Natural Repellent

Keeping the bugs at bay

By Karen Frye

Mosquitoes, gnats, flies and chiggers are just a few of the biting insects we have to live with in the summer. They can be very annoying if you are outside gardening, by the pool or walking in the woods. Whatever pastime you enjoy outdoors, you are probably being eaten alive by biting insects.

The good news is you have options to keep these bugs off your body.

DEET is the most commonly used repellent. It was developed for the military during World War II and is the longest-lasting repellent available. However, it does have its drawbacks. It has a distinctive odor, and to avoid side effects, should be used only as recommended.

Natural repellents can be a useful alternative. Most are made from essential oils. These oils have strong odors that are offensive to most insects. Some essentials are more effective than others.

The Centers for Disease Control recognizes the oils of lemon and eucalyptus to be more effective than most other plant-based oils, with a similar effectiveness to DEET. There are many natural insect repellents on the market, with various combinations of oils to create a potent overall effect against bugs.

You can also make your own repellent that can be just as effective, and maybe save you money, too. Clove, citronella, lemon-eucalyptus and neem oils are among the most potent. Choose one of these as your primary active ingredient. Add another oil or two from the list to enhance the potency. Other oils that help repel insects are eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, lavender, cedar, peppermint, geranium and thyme.

Essential oils can be used directly on the skin if you are putting a dab or two on spot areas. When applied liberally on their own, they can irritate the skin, so for widespread coverage, it’s best to mix them into a carrier oil to safely get it into the skin. Coconut oil is a perfect carrier, and it provides a reasonable level of protection against insects on its own. Another good thing about coconut oil is that it has a neutralizing effect on bug bites and stings. Even if you are bitten, the toxic or irritating effects are greatly reduced, and the itchy welts are barely noticeable.

Here’s an easy-to-make bug repellent: 144 drops of one or two of the oils on the list. Mix with 1/4 cup coconut oil. Store away from heat or light.

Rub the oil onto the exposed skin (avoiding your eyes). You may need to apply frequently if swimming, exercising heavily, or if you sweat a lot. If you are bitten, apply the pure coconut oil on the bite to soothe the itch and speed healing.

One more thing that helps keep insects off your skin is the B complex vitamins. You can find them all in one capsule, or you can add nutritional yeast to your diet (easy to add to soups, smoothies or juices). It has a nice, cheesy flavor and is delicious on popcorn. The B complex also helps fight fatigue, an added benefit to the supplement.

Now you can enjoy being outdoors without the annoying bugs ruining your good time.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Flower Power

The essence of good scents

By Karen Frye

Flowers have a way of making our hearts feel something sweet and wonderful, but there is a special healing power they can bring to your life, too.

Decades ago a prominent British physician, Dr. Edward Bach, believed disease was the manifestation of negative states of mind, a disharmony between a person’s physical and mental states. He observed that worry, anxiety, impatience and unforgiveness depleted a patient’s vitality so much that the body lost its resistance and became more vulnerable to disease.

Dr. Bach closed his practice, left his home in London and spent the rest of his life traveling throughout England in a search for curative plants. He discovered 38 remedies, one from water, the others from flowering plants and trees. Today, more than ever, the connection of the mind and the body are well recognized and the research continues to grow.

Flower remedies are made simply by transferring the essence of the flower into liquid — usually water — by steeping the petals or leaves. Each flower or plant has a specific healing effect. The essences are subtle but, taken regularly, can have a positive impact on our consciousness. The effect of the remedies is not to suppress negative attitudes but to transform them into positive ones, stimulating the potential for self-healing. There are remedies to help release guilt and shame, increase self-esteem, stimulate creativity, become more balanced and grounded. The purpose of the essences is to support the immune system by relieving depression, anxiety and other trauma that weakens the body. It is important to note that they are not a replacement for traditional medical treatment, but work in conjunction with modern medicine. They are gentle and safe and have no side effects. All ages can use them.

In addition to the 38 individual essences, 39th, is Rescue Remedy, is a combination of five flower essences: impatiens, star-of-Bethlehem, cherry plum, rockrose and clematis. This is the first-aid remedy for sudden shock, an accident, a family upset, a stressful event like an exam or an interview, going on stage or giving a speech. One of the single flower remedies, sweet chestnut, is for agonizing mental anguish, total exhaustion, feeling the future is hopeless. Another flower, honeysuckle, helps the bereaved.

The work of Dr. Bach, who died in his sleep in September 1936 shortly after his 50th birthday, lives on with the help of his friends and family. People all over the world use Bach Flower Remedies. His purpose in life was to find what he knew nature had to offer us. There are now hundreds of remedies identified and studied to assist in just about any mental or emotional condition that hinders health. Healthy mind, healthy body. PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Bone Broth

Hot, healthful and nutritious

By Karen Frye

There is a strong resurgence of foods that were consumed many years ago by our ancestors. Our grandmothers made use of every part of the chicken, cow or pig in their recipes. They grew the vegetables, had fruit growing seasonally, and picked wild berries. They milked their own cows, and made their own butter. They were extremely resourceful, and creative, and worked tirelessly with love to prepare meals for the family.

Making soup is one of the best ways to utilize ingredients to make a delicious, healthful meal. Nourishing broths go back to the Stone Age. Soup is a true universal food, and the variations are endless and easy to prepare. Bone broth is one of the oldest and has resurfaced as a food highly beneficial to our health. It contains valuable amino acids, collagen, gelatin and minerals. Many of the nutrients in bone broth are not found in other foods.

Protein in the broth helps build muscles, strong bones and new cells in the body. It is one of the very best sources of natural collagen, which helps support healthy cartilage and connective tissue. Collagen helps form elastin within the skin to maintain youthful appearance, slowing the formation of wrinkles and other signs of aging.

Gelatin heals the gut and increases the growth of beneficial bacteria. The amino acid glutamine is a wonderful healer for the intestines and many digestive issues. It also aids in detoxification while helping the liver function better as it removes toxins. Bone broth is highly beneficial in boosting the immune system and increasing metabolism. In fact, if consumed on a regular basis, it can help all systems and functions throughout the body.

Bone broth can be made at home using grass-fed chicken or beef bones, organic carrots, celery, onions and leeks. Adding some seaweed boosts the trace minerals in the broth. Chef Sueson Vess is our local expert in preparing healthy foods. She regularly teaches classes on broth making and gluten-free foods. Check out her website, She will walk you through the steps of making a delicious bone broth.

You can drink the bone broth as a hot beverage, and you can use it as a base for other soups. You can also find bone broth powders to add to smoothies. Increasingly, research bolsters the case for its amazing health benefits. It’s a tasty and delicious health food that could improve the quality of your life, too.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

The Mighty Onion

A superfood for your garden

By Karen Frye

Superfoods became sought after several years ago, and are still going strong. They are highly nutrient dense in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Usually they are plant based, and sometimes exotic.  Acai, goji berries and moringa are a few of the superfoods that are not typically grown in the U.S. and can be rather expensive to add to your diet. We are more familiar with easy-to-find blueberries and raspberries. 

A vegetable that tops the list of healing foods, and one you should include if you’re planting a garden this spring, is the onion. It has been used throughout the ages to treat and heal health maladies from head to toe. They grow easily here, and can be added to your diet in many ways.

Grown all over the world, onions were one of the most highly revered vegetables in cultures dating back to the Egyptians. They have even been used as currency. Onions were placed in the tombs of kings, including King Tut. 

What makes the onion so rich in healing benefits, even more so than its relative, garlic? They are rich in a potent, well-studied bioflavonoid and powerful antioxidant, quercetin, used to treat seasonal allergies. Quercetin kills cancer cells and prevents plaque buildup in the arteries.

Onions also contain sulfur compounds. These compounds have antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties that have been studied in connection with the prevention and treatment of heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, asthma and many more health problems.

Eating onions regularly can help lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. We think of garlic as a potent remedy for these conditions, and a lot of people take garlic capsules daily for prevention. Actually, onion oil is 10 times more potent than garlic oil. 

Adding onions to your plate can help balance your blood sugar and assist in normal functioning of the liver and kidneys. Women who eat onions daily had a bone density about 5 percent higher than those who only ate onions occasionally. And eating onions regularly may help prevent periodontal disease, by reducing the harmful bacteria that leads to this problem. Even though it’s best to eat them raw, the nutritional benefits are still available if you sauté, steam or bake them. Fried onions, however, lose a lot of value.

Topically, onion juice can be a very effective treatment to reduce scars. It’s so effective that there are some skin care products that use onion extract in their concoctions. A friend shared with me that his mother always reached for a raw onion to rub on insect bites to alleviate the itch. Onion poultice is easy to make, and works wonders for respiratory conditions. Simply slice a few onions and steam them for about 10 minutes. Pat them dry and wrap in a clean medium-sized dish towel. Place the warm (not too hot) poultice on the chest to break up congestion and coughing.

An onion a day may keep the doctor away. After all, food is our best medicine.

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

New Year, New You

Time to ditch the toxins

By Karen Frye

The human body is remarkable. When you realize how much is going on inside — the synchronicity of the organ functions and systems — you’ll see everything works together like a well-oiled machine.

The body renews itself entirely every seven years. Some of the organs, such as the liver, renew themselves every four to five months. Our skin renews every seven days. New cells are formed to replace the old ones. Our bodies are capable of healing and renewing with no effort on our part, though our world today makes the work a lot more challenging.

Environmental toxins, herbicides, chemicals in water, caffeine, alcohol and prescription medications contribute to toxic overloads. Detoxing is not a recent fad. People have been doing various forms of detoxifying for hundreds of years. There are many methods. It is good to find a health care professional to guide you, and if you are on medications, discuss your plans with your health care provider first. There are changes you can make in your life that will give beneficial results with a little effort and willpower.

It is best to change your bad habits permanently into better ones, which may take time. You might just notice that you are feeling so much better through the detox process that you may keep some changes as part of your daily lifestyle.

Prepare yourself for your detox:

Set your mind to succeed. You won’t starve, and your body will appreciate the attention you are devoting to being healthier. Create a journal and record your thoughts and feelings so you can go back and read them later.

Clear your kitchen of the foods you want to avoid so you aren’t tempted. Remove all processed foods, sweets, soft drinks, etc.

Stock your pantry and refrigerator with seasonal fruits and vegetables, preferably organic. Have berries in the freezer to make smoothies.

Plan your schedule so you can get to bed at a reasonable time, and get enough sleep. Sleeping well helps your organs recharge, and assists the elimination of toxins.

Set aside a little time to exercise. Sweat is the body’s way of releasing toxins from the cells. I love Bikram yoga. Not only do you sweat, but the postures stimulate the glands and organs so they function optimally.

Drink lemon water with a pinch of Celtic or Himalayan salt upon rising. Use fresh squeezed lemon juice with warm or hot water. This is something that you might consider doing every day even after you finish your detox. And while we are talking about water, you must increase your water intake to at least 90 ounces. One of the most important functions of drinking a lot of water is how it helps the kidneys and liver do their job flushing toxins.

Replace your morning coffee with a cup of green tea. Matcha green tea contains the highest amount of antioxidants, and is more flavorful than typical green tea. Drink herbal teas throughout the day; dandelion and red clover are my recommendations.

Eliminate red meat, and if you must eat animal protein, choose free-range chicken, or wild salmon (in moderation). Try to eat mostly fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy green salads.

Fiber is important to keep things moving. Chia seeds are an excellent source. They are not only high in fiber, but loaded with omega-3 fatty acid and high in antioxidants. You can add chia seeds to almost anything.

There are “detox kits” that contain herbs to help your body in the process. Please keep in mind that you can do a lot on your own by cleaning up your diet.

You can design your detox for a week or longer. You might find that you really like the way you feel. Often you will sleep better, and have more energy and stamina throughout the day. Your skin will become radiant, and your eyes will be clearer. Digestion will be improved, and your immune system will be stronger.

Whatever you do this year, set yourself up for success. Think healthy thoughts, eat healthy foods, exercise, and most of all, be happy PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Going Against the Grain

By Karen Frye

The holiday season has begun. There will be family gatherings, parties, dinners and more, and the main event is always the food. Come December, we give ourselves permission to eat and drink as much as we want — as we should, because we know that come January we are going to go on that diet, exercise more, and take better care of ourselves. But wouldn’t it be amazing to make it through the holidays without gaining a single pound? Perhaps even losing a few extra? It doesn’t have to be difficult; in fact it’s just the opposite. You can learn how to feel confident and at ease as you maneuver your way around the table, laden with all the delicious food, and never once feel like you are missing out on anything.

Of course it may take a certain amount of willpower and determination. I like to think of this type of challenge as an adventure, one I went on seven years ago myself. I had heard Dr. Joseph Mercola speak at a natural food expo, and got his book The No Grain Diet. I read it but didn’t practice his message until the timing seemed right. I joined a gym, went religiously and did various fad diets, constantly trying to remove the 20 pounds I didn’t need — with minimal success. The words of Dr. Mercola came to me, “if you want to lose weight you must stop eating grain.”

It wasn’t that hard to do. For the record I started this in October, seven years ago. I made it through the holidays eating grain-free, never once feeling sorry that I wasn’t consuming all the sugary, heavy foods that normally I would eat. After the first 30 days I’d only lost a few pounds. The outstanding thing was the clarity of mind that I experienced. That inspired my dedication to continue, and by the fourth month eating this way I had lost the 20 pounds.

A no-grain diet is simple and easy to follow. It’s a lifestyle change more than a diet — that’s a four-letter word. I can live with it and keep the weight off. It’s not like the Atkins Diet, or low-carb diet. Paleo is similar, but a bit more restricted. Simply avoid anything made from a grain — no pasta, rice, bread, crackers, cookies, oatmeal, or cake (unless it’s made with almond flour). One question I am often asked is, “What do you eat?” My reply, “Everything else.”

You can have sweet potatoes, beans, chicken, fish, meat, eggs, healthy fats (avocados, for example) salads and quinoa (which is used like a grain, but is actually a seed). You never have to count calories, or be hungry. You just have to be prepared to have food with you when you are in situations that might leave you without the right choices.

Following this plan can help you feel better in many ways. Your self-esteem improves when you’re in control of your life (and your clothes aren’t so tight). Often, health issues clear up like allergies or digestive problems. Come January, you will have already made the changes in your life in a positive way. Once you’ve reached your desired weight you will never have to diet again. If you make this your way of eating, occasional cheats will be OK. Just don’t do it too often, and always get back on the no-grain path. PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Be Thankful

It only takes a moment

By Karen Frye

Every day, take time to be grateful for the good things in your life as if this is a prescription for your well-being. Make it a daily routine — before you get out of bed each morning is a good time to start. Or sit outside for a few minutes and go over the things in your life that you appreciate. If I don’t have the time before I leave in the morning, I’ll practice while driving to work. Find what works best for you, and make it a daily event.

Be grateful for what you have — family, friends, pets, good health, a beautiful day, the flowers in the spring, the opportunities awaiting us each day, all the little things that we often don’t think much about.

It does not matter how much strife you have in your life. The stress, the challenges that may seem unbearable are all the more reason to adopt this daily practice. After a few weeks, it’ll be like brushing your teeth: You don’t even think about it, you just do it. You will need to be patient in the process, but when the outcome appears you will be pleased.

Focusing our thoughts on gratitude daily, and giving thanks for what’s happening in our lives can bring personal growth that can transform times of worry and strife to experiences that bring happiness and love. Gratitude can boost mental and physical health, improve sleep, and create a better sense of well-being. Staying positive even improves heart health and immune function.

When you focus on what’s good in your life, rather than dwelling on everything that is not, you become more open to receive greater goodness in the future. A good idea is to start a gratitude journal. Each day write 10 things that you are grateful for in that moment. This will help you stay aware of the blessings in your life, and more good will come to you.

Open your heart to love daily, even when life challenges you. Whatever the situation, find something to appreciate about the experience. Practicing thoughts of gratitude can shift the outcome of your day and ultimately your life.

Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to begin being thankful. It takes only a few minutes a day. Start right now, and in a few weeks you will begin to realize how wonderful your life is.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Legacy of Smart Choices

By Karen Frye

have three beautiful daughters who are now grown and have children of their own. One of the most important things I felt that I could do for their well-being while they were little was to make sure they had a healthy diet. No sodas, no artificial colors, preservatives, and nothing processed. They did not go to fast food places. Now I see that they are caring for their babies this way as well.

About 20 years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that doctors work with schools to reduce students’ consumption of soft drinks and unhealthy snacks. The Feingold Association was founded in 1976 by parent volunteers to help families of children with learning and behavioral problems, and chemically sensitive adults. The late Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a pediatric allergist and the chief of allergy at the San Francisco Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, developed the allergy program, which eliminates synthetic food additives that have been shown to trigger hyperactivity, attention deficit and other behavioral problems. The association’s advisory board includes doctors and nurses from a variety of institutions, including Johns Hopkins. You can learn much more about the studies and special diets on their website,

There are stories about schools across the country that have implemented additive-free food options; the resulting difference has been higher test scores, and improved behavioral patterns. Also, the program has reduced the alarming rate of childhood obesity. Restricting junk foods, which are loaded with synthetic additives and sugar, can change a child’s life in a most positive way. Even the kids will notice a difference in how they feel, with less aggressiveness and better concentration in school.

In 1997, the students at Central Alternative High School in Appleton, Wisconsin, were out of control. Violence and discipline problems were everywhere. What the school did was revolutionary. They did not call in the SWAT team; they did not pass out medication. They simply installed a healthy lunch program. Fast-food burgers and fries were no longer an option. Instead, their choices were fresh salads, and meats prepared without preservatives. Whole grains and fresh fruits were added to the menu. Vending machines were removed, and purified water was readily available. As time passed, grades went up, attendance was better, vandalism decreased, and the kids were getting along with each other better.

It may be a farfetched thought that this could become the way we feed our children both at home and at school. If we could do our part to make the healthy choices for our kids, and educate them on the reasons why, there could be a shift in schools — and perhaps less ADD and ADHD — as we see the clear relationship between food and behavior. Make healthy eating a priority for your family, and the reward could be calmer, more attentive children.

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Love Your Skin

And be careful what you put on it

By Karen Frye

Nature’s Own recently enjoyed a milestone birthday. When our health food shop turned
30 this past April, nothing in the store was mainstream. Not even soy milk.

Over the past 10 years, information about eating healthy and reading labels has reached more and more people. Folks have discovered that the foods they eat affect how they feel and that many conditions may even disappear by a change in diet. Grocery stores have expanded their inventory to meet the growing demand for fresh and organic foods. But while we’re paying more attention to what we put in our bodies, not as much notice is given to what we put on our bodies. Our skin is our largest organ. Would you really consider slathering toxic lotion on your liver?

The Enviromental Workers Group is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to educate consumers about the products we buy: if they’re safe; if they’re environmentally friendly; and more. Their website is a reliable source of research and information. When it comes to body care, EWG has rated many of the top brands for safety.

The body care industry has few guidelines, and often there are inert ingredients in products not listed on the label. Some can be harmful, especially with long-term use. Parabens, phythalates, formaldehydes, triclosan and synthetic colors are prevalent in nearly all creams, lotion, lipstick, makeup, shampoo, nail polish, etc. They are typically filled with petroleum by-products as well.  There is a cascade of symptoms that can stem from the toxins you use on your skin daily, including hormone imbalances and premature aging of the skin.

Even sunscreen can be problematic. Most agree that sunscreen use is important to prevent sunburn and skin cancer. We think we are doing the right thing by daily applying sunscreen to protect ourselves from sun damage, and dutifully apply it to our children as well. But some chemicals pose risks of their own. Shop for a sunscreen that is made without oxybenzone and petroleum by-products.

The supplement astaxanthin — the pigment responsible for the reddish color in salmon and trout — is particularly useful in skin and eye health due to its powerful ability to absorb ultraviolent rays, especially UVB rays. It acts like an internal sunscreen, reaching all the layers of the skin. It also slows down the aging of the skin, reducing wrinkles and fine lines. The antioxidant activity of astaxanthin is 6,000 times greater than vitamin C.

Aloe is what we think of for sunburn relief, but my favorite remedy is calendula (a resin from calendula flowers). Bodyceuticals create an excellent calendula, aloe, coconut and kukui nut oil and spray for skin discomfort like sunburn and to relieve itching and redness, diaper rash and windburn. This nourishing oil will help to maintain your tan and minimize peeling. After your long summer days working or playing in the sun, be careful what you put on the beautiful skin you’re in.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Cereal for Breakfast?

Umm . . .maybe not

By Karen Frye

One of the biggest game-changers in the food industry was when processed food became more desirable than fresh food. For some people, the convenience of breakfast cereals became a priority. I clearly remember Saturday grocery shopping with my mother, staring at all the beautiful cereal boxes, and making my choice. I typically went for the Rice Krispies, a pretty boring selection with all the cereals on the market these days.

If I had only known back then, or even cared, I would have stayed far away from the cereal aisle. Cereal is what I call “dead food.”

Most breakfast cereals are heavily marketed as being healthy — low fat, whole grain, high fiber, all natural. When you look at the ingredients, the first few on the list are refined grains and sugar. These are highly processed foods that are loaded with added sugar. The cereal manufacturers are experts at marketing, especially toward children, using bright colors and popular figures to attract attention. Cereal costs a few cents to make, and usually sells for $4-5 a box. Huge profits for a multi-billion-dollar industry.

The way that cereals are manufactured, a process called extrusion, is probably not what you would ever imagine. The grains are mixed with water, processed into a slurry, and placed in a machine called an extruder. This process denatures and alters the structure of an otherwise healthy grain. The grains are then forced out through a tiny hole at a high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little o’s or shreds or flakes, also destroying much of the nutrients. Next, the cereal is sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar as a sealant to give it a crunch. Unfortunately, even the cereals sold in natural food stores are made using this same method.

I do agree that breakfast is an important meal, but you should be mindful of what you choose. Children are the largest consumers of breakfast cereal. It would be wise to serve your family something healthier for the first meal of the day. There are options that could become as easy as pouring milk over extruded grains. Hot cereals like oatmeal are a good option, and can be prepared the night before to eat in the morning. Eggs provide much needed protein in the morning. I like to make deviled or boiled eggs, and they are ready to grab on the go.

Retire your cereal bowl forever, or maybe start filling it with fresh seasonal fruit.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.