Miss Having Squeaky Clean Hair? Try this.

The one downfall to going for all-natural and sodium lauryl sulfate free haircare is that you just don’t get that soapy, lathery, squeaky clean feeling.  Now, technically, we don’t want our hair to be squeaky clean — that means we’ve stripped it of the natural oils that keep it luscious and hydrated.  But for those who use lots of product on their hair, an occasional squeaky clean wash that gets rid of all that built up gunk on the hair and scalp can do wonders for bringing back some serious shine and luster.

In my experience, there are two ways to get squeaky clean hair, without resorting to all those chemical-laden products we used to use.

The DIY Option:


A raw apple cider vinegar hair rinse was one of the first hair DIY’s I ever bravely concocted, and it has never let me down.  By now, we all know the magic of raw apple cider vinegar as an amazing tonic for health, digestion, and skin, but it’s uses for hair are just as potent.  Due to it’s acidity and high levels of natural alpha-hydroxy acid, ACV is amazing for clearing the hair and scalp of built up product, oils, and dirt, and balancing the pH of hair.  This leads to squeaky clean hair that is balanced, shiny, and luscious, without over-drying.

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Fermented Foods: The Amazing Health Food You’re Not Eating Enough Of

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Some of the most exciting research in health and nutrition these days is around the vital role our gut flora (read: healthy bugs and microbes in our stomach) plays in our overall health, beyond just digestion.   Having enough beneficial bacteria in your gut is linked to healthy weight loss, better moods, less anxiety, stress, and depression, increased immunity, clearer skin, and better bladder and reproductive health.  Of course, fermented foods also make you more regular, eliminate gas and bloating, and relieve stomach aches!

Taking an effective, broad-spectrum probiotic, like NOW Dairy-Free Probiotic-10 25 Billion, is one great way of making sure you’ve got enough healthy bugs in your system.  But as with all nutrients, food-based sources are even better!  Fermented foods are naturally high in beneficial bacteria and they are the best way of getting more probiotics in your system.  Eating fermented foods every day has amazing, immediately noticeable health benefits, and unfortunately, none of us are getting enough of these powerful health foods!  Check out our favorite fermented foods below, and keep in mind that quality matters.  Typical supermarket brands of these foods are pasteurized and heated, which kills the beneficial bacteria.

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Magical Natural Cough and Sore Throat Remedy!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

It seems like everyone is walking around hacking up their lungs these days, so I thought what better time to share my amazing, all-natural cough and sore throat remedies remedies!  Unlike Robitussin and other over-the-counter cough medicines, these remedies are perfectly safe to take throughout the day, are safe (and healthy!) for kids, and are also super yummy.  And they’re ridiculously easy to make!  Below are my recipes for the cough syrup as well as sore throat tea.

Natural Homemade Cough Syrup

¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp raw, grated ginger
1 tbsp raw, organic apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is my personal fave)
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (for maximum potency) or filtered water for a mellower potency
1 tbsp raw honey (organic, if possible)

Dissolve cayenne and ginger in cider vinegar and water. Add honey and shake well. Take 1 Tablespoon as needed for cough. Always shake or mix up before using.  If you’d like, you can add more honey to make it palatable for the kiddies!

Or, if you’d prefer a more warming version, which is also amazing for any cold or flu, try the tea!

Natural Cough and Cold TeaHoney-Lemon-Ginger Cough and Cold Busting Tea

Juice of 1/2 of an organic lemon
2 tsp fresh grated ginger (or about 3/4 inch of ginger thinly sliced)
1 tbsp raw organic honey
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

(optional) Add 1 tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar for even more healing!!

Combine ingredients in a teapot and pour boiling water over the mixture.  Cover and let steep for 3-4 minutes.  Strain, sip and enjoy!  This recipe makes 2-3 cups.

5 Tips to Beat a Cold in Two Days Flat!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

I don’t know about you, but my body has a wicked way of letting me get sick at precisely the worst possible times.  I got laryngitis smack dab in the middle of my first big orchestra gig singing in Cleveland; I got terribly sick about a week before my wedding;  I got a sinus infection right before going home for the holidays last year.  Just like clockwork, two days before we leave to spend Thanksgiving (and my birthday!) with my family in Minneapolis, I caught a cold!

But this year, I was determined to do everything I could to get better ASAP, before the plane and the festivities and the traditional Russian vodka and zakuski could turn a cold into something much more unpleasant.  And guess what?  It worked!  With the right mix of traditional and natural remedies, and a bit of rest, you too can beat a cold in just two days, so you’re not walking around coughing and sniffling for weeks!

Here are my top tips for killing that cold, fast.  Follow each and every one, and you’ll be right as rain!  But it’s important not to skimp, especially on the first recommendation.  To get better, you need to give your body the chance to get better, which is doing completely the opposite of what we’re taught in terms of “powering through” and medicating (and thereby ignoring) each of our bodies’ symptoms.  Give yourself a break, and shower some extra loving care on your system.   That’s the trick, and it works.

1.  Take a day off.  

The number one worst thing you can do for your body when you start to come down with something is “power through” and act like you’re not sick.  A cold or other virus is not in your head, and you can’t trick yourself into getting better.  By downing Dayquil and trudging off to work, you are not only exposing everyone around you to your bug, but you are pretty much ensuring that your cold will last much longer.  When you’re starting to get sick, you need to do everything you can to support your immune system and give your body a chance to heal up.  Stress at the office and germs on the subway all put added strain on your system, and don’t allow your immune system to do it’s job!  So take a sick day, stay home, catch up on your favorite shows, and leave yourself plenty of time to do all the great self-care below… One sick day now is better than a week later!

2.  Take care of your nose.

If you don’t already have and use a Neti pot, get one, and get one now.  This is your secret weapon for avoiding seasonal colds and allergies, and can also be a huge boost to your system once you’ve gotten sick.  A neti pot irrigates your nasal passages with salt water, which flushes out irritants and bacteria, loosens up mucous, and clears up a stuffy or runny nose.  Most neti pots come with a salt mixture but if yours doesn’t, you can just use 1/2 tsp of sea salt per 16 ounces of water in your neti.  I recommend using a neti pot every other day throughout the whole cold season, if you’re prone to getting stuffy, but when you start to get sick, it’s especially helpful.  Use your neti twice a day (morning and night) right from the onset of cold symptoms.  And always follow it with a couple drops of organic sesame oil or olive oil in your nose, to lubricate things and keep your nose from drying out!

3. Drink up!  

When you’re starting to get sick, it is especially important to drink tons and tons of fluids… Like, way more than you think.  Basically, you should be drinking something pretty much all day long.  This flushes out your system, and supports your immune system in beating that bug!  When I’m starting to get sick, I like to alternate between a tall glass of water with Wellness Fizz or Emergen-C (to blast your system with vitamins — don’t exceed 3-4 times a day though!), ginger tea with lemon juice and raw organic honey (which act as an antibacterial tonic for your throat), water with lemon (super yummy, more interesting than plain water, and alkalizing for your system) , and water with apple cider vinegar (a magic, cold-fighting potion).  Make sure to avoid caffeine, and shoot for keeping your water intake at about half your body weight in ounces as a bare minimum.

4.  Make the 3 G’s (garlic, greens, and ginger) your very best friends!  

Yes supplements are all fine and good, and can help give your system a boost when you’re fighting a cold, but nothing does the job as effectively as cold-fighting super foods.  Bulking up on these foods also means you’re not eating terribly unhealthy “comfort” foods (cookies, crackers, mac n’ cheese, cereal, canned chicken noodle soup, etc) that we tend to turn to when we’re sick — which actually serve to weaken our immune systems and prolong illness!

Garlic has an antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, immune boosting quality that is pretty much unparalleled… I’ll press about 2 cloves into pretty much anything I eat while I’m sick, and it definitely gets the job done.

Dark leafy greens, always a healthy powerhouse food, are absolutely loaded with vitamins and minerals your body needs to get better.  Kale and spinach are particularly amazing for this.. so make sure to have a garlicky kale or spinach salad at least once a day (but preferably more) while you’re sick.  Check out my Yummy Cold-Busting Salad recipe that packs a potent one-two punch to kill that cold!

Lastly, ginger is absolutely key for cold-fighting, due to it’s warming effect on the stomach, lungs, and entire system.  It does wonders for alleviating congestion, coughing, and a sore throat!  Make your own ginger tea by slicing up about an inch of raw, peeled ginger root and steeping it in boiling water.  Add fresh lemon and raw, organic honey (a super awesome antibacterial combo), and you’ve got yourself a potent remedy!  Drink this tea several times throughout the day for best results.  Here is my recipe for Honey Lemon Ginger Cough & Cold Busting Tea!

5.  Gargle it up!  

This is one of those remedies imposed on me since childhood that I was always the most resistant to, but as always, mom was right!  It really does the trick at getting rid of a sore throat ASAP.  Gargling with warm water and about a tablespoon of sea salt or baking soda kills the bacteria in your throat.  I gargled twice yesterday, and my sore throat is completely gone today!  So quit being lazy and get gargling!  At least twice a day, but honestly, the more you do it, the faster your sore throat will go away. So stock up on the essentials below, take that day off, and get healthy super fast!!

Your Natural Cold-Busting Essentials:

Nip Seasonal Allergies in the Bud

 

After a blissfully allergy-free spring, I walked out of the house yesterday morning and instantly started sneezing and sniffling.  I check the allergy report for Brooklyn and saw that the pollen level was labeled as high.. which definitely explained why so many other people on the train and in my office seemed to be suffering from similar symptoms.

Seasonal allergies affect nearly 40 million Americans, which becomes really apparent this time of year. There are over-the-counter medications, of course, but many people experience side effects (dry mouth and throat, fatigue, headaches, hoarseness, feeling jittery or spacey) that can be as bad as the allergies themselves.  And long term use of prescription allergy medication is responsible for a whole host of unpleasant effects like high blood pressure, glaucoma, osteoporosis, and stunted or delayed growth in children.  Luckily, there are steps we can take to treat the symptoms naturally, or prevent seasonal allergies altogether!

Neti pots are by far the most effective weapon against seasonal allergies, and can be used as both a preventative measure and as treatment.  Basically, netis are traditional ayurvedic tools that look like little tea pots (traditionally ceramic, though commercial, store-bought netis are plastic) with a special spout small enough to fit in your nostril.  When filled with lukewarm water and a powdered saline solution, the liquid irrigates and cleanses the nasal passages, and also thins the mucus built up in there, flushing it out of your nose.  If you are prone to seasonal allergies, start using a neti pot daily a little before your symptoms would typically start.  Regular use will strengthen your nasal cilia, improving their ability to remove allergens, bacteria, and other irritants from your nose before they start causing problems.  If you’re already experiencing symptoms, you can start using your neti morning and night to flush out allergens and ease congestion.

Apple Cider Vinegar is a magic cure-all that I’ve written about before (see: The Magic of Apple Cider Vinegar), and healing the symptoms of seasonal allergies is just one of its many benefits.  When I got to work, sniffling and sneezing yesterday, I instantly poured myself a glass of water with a tablespoon of organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and I kid you not, an hour later, I was totally fine.  And the effects lasted for the entire day!  I started my day off today with the same formula before I even left the house, and had absolutely no sign of allergies.. even though the pollen count was even higher today!

If you’re lucky enough to have access to local honey (like, seriously, from-within-a few-miles local is best), that can be a huge boost to your allergy fighting powers.  Regularly consuming local honey (and chewing on the honey combs too) helps to desensitize your immune system to the pollen in your area, effectively rendering it harmless to your body!  Eat 2 tablespoons of local honey (raw and organic, whenever possible) every day starting two months before allergy season, and you’ll notice a big difference!

Lastly, the right supplements can help your system fight off seasonal allergies.  Studies have found that high levels of vitamin C (around 2000 mg a day) significantly helps those prone to allergies avoid symptoms, due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities.  Omega 3 fatty acids (which are another general cure-all) have also been found to decrease inflammation and symptoms of seasonal allergies.  Eating lots of foods like salmon (wild-caught) and walnuts, and/or supplementing with a high quality fish oil (around 2g a day) will help with allergies as well as a host of other health benefits.

So next time you start sneezing and sniffling, don’t reach straight for the OTC medications or sprays.. Try some natural solutions first that will boost your overall immunity and health, without any long or short term side effects!

The Magic of Apple Cider Vinegar

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Get this… what common ingredient in your kitchen cupboard can accomplish all of the following:

  • Relieve gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Help with weight loss
  • Stabilize blood sugar
  • Cure acid reflux and indigestion
  • Prevent and heal acne, eczema and dermatitis
  • Cure allergies
  • Get rid of warts
  • Improve overall immunity
  • Detoxify the body
  • Slow the aging process
  • Make hair shiny and full
  • Relieve seasonal allergies
  • Cure a sore throat

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar!!  Amazing, right?  How does it manage to be such a miraculous cure-all?  Well, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar helps your body metabolize fat and stabilize blood sugar.  Its high content of over 50 vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and minerals in very specific combination do wonders for your body, while its antiseptic, anti-fungal and antimicrobial qualities help heal skin problems and ward off illness.

How can you harness this phenomenal power of vinegar, you might ask?

For relief of gastrointestinal problems, weight loss, and blood sugar stabilization:

Simply mix 1-2 tablespoons of raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink before every meal.  Some find that drinking it after the meal has greater benefits in terms of preventing stomach aches, gas, and acid reflux.

For relief of allergies or sore throat:

Mix 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a glass of warm water, and drink at the onset of allergy symptoms.  Drink throughout the day to provide relief.  For added benefit, add a teaspoon of raw, local honey to really nip those allergies in the bud!  For a sore throat, use hot water, and add a squeeze of lemon!

For general immunity, well-being, and fabulous skin and hair:

Mix 2 teaspoons into a glass of water once a day, after a meal.

For healing of acne, perioral dermatitis, eczema, and warts:

Use a cotton ball soaked in the vinegar smoothed onto skin once or twice a day to heal and prevent acne.  For warts, affix a soaked cotton ball onto the wart with a bandaid, and leave overnight.  For eczema, dilute 1 tbsp of ACV into half a cup of water, and apply to affected area with a cotton pad.  You can also use a diluted mixture as a scalp rinse for dry, itchy scalp or sebborheic dermatitis.

For all of the above, use only organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, and make sure to shake it well–the cloudy particles at the bottom of the bottle are where the real benefits are!  If you find the mixture to task too, well, vinegary, try adding a little bit of honey or agave to the water.  In the winter, use warm water (but not hot, as that will kill off the enzymes) with a little agave and cloves, and you’ve got yourself a delicious hot toddy!  In the summer, try it iced for a yummy drink.  Experiment a bit until you find a particular mode of preparation that suits you.  I love the taste of cider vinegar, so I just go for it plain, in a glass of warm water.

So try it out for a month and see what benefits you notice!  A study has found that women who drank 2 teaspoons before two meals everyday lost an average of 2 pounds a week!   Now that is one unbelievable potion hiding out in your pantry…

Some brands to try:
Spectrum Essentials Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
Braggs Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
Eden Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

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Sources:
Natural News
Associated Content
Healthy New Age