5 Natural Remedies for the Common Cold

Since I have had my own fair share of sickness in the part week, I promised to write a post sharing the top natural remedies I use at home whenever I feel a little under the weather.

Tea + Ground Pepper + Honey (Cough)

You'll need:

  • I cup green tea
  • Dash of ground pepper
  • 1 spoonful honey

Simply make a cup of tea with honey and add pepper to it. You can use any kind of tea, however I suggest using green tea because it is revitalizing. I drink this combination every time cant seem to stop coughing. It relieves my coughs for one-two hours and then I make another cup. The best part about this is that you cant even taste the pepper in it.

Ginger Root + Cinnamon + Lemon + Honey (Sore Throat)

  • 1 Ginger Root
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 spoonful honey

Peel the skin off of the ginger root and cut it up into small pieces. Put the ginger into a pot of water with cinnamon and bring the water to a boil. Once its boiling turn it to low. The ginger and cinnamon will infuse into the water, so you'll be able to scoop the water into a cup, squeeze some lemon into it, add some honey, and drink it. The bite of the ginger feels sharp on the throat while the warm water soothes it. it I usually drink from the tea throughout the day and add more boiling water to the mixture when needed.

Epsom Salt + Bath (Body Aches)

You'll need:

  • 2 cups Epsom salt
  • A hot bath

While the bathtub is filling, pour at least 2 cups of Epsom salt into the water. Soak in it for 20 minutes to relieve muscle aches. I like to do this whenever I have fever, chills, and body aches. You can buy plain Epsom salt or scented Epsom salt like Lavender.

Water + Salt (Mucus)

You'll need:

  • 8 oz water
  • 2 tbsp. salt

Mix the salt into the water and gargle periodically throughout the day. It helps to break down mucus so your throat isn't blocked up with all day long. I know salt water is sort of an obvious one, but some people are not aware of it's effect on mucus.

Rosemary + Steam (Stuffed Nose)

You'll need:

  • 1 Pot of boiling water
  • 2 drops of rosemary essential oil
  • 1 towel

Put 2 drops of rosemary oil in a pot of boiling water and sit down with it at a table or on the floor. Put a towel over your head and pot and breath normally until the water is no longer warm. This will help to relax the build up in your nose and completely drain your sinuses. 

For more home remedies I would suggest buying the book Medicinal Plants at Home book from Amazon. I shared a link to it on my External Links page. It's only 12 dollars and is filled with over one hundred safe and effective remedies that can be used on your body at home or even while you travel. Its my go-to resource for any home remedy because so many of them are not listed online.

A Note on Meditation

Meditation is the practice of silencing the mind and focusing on the self in order to reach a level of inner peace and tranquility. I know some of you may think meditation is only for the religious or maybe even a little odd, but it is something that literally anyone can benefit from no matter what their beliefs or backgrounds are. 

If you haven’t meditated before it’s probably important to know that when you do it for the first time it’ll be a little boring. This is because we are so used to constantly being exposed to stimulus in our daily lives, and when we sit down to focus on nothing but our breath the mind tends to wander even after the first 30 seconds. As a beginner, you should start small with 5 minute intervals and slowly expand the intervals each day. It’ll take a ridiculous amount of concentration, discipline, and practice, but if you stay with it you’ll be glad you did.

The benefits of mediation include things like improved concentration, reduced stress, better health, happiness, increased knowledge of self, cardiovascular or immune health, and slowed aging. When you begin practicing, you’ll start to realize just how cluttered your mind is. It’ll make you pause all of life’s drama and wind down. A friend of mine once told me to live in each moment and to soak up every bit of it. Meditation helps me to slow down and do just that.

I meditate as a way to check in on myself spiritually and to get away from all of life’s stresses. While meditation can happen anywhere at any time, I usually do it in the afternoon, on the weekends, or while I’m stretching after a workout. My favorite apps to use while meditating include the Calm app and the Breathe app. They give me something to listen to while I meditate and help to relax my mind. However, if I don’t have my phone handy I’ll simply practice in silence.

If you do choose to meditate on your own make sure to always do it while sitting in a comfortable place with your torso straight. This allows air to pass freely through your body while you breathe deeply. I recommend to not eat right before meditating as it’s harder to breathe deeply with a full stomach. Finally, it is paramount that you devote time each day to meditation whether it be even for 5 minutes during your lunch break or when you get home from work. Meditation is something that takes dedication if you practice it. Stay consistent, and make time for it because just a few minutes of meditation can change your entire day. 

Planning for a Healthier Body

How many of you have ever decided to start living a healthy lifestyle, maybe as a new years resolution or simply a promise to yourself? Did you stick to that promise or did you stop because life threw some unexpected twists and turns at you? If that's the case then don't feel guilty, we've all been there. Honestly, I've been there more times than I can count. Either we work way too many hours, have too much homework, or get too caught up with life's responsibilities that health and exercise seem to slip from our very fingers. However, through every lifestyle trial & error I've realized one thing to be true; the key to sticking to any health kick is planning.

Planning is the one thing that gets me to the gym and helps me to eat right when all I want to do is go home to sleep. It allows me to take control of my diet rather than eating anything in sight One way I exercise planning is by meal prepping. Yes, I know, meal prepping sounds like such a drag. You’re probably wondering who has time to meal prep when they don’t even have time to go to the gym. I get it, but there are several easy ways to meal prep without sacrificing precious time. You can throw some food in a crockpot and leave it unattended for a few hours, prep on your off days, or whip up 20 minute healthy meals (which I'll be making a blog post on soon). Once you have your food prepared for the week, you'll be much less likely to grab processed food when you're busy at work. This way you'll tend to save more money as well.

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but how many of you have pressed the snooze button one too many times and had no time to make breakfast? You're not the only one.  To avoid skipping breakfast or grabbing a donut on the way to work I make breakfast the night before. This includes eggs with avocado, yogurt bowls, or overnight oats. That way I pop the food into the microwave before I leave the house or just grab it out of the fridge on my way to work. It's convenient and allows me to sleep longer in the morning while still eating a balanced breakfast. 

I don't know about you, but for me its incredibly difficult to go to the gym after I've been home from work. This is why I pack a bag the night before and just go straight to the gym once I'm finished with work. I can't even explain how much its helped me to go to the gym on the days I don't want to.

Another way I plan for the gym is by having a set workout regimen. I sat down and wrote out what days I’m going to workout and the exercises for each day. That way when I go to the gym after work I don’t have to dedicate much brain power to my exercise. It allows me to get in the zone while exercising which is much more rewarding for my body and mind.

The Essential Oils I Diffuse (and Why)

We all know essential oils have been used through centuries for many different purposes like medicine, remedies, and therapy. I personally use essential oils in my home as cleaning agents, facial treatments, and aroma therapy. When I diffuse the oils they produce certain smells that help me relax and get through the day better. Essential oils are not made with harsh chemicals, so it is a great way to release scents into my house without spraying air fresheners or lighting candles. With that being said, I’ve compiled a list of essential oils that I diffuse at home and I’ll tell you exactly why I use them:

Grapefruit

Grapefruit is one of my favorite oils because it promotes the feeling of joy, satisfaction, and playfulness. The oil helps me to drown out any negative thoughts cross my mind throughout the day. When I encounter a lot of negativity in my week, I’ll come home and diffuse grapefruit while I shower, make dinner, and wind down. The scent has a way of lifting my mood and making me happy after a long day at work. I’ll begin to think more optimistic thoughts while diffusing grapefruit and I’ll also be more productive.

Clary Sage

Clary sage is a scent that I use to relax. It is proven to lower anxiety and enhance the dream state. I diffuse it on Sunday mornings while I lounge around or at night when I can’t fall asleep. I'll usually play relaxing music throughout my home when I diffuse Clary sage because it seems to pair nicely creating a full relaxing atmosphere. Clary sage is also proven the lower anxiety in animals, so I try to diffuse the scent when I leave the house in order to help my puppy with separation anxiety. The oil not only lowers anxiety, but it balances hormones, lowers stress, and calms the mind. I suggest using Clary sage whenever your to-do list seems to never end or when you cant seem to exactly quiet your mind.

Peppermint

Peppermint is a fantastic oil for focus. A study at University of Cincinnati showed that inhaling peppermint oil increased the accuracy of students by 28%. I'll diffuse peppermint whenever I do my homework because it keeps my mind sharp and helps me stay more productive. Peppermint is also proven to reduce fever and relieve headaches, so whenever in sick or hungover I diffuse the oil in my home. While Peppermint oil is great to smell in the house, I recently discovered that it is toxic to dogs. Since then I have stopped using it and started looking for non-toxic oils that promote alertness, however if you don't have any pets I highly recommend adding it to your essential oil collection. 

Lime

Lime is an oil that I like to use in conjunction with my other scents. It helps with exhaustion and promotes stimulation. If you mix lime with other oils it adds a refreshing compliment to any atmosphere. I'll diffuse lime by itself in my home when I'm low on energy or just can't seem to get out of bed. Lime oil also very uplifting, so I'll use it whenever I clean and play music throughout my home. 

Oils that I want to try out...

While I already use several oils in my home for many different things, there are still a select few that I haven't tried yet. Those include Juniper, Rosemary Cineol, Spearmint, Tansy, White Lotus, and Myrtle.

Oils toxic to pets

Dogs: Cinnamon, Citrus, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Pine, Sweet birch, Tea tree (melaleuca), Wintergreen, and Ylang ylang.

Cats: Peppermint, Lemon, Lavender, Melaleuca, Tea tree, Cinnamon bark, Wintergreen, Thyme, Birch, Other oils containing phenol.

Many essential oils do not come with a warning label when they a toxic to animals, so it is important to do your research before buying. When a pet is poisoned by essential oils some of the symptoms include nausea, fatigue, no appetite, diarrhea, and uncoordinated movement.

My 3 Favorite Age Fighting Secrets

Okay lets face it, aging isn't fun for anyone. There are so many celebrities and everyday people out there who spend a ridiculous amount of money on creams, serums, surgeries, and makeup to cover up and/or reduce the age marks on their bodies. I, myself, (at the age of 22) might not need to worry about aging quite yet, however I know my young skin will not last long if I don't take care of it. So how do I preserve it, you may ask? I live by three simple rules; limit UV rays, stress is never free, and an avocado a day keeps the wrinkles away. 

I'll explain them to you below:

1. Limit UV rays

It's common knowledge that the sun and UV rays can be damaging to your skin, but did you know that it's the number one cause of premature aging? I didn't know this until a few years ago. I used to go tanning all of the time when I was a teenager. I would tan outside in the summer time and inside tanning beds during the winter. I tanned so frequently that I wasn't worried about the effects it had on my skin because I was young, and who cares when they're young? Well, come to find out that it had effects on my skin that I hadn't noticed in the first place. Besides the point that it made me look like an orange (yes, I really had a problem), it also had slightly aged my skin on several different part of my body. I stopped tanning altogether when I seen the damage it had done to my body. I use sunscreen while in the sun, avoid sunlight, and spray tan when I'm feeling pale. My favorite sunscreen is the Clinique SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Fluid because its light weight and doesn't clog my pores.

2. Stress is never free

Stress not only causes acne, high blood pressure, and heart disease, it also is a main cause of premature aging. While stress is good for our bodies when responding to dangerous situations, it takes a huge toll on our health if we do not relieve it. This is why I am always reminding myself that stress is never free. Some things I do to relieve stress include daily mediation, exercise, and yoga. 

3. An avocado a day keeps the wrinkles away

Yes, avocados are amazing. Besides the fact that they're ridiculously expensive and annoyingly popular, avocados actually have an extensive list of health benefits. One of those benefits being that they are one of the best foods for skin. Crazy, huh? Avocados contain a wide range of antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins that help fight the free radicals that cause aging. You can apply avocado directly to your skin as a mask or just eat them to prevent winkles from the inside out. I personally make it a goal eat an avocado every day. They make my stomach feel great and keep me full longer. More than likely I'll eat one in the morning with my breakfast because besides its anti-aging properties, is a great source of healthy fats. 

While these are my top favorite ways to fight premature aging, I also moisturize daily, try to not sleep on my side, use coconut oil on my skin, drinking plenty of water, and don't smoke. 

More Food, Less Waste

Anyone who knows me knows that my number one pet peeve is wasted food. This is a serious issue because food is one of our primary needs for survival and some people cant even afford to buy it for themselves. Just in the USA alone 30-40% of the total net food supply is wasted every year. That's 222 million tons of food. All of this waste is the single highest contribution to landfills around America. Furthermore, animals are being raised simply to be killed for their meat all while the meat isn't even consumed. Although it is impossible to completely wipe out this issue, efforts can be made to drastically diminish it. To bring awareness to the issue I've put together a list of organizations that work towards reducing food waste while simultaneously feeding those in need. 

1. Amp Your Good

2. City Harvest (NYC)

3. 412 Food Rescue (Pittsburgh)

4. Boulder Food Rescue (Boulder, CO)

5. Copia (San Francisco)

6. Forgotten Harvest (Detroit)

7. Iskashitaa Refugee Network (Tucson)

8. Zero Percent (Chicago)

Volunteering for or donating to any one of these organizations is a great way to get involved in the community and helping those around you. If you don't have the time, however, there are still fantastic ways to reduce your own food waste. Click here for a list of 27 ways to lessen the waste within your home. For a more extensive list of organizations fighting food waste visit here.

My Favorite House Plants

Houseplants can serve several purposes within a home. Some plants contain cooking spices, while others simply look nice as decorations. They add a certain coziness to a room, reduce stress levels in homeowners, and make houses feel more alive. I love to keep plants inside my home because they make me feel relaxed and comfortable. They also bring fresh aromas into my house that don't come from store bought chemical sprays. With that being said, I've selected some of my top favorite plants to share and I'll let you know why you should look into incorporating them into your house as well:

1. Aloe

The aloe plant is a very low maintenance plant that has a number of healing properties. The gel inside the plant can be applied to cuts and burns on the skin, It can also be blended and added to water to create aloe vera juice. The juice benefits the body by detoxifying, supporting the immune system, lowering cholesterol, and boosting vitamins/minerals. Aloe vera can also be added to the face for smooth skin, and the hair for luscious locks.

2. English Ivy

The English ivy plant is one of my favorites because it can hang from the ceiling. The plant grows vine like stems that aren't thick enough to stand up straight. As a result, the plants has a gorgeous draping effect that adds character to any room. In addition, English ivy is considered one of the best air-filtering plants. Clean air means a clean body.

3. Succulents

Succulents are low maintenance plants that thrive in sunny spots of the home. The best thing about these plants is that they are highly adaptive. Succulents can live anywhere from teacups to  mercury vases, on walls, as wreaths and in quirky little places like wine corks. They come in all sorts of colors and are a great starter for people who haven't kept plants before.

4. Fiddle Leaf Fig

The fiddle leaf fig tree is a plant the serves as more of a focal point in a room. If you really want to bring the outdoors in, then I suggest you incorporate this plant in your home. It grows about 3 meters tall when indoors and has beautifully giant leaves.

5. Herb Garden

While dried herbs are mainly used while cooking, fresh herbs can be used as a fantastic spice substitute in many meals. Fresh herbs are also great for added decoration or flavor on finished meals. Herb gardens can sit on a windowsill in any kitchen. Some recommended home grown herbs include basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, parsley, cilantro, and chives. If you aren't going to use all of the grown herbs, you can cut them from the pot and let them dry for fresh dried herbs as well

Some of my favorite places to buy plants from are Trader Joe's, Safeway, and local nursery gardens.

Why I Drink Wine Each Night

We all have a select set of health issues running in our families. With that being said, It's important to know what hereditary diseases are in your family so you can try to prevent those issues for yourself. I, myself, have a whole list of conditions in my family to include Alzheimer's disease, dementia, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. While I keep my mind active to prevent Alzheimer's disease, I also drink wine to help with any heart related issues.

Some of you may have heard about the benefit that red wine has on the heart. While the research is still being conducted on it, many scientists have found that polyphenols (the antioxidants in red wine) may help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart.

This is all fine and dandy, but its still important to not drink too much wine because the alcohol within it can have adverse effects on the heart and body. Therefore, I only stick to having 4oz of wine each night. I know that sounds crazy, but the wine moderation also ensures that i don't gain any weight from the empty carbs within it. In addition, I only drink high quality wines because cheap ones are loaded with sugar and additives. I find it a little more reasonable to spend extra money on the bottle since I'm drinking it in such small quantities. 

So if you too have heart issues in your family, keep your meals low of sodium, do your research, and find a wine that suits you.

We all have a select set of health issues running in our families. With that being said, It's important to know what hereditary diseases are in your family so you can try to prevent those issues for yourself. I, myself, have a whole list of conditions in my family to include Alzheimer's disease, dementia, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. While I keep my mind active to prevent Alzheimer's disease, I also drink wine to help with any heart related issues.

Some of you may have heard about the benefit that red wine has on the heart. While the research is still being conducted on it, many scientists have found that polyphenols (the antioxidants in red wine) may help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart.

This is all fine and dandy, but its still important to not drink too much wine because the alcohol within it can have adverse effects on the heart and body. Therefore, I only stick to having 4oz of wine each night. I know that sounds crazy, but the wine moderation also ensures that i don't gain any weight from the empty carbs within it. In addition, I only drink high quality wines because cheap ones are loaded with sugar and additives. I find it a little more reasonable to spend extra money on the bottle since I'm drinking it in such small quantities. 

So if you too have heart issues in your family, keep your meals low of sodium, do your research, and find a wine that suits you.

5 Steps to Hair Growth

Hair growth is something that a ridiculous amount of men and women struggle with everyday. Many people dont have a lot of natural compounds within their bodies that are meant to grow their hair. As a result, they are forced to use products or remedies that activitate their hair folicles. I am truly lucky because I personally dont have much of a problem growing my hair out. However, about three years ago while skimming through a magazine, I saw a picture of a woman with a bob hair cut. I thought it looked fantastic on her, so I made the tragic mistake of chopping my own hair off to about the length of my chin. Long story short, I've been trying to grow it out ever since. While it has taken a significantly long time to grow my hair back, there are a few things that I do daily to nourish my locks in the meantime. I know there are many different remidies on the internet, but these 5 steps work for my hair the best and I'll tell you why:

1. Don't wash your hair frequently

 I know we’ve all heard that washing your hair everyday strips it of its natural oils and that’s so true! Instead, hair professionals will most likely advise their clients to wash their hair every other day. I love to follow this trend, however I usually stretch the advice and go 4-5 days without washing my hair. I know that sounds sort of gross because by the time I wash it my hair is extremely greasy. Nonetheless, it is super easy for me to do this because I’m required to keep my hair in a bun for work. A lot of women I work with slick back their hair with gel when I only use my natural hair oil to do so. I’ll then wash my hair every weekend and repeat the process. It’s easy for me and saves me money as well!

2. Use horse shampoo

I know a lot of you are thinking, "like actual shampoo for horses?". Yes. Actual horse shampoo. I got this advice from a friend I used to work with. She was Hawaiian so naturally she had long, thick, beautiful hair, and I remember always asking her how she treated it. She told me her family used Mane n' Tail horse shampoo, and that it was worth trying. Its easy to find. I simply buy mine from Target. Its found in the hair section. Some of the benefits of horse shampoo including increased thickness and shine. It never leaves residue in my hair, and ever since I began using it my hair has felt thick with less breakage.

3. Rinse with apple cider vinegar

If you haven't looked up the benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) then I highly suggest you do so. They range everywhere from weight loss to heart health. Its a sour juice that can be digested as well as used on the body. I only recently just found out the ACV can be used on the hair as a natural conditioner. I liked the idea of that because I try to use as many natural things on my body as possible. I filled a cheap spray bottle with ACV and added tea tree oil for added scent and benefits. I only spray it on my ends and its amazing just how soft it makes my hair!

4. Coconut oil, duh

Okay, who hasn't heard about using coconut oil for damn near everything in the household? Since I keep my hair up almost every single day, I like to pamper it once every week or two. Ill do a full coconut oil treatment on my hair which incudes wetting it and then applying the oil to my entire head and throughout my hair. Ill then wrap up my hair and sleep with the oil in it overnight. This moisturizes my scalp, softens my hair, and stimulates hair growth within my follicles. When I wake up the next morning, I'll wash my hair out and rinse with ACV.

5. Oil for the ends

Split ends are a killer for healthy hair growth, so I use the Ritual of Ayurveda Dry Oil Vata on my ends whenever I get out of the shower. You're probably wondering how I found this oil and much less how to even pronounce it. Well I don't quite know how to pronounce it, but My boyfriend did introduce me to the store that sells it. The place is named Rituals, and it's located in NYC. They sell fragrances and body care products. While visiting there, I met a girl employed there who had me try several different products on my hands including this dry oil. Then she told me the oil can also be used on hair to help prevent split ends. I then naturally proceeded to rub the oil all over my hair in hopes that she was right. The effects of the oils seemed to work so great on my hair that I bought the product a few days later and brought it home with me. I've never regretted that purchase even to this day.