The Survival Mom » Staying Healthy http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:58:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 5 Post-Emergency Herbs: The Calming Cuppa http://thesurvivalmom.com/calming-herbal-teas/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/calming-herbal-teas/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:00:49 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19842 Five Herbs for Emotional Support Post Emergency The experience of dealing with an emergency situation can leave you feeling shaken, drained, and upset. Stopping long enough to go through the familiar motions of making a cup of tea can give Read More

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In an emergency, adrenaline fuels us but doesn't just disappear when it ends. In an emergency these 5 herbs can help calm the jitters. | www.TheSurvivalMom.comFive Herbs for Emotional Support Post Emergency

The experience of dealing with an emergency situation can leave you feeling shaken, drained, and upset. Stopping long enough to go through the familiar motions of making a cup of tea can give you a focal point to counter feelings of being scatterbrained and disorganized, but not just any tea will do.

Earl grey, green tea, and other teas made with camellia sinensis (the tea most people are familiar with) could add to your jitters because they contain caffeine.  Turning to herbs that are traditionally considered to be calming and beneficial for the nervous system is a much better idea.

For best results, make sure to purchase your post-emergency herbs in organic, loose-leaf form from a reputable herb merchant. Steer clear of herbal teas that come in ready to use tea bags unless they come from a small company which specializes in strictly herbal teas. Studies have shown that mass marketed brands may contain filler plants, or be adulterated with heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides.

Rose

Although most people think of perfume and potpourri when they think of roses, the petals from red roses are also an important botanical for herbalists. Traditionally, rose petal tea is considered to be very soothing for the nervous system. Modern herbalists often turn to it for helping balance the emotions - especially its ability to provide an uplifting and calming influence. Rose petals pair well with a sprinkle of cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg and sweetened with honey for a pleasant, exotic flavor.

Linden

Linden blossoms, which come from the tree Tilia cordata, make a popular, traditional tea in Europe and in Latin American folk medicine that is reputed to be ideal during times of nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia. Linden has a sweet, pleasant flavor that make it a favorite for many people.

Chamomile

Beloved plant of adults and children everywhere, chamomile is another traditional herb to turn to when one feels fussy and out of sorts. Chamomile can be especially helpful if there is an upset stomach from anxiety or nervousness.There are two kinds of chamomile- matricaria recutita (german chamomile) and chamaemelum nobile (roman chamomile). German chamomile is more common in the herb trade in the United States, but both types are traditionally used in much the same way.

Hops

Most widely known as one of the key flavorings in beer, hops (humulus lupulus) has a long record of use as a traditional calming herb and sleep aid. Hops tea has a bitter flavor, but adding a little honey, which sweetens and deepens the flavor, can make it much more pleasant. The German Commission E, an advisory board that focuses on the medicinal use of traditional herbal remedies in Germany, approved the use of hops for restlessness and anxiety.

Valerian

During WWI and WWII, valeriana officinalis was used in Britain for “shell shock” (what is now more appropriately recognized as a stress response to combat situations), and also given to civilians stressed by constant air-raids. Traditional herbalists viewed this herb as having a potent sedative effect on the central nervous system, and often employed it for cases of epilepsy, severe anxiety, and nerve related pain.

It is interesting to note that not everyone responds to valerian in the same way. Valerian may make some people feel more awake and alert rather than sleepy. If you have pets, be aware that some cats enjoy valerian as much as they do catnip, so they may take an interest in your tea!

* Please remember that although herbs are natural and generally wholesome, these herbs may react with prescriptions for anxiety, high blood pressure, or depression. Be sure to check with your doctor before using herbs if you are on prescription medications. If you are hypotensive, these herbs may not be a good fit for you. Be sure to check with your doctor.

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Sex after the apocalypse? When there is no birth control … http://thesurvivalmom.com/sex-apocalypse-no-birth-control/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/sex-apocalypse-no-birth-control/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 08:00:07 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19612 So, you think you have everything that you need in your preps? Think about this … After the apocalypse (or whatever scenario happens) and things settle, you might start getting comfortable with your food, water, and security. Then, you might Read More

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nfp

So, you think you have everything that you need in your preps? Think about this …

After the apocalypse (or whatever scenario happens) and things settle, you might start getting comfortable with your food, water, and security. Then, you might start thinking about cuddling up together in the evenings … but wait – your birth control method is gone and it’s not like you can run to the drugstore.

Yes, there is one sure-fire way to avoid a pregnancy, but years of abstinence when you have no birth control could be very boring.

And there are potential scenarios where getting pregnant would not be ideal – radioactivity, a police state, low food supply – but even a bad economy can make couples not want to have a baby to support right then.

No Birth Control? Try Natural Family Planning

That’s where a book (Taking Charge of Your Fertility), a chart, and a basal thermometer might come in handy. Even if you choose not to learn about the science of fertility right now, having these three items among your preps gives you the chance to learn about it later.

This article is not going to go into the nitty-gritty details of how to use natural family planning (NFP), but will try to convince you to start learning about it. There are many methods out there and it’s worth finding out which one is right for you. (These include symptom-thermal, ovulation, Billings, Creighton, and Marquette.)

Here are several reasons you should start learning about natural family planning:

  1. Enjoy married life after …

This very personal reason needs no further explanation.

  1. Nothing to buy

If you were not able to refill your birth control prescription or buy any other birth control methods, you could use a NFP method instead.

  1. Learn the science of fertility

If knowledge is power, knowing the science of fertility would give you a lot of power in your own life.

  1. Practice makes perfect

It takes some time to get any NFP method down pat and the sooner you learn about it, the sooner you can feel comfortable with it.

  1. Marketable skill

Once you learn how to use one or more NFP methods, you can teach others.

Resources

Here are some links to some resources (some are religious in nature, but they have good information):

Taking Charge of Your Fertility

Creighton Model

Marquette Model

Couple to Couple League

Natural Family Planning International

What do you think? Are you convinced that it is worth learning about natural family planning now, while you still have other (back-up) options available?

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Dem Bones: First Aid and Herbal Response for Fractures http://thesurvivalmom.com/dem-bones-first-aid-herbal-response-fractures/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/dem-bones-first-aid-herbal-response-fractures/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:16:43 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19435 Bone fractures are definitely emergencies that require standard first aid followed by professional medical care from a doctor. However, there are several ways herbs can be utilized as whole body support after emergency medical care has been given. Before we Read More

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Dem BonesBone fractures are definitely emergencies that require standard first aid followed by professional medical care from a doctor.

However, there are several ways herbs can be utilized as whole body support after emergency medical care has been given. Before we get started on the herbal side of things, let’s take a look at standard fracture first aid as a refresher.

Fracture First Aid

Always keep up to date on your first aid certifications with an organization like the Red Cross, when possible. It gives you hands on training that will be helpful in this type of emergency. Another great idea is to keep a first aid handbook easily accessible, so that you have a checklist to follow as you wait for professionals to arrive. Still, fracture first aid is usually straight forward.

Do:

  1. Stop any bleeding
  2. Immobilize
  3. Apply ice
  4. Be careful of shock

Don’t:

  1. Try to push any protruding bones back in if they have broken the skin
  2. Try to straighten a crooked limb.
  3. Move the person at all if the injury affects the back or neck. Instead, wait for help to arrive and keep the injured person still.

Once a doctor takes care of the fractures, herbs can be used for after-care as an adjunct to your doctor’s instructions. Be sure to get the all clear first, and then herbs traditionally used for pain, healing, and providing extra minerals for the diet can all be incorporated.

Pain

Bone healing is an inherently inflammatory process. In this case, inflammation is a good thing. NSAID drugs (like over the counter pain relievers) actually inhibit the exact processes the body is trying to use to repair bone. This means that they may help with pain, but using them may extend the overall healing time.

Some traditional herbal alternatives include St. John’s Wort, Jamaican Dogwood, California Poppy, and Valerian. Extract form is often the best form these herbs, rather than a tea. The extract is more convenient and can be taken in a little juice or other beverage to disguise the strong, unpleasant tastes of these herbs. Poppy and Valerian both also offer the advantage of being nervine herbs traditionally used to settle the nerves and promote sleep.

Don’t use St. John’s Wort if you are taking prescription drugs. This herb is notorious for interfering with medications.

Healing

Healing a fracture requires good nutrition. Not only does healing utilize more calories than normal, the body will also need extra protein. Bone is around 70% minerals in total composition, so making sure to get enough calcium and other minerals is another big nutritional factor.

Herbs for Minerals:

  • Horsetail
  • Nettles
  • Oatstraw
  • Dandelion

These herbs can be prepared as teas and steeped overnight to be extra strong. In this case, sipping on them over the course of the day is a better approach than drinking them all in one go.

Comfrey

Comfrey is another herb traditionally used for healing fractures. There is a modern debate about whether or not comfrey should be used internally, but it can still be used topically.

If the fracture requires a cast, it’s best to wait until the cast comes off before beginning to apply a comfrey compress or poultice. A simple compress can be made by preparing a strong tea of comfrey leaves, soaking a clean flannel cloth in the tea, and then applying the cloth to the affected area. Once the cloth cools, it can either be dipped into the tea and reapplied or washed to use again later.

Poultices work in much the same way, but the fresh or dried leaves are mashed with just enough water to form a paste, spread directly onto the skin, and held in place with a cloth. Poultices are usually changed out every four hours.

Wilderness First Aid

If you like to hike or camp, live remotely, or are otherwise often not near medical help, you might want to consider taking Wilderness First Aid. If you can’t find a provider with a quick Google search, you might contact the local Boy Scout Council (even if you aren’t even remotely affiliated). They should be able to help you find a good resource for it because they require leaders trained in it for certain types of outings.

Wilderness First Aid is, among other things, one of if not the only place a person who is NOT an EMT or medical professional can receive training so that they can determine if a person with a back or neck injury can be moved. They also train you in how to splint a broken bone with whatever you have on hand, and how to transport people who are injured. All of that might be very handy if you are with someone who falls and fractures an arm or leg a mile from the trailhead, at the bottom of the great sledding hill everyone loves (the one with no cell service), or when a car slides on the ice or an oil slick and goes into a ditch.

Even if you prefer an herbal approach to managing your health, it’s important to realize that herbs cannot miraculously set a fracture- it’s important to have the break seen by a medical professional who can realign the bones and set the stage for the body to do it’s thing!

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Here’s a honey of a post! 17 things you probably didn’t know about honey, but should! http://thesurvivalmom.com/heres-a-honey-of-a-post-17-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-honey-but-should/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/heres-a-honey-of-a-post-17-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-honey-but-should/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:41:06 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=10755 Not all honey is created equal. Or, more accurately, not all honey on the grocery store shelves is equal. Some international honey has been treated and no longer has the health benefits discussed here. If you can possibly buy from Read More

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honey facts

Here are 17 facts about honey.

Not all honey is created equal. Or, more accurately, not all honey on the grocery store shelves is equal. Some international honey has been treated and no longer has the health benefits discussed here. If you can possibly buy from a local farmer, farmer’s market, or a reputable local company, it really is the healthiest choice.

Honey and Baking

1. Never refrigerate honey.

2. Slightly warmed honey is easier to measure out and mix.

3. One 12-ounce honey bear is equal to one cup.

4. It never spoils, making it a real food storage winner. If it crystallizes or becomes granular, place the open container in a bowl of hot water until it liquifies again.

5. To replace sugar with honey in a recipe, substitute 2/3 to 3/4 cup of honey per cup of sugar, and decrease the amount of liquids by 1/4 cup per cup of  honey used.  Stir the mixture very thoroughly. Lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees. Watch the baking time carefully since foods brown more quickly when honey is used.

Health Benefits of Honey

6. Honey contains antioxidants, which help protect against cellular damage.

7. Use honey on wounds, including burns, to help them heal faster. Honey is a natural antibiotic.

8. Manuka honey is the preferred variety for first aid treatment.

9. It can be used as a treatment for chapped lips!

10. A good rehydration beverage combines 1/2 c. honey, 1/2 t. salt, 2 c. orange juice, and 5 1/2 c. water. Use lukewarm water to help the honey dissolve faster, then cool.

11. Adding a little local honey (produced within 50 miles) to your kids diets may help prevent some allergies. The bees have been collecting pollen from plants in your specific area, the same pollen that is the culprit behind many allergies. Tiny doses of this pollen has the same effect as allergy shots, helping the body build immunity against pollen. (Note: filtered honey has had the pollen removed, so do not expect the same benefits from filtered honey.)

Odd Bits and Pieces

12. Bees have been known to produce blue and green honey.

13. It can be purchased in a crystal form. When rehydrated, it can be used as liquid honey.

14. Honey should be stored in closed containers because it absorbs moisture from the air, which can cause it to ferment.

15. An African bird called the Honeyguide locates and feeds on wild honey. The Honeyguide becomes very chatty when it finds a beehive, making it possible for people to retrieve honey themselves.

16. Ancient Egyptians used honey as a form of money and fed it to their sacred animals.

17. Honeybees are the only animal that actually produce food for humans! Just one reason to learn about beekeeping and becoming a beekeeper! Pay back the favor!

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Healthy Eye Care: Q & A With an Optometrist http://thesurvivalmom.com/healthy-eye-care/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/healthy-eye-care/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 08:00:25 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19152 Chances are you have considered how you’d fare without modern medicine in a disaster situation and have stashed away bandages, topical antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and other supplies “just in case.” Have you considered the health and optimal function Read More

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healthy eye care

Chances are you have considered how you’d fare without modern medicine in a disaster situation and have stashed away bandages, topical antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and other supplies “just in case.”

Have you considered the health and optimal function of your eyes?  In a survival situation where keeping clean is more difficult (no electricity, no running water, etc.), eye infections could become more common—especially among children.  I don’t want to take any chances with their eyesight.  I’m not a doctor, so I asked the best optometrist I know: my sister.  Here’s her advice for healthy eye care tips.

Pink Eye

Q:  I have a bottle of eye drops from the last time my kid had pink eye.  How long is it good? Can I still use it? Would it be different if I had an unopened bottle?

A:  All bottled eye drops have an expiration date stamped on the bottle. Unopened bottles should be adequate for up to a year after the expiration date (same for unopened blister packs of contact lenses). If the bottle has been opened, discard after 6 months (regardless of expiration date). When inserting drops, avoid touching the tip of the bottle to skin or eyelashes as it can introduce bacteria into the bottle and cause contamination of the medication.

Q:  Can pink eye be treated with oral antibiotics, or do I have to keep some drops in my cabinet?

A:  Pink eye is best treated with antibiotic eye drops, although you could try using orals in a pinch. Pink eye actually tends to be self- limiting (it will go away on its own in time) in non-contact lens wearers, as long as you keep the eye and surrounding area clean, although antibiotics do shorten the course by several days.

Apply a warm wet cloth for 5-10 minutes to loosen debris in the lashes, then a gentle scrub of the lids/lashes with baby shampoo 2-3 times daily until the infection resolves. Cleanse from the inner corner of the eye to the outside corner. This keeps debris and bacteria out of the tear drainage ducts which are located at the inner corners of the eyes.

Debris in the Eyes

Q:  Is water really a good enough flush, or do I need to keep that expensive eye wash in my medicine cabinet? Would a bottle of saline be just as good?

A:  Saline is just as good. I would only use water as a flush if saline is not available. Even in running tap water there are bacteria that are okay for your gut, but not for your eyes. You can increase your risk of a secondary infection with a water flush. Stay away from saline intended for I.V. flushing. The pH is too high in that stuff for the eye.

Contact Lenses for healthy eye care

Q:  Can I stretch the wear of my contacts longer than the recommended period?  If I tried it, what might the consequences be?

A:  The longer you wear a contact lens, the more deposited they become. More deposits equals more risk of infection or allergic reaction to something on the lens. Also, more deposits reduces oxygen transmission of the lens material, and this can lead to complication from oxygen deprivation to the eye. All three scenarios lead to red, painful eye. In a survival situation probably best to switch to spectacle wear.

Spare Specs

I put off getting a spare set of glasses because of the expense. Heck, I put off getting a pair with my newest prescription for two years since I spend a good deal on contacts that work well each year! However, having backups are essential as a prepper.  So here’s a great website that will let you get a backup pair for each member of the family for pennies on the dollar.  I spent about $400 on the perfect pair of glasses a couple of years ago.  Last summer I took my newest Rx and bought TWO pairs of glasses for less than $40!

EyeBuyDirect* lets you browse your options for frames (I sorted by cheapest, since I didn’t care about fashion and was only buying them as a backup).  Once you’ve chosen frames you can enter all the information from your optometrist’s prescription. I didn’t ask for a copy of mine, but all the info I needed was right on the side of each box of contact lenses.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what all the information means or where to find it. The website includes a tutorial on how to read the prescription so you get all the boxes filled in correctly.  If you really want the anti-scratch, anti-glare, or other special features you’d get at the doctor’s office, you can request them for a slightly higher cost. As with most online purchases, you must check out with a credit card or Flexible Spending Account card.

Voila!  Within a week I had two brand new pairs of glasses for 90% less than my last pair.  So no more turning your nose up at having an extra pair in your bug-out bag, purse, or glove box.  If you have rambunctious kiddos wearing glasses, this option is perfect for lots of reasons.

Let’s prepare our families to see the world clearly, and that means healthy eye care!

*Neither the author of this article nor the Survival Mom blog are affiliated with EyeBuyDirect. We just think it’s a great resource for budget-friendly eyewear!

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5 Tips for Correctly Using Hand Sanitizer (From a Nurse Who Knows) http://thesurvivalmom.com/using-hand-sanitizer/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/using-hand-sanitizer/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:39:45 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19117 1.  Use a large amount. More is better when using hand sanitizer. 2.  Slather the sanitizer between fingers, on front and back of hands, up to your wrists. 3.  Rub the sanitizer vigorously into your hands. 4.  Rub sanitizer under Read More

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using hand sanitizer

1.  Use a large amount. More is better when using hand sanitizer.

2.  Slather the sanitizer between fingers, on front and back of hands, up to your wrists.

3.  Rub the sanitizer vigorously into your hands.

4.  Rub sanitizer under your fingernails and beneath your rings.

5.  Continue rubbing in the sanitizer until it dries. Do not wave your hands in the air to dry them.

Anywhere you see a bottle of sanitizer, take advantage of it. ATM touchpads have been touched by how many people, just today? Who else leaned against that fast food counter? Money? Ewww, when you think about it.

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10 Things You Should Know About Ebola http://thesurvivalmom.com/things-know-ebola/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/things-know-ebola/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 07:00:41 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18779 Like many of you, I have been trying to keep up with stories about Ebola, ever since this terrible virus reared its deadly head, again, in Africa. At first, the stories were interesting and a lot of us in the Read More

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things know ebolaLike many of you, I have been trying to keep up with stories about Ebola, ever since this terrible virus reared its deadly head, again, in Africa. At first, the stories were interesting and a lot of us in the prepper/survival niche toyed with the idea of, “What if it came to America…”

Well, now it’s here, and by the time you receive this email, things could have gone very, very wrong, indeed. Or, perhaps not. We now know of at least one more confirmed case of Ebola, a nurse who had been attending the infamous Liberian patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. If we’re lucky, that will be as far as the virus spreads.  Another possibility is that the Ebola hype has died and another potential pandemic is on the horizon.

I originally sent this article to my newsletter subscribers but I’ve received so much positive feedback that I wanted to share it on the blog as well. I do send out exclusive articles to my subscribers, and you can sign up for these here.

There are 10 things you should know about this Ebola scare, and they apply to any type of outbreak:

1. If you’re prepared, in general, you’re already prepared for Ebola or any other outbreak. Almost. Be reassured that you have many survival pieces in place and are way ahead of the game, if the worst should happen. Now it’s just a matter of adding some additional supplies and making a few, new plans. Just in case.

2. Almost prepared for something like Ebola isn’t good enough! In addition to your food, water, cooking/heating, and other preps, you should begin adding:

  • Heavy duty trash bags. These will serve a multitude of purposes, but this story about a woman in Liberia who was able to treat her family members with little more protection than a raincoat, rainboots, and trash bags is inspiring and shows the need for this basic supply.
  • Multiple pairs of Nitrile gloves. They’re inexpensive, so stock up.They’ll come in handy for far more than Ebola.
  • Face masks. Read this article for more details, but a respirator is highly recommended. The ReadiMask is a good, inexpensive option, but the most recent reports seem to indicate that nothing short of a respirator is the best choice in an Ebola hot zone.
  • Safety goggles. If you ever have the misfortune to be in the presence of an Ebola patient, every bit of skin should be covered. You’ll need safety goggles to protect your eyes and the skin around them.
  • Several gallons of bleach. If you know how to use calcium hypochlorite to make your own bleach, that’s a better option, but it’s also more of a challenge to get the chlorine at a safe level.
  • Hand sanitizer in every possible form and plenty of soap.
  • Protective clothing, if possible.

Here’s a big word of warning. We’re seeing healthcare workers who have worn professional, protective gear become infected with this virus. In no way am I suggesting that the supplies on this list will keep you safe if you are face to face with an Ebola patient. Until we know more about how the virus is transmitted, and I don’t believe even our most expert experts know for sure, the best course of action is to avoid any known areas with the infection.

3. Begin thinking about hunkering down, in place, for weeks or possibly months. If any pandemic grabs a foothold in your area, say within 100 miles, you won’t be able to go to work, the kids will stay home from school, even going out to buy groceries or other necessities may be too dangerous. What should you have on hand in this case? Could you begin homeschooling your kids? Do you have cash on hand, rather than just in the bank? Read The Jakarta Pandemic for some practical tips.

4. Keep track of news from multiple sources. Information coming from the CDC is scary, not reassuring, and they are supposed to be the ultimate source for controlling disease. On the other hand, some voices on the internet are screaming that it’s all over and we’re doomed. Read everything you can and assess information from multiple sources.

These five articles that have given me a lot of insight and food for thought:

  1. When Ebola Protection Fails
  2. What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola
  3. Ebola, A Nurse’s Perspective
  4. The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola” (This one is sad.)
  5. Firestone Did What Governments Have Not: Stopped Ebola in its Tracks

5. If now is the time to panic, you absolutely must not panic! This is the time to assess your preps, get the facts and the latest information. Prepare to hunker down or pack up what you can and head for a part of the country that remains unaffected. Thinking clearly and making logical plans will be your 2 best survival preps.

Having said that, if a particular website or radio host or friend is a source of nothing but negative, doomsday information and you find yourself swallowed up in it, avoid them. Just a friendly tip from Survival Mom!

6. At this point, normalcy bias could be your worst enemy. I never dreamed that you and I would be talking about EBOLA in AMERICA, yet here we are. There’s no point in trying to take comfort in, “It’s just one guy in Dallas.” That’s normalcy bias talking. If the virus made it this far, it’s likely to pop up again, and again. That could be our new reality. Hiding behind, “It couldn’t happen here…” is the least helpful thing you can do.

7.  Work hard to become as healthy as you possibly can be. It doesn’t appear as though Ebola’s effects are more profound against the unhealthy, aged, and/or weak, but Ebola isn’t the only potential pandemic on the horizon. Build your immune system by paying attention to your body, first and foremost. When you’re tired, rest, and get plenty of sleep. Spend time outdoors in the sun and nature. Eliminate sugar and processed foods from your diet as much as possible. Strengthen your muscles and overall stamina through regular exercise.

8. Introduce any changes to your family routine slowly and matter of factly. Scaring kids with horrific tales of Ebola or any other disease and its effects will only instill panic. Being a bit more cautious than usual around sick family and friends, taking some time off from school when flu reports become widespread, teaching kids to wash their hands more frequently — none of these are wild-eyed, tinfoil hat responses! They make sense and when you have a low-key explanation, kids will cope just fine.

9. Be prepared to take action before officials give the go-ahead. Officials at all levels, including school districts, fear nothing more than panicked citizens. When a large number of people panic, they begin to take actions of their own. This might take the form of demanding accountability from individuals and agencies or it could take the form of riots or worse.

Try to stay one step ahead by getting your information from multiple sources. If you have friends or family in the medical field or in government agencies, ask for insider information.

10. Continue to enjoy life. Make plans for holidays and birthdays. Go ahead and try to lose those last 15 pounds! We’ve seen good times and bad times come and go, but what keeps us steady and sane are the little things in life that aren’t so little — family, faith, friends. In the stories coming from the Ebola hot zones, there’s something that comes up over and over: family bonds and traditions. It’s important that we keep those going in our own homes and communities.

As a Christian, this verse from Ephesians 6:13 comes to mind:

“Therefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

You may not be a Christian and this article isn’t about the armor of God, but as a group we are determined to survive and are every bit as determined as any ancient warrior. So to paraphrase, “Take unto you all common sense preparation plans both for you and those you love that you may be able to stand strong during worst case scenarios, and when you’ve done all you can, stand strong.”

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3 Herbs for SHTF Hygiene http://thesurvivalmom.com/shtf-herbal-hygiene/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/shtf-herbal-hygiene/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 06:00:54 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18484 I have a confession: I don’t use coupons. I know, I know. They can be a great way to help stock up on extra personal hygiene products to round out your preparedness kits. But my main focus has always been Read More

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SMHerbalHygieneI have a confession: I don’t use coupons. I know, I know. They can be a great way to help stock up on extra personal hygiene products to round out your preparedness kits. But my main focus has always been having a back up plan for the backup plan.

Herbal Hygiene

Rather than keep ten years’ worth of deodorant and toothpaste on hand, I’d rather just keep one or two extras in the medicine cabinet and know what I can use from my garden instead. Part of this is because space is at a premium in my living quarters, partly because I’m a stubborn minimalist, and partly because I’m a kooky herbalist. Take your pick.

So, let’s take a look at the three most basic components for personal hygiene: something to wash skin, hair, and clothes; something for oral health; and something to keep the arm pits from getting quite so stinky. Three easy to grow, perennial herbs that fit these functions perfectly are soapwort, licorice, and sage. Being able to use these three herbs in a pinch can be handy, or they can supplement an existing daily routine as a more natural option.

Soapwort- Saponaria officinalis

Soap Substitute

Soapwort is a beautiful perennial plant that is hardy in US zones 3-9. It grows to be about three feet tall, and prefers rich, compost-heavy soil. It can be a little finicky about light requirements, as it likes sun but not too much afternoon sun. If it likes its growing location it can become invasive, but if that happens, just harvest more of it. Soapwort leaves and roots can be dried for later and still lather when used.

To make a soap solution with soapwort, use 1 tablespoon of dried leaves or roots (three tablespoons if the herb is fresh) per cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, add the herb, and allow to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. Strain and cool before use.

Soapwort solution can be used for hair, skin, and clothing. It is very gentle, and is often found in high end organic facial care products and used to clean antique textiles. So by all means, don’t wait for SHTF!

Soapwort is toxic to fish, so don’t wash with or dump soapwort solution directly into a pond or stream where live fish are present.

Licorice Root- Glycyrrhiza glabra

Toothbrush/Toothpaste Substitute

Another perennial in the three to four foot tall range, licorice is hardy in USDA gardening zones 7-9. It prefers full sun and moist soil but doesn’t appreciate clay.

The plant will need to grow for two or three years before the roots are large enough to harvest. Once they have matured, they should be harvested in the fall, when the plant has focused all of its resources down into the roots before winter. The flavor and chemistry of the roots will be at their peak during this time.

Not only does licorice root contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components, it’s also shaped perfectly for turning into a simple toothbrush substitute. I use them in addition to a regular toothbrush/toothpaste routine, but some people successfully use licorice root alone.

Licorice root typically grows in a long, thin shape. Once it has been dried (this technique won’t work on a fresh root), choose one end of the root and soften it by standing in a glass with a half inch of water or by sucking on it until the root softens (usually about sixty seconds either way). Peel back the outer root bark (the brown looking skin on the root), and gently chew the root until there is a quarter inch or so of “brush” at the end. Gently rub along the gumline and over each tooth to clean the mouth.

Licorice has a sweet taste, so there’s no need to fear that your brush will taste like pencil shavings. After each use, trim away the used “brush” with a knife or scissors and store in a clean place until next use.

Sage- Salvia officinalis

Deodorant substitute

Sage is a small to medium perennial herb that prefers a very sunny location with dry, well drained soil. It will grow from zones 4-8 in the US. Many people are familiar with sage as a culinary herb, but it also has more medicinal uses.

Make a strong infusion of the fresh or dried herb to spritz or splash the underarms and help control body odor. For best results, make the infusion in the evening and allow to sit overnight before straining. It will need to be applied more frequently than a store bought deodorant, because it will not be as strong. It is not an antiperspirant, either, so it won’t keep you dry.

Fresh sage leaves can also be added to an oral hygiene routine with licorice root. Simply rub a fresh sage leaf over the gums and each tooth. Sage has a stronger flavor than licorice, but the leaves can be harvested more often and more easily than licorice roots, so it’s a good option to know.

Soapwort, licorice, and sage have many other herbal uses, but they are definitely botanical all stars when it comes to personal hygiene. Knowing how to grow and use them will mean you always have a back up plan for soap, toothpaste, and deodorant.

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Stomach “Bugs”: An Herbal Back-Up Plan http://thesurvivalmom.com/stomach-bugs-herbal-back-plan/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/stomach-bugs-herbal-back-plan/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:00:27 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17779 These tips may come in handy someday soon! Click here to pin! So perhaps it’s that time of year, and stomach “bugs” are starting to make the rounds at school and work. Or, perhaps you’ve had a run in with Read More

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stomach bugs

These tips may come in handy someday soon! Click here to pin!

So perhaps it’s that time of year, and stomach “bugs” are starting to make the rounds at school and work. Or, perhaps you’ve had a run in with a mild bout of food poisoning. There are plenty of OTC drugs available (Imodium, Pepto and the like), but let’s take a look at some alternatives in the event that OTC meds aren’t available for whatever reason.

Basic Care for Stomach Bugs

There are many other herbs with a history of use for digestive support, but these five are especially easy to grow and identify, so I think they are particularly well suited for emergency preparedness scenarios where OTCs might be in short supply or unavailable. Combined with a commonsense care approach focusing on food and fluid intake, they should provide a decent family or community back-up plan.

First, regardless of what else is available, food and fluid are going to be key in keeping the situation from getting out of hand. Fluid loss from diarrhea and vomiting are especially dangerous for children and the elderly, so pay close attention to what is going in, not just what’s coming out.

Bland, soft foods are important so that the digestive system isn’t stressed further, so stay away from offering spicy or greasy foods. Make sure the foods still have nutritional value. Sugary gelatin and pudding really aren’t the best idea here. Some nutrient dense but bland foods include oatmeal and other whole grain porridge, meat and veggie broths, yogurt, and plain fruit and vegetables that are cooked until soft.

Maintaining electrolyte and fluid balance is even more important.  Make sure they drink plenty of water, diluted fruit juice, and herbal teas. Stay away from sugary drinks and anything with caffeine. An electrolyte formula can be used if the fluid loss is especially severe, and is a good idea for children and the elderly.

If you don’t have access to Pedialyte, the World Health Organization recommends ORS (Oral Rehydrating Solution) which is 5 liters of water, 6 level teaspoons of sugar, and ½ level tsp of salt. The solution is good for 24hrs, after that you will need to make a fresh batch. It can be used by alternating with other fluids.

Beyond that, these five herbs have a tradition of use for digestive upset. I’ve included some information on the growth habits of the plants as well as how they are used, and hope that will be useful for my readers interested in growing their own herbs and being less reliant on outsourcing their dried herbs.

Herbs for Vomiting

Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)

This plant is soothing for the stomach and the throat when there is a lot of vomiting and the stomach acid leaves the throat feeling raw. Marshmallow has a high level of mucilage, which makes the tea take on a distinctive “slippery” texture.

The best way to use marshmallow as a tea is actually by allowing the dried root to soak in room temperature or cool water- not brewing it with hot water as is common with most herbs. Leave it overnight for best results, but it can be used anytime after it has soaked for thirty minutes.

Marshmallow is traditionally understood to coat and soothe inflamed tissues of the digestive tract. It is one of my go-to herbs for the aftermath of food poisoning. Marshmallow is native to Africa but it is not a fussy plant and is usually happy to grow in rich garden soil as long as it gets enough water. It is a perennial that is hardy across most zones and prefers consistently moist soil.

Ginger (zingiber oficinale)

The root of this herb can help settle a stomach, and is traditionally used for nausea and improving digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Tea from fresh ginger root is best, but dried will also help. Some health food stores carry candied ginger root, which is convenient and palatable to most people. I enjoy adding it to trail mix, too, so I usually keep plenty on hand.

Ginger is a tropical plant, so for most parts of the US it will do best if grown in pots that can be brought inside during winter and placed in a sunny window.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

The bark of slippery elm is traditionally used as a thin porridge – a gruel – or added to porridge such as oatmeal. Like marshmallow, slippery elm is helpful for coating the stomach. The main difference between the two is that slippery elm is considered to be more nutritive and was used during convalescence as a food. It was often turned to when the sick person couldn’t seem to keep any food down.

Some good flavorings for a gruel that uses slippery elm are ginger or cinnamon, for an extra boost of stomach settling goodness, and honey as a sweetener. To make a slippery elm porridge, start with a bowl of oatmeal or other whole grains, and stir in a tablespoon of slippery elm powder.

To make a slippery elm gruel, place a tablespoon of slippery elm powder into a bowl, and add one cup of hot water. Add cinnamon or ginger, if desired, and allow to cool to a safe temperature for drinking.  It will thicken as it stands, so if it becomes thicker than you want, add more water.

Sometimes, herbalists mix honey and slippery elm powder to form a dough, and then roll the dough into bite sized pieces This can be eaten a few pieces at a time, rather than making a gruel.

Native to central, eastern and southern US and parts of Canada, this tree is an excellent addition to the landscape as a shade tree. Harvesting is a little trickier for trees than for other herbs. It is usually done in the spring, when the rising sap makes the bark easier to peel from the tree. It’s best to learn how to do this from someone who has had experience. “Girdling”, or stripping the bark all the way around the tree, can kill it.

These herbs are especially good if there is vomiting. But what if the problem is at the, ahem, other end?

Diarrhea

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)

Blackberry is the old-timey standby for diarrhea. The leaves were favored by traditional European herbalists, while the Native tribes in the US favored the roots. In the US, blackberry plants are grown domestically and it is also a common wild plant.

The leaf is easier to harvest, and usually easier to find commercially than the root.  Leaves from raspberry (a close relative of blackberry) can be used as well, and both are best prepared as a hot tea. If you are making use of blackberry leaves from your own plants, harvest them as the plant is beginning to bloom and arrange them on screens or hang in bunches to dry until you need them.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

The go to herb for end-of-meal digestive support, peppermint is also excellent for stomach bugs that leave you feeling gassy and bloated. Try hot peppermint tea with a little honey for best results.

In the garden, I always recommend planting peppermint in containers; if you plant it directly in the ground be aware that it spreads by runners and rootlets and is vigorous enough to kill other, more mild mannered, plants by crowding them out. I have also commonly found peppermint growing wild around old home sites and damp fields. It’s quite hardy and spreads freely.

As always, be aware that although many herbs have a long record of safe use, they can interact with prescription and OTC medications, so be sure to check with your doctor for potential problems before you use an herb for the first time.

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Fast, Free Survival Mom Maintenance http://thesurvivalmom.com/fast-free-survival-mom-maintenance/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/fast-free-survival-mom-maintenance/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 06:00:47 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18145  Pin this —> Taking care of the mom who takes care of everyone else! The most important thing you can do for your children? Take care of their mother! You’ve heard that if the momma isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.  You Read More

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mom maintenance

 Pin this —> Taking care of the mom who takes care of everyone else!

The most important thing you can do for your children? Take care of their mother!

You’ve heard that if the momma isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.  You need to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually to be at the top of your game so you can be the mom your kids deserve every day—including in times of crisis.

But with both time and money in short supply, what’s a survival mom to do? It’s surprising what fast, free actions can help you be better prepared.

Take care of your body

Eat in the morning

If you’re still having aspirin and coffee for breakfast, you need to rethink your routine! You’d never send your kids to face a full day on an empty stomach. You shouldn’t, either. Even if you mix up a quick protein shake the night before and down it in the car, you’re less likely to experience low blood sugar and that irritable, panicky, I’m-late-again tantrum. (‘Cause that’s not just me, right?) You’ve prepared for having to make it home without your car, deal with ugly weather conditions, and countless other unpredictable emergencies. Will you really be able to do it on an empty stomach?

Drink water

Years ago I read a book called You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty.  It makes for pretty dry reading, no pun intended, but you can glean much from just the summary.  While recent research indicates that forcing gallons of water down your gullet isn’t necessarily beneficial, Mother Nature never intended you to drink a 2-liter of soda a day, either.

Staying hydrated boosts your energy and helps fill your tummy, too. If you’re one of the handful of women who doesn’t have to diligently watch her waistline, well, I’ll keep my snarky comments to myself. But for the rest of us, water may be our diet’s best friend.

Stretch 

You know you’re supposed to exercise at least 3 times a week; it’s not news.  But I promised free and QUICK strategies, so try this one! Find 30 seconds in your day—especially when you feel a bit sluggish—to stretch your back, arms, and legs. Touch your toes. Take a deep breath. You’ll feel energized instantly.

Floss 

Statistically, most of us don’t floss our teeth regularly. Your oral health provides a window to your overall health, according to the Mayo Clinic.  You probably have imagined a scenario where dental care could be unavailable or unaffordable.  A 2-minute date each day with some dollar-store floss seems like a pretty cheap insurance policy.

Stop smoking, already!

This is beyond free, because you’re actually saving money. And your health, and your kids’ health. If it hits the fan, you’ll have to go cold turkey, anyway, so you might as well get ahead of the game and put that money to better use now.

I know, I know, it’s easy for me to say because I’ve never been addicted. So I’ll tell you what I tell my kids: If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way.  If not, you’ll find an excuse. Breathing is kind of essential to survival—more than any food stores or silver stash. Give your lungs the priority they deserve.

Get some sleep!

Seriously—your mind and body need rest.  Limit your late nights to just a couple a week.  The laundry will still be there in the morning, I promise. But if you drive to school groggy, snap at your kids unnecessarily, or slog through your day doing everything at half speed, you’d be better off getting that extra hour of zzz’s.

Keep your mind sharp

Read!

Download a free kindle app. Then, download some free kindle books. Even without a kindle, you can find enough to keep your brain engaged. Read short articles while you’re at the doctor’s office. Read The Survival Mom on your lunch break. Read to your kids before bed! Keep that tradition going even when your kids can read on their own. Current research indicates that it’s even good for teenagers! Read a book together (or at least talk about it when you’re both done).

Journal

Neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Nussbaum has laid out a prescription for keeping the brain so healthy that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease can be delayed until death—even when physiological changes consistent with the disease are already present. His recommendations include reading and writing just a little bit every day. Don’t bog yourself down wallowing in only survivalist reading. A cheesy romance novel can be good for the brain and spirit, too.  Still no time? Read on your treadmill. Surely multitasking can help you justify 30 minutes to yourself. (I like to read the kindle and walk the track while the kids play at the playground.)

Nurture your spirit

Develop an attitude of gratitude

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your lists of things to do/buy/learn before everything hits the fan, make a mental list of all the things you have to celebrate. It’s impossible to wallow in the doom and gloom of internet news when you ‘re picturing the faces of your smiling kiddos or grandkids! Even in the midst of divorce, illness, financial difficulty, or multiple loads of unfolded laundry, you have lots to be thankful for. If you’re not dealing with any of those issues, you know where to start your list.

Pray or meditate daily

Even if you’re not religious per se, Dr. Nussbaum says daily time in quiet contemplation (maybe making that gratitude list?) has powerful effects on the brain and body. I know it’s tough to find quiet time.  Might I suggest the minutes between “snooze” hits on your morning alarm? Works for me.  I find I can be very contemplative on Monday mornings.

Ask for help

It’s not against the rules.  It doesn’t make you a bad mom. It just means you’re human, and you’ve accepted it. That can be really powerful! Showing your kids how to take care of simple chores, meal prep, and organization can be empowering for them and liberating for you. And if we’re being honest, go ahead and admit that you don’t ask your husband for help because you hate admitting you need it, not because he won’t do it. Mine started snapping beans with the ballgame on and worked his way up to slap-chopping vegetables with the kids (it’s hilarious to see them all lined up and pounding their way toward homemade salsa!). Now he’s an expert tomato skinner, pear peeler, and taste-tester. Plus we get to spend time together instead of me busy in the kitchen while he does…well, whatever he does out in the workshop.  I have found he’ll help with pretty much anything if I ask. But expecting him to notice a sticky hand print and attack it without prompting is unrealistic. I don’t get too worked up about it—especially now that I feel like I’m not doing it all on my own. (Again, that’s not just me, right?) Asking for help will also allow you to make time to exercise, read, and get enough sleep.  I bet your husband will agree that you deserve those things! Give yourself permission.

You’re too important to your family to neglect yourself. They need your “A” game every day. And because you never know when emergencies—major or minor—could require peak physical, mental, and emotional performance, taking care of the mom who takes care of everyone else may be the most important preparation you’ll ever make.

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