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Is a night of relaxation at home ever complete without lighting your favorite candle? Or what about a romantic dinner with your boo? You’ve gotta have your candles! Candles bring peace and ambiance to any room or setting. But before lighting that candle, and allowing that cinnamon apple candle to send you into bliss, consider that some candles can give you a lot more than a sweet smell.
Candles Produce Soot
When you light that cute cinnamon apple candle, its almost like starting a little factory in your home. Soot is a known carcinogen, as well as causing respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Standard wicks made of stiffener, wire and cotton. Using pure cotton wicks will completely rid the problem of soot. If your candle doesn’t have a cotton wick, trimming the wick, and extinguishing the candle by covering it with a lid after extinguishing it will help prevent soot according to an article at the candleers.com you can see below.
Some Candles Emit Dangerous Chemicals
Chemists from the American Chemical Society found that candles made with paraffin wax releases many bad chemicals including formaldehyde, toluene, fragrance, and paraffin. You definitely wouldn’t want these chemicals floating around in your home:
1. Formaldehyde: this chemical can cause damage to the respiratory system, eyes, and is cancer-causing according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
2. Toluene: a chemical typically used in chemicals like paint pigments and solvents. Toluene is known to cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, anxiety and respiratory problems. Long term exposure can cause kidney damage according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
3. Fragrance: a chemical linked to a multitude of health effects including cancer, reproductive system problems, allergies, and sensitivities.
4. Paraffin: a chemical that most candles are made of (i.e Yankee Candle Co, Bath and Body Works, etc.). But paraffin comes with a whole host of health problems including: cancer, chiefly breast cancer. A study in Long Island, NY found that women exposed to paraffin had a 50% greater risk of breast cancer. check out the link below.
Luckily, there are other alternatives to those lovely Yankee Candles or the Bath and Body Works Candles you can enjoy.
Other Wax Candles
Soy candles and Beeswax candles like the ones listed below are 100% paraffin and toxin free and with essential oils. Soy candles also produce a strong scent like paraffin wax. So you can enjoy the scent of a pine forest while reaping the benefits of essential oils! Not only that, but some of the candles listed below have cotton wicks so they are soot-free!
Diffusers are another great option! They’re pretty easy to use and versatile. So you can have the home smelling of orange zest in the morning and frakincense and vanilla at night. Not only that, but they provide humidity to your home which could be great for your skin and hair. Check out the diffuser sets listed below!
While its easy to think, “hey, I’ve been using scented candles for years and haven’t had any health problems or been hospitalized.” The idea with toxins often is that “the dose makes the poison.” Thus you could expose yourself to a dangerous toxin as long as it is within safe limits. But it’s important to consider that any toxin anywhere, is still a toxin. It can still have an effect on you even if you don’t see it today. So limiting your exposure to toxic chemicals like the ones found in candles would be the best idea to keep your home safe from toxins but smelling great.
Your immune system is one player in a wonderful team that is your body. On a team, each player must do their job in order to to be successful. If one player is slacking, the whole team is slacking. In this article, I’ll detail some practical things to add to your lifestyle that contribute to a healthy immune system. I want to preface this to say, I am no doctor, dietician, or nurse. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in biology and have done extensive personal research on the immune system. I am no expert in any form! Now, onto the article!
The Heroes of Your Immune System
First, lets talk about the main heroes in the immune system: The White Blood Cells
B cells: these cells produce antibodies that mark invading bad germs (i.e bacteria, viruses, fungi) that make their way into your body. Antibodies (immunoglobulins) are unique to whichever germ infects your body. So you can have an antibody for the flu virus, or an antibody for yeast infections.
Memory B cells: they keep a “memory” of previous germs and remain in you body for life. So if you were to get infected again, your body will already know how to mount up a defense and use the same strategy that worked the first time to defeat the invader. This is why usually when you get sick with the same virus or bacteria a second time, usually its not as severe. For example, my husband caught COVID twice: the first time he was sick for around a week and recovered. The second time, he was sick for one night and recovered.
T cells: killer cells who destroy invading germs that are marked for destruction by the antibodies.
Memory T cells: work similarly to memory B cells in that they retain a memory of the strategy to defeat an invading germ.
Natural Killer cells: kill invading germs in acute infections (i.e. a splinter infected with germs would be killed first by natural killer cells).
Macrophages: large immune cells that literally eat invading germs (phagocytosis).
This is a basic sampling of the many workers in your immune system. I’ve included this list because some of the research I talk about mention these guys. These guys require help to maintain their function and strength. That help comes from a variety of things starting with the food you eat.
“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food”-Hippocrates, Ancient Greek physician
The following is a list of some foods, supplements and practices you can incorporate in your diet that help your immune system stay healthy and work properly. I’ve also provided suggested quantity per day and some links to where you can buy these products!
This lovely little bulb is fantastic for the immune system! According to a large review of garlic research, garlic is shown to stimulate immune cells like natural killer cells, and other white blood cells. Garlic also regulates antibody production.
Garlic can be incorporated into many different recipes from breakfast to dinner! Chop up a few cloves and place in pasta, sprinkle garlic powder on your eggs or avocado toast! The possibilities are endless with this lovely bud.
Loved by Pooh bears and people althrough history! Honey is a wonder product with many benefits for the immune system.
According to a large scientific review of the benefits of honey, scientists found honey works as a virucide, and has proven its effectiveness on many viruses including HIV, Flu virus, herpes simplex virus, and varicella-zoster virus.
Honey acts as an antimicrobial, the antibacterial properties of honey can speed up the healing process and directly kill bacteria. Honey also acts as a fungicide and antiviral. Honey can suppress viral growth by inhibiting viral replication and/or viral activity. Honey has proved its potency against several RNA and DNA viruses i.e. influenza virus, varicella-zoster virus (VZV), rubella, herpes simplex virus.
Simply substituting Manuka or clover coney for sugar in tea or coffee, or substituting for sugar in recipes can be a great way to incorporate this into your everyday life. Check out the honey below!
Green tea is another great immune booster. In an article at Science Daily, scientists detail how green tea contains powerful compounds that increase the number of T cells that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease.
I personally love green tea. But I probably drink no more than 1 cup every other day or once a week. In the January 2016 review in the International Journal of Cardiology, people who didn’t consume green tea were at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke compared to regular green tea drinkers. Specifically, people who consumed 1 cup or more of green tea each day were at a reduced risk for heart attacks and stroke. While people who drank 10 cups or more had reduced cholesterol levels compared to moderate green tea drinkers who consumed 3 cups or less per day.
Ginger has long been known and used for its anti-inflammatory properties. An extensive review article demonstrated that ginger is an effective antimicrobial which can help in treating infectious diseases.
Ginger can be easily incorporated into recipes. You can use powdered ginger, or whole ginger. There are also ginger chews out there that are delicious. I personally enjoy sliced ginger with honey in tea for a quick immune boost!
Echinacea is an herb that can help you quickly recover from colds and the flu. Many clinical trials have shown that people who take Echinacea as soon as they feel sick reduce the severity of their cold and have fewer symptoms than those who do not take the herb.
A review of 14 clinical trials found that echinacea reduced the chance of developing a cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1 to 4 days.
When I had COVID, I drank elderberry tea with echinacea daily, and it greatly helped my recovery. Check out the tea below that helped me.
Essential oils are another great thing to add to your lifestyle. A study examining essential oils effects on the immune system found that pregnant women who used lavender essential oil every other week for ten weeks had higher antibody levels after the massage.
According to clinical dietician Cara Mars with the UC Yampa Valley, states that peppermint oil has antiviral properties and can help increase your immunity.
Essential oils like lavender, peppermint, and spearmint oil can be incorporated into your lifestyle through essential oil roll-ons, using a diffuser, or even adding a few drops to your favorite shampoo, conditioner or body wash. Be careful though! Some people experience allergic reactions from essential oils. So do a spot test on your skin before using. Even standing under a small boiling pot of water with 10-15 drops of essential oil in it works just as well. When I was sick with an upper respiratory infection, I had essential oils like peppermint and lavender going all day in my room. This greatly helped with my recovery. Check out the organic essential oils I use and love below!
Ahh, The sunshine vitamin! Vitamin D is created in the skin during sun exposure and contributes to a healthy immune system. Numerous research studies demonstrate that Vitamin D plays an important part in fighting antimicrobials like bacteria and viruses, and increases production of antibodies.
Simply going outside and getting 10-15 minutes of sunlight is sufficient. Unless you’re Black like me and need at least 30 minutes outside. But what if you work indoors most days? Well, I take 5000IU according to holistic women’s doctor Dr. Jolene Brighten’s suggestion. Some studies suggest a high daily intake of vitamin D (1000-5000 IU) is needed to maintain optimal blood levels. Definitely consult your doctor to see what’s best for you.
Best source of Vitamin D: Sunlight, egg yolks, red meat, salmon, herring.
Zinc used to treat the common cold has been well reported in research. Zinc works as an antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory. Research shows zinc is crucial for normal development and function of immune system cells including natural killer cells. Macrophages also are affected by zinc deficiency. Phagocytosis and antibody production all are affected by zinc deficiency. The researchers also found zinc deficiency adversely affects the growth and function of T and B cells.
Research suggests 10mg of highly absorbable zinc is recommended. Definitely consult your doctor to see what’s best for you.
Foods high in zinc: Red meat, shellfish, legumes, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and eggs.
Everyone knows vitamin C is worth its weight in gold for the immune system and the body in general. A large, extensive review demonstrated Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of the immune system. Vitamin C also supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens (i.e. mucus membranes, internal barrier in lining of intestines, and skin). The Mayo Clinic recommends a daily amount of vitamin C of 65 to 90 milligrams (mg) a day, and the upper limit is 2,000 mg a day. Definitely consult your doctor to see what’s best for you.
Foods high in Vitamin C: elderberry, oranges, lemons, limes, papaya, mango.
Exercise, Exercise. We hear it all the time. But exercise has so many wonderful benefits to the body. Research shows during and after physical exercise, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are released, and white blood cells circulation increases. This has an effect on the lower incidence, intensity of symptoms and mortality in viral infections observed in people who exercise regularly, and suggest a benefit in the response to viral communicable diseases.
The Mayo clinic suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of hard aerobic activity a week as well as strength training for all muscle groups two times a week.
While a healthy immune system is super important, its also important that your whole body is healthy as well. Yes, incorporate some of these foods or practices to your lifestyle, but don’t give too much attention to just your immune system. You wanna make sure the whole team is working together at its best.