Saturday, October 29, 2016

Say no to Antibacterial Ointment

If you have kids, of any age, you know there is one thing that they always seem to have: cuts and scrapes. Whether is from falling off their bike or the cat was just done being loved on (a common occurrence for my younger kiddos) someone always has a boo-boo. And for me one of the things that I have kicked to the curb, in my house, is the use of the beloved triple antibiotic ointment. And I bet you wonder why. Simply put: bacteria have learned how to circumvent antibiotics. Meaning they are no longer affected by them. The overuse of antibiotics has lead to the accidental development of "superbugs." So outside of doctor prescribed antibiotics for severe infections, we don't use them. So what do I use on scratches and scrapes?? If I use anything, I use a very simple mix. And when I say simple, I mean it. But before I get into that, Lets look at the main ingredients in a basic over the counter triple antibiotic ointment.

Active Ingredients: Any component that provides pharmacological activity or other direct effect in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or affects the structure or any function of the body of man or animals.

Neomycin: is an antibiotic that's used to prevent or treat bacterial infections.
Polymyxin B: is an antibiotic primarily used for resistant gram negative infections
Bacitracin: is an antibiotic that stops the growth of certain bacteria.

Inactive ingredients: the ingredients that do not exert the intended therapeutic effect, and do not cause the side effects, known or unknown, associated with the particular drug. (they can very from name brand to generic brand, but for this purposed I am looking at a well known name brand)

Cocoa Butter: After Coco beans are cleaned, they are roasted and then pressed in hydraulic machinery, oozing forth cocoa butter
Cottonseed Oil: is a cooking oil extracted from the seeds of cotton plants. (High chance this is from a GMO crop)
Olive Oil: Olive oil  the oil obtained from the fruit of olive trees.
Sodium Pyruvate: "is added to many media formulations as a carbohydrate source that cells can easily access for energy production."

White Petrolatum: Distilled from petroleum.

Umm.....Not sure about you, but I only like two of those eight ingredients. So now that you have seen what's in a triple antibiotic ointment, what's the simple mix I use for cuts and scrapes?

Thieves Oil and Coconut oil. Yen, it doesn't get much simpler then that!

Thieves oil is a blend of 5 essential oils: Lemon, Clove bud, EucalyptusCinnamon and Rosemary. Different companies use different plant species to make their own blends, so when selecting your thieves oil, that is something to keep in mind. Also keep in mind that it may not be called "thieves oil." One company calls their blend "germ fighter." You can also make your own thieves mix by buying a vial of each of the above listed oils and mixing them. I found this recipe over at No Ordinary Homestead to share with you. If you want to make it a concentrate, just leave off the Jojoba oil, and use the drop amount she has listed for each essential oil.

  • 50 drops (1.9 ml) clove oil (Syzygium aromaticum a.k.a. Eugenia aromaticum or Eugenia      caryophyllata)
  • 50 drops (1.9 ml) lemon oil (Citrus limon)
  • 38 drops (1.5 ml) cinnamon oil (Cinnamomum verum a.k.a Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
  • 30 drops (1.25 ml) rosemary oil (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • 30 drops (1.25 ml) eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus radiate)

  • How do you make the Scratch and Scrape salve? Well you need four things:
    *Coconut Oil:
    *Thieves Oil blend: (always test a small amount on your skin to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction. Just because these are natural doesn't mean you wont react to them, and never apply full strength to your skin. Always apply a diluted mix of carrier oil and essential oil)
    *Small glass jar:  If you don't want to but them, use a baby food jar! I actually have an entire tub of them from when my daughter was a wee babe. The jars from the meats are a bit smaller, and work the best for small batch items like this. (Yes use glass, because while essential oils are natural plant extracts they are still chemicals and can react with plastic)
    Put 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in the jar, then add three drops of thieves oil blend. I use the toothpick to mix it up. Put the cap on and your done! Seriously easy right?

    And for those of you who are interested in learning more about essential oils, go see my girl over at The Oily Empire. She has been doing pod casts that talk about different oils, what they are good for, how to use them. She is also very responsive on her Facebook page, plus she is a total sweetheart! Here are links to her podcasts through iTunes and Google Play (just click the name and it will take you there!)

    There are also quite a few studies of essential oils and their antibacterial properties, if you know where to look. Here is one for Clove that I was able to locate. I will update and add more links for the other oils listed in this post, as I find them.

    This article does contain affiliate links.

    Thursday, October 27, 2016

    Making changes: Food matters

    I am going to preface this by saying I am just a mom. A normal, everyday, person. I am speaking from my place as a parent and consumer. I am not a scientist or an expert, so what I write is from my personal opinions and understanding. I have done my best to attach hyperlinks where needed, but I will include those same links, and others, at the bottom of the post so you can read up and look into things yourself.

    One of the things that I have noticed over the last several years is a demand for "transparency." This demand comes from "We the people" and, specifically for this post, its directed at the food industry. Now why are the People asking for transparency from the food industry? I have three letters for you GMO. Say whaaa? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. What is that specifically?

    "A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods." (Non-GMO Project)

    To make that easier to understand: Take the gene for spider silk (from a spider), and insert it into the DNA of a goat. Sounds totally Outer limits or twilight zone, but YES they have done this, and I want to say this is an extreme version of what a GMO is.

    Now there is LOTS of concern over GMO crops and the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These plants have been designed to have no response to, most of, these chemicals (the most notable one is glysophate, or in laymen's terms Round up) or in the case of Bt-Corn, to make their own toxin.

    Now I can see you scratching your head and asking yourself, why does this matter? It matters because of the potential impact on the environment and our overall physical health. In the United States GMO crops have been around for about 20 years, and no one really knew anything about them. Hell, most people didn't even know they existed till a few years ago. In my own state, we voted on whether or not companies needed to label products that included GMO derived ingredients, and unfortunately it was voted against. And despite being voted against, some companies are taking the high road and labeling their products that do have GMO ingredients. Now let me tell you which crops in the United States we have that are GMO and are produced commercially, and the most common, are: Soybean, Canola, Sugar Beet, Corn and Cotton. There are 9 main groups and if you include all the different varieties and cultivars, there are actually 60 in all.

    Now the main reason I started with this information is because consumers have become more interested in what is now going into the products they are buying and, because of this, it has made companies shift their labeling practices and change what ingredients they are using in their products.

    Now to get to the ooey gooey center of this whole thing: Consumer Products! I purchased two items from the same company (I have ZERO affiliation with any of these companies) and wanted to do a side by side look at the different ingredients each of them have. I did something similar with cake frosting and homemade frosting some time back, but this time I'm lookin at instant pudding! The reason why I am looking at the "same" item, both from the same company, is to highlight the exact shift in labeling and ingredients I mentioned above. Now lets get this dog and pony show started!

    When you read an ingredient list, whatever is first in the list is what makes up the vast majority of the product (by weight), each ingredient after that is a smaller and smaller amount (by weight).

    Pudding A:

    Sugar: Refined sugar, most likely from GMO sugar beets.
    Modified cornstarch: Chemically treated cornstarch to maintain texture in some foods
    Natural Flavor: Must be found in nature and provide flavor to the product but not actually add to the nutritional value of the item
    Artificial Flavor: Synthetic chemicals mixed together to create a specific flavor profile.
    Salt: "A crystalline compound, sodium chloride, NaCl, occurring as a mineral, a constituent of seawater, etc., and used for seasoning food, as a preservative, etc
    Disodium Phosphate: "used to enhance food characteristics including nutritional value and cooking performance"
    Tetrasodium Phosphate: Inorganic chemical phosphate sometimes used as a leavening agent.
    Monoglycerides: Emulsifying agent used to extern the shelf life of a product.
    Diglycerides: Emulsifying agent used to extern the shelf life of a product.
    Artificial color: "A combination of the 7 approved artificial food dyes"
    Yellow 5: AKA tartrazine; it is a yellow dye produced from petroleum and has been deemed safe by the FDA in food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
    Yellow 6: A Coal Tar derived dye that ranges in color from yellow to orange and even red.
    BHA: Butylated hydroxyanisole, a compound that is added to preserve fats.

    Grand total: 13 Ingredients
    Package Weight: 3.4oz
    Cost: $0.97

    Pudding B:
    Cane Sugar: Juice extracted from Sugarcane then spun to form sugar crystals.
    Modified Cornstarch: Chemically treated cornstarch to maintain texture in some foods.
    Disodium Phosphate: "used to enhance food characteristics including nutritional value and cooking performance"
    Tetrasodium Phosphate: Inorganic chemical phosphate sometimes used as a leavening agent.
    Salt: namely Sodium chloride, a crystalline mineral compound added to enhance flavor
    Natural Flavor: Must be found in nature and provide flavor to the product but not actually add to the nutritional value of the item
    Monoglycerides: Emulsifying agent used to extern the shelf life of a product.
    Diglycerides: Emulsifying agent used to extern the shelf life of a product.
    Vanilla Beans: are the seed pods from the Flat leafed vanilla orchid, but can come from any of the vanilla orchid verities.
    Annatto (for coloring): "Annatto is the seed or extract from the achiote tree, which is indigenous to Latin and South America. Annatto is used heavily in Central and South America as a dye, medicine, and as an ingredient in many foods."

    Grand total: 10 ingredients
    Package weight: 3.4oz
    Cost: $1.59

    Both products weigh the same, and make the same amount.

    Pudding A:
    62 cents cheaper
    Cardboard box Packaging (recyclable)
    Inner paper pouch (recyclable)

    Pudding B:
    More expensive
    Plastic pouch packaging (Downcyclable)

    Just based on ingredients Pudding B wins.

    Here are the links!