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Extraordinary Household Items You Already Own

When imagination colors your vision, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Inside your cupboard there are likely items that have been sitting there for ages. Instead of bypassing these ordinary marvels, why not look at them with an eye toward possibility? For extra insight, we turned to Chinese medicine specialist, Tsao-lin Moy, founder of Integrative Healing Arts, to share her holistic wisdom with us.


Baking Soda

What is it? Aka sodium bicarbonate, is a naturally occurring chemical compound. Keep in mind, store-bought baking soda is usually mass-produced through a process of combining sodium carbonate (soda ash) and carbon dioxide. The resulting chemical reaction is baking soda. 


What can you do with it? Aside from making your blueberry muffins rise, and your laundry clean, you can use baking soda for oral hygiene. Moy likes the texture of baking soda for toothpaste, and says “Baking soda in water as a rinse can help reduce gum inflammation and canker sore pain, as well as reduce acidity in the mouth.” 


Also a quick fix for acid Indigestion, Moy suggests combining, “¼ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water to settle the stomach.” Note: if you have chronic acid reflux, Moy advises getting checked by a doctor to be sure it's not a more serious condition.



What is it?

White Vinegar is an acidic liquid created by fermenting a solution of alcohol and water. Apple Cider vinegar is made with chopped apples and water, the apples are given time, so that the sugar inside is allowed to ferment.


What can you do with it?

White vinegar is excellent for pickling veggies. For DIY steps, Moy says use, “½ vinegar and ½ water, a bit of salt, blanch sliced vegetables 5 minutes, drain, then put in a mason jar with spices, vinegar and some olive oil, garlic etc. Refrigerate.” Those pickled veggies are also a digestion Remedy. “The tartness starts salivation and helps trigger the digestive process in the stomach so food will be more enjoyable,” says Moy. 


Clear your drain: instead of pouring harsh chemicals down your sink or tub, Moy says, “White vinegar can help with slow water draining. Poor it down the drain and it can break up some of the fats that get deposited from soap and shampoo.” Although, if you use chemical-based hair care products, Moy says vinegar will not work.


Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: For trouble with gas and bloating, Moy recommends, a tsp apple cider vinegar water, 30 minutes before a meal. Moy says it “has antimicrobial properties that can help balance gut bacteria, and research shows, in particular with e.coli, staphylococcus, and candida, that it may lower inflammation.” 


Partner Vinegar and Baking Soda for Cleaning

Moy says, “white vinegar and baking soda work like Yin and Yang, moving towards a state of balance, or in this case neutralization.” How does it work? ‘“Vinegar is acidic and will give off a proton when encountering a base substance to neutralize it and break it down by making a salt that is water soluble. Baking soda is alkaline and will “steal” a proton from something that is acidic to neutralize it and make it a salt that is water soluble,”’ says Moy.

Witch Hazel

What is it?

Witch Hazels are flowering plants used in folk/herbal medicine for centuries, traditionally by Native Americans. The leaves and bark of the plant are combined with distilled water to create what we call witch hazel, purchased at any pharmacy. Moy says, the type of witch hazel sold in stores is usually distilled and highly concentrated, intended for topical use only.


What can you do with it?

With natural anti-inflammatory benefits, witch hazel is often used as an astringent. Add a tablespoon to rosewater to enhance its effectiveness and shelf-life. Use it to relieve bug bite itching, and reduce swelling. It’s great for healing skin. Moy says, “It helps with swollen veins such as hemorrhoids and varicosities. Also, because of it’s drying effect it can be healing for “poison ivy, by drying the oils that cause the skin rashes and itching.”


Arrowroot Powder

What is it?

Arrowroot is an herb (Maranta arundinacea) that originated in the Rainforest. The powder is a starchy substance, rich in potassium and B vitamins, created from the plant’s roots.  


What can you do with it?

Use as a holistic remedy used to aid in digestion, often given to treat IBS. It’s also antifungal and can be applied topically instead of talc to combat athlete's foot and other yeast related conditions. A favorite for plant-based cooking and baking, arrowroot powder is a fantastic multipurpose ingredient. It can be substituted for cornstarch to create dessert custards and puddings, and because it’s gluten and grain-free, it’s lovely in bread as well.  

*Note: when using holistic remedies, check side effects, and consult with a doctor to make sure they are safe for you.



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