Health Hacks From My Mama
Moms are unarguably amazing, and in so many ways, my mom was my greatest teacher. Looking back, it feels like the greatest lessons that she taught me were unintentional, since I often just hovered around and watched her do her thing. I learned diligence and commitment while watching her hunched over books, studying to earn her college degree after coming home from a full time job and making dinner for three kids. I learned humility and forgiveness by witnessing her ability to overcome ego and often being the first to extend peace offerings. And I get to share this post because I learned how to inexpensively and naturally take care of my body by observing her health & skincare routines.
Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s Maybelline? Nah, she probably just learned it from her mama.
Mama’s Health Hack #1: Oral Hygiene Matters aka “Don’t be in my face with that stank breath.”
To avoid being in people’s faces with stank breath, do the following:
Tongue Scraping: You know that white gunk that covers your tongue? Mostly not detrimental to your health, but the bacteria build up can create and hold bad odors. Brushing your tongue gently with your toothbrush helps, but to really clear it use a metal tongue scraper or literally go to your kitchen, grab a metal spoon, and gently scrape. Be sure to rinse your mouth after.
DIY Mouthwash: Mom doesn’t like a ton of chemicals. Be like mom. Mix a few (2-3) drops of pure peppermint or spearmint essential oil in about 1/3 cup of water. Swish your mouth and spit. You can even carry a little essential oil bottle in your bag for fresh breath anytime.
Drink Parsley: Either freshly juice some parsley or blend it with water for an incredibly fresh mouth. My mom doesn’t like a lot of juiced vegetables mixed together, but if you don’t mind it try my favorite breath freshening green juice: Cucumber, Celery, Parsley, & Lime.
Whiten with Baking Soda: Sprinkle a bit of baking soda on your toothbrush every so often, brush, and rinse. Sparkly white teeth without spending $40 on Crest strips.
Mama’s Health Hack #2: Natural Cures for Illness
I used to get sick a lot as a child and, since I had asthma, a simple cough would often turn into painful bronchitis. Good thing mom was equipped with a 300 page “Natural Cures” manual. For reducing congestion, eliminating cold symptoms, and preventing illness, try:
Essential Oil Steam: Put a few drops of eucalyptus or tea tree oil in a bowl or sink filled with steaming hot water. Place your face over the water, create an enclosure with a towel over your head, and breath.
Astragalus & Zinc Supplements: Astragalus is a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune boosting supplement. Zinc is also immune boosting and is a powerful cold buster when combined with vitamin C. (Be sure to check with a reputable medical source for dosing recommendations).
Elderberry Syrup: I already said Mom doesn’t like chemicals, right? That meant no NyQuil or other cough suppressants in our medicine cabinet. Elderberry is a powerful antiviral herb that boosts the immune system and soothes sore throats.
DIY Cold Busting Tonic: I reiterate, Mom doesn’t like chemicals. There is no better match for theraflu than a hot, natural tonic made with echinacea, lemon, honey, and ginger.
Slippery Elm: The root can be made into an herbal tea and helps soothe any sore throat.
Mama’s Healthy Hack #3: Limited Ingredient Skincare
Occasionally my mom would invest in face products from clean brands like Murad or Origins, but what really stood out to me was how resourceful she was with creating skincare products from what she had around the home. She rarely more makeup and taught me how to embrace natural beauty by taking care of my skin rather than loading it up with products.
Natural Oils: For very moisturized skin that is soft and glows, massage your body with single ingredient oils & butters like Vitamin E oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter instead of toxic ingredient laden lotions.
Aloe Vera: Got a sunburn? Get some aloe. You can buy a large leaf in any produce section. Slice it down the middle and apply the gooey flesh directly onto your skin. Need facial toner? Skip the Mario Badescu and go straight to the plant source. My mom made her own by adding some aloe slices in a water bottle and kept it fresh in the fridge. (I accidentally drank this once and it was NOT a pleasant experience.)
Natural Deodorant: Because her mother had breast cancer, my mom was very aware of consuming skincare products with toxic ingredients like aluminum, a common ingredient in most deodorants. She used natural ones like Toms of Maine and crystal deodorant, but eventually just started making her own. A simple recipe consists of coconut oil, shea butter, arrowroot powder, and essential oils for fragrance.
Mama’s Health Hack #4: Hydrate Naturally
I don’t how much this was purposeful or if she just naturally didn’t like to consume these, but my mom never drank soda or sugary juices, and I can count on just one hand the number of times I’ve seen her drink decaf coffee or wine. She often started her day with hot water with lemon (which back then, I thought was super weird to drink plain hot water but now I totally do the same) and ended the day with herbal tea. This health hack is pretty straightforward:
Drink more water
Drink less of everything else
Mama’s Health Hack #5: Peaceful Rituals
Lastly, my mom taught me how create zen in the midst of madness. My sisters and I wanted to hang out in my mom’s room because it was always clean, smelled good, and was the epicenter of a chill Erykah Badu playlist…often the complete opposite of our bedroom. These last lessons taught me to develop peaceful rituals to access when I need a mental health break.
Isolate Yourself: When my mom entered the bathroom for an evening bath, I wouldn’t see her for almost an hour later. I never knew what all she did in there, but when the door finally opened she’d float out in a bathrobe and aromatic steam would float into the room. I wanted to hug her right away and be surrounded by the relaxed aura she illuminated. I’m sure I will value this more when I become a mother, but I definitely learned to create time for myself as a method of self preservation.
Make Your External Environment Match Your Inner: This was a probably a lesson that I didn’t understand the value of until I got to my twenties. With the demands of working full time, raising a family, and dealing with the general woes of life, the last thing my mom wanted was to come home to a chaotic, cluttered home. She valued a clean space that matched her inner peace. Now that I’m close to thirty and am dealing with the woes of adulthood, I value my home as my sanctuary of love and peace and think of my mom’s lesson every morning as I make up my bed.
Got a Mama’s Health Hack of your own to share from your leading lady?? Drop a comment below and share it with us!
P.S. Thank you for the lessons Mom. I know it seems like some things you say go “in one ear and out the other”, but as you can see I’ve always been watching and listening. You are my Queen, Happy Mother’s Day, and I love you!