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Oil Pulling Challenge to Transform Your Health and Detoxify Your Body!

The Oil Pulling Challenge with My Merry Messy Life to transform your health and detoxify your body!

I’ve been wanting to commit to doing oil pulling for at least six months now, and thought, why not do it with all of you and we share our progress together? Thus, the oil pulling challenge was born!

The Oil Pulling Challenge with My Merry Messy Life to transform your health and detoxify your body!

So, what the heck is oil pulling?

It is an ancient, traditional folk remedy and Ayurvedic  technique to remove toxins from the body through the mouth (Ayurvedic is traditional medicine from the Indian subcontinent). You swish a raw oil (cold-pressed) around the mouth for 15-20 minutes and then spit it out. The mouth is a bacteria haven so it makes total sense that pulling toxins from there will boost your overall health. It’s the same principle as the Oil Cleansing for cleaning the skin, that like dissolves like, and the oil will cut through plaque and draw out toxins. There are many reported health benefits when used on a regular basis, like:

  • Banishes bad breath
  • Heals gingivitis
  • Helps with skin conditions like rashes, eczema, psoriasis, acne and more (all of which are caused by toxins in the body)
  • Whitens teeth
  • Reduces oral plaque
  • Helps with asthma and allergies
  • Helps with food allergies
  • Helps with migraines and headaches

How Do You Do It?

It’s pretty simple, besides the whole not-swallowing thing.

  • Spoonful of Oil – Just take a small spoonful of any cold-pressed, raw organic oil like coconut, sesame or olive. I usually use about a teaspoon.
  • Swish It – around your mouth for 15-20 minutes. At first, this will be very hard, so give yourself some grace. It might take a week or two to work up to 20 minutes.
  • Do not swallow! As it swishes, it draws the bacteria and toxins from your mouth and into the oil, which is why you must try very hard to not swallow! I don’t swish for the entire time, as my jaw gets tired, but do it every few minutes. Again, this is really hard to control until it becomes a habit. Try it for a week or more and it will get easier.
  • Spit It Out – Then, when you’re finished spit it out in the trash or a cup, but do not put down the drain (especially coconut oil as it will harden back up and clog those suckers up).
  • Rinse Well
  • Clean Well – brush your teeth afterwards with a fluoride-free toothpaste (don’t want to re-introduce toxins with a fluoride one!)

Tips to make it easier – do it while you’re doing something else – showering, reading the morning newspaper, during the morning commute or a car ride, watching TV, playing games on your iPad, etc. That way you’re not going crazy thinking about how long it is and how you don’t want to swallow.

Coconut Oil is Best

Eastern cultures have long-since known a secret that those of us Western cowboys are starting to get – coconut oil rocks, dude. Like totally. Of course, it grows well over there and is native, which it isn’t here, so we get a pass. It contains a magical ingredient I’ve written about before called lauric acid, a medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) that is converted in the body into a compound called monolaurin, an antiviral and antibacterial that destroys a wide variety of disease causing organisms. So, coconut oil does more than sesame or olive oils by killing germs while at the same time, drawing them out of the body.

The Challenge

Do it once a day for 15-20 minutes or twice a day for 10-15 minutes for a week , commenting here or on any of my social media (use this hashtag so I can find your comment – #OilPullingChallenge) with your progress. If you’re having trouble doing it, we want to know that, too! I’ll be honest and comment in this post right along with you.

Many grocery stores carry coconut oil, but I buy mine by the gallon from Tropical Traditions. It’s organic, cold-pressed, raw and unrefined!

Follow the Challenge

To see each new post, make sure you’ve signed up on the sidebar to the right for “Each New Post.”

  • Day 1 (tip to use peppermint oil here)
  • Day 2 (common struggles discussed)
  • Day 3 (tip to keep from gagging)
  • Day 4 (how it helps with allergies & even PMS symptoms!)
  • Day 5 (teeth are much whiter)
  • Day 6 (healed a toothache and a sore throat)
  • Day 7 (detoxing & die-off symptoms)

Who’s with me?! Leave your comments below!

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Colloidal Silver – Natural Antibiotic and Antifungal Medicine

Pink eye, the flu, colds and other viruses are no match for the power of colloidal silver. It is a natural antibiotic and antibacterial (source), but what the heck is this stuff and why does it work? Let’s find out!

Colloidal Silver - A Must-Have in Your Natural Medicine Cabinet to Fight Bacteria and Viruses without Medication

Last week, my three boys all got hit with pink eye. The oozing, pussing, red-eyed, itching is just gross and uncomfortable and I just hate how it confines us to the house, especially when it’s so cold outside! My second son got it first, but didn’t have a bad case of it and he was able to conquer it in two days once I increased his probiotic supplement, added apple cider vinegar to his juice (which is a superpower – wrote about it here) and rubbed diluted lavender and tea tree oil on his feet several times a day.

By the time it got to my oldest son, the virus must’ve called all it’s friends over and threw a party while their parents were away because his eyes were way worse and it was accompanied by a cold. After one day of trying all the above treatments, I called the naturopath and he prescribed colloidal silver. I ran to my local health foods store and bought it and within two days, his eyes were clear. Then, the virus visited our sweet baby. After two drops of colloidal silver, his eyes were clear in 12 hours. Now guess who has it? My husband and his eye is the most swollen of all! Thankfully, I was already armed with my super juice and within 12 hours, his eye has greatly improved.

Some Fun History Facts of Colloidal Silver

  • It really is silver!
  • A colloid is a particle of some substance, broken down and mixed into or suspended in liquid (in this case, it’s purified water) (source)
  • Has been around since ancient Greek and Roman times and used as an antifungal and antibacterial medicine
  • Hippocrates wrote about its effectiveness in 400 B.C. (source)
  • Can be used to both prevent illnesses by boosting the immune system and to kill bacteria and viruses once they are active in the body, though this has not been tested and published in scientific journals (though neither has Apple Cider Vinegar and I’ve used it on multiple occasions with fantastic results!).
  • It wasn’t pushed aside until the age of modern, allopathic medicine and the invention of antibiotics (source) (follow the money trail…)
  • Silver is used by hospitals on surgical tools to prevent bacteria (source)

What Else Can You Use It For?

Topically

  • Insect bites
  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Skin infections
  • In the eyes for pink eye

Internally

  • As a dietary supplement to boost the immune system
  • to fight colds
  • to fight the flu
  • to fight bacterial infections like a bladder infection and even MRSA!

How to Use It

Topically, these are the drops we used for pink eye (it’s only 10 ppm, which is more diluted and safer for the eyes, according to my naturopath) – Sovereign Silver Hydrosol. We dropped 1-2 drops in the infected eye or eyes 4-5 times a day, or however many I could muster up the energy to wrangle my kids to take it.

Internally, it’s better to take this one – Sovereign Silver Colloidal Silver Immune Support. Just follow the directions on the bottle or consult your naturopath for more information.

My Thoughts, For What They’re Worth

I haven’t been taking silver internally, as a dietary supplement. Do you? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below. But, I have found that it really helps during times of illness, and most specifically, got rid of pink eye. I would like more information and to consult my naturopath before taking internally. I have had results with taking BioKult Probiotic daily, along with a sugar-free, grain-free diet, similar to Paleo, called the GAPS diet.

To learn how to take it safely and effectively, visit the Silver Safety Council. Another good resource is Natural Immunogenics.

I am not a doctor, so please use your own judgement and seek professional advice if you are concerned. Please read my medical disclaimer here.

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Detoxify Your Medicine Cabinet – Week 4 of Detoxify Your Life Challenge

How to Detoxify Your Medicine Cabinet

We’ve spent the month of January discussing how to detoxify your life and the importance of doing so. The first week was all switching to real food, the second about detoxing your home with green and natural cleaning, the third about how to clean up your body by using natural beauty products, and this week it’s all about how to use natural remedies to fight common ailments.

How to Detoxify Your Medicine Cabinet

This week we are talking all about how to remove toxins from your medicine cabinet.

Here is an excerpt from chapter 4 of “31 Days to Detoxify Your Life“:

“There used to be a time, not too long ago, when people knew how to treat common maladies without taking a drug. In fact, using drugs may relieve symptoms, but in most cases they inhibit normal body function and cause other health issues. This is called a “side effect” and every drug has at least one. The good news is that humans and plants have been living on this world with each other since the beginning and we have learned to use the bounty the natural world provides to help treat common problems like coughs, colds and flu, indigestion, stress and sleep issues, skin problems and much more. By using natural remedies for “little things” and reducing our toxic load, we prepare our body to respond well to the drugs the doctor prescribes when we have a real problem, like a bad infection, broken bone, surgery or other major medical issue.

According to the CDC, drug overdose rates have more than tripled since 1990. According to the FDA, Acetaminophen (Tylenol), a medication that has been commonly thought to be safe, was the acute cause of liver failure in the United States causing 48% of liver failure cases from 1998-2003. 62 million death certificates are issued a year, almost a quarter million of those occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors. Almost twice that number was deaths of people who used medications as prescribed by the doctor. Every time a person takes a medication they face the risk of a side effect ranging anywhere from constipation to death, depending on the medication.

According to Dr. Mercola –

Now let’s be reasonable, at some point in every person’s life they are going to have some sort of medical event that requires medical intervention, including, but not limited to prescription medications. Many lives have been saved by these drugs, and when taken with full knowledge on the patient’s part, and disclosure on the health care provider’s part, can be a wonderful thing, especially for acute situations. By no means are we telling you to quit taking any medications (as we mentioned before we are not doctors, and this is not medical advice), but we are encouraging you to take control of your health and research the medications AND natural remedies you are taking for safety, effectiveness, contraindications, and interactions.

Homemade Natural Cough Syrup
This is a powerful cough syrup that eases coughs and throats and provides a huge boost to the immune system. Click on the picture for the recipe!

What recipes will you find in Chapter 4?

  • 10 Herbs Every Home Should Have and Their Uses
  • Basic Herbal Safety Information
  • Nourishing Herbal Infusions
  • Herbal Infusions for Children
  • Support the Immune System Naturally
  • Soothing Onion Syrup
  • Soothing Cough-Control Tea
  • Cold-Kicker Honey
  • Elderberry Syrup
  • 20 Natural Allergy Treatments
  • Chest Rub
  • Fire Cider
  • Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux
  • Candied Ginger
  • Soothing Oatmeal Bath
  • Basic Dry Skin Remedies
  • Sun Burn Remedies
  • … And so much more!

Are you ready to join us and detoxify YOUR life today?

Week 4 Giveaway

We are proud to offer another amazing giveaway this week!

Natural Herbal Living Magazine and Herb Box Review

I am giving away an Elder Magazine and Herb Box from Natural Herbal Living! You can get all the details for this amazing box and read my review here. <–Giveaway hint, leave a comment!

Natural Living Mamma is giving away a copy of Studio Botanica’s e-book Cold + Flu Season ~ Are YOU Ready? You can find Amanda’s review here <–Giveaway hint, leave a comment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to see all of my homeopathic remedies that I use for me and my family!

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Natural Herbal Living Magazine and Herb Box Review

Natural Herbal Living Magazine and Herb Box Review

Allow me to introduce you to Natural Herbal Living, with their delightful herb box and very informative monthly magazine! Natural Herbal Living Magazine and Herb Box Review Switching from commercial beauty and medicinal products to herbal ones can be overwhelming when you know little to nothing about herbs, essential oils, carrier oils, and other natural ingredients that are needed to make these products at home. Plus, the ingredients can be very hard to find, especially high quality ones. That’s where Natural Herbal Living can help! They offer a monthly e-zine (online magazine) and herb box to help you make your own products at home – taking the stress and time out of buying your own individual ingredients.

Natural Herbal Living Herb Box - what's inside

Natural Herbal Living - Rose CoverEach month they feature a different herb and include the ingredients and containers you can use to make different products with that featured herb. For instance, the box and magazine I received was all about the rose flower. It contained:

  • Rose Tea – dried red rose petals
  • Autumn Tonic Tea – nettle leaf, spearmint, lemon balm, mullein leaf, dandelion leaf and root, red clover, rose hips, and ginger root
  • Rose Facial Lotion – oil blend of sunflower and rose hip seed oils, beeswax pastilles and mango butter, dried rose petals, and a glass jar
  • Wild Rose Flower Essence – it came already made with a full description in the magazine on dosage and how it helps with happiness and enjoyment.
  • Instructions to create your own flower essence dosage bottle, bottle included
  • An essential oil dilution chart

Dedication to High Quality Ingredients

I love this description about the ingredients they source for the herb boxes:

We are very aware of the environmental and ecological impact of everything we purchase in the herb box. All of our ingredients will be responsibly sourced, and we strive to find organic ingredients whenever possible. If the herbs are not certified organic they will be ethically wildcrafted.

I can attest to that quality – the dried rose petals make the most calming, soothing tea and smell ever so sweetly of pure roses. I can’t wait to use the generous amount they provided to make more things, like rose petal infused oil for lotions, oil for my hair and cleaning my face! Natural Herbal Living Magazine I was very impressed with the information provided in the magazine – it is easy to read and straightforward, yet still very descriptive and informative. It also includes a page that profiles the herb of the month with interesting facts like this one: “Rose hips have the highest level of Vitamin C than any other native plant in North America. The high Vitamin C content also means it is full of antioxidants which make it a wonderful health tonic and why it is so coveted for skin care applications.”

Monthly Subscription

I think their monthly subscription service is very reasonable – you can buy just one month to start, then if you like it (which I’m sure you will!), you can buy six months or a year’s subscription at a discount. Check out their prices here. As one who loves to make my own beauty and homeopathic products at home, I know I would learn so much more about herbs and their powers from Natural Herbal Living to be able to make even more effective things for my family.

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How to Detox Your Body and Home and Why It Helps

How to Detox Your Body and Home (and why it helps)

The whole concept of detoxification was a completely foreign one to me until I started living naturally and eating real food. I never understood or even cared what it was about and now incorporate detox strategies into my daily routine as I find it improves my digestion, helps my mood, increases my energy, and relaxes me all at the same time!

How to Detox Your Body and Home (and why it helps)

A great time to start detoxing is right after the holidays when the stress of staying with family (no just kidding – no one feels stressed with their in-laws!) and consumption of foods loaded with sugar and white flour start to take their toll on your stomach, intestines, immune system, mood and more.

The Dangers of Corticosteroid Creams for Eczema

What is the point? We are bombarded with unnatural chemicals in food, beauty products, cleaning supplies, furniture, mattresses, carpet, paint and the list goes on. Unless you live in a cave in the middle of Montana, it is impossible to not come in contact with harmful chemicals. However, all hope is not lost as there are ways to boost our body’s defense system. Our immune system starts in our guts, where the intestines filter out the chemicals and toxins that we eat (like preservatives and sweeteners) and come into contact with (think lotions, shampoos, perfume, makeup, laundry detergent, air fresheners, etc.). Our bodies can efficiently filter out a few things nasty things here and there by keeping them from getting into our bloodstream. But an overload of toxic food and chemicals and our guts cannot protect us from their harm. The chemicals enter the bloodstream and the body attacks the foreign substances, causing inflammation and all manner of autoimmune diseases like anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and even Autism (source – (affiliate link) Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Campbell-McBride).

Thankfully, detoxing isn’t terribly difficult or expensive and doesn’t require special machines!

Homemade Green Household Cleaners with Free Printables
Make your own cleaning supplies – it’s super easy!

Ways to Detox Your Home

All Natural Cleaning Supplies

Switch to all-natural cleaning supplies. Store-bought cleaners are LOADED with toxic chemicals, many that attack the endocrine system. Making your own at home is not only super easy, it’s cheaper, too! I have tons of recipes here on the blog to get you started:

Natural Laundry Scent and Fragrance - Alternatives to Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets

All Natural Laundry Cleaning

Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and fabric softener are other big offenders in the toxic department. But I have recipes to switch to all-natural versions!

Ditch the Air Fresheners

They irritate the lungs and exacerbate asthma. Febreze is one of the most toxic substances on the market, according to the EWG (Environmental Working Group). Thankfully, it’s really easy to make your own with essential oils!

Ways to Detox Your Body

My Merry Messy Life: Homemade All-Natural Bath Salts for Romance

From the Inside-Out

Here are some of my favorite ways to both detox and relax at the end of the day – all of these pull toxins from your gut and get them out of the body. They really help me with digestion, reducing eczema, improving my mood and more! (Some affiliate links are provided for your convenience.)

  • Long soaks in the tub with Epsom Salts (see my recipe here) – 2 cups or more of salts and soak for 20 minutes or more.
  • Detox herbal tea – I make a cup of this tea and put in a teaspoon or more of grassfed gelatin, due to its healing properties
  • Diluted apple cider vinegar – I have an entire post about the amazing properties of apple cider vinegar. I dilute one tablespoon in 8 ounces of water and drink once a day or more to boost my immune system and help with digestion.
  • Probiotics – In my post on how I deal with eczema with some natural remedies, I talk about how I take probiotics. The conventional medical community has finally caught up with the alternative medical community to agree that probiotics are one of the keys to health! My favorite one is from BioKult Probiotics.
  • Oil Pulling – swish a spoonful of coconut oil in your mouth for 5 to 20 minutes a day to pull out toxins. I’ve been doing this for a short amount of time so I cannot speak to its benefits yet, but there are many posts out there on the subject!
  • Yoga – I cannot sing the praises of yoga enough! I am crazy about it and am always amazed at how good it makes me feel. Best of all, many of the poses are designed to flush out the organs and detoxify (like all of the twisting poses).
  • Sweat it Out – I love to go to the sauna at my gym to sweat out the toxins. I feel so incredibly relaxed and I’ve even noticed it improves my eczema if I have an outbreak! High-intensity exercise can also be beneficial to sweat out the toxins in your body.
  • Massage – Now you have another excuse to get a massage! It releases toxins from your entire system – muscles, lymph nodes, blood, and organs.
  • Juicing – This is an excellent way to get all the nutrition from fruit and vegetables without your body having to work hard to digest it. More posts on juicing coming soon!
  • Eat Real Food – Vegetables are the healthiest things to eat. Stay away from nitrates, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and food grown with pesticides (get organic instead when possible). I’m an ingredient nazi and try to avoid buying anything that has ingredients that aren’t real.

All Natural Beauty Regimen

From the Outside-In

 

31 Days to Detoxify Your LifeGet all of this information and more in my new eBook, 31 Days to Detoxify Your Life! I’ve partnered with 10 other bloggers to bring you a 200-page book with over 120 recipes to detoxify your body, home, medicine cabinet and food. Amazing! It would take many hours to locate these recipes, pin them, read them, organize them…This way, you can have it all in one spot!

 

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

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DIY Miracle Oil for Poison Ivy, Insect Bites, Cuts, Eczema and Acne

DIY Miracle Oil to - An All Natural Remedy for Eczema, Dry Skin, Poison Ivy, Insect Bites, Scrapes and more!

Here is a homemade version of Miracle Oil, a powerful combination of oils that works to relieve dry skin related to eczema and psoriasis, soothe poison ivy, heal cuts, acne, insect bites and more! I’ve also included other things I use on my skin when it’s dry or when I have eczema.

DIY Miracle Oil - An All Natural Remedy for Eczema, Dry Skin, Poison Ivy, Insect Bites, Scrapes and more!

We found out just how much poison ivy grows in the woods behind our new house this summer when our four-year-old, Gabriel, ended up covered in it – and I mean covered head to toe. He was miserable. I was desperate for some natural solutions and came across this magical little bottle called (affiliate link) Miracle Oil. A lady at my local health foods store recommended it as it had healed her daughter’s eczema and it had also worked on poison ivy. My son was scratching his skin raw, and he was miserable. I tried many other natural things for him like diluted apple cider vinegar, witch hazel and bentonite clay, but all of them burned his raw skin and he would barely let me touch him. But this Miracle Oil? He actually requested it and still does to this day when he gets any kind of itch, dry skin, or patch of eczema. The oil works to soothe the itch and the essential oils help speed the healing.

I had a very bad case of perioral dermatitis (a rash on the face brought on by an addiction to corticosteroid cream – read my story here) this summer and it really helped to both moisturize the rash and dry it up. I’ve since used it when I accidentally come across gluten and get an eczema outbreak on my hands (read about natural remedies for eczema here) and it works very well to heal up the outbreak.

 

DIY Miracle Oil – Recipe

Yield: 1 ounce

This section contains affiliate links to Amazon at no cost to you and for your convenience. These are the actual products I purchased and used myself.

  • One glass (not plastic, essential oils destroy plastic) medicine dropper bottle medicine dropper bottle (or dram)
  • 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons (or 1.5 ounces if you don’t have aloe vera) of Jojoba Oil (I chose jojoba because it most closely resembles the sebum of skin, so it is quickly and easily absorbed)
  • .5 ounces (or 1 tablespoon) of pure aloe vera gel (or just the jojoba)
  • Essential Oils: 40 drops of any of the following (all are good for healing the skin): Lavender, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Carrot Seed, and Frankincense

Mix all ingredients in your dropper bottle and swish or gently shake to combine. Store in a cool, dry place away from the sun, like a cabinet.

I suggest you test it first on an adult before trying on a large area of skin or on your child to make sure they do not have a reaction and also to make sure it isn’t too strong for raw skin. If it is too strong, pour it into a bowl and add another tablespoon of jojoba oil to dilute it, then pour it back into your bottle.

Use Your Miracle Oil For:

  • Very dry skin (like eczema)
  • Cracked, dry heels
  • Insect bites (especially ones that itch)
  • Poison Ivy
  • Perioral Dermatitis
  • Acne and pimples (just put a drop on each)
  • Dry cuticles and nails
  • Red bumps from waxing and shaving irritation
  • Sunburn
  • Stretch marks
  • Piercings
  • Tattoos

Pure Sheep's Lanolin for Non-Toxic Eczema Relief

More Dry Skin Relief – Lanolin, Wear Gloves, Homemade Lotion & Salve

I am tweaking my diet to try and get rid of the eczema I seem to always have on my hands, so in the meantime, I use lanolin like the one pictured all over my hands at night. It’s sticky stuff, so wear cotton gloves I got at the drugstore. When my skin is really bad and cracked, I will put the Miracle Oil on first, then lanolin later and wear bandaids at night. Eczema is not fun, but these two are my go-to methods that make a big difference.

I also wear rubber gloves whenever I do any kind of washing – like the dishes, wiping off countertops, and cleaning the bathrooms.

Check out my homemade organic lotion recipe which I LOVE for my dry skin and this dry skin salve recipe by Natural Living Mamma.

Be sure to read my other posts related to eczema:

 

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Natural Relief and Remedies for Eczema and Dry Skin

Natural Relief for Eczema and Dry Skin and DIY Miracle Oil

Dealing with eczema and other chronic conditions of the skin such as psoriasis is not easy – it sometimes takes trial and error for you to discover your own personal trigger. Here is what has worked for me and many others and how I’ve changed my diet and lifestyle to lessen the effects of eczema and dry skin for me and my family.
Natural Relief for Eczema and Dry Skin via My Merry Messy LIfe If you missed my last post, My Battle with Eczema, Perioral Dermatitis and Corticosteroid Cream, I share my experience going off my skin’s addiction to steroid cream and how eczema and other skin conditions are really an internal, diet problem – not external. Here’s what I’ve done with a lot of success!

Go Gluten-Free

Yep, it’s not just a fad. It has been the number one thing I’ve done that works the most. Notice, I write “the most” but doesn’t work completely. When I accidentally get gluten in my system, I get a severe outbreak on my fingers that is painful, burns, and itches like I’ve got poison ivy. I don’t even miss the wheat because I know what will happen to me if I cheat – it’s just not worth it! But I do still get outbreaks because there is something else in my diet that is causing inflammation (I think it’s other grains like rice, sugar and dairy). I’m figuring that out right now on the intro diet of the GAPS protocol. Ever heard of that? I explain more in the next section.

I’ve learned how to cook, bake, eat differently and created new habits with new go-to snacks to make it easy. After just a month of going off of gluten, it had become easy! If you are also struggling with what to cook, check out my Gluten-Free Cooking board on Pinterest. I’m currently writing another post where I share how I went gluten free soon!

Reduce or Eliminate Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol, and Dairy

Yeah, I know, that’s not easy. Sugar? I LOVE SUGAR. Wheat? My favorite food was always cookes. My vice is a few squares of Lindt chocolate bars every night with a glass of sweet or red wine. Helps me unwind after being so wound up chasing three little urchins around all day. But, now that my body has detoxed some (with the help of a very good, therapeutic grade probiotic (buy here)), I get stomach aches, gas and bloating when I ingest more than just a little sugar and alcohol. Not much of a vice when it’s accompanied with a stomach ache. I’ve had problems with dairy my whole life and have never really liked cow’s milk, so I simply switched to almond milk and have seemed to handle it well. If you want more dietary information, check out the book (affiliate link), Gut and Psychology Syndrome (referred to as, GAPS), all about how the foods we eat affect our guts (intestines) and how that influences our entire health. I’m also loving this cookbook that pairs nicely with the book, Nourishing Traditions.

All Natural Foaming Hand Soap Recipe - Non-Toxic

Use A Mild, Sulfate-Free Soap

Sulfates are synthetic detergents that abound in our shampoos, dishwashing and laundry detergents, body wash, bar soap and even toothpaste. But they are not a real soap – they work to strip your skin’s top layer of sebum to clean and leave the skin very dry. Instead, use a real soap like castile soap, a very gentle, olive-oil based soap that binds to dirt but does not strip your skin of sebum. My favorite brand is Dr. Bronner’s (buy here) – they are a super-duper, hippy, earth loving company. I am so accustomed to using my homemade hand soap (recipe here) that when I use soap at other peoples’ homes or out in public, my hands feel so dry and it exacerbates my eczema. If you’d like more information on sulfates, read my post – DIY Baking Soda Shampoo and Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner.

Here are my sulfate-free recipes:

Homemade Organic Lotion and Body Butter

Use All-Natural Lotion and Sunscreen

Most store-bought lotions (except the ones that are explicitly natural) are loaded with fragrances and added chemicals that can irritate eczema and sensitive skin. I much prefer to make my own lotion as it is so nourishing to the skin with shea butter, almond oil and coconut oil. It does wonders for me as I frequently wash my hands after changing poopy diapers, wiping off boogers and dirt, and before preparing food. Get the free recipe here!

I also make my own sunscreen for the same reasons. Click here for my free sunscreen recipe!

Use Anti-Inflammatory Supplements like Fish Oil and Probiotics

Inflammation of the gut and body are what lead to chronic diseases and conditions like eczema, so it can be very helpful to take supplements that help reduce inflammation. I take 4,800 mg of fish oil a day (mercury and gluten free) and it really helped me recover from a bad case of perioral dermatitis. But a good, probiotic (buy here) has helped me even more. I noticed a big difference in my energy level, eczema and even mood when I started taking probiotics. Of course, supplements alone will not help if your diet leads to inflammation. A proper diet for your needs is crucial!

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

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My Battle with Eczema, Perioral Dermatitis, and Corticosteroid Cream

Do you struggle with eczema or perioral dermatitis but do not want to use corticosteroid creams to relieve the itching and burning? Then you’ve come to the right place – here’s how I relieve my eczema symptoms naturally and safely.

My Battle With Eczema, Perioral Dermatitis and the Dangers of Corticosteroid Cream

Steroid Cream Was My Little Magical Tube

I have struggled with eczema since I was a teenager and used to always rely on corticosteroid cream like Elocon. It was like my little magic in a tube that I even carried in my purse to nix the outbreaks that I always got on my hands, wrists, neck, elbows and knees. I applied it liberally and whenever necessary, over and over for the past 18 years or more. When I was pregnant with my second child, I started getting what looked like eczema around my eyes and mouth and under my nose. I whipped out my magic little tube and creamed them all (for 9 months straight, makes me shudder now to know I was doing that while pregnant!). It kept the rash at bay, and then went away after my son was born. But during my third pregnancy, the face rash came back with a vengeance. I was applying the cream like my life depended on it, with the expectation it would disappear again after the baby was born.

But it didn’t. And I forgot my tube at the hospital when I was giving birth, so the rash flared up and I looked like I had poison ivy all around my eyes, nose and mouth. I was embarrassed, itching, burning and couldn’t wait to get home and get my magic cream. Once home, the rash calmed down but wouldn’t go away this time like it had before.

My dad had discovered he was gluten intolerant a year before this (with the advice from his eye doctor, of all people) and ate a gluten-free diet which kept his eczema away. So, I set my mind to going gluten-free just a few weeks after my third baby was born. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I wanted to end my battle with eczema once and for all.

My Battle With Eczema and Some Natural, Non-Toxic Relief
One I went off the steroid cream, my hands looked like this.

My Skin Was Addicted to Steroids

So I went gluten-free, but it didn’t occur to me to stop using the cream. Lack of sleep, I guess, so I continued using it until I realized I was still using it and my eczema hadn’t cleared up. I stopped using the cream to see just how bad my eczema actually was and my face EXPLODED in the worst rash I have ever seen on a person. At one point, one of my eyes was almost swollen shut and I didn’t want to leave the house because it looked so bad. I literally looked like I’d been burned or got injured in a chemical explosion (okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s certainly how I felt).

Perioral Dermatitis - Withdrawals from Corticosteroid Cream
This is just a few days after going off the cream cold turkey – little did I know this was just the beginning of the withdrawal symptoms.

Like many, I turned to Google for answers and found many people had relief with apple cider vinegar (fantastic! I already love that stuff), oils like jojoba and coconut, essential oils like lavender, tea tree and rosemary, removing all toxic chemicals from their beauty regimen, and diet changes like removing gluten, alcohol and sugar. Wow. I had already removed all chemicals like SLS (sodium laureth sulfate), so at least that was done. So, I started using honey, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar on my raw skin and changed my toothpaste (SLS is in that, too). But my skin was still detoxing, so the rash got even worse.

I went to my dermatologist in desperation the worst day, which was about a week after going cold turkey, and even they were shocked. The doctor told me my skin had been addicted to the steroids since I overused it and now it was going through withdrawals. He said I had two options – antibiotics (even though it’s not a bacterial problem), going back on the cream and gradually easing off of over the course of a month, or wait it out. I was still nursing, so strong antibiotics were out (plus, I didn’t want them anyway). The kicker, according to him, to wait it out, was that it could take up to six months. SIX MONTHS of living like a hermit from embarrassment? I ignored his advice and turned back to Google for help (I now have a naturopath and wish I would’ve then because he could’ve helped me!).

About 5 days after going off the cream, and it still got much, much worse with blisters and my eyes were almost swollen shut.
About 5 days after going off the cream, and it still got much, much worse with blisters and my eyes were almost swollen shut.

Perioral Dermatitis

I found several websites dedicated to warning people about the dangerous side effects of steroid creams, and their experiences were way worse than mine. Some had the rash for a year or MORE after going off the cream. I guess I was one of the lucky ones because my withdrawal symptoms were gone after about six weeks.

My mom and I found a ton of information on dealing with it naturally, a lot of it coming from earthclinic.com. She wrote up a summary for me from a ton of different sites (she used to be an R.N. so she was VERY helpful) and I set out to clear up my skin. Here’s the all-natural regimen I used: (includes affiliate links to Amazon for your convenience):

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: I applied raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (where to buy) with a cotton ball three times a day. It was diluted by about half, and I increased the dilution as the rash started to dry up and clear up. This was by far the most effective method for me – it really dried up the rash but did burn.
  • Miracle Oil: I bought a bottle of Miracle Oil (where to buy) from my neighborhood health foods store that has a combo of tea tree and lavender essential oils with jojoba and hemp seed oils to create a potent little concoction that eases eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, cuts and scrapes and more! I applied it after the apple cider vinegar for relief, but sometimes even it was too strong for my raw skin.
  • Jojoba Oil: When my skin was too raw for any of the above treatments, I used plain jojoba oil ( because it is easily absorbed into the skin and closely matches the sebum of skin. It was soothing and calmed the horrible itching that comes with perioral dermatitis. (where to buy)
  • Discontinued used of makeup and didn’t wash my face at all, not even with my oil cleansing method. I did wear makeup once for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary party, but it was non-toxic concealer I bought at my health food store.
  • Ate a gluten-free diet and also eliminated alcohol, dairy and limited sugar.

After three weeks, I could finally go out in public without embarrassment and I was doing much better. It was completely gone in about six weeks. This website was also helpful for me to learn about the condition – Zizia Dermatology.

The Dangers of Corticosteroid Creams for Eczema

Side Effects of Corticosteroid Creams

What I didn’t understand was the side effects of what I was taking – that by temporarily altering the function of the cells and tissues underneath the skin, corticosteroid cream can cause skin atrophy and even stretch marks where the skin breaks down. If used around the eyes, it can cause glaucoma and cataracts (YIKES!), and I was regularly using it around my eyes – DOUBLE YIKES!. And if overused and used on large parts of the body (both of which I have done before), it actually inhibits the body’s ability to produce cortisol, causing adrenal suppression. I shudder to think how often and for how many years I have used this toxic cream and the effects it’s had on my body. My hope is that my body is resilient and can heal itself. (Source – nationaleczema.org)

My one plea, one request is that dermatologists be very clear with their patients that this cream is NOT to be abused – it is powerful and dangerous and patients deserve to know. At least I can do my part to share my story, in the hopes that it will help someone else.

Going Gluten-Free Was Not Enough – Leaky Gut Syndrome and the GAPS Diet

I never knew just how bad my eczema was until I discontinued the cream. My hands are constantly covered in it, even on a gluten-free diet. Removing the gluten has helped to give me more energy and improve my mood, but I believe I might be battling a condition called “leaky gut syndrome” and am going on the Specific Carbohydrate and Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diets as outlined in the books, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle and “Gut and Psychology Syndrome.” I’m currently getting help from my naturopath to get some answers and to implement the diet. You basically go on an anti-inflammatory diet, removing all foods that can cause inflammation like gluten, dairy, some starches (like rice and potatoes), and sugar.

UPDATE – the GAPS diet is working! Going gluten-free was not enough for me as I did have leaky gut syndrome. I know, it sounds like I made it up, but Google it! I promise I didn’t. It’s where the lining of the gut is damaged and particles of undigested food and toxins leak out into the bloodstream, causing widespread inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of many ailments and diseases. I was very overwhelmed to start it, so I skipped the intro part and went to the full GAPS diet. Once I removed sugar and all grains from my diet (I was already almost dairy-free), my eczema started to clear up. Now I only get outbreaks on my hands when I cheat and eat something with sugar or grains. The only dairy I’m eating is that which is allowed on the diet – colby and cheddar cheese, but in small amounts. I drink a lot of coconut milk, too. Nuts also really bother me (even when they are soaked and fermented), which is an indication to me that my gut lining is still not healed and sealed, so I plan to start the intro diet in the next week or so. I wrote more about it in my post, How I Switched from Processed Food to Real Food and the GAPS Diet.

Just remember – eczema is an internal problem, not external! Creams can ease the discomfort and itching, but they will never cure. As I’m trying to figure out the right diet to cure my case, I do have a few go-to natural solutions to ease the itching, which I will share in the next post, part 2 – stay tuned!

Are you gluten intolerant and struggling with what to cook? Check out my Gluten and Grain-Free Cooking board on Pinterest!

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Homemade Natural Gripe Water for Colic in Babies

My Merry Messy Life: Homemade Gripe Water for Colic in Babies

Gripe water has always been one of my favorite go-to mama tricks for my babies and its surprisingly easy to make cheaper at home with no worries of high fructose corn syrup.

All Natural Homemade Gripe Water for Colic in BabiesWith three breast-fed babies who all had acid-reflux, gripe water has saved my sanity on many a day and long, long, long night. I went off dairy, onions, broccoli – you name it, and they would still get reflux. But once given the gripe water, I found that it would almost instantly soothe their stomachs, even in the middle of the night, and help them to stop crying or go back to sleep. It should be called a mama’s miracle instead!

But, once I started really reading labels, I found my go-to gripe water’s second ingredient, after water, was high fructose corn syrup. It’s not exactly something I want to be pumping down my newborn baby’s stomach, so I started reading about which herbs help to soothe colicky babies and upset tummies. Here’s what I found:

My Merry Messy Life: Homemade Gripe Water IngredientsSafety Note: As with anything you would give your baby to ingest, please check with your pediatrician first to be sure it’s something that is safe for your baby. I am not a doctor and I make no promises or medical claims. Herbal medicine has less side effects than chemical medicine, but it is still medicine and should be taken safely.

Fennel Seeds

Fennel is a perennial herb found in the Mediterranean that is commonly used as medicine to treat colic in babies. Though it hasn’t been proven with scientific research, the anecdotal evidence says that it helps to relax the colon to release trapped gas and decrease respiratory track secretions (source: WebMD). According to my new fav book, Natural Healing Wisdom and Know-How (where to buy), Fennel also helps to decrease obesity, water retention, urinary tract problems, indigestion, and colic and it even has hormonal properties that can increase a mother’s milk supply.

Ginger

Ginger, like peppermint, is more commonly used to treat indigestion because it contains chemicals that relieve nausea and inflammation (Source WebMD). Other uses include motion sickness, gas and diarrhea. I also use it in my homemade cough medicine and find it works very well.


Dill Weed

Dill is also used to treat water retention, obesity, and indigestion. Fun fact – Native Americans chewed on dill seeds to curb their appetites during long church services! (Also found in my new fav book). There are some chemicals in dill that are thought to relax muscles and increase urine like a water pill (source WebMD).

Chamomile

Chamomile is one of those herbs that can help with a multitude of ailments – from rashes to ulcers and menstrual pain, it also helps with indigestion, anxiety and insomnia – all of which are perfect for tiny people and their tummies.

This recipe is very flexible – other herbs/teas that would work well include catnip and peppermint. The two most important ingredients are fennel and ginger.

Homemade Gripe Water Tea
It’s helpful to have a small loose-leaf tea strainer for the fennel seeds.

How to Make the Tea/Gripe Water

With Tea Bags

Essentially, gripe water is just herbal tea and there are two ways I thought of to make it. The super easy way and the super duper easy way. The first one is just to buy (I like Traditional Medicinals herbal teas) ginger (where to buy), fennel (where to buy), chamomile (chamomile), and/or peppermint (peppermint) teas. Put them all in a mug, pour hot water over it and steep for at least five minutes. Then add 1 teaspoon of organic, raw sugar or stevia. Let it cool and refrigerate to store.

With Loose Herbs & Tea Bags

Fresh would be best, I suppose, but I’m a little too lazy and occupied with three under four to do that. So, I opted for loose, dried herbs and bags of tea (when I couldn’t find loose dry herbs) that I bought at the grocery store. I found Dill Weed (where to buy), Ginger (where to buy) and Fennel (where to buy) in the spice aisle, but it’s easier to find organic on Amazon. Then, I used bags of Lemon Ginger Tea (where to buy) and drank it a lot during pregnancy when I was nauseous) and Chamomile (where to buy) tea.


Just like in the picture below:

  • I put the tea bags in the mug and the loose herbs in the tea strainer (where to buy) and poured about 1 cup of hot water over all of it.
  • Steep for about 10 minutes or just until it starts to get more strong (and also potent, which is good).
  • If you find your’s is too strong and your baby doesn’t like it (cue really cute, squished up nose), then just add some water to dilute it.
  • Then, LET IT COOL! It’s common sense, but ya know, we all forsake common sense in moments of exhaustion with a screaming baby. So, if you need it fast, maybe throw an ice cube in it.
  • Add sweetener – You may find your baby will take it without sugar, but mine sure doesn’t like it. He does just fine when I add 1 tsp. of organic, raw cane sugar or coconut palm sugar.
  • DOSAGE – 1 teaspoon.
  • Refrigerate – to store and up to two weeks. HELPFUL TIP – I never use more than one cup of it in two weeks, so next time I make it I’ll put some in ice cube trays and freeze it. Then, thaw it under hot water when I need it.

Homemade Gripe Water Tea for Babies

You Could Also Use…

Essential oils! They work wonderfully to calm fussy babies and rowdy children. I’ve used it with a lot of success on my kids.

  • Dilute 2-3 drops Fennel, German Chamomile, Melissa, Dill or Marjoram in a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil (where to buy), sweet almond oil (where to buy) or even grape seed oil (where to buy)
  • Use topically by diluting 1-2 drops in 2 tablespoons carrier oil of choice, and massage a small amount gently on stomach and back
  • Can also diffuse lavender oil in an aromatherapy diffuser while the baby is sleeping to get the therapeutic benefits, or dilute and rub on the bottoms of the baby’s feet 2-4 times a day

Click here to buy the purest and most effective therapeutic grade oils I’ve ever used! Read my post on how to use essential oils for babies here!

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Homemade Gripe Water for Colic in Babies

A recipe for traditional gripe water to ease stomach upset and colic in babies. Could help a person of any age, though!

Scale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pour hot water over all ingredients and steep for about 10 minutes, or until it starts to get strong. If you want to make more, add 2 or 3 cups of water and steep for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (label your jar)
  3. DOSAGE – 1 teaspoon or 5 ml

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All Natural Cough Syrup with Echinacea, Licorice and Honey

Homemade Natural Cough Syrup

Make a powerful, immune-boosting cough syrup for a fraction of the cost of the natural ones you buy in the store with not a single gibberish-sounding ingredient in sight. And, if you’re not happy taking over-the-counter medicines that do little to relieve your cold and leave you wondering what the heck you just put into your system instead, this recipe is for you!

Homemade Natural Cough Syrup with Echinacea, Licorice and Honey

Battling the sniffles, a cough, colds and the flu is never fun – those viruses aren’t easily knocked out by over-the-counter medicines (that are full of all kinds of wacky junk) but I have had success over the years with herbal remedies like zinc and Vitamin C. Of course, rest, fluids and a healthy diet are not to be minimized as powerful natural remedies.

So I’ve been anxious all winter long to make my own herbal cough syrup to also help with a cough. For some reason, I picked the end of winter to start trying but am now glad I did. I actually couldn’t have picked better timing – it’s like someone knew I was whipping it up in my kitchen and then sprinkled cold virus dust all over my family just to prove to us it would work. And that it did – it worked to greatly reduce cold symptoms for me and my kids.

It Works!

I started the weekend feeling yucky – drained, stopped up, coughing and knew a nasty cold was coming. My oldest son felt the same. We’ve both been taking the syrup 2 to 3 times a day (2 tablespoons at a time) for several days and our symptoms are much improved. I did miss a dose yesterday and noticed I wasn’t feeling as well, so I took it again this morning and voila! My nose started clearing up and my energy started to return.

With this recipe, you’ll get the immune-boosting power of echinacea combined with the mucus-expectorant power of licorice.

Homemade Cough Syrup with Echinacea and Licorice Root from Mountain Rose Herbs

Echinacea Root 

Echinacea is a flowering plant with nine different species. It’s most popular common names are the purple cone flower and black-eyed Susan. It is the one of the most popular herbal products in the U.S. and has been used for centuries to boost the immune system and heal wounds, including by Native Americans. According to WebMD, “studies have shown that it increases the number of white blood cells and boosts the activity of other immune cells.” (more info)

Licorice Root

Licorice is a potent anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agent, making it perfect to battle the cold and flu. Did you know it is even effective to reduce swelling of cold sores and ulcers? (source) It’s also sweeter than sugar, so it adds nice flavor to this cough syrup.

Honey

Honey is antibacterial and packed with antioxidants  – if it is raw, unheated and organic. Heating honey turns it into pure sucrose (source). The darker the honey, the better as it contains more of those healing properties. Honey is added in this recipe as a cough suppressant, as it soothes and moisturizes the throat, and to aid in fighting off bacteria. And get this – honey has actually been proven in medical studies to be a BETTER cough suppressant than over-the-counter drugs:

In a study that involved 139 children, honey beat out dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant) and diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) in easing nighttime cough in children and improving their sleep. (source)

Pretty cool, eh? So, let’s make this stuff!

Homemade Cough Syrup - Simmer the Herbs and Sift


 

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Echinacea, Licorice and Honey All Natural Cough Syrup

A tasty and effective recipe for an all-natural cough syrup that actually works to boost the immune system and suppress a cough.

  • Author: Sara - My Merry Messy Life
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup echinacea root
  • 1/2 cup licorice root
  • 3/4 to 1 cup honey (raw, organic, local honey is best)
  • 4 cups distilled water
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced or finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Place the echinacea, licorice, cinnamon and ginger into a pot of 3 cups of distilled water.
  2. Heat water until boiling, then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes (the longer it simmers the more goodness you’ll get out of the herbs). Reduce the water by half.
  3. Sift out the herbs from the water by using a French press or cheese cloth.
  4. Pour into a jar and let it cool until warm.
  5. Add the honey and stir.
  6. Take 1-2 tablespoons 2-3 times a day at the first sign of a cold or flu and continue taking as needed.

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