Friday, July 25, 2014

8 Odd Ways to Cure a Headache

Boy, oh boy, did I have a whopper of a headache the other day. It was one of those stop-you-in-your-tracks throbbers that (thankfully) only come around every now and then. I took some ibuprofen and laid down with a cool washcloth over my eyes, and as I felt the grip of pain loosen its hold on me, I thought about how there are as many crazy home remedies for headache pain as there are for curing hiccups!

Here’s an assortment of the oddest—and most effective:

1. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes in a steamy hot (but not burning!) bath while holding an ice pack on your head. The combination of heat and cold will ease your pain by drawing blood away from your head and narrowing the blood vessels in your scalp.

2. Tape a fresh mint leaf on the part of your head that hurts the most, and keep it on until you feel relief.

3. Stick your tongue out about ½ inch, and bite down on it as hard as possible without hurting yourself. Hold the position for 10 minutes—no less and no more.

4. Soak a large white cloth in vinegar, wring it out, and tie it tightly around your head. Keep it in place until the pain is gone.

5. Slice a fresh lime in half, and rub a cut side on the site of the ache. The pain should vanish pronto.

6. Stand up straight with your arms hanging loosely at your sides, then swing your arms back and forth in unison. The motion will direct blood flow away from your head to your hands, thus easing the pain.

7. Quickly drink two glasses of Gatorade®, one after the other. You’ll put your electrolytes back in balance and stop the throbbing in its tracks.

8. Stuff two tennis balls into a sock. Then lie on your back and wedge the sock behind your neck with one ball on each side. They’ll relax your back muscles, thereby chasing the pain-causing tension.

Friday, July 18, 2014

An Un-bee-lievable Arthritis Remedy

As outrageous as this may sound, many physicians are using bee venom to treat arthritis patients who do not respond well to conventional medications. The practice is called apitherapy. The results have been impressive, in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, and there are no serious side effects. The secret to success lies in two ingredients: mellitin, an anti-inflammatory agent that is said to be about 100 times stronger than cortisone, and adolapin, which also fights inflammation and pain.

But arthritis isn’t the only condition that apitherapy can relieve. It’s also being used across the country to treat lower back and shoulder pain, asthma, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, hearing loss, and even premenstrual syndrome!

Bee venom therapy is nothing new. The ancient Egyptians wrote about it in their medical texts, and Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, routinely used it to treat joint pain and swelling in the fifth century B.C. But before you rush out for a dose of bee juice, keep these particulars in mind:

1. Relief is not a slam-dunk. Although the docs who use apitherapy report excellent results, some patients—and some conditions—respond better than others.

2. The injections or bee stings (which some doctors use) can be painful, and you may need more than a dozen of them before your condition improves.

3. This goes without saying (I hope!), but if you’re allergic to bee stings, this therapy could kill you!

You say bee therapy's not your buzz? Try this quirky coffee cure instead: First thing each morning, drink a cup of hot back coffee with the freshly squeezed juice of a large lime mixed into it. It may get rid of your aches for good! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Avocado Attraction

Want to get the full softening power of upscale skin-care products without the hefty price tags? Then just mix a few drops of avocado oil into your favorite commercial brand(s). Bingo: More beautifying action for a lot less money!

The same vitamins, minerals, and protein that make avocados an A-1 choice for facial treatments work just as well to soften and nourish the skin on the rest of your body. That’s why avocado-“flavored” body butters are selling like hotcakes. But why spend your hard-earned bucks, when it’s a snap to make your own supply?

Avocado Body Butter
9 oz. of cocoa butter
9 oz. of avocado oil
50 drops of your favorite essential oil*
3 tsp. of cornstarch
Ice water
Sterilized wide-mouth jars**

In the top of a double boiler, melt the cocoa butter over medium heat until it’s just warm. Add the avocado oil, essential oil, and cornstarch, and mix thoroughly. Remove from the heat, and set the bowl into a larger one filled with ice water. Using an electric mixer, whip the mixture until it reaches the consistency of whipped cream and forms stiff peaks. Spoon the butter into the jars. It’ll keep for about two months at room temperature. After a shower, scoop out a handful, smooth it all over your body, and say “Ahhh…”

*Lemon, orange, lavender, and mint are excellent skin-friendly choices.

**To sterilize jars (and lids), put them in a pot with enough water to cover them by at least 1 inch, and boil for about 10 minutes. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

It’s Time to Celebrate the Red, White, and Blue

These easy 4th of July recipes will tickle your taste buds and declare independence from boring burgers and unhealthy hotdogs. Let’s hear it for the red, white, and blue!

Red Chile Penne
Choosing the right foods—like the black beans in this recipe—will boost your energy levels all day long, so you’ll still be sizzling by the time the fireworks start.

4 ounces penne pasta
2 tablespoons Garlic Aioli*
¼ teaspoon of ground red pepper
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup rinsed and drained black beans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Dash of dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pan, then add the aioli and red pepper and stir until the pasta is well coated. Toss in the beans, cilantro, oregano, salt, and pepper. (Yield: 2 servings.)

*To make the Garlic Aioli, combine 6 cloves of garlic, minced, and 2 egg yolks in a blender. Blend on high, then add 1½ teaspoons of boiling water, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ground pepper mélange to taste. Slowly add 5 tablespoons each of peanut oil and olive oil, blending until incorporated. Add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and blend.

White Bean and Garlic Pizza
Garlic, herbs, and spices help keep fat down so carbs can fuel your day.


1 individual pizza crust
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ cup rinsed and drained cannellini beans
4 thin slices of tomato
Dash of oregano
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 ounce shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly mist the crust with olive oil spray and spread the garlic evenly over crust. Place the beans on top, then mash lightly and spread to cover the crust. Lay the tomato slices over the beans. Sprinkle with the oregano and pepper and mist with olive oil spray, then top with the cheese. Bake on an oven rack for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. (Yield: 1 serving.)

Blue Caesar Salad
Caesar’s traditional anchovy paste is the secret ingredient for a healthy heart.


1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
⅛ teaspoon salt
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

In a small bowl, combine the anchovy paste, oil, garlic, vinegar, and salt. Blend with a wire whisk until smooth. In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce and dressing and toss until well coated. Divide between two salad plates and top each with ½ tablespoon of the walnuts and 1 tablespoon of the cheese. (Yield: 2 servings.)

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Stress Less This Summer and Enjoy the Sunshine!

Summer should be a time for lazing on the beach with a glass of ice tea or sitting in the shade enjoying the latest thriller. So why are you so stressed? It could just be the heat that’s making you cranky. Or maybe it’s because — between work, keeping house, and chauffeuring the kids around — you have no time for yourself. Heck, even packing for what’s supposed to be a relaxing vacation can be stressful.

Summer will only be here for a few short months. So try one of these stress-busters that’ll have you on an even keel again:

Calm your nerves with a carrot cocktail. After a long, hectic day, mix equal parts of carrot and celery juice, and add honey to taste (plus a shot of Grand Marnier® if you’d like). Then sit back, relax, and drink up!

Relax and smell the cucumbers. Rather, I should say smell the cucumbers and relax. Studies have shown that the scent of cukes helps you calm down during tense situations. So the next time you’re stressing, wash your tresses with cucumber-scented shampoo. Puree a peeled, diced cucumber and a peeled, sliced lemon in a blender or food processor. Strain out the seeds, and wash your hair with the mix.

Snack on a stress-busting cookie. The intense cinnamon scent of these tasty treats delivers major aromatherapy that will lower your anxiety:


2 sticks of butter, softened
2 ¼ tsp. of ground cinnamon
½ tsp. of baking soda
½ tsp. of salt
1 cup of blackstrap molasses
¼ cup of dark honey
¼ cup of brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup of plain yogurt
4 cups of all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Gradually add the molasses, honey, and sugar. Then beat in the eggs, and stir in the yogurt and flour. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets, and bake at 400°F for 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned at the edges. (Yield: about 4 dozen cookies.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

In Honor of Father’s Day—a Word about Prostate Health

There’s so much information about prostate health and the dangers that an enlarging prostate can pose to men that it’s hard to know what to do. And now most medical professionals are telling men that the PSA test (that was once recommended annually to check for elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen — a possible indicator of prostate cancer) is unnecessary.

Medical statistics estimate that one out of every three men over the age of 60 has some kind of prostate problem. And according to natural-health practitioners, one of the most effective ways to help relieve an enlarged prostate is to eat ½ cup of shelled, unsalted pumpkin seeds every day. One reason may be that the prostate gland contains 10 times more zinc than most other organs in your body, and pumpkin seeds are packed with that mineral.

Pumpkin seed remedies for such a problem have been around for centuries. An old Russian folk remedy calls on pumpkin seed “tea” to relieve inflammation of the bladder and prostate. To make it, simmer ½ cup of whole (not shelled) pumpkin seeds in 1 quart of water for 20 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature, and pour it into a wide-mouthed jar with a tight-fitting lid. Do not strain out the seeds; just let them settle to the bottom of the jar. Stir thoroughly before using the potion. Drink 6 to 8 ounces three times a day, or as needed to relieve pain.

Note: This is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you suspect that you have either bladder or prostate problems, see your doctor immediately.

Happy Father’s Day!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Extinguish the Itch and Sooth the Sting!

Already? We’re only one week in to the unofficial start of summer, and biting buggers have started driving us bonkers. So here are 6 timely tips that’ll help you ditch the itch until fall’s first frost:

Stop scratching! When mosquito bites have you itching like crazy, reach for a bottle of antiseptic mouthwash. Moisten a tissue with it, hold it on the bite for about 15 seconds, and kiss that irritating itch goodbye.

Give an itch the brush-off. Put a dab of white (non-gel) toothpaste on the bite or sting site. It’ll start working instantly to stop the itch and reduce any swelling.

Remove the weapon. Unlike ticks and mosquitoes, stinging insects, such as hornets, bees, wasps, and yellow jackets, don’t transmit disease, but they do inject venom, which the stinger continues to release even after the attacker has gone. So don’t squeeze your flesh to get the stinger out; that will only force the venom farther in. Instead, keep your skin flat as you scrape the stinger out with your fingernail or the edge of a credit card.

Tenderize the bite. Meat tenderizer is a classic fixer for treating stings. Just mix it with a few drops of water and spread it on the stricken site. The tenderizer will break down the protein in the poison, thereby nixing its pain-producing properties. Meat tenderizer takes the pain right out of a jellyfish sting, too. So take along a shaker of the stuff when you head to the beach.

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Dissolve two effervescent antacid tablets in a glass of water. Then moisten a soft cloth with the solution, and hold it on the bite for 20 minutes.

Zing the sting. It has always seemed a bit ironic to me that an insect that delivers such searing pain can also produce one of the best antidotes to its sting. But it’s true! Just smooth a dab of honey on the spot (after removing the stinger, of course), and the pain and itch will vanish.