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Remedies For That Dang-Nabbit Itch

 

To scratch or not to scratch, that is the question. When confronted with an itch, most of us tend to throw self-discipline out the door and scratch to our skin’s content. While that may prove momentarily satisfying, scratching excessively can injure your skin. And if you break the skin, you leave yourself open to infection.

 

Itching, medically known as pruritus, is caused by stimuli bugging some part of our skin. There are a lot of places to bother on the body, too. The average adult has 20 square feet (2 square meters) of skin, all open to the world of irritants. When something bothers our skin, an itch is a built-in defense mechanism that alerts the body that someone is knocking. We respond to an itch with a scratch, as most people want to remove the problem. But the scratching can also set you up for the “itch-scratch” cycle, where one leads to the other endlessly.

 

An itch can range from a mild nuisance to a disrupting, damaging, and sleep-depriving fiasco. Itches happen for many reasons, including allergic reactions; sunburns; insect bites; poison ivy; reactions to chemicals, soaps, and detergents; medication; dry weather; skin infections; and even aging. More serious itches, such as those caused by psoriasis or other diseases, are not covered here.

 

Scratching isn’t the only solution to an itch. The kitchen cupboards hold a few more.

 

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Baking soda. Baking soda battles itches of all kinds. For widespread or hard-to-reach itches, soak in a baking soda bath. Add 1 cup baking soda to a tub of warm water. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes and air dry. Localized itches can be treated with a baking soda paste. Mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Apply to the itch, but do not use if the skin is broken.

Oatmeal. Add 1 to 2 cups finely ground oatmeal to a warm bath (not hot or you might have breakfast for the next month in your tub) to ease your itches.

 

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Lemon. Many American folk remedy recipes call for using a lemon to treat itchy skin — and rightly so. The aromatic substances in a lemon contain anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce itching. If nothing else, you’ll smell good. Squeeze undiluted lemon juice on itchy skin and allow to dry.

 

Home Remedies from the Spice Rack

Cloves and Juniper Berries. The American Indians of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Cherokee tribes knew how to stop an itch in its tracks. They used what nature provided, namely juniper berries. (No need to run out in the wilderness to gather berries. They are available in some grocery stores.) These berries contain anti-inflammatory, volatile substances. When combined with cloves, which contain eugenol to numb nerve endings, the result is no more itch. To make a salve of both spices, melt 3 ounces of unsalted butter in a saucepan. In a separate pan, melt a lump of beeswax — about the amount of 2 tablespoons. When the beeswax has melted, combine with butter and stir well. Add 5 tablespoons ground juniper berries and 3 teaspoons ground cloves to the mixture and stir. Allow to cool and apply to itchy skin. Note: It is best to grind the spices at home because the volatile substances are preserved better in whole berries and cloves.

Basil. Splash your skin with refreshing basil tea. Like cloves, basil contains high amounts of eugenol, a topical anesthetic. Place 1/2 ounce dried basil leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Keep it covered to prevent the escape of the aromatic eugenol from the tea. Allow to cool. Dip a clean cloth into the tea and apply to itchy skin as often as necessary.

Mint. If you’re saving that basil for spaghetti sauce, try a mint tea rinse instead. Chinese folk medicine values mint as a treatment for itchy skin and hives. Mint contains significant amounts of menthol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically. In general, mint also contains high amounts of the anti-inflammatory rosmarinic acid, which is readily absorbed into the skin. To make a mint tea rinse, place 1 ounce dried mint leaves in 1 pint boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Strain, dip a clean cloth in the tea, and apply to the itchy area when necessary.

Thyme. If you’re saving that mint for a glass of lemonade, there is one more spice on the rack that makes a good anti-itch rinse: thyme. This fragrant herb contains large amounts of the volatile constituent thymol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, it numbs that darn itch while reducing inflammation caused by all your scratching. To make a thyme rinse, place 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Strain and dip a clean cloth into the tea, then apply to affected areas. Note: In Chinese folk medicine, dandelion root, easily plucked from most yards, is added to this rinse. If in season, place 1 ounce dried dandelion root and 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves into 1 quart boiling water and proceed as directed.

 

Home Remedies from the Windowsill

Aloe vera. Aloe vera is a must for burns, but how about itches? The same constituents that reduce blistering and inflammation in burns also work to reduce itching. Snap off a leaf, slice it down the middle, and rub the gel only on the itch.

 

Source:  http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-itching.htm

 

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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Health and Science

 

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For Proper Fruit and Vegetable Washing Use Vinegar

Have you ever wondered whether those expensive veggie washes are worth the money?

The editors of Cook’s Illustrated, a serious foodie magazine, wondered too. They usually focus on cooking techniques, but recently they looked into techniques for cleaning food.

Testing Cleaning Techniques

So the magazine did some comparative testing, by cleaning apples and pears in four different ways. They washed one batch with an antibacterial soap. (That, by the way, is not recommended by food safety experts — nobody thinks swallowing soap is a good idea.)

They washed other pieces of fruit with a solution of diluted vinegar (one part vinegar to three parts water), rinsing afterward with pure water. They scrubbed the third group with a brush, and simply rinsed the fourth group with clean water.

To measure how well each technique worked, they sampled the outside of the fruit with sterile cotton swabs, then rubbed the little bits of grime onto Petri dishes.

Jack Bishop says they next let the Petri dishes sit at 80 degrees for several days to see what bacteria grew. Then they counted how many bacterial colonies were present.

It turns out the scrub brush removed 85 percent of the bacteria — a little more than the water alone.

But the cleaning method that worked the best was the dilute vinegar rinse. It removed 98 percent of the bacteria.

Cleaning with Vinegar

“I’ve got a spray bottle filled with three cups of water and one cup of white vinegar,” Bishop says. “It’s in a spray bottle — the kind you’d mist your plants with.”

Bishop sprays each apple with about six squirts of the solution — just enough to coat the surface — and then rinses it under the tap.

“The cold water will wash the residual flavor from the vinegar, and finishes the cleaning process,” Bishop says. “So it’s a 30-second, 50-cent investment.”

For Leafy and Irregular Vegetables

Step 1

Pour one cup of distilled vinegar into a large bowl or basin, and add 3 cups water. Stir gently with a large spoon or ladle to mix the liquids thoroughly.

Step 2

Separate the leaves of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach and turnip greens, and dip them in the vinegar solution. Remove from the bowl, rinse under cold running water, shake off excess, and pat dry before serving.

Step 3

Place irregular vegetables that have many crevices, such as cauliflower and broccoli, in the bowl of vinegar and water. Allow these vegetables to soak for at least two minutes before rinsing under cold, running water. Shake off excess water, and pat dry before cutting or serving.

Sources: http://www.livestrong.com/article/255880-how-to-clean-fruits-vegetables-with-vinegar/#ixzz1y6qkv2oM
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14540742

 

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