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Leaves of three let it be! Interesting facts about Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy Toxicodendron radicans is from the Anacardiacea  family.   It is also known as  Rhus  radicans or Rhus toxicodendron Toxicodendron which is from the Latin toxicum, ‘poison’, and the Greek dendron, ‘tree’ It is a poison tree, indeed!

Poison Ivy is said to be coined by Captain John Smith in 1609 when visiting America, and the plant was taken back to England as an ornamental plant.

The chemical component in poison oak, poison ivy is a sap called Urushiol (you-ROO-shee-all) which derives from urushi, Japanese name for lacquer.

Urushiol oil to stay active on any surface including dead plants for 1-5 years.

The reaction usually develops 12 to 48 hours after exposure and lasts two to three weeks.

Although direct contact is needed to release the oil; you may still develop a rash when the plant is burned, as causes the oil to become airborne.

As we spend more time enjoying the outdoors, here is an informative graphic to help identity the plant, and keep you and your family safe.



June is here and summer is right around the corner! That means the weather is great for fun in the sun, for a lot of us.  Many of us buy our sunscreen from the local drugstore, while many others are looking at Pinterest and various other websites for DIY ideas.


Here are the facts:

It’s an FDA requirement that each finished formulation of sunscreen or sunblock undergo strict SPF testing in order to claim a UV rating.  It’s not as simple as adding up all of the ingredients you believe to have an SPF factor, in order to reach your desired value of protection.

Carrot seed oil, red raspberry seed oil, coconut oil, etc. will not protect your skin from UV/UB rays, as they contain no SPF. Please don’t be deceived by believing what you see on Pinterest, or in some cases, the information your upline tells you.

It’s really unnerving to view posts/blogs from people who claim essential oils are great to use as sun protection.  Essential oils not only have no meaningful SPF value, some are also phototoxic, and can cause a serious burn, which can lead to skin cancer when exposing the area to UV rays.  That’s not something to mess with!

Words of warning: By suggesting that essential oils, carrier oils, etc., can be used as an alternative to commercial sunblock/sunscreens- You may find that you opened yourself up for a civil, and/or federal lawsuit! Yep! That’s right! Sunscreen and sunblock are classified as drugs; therefore, when you suggest that sunscreen can be replaced by using essential oils you’re making a false and misleading medical claim that can put others in harm’s way!

Protect yourself and your family! Do your research, and wear sunscreen!  And always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup A few weeks ago, I made a few jars full of elderberry syrup to help ward off illness for me and my family. If you’ve never heard of Elderberries, continue reading.
Just the facts: Back in the days of Hippocrates through to the Middle Ages and into the 19th century, Elder has been famous for its medicinal properties. In 1644, Dr. Martin Blockwich dedicated a 230 page book which includes medicinal virtues and uses of the Elder. The flowers were used by our Forefathers in bronchial and pulmonary affections, as well as for Scarlet Fever, measles, etc. English Herbalists, Priest & Priest tells us, “Preparations of Elderberries and flowers are indicated for, Cold and Flu with dry, hot skin, chronic nasal catarrh or sinusitis; dry coryza, spasmodic croupy weakening night sweats, and skin eruptions from metabolic disturbance; eczema, and dermatitis”

Black Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) have been shown to prevent flu and speed recovery in those who have the flu .(A clinical trial published in 2004 showed 1 TBSP of elderberry extract given to flu patients four times daily “recovered in an average of 3.1 days compared to 7.1 days for those given a placebo.”)
Below is the recipe I use, although there are plenty of variations.

Elderberry Syrup
1 cup dried elderberries
A stick or two of cinnamon
A small palm size amount of whole cloves
Ginger – a few quarter sized slices
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons of orange peel
6 cups of water
Directions: Bring elderberries to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain and return the liquid to heat. Add cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and orange peel. Simmer for an hour. Cool at room temperature. Strain, stir in honey. Store in fridge.
Standard Preparations: For daily maintenance:
Adults: 2 teaspoons daily. Children: 1 teaspoon daily. Adults: 2 teaspoons 4 times daily. Children: 1 teaspoon 4 times daily.
Source on preparations, and more educational info, here:

Let’s talk about mosquitoes, and throw in a little chemistry, shall we?

In 2001, research conducted at Iowa State University found Catnip to be 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the compound used in most commercial bug repellents, (DEET) and this is at a 1% ratio, concentration! (to read more on this study, click here)
There are many people who believe citronella repels mosquitoes, as we see a lot of the citronella candles, and torches during summertime barbeques.
Here are the facts: Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide (what we exhale.) The reason folks may believe citronella works, is because of the simple mechanism (in citronella) that interferes with carbon dioxide, but doesn’t actually repel the mosquito. Researchers report that nepetalactone, which is the primary chemical component found in catnip is what truly gives the plant its characteristic odor, AND could very likely be an irritant to the pesky bug. With that said, catnip is a pheromone to the mosquito that tells it to stay away! Catnip is non-toxic, whereas DEET is, in addition to the disturbing fact that the chemical compound found in DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide) and other commercial repellants have been known to cause Toxic Shock Syndrome in children. (This is a good indicator as to why the label says, wash off as soon as you go indoors)
Mosquito can be quite the nuisance here in Wisconsin. There are plenty of DEET alternatives out on the market that are safe! We use a blend including catnip hydrosol to help keep from getting bit in our family, and have found it to be super effective.