Archives

Going Green pt.3- Fall in Love with Castile

IMG_7244

What a funny looking bottle, filled with propaganda haha. But alas, this is my beloved Dr. Bronner’s.

I think that a lot of people don’t know what to do with liquid castile soap, let alone know what it is. It’s liquid soap concentrate. It’s made from olive oil. This brand is organic, ethically sourced, vegan, and cruelty free…and maybe a *little* pricey. There are other brands, but I cannot recommend them.

This is considered a household staple and a base ingredient to natural living. It is greywater safe- meaning, you can dump it on the ground without causing pollution, or bathe with it in open water. It’s a LOT of work to make it yourself (unless you care to melt some castile bar soap), so it’s easier to buy. This isn’t an issue, however, because the bottle is made of recycled materials, and can be recycled. This company also makes a variety of products, including bar soap. I’ve mentioned that I used the bar soap in my homemade laundry soap recipe.

It’s also non-toxic, free of all the nasties that are considered carcinogens, air pollutants, dyes, and endocrine disruptors. You can get it in a variety of scents or unscented, and can use it on your baby. I appreciate that the scents are from essential oils and not synthetic perfumes. My favorite is lavender.

Aside from these factors, it’s the USES that make this soap so valuable. Taken directly from the site, here are some uses and ratios that this soap can be used for:

Body wash- use a few drops of concentrate

Shampoo- 1/2T worked in hair or diluted with 1/2c water

Bubble bath (they SAY it doesn’t bubble, but it does)- I just squirt some in

Shaving- a few drops from concentrate

Dish Soap- mix 1:10 with water

Mopping- 1/2c to 3gal water

Cleaning the bathroom- 1:4 with water and 1/4t tea tree oil

Laundry- 1/3-1/2c per load and 1/2c vinegar to rinse cycle (for fabric softener)

Household pests- 1/4 tea tree oil soap in a quart of water

Washing pets- use concentrate

Veggie wash- a dash in a pan of water

All of these and more can be found here at the Dr. Bronner’s site and blog.

You’ll also hear about this soap from No Impact Man, who is a man who tried to lower his footprint as much as possible for a year (his documentary is on Netflix and its AWESOME). He expressed his value of this soap because it replaced a lot of bottles and waste that were created by buying all of the above products (laundry soap, dishwashing soap, bathroom cleaner, etc.).

So there you have it. I’m a Dr. Bronner’s cheerleader 🙂

 

I’m officially a hippy. (Why I ditched my bras)

bra

I remember when I first put on a bra. I “sprouted” early. I was both excited and embarrassed, but it is a cultural precept that once your breasts start to show through your shirt, or your nipples rather, that you must put on a bra. The bra is said to both support growing breasts and provide modestly by preventing them from showing too much through your shirt.

It took me until recently to figure out how ridiculous this sounds. Don’t get me wrong- I’m a fan of modestly, especially as a Muslim woman, and I shudder at the idea of my nipples being on public display, but that’s not to say that I find nipples offensive. Rather, I find bondage offensive.

Yeah, that’s right, I said bondage. In fact, bras are just a modern advancement of the corset. For centuries, women have been maneuvering ways to wrangle their breasts in order that they might jog, perform household tasks…or get the attention of men. Only recently were they touted as a health device, one that might protect our backs or breast tissue.

287031-national-no-bra-day

But no, all of this defies logic, and until recently, our sex driven culture didn’t seem to care, until of course, the French pointed out exactly what we all knew and feared– that bras are actually BAD for us. Sure, they weren’t mis-shaping our internal organs like corsets, but they sure were mashing up our mammary glands and lymphatic systems. No, no, bras weren’t protecting us at all- they were actually PUTTING US AT RISK OF CANCER!  (ok, maybe that’s speculating, but it’s the lymphatic system) And what’s worse? They were MAKING OUR BREASTS SAG! Why? Because it’s like an arm that never leaves a sling- the surrounding muscle tissue doesn’t gain strength.

breast lymphs

Do you know what else determines whether or not your breasts sag? Genes. Good genes. (And having children…there’s some free birth control for you. You’re welcome.)

tumblr_mlgg82Rjly1qihr1ro1_500

So again, why are we wearing these skin pinching, breast gouging bondage devices? Because we want the public to see our breasts like the airbrushed ones (because the times our breasts are exposed in private they sure as heck don’t look like that), and because nipples are considered indecent when shown through the shirt.

Do you know what was considered offensive and obscene to the Chinese? Big feet. So they would mash up children’s feet into tiny bondage shoes filled with broken glass and deform them so they would look perfect. Sound familiar? But we wouldn’t DREAM of cramming our feet into ridiculous shoes, much less our breasts into ridiculous corsetry. Right?

I, for one, don’t give a toss what strangers think of my breasts, and I don’t think my nipples are exceptionally offensive, even if someone were to see them.

So I ditched my bra.

freedom

It goes a lot deeper than that, of course. I have fibromyalgia, which is in part caused by a backed up lymphatic system. The glands in my neck and face are perpetually swollen, and I didn’t want to make it any worse. I always thought that I had constant pain in my breasts from hormones, which is typically what doctors tell you. After going braless, I realized…it was my bra. Not to mention the terrible lines and dips I had.

How did I do it? Well, I wore a lot of braless-friendly tops for summers on end. For some reason, tank tops with built in shelf-bras are socially acceptable, and I wore them for years. SO my pectorals were already built up substantially.

But if yours aren’t, there’s no reason why you can’t start small and go braless a couple of hours a day, increasing your time gradually.

And to replace my bras? I just wear cami’s with a shelf bra, or spandex based camis without a lining. No underwire. No tugging. No bondage.

cami

The other up-side to going braless is that camis really smooth out your mom-lumps. You know what I’m talking about.

It’s great. I feel great. Nothing hurts. And I probably won’t get breast cancer now.

oi

K some A on your seasonal allergies

It’s that time of year again- the time of year you wake up feeling like you’re breathing through a straw, your eyes are glued shut, and every square inch of your skin is peeling.

At least if you live in this house.

There is no cure for allergies. There are only comfort measures. Anyone who attempts to cure allergies is ignoring one small detail- they’re a genetic deformity. Basically, your body thinks that allergenic proteins are diseases and attacks them. This isn’t normal. If you want to know more about how allergies work in the body, I found this really great link here. SOME acupuncturists and acupressurists, and some naturopaths believe that their methods of acupuncture, acupressure and sub-lingual homeopathic tinctures can cure your allergies, and I’ve heard of success stories, but personally, I’ve had very little luck with those methods because my allergies are VERY serious.

If your allergies are VERY serious and/or you carry an Epi-pen because you have life-threatening allergies, you should be overseen by a doctor. I am not a PHD, I have a certification in Holistic Health, so take this information with the oversight of your GP.

Now, you may have gone to your doctor or allergist. I’m going to show you what my medicine cabinet looks like DOWNGRADED from the 13 OTHER prescriptions that I dropped off at the fire station for disposal. Ya. That’s like, what, 20 scripts? Look, I strongly advocate natural remedies, but I cut myself some slack with seasonal allergies for two reasons. The first is that I’m already doing everything, including maintaining optimal health in other areas, and avoiding the things that make me sick. But the reason we have so much ragweed is because of global warming. And secondly, my allergies are so serious that if I don’t maintain them, I get very serious bronchial, sinus, and skin infections that can lead to pneumonia or worse. I even carry an Epi. The things I’m recommending today are to go in addition to an every day routine, such as taking Claritin, though for some with moderate to mild allergies, they may be enough to stand on their own. Asking your doctor about these things is always a great idea, especially if you’re considering going off your existing medication, which could be life-threatening.

So this is what I needed after being gluten free (being gluten free as a Celiac calms your immune system). There’s generic versions of Sudafed, Benedryl cream (and I had Benedryl as well but we’re OUT!), Patanol eye drops, generic Claritin, two eczema creams (there are two at the fire station), and an inhaler (I’ve got 2 others in my purse of different types). And an epi-pen. I’m SUPER horrible at taking medications because the side effects are GHASTLY. I’m realistic with myself- I use my natural remedies until I start to cross over that very fine line of management into suffering. To be honest, I haven’t needed any of these since avoiding animal products.

Now I’m going to show you what I actually do for allergies currently.

This one is going to ruffle a few vegan feathers. Many vegans don’t eat honey. There’s a huge ethical reason for being opposed to honey- bees are VERY mistreated, our bee populations are dwindling, and honey has the same properties as sugar in many ways. BUT. I know how these bees are kept. It’s one of the advantages of knowing where your food comes from. You don’t have to hurt bees to get honey. And unlike drinking cows milk or eating eggs, honey can actually be good for you.

The properties of wildflower honey are very important for people with seasonal allergies. The wildflower pollen helps the body create immunity to local wildlife. It’s like the sub-lingual tinctures that your naturopathic doctor would give you. I don’t recommend that you use honey as a dietary substitute because of the ethical issues involved. However- for the sake of medicinal purposes, I think that it is justifiable consuming small amounts seasonally as long as you’re getting it responsibly. I do NOT recommend winter honey consumption in spring, because some farmers give their bees corn syrup or sugar water. Get your honey this time of year, and get enough to use in spring. That’s probably no more than a couple of jars this size.

Don’t get pasteurized honey. Pasteurization kills a lot of properties in food. Also, never give children under 1 unpasteurized honey, because sometimes it can contain bacteria that is safe for adults, but harmful to children with newer immune systems. Honey is also great to soothe a sore throat, which can result from post-nasal drip.

I drink these. I love them. They’re perfect for allergies. Green tea (I get decaf) is also very good for asthma (and eczema). Some people argue that caffeine is bad for allergies- and it is, but for a different reason. Those people don’t understand that eczema isn’t caused by dry skin from being poorly hydrated (a result of excessive caffeine consumption) but rather that eczema is a histamine reaction. Get this- recent studies indicate that eczema actually causes asthma. Caffeine, though, can raise the histamine level in some allergic people, so try not to consume it in excess. Be careful with echinacea because of cross-reactivity to ragweed.

I drink a lot of tea, but I drink 2-3 cups of this nettle every day. I put the nettle leaf that I got in the bulk section of my local grocer in the diffuser into hot water for about 5-10min. The nettle leaf is surprisingly mild, but you could cut it with some peppermint leaf, which should be in the same section of the store. You can also get teabags with nettle, and capsules. I don’t get the capsules because they’re often mixed with other allergenic herbs, and because the capsules have gelatin. Don’t take this if you’re pregnant or nursing, and consult your doctor if you have diabetes because it can raise blood sugar levels. Also, if you have a ragweed allergy, do NOT drink or take chamomile. It’s a major cousin allergen.

I also take this. I’m taking it for a variety of reasons, but it’s known for treating allergies. The only thing is, it CAN cause problems in people with ragweed allergies, but it’s far less likely than other supplements that I was taking, which include goldenrod, yarrow, and echinacea. Word to the wise- do not take goldenrod. These are vegan and gluten free capsules and they’re cheap on Amazon.com.

I own a $400 air purifier. Don’t laugh at me- this thing can clear the house in under 15min. The filters are HEPA and cost $5/ea, but they only need replacing 4x’s a year. I got it at Home Depot. I also have a HEPA filter vacuum, which you MUST have if you have a dustmite or pet allergy. My daughter is allergic to dust mites, so we leave this device on, vacuum weekly, and we have special bedding. Sears (and I think Walmart) carry special mattress/boxspring covers that you zip over them, and I ordered my daughter a pillow and comforter made of the same material on Amazon.com. These things are very important because the fabric is specially designed so that dust mites cannot get inside them, keeping them out of the bedding and mattress. Additionally, we wash her bedding every week. For dust mite allergies, you can also run a humidifier, which we do in the winter, but is not suitable for those with mold allergies.

I bet you’d never think I’d endorse a chemical product on my site, but let’s talk about allergy sprays. I hate Febreze- but I also hate spending $40 on a bottle of allergy spray. Allergy sprays are made to neutralize allergenic proteins. Let me tell you a little secret- all these are is rubbing alcohol. So spray rubbing alcohol around your carpets and furniture. If you’re allergic to mold, add some tea tree oil. Try to avoid Febreze, especially if you have asthma.

I already have permission to crank my AC everywhere I go because of hijab, but my puffy face just makes it even more convincing. I put my AC on in the car and the house this time of year. Yes, there are more sustainable ways to do it, and we do leave windows and doors shut during the day to conserve energy, but I can’t exactly cook in a house that is 90 at dinner time. So we run the AC to keep the pollen out.

This is our household cure-all. My allergies are so bad that my skin gets red and peels (in addition to the patches of eczema), so I put some of this in a spray bottle and just spray it all over me. Take care using this around cats, as some say it is toxic to them. It’s great for allergic acne too, but always dilute it.

I also strongly endorse this company, Avena Botanicals. I have been using this product on my face and areas with eczema to prevent allergic inflammation of my skin. The chickweed is great for eczema.

It might surprise you that I don’t use a netti pot. First and foremost, I don’t like to feel like I’m drowning. More importantly, people think they can use tap water, but the lining of the  sinus is very sensitive. Chemicals used to treat public water and bacteria in pipes can cause infections. There’s more on that here. You can buy saline nasal sprays at  the store, even for small children, or do like the Indians and rub a thin layer of oil on the insides of your nostrils. If you can do a netti right and like it, they have a high success rate in reducing sinus inflammation, and Dr. Oz swears by them!

Cows milk was meant for baby calves…

Also, if you’re not already vegan, consider avoiding dairy during allergy season. Dairy promotes mucous production, which can cause blocked sinuses, sinusitis, and eventually, infection. It’s also responsible for most eczema.

Lastly, I do these yoga poses, some with adaptions because of my disability. For allergies, you’re going to want to do more inverted poses. Be sure to clean your mat with a highly diluted tea tree oil solution and to air it out well. I also refrain from personal care products with scents, as I mentioned before, so that when I’m breathing deeply, I’m not choking myself off. You can view these at YogaJournal.

Understanding Celiac’s Disease

I have Celiac’s disease. Sometimes I feel like no one knows what it is or how to keep me safe. People ask a lot of ridiculous questions, and I never realized how compulsive some people are about sharing their food until I couldn’t eat it. I’m writing this post in hopes that it is a quick trouble shooting guide to understanding Celiac’s disease.

What is Celiac’s Disease? Celiac’s Disease is an autoimmune condition like Lupus or Crohn’s Disease. It never goes away. The cure for Celiac’s disease is to go on a gluten free diet, but many people still have symptoms and chronic illness even after they stop eating gluten. Gluten is a protein found in certain grains. When a Celiac ingests gluten, their body makes antibodies. Instead of those antibodies attacking a virus or gluten, they attack the lining of the intestine that is responsible for absorbing nutrients and digesting your food. This is why many Celiacs are vitamin deficient.

Above is a healthy intestine vs an intestine of a Celiac

Is Celiac’s disease the same as a gluten or wheat allergy? Is it a gluten intolerance? No and no. Celiac’s disease is an autoimmune condition, which is permanent and destroys the intestine. It is measured and diagnosed by testing the blood for IgE and IgA, immunoglobulins responsible for the intestinal damage. A gluten or wheat allergy is when the body makes histamine in response to the protein, which can cause hives, upper respiratory distress like itching and asthma, and even death by anaphylaxis. Gluten intolerance is like lactose intolerance, in which a person doesn’t have sufficient enzymes to digest the gluten protein. There are gluten intolerance pills on the market, but I’m unsure as to their effectiveness. People with gluten intolerance are not harmed by mild cross-contamination in most instances, and they do not get dermatitis herpitaformas blisters, nor do people who are allergic. Dermatitis herpitaformas is specific to people with Celiac’s disease, but not all Celiac’s have it.

What foods contain gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, spelt, barley, and a few other grains like Einkhorn that aren’t very popular, and in regular oats. Oats must be certified gluten free because they’re often cross-contaminated during harvest or processing. Unfortunately, many foods can unexpectedly contain those items, and especially contain wheat. Obvious foods containing gluten are bread, pasta, cereal, crackers and pretzels and baked goods containing wheat flour. Some foods that might surprise you as containing gluten are seasonings and dressings, dips, personal care products like shampoo and lotion, beer, some chips, soups and broths, strawberries (are grown in straw which contains gluten), luncheon meats, soy sauce, icecream, granola bars, some fruit snacks, and many others.

What is cross-contamination? Cross-contamination happens when a food or grain containing gluten touches a food without gluten, or a surface that gluten free food touches. Examples of cross-contamination are sharing a toaster, splattering in a microwave or oven, sharing porous surfaces like plastic or wooden dishes or cutlery, steam from pasta cooking, cooking with wheat flour in a gluten free kitchen, sharing a strainer (they’re impossible to get clean), sharing a bread maker, re-dipping a knife into mayo, pb, butter, etc. after touching the knife to gluten containing foods like bread, kissing or holding hands with someone who has eaten gluten, eating icecream from a place that puts ice cream on cones (from the scoops touching the cones), touching a gluten containing food and then touching a gluten free food, etc. A person with Celiac’s disease is usually only safe eating from their own kitchen, but there are rare exceptions. When explaining cross-contamination, the metaphor that I use is to imagine that the gluten containing food were covered in blue paint. Obviously, anything that food touches or that you touch will get covered in blue paint. The blue paint represents gluten.

What special foods do Celiac’s eat? Celiac’s don’t live off of just fruits and vegetables. In fact, foods like rice, beans, tofu, corn, potatoes, and produce are naturally gluten free. Some special foods for Celiac’s are things like rice or corn pasta, gluten free english muffins or bagels, gluten free pies and cakes, gluten free cereal, gluten free condiments, gluten free cookie dough ice cream, gluten free hamburger or hot dog buns, gluten free pretzels, and gluten free candy, but there are many more things on the market. Distilled alcohol is gluten free, but there is gluten free beer as well.

What happens if you eat gluten? In addition to destroying the lining of my intestine, Celiac’s usually display a variety of both short and long term symptoms. Short  term symptoms include severe vomiting or diarrhea, severe stomach pain, eczema, blisters called dermatitis herpitaformas which are very painful and itchy like chicken pox, brain fog, mood swings, extreme fatigue, migraines, reflux, gas, and body aches. Everyone is different, but long term side effects can include hair loss, weight gain or loss, sleep irregularities, changes in appetite, vitamin deficiency including anemia, infertility, major organ failure, and even death or cancer.

Someone I love was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease, what can I do to be supportive? Don’t try to feed them. If you cook for them, you’re likely to make them sick because your kitchen is coated with gluten. The most supportive things my family has done for me was to buy me gluten free goodies like snacks and to help me replace my gluten coated kitchen items. I’ve also had friends come to help me scrub my kitchen (gluten comes off of non-porous surfaces with soap and hot water). Living Without is a great publication on gluten free and other dietary needs. Try to hang out with that person in settings that don’t involve food, and don’t be offended if you invite them over for dinner and they bring their own. It’s ok to invite them to parties or dinners, but preface with, “I understand you have special dietary needs, but I don’t want you to feel excluded. I would understand if you don’t want to come, but I’m open to helping to buy or prepare food that you feel comfortable eating or helping me prepare.” Sometimes a Celiac may decide to skip out, because let’s face it, who wants to go to a party and have to prepare everything- they might as well stay home and relax! Also, while some places may say their food is gluten free (like restaurants), your Celiac loved one may be skeptic, and it’s a good idea to call ahead of time to make sure they’re not going to be exposed to cross-contamination.

It’s not the 50’s anymore

This is my cleaning arsenal. It consists of baking soda, homemade laundry soap, organic castile soap, tea tree oil, and apple cider vinegar.

In the age of resistant bacteria, its easy to reach for bleach or ammonia, but few realize that not only is it dangerous and toxic, but it’s actually damaging to your immune system and hurts our planet.

I always chuckle when people ask me if I bleach my cloth diapers or my personal care items. It’s not the 50’s anymore- we don’t need to have EVERYTHING sterile and disposable.

And it’s just that- no one understands what clean actually is, because we’re being told by marketing that we have to throw toxic chemicals at everything.

Well here I am, to dispel the myths.

First and foremost, very few situations in a household call for hospital grade cleaners containing bleach or ammonia.

It’s easier to list the reasons for using them, and they are:

  • An outbreak of a disease such as MRSA, pneumonia, CDif, TB, or other deadly or antibiotic resistant diseases. In the event of diseases such as influenza, norovirus, common cold, or minor bacterial infections, a solution of tea tree oil in water will suffice for disinfecting. There IS some controversy surrounding tea tree oil’s ability to kill norovirus, but supporting studies are executed well. Since norovirus calls for very thorough cleaning, bleach or ammonia is difficult and toxic. Children’s toys can be sprayed with tea tree oil but should be washed off after to avoid residue.
  • You throw a party, and people you’re not related to are in your home. It can be debated that you don’t necessarily have to disinfect your bathroom, but you may feel inclined to, and no one would judge you.
  • Something has been exposed to deadly or harmful bacteria- this can be true of animal products such as meat or eggs, water bacteria, feces, etc. Again, this can be debated- heat/hot water and soap kills a LOT of bacteria strains such as E. Coli, but studies done on even simple places like a washing machine after washing underpants indicate that E.Coli survives household water temperatures and soap- even in the dryer. The evidence is certainly contradictory- after all, millions of Americans cook and handle all sorts of bacteria laced meat and simply wash their hands and counters, and by all means, even commercial dishsoap doesn’t contain bleach or ammonia. However, if your dog rolls in a dead animal and then comes into the home, you may want to bleach your floor and tub.

And by now you’re probably wondering, what’s so bad about bleach and ammonia anyway? What is wrong with disinfecting everything? Here is a list of reasons-

Household cleaners:

  • Contain known carcinogens.
  • Cause asthma when genetic causation is ruled out
  • Weaken the immune system (think- our immune system is a careful balance of good and bad bacteria, but household cleaners kill EVERYTHING)
  • Off-gas- that is, they become airborne and we breathe them in
  • Pollute water
  • Pollute the air
  • Cause skin and eye burning
  • Are toxic when consumed.
  • Cause pollution from production and plastic usage
  • Often contain false labeling such as “natural”, which is not regulated by the government for safety
  • Are linked to SIDS
  • Cause allergies and eczema
  • Can kill your pets and significantly reduce their lifespan
  • Some never come off- dryer sheets, for example, contain chemicals that literally cannot be scrubbed off your skin.

So what should you clean with? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Clean your bathroom using a tea tree oil and water solution, or baking soda and vinegar. I actually prefer baking soda and vinegar because it unclogs drains (pour baking soda in the drain and then vinegar), and it makes it easier to scrub off discoloration and calcification.
  • Clean your floors with the homemade laundry soap recipe here on the site or with diluted liquid castile soap.
  • Wash your clothes and sheets with the homemade laundry soap, and hang them on the line. If they smell musty, you can add some vinegar and baking soda to your wash, and it will also soften them. Tea tree oil can also be added to laundry for “disinfectant”. If your clothes need to be whitened, add some Borax.
  • Deodorize by finding the source of the odor. If something smells, WASH IT, with soap if you have to. Borrow a Green Machine or a carpet cleaner, rent a steamer, whichever. But don’t throw perfumy chemicals on it. If a house smells musty, you may have to sprinkle the carpet with baking soda and wash the walls, or get a dehumidifier.
  • Improve your indoor air quality by getting an air purifier, buying products second hand that have already off-gassed, skipping out on things that have press-wood or flame retardant, and having a lot of plants, especially rubber plants.
  • Scrub your oven by putting a pan full of vinegar in it overnight. The vinegar loosens the stuff on the sides.
  • Ditch your wet Swiffer sheets by replacing them with old rags and washing them when you’re done.
  • If you can tolerate it, get some chemical free incense or paraffin free candles to make the house smell inviting. I also enjoy flowers in the home.
  • Invest in a cedar chest of drawers or chest for clothing storage, which deters moths, and also makes the clothing smell nice. Lavender or balsam sachets also make a nice touch in closets and drawers.
  • Don’t use plastic in the kitchen- it’s porous and hangs onto bacteria, which can mean that it may need bleaching.
  • Avoid meat, and if you can’t, use a glass cutting board.
  • Use vinegar on mirrors, and lemon on wood.
  • Don’t wear your shoes in the house.

There are many more solutions, and a simple “Google” search of green cleaning methods will yield all sorts of fancy solutions.

Ditch your pit stick: Why commercial deodorants are harmful

That is a commercial stick of deodorant. With a warning label. Why? Because it’s required by law. Your deodorant stick is part of that aforementioned chemical shit storm that you should be avoiding, and this entry today will explain why.

Before you go on a rant about stinky hippies, consider this- what is your idea of hygiene? Is your idea of cleanliness to clog up your sweat glands so that they can’t cool your body, completely blocking sweat? Is it to stop your body from ridding toxic chemicals? Is it to smell like artificial perfume, which is bonded with petroleum based plastics to adhere to your skin?

To understand deodorant, one must really consider why the purpose of our underarms are and what our goal is. As I have mentioned before, your underarms are made for cooling. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling you off- it’s the equivalent of misting yourself on a hot day. If you cool off the skin, it cools off the body- remember, your skin is your largest organ. In fact, carrying a small 3oz spray bottle of “toilet water” (water infused with essential oil or flowers/herbs) that has been in the fridge, is a GREAT way to stay cool (and fresh) on a hot day.

Our goal is to stay dry (as opposed to soggy), smelling fresh, and clean.

Well that’s pretty easy if you ask me. You stay dry by not sweating- and you refrain from sweating by staying cool. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to stay cool- we have ac’s, portable fans, pools, mist-ers, etc., but the MOST overlooked way of staying cool is to stop overbaking your body. The reason I don’t have soggy armpits isn’t because I’m not overweight or because I have nuclear deodorant, it’s because I dress for the weather, which means I’m wearing breathable cotton- not plastic ie polyester or synthetic fibers- and because my clothing isn’t painted on.

And because I wear sandals. If you’re hot all the time, stop wearing shoes. Your feet are part of your body’s cooling system.

As far as smelling fresh and being clean, they go hand in hand. See, odor is actually caused by an imbalance of your body’s ph in your underarm area, which breeds bacteria. Obviously, diet and hormones play a MAJOR roll in this, but also staying clean. Friends- if your underarms start to smell, GO WASH THEM. Don’t coat them in chemicals- they just cover up the odor. In fact, deodorant doesn’t “kill” bacteria- it just covers up the smell with noxious perfume.

Yep. Some people have to wash their underarms an extra time each day. It’s just one of those facts of life. Don’t wanna wash your underarms twice a day? Get off birth control and stop eating animal products.

But I digress. Now that we’ve determined that traditional deodorant is just all wrong, let’s talk about why it’s DANGEROUS.

Findings from a different study examining the frequency of underarm shaving and antiperspirant/deodorant use among 437 breast cancer survivors were released in 2003. This study found that the age of breast cancer diagnosis was significantly earlier in women who used these products and shaved their underarms more frequently. Furthermore, women who began both of these underarm hygiene  habits before 16 years of age were diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age than those who began these habits later. While these results suggest that underarm shaving with the use of antiperspirants/deodorants may be related to breast cancer, it does not demonstrate a conclusive link between these underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer.” Pubmed link here.

Oh yes. Cancer. Here’s another goodie:

Aluminium salts are used as the active antiperspirant agent in underarm cosmetics, but the effects of widespread, long term and increasing use remain unknown, especially in relation to the breast, which is a local area of application. Clinical studies showing a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast together with reports of genomic instability in outer quadrants of the breast provide supporting evidence for a role for locally applied cosmetic chemicals in the development of breast cancer. Aluminium is known to have a genotoxic profile, capable of causing both DNA alterations and epigenetic effects, and this would be consistent with a potential role in breast cancer if such effects occurred in breast cells.” Pubmed link here.

How about neurotoxicity, neurodegeneration, and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Aluminum, present most often in antiperspirants, but not usually present in non-antiperspirant deodorants, has been established as a neurotoxin. At high doese, aluminum itself adversely affects the blood-brain barrier, is capable of causing DNA damage, and has adverse epigenetic effects. Research has shown that high doses of aluminium salts used in antiperspirants have detrimental effects to a number of species such as non-human primates, mice, and dogs.” Source: Wiki, Pubmed (1), Pubmed (2), Pubmed (3), Pubmed (4), Pubmed (5), Pubmed (6), Pubmed (7), Pubmed (8), Pubmed (9)

In case you can’t be bothered to click the above links, they’re all to numerous studies that have been done to support the above statement, and are worth a good read should you feel doubt.

But now what to do?

Get a rock salt deodorant, or an aluminum free deodorant. They look like this:

You just wet it and rub it on your underarm

This is great for young girls because they come in fruity scents

Or make your own! Here’s a great link.

How to make your own menstrual pads- a very simple pattern

Sweet mercy it’s been busy around here. Aside from my normal chores and tending the children, I’ve been working on a great many gifts and preparing for harvest season. Usually craft season doesn’t begin until the apples demand picking, but due to our growing family, we’ve a great many more birthdays, and we’re celebrating more holidays with family. Between the extra food preparation to compensate for our food allergies and making gifts, I’m ashamed to say we’ve enjoyed our fair share of cold plates and messes.

But that’s neither here nor there- let’s talk about these little packages!

I honestly started making these for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons you might want to make some too:

  • Allergies or sensitive skin- Many personal care products are loaded with perfume, and the adhesive sometimes has latex, or wheat or corn based glue. Also, some of them are starched.
  • Health- Many of these products are also bleached, and bleach can damage your natural PH, leading to infection or irritation. Also, due to the plastic involved, you’re not allowing air circulation…plastic wrapped vagina anyone?
  • Environmental concern- In addition to containing plastic, which rapes the planet, imagine how much waste these products make. They cause garbage, but also the manufacturing process creates waste, and increases the carbon footprint.
  • Comfort- I’m sorry, but who enjoys crunchy paper bits down there? Not. Me. These things are like a pillow- at a time when you could really use something soft and cushiony.
  • Privacy- This is a weird one, but you or your adolescent may feel self-conscious about the loud noise caused by opening up a pad and placing it into a clanging bin inside a stall.

And did I mention they’re PRETTY!

I made these out of an old cotton towel and some fabric scraps. Depending on how thick your towel is or how heavy your flow is, you may want to add more than one layer of towel. Some makers use layers of flannel. I prefer cotton and terry. You’ll also need to model these after a pad that you already use. You don’t have to make all the same size, but you’ll need to make more than one template obviously if you do.

The first step is to trace your pad. I traced mine twice, and when I cut out the first one, I only cut out a contour of it without wings. The pink part, the part without wings, will be your inside stuffing template that you’ll use to cut your towel or flannel.

With the second template, make sure you extend the length of the wings so that they overlap substantially in the back, enough to put velcro or snaps later. Then, grab a ruler and make tick marks all around your shape to set up a seam allowance. I am very accustomed to a quarter inch seam allowance because I enjoy using my machine as a guide, but you can use a half inch seam allowance if you’re a novice or you have a hard time seeing. Once I have my tick marks, I just connect the dots and cut out my second shape.

Next, use your first shape to trace onto the towel. I made 2 dozen shapes because that’s how many pads I was making. When you cut out these shapes, cut INSIDE the line you drew. This will accommodate the space it will take up as stuffing inside.

Then you’re going to trace your second shape onto your prints, cotton or flannel. Remember, that when you’re tracing your shapes, double the fabric up with the right sides facing eachother, basically tracing on the back. You’ll need two of the second template per pad.

Take one side of the second template (with wings), and pin one of the first template (of the towel or the layers of flannel) to the wrong side of the fabric.

Sew it around the edge, with the quarter inch seam allowance. It will look like this on the back:

Don’t worry if it’s perfect- remember what these are going to be used for. Don’t forget to remove your pins. Next, sew the second part of the pair with wings to the first part with the right sides facing in towards eachother. You can pin them together while you sew if you need to. Start on the side of one end and sew around, leaving the end open so you can turn it right side out.

Turn it right side out and turn in your seam allowance. Pin it in place and sew it shut. You can do it by hand or use a machine.

Once it’s sewn shut, iron it.

Next, iron the wings down so that they overlap on the back.

Now, you can choose whether or not you want snaps or velcro closures. Velcro is easier because you can sew it on with a machine. You can even get iron-on velcro that you can first iron into place and then reinforce stitch on the machine, or you can drop a stitch into regular velcro to hold it into place. The velcro can also be applied horizontally so that the wings are adjustable. I chose tiny pieces of velcro because I have very sensitive skin and am very small, and in my experience, large or adjustable velcro manages to come into contact with my skin and scratch it.

To care for these, simply put them into a bucket or basin of water with some of the homemade laundry soap recipe featured on the site, or in a basin of baking soda and water. When it comes time to wash, which should be at least every other day, simply drain the water into the toilet and wash the pads in the washer. Do not use bleach. If there is a problem with yeast or mildew smell, simply add tea tree oil to the wash load with extra baking soda and borax.

When traveling, a small pouch can be made out of PLU lining and cotton. My cousin made me one that is nice with a zipper, but even a reusable sandwich bag purchased at your local health food store would suffice.