Working Towards a More Sustainable Mouth Care Regime

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This year, I am slowly transitioning to a more sustainable mouth care regime! First however, I am using up what I have already until it is all gone and I will replace those items with more sustainable options or DIY solutions! I made the switch to bamboo toothbrushes over a year ago, as well as a more natural toothpaste. I also incorporate other steps into my routine – read on to learn more!

Bamboo Toothbrush:

  • bamboo is easily sustainably harvested
  • bamboo is naturally antimicrobial
  • bamboo handles are completely biodegradable & you can recycle the bristles (you can compost the handle & it will decompose naturally)
  • bamboo grows quickly & is easy to renew
  • there is no recycling program for plastic toothbrushes
  • Plastic products end up devastating the environment, human & animal health (as seen here)

Natural Toothpaste:

  • there are so many DIY toothpaste recipes on Pinterest
    • for example: 1/2 cup coconut oil, 3 tbsp baking soda, 1 tbsp xylitol, 10 drops of food grade essential oil (usually peppermint, orange, etc).
  • regular toothpaste is usually full of harmful ingredients
  • natural toothpastes have natural sweeteners, while regular toothpastes have artificial sweeteners
  • natural toothpaste does not contain fluoride
  • regular toothpaste is tested on animals, natural toothpaste is not
  • natural toothpaste can clean your teeth just as well as regular toothpaste
  • the brand I have pictured is Nelson Naturals, a product that is made in Canada, not tested on animals and is in a glass jar with tin lid (purchased at Dad’s Organic Market)

Activated Charcoal:

Activated charcoal is usually found in natural mouth care products for numerous reasons:

  • activated charcoal whitens teeth naturally by removing stains
  • activated charcoal changes pH balance in the mouth & results in better oral health
  • activated charcoal helps to prevent cavities, gum disease and bad breath
  • however, activated charcoal is MESSY – usually requires clean up after use or some will only brush with activated charcoal in the shower

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There are multiple companies now that provide kits that include products with activated charcoal that is safe to use. I was sent a Carbon Coco kit – which is focused around the activated charcoal ingredient. Their products are 100% safe to use and provide a natural and healthy way to remove stains from your teeth – no harmful chemicals! I dip a wet toothbrush into the charcoal powder and brush for my teeth for 3 minutes – I am sure to be gentle & not scrub my teeth. I spit out the charcoal, which always requires cleanup afterward, then finish with brushing my teeth with the activated charcoal toothpaste for 3 minutes. My teeth feel so clean afterward! After oil pulling in the mornings and using these products at night, my teeth definitely are whiter after only 2 weeks! The Carbon Coco products are great, as they offer a natural whitening solution – however I would personally love to see them switch to more sustainable packaging and bamboo toothbrushes.

Oil Pulling:

  • use 1-2tbs of organic extra virgin coconut oil in the morning and swish it around for 20 minutes (I do this while in the shower or while doing my makeup)
  • Make sure not to swallow the oil, also make sure to spit the oil out in the garbage afterward as coconut oil will clog drains
  • oil pulling removes bad bacteria, prevents plaque, gum disease, cavities & gingivitis
  • oil pulling whitens teeth naturally and detoxifies your mouth
  • oil pulling is actually a holistic treatment for TMJ
  • follow by brushing your teeth with a natural toothpaste & you can follow up with a warm salt water rinse

Bentonite Clay:

  • this clay is able to absorb toxins & is full of strengthening minerals
  • bentonite clay neutralizes bad bacteria
  • is usually found in natural DIY solutions, such as tooth powder (a great recipe can be found here)
  • it is important not to use metal around bentonite clay – use a wooden spoon instead

Zero-Waste Dental Floss:

  • regular dental floss is made from nylon and is in a plastic container (nylon and plastic are derived from crude oil)
  • nylon dental floss is tear-proof so animals get stuck and killed by dental floss regularly
  • an alternative is silk floss with beeswax or candellila wax (one example is Dental Lace) OR a water pik.

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I hope this inspires you to make more sustainable choices when it comes to your mouth care routine!

– Tiara

Living with Endometriosis (part two)

On Thursday November 2nd, 2017 I went into surgery to have a Laparoscopy to remove multiple cysts, endometriomas (chocolate cysts) and scar tissue which resulted from severe stage 4 Endometriosis. This has been a difficult time in my life. I decided to write about my disease, with the hope that I can provide an informative read for those who might also have the same disease or know someone with it. I hope that it can help others to feel more informed about the procedure so they can mentally prepare more than I was able to. Part one can be found here.


THE WEEK BEFORE SURGERY

The week before my surgery date, I went to my doctor to fill out a pre-op form. There was no prep for this surgery, except I was suppose to stop eating and drinking at midnight before my surgery. I also had to make sure not to take any ibuprofen or supplements with willow/salix a week before surgery, as they are blood thinners. I had no idea what to expect or how to mentally prepare for this procedure.


HOW TO PREP FOR SURGERY  

  • remove all nail polish.
  • remove all jewelry and piercings.
  • go makeup free to the hospital
  • wear loose and baggy clothing to the hospital, ensure no high-waisted items are worn (very low-rise underwear and sweat pants).
  • buy cough candies (as your throat will hurt and get dry after surgery due to the tube they insert down your throat and the last thing you want is to have to cough after surgery).
  • ensure that you have lots of pads on hand (you cannot use tampons for a month afterward – nor will you want to. I recommend Natracare).
  • buy a laxative, as the medication and surgery will make it really difficult to go to the bathroom after, I recommend RestoraLAX as it is really gentle.
  • have lots of food around that is gentle on your stomach and high in liquids (soup, applesauce, smoothies, etc).
  • practice with the person who will be taking care of you how to help you in and out of bed – they should put their arm behind your back to lower you slowly with all your weight on their arm and then they should put their arm out when you want to get up so you can use your arm strength only to pull yourself up and then they will have to help you lift and lower your legs – basically find something that works for the both of you that requires no abdomen muscles. (If the surgery is just a searching procedure you probably will not need this level of help, however after having an invasive surgery I definitely needed someone to help me in and out of bed for 2 weeks after surgery).
  • have a bag full of stuff you’ll need, like a phone charger, soup, etc. ready for the day of surgery.

THE DAY OF SURGERY

The day of my surgery, I had to be at admitting at 8:00am. I was given my own bed in a room with someone else awaiting surgery that day as well. I was given a dress and a robe to change into – no bra or underwear allowed. Ask the nurse assigned to your room to provide you with a container or a bag to place items that need to be with you up until the surgery if needed (like eyeglasses). I had blood-work taken, then I laid in bed until 11:45am, when I was finally called for my surgery. I was so tired and hungry that this wait passed slowly, I recommend bringing a book or some form of entertainment. I was walked into a room right outside of the operation room where I had multiple professionals come and talk to me and ask if I had any questions. The whole time I was trying to suppress my emotions and rising anxiety as they explained the procedure and the risks associated with it. I had to sign some forms then I was walked into the operating room.

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  • SURGERY PROCEDURE

At this point, they removed my glasses so everything gets a little foggy (literally). I had about 8 people in the operating room to assist the surgeon with the procedure. I had an IV inserted then an oxygen mask placed over my nose and mouth. Everyone was very friendly and helped to make me feel as comfortable as I could possibly feel. They covered me in a heated blanket and then I was out.

For this next part, I am summarizing the operative procedure report that I received after surgery – just a warning, it gets pretty graphic.

After I was given a general anesthetic, I was positioned properly, sanitized and compression stockings were put on my legs. A catheter was inserted into my bladder and a speculum was placed into the vagina as the cervix was grasped with a tenaculum, then the cervix was dilated. A uterine manipulator was then inserted through the cervix and into the uterus. Then they inflated my uterus and lower abdomen with gas. 4 incisions were made, one in my bellybutton, 2 on my left side and one on my right side. The smaller incisions were about 5mm large, and the bellybutton incision was about an inch long. From here the surgeon inserted a camera and the tools they needed to manipulate the organs and remove the disease.

First the surgeon mobilized my bowels out of my pelvis, which helped to examine the organs. Here it was noticed that I had bilateral endometriomas and extensive adhesions tethering my ovaries to my pelvic sidewalls. My ovaries were observed to each be bigger than my uterus due to the endometriosis wrapped around them. My ovaries were mobilized and drained large amounts of endometriosis fluid which they suctioned out. Two ovarian cystectomies were performed. My cysts (that ranged from 6cm in size and smaller) were pierced and excised. The surgeon continued to cut out all of the endometriosis that tethered my organs to each other and my pelvic wall. Then very thick and nodular endometriosis was removed off of my bladder and ureters by blunt and sharp dissection. The surgeon then removed lots of endometriosis off of ligaments, internal cavities and made multiple other dissections to try and access and remove everywhere that the disease had spread. The surgeon had to use coagulation and Interceed in many areas due to the extensive amount of material that was removed. There is about 2 more pages detailing the rest of the procedures that were performed, however this is because I had a very severe case of endometriosis – so I will skip them. Then, the surgeon found a 2cm nodular cyst on my right bowel that she had to leave because it will require another surgery and a diverting colostomy, however she was able to remove the rest of my disease. Normal surgeries are 1 hour long, however mine was about 3 hours.


  • AFTER SURGERY

I remember waking up in recovery and getting asked how much pain I felt, on a scale from 1 to 10. It was definitely 10 but I said “6 or 7” because I knew that the amount of medication that they would give me would only make me feel worse later (more nauseous and groggy). I was in and out of it for a while. The next thing I remember is waking up back in the room, with the nurse giving me a cup of water. It was 4pm. My surgeon had left a handwritten note for me to read, which I greatly appreciated during that time. I slowly drank some water then fell asleep again. I woke up about an hour later and the nurse wanted me to try to pee. I cannot imagine what my face looked like as I looked up at her but I was horrified at the thought of having to move. I also knew I wasn’t going to be able to pee, however she was persistent. She put out her arm and I used my ARMS ONLY to get into a sitting position, which then she let me sit and told me to do some deep breathing. After 30 seconds, she helped me stand and I shuffled over to the toilet. I could not sit down due to the extreme pain so she had to lower me onto the toilet (at this point a burp just burst forth and she laughed and said that was normal and a good sign that my body was trying to expel the gas that was pumped into me). I could not pee, however there was a lot of blood. She gave me a pair of hospital underwear and a pad and helped me back to my bed.

The pain I felt after moving for the first time I will never forget. I have been through multiple surgeries in my life, and had to deal with severe endometriosis pain for 5 years, but never have I felt pain like that. I couldn’t help but cry out in pain after. It felt like someone was mixing my abdomen up with a knife then repeatedly stabbing it. This is the part I wish I could have mentally prepared for – I would suggest sitting down with yourself in front of a mirror a week or so before the surgery and just saying “I will be in extreme pain, but I will get through it, I will heal” or something… because that was hell. I laid still for some time and tried to eat some soup. Make sure that you only eat VERY LIGHT FOOD for the first 2-3 days after surgery. Lots of liquids and soup. This will ensure that you do not vomit and also will help to get your bowels moving again as well. At 8pm the nurse woke me up again and helped me to pee. I was finally able to pee, so I was sent home. The first few times you pee, you will feel a terrible burn – this is due to the catheter that was stuck up into the bladder. The drive home was painful (if you are the driver try to drive slow and avoid bumps). If you are helping someone who just had this surgery, please be gentle with them and be patient… I am going to say it again… patience is greatly appreciated during this time. 

I got all set up in my bed, I had about 6 or 7 stacked pillows so I could lay like I could in the hospital bed (you’re going to want to do this, as lying flat is not recommended for about 1-2 weeks after surgery). At 9pm I just laid there with tears falling down my face – I was having such a hard time processing everything, all the pain, all the fear and how much I felt like I couldn’t get through this. I stayed like that for about 3 hours, I think I was in shock and it was my body’s way of trying to cope.

Make sure while you are in a good state of mind that you (or someone else) writes down and organizes all of the times you need to take medication and the pain killers and set alarms ahead of time because you do not want to fall behind on taking them.

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WEEK 1 AFTER SURGERY 

Let me tell you, the entire week after my surgery was hell. It seemed like there was no improvements whatsoever as each day progressed. I want to reinstate the fact that I had a severe case and a lot of work done, so not everyone’s experience will be this bad. However, the take home points are:

  • do not sit up or lay down yourself, get someone to help you.
    • do not use your abs whatsoever, only use your arms to get you up and down.
  • When sitting up, or sitting in general, do not lean forward or crunch your stomach or hunch over in any way.
  • for the first week I only wore a nightgown and hospital underwear, so ensure that you have baggy t-shirts or a loose dress with loose underwear that you can wear for maximum comfort.
  • you will bleed for about a week after surgery, due to the uterine manipulator being inserted during surgery. As long as it is not very heavy, you do not need to worry (if you are filling a pad/hour go to your local emergency room).
  • While I slept, I would lay on my back and tuck my hands under my bum – just so there was no chance that while sleeping I would roll or that my arms would hit my incisions.
  • your body will try to get rid of all of the gas that was pumped into it, however it is way too painful to expel gas, so the only way you can help yourself is in-between napping, walk around for 5 minutes (I paced my living room) then I would sleep for a few hours and repeat. It helped to get the gas moving and it was easier to deal with when standing/walking.
    • speaking of gas, you will experience pain in your shoulders and shoulder blades, as that is trapped gas. Again, walking around very slowly is about all you should do during the first week – it will help.
  • take your medications on time.
  • Do not feel guilty about resting. Sleep as often and as much as you can. Lay around – as boring as it is. Do not push yourself – I got bored during week 2 after surgery and started to do things I should not have been doing and I herniated my bellybutton incision – a painful experience that I don’t want to happen to anyone.

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WEEK 2 AFTER SURGERY 

After 10 or 11 days I ran out of morphine to take, and my body went through a withdrawal period for 3 days afterward. I was really scared that I had gotten an infection, however I monitored my actual temperature and it stayed at 36.8ºC. I felt very cold then very hot, very nauseous, had bad headaches and got very angry and short tempered – it took 3 days for that to wear off.

Two weeks after surgery is when I came off a lot of my medication and I felt a little more raw. The pain and the emotions were more noticeable. I started to feel very sad, abandoned and lonely. The friends and family I thought would reach out to me didn’t, and I felt utterly and completely forgotten. I would just lay in bed in pain and wish someone would talk to me – I was so miserable. I think that maybe some people did not realize what I was going through, so they did not understand – however if you know someone who is going through this surgery – please reach out to them and ask if you can get them anything, or hang out with them, or even call them. It will be greatly appreciated as this time is a very emotionally draining experience.


WEEK 3 AFTER SURGERY

Standing for long periods of time was very difficult and walking was a slow procedure. I tried going to class for the first time and I found sitting very difficult and uncomfortable – I would come home and lay in bed for the rest of the day as I was so exhausted from that minimal activity. I still felt pain and was still a little bloated/swollen. I was so exhausted during this period that I was not myself during the times I had to be out or in class – I was grumpy and irritable and had little patience. I was so uncomfortable and tired and had no motivation to be involved with anything at this point.


FIRST PERIOD AFTER SURGERY

The first time I got my period after surgery, I was so upset because for the first time I was starting to feel a tiny bit better – then my period knocked me out for a week. Expect a very heavy flow with lots of clots (TMI I know…but apparently it is normal). It was very painful, and the pain actually spread into my hips, thighs, abdomen and chest. The first 2 days I actually could not go to school. It lasted 9 days and I spent most of it lying in bed with a hot pack and extra-strength Tylenol.


3 MONTHS AFTER SURGERY

Here I am, writing this three months after my surgery. I am still insanely exhausted and my immune system is very low. My surgeon told me to expect waiting 5-6 months after surgery to get my energy levels back. I am finally able to move around more and wear jeans. I have started physical therapy twice a week because the surgeon and physical therapist discovered that after my surgery, my body went into shock and my organs went still and all of my surrounding muscles freaked out as well. I see two physical therapists each week, one who specializes in working with my uterus and pelvic floor health and another one who helps me with everything else (correcting my posture that I had adapted to feel less pain, learning how to properly use my muscles in the surrounding areas, and ensuring safe movement with my hernia). Physical therapy is a HUGE help – highly recommended (but expensive – so save up before surgery).

Every night I put some oil on my incisions and gently rub them – this is to make the scar tissue more malleable. I do the gentle exercises my physical therapists have told me to do each day and I try to sleep as much as I can. I still sometimes feel pain or an uncomfortable feeling in my abdomen, which is to be expected. School is difficult as my energy levels are still quite low, but I am managing. Each week I heal more, and each day I realize how proud I am of myself for getting through the most difficult thing I have gone through in my life.


CURRENT TREATMENT

The current “treatment” I am on is to take CYCLEN every single day until I reach menopausal age. Taking this pill every single day is suppose to stop me from getting periods ever again – however, instead I have been spotting every single day for the past month and a half. I also think this is the worst kind of “treatment” because women with Endometriosis have too much estrogen in their bodies and there is nothing being done too deal with this excess amount of estrogen. I am worried about this treatment – it troubles me daily. I will make sure to write up updated post if/when my treatment changes.


Here is the end of this very lengthy post – if you have made it to the end, thank you for taking your time to read this. It is my hope that awareness is spread about this disease and that a better treatment is found. Part one of this post can be found here.

– Tiara

Living with Endometriosis (part one)

On Thursday November 2nd, 2017 I went into surgery to have a Laparoscopy to remove multiple cysts, endometriomas (chocolate cysts) and scar tissue which resulted from severe stage 4 Endometriosis. This has been a difficult time in my life. I decided to write about my disease and experience, with the hope that I can provide an informative read for those who might also have the same disease or know someone with it.


WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS

Endometriosis is a disease of the endocrine and immune systems that is under-researched, not well-known, and misunderstood. It is a chronic disease which causes unbearable pain, due to a similar tissue to the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, growing on the outside of the uterus. The misplaced tissue grows and attaches onto other organs in the body. With each period, all of the tissue outside of the uterus fills with blood, however the blood and tissue in the endometrial growths have no way of draining. Instead, internal bleeding, inflammation and scar tissue develop and cause severe pain, infertility, bowel issues, adhesions and other side-effects, including chronic fatigue, immune disorders and allergies. The only way to determine if endometriosis is present is by a laparoscopy, which normally includes a camera being inserted through a small incision to allow the surgeon to look around the internal cavity.


ROAD TO DIAGNOSIS 

2012: My symptoms started to begin. I kept getting sick or getting infections that I could not fight off and I would need multiple treatments of antibiotics. Several other symptoms blossomed. I went through a point where I would make a doctor’s appointment every month and I would sit there and explain all of my symptoms, begging to be listened to. I was told I had an anxiety disorder that caused me to develop “health anxiety” or “illness anxiety disorder” and that I had painful periods, like any other woman, and that I should take more Advil. My doctor told me that my health anxiety would cause me to believe that the symptoms “in my head” were real and that I actually did not have anything wrong with me.

2013: I started to experience a great deal of pain and other disturbances within my intestines and lower abdomen. Multiple symptoms lead me to have an iodine test, which resulted in specialists discovering that I had a multi-nodular thyroid goitre.2014

2014: In my first year of university, I had to leave class because I had fainted due to the extreme pain I felt in my lower abdomen. I went into ER only to have a doctor tell me that I probably had a cyst rupture and that all women have cysts that rupture – that it was a natural process. I was told to take an extra-strength Advil.

2015: I experienced even more extremely painful periods and for the first time I was experiencing pain in-between my periods as well. My periods lasted for 8 to 9 days and were very heavy. I started to experience extreme fatigue even though I was sleeping 8 hours a night. My hormone blood-work was getting unusual flags, which resulted in getting an MRI of my brain to see if I had any tumors that were impacting my pituitary gland. Nothing was found, so I was told that it was a mystery as to why my hormones were so out of whack. I also had a colonoscopy done to determine what was causing all of my intestinal issues – from the inside, my intestines were reported to look normal.

2016: I complained about pelvic pain so often that a urine test was always ordered. There was blood in every urine sample I gave, however since my kidney blood-work was fine, I was told that might be “my normal” to have blood in my urine. I started to realize that I was not able to hold my bladder for longer than 30 minutes and it started to be a huge inconvenience.

I hit my low in the end of 2016. I was so depressed that I would curl up in bed and cry for hours at a time. Horrific thoughts and feelings followed me everywhere. My hair was falling out, my skin was peeling, I had no energy whatsoever, my abdomen would bloat so severely that I had a walk-in doctor think I was 6-months pregnant, I was getting sick all the time, my stomach and intestines constantly hurt and I truly believed that I was going to die. I was told that all of these symptoms were a result from my anxiety and depression. However, I knew something was wrong with me. I knew that something was causing my anxiety and depression, and not the other way around. I have never felt so lost and scared as I did during those months. I decided to go off the birth control pill that I had been on, which helped with my depression (and it was not helping at all with my growing cysts anyway). I decided that as a last resort I was going to pay to see a naturopath. I brought a 2-inch thick binder full of all of my previous tests and blood-work and in a very short time my naturopath had put the entire puzzle together. She sent me for a detailed blood allergy test – it came back saying I was highly allergic to dairy, gluten (both of which I knew already) but also nuts, seeds, all grains, legumes, eggs, soy, potatoes and corn. All of these foods were causing high amounts of inflammation in my body. She told me that these were the allergies that she would normally see in someone with an autoimmune disease, hence, I started my strict Autoimmune Paleo AIP diet. She also thought that with all my other symptoms that I might have Endometriosis. I quit eating all of those foods cold turkey – I felt a difference the next day. However, I was still not feeling 100%, so she told me to set up an appointment with a gynecologist, and so I did.

2017

2017: I had such immense pain almost all of the time in my abdomen and lower back. I had developed an unusual lump on the left side of my abdomen that had a burning sensation if I pressed hard enough on it. I went for an ultrasound and I was told that I had a hernia. 5 months later I saw a physician specializing in hernias. She told me that she didn’t think it was a hernia and to try hot compresses because it was probably a strained muscle. I had to be very firm with her and I finally convinced her that she should refer me for an MRI. I was put on the end of a long waiting list and months later I had an MRI. A week later the hernia surgeon called me and said “Well, there is no evidence of a hernia, however I think I know what was causing the hernia sensation. There is a significant cyst in that area, as well as several others in your abdomen. You need to make an appointment with another specialist to get this removed as soon as possible, this is a severe case and I believe it is Endometriosis.” There was that word again. Luckily, my gynecologist appointment I had made nearly a year ago was a few days later. I told my gynecologist all of my symptoms and she said she was confident that I had endometriosis and she gave me a form to sign for the Laparoscopic surgery. I was then put on another waiting list, however once the MRI was sent to her, I had a surgery date set up within two months.

Pre-Operation Form: a week before my surgery, I went to my doctor to get a pre-op form completed. She told me that I would probably need one singular day off of school (for my case, this was very incorrect). There was no preparation for this surgery except I had to start fasting at 12AM.

November 2, 2017: over half a decade later, at 22 years of age, I was finally going for surgery to remove the disease that had been negatively impacting my quality of life for so long. The surgery and recovery is the most difficult and painful thing I have ever gone through in my life. This disease needs to be taken more seriously and recognized quicker by physicians. [pre and post-surgery details will be discussed in part two]. 

NOV2017


WHAT CAUSES ENDOMETRIOSIS

There are multiple theories on what causes Endometriosis. The body is a very complex system and difficult to understand. However research has shown that exposure to dioxins, found in synthetic chemicals, is directly related to causing endometriosis to develop. These toxins are commonly found in pesticides, herbicides, all plastics, paint, fire retardants and some industrial oils. These chemicals are widely and continually distributed in the environment – and with the increased use of these chemicals, there has been an increase in the amount and severity of Endometriosis. it is clear, now more than ever, that they have negative impacts on the environment, humans and animals and the use of them must be limited or discontinued completely.

Pesticides, herbicides, plastics, flame retardants and pharmaceuticals all have one thing in common, they are all Endocrine Disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals, usually synthetic chemicals, that impact the endocrine system at very low levels of exposure. These endocrine disruptors are absorbed into the human body by the intestines, respiratory system and skin. These endocrine disruptors are also distributed to the fetus during pregnancy through the bloodstream and afterward through breast milk (dioxins bioaccumulate in the body). Endocrine disruptors severely impact the developing fetus and young children the most, as humans are most sensitive during their developmental stages. The damage caused cannot be undone. Endocrine Disruptors mimic estrogen, have negative impacts on hormone levels, development & sexual characteristics, cause low reproduction rates or infertility, cause an impaired immune system, forms of cancer, and endometriosis


EXPOSURE TO ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS 

Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, humans are creating their own destruction however, they have the mindset that whatever is man-made must be a miracle. There seems to be no way to escape dioxins, as they are readily created, sold and companies even try to manipulate and lie to consumers about the hidden health concerns their products have. Dioxins are also very persistent. However, there are some ways to decrease dioxin absorption:

Since dioxins bioaccumulate, they are able to concentrate in the food chain. Limiting the amount of meat, fish and dairy products you consume and replacing them with organically grown plant products will limit the amount of dioxins our intestines absorb. If your budget does not include the purchasing of organic produce, there are proper ways of cleaning and removing the outside layers of fruits and vegetables to lower the amount of herbicides and pesticides ingested.

With the high amounts of air pollution that occur today, it is difficult to protect ourselves from air contaminated with dioxins (from pesticides, herbicides, chemical burning & much more). If you know an area has recently been sprayed with any type of chemical it would be best to avoid that area altogether or to use proper safety equipment.

A large part of dioxins are absorbed through water intake. Humans need water to live, and our dependence on plastics has gone too far. Every time plastic is purchased, large portions of it gets deposited in the environment. Plastic sitting in soil or in waterbodies leaches dioxins. Also, every time a man-made fibre is washed (clothes made of polyester and the like), it releases plastic microfibres into our water systems. These plastic microfibres accumulate in our drinking water and the animals and plants that we consume. Then the dioxins are directly absorbed into our bodies. The age of plastic needs to end.

Any type of bleached product exposes us to dioxins. Tampons and pads made from bleached cotton or synthetic fibres (plastic) contain dioxins. It is recommended that women start to use unbleached alternatives that do not have plastic applicators. When I used to get periods (now I have been artificially induced into menopause) I would purchase Natracare products only.


FUTURE HEALTH 

Treatment options for endometriosis need to be researched and improved. The current excuses for treatment of this disease are causing women more harm than good. Since my excision surgery, I am still in the process of determining a treatment plan that I am comfortable with, as right now my “treatment” is to take the birth control pill every single day until I am 65 (as children are not in the picture). This is an attempt to try to ensure that I do not get any more periods, which would result in the endometriosis returning quicker. This exposes me to incredible health risks that I am not comfortable with. Women with endometriosis also have a greater risk of developing cancer and autoimmune disorders. It is important to do yearly checkups and to make an appointment with your doctor if you are feeling off.


I am desperately hoping that more posts like this will bring a greater awareness to this disease and the toxic products that cause it. I truly do not want other women to have to suffer through this disease. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, we are natural beings that evolved from the earth, and we will return back into it. That is a natural environmental cycle that does not include synthetics. Let’s start looking out for one another and the environment. Pollution harms so much more than we know. Part Two can be found here.

– Tiara

Sustainable Gift Guide

Christmas is right around the corner, which means you are probably in the process of purchasing gifts. Finding the right gift can be stressful, however supporting local businesses and purchasing sustainably-made products has never been easier. Since what you spend your money on is essentially the type of world that you support, let’s start supporting a healthier planet. It sounds difficult, however it is really simple! Some key points are to avoid plastic items, resist fads and fast fashion and invest in products that are high quality and will have a long lifespan. Remember to bring reusable bags and avoid plastic bags while shopping!

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Shopping sustainably can be done easily, even here in Saskatoon. There are multiple stores and local businesses that provide many opportunities to shop smart, buy local and minimize your negative impact on the environment. Buying for a beauty lover? Green Tree Beauty offers sustainably made and natural cosmetics! The Farmer’s Market is a gathering of many local businesses which can help you to invest your money back into the province, rather than into large corporations. Locally owned stores like Hazlewood Vintage, Better Off Duds or 33rd Street Vintage Market, for example, are stores that offer high-quality vintage items for sale. These vintage items are very well made and still have many more years of life left in them – not to mention they are uniquely crafted! Second hand does not mean poorer quality. Most vintage items are made from natural fibres, real wood, glass, or metal, meaning that they will all naturally decompose when thrown away or that they can be safely recycled. Also, by purchasing an item second hand, you are saving a perfectly good item from the landfill, and promoting less wasteful manufacturing of new products.

 

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Another great idea is to purchase your friends or family natural products that will replace every day items that are usually made of plastic. This will not only be healthier for them, but for the planet as well.

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Some Christmas gifts do not need to be expensive at all! You can hand make your gifts! If you have some glass jars or little tin containers lying around (and if you don’t, Value Village is a great place to look) and simple ingredients found from the kitchen, DIY body scrubs, lip scrubs, lotions and other natural products are easy to make and give – Pinterest is full of recipes! Another great idea is to sew or knit something! Below, I have a picture of the reusable cotton makeup remover pads that I sewed! A handmade gift shows that the giver put some thoughtful effort into making the gift for the recipient. A promise of spending time with a friend or making special treats for someone is another way to make the season happy and memorable.

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Another important aspect about Christmas is the gift packaging. Most wrapping paper and gift bags cannot be recycled. This ends up with an unnecessarily large input going into the landfill. This can be easily avoided by switching to these following methods. Have extra pillowcases, sheets, scarves or tablecloths lying around your home? Wrap your gifts using the “furoshiki” practice. You can knot the fabric, or secure it with a broach! Fabric can be continually reused to wrap presents over and over! Another way to wrap gifts is with newspapers, paper bags, or old road maps – just insure that they are recycled afterward!

Need a stocking stuffer idea? I keep my hands looking holiday ready using natural lotions from Dad’s Organic Market and the Seche Vive Topcoat from Nail Polish Canada! I apply this topcoat initially and then 2-3 days after as well and it is the only top coat I’ve found that keeps the polish on for a week (and on my hands, that is saying something… usually I chip my nail polish in 2 days). This top coat also keeps my nails very shiny and strong! This polish offers a gel nail look without the need of a lamp. Nail Polish Canada also offers nail polishes that are toxin free, found here!

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I hope that this article helps you to make this Christmas season more sustainable and inspires you to bring that level of sustainability into all the other aspects of your life. After all, we only have one planet.

– Tiara

Love Yourself

Learning to fall in love with yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It is difficult, however I believe that truly accepting yourself is beyond valuable, precious and should be a goal you set to achieve everyday.
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Not so long ago, I fell out of love with myself due to a toxic relationship. Someone I expected to love me the most, did not return any love back to me. I felt that if I was being treated so poorly from someone I held very important in my life, and if they did not value my thoughts or feelings, then it must be because I did not deserve love and that my thoughts & feelings were not valid. Constant emotional and sexual abuse took a toll. Eventually my self esteem plummeted and I turned emotionally numb. As a result, I was miserable, depressed and prone to several anxiety attacks a day. The worst part about all of it was I thought that was acceptable. I began to look in the mirror and see someone starring back that I did not recognize. It horrified me that I could not relate to the reflection in the mirror. I began to stare at all the features I hated about myself and wonder why my reflection was so ugly. I had truly lost myself, and I did not remember who I was anymore, what I loved or what I was good at.
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When that relationship came to a destructive end, I felt broken in every way imaginable. I had put so much time, effort and love into it and in the end, I had got nothing out of it. I felt used, burnt out, and exhausted. The pain I felt was intolerable, making my anxiety and depression skyrocket – I was even hospitalized. I began to realize that the most painful part of the entire relationship was that I had spent an entire year falling out of love with myself. The emptiness surrounded me, because I had forgotten how to comfort myself.
For so long I expected the relationship to fill the emotional gaps in my life, and to make me happier. I then realized that the relationship was actually causing these gaps. One of my biggest regrets is knowing deep down that I should have ever stood for what was happening to me, but I chose to do nothing about it.
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Slowly I started making myself do activities that I remembered I used to enjoy, but never set aside time to do them. I made sure I did things that made me happy. I would watercolor for hours, spend time in nature, do yoga, listen to music, or watch my favorite movies. By doing these activities I found something so foreign to me; I found comfort. I started to discover myself again. I started to realize that I could enjoy myself and that I was a very enjoyable person. I started to look in the mirror and for the first time in a very long time, I recognized my reflection starring back. My eyes were no longer numb and emotionless, they had life and feeling.

“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously” – Sophia Bush.

Slowly, through continuous hard work I am rebuilding myself, and starting to fall in love with myself. I am still very conscious of all my multiple imperfections; however, I am now carving out my own definition of perfection. I have started to believe that I am beautiful, and often wonder why I let myself be in a situation that was so destructive to me. I won’t lie, I am still sad, and I am still confused, as any person would be when their love is so easily thrown away. However, now I am more aware of what I am capable of and I respect myself more. I feel so free and each day is a happier one. I will never let anyone treat me like that again. I did not find what I wanted in that relationship, however I found what I absolutely do not want. Through complete destruction, I am starting to find strength.
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You may be thinking, why is this a big deal? It is your responsibility to take care of yourself, and not to carry your problems with you and make them someone else’s problems. You are special, and it is my deepest wish that you read this and if you find yourself relating to any of this, then do something about your situation. You are worth it, you are strong, and you are loved.
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I urge you to set aside time to know yourself better and to be with yourself and truly admire yourself. Do not lose yourself, and do not force yourself to do something, to be with someone, or be somewhere that you aren’t happy with. Cleanse yourself of those situations that have no intentions of helping you grow into the best version of yourself. You may wonder why I have decided to put together such a personal post. It is my dream that my writing will help someone going through a similar situation. I am also proud of myself for getting to this point. It would have been much easier to let my anxiety and depression win, but I fight each and every day, because it is what I do. I encourage all of you to set aside time to partake in activities that bring you true happiness, and be truly present while you do these activities. Do not let anyone treat you poorly, remove yourself from toxic relationships and move away from those that do not seek to give anything back to you. Do not settle or stay in situations that make you feel alienated from yourself. You are so much more important than that.

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Thank you Ashley of Live Laugh Love Photography for your wonderful photography!

Love,

– Tiara

The Juice on Aloe Vera

The Juice on Aloe Vera

So even though it is snowing here in Saskatoon, I like to pretend that it is warm like Spring should be so I bought another plant. I got an Aloe Vera plant because they are quite pretty as well as very beneficial to have on hand.

General Care: An Aloe Vera plant should be planted cactus mix soil. It should also be planted in a container with drainage holes. My container did not have a drainage hole so instead I added a variety of rocks at the bottom of the container to help with better drainage. I will have to take special care not to over water it. Make sure to let the soil dry out really well between watering it, letting the soil get crumbly and light in colour. Allow the soil to dry 2 to 3 inches deep to discourage rot. Try watering it every 2 weeks and adjust to what works for you. Make sure your plant gets a lot of sunshine (if the leaves are lying flat they aren’t getting enough light and if the leaves turn brown they are getting too much light).aloevera2

Repotting: I repotted my plant into a prettier container when I got home. Make sure the container allows for a lot of room for the roots to grow. Make sure to do this outside or over an area that is easily cleaned. I added rocks to the bottom, added cactus mix, and gently loosened the roots into the new soil. Be very careful as the roots are not connected very well to the plant, the plant will wobble a bit in its new container. Try not to water it for a couple days after repotting.

Benefits: An Aloe Vera leaf is filled with a gel-like substance. This substance can be applied to burns, cuts, rashes and bug bites to relieve pain, soothe and prevent itching. Aloe Vera can also reduce the pain and swelling of acne and if applied often will help give an even skin tone. You can try replacing your lotion and replacing it with Aloe Vera gel for a great and natural moisturizer.aloevera3

How I Use It: My favourite use for Aloe Vera is using it in homemade hair masks. It deeply hydrates the scalp and hair, in return providing extremely shiny hair and no dandruff! I massage about 3 tablespoons of the gel into my scalp and use the rest on the length of my hair and let it sit for 1 hour. The crazy thing is by the end of the hour my hair is completely dry, it absorbed all the Aloe Vera! Then I shampoo and condition as usual. This can speed up hair growth and promote healthy and strong hair.

There are many different opinions about if consuming Aloe Vera gel is safe, so I choose to only use it externally. I am very impressed about how moisturizing it is and will continue to use it as a lotion and in my hair masks. Tell me what you use it for!

– Tiara

My Favourite Apps

My Favourite Apps

Yes I know, this generation uses and depends on their phones way too much. I try to be careful of how often I use mine and try to pretend it doesn’t exist when visiting, however our phones can also be a useful tool. I adore my iPhone and I have found a lot of amazing apps that I am going to share with you and here they are:

Photography
1. AfterLight
This app really covers all the bases. You can edit the colour, brightness contrast, etc. as well as great filters and light flares. You can also adjust the size of your photo and add really cute frames. This app has it all. $0.99

2. Rhonna Designs This app allows you to put many different (and very cute) designs onto your picture, allowing you to adjust the colour, size and transparency. $1.99

3. ColorSplash This app gives you the control to take any part of your picture and turn it grey or coloured, bringing more focus and attention to a particular area! $0.99

4. Waterloque This app turns any picture into a water-colour with many different water-colour techniques available! $2.99

Fitness/Health
1. Yoga Studio So I am pretty sure this app may have saved my life. I LOVE this app, it has little videos of various yoga classes at any skill level that you can select to download. Calming music plays in the background while a relaxing voice tells you what to do. Worth every cent. $2.99

2. Period Tracker Deluxe Super convenient for well, ladies, do I need to say more? (There is also a free version of this app) $1.99

3. End Anxiety this app talks you through a 30 min deep relaxation or hypnotic session to decrease anxiety and help to reroute negative thoughts. I really enjoy this app. FREE

Lifestyle
1.Buycott create change, and live more sustainably by learning about who to support when purchasing every day products! FREE

2. Think Dirty GET THIS APP. As easy as quickly scanning your body products, this app will tell you about all of the ingredients in the product. It also suggests safer products to use, and get rid of your toxic products. If you scan a product, and it is not in the database, no problem! You can submit the name and a few pictures and the product will eventually be added to their system!

3. Shazam Anytime you hear a song you like, tap this app to listen and it will tell you the song, artist, album, when it was released, the lyrics, and you have the option of looking when the next concert will be, the bio of the band, and to listen to it for free. FREE

4. Dream Pro This app records any noise throughout the night and in the morning you can listen to how you sleep, what you say, and anything else that picks up. Its kinda creepy but also somewhat funny to hear what exactly you do when you sleep. $1.99

Games/Entertainment
1. Instagram I’m addicted to this app, post pictures of what inspires you or what you see around you. Check me out at rawfashionblog

– Tiara