I got laughed at by the lady behind the counter at Target. Well, to be more specific, she was behind the pharmacy counter in target and she laughed at me because I had requested Advil Cold and Sinus for my poor husband – and they were fresh out. Ah, ’tis the season.
But – secretly? Secretly, I was glad they were out because it bothers me when he takes this stuff. If it were here and there, I don’t think I’d care so much but for as long as I’ve known him, he’s been prone to sinus issues. I just kept thinking that there has to be other, more natural ways to treat allergy and sinus problems. And, since we were out of luck at Target, what better time to try natural remedies?
And so, with some research, here is the regimen we’ve been following for the last two days:
- 2 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in a cup of water, 2x per day
- Nettle capsules, 2x per day (available in the homeopathy section of health food stores)
- Herbal tea with nettle leaves and honey, 2x per day
- Eucalyptus steam inhalation*
- One giant batch of my homemade chicken soup, eaten for lunch and dinner (along with kale salads)
(*For the Eucalyptus steam inhalation, you simply boil 4-6 cups of water, put it in a bowl, add 4-5 drops of Eucalyptus oil, then put your face over the bowl and drape a towel over your head. You breathe the steam in for 10 minutes.)
This regimen done 2 days consecutively, along with lots of couch time and an Entourage marathon (don’t ask, it’s what he wanted to watch), and his sinus issues had subsided! He went back to work this morning and on his way out the door said how much better he felt, and how impressed he was because it was the first time he recovered from sinus issues without having to take cold and sinus meds along with squirting Afrin up his nose. There are still small traces of Darth Vader in his voice, but he’s on the up-and-up.
Anyway, it made me think of the different products I’ve stopped purchasing over the years (and now I guess we can add Advil Cold & Sinus as one of them).
We’re conditioned to just go out and by stuff when we need it and, thanks to marketing and advertising, we run on autopilot. But a few questions have come to mind over the years for me, such as: how much of this stuff do we really need? What are all those ingredients I can’t pronounce? And, are there simpler, cheaper, more natural solutions lurking within my reach in my own pantry? Because some of this stuff is a waste of money at best or actually harming us at worst. And guess who doesn’t care? The people profiting from them.
Below are items I’m no longer purchasing (and what I’ve replaced them with instead). But keep in mind this relationship here is a “give and take”, so leave me some of your own recipes (cleaners, health, body, etc.) at the end! Here we go:
I was visiting Asheville, NC (one of my favorite places) and entered a supposedly “natural” body store. The girl was selling body scrubs. “Hold your hand over this sink, and now rub them together,” she said, after dumping a scoop of her expensive scrub into my hands. “There…now rinse them off. Feel your skin – doesn’t it feel amazing?!” She then placed a tub of body scrub in my hands (“all natural!”) with a price tag of $32, and pointed me toward the checkout counter.
Right before I put it back on the shelf and walked out, I took a look at her “all natural” ingredients and found parabens, SLS, and a slew of other synthetic ingredients.
So, I came home and raided my pantry. Three ingredients later (turbanado sugar, coconut oil, and almond oil) and I mixed up my own scrub, and guess what happened when I rubbed my hands together and rinsed them off? Smooth as can be! I keep a jar of this in my shower and, just like that, my skin is naturally scrubbed and hydrated. If you want to make your own, you can read my DIY post, here.
My problem with lotion is that we slather it on our skin, block up our pours with it, and then absorb it into our bodies and bloodstreams. Day after day, year after year. Sure, we’ll smell like mango-kiwi but are we paying a price by filling our bodies with chemicals at the same time?
There are lotions on the market that are a bit more clean and formulated without parabens, but they either still have questionable ingredients or, at least in my experience, smell like total garbage. I don’t know about you but I can’t forgo lotion altogether unless I want to crack into a million pieces and begin a rapid aging process.
So what’s my solution? Again, good ol’ coconut oil. A small spoonful, rubbed into my hands softens my skin (and even gives it a glow). I don’t add anything else, but you can get fancy and mix in essential oils like lavender, or other ingredients if you like. You can even make a whipped coconut oil lotion by using your stand mixer. Pretty friggin’ cool, if you ask me.
I got fed up in the salad dressing aisle because I realized that all the good flavors I liked weren’t truly natural – they were the shady version of ‘natural flavors’, such as the types that come from beaver’s anal secretions (I’m serious) as well as thickeners and other junk. So now I make my own on a weekly basis because, well, it’s super easy, and I also don’t want to eat anything that came from a beaver’s behind.
The BASE of my simple recipe is:
- 2 parts olive oil
- 1 part balsamic
- 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
- fresh juice from 1/2 lemon
- a bit of salt and pepper
You can add other ingredients and play around with flavors based on what you are craving. For example, you can add a handful of dried or fresh herbs, toss in a garlic clove, maybe some flax seeds…the possibilities are endless. Sometimes I use a flavored balsamic, like fig. Magic bullet or whisk it all together, put it in a glass jar and keep it in your fridge for a week, and I guarantee you will fall in love. And eat more salads.
Did any of you guys catch when Julia Roberts said that she hasn’t used toothpaste in years? Yep, that million dollar smile has been maintained with (drum roll please…) baking soda. I’ve been slowly trying to get a good, simple recipe going so I don’t have to keep buying tubes full of sketchy ingredients, and so far what I’ve found is baking soda, coconut oil (yep, again) and peppermint oil. I have all of these ingredients but have yet to try them because I learned that peppermint oil *could* decrease milk supply in nursing mothers. I need to do more research here, but nursing moms, proceed with caution.
Fancy Face Scrubs/Microdermabrasion
What girl doesn’t love a good facial treatment? The problem is that 1) they are expensive, and 2) in order to see true results, you have to keep spending the money. This type of maintenance just doesn’t fit into our budget but I was SUPER psyched when I came across an inexpensive DIY microdermabrasion recipe. It consists of only 3 ingredients (3 INGREDIENTS!), two of which are baking soda and water (BAKING SODA AND WATER!) and has made my skin soft and hydrated. On the downside, you should not use this recipe if pregnant or nursing which means I haven’t been able to touch it in over a year. But as soon as I am able, back to my microderm regimen I go.
Here it is:
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of water
- 3 drops of helichrysum essential oil (available in homeopathy section of the health food store, or online.)
THE HOW-TO: Place all 3 ingredients in a small bowl and mix together with the pads of your fingers. Apply to your face in a circular motion, starting at the forehead and down to the chin and even your neck and chest. Rinse with warm water. Do this twice per week.
I like good herbal teas, but on the day-to-day when I’m home, I make my own concoction. It’s simple, cheap, and has immune-boosting properties. You can find the recipe here.
There are so many other simple solutions and recipes, the possibilities are endless. Ok, so I showed you mine, now you show me yours: what have you replaced? What do you make from scratch? What other recipes do you have for cleaning, healthy living, skin care, etc?