Wednesday, January 16, 2013

COLD REMEDIES - What Works - What Doesn't

natural remedies
How do you cure the common cold?

The season is changing – no not the weather season – the season where we see the common cold all around us! What do you do if you feel the symptoms hitting you? Do you have a favorite remedy that your grandmother passed on to you or do you rush to the nearest drug store to scour the isles for the best Over-The-Counter fix? Well, before you rush out, here are some tips for what works, what doesn't and what won't hurt.

What Works?

First of all, there is no cure for the common cold. According to the Mayo Clinic cold remedies are as common as the common cold itself! If you catch a cold, you can expect to feel the effects of it for a couple of weeks. There are things you can do, though, to ease your misery during that time.
  • Increase your fluid intake – Be sure to drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water. This will help loosen the congestion in your chest and keep your body hydrated. Be sure to limit your intake of alcohol, coffee, or other caffeinated drinks as these drinks can cause dehydration.
  • Use a Salt Water Gargle – This will ease the sore throat that may come with your cold. You will only need about ¼ to ½ tsp salt with an 8 oz glass of warm water a couple times a day to ease your sore and scratchy throat.
  • Nasal Drops and Sprays – There are a number of nasal sprays and drops available over the counter. They will ease the stuffiness and will help you breathe a little easier. Be sure you follow the directions carefully to avoid any irritation to your nasal passages. Also do not administer to children unless approved for childrens' use and seek your doctor’s advice when it comes to treating children. Some people like to use a Neti Pot which can be purchased from your nearest health food store or drug store. This is used to clear the nasal passages with a salt water cleanse of your nostrils.
  • Antihistamines - These can relieve symptoms such as runny nose, cough, sneezing and watery eyes. However, there may be side effects, such as drowsiness and dizziness, and they are not recommended while driving. They can also interact with other medications you may be taking. Be sure to check with your doctor prior to using antihistamines.
  • Increase your Humidity – The dry air during winter is a haven for the cold virus, as it grows in dry air. Using a humidifier can put moisture back into the air and help to keep your nasal passages and throat hydrated. However, be sure to clean the humidifier and change the water regularly, as moisture can also cause mold growth.
  • Get Plenty of Rest – Grab a soft blanket and curl up on the couch. Take a nap or two. Your body needs plenty of rest to fight off the germs, so don’t feel guilty by staying in bed if you need more rest. Save your energy to help your immune system fight the cold.

What Doesn't Work?

There are plenty of old-time remedies passed on from generations that simply don’t work. The jury is still out in many of them. Some of the more common treatments that just don’t help but are still tried are as follows:

Antibiotics – These work against bacteria, not viruses. Antibiotics will not help to alleviate cold symptoms. Try to keep from taking antibiotics unnecessarily, as this contributes to antibiotic resistance, a growing problem in the U.S. Read our FamilyWize article, Time to Get Smart About Antibiotics, for more information.

Good old fashioned chicken soup is still a tried and
true remedy.
OTC cold and cough medications in young children - OTC cold and cough medications may cause serious and even life-threatening side effects in children. Acetominophen, also sold as Tylenol, found in many cold relief medications, can cause serious liver damage if not taken as directed. 

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association warns not to use certain OTC medications in children four years old and younger. Many companies have stopped manufacturing these products for young children.

Zinc - Zinc is an important mineral and necessary for the human body. However, it's value as a treatment or preventive for the common cold is mixed. Zinc can be found in some nasal sprays and has been found to affect the sense of smell. The FDA warns not to use zinc nasal sprays for this reason. Long term use of zinc, six weeks or more, can cause copper deficiency. Other side effects of shorter term use, less than five days, can cause upset stomach, irritation of and metallic taste in mouth. 

What probably doesn't hurt

Vitamin C - It appears that for the most part taking Vitamin C won't help the average person prevent colds. However, taking Vitamin C before the onset of cold symptoms may shorten the duration of symptoms. Vitamin C may provide benefit for people at high risk of colds due to frequent exposure — for example, children who attend group child care during the winter.

And please don't forget the old fashion Chicken Soup cure! Chicken soup has been noted to help open the nasal passages and ease some of the symptoms to help you feel better. This really does work!

There are also homeopathic natural remedies that are worth a try. One that has been recommended to me is Umcka. You can find Umcka in natural food stores and many chain stores. It is plant based and originated with South African folk medicine. It has pretty good reviews with few indicating any side effects. Most reviews were very positive regarding the intensity of the cold symptoms and a much shorter duration. It would certainly be another option to try if you find yourself fighting off that dreaded cold! Before using any over the counter medications, you should first check with your doctor to make sure it will not interact with any medications you already take and read the label for any warnings, such as not taking while pregnant, breast feeding, or if you suffer from heart or lung disease.

In the meantime, the best measure would be to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and keep the air around you moist if possible. And finally, wash your hands often, especially when around others who are suffering from the common cold.

Cindy Foley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Money Saving Tips We All Know, But Forget to Use

save money
Improving your money skills can help you save money.
Saving money can be really easy, but most of us either don't think about it until it's too late or we are so overwhelmed by our expenses that we feel that saving is impossible. These days we are on the go non-stop, so we go for convenience rather than being practical. Convenience food is the #1 culprit when it comes to wasting money. From buying Starbucks to going grocery shopping when we are hungry, every penny adds up to spending way too much for things we don't really need.

You can save a lot throughout the year if you can find ways to be frugal.  The Dumb Little Man website gives thirty tips to save money. Below are some of my favorites and things I have learned over the years that keep me from over spending.

  1. Buy things in Bulk - Buying dry goods and home products in bulk will save you big bucks.  I save a lot on cleaning supplies and hair products, as well as toothpaste, vitamins, snacks, etc. It may cost you a bit to start out buying in bulk, but in the long run you will save a pretty penny.
  2. Brown Bag it - Sack lunches are the way to go to save money everyday. Everyone has been sucked into going out to eat for lunch as a daily routine. Who wants to eat a plain old sandwich when you can go to the Deli down the street, right? But you can make a fun lunch by adding variety to your sack lunches. Make extras for dinner and pack it for your lunch. Lasagna, enchiladas, and chicken casserole are always better the second day. Mix in an easy chicken Cesar salad twice a week by cooking one chicken breast the night before that can be used for two salads. All you need is Romaine lettuce and a little salad dressing and you have a great salad for two days.
  3. Bring a List for Grocery Shopping - Never head to the grocery store without a list. Always know exactly what you need. If you go without a list you'll be more tempted by those impulse items, or the "just in case I don't have it" factor. I don't know how many times I have put things in my cart that I didn't need, just so I didn't risk having to go back to the store.
  4. Buy Generic Products - I have finally learned over the past 20 years that most generic products are just the same as the name brand. The only difference is the price. The only time I will buy name brand products is if I have a coupon or my club card is giving a discount.
  5. Make Your Own Coffee - I know I am getting a lot of sighs right now from all you Starbucks drinkers. Believe me, I love a good cup of coffee. I am not saying you have to go without, what I am saying is buy in moderation to save a little. A Starbucks coffee is almost the price of a meal these days. If you are buying a Starbucks 5 times per week, cut it down to 2 days per week. This will save you $15 a week, $60 per month, and $720 a year. Now that is a lot of savings!!!
  6. Use Discount Cards - Almost all of the grocery stores carry a club card to help you save more money when you shop. Kmart, CVS, and other chain shopping stores are jumping on the band wagon to help you save money. Some have special coupons and others save you money on future purchases, like giving you money off on gas purchases. It doesn't cost anything to have one so when you are asked to sign up, take the extra couple of minutes and do it. You will save $100's a year by using it. And remember to download the free FamilyWize discount prescription card to save money on your prescriptions. You can save up to 75% on the cost of your medications.

money lessons
Don't over spend, save a little for your piggy bank.
Another way to help you start living frugal is to find out if the store charges a fee for using a debit card. Some stores charge an extra fee for debit card purchases but not for credit card purchases. The ATM bank fees can run you .35 to .55 per swipe at some stores. Ask before saying credit or debit.

If you love to read, shop at used book stores. You can find plenty of used books for half the price. Even better, borrow from your local library. It doesn't cost anything to get a library card and you can check out books at no cost.

My last tip for saving in the New Year is NEVER impulse shopImpulse buying can get you into a lot of trouble, especially with big purchases. Always look around for good deals or wait for it to go on sale. For instance when you are looking for a TV you could end up saving hundreds of dollars for just being patient. Electronics, furniture, and appliances are constantly going on sale so wait and be patient when you are in the process of purchasing a big item. Nothing is worse than buying something and then seeing it on sale a couple of weeks later. Improving your money skills can definitely help you save money

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer

Monday, January 14, 2013

National Birth Defect Prevention Month

One in every thirty-three babies born in the United States is affected by a birth defect. According to the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), this staggering statistic is the leading cause of infant mortality in the country. As alarming as this information may be, the NBDPN dedicates the entire month of January to building awareness for the prevention of birth defects.  

folic acid
Protect your baby before and after birth by being
aware of the risk of developing birth defects.
This January’s National Birth Defect Prevention Month theme is: “Birth defects are common, costly, and critical.” The NBDPN is focusing on medication use and pregnancy, two elements that factor greatly into the risk of developing birth defects. Two-thirds of women take one or more medications during pregnancy. Proper healthcare before and during pregnancy is essential to preventing birth defects and other pregnancy complications.
There are various types of birth defects and numerous categories that they fall under. The major categories include: the 
  • Central nervous system 
  • Eyes 
  • Cardiovascular 
  • Orofacial 
  • Gastrointestinal 
  • Musculoskeletal 
  • Chromosomal anomalies 
The four most common birth defects in the US are congenital heart defects, cleft lip and/or palate, Down syndrome, and Spina bifida. Congenital heart defects affect one in 100 babies, and are an abnormality in any part of the heart that is present at birth. 

Cleft lip and/palate is a birth defect in which the baby's upper lip and/or palate does not form completely and has an opening in it, afflicting one in 700 babies. Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that includes a combination of birth defects. Those affected have some degree of intellectual disability, characteristic facial features and, often, heart defects, as well as other health problems. The severity of these problems varies greatly among the one in 800 affected each year. And lastly, Spina bifida is a birth defect that affects the lower back and, sometimes, the spinal cord of one baby in every 2,500 born.There are three types of Spina bifida, which from the least to most severe form include Occulta, Meningocele, Myelomeningocele.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is currently too difficult to pinpoint what causes each specific birth defect. However, there are many risk factors that can be controlled and therefore, can lower your chances of having a child with a birth defect. They list  risk factors associated with birth defects as smoking before and during a pregnancy, obesity, poor control of diabetes and taking certain medication during pregnancy

In addition, the CDC recommends these 10 steps to help reduce the risk of birth defects: 

1. Take 400 micro-grams of Folic Acid every day

Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman consumes enough folic acid at least one month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. Talk to your doctor before taking folic acid or any over the counter vitamins or medications.
2.     Don't drink alcohol at any time during pregnancy
When a woman drinks alcohol, unfortunately so does her unborn baby. Alcohol in the woman’s blood passes through the placenta to her baby through the umbilical cord. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born with a fetal alcohol syndrome.
3.     Don’t smoke
Smoking before or during pregnancy can
cause birth defects.
Smoking during pregnancy exposes babies to harmful chemicals that inevitably cause birth defects. Even being around cigarette smoke puts a woman and her unborn baby at risk for complications. Quitting smoking before getting pregnant is best.
4. Do not use “street” drugs
       A woman who uses illegal—or “street”—drugs during pregnancy can have a baby who is born with birth defects. It also is important that a woman not use "street" drugs after she gives birth, because such drugs can be passed through breast milk to her baby and can affect the baby’s growth and development.
5. Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications
     Taking certain medications during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, but the safety of many medications taken by pregnant women has been difficult to determine. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should not stop taking medications you need or begin taking new medications without first talking with your doctor. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal products. 

6. Prevent infections
         Some infections that a woman can get during pregnancy can be harmful to the unborn baby. Learn how to help prevent infections. 

7. Talk to your doctor about vaccinations
          Many vaccinations are safe and recommended during pregnancy, but some are not. Having the right vaccinations at the right time can help keep a woman and her baby healthy. 

8. Keep diabetes under control
          Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances for birth defects and other problems for the baby. It can also cause serious complications for the woman. Proper healthcare before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects and other poor outcomes. 

9. Reach and maintain a healthy weight
          A woman who is obese before pregnancy is at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy. Obesity in the woman also increases the risk of several serious birth defects for the baby. If you are overweight or obese, talk with your doctor about ways to reach a healthy weight before you get pregnant. 

10. See a health care professional regularly

A woman should be sure to see her doctor when planning a pregnancy and start prenatal care as soon as she thinks that she is pregnant. It is important to see the doctor regularly throughout pregnancy, so a woman should keep all her prenatal care appointments. 

As American icon G.I. Joe would say, “…knowing is half the battle,” and although January may raise your knowledge of the prevention of birth defects, information can only get you so far. It still may be difficult to obtain the prenatal vitamins and medications you need to sustain a healthy pregnancy

However, FamilyWize is here to help. Partnered with over 61,000 participating pharmacies across the United States, the free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card provides you with discounts and savings on your prenatal vitamins and medications. Based on your doctor’s recommendations and the prescriptions you are given, visit the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool to see the discounts FamilyWize may offer.

Derek Slichter
Contributing Writer

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hero Pets

From rescue dogs to furry companions who curl up beside us when we feel all alone, pets have a way of being there when it seems that the rest of the world has walked out. Pets are often used as therapy for people in need, such as the elderly or terminally ill patients. Their unconditional love and acceptance provide comfort and companionship to many of us.

Healing Pets

A speech therapist in California takes her pet, a pot-bellied pig named Buttercup, right into the classroom where she helps special-needs students to come out of their shells. Many children, and adults, feel an instant bond of trust with animals, which can draw them out when they might not be trusting enough to talk to other kids or adults. Buttercup helped one little boy to start talking to other students in his class for the first time.

Many rehabilitation centers and nursing homes keep pets on site for their patients. This is especially helpful when people are undergoing painful treatment or therapy. A little girl who suffers from an autoimmune deficiency and receives painful treatments is able to talk to the dog, Vi, who lives on site. She can tell the dog things that she isn't able to tell anyone else. Her parents also have a dog at home for her and she is able to share her stories with him.

Pets for the Elderly

It might seem crazy to think that talking to a pet who cannot understand us or respond in our language could help us, but sometimes it's just the sense that someone is listening that helps the most. Sometimes we all need someone to just listen, without giving advice or their own story, just someone to sit beside us and let us get it all out.

Lizzie, mom's cat, is what companion pets are all about.
She sits with my mom, listens to her and gives my mom a
feeling of being needed.
My mom suffers from dementia and expressive aphasia, she is unable to articulate the thoughts she has in her head. It can be very frustrating for both of us when we are trying to communicate. Mom often says the beginning of a sentence perfectly, but then messes up the last word or thought, the part that would make the whole statement make sense! I often hear her talking to our three cats and just telling them whole stories that make no sense to me, but the thing is, they don't need it to make sense. They just give my mom that room to talk and tell her story her way and they curl up beside her and listen to her without judgement or questions. Companion pets offer more than pet ownership, they are there with her when she needs someone to just sit by her side and let her talk.

Elderly people who adopt or save dogs through a rescue often report feeling less lonely, have improved morale, feel more independent and get more exercise. They may also experience lower blood pressure because pets can help people to manage stress more effectively. To find a local animal shelter, just enter "local animal shelter" plus your city and state in your browser's search box. Shelters might ask you to meet certain criteria before allowing you to adopt, for example, they might want to know the name of your veterinarian and some recent pet ownership, if available.

Hero dogs are good therapy for people recovering
from illness or injury.
When my uncle Ed suffered a heart attack that resulted in his being in a coma for nearly two months, we were not sure what his life would be like if / or when he regained consciousness. The doctors could not predict how much brain damage might have been done. When he came to, he made a lot of progress, but he needed to stay in a rehabilitation center to learn how to walk and move muscles that had atrophied during the time he was in the coma. He always talks about the day his family brought his dog, Choco, to the rehab for a visit. Choco was a rescue dog who had been abused by former owners. He was missing one eye and was easily startled by people. When my uncle adopted him, they became each other's best friends. For my uncle, knowing that Choco was waiting for him at home and looking forward to his return, gave him the extra incentive to get better.

Pets for Vets

Medical research shows that, for some sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), pets can help to relieve stress, raise self esteem and increase satisfaction with life. Returning veterans may experience symptoms of PTSD such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, many vets also experience a high rate of family abuse, unemployment and a loss of interest in life. Companion pets may be able to help service men and women who are dealing with PTSD.

Pets for Vets is an organization that rescues dogs and cats and adopts them out to service men and women in need. This gives hero dogs and cats a second chance at life who might otherwise be euthanized, and helps some of the nearly 20% of veterans who suffer from PTSD. Patriot Paws trains and provides service dogs to veterans at no cost. These dogs can get help if there's an emergency, pull a wheelchair or even open a door!

If you're wondering how you can make a difference in the life of a returning veteran or an elderly neighbor or family member, remember the Power of Paws! If you have a dog, ask an elderly neighbor to come with you on your walk, or volunteer your time with a local agency that trains companion pets. Remember, our furry friends are happy to lend a paw to someone in need.

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Foods that Improve Your Mood

You may have heard the old saying you are what you eat. Have you ever given it much thought? The food you eat becomes a part of you, but take it a step further and you might find that the foods you eat can also improve your mood!

When I was pregnant, I felt the healthiest I've ever felt in my entire life. I felt truly happy, blessed, and amazing, for starters, plus I had a very good pregnancy. But I also tried to eat healthier and, except for some cookies and chocolate chip muffins here and there, I found that I often felt healthier than ever before, even though I was a bit more tired at times.

Chocolate is known to release endorphins that
can bring about a temporary good mood.
You may have heard, or experienced, that chocolate impacts the brain’s release of hormones, specifically endorphins and serotonin. This release of endorphins and serotonin bring about feelings of pleasure and comfort. Almost any woman can vouch for the power of chocolate! Some researchers attribute this to the small amounts of caffeine found in chocolate.

Of course, if you go about eating chocolate all the time to stay happy, you may find yourself dealing with other problems, like skin breakouts and a sugar rush that has you bouncing off the walls, or even a sugar crash an hour or so later, where you can barely keep your eyes open. Take some time to explore the best options in food to improve your mood.

How to Improve Mood with Food

If you find yourself easily
frustrated and moody, food may
improve your mood.
Eating some healthier foods can improve your life in a number of ways. First, you may notice improvements in your weight and body image. If you are watching your cholesterol and blood pressure, eating foods lower in fat and sodium will help your numbers. That in itself can improve your mood! However, a variety of special foods may also result in a mood change, giving you a more optimistic point of view and a happier perspective.

Some research suggests that vitamin D can increase serotonin levels, which may result in an improvement in mood for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Some top Vitamin D foods to boost your mood may include egg yolks, fish with bones, and low-fat milk, to name a few. Foods rich in omega-3 fats also seem to have a mood-lifting impact that might chase away depression. Oily fish like salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, as are walnuts, canola oil, and ground flax seeds, among other nutritious foods.

Folic acid (folate) and Vitamin B Complex also offer tremendous health benefits for improving your mood and your health in general. Consider foods like broccoli, beets, oranges, sunflower seeds, fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, and oatmeal, as well as lean meats, shellfish, low-fat yogurt, and eggs, to get your food and mood on the right path.

Many people take medications containing serotonin for depression relief and to uplift their moods. Some foods for serotonin production include those with B vitamins and those with tryptophan, such as turkey, soy products, and bananas. You can include other foods to improve your mood and ensure your diet is healthy, balanced, and rich in these elements. Increases in serotonin and food choices rich in vitamins and healthy nutrients can dramatically impact your state of mind. Knowing when and what to eat for snacks as well as mealtime may give you just the right mood boosting benefits to make a real difference in your life and your perspective.

Remember to limit refined carbohydrates, like white rice or bread, while increasing your consumption of healthy proteins as you are able. Choose desirable carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, beans, and brown and wild rice to get your carb fix. Enjoy poultry, veal, seafood, eggs, and other healthy protein options as a great step in improving your mood with food.

The next time your mood leaves something to be desired, don’t reach straight for the junk food. Consider chowing down on some of these more nutritious snacks to help boost your frame of mind.

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tinnitus - Can Exercise Help?

A Ring of Truth to It

If you’re plagued by a constant ringing sound coming from inside your ears, you may be suffering from tinnitus. Recent research is revealing a surprising solution to getting rid of that ringing in the ears: Exercise!

What is Tinnitus?

jaw exercises
Ringing or buzzing in
the ears can be a sign
of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a medical term for a ringing, swishing, or buzzing sound in the ears. By “in the ears” doctors mean that there is no external outside-the-ear sound causing it. In fact, Tinnitus is sometimes described in medical journals as the perception of sound in the head because, technically speaking, no outside sound is present so it is not a sound wave that causes the apparent noise. But whether or not the sound you hear is a noise or a perceived noise, the sound is not imaginary, and can be a serious problem to those who have more severe cases of it. So, after you've verified that the sound you’re hearing is not your alarm clock or some other noise from your environment, it’s time to consider getting your ears looked at by a physician.

One of the first things your doctor will tell you is that tinnitus is not a disease. Rather, it is commonly considered a symptom of an underlying condition, which is why it’s important to look at the known causes, both for diagnosis and for prevention.

What causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be brought on by hearing loss.
Hearing loss brought on by loud noise is considered the most common cause. Those who frequently listen to music with in-ear headphones at high volume, or those who work in loud environments often experience tinnitus. But there is a variety of underlying causes, including foreign objects in the ear, nasal allergies from blocked passages, neurological damage, severe or lasting ear infections, and more. The inner ear contains countless tiny hair cells that vibrate in the presence of sound waves. Damage to the receptor cells that capture the incoming sound waves is believed to be a common cause of the ringing sound.

Who is at risk?

According to a 2007 study, Prevalence of tinnitus and audiometric shape, Tinnitus is quite common, with about 20 percent of those between the ages of 55 and 65 reporting tinnitus symptoms when asked on a general health questionnaire. Ringing sounds in the ear are likely experienced by everyone at one time or another – but for most it’s often just a brief period of mild ringing or other sounds in the ear. It might be mild enough that, unless the person is in a soundproof booth, they may not even be aware of the ringing.

That said, there are certain individuals who are at a higher level of risk. This includes smokers, the elderly (since most cases of tinnitus come from hearing loss that often accompanies aging), and those who live or work in environments with loud noises, resulting in acoustic trauma (hearing damage). Other risk factors include whiplash injuries or a significant impact trauma to the ear or head, as well as excessive bike riding with the neck in a hyper-extended position, blood flow issues, high blood pressure, nerve problems, and many diseases.

How can exercise help? 

There are many treatments suggested for tinnitus. Exercise is a relatively new treatment. Other tinnitus treatments or tinnitus management techniques may include tinnitus maskers, hypnosis, electrical stimulation, counseling, sound machines, biofeedback, and relaxation therapy.

The connection between tinnitus and treatment by exercise came about as doctors noticed that nearly half of those who suffer from tinnitus also suffer from temporomandibular joint disease, which (thankfully) is also referred to as simply TMJ. TMJ is a disorder of the jaw joints and connective tissues. As you may have already considered, your ears are right next to those joints and connective tissues. According to the American Tinnitus Association, symptom relief may be available by employing certain physical therapy jaw exercises and facial exercises that are often prescribed for people with TMJ.

Exercises to Relieve Ringing in the Ears

LiveStrong has identified several therapeutic exercises that may help alleviate the inner ear symptoms of tinnitus, which are summarized below.
  • Max Opening - techniques to widen your mouth opening capabilities.
  • Assisted Opening - expands on the max opening exercise by using your fingers to extend the opening further.
  • Lateral Movement - increases your jaw’s flexibility from side to side.
  • Midline Exercise - develops linear alignment of the jaw.
  • Feel-Good Teeth Tap - tapping your top and bottom teeth gently together while smiling. This exercise is also reported to be useful to reduce stress.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Homemade Cleaning Products to Save Money

vinegar to clean
Remove stains with homemade cleaning products.
Cleaning products can get very expensive and there seems to be a costly product for every little cleaning project you have. The cleaning industry has been pushing products for years and every year there seems to be a new cleaning product that works better than the last. They have brainwashed all of us into thinking we need a different cleaning product for every little germ that we come across in our house or work place!

Why waste all that money on 20 different cleaning products when you can make your own and only have a few bottles in the cupboard that take up less space? It makes more sense to me to de-clutter your cabinet with unwanted cleaning products and save money at the same time. Not to mention you will have fewer irritating fumes and harsh chemicals roaming through your house.

I put together a list of alternative cleaning solutions that you can use to make your own household products. Most of the products come straight from your cupboard and can be used everyday for homemade cleaning. If you are wondering how to get stains out or get rid or those pesky tub rings all of these household products will do the trick. I have added a link for each product that tells you its best use.
cleaning products
Buy bulk to save money.

  • Baking Soda - Baking soda can be used in so many different ways and it is very cheap to use. From making homemade car wash soap to getting coffee and tea rings out of cups this will be the cleaning product that you will use the most.
  • White Vinegar - White Vinegar is very mild and acidic; it dissolves dirt, soap scum, and hard water deposits on smooth surfaces. A lot of people are starting to use vinegar to clean and its popularity is growing. It is also a natural deodorizer and absorbs those pesky animal odors you may have in your house. What I love is that it also removes crayon stains and it is still gentle enough to clean my hardwood floors when I make a solution with it.
  • Bleach - Bleach is a little more harsh than some other cleaning products but is also the cheapest and disinfects the best. It is a popular homemade cleaner and it is the most common in many households. You don't have to use much to conquer your hardest cleaning project. Use it in small doses and be careful not to wear new clothes while cleaning with it or they may become a little whiter than expected!
  • Borax -  Borax has been around for years to remove stains. It was first discovered in 1872 and has been going strong ever since. It is most commonly known to be used for your laundry and gets tough stains out, but it does so much more. I have even used it to make slime for my preschool. The kids LOVE it and they have so much fun with it.
  • how to get stains out
    The cleaner that never gives up
    and gets touch stains out.
  • Alcohol - Alcohol is most commonly used as a degreaser and it is great for cleaning windows. It cuts through all the grease and grime without leaving a heavy residue. There are different kinds of alcohol but the most common is rubbing alcohol. It usually contains a 70% solution of isopropyl alcohol and water. This is a high number and should always be used with caution, especially around children. When it isn't in use make sure it is out of the reach of children and stored in a well ventilated area.
  • Ammonia - Ammonia is most commonly used for cleaning windows and fighting soap scum. It can also be used for cleaning out drains and removing soot from fireplaces. Ammonia is a very strong smelling cleaning agent and needs to be used in a well ventilated area.
And remember, when using household products for cleaning, be very careful to read the labels for safety instructions. Be sure to never mix bleach and ammonia together because it can release toxic vapors. Even cleaning one area with bleach and a different one with ammonia can cause the vapors to mix, so don't use them in the same room together. Make sure any room where either product is used is well ventilated.

Here are also some last minute Cleaning recipes that you won't want to pass up. Happy cleaning and I hope these tips put a little extra buck in your pocket and keep your cleaning closet a little more organized.

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer