Are you scratching your head and wondering what's causing those icky flakes? It could be that your commercial haircare products contain chemicals that are too harsh. Take a natural approach…

  • Try homemade herbal scalp treatments. Prepare one of the following ingredients are sold at health food stores and online), pour into a spray bottle and store in the refrigerator. Once or more per week, wet your hair and then apply four to eight ounces, massaging it into your scalp for several minutes. Wait 15 minutes, then shampoo. Options for all hair types...

For flare-ups: Tea tree oil. In a small bowl, combine eight ounces of water with 40 drops of tea tree oil (a natural antifungal and antiseptic).

Preventative: Burdock root and nettle. In a saucepan, mix one tablespoon of dried or three tablespoons of fresh, finely chopped burdock root (which supports oil glands and hair follicles) with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in one tablespoon of dried or three tablespoons of fresh, chopped nettle, an anti-inflammatory. (With fresh nettle, wear rubber gloves to avoid getting stung) Let sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth. Cool before using.

  • Buy gentle commercial products. Choose shampoos, conditioners and styling products free of harsh or potentially toxic ingredients. Avoid sodium lauryl sulfate la strong detergent), various parabens (preservatives and cocomide DEA (a foaming agent).

Recommended: Products from Aubrey Organics (800-282-7394, www.Aubrey-Organics. com) or Giovanni Cosmetics (www.Giovanni

  • Use henna instead of hair dyes (which contain chemicals that can irritate the scalp). Made from a flowering plant, henna provides a reddish tint that blends with your natural color and lasts up to six weeks. Henna is best for brown or black hair (it can be used on blond or gray hair, but may turn light hair too orange)

To intensify color: Instead of mixing powdered henna with water, mix it with brewed coffee for a richer brown tint...with red wine for auburn highlights...or with beet juice to tone down henna's orange cast.

  • Nourish your scalp from the inside out. Take a daily probiotic supplement that contains live bifidobacterium and lactobacillus to help balance the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract.

Good brands: Enzymatic Therapy Pearls IC (800-783-2286, and Sedona Labs i-Flora Multi-Probiotic (888816-8804,

Bleach Baths Ease Eczema

Twice weekly, eczema patients soaked for five to 10 minutes in a tub of water mixed with very diluted bleach. After three months, 67% showed improvement, compared with 15% of patients who bathed in plain water.

Theory: Bleach kills the staph bacteria that often accompany eczema and can cause painful lesions.

Safety: Use no more than one-half cup of bleach per 40 gallons of not let bleach bathwater enter the eyes or mouth...never apply undiluted bleach to skin.

Fruit Conquers Jet Lag

Tart cherries-also known as sour cherries-have high levels of melatonin, which helps regulate your circadian rhythm and induce sleepiness.

Best: Have one-half cup of dried tart cherries (such as Montmorency) or two tablespoons of any cherry juice concentrate one hour before you wish to sleep on the plane and an hour before bedtime for the three days after you land.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in