Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts

Feb 1, 2019

FREE - The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book a limited time, my new book The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book, is free in Kindle format. Grab it while you can!

In it, you'll discover a wealth of information on how the common dandelion has been used since ancient times, and how science is confirming it's high medcinal value. The book also teaches proper dosing and offer recipes for using the flower, leaves, stems, and roots for health and medicine.

Here's what some readers have said about The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book:

"Ms. Seleshanko had done a wonderful job of pulling together medicinal recipes for numerous types of health problems. I was impressed with the background information relating to the subject and have begun looking for dandelion products in the store until I can harvest them on my own in the Spring."
         Mr. Bill

"I was so pleased to get Kristina’s sequel to The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook! She has a knack for explaining scientifically-dense information in user-friendly language, and for giving modern folks practical information on traditional ways of doing things."
          Suzannah Doyle

"If you are looking for an herbal/wildcrafting book that's informative and covers every aspect of a single herb that can help your health in so many ways then look no further!"
          CJ's Olde Thyme Farm 
Take a peak inside the print version (which is black and white; the Kindle version is in color):

You'll find both the print and Kindle version of The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book here.

Jan 22, 2019

Spotting Sugar's Sneaky Names - with a FREE Printable List to Take Shopping!

Other Names for Sugar
Even though my family doesn't eat much processed food, I've been shocked to learn how many food products we used to buy that contain sugar. That's not because I didn't used to read food labels. I do that pretty diligently because I've been fooled before. It's because sugar hides under all kinds of sneaky names.

No wonder the nation's health is so compromised! I'm finding sugar hidden in nearly everything, including dairy products, condiments, "non-sugary" drinks, and "no sugar" pectin used for canning!

The science is in. We are killing ourselves with 26 lbs. of sugar per year, according to conservative estimates. (One website I came across claims the figure is closer to 170 lbs. per year!) Sugar, studies show, causes inflammation in the body - and inflammation is linked to pretty much every disease. Sugar puts a strain on our livers, which are working too hard to process it all. Sugar turns off our sensation of satiety while stimulating insulin, which makes us feel hungry. Sugar increases uric acid, which puts us at risk for kidney disease and can lead to gout. And while fat has unjustly been blamed for heart disease, top cardiologists now admit carbs and sugar are likely to blame. Sugar interferes with the way our bodies fight disease (bacteria and yeast feed on sugar, as does cancer). Sugar increases the risk of depression. Sugar decreases cognitive health. Sugar causes metabolic disease, which leads to pre-diabetes, which leads to full-fledged diabetes.

And this doesn't even touch upon the effects sugar made from GMO ingredients (beets and corn) may have on our bodies.
We have a myriad of reasons to reduce or omit sugar in our diet, but this can be difficult when food manufactuerers hide sugar under names you'd likely never guess. Since keeping sugar out of my life is of vital importance because of my diabetes (learn how I reversed my diabetes here), and because I like my children to eat as little sugar as possible, I've spent hours researching the subject. Since I don't want anyone else to have to do that, I've compiled a list for you.

I've also created a handy printable version of the list that's free for the taking. Put it on cardstock. Laminate it, if you like. And pop it in your purse so it's handy while you're shopping. (Click on the image to download it.) Do note that in order to save space on the printable, I had to omit anything with the words "sugar" or "syrup" in them. Both are types of sugar, but they are easy to spot on a food label, too.
Here's to your health!

Nov 29, 2018

The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book is here!

herbal medicine dandelion
After years of using dandelions medicinally for myself and my family, after many months of additional research into dandelion science, and after even more months of writing and editing, The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book is now available!

Dandelions are my favorite wild edible and medicinal plant because almost everyone already knows them...and takes them for granted. They are the blossom children love and adults spray to eradicate - but it hasn't always been that way. In fact, dandelions were purposefully brought to North America by immigrants who valued the plant as both food and medicine. With a history of use going back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, modern science has shown this common weed is useful for treating a number of ailments.

The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book will help you to learn how life-changing dandelion medicine can be. You'll discover:

* What each part of the dandelion is used for.
* What conditions the plant treats.
* How to properly dose dandelion medicine.
* What recent scientific studies have been conducted on dandelion medicine.

In addition, you'll discover over 40 recipes for making dandelion tinctures, teas, capsules, decoctions, salves, oils, baths, poultices, vinegars, and more.

I've purposefully made this book inexpensive so that more people can learn about herbal medicine and the value of this common weed. You can buy it inexpensively in full-color Kindle format (which can be read on nearly any device; learn more about that here) or as a very affordable paperback with black and white photos. It also makes a terrific gift, especially when paired with my bestselling The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook!

I hope the book will be a blessing to you.

Apr 5, 2018

We Now Have GMO Rice

Because rice is relatively high on the glycemic index (meaning it spikes blood sugar), I've never considered it a health food. However, I know many people who consume it regularly...and it's widely found in processed food. Now, though, there's a new reason to avoid rice: The FDA has approved the sale of GMO rice in the United States.

Although this rice cannot currently be planted in the U.S. (it needs approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for this to happen), it can be imported into the United States.

To avoid GMO rice, you will need to follow all the same steps you would to avoid any GMO plant:

1. Buy only certified organic rice. If it's organic, it automatically cannot be GMO.

2. Avoid processed foods with rice-based ingredients. This includes: rice germ, rice bran, rice protein, rice flour, rich starch, rice syrup, and rice blends.

Other GMO foods currently available in the U.S. are:

* Corn
* Soy
* Sugar beets
* Papaya
* Zucchini and yellow summer squash
* Canola (rapeseed)
* Cottonseed
* Salmon
* Apples
* Potatoes

The trickiest part about avoiding GMOs is tht they can hide in processed food, infant formula, and even vitamins.

To learn more about why I recommend avoiding GMOs, and further information on where to find them, click here.

* Cover image courtesy of Ozzy Delaney

Jan 9, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions about the Keto Diet

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

I regularly recieve messages from readers asking me about the keto diet (through which I've lost 45 lbs., reversed my diabetes, and just generally got a whole lot healthier). A few questions come up again and again, so I think it's time to answer them right here on the blog.

Q: Can you recommend a place to learn how to do the keto diet?

A: I do the original keto diet, also known as theraputic ketogenic. It's perfect for diabetics and others who need to control medical problems. I eat 20 grams total carbs per day. Some people who claim to eat keto count net carbs (carbohydrates minus any fiber in the food). Diabetics should not do this because all carbs affect blood sugar. Some people claiming to eat keto eat up to 30 or maybe even 40 carbs per day and still lose weight - but if that kind of keto diet isn't working for you (you're not losing weight or you have mad cravings for carbs), do yourself a favor and stick to 20 grams or less per day, total. It's do-able - and not even very hard.

For more details on what the keto diet is and what to eat while on it, click here.

Q: How can I tell if I'm in ketosis?

A: Ketosis is a medical term that means your body is burning fat, and therefore making ketones (a chemical all of us have in our liver). The keto diet is named for this process, which is integral to its health and weight loss benefits.

But truly, don't worry about ketosis. Don't waste your money on ketone test strips, either. They aren't all that accurate, with results varying according to hormones, how hydrated you are, or even how long you've been eating keto. If you're eating 20 total carbs a day or less, YOU ARE IN KETOSIS, or very soon will be.

Q: Can you recommend some sites that show the science behind the keto diet?

A: Start with 23 Studies on Low Carb, Low Fat diets, for an understanding of how wrong those diets are. Then go here to read a little about scientific studies supporting keto eating.

If you are diabetic (type 1 or type 2), I also highly recommend the educational files over at the Reversing Diabetes Facebook group.

Q: Where can I find keto recipes?

A: There are some right here on this blog! (And I'm sure I'll be adding more.) I also keep several keto recipe boards on Pinterest. (Currently, I have over 600 keto recipes pinned).

A lot of people want me to recommend a keto cookbook, but honestly, most of them are awful, containing recipes with way too many carbs.

I do think Kristie Sullivan (of YouTube's Cooking Keto with Kristie) has some brilliant, very loww carb baked goods recipes - but they should be eaten only occassionally. I have Kristie's Journey to Health cookbook, and while I like the baked goods (and the pork rind pancakes - sounds awful, but trust me, they are great), I really haven't liked any of her savory dishes. They are much, much too rich and dairy-dependant for my family.

About a week ago I ordered The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen, and I can truly recommend it. Check out the author's blog All Day I Dream About Food to sample her recipes. I love them!

Related Posts:

Dec 28, 2017

Top 5 Most Popular Posts for 2017 - Plus Top Posts of All Time!

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

2017 is nearly at an end, which means it's time for reflection and maybe some new goals. This year has certainly been a life-changing one for me: Reversing my diabetes (and most of my other health complaints) through a keto diet; hubby no longer commuting 92 miles one direction in order to get to work; and my need to do more to help support my family financially. And one of the things I always do around this time of year is access this blog.

So let me ask: What are my readers (you!) needing from me? Please, let me know in the comments below!

Another way I learn what readers want is to look at this blog's most popular posts from the previous year, and for the entire life of the blog. (Did you know I've been writing this blog since 2009?! Holy smokes!)

Most Popular Posts from 2017

# 5. Catnip for Human Medicine 
This popular post was inspired by the catnip patch that came with our homestead - and which our cat (who also came with our homestead) adores. I was surprised to learn catnip is so beneficial for humans, especially for helping us relax. It also repels mosquitos better than DEET. Find out what else catnip is good for by clicking here.

# 4. How to Get Out from Under the Laundry Pile
A lot of you struggle to keep up with your family's laundry, and in this post, I give you my best tips for how I make laundry easy and stress-free.

#3. Can I Use My Instant Pot Pressure Cooker for Canning?
The Instant Pot electric pressure cooker (buy it here) hit the world by storm in 2017, and my third most popular post definitely reflects that. In it, I dispell myths about using pressure cookers as pressure canners. Be sure to read it before you can!

#2. Cauliflower Chowder Recipe
Combine the Instant Pot and a keto recipe and you get my second most popular post from 2017. This is actually a revised version of a non-keto, non-Instant Pot recipe I posted in 2015. It's been a family favorite, so when I went keto, I was thrilled it was easy to make low carb. It's also easy to make in the Instant Pot (or slow cooker/crock pot, or the stove top).

 #1. 50 Low Carb and Keto Thanksgiving Recipes
When I started eating keto in December of 2016, I never dreamed that keto recipes would turn into the most popular posts on my blog! It's really a testament to this healthy diet, which truly works for treating type I and type II diabetes, cancer, Lyme disease, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, metabolic disorder, sleep disorders, pain, infertility (especially PCOS), multiple sclerosis, and other diseases - not to mention for losing weight, especially when the pyramid diet fails. (I've lost 45 lbs., my husband has lost 60 lbs.) Keto works, my friends!

Most Popular Posts of All Time

#5.  Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets
Here's a little secret: I hate pickled beets. But my family loves them - and, apparently, so do you! This post from 2014 continues to be among my most read.

#4. The Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net
I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves a good apron - or two, or three, or...Since 2011, this post has pointed ya'll to some pretty awesome, free patterns for my favorite kitchen accessory.

#3. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible
I'm so happy at least one God-centered post is popular on this blog! ;)

#2. How to EASILY Clean Ceilings & Walls - Even in a Greasy Kitchen!
It turns out, greasy kitchens are my specialty. I also specialize in finding "lazy girl" ways to clean. This post from 2014 combines both these "talents."

#1. How to Train Chickens
This has been my most read post since 2012, which cracks me up! I'd have never thunk it. But I guess hubby and I are pretty good at getting our hens to cooperate and do the things we want them to.

Nov 3, 2017

Saving Money While Eating Keto (or Whole Foods)

Saving Money while Eating Whole Foods
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Last December, when my doctor informed me I had type II diabetes and that if I didn't want to take insulin I needed to go on a keto diet, I was worried this new way of eating would blow our grocery budget sky high. Maybe you're trying to switch to a whole foods diet but are afraid it will cost a fortune. Or maybe you're still eating lots of processed, carb-laden food but need to trim your grocery costs. Whatever the case, the following tips will help keep your grocery budget under control, just as they have mine.

(An important point: Many people find their grocery budget goes down when they switch to a keto diet, even without implementing these money-saving tips. It helps that keto keeps you more full than the more popular high carb, low fat diet, but it also really depends upon how much processed food you're used to buying. Our budget remained about the same; previously we ate a lower carb whole foods diet.)

Courtesy of

* Keto is a moderate protein diet; it doesn't require huge amounts of meat. That should help your budget, right there!

* Learn which grocery stores in your area have a meat clearance section and what day of the week they mark down their meat. Plan to use that meat the same day, or freeze it for later use.

* Watch for meat sales, via newspaper inserts, store websites, or store loyalty programs. Plan your meals around these sale items.

* But cheaper cuts of meat, and learn to cook them so they taste great. Most cheaper cuts are either less tender (so you'll need to learn to cook them low and slow in a crock pot or Instant Pot).

* Considered canned meat. If you're not used to it, canned meat may seem weird or even yucky. But I assure you that minimally processed canned meat, like chicken breasts, salmon, and tuna, is healthy and delicious! Sometimes it's cheaper than fresh, too - especially if you buy it on sale.

* Prepare your own meat. For example, instead of buying chicken tenders, buy chicken breasts and cut them down to size yourself. Or buy a whole chicken and use the meat for several meals.

Courtesy of Jules

* Buy what's in season; it's almost always cheaper. For example, asparagus is least expensive in spring, when it's naturally abundant. (Not sure what's in season when? Check out the USDA's website.)

* Consider farmer's markets. Sometimes they are less expensive than grocery stores. (But not always!)

* Compare the cost of frozen vegetables with fresh vegetables. Often, frozen is less expensive, yet still quite nutritional.

* Grow as many of your own veggies as possible. Even having a few pots on your porch or balcony can save a lot of money, especially if you choose greens, which grow and grow and grow until killed by frost. (Some greens, like kale and collards will even stay alive in the snow.)

In General

* Shop around. Familiarize yourself with all the grocery stores in your area, so you know for sure which ones are least expensive for the foods you most purchase.
Courtesy of Clyde Robinson
* Keep a price book. Don't rely on your memory to know the best price for the foods you regularly purchase or you may end up buying something on sale without actually saving any money. Click here to learn how to make a simple price book.

* Avoid processed food, even if you think it's keto. This will save you a ton of money - and processed food is frankly never as healthy as whole food. The Internet has a wealth of made-from-scratch keto foods. (Check out my Pinterest boards, for a start.)

* Eat simple meals most days. Few ingredients usually means spending less money to make a meal. Focus on one meat and one veggie for most meals.

* Although organic produce and grassfed meat and dairy are ideal for any healthy diet, don't feel you must buy them in order to eat keto. Sure Kerrygold butter and grassfed steaks are awesome, but you can be very successful at keto while eating conventional meat, dairy, and produce.

* Consider buying in bulk. Find local farmers from whom you can buy half a cow or a pig. When you find a good deal at the grocery store, especially on a staple, buy a lot to save yourself money in the future. For fresh foods, freeze what you won't use right away.

* Meal plan. This will save your sanity, as well as your pocket book, and it doesn't have to be complicated. I usually just determine how many days I'm buying for (typically 14 or so - because the less often I'm at the grocery store, the less I'm likely to buy!), pick that many dinners, and choose basics for lunch and breakfast. Make sure you plan around what's on sale and in season.

* Meal prep. Some people find that if they have pre-made, homemade meals at home in the freezer or fridge, they are less likely to grab unhealthy food elsewhere. If grabbing food-to-go is a temptation to you, commit to spending a few hours every weekend to prep the week's meals.
Courtesy of

* Make your own spice blends. Spice mixes can not only have hidden, unhealthy ingredients (including MSG, soy, and flours), but they are more expensive than homemade mixes.

* Grate your own cheese. Do this first because pre-grated cheese has additives that are high in carbs. Do it second because it's almost always less expensive to do it yourself. Hate grating cheese? Buy a food processor! You can also save a lot of money by buying blocks of cheese on sale, grating it, and freezing it.

* Use leftovers. Either freeze them for a future meal or eat them the next day.

* Avoid eating out. Eating at restaurants or grabbing food on the go is expensive! Bring snacks and drinks with you, and eat out only as a special treat.

* Eat eggs. They are a cheap source of protein. (Even cheaper if you raise the hens yourself!)

* Eat enough fat. Natural fats are healthy and make you feel much more full. (Don't overdo it, though, or you may stall your weight loss or begin gaining weight.)

* Fast. Intermittent fasting has health benefits - and it saves your bank account some cash. Don't starve yourself, though. Just skip a meal; you'll probably find that easy to do after a couple of weeks of eating keto. (Diabetics should only fast if they are unmedicated and have their blood sugar under good control.)

* Avoid snacking. Not only do snacks burn your cash, but they slow weight loss, too. Eat enough at your regular meals that you feel comfortably full.

Courtesy of
* Avoid recipes that contain expensive ingredients. This may seem like a big duh, but a lot of low carb or keto recipes for sweets - something every newbie craves - are costly. Keto-friendly, natural sweeteners, for example, and alternative flours like almond and coconut, hike up your budget very quickly. Keep these treats occasional, and you'll save a ton of money while truly taming the sugar dragon.

* Start doing Swagbucks. This is a site that let's you earn points toward gift cards by doing Internet searches, surveys, and other things. Depending upon where you buy groceries, you can earn gift cards to your grocery store. I mostly shop at Walmart, and find I can easily get $25 - $50 off my monthly grocery bill by using Swagbucks

* Consider a Costco or Sam's Club membership - or find a friend who has a membership and go shopping with her! But be sure to compare their prices to those in your price book! Not everything at these stores is a good deal.

Aug 24, 2017

Myths about the Keto Diet

 This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

It's amazing how many people can stare at the positive effects of the whole-food ketogenic diet and still not open their minds to it. As many of you know, I began a keto lifestyle in December, on the recommendation of my doctor who'd just diagnosed me with type II diabetes. (Read about my journey and the incredible success I had in just three months right here.) Eight months later, I can say my health has become even better. My blood sugar is still normal; I've lost 42 lbs.; my cholesterol is normal; my blood pressure is normal; my hidradenitis supporativa is almost entirely gone; the C-section pain I suffered with  (eight years after my last C-section) is mostly gone; and I have more energy.

And yet...I keep bumping into people who tell me I'm on a dangerous, fad diet.

Is the Keto diet a fad?

Did you know that the ketogenic diet (though it was not called that at the time) was the first diet ever developed to truly combat diabetes? Yep, way back in the 1860s, Dr. William Banting popularized the idea that "starchy" foods made us fat. By the early 1900s, doctors realized that by cutting those same carbs from the diet, diabetics who otherwise were dying, could live for years. Take a peak at this old diabetic cookbook, and you'll see it's not much different from the keto recipes you see today.

In addition, many experts argue that the keto diet is the way most people used to eat. In The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, Doctors Jeff Volek and Stephen Finney explain how eating habits from thousands of years ago are largely misinterpreted by archeologists, primarily because looking at the remains of food waste "does not allow us to know which parts of the food were treasured, which discarded, and what parts were fed to dogs." Think about it: Meat has usually been abundant, whereas vegetables were seasonal, and fruit rarer still.

Coming closer to our time period in history, fruit was treated as a dessert, and meals consisted mostly of natural fats, meats, and vegetables. Many of our modern epidemic diseases (including heart disease and diabetes) were far more rare in those days.

A classic keto meal. Recipe here.
Is the Keto Diet Dangerous?

Interestingly, when people bring up how "dangerous" the ketogenic diet is, they tend to be vague. I'll ask, "How is this diet dangerous?" and typically they can't answer. Sometimes I meet a healthcare professional who touts this line, and the "dangerous" aspect of this lifestyle always boils down to two things:

1. They think keto is a high protein diet.
2. They confuse ketoacidosis with ketosis.

A high protein diet does, indeed, have the potential to cause kidney damage - that's the "dangerous" part people frequently mention. But keto is not a high protein diet. It's a moderate protein diet.

I'll also note that I'm in contact with people who've been eating keto for a decade or longer, and none of them have ever had kidney issues. In fact, they've never been so healthy in all their lives. So kidney damage due to eating too much protein is definitely not a concern with this lifestyle.

An awful lot of people who should know better (nurses, dieticians, etc.) also confuse ketoacidosis with ketosis. I've addressed this concern before, but let me just say briefly: Ketosis means your body is burning fat instead of carbohydrates. That's what you're after in a keto diet. It's called ketosis because the process puts ketone bodies (chemicals the body produces when breaking down fatty acids) into the blood stream. The amount of ketones in the blood stream is, however, very low.

Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a dangerous condition found almost exclusively in type I diabetics. It occurs when there are very high amounts of ketones in the blood stream, caused by a lack of insulin in the body. (Insulin metabolizes ketones.) This condition requires emergency treatment because it can seriously damage organs and cause death. Learn more about ketoacidosis here.

Low carb veggies are a major part of the keto diet. Recipe here.
Another item that comes up is something that was featured on a recent blog post over at The Paleo Mom.The first red flag in the post is the assertion that keto is a "starvation diet." Some people might think the author is saying you will feel hungry all the time if you chose to eat keto. Nothing could be further from the truth! Because of the fat content of the keto diet, it's more filling than a carbohydrate-rich diet. Better yet, those who stick to keto won't feel hungry all the time, as many people do in what's become a standard diet.

What I believe the author is actually saying is that keto starves the body of carbohydrates, which  (she fails to mention) are not a nutrient anyone requires.

Then the author goes on to list the serious reactions some people have while on a keto diet. Every single one of them apply to every diet that's ever existed, including the high carb, low fat diet that's currently so popular.

The post also claims keto hasn't been well studied, except among epileptic children. This simply isn't the case. Perhaps the author's confusion is that she's not looking at the studies of LCHF diets (another name for keto, which stands for "low carb, high fat, moderate protein") - the real studies, that is. As Volek and Phinney point out, rarely do studies that claim to look at LCHF really do the job. Usually, they considert high protein diets, or diets filled with processed (not natural) fats, or diets that aren't truly low carb.

Another thing I sometimes hear is that keto is bad for your gut and colon because it doesn't include enough vegetables. Again this shows a lack of understading about the diet, because keto is a whole foods diet that encourages vegetable consumption at every meal. In fact, a lot of people who switch to keto end up eating more veggies than they did previously.

A few other concerns are sometimes mentioned, like "Your body needs carbs!", "Fruit is good for you!", and "Fat causes heart disease!" Each of these assertions is false; you can read what I've already written about them here.

I suffer a lot eating delicious, wholesome food like this chowder. (Not!)  Recipe here.
It's Not Maintainable

This is the most laughable argument against the keto diet, and the one that most reveals how addicted to carbs many people are. In truth, thousands of people stick to a keto lifestyle without cheating...and do it for decades.

In fact, keto the easiest diet I've ever been on. Weight Watchers? Now there's a diet that's not maintainable. Even Atkins, which has some parallels with keto - is not maintainable for me and many others. But keto keeps me full and satisfied and the food is delicious. I have no desire to go back to the carb-laden diet the American diabetes Association and most medical professionals suggest.

My honest opinion? The standard American diet is what's not maintainable. At least, not if we want to be healthy.

To learn more about the specifics of the ketogenic diet, click here.

Jul 27, 2017

Sleep Deprivation is Not a Virtue

"It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep."

In 2009, when my youngest was a year old and I was still in a sleep-deprived daze, I blogged about the importance of sleep. Since that time, however, it seems more and more Christian books and blogs are turning sleep into the enemy. Don't give into "the flesh," many say. Instead, get up early and you'll be more holy, many imply. Only moms who rise before the rest of the household keep the house - and themselves - orderly. Somehow the idea of getting less sleep has been confused with being more godly.* Um...really?

While it's true the Bible speaks against laziness and sleeping late all the time, the idea that sleep deprivation is virtuous is not from the Bible - it's from the world. All around our nation, we see moms (and dads and children) who are sleep deprived. This has lead to a host of problems in the U.S., including obesity, depression, grumpiness, inability to respond well to life's difficulties, poor decision making, car crashes, and much more. This isn't a good way to care for the bodily temples God gave us. Even from a purely spiritual point of view, sleep deprivation has its consequences. When we haven't had enough rest, it's harder to behave in a loving, giving, Christ-like fashion. And getting even just an hour and a half less sleep each night reduces our alertness and ability to think clearly by 32%. How can we make right choices for the Lord when our thinking is so impaired? Even our joy can be sucked away when we're sleep deprived. This is not what God wants. Quite the opposite, in fact.

But, some moms say, how can I have time alone with the Lord if I don't rise early every morning? First, know this: The problem isn't necessarily rising early. The Proverbs 31 Woman gets "up while it is still dark," after all. The problem is rising early even though your body requires more sleep. The problem is making yourself sleep deprived because of the mistaken notion that doing so will make you more worthy. So if you can rise early, spend time with the Lord, and still get all the sleep you need, fantastic! But if rising early makes you feel dizzy, nauseated, wiped out, and/or impatient and grumpy, then you'll be a wiser woman if you sleep a little longer. There are lots of ways to spend time with the Lord, even when you're home with little children all day. (For a few ideas, go here; and think of Susanna Wesley - mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement - who, with 10 young children underfoot, maintained her prayer life by flipping her apron over her head to create a certain "calm" while she spoke with God.)

But, some moms say, how I can keep the house tidy, homeschool the kids, make myself look presentable, be active in the church, socialize with my friends, run the kids to their activities, do the shopping, have hobbies, and so on, if I don't get up early? There aren't enough hours in the day! You're right; there aren't enough hours to do all that. As Jesus told Martha, there are many good things to do, but a wise woman carefully chooses the most important activities.

We live in a society that worships busy-ness. Moms buzz around the house and to various activities, always busy, busy, busy. But this isn't the life the Bible recommends. Jesus, though he had an active ministry, found time to spend with his Father, to spend with his family and friends, and to rest.

Busy-ness has a way of putting a barrier between us and what's important. Moms (especially those with young children) have some tough choices to make. They can run around busily doing good things (perhaps fairly well, perhaps not), or they can focus on what's most important in their lives right now: God, husband, and children (in that order). It's no coincidence that in Titus Paul says, "...urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." (2: 4-5; emphasis mine)

Being a wife and mother is a full time job. And because of the society in which we live, it's easy for mothers to get distracted from this job. That distraction costs families a great deal. And it costs many moms sleep - one of the things they most require in order to fulfill their Godly purpose.

So while some moms may wear their sleep deprivation as a badge of honor - and some may even look down their noses at moms who don't rise before dawn - a wise woman smiles and knows that busy-ness and sleep deprivation aren't what makes a Proverbs 31 woman.

* This post assumes you are a reasonably mature person and aren't staying up all hours of the night working or playing. This post also assumes you don't have an infant in the house - because sleep deprivation is a natural part of caring for an infant; however, moms of babies should do everything possible to take naps. 

This post was originally published in 2012.

Jul 18, 2017

Catnip for Human Medicine

Catmint Herbal Medicine
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My interest in medicinal herbs began when I was in my 20s. That was also when I had my first unfortunate incident with catnip (also called "catmint"). I'd bought a tiny nursery seedling, thinking it would be fun to grow catnip and give my cat a little now and then...but my cat ate the entire seedling before I ever got it planted...and then proceeded to suffer from hallucinations which lead to years of flashbacks. So let's just say I'm not a fan of giving catnip to cats. (It is, most vets will admit if you press them, rather like giving heroine to a human.)

So when we moved to our new homestead and I found a large patch of catnip, I was ready to pull it out. Yet with our homestead, came the previous owners' cat, Loki. He's a great little guy - a wonderful mouser, and sweet to boot. He's not young, however...and he's very fond of catnip. The family joke is that Loki is the old hippie on our homestead; in the summer, when the catnip is growing, we always know where to find him: laying in the middle of the catnip. All. Day. Long.

Despite some misgivings, I finally decided the cat was set in his ways, happy, showing no ill effects from the catnip (other than growing a little thin in the summer because he's too busy in the catnip to eat as usual), and I hated to upset his world. So the catnip remains, though I keep it under pretty tight control.

That decision made, I also came to the conclusion that I may as well use the catnip for the humans who live here, too. Because, yes! Catnip has a long tradition of medicinal use in humans.
Catnip blooms can be lovely and attract plenty of garden pollinators. (Courtesy of

Catnip as Human Medicine

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is part of the mint family (hence the other common name for the plant: catmint). In humans, the herb is a mild relaxant, mostly used as a soothing tea to de-stress and prepare for sleep. Catnip contains nepetalactone, which is known to repel mosquitoes better than DEET and may repel flies and cockroaches, too. Herbalists say catnip is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, antispasmodic, anti-fungal, and a bactericide. It's traditionally used for treating colic, nausea, digestive distress, fevers, arthritis, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, hemorrhoids, to put menstrual cramps at bay, as a treatment for minor cuts and abrasions, and to help relieve the symptoms of the cold or flu.

How to Grow and Harvest Catnip

Like many perennial herbs, catnip is incredibly easy to grow. In fact, usually the only problem with growing it is keeping it from spreading everywhere. Therefore, I suggest either growing catnip in a container, or keeping it in a small bed surrounded by concrete.

Catnip wants full sun, and I find it doesn't mind being a bit dry (though that's contrary to most growing guides I've read, which claim catnip needs evenly moist soil). Like all herbs, catnip loves a good trim, so don't be afraid to harvest it regularly. To harvest, simply snip off a stem, just above a double set of leaves.

Catnip is in the mint family. (Courtesy of

How to Preserve Catnip

There are some uses for fresh catnip leaves, but catnip is primarily used dried. Pick leaves off stems and place them on the trays of a dehydrator. Dry at 95 degrees F. until crisp. Alternatively, hang stems of catnip upside down in a dark location until the leaves are completely dry.

Place dry, cool leaves in an air tight container stored in a dark, cool location.

Using Catnip for Humans

Tea: This is the most common way to consume catnip and is perfect as a relaxer, sleep aid, digestive aid, menstrual cramp reducer, and headache reliever. Strong teas may also relieve anxiety attacks. Simply fill a tea ball with dried catnip leaves, crushing them as you go; place the ball in a cup, cover with boiling water, then cover the cup with a saucer. When the tea stops steaming, you may remove the saucer. (Herbalists say covering steeping tea helps retain the herbs' medicinal qualities.) For a stronger tea, use fresh, coarsely chopped leaves. It's fine to add honey or lemon juice to flavor the tea.

Poultice: When catnip is actively growing, crush fresh leaves and place directly onto minor cuts and abrasions to help prevent infection and promote healing. Fresh leaves may also be chewed to help relieve a toothache, and a simple poultice of crushed catnip leaves and warm water or oil may be applied to arthritic parts of the body.

For colic: Brew catnip tea and have the child consume it. Most children do not like the flavor of catnip, so adding sweetener helps. (Do not use honey as a sweetener for children under the age of 12 months.) You may also add the tea to a bottle of milk or formula or other drink - just 2 or 3 tablespoons will do the trick.
Catnip is also called catmint. (Courtesy of

Baths: Adding catnip to warm bath water may help relieve sore muscles, achey bodies with the flu, and relax the body and mind. If desired, place a handful of fresh or dried catnip in a square piece of cotton, pull up the corners, tie off, and hang the resulting bag so the warm water runs through it as you fill the tub. Alternatively, make a strong catnip tea and add it to the bath water.

WARNINGS: According to WebMD, catnip should not be taken regularly or excessively. Do not consume catnip if you are pregnant. If you are nursing, talk to your doctor before taking catnip. Those with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) should not consume catnip, nor should women who have excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). Catnip should not be used in conjunction with medications that slow down the central nervous system, like sedatives. Talk to you doctor if you take lithium and you want to consume catnip. As with any plant, allergic reactions are possible, if unusual.

I am not a doctor, nor should anything on this website ( be considered medical advice. The FDA requires me to say that products mentioned, linked to, or displayed on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this web site is designed for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified medical advice or care. There are no assurances of the information being fit or suited to your medical needs, and to the maximum extent allow by law disclaim any and all warranties and liabilities related to your use of any of the information obtained from the website. Your use of this website does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. No information on this website should be considered complete, nor should it be used as a substitute for a visit to, consultation with, or the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider.  

* Title images courtesy of Megan Hansen and mwms1916.