Thursday, October 25, 2012

Helpful Herbs: Chamomile

Today's Helpful Herb: Chamomile

There are two common varieties of chamomile: German Chamomile and Roman Chamomile.  German Chamomile, Matriacaria chamomilla, is the most widely used, and is also known as Blue Chamomile.  Chamomile has been used for centuries for a number of applications, from a tea to help ease digestive problems, to a healing poultice for wounds. It's estimated that around the world, we drink over a million cups of chamomile tea a day!  But is chamomile's reputation as a helpful herb backed by science?  What are some of the proven benefits of chamomile?


Skin Benefits
Chamomile has long been used on skin to help heal wounds and soothe irritation.  And indeed, research has found it to be a helpful topical anti-inflammatory. It is thought that it inhibits the release of prostaglandin E(2) (an inflammatory hormone-like substance in the body), as well as certain enzyme activity that helps reduce inflammation in the skin.  One study looked at chamomile's healing effects on patients who had undergone dermabrasion of tattoos.  Chamomile significantly helped the patients' wounds heal more quickly. Another study also found chamomile sped the healing of wounds faster than corticosteroid medicines.  Finally, a double-blind study found that topical application of Roman Chamomile helped heal eczema better than hydrocortisone cream.  


A compound in chamomile called apigenin has been studied for its effects on skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers, with promising results. Chamomile extracts containing apigenin were found to have an anti-estrogenic effect on breast cancer cells (thus, not stimulating their growth.) A recent study found that chamomile was toxic to cancer cells, but not healthy cells, and a standardized chamomile extract was found to help shrink prostate tumors in both lab and in animal studies.  

Heart Health
Chamomile is rich in flavonoids, which are thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease.  A five-year study of over 800 men aged 65-84 found that flavonoid intake "was significantly inversley associated with mortality from coronary heart disease."  In other words, the more flavonoids in their diet, the healthier they were.  


Digestive Health
Chamomile extracts have been studied and found to reduce stomach acid output and increase the secretion of mucin, a protective mucus lining in the stomach, thus helping to protect from gastric ulcers.  Researchers found this extract lowered stomach acid as effectively as a commercial antacid.  


There are internet rumors that chamomile or chamomile essential oil is "estrogenic" and that women with estrogen dominance or other hormonal imbalances should avoid this herb. However, the opposite is true.  Chamomile has been found in numerous studies to be an
anti-estrogen that helps prevent bone loss.


Blood pressure, General HealthChamomile has been found to help normalize blood pressure and promote general wellness.

"The health promoting benefits of chamomile was assessed in a study which involved fourteen volunteers who each drank five cups of the herbal tea daily for two consecutive weeks. Daily urine samples were taken and tested throughout the study, both before and after drinking chamomile tea. Drinking chamomile was associated with a significant increase in urinary levels of hippurate and glycine, which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. In another study, chamomile relieved hypertensive symptoms and decreased the systolic blood pressure significantly, increasing urinary output."

Traditionally, chamomile has been used to induce labor and many medical websites advise women to avoid it during pregnancy. Howevever, there are no studies that suggest that chamomile induces labor or causes miscarriages.  The science behind it would suggest otherwise, as chamomile has been found to reduce prostaglandin E2, a natural hormone-like substance that induces labor. So, if chamomile is indeed a labor-inducer, the function whereby is unknown.


This article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Recommendations Part 5: Men's Care

Men's Care

Hey guys!  We didn't forget you!  Here are our top picks for products for you!

Shaving Cream
Dr. Bronner's Shaving Gel
Wow, a certified organic option!

Bubble & Bee Organic Bar Soaps
Our soaps work great for shaving!  Create a rich lather, apply and shave! You can pair it with a bristle shaving brush and create some crazy-good lather! The extra vegetable glycerin in our soaps give a nice glide for a clean, close shave.

Miessence After Shave Balm

Weleda After Shave Balm

One of our most frequently asked questions is "what deodorant works best for men?"  Well, first of all, we have to say that there's no one deodorant that works for a particular gender, as it's completely dependent upon body chemistry.  However, we can give you some recommendations for scents that are more masculine, and methods of application that are best suited for men.

Super Spray
This lovely blend of lemon, clove and patchouli is effective and smells great.  We recommend the spray because it gives great coverage over the hair and down to the skin.

Spearmint & Tea Tree Pit Putty
Fresh and minty, this one works great for guys.  With added baking soda for odor protection, and arrowroot powder to help absorb sweat.

Truly Herbal Stick
The first formula we ever made.  It worked then, and works now!  Guys like the ease of application and it's a blend that works well.  (Do note that over-application can stain light clothing.)

Body Spray, Cologne

Make a blend of your own with our Design-a-Spray

Recommended blends:

Spruce--Tea Tree--Spearmint




Lime--Tea Tree

Styling Gel

Intelligent Nutrients Styling Gel

Face Cream

Bubble & Bee Organic Men's Face Cream
A little goes a long way!  Apply lightly to a clean face.

Hand Cream

Bubble & Bee Organic Chai Guy Lotion Stick

Bubble & Bee Organic Unscented Lotion Stick

Body Wash

Bubble & Bee Organic Lemongrass Rosemary Shower Gel

Bar Soaps
Bubble & Bee Organic Mint Tea Soap

Bubble & Bee Organic Lemongrass Ginger Soap

Bubble & Bee Organic Unscented All Over Bar

Tough Guy Hand Scrubbing

Do you work in the garage or yard and get grease and dirt on your hands? A great way to get your hands seriously clean again is to use our salt scrubs!  The Peppermint Vanilla seems to be a favorite for this.
Bubble & Bee Organic Peppermint Vanilla Salt Scrub

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Recommendations Part 4: Hair Care


Of course I recommend our shampoo!  Have hard water?  E-mail me for a super-secret solution!  (And it has nothing to do with baking soda.)

Instead of using conditioner with our shampoo, we recommend a vinegar rinse (instructions included with shampoo.)  There are other options, like lemon juice or citric acid that you can use as well if you don't like the smell of vinegar.  E-mail me for more details!  

Also, there's:
Intelligent Nutrients Certified Organic Hair Conditioner
I have tried this product so I can tell you a few things about it. It is pricey.  Once you pay for shipping it's a $40 bottle of conditioner (and only 6 oz of product.)  Because of the lack of quats and other chemicals, it doesn't spread like other conditioners, and you end up using a lot of product in order to feel fully conditioned.  It does have a strong smell that lingers in your hair afterwards.  Some love it, some hate it.  I didn't mind it, although it was somewhat earthy and masculine to me.  (However, we all experience scents differently.)  The upside: totally certified organic conditioner, and it worked pretty well if you're looking for a vinegar alternative.

Note: My recommending a product, does not mean that I endorse the entire brand.  I never recommend on brand alone, only individual ingredients lists of products.  

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm pretty low maintenance.  I don't use hair products very often and haven't tried these so I can't give you a full review of how they work.  But, ingredients-wise, these are my winners!

Hair Spray
Intelligent Nutrients Certified Organic Perfect Hold Hair Spray

Aubrey NuStyle Organic Hairspray

Hair Gel
Intelligent Nutrients Certified Organic Styling Gel

Intelligent Nutrients Certified Organic Pomade

Styling For Ethnic Hair
Kinky Curly Curl Custard actually isn't too bad! 

You've probably noticed by now that I recommend Intelligent Nutrients!  These products I've listed are on par with our standards.  However, do avoid their Harmonic line of products, as they contain quaternary ammonium compounds and other chemicals.  

In the picture on the left, I achieved this hair style with no styling aids whatsoever.  I simply dried after washing until my hair was just damp, then used a curl dryer to finish my hair.  You could also achieve the same result with a larger barrel curling iron (2"). Dry hair until just barely damp, and then using the curling iron.  

My hair, once it's dry, is pretty difficult to curl.  I have to use the highest heat settings possible, and then an hour later it's flat again.  But, if I curl it when it's damp, the curl holds.  I prefer the curl dryer to a curling iron, as the hold seems to last longer, and I love anything that simplifies my routine.  Curling and drying at the same time...I'll take it!

This photo is from when my hair was a bit shorter, but I styled it simply with a straightening iron.  I recommend a ceramic straightener, preferably a Chi.  It doesn't tug or rip at my hair, it heats up fast, and works great, even on slept-on-when-wet wavy hair. I had a Hot Tools for a number of years, but once it gave out, I got a new Hot Tools.  The new one tore up my hair because the plates didn't meet up smoothly.  So, I replaced it with my Chi and haven't looked back.

If you have naturally curly hair, using a quality straightener on a semi-regular basis can actually make it feel more "healthy" because it smooths and straightens the hair shaft.  We have a tendency to equate smooth hair with healthy hair, when that may not necessarily be the case.  Using a straightener does have its advantages, however, you can end up damaging your ends, so I try to use it sparingly.  

Most of the time, though, I just let my freak flag fly, and just go with my natural wave/curl.  Humid days are the best for that!  I'll maybe touch up some spots and make some spiral curls with a curling iron if I want a more polished look.  I'll achieve this look by brushing it a little when wet and letting it just air dry.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Recommendations Part 3: Sunblock, Toothpaste, Hand Sanitizer


I've been doing a lot of birding lately, and most of the time while I'm outdoors I just wear my wide-brimmed hat.  But there are some times when I just need some sunblock.  On hot summer days, sometimes I don't feel like wearing long sleeves, so I need something for my shoulders and arms.  My top recommendation for sunblock is Badger.  Hands down.  This summer I bought a tube of Badger SPF 34 Lightly Scented.  One tube easily got me through the entire summer of outdoor activities. There are other brands around, however, Badger is my top pick because I know they have a sophisticated lab that can support the creation of a reliable product that's legally considered a "drug."  With sunscreens and zinc oxide, it can actually be quite difficult to get the zinc oxide distributed evenly throughout your emulsion. Plus, I know that it has gone through all of the proper testings  SPF-wise, preservative-wise, etc.  It's also pretty widely distributed and you can find it at most Whole Foods stores.  There's another brand that's top-rated with EWG, however it contains water and doesn't have an apparent preservative.  There have also been reports of it not giving reliable coverage.  (Likely due to the uneven distribution of the zinc oxide.) EWG doesn't take that in to account with their safety ratings.  So, that is why Badger is my one and only pick for this category. You can ask me "what about _______?" but my answer will be "Badger is better."

Earthpaste Natural ToothpasteFirst and foremost, we are still developing our toothpaste.  There are a lot of different factors that have slowed this project up, which I won't get in to here. (Too long!)  However, in the meantime, we found a great product that's also local to us.  It's made by the people who make Real Salt.  It's called Earthpaste.  It's not organic, but has really simple ingredients and actually tastes good too!  No SLS, no glycerin, no artificial flavors or colors.  

You can find it on our website here!

Hand Sanitizer
I recommend only using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.  Alcohol is the only ingredient that has a long track record of effectiveness, but also doesn't cause bacterial resistance (aka, superbugs).  I use Whole Foods 365 or EO brand, both of which I pick up at Whole Foods.  If you need something for your young kids, and don't want to give them alcohol-based sanitizers they could inadvertently drink, my recommendation is an alcohol-based sanitizing wipe, like these.