Easy Jam and Jelly Roundup

jelly I love jam and jelly. It’s great with so many things, from PB&J to oatmeal, to peach-smothered pork chops(as a bonus I’m sharing that recipe at the bottom, too). I was surprised to learn that homemade jam is incredibly easy to make, and even better, you know exactly what’s going in it. About a year ago, I ended up with all kinds of fresh produce that was locally grown. I knew I’d never use it all before it went bad, so I started looking up recipes, and of course jelly recipes came up.

Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite jam recipes from around the web, made from apples, pears, pumpkin, peaches, and even hot peppers for those of you who like a little spice . Some of these are so easy they can be made in the slow cooker! It doesn’t get muc


h better than that. And none of them are made with pectin. It may just be me, but I don’t like jams and jellies made with pectin.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter


This recipe is super easy and tastes amazing! Find the recipe here. You can make it a little on the chunky side or blend it if you prefer it smoother.

Spiced Pear Butter

This is another one that’s made in the slow cooker. This is one of my husband’s favorites and is great on toast. Get the recipe here.

jellyPeach Jam

This is my personal favorite and is made with only 3 ingredients. It tastes just like summer in a jar! You can also use almost any fruit in place of the peaches. The recipe is here.

Hot Pepper Jelly

I am not a fan of spicy foods but my husband loves this one. Here is the recipe.

Spiced Pumpkin Butterjelly

This recipe is fantastic! I like to make it with fresh pumpkin that I’ve prepared myself. Get the recipe here.

Bonus: Peach Smothered Pork Chops

These are hands down the best pork chops I’ve ever had. I love to cook these up with homemade peach jam.

What are your favorite homemade jam and jelly recipes? Let me know in the comments below!

Natural Pain Remedies

painI have experienced chronic joint and muscle pain since I was about 16. Arthritis runs strongly in my husband’s family, so he also deals with pain issues. We’ve both taken our fair share of pain killers such as tylenol, ibuprofen, and aleve. But the more I learned about the dangers and side effects of taking excess pain killers, the more I wanted to find a better way to manage pain. Pain can be alleviated with essential oils and other natural remedies, without the dangerous side effects.

Please note, I am not a doctor and this article is intended for informational purposes only.

Essential Oils for Pain

  • Lavender oil definitely tops this list. Its anti-inflammatory properties can relieve body aches. Mix a few drops with coconut oil and massage into the affected area. It’s great for headaches, too! Using lavender oil in a diffuser or warm bath can also help you sleep!
  • Peppermint oil relaxes muscles in the lower back, reduces tension headaches and even pain caused by fibromyalgia. Peppermint oil should definitely be mixed with a carrier oil before applying to the skin; otherwise it could burn.
  • Ginger oil is effective in treating pain caused by autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus. It can be used topically or inhaled. Ginger oil has been found to have no adverse side effects even when used for extended periods of time.
  • Lemongrass oil relieves aches and pains. It has anti inflammatory properties and improves blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms, back aches, sprains, and cramps. Try rubbing diluted lemongrass oil on your body or use it in a foot soak along with epsom salt.

Other Pain Remedies

  • The curcumins in turmeric are anti inflammatory and can be purchased in capsule form painto manage pain. It should also include black pepper, as it has properties that help the body absorb more of the curcumin rather than having most of it flushed from the body by the liver. I prefer to purchase organic powdered turmeric and add it to our eggs along with black pepper.
  • Arnica is a lesser known pain remedy but it works wonders. It’s used topically and reduces pain from insect bites, bruises, and even arthritis. It’s also great for pain caused by carpal tunnel. For some, the arnica helps enough that they were able to avoid surgery. It can be purchased as a gel or cream and used directly on the skin.
  • The old stand-by of a hot bath with epsom salts is great for relaxing sore muscles. You can even add in any of the essential oils mentioned earlier for increased pain relief and relaxation.

Homemade Pain Remedies

Try these homemade remedies to manage your pain:

What natural remedies help you with pain? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Use Bentonite Clay for Your Health

bentonite clayRecently, bentonite clay is gaining popularity for its healing properties. What is bentonite clay, how can you find a good quality clay, and how do you use it? Today I will answer all those questions.

What is Bentonite Clay and How Can I Find Good Quality Clay?

Bentonite clay is made up of aged volcanic ash. The name comes from the largest known deposit of bentonite clay in Fort Benton, Wyoming. Bentonite clay produces an “electrical charge” when hydrated, giving it the ability to absorb toxins. Bentonite is known for its ability to absorb and remove toxins, heavy metals, impurities, and chemicals. A good quality bentonite clay should be gray or cream in color, not white. If you intend to use it internally, make sure the clay is food grade.

Uses for Bentonite Clay

There are many ways to use bentonite clay:

  • Use on the skin to relieve itch or draw out toxins. Make a paste with the clay and some water, then spread on the affected area. Once it dries and starts to crack, wash it off. This is great for bug bites or itchy skin. I also used it when I had MRSA to draw the infection to the surface.
  • Bentonite clay can improve tooth and gum health. I use it in homemade toothpaste, which you can read about here.
  • bentonite clayUse as a detoxing foot soak. Make a paste with the clay and some apple cider vinegar, coat the bottoms of your feet, and wait until it starts to dry and crack. Soak your feet in warm water and epsom salt for 15-20 minutes. Use a pumice stone to remove any clay and dead skin. (You can also add essential oils to the water.)
  • Used internally, it can help with digestive issues-nausea relief and vomiting in pregnant women, constipation, and even IBS symptoms. Drink 1/2 to 1 teaspoon once per day. Mix the clay with water, preferably in a container with a lid so you can shake the clay and make it dissolve. Then drink it right away.
  • It’s safe for pets, too. You can add bentonite clay to your pet’s water to help with vomiting. It can also help with parasites, such as worms. Add 1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon mixed with bentonite clayyour pet’s water or on his food. Make sure your pet has plenty of water available.
  • Use in place of baby powder. Apply the clay to the skin of a baby that is irritated, red or needs soothing in the same way that traditional powders are used. Allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping or rinsing it away.


What are your favorite uses for bentonite clay? Share in the comments below!

How I Treated My Depression Without Antidepressants

depressionDepression affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide. In the United States alone, an estimated 16 million people suffer from depression. That is about 7% of the population. Depression comes in many forms-major depression, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, post-partum depression, psychotic depression-the list goes on.

The purpose of this post isn’t to go into detail on each form of depression, but rather to give you a basic overview of depression and its symptoms. I would also like to share my personal experience with depression as well as how I was able to wean myself off of antidepressants and treat my depression naturally.

I am not a doctor and this article is not intended to be medical advice. It is presented for informational purposes only.

What is Depression?

We all experience sadness and grief from time to time, but they usually don’t last. Depression is more-it is a period of overwhelming sadness accompanied by other emotional and physical symptoms.There is no one risk factor or cause for depression. Risk factors include:

  • brain chemistry, hormones, or genetics
  • low self-esteem
  • anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • abuse
  • chronic illness
  • substance abuse
  • some prescription medications
  • family history of depression

Just as the possible causes of depression vary, the symptoms vary from person to person, too. Emotional symptoms can include:

  • feelings of sadness or emptiness that persist
  • extreme irritability over minor things
  • anxiety and restlessness
  • anger management issues
  • loss of interest in favorite activities
  • fixation on the past or on things that have gone wrong
  • thoughts of death or suicide

Depression has physical symptoms, too. Some of them are:

  • insomnia or sleeping too much
  • debilitating fatigue
  • increased or decreased appetitedepression
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • unexplained aches and pains

Left untreated, depression can lead to:

  • substance abuse
  • headaches and other chronic pain
  • phobias, panic disorders, anxiety attacks
  • trouble at school or work
  • family and relationship problems
  • social isolation
  • obesity due to eating disorders, raising the risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • self-mutilation
  • attempted suicide or suicide

Treatment for Depression

Depression is serious and should never be taken lightly. Almost 800,000 people die from suicide every year. Conventionally, depression is treated with antidepressant medication, psychological counseling, or a combination of the two. In more severe cases, transcranial magnetic stimulation or even electroconvulsive therapy may be used. You can Google those terms to find out more about them.

depressionAntidepressants come with a list of side effects. These include:

  • nausea
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • sexual problems
  • fatigue and drowsiness
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • blurred vision
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • anxiety

Another problem with medications is that they are not a cure. They only treats symptoms and if someone stops taking them, the symptoms come back. Some antidepressants can even  make the depression worse. But untreated depression is dangerous. So what can you do?

My Journey with Depression

I was first diagnosed with depression in my early 20s, though in retrospect I believe I suffered from depression from the time I was about 10 or 11. My family has a history of depression, so I’m sure that was a major factor for me. I also attribute my depression to abandonment issues from  my early childhood. My father has never been in my life, and that has always been very painful for me. It led to self-esteem and other issues. When I was diagnosed, I was not happy with my life. The job I had loved was quickly burning me out and I felt stuck.

Once diagnosed, I was prescribed Prozac. I was started at the lowest dose. It would work for a while, then I would need a higher dosage. Eventually I was at the highest dosage. My doctor put me on another antidepressant, though I don’t remember which one. This one made me very angry. I was crabby, to put it mildly, and my family didn’t want to be around me. I couldn’t blame them. After a month, my doctor tried another medication. I think I took that one for about 2 years. In that time, I resigned from  my job and got married. I definitely felt that my life had moved forward. I also began to notice side effects from the medication that weren’t there before. So I wanted to make a change.

Natural Treatment Alternatives

I began by researching natural treatments for depression. (If you are a regular reader, you know how much I love to do research!) I love the book Prescription for Natural Cures. You can pick up a copy here. This book has helped me many times.

Sometimes depression is affected by what we eat. A healthy diet helps to create healthy brain chemistry. You may need to make radical changes to your diet, especially if you eat a lot of processed or fast foods. Eating enough protein will boost your energy levels. Caffeine and refined sugars may give you a temporary boost, but will lead to a crash, making you more exhausted or irritable. Try to minimize your intake of these foods. Food allergies can also contribute to the symptoms of depression. This article explains how an elimination diet can help you determine whether you have food allergies. One food I cut out is wheat. That dietary change helped reduce many of my health issues.

Supplements can help with depression, too. 5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, taken with a good vitamin B complex worked wonders for me. Vitamin B6 is required for the 5-HTP to be metabolized. 5-HTP is a naturally occurring substance derived from the seed pods of griffonia simplicifolia, a West African medicinal plant. 5-HTP works by restoring serotonin levels and can improve general mood, depression, anxiety, insomnia,weight loss, pms, chronic headaches, and migraines. 50 mg taken 3 times a day is the recommended dosage. A couple of other helpful supplements are a good multivitamin and fish oil. Both contribute to general health and nutrition.

depressionFinal Thoughts

Other possibilities to consider are spending time outdoors. It’s helpful to get some sunshine each day, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Regular exercise can improve depression. My husband and I walk as often as possible. We would like it to be every day, but we can’t always make that work. Build a good support group of friends and family. Sometimes just talking things over with someone you’re close to will lift your mood. Some people also like to keep a journal. Make the effort to do things you enjoy. Depression can make it hard to be interested in hobbies, but I have often found that one I push myself to get started, I enjoy whatever it is I’m working on. Do what you reasonably can to reduce stress in your life. Be sure to get enough sleep. Being tired will make depression worse. Essential oils are useful as well. I personally love lavender oil; it’s calming and helps me to sleep.

If you do stop taking antidepressant medications, it is important not to quit cold turkey. You should be weaned off gradually and this is best done under the advice of a doctor. Some of the antidepressants I took gave me the shakes and dizzy spells if I missed a day.

Be patient as you figure out what works for you. It may take a little trial and error when experimenting with treatments. Make a list of what does work for you when you figure it out. Sometimes on a bad day I don’t think about things that can help me. You will still have bad days. I do. Sometimes the difficulties and stresses of life get me down, or I’m down and don’t even know why. It’s going to happen. But it does pass. My husband is a huge help and support during these times. He is so patient with my bad moods and crabbiness. He also helps me by reminding me what I can do to help myself on the bad days. I don’t know what I would do without him.

What helps you with depression? Let me know in the comments!

Battle the Flu Naturally

fluLast week, my husband and I battled the flu. He came down with it first, and a couple of days later, I was sick as well. It’s been miserable-fever, aches, coughing, sore throat. My husband needed a breathing treatment and was prescribed an inhaler because his lungs sounded so bad. So I began reading up on the symptoms and learning natural ways to treat them. I have learned a lot and would like to share what I’ve found with you.

I am not a doctor and this article is presented for information purposes only. It is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition.

Fever and Achesflu

A fever is your body trying to fight infection. If possible, letting a fever run its course can actually help you heal faster. That being said, a fever can be miserable. It often comes with aches and sometimes chills. It’s important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Chilled food such as ice pops or yogurt can help you feel cooler. A lukewarm bath can also be helpful.

I try to avoid painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen as much as possible; they carry too much risk of organ damage. I prefer a heating pad or heat pack when I’m achy. This time it was my lower back that ached the most and I just could not get comfortable, no matter what I tried. The heat pack worked wonders!

fluCough and Sore Throat

I have a great sore throat remedy here. Warm liquids, such as tea, are wonderful for a sore throat. Gargling with warm salt water is also soothing. These homemade cough drops made my throat feel much better. The article in the link is very helpful, as it explains why each ingredient is helpful for the sore throat.

The cough that went along with this flu was horrible and painful. It was a mostly dry cough that made the chest ache. The worst was trying to sleep at night. As soon as we would lay down the coughing would get worse. Trying to sleep sitting up is uncomfortable. So the result was a lot of tossing and turning and trying to get comfortable.

The most effective remedy we found for the coughing is eucalyptus oil. We found it to be more effective than my husband’s inhaler. There are several ways to use it for relief. When I was coughing uncontrollably, I would inhale it directly from the bottle. You can also put a few drops on a tissue or handkerchief and give it a sniff when needed. It would calm the cough and relieve my chest pain immediately. I would run it in my diffuser at night, and while it didn’t completely keep me from waking up coughing, it was a huge help. We also added a few drops of the oil to hot water and inhaled the steam. If you try this, remember to close your eyes the entire time your face is over the water to avoid burning them. I also mixed the eucalyptus oil with coconut oil and rubbed it on my chest. The relief was incredible.

You can read more about uses of eucalyptus oil here. A word of caution: eucalyptus oil can be dangerous if ingested.

Other Flu Tips

I had a slight earache after a couple of days. Lavender oil did the trick for me. It is important to never put essential oils in your ears. Put a few drops on a cotton ball or cotton pad and put the cotton in your ear. My earache was worst in the morning so I would use the oil at night.

Staying hydrated is important when sick. If you aren’t hydrated your body can’t heal. Get plenty of rest, as this will also help you heal.

cream of chicken soupHow many times did your mom give you chicken soup when you were sick? When I’m sick I usually don’t have much appetite. Chicken soup is easy to get down and nourishing. I make mine with homemade bone broth. (Read this article for more information on bone broth.) I make my bone broth and store it in the freezer so it’s ready to go when I need it. As soon as I realized we were getting sick, I pulled some out of the freezer and started a big batch of chicken soup in the slow cooker. It was nice to not think about cooking while we were sick.

Extra vitamins can help. As soon as my husband came down with the flu, I knew it was only a matter of time until I got it. So i tried to get ahead of it by loading up on vitamin c and echinacea. I drank 2 packs of Emergen C a day. (You can pick some up here.) Although I did come down with the flu, I don’t think I was as sick as my husband. If you can get ahead of the flu, it will help lessen the severity and duration.

After the Flu

Once we started to feel better, we kept up with the vitamins to make sure we kicked it. Of course, the cough is hanging on so we are continuing with the eucalyptus oil as well. One think I was especially concerned with was washing all of our bedding so we weren’t sleeping in our sick germs. I washed everything with tea tree oil to disinfect. I made a disinfecting spray (found here) for the mattress and pillows. It felt so good to get into a nice, clean bed after being sick. I have also been running some refreshing citrus oils in the diffuser to give our house a nice, clean smell. It’s very refreshing.

How do you combat the flu? Let me know in the comments below!

Homemade Personal Care Roundup

personal careI have been learning over the last couple of years how to replace products such as deodorant and hand soap with homemade versions. Today I want to share with you some of my favorites from around the web. Click on the titles to link to the original web page.


I can’t stand the smell of hairspray, not to mention all the harmful chemicals you breathe in. This homemade version is simple and customizable.


Deodorant is a difficult product to replace with homemade. It’s not hard to make, but it can be difficult to find a recipe that works for you. This recipe works great for both my husband and myself. One note: baking soda deodorants can cause some people to break out. This is because the baking soda disrupts the body’s ph balance. This can be remedied by applying a bit of vinegar under the arms and letting it dry before putting on the deodorant.

Hand Sanitizerpersonal care

Store-bought hand sanitizers are usually full of chemicals and fragrances. This recipe is easy to put together and a little goes a long way. You can even add different essential oils for different scents.

Bathroom Air Freshener

This spray has a clean, refreshing scent. I can’t find the webpage where I originally found this one; it seems to have been taken down. But it’s super easy:

  1. Fill a small spray bottle with purified water.
  2. Add about a teaspoon of witch hazel. This allows the essential oils to mix with the water.
  3. Add 6 drops each peppermint oil, lavender oil, and grapefruit oil.
  4. Shake to mix and spray when needed in the bathroom. (Or anywhere else you need it!)

personal careItch Relief Spray

My husband has horrible skin allergies, and this spray takes the edge off the itch for him.

What homemade personal care items do you use around the house?Let me know in the comments below.


How to Reduce Your Trash Output and Save Money

trashOne of the difficulties of living in such a rural area is dealing with trash. No matter how hard you work at it, you will still produce garbage. The only trash pickup in our area is expensive, so we have been motivated to be more aware of how much garbage we produce. We have also needed to get creative when disposing of our garbage. How have we been able to avoid paying for regular trash pickup? Keep reading!

Food Trashtrash

Dealing with our food trash turned out to be fairly simple. We have plans to put in a garden, so it made sense to build a compost bin. We built it out of pallets. It’s just a square of 4 pallets put together with baling wire. We purchased a good quality garden soil to add to the compost. We started with a couple of bags in the bottom of the bin and began tossing in any food scraps we have. Every so often we add another bag of soil. We have the bin set up right behind our chicken coop, so we when we clean the coop that goes into the compost, too. The result is a rich compost that is wonderful for gardening.

Pet Trash

This one proved to be a little tougher. We have 5 indoor cats, so as you can imagine, we go through a lot of cat litter. As long as we’ve had them, I have purchased traditional clay litter. The problem after we moved, though, was disposing of the used litter. We couldn’t bury it without contaminating ground water, so we would store it in bags until we had enough to take to the dump. It was heavy and gross, and it cos $1 a bag to dump it. That may not sound bad, but it added up quick. We were using 2 40 pound buckets of litter a month. I also learned that the clay used is obtained by strip mining, so it’s just bad for the environment all around.

It seemed like there had to be a better way, so I researched the topic. I discovered that there natural cat litters out there that are much more environmentally friendly. We switched to Blue Buffalo Multi Cat Clumping Litter. You can find it here. It’s made from walnut shells, something that would normally be wasted. And once used it can be composted or even flushed down the toilet. We add ours to the compost. Not hauling heavy bags of used litter to the dump made us very happy! Our cats adjusted to it with no difficulty. One of our cats had chronic runny eyes and sneezing, but once we switched, that went away. We didn’t realize that the clay litter would affect them like that.

You may be asking, though, how does it perform in comparison to traditional clay litter? And how does it compare cost wise? It clumps just as well, and a 26 pound bag lasts us about 2 months, even with 5 cats. We actually spend less on this litter than on traditional. Plus we save on dump fees. It is dark in color, so I wouldn’t advise using it in areas with light colored carpets. It still produces a small amount of dust but seems to track less than clay litter. We use sifting litter boxes to minimize how much is wasted as well.

Paper Trash

This required a bit more creativity. We burn whatever trash we can. (I know this isn’t the most environmentally friendly option, but a lot of people dump their trash in a nearby dry wash bed. Burning is preferable to that.) We did want to minimize how much we burn, as well as save a few dollars. We began looking for ways to go paperless throughout the house. For instance, I made cloth napkins for the kitchen. With a little creativity, we switched many of our disposable products to reusable and reduced the amount of burnable trash we were producing. I’ll go into more detail in a later post, but we were able to save about $40 per month. That is a lot of money to basically be throwing away each month.

trashOther Trash

There are still some trash items we can’t take care of ourselves, such as glass or cans. There is a place locally that buys metal or plastic for recycling, so we can take it there or to the dump. My husband has plans to build his own forge, so eventually he’ll be using our metal trash for that. I often wash out glass jars or bottles to reuse them around the house. They are great for taking meals to people without having to worry about getting your dishes back. Plus I prefer to drink out of glass over plastic.So with some creative thinking, we don’t have to pay for trash pickup. Plus it feels good to put our trash to good use where possible rather than have it rotting in some landfill.

Do you have any suggestions for handling trash? Let me know in the comments below!

Restore Your Teeth Naturally

dentalI think dental pain is one of the worst kinds of pain you can experience. Whether it’s from cavities or sensitive teeth, when your teeth hurt you’re just plain miserable. Our health insurance doesn’t cover dental, so I’m not even sure how long it’s been since I’ve seen a dentist. I’m thinking 8+ years? Gasp!

I’ve had sensitive teeth most of my life, but have never so much as needed a cavity filled. Overall I am fortunate that my teeth are in pretty good shape. But a couple of years ago I started to experience pain in one my upper molars. At first I thought it was sensitivity, as it mostly bothered me when I would eat anything too chewy or too sweet. But it gradually got worse, to the point that I couldn’t chew on that side of my mouth and even needed to protect the tooth when drinking water.

If you are a regular reader, you know by now that I love to research any health problems we encounter and I prefer to care for myself and my family as naturally as possible. So I would like to share with you what I have found and maybe it will help you avoid costly dental care.

I am not a doctor and this article is presented for information purposes only.

The Foundation of Dental Health

In order to have healthy teeth, they must be nourished. Cavities are caused by a number of factors, including bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria loves sugar, so limit sugary foods and drinks to minimize bacteria in your mouth. Eat calcium-rich foods to strengthen teeth and enamel. If you don’t put the right nutrients in, it can weaken your teeth.

Good dental hygiene is also important to the health of your teeth. Flossing removes particles of food between your teeth that can lead to cavities. Brushing well cleans the surface of your teeth and gums, removing plaque. (If you have eaten something acidic, such as orange juice, wait at least 15 minutes before brushing. Otherwise you can actually damage your enamel.) A good mouthwash can rinse away particles that were missed. It is important to stick to this routine daily. I follow it twice a day, in the morning and right before bed. Preventing cavities is much easier than repairing them.

dentalWhat’s in Commercial Dental Care Products?

Flouride has been added to our water supply and tooth care products since the 1960s. There is much controversy over how safe this practice is. I won’t go into too many of the details here, but recent research shows that flouride could increase the risk of bone fractures later in life, is associated with a moderate cancer risk, could contribute to hypothyroidism, and other health concerns. So I choose to use products without flouride.

A common ingredient in many toothpastes is glycerin. Why is this a problem? Glycerin coats your teeth and prevents them from remineralizing. Even most natural toothpastes contain glycerin.

What about mouthwash? Many commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can actually dry out mouth tissue and irritate sores in the mouth. They also often contain chemicals, dyes, or artificial sweeteners. Several contain acidic stabilizing agents so they will last longer on the shelf. Acid will eat away your enamel over time. Some people skip brushing and just use mouthwash, which does not clean thoroughly enough.

With so many potentially harmful ingredients in the toothpastes and mouthwashes out there, what can you do? Read the ingredients carefully. Try to find products that are all natural. Or better yet, make your own. It’s not hard to do and I include recipes for both mouthwash and toothpaste you can make yourself. They actually cost less than store bought, too. The best part of making your own is that you know exactly what’s going in the finished product and in your body.

My Dental Care Routinedental

Many people have stopped using toothpaste and mouthwash altogether and switched to oil pulling. It’s been around for thousands of years. Simply swirl a tablespoon of coconut, olive or sesame oil around your mouth for anywhere from 5-20 minutes. When you’re finished, spit it out and rinse. I didn’t care for oil pulling on its own because my mouth never felt completely clean. But I do like to start with oil pulling and then continue with flossing and brushing.

Another interesting topic that I found in my research is remineralizing. This is a process that many dentists previously thought was impossible, but new research shows it IS possible. Basically, with the right nutrition and hygiene, your teeth can restore themselves. Read this article for more details.

To make sure I’m getting the proper nutrients, I eat as healthy as possible. (That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the occasional unhealthy snack, but I limit how much I consume.) I also take a calcium and magnesium supplement to aid in remineralizing. A word of caution: too much calcium can cause other health problems, so do your research and use with care.

My dental hygiene routine (say that three times fast) begins with flossing. I’ve always had a hard time with floss, so I prefer floss picks. They make it easier for me to reach my back teeth. Make sure your floss isn’t coated with something harmful. Next I brush thoroughly with my homemade toothpaste, making sure to get the backs of my teeth as well as the front. And finally, I rinse with homemade mouthwash. I’ve been following this routine for about a year and the pain in my tooth is almost completely gone. If I’m not careful with very cold foods, I will still experience mild pain. My teeth are also cleaner and my breath is fresher than ever. The time and effort put in to care for my teeth is worth NOT having costly and painful dental work done.

Recipes for Mouthwash and Toothpaste

5 from 1 vote

Homemade Toothpaste

Author jcantral


  • 1/3 cup bentonite clay
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 15-25 drops essential oils (see notes)


  1. Put bentonite clay in a bowl.

  2. Heat the water on the stove, then stir in coconut oil until it is melted.

  3. Add the water/coconut oil mixture to the clay and mix thoroughly. It may take a little time to get the right consistency!

  4. Add the salt and choice of essential oils and mix thoroughly.

  5. Keep in a covered jar. I like to use clean baby food jars. Dip your toothbrush in the paste and moisten before brushing.

Recipe Notes

Don't use metal with your bentonite clay. It will change the properties, so always use plastic or ceramic bowls and utensils.

You can give your toothpaste any flavor you like using essential oils. Peppermint and spearmint are good options. Cinnamon is also tasty. Tea tree has antibacterial properties. I also like to use Nature's Shield/OnGuard/Thieves. You may need to experiment a little to find what works for you.

I do not like to add baking soda to my toothpaste, as overuse can actually damage your teeth. I do, however, add it to my mouthwash.


5 from 1 vote

Homemade Mouthwash

Author jcantral


  • 16 ounces purified water
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 15-25 drops essential oils (see notes)


  1. Put all ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well.

Recipe Notes

Peppermint or spearmint oil are great for freshening breath. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties. Cinnamon adds great flavor. Nature's Shield/OnGuard/Thieves oil are wonderful blends for health and boosting the immune system. You may need to experiment a little to find the flavors you like best.

What does your dental care routine look like? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!



Get Rid of Stress with Essential Oils

stressWe all get stress from time to time. Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Simply put, stress can cause us to feel overwhelmed. We are busier than ever in this day and age and it can be tough trying to keep up with the demands of caring for a family, working, keeping up with friends, and the million and one things on our to-do-lists.

It’s hard to make the time, but it’s so important to de- stress once in a while. Stress can affect so much of your life, from your emotions, behaviors, and thinking ability, to your physical health. We all handle stress differently, so we can be affected in different ways. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, either. What helps one person unwind may not help another. The key is to find what works for you.

I love using essential oils. They have so many uses. Let’s talk about why essential oils are great for reducing your stress level and why they work so well.

How Do Essential Oils Reduce Stress?

Essential oils have a fragrant molecules that can have a direct effect on the areas of our brain in charge of controlling feelings of stress, anxiety and even panic and depression. In a sense, essential oils “adapt” to what we need. If you are restless or agitated, essential oils can have a calming effect. If you are depressed, the same oil can uplift your mood.

How to Use Essential Oils

  1. Inhale directly: I like to inhale directly from the bottle
  2. Rub directly on the skin: Mix with a carrier oil to avoid skin damage and rub into your temples, wrists or anywhere, for full body relaxation.
  3. Use on-the-go: You can buy an essential oil inhaler to carry with you. I like these ones. Or put a few drops in a handkerchief for stress relief on the go.
  4. Add to your shower: Use a few drops in your shower or bath.
  5. Use a diffuser: (I use this one.) Use a diffuser to make your whole room a stress-free zone. This is my personal favorite!

Which Oils Should You Use For Stress?

Keep in mind that you may need to experiment a little to figure out what works best for you. What works for one person may not work for another. Some oils have a strong fragrance that is too much for some people. So just keep tweaking it until you figure out what you like. It would be counterproductive if your oils were stressing you out more!

Here is a list of oils that are great for stress and some symptoms they help with:

  1. Ylang ylang: anger, confusion, depression, irritability
  2. Orange: anxiety, fear, frustration, depression
  3. Geranium: agitation, discouragement, mood swings
  4. Lavendar: anxiety, concentration, depression, grief, irritability, mood swings, panic, restlessness
  5. Peppermint: concentration, confusion, mood swings, frustration, forgetfulness

Essential Oil Blends to Reduce Stress

The following blends contain the oils above and can be used in any of the methods listed. Download the chart to keep it handy!


What essential oils help you unwind? Let me know in the comments!


How I Finally Got MRSA Under Control, Part 3

MRSA under controlYou can read part 1 and part 2 of  my experiences with MRSA by clicking on the links.

I am not a doctor and the information in this article is not meant to be construed as medical advice. Also I am not affiliated with the companies of any products mentioned in this article.

I’d already had one abscess caused by MRSA drained at the emergency room , and it had been about a year since my last outbreak. I began to get small bumps under my right arm, somewhere I hadn’t had an outbreak before. I immediately started using essential oils and heat on the bumps and was able to get them under control, and took the OnGuard capsules for another 3 months and everything seemed alright. It was about another year before I had yet another outbreak. This one would be the worst of them all.

My Worst MRSA Outbreak

My husband and I spent three weeks travelling in August 2017. We drove through Utah, Arizona, and California. We visited friends and family along the way, some we hadn’t seen in years. It was the first big trip we’d taken in 4 1/2 years, and overall it was a relaxing trip and we definitely needed the break. But about halfway through, we both got sick with what we thought was allergies. In hindsight, I think it was actually a bad cold. (I was still sick with it 2 weeks later.) We were at my mom’s with only a couple of days left til we drove home, when an abscess started to form on my right knee. Fortunately it stayed rather small and drained on its own.

But then another one began to form on the back  of my right leg, just below my knee. I’m sure that I was run down from travelling(including not eating great on the road), and being sick. My immune system was down, allowing the MRSA to flare up again.

By the time we left my mom’s, it was red and hard. I knew what it was. Once we got home, I tried the heat treatment and the essential oils. After about 4 days, I started to run a fever and could hardly get off the couch. At this point the abscess had been growing for about 7 days. The next day, my fever was 102 and I knew I had to go to the emergency room. By now the abscess covered almost half of the lower part of my leg and I could barely walk. Once again, they made an incision and drained the abscess. The doctor gave me more antibiotics and told me to come back the next day to have it checked. I reluctantly took the antibiotics, since they were short-term and I don’t take them often.

MRSA under controlWhen I returned to the doctor for a follow-up, there was still a pocket that hadn’t drained, so a second incision was made. And I had to come back again the next day. This picture was taken the day after the second incision was made. The black marker shows how much area the abscess had covered. By now my fever had broken. At least this time it was looking better. I had to go back in twice over the next week for follow-ups. The doctor told me I should see a primary care doctor and they would probably put me on low-dose antibiotics for an extended period of time. I definitely didn’t want to do that, so I needed to do more research.

Herbs and Vitamins for MRSA

One of my favorite books for research is Prescription for Natural Cures by James F. Balch, M.D.,  Mark Stengler, N.M.D., and Robin Young Balch, N.D. The tagline on the cover reads, “A self-care guide for treating health problems with natural remedies including, diet, nutrition, supplements, and other holistic methods.” It’s a valuable resource, so naturally it was the first place I turned for help with my MRSA problem.

I learned that garlic is useful for its antibacterial properties. A good probiotic supports the immune system. Echinacea and goldenseal daily enhance immune function, helping your body to fight the infection. Goldenseal fights off bacterial, viral and fungal infections without producing resistance. (Goldenseal should not be taken for more than two weeks; after the two week period I switched to an echinacea supplement.) Vitamin E is also good for the immune system and nourishes the skin.A multivitamin is also a good idea for general health regardless. Pau d’arco is antimicrobial and is effective at fighting bacterial infections such as MRSA. Ashwagandha is an herb that is effective at fighting many infections, including MRSA.

Essential Oils for MRSA

Essential oils are also an excellent resource for fighting MRSA. In part 2 of this series I detailed the effectiveness of DoTERRA’s OnGuard against MRSA. (OnGuard is the same as Yong Living’s Thieves Oil or Now’s Nature’s Shield. I personally use Nature’s Shield, as it costs significantly less while still being a high quality oil. You can find it here, from Amazon. Or you can mix your own. The Prairie Homestead has the recipe here. If you mix your own, be sure to use only eucalyptus radiata for internal use. Any other form can be dangerous to ingest.) I have used the oil topically as well as internally. I also learned that tea tree oil is very effective against MRSA due to its antibacterial properties. MRSA colonizes in the nose, so I use a nasal spray with tea tree to kill off the colonies. You can also mix tea tree oil with a carrier oil and apply inside the nose with a q tip. Use about three drops of tea tree oil per one ounce of carrier oil.  I also wash with a tea tree soap and add the oil to my laundry to keep the infection from spreading to my husband.

My MRSA Prevention RoutineMRSA under control

This is the routine I follow every day based on my personal research:

  • Echinacea, 400 mg daily for immune support
  • 1 multivitamin daily for general health
  • Garlic, 500 mg daily for its antibacterial properties
  • Probiotic, 25 billion for immune support and maintaining a healthy balance
  • Ashwagandha, 450 mg daily to fight infection
  • Taking OnGuard/Thieves/Natures’s Shield daily
  • Tea tree nasal spray twice daily to keep MRSA colonization under control
  • Washing with a tree soap or body wash daily
  • Adding tea tree oil to my laundry to keep infection from spreading
  • Adding tea tree oil to my hand soap and washing my hands often

If this sounds like work, it is. But once I got in the habit, it became routine. And the trade-off is worth it. I haven’t had an outbreak in 4 months and hopefully I won’t have anymore.

Have you had an experience with MRSA? What treatments work for you? Let me know in the comments!