Saturday, May 31, 2014

16 Ways to Prevent & Get Rid of Cold Sores

cold soresA cold sore is not welcome on your face, or anywhere else, for that matter. Not only are they cosmetically unappealing, they can be downright painful. Let’s get over the fact they’re caused by the herpes virus. We all know it, and that aspect gets far too much attention. Defining cold sores simply for what they are, they are small, fluid filled lesions that pop up generally on or around your lips. The blisters often group together, and after they break, a crust forms over the resulting sore. There is no true cure for the virus, or the cold sores. The bright side is that there are preventative measures you can take that lessen outbreaks, severity, and duration. If the bothersome blisters do show up, there are a decent number of home remedies for cold sores that may ease your discomfort, and help diminish their appearance. Just because there is no cure, doesn’t mean you’re stuck using irritating prescription face creams or having a cold sore that hangs around for an eternity.
1. Enjoy vanilla
Vanilla extract, the real, good, pure, vanilla extract, is a natural cold sore remedy some people swear by. The thought process is that its alcohol based, and running along those lines, makes it hard for the virus to thrive and either wipes it out or lessens the severity and length of the outbreak. If you do use vanilla, try and get it organic, and try to start using it the second you feel the tingling set it.
You will need…
-a cotton swab or cotton pad
-pure vanilla extract
Soak cotton pad or swab in vanilla until thoroughly saturated. Apply directly to sore, holding the swab or pad in place for a minute or so. Do this four times daily until no longer needed.
Dab It with Some Vanilla
2. Snag some licorice
One of the more random natural remedies for cold sores that you can use is licorice. Glycyrhizic acid, an ingredient in licorice root, has been shown in some studies to stop the virus cells in their nasty little tracks-or at least counteract the symptoms of them. This is thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. A way to glean something positive from this isn’t to go munch on a bunch of licorice whips, but rather get some licorice powder, and make a cream. You can also try drinking licorice tea daily, though that doesn’t seem as effective as topical treatment.
You will need…
-1 tablespoon licorice root powder or extract
-1/2 teaspoon fresh water OR approximately 2 teaspoons petroleum jelly
Mix one tablespoon of licorice root powder to ½ teaspoon of fresh water, or however much you need to get the consistency of cream you want, making sure to add in small increments. Another option is to mix it with petroleum jelly, which on its own can help speed up the healing process of cold sores. If you opt for this, start with a teaspoon of the petroleum jelly and mix it with the licorice root. You can work your way up to your desired consistency from there. Gently dab (a cotton swab is handy for this) a thin layer over the sore, making sure to get it completely covered. Leave it on for at least several hours, or overnight if possible.

3. Toss your toothbrush
Throw out your toothbrush after the blister has formed, and toss it once the sore has cleared up. A toothbrush is the perfect vessel to carry the virus, and you can end up triggering an outbreak in yourself if you re-use the same toothbrush again and again. This is a preventative measure, since it can stop an outbreak or cut it short, it’s well worth doing.
4. Hands off
It may sound obvious, but it can be near an impossible to resist picking at that crusty little (or big) patch by your mouth. Almost subconsciously you can end up bothering it, or very consciously, you just want to peel it off and be done with it. Whatever your motive, resist touching the sore-even just reaching up to touch it and see if it somehow shrunk-as those actions can cause a bacterial infection. That’s the last thing you need. They are also so highly contagious that even touching your sore and then accidentally rubbing your eye, or somewhere else on your body, could cause them to spread (they aren’t confined just to the mouth, you know.)
5. Get milk
Putting a whole milk compress on your sore can help speed up the healing, and ease pain. The reason? Milk contains proteins known as immunoglobulins, which are essentially anti-bodies that fight off and prevent viruses-like herpes. It also contains l-lysine. L-lysine helps inhibit the wicked work of an ammino acid called arginine, which has been shown to cause outbreaks, and may help speed up the healing process as well. In short to prevent outbreaks, drink whole milk and get your dose of l-lysine. To help cold sores that have already erupted, make a whole milk compress to soothe the pain and fight off the virus.
You will need…
-1/2 cup to 1 cup of whole milk, plus a tablespoon or 2 extra
-cotton balls or cotton pads
Soak a cotton ball in approximately 1 tablespoon of milk, and apply it directly to the cold sore for several minutes. Before doing this you can either let the milk come to room temperature or, if you prefer, you can apply it cold. Use a clean towel moistened with water to dab off the milky residue at the end. If you feel you need it, apply a dab of petroleum jelly.
Milk Remedy for Cold Sores
6. Wipe it out with hydrogen peroxide
Anyone who had a parent that put hydrogen peroxide on a scrape knows that it’s not exactly pleasant. The good news is that it’s a lot less traumatic to use at your own will, nor does it seem to hurt as bad now that you’ve grown up a bit. Love it or hate it, the solution can be an effective cold sore remedy. It disinfects, healing up speeding, and makes it hard for the surfaced sore to spread or worsen. The blister is already bothered and infected, at the very least virally, and keeping it clean can ultimately make it go away faster.
You will need…
-1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide
-cotton balls, cotton pads, or facial tissue
Soak a cotton ball in 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. Use more if you feel it isn’t saturated enough. Place the cotton ball directly on your sore-it’s probably going to sting-and hold it there for a few seconds, or dab it around. Let it be for 5 minutes or so, allowing it to do its job, before rinsing off.
Hydrogen Peroxide
7. Be minty fresh
Peppermint oil is thought to have properties that directly kill virus particles outside of your cells, like the ones floating around an erupted cold sore. It won’t help to ingest peppermint oil because it only attacks the virus escaped from your cells. What we mean by it being “outside” of your cells is that herpes simplex virus usually resides beneath the skin, lurking and waiting for a trigger to make it rear its ugly head. When its’ erupted, its accessible to treat with the oil. When applied directly to a cold sore, people have found that the sore healed faster than usual-especially when applied at the very first sign of one.
You will need…
-Good quality peppermint oil
-1 cotton swab
-a bit of fresh water
First, use a bit of water to rinse the surface of the cold sore. Doing so gets away some of the surface gunk that would make it harder for the oil to really sink in and do its best. Then, dip a cotton swab in clean water and then dip it into the peppermint oil. This is to dilute it a bit, making it less likely to irritate your skin. Try this twice daily until it is no longer needed.
8. Take Echinacea
There are a couple of people I am quite close to who drink Echinacea tea religiously and swear by it. Every time I come down with a bug they give me the “I am not sick now am I?” look, with a meaningful nod at their mug of tea. The reason they get away with their smugness is because Echinacea bolsters your immune system and its defenses, making it harder to catch bugs, and shortening how long you are affected by them. While not yet proven it may help prevent cold sore outbreaks which often show when the immune system is weakened.
You will need…
-1 bag of Echinacea tea
-1 cup freshly boiled water
Place your bag in a mug and pour boiling water over it. Cover-a plate works well-and let it steep for 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice out of the bag when you remove it to get all the extra good stuff.
9. Load up on vitamins E and C
Vitamins are good for us, and for our cold sores-and by good for our cold sores, I really mean bad for them. Vitamin C has been shown to boost white blood cell count, and white blood cells are the body’s defenders. When something like an infection sets in the brave little cells head into battle, and having more of them means you’ll be more effective at fighting off the infection, which in this case is herpes. Vitamin E, when applied topically, has been found to relieve the irritating and painful discomfort of cold sores, as well as minimize scarring. You can get the vitamins through an oral supplement, oil (in the case of vitamin E) and-the best way-through your diet.
Vitamin C rich foods include
-red berries
-red and green bell peppers
-spinach (little did Popeye know he was onto a cure for cold sores)
Vitamin E rich foods include
-leafy green vegetables
-whole grain
10. Cornstarch paste
If you’ve worked with cornstarch before you’ll be familiar with its fine, almost silky, texture-it seems like it could be soothing to a cold sore, doesn’t it? I would say so, and it can indeed help relieve the itchy burning pain of a sore when directly applied. The less obvious reason as to why cornstarch makes a pleasant home remedy for cold sores is the fact that it neutralizes the pH of the sore- the virus thrives in an overly-acidic environment-and creates an alkaline state (alkaline is the opposite of acidic.) To seek relief, and shorten the duration of your cold sore, simply whip up a silky-smooth cornstarch paste.
You will need…
-1 tablespoon of cornstarch
-1 teaspoon of fresh water to start
Measure out 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and place in a small bowl. Mix in 1 teaspoon of fresh water. Add more water slowly until you achieve a paste-like consistency. Put a dab on your cold sore before bed, and rinse off gently with water in the morning. Do this nightly until cold sore is gone.
Homemade Cold Sore Cream
11. Dab on some witch hazel
The leaves and bark of North American witch hazel have been used medicinally for years, namely by Native Americans, and have now become quite commercialized. Nowadays you don’t have to worry about tracking down a plant and stripping off its leaves and bark since you can find a bottle of witch hazel, or witch hazel hydrosol, at just about any pharmacy or general store. Since it does not produce enough oil to sell as an essential oil, the hydrosol is a distilled liquid version. It has been shown to help with a number of maladies, particularly in skin care, with emphasis on acne, bruises, insect bites, blisters and, if you hadn’t guessed by now, cold sores.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon of witch hazel
-cotton swab or cotton pad
Soak a cotton pad or the end of a cotton swab in witch hazel. Dab directly onto your sore, and leave on. Do this 1-2 times daily as needed.
12. Grab some aloe gel
The go-to for soothing minor skin irritations, aloe vera gel can provide quick relief from the pain of a cold sore once it blisters. It also fights off bacteria that may be irritating the sore more, and may make it go away faster. Being so dependable, aloe is often touted as being one of the best natural remedies for skin problems there is. The best way to benefit from it is to have an aloe plant. They’re not hard to come by, they’re hardy (I got one when I was five and it managed to survive my care for years,) and best of all, they’re useful and inexpensive. If you cannot get an aloe plant, find a good gel sold in stores.
You will need…
-1 aloe plant OR ½ teaspoon of aloe vera gel
Break off the end of one fleshy, succulent, leaf. Directly apply the gel to your sore. If you absolutely cannot come by a plant, dab a cotton swab in roughly ½ teaspoon aloe vera gel and apply directly. Leave on.
Aloe Vera Gel
13. Ice it
Looks aside, cold sores hurt. They can really, really hurt. Think about what they are-little fluid filled boo-boos that burst, blister, and form a crust. Kind of like constipation, they aren’t taken very seriously. If you complain about constipation pain-which can land you in the E.R., by the way-all people think is “poop” and then they tune out. With cold sores, most people think “herpes” and then move on-especially since cold sores are so common. To numb the pain that some people just don’t understand (and the injustice of it all) try holding an ice cube directly on the sore for as long as possible, and then put on a dab of petroleum jelly. The jelly will help keep bacteria out, and will lessen that tight, skin-splitting sensation that sometimes happens when a blister gets too dry, as it might after using an ice cube. It’s along the same lines of how licking chapped lips makes them worse.
You will need…
-1 to 2 fresh ice cubes, or an ice pack
-A bit of petroleum jelly
Take a nice chilly ice cube, which would be most of them, and hold it on your sore for as long as possible, or use an ice pack. When you’ve finished, pat any obviously remaining water gently from the sore and apply a dab of petroleum jelly.
14. Wear sunscreen-even on your lips
Exposure to light, namely UV light, seems to be a very contributing factor in outbreaks. When you hit the beach, or even just go for a summertime stroll, apply sunscreen to your face, and apply lip balm with an SPF value of no less than 15. Indeed it may take you longer to get a crazy tan, but it’s a very, very, small sacrifice to make when you think of the painful cold sores erupting, and damage to your skin.
15. Wash it all away
You don’t have to go dump every single thing you own when you get a cold sore, but like your toothbrush, its best to get rid of some things that come in contact with your lips/mouth area-such as lip balm, or make up tools. In addition to this, wash your hands each and every time you touch, or even think you touch, your cold sore. While you’re always contagious, it’s easiest spread the virus when there’s an open blister and you may keep causes outbreaks if you continue using contaminated items.
16. Quarantine right away
The moment you feel the tingling sensation that precedes a cold sore flare up, start your treatment. Since there is no “cure” sometimes preventative measures work best, and nipping it in the bud seems to help boost the effectiveness of the treatment afterwards well as shorten the sores existence.
When it all comes down to it at the end of the day, you have a virus that will never go away completely until a true cure is found for herpes simplex. That being said, your world does not have to come to a crashing halt when a sore pops up. Use common sense, try to get to it in the beginning, and patiently treat it, keeping in mind that the remedy that works best for you will probably take some trial and error. Since you’ll probably be living together for a while, it’s good to remember that the less you bother your cold sore (i.e. picking at it or using unnecessarily harsh chemicals) the less it will bother you.
16 Cold Sore Remedies- and ways to prevent future breakouts.
Wet…or dry? A word on cold sore living conditions
There are generally two chains of thought when it comes to treating cold sores. One is to dry them out, while the other is to keep them moist. Some people say the virus festers in a moist environment, others say it makes no difference and you’ll be uncomfortable with a dry, cracked, split, scab.
There isn’t much official research done on this, but from personal experience, I’d have to toss in with the “wet” lot. Putting a dab of petroleum jelly on a sore is a life-saver. The pain of a dry scab ripping open again and again is too much for me-not to mention I WILL pick at it if it’s all crusty. Perhaps with a bit more clout is the Mayo Clinic which, according to their website, also endorses the moist route for treating cold sores.
You may also like our list of 14 Remedies for Nausea & Upset Stomach
Make sure you like Everyday Roots on Facebook to be updated everytime we post helpful home remedies & natural treatments.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Top 10 Home Remedies For Thinning Hair

Top 10 Home Remedies For Thinning Hair

Top 10 Home Remedies For Thinning Hair
Long before the advent of chemical or surgical hair restoration – people around the world have been using natural remedies to nourish the scalp and keep hair thick and healthy.  There are around two dozen common causes for hair loss including (but not limited to) stress, skin infection, medications, age, heredity, and sudden change in diet.  Whatever your case may be, the remedies on this list when used regularly can help you to regrow, or thicken, your hair.

1. Amla

Amla fruit – commonly referred to as the Indian Gooseberry – is high in Vitamin C with both anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties.  Furthermore, fatty-acids found in amla act as a conditioner to moisturize and strengthen hair and roots.  Hair treatments made from powdered, fresh, or dried amla are some of the most popular natural remedies used to prevent hair loss (as well as for masking and preventing grey hair.) Plus there are a number of amla hair oils that help to enrich hair, such as this Dabur Amla Hair Oil. 

2. Reetha

Reetha, the saponin-rich fruit of Sapindus mukorossi has been used by people in the eastern and western world for thousands of years to make soap – giving the tree its nickname: “soapnut.”  The natural cleansers made from reetha have both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which may help to heal scalp ailments that cause hair loss.  For more information on making your own soapnut cleansers, check out this great article.

3. Shikakai

Shikakai, a shrub native to warmer regions of Asia, has been used for thousands of years as an herbal hair cleanser and hair loss preventative.  All aerial parts of the plant can be ground into powder or dried for later use.  By itself, shikakai powder added to water or oil can be massaged into hair and scalp to promote new growth, strengthen roots, and clear up skin conditions like dandruff which may cause hair-loss.
Shikakai, reetha, and amla can also be combined to create a moisturizing, nourishing natural cleanser.  Check out this recipe to learn how.

4. Egg Whites

Eggs are rich in protein, sulphur, iron, zinc, and selenium – all of which our bodies need for the production of hair.  Extra virgin olive oil is a great natural moisturizer high in Vitamin E traditionally used for all-around skin health.  One egg white mixed vigorously with one teaspoon of olive oil creates a great natural scalp treatment that can help to reduce hair-loss by nourishing the scalp, as well as increasing blood flow and oxygen supply to hair follicles.

5. Fenugreek

Sweet-smelling fenugreek is a plant with an ancient background as both culinary seasoning and natural remedy.  Soak fenugreek seeds in water overnight then grind into a vitamin-rich paste which can be applied directly to the scalp to improve circulation and stimulate hair follicles.  Alternately, you can mix fenugreek paste with Greek yogurt or strained yogurt for added exfoliating power.  Leave either mixture on the scalp for thirty minutes before washing with an all-natural cleanser such as amla, reetha, and shikakai.

6. Flaxseed

Top 10 Home Remedies For Thinning HairThe seeds of the flax plant are well-known for their dietary health benefits on the mind and body.  Full of fatty-acids and anti-oxidants, ground flax seeds boiled in water will form a soothing gel that can be applied to scalp and hair to moisturize skin, eliminate dandruff, stimulate new growth, and improve the strength of existing hair.  For a guide on making flax seed gel, check out this article.  Flax oil can also be taken as a supplement or try adding ground flaxseed to food to improve scalp health and circulation, among a long list of other benefits.

7. Onion Juice

While you may initially cringe at the idea of applying onion juice to your scalp – or any of your skin for that matter – consider that it is one of the best natural remedies for combating hair loss.  Onions are packed full of sulfur which stimulates the production of collagen in your skin.  Lack of collagen is one of the biggest causes of thinning hair, so think twice before you turn down this revitalizing albeit pungent scalp treatment.  Check out this blog for a couple of excellent recipes.

8. Protein-rich Diet

A diet high in protein helps the body to synthesize keratin, the key structural component of hair, skin, and nails.  To combat hair loss and promote new healthy growth, add protein-rich foods such as poultry, fish, lean beef, eggs, soy, yogurt, and nuts to your weekly shopping list.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rose Lotion Bars

Rose Lotion Bars

Rose Lotion Bars - Photo by Jan Berry (
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife
Lotion bars are a favorite DIY project for beginners and experienced alike. The basic recipe requires only three ingredients, yet can be customized in dozens of creative ways. Besides being simple to whip together, they're fantastic at healing dry, damaged skin and make wonderful gifts.
For this batch, I used a candy mold that I found at my local craft store for $1.99. Other mold options include silicone muffin cups or ice cube trays in fun shapes. A quick look around your house or in your kitchen junk drawer might spark more ideas. One of my favorite molds is a canning lid and ring set, which makes a perfect circular bar.
Rose Lotion Bars - Photo by Jan Berry (
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife
The following recipe will make 10 mini rose-shaped lotion bars. You can increase or reduce the amounts as you wish, keeping in mind an overall ratio of 1 part butter to 1 part beeswax to 1 part oil.
  • 2 T. shea butter (or mango or cocoa butter)
  • 2 T. beeswax pastilles
  • 2 T. oil (*see options in Step 1)
  • 10 to 12 drops rose or geranium (rose) essential oil (optional, for scent)
  • alkanet root or rose mica (optional, for color)
Step 1
Combine the shea butter, beeswax and oil in a small, heatproof jar or recycled, unlined tin can.
You have a lot of options when it comes to type of oil that you use. Sunflower, jojoba, avocado, peach kernel oil, grapeseed or rosehip seed oil are all good choices. Coconut oil may give a slightly different consistency to the finished bar but can be used, as well.
Step 2
Set the heatproof container down into a saucepan containing a few inches of water to form a makeshift double boiler. Heat the pan over medium-low heat, until the beeswax and butter have melted. Overheated shea butter can become grainy, so keep a close eye as the mixture melts.
Rose Lotion Bars - Photo by Jan Berry (
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife
Step 3
Once melted, remove the jar or tin can from the water. If you're going to add color, do so at this point. For the batch shown, I stirred in 1/8 teaspoon of lip-safe pink mica.
You could also use alkanet root for a natural tint. For this size batch, stir in 1/16 teaspoon of dried, powdered alkanet root to obtain a peachy pink color. A drawback with using alkanet root is that it can leave small dark speckles in the finished lotion bar. One way around this is to infuse your oil with the alkanet root for several days before making. The speckles will settle to the bottom of the jar or you can strain the oil through cheesecloth before using.
If you choose to add color, be sure to use a light hand so the finished lotion bar won't stain skin or clothes.
Step 4
Once you've added color, if you're going to do so, then next up is scent. For this batch, I used 10 drops of geranium (rose) essential oil and two drops of rose absolute oil. Pure rose essential oil is rather expensive and I have a tiny supply, so I use geranium (rose) and palmarosa essential oils as less costly, but similar-smelling, fillers. Start by adding a few drops of your chosen essential oil, then stir and sniff before adding more.
Because people vary widely in personal preferences, you might find that you want to use less or more essential oils to suit your taste. If you're not a fan of rose, try using another scent that you do like. Lavender, jasmine, ylang-ylang (sparingly) and peppermint are all nice alternatives. Some essential oils aren't recommended for those who are pregnant, nursing or have certain health conditions, so be sure to research before use.
Step 5
Once your color and scent are stirred in, pour the liquid mixture into molds. Let the bars set up until firm enough that they easily pop out when you turn the mold upside down. If they're reluctant to leave the mold, try placing it in the freezer for several minutes. If you find that they're too soft for your taste, remelt everything and add a bit more beeswax.
Rose Lotion Bars - Photo by Jan Berry (
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife
Store individual lotion bars in small tins for gifting or carrying in your purse, or use a mason jar to store several at a time. Be sure to keep lotion bars away from heat sources and direct sunlight, as they can melt quite easily.
To Use
Rub the lotion bar over your skin wherever it feels dry. Lotion bars are especially helpful for treating rough feet, knees and elbows. The heat of your skin will melt the bar just enough to leave behind a thin moisturizing layer. Use as often as needed.
Jan Berry at The Craft 

About Jan Berry
Jan is a goat-chasing, soap-making, homeschooling farm wife who loves vintage tea cups, word games and turning weeds into beautiful things. She joins the Craft Hub each month with DIY body care recipes and projects. She can also be found at her blog, The Nerdy Farm Wife.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pineapple Upside-Down Salted Caramel Bundt Cakes

Pineapple Upside-Down Salted Caramel Bundt Cakes

These mini pineapple upside-down cake flavor bombs will blow that boring cookie tray out of the water.

Bisquick Blogger

Prep Time:
20 min
Total Time:
50 min


    • 2tablespoons butter
    • 2tablespoons packed brown sugar
    • 1can (8 oz) pineapple slices or chunks, drained and chopped
    • 2tablespoons chopped pecans, if desired
    • 1/2cup salted caramel sauce (from a jar)
    • 1tablespoon dried cranberries, if desired
    • 3/4cup Original Bisquick™ mix
    • 1/4cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4cup milk
    • 1tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1teaspoon vanilla
    • 1egg
    • Flaked sea salt


  • 1Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 12-cup mini bundt cake pan. I recommend this <a href="" target="_blank">Mini Bundt Pan</a>.
  • 2Heat 8-inch skillet over high heat. Add butter, brown sugar and pineapple to skillet. Let pineapple sit undisturbed 1 to 2 minutes, then stir. Add pecans, cooking and stirring frequently 2 to 3 minutes. Once pineapple is slightly golden in color, remove pan from heat; add 1 rounded tablespoon salted caramel sauce and the cranberries. Stir to incorporate.
  • 3Divide mixture evenly among cups of mini bundt cake pan. Set aside.
  • 4In large bowl, beat Bisquick mix, granulated sugar, milk, oil, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on medium speed 4 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cranberries, filling cups half full.
  • 5Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Carefully loosen sides of cakes. Immediately place heatproof serving plate (or cookie sheet) upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan upside down for a few minutes so brown sugar/caramel mixture can drizzle over cakes. Then tap bottoms of cups to further loosen cakes from cups. Remove pan. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle each cake with remaining caramel sauce and a sprinkle of flaked sea salt.