Magnesium Oil: uses for pregnancy

 

magnesium oil

Have any of you tried the Magnesium Oil recipe from Wellness Mama? I’ve been using it for several years now and recently loaned my friend a bottle to use on her husband’s sore back.

She started using it and found that really helps the muscle cramps that she gets during pregnancy. She says that it’s magic. As soon as she sprays it on she says that the muscle releases. I’ve also used it during pregnancy and though I don’t typically get muscle cramps, I struggle with restless legs and sore ligaments. I’ve found to be especially helpful with my sore muscles with my last pregnancy and in terms of mobility – the aches and pains disappeared and I didn’t even feel like I was pregnant. So, make up your own magic potion for sore muscles. Why suffer? Give your muscles what they need – extra magnesium! (Note: magnesium oil can sting when first applied. Do not use on broken or cut skin or apply after shaving.)

Postpartum Sitz Bath

IMG_0887I’ve been mixing this up a lot lately. Three friends have had babies in the last few weeks. I didn’t discover herbal sitz baths for postpartum use until my second child. This is one of my favorite remedies. It makes a great gift for a new mom. It really helps speed and facilitate postpartum healing. Be sure to bathe the baby  too. This mix will help disinfect and heal the baby’s cord stump.

All of these herbs are helpful in some way. Opinions may vary, but I think the most important to postpartum healing are shepherd’s purse, yarrow and red raspberry. But, if you don’t have one of the herbs below, that’s okay. They are all beneficial in some way. Just omit the ones you are missing and substitute more of one of the others in the list. Keep in mind though that lavender, yarrow and shepherd’s purse are fairly potent and should not be used in excess. Use the others as the base herbs and add lavender, yarrow and shepherd’s purse in moderation. A little of those goes a long way. Also, chamomile and yarrow should be avoided if you have an allergy to sunflower, safflower or dandelion.

Use wisely. Read my Disclaimer here.

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All bagged up ready to pass along to a friend.

Postpartum Sitz Bath:

4 parts Red Raspberry Leaf
2 parts Plantain
2 parts Comfrey
2 parts Calendula
2 parts Shepherd’s Purse
1 part Lavender
1 part Yarrow
1 part Chamomile
1/2 -1 tsp. Sea Salt

To use, steep one cup of the herb mix  in four cups of water to make a strong tea. Strain the herbs an add the tea to your bath water. You can also add this to your peri-bottle and apply after you go to the bathroom to disinfect and heal.

Where do I get these herbs you ask? My favorite places to order herbs are The Bulk Herb Store and Mountain Rose Herbs.

Eczema Healers

IMG_0718I have some pretty bad eczema that flares up during times of stress. It’s been a problem on and off for the past year. If didn’t know it was eczema at first. Actually, I thought based on my symptoms that I might have an auto-immune disease. I had coin shaped red patches that flared up on my legs, arms and hands. I struggled and struggled for a long time to find a remedy that would help it and found nothing. That’s when I broke down and finally went to the dermatologist. They identified it as “numular eczema” and gave me a prescription for a low-level steroid cream to use when it flares up. I used it initially to get a handle on it as it was getting out of control and the spots were spreading to new places. Since then I’ve tried to only use it during particularly bad flare ups but I’ve still been at a loss to find a remedy that actually helps it besides the steroid cream the doctor gave me. Most natural remedies I’ve tried have actually inflamed it and made it worse. Particularly oils. Any type of oil or oil based remedy makes it worse and not better. This is particularly true of essential oils but also of very basic oils like olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, etc.

In the past year I’ve tried pretty much everything you can think of to help improve this eczema from topical remedies to diet changes to traditional medicine. My particular form of eczema is stressed based. I admit – it’s been a stressful year. So, my eczema comes and goes and waves but since this ailment began it has never completely disappeared. It’s gotten better for periods of time and then worse again. I eliminated various foods (sugar, caffeine, etc.) to see if that made a difference. It didn’t. In fact, the doctor told me that this particular form is not related to diet like many forms of eczema is, but instead is the body’s direct response to stress.

While it was relieving that my condition was only eczema, it was not particularly encouraging that it was related to stress since I can’t exactly eliminate that from my life. Life is life right? It’s stressful sometimes and you can’t always remove those stressors. I also suspect that my flare ups are related to hormone fluctuations. Also I thing that I can minimally control. So, I kept trying things and I think I’ve finally landed on a couple of things that are causing my eczema to actually heal and improve.

As I started researching further I looked specifically for herbs that have steroid-like actions and properties. I found three. Then I started experimenting with a medium that I could use to apply these herbs that wouldn’t aggravate my eczema. I found two. Here are my solutions that seem to be helping my eczema.

1. Powdered Herbal Paste: yarrow flower powder, lavender flower powder, turmeric powder, bentonite clay. Yarrow is a very powerful healing herb. Lavender has anti-histamine and healing properties. Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Bentonite clay is cleansing and toning to the skin. Mix all the powdered herbs and the clay. Store the combined powder in a glass jar. When ready to apply, remove a small amount of powder and mix with a small amount of water in a glass container to make a medium textured paste (not watery, but not like mud). Apply with a popcsicle stick to affected areas of eczema and leave until it dries. Gently remove with a washcloth and warm water. If this paste feels too drying to your skin, remove the bentonite clay and make a paste with just the powdered herbs. This paste can calm a flare up that is dry and scaly. Note: Turmeric stains clothing yellow so avoid getting the paste on your clothes.

IMG_07052. Natural “Hydrocortizone” Cream: I know, I know…. Combining the words “hydrocortizone” and “natural” in the same sentence is an oxymoron right? Well, here we will combine the three herbs that have naturally occurring “steroid-like” properties with the two mediums that did not aggravate my eczema – tallow and lanolin. Tallow is the rendered fat of beef. It is a fat that is solid at room temperature and has historically been used for skin ailments. I had heard and read that it was good for eczema but had never had an occasion to try it. Well, I finally was able to get my hands on some grass-fed soup bones and I made some. I was pleased to see that it did not aggravate my eczema like all the other oils and fats did. However, alone it did not particularly improve it either. I also found that lanolin was not aggravating. I saw some improvement from applying lanolin overnight on the worst spots and putting a cotton glove on my hand so that the lanolin didn’t rub off while I slept. I was always better in the morning but then would flare up during the day from washing my hands, heat from cooking ,washing dishes, etc. So, for this remedy a combination of lanolin and tallow will be the medium in which we are going to infuse the steroid-like herbs. Those are chamomile, licorice root and calendula flowers. To make this cream, put your lanolin, tallow, chamomile, calendula and licorice root in a jar and loosely cover with the lid. Use 1 part lanolin to 3 parts tallow. For the herbs use a 1:2 ration of dried herbs to fat/lanolin. Set the jar in a sauce pan on top of a washcloth and fill with about 2-3 inches of water. Simmer until the tallow and lanolin have melted. Swirl the herbs around in the jar to cover them all. The herbs should be fully immersed in the tallow/lanolin mixture. If they aren’t add some more tallow and lanolin. When everything is melted, simmer for about 5 minutes more. Turn off the heat. You how have infused the herbal properties of the chamomile, calendula and licorice root into the tallow and lanolin. Strain immediately while hot through a wire mesh strainer into a glass storage container. For convenience, I also poured some into some old, empty lip balm tubes so that I can easily take this with me when we are out. I find that environmental factors make my flare ups worse. We took the subway the other day and something down there made the eczema on my hand flare up from being almost completely clear to a red, itchy mess. So I plan to apply this all day even when we aren’t at home. Allergy Note: If you have allergies to ragweed, dandelion, sunflower or safflower you may want to omit chamomile as it is in the same family.

tallow and lanolin melting and herbs infusing

tallow and lanolin melting and herbs infusing

 

tallow, lanolin and my little jar of eczema salve

tallow, lanolin and my little jar of eczema salve

I hope these remedies help your eczema stay clear. It’s making mine better already.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. Use at your own risk. Author takes no responsibility for the results of using these remedies. Read full Disclaimer here.

2-Minute, 2-Ingredient DIY Sunblock

7.13.12 104If you’ve read my blog at all then you know that I have a kid who reacts to lots of things – including sunscreen. A fun-filled day trip to Coney Island resulted 2 weeks of no sleep due to the itchy rash that he got where ever we had put sunscreen on him. What does that mean? No more sunscreen for us! So, what’s a mom to do? Make her own of course.

I immediately went to the internet and researched all the homemade sunscreen and sunblock recipes. I came away knowing that I wanted to go with a zinc oxide based sunblock since that seemed to have the best safety profile and effectiveness ratings. However, I didn’t want to spend the money on a huge bag of zinc oxide powder from Amazon. (Note: It is much more affordable now than it was when I was looking 3 years ago and available in smaller bags.) So, necessity breeds creativity here. I was in the drug store and realized that Desitin is 40% zinc oxide. Immediately I knew I had instant sunscreen here.

Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute. There is no way I’m rubbing that white gooey stuff all over myself and my kids. What a mess!” And you would be right. Yet, never fear. All you need is 2 minutes to turn that Desitin into a smooth, lotiony sunblock.

Most zinc oxide sunblocks with an SPF of 30 are 20% zinc oxide. Which means that if you mix equal parts Desitin and your favorite lotion, it cuts the percentage of zinc oxide in the mixture by half and you have an instant SPF 30 sunblock! It’s that easy.

Playing at the lake. She would play there all day if we would let her.

Playing at the lake. She would play there all day if we would let her.

I’ve used this  Desitin sunblock with my homemade lotions for the past three years and it works great. I find that this sunblock is fairly waterproof, but if you want to improve that “waterproofness” of your mixture then add a little bit of liquid lanolin to it. Our oldest loves the water and has played for hours in the full sun without a sunburn. So, what are you waiting for? Everyone run to their medicine cabinet and pull out that tube of Desitin and start mixing!

If you want to make your own lotion first to mix the Desitin with, you can visit the Herb Shed and scroll down for directions and more sunscreen tips and recipes. If you use regular lotion and find that you can’t get the Desitin to blend well, then melt the two ingredients (lotion and Desitin) in heat proof bowl over a small saucepan (double boiler technique) until it is blended. I like to mix it with a popsicle stick so that I can just throw it out when I’m done and don’t have to worry about cleaning the mixture off of my spoons. The other nice thing about this recipe is that you can make small batches easily so that you don’t have to worry about unused sunscreen, or you can make a large batch if your family goes through a lot of sunscreen.

Here’s to a happy and sunburn free summer!

Note: Zinc oxide can stain dark clothing so take care when applying it. Also, individual results can vary so use with care and common sense. The author is not responsible for any adverse reaction or sunburns if you choose to use the recipe recommended here. Read my full Disclaimer here.

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Visit the Herb Shed if you want to make a homemade lotion to mix with your Desitin.

DIY Olive Oil Hand Soap and Dish Soap

140128_0012This is easy peasy for all of you who aren’t brave enough (like me) to undertake the daunting process of making your own soap from scratch.

With this recipe you can customize your blends, and add your own essential oils for scent and disinfecting purposes.

We avoid all the natural soaps and all the store bought soaps because members of our family react to the coconut oil in almost every natural soap and have very sensitive skin which reacts to the mainstream soap brands. So, once you take out coconut oil as a base ingredient and all the main soap brands and all their irritating ingredients, then you aren’t left with much except coming up with your own homemade soap. However, the process of making my own soap from scratch is a bridge too far for me right now. I’ll make lots of things from scratch (as you can tell from the recipes on this blog), but cooking fats and handling lye with littles around just makes me too nervous. Maybe I’ll try it one day, but right now, soap is one project that I don’t have the time, energy or ambition for. So, this is the way you do it without having to make it from scratch yourself. And I just found out that it has a name. I’ve been making soap this way for the past several months and didn’t know what it was called until recently. It’s a process called “re-batching.” Basically, you’re taking an existing bar or leftover pieces of soap and remake it.

For our purposes, we will be turning a bar of soap into liquid hand soap and dishwashing soap.

Now, if you research DIY soap recipes online, you will find that almost all of them call for liquid castille soap. Now aside from the fact that most of those contain coconut oil as part of the base for the soap – which rules them out for me – the other factor that has driven me to develop this recipe is the expense. Even if buying castille soap is cheaper than buying regular dish soap at the store, liquid castille soaps are expensive and basically, I’m just not willing to pay that much money for them.

So, here’s what I do instead. Note: This recipe is very easily customized to meet your needs so change the ingredients to suit your purpose.

Basic DIY Liquid Hand Soap:
Start with 1 bar of 
Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap (affiliate link, see Disclosures Page). Amazon charges $3.99 per bar for this (you can find 8 oz. bars even cheaper other places online), and you’re only grating 1/2 cup of shavings which is a very minimal amount. So, this recipe will cost you probably less a quarter per batch. To make the soap, start with a cheese grater. Grate enough shavings to loosely fill a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Don’t use the largest shredder but the next size down. Dump the shavings into a small glass bowl. Add your favorite essential oils for fragrance and disinfecting. To decide which oils you want to use, click here for a list of essential oils and their properties. Then add 1 cup of distilled water. (You could use tap water if you’ll use the soap up quickly, but if you don’t use it up fast enough you may find bacteria or mold growing in your soap and have to throw the rest of the batch out). Let the mixture sit overnight. The water will soften the soap shavings and in the morning you will have a lovely, scented liquid soap. Stir the soap and pour it  into an old soap dispenser and you’re done. This recipe will make enough soap to fill a 10 oz. soap dispenser. If you’re not sure what oil blends to use, my favorite for hand soap are geranium/cedarwood or lemon/lavender. If you want to make a moisturizing soap, add 1 teaspoon of your favorite oil (olive oil, almond oil, etc.) to the bottle and shake well. Note: Over time the soap may begin to solidify or coagulate in places so that it looks like there are things floating around in your soap bottle. This is normal and the nature rebatched olive oil soap. If this happens you can just vigorously shake your bottle to remix it. If it doesn’t mix all the way, you can either use it as it is (which is what I usually do). Or if you bothers you, pour your soap into a sauce pan and gently heat it on low (do not boil) and stir until it is all recombined. When it has cooled a little bit pour it back into your soap dispenser.

DIY Liquid Dish Soap:
Follow the recipe above, except only add 3/4 cup of distilled water to the 1/2 cup soap shavings. This will make a more concentrated soap. If using distilled water, feel free to double and triple the batch so that you don’t have to make it as often. The best oils for dishwashing purposes are citrus blends – lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine. I would suggest using lemon as the main oil as it has wonderful disinfecting and solvent/grease cutting properties, and then adding some other citrus oils based on what scents you prefer (be creative and come up with your own combinations). Probably 12-15 drops of oil total is sufficient for a small batch of this recipe. If you double or triple the recipe, adjust the essential oil amounts accordingly. I should warn you that you won’t see any bubbles in your dishwater when using this soap. Olive oil soap is a very low sudsing soap and hardly makes any bubbles. It will still work fine though. It’s just not what we are used to.

DIY Foaming Mosturizing Hand Soap:
Follow the recipe for the basic hand soap above. Add about a 1/4 cup of the end product to a foaming soap dispenser and fill with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the soap dispenser to make a moisturizing blend. Keep in mind that olive oil soap doesn’t foam much. So, I use it for one of my bathrooms, but don’t expect typical results in a foaming dispenser. If you want the typical foam then I suggest using this foaming hand soap recipe.

This basic recipe will work with any bar soap that you like and works well for you skin. Feel free to try it with something other than olive oil soap. The moisture content and sudsing may be different with another bar soap, but try it out. It will save you money and if you use a soap with minimal ingredients it will be better for your skin too.

Chocolate Spice Tooth Powder

9.16.13 021This is my new favorite invention. My kids don’t like the powdered texture as much as their regular toothpaste but I like that this recipe has an indeterminate shelf life, the cloves and cinnamon disinfect, the bentonite clay absorbs the toxins and helps remineralize the teeth, and the cocoa powder whitens. I can say that I did see a noticeable difference in the whiteness of my teeth after just two uses. And it tastes pretty good too!

While researching for this recipe I found this interesting article on Science Daily about the oral health benefits of cocoa. Chocolate good for the teeth? Who is going to argue with that? Here’s what they say…

“… an extract of cocoa powder that occurs naturally in chocolates, teas, and other products might be an effective natural alternative to fluoride in toothpaste. In fact, his research revealed that the cocoa extract was even more effective than fluoride in fighting cavities. The extract…helps harden teeth enamel, making users less susceptible to tooth decay.”

That sounds pretty good to me. I actually initially thought of the cocoa powder in this recipe for taste and I thought that it might help in whitening teeth, but the research above seems to indicate that it may offer even more benefits.

9.16.13 045So, wanna try the chocolate tooth powder with me? Here’s what you do… it’s easy!

Combine 1 tsp. powdered cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, 1 tsp. cocoa powder, 2 tsp. bentonite clay an a pinch of sea salt. Stir and store in a glass jar (due to the bentonite clay it is best not to store in plastic or metal containers).

To use, wet your toothbrush and dip in the jar and brush adding more water to your toothbrush if needed. Try it out!

(See Disclosures and Disclaimers here.)

Mint Berry Toothpaste

9.16.13 047This is an updated version of my Candy Cane Toothpaste recipe. The taste is not drastically different, but the dried elderberries at an extra touch of flavor and color. It is made the same way as the Candy Cane Toothpaste with a few minor adjustments.

FIrst, simmer the following ingredients to make a very strong tea using 2 cups of distilled water (this will prolong the shelf life), 1/2 cup peppermint leaf (for taste and disinfecting purposes), a bit of stevia leaf (to sweeten –  doesn’t take much – 1 tsp. or less), and 1/8 cup dried elderberries,. Strain the dried herbs and reduce the liquid to about 1/2 cup. Mix your tea into bentonite clay with a popsicle stick (do not use metal utensils) until desired texture is achieved. To prolong the shelf life and add a little taste, add one drop of peppermint oil (take care not to add more than that or it may be too strong). Store the mixture in glass jar (as pictured above) and apply to toothbrush with a popsicle stick. This mixture should last about 3 months at room temperature.