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Pests Begone

Hope your week is going splendid so far. Today is going to just be a listing of all sorts of natural remedies for pests that our families may face. Some you may have heard of before and others may be new.

Bed bugs.

These pesky vermin run rampant in my parent’s community, where we currently unfortunately live.  I have three natural remedies for this. However, only two of them can really be done by yourself.

First, pure peroxide. 100%. Spray the little buggers directly and they die. Only problem is that it only works with direct contact.

The second, and probably the best option is diatomaceous  earth. It’s powdered unicellular algae fossils.  You just have to sprinkle it around your floor boards. It breaks down their exoskeleton and dehydrates them. I know this also works on ants. It supposedly works on common garden pests and can be sprinkled on pets as an anti flea treatment and internally (with food grade only) for worms. I don’t know for sure about the garden or pets, but its worth a try. We’re buying some for prevention and to try for its numerous health benefits to humans.  We’re also going to give some to the boyfriend’s parents to try for their dog.

The third will require a professional, but it is the quickest way to get rid of them.  Heat. You will have to vacate your house for up to twenty four hours after removing a myriad of food, flammables, aerosols, and anything else they list. In addition to their list I suggest game systems, expensive electronics, vinyl records, and any precious non fabric family items that you adore. We were lucky to have a room where we could bag these and section them off for three months instead.

Lice

….they are gross, but not a sign of dirty hair. They actually only enjoy clean scalps. So don’t think of it as being dirty. It doesn’t help that they are passed around schools, prisons, and camps like wild fire.  Regardless, they are annoying no matter what kind of hair we have.

Whatever you do please do not use the chemical treatment you get at the store. It has a ton of toxins in it that are entirely unnecessary and damage your hair. Not to mention that it is way overpriced. If you want to get rid of lice there are much easier ways.

The best thing you can do is smother them and comb them out. To do this you’ll coat your hair with a substance (I’ll get to that in a moment) and then let it sit there for about thirty minutes before washing it out. Then you just comb out your hair.

What works best (http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/home-remedies-for-head-lice#4) is almond or olive oil (which is commonly found in the pantry or kitchen). If you don’t happen to use this there are a few alternatives, but be prepared to wash your hair several times due to the oil factor. These options from best to worst include vegetable oil, canola oil, mayonnaise, and peanut butter. I only list all the ones I know work because I know that there are times when money is so tight you have to just use what you have.  Anyway, if you suffocate the little buggers, they will die and then it’s just a matter of getting the eggs and nits out, (just like you’d have to do otherwise, but at a fraction of the cost.)

The link above does list some essential oils that one can use, but I know that not everyone has those readily available or can afford them. Nor have I tested those methods yet (and I hope I don’t have to -fingers crossed). So test them at your own risk.

Ants

I mentioned the diatomaceous earth earlier, but here are a few other tips and tricks that help waylay ants….though so far the food grade diatomaceous earth seems to be the best option I’ve seen.

Cinnamon, cucumber and cloves placed at points of entry are supposed to deter them, but it’s a short term solution. If you’re waiting to get something better it works as a bandaid but eventually your line will get broken. At least with diatomaceous earth its fine enough to spread under your floorboards and into cracks.

Borax and sugar works, but there are concerns and debates about how natural or toxic borax is….so do your research on borax before deciding if you really want this in your home.

Cockroaches

Diatomaceous earth works here. And Catnip is a natural deterrent. So are garlic and bay leaves.  But once again, a deterrent is more of a temporary solution than a permanent one.

Fleas

Diatomaceous earth, citrus oils and tinctures work as well when sprayed.

I haven’t actually tried this one, but cedar oils and shampoos are also supposed to be great natural flea deterrents and can be used for continuing treatment.

Mosquitoes

First of all change any standing water you may have like bird feeders at least once a week if not twice or more.

Second, if you love the grill toss some rosemary and sage. They will naturally help repel bugs and mosquitos when you cook out.

Marigolds are also good at deterring these pests.  It has a scent that they do not like.  The same goes for Tai Lemon Grass which contains citronella.

Moths

Place cedar or cedar oils on a cloth inside your closet. This is why many men’s clothing stores use cedar hangers for suits.

Homemade moth-repelling sachets can also be made using any of the following: bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, eucalyptus leaves, lavender, pepper corns or wormwood.

Dried lemon peels are also a natural moth deterrent – simply toss into clothes chest, or tie in cheesecloth and hang in the closet.

And there is my list of helpful ways to get rid of common pests. If I learn any more I’ll post about them here.

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Green Pediatrics: A World Full of Natural Treatments

In the first part we discussed what a green pediatrician is and talked about some of the hallmarks of their profession. We also discussed vaccines and their problems in relation to green pediatrics.  If you did not read the post there is a link to it here (insert blog link).

Today I want to talk about a few other things that relate to green pediatrics and our children’s overall health.

Childhood Allergies

Childhood allergies seem to be on the rise, just like childhood disease.  Whether it be seasonal, food, skin rashes, asthma, or respiratory problems, more children are acquiring these problems than ever before. As of 2007, as a nation, these disorders were affecting 35 million people in this country and we spend an estimated 6 billion a year in treatment. That’s not including productivity time lost due to appointments and such.

What is causing this rise? Well, the obvious culprits are pollutants in our environment and over stimulation to our immune system, due to these environmental factors. Unlike our ancestors, we are exposed to more allergens than ever before. Our immune systems were never intended to handle all of the toxins we meet in our daily lives.  It has caused us to become more sensitive to allergens, says Dr. Michael Rosenbaum in Growing Up Green.

Tips to combat allergies

  1. Limit your family’s exposure to controllable allergens like pet dander and tobacco smoke. I know I’ve had to work on this in my parents’ house. My father is not allowed to smoke anywhere but their bathroom due to my allergies and my mother’s health issues.
  2. If you can afford them, get high efficiency particulate air filters in every room of your house. This is something I want to work on once I get my own place.
  3. In humid areas use dehumidifiers to limit mold growth. We have to do this due to my allergies.
  4. You can purchase allergy proof bedding to reduce symptoms if you have consistent problems. If not, then regularly wash your linens in hot water.
  5. Wash stuffed animals as they can hold onto dander and allergens.
  6. Carpet is an enemy to anyone with allergies. Either vaccum regularly or try to get rid of them.
  7. Use non-toxic house hold cleaners.
  8. Talk to you pediatrician about natural supplements that can help with preventing allergies. Some of these include: probiotics and essential fatty acids.
  9. Neti pots are your friend….and if that won’t clear it…try this recipe to clear your sinuses with one: 1 drop peroxide, 1 drop apple cider vinegar, a pinch sea salt and baking soda, and boiled water that has been cooled to room temp. It hurts but it’s the only thing that clears my sinuses.

The Dirty Theory

The dirty theory proposes that the rise in all these health conditions has to do with not allowing our children’s immune systems to develop naturally.  This includes protecting them from everything dirty and overexposing them to antibiotics instead of allowing the immune system to do its job. Some of these toxic chemicals we use to clean our homes also destroy too many bacteria. We have become so germ phobic, with little to no need, that our immune systems don’t get their proper exercise.

There are tons of bacteria that are beneficial to our health. Our intestines would not work without some of the bacteria that live there and our body has to learn to tell the difference. That becomes harder when we don’t allow our bodies that opportunity.

If you would like to learn more about hygiene hypothesis or the dirty theory, there are tons of articles out there.

And if you would like to learn about helpful bacteria in the body, here is a link from Scientific American

Antibiotic Overload

We touched on this in the last article, but antibiotics are used way too often in modern society. A kid gets sick, the school wants them to immediately go to the doctor, get on meds, and come back to school. I know it’s inconvenient when your kid misses school, but pumping them full of meds that prevent their immune system from getting its workout isn’t the answer. Nor is sending them to school where they can infect more students.

This is not to say that antibiotics are bad. They are a great tool and they aren’t dangerous, but we do pay a price for using them too often.  The more we use antibiotics the more resistant our bodies become to them. If we overuse them, they won’t work as well when we really need them to.  Continuing this trend will most likely create superbugs that we can no longer treat.

It doesn’t help that they are encountering it in other items they eat and drink either. Milk and meat are pumped full of antibiotic due to our horrible farming practices.

Growing Up Green presents a few alternative options. I’ve posted a few of them on my Herbal Remedies page. The one I did not include was for colic as it was fairly intensive and meant looking at your diet and mental health. So, if you are struggling with colic in your baby you might look up colic in Growing up Green on Google Books if you just need to read that section.

I would also recommend looking up homeopathic and natural remedies whenever you can. I’m not saying to use them for serious conditions. Only that a cold or cough doesn’t need cough syrup when chamomile tea and honey will work just as well.  There are natural remedies made with organic, non-toxic products that you can make at home for cheap (and most of the time they work better than the overpriced stuff you buy at the store).  For example, burns can be treated with aloe vera plants, poison ivy can be treated with a tincture made of different plants. Or on a slightly less organic track, toothpaste can be used to make zits shrink.

Or if you’re not into making your own remedies I suggest looking up Boiron products. They are all natural holistic alternatives.

The Happy Pill

Just as antibiotics are over prescribed, so are meds for other mental health issues.  From ADHD to depression, the doctors these days just want to throw meds at the problem without diagnosing the underlying issue. As a college graduate with a Bachelor’s in psychology this really disgusts me and is a disservice to the profession, as well as those they serve.

If we just look for the underlying causes we won’t have to use medication.  Some problems like ADHD can be related to diet, while others may be rooted in past events and experiences in life.  Giving a child, or adult, a pill and hoping the problem goes away is like putting a band aide on a gaping wound.

Not to mention the side effects that these meds may have.  Unfortunately green medicine is fairly rare in psychology and mental disorders.  I really do wish that we would stop trending toward self-gratification and the quick fix.  Instead we’re putting children on meds that could damage their long term development because their minds and bodies are not fully developed.

I realize that some parents do not see an alternative, but there are solutions, you just have to look for them and find holistic doctors. It really is a choice and a lifestyle.  The problem can be vitamins, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or hormonal imbalances.  These are complex issues that simply cannot be cured or treated with a pill and there not be consequences.

Head Lice

We know it runs rampant through the school system at times. Or you might catch it from your child’s friend. I know I often had to treat myself for it. But very few people know that lice are actually attracted to clean hair, so don’t take the infestation as an insult. However, please don’t insult your body by using toxic chemicals to remove the pests when there are much better alternatives. Using agricultural pesticides on our scalp or those of our children does not sound like a good idea.

Some oils can be used to prevent lice, such as tea tree, rosemary, lemon and ylang-ylang.  If you already have it before you can work on prevention there are a couple of simple household products that work just as well if not better. You still need the lice comb though. Slathering your head with mayo , vegetable oil, or olive oil works great. I recommend vegetable oil as it is the easiest to get out of the hair. Just soak your child’s scalp and hair in the oil and cover it for about forty five minutes. The dense oil suffocates the pests and then you wash it out and nitpick just like you would otherwise.  Another preventative tool is to rinse your hair in apple cider vinegar at the end of a shower. It just takes about a fourth of a cup poured over the scalp. It makes it harder for the little buggers to latch on.

Growing Up Green recommends an oil mixture of tea tree, ylang-ylang, anise, rosemary, marjoram, sage and eucalyptus in a coconut oil base.  Mix it with a small amount of shampoo and leave it on for fifteen to thirty minutes then wash and repeat daily for a week.

These are just a few of the ways you can go green with your medical routine.

Blessed Be.