Health Nuggets

I Should Have Known Better

I should have known that any friend of Colleen's would be wonderful. I should have been prepared. I should have known that two friends of hers would be twice as wonderful.

Yet, somehow, I was still caught by surprise.

Mindy and Cheryl showed up at my door at 10:30 last night, road-worn, but not too much--because somehow we managed to stay up talking until 1:30 a.m! I had never met them before, my only previous experience having been seeing their names on comments on Colleen's blog. But Colleen is one of those types of girls that when you know her, you would do anything for her, so when she asked me to host her friends as they were passing through, of course I said yes.

They are single, I married with children. But other than that, we have so many things in common--all musicians, Mindy is going into missions, all with a love for Jesus, and all friends of Colleen! Our conversation last night brought me some badly needed encouragement. We laughed, we shared, we imbibed hot beverages. And then we exchanged text messages at 1:30 a.m. while we were waiting for the caffeine to wear off! :-)

When they came last night, they were Colleen's friends. When they left this morning, they were my friends, too.

Thank you, Lord, for the love you give that binds us together in unity.

As if I needed more justification, this article on Dr. Mercola today gave even more of an excuse for me to hang on to my tea habit! From the article:

A four-year study has found that tea slows down brain-cell degeneration, and thereby keeps your mind sharp into old age.

Catechins, a natural compound in tea, protect brain cells from damaging protein build-up over the years, maintaining your brain's cognitive capability.

In addition, the caffeine in tea, unlike that in coffee, contains the natural protein theanine, which counters the normal side effects of caffeine such as raised blood pressure, headaches and tiredness.

Researchers studied the tea-drinking habits of over 2,500 Chinese aged 55 and older and gave them memory tests.

While two-thirds of the tea-drinkers maintained their memory test scores two years later, 35 percent of non-tea-drinkers had a decline in their memory test scores, which indicates cognitive decline.

That's The Way It Is

This article is reprinted here in full from

Vaccines Exposed: A Hidden Crime Against Our Children: NewsTarget) "The greatest lie ever told is that vaccines are safe and effective," said Dr. Len Horowitz. I am a father, and in the course, I have spent a reasonable amount of time researching vaccines in order to determine the most sensible cause of action for my daughter.

Take action on this!

I'm calling it the Five O'Clock Flu.

Because that is the time of the evening that it hit each of our family (with the exception of Jason) in turn this weekend.

So. not. fun.

But! I did discover that rubbing peppermint oil over your stomach can greatly reduce and help eliminate those nasty convulsions.

Anyway, apparently today is Blog Action Day, meaning you blog about environmental stuff. I know I do that kind of thing all the time over here, and I don't have anything really specific to point out today, but I would like to introduce this terrific site that my friend Dawn found yesterday, called Path To Freedom. It's pretty amazing what this family has done with a 1/5 acre city residential lot. (It also makes me wish I lived someplace as warm as California so I could have garden-fresh produce all year round!) I read an article on there last night about ways to save water--simple little tricks that you can easily implement around the kitchen sink. I already started using them. Lots of great stuff on there.

I am SO looking forward to when we move out to our "acreage" (if you can call it that!)--I plan on getting my own cow (or two) to milk, have my own vegetable garden, my own chickens to get fresh eggs from (and fresh meat from!), and thank goodness I managed to birth three strong boys to help with all those chores! :-)

In case you would like a few ideas on how to "reduce your footprint":
  • I, like so many people, have the best of intentions with using my cloth grocery bags--except all too often, I forget them in the van until I'm standing at the checkout with a loaded cart and three kids in tow--not too easy to run out and grab them. While you may not want to do this with a $300 order, today I only had a handful of things, and the bagger was happy to comply with my request of putting them back into the cart unbagged so I could transfer them once I got to the van. For a great reminder of how a small change like using cloth can make a big difference, check out this New York Times article.
  • Fluorescent light bulbs are getting a lot of press lately as the more economical, environmentally-friendly choice. Unfortunately, no one tells you the flip side: fluorescent bulbs are filled with mercury. If one breaks and you breathe in the vapours, you will be exposed to all the possible side effects of mercury poisoning. Not only that, an environmental clean-up of these leakages could (and have) cost in the thousands of dollars--to the consumer! Far better to go with LED lights--they last longer, on far less power requirements, and will not cause nasty health and environmental hazards. We have been trying out a few different brands, and they are a bit difficult to get used to--the light is very directional, and very blue. However, there are several companies working on the technology, so keep an eye on this as a viable option in the future. (Right now, we use one on our front porch, where a large amount of light is not required, and also to replace one or two of our track lights in a group of three--the "blue-ness" of the light makes them seem very dark, so we balance it by keeping a yellower or whiter one in the mix. But they are only a 3 Watt bulb each. Can't really beat that!)
Okay, I gotta go get some rest now. Happy Monday, friends!

Why do I need Vitamin D?

Well. Scientists have actually "discovered" that the sun is good for you. (Sometimes it just makes a person want to grab someone by the collar and shake 'em really good whilst saying "Duh!") Here's an excerpt from one article about it:

Researchers discover moderate sunlight exposure helps prevent skin cancer: (NewsTarget) To the surprise of scientists, while exposure to the sun's UV rays is the main cause of skin cancer, a recent study says some sunlight also can help prevent it.

The idea of sunlight helping prevent skin cancer may sound like a paradox, but the key is exposure in moderation, immunology scientists at Stanford University found.

Sunlight causes vitamin D to synthesize in the body, yielding some protection from the risk of skin cancer. The production of vitamin D is spurred on as an immunity response from the body receiving ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from sunlight...

"The truth about sunlight is that sensible exposure actually prevents skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, depression and even osteoporosis," [Mike] Adams said. "Sunlight is more powerful than any drug; it is safe, effective and available free of charge. If it could be patented, it would be hyped as the greatest medical breakthrough in history. It's that good."

For those of us in Northern climes, where good-quality sunlight is difficult to obtain for much of the year, a good cod liver oil supplement is imperative. Before you shriek and start trying to get the imaginary taste out of your mouth, I recommend the Garden of Life Olde Worlde Cod Liver Oil. It does not have the strong "fishy" taste that many of them do. In fact, my kids actually ask for it! I am totally NOT making that up!

I have already discussed the possibility that perhaps sunblock is not that good for you. Who knew that you might be better off without the stuff that we have been indoctrinated into thinking was mandatory, and that what we have been told is gospel truth is actually just a bill of goods we were sold?

That last thought applies to much more than sun and sunscreen. Makes you want to stop and think, doesn't it?

More Benefits of Raw Honey--Amazing!

I knew honey was good for you, but this article blew me away! Now I'm wondering if I should keep my honey in my kitchen or my medicine cabinet! Enjoy:

The healing power of honey: From burns to weak bones, raw honey can help: (NewsTarget) Raw honey – which has not been pasteurized or filtered, and ideally taken directly from the hive – is a treasure chest of nutritional value and medicinal remedies. It contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals and is a natural and powerful medicine, both internally and externally.

The list of honey's beneficial functions is a long one. Honey increases calcium absorption; can increase hemoglobin count and treat or prevent anemia caused by nutritional factors; can help arthritic joints, when combined with apple cider vinegar; fights colds and respiratory infections of all kinds; can help to boost gastrointestinal ulcer healing; works as a natural and gentle laxative; aids constipation, allergies and obesity; provides an array of vitamins and minerals; and supplies instant energy without the insulin surge caused by white sugar. Many have found raw honey helpful for its positive effects against allergies and hay fever, and one or two teaspoons last thing at night can help with insomnia. As an antiseptic, honey is also a drawing agent for poisons from bites or stings or infected wounds, and has outperformed antibiotics in treatments for stomach ulcerations, gangrene, surgical wound infections, surgical incisions and the protection of skin grafts, corneas, blood vessels and bones during storage and shipment.

"Raw honey is exceptionally effective internally against bacteria and parasites. Plus, raw honey contains natural antibiotics, which help kill microbes directly. Raw honey, when applied topically, speeds the healing of tissues damaged by infection and/or trauma. It contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes, as well as sugars, all of which aid in the healing of wounds."

So writes Dr. Cass Igram, D.O. in The Survivor's Nutritional Pharmacy. In a fascinating modern development, scientists and doctors are beginning to rediscover the effectiveness of honey as a wound treatment. In recent years, honey has been used effectively in clinical settings for the treatment of fist-sized ulcers extending to the bone, as well as for first, second and third degree burns. Complete healing has been reported without the need for skin grafts and with no infection or muscle loss. It can be applied full strength to such conditions, covered with a sterile bandage, and changed daily. When the wounds are clean, honey acts as a healer. This also is the same procedure for infected wounds, ulcerations and impetigo. Garlic honey can also be applied directly to infected wounds, which will help clean up the area of infection.

Dr. Peter Molan, professor of biochemistry at Waikato University, New Zealand, has been at the forefront of honey research for 20 years. He heads the university's Honey Research Unit, which is internationally recognized for its expertise in the antimicrobial properties of honey. Clinical observations and experimental studies have established that honey has effective antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Astonishingly, it painlessly removes pus, scabs and dead tissue from wounds and stimulates new tissue growth. "Randomized trials have shown that honey is more effective in controlling infection in burn wounds than silver sulfadiazine, the antibacterial ointment most widely used on burns in hospitals," explains Dr. Molan.

Dr. Molan believes that if honey were used from the start in cases of septicemia, there would be far less tissue damage resulting. "The remarkable ability of honey to reduce inflammation and mop up free radicals should halt the progress of the skin damage like it does in burns, as well as protecting from infection setting in", says Dr. Molan. "At present, people are turning to honey when nothing else works. But there are very good grounds for using honey as a therapeutic agent of first choice."

Researchers believe that the therapeutic potential of honey is grossly underutilized. With increasing interest in the use of alternative therapies and as the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreads, honey may finally receive its due recognition as a wound healer.

Indeed, it works: Raw honey makes a sterile, painless and effective wound dressing. Apply it directly to open cuts, abrasions and burns, and cover it with a piece of gauze. The results will occur quicker than with conventional alternatives, such as salves and creams.

Honey is also exceptionally effective for respiratory ailments. One Bulgarian study of almost 18,000 patients found that it improved chronic bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis, chronic and allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. It's an effective treatment for colds, flu, respiratory infections and a generally depressed immune system. Whereas sugar shuts down the immune system, a good quality honey will stimulate it into action.

Here are some more ways to utilize the healing power of honey:

BURNS - Apply freely over burns. It cools, removes pain and aids fast healing without scarring. Apart from being a salve and an antibiotic, bacteria simply cannot survive in honey.

BED WETTING - A teaspoon of honey before bed aids water retention and calms fears in children.

INSOMNIA - A dessertspoon of honey in a mug of warm milk aids sleep and works wonders.

HYPERACTIVITY - Replace all use of white sugar with honey. White sugar is highly stimulating with no food qualities. Honey provides the energy without the "spike."

NASAL CONGESTION - Place a dessertspoon of honey in a basin of water and inhale fumes after covering your head with a towel over the basin. Very effective!

FATIGUE - Dissolve a dessertspoon of honey in warm water or quarter honey balance of water in a jug and keep in the fridge. Honey is primarily fructose and glucose, so it's quickly absorbed by the digestive system. Honey is a unique natural stabilizer: Ancient Greek athletes took honey for stamina before competing and as a reviver after competition.

FACIAL DEEP CLEANSER - Mix honey with an equal quantity of oatmeal, and apply as a face pack. Leave on for half an hour, then wash it off. Great as a deep cleanser for acne and other unwanted blemishes.

POOR DIGESTION - Mix honey with an equal quantity of apple cider vinegar and dilute to taste with water. This is also wonderful for the joints – and promotes weight loss.

HAIR CONDITIONER - Mix honey with an equal quantity of olive oil, cover head with a warm tower for half an hour then shampoo off. Feeds hair and scalp. Your hair will never look or feel better!

SORE THROATS - Let a teaspoon of honey melt in the back of the mouth and trickle down the throat. Eases inflamed raw tissues.

FOR STRESS - Honey in water is a stabilizer, calming highs and raising lows. Use approximately 25 percent honey to water.

ANEMIA - Honey is the best blood enricher by raising corpuscle content. The darker the honey, the more minerals it contains.

FOOD PRESERVATIVE – If you replace the sugar in cake and cookie recipes with honey, they'll stay fresher longer due to honey's natural antibacterial properties. Reduce liquids in the mixture by about one-fifth to allow for the moisture present in the in honey.

BABY'S BOTTLE - Four teaspoons of honey to a baby's bottle of water is an excellent pacifier and multivitamin additive. If the baby's motions are too liquid, then reduce the honey by half a teaspoon; if too solid increase by half a teaspoon. (Caution: Don't give raw honey to babies under 1 year old; it's just too rich.) For teething, honey rubbed on a baby's gums is also a mild sedative and anesthetic.

OSTEOPOROSIS – Research has shown that a teaspoon of honey per day aids calcium utilization and prevents osteoporosis – probably not a bad idea for anyone over 50.

LONGEVITY - The most long-lived people in the world are all regular users of honey. An interesting fact, yet to be explained, is that beekeepers suffer less from cancer and arthritis than any other occupational group worldwide.

MIGRAINE - Use a dessertspoon of honey dissolved in half a glass of warm water. Sip at the start of a migraine attack, and, if necessary, repeat after another 20 minutes.

CONJUNCTIVITIS - Dissolve honey in an equal quantity of warm water. When cooled, apply as a lotion or eye bath.

COUGH MIXTURE – Combine 6 ounces (170 grams) liquid honey, 2 ounces (55 grams) glycerin and the juice of two lemons. Mix well. Bottle and cork firmly, and use as required.

Raw honey may become granulated, as some does after a week and another maybe only after several years. If the granulations bother you, simply place the honey into a pan of hot water (not boiling) and let it stand until becoming liquid again.

Kelly Joyce Neff has an interdisciplinary degree in Celtic Studies which includes work in cultural anthropology, history, linguistics, language, and literature. She is a traditional midwife and herbalist, a reiki master, and an active craftsperson. She lives in San Francisco.


More bad news on Soy

I started this post three days ago, leaving it open on my computer. I just wanted to give you the "heads-up" that the negative effects of soy are becoming more well-known. Apparently, the Cancer Council of New South Wales recently started advising breast cancer patients and survivors to start avoiding soy altogether. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Australian cancer organization warns breast cancer patients to avoid soy: "Previous research has indicated that phytoestrogens found in soybean products can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body, which could possibly promote growth of hormone-affected cancers with long-term exposure."

Soy products can, indeed, be healthful for you, if you eat traditionally-fermented varietels, such as miso, tempeh, and traditionally-brewed soy or tamari sauce. But even those cultures who use soy as a staple only consume these items in moderate amounts at every meal, more as a condiment than the main course. (The fermentation process negates the negative effects that the phytoestrogens and phytates found in the soy would have.)

The best, most rounded source of protein, and the only source that contains all the necessary amino acids we require is meat (and other animal products).

What Can the Diet of Gorillas Tell Us About a Healthy Diet for Humans?: "For normal growth and sound health throughout life, the human species requires eight amino acids which their bodies cannot manufacture, vitamin B12 and some essential minerals. The only viable source of these amino acids and of vitamin B12 is animal protein such as red meat, fish, shell fish, eggs, milk, insects and worms. The lack of these amino acids results in serious illnesses. For example, kwashiorkor is a deficiency disease which impedes the normal development of vital brain cells and stunts growth. People may be getting all they need to eat to satisfy their hunger from grains and other plant foods. They may even become plump on a diet of grains, but their normal growth and development is stunted. For instance, some Maya Indian peasant groups of Guatemala primarily have only corn, beans and squash to eat. They like meat, but are too poor to purchase meats or raise animals. Feeding domesticated animals would sacrifice land needed to grow the grains on which they subsist. This condition is common over much of the world."

For more information about the dangers of soy, click here.

For more information about the benefits of eating meat (and the fat that accompanies it), please see this page.

I'll get a more personal post up later on this weekend! Hope you are having a happy Saturday!

Look at me from the side. Do I look different to you?


This post involves more than the usual amount of girl talk. Men may or may not be interested in it, but don't say I didn't warn you.

I don't know about most other moms, but I have found that one of the first things that goes out the window upon the arrival of a new baby is excess personal grooming. By "excess" I mean anything that might imply artificially applying colour to hair or skin, as well as anything that might keep me in front of the mirror longer than the bare minimums. Some days, this included choosing an outfit that matched. I was just happy to get out of my pyjamas.

But, as baby approaches that wondrous first-year mark, something magical happens. Suddenly, his wails are not the first sound that drags you out of bed in the morning. Your other children, if you have any, have finally reached an age where they can entertain themselves for a fair amount of time without getting in trouble. And you suddenly have time to actually look in the mirror.

And you shriek, "Oh my GOSH!!"

Then you immediately book an appointment for the hair salon, wondering how it was that you managed to stay married, looking like a slob in sweatpants for nearly a year.

While I may or may not admit to the use of hyperbole in this post (or any post, for that matter. I was raised with a firm belief in blurring the line between truth and dramatic exaggerations thereof), it was so nice to be able to go to the salon today and actually get pampered a little beyond a trim--it was time to rid the winter blahs by adding highlights to my hair.


I think I may have finally found a hairdresser that I like! YAY! Too bad she has a baby due in April, and then I will be punted into the wild again. Hopefully, that gives me enough time to sleuth out another artiste in the hair department--one that does not require a drive to Grand Prairie (2 hours), Edmonton (5 hours), or a one-month minimum advance booking time (downtown Peace River).

Here is a post of my new 'do, taken by Jude about twenty minutes ago after a quick finger-brushing and a long day:

And! Since this is a "girl talk" post anyway, I have been meaning to blog about this for the longest time.

"This" is one of the coolest reinventions to hit the market in a century.
"This" will make you wonder why none of your friends know about it.
"This" will make you want to be the one to tell them.
"This" is the Diva Cup.

Say goodbye to $10/month in feminine hygiene supplies.
Say goodbye to the worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Say goodbye to uncomfortable vaginal dryness.
Say goodbye to messy "Maxi Ultra with wings for Night."

Say hello to taking it easier on your body.
Say hello to taking it easier on the environment.
Say hello to taking it easier on the plumbing.
Say hello to one tidy little pretty cloth bag to carry around with you in your purse, instead of an arsenal of supplies tucked in every desk or bathroom you have.

Picture a diaphragm, but facing the opposite direction. It is not absolutely perfect, but it's the best thing I've ever tried. The only downside is that if someone has particularly weak vaginal muscles (say from birthing too many babies), it can tend to slip up, especially at night. But this can easily be remedied by doing Kegal exercises.

I find I need to wear it with a pantyliner, just for the odd drop that might seep past. Also, the insertion technique took a try or two to master, but the instructions in the box are very detailed, and I soon found it was easier than using a tampon, too.

Girl talk over. If any guys made it this far, e-mail me at talena{at}wintersdayin{dot}ca and I will send you a prize. Plus, you might want to tell your wives, girlfriends, pre-menopausal mothers or post-pubescent daughters. Just sayin'. It might be weird. But they might think that was the best gift you gave them this holiday season. (The information, I mean--unless you are REALLY close and just go out and get them one!)