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Green Laundry List
February 2012

Use Cold Water and Eco-Wise Detergents

laundryMom may have said that hot water washes best, but don’t give cold-water detergents the cold shoulder—today’s new products deliver clean laundry that’s easy on the pocketbook and the planet.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an average American family annually washes nearly 400 loads of laundry. Because heating the water accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine, using only hot or warm water in a top-loading electric washer annually produces an average 2,407 pounds of CO2 pollution—equivalent to two cross-country flights.

Many conventional cold-water detergents still contain toxic chemicals that when drained, end up in waterways, creating a host of environmental woes and exposing wildlife to endocrine disruptors. For both clean and green clothes, buy biodegradable laundry detergents made with plant oils and other natural ingredients that are free of phosphates, bleach and surfactants such as petroleum-based nonylphenol ethoxylates, or NPE. Kinder to the planet, greener choices are also gentler on the skin.

Consumers concerned about killing bacteria, dust mites and other allergens may be tempted to turn on the hot water tap for sheets, linens and underwear, but Philip Tierno, Jr., Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and pathology at the New York University School of Medicine, says that most of the hot water people use is not hot enough anyway. “You need water that’s between 140 and 150 degrees to kill germs,” he advises. Tierno, author of The Secret Life of Germs, notes that the sun is one of nature’s most efficient germ killers, so letting clothes dry outdoors is a good eco-option. “The ultraviolet radiation kills germs,” he advises, “and it’s just as effective as bleach.”

Natural disinfectants that can be added during rinsing include white vinegar (one-half cup per load); grapefruit seed extract (one teaspoon); tea tree oil (two teaspoons); and lavender or peppermint essential oil (a few drops), which also imparts a fresh fragrance.


Find more tips on the Sierra Club’s website at Tinyurl.com/3kh2dpf, plus eco-wise products including pre-wash treatments, non-chlorine bleach and laundry liquids at Natural Awakenings’ online store, NAWebstore.com.

 
Seaweed Loves the Heart
February 2012

A Rich Source of Heart-Healthy Goodness

seaweedSome relish seaweed, while others eye it with culinary suspicion. Now an article in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that many scientists have identified seaweed as a rich, potential source of heart-healthy food ingredients. A review of nearly 100 studies shows that seaweed and other microalgae could rival milk products as sources of important bioactive peptides.

Maria Hayes, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, in Dublin, Ireland, concluded that certain seaweed proteins work just like the bioactive peptides in milk products to reduce blood pressure, almost like angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drugs. Thus, they could be used as ingredients in functional foods like soups and health beverages to provide nutrition, while offering medicinal effects in treating or preventing heart disease.

Seaweeds are a neglected alternative source of these bioactive peptides in this country, the researchers state, noting its popularity in other cultures. Varieties of seaweed are known as
nori in Japan, dulse in coastal parts of Europe and limu palahalaha in native Hawaiian cuisine.

In addition, notes Hayes, “Seaweeds are a known source of essential fatty acids, which are thought to reduce thrombosis and atherosclerosis—factors important in the reduction of the risk of heart disease.”

 
Does Yawning Cool the Brain?
February 2012

It Doesn't Just Mean You're Bored

yawnWhen we feel the urge to yawn in cooler weather, we should succumb—it might do us good. New research suggests that beyond signaling fatigue or boredom, yawning might be a physical reaction to cool an “overheated” brain.

A study at Princeton University is the first to show that the frequency of yawning varies with the season and that people are less likely to yawn when the heat outdoors exceeds body temperature. The research monitored 160 people, 80 per season, during winter and summer in Tucson, Arizona. According to the researchers’ theory, it is possible that yawning in cooler temperatures works to cool the brain, while yawning in warmer conditions appears to provide no similar relief.

Research associate Andrew Gallup remarks, “The applications of this research are intriguing… for better understanding diseases and conditions such as multiple sclerosis or epilepsy, which are accompanied by frequent yawning and thermoregulatory dysfunction.” Excessive yawning may prove a helpful diagnostic tool.

 
How to Be a Good Patient
January 2012
TERRI EVANS

good_patientBeing a good patient is essential to any successful treatment, especially holistic treatment. Often, people seeking alternative care arrive at a practitioner’s or therapist’s office fed up with conventional treatment and confused by the lack of permanent healing, yet newly expectant of receiving quick answers and recovery. It helps if the individual understands how the two approaches differ and can even complement one another.

With conventional medical care, doctors focus on identifying the disease that is creating the symptoms affecting the patient. The goal is to halt the progression of the disease and/or sustain life.

Alternative practitioners’ goal is a patient’s overall wellness and improved quality of life. They focus on uncovering and alleviating any imbalances that are robbing the individual of their quality of life. A holistic practitioner and patient are a team with a mutual mission. This means they can expect to spend time together completing and evaluating detailed medical histories and lifestyle information sheets, consulting and sharing observations, collaborating in carrying out treatment and cooperating in initial and follow-up examinations. The personal patient/client relationship is generally more intensive than experienced with conventional services.

 
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