There are many things in the world that people are passionate about. Some are passionate about sports, some are passionate about helping others, and a few that we know are even passionate about farming. Everyone has their own interests, some more interesting than others. Jess Sunseri’s happens to be fascinating.
“We don’t keep any chemicals in our house,” she explained. “I try to find all-natural remedies for everything that ails us and for cleaning my house too. That way when I’m cleaning and little Peter picks up the bottle and sprays himself in the face, I don’t have to worry because it’s completely natural and won’t hurt him.”
Her staples are Thieves Household Cleaner and essential oils. You can find these products through Young Living Essential Oils or if you live near the farm and want to support local, you can most likely find them at Dewalt’s in Butler.
“If you want to start your own essential oils collection, start with a few basics,” Jess advises. “I would recommend lavender, tea tree, rosemary, chamomile, and peppermint. I have a whole cupboard full, but those are my favorites.”
Jess and partner Pete King, along with their children Jillian and little Peter, don’t use any manufactured products in their house. Jess has found ways to cure and clean almost anything using plants and herbs, many that are grown right outside her front door. And many can be used for more than one thing.
“That’s the nice thing about it,” she explains. “You don’t have to have a specific herb. There are so many options available, all based on where you live.”
The following remedies and cleaning tips are a collection of Jess’s favorites. There are countless more that we didn’t get to and you may see them in a future issue of the magazine. Jess warns that when you use the essential oils she mentions, always check and make sure they’re approved for your child’s age range, and always use a carrier oil. You don’t want to use full-strength essential oils unless you specifically read that you can.
“I believe that everything on this Earth can heal, even if it hasn’t been researched or discovered,” Jess explains. “That’s why animals know what to eat in the wild. Everything is there for a reason and flowers aren’t there just to look pretty.”
Replacement for Vick’s Vapo Rub
I use a combination of oils that I mix myself. The carrier is jojoba oil, which I get at either Mountain Rose Herbs or Piping Rock. If you’re local you can probably get it from Dewalt’s in Butler. With the jojoba oil, I mix 5 drops of peppermint, 5 drops of lavender, and 5 drops of rosemary essential oils. Peppermint is very relaxing and it has antispasmodic and antimicrobial properties. Lavender is calming and it soothes exhaustion, and the rosemary is antiseptic. You can actually use it in any household cleaners because of that property. It helps sore muscles and dandruff too. I keep my Vick’s replacement in a little dispenser with a roll on the top to apply it. I put it behind Peter’s ears, on his chest, and on the bottom of his feet. Your feet absorb everything. So if you’re stepping on chemicals, your feet are absorbing them.
I do a couple different things when we all have colds. First, I’ll make a vinegar drink. It’s warm water, a tablespoon of vinegar, a splash of fresh lemon juice, a dash of cayenne, and honey to taste. The honey helps break up congestion, and the cayenne opens up your circulation, delivering fresh blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your whole body. Cayenne also has a ton of Vitamin C and aids in digestion. All of those ingredients are just naturally good for your body. We’ll drink that pretty often throughout the day if we have a cold or if you are just feeling sick.
Another thing we’ll do is chew up and swallow a half a clove of raw garlic. Garlic is a natural antibiotic. If you chew it up really quickly and swallow it with water, it’s not that bad. We do this three times a day when we’re sick. For little Peter, I’ll put it in warm water and honey. He takes it easier that way and the honey soothes a sore throat too.
You can also make echinacea root. Echinacea is a purple daisy flower, but we just use the roots to make a tincture. I soak the root of the plant in alcohol for 6-8 weeks in a cool, dark place, then jar it. We then take this tincture once a day with water to help boost the immune system when we’re sick. If you’re sick, anything with Vitamin C in it is going to be really helpful. We take the echinacea root up to three times a day if we’re really sick. It’s antibiotic and antiviral. You can replicate this process with dandelion root. Dandelion is a natural detox for the body. It’s even been shown to help heal cancer. It’s really high in potassium and Vitamin A. The key is to harvest it in early spring before it flowers. We take 30-40 drops (or two droppers) of the dandelion root with water once a day. It’s a natural supplement.
I have pretty severe asthma. I asked my doctor if I would ever be able to be off my medication and he said I wouldn’t. I started look at herbs and plants and natural remedies for asthma. The first thing I found was mullein, which is an herb that helps in things like bronchitis, pneumonia, and coughing. You can make tea from it’s leaves and sip that while you’re having an attack. This has worked for me but it doesn’t work for everybody.
The second thing I tried was red clover. I take just the flower from the plant, break up two of them, and roll them up in cigarette paper. I smoke it and within 10 minutes, I’m not wheezing anymore. To me, that’s the most amazing thing I’ve discovered. I’ve been able to replace my inhaler with red clover cigarettes. I was very leery at first. You would think that smoking with asthma would only complicate the condition, but it works. For someone who used an inhaler for 22 years, not having to rely on it for the past six months has been amazing.
Jewelweed is a natural antidote for poison ivy. It grows right next to it, actually. There are two ways you can use it. First, if you know you’ve touched poison ivy, take a few jewelweed leaves, chew them up, and then rub that mixture on the affected area. You can do this immediately after you touch the poison ivy, or you can do it after the rash appears. The second way you can use jewelweed is to harvest about two handfuls worth. Boil that in a large pot of water until the water turns brown. Let the water cool and strain it. Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. When you have poison ivy, just grab an ice cube and rub it on the affected area. The next day it will be totally gone. It’s hard to believe. One time Miss Lisa had poison ivy all over her face and near her eyes. She didn’t believe me either, but she used one of my ice cubes and the next day, the poison ivy was gone.
Bee Stings or Stinging Nettle Stings
For these, you can use a plantain. It’s a weed that grows everywhere around here. You just need to find a clean leaf, not one that’s been stepped on or run over. Find a clean leaf, chew it up and put that on your sting. It works on wounds too. Plantain is a confirmed antimicrobial and it stimulates the healing process. You can also use it as a leaf tea for coughs, diarrhea, dysentery, or bronchitis. You can use it on any kind of blister, sore, swelling, or insect bite since it is antimicrobial and an anti-inflammatory. It’s almost a cure-all. Almost, but not quite.
When you aren’t being stung by them, you can actually use stinging nettles in tea too. Combine it with chamomile and rosebuds, and it’s a great way to replace minerals and nutrients in your body. It’s also a good way to give kids a midday boost. There’s no caffeine in it, but it replaces minerals to give you more energy.
I have two different remedies for earaches. First, you can use mullein flowers like I use for my asthma sometimes. Put the flowers in a jar, pour oil over them, and keep the jar in a cool, dark place for six weeks. After the six weeks, strain it and put it in a dark-colored jar. Add a teaspoon of Vitamin E oil to keep the carrier oil from going rancid. Then when you have an earache, just put a few drops in each ear, as long as the eardrum isn’t ruptured.
The other thing we do for earaches is to use an onion. Cut it in half and put it in the oven for a while to warm it up. When you bring it out, wrap it in a towel and put that on your ear. Onions have antibiotic properties that help the healing. You can also put half an onion on your chest to help when you have a cold. Garlic oil works for ear and chest infections too.
Mouth Problems or Infections
If you’re having gum problems or find an infection in your mouth, you can use coconut oil. The process is called pulling. You take a spoonful in your mouth and swish it around for about 20 minutes. It sounds like a long time and it can feel like a long time too. I’ve found that it helps if you find something to do while you’re swishing. Check your email or fold laundry. Just something to keep you busy. The properties of coconut oil allow it to attach to bacteria. When you spit it out after 20 minutes, you’re also spitting out that bacteria. You’re removing the bad bacteria from your mouth, while also promoting healthy teeth and gums. We use coconut oil for a lot of things. We use it as a moisturizer and we also use it in Pete’s hair to keep the frizz down. You can wash with it, but it tends to clog the drain, which is a problem we’ve had a few times.
Natural Face Wash
This isn’t exactly a remedy but you can use it as one if you have acne or an irritation on your face. The face wash that I make is a mixture of one part each of jojoba oil, avocado oil, and castor oil. Then I just add 15 drops of lavender and 15 drops of tea tree essential oils in a two ounce bottle. The lavender is an anti-inflammatory and the tea tree is antiseptic so it helps treat skin problems and infections. Scientifically, oil dissolves oil. So when I wash my face with this combination of oils, I’m clearing away all the bad oils. I’m not stripping my skin, but replacing the negative oils with good ones. Your skin needs oils and your face stays hydrated. If you use harsh chemicals or soap, you’re taking away that hydration and oil, which can cause irritation, infection, pimples, and blackheads.
Cleaning Your House
It’s important to treat your body with natural products, but you also need to treat the things around you with natural products as well, since you come into contact with them on a daily basis. I use Seventh Generation for dish soap and detergent and I use Thieves Essential Oil Blend Household Cleaner for pretty much everything else. It even works on the toilet. It kills bacteria so you don’t have to use bleach. I do use a non-toxic toilet bowl cleaner with it too. But for almost everything else in the house, I use only Thieves.
I combine two cap-fuls of Thieves with water and lavender essential oil to make it smell nice. I use it on the stove, sink, bathroom, countertops, appliances, windows...I always have my Thieves spray. It can be kind of expensive. I think my bottle cost $24. But I’ve had it since January, so it’s lasted me almost an entire year.
For the shower, I use the Seventh Generation dish soap or sometimes I’ll use Dawn if we have it. I combine dish soap and vinegar in a spray bottle and just add water. We have a lot of iron in our water at the farm and it turns everything orange. If I can keep up with the cleaning and I use the dish soap, the shower won’t turn orange. To scrub it, I use a crocheted rag made out of tulle. I keep one in the shower and one in the sink and they work really well. I’m going to need more soon, actually.
For the floors, when I’m not using Thieves, I use either a quarter cup of apple cider or a quarter cup of white vinegar. Combine that with 20 drops of an essential oil, and it’ll clean the floor right up. My favorite combination of essential oils to use in the mixture is lavender, tea tree, and rosemary. Lavender and tea tree have powerful cleaning agents in them.
I get my laundry detergent from Young’s Mercantile, the same people who make the soaps we sell at the Market. It’s called Linda’s Old-Fashioned Laundry Soap. All that’s in it is water, a blend of coconut, palm, and soybean oils, citric acid, sodium carbonate, and sodium tetraborate. One gallon can do up to 100 loads of laundry. I get five gallons for $35, which I think is a great deal. Sometimes we’ll trade for goat milk too. I use two tablespoons of detergent, a shake of Arm & Hammer All-Natural Super Washing Soda, and throw in 10 drops of an essential oil. The detergent has no scent so the essential oil is to make sure the clothes come out smelling clean and fresh.