Every Wise Woman

Real Food, Real Health, Real Birth

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Radically Natural Retirement: Final Words and Thanks

It's time to say good-bye.

Ironically, I spent hours over the last week writing this final post, in which I attempted to cover all the important ground I have yet to cover, to finish all the half-written articles in my draft box.  It was my final attempt to make a positive impact on the health and lives of anyone willing to read my words.  Alas, the Internet ate my post...all that work just disappeared.  I kind of want to cry a little, I definitely want to throw something.  My husband asked, "You didn't write and save it in a Pages doc first?"  Ah, that would have been far too sensible.  Why not trust the blogger edit window and it's little "save" button?  I mean, this is the golden age of technology.  What could go wrong?!  Haha...  So I'm taking this loss as a sign from God that I am not meant to say all the things I wrote.  And I suppose that's a fitting end to this experiment of mine, my relationship with the blogging world and with trying to convince people of health reality as I see it.

It may come as no surprise that I am retiring Radically Natural Living.  My presence here has been spotty at best in the last year.  I started this blog at the encouragement of a friend, with the goal of sharing my experience and background in the healing arts...and I enjoyed attempting to share and work in this medium.  I have learned much, and I hope I have taught something of value.  But in all honesty, the fast-paced modern Internet world of blogging and social media just isn't for me.  I remember and prefer the web world before the blogging boom, when sites were slow-paced research-oriented encyclopedias.  Attempting to create, design and understand the technical aspects of the blogging platform takes its toll on an old-school gal like myself.  While I must admit to myself that I stole time from more needful responsibilities to create RNL, I do not regret all the hours spent in planning and writing articles, if I was able to minister to peoples' wellness.  But I cannot continue to burn my candle at both ends.    

I leave the world of Real food, Real health and Real birth blogging to more capable hands and voices, and I look forward to enjoying their continued works.  While I will not be maintaining this blog any further, it will still exist in this space, so I hope my past offerings might continue to be used as a resource.  I will be canceling the custom URL, so this blog may be found in future at www.radicallynatural.blogspot.com.  I might publish a finalized RNL index sometime following this post.

Time permitting, I will continue to work (slo--w--ly) on my EveryWiseWoman Herbals site, which already contains many articles and white papers I have written, as well as my storefront for HerbalAide Super Salve, Labor Oil, and whatever remedies time allows me to offer in future.

Some of you I know, most of you I do not.  I want to thank you all, truly, for your support in the short life of this blog.  I did not accomplish all I set out to do, but that is part of the learning experience.  At times, I tried too hard to be clever, or I neglected to restrain my frustrations with the "state of things" (I was far too snarky as I raged against the machine).  I experienced valuable illuminations during this process, and I have been forced to examine my priorities and goals.  But this has been an enlightening and challenging experience for me, and I appreciate your participation as readers!  There are so many things I wanted to teach, to share, to reveal, but I leave that to others, including all of you.  For you are your own best teacher, when you truly desire to learn and to pursue truth and personal responsibility for your wellness.  It isn't anyone else's job to figure things out and apply the knowledge...it's your job.

For my final act, I will condense some of my favorite ideas and health advice that I desire to leave with willing readers.  (I will not be supplying info links, as my final challenge is that you do the study.)  I am attempting to be quick, not curt, and I share because I care...not just to hear the sound of my own typing.  :)  These are the topics I hope people will study with fervor, applying the accumulated healing knowledge to their lives.

  • Health begins in the gut.  If yours is leaky or riddled with malevolent pathogens, you are not healthy...your immunity, your brain function, your hormones, your ability to absorb nutrients, your EVERYthing depends on your gut health.  Your children's gut health began with your gut health.  If you have eaten modern food or used pharmaceuticals (including but not limited to antibiotics, vaccines, NSAIDs, birth control pills) in your lifetime, you have a leaky and/or pathogenic-overrun gut.  In other words, we all have some level of gut dysbiosis.  Fix it.  Learn how.  (GAPS is an excellent answer, likely the best answer, but not the only answer.)  
  • After you have healed your gut, live on a Nourishing Traditions diet and shun industrial food.
  • Brain chemistry disorders (depression, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, ADHD, brain fog, OCD, etc.) are not all in your head (and they are never "just because")...they often stem from issues in the "second brain," i.e., your gut, and/or substances you put into your body (which can cause gut dysbiosis), and/or nutrient deficiencies (which can stem from gut dysbiosis).  See point one.  Also, suspect and correct vitamin D deficiency (if using food sources, see point one).  
  • If you choose to do the GAPS healing protocol, please, first read the book!  Study die off and withdrawal.  Understand that a healing crisis will occur (in which you will feel worse before you get better).  Expect die off symptoms (a flare up of any previous allergy or GI symptoms, lethargy, crankiness, sleep disturbances, headaches, nausea, vomiting, etc.), and initial lethargy and hunger from ketogenesis (your body switching from burning carbs to burning fat).  You must do GAPS Intro and then stick with Full GAPS for at least 6 months (two years is optimum) to see real results.  You cannot cheat and expect it to work.  Anything worth doing is difficult...real healing takes time, and being truly well demands real effort.  
  • Doing GAPS Intro for a couple weeks once a year is a wonderful way to detox and rebalance your gut flora and strengthen the integrity of the gut walls.  Doing GAPS Intro during or after a significant illness is very healing.
  • When doing GAPS, understand histamine sensitivity and how it might impact your healing process.  Allergic people are prone to histamine sensitivities, and fermented foods and other foods can increase histamine levels in the body, exacerbating symptoms like eczema.  Work on resealing the gut before introducing fermented foods.  Proceed with ferments slowly and do not be discouraged.  Healing takes time.
  • Healing takes time.  It's worth restating; it's a principle never to be overlooked.  Healing is a process.  Anything worth doing takes hard work and commitment, and healing is no different.  Taking drugs that suppress symptoms is never healing.  If you want to heal for real, you need to accept the time and effort involved.  You need to accept the healing crisis, in which you can feel worse before you feel better.
  • Coffee is a drug.  Of primary concern is coffee's damage to the adrenal glands.  The alert "high" you feel when ingesting coffee comes at a cost, overstimulating adrenal response, eventually leading to adrenal fatigue...coffee is an addictive substance that does not add energy, it creates fatigue.  Coffee also contributes to brain fog, cross-reacts with gluten antibodies (leading to gluten sensitivity symptoms), constricts blood vessels, creates acidity, imbalances blood sugar, and produces gut inflammation.  Coffee consumption will catch up with you someday.  If you use coffee to "wake up" or stay alert, if you are saying, "I love coffee.  There's nothing wrong with coffee.  I drink it everyday and I'm not going to stop..." or, "I might be willing to try other things to get healthy, but I won't give up my coffee..." or you're just plugging your ears, squeezing your eyes shut and saying, "Nah, nah, nah, coffee good, coffee good," or if you feel fatigued or headachy or cranky when you don't get your coffee, you need to consider the reality that you are an addict.  You can get flavanoids and natural stimulation from good foods and herbs that do not contain dangerous addictive substances (try cayenne, maca, and coconut oil...not necessarily mixed together, hahaha).  So do yourself a favor and kick the coffee habit.  Detox baths and extra hydration can help with the withdrawal symptoms.  
  • Sugar can be a nutrient-sucking substance that depresses immune function (by damaging nuetrophil responsiveness), feeds malevolent flora, and makes us fat.  Some forms of sugar are bad, others are worse, some are OK.  (Hint: agave is not OK, neither is dehydrated cane juice, which is just a fancy name for a type of refined sugar.)  Study mono vs. poly saccharides and how they affect gut flora, understand blood sugar reactions, study the glycemic index, study fructose and your liver, study insulin resistance, understand how sugar feeds cancer, study various sugar forms' processing procedures and nutrient profiles.  Consider that raw, unprocessed honey (a monosaccharide) is the only natural sweetener that requires no processing whatsoever before consumption, and contains antimicrobial and probiotic benefits.
  • Real fat is a lifesaver.  Eat more.  Your brain, your hormones, your heart, your joints, your tissues, every cell in your body will thank you.  Good fats nourish and satiate us, and never make us fat.  If you love your kids, feed them real fat...and lots of it.  Fat-free or low-fat diets and fake fats (trans fats, vegetable fats) are making us stupid and killing us.  Study why. 
  • Modern grains are inflammatory and can "rip up" your gut.  Going gluten free won't fix the root cause of your gluten problem.  Modern wheat, hybridized for production, grown in synthetic monoculture environments, manipulated for higher gluten content, is a substance no longer recognized by the human body as a healthy, digestible food.  Study the impact of wheat protein, study the ancient alternatives, understand the conventional wheat harvesting process (Roundup, roundup, everywhere), and know that you must remedy your gut health (see point one).
  • Milk can be deadly poison.  Adulterated commercial industrial milk is not food...it contributes to serious health problems, including autoimmune disorders.  If you are not drinking whole, raw, grassfed milk from cows that spend time outside in healthy pastures, don't drink milk at all.  Understand that if you have leaky gut, you likely cannot tolerate even Real Milk.  Heal your gut first, then try Real Milk.  Goats' milk is naturally more digestible for humans than is cows' milk (it's just a molecular reality).  Study the issue of A1/A2 milk and understand heritage breeds vs. frankencows.  Consider the old adage:  Goat milk for drinking, cow milk for butter, sheep milk for cheese.
  • Toxins are everywhere and we need to be aware, practice avoidance, and build and cleanse our bodies through detoxification and nourishment.  Study EMF pollution, industrial food (especially chemically based agriculture and CAFOs) and the pollution that system causes, air and water pollution sources, sick building syndrome, toxic toiletries, cleaning products, baby and feminine products...understand sources of chemicals in your everyday life...synthetic foods and supplements, wireless devices, VOCs, off-gassing formaldehyde, PDBEs, dioxins, drugs, etc.  Learn how to make or find alternatives, and change your lifestyle to reduce toxic load.
  • The FDA is not your friend.  Read all about it.  Dare I say more?  This unelected, corrupt, collusive, bullying, deceptive, profit-mongering (for its buddies) agency calls evil good and good evil.  While its "approved" drugs harm (and even kill) people, the FDA spreads fear and lies about botanical medicine...the (non-patentable, ergo "non-profitable") plants that actually can and do cure illness and disease (competition for the medical industry's drug system).  The FDA has a history of threatening and persecuting out-of-the box doctors, healers and providers who promote and use such remedies.  I recently parted ways with an essential oil company I previously promoted, after said company scoured my blog and informed me that I was out of "compliance" with its FDA-obeisance policies.  I will not comply with the FDA, and I will not do business with natural medicine suppliers who do not believe in the medicine they sell...who encourage their distributors to remain silent about the curative powers of those botanicals.  Apparently I have strong feelings about this.  I need to take a therapeutic magnesium salt and lavender bath.  
  • Vaccines are dangerous.  It's true.  Google it.  OK, kidding aside...study this prominent and essential issue (books, articles and videos abound on the topic)...be warned, it's not pretty.
  • Herbs are not drugs...they are Real Medicine, safe and effective.  Study and understand the whole herb methodology (it's the antithesis to the pharmaceutically influenced "slice/splice/isolate/synthesize" methodology).  Learn how to use botanical medicine properly and consistently.
  • Pregnancy is not an illness and birth is not an emergency.  (Exception: women in the small minority of high risk pregnancies...study the statistics.)  Midwives are pregnancy and birth experts; understand midwifery education and training.  Technological interventions do not make birth safer; homebirth is the safest place for normal birth (hospitals are for acute emergent traumas).  Understand the cascade of interventions and study the midwife model of care.  Don't dose your baby with cocaine during the birth process, don't traumatize yourself and your baby with a damage-causing, synthetic hormone to unnaturally force the process.  Don't become an industrial birth c-section statistic.  Learn how to birth and choose a midwife who will help you do so successfully.  Learn about VBACs.  Free yourself from birth fear!  
  • Healthy children begin with healthy mamas!  Learn the importance of natural child spacing both for mama's and future children's health.  Understand "second child syndrome"  and how to avoid it.  Embrace traditional wisdom...practice biological breastfeeding, co-sleeping and babywearing. 
  • The pregnant body exhibits wisdom (and heightened protective powers...remember "radar nose?").  Cravings for "pickles and ice cream" may be a long-held cultural joke, but is actually body knowledge brilliance.  Traditionally fermented pickles, a probiotic food, feed our body's beneficial flora, boosting immunity and promoting good flora to pass on to baby...not to mention keeping digestion working well throughout pregnancy.  Natural, old-fashioned, high-fat ice cream made with raw grass-fed whole milk and cream (and preferably honey over refined sugars) is a baby-building superfood, full of necessary fats and minerals.  Such dietary components keep pregnant mamas healthy and comfortable, help to build a healthy baby (bones, brain and gut), and prepare mama for nursing success.  
  • Our hormones are out of whack.  Thyroid and adrenal problems are the "new normal."  Irregular menstrual cycles and infertility are modern dilemmas.  Learn about your endocrine system.  Do a liver cleanse (the liver is an important part of the endocrine system).  Heal your gut.  Dump the drug habits and eat real food, particularly good fats and cholesterol (a "mother" hormone and a basic building block of every cell in your body).  Get more vitamin D (a steroid hormone precursor).  Learn about toxins, how to remove them from your body, and how to avoid them (including electronic pollution and EMF radiation).  During all your childbearing years, eat a nourishing fertility diet (look up the WAPF pregnancy/nursing/fertility diet), including fertility-boosting herbs like red clover.  Study lunaception.  Get more sleep. 
  • Your bowels tell you more about your health than most practitioners can.  Study the Bristol stool chart.  You should be passing a healthy bowel movement daily.  Nausea can be an indication of your need to empty your bowels.  Understand that sluggish and abnormal bowels (stinky, scanty, hard, etc.) contribute to toxicity, inflammation, systemic malfunctions and illness.  Become acquainted with the benefits of water enemas.  Coffee enemas can be used therapeutically; coffee acts differently in the body when used in an enema.  (Please study this first...you use very small amounts of low-roasted coffee for enemas, and sensitive people may not do well with coffee enemas...coffee enemas are serious detox therapy.)  Enemas are a wonderful way to detox.  Don't be squeamish, be a grown up and take care of your health.  Let's raise our kids with comfort and knowledge of natural bodily functions.
  • Body odor and skin condition reveal the status of your body's ecological health...this is gut dysbiosis in play again.  Strong and unpleasant body odor indicates flora imbalances.  Natural hygiene begins with systemic detoxification and gut health.  Skin eruptions (rashes, acne, etc) are also a sign of what is happening in your gut...food sensitivities and gut dysbiosis are the culprits.  Your outside reveals your inside, and the odors emanating from you, as well as the "stuff" erupting on your skin, reveal internal health.  (Bad breath can be microbial overgrowth, but can be exacerbated by dehydration.)
  • Dehydration is deceptively common.  Every cell in your body needs water to survive, let alone thrive.  Your brain will divert water from your other organs to ensure its survival.  The average adult body uses about 64 ounces of water daily just for survival processes.  We must replenish this and more daily.  Constipation, headaches, lethargy, loss of suppleness, blood viscosity, systemic toxic buildups...these and more are common side effects of dehydration.  Read Dr. Batmanghelidj's books and learn about your body's needs and cries for water.  (Always remember to replenish electrolytes, by eating more mineral rich salt.) 
  • Real salt is good for you.  Your body needs mineral-rich real salt.  Study why, and don't deprive yourself!
  • Magnesium is the unsung hero of the mineral world.  Study the effects of magnesium deficiency, and how essential magnesium is to muscles and nerves in your body.
  • Vitamin D!  Sun...pastured lard...oysters...nontoxic cod liver oil.  Vitamin D good, sunscreen bad.  Vitamin D good, synthetic versions bad.  Irradiated sheep lanolin?  Skip it!  Eat D rich foods and bathe in the sun (if you can get any).  Your skin synthesizes vitamin D from sun exposure, which is the best way to get D.  Alas, most of us never get enough D-rich sun.  So be sure to eat good D sources for at least 9 months of the year.
  • Real food matters.  Modern, industrial, chemically produced, synthetic, processed, denatured, neutered frankenfood is destroying our health.  Take responsibility for what you put in your mouth and feed your children.  Cutting corners and cheating will catch up with us.  Pay now or pay later.  Garbage in, garbage out!  
  • Laughter heals!  Among other benefits, laughter releases endorphins, which alleviate pain and speed healing.  (Laboring women should have their husbands tell them jokes...or turn on a Tim Hawkins DVD...especially during transition!)  Studies have shown that a positive outlook has a beneficial impact on illness recovery.  The Bible says that a cheerful heart brings health to the bones!  We all need to lighten up, reduce stress, sleep more, and laugh often (especially at ourselves)!
  • Are we slaves to our genetics?  Are genes immutable?  Seems not...  Study epigenetics and read Pottenger, Price, et al.  Learn how to feed your genes and flip your switches.  Take your future grandchildren's health into your hands now.  We are what we eat.
  • Ailments are never arbitrary.  Everything has a root cause.  Nothing just "happens" for no reason.  Anyone who says otherwise is either uneducated, brainwashed, or lying.  

Well that was a mouthful!  And there is yet so much more I wish I could share...that I wish I had shared.  But I suppose this isn't a bad start for a "consideration and research" list to throw in someone's lap.  For anyone who is still left, I will close with a parting plea...

Bless yourself and your families by taking time everyday to turn off your cell phone (if I could un-invent them, I would), turn off the wifi, walk away from your computer, and pick up a real book (the kind made of paper).  Read, absorb, learn, apply, grow, practice...do the hard work to nourish yourselves: mind, body, soul.  There are no shortcuts.  All choices have consequences: good, bad or ugly.  But we all have much to learn; the process is never-ending, utterly essential, and wonderfully rewarding.  Study to show yourself approved; research until your eyeballs go numb.  Make a difference in your own life, and your children's lives.

Enjoy good health, eat Real Food, use Real Medicine and pursue Real Birth, and may you be blessed by accepting our Creator's blueprint for life.

Thank you for reading!  God bless you!

Radically Natural POV: Avoiding GMOs Isn't Enough

I've noticed a little trend of late, at our local farmer's market and natural food store.  I'm hearing inklings of a new twist on the search for clean food.  "As long as it's non-GMO, you're OK...just avoid the GMOs."  I have been told that customers are less willing to pay for organic...they only care that the choices are non-GMO...a less expensive option.  It seems like in the careful consumer's search for "affordable" food, GMO avoidance has taken the spotlight and the chemical soup that we have been so ardent to avoid for so long has begun to fade from our fears.

Image from Wikipedia...Gives new meaning to "food safety," eh?
The GMO scare has become such a prominent focus in the Real Food realm that I wonder if we have lost sight of the bigger picture.  Of course we should avoid GMOs, of course they are not safe, of course they are not Real Food.  But the dangers of GMOs are only one part of the picture.  We can't let the GMO spectre overshadow the reality of toxic chemicals in our soil and our food supply.  The use of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) and synthetic fertilizers is the cornerstone of industrial farming.  These are the dangerous chemicals that health advocates warned us about so fervently in the past decades (how can we forget Silent Spring?), and we should not lessen our resolve to avoid them now.  Research continues to show that exposure to these chemicals can have serious and lasting health consequences for generations (with an emphasis on negative endocrine effects...ie infertility).

We used to have chickens and ducks.  We currently have goats and pigs.  We know firsthand the costs of organic inputs.  My husband's recent search to find local, less expensive, clean grains to feed the animals we raise for our food has been disheartening.  Most of the growers in our area are using the toxic Agent Orange component, 2,4-D, a carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting herbicide.  One farmer my husband spoke with was quick to claim that his grains were non-GMO, but he admitted he did use 2,4-D...the dangers of which he side-stepped with a bit of spin that sounded like a page out of the county extension agent's handbook.

The move to 2,4-D does not bode well for the future of food.  That herbicide is gaining popularity because it works when Roundup does not.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  We know how toxic Roundup is...but 2,4-D is apparently worse.  (And sold for "home" use as well...let us not forget the toxic lawns that American children play on regularly...2,4-D is one of the most popular lawn herbicides used.)  In fact, Dow and Monsanto have already been seeking governmental approval for their next wave of chemical brews to combat the ever-growing "weed" and pest resistance.  As they all do, this widely used herbicide will contribute to the proliferation of "super weeds," which will herald Big Ag's cry for even stronger poisons.  Where does it end?!

Image from heartlandbeat.com...BigAg food prep.
Perhaps I have an overactive imagination, but I can't help feeling that while the heretofore chemically cautious consumers are being distracted by the evil that is GMOs, the chemical companies are laughing all the way to the bank (as they continue to spread their ever-worsening poisons across America).  Of course, big chem and big biotech go hand in hand, as the increasing use of stronger chemicals is being touted by said industries as necessary for their GM crops.

We need to be wary of losing our original zeal for clean, organic, Real Food.  And because commercial (certified) Organic growers are allowed to use some pesticides (yes, even the synthetic kind), we need to be avid about finding clean food sources or growing our own.  If we become lulled into a false sense of security by focusing solely on GMOs, we will return ourselves to the days of eating poison and paying the piper with our physical demise and our children's compromised health future.  The costs of complacency are too high.  

Yes, truly organic food is more expensive, but what is your health worth?  Your children's health...their brain function, immune function, future fertility?  Why are we fooling ourselves into accepting the industry's chemical brews?  Perhaps we need a reminding nudge about what we are turning a blind eye to...maybe a "light read" of the many legal chemical pesticides available to food producers.  (Lists are published state by state...check out this one for New York).  We need to remind our friends, our families, our neighbors, ourselves that the chemical toxins in the food supply have serious and lasting deleterious health affects.  

Nontoxic food costs more to produce; it costs more to purchase.  But...Pay now or pay later.  Such is the reality of dealing with poisons in our food.

Revival of Highly Toxic Herbicide
Pesticide Action Network: Pesticides on Food
2,4-D Fact Sheet
Farmer Speaks Out Against 2,4-D
Big Ag Doesn't Want You to Care about Pesticides
Pesticide Exposure Linked to Adverse Affects Three Generations Later
Beyond Pesticides (Consumer Safety Organization)

Radically Natural POV: Teach Your Children the Three Rs

I once heard a wise man say that if you have children, you are a parent.  It's more profound than it sounds, isn't it?  Being a parent is your number-one, full-time job...it is your life's calling.  Everything else is secondary to it.  And the beautiful privilege and weighty responsibility of any parent is to raise adults...to make people...intelligent, creative, caring, thinking, balanced, self-sufficient, happy, healthy people.  When our children leave our nests, they take with them the bodies we have made for them, the spirits we have nurtured in them, the perspectives we have imparted, and whatever education and indoctrination they received during their formative years...from us and from others.

We parents desire to see our children master the basics of education...the three Rs of Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic...as well as the other subjects that add enrichment to their understanding of life and the world in which we live.  Should we not also desire that they excel in the basics of healthy, nourishing life skills?  If we send our children out into the world without full knowledge of health and wellness, are they truly educated and ready to care for themselves and their future families?  It is essential that we actively teach our children the three Rs of healthy natural living:  Real Food, Real Medicine and Real Birth.

I used to believe that my children would just absorb, as through osmosis, the knowledge and lifestyle my husband and I model for them...that they would seamlessly adopt our nourishing and healing lifestyle.  But if we expect children to grow in wisdom and understanding, we must instruct them.  Anything worth knowing and worth doing is worth studying.  Children need to be actively taught so they will be firmly established in correct knowledge and practices.  Whether it be faith, academics, arts, music and craftsmanship, or nurturing health habits, instruction is key to developing worthwhile skills and lasting principles.

There is a war on for our children's minds and their future consumerist habits.  The industrial models of food and medicine reign supreme as the established default position in our modern culture.  If our children are not firmly entrenched in truth, which path will they choose?  If we don't equip them with the tools of knowledge and skills, they may fall prey to our society's "trust the experts" conventional mindset.  We don't want our children to be intellectually illiterate...neither should we allow them to be "healthily" illiterate.  If we don't actively choose an alternate path...seek ancient and traditional and sensical and natural (and somewhere-buried instinctual) wisdom...we all end up on the Standard American Diet and our culture's standard of health care and birth practices.  It is simply the truth of cultural influence, conventional education, and the prevailing established industries.  [For example: Despite a cornucopia of evidence to the contrary, we still live in a society where most conventionally trained dietitians and medical students are still taught the lipid hypothesis and the S.A.D. basics of macronutrient theory.  They don't distinguish between high fructose corn syrup and honey, hydrogenated soy oil and butter...they play a numbers game.  If the label shows the right percentages of fat, sugar, protein, and a sundry list of vitamins, that's all that matters.  Food source and preparation technique is largely irrelevant.  They remain willfully ignorant of the fact that industrial, synthetic, refined, processed edible goods are not Food.]

Why would we sacrificially and lovingly invest our time and effort for the benefit of our children (from conception)...to protect their health and work to establish a strong physical foundation for their future lives...only to have them leave our home and go on to poison themselves with a conventional industrial life of synthetic food and medicine and fear-based practices?  It is our duty to make sure they fully comprehend the principles of genuine health and nourishment on which we raised them.  If we neglect to actively educate them about the benefits and value of traditional healthy living, can we assume they are invested in pursuing the right choices?  They need to understand...before they are autonomous...the why and the how of nourishing and healing.  If we care about our children, we desire for them good and not ill.  We want to make sure they care and that they are capable and that they desire spouses also "in the know."  Because we will certainly want the same good for our grandchildren that we desired for our children.

Many of us are pioneers in this real food, real health realm.  When I left my parents' home, I was a "dumb cluck."  I knew nothing about being a wife and mother, about food and health.  My husband and I were blessed to grow together in our knowledge as I was mentored by older women who knew better and lived better.  Before I became enlightened to the truth about nourishment and real healing, I continued to perpetrate the damage to my body that was begun in my childhood.  I know firsthand how terribly difficult it is to reverse long-established chronic health problems.  I know firsthand the effects of industrial food and medicine.  I have suffered "garbage in, garbage out."  When I learned what it meant to heal, how to do the hard work to try to reverse ailments, how to create healthy bodies from before conception, I dedicated myself to a new...a better...way of living.  Would I want any less for my children?  I am creating for them a legacy and I desire to see them carry the mantle forward when they are no longer under my direct care.  I want more for my children, so I do the work for them now.  And I expect more from my children in their future choices because they were raised in this healing lifestyle.  They are being reared with a proper perspective on food and healing...much is being invested into creating for them strong and healthy bodies.  They are being given a foundation for their futures.  They are being given the precious gift of good health.  Their quality of life, their abilities to achieve and to conquer and to create and to enjoy life, depends upon maintaining good health (physically, mentally and spiritually).  Our children need to apprehend and adopt the path of nurturing upon which we have set them.  They don't get to play dumb cluck when they graduate into adulthood and leave our homes.  They are leaps ahead of where most of us were in our youth, and they need to understand how good they have it, how well nurtured they have been, and how grateful they should be to have the opportunity to experience life from a platform of health and wellness.

Whether you homeschool or not, you can teach your children the skills and knowledge they need to sustain the healthy lifestyle you are working so hard to establish for them.  Talk to your children about the choices you have made for yourself and for them.  Explain sowing and reaping.  And when they are old enough, assign your children reading materials that teach the principles of Real Food, Real Medicine, Real Birth.   Our children should be prepared to cook traditional nourishing food for themselves.  They should understand holistic physiology and know basic botanical medicine so they can successfully deal with ailments and minor emergencies.  And should they need deeper assistance dealing with disease or extreme acute trauma, they should know how, when, why and from whom to seek help.  They should understand a nourishing fertility diet, and comprehend the truth behind our profit-driven technocratic birth industry.  They should know why homebirth actually is safer for the majority of women and babies.  They should know how to avoid being victimized by industrial medical protocols.

Teach your children well...train them now, and when they grow older they will be prepared to thrive.  Don't leave it up to chance.  Whatever you want your children to know, give them opportunities to explore and acquire foundational knowledge.  Make them active participants in their own healing and nourishing.  Don't just serve them, teach them to minister to themselves and to others.  Make it fun, make it appealing, and make sure they understand why we do what we do.

Young children can begin to learn the basics of how the body works, how it is amazingly self-healing when treated properly... they can begin to learn about healing plants, and good vs. bad foods.  They can be given the default position that women's bodies were made to have babies and that is not a scary or impossible thing.  By the time they are in high school, children should have a basic food and healing curriculum that includes topics on traditional nourishing foods; how diet affects growth and degeneration, wellness or illness; the truth about fat and cholesterol; basic anatomy and physiology from a holistic perspective; botanical medicine; natural birth; and food and medical politics and history.

We work diligently so our babies and children are spared the devastation that the alternatives to nourishing food and botanical medicine can wreak.  We are protecting our children from the S.A.D life that greedy corporations wish they would live.  Let us not take for granted that our children will vicariously adopt our nurturing guiding principles.  Let us actively instruct them so they will not fall prey to the mistaken elitist notion that they need some expert to take care of them or control them.  Let us teach them that they can and should take charge of their own health and make their own nourishing meals and apply their own healing remedies.  Let us be proactive in giving our children the tools and education they need to understand why and how they should do the rewarding work required to pursue and enjoy the naturally nourishing, healing lifestyle.

Some References for Getting Started

Radically Natural Recipes: Pit Powder

While it has become common knowledge among women who care that many commercial anti-perspirant/deodorants should be avoided for their inclusion of aluminum, it is less common for women to understand that using commercial anti-perspirants at all is undesirable.  Blocking the sweat glands under the arms contributes to clogging the lymphs located there, which can increase toxic buildup in said glands.  We need to sweat...it is an essential component is detoxification.  To keep your lymphatic system running cleanly, ditch your anti-perspirant and use the natural solution:  coconut oil and "pit powder."

Coconut oil is a wonderful "deodorant," as it is naturally anti-microbial/anti-fungal.  These properties aid in destroying the stench-causing microbes that live on your skin.  Added bonus: coconut oil heals chafing and creates baby-smooth skin.  I use it plain as my facial moisturizer, and as a base in homemade lotions.  Coconut oil is a veritable face and body healing/beauty balm.

I shower in the evening...love to go to bed squeaky clean.  I apply coconut oil liberally after the shower, including under my arms.  In the morning, I apply pit powder.  It's really not necessary, I find, to apply the powder at night before bed.  I also don't need to reapply coconut oil in the morning.  This system works for me.  You can play with it and see what combination works for you.  

(Health FYI: body odor is directly connected to

gut dysbiosis and pathogen load

.  You will notice significant decreases in body odor and bad breath after doing gut healing and anti-candida protocols.  You eliminate toxins through your sweat; this is a necessary and beneficial bodily function.  When you are systemically imbalanced and toxic, your eliminations smell bad.  Learn more from the links below.)

Making your own pit powder is ridiculously simple.  The ingredients help to absorb odors and sweat.  It is not a bullet-proof formula by any means, and it won't stop sweat the way chemical formulations do.  But remember, we need to sweat.  And, whatever you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream.  So a little less-stinky sweat is better than using chemical cloggers.

To make pit powder

Mix equal parts:

  • Baking soda 
  • Bentonite clay (I like Pascalite)
  • Arrowroot powder 

I make a large batch and store it in a half-gallon mason jar.  I transfer smaller amounts into shaker jars for application.  Into

one cup of pit powder, I add 10 drops of whatever essential oils

suit my fancy.  Stir well and cap.  To use, just sprinkle powder in the palm of your hand and apply as needed.  A little natural moisture does help the powder to "set," so if your pits are bone dry, you might apply a thin layer of coconut oil first.

(This post is shared at

Real Food Wednesday

, check out the great links there!)

Read More

What in Your Bathroom Is Making You Sick?

You Detox Through Your Armpits

Vaccination and the "Scientific Method"

I read this week one of the most succinct, thoroughly researched presentations on the continually raging vaccine controversy.  I wish I had written it!  LOL 

The author highlighted numerous important aspects of this issue, including individual rights, medical efficacy and scientific veracity.  She echoed sentiments and research I have presented, and she emphasized a key component to the controversy: the illegitimate "scientific method" used in vaccine safety trials.  The double-blind placebo controlled trial is the empirical standard of medical science.  But vaccine trials don't use this method.  

You see, vaccines are not research effective because they are not subjected to double-blind placebo controlled studies using a saline solution that is the standard for evidence-based medicine. Vaccinations are tested against other vaccinations, adjuvants, and complex vaccinations – this not only yields inaccurate results but altered and inaccurate safety data. How can you know if something is truly safe if it is not tested against a placebo? -- Megan Heimer, Livingwhole.org
It seems to me that even people who trust that pharma companies are using honest, objective scientific methodology to test their drugs (I am not one of those people) would assent to the falsity of the vaccine safety test methods.  Other drugs are not (supposed to be) tested thus.

Some people might agree with the unscientific vaccine testing protocol, excusing it by saying it would be "unethical" to withhold a "necessary" medicine from a child (I read this in the comments section on Megan's post).  Hmmmm...are vaccines truly necessary?  The jury is certainly out on that one.  Consider that there are thousands of unvaccinated children in this country alone...many of them by parental choice...not to mention the unvaccinated adults.  No child died after a well-check from not receiving a vaccine, but children have died after receiving their vaccines.  I do not believe it is acutely life threatening to withhold a vaccine, so a legitimate study, even a short-term acute reaction study, could certainly be done.  

Kudos to Megan for her Response to Eliminating Vaccine Exemptions!  

Radically Natural Remedies: Tincture Making 101

Information abounds online about how to make herbal tinctures.  At the risk of re-inventing the wheel, I wanted to share my basic "quick" method for tincture making.  Creating herbal medicine is both an art and a science.  Various schools of thought exist regarding tincture making and achieving consistent and efficacious potencies.  To learn the secrets of master herbalists and achieve greater botanical medicine wisdom, please study the resources I'll list at the bottom of the post.

This is my alcohol tincture method (most herbalists use the term "tincture" to mean an alcohol extraction)...glycerites are another form of herbal extraction and will be another post for another day.  Why do we tincture in alcohol?  Some botanical constituents are not easily released into water (such as alkaloids, essential oils, resins, etc.); alcohol is the best solvent for extraction.  Alcohol is also a natural preservative, extending shelf life of your tincture.  And, alcohol as a vehicle gets the medicine into the bloodstream and directly to the liver fairly quickly.  The amount of alcohol you ingest when dosing with tinctures is fairly low, and lower still if you dilute your tincture in water when taking it.

When tincturing with alcohol, you want your menstrum (that's the liquid you use for tincturing the herbs) to be at least 40% alcohol, so an 80 proof vodka or brandy is a good choice (proof is the measurement of ethanol in an alcoholic beverage).  I want to use the best quality alcohol I can find when making medicine.  I want to avoid GMOs in my medicine, to say the least.  Because vodka is made from grains, the GMO concern is very real, not to mention the horrors of chemical farming.  Brandy is made from grapes, but I have little expectation that those grapes are not chemically treated in some way (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc).  I have researched organic alcohol options, but found that the shipping to receive the product costs as much as the product itself, making organic a very expensive option.  My compromise has been to use vodka brands that claim to be GMO-free and alternate vodka with brandy. It's not a perfect solution; if you can't afford organic alcohol, you'll need to choose your rock or hard place, or distill your own alcohol.  LOL

When tincturing your herbs, you want to maximize release of the botanical constituents.  If you are using bark, roots and hard bits, you will end up with more potent medicine more quickly if you grind or blend those bits first.  This allows the plant matter to more efficiently release medicinal and nutritional constituents into the menstrum.  If using leaves and flowers, this step is not necessary, but would not be harmful in the least.

Directions are slightly different when using fresh plant material versus dried because of the amount of water naturally occurring in fresh plant matter.  Fresh herbs require a higher alcohol content because the water released by the herb while tincturing will dilute the menstrum.  Some herbs are more effective if tinctured with fresh material (like Shepherd's Purse, a hemostatic herb), while some react better after drying (like Hops, a sedative herb).  To learn more, see the resources below.  Learning to identify and wildcraft herbs is a wonderful activity, as is growing your own herbs; if you do not have access to good herbs, ordering them from a reputable supplier like Mountain Rose Herbs is your best option.

Herbal Tincture How-To

  • If using fresh plants, tear/chop your fresh leaves/flowers into little bits and stuff a quart mason jar 3/4 full.  If using fresh roots/bark, first grind them and fill jar only halfway (these plant parts will expand in the menstrum).  For dried leaves/flowers, fill jar only halfway (crumble leaves/flowers into small bits).  Dried roots/bark should be ground first; fill jar up to 1/3 full (expect some swelling).
  • For fresh plant matter, use minimum 100 proof alcohol; for dried plant matter, use minimum 80 proof alcohol.  Pour alcohol into jar, almost to top...leave an inch of breathing room, but make sure all plant matter is covered.  Place lid firmly on jar.
  • Label jar with herb name and date; place in dark, cool place for 6 weeks minimum (the longer the herbs tincture, the more potent the medicine will be).  Check jar to make sure herb matter hasn't swollen too much, requiring more menstrum.  The herb matter should be moving freely within the menstrum in your jar when you shake it.
  • Give your jar a good shake every day.
  • When ready, strain the liquid out of the herbs (using a potato ricer, or pouring the tincture through cheesecloth into a bowl/large pyrex measuring cup...squeeze as much liquid out as possible).  Bottle your tincture; store it in a cool, dark place...it should last for years, though potency fades over time.

To Learn More

Making Fresh Herb Tinctures
Mountain Rose Herbs Guide to Making Tinctures
Making a Tincture by Susun Weed
HerbPharm FAQ about Tinctures

Radically Natural Remedies: Herbs to Correct Female Irregularities

Is an abnormal female cycle the new norm? My instincts and observations will be considered an anecdotal source, LOL, but I'm voting yes...sadly, the female reproductive system seems to be working less efficiently and normally as the decades pass. Truly, empirical data is slim. And infertility rate reports are misleading because they include technological interventions, such as in vitro fertilization, rather than just measuring the number of women who cannot get pregnant after a year of trying without unnatural means.

Clearly, young women are having more trouble getting and staying pregnant than their mothers and grandmothers. The impaired fecundity (problems getting and staying pregnant) rate is higher now than 20 years ago, and primary infertility affects about 20 percent more (married) women now than it did in 1965. It's easy to play with the numbers and manipulate statistics...how much real scientific data do we have that can show us legitimate fertility trends? I think we need to start talking more to each other and women in our communities and searching out fertility stories and trends from the past.

Rates of infertility and irregular cycles are frighteningly high among the young twenty-somethings I know. Dysmenorrhea anyone? Menorrhagia? Oligomenorrhea? These are just latin terms for "your cycle is really messed up." How is this happening, ladies? Well, who hasn't read about the damaging hormones in industrial animal foods and endocrine disrupters in plastics and chemicals (like dioxin)? Consider that BPA exposure can increase miscarriage rates...and that's only one of the toxins getting media exposure...what else is lurking out there? Our hormones are increasingly suffering due to the industrial food supply and environmental toxins. It's not rocket science...though rocket fuel is probably a culprit.

Textbook "normal" cycles average 28 days, and the normal window is currently defined by cycles in length of 24 to 34 days. Your cycle begins the day you start your period. Ovulation "normally" occurs at midcycle, around day 14. The hormone dance that regulates your menstruation and ovulation, and affects sexual desire, include estrogen (specifically estradiol), progesterone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The first half of your cycle is the follicular phase, and after the ovary releases the egg, you enter the luteal phase until your next period begins.

Of course there is variation in what should be considered "normal." But during the baby-making years of a woman's life, her cycle should be consistent and regular (fairly close to clockwork), not drop-dead painful and blood depleting, nor nonexistent. To have an unpredictable cycle, an irregular cycle, is certainly not desirable, nor healthy...but those cycles seem to be proliferating and redefining normal in our modern age.

Irregular cycles include:

  • Menorrhagia: excessive bleeding (often including clots and resulting in anemia), and or prolonged periods
  • Dysmenorrhea: excessively painful periods
  • Oligomenorrhea: irregularly long cycles (more than 35 days between periods with fewer periods in a year)
  • Metrorrhagia: irregular cycles with excessive flow and duration, particularly bleeding between periods
  • Polymenorrhea: short cycles (fewer than 24 days between periods with more total periods in a year)
  • Amenorrhea: infrequent and scanty menstruation (pretty much absence of periods)

Rather than drone on with a "know your cycle" lecture, I encourage you to study the subject and try to tap into older source materials and traditional/historical wisdom.  Perhaps query your grandmother or older women in your social circle about their menstrual histories. I will not delve into the varying causes of irregular cycles and reproductive organ ailments, but I encourage you to study the topic, such as ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids, the effects of excess prostaglandins, and how food and pollution negatively affect your hormone cascade.

In the meantime, let's look at some herbal helps that are intended to balance, tone and correct our cycle irregularities. Numerous herbalists have written on this topic and offer wonderful remedies. I borrow from many great healers and am thankful for wisdom passed down!

Chaste Tree
Some plants contain natural phytoestrogens (ex/ licorice and red clover), some promote the production of progesterone (ex/ sarsaparilla and blessed thistle), and others are adaptogens (ex/ siberian ginseng and ashwagandha) that nourish our adrenals and help our bodies deal with stress. Vitex (chastetree) is a female super herb, benefiting the pituitary gland, increasing progesterone levels, and helping to balance hormones. I recommend purchasing herbs through Mountain Rose. (If you purchase through that link or the ads on my blog, I may earn a small commission...thank you for your support!)

Herbal Estrogen Tea

This tea is to be consumed during days 1 to 10 of your cycle (adjust for your lengths if you can estimate when you are ovulating...stop the tea a couple days before ovulation), and is meant to be consumed in conjunction with progesterone tea, below.

1 part licorice root
1 part angelica root
1 part peony root
1 part vitex
1 part red clover tops

Infuse one ounce of the herb mixture in one quart of just boiled water. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain and drink six ounces, three times daily.

Herbal Progesterone Tea

This tea is to be consumed during days 11 to 27 of your cycle (again, try to adjust dates for your irregularities...).

4 parts sarsaparilla root
2 parts blessed thistle
4 parts raspberry leaf
1 part ginseng root
1 part vitex

Prepare and consume as above.

Herbs for Painful Menstruation

The following herbs are helpful for cramps and discomfort during your period:

  • Cramp bark
  • Motherwort
  • St. John's Wort
  • Chamomile
  • Wild Yam root
  • Valerian root
  • Skullcap

Make an infusion with 1 tsp. each herb, steep for 20 minutes in 2 cups just boiled water. Add some peppermint leaf for flavor and additional analgesia. Alternately, try to find a tincture with those herbs in combination, or buy singles and mix them yourself. Take 30 drops in water as needed (every half hour during intense pain periods).

Essential oils that help ease menstrual pain include lavender, chamomile, clary sage, and marjoram. Herbal oils of St. John's wort and arnica combine with the EOs to make a soothing anti-inflammatory, analgesic rub. If you don't want to source and make your own, buy my product, Labor Oil, which has a following among my midwife mentor's clients as a help for labor pain and headaches.

Herbs to Help with Heavy/Excessive Menstrual Bleeding

  • Shepherd's Purse
  • Yarrow
  • Red raspberry leaf
  • Vitex

You can purchase separate tinctures of these herbs and combine them, taking 3 droppers full every 15 minutes until bleeding slows (for very heavy bleeding); use 2 droppers full every hour for moderately heavy bleeding. To make a tea infusion, combine equal parts of each herb, use one ounce to one quart of boiled water, steep 20 minutes, and drink as needed (teas are less potent than tinctures, so we use larger quantities of tea than tincture).

Is This a New Era of Normal? Detoxing for Life with Constant Toxic Load

I'm no engineer.  I'm absolutely not brainy with electronics.  Computers and the like regularly set my teeth on edge (as I'm sure is apparent to anyone with any tech sense, LOL).  But every so often, I dream of inventions.  I know I couldn't manage to create them, but I wish someone would!

I have a love-hate relationship with my front loading washer.  I love that I can stuff a king-sized comforter in it, but I hate that it doesn't fill with water.  I long for gushes, not trickles.  What's the point of an "environmentally friendly" washing machine that has to be run three times just to get a load clean?  Water, Whirlpool!  Water would help!  I long for the days of old-fashioned "water wasting," full-to-the-brim, heavy duty, steel-drum top loaders.  The kind my parents had.  These new, shiny, rinky dink, "designed obsolescence" appliances make me want to set my hair afire.  I would love to see someone manufacture an honest-to-goodness, super large capacity, water-gobbling top loader with a removable agitator...so I can take it out when I want to wash a king-sized comforter or sleeping bag.

Or how about a voice-activated shower shut off system?  You program it to the sound of your screaming...  So when your husband decides to bless you by washing some dishes during your "quiet time," stealing ALL the hot water, or your child flushes the toilet while you are in the shower and you get scalded, a quick "AAAIIIIEEEEEEEEE," and the water turns off instantly.

But my current desire is a special pair of glasses with which you could see all the pollution sources around you...EMFs, radiation, petroleum by-products...everything.  The glasses would detect and measure the dangers for you.

This last invention would have come in quite handy last week, when my children received burns after playing in the fresh fallen snow.  It was not a freezing cold day.  I considered the possibility of superficial frostbite (aka frostnip), in which the exposed skin surface freezes, initially feeling red and itchy, but then turns pale and becomes numb.  Frostnip typically affects the cheeks, ears, fingers and toes, but my children's marks were only on skin where snow had come into direct contact.  My children's marks looked like a sunburn, and they were warm, raw and painful to the touch...they never paled and did not numb.  So my instinct urged me to question...  If these were burns, what could be the cause?

I had recently read about continued radiation release from Fukoshima. Certainly it wasn't broadcast on CNN or MSNBC.  But my brief years as a professional journalist firmly entrenched me into a distrust of corporate media.  [Why would we expect that the "official" stories are always true?  Or that we are being given anything more than a "story" at all?  Never forget, my friends, truth is stranger than fiction and the powers that be do not trade in truth.  Ask any classically trained journalist (who still believes in sharing the unvarnished truth with the public) about PR spin doctors, and you'll get more of an earful than you ever desired.]

And perhaps the information is flawed.  But watching a Geiger reading last week at the beach in California indicating radioactivity at 1200% above normal, really raised my hackles.  And seeing a man in Missouri reading radioactivity in the snowfall started me worrying.  Frankly, I do not care the source of the pollution, be it Fukoshima or something else in the air...  When empirical evidence tells us that the problem exists, the source is somewhat irrelevant.

My children, excited for our year's first significant snowfall, did what all exuberant youth should do.  They eagerly plunged into an afternoon of snowfort building and snowball throwing.  But after an hour, they came in the house complaining.  They didn't feel quite well, and their skin itched.  An hour later, upon examination, I noticed that they had red, raw patches on their skin...only in a few places, where they had direct contact with snow.  My eldest son received snowballs down the back of his neck, my middle son had snow on his face and chin, and my young daughter had a small snowball stuffed (by a lovingly goofball brother) down her shirt.  Each child complained that the red marks, which I can describe only as burns, were tender...painful upon touch.

I have never before seen such a reaction to the snow.  I was concerned and wanted some confirmation of my suspicions...pronto.  But I don't own a Geiger counter (yet).  Thankfully, I know someone who knows someones who were likely candidates.

It could just be my imagination (or a bit of wishful thinking), but it seems to me that in our rural northwest location we are surrounded by an above-average demographic of doomsday preppers.  As we are still rather "new" here, I am unsure if this contingent is "life as normal," or if it is a recently rising trend.  But God bless those self-sufficient survivalists, some of them are quite friendly, some of them willing to share their wisdom, and some of them have Geiger counters.

The report I received from my friend was that the gentleman he queried went walking in the snow with his detector, and he reported that we were "hot."  Ten RADS an hour.  He admitted his equipment might not be properly calibrated, but considering the radioactive readings others got last week, I am inclined to believe that all is not clean and clear in the air.  I do not yet fully understand all the nuances of measuring radioactivity and the RADS reading, and I continue to study the issue.  I am desirous of confirmation or contradiction from other people with equipment.  But I am not going to sit around and do nothing, assuming that this is my overactive imagination.  If we are being exposed again (or still) to radioactivity from Fukoshima or something else, I need to be proactive to protect my family.

So my hunt for the daily radiation detox regimen begins.  In a shocking turn of events (gasp), I am not attempting in this post to reveal all the answers, remedy all ailments, firmly direct readers.  I simply want to share this part of my journey so you might begin to question the necessity of your own.  I will tell you what I've discovered and decided so far and urge you to research further and consider what it means to live in a chronically toxic environment.

Protection and Detoxification from Radiation

Treatments for nuclear contamination include familiar nutrients and supplements that protect our organs and detoxify our bodies.  The following include a few essentials that I am giving my family daily.  Most of these items have been part of our routine for years, and most of them overlap with the GAPS detox protocol, but I am increasing regularity and dosage (particularly of clay).  Please research and study beyond my recommendations, as there is much to learn and I am only sharing an overview.

Helpful herbs, foods and vitamins include:
  • Chlorella
  • Reishi mushrooms
  • Ashwagandha
  • Siberian Ginseng
  • Kelp
  • Sea salt
  • Coconut oil
  • Flushing with proper hydration (drink 1 oz. water for every pound you weigh and add 1 tsp. mineral rich real salt to every gallon of water you consume)
We hear a lot about iodine supplementation as a crucial component to radioactivity exposure.  Elemental iodine is important, but it isn't enough.  It won't protect your entire body from all types of radiation.  It is fundamental for thyroid protection, and it should be used daily.  I recommend Lugol's 5%, Iodoral tablets, and Nascent Iodine.  Take selenium with iodine, as it improves thyroid function and iodine absorption.  I recommend 200 mcg. selenium and a minimum of 50 mg. iodine daily (for adults).  To learn more about iodine and to better determine your personal dose, please read:
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is an effective and inexpensive remedy for radiation exposure.  It is especially protective of our kidneys; it binds with uranium.  Drinking a baking soda/water mixture will help flush radiation from kidneys, and a detox bath of baking soda, epsom salts (or magnesium citrate flakes) and clay will flush radiation from our bodies.  I use one to two cups of baking soda in a bath, soaking for at least 20 minutes.  When using the combo, I add 1 cup of salt, and 1/2 to 1 cup clay.

Clay can act as a sponge for absorbing and removing toxins from our bodies.  Consuming and bathing in clay is currently part of our "normal" routine.  Take care when consuming clay that you drink plenty of water, and begin with a small dose.  Some practitioners believe clay is safe for regular consumption in small amounts, others believe it should be used for temporary healing only.  Read more about consuming clay for detoxification and decide for yourself.  Good quality clay is essential, of course.  I use Pascalite, but a high quality bentonite and/or montmorillonite would be good choices as well.  My current internal dose is a teaspoon a day mixed in 24 oz. water.  I add this to my morning tonic of 2 Tb. apple cider vinegar and cellular/hormonal regenerating herbal tonic (more on those someday...maybe).  Each member of my family drinks and bathes in clay (our detox baths often include magnesium citrate, baking soda, and ACV).

I hope you are inspired to find answers and apply remedies to protect the people you love.  I owe special thanks to friends who listened to me rant and vent last week, and who helped channel my research quickly.  If we are living in the new age of normal that includes chronic exposure to toxic pollutions over which we have no control and even no warning, we should daily apply prophylactic detoxification protocols.  If you are doing the GAPS protocol, much of this will be familiar to you.  My focus now is on constant detox rather than temporary or bi-yearly detox.  I wish you all well!

Radically Natural Book Giveaway: Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse

I wish you all a healthy, happy New Year and I hope you will consider dedicating this year to healing your body.  Starting with the liver flush protocol is a gift to yourself and your family.  In fact, have your entire family do the cleanse, and enjoy the fruits of detoxifying.  My gift to one of you is the The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse book by Andreas Moritz, which I have referenced in my previous posts.  Thanks for entering the giveaway and supporting my work!  Please share this with your friends.  This post is linked at Real Food Wednesday, check out the other great posts shared there this week.  Happy healing!

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Radically Natural Remedies: Flush Your Liver for Systemic Detox

As discussed in my previous post, a liver cleanse is one of the most important steps in establishing or regaining health.  Flushing your liver and gallbladder of stones will reverse numerous maladies and aid systemic healing, including autoimmune and hormonal disorders.  It is true that health begins in the gut, which is why the GAPS protocol is so important.  But health is maintained by the liver.  To be truly well, we must address both.  The GAPS program, combined with a liver flushing program, is an effective therapy for "cleaning house," detoxifying, revitalizing immunity, repairing brain chemistry imbalances, and more.  And what better time to begin your journey of healing than the coming New Year?  I'm not one for "resolutions," but tackling important projects and turning new corners seems apropos at this time.

Whether or not you think you need GAPS (and it is highly likely that you do), a liver flush is an essential key to wellness.  If you are already on the GAPS protocol, adding a round of liver flushes will speed your healing and ensure benefits that GAPS alone cannot provide.  If you have not yet begun GAPS, but plan to do so, this is the perfect time to introduce the liver flush program.  The best news is that a liver flush is neither difficult, nor expensive.  First I will describe the flush, then I will propose a GAPS/Flush schedule.

The Liver Flush

The entire cleanse will take many months.  You do one flush at a time, but you must do enough flushes to remove all the stones currently housed in your liver.  DO NOT begin the cleanse unless you are willing to do it properly and to follow through with the entire program.  You can suffer different and worse symptoms if you do not perform the cleanse properly.  Please read Moritz's book to understand better the why and how of the cleanse.  Most adults need an average of eight flushes to remove all the stones.  

One flush requires six days, five of those being preparation days.  Plan for your sixth day (and the following seventh day) to fall on days where you can relax and be undisturbed for an evening of sleep and a morning of bathroom visits.  For example, day one would be Sunday, so that the evening of the "real flush work" lands on Friday, and Saturday morning you flush your results.  But the protocol couldn't be simpler.

*Please read Moritz's book before attempting this liver cleanse.  He reminds readers numerous times that it is imperative to do the protocol exactly as he describes, so you suffer none of the adverse affects that can occur otherwise. 

Days One through Five

  • If you cannot tolerate or do not want to drink apple juice (it made me nauseated and gave me the shakes...my body could not tolerate the sugar), use 1 teaspoon natural malic acid powder dissolved into 32 ounces water.  The L-Malic Acid is the natural, not synthetic, form.  (It is the malic acid in the juice that softens the stones, preparing them to pass.)
  • Other alternatives to the apple juice or malic acid include the herb Gold Coin Grass, cranberry juice, and apple cider vinegar.  See below for dosing.  I have not tried these methods.
  • Eat "lightly" throughout the week.  Soup is an excellent option.  And do try to cut back on fats.  That helps the olive oil drink on Day Six to be more effective.  (A large ingestion of fats prompts the gallbladder to release stones...but without the proper protocol, such as softening stones with malic acid and opening ducts with epsom salts, you can get stones stuck rather than passed, which can cause discomfort and various symptoms.)
  • During this week, it is essential that you clear out the bowels.  Even if you have regular movements, you can have impacted fecal matter lining your intestines.  You want to use this flush as an opportunity to clean your bowels, and you need to have a clear passageway for flushing out the stones.  A daily colonic (multiple enemas) is optimal.  Additionally you can use a product called Colosan (a concentrated form of magnesium combined with oxygen that acts by drawing water into the bowels...get the powder, not the capsules), or large doses of magnesium citrate (like Natural Calm...take it until you get runny bowels).  Colosan is the better choice.  But you must be sure you are having regular very soft to runny stools every day.  Doing enemas until your bowel runs clear (you have passed all dark brown and foul smelling matter) is an essential way to ensure that you are clearing your bowels.

Day Six

  • Drink 32 ounces of the apple juice or malic acid solution in the morning before eating anything.
  • Eat lightly until 1:30 pm, after which you will fast.  Drink water generously.  
  • Important:  The fasting, combined with the enemas, ensures that you do not create feces and that when you flush you will be passing only water, bile and stones.  If you have feces in your intestines, this can impede the passing of stones; stones can become lodged in your tract and can cause pain (perhaps even pancreatitis) in the next days or weeks.  Make sure you have flushed your colon...home or professional colonic therapy is essential to this cleanse.

At 6 p.m.

  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in 24 ounces water.  You are making four 6 oz. servings.  (The epsom salts dilate the bile ducts, making the stones easier to pass.)
  • Drink your first serving (6 oz.) now.
  • Do not drink fresh water for 20 minutes before or after consuming the epsom salts.
  • You may add a squeeze of fresh lemon to the salt water to make it more palatable, and drinking with a straw helps to bypass taste buds.  You may rinse your mouth with fresh water after drinking.

At 8 p.m., drink your second serving (6 oz.) of epsom salts.

At 9:30 p.m., do an enema (or two or three or four...) to clean out the bowels.

At 9:45 p.m.

  • Juice three or more room temperature grapefruits.  You need 3/4 cup grapefruit juice.  (Alternatively, you may combine orange and lemon juice.)
  • Combine this with 1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.  
  • Add to a pint or quart jar and shake vigorously to mix, about 20 times, or until mixture is watery. (The oil in this mixture prompts the liver to release the stones, the grapefruit juice increases the production of bile secretions.)

At 10 p.m.

  • Stand by your bed and drink the entirety of the concoction without stopping (consume within five minutes).  After an afternoon of fasting, I found this juice mixture to be delicious.  Anyone used to a high fat diet will have no trouble...my son and I agreed that the mixture was like a delicious citrus smoothie.
  • Immediately lie down in bed, propping your head up on pillows so that your head is higher than your abdomen.  (You may also lie down on your right side with knees pulled up to abdomen.)
  • Lie still for the first 20 minutes, no talking, no moving, just resting.  Think happy thoughts about how many stones will leave your body.
  • Go to sleep.  (Don't worry if in your sleep you don't keep your head propped up.)
  • Additionally, you may use a castor oil pack over the liver area to help reduce congestion.  Wet a flannel cloth with a few spoonfuls of castor oil and lay it over your liver (located under your right lower ribs), cover it with a towel.  Have this ready to go by your bed before you drink your grapefruit oil.

Be prepared

to feel nauseated, perhaps even to vomit.  You have begun releasing toxins from your liver and it could make you feel ill.  Be prepared to begin passing watery stools in the evening, though most people do not pass anything until the morning.

In the morning

Between 6 to 6:30 a.m.

(not before 6 a.m.)

  • Drink the third portion (6 oz.) of your epsom salt water.  If you feel very thirsty, drink a glass of tepid water before drinking the epsom salts.
  • Go back to bed, but try to stay propped up; alternately, stay up and read but be restful!

Between 8 to 8:30 a.m. drink your final glass (6 oz.) of epsom salts.

At 10 a.m. you may drink freshly pressed juice (fruits, carrot).

At 10:30 a.m. you may eat a couple pieces fresh fruit.

At 11 a.m. you may eat light food.  Continue to eat lightly throughout the day, as you did the week in preparation for the cleanse.  Be sure to hydrate well.

During the morning

(most likely beginning after the final round of epsom salts) and perhaps into the afternoon, you will pass numerous watery bowel movements.  These may contain "chaff" or "foam," which is undigested bile, along with stones.  Some of your stones may be calcified; these tan or whitish stones will sink.  Some will float...these are the pea-green or greenish-black cholesterol/bile stones.  Stones may be tiny, they may be larger.  Expect anything from smaller than pea-sized to as large as an inch.  Light-colored stones are newer, the dark stones are older.  You may pass dozens, or even hundreds of stones.  (Most of mine were pea sized and blackish; I passed about 200 stones my first flush.)  Expect your stones to smell foul.  Feel free to spoon out some stones and examine them...it's a fascinating science experiment.

For three days following your cleanse, continue with the Colosan or enemas (preferably multiple enemas) to ensure bowel flushing.  You don't want gallstones to remain in your colon, causing irritation.

It is important to leave a two-week break (from the day you flush to your next "day one" of drinking the malic acid) between liver flushes, to allow the gallbladder and liver to recover.  Passing these stones is like mini surgery (without the horrifying side effects) and we want the body to recuperate.  But remember, you must continue to flush until you have passed all your stones.  You will know you have succeeded when you do two cleanses and you have passed no stones.

In the hours following your cleanse, you will likely feel better, rejuvenated, and experience reduction in your ailments' symptoms.  But in a few days, symptoms will return as more stones travel from the back of the liver forward toward the hepatic ducts.  So plan to keep cleaning your liver until you find no more stones.

A note on children

Andreas Moritz, author of The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse, recommends that children ages 10 to 16 can do the flush, but should be given a half dose of everything and that the flush should start an hour or two earlier on Day Six.  I am comfortable having my younger children do the flush.  This protocol is noninvasive, gentle, safe and effective.  It is important to reduce the dosages for children, and not require that young children fast completely on the afternoon and evening of Day Six if they are unable to do so.  Have them eat lightly and expect that the stones will not release easily on their own on the seventh morning, because they can be caught in feces in the colon.  In this case, an enema before ingesting the grapefruit oil and again in the morning after the second dose of epsom salts should remedy the situation.

So for children, the doses would be:

  • 1/2 tsp. malic acid in 16 to 32 oz. water for days one through six (alternatively 16 oz. apple juice)
  • 2 Tb. epsom salts in 24 oz. water on evening six (start at 4 p.m., rather than 6)
  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice mixed with 1/4 cup olive oil

[Children can have stones who have not been fed a toxic diet or given antibiotics and vaccines.  My children are not in that category and my children flushed dozens of stones in their first cleanses.  Various factors can contribute to stones, including environmental toxins, stress, propensity to autoimmune disorders (in our case, allergies), gut dysbiosis, and consumption of foods to which one is allergic or sensitive.  But past consumption of less-than-stellar foods could have contributed to the formation of stones.  Even once you switched to a nourishing diet, the stones are likely still housed in the liver and need to be removed.]

My 4-yr-old's stones

My 4-yr-old's stones

My four-year-old daughter passed the largest, but newest, stones of our family. (The photo doesn't show the color accurately...her stones were lighter and brighter green, not the dark brownish green that I, my husband, and my sons had.)  I did need to administer an enema the morning of her stone release (the morning after Day 6), because she did not fast on Day 6.  I don't expect young children to be able to fast.  The body will produce feces from that afternoon and evening meal, so the stones can get "caught" in the feces.  She did not easily pass the water and bile with stones that the rest of us did.  But I administered a water enema, and her stones came right out with the feces from the previous evening's meal.  So if you feed your young children the afternoon of Day 6, be prepared to administer an enema the next morning to help release the stones, as well as follow-up enemas after the flush.

I want to emphasize that my daughter was exclusively breastfed for her first year, after which she never ate processed foods, nor refined sugars.  As with all my children, she has never been vaccinated, and she has never received any drugs (even OTC).  She is the healthiest of my children, but still had some food sensitivities.  Her stones smelled of petroleum, as did all of ours.  I share this to emphasize that even young, healthy children raised on a WAPF diet are subject to environmental toxins that can affect their organs.

Alternatives to apple juice/malic acid powder

  • Gold Coin Grass tincture:  1 tablespoon on an empty stomach 30 minutes before breakfast.  This method must be used for eight days before the day of the actual flush.
  • Cranberry juice:  4 ounces of juice + 4 ounces of water, four times a day for six days.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar:  2 tablespoons in a glass of water, four times a day for six days.

The GAPS/Flush Schedule

The first schedule is for those of you who have not yet begun the GAPS protocol.  You will be gearing up to begin Intro, hopefully by using the excellent preparation schedule laid out by Baden Lashkov in the GAPS Guide.  (See below for purchase options.  As with the other links on this page, if you purchase through one of these links, I could accumulate a small commission.  Thank you!)

[Yes, technically citrus fruits are GAPS illegal during Intro.  So test yourself on a bit of grapefruit juice before doing the cleanse.  A mixture of orange and lemon juices can be substituted for the grapefruit juice.  If you are highly reactive to these fruits, don't use this protocol until you move to Full GAPS and can tolerate them.]

  • Before beginning Intro, do one round of the liver cleanse.
  • Begin Intro.
  • When you have reached Stage Five of Intro, do a liver cleanse using the L-Malic Acid powder.
  • Continue finishing Intro.
  • When you have begun to merge onto Full GAPS (or three weeks after your previous cleanse), do another flush.
  • Continue the flush protocol every two to three weeks until you no longer pass stones.
  • Finish GAPS.
  • Enjoy greater success and renewed health!
  • Do a liver flush every six months for the next few years, then move to once a year.
  • Go back and do the liver flush protocol from start to finish if you experience major illness or "flubs" in your diet and your health becomes impaired.  Also go back to GAPS Intro for a few weeks in this case.

If you are already on the GAPS protocol, doing Intro, just begin your liver flush program once you reach Stage Five.

If you are already on the GAPS protocol, doing Full GAPS, begin your flush program now and follow it to completion.

In a future post I will address herbs and nutrients that help to regain and maintain liver health, which you can add to this protocol.  For now, keep it simple and just begin to flush out those stones.

For More Information

Liver Flush Q&A with Andreas Moritz

 GAPS Guide 2nd ed. paperback

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 GAPS Guide 2nd ed. epub file (most versatile file type) 

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 GAPS Guide 2nd ed. mobi file (Kindle)

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You Must Flush Your Liver...GAPS Alone Isn't Enough

After years of experimenting and working through various healing protocols, I have found that certain approaches are more efficacious than others.  But I have also learned that we need to combine important aspects of varying approaches.  In my struggles to heal myself and my children from significant allergies, gut dysbiosis and hormonal disruptions, I have discovered what I believe to be effective healing strategies.  As I have shared regularly on this blog, GAPS is an integral part of recovering health.  Numerous ways to modify and enhance GAPS exist, and the program will help you to achieve gut healing.  But to be truly well, most of us need more.  GAPS alone isn't enough, so I have designed what I call GAPS Plus.

GAPS tackles one of the most deleterious health scourges that modern Americans face:  gut dysbiosis.  Health begins in the gut, where 80% of our immune system is housed.  When we suffer from leaky gut and an overgrowth of pathogenic flora, we cannot maintain good health.  We fall prey to numerous auto-immune disorders and brain chemistry imbalances.  GAPS can help you heal your gut, repopulate your body with necessary beneficial flora, and detoxify your system.

But in my opinion, GAPS is missing a key element.  To overcome toxicity and heal liver stagnation and malfunction, we must flush the liver of "stones."  The liver is a crucial organ, second only to the brain in its mechanics of regulating life systems.  Your liver controls the growth and function of every cell in your body.  Additionally, the liver is the largest gland in your body, part of the endocrine system that regulates hormonal functions.

Blockages and obstructions in the body restrict nutrient and oxygen flow to cells, beginning the cascade toward disease, such as autoimmune disorders, even cancer.  Waste matter can accumulate and build up in the organs and ducts of our body.  We see this affecting our health negatively throughout bodily systems, as in constipation (a build up of fecal matter in the intestines) or kidney stones (calcifications obstructing the flow of the kidneys), even "glue ear" or ear infections (sticky mucus combined with toxins and bacteria builds up in eustachian tubes).  The liver can suffer restricted performance through similar obstructions, particularly gallstones in the liver and gallbladder.

These stones...the result of hardened bile salts combining with trapped substances, like undigested cholesterol and toxins...can congest the gallbladder, the liver, and their ducts.  This congestion interferes with crucial health functions like digestion, blood detoxification and elimination of waste, not to mention cellular function and communication within the nervous and endocrine systems.

While about 20% of stones in the gallbladder consist of minerals (bile and calcium salts), the majority of the gallstones that become trapped in the liver are not calcified, and will not show up with imaging technology.  Only when an excessive amount of cholesterol-based stones are housed in the liver, will they appear in an ultrasound...prompting the diagnosis of fatty liver.  When the liver accumulates thousands of these stones (up to 20,000), it can suffocate and cease to function.

Just as modern Americans suffer from gut dysbiosis due to lifestyle and dietary factors, we suffer from these liver and gallbladder stones.  The most common causes of stones are the result of diet (lowfat diets, overeating, industrial foods, commercial salt, dehydration), pharmaceutical use (particularly hormone therapy and birth control pills, cholesterol-lowering drugs), fluoride ingestion, sleep disruptions (ignoring natural sleep/wake cycles) and emotional stress.  

Chronic illnesses and autoimmune disorders are directly related to liver function.  And liver function is impaired by hundreds or thousands of stones that you didn't even know you had, that developed over many years...likely starting in childhood.  When the gallbladder fills with stones, surgical removal is often recommended.  How could it not be better to avoid such procedures?!  And gallstones may not house in your gallbladder, but rather move into the liver and accumulate.

This is where a liver and gallbladder flush comes into play, and my tweaking of the GAPS protocol.  As much as I, Herbalistmama, hate to admit it, herbs are not enough.  Juicing isn't enough.  Dietary protocols and nourishing real foods are not enough.  You must move out the stones.  This can be done through a noninvasive, relatively simple process at home.

Conventional medicine is behind the curve yet again in its refusal to acknowledge the simple approach to ridding the liver of these troublesome stones.  In fact, liver stones are not even widely acknowledged in the conventional approach.  While Johns Hopkins at least acknowledges the reality of "intrahepatic gallstones," the myopic approach to their widespread existence and ease of eradication points us once again to self care.

Symptoms of liver stones include:
  • Every symptom of any ailment that you suffer
LOL!  Seriously, the list is rather long, as to be expected.  Remember, stones inhibit the work of the liver.  A malfunctioning liver does cause myriad ailments, minor and major, acute and chronic.  The stones can be the root cause of diseases of the mouth, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and bile ducts, intestines, circulatory system, respiratory system, urinary system, nervous system, reproductive system, bones, joints, skin.  Much crossover exists between ailments caused by gut dysbiosis and liver congestion; disease-producing culprits in both cases include toxicity, intestinal disturbances, inefficient nutrient absorption, and impaired metabolism and brain chemistry.  Additionally, gallstones impair bile production, causing a host of digestive issues.

Stone-related disorders include eczema, acne, psoriasis, poor lymphatic drainage leading to numerous reproductive ailments and inflammation, thyroid disorders, other hormonal imbalances, lymphatic obstruction and its varying effects, arthritis, hemorrhagic disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, rickets, tumors, back pain, hypertension, edema, kidney infection, allergies, respiratory ailments, "high" cholesterol, all gastrointestinal disorders, impaired saliva production leading to tooth and gum disease, chronic headaches, and more.  If you suffer from any such ailments, consider flushing your liver.  If you do not feel vibrant, thriving and robust, consider flushing your liver.  If you are currently breathing, consider flushing your liver.  (LOL...but I am serious...I can't imagine anyone who would not benefit from a liver flush.)

Here is a quick self test for liver congestion:  Stand up and relax, breathe deeply a few times.  Place the fingers of your right hand along your lowest right rib and try to insert your fingers up under the ribs.  (This is where your liver lives.)  You should be able to have enough wiggle room to get your fingers in upwards to the second knuckle.  If you cannot, or if you feel pain upon moving your fingers up under your rib, you are probably congested.  Although, being able to get your fingers up under your ribs doesn't guarantee lack of stones, so assess your physical and health symptoms for your overall picture. 

According to Andreas Moritz, naturopathic physician and author of The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse, additional physical signs of gallstones in the liver and gallbladder include:
  • Brown patches on skin ("liver" spots)
  • Pimples or hair growth between eyebrows
  • Oily forehead, excess perspiration on forehead
  • Yellow tinge to facial skin
  • Premature graying hair, hair loss in center of the head
  • Yellowish or dark circles under the eyes ("allergy shiners"), puffy bags under eyes
  • Redness in whites of eyes, eyes appear "dull"
  • Red nose, indentation in tip of nose
  • White- or yellow-coated tongue, pimples or cracks on tongue
  • Bad breath, frequent burping, mucus discharge into throat and mouth
  • Crust formations at corners of mouth, ulcers in mouth
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Tonsillitis
  • Yellowish teeth, especially canines
  • Vertical ridges on fingernails, white spots on nails
  • Yellow color of feet
  • Dry, hard stools
  • Sharp, sour odor of stools
  • Pale colored stools, floating stools
  • Difficulty digesting fats (feeling nauseated after a high-fat meal)
I first learned about liver flushing many moons ago when I read Hulda Clark's The Cure for All Diseases.  Since then, I have read various similar recommendations.  Somehow I kept pushing the flush to the back corners of my "to do" list, thinking that juicing and herbs would adequately clean my liver.  After struggling with my most sensitive child's plateau on the GAPS protocol, and praying for clarity on how to better heal him, I turned again to the liver flush material.  I saw that my symptoms for the last decade pointed heavily to a stone-congested liver, as did my son's.  I decided to hesitate and procrastinate no longer, and to do my first round of liver flushing.

The bad news is that we can be riddled with thousands of stones and that it can take many months to rid ourselves of these stones.  And we must be diligent to finish the course once we begin, because if we start to move toxins out of our organs and body but do not finish the job, we can feel quite icky...not to mention remain miserably in our ailments.  But the good news, the most excellent news, is that this process works and it is not expensive, time consuming, nor painful!  (OK, there is some nausea potentially involved for one evening, and some runny stools...but what is that compared to being freed from real health maladies?!)  For my first cleanse, I passed about 150 small stones, most pea-sized, some smaller, a few a bit larger.  For anyone who doesn't think this stuff is really cool (like I do), forgive the "graphic" photo showing a sample of my stones.  The most interesting part to me was the stones' odor...it was quite unpleasant and had a strong tone of tar/motor oil/burnt rubber, which I attribute to trapped environmental toxins.

I want to emphasize that I believe the GAPS protocol is still essential to regaining health.  A liver flush complements this healing.  With GAPS, you will seal your impaired intestinal lining and eliminate your malevolent pathogenic flora.  You will begin to rebuild your necessary beneficial flora and detoxify.  A liver flush cannot accomplish the necessary goals of gut repair.  But the flush will remove the stones from your gallbladder, liver, and ducts, achieving an even greater and fuller systemic healing.  The two protocols work in concert.

I will continue next post by describing the flush and my GAPS Plus protocol.  After that, I will be giving away a copy of Andreas Moritz's guide, The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse.  In the meantime, I recommend that you read his book and become familiar with why you need to flush your liver and how to do it.  (Disclaimer:  I do not agree with Moritz's recommendation to vegetarianism/veganism.  It is not necessary to avoid gallstones, but a diet of nourishing Real Food is.  For the cleanse, however, it is important to avoid dairy and many heavy fats.  But more on that soon...)

For More Information

The Importance of Liver Flushing
Hulda Clark Information Center
Healing Your Gall Bladder

Radically Natural Remedies: Usnea Tincture

aka: How Hubby's Hunting Helps Healing
(A little alliteration to brighten your day.)

When your husband invests time, effort, money and resources into elk hunting, but comes home empty handed, it can be a discouraging endeavour.  But when he comes home with fistfuls of Usnea, the herbalist in you says, "Elk?  What elk?"

As fall comes to a close, I've gone on a bit of a binge.  The owner of the liquor store raises his eyebrows at the cases of brandy and vodka ("suuuurre...you're making MEDicine...riiighht..."), and the neighbors do a double take when they see the empty bottles standing next to the trash can.  But when it's tincture making time, the alcohol must flow!

I plan in the next weeks to write a series on botanical medicine making, discussing tinctures and oils, and recipes for natural body and home care.  I will share my cogitations about and personal preferences on choosing a menstrum (the liquid in which you steep the herbs for tincture making).

For now, I leave you with a simple recipe for making a potent broad spectrum antibiotic.  Also known as Old Man's Beard, Usnea (OOS-nay-ah or oos-NAY-ah) is a lichen with properties of both a fungus and an algae.  It is effective against gram positive bacterias, such as streps and staphs.

The medicinal constituents of Usnea are not easily extractable in water, so an alcohol tincture is the best preparation.  To make a tincture, fill a jar with the Usnea (fresh or dried...though "fresh" harvested Usnea is already pretty dry) and then pour a minimum of 80 proof alcohol to the top of the jar.  Don't stuff the Usnea into the jar, just pack loosely.  And leave a bit of head room at the top of the jar when filling with alcohol.  

If you don't have access to wildcrafted Usnea, order some from Mountain Rose Herbs.  (If you use the shopping links on my blog, I will earn a small commission...and I thank you!)  To learn more about Usnea, please check out my post about healing sore throats and coughs.  And look at the info on this powerhouse healer at Susun Weed's site, as well as the Eat the Weeds post regarding Usnea identification.

Radically Natural POV: Real Food Matters

[On the heels of attending the regional WAPF conference in Portland last month, I had every intention of summarizing my notes and writing about the highlights.  However, life got in the way, as usual.  So until I can concoct radically new material, I wanted to revitalize some older material, injecting my conference enthusiasm into the message.  This week I've been cogitating on how and why Real Food matters so much, for every aspect of our health...mental and physical.  I hope you consider how these truths can be practiced in your lives, or how you might share the gift of nourishing knowledge with others.]

You are what you eat. Trite? Perhaps. True? Absolutely!

What you put into your bodies determines whether you are well or ill. If you want to know why you and your children are sick, examine what you're ingesting (or breathing, or injecting). To build and preserve real health (and create healthy children), you must eat Real Food...pure, natural, unadulterated, honest-to-goodness FOOD.

What our industrialized food system has created is neither good, nor pure, nor even real food. Food cannot be industrially mass-produced without being corrupted. Modern farming practices, such as monoculture planting, hybridization, genetic engineering, animal concentration camps, unnatural animal dietary practices, synthetic fertilizers and chemical herbicides/fungicides/pesticides, etc. have raped the ground; depleted soil and plant nutrients; produced poison milk, eggs, and meat that cannot nourish; and severely damaged our food supply and our collective health.

Our grocery stores are ripe with industrially produced edible foodstuffs...frankenfoods and dead foods created by profitable and powerful corporations. Food comes out of mineral-rich, poison-free ground and the sea, not from a laboratory. Just because you can chew, swallow, and even enjoy a certain "food" item does not make that item Food. And it certainly does not make it rich with the nutrients your body desperately needs to create and maintain health. Fake foods cause malnutrition and chronic illness.

You must become an informed consumer. You must learn how to cook. Read labels and learn what they mean. Better yet, buy only real food ingredients and make your meals from scratch...like great-grandma did. Understand that Real Food costs real money...and it should. Government subsidies of non-nourishing industrial food has created a false expectation of cheap food and has robbed clean food farmers of fair wages.

Become a student of food politics. Learn why corn and soy are destructive to our land, water, and our health. Accept the horrifying truths about genetically modified foods and the agendas behind them, such as sterilizing corn. Understand why wheat and high gluten grains are not recognized by the body as food (hint: it's not because our bodies were designed wrongly, it's because the grains have been so manipulated that they are no longer digestible...they are certainly not the ancient grains humans were made to consume). Understand gut dysbiosis and how to overcome it, so you can partake of Real Food and be relieved of autoimmune disorders, brain chemistry disorders and chronic illness.

Awaken to the reality that we have been sold a "bill of goods" by the food and medical industries...that the lipid hypothesis is a debunked lie shackling millions of Americans to a low-fat, cholesterol-lowering drug lifestyle that is depriving their brains and hormones of essential nutrients and causing rampant autoimmune disorders. Cholesterol is absolutely essential to good health! Fat is your friend! Learn why a Real Food fertility diet is so essential to your future children's proper development and good health. Study the optimal nourishing diet for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and why mom's nutritional stores must be constantly supported...for her future health and that of future children. Understand the significance of "second child syndrome" and how to avoid it.  Investigate our rising infertility rates.

Study and understand the difference between truly organic Real Food and everything else (like the commercial sellout companies comprising Big Organics...when organic companies married themselves to the USDA, they began the downward slide of compromise). Eschew packaged and processed foods. Eat simply...fall in love with cooking...become familiar with traditional food preparation techniques that magnify nutrient density and improve digestibility. Embrace fat as the essential human nutrient. Buy properly cultivated fruits, vegetables, grains and animal products and learn how to prepare them for optimal nutrition and enjoyment. Eventually, you, too, as you peruse the store aisles, will routinely hear yourself saying, "That's not Real Food!" Hopefully you will learn to avoid those store aisles altogether.

In addition to providing life-giving and health-building nourishment, Real Food tastes so good! You may soon become a food snob of the highest order and be constantly gratified with the gourmet meals you can prepare and savor at home! You may become a connoisseur of ethnic foods and a student of flavor blending. Real Food is more than nourishing fuel...it is gustatory delight.

The Nourishing Traditions lifestyle is the diet we should adopt to be well, to thrive, to ensure proper physical development, and to reverse the malfunctions we suffer from eating the Standard American Diet. The best thing you can do today to begin reversing your health maladies and protecting your future health (and your children) is to never again consume fake fats (trans fats, vegetable oils), and to avoid soy (except for small amounts of traditionally fermented soy) and GMO corn (which is in almost everything if you eat processed foods).

Due in large part to the popularity of Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and numerous Real Food bloggers, many people are becoming familiar with the important work of Weston Price. His vastly enlightening tome, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, is a must-read for anyone desiring to understand why and how food creates and affects our health. The results of his research (compiled in the 1920s-1930s) are incredible! In a nutshell, Price travelled and studied native peoples’ diets worldwide. He compared their health, development and vitality on their traditional diets to that of their newly adopted “imported” diets (this was during the advent of U.S-produced processed/industrialized food).

Through years of interviews, research and examinations, Price discovered that when people consume industrialized, processed/refined foods, their health degenerates and their children’s physical development degrades. The generations reared on the traditional nourishing foods (including grass-fed animal meats and fats, including the offal, as well as whole seafoods for coastal peoples) possessed good bone structure, healthy teeth and vigorous immunity.  But the new generations being raised on imported processed foods had improperly developed facial bones, resulting in poor sinus and tooth palate development. The children had sinus malfunctions (stuffy nose syndrome, sinus infections, etc.) and their mouths couldn’t hold all their teeth, nor did the teeth develop properly. (Price was seeing the common modern dental problems we think are “normal” today). Also, the people on the “new” diet suffered from lowered immunity...another new development in their history. The children contracted illnesses they had never known before, such as tuberculosis. This is just the "tip" of the proverbial iceberg. Price's work is invaluable.

To learn more about the WAPF lifestyle, start with the following links:

A Message from Sally Fallon Morell
What's Wrong with Politically Correct Nutrition
Principles of Healthy Diets
Myths and Truths About Nutrition
Characteristics of Traditional Diets
The Weston Price Foundation Home Page

What we eat absolutely makes or breaks our health and our children’s proper development. And the quality of the plant foods, meat, eggs, and milk products that we consume is only as good as the diet given to the animal or the health of the ground. We can’t be properly nourished by animals who aren’t properly nourished or reared. Animals need to eat their natural diets and they need to live in natural environments. You won't get vitamin D from animal foods if the animals are confined inside all their lives. You won't get any vitamins or minerals or nutrients of significance if the animals don't consume them and the ground doesn't supply them. Dead soil and malnourished animals equals dead food. Supporting sustainable eco-agriculture and SOLE food (as much as possible) may seem like a tall order, but it is the only sane option in a world that offers synthetic "foods" that provide only malnourishment and disease.

To learn more about Real Food (what it is, why it is so essential, and how to prepare it), look at the reading recommendations on my Links and Library pages.  (This post is linked at Kelly's Real Food Wednesday carnival and FoodRenegade's Fight Back Friday.)

Radically Natural Remedies for Impetigo

Impetigo is a common contagious skin infection producing blisters usually on the face, neck, hands and groin area. These blisters often fill up with or ooze yellow fluid or pus, resulting in honey colored scabs. A bacterial infection, impetigo is caused either by Staphylococcus aureus (in which case, impetigo is also referred to as golden staph) or Streptococcus pyogenes.

In addition to antibacterial botanicals, coconut oil is an effective treatment for impetigo.  Coconut is naturally antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal.  Among natural healers, coconut oil is know as an effective remedy for yeast infections, and research shows that coconut oil could be an effective weapon against drug-resistant bacteria.  A published study in the medical journal Dermatitis revealed virgin coconut oil's effectiveness in combating Staph aureus.

Coconut oil's medium chain fatty acids have proven to be destructive to various viruses, bacteria and fungi.
"Laboratory tests have shown that the MCFAs found in coconut oil are effective in destroying viruses that cause influenza, measles, herpes, mononucleosis hepatitis C, and AIDS; bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers, throat infections, pneumonia, sinusitis, urinary tract infections, meningitis, gonorrhea, and toxic shock syndrome; fungi and yeast that lead to ringworm, candida, and thrush; and parasites that can cause intestinal infections such as giardiasis."  -- Bruce Fife, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle
Combining coconut oil with the antimicrobial essential oil Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) makes an even more effective impetigo treatment.  An ancient medicine extracted from the resin of the Olibanum tree, Frankincense oil has strong anti-infectious properties and numerous medicinal benefits.  Its regenerative properties are particularly useful for skin ailments.

Raw honey, particularly Manuka honey, is another antimicrobial medicine effective for healing and soothing skin infections, wounds and burns.  Researchers are discovering that Manuka honey kills Strep pyogenes  and even helps to prevent the bacteria from binding to wound tissue.  The product of nectar from the Manuka tree in Australia and New Zealand, Manuka honey's unique antibacterial properties are rated by producers using the UMF scale (Unique Manuka Factor)...the higher the rating, the stronger the antibacterial activity.

To treat impetigo and sooth blisters and scabs, just mix high quality organic cold pressed coconut oil (like Nutiva Organic or Tropical Traditions) with a therapeutic quality Frankincense EO and gently rub over affected areas.  Use as much as needed, starting with a ratio of 1 Tb. coconut oil to 5 drops Frankincense.  Go ahead and add some raw honey (Manuka if you can get it) for good measure.  Or alternate the coconut oil with honey.

Bathing the skin in raw apple cider vinegar (like Bragg's), another natural antibacterial and antiseptic, can help combat the infection and reduce inflammation and relieve itching.  Dilute one part ACV in three parts water and apply as a rinse to the affected skin, or dab on with a soaked cloth.  Follow the ACV rinse with the oil/honey treatments.

If swollen glands or other signs of systemic infection accompany the impetigo, speed healing with a lymphatic cleanse using mullein and lobelia tinctures.  Give 10 drops of each in a glass of water every three hours.  Also, support immunity and combat systemic infection with herbal medicine and nutrients, as outlined in my post on fighting infections.  Also look at my remedies for coughs and sore throats if either of these accompany the impetigo episode.

The following is a testimonial written by a friend of mine about their impetigo episode from last spring:

"Last evening we applied coconut oil for the last time on my son’s face for an impetigo infection that began more than three weeks ago, and I am reminded that healing time is directly relational to the extent of the wounding. I had never seen a skin infection like this in my life, although I had heard of impetigo and have vague memories of my sister having scabs in her ears that my mom called by that name. None of our children have ever had a skin infection before, and when our 12-year-old son woke up with a few tiny pimples around his mouth, my first thought was simply that he hadn’t washed his face well the night before after eating dinner. Three days later I was surprised that they were still there, and wondering if it was maybe hormonal changes causing them... 
Then the next morning he emerged looking so awful that I was not only seriously alarmed, but knew that something had to be done immediately about his condition! What was this thing? Not only were there golden, crusty scabs all around his mouth and nose and spreading up one side of his face, but the worst one on his cheek was like a large blister that had broken open and was sliding down his face. It was literally like his skin was coming apart at that location.
It is an awful feeling to not know what is happening or how to deal with it! (We are not medically minded, and going to the doctor was WAY down on the list for me. Like, not even on the list, unless my husband said that we had to.) But I knew even in my alarm that God knew exactly what was wrong with Benjamin, so before I did anything… I prayed. I asked Him to show me what it was, and to give me tools to deal with it. I didn’t have a ton of time to do research. The very first thing that turned up on the Internet was a picture of golden staph infection. None of the pictures was anything like as bad as Ben’s face, but it looked identical, and so my next search was for natural treatments for that condition. (I have since learned through more research that impetigo is caused by either a strep or a staph bacteria infecting the skin, and that the staph bacteria – also called bullous – produces a toxin that reduces cell-to-cell adhesion, causing separation between the top skin layer epidermis and the lower layer dermis).

The first natural cure that I found online was manuka honey, which I called Dr. Dad for right away. This wonder honey began healing the open wound on his cheek immediately, causing it to close and scab over in a nice, healthy looking type of scab. But it did not seem to be working as quickly on the areas that were still full of pus and infection. In addition, it didn’t seem to be able to keep it from wanting to spread, and little pimples were forming around the large areas of golden crust. The honey also proved to be difficult to work with in a practical manner, as I couldn’t keep his nose and mouth covered, and he had to sit still with a rag under his face to catch the warm, melting drips. I also began giving him a strong immune-system tincture by Wishgarden Herbs and olive leaf, which is reputed to kill staph bacteria. For his skin, I decided to add bentonite to draw the infection out. This did have a good effect, and I liked how the honey kept the bentonite semi-moist, but it was hard on his skin after several days of application, and it truly was not having the hoped for dramatic improvement effect.
After a week of effort, I began to resign myself to maybe going to the doctor. My good, sweet husband praised my efforts and said that he would take care of everything. Before he made the doctor’s appointment however, he decided to do his own Internet research! After about 3 minutes of being online, he called to me to wash and dry Ben’s face and to put coconut oil on it. The infection by this time was up both sides of his face, as well as spreading down his neck. It was a continuous mass of red, or blister, or golden crust. About 5 minutes after applying the coconut oil to his face, we could see white skin appearing between the red patches. It was like a miracle. I knew in my heart that this was going to take care of it! Because of the extent of the infection, it has taken two weeks of twice daily application, but it never again broke out anew or attempted to spread further, and has only continued to look better and better. His skin now is ever so slightly pinker in all of the areas that had the infection, but otherwise completely healthy. We will be continuing internal immune-system building herbs, and are so incredibly grateful for this coconut oil cure!"

For more Information

Radically Natural POV: The Cancer Culture

“Everyone should know that the ‘war on cancer’ is largely a fraud.‘ — Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling, biochemist and father of vitamin C therapy

In my experience, one of the most controversial and contentious health topics aside from vaccination is cancer treatment. A growing number of holistically minded doctors, as well as the public, are beginning to question the efficacy and scrupulousness of the cancer industry’s approach to this disease. The cancer industry has collected billions of dollars for decades, yet has offered no cure to cancer. A five year remission rate is not a cure. That’s the best assurance that the cancer industry offers. But it isn’t a cure.

There are doctors and healing practitioners curing cancer...as in eradicating it. They are not the norm and they largely are not practicing within “the system.” Because of medical politics and FDA witch hunt corruption, these practitioners are practicing largely outside the United States. And because of the grand racket that is the health insurance industry, your carrier doesn’t cover these doctors and their clinics or pay for the treatments that cure. The medical industry at large does not acknowledge or promote the truth that cancer can be cured, does not accept or encourage non-industry cures. Corrupt parties within the industry have worked tirelessly to suppress cures, even those offered by medical research scientists.

Courageous doctors, herbalists and natural healers have helped countless people to heal from cancer, without applying poison treatments that damage the body. One of the cancer industry’s most effective spins is its use of the phrase, “died of cancer.” In reality, many people die of chemo rather than cancer. The body expires because of organ failure due to the cancer treatment, not the actual presence of cancer. I have no doubt that conventional cancer treatments have helped some people. I know there are research scientists and caring doctors, honestly attempting to solve the cancer riddle, that have contributed to advances in care.  How frustrated they must be if shut down or hindered in their quests.  Yet despite the efforts of well-meaning doctors, the lead-footed, heavy-handed, profit-minded medical establishment and its cronies are not fostering an honest war on cancer.  Because cancer can be cured...it is being cured, and the cures often are shamefully simple.  Ergo, I share the view that the cancer industry kills more people than it genuinely cures. I also concur with the belief that cancer is a symptom of a far more insidious systemic malfunction. And successful healing requires more than attacking and controlling cancer cells. We all suffer cellular mutation, we are all exposed to environmental toxins. Why do some people develop cancer while others do not? Is this really a genetics game? Is there no link between lifestyle and cancer?  Why do some people have healthy, active antioncogenes, but other people suffer antioncogene mutation?

You must do your own research, be convicted of your own understanding of truth. But I’ll give you a hint. People aren’t a victim of their genetics as much as they are of what they choose to put into their bodies. And one can’t chug soda and chow industrial food without compunction, then turn to conventional doctors solely offering pharmaceutical treatments, and hope to beat this disease that they somehow arbitrarily fell victim to. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.) Truth can be stunningly unpopular, not to mention dangerous; of course, verity varies depending upon who is sharing and why. Understanding how we ended up here, a culture riddled with cancer, is key to unlocking the truth of cure.

The cancer industry operates a fear-based paradigm that results in a public willing to accept poisonous treatments that may only extend lifespan for a few years, during which time their bodies are ravaged with secondary illnesses and failures resulting from the treatment regimen. Is this option really better than discovering and pursuing alternatives? Legitimate healing treatment alternatives known to work, and to free even people diagnosed as terminal?  Why is it so terrible that the public be given the truth (with unimpeded research to back it up) that something as simple as vitamin C can ravage cancer cells?

A dear friend of ours found out a few years ago that he had prostate cancer. Rather than follow the lockstep of modern American oncology, he researched other options. He decided to pursue care at a cancer clinic outside the system (and thereby, as a result of FDA witch hunt practices, outside the United States). After his initial exams, the doctor told him (I’m paraphrasing): “It’s not the cancer I’m worried about, we can cure the cancer. It’s your liver I’m worried about.” The doctor told our friend a basic truth: People with healthy livers don’t get cancer.

[Our friend was cured by the treatments he received, which did not include chemo, radiation, or surgery.]

Somehow, despite living in the information age, our culture suffers massive misunderstandings regarding what is scientific, what is needful, what is appropriate, what is helpful. (Propaganda is a powerful tool.) We must redefine our vernacular. The public has fallen prey to a grave misconception that pharmaceutical medicine is “scientific” and everything else is wacko. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even truth-seeking, free-thinking MDs will tell you so. Our scientific vernacular needs to be reformed to comply with evidence-based veracity...science may have been hijacked by moneyed interests, but empirical science is owned by no corporation, nor government entity, and can be pursued independently and honestly by concerned people anywhere...wearing white coats or tie dyed skirts.

 Medical politics has resulted in suppression of cures, and oppression of scientists and healers working for genuine cure, wherever it is found.   The story of Stanislaw Burzynski is disturbing, to say the least.  The FDA has spent millions of dollars attempting to shut down the research and work of this pioneering doctor who is actually curing people.  But this is not the only tale of FDA corruption out of control.  The late Dr. Emanuel Revici, a dedicated and tireless doctor whose methods reversed cancer in numerous patients, a man considered a genius by his contemporaries (reportedly by even Albert Einstein), a scientist who published his finding in medical journals, was routinely ignored, harassed, reviled, smeared and sued by various arms of the cancer industry, including the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.  Let's not even get into Gerson and suppression of his cures and nontoxic, non-deadly approach to healing cancer.  The cancer industry routinely “discredits” cures known to work, perhaps because they are not profitable, perhaps because they threaten the status quo. But how many genuine cures does the industry offer? When the emperor has no clothes, yet keeps attacking so-called “errors” in other designs, perhaps the public should question the emperor.

The following is a transcript excerpt from a 1994 broadcast of the Laura Lee radio show in which she interviewed Ralph Moss, PhD, a leading voice exposing the dark side of the cancer industry, and a prolific author and consultant for integrative oncology. Moss evidenced cancer research corruption while working in the PR department of Sloane Kettering in the late 1970s. His attempt to expose the truth cost him his job.

“Twenty years ago I was hired at Memorial Sloane Kettering (MSK) cancer centre in New York as the science writer, later promoted to assistant director of public affairs. Shortly after I went to work there I went to visit an elderly Japanese scientist, Kanematsu Sugiura, who astonished me when he told me he was working on Laetrile (B17). At the time it was the most controversial thing in cancer...reputed to be a cure for cancer. We in public affairs were giving out statements that Laetrile was worthless, it was quackery, and people should not abandon proven therapies. I was astonished that our most distinguished scientist would be bothering with something like this, and I said why are you doing this if it does not work. He took down lab books and showed me that in fact Laetrile is dramatically effective in stopping the spread of cancer. The animals were genetically programmed to get breast cancer and about 80 - 90% of them normally get spread of the cancer from the breast to the lungs, which is a common route in humans, also for how people die of breast cancer, and instead when they gave the animals Laetrile by injection only 10-20% of them got lung metastases. And these facts were verified by many people, including the pathology department.

We were finding this and yet we in public affairs were told to issue statements to the exact opposite of what we were finding scientifically, and as the years went by I got more wrapped up in this thing and three years later I said all this in my own press conference, and was fired the next day, ‘for failing to carry out his most basic job responsibility:’ i.e. to lie to the public what goes on in cancer research.”

A scared public, not armed with well-rounded information and confidence in legitimate alternative treatments, is easily led by corrupt government agencies and medical industry parties more interested in profit than in cure. A common misconception, promoted by members within the cancer industry and its PR campaigns, is that natural/alternative treatments for cancer are dangerous and only for fools. Misinformation campaigns coming out of events like the self-mutilation of Angelina Jolie and the death of Steve Jobs help to perpetuate such myths. The Jobs story in particular has received much attention and suffered speculation and spin.

I don’t know exactly why Steve Jobs died. I don’t know what treatment regimens he underwent in his pursuit to achieve health. In light of how private the man was, none of us is likely to know the entirety of his actions and his motivations. But considering the pieces of the puzzle that we do have, it is inaccurate to blame his death on the pursuit of “natural” cancer treatments. In fact, Jobs underwent typical cure regimens: surgery and radiation. His treatments may have been “unorthodox” in that they took him outside the conventional American medical system, but they were not unorthodox in the sense of conventional cancer treatment offerings...they still included surgery and radiation (and reportedly chemo).

Notoriously private about his health and his life, Jobs admitted to a 2004 surgery during a commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. In 2009, Jobs reportedly had a liver transplant. While Jobs did not speak publicly about receiving chemo, he was seen at the Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, which may indicate he was receiving treatment there. Jerry York, a reporter for Fortune magazine, revealed after Jobs’ death that Jobs received radiation treatments in Switzerland. (See CNN articles referenced below for more information.) Surgeries, chemo, radiation and organ transplants are certainly not “natural” cancer treatments; blaming unconventional cancer treatments for Jobs’ death is simply unfounded and irresponsible.

For individuals willing to step “outside the box;” willing to research unconventional options; willing to use practitioners, treatments and clinics not dubbed acceptable by the establishment, answers abound. Those cures (like laetrile, which can stop cancer’s spread) that the establishment claims are rubbish are actually helping to heal people of cancer. Well-meaning doctors and researchers are working within the industry, but change is outrageously slow in coming. Overturning corruption and profit- and control-based stinking thinking could take decades. We must demand change by questioning and pursuing options not offered by the system. We must be the change we desire.

I am troubled when people make health care decisions based solely upon financial reasons. If their health insurance carrier won’t pay for a particular practitioner or treatment, they don’t pursue it. They stay within the system, and many times they suffer for it. How much is your health worth? Perhaps it would behoove us to drop insurance altogether rather than be victimized by its limited (by design) choices. Sadly, this is a perfect example of “you get what you pay for.” The best care is usually not the commonly provided conventional care.

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion and has the right to make his own decisions. You must be comfortable with your health practices and pursuits. You deserve genuine care, not false offers of limited healing. Please, before you jump on the bandwagon driven by the cancer industry and criticize practices not endorsed by the powers that be, research the alternatives. At the very least, read Ralph Moss's The Cancer Industry before making any decisions. Read the accounts revealing the underbelly of this powerful, profitable industry, and look honestly at the other options and research available within and without the conventional medical realm. I truly hope you don’t personally need this information, but it could save your life or the life of someone you love.

Check back soon for a related book giveaway!

For More Information

The Politics of Cancer by Samuel Epstein

A Holistic Approach to Cancer  Dr. Tom Cowan

The Gerson Institute

Radically Natural Remedies: Top Ten Essential Oils

I love to recommend therapeutic grade essential oils (EOs), as they are potent botanical medicines.  EOs and herbal preparations work wonderfully together, and I classify EOs as herbal (or plant) medicine.  I think of EOs as the "blood" of the plant, and the whole herb matter as its "flesh."  EOs are concentrated sources of plant medicines, and a little bit often goes a long way.  The healing actions of an EO are the same as its herbal counterpart, but produce effects more quickly and powerfully.  EOs (as well as herbs) have been used as medicine in Europe and Asia for centuries.  The French are often credited for pioneering the modern use of medicinal EOs and paved the way for scientific validation of these beneficial and efficacious plant medicines.

I often receive queries about what oils to use and how to use them.  I struggle to provide a short list of necessary EOs, as the EO repertoire is abundant, with expansive healing constituents.  But for the sake of simplicity, especially during travels, and the sake of financial expediency, I have attempted to compile a list of the ten oils I cannot live without.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but covers most ailments people encounter.  The world of essential oils and the art of aromatherapy is vast, and worth study.  [I find the term aromatherapy to be misleading for people, as the medicinal power of essential oils is imparted through topical use, ingestion, as well as inhalation.]  Single oils are powerful healing agents; EO blends create synergistic effects that enhance each oil's capability. Blending is both an art and science, and beyond the scope of this list.  See the books in resources below for more information.

I must emphasize that not all EOs are created equally; for medicinal purposes, only high quality, pure grade EOs should be used.  I am by no means an expert on companies...I personally use and recommend various EO companies.  It is very important that your EOs are pure enough for ingestion, which allows you to dose an ill body with strong medicine.    Certain popular health food store brands are not potent enough to be considered medicinal grade, nor can I feel assured that they are pure.

In the list following, I will name each plant, its medicinal properties and uses, and share how I use it most often (a quick overview and generalization...the EOs are multifunctional and broad spectrum healing agents).  I will include resources and links below.  (This post is linked at Real Food Forager's Fat Tuesday.)

Herbalistmama's Top Ten Essential Oils


Lavendula officinalisMedicinal properties: analgesic, anticoagulant, anticonvulsive, antidepressant, antifungal, antihistamine, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, nervine, regenerative, sedative.
French medicinal uses: acne, allergies, burns, cramps, dandruff, diaper rash, flatulence, hair loss, herpes, indigestion, insomnia, blood pressure, lymphatic drainage, menopausal conditions, mouth abscess, nausea, phlebitis, PMS, scarring, stretch marks, tachycardia, thrush, water retention.
Additional benefits: all skin inflammations and wounds, palpitations, hypertension, convulsions, muscle spasms, pain syndromes, arthritis, headache, eczema, nervous tension, irritability, insomnia, stress, labor.

When I reach for it: skin health, burns, itchiness, frazzled nerves, insomnia, tension, cramping


Origanum Compactum
Medicinal properties: antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, immune-stimulant, anti-inflammatory.
French medicinal uses: asthma, bronchitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatism, whopping cough.
Additional benefits: Colds/flus, fungal overgrowth, parasites, respiratory system ailments, indigestion, gum infections, inflammation/pain.

When I reach for it: viral/bacterial infections (first sign of cold/flu)


Mentha PiperitaMedicinal properties: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, antispasmodic, astringent, decongestant, expectorant, febrifuge, hepatic, nervine, invigorating, digestive, vasoconstrictor.
French medicinal Uses: asthma, bronchitis, candida, diarrhea, indigestion, fever, flu, halitosis, heartburn, hemorrhoids, migraine, motion sickness, nausea, respiratory function, itchy skin, throat infection, varicose veins.
Additional benefits: arthritis, colic, depression, fatigue, hives, morning sickness, nerve regeneration, toothaches, muscle spasms, aches, neuralgia, ringworm, shock, mental fatigue.

When I reach for it: sore throat, stomach upset, headache


Citrus LemonMedicinal Properties: antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, diaphoretic, invigorating, tonic.
French medicinal uses: air disinfectant, anemia, asthma, cold, fever, germicide, gout, heartburn, intestinal parasites, throat infection, varicose veins, water purification, blood cell formation.
Additional benefits: acne, oily skin, warts, inflamed joints, arthritis, hypertension, mouth ulcers, poor circulation, detoxification, lethargy, aids concentration, brain stimulant.

When I reach for it: air purification, water purification, cleaning

Tea Tree

Melaleuca Alternifolia
Medicinal Properties: analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant, digestive, expectorant, immune-stimulant, insecticidal, stimulant, regenerative.
French medicinal uses: athlete's foot, bronchitis, colds, coughs, diarrhea, flu, gum disease, rash, skin ailments, sore throat, sunburn, tonsillitis, vaginitis.
Additional benefits: cuts, abrasions, insect bites, wounds, all fungal infections, burns, cold sores, air purifier, chicken pox, warts, asthma, acne, sinusitis, ringworm, dandruff, upper respiratory infections, varicosities, parasites.
When I reach for it: general first aid, antiseptic, infection, cleaning, fungal infection


Betula Alleghaniensis
Medicinal Properties: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, disinfectant, stimulant.
French medicinal uses: rheumatism, muscular pain, cramps, arthritis, tendonitis, inflammation, hypertension.
Additional benefits: broken bones, joint pain, bone pain, fever, eczema, edema, UTIs.
When I reach for it: bone/muscle pain


Eugenia Caryophyllus
Medicinal properties: analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiparastic, antiseptic, antitumoral, antiviral, disinfectant, immune-stimulant. 
French medicinal uses: toothache, intestinal parasites, pain, plagues, wounds.
Additional benefits: arthritis, bronchitis, cystitis, dental infection, diarrhea, acne, fatigue, flatulence, flu, halitosis, headaches, hypertension, infections, bites/stings, nausea, sinusitis, skin ailments, mouth sores, thyroid dysfunction, ulcers, warts.
When I reach for it: mouth/tooth pain, parasitic infection


Boswellia carteri
Medicinal properties: antiseptic, astringent, anti-infectious, diuretic, expectorant, sedative, uterine tonic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, immune stimulant.
French medicinal uses: asthma, depression, ulcers.
Additional benefits: dermatitis, wrinkles, wounds, ulcers, sinus congestion, bronchitis, laryngitis, cystitis, acne, scars, diarrhea, viral infections, sciatica, increases leukocyte activity (strengthening immunity).
When I reach for it: skin infections, facial treatments


Eucalyptus globulus, radiata, smithii
Medicinal properties: analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anticatarrhal, decongestant, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, stimulant, antiviral, antifungal, antibacerial, anti-infectious, increases circulation.
French medicinal uses: asthma, candida, coughs, diabetes, fever, hypoglycemia, lungs, measles, migraines, respiratory stimulant, sinusitis, tuberculosis, urinary stimulant.
Additional benefits: chest/throat infections, cold/flu, viral infections (herpes), cystitis, arthritis, abscesses, wounds/cuts/burns/blisters, muscle stiffness/sprains, insect repellent, air purifier, swollen glands, immune stimulant.
When I reach for it: sinus troubles, headache


Rosemarinus Officinalis
Medicinal Properties: analgesic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, decongestant, diuretic, emmenagogue, endocrine tonic, expectorant, hypertensive, nervine, parasitic, restorative, stimulant.
French medicinal uses: arthritis, low blood pressure, bronchitis, cholera, colds, dandruff, depression, diabetes, mental fatigue, flu, fluid retention, hair loss, headache, viral hepatitis, irregular menstruation, sinusitis, tachycardia, vaginitis.
Additional benefits: circulation, support immune function, muscle aches, acne, respiratory distress, asthma, bronchitis, ovarian/testicular function, varicosities, tonsillitis, sinusitis, swellings, skin toner, nervous tension, PMS, lethargy.
When I reach for it: chest congestion/coughing, hair tonic, cramping

EO Applications/Uses

Topical = rub on skin anywhere as needed, use soles of feet for systemic applications (large pores speed absorption into blood stream).  Apply directly to problem areas.  For topical application, most EOs should be diluted: 5 to 10 drops of EO to 1 Tb. carrier oil (jojoba, olive, coconut, etc).  Dilute more for babies and children, as their skin is more sensitive.  [Lavender is gentle enough to use without dilution, as is Tea Tree for most people.  Once you become accustomed to regular use of EOs, you may find you need to dilute fewer of them.]
Inhalant = use EO diffuser or nebulizer, place in gently simmering water, put on tissue and inhale.
Ingestion = only with pure, therapeutic grade EOs (know your oils).  Place one to a few drops in water and drink.  This is particularly helpful for sore throats, colds, and digestive upsets.
Soaks = place a few drops of EO into a warm bath.  Be cautious with EOs known to burn, such as strong citrus oils or mints.


(I'll list those lesser known)

analgesic = pain reducer
anticatarrhal = helps remove mucus from body, soothes mucus membranes
antiseptic = prevent infection, inhibit growth of microbes
astringent = constrict tissues 
carminative = prevents formation of gas 
diaphoretic = promotes sweating
diuretic = promotes urination
emmenagogue = stimulates blood flow in pelvic region/uterus
expectorant = promotes expulsion of mucus/phlegm from respiratory tract
febrifuge = regulates fever
nervine = benefits nervous system

Helpful Resources

Herbs2000 EO Database
Mountain Rose Herbs (If you purchase through this link, I will earn a commission)

Savoring Life's Happy Accidents

I reflect occasionally on the happy accidents in life ... the serendipitous moments that shape significant creations or beget precious memories.

I'm sure fellow photographers can relate to this concept.  You can work for hours to design the ultimate shot.  It could be flawlessly framed, given absolute attention to detail in aperture, shutter, lighting...yet 50 shots may result in only one good picture.  Such is the nature of the work.  And after driving away from the scenic destination where you painstakingly plotted a tripod-enabled photography session, you glimpse light cascading through mist-covered trees at a bend in the road.  Suddenly, you stop your car to quickly capture the moment, and the shot becomes your favorite of the day.

Or perhaps one day you are chasing your children, or a butterfly, or a sunbeam, camera carelessly in hand.  And while snapping happily with no thought to composition, you achieve art.  Beauty.  Unplanned perfection.  Better yet, your hour-long meticulous efforts to create a prize-worthy portrait were rewarded unexpectedly when someone disturbed the scene.  What was intended to be a portrait became art when a child abruptly ran through the frame. 

In these moments, we realize that beauty erupts with no thought, no intention...just reaction or momentum.

Relationships are sometimes birthed from accidental happenstance; I imagine more often than not, we find ourselves enveloped in a remarkable relationship not of our making, nor planning.  From the machinations of life, sometimes obtuse or even irritating, emerge meaningful exchanges that blossom into beloved friendships.  I can thank happy accidents for more than one esteemed friend.  Years ago, I was introduced to my best friend through more than one haphazard meeting, including an Azure food co-op drop that technically didn't exist, and a run-in at the office of a holistically minded "natural family" friendly pediatrician that I visited only once (for an appointment that I made with hesitancy and nearly canceled).

Another dear friendship came to me through a box of books, purchased in an online homeschool classified ads site, the first one I came upon through my Google search.  And I can recall how a PayPal glitch in my online salve shop led to a potential customer email that later developed into a valuable friendship.  Ironically, I had been reviling the efforts I had expended and confusion I had suffered in attempting to set up said shop.  In the end, business hasn't been great, LOL, but the friendship has been wonderful.

Some of my favorite happy accidents happen in the kitchen.  One hectic day, while making a batch of Cacao Bites, I neglected some butter and honey left to "slowly and gently" melt on the stove.  The resultant browned butter and thickly caramelized honey made the most delightful Cacao (Caramel) Nibbles we've yet enjoyed.  I'd love to be able to credit Divine inspiration, but I must admit it was rather a case of Divine intervention; the butter and honey were discovered before irredeemable damage had been done.

Delicious meals have materialized out of an explosion of creative energy, or simply from one too many dashes of a misread, misplaced spice.  And a batch of undercooked cacao cupcakes became a moist, chewy, coveted family favorite, made all the more appealing by a child vigorously dosing the mixing bowl with cinnamon and ginger behind mama's back.
One of my favorite happy accidents, spotting a "Store Closing" sign at an immense used book store (ah, the happiest of places), resulted in the addition of several longed for, and now well-loved and well-used, additions to our family library.

While I do not classify children as accidents, even when our womb is blessed unexpectedly, I want to close these cogitations by expressing my gratitude and joy for my "unexpected" (in timing) but dearly desired children.  They are gifts, they are challenges, they are works of art...they enrich my life beyond measure.  And the day I met their father, while I did not know it at the time, was the happiest "accident" of my life.

Radically Natural Remedies for Winter Ick

This winter seemed to be a particularly long illness season.  Since these bugs like to hang around into spring, I thought it wasn't too late to share some remedies.

In December, I posted a long list of remedies for sore throats and coughs.  I wanted to follow up with a couple of my favorite tips for ear infections and general remedies for colds and congestion.  I'm thankful that my family did not suffer bounceback infections this winter.  I think we got one mild upper respiratory bug that lasted a few days.  Aside from a nourishing Real Foods diet with regular consumption of homemade gelatinous broths, a basic remedy repertoire can improve or ensure wellness.

When we enter cold/flu season, I begin pulling out certain herbs and nutritional supplements to give to my family prophylactically.  When we are exposed to friends who are sick, or when we feel we might be coming down with something, I increase dosage and add a few essentials to the mix.

My first secret to wellness?  We swab our ears daily with 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide.  We also use it as a gargle if we feel the slightest scratchiness in our throats.  If we know we've been exposed to a bug, we do our ears and our noses and throats.  My husband travels frequently (by air) for business, and he takes H2O2 with him to use prophylactically and he always doses when he gets home.  

Colloidal silver is another natural medicine I constantly stock and use frequently during illness season.  For general illness, we drink a teaspoon three to five times daily in water.

For immune boosting and infection fighting, I dose the family daily with:

  • Elder berry elixir (three tsp. daily; I make my own, but you can buy Sambucol)

My "winter ick" botanical necessities include:

  • Garlic (broad spectrum antibiotic)
  • Usnea (more potent broad spectrum antibiotic, particularly effective against strep)
  • Red clover (blood purifier)
  • Pure, therapeutic grade essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, lemon (good EO info can be found at Heritage Essential Oils)...taken internally; diluted and applied externally to bottom of feet, palms of hands, on throat, chest, back; inhaled through diffusion
  • "Thieves" type essential oils blends

General advice for dealing with cold/flus/infections:

  • Homeopathics for respiratory infections include Boiron Coldcalm, Boiron Oscillococcinum (take at first sign of flu), Dulcamara, Aconite.
  • For sinus and/or chest congestion, do an essential oil steam with eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint.  Boil water and pour it into a large bowl.  Add one to two drops of each oil to the steaming water, lean over the bowl, tent a bath towel over your head, and breathe slowly (through mouth or nose depending upon condition) for a few minutes.  Keep your eyes closed, as the EOs can sting.
  • Do not fear fevers.  The body utilizes heat to destroy invaders; to allow your body's defenses to work, fevers should be left alone.  If you want to help a fever to burn more efficiently, use a combination of yarrow, elder and peppermint.  (Tincture dose is 30 drops every hour for high fevers.) This can bring comfort and regulate fever without eliminating the fever.  Do not be concerned with any fever under 104º unless it is a very little baby.  Temperature readings vary depending upon method used (oral, axillary, tympanic).

My favorite tips for ear infections:

  • First, get an otoscope and learn how to examine your child's ears.  Learn what a healthy inner ear looks like and what an inflamed ear drum looks like.  This will save you trips to a doctor.
  • Gauge the severity of the ear infection by monitoring your child's temperature and discomfort.  If the child is screaming in pain, has a high fever, and liquid draining from the ear, you may have a perforated ear drum.  In my opinion, this does not necessarily require medical intervention, as it can resolve naturally, but you need to be the judge of what you believe is best for your child.
  • It is helpful to treat both ears, even if only one is affected, as the canals are connected.
  • If the eardrum is not perforated, use garlic/mullein ear drops, an antibiotic treatment that relieves pain and inflammation.  (Make your own (see below) or purchase Herb Pharm drops.)  You can also use colloidal silver as drops or swab canal.
  • To relieve pain and help heal the infection, heat half an onion and secure it over the ear.  Make sure it is warm, not hot enough to burn the ear.  Cut an onion in half and peel, then gently heat in a small covered sauce pan with a bit of water, just until quite warm.  (Don't use the microwave...for anything...ever.  Please.)  It is helpful to secure the onion over the ear with an ace bandage or by tying a large thin tea towel around the head (like a flour sack towel), or an old t-shirt cut into a large strip.  [I have personally used this method and it works well to bring relief!]
  • Clogged sinuses can lead to clogged ears...remember, the tunnels are all connected.  :)  To relieve earache pain and ear congestion, do a massage with lavender EO, rosemary EO, eucalyptus EO combined with mullein oil (or coconut or olive if you don't have any mullein).  Massage around the front of the ear, up over the ear, behind the ear, down along the jaw and down the throat.  Use firm (but not agonizing) pressure, go slowly, use little circular motions with your finger pads as you follow the path:  up, around, down.  Do this five times a session, throughout the day.

Garlic/onion honey syrup recipe

Chop half an onion and a head of garlic.  In a saucepan, just cover onion and garlic with raw honey.  Gently simmer (don't boil, keep the heat quite low) for at least 30 minutes, an hour is better.  Bottle and keep in the refrigerator.  Serve by the spoonful throughout the day.  You can strain the honey or just serve whole.

Garlic/mullein ear drop recipe

In a small saucepan, gently simmer a chopped head of garlic and a handful of crushed mullein leaves/flowers in enough olive oil to cover the herb matter.  Keep the heat low and simmer for 20-30 minutes and allow the herb matter to steep in the oil until it comes to room temperature, or allow it to steep overnight.  Strain the oil and bottle, refrigerate when not using for long periods of time, but warm to apply.  Administer a few drops into each ear as often as needed, at least every 30 minutes.

You can buy mullein and other high quality bulk herbs from

Mountain Rose Herbs

For more information:

My writeup on 

Treating Pink eye

My writeup on 

Treating Croup

Relieve Earache with Natural Medicine

Skipping Intro Will Hamper Your Success with GAPS

If you don't do GAPS Intro, you aren't really doing GAPS...you're basically just eating paleo.  Believe me, I know Intro is a challenge.  But if you skip the "I eat, sleep, breathe, dream homemade soup from meat stock and bone broth" part of GAPS, you won't experience the complete healing that you seek.  The Intro portion of the GAPS protocol is where the lion's share of the gut healing work takes place.  The goal of the GAPS program is to heal the gut lining, destroy the malevolent pathogens living in your body, repopulate your beneficial flora, and detoxify your entire system.

GAPS Intro was designed to not only jump start the gut healing process and pinpoint food sensitivities, but to achieve particular healing actions that cannot be successfully accomplished otherwise.  McBride recommends that all GAPS participants complete Intro before moving to the "Full" portion of the protocol, but you can move through the stages of Intro at the pace you determine depending on your body's needs.  Full GAPS alone does not offer the intense detoxifying, healing processes of Intro.  

One of the cornerstones of the GAPS program is the diet of highly and easily digestible foods that will not further irritate an already compromised gut (the best of these is the mineral and collagen rich homemade stocks/broths).  Some foods allowed on the Full GAPS portion of the program are not highly digestible, such as greens, fried meats, coconut flour, dairy (even fermented), and are only appropriate for the person who has attained a good level of healing through the program.  Fibrous foods must be avoided during the initial healing stages.  Another extremely important component of GAPS Intro is the elimination of sugars (in the first few stages of Intro).  This aspect of the protocol allows your body to suffer (sorry, but anything worth doing is hard) the withdrawal necessary to begin massive pathogen die off (you're starving the nasty things) and to cleanse your body of sugar cravings/addictions.  The amazing part is how aware you will become of just how addicted to sugars you were.  

To begin the program of gut healing, we eat only the most digestible foods, which is why the Intro portion is composed of quickly and highly digestible, gentle healing foods.  Intro is an excellent elimination diet, which is essential to healing food allergies.  Intro also works to reseal the injured gut lining, repairing the leaky gut dilemma contributing to food allergies.  Intro is a highly detoxifying diet, allowing your body to shed toxins in stored fat and the liver and colon, etc., and flush them from your system.  To understand more about GAPS Intro, why you need it and what to expect, please read the summary I wrote on the topic.

Intro is incredibly healing, so much so that it is an effective treatment for cold and flu.  We've all heard by now that homemade broth and soup is potent natural medicine.  [Anytime a GAPS participant (or anyone, for that matter) suffers a physiological trauma or a nasty viral bug, etc, a return to Intro for a week will strengthen the body, bringing about systemic healing and homeostasis, returning one to wellness.]

The Intro portion of GAPS does work that cannot be achieved by simply following the Full GAPS diet or by eating paleo or "no carb."  The methodical steps of the Intro stages help your compromised body to shed toxins, to experience a great deal of pathogen die off, to begin the gut sealing process, to identify food allergens...it is an excellent colon cleanse.  Without the step-by-step process involved, your healing journey will take much longer and may not be concluded successfully.  Intro is necessary for maximum and complete healing.

As you move from Intro into Full GAPS, your body has already begun a significant amount of healing and you are avoiding the foods that you have identified to be problematic.  You have learned to be keenly body aware.  If you remain dedicated to the program as it is designed, you will continue to experience healing day by day.  Foods you may not be able to consume in the beginning of your GAPS journey should become available to you as you continue the work.  During your time in Full GAPS, you will likely still have some die off as you correctly balance your flora, and you will continue to seal your gut lining, allowing you to heal from food sensitivities.  This only happens, though, if you continue with the homemade stocks/broths/soups full of healing gelatin and minerals, and if you eat homemade fermented foods (like sauerkraut).  The soup is the lifeblood of the GAPS program, and the genuine fermented foods are crucial to re-establishing flora balance.

I know many bloggers have been talking about GAPS, explaining it, sharing experiences with the program.  I think that's wonderful; the more people sharing, the better.  But if you want to successfully heal through the GAPS program, you really should read McBride's book for yourself, and The GAPS Guide (I believe there is an updated version available on her blog).  Even on Full GAPS, you are supposed to be eating homemade soup and homemade fermented foods daily.  Otherwise, you're not doing GAPS.  

Healing sensitivities and allergies...sealing and healing the gut, obliterating malevolent pathogens, is an important process.  Healing neurological maladies caused by toxic overload and gut pathogens is an important process.  Resolving toxicity and achieving lifelong wellness is an important process.  We need to be sure we are performing the process correctly so we don't continue to drag out our healing journey or continue to suffer needlessly.  Believe me, I empathize completely with how difficult the process can be.  But the end results are so worthwhile!

To learn more:
Natasha McBride's site
GAPS Guide site
GAPS Diet site
Simple GAPS Intro Summary
GAPS Protocol Summary

When to Be Thankful for Medical Intervention

[The following will be the most personal and emotional post I have ever shared, and may contain some cathartic rambling. I need to work things out in my head and it helps me to write...in a sense, this is my personal “de-briefing” brain dump. I apologize in advance for its length, scope and potential circumlocutions. Thank you for being my “sounding board.”]

It is no secret that I am concerned about the broken modern medical system that can create problems rather than heal disorders/malfunctions/ailments and promote lifelong wellness. Yes, there are doctors who break out of the mold of their conventional training; they question the establishment’s paradigm and pursue holistic education, learn Real Medicine, and adopt skills and a knowledge base that can be of genuine value to ailing people.

But these practitioners seem to be the exception, not the rule. The medical industry is dominated by drug companies and “little gods in white coats.” Corruption, ego, profit-seeking, as well as protocols and treatments driven by limited paradigms and legal pressures conspire to create a bloated system that is impotent to effectively treat ailing health, systemic malfunctions, chronic illness, autoimmune disorders, and more. Truly, the system needs more groundbreaking doctors like the late Dr. Mendelsohn, a self-confessed medical heretic who upheld holistic principles of wellness and healing, and who encouraged parents to eject from the system, taking direct control of their children’s health.

[Here is the cliff notes version of a planned post that will likely not see the light of day: In my opinion, well child checks are a waste of your time and money. You can and should learn to be your child’s own pediatrician, you just need some study and basic tools (books, otoscope, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, basic herbal and homeopathic kits, etc). Maternal instincts are divine...hone them, trust them. Save yourself the headaches of fighting the fear-based, drug-driven system and protect your child from unnecessary treatments and vaccines. Learn to follow your gut; should you feel you need to do so, seek help for your child if he is seriously ill/suffering beyond what you can diagnose and remedy at home. This line will vary for people depending on knowledge base, acquired skills and confidence. But keep learning and practicing and you’ll feel the need to seek help less and less.]

I have long vocalized my vexation with the modern medical system’s limited paradigm of the human body’s functions, responses and healing powers; its approach to wellness and illness; its eagerness to categorize as “idiopathic” whatever malfunctions do not fit into its paradigm or cannot be solved by its limited tools (“WE don’t know what causes X, ergo there IS no cause…”). I am concerned with harms caused by an overblown, malpractice-driven, sometimes fraudulent system. Some elements of the system are downright dishonorable, others simply misguided. There exists a tendency to apply extreme unnecessary interventions or “one-size-fits-all” protocols to every situation. The error of the allopathic technocratic approach is to apply toxic bandaids of drugs and surgeries rather than to achieve healing through effective cures, such as botanical and homeopathic medicines, nutritional healing, and noninvasive physical therapy modalities (acupuncture, reflexology, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, craniosacral and massage, etc.). For as much as the “system” thinks it corners the market on medical knowledge, there are vast mysteries still to be uncovered. The more we know about the workings of the human body, the more we realize we have so much more to learn.

Rather than taking personal responsibility for wellness, people rush to obtain treatments and procedures they don’t really need that won’t truly help. This is not healing, it is not establishing wellness. Unfortunately, such behavior contributes to the perpetuation of a faulty system. People should eject from the regular use of the medical establishment and should studiously take their health into their own hands, establishing and maintaining wellness through a non-toxic lifestyle, genuine nutrition, and botanical medicine.

But within the afflicted conventional medical system exists caring individuals, well-meaning practitioners, and certain emergency procedures and technologies for which we can be thankful. It has always been my opinion that emergency medicine is a necessary and legitimate arm of the modern medical system. While I don’t agree with all its practices and treatments, I find lifesaving medical technologies overall to occupy worthwhile space on the spectrum of healing arts.

The specialized skills and modern technology involved in lifesaving procedures and trauma treatment are often quite advantageous. They can mean the difference between life and premature death. It would be wonderful to see our system enlightened to incorporating nontoxic, natural medicine and modalities into its emergency care system. A multitude of potent, fast-acting herbal and homeopathic medicines exist. Herbal antibiotics can be just as effective, and are certainly safer, than their synthetic pharmaceutical counterparts (which contribute to toxic load and flora disruption); bugs don't easily develop antibiotic resistance to botanical medicines as they do to drugs. But conventionally trained doctors don’t know how to use these herbal medicines. And as long as the medical industry is deeply profit driven (i.e: pharmaceutical companies), these beneficial botanical medicines will not be employed as they should be.

Not all traumas require conventional medical care. Herbal first aid is incredibly potent. When you become intimate with botanical medicine, build a knowledge base of anatomy and physiology, and become confident with healing and triage skills, you can treat most accidents and illnesses at home without suffering the negative side effects of conventional medical treatments. We can often successfully remedy minor breaks and dislocations, wounds and poisonings, infections, even cardiovascular and respiratory malfunctions and much more.

But sometimes the nature of accidents and ailments require emergency medical treatment, the legitimate protocols and technologies of the modern medical system. This is when modern medicine can serve a valuable purpose. I have long said that if my husband were to cut off his arm in a chainsaw accident, I would take him to the ER and pray for a competent surgeon. But I would perform post-op wound and infection care at home (you would be astounded to see the power of certain plants, like plantain, comfrey, shepherd’s purse, cayenne, garlic and usnea).

A particular pet peeve of mine is the fear-based birth industry, whose standard protocols...driven both by a flawed technocratic paradigm and inflated legal concerns...suppress and subvert the normal physiological processes of labor and birth. The perpetual medicalization and technological intervention of normal birth violates women and babies. The system treats all births as potential traumas and subjects laboring mothers to practices and interventions that hinder the natural physiological process of birth, which can lead to negative birth outcomes. But within this system are valuable skills and technologies that are appropriate for the minority (approx. 5%) of at-risk women and unforeseen pregnancy and birth complications.

The current system is backwards and needs an overhaul so that our medical culture expects, upholds and encourages the power and beauty of normal birth. As in some European models, our birth system should be one where midwives are the primary caregivers and women are expected to birth normally and naturally, supported by midwife (“with woman”) attendants. But OBs, as complication, trauma and surgical specialists, play an important role in serious emergent conditions of both pregnancy and birth. The OB would be an assisting member of the midwife-led team, prepared to attend to the minority of women who require more invasive medical care. This would be a valuable system that provides appropriate care for all unique women; when the rare occurs, and what is ordinarily a natural, risk-free physiological event becomes a life-threatening trauma, a solution exists.

Professional midwives are pregnancy and “birth as a natural physiological process” experts. While we embrace a holistic paradigm of natural physiological birth that requires little interference and often only support and assistance, well-educated and well-trained midwives can competently manage and treat many difficulties that arise during pregnancy and birth, even traumas to mother or baby (such as hemorrhage or neonatal resuscitation). Typically a holistic midwife sees herself as an assistant to the birthing mother, an emotional encourager and physical attendant responding to the mother’s needs, and as a lifeguard sitting by and carefully observing. But a well-trained midwife has tremendous technical abilities and instincts, with her hands, her observational skills, and her intimate knowledge of her client serving as her most important tools.

Rather than relying on sometimes unreliable and potentially harmful diagnostic devices, a midwife uses her hands to assess a woman’s pelvic capacity to birth, the size and position of baby during the stages of pregnancy, and more. A homebirth midwife can manually perform procedures for birth complications that in a hospital setting would often result in a surgical delivery, such as assisting a woman to birth her breech baby, or resolving a shoulder dystocia during birth. Midwives have the skills to assist prolonged and difficult labors, helping to shift malpositioned babies and encouraging the laboring woman to choose a position that facilitates the birth process and preserves the perineum (hint: the typical hospital position for pushing, semi-reclined with knees drawn to chest, feet to buttocks, is detrimental to the perineum and can slow baby’s birth progress). As opposed to the industrial protocol episiotomy, a violation of a woman’s body and natural birth processes, the midwife performs perineal support when needed to allow those resilient tissues to stretch and accommodate baby’s descent. And when a perineal/vaginal tissue tear occurs (which is far less common with proper birth position and perineal support), the midwife has the tools and skills to repair it. If faced with a difficult birth, a skilled and knowledgable midwife can stop hemorrhages, perform bimanual uterine compressions if necessary, treat shock, and even resuscitate a nonresponsive newborn. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. If unanticipated complications occur, the midwife is prepared. And this preparation includes the wisdom to know when to seek outside assistance.

For a healthy woman assisted by a skilled midwife who has provided intimate, continuous, hands-on prenatal care, the home is the optimal birthplace: safe, comfortable, risk-free (from both foreign pathogens and the cascade of unnecessary interventions). The majority of women can pursue birth as as the beautiful, natural, empowering event for which our bodies were designed.

But there are times when complications can occur beyond a midwife’s toolbox of skills and equipment. There will be potential clients who should be screened out as homebirth candidates because of health risk factors. There may arise complications during a pregnancy that require medical treatment, such as pre-eclampsia. As disappointing as it is, there are times when a technocratic setting may be the safest birth route for the at-risk woman and baby. There will be times when nothing but an emergency technology will do. OBs are trauma and surgical experts. If you are a member of the 5%, the technical obstetrical approach can be helpful, even necessary.

I have a “passionate” personality. I become easily indignant at injustice. In large part, portions of the modern medical system and the modern birth system are unjust, even harmful. But despite my frustration with this system, I have given intellectual assent and neutral respect to the careful use of lifesaving emergency medical procedures. But now, I am personally thankful for the appropriate use of medical technology because on February 12-13, 2013, it saved my life.

On February 12, I suffered my third miscarriage. This one was shockingly fast. I had no major impending signs, only a few spots of brown (which means “old”) and pink-brown blood throughout the day...nothing more, no cramping, no increase in bleeding. So, I was devastated when my water unexpectedly broke early Tuesday evening and I instantly birthed my lifeless 14-week-old baby boy. Immediately, I began bleeding like a slow faucet and soon after started slipping into shock.

This was unlike my other miscarriages. It was violent and traumatic. I felt myself losing consciousness as I bled and passed clots...this was all within five minutes. If I had been treating “the client,” I would have immediately dosed with aconite, cayenne and shepherd’s purse (anti-shock and anti-hemorrhagic remedies). Maybe it would have worked...it has done before, in other situations. But I was not in a position to treat myself. And I knew that I was hemorrhaging too quickly beyond what I could control...that I needed help. As someone who does not use the medical system, I do not take this lightly. But I know enough from my midwifery studies to know that losing consciousness while hemorrhaging is highly undesirable and potentially fatal. This was the only reason I would consent to a transport to the hospital...I felt my life was seriously at risk. My husband got me down on the bathroom floor and called an ambulance. The rest of the event is a bit of a blur.

The average woman has eight to ten pints of blood in her body. A blood loss of 40% can cause death. A massive hemorrhage is defined as a loss of total EBV (estimated blood volume) in 24 hours, or a loss of half of EBV in three hours. Blood transfusion is necessary to avoid death. “Obstetrical hemorrhage is often acute, dramatic, and underestimated. Postpartum hemorrhage is a significant cause of maternal death.” (Society of OB/GYNs of Canada, Hemorrhagic Shock document)

Medical professionals agree that blood loss, something difficult to visually assess, is regularly underestimated. We estimate that I lost two pints of blood before the ambulance arrived. At the hospital, between the time I arrived hooked up to the saline IV and the time I quickly began crashing, the blood loss was approximately another two pints. Between those events, sensing my husband's concern at the possibility of inappropriate interventions (such as hysterectomy), the OB did not push us into immediate surgery. However, the ER team erred initially by not administering what should be standard protocol for a woman who arrives in a state of hemorrhage...anti-hemorrhagic uterine clamping drugs, such as methergine, pitocin, cytotec.  Most medical professionals would agree that this error did contribute to the crash that followed.  (Such is the risk of living in a small town with a small hospital.)

Our bad situation turned worse quickly as my bleeding increased and I went from mild to moderate hemorrhagic shock; my husband knew that despite the “vitals” looking semi-reasonable (BP, pulse, etc), I was slipping away. Diagnostics are limited. Machines and tests can tell us only so much about what is going on inside the body. In diagnosing any ailment, labs can look “normal,” stats can appear acceptable, and you can still be very ill. These tools are imperfect, limited indicators of what is going on physiologically; they are not flawless representations of reality, they have neither God-like knowledge nor x-ray vision. My body rapidly degraded from a Class 3 to a Class 4 hemorrhage, but because my husband’s instincts made him insistent, I was not lost.

The man who knows me best observed me and knew I was dying. I knew it, but was not lucid enough to participate, and I believe that the OB saw it as well. (They told me later that my pallor was alarming...that I was “whiter than a sheet,” that I looked like a body in a casket. The OB told me she was instantly concerned when she observed my blanched lips.) The OB seemed relieved that my husband insisted upon whatever emergency lifesaving measures were necessary (of course wanting to avoid hysterectomy), and that he did not bat an eye at the course of blood transfusion.

The Bible says that the “life is in the blood.” I have never before understood that fact so intimately. As I lay in the ER, my body suffering the shock of a major hemorrhage, I felt myself dying. It was a physically painful and emotionally horrific experience. In addition to the physical experience (extreme coldness, shaking, loss of sight and sound, gushing blood), I felt my life leaving my body with all that blood. It is an experience I am unable to adequately express with words, the feeling of my life force ebbing away.

I remember at one point that my husband was leaning over me, speaking urgently to me, telling me to stay awake. I was losing consciousness, and I knew that if I closed my eyes, I would never again open them. I have never been so scared, despite my trust in God. I was not ready to die. I struggled to remain...and then I was taken to surgery, of which I gratefully remember nothing due to the anesthesia. My body continued to bleed aggressively.  The OB worked with difficulty for two hours to stop my uterine hemorrhage while they began my blood transfusion (my husband says the young OB seemed shaken but relieved after the surgery; she later expressed how intense the situation had been). In addition to the difficulty in halting the hemorrhage, during the surgery, my heart suffered arrhythmias. No doubt!

The OB told me later that despite making multiple passes through my uterus and removing all its contents, despite giving me every drug she could to stop the hemorrhage and get the uterus to contract; despite performing bimanual compressions...the bleeding simply would not stop.  She had the ER doctor come in to do ultrasound while she went through the uterus again, hoping to find something she had missed, to no avail.  She said she was mentally preparing to begin a hysterectomy (which she knew we did not want) to save my life when the bleeding finally just slowed and stopped.  What an answer to the prayers of my husband, pacing alone in a waiting room!  It was a miracle that saved us from the limitations of "rural medicine," as our local hospital does not have the expertise or the equipment to perform procedures that can arrest uterine hemorrhaging far less detrimental, invasive and permanent than hysterectomy, such as B-Lynch suturing, uterine arterial ligation, or uterine arterial embolization. 

Before being released from the ICU two days later, I had received six pints of blood along with additional platelets and plasma; even after that, my hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were lower than normal and I still feel weak. Under normal circumstances, it takes 90 days for the human body to replenish its red blood cell levels. After traumatic blood loss, it takes the body longer to return to "normal."  I should be “renewed” in four to six months. The life is absolutely in the blood.

The medical technology of a blood transfusion restored my life. Risks? Side effects? Sure...of course...risk of allergy to the blood during transfusion. Fatal risks of overuse of the fluid resuscitation (saline IV). Risk of future infection from the blood transfusion (yes, blood products can be dangerous...at this point, I cannot read anymore articles about the risks I endured on that front; it was our only choice to avoid death). Risks of iatrogenic death simply due to my being subject to all those procedures. Risk of contracting an illness or infection from spending time in the hospital. Side effects of having my body subject to numerous chemicals and drugs. But I was dying. And now I’m alive. I survived the risks thus far and cannot allow myself to fear any others.

Yes, I’m radical about natural living. But I wasn’t ready to die, so compromises were made. Lifesaving emergency procedures were taken and then I awoke and spent observation and acute recovery time in the hospital. The situation demanded that I be subject to particular protocols. Would I have chosen therapeutic doses of usnea and garlic, vitamins D and C, rather than the pharmaceutical antibiotic insisted upon to “ward off” potential infection after the procedure? You bet your bottom dollar. But that wasn’t a protocol fight I could fight at that time. (I immediately began dosing myself upon returning home.) Acceptable compromise. At least no one tried to give me a vaccination. That would have been a fight I would refuse to lose.

Sure, now I need to add an intense couple weeks of GAPS Intro into my recovery scheme, to combat the pathogenic overgrowth I’m already feeling. But I know the drill. The anesthesia drugs that were given to me to put me out for the two to three hour desperate, multiple pass D&C procedure? I’m not going to regret that; I’m glad to some degree that I wasn’t awake and aware (though I do feel the need to understand everything that happened to me while I was “out”). I’ll happily add some extra liver detox boosts and juicing during my GAPS Intro recovery boot camp. I need to consider it a small price to pay for defying death. I will take time now to heal, to detox my body, to re-establish flora and gut health, to use nutrients and anti-infectious herbs to support my immunity. I would prefer to see the emergency medical system rely less on pharmaceuticals and more on healing botanical medicines for certain aspects of treatment, but that is not their way. With the good (but not without its risks) lifesaving technology comes some bad… But I’m here to talk about it, and that’s what matters to me today. The appropriate use of medical skill and technology can save lives.

I will continue my studies and training to become a knowledgeable, skilled, professional midwife, acquiring the techniques and instincts to assist and empower women to birth their babies naturally at home, and to attend to any complications and traumas that I can. But I have a renewed understanding about the importance of carefully screening homebirth candidates and providing intimate continuity of care during the prenatal year (watching diligently for anemia, malnutrition, and other underlying health complications). I understand in a very personal way that some women might suffer complications that cannot be treated without medical intervention.

In future, when I encounter a genuinely high-risk client or acute life-threatening trauma that only specialized technology can treat, I will be thankful to have a working relationship with a respectful and skilled (and hopefully holistically minded) OB. Words cannot express how saddened I am to think that I may never become pregnant again.  Of course, this is not something that I or anyone can know with certainty.  The unusually aggressive D&C procedure likely scarred the interior of my uterus, which can make it extremely difficult for the embryo to implant.  This is the devastating reality of my survival.

Life has a way of educating us, and I pray that my experiences will become valuable to others; my pattern of hyperemesis (extreme nausea and vomiting) during pregnancy no doubt lead to anemia, increasing risk of hemorrhage. I experienced this with my third birth, but we were able to control the hemorrhage at home and all was well after my recovery. My miscarriage this September left me weak, likely anemic, and the hyperemesis of this (quite unexpected) pregnancy undoubtedly contributed to further anemia, spurring the hemorrhage, which seemed out of my control. Might I have stopped the hemorrhage with aggressive use of herbs and manual compression? Possibly, if I had been in a state of mind and body to tend to my own care. But that didn't happen, and without the blood transfusion, I would have died. 

Can I safely become pregnant again? Possibly.  Will my uterus be able to accept and support another baby?  I don't know...  Will this traumatic event throw my hormones into havoc and possibly bring on early menopause?  Quite possible, even probably.  But I still hope to have another child.  If my body can get past the hurdles and conceive again, the greatest risk is of another miscarriage while anemic.  As opposed to a full term pregnancy, the body's blood volume is not great enough in the midst of a pregnancy to compensate for traumatic blood loss during a second term miscarriage.  The uterus is fuller and the placenta does not birth directly after the baby; the process is much more drawn out, which means significant and constant bleeding from the uterus.  The uterus cannot clamp down/contract closed while products of pregnancy are yet retained.  The extreme bleeding, coupled with anemia, set the scenario for deadly hemorrhage.

I don’t know if I can heal the underlying malfunctions causing my pregnancy difficulties. I am hopeful but not prognosticating.  I am praying for wisdom and healing.  But I am so thankful that I have three live children, my miracles, whom I love beyond telling.

Now, I recover. It’s strange, but I’m feeling like I’ll never be normal again. I’m sure that will pass in time. I can’t quite put it into words, though, but I feel like I’m not all here...that some part of me didn’t come back with the rest of me. I have no doubt that the emotional and physical losses will take time to heal. I just feel...different. I don’t think I ever before fully comprehended how fragile life can be. Things look and feel different to me now. Perhaps I have a new lease on life, as they say...a renewed sense of purpose. It is time for me to seriously assess how I should live the remainder of this life. In the last six months, I turned 40, lost two babies to miscarriage, and almost died. Needless to say, I’m entering an intense life re-evaluation mode. I believe that means more undistracted time with my children and husband, and a simplification of my pursuits. I don’t know when I might write again, but I thank you all for your support and I pray that God blesses you!

EWWHerbals                                                                              "Every wise woman builds her house..."  Proverbs 14:1

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