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Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
Submitted comments will be moderated and approved within 24 hours.

Local Honey Helps Allergies

You may already know that raw, local honey can reduce allergies, but here’s why.

Unprocessed honey, which contains bits and pieces of bee pollen and honey (and sometimes even the honey comb, as well as propolis and live enzymes) is a super immune system booster.

The reason local honey is particularly effective is because the bees are collecting pollen from the very same plants that you are exposed to, and it will be present in the honey. Though it may sound strange that the very same pollen that causes problems for our bodies with direct exposure can also be the antidote to allergies reactions after it is processed by bees, but it is true. Apitherapy (medical treatments derived from bee products) goes back 5000 years to China and the Middle East.

This good effect works best when honey is taken a little bit (a couple of teaspoons) each day for several months prior to the pollen season.

Now, the other day I was walking through my local flea market, and passed a booth where a woman was selling seasonal local honey! This was the first time I had seen this and I was delighted! The beekeeper explained that she bottles the honey just as she takes it out of the hive. Of course, bees would produce honeys with different pollens and different flavors throughout the year because different plants are producing pollen in different seasons. In our consumer world where most everything is produced for uniformity, this seasonal difference is eliminated. But here it was, in glass jars right in front of me.

These bees pollinate strawberries and blueberries in the winter, citrus in the spring, watermelons in summer and many other plants. The strawberry honey I tried tasted vividly of strawberries. It was delicious!

So look for local honey at your farmer’s market, flea market, and natural food stores, and see if you can find some that is also seasonal.

Here’s a seasonal honey from New England: Carlisle Honey.

Advance: Researcher studying honey as possible allergy remedy
Local Honey and Allergies

NOTE: Some people can have allergic reactions to the honey itself, so proceed with caution if you are very sensitive.

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Honey Can Help Prevent Cancer

In a study at the University of California, Davis, when research subjects were fed four or more tablespoons of buckwheat honey each day, after 29 days blood samples showed increased levels of antioxidants that help protect the body against cancer and heart disease.

But you don’t need to eat this much honey and it doesn’t need to be buckwheat to be effective. The rule of thumb is: the darket the honey, the more antioxidants.

Do eat your honey raw, and space it out throughout the day to minimize blood sugar spikes. Eating it with fat or protein will also help keep blood sugar even.

Use Honey to Eliminate “Free-Radicals”

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water filter confusion- help!

Question from Jessica

Hi Debra,

Thank you for your excellent and insightful early pioneering into household greening and health questions.

I have some water filter questions. I understand the basic types of filters (carbon, reverse osmosis, and distillation, or a combo) and I am looking for an excellent filter for drinking water, as well as a whole house alternative if I decide to do that, or recommend it to others.

The problem is that so many brands and websites are incomplete, misleading, or confusing. There is just too much information! I spent almost an hour talking to a guy that sells a water filter that Dr. Andrew Weil uses, and at the end of the conversation, STILL couldn’t tell what I should do, or what to tell other people who ask me all the time. (I did, however, figure out that distillation plus carbon is my best bet, maybe- but still have no idea which one to get.) So here are my questions:

Sorry for the length of the question, but there is not a lot on this out there, and I sincerely appreciate your feedback!


Debra’s Answer

Well, Jessica, I understand your bewilderment. There is a lot of information to understand and apply in making decisions about water filters. I’m working on writing a guide to water filters just to address this, but in the meanwhile I will attempt to answer your questions. There’s also a whole chapter about choosing water filters in Home Safe Home.

1. There is not ONE particular type of water filter that I recommend because each source of water needs to have the type of filter appropriate to it, depending on the pollutants that need to be removed. So you need to find out, number one, what is in your water, and then match the appropriate filter to it.

2. Water filters have changed a lot in the past few years and I need to review what is currently available (thus the aforementioned guide). But that takes time. It’s a big project that I need to work in between everything else I am doing. A fair price could be a wide range, depending on what you are buying and the size of the filter–how much water is being filtered.

3. Water ionizers do not filter water. They split the water molecule to make two batches of water–one “acid” and the other “alkaline.” I don’t consider them to be dangerous. My understanding is that the alkaline water is more “alive” and closer to water in it’s natural state than tap water is.

4. I haven’t done an environmental analysis on the different types of water filters. Offhand I would say a distiller uses electricity, reverse osmosis wastes water, and a carbon filter doesn’t do either.

Since choosing a water filter is a very individual decision, I can best help by discussing your needs and options in a telephone consultation.

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Blog Will Resume March 26

I’m taking a Spring Break to go speak at the Women’s Wellness Retreat in Lake George NY, sponsored by Natural Health magazine.

I won’t be moderating the blog while I’m away, but you are welcome to post new questions and comments and I will review and post them when I return.

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Long-term effects of formaldehyde exposure

Question from TZ

I am an artists who uses acrylic mediums in large quantity. This December I spent a particularly intense period of time using these mediums. They contain small amounts of ammonia and formaldehyde. As it was the dead of winter, I did not have adequate ventilation. I immediately developed intense insomnia. The insomnia continued, even though my exposure stopped. It may be complicated by a growing anxiety about sleeping. I use cotton flannel sheets at home. Are there long term effects to this kind of exposure? If so, how can they be reversed? Do I need to see a doctor familiar with chemical exposure?

Debra’s Answer

Exposure to formaldehyde such as you had can effect the immune system in the long run and make your body more sensitive to formaldehyde and other chemcials, resulting in multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS).

You can recover from this, though it will take minimizing your exposure to chemicals and various other steps.

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Insecticides in Delivery Trucks?

Question from SVE

Hi Debra,

I have tried to find out if companies spray their mail trucks – USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc., and I can’t get answers – no one seems to know.

Do you have any suggestions about how to find out if certain companies do this? I would like to find a domestic mail delivery service that does not spray or uses natural methods. I am very sensitive to insecticides and I believe spray residues are getting on packages that I receive.

I am also suspecting that big containers are being sprayed inside – the ones stacked on big ships and used to ship cargo internationally. I reacted to a large package that I know was shipped over to the US in one of those large containers (according to the mail order company).

Thanks so much, Debra. I LOVE your blog and website!


Debra’s Answer

I’m certain that one can assume international cargo is sprayed with pesticides. has this to say about pesticides used on ships containing international cargo:

This may also be true for cargo transported in trucks, as the need to control pests would be similar. I remember a few years ago there was a short-lived television show called “Medical investigation” in which the characters (playing doctors from the National Institute of Health) had to solve the mystery of what was making people sick. In one episode, a number of teenage girls got very ill after wearing jeans that had been contaminated with pesticides during shipment in a truck. (That may be fiction, but may also be based in fact.)

Here is an article that states, “Workers may also be exposed to pesticides on treated grain being brought to the truck cargo facility in trucks or rail cars.” Grain, Grain Milling and Grain-based Consumer Products also says, “Pesticides are used in the grain and grain-processing industries to control insects, rodents, birds, mould and so on. Some of the more common pesticides are phosphine, organophosphates and pyrethrins. Potential health effects can include dermatitis, dizziness, nausea and long-term problems with liver, kidney and nervous system functions.” So pesticides are being applied to grains beyond those applied in the field.

Since many people are ordering organic and natural goods on the internet because they aren’t available locally, this bears further looking into, if contamination with toxic chemicals to these products could occur during shipping.

That said, I don’t want to single out delivery services. Pesticide spraying could be a problem with any shipping from manufacturer to retail outlet.

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Mold In Bathrooms

Question from Tricia

Hi, I need help getting of mold in the bathroom it is marble and I use almost everything I can think of to clean it. It is still there. I live in Honolulu and there is a lot of moisture. Can some one help me. Please

Debra’s Answer

I just happen to have an article I wrote on this very subject, which was published a few years ago in Natural Home magazine.

I’ve posted it as a COMMENT to this entry…

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Produce Wash

Question from Marcy

I’m looking to make my own produce wash to remove the wax, residue, pesticides, etc. Can someone provide a recipe for me?

I appreciate the help!

Debra’s Answer

I don’t generally recommend produce washes as I don’t believe they can remove waxes, pesticides, etc. Better to buy organically grown food. I just rinse mine with filtered water.

Readers, your suggestions?

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Anolon Cookware

Question from Pam

We are transitioning to a non-toxic household. My hubby has gone through and discarded all the toxic cleaners, etc from our home. I’m wondering about my cookware… it’s Anolon. What is your opinion on this type of cookware?


Pam (WI)

Debra’s Answer

From the descriptions I could find, it appears to be anodized aluminum with a nonstick finish. While anodized aluminum is fine with me, I stay away from nonstick finishes.

For more on cookware, type “cookware” into my on-site search engine (click on the bg purple SEARCH button in the right hand column of every page).

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