Wash your hands!

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Pro tip: wash your hands with soap.

Why? Because the weakest layer of a virus is the lipid (fat) layer. Soap molecules act like a magnet, with one end that bonds with water, the other that bonds with fat. Through this sudsy miracle, SOAP DISSOLVES FAT.

And when a virus loses its fat layer, it dies.

In a pinch, you can also kill a virus using alcohol (ie: hand sanitizer) but soap + water is far more effective.

Wash your hands, yo.

You’re welcome.

Psst… if you haven’t already, sign up for our newsletter now! Because we’ll be giving away free soap later today, and everybody loves free soap. Amiright?

 

Learn more about how soap works to kill viruses here.

Natural immune support for adults + kids (bonus elderberry gummies recipe)

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Cold season, the flu, and now the dreaded coronavirus. Many of us worry to some degree about falling ill in the winter every year, especially during the bridge between seasons when the weather swings unpredictably from cold to warm.

And with the onset of every potential pandemic, we worry even more.

Our first line of defense from any virus? A healthy, robust immune system.

Take simple, sensible actions to support a healthy immune response, and reduce your risk (and fears) for whatever bugs you might be exposed to. With regards to fear, I encourage you to not fall into the fear cycles perpetuated by an overzealous media. Weigh the actual risks, not the hype. Then get busy shoring up your immune system with some simple, tried-and-true tricks that can make all the difference in helping you stay healthy and strong.

Support a healthy immune system

Follow the six tips below for your healthiest immune system yet. Then talk to your holistic health care provider or family doctor for even more solid options to better health, and to ensure that the options below are a match for your family and your existing health conditions.

One Small Step toward sustainability: swap plastic bottles of soap for bars.

1.Wash those hands!

Sometimes the simplest tricks are the most effective. Your first line of defense to keep bugs out and good health in? Proper hand-washing, especially when you’re out-and-about.

Pro tip: My daughter and I carry a small bar of LüSa Organics soap in our bags whenever we go out, so that we don’t have to use the fragrance-drenched detergent in public bathrooms. We’re sure to practice better hand-washing if we have soap with us that won’t scent our skin or give us a fragrance oil-induced headache.

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2. De-stress + rest

High stress often translates to a suppressed immune response. Support your body, mind, and spirit with plenty of sleep, and by managing your stress.

3. Upgrade your diet

Reduce sugar intake, and boost your consumption of healthy veggies and proteins. These steps benefit more than just our immune system, and can lead us to greater health for bones, teeth, gut, and brain. You’ve got nothing to lose making this (relatively simple) shift.

What is the best education for your child? The answer might surprise you. #education #homeschooling #school #parenting

4. Check your D levels

Vitamin D3 is critical for a spunky immune response. Check your levels and supplement with a natural source, like fermented cod liver oil.

5. Oh, Mg

Look into topical magnesium (I offer my own version here), which can help support healthy sleep cycles and a healthy immune response.

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6. Herbs for the win

Bring on the immune-supporting herbs! From a daily shot of homemade fire cider to spiking your chai with astragalus, or adding medicinal mushrooms (like rishi + shitake) alongside aromatic herbs in your bone broth, there are a plethora of simple herbal ways to support your immune system.

Which herbs are a great place to begin your research to see if they’re a match for your family? A handful of my favorites include:

  • Astragalus
  • Echinacea
  • Usnea
  • Chaga
  • Rishi
  • Shitake
  • Rosehip
  • White Pine
  • Elderberry

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Elderberry love

One of our very favorite immune-supporting herbal remedies is elderberry. It’s is one of the ten herbs I feature in-depth in my beginner’s herbal book, Herbal Adventures. With tips on using foraged/fresh berries or purchased/dried, there are recipes within these pages to savor throughout the year.

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Whether you choose homemade our boughten elderberry tinctures, elixirs, teas, syrups, or gummies, there is a plethora of excellent options to incorporating this immune-supporting powerhouse into your winter and spring routine.

Want to get started making your own kid-approved elderberry gummies? Then turn to chapter 4 in Herbal Adventures. Don’t have your own copy yet? There’s  another way to try my recipe! (Read on.)

Sage: edit needed

I was honored last week to have Kelly from Primally Inspired share her love of Herbal Adventures (and my elderberry gummies recipe) on her blog.

Click here for both her feedback on my book and my recipe! Then get to work boosting your (and your children’s) immune systems.

Be well, friends.

Love,
Rachel

What are your family’s favorite natural immune boosters? Add them in the comments below!

 

Wellness, naturally: five simple tricks to help you get well soon

This winter has been a strange one, with temperatures fluctuating wildly from cold to warm, dry to wet. These weather fluctuations–whether atypical, like this year, or the normal changes common during the beginning and end of winter–often trigger bouts of winter colds for children and adults alike.

Last week a bug landed in our home, leaving half of our crew down for a couple of days. And like any time we find ourselves with a cold or flu, we reached for our herbal kitchen arsenal to bring comfort and healing–fast.

I thought some of you might be interested in hearing some fresh ideas to get well on the double. With this in mind, five of my favorite wellness tips for cold and flu season are below. I hope they help you and your loved ones feel 100% again soon!

(A few afflinks follow. That said, I always encourage you to purchase what you can locally!)

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Five simple tips to help you get well soon

1. REST

Lots and lots of rest.

As a rule, we suck at this in western society. We go to school or work sick. We pound cold medicine to feel well enough to keep up with what we think we “should” be doing, despite being sick and needing rest.

No, not everyone has the luxury of missing a day of work because they are sick. But if you are in the group of folks that does, please stay home and rest.

For me, a comfy chair, quilt, and basket of knitting beside the fire helps (a lot). Press pause on any out-and-about activities. This will not only speed your own healing, but keep your friends, classmates, or coworkers from unnecessary exposure to your bug.

Getting adequate rest when you’re under the weather means falling asleep early and staying in bed as late as you can. It means taking it easy during the day, as much as you can manage.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

2. Homemade (or purchased) Chicken Broth or Stock

Sipping flavorful mugs of bone broth is an easy way to nourish your body during cold and flu season, without overtaxing your digestive system. It’s my magic potion for getting well in a hurry.

My basic recipe is can be found here. During cold and flu season I love adding a giant knob of smashed ginger, a full head of smashed or sliced garlic, and two big handfuls of astragalus root at the start of my cooking cycle.

Make a big batch of homemade broth now, then sip it throughout your resting period and until you feel 100% again.

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3. Herbal Tinctures and Teas

I think simple, homemade tinctures and teas are the best medicines of all. Our family makes many different kinds each season, and we rely on them throughout out the year to support our health.

Tinctures are available for purchase in most natural food stores, but they are ridiculously simple to make at home. If you’ve never made tinctures before, give my simple folk remedy for homemade elderberry tincture a try!

Suggested teas are below. For tinctures, look into the specific symptoms you are looking to comfort, as well as your own constitution. Generally speaking, immune-supporting herbs like elderberry and echinacea area a good choice, as well as herbs for specific symptoms like fevers, body aches, chills, or herbs for lung support.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

4. STAY HYDRATED

Warm drinks are key to a fast recovery. The aforementioned chicken broth and tea are key. Along with hot toddies, they are my top picks to deliver good medicine while helping us stay hydrated.

A hot toddy (in our world anyway!) is not a boozy concoction, but rather a strong lemon and ginger infusion, sweetened with honey, then spiked with optional herbs and tinctures. My easy hot toddy recipe – with variations from the most simple to more complex – can be found right over here.

For teas, think of immune-supporting herbs like echinacea, elderberry, and chaga; lung-support like mullein and wild cherry bark; or fever remedies like yarrow and elderflower.

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ANOTHER FAVORITE WARM DRINK AROUND HERE IS HOMEMADE PINE NEEDLE TEA.

Made from a simple decoction of white pine needles and thin branches, pine needle tea feels excellent on the throat, quiets coughs, and is loaded with vitamin C. I share a how-to for my favorite version on page 160 in my book.

If you don’t have a copy on hand, simply harvest fresh white pine needles, twigs, and bark. Cut into pieces and place in a large nonreactive pot. Fill pot with water and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and steep for 10 additional minutes. If desired, additional herbs can be added to the pot, depending on the cold or flu you’re working through. Consider mullein leaf, bee balm, yarrow, elderberry, elecampane, or wild cherry bark.

If you’re aren’t up for making your own tea blends, choose a purchased herbal tea that matches your symptoms. We love the Traditional Medicinals brand, especially Throat CoatBreathe Easy, and Gypsy Cold Care

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

5. TREAT YOUR SYMPTOMS

Body aches? Epsom salt baths are a wonder for sore muscles. Arnica massage oil also supports healthy, happy muscles and joints. Also try a hot water bottle tucked up against an aching back or sore neck.

Earache? You can’t beat garlic ear oil. There is a recipe for my favorite version with mullein flowers in Herbal Adventures. I also shared this simple garlic recipe years ago (along with a few other holistic earache remedies).

Support healthy respiration with LuSa EOs

How are your lungs? Support them with herbal steams and by keeping your humidifier filled and running.

Here at LüSa we also make two lines of essential oils and chest rubs to support healthy respiration. Our Breathe Easy EO blends and Children’s Chest Rub are eucalyptus-free designed specifically for kids under 10, while our Breathe Deep EO blends and Original Chest Rub are just the thing for ages 10 and up.

The undiluted oils can be added to a diffuser or humidifier, or mixed with a carrier oil along with your epsom salts in the bath. 

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Sore Throat? Those hot toddies (above) work wonders; so does gargling a simple cup of hot salt water. My go-to remedy for sore throat is homemade Monarda tonic or oxymel. Made with just wild bee balm, raw honey, and brandy or organic apple cider vinegar, it soothes sore throats in a hurry.

I share an entire chapter of Bee Balm/Monarda recipes in my book, Herbal Adventures (including a Bee Balm Oxymel recipe). If you already own a copy, head to page 118 and dive in.

Since many of you don’t have bee balm on hand, try a tea made from sage and thyme instead–herbs with similar medicinal properties to bee balm, but found right in your spice cabinet.

Pro tip: always steep herbal teas covered to keep the healing aromatics in the cup.

Fever? My favorite herbal remedy is a tea made of 2 parts peppermint leaf, 1 part yarrow, 1 part elder flower, and 1/2 part catnip. Again, there’s a proper recipe in Herbal Adventures! (Noticing a theme? These are most certainly my favorite, go-to home remedies.)

Try Belladona 12C homeopathic remedy. This along with our homemade fever tea and the other wellness steps above are our best defense.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Cough? I can’t sing the praises of this remedy enough. If you don’t have elecampane on hand I urge you to pick some up now and have this remedy ready for your next round of coughs. It works like magic. 

What would you add to the list of wellness tips above? What are your go-to solutions to cold and flu season?

Pssst, LüSa Fans…From now until January 15, jump in on a buy-3-get-1-free offer on all LüSa Organics cold and flu season wellness products. Find the details here

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5 simple tricks for healing from cold or flu, naturally.

Kids And Chores: Five Tips for Painless Participation

Kids and chores: five tips to get them to pitch in painlessly. (No punishment - no reward!)

First, a baseline: we are not a punishment-reward family.

I have never issued a time-out, withheld a reward on account of “bad behavior”, or grounded a teenager. On the flip side, I have never given my kids an allowance, or rewarded them with screen time, money, or other special prizes for pitching in around the house. I am not proposing that this is the best way to do things or because I think I deserve a peaceful parenting gold star, but to simply provide a starting point for what comes below below.

While I didn’t always expect my kids to participate in the running of our house, I do today.

Without punishment; without rewards.

The truth is, they didn’t always pitch in.

When they were small, my kids (like most kids) were eager to jump in and sweep, mop, cook, and hang laundry. But their enthusiasm gradually faded as they grew older. By the time they were 10 and 6 I began to notice the imbalance. Though they were big enough to help out, they were gradually moving away from their constant-helper-at-my-side role and slipping off to read and play instead of cook or clean.

The drudgery of doing the work alone was wearing on me, and we were frequently buried in unfolded laundry and dirty dishes as Pete or I hurriedly cooked dinner and wondered how we’d get it all done. I realized it was ridiculous that the adults were doing everything with two capable kids at home, and decided that I needed more participation from them. But I was unsure how it would unfold.

Was punishment and reward necessary for participation? I was hoping not, but I didn’t know what to expect.

I believe that punishment-and-reward strategies are destined to backfire. When they play into our decisions, cost-benefit analyses are made, and decisions become based on either securing a reward or avoiding a punishment, rather than making good choices or doing the right thing. And I didn’t want that to muddy the waters of my family and home.

And so cautiously, I began a “participation without coercion” experiment to see if my kids would jump in and help. They did! I was elated.

Mowing lawns, cooking meals, cleaning the house: they were eager to help and readily jumped in day after day, voluntarily doing their part with the day-to-day work of running a house.

Kids and chores: five tips to get them to pitch in painlessly. (No punishment - no reward!)

Until they weren’t.

Until it got old and they were more keen on books or play than mopping the floor.

If I’m being honest I would admit to feeling frustrated. (Very!) It seemed the whole experiment was a failure. Like the only way to ensure participation was with a power-over strategy, which appealed to me exactly not at all. Ack. This was not the outcome I was banking on. So I paused, regrouped, restrategized.

It took us a while to find a new groove, but finally we did.

And while it looked slightly more coercive/less peaceful than I originally envisioned, the long game has been a benefit for my kids far beyond my expectations.

The upshot? There is still no punishment; no reward. It is also not an opt-in/opt-out arrangement. Instead, the expectation that this is what we do. It takes a family to run a family. And everyone needs to do their part.

And just as buckling your seatbelt in the car is not optional, the same goes for pitching in. Boom. Done.

No need for rainbow sprinkles or sparkly confetti. It’s just everyone quietly doing their part.

No drama, no fuss.

Do they always love it? Of course not. Is there occasional drama? Sure. We’re human. But are they almost always willing to pitch in and pull their weight? Absolutely. I feel the same about my work in this family. We might not be excited for the opportunity to scrub the toilet, but we’re grateful for a clean toilet once it’s done.

Kids and chores: five tips to get them to pitch in painlessly. (No punishment - no reward!)

Last night, Sage (now 15) was in charge of dinner. He groaned as he set to work chopping onions mincing garlic, and steaming cauliflower. But then, ever so subtly, there was a palpable shift. He was bright, focused, cheerful. “Are you having fun?” I asked. “Yeah,” he replied (in a “well, duh, of course I am ” sort of tone), placing a pan of homemade meatballs in the oven. And he meant it. He was having fun.

He just needed a little nudge. Like we all do now and again.

The rest of the night he was upbeat. Because: he made our dinner. And I believe that participating in the work of the family, knowing how capable you are, and (bonus!) getting some props for a delicious dinner feels good to almost everyone.

Kids and chores: five tips to get them to pitch in painlessly. (No punishment - no reward!)

It’s been five years since my first tentative steps into punishment-and-reward-free participation in chores, and here is what I have learned along the way.

Participating in housework makes kids better citizens of our home.

“Can everyone please line their boots up where they belong in the mudroom? I just mopped in there and it’s already a mess.”

Hearing words like this uttered from my children’s mouths never ceases to delight me. Participating in housekeeping raises their awareness of how easily things can spin out of control. If you wash the dishes each day, you are less likely to leave leftovers on your plate when you clear them for someone else to wash. Without participating, children (like anyone) will live in a more self-centered world view that doesn’t benefit them or those they love.

It takes a family to run a family

This sentence is what I’ve been telling my kids for the past five years. The grown-ups can’t do this alone. And more importantly, we shouldn’t have to. When everyone pitches in it creates a more balanced family dynamic and models respect for every member of the team.

A job for everyone

Even the youngest child can help fold washcloths, put away silverware, or place napkins around the table. And when children help out they know that their contributions matter. They grow up knowing that the their work in the family has value. What a powerful lesson at any age! As my kids have gotten older their jobs have grown up with them. Instead of only setting the table they have moved into washing dishes after every meal and cooking for our family at least once a week (usually more). Sage once only mowed the lawn or shoveled snow, but today he also carries in the day’s worth or firewood each morning. Etcetera.

Self-reliance feels good 

I will be the first to admit that I haven’t always nurtured self-reliance. I’m a softie, and when you ask for help I’m fairly sure to give it. But allowing my kids to be more self-reliant has been one of the best choices I have made, resulting in more capable, confident, independent kids. And when we stop to reflect that we’re really raising future adults (versus present-day kids), that feels like the best choice I can make.

Kids and chores: five tips to get them to pitch in painlessly. (No punishment - no reward!)

Ready to get your kids to pitch in, but want to avoid punishment and reward? Here are five tips to get you there.

1. Start slow

Don’t expect your kids to jump in and sweep floors, wash the laundry, and cook dinner every night just because you mentioned a desire for more participation. Begin with a single small daily task, then gradually add more over time. Expecting too much at once guarantees mutiny.

And reevaluate. As my kids have gotten older we’ve gradually gone from one small task per day to a full daily tasks list. We’ve added, but we’ve also subtracted. When a child is struggling with a task (because it’s “gross”, difficult, or boring, for example), switch things up. None of this is set in stone, and your flexibility will go miles toward making this easy for everyone.

2. Choose together

Rather than tell your kids what task you expect them to do each day, tell them you need everyone to pitch in, then let them decide how. Come up with a list (together) of all the work that needs doing. Then let them choose what they want to do most. While in the short-term this could result in a bit less benefit for you, in the long-run it’s a win. Because your child will learn to participate with less resistance and more joy. This makes it easier on everyone going forward, and eases the flow of adding more responsibilities down the road.

3. Lower your standards

Let’s be honest. Towels folded by a 4 year old will not look like towels folded by a 34 year old. The same applies to table settings, bed makings, and floor sweepings. Resist the urge to “fix” your child’s work, and allow them to take pride in doing a job to the best of their abilities. If the messy towels freak you out every time you open the linen closet, consider it an opportunity to practice the art of allowing and your favorite deep breathing strategy. After they have done the task for a few of weeks, help them up their game by gently teaching them a few techniques.

4. Raise the fun factor

Work ≠ drudgery. Do what it takes to make it fun for your everyone to participate. Crank some tunes, tell each other jokes, play air guitar with your mop. Planning something fun for after a big task is finished is another motivator. Reading a book after washing the dishes; going for a walk while the freshly mopped floors dry, that sort of thing. If this looks mildly like a reward, so be it. If we have a big housecleaning day, we often follow it with a homemade pizza night or a fun family outing. I don’t set this up in a cause-and-effect context, but use it instead as encouragement. “Let’s get this work done so that we can head out for a ski!”

5. Remember the long game

Sometimes having kids help means a bit more work in the short term. Teaching them how to do a particular task, reminding them to complete their work, and breathing through your desire to have it done your way are all challenging in the moment. But the long game is that you are raising future adults who will notice when someone around them is carrying more than their share of the burden. And you’re raising adults who land in their first apartment or house knowing how to cook, clean, take out the trash, and otherwise run a home. Keep this vision in mind when things get sticky along the way.

Kids and chores: five tips to get them to pitch in painlessly. (No punishment - no reward!)

Today I have kids who daily or weekly: wash the dishes, cook meals, do laundry, split and haul firewood, care for farm animals, and clean the house. At 11 and 15 they are nearly as strong (or stronger!) than me, and can carry their weight as well as I can.

They aren’t “helping”. They are participating. Because this is their home, too. And we all share the responsibility of keeping it humming along smoothly.

It’s like I always said: it takes a family to run a family.

No punishment, no reward. Just the expectation that everyone will participate. Because, like buckling our seatbelts or chewing with our mouths closed, it’s simply what we do.

Cue the confetti! (I’m kidding.)

Kids and Chores: five steps for painless participation. (Without bribery, punishment, or coercion!)