Monthly Archives: December 2014

Make Your Own Herbal Cough Syrup

Rodale News
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Adapted From Grow It Heal It

Syrups are useful for coating your throat and are helpful if you (or your kids) have trouble swallowing capsules or pills. Any herbal tea can be concentrated and added to a sweet base to create a syrup. Because this process concentrates the herb's active constituents, a syrup can be very effective at treating and healing a wide range of ailments, especially upper respiratory infections and sore throats.

More From Rodale News: 4 Natural Soothers for Sore, Scratchy Throats

This tasty syrup coats your throat, reduces irritation, and calms a persistent cough.

Cough Syrup

Ingredients:
3 to 4 teaspoons fresh or 1½ teaspoons dried echinacea leaf, flower, and/or root
1½ to 2 teaspoons fresh or ¾ teaspoon dried licorice root
2 heaping teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried marshmallow root
3 to 4 teaspoons fresh or 1½ teaspoons dried orange peel
1½ to 2 teaspoons fresh or ¾ teaspoon dried sage leaf
3 to 4 teaspoons fresh or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
5 cups purified water
1 cup Sweet Syrup Base (see below)

Optional ingredients:
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina)
3 to 4 teaspoons fresh or 1½ teaspoons dried horehound leaf (Marrubium vulgare; this herb adds extra cough-reducing power, but also has a bitter taste)
7 drops orange essential oil
3 drops peppermint essential oil
Pinch of stevia per cup of finished liquid (optional), for sweetness

Directions:
1. If you're using fresh herbs, whir them in a blender, and if you're using dried, grind the herbs to a coarse or fine consistency. In a saucepan, simmer the echinacea, licorice, marshmallow root, orange peel, and optional cherry bark in the water, uncovered, for 20 minutes. 

2. Turn off the heat. Add the sage, thyme, and optional horehound. Steep the entire mixture for 20 minutes longer, then strain and compost the herbs. 

3. Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, return it to a boil, reduce the heat, and gently simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Let it cool until it's warm and add the sweet syrup base and the optional essential oils. 

4. After making your syrup, bottle it, label it, and store it in the refrigerator. If no preservatives are added, the syrup will probably last 2 to 3 weeks. You can add a few drops of an essential oil or vitamin C powder (½ to 1 level teaspoon to 1 cup of syrup) to increase its refrigerated shelf life by 1 to 2 weeks or even longer. 

If it's impractical to store the syrup in the refrigerator, add the vitamin C powder and grain alcohol so that the finished product is 25 percent alcohol and 75 percent syrup. These additions are particularly helpful for keeping syrup viable and safe for consumption when you're traveling. Take 1 teaspoon two to three times daily or as needed.

More From Rodale News: 30 Herbs for Cold and Flu Season

Sweet Syrup Base
Ingredients: 
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Directions:
Dissolve sugar in water by simmering it for 30 to 40 minutes.

The Top 20 Health Stories of 2014

Rodale News
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It was our absolute pleasure to sift through pages of scientific studies, snuggle up with cutting-edge health books, sit in on expert alternative health webinars, and interview top scientists and holistic doctors to bring you the latest trends in wellness throughout the year. Now that we've reached the end of 2014, we ranked the most popular stories of the year so that you'll be ready to make 2015 your healthiest year yet! Thank you for reading Rodale News! 

The Top Health Stories of 2014
#1: Why You Need to Stop Washing Raw Chicken
Experts say it's okay to wash your fruits and veggies but are now warning to lay off rinsing poultry prior to cooking. Contrary to what your mother taught you, it's not necessary (or safe).

#2: The Best Foods for Your Liver
A healthy liver plays a key role in relieving digestive issues, such as a sluggish metabolism, gas, bloating, and constipation. An unhealthy liver could even result in sugar cravings, fatigue, and fuzzy thinking. Learn how to start nurturing this detoxifying organ!

#3: How Soda Destroys Your Body (Infographic)
Sometimes you have to see it to believe it. We scoured the latest health data to bring you an infographic that highlights how soda assaults your entire body, from your brain to your breasts.

#4: The 8 Best Foods for Your Gut
Your gut is referred to as your body's second brain because it impacts your entire body. To boost your immunity, mood, and weight loss efforts, learn how to keep your gastrointestinal army happy!

#5: 7 Things You Should Never Compost
Composting dryer lint seems innocent enough, until you realize it's loaded with microscopic plastic particles and fat-promoting chemicals! That's just one of the 7 things our experts warn to keep out of the compost pile for good!

#6: The Most Toxic Sunscreen (and Safer Options)
Are you accidentally slathering yourself in sunscreen with some seriously damaging ingredients? We turned to Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) 8th annual guide to sunscreens to find the best (and worst) sunscreens on the market.

#7: 2014 Dirty Dozen List: The Most Pesticide-Laden Produce You're Eating
While we always recommend opting for organic, 2014 pesticide testing results show it's especially critical to choose organic when it comes to certain crops. For instance, a single grape tested positive for 15 pesticides! Check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to start making smarter choices in the produce aisle.

#8: Foods Athletes Should Never Eat
The best foods for athletes aren't always obvious. Sure, athletes of all levels need fuel. But turning to all of those energy gels and drinks could be defeating the purpose of your workout, holding you back, or in worst-case scenarios, shifting your metabolism into a dangerous fat-storing state.

#9: 5 Popular Pills That Could Be Making You Sick
Some of the most prescribed drugs in the country could be secretly robbing your body of essential minerals and nutrients, setting you up for a whole host of other strange side effect. Our go-to pharmacy explains how to deal.

#10: Are These Sleep Mistakes Making You Fat?
Exercising at the wrong time and wearing underwear to bed could be setting you up for weight gain. (We're serious!) Luckily, our hormone specialist explains how to avoid common bedtime pitfalls.

Top-Trending Articles of 2014
These ten stories proved to be oldies but goodies. While they weren't written in 2014, you kept coming back to them. Based on this, we're predicting that 2015 is going to be a big year for ditching toxic foods, including sugar and soda, sharpening your brain, and understanding that "natural" doesn't always mean "good."

#11: 14 Foods You Should Never Eat
Our experts shared the foods they wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole—and neither should you. Plus, you can download the full list of 27 foods to avoid so that you'll always be prepared for any food foray, from grocery shopping to road trip snacking.

#12: 11 Weird Things Sugar Is Doing to Your Body
Sugar has a rap sheet longer than Al Capone's, Bonnie's, and Clyde's—put together! And not all of sugar's crimes are obvious. (For instance, did you know sugar can actually promote a wrinkly face?)

#13: 10 Blood Sugar-Lowering Foods
In 2014, researchers discovered that about 30 percent of the U.S. has or is in the early stages of diabetes. And since diabetes meds are crazy expensive with questionable side effects, we're not surprised that eating blood-sugar lowering foods is the better route to take. Even if you're not diabetic, balanced blood sugar can do amazing things for your health.

#14: 9 Disturbing Side Effects of Soda
Before you take another swig of that soda, you might want to consider these crazy consequences, including memory loss and cancer. Or maybe you'll just be weirded out that the artificial sweeteners don't break down in your body and are now polluting our water.

#15: The 10 Best Hangover Foods
Too much ringing going in your head the day after ringing in the New Year? These foods can get you back on your feet, fast. The best part: It's totally pill free (and delicious!).

#16: The 6 Worst Natural Ingredients
Repeat after us: "Natural doesn't mean healthy." (Nothing "unnatural" about poison ivy. Doesn't mean you should eat it!) Too bad food manufacturers use the natural label to trick people into thinking their food is wholesome and good for you. 2015 is the year to never be fooled again.

#17: 6 Surprising Mosquito Repellents
Ditch the DEET for vanilla extract (and smell amazing while you're at it). Plus, try these other mosquito repellants that will save your summer from nasty chemicals.

#18: Your Recommended Sugar Intake: Less Than a Soda per Day
Do you know how much sugar is hiding out in your food? Soda's an easy target (because the stuff is terrible for you) but you might be surprised how much sugar is in your "healthy" food too.

#19: 5 Ways to Clear Brain Fog
"Senior moment" is a misnomer because memory loss at any age is a problem. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to clear up this brain fog and protect the grey matter in your noggin.

#20: The 15 Grossest Things You're Eating
You're not going to see things like "flame retardant" or "bug guts" on the label, but that doesn't mean that you're not eating them. Check out these sneaky ingredient labels to avoid doing something gross, like pouring a popular paint chemicals on your salad.