Sunscreen Guide from the FDA

After 33 years, the FDA has finally decided to apply some rule to Sunscreens. Unfortunately they have fallen woefully short of truly protecting consumers.

The good part of the FDA’s ruling is the ban on terms such as “waterproof” “sweatproof” and “sunblock.” These claims have been deemed misleading.
However, harmful ingredients such as oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and several other ingredients containing Vitamin A in sunscreens despite scientists’ concerns about their toxicity are still allowed

FDA’s new standards don’t go far enough to protect you from the sun,” said David Andrews, Ph.D, a senior scientist with Environmental Working Group. “Consumers will have to turn elsewhere, like EWG’s online guide, to find the safest, most effective sunscreens. After 33 years of delay, it is evident people just can’t trust FDA on this issue.”

About 20% of the sunscreen products sold in the U.S. would not be allowed in Europe where UVA rules are strict.

Please read the labels. For more information visit the EWG Website

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Herbal Tea of Mullein great for Respiratory Relief


My friend has a cold that has lingered a little long. Her cold began  as an allergy to pollen, and the spring season, as her immune system weakened, a cold eventually settled in her chest with a deep cough. I thought we would go together to pick some Mullein, instead of just getting it for her. Alas we found Mullein. She remarked at the big furry leaves. As she was busy looking at the leaves, I was busy looking at the small snake coiled right next to it. I thought this is a good sign, good medicine for her. She did not see the snake at first it blended in so well and couldn’t believe I did.Common Mullein Plant

We walked further to see if there was more mullein. When we came back the snake was gone. According to Ted Andrews, in short, Snake medicine is symbolic of change, transition and healing. So in continuity of this thinking, I took this as a sign that this mullein tea would be of real benefit to her. I also picked some violet leaves, mint, and Comfrey to add to this. I had her chop it up and we made a 24 hour herbal infusion, a nice strong brew for her to drink over the next couple of days. It is good to make your own medicine and be a participant in your healing.
I often see the deer munching on the leaves of mullein as I am sure it is food and medicine to them. It is good for respiratory infections, bronchial infections, coughs and asthma. It has astringent, demulcent, and expectorant properties. It can be soothing to the throat and sinuses as well and help decrease inflammation.
Mullein flower makes great ear infection oil.
The leaves can be used as a poultice to help decrease inflammation and contains anti- bacterial properties.
The huge leaves need to be washed well to remove any pollen or potential allergens.
Dip them in boiled water to get them limp and warm, place on a thin cloth over the chest as a poultice. Cover the herb with another cloth to insulate further to keep it as hot or warm as is tolerable to the skin. Cover this with a towel to keep insulated. This is like natures heating pad.  Leave the poultice on for as long as is comfortable to soothe the lungs and chest and decrease inflammation and break up the congestion experienced. Whenever wildcrafting, be sure to pick plants in a pesticide free zone.

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Backyard Nutrition from Common Weeds

Common “Weeds” in your backyard hold vital nutrition and health benefits. I have mentioned some here but there are many more benefits still. Forage for nutrition in your backyard.

An easy way to incorporate herbs into your daily diet is to take advantage of the vital Spring Herbs and add them to your foods like green salads, bean salads or grain salads like the one below.

Picture of the dandelion plantDandelion is good for so many things but it is a blood cleanser, a gentle detoxifier, a bitter that helps with digestion. Dandelion leaves are full of vitamins. This herb is more nutritious then spinach. It is the classic spring tonic herb.


Mint is refreshing a digestive and a refreshing herb to spark up dishes. It is soothing to stomach ails and wonderful in an iced tea or as a hot tea.

Plantain picked in early spring, have tender leaves that are sweet tasting and very nutritious.Picture of common plantain This is an common weed with wonderful qualities, but early April and May the leaves are still delicious on its own. Once the plantain leaves get tougher they can be sauteed to soften. Don’t eat too much however, plantain has a laxative effect unless of course that is what you are looking for.

Sweet Violet leaves and flowers are cooling and healing. I just love this herb. Appearances can be deceiving, the delicate purple, violet or white flowers and heart shaped leaves of this plant, make it appear delicate but it is an alternative and can help with diseases such as cancer. The leaves and flowers have antiseptic and expectorant properties, and may be helpful for respiratory issues. The leaves contain vitamins A and C. Use both leaf and flower if available.

Quinoa Spring Salad (gluten free) Recipe

1 Cup Quinoa

½ cucumber seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

½ cup pine nuts toasted or pecans toasted

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons (chopped dandelion leaves, plantain leaves, violet leaves) combined

1 tablespoon chopped mint


Combine all ingredients except the Quinoa.

Soak Quinoa in water for 15 minutes then drain.

In sauce pan over medium heat combine quinoa, about one and a half cups of water. Bring to full boil, cover the pot and cook for one minute. Turn heat down to very low cook for 15 minutes or till water is absorbed. Remove the pot from heat, let sit with lid on 5 mins. Uncover, fluff gently and let cool, season with salt and pepper. Once cool add quinoa to other bowl toss and serve. Enjoy!

Please make sure your lawn or foraging area are NOT treated with Pesticides

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Sunscreen warnings

Sunscreen users seem to lulled into a false sense of security and put themselves at risk. We don’t use sunscreen properly,  government studies show a common ingredient can lead to skin cancer, and SPF numbers can be unreliable.

Five Things to look out for in the summer sun.

1. Typical sunscreen users do not use the recommended amount. Actually only about 25% of the recommended amount of sunscreen is used, diminishing the protection immensely. An SPF 50 will actually protect as a SPF 3.2. Read your labels.

2. According to the FDA, anything SPF 50 and over has not been shown to be consistant or reliable and tend to have exagerated claims.

3. Many sunscreens with high SPF’s protect against sunburn but not against harmful UVA radiation. Hats, shirts, cover ups,  and common sense are the best protection from the sun.

4. Many sunscreens contain Vitamin Aretinyl palmitate. The FDA is investigating the effects of the sun and vitamin A, and the damage it can cause to the skin. The FDA studies have shown that retinyl palmitate may accelerate skin damage and elevate the risk of skin cancer. Data is not conclusive, and studies are still on going, but why take the risk.

Also be sure to check your other skin, and wrinkle creams. Many skin creams, even those that claim to be natural, contain Retinyl. Also avoid oxybenzone, it penetrates the skin and is absorbed into the blood stream. This chemical has been found to be a hormone inhibitor.

5. Be mindful and aware of the time in the sun. Don’t avoid it, we do need the vitamin D, but beware of the lofty claims of sunscreens. The FDA has not finalized regulations on sunscreens scince 1978, so who else is going to look out for you but you. Read your labels


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Plant an Companion Herbal Garden

While planting my garden, along with my vegetables I typically put in a some easy to grow herbs. Not only as wonderful medicinals, but also as companions to my vegetables. They help to keep harmful insects at bay while helping my vegetable flourish by attracting helpful insects and birds. The key is to let a few of the herbs to bolt and go to flower. Not only do I get the benefits of an herbal garden but my vegetables benefit as well. 

In my garden, amongst the vegies, I planted Echinacea. A terrific immune booster.Echinacea Plant Picture Echinacea has been planted as an ornamental for over 200 years for it’s lovely Purple Coneflower. Echinacea does well in well drained soil and can tolerate partial shade. It does well on the end of my garden that gets shaded in the afternoon. Most references suggest using the root of the plant for medicinal use, but I tend to use the flower in a tea. I will pour boiling water over a few fresh, or dried echinacea flowers and let it steep for about 10 minutes. It can also be used as a tincture, using the entire plant, mixed with grain alcohol and water in a 2 to 1 ratio. Let it sit for a minimum of 2 weeks.

Lemon Balm Picture

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is a Bee favorite. This  herb is a perennial and tends to be invasive, so I like to put it in a large pot and put it in a shady corner of the garden. This allows me to tend and till the garden without worry. Lemon balm has been shown to be a natural fungicide and anti-bacterial, and is widely used to relieve spasms related to headaches and cramps. Lemon balm tea is a favorite of mine to relieve anxiety. Just pour hot water over the leaves. Adding the leaves to a fresh garden salad adds a nice fresheness. Make sure you let a few plants go to flower, as the bees love it, and your vegetables love the bees.

Chamomile  is another herb I plant along the perimeter of my garden. A nice cup of chamomile tea can be taken as a digestive or to help you relax. Chamomile loves full sun with well drained soil. This mainstay of traditional chinese medicine has white daisy like petals with a yellow ball sitting proudly in the middle. Chamomile has a reputation as a good plant buddy buy healng nearby “sick” plants.Chamomile Flower

If you prefer a cold tea, by all means, after steeping the herb in hot water let it cool and add Ice. Delicious

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