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Category Archives: allergies

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.

What does “hypoallergenic” mean?

mascara1HypoallergenicMascara

I was out shopping, looking for mascara, and noticed that a lot of products say “hypoallergenic” on them. It got me thinking, what does hypoallergenic really mean? Is it a material that’s used? Is there a certification for it? Less allergic than what? I was surprised at some of the answers I found.

As it turns out, our President Walt knows about this topic.

“Hypoallergenic is a word that was created by a small cosmetic company in the early 1960s, and was quickly adopted by the advertising industry to describe products that produce fewer allergic reactions.

The Greek prefix HYPO literally means “less” or “below,” so when a product is designated as hypoallergenic it means that it will conceivably trigger fewer allergic reactions in people who suffer from allergies.

The term does not relate to chemical exposures. The expression has no medical definition, and there is no certification process or organization that reviews whether a product using the word “hypoallergenic” can prove any lessening of allergic reactions.” – “Sleep Safe in a Toxic World”       page 22.

Hypoallergenic Shampoo 12oz-1

With some further research, I found that the use of the word “hypoallergenic” certainly doesn’t stop at cosmetics. It’s evolved with everything from bedding, cleaning supplies, shampoo even to pets. What a wide array of t items that can potentially be labeled “hypoallergenic”!

The frustrating thin, is that it allows companies to make you believe that you are buying a product that will reduce the severity of allergies or even prevent the chance of having an allergic reaction, when in fact there are no certifications for it. It can be used in any way by companies to market their products, and is one of the most commonly used greenwashing terms out there. (For more information on greenwashing, check out our blog HERE.)What does “hypoallergenic” mean?

“Hypoallergenic” is used to represent synthetic products and materials in a flattering light. For example, a polyester dust-mite cover may be of use in keeping dust mites at bay for allergy sufferer, but that’s only part of the story. Such products can also expose users to chemical offgassing and other hazards. Choose certified materials and products for relief from allergy symptoms and chemical exposure. –Lifekind website (http://www.lifekind.com/index.php/site_organic_products?sub=site_organic_ask)

Next time you see the word“hypoallergenic” on a product, ask yourself, “What makes this product hypoallergenic?” You may find that no measures are actually taken to make this loosely used marketing word true.

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