Friday, November 30, 2012

Video - Renewable Energy Systems Examples

If you are curious about creating your own home energy generation system, but think it sounds like a lot of work, there are actually more and more companies like Ontario's Excess Energy, who are experts in setting up the whole system for you and you really won't have to do much - other than watch your electric bills go down! This short video shows a number of examples of homes using solar and/or wind power for all or most of their energy needs, and you will also be able to see what a home energy generation system looks like, and what parts it consists of. It's pretty cool to see how many folks are starting to use these technologies quite feasibly! It gives me hope that our country can become more energy independent as well.

Solar and Wind Power - Renewable Energy Systems
Solar Thermal Energy and Photovoltaic Solar Panel and Wind Turbine systems. Complete Grid-Tie and Off-Grid Battery Backup Systems. Integrating Renewable Energy Systems since 1985 in Ontario Canada. Worldwide Sales of complete package Wind/Solar and B...

Home Energy Generation Resources:
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Creating Efficient Home Energy Generation Systems

When you are tired of paying for your high home energy bill month after month and would like see some changes and feel some savings, there is one thing to do: invest on one or more alternative home energy generation systems.

Home energy generation is the solution if you want to cut down on those bills and utilize the natural energy sources all around you. A home energy generation system will provide you what is essentially home energy freedom. Sure, you have to invest first but for many it is worth every penny. You can spare yourself from the present costs of home energy and the future increases that may occur. And most of all, investing in a home energy generation system will also help the environment through the use of cleaner sources of energy.

Among the types of alternative energy that can be used in the home, wind energy and solar energy are the most common.

English: Schematic diagram of a modern horizon...
Schematic diagram of a modern horizontal-axis, three-bladed wind turbine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Wind Energy

Wind is very abundant in many parts of the country; thus, many households can capitalize on the use of wind as a source of home energy. As the cost of energy production through fuel and oil grows increasingly high, clean, safe and free air appears to be the better choice for the future.

As a main source of power for your home, wind can provide substantial cost savings over the use of energy sourced from the expensive oil. However, wind speed varies on a daily basis. One day, the wind may blow hard all day long. The next day, the wind may not be able to even make your turbine spin. And even in the breeziest places in America, you can never tell when you're going to get a windy day. This is one disadvantage of using wind power, but wind patterns do exist. Assessing the wind patterns in your area can help you determine whether a wind turbine will be a useful source of energy for your household.

If you are planning to install wind turbines on your home, make sure that the local zoning allows wind turbines. You must also ensure that there is a good source of wind on most days. A wide and open space, at least 1 acre, is ideal for wind turbines. But, if you do live in a windy area, and are paying more than $150 on your monthly electric bill, then wind power may be a good option for you.

There are 5 main components of a wind power generation system.

1. The rotor is the set of rotating blades designed to capture the air.  The rotation brings power to the generator.

2. The turbine or the generator is attached to the rotor. It stores the energy that the home will use.

3. The tail is located opposite of the rotor. It tracks the direction of the wind.

4. The tower raises the turbine, rotor and tail up into the air to receive the most amount of wind possible.

5. The governor is the mechanism that controls the production of energy. This is like the transformer you can see on electric posts.

2. Solar Power

English: Solar panel on roof in Mariakerke, Gh...
Solar panel on roof in Mariakerke, Ghent, Belgium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are 6 often-overlooked advantages to installing solar panels on your roof - over other energy generation methods.

1.  Solar panels are lightweight, safe, and usually easy to install.

2.  Roofs are susceptible to UV exposure. The solar panel eliminates this. Your roof will also be protected from weather.

3.  Solar panels contribute to keeping your house well insulated. They provide extra covering and enable you to save as much as 30% on heating expenses.

4.  Drilling holes in your roof to install a wind turbine or other generator is very risky. Interlocking solar panels eliminate this risk.

5.  Solar panel designs can work on almost any roof type and size. In other words, you can get the perfect solar panel no matter what the size and shape of your roof is.

6.  Solar panels are installed without requiring you to modify your roof.

Solar power can help you cut down the cost of your electric bill tremendously. If you live in a sunny climate (even if it's cold), solar power can be an excellent choice for a home energy generation system.
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Monday, November 26, 2012

4 Alternative Home Energy Sources: Then & Now

Home energy consumption is one of the main household expenses today. The fact is, we all need electricity to power our lives. We need the level of civilization that can be provided by electricity. However, most people think that the price they pay is just too much for the amount of electricity they get to consume.

In the true spirit of humanity, we've begun to do what what we always do whenever there’s something that does not completely satisfy us about life: we innovate.

Alternative home energy sources are becoming more popular every year, as prices increase and we become more aware of the impact of fossil fuels on the environment. (Ironically, many of the sources that people think of as "alternative energy" have actually been around even before electricity was discovered.)

Consider these types of alternative home energy:

English: Taken by Neutronic
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1) Wind energy – Nowadays, windmills are often used in homes to run small generators. These generators produce and store electricity to be used in running small home appliances. However, windmills have been around for a long time. If you take a look at the word “windmill” you will realize that this type of alternative home energy device was originally used for a purpose other than producing electricity.

Yes, the windmill was indeed, used to mill grain. As you may well know, grinding grain my hand is very hard work. So in order to make life more convenient and the production of flour more efficient, windmills were used to turn the large grinders.

The wind is a free (and in some places abundant) resource, so I suppose it was inevitable that the windmill evolve into the 21st century to be used as a power source.

2) Solar energy – Many people think of this type of alternative home energy as something that’s technologically advanced. In a sense, harnessing the power of the sun to produce electricity is. But this "alternative" home energy source has already been in use for a long, long time.

Think about this word for a second: clothesline. Aha, you get it now, don’t you? Yes, we have been using solar energy to dry our clothes for God knows how long. Think about that spin dryer or hair dryer you have and think about how much electricity it uses to do a task that the sun has been able to do for years, albeit at a slower pace.

This alternative home energy source is harnessed nowadays for a variety of tasks. Some use it to heat their homes, others use solar power to heat water, and other people use solar cells to power small appliances and save a little on that electricity bill. The efficiency by which we are now able to convert solar power into electricity is of such a degree that it is very possible to power a whole house! It's pretty amazing if you think about it.

3) Hydropower – This type of alternative home energy makes use of water currents in order to turn turbines to run generators. Once again, this is not really a new technology. Like windmills, waterwheels were often used to harness the power of a nearby river in order to grind grain into flour - again, before we had electric pumps or grinders.

4) Biogas – This is another alternative home energy source. Biogas is produced naturally via the decomposition of different biological material. By using biogas instead of the common LPG, home owners can often cut back on their heating bills.

English: Renewable energy sources at Chattleho...
Renewable energy sources at homestead in Chattlehop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As you can see, there are a lot of different types of alternative home energy. Those looking for more environmentally friendly and efficient choices for energy generation may wish to explore these options and discover which type is the best for you to use. We may have used many of these sources in the past, but recent innovations have made them more efficient and cost-effective as sources of electricity.

Unfortunately, some of the methods of harnessing these different alternative home energy types may yet seem impractical to the common homeowner. However, as technology continues to evolve, you can be sure that the use of alternative energy will become more and more efficient.

By using alternative home energy, you accomplish two things: you save on your expenses and you help create a better world. Using these alternative energy sources minimizes the impact on the environment, and by using these sources, in many cases you can harness relatively free energy. Some people may say that the devices used to harness these sources may be too expensive, but in the long run, you’ll end up saving so much more than you spend.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Seven Easy Everyday Planet Saving Tips

Saving the planet, conserving and using sustainable products, has become more than a passing fad.  It has evolved into a way of life.  Being environmentally conscious often also means being financially conscious – it often saves money.  Let’s look at 7 things you can do every day to save the planet.

English: ENVITOTE’s superior design is a styli...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1.  Buy and use reusable shopping bags.  Whenever you go shopping, whether it’s at the grocery store or clothing store, use reusable bags.  You can often purchase these durable cloth bags at your local market or home store but you can also order designer reusable shopping bags online.  You can even make your own.  The cost of a reusable bag bought at the market costs just a few dollars and you’re saving the earth from overfull landfills.  Plastic takes 1,000 years to decompose and paper bags use 14 million trees a year.

#2.  Turn it off.  Whether it’s lights or the water faucet, turn them off when you’re not using them.  Every day we leave the water running while we brush our teeth, wash our face, shave and shampoo our hair.  Turn it off when you’re not using it and save thousands of gallons of water each year.  And if you’re in the habit of leaving the lights on when you leave the room a simple change in habit, turning them off when you leave the room, will save energy and money. 

That goes for your computer too. When you’re not using it, rather than putting it into sleep mode, turn it off.

#3.  Adjust your thermostat.  This is an easy one. Simply lower your thermostat in the winter by 5 degrees and raise your thermostat 5 degrees in the summer and you’ll save both on your electric and gas utility bills, and you’ll save resources.

#4.  Walk when you can.  Walking is great exercise.  It allows you to get valuable fresh air and sunshine and of course walking conserves fuel.  If walking isn’t an option, consider a bicycle.  You can cover the same amount of distance in about half the time and biking is exceptional exercise.  You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to get on a bike, and your bike doesn’t need to be fancy.  They’re making wonderful cruiser bikes which are comfortable and uncomplicated, no gears or disc brakes to worry about, and they’re good for holding baskets which you can fill with groceries or other items.

#5.  Reduce, reuse, and recycle.  We’re not just talking about the basics here.  Yes, it’s great to reuse that bag your last birthday present came in however what about reusing the same water glass throughout the day to save washing as many dishes.  You can also pour the stale water in your pet’s water dish into your plants.  You can use food containers to pack your lunch instead of plastic baggies and plastic wrap.  The options to reduce, reuse and recycle are endless.  Take a look around your home and see where you can conserve.

English: Compact fluorescent light bulb
Compact fluorescent light bulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#6.  When your light bulbs burn out, instead of replacing them with another standard light bulb, replace them with compact fluorescent bulbs.  They’re energy smart and while they cost a touch more than a standard bulb, they last 10 times longer. 

#7.  As you run out of cleaning products in your home, replace them with natural or environmentally friendly cleaning products. Look for biodegradable products and if you’re unsure whether a product is environmentally safe, look for the health warnings.  If it’s warning-free, meaning nothing on the label says toxic, dangerous, warning or any other alarming notation, then you’re probably safe. (For some examples of eco-friendly cleaning products and more, visit

There are hundreds of small steps you can take every day to make the planet we live on a healthier and safer place to be.  Start with these everyday tips, integrate them into your daily routine.  Once they become a habit you can look for new eco-friendly habits to adopt.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

7 Green Ways to Unclog Your Toilet

Plugged toilets are disgusting, messy and a real pain in the neck - and something that we have to deal with more often around the holidays, often with extra family in town.  It’s so very tempting to grab a bottle of liquid drain cleaner and pour it down, hoping the clear the mess without getting your hands, or anything else, dirty. Yet that liquid drain unclogger is incredibly harmful to the environment.  The chemicals leach into our soil and taint our water supply.  Not to fret, there are easy and green ways to unclog your toilet.  Next time it becomes plugged, try one of these eight greener tricks.

English: toilet wc
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1. If you’ve only flushed once and it’s apparent the toilet is plugged, turn the water off at the source so no more water can fill the tank or bowl and flush again.  Nine times out of ten this easy little trick will take care of basic toilet clogs.  Another option, if this doesn’t work, is to tap the backside of the bowl to jostle the clog. 

#2.  If step one doesn’t work then you can resort to the plunger.  Plungers release suction and like a tap to the backside of the bowl it’ll help jostle the clog.

#3.  A good old-fashioned plumber snake will also help drive a hole through the clog.  This may be especially useful with children around, as they have the uncanny ability to throw the strangest things into the toilet. A plumber snake can be purchased for about $15 to $20 dollars at the hardware store.  It’s an easy device to use - simply unwind the device using the reel type handle and let the snake work its way gradually through the clog.

#4.  Hot water.  Provided you have room in the toilet bowl, fill a bucket with very hot tap water and pour it quickly into the bowl.  This works in a number of ways.  The hot water sometimes dissolves enough of the clog to loosen it.  The change in water pressure in the tank may force the clog through, and the motion of pouring the water into the bowl may jostle the clog enough to force it through.

Non-Toxic Drain Cleaning
Non-Toxic Drain Cleaning (Photo credit: Chiot's Run)
#5.  Baking Soda.  Again, assuming the toilet bowl isn’t ready to overflow, pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar into the bowl.  This can also be followed by a gallon of hot or boiling water.  The vinegar and baking soda cause a reaction, remember volcanoes in grade school?  The reaction may work to loosen the clog.

#6. Dish soap.  Another green toilet-unclogging remedy is to pour in a gallon of boiling water and a quarter to one-third cup of dish detergent.  You’ll want to make sure it’s environmentally safe and biodegradable dish detergent for this practice to be environmentally sound.  Dish detergent works to break down the clog, just like it breaks down the dirt on your dishes. You’ll probably need to let it set for a while before the clog breaks free.

#7.  When all else fails it may be time to put on a pair of very long rubber gloves.  Ick, right?  Well it’s better than pouring caustic drain cleaner into our water supply, not to mention the dangerous fumes drain cleaners give off that can pollute the air in your home. 

Unclogging a toilet is no fun and there’s really no way to make it enjoyable, unless you’re a plumber and charging $100/hour - and even then it's probably no picnic.  Fortunately, there are a number of tried and true green ways to unclog a toilet that shouldn't make a mess, for you or the environment.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Importance Of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Ever rush from the bathroom coughing and gasping from the cleaning fumes left behind after you clean the shower or tub?  Those fumes and chemicals aren’t just bad for your lungs, they’re bad for the environment.

Here’s why:

English: Lysol products on a Costco store shelf.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Long-term health effects.  The majority of cleaning products are full of toxins that have lasting health results.  In fact, according to data published by the Western Regional Pollution Prevention Network, six of every 100 janitorial workers injured on the job each year are hurt by the cleaning chemicals they use.

Environmental effects.  Cleaning products, we’re talking about everything from common dish soap used in your kitchen to laundry detergent to floor polish and bathroom milder removers, cause immense amounts of pollution.  Not just when we use these products in our homes but also when these products are manufactured and when they’re transported from the manufacturer to the stores. 

* Chemical-based cleaning products pollute the air with their toxic chemicals. 

* Cleaning products tossed into land fills pollute our soil having a detrimental effect on our plants and animals.

* Cleaning products pollute our water supply when they’re washed down the drain.  They end up in our lakes, rives and oceans having a negative effect on our health as well as the health of nearby wildlife.

* Cleaning products contribute to the depletion of the ozone causing global warming and a loss of resources. 

How to Get Started Using Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Clean out your cupboards.  Get into your cleaning cupboards and pull out anything that is full of chemicals you cannot pronounce.  Set them aside in a box and call your hazardous waste pick up folks to get rid of them. 

Jenin Warehouse Hides Hundreds of Chemical Sub...
(Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces)
Now that your cleaning supplies are down to the bare bones it’s time to find eco-friendly replacements.  Look for cleaning products which are biodegradable and non-toxic.  Rather than try to memorize a list of acceptable ingredients, some of which are still unpronounceable, simply look for danger, poison, or toxic warnings on the label.  If the label is free from those, then you can reasonably assume it’s at least more eco-friendly than most. (Or try our favorite - Earth Friendly Products - they make everything from all-purpose cleaners to laundry detergents to furniture polish, and all of their products are reasonably priced, and contain only naturally sourced ingredients which are safe for you and the planet.)

You can make your own.  Many of the items in your pantry and refrigerator are excellent cleaning products.  You can use these common household items to make home made cleaning products which are not only safe for you and your family but also safe for your environment.  Common safe and effective household cleaning substances include:

* Baking soda
* Club soda
* White distilled vinegar
* Tea tree oil
* Lemon juice

Choosing eco-friendly cleaning products isn’t just good for your health and the health of your family - it's good for the environment.  And these products can also be good for your pocket book, particularly when you make them yourself.  Embrace eco-friendly cleaning products - you’ll be glad you did.

For some more ideas for safe and eco-friendly cleaning products, visit our website at

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Friday, November 16, 2012

How Safe Are Nail Polishes?

The safety of conventional nail polishes has come under scrutiny in recent years. In fact, it's been a matter of concern for some time. If you use nail polish or go into a professional salon, you'll know the strong smell that accompanies it. There's a reason for such strong odors - chemicals.

Nail polish
Nail polish (Photo credit: _windprincess)
While certainly not all chemicals are bad, many of the ones in nail polish are considered potentially toxic to human health. Among the most prominent chemicals in nail polish are formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl-phthalate (DBP).

DBP is what makes nail polish shiny and flexible. It is also added to the nail polish during manufacturing so that it will dissolve other ingredients in the polish. DBP has been linked to hormonal problems in newborn males, including long-term fertility problems. This is probably the most controversial of the three toxic ingredients in nail polish.

Formaldehyde helps harden the polish once on your nails. It is, however, a human carcinogen. In addition, it can cause upper respiratory irritation and a rash on the skin.

Toluene is an ingredient that helps diffuse the pigment through the nail polish. It helps the polish have a smooth, uniform look. Unfortunately, it also can affect the central nervous system. Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue are common symptoms of toluene exposure. Toluene may also affect the reproductive system.

Are There Non-Toxic Nail Polishes?

The good news is, there are alternatives. A good place to start is your local health food store. You can also look online to find out the toxicity of various brands. Here are some of the alternative non-toxic brands available.

* Knocked Up Nails is a nail polish brand that caters to expectant mothers. Because of the concerns over the fertility problems in newborn baby boys from DBP exposure, pregnant women are especially on the lookout for non-toxic polishes.

* SunCoat is a water-based nail polish. The label claims it is free of phthalates, parabens, and odors.

* Sante is a "high-safety" nail polish according to the label. Its label also says - in multiple languages - that it is free of toluene and formaldehyde.

* ManiPure is a non-toxic, vegan and "pregnancy-safe" polish free of the "Big 3" chemicals listed above, as well as camphor, and it also is cruelty-free. It comes in a variety of vibrant and lovely shades.

Remember, too, that a lot of nail products besides just polish contain dubious chemicals. Conventional nail polish removers, for example, contain acetone. Many of the companies listed above offer other natural nail products that are safer. You can have pretty nails, without the toxic chemicals. Check out the brands above, or see those listed below.

A Few Non-Toxic Nail Polish Options:
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review - Benefect Natural Hand Sanitizer

Several recent studies have shown that hot water and soap are the best way to keep your hands clean and to keep you safe from bacteria. But sometimes, especially when traveling, you might need an alternative to soap and water, such as a hand sanitizer. However, most hand sanitizers are pretty harsh on your skin. They contain chemicals and alcohol that kill germs but, at the same time, dry out your skin and might cause irritation.

Benefect Natural Hand Sanitizer is a gentle and non-alcoholic natural sanitizer that kills 99.9% of common bacteria, such as MRSA, Staph, E. coli and Salmonella. This very effective formula contains natural thyme, an anti-bacterial ingredient. Another great fact about this hand sanitizer is that it keeps your skin soft and healthy and should not cause any allergies.

In my opinion, it is always good to carry a hand sanitizer with you in your purse in case you need it, especially when out and about with children. It keeps your family's hands germ-free and therefore keeps bacteria-induced illnesses at bay while traveling.

Where to buy:
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Henna: A Non-Toxic Hair Dye Option

Love to dye your hair but not so happy about the chemicals involved and the possible harm to your hair, health and the environment?  Henna may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. 

Detail shot of Henna (Lawsonia inermis) leaves
Detail shot of Henna (Lawsonia inermis) leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What Is Henna?

Henna is a flowering shrub native to Africa, southern Asia, and northern Australasia.  Henna (Lawsonia inermis), an element found in the leaves, produces a burgundy dye molecule, which bonds with protein quite well and makes a great hair and skin dye. 

There are many myths surrounding henna, including the fact that it comes in a variety of colors.  Any pure henna hair dye will result in some level of reddish tinge.  If the dye says it will give your hair a black or brown color then it most certainly has other chemicals or products in it.  Pure henna can only change your hair to red.

Benefits of Henna

While pure henna can only change your hair to red, other henna-based hair colors can give you the hair color choices you’re looking for. 

Henna is a natural hair dye and most henna-based hair dye products are also all natural and vegetable or plant based.  For example, some other henna products are really mixes of amla, indigo, walnut and rhubarb, with other plant dyes added.  Take great care to read the package to ensure it is 100% natural.  If the product has a developer added then you know it has chemical ingredients. 

Henna isn’t permanent.  No hair color is truly permanent and Henna is no different.  However, it fades much more naturally and gradually.  Chemical dyes can actually change color as they degrade.  Typically, henna dye simply fades. 

Henna also contains other properties, which are said to thicken and strengthen hair as well as add gloss and shine. 

Tips for Using Henna

A painting from the late 1800s showing the art...
A painting from the late 1800s showing the artistic fashion for henna-enhanced hair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Plan ahead and know what color you’re going to get.  Henna cannot be stripped out of your hair and the results are there for a good long time.  They’ll fade over time but to get rid of the color entirely you’ll have to cut it out.

Don’t use henna hair dye if you’ve recently used chemicals on your hair, i.e. chemical hair dye, perms or relaxants.

The henna hair dying process takes a long time - some recommend sleeping with the clay-like mask on your head, so make sure you have time to devote to doing it right.

When it comes to natural hair dye, henna is a tried and true method people have been using for thousands of years.  It’s all natural so it doesn’t harm your health, your hair, or the environment.  Make sure you’re using a pure henna product or a vegetable-based hair dye, and for best results make sure you’re not expecting a drastic change.  Even with henna, you’re going to have to live with the results. 

All-Natural Henna Hair Dye Options:
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Video - Natural Remedies to Recover from Cold & Flu Quickly

This short video offers a list and descriptions of several helpful supplements to supercharge your immune system and help you recover quickly from cold, flu, or whatever is ailing you.  I don't know that you'll recover in one day, but using all of these should definitely help cut the duration of your illness at least in half!

Be sure to consult with your naturopathic doctor when starting any new supplementation regimen, so you can make sure you are taking what you need, and avoiding anything that may be harmful to you - for example, some people are allergic to echinacea.

Sore Throat? Flu? Sick? Try Natural Remedies For A Fast Recovery - Last week I had a sore throat and in this video I share which natural remedies I took that helped me recover in one day. Natural remedies work by giving the body the nutrition and energy it needs to build the immune system t...

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More Natural Flu Remedies

Every year the flu season comes and goes.  Many hold their breath and hope they don’t get it while others choose inoculation.  Unfortunately, inoculation and hope don’t always protect us from getting the flu.  And if you do get the flu, it can knock you down for up to two weeks.  The good news is that there are several tried and true natural flu remedies.  Let’s take a look at a few of them:

English: Main symptoms of influenza. (See Wiki...
Main symptoms of influenza. References Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hydrogen Peroxide

Some studies have shown that the flu virus enters the body through the ear canals.  If you’re able to catch your symptoms within the first few hours, try placing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear every few hours.  The peroxide kills the virus before it has the opportunity to multiply and really take hold.  You may still have flu symptoms for a few days however, that’s much better than the standard two-week recovery period. (I use this regularly anytime I feel like I'm getting sick, and usually I'm better with 3 days or so - not sure if it's due to this remedy or not, but it's a nice change from 1-2 weeks down!) And a bottle of peroxide is pennies compared to flu shots or even most over the counter medications (which only treat symptoms - not the flu itself).

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver, a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver, is used as a natural antibiotic and antiviral.  Practitioners believe it has the ability to essentially eliminate an enzyme that bacteria and viruses need to survive in your body.  Like hydrogen peroxide, the best time to use colloidal silver is right when you first notice flu-like symptoms. 


Elderberry, an antioxidant, is commonly used to boost immunity however, studies also show it may work as an antiviral.  This means during flu season elderberry supplements, such as elderberry juice, syrup or capsules, may be able to help you avoid the flu and if you do catch the flu, elderberry may help shorten your recovery time. 

Oscillococcinum, the same just rolls off the L...
Oscillococcinum. (Photo credit: Paul Jacobson)

Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic product that's manufactured in France and sold in health food stores around the world – particularly during flu season.  Homeopathic comes from the principle that “like cures like." Oscillococcinum is made from extremely diluted parts of the hearts and livers of ducks, which are believed to be particularly vulnerable to influenza viruses. Oscillococcinum is used to shorten the duration of the flu once you’ve caught it - it does not prevent the flu. 


Echinacea, an herbal remedy most often used to prevent and treat colds and flu, has been shown to shorten the duration for flu sufferers.  There are many types of Echinacea, but the leaves, flowers, stems and roots of Echinacea purpurea seem to have the most effect.  It’s typically recommended to take Echinacea, usually in capsule form, every two to three hours immediately after recognizing symptoms.   See Monday's post for more on Echinacea.

North American Ginseng

 “North American ginseng" is a popular natural flu remedy used to shorten the duration of the flu.  However, Ginseng also comes with some serious potential side effects including negative interactions with many pharmaceuticals, estrogenic properties, which can complicate hormone related conditions and other symptoms, and side effects that may cause heart complications among other things.

With any herbs, it’s important to check with your doctor to make sure there aren’t any adverse reactions with any medications you may be on.  Having the flu is one of the most miserable experiences, so it’s nice to know there are so many natural flu remedies available to lessen the symptoms and help you recover as quickly as possible. Keep an eye on this blog throughout cold and flu season for more tips for boosting your immune system and maximizing your health this winter!

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Enhancing Your Immune System with Echinacea

As the cold and flu season approaches and media tries to find a new flu virus to promote drugs for, you may be wondering what you can do to improve your immune system naturally.  After all, no one wants to get sick.  The good news is that there are very simple and natural things you can do to start enhancing your immune system right now.

One of the best ways is to take Echinacea.  In fact, according to a study reported on, a 2006 study found that the likelihood of experiencing a clinical cold was 55% higher with placebo than with Echinacea.  Here are some tips on using one of nature’s finest additions to your medicine cabinet.

Echinacea purpurea 'Maxima'
Echinacea purpurea 'Maxima' (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1.  Forms of Echinacea 

Echinacea is a relative of the common coneflower.  Echinacea purpurea herb is considered to be the most potent Echinacea species.  They’re actually quite pretty and can be grown in your home garden.  However, eating the flower isn’t going to give you the immune-boosting effects you need.  It is the root of this plant which is said to hold the powerful properties. 

You can take Echinacea in the form of:

* Tea
* Juice
* Extracts
* Capsule or powder, supplement form

You may also find Echinacea as part of an immune booster supplement

#2.  Be aware of its limitations and side effects

Not everyone can take Echinacea, however.  Some people can be allergic and suffer side effects.  This is particularly the case if you’re allergic to ragweed, marigolds and daisies, and chrysanthemums.  These side effects and complications can include:

* Rash
* Asthma
* Anaphylaxis
* Gastrointestinal side effects

Day 360 - Let's hope these really work...
(Photo credit: ktpupp)
#3.  Make it part of a routine - but not TOO routine

To take Echinacea, you might think you should include it in your daily vitamin routine. If you feel a cold coming on and rush to drink Echinacea tea, sometimes it may be too late.  However, it is not recommended to take Echinacea daily indefinitely. Instead, first make sure the supplement is safe for use for you - speak with your doctor if you’re unsure, and then find a form that appeals to you. It may be that you absolutely love the tea or perhaps a simple supplemental capsule better meets your needs.

Try taking it every month just for a few days in a row, during cold and flu season. And of course take it right away at the first sign of feeling something coming on. Sometimes you might not always recognize these signs, so pay attention for times when you feel tired or lethargic for no apparent reason, or notice mild symptoms like a dry throat or night-time congestion, and give your immune system an extra boost at these times with a few days of Echinacea.

Echinacea is an herb that is still being studied for its immune-boosting properties.  In the struggle to stay healthy and cold free this winter, it may be the best natural weapon you have.  Take precautions, plan ahead and stay healthy!
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Friday, November 2, 2012

Video - Juicing Organic Vegetables for Detoxification

This short video demonstrates how easy it is to make a delicious and nutritious juice drink for detox purposes. She also explains why it's extremely important to use organic vegetables for your detox diet, and discusses how to choose fruits and vegetables (and other foods) that minimize acidity and increase your alkalinity to release more toxins and help you lose weight more effectively.

Detox Weight Loss Diet: Organic Juicing for Alkalinity
Juice a delicious alkalinizing beverage with Dashama.

Learn More About Alkalinity, Health & Weight Loss: