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An herbal home = a healthy home: learn how to make home a little sweeter with herbalists Maria Muscarella and Nikki Solomon.

The home is a sacred place, our center. It's a place where we rest, play, laugh, love, raise our family and enjoy the company of friends. Our homes should be places that maintain the mind-body-spirit connection; spaces we can count on for good health. But, in today's world, pollutants that can lead to imbalance and disease surround us. Increasing amounts of these chemicals are being found in our homes and as pollution in our environment. According to the EPA, the average American home has chemical contamination levels 70 times greater than outdoor air. This has led to half of all illnesses occurring in the U.S., and household cleaners have been found to be three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air pollution. Some of the chemicals found in the home include phosphates, chlorine bleach, petroleum, phthalates and anti-bacterial agents. Not only do they cause air and water pollution, they are linked to cancer, infertility, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, asthma, emphysema and thyroid imbalances.

The good news is that there are many natural alternatives to cleaning our homes that can help us sustain our health and the environment. Herbs and natural products can easily be incorporated into our cleansing routines. In fact, many herbs ,and essential oils contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities, making wonderful disinfectants. In addition, they are uplifting, fragrant, soothing, refreshing and revitalizing. You can also consider using herbs as spiritual cleansing for your home. Many cultures have used bundled herbs hung in the home for protection and smoke smudges to help clear the air and bring in positive energy. Herbs to consider for these purposes are sage, juniper, cedar, mugwort, copal, rosemary, lavender, frankincense and myrrh.

Including a little piece of the plant world in your cleaning adds a wonderful fragrance and feeling to the home.

HERE ARE A FEW RECIPES TO TRY:

CARPET FRESHENER

Mix one cup of baking soda and a third of a cup of powdered herbs. Some favorite herbs to use are lavender, rose petals, rosemary, mint and thyme. Add one to two drops of essential oils, such as lavender, orange or cedar, to enhance the effect and fragrance. Sprinkle the powder on carpet and let it sit at least one hour before vacuuming.

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Variation: You can also try this mixture in the kitchen or bathroom as a surface scrub.

INFUSED VINEGAR

Infusing vinegar with herbs is a simple process that will leave you with a versatile product you can use to clean your countertops, wipe down the bathroom, get your windows sparkling and even top your salad.

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To make infused vinegar, loosely fill a pint jar with your herbs and cover them with apple cider vinegar. Cover the jar and let it infuse for two weeks, shaking daily. After two weeks, strain out the herbs and bottle up your infused vinegar!

Some favorite herbs to try include thyme, rosemary, lavender, basil, mint, oregano, garlic, sage, rose, cinnamon and clove. Along with being edible, these herbs also have antimicrobial properties to get your house spic and span. Change your herbs depending on the season or the smell you desire.

FABRIC SOFTENER

Make an infused vinegar with fragrant, scented herbs such as lavender and rose, using white vinegar this time instead of apple cider. During the rinse cycle, toss one cup of vinegar into the washer. Dry your clothes in the dryer or on the line and they'll come out soft and smooth.

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MOTH DETERRENT

Those delicate little moths can create such havoc in our closets. Herbal sachets are a terrific way to keep the moths out of your clothes and keep them smelling fresh.

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Simply gather one ounce each of the following dried herbs: mugwort, rosemary and lavender. ,Mix the herbs and place them in small sachet baggies. Hang the sachets in your closet :rod place them in your dresser drawers. If you're putting your clothes away for the season, remember to toss a few of these into the box before closing it up.

KITCHEN WIPE

In a one-quart jar, pour one-cup of apple cider vinegar. Add fifteen drops each of thyme, rosemary, sage and tea tree essential oils. Add enough water to fill the jar. Close and shake well. This mixture can be placed in a spray v bottle for easy clean up in the kitchen.

WOOD CLEANER/POLISH

This recipe may take a little more effort, but the result is an extraordinary, fragrant polish without chemical overtones.

First, you need to make an infused oil. This is very similar to preparing an infused vinegar. Simply select your dried, aromatic herbs and fill a pint sized jar with them (Lavender, rose, lemon balm, orange or lemon rind and mint are all great choices.) Cover the herbs with a vegetable or nut oil (almond oil works very nicely) and let them sit in a warm place for two weeks, shaking daily. Strain out the herbs at the end of the two weeks, and you're ready to make your wood polish.

Take an eighth of a cup of your herb infused oil and add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of vodka or brandy and ten drops of essential oil (again, the essential oils of the plants listed just above are perfect for this oil). Mix these ingredients together and bottle them. When you are ready to dust, shake well and rub the herbal polish into the wood with a clean, soft rag.

LUSTRATION

Water and herbs are wonderful to use to purify and refresh the home and body, and herbal waters are used in many cultures for sacred purification and clearing of spaces. Gather fresh or dried plants with prayer and intention. Using you hands, gently mash the herbs in a bowl of water. Try using rose, calendula, marigold, basil, lavender, lemon balm, hibiscus, yarrow or any plants that resonate with you. This provides a deeply healing energetic combination with the power of water and the healing properties of plants. Allow the waters to sit in a sacred spot in the home for a few hours to gather negative energies and clear the space. Afterwards, sprinkle the water around the house and on yourself for added cleansing effects.

Source: www.epa.gov/iaq/index.html

Maria Muscarella and Nikki Solomon are both nurse-herbalists who have worked in natural health care for over twenty years combined. They co-own the Viriditas Healing Center & Apothecary in Asheville, where they run an herbal store and see clients for herb, flower essence, and Maya Abdominal Massage consultations. They can be reached at 828-251-8688 or www.viriditashealing.com.
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Title Annotation:herbal healing
Author:Muscarella, Maria; Solomon, Nikki
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Words:1099
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