Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, ROHP

International Best-selling & 16-Time Book Author, Board-Certified Doctor of Natural Medicine & Nutritionist

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The Allergy Remedy in Your Yard

Nettles is a traditional allergy remedy.First Nations and Native American people used the herb stinging nettles for thousands of years to treat many health conditions, including allergies.  Now, science has proven what these wise people knew from experience:  nettles are an effective allergy treatment.  In a 2009 study published in "Phytotherapy Research," Drs. Roschek, Fink, McMichael and Alberte at HerbalScience Group LLC, found that nettles worked on multiple levels to reduce inflammation linked to allergies.

In another recent double-blind study, the leaves of the stinging nettle were investigated for their ability to assist with sinus problems due to allergies. Participants taking nettles had noticeably higher rates of symptom improvement from allergic rhinitis than those taking the placebo.

Don’t be alarmed by the name.  This plant’s survival mechanism is found in fine hairs on its leaves, which are relatively harmless unless you try to pick the plant without wearing gloves.  Most gardeners can attest to the aptness of the plant’s name.

Unlike pharmaceuticals which cause heart problems or drowsiness, nettles does neither.  Nettles are actually a nutritional powerhouse.  If you eat the fresh ones, be sure to wear thick gloves.  And, they are best cooked or made into an alcohol extract—called a tincture—to nullify their stinging effects.  They can be added to soups and stews.  However, they are also conveniently available in the dried form for making tea, liquid tinctures to take as drops, or in capsule form.

Of course, if you're absolutely sure you've identified nettles correctly, you can quickly and easily make your own allergy remedy.  (If you're not sure, Mountain Rose Herbs sells dried nettle leaf you can use or nettle seeds if you want to grow your own nettle in your yard.  They also sell the extracts pre-made).  Simply add a couple of handfuls of nettle leaves (washed, of course) to a half cup of water and a half cup of vodka.  Blend in a blender and strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, allowing the liquid to fall into a pitcher below to collect the liquid.  Squeeze any remaining liquid out of the cheesecloth.  Pour the liquid into a bottle with a cap.  The typical dose is one teaspoon three times daily for a couple weeks prior to and throughout allergy season.

Adapted from Allergy-Proof:  Over 60 Drug-Free, All-Natural Ways to Beat Allergies by Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, ROHP.

 Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox and 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites HealthySurvivalist.com and DrMichelleCook.com, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.


Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com

Horsetail for Stronger Bones, Hair, Nails, and Teeth

Horsetail is a good source  of the mineral silica.  No, this plant has nothing to do with actual horses, it is simply the name of an herb that grows in sandy soil in damp areas.  It does  the same for the plants near where it grows as it does for humans who use horsetail:  it provides important nutrients, especially silica. 

One mineral is essential to bone-building, immune system strengthening, the proper use of calcium in the body, and building strong nails, hair, and teeth, yet most people never give it a second thought.  It is silica.  Silica supports the body’s production of an enzyme called prolyhydroxylase that is involved in the formation of collagen in bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.

Here are some of the most common signs of a silica deficiency:

Excessive wrinkling of the skin



Muscle cramps

Poor bone development

Soft or brittle nails

Thinning or loss of hair

Of course, these symptoms can be a sign of another health issue so it is important to see your doctor.  But it’s also important to be sure that you are eating enough foods rich in silica.  It usually takes about two months after using horsetail or eating a diet rich in silica to notice a difference.

Silica is water-soluble, which means that you can make a tea from the dried or fresh herb  and the silica will be extracted from the plant to the tea and then into your body where it will support healthy nails, teeth, bones, and hair.

Horsetail is also good for allergies, bladder issues, weak joints, and weak connective tissue.  For cystitis, blend with any of the following herbs:  couchgrass, yarrow, or bilberry. 

To make the tea:  use one rounded teaspoon of dried horsetail per cup of boiling water and allow to brew in a teapot or cup for 10 minutes.   A common dose is three cups daily; however, it is important to consult a physician if you have any health condition or are taking any medication. 

Horsetail has a long  spindly stalk with many small, whose leaves look more like long pine needles than leaves.  It doesn't flower and usually grows up to a foot tall along roadsides, gardens, and in waste ground areas. 

Silica is also found in almonds, apples, beets, celery, flaxseeds (ground), whole grains, grapes, kelp, oats, onions, parsnips, strawberries, and sunflower seeds, silica is still deficient in many people’s diets.

Ginger Better than Drugs for Pain

A new study published in the journal Arthritis compared ginger extract to the common drugs betamethasone (cortisone) and ibuprofen for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

While ibuprofen isGinger is an effective pain remedy a popular pain remedy (such as Advil or Motrin), in this study it showed no effect on cytokine production.  Cytokines are immune-regulating substances that can have inflammatory effects on the body, and are therefore linked to pain.  In this study, both betamethasone and ginger extract reduced cytokines in comparable amounts.   The authors of the study indicate that:  “ginger extract was as effective an anti-inflammatory agent as betamethasone in this in vitro model.” 

While betamethasone has been used for decades to relieve pain, it is also linked with many serious side-effects, including:  vision problems, weight gain, swelling, shortness of breath, depression, seizures, pancreatitis, heart arrhythmias, muscle weakness, high blood pressure, severe headaches, anxiety, chest pains, sleep problems, acne, slow wound healing, and more.  Ginger, however, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is safe for use. 

Other research by Dr. Krishna C. Srivastava, a world-renowned researcher on the therapeutic effects of spices, at Odense University in Denmark, found that ginger is an effective and superior anti-pain remedy. In one study, Dr. Srivastava gave arthritic patients small amounts of ginger daily for three months.  The majority of people had significant improvements in pain, swelling, and morning stiffness by eating ginger daily.  For more information, consult Arthritis-Proof.

Dr. Srivastava also found that ginger was superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Tylenol or Advil because NSAIDs only work on one level:  to block the formation of inflammatory compounds.  Ginger, on the other hand, blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds–prostaglandins and leukotrienes–and also has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid within the joints

Further research in the Journal of Pain also report that ginger is an effective natural anti-inflammatory that helps reduce pain and inflammation.  Both raw ginger and heated ginger were used in the study with similar effectiveness.  The scientists specifically explored ginger’s effects on muscle pain.

Ginger has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine in India as a natural anti-inflammatory food. 

How to Reap the Anti-Pain Benefits of Ginger (adapted from Arthritis-Proof):

-Add chopped, fresh ginger to soups, stews, stir-fries, and other recipes.  Ginger is delicious in many savory and sweet dishes alike.

-Add fresh ginger to a juicer while making juices.  It combines well with many other vegetables and fruits, such as carrots or apple.

-Ginger capsules (Zingiber officinale) are available for supplementation.  Follow package directions.

-Chopped, fresh ginger can be added to water and boiled in a pot for 45 minutes to an hour then drunk as a tea or cooled for an iced tea.  Add a few drops of stevia to sweeten (stevia is a naturally-sweet herb).

-Ginger is available in alcohol tincture form.  A typical dose is 30 drops three times daily.  Avoid the alcohol extract if you are an alcoholic, suffering from liver disease, or diabetic.

Medicine never tasted so good. 

Recommended reading:  Arthritis-Proof.

Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook