Simple recipe for great skin!

If you, like me, have never been blessed with flawless skin, you have probably tried every product on the market. In my teenage years I mercilessly used harsh products that would strip every drop of oil from my skin in the mistaken belief it would stop my breakouts. Never worked! After much research, I have found that you don't need to spend a lot of money on pricey products to have great skin. Now, I do the complete opposite of what I used to do as a teenager, I slather my face with oil. Not just any oil, as I have written in my past posts, olive oil and coconut oil are extremely beneficial to the skin no matter whether it's considered dry, aging or oily.  I make my own cleanser, where I combine baking powder, olive oil and pure lemon juice. I apply this mixture on my skin at night, rub gently, and take it off with a wet, warm, soft cloth.  That's it! In the morning as I make my warm water and lemon drink, I use some of the mixture to wash my skin while not washing off the natural oils. Before applying foundation, you can use coconut oil and let it sink into the skin. Another oil I found was really beneficial is wheat germ. I use it internally and put it on my skin as well. Don't be afraid to experiment, you can use rosehip, flax, borage or any one of pure plant oils on your skin. It will definitely not hurt you and you will have a healthy glow to rival J. Lo!

What happened to airline customer service?

Today, I wanted to write about a subject that has nothing to do with health and beauty. It falls into the "etc" category. It is about the way the airlines have been decreasing their service while charging more for their fares.
While I do understand that the cost of fuel makes it necessary to increase ticket prices, really there is no excuse for being so cheap with the passengers! If it isn't bad enough to go through the ever cumbersome security screening at the airports and put up with delayed flights, I recently discovered that you cannot even get a glass of water on the plane without paying for it! Forget about that miniscule bag of peanuts or pretzels they used to give you before. This of course is on top of the baggage fees and a charge for a carry on as well. It is really becoming ludicrous. Why don't they simply charge an extra $10 for the ticket and provide a sandwich and water/soda to the passengers? I'm sure they would make money on this deal and make the customers happy. Furthermore, it seems they have shrunk even more space between the seats so it's impossible to sit without having your knees touch the seat in front. We are packed inside like sardines! Luckily, I do not suffer from claustrophobia but I have friends who must take medication when they fly simply because they feel so squished in. I am specifically referring to a recent 5 hour flight I took with Spirit Airlines, and while I am sure there are some airlines not as frugal with their passengers I am not planning to find out anytime soon as I plan to fly as little as possible preferring to drive instead.
Another point I'd like to bring up, is the fact the while the airlines are using the price of gas to excuse the ever deteriorating service they provide, in Europe, where fuel is much more expensive, on flights between the various European countries, they always provide you with a sandwich and a drink. Can anyone explain why here, in the richest country in the world, they cannot do the same?

Fighting the common cold!

Well, I recently arrived from an overseas trip and promptly got sick. I was actually quite surprised as it's been years since I've had a cold. I am assuming I picked up some bug on the plane though I don't recall anyone coughing in my vicinity. It started with a scratchy throat and a day later my nose was so stuffed up I could barely breathe. My throat was swollen and I knew it would get worse, fast! So, I decided to implement every single cold remedy out there. I started with tea of course, which I sweetened with honey, adding a slice of lemon as well as a generous sprinkling of cayenne pepper and powdered ginger. It was actually pleasant tasting! I drank gallons of the stuff not giving up even as I didn't notice that my cold was easing. I also made soup where I threw every vegetable I had in the fridge into a pot as well as unpeeled potatoes, garlic and fresh basil. After they were cooked, I strained them, added sea salt, cayenne pepper (of course), turmeric, sage and noodles. In my plate, I chopped up green onion, parsley and fresh garlic. It was great (and smelly enough to ward off any vampires)! I didn't discount over the counter medications either and that night took Nyquil which gave me a good night's sleep. The next day I continued with the tea and consuming a lot of fresh garlic and slowly started to feel an improvement. I must admit, it was barely noticeable and I still felt weak and needed to rest a lot. After two days however, I most definitely felt better. I was actually able to breathe and my energy was coming back. I changed the bed sheets so as not to get re-infected again. It is also important to throw away the toothbrush used during the sickness. I continued with the tea and the cayenne pepper which is always good for you anyway. All in all, it took me exactly 8 days to fully get over the cold. I am not advocating not going to the doctor when you get sick but you shouldn't run for medication immediately. Of course, try to protect yourself as much as you can by washing hands before eating and keeping your immune system in top shape. Alas, sometimes you just can't avoid getting sick and while at times, it may be necessary to get antibiotics, implementing common sense natural remedies definitely does not hurt!

Keep you hair...healthy!

Today I decided to write about hair loss because it is something that most people, both men and women, experience at some time in their lives. By the age of 50, half of men and 1 in 4 women will experience some degree of hair loss.

What I'm noticing though, is that more and more young men and women are being afflicted with this condition (as well as premature greying of the hair) and while I think it is evident that this has to do with the ever increasing stress in our lives, I also think it is related to our unhealthy diets which do not provide us with necessary nutrients.

Of course, there are drug treatments out there (always suggested by doctors and dermatologists), which have shown some success in those who take them but once treatment stops, hair loss comes back. Not to mention the nasty side effects, like sexual impotence and severe depression.

So what are we to do? I've studied (and personally tried) a number of natural remedies and would just advise anyone who is concerned with hair loss to incorporate as many as they can. First of all, "supercharge" your regular shampoo by adding a few drops of beneficial essential oils. There are a number of them and while you don't have to go our and buy them all, (some of them are quite pricy), you should buy a few that can be used for other treatments as well. All of the following have traditionally been used to promote healthy hair growth: Rosemary, lavender, cedarwood, thyme, burdock, chamomile, tea tree (great for dandruff too), and jojoba, to name a few. You can also use olive oil as a base and add some of these essential oils, apply to the hair and scalp at night and wash out in the morning. You can put an old pillow case on your pillow since it will get greasy, but it's worth it! Brushing your hair at night with a good brush is also helpful as it will stimulate the scalp and clear out debris which is clogging the hair follicles. Even if you shed some hair after, this is perfectly normal and it was destined to fall out anyway. Give yourself a scalp massage. It's extremely pleasant and relaxing. One reminder though, never brush your hair when it's wet!

You might also want to take a break from your shampoo. You can mix baking soda with water and wash your hair with the mixture. I tried this myself and always followed with a rinse of cold water in which I added a little apple cider vinegar. My hair was just as clean as if I had used a shampoo. Whatever you do, you should always try to do the final rinse with the cool or cold water to which you added apple cider vinegar.

At the same time, I would suggest supplementing your diet with B vitamins, folic acid, flaxseed oil, nettle, horsetail, vitamins C and E. Protein is also extremely important and if you are a vegetarian, you might not be getting enough of it. Non meat sources are brewer's yeast, wheatgerm, lecithin and alfalfa, and to lesser extent, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables. Protein from animal sources, meat, poultry, fish , eggs, milk and chees provide indispensable amino acids which cannot be found in vegetarian sources. Soya is an exception to this.

Another item frequently mentioned and used traditionally to promote healthy hair, is fenugreek seed. I've already written about the numerous benefits of fenugreek (see my post on diabetes), but it seems that applied topically, it does wonders for hair growth. It is a little messy to prepare (you have to soak the seeds in water overnight and grind them before applying the paste to the hair) but if you have the time and inclination, by all means do so. Fenugreek is widely used in Indian cooking but if you don't want to eat the spice, you can take it in capsule form.

So, if you are losing hair don't stress over it, it will only make it worse. Put some effort into your locks, try the suggestions listed above and don't expect instant results. You should definitely see some results in a couple of months.


For the last couple of months I've been making my own Kefir. I ordered the starter grains from the Internet and in a few days had a delicious, sour and extremely healthy probiotic drink which I consume every day. Although I generously offered to share the grains with my friends (mainly because the grains are growing and expanding every day), none of them, save one, were interested.
For those of you who don't know what Kefir is, and I was actually quite surprised to learn that many people fall into this category, it is a fermented milk beverage with amazing health attributes. It tastes something like yogurt though it is more tart and sour. It is quite simple to prepare, you put the grains (they actually look like cauliflower florets) in a glass or plastic bowl, add a couple of cups of milk (you can make more or less) and leave it outside covered for 24 hours. If you leave it out longer, the fermentation continues and the drink becomes more sour. The grains are taken out, rinsed with cold water and put in another container with milk. You can also use goat milk or soy though I have only tried it with regular milk. You must remember not to use any metal containers or utensils as the Kefir grains really do not like metal. Kefir can be consumed by everyone, even those who are lactose intolerant.
The benefits of Kefir are truly too numerous to mention. It is considered by some to be a "miracle"product and research conducted in Eastern Europe and former USSR, seems to confirm this claim. Although similar in texture to yogurt, kefir is far superior as it contains more beneficial bacteria which is stronger and able to combat pathogenic organisms in the digestive system. Kefir is full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins B2, B12, K, A and D.
These are just some of the health benefits of Kefir:
* Restores healthy colon function (helps constipation)
* Promotes healthy immune system
* Regulates the function of kidneys, liver and the nervous system (calming the nerves and relieving depression)
* Boosts energy
* Helps promote healthy looking skin, very beneficial for acne sufferers
* Beneficial for arthritis and rheumatism
* Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
* Beneficial for allergies, asthma and tuberculosis
* Protects urinary tract
* Regulates bile production
* Boosts metabolism and aids digestion
* Regulates blood sugar

The origins of kefir are somewhat mysterious. Al though it is known that kefir was used as far back as the 13th century it was in 1881 that a German naturalist, Eduard Kern, reported to Botanic Society in St. Petersburg about this beverage which was consumed by the people of the Caucasus and which they attributed to vitality, good health and long life.
Whatever the origins, the health attributes of kefir have long been proven and I highly recommend it to all. For those more adventurous, kefir grains can be used to make cheese or sour cream and it is also beneficial in skin and hair care. Feel free to experiment and you won't be disappointed.

Toxins all around!

I was amazed to find out that no matter how healthy we try to keep our lifestyles, we are so inundated with toxins from the environment and the food we eat, they are virtually inescapable.
According to Dr. Walter Crinnion, a naturopathic doctor at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, several environmental toxins, along with other toxins which are not fat soluble are stored in our fat and ultimately cause us to become fatter. Just great! As if we needed more reasons to be fat.
What happens when we do manage to lose the weight, the levels of toxins rise in our bloodstream and that makes it harder to keep the weight off and can make us feel sick as well. So, is it possible to avoid exposure to the toxins which seem to be all around us? We consume them in the foods we eat, for example, the farmed fish like salmon and tuna, halibut, etc. all contain high levels of mercury, fruits like peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery and many others, are all full of pesticides. and we are also exposed to toxins in our homes. We take showers with chlorinated water and breathe air conditioned air that spreads the toxins carried by dust, we use cleaning materials in our homes that are full of chemicals that we end up breathing. There are even scientists who claim that the rise in autism and other neurological ailments is linked to environmental toxins the mothers have been exposed to during pregnancy.
Personally, I think the evidence is overwhelming that many of the diseases we are getting at a younger and younger age, are due to the toxins in the food and the environment.
So, how do we protect ourselves? Some of the recommendations by doctors and scientists include getting a high quality air filters for our homes, eating organic foods with plenty of dark green vegetables and drinking two cups of green tea daily. It is also important to take the right supplements. Always purchase those at a reputable health food store, too often what is written on the label is not actually contained in the bottle. Recommended supplements are vitamin E with selenium (to protect cells from toxin damage), chlorophyll to reduce tissue damage (rich sources are alfalfa, chorella, spirulina), insoluble and soluble fiber like brown rice, oat or wheat bran, psyllium, and minerals such as zinc and amino acid N-Acetyl-Cysteine to help neutralize heavy metal toxins. In one of my previous posts, I wrote about French Green Clay which is also used to remove toxins from the body. Of course there are many other steps we can take to protect ourselves, but the most important thing is to be informed and aware of what we are doing with our bodies.

African Mango

Lately I've been reading a lot about the latest fad in diet pills, the African mango formulations. Supposedly, this fruit is great in burning fat, suppressing the appetite and controlling the obesity hormone leptin. It is even mentioned by Dr. Oz as containing a potent fiber that is good at removing cholesterol from the body.
Although I do not have high cholesterol, I am willing to try any natural ingredient that promises to do all of the above. I was really skeptical at first, but since I am in the natural supplement business, and not to mention always looking to lose a few pounds, I went ahead and ordered some pills. After using them for a few days (2 every day and I tried to time them a couple of hours after I've had a hearty breakfast - you should never skip breakfast!), I must say I am pleasantly surprised. I cannot say that my appetite was totally suppressed but it definitely was lessened and it did not take a lot of food to fill me up. The first few days I did not attribute this to the pills thinking that perhaps I just happened to be extra busy those days and the adrenaline kept me from having much of an appetite but now I am sure that this is due to the African mango. The day I did not take the pills, my appetite was back to normal. I noticed something else as well. While every day around 4 - 5 in the afternoon I feel exhausted, on the days I took the pills, I had much more energy. After giving the pills to some friends, they all reported the same thing. I've been measuring my weight every day and although I would like to see a quicker shedding of the pounds, I am happy that the weight loss is steady. Too many times, if you lose the weight quickly, you tend to gain it back real fast too. So while I am still not at my ideal weight, I seem to be getting there slowly, but surely. I am definitely sold on African mango!