alternative health, autoimmune diseases, environmental illness, herbalism, holistic health, nutrition, plant-based

Recovering from Environmental Illness: My Story

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I feel it’s time I share my journey in further detail, how I became so passionate about natural medicine and have found my purpose in helping others with plants.

This was the top of my head in 2014:

By this point, I was several years into my chronic illness and living in South Florida.  This picture was taken several nights before an important job interview, one that I arrived at wearing a wig in the dead of summer.  I remember this night so well.  I’d washed my hair, and in the middle of my shower, clumps of my locks fell into my hands and around my feet in long, tangled ropes, the way I’d imagine might happen to someone undergoing chemotherapy.  It had happened before in my illness, but nothing like this.  I took this picture after getting out of the shower and blow drying what was left of my hair.

At this time, I had already visited about fifteen doctors about my mysterious illness that began around 2010 and gradually escalated to over fifty symptoms.  In the end, I would visit over twenty doctors, be on seven different pharmaceutical medications to combat the symptoms, and inevitably, continue getting sicker and sicker.

This night, looking in the mirror, was proof that there was something seriously wrong.  This was the first time my symptoms were drastic enough to take on a physical identity that the entire world could see.  Prior to that, I had chronic illness that only I could relate to–a slew of symptoms that tore me apart inside but kept me pretty and packaged on the outside.  “You don’t look sick, ” I got from friends, family members and physicians who were trying to understand what I was going through.  Some days, I couldn’t peel myself off the couch.  Getting dressed was agony.  An outing with friends would have me paying for it in bed for three days of resting and recovery.

My symptoms included joint pain, chronic migraine headaches, hair loss, muscle aches, a metallic taste in my mouth, anxiety, extreme exhaustion, depression, brain fog, tinnitus, tightness in my throat, numb extremities, tingling, heart palpitations, chronic diarrhea, sudden food allergies, chemical sensitivities,  chronic cough, air hunger, chronic skin infections, sudden onset cystic acne, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to heat, mysterious rashes, the list went on.

I landed in the hospital in 2010 and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  Now, I had a diagnosis.  The doctors hung my symptoms like new clothes on hangers in their diagnosis closet.  Case closed.  Take this pill. You’ll be fine now.

But I wasn’t.

In spite of medications for my thyroid, symptoms continued to pile.  That summer, I started sprouting hair all over my body like a monkey.  Literally overnight, I had back hair, a beard, chest hair, and was morphing into an ape.  I visited my gynecologist in a panic.  “Sometimes, these things happen to women of your age,” he explained.  “Here, take these pills to regulate your hormones.”  I took them while asking, “But why all of a sudden? What might be causing this?”  He seemed unalarmed.  “These things just happen to women and their hormones, ” he explained.  But that didn’t sit well with me.

The ape-like hair growth subsided over time, but looking back now at my crazy symptoms, I understand that this was my body screaming at me, yelling, “Listen!  There is something very wrong here!”  My body continued to scream its strangely cryptic symptoms at me.

In 2015, I developed two MRSA infections on my face that again landed me in the emergency room.  Rounds of antibiotics were completely unresponsive.  At this point, I could barely tolerate any food–everything ran through me.  I had gone on a very restrictive diet and was working with an acupuncturist and nutritionist, but my mystery illness still presented itself.

It wasn’t until a routine mammogram in 2016, that I was able to connect the dots and uncover the root cause of my illness.

The mammogram came back “normal,” but a few weeks after the procedure, I developed extreme pain and an exacerbation of my systemic symptoms.  Ding! Ding! Ding!  It was coming from my breast implants.

We trust our doctors, the FDA, the manufacturers of our devices.  Of course there are risks, but never would I have thought that mold could grow inside of a breast implant that was only supposed to contain sterile saline solution.  It turned out I wasn’t the only woman poisoned by her breast implants.

One google search later, I uncovered thousands of women in a support group online who were also experiencing the same symptoms as me–some had silicone toxicity, some saline, others gel—it didn’t matter what medium, there were thousands of women with the same list of mysterious symptoms that also had breast implants.  These symptoms, overall, improved, after removal of their breast implants.

After having my breast implants removed, I had to spend two years detoxing my system.  My intolerance to external mold sources and extreme heat coupled by the absence of any medical professionals willing to help me with what now I had identified as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome caused by mold toxicity led me to selling my personal possessions and moving to Colorado, where I could have access to cannabis.  At this time, I was delving deeply in research regarding ways to support my toxic system and flush it naturally to once again achieve optimal health.  I knew it was possible.  Nature was my remedy.

In Colorado, I worked with a medical cannabis physician on specific ratios of cannabinoids that would help taper my inflammatory response and target the mold toxicity with such cannabinoids as CBD and high CBG.  A 3:1 ratio of CBD to THC worked for me during daytime and then the reverse ratio THC to CBD in the evening to promote rest and combat insomnia.  Healing is not a straight line upward, and those months felt like a roller coaster, but I noticed daily improvements, gains I could document and begin to see in my complexion, energy levels, hair growth (on my head), and overall well-being.

Nature healed me, providing me with a landscape of beauty that nourished me in a variety of ways.  I spent as much time as possible outdoors, enjoying mountain hikes, putting my bare feet in the streams, taking long bike adventures on the magnificent web of Colorado trails.  Nature wrapped itself around me and gave me hope; she promised me wellness with the changing seasons.  She gifted me with healing in every windy whisper.

Perhaps what took a great blow other than my physical health was my mental well-being, including my body image, dealing with multiple physical and emotional scars left behind from this medical trauma.  Anger brewed in me constantly–anger in our healthcare system from the doctors up to the FDA and our own government.  Once I plummeted down one rabbit hole, other began appearing, provoking me to keep jumping down intricate mazes of deceit and corruption.  Suddenly, the ground I stood on was slanted.  Reality–everything I had believed about healthcare, our food, our society, our world was something to question.

I’ve learned that grief requires a river-like movement toward acceptance. My time in Colorado, although physically healing, had me wading in situational grief and anger and feelings of helplessness that eventually moved me to discover my purpose and call to action.

Back in Florida, I miss the mountains, the healing hot springs, my endless mountain hikes deep in forest bathing with all those medicinal terpenes doing their magic.  When I feel the beginnings of aches and pains that coincide with rising inflammation now, I take off my shoes and walk on the beach, try to find an uninhabited corner of nature to share with the birds for a while, regroup, recharge, reaffirm the purpose of my journey.

Healing with plants is that purpose.  I believe my health struggles landed me in this current space of exploring nature as medicine and helping others to heal.  I’m grateful for not only my health but my experiences, which have brought me to an opportunity to give back, make a difference, and be part of changing our world for the better.

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alternative health, awakening, education, Uncategorized

Swear By All Flowers: A Look at Our Toxic Educational System

I grew up in the 80s with Ronald Reagan and the War on Drugs.  My English class was comprised of diagramming sentences taking spelling tests.  In math, I had pages and pages of algebraic equations as homework.  I dissected gerunds and memorized prepositions in alphabetical order:  aboard, about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by. . . This still clutters my brain with its mindless nonsense.

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I doodled on the corners of my notebooks, wrote poetry, hummed the Clementi Sonatina I was learning on the piano while my history teacher droned out a lecture about what he claimed was proven textbook fact.  After all, it was in the textbook, so it HAD to be fact.  I didn’t question anything then.  I chewed my Grape Ape gum quietly since I was breaking the law, kept my head down, turned in my assignments with my name and date written in the top right hand corner.

I took multiple choice tests and yearned to write.  I waited for that moment of opportunity to be creative, outside the box, to actually think beyond the walls of our classroom and make a difference.  But that opportunity in my standardized education never came.  Do your work, make sure your name is on it, be sure to turn it in on time, get the grade, move on.  That’s school.

When I became I teacher, I pushed against the system and sprinkled creativity into my curriculum.  My students wrote poetry in my English class.  We put on a Poetry Slam with their original work and explored edgy young adult fiction that made my students not only think beyond a textbook, but transformed them into lifelong readers.  They were thirsty for more, requesting authors just like that one, bringing books to show me before the morning bell even rang.  My class attendance was high.  Students didn’t miss an opportunity to be in the safe zone, to allow their creative flow to do just that, to be themselves.  Even gum chewing was allowed.

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Our current educational system has no room for teachers like me.  That’s why I left.  My books were raided from my classroom by administration.  My teaching practices were challenged.  I was eventually bullied out of the system and replaced by Common Core–because common is what is accepted in our society.  Common, not Creative, not Individual or Rare.  Common is a good thing in our current educational system.  It maintains order.  It keeps students “high performing” and in their seats.  It’s a measured construct.

I think of e.e. cumming’s poem where he says, “i swear by all flowers. . .”  In Common Core, there would be a multiple choice option of guessing the meaning of that phrase.  In an ideal world, though, our individuality would produce thousands of interpretations of those words.  e. e cummings, I’m certain, would want a thousand interpretations as diverse as the flowers he was swearing.  Can we truly take raw creativity and intelligence and cookie-cutter it into a system that churns out brilliance?  What exactly are we creating within the current constructs of our schools?  How are schools any different than the expectations of our behavior in society?

We are preparing our children to check the box, clock in and out, eat lunch quickly, take orders from others, spit out information, pass tests,  and be common to the core.  Common to the Core.  Think about that.  Common to the Core is easily manipulated, unaware, following the masses, against individuality, identity, mindfulness, and awakening.  Common to the Core is a controlling mechanism as dangerous as fluoride in our water, chemtrails in our skies, pesticides in our food, and chemicals in our healthcare.  It is another type of poisoning many of us haven’t uncovered yet.  It’s the demise of our free will, free thought, and our future.

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Swear by all flowers!  Start tomorrow.  Before you hit those “back to school” sales and plow through those teacher supply lists, think hard about what education truly is.  Shouldn’t it expand the mind?  Shouldn’t it allow for questioning?  Education and creativity MUST go together.  We need to explore our strengths as individuals in order to truly understand our purpose.  Purpose equals bliss.  Purpose is not a skill.  It’s not a mathematical equation and it’s not found at the end of the preposition.  Allow your children the ability to be creative, expressive, to question, to journey in order to find their purpose.  Then, provide them with the freedom to develop it.

And remember this, it’s never too late to swear by all flowers. . .find your purpose at any age.  Don’t just clock in and out of life and believe that this is it.  There’s always an opportunity to awaken and journey on another path.  But if you chew gum, be sure to read the ingredients.

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alternative health, autoimmune diseases, herbalism, holistic health, nutrition, plant-based, Uncategorized

How Full is Your Toxic Bucket?

Imagine your body is an empty bucket.  Now, begin adding to it.  Add toxic ingredients from foods such as synthetic food coloring, glyphosate, preservatives such as MSG.  Add sugars and artificial sugars.  Add air pollution, fluoride from our water, chemicals from cleaning products and makeup that absorb into our skin.  Add pharmaceutical medications and over the counter poisons, birth control pills, plastics, aluminum, mercury, hormones in meat and dairy. . .Keep adding because this is happening right now to your body!  How full is your toxic bucket?

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According to Environmental Working Group, a non profit organization, a newborn baby today has 287 known toxins in his or her umbilical cord blood.  Breast milk is now one of the most toxin-riddled food products in the world, because humans have now reached their maximum levels of toxicities.  Need proof?  Well, sick is the new norm, and most illnesses of today, if not all of them, are the result of environmental toxins.  These illnesses, by the way, are not GOING away.  They will only continue being prevalent in our world unless we wake up and change our current system.

When your body is full of toxins, it speaks to you in the form of symptoms.  Chronic toxicity may create fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, sinus infection, headaches, bloating, weight gain, digestive issues, insomnia, brain fog, food intolerances, skin disturbances, endocrine issues, and more.

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These toxins, over time, create chronic systemic inflammation, which leads to the slew of illnesses we are seeing in our society–Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease, Autoimmune Diseases, Autism, Mental Illness and more. . .

So, what can you do to reduce your toxic load and inflammation and in turn, lesson some of the toxic overload symptoms you are experiencing?  Here’s a starting point:

  1. Drink Clean Water:  Buy a sophisticated water filtering system and stop drinking out of plastic bottles.  You can buy a glass or metal drinking container for on-the-go sipping.  Stay away from tap water which is fluorinated.  Fluoride causes endocrine and central nervous system dysfunction and is considered a neurotoxin.  Research the Berkey Water Filter.

2.  Take a Probiotic:  Be sure that your digestive system is working properly and ridding your body of toxins effectively.  If you are constipated, this is a sure sign that you are holding toxins!  You can also increase your fiber intake to help your body eliminate toxins more effectively.

3. Exercise:  Moving helps the body eliminate toxins through sweat and the lymphatic system.  Shoot for 4-5 days a week of cardiovascular and strength training.  You can also incorporate the use of saunas to increase detoxification through sweating or helping your lymphatic system to drain by dry brushing.

4.  Read Labels:  Start being more mindful about what goes into your body.  Consider changing your deodorant to one that does not contain aluminum, research the personal care products you are using, try to stay as close to nature and away from chemicals as possible.

5. Eat cilantro and parsley:  Both of these herbs are excellent heavy metal chelators that naturally filter your system and remove toxins.  In fact, increasing all green, leafy vegetables in your diet will help remove toxins.

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WARNING:  Your Western Medicine doctor will not diagnose “toxic overload” as your health issue, but instead, will chase your symptoms with further poisonous and toxic pharmaceuticals that will continue to crowd your body of additional toxins and not allow you to heal.  Environmental toxicity and the pandemic symptoms of illness caused by our inflammatory response to these toxins is not taught in medical school, nor is it considered a disease or an issue.  Your doctor will not prescribe the above as a remedy to reducing systemic toxicity, so it is up to you to make changes to your diet and lifestyle in order to regain your health.

 

alternative health, autoimmune diseases, herbalism, holistic health, nutrition, plant-based

When Should I See an Herbalist?

If you’re a customer without a cure in our healthcare rat race, you might want to explore seeing an herbalist!  Our current healthcare system has become something that resembles a pill dispensary chasing symptoms instead of exploring the underlying root cause.  Maybe you’re reading this right now and nodding your head because you’ve already visited your primary care physician and after leaving his/her office fifteen minutes later (physicians generally spend 7-11 minutes with each patient, so consider yourself lucky for receiving that extra time), with a bag of side-effect-producing pills.  Physicians today rarely take the time to discuss the details of a nutrition-based approach to helping the body heal naturally as well as restorative exercise options, although diet and exercise are sometimes mentioned as being beneficial to a healthy protocol.

Herbalism has been a way of medicine for thousands of years; our current healthcare system involving synthetic pharmaceuticals has only been in practice for about 100 years.  When you meet with an herbalist, they will spend 1-2 hours with you, understanding your symptoms, medical history, and working toward uncovering the root cause of your illness.  It is a holistic approach, encompassing every area of your health and lifestyle, addressing your health from a nutritional and healing perspective.  A plan of care is created that includes nutritional changes and additions, herbal remedies in multiple forms (tinctures, salves, herbal capsules, etc.).  An herbalist will know the best approach to healing specific to YOU.  Herbalism is not a cookie-cutter approach to healing.

Change is coming.  We are slowly moving toward a more natural approach to addressing our current healthcare crisis.  For a country that spends the most on healthcare, we are the sickest nation!

Here are some shocking facts about our current healthcare system that just might blow your mind!  (USA Today, 2017)

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  • Guess how much the United States spent on healthcare in 2015?  If you guessed $3.2 trillion, you’re absolutely correct.
  • Pharmaceutical drug costs have grown over the years, up to $325 billion in 2015.
  • “According to the Commonwealth Fund, the United States ranked last in a study of 11 developed nations when it comes to the performance of our healthcare system.”
  • The CDC admits that at least 30% of prescribed antibiotics are completely unnecessary!  That’s 47 million excess prescriptions each year that are causing severe side effects and not contributing to a cure.
  • Misdiagnosis likely because of lack of time with each patient happens up to 44% of the time.

It might be time to see an herbalist if:

  1. You’ve already been to your primary care physician and specialist(s) but you’re not better.
  2. You are currently taking multiple medications to manage your symptoms.
  3. You have a chronic illness such as autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, etc.
  4. You are willing to make lifestyle changes in order to get better.
  5. You are open-minded in believing in natural ways to heal.
  6. You are experiencing side effects with your medications.
  7. You are tired of being a regular customer in the standard healthcare system
  8. Your health is affecting your quality of life.
  9. You know that your current lifestyle might be contributing to your declining health
  10. You’ve been told that there is “no cure” to your illness
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