Why I'm So Passionate About Natural Health:
My simple answer... I love knowing what I'm putting into my body.
With the overwhelming amount of merchandise stocking up our commercial grocery, health, & beauty stores, it's hard to keep up on which products are actually good for you. Look at the back of your bottle of body wash--- how many ingredients does it contain? Ever looked any of those ingredients up and threw the bottle down in terror realizing the harmful chemicals that were used in making this? These chemicals may not seem like they're harmful, but in retrospect, over-time they can cause damage to your body. Many “moisturizing” products, including soaps and shampoos that claim they're for “added moisture,” actually contain ingredients that will dry your skin out even more. It's all part of the big commercial product money-making scheme. They trick us into buying products that contain a very small amount of ingredients that are actually good for our skin, still claiming to be “moisture renewing” when really, the majority of the ingredients are harmful chemicals. Soaps, shampoos, deodorants, moisturizers, face wash, make-up, cleaning products... the list goes on.
The same goes with our food. Check out the ingredients in that package of store-bought cookies you're eating or dare I say look into what actually goes into that burger from the fast-food joint. All sorts of stuff in there. It's true that not all of these ingredients are harmful, per say, but they certainly aren't helping in maintaining your overall health and well-being. The foods I just mentioned and more used to be a regular part of my diet. I also used to regularly take ibuprofen for headaches, commercial cold & flu medicine for feeling under the weather, an antacid like Tums or Pepto-Bismol for annoying stomach issues, as well as other drugs to help control anxiety and depression throughout the years. These were all included in my regular “health” regime.
Think about the television commercials you see for the newest prescription medication. Think about how, at the end of each commercial, written in fine print and spoken so fast that you can barely understand, all of the side-effects associated with taking this prescription. “Ask your doctor if it's right for you...” Well let me remind you of the cold, hard truth that is slowly leaking out... Prescription medications causing side effects ensure that doctors will continue to have patients that want to try different prescriptions, all of which containing one side effect or another. Needing to take one medication may turn into taking two, so that the second helps the side-effects of the first. That's more money out of your wallet, more potential risk factors, more doctor visits... This is great for your doctor and for pharmaceutical companies but are you spending money to help them or to help you? Why waste the money on prescription drugs when you can heal yourself naturally through simple diet & lifestyle changes?
Many people today are ignorant about this natural healing. Doctors are quick to prescribe us synthetic medications that may result in many side-effects, without informing us of the benefits of natural healing. Looking back through the history of modern medicine, the medications we have today were inspired and taken from Herbal Medicine. Our prescription drugs of today have been created by artificially synthesizing the active chemicals in plants. While this may seem like a great idea, it's actually causing more harm to our bodies, which is why there seems to be endless side-effects to our medications. The active chemicals in plants rely on the balance of the inactive contained in that same plant, in order to work the magic nature intended them to do, without harm. While many modifications have been made through the years and our synthetic drugs have become slightly safer (at the expense of the consumer), they still cannot compare to the benefits and overall healing of using the plant in its entirety.
With the encouragement of my mother, my aunts, my amazing friend Jen, and my husband, after finally being fed up with the amount of money spent on over-the-counter medicines and open-ended doctor visits while never really being able to find out what exactly was causing my lifelong health issues... I decided to step up my wellness game and take matters into my own hands. For me, the solution was as easy as a simple diet change. My wellness journey began with the elimination of gluten from my diet. It wasn't an easy start. Trips to the grocery store would require lots of patience and take significantly longer, reading the labels on just about everything to make sure they didn't contain gluten. I cannot stress enough, the importance of reading labels!
While it took a couple months to really get the hang of shopping with this new diet and finding the products that were right (and tasted alright) for me, the truth is, we saw a change in my health within the first FOUR days. The first noticeable change was in my energy and motivation levels. I no longer felt like I needed a daily cat-nap to keep me going. By the end of one month, my stomach issues were a thought of the past, my headaches were few-and-far-between, and my embarrassing acne breakouts began to clear. Shortly after, we noticed that I had also not shown any signs of anxiety or depression. That alone, was a big deal
With this simple diet change leading to rewarding results, I wanted to take my wellness journey a step further. My passion for natural healing began to quickly grow and flourish and I will openly admit, became an obsession. Just a few months prior to all these changes, I began reading books on herbal remedies and natural healing, learning that I could drink lavender-chamomile tea to help calm my nerves when I felt the onset of a panic attack, or peppermint tea to help relieve my nausea. These were all steps I had already been trying to implement into my life before changing my diet. After eliminating gluten, I began to really focus on the benefits of proper nutrition, later learning that dairy was also causing some of my issues. I will be honest here, some days I simply cannot turn down a bowl of ice cream, or my husbands delicious baked mac & cheese, but I am always able to pick out right away the symptoms that occur after I “cheat” on my diet and can treat them naturally with herbs and essential oils.
Influenced by Love:
One of the biggest breakthrough moments of encouragement that made me realize natural health was truly a growing passion of mine, took place only a few months after my diet change. My beautiful Aunt Michelle, after battling brain cancer for close to twenty years, was nearing the end of her journey here on earth. During her last months, I was able to spend some special time with her, talking about my new lifestyle change as well as the ups and downs of the long-term battle with her immune system. She spoke of all the medical trials she had been used as a “test subject” on over the years, the different medications and procedures, the “toxic poisons” (as she referred to chemotherapy) that were pumped through her veins... as she neared her last months, doctors finally told her there was nothing else they could do for her. While many people may be devastated with this type of news, Michelle showed no signs of this during our conversation. Eager to ask more and more questions of my new lifestyle change and encouraging me to continue my journey and study of natural healing, she told me that she was relieved to hear those words from her doctor.
“Ok, Michelle, it's up to you now...” she recalled saying to herself as the news sunk in. The thought of no more medications and no more trials and no more poisons brought a sense of calm and relief to her. It breaks my heart to say that after twenty years of poison and multiple surgeries to remove parts of her brain, her body was not able to fully detoxify itself. She had already been subject to the poisons for far too long that her immune system was not able to regenerate. Even still, during her last moments, she would sip on the fruit smoothies I would make for us, drink peppermint tea to help her nausea, nibble on watermelon to stay hydrated and keep her sugar levels up, and would agree to tango throughout the house, hand-in-hand with me, as we enjoyed each others company, finally living in the moment, with this new passion for a natural healing awakening in our souls together. Her strength and beauty and final words of encouragement were all I needed as inspiration to grow my passion for natural health.
Take Root And Grow:
Making the decision to lead a holistic lifestyle was easy for me. I love nature and the healing gifts that come along with it significantly more than I love hospital bills and the prescription medication of the past century. Above all, I enjoy the humbling sense of DIY that comes along with preventative care. While the decision part was easy, the lifestyle change itself from modern and conventional to natural and holistic has been quite the challenge. More than anything, it requires patience and dedication.
I am always learning and seeking new knowledge and ideas on an old way of living. If you've ever been to my house, you know that my shelves are filled with books on top of books of herbal healing, natural therapies, reflexology, and more. My pantry is stocked with mason jars of whole leaf herbs and I can recommend you a tea or essential oil for just about any ailment. I will turn to yoga and meditation any day over grabbing a bottle of pills to calm me down and ease my anxiety, and I am annoyingly aware of the ingredients that I put into my body. (I read labels on EVERYTHING).
I'm fortunate that my body is so willing to receive healing in its utmost natural form. I am forever grateful for the wisdom and courage bestowed upon me to step out of my comfort zone and follow this amazing path on my holistic journey. As I continue to learn and grow, my greatest desire is to share this knowledge with others so they may also become aware of the natural healing readily available to us, if we reach out and take hold of it; taking hold of our lives, our health and our overall well-being.
This year, we welcomed in the Autumn Equinox with my favorite Feel Good Immunity concoction.
Recently, after our move back to the island, my husband and I have been on a pretty tight budget, patiently waiting for his new career to kick off. We have been very fortunate to receive help from friends and family alike as we get settled, and much of this help has been in the form of shared meals and groceries.
When you're on a tight budget and friends and family are offering you help, no matter how much pride you have, willingly accept it. As my aunt repeatedly tells us, "we have all been there, we know what it's like, and we know you would do the same if our roles were switched." And it's true. Josh and I have had a little bit of an internal struggle putting our own ego aside to receive the help we need, but the truth is, we have been learning that it's much easier to graciously accept it rather than argue with your wise elders who know a bit more about getting through life struggles than you do. We are so lucky to have these people in our lives.
During our grocery trip yesterday, my aunt and I were discussing detoxing. While there are now plenty of options to purchase detox kits, whether online or at your local wellness store, we are both firm believers in getting everything you need strictly from the foods you eat. We talked about cravings and how there are two types of cravings. "Lustful cravings," such as walking past the bakery section of the grocery store and seeing that delicious box of fresh baked chocolate truffle cake--- you know you don't need it, but it looks and smells so divine where you find yourself lusting over this. Then there's the "real cravings," where your body is simply trying to tell you that it needs a particular nutrient. Yes, when you follow a particular healthy-eating diet long enough (It's been a year and a half for me now), you get to the point where your body knows and craves exactly what it needs. In my case, this week my body is craving lemon for its detoxifying properties. And boy, do I know I could use the detox, as I haven't been doing this nearly as often as I'd like to.
I follow a three-step daily detox. I say daily because you CAN do this every day, but I prefer to reserve it to once or twice a week, adding an additional day or two on the rare occasions that I have a few drinks the night before.
How it works: this routine works best if done first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking.
I start off oil pulling with about a tablespoon of coconut oil. If you're unfamiliar with oil pulling, this simply means swishing around coconut oil in your mouth for 10-15minutes to remove toxins from your teeth, gums, and tongue. It's a little weird/gross to get used to at first, but gets easier with time. (I will be posting a more in-depth description one of these days along with the many additional benefits of coconut oil). After 10-15 minutes, be sure to discard of the swished oil in the trash. DO NOT SWALLOW AND DO NOT SPIT IN SINK! Since oil pulling is actually pulling toxins out of your body, the last thing you want to do is swallow them. Also, coconut oil solidifies at room temperature, so spitting into the sink could potentially clog your drains, therefore the trash can is your best option.
Next, I follow with a warm water and salt rinse. I mix about a teaspoon of salt with 8oz of WARM water. I prefer Himalayan pink sea salt, considered the purest form of sea-salt, providing essential minerals, trace elements, balancing electrolytes, supporting proper nutrient absorption, eliminating toxins, balancing the body’s pH, and increasing circulation. Be sure to swish and gargle the mixture until finished.
Finally, I make myself a concoction of lemon water. Lemons provide you with vitamin C, antioxidants and potassium. They also help balance your body's pH and help with nutrient absorption. Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning helps get your digestive system moving and re-energizes your body as it detoxifies and oxygenates your system. It's also great for your skin- keeping it clear and radiant. I slice two or three good-sized lemon wheels, squeezing the juice and dropping them into my bottle of ice water. I'll give the bottle a good shake, then drink the entire 16oz right away, before adding more water to drink throughout the rest of the day.
For the remainder of my detox day, I try to stay away from (or at least limit my intake of) caffeine, meats, alcohol and processed sugars. I started my day ridding my body of toxins, putting more in would be counter-productive. Instead, I'll make myself a green smoothie for breakfast and snack on nuts, fruits and veggies throughout the day, being sure to stay fully hydrated with my lemon water.
If you decide to try my daily detox, please feel free to let me know what you think! I appreciate any and all feedback!
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