a biochemical imbalance in the brain caused by a lack of serotonin and a genetic flaw, the holistic viewpoint is that the biochemical imbalance is caused by toxic overload and nutritional deficiencies. It is these nutritional deficiences that result in a serotonin imbalance, which then affects mood.

A list of dietary supplements which have shown results are as follows:

L-Tyrosine use shows an improvement in mental alertness and memory retain ability.

L-Tryptophan is one of the strongest home remedies for depression there is. It is known as an "emotional stabilizer" in that it has a calming effect.

L-Phenylalanine is very stimulating to the nervous system and brain. It increases mental alertness and memory.

L-Glutamine is known as "brain fuel". It is an energy source for the brain and absorbs toxic ammonia and accumulated heavy metals.

Chromium and Vanadium help regulate blood sugar levels.


Magnesium may be the most important mineral as far as natural treatments are concerned. Magnesium deficiencies cause mood levels to plummet. There is a strong connection between a decrease of magnesium in our soil and the deficiency seen in the human population today.

 Other important nutrients your body needs to help combat depression include:
 Vitamin D, Folic acid, Vitamin B5, B6, B12, Vitamin C, Zinc, Iron, Lithium, Co Q10, and the full spectrum of trace minerals.

Herbal Home Remedies for Depression 

St. Johnswort can be very effective for mild depression. St. Johnswort is able to prevent the absorption of serotonin by the nerve cells in the brain, which helps to stabilize mood fluctuations.

Licorice Root acts on cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Licorice root is able to hinder production of cortisol in the body which eases symptoms of depression and stabilize mood.

Siberian Ginseng is considered an adaptogen in that it has a stabilizing effect and calms people in stressful situations.

Chamomile acts as a sedative and very popular taken in soothing tea form.

Ding Xin Wan is a Chinese herb and very helpful for insomnia and loss of appetite.

Saffron studies have shown it to be as effective as Prozac in treating depression.


Black Cohosh is extremely beneficial in the treatment of depression that is associated with menopause.

Lavender is very popular as an essential oil in aromatherapy. It calms the mind and induces sleep.

Valerian has a very calming effect on the nerves and helps with sleeplessness.

Ginko is popular because it does not interact with drugs and supplements.


Let's not forget the importance of physical activity for mental and physical health.
You will think better, sleep better, and feel better.


Taking the time for a relaxing bath is a luxury many people don't take advantage of. Allow yourself to rest. Your soul speaks to you in the quiet moments in between your thoughts. Utilize the benefits of plants through aromatherapy. Certain essences have an uplifting effect on the mind and emotions.

Uplift the Spirits Bath Oil


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Third Hand Smoke, Another Risk Factor

 Another post about the dangers of smoking, cancer and COPD may seem like just "preaching to the choir". No one wants the obvious pointed out yet again, and may sum it up as the rants from a bitter and angry person. I'd say it's more of a consuming sadness over the outcome from poor choices made by those we love. It's the frustration in dealing with the "it could have been so different" or the "if only" regrets people have later in life.

Being we now know what we know about the damage done by cigarettes, it is infuriating to think the tobacco industry could be fully aware of the potential addiction and  harm caused by smoking.
The cigarettes themselves are made to almost ensure the smoker will enjoy it enough to want another and another to the point of physical and emotional dependence. 

Most of us are aware that smoking is not only limited to the smoker but the chain of potential harm extends to anyone, pet or human, that breathes the same air. But did you know there is such a thing as Third Hand Smoke?


Third Hand Smoke is the residue that drifts and settles on every object in the vicinity...the walls, ceiling, floor, linens, curtains and every piece of furniture in between. It floats and adheres to our clothes, our pet's fur, our hair, etc. I can recall as a child, how periodically, my mother would attempt to remove the grimy, yellowing film which discolored the kitchen walls.

Anyone in real estate must dread trying to sell a home where the occupants were smokers. Trying to remove that odor embedded into everything is a real challenge. Soap and water just won't cut it. Smoke residues are alkaline, therefore, something acidic like vinegar is necessary. The risk with vinegar is that it may affect the color of fabric and carpets. Carpets are such a challenge, it may be best to just remove them from the home.

Children and pets are dependent and vulnerable. The consequences of the choices made by the adults in the home may not be apparent at the time, and no one can prove anything to place blame should a health condition arise, but it seems ludicrous to even take that chance. Children touch everything and inevitably their fingers end up in their mouths. With pets, their mouths are like a child's hands, and again whatever is touched is ingested.

The main particles left behind after smoking are carcinogens, nicotine, cyanide, radioactive polonium-210, lead, arsenic, butane and aromatic hydrocarbons.
Those particles left behind don't just sit there. There is a phenomenon called an off-gassing process which is where gases are exposed to the air from the particles left over on the surroundings after smoking. Toxins are released into the atmosphere long after the smoking is over.

Just a reminder to those parents who excuse their behavior by saying they don't expose their children or pets because they go outside to smoke. They are still exposing their clothes, hair and skin to those settling smoke residues, which by the way, don't just float harmlessly away. People must realize that whatever is on their lips when they kiss their child, or their fingers when they reach for their child, ends up on that child.

Being we live in a social society where it is nearly impossible to avoid human contact and indoor air, the best we can do is just be aware of our surroundings. If you attend a social gathering where smoking is allowed, be sure to shower and wash your clothes when you get home. Protect your children and pets by not being too meek to voice your rules concerning their welfare. If people think you are being a b***h, so be it. Women are too often raised that it is impolite to speak up or make waves. That "good little girl syndrome" has to be put aside when it is necessary to be a mother bear.

We hear it all the time that knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss. Anyone who jokes that the less they know, the happier they'll be, is a fool. Back in the day when smoking was commonplace and people honestly didn't know how harmful it can be, it was understandable how they could have continued such a habit. But today, with information being so accessible, and the advances in scientific research, there is no excuse for the "I didn't know". The grown children of those who are now paying the price with their health, can see first hand what can happen. The children have no choice but to witness the heartbreak of watching their loved ones suffer through chronic illness and potential early death. They may be put in the position to become caregivers at a time in life when they are trying to raise their own families, and rather than enjoying grandchildren, parents are struggling just to breathe.

Resist the temptation to use cigarattes as a way to relieve tension, calm the nerves, curb the appetite, peer pressure, relieve depression, or whatever other reasoning there is.
Better to choose a friend who will stick by you when the chips are down, not actually stick it to you.