There are a great many controversial issues related to natural products and living green currently in news headlines. Individuals trying to investigate these issues may quickly become overwhelmed and frustrated to the point that they choose to completely give up on the subject entirely. All types of media introduce information on health issues every day that bombards consumers with confusing statements. There are a handful of concepts to keep in mind during research on this subject.
Natural vs Manufactured
The debate for choosing natural or manufactured products for most any use is an ongoing circle. The fact is that natural products do not result in the exposure to toxic chemicals that manufactured products do. It is a general consensus there are fewer side effects, for instance, to using vinegar and water to clean glass surfaces than most glass cleaners available on the market. One side of the argument says that the natural alternative is not as effective. This is absolutely not true; however, individuals may test it for themselves by simply mixing about half of equal amounts of each and pouring it into a spray bottle. Try using it to clean a window or a mirror. Experimenters may be surprised with the results.
Individuals considering both sides should look first at what the ingredients are. The ingredients in most glass cleaners contain ammonia which is much harsher than vinegar. In most cases it is not harmful to humans in small doses as the human body is capable of gathering and eliminating it through waste. It can be harmful, if they are exposed to extremely large concentrations, as the body is not capable of eliminating it quickly enough. Many individuals who have breathing conditions such as asthma suffer from breathing issues in the presence of ammonia. Another important consideration is that many species of aquatic life do not have this capability period and is therefore extremely harmful to the environment.
The next item to look at is price. The price of vinegar is usually only around a dollar for a 16 ounce bottle. This makes 32 ounces of a natural and effective glass cleaner. Brands of glass cleaner that are said to be very good are approximately three times this and only 20 to 24 ounces. Those that profess to be natural alternatives may cost five times as much as a bottle of vinegar. Generic brands are available and somewhat cheaper; however, these generally contain a higher concentration of harmful chemicals. Many of these manufactured glass cleaners are tested on animals including those that are said to be natural. The homemade glass cleaner is not only better for the earth, which includes humans, but is less expensive.
For the purpose of this information the above is enough to encourage individuals to use critical thinking when choosing products and considering natural alternatives. Most of the ingredients for natural products can be purchased in grocery stores. It may be required to locate a specialty store for purchasing depending upon the local area. The internet affords individuals a wonderful and convenient resource for this. Many of the ingredients required for utilizing natural methods may be grown in the back yard as well. There are generally three main categories when speaking of natural alternatives which include herbal remedies, hygiene products, and household cleaners.
Many people do not realize that manufactured pharmaceuticals are derived from completely natural sources. These sources have fewer side effects than their pharmaceutical counter parts. During the manufacturing process the main plant is reduced to a concentration, or sometimes it is synthesized, and several other chemicals are added to create the medications available in pharmacies today. These same plants may be used to create teas, tinctures, and salves to relieve all sorts of ailments in home kitchens.
Echinacea is extremely popular and is used for antibiotic purposes. The entire plant may be used; however, the root contains the highest properties for medicinal value. One wonderful aspect of this plant is that when using it as an antibiotic it may be applied externally or consumed for internal healing. Another great aspect is that Echinacea actually works by enhancing the immune system and individuals do not build a tolerance to it as they do with antibiotics on the pharmaceutical market.
The flowers and roots of Echinacea are dried and may be purchased in whole herb form. This can be steeped in hot water to create a healing herbal tea. The Cherokee Indians are said to have made great use of this flower. It can be applied as a salve or made into a poultice to assist in healing most any type of wound.
- White Willow Bark
White willow bark contains salicin which is the main ingredient in modern aspirin. White willow may be purchased in gelatin capsules or whole in order to steep for tea. It can be used for the same purposes aspirin is recommended for. White willow is not as irritating on the stomach as aspirin and many individuals find that it causes them no irritating side effects at all.
Three main reasons aspirin is prescribed, to thin blood in the case of heart disease; to reduce pain; and to decrease inflammation. It is not wise to use aspirin or white willow to reduce fever, especially in children as it may result in the development of Reye Syndrome. Reye Syndrome has only been linked to aspirin and no evidence points to a correlation with white willow, but it is better to be safe than sorry. It is interesting to note that white willow is often recommended as an alternative to aspirin; however, the differences between the two are created when additives are given to aspirin during the production process.
The properties of lavender have always been recommended for those who suffer from anxiety and/or nervous tension. A few drops of lavender may be added to a hot bath for relaxation or the whole herb may be steeped in water for a calming tea. The tea is also said to help with bloating from gas as well as assist breathing for those who suffer from asthma. A few drops of the oil may also be put on a pillow for those who suffer from insomnia or rubbed into the temples to relieve tension migraines.
Topically lavender is classified as an anti-fungal and antiseptic. It may be added to ointments to heal wounds such as burns or cuts and reduce the appearance of scars. It can successfully be introduced into rubs and oils to relieve muscle tension and soreness. Lavender is safe to use on children, when diluted, to repel insects and to treat bothersome bug bites.
Herbs are great to create natural personal care products in home kitchens. The internet provides a plethora of information and recipes for this project. It can also be a fun way to spend quality time with children or other family members while creating an educational experience as well. Again, most manufactured products contain many of these ingredients; however, they also contain many harsh additives that are introduced during manufacturing.
- Essential Oils: Essential oils are becoming extremely popular again today and are used for making all sorts of homemade products. One is to create signature perfumes. These oils are available everywhere and may be combined in many ways to create the perfect fragrance.
- Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, and Aloe Vera: All three of these are the main ingredients in popular hair and skin care products. They are wonderful to condition and soothe both hair and skin.
- Body and Facial Scrubs: The ingredients mentioned above combined with simple ingredients to use for exfoliation make refreshing facial and body scrubs. Some of the choices of exfoliators include finely ground nut shells, fruit pits, and oatmeal.
- Vinegar: Vinegar contains 5% acetic acid which destroys germs both viruses and bacteria. There is no need to worry about the odd odor because it will dissipate as it evaporates and dries. The most popular method to create an effective solution is to combine 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water.
- Lemon Juice: Due to the acidity of lemon juice, applying it to surfaces reduces the alkaline of any environment. Bacteria need an alkaline environment to in order to grow, produce, and thrive. Lemon juice may be used to clean most anything from surfaces to removing the tarnish from silver.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is also known as bicarbonate. It may be sprinkled liberally in the bathtub, sink, and toilet as a cleanser. It may also be combined with vinegar to clean drains.
There are a couple of important points that attention must be brought to. The first is that individuals should consult a professional medical practitioner before beginning a regime of anything, especially if there is a health concern. The second is that herbs can interact with medications and other elements just as pharmaceutical drugs can. Remember the main ingredient in most of them originated in those same living plants. One last thought to consider is to introduce these things one at a time and in moderation in order to determine if individuals have any allergies that may be of concern. Plants can be a safe alternative to harsh chemicals; however, this practice requires a little education as well as common sense.
By Michelle Lane[headline]Natural Products[/headline]