Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Herbal Flea Repellent: Aromatic Pet-Bedding Sachets

Hello Everyone!  Got cats and/or dogs?  Got fleas? (Sure you do - it's summer!)  Don't want to use chemicals on your pets or in your home?  I don't blame you.  Today, Bandit (my #1 feline buddy pictured below) and I are going to talk about making and using herbal pet bedding sachets that can help keep fleas out of your pet's sleeping areas.  Aromatic herbal sachets are just one of many chemical-free items that should be in your arsenal in the battle against an invasion of fleas/ticks . . . in addition to natural flea/tick powders, herbal shampoos, carpet powders, etc.



(Bandit talking) . . . "Hi there humans, my name is Bandit, and this morning I was sleeping peacefully on my favorite fluffy towel when mom decided to put a fresh-made herbal flea-repellent sachet in my bed, and, of course, made me pose for her photo (see me below - still snoozing)!  But, I didn't mind.  My bed smells mildly of sage, rosemary, thyme, and catnip (my favorite) and there's nary a flea in sight - yay for me!  You see that book resting on my side?  My smart, herbalist mom wrote that!  It's her best-selling book, Naturally Bug-Free: 75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths & Other Pesky Insects" (Storey Publishing, c2016).  In it she's got loads of herbal recipes to keep mosquitoes & ticks off her fellow humans and irritating fleas & ticks off us cats (and dogs) - safely and effectively.  It's an educational read and a bargain at only $10.95!"  

Okay . . . Bandit's said her piece, now back to me talking . . . 

Herbal Pet-Bedding Sachets

Whether your furry friend sleeps in a blanket-filled crate or box; in a carpet-covered cat condo; or on a fleece-covered beanbag or soft pillow, tucking small bags or sachets of herbal blends in and around bedding materials is an effective way to safely deter irritating pests (fleas/mites/ticks) while keeping your pet and its sleeping area smelling fresh.  Pets often have several sleeping or napping areas, so place 2 or more sachets in every location.

NOTE:  Immediately after making the sachets, the essential oil fragrance (if you opt to add it) will be at its most potent, but it will mellow dramatically within 24 hours as it is absorbed by the herbs, so don't worry about overwhelming your adult dog with a lingering aroma.  Dogs under 1 year old, under 20 pounds, and cats, in particular, are quite sensitive to both the pungency and naturally occurring chemicals in essential oils, so when making sachets for young or small dogs and ALL cats, OMIT the essential oils altogether.  Just make the sachets using pure dried herbs.  

General Instructions for recipe belowTo make the sachets, you'll need 6, 4" x 6" drawstring muslin bags or large "seal and brew" tea bags, a large bowl, and a mixing spoon.  

Combine the herbs in the bowl, then add the essential oil (for adult dogs only - over 20 lbs), and stir again.  Spoon approximately 1 cup of the mix into each bag.  Label and date the bags using a permanent market.  Store leftover mixture at room temperature in an airtight container away from heat and light, and use within 1 year.

To use the sachets, place two or more bags in your pet's bedding area (the larger the pet, the more bags). Squeeze the bags every couple of days or so to release more scent.  Recharge bags by adding one drop of essential oil once per week, if desired.  Replace the herbs every 2 months or so, or make new bags (they do get soiled over time).

Below is one of my favorite pet-bedding recipes, "Catnip Fair".  You can find it on page 133 of my book.  Bandit likes this recipe, too😻

Catnip Fair

Ingredients:
- 2 cups dried catnip leaves & flowers (or just leaves)
- 2 cups dried sage leaves
- 1 cup dried rosemary leaves
- 1 cup dried thyme leaves
- 15 drops rosemary essential oil (OMIT for cats, dogs under 1 year old and all dogs under 20 lbs)

Bonus Use:  This blend can also be used to repel pests in kitchen and bathroom cabinets, clothing drawers, armoires, and closets.  Feel free to double the essential oil amount so that the sachets have extra potency!

My two favorite companies from which to purchase organic dried herbs are: Mountain Rose Herbs www.mountainroseherbs.com and Jean's Greens www.jeansgreens.com  Both excellent companies with a rapid turnover of stock!



NOTE: This blog was written by Stephanie Tourles and all information and recipe were excerpted and adapted from her book, "Naturally Bug-Free" (Storey Publishing, 2016).  The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author.  Ms. Tourles disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Essential Tick-Repellent Clothing Drops

Hey Everyone!  It's finally spring . . . even here in Maine!  And what accompanies the welcomed longer days and warmer temps?  Bugs!  Not just annoying mosquitoes and black flies (the Maine "state bird"), but also nasty, disease-carrying ticks.  What to do?  How do you enjoy the great outdoors while being protected and comfortable?  Well, if you're like me (with both delicate skin and a sensitive nose, plus concern for the environment), you'll want to avoid using chemical-laden, "DEET-based" insect repellents whenever possible.  Why?  Let me share some of the history and facts about DEET . . . 

Developed in the 1940s by the U.S. Army for protection of military personnel in insect-infested areas and registered in the U.S. for use by the general public in the mid-1950s, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) is one of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought, conventional bug sprays for personal use.  It is a colorless, oily liquid with a mild odor and is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects, including mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas, ticks, and other small insects.

DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the U.S. population each year.  Its use has increased dramatically since the 1970s as an aid to protect against Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other tick-borne illnesses, as well as West Nile and Zika viruses.  Although it clearly works as intended, it is not safe - even the EPA, as well as the product package label, says that you should wash it off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in, and not spray it directly on your face.  A known eye irritant, it can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering (which is what it does to my skin - within 10 minutes of application).

A mosquito repellent containing 25% DEET - such as "Deep Woods OFF" - cannot be applied on or near plastic, leather, synthetic fabrics, watch crystals, or painted or varnished surfaces, including automobiles. Why?  It breaks them down and/or etches their surface!  If this chemical, which in addition to being toxic to insects is also toxic to birds and aquatic life, can damage plastic, leather, and glass, then what is it doing to you?  Keep this in mind . . . your skin is your largest organ and it can absorb up to 60% of what you put on it.

So . . . if you want to avoid DEET AND enjoy the outdoors, while keeping bugs at bay, then you need to find a chemical-free repellent.  Guess what?  I wrote an entire book loaded with recipes that are easy to make, kind to your skin and nose, and completely non-toxic when used as directed.  It's called "Naturally Bug-Free:  75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths & Other Pesky Insects" (Storey Publishing, c2016).  It's only $10.95 folks - a bargain for a wealth of information!  Available from www.amazon.com and  www.mountainroseherbs.com and other retailers of quality books.

Today, I'm going to share with you one of my favorite recipes for repelling ticks - which are out in FORCE this spring in Maine!!  This powerful recipe is to be applied to clothing, not your skin.  Even though it is natural and of plant origin, and consists primarily of lavender essential oil (one of the most gentle and safe essential oils) it is too strong for topical application.  If you've never tried your hand at making natural repellents, please give this simple recipe a whirl.  You've got nothing to lose - except annoying bugs - and everything to gain!


Essential Tick-Repellent Clothing Drops

This formulation combines 100% undiluted essential oils for a potent aroma that most humans find appealing, but ticks and flying insects absolutely abhor.  When applied by the drop - to clothing, shoes, or accessories only - not your skin - it creates an aromatic aura that repels these nasty pests for hours.

CAUTION:  This is an aromatherapeutically concentrated formula, so use only by the drop as directed.  Do not use with children under 3 years of age except on the lower portion of their pants.

Ingredients:
- 2 drops EACH of the following essential oils:  geranium, catnip, and peppermint
- 1 scant tablespoon lavender essential oil
- 1/2-ounce dark glass bottle with screw cap
- glass dropper with rubber top to dispense blend

To Make:
1.  Add the geranium, catnip, peppermint, and lavender essential oils to the storage container.  Screw the cap (not dropper top) on the bottle and shake vigorously to blend.  Allow the oil to synergize (or chemically combine for maximum effectiveness) for 1 hour.

2.  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 2 years.  DO NOT store the bottle with a dropper top, as the strong vapors will degrade the rubber tip.  Store ONLY with a screw cap.  Dispense with a dropper.

Application:  Shake well before using.  Apply a few drops to your hat, bandanna or neck scarf, lower leg and hem of pants, hem of untucked shirt, cuffs or ends of shirt sleeves, inside shirt collar, and on socks.  Reapply up to 3 times per day.

NOTE:  The recipe in this blog was excerpted from the book, "Naturally Bug-Free", by Stephanie Tourles.  The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Herbal Aspirin Salve - Nature's Pain Reliever

Hello Everyone . . . although the calendar says mid-April, here in northern, coastal Maine, Mother Nature gave us sleet and a wee bit of snow today!  Not very spring-like!  And, let me tell you, with all this damp cold, the small amount of arthritis that I have in my fingers and toes is acting up and my phalanges (digits) are complaining.  What to do?  Well, today I'm going to give you a remedial herbal recipe that will ease arthritic flare-ups, as well as comfort gout, backache, and general muscular achiness anywhere in the body.  

I went through my blogging files, and apparently I posted this recipe back in 2013, but I think it bears repeating - along with educational herb photos for easy identification should you find them in the wild or on someone's herb farm.  It's easy to make and smells pleasingly  herbaceous and slightly sweet.  If you own a copy of my book, Hands-On Healing Remedies: 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies (Storey Publishing, c2012), then you'll find the recipe on pages 180-181.  I hope you give it a try . . . it can deliver much relief from your physical aches and pains - anytime of year😉


HERBAL ASPIRIN SALVE - Nature's Pain Reliever

When you combine meadowsweet flowers, known as "herbal aspirin," with the flowers of arnica, the "aches and pains herb," - in olive oil - the result is a rather powerful infused oil that boasts astringent, antirheumatic, analgesic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties.  When massaged into a joint exhibiting gout or arthritis symptoms; general muscular aches and strains/backache; carpal tunnel; tendonitis; bursitis; new bruises; or muscular tension headache, Herbal Aspirin Salve - or as I like to call it "comfort in a jar" - will temporarily relieve the pain, inflammation, redness, and stiffness.  I find it to be pure "salve-ation" for my sore hands and wrists after a couple of hours spent hoeing weeds in the garden or working a full day with foot reflexology clients - it's a God-send!!

Contraindications:  Please do not apply to open wounds.  This formula contains a low percentage of salicylic acid - derived from the meadowsweet flowers - which acts as a natural analgesic.  DO NOT USE if you are allergic to aspirin.

Meadowsweet flowers (Filipendula ulmaria)

Arnica flowers (Arnica montana)

Ingredients:
- 1 cup dried or 2 cups freshly wilted (for 48 hours) meadowsweet flowers
- 1 cup dried or 2 cups freshly wilted (for 48 hours) arnica flowers
- 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 - 1,000 IU vitamin E oil capsules or 10, 200 IU capsules
- 3-4 tablespoons beeswax (use the greater amount for a firmer salve)

Equipment Needed:  2-quart saucepan or double boiler, stirring utensil, candy or yogurt thermometer, strainer, fine filter (muslin or paper coffee filter), funnel, glass or plastic storage container (for the infused oil), glass or plastic jars or tins (for the salve)

Prep Time:  4 hours to infuse the oil, plus 20 minutes to make the salve and 30 minutes for it to thicken

Yield:  Approximately 2 1/2 cups of infused oil and 1 1/4 cups of salve

Storage:  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application:  Up to 3 times per day - massage into affected areas


Preparing The Herbal Infused Oil:  If you're using freshly wilted meadowsweet or arnica flowers, strip the flowers from their stems along with any small bits of attached leaves prior to adding to the pan. It's okay to add 10% chopped leaves to the flowers, if you wish.  Discard the stems.  Combine the meadowsweet and arnica flowers with the olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan or double boiler, and stir thoroughly to blend.  The mixture should look like a thick floral soup.  Bring the mixture to just shy of a simmer, between 125 F and 135 F.  Do not let the oil actually simmer - it will degrade the quality of your infused oil.  Do not put the lid on the pot.

Allow the herbs to macerate or soak in the oil over the low heat for 4 hours.  Check the temperature every 30 minutes or so with a thermometer and adjust the heat accordingly.  If you're using a double boiler, add more water to the bottom pot as necessary, so it doesn't dry out.  Stir the infusing mixture at least every 30 minutes or so, as the herb bits tend to settle to the bottom.  ALWAYS use a kitchen timer - it will keep you from forgetting what you are doing and overheating your mixture!

After 4 hours, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  While the oil is still warm, carefully strain it through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a fine filter such as muslin cloth or, preferably, a paper coffee filter, then restrain again if necessary to remove all debris.  Squeeze the herbs to extract as much of the precious oil as possible.  Discard the marc (or spent herbs).

Add the vitamin E oil and stir to blend.  The resulting infused oil blend will be golden-green in color, or darker - if you used a super dark green olive oil.  Pour the finished oil into a storage container, then cap, label, and store in a dark cabinet.

Preparing The Salve:  Combine 1 cup of the infused oil with the beeswax in a small saucepan or double boiler, and warm over low heat until the beeswax is just melted.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring a few times to blend.  Pour into plastic or glass jars or tins, cap, label, and set aside for 30 minutes to thicken.


NOTE:  This recipe was written by Stephanie Tourles and excerpted and adapted from her book, Hands-On Healing Remedies, Storey Publishing, c2012.  The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.











Sunday, March 18, 2018

Beauty & The Body Brush: The Health Benefits of Dry Brushing

Happy Spring (Almost) Everyone!  Sure doesn't feel like spring here in northern, coastal Maine . . . brrr!  The ground is white, thickly covered with crusty snow, and the wind is brisk!  I'm thinking spring, though!  I don't know about you, but by the time the end of winter rolls around, the skin on my legs, arms, and back is displaying signs of dryness - feels tight and itchy at times, too.  All that dehydrating, warm, indoor heated air and exposure to the outdoor cold, arid environment is enough to suck the life out of my skin, especially if I've neglected to give it proper care throughout the cold season.

Today, I want to talk to you about how to get the skin on your body in tip-top shape by adopting a traditional body-brushing technique.  And, if you perform this routine several times per week, I can almost guarantee that you'll never suffer from dry skin again!

As a licensed holistic esthetician, one of my favorite health-promoting rituals, which I encourage my clients to follow at least three times per week, and one that I enjoy nearly every morning, just prior to showering, is body brushing or skin brushing (sometimes also referred to as dry brushing because it's performed on dry skin).

Over the course of an average day, your skin eliminates more than a pound of waste, including perspiration.  In fact, about one third of all the body's impurities are excreted this way.  If your skin is not carrying out normal elimination due to basic neglect of hygiene; illness; dry skin buildup; medication side effects; repeated application of mineral oil-based, pore-clogging body lotions or waterproof chemical-based sunscreens; or nutritional deficiencies; then your kidneys, large intestine, liver, and lungs may be operating on a sub-par level.

Dry brushing - a health-enhancing, age-old tradition undergoing a renaissance in today's wellness spas - takes only about five minutes before showering or bathing.  It works by stimulating the sebaceous glands, thereby encouraging natural lubrication of your skin; removing the top layer of dead cells, leading to significant exfoliation and skin that's polished and silky; improving circulation and increasing blood flow to the surface of the body; and activating the entire lymphatic system, thereby aiding in natural detoxification.

Another benefit that I've noticed is improved tone in the "jiggle-prone" parts of my body:  upper arms and inner thighs.  In addition, my complexion is rosier, body lotions and oils penetrate more easily; and - a bonus I didn't expect - it doesn't take me 30 minutes to wake up in the morning, like it used to!  For me, dry brushing is equivalent to a shot of espresso.  Not bad for a five-minute beauty treatment!

Though you can indulge yourself at a high-end spa and sign up for their luxurious dry brushing treatment, the benefits will be short-lived.  Why?  Because ideally you need to perform this treatment daily, or at least three times per week - the benefits are cumulative.  You'll simply feel better and your skin will function better the more frequently you dry brush at home.

If you have my best-selling book, Organic Body Care Recipes (Storey Publishing 2007), the procedure will be outlined on pages 36-38, and you can also find it in my soon-to-be-published book, Pure Skin (Storey Publishing, September 2018) - available for pre-order now through www.amazon.com. But, for those of you who don't own a copy of "Organic Body Care Recipes", I will detail the procedure for you below.  Here's a photo of what a good body brush looks like, and you should be able to find one at a bath and body shop, better health food store, or whole food grocer.
Dry Brushing 101

It will take your skin a while to get used to being brushed.  Here's how to do it:  Using a medium-soft, natural-fiber brush the size of your palm, preferably with an 8" to 10" handle, simply brush your entire body - don't skip any areas except your face, crotch (and breasts, if you're a woman) - for five minutes or so, depending on body size.  Do not brush hard - you'll have to start very gently at first (even more so if you have very sensitive skin) and work your way up to more vigorous brushing.  Never scrub, however, your skin is NOT the tub!  Always remember to brush toward your heart as much as possible.
Begin by brushing your hands, including the "webs" or area between the fingers, then work upward to your arms, underarms, neck, chest, and upper back.  Next move on to each leg, beginning with the feet and working upward toward the groin (but not actually brushing your delicate private areas), buttocks, lower back, and sides.  End at your stomach, using a spiral motion radiating from your right to your left to brush this area.  That's it!

You'll feel wonderfully invigorated when you're finished, and your skin will glow.  If you're just beginning, your skin may be a bit red immediately afterward, but as it adjusts and becomes more acclimated to the treatment, only a pinkish tinge (depending on your pigmentation) will remain for about five minutes until circulation calms.  If your skin remains red or pink for a longer period, or feels irritated, then either the brush bristles are too firm or you're brushing way too hard.  Note:  Avoid dry brushing altogether if your skin is sunburned, windburned, rashy, or otherwise irritated.

As a final step, jump in the tub or shower and bathe as usual.  All of the dead skin you just loosened will be rinsed away.  Afterward, be sure to pat - not rub - your skin until it's almost dry, and then apply your favorite body oil or moisturizer - it will sink right in because there's no layer of dead, dry skin to block it's beneficial nourishment!  It's a good idea to wash your body brush with mild soap and water every week or so to keep it free of odor and skin debris.  I hope you'll try dry brushing, it'll make you feel oh-so-good!

For more information about me, my books, events, podcasts, and to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and sign up for my monthly blog, please visit my website www.stephanietourles.com




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"One Smart Smoothie" - The Ultimate Health Booster

Greetings Health Seekers!  Did you put "get healthier" on your list of New Year's Resolutions?  I did, and most folks do, even those that tend to eat right and exercise regularly.  You can never be TOO healthy, plus, we all backslide at times - we're only human, right?

In today's blog, I'm going to share with you one of my favorite smoothie recipes called, "One Smart Smoothie".  I call it a "longevity elixir" because it is packed with long-life promoting nutrients.  You can find it on page 148 of my best-selling book, "Raw Energy In A Glass: 126 Nutrition-Packed Smoothies, Green Drinks, and Other Satisfying Raw Beverages to Boost Your Well-Being" (c2014, Storey Publishing).  It's thick, fruity, filling, super energizing - the perfect way to start your day off on a healthy and delicious note.  Be forewarned that it contains spirulina, which can have a bit of a fishy taste to the uninitiated, but when camouflaged with sweet, fresh orange juice and blueberries, its flavor is barely noticeable (or you can reduce the amount if it bothers you).  I hope you enjoy this smoothie as much as I do.  With regular consumption, you're sure to see radiant, glowing, and strong hair, skin, and nails, within a month or so, plus your vision and arthritic joints will greatly benefit from the high concentrations of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, such as anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and carotenoids contained within this blend.  Here's to your health and beauty!  Drink up!

In the photo below, this smoothie is the dark purple one on the far left . . . 


One Smart Smoothie
Its hue is a deep purple and it's bursting with tangy blueberry and orange flavors that mask the strong taste of spirulina.  Every ingredient in this smoothie is geared toward stimulating circulation and blood flow throughout the body and keeping arterial walls flexible, which promotes lifelong cardiovascular health, clear vision, and clarity of thought, plus vitality and stamina.  NOTE:  To avoid temporarily staining your teeth and tongue a dark bluish-purple, brush your teeth immediately after consuming.

Ingredients:  
- Juice of 3 oranges, tangerines, or tangelos
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil, unfiltered preferred
- 2 teaspoons spirulina or wild blue-green algae powder
- 2 teaspoons eleuthero root powder (try www.mountainroseherbs.com)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
- Pinch of sea salt

Directions: 
1.  Put the orange juice, blueberries, flaxseed oil, spirulina, eleuthero, cayenne, and salt in a blender and puree until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the juice of another orange or some water if you find it too thick.

2.  Pour into glasses or insulated mugs.  Be sure to "chew" each tart-sweet and fiber-rich sip, mixing well with your saliva so that it digests with ease, or savor slowly by eating with a spoon.

Yield:  2 servings

A Good Source Of: blood-building iron and chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins B and C, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, trace minerals, protein, omega-3 and gamma-linolenic (GLA) fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, natural sugars, and fiber


Note:  The information in this blog is true and complete to the best of the author's knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.  Recipe used with permission from the book, "Raw Energy In A Glass" by Stephanie Tourles (c2014, Storey Publishing).