Posted on 30 Oct 2009 In: Health, Natural

Review: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder

Nutritionally excellent hemp food source, but taste and texture may not suit everyone….

I feel so blessed to have been introduced recently to a very special artist and her amazing music. As things often work out so perfectly, one thing lead to another and I landed on a beautiful web site –….

The flu season is approaching and fast it seems. As the Northern Hemisphere prepares for colder weather, everyone seems to be buzzing with what this year’s flu season will be like with threats of a full blown swine flu…

It is that special time again – time to announce this month’s “Evolving Wellness in Action” inspirational story. This month I would like to introduce you all to Gena Hamshaw and her story of a “raw journey into optimal…

Posted on 30 Oct 2009 In: Health, Natural

Month in Review: September ‘09

September is over and with it we said farewell to another summer season and welcome in the fall season. I would also like to say another special thank you to Julie Riddle, for sharing her uplifting and highly inspirational…

Posted on 30 Oct 2009 In: Health, Natural

Foods That Seem Healthy, But Aren’t – Part 2

Last month, I featured the first installment in our new series “Foods That Seem Healthy, But Aren’t.” If you missed the 4 foods featured in part 1, you can read all about those here. In this post, we continue…

Our skin is our body’s largest organ and has an important role in helping to maintain our overall health … but it may be starving for oxygen. It’s also the first line of defense against the harshness of the environmental factors we encounter everyday. In addition, our skin acts as a filtration system by eliminating toxins from our bodies. But, if you’re using products containing mineral oil or its derivatives, your skin’s health is most likely compromised. Using mineral oil is like wrapping your skin in plastic so it can not breathe.

Unfortunately, many people are still unaware of the detriments of mineral oil, which is the main ingredient in so many personal care products used every day. People presume since it’s an oil, it must be acceptable for use on the skin. However, this is far from true in regards to the actual properties of mineral oil as it does not contain any minerals, nutrients or organic ingredients.

It’s an odorless and colorless substance which does not have an organic origin, and instead is derived from underground geologic locations, ranging from rocks, to underground traps, to sands. (Mineral oil, also known as white oil in the industry, has some close cousins that are used in products as well, so check your labels for any of the following: petroleum, petrolatum, liquid petrolatum, paraffin, paraffin oil, liquid paraffin, liquid parafinum, paraffinum liquidum, and petroleum jelly. When we refer to mineral oil, the same problems apply for these ingredients as well).

Mineral oil is a byproduct of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil and it is a non-renewable resource. It’s the main ingredient in motor oil. It cannot be absorbed into your skin because the molecules are too large. Rather, it forms a film over the skin and actually clogs your pores because it interferes with the skin’s natural moisturizing factor. This means, it doesn’t allow your skin to absorb water (moisture) or eliminate toxins.

This film prevents the skin from absorbing or contacting anything from the environment, but also prevents the natural release of toxins and other waste products by keeping oxygen out. Disrupting this natural respiration process most often results in dry skin and other unhealthy skin conditions. Also, products containing this ingredient can be a cause of skin breakouts, as the blocked pores react to the lack of oxygen and build up of trapped toxins.

This layer of film created by the mineral oil suffocates the skin as it can not breathe. It damages the body by preventing the absorption of oxygen and the elimination of toxins. We assume and have been conditioned to believe, if our skin feels smooth, then it must be moist or hydrated. This theory is however, completely misdirected when using products containing mineral oil.

After application, the skin will feel smooth for a time, but due to the disruption in the cycle of oxygen to the skin (suffocation), it will soon appear dry, flake or peel, thus requiring the application of more products. This creates a vicious cycle in which the skin never receives any vital nutrients or hydration, including water, thereby creating a dry skin condition, rashes, or dermatitis like acne or eczema. Simply put, dry skin is created when these two vital bodily functions are disrupted.

The purpose of a moisturizer is not to “lock in” moisture as is often advertised. Locking something in prevents something from getting out, as previously discussed. What a moisturizer is intended to do is hydrate your skin and slow the absorption of water from it. Hydrating nourishes the skin, keeping it healthy and vibrant. This is accomplished by using a moisturizer made from plant or vegetable oils which provide a natural-based shielding product.

A few examples of skin-loving, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) ingredients are: jojoba oil, shea butter, vegetable glycerin,water, aloe vera gel, aloe vera oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, mango butter, and coconut oil. Companies committed to providing nature-inspired, mineral oil free products such as essensu, will ensure your skin is being being provided a healthy alternative.


The continued use of mineral oil also increases premature aging of the skin. People using products containing this ingredient often wonder why they keep looking older or why their skin continues to dry out, even with the use of moisturizers. It’s because the skin problem is not being treated, it’s being masked, and possibly even worsened.

If a skin problem was being masked through use, it will quickly reappear once the offending product is stopped. Also, skin becomes dehydrated as mineral oil dissolves your skin’s natural oils. This too, makes skin look older. It’s also been reported to slow down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. (In addition, skin will burn faster when using petroleum products, which also contributes to photo-aging damage).

Why is mineral oil so widely used in mass produced skin care products? The answer is simple — it’s cheap! Mineral oil is leftover liquid from the distillation of gasoline from crude oil and because it’s in abundance, it’s inexpensive. It is less expensive for manufacturers to purchase these by-products and use them as a filler, than it is for the industry to dispose of it. In addition, because it’s inert (containing no chemical activity), it acts as a protective agent, allowing the product to have a longer shelf life and not spoil.

This is similar to the purpose of high fructose corn syrup in processed foods; mineral oil dramatically extends the shelf life of products which contain it. Much like high fructose corn syrup, mineral oil can also lead to nutritional deficiencies, in extreme cases. This occurs because the body’s ability to eliminate the built-up toxins has been slowed and interrupted, thus giving the mineral oil the opportunity to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from the skin. Then, the only way to alleviate these nutritional deficiencies and restore these vitamins to their proper levels is through food and supplements.

It’s up to you as the consumer, to become aware of what the ingredients are in the products you apply to your skin. Product manufacturers of commercial, mass-produced skin and body care are not going to cite the harmful effects of mineral oil on their label or in their product literature. (“Frequent and long-term exposures can result in health hazards and in a variety of skin diseases that are generally designated as dermatitis”) (Runge and Duarte, 1989). While mineral oil is not proven to cause cancer, it is still an injurious agent and should be avoided.

For instance, baby oil, which is touted for babies, is actually mineral oil and fragrance. Stated directly on the label of a well-known brand of baby oil, they claim that: “pure mineral oil forms a silky barrier to help prevent excess moisture loss” and it “moisturizes baby’s delicate skin and helps protect from dryness.” These are their actual claims in support of mineral oil’s effect.

Mineral oil is the main ingredient in many other commercial baby care items as well. Besides baby oil, there is petroleum jelly for diaper rash, baby wash, and baby lotion with mineral oil as the key ingredient. But once again, mineral oil is a derivative from the distillation of gasoline from crude oil, and the barrier it forms actually suffocates the natural breathing process of the skin! Is this what you want, especially on your babies?

Studies funded by the FDA implicate pore-clogging petrochemicals like mineral oil as one of the major allergens in skin based products. Allergic reactions from these allergens range anywhere from scaliness and rashes to eczema and acne. Last I checked, we use lotions and creams to prevent and heal such reactions, not cause them!

Currently, it’s been reported 90% of all cosmetics contain mineral oil or its derivatives, including eye shadow, foundation, blush, lipsticks, lip gloss, lip balm, shaving cream, cleansers, moisturizers, lotions, creams, conditioners, self-tanning lotions, and most SPF sunscreens, to name a few. The good news is it’s never too late to make a change.

Alternatives to mineral oil are natural or organic oils. The use of pure, natural oils will increase the cost of the end product for the consumer. However, the benefits are natural, botanical ingredients absorb into the skin to provide hydration and protection from the environment and aging by allowing the skin to breathe.

You have to be an advocate for yourself. Protect your skin: read your labels, educate yourself, and choose natural products like those offered by essensu holistic skincare that do not contain harmful agents, but rather, are good for your skin.

* Shayna Abiuso, writer-at-large, contributed to this post.

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Posted on 30 Oct 2009 In: Health, Natural

Eco-Friendly Products Review and Special Offer!

In this post I’m reviewing a few eco-friendly, unique but practical green products from the company myEarth360. My readers are also being offered a special discount on their website.

myearth360 was born after owner, Lynn Hasselberger witnessed the waste produced when disposing of purchased bottled water. She discovered we toss out enough water bottles in the U.S. to circle the equator every 2.9 days!
Wanting to reduce her family’s exposure to everyday toxins led Lynn in search of products, which are earth friendly and healthy to use. Her mantra on her website is, where everything you buy counts for our Earth.”

The website is not limited to the items you see here for review. This is just a sampling from the their great selection of earth friendly and eco-practical products available. I invite you to check out her site for everything from drinking and baby bottles, green art, school and business supplies, water purification, clothing, wrapping paper, to sea glass jewelry, vegan organic chocolates and much more.


The SKOY cloth is a fabulous, absorbent, biodegradable and natural multi-use cloth. These re-usable, long-lasting earth friendly cloths are perfect in your kitchen, bathroom, and on most surface areas in your home or office. SKOY cloth can be used in place of your sponge, wash cloth or paper towels. Common household cleaners may also be used with the SKOY cloth, and they are available in a variety of designs and colors.

SKOY cloths are 100% biodegradable a
s they are made from a blend of natural cotton and wood-pulp cellulose. SKOY cloth is a non-toxic, chlorine-free product printed and dyed with with water-based colors and inks. After an independent composting test, SKOY cloth broke down completely within 5 weeks.

Due to its amazing durability, it can be reused and last for months. Using one SKOY cloth is equivalent to using 15 rolls of paper towels in an average home. With the high cost of paper towels, it’s the obvious choice for household cleaning and wiping up spills. This in turn, is advantageous to your wallet and the environment. With an absorption factor of 15x its own weight, SKOY is the most superior cloth product available. Imagine using 15 sheets of good-quality paper towels at once? This is how a wet SKOY cloth will feel in your hand.

One of the SKOY cloth’s best feature is the ability to throw it in the washer or dishwasher to be cleaned,. It is also dryer safe. It also dries quickly after use, so it’s not a breeding ground for bacteria. Good bye smelly sponges! SKOY cloth may also be placed wet in the microwave for one minute to keep it germ-free and healthy between washings.

I know this same procedure is also recommended for sponges, however, commercial sponges actually contain plastic. This makes it more difficult to keep them germ-free, clean or enabling a long life before needing to be thrown out. Sponges will not decompose in the environment due to the plastic they contain.

After putting the SKOY cloth through the rigors of various cleaning routines; scrubbing bathroom counter tops and sinks, wiping up kitchen counters, table, stove top, some spills on the floor, and scrubbing the kitchen sink with baking soda, my SKOY was unscathed. It definitely has delivered on all it promised. After the cleaning rounds, I put it in with the dishes on the top shelf of the dishwasher, and ran it through a wash cycle. Again, my SKOY still felt thick, absorbant and just like new.

They are sold in a four pack and at less than $2.00 a piece, I think the SKOY cloth provides an affordable alternative to paper towels and a valuable option for reducing the waste we produce and dispose of in our environment. I was pleasantly impressed with the durability of this product and it gets a big thumbs up from me. I would highly recommend giving them a try.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ myEARTH360 is offering The Holistic Diva readers 10% off by entering the code DIVA10 at checkout. I encourage you to stop by and check out this wonderful website and all the earth friendly products.


I’ve never seen anything quite like the all-natural, VerTerra party-ready dinnerware, made from fallen palm leaves, steam, pressure and heat. The fallen palm leaves are gathered and pressed into distinctive shapes, so no two are exactly a like.

No chemicals, lacquers or bonding agents of any kind are used in their manufacture. They do not contain any waxes, plastics, bleaches or dyes. They are completely non-toxic, which makes them a perfect choice for children’s parties. They are sturdy, durable, lightweight and may be reused if rinsed off and cleaned, and they dry quickly. The available plates, bowls and platters are perfect for outdoor/indoor parties, picnics, packing with lunches and travel.

In addition, by using sustainable production methods, no trees or plants are cut down in their making. They naturally biodegrade in two months after disposal and are certified compostable, making them an earth friendly, innovative choice for your special events or meal-to-go needs. In addition, they are microwave, oven and refrigerator safe, along with liquid friendly. The plates are available in dinner, lunch/light meal and salad/dessert size, in addition to a generous bowl size and a party platter.

I’ve had the pleasure to use this unique dinnerware. I think it’s a great option for parties verses paper plates which clog our environment with more garbage. I feel as consumers, we need to consider our buying decisions and take into account the impact our choices have on our environment. The fact that these products are made of fallen leaves is quite baffling. It proves to me solutions can be found to our ever mounting refuse problem, plaguing all nations. Reusing something from nature in this fashion, I find quite genius.

Now granted, these plates, bowls and platters are not long-term use items. These were designed as disposable party ware, but can easily adapt to other portable uses as mentioned above. When they have served their lifespan, however, you can dispose of them guilt free in regards to the environmental impact of doing so. Personally, I find that appealing.


In North America, billions of individual, plastic disposable cutlery are used every year. The ecological and health consequences associated with the production, use and disposal of these products are growing. Aspenware biodegradable and compostable cutlery will help reduce these issues one meal at a time. Aspenware cutlery is made from birch and aspen — hardwoods that were cut down during the harvesting of softwoods, such as fir and spruce, and would have been left to rot, or been burned during the process of regular industrial logging.

This cutlery is smooth, stylish, comfortable to use and provides an upscale look to your party table verses plastic ware, or can easily be packed for work or school lunches, a picnic or travel. They can be reused if hand washed. They are not recommended for the microwave or dishwasher. They have been manufactured with no chemicals, bleaches or dyes. Even the packaging is 100% recyclable and compostable. Again, a very cool product for reducing our non-recyclable footprint.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ myEARTH360 is offering The Holistic Diva readers 10% off by entering the code DIVA10 at checkout. I encourage you to stop by and check out this wonderful website and all the earth friendly products. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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