Thursday, October 24, 2013

Warming Stew for Cool Fall Days

Fall has officially settled in. The leaves are changing and the air is cooling down. This leads us to choose warming foods and herbs, and grounding, yummy root vegetables.

With this in mind, I would like to share with you one of my favorite fall-time recipes for a soup that's perfect for one of those days when it's cold outside and you are looking for something, warm, hearty, and delicious. The prep time for this recipe is about 30 minutes, and the cook time is 20-40 minutes. It is also completely vegan and full of ingredients that are great for the body. 

Green Lentil Stew with Kabocha Squash 

1 Medium Onion
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Cup Dried Green Lentils
5 Cups Water
2 Cups Spinach
1 Cup Chopped Celery
3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt (Himalayan or Celtic)
2-3 Cloves Garlic, chopped (this was not in the original recipe, but I'm a fool for garlic, and it made a great spice!)
2 Cups Chopped Winter Squash (Kabocha)

In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until the onions are soft/transparent. (Be careful not to heat these too quickly, as you do not want to burn the olive oil. Burning oil is no good for your health, and if it does burn, do not breathe the smoke, as that is toxic to the body.) Add the water, lentils, and apple cider vinegar to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add the spinach, celery, & squash. Let this simmer for 20-40 minutes, tasting it for readiness. Enjoy!

Such a delicious and warming meal on a cool, fall day!
 Note: It is important to look for organic ingredients (as much as possible) to avoid ingesting any unhealthy anti-nutrients, which may effect the body's ability to use the nutrients in the food. For more information about choosing organic foods, visit my website

Click here for more recipes!

It is nice to diffuse the oils of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, clove, and pine on these cooler days as well. These oils are perfect for fall and make your house smell amazing. You can pick up these oils from SpringWell Health Center in Eugene, Oregon or call us to learn more about how to order your own therapeutic-grade essential oils at 24% off retail price.


About the Author:  

Rachel Hoffman founded, a site and business committed to sharing information about non-toxic living, essential oils, nutrition, and total wellness. Visit to learn more about what chemicals & ingredients to avoid in your beauty and personal care products as well as find whole-food recipes, books and other natural-care products.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Hand Sanitizers, Superbugs, and Hormone Disruption - Try a more Natural Solution this Cold & Flu Season

With fall suddenly upon us, the school season has started and the cold and flu season is just on the horizon. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about ways we can protect ourselves from bacteria and viruses as they circulate through the populous this season. One of the main things the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends doing to prevent cold and flu is to wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water. If this is not available, they recommend using an alcohol-based hand rub.

These recommendations, along with the general fear of coming down with sickness (and missing school/work), has led the soap and hand sanitizer industry to add strong antibacterial chemicals, once reserved for hospitals, into their products. This all seems well and good on the surface, but some research suggests that this over-use of chemical hand sanitizers is contributing to conditions that allow for the evolution of antibiotic-resistance among bacteria. This means, super bugs that are stronger and more efficient at getting us sick and keeping us sick.

This is the opposite of what we want.

If that wasn't enough, the harsh ingredients found in common hand sanitizers and sold in stores, are potentially adverse to health. Scientists and health advocates for years have been looking at one specific ingredient used in antibacterial hand soap, and many other products, called Triclosan

A team of researchers from UC Davis ran a series of tests on triclosan finding that exposure to the chemical impaired isolated muscle cells' ability to contract in mice, as well as decreased heart function and grip strength. The mice in the study were exposed to the chemical in doses similar to what a person or animal might encounter in everyday life. Triclosan was also shown in this study to slow swimming activity in fathead minnows. These findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with hopes by the research team that their findings would encourage regulators, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, to reconsider the rules allowing the use of triclosan in many everyday household items. Triclosan can be found in antibacterial soap, mouthwash, deodorant, laundry detergent, fabric softeners, facial tissues, antiseptics, fabrics, toys, medical devices, and germ-resistant cutting boards.

More evidence suggests that triclosan may also be an endocrine disruptor, negatively impacting the thyroid hormone, in humans as well as causing contamination to environment. The Canadian government even declared triclosan toxic to the environment, which triggers a process to find ways to curtail a chemical’s use, including a possible ban in a range of personal-care products.

In 2009 a petition was filed by Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch arguing that triclosan should not be approved for use in consumer products, due to the mounting evidence of it's adverse effects on human and environmental health. According to Beyond Pesticides' website: "Studies have increasingly linked triclosan (and its chemical cousin triclocarban), to a range of adverse health and environmental effects from skin irritation, endocrine disruption, bacterial and compounded antibiotic resistance, to the contamination of water and its negative impact on fragile aquatic ecosystems."

Furthermore, other documentation concludes that antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps. According to the FDA's own website: "Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. But several scientific studies have come out since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient that merit further review. Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. In light of these studies, FDA is engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of this ingredient. FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time."

What this says to this author is that the FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence, period.

If further study needs to be done, then by all means let them do it. In the mean time, as a safe consumer and for those of us looking to clear our bodies of toxic hormone-disrupting chemicals and get back to a natural, healthy balance, we are steering clear of any product containing triclosan or other harsh chemicals.

So, what can you do to keep your kids and family safe and healthy this cold and flu season? First things first, avoid getting those endocrine disrupting hormones in your body by choosing fresh, organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible, and drink plenty of fresh, purified water. Avoid eating things out of cans, which are commonly lined with another endocrine disprupting chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA). Wash your hand frequently with hot water and triclosan-free soap and if you need to cough or sneeze, do it in your elbow (the vampire look). This will help to not spread your germs to others.

Some more good news is that there are alternatives to these harsh chemicals, which come from nature and will not cause harm to the body. These are therapeutic-grade essential oils. Essential oils are the "essence" of various plants that are distilled down into their purest form. Many essential oils are antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. One such blend of essential oils containing oils of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary - called Thieves blend after the thieves of the black plague who used it to protect themselves from the disease while robbing the bodies of the dead - is an amazing replacement for harsh chemicals in the household.

The thieves blend can be used in many ways throughout the home, as well as in collaboration with a healthy diet to keep colds and flu away. Rubbing thieves on the bottoms of the feet is highly effective as an immune-system stimulator. If you are fond of using hand sanitizers, there is a non-toxic Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier which contains the essential oil blend Thieves, and is much safer than the triclosan-containing products, as explained above.

Why do antimicrobial essential oils produce no resistant strains of bacteria?  
Essential oils are extremely complex compounds, and while they are extremely effective against pathogenic microbes, they are also not only harmless to humans, but beneficial to our tissues.* According to an article called The Transience of Drugs and Permanence of Oils written by David Stewart, PhD, DNM, IASP, BCRS and published in The Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education newsletter:

"Antibiotics and antibacterial agents are simple compounds or simple mixtures of a few compounds. Every batch of a particular antibiotic or antibacterial agent is identical to the previous batch. Doctors would want it this way. They would want today’s tetracycline or penicillin to be exactly the same as yesterday’s and tomorrow’s. This consistency of product, along with their simplicity, is why bacteria can figure them out and develop resistance such that their offspring are not only immune to the drug, but are even more virulent and toxic to humans.

You can grow lavender or peppermint every year in the same plot of land and every year’s production of oil will be slightly different. The same 200 or 300 compounds will be there that make lavender like lavender and peppermint like peppermint, but the proportions will vary. This year's lavender oil may have more or less linyl acetate than last year's or this year's peppermint oil may have more or less menthol, but they will still be lavender and peppermint.

The variations are because the oils of a plant are dynamic during the life of the plant, changing daily, even from hour to hour, to adjust to the heat of the day, the moisture in the air, and other factors uncontrollable to humans. The oils in plants also vary their composition according to soil types, climate, elevation, latitude, planting time, harvesting time, amount of sunshine, amount of rain, amount of wind, and other factors such as the species of insects that may be pests this year. The conditions that affect plant growth (and its oils) are never repeated two years in a row.

Because the oils of a species vary according environmental factors that are never the same, no two batches of an essential oil are ever exactly the same, even from the same species grown in the same field. Oils are like wines. Vintners put dates on each year’s bottles of a wine because every year will produce a slightly different taste and coloration of the wine because nature never repeats itself.

Essential oils are not simple. They consists of hundreds of compounds, the numbers and formulas for which are not completely known even for one species of oil. Furthermore, there are never two batches of essential oils the same.

Therefore, because essential oils are far more complex than any laboratory produced drug and because essential oils are never exactly replicated year to year, bacteria can never figure them out and become resistant. Microbes are smarter than synthetic drugs, but essential oils are smarter than microbes."

Be mindful that all essential oils are NOT created equal. Many essential oils you will find on store shelves are low quality, with components destroyed in their distillation processes, and/or cut with other, less expensive, low-quality ingredients. Many times you can actually smell the difference. This is especially true if the essential oils are VERY inexpensive in one line, but more expensive to purchase through a company like Young Living, who uses only the highest quality steam distillation, and organic farming. Make sure you are using 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils for use on your body, internally, and in your home. This will ensure that you get the most bang for your buck as well as the therapeutic qualities you are looking for in an essential oil. 

We carry many of these product here at SpringWell Health Center,  available for purchase. Also ask us how you can get 24% off retail prices for these and other all-natural, 100% pure terapeutic-grade essential oils.

Some other Thieves products we have available for order include the Thieves Household Cleaner, an excellent alternative to harsh chemical cleaners and bleach. Another alternative option is the Thieves Foaming Hand Soap. Use the antibacterial power of Thieves essential oil, which does not contribute to the development of super-bacteria, and is a natural product made from the essences of plants. 

Using these natural products in your home and on and around your family is a much safer option than the alternative products made with synthetic chemicals and dyes.

Use these products in your daily life:

  • Thieves oil on bottoms of feet (dilute with carrier oil for children or sensitive skin) for immune system stimulation
  • Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier in purse for daily use - also good on airplanes (only 1oz.) or other high traffic, public places
  • Thieves Spray for door handles, toilet seats, or any other surface that needs disinfecting from dust, mold, or bacteria. 
  • Put a drop of Thieves oil in water and swish in mouth in place of mouthwash

For more information about how you can develop your non-toxic lifestyle and to learn more about using essential oils in your home and on your body, stop by our office in Eugene, Oregon and talk with our staff or subscribe to our news feed on Facebook and Twitter: 

Sources for this article include:

About the Author:  
Rachel Hoffman founded, a site and business committed to sharing information about non-toxic living, essential oils, nutrition, and total wellness. Visit to learn more about what chemicals & ingredients to avoid in your beauty and personal care products as well as find whole-food recipes, books and other natural-care products.