Fire Cider recipe
'Tis the season - not just for jolly holiday fun and gifts -  but also for colds and flu. That's why this is a great time of year to brew up some natural home remedies to help keep you healthy all winter long!

This ancient recipe was said to be used to keep people healthy during the time of the plague - hence one of its common names - "Four Thieves Tonic." The legend is that a band of thieves used this recipe (or one like it) to avoid the plague when stealing from plague victims - understandably a rather infectious task.

There are many versions of this recipe, which is sometimes called by different names. But I love the name "Fire Cider" - it sounds so warm and invigorating! :-)

The tonic includes a number of health-boosting ingredients traditionally known to fight disease, kill bacteria, and strengthen the immune system. If you cannot find all of these in your area, you may be able to get them online - or omit any that are too difficult to find.

Below are two different versions of this immune-boosting home remedy - pick whichever sounds best to you:

Growing up on the farm, we had a huge elderberry bush in the front yard. My sisters and I would climb it in the late summer and pick giant purple bouquets of elderberries for my parents, who would somehow turn the tiny, bitter and unpalatable berries into quarts of delicious, dark purple sticky sweet syrup which was our favorite pancake topping year-round. 

This was long before elderberry syrup became one of the hottest natural health aids around. Touted for helping to prevent and fight off colds and influenza, reduce inflammation, and soothe coughs and respiratory illnesses, humble elderberry syrup has recently reached "superfood" status. 

Driving down the road the other day, I spied some big elderberry heads beginning to turn purple. It reminded me of the purple-handed late-summer task of my childhood, and it inspired me to share this recipe with you, so you can see just how easy it is to make your very own delicious and immune-boosting elderberry syrup - and you'll save a ton of money on those pricey commercial versions! 

Miracle of Garlic
Whew! Things have been pretty serious around here for the past couple of weeks (if you haven't checked out the last 2 posts, I highly encourage you to do so - it's a very important topic for everyone), so I thought we'd take a little break this week with a fun giveaway!

This free gift actually ties in quite nicely with the new model of health we've been discussing over the past two weeks, in which individuals will play a greater role in their own healthcare through learning about and using more natural and traditional means of healing.

You probably use garlic in the kitchen quite often (I know I do!), but did you know that garlic has many healing properties, including the ability to help boost your immune system and fight off infections like colds and the flu?

Learn more below, and grab your FREE copy of this awesome e-book today!

I thought I would mix things up a bit this week by sharing a really strange and fascinating technique for naturally improving your health and wellness, mental state, and well, just about any aspect of your life...

When I first heard this technique briefly mentioned on a webinar I was attending, I thought it sounded like the weirdest thing ever, but it sounded so intriguing, I just had to find out more!

And yes, it is strange indeed, but this simple method can help dramatically improve many aspects of your life in just a few minutes per day, and you can do it just about anywhere - even in bed, in the shower, or (my favorite) in the car on your way to work (as long as you don't care about receiving some strange looks from other drivers). :-)

Typically I personally use this technique to relieve stress and anxiety, or remove mental blocks, but many other  users have reported a number of other benefits, including pain relief, weight loss, improved relationships, and even increased wealth. It truly is a holistic method, which is why I wanted to share a bit more about it with you today.

Naturally healthy teeth
I'm back from Minnesota! It was great seeing the family, but it's also great to be home. My garden is looking a bit weedy, but mostly I'm just amazed by how much everything has grown in a week! Squash and cucumbers are starting to pile up, so I'll be pickling tonight - the first batch of the season, though certainly not the last. :-)

Anyway, I'm super busy getting caught up with everything, so this won't take long, but I did want to share a bit of info today about a topic I don't cover very often: your teeth.

Dental health has recently been linked to several other areas of health, and some researchers now believe that poor oral health can even lead to heart disease and other inflammatory diseases.

Even if you go to the dentist regularly, you may still have issues with the health of your teeth, and this is one area where natural and holistic medicine are often lacking. Though there are "biological dentists," who tend to use fewer harmful substances in their practice, and look for safer alternatives to things like x-rays, there really haven't been a ton of advances in natural dentistry.

But I stumbled across this interesting resource last week, and wanted to share some information that may help you achieve healthier teeth naturally, all on your own...

Cancer quiz
As you might expect, I'm subscribed to a LOT of health newsletters. Not only so I can keep abreast of the latest in natural health news (and bring it to you), but I also have a great (almost insatiable) love of learning, and I know there is always more out there for me to learn - especially when it comes to the growing field of natural health!

Lately, I kept seeing emails promoting this "cancer quiz" over and over. At first I just deleted them, thinking it was some sort of scammy promotion. But eventually, curiosity got the better of me, and I checked it out - especially since one of the senders is someone whose materials I normally really like and trust.

It turns out that it is actually being sponsored by a really cool organization called "Quest for the Cures," and their cancer-related website and informational video, The Truth About Cancer, which provides all sorts of interesting information and resources about cancer, the search for a cure, and natural cancer treatments that show potential.

Butternut squash
This time of year it's hard to miss those inevitable colds and flu that always seem to plague us as we head into the cold, dark days of mid-winter. If you're a parent, you may be particularly prone to picking up the germs the kids seem to bring home from school on a weekly basis.

But if you find yourself getting sick over and over, it's probably more than just simple exposure. We are all exposed to hundreds (if not thousands) of bacteria and viruses on a daily basis, but if your immune system is in good shape, your body should be able to fight most of them off before you ever come down with anything.

If it seems like you're sick practically all winter long, it's probably time to take a good look at your immune system and find out why this is happening, and what you can do about it.

Here are 6 reasons why you may be getting sick on a regular basis - and some tips for staying healthy!

Gut bacteria
If you've done much reading in the natural health arena, you may have heard natural health experts talking about the importance of having a healthy balance of microflora in your digestive tract - or, in layman's terms - "good gut bacteria."

Since, as we mentioned a few weeks ago, your digestive system is one of the most important parts of your immune system, it stands to reason that the health of your gut has a lot to do with your overall health.

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle is filled with unhealthy foods and habits, not to mention prescription drugs like antibiotics, which can really take a toll on the health of those ever-important bacteria whose job it is to help keep you alive and well.

In fact, there are more studies coming out all the time on the connection between your gut bacteria and just about every other aspect of your health.

While you may know that our motto here at New Holistic Living is "everything is connected," nowhere is this more true than in the digestive system. Just as an example, a recent study on mice tracked what happened when gut bacteria from depressed mice were transplanted into healthy, happy mice. The happy mice began showing signs of depression within hours!
This just goes to show that changing your gut bacteria literally can change your life!

But how do you know if your gut bacteria are healthy or not? And if they aren't, what can you do about it?

Keep reading to find out.

You probably know by now that refined sugars are one of the worst things you can consume. Along with processed trans-fats and artificial ingredients, sugar is one of the major killers that we consume on a regular basis, and has been linked to numerous diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

As more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of sugar, it's not surprising that more and more sugar "replacements" are being marketed, but are they really all that much better for you than real sugar?

We now know that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are possibly even worse for you than real sugar
, but what about the "natural" sugars you hear about everywhere these days?

Today I'm going to reveal the truth with a quick rundown of the top 6 natural sugars on the market right now, and how they compare.

Personal care products
You may know that most commercially available personal care products such as deodorant, lotions, shampoos, and even toothpaste are packed full of hundreds of chemicals. While most of these are "generally recognized as safe" by the FDA in small doses, what we don't really know for sure is what the impact of these chemicals may be on our health over time, with repeated use, and in combination with each other.

That's why, several years ago, after reading a truly eye-opening book, I started switching all of my personal care products to all-natural and organic versions. (You can find some of my favorites in our Recommended Products section.)

I am very happy to see so many of these types of products gaining market share, as it shows that people really are starting to wake up to what they're putting in their bodies, and making a choice to take back control of their health. As more people purchase these products, and more companies make them, the price has already started to come down, and many of these products are just as affordable as their chemical-laden counterparts - at least for the higher end stuff.

However, some of the better all-natural products still remain somewhat expensive, or at least they're perceived that way. That's why it's great that you can make many of your own products at home, yourself, for a very minimal cost. Plus, when you make it yourself, you know exactly what's in it!

This week, just to mix things up a little, I thought it would be fun to share a couple of all-natural recipes for common personal care items that you can actually make at home, using simple, inexpensive ingredients like coconut oil and essential oils. They're very affordable, easy to make, effective, and safe.

Let's start with toothpaste...