Monthly Archives: February 2011

Green Living Guest Posts Healthy Living Kids & Family Toxin Alert!

Drugs: Our First Line of Defense?

I’m so glad to have such a timely post to share with all of my readers. It seems like more and more I have conversations with people about using natural means versus drugs and over-the-counter medication for health problems.

It is my most sincere hope to inspire some interest in using natural remedies instead of automatically going to pharmaceutical intervention. Of course, drugs have their place in the world. But in modern society, we’ve come to rely far too much on taking a drug for every little issue that ails us, instead of looking at the root cause of the problem and finding out if we can solve it by re-hydrating, reducing stress, or repleting our diets with nutrients we may be lacking.

I’d like to thank Kate at Modern Alternative Mama for volunteering to write a post for me in the middle of my chaos – lately I’ve been having my own health issues which I am attempting to address naturally – low thyroid and a magnesium deficiency – which has caused many nights of insomnia and panic attacks. Needless to say, my life has been turned upside down and things haven’t been getting done!  Fortunately, things are SLOWLY starting to get better, and I’ll be writing a post or two about my experience when I get caught back up from being behind for the last four weeks.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this well-written and thoughtful piece about approaching health in the most natural way possible, first…before turning to drugs. Great food for thought.   :)


I see far too many people popping pills all the time. Have a headache? Grab some Tylenol! Cramps? Midol! A fever? Ibuprofen! And so it goes. There’s a pill for everything. Even new parents are sucked in – “You’d better have some Tylenol in the house, just in case.” But is this really the best first defense against illness or unpleasant symptoms?

Unfortunately, no. The way we treat pills these days is as if there were no side effects, or very minimal side effects. The mainstream perception is that even when pills do cause side effects, it is normal and ‘worth it’ to combat whatever ails you. We have pills for allergies (Benadryl), pills for colds and coughs, pills for the flu, pills for cholesterol, pills for birth control, pills for erectile dysfunction, pills for migraines, and on it goes. The solution clearly is – “If something ails you, there’s a drug to fix that.”

These drugs are not without side effects, and these side effects need to be considered very carefully. We need to look at the short- and long-term side effects of any drug before agreeing to take it. There’s a time and place for drugs, typically (in my opinion) in life-or-death situations. But they’re simply not the harmless little pick-me-ups we’ve come to view them as. Tylenol, for example, seen as one of the most “basic” drugs out there, is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. That’s far from harmless!

Even more importantly, instead of focusing so heavily on our individual symptoms (and what drug might fix that!), we need to look for underlying causes of illness. Why do you have a headache? Is it from tension? Dehydration? A food sensitivity? By knowing the cause, you may be able to find the cure. Tension requires relaxation, perhaps a massage (from a willing husband or wife!), maybe a bit of lavender oil and a warm bath. Dehydration requires a drink of water! Food sensitivity probably can’t be “cured” immediately, but at least you’d know what not to do in the future.

When we turn to drugs, we forget to look for the underlying causes. Migraines are often triggered by food sensitivities, like MSG, theobromine (found most often in cocoa), or caffeine. High cholesterol may be caused by a diet high in refined carbohydrates (not saturated fat!). Coughs and colds are an unfortunate fact of life for many, but if we boost the immune system with nourishing foods and fermented cod liver oil, we may see fewer of them, lower severity, and less duration!

When something ails us, we need to look at our bodies and our lifestyles as a whole. What could we be doing that is causing the problem? Are we not getting enough rest? Are we deficient in some key nutrient? Is our thyroid malfunctioning or our adrenals taxed? There is some reason for the symptoms, and the underlying cause will tell you what to do about it!

We miss the underlying cause when we focus on the symptoms. When we throw drugs at the symptoms, we may feel better (at least temporarily), but we don’t solve the problem. The problem is still there, and is probably getting worse. If you’re having restless legs but choose to take the new “RLS” drug, you’re very likely missing an underlying magnesium deficiency! Your symptoms will
only get worse, both because you’ve missed the deficiency, and because you’ve added any side effects that the RLS drug causes. This is how it goes with many situations, when drugs become the first answer.

When it comes down to it, would you rather suffer a bit more temporarily, while you actually solve the problem, or would you rather have immediate relief of your symptoms while your health crumbles around you? I can assure you that putting your health back together after 20 years or so of doing it wrong is no easy task. We’re in the middle of the GAPS diet for my husband right now because
his health has been so destroyed by years of poor diet, undiagnosed food sensitivities, candida, and more. It’s a very long, slow, painful road. Could he just continue to take some drugs and hide the problems? Maybe. I’m honestly not sure at this point. (We did try that route a few years back, before we knew what we were doing. It didn’t help at all, and very likely made it worse.)

Finally, I’m not saying that when you feel poorly, especially with what you know is just a temporary illness (like a cold) that you should do nothing to feel better. There are many natural remedies that you can try. Ginger tea with lemon and honey is wonderful for a cold, helping to warm the body, clear  he sinuses, and soothe a sore throat. Rice-filled heating pads soothe sore spots. Arnica helps with body aches. These are all natural remedies that can help to soothe your acute aches and pains without dangerous side effects, nor masking underlying problems.

In a perfect world, we’d all be healthy all the time. We wouldn’t get sick or be in pain. But we don’t live in a perfect world and we’re bound to have bad days! Rather than multiplying the bad days by masking and ignoring our symptoms, we can work without bodies to discover the true causes and resolve them. By (almost!) always consuming an excellent, nutrient-dense diet, we can be healthier and feel well without drugs!


Kate blogs at Modern Alternative Mama and discusses nutrition, food, recipes, natural remedies and more. She is a wife and mother of two. Kate currently home is just beginning to home school her oldest child, is active in her church, and enjoys sewing, crafts, and cooking.

More reading!

Is reactive medicine cheaper than prevention?

Who’s right? Finding the truth about medical knowledge, science, health, and nutrition

How I cured a raging sinus infection naturally, with no drugs

Prescription drugs, healing, and the almighty dollar

Green Living Guest Posts Healthy Living Toxin Alert!

Oil Pulling for Detoxification

Have you ever tried oil pulling? If not, today might be the day to try it. All you need is a good quality oil and a few minutes in the morning before eating, drinking or brushing your teeth. This guest post from Elizabeth Walling of Living the Nourished Life tells you how.

Detoxing is a part of the body’s natural process of removing unwanted and harmful substances. Oil pulling is one of the simplest detox protocols you can use. Using oil to remove toxins from your mouth gets at the root cause of many different health issues. But just like the health problems themselves, which take years to develop, noticing the effects of oil pulling can take some time and patience.  And unlike some detox protocols, you don’t need any preparatory measures to oil pull, you can just do it.

Regular oil pulling can provide great detox and health benefits for your mouth and teeth, as well as your overall health condition.  Learn how to prevent and remedy different health disorders by detoxifying your body safely, for pennies, in the comfort of your own home.


I like to keep things simple when it comes to my health and wellness. Less is more: that’s my foundational approach. Less ingredients in my food. Less ingredients in my health and beauty products. Oil pulling fits right in with my philosophy. It’s simple. It’s inexpensive. Anyone can do it. The problem is: most people haven’t even heard of it!

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling was traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for improving overall oral health. It’s recently gained popularity in the Western world as a natural health remedy for a variety of conditions. On a basic level, oil pulling involves swishing unrefined oil in your mouth for several minutes at a time. (I’ll give you specific instructions in a minute.)

Oil pulling benefits

The list of possible benefits from oil pulling touches on nearly every health condition known to man (including gray hair!). I’m not fully convinced that oil pulling can improve PMS symptoms (one of its alleged benefits), but its oral health benefits are hard to ignore. They include:

  • fresher breath
  • whiter teeth
  • decreased tooth pain
  • decreased gum bleeding
  • decreased tooth sensitivity
  • decreased oral infections
  • improved strength in mouth and jaw

I believe in the oral benefits of oil pulling, because I’ve experienced them myself. As I explained in a previous post I’ve written about oil pulling benefits, flossing directly after oil pulling was absolutely the best at-home plaque solution I’ve ever encountered. It even rivals a full dental cleaning.

Oil pulling experts like Bruce Fife believe that oil pulling actually draws pathogenic bacteria and toxins through the tissues of the mouth. This facilitates detoxification by eliminating these harmful materials from the body. These experts report that regular oil pulling can help with:

  • chronic headaches and migraines
  • neck and back pain
  • arthritis
  • asthma
  • allergies
  • skin conditions (acne, eczema, etc.)
  • sleep disturbances
  • chronic fatigue
  • diabetes

Oil pulling instructions

Oil pulling is pretty straightforward and very simple to do. Following a few basic instructions will help you get the most out of your oil pulling experience:

  1. The best time to do oil pulling is upon waking on an empty stomach. However, this isn’t always convenient, so you may have to use a different time frame.
  2. About one tablespoon of oil is used. Some use a little more, some use a little less. This is a personal preference. Some find it easier to start with a small amount of oil and work their way up to a tablespoon.
  3. Move the oil around your mouth in a slow, methodical fashion. No vigorous swishing! Gargling is not recommended.
  4. Be careful not to swallow any of the oil. According to the experts, it’s full of toxins and should never be swallowed.
  5. Continue swishing for up to 30 minutes. Now, you’ll notice this really works out the muscles in your jaw and mouth. You may only be able to swish for a few minutes the first time. I’d suggest working up to at least 10 minutes.
  6. As you swish, you’ll notice the oil becomes far more fluid and even foamy.
  7. When you’re done, spit the oil out and rinse thoroughly. You can brush your teeth afterwords.
  8. Oil pulling is usually done once per day, but some experts recommend doing it 2-3 times per day if you are ill or need more substantial detox.

Oils to use for oil pulling

A variety of oils can be used for oil pulling. Sesame and sunflower oil are said to be the most traditional kinds. I personally choose only oils I already use in my kitchen because it’s convenient and I trust them to be healthy. To that end, I’ve only used coconut oil and olive oil for oil pulling. I’ve had a few readers ask me how to swish with coconut oil since it’s solid at room temperature. I simply take a solid tablespoon of coconut oil and chew it up in my mouth until it’s liquid (it only takes a minute or so). Alternatively, you can gently heat the coconut oil over the stove until it’s melted.


Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer and health blogger specializing in nutrition and wellness. She is a strong believer in real food and natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common health myths. Check out her blog> to learn more.

Suggested reading:

Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing by Dr. Bruce Fife

Want more information on detox?

It’s Time for A Fall Detox!

Want to Lose Weight? DETOX!

This post is part of Sarah The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania Carnival.