Natural Remedies: Bay Leaf Tea

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(“Camellia Brand”)

I have previously spoken about the benefits of using natural remedies; in light of this, I will be going into more depth about the advantages of bay leaf tea, and sharing the means of preparing this form of treatment. There are many different types of bay leaves, which many people use to treat conditions such as diabetes, indigestion, colds, infections, and pain (Saba). I think that in a culture where chemical-based medications are prevalent, we should incorporate natural remedies into our treating of minor ailments — especially since these organic options are readily available throughout most parts of the world, and are better for the environment. Alongside the advantages to basic health conditions, bay leaf tea can also be used as in the field of skincare: “[b]eing rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, bay leaf offers various benefits to your skin and has been used in herbal medicine for this purpose” (Saba). As well, “[b]ay leaf helps to de-stress your skin, thus preventing the occurrence of wrinkles and skin outbreaks” (Saba). On various occasions, I have consumed bay leaf tea. As a result, I felt very refreshed, as this product also benefits the immune system. Since this tea is a very easy method of switching to natural products, I think that more people should be made know of this alternative.

Steps to prepare bay leaf tea:

  1. Fill a pot with 2 cups of water, and place 3-5 bay leaves into the water.
  2. Bring the water to boiling point for 15 minutes.
  3. Pour into a mug and consume.
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Wooden Hair Brush

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(“DIY and Crafts Magazine”)

There are numerous ways one can switch to using more natural products through one’s daily life, though one interesting idea I have come across is using wooden hair brushes. This product has tremendous environmental benefits, as “… [they are] crafted from bamboo, which is a sustainable resource – it rapidly regrows after being harvested, and it can grow in damaged and soil depleted soil” (Kate). The environmental benefits are incredibly reassuring, as hair brushes made of conventional plastics do not easily decompose — creating a fairly significant downside. Aside from the ecological advantages, these brushes also aid in the health of one’s hair. I have recently started using one made of bamboo, and have found that it is softer on my scalp and decreases my hair’s static and frizziness. The wooden qualities of the brush also help to “naturally condition your hair, and evenly distribute your hair’s natural oils down the hair shaft” (Kate). Alongside my regular hair care routine, I especially enjoy using this brush after I wash my hair, as it results is less breakage. I would definitely recommend using wooden hair brushes in exchange for conventional alternatives, as there are far more benefits for both the hair and the environment. This product is readily available, since it can be purchased at virtually any store that carries hair products. I personally found mine at Marshall’s at a very reasonable price. In the process of switching to natural lifestyle alternatives, this is truly an easy and affordable change that possesses many advantages.

Rice Water

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(Paiella)

For quite a while now, I have been searching for natural alternatives to conventional hair and skin care products. Recently, a friend of mine has informed me of the benefits of rice water in regards to skin and hair, and I have been motivated to try it out for myself. For clarification, rice water is “the water remaining in the pot of boiled rice, [and] has been used for centuries by women as a hair and skin treatment and even taken internally for health benefits” (Nelson). My hair and skin became significantly softer after I applied this product, and I highly recommend it in exchange for commercial alternatives. I would suggest using breeds such as wild and balsamic rice as opposed to minute rice, since these breeds produce better results (considering that they are more raw). The environmental setbacks associated with rice water are virtually nonexistent, given that rice occurs naturally on the earth. Here are the steps I have conducted to obtain the best outcome:

  1. Begin by rinsing and drying the rice of choice.
  2. Cook the rice using one’s regular methods conducted when preparing this meal.
  3. After it has been cooked, drain the rice (which can be eaten at a later time) and spoon in four to five tablespoons of the water onto wet hair; afterward, rinse it out. For skin care, soak the water onto an applicator — such as a cotton ball — and apply it to one’s face.

Aloe Vera

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(Sleeper)

While I have not always had a dedication for natural products, one of the plant-derived remedies that has been part of my life for an incredibly long time is aloe vera. “Aloe vera, sometimes described as a “wonder plant,” is a short-stemmed shrub. Aloe is a genus that contains more than 500 species of flowering succulent plants” (Nordqvist). Along with coconut oil, aloe has come to be one of my favourite natural skincare alternatives, as it also possesses a vast amount of healing properties: It can be used to treat burns and skin irritations, cold sores, constipation, inflammation, and diabetes; as well, it is a known moisturizer and antioxidant, and can both boost the immune system and help with digestion (Axe). I have used this remedy as a facial moisturizer and a treatment for sunburns with excellent results. In previous posts, I have spoken about the setbacks of using chemically-based products for the skin, in which skin dryness and irritation were common themes; aloe vera is an exceptional alternative to these conventional products, and they preserve the well-being of both our skin and the Earth. “Listed as one of NASA’s top air-improving plants, the fantastic Aloe works much like the Snake Plant – it emits oxygen at night, making for a more restful slumber” (Nooralvandi). This plant can be purchased in the form of skincare products that possess it as a main ingredient, including sunburn-treatment gels, as well as in many foods and drinks such as juices. As a simpler alternative, one can buy an aloe vera house plant, and derive the gel straight from the plant. Currently, I possess many such plants in my house, and given that their lifespans can be as long as twelve years, they are substantially cheaper than continually buying skin products as they run out (Maria). These plants can be found at virtually any greenhouse and are very easy to use: One must simply tear off and break open one of the leaves and apply the gel found inside to one’s skin. I think that it is very amazing that a common house plant can be used in such a vast amount of contexts, and that it is incredibly easy to care for. The fact that this product is an actual plant speaks to the validity of its natural properties, and given that it is a part of nature illustrates how its presence in society is not of particular harm to the Earth; this idea makes it all the more reason to incorporate aloe into our daily lives. While one is able to consume this plant for its medicinal properties, it is important to keep in mind that it should not be eaten every day for an extended amount of time, as “[l]ong-term use can lead to loss of electrolytes, especially potassium” (Dawn). While keeping these restrictions in mind, aloe can be incorporated into many foods, such as salads and smoothies (Dawn). I personally have not ever eaten aloe, but the tremendous results of doing so within reason are definitely something I will keep in mind for the future. Aloe has always played a significant role in my life, and I feel that it should be more readily used in Western society; It contains the benefits of conventional beautifying products and remedies for minor ailments — without the added stress on the environment from chemically-based alternatives.

Coconut Oil

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(Lush)

The chemicals present in conventional skin and hair care products often are disregarded by the majority of consumers, but can have numerous negative affects to both ourselves and the environment. Natural alternatives, however, can produce much of the same results as these chemical-based options while being environmentally-friendly. For quite a while, I have been incorporating coconut oil, and products that are based on this substance, into my skin and hair care routine. In regards to skin treatment, I have been very impressed by how well coconut oil works as both a makeup remover and a moisturizer. “Coconut oil melts on the skin as soon as you apply it, without leaving any kind of residues. It easily seeps into the skin pores, moisturizing deeply and thoroughly” (Bright). In previous times, I have used Clean and Clear skin care, and while I received adequate results, I begun to notice that the product had been bleaching areas on virtually all of the cloths it came into contact with. This deeply concerned me, and made me wonder what I was actually putting onto my face — and how this would affect the environment — thus, motivating me to make the switch to a more natural alternative. “Pure, unrefined, virgin coconut oil is one of the most natural products available today. For one thing, it is highly stable on account of being over 85% saturated oil, so it does not require any additives or preservatives. Secondly, coconuts are still a GMO free item…” (Bright). One of the major benefits to this form of skin care is that it is healthy for the environment, especially due to its absence of genetically modified organisms. While this oil is exceptional for the skin, it is also incredibly beneficial for the hair. I have been using a hair-care product that’s primary ingredient is coconut oil; I have found that it both softens my hair and decreases the amount of time it takes for me to curl my hair — which was an unexpected bonus. As well, I found it to be an excellent method of reducing my hair’s frizziness, and it did not leave residues, unlike many of the chemical-based alternatives I have used in the past. Overall, coconut oil is by far one of my favourite natural products, and I highly recommend it for its beneficial results and safety for the environment.

Honey

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(Peterson)

In previous posts, I have spoken about the advantages of using products with natural ingredients, as well as natural remedies; I will now be going into more depth on one specific ingredient, and how its presence in our daily lives can improve our health exponentially. Honey is commonly incorporated within many foods and drinks, but is often overlooked as a healing agent and a performance enhancement. I feel that honey is a great treatment for minor ailments, and my family and I use it quite often with successful results. This ingredient can be used alongside conventional medications to treat conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, throat irritation, wounds, and burns; it also known to act as an anti-bacterial, probiotic, and immune system strengthening agent, as well as an aid in preventing cancer and heart disease (Herrington). I find it very interesting how a simple and redly-available ingredient can be used in such a variety of health-promoting fashions, and although it has been used vastly throughout history, its presence has been deemphasized in exchanged for harmful chemicals. Our society should work to bring back these natural ingredients, and make them norms within Western culture, since their absence is simply caused by the introduction of newer technologies — even as many of them are incredibly potent and harmful both to ourselves and the environment. As honey can be used as a healer, it can also be used within the practices of athletic activities: “Ancient Olympic athletes would eat honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. This has now been verified with modern studies, showing that it is superior in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time than other sweeteners” (Herrington). This is one use of honey that I was completely unaware of, and I find it fascinating that it has been confirmed through scientific studies; these tests prove that the many benefits of natural products are, in fact, accurate and should be more widely used. The incorporation of honey in the many outlined approaches allows for the same benefits as chemical alternatives, and given that it is made by a natural means, it allows for the environment to remain unharmed. I think that this is especially important given that Earth Day has recently passed, which reminds us of our obligation to the health of our planet. When used both in and out of its conventional applications, honey aids in our overall well-being while keeping the health of the environment in mind.

Genetically Modified Foods

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(“Farmer Framed”)

As modern technologies are becoming increasingly popular, the uses of natural products have significantly decreased — despite the fact that these new alternatives have countless ramifications to both personal health and the environment. Though the public may not be fully educated on the subject, grocery stores are filled with genetically modified organisms — making up 80% of processed foods (Lombardo). Even as they are purchased in mass quantities, these foods are difficult to distinguish from foods produced through natural means since it is not required by law that these foods be labeled as such (Kannall). By definition, “[g]enetically modified foods are biologically altered foods” (Kannall). The purchase of organic foods, as well as growing one’s own food, is the most evident way of preventing the consumption of these products, and I feel that it is important for the general public to be informed on the subject of genetically modified organisms, since there are numerous risks associated with them. We all have a responsibility as consumers to do everything in our power to protect both ourselves and the environment, and I believe that society has disregarded this responsibility for convenience. “Ever since the introduction of GMO foods, the amount of childhood food allergies has risen significantly” (Lombardo); the betterment of personal safety, especially when it concerns children, should be a high priority in our culture. The risks also apply to the environment, in that pollens from these modified crops can contaminate adjacent plants, thereby, creating organisms such as weeds that have the same type of resistances bread into the DNA of these foods (Lombardo). As well, “[g]enetically modified crops are often sprayed with powerful pesticides and herbicides, and are fertilized with chemical fertilizers. These chemicals then contaminate the environment by traveling through the air; they leach into the ground, where they end up in fresh-water sources” (Kannall). When weighing the outcomes of both options, I do not feel that creating plants with desired traits is worth the long-term ramifications of environmental contamination and added allergens; natural and organic alternatives are the safest products in my opinion, in the interest of health, should become normality within society.

The Benefits of Natural Remedies

(Flores)

The use of natural products in combating illness has been used for centuries, although their use has become increasingly unpopular in comparison to conventional medicines. Through the adoption of these modern medical practices, we had unnecessarily abandoned an incredibly beneficial method of healing ourselves. I feel that traditional medicines should be used in cases where they will have the same, if not a better, effect on our well-being; this is especially important to me, as we are living in a world of increasing awareness in regards to the impact of what we are exposed to, as well as what we expose to the environment. “Over the counter medicines contain several ingredients that attack the intended ailments however, it does not stop there. Such medications affect your other functions with their side effects” (“The Benefits of Natural Home Remedies.”). I have been making an effort as of late to encorpoate natural remedies such as green teas in treating my minor illnesses and ailments, and especially appreciate the lack of side effects associated with this form of natural medicine. “…[I]f natural home remedies survived for no one knows how long, it is surely give effect in the easiest, fastest, safest, and cheapest way” (“The Benefits of Natural Home Remedies”); it is still incredibly important to follow the orders of doctors regarding serious medical conditions, but as for common illnesses such as minor colds, I enjoy the use of natural alternatives alongside conventional remedies. It is also beneficial to the environment to use these remedies, as when certain conversational medications enter water sources, the breeding practices of many aquatic species are quite negatively affected and, in extreme cases, these organisms become extinct. In the interests of both humans and the environment, natural remedies provide many benefits and far less ramifications than that of conventional medications, which fuels my strive to adopt these practices.

Organic Food

(Lomelino) 

The choices we make on a daily basis regarding topics as simple as food options can aid in the overall well-being of not only ourselves, but also the environment. Organic foods are a perfect example of this: “Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution” (Hensrud). Many environment disasters, such as pollution and pesticide-caused species extinctions can be combated through consuming these products as opposed to foods raised using conventional means. Though there are no apparent changes in nutrient levels, purchasing these alternatives provides a knowledge that harmful pesticides and hormones will not be present in the foods we eat on a daily basis, preventing various health risks associated with these factors (Hensrud). The downfall of choosing organic foods is that there is an increase in price in comparison to conventional foods; however, the benefits of these options far outweigh this setback, in that dangerous chemicals and hormones will not be produced, thus, aiding in the planet’s preservation.

Natural Soap

Healthy skin can be achieved through the use of organic body soap, while simultaneously aiding in the preservation of the environment. “Organic ingredients are grown without chemicals and pesticides, both of which can pollute the water supply, air, and soil” (Group). I have recently switched from using a chemical-based body soap to one that is made from natural ingredients, such as honey and glycerin. There are noticeable changes in how it affects my skin, in that it has a softer feel while achieving the same level of cleanliness. Often times, I have experienced dryness of skin after using conventional soaps, so this is a significant change that is also environmentally friendly. These products can be easily found in places such as local grocery and department stores, adding a certain convenience to the process of choosing alternative products. While changes in price may not be considerable, the amount of toxins entering one’s body severely decreases; as well, most of these products are cruelty-free, meaning that one can benefit society along with his or herself and the environment through switching from chemical based body soap to organic options (Group).