Last week we looked at five easy ways to clean up your exposure to toxic chemicals. Although I want to keep this simple and easy, I cannot stress enough the impact this can have on your health; now, and in the future. The reality of body burden is still being explored as more and more data shows up showing the effects that the accumulation of toxins and chemicals has on seemingly unrelated health issues, including inflammation, which is now being discovered as the root of most disease including cancer.
On a spiritual level, I am a huge advocate of returning to our wild nature and reconnecting with the natural world on a very deep level. Nature is the way of the Shaman. In nature, we have all the wisdom. Yet, modern cultures seem to be moving further and further away from all things natural and it is taking its toll on our wellness and wholeness, body, mind and spirit. The closer we get to nature, the clearer we see the absurdity that is infiltrating our food and the products we use on a daily basis. Although we don’t want to overwhelm ourselves with all that is wrong and how to right it at once, we can take small yet effective steps towards a more natural way of life that our human bodies and psyches are designed for. One actionable change at a time we begin to improve our wellness.
I would like to briefly share a very intimate aspect of my own journey towards a more natural lifestyle in an effort to illustrate the ultimate outcome of detoxing our environment. In my late thirties I began to have very difficult periods (sorry guys). They weren’t painful, but very heavy. It got to the point when I was 40 that I was flooding, which made it difficult to live life during those few days. Then, after suffering a miscarriage at 41, I began to seriously explore the toxins in my environment (and my food, but that is a different topic). After implementing the very changes I am suggesting, my periods returned to normal. Again, my menstrual improvement also had to do with improving my diet even further and working with herbs that supported my efforts, but I know without a doubt that detoxing the products I use daily was half of the healing equation.
So, let’s dive in. Here are five more easy ways to get the toxins out of your life.
- Lotions & Moisturizers – We all want soft skin of course, but so many of the products on the market are pumped full of those nasty endocrine disrupting parabens along with other unsavory toxins. Companies are beginning to wise up, and there are more products coming out now that are paraben free. Check out ewg.org (Environmental Working Group) and see how your favorite moisturizer rates. This is an outstanding resource for detoxing your products. They rate products and provide suggestions. Make it a bookmark in your browser. A really great alternative for moisturizing is coconut oil. I keep a jar in the shower and let the warm water run over it to melt it. Then I use it as a shaving lotion and after the shower I put on my body while it is wet then pat dry. It absorbs fairly quickly, so it isn’t greasy. You can also get great recipes for homemade lotions at herbsandoilsworld.com. In fact, like their FB page and you’ll get tons of fabulous suggestions for all kinds of household and beauty products.
- Soaps & Body Wash – So often these products are full of sulfates, parabens and other sleazy chemicals. Ditch them! Again, herbsandoils.com has great suggestions on how to make your own if the budget is tight. For a little extra dough Dr. Bronners Castile soaps are awesome! That’s what I use, along with salt and sugar scrubs I make myself with salt or sugar, olive oil and essential oil for scent. Easy peasy. While you’re at it, ditch all the antibacterial soaps in the bathroom and at the kitchen sink and put a bar of Dr. Bronners, or your own homemade soap there instead. The next item explains why.
- Antibacterial ANYTHING – I knew a woman that used to purell her son’s hands constantly. I would tell her not to do that, as it ruins the immune system. Not only does the antibacterial kill the good bacteria that we need, but the chemical that makes it antibacterial is another hormone-altering endocrine disruptor. My friends, we NEED bacteria. Do you really think God/dess made a mistake with our biology rendering it useless and unable to deal with germs? Please, please, please, for everyone’s health get rid of antibacterial anything. Your immune system, if properly cared for naturally, can fend off harmful germs. If something really freaks you out, and you can’t wash your hands with simple soap, use vodka or rubbing alcohol. You can even carry around a small spray bottle of alcohol and tea tree oil (a natural antibacterial) and use that. It also doubles as deodorant. But use it sparingly, because despite what the commercials wants you to believe, germs are necessary and really unavoidable, so get over it.
- Sunscreen – Intuitively, I’ve always believed that it is the products we put on our skin that cause skin cancer, not the sun. Again, I just cannot comprehend how God/ddess made a mistake with our bodies and the sun. Now it is finally coming out that I was right! And ironically, sunscreen is one of the worst culprits of all. And yet, the industry has you believing that without it, cancer is eminent. Sunscreen drained $687 million from our pockets in 2010. Hmmm. Not to mention that vitamin D, which is best in its natural form – the sun, is now surfacing as a hugely important component to wellness. Furthermore, sunscreen is another endocrine disruptor that can wreak havoc on your hormones. So what do you do? There are a few options that can be combined or used individually.
First, if you were able to tan at some point in your life, you have the appropriate pigment in your skin to “season” yourself. Seasoning is short durations of full sun exposure to get your skin used to the sun and slowly build a tan that will protect against burning. Start with 5 minutes, move to 10, then 20, then 30. I’ve also heard of fair-skinned people using this technique successfully. Your diet and what you are putting on your body will impact this process, so be mindful.
We have to be sensible with our sun exposure. Get in the shade if you’ve had enough! Our ancestors knew to limit their sun exposure and rest during the hottest part of the day.
Extra protection for those that are not of fair-skin ancestry is coconut oil. I know it seems counterintuitive, but it works. However, it does not protect the skin for long periods of sun exposure; it is simply extra protection for every day use.
IF you are going to be in the sun for long periods of time, sunscreen may be your only option. Check with the EWG website (www.ewg.org) and get their recommendation on sunscreens with the least toxic impact.
- Plastic – One of the most troubling endocrine disruptors is a common ingredient in plastic called bisphenol A, often referred to as BPA. It is found in the bottles of water, plastic drinking containers, the lining of most food and beverage cans (including soda) plastic food storage containers, toys and more. BPA is also in printer ink, newspapers and carbonless receipts. BPA leaches onto our skin and into our water and food when exposed to it, and heat exacerbates the leaching. Yes, it’s pretty much everywhere. But don’t get overwhelmed. Remember, one step at a time. Start with switching from bottled water to filtered water. Reverse osmosis is recommended as a superior system. Then move on to replacing plastic food storage to glass. And, make sure all your water containers are BPA free or metal. Lastly, when you purchase something and get a receipt, ask for it to be thrown away.
Again, I want to emphasize the importance of not getting weighed down with all of this. I haven’t even mentioned the full spectrum of chemicals in so many products. For example, shampoos, conditioners, hairspray and a wealth of beauty products are unfortunately choc full of toxins. Some hard core naturalists have started a “no poo” movement, which omits the use of shampoo completely. There are less toxic varieties on the market, some quite affordable. I have tried a slew and they just don’t work with my thin, fine hair. So, my hair products I’m not giving up. I’m a Diva after all. But I make sacrifices in other areas to at least dramatically reduce the toxins I’m exposed too. If you’re committed to reducing your toxic exposure, you will find harmony in what works for you and your family.
Once more, here are the resources you will want to pin to your browser’s bookmarks bar to help you detox: www.ewg.org (environmental working group) www.herbsandoilsworld.com (find them on FB too) and www.mercola.com. Dr. Mercola is a world renowned alternative physician and has a wealth of information on his site.
I would love to hear about your journey in going natural and reducing toxic exposure.
In Rhythm & Harmony,