Category Archives: vitamin d

Natural Solutions for Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

Otitis Media – the common ear infection – is the most common reason parents schedule doctor appointments for children. Ear infections are incredibly painful and can lead to hearing issues, yet research has proven antibiotics are ineffective. There are a Picture of baby with ear infectionvariety of alternative approaches that are known to be very effective.

When discussing ear infections, it is important to recognize they typically involve biofilms. Biofilms are a complex matrix of bacteria that may also include fungal and viral cells. The various cells in an ear infection create a strong matrix, called a “biofilm,” to protect them from antibiotics. The antibiotic resistance often develops before the child feels pain or realizes there’s a problem.

One important thing to remember about ear infections is that the human body is perfectly capable of healing them without intervention if the person’s immune system is functioning as it should. One of the primary ways of resolving ear infections is to help protect your immunity by eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, etc. However, there are times when medical intervention should definitely be sought.

If a child’s fever is extremely high (above 102F degrees), if the pain is intense or if symptoms last longer than three days, seek medical treatment immediately.

If an ear infection does develop, the following are known to help:

  • Eliminate sugar from the diet. I realize that may be tough, but sugar depresses immunity and makes it difficult for the child’s body to use its natural defenses to battle the infection.
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  • Use herbal ear drops. Commercial herbal ear drops typically contain Garlic, Goldenseal and perhaps Mullein infused into oil. The oil is gently warmed and 2-5 drops are put in each ear every 2-4 hours. The oil feels good and diminishes pain, but the antibiotic/antiviral/antifungal properties of the herbs actually penetrate (soak through) the ear drum to reach the infection on the other side. I find the combination of Garlic and Goldenseal to be far more effective than garlic and mullein. I like this one: http://amzn.to/1NpuXmw.
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    NEVER use ear drops if the ear drum has ruptured. Seek immediate medical attention.
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  • Use other naturally antibacterial ear drops. There are a wide variety of ear drops available which contain ingredients known to be naturally antibacterial and antiviral. One of my favorites contains Grapefruit Seed Extract and a tiny bit of Tea Tree Oil blended into a soothing amount of Glycerin. You can view them here: NutriBiotics Ear Drops.
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  • Consider homeopathic remedies. There are a variety of homeopathic remedies for ear aches. When using homeopathics, remember that nothing should be eaten ten minutes before or after taking them orally, and that mint products should be avoided for an hour. Homeopathic ear drops can be alternated with other ear drops being used. One advantage of homeopathics is that they do not interact with prescription medications and do not cause side effects when used as directed.
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  • Use colloidal silver drops. Colloidal silver drops can be placed in the ear canal every 2-4 hours. Similar to the ear drops described above, colloidal silver is known to be soothing and to stimulate the body to heal itself. For more information on colloidal silver, please read: Common Uses for Colloidal Silver.
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  • Use a probiotic and/or fermented foods other than yogurt. Probiotics help the Peyers Patches in the gut boost immunity. Probiotics also help maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. Since 70% of immunity resides in the gut, it makes sense to care for it! I recommend using a probiotic specifically designed for children, such as the ones made by Udo’s Choice, Renew Life or Garden of Life. Fermented veggies are also a great way of gaining beneficial bacteria. Serve some with every meal or serve water kefir between meals.
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  • Use immune boosters.  During an active infection, the body will respond well and be able to fight infection better if immunity boosters are consumed. Eating a lot of garlic, onions and turmeric is a great place to start. Taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D or Monolaurin are also known to boost the body’s ability to fight infection.
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  • Eliminate dairy. If a child has recurring ear infections, try eliminating dairy for one month. Many parents find ear infections miraculously stop occurring when dairy is eliminated. Wheat or other food allergies may also be a culprit, but dairy is the most common.
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  • Use a rice bag:  Applying a bit of warmth to the affected ear is a very effective way to bring soothing relief from the pain. The simplest way to create a heating pad is to pour uncooked rice into a clean cotton sock, tie the top, and then microwave the sock in 20-second bursts until it is warm to the touch but not hot. Lay the sock over the ear, repeat as needed. (For the record, this is the only time I advocate the use of a microwave.)
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  • Seek medical intervention when needed. There are times an antibiotic may be needed. If symptoms or fever remain for more than three days, if the fever is extremely high or if pain is intense, seek treatment immediately.

What’s your favorite ear ache remedy?

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Williams

Natural Sunscreen Recipe

I have received many requests to share a natural sunscreen recipe. I developed this recipe several years ago because I wanted to be able to protect myself from sunburn without exposing myself to the harmful chemicals found in most OTC sunscreens. I have found it to be very effective. Please note you may need to apply it more frequently than other sunscreens.

This time of year, it’s not uncommon to hear many frightening warnings about the “dangers of sun exposure.” These warnings make me cringe. The truth is that sun exposure is very beneficial to our health. Severe sunburn is not. Recent research found skin cancer is not caused by simple sun Sunshineexposure but is caused by severe sunburn. In addition, several studies found the most common ingredients in OTC sunscreens actually CAUSE skin cancer. Even newer research discovered sun exposure (without sunscreen) increases the levels of nitric oxide in our system. Nitric oxide is known to lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Please read Shining Light on the Truth About Sun Exposure for more information about the necessity of sun exposure.

What’s the solution? Here are my tips for allowing sun exposure to improve health:

  1. Get 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure every day. After you have a good base tan, it’s fine to spend longer periods of time in the sun as long as you do not burn.
  2. Use a natural sunscreen. See links at the end of this article to a few pre-made versions I really like.
  3. Keep a close eye on how much sun you’ve gotten. If you think you’re in danger of burning, take time to put on more clothing or to apply a natural sunscreen.

My sunscreen recipe follows. This is easy to make and has ingredients which are easy to find. I included links to make it easier to find the ingredients. Each of the oils used has a natural SPF ranging from 6-30. I added zinc oxide powder to the recipe to provide added protection. This sunscreen is very effective, but may need to be applied more frequently. You can feel free to add a few drops of essential oil to add fragrance if you like.

Good Works Wellness Natural Sunscreen Recipe

Ingredients:

o 1/2 cup beeswax pastilles
o 1/2 cup unrefined shea butter
o 1/2 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil
o 3/4 cup combination of organic hempseed, macadamia nut or wheat germ oil(s)*
o 5 tablespoons zinc oxide powder
o Optional: 1/2 tablespoon essential oil

*You may use a single oil or a combination of oils to total 3/4 cup. Note you can make the natural sunscreen thinner by adding more liquid oil or thicker by adding less.

Instructions:

Gently melt the beeswax over a double boiler, then whisk in the other oils until all oils and butters are melted. Gradually stir in the zinc oxide powder and blend until well blended. Add essential oils after that if desired. This is best stored in a glass container.

Pre-Made Natural Sunscreens

If you don’t have time to make your own sunscreen, I recommend the following, some of which are water-resistant:

Photo Courtesy of Rhys Asplundh

References:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/29/sun-exposure-vitamin-d-production-benefits.aspx

Benefits of Moderate Sun Exposure, Harvard University

Scientists Say Benefits of Sun Exposure Far Outweigh Risks

Top 11 Reasons I Refuse to Get a Flu Shot

I recently heard an extremely ill woman comment she couldn’t figure out why she was so sick. She went on to say she had gotten a flu shot, and obviously believed that should have protected her. My research has led me to conclude otherwise. I need to confess this article is extremely long. I felt the importance of the information warranted a longer format.

I want to state very clearly that getting vaccinated is a very personal choice. I support everyone who chooses to get the vaccination, and encourage those who are undecided to do further research. I am not “anti-vaccine,” I am simply pro-research.

I am one of the people mainstream medicine insists “must” have a flu shot. I’m considered “high risk” Flu Vaccine Syringebecause I have Type 1 Diabetes and have multiple other auto-immune conditions. I do not get flu shots and never get sick. In fact, I spent the last five years working in environments where I was exposed every day to multiple people who had active flu infections. In spite of that, I never became infected and never had so much as a sniffle. Unfortunately, mainstream media and mainstream medicine use a wide variety of scare tactics to convince people they will become sick if they are not vaccinated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Following are my top eleven reasons for not getting a flu shot:

  1. Infection is based on lifestyle, not exposure: The belief that everyone who gets exposed to the flu becomes ill is outdated and untrue. If it were true that exposure causes illness, none of us could enter a public place without becoming ill. The truth is that our lifestyle and our body’s environment are what determine whether or not we get sick. This is why my teenagers got sick in 2008 with a nasty case of the flu, but neither my husband nor I became ill while caring for them. Their lifestyle and high-sugar eating habits lowered their body’s ability to fight the flu, while ours provided natural immunity.
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  2. Low probability of correct strains used in vaccine: There are close to 300 different strains of flu, yet each year the CDC chooses 3-5 strains of Influenza Type A and 1-2 of Influenza Type B to include in the flu vaccine. They use scientific methods to try and predict which strains will be the most prevalent each year, but they are often wrong. Additionally, flu strains constantly adapt and mutate. This means the likelihood of the CDC choosing the correct strains is less than 5%. The CDC admits: “In some years when vaccine and circulating strains were not well-matched, no vaccine effectiveness can be demonstrated in some studies, even in healthy adults. It is not possible in advance of the influenza season to predict how well the vaccine and circulating strains will be matched, and how that match may affect the degree of vaccine effectiveness.”
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  3. Those who were vaccinated have higher infection rates than those who were not: More than seven studies proved flu shots do not reduce infection rates and may actually increase them. Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in Canada , shared findings proving increased infection rates were consistently found for two years following vaccination in both humans and ferrets who received flu vaccines. These findings were true across seven different studies done on flu vaccines for 2008 and 2009. The findings agreed with statistical comparisons of over 30,000 people. The vaccines used in 2008 and 2009 are very similar to those being used today. (Ferrets are used in influenza studies because their physiology most closely mimics that of humans’ in influenza infections.)
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    It also needs to be pointed out that pediatric deaths due to flu were dropping prior to 2003. The decrease in deaths can be attributed to improved health conditions, better nutrition programs in schools and preschools, and other lifestyle improvements. Pediatric deaths caused by flu skyrocketed after the CDC insisted that all children older than six months of age receive a flu shot. The increase in death and infection rates following the CDC’s mandate is not coincidental and is too large to be ignored.
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  4. Zero science to support effectiveness of flu shots: A review of 5707 articles and 31 studies found little evidence to prove that flu vaccines actually reduce infection rates. The researchers also found that although the vaccines provided “moderate” protection some years, they provided little or no protection other years. The researchers also found that flu vaccines offer zero protection for anyone over age 65 or younger than age 7. Another group, the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group, studied 41 clinical studies and concluded the data showed flu vaccines provide zero reduction in infection or death across all age groups. The Cochrane group also studied 260,000 children between the ages of 23 months and six years and found the flu vaccine to be no more effective than a placebo at preventing illness. In 2009, many providences in Canada stopped recommending flu vaccines for anyone under 65 years of age. Their infection rates have not increased.
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    Commenting on other studies proving the ineffectiveness of flu shots, Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and Director of the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance said, “We have overpromoted and overhyped this vaccine … It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”
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  5. Most illnesses called the “flu” actually are not: Researchers found that only 6-8% of illnesses called “flu” were actually caused by a true flu virus. The other illnesses were caused by other viruses or bacteria, none of which would be included in a flu vaccine. Additionally, the CDC drastically increases their statistics by making the assumption that all deaths caused by pneumonia originated with a flu infection. This is simply not true. Although having the flu can increase the likelihood of a pneumonia infection in anyone with a compromised immune system, pneumonia is a bacterial infection and flu is a viral infection. Not all cases of pneumonia are caused by the flu, which means the CDC’s statistics are grossly inflated and are designed to create fear.
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  6. The “Original Antigenic Sin” Argument: This term refers to the fact that a vaccine only protects you against specific illness strains, whereas catching an illness provides immunity against that illness and against multiple others with similar chemical structures. In other words, if you get a flu shot which claims to protect you against Strains A and B, that’s all you have protection against. If you catch Strain A, you wind up with immunity against Strain A and potentially against hundreds of other flu strains which contain similar proteins. This may be why flu vaccines are virtually worthless for anyone over age 65. They have already been infected with and exposed to enough flu strains that they have naturally occurring immunity against a wide array of flu strains.
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  7. Flu vaccines suppress the immune system: The ingredients in flu vaccines stimulate the immune system to combat a few strains of flu, yet suppress it against all other viral and bacterial invaders. This is why so many people get sick with colds and other illnesses shortly after receiving the flu vaccine. Based on the other evidence shared in this post, it makes little sense to lower the body’s overall ability to fight infection by receiving a flu shot.
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  8. Increased risk of cardiac problems and oxidized cholesterol: A 2007 study found that flu vaccines cause an inflammatory response that increases the risk of cardiac problems and which also causes oxidation of the low density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol). The oxidation of LDL cholesterol means that the very small cholesterol molecules capable of passing through vessel walls become oxidized, or hardened, in arteries, which directly contributes to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other coronary disorders. This potentially deadly effect only lasts for a maximum of fourteen days, but needs to be considered by anyone having a pre-existing cardiac condition. The inflammation can also cause a condition called “Arteritis,” in which the walls of large arteries become inflamed. Depending on the body region affected, arteritis may cause visual disturbances, headaches, jaw pain, and more. A study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that pregnant women are especially susceptible to the inflammatory effects of flu vaccines and that receiving a flu vaccine led to higher rates of pre-eclampsia, spontaneous abortion, and increased complications following birth.
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  9. Toxic ingredients: Most flu vaccines contain one or all of the following –
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    –  Mercury (Thimerosol): Thimerosol is a common preservative used in vaccines. Most flu vaccines contain enough mercury from Thimerosol to be deemed toxic by the EPA if they are taken by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Because mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, this information should be regarded with concern by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Note: There are a few vials of vaccines made without Thimerosol, but they are typically saved for children and pregnant women. You have the right to request them, and definitely should if you weigh less than 265 pounds, are pregnant, or are having your child vaccinated.
    –  Adjutants: Adjutants are ingredients added to vaccines which serve to stimulate the immune system. The most common adjutant used in flu vaccines is Aluminum, a heavy metal which is associated with many neurological illnesses. Primary among the neurological illnesses associated with aluminum toxicity is Alzheimer’s.
    –  Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. When combined with aluminum (as it is in the flu vaccine and many the vaccinations), formaldehyde is known to increase the likelihood of neurological damage.
    –  Eggs: Although not directly a toxin, all flu vaccines are grown on cultures from chicken eggs. This means the vaccines could be deadly to anyone having a severe allergy to eggs. Please be aware of this. The incidence of severe allergic reactions to flu vaccines is rising at an alarming rate, largely because many of the people administrating vaccines are not trained in their side effects and are not in a facility equipped to deal with anaphylactic shock. If you choose to get a flu shot, please get it in your doctor’s office and not in your local grocery store.
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  10. Negative reactions: Flu vaccines are known to cause the following reactions, some of which are deadly and some of which can cause permanent disability: injection site reaction, fever, convulsions (especially in children), narcolepsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe paralytic auto-immune neurological condition which can result in permanent disability), allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock, increased risk of heart attack, encephalitis, neurological disorders, thrombocytopenia (a blood disorder causing low platelet counts, fatigue and potential blood loss from bruising or internal hemorrhage), and more..
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  11. Studies found Vitamin D more effective than flu shots: There is a good reason the flu only occurs during the winter months. Even in tropical climates, flu rates increase during the rainy season. The common factor? Sun exposure. Unprotected exposure to sunlight stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D. Studies conducted by John Cannell and associates found a direct connection between Vitamin D deficiencies and increased respiratory illnesses in adults and children. The studies also found that as little as 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis could prevent the flu and other respiratory illnesses 500% more effectively than flu vaccines. Another study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Vitamin D deficiency caused higher infection rates of flu and other respiratory illnesses. Per Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, “The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu.” Vitamin D stimulates the body to produce over 300 different antimicrobial peptides which help the body combat viral and bacterial infection. My personal recommendation is that anyone living in a cold climate should take a minimum of 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis and should get their blood serum levels checked at least once each year. Ideal blood serum levels should be maintained between 50-80 nmol/L.
What are your thoughts about getting a flu shot? My next post will focus on effective ways to protect yourself from the flu. Please feel free to share your opinions below.
References:
 
 
Does the Vaccine Matter? – The Atlantic
 
 
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness – Centers for Disease Control
On the Epidemiology of Influenza – Journal of Virology

The vitamin D-antimicrobial peptide pathway and its role in protection against infection – Linus Pauling Institute


Twenty Surprising Facts About Vitamin D

Vitamin DThe following facts about Vitamin D may surprise you:

  • Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. (This post refers to it as a “vitamin” because that is the common terminology used.)
  • Vitamin D is a powerful anti-inflammatory
  • 90-95% of Vitamin D is produced by the skin through sun exposure
  • The natural form of Vitamin D the skin produces is Vitamin D3 
  • The Vitamin D that is added to milk and other products is Vitamin D2, which is not well absorbed
  • Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body stores it 
  • Experts estimate that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D regulates more than 200 genes in the body
  • Grass fed beef contains Vitamin D3; mainstream beef does not
  • Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster
  • Studies proved 2000 IU/day is more effective than flu shots at preventing the flu
  • Vitamin D is known to protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, and over 800 different cancers
  • It is very difficult to get adequate D3 through the diet
  • Ten to thirty minutes of unprotected sun exposure is the best way to boost levels
  • Pregnant women need twice as much Vitamin D as other people
  • Dark-skinned people typically do not produce Vitamin D well and are often deficient
  • The best test to check Vitamin D levels is the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test
  • The 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D blood test is very inaccurate and may return false levels if D levels are low
  • The ideal range of D in the blood is 50-75 nmol/L. Higher and lower amounts may cause or worsen health challenges.
  • Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been connected to depression, inflammatory conditions, cancer, fatigue, digestive disorders, metabolic disorders, weight gain, headaches, bladder disorders, and much more

Do you take Vitamin D? I generally recommend starting with 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. Check your blood levels every three months, adjusting the dose as needed. The goal level of Vitamin D should be 50-75 nmol/L.

If you do not have a doctor, you can order a home test kit at: Vitamin D Home Test Kit

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Natural Approaches to West Nile Virus

Picture of a mosquito biting a human

The recent rise of West Nile Virus has raised concerns about ways to prevent the spread the virus. West Nile Virus can become a severe illness in a very small percent of the population. The majority of us have nothing to worry about. The best defense against West Nile Virus is controlling mosquito populations in your neighborhood and ensuring your immune system is functioning at full capacity.

Please note: West Nile Virus is a very serious illness. Anyone with symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. The information in this post is shared for educational purposes only. The information in this post has not been reviewed by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness. It is also not intended to replace the medical advice received from your physician.

Facts About West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is reported to be a virus that is typically found in birds. The virus spreads to humans when a mosquito stings an infected bird and then stings a human. Although the virus is listed as a “severe illness” by the CDC and mainstream media, the fact is that less than 1% of those who are bitten by an infected mosquito develop severe symptoms. Children are reported to be the least likely to be infected. The population most at risk are adults over 50 who have pre-existing conditions which compromise their immunity.

Per the CDC, “No reliable estimates are available for the number of cases of West Nile encephalitis that occur worldwide.” The CDC also acknowledges that there is a broad variance in the data reported about the prevalence of West Nile Virus in areas where it is tracked. This raises questions about whether or not many cases listed as West Nile Virus truly are. Many people believe the severity and frequency of the virus are being exaggerated to support the spraying of dangerous chemicals. I encourage everyone research and draw your own conclusions. I also encourage you to take measures to protect yourself from the sprayed chemicals, as most of the insecticides being sprayed are known carcinogens and/or are known to impair liver and endocrine function.

Good News About West Nile Virus

It is important to note the following very positive facts about West Nile Virus:

  • Most people bitten by an infected mosquito never notice any symptoms. Their body very naturally combats the virus and they never contract a full-blown case.
  • A smaller number of people, typically those with slightly weaker immune systems, experience very mild flu symptoms. These symptoms include headache, sore joints, mild fever, etc.
  • Less than 1% of people – typically those with extremely compromised immunity – experience the most severe symptoms of West Nile Virus. These symptoms are very similar to those of encephalitis and include brain inflammation with headache, fever, muscle weakness, stiffness, confusion and sometimes convulsions. Only 5% of the one percent that may contract these severe symptoms experience long-term complications or death from the virus. (This equates to 0.05% of those infected.)

Protective Measures Against West Nile Virus

The most obvious way to protect yourself and your loved ones from West Nile Virus is to ensure there is no standing water in or near your home. The most common carrier of West Nile Virus, female Culex mosquitoes, typically do not travel more than 440 yards (one quarter mile) from where they hatch. Although they may travel further, your best defense is to focus on controlling stagnant water in your neighborhood. If you have a water source you cannot eliminate, I recommend using Bt bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis), a non-chemical insecticide. This insecticide is used heavily in third world countries and has no known harmful effects to humans and other mammals even in very high doses. Most garden supply stores carry it.

The other option for reducing your risk of serious infection is to ensure your immune system is working at full capacity. The most effective way to boost immunity is to limit sugar and to eat a clean diet consisting of organic whole foods and no artificial food additives. Drinking adequate water, getting plenty of sleep and engaging in exercise are also known methods of improving immunity. If you wish to take a supplement to boost immunity, I recommend the following three for adults. Dosages must be adjusted for children:

The final option for protection is to use insecticidal sprays. The CDC has acknowledged that the essential oil Lemon Eucalyptus is equally effective as DEET when applied frequently. I recommend using natural sprays for protection, but you must realize these sprays must be applied more frequently to be effective. Very simple spray-on protection can be made using the recipe that follows:

Natural Mosquito Repellent Recipe

Blend all ingredients well and allow to “meld” for at least 48 hours. To use, shake well and spray onto skin and clothing. Re-apply frequently. Avoid spraying into eyes or mouth.

Other home remedies that can help include eating lots of garlic and taking Vitamin B1 on a daily basis. For maximum protection, dress in long sleeves and pants and avoid going out at dawn and dusk.

What are your favorite mosquito repellents? What are your thoughts on media coverage of West Nile Virus? (Let’s keep comments positive, please.) I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Image courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some links in this post are affiliate links

Stop the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder NOW

You know it’s coming … that time of year when you just feel down, have no energy, and would be perfectly happy Seasonal Affective Disorderhibernating until spring. The winter blues aren’t just in your head, they are a true physical condition referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). SAD can affect anyone in cold climates, although senior citizens and children tend to have it less frequently.

Note: Depression is a serious condition. If you experience depression that interferes with your daily life, please seek professional help and do not try to treat yourself. Please discuss any new therapy or supplement with your practitioner before starting. Please also be aware that none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness.

Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, research indicates that the lack of sunshine during the dark days of winter can cause:

  • Decreases in Vitamin D levels in the body: Low Vitamin D levels are known to contribute to depression and lack of energy
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  • Interference with circadian rhythms: Our body is designed to awaken when the sun goes up and to go to sleep when the sun goes down. The short days of winter interfere with these patterns, which appears to decrease the production of Serotonin, a “feel good” hormone.
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  • Reduced Melatonin levels: Decreased sunlight exposure seems to reduce the production of Melatonin in the brain. This can, in turn, lead to depression and sleep problems.
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  • Decreased physical activity: Most people aren’t as active in the winter as they are in the summer. Because exercise increases serotonin levels, a decrease in physical activity can negatively impact mood.

So how do you combat the effects caused by winter’s dark and gloomy days? Any of the following may help:

  • Use of a full-spectrum light bulb: Spending 10-20 minutes per day sitting in front a full-spectrum light bulb can help stimulate the body to produce Vitamin D and other chemicals essential to a good mood. Most health food stores sell full-spectrum light bulbs, or complete lamp sets and floor lamps can be purchased. I like the lamp set sold by Lights of America: http://amzn.to/ou0Q1a.
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  • Take a Vitamin D supplement: The typical recommended dosage of daily Vitamin D during the winter is 2000 IU/day, although levels of 5000-10,000 IU can usually be taken safely. I recommend asking your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels the next time you have blood work done. Although the test results will indicate that anything above 25 is “normal,” most people do not feel well unless their levels are between 50-75. (I give you permission to argue with your doctor on what the optimal levels are if s/he thinks a lower level is acceptable. The 50-75 level is associated with lower inflammation in the body and with lower cancer rates.) Also be aware that taking 2000 IU/day of Vitamin D is known to be MORE effective than a flu shot at preventing winter illnesses, so it’s a win-win! This is my favorite Vitamin D supplement: http://amzn.to/1auAwhF. For more information on Vitamin D, please read: 20 Surprising Facts About Vitamin D.
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  • Don’t be a hermit: It’s important to get out and have FUN during winter months. Although it may be tempting to become a homebody, getting out of the house to have fun is very important.
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  • Exercise: If you don’t like the word “exercise,” then engage in “fun sweaty activity” instead. As referenced above, exercising increases serotonin levels in the brain, which naturally makes you feel better and have a more positive outlook.

Again, please seek professional help if you experience a depression that interferes with your ability to cope or if you begin considering harming yourself.

My passion is helping people improve their health and lifestyle by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate their health challenges using a holistic approach. If you are ready to find a new level of wellness, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I will help you identify the cause of health challenges and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.

Does SAD affect you? Please share your story and what techniques work for you. We can beat this!