Note from the editor: Each month, Annie Willow will answer your questions about holistic health. Always consult your health care professional before using natural remedies to avoid any potential issues with your existing medication.
Q: I love to fill the house with holiday scents, but my family is sensitive to chemical room sprays and packaged potpourri. Do you have any suggestions for natural alternatives?
A: Many commercial air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as phthalates, benzene and formaldehyde, which can cause a variety of health problems such as headaches, nausea, respiratory, neurological and skin conditions. The VOCs are especially toxic to newborns, young children and pets, so you are wise to seek healthier options to filling your space with holiday scents.
• Homemade potpourri: Gather pinecones, dried orange peels, cinnamon sticks, dried flowers and place in a large Ziploc bag. For a coastal flair, toss in a few sea shells. Add 10 drops of your favorite essential oil blend, seal bag and gently shake. In a few days you will have an amazing holiday potpourri that also makes a wonderful gift.
• Natural room spray: Fill a clean, 8-ounce spray bottle with distilled water and add 10 to 20 drops of essential oil blend. For a longer lasting scent, use a mix of 50/50 blend of vodka and water. Shake before each use.
• Mix essential oil blends with 1 ounce grapeseed oil in a brown or blue glass bottle available wherever oils are sold.
Holiday Spice: 20 drops cinnamon, 10 drops orange, 10 drops clove
Candy Cane: 20 drops peppermint, 10 drops spearmint
Sugar Cookie: 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 10 drops ginger
Pine Tree: 20 drops pine, 10 drops juniper
Holiday Romance: 15 drops frankincense, 10 drops grapefruit, 5 drops sandalwood
Label your bottles well and keep out of reach of children and pets. Be careful not to allow the fragrance to land on furniture, food or open beverages.
Q: I love all the rich foods served at holiday parties, and sometimes over indulging leads to an upset stomach. What are some home remedies that can help ease the discomfort?
A: We all have a tendency to overeat during the holidays, and there are simple ways to combat heartburn, indigestion and bloating with things you probably have in your kitchen.
• Baking soda: Mix ½ teaspoon in 6 ounces of water and drink. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to neutralize acids.
• Ginger mint tea: Mix 1 teaspoon dried mint and ½ teaspoon ground ginger in 1 cup boiling water. Let steep 5 minutes, strain and sip.
• Parsley: Eat a few springs of parsley to help indigestion while refreshing your breath.
• Walk: A 15-minute walk will get the digestive track working while helping to reduce blood sugar levels.