My health took a turn for the worse three years ago when I developed Lyme disease. As a part of my healing process, I reevaluated all the chemicals that I used in our home and on my body. Up until that point, I knew many the products I used had chemicals in them, but I just took it for granted that they were safe. Experience is the best teacher, as they say!
Below are some tricks that I’ve learned to use to be a little more heathy while lessening the toxins on/in my body.
Before Lyme, I loved having candles burning in our home. I also used scented dryer sheets and fragrant laundry detergents, lotions and soaps. Sadly, all of these things are not very healthy for the immune system due to all the man-made fragrances and chemicals in these products.
I now use diffusers in both the bedroom and livingroom. You can create healthy and pleasing scents with just a few drops of essential oils of your choosing. Be sure to research them; don’t just purchase any oil on the market! (Check out my post Diffusing the Confusion About Essential Oils.) Personally, I like lavender and geranium together for sleeping. Clove and orange or lemon and eucalyptus are great in the living room. And both these combinations are helpful in building up your immune system.
Interestingly enough, when I lit a popular commmerical brand of candle in my home, after being ill with Lyme for many months, I had quite a different reaction than my before-Lyme lifestyle. Before Lyme, I enjoyed the heavy candle scent. Now, candle scents are overwhelming to me, and I can honestly say that I haven’t burned those candles, or any candle, since. I prefer essential oils because they give you a clean, light smell without the heaviness you can experience with candles. And because oils are so concentrated, you only use a few drops at a time. The oils produce a long-lasting scent, but they can also can provide health benefits, like altering moods or boosting the immune system.
During the winter months, I have found that diffusing oils in my home has cut down on illness in my family, too. We haven’t been hit with a stomach bug in over two years, and I’m very confident that it has to do with using essential oils. I typically diffuse lemon eucalpytus in the living room, which is known to be a great germ killer. When I experienced some congestion early in my Lyme illness, I found that shaking a few drops of this same oil while taking my shower helped to diffuse the oil into the air and also made it easier to breathe.
When I started this switch, I thought about all the products that I used in the shower: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and shaving cream. Between those four products, I was easily putting hundreds of compounds on my skin and into my system daily. A pretty scary thought when I couldn’t even pronounce most of the ingredients!
Now, I try to purchase shampoos and conditioners that are better for my hair and system in general. My hair dresser has a line of hair products that are more natural than commerical products you can find in the stores, and I also have learned how to make my own soaps, without the harsh chemicals and fragrances. Before learning how to make soap, I did use Dr. Bronner’s Castile soaps and Shea Moisture products, which I found to be healthier in some respects. But now that I make my own soap, I haven’t purchased bar soap for my family in three years! I can use whatever essential oils that I like to scent my own soaps, and since I know what is in them, I know what is going on/in my skin.
Another decision I made was that my body washing product would double as my shaving product, thus cutting down on the amount of products I’d need to use. And I found that my homemade soaps work just as well as a shaving cream because they lather well–and smell nice, too!
If you really are into organic cleaning, you can learn how to make your own cleaners with essential oils. Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition, has wonderful information about how to use essential oils for many uses, including home cleaners.
If you’re not into the Ma Kettle mode yet, you can research and purchase more ‘green’ products like Mrs. Meyer’s. I have used the hand soaps, all-purpose cleaners and tile and tub cleaner from time to time. I love the scents like Basil and Honeysuckle. The company also has seasonal scents like Peppermint and Orange and Clove. It was because of the Orange and Clove hand soap that I then made my own mix of the same essential oils to diffuse in my home!
I purchased Woolsie’s dryer balls, and I won’t ever use a dryer sheet again. The dryer balls work just as well, and because I do love smells, I just add a few drops of an essential oil on the dryer balls to get a healthy smell in my clothing. There are unscented dryer sheets, but I perfer the dryer balls since they last a longer time than the sheets.
For washing my clothes, I use fragrance-free detergents. My clothes are clean without harsh chemicals or perfumes.
For the dishwasher, I am still mainstream with Finish dishwasher tabs. I tried a ‘green’ brand–I can’t remember which one–but found that they didn’t seem to clean as well. I’m still on the hunt for a product that I like, and I’m sure I’ll find one.
Healthy Personal Products
Deodorants that didn’t burn or were effective were hard to find. Tom’s brand would burn, and Kiss My Face brand didn’t seem to work at all for me. But then I tried a brand called Crystal Essence. I purchased both a roll-on and stick, and both seem to work well for me. I also use Tom’s toothpastes and mouthwashes.
And while I’m not a big make-up person, I do like to make myself look a little more glamourous from time to time. But it’s been challenging to find ‘green’ make up that isn’t expensive. I love Burt’s Bees lip products, and was happy to find recently that in addition to their lip balms, some stores also carry blush, eye shadow, and mascara.
Making the Healthy Switch
I knew it would be super expensive to just toss all my soaps, cleaners, lotions, deodorants, and make-up all at once. I also didn’t know how my body would react to certain products, or how well they would actually perform. So, I’d purchase one or two items to test at a time.
Three years later, I’m happy that I made the changes that I did. Much like my health returning, going green has been a gradual process, but I’m satisified that I have started to replace the more chemical-laden products that we use for ones that are a little more green.
Have you thought about going more green? If you have, share your story.
Yours in Lyme Adventures,