Goji Berries for Chronic Illness

I’ve written a bit before about my son, Gabe, and his health issues.¬† One aspect we deal with is the ups and downs that occur with his health.¬† He has allergies and a very sensitive immune system.¬† Allergens seem to have a massive systemic affect on him and of course, his skin problems.¬† He had been doing really, really well this summer but I was¬†dreading¬†this time of year because it has always been very hard on him.¬† Here, in Minnesota, the ragweed gets really bad through late August and September.¬† The ragweed affects him terribly.¬† So much that we have to shut up the house and run two big air purifiers 24/7.

As August stretched on and Gabe continued to go downhill, it dawned on us that he was in no shape to go to school.¬† The allergens triggered a big flare with his skin.¬† Areas that had been healed for a long time became red and flakey and painful again.¬† He deals with a lot of pain every day to the point that we have little bottles of children’s ibuprofen stashed around the house. ¬†Image may contain: 1 person

I signed him up for an online school, because I was not about the make him suffer through another school year.¬† Last year was pretty bad.¬† He spent so many days quietly suffering while trying to be a “normal kid”.¬† He had something crazy like 47 absences.¬† This year we are going to give him the break that he needs.¬† I’m his learning coach and his caregiver so I won’t have as much time to blog.

But I absolutely will continue to research all things health and natural wellness.  In an attempt to help my son (and myself!) and whoever happens across my blog.

What has been helping Gabe the most lately has been…*drumroll*‚Ķ goji berry powder!¬† I got mine¬†here.¬†¬†I actually bought it back in February but didn’t do much with it.¬† I was keto with a vengeance and once I realized it had carbs, it got¬†shelved. ¬†I was organizing my kitchen cupboards awhile back and rediscovered it and figured I should give it another shot.¬† I started making “recovery drinks” or post workout drinks with coffee, ice, collagen powder, a heaping tablespoon goji powder, a tablespoon of raw cocoa, pyure sweetener and a bit of milk.¬†20180913_1401202792594796765434391.jpg The shake is¬†so good.¬† Not only does it taste amazing but it’s jam-packed with antioxidants. and a bit of protein from the collagen.¬† I noticed I felt really amazing after drinking it and was experiencing less soreness after workouts.

So yesterday, when Gabe was just dragging and too tired to even do school work, I decided to whip up a fruit smoothie with a secret scoop of goji powder included.¬† He sucked down his smoothie (goji, while not super tasty on it’s own, blends really well with other flavors) and was¬†bouncing off the walls for hours. ¬†It was really wonderful to see him happy and full of energy again.¬† He’s had a really rough month.¬† He got all his work done and even some extra stuff.

It’s definitely something I’ll incorporate into his regular routine.¬† I’m also going to look into Indian Gooseberry, or “Amla” because it is like Goji berry on¬†steroids. ¬†

Here is some more¬†more info on the amazing health promoting effects of goji berries.¬† You can add it to coffee, yogurt, smoothies.¬† I even used it as the “flour” in some dark chocolate brownies.¬† They were¬†amazing and had a flavor like the brookside acai chocolates but richer and more complex.¬† Maybe I’ll post a recipe in the future ūüėČ

End of Summer (Hallelujah!)

“Stop growling at me!”

“Put those scissors down now, you are not giving the dog a haircut!”

“Well just hit him back…”

These are all things I have said to my children in the recent timeline in the adventure of my life.¬† To say I’ve been stressed is an understatement.¬† To make issues worse; my middle child (Gabe) gets¬†really¬†severe seasonal allergies this time of year.¬† It’s been tough to venture out at all.¬† He gets purple circles around his eyes and his eczema flares up terribly.

Whatever constitutes as my “self-care” has totally been back-burnered. Er, just pushed off the stove all together.¬† The pan is cold, dusty and the contents are congealed.

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My Self-Care Jello Salad

I’ve been on and off the keto wagon.¬† I even did a memorable 3 day “zero-carb” stint.¬† It’s been major struggle bus all summer.¬† I need alone time.¬† I need quiet.¬† I need to be able to vacuum without worrying about my daughter expressing herself artistically on our van with a sharpie.¬† True story.¬† It happened.

When I am stressed it is just so hard to stay away from the snickers and other feel-good carbs.¬† I know eating sugar really exacerbates my stress and anxiety but still… the struggle is real!¬† I’ve also noticed that when I fall off the wagon I tend to balloon up immediately.¬† At first I thought it was fat, but then I realized that it’s extra water and glycogen.¬† And…some fat too.

I just keep trying to keep a good perspective.  The number on the scale is not that important in the grand scheme of things.  I know soon my stress levels are going to go way down.  It might coincide with the arrival of a giant yellow vehicle.

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If you’re a mom and you don’t get excited for back to school….we can’t be friends.

Back to the zero carb, or “carnivore”.¬† I know, it’s crazy.¬† I decided (crazy person that I am) that I should at least try it.¬† The good; I had almost no cravings.¬† I felt very calm and focused.¬† I like cheeseburgers.¬† The bad; I felt tired and definitely got hit with some keto flu or die-off or¬†something. ¬†Digestion was¬†not great. ¬†Not to say I wouldn’t try it again, maybe as a “reboot” before going back to regular keto but I wouldn’t want to do it long term.¬† It’s crazy restrictive.¬† It’s plain crazy.¬† People who end up on zero carb long term usually have to because they have severe auto-immune issues and react to¬†salicylates in vegetables.¬† It makes sense because plants technically can’t run to avoid predators.¬† They produce compounds to avoid being eaten or digested.¬† Think beans.¬† Cows notoriously have 4 stomachs to break down grass.¬† We do not.¬† I also know that when I do eat a meal of veggies (like a huge salad) I usually end up feeling gross, full but somehow not satisfied.¬† If I ate a big, juice (bunless!!) burger I feel really good.

I’ve learned quite a bit about the zero carb movement and it does make sense to me.¬† It also doesn’t seem as crazy as it did at first.¬† It’s something I’ll keep on my radar for sure.¬† If you curious about zero-carb, check out Kelly Hogan’s amazing¬†story.

Hopefully I’ll be back at regular blogging with more adventures and self-experiments.¬† I’d also like to have more of an emphasis on intuitive eating and health over weight loss.¬† I’ve definitely realized that if you are approaching your diet with a single-minded focus on your weight and size, you are probably going to end up feeling miserable and deprived.¬† Especially if you don’t lose weight as quickly as you hoped.¬† If you approach your diet as a holistic plan to be healthier and to feel good, those inevitable weight fluctuations won’t bother you so much. ¬†

When Confronted with Ignorance

 

On day four I am doing really good.¬† I feel more clear-headed.¬† I¬†feel¬†like it’s working and that is probably the most important thing.¬† I’m having some cravings here and there (chocolate…) but I am bound and determined to do this.

I had an irritating experience yesterday.¬† I’m in a fitness group on facebook.¬† There’s a certain lady that posts frequently as she is trying to get into shape.¬† She had posted about how hard it was to give up sweets.¬† I reached out, mentioned candida, and sent her a link to my blog.

Which is not something I do lightly.¬† I know this is a public blog but it’s really my space.¬† I am pretty candid, 100% real.¬† I’m not selling anything and I don’t make any money doing this.¬† I do it really just to share my experiences and maybe help someone looking for answers.¬† That’s it.

So when this woman took a few minutes to peruse my blog and then came back dismissing basically (what amounts to) my¬†years¬†or researching and personal experience…also claiming that it is impossible to heal yourself of virtually anything.¬† She had a lot of diagnoses (ADD, asthma, whatever…) so she was an expert on all things health.¬† See the source image

I had to talk myself off the ledge.  At this point I had just consumed hot liquids and coconut oil on my fast so I was pretty quick to get in touch with my primal anger.

I corrected her on a couple points that she had incorrectly inferred, ending succinctly with “If I thought the way you do I’d probably still be sick and miserable.”¬† A little sassy, yes, but not close to what I¬†wanted¬†to say.

Some people just aren’t going to get it.¬† Some people think it’s weird if you question the (cough*pharmaceutical run*cough) mainstream medical advice.¬† If I never questioned doctors I would probably still be eating gluten and half way dead by now.¬† According to one doctor I saw, out of sheer desperation of “I’m in my early 20’s, why do I feel like I am 90 and normal digestion is a faint memory?”¬† Nah, you’re normal.¬† But you do need a flu shot.

Conventional mainstream medicine almost killed my son.¬† What started as minor eczema snowballed as he needed stronger steroids (black box) and oral prednisone and they were pushing immunosuppressant drugs.¬† We woke up to the fact that these drugs were actually¬†causing¬†their own condition that turned out to be a million times worse than his original eczema.¬† It’s taken literal blood, sweat and tears to pull him back from the brink and restore his health.¬† If we listened to the doctors I just shudder to think where he’d be now.¬† 95% of what we did was natural and it’s working.

This was him on steroids.¬† Notice how pale and tired he looks.¬† He was going downhill badly and we didn’t know what to do.¬†Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, shoes and child

This is what happened we discontinued steroid use.  All over his entire body.
Image may contain: 1 person, indoorHis skin turned fire-engine red, oozed and peeled off.  He was also completely wrecked from near adrenal failure as he had been on artificial cortisol for so long.  He was bed ridden for months.  A year and a half later he is returning to being a normal, healthy little boy.

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He smelt something gross at Whole Foods!

Anyways, I went off on a tangent all to say that THIS is why I am passionate about natural health and true healing.¬† You CAN heal.¬† You DON’T have to accept being sick and miserable.

I am¬†not¬†anti-doctor or western medicine.¬† Not at all.¬† But it’s a very symptom-driven industry.¬† As in, they treat the symptom, not the cause.¬† Not once did a doctor ever ask me about what Gabe was eating.¬† They just prescribed the creams and pushed me to use more.¬† When he developed chronic pneumonia we were told it’s a “triad”.¬† Kids with eczema almost always develop asthma and allergies.¬† But, WHY?¬† No one ever talked about it.¬† Now I know the strong steroids were suppressing his immune system to the point where he had no strength to fight off anything.¬† He would get sick and stay sick.¬† His doctor said it was “normal”.¬† To hell with that!

Now my son is in excellent shape with his cardiovascular system.  He can run and skip and jump and his asthma is completely gone.  We are still dealing with some skin issues but they are a million times better than they used to be.  His energy is back 90%.  He is on zero meds or prescriptions.  His medicine is cod liver oil, vitamins, astaxanthin, green drinks, and alkaline water and of course a gluten and sugar free diet.

The point is, there is always hope.¬† I believe it with all my heart.¬† I blog to share¬†hope¬†because I know life can be tough.¬† Chronic illness can suck the life out of you.¬† Sometimes you get kicked when you are down.¬† But when you are laid flat you can look up and gain a new perspective.¬† You can find hope where you didn’t previously knew it could be found.

If we had followed doctors orders, I have no doubt that Gabe could have, probably would have; died an early death from the extreme toxicity of the drugs.

We brought him back to his pediatric dermatologist office a few days into his steroid withdrawal, when all hell was breaking loose, looking for hope or answers.  They were hostile, blamed us, said Gabe needed to be admitted and slathered head to toe in steroids and antibiotics.  We stormed out.  Best thing we ever did. 20180805_1536293182491772027965179.jpg

 

 

 

Day Three, Yay Me

Yesterday I ended up feeling some die-off symptoms for sure.¬† I spose that’s to be expected after consuming¬† an entire cup of coconut oil. ¬†I’m a “go big or go home” type of person.¬† Obviously.

For me, it’s really all or nothing.

Part of the reason for the fast was that I wanted to get my drinking under control.¬† That sounds really dramatic.¬† *ugh*¬† I never drank much in my early 20’s.¬† The experiences I had as a teen were drinking to the point of blacking out.¬† I hated that out of control feeling and didn’t drink for years.¬† In my late 20’s I started discovering wine and the fact that I really enjoyed it.

I don’t know when it officially becomes a problem but I know I didn’t want to go a night without it.¬† I was also developing a tolerance and needing more and more to get my pleasant little buzz.

I knew I needed to check myself and that I was sabotaging my health goals.¬† Even lower carb wine is¬†not a great choice¬†if you have candida overgrowth.¬† It’s not great for staying in ketosis.¬† It’s not great when you feel like you *need* it.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying wine or beer or whatever in moderation.  But you have to be honest with yourself and evaluate if it is contributing to your goals.  Especially if you have a family history of alcoholism (and I do)…

I’m not saying I’m an alcoholic, or that I’ll never enjoying a drink again, I just want to give my body a break.¬† Plus, trying to do any sort of detox and continuing to drink is…really dumb.¬† You’re liver is going to be overwhelmed.¬† You’re likely to stir up toxins that you can’t process and they’ll just redistribute through your body…all while making you feel like death.

I did notice when I got super strict and low carb the desire to drink went away almost completely.  It makes me wonder if my desire to drink wine was, in part, due to the fact that little yeasty bastards were demanding more sugar- in any form.  Alcohol and Candida 

I’ve talked to some people who had candida issues and they couldn’t stay out of the bread bowl.¬† Or they get shakey if they go 4 hours without eating.¬† Some people become full blown alcoholics.¬† Or, like me, it’s damn near impossible to resist the siren song of¬†sweet. ¬†I am really proud of myself for taking these steps.¬† And it’s so important to “pat yourself on the back” when you make steps to break bad habits or better your health.¬† It’s not easy.¬† But it is worth it.¬† Especially since I¬†do¬†have a lot on my plate.¬† My kids are all home for summer break and they¬†follow me around all day. ¬†Not silently.¬† No.¬† They want to be fed.¬† They want to be entertained.¬† They want to tattle on a sibling.¬† All.¬† Day.¬†Image may contain: 5 people, including Sierra Rose, people smiling, child and closeup

Switching gears a bit- I’ve been doing pretty well.¬† I decided to do a workout and I noticed more little red bumps with white crystals on my abdomen.¬† Not as bad as last time.¬† What I’ve been doing has had the undesired effect of making me run to the bathroom for round after round of hot watery explosions.¬†See the source image
Not the intended effect.

I decided I need to add bentonite clay and psyllium capsules to get more of a real detox- not a “just ate sushi at a buffet in a dive at 4 pm” detox.

I also hope to use this time to not only break bad habits and feel better, but to grow closer to God.¬† I’ve really been slacking, spiritually, of late and fasting is a great way to shake off spiritual apathy.

 

 

Day One, Get’er Done

My detox kit came yesterday and I am well on my way, ya’ll.¬† It’s a 14 day plan and during that time I am consuming¬†no¬†alcohol, sugar or carbs.¬†See the source image I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin for myself right now.

No, not really.  The hardest part is determining to start.  

I kid you not, 95% of the allergies that were ruining my life yesterday have cleared up already.  

I can tell my ketone levels are very high because my thinking is much sharper and I have that “quiet hum” feeling to my thoughts.

At this point I am doing coffee and tea with ample amounts of organic, virgin coconut oil and some grass-fed butter.¬† The point is not to lose weight.¬† I just want to trigger some major¬†autophagy¬†and clear out my digestive system.¬† I’m hoping to see some Alien-style stuff.¬† Just google mucoid plaque and you’ll see what I mean.¬† Or don’t, if you are eating.¬† It’s basically just a disgusting buildup of a rubbery substance that can line the insides of our intestines.¬† It obviously gunks up our system and prevents proper nutrient absorption.¬† Lots of people have decided to post theirs online.¬† I won’t.¬† But it’s out there if you’re curious.¬† It typically only comes out with extended fasting and a cleansing protocol.¬† It brings shock and horror but I’d imagine if you have gunk that needs to come out, you’ll feel like a million bucks when it does. ¬†See the source image

There’s is no way I am living off of bulletproof coffee for 14 days so I’ll incorporate some raw veggies too.¬† I’ll try to post everyday with *fun and interesting* tidbits from my experience.

Sugar-Booger

Ok, so my title makes sense in that I am theorizing that my recent sugar consumption may have triggered my allergies to basically explode.¬† I wish it was just boogers.¬† No, it’s been itchy ears, sneezing, watery snot (sorry, TMI), itchy skin, and even a full-on sore throat.¬† I’ve always struggled with allergies but in recent years it has seemed to improve as my health improved.¬† Even to the point that we got a cat this summer.¬† Which never would have been possible in my not so distant past. ¬†See the source image

I’ve been ok with the cat but allergies are cumulative.¬† Meaning the cat fur, dust kicked up by vacuuming, pollen floating in through open windows- all conspire together to drive you into a state of histamine overload and sheer misery.

So how does sugar play into all of this?¬† Basically the cradle of life lies within our guts, apparently.¬† Healthy gut=happy life.¬† Sad gut=jiggly butt.¬† Lol¬† But seriously a poor microbiome can actually¬†cause obesity.¬† Our insides are host to billions of bacteria.¬† Some are highly beneficial and aid us in digesting and properly absorbing nutrients.¬† Others are parasitic little buggers that actually¬†make us eat sugar¬† Candida is kind of a buzz word right now it is basically just an overgrowth of yeast.¬† You know you have candida if you’ve struggled with yeast and fungal infections.¬† Candida is also implicated in allergies, eczema, obviously sugar cravings and even depression.

Candida wants to survive in your body at your expense.  See the source image

What causes a candida overgrowth in the first place?¬† A history of weakened immunity, antibiotic usage, poor diet, stress.¬† Basically everyone has some level of candida but a healthy immune system keeps it in check.¬† If you’re like me, and took a million rounds of antibiotics in childhood and grew up on a high sugar diet- chances are you are a candida hotel, baby.

Your poor gut health could be causing your lethargy.¬† Maybe the best thing for your hay fever is a good probiotic?¬† Maybe you’re depressed because your body is overrun with these tiny little parasites that release toxins into your system continually?

I’ve had periods where I have cut out sugar and I feel so much better.¬† But like many addicts, there have been many relapses.¬† Like yesterday when I made chocolate chip cookies “for my kids”.¬†See the source image I used almond flour, sweetened with monk fruit, but there was still sugar in the form of insanely delicious 63% dark guittard chocolate chips.¬† Omg they were so good.¬† I ate, well, a lot.

This morning I woke up with awful allergies.  Just awful.  Itchy, achy, miserable.

I was able to feel better using a recipe I found online.¬† It’s 2 parts sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to one part potassium carbonate.¬† You mix 1/2 tsp. of the mix into 8 ounces warm water and drink.¬† It’s gross but it does help.

I am excited to start my cleanse soon.¬† It should be arriving this afternoon.¬† Doing a cleanse, and combining it with proven candida obliterator- coconut oil, should make a profound difference on how I handle the onslaught of fall allergies in Minnesota.¬† I’m also hoping for less cravings and more energy. ¬†Renew Life - Flush & Be Fit - Woman's Care - supports detoxification and cleanse supplement for women - 14 day program

This is the cleanse I’m doing but you could get results just through “starving” off the bad bacteria and yeast with a very low carb (zero sugar!) approach and making sure that you are getting enough sleep.

Cleansing and Toxins

One topic that has always interested me is¬†cleansing. ¬†If I had an irrational fear (if…haha)¬†it would be of toxins.¬† Many years ago when I started learning about how ubiquitous toxins are to our modern world it literally made me nearly sick with anxiety. I’m a person of faith so I don’t really fear death, per se, but living a subpar life.¬† My lifeforce (or whatever you want to call it) dulled and blunted by toxins.

There is many benefits to living in modern society.  But with that comes a price.  Sitting behind a big diesel truck in traffic.  Flame retardants on our mattresses.  Cancer causing chemicals sprayed onto our foods.  We can do a lot to minimize our exposure to toxins, but what about the toxins that have built up in our systems over the years?

Here in the Midwest, I have always lived within a stones throw of a field.¬† Seems innocuous until you realize that the only fields around here are GMO corn and soy that is drenched in chemical fertilizers and ultra-toxic roundup.¬† That of course works it’s way into the drinking water.¬† It’s in the air we breathe.

I also grew up eating a lot of canned foods (hello aluminum!).  We thought canned soup was healthy.   We had no idea of the dangers of microwaving food in plastic.  Diet coke was the healthy option.

See the source imageYeah, yeah, so we are all ridden with toxins.¬† Now what?¬† That’s where the cleanse comes in.¬† I know the word “cleanse” comes with some baggage.¬† In my research I’ve found that a lot of people doing youtube videos and writing articles on the subject tend to range from kooky to snake oil-y.¬† Or maybe you think of cleansing as a violent, run to the bathroom process….

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I couldn’t not include this GIF, you’re welcome

It definitely shouldn’t be that.¬† It shouldn’t be expensive.¬† It can be as easy as fasting for a day and drinking bergamot tea.¬† I also have used¬†this¬†simple 3 day cleanse a couple times and really liked it.¬† I found it at Wal-Mart for around $6.¬† I’ve also taking¬†red clover¬†supplement, and sorry, TMI; but it gave my a weird rash across my abdomen.¬† I wasn’t sure if it was a reaction or what.¬† The next day I just happened to hear about rashes being a common byproduct as your body is detoxing.¬† Everything gets stirred up and you can get some weird symptoms.¬† A couple days later I had taken it again and had done a workout.¬† The rash came back with little white dots of which I can only describe as crystalline.¬† It scrapped away.¬† Of course I have no proof, but I believe I was literally sweating out toxins.

I am going to embark on a more in depth cleanse, using¬†this renew life cleanse¬†(it’s a lot cheaper on amazon).¬† I plan to combine it with a form of water fasting.¬† At least maybe as much as I feel I can handle.¬† I like to do my fasting with tea as well because it accelerates¬†autophagy¬†which is huge in detoxing out junk down to the cellular level.¬† You don’t have to buy any fancy, expensive teas.¬† Any bergamot tea will do.¬† I also like spicy chai tea because the cinnamon and other spices are very anti-inflammatory and healing.¬† Plus it tastes amazing!¬† I feel like fasting is so much easier when you can combine it with hot teas.

The idea behind a cleanse is that you want to feel better when it’s done.¬† Lighter, more energetic.¬† Your brain may be sharper.¬† Your skin clearer.¬† You always want to listen to your body.¬† If you start feeling really terrible you may be stirring up more toxins then you can safely process.¬† You may want to back off a bit or opt for a more gentle “Daniel Fast” approach- incorporating fresh (preferably organic!) fruits and vegetables.

You can also greatly aid in the process by supporting your lymph system through rebounding (jumping) and dry brushing.¬† If you’re doing any sort of cleanse/fast you want to stay away from vigorous exercise.¬† This is about healing so you want to avoid eternal stresses.¬† Even good ones like exercise.

Don’t be like me and stress out about it.¬† The far better option is to find ways to naturally support your bodies ability to detoxify and heal itself.¬† You can mini-cleanses once a month and a more in depth cleanse once or twice a year.