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Signs You Might Be Vitamin D Deficient

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Living in the modern world has its advantages and disadvantages. Technologically speaking, we’re far better off than we were, say, 100 years ago. Nutritionally speaking, we’re far worse in many ways.

As surprising as it might sound, nearly all Americans suffer from at least 1 form of nutritional deficiency.


One of the most common deficiencies is Vitamin D. In fact, most Americans aren’t aware they suffer from a lack of Vitamin D. This is partly because we all tend to believe our diets are rich with it (people who drink lots of milk, for example, would never guess they’re deficient). What most people don’t realize is that, despite its name, Vitamin D is not technically a vitamin in the traditional sense. It’s actually a steroid hormone that we’re meant to receive primarily through sunlight, not diet.

Who is Vitamin D Deficient?

Thanks to various scientific studies, we now know more about our body’s relationship with vitamin D. Some of the results are staggering.

· The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 32% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. This percentage vastly increases when considering the CDC used vitamin D levels not consistent with optimal health.

· The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that children between the ages of 1 and 5 were 50% likely to suffer from insufficient Vitamin D levels. They also reported that children between the ages of 6 and 11 were a shocking 70% likely to suffer from insufficient levels!

·Most researchers tend to agree the general population is somewhere around 50% deficient.

· It’s estimated that about 95% of senior citizens are vitamin D deficient due to their lack of sun exposure and the fact that their bodies naturally produce less vitamin D than younger individuals.

· People with an increased level of skin pigmentation, such as from African, Middle Eastern, or Indian descent, are also at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. It was found that their skin may need as much as 10x more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with fairer skin.

 

Signs You Might Be Vitamin D Deficient:

There is only 1 known way to detect if you’re vitamin D deficient: blood testing. That being said, there are a number of “signs” or “clues” that indicate vitamin D deficiency:

· You have darker skin. Darker skinned individuals are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency

· You’re over the age of 50. As you age, your skin becomes less efficient in converting sun exposure to vitamin D.

· You suffer from bouts of depression. Your brain produces serotonin—a mood-regulating hormone—when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Feeling “blue” can be a sign your brain is not producing enough serotonin due to lack of sun exposure, and therefore vitamin D.

· You’re overweight or unusually muscular Because vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a traditional vitamin, those with excess body fat and large amounts of muscle in turn require additional Vitamin D

· You have a sweaty forehead. One of the earliest signs of a vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head.

· You have problems with your gut. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, having stomach issues can prevent your body from absorbing it.

· You have chronic aches and pains in your bones. A vitamin D deficiency can affect skeletal health. As a result, your bones ache and throb.

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin D?

There are a variety of benefits and health attributes associated with vitamin D. Here are some of the most important:

· It’s good for your bones! Having a sufficient amounts of vitamin D in your system allows for proper calcium absorption.

· It’s important to cardiovascular health. Vitamin D is important for reducing the likelihood of atherosclerotic heart disease, hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.

· Vitamin D is an immune modulator, making it very important for preventing autoimmune disease.

· It helps in fighting infections of all kinds, including the flu

· It helps with DNA repair, which is crucial to a healthy immune system.

 

What Are Optimum Vitamin D Levels?

An ideal range for general health and regulation is somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml. However, without proper blood testing, it’s all but impossible to know exactly what your levels are. If you’d like to know exactly where your own vitamin D levels stand, getting a blood test at a local clinic is the easiest method.

How Do I Reach Optimum Level?

As far as how to reach optimum levels of vitamin D, sun exposure is generally the easiest way. As stated above, taking a supplement orally is not a sufficient substitute to sun exposure. Staying in the sun for roughly half the time it takes for your skin to receive a mild sunburn is usually an ideal amount of time. For example, if you get a mild sunburn after 20 minutes of sun exposure, then 10 minutes will likely be enough time to raise your Vitamin D production. If you have to count exclusively on an oral supplement, then remember to take Vitamin K as well as—it helps the body with vitamin D absorption.

FLEAS: Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Get Fleas?

Contrary to popular belief, contracting fleas has nothing to do with the cleanliness or condition of your home—fleas can and do infest everyone. However, fleas usually enter your yard via wild animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, feral cats, possums, etc. Then, either you, your family or a pet unknowingly bring these outside fleas into your home. Dog Parks, neighboring pets and outdoor activities such as hiking, dog-walking and hunting are also common sources of flea infestation.

 

What Do Fleas Look Like?  

Fleas have three primary life stages: Eggs, Larvae, and Adults. Flea eggs are small (about the size of a salt granule) and white; Flea larvae look like small, milky-white caterpillars, ranging between 3 to 5.2 mm in length. Adult fleas are dark-brown to reddish-brown, about 2.5 mm in length, with thin, flat, wingless bodies and long legs.

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What Do Flea Bites Look Like?

Flea bites are small, red and extremely itchy. On humans, bites usually occur on the legs and feet, though flea bites can potentially occur anywhere on the body. Skin reactions such as hives, swelling, or rashes near the bite site are a common symptom of flea bites. Although flea bites rarely result in disease in humans, fleas are in fact carriers of various diseases and bacteria, including tapeworm, typhus and cat scratch disease.

 

What Are the Signs Of A Flea Infestation?

Locating and identifying a flea infestation is normally quite easy. Whether crawling within your pet’s fur or sprinkled throughout your carpet, fleas are not usually difficult to spot. Flea infestations spread quickly, so it’s crucial that you find and treat them as early and as fast as possible. Here are the signs to look out for:

  • Excessive pet scratching (this is often the first sign of flea infestation)
  • If you suspect fleas have infested your pet, check their skin for adult fleas and red or black dots (flea droppings). Fleas usually infest the hindquarters of dogs, and the neck and face area of cats.
  • Flea eggs (these are white, about the size of a grain of salt, and often too small for the naked eye to see)
  • Small dark specks on linens, bedding or clothing that appear to jump or fly (these are adult fleas moving throughout your home)

 

What To Do If You Have Fleas

At Cedarcide, we recommend using only all-natural, eco-safe methods for getting rid of fleas, with fogging (indoor) and spraying (outdoor) being our preferred methods of treatment. If you think you might have fleas, you need to act fast before the infestation spreads. For detailed instructions on getting rid of fleas, download our How To Get Rid Of Fleas ebook: A 5 Step Guide.

 

 

 

6 Amazing ways to use Cedarwood Oil

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. The information above is in no way intended to replace proper medical help.

6+ ways carrots benefit dogs

They’re a healthy alternative to processed dog treats

First, and most importantly from your dog’s point of view, they taste delicious!  Carrots not only provide a significant amount of nutritional benefits, they also taste good to your pets.  They are slightly high in naturally occurring sugars so they’re viewed as a treat of sorts by your animals.  It’s important to mention that in order for your dog to enjoy the nutritional benefits of carrots (which will be discussed below), the carrots must first be slightly cooked or steamed because the wall of cellulose within carrots is not digestible by dogs.

 

They’re good for their teeth

Chew toys are commonly used  for the sake of  “scraping” pets’ teeth in order to clean them.  Carrots, in regards to their natural texture, could be considered a mini chew toy on steroids in that they are a tasty treat as well as a natural tooth brush.

 

They’re good for cholesterol 

These treats are good for your animals’ cholesterol due to the low-fat and low-calorie nature of carrots.  If an owner wants to treat their dogs with a “good behavior” snack, carrots are a great choice when trying to limit the amount of high-calorie doggie treats their pets receive.

 

The Beta-Carotene is good for their eyesight 

Just as the old common adage might suggest, carrots are good for people’s eyesight as well as for dog’s eyesight.  The Beta-Carotene prevalent in carrots in a natural anti-oxidant and a natural eyesight enhancer for your pet.

 

They’re rich in Vitamin A 

Vitamin A, along with Beta-Carotene, can help your dog’s eyesight, improve their skin, and also foster a healthier and shinier coat.  Vitamin A, as a general rule, is good for the overall health of your pet and is a great immune system booster.  Keep in mind not to overdo allowances of Vitamin A as it could become toxic in extremely large quantities. That being said, it would take a significant amount of carrots to reach that point. So as long as you don’t give your animal an entire bag of cooked or raw carrots, you won’t run into this problem.

 

They’re a good source of Fiber

Because carrots are naturally high in fiber, they can be a good “regulator” for you pet if he or she is suffering from constipation or loose/irregular stools.  Adding some additional fiber to your pet’s diet can help add consistency to your dog’s “business.”

 

Remember, treat your dogs to these tasty, healthy snacks in moderation, and unless the purpose of you feeding your dogs carrots is for cleaning their teeth, remember to always slightly cook or steam your carrots so that your animal can reap the nutritional benefits from their goodies!

 

Cedarcide rescues Gauge, Remi and John love fresh vegetables and fruit!
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Why You Need To Stop Using Flea Collars Today

 

Flea collars are one of the the most popular options for treating and preventing fleas in both dogs and cats. Typically, flea collars work by either transferring pesticides to your pet’s skin or by giving off a harmful gas that’s toxic to fleas. Unfortunately, the same features that make flea collars effective also make them dangerous to both pets and humans—serious, even life threatening, side-effects have been linked with exposure to the chemicals within flea collars. The following is a list of reasons why it’s important you stop using flea collars on your pets as soon as possible.

Your Family

A study conducted by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concluded that flea collars, even when used as directed, can have “serious health consequences to humans.” The NRDC found that unsafe levels of pesticides from flea collars can remain on a dog or cat’s fur for weeks after initial use. These pesticide levels exceed acceptable EPA exposure limits, posing a serious risk to both adults and children when playing with pets wearing flea collars.

“It was also discovered that flea collar toxins are readily transferrable, moving easily from a pet to furniture, children’s toys, even directly to humans.”

 

One of the most common (and dangerous) chemicals found in flea collars is Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), an organophosphate insecticide that works by interrupting a flea’s central nervous system. Unfortunately TCVP—which the EPA lists as a carcinogen—also wreaks havoc on the human central nervous system. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that organophosphates are a central ingredient in several biological weapons, including nerve gas.

Worst of all, children and pregnant women are especially at risk—learning disabilities, motor development, hyperactivity and behavioural issues have all been tied with exposure to flea collar pesticides. Public Health Scientist Miriam Rotkin Ellman—a key scientist in NRDC’s studies—has said,

“with a pesticide it doesn’t take very much to cause effects that will stay with kid[s] for the rest of their lives”

Your Pets

While residual toxins from flea collars can be hazardous to humans, they can be outright lethal for your pets. Ranging from skin irritation and gastrointestinal distress, to organ failure and even death, flea collars have a long history of harmful effects in both cats and dogs. When used as directed, flea collars are still known to cause severe chemical burns and seizures in pets. A quick look at product review sites like Consumer Affairs or outlets like Amazon is enough to get a sense of the suffering flea collars commonly inflict on pet owners. In cases of ingestion or misuse (placing a dog-specific flea collar on a cat, for instance), flea collars are regularly fatal, with smaller and older pets being especially vulnerable. Flea collars are also notorious for interfering with pet medications—sometimes counteracting them, sometimes rendering them deadly. Even under ideal conditions, flea collars can be fatal to dogs and cats, as sensitivities to chemicals or allergies usually remain unknown in pets until it’s too late.

They’re Not As Effective As You Think

In contrast to received opinion, flea collars are not exactly highly effective. In most cases, flea collars can be useful at preventing flea infestations (if toxic treatments can be considered useful) but not at treating them. In fact, many flea collars are not even strong enough to kill adult fleas. Even when properly used, flea collars only serve to protect the area on or around your pet’s neck. Considering fleas tend to feed and hide primarily in pets’ armpits, groins, bellies and backsides, it’s not hard to see why flea collars are only so effective at controlling flea infestation.

Natural Alternatives

At Cedarcide, we only recommend the use of all natural, eco-friendly alternatives when treating your pets for fleas. Thankfully, there are many pet-safe, family-safe options when managing and preventing flea infestation. Here are some of our favorites:

Consult a vet before use on older, pregnant or nursing animals

  • An all natural, non-toxic Flea spray
    • Apply as needed, especially before walking pets outdoors or at pet parks. Tip: For dogs, moisten a bandana with an all natural insect repellent for a non-toxic flea collar alternative.
  • Flea Combs
    • Flea combs help to both identify and treat flea infestations
  • Bathe Your Pet Regularly 
    • Regular bathing helps keep fleas off your pets. No need for toxic flea & tick shampoos—soapy, warm water is sufficient to kill adult fleas and flea eggs.
  • A natural flea & tick brush
    • A flea and tick brush that dispenses natural insect repellent is among the most efficient and effective methods for treating your medium to large-sized dog for fleas
  • Wash pet bedding weekly
    • Regularly washing your pet’s bedding is essential to preventing flea infestation. Use hot water and include a water-soluble insect repellent for added protection.
  • Care for your lawn
    • Keeping your yard clutter-free and trimmed (grass, shrubbery, etc) will help prevent fleas from making a home in your yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Inspiring Reasons to Start Gardening

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Nobel-prize winning author John Steinbeck once wrote, “There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.” From spading the soil to planting the seeds, to nurturing the plants, to harvesting the resulting fruits, vegetables or flowers, the process of starting and maintaining your own garden can have immeasurable benefits for the mind, body, and soul.

Learn a New Skill

So maybe you don’t exactly have a green thumb; maybe you always forget to water that desk plant you bought last spring, or the flowerbed in your front yard is overrun with weeds. That doesn’t mean you can’t acquire the skills needed to tend a garden. Like anything else in life, it just requires a little practice and dedication and that thumb of yours will start changing colors before you know it.Gardening Gloves Cradling Baby Plants

Save Money

Although startup expenses can be a deterrent, a longtime commitment to growing your own fruits and vegetables can make its mark on your grocery bill. Freezing or canning your harvest can help extend the shelf life of your produce to help you save year-round.

Avoid Chemicals

There’s a certain peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly where your food came from and how it was treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 29 pesticides in the average American’s body. Growing your own produce is one way to help yourself come in below that average.

Eat Healthier

Don’t tell me you’re going to grow all these beautiful fruits and vegetables and not eat them. Studies have shown that people who grow their own produce are more likely to eat healthier. After all, once you’ve had a perfectly ripe tomato fresh off the vine, greasy fast food just doesn’t have the same appeal.Variation of fresh vegetables tomatoes, pepper, paprika, artichoke and Brussels sprouts on old table near window in day light.

Locally Grown is Better For You

Produce begins to lose its nutritional value the second it’s picked. That’s not to say store-bought produce has no nutritional value, but broccoli can lose up to half it’s vitamin C on the journey from truck to store shelf to fridge than it does when it goes straight from the garden to your kitchen table.

Share the Love

You’d be surprised how much your friends, neighbors, and coworkers might appreciate some spare peppers. Sharing your harvest doesn’t only improve your relationships with these people, but also encourages them to eat healthier and try new dishes that feature your ingredients.Collecting harvest in autumn: orange carrot in hands of female worker

Get Moving

It’s pretty difficult to grow a garden from the couch in the living room. Not only does gardening get you more sun exposure for some much-needed vitamin D, but three hours of gardening can burn as many calories as an hour at the gym. Why pump iron when you could be aerating a garden?

Make it a Family Affair

Working a garden together can be a great way to bond as a family. Plus, it’s a great way to get kids away from their electronic devices and connected with nature. Kids are also more likely to try more fruits and vegetables if they’ve been exposed to gardening.Child and fresh vegetables

Zen Out

Everybody has to deal with stress. Whether you need to reduce your road rage from your morning commute or calm your nerves for an upcoming presentation at work, stepping away from all the bells and whistles of modern technology to enjoy the great outdoors can work wonders for your mental well-being.wuu_ssxdes0-benjamin-combs

Reap What You Sow

There’s an unquantifiable satisfaction that comes with reaping the fruits of your own labor—especially when those fruits are literal fruits. Basking in the achievement of your own hard work is something we could all use a little more of.4r1ypmgo52i-sven-scheuermeier

30+ Ways To Love The Planet More

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As global citizens, we can all do our part in keeping the planet (and ourselves, for that matter,) as healthy as possible by living a more natural lifestyle.  With billions of creatures relying on the same ecosystem, it’s imperative that we all make decisions which protect our most precious resource: this planet.  This may seem like a big responsibility, and it is, but it’s often the smallest decisions you make that can have the largest impacts.

Tis the season, right? With a new year upon us, it’s a wonderful time to create new, and better better habits.  Especially habits that your body, soul and mind will benefit from. (Not to mention, the planet.)

So, are you ready to start? Here’s over 30 ways you can live more naturally and love the planet more in 2017, starting with:

Stop Drinking Bottled Waterstop-drinking-bottled-water-1

First of all, many bottled water sources quite literally use tap water. True story, and there’s more.

· Bottled water companies are not required to meet the same standards as municipal water. 
Therefore it can be safer to drink water straight from the tap because you at least know what you’re getting. If that’s not enough, check out these facts:

· 30 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away each year.
· It takes roughly 1.5 million barrels of oil to produce that amount of plastic.
· It takes plastic bottles about 1,000 years to decompose.

That’s scary. What’s a better option?

· Invest in several stainless steel water bottles and use filtered water to fill them up.

It’s significantly healthier due to not being exposed to plastic-laden endocrine disruptors linked to cancer, diabetes, and neurological issues such as BPA (bisphenol A) and it’s much, much cheaper. Even though the initial investment is higher, using filtered water and stainless steel water bottles will very quickly pay for itself.

 

Reduce Your Amount of Wastereduce-your-amount-of-waste-1

· Recycle
Recycling plastic, paper, metals, and anything else that can be recycled is a must if you’re going to go green.

· Reuse anything you can
Finding ways to reuse items is also a great way to make an impact. For example, use a reusable razor.

It’s estimated that 2 billion razors are disposed of each year by Americans alone.
That’s roughly 1 billion pounds of waste.

 

· Use alternative food storage as opposed to plastic containers.
Try using glass jars of varying sizes or stainless steel containers instead of plastics.

· Use reusable shopping bags instead of the plastic bags you get at the supermarket.

· Use fabrics to wrap your gifts instead of paper wrapping (it’s a great approach that’s gathering more and more converts).

In essence, find ways to reuse everything you can and recycle as often as possible. Plastic = No.

 


Stop Unwanted Junkmail

reduce-junk-mail-1Stopping unwanted junk mail from being sent to your home is a giant step in the right direction in terms of going green. These numbers are scary:

· The average American household receives approximately 69 pounds of junk mail every single year.

· It takes roughly 24 trees to produce each pound of junk mail which adds up to approximately 96 million trees per year in America alone.

· It is estimated that about 50% of all junk mail is not recycled which suggests that about 48 million trees are carelessly discarded each year.

· Roughly 2,500 to 6,000 gallons of water are used for every ton of paper meaning that the junk mail industry is guilty of using anywhere from 10 to 24 billion gallons of water every year.

So, how do you help combat this atrocity? Opt out of receiving junk mail!

There are several ways to do this:

1) Go to the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) website which represents nearly 3,600 companies and use their opt-out service for a dollar (their website is very easy to navigate) and you can:

2) Visit www.OptOutPrescreen.com to be removed from the three major credit reporting agencies for 5-year terms.
An enormous amount of unwanted junk mail comes in the form of pre-approved credit card companies so visiting this website and opting out is a good move.

 

Find Ways to conserve energy

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Conserving energy will not only reduce your carbon footprint but will also expand your pocketbook. Some simple ways to cut back are:

· Turn off your lights.  When you’re not in a room, turn the lights off.

· Find ways to benefit from natural light and windows instead of having multiple lights on in every room.

· Switch to energy efficient bulbs. They’re more expensive at first, but they save you tons of money on your electrical bill, and they last much longer than conventional bulbs do.

· For those of you really wanting to cut energy usage, use an oil lantern instead of traditional lighting. It sets a great mood and is incredibly efficient. Just make sure you’re taking all the necessary safety precautions when using oil.

· Use appliances in the kitchen that are energy efficient.

· Keep the fridge closed.

· Use a programmable thermostat for the house and dress appropriately for the season.

· When washing laundry, wait until a full load can be washed before washing.

· Use cold water and find ways to air-dry your clothes.

 

Use Energy Efficient Transportation
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Using your transportation more efficiently is a major step towards going green. Here are a few ways to keep Mother Earth smiling while traveling:

· Walk! Taking an extra few minutes and walking to the market can save significantly on gas and energy.

· Don’t be afraid to ride a bicycle when getting around in town.

· When driving, make sure your tires are properly inflated.
About 1/3 of vehicles are traveling the streets every day with under-inflated tires resulting in roughly a 10% decrease in their overall fuel economy.

· Use public transportation when possible.

· When driving, use hyper-milling techniques. Many people have increased their fuel economy significantly by using these techniques (I’ll be writing an entire article about these techniques soon).

· When traveling a longer distance, try to travel by train or bus instead of a plane for the sake of reducing CO2 emissions.

· Keep the oil changed in your car and do not drive aggressively. This combination will destroy gas mileage.

· Carpool when possible and partake in rideshares.

 

Support Your Local Farmers

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· When possible, eat local organic foods. Most of our meals come from an average of 1,500 miles away. Eating locally will significantly cut down on pollutants caused by transportation.

· It helps keep plants healthy. Due to the fact there are no pesticides added, there are no superbug strains that come along and devastate a particular crop.

· It helps keep the animals healthy as there is no chemical exposure resulting from chemically engineered foods.

· It helps keep living conditions more natural and organic here on Earth by helping to minimize pollution, erosion, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and nutrient depletion.

Incorporate Green Into Your Personal Products and Routines

Going green with your personal care products is a huge part of an organic lifestyle.

· When using skin-care products, try and stick to natural products such as coconut oil. Our skin being the largest organ of our bodies plays a significant role in what we take it. Coconut oil is a wonderful, natural alternative to expensive creams and other products. It’s also great for your hair!

· When going out into the sun for extended periods of time, opt for a safe and natural sunscreen. This is very important because many popular sunscreens are chalked full of poisons for our bodies.

· It’s equally important to eat well! This is arguably the most important aspect of healthy skin.

· Using natural deodorants is becoming more and more popular among folks of all ages that are tired of poisoning their bodies with the increasing toxicity found in modern deodorants.

· Try natural shampoo recipes and try using natural mascaras and other all-natural makeup products as well.

Raise your children to be environmentally conscious

This is very important for all you parents, uncles, aunts, etc., out there. Adopting an all-natural way of life is a beautiful and wonderful thing. It’s a major step to a healthier lifestyle that will benefit you, your loved ones, and the planet itself. However, to make sure that the lifestyle continues down the road, you need to make sure your children are aware of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you’re doing it. Raising your children to be eco-conscious is a major player in the game of organic living. Talk about the choices you make with your kids. Lead by example and be a role model for your children. It’s important to remember not to lecture, but instead, to make it fun, interactive, and interesting.

Continuing Your Green Education

We’re always growing and evolving. Therefore, it’s important to be constantly learning. A green lifestyle is no different.

· Continue to learn more and more ways, search for more and more avenues, and become familiar as to why green living matters to you.

· Be open and honest about your choices. This plays a major role in the influence you have upon others regarding your lifestyle choices.

· Educate others through your actions and conversations without being judgmental or pushy. This is a powerful to expand awareness and education.

· Always be open to talking about the subject of organic living or answer questions from people on the subject happily and without scrutiny.

So, armed with this “starter-kit” of ways to go green and show the planet love, go ahead and dive right in and start incorporating these bullet points one by one into your daily lives for a more organic way of life. Your bodies will thank you. Your minds will thank you. The environment will thank you. The planet will thank you. And, let’s not forget the fact that the future will thank you.

8 Ways You Can Recycle Real Christmas Trees

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for most people, however, it’s not always a wonderful time of the year for our planet. With all of the buzz around the holidays, it can be easy to forget about sustainability and put recycling on the back burner. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to easily start making recycling part of your holiday plans, starting with your Christmas tree! If you choose to use a real tree, that is.
Christmas trees are an excellent source of renewable resources that can benefit many, such as local wildlife, the soil, or local organizations.  
Just remember to remove all lights, ornaments, and hooks before donating or using it for any other purposes.

Donate your tree somewhere they can reuse it.
Many local non-profits take Christmas tree donations and then reuse them for projects in the community. If you can’t drop it off at one these, check with your city and see if they have a program in place for removal. Some cities have a tree pickup services available for two weeks following Christmas.

Make a natural fish habitat.
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Have you thought about dropping your tree in a lake or pond? Christmas trees are perfect for fish because they promote algae growth (food) as well as provides them protection. Just make sure all hooks, lights, and decorations have been removed. Also, if your tree has any preservatives or chemicals on it, then it’s best not to use it for this purpose, as a safety precaution. Save the fishies! 

Make a bird feeder
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Are you a nature enthusiast? You might be a bird watcher in the making if you re-purpose your tree appropriately. Once you’ve removed all of the decorations you can then string out bird friendly food such as unsweetened popcorn, fruit, nuts and seeds. Birds and potentially other small critters will certainly be grateful for the extra food and shelter during the colder months.

Use it as Mulch
One of the easiest ways to reuse your Christmas tree is in the garden. The tree branches make an excellent mulch because they dry out quickly and decompose slowly. Their needlelike shape also allows them to bond together, making them less likely to wash away like other mulches. The needles is not all you can use of your tree, you can also take the stump and have it ground up into chips and spread it across your lawn for the same purpose. 

Outdoor Firewood
Christmas trees make excellent firewood, but only for outdoor burning.  Because the branches are highly flammable, it’s unsafe to burn them indoors. A mere spark sent across your home could quickly turn into a blaze. Also, remember to let the tree completely dry out before you burn it.  Lastly, always be aware if your tree has been chemically treated it’s best not to use it for this purpose.

Make Wooden Coasters
It may sound odd, but why not use the stump of your tree to make coasters? If your tree is large enough, you can make several and even give them out as DIY gifts. There are many great tutorials online such as this one that take you through step by step how to make them yourself. Since they will be exposed to moisture from beverages, it’s a good idea to use a natural wood preserver to keep the water from damaging the wood over time.

Make wreaths and decorations
Ready to get crafty? Making a wreath or household decorations is also a simple way to extend the life and use of your tree.

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Buy live, potted Christmas trees
Did you know that you can buy potted Christmas trees that can be replanted in your yard?  I know, why are more people not doing this? Not only will it benefit your soil and provide safety for animals, it’s ads more natural beauty to your landscape. This could also be a great new tradition to start with your family, instead of cutting down a tree every year, you plant one. Everybody, including the environment wins that way.

 

The point is, there are dozens of ways that you can recycle your tree and benefit the planet. Why not start some new holiday traditions this year?

The Mysterious History of the Cedar Tree

Chistory-of-cedaredar! What’s the first image that came to your mind? I’ll bet it was something along the lines of a small-to-medium sized piney tree that is quite plentiful in certain Southern and Central areas of the United States…or perhaps it wasn’t even an image at all. Perhaps it was the memory of the scent of the distinct, woodsy aroma that accompanies a trip to East Texas, especially during Christmas. It would have even been reasonable to presume that you may have thought of a sea of green needles covered in white as the winter snow sticks to the trees in these abundant cedar forests. All would have been justifiable.

I’ll bet you would not have imagined, however, a giant tree on the side of some of the tallest mountains in the world, reaching heights five times larger than that of the cedar trees we’re used to experiencing here at home and ages that are verifiably ancient. Additionally, I feel as though it would have been a safe bet to presume that you would not have thought of a vial of essential oil that would range in benefits from medicinal to psychological to cosmetic. That being said, all would have, again, been correct.

Thus, it could be deduced by that which is written above that there are indeed a variety of different types of cedars trees…and cedar oils for that matter. After all, with different sources come different results. Here I will concentrate on the differences (physical aspects, benefits, aromas, uses, etc.) between two of the most prevalent and dominant types of cedar: the Texas Cedar (Juniperus Ashei) which is part of Juniperus genus and the Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus Deodara) which is part of the Cedrus genus.

First of all, though both of these trees are “cedaresque” in nature, there are substantial differences in their physical nature and appearance. The Texas Cedar, a member of the Cupressaceae family, can grow to heights of 10 (average) to 15 (rare) meters tall with scale-like “leaves” ranging from 2 to 5 millimeters in length and sprouting in dense, feathery flares. They are located predominantly in Central Texas, the south-central parts of the United States and the Northeastern parts of Mexico. The tree itself is drought-tolerant and, due to its dense foliage, provides year-round shade and shelter for wildlife. The wood itself is rot-resistant thus making it a favorite for fence posts and the like.texas

                                                                                                                                                                             

The Himalayan Cedar, a member of the Pinaceae family, is much larger in stature reaching heights of up to 50 meters, occasionally even reaching heights of 60 meters, and has needle-like leaves ranging from 2.5 to 5 centimeters in length (sometimes even reaching lengths of up to 7 cm). The top of the tree crowns into a cone and has level branches with smaller drooping branches sprouting off of them. Its rot-resistant wood has fine, close grain and is often used in the construction of various buildings and basic structures due to its durable nature. Its timber is not, however, very strong, thus making its use in delicate work such as in chair making, for example, unfit and improper. himalayan
The Texas Cedar Oil is relatively yellow in color with a woodsy, clean, sweet balsamic scent while the Himalayan Cedar oil is a slightly viscous liquid with a somewhat yellow to brownish-yellow color and has an earthy, woodsy, clean balsamic odor. Both essential oils are used for various skin conditions including but not limited to acne, dandruff, oily skin, psoriasis, dermatitis and various skin eruptions as well as treating various respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, chronic congestion, and sinusitis. Additionally, both oils are believed to help promote sleep, improve mental clarity and focus, and relieve stress and tension while helping relieve pain and discomfort from arthritis and rheumatism. I’m also happy to note that both the Texas cedar and the Himalayan cedar are effective natural insect repellents and are used extensively for these purposes  throughout the world.

It is widely believed that both oils contribute to one’s emotional health and emotional well-being as well. There are slight differences, however, as to how each oil improves one’s
emotions. The Himalayan cedar oil is said to combat the feelings of depression, alienation, paranoia, and feeling panicked while causing the individual to enjoy a sense of calmness, assuredness, confidence, and a sense of belonging while, at the same time, improving the enjoyment of one’s time spent alone. The Texas cedar oil is said to combat the feelings of powerlessness, lifelessness, fatigue, and feeling victimized while causing the individual to enjoy a sense of empowerment, joy, feeling in control, productivity, independence, and a state of being energized.

In regards to their different physical and emotional benefits, it would be advisable to make your selection based upon what it is you’re experiencing and what it is you’re wanting to assist in treating and alleviating. While many benefits are prevalent and apparent in both oils, the slight differences mentioned above may make your selection easier based on your specific interests and needs. That being said, it is, of course, ok to use both oils during any given period, though you may find that the benefits are enjoyed more correctly if each oil is used separately from the other during any one session/application.

There are a variety of different methods in terms of applying the essential oils and reaping their benefits. Traditionally, Himalayan oil has been used in baths, massages, soaps, as an aftershave, and even during meditations whereas the Texas oil has been used predominantly in baths, during massages, as a mist spray, and in steam inhalations. Now, let it be noted that either of these oils could technically be applied in any of the above-mentioned methods. I simply wanted to confer which methods were used more for each oil from a traditional standpoint. It is also worth mentioning that it is not advisable for women who are pregnant to use these oils even though they are both non-toxic. This is simply because cedar allergies do exist and voluntarily exposing yourself to a potential allergic reaction would be unpleasant or dangerous for anyone, especially for women who are pregnant and the little ones they’re carrying.

Ultimately, both the Texas essential cedar oil and the Himalayan essential cedar oil are astonishingly beneficial and are held in the highest of regard within the healing community. If you only have a place for one of these oils in your oil-aid kit, then I would advise assessing your needs and making your selection accordingly. That being said, if your oil-aid kit has enough room, having a vial of both of these oils is always going to be a sound choice. So, good luck and Happy Healing!

5 Reasons To Use Cinnamon In Your Holiday Recipes

cinnamonWith the Holiday Season right around the corner, it’s time to start considering that all-important delicacy that most adults look forward to tempestuously (at least I do) during this time of year.  I’m not talking about presents.  I’m not talking about vacation.  I’m not even talking about those ever-elusive and far-too-rare familial gatherings.  No, sirs and madams, I’m talking about that month-and-a-half-long, no-holds-barred, home-cooked holiday food buffet!

Every family has recipes and traditions that manifest over the years and are continued with each passing season.  And, speaking of seasons, the “seasoning” of such traditions has become all-important due to the signature nature of specific dishes.  Therefore, taking notes of which spices and seasonings create the best dynamic flavors while taking into consideration the health benefits/consequences of these tasty additives can be paramount when cooking for your family, I’ll be concentrating on going over the specific health benefits of some of my favorite spices starting today with…wait for it…Cinnamon…the spice of kings.

Cinnamon is an incredible little spice!  It’s tasty, powerful or faint (depending on the application) and hosts a whole slew of incredible health benefits.  Of the two types of cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon is the one considered to be the healthiest, by far.  It’s the one considered to be “true cinnamon.”  The compound in cinnamon that is universally considered to be responsible for the benefits on health and metabolism is called cinnamaldehyde.

Making christmas cookies with cookie cutters and vintage rolling-pin
It can lower your blood pressure
Antioxidants run rampant in cinnamon.  Antioxidants, such as the polyphenols found in cinnamon, protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.  In fact, it is so rich
in antioxidants that it even eclipses known superfoods such as garlic and oregano.  Additionally, cinnamon may help reduce the risk of heart disease due to the fact that it actively reduces blood pressure while lowering the levels of LDLs (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.  It has even been shown to increase HDLs (good cholesterol) in studies where subjects were given just 120 milligrams per day.

It works as an anti-inflammatory
The anti-inflammatory properties in cinnamon are also a health staple.  The antioxidants specific to cinnamon may have anti-inflammatory properties in them which help the fight against inflammation which, over the long term, can ultimately be dangerous due to the body turning on itself and attacking its own tissues.  Cinnamon may help fight against these chronic forms of inflammation.
Plate of muesli with milk, honey, cinnamon and nuts over textile background. See series
It can lower your blood sugar
In addition, cinnamon is known to have extremely beneficial effects on blood sugar levels.  It lowers blood sugar levels by decreasing the amount of glucose that enters into the bloodstream after eating and by mimicking insulin.  Furthermore, cinnamon has been shown to effectively increase the body’s sensitivity to its own hormonal insulin by reducing an individual’s “insulin resistance” which is a common trait for people with such conditions as Type 2 Diabetes.


It can prevent neurodegenerative diseases
Studies have recently shown that cinnamon may have an important role in fighting/preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.  Studies show that compounds found in cinnamon seem to help inhibit the build-up of the protein tau which is one of the tell-tell signs of Alzheimer’s Disease while, at the same time, help to improve motor functions and skills and neurotransmitter levels in mice.


Cinnamon fights cancer
There has been recent evidence to suggest that cinnamon may help in the fight against cancer.  Certain test tube and animal studies have shown that certain cinnamon extracts can be toxic to cancer cells, resulting in overall cell death, and can be beneficial in the prevention of blood vessel formation in tumors thus slowing tumor growth.  Furthermore, cinnamaldahyde, which is the active ingredient in cinnamon, has been shown to help fight other various bacterial and fungal infections ranging from respiratory tract infections and salmonella to tooth decay and bad breath!Vintage mug with hot chocolate served with chunks of white and dark chocolate and almonds on old wooden table

It also fights HIV

Lastly, cinnamon from the Cassia strain has been found to fight against HIV-1 which is the most common form of the HIV virus found in humans.  Human trials are needed to confirm these test-tube findings, but cinnamon was found to be the most effective treatment for HIV-1 out of almost 70 different medicinal plants.

The take-home message is that cinnamon is a delicious supplement to any meal with extraordinary health benefits on many different fronts.  It is important to remember that the Ceylon strain is the more beneficial of the two strains and, as a result, may be a bit harder to find as it’s more expensive than the Cassia strain.  Additionally, be sure to use cinnamon that is “Non-Irradiated” (it says so right on the container) for the sake of maintaining the integrity of all the medicinal benefits that cinnamon has to offer.  Now, go enjoy your holiday meals with the “spice of the kings” and stay healthy!