Water Damage in Cherry Hill NJ

An overflow from a second floor bathroom caused a leak in the first floor kitchen and dining room and even traveled to the basement damaging the entire rug.  These are the before pictures prior to the removal, cleaning and structural drying.

Natural Allergy Remedies – Part 4

Like many natural cures, apple cider vinegar benefits have not been widely researched or examined in randomized clinical trials. After all, which big drug company is going to fund a study on vinegar? The lack of medical studies on its efficacy, however, doesn’t mean this ancient remedy isn’t effective. Since the time of Hippocrates — the “Father of Medicine” — ACV has been renowned for its curative properties. There’s a reason this powerful health booster has stood the test of time. Earth Clinic, a trusted and extensive database of folk remedies, has been collecting data on ACV for the past 8 years.

Here are just a few of the health conditions treatable with ACV:

  • Sinus infections
  • Acne
  • High cholesterol
  • Flu
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Candida
  • Acid reflux
  • Sore throat
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Arthritis
  • Gout

Apple cider vinegar benefits range from a multitude of items. One in particular is that ACV users claim the vinegar dramatically reduces allergy symptoms from pets, food, and other environmental sources. No matter what condition you’re treating with ACV, it comes with some extremely pleasant side effects. It’s a great metabolism booster — it can help you break down fat and lose pounds easily and permanently. It also gives your skin a healthy flush. But in our modern era, its antibiotic and antihistamine powers may be more needed than ever because the ongoing deterioration of the planet (among other factors) is leading to an increase in the number of individuals who suffer from allergy attacks.Traditional allergy medications often have frustrating side effects, drowsiness being perhaps the most common and inconvenient offender.

According to a report presented by Dr. William E. Berger at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, more than 30% of all allergy patients believe their allergy medications are ineffective. Furthermore, pharmaceuticals can be expensive … can actually increase nasal irritation … and can have dangerous side effects such as impairing one’s driving abilities and causing a mental disconnect. Fortunately, apple cider vinegar benefits are just as effective in treating allergic reactions as over-the-counter antihistamine medications like Zyrtec, according to Melissa Gallagher, M.S., CWC, CNHP.

Gallagher, a popular and respected naturopath, holistic nutritionist, and wellness coach, says apple cider vinegar “can help cure various ailments without having to use OTC drugs or even prescriptions … [it] can address many of the reasons you would commonly make a run to your local CVS or Walgreens to buy a drug that may only mask the symptoms … the benefit of apple cider vinegar is that you can treat the cause of your ailment thereby decreasing or completely eliminating your symptoms entirely.” An allergic reaction occurs when your body overreacts to an unfamiliar yet harmless substance (known as allergens). Allergy sufferers have abnormally sensitive immune systems, which overreact to allergens such as pollen, dust, fur, feathers and mold. An allergic person’s body mistakenly releases histamine to fight off the intruding particles. The abundance of histamine circulating through the body subsequently signals the mucus membranes to produce all the unwanted symptoms indicative of allergies.

Chemical and natural antihistamines, such as ACV, head off your body’s abnormal response by preventing the production and release of histamines.

This consequently prevents the allergic symptoms such as:

  • Frequent sneezing
  • Nasal congestion and runniness
  • Itchy, red, swollen and/or watery eyes
  • Itchy sensation of the nose, ears, lips, mouth, and/or throat
  • Headache
  • Nosebleed
  • Cough
  • Asthma

Considering its multitude of health benefits, it’s not surprising so many people acquire a taste for ACV. Others opt for the “quick-fix” option of taking pills — but most sources say they are not as effective as consuming ACV in the form of the liquid vinegar. This may be because research indicates that the active ingredient in ACV is contained in what’s called “The Mother” — the cloudy, nutrient-filled substance settling at the bottom of the bottle. When buying ACV, make sure to get the unpasteurized, unfiltered, unrefined variety, and check for brownish colored, tiny, cobweb “mother” floating in it as visual confirmation of the strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules

According to ACV enthusiasts, this dark and mysterious substance is the source of curative powers and tonic-containing elements, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, acetic acid, malic acid, citric acid and lactic acid. Adding ACV to your diet can be as simple as taking a straight shot of ACV (one teaspoon is a recommended starter dose). Since the ACV has a strong taste, make sure to chase the shot with water!

Most people agree, however, that taking small doses of ACV mixed with water is the better way — for instance, 1 teaspoon mixed with ½ liter of water taken 3 times/day. Another option is to combine 1/8 cup of ACV with 8 oz. of water and sip this tincture throughout the day. Some sources recommend larger doses of up to 2 tablespoons mixed in water and taken before each meal. If the taste disagrees with you, try increasing the ratio of water to vinegar, adding honey to your concoction, or mixing it into apple juice or herbal tea instead of water. If your stomach feels upset after taking a dose, a ¼ teaspoon of baking soda can help settle it.

If you’re unable to ingest the mixture, another allergy-relieving option might be to inhale the vapors. This can open your nasal passages, decrease mucus production, and calm allergic reactions.

Natural Allergy Remedies – Part 3

A neti pot is a container designed to rinse debris or mucus from your nasal cavity. You might use a neti pot to treat symptoms of nasal allergies, sinus problems or colds. If you choose to make your own saltwater solution, it’s important to use bottled water that has been distilled or sterilized. Tap water is acceptable if it’s been passed through a filter with a pore size of 1 micron or smaller or if it’s been boiled for several minutes and then left to cool until it is lukewarm.

To use the neti pot, tilt your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril. Breathing through your open mouth, gently pour the saltwater solution into your upper nostril so that the liquid drains through the lower nostril. Repeat on the other side. Be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air dry.


Simulates the natural process of the body

  • A neti pot works in the same way as our bodies do. Our nasal passage has its own natural way of dealing with the foreign bodies that invade it. In the case of the respiratory system, tiny hairs called cilia and mucus line our nose and nasal passages. These act as traps, catching the dirt and dust and other particles to prevent them from entering the lungs. This dirt is then transferred to the back of the throat and is eventually destroyed by stomach acids. With the flushing action of the neti pot, the water solution helps to flush out the particles trapped in the cilia, when the mucus grows too thick or dry, then expels it from the passages.
  • There are no chemicals or unnatural ingredients used when flushing with a neti pot. Only filtered water and non-iodized salt touches your nasal passages. Medicines can serve their purpose, but daily intake of medicines can be bad for other parts of your body, like your liver. With water and salt, there are no side effects.

Soothe Irritation

  • Sometimes passages are inflamed, which is why they cause pain and irritation. A nasal flush can help soothe the inflamed passages, bringing relief from the pain.


May wash away the good elements

  • When the mucus in the nasal passages become too thick or dry, then they become ineffective, which is why a nasal flush can help them rehydrated. However, the action of running water through the nasal passages may also wash away the good elements in the mucus, such as the antibacterial and antifungal components.

Not for people with nosebleed

  • Sinus flushing may aggravate nosebleed, so if the person experiences frequent nosebleed, then he or she should not attempt a nasal flush.

Using a neti pot can be helpful for people who suffer from allergies, sinus infections and other problems relating to the nasal passages. Many people swear by its efficacy, and it can be a good alternative to medication. Of course, it’s not for everyone, and anyone who would want to try it should consult their doctor before going on any long-term nasal flushing therapy.


Natural Allergy Remedies – Part 2


Quercetin belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids that give many fruits, flowers, and vegetables their colors. Flavonoids, such as quercetin, are antioxidants. They scavenge particles in the body known as free radicals which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals. They may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage free radicals cause. In test tubes, quercetin has strong antioxidant properties. But researchers are not sure whether taking quercetin (and many other antioxidants) has the same effects inside the body. Quercetin may help protect against heart disease and cancer. Quercetin can also help stabilize the cells that release histamine in the body and thereby have an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effect.

For Allergies

In test tubes, quercetin prevents immune cells from releasing histamines, which are chemicals that cause allergic reactions. As a result, researchers think that quercetin may help reduce symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes, hives, and swelling of the face and lips. However, there is no evidence yet that it works in humans.

Quercetin has also been tested and has shown some positive signs for:

  • Hypertension
  • Heart Disease
  • High Cholesterol
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Prostatitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Cancer

Scientists have long considered quercetin, and other flavonoids contained in fruits and vegetables, important in cancer prevention. People who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to have lower risk of certain types of cancer. Animal and test tube studies suggest that flavonoids have anti-cancer properties. Quercetin and other flavonoids have been shown in these studies to inhibit the growth of cancer cells from breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, endometrial, and lung tumors. One study even suggests that quercetin is more effective than resveratrol in terms of inhibiting tumor growth. Another found that frequent intake of quercetin-rich foods was associated with lower lung cancer risk. The association was even stronger among subjects who smoked more than 20 cigarettes daily, and a third suggests that quercetin slows tumor growth in the laboratory (in leukemia cells). More research is needed.


Quercetin is generally considered safe. Side effects may include headache and upset stomach. Preliminary evidence suggests that a byproduct of quercetin can lead to a loss of protein function. Very high doses of quercetin may damage the kidneys. You should take periodic breaks from taking quercetin. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and people with kidney disease should avoid quercetin. At doses greater than 1 g per day, there have been reports of damage to the kidneys.



Natural Allergy Remedies – Part 1

Looking for an herbal remedy for your allergies? Some research suggests that the herbal supplement butterbur may relieve allergy symptoms. But there are possible side effects of using butterbur. Before you try butterbur for allergies, know what to look for and how to tell if it’s safe for you.

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a large-leafed, shrub-like plant native to Europe. Extracts from the roots, leaves and stem of the butterbur plant have been used to treat migraine headaches, stomach ulcers, infections and coughs, as well as allergies and asthma. During the 14th century, butterbur was used to treat plague and fever.

Butterbur has anti-inflammatory effects that decrease histamine and leukotrienes (chemicals involved in allergic reactions). However, butterbur also contains substances that can be toxic to your liver and may cause cancer. Some butterbur products are processed to reduce the amount of these toxins.

Butterbur is also commonly known as:

  • Butterfly Dock
  • Bog Rhubarb
  • Butter-Dock
  • Blatterdock
  • Exwort

Butterbur is most commonly taken as tablets (Petadolex, Petaforce, Tesalin). It’s also available in teas, extracts, and capsules containing raw herbs. You can buy butterbur as a tablet or as part of a product that contains a mixture of herbs.

It is thought that butterbur works similarly to antihistamines by blocking the action of the inflammatory chemical histamine, which is released by your immune system during an allergic reaction. A 2004 study published in “Clinical & Experimental Allergy” reported butterbur to be as effective as the prescription drug fexofenadine (Allegra) in treating symptoms of hay fever. Another study published in the June 2005 issue of “Phytotherapy Research” showed similar results with the butterbur product Ze 339. This study showed butterbur worked as well as the prescription drug cetirizine (Zyrtec) for hay fever symptoms. In addition, butterbur tends to cause less drowsiness, a common side effect of antihistamine medications.

While results of studies on butterbur seem positive, the quality of some studies has been a matter of some debate. It is unclear whether the results are valid. In addition, butterbur studies have been limited to only a few weeks. Other clinical studies have shown no benefit from taking butterbur for allergies. No studies have been done to determine the long-term safety and effectiveness of butterbur.


Risks associated with butterbur include:

  • Allergic reaction. If you’re allergic to ragweed, butterbur may actually worsen your allergy symptoms. Butterbur is related to the ragweed family of plants and may cause an allergic reaction. Don’t use butterbur if you’re allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies or chrysanthemums.
  • Liver and kidney damage. Butterbur contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) that are toxic to your liver and kidneys. Long-term use of butterbur may increase your risk of liver and kidney damage. Young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with liver or kidney disease shouldn’t use butterbur.
  • Cancer. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), the toxic chemicals in butterbur, may also have cancer-causing effects.

Pollen & Prevention

Each spring, summer and fall, plants release tiny pollen grains to fertilize other plants of the same species. Most of the pollens that cause allergic reactions come from trees, weeds and grasses. These plants make small, light and dry pollen grains that travel by the wind. Grasses are the most common cause of allergy. Ragweed is a main cause of weed allergies. Other common sources of weed pollen include sagebrush, pigweed, lamb’s quarters and tumbleweed. Certain species of trees, including birch, cedar and oak, also produce highly allergenic pollen. Plants fertilized by insects, like roses and some flowering trees, like cherry and pear trees, usually do not cause allergic rhinitis.

Certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines may help reduce pollen allergy symptoms.

  • Antihistamines come in pill, liquid or nasal spray form. They can relieve sneezing and itching in the nose and eyes. They also reduce a runny nose and, to a lesser extent, nasal stuffiness.
  • Decongestants are available as pills, liquids, nasal sprays or drops. They help shrink the lining of the nasal passages and relieve nasal stuffiness. Use decongestant nose drops and sprays only on the short-term.
  • Nasal corticosteroids are a type of nasal spray. They reduce inflammation in the nose and block allergic reactions. They are the most effective medicine type for allergic rhinitis because they can reduce all symptoms, including nasal congestion. Nasal corticosteroids have few side effects.
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists block the action of important chemical messengers (other than histamine) that are involved in allergic reactions.
  • Cromolyn sodium is a nasal spray that blocks the release of chemicals that cause allergy symptoms, including histamine and leukotrienes. This medicine has few side effects, but you must take it four times a day.

Many people with pollen allergy do not get complete relief from medications. This means they may be candidates for immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that can help prevent or reduce the severity of allergic reactions. It can change the course of allergic disease by modifying the body’s immune response to allergens.

Allergy Shots – Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (SCIT) has been around for more than 100 years and can provide long-lasting symptom relief. SCIT is a series of shots that have progressively larger amounts of allergen. An injection of the allergen goes into the fat under the skin. Over time, allergic symptoms generally improve. Many patients experience complete relief within one to three years of starting SCIT. Many people experience benefits for at least several years after the shots stop.

Sublingual Immunotherapy involves placing a tablet containing the allergen under the tongue for 1 to 2 minutes and then swallowing it. In 2014, the FDA approved three types of under-the-tongue tablets to treat grass and ragweed allergies. More are in development. You take SLIT tablets daily before and during grass or ragweed season. This treatment offers people with these allergies a potential alternative to allergy shots.


Basement Storage

Many homes which I inspect on a weekly basis have had some form of a water loss and now the home is in need of mold remediation.  And a recurring theme is that home owners, who use their basement primarily for storage, aren’t going through old useless items or items that were affected by the initial water damage.  Instead, boxes are sitting in the basement with old water stains and mold growth while most of the time the boxes themselves are empty.  Some basements have accumulated so much stuff that most people don’t realize that there are empty boxes and trash that are being mistaken for stored items.  And these items can or already have developed mold and can or already are affecting the air quality in your home.  If you haven’t already, it’s time to set a date on the calendar to go through your basement, garage or attic and throw away damaged items, trash and/or donate items you know you won’t use any longer.  You’d be amazed by the amount of things you thought were useful that turn out to be trash or damaged by water and mold.


Even Fish Tanks

Even fish tanks can leak and cause severe water damage to a home.  In this particular case, a pump’s outtake hose came loose and started spilling water all over the basement.  Luckily, the home owner heard the noise after several minutes and came to check.  The tank was 240 gallons and nearly half the water spilled onto the floor.  Since the intake valve is at the bottom of the tank and the outtake towards the top, mostly all of the water would have emptied onto the floor, while killing the exotic fish as well.  The water damage was extensive, but because of his quick action and our response time, minimum water damage occurred. And happily, all of the fish survived.


Odor Control

81 percent of U.S. homeowners agree that the health of their family is directly related to the cleanliness of floors in the home. While a key component to improving air quality is eliminating carpet and rug odors, which in many cases requires regularly cleaning these surfaces, only 15 percent clean their carpet at least once a year.

The following four-step process is the best way to successfully remove odor from your carpet:

  • Remove the source of the odor, as practical (absorb liquids, scoop solids)
  • Thoroughly clean odor-affected surfaces and materials. Cleaning is basic to deodorizing
  • Treat the odor source with an appropriate odor counteractant (sanitizer, disinfectant, enzyme)
  • Seal restorable surfaces, such as subflooring, if practical

Many sources of odor, including pet urine and tobacco smoke, require specialized procedures and techniques and are best addressed by a certified professional.  Residual mold and water damage can also lead to odors lingering and must be treated in order to remove any smells and health concerns.