definition of natural means that the cleansing agents used in the formulation of our bases are gentle on the hair, scalp, and skin. Conventional synthetic shampoos are more likely to expose the hair and the skin to harsh chemical ingredients that can potentially have harmful long-term effects, including skin irritation, dryness, a reduction in the size or deterioration of the hair follicles, premature graying, and even hair loss. Natural shampoos can be used without the concern of these potential side effects.

While many shampoos and conditioners that claim to be natural may still contain botanical materials that can potentially have harsh effects on some skin types.

  • Aqua = Water
  • Sodium Cocoamphoacetate = a mild surfactant, foam booster/stabilizer, and conditioner derived from Coconut Oil
  • Glycerine = a transparent, colorless, and unscented viscous liquid derived from the oils of plants such as Coconut, Palm, or Soy. This ingredient cleanses, moisturizes, and soothes the skin.
  • Lauryl Glucoside = a surfactant composed of Coconut/Palm Oil and Corn Glucose. This ingredient promotes easy cleaning and rinsing.
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate = an Amino Acid surfactant, cleansing agent, and foaming agent obtained from Coconut Oil and fermented sugar.
  • Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate = derived from sugar. This surfactant functions as a stabilizing and emulsifying agent.
  • Coco Glucoside = a foaming, cleansing, conditioning, and thickening agent designed for sensitive skin
  • Glyceryl Oleate = a result of the esterification of Glycerin and Oleic Acid; Oleic Acid occurs naturally in oils such as Olive Oil. This ingredient functions as an emulsifier and a conditioning agent.
  • Propanediol = naturally derived from corn. This hydrating ingredient helps to improve the skin’s absorption of ingredients while leaving a smoothing effect on the skin and promoting a dewy look.
  • Dicaprylyl Ether = derived from a fatty acid that occurs naturally in Coconut and Palm Kernel oils. This emollient functions as a skin conditioner.
  • Decyl glucoside = a gentle surfactant derived from plants. This environmentally-friendly ingredient functions as a cleansing agent that is suitable for sensitive skin types, including baby skin.
  • Sodium Levulinate = a plant-derived sodium salt that is obtained from Levulinic Acid found in GMO-free corn. This ingredient functions as a skin conditioning agent as well as a preservative.
  • Potassium Sorbate = a gentle preservative that serves as a substitute for parabens. This ingredient helps to inhibit or slow the growth of harmful bacteria that can spoil the quality and effectiveness of a product.
  • Citric Acid = an organic acid that is naturally occurring in Citrus fruits. This ingredient helps to reduce the pH level of a product. It may also help to improve the function of a preservative.
  • Cetearyl Glucoside = a surfactant and emulsifier that is obtained from Coconut as well as GMO-free corn. It helps to prevent moisture loss from the skin and hair, and it contributes a velvety, non-greasy sensation.
  • Cetearyl Alcohol = a combination of vegetable-based Cetyl and Stearyl alcohols. This ingredient is an emulsifier, thickener, and foam-enhancing agent that also has smoothing and stabilizing effects on a formulation.
  • Glyceryl Stearate = a wax-like fatty acid that is derived from vegetable oil, Soy Oil, or Palm Kernel Oil and that is also naturally occurring in the human body. This ingredient is used in formulations for its emulsifying properties.
  • Butyrospermum Parkii Butter = also known as Shea Butter, this creamy vegetable fat is derived from the kernels of the Shea tree’s fruits. This ingredient has exceptional moisturizing and softening properties.
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride = an oily liquid derived from Coconut Oil and Glycerin. This ingredient is a solvent, an emollient, and it helps to promote the even dispersal of non-soluble liquids and powders in a formulation. It also helps prolong a product’s shelf life and contributes a silky texture.
  • Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil = also called Argan Oil, this hydrating, conditioning, soothing, and softening agent is derived from the kernels of the Argan Tree.
  • Xanthan Gum = a polysaccharide derived from fermented sugar. This ingredient functions as a thickener and stabilizer.



Although conventional shampoos undeniably clean the hair, they are known to cleanse sometimes to the point of eliminating the hair’s and the scalp’s vital natural oils, causing them to dry out, leading to itchiness. Also, those with skin sensitivities or easily irritated skin may find that synthetic shampoos aggravate these conditions. When hair is introduced to the chemical-free ingredients in natural shampoos, although it may feel, unlike the way conventional shampoos cause it to feel as the hair continues to hold onto its natural oils, with regular use natural shampoos can help the hair to feel softer and smoother while enhancing its natural luster.


The most noticeable difference one can see when beginning to use a natural shampoo is that it will not produce as much lather as a conventional shampoo, due to the absence of synthetic foaming agents. This is not an indication that the hair is not being thoroughly cleansed, rather it indicates that the hair’s natural oils are not being washed out. It is recommended that hair be washed twice when using a natural shampoo, as the second wash will produce slightly more lather. This is because there is less buildup – dirt, oil, dry skin – to eliminate in the second wash. Furthermore, when the strands hold more water in the second wash, it increases the shampoo’s ability to produce more lather.


Both highly acidic and highly alkaline products can be extremely damaging to the hair cuticle. For this reason, it is important to use a pH-balanced shampoo that is neither too alkaline nor too acidic. NDA’s natural shampoo base is formulated with a pH range of 4.5-5.5.


NDA’s natural shampoo and natural conditioner bases are fully formulated and can be used unscented. Alternatively, Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils can be added to suit individual preferences.


Natural ingredients in hair products can gently yet effectively help to impart vitamins, minerals, oils, and botanical extracts to the scalp and the hair follicles. They can also gently stimulate the growth of new hair, help hair retain its natural moisture, and enhance the overall texture and appearance of the hair. The most common natural hair care oils that are known to be rich in Vitamin content include Almond, Ginseng, Jojoba, Lavender, Lemongrass, and Prickly Pear oils. These ingredients are also known to emit pleasant natural scents.


Natural shampoos and conditioners are often enriched with pure and nourishing moisturizers, including gels, oils, and butters that may be obtained from leaves, nuts, seeds, or kernels. Aloe Vera, Coconut Oil, and butters such as Cocoa are among the popular moisturizers that are found in natural shampoos and conditioners.


The hair benefits of using natural shampoos and conditioners also extend to the health of the environment, as ecologically-friendly ingredients replace the harsh synthetic chemicals, which pollute sewer systems and rivers, poison aquatic species and micro-organisms, and ultimately harm or destroy the ecosystem. Natural, biodegradable shampoos and conditioners simply disintegrate into non-toxic constituents that do not pollute or cause damage to ecosystems.


The pure ingredients in natural shampoos and conditioners contribute to the hypo-allergenic compositions and make these products suitable for all skin types, including sensitive or allergy-prone types. Their softer natural fragrances also make natural shampoos and conditioners gentler on the senses, benefitting those with smell sensitivities.


Natural shampoos and conditioners are suitable for all hair types and are ideal options for those with dyed or permed hair, as they clean without stripping hair color and texture, thus helping to extend the freshness of the color and the style.


There is a wide variety of natural hair care products that are tailored to individual skin and hair needs, offering a range of benefits that target particular areas of concern for unique hair qualities. Natural shampoos and conditioners are available for those who struggle with conditions such as dandruff and dryness as well as hair types ranging from normal to oily hair.


Natural shampoos and conditioners are applied in the same manner as conventional varieties. While conventional products offer the option of repeating the cleansing process, this step is highly recommended for natural products. This is because the first wash removes the surface buildup of synthetic ingredients and impurities such as pollution, excess natural oil, and styling products, while the second wash cleans, brings out the shine, and enhances the texture.


When beginning to use natural shampoos and conditioners, the hair’s transition period of adjustment from synthetic to natural can take a few days, a couple of weeks or a couple of months before the hair no longer feels more greasy, waxy, tacky, or weighty than it did when using conventional shampoos. This is the body’s over-production of natural oils as it aims to compensate for the natural oils that were stripped when previously using conventional synthetic shampoos, which often leave behind residue. This period of adjustment varies for each individual user. To reduce this discomfort, it helps to rinse the hair thoroughly to prevent natural shampoo residue from causing the hair to feel weighed down. This feeling is likely to go away once the scalp is purged of all synthetic ingredient buildup and after it adjusts to the new natural product, which will leave the hair with balanced moisture as well as a healthier, shinier, more voluminous appearance. With continued use of natural shampoos, the scalp is reputed to produce less oil, as the absence of synthetic cleaning agents prevents the scalp from drying out. When the scalp no longer produces excess oil to compensate for the dryness, this is when natural shampoo users can begin to go longer periods without washing the hair. For some, this can range from days to weeks.

During the adjustment period, it can be tempting to return to conventional shampoos; however, there are natural methods that can help to not only suppress this urge but to also promote and preserve the hair’s nourishment, natural luster, and overall health:

  • Diluting Apple Cider Vinegar in a spray bottle of water creates a natural hairspray that can be sprayed onto cleaned hair then rinsed out with cool water; afterward, the hair can be left to air dry
  • Brushing the hair thoroughly from root to tip will help to evenly distribute the hair’s natural oils
  • If it is necessary to use a conditioner, use a natural conditioner; avoid mixing natural products with synthetic ones


If Essential Oils are used to customize a natural shampoo or conditioner, it is important to note that, Essential Oils are for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Essential Oils without the medical advice of a physician, as they may have effects on certain hormone secretions and it is unclear whether these effects are transferable to babies at these stages of development. These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to be advised by a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.

Prior to using any Essential Oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in 4 drops of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Essential Oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Potential side effects of Essential Oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

A Safe Bug Spray That Really Works: Natural Mosquito Repellent

Summer is prime time for enjoying the outdoors. But more often than not, there’s a dark cloud hanging over that backyard barbecue: bugs – and especially mosquitoes. These blood-seeking fun busters expertly follow their senses right to your skin. But if you can repel them with one quick application of bug spray, then what’s the problem? It turns out that many old-fashioned bug sprays contain neurotoxic ingredients that may increase cancer risk. But, worry not – there are plenty of nontoxic essential oil blends that repel the bugs, without the bite to your health.

Why Should We Use Natural Mosquito Repellent?

Mosquito bites are not just annoying. They can also transmit diseases such as malaria, Zika, and dengue fever, among others. So, it’s important to guard against them. Mosquitoes are guided by their sense of smell, which is equipped with hundreds of odor-receptor proteins, and they’re attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale, our skin odors, and sweat. Although none of these can truly be avoided, there are plant-derived all-natural essential oils that repel bugs and are completely safe for humans. The best part is that natural insect repellents not only have a fresh, clean scent but, most importantly, they are safe to use at any frequency and can be used in place of traditional toxic bug sprays like DEET and picaridin. Plus, natural bug sprays usually have a variety of essential oils to repel a variety of mosquitoes at once.

Of course, if you do get bitten, there’s still hope. Try natural home remedies for mosquito bites.

Essential Oil Mosquito Repellents

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Lemon eucalyptus oil (also referred to as PMD) is a hydrodistilled byproduct of lemon eucalyptus and shouldn’t be confused with the essential oil of eucalyptus itself. In concentrations above 30 percent, lemon eucalyptus oil has been shown to provide the same amount of protection for the same amount of time as DEET- and picaridin-derived sprays. Due to its efficacy, it’s one of the few natural ingredients included on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list of effective mosquito repellents, in addition to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority-approved list.

Lemon eucalyptus is also a natural insecticide that is nontoxic to humans. In fact, some research shows that an all-natural blend of essential oils containing lemon eucalyptus was greater than 95 percent effective, compared to DEET (which was 100 percent effective) at repelling mosquitoes, for up to three hours. That 5 percent disparity seems small, but it represents the difference between a safe and potentially toxic spray.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil, like thyme and oregano, is naturally toxic to certain mosquitoes and ticks while providing a natural antioxidant effect on humans. This makes it an effective oil to help naturally repel mosquitoes while being beneficial to human health.

Thyme Oil

Thyme oil contains monoterpenes, naturally derived plant extracts that are shown to be as effective as DEET at repelling mosquitoes. Some research also finds that monoterpenes may repel bugs for longer than DEET.

Greek Catnip Oil

You may only know catnip as a feline’s favorite herb, but researchers at Rutgers University have crafted a catnip that not only entertains cats for longer but, more importantly, also has higher concentrations of mosquito-repelling essential oils. Catnip, a member of the mint family, has been shown to suppress the feeding receptors of mosquitoes in multiple ways, which means a more effective natural bug spray.

Other Effective Natural Bug Repellents

Geraniol is naturally derived from rose and citronella oils and has been shown to be an effective insect repellent. Citronella (which is often used in backyard tiki torches and anti-bug candles), along with a vanilla extract, is a powerful essential-oil combo for naturally repelling mosquitoes, even remaining up to 71 percent effective one hour after application. Citronella extract can even repel ticks better than DEET, according to some research.

Other natural essential oils that make an ideal bug spray include peppermint, holy basil, rosemary, and tea tree oil. Peppermint, in addition to geranium, contains menthone, an all-natural extract from essential oils that may repel mosquitoes up to 90 percent effective for up to two hours, compared with DEET, which repelled for only 15 minutes at the same 1 percent concentration. Extracts of cumin and cinnamon are also proven effective mosquito repellents. Plus, eating foods like garlic, vinegar (for example in salad dressing), lemongrass, and chili peppers may help prevent mosquito bites.

DIY Recipes

Try this DIY homemade bug spray recipe with essential oils (EOs):


  • Lemon eucalyptus oil
  • Citronella oil
  • Pure vanilla extract or vanillin
  • Distilled water
  • 1 16oz spray bottle
  • Optional: Witch Hazel


  1. Mix eight to 10 drops each of lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella, and either pure vanilla extract or vanillin (a vanilla-extract alternative made from wood pulp) into a small spray bottle.
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water.
  3. Add an optional splash of witch hazel to soothe itchy skin.

You can increase the amount of essential oil based on your preferences, but, generally, the higher the EO concentration, the more repellent it will be. Remember to always dilute EOs and never use them directly on the skin in undiluted form. Also remember that due to evaporation, natural bug sprays made with essential oils will lose efficacy fairly quickly, so reapply every hour.

The common decorative plant Lantana camara, also known as big sage, red sage, or wild sage, can be mixed with Ocimum gratissimum, (aka clove basil, wild basil, or African basil) to make a natural bug repellent. Try this recipe made from dried plants:


  • Food processor or another grinder


  • Wild sage
  • Clove basil
  • A liter of 50 percent ethanol or a liter of 50 percent methanol
  • Distilled water
  • 1 16oz spray bottle
  1. Start by air-drying the leaves at room temperature for two weeks.
  2. Then, grind 500 grams of wild sage and 325 grams of clove basil leaves into a powder in a food processor or other grinder to increase the surface area exposed to the liquid.
  3. Add this to one liter of either 50 percent ethanol (or methanol) and water to extract the most metabolites from the plants, which will not be extractable with water alone.
  4. Let the mixture sit for at least three days, shaking it three times per day. The ethanol should mostly evaporate.
  5. Strain the leaves out with cheesecloth and pour the liquid into a small spray bottle. Add distilled water to fill.

Other Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites

Reapply Often

Essential-oil-based bug sprays have one big disadvantage – they dissipate more quickly than toxic bug sprays. So just as with sunscreen, make sure you reapply at least once every hour when outdoors.

Avoid Peak Times

Mosquitoes tend to overheat as they’re feeding and are also disrupted by light, which is why they come out to feed at night. If you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time, try to avoid being stationary outside at dusk and night.

Use Plants

Certain plants can help repel bugs, so why not place a few of what are referred to as spatial repellents around your yard and home to help fight against mosquitoes? Citrus plants such as lemon and orange have been used to repel bugs in mosquito-borne-illness-prone regions such as Tanzania, as is the eucalyptus plant. Cinnamosma fragrans, a plant found in Madagascar and South America, has also proven to be an effective bug-repellent plant.

Cover Your Body

Mosquitoes are attracted to sweat and can more easily bite the bare skin. So if you can, cover up as much exposed skin as possible to avoid bug bites.

Get Rid of Standing Water

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, which is the number one reason to make sure your pots (indoor or outdoor) have good drainage. If you have a bird feeder, a water feature, or a pond in your garden, consider installing a small solar-powered fountain agitator to keep the water agitated enough to keep mosquitoes from laying eggs.

The Dangers of Traditional Mosquito Repellent

DEET, or N, N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, was first developed in the 1940s by the U.S. military to repel bugs by effectively “blinding” them to human scents besides carbon dioxide. But after decades of use worldwide as a bug repellent and crop insecticide, some research has found that DEET may be unsafe.

Toxic Chemicals Have Side Effects

First, DEET contains harsh chemicals that can potentially trigger tumor growth or seizures in mammals (including humans). Breathing difficulties have also been reported at high concentrations, as has the temporary burning of the skin and mucous membranes. DEET is also unsafe for small children and pregnant women. It also may have immune-suppressing effects and can suppress acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, which means it can have neurotoxic effects.

Not 100% Effective on All Mosquitoes

Not all mosquitoes are repelled by DEET. Even though it’s long-lasting, it’s still not 100 percent effective against all mosquitoes.

Damages Clothing

DEET can slowly dissolve nylons and plastics. Spraying it on these types of fabrics may damage your clothing over time.


There are many ways to naturally protect yourself from bug bites – and specifically mosquito bites – without covering your skin with unsafe chemicals like DEET. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your right mix of plant extracts and essential oils to create your own bug spray and repel bugs naturally.

Natural Home Remedies for Mosquito Bites

Few things are more annoying than the itching and scratching that accompanies a fat, juicy mosquito bite. When a mosquito bites us, we itch due to the residual saliva left behind from the insect’s feasting on our blood! Fortunately, just as Mother Nature has honored us with the presence of these buzzing nuisances, she has provided us with some natural home remedies for mosquito bites.

Here are some of my favorite and most-effective natural ways for relieving and treating painful and itchy mosquito bites. I’ve been using these remedies for years, as the mosquitos can get really bad here in Texas. In fact, you may be surprised to find that most of these remedies are common things that you can easily find in your home.

12 Remedies to Treat Mosquito Bites at Home

1. Vinegar

When you first notice the itchy bite, try applying a small amount of vinegar directly to the bump. If you have many bites, you may want to take a very hot bath in a tub filled with water and 2 1/2 cups of vinegar. I would personally recommend using organic apple cider vinegar.

Aloe Vera

2. Aloe

Aloe vera is another excellent remedy for mosquito bites, as well as many other conditions. Not only will it help ease the itching and swelling from the bit, but it will also aid in healing the wound. You can use fresh inner leaf gel directly from an aloe plant or organic aloe juice. They both work well at providing relief.

3. A Dry Bar of Soap

Another remedy for mosquito bits is to rub a bar of dry soap directly on the bite. This will help provide temporary relief to the itching. Remember to wash it off thoroughly after the itch fades away.

4. Baking Soda & Water

Another simple remedy for mosquito bites is to make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Then apply this paste generously to the affected area. You should feel the swelling and itching subside shortly afterward.

5. Onion

Other than making you produce tears, a fresh slice of onion can also help take the sting out of a bite. Simply place a fresh slice on the affected area for several minutes until the itching subsides. Be sure to wash the area thoroughly afterward.

6. Toothpaste

For quick relief from mosquito bites, try applying a small amount of all-natural peppermint or neem-based toothpaste. Allow the paste to dry and leave for as long as desired.

7. Raw Honey

Simply, take a small amount of honey and apply directly to the bite. Honey also has anti-microbial properties that can help prevent infection. I would personally recommend using local raw honey.


8. Lime and/or Lemons

I usually apply a small amount of lime juice directly to the bites. Lemon juice also works well. I have also heard that rubbing the bite with the lemon or lime peel helps, but I usually prefer to use the juice. This also helps in keeping the wound from becoming infected from the grit and grime of fingernails.

9. Essential oils

There are many essential oils that can help provide temporary relief for mosquito bites. My favorites are tea tree, rosemary, neem, lavender, witch hazel and cedar oil. Take a small amount and dilute it with water, then apply directly to the bite.

10. Salt Paste

Take finely ground salt and mix with a small amount of water until you have a thick paste. Apply this salt paste directly to bite. I personally use Himalayan salt and find it works best, but iodized salt will also work. The important thing is to make sure it’s finely ground.


11. Garlic

Try rubbing a piece of raw garlic on the wound. It is possible that you will feel a small amount of mild burning, but you should feel some major relief afterwards. This is not one that I use with my children, and is wise for to use caution when using this natural remedy. The smell of garlic (and neem) will also help repel the mosquitoes from biting you more later.

12. Ozonated Olive Oil

Ozonated olive oil is a natural health remedy in which olive oil is slowly infused with oxygen over a period of 3-6 months. This process changes the oil to an off-white topical cream that can soothe a variety of conditions. It speeds healing and alleviates swelling and redness from insect bites. Simply apply the cream directly to the bite, and the itching and swelling should stop within minutes.

Use Extra Caution When Giving Herbs to Children

Babies younger than 6 months {or around the time a child begins eating solid food} should not take herbs internally. Small amounts of gentle herbs can be applied to an infant’s skin via salves, oils, baths and compresses {a cloth dipped in herb tea}.

For older children, dosages usually are calculated by weight. Take the child’s weight in pounds, divide it by 150 {an average adult weight} and multiply that number by the adult dose. For instance, if an adult dose is 100 mg and the child weighs 50 pounds, the child’s dose would be 30 mg {50/150 x 100 = 0.3 x 100 = 30 mg}.

Children aren’t simply small adults, however. Some herbs generally regarded safe for adults should not be given to children. To find out more, ask an herbal expert or get a book, such asNaturally Healthy Babies & Children by Aviva Romm {Storey Publishing, 2000}.

Use Gentle Herbs when Pregnant or Nursing

Many plant constituents pass from the intestinal tract into the blood, across the placenta to the fetus’ blood and, later, into breast milk.

If you’re pregnant, you generally should avoid putting anything medicinal into your body, A void consuming herbs with laxative effects {senna, cascara sagrada, aloe}; hormonal properties {licorice, black cohosh, dong quai, chaste tree, sage, red clover}; or stimulant effects {guarana, kola, yerba mate, tea, coffee}.

Food herbs usually are safe bets, particularly when used in quantities suitable for flavoring. While no obstetrician will tell you to cease cooking with garlic and oregano, some culinary herbs, such as sage and parsley, might not be recommended in higher therapeutic doses. Most experts agree pregnant woman can take these herbs safely: ginger {no more than 1 gram a day to reduce nausea}, raspberry leaf, echinacea, chamomile, bilberry {fruit, not leaf}, cranberry, hawthorn, hibiscus flowers, rose hips, mullein, spearmint and nettles.

Min-Elix Herbal Syrup & Echinacea Summer Tincture

This fruity, delicious herbal syrup is rich in easily assimilate iron and calcium.
It’s a great nourishing formula for children, as well as anyone feeling a little rundown or tired.


It’s also great as a PMS, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopausal tonic.
3 parts rose hips
2 parts nettle leaves
2 parts wild oats
2 parts chickweed, fresh
2 parts Malva leaf, fresh
1 part yellow dock root
1 part alfalfa leaf
1 part red clover blossoms
1 part violet leaf and flower
1/2 part grated fresh ginger root
1/4 part cinnamon chips
1/2 part chopped dried apricots
1/2 part currants or raisins
1/2 part fresh or dried cherries
Unsulfered blackstrap molasses
Raspberry vinegar
1. In a large pot, combine the herbs and dried fruit. Cover with 3 times as much water.
2. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat, stir well, and cover.
3. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Check water level as the mixture simmers; it should reduce to about half.
4. Turn off heat, and allow mixture to cool down for 2-3 hours.
5. Strain well, squeezing all liquid from the herbs. Compost herbs, and measure the volume of liquid. For every quart of liquid, add 3 cups of unsulfured blackstrap molasses, 1 cup brandy, and a few dashes of raspberry vinegar.
6. Stir well, and bottle. Store in the refrigerator, it will keep for several months.

To Use:

Take 1 tablespoon a few times per week over a period of several months.
If you’re anemic or very run-down, try 2-3 tablespoons per day, as needed.

Echinacea3Echinacea Summer Tincture.

Echinacea stimulates the immune system. It also works as an antiviral, fighting colds and flu, and promoting healing of infections. We take this tincture when fighting an infection when traveling, or we apply it topically to minor inflammations, such as bug bites.
1 cup fresh echinacea buds, perfect flowers, leaves and stems rinsed, chopped and pounded
1 cup 190 proof ethanol alcohol {Everclear} and 1 cup distilled water
2 cups vodka {90 to 100 proof}
1. Place prepared herb in a clean jar. Cover with the solution of alcohol and water. Keep in a cool, dark place. Shake twice daily. Macerate for 48 hours.
2. Filter tincture through a food-grade screen. Pour finished tincture into a brown glass bottle and label.

The Henna Ritual

Henna, a flowering shrub found throughout Asia and along Africa’s Mediterranean coast, has provided humans with healing, romance, enchantment and beauty for thousands of years. In the West, henna is most famous as body ornamentation, an alternative to tattooing and in fact, henna does have much to recommend itself in this area. It is painless and temporary, with no risk of infection. Henna’s dried, powdered leaves are cooked up into a paste, creating the enchanting dye.

Traces of henna have been found on the hands of Egyptian mummies as far back as five thousand years ago. From that time until the present, henna has been used to transform the body into a living amulet. Henna provides protection, prosperity, fertility, good health, romance, and joy. It brings you into immediate contact with the sacred. If you have had henna painted on you and you did not receive an immediate surge of spiritual uplift, then something was not right, either with the henna or with the ritual.

A fine henna artisan knows more than just how to mix up a good batch of henna and how to draw a pretty picture. She knows which designs to draw where so as to produce desired results. On the subcontinent, brides are adorned with peacocks and ripe mangoes, simultaneously celebrating and stimulating their unleashed sensuality. The married woman wishing to proclaim her love for her husband has dots and waves painted upon her palms: dots representing the rain of love that she longs to shower over him, waves for the passion she can barely control. A married woman with worries needs other designs. In Morocco, an eye inside a heart drawn upon one’s palm safeguards one’s lover from the covetous glances of others. The design of a horse will stimulate her partner to his utmost virility. To honor a young girl’s first menstruation, a deer may be painted upon her soles. To heal and assuage fears of infertility, a date palm is applied to the thighs.

Although henna is popular, powerful and beneficial, much of what you’ll find available commercially is poor quality. Henna paste only lasts for a few days; premixed henna in tubes may have been sitting like that for years. Exactly what’s in the tube may also be a mystery; premixed henna tends to come from countries whose ingredient labeling requirements are less than stringent. Either hire a reputable henna artist or mix up the stuff yourself.

Cooking up henna is not the hard part. Depending upon what you envision your design to look like and the extent of your artistic talent, drawing may or may not be difficult. The hardest part of henna for most Westerners is the time and stillness involved. Henna cannot be hurried. It is a sensuous, leisurely ritual. The Kama Sutra lists henna as one of the erotic arts required for women to know, but henna teaches other arts as well. Given the opportunity, henna will teach you to become the master of your time rather than the slave of your clock.

The Henna Ritual


Although you may paint henna anywhere you prefer, it works best on hands and feet. Whatever area you plan to henna must be free from all lotions and creams and then the skin must be exfoliated: a loofa or Hayate works well. Something is then placed upon the skin as a primer: if your skin is not sensitive, a drop of essential oil of eucalyptus is best. If you are sensitive, rub half a lemon over the area.

Henna paste can now be applied to your skin. In order to get a good color with staying power, it must remain on your skin for hours. Overnight is best. The paste goes on black. When it begins to dry and turn matte, a lemon/sugar mixture is applied for fixing and enhancement. This can be reapplied until a glaze forms. Henna craves heat, especially dry heat. Traditional rural henna artisans kept heated coals or stones for their clients to rest their hands and feet near. A hot cup of tea will work for you although you will not actually be able to touch it, only allow the heat to radiate towards your design. If you have had both palms done, you will not be able to drink the tea either, unless someone lifts it to your lips.

You really can’t do anything while henna is applied. Henna laughs in the face of multitasking. You can talk. You could listen to music or watch a movie. Of course, if you’ve had both palms done, someone else will have to handle the remote. You could read if one hand is reasonably free or someone turns your pages. If you’ve had one sole done, you’ll have to hop. If you’ve had both painted, you will be unable to walk without wrecking your design. Ideally, you will have someone with you to pamper you and take care of you. If you don’t have such a person, do your henna in segments, one foot or hand at a time and save the rest for the next day.

Henna sets best while you sleep. One of the advantages of doing henna at home is that you can time its application for right before bedtime. Once the lemon and sugar are done, wrap your design carefully and gently in toilet paper, mummy style. Leave it on for six to eight hours, the longer you can, the better your color will be. Eventually, the paste will come off by itself. Once it starts to peel off, crumble it off or scrape it off. Remove the last bits with some olive oil on a cotton ball. Avoid exposing it to water for the first twenty-four hours. You will have an orange-colored design, which will take a further twenty-four to forty-eight hours to evolve into its final shade.

Henna is a living being. You cannot control nor completely predict exactly what shade will result nor how long the henna will remain. Henna’s palate ranged from red to brick to brown.

A henna stain should last a minimum of two weeks. It may last as long as twelve. To some extent, this is dependent upon the quality of the henna and the care and talent of the artisan but there is also a personal, chemical interaction involved

. Henna loves some people; they never receive a weak shade. Others have to work and experiment to achieve the color they want. The color ultimately received is always an eagerly awaited mystery.

henna baby

Henna Flowers and Fragrance

In India, henna plants are grown in the backyard as hedges and for personal use. It’s not likely that most of us will be able to grow enough to produce sufficient powder but there are other reasons to grow a henna plant. The dye comes from the leaves. The flowers have their own power. Blossoms packed into woolens repel moths. Spiritual protection is provided and your clothes retain the fragrance.

Henna’s fragrance is legendary. An old saying in India states that when henna is in bloom, snakes and men draw near. Arabic tradition says just breathing the fragrance of the blossoms restore fertility and rejuvenates virility. An essential oil is produced, although it is rare and expensive. The paste, too, has its aroma which lingers on the flesh as long as the design does. In Asia and Africa, the aroma of henna is believed to reduce men to putty in a woman’s hand. Henna has a distinctive aroma, earthy, primal and green. It evokes strong reactions. Should someone dislike the fragrance, you can add rosewater or orange blossom water to the paste.

There are thousands of recipes for henna paste and thousands more for the lemon/sugar aftermath. Recipes are hoarded and treasured and kept as family secrets. A very basic recipe follows: feel free to improvise. Some substitute a shot of espresso for the tea. Others add assorted spices, like cardamom, cloves or fenugreek. Saffron is an expensive but seductive addition. Pink or red rose petals can be added, too. Okra is sometimes used to thicken the paste. Strain all solids from the liquid before adding henna.

Have fun!

Henna Paste

1/2 cup loose black tea

1/2 cup henna powder

4 cups water

1 fresh lemon or lime

1 teaspoon essential oil of eucalyptus

Any color enhancers you wish to add such as spices rose petals or sliced, dried limes.

1. Your henna powder should be green and fragrant. It must be sifted. Put it through a very fine mesh strainer. You can stretch panty hose over a bowl and push the powder through.

2. Boil the tea leaves in 4 cups of water until the water has been reduced by about half.

3. Add whatever additional ingredients you would like.

4. Let the brew simmer for approximately 1 hour.

5. Allow the brew to cool on the stove, preferably overnight, without removing any of the solid ingredients yet.

6. Strain and discard the solids, reserving the liquid.

7. Add the juice of 1 lemon or lime {only the juice, no pulp or seeds} to the brew.

8. Warm the brew gently but do not boil.

9. Begin to add your henna powder, spoonful by spoonful, stirring all the while. I’m not giving you precise amounts because you need to achieve a consistency and your eyes and hands will help you do this better than numbers. The henna should ultimately be the consistency of cake batter. Stick a spoon into the mixture and see how the paste drips off. If it runs off quickly and easily, it’s too thin, add more powder. If it clumps and doesn’t flow at all, add more liquid, a bit at a time.

10. Once the correct consistency is achieved, add the teaspoon of eucalyptus oil.

11.  Put a little paste on your skin for fifteen minutes. Although the henna isn’t full strength yet, it should leave a faint orange mark. Testing is a good idea because a lot of time and effort will be invested after this point. Who wants to painstakingly draw a design and wait eight hours just to find out that the henna didn’t take?

12. Let the finished paste rest for about six hours, covered in a warm place. You’re ready!

Lemon and Sugar

Juice 2 lemons using a strainer so that the juice separates from the pulp and seeds, which can be discarded. Add about 2 teaspoons of sugar for each lemon. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely.

There are all sorts of methods for applying henna, ranging from pastry-baglike plastic cones to plastic squeeze bottles to plain old sticks. There is no right or wrong way, only what works for you.

Henna fades away completely on human skin, nails, hair and horse manes, too. Everywhere else, consider it a permanent dye. Be careful where you prepare and apply it. Cover the area with newspaper or plastic. You will never get it out of a carpet. Of course, sometimes this is an attribute. Henna can be used to paint enchanting designs on magickal articles. Henna can be used to create a beautiful and protective finishing tough for a small chest to safeguard your treasures.

henna chestHenna Treasure Chest

Henna paste

An unfinished wooden box

The henna will not take if the box is coated with any lacquer, varnish or similar substance. To test, apply a small amount of henna paste in a manner that can be incorporated into the eventual design. Leave on for fifteen minutes and then scrape off. A pale orange stain should remain. If it doesn’t, some sort of finish is on the wood, which must be removed.

Begin your design in the center. Then work from the edges inward. Take your time and work in stages. Henna’s colors evolve with time. The color as it first appears is not the finished shade. Eventually, the color will be consistent.

Mommy~and~Me Yoga 101

An easy way to ease back into exercise, mommy-and-baby yoga can be a safe, fun and healthy practice for both of you as long as you take a few precautions.

Looking for a simple way to connect both emotionally and physically with your baby? Try mommy-and-me yoga! Unlike the kinds of yoga you might have practiced on your own (or simply heard about), doing yoga with your baby is quite different: At yoga class, you’ll help your baby perform simple stretches with playful music and some simple props thrown into the mix to engage and stimulate the minds of your little yogi. Just don’t expect your 3-month old to rock a warrior two pose — you’ll hold onto her throughout the practice up until she’s proficient at crawling or walking on her own.


  • It helps ease new parent jitters. Get started by attending a class taught by a trained instructor — it’s a safe and structured way to engage with your baby.
  • It’s a little TLC for your body. Any kind of yoga gives you an opportunity to nourish and care for your body through focused stretches and mindful breathing exercises, which is especially important after carrying a baby for nine months and then giving birth!
  • It stretches and strengthens the muscles that need the most TLC. The gentle movements and mindful breathing that are integral to yoga boost abdominal strength and activate the pelvic floor muscles, which aids recovery from giving birth, while classic poses — from upward facing dog to cobra — help open up the shoulders and chest you rely on for all of the rocking and cradling you do in the first few months with your baby.
  • It helps you meet new moms. After baby is born, you might not have as much time for socializing. But it’s reassuring to talk to other mothers who are going through the same experiences as you are. Yoga class provides a safe and nurturing environment for new parents to discuss worries and concerns. You’re not alone!
  • It helps you and your new baby bond. Yoga is a healthy, playful activity you can enjoy together.


  • Helps develop motor and sensory skills. The simple stretches and poses can help your baby gain self and environmental awareness. Of course your baby doesn’t need to be running marathons right out of the womb — but experts believe that early activity can help your little one develop voluntary movements, which can build a strong foundation for sports, dance and exercise later on in adulthood.
  • Aids in digestion. Apanasana, or knees-to-chest pose, has been shown to alleviate constipation, gas pains and colic (which is often caused by gas).
  • Promotes better sleep. Although it’s not guaranteed, some parents report their babies sleep better after attending baby yoga classes.


Most public postpartum yoga classes have a very open and casual atmosphere. Lasting anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes, they often begin with meditation or breathing plus some beginner-friendly pose sequences that involve holding your baby in your arms. Moms sometimes feed or change their babies during simple sequences — it’s really no big deal! So you don’t have to worry about your baby’s behavior upsetting the zen.


While some yoga studios welcome babies as young as 6 weeks old, waiting until your baby can hold her head up without your help (usually around 3 months of age) can set you up for a safe practice full of poses that put you both to work.


While mommy-and-me yoga classes should be structured with your safety and baby’s in mind, keep in mind these few tips to stay safe:

  • Get your doctors’ OK. Make sure to get clearance from your child’s pediatrician as well as your own doctor before attempting any baby yoga.
  • Check out baby’s skills. Can she lift and hold up her head on her own? If not, hold off. The practice will be much safer when she can.
  • Protect your tummy. If you’re recovering from diastasis recti, avoid poses that engage your core muscles (like boat pose) and skip any deep backbends.
  • Stretch gently. Because your body continues to produce hormones that loosen the ligaments even after you give birth, don’t push too hard on the stretching.
  • Don’t overdo it. If any move seems like it might be a little too much for you or your baby, speak up. If you still feel at all uncomfortable, skip it. Baby yoga should be more about the bonding than the workout. Safety always comes first!
  • Baby comes first. Taking care of your baby is your first priority — and it’s really no big deal if your little one cries for a feeding or a diaper change during class.


Curious and want to try a little mommy-and-me yoga at home? Here’s a playful pose you can practice with your little one (of course, the safety tips above still apply). Keep in mind, it’s best to do mommy-and-me yoga in a class with an experienced yoga teacher, who can help ensure you’re doing the poses correctly and safely.

Butterfly Pose with Baby (Baddha Konasana)

This hip-opener will feel great for you and give you and your baby some playful facetime.

  1. Sit down on your mat facing your seated baby, supporting her by holding her hands (or wrapping your hands around her upper body if she’s still working on sitting up).
  2. Bend your knees and bring your heels together as close to your body as you can, opening your knees out to the sides. Position your baby’s heels together (so she’s mirroring your position.)
  3. Continue to hold on to your baby as you shift your upper body from left to right and back and forward, moving together.
  4. You can hold this pose as long as you’d like, but for your baby five of your inhale/exhales should be a good count — of course adjust depending on how well your baby takes to it!
  5. If you’d like, lie baby back on her back and hold her feet together, knees open wide. Gently rock her feet back and forth, massaging her back on the mat.

Labor: What are the Stages of Labor?

You may think that knowing when you are in labor is obvious, but for many women, it may not be so simple.

At times, women may experience symptoms of false labor, includingBraxton Hicks contractions (also known as practice contractions) which, although similar to real contractions, are not labor.

Determining what is real labor and false can be accomplished by clocking contractions, timing how long each contraction lasts for and how long it takes from the start of one contraction to the next.

If you are having Braxton Hicks contractions, they will be irregular and go away in time. They may resolve with walking, lying down or through other changes in activity, but true contractions and labor will not resolve and will not resolve and will increase in intensity.

Signs of labor

The onset of labor can be signified by cervical changes that are present on physical examination.

There are several signs that labor may start in the near future. At times, a woman may notice that the baby is sitting lower in the pelvis; this is referred to as “dropping” or “lightening.”

Cervical changes may become present on physical exam, and“nesting” – a strong desire to tidy and organize the house – may become more evident. The nesting instinct is not experienced by everyone, however.

Additionally, some women may experience a bloody mucus discharge indicating the loss of their mucus plug as labor nears. If your water breaks, labor will likely ensue and your health care team should be notified.

If you have questions about any symptoms you may be having during this time, it is important to speak with your health care provider to determine if there is a need to be seen in the office or hospital.

Stages of labor

There are three stages of labor: the first, second and third stages.

First stage of labor

The first stage of labor describes the time at which labor begins until a woman’s cervix is fully dilated to around 10cm. This period can last anywhere from 12-19 hours in duration. The first stage of labor is divided into three phases: early, active and transition.

A woman is in hospital during a later stage of labor.
The second stage of labor, when the cervix is fully dilated and the mother gives birth, typically lasts from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

The early phase is the time at which labor begins until the cervix is dilated to around 3 cm. This phase lasts for 8-12 hours. Contractions are mild, irregular and last for about 30-45 seconds in duration. There is a 5-30 minute rest period between contractions which cause symptoms such as lower backache, cramping, and pelvic pressure or tightness.

These contractions will soon become regular and more intense. During this time, the amniotic sac may rupture (also known as when the water breaks). Most likely, you will be at home during this phase.

The active labor phase is the time from 3-7 cm cervical dilation. When the active labor phase starts, you should head to the hospital. This phase lasts for 3-5 hours. Contractions become stronger, lasting for about 45-60 seconds in duration, and there is 3-5 minute rest period between contractions.

The transition phase is the time from 7 cm to full dilation to 10 cm. This phase is often accompanied by nausea, hot flashes, chills, and shaking. The transition phase generally lasts for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Contractions are intense and last 60-90 seconds in duration. There are only 30 seconds to 2 minutes of rest in between contractions.

Second stage of labor

The second stage of labor is the time of full dilation (10 cm) to birth. This is the time when you will push and lasts for 20 minutes to 2 hours.

Third stage of labor

The third stage of labor is the time when the placenta (afterbirth) is delivered and takes around 5-30 minutes. Women will often experience shaking and shivering during this stage of labor.

Rapid or prolonged labor

Labor duration can vary from woman to woman. It may follow the typical stages and times of labor as described above but, in some cases, women may experience rapid or prolonged labor.

During rapid or precipitous labor, a woman experiences only active labor, birth and delivery of the placenta; this type of labor typically lasts anywhere from 3-5 hours in duration.

Alternately, there are some women who experience a prolonged labor or failure to progress. During prolonged labor, the duration lasts from 14-20 hours and is at times a cause for concern, especially in the active phase of birth.

When to go to a hospital

Your health care provider will give you specific instruction on when to present to the hospital. However, you should always speak with your health care team about any concerning symptoms that may be cause for emergent evaluation.

It is important to head to the hospital when:

  • You show signs of being in active labor (strong, regular contractions 3-5 minutes apart)
  • Lower back pain or cramping develops that does not resolve
  • Your water breaks
  • Bloody-brown vaginal mucus or discharge is found
  • Other concerns arise that may signify an emergency.

Pain relief during labor

All pain is not equal and women may experience pain differently during the labor and delivery process. While some women do not require pain medication, many do. There are various ways to manage pain during labor which includes both natural and medicinal methods.

Natural methods

Natural methods of pain management during labor include:

Pregnant woman receiving pain relief.
Pain-relieving medication can be administered with an injection during labor.
  • Breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Water
  • Massage
  • Applying heat or cold – with a cold washcloth, for example
  • Support from a loved one or doula
  • Positional changes
  • Visualization
  • Guided imagery
  • Aromatherapy
  • Listening to music.

Medicinal methods

Medicinal methods of pain management include:

  • Opioids: these are injectable medications that can be delivered into a vein or muscle. Medications typically used include morphine, butorphanol, fentanyl, Nubaine and Demerol.
  • Epidural and spinal blocks: during an epidural, a catheter is placed in the lower back through which a combination of medications including narcotic and local anesthetics is typically delivered. A spinal block is typically a single injection of pain-relieving medication into the spinal fluid.
  • Pudendal block: this form of pain relief requires an injection of medication into the vagina and pudendal nerve. Medications used during this procedure include lidocaine or chloroprocaine.
  • General anesthesia: this form of anesthesia is rarely used. However, it is necessary for certain situations. During the administration of general anesthesia, a total loss of consciousness is obtained with a muscle relaxant and nitrous oxide.

Speak with your health care provider about the risks and benefits of each form of pain relief to see which option is best for you and your baby.

Natural Ginger Ale

A feverish child needs to drink plenty of liquids to keep from becoming dehydrated. Ginger ale is a good idea. Even today, I remember how much I enjoyed ginger ale when I was sick as a child! Besides reducing fever, ginger fights the germs that cause a cold or flu, and helps relieve such cold and flu symptoms as a queasy stomach and congestion. It also helps eliminate toxins produced in the body during a cold or flu. You can buy a healthy version of ginger ale from the natural food store, or you can make your own.

Natural Ginger Aleginger ale

1 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh ginger rhizome {or 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder}
1 teaspoon red raspberry leaves
3 cups water
1 cup carbonated water
1 lemon slice

Combine herbs and plain water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes. Strain out herbs. Add carbonated water and lemon just before serving.