5 Ways Herbalists Have Immensely Helped Me

Many of you know the story of how a crazy autoimmune disease I was diagnosed with was just the result of a gluten intolerance. I found out this monumental piece of information with the help of an herbalist when I was 21.

No one I knew had ever seen an herbalist and I’m not sure why I felt driven to find one. Maybe it was because I was facing a life of chemo. Maybe because I was in chronic pain. Or maybe it was just something bigger telling me that this wasn’t the end of my journey.

I’ve worked with two herbalists since the one I originally saw moved away. Here’s how these women have immensely helped me improve my health and quality of life with some simple suggestions!

Note: I am not a doctor. Please take the following information from my experience only. This information is not intended to provide medical guidance.

Discovering the Cause of My Autoimmune Disease (Hint: It was Gluten)

When I was 21, I was told by a well-known doctor in a city near me that I would most likely be on chemotherapy for the rest of my life. Although I felt like I wanted to give up hope at that time, I ended up pursuing another option—finding a natural treatment for my autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

Through an herb shop about an hour away from me, I located an herbalist who agreed to see me. During my second visit with her, she told me that she thought gluten was causing my illness. I thought she was crazy. I hardly knew what gluten was.

She turned out to be right. A protein named gluten was causing my immune system to attack all my muscles and my skin. Within a week of going gluten-free, all my autoimmune symptoms disappeared and I was able to stop taking all of my medication. That was seven years ago.

The fact that I spent over four years on detrimental pharmaceutical medications, gained 30 pounds, and felt sick all the time was all undone by a woman who knew that food could make us sick. Her simple but profound knowledge dramatically changed my life for the better.

Without discovering that root cause of my illness, I would likely still be on all those medications today and still feel terrible. My quality of life would have been compromised all because doctors are still grasping the idea that food can cause such severe illnesses.

Saying Goodbye to My Crazy-Bad Menstrual Cramps

I have more or less always had bad menstrual cramps. They aren’t consistent, though. Some months are absolutely terrible. Other months aren’t bad at all. Trust me, I’ve yet to find a pattern (although I have a few theories after trying to figure it out for the last 16 years).

When I began working with an herbalist to learn more about the Fertility Awareness Method, we also worked on addressing the cause of my crazy bad cramps. The solutions she suggested have helped me to remain mostly pain-free during my period today.

Through drinking a ginger infusion, taking magnesium glycinate, and taking omega-3 supplements, my menstrual cramps have majorly improved. In the last seven months, I have only had one episode of bad pain thanks to her suggestions.

Since, unfortunately, I’ll be having a period for a long time, her help has enabled me to not feel like I want to die just because I am a woman.

Helping Me Realize Fats Are Not Bad

I have yet to have an herbalist not recommend fat to me (except, of course, the horrible kinds like trans fats).

Saturated fat such as animal fat and coconut oil as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as avocados and olive oil are all part of a healthy body. Yes, people will argue against this. I’m not getting involved in that discussion here. I’m here to say that my herbalists helped me realize that fats are not bad—in fact, they’re pretty essential.

Through their help, I’ve been getting more fats from all types of sources (except for Twinkies) and have more energy and better skin!

Implementing a Natural Method of Birth Control

The Fertility Awareness Method has been an enriching experience for me and my husband. I would have never been able to learn the method as intimately as I have without my herbalist.

The method enables my husband and I to forgo conventional methods of birth control, many of them toxic, and simply track my cycle via taking my basal body temperature (BBT) and monitoring my cervical fluid to know when I’m fertile and avoid intercourse on those days.

Implementing a natural method of birth control has allowed me to honor my body and also choose a conscious form of contraception that doesn’t rely on toxic pharmaceuticals. This is a huge benefit for someone who doesn’t want kids (cough, that’s me).

Allowing Me to Realize Food Is Medicine

Before I began working with herbalists, I didn’t understand how much food impacts our health. Food is everything to our health. What you put in your body, the supplements you take, whether you choose to smoke and drink, all have huge effects on our systems.

Perhaps this is the most important gift herbalists have given me, being able to realize that I have so many chances to put either medicine or poison into my body. By choosing the foods that I feel are best for me, I choose medicine (by medicine obviously meaning plants and grass-fed, free-range meat).

Whether it’s probiotics or herbs, food and supplements are a powerful form of medicine, one that I feel grateful to have tapped into with the help of a professional.

Working with an Herbalist

I would absolutely recommend working with an herbalist if you’re facing any health issues that do not yet have an identified root cause. In many instances, conventional doctors are only trained to treat our symptoms, not the cause of our illnesses.

Even for people who believe they have discovered the root cause of their illness or symptoms, an herbalist can help you better manage your health. I’m so grateful to have worked with my herbalists to be as healthy as I am today!

My Experience with Dermatomyositis: How Gluten Was Behind It All

I’ve previously written about my misdiagnosis of dermatomyositis (which was 11 years ago now!) on HuffPost and Natural News. Today, I want to share more about what happened to me all those years ago here on my personal site.

In an effort to not to let what happened define me, I’ve mostly shied away from talking about my diagnosis of dermatomyositis at the age of 16, although I did write about it briefly when I first started my business on The Green Writing Desk.

But here we are, and I realize that part of my work is helping others and sharing something that I used to consider monumental about myself—that I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis and almost five years later, discovered all my symptoms were being caused by a gluten intolerance.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Here’s what happened and how I came to realize a devastating, life-changing illness called dermatomyositis was being caused by one of the world’s most common foods.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This article is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or provide medical advice. Please view the following story from my personal experience only. If you have any more questions about my personal experience with dermatomyositis, please feel free to contact me.

The Beginning: Muscle Weakness and Rash

I graduated high school one year early at the age of 16. As many people can testify, I was a punk-ass teenager who had dreadlocks from not brushing her hair and wore men’s clothes to school. I didn’t care about much, and I certainly didn’t care about going to college, which was why I was starting a job as a nanny for a four-year-old boy with autism a week after graduating.

A week after I started my job, about two weeks post-graduation, I was at work one Monday morning when I found I had trouble getting off the toilet. There was a vague muscle ache in my thighs. It was odd, but it wasn’t painful, and I didn’t pay it any attention.

Just days later at the end of that week, a Friday, I was in so much pain and my muscles so affected I couldn’t walk up a set of stairs. I remember going to Starbucks with my friend Kat that night to get passion iced tea, and my legs were in so much pain that I had trouble getting out of the car. I remember crying while trying to walk up the set of curved stairs to my room—I was literally pulling myself up the stairs on the railing. My muscles were giving up.

My disease quickly escalated to the point that I couldn’t work, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t really do much at all. I first went to an urgent care doctor with my mom and was misdiagnosed with Lyme’s disease, then placed on antibiotics, which made me even sicker.

When the antibiotics didn’t help, we saw another doctor, who admitted he had no clue what was going on, even after I started developing a mild red rash all over my body. This was our family doctor who we’d trusted to care for us for years. I tried to explain to the doctors what it felt like: “It feels like I worked out A LOT, but I haven’t worked out,” and “Everything hurts.”

I had pain medication from my Lyme’s diagnosis and still couldn’t sleep. I was in pain all the time. I felt like I was going to die. This went on for three weeks before I woke up one morning and my legs—my thighs, the initial part of my body that hurt—were extremely swollen. We saw the family doctor once more, who sent us straight over to the hospital, where a bed was waiting for me.

After taking vials of blood and examining my rash, which had come on my face, back, arms, and legs, I was allowed to rest there for a few hours before being woken up in the middle of the night. Turns out I had an irregular heartbeat, and the hospital couldn’t treat me. I was being transferred, to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, at about 4 a.m. The doctors said all my muscles had become involved and were essentially breaking down.

The Middle: Diagnosis and Treatment

I really hated being at Johns Hopkins. It was a crowded, noisy, inner-city hospital in Baltimore, about an hour away from our house, somewhere a farm girl like me had no business being. My roommate was a girl who couldn’t speak and had swollen lips; I got a glimpse of her once through the curtain.

After being at Hopkins for a day or so and running more tests, I was finally diagnosed. A team of doctors stood in front of me and told me that I would be sick for the rest of my life with a disease called dermatomyositis. It did not have a cause, it just happened. It had a treatment, but was incurable. I would need to be on medication. I might not ever feel better.

This was devastating news. I remember sobbing while they told me, and my mom standing next to my hospital bed, telling me to get it together. I couldn’t. It felt like someone telling me that I wasn’t actually going to get better. How was I supposed to feel about that, at 16 years old?

The main doctor on my team, one who was standing there that day, a rheumatologist whose name I will not disclose here, treated me for the next three years. I was treated with high doses of prednisone intravenously, Methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug) via injection, among other anti-inflammatory meds such as Naproxen. After four days, my parents and I finally convinced the hospital to let me go home with all my medicine.

At home, things were different. I couldn’t walk by myself, couldn’t shower by myself, couldn’t really do anything by myself. My family had to help me do all these things. I felt different. It felt like I had been branded with something, and what I felt now had a name I could identify it by: dermatomyositis.

I got out of the hospital a few days before my seventeenth birthday, in the middle of July. For the rest of the summer and into early fall, my parents and I drove to Johns Hopkins twice a week so that I could get intravenous steroid treatments. At home, I did my injection of Methotrexate once a week. Very slowly, I started getting better from dermatomyositis, although I understood it was a chronic disease. Once my dermatomyositis was more or less under control through lots of medication, eventually, I went back to work and had a relatively “normal” life.

Not Quite the End: Relapsing

Three years after my diagnosis of dermatomyositis, I relapsed. I was weaned off most of my medication by this point, and for a couple years, I felt healthier and happier than I had in a long time.

I had lost the 30 pounds I gained from all the prednisone and then some, weighing in at about 125 pounds when I was about 140 when I’d graduated high school. I started college over a year after I was diagnosed, in the fall of 2008, just going part-time to better manage my stress. I even had a few flings with guys I’d met in college. I felt more like a person and less like a patient, until the fall of 2010, when the first relapse happened.

After experiencing an intense period of stress, my legs started hurting again and I felt fatigued. I was afraid. My bloodwork didn’t show any muscle inflammation; my CK levels were normal. My rheumatologist from Hopkins put me back on my medication—lower doses than before—but it helped me get better.

I didn’t want to be on the medication for any longer than I had to. I’d met a guy in my phlebotomy summer program in 2009 who had gotten me into eating healthy. For the first time, I was paying attention to what I ate, buying my own food, and trying to be better about taking care of myself and more conscious of what I put into my body. The medication made me gain weight, feel gross, break out, and the Methotrexate made me feel nauseous.

So, about eight months after relapsing, in 2011, after going off nearly all my medication, I relapsed again just a few months later. At this point, my Hopkins doctor suggested I find another doctor, given that I was well over the age to be treated by a pediatric rheumatologist.

After asking around, I went to see a doctor in Annapolis who was highly recommended by some women in my lupus group. Lupus is a close cousin of dermatomyositis and these were the closest people I could find to relate to. I’d never met anyone else with dermatomyositis. The group was a helpful support to me during this time of believing I had dermatomyositis.

After seeing this doctor, she told me I would most likely be on chemotherapy for the rest of my life to manage my dermatomyositis. I walked out of the office that day and felt completely and utterly hopeless. The sky was gray and overcast, and as I walked to my car, I tried not to cry. I had just turned 21 a few months earlier. I felt like I was going to die.

The End: Discovering the Root Cause of my Dermatomyositis

It didn’t take me long to realize that I couldn’t accept this fate for my life. I needed someone else who could help me. This doctor was not it. I tentatively felt hope. Maybe this wasn’t the end.

I’m not sure where I got it in my head to find an herbalist, but within a week, I began researching online and placed countless phone calls, trying to find someone who could help me. I spoke to a woman who was moving, so she said she couldn’t help me, but to not give up. Eventually, I found Barbara. I began seeing Barbara in November 2011.

During my second meeting with Barbara, she looked at me and said, “I think gluten is causing your illness.” I was confused. I’d heard about gluten, but only in passing. “Doesn’t that cause stomach problems?” I asked. “It can cause many symptoms,” she told me. In my mind, there was no way it was causing my dermatomyositis.

I thought she was crazy. I even told her so. “I was diagnosed at one of the best hospitals in the country,” I told her. “If they couldn’t figure out what was causing my illness, you won’t be able to.” Barbara maintained that once we’d built my immune system back up a little bit, that she wanted me to go gluten-free.

Ideas are strange things. They grow in our minds. And as I left our meeting that day, her words stuck with me. I did more research and even talked to a friend about it. She had celiac disease, and when I told her what my herbalist said, she didn’t think the idea sounded that crazy. She even gave me a book to read, The Gluten Connection by Shari Lieberman.

By the time I got a couple of chapters into the book, I was convinced that gluten was causing my illness. This is what’s happening to me! I remember thinking. I felt a stirring in my soul that can only be described as a gut feeling that this was it.

Although Barbara didn’t want me to go gluten-free yet, I couldn’t stop myself. I immediately stopped eating gluten. Gluten is mostly in bread products, but it can also be in other weird food products such as soy sauce and beer. I didn’t care. I wasn’t eating any of it.

A few days into my gluten-free diet, my family remarked that I looked weak and pale. It was probably my body detoxing from the gluten; I didn’t know. They were worried about me and weren’t exactly supportive of my decision. Of course, I was still taking medication for my dermatomyositis.

A couple more days into my gluten-free diet, almost one week in, I had an extremely long day. I went to school, then work, then to a friend’s house to hang out. My legs, which were almost always in pain, especially after a long day, didn’t hurt. I remember telling my friend: “My legs don’t hurt. This is amazing!”

My dermatomyositis symptoms disappeared about a week after going gluten-free. A couple weeks later, I weaned myself off all my medication for dermatomyositis, dug my feet in for the long haul of being gluten-free, and I haven’t looked back since.

Now: I’ve Never Felt Better

It’s been almost seven years since I went gluten-free, and to this day, I have experienced no symptoms of dermatomyositis and have taken no medication for the illness.

After reviewing my medical history paperwork from both hospitals, I realized that I had never been tested for gluten intolerance. The doctors truly had no idea what was wrong with me. They made their best guess based on their training, treated me, and I got better. But my immune system couldn’t sustain itself without the medication, because the root cause of my disease went unchecked: gluten.

Once I removed gluten from my diet, my body got better. I got stronger, healthier, and gained a little bit of weight back from my skinny frame in my late teens. Today, I work out several times a week (running, yoga, weights, walking) and come in right around 130. I feel healthier than I ever have.

I don’t necessarily blame the doctors. They are only required to take one nutrition class throughout their entire medical education. How could they have possibly known that food was making me sick? How could they have known that my illness wasn’t some cosmic mystery, that it had a cause, a name, and that name was gluten?

I don’t blame my parents either. Should they have taken me to the hospital earlier, rather than waiting three weeks to get me the help I needed? Of course. But, like any other parents, they did the best they could with what they had. I was a child, I didn’t know better, and I was out-of-my-mind sick; I couldn’t advocate for myself. I trusted them to get me help. Although that “help” came much too late, I don’t think it was entirely their fault. I saw the doctor three times during those three weeks I was sick in the beginning, yet only on the third and final time was I sent to the hospital.

I don’t blame myself either. There was a period of time when I did, but the truth is that I didn’t know. I grew up eating Oreos and Hot Pockets. I didn’t know that food could make me sick. I ate what my parents bought and that was it. I didn’t know what gluten was when I was sixteen, didn’t realize that I was making myself sick. So I’ve had to let that go. I know better now, and that’s what matters.

So What Really Happened?

What happened is that my body, for whatever reason, decided to start reacting to gluten and create such a severe immune response that I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis at the age of 16.

If I had caught my disease earlier, it’s likely that it wouldn’t have gotten so bad, although we still wouldn’t have figured out that gluten was the problem. I would have still been on those terrible drugs.

Gluten is a protein. When we eat food, our body is responsible for breaking that food down into digestible particles that the body can use for nutrients. My body decided to start treating gluten like an invader, and since my body was using gluten to nourish itself, my body was attacking pretty much every part of itself.

It sounds weird, yes, but the body can all the sudden decide it doesn’t like something and start reacting to it, quite literally overnight.

I have a couple of theories for why my body all the sudden decided to start reacting to gluten which landed me with a dermatomyositis diagnosis:

  1. I had just graduated high school a year early, had literally no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and was all the sudden expected to figure it out (read: stress).
  2. My family and I had just finished adding an addition onto our house (of which we did much of the work ourselves), and I was exposed to untold numbers of chemicals through paint, insulation, polyurethane, new carpeting, etc. These materials have highly toxic chemicals in them and I was exposed to them every day for several months.

Do I know for sure what caused my body to feel that gluten was the enemy? No. Do I care? Not really. This is my life now, and I’m so grateful that instead of being on chemo, steroids, and other anti-inflammatory drugs, that I just get to skip bread and feel better than I ever have in my entire life.

FAQs

  1. Do you have celiac disease?

I do not believe so, I believe I have a gluten intolerance. Gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, and celiac disease are all slightly different versions of each other. It’s also important to remember that an intolerance is different from an allergy. I am not allergic to gluten, my body simply doesn’t tolerate it.

  1. Do you have any lasting effects from your disease?

Yes, but they’re minor. When I get really stressed out, my face gets red and my legs hurt. These symptoms are always temporary and fade within a few hours (provided I deal with my stress!).

I also have to pee frequently thanks to all the prednisone I was on. My weight gain from the prednisone also gave me mad stretch marks. I’m also having minor symptoms of a benign tumor on my pituitary gland; whether this is the result of my illness and all those drugs, I don’t know.

  1. Do you still see a doctor?

I have a deep distrust of conventional doctors, of course. I do see an integrative doctor when I need to and I work with an herbalist to address any other health problems I have.

  1. Did you contact your doctors after you found out?

I did contact my Hopkins rheumatologist to let her know, about two years after going gluten-free. Her response was very nice:

It is great to hear from you. I am very glad to hear that you are doing so well now. You are right—there is still a lot to learn about autoimmune diseases and the interaction between diet and inflammation. I am so happy that a gluten-free diet is working for you. It sounds like you have a bright future planned—please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing. I am sure you will be very successful.

  1. So do you have dermatomyositis?

I do not believe I have dermatomyositis. Dermatomyositis isn’t like other illnesses such as HIV or Lyme’s disease: there is no definitive marker in your blood or tissues that proves that you have the disease. Doctors make their best guess based on your symptoms and bloodwork. I believe my immune system was simply responding to a threat, and when the threat wasn’t removed, my symptoms got so severe that they warranted a diagnosis of dermatomyositis. After seven years of not eating gluten and having no symptoms of dermatomyositis without taking medication, I can only assume gluten was the culprit the whole time. 

I’m looking forward to having a bright future without gluten in it, and feel so fortunate that all these years later, I’m still alive, disease-free, and loving life. A huge thank you to everyone who was part of this journey, even if it wasn’t in the way I wanted or imagined. Would I have preferred to not have been diagnosed with dermatomyositis? Of course. But this is my journey, and I can’t be sorry for any of it.

Also, I wrote a research essay on gluten and dermatomyositis while I was at Penn State. If you’re interested in reading more about dermatomyositis and proof that other people like me who had a dermatomyositis diagnosis have healed from a gluten-free diet, just email me and I’ll send it over!

Thank you so much for reading!

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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5 Reasons I Love Eckhart Tolle

The one thing that has changed my life when it comes to how to be present minded is the simple—and yet, life-altering—fact that I am not my mind.

I am not Jenn.

I’m not a health blogger.

I’m not even a bunny loving, tea-drinking, glitter girl.

I am something infinitely more than my mind, my thoughts, or emotions. I am a Being.

I just am.

I recently read Eckhart Tolle’s Book A New Earth after going through a rough patch in an area of my life. It was so amazing, and it helped me heal more in two weeks than all these years without my illness.

Here are five reasons I’m really loving Eckhart Tolle and how his musings have transformed my life.

1. Tolle Advocates for Not Identifying with Your Mind

Tolle acknowledges the power of being present and not identifying with our pasts, our minds, or our emotions.

Doing so only gives strength to the ego in us, which creates a multitude of problems and suffering. When you identify with something, you must defend it, nurture it, become victim to it.

The bridge in the picture represents the pathway between you and your mind.

Bridge

While many people are unable to separate themselves from their mind and feel that they have no choice but to identify with their emotions, their struggles, that fabulous baby pink shade of nail polish, or a career, they don’t see a bridge.

They see only one thing without a way out, which is their mind. People tend to think a lot and totally identify with their thoughts.

The bridge is between you and your mind.

You can be on one side and travel to the other side occasionally, that is to think or be creative or whatever you choose.

But we don’t need to be thinking all the time. In fact, it’s pretty hurtful to us and prevents you from realizing how to be present minded. When you’re here, right now, in this moment, you realize nothing truly matters and just enjoy being.

2. He Cultivates Presence

When considering how to be present minded, we can cultivate presence to experience more joy, less sorrow, and be more effective at what we do.

Cultivating presence is the act of just being in the moment. Cultivate awareness of your body, your environment, your emotions. Allow things to come and go, but do not judge them or label them.

Just be right here where you are.

When you can feel your own presence without the constant chattering of the mind, you become more whole in this moment and less immersed in all your perceived mind problems.

3. He Establishes a Way out of PAin

It’s not easy to let go of all the things you feel establish you and help you to be grounded.

But when you’re thinking how to be present minded, consider that what grounds you is not what actually grounds you, rather just something that makes you feel more secure in your ego.

The way out of pain and suffering is to stop identifying with your mind. Yes, your mind is there, but do not let it consume you. Do not let your emotions be who you are. Nothing can define what you are. You are right here.

4. Tolle Points out the Power of No Resistance

Many of our feelings are responses from the ego.

The ego is always seeking, always wanting, always trying to be superior. Nothing is ever good enough for the ego, not even yourself.

The ego thrives on reaction. It wants you to react and defend your position, which in effect strengthens it. What the ego cannot and will not realize is that there is great power in no resistance.

It’s a challenge to realize that you have a choice and not react. Try it. Next time someone gets upset with you, do not react. Remain present.

How to be present minded begins here.

5. He Acknowledges that Being Is the Ultimate Experience

Just be.

Don’t try to find yourself, seek happiness, or ground yourself in things. It’s amazingly liberating to realize that your past does not define you, that your life situation does not define you, that your objects do not define you.

We’re people who have the ability to stay present, not take criticism personally, and are always looking to learn and grow.

How could you ever be defined?

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. But damn it, sometimes it’s just so much easier! “Thank you so much for the wonderful milk chocolate covered pretzels. They were wonderful.”

 

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!

What Have I Accomplished in My Year After Graduating College?

The year after graduating college can be a daunting one. But I’m here to tell you why mine has been the most liberating ever!

accomplishment

Today has been a year since I graduated from Penn State. It seems nuts to me that it’s been a year, but at the same time, so much has happened.

So what have I accomplished in my year after graduating college?

Focused More on My Personal Growth Than My Professional

When I graduated, I felt like I had a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

I started my B.A when I was 18, and graduated when I was 23. I had spent years trying to get my degree, and now it was over.

What should I do?

I used the year after graduating college to focus much more on my personal self than on my professional one. After all, I’d finished my degree—now it was time to focus on me and my inner goddess.

Got a Full-Time Job—But Quit

So I had a full-time job before I even got my diploma in the mail.

After applying to job after job after job both right before and after I left Penn State, and going on only two interviews, I landed a job at a security firm as a tech writer close to DC. I was terrified that I wasn’t going to get a job but I did, and I was ecstatic to start.

I thought I wanted to do tech writing—turns out, it’s not really my cup of tea. I’m not embarrassed to tell you that I quit that job after only a few days because it went so badly.

I wasn’t happy, and happiness is a priority in my life, especially the year after graduating college.

Got a Part-Time Job

After I quit my first job, I felt lost and confused as to what I wanted.

I was still applying the year after graduating college but had less certainty and confidence as to what I wanted. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but if I couldn’t do tech writing, how could I find a legit writing job?

I applied to the women’s homeless shelter in DC and got the job. It was part-time, but exactly what I needed to figure out what I wanted to do while still making an income the year after graduating college.

Figured Out What I Truly Want To Do

I love my work in DC. It’s been so empowering and it has been a fabulous opportunity to grow and figure out what I want.

I learned that I want to help people and not just homeless people. I wanted to write, too. I just needed to confidence to actually figure out how to start my writing professionally.

Started My Own Business

So walaah! I started my own freelance writing business almost a year after graduating college. It’s going great and I love it, and it feels awesome to get paid doing what I love to do—writing!

Learned Where I Want to Live

Ian was interning in Asheville, North Carolina during the year after graduating college. I drove down there a couple times that summer and spent several weeks with him while I was unemployed (those weeks were some of the most healing of my life, it felt like).

I really loved Asheville and North Carolina. I hope to move there!

Stopped Being so Afraid of Life

When I graduated, I was terrified of so many things. I think more than all these things though, I was afraid of my ability to actually do something worthwhile that people would pay me for.

What would my life mean if I couldn’t do what I loved?

I was so scared of actually living my life and going for my dreams. After this past year after graduating college, I’m still a little scared, but not half as much as I was. And I gained more confidence, too.

Realized How My Misdiagnosis Has Impacted My Life

That crazy illness that I was diagnosed with almost 8 years ago is not the illness I have.

I do not have any illness; my body merely has an autoimmune response to a protein named gluten. I realized that my illness has both made me terrified and less confident.

I’m not sick, and I don’t have to be sick. I choose what’s best for my body. I live the way I want to live. Going through my illness has made me less likely to spend time on things that I don’t want to spend time on. I cherish my time now and what I do with it.

Our lives are so short, so do what makes you happy!

So my year after graduating college didn’t quite go like I thought—but it was a magical one and I’ve come so far personally and professionally!

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.