Bathe in your breakfast. Although oatmeal is a centuries-old skin soother, researchers only recently recognized the avenanthramides in oats as the key compounds that calm inflamed, itchy skin. Put whole oats in a clean, dry sock. Seal the open end with a rubber band, and then drop the sock into a warm or hot bath. Soak yourself for 15 to 20 minutes. (Winterize your skin care routine with our best cold-weather tips.)


Anyone who calls herbs hazardous is totally misinformed. Every year the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) compiles statistics on accidental deaths from drugs, herbs, vitamins, and other supplements. The AAPCC’s most recent report (2008) records 1,756 accidental poisoning deaths. How many were attributable to medicinal herbs? Zero. In every accidental death caused by a pharmacological agent, the culprit was a pharmaceutical. And it’s been that way for many years. Herbs are safer than drugs.
While this book has an interesting layout with lots of recipes, unfortunately it is not reliable. As someone with over twenty years of experience using herbs, it concerns me that people new to herbalism may be using this as a guide. For starters, this book doesn’t seem to differentiate between internal and external use such as the precaution not to use a ginger while taking certain medications at the end of a recipe for ginger salve when internal use is the only concern there. It also offers the precaution not to use a rosemary tincture hair product if you have epilepsy when that precaution refers to essential oil use, not tincture use. Not making these distinctions is sloppy and can lead to confusion. As another couple of examples, the photo accompanying the section on catnip (Nepeta cataria) is actually another more showy member of the Nepeta genus and the picture of chamomile is some kind of cultivated daisy which does make one wonder how familiar the author actually is with these plants. Reading through the book, I get the feeling the author has read studies and articles about the herbs but has little real practical experience or in-depth understanding of the herbs about which she is writing. While I'm certainly not familiar with every single application of common herbs, some of the applications she suggests don't seem to me to be based on either traditional use or scientific studies. Since she doesn't reference any studies or other herbalists or share her own anecdotal experiences, one does wonder where she comes up with certain applications such as feverfew as a nervine for fatigue from stress, as one example. There are plenty of other herbals out there which are not only more accurate but also more engaging. One such book which actually lives up to what this book purports to be is Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.
This natural sweetener may work just as well for a cough as over-the-counter medicines. That could be especially helpful for children who aren’t old enough to take those. But don’t give it to an infant or a toddler younger than 1. There’s a small risk of a rare but serious kind of food poisoning that could be dangerous for them. And while you may have heard that “local” honey can help with allergies, studies don’t back that up.
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