My Detox Routine: Part 2 (Castor Oil Packs, Oil Pulling, Herbal Teas, Toxin Binders)

As a caveat to what lies ahead in this post: I am NOT a doctor, and the information presented here should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or naturopath before embarking on an intense detox regimen like the one presented below. Also, the products I recommend are products that I have used or am currently using with success, I am not being paid to recommend them (although, I wouldn’t object!).

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Welcome to the second portion of ‘My Detox Routine’; to read the first part, click here. Today I’ll be writing about some of my favorite detox therapies- herbal teas, castor oil packs, oil pulling, and toxin binders. Each of these therapies are fairly inexpensive and easy to implement, and I do hope you’ll try a few of them! Let’s jump in.

Herbal Teas

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There are lots of different teas on the market today that can aid in detoxing your organs. I am a big fan of sipping on tea throughout the day, whether it be cold or hot, but it’s important to be picky about which types of tea you choose to enjoy. Many brands of tea on the market today (even the fancy, super expensive loose-leaf teas) have been sprayed with chemicals, have added GMOs and/or food coloring, and even contain mold. To read more about the safety of the tea you choose, check out this article.

A few simple rules to live by when selecting your tea are: always choose organic, check the ingredient list, and don’t assume that it’s safe just because it’s expensive. I also recommend staying away from caffeine as much as possible, as caffeine can wear out your adrenals more quickly than just about anything else, including processed sugar.

All of this knowledge in hand, some of my favorite types of teas are:

Organic, Decaf Green Tea: enjoy hot or cold with fresh squeezed lemon and a drop or two of raw honey or stevia in the raw. My favorite brand is Allegro, found at Whole Foods.

Asparagus Extract Tea: it doesn’t taste as bad as it sounds and is packed with folic acid, making it an incredibly nutrient-dense option. I buy mine here on Amazon.

Fresh Cilantro, Parsley, or Basil Tea: as shown above, steep about one half bundle of herbs in hot water for about ten minutes. Strain and enjoy a wonderfully detoxifying and fresh tea. Warning: Cilantro is a powerful heavy metal chelator, and doctor/naturopath supervision is recommended.

Castor Oil Packs

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Castor oil is derived from the castor seed and has been used as a health remedy for various ailments for centuries. Although the safety of the internal use of castor oil is much debated, there are many positive effects of using castor oil topically. The castor oil pack is the most common, and arguably most beneficial, of all castor oil therapies.

There are many benefits of incorporating castor oil packs into your healing protocol, but perhaps the greatest is the effect on the immune system. When castor oil packs are used on the abdomen, they have been proven to increase your number of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the body’s disease-fighting cells and are mostly created and stored in the lymph tissues. As I mentioned in the first post of this series, your overall health is largely contingent on the health of your lymphatics, as this is the system that collects toxins and debris from all of the tissues in your body. The escalation of lymphocytes that castor oil produces allows your lymphatic system to be quite efficient at clearing toxins, which contributes to your overall ability to fight illness.

Castor oil packs have also been shown to have a positive effect on detoxifying the liver, an organ that is in near constant need of support in the toxin-riddled world we live in. Additionally, in my experience, castor oil packs have been helpful in calming rumbly intestines and stomach aches.

One word of caution is that castor oil should probably be tested on a small patch of skin prior to administering a large dose. It has been known to cause skin reactions in some individuals. Do not take castor oil internally unless instructed by your health care practitioner.

Now, let’s look at how to make and administer a castor oil pack.

Supplies:

– three sheets of organic cotton, cut into squares large enough to cover your abdomen (from the tip of your sternum to about 3 inches below your belly button)

– 1-2 Tbsp Castor Oil

– 1 piece of syran wrap large enough to cover the cotton

– heating pad

Method:

To create a castor oil pack, simply stack up your three pieces of cotton and drizzle castor oil as evenly as possible across the top layer of cotton. Place on your tummy, cover top layer with saran wrap, and place the heating pad directly on top. The heat will allow the oil to work through all three sheets of cotton and into your skin. Leave on your tummy for 10-30 minutes. Remove, throw away cotton sheets, wash your tummy, and you’re done!

Oil Pulling

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Oil pulling is useful for cutting through plaque, whitening teeth, and removing toxins not only from the mouth but also from the rest of the body. Although oil pulling has gained popularity in the past year or so, it is thought to have originated thousands of years ago in India. While oil pulling is an exceptional (and cheap) way to maintain oral health, it can also aid in detoxing the entire body by stimulating the lymphatics. Some oil pullers have seen improvements in liver conditions, skin conditions, arthritis, and headaches.

Supplies:

– 1-2 tsp of coconut oil or another healthy oil, such as: cold pressed sesame, olive, or avocado oil

Method:

Simply gather the oil in your mouth and swish for around 20 minutes. As you’re swishing, try pulling the oil in and out of your teeth, and really work those muscles. The swishing movement works to stimulate the lymphatics, allowing you to gather up more toxins into the oil.

When you’re finished swishing, simply spit out the oil into a paper cup or trash can, rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any excess bacteria, and give your teeth a good brushing with your choice of natural toothpaste.

Toxin Binders

If you are in poor health and plan on doing a lot of detoxing, as I have been, then it may be helpful to take some toxin binders to help bind the mobilized toxins so they can be excreted. In my opinion, this is one of the most important aspects of any detox routine, and in my experience, taking binders makes the process much more tolerable.

Some of my favorite binders are: Pecta Sol, Medi Clay, and Zeolite. Keep in mind that binders should be taken an hour before and after any other medications or supplements.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series where I’ll cover infrared sauna use and Biomat sessions.

Xx, K

Lemon & Lavender Salt Scrub

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For as long as I can remember I’ve had deep lines on my forehead. What can I say, I’m an animated personality. I was never worried about or bothered by them, but when I entered into my late twenties I started taking inventory of every grey hair (yes, I have a few, okay, more than a few) and wrinkle. To remedy my wrinkles I tried numerous fancy moisturizers and face washes, but never noticed much of a difference. When I decided to transition my personal care items to clean, toxin-free products, the fancy (read: expensive) skin care products were some of the first to go.

I’ve been using one version or another of this salt scrub recipe for about 8 months, and I can promise you that my skin is healthier than ever. Those deep forehead lines? Well they are quickly fading away. Perhaps what I love most about this salt scrub is that it cleanses, exfoliates, and moisturized the skin in one simple step. It can also be used all over the body to do the same- this would have been great to use during the long, cold winters that I spent in NYC.

One last thing- keep in mind that this recipe can be adjusted to fit your needs, and feel free to try different types of salts, oils, and scents to see which suits your skin best.

Lemon & Lavender Salt Scrub Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Sea Salt
3-4 Tbsp Coconut Oil
10-15 Drops Lemon Essential Oil (I use Young Living)
7-10 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped and ground with pestle and mortar

If you try a salt scrub recreation, I would love to hear about it, as I am always looking for exciting variations. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter (@KaylaMarieDenny), or simply leave a comment below.

Xx, K

My Detox Routine: Part 1 (Juicing, Detox Baths, Homeopathic Detox Drops, Dry Brushing)

As a caveat to what lies ahead in this post: I am NOT a doctor, and the information presented here should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or naturopath before embarking on an intense detox regimen like the one presented below. Also, the products I recommend are products that I have used or am currently using with success, I am not being paid to recommend them (although, I wouldn’t object!).

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There seems to be a lot of curiosity surrounding the topic of detoxing, and whether it’s something you object to or agree with, it’s become a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away. Prior to 2008, the concept of a ‘juice cleanse’ was all but nonexistent among the general public. Nowadays, there are juice bars, organic food, and complicated detox diets a’ plenty. What’s changed in the past few years?

Toxins, toxins everywhere. They’re in our air, water, food, cleaning supplies, beauty products, and even our laundry detergent. The human body has an incredible, innate ability to heal itself, but it simply doesn’t recognize or have the capacity to deal with the bombardment of toxins that it’s faced with everyday. When the body doesn’t recognize a particular substance, or if the liver is already stressed, the body’s response is to store the substance away in our cells, lungs, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, and deep tissue. Unfortunately, as toxins accumulate, they have the ability to lead to illnesses, such as autoimmune disease and cancer. For more information regarding the link between certain toxic substances and cancer, check out this article.

Our bodies simply were not built to detoxify themselves at the rate at which we are now exposed to toxins, and this is why it’s so important to lead a healthy lifestyle. For some individuals whose detox pathways may be inhibited by genetic factors (such as the MTHFR mutation), this may involve detoxing regularly.

Detoxing is particularly important in the life of a Lyme patient because as the Lyme bacteria live and reproduce in our bodies, they also emit neurotoxins. These neurotoxins are the main culprit in Lyme symptoms and cause quite a bit of inflammation and acidity on the cellular level. This cellular inflammation is what causes most of our symptoms and pain. Furthermore, the Lyme toxins combined with the everyday toxins that we’re exposed to in the modern world can easily combine to create a painful and sickly body.

For the past four months, I’ve been waist deep in detox sludge, employing a multitude of different therapies to release the stored toxins in my body. Some of the therapies that I’ve implemented include: juicing, detox baths, dry brushing, homeopathic detox drops, coffee enemas, biomat sessions, sauna sessions, oil pulling, castor oil packs, and drinking lots of herbal teas.

I do most all of these things every single day. It’s a full-time job that takes all of my will power and all of my energy on most days. The rest of this post is dedicated to expanding on the use of juicing, detox baths, dry brushing, and homeopathic detox drops. In future posts I will follow up to discuss the other therapies mentioned.

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(This is a super scientific diagram showing the direction in which to dry brush)

Dry brushing:

Dry brushing is used primarily to stimulate the lymphatics. The lymph system is part of the circulatory system and is known as the body’s ‘drainage system’. Made up of an extensive network of lymph nodes and vessels, the lymph system serves to clean cells and clear debris from all over the body. Keeping the lymph system in good working order is an important part of health and should be considered an essential component of any intensive detox protocol. For a comprehensive overview of the lymph system, check out this article.

It is important to know that the lymphatics do not flow on their own, instead they need to be stimulated in some way to produce motion. Dry brushing, as well as other therapies such as sauna, detox baths, deep breathing, and exercise all help to stimulate movement of the lymphatics. A few added benefits of dry brushing are: increased circulation, dead skin removal, skin tightening, cellulite reduction, and super soft skin (even your baby will be jealous).

For best results, do your dry brushing twice per day or before taking a shower or bath. With a soft bristle brush, start at your feet, and in short strokes brush upwards towards your heart. Work your way up your body until you have brushed your legs, tummy, arms, and chest. Just remember that you want to brush in the direction that your lymphs flow (they’re a one way street), and you always want to brush towards your heart. Brushing can be done from 2-20 minutes, I usually spend about 10 minutes brushing while I run my bath.

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(This is exactly what I look like while taking a detox bath)

Detox baths:

Detox baths are one of the best ways to clear toxins quickly through the skin (the second largest organ, after the intestines). Another great aspect of these baths is their ability to reduce muscle aches and pains. In addition, as your body temperature rises in the hot bath, your body is able to kill off unwanted bacteria and viruses (for Lyme patients, this means that Lyme and co-infections are being killed in the process, which is great news!).

A number of different products can be used to create a healing detox bath. Some of my favorites are: Epsom salt, sea salt, bentonite clay, mustard seed bath, hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda. The key to a super detoxifying bath is using water as hot as you can stand and several cups of product (I use around 6 cups in each bath).

Warning: If you’re very ill, you will most likely feel drained after taking a bath. I cannot stress this enough- GO SLOW. If you aren’t used to taking baths like these, make sure to start at a cooler water temperature, don’t use as much product, and don’t stay in for as long. When I first started these baths, I used 2 cups Epsom salt, medium hot water, and soaked for about 20 minutes.

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Homeopathic Drops:

These magic drops help to naturally stimulate detoxification in the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, and lymphatic system. Both the Pekana Trio and Heel Detox Kit are great options. If you’re super sensitive or super sick, I recommend starting with the Pekana Trio, as it’s a bit more gentle on the system.

The normal dose for a healthy individual is 30 drops per day. When I started on these drops, I was so toxic that I had a hard time taking one drop per day. Therefore, I started at one drop per day and then gradually increased my dose as I could tolerate. I would advise starting slowly and gradually increasing once you know your comfort level.

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Juicing:

Most people are probably aware of the benefits of juicing, but for good measure, I’ll list a few anyway. Juice delivers highly concentrated vitamins, minerals and enzymes rapidly into the bloodstream, where the nutrients are quickly absorbed. It also allows you to consume a higher quantity and a wider variety of vegetables each day, as opposed to eating them whole. When juiced, many vegetables and some fruits such as leafy greens, beets, and green apples have the wonderful effect of cleansing the liver, kidneys, and blood, which aids tremendously in detoxification.

It’s best to consume juice quickly, or at least on the same day that it was juiced, because that’s when it’s nutrient value is the highest. However, if you store your juice in an air tight container, it can still be consumed for a few days after it was made. Juice fasts have become incredibly popular these days, but I believe that incorporating juice into your daily life is more beneficial than fasting a few times a year, especially if you’re sick and require more protein, like I do.

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If you suffer from a chronic illness, detoxing to this extent may seem like a daunting task, and believe me, I completely understand! The detox process can be an intense one and can leave you with some undesirable side effects, such as: dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headache, skin rashes, and intestinal disruptions. It is for this reason that I strongly suggest being under a trained practitioner’s care while embarking on such a protocol. If you are in need of someone to help you oversee the detox process, please email me, and I can give you the name of my doctor as well as a few others who offer guidance via phone consultations.

Remember that the journey to attaining wellness is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Go slow, and set reasonable goals. Be gentle with yourself. Pray often, love much, and keep your head up because wellness is coming for you.

Any questions? Feel free to shoot me an email at kayla.denny@gmail.com.

Xx, K

Quick Update & The Lyme Diaries: Leah’s Story

After the month of May, I decided to take a few weeks of respite from all things Lyme. I stopped reading books or articles about how to heal Lyme, which is something I regularly do to stay on top of my healing game. I even stopped googling random questions, like, ‘why does a full moon exacerbate lyme symptoms?’. My little Lyme ‘holiday’ also involved stepping back from blogging, which admittedly happened more by necessity than by conscious decision.

The truth is, I’ve been much too busy with my intense detox routine to have much time or energy for anything else. I spend hours each day preparing for and taking my two detox baths so that I can sweat my face off and potentially faint in the water. I’ve also added a new little friend, the coffee enema, which I will go into greater depth about in another post. And of course there are biomat sessions, healthy meals and snacks, and gobs of supplements, tinctures, and minerals in between.

Let’s just say that my new routine has me worn out, and the creative juices don’t flow so well when you’ve face planted into the sofa. I will say, however, that what I’ve been doing seems to be working, and even though it’s taken time to see even a tiny bit of progress, I am feeling encouraged and can feel the fog lifting. I am thankful and am praying that this upward swing continues.

Today, I am honored to have the opportunity to share another Lyme lady’s story. You can read Leah’s story below, and I think you will be inspired by her attitude. I also thought this a good time to remind everyone to take the necessary precautions against tick bites (scroll down a few posts to read about Lyme Disease prevention if you haven’t already), as the summer months are notoriously the most common for contracting Lyme.

Until next time,
K

First Name: Leah
Age: 21
Gender: Female
Where do you live? Madison, WI

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Leah (between her parents) with her immediate family

When/Where do you suspect that you contracted Lyme?

I never saw a tick bite, but growing up I spent a lot of time camping in Wisconsin and I travelled to Colorado in 2004 where I become seriously ill with an unexplained illness. My doctor suspects I could have been bitten on any of those trips.

When did you first begin to feel ill or start to notice strange symptoms?

For as long I can remember I’ve had a weak immune system. In 6th grade (2004) I missed 30 days of school because of two mono-like illnesses. My body never recovered from those illnesses and throughout high school my symptoms became worse. Four months into my freshman year of college I got mono (for real this time) and my body practically shut down. There were a few days where I actually thought I was dying. I was even taken to the ER and tested for serious illnesses such as cancer because of my abnormal white blood cell count.

What were they?

For many years my main symptom was extreme fatigue. I woke up feeling tired every single day and I often felt sick (I don’t have a better way to explain it, I just felt crappy). I experienced bloating for many years, but when I studied abroad in Chile my junior year of high school my stomach issues became much worse. My anxiety increased over the years and my senior year of high school I started having small panic attacks almost every day. I became depressed and even had suicidal thoughts. When I became sick with mono 2 ½ years ago all of my symptoms were amplified. I was so exhausted that even lying down felt like work. I just wanted to sink into the ground. These last couple years I’ve had a lot of headaches, nausea, body aches, sore joints, and extreme dizziness (so bad I still can’t sit up for more than a few hours each day).

How many doctors did you see before reaching an accurate diagnosis?

There have been A LOT of doctors, both traditional and non-traditional. Some of the doctors were very kind and admitted they didn’t know what was wrong. But others tried to minimize my symptoms and just told me to sleep more or see a therapist. I even saw one of the “best” infectious disease doctors and was basically told “everyone feels tired so it’s not a big deal that you are”.

Were you misdiagnosed with anything prior to being diagnosed with Lyme? If so, what?

Last year I was diagnosed with chronic mono, but otherwise I haven’t had too many actual diagnoses. Many doctors seemed confused by my symptoms and suggested I was depressed or didn’t get enough sleep. For years I blamed myself for feeling sick because if there wasn’t anything “wrong” with me then it must be my fault.

What are the main symptoms that you experience currently?

My main symptoms are debilitating fatigue and dizziness. Like I mentioned above I can’t sit up much and I can only walk for 5-10 minutes. I also have terrible insomnia, which keeps me up late at night (I still don’t understand why I can’t fall asleep since I’m constantly tired!) I also struggle with headaches, nausea, muscle and joint pain and anxiety. The symptoms range in severity depending on the day or even hour.

What does your treatment regimen look like?

I take a lot of supplements and herbs, which change every few months. Last summer I was on antibiotics for three months, which really wiped me out. I recently started antibiotics again and antifungals after my doctor found fungus in my brain (apparently more recent research shows this is common for Lyme patients). I eat a super clean diet, which is free of gluten, dairy, yeast, eggs, corn, soy, alcohol and most sugar. This last year I’ve been seeing a wonderful woman who does craniosacral therapy (for the headaches and body pain) and energy work. I try to ease the aches and pains with therapeutic yoga, stretching and short walks.

How much do your symptoms prevent you from living a normal life?

I haven’t felt normal in quite some time. Because of Lyme I’m living at home and the majority of my day is spent watching TV. When I do have enough energy to go out I use a wheelchair. I’m really hoping to return to college in the fall, but as any Lyme patient knows, Lyme treatment is fairly unpredictable.

What do you like to do in your free time and how is this different than before you were sick?

I’ve always enjoyed crafts, but when I got sick I started making leather jewelry and actually opened up an Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/LeeBeeJewelry). When I have a little energy I love creating jewelry and forgetting about my illness for an hour. I’ve also really grown to appreciate cuddling on the couch with my mom while we watch our favorite TV shows (The Bachelorette, Project Runway, Long Island Medium, Parenthood and basically anything on HGTV)

What do you want people to know about Lyme?

I would love for people to understand how incredibly lonely it is to deal with Lyme or really any long-term illness. I spend the majority of my day alone and even when I’m around people I feel out of place. I realize it’s difficult for people to totally understand someone else’s struggle, but I wish everyone would take a minute to really think about someone’s situation. Everyone deals with hardships in life and these adversities should connect us, not isolate us.

What are you most thankful to have gained, or what important lessons have you learned, from your experience with Lyme?

I’ve learned that health and happiness are not guaranteed in life, you have to fight for them both. I’ve realized it’s really easy to be sad, but it’s not helpful. For the first two years of being extremely ill I felt really sorry for myself and cried a lot. But after connecting with other Lyme patients and reading “Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender” (I highly recommend this book) I’ve been able to shift my attitude away from negativity. It really sucks that I’m sick, but I can’t dwell on it. Instead I’ve taken control of my healing process and fight for my health everyday. And most importantly I trust that I will get better. I don’t know when I will, but I do know I have a wonderful life ahead of me.

Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Prevention

This post concludes the Lyme Awareness Month series, and thankfully I’ll be moving on to some topics that are a little bit more fun in the coming weeks. Speaking of, next week, I’ll be posting some details about a giveaway that I’ll be doing, so stay tuned for more on that!

Below are some preventative measures to help keep you and your family safe. Prevention is the absolute biggest key in safeguarding yourself against this illness, so please be sure to share this information with friends and family, especially as the summer months approach and outdoor activities become more frequent.

Lyme Disease has been found in every single one of the American states and is present all over the world. This is not a disease that is secluded to the Northeast anymore. It’s everywhere.

Ticks come in all shapes and sizes, and young ticks (nymphs) can be as small as a poppyseed. Do you have freckles? One of those freckles could very well be a tiny tick. Just saying…

Make sure to conduct a full body tick check after you’ve been hiking, fishing, hunting, or even gardening. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read about people falling ill after doing garden work in their own backyard.

– Be leery of moist areas– leaning up against tree trunks or sitting in an area of thick underbrush, such as on a pile of leaves, is not a good idea, ticks love these areas.

– Dress to protect: Wear a hat, long sleeves, pants, and high socks in light colors when participating in outdoor activities. Light colored clothing will help you to more easily spot a tick, and it’s much harder for ticks to attach through a piece of clothing. Also keep your hair pulled back if you have long locks.

– Consider using insect repellent such as Deet or a natural alternative like Geranium essential oil.

– If you begin to feel fluish or discover an odd-looking rash after spending time outdoors, get to your doctor immediately. Lyme Disease can usually be successfully treated with a short course of antibiotics, but only if it’s caught in it’s early stages.

– Don’t rely on blood tests for a Lyme diagnosis. Lyme blood tests such as the widely used Elisa, are notoriously unreliable, catching only around 70% of cases. Therefore, Lyme is often a clinical diagnosis given only by experienced LLMD’s (Lyme Literate MD’s) .

– You can still have Lyme even if you don’t get the characteristic rash. Most doctors rely on the presence of the bulls-eye rash to confirm a Lyme diagnosis. In reality, however, fewer than 50% of Lyme sufferers recall a bulls-eye rash, and in some studies this number was as low as 15%.

Never be afraid to get a second opinion. Most medical doctors aren’t adequately trained in diagnosing or treating Lyme, so trust your intuition, do your research, and don’t be afraid to get a second or third opinion.

– Be aware of similar conditions. “[Lyme] can mimic every disease process including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), Fibromyalgia, Autoimmune conditions including sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis and MS, Psychiatric conditions including depression and anxiety, and cause significant memory and concentration problems mimicking early dementia. It is called the “Great Imitator” and inaccurate testing – combined with an ongoing scientific and political debate that questions chronic infection – makes it difficult for sufferers to find appropriate care.” (‘Why Can’t I Get Better?’, Dr. Richard Horowitz)

Liebster Award

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I am so excited to have been nominated for the Liebster Award this year. The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers as a way to help honor their work on the internet and also to help bloggers and readers to discover new blogs. Liebster is a German word and means, sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Seems like quite a compliment to me! If you’re nominated for the award, you are asked to answer several questions about yourself and then pay it forward by nominating a handful of other new bloggers. It’s all about building a community and connecting with others, which is one of my favorite things to do, so naturally I am thrilled to participate.

I was nominated for this award by Megan over at The Recipe For Healing. If you aren’t familiar with her recipes, I suggest you acquaint yourself because she has some amazing creations on her blog and Instagram page (@therecipeforhealing). A few years ago, she used the GAPS Diet to heal herself from a nasty Lyme Disease infection and hasn’t looked back. Her dedication to clean, whole, and healing foods has definitely been inspiring to me on my own road to recovery. Below are the questions that Megan asked me to answer along with my responses:

1) How did you eat before you decided to change your diet?

I have always been a relatively healthy eater and was lucky to grow up in a home with many home cooked meals and few preservatives. Since I played competitive soccer from the time I was 10-18, I was always aware that what I put into my body would be used for energy later on, but as with most people at the time I was lured by foods that I thought were healthy, but were actually often packed with chemicals and preservatives and were void of healthy fats.

For many years I believed that fat was the enemy, which is totally wrong thinking. During and after college, I went through a period where I ate relatively little animal fat or meat. I thought that this was a healthier way to live, and even though I was eating lots of fruits and vegetables, I was lacking in what I believe are two essential foods groups for my body type- healthy fats and animal protein.

Post college, I became more and more dependent on sugar and caffeine as I became more and more sick with an unidentified illness (which years later was finally diagnosed as Lyme). I would reach for a piece of candy, coffee, or tea when I became stressed at my fast-paced job, and since my adrenals and thyroid were a mess due to the effects of Lyme, I truly depended on these things to help me make it through the day.

After I became so ill with Lyme that I had to move back home to Texas to live with my parents in May of 2012, I knew that diet was one of the first things I wanted to address. I had been living off of Thai takeout and decadent brunches for months (okay let’s be real- years), and the sharp contrast of clean, home-cooked meals that my parents fixed me were a dream. It wasn’t long before I transitioned onto an anti-inflammation diet that consisted of a limited assortment of fish, vegetables, and fruits, and this is where I was first introduced to ghee, my BFF nowadays. Gluten, dairy, and sugar were prohibited on the diet, but since I had eliminated gluten in 2009 and dairy oftentimes caused tummy aches, I didn’t have much of an issue with adjusting to the diet, other than having to eat fish twice a day, everyday for several months. Basically, the rest is history- I’ve been eating organic, clean meals since August of 2012 and am hooked.

2) What are your favorite foods to eat, cook and bake? Have you always enjoyed being in the kitchen?

My favorite foods to eat are probably baby back ribs, fish, and sweet potato fries. I’ve been fighting off some candida recently and have had to eliminate the sweet fries, and boy am I missing them! The foods I probably eat the most are eggs, hamburgers and lamb burgers, steamed or raw green beans, and all types of assortments of coconut flour biscuits and muffins. I also try to consume at least one cup of bone broth per day and when my tummy isn’t in knots, I can eat my weight in hummus with carrots and celery.

Just to be clear, I am currently not well enough to cook for myself, and so most all of my meals are prepared by either my dad or my good friend, Betty, who basically works as a personal chef. I usually come up with the menu for the week and then we take it from there. I can’t wait until I am well enough to get into the kitchen though. I used to love baking with my grandmother, so that’s what I’m looking forward to most.

3) What made you decide to start a blog? What do you wish to accomplish with it?

When I was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease, I learned a lot about an illness that I had previously discounted as being easily prevented and quite curable. Those two misconceptions could not be further from the truth, and I wanted to be a voice of awareness while also providing a place for chronic illness sufferers to come and know that they are not alone.

4) If you could do/be anything, what would it be? There are no limits.

I would be a completely, 100% healthy individual, and I would travel. Everywhere. I want to live in so many different places that I’ve lost count. One day, I will travel again and live in a place that invigorates me the way that Brooklyn & NYC did when I lived there.

5) Who are some of the people that inspire you to eat clean?

Oh, there are so many. It probably sounds trite to say this, but literally every beautiful and healthy meal that I see posted in Instagram or Pinterest inspires me to eat clean, think up delicious meals, and take pretty pictures of them.

And here are my nominations for the Liebster Award…

Incredible Edibles by Erin M. Harker– I just recently discovered Erin on Instagram (@incredible_edibles) and was immediately drawn to her beautiful pictures. Turns out she’s got the creative recipes to back them up. As if this weren’t enough, she’s got some seriously killer dish ware that I am quite envious of.

Lemons ‘n Lyme– Victoria was actually featured in The Lyme Diaries several months ago, and since then, she and I have kept a running dialogue of our treatment protocols, diets, and gains or setbacks in fighting Lyme. Her blog is one of the first Lyme and healthy food blogs that I discovered and is part of the reason that I felt encouraged to start my own blog. She has some seriously delicious recipes for both paleo and raw food lifestyles, and she also shares the same heart that I do for spreading Lyme awareness. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook too.

Plateful Paleo– I’ve been following Rachel on Instagram (@platefulpaleo) for several months, and though I don’t know her personally, I always enjoy her posts of beautiful and well-thought out foods. She’s also from Houston, as am I, and I love to see what foods and paleo-friendly restaurants she finds in this city. Her blog has some seriously delicious recipes, so check her out!

My questions are:

1.) Why did you choose your particular diet plan and what health benefits have you seen from it?

2.) What inspired you to start your blog and what is your favorite part about blogging?

3.) What foods do you eat most often?

4.) What is your favorite “cheat food” or comfort food?

5.) What do you want your readers to know about you? (It can be anything)

How To Have a Less Toxic Nail Polish Addiction

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If you know me well or follow me on Instagram, then you know that I have a not-so-mild obsession with nail polish and nail art. What you may or may not know though, is that nail polish is essentially a small bottle of chemicals that have easy access to your bloodstream once applied to the nail. Not to mention the brain cells it kills with toxic fumes! So now your next question is- Isn't this a conflict of interest for your chemical-free, natural, clean lifestyle?

Yes, I concede that it is, however, it is one that I will allow for two reasons: 1.) For a very long time, painting my nails was literally the only creative outlet that I could take pleasure in, and it helped to keep me sane and escape my world of pain and sickness for a short time, and 2.) It makes me happy, and anything that makes me happy is worth doing (within reason, of course), I figure that whatever damage the nail polish toxins are doing are being counteracted by the happiness I feel when I look down at my nails and see something prettily painted upon them. Judge if you want, but everyone deserves to have a guilty pleasure or two, and painting my nails is mine.

Even though most popular brands of nail polish are in and of themselves quite toxic, the polish world has made much positive progress in creating less toxic polish formulas over the past few years. New brands of polish are popping up everyday, and indie nail polishes are on the rise. Nowadays there are more options than ever, and you can even buy vegan or water-based nail polish with all natural ingredients, which are virtually void of toxins and are even safe for the minis in your life.

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Before we get into my recommendations for leading a clean nail polish life, let’s cover a few basics…

What does 3 Free, 4 Free, and 5 Free mean?

For many years, most nail polish companies included three very scary ingredients in their formulas: formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. The combined effects of these three ingredients have been known to cause reproductive issues, disturbances in the endocrine system, nervous system impairments such as dizziness, fatigue, and headaches, and have even caused cancer in lab rats. You can learn more about these chemicals here, but suffice it to say that you don’t want these toxins to be absorbed into your blood stream (heads up: toxins can enter straight into your bloodstream through your nail bed). Luckily, most big nail polish brands like OPI, Essie, Butter London, China Glaze, and SOPI have removed these three toxins, and therefore, such polishes are referred to as ‘3 Free’, meaning they are free of the three big nasties.

But even if a polish doesn’t contain these three dangerous toxins, you can bet that most contain all kinds of other harmful chemicals, and some brands have taken it a step further by removing formaldehyde residue (4-Free) and camphor (5-Free). This article in Slate describes some of the hurdles that still exist, even in these less toxic brands of nail polish.

So now that I’ve taken all of the fun out of painting your nails, let’s get into a few very basic rules that I try to live by when it comes to my polish habits.

1.) Only use nail polish brands that are 3-Free or higher

I’ve made it a personal rule that, moving forward, I will only allow myself to purchase polish brands that are 4 Free or (preferably) 5 Free, but since I have a boat load of 3 Free polishes (hello, Essie), I do still allow myself to use them. You can bet that I threw out all of the polishes that weren't at least 3 Free though, because, well… formaldehyde. Personally, my favorite brands right now are Julep (4-Free), Zoya, and Deborah Lippmann (both 5-Free). If I'm feeling really dedicated then I go with an organic line like Mineral Fusion or Karma Organics that can be found at your local Whole Foods.

Psst… This site is a great resource for checking out the level chemical contaminants in different nail polish brands.

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2.) Replace your traditional alcohol or acetone-based nail polish remover with a naturally based one

I’m sure that by now most women know that acetone is not only terrible for your nail health, but can also be harmful to your general health. But even most non-acetone polish removers are loaded with their own toxic chemicals. Luckily, there are lots of other options out there today for the health conscious consumer. My nail polish remover of choice is by Karma Naturals, it may be more expensive than your typical alcohol- based nail polish remover, but it lasts about 10 times longer, plus, instead of stripping your nails of the moisture they need, it actually replenishes moisture as it gently removes polish. I will warn you that it requires a tad more elbow grease than what you may be used to, especially for those who use acetone, but there’s no doubt that with a bit of effort you’ll have a much healthier nail as a result of ditching your old remover. I bought this bottle on Amazon almost a year ago, and it’s still about 1/2 full.

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3.) Proper ventilation

This is probably a no-brainer for anyone who’s ever walked into a nail salon, but proper ventilation makes an enormous difference. Turn on a fan, open the window, make sure to paint to your nails in an open space instead of a smaller closed off bathroom. And for goodness sakes, ladies, try not to get too close to that open bottle while applying your polish, the smell alone could knock you out.

4.) Try not to let the polish touch your skin, and/or clean up quickly upon application

Just as nail polish toxins can seep into your body through your nail bed, they can certainly be absorbed by the skin, so make sure to use your toxin-free remover or a hot bath to remove any excess polish that has gotten onto your skin or cuticle area.

With these four easy rules, I hope that you feel a bit more comfortable, or at least less guilty, about partaking in a potentially toxic habit. Good luck ladies, now let’s see those manis!

XX, K

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Coconut Flour Bread

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I’ve had a bit of a rough week, and when I feel terrible I tend to crave things that are more likely than not to make me feel worse- can we say french fries and rice pasta? So in an effort to keep myself from eating all of these starchy, high carb foods that Lyme flourishes off of, I decided to try out a new recipe for coconut flour bread. I found a recipe with relatively few ingredients on Lexbake’s blog, and then my friend Betty, who cooks for me on Wednesdays, made a few tweaks to make the recipe even better.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this bread, it’s not too sweet, but does have a hint of sweetness, probably from the coconut oil. If you wanted to make a more dessert type bread and you’re not watching your sugar intake, then feel free to add a bit of honey or stevia to sweeten it up. I haven’t tried using the bread to make a sandwich, but it sure is tasty with some pumpkin seed butter spread in top, and I can think of about ten other things that I want to try with it. Endless possibilities.

In other news- I’m currently working on a new post with a treatment update to fill everyone in on my progress, or lack thereof, and I promise that you’ll hear from me again soon(ish).

X, K

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Ingredients:
3/4 C coconut flour
1/2 C virgin coconut oil, melted
1/4 C ghee
6 eggs
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease loaf pan with coconut oil. Separate egg whites from yolk, and place in two separate bowls. Beat egg yolks until frothy. Beat egg whites until fluffy and voluminous. Combine egg yolks, ghee, and coconut oil in a bowl. Add salt, baking powder, and coconut flour and combine with egg yolk mixture. Fold in egg whites. Mixture will be a thick paste. Push it down into the loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Staving off Candida & Hearty Oat Bran Muffin Recipe

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About a month ago I found out that I have a moderate case of systemic candida. I had suspected this might be the case for quite a while because I’ve had body wide itching for over a year now but have never been able to attribute it to a specific allergen or anything else. I had taken a candida test early last fall that came back negative, but the test I took in December came back positive, so here I am, treating yet another chronic infection in addition to the Lyme. I’m hoping that knocking the candida will knock the itching and will also speed up my Lyme treatment, which seems to be moving at a glacial pace, but I guess that only time will tell.

For those who don’t know, candida is a fungal infection that occurs when the flora in the gut becomes out of balance and bad bacteria begins to overwhelm the good bacteria. It has been said that all health starts in the gut, and gut flora is so complex that doctors and scientists still know very little about the multitude of microorganisms that reside there.

What we do know is that a healthy gut contains an 80:20 ratio of good bacteria vs. bad bacteria and is also indicative of proper immune function. However, toxins like pesticides, GMO’s, and antibiotics are all known to severely alter and disrupt proper gut flora, making it immensely difficult to maintain intestinal integrity. Since it’s almost impossible to avoid all damaging contaminants, one really must remain diligent in maintaining proper intestinal health.

Since digestive and intestinal issues have been a problem of mine for the past ten years, I knew that regaining my health in this area was of vital importance to my overall healing journey. Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably remember my post about a healing dietary plan called the GAPS diet, which I spoke about here, and I am happy to report that I have gained some weight and am more properly digesting and absorbing my food now. However, with the new candida diagnosis, I decided to refine my diet yet again.

While treating candida, it’s crucial to eliminate ALL sugar, grains, dairy, and starchy vegetables, because sugar is essentially what allows the candida to flourish (starchy foods metabolize into sugar). Even though I eliminated conventional sugar, dairy, and gluten long ago, I decided to follow a bit of advice from the official Candida Diet which requires the elimination of honey, maple syrup, agave, and fruits (with the exception of green apples and grapefruit), rice, and root vegetables (goodbye sweet potato fries).

Luckily for me, oat bran and coconut flour are still permitted on the candida diet, and when I stumbled across this oat bran muffin recipe by Whole New Mom, I knew I had to try them. I modified the recipe a bit, and the results are delicious, just trust me on this. If you’re not watching your sugar intake, feel free to top your muffin with a natural fruit preserve, honey, or nut butter for an added pop.

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Ingredients:
2 1/2 C uncooked oat bran
2 t baking powder
1-2 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1 C water
2 t vanilla extract
2T coconut oil
2 T ghee
2 sm green apples, peeled and cut into chunks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Cook apples in saucepan on medium-high heat until soft. Purée and add to wet ingredients. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Butter or grease muffin tin (ghee, grassfed butter, or coconut oil), and spoon batter into tins. Bake 10-20 minutes, or until the muffins set up nicely. Top with butter, raw honey, jam, your favorite nut butter, or enjoy them all by themselves!

*Makes about 14 regular sized muffins.

The Lyme Diaries: Shannon’s Story

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You’re too young to be so sick.’

I’ve heard this comment from well-meaning friends and doctors alike, and to a large extent I agree with them, but the reality is that I am this sick. And so are many others with Lyme Disease or any number of other chronic diseases.

This experience has definitely opened my eyes to the volume of young people with chronic illness. I dare you to go on Instagram and look under the hashtag #chronicillness. What you’ll find are thousands of posts from (mostly) young people suffering from one disease or another, whether it be Lupus, POTS, CFS, Lyme, or another lesser known illness, yet our society, to a large extent, knows very little about these invisible illnesses.

I know that it can be confusing to outsiders to understand how the life of a person with chronic disease or invisible illness is so marked with pain when on the outside we ‘look normal’. For the record, I think I look anything but normal- I’ve got dark circles around my eyes and bags under them, despite the amount of sleep I get. I’m pale, paler than this Irish girl should be. My calf muscles have atrophied from lack of use. My face has lost it’s fullness and instead is a bit hollow. I’ve lost weight. I don’t think I look very ‘normal’.

But I know what it’s like to look healthy on the outside while feeling terrible on the inside, it just took a while for my exterior to begin to match my interior. I was sick for a long time before I was really debilitated by my illness, I just suffered through it as best I could. I was always a little bit bewildered when a coworker would call in sick because they had a scratchy throat or a headache. That was every day of my life. Deep down I wondered what it must feel like to really feel well, not just my version of it.

This story comes to us from a new, sweet friend of mine named Shannon. Invisible illness has effected her from a very young age and caused her to miss much of her high school years. Personally, I can’t imagine being a high schooler and going through this illness, I was much too bull headed back then to go through an illness like this with even an inkling of grace, and my heart goes out to those who were much younger than me when they became so very ill.

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Shannon recently started a blog called Lymeless And Lovely, and I encourage you to check it out if you have a moment, she’s a wonderful writer and has an ease with putting her experience into words, as you’ll see below.

As always, I hope that you enjoy this story and that it brings a deeper understanding of not only Lyme Disease, but of the multitude of other chronic illnesses that are becoming more and more prevalent by the day.

XX, K

First Name: Shannon
Age: 23
Gender: Female
Where do you live? Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
When/Where do you suspect that you contracted Lyme? New Brunswick, Canada

When did you first begin to feel ill or start to notice strange symptoms?

In the summer of 2003, while on vacation in New Brunswick with my family.

What were they?

I developed a weird rash all over my body. It lasted 2 weeks and I felt generally unwell the whole time, but then it disappeared. That fall I was missing a lot of school due to feeling sick which was unusual for me. Then in Feb of 2004 I woke up with what I thought was the stomach flu and I was sick from then on.

How many doctors did you see before reaching an accurate diagnosis?

Oh gosh. I stopped keeping track! So many. Gastroenterologists, cardiologists, GPs, dozens of ER doctors on the several occasions I ended up there. So many haha.

Were you misdiagnosed with anything prior to being diagnosed with Lyme? If so, what?

The first thing I was diagnosed with was probably social anxiety. I had doctors tell my parents I was just afraid to go back to school (ridiculous because I always loved school and was devastated to be missing it).

I was also diagnosed with a handful of random things that didn’t really explain my symptoms in their entirety, or their severity such as acid reflux and ovarian cysts.

I was finally diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) in 2005. At the time, we weren’t aware why I developed POTS (it is usually a secondary condition).

For years we just treated the POTS as best we could, but unfortunately I didn’t notice much improvement in doing this. Finally in 2012 after doing my own research, I got tested for lyme. Between my test results and symptom history I was diagnosed with late stage lyme along with several co-infections.

What are the main symptoms that you experience currently?

My main symptoms are definitely extreme weakness/fatigue and nausea. I black out a lot and sometimes even faint. I also get bad pressure in my head and abdominal pain.

What does your treatment regimen look like?

I’m currently treating with a variety of different herbals and supplements. Herbs to address detox, liver support, kidneys, lyme and co-infections, parasites, and the immune system. I am on binders to help bind the toxins that are released from this process (chlorella and activated charcoal). I am also starting a supplement called CORE that addresses KPU which is an issue a lot of people with lyme have. I take methyl folate and hydroxy b12 as I have the MTHFR gene mutation, and I am also looking into mold toxins and the treatment involved in that.

How much do your symptoms prevent you from living a normal life?

A lot! Up until last year, I was sick but was able to semi function. I could never go to high school full time and couldn’t hold a job, but most days I was able to go out for a couple hours etc. without too much trouble. This last year I’ve been sicker, and have basically been housebound. I was in online courses for nutrition and had to put my schooling on hold because I’m just too sick at the moment. On good days I’m able to go to the grocery store for a bit or to a friend’s house, but on bad days I can’t get out of bed, make own food, or shower without sitting down.

What do you like to do in your free time and how is this different than before you were sick?

Most of my time now is “free time” but unfortunately I’m not feeling well enough to do much with it! Watching movies or tv shows, reading, and when I can, spending time with friends and family. When I was feeling better I really enjoyed baking and cooking, specifically gluten free and allergen free foods!

What do you want people to know about Lyme?

So much! This illness is so misunderstood and I hate that. I was so frustrated by this that I wrote a blog post about this very thing! (Side note from Kayla: This blog post is a MUST read for anyone with Lyme or for those who have loved ones who are struggling with Lyme).

What are you most thankful to have gained, or what important lessons have you learned, from your experience with Lyme?

I’ve learned that life is precious and really can change overnight. I’ve learned that unfortunately a lot of the time the people you think will love you unconditionally won’t, but the ones that do make up for it. I’ve learned that it’s the little things in life that hold true value, and I’ve learned to practice gratitude in every way possible, no matter how impossible it can feel at times. I’ve learned that it’s okay to have days where you don’t feel positive or hopeful. And it’s okay to want to give up and it’s okay to cry. We are human. I’ve learned that nothing is permanent. And most of all I’ve learned that those that have experienced suffering and loss also have the greatest ability to show true compassion, empathy, patience and kindness.