Why is it so important to you to make your products with all natural ingredients?
Last week someone asked me this question. I had a biology-based answer for her right away. My main training is in science and the health professions, after all.
It was such a good question though, and it seems like I've been thinking of a new reasons why I choose natural, herbal, ingredients every day since then.
Today, in this second of three posts on the topic, my reasons for using natural ingredients are all interconnected. I can't talk about one of these topics without discussing the rest. So buckle up, friends. First, here is your periodic reminder that if you have an issue going on with your body, consult your physician. I'm a nurse, not a doctor. Listen to your doctor.
Moving on. It's not a surprise to hear that natural ingredients are easier to work with in the kitchen. It's easier to make a homemade stew than it is to make a Pop Tart or an Oreo, right? Real food is also better for you to eat than food full of artificial (made in a lab) additives (chemicals) and preservatives (more chemicals).
It's my view that, most of the time, its better to keep the products you put on your body (and the foods you put in your body) as natural as possible. As I discussed in my previous post, I believe that natural botanical ingredients are often safer for the human body to assimilate than those that contain petroleum products, for example.
I've also talked before about my desire to learn how to care for myself, just in case medical care wasn't available to me. I'm the kind of person who's had the book How to Stay Alive in the Woods for years... I like to know how to do things to take care of myself (and those around me) in emergencies. For example, here's a look at my bookshelf:
Nice fish in the background, right? Oh yeah, and I went to nursing school. ;-)
Some people think I'm a banana for cultivating my two small businesses instead of going right into nursing full time. I'm like, whatever, I'm more useful in an emergency than many people. I know you want me on your team... Out loud I say, “Can I help you put that refrigerator in your truck?”
I like making herbal medicines because they are made with whole plants, which quite often are found on beautiful hikes I take in nature...below are some pics of me and my friends on a hike in the Sedona area. This is where I find most of the juniper berries I use for my herbal tonics.
...and I love that there is always more for me to learn about the natural world.
Why is it so important to you to make your products with all natural ingredients?
Last week someone asked me this question. I had a scientific/biology-based answer for her right away. It was such a good question though, and it seems like I've been thinking of a new reason every day since then.
First reason: It's harder to heal when you're dealing with pollution.
Our skin is our largest organ. It is semi-impermeable, but it's not impenetrable. This means it can keep out most big things, like microbes. But small things, like molecules, pass through the pores or between skin cells and get inside our bodies.
Did you know that at the outside of our skin (from the outside edge to .25-.4 mm deep), nearly all our cells are supplied with oxygen via diffusion through the skin?
Different molecules can pass through our skin at different rates, depending on many different factors.
And so a lot of the stuff you put on the outside of your skin, winds up inside your body to a certain extent.
Lotions, creams, cosmetics, even nail polish gets inside us to varying degrees when we use them. A lot of conventional cosmetics and salves contain carrier oils that are derived from petroleum products such as mineral oil, petrolatum, or paraffin wax. These ingredients make products smooth and help them spread evenly across your skin, they are also by-products of the gas industry. It's debatable how good they are for your body. This much, however, is true: your body has no use for petroleum molecules and once they are absorbed inside the body, the body needs to use energy to get them out.
Our body, [Thanks, Liver!] finds ways to deal with these petroleum-based ingredients, distribute them, and eliminate them if possible. But just like with any other kind of pollution, disposing of wastes requires work and energy; energy that could be best spent solving your original problem.
I can understand not being too choosy about the ingredients when you're looking for a great foundation, or some awesome Halloween makeup. But if you're using something everyday, or you're using it to heal an injury, I think it's best to use all natural ingredients.
According to Natural Healing, when the body is having a problem, the best thing to do is to give the body cells what they need to solve the problem. The herbs that I infuse my olive oil with contain nutrients cells need to facilitate the body's healing processes. The oils and waxes I use (olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and beeswax) are all natural. Humans have used these ingredients for millennia because our bodies are able to assimilate them easily. Our cells can use them for food and spare parts to repair cell structures.
When deciding if something is natural enough to go into one of my salves, I ask myself a serious question, “Would I eat it?”
I'm not talking large quantities here, it's just, if I wouldn't feel comfortable putting something in my mouth, I wouldn't feel comfortable encouraging someone else to use it on their body. (see my earlier blog post regarding herbal snuff).
I truly believe in the healing power of plants and I make remedies to solve problems, not to create a chronic need. I try to create a remedies to solve problems using herbs. Whether these problems are skin deep (Tear Repair) or deeper (WOD Balm Muscle), I want all the ingredients I use to feed skin and body cells so they can solve the problem.
And at the same time as I'm trying to heal something, I don't want to force my body to figure out how it's also going to assimilate a thin coating of motor oil, you know?
Suffice it to say, none of my salves taste very good, but all of them are 100% edible.
Here's a piece about my philosophy when it comes to natural healing...and a little peek behind the scenes of a natural healing treatment I did with a friend of mine quite recently.
I like things that work. I like powerful experiences. I'm kind of an intense person, I guess.
Shortly before I started crossfitting, I'd run two marathons in one year. That's a little bit intense, right?
Years earlier, I'd started learning about the power and effectiveness of Herbal healing, as I discussed in my blog last week..
When I was in my 20s, I started studying herbs in order to be prepared to treat myself in case of emergencies, financial or otherwise. I was funny back then. For a while, I wore a fanny pack full of tinctures and other remedies around with me everywhere I went. [I know, cool, right? Lol]
Anyway, I was constantly reading about using herbs to treat emergency-type situations. So I never really got into gentle tonic remedies. Not really my style. I wanted to fix problems, like yesterday if possible, today at the latest.
One herbal remedy from the old days that I still dust off from time to time is called Herbal Snuff. It's a remedy for sinus infections and it is not for the faint of heart. But it works, usually on the first try.
The other day I heard on the internet that my friend Carly was having a sinus infection...I texted her, “I have something that will cure your sinus infection in one dose. But it's kind of intense.”
“I want it,” Carly texted back.
'It's like an intense, spicy little salad for the inside of your schnoz.'
Carly is a crossfitter, she's pretty intense in the athletics department. I knew she could handle this, but once I explained what I had in mind, would she still be game? It turns out, she's pretty damn daring and didn't run out of my apartment when I described what was coming next.
Herbal snuff contains four ingredients: Bayberry Root Bark, Goldenseal Root, Garlic, and Cayenne...and you put them up your nose. Bayberry root bark is an astringent, it dries up the tissues up inside and will helps them to be less swollen. Goldenseal root kills bad microbes. So does Garlic.
Cayenne is the magical ingredient that calls in the cavalry by drawing extra circulation to the area. Soon there will be more white blood cells around with their healing powers, and added circulation will bring extra nutrition and remove wastes. These herbs all support the healing process.
The herbs are dried and finely powdered. You make a two little piles of it the size of your pinkie fingernail, you make a little straw out of a post-it note, and you snort it as hard and as far up your nose as you possibly can. It's an experience like no other.
It's terribly uncomfortable, that is true. But I like to think about it like I'm feeding the inside of my nose a spicy little salad.
[Disclaimer: Although I am a Registered Nurse, I'm not a Doctor and I'm absolutely not prescribing this remedy to you, Friends on the Internet. Definitely ask your doctor first before you do anything. Do a some additional research on your own. And don't ever do anything you don't want to do. Period.]
If an area of your body is hurting or infected, you need to feed it something powerful to bring the body's full attention to that spot. Herbal Snuff does just that, but very few are willing. This is because the last thing you want near your nose when you're feeling full and raw and tender inside is Cayenne Pepper that's why! It's crazy.
“Here's the thing,” I told Carly finally, “Once you do the first nostril, don't wait or stop or think, just do the other side right away. The longer you wait to do the second nostril, the harder it will be to make yourself do what you need to do.”
Her eyes widened, indicating an emotion approaching alarm.
I continued, “And once you get it inside your nose, you're gonna want to blow it out right away. Don't,” I advised. “The longer you can keep it inside the better it will work. Let's go for 5 minutes.”
“Ok,” Carly nodded in my direction. “”Show me how it's done.”
Well I had told her I would keep her company on this journey, so I pulled the plate with my little piles of snuff on it towards me. I took a deep breath and let it all the way out. This was not going to be pleasant.
Fast forward 30 seconds. Carly and I are standing in my kitchen...jumping from one foot to another. Our eyes were tearing. Our hands formed random fists. Feet stomped. Curses were exclaimed by both of us quite loudly.
What a terrible idea.
Fast forward 1 minute. Still reeling from the feeling of cayenne all up inside our sinuses... Woo wee!
Nothing brings the present moment into focus sharper than some herbal snuff.
Every time I do the snuff it's an intense experience. I can only imagine what it's like to do it with a sinus infection (I've never had one, lol), but the snuff feels … intense... on healthy tissues too.
Not unlike some CrossFit workouts, 5 minutes seemed like 7 million hours. Then it was time to blow our noses. It burned coming out. Oh what a terrible idea that was.
More cursing and nose blowing and wiping away of tears.
“How am I ever going to be able to drive myself home?” Carly said at one point. We laughed and then the endorphins really started to kick in.
One minute later: The tears slowed down and stopped. It felt warm inside my nostrils and there was a bitterness in the back of my throat as the herbs made their way all the way inside me.
Five minutes later we were chatting about something or other. We'd calmed down and nearly entirely recovered. I gave Carly a little extra snuff in case she wanted to do a second dose later on. She drove off with a friendly wave.
I'm not in the herbal snuff business. Lol. No customers. Most people you meet are like Carly's husband who said, “F&%# that!” when Carly suggested they try some snuff together later that day.
But this is why I cram so many strong natural herbs into the herbal self-care products I make today. I want to make them as effective as I possibly can. This is also why salves are so great : each person can vary the intensity of their own experience based on how much salve they apply.
When I make a product, I don't want there to be any doubt about whether it works or not. To my mind, the question is not Does it work?; the question is How fast do you start to feel it working?
Effectiveness. This is why I crossfit. And this is why I make herbal products to fix crossfitter's problems and meet their self-care needs. I'm not here to mess around.
Hi my friends.
It's been some time since I was updating my site on a regular basis....oh wait...I never really was.
Well that is about to change.
I'll begin by answering a question on here that I get asked a lot:
How did you start making salves?
I became fascinated with natural medicine when I was in my mid-20s. I was a relatively healthy young person, working jobs that just didn't offer health insurance and I couldn't afford to purchase any on my own. I was one of that 1/3 of all Americans at the time. Lucky for me, I was relatively healthy and I was also still quite young. Nevertheless, I was worried about big medical bills, or worse, not being able to afford medical care at all.
In order to not get sick (and not need care), I started looking for ways to take better care of myself. I was hanging out with a hippie-artist crowd around that time and, through these interesting humans, I was introduced to the writings of Dr. Ricard Schultz, and the idea of Natural Healing. Natural Healing, an area of herbalism that contends that all diseases can be treated using herbs and natural healing treatments. Until this time it had never occurred to me that herbs and healthier food choices could be used to cure illnesses. All I new were doctors and pills.
I started studying Natural Healing with a passion. I love learning about different herbs and how they can be used to treat injuries, as well as acute and chronic illnesses.
“I made my medicines as powerful as possible and experimented on myself and my more daring friends....”
I made tinctures, and different kinds of poultices (water added to powdered herbs and applied to the skin). I made an herbal snuff (that contains cayenne and garlic) for sinus infections. I made my medicines as powerful as possible and experimented on myself and my more daring friends. Though intense, most of the time my remedies have actually worked pretty well. Especially the Snuff...though I rarely get any takers.
After awhile, I started exercising with a higher level of intensity than I ever had before....First it was running and marathons, then it was CrossFit. For years I was sore. So sore. I started making salves in response to my soreness, so that I could apply herbs to my skin (and the muscles underneath) without the mess of using a poultice all the time.
It became my passion to keep myself healthy through a natural diet, exercise, and treating myself with herbal medicines that I make myself whenever possible...and sharing the medicines I made and the things I learn with people in my small circle of friends. All the while I was working full time jobs that were unrelated to my passions for herbalism, intense exercise, and natural living.
“I didn't know it at the time, but when I started crossfitting in 2009, everything was about to change.”
I didn't know it at the time, but when I started crossfitting in 2009, everything was about to change.
I developed a confidence in myself that I'd never felt before and I got the courage to strike out on my own.
Since then, I've opened a CrossFit box (with a great friend). I also went back to school and got a graduate degree in Nursing (go Wildcats) while still working full time at the gym.
I started bringing in my sore muscle salve to share with my gym members. Then they started requesting in. One particularly tough day of nursing school this thought popped into my head: “When I get done with nursing school, I'm going to start my own company and call it WOD Balm.”
Seriously, that actually happened.
Three months after graduating nursing school and one month after passing my boards, I started this business. And it has been a labor of love ever since.
Thanks for taking the time to read this today. I look forward to sharing more of my stories on here very regularly.