Frugal Skincare Routines

Every woman has some sort of skin care routine — even if it’s a daily scrub with plain soap and a washcloth.  My routine is simple, pure and costs me about $120-150 a year. I’d thought I’d take a few moments and share what has become to me, the “tried and true”.

Mascara Remover

My dear friend Aimee introduced this to me years ago and I’ve happily stuck with it ever since.  It’s technically not make-up remover, but body butter and works wonderfully (even for waterproof mascara).  The ingredients are simple and pure. And they moisturize the delicate eye area. Perhaps best of all is that a small  4 oz. container that costs $8 USD lasts me an entire year!

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Daily Face Wash

I used this face wash after the mango body butter at night and when I wake in the morning.  The ingredients are also pure and never irritate my skin, but deep clean it.  I usually purchase a large container  (32 oz. for $13 — also lasts me a year!) and then keep refilling my pump (purchase a smaller pump of this seperately).

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Moisturizers 

After I wash my face before bedtime, I apply several drops of this rose hip oil to my neck (upward strokes, ladies!) and face.  It gives your complexion an orange glow, but when absorbed by the morning, that sunny tint is gone.  I’ve noticed that since I began to use it, I have not developed new or deeper wrinkles and my skin stays moist-feeling.  I imagine this $14 jar will easily last me two years!

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This lotion is my all-time favorite.  It took a bit of getting used to in terms of the different texture and smell, but the effects are wondrous.  It is made from honey and its wondrous by-products. You’ll find it addictive!  I can only afford to get one jar a year, but when I have it, I use it at night and then in the morning, under my make-up.  I also use it for my neck, hands, arms and occasionally my legs.  This product is more costly ($40 for 250 ml.).

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After using So-Ho Mish in the morning on my face (when I can), I apply a lotion with SPF 30.  I usually use this product and can manage fine only using 3-4 containers per year.  I don’t like the smell or texture (feels like a thicker sunblock), but have not found anything more affordable with the same results.

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Face Exfoliation

Remember the post I did on honey?  I keep a jar of raw, unfiltered honey in our bathroom and several times a week, I gently scrub my face with a bit.  It works wonders to remove dead skin, clear out pores and add a general glow to the face.  It costs me about $10 a year, too!

Facial Mask

I like to whip of this facial mask a couple times a month and apply to my face.  Leave on for 15 minutes or until dry, and wash off with warm water and a washcloth:  1 egg, 4 mashed strawberries, 1 drop frankincense, 1 drop lavender oil and 1 tablespoon of oatmeal.

Hand and Feet Exfoliation

I keep a glass bowl (covered) in our bathroom and every few days exfoliate my hands and feet with this recipe:  2 cups dead sea salt, 5 T. jojoba oil, 2 drops frankincense and 2 drops of lavender oil.  Rub hands and feet with this thoroughly, then rinse off with warm water.

Enjoy taking care of your beautiful skin! 

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A Beekeeper in Mexico Named Gaudencio and the Wonders of His Honey

My husband and I recently took time for an unusual date:  We visited local beekeeper, Señor Gaudencio, in a small town called Nealtican, about a 20 minute drive from our home here in San Pedro Cholula in Puebla, Mexico.   

We wanted to learn some of the methods and secrets of Gaudencio’s trade, get personal insight into the benefits of all the properties of honey and of course, purchase some of the pure golden sweetness for ourselves.

Gaudencio greeted us just outside his property, located on the edge of town.  His 55-year old eyes twinkled as he shook our hands, obviously pleased that some gringos were sincerely interested in his life’s passion.  Delicate purple flowers of spanish jasmine, periwinkle hydrangeas, traditional magenta bougainvillea and a host of other randomly planted flowers and cacti lined his dirt driveway.  His simply constructed concrete white house was on the left, his work yard and buildings to the right.  We walked to the right, past the small pond filled with floating plants and koi fish and under the makeshift clothesline where fresh laundry hung.  The sound of bees filled the air like soft and busy music.   I instinctively darted to avoid them, but Gaudencio walked to his shop nonchalantly as if they were his friends and belonged all around him.

The Wonders of Beeswax 

Our gracious host proudly led us to his own recent handmade invention— a solar heater of sorts, constructed of a large metal pan, tilted with a tray at the end and covered with glass.  “I spread out all the wax crumbles on this from the honeycombs,” he explained, “the heat of the sun will  cause the beeswax to flow down into the pan, while most of the impurities stay on the main tray.”  He would later screen the wax for the final product of 99% pure beeswax. Showing me a cake of beeswax made from the mush on the tray, he explained how his bees must eat 6 pounds of honey to produce 1 pound of wax, which is a natural product secreted by the bees to make honeycombs.

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The health and beauty benefits of beeswax are just as incredible as the miraculous process by which it is made:

  •   A mixture of honey, olive oil and beeswax has peen proven to treat skin conditions, among them diaper rash and psoriasis. 1
  •   You can make a salve that’s effective for poison ivy, poison oak, and other itches. In a small saucepan, simmer 1 tablespoon of chickweed powder, 1 tablespoon of comfrey power, and 1 pint of organic olive oil for 3 hours. Strain, add 2 ounces of beeswax, and pour into individual tins. 2
  •   To make an easy beeswax lotion simply combine 1 c. olive oil, 1/2 c. coconut oil and 2 oz. beeswax into a pint sized canning jar. Put this jar into a saucepan and fill the saucepan with water until it comes 3/4 of the way up the canning jar, being careful not to get water into the oil mixture. Put on the stove over medium/low heat. Heat and stir occasionally until melted. Let cool to room temperature. During the cooling process, put a fork into the jar and stir vigorously every 15 minutes or so. Once at room temperature, add in 1/2 t. vitamin E and 20 drops of essential oil.

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Handmade Houses for the Hives

Gaudencio waved his hand in the direction of the room behind us which served as his wood shop. This is where he personally constructs and paints the wooden boxes and trays which house his 500 hives.  My husband, being a carpenter, noted the dove-tailed corners on the new style boxes and theIMG_20160504_115458344 two men digressed into rapid Spanish of wood shop talk.  I walked around and noted the muted colors of the boxes and how the paint was never in the box’s interiors.  I noted the trays fit perfectly in rows of 10 in each box, like an efficient filing system.  “These boxes hold up for 10 years.  I never paint the insides as I want no chemical contamination from the paint.  I also don’t use chemically treated wood;  I dry the pieces myself to ensure again that no outside impurities get into my hives.”

We learned that the paint color, aside from looking quaint, is an important facet of Gaudencio’s setup: the bees identify their particular hive by color, position and unique smell.  If any of these are changed and the bees enter the wrong address, the bees at the correct address kill the intruders.

 Visiting the Hives

Agreeing to take us to his nearest cluster of hives, the three of us climbed into the cab of his 25-year bruised old white truck.  The doors were held together with wire and Gaudencio pumped the gas for a good five minutes before the engine came grudgingly to life.

We drove through the Mexican countryside, past small peasant farms and stone quarries where young men chipped at rock with their pickaxes.  “I did that kind of  work as a young man,”IMG_20160504_110713276_HDR he reminisced “but it is dangerous.  At any moment a rock could fall down and kill you.  My brother-in-law died that way.  I didn’t want to take that chance, nor did I see a future in it for me as I grew older.  I decided to follow in the steps of my father and grandfather and carry on the beekeeping business.  I’m happy in my work. I can do this into my old age. Success in your job means that you enjoy it.  We’ve had disease and frosts that have killed our bees, but I just keep coming back to it and it all works out.”  Gaudencio drives on cheerfully over the terrible, rocky dirt road, while I try to keep my stomach settled.

A half hour later a clearing of painted hive-boxes seems to appear out of nowhere.  We are handed two well-worn half-suits to put on for protection while Gaudencio works on lighting his old tin smoker.  This is the way he calms the bees so he can check the trays.  He lifts off the first box after gently smoking the bottom entry hole.  “This one is not ready to harvest; the bees are still producing the honey.  I always let them complete the process.  Beekeeping is not a rush job.  It is all dependent on the bee’s timing and I need to be respectful of them.”

IMG_20160504_110641261The bees swarm around him, landing on his bare hands and stinging them multiple times, but he takes no notice.  Earlier he told us he gets stung on average about 20 times a day — he is no longer bothered by the stings and has built up such an immunity that there is no evidence of the sting at all.  I, however, poke out one finger from my mesh coat to snap a picture and sure enough, that finger gets stung.  Ouch! My husband is the recipient of two stings. Thankfully, neither of us have an allergic reaction and within the hour the pain has dissipated.

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Organic Honey, Or Not? 

“Tell me about the concern of local pesticides and herbicides compromising your honey,” I inquire.  I’m aware that local farmers use these products without reserve — they often have no  training in their use or the dangers to their health and can be seen, unprotected by suits or masks, spraying these liberally over their crops.  Gaudencio explains that none of the 17 locations that his 500 hives sit upon within a two-hour drive are owned by him.  He simply asks Popocatépetl-Volcano-Erupts-and-Covers-Mexican-City-of-Puebla-With-Ashprivate citizens if he can put his hives on their land and pays them with a 5-gallon bucket of honey, yearly.  He has no control if they use sprays or if these get on the flowers his bees harvest nectar from.  Some of his hives farther away are on the slopes of the local, active volcano Popocatépetl. These are on uncultivated land where cactus blooms and wildflowers provide the raw materials for his bees.  These could almost be considered “organic” although there is no way to prove that, but this is the honey he and his family consume because he knows it’s the most natural.  “I work to ensure the least amount of contamination in my honey however possible, but I can’t prove anything specific so I don’t advertise that,” he replies.  Simple and straight-forward.  Fair enough.

Best Honey Season in this Area of Puebla

We learned that the best season for honey production in our area is October-November.  During these autumn months, the bees can create their hexagons in one day and take merely 3-4 days to make a full tray of honey.  The bees feast on a variety of local wildflowers, with no particular set taste.  The color and taste of the honey changes with the season.  We noted the taste of the honey produced on the volcano was much richer and darker than that produced near his home.

Honey’s Health Benefits: His Family’s Testimony

On the drive back after checking on his hives, we discussed the health benefits of his many bee products, all made by himself, his youngest son, and two employees.  Used to the savvy consumerism of the United States, I was both surprised and enchanted by his lack of product marketing or vast medical knowledge related to his business. Gaudencio refused to be caught up in any of that hype — his love for his work, his bees, his ability to exercise creativity and provide for his family in order to live a calm and peaceful life was obviously much greater.  He’s never had a problem selling his honey — he’s still got the customers from his father’s generation.  Buyers come from downtown Puebla, Mexico City and as far as the state of Morelos.  It’s not his concern what they do with the honey, he just sells the base products of honey, beeswax, royal jelly, propolis and pollen.

Raw, unfiltered honey from a trusted source is truly a miracle food. The blend of sugar, trace IMG_20160504_115112628enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids is quite unlike any other sweetener on earth. And while honey is high in fructose, it has many health benefits when used in moderation. Among other things it boosts energy and the immune system, clears skin, provides prebiotics for the gut, relieves allergy symptoms and mixed with lemon, makes an effective cough syrup. Not to mention, it simply tastes delicious!

With every meal, Gaudencio’s family eats honey or it’s products — even on their tacos!  They have for three generations.  None of them have been sick on a consistent or seasonal basis. His father, now 90 years old, developed a brain tumor 15 years ago.  Fortunately, doctors were able to remove it, but warned him that he may have lasting effects related to his speech, vision or nervous system.  His father made a full recovery and continues to function in perfect health.  Gaudencio shrugs and quips, “We all say it’s the honey products that keep our whole family healthy. Nothing complicated that we do — we just take care of our bees and enjoy their fruits.”

The Wonders of Bee Pollen

Gaudencio righty understands that pollen is an important form of protein and comes in a form that is highly digestible. He has a number of hives on Popocatépetl dedicated solely to the production of pollen. Bee pollen is richer in protein than meat, fish, eggs and cheese. “35 to 50 grams of pollen a day”, writes Dr. Stefan Stangaciu an MD from Romania, “can cover the needs in protein of a man”. The mineral selenium, which is found in bee pollen, slows down the aging of the cells. It’s richness in the B Vitamins and in amino acids necessary to the nervous system gives it anti-stress qualities. Thanks to it’s richness in amino acids, pollen has a positive action on physical and intellectual tiredness.3 These are only a handful of the benefits.  A quick internet search yields a proven wealth of others. My husband especially appreciates pollen for its ability to desensitize the immune system to the point where he can tolerate local pollens and therefore in a homeopathic way, essentially decrease the symptoms of seasonal allergies.4

Angela Ysseldyk, RNCP from beepollenbuzz.com offers the following delicious recipe incorporating bee pollen for a quick breakfast and energy enhancer:

  Healthy Blender Drink

 1 ripe banana; 2 prunes, cooked and pitted; 1 TBSP ground flax seeds; ½ tsp lemon juice; ½ cup real orange juice; 1 TBSP pure liquid honey; 1 tsp (up to 1 TBSP) pure bee pollen granules

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until creamy and smooth.  Makes about 10 ounces – a light breakfast/meal for one.  You can also add 1 TBSP Peanut Butter or Almond Butter for energy.

The Wonders of Royal Jelly

Gaudencio explains that one of the most labor intensive parts of production from his hives is extracting the royal jelly, a substance secreted by honeybee workers and fed by them to larvae that are being raised as potential queen bees. He is not fond of taking food from his potential queen bees, for without them his honey production would come to a halt.  He routinely makes sure that there is ample supply for the colonies before harvesting the excess.  He sells small 2 oz. glass jars, keeping them refrigerated.

Gaudencio laughingly told us his wife makes concoctions for her skin and hair with bee products including the royal jelly, but he did not know how she does it. He seemed to assume everyone knows the wonders of royal jelly, but in case you don’t, here are some: 5

  • As reported in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry in 2008, Royal Jelly contains very high amounts of  several antioxidants. Scientists learned was that RJ had higher amounts of these antioxidants when the Royal Jelly was fresher and kept cool.
  • Boosts and balances immune systems
  • Enhances overall brain function
  • Helps release toxins from the liver
  • Reduces inflammation which is particularly helpful in Alzheimer’s, heart-disease or cancer patients
  • Helps with wound healing
  • Controls diabetes and blood sugar
  • Has beneficial effects on osteoporosis and bone loss
  • Inhibits the development of breast cancer
  • Lowers cholesterol

The Wonders of Propolis

Hippocrates, the Greek widely regarded as the first “modern” physician, was one of the first to recommend this miraculous substance. He said it would heal ulcers of the skin and digestive tracts. 6 Propolis is the resinous substance that bees gather from the leaf buds of trees.  The bee transforms it in order to seal cracks, build panels, as well as using it as a microbiocidal agent, disinfectant and also for embalming intruders.  To date, no antioxidant capacity values have been found greater than propolis! 7

Gaudencio told us that propolis is harvested by scraping it off the frames. He warms the scraped propolis in the sun and pours the liquid into jars.  He uses this to make gummies that are popular with kids to boost immunity, as well as propolis honey straws.  The taste is strong and a little bit goes a long way.  The harvest is not nearly as large as that of honey, but enough to produce product for sale.  Propolis is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and fungicidal, as well as a painkiller and promotes the healing of wounds.  I use a propolis tincture putting drops in the back of my throat when I sense a cold coming on; my children prefer the gummies.

Lessons from the Bees

Moving from the technical and health-based questions, I drew out Gaudencio to tell us what he has learned from his bees, for truly a trade like this is not without strong observation and applicationIMG_20160504_115559197.  “I’ve learned from the bees that it is most important to work for the good of all; in a true community all have their job and it benefits the rest.  An individual bee cannot survive alone, they need the others.  I used to tell my kids when they were getting behind in their schooling or complaining, to look at the bees — they are never lazy or self-centered.  If we help each other out, so much can be accomplished but alone, we miss out.”  His philosophical thoughts rang true with my husband and I.  IMG_20160504_121648393

We walked into the large room that housed his equipment, spare boxes and harvested honey stored in food-grade buckets.  Requesting a liter of liquid honey (more moisture) and crystalized honey (less moisture—both, unrefined), we continued to chat while he worked to scoop out our honey.

He promised to give us a call when he had a harvest of pollen, royal jelly and propolis ready.  He happened to have a disc of beeswax available for purchase, so we also had that bagged up.  I’m looking forward to making theIMG_20160504_110806534 lotion described above and even seeing how it fairs with  the ancient form of encaustic art.

No doubt, this was one of our more educational and interesting dates.  Regardless of some bee stings, the sweetness has lasted. If you ever get to Central Mexico, drop me an email and I’d be more than happy to introduce you to a Mexican beekeeper named Gaudencio and the wonders of his honey.

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1.  Al-Waili N. Topical application of natural honey, beeswax and olive oil mixture to treat patients with atopic dermatitis or psoriasis: partially controlled study. Complement Ther Med 2003; 11:226–222.DOI: 10.1016/S0965-2299(03)00120-1

2.  Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM. October 9, 2015.  Eight Uses for Organic Beeswaxes, globalhealingcenter.com

3.  Bee Pollen Extends Lifespan, Center for New Medicine.   http://cfnmedicine.com/bee-pollen-extends-lifespan/

4.  Stengler, Mark ND, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Doctors Don’t Know. (New York, New York: Prentice Hall Press, 2010), p. 55.

5.  Ysseldyk, Angela. Benefits of Royal Jelly. August 1st, 2013.  Bee Pollen Buzz. http://www.bee-pollen-buzz.com/health-benefits-of-royal-jelly.html

6.  Stengler, Mark ND, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Doctors Don’t Know. (New York, New York: Prentice Hall Press, 2010), p. 380.

7.  Mercola, Joseph, Dr.  Propolis has Enormous Benefits for Your Health. November 17, 2009. mercola.com: Take Care of Your Health. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/11/17/this-bee-product-has-enormous-benefits-for-your-health.aspx

From Hyperthyroidism to Hypothyroidism: Radioactive Iodine Thyroid Obliteration

It has been one year since I had my thyroid gland obliterated through radioactive iodine treatment.  I have a 10-year plus story with thyroid issues, going from severely hyper to now, hypo.  The effects on the mind and body through either of these conditions are enormous and all too often, minimized.  This is my story that hopefully will inform or confirm yours, enabling you to come into a more peaceful state of health.

What Exactly is a Thyroid? 

Your thyroid is a buterfly-shaped gland located on the base of your neck.  It releases important hormones enabling all your organs to work well. These hormones control how your body uses food for energy.  They affect your metabolism rate, which means how fast or slow your brain, heart, muscles, liver, and other parts of your body work.  Breathing, heart rate, the nervous system, muscle strength, cholesterol levels, body temperature and menstrual cycles are all affected by the state of this wonderous little 2-inch gland.  It is too important to be ignored.

Secondary Infertility Marked the Beginning 

After the traumatic, but miraculous birth of our first son, my husband and I had spoken of our desire to space our children out two years apart.  Three years later, we still had not conceived, for no apparent physical reason.  Our family doctor wisely suggested I might have thyroid issues and ordered a blood test.  Sure enough, the results indicated hyperthyroidism.  I was referred to an endocrinologist who reviewed my blood work and did a brief exam.  He discovered several nodules growing on my thyroid gland causing it to produce more thyroid hormone than necessary.  The reason for these growths could never be found (for me or the general population who experience the same).  He prescribed methamazole, which I took daily for the next ten years.  A year later I became pregnant with our second, and just as miraculous, son.

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My Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

I can see in retrospect the ways in which hyperthyroidism dictated my lifestyle, even while on medication.  My blood levels indicated I was balanced, but my symptoms remained to some extent and even increased at times:

  • Inability to gain weight
  • Drivenness (internal, incessant motor) 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Pounding heart
  • Irritable bowels
  • Shakiness
  • Night sweats
  • Obvious growth on my thyroid gland, visibly seen on my throat

I attempted to alleviate my symptoms through essential oils (lemongrass and frankensence nightly, over the course of a year), eating a handful of almonds daily and a variety of supplements.  These were successful in seasons, especially when I was able to remain consistent.  However, the growth of the nodules continued.

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Medical Testing Performed Over Ten Years

Every six months or less, I normally had blood work done to monitor my TSH, T3 and T4 levels.  I learned through my own research how relative these levels can be to each person, yet how standard the medical field interprets the results.  Unfortunately, when one has suffered with the above symptoms for years, a base point of what feels good and “normal” is often lost.  It took my husband and close friends to often let me know that what I was experiencing was not optimal.

Yearly, I also had ultrasounds to determine if the nodules were “hot” or “cold”.  A couple of times I also had a painful, in-office needle biopsy done to determine if the nodules had turned cancerous.  Thankfully, my results were always negative.

After the birth of our third child in 2009, the concern was especially high.  Thus, I had to take a small dose of radioactive iodine to “color” the nodules for an ultrasound.  As a result, my breast milk dried up and I was only able to nurse my daughter for three months.  At the time, I felt I had no other choice.  With three children under age ten, homeschooling and my husband out of work, my energy and motivation to research was low.  It is important options and education are offered to young mothers in an accessible way in order that they may advocate for their own well-being. Too often medical professionals standardize  treatment and offer only one possibility, when there may be other options of care.  

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The Decision to Take the Radioactive Route

Last winter, after several visits to an endocrinologist, my husband and I for the first time seriously considered the option of obliterating my thyroid gland through radioactive iodine treatment.  This option had been proposed through the years but we were leery of going outside of more holistic health methods and concerned it would affect my fertility (which it can).  Now, we knew we were done having children and I was approaching age 40.  The doctor informed me that long term hyperthyroidism would have an increased effect on my heart, my bones and possible enlargement of my liver.  My personal research confirmed this.  We did not feel these factors were something that could continue to be disregarded.  The option of surgery seemed invasive, more costly and came with risks since my growing nodules were close to my vocal chords.  Besides, we now lived outside of the United States and I did not wish to walk that road without the comfort of medical care in my native tongue.

We talked, researched and prayed almost daily about this decision.  Finally, it simply became clear to us that this was the only course of action.  It is good when each spouse views the other’s body just as precious as their own and shares in such conclusions.   Sometimes too, healing comes through medical intervention and we believed it would be through this treatment that the nodules would finally be gone.

The cost here in Mexico of this treatment is considerably lower than in the states, so this worked to our advantage.  A date to swallow the liquid was chosen and I was given instructions on how to prep my body: get off methamazole for two weeks before, avoid all salt/iodine for this amount of time and fast the day of.

When the day arrived, I drove myself to the small hole-in-the-wall doctor’s office.  The vial had been flown in from Canada to Mexico City and driven in an armored truck from Mexico City to this office.  The cost?  Almost $1,000 USD for a small glass of clear liquid!  I carried a note with me in Spanish to advise anyone who may stop me on my drive home to stay back, for I was now radioactive!  After a brief conversation with the doctor I swallowed the solution and was on my way.

When I arrived home, my family could not physically greet me, instead was the blaring music to “Radioactive”:).  I holed up in our bedroom for 48 hours.  My laundry was put into garbage bags and washed separately.  My food was left outside the door on disposable plates, cups and utensils.  I drank water hourly to help flush out my body.  I stayed within 10 feet of my family for the next ten days and cooked food with gloves and a mask.  My husband slept on the couch and used a separate bathroom.  At the end of this time, it was a great celebration to be able to hug again and my children rushed upon me!  I washed all our sheets and disinfected the bathroom.

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My Health the Year Following the Treatment

I experienced no symptoms directly related to swallowing the liquid insofar as a metallic taste, nausea or any type of sickness.  I felt completely normal and immediately got back to my daily life.  It was about six weeks later that my body began to react.  My anxiety was high and I was barely making it through the day without shakiness and needing to sleep.  I felt depressed and I was gaining weight.  My hair was falling out in the shower and in my brush in noticeable increase.  I could not concentrate and was experiencing a weird dizzy sensation in my head.  Was it better to have never done this treatment, I wondered?  I almost preferred being hyper to this!  Remember, medical journals do state that it takes a full year for all of the RAI to get out of one’s system. 

I had the six week blood work done and revisited the endocrinologist.  I know now he was wrong to have me wait that long and let my levels dip to a dangerous level. He put me on  Karot, the Mexican non-genaric brand of Synthroid.  This can be purchased at local pharmacies without a prescription for a low cost.  I began to perk up a bit and again, as a mother, just had to keep going.  By the end of the summer and start of fall, I literally thought I was dying, I was so weak.  Knowing what I know now, I look back on my bloodwork from that time and am amazed I did not end up in the hospital!  Apparently, it had been lost in translation that I was supposed to be gradually upping my dosage.

By early winter when I could start to mentally process again, I began reading extensively on websites such as Hypothyroid Mom . I learned how to interpret my blood work and note how I was feeling and what was “normal”.  The more natural form of thyroid hormone replacement (brands such as Armour) that also incorporates the T3 (the body cannot produce this on its own, it must convert it from T4) is not available here and only available in the states with a prescription.

Noting that my menstural cycles had been off since the treatment (happening two weeks apart, then absent, then heavy) I had my ferritin levels checked.  It is important to monitor not only iron levels, but also Vitamin D and ferritin levels in thyroid patients.  Ferritin is a protein found inside cells that stores iron so your body can use it later. A ferritin test indirectly measures the amount of iron in your blood.  Low levels affect hair loss!   To combat my low levels until they stabilized, I chose to supplement with buffalo liver capsules and be conscious to eat protein-rich foods which I could digest easily.  I also took selenium to boost my immune systems and aide in the T4 to T3 conversion.

When getting your thyroid levels checked, be sure to order a FULL thyroid panel.  This includes:

  • TSH
  • Free T4
  • Free T3
  • Reverse T3
  • Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
  • Thyroglobulin Antibodies

Most doctors will only check the TSH, T4 and T3 levels.  Not the “free” T4 and T3.  Without these, you have no way of knowing if your body is adequately converting the T4 into T3 and even if your levels are in the “normal” range, you will still experience symptoms (as in my case).  You must be your own advocate!

* Here in Mexico, I am able to only get the TSH, T3 and T4 along with the “libres”.  They have been adequate this far.

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The above chart is the best “range” I have discovered. For a more detailed description, go here.

This is also helpful:

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Living without a Working Thyroid and with Hypothyroidism

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Just as I experienced symptoms being hyper, now I had the same with hypo:

  • Dry, coarse and falling out hair.
  • Lethargy
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Mental clarity/memory “skips”
  • Heavier menstural periods
  • Weight gain/puffiness
  • Dryer skin
  • Bouts of depression
  • Joint paint (knees in particular)

Don’t Accept Living with the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism 

I believe that if the thyroid panel levels are balanced appropriately and individually, one should not have to live with any of the symptoms of either hyper (too much thyroid) or hypo (too little thyroid hormone).

Last week I had another blood panel done and a follow-up visit with my endocrinologist.  Just as I suspected, he declared that all my levels were in the “normal” range.  I saw it differently and pushed back (something that must be done firmly, but delicatley in this culture).  I insisted that I was not symptom-free.  I request that he prescribe a medication I had researched and knew was available here in Mexico that not only had T4, but incorporated  T3.  He relented and gave me a prescription.  The name of this medication (non-generic) is Novotiral and it is also economical.

After almost a week, I think I can already feel a change; increased energy and less constipation. I have learned the hard way that an increase in medication takes 6 full weeks for the body to register and feel.  Here is a simple explanation as to the reason.  I have also learned that even a 20-25 mg. can make a huge difference in feeling good and in feeling bad.

With my new condition of living without a thyroid, I have incorporated the following in my daily, holistic self-care:

  • Omega-3 AND Omega-6 fatty oils are an important supplement for hair loss, heart, brain and joints. These two are big necessities for our bodies! Since I don’t like fish, taking this mercury free option is helpful.  I also take one evening primrose oil capsule.  It is important these are taken in the evening, before bed for maximum effect.  I have also found that if I do not take the Omega-6 EPO with an Omega-3, I my skin gets oily and breaks out.  The body needs the correct balance of the two oils.   (I’ve read that that the more omega-3 you consume, the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral. A diet with a lot of omega-6 and not much omega-3 will increase inflammation which is the base cause of so many autoimmune disorders–I feel best when these are balanced).
  • Surprisingly, low stomach acid and pepsin can influence hair loss.  Without these, protein cannot be properly digested.  Nails and hair are made up of protein.  Taking a Betaine HCI enzyme capsule before a larger meal containing protein helps digestion.  This has been more helpful to me than taking a popular biotin supplement.
  • To aide in lethargy, I take my green energy tea, twice daily.  I also force myself to exercise daily whether it be Pilates, walking, biking or lifting hand weights.
  • Collagen through gelatin is vitally important for the health of hair, nails, skin, bones, joints and a host of other health issues. As we age, the collagen in our bodies decreases.  Since getting pasture raised and grass-fed beef or poultry here to make good bone broth is next to impossible, I have ordered this product.  This one, since it contains pepsins, is easier for the body to assimilate.
  • The heavier mensural periods have been helped through addressing what I suspect has been estrogen dominance in my body made worse through becoming hypo.  By simply using this progesterone cream (except during my cycle) I have noticed a marked difference in heaviness, cramping, PMS and length.
  • I got my iodine, zinc, vitamin D, B12 and magnesium levels checked.  I found that I needed to supplement with magnesium.  Natural Calm has helped constipation and general ability to relax.
  • I have read that 90% of all physical problems have emotional roots.  I hope to explore that in future posts.
  • I find that using essential oils is a great relaxer and verifiable aide in reducing the symptoms of hypothyroidism.  Here is the ideal, daily recipe to apply 4 times a day and then down to 1 time a day, on the thyroid area of the neck.  Be sure to apply it neat (without a carrier oil):   10 drops frankincense, 10 drops myrrh, 10 drops lemongrass, 4 drops clove, and 4 drops peppermint.  This mixture can be made in a roller and simply rolled on.  It probably makes more sense to use this if you actually have a thyroid, but it must still be effective for healing in that area.
  • Diet is crucial as this info-graphic states below:

HypothyroidismDietPlan

I’ll keep posting about this topic as improvement and further enlightenment occur.  No doubt, this has not been an easy road.  The emotional and physical toil has been great. However, it lends an open opportunity and passion to live a more educated and empowered life as a women in regards to my health.

What we learn, we must share!  We cannot allow things like thyroid issues to have the last word!

Be blessed and may your soul prosper, even as your health.

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Daily Energy Tea Recipe

This is the first official post on this new blog.  Welcome, welcome!

Blank pages and new projects never failed to elicit within me a certain thrill, like opening a gift.  One never knows what may be behind the lovely wrapping nor what the gift will come to mean.

I hope the words you continue to find here will be a gift to us both.  And I hope you took the time to read the “About” page in order that before you begin, context is established.

I want to start with something as simple as a recipe.

Green Tea

I’ve avoided caffeine since my brief affair with coffee in my college years. I’ll write more about my reasons behind that later and why now, I’m not adverse to drinking caffeinated tea.  The following is my daily energy tea recipe. I drink a cup at about 7:00 am (magnesium only in am) and 2:00 pm to boost my energy and alertness throughout the day:

1 T. Raw Honey, 1 T. Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 1-2 T. Fresh Lemon Juice, 2 tsp. powdered magnesium (Natural Calm), 1/2 tsp. himalayan salt, 1 Organic Green Tea Bag.   Mix up first four ingredients in hot water, not boiling water. Aim for about 160-170 degrees. Boiling water kills the effects of the lemon juice, catechins in the tea and some of the enzymes in the honey. Use regular honey if raw is not available. Add one tea bag and let steep.

Benefits of Raw Honey:   Click on the link from this excellent source for a full list.

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar:  Helps blood sugar control, aides digestion through probiotics and other beneficial bacteria, lowers cholesterol, supports heart health, boosts energy (some sources claim it also aides with weight loss and maintenance) 

Benefits of Lemon Juice: Aides digestion, boosts the immune system, balances pH levels, clears skin, energizes, enhances mood and hydrates the lymph system

Benefits of Himalayan Salt:  Trace minerals  enhanced through water immersion. Supports thyroid and adrenal function, aides overall hormone balance, supports a healthy metabolism, is required to make adequate stomach acid, a natural detoxifier 

Benefits of Magnesium (I use Natural Calm): Promotes restful sleep, reduces constipation, decreases stress, alleviates anxiety, headaches, depression, muscle pain, protects from osteoporosis and hypertension 

Benefits of Green TeaHigh catechin content (power antioxidant), improves blood flow, lowers cholesterol, enhances memory, blocks the formation of plaques that can lead to Alteizmer’s, keeps blood sugar stable, lowers cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, aides healthy cells in all stages of their growth 

Drinking this is a perfect way to increase your vitality.  It makes a daily difference for me!

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