Blog Archives

Massage Time…

Well, I don’t hate this…

Regimens: Massage Benefits Are More Than Skin Deep

I’ve been meaning to get on a massage regimen anyway…think this will keep me from getting so many colds? Think insurance would cover it? 🙂


Still can’t figure out the corn syrup thing…

Okay, first there was the report that high fructose corn syrup causes obesity in a way cane sugar does not. Which I mentioned here.

Then there was the retraction. Which I also wrote about.

Now the Corn Refiners Association is trying to get the name officially changed from HFCS to “Corn Sugar.”

And then I find this article from Princeton University, a fairly reputable institution unless I’ve missed something, with another link.

I can’t figure it out. Anyone know anything more concrete about this?

I’ve started a controversy!

Today my guest post over at The Green Phone Booth was about homeopathy and herbalism, specifically my own very meager experiences with it, and a desire to find out if other Booth readers had had any experiences with homeopathy…

And now there’s this debate going on over there, because a couple of people showed up and proclaimed with utter authority that homeopathy is a load of garbage. (Why are so many people so eager to assume that the data they have and the opinions they’ve formed from it are the be-all end-all, and there’s nothing they may be lacking? I don’t get it.)  While I value all opinions, the more sweeping and generalized the opinion, the more footnotes I expect to be given that back it up if I am to take it seriously.

I expect most of my readers here also frequent the Booth, but I’d love to hear if anyone else has any substantive experiences with homeopathy, anecdotal or otherwise.  My most valued comments would be from a converted skeptic, or I guess by extension from a former devotee who’s learned stuff that’s changed their minds…

Feel the Burn! (Fire Cider and Thieves’ Vinegar recipes)

Apple cider vinegar is one of those universally magical substances that’s supposed to cure practically anything, depending on what and where you read.  I personally have never had much affinity for it–I use the white stuff for cleaning, and the balsamic stuff for food, but cider vinegar has never been one of my staples. 

So it was intriguing when, in this season of Awful Flu-ness, I again came across the Legend of the Four Thieves.  It goes something like this: during the Black Plague, these four brothers made their living going into the houses of dead plague victims and relieving them of the belongings they now, being dead, would no longer need. And somehow they never got the plague themselves.  When they were finally captured, the authorities gave them their freedom in exchange for the secret to how they had managed to stay alive all that time.

The secret, apparently, was this herbal vinegar–lots of well-known antibacterial and antiviral herbs steeped in cider vinegar (or in their case, probably whatever fruit vinegar they had access to), drained, and a teaspoon or so taken every few hours.  There are lots of recipes floating around the internet, but the basic bare bones seem to be something like this:

Thieves Vinegar

Fill a quart jar lightly with  more or less equal parts of the following freh or dried herbs: lavendar, sage, rosemary, and thyme.  Some recipes add garlic, others say lemon balm or mint, but the ones purporting to be “original” only have those first basic four. (I’m assuming one would chop the herbs.) Pour cider vinegar over it all and let it steep in a fairly cool out-of-the-sun place for about six weeks, shaking every day or so.  Strain out the solids, retain the liquid, and take by the teaspoonful, or put over salad, or what-have-you.

So that’s Thieves Vinegar.  I haven’t tried making that one yet–maybe a mistake in this particular year, as my own flu is backing off and my husband and daughter are starting to sniffle…

On the other hand, the one I have made a few times and thoroughly enjoyed is FIRE CIDER!

This is another really old brew using apple cider vinegar, but to me it seems to have a little more oomph.  Like Thieves Vinegar, it’s something to take a spoonful or so of several times a day during cold and flu seasons, just to build up the immunity a little more.  And I may be crazy, but I find it absolutely delicious.

FIRE CIDER RECIPESupposed to cure practically everything. (Including, perhaps, the annoying flame of life, but whatever…)

  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh horseradish (I’ve used the stuff from a jar when I couldn’t find the fresh stuff) 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 ginger root, chopped
  • 1 head garlic  peeled & chopped
  • cayenne pepper (not sure how much of this to use!–maybe half a teaspoonful or so? Depends on your tolerance.)
  • 1 cup honey, to taste

Place herbs in a glass jar. Pour in enough vinegar to cover herbs by 1 to 2 inches. Seal jar tightly and let sit for 4-6 weeks.

Strain out and discard herbs and sweeten the infused cider vinegar with honey to taste. (you might need to warm the mixture gently in a saucepan to dissolve the honey…or not, it’ll eventually dissolve in the jar.)

I made this last winter and took a little slug in some apple or other juice often, as well as using it on salads and such, a few times a day.  It’s very strongly flavored, but it’s also in its own way sort of fabulous.

Flu, flu, what to do??

Image credit: Jason Reed/Reuters/Corbis, from

Image credit: Jason Reed/Reuters/Corbis, from

Okay, a show of hands: How many of you have not had at least one conversation about the flu, flu shots, illness, hand-washing, or something related in the past week?

That’s what I thought. (You over there, you can put your hand down.)

In mommydom, it seems to come up with not-so-startling regularity.  Catholic churches are taking the common cup away from the people, churches of all stripes are stopping handholding at whatever part of the service it might have happened, kids are being kept out of school, anti-bacterial hand goo is being used like it’s out of style (too bad it doesn’t really work anyway…)…I even had a conversation with my church choir advocating Common Sense Stuff–like, if you’re feeling like you’re coming down with something, please don’t suck it up and come to practice anyway.  If you live with someone who’s sick, even if you’re fine so far, please consider a smile and a nod at the sign of peace rather than shaking hands.  Wash hands often. Drink water and get enough sleep to keep your immunity up. All that usual stuff.

And then there’s the vaccine.  I must have been asked a dozen times in the past week, “Are you getting The Vaccine?” (You can hear the capital letters.) And its follow up question,  “Do you usually get a flu shot?”

(No and no, by the way.)

The other day I found this article from The Atlantic–it has that certain air of non-hyped straightforwardness that I find so refreshing in the media on those rare occasions I encounter it. On the other hand…it presents some startling statistics about flu vaccines in general and the public’s reliance on them.

It’s fairly long, but worth reading all three pages of. Obviously, as I always say, pay attention, do your own research, and make your own choice–that’s all any of us can do.

And eat well. Stay hydrated.  Wash your hands a lot. Get enough sleep. Do what you can.


Does the Vaccine Matter?

Drive too fast along Red Lion Road, beside Philadelphia’s Northeast Airport, and you will miss the low-rise cement building where the biotech company MedImmune has been quietly pumping out swine flu vaccine at about a million doses a week. …

Vaccination is central to the government’s plan for preventing deaths from swine flu…But what if everything we think we know about fighting influenza is wrong? What if flu vaccines do not protect people from dying—particularly the elderly, who account for 90 percent of deaths from seasonal flu? And what if the expensive antiviral drugs that the government has stockpiled over the past few years also have little, if any, power to reduce the number of people who die or are hospitalized?… (click here for full article)