How to Heal Leaky Gut with Tea and Herbs

I was diagnosed with leaky gut in January 2016. I learned how to heal leaky gut with the help of a natural doctor and some intuition.

I had a bizarre rash on my face for four months that wouldn’t go away regardless of what I did.

I  tried everything—essential oils, cutting out a bunch of different foods (I’m already gluten and dairy-free), trying to neutralize the pH of my body, and overdosing on vitamins, including B vitamins.

Nothing worked when it came to how to heal leaky gut.

Eventually, I went to the doctor and got tested for food intolerances, which was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time but just didn’t do it.

Turned out I was intolerant to a bunch of different things, all having slight reactions to them. The doctor diagnosed me with leaky gut and put me on a powder supplement composed of herbs to help me heal.

In addition to the rash that spread along my chin on both sides of my face, I also had hives around my eyes after having an allergic reaction when eating nutritional yeast.

I later determined that I had accidentally been consuming dairy through my probiotics. This likely caused the leaky gut. I then developed a yeast allergy, which was causing the hives around my eyes. All of this was the result of my leaky gut.

After I was diagnosed with leaky gut and tried to determine what had caused it and how I could heal it, today after just a few short weeks I can eat yeast again and found some amazing herbs that helped me heal.

Here’s how to heal leaky gut!

Healing Leaky Gut First Begins with Eliminating the Things That Caused It

You’ll be able to calm your gut with tea and herbs, but how to heal your leaky gut begins with removing anything and everything that’s irritating it, otherwise you won’t be able to convince your body that it doesn’t need to react to stuff.

When leaky gut happens, your body gets confused and starts attacking things that it previously labeled as ok, like gluten or dairy proteins, yeast, etc.

It could be reacting to anything, including pesticides or GMOs, and it could cause just about any type of health symptom. My bloodwork showed that I was reacting to sesame seeds, eggs, garlic, peanuts, corn, oats, etc. My symptoms just included the rash and the hives.

I would highly recommend that you get tested in order to determine what’s irritating your gut when it comes to how to heal leaky gut.

However, if you can’t afford this (many natural doctors don’t accept insurance), begin by cutting out the big gut irritants.

These are mainly gluten and dairy. However, you may also choose to cut out legumes, all grains, and maybe even molds (natural molds are present in foods such as cheese, alcohol, and dried fruits). Listen to your body!

Once you figure out what’s causing your leaky gut, you can begin supplementing your diet with the following herbs to help when considering how to heal leaky gut.

After a few weeks off of the offending foods (I know it’s hard. I had to print a list of everything that contained yeast and hang it on the fridge!), but it’ll be worth it to eat these foods again in a few weeks and drink some delicious tea in the meantime.

How to Heal Leaky Gut with These Herbs

Go to your local herb shop and grab these essentials:

Stinging Nettle
Slippery Elm Bark
Licorice Root
Marshmallow Root

You’ll ideally want the marshmallow and licorice in a cut-and-sifted form rather than the powder; it’s so much easier to make tea that way.

The stinging nettle is a great anti-histamine and all of the other herbs (slippery elm, licorice, marshmallow) mixed together make a great tea when it comes to how to heal leaky gut! I drank 2-3 cups of plain stinging nettle tea every day with a bit of local raw honey to improve the taste (after a while I didn’t mind the taste, though).

If you choose to do a powder supplement made of these herbs for your leaky gut, choose one with quality ingredients. My doctor gave me Designs for Health GI Revive, which was so easy and tasty to put into smoothies when it came to how to heal leaky gut.

The herbs may be cheaper and even more effective, depending on how much of them you buy and how long you plan to use them for.

You could also get the herbs in supplement form, but I find that those are harder to regulate the ingredients and you’re not really sure how much of it your body is absorbing.

Making a Healing Tea

How to heal leaky gut with tea is easy.

Just get a quality metal tea strainer or cloth tea bag (they’ll have these at your local herb shop) and add a pinch of each of these herbs to your tea for a mixed tea with licorice, marshmallow root, and slippery elm bark.

Use a small pinch of the licorice root—that stuff is powerful and will make your tea really sweet! How to heal leaky gut begins here.

For plain stinging nettle, brew a strong tea by filling up your tea strainer and allow it to steep until dark. The stinging nettle is really important if you’re having histamine reactions because it’s a natural anti-histamine.

Stinging nettle looks like this in its fresh form. If you have the plant handy (and you know with absolute certainty it’s stinging nettle), you can make a tea this way too.

For me, my body was producing histamine whenever I ate yeast, so I broke out in hives. The stinging nettle helped calm my body’s reactions and helped my gut to heal.

The dairy was causing a different reaction (the actual eczema-looking rash) and once I stopped taking those horrible probiotics, was able to get my rash to go away relatively quickly. This also helped calm my leaky gut in addition to the herbs.

I would not recommend mixing the stinging nettle with the other herbs. I have not tried this but I would imagine that it would not taste very good! The slippery elm, marshmallow, and licorice all have sweet tastes that pair well together. The stinging nettle is more bitter and plant-tasting.

Consider Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil helped my body to stop reacting to yeast by producing an anti-histamine effect for my dilemma of how to heal leaky gut.

Yes, just like stinging nettle, it’s a natural anti-histamine. This is for food allergies, though, not for food intolerances (my body was allergic to yeast but intolerant to dairy). There is a difference—the allergy symptoms are more severe faster.

Intolerance symptoms can be just as—if not even more—severe, but they usually develop over a longer period of time. Read more about the difference between allergies and intolerances if you’re interested!

Evening primrose oil contains excellent fatty acids that can help with many things, including dysmenorrhea (another word for wicked terrible menstrual cramps).

I found that it was an essential skin healer and anti-histamine for my body while healing leaky gut. Consider a vegan, organic option such as Deva Vegan Evening Primrose Oil.

Other Essential Practices for How to Heal Leaky Gut

Leaky gut sucks, I know. But do you know how it happens?

A bad diet, antibiotics, stress. Nearly everybody has come into contact with these things. So while you’re considering how to heal leaky gut, it’s a good idea to do the following things.

Sleep a lot

Just make sure you get at least eight hours. I prefer nine or ten myself but again, listen to your body. Sleep is so important and helps you manage stress and weight and can help your body to heal itself.

Avoid stress like the plague

Dude, just relax. It’s not easy, I know. But you can do it. Stay present (read some freaking Eckhart Tolle! Love that dude) and take one thing at a time. Stress is your body’s worst enemy, so relax and take care of yourself.

Exercise

Wait, didn’t I just say to relax? Of course, I did. But, you still need to take care of your body when you’re practicing how to heal leaky gut. Exercising will help promote healing in your body also. Do something you enjoy—dancing, jogging, kayaking, who cares!

Stay away from conventional medications

Prescription medications such as antibiotics can damage your delicate gut flora and even trigger leaky gut. Stick to natural stuff whenever possible. They are your gut’s enemy!

Eat well

When considering how to heal leaky gut, it’s hard to know what to eat. Just do your best. Plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and healthy fats and fiber can help you look and feel great and encourage your body to heal.

Take vitamin C

I make homemade vitamin C out of dried lemon and orange peels and take a teaspoon every day. This will encourage your body to heal when it comes to how to heal leaky gut.

Stay organic

Buy organic produce and buy organic herbs. Leaky gut syndrome can cause your body to react to pesticides as well, and you don’t need your body reacting to more stuff than it already is when you’re considering how to heal leaky gut.

Avoid sugar

Yes, sugar is so bad for your gut bacteria and can aggravate leaky gut. Try to avoid it while you’re healing, it does so much more damage than good! Actually, can’t think of anything good sugar does…

Consider Probiotics

Wait, didn’t I just say that probiotics caused my problem in the first place? Yes, those probiotics contained milk proteins, and I’m intolerant to dairy. However, my doctor also put me on a different, vegan probiotic (I was able to call the company and confirm that they were vegan—this is the probiotic I take here) to help heal my leaky gut. If you’re vegan or intolerant to dairy, never take a probiotic without confirming that it’s not made from milk proteins! Unfortunately, you just can’t trust the labels.

A Word of Caution

I am not an herbalist or a nutritionist. I would not recommend just going out and gathering plants when you’re thinking about how to heal leaky gut.

Plants are easily misidentified. I would recommend getting fresh or dried herbs from your local herb shop or online. Mountain Rose Herbs is a fantastic resource.

I would also recommend not self-diagnosing your leaky gut and getting tested. Yes, this step may be pricey, but if you don’t heal your leaky gut the first time, you’ll waste lots of time and money trying to figure out what’s going on.

When you get tested and can clearly see what you’re reacting to, you can eliminate these foods and you’ll know how to heal leaky gut. You can also work with a certified herbalist to help you.

Having leaky gut and trying to figure out how to heal leaky gut isn’t fun.  However, working with a natural doctor or herbalist makes it so much easier than working alone (I was sick for almost five years before finally seeing an herbalist and curing my autoimmune disease with a simple diet change—read the story here).

I healed my leaky gut and you can too. Don’t give up!

My Herbs Are Dying! I’m Making Tea

Want to know how to experience the benefits of herbal tea? Welcome.

As a certified winter herb killer, I know how to take advantage of herbs before they go south.

Since the summer is over and my herbs are on their way to death (I’ve never had good luck with moving them inside), I’ve decided for the first time to pick them, dry them, and experience the benefits of herbal tea.

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With that being said, herbs are very important things for people. Creating a unique herbal tea blend can help you during the chilly winter months and have some additional health benefits.

What are some of the benefits of herbal tea?

Rosemary

Rosemary is amazing for circulation and can provide relief from headaches or colds and infections. Rosemary essential oil is a great headache reducer.

Rosemary helps to promote mental clarity and helps reduce the symptoms of brain fog or fatigue, therefore boosting concentration. It’s known to decrease inflammation as well.

Rosemary is an extremely hardy herb. I left mine out all winter long and the plant thrived. Just don’t forget to water it—and it will spread, so you may want to keep this one in a pot!

Mint

Mint actually isn’t far away from rosemary, as they’re part of the same family. I prefer peppermint myself, but you may also enjoy spearmint.

Mint is well-known for helping with digestion, which means it can also help with symptoms such as nausea or vomiting.

Your mint tea blend can also help soothe respiratory ailments. This herb is fantastic by itself or blended with lavender or lemon balm. Try peppermint tea with a spoonful of coconut oil in it—it tastes like a peppermint patty!

Mint provides some great benefits of herbal tea, but you’ll definitely want to pot this herb. It will spread so fast you won’t even know it happened until you have a yard full of mint.

Thyme

Thyme can be really good in your herbal blend. It can help if you have a cold and detox you—get rid of that negative energy and start fresh.

Don’t ever be fatigued again with thyme in your herbal blend. It can help boost your mood and fight off sickness. The benefits of herbal tea are amplified when you add thyme into the mix.

Thyme is particularly yummy with lemon in there, and pairs well with sage and lavender as well.

Sage

Stressed out? Sage can help calm you down.

Combined with your blend of thyme for detox and energy, mint for comfort, and rosemary for clarity, sage can help restore balance to your life.

Sage can help boost the immune system and even promote a sharp memory. It can decrease inflammation and promote healthy bones.

This herb is soft and fuzzy and just feels good, plus it provides benefits of herbal tea you didn’t know you needed.

 

Lavender

Lavender is known for comforting and relaxing even the most stressed-out people, providing excellent benefits of herbal tea.

If you experience any type of anxiety, need lavender for your tea. Even if you don’t, it’s just great to have around and pairs really well with the other herbs!

Lavender can be difficult to grow, so might not be good for your first go when it comes to how to make tea. Buy a hardy plant to start rather than the seeds!

Other Herbs That Are Great for Tea

Ginger and turmeric make a perfect cancer-fighting blend. Buy the roots fresh and preferably organic at the store. Peel and drop in some boiling water for approximately a half hour.

The above photo is ginger while the below is turmeric, the color difference is apparent.

A blend of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, and ginger can also make an excellent chai tea that provides detoxing benefits in addition to winter comfort.

Pick these herbs up at your local herb shop!

Other amazing herbs you can add include stevia, lemon balm, stinging nettle, calendula, chamomile, and rose petals. Yes, they’re edible. Just make sure they haven’t been sprayed with insecticides before you eat them or dry them for your tea.

You can also use dried fruit peels or other dried fruits such as strawberries and blueberries in your special tea. Enjoy 🙂

How to Blend the Dry Herbs

Pick your herbs, give them a thorough wash first, then hang them up somewhere to dry.

There are also many other methods you can use to dry your herbs, but I’ve found that hanging them up is the easiest.

Once they’re dry, simply crumble up the leaves and put in an air-tight jar for storage throughout the winter. You can experience the benefits of herbal tea all winter long!

You’ll love having a cup of your special herbal blend in the afternoon, morning, or evening.

Have fun!

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The Truth About “Humane”, “Free-Range”, and “Cage-Free” Meat and Eggs

chickens in cage

I know some of you nice people out there think that you’re doing good by buying only “cage-free” or “humane” or “free-range” eggs and meats.

While I will agree that this is the lesser of the two evils that come with harvesting food from animals, I will also argue that these are just marketing claims and are still not ok. The truth about free range is different than what these advertisements claim.

The Marketing Behind Organic or Humane Products

There’s a huge market out there for organic, free-range, cage-free, and humane animal products. People want to feel that they are making better, smarter choices by choosing these products.

The truth, however, is that these products aren’t too much different from conventionally-raised meat.

I’d like to begin with some excerpts from Michael Pollan, an author, journalist, and activist who I dearly love and admire. In his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he talks about “Big Organic” and what he found out it really means.

“I enjoy shopping at Whole Foods nearly as much as I enjoy browsing a good bookstore, which, come to think of it, is probably no accident: Shopping at Whole foods is a literary experience, too. That’s not to take anything away from the food, which is generally of high quality, much of it “certified organic” or “humanely raised” or “free-range”. But right there, that’s the point: It’s the evocative prose as much as anything else that makes this food really special, elevating an egg or chicken breast or bag of arugula from the realm of ordinary protein and carbohydrates into a much headier experience, one with complex aesthetic, emotional, and even political dimensions. Take the “range-fed” sirloin steak I recently eyed in the meat case. According to the brochure on the counter, it was formerly part of a steer that spent its days “living in beautiful places” ranging from “plant-diverse, high-mountain meadows to thick aspen groves and miles of sagebrush-filled flats”. Now a steak like that has got to taste better than one from Safeway, where the only accompanying information comes in the form of a number: the price, I mean, which you can bet will be considerably less. But I’m evidently not the only shopper willing to pay more for a good story.

With the growth of organics and mounting concerns about the wholesomeness of industrial food, storied food is showing up in supermarkets everywhere these days, but it is Whole Foods that consistently offers the most cutting-edge grocery lit. On a recent visit I filled my shopping cart with eggs “from cage-free vegetarian hens,” milk from cows that live “free from unnecessary fear and distress,” wild salmon caught by Native Americans in Yakutat, Alaska (population 833), and heirloom tomatoes from Capay Farm ($4.99 a pound), “one of the early pioneers of the organic movement.” The organic broiler I picked up even had a name: Rosie, who turned out to be a “sustainably farmed” “free-range” chicken from Petaluma Poultry, a company whose “farming methods strive to create harmonious relationships in nature, sustaining the health of all creatures and the natural world.” Okay, not the most mellifluous or even meaningful sentence, but at least their heart’s in the right place.

I also visited Rosie the organic chicken at her farm in Petaluma, which turns out to be more animal factory than farm. She lives in a shed with twenty thousand other Rosies, who, aside from their certified organic feed, live lives little different from that of any other industrial chicken. Ah, but what about the “free-range” lifestyle promised on the label? True, there’s a little door in the shed leading out to a narrow grassy yard. But the free-range story seems a bit of a stretch when you discover that the door remains firmly shut until the birds are at least five or six weeks old–for fear they’ll catch something outside–and the chickens are slaughtered only two weeks later.”

—From Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, pages 134-140 (pub. 2006 by Penguin)

The Food and Drug Administration’s Policy for Free-Range, PAsture-Fed, and Grass-Fed

The Food and Drug Administration’s free-range policy for poultry is this: the facility must show that the chickens have been allowed access to the outside.

This doesn’t mean that the animals are required to spend any time outdoors or even that they have gone outside at all during their lives. So while you might be purchasing chicken thinking that the chicken lived its life in a peaceful meadow, the reality is often far from this idea.

So what about eggs?

Turns out, the FDA doesn’t have any solid guidelines for what a free-range chicken egg should be, so this label really is just a marketing term, similarly to how the claim “dairy-free” has literally no backing according to the FDA.

But what about beef and pork?

So for these types of meat, pasture-raised means that the animal has been provided access to the outside for a minimum of 120 days a year while grass-fed means that the animal was fed a diet consisting solely of forage its entire life after being weaned off its mothers milk, but not necessarily that the animal was ever outside, just that they were fed grass and not grain (which, from a consumer standpoint, is healthier, but not really humane).

The Local Difference

I advocate for LOCAL meat and eggs. This does not mean you trust a supermarket to tell you the truth about free range, where this animal has lived, what it ate, or what its lifestyle was.

I do believe that buying organic (according to the USDA’s definition) is better even though I don’t necessarily believe it’s the most humane or sustainable way to enjoy meat and eggs.

You need to look for small grocery stores (and I mean really small) if you truly want local or humane meat. Some of these meat and egg products might not even be humanely raised or handled, just local, so you’ll need to find out for yourself how the animals are treated.

You need to go find these farms and actually see them for yourself. And if the people don’t let you see the farm even after you offer them money for their meat or eggs, you know there’s a problem and something disturbing is going on there and that they don’t want you to know the truth about free range.

If you want to buy your eggs and meat from the supermarket, going to a place like Whole Foods and buying products that say “humane” or “free-range” might not be any better than going to Wal-Mart.

How You Can Make a Difference

I would advocate for you to buy locally or just kill and skin that animal yourself.

Afraid of doing that?

You probably shouldn’t be eating meat then. If you’re not willing to go through with the actions that brought you your meal, what sense does it make to eat it?

You can make a difference by choosing to purchase truly local foods that ensure animal welfare and healthier products.

Oh, and “cage-free”? This term, according to the FDA, means that the chickens are usually packed so tightly into barns that they live in their own feces, get their eyes and feathers plucked on by other chickens, and are more prone to disease.

Happy eating!

How to Respond When Someone Gives You Something You Can’t Eat

No eat cookie

It sucks, right? When someone gives you something that you can’t eat. What do you do in these situations?

Normally around the holidays, cookies start showing up at my place and people’s moms’ try to make me stuff. How do you inform them that you can’t eat that cookie or you’ll die (ok so maybe you won’t die, but being in pain is bad enough, am I right)?

I have a few suggestions for how to deal with these unfortunate circumstances, whether they happen with a family member, a neighbor, or someone’s mom. They could happen around holidays, birthdays, or times of woe. Here are my suggestions for how to respond when someone gives you something you can’t eat.

Tell Them the Truth

This works best when you’re dealing with family, friends, or neighbors who are unlikely to move anytime soon.

You don’t have to be mean about it. You can just politely say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, but I’m gluten and dairy intolerant.” To your surprise they may say, “Bitch, I made these with flaxseed and coconut flour!” or they may say, “Oh sorry! There’s definitely butter in there”.

Regardless of what they say, you’ll know you told the truth.

Benefits of this scenario:

  • Next year, they will (hopefully) remember that you can’t eat gluten or dairy and will not make you any more cookies, or attempt to make you special cookies (which are, admittedly, the best kind).
  • You won’t have to lie when they follow up with you: “How were the cookies?!”
  • You’ll feel good speaking up for yourself and informing your giver.
  • You won’t have any cookies to dispose of to the raccoons (who should really not be eating gluten anyway).

Cons of this scenario:

  • Your giver may not remember that you declined these cookies, and give them to you again.
  • Your giver may not remember that you didn’t eat their cookies, and still ask you how they were later.
  • Your giver may misunderstand the meaning of “intolerance” or “allergies”, and think that you’re just avoiding these things for other reasons such as weight loss and say, “But you’re so skinny!” prompting you to think that they secretly think you’re fat and are therefore trying to be reassuring about your slimness.
  • You may feel rude for declining them. And you’ll definitely feel left out when everyone is eating them and you’re not.

Politely Accept and Say Nothing

This is best when you’re working with an unfamiliar host or giver. It’s likely you’ll never see them again and who cares if you touch those cookies and then toss them in the trash?

There’s no follow-up, no thank-you cards (“Thanks so much for the plate of sickness you provided me. I was on the toilet all night and had extreme muscle pain for days. Happy Holidays”), and no confrontation.

Saying thank you and moving on is easy. Defending your honor is not.

Benefits of this scenario:

  • It’s easy!
  • You don’t have to explain your intolerance or allergy.
  • It means little to no extra attention for you and people looking at you like you’re crazy.

Cons of this scenario:

  • You’re a liar. You’re lying by omission. Shouldn’t that woman know she almost just sent you to the ER?
  • You may feel voiceless and unimportant. Why shouldn’t you speak up for yourself?
  • What the hell are you going to do with those cookies now????

LIE

This can work well with people you almost never see, but are not quite strangers. This can also work well with distant neighbors (at least two doors down) or relatives.

Now, I’m not about lying, so I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s a hefty chance it will come back and bite you (like 100% chance). But damn it, sometimes it’s just so much easier! “Thank you so much for the wonderful milk chocolate covered pretzels. They were wonderful.” Barf.

Benefits of this scenario:

  • You won’t offend the wonderful people who tried to make an effort and give you this food (which may be partly vegan but is definitely NOT vegan).
  • You won’t have that bad feeling after you crush their hopes and dreams of giving you cookies.
  • You will not appear ungrateful in any way.

Cons of this scenario:

  • You obviously just told a huge lie about your body and your health. While you did not admit to eating them, you implied it, and your giver will probably make you the same thing next year and the year after that and the year after that. It’s a huge waste, not to mention you’re indirectly supporting animal torture: you may not be buying the milk that went into that milk chocolate, but this giver is buying it for you. Get it?
  • You may get found out, which will look really bad for you and all parties involved. Your neighbor may tell your mom, “Oh, Jenn just absolutely loved those milk chocolate covered pretzels” and your lovely mother will say, “Jenn doesn’t eat milk you ignorant fool!”
  • You’ll feel crappy for making your giver feel loved and appreciated when really you are flushing those pretzels down the toilet while sticking a finger in your mouth in a gagging impression

At the end of the day, you need to decide which one you can live with. I will always advocate for the truth-telling scenario, but will admit that sometimes I fall into the other scenarios. It just depends on who you’re dealing with, where you’re at, and what works for you. Whether you accept the desserts or not, make sure you don’t eat them!

18 Questions to Ask Your Local Beef Provider

Is your beef local beef?

cow

Listen, I’m not into slaughtering animals. My diet is mostly plant-based and I rarely eat meat. If I do eat meat, I know exactly who killed it and where it came from and what kind of life it had.

So why am I doing this post?

I’m doing this post because I recognize that people like meat. People think meat is a cultural thing and that they’re entitled to eat it. If you want to kill and eat an animal, I’m ok with that.

BUT, it’s HOW you kill the animal that I have a problem with. This is why I only eat meat if I know who killed it and how—aka local beef.

Local beef is great, but before you purchase local beef, you need to figure out a few things. I’ve compiled a list of questions you can and should ask your local beef provider.

1. Do you have one location or several?

Best answer: one.

The reason you want to ask this question is because this will be the easiest way for you to determine if you’re dealing with a legit local beef farm or an industrial farm masquerading as a local one. If they tell you they have several locations, that should be a big red flag—aka not local beef.

2. How often are the cows outside?

Best answer: always.

You want to ask this question rather than “are they given unlimited access to the pasture” because they could very well be given unlimited access to the pasture, but they may not actually be going into the pasture for whatever reason.

The cows should be outside pretty much all the time when it’s real local beef.

3. Do you provide shelter for the cows outside?

Best answer: yes, but they are not contained in this shelter.

If the cows are outside all the time, you want to be sure they have some adequate shelter for inclement weather.

4. Do you raise both male and female cows? If so, how do you regulate breeding?

Best answer: yes, we do our own breeding and regulate breeding with castration.

The reason you want this answer is because this way you know they are not bringing in cows from somewhere and that the farm truly is local beef.

5. Are the male cows castrated? If so, how? Is anesthesia used?

Best answer: yes to the anesthesia!

If they don’t castrate their cows, that’s great. The problem is that most places do, so hoping they’ll say “no” might indicate that they engage in unethical practices to inhibit breeding.

You want them to say that they use local anesthesia and that they simply cut them off. Look up more about these practices to find out why you want them to use anesthesia.

If you speak to the actual farmer and he or she says they do it themselves, that’s even better. That’s true local beef, where the farmer takes care of his cows.

6. If the cows get sick, are they treated and how?

Best answer: yes, they are treated.

The farmer should tell you exactly how the local beef cows are treated and if they have an on-site vet that comes as needed.

7. How is the pasture maintained?

Best answer: organically.

Chances are your farmer won’t actually say “organically”, they’ll just tell you that they don’t spray the pasture with anything and the cows simply maintain it by grazing. Yay, local beef cows!

8. Are the cows purely grass-fed or are they fed supplemental grains?

Best answer: mostly grass-fed.

Some farmers feed their local beef cows a bit of supplemental grains to take the “gamey” taste out of the meat like you get with deer or squirrel, but ideally, you’d like the cows to be almost purely grass-fed. Ask what the supplemental grains consist of and if they are genetically modified (corn and soy).

9. Any growth hormones used?

Best answer: no.

If a farmer tells you they use growth hormones, you should just hang up right then, unless you want an enlarged prostate, acne, and overweight children. That’s not local beef, peeps.

10. Are the cows tagged/branded? If so, is anesthesia used?

Best answer: yes.

Sorry, but most farmers will at least ear tag their local beef cows, like the cow you see in the above picture. If they say they brand, you should probably just end the call, because if they are cruel enough to brand an animal, chances are they are not using anesthesia.

NOW. It is time for the slaughter questions. Brace yourself.

11. Do you process your own beef?

Best answer: no.

Unfortunately in the United States, if you want to sell your meat, your animals have to be killed at a USDA approved slaughterhouse.

So chances are if you are buying this local beef meat, it will need to be killed at a slaughterhouse. If they tell you that they process their own beef, it’s technically illegal for you to buy it.

12. Where is the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: close.

Have them give you the name of the slaughterhouse and the exact location. Look up how far away it is from the farm. It should be less than an hour away if it’s for local beef.

13. How are the cows transported to the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: by me.

If they call a company to come and take the cows, that’s not really local beef and chances are they probably don’t care about the cows and how they are transported. The more details they can give you, the better.

14. How many animals does the slaughterhouse kill per day?

Best answer: less than 10.

If this is a really local place, you’ll want them to have minimal slaughtering going on. The more animals they slaughter, the less humane they treat them.

The answer to this question will also tell you how large the slaughterhouse is. If they tell you that they slaughter hundreds of animals per day, this is a commercial slaughterhouse and chances are your cow is not dying humanely.

That’s not local beef for you.

15. How do they slaughter the cows?

Best answer: they shoot them with a gun.

This is the better option, as terrible as it sounds, because this means your local beef cows are not getting stunned and tortured before they die.

If the farmer tells you he doesn’t know how the cows die, you can contact the slaughterhouse, but I would most likely end the call. If the farmer doesn’t care how his cows are being killed, what else doesn’t he care about?

You want to make sure the cows are killed quickly and not being dismembered while they are still alive.

16. Can I visit the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: yes.

The farmer may not know the answer to this question, and that’s fine. You can always contact the slaughterhouse. But, if he tells you they let people in and that you can go see it, this is great news. You’ll want to confirm with the slaughterhouse though. Commercial slaughterhouses will not let you in there.

17. How are you sure that you’re getting your cows back?

Best answer: I’m sure.

The farmer should tell you a detailed process for how he knows he’s getting his cows back, such as he knows the people at the slaughterhouse personally, his meat tastes distinct from all other meats, etc.

If he says he has no idea, then this is not someone who is very informed.

18. Can I see the farm?

Best answer: yes.

Any farmer who is proud of his animals and the way he treats them will welcome you to his farm to check out his local beef.

After you ask all these lovely questions, schedule a trip to see both the farm and the slaughterhouse. This is local beef for you! You’ll feel so much better and more conscious purchasing and eating this beef if you know exactly where it came from, how it lived and died, and what it ate. Support humane cow farms!

Do You Really Know What’s Been Done to the Animals You’re Eating? Take This Quiz!

Today I’ve been feeling depressed about the meat, egg, and milk market in America. I can’t speak for other countries, but this industry in America is really messed up.

But just how depressing is America’s meat, egg, and dairy industry? Think you know what’s happening behind those closed “barn” doors that the “farmers” won’t let you see?

Let’s take a little quiz to see how informed you are, you educated thing.

Animal Industry Quiz: What Happens to the Meat, Eggs, and Dairy before We Eat It?

Disclaimer: may be depressing.

1. Before pigs are killed, they are:

a) given a farewell hug, then their throats are slit

b) Ushered into a room with other pigs, where they all are shot

c) stunned with a taser, thrown in a giant tub of scalding water, then skinned (they may still be alive at this point)

2. Male chickens do not lay eggs. What happens to the male chicks after they are born in the egg industry?

a) they are sent to happy local farms where they will become roosters and peck away at their hearts’ content

b) sent to another farm in the meat industry where they will be raised with hormones, then killed for some American family’s dinner

c) they are ground up alive

3. Veal is some tasty beef (I’ve never had it, but I’ve heard this). What happens to veal before you pick it up at the store?

a) the baby cow has played happily in a field with its mom

b) the baby cow lived on a giant factory farm with other baby cows, being fed unnatural grains before it was slaughtered

c) the baby cow was tethered to a post in a dark stall all by itself where it never saw daylight or moved much, and then it was killed

4. Male cows are neutered in the meat industry. How is this process accomplished?

a) with anesthesia, a vet comes to administer this and remove the testicles

b) without anesthesia, a qualified individual simply cuts off the testicles and stitches up the area

c) without anesthesia, someone ties a rubber band around the testicles to cut off the blood flow. The testicles turn black and then fall off

5. How are female cows able to keep producing milk?

a) female cows just naturally produce milk all the time

b) they are injected with hormones to keep them producing milk

c) they are impregnated time after time by having sperm injected into their vaginas. Immediately after they give birth, their calves are taken away to farms where they will be injected with hormones, raised for meat, and slaughtered at a young age

6. A specific breed of chicken has dominated the meat industry. Why was this chicken bred?

a) it tastes better

b) it looks better

c) people in America want chickens with bigger breasts, so the chickens are bred so their breasts grow so big that many of them cannot walk

7. When pigs are transported to the slaughterhouse, they are:

a) put in sturdy cages so they don’t fall or hurt each other

b) put into trucks where they have room to lay down and are given water and a snack

c) packed into trucks so tightly with no food and water for many miles; many die from heat exhaustion or freeze to the side of the trucks, where, if they are still alive upon arrival, they are cut off the side of the truck and their skin is removed

8. What happens to chickens at the slaughterhouse?

a) they are given baths before their throats are slit

b) they are gassed to death

c) hung upside down by their legs and dragged through water with electricity run through it, which paralyzes them, and then their throats are slit while they are still conscious. Although, some of them miss the blade and end up being dumped in scalding hot water still fully conscious

9. Cows at the slaughterhouse are:

a) comforted before they die

b) get their throats slit and someone is there to ensure that every cow dies quickly

c) they are shot in the head with a bolt to stun them, their throats are slit, and they are dismembered. Some cows are not properly stunned or do not immediately die after their throats are slit, and they are dismembered while still conscious

10. Egg-laying chickens:

a) sit on pillows while laying their eggs

b) are in individual cages where they don’t have much room to move

c) are so tightly packed in cages with other chickens that they do not have room to move or clean themselves. With cage-free chickens, they are usually packed the same way on the floor where the spread of illness is more likely and they still do not have room to do much

I’m going to make this super easy for you guys: the answer to all of them is c.

Shocked? You shouldn’t be.

This stuff is happening right now all over the country. If you guessed c for most of them, then you’re well informed and know your stuff, and hopefully, you aren’t still buying commercial meat and dairy and eggs.

The great thing about this is that you DON’T have to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy to stop supporting this industry. You just need to get local meat, eggs, and dairy. This means that you need to find small local farms where the farmers are actually farmers and they let you see and pet the cow and other animals.

This food is also so much healthier for you too as usually, these local farms let their cows and chickens eat natural food such as grass without shoving unnatural GMO grains down their throats.

Finding local farms is not easy, depending on where you live. And when you do find them, you’ll need to make sure the animals are happy and healthy before you choose to support them by buying their meat, milk, or eggs.

It’s ok to be depressed about this stuff but don’t be angry or depressed without reason—act on this! Stop buying commercial meat, milk, and eggs and pack on the veggies!

Homemade Sunscreen without Zinc Oxide

I made my own homemade sunscreen after finding out that the one I bought at the store had weird ingredients in it.

I didn’t exactly want these to be absorbed into my skin (yes, even despite it being cruelty-free). This recipe was adapted from several different recipes and was my first time making my own sunscreen.

Welcome to my homemade sunscreen recipe without zinc oxide! With just seven ingredients and seven easy steps you can be on your way to enjoying the sun without getting burned!

Homemade Sunscreen Recipe without Zinc Oxide

Ingredients

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1/4 cup shea butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/8 cup avocado oil

2 tbsp. beeswax granules

1 tsp. carrot seed oil

1 tsp. red raspberry seed oil

Any essential oils you want to scent it (trust me, you’re going to want to scent it) I used lavender but you can use whatever you want.

Update Note: Readers have commented that citrus essential oils are photosensitive, so you may want to avoid these!

So How Do You Make It?

Step One

In a saucepan, put the shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, and beeswax in over medium heat. You’re on your way to having great homemade sunscreen!

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Step Two

Let all of these ingredients melt together, stirring occasionally. The beeswax will be the last thing to melt.

Step Three

After everything is melted, pull the pan off the heat and let it sit until it cools down to room temperature. It’ll look something like this once it’s cooled:

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Step Four

Put the whole thing in the fridge for 15-45 minutes. You want it to set up a bit but not be too firm!

Step Five

Remove pan from the fridge and add the carrot seed oil, red raspberry seed oil, and your essential oils if you want to scent it (I used about 20 drops of lavender in mine). Then stir! You can use a regular spoon for this, it doesn’t matter. When you first start to whip it, it’ll look a little lumpy:

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Step Six

Keep whipping for about two minutes or until smooth. The mixture should look something like this when you are finished:

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Step Seven

Find an appropriate sized jar or container for your homemade sunscreen (whatever you’d prefer to keep your sunscreen in) and scoop the mixture in. Walaah! You are done. I used an old honey jar for mine:

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Note that this doesn’t make that much homemade sunscreen. This jar is pretty small. You may want to double the recipe if you are planning on sharing this or using it a lot. For me, I didn’t want to make a ton because I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out. Now, I’d happily make another batch!

These are the amounts of the SPF in all the ingredients used:

Coconut oil: SPF 5

Shea butter: SPF 5

Red raspberry seed oil: SPF 25-50

Carrot seed oil: SPF 35-40

Avocado oil: SPF 7

Also just FYI, I had to order the beeswax, red raspberry seed oil, and carrot seed oil online. I couldn’t find these at my local stores.

I was able to find the shea butter at the supermarket and of course, I already had the essential oils, avocado oil, and coconut oil on hand. All of these ingredients are a little pricey but the good news is that there will be enough for you to make batches and batches of homemade sunscreen to come.

When I finished it, despite the essential oils, all I could smell was the carrot seed oil. It was an overpowering, strange smell. But, I applied the sunscreen to my arms and face today and Ian smelled my face and said all he could smell was lavender. Hm? Well, okay. If you say so. The man approves. It smells nice.

So why shouldn’t you just go to the store and buy cruelty-free sunscreen? Well sure, you can do this. For me, I find joy in making things for myself because then I know exactly what’s in it as well as how it’s been made.

Plus, while some sunscreens have nice ingredients that are safe, the majority of them do not, in case you were wondering. The other thing is that if you buy a nice sunscreen, it’s probably going to be expensive, especially if you keep buying it over time.

Protecting your skin is important, but it shouldn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s more economical to buy ingredients that you can use over and over again to make your own homemade sunscreen.

A Note on Zinc Oxide

Almost all of the recipes I found online included zinc oxide as one of the ingredients for homemade sunscreen. All of these recipes cautioned the user about not breathing in the particles of zinc oxide.

I was confused by this. If I don’t want to breathe it in on accident, why would I want it touching my skin? It looks sketchy to me, and I didn’t want to use it in my homemade sunscreen. I would encourage you not to either.

I’ve recently found that some conventional sunscreens contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide which can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Scary?

Update to this post: I’ve been using this sunscreen for about a year now and not once been burned. It’s fabulous! I have also found that it loses its potency not long after that time, so I wouldn’t keep it for more than one year.

Happy homemade sunscreen making! 🙂

4 Amazing Things for Healthy Skin Care

Healthy skin care is so essential to your beauty routine! I’ve found some wonderful natural things (plants, not products) that are just downright bad at making your skin supple, shiny, and healthy. And by bad I mean awesome. Young people lingo, right?

Here are some amazing things for healthy skin care!

1. Shea Butter

Shea butter

I just recently started using shea butter for healthy skin care. I picked up shea butter at the store because I needed it to use in my homemade sunscreen recipe. I did use shea butter in my sunscreen recipe, but I’ve also been loading heaps of it onto my skin.

I bought the organic unrefined version, which smells a little like barbecue sauce to me. Yeah, it’s also gray… Really odd… (obviously you can tell this picture is not the one I bought, ha).

I love it because I don’t mind smelling like a walking pork chop when my skin looks amazing. And you get used to the smell for healthy skin care. It just has a smoky smell to it.

So far, this is my favorite thing to use. I love it too because it stays put where aloe absorbs into your skin so quickly and the coconut oil will just rub off on your clothes or sheets before it absorbs properly. I would recommend a naturally-scented version for your healthy skin care to avoid toxic synthetic fragrances.

2. Coconut Oil

coconut oil

I will always love coconut oil, and no one will ever tell me that I can’t love it.

I do love it for skin use but also for cooking and putting in my tea. I use coconut oil as a moisturizer for my face and body. I ditched regular lotion about a year ago after finding that most brands had paraben and other weird things in them.

Choose organic, especially to put on your skin, otherwise, your skin will be absorbing the pesticides. Yuck, right? Healthy skin care involves coconut oil!

3. Vitamin C

vit c

I don’t care where you get it from, you have to have this for healthy skin care.

I take a supplement every day in addition to eating foods rich in vitamin C just because it’s hard to get the amount you need from just food alone. A long time ago, our bodies made vitamin C, but somewhere along the way, they stopped. So now we need it from external sources.

Load up on the oranges, lemons, limes, peppers (seriously, peppers have more vitamin C than oranges!) and get yourself a proper supplement for healthy skin care.

Fun fact about vitamin C: most supplements are synthetic. Ascorbic acid is the thing that your body has to turn vitamin C into in order for it to be absorbed properly. The good news? Your body apparently can’t tell the difference. This doesn’t mean that you can skip out on a quality supplement, though.

P.S—Watch out for cheap supplements, they may contain GMOs!

4. Aloe Vera

aloe vera

I was buying big leaves of this stuff at my supermarket, breaking off pieces, and rubbing that clear gooey stuff on my skin for healthy skin care. It was wonderful.

It absorbed quickly and yet left my skin feeling supple and smooth. This is also great for scar tissue. Perfect for when you need something that dries really quickly and will yet keep you feeling refreshed and fabulous.

Downside: sometimes digging your fingers into that cold, clear gooey stuff just got old.

Another huge part of healthy skin care is protecting your skin. All of these things will help protect your skin but sunscreen is also important. My next post will be about homemade sunscreen. For reasons you will soon find out (or may already know about if you know about animal testing), you may want to steer clear of that stuff at the store.

How to Prevent Colds Naturally

Looking for how to prevent colds naturally? I’ve got a few things that could help you out.

Natural Remedies

Let’s start from the top left and work our way down, shall we? (Oh btw, I’m not an herbalist or nutritionist. So keep this in mind before you go all hog wild on the herbs, k?)

Here are some things that can help you when it comes to how to prevent colds naturally.

Ginger

Fresh ginger is ideal for how to prevent colds naturally, but the capsule form provides an amount that is difficult to get from the root alone.

You can make ginger, honey, and lemon tea, which is very simple: grate up some fresh ginger in a teacup, squeeze a quarter or up to a half of fresh lemon juice in the cup, fill with boiling water, drop in a teaspoon of honey and wallah! Your throat is happy 🙂

Anyway, I always choose vegetarian capsules and ideally an organic herb. Make sure you read the label before you start popping pills. Not all capsules are created equal.

Ginger is amazing for arthritis, headaches, joint and muscle pain, tummy troubles, and how to prevent colds naturally. It helps to keep you feeling warm and relaxed. Take one capsule (depending on the label again…) a day and supplement with fresh ginger root.

Garlic

Ah, the magic that is garlic.

Garlic is amazing for how to prevent colds naturally. It contains some wonderful properties that help your immune system big time.

It’s also been shown that garlic can reduce the frequency and duration of colds. You can cook with it, but again, it’s hard to get that high dosage without swallowing a capsule.

Plus, food is generally more beneficial in its raw state. I usually chop up 6-10 cloves until minced, scoop them up with a tablespoon, and swallow them raw with a glass of coconut milk (it can be painful with water, both with the taste and your stomach afterward). Take one helping of this a day while you’re sick OR if you feel a cold coming. The best treatment is prevention!

If you’re not really into swallowing raw garlic for how to prevent colds naturally (I know few people who are, despite its awesome health benefits), you can also buy garlic “pills”. These are just like the ginger capsules.

Again, read the label. I don’t need to keep telling you guys this right? And I always buy organic garlic. Garlic comes out of the ground; who knows what horrors are lurking in the soil!

Vitamin C

Whether it be via vitamins, oranges, grapefruit, or lime, this vitamin is important when it comes to how to prevent colds naturally.

It doesn’t really matter what your illness is. Vitamin C is a healer and is excellent for your skin, organs, and your cold! You can take a lot, about 5,000 mg a day if you are sick (don’t take it all at one time, though).

You can take 2-3,000 for preventive. I take 1,000 every day regardless of how I’m feeling.

MultiVitamin

I recently started taking a multi, and I’m so glad I did. It covers all those little micronutrients I wouldn’t really pay attention to when eating.

You can take up to two of these a day if you’re sick or for preventive measures. Keep your body running optimally when it comes to how to prevent colds naturally.

Lemons

I had Ian pick me up lemons at the store while I was working this weekend because I was out and I NEEDED them for this potential sickness.

Lemons are great for detoxing; I drink a glass of water with half a lemon squeezed in there every morning before I do anything else. I’d like to attribute this to me not getting sick, but who knows?

Anyway, squeeze some in your water for detoxing and a boost of vitamin C in the morning when you’re thinking how to prevent colds naturally. Lemons are also rather (surprisingly) alkaline, so this will help with keeping your body in balance from too much acidity. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to search an acidic/alkaline food chart and educate your wonderful brain. This is important.

Keep these things on hand in case you feel like you’re getting sick! How to prevent colds naturally starts with the right tools, aka foods.

Vinegar is also an excellent natural disinfectant for when you’re trying to clean your home from sick people who may have visited or otherwise live there. Wipe down those surfaces! And for the love of God, stay away from that nasty Clorox bleach. Talk about making people sick. Sheesh.

HELP! My Menstrual Cup Is Leaking! Your Total Guide to Stop It

Your menstrual cup is leaking?! I know these things are adorable, but they can be frustrating too! Here’s my guide to getting that thing to stop leaking once and for all.

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It seems that many of you liked my post about the menstrual cup which is great because menstrual cups are amazing.

They can feel intimidating at first—but they’re totally worth it for three badass reasons:

Honestly, it took quite a while for me to get the hang of mine (I’m talking years). For a while, I thought I just wasn’t ever going to get it.

During this time I compiled a list that I keep in my bathroom with the cup for when I have trouble with it (which isn’t often at all now).

I’d like to share this list of twelve items with my fellow females in case some of you are having trouble like I was. Here’s what to do if your menstrual cup is leaking!

1. Check the Seal

When your menstrual cup is leaking, that means the seal has not been created properly.

There needs to be a seal created between the lip of the cup and your vaginal wall. When this seal is created, your menstrual cup should not move easily (you can usually test the seal by grabbing the stem and giving it a good tug to see if it readily moves) and it should not leak. No matter what.

The only way the seal can get messed up once created is by pooing (sorry, people who poo with their menstrual cup in) and pinching the base of the cup. The latter is the action you will do when you are ready to remove the menstrual cup/empty it to break the seal.

But how do we create the seal?

2. Find the Right Fold

There are SO many different folds out there! The “C” fold is supposed to be the most popular, but I’ve found that many women don’t like this fold. I myself don’t like it anymore. I use the “7” fold and the “punch-down” fold. I like the 7 fold better. It’s easy to find out how to do these folds; Google them!

Fold preference really just depends on what works for you. Some women prefer different folds based on their size, or comfort, or what creates the seal best. For me, it’s all about creating the seal. What’s the point of using the bleeding thing if your menstrual cup is leaking?!

Other folds include the origami fold, squiggle fold, diamond fold, and the labia fold. Experiment and find which one is for you!

3. WHERE’S MY CERVIX?!

I promise it’s not that hard, but you really do need to find your cervix if your menstrual cup is leaking.

Supposedly it feels firm and squishy, like the tip of your nose (and yeah, it actually does feel like that). Some women have higher cervixes, some have lower. The cervix is the entrance to your womb, so it’s in your vagina. Stick your finger up there and find it.

It took me a little while to realize that my cervix was actually angled a little to the left, and this has made a huge difference in helping my menstrual cup not to leak. Some women need longer stems on their cups and some need shorter, just depending on where your cervix is. Some women cut off the stem of their menstrual cup because they don’t need it. It’s all about your body and what works for you. But you do need to know where it is.

The menstrual cup should sit just below your cervix. If it’s in too high, this messes up the flow and your menstrual cup won’t work like it’s supposed to. If it’s too low, the seal won’t work.

And, here’s the killer—your cervix can actually move during menstruation. So you won’t just have to find it once but several times during your period. Get to know its position during your cycle!

4. Rotate the Cup

After you do your cute little fold and your menstrual cup pops open inside you, some women suggest giving the cup one full rotation to create the seal (and then pull down slightly) if your menstrual cup is leaking.

5. Pull the Cup Down

Some people suggest pulling the cup down (especially after rotating) to allow it to settle into its best position after it pops open inside you. I’ve found this to be very helpful when creating my seal!

Just pull it down maybe an inch or so, don’t pull the thing out. The pull is more like a gentle but firm tug to make sure the cup is in place.

6. Consider the Material of the Cup

Most cups are made out of silicone. Mine is made out of silicone as well.

So the deal with silicone is that it can be rather soft. This is cool because it makes the cup moldable to your unique vaginal wall in order to create the seal. It’s not cool because its softness can prevent your menstrual cup from properly popping open when it’s inside of you due to its softness.

So what to do? If your menstrual cup is leaking, take it out. Then, before insertion, run the menstrual cup under cold water to help firm up the silicone molecules. It’s actually not too bad inserting a cold cup, and you do need to insert it right after you run it under cold water.

This is a good thing to try if you have tight muscles down there and are having problems with getting your cup to open all the way.

How do you know if your menstrual cup is open all the way?

7. Feel That It’s Open

Running your finger along the edge of the menstrual cup can help you know if your cup is properly open. If your menstrual cup is leaking, chances are it didn’t pop open right. If you feel that it’s not properly open, this is a good time to do the rotation. Or…

8. Do Kegels

You smart ladies all know what these are right? If you don’t, I suggest you get your butt over to Google right now and find out. You need to be doing these, especially if you like to run and/or have children so that your vagina doesn’t fall out (this can happen!).

Kegels are basically just exercises that you do to strengthen your muscles down there. They are very simple. All you do is act like you are holding your pee. So for example, when you pee, just stop peeing. In the middle of it. Do this two times or so and you’re good to go. Eventually, you can learn to do them without peeing.

How can they help you when your menstrual cup is leaking?

They can help you by creating the seal (and, as we’ve discussed, the seal is critical). If you fold your cup and insert it and it doesn’t pop open all the way, or even if it does, you can do kegels to help create the seal. It does feel a little weird doing these exercises while the cup is inside of you (it basically feels like you are trying to push the menstrual cup out of you), but I’ve found that they really help when creating the seal or if you’re having problems with your cup opening all the way.

Kegels also help when you are trying to get the menstrual cup out. If you have it in there good, it might be hard to get out depending on its position. This is where the “pushing it out” feeling comes in handy.

9. Open Your Mouth

This is a weird one, but it works—keeping your mouth open while inserting/getting your cup in properly can help relax your muscles down there, therefore allowing the cup to open naturally and situate itself in the proper position. This one has helped me a lot!

10. Squat

Just as the size and fold of your cup matters as well as the position of your cervix, so does the position YOU are in when inserting your menstrual cup.

I’ve found that different cups come with different instructions for insertion. Some women insert the cup while sitting on the toilet, others while standing, some while squatting.

I’m here to tell you that if your menstrual cup is leaking, you might want to consider changing your position when you insert the cup. In my personal experience, squatting works the best. I never insert my cup any other way.

I started squatting to check my cervix when I started using the fertility awareness method, and I’ve found that this is just a way better position to find my cervix and insert the cup.

Every woman is different so find what works for you, but definitely give squatting a try if your menstrual cup is leaking!

11. Get the Right Size

There are different sizes and shapes of the cups. You need to pick the one that is best for you.

The guidelines that the menstrual cup websites have for sizes seem to be accurate. Mostly I feel that it is personal preference about which cup works best for you, and unfortunately, sometimes this just has to happen with trial and error. Reading reviews is helpful also! If you’re not sure about the size, contact the company and talk to them about it.

12. Contact the Company

If you’ve literally tried everything and your cup is still leaking—don’t give up! Contact the company that made your cup. Tell them what’s going on. They will help you!

I finally had to do this when I was on my fourth menstrual cup, the Lunette, and broke down and contacted the company. I should have done this sooner, because four menstrual cups later… seriously?!

The customer care people at Lunette were incredibly nice, understanding, and kept working with me and asking questions until we had the problem figured out (it was a combination of my cervix being to the left and the cup being too small… those sizes aren’t for everyone! Just because you’re 25 and haven’t given birth vaginally doesn’t mean you need the bigger size and vice versa. These are just guidelines. You’ll only know by trial and error which cup works for you!)

So What Works for Me?

After trying The Keeper and The Lady Cup (both sizes), I use the larger size of the Lunette and have been very successful with this cup.

Here’s my routine for inserting my cup without leaking:

  1. Wash my hands and my cup with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, rinsing thoroughly
  2. Squat
  3. Check where my cervix is
  4. Fold the cup (I use the “7” fold)
  5. Open my mouth
  6. Insert the cup angled back towards my rectum but also towards my cervix (my cervix is angled to the left)
  7. Let the cup go (I can usually hear it “pop” open; this sound can help you know if the seal is there)
  8. Rotate the cup
  9. Pull the cup down
  10. Do 2-3 kegels
  11. Give it another tug to make sure it’s good

All done!

I know it sounds confusing and complicated… trust me, one day, you’ll find what works for you!

Other Resources

Bottom line: if your menstrual cup is leaking, it’s not working. I hope this list helps. If you’re still confused, there’s this great video by this British girl (woman? She looks so young!) that will give you some more visual help. She is really awesome!

Good luck! 🙂