Brought to you by a Thunderstorm

At my house we frequently quote our dog owner’s manual that says a dog looks to his owner for “direction, protection, and comfort.”  This morning I was protecting and comforting our beagle from the racket of the thunderstorm that was assaulting our little home with rain, hail, and wind.

If I moved he moved with me.  If I was standing at the sink he wedged himself between me and the cabinets.   Finally, knowing my driveway is impassable and I am not going anywhere, I decided to settle on the couch to read some blogs and check up on my Facebook friends.

It was on Facebook that I read a post about a DIY (Do It Yourself) weed killer.  That stopped me right there in my tracks because for several weeks I have been wanting to write a blog post about natural remedies.  There is no time like the present.

I’ll start with the ol’ Dawn, vinegar, and Epsom salt weed killer concoction.  Many people seem to think of these as benign household products and don’t see any cause for concern about mixing them.

I’m a nurse, but one of my side hustles is lawn care.  I am certified as a commercial applicator with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  For license renewal I have to keep up with continuing education credits.  At a class a few years ago on turfgrass weed control, there was discussion about these DIY weed control concoctions people were making.  The Ohio State University made one and had a turf plot to show how it stacked up against some of the commercial products.  It worked great.  It killed weeds just like it was intended to.  So there you have it.  It’s a toxic concoction because anything that kills plants or insects is a toxin.  Therefore, it needs to be handled with the same care that you would give any other commercial product or synthetic herbicide.   In fact, some of these DIY concoctions should be handled with more care because the toxicity level is actually higher than some commonly used commercial products.

Okay, so that’s one example.

The other “natural” product that has really been flooring me lately is energy drinks.  I can’t even believe that these products are on the market, so widely consumed, and everyone is fine with it.  I admit I bought into them at first too.  I have been known to buy an energy drink in the past.  That is in the past.  I have since realized that these are not safe and aren’t even monitored by the Food and Drug Administration.  At the very least, they should be carrying warnings about their potential to cause arrhythmias.  Let me remind you that arrhythmias can be fatal.

“But look Catherine, it’s all natural,” people will tell me.

The quantities of sugar, caffeine, taurine, ginseng etc. etc. that are put in these cans – and let me remind you often multiple servings in a can – is obscene.  Don’t fool yourself. Energy drinks are not healthy just because they are “natural.” People use them when they work out and guess what?  Energy drinks work to dehydrate the body.  That’s not what you need before or after a workout.  The companies who manufacture these drinks are just banking that people will trust them.  Wake up, they are just plying their wares for your money with no regard to the effects of their products.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that energy drinks and alcohol are a bad combination.  Many things shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol and energy drinks are no exception.  Yet there are plenty of alcohol drink recipes that include energy drinks.  Why are we doing this?

Drink some water instead.  

(If you absolutely must buy into the commercialism being thrust upon us – have a low-calorie Gatorade.  Even though Gatorade or other sports drinks are unnecessary, at least the body can flush out electrolytes that it doesn’t need so the drinks aren’t harmful. Unless you count the sugar, but that’s another post for another day.)

Melatonin, essential oils, plant-based… these are also on my list of “natural” remedies to question.

For one thing, melatonin can thin the blood.  My nephew took 4 at bedtime a few weeks ago and ended up with a nosebleed that wouldn’t quit and two nasal rockets to contend with for a few days.  If you are already on a blood thinner you definitely might want to approach melatonin with some caution.

Essential oils.  I love them!  But let’s be sensible about them.  If you are taking prescription drugs Always check for potential interaction.

People act as if something that is plant-based is automatically harmless.  I love plants too! However, there are plenty of plants that have toxins in them.  Don’t let this sales pitch fool you.  Just because something is good in low quantities doesn’t mean you need to overdose on it.  Think about quantity.

Well, my dog is sleeping.  I think my rant is over, though the rain continues.

I’d be interested to hear you thoughts – good or bad – on “natural” products.

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