‘Tis the Season… for Itching and Sneezing!

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Warmer weather is on its way, and with it comes a whole host of pollens and other allergens! While many people may consider spring allergies to be “par for the course,” an article I read recently suggests that those allergies may be something to lose sleep over — literally! According to a survey done by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 59 percent of nasal-allergy suffers say that their sleep is interrupted by allergies and 48 percent say that their symptoms interrupt their partner’s sleep, too! However, even with all this sleeplessness, only 35 percent of those surveyed were making a concerted effort to find a remedy!

Perhaps one of the reasons that so few people are taking the initiative to get relief is that that they are not sure what to do…as a fellow allergy sufferer, I have often found myself standing in a grocery-store aisle, staring blankly at a wall full of allergy medicine options! Here at OMI, we are pretty big advocates of getting a good night’s sleep, so I thought this would be a good time to pull up a previously posted blog to get some tips for tackling those pesky allergy symptoms. Click here to view the blog post, or read on for more great ideas!

1) Avoid Over-the-Counter Decongestants

While these may seem like the most convenient choice for clearing out your nasal passages, they have been known to cause insomnia. Furthermore, overuse can lead to resistance, which means that your symptoms will only come back with a vengeance! We prefer natural remedies, whenever possible, but if you DO take allergy medicine, stick to antihistamines without added decongestants (e.g., Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec).

2) Avoid Exercising in the Early AM

The prime time for pollen production is 5AM to 10AM… which means that your early-morning workout may leave you feeling groggy, instead of energized! Try scheduling your exercise routine for evening hours, at least during peak allergy season. Also, remember to close your windows before bed to avoid being bombarded by pollen in the morning (unless, of course, you are an early riser)!

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3) Drink Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has been praised for its digestive benefits for centuries! Some people also tout it as a natural allergy remedy, citing its ability to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system. Although the scientific basis for this is unclear, it is certain that ACV has digestive benefits — like promoting good bacteria in the gut — and since there is a definite link between allergies and the gastrointestinal system, it is worth giving it a try!

I prefer to enjoy ACV as part of a delicious salad dressing, but some people prefer to dilute it in a glass of water or juice and simply drink it as a supplement. However you choose to ingest it, the important part is making sure you pick the right kind of ACV. The unfiltered kind (with the cloudy stuff at the bottom) offers the greatest benefit to your body. Be sure to shake it up before you pour!

4) Eat Onions

Foods like red onions, red apples, and even red wine contain a bioflavonoid known as quercetin. This naturally-occurring compound is known for its properties as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine! Click here for a more extensive list of quercetin sources, or check your local grocery store for quercetin capsules.

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5) Try Acupuncture

While it may seem a little creepy to some, acupuncture is ideal in the sense that it does not have side effects. It works by calming the overstimulation of the immune system, which makes it useful for people who are experiencing more than one type of sensitivity (e.g., seasonal allergies plus mold allergies). Click here to read more about the benefits of acupuncture.

6) Boost Your Immune System

Keep in mind that the coughing, sneezing, and itchiness are all products of your immune system’s over-response to histamines…so supporting a healthy immune system can help reduce the symptoms of allergies. All of the things that you would do for your body while fighting a cold — eating well, getting enough sleep, etc. — can help mitigate your body’s response to allergens and lessen your symptoms.

7) Grow a Beard

This is not an option for everyone, but facial hair has been shown to measurably reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies, at least according to this article. The theory is that facial hair acts as a natural filter for pollens, dust, and other allergy-causing particles in the air. That being the case, those lucky enough to have a beard or mustache should be sure to keep them clean during allergy season!

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In the end, just about any remedy that reduces allergy symptoms and improves sleep is a good one (especially if is natural)! So don’t be afraid to try something new, even if it sounds a little odd at first!

Give the Gift of Organic Sleep

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The giving season is upon us! This year, instead of giving the usual socks and mittens, why not branch out and give a night of healthy and comfortable sleep with OMI bedding accessories?

Here are some OMI products that make great gifts this holiday season:

Pillows

OMI has a wide variety of pillows, with many fills that offer different comfort options. Pick the perfect pillow for your loved one to provide a truly restful night’s sleep.

100% Certified Organic Cotton Pillows

CottonPillowStarting at $95

Our organic cotton pillows are for those seeking a firmer, flatter feel. Our cotton option is filled with pure, sanitized 100% certified organic cotton. Available in three weights: light, medium, and full.

100% Organic Eco-Wool™ Pillows

WoolPillowStarting at $115

In general, wool offers a softer and springier feel, and tends to “sleep cooler” and compact less than cotton fill. Available in three weights: light, medium, and full.

The Crush 100%-Natural Shredded Rubber Latex Pillow

CrushStarting at $170

Adjustable and supremely comfortable, our Crush pillow is made without wool for ultimate resiliency. Covered with signature OrganicPedic® knit fabric and filled with 100%-natural shredded rubber latex, the Crush has a soft yet supportive feel, and can be adjusted to any height to meet the needs of individual sleepers.

Wool-Wrapped 100%-Natural Shredded Rubber Latex Pillow

ShreddedRubberPillowStarting at $200

This dual-chambered pillow is a best seller! It is made with a center chamber of 100%-natural shredded rubber latex, surrounded by an outer chamber filled with Eco-Wool™. This pillow is made with a zipper, so you are able to remove material and customize it to your personal preferences.

Wool-Wrapped Organic Buckwheat-Hull Pillow

BuckwheatPillowStarting at $189

In this dual-chambered pillow, the outside chamber, filled with organic Eco-Wool, cushions both the feel and the sound associated with buckwheat hulls. It’s made with a zipper, so sleepers can remove material and customize each pillow to their personal preferences.

100%-Natural Rubber Latex Pillows with Double Covers

LatexPillowsStarting at $229

Our Molded and Contour Pillows are sold with double covers. The inner cover is a certified organic cotton mesh fabric that is designed to ensure that the pillow keeps its shape and integrity for many years. The second (removable) case is envelope style, made from our certified organic cotton woven mattress cover fabric, and is hand washable.

Pearl Organic Sheet Sets

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Starting at $230

OMI’s sheets make the perfect gift for that one family member who loves to snuggle up in a super cozy bed! These sheets are soft and luxurious, making going to bed that much more amazing. Our Pearl Organic Sheet Set is made of 300-thread-count GOTS-certified organic cotton sateen in creamy ivory.

Thermal Blanket

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Starting at $85

Now that the nights are chilly and cold, the OMI Thermal Blanket is a perfect choice for lightweight warmth to keep you toasty at night. Give this blanket to loved ones who need a little extra warmth through the night. The soft pebbly, textured fabric is 100% organic cotton in a crepe weave.

This holiday, treat yourself or your loved ones to some great OMI accessories for a comfortable, restful, and organic night’s sleep! For more OMI products click HERE.

Organic Treats for Trick or Treaters

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It is time to prepare for all the adorable little trick or treaters that will be coming out for Halloween. Usually the preparations take us to the local market for some bags of over-sugared candies that we parents usually end up eating. Well, this year you might want to try something a little more healthy so you won’t feel so guilty about sneaking a few here and there. There are many great candy companies out there that offer healthier alternatives to the standard Snickers, M&M’s and more. Here are some truly yummy organic and sugar-free options that kids will love.

Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruity Snacks

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These fruit snacks may not be a traditional candy, but they are still sweet and delicious.

Unreal Candy Bars

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Unreal candy bars offer a wide variety of candies that are modeled after conventional candy bars such as Snickers, Peanut M&M’s, Peanut Butter Cups and more.

Bug Bites Organic Milk Chocolate

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Individual pieces of delicious milk chocolate that are perfect for passing out to all the kids in the neighborhood. Each square contains a fun and educational insect trading card.

Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Halloween Treats

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These tasty, fruity snacks are made with organic juice and no artificial colors or flavors.

Yum Earth Organic Pops

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Another great alternative to the standard lollipop are these organic and healthy pops in many different tasty flavors, from Pomegranate to Razzmatazz Berry.

Halloween Glee Gum Pops

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These gum pops are 100% natural, with a hard candy exterior and a delicious gummy middle. These gum pops come in 3 different flavors: Sweet Strawberry, Crisp Green Apple, and Juicy Orange.

Whatever you chose to hand out to the kiddos, make sure it is an “eek”-o-friendly option!

OMI Introduces Certified-Organic Pillow Toppers

To pair with OMI’s Certified-Organic Mattresses, we have introduced a line of Certified-Organic Pillow Toppers. The pillow tops have the same guaranteed purity as the mattresses, because they are made from the same certified-organic raw materials.

Made with certified-organic Eco-Wool or certified-organic latex, our pillow tops offer a welcome layer of plushness. Wool is a wonderful natural choice for a sleep surface. Cool in summer and warm in winter, it wicks away moisture and dissipates it into the air over time. Natural rubber adds a supportive softness, cushioning pressure points while resisting body impressions. Covered in certified-organic cotton sateen fabric, our pillow tops add a luxurious feel to any mattress.

The Wooly Lite (1.5”)

The economical 1.5”-deep Eco-Wool Wooly Lite is perfectly suited for the sleeper who needs just a little extra surface cushioning.

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The Wooly (3”)

The 3”-deep Eco-Wool Wooly is well suited for sleepers who need a softer surface depth or who enjoy a bed with a “nesting” feel.

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The Wave (3”)

The new Wave pillow top is made of 3” of GOLS-certified organic natural rubber latex encased in certified-organic cotton knit fabric. The Wave features a sculpted surface to provide comfort for sleepers with pressure-point issues. This comfortable and resilient natural-rubber pillow top provides added surface depth for sleepers, but with more firmness than a wool topper and without reducing the support of the mattress.

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The Allura (2”)

Our 2”-thick natural rubber topper offers surface softness. It is made with a single core of GOLS-certified organic natural rubber latex sap, and is covered with our signature OrganicPedic® knit quilting.

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The Verona (2”)

Two inches of GOLS-certified organic natural rubber latex encased in certified-organic cotton knit fabric. This super-soft layer adds that extra “ahhh” to any OMI mattress.

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Allergy Season

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Spring is here, the flowers are in bloom, and it’s a beautiful sight, except for those who suffer from allergies. Allergens such as pollen can cause all sorts of symptoms for allergy sufferers, such as itchy eyes, congestion, and sneezing. Many people take prescribed or over-the-counter medicines that help allergy symptoms, but some of these medicines can cause side effects that are worse than the original problem. For a more natural solution to ease mild, spring-time allergy suffering, here is a list of 10 home remedies that may be helpful:

  1. It’s hard enough to avoid allergens outdoors, so try not to bring them into your home, too. Keeping windows and doors shut during allergy season can help keep pollen out of your house. Eliminate any cross breeze by shutting off fans that circulate air in and out of the house. Indoor air purifiers/HEPA filters are a great added step to keep your house as allergen-free as possible.
  2. While being outdoors it is difficult to avoid allergens, so one great step is to wear eye protection. Wearing sunglasses (with side shields) or goggles while outside will keep pollen and other allergens from landing in your eyes and causing swelling or itching.

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  1. Taking a steaming-hot shower has two major benefits for allergy sufferers: First, the steam soothes sinuses and clears nasal passages. The second benefit is that the shower washes away pollen and allergens from the skin and hair, preventing the spread of contaminants into your home.
  2. Peppermint tea has essential oils that act as an anti-inflammatory, decongestant, and mild antibacterial. A nice warm mug of peppermint tea can help alleviate irritated nasal passages and a sore throat.

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  1. For those who don’t want to take a shower every time they feel congested, a steam bowl is a simpler way to get similar results. Fill a large bowl with steaming water (add eucalyptus oil for added relief), place a towel over your head, and take deep breathes of the eucalyptus steam.

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  1. Another way to clear your nasal passages is to use a saline nasal rinse. There are many different methods of delivering the solution into your nasal cavity, but the basic concept is to flush out the congestion and keep the passages dry.
  2. For those who can handle spicy foods, wasabi and horseradish are great for clearing your sinuses. Allyl isothiocyanate is the ingredient in these two foods that activates your sinus and tear ducts to promote mucus flow. Also foods like walnuts, flaxseed, and cold-water fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, are great for fighting inflammation when eaten regularly.

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  1. There are a variety of herbs and supplements which have been studied for allergy relief, such as spirulina, goldenseal, and eyebright. The plant extract butterbur has had strong results with reducing airway inflammation, as well as bromelain, which is an enzyme found in pineapple. The stinging nettle is a plant with natural antihistamines, which can be extracted, consumed through tea, or absorbed a variety of other ways.
  2. Consuming locally produced honey on a regular basis is thought to build up your body’s immunity to local pollens. When bees transfer pollen from your region into honey and you eat it frequently, it can slowly inoculate you against regional pollens.

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  1. Since you spend a third of your life in bed sleeping, it is important to protect yourself from allergens in your bedroom. Dust mites are microscopic pests that live in warm, humid environments and feed on discarded human skin cells, therefore your mattress and pillow are an ideal location for them to live and thrive in. The excrement and buildup of dead dust mites can be the cause of allergic sensitivity. To protect yourself from being exposed to dust mites and bed bugs, consider purchasing OMI’s certified-organic cotton Bed-Bug and Dust-Mite Pillow and Mattress Barrier Covers. The tight micron weave prevents these pests from invading your mattress and multiplying, giving you peace of mind and a healthier night’s sleep. Here is a link to view more information about our barrier covers:

http://www.omimattress.com/Accessories.php#Barriers

 

The Dangers of the Foam Crib Mattresses

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During the in first years, infants and toddlers spend at least 50% of their time sleeping, so it is essential that the time is spent on a healthy and comfortable mattress. Here is a great article, “Keep Your Baby off that Foam Crib Mattress,” by Katherine Martinko from Green Home, that discusses the dangers of the foam used in many baby products such as crib mattresses, car seats and more.

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What do crib mattresses, cushioned car seats, and change tables all have in common? Yes, babies use them, but all of these items contain foam. This is problematic, since foam releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment. VOCs come from the variety of resins, catalysts, solvents, and adhesives that are used in the manufacturing process, and they continue to volatilize long after production.

Chronic exposures to low levels of VOCs have been linked in the past to infant allergies, asthma, and lung infections, but researchers have now done something different. They have measured the actual quantity of VOCs being emitted in a sleeping baby’s bedroom, and what they found is quite scary.

Researchers from the University of Texas, led by environmental engineer Brandon Boor, analyzed 20 new and used crib mattresses made from either polyurethane foam or polyester foam. In a bedroom-sized chamber with a heated steel cylinder to imitate the heat released by a sleeping infant’s body (which would speed up the release of VOCs), they compared measurements of VOCs within the room (10 feet away from the crib) and within the infant’s breathing zone (2.5 cm/1 in above the mattress).

According to Chemical & Engineering News, they found 30 different VOCs, including some that are classified as environmental pollutants and developmental disruptors. New mattresses released four times as many VOCs as old ones on average.

But most importantly, they found that VOCs were significantly higher in the infant’s breathing zone than in the middle of the room, which is serious when you consider that many infants sleep 12-14 hours a day in close proximity to foam.

The good news is that consumers don’t have to wait around for the industry to fix itself. There are alternative solutions that use latex, natural rubber, organic cotton, eucalyptus fibre, and/or coconut coir fillings, and are coated in organic cotton or wool, which are natural flame retardants. If you’re looking for a crib mattress, start by checking out this helpful list at Inhabitots. If you can’t afford a natural mattress, one of the study’s coauthors recommends setting aside a new mattress for six months before bringing it into the house, giving it time to off-gas sufficiently.

Check out our previous blog about OMI’s certified-organic crib mattresses, Providing a Safe Sleeping Environment.

For more OMI product information, click HERE

7 Natural Remedies to Fight the Flu and Seasonal Colds

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This year I have seen my share of germs and viruses attack our house, the majority of which are courtesy of my 5-year-old and her adventures at school.  So with all these colds and flu viruses flying around all over the place, I have gathered quite a list of great home remedies that help pull my family through the sick patches. Here are some of the best that I have found, and I want to share them with you!

Homemade Cough Syrup

Take a red onion; cut into quarter inch slices and restack with a dollop of raw local honey  in between each layer.  (The local honey will also help prevent allergies in springtime.) Allow to sit overnight.  In the morning you will have a syrup that not only helps get rid of the tickle in your throat but also helps you rest easy about not adding chemicals and medications into your system that you don’t need.

Garlic Tea

Cloves of garlic have been used for YEARS to help alleviate cold and flu systems. Garlic is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial. Simply cut 2-3 cloves of garlic, place into boiling water, and allow to steep for 10 minutes. For added taste use lemon juice, raw honey or ginger.  Ginger is also a great way to naturally help soothe tummy aches and digestive issues.

Onion Juice Earache Relief

One of the most effective remedies I have found for an earache is onions.  Take an onion and bake for about 15 minutes at 425° F (be sure to leave the skin on the onion, as it helps keep the juices inside while cooking.)  Let the onion sit until cool enough to touch then crush it in a bowl to extract the juice.  Using an eyedropper, place the warm juice in the ear.  This will usually help relieve the pain within a few minutes.

Warm Salt Water

Add a generous amount of salt to lukewarm water and mix well.  Gargle with the lukewarm salt-water mixture to help soothe your sore throat and promote healing.

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Hot Washcloths/Ice Packs

If you have sinus congestion, a great solution is to apply either hot or cold around the congested sinuses.  Take a damp washcloth and heat it for about 50 seconds in the microwave (be sure to test it first too make sure it is not to hot).  For a cold pack, you can use frozen vegetables/fruits or place a damp washcloth in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes.  Chose hot or cold, whichever feels more comfortable.

Water, Water, Water

Drink it, steam it, and soak in it! Keeping the fluids in is the best way to flush out toxins when you are sick. A comfortable way to help clean out your head is to run a hot shower, since the steam will help moisten the air around you, especially good for dry coughs. Lastly, when you are feeling body aches or muscle pain from the flu, try a nice hot bath to soothe aches and pains. Try throwing in some oils like tea tree or eucalyptus, to help speed up the healing process.

SLEEP!

Sometimes the thing that best helps beat the flu is time and rest. Allow your body time to rejuvenate and bring itself back to its usual healthy, energetic state.

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Stay healthy this germy season!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, just a mom, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using any of these remedies.