Monday, September 28, 2015

Biting Mites from the Sky?

Can I make your day? The news this morning reported a story about oak tree mites with a chigger-like bite. Yes, there has been a surge of activity from these microscopic creatures. Their bites resemble chigger bites, something those in the Midwest are unfortunately very familiar with. The difference is these bites tend to show up around the neck, face and arms because these creatures are falling out of oak trees. 

We don’t like to cover up so much in the heat right now – too hot for long sleeves. So what can we do without resorting to tons of chemicals? Here are my top 3 picks for dealing with oak leaf mites:

1. Us a good DEET-free insect repellent. I like the Beat It! Repellent because it is an essential oil, based formula and contains lemon eucalyptus, an ingredient that has been studied and found to be as effective as DEET. It’ safe for people and you can also use it on your pets.

2. Shower off quickly if you been outside. Use a good natural soap with ingredients that help with itching. All Terrain makes a good soap, Ditch the Itch Bar, which contains soothing oat plus antiseptic tea tree and neem, both of which can help fight the itch of a rash.

3. Treat a rash naturally. Tea tree oil is always a good option for itchy bug bites of any kind, plus it can help you avoid infection if you do scratch. Puremedy also makes a Poison Ivy Salve that would also be ideal for treating mite rash. It’s primarily formulated to help ease the ITCH associated with poison ivy rash, so the ingredients would also work on the itch associated with insect bites. It also has a soothing, healing base making it an easy ointment to apply. 

I don’t know how long this oak leaf mites are around, but I assume they will go with cooler weather and falling leaves. Come on fall!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Stress Relievers from Around the World

I realize I have not posted in quite a while! What happened?! School happened, and getting back into a routine has taken me over a month to do. If there is one thing I’ve dealt with over the last couple of months, it’s stress! It’s something all of us deal with. How well do you adapt to stress? One way you can adapt better is with adaptogens. The term adaptogen is used for herbs that can increase resistance to stress and/or that have a normalizing effect on body systems, essentially allowing you to handle stress better. Here are my top adaptogen picks from around the world:

Indian Ashwagandha is one of the most widely used herbs in India due to its rejuvenative properties. It supports adrenal function, reduces the stress hormone cortisol (which has been linked to weight gain), and may be effective against anxiety and mild depression.  In one study, participants reported increased energy, reduced fatigue, better sleep and enhanced well-being after using Ashwagandha, making it a popular herb among both men and women. 

Russian Rhodiola has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Russian scientists have found that Rhodiola can improve both mental and physical performance, reduce fatigue, and prevent sickness related to high altitudes.  Rhodiola has also been shown to reduce cortisol production. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has been linked to metabolic changes including increased blood sugar and increased fat storage in the abdomen.  Rhodiola is also rich in compounds called phenols which have strong antioxidant properties.

Chinese Schizandra berries have been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years, used for enhancing physical and mental endurance. Schizandra counters stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood. It has also been shown in to help reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Most of these herbs are available as tea, liquid extract or in capsule form. Whichever herb you choose, you can help your body handle stress better with adaptogens.