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Cleaners and Lung Damage: The Scary Truth: It seems like we’re always discovering a new link between a health risk and a commonly found ingredient, especially when it comes to cleaning products. But what about the cumulative effect of our exposure to so many harmful chemicals over the course of our lifetimes? Recent studies have come out with some answers, and it isn’t good.
As dangerous as smoking?
You might want to brace yourself for this one: A recent study found the cumulative effect of cleaning products on respiratory systems to be as damaging as smoking twenty cigarettes a day. Shocking, right? Maybe not, when you consider how many common ingredients in household cleaners are linked to respiratory conditions like asthma and allergic reactions. Researchers found that the chemicals irritated the delicate mucus lining of the lungs, causing permanent damage and an overall decline in lung health.
It’s in the air
For many of us, air pollution conjures up images of big cities encased in smog thanks to gas-guzzling SUVs. While that was once true, in the last few decades, stricter air pollution regulations imposed on the auto industry has resulted in a significant decrease in tailpipe emisisions. So what’s crowding our ozone with toxic fumes now? According to one new study, chemicals from personal care products and household cleaners are major culprits. The study found that petroleum-based chemicals used in fragrances and paints emit pollution which can trigger asthma, cause permanent damage to our lungs and are linked to heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer. How much trouble can just a few spritzes of air freshener really cause? More than you might think, given 40% of chemicals added to consumer products wind up in the air. Knowing some of the worst offenders is a good way to start sourcing non-toxic cleaning products. Here are three tips to help guide you in selecting the safest ones for your home and family.
3 Tips for Selecting Non-Toxic Household Cleaners
1. Sniff out fragrance-free options
Fragrances are considered trade secrets, which allows manufacturers to hide literally hundreds of ingredients without disclosing them. And a product that contains fragrance will also likely contain phthalates, which are used to help fragrances last. Health risks for phthalates are startling and include cancer, human reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, birth defects & respiratory problems. As you scan labels, be wary of claims like “unscented” and “fragrance-free.” That doesn’t mean you’re safe. You also have to check the ingredient list, because sometimes manufacturers use masking fragrances to cover the chemical smell of their products. A fragrance-free product means it does not have an added fragrance, so technically, a fragrance-free product can still contain a scent, like an essential oil or floral water distillate, as long as the company didn’t use a fragrance to change the odor. Bottom line: At the end of the day, your best bet is to avoid all fragranced products – from household cleaning supplies to beauty and personal care products.
2. “Natural” does NOT mean non-toxic
Hay, arsenic and lead are natural and you wouldn’t want to ingest them, right? Natural and botanical ingredients can also be harmful, because even they can trigger allergic reactions. And so called “natural fragrances” can be just as toxic as synthetic fragrances. Terpenes, for example, are a natural fragrance emitted by citrus and pine trees (they’re actually the reason for the blue haze that gives the Blue Ridge Mountains their hue!), but they’re also linked to a host of respiratory issues like allergies and asthma.
3. Be a Minimalist
Even if you’re doing your best to find safer products, researchers say “to use as little of the product as you can to get the job done.” While finding non-toxic cleaning products will cut down on your exposure, a little goes a long way with any cleaning or personal care product. You don’t need to bring out the big guns for a little juice spill or use an entire palmful of dish detergent as you wash your dishes.
The Good News
The good news is you don’t need to choose between effective cleaning and your health when it comes to household cleaning products. Because now there’s Force of Nature, a revolutionary new product that has zero harmful chemicals, fragrances, dyes, preservatives, allergens or irritants. We took an industrial grade technology used in green cleaning, wound healing and eye care products and shrunk it down to a small household appliance roughly the size of a sports water bottle. It uses electricity to turn 3 simple ingredients – salt, water and vinegar – into a non-toxic cleaner as effective as bleach. It’s so gentle you can use it to clean things like pacifiers, baby toys, cutting boards and make-up brushes without even needing to rinse afterward.
The Health Benefits of using an Infrared Sauna Vs. a Regular Sauna
It can be difficult to discern the difference between an Infrared Sauna and a regular steam sauna. To help you understand how these saunas compare and which one would benefit you the most, let’s take a closer look at each sauna.
Infrared Sauna Health Benefits
Infrared Saunas use infrared heat to create a relaxing, warm environment. This heat improves a person’s circulation and reduces their pain. The Low humidity and modest air temperature can also help with weight loss and detoxification.
Heart Health and Blood Pressure
According to published scientific literature about infrared saunas, the biggest benefit is to a person’s heart health. These saunas help normalize blood pressure and reduce the risk of congestive heart failure. Some doctors have started recommending the use of saunas to their patients who have high blood pressure or who are at risk for heart issues.
Weight Loss and Decrease in Cellulite
Some users of Infrared saunas noticed improved weight loss with regular use. The weight loss is often caused by the efficient heating of the body, the increased perspiration which removes toxins, and increased metabolic rates. The combination of the previously mentioned factors can improve a person’s metabolic rate by up to an extra 300 calories burned per hour. A 30-minute session in the sauna burns around 600 calories on its own, which is great if you are looking to lose weight.
As your core body temperature goes up from the heat of the sauna, your circulation increases with it. Many people have found that the consistent use of an infrared sauna can improve blood flow and muscle recovery, which is why most gyms have a sauna.
If you are suffering from joint pain or muscle aches, going to an infrared sauna could offer you some relief because improved circulation can help reduce the inflammation. The heat from the sauna also relaxes the muscles, so the pain is reduced.
Infrared saunas promote more perspiration than steam saunas. This is because the infrared rays penetrate deep into your body, increasing your body’s blood flow, breaking up water molecule clusters, and promoting the release of toxins from the body. This detoxification helps improve your overall health.
More Comfortable to Use
The lower temperature of infrared saunas tends to be more comfortable and easier on the body. However, if you have eye, lung or breathing issues, the higher heat and humidity may be very uncomfortable for you. Infrared saunas offer lower temperatures and humidity, so you can relax in comfort.
Once you leave an infrared sauna, your body has to start cooling its interior temperature down. The relaxing properties of the sauna along with your body’s efforts to cool your internal temperature can actually help you get a better night sleep.
Improves Cognitive Function
Heat stress is good for cognitive functions because it stimulates neurogenesis, which is the growth of new brain cells and protects the existing neurons from damage. The heat also boosts norephinphrine levels, which is the hormone that improves attention and focus. There is also increased levels of prolactin, which is a hormone that improves the growth of myelin. Myelin is the insulation around the nerve fibre in the brain that affects how fast your brain works.
Boosts Your Immune System
When you are sitting in a sauna, your white blood cells increase in the bloodstream. This could be due to the body naturally raising your temperature when you are sick. The extra white blood cells help you fight off illness before you get sick in the first place. So, you may want to head to the sauna before and during cold and flu season.
Relieve Symptoms of Depression
Long, grey, bitterly cold winters can really affect your mood. SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder can impact anyone and is often caused by the seasonal changes. The low temperatures and lack of sunshine have a way of zapping a person’s energy levels. So, spending some time in the sauna releases the needed hormones, which reduce symptoms of depression including pain, aches, anxiety, and appetite.
Regular Steam Sauna Health Benefits
Steam creates an environment that has high humidity and heat, which offers a variety of health benefits.
People who are dealing with blemish prone skin may find that the high humidity and the steam helps balance oil production and help them have clearer skin. Dry skin users may experience more hydrated skin when using a stream room regularly.
Some users experienced relief from allergies, cold symptoms, and sinusitis because the moist air opens the nasal passages and sinuses, which allowed for clearer breathing. However, some users found that the moisture and the heat made their symptoms worse.
Loosens Stiff Joints
Warming up in a steam sauna before a workout can help you reduce the risk of injury. It can also help you reach maximum mobility during activities such as yoga, running, and Pilates. Women especially benefited in studies from the heat therapy before and after their workouts.
The sauna’s heat causes the body to release endorphins and other hormones that reduce the feelings of stress. Many people feel calm and rejuvenated after using the sauna, which is due to the increased hormone levels.
Increase Athletic Performance
A New Zealand study found that visiting a sauna before working out can boost athletic performance. The study focused on male long-distance runners who used the sauna after their workouts. The next day, the participants increased the amount of time they could run by an average of 32 percent after using the sauna.
Reduce Pain Intensity
In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the use of saunas to reduce pain and treat chronic-type headaches and frequent headaches that occur over 15 days per month. After eight weeks of sauna exposure, the participants reported significant improvement in their headache intensity. Some participants had lasting effects of two years after finishing their sauna therapy.
Improves Social Interaction
This can sound a bit weird and creepy, but it’s true. Going into the sauna with a friend or your partner can improve your relationship. It can also help you make new connections. The reason that social interactions are easier in saunas is that you are all essentially naked, both physically and mentally, so you are more likely to have an honest conversation with other people. However, some people simply enjoy solitude in the sauna, so just leave them be.
What Sauna is Right For You?
Both infrared saunas and steam saunas offer a number of health benefits. Saunas can reduce stress, help you relax and improve your overall health. Before picking which sauna you should use, you should review what features would benefit you the most and if you have any health concerns that could become worse from heat and high humidity.
Using a sauna regularly offers many health benefits. Both infrared and steam saunas offer similar benefits. However, infrared saunas are the better option, especially if you have breathing and respiratory issues because the heat and humidity of steam saunas can make your symptoms worse.
Anyone that has purchased natural dishwashing rinse from somewhere like Whole Foods knows that it’s expensive. It’s about $5 a bottle and depending on your settings it doesn’t last you a long time. I refuse to buy the regular kind with all the chemicals in it that will sit on my plates.
Just to give you an idea what you can avoid, these are the ingredients in the most popular brands rinse aid. Take a look and ask yourself if you want those ingredients on the dishes and glasses you drink and eat out of.
Sodium Cumene Sulfonate Ethanol
This is a very simple way to replace all that.
All you need is
1 gallon of White Vinegar
25 to 30 drops of essential lemon oil
drop the essential oil directly into the vinegar and shake it a little. Mark the bottle and keep it under your sink for refills into your dishwasher. It’s that easy and it saves you money.
Elderberries are one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world. They have been used by Native Americans to treat infections, and the ancients Egyptians used them to heal burns and improve their complexions. Today, they are still gathered and used in folk medicine in Europe and North America. There are many reported benefits of elderberries, and there are studies being conducted that look into their health benefits.
Listed below are some Elderberry health benefits.
1. Helps Fight Colds and Flu. Elderberries have been used for centuries to help treat colds and flu. There is some evidence to support these claims from some studies. A systematic review from 2010 concluded that elderberries may have antioxidant antiviral effects. The study’s author stated that more research is needed. A double-blind, randomized control trial tested if elderberry extract could prevent people from experiencing cold-like symptoms after traveling on an airplane. People in the study were given lozenges containing 300 mg of elderberry extract and 150 mg of rice flour twice a day for ten days before traveling. Researchers found that the lozenges did not prevent the cold-like symptoms. However, people who have taken elderberry extract had less severe symptoms and their symptoms lasted for less time.
2. Reduces Wrinkles. Elderberries contain high levels of vitamin A. The ANA claims that Elderberries may soothe the skin, prevent or lessen the appearance of wrinkles, and reduce the appearance of age spots.
3. Can Help With Weight Loss. Like most fruits, Elderberries are high in fiber. In a German study, participants who take elderberry juice enriched with elderberry flower and extracts saw significant improvements in weight regulation.
4. Improved Digestive Health. There is more research needing to be done here. However, elderberries are a great source of fiber and can help improve digestion. The fiber can help treat other digestive issues like bloating, gas, upset stomach, and constipation.
5. Improved Heart Health. Elderberries are rich in potassium, so they can help regulate blood pressure and ensure that the blood vessels are relaxed. High potassium diets have been found to reduce the strain on the heart. Studies have found that people taking high amounts of potassium (not excessive) had 49 percent less risk of death by ischemic heart disease. Some sources claim that elderberries can help regulate cholesterol levels and boost circulation. Elderberries contain beneficial compounds called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins protect the inner layer of blood vessels from oxidative stress. This protects the cells from inflammatory stressors, improves circulation and reduces the risk of heart disease.
6. Strengthen Bones. Elderberries contain potassium, iron, and calcium, which are known to strengthen bones, increase bone mineral density, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The anthocyanins may also prevent bone loss in certain. More studies need to be done, so you should consult your doctor before taking Elderberries for bone health.
7. Can Help Prevent Cancer. There are scientists from around the world who are testing the effectiveness of elderberries in cancer treatments, with some success. The success could be attributed to the quercetin in elderberries, which is known to stimulate the immune system and aid in treatment of cancer. Other studies found that elderberries could be a treatment for prostate cancer. This could be due to the berries inhibiting the hedgehog signaling, which is a biochemical process linked to cancer.
8. Helps Treat Diabetes. Studies suggest that elderberries can help lower blood sugar levels, and aiding with diabetes treatment. Research is limited, so it is recommended to speak with your doctor before changing treatments.
9. Improved Vision. Health Elderberries are rich in Vitamins A and B5, which can help prevent serious vision ailments including macular degeneration and glaucoma. The antioxidants in elderberries may also help improve a person’s vision health in the long run.
10. Fights Inflammation. There are a number of studies that talk about the anti-inflammatory properties of elderberries. The berries have even been used to treat eye inflammation. They also help fight oxidative stress, which helps reduce inflammation in the body.
11. Improved Hair and Skin Health. Along with helping reduce the look of wrinkles, Elderberries are also used as a detoxifying agent and helps treat and prevent acne, scars, and boils. This is due to the anthocyanins in the berries, which is the compounds that give the berries their color. Distilled elderberry flower water is used to lighten freckles and improved skin health. The fruit extract applied directly to the skin can also reduce bruising and inflammation. The elderflower oil can also be used to treat your hair. You just need to mix the elderflower oil with your other favorite oils that are safe to apply to the skin and apple to the problem areas of the scalp.
12. Improve Brain Health. One study found that anthocyanins in berries, including elderberries, can help treat cognitive impairments and resultant conditions like Alzheimer’s. Studies also found that Elderberries are replete with quercetin, which is an important flavonoid which is critical for brain health. Quercetin reduces harmful inflammation at the cellular level. It also activates mitochondria in the cells.
13. Helps Treat Urinary Tract Infections. There is very little research on this subject. There are certain sources that claim that elderberry juice can reduce inflammation in the urinary tract and treat urinary infections.
14. Allergy Relief. Elderberry’s anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties make them a great natural remedy for allergy symptoms. Allergies cause inflammation of the sinuses, itchy, sneezing, watery eyes, swelling, and a stuffy or a runny nose. Elderberries are believed to be particularly good for people who suffer from hay fever because it strengthens the upper respiratory tract. Elderberries also have an anti-catarrhal action, which can help reduce congestion and runny nose caused by allergies.
Side Effects of Raw Elderberries
People can eat elderflowers cooked or raw. However, Elderberries need to be cooked to be safe to eat. Raw elderberries, seeds, leaves, and bark of the tree all contain a toxic substance that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
With cold and flu season right around the corner, it is time to start thinking about how you are going to treat the symptoms and protect yourself and family from these illnesses. Making Elderberry Syrup is not a complex process and only takes a few hours at the most. Some natural stores also sell premade Elderberry Syrup and other Elderberry products if you do not have the supplies to make your own. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to make elderberry syrup. This recipe is easy and the elderberry syrup can last up 3 months in the fridge.
Things you will need:
At Least 2/3 cup of Elderberries (Fresh or Frozen)
½ cup of Honey (Local, raw honey is recommended)
Potato Ricer or a Herb Press or Your Hands Fine Cheesecloth or Nut Milk Bag Glass Jar Mini Funnel for Bottling
Small Glass Bottles
Steps: 1. Clean the Elderberries and place them in a pot. Add 2 tbsp. or more water in the pot. Simmer until juicy. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool until it is cool enough to be handled.
2. Line the glass jar with the cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Place the Potato Ricer on top.
3. Transfer Elderberries and juice into the Potato Ricer. The Elderberry Juice will drip through the nut milk bag into the glass jar.
4. Press the potato ricer to extract all the juices. If you are using your hands, you should really wear gloves because the elderberry juice can stain the skin.
5. Transfer the elderberry juice back into the pot and simmer to reduce the juices a bit. Remove the pot from the heat and let the liquid cool until it is lukewarm.
6. Add the Honey to the juices you have in the pot, and stir well.
7. Take the pot off the heat, and transfer the liquid with the funnel into the glass bottles. Let the liquid cool before using it. Store the Elderberry Syrup in the fridge and take a tablespoon daily for immune boosting properties.
Some recipes will also add ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and other herbs that are known for their health benefits, to add a pleasant flavor to the syrup. You should use what you have available, and adjust the recipe so you enjoy the flavour. With all the benefits that Elderberries offer, it is definitely worth trying to incorporate elderberries into your diet. Even a tablespoon of Elderberry syrup can provide you with some of the many health benefits listed above. No matter if you make your own syrup or buy premade made syrup from your local health food or natural store, the bottom line is that elderberries are great for your overall health.