Hello Again Fellow Health Seekers! I trust everyone is feeling a bit of "spring in their step" by now? Hope so. We had blissful, summer-like temps here in Maine last week, but alas, they were short-lived. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has not completely relinquished her icy grip just yet . . . as we have returned to winter-like weather this week! The forsythia buds are about to burst forth and the pansies have begun to bloom . . . harbingers of spring's soon-to-come warmth. Today, I will continue the discussion of Herbal Oral Hygiene by sharing a natural tooth-brightening recipe plus herbal tips for freshening your breath while improving digestion. Strawberry Tooth Brightener Strawberries produce a slight bleaching action upon the teeth due to their naturally-occurring, mild fruit acid and, if used daily, help to rid the teeth of tea, coffee, and cigarette stains. This treatment leaves your mouth feeling clean and tasting wonderful. A strawberry is much safer to use than lemon juice, which is much, much more acidic and can damage tooth enamel when used over time. When the fruit is in season, eating a bowl of strawberries daily is also another good way to brighten teeth and improve health. Ingredients: - 1 medium-sized ripe strawberry Recommended For: everyone, especially those with stained teeth Use: daily or as desired Follow With: water rinse or herbal mouthwash Prep Time: approximately 2 minutes Blending Tools: small bowl and fork or mortar and pestle; toothbrush Store In: do not store; mix as needed Yield: 1 treatment Method: Remove the green top and stem first. Using a small bowl and fork or a small mortar and pestle, mash the strawberry into a pulp. Application Tips: Dip your toothbrish into the pulp and brush normally. Rinse thoroughly. Now, doesn't your mouth feel clean? Your teeth should show signs of brightening with consistent use. Herbal Breath Freshening Tips - Gargle twice daily with strong peppermint tea. Make peppermint tea as you normally would, but leave either the tea bag or loose leaves in to steep for at least 30 minutes. Tea may be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 3 days. - Drink 1 cup of peppermint tea immediately following meals. Peppermint helps eliminate mouth odors and acts as a natural digestive, helping to prevent indigestion, gas, and burping. - If you have access to fresh peppermint leaves, chew on 1 for a few minutes, then spit out or swallow. Your mouth will feel cool, clean, and minty fresh! - Place 1 drop of peppermint essential oil (no more than this) on your tongue followed by a sip of water. Swish the icy cool liquid around for about 30 seconds, then swallow. Peppermint essential oil produces an amazing fresh chill on your tongue and helps improve digestion when swallowed. - Keep a little container of fennel seeds, anise seeds, or cardamom seeds in your purse, desk drawer, brief case, gym bag, or back pack. Chew on a few of these flavorful seeds whenever your breath needs freshening. You can swallow them if you wish. All of these seeds also double as carminatives or digestives, encouraging saliva flow and calming the formation of intestinal gas. - Let's not forget our green friend . . . parsley. This poor lowly plate decoration need not be tossed in the garbage heap along with leftover food. It is loaded with odor-neutralizing chlorophyll plus energizing nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and anti-oxidants. Next time you're at a restaurant, make sure to munch on that sprig of parsley when you finish your dinner. Your breath and digestion will thank you! NOTE: This article was written by Stephanie Tourles and some of the information was adapted from her book, Organic Body Care Recipes, Storey Publishing, 2007. The information is true and complete to the best of the author's knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.