Thursday, May 30, 2013

Herbal Bug Repellent

I made a bug repellent.  Honestly, I'm on the fence about it.  It's an oil, which is not most people's preferred choice of skin additive during the summer.  However, I think it will work GREAT!  And, the oils used would be very good and promote healthy skin.  I think that if it is used very lightly and gently rubbed in, that it would work really well!  And not be TOO terrible of an oily feeling.  I'm considering trying to do a tincture with the catnip as well, but I'm on the fence about that one too.  Seems that it might sting the skin, especially if you are slightly sunburned or it may not be as nourishing for the skin as the oil would be.  But, it's a thought of a possibility at the moment.  :)

There was a study done that shows that Catnip is more effective than DEET at keeping mosquitos away.  For link to more info about that, you can click here.  While effective, it is not as long lasting and will need reapplied more often than conventional bug sprays.

Anyway, here's the info on the bug repellent.

First, I infused equal parts extra virgin organic coconut oil with safflower oil (total 1 cup) to dried catnip (1/2 cup).  Coconut oil has a million and 1 uses and is very very very good for the skin.  It is especially wonderful on sunburns.  Which I have a bit of at the moment from spending every moment possible out weeding the herb garden yesterday.  :)  After a long day in the sun, slathering on some coconut oil can actually heal your skin and prevent blistering and peeling (This has worked for me!  Even from a LOT of too much sun.).  So, that's a bonus of this bug repellent.  :)  IF you were to use it during the day, coconut oil can also work as an effective sunblock to prevent sunburns.  I'm not sure of the SPF value of coconut oil, nor am I sure how long would be safe to be in the sun.  This would differ to where you live.  For instance, my sun here in Wisconsin, is not going to be as strong as Florida, or Texas.  Ya know?  So I can't say.  Use common sense and wear protective clothing rather than relying on just coconut oil if you'll be out for a long time or are in strong sun/UV area.

I used Safflower Oil because it's lighter than Olive oil and is less fragrant.  Plus, it's high in Vitamin E, which is also great for the skin.  But mostly because Coconut Oil alone tends to have this habit of solidifying under 76 degrees.  Which, it often gets in the evenings.  So by mixing the two oils, it gives it a more liquid presence.

I did the ol' herbs in a jar trick and just put the oils and catnip in a Mason jar and sat it on the back of my stove, then shook it up several times a day for 2 weeks.  You can infuse for longer, but I really wanted to get this bug repellent finished.  We've had a lot of rain and the hubby and kids plan to go on a survival expedition this weekend.  I thought this would come in very handy.

Once the oil had a chance to infuse, I then drained it in a mesh strainer over a bowl with an old cut out piece of t shirt.  Be sure to wrap up the herbs in the cloth and wring it out really well!  That's the most concentrated oils!

I picked up the little 2 oz spray bottles at *gasp* Walmart for $.97 each in the trial products section.  If I were to use them often, then I would order from From Nature With Love.  They offer free shipping with any order of $75 or more and I've used them for many of my container orders for supplies.  The free shipping makes them very competitive on prices.

I then poured the catnip infused oil into the little spray bottles until it was ALMOST filled, but not completely.  Then I used 10 drops each of the following essential oils (I prefer Mountain Rose Herbs).


Put the cap on and shake it up.  Done.

My kids were so enthralled.  "Mom!  It smells like REAL bug repellent!"  :)  If you get a chance to try this, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for checking it out!

Sorry for the crappy phone picture.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Curing Tooth Decay ~ Things I've learned that may have contributed to our plight

As I'm learning, I'm sharing.  For several reasons.  1) I learn best by writing.  If I take notes in class, it's because I will remember it better by writing it down, so this is partly for my own remembrance.  2) I hope that what I'm learning, will be helpful to someone else.  3) So that I can come back and look at it when I need a refresher of why we are or aren't eating a particular food or using a product.

Some things I learned I can honestly say I KNEW that, but had chosen to ignore my instincts.  Other things, were truly revolutionary to me.

Since we are at the stage of attempting to remineralize teeth, we first have to understand what is happening.  Essentially, the teeth are not receiving the minerals they need to stay strong and healthy.  The body is leaching minerals from the bones.  Why?  The simple answer is that their diet is lacking necessary nutrients.  A more complex answer would be that their body is not able to process the nutrients in the foods they are eating.  Even if I gave them all the right foods, they may not be able to properly absorb them due to nutrient blocking foods they are getting in combination with the good foods.  I mentioned in my last post about how it was more important to keep the bad out than getting the good in because of this very concept.  I can give them all the vitamin supplements in the world (which aren't recommended anyway) but if the absorption is being blocked by other high phytic acid foods, then it's not going to work.  Maximizing nutrient absorption is key to remineralizing teeth.

Key nutrients needed for strong healthy bones and teeth are Vitamin A, D, C, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc, iodine, as well as a few others.  You can't just take a pill.  It HAS to come from your foods!  Even more important, those nutrients can't be BLOCKED by other foods and the nutrients need to be easily available for your body to absorb.

I know, it almost seems overwhelming, doesn't it?  But what I've learned is that traditional ways of preparing foods, are time consuming, because they work.  Pretty much anything that's quick or easy, is not worth the time or effort.  Let alone the money to buy it.  They are essentially junk foods.

A quick run down of some of our common day, American foods, and the yay or nays of them:

Major factor and Key Player right here - - - - >    Blood sugar stability - When blood sugar fluctuates, the calcium and phosphorus in the blood fluctuate with it.  White sugar can cause a fluctuation that lasts as long as five hours!  *5* hours!  Fruit sugar produces fewer fluctuations, but the blood sugar may still remain unbalanced for the same length of time.  Honey causes even few fluctuations, and will come back into balance in approximately 3 hours.  When the blood sugar becomes unbalanced, so are the blood calcium levels because the body is pulling calcium from your bones (teeth).  Calcium and phosphorus ratios are negatively affected over time by blood sugar fluctuations.  A combination of blood sugar stability and proper calcium/phosphorus rations in the blood result in tooth decay immunity.  The longer your blood sugar is out of balance, the higher the possibility of tooth decay.  It doesn't matter if this imbalance is occurring due to eating cakes, or fruit.  Sugar imbalance is sugar imbalance.  All sweet foods cause fluctuations.  However, the intensity of sweetness will directly affect how much of a fluctuation.  For instance, dried fruit will cause a much greater fluctuation than a non sweet fruit like a raspberry.

Pasteurized milk - In order to absorb the calcium found in milk, you need the phosphatase.  It is naturally found in raw milk, but the pasteurization process destroys it.  As well as Vitamin C.  Most pasteurized milk has Vitamins A & D added to try to make it more nutritious.  However, your body treats synthetic vitamins as a toxin and will not absorb them.

Homogenized milk - The homogenization process forces the milk through extremely small holes at high pressure to break apart the fat molecule.  It leaves the milk, basically, unusable by the body by breaking the milk's cellular structure.  Most store bought ice creams are made with pasteurized and homogenized milk, plus lots of sugar and sometimes even high fructose corn syrup, which means, nada to the bought ice cream.

Raw milk - Yes!  This is a GOOD thing!  Drink away!

Butter - only if it's from raw milk from grass fed, pastured cows.  This butter will have a deep yellow color to it and not the almost off white that is typical of most store bought butters.

Fruit - Many fruits can add to your health. but there is also the possibility of too much of a good thing.  I was allowing my kids to eat lots of fruit.  Often.  I encouraged it!  Thinking it was healthy for them.  Unaware of the blood sugar fluctuations it was causing that was allowing the opportunity to tooth decay.  Fruit is best balanced with a protein rich fat.  For instance, strawberries and cream.  Peaches and cream.  Apples and cheese, etc.  The sugar burst can help calm hunger quickly, while the fats from the healthy proteins will have a longer staying power and energy source for your body.  Avoid sweet fruits when trying to heal cavities.  Particularly oranges, bananas, grapes, peaches, dates, dried fruits.  Having cavities is a sign telling you that your blood sugar is fluctuating TOO much!  Once cavities are healed, some sweet fruits, within reason, is ok.

Sweeteners - Obviously, most sweeteners are no nos.  They raise the blood sugar.  Avoid evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, agave nector, glycerin, brown rice syrup, fake sweeteners, etc.

Protein - I learned in pregnancy that protein helps balance blood sugar.  Eating a high protein diet with adequate amounts of healthy fats, is very important.  Factory farmed meat, eggs, dairy, and even lunchmeats.  Avoid them!  Always use meats that have lived their life the way God intended them to, eating the foods they were designed to eat.  Only then can they provide us with the fullest of nutrients they were meant to give us.

Protein Powders - Consuming the real thing, is always better.  For instance, if whey protein is being used for health and boosting protein intake, simply use real whey.  Not only is it a safer protein source, but it also has probiotic benefits.  Better protein sources for upping protein consumption are eggs, meat, or fish.  Avoid soy as it block iron absorption.

Vegetables - Raw vegetables are difficult to digest, with the exception of lettuce or cucumbers.  Unless you have digestive super powers, eating raw vegetables should be limited.  Raw vegetables also have plant toxins that prevent the body from being able to properly digest them and extract the nutrients.  Prepare them in a way that is easiest to digest.

Grains/Whole Grains - This one was huge for me.  And one I had been doing all wrong.  I was all about whole grains, whole wheat, wheat germ, everything.  And I stayed far, far away from white flour.  Well, turns out that white, unbleached, unenriched white flour may not be so bad after all, but surely, my relationship with whole wheat has contributed to our current dilemma.  Whole grains - Has the same effect on teeth and the body as consuming large quantities of fructose syrup as they contain grain sugars, as well as phytic acid, which again, binds with other minerals preventing the body from being able to absorb them.  The worst of these are oats, bran, and wheat germ.  Avoid sprouted grain breads.  (oops!)  Avoid gluten free grain products.  Avoid breakfast cereals.  Avoid health food bars.  (sad face)  Limit popcorn.  (We love stove top with lots of butter and salt.)  There IS a safe way of eating breads and grains, but it's more than I can get into here, and unless you grind, sift, and sour your own grain, it's honestly just easiest to avoid it altogether.  It is recommended in the book (on page 79) to allow a 2-3 week grain detoxification to let the body recover and find balance.  This requires removing ALL grains, even quinoa and buckwheat, nuts, seeds, and beans.  (yikes!)

Oats - a big no no.  I'm guilty of encouraging my kids to eat oatmeal.  Thinking it was good for them.  And honestly, because I enjoyed being lazy in the morning and not making breakfast.  I've since learned that oats are high in phytic acid and is a contributor to tooth decay.  There is NO safe way to eat commercial oats.  No amount of soaking or cooking will reduce the phytic acid.  Phytic acid binds with other minerals and prevents the body from absorbing them.  Such as calcium, iron, zinc, manesium, Vitamin A and D, etc.  One study showed the children given 1/2 -1 cup of oatmeal per day had  6 new cavities, per child during the trial. (experiment by Dr. Mellenby noted in the book Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. Page 66)

White flour - of all the grains, white flour interferes the LEAST with mineral absorption, therefore tooth remineralization.  IF you choose to use white flour, always use unbleached, unenriched, white flour.  And always consume it with a high fat, protein rich side, like raw milk cheese, or butter.  Soaked and soured in a natural sour dough starter is acceptable.

Beans - This one, I honestly already knew.  I really truly did.  But, I got lazy.  Those darned cans of beans in the store were just so much easier than buying dried beans, soaking them and sprouting them myself.  Beans are extremely high in phytic acid, which in turn, binds with minerals preventing our body from being able to absorb them.  Simply cooking beans only removes a very small portion of the phytic acid.  Soaking is better.  Soaking and then sprouting, is excellent!  Not only does it remove some of the phytic acid, it also turns that dried bean into a living food!  Making our bodies much more capable of digesting the nutrients being offered from it.  This is exactly what we're looking for in our foods.  Easy digestibility and highly nutritious.  Something new to me in the book however, was souring them.  Not a clue what that's all about.  Will have to learn more about it.  Ideally, eat beans with cheese, vitamin D rich foods, or vitamin C rich vegetables or berries.

Breakfast cereals and granola - Grains.  Already mentioned above.  Laced with sugar, "enriched" with vitamins that the body can't absorb.  They are a wasteland.  Avoid them.  They raise blood sugar levels, promoting tooth decay.

Nuts and Nut Butters - Iron absorption blockers, contain the same amount of phytic acid as grains.  Unless you can buy raw nuts and soak and sprout them yourself, avoid them.  You can not buy commercially soaked and sprouted nuts or nut butters.  As well as nut flours.  They too have the same amount of phytic acid (mineral binding).  Consuming them regularly can affect calcium/phosphorus absorption, as well as Vitamin A, D, and C.

Potatoes - We love potatoes.  Especially since we grow them ourselves and store them over winter.  I was disappointed to see them on the limited list, but happy to see that sweet potatoes were the best of the potato family.  White potatoes contain a moderate amount of phytic acid.  They CAN be incorporated in a decay healing diet, in small quantities.  Sweet potatoes contain only small amounts of phytic acid and can be balanced with fats and proteins to off set and block the phytic acid mineral binding.

Tomatoes - As well as goji berries, eggplant, and peppers, contain calcitrol, which can leach calcium from your body.  These foods CAN be eaten in small quantities and only if you are making sure to balance them with high calcium foods.  An imbalance can lead to tooth decay.  If you are struggling with getting the decay under control, this might be a missing link to remove from the diet for an added oomph to your program.

Multi vitamins - I am as guilty as they come at pushing this one.  I have, however, encouraged food based vitamins.  And those are the only ones suggested to be used if ANY are used at all.  Synthetic vitamins are seen as toxins in the body and rushed out as fast as possible.  Evidenced by the strange color or odor of urine after taking a multivitamin.  However, if in extreme deficiency, it's better than nothing.

Soy - Most soy is high in phytic acid, stripping away our calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and even zinc.... and should be avoided.  Soy protein powders, soy isolate, soy milk etc.  Small condiment amounts of fermented soy is ok.  For instance, soy sauce, tempeh, or miso.

Rice - This one surprised me.  Even though brown rice contains more nutrients than white rice, your body is not able to actually absorb more nutrients from it, because of the higher phytic acid levels in brown rice.  Therefore, unbleached, white rice like a white basmati or white jasmine are fine in small quantities on rare occasions.  Be sure to rinse before cooking.

Corn - it's a grain.  Lump it up there with not a good one to eat unless it can be properly prepared.  Modern corn tortillas, chips and meals are high in phytic acid.

So, what does that leave?  Well, let's keep in mind that we are focusing solely on HEALING at this point.  Some of these restrictions can be lightened once healing is no longer the goal, and maintaining is the focus.  But for now, we are healing.  Weston A Price's tooth decay prevention protocol has shown a  90% success rate.  But it is work.  And as a mom, it's My JOB to do these things for my children.  I take my job very seriously.  Can't ya tell?  ;)

Direct quotes from Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel are as follows:

Page 92:
  • Tooth decay is caused by environmental forces such as food; you have complete control over your diet.
  • "Dangerous" bacteria are not the cause of cavities and do not randomly attack innocent victims.
  • Our modern diet is deficient in fat-soluble vitamins and minerals needed for healthy teeth and bones.
  • Tooth decay occurs when your body chemistry falls out of balance and your body sends hormonal signals that tell your teeth to stop remineralizing.  The imbalance is caused by blood sugar spikes and a disruption in your calcium and phosphorous metabolism.  Eating plenty of vegetables, limiting your sugar intake, eating enough proteins and a diet that includes plenty of fat soluble vitamins usually resolves this imbalance.
  • Dentists are surgeons who treat the symptoms of dental disease with surgery.  Dental treatments usually provide only short term results.  Dentistry has never promised to remineralize cavities or to prevent future cavities.

Balanced Tooth Decay Remineralizing Program - Food Intake Suggestions

1/2 teaspoon 2-3 x's a day of Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil by Green Pasture's Products
Raw cheese
quality rich bone broths
raw milk, kefir, whey
high quality animal protein
lots of cooked veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, celery, chard, string beans.
healthy fats with each meal in the form of raw milk, butter, cream
liver twice per week (MAYBE once for us)
Shellfish or other organ meats twice per week (um, yeah, probably not)

We've also been having lots of fresh salads.  Lots of eggs and venison for breakfast.

It's only been 2 weeks, but the kids are much more acceptable of the changes at this point.  The 4 year old even reminds be every day that she need to take her fermented cod liver oil/butter oil.  I mix the two in a small syringe and she chases it with a small amount of raw milk.  And of course they line up with hands out to get their hylands cell salts.  They call them "little marshmallow things". :)  They are small white tabs just like the other hylands products.

The biggest challenge is finding enough of the good foods to keep them happy and interested.  But as we are coming into summer, it will get easier with all of our fresh garden goodies soon to grace our table.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Curing Tooth Decay Naturally

If you're anything like I was a couple of years ago, the very idea that you could CURE tooth decay and not have to undergo the drilling and filling, would be a mind blowing, earth shaking kind of realization.  It was for me!

A year ago my (then) 3 year old had a cavity.  It was the first of any of my 4 children, so I was pretty shocked by that.  Thankfully, it was so minor that there wasn't even a need for any numbing to do the drilling and filling.  (I wish I would have known then what I know now and we would have NEVER done that!)  Since then, I heard about, and started reading the book Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel.

Even still, I hadn't actually put anything into practice.  I was just kind of flirting with the idea that it may be a possibility.  You know, kind of soaking it in, marinating in it, wallowing around in the complete and utter hippiness of the idea.  If you all know me at all, I'm all for alternative medicine.  But THIS!  This seemed just too unbelievable to actually be legitimate at all.  Yet, the more I read, the more valid it seemed, and the more my eyes were opened to this possibility.  There are tons of online resources for this sort of thing. Online group pages, website, forums, etc.

What finally gave me the kick in the pants to really get a move on and start implementing some of what I was learning was our most recent trip to the dentist for cleanings.  Now, my 4 year old had cavities (with an s, as in plural!!!) as well as my 9 year old!  I just about fell out of my chair!  Seriously!  Their teeth LOOK beautiful!  I couldn't SEE anything wrong with them, it's not like they had visible decay or anything and we hadn't actually been doing anything different, so what happened to change their dental health?

Well, I'm still not sure of what the trigger was, and I may never know.  But, I was being given the push that was needed in order to actually start implementing all that I had been absorbing.  Now, it's highly possible that in my attempts to help them heal naturally, that I may fail.  That is always a possibility.  If that's the case, what do I have to lose?  Absolutely nothing!  The outcome would be the same either way.  Don't try and have the dental work done.  Or, do try and possibly have healing...if it doesn't work, we have the dental work done.  It's really that simple.  And I don't really feel I'm out anything at all by giving this a shot!  Yet we have everything to gain.

The idea that clicked for me in all my reading and research was the basic premise that teeth are bones.  They are alive and living.  Just like the bones in the rest of your body.  If it breaks, cracks, gets fractured, it heals.  Right!?  Of course!  We don't just drill into it or rip it out!  Teeth are like that too!  They can heal!  They can remineralize!  Decay can literally reverse!  (or so all the books and websites say)

We are about 2 weeks into this journey and it has been difficult.  Mostly because it's a HUGE change for the kids.  It's tiring.  And it's a long road.  I can't expect results overnight.  One of the first things we did was to add in Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil by Green Pasture's Products.

I've also added in what's called cell salts by Hylands that I ordered from Vitacost or Amazon.  Both Calc Fluor and Calc Phos.  Basically they are forms of calcium that are good for lots of things, but especially for remineralizing bones (and teeth).  Magnesium is another that I'm still working on, as well as probiotics.  For my oldest child, she can just swallow a probiotic, but the younger can't, so it's a bit more challenging.  We had luck sprinkling some on fruit, but I've since learned that since we are in the healing stage, that we shouldn't be eating fruit.  Pretty much none at all.  As it raises the blood sugar levels and prevents healing during that time.

Obviously, sugars are out as well!  We are also grain free and mostly starch free.  Although I have on a couple of occasions had some potatoes or rice.  Yogurt and oatmeal had to go for now too.  Which is huge for us.  We love homemade yogurt!  But even it has sugars from the milk that can cause an environment allowing for bacteria growth in the mouth.  Honey can only be used sparingly, if at all.  I use it in my coffee each day, but just cutting out yogurt that we'd sweeten with honey will be a big help (and I don't have cavities, only 2 of the kids...which aren't drinking coffee with honey ;) ).  Again, it's the blood sugar balance to encourage a stable and healing environment within the body.

Incorporating bone broths and gelatin into the diet has been a task.  I've made my own broths for years, but usually served in a chicken noodle soup and the kids aren't real hip on soup without noodles or crackers.  :/  It's been suggested by others to use the broths in mashed potatoes and when making rice, but since we are virtually starch free at this point as well, it adds even more of a challenge.  Many suggestions are out there of hiding unliked stuff in sweet things, or fruity smoothies, but if really trying to stick to the diet and cut out sweets and grains, then that's not going to work.  It's more important for me to keep the bad out at this point, than to get the good in.  Because getting the good in is going to be pointless if the body isn't able to properly absorb the necessary nutrients due to imbalance.  (This is a thought similar to the idea behind the healing through GAPS diet as well.)

This past weekend I made some tuna salad and put it on some sprouted grain bread for the kids.  A real treat, and a bit off the 'diet', but I don't want to be so rigid as to never allow for leeway.  I figure once a week of veering towards a still healthy snack or food, is ok.  But to stick to the regimen as much as possible.     It was the first bread they'd had in over a week and you would have thought I was giving drugs to an addict!  LOL They inhaled it with the sweet words coming from full mouths of  "Oh man.  This is SO good."  :)  A week ago they would have snarled their noses up at tuna salad.  So I guess it has it's perks.  :)

Since I'm still reading the book and learning, I'll figure out more as we go along.  Like, I've just started making my own toothpaste.  I've never given the kids fluoride toothpaste, and was using a xylitol toothpaste. But I just recently learned about how glycerin in most toothpastes coat the teeth and take numerous washings out of the mouth in order to remove that coating.  Sealing and coating the teeth is one of the last things you want to do when trying to heal them.  You could seal in any of the bad bacteria and allow it to continue doing damage.  The toothpaste is still a work in progress.  The kids hate it.  I tolerate it, and hopefully I can find a recipe we like better.

Other things we've been doing is to mix up a few drops of Thieves Oil with safflower oil, dip their floss in it and use that on the problem teeth.  In hopes for encouraging healing on those places, and killing any bad bacteria.  As well as doing a xylitol swish.  Xylitol is supposed to correct the ph in the mouth to prevent bad bacteria from growing.  There is some controversy over the safety of it being ingested and some of it being from corn.  You can get xylitol made from birch trees, if that's a concern.  Plus, using it as a swish, means spitting it out, so no ingesting, which can cause gut problems.

And finally, I'm being ultra diligent in making sure that teeth are brushed and flossed approximately 20 minutes after eating.  When bacteria amounts are highest.  And I've put a stop to grazing.  The 4 year old loves to graze throughout the day and would eat massive amounts of fruit.  Well, they all would, really, but she was the worst!  We already incorporated raw milk, butter, and cheese into our diet so that wasn't a change, but it was of great importance in the book.

I'll keep you all posted as we go along on this journey and learn more.  But I thought I'd write about our experience so far because I'm sure it will be very interesting to some!  Especially those who were like me just a year or so ago with no idea something like this idea even existed!

Would love to hear your questions, so leave me some!  :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pox Tea and an Herb Infused Massage Oil

I've been taking a Home Herbalist Course and learning more about herbs, how to find them in the wild, and what parts are good to use for different things.  It's been a LOT of fun!

I got the opportunity to put some of my new found knowledge to use this week, as all 4 of my kids have chicken pox!  I was really glad for my slowly growing stock of dried herbs.  Most of them are organic and purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs.  (I have a little banner for Mountain Rose on the right side that you can click on and order from too. ;) )

First, I made up a special tea for them.  My recipe is as follows, then I'll explain why I chose the ingredients that I did.

Pox Tea - by me  :)

1 part elderberries
1 part nettles
1 part catnip
1 part lemon balm

After I steeped it (about 15 minutes), I sprinkled in some Cinnamon Powder and Ginger Root Powder, then served sweetened with a small bit of raw local honey.

I actually made up a glass canning jar of the first 4 ingredients and shared some with a friend, but then added in the cinnamon and ginger as an after thought when I made it up for my 4 year old that was complaining that her tummy hurt.  You certainly could add in the cinnamon and ginger with the other ingredients and then simply scoop out what you need each time for a fresh cup!

I made a lot at a time and they would drink it right away hot, and then throughout the day cold, as I'd make a quart at a time and put the leftovers in the fridge for them for later.

Ok, so why those ingredients?

Elderberries - an immune booster for coughs, colds, flus, and viral infections.  Studies have shown that people who have taken elderberry while ill feel better faster than those who don't.

Nettles - Anti inflammatory effect as well as to enhance immune response.

Catnip - Calming with a mild sedative effect, muscle relaxant that relieves headache, anti pyretic (fever reducer)

Lemon Balm - this one was specifically for the chicken pox virus.  It's known to fight the herpes virus by causing the sores to have a speedier healing, as well as reduced itching and redness.  Lemon Balm does much more, but that was the key reason I chose it for both the tea and the massage oil.

Cinnamon - Soothes upset stomachs

Ginger - Relieves Nausea

Now, for the massage oil.  Recipe, also by me.  :)

I thought it might feel good to have a safe, gentle rub over all those red, itchy blisters.  So I infused some Safflower Oil (because it's high in vitamin E and a lighter/thinner oil than Olive Oil) with some herbs that I thought might feel good and encourage healing.

I didn't measure the oil, I just used what little bit I had left in the bottle.  Maybe somewhere between 1/4 - 1/2 cup, I'm guessing.

1 heaping Tablespoon each of:

Lemon Balm and Catnip (for the same purposes as above)

Minced Garlic - because garlic is an immune booster, smooth muscle relaxer, anti-inflammatory, and helps improve circulation.

A handful of frozen, crushed Mullein Leaf that I'd been given.  Mullein has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.  It also soothes skin irritations when applied to rashes, boils, bruises, and much more.

To infuse the oil, simply add your herbs to the oil and gently warm in a double broiler or on low in a saucepan.  Do NOT boil. Just let it be warm.  For as long as possible.  A couple hours to a half day is good.

Then strain the herbs out.  I just cut a square out of an old t shirt and threw it away when I was done.

Once it's cooled a bit, be sure to squeeze all the excess oil out of the herbs.  That's where the strongest oils will be.

And that's it!  All done!

Put it in something for storage, preferably glass.  :)  Oils infused with garlic should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent going rancid.

Thanks to my Home Herbalist teacher for teaching us how to infuse oils.  :)  It was handy info in perfect timing.