Tune-Up Your Gut!

ImageFor some reason, it is easy for us to accept that our vehicles need an oil change and a tune-up once in awhile, but it is very hard for us to think of our bodies in the same way. But, I see the concepts as very similar.

For example, gas that is riddled with too much water causes damage to our vehicle’s fuel injection system and results in anything from sputtering and lowered fuel efficiency, to a complete breakdown. Why then do we fight against the idea that what we put in our bodies could also cause damage over time?

Up to 85% of our immune system resides in our digestive system. Good digestion requires a delicate balance of differing bacteria that work together to aid in digestion, support proper immune function, and assist with toxin removal. If we regularly put in “bad gas,” which includes highly processed foods riddled with genetically modified ingredients and synthetic preservatives, large amounts of processed sugars and bleached grains, or synthetic pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol, antibiotics, or antacids…then that “bad gas” can allow the wrong bacteria to flourish and can damage both the beneficial bacterial and your gut walls.

The following table illustrates why restoring our vehicle after exposure to contaminated gas is similar to choosing a whole food cleanse to restore healthy digestive balance after exposure to tainted foods and medications.

Steps to Restore a… …Vehicle After Bad Gas Exposure …Body After “Bad Gas” Exposure
1 Clear the bad gas from the System Clear the “bad gas” from your body
2 Flush the fuel system to remove any buildup of remaining water than can cause further damage Flush your digestive and filtering systems to remove any buildup of toxins that can cause further damage
3 Replace the filter(s) Replace the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract
4 Add good gas back in Add healthy, whole foods and natural healthcare/cleaning products back in
5 Add an additive to your gas to help remove any remaining water, to protect against future water buildup, and to increase overall fuel efficiency Add targeted supplements or complementary healthcare therapies to keep your body in balance so it can do its job and protect against and heal from illness and disease

Consider tuning-up your gut if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Irregular bowels (e.g., bloating, diarrhea or constipation)
  • Pain or discomfort after eating
  • Difficulty in reaching or maintaining an alkaline state
  • Eczema, Rosacea, hives or other skin rashes
  • Sensitivity to strong scents, skin- or health-care products and/or foods
  • Severe seasonal/environmental allergies
  • Strong cravings for sugary foods and/or empty carbohydrates
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Concentration issues such as poor memory, general ‘brain fog,’ ADD/ADHD or lack of focus
  • Irritability, moodiness, anxiety or depression
  • Reflux or heartburn

Please be sure to work with an educated healthcare professional if you decide to proceed. If you want me to, I will work with you to choose the best approach to incorporate into your lifestyle and support you along the way. But, regardless of whom you choose, please be sure that they are recommending a whole food approach and that, if recommended, supplements and essential oils are certified pure, all natural and free of common allergens.

Important: Beware of juice-only cleanses especially ones that include supplements or essential oils to help with cleansing. Your body needs fiber and protein to effectively eliminate toxins. If you speed up toxin removal, but do not provide what is needed to remove those toxins, you will feel worse and could get very ill. Juice cleanses for short periods of time without the additional use of supplements or essential oils are still considered beneficial.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Reflecting on Jayleena’s Healing Journey

Today is my perpetual-baby’s 9th birthday. Wow. It seems like just yesterday that I was on a business trip where my phone had been confiscated, and my boss’ cell phone rang. He passed me the phone with a huge smirk on his face, assuming it was my jealous husband. Instead I heard, “You need to get home RIGHT NOW! We pick up a baby at 10am tomorrow morning.”

It was nearly 10 pm. So, I verbally tormented my boss for not driving us back to the hotel fast enough, and for choosing to stop for chocolate before he would complete the drive. I remember saying as I beamed with excitement, “Seriously? Your chocolate craving is more important than me getting home to pick up our new baby?” I am fairly certain I drove the 2 hours back home faster than I should have because I wanted to get home so badly. I shouldn’t have bothered, because we couldn’t sleep anyway.

I was nervous about raising a girl, but also excited about all the wonderful things that would mean as well. We were wondering how severe her cocaine withdrawals would be, and worried that we wouldn’t be able to care for her needs well enough. Craig wondered if we could really love her as much as we did our biological son. That concern was the main reason we chose the foster-to-adopt option for growing our family. The night continued to drag by. We can confirm that a watched clock doesn’t tick any faster than a watched pot boils.

ImageFinally the moment came. She was the most gorgeous little china doll (and I emphasize little, she was merely 5 pounds). She gazed at us as if she knew we were there to smother her in love and affection. She had us wrapped around her little finger before we even left the hospital. But she had a loooong road ahead of her, and so did we. We will never know how many of her challenges were due to the cocaine, but in her first five years and again in her eighth year we have worked with numerous doctors, specialists, holistic health providers, nutritionists, therapists, and agency workers to help her overcome:

  • Severe reflux: Her reflux almost took her life multiple times and caused us numerous white-knuckled ambulance rides. It would come out in a steady stream, fast enough that we couldn’t suction fast enough, but slow enough to slowly fill her lungs as she breathed. Once, our son Logan saved her life when he ran out, only minutes after I had laid her down for a nap, yelling that she was turning blue and had white stuff coming out of her nose.
  • Severe asthma: Doctors don’t like to diagnose babies with asthma anymore. They try and term it Reactive Airway Disease instead. But, after two separate occasions where her lung collapsed and we almost missed it and no relief from the lower-end medications, they moved it to severe asthma and loaded her with multiple medications. You may be asking yourself how we could possibly miss a collapsed lung. The doctor himself almost missed it too because she wouldn’t cry and she would still be smiling as if all was OK. The only sign we would get is that she would stop moving around.
  • Severe Sensory Integration Disorder: Jayleena rarely cried. We assumed it was because she didn’t have much air. At around 11 months old, she was also VERY rough. She always squeezed too hard, wanted us to play rougher than we were comfortable, and was regularly hurting her siblings (by this point, we had also accepted twins into our home). I was starting to think maybe something was off, but we really just assumed it was her personality. Then one day, when Jayleena was around 11 months old, she climbed our 2 foot gate at the top of our stairs and threw herself down, scraping skin off her head and arms as she fell. When she got to the bottom, she stood up and looked at me as I desperately tried to remove the gate…AND SHE GIGGLED!! She giggled as if she had gotten away with something, then ran off in a “chase me” kind of way. I was nauseous. When I turned the corner, I found her sitting on our hard wood floor, finger painting from the pool of blood that had collected around her. That was all I needed to push until we got the diagnosis. We were thankful that it wasn’t hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy, since that cannot be cured, but it still required a lot of occupational therapy to help her get to where she can at least know she is hurt.
  • Food Allergies: Because our son had food allergies and intolerances, we recognized the signs fairly quickly. Besides her reflux and asthma (which are potential symptoms), she also had bowel movements that would literally burn away the skin on her buttocks to the point where there were literally patches with NO skin. She would cry uncontrollably after she ate some foods, and would break out in hives regularly. Eventually, she presented with anaphylaxis reactions. Since we had already helped our son navigate the food allergy path, we began working with allergists and immunologists fairly quickly.
  • Extreme Anger/Frustration: And, I do mean extreme. Ask any of our friends or caregivers who helped us during that time. We rarely knew what set her off, but once set off she didn’t stop…sometimes for over 10 hours. She would scream, kick so hard she put holes in our walls, bang her head until it bled, and hurt other people (she broke my back molar by headbutting me with her skull). It would take all my strength to hold her down and stop her from hurting herself.
  • Benign Occipital Epilepsy of Childhood and Non-Obstructive Sleep Apnea: I have written quite a few blog posts on this one since it is the most recent, so please check my archives if you want to learn more.

My point is just to share with those of you who are struggling with similar challenges and behaviors in your own children that there IS hope. I remember feeling like there was none and that Jayleena would struggle her entire life. BUT, You CAN work through it and get to a better place if you listen to your instincts, trust those instincts, and act on them. Even if your husband, your parents, or your best friends don’t see what you see, then ask them to try and trust you or at least respect your feelings in the matter. I am not saying to completely disregard your loved ones’ opinions. I am merely saying that if you carefully consider their input, but you still know in your gut that things are not right, then keep pushing until you do feel things are right. You are the one who has to live with your decisions later. Ask yourself, “If I am wrong and I keep pushing will it harm my child?” “If I am right and there is more to this, could doing nothing harm my child?” Then, do what you feel your gut is telling you to do. If people call you crazy, let them. Who cares? If you don’t believe the doctor has the right answer, then get another opinion, or even a third.

ImageIt took me four different neurologist visits before we finally found out why Jayleena wasn’t feeling pain and how to help her. If fighting the status quo and standing up for what I believe with her medical providers makes me a crazy Mom, then I embrace that label proudly! As I mentioned, today is my baby’s 9th birthday and she is now a happy, healthy child who is a successful competitive gymnast. She has a group of best friends and a BFF that she has enjoyed since Kindergarten. She has regular hopes and dreams, without any fear of being restricted from her ability to achieve them.

I reflect on how far we’ve come, and again I am happy I pushed as much and as frequently as I had to in order to get to the source of the issues and resolve them. All the criticism we received means nothing now. All we have to do is look at her and our other three children who we also had to fight for, and we know it was what we were meant to do (I will write a blog post about our other children’s stories on their birthdays too).  It was really hard work, and it was completely worth it. We cannot even find words to describe how much we love her and how much joy she brings to all of our lives.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Lessons Learned During My Hiatus: Essential Oils ARE Essential

Essential oils ARE essential. Well, at least in my book…and in my kids’ books…and in my husband’s book. Why? Because we just watched our daughter recover from challenges that were plaguing her for over a year in less than a month. If you had watched her transition, you would think they were essential too.

Our daughter, Jaylee, started confiding in us in May of 2013 that it was hard for her to fall asleep; and that once she did, “something” was waking her up.  After she woke up, she felt like her heart was going to stop, like she couldn’t take a breath in, and like she had to go to the bathroom so urgently she was unsure if she would make it. She also admitted that it had been happening for some time, and that it was making it hard for her to stay awake at school since she wasn’t sleeping well.

IMG_1179 I wrote about the challenging path we traveled to get her correct diagnoses in a previous post. She was/is diagnosed with:

  • Non-obstructive Sleep Apnea, which basically means that something was altering her breathing patterns and waking her during sleep cycles where she shouldn’t be waking, but that it was not caused by the traditional airway obstruction.
  • Benign Occipital Epilepsy of Childhood, which means that she was having seizures in her sleep that were not causing damage to her brain. Children generally present with this around the age of 7, and then usually outgrow them in 1-3 years after they begin. The general thought is that it has to do with growth patterns and the brain’s inability to keep up. There is a possibility they could be related to Jaylee’s drug exposure in utero.
  • Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, which means that Jaylee’s internal clock was misfiring, and she had a hard time falling asleep before 11 pm, and a hard time waking up and focusing her brain prior to 11 am.

We were told that our only two choices were to try powerful anti-seizure and sleep medications that have a host of potential side effects, or to wait the seizures out and hope they were the only cause of the sleep apnea. There wasn’t even a moment that we considered the medications. The seizures were not damaging her brain so there was no long-term risk, but we were still frustrated since the “episodes” were causing Jaylee a lot of anxiety and frustration, as well as making it harder for her to succeed in school and gymnastics…not to mention the stress it was causing us as a family since she was impossibly grumpy and moody most of the time. The only thing we were willing to try was Melatonin at 6pm every evening in an effort to help her fall asleep earlier and faster. It made her tired earlier, but didn’t seem to help with anything else.

And here is where my friend Debbie Burns comes in. I had met Debbie when studying to be a Health Coach, and she had been the one to introduce me to essential oils back in September. When we became aware of Jaylee’s issues, I had decided to take a hiatus from health coaching and felt I didn’t have time to learn about the essential oils I had just purchased. I felt that I needed to focus all my spare time and energy on helping Jaylee, and if I am honest with myself, I think I was skeptical that the oils would make any difference. I had bought them intending to make my own cleaning and skin care products, not to use them as part of our healthcare toolkit.  But, when Debbie found out about Jaylee’s diagnoses and heard how frustrated and overwhelmed I felt, she came to my house to give me the gifts of an aromatherapy touch technique that supports the body in dealing better with pain, stress, and immunity. She also gave me a resource book on essential oil usage, along with encouragement to look up how the oils may be able to help my daughter.

Those gifts changed our lives.

The aromatherapy session completely reinvigorated me…and I mean the way that a week-long vacation, by myself, on a deserted island that just happened to be equipped with a memory blocking device would reinvigorate me. She left, and I dove into that book. I just had to know how and why I felt so much better. I mean, if they helped me that much in one experience, maybe they COULD possibly help my daughter.

Breathe_15mlLavender_15mlI didn’t have all of the oils recommended for her conditions, but I had most of them. We started that night with this protocol:

  • Two drops of lavender on each side of her pillow and on her favorite stuffed animal’s head  (she turns from side to side, and I didn’t have a diffuser, so this was my workaround), and two drops rubbed into the bottom of each foot
  • PastTense_RollOnThree drops of a respiratory oil blend rubbed into her chest, and a little under her nose
  • A drop of tension oil blend rubbed behind each ear, and two drops rubbed into the base of her hairline at the back of her neck, layered with 1 drop of frankincense.

days-2Two nights later she had one of her “episodes,” but she said she didn’t feel as scared when she woke up, and that she was able to get right back to sleep after she went to the bathroom. She also had an easier time waking up then she had prior to the oils.

days-14Two weeks later, she was managing to fall asleep by 9pm instead of 11pm, she seemed rested in the morning, and she only had one episode that week compared to the 3-5 per week she was having prior to starting. Jaylee also started bringing her pillow out when she said goodnight so we could put the “sleep oils” on it. She wasn’t about to go to sleep without them.

days-21Three weeks later, we started to realize it had been a week with no episodes, and she was sleeping through the night. She was a happy, well-rested child during our annual Christmas vacation trip.

days-28The following week she didn’t have any episodes, and she hasn’t had any since. Watching her health improve right in front of our eyes was one of the best Christmas presents EVER.

The neurologist was very happy to see she “outgrew” the condition faster than usual, and seemed sincerely intrigued by my belief that the oils deserved the credit. In her defense, she did not dismiss the idea as she was aware of their proven effectiveness in some cases, though she also was not willing to give credit. 🙂

Jay-NikaSo, what about side effects? Oh, there were many. Let me name just a few:

  • The horrifically grumpy morning diva is gone and has been replaced by a cooperative, happy girl (well, most mornings)
  • Her math grades have improved drastically (math was the first class of the day, and therefore those grades had suffered the most, even though math is Jaylee’s favorite subject)
  • She looks forward to going to bed and no longer finds every excuse known to man to delay laying in a horizontal position
  • She was able to avoid her asthma medications almost all winter (the respiratory blend supports overall respiratory health)
  • She is far less anxious and reactive in unexpected situations (both lavender and the tension blend help with calming anxieties in addition to providing neurological support)
  • She is performing much better in gymnastics due in large part to having more stamina and breath control
  • I now have new tools that I am excited about incorporating into my health coaching work

I don’t know about you, but those are side effects I will happily live with.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.