Two Essentials to Add to Your First Aid Kit

Though I hope you’ll never need either of these essentials, there are two items, ones which you may never have heard of, I believe every first aid kit should be stocked with: activated charcoal and yunnan baiyo.  Between various cuts, upset stomachs, and hangovers, activated charcoal and yunnan baiyo have saved the day for my family upon several occasions. Here is what you need to know:

 

Activated Charcoal

I always keep capsules of activated charcoal at home for emergencies.  There have been a couple times (like the time I got food poisoning or that time my dog ate a poisonous bougainvillea flower) when I used activated charcoal to quickly remedy the problem. Activated charcoal has been used by emergency trauma centers worldwide. It works by trapping toxins or poison in its millions of pores through the entire length of the stomach and small and large intestines preventing them from being reabsorbed by the body by flushing them out. In fact, it is estimated activated charcoal can reduce absorption of poisonous substances by up to 60%.  It’s inexpensive, odorless, and tasteless, and absolutely should not be confused with BBQ charcoal!  You should be able to find it at most health food stores or even some health-conscious grocery stores in the supplement section or online.  Drink lots of water throughout the day when you take it, as it can dehydrate the body if plenty of water isn’t consumed.Activated-Charcoal-Cap.jpg

Top 10 Activated Charcoal Uses

Emergency Toxin Removal

 

Hopefully, you or your loved ones will never ingest something poisonous, but it can happen. As mentioned above, I’ve used activated charcoal when I got food poisoning. Activated charcoal binds with most organic compounds, pesticides, mercury, fertilizers or bleach. It is also used by medics to combat accidental or purposeful overdose of drugs.  Take the activated charcoal as soon as possible in these situations, definitely within an hour of ingestion. Call 911 in the event of an emergency as proper dosing is imperative. Remember to drink plenty of water in conjunction with taking the charcoal.

Alleviates Gas and Bloating

Feeling gassy or uncomfortable from a meal?  Try taking activated charcoal, which binds any gas-causing byproducts in food that cause discomfort. Take activated charcoal before your meal if you know you’re going to eat something likely to cause gas or bloating.

Treats Alcohol Poisoning and Can Prevent Hangovers

While activated charcoal does not absorb alcohol, most alcohol is not consumed in its pure form.  It’s often mixed with chemical fillers or artificial sweeteners.  Activated charcoal will work to remove these toxins that contribute to poisoning in the body.  Some studies have also shown it can greatly reduce blood alcohol concentrations.

Mold Cleansing

Toxic mold can grow in our bodies even without us knowing it.  Flooding, leaks or poor ventilation in the home (especially in rooms like the bathroom, laundry room, or basements) allow mold to thrive. As a result, mold can live in the body and can cause people to suffer from depression, decreased brain function, heart disease, liver or kidney dysfunction, impaired immune system function, severe respiratory issues, headaches, irritated eyes, or vomiting.  While some mold is clearly visible, some mold is not, and can be tested by a professional if your family is experiencing symptoms like wheezing, watery eyes, rashes, coughing, or headaches that can’t be explained in other ways. (Source: Chronic Fatigue and Nutrition, Dr. Axe )

Water Purifying

Whenever I’m traveling somewhere I know I won’t have access to clean, purified water, I always carry activated charcoal sticks. You can put these sticks in water to trap any solvents, pesticides, industrial waste, or other chemicals without changing the taste of the water.  Drinking plenty of water is incredibly important, but make sure you’re drinking clean water.  Even our typical tap water is toxic and contains plenty of chemicals, fluoride, and toxins (source: Dr. Axe, PublicIntegrity.org).   Look for activated charcoal filters to purify the water throughout your home or even countertop models.

Whitens Teeth

Looking for an inexpensive, quick way to get pearly white teeth?  Just dip your wet toothbrush in activated charcoal powder and brush your teeth with it a few times a week to reduce stains and improve the pH balance in the mouth.  It will also absorb plaque and help prevent cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. When brushing with activated charcoal, I like to put paper towels down around the sink, as the powder will stain clothes and grout. Brush your teeth with it, sip and swish some water, then spit and rinse out your mouth until your spit is clear again. No need to brush with toothpaste after.  Continue this practice a few times a week for best results.  That being said, if you have porcelain veneers, caps, or crowns, activated charcoal can cause staining. (Source: Wellness Mama)

 

Yunnan Baiyo

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In traditional Chinese medicine, yunnan baiyo has been used for centuries to stop bleeding externally or internally.  Interestingly, this medicine was a staple of every Chinese soldier’s first aid kit and was later used extensively during the Vietnamese War due to its incredible effectiveness in treating battlefield injuries (Source).  Its reputation is equal to that of penicillin in the US.  I don’t know all the ingredients, but it is said the main ingredients are two types of ginseng and several members of the yam family (Source: IVC Journal).

Yunnan baiyo can be taken orally or topically, depending on what you need it for.  For external cuts, I just mix some powder with a tiny bit of water or saliva to make a paste which I apply directly to the cut.  You will be amazed by the swiftness which it works. The powder is even used by many veterinarians (I actually first learned of this medicine when my dog had a bad cut). Some people, however, can be allergic. I recommend consulting a professional before using it so you can get familiar with dosages. Pick up yunnan baiyo from your local Chinese herbalist or order it online.

 

Looking for more tips to lead a holistic lifestyle?  Check out more of my blog posts or shoot me a message on my website.

Reasons You Should Cook With This Cancer-Fighting, Pain-Reducing, Immune-Boosting Spice (plus recipe!)

Spices should not be neglected from your cooking, because most spices have health benefits and add amazing flavor or color to foods.  Today I want to talk about the brightly-colored spice, turmeric, which you may have tried before, especially if you’ve eaten Indian food.  Turmeric is argued to be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence, and speaking from personal experience, holy shit! This stuff works.

I started taking turmeric, or curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric), in supplement form last year to treat chronic wrist and hip pain. Curcumin fights inflammation and contains lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants.  Within days my pain dissipated.  Here are some other uses for the spice:

Arthritis, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, gall bladder disorders, headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual cramps, depression, Alzheimer’s, water retention, worms, kidney problems, and cancer.

Sound too good to be true?  There’s a reason this spice has been used to treat illnesses for centuries. It works! Cooking with turmeric alone may not be a high enough dosage to make a huge impact with helping any of the above issues, but you can also find turmeric in supplement form to get the full effects.

Turmeric goes very well with black pepper, especially because the black pepper enhances the effects of the curcumin. Turmeric also goes great with other spices like cumin, coriander, curry, etc.

Crispy Turmeric Tofu Tacos

Ingredients:

For the tofu…

-extra firm tofu, drained, cut into cubes (to drain, place tofu block in a colander over a bowl and place a plate with something heavy on top of the tofu for anywhere from 20 minutes- hour).

-spices: turmeric, black pepper, salt, cumin, any additional favorite spices  *turmeric stains bright yellow, so clean immediately if you spill!*

-EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Extras for the tacos…

-favorite beans, soaked, rinsed and cooked

-taco shells

-avocado

-raw red onion, diced

-fresh corn off the cob

-optional: cheese

Instructions:

1. Turn over to 400 degrees F.

2. After tofu has drained and is cut into cubes, toss the cubes in a bowl. Add spices (I eyeball it out, but probably about 1/4 teaspoon of each spice) and oil and coat evenly.

3. Place tofu on lined baking sheet.  Put in the oven on the bottom rack for five minutes. Flip tofu and place in oven for another five minutes, then repeat once more for a total of 15 minute cook time.

4. Put tacos together- cooked beans, raw onion, corn, tofu, and avocado on shells. Serve up and enjoy!

If you have leftover tofu, I like to do another easy dish of sushi rice, veggies, and tofu.

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For the original crispy tofu recipe, sans tacos, click here.

Other Sources: Whole Foods

5 Tips to Reduce Stress Instantly

75%-90% of all doctor visits are stress related.  When stress goes untreated it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Poor nutrition, environment, career, unhealthy relationships, and lifestyle can all impact your body by releasing cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. While it’s normal to release cortisol, it’s important for your body to return to its normal cortisol levels following a stressful event.  In our high-stress culture though, your body doesn’t always have the chance to return to its normal cortisol levels, so your body is constantly in fight or flight mode which makes you more prone to several negative effects.

Here are five tips to help you reduce your stress instantly:

1. Make lists

You’re busy and have tons to juggle.  Writing things down, creating lists, and prioritizing tasks is one of the quickest fixes for reducing daily stress.  I recommend keeping a list of everything you need to get done for the day, then reorganizing these tasks in order of importance.  I also suggest completing the least exciting or hardest task before 11:00am.  Our willpower and focus is only good for so long, so put your energy towards finishing the most stressful work for the day earlier on.  That way by 11am you can take a big sigh of relief, because the rest of the day just got easier.

2. Move your body 

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Our bodies crave movement.  Find something you have fun doing and make it part of your daily routine. Exercise is a way of releasing built up tension, so instead of reaching for the sugar and booze, get your body moving if you’re stressed.  It doesn’t have to be an intense workout.  Get off the subway a little early and walk the rest of the way to work, or take a work break to stand up and stretch at your desk.  You’ll feel much better!  Find a type of exercise that works for your body’s needs.  What did you like to do as a kid?  What makes you feel good?

3. Breathe 

Do you ever experience moments where you realize that you haven’t been breathing?  I mean, really breathing, like from the belly.  Start breathing consciously.  Slow your breath down and allow your body to relax for a moment.  Can you see your belly moving in and out or are you just breathing through your nose?  Breathe in for four counts and out for four counts, breathing through the belly.

4. Self-massage

Loving touch is so important to our mental health.  We crave affection and not all of us get it on a regular basis.  Give yourself some love.  Try massaging yourself.  Do you have tension in your shoulders?  Your temples?  Your neck? Breathe consciously and use your hands to make yourself feel good!

5. Lavender essential oils

Essential oils have been used for centuries for healing. Lavender oil has many therapeutic effects, and it’s a personal Lavender_lgfavorite for relaxing the mind and body and reducing stress. Poor sleep is often a result of stress, so lavender oil is especially useful at night before bed.  I like to put a couple drops on my hands to rub over my pillows. I’ll also put a couple drops on the back of my neck to relieve tension, and there are tons of other uses and methods for applying lavender oil.

Want more tips like these? Subscribe to my newsletters or contact me for a complimentary health consultation.