This turned into a time consuming and lengthy blog post inadvertently:
OK, allow me to give some background as to why this became my obsession:
I’ve been paleo for over a year, and my kids now are at the one year mark since we completely revamped their nutrition. I was a busy working mother, with a busy spouse and 3 busy kids. Busy. Busy. Busy. Just like you.
When we decided to leap to paleo for our health I too was convinced it couldn’t be convenient or fit into our lifestyle. I was completely skeptical, like you may be. Yet, I saw immediate and consistent improvement over that year. Some things took longer, some members of our family improved at different rates, but overall, it was noticeable enough that giving up on good nutrition was not an option.
All these improvements were fantastic, but there was one thing I just couldn’t get to clear up: my son’s eczema patches on his scalp. No matter what, these few areas just were not going away. Stubborn skin irritation meets more stubborn mom. In addition, I myself, would get eczema flare ups on my scalp, elbows and occasionally my face. I’d finally had enough.
We started out what is considered “primal” I suppose, in that we ate dairy. Eventually we went to dairy free in the hopes that was the missing link. Dairy free actually helped my youngest with some aggression issues (more on that some other time), but it didn’t touch the eczema.
Next I cut out all sugar, even the paleo-ish types (raw honey, grade b maple syrup). Health improved, yes, even more – but we still had eczema.
I was at a loss. What more could I eliminate?
I went to the paleo message boards, emailed people I trusted, began to look for other answers and I read and read and read…
It wasn’t until someone said… “could there be gluten in his shampoo,” that I realized that the products we were using could be just as damaging as the food we were eating.
Light bulb moment!
Until April first of this year (a month ago), I also worked outside of the home. Here was what our day looked like: I’d wake up between 5 and 5:30 am, shower, dress, etc. At 6:30 I woke my kids up, made lunches while they got ready and we were out the door by 7. After school let out at 3:30, then I had to workout/crossfit, then gymnastics & baseball, homework, dinner (often on the run) and sometimes I had evening clients. There were nights I didn’t get home until after 11:00 PM. My husband and I juggled the kids, work and activities and we had it down to an exact science. What at the time seemed like it was working, in retrospect was a train wreck! None of us were getting restful sleep, stress was at chronic levels, prior to paleo we weren’t eating healthy at all… lunches included salads loaded with commercial dressings (ewww), or worse, the dreaded “lunchable”. Dinners were often eating out, eating fast food, and I felt guilty then (disgusted now), but admittedly succumbed to the 1.99 happy meal from McHeartattack. What?! Then, after we’d transitioned, yes our meals were better – but without the sleep and stress portions optimized we still left a lot to be desired.
Sound familiar? Yes, I am a real person, not necessarily the susie home-maker, tree hugging, crunchy person I am quickly starting to sound like.
Here is what I learned though, it really doesn’t take more time to prepare food or even these product alternatives if you use your time wisely. In addition, the cost savings is incredible. Which, for a family of 5 – adds up! It’s actually significantly cheaper for us to live paleo and do it ourselves.
So I set out to find ways to avoid as many commercial products as I possibly could. I’m not claiming these are my original ideas… I scoured the internet, read blog after blog, searched natural remedies, natural soaps, googled “paleo alternatives”, “paleo products”, and “paleo cleansers”. I dove into organic resources and natural processes. What you’ll find below is my adaptation of the many things I found. At the end I will list a number of blog sources you can look to for more information.
There are some brilliant people who have outlined great reasons not to use commercial products as well as the affects of many of those harmful ingredients. I’m not going to go there in this post, instead, I’ll recommend you look to those sources.
So, here was what my experiment yielded:
No Poo Hair wash
1-2 Tbs of baking soda
8 oz of warm water
mix in a bottle
apply to roots, scrub and rinse
Follow with ACV hair rinse on ends of hair.
4 cups of distilled water
4 Tbs of ACV (apple cider vinegar)
40 drops of essential oil ( I used sweet orange)
Now, this has been phenomenal for Nico’s hair, I’ve washed his hair twice this week using this method and his hair is soft and his eczema is starting to lessen. I anticipate this will take time. When I washed my hair this way, the wash works well. I have read that there is a 30 day transition period where hair may be dry or excessively oily while your scalp learns to be less dependent on the detergent/conditioning oil cycle it’s become accustomed to. So, I will periodically update the facebook page and blog based on the results I find.
And Finally… my two favorite DIY products. I promise you these are two things I will never buy again:
1 Tbs baking soda
1/4 cup of coconut oil
15 drops of essential oil of choice (I’ve used peppermint and spearmint)
At first, this was bitter because of the baking soda, but by the second time I used it you get over that. Even my 5 year old son loves this stuff. Why? because by the 2nd time we used it, we all noticed our mouths were cleaner. I have a dental fetish, I HATE feeling unclean. I am a person who carries dental floss everywhere, cannot stand bad breath, etc. But, I refuse to chew gum. In case you didn’t know this already… GUM is horrible for you, the obvious is the aspartame, sugar, and other chemical additives – but did you also know gum destroys your digestive process by confusing your body chemistry? For that reason, gum can prevent you from losing weight by fooling your body into thinking you are starving it.
The explanation from Dr. Mercola:
Your body was designed to activate your digestive process through chewing. This is a good thing as your body needs the enzymes and acid to digest your food. However chewing without eating food can be counterproductive.
When you chew gum, you send your body physical signals that food is about to enter your body. The enzymes and acids that are activated when you chew gum can cause bloating and overproduction of stomach acid. Besides this, chewing gum can cause jaw muscle imbalance (if you chew on one side more than the other) and even TMJ in your jaw, which can be a painful chronic condition. The bottom line is you shouldn’t chew gum or if you do use gum, use if very rarely or right before a meal where the acid and enzyme stimulation may actually be beneficial …
(full article on digestion here)
In short, gum is BAD, so what is someone who is obsessed with oral health to do?
Well, the answer is coconut oil! Benefits of coconut oil for oral health include its antibacterial properties. The coconut oil takes care of bad breath and keeps your mouth clean. In addition, the baking soda is abrasive enough to get the plaque off your teeth! Honestly, this has made tooth care so much easier for my children and their teeth look amazing!
For more on the benefits of coconut oil and baking soda check out these links! As a matter of fact, coconut oil has tons of health benefits and is a daily part of our life, on the outside AND inside of our bodies.
Also, if you’ve never heard of oil pulling, you may want to check it out here. My only issue with pulling is that it takes 15 minutes a day and frankly, I don’t have that kind of time. But if you suffer from chronic oral health issues, you should definitely look into it.
Long story short, I think this toothpaste is absolutely phenomenal. And, in case you are going to ask… what about Flouride, my dentist says I HAVE to have it!… um, no. I could give an endless list of sources that warn of the dangers of flouride… but how about the ADA themselves. Here is what they have to say.
And just in case you are not sold, here are a few more:
10 dangers of flouride by Cheeseslave
Dr Ormonson on flouride from Dr. Mercola
Ok, if you follow me on facebook, you know that this is honestly one of my greatest joys. Simple as it may seem this makes me happy in a way I couldn’t have imagined. How silly, you may think. But let me tell you, I recently went on a tirade about deodorant manufacturers ripping us off when suddenly my favorite deodorant/antiperspirant didn’t work any longer and I was forced to buy the “clinical strength” version for nearly 4x as much. At 12.00 per package, I thought the industry as a whole was plotting against me.
Because of that, I was highly skeptical that anything I could make at home would ever work. I was wrong. This homemade deodorant has withstood a workout, a day at the beach, AND a field trip with over 200 second graders to an amusement park where we got stuck on a school bus for an hour and were two hours late returning to school… if that’s not a true test, I don’t know what is!
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
3/4 cup coconut oil
30 drops of essential oil
(for mine I use lavender, for my husband I used tea tree oil, but anything you like is fine)
Again, I’m not the first to make this and I’ve seen a number of recipes calling on different quantities, some including shea butter, etc. I’ve also talked to people who are sensitive to baking soda and use a smaller quantity of baking soda. You can also replace the arrowroot with non GMO cornstarch if you prefer. However, we don’t use cornstarch in our home for anything. Here is a great blog post about why by Girl Meets Nourishment.
I refrigerated this to make it solid, but keep it on my bathroom countertop. I apply it with my fingers. If the temperature of your house is warm it may liquify, just be sure to stir it because the baking soda and arrowroot may settle to the bottom if the coconut oil liquifies. So far mine has stayed a gel consistency and is perfect. It does not go on sticky, or make my clothing oily, or any of the other concerns I had. BTW, the same holds true (the baking soda may settle, so stir) of the toothpaste!
Other things I make myself or do naturally:
coarse sea salt
olive oil to cover
essential oil (I use peppermint as it soothes skin and has anti itch properties for dry skin)
Coconut oil the jack of all trades:
I use coconut oil as sunscreen, to moisturize, I add it to a hot bath to soak in (although, it does make the tub messy and slippery so be careful), I also keep a little in my bathroom with some tea tree oil infused into it for hair emergencies – I use it as a conditioning balm and in lieu of a styling product when I wear my hair curly!