Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Did I miss the memo about the grey socks?

Our older son just started school a few weeks ago (it's Australia so the school year starts in February)  and everyone talks about how tired the kids are when they first start school, but the kids are doing fine, it's the parents who are struggling.

For example, what on earth do you pack for a kids who has had a home-cooked, hot lunch for most of his life, is allergic to 50% of the foods in the world, and doesn't like 49% of the rest of them???  (more on that issue shortly).

One of the things stressing me out will probably sound ridiculous to 99.99% of you.  It's the school uniform.  Having grown up in America the whole concept of a school uniform is foreign to me.  I understand the rationale, or at least the bit about it being an equalizer, so that you can't tell who is rich and who is poor by their clothes.  In a way that would have been a relief to me growing up, when we didn't have much money for clothes and I felt like an outcast because I didn't have 10 pairs of designer jeans.  In retrospect I can see the idiocy of the notion that anyone would want to have 10 pairs of designer jeans, but as a 12 year old girl it seemed important. 

One thing I have embraced about living in Australia (where clothes are much more expensive than in the US, or the rest of the world for that matter) is the concept that you have only a few nice outfits and it's perfectly acceptable to wear them over and over again.  I remember as a pre-teenager agonizing over my wardrobe (most of it sourced from second hand and vintage clothing shops and hand-me-downs, plus a few key pieces from the JCPenney catalog) making sure that I didn't wear the same outfit more than once in a month (really).  Now of course this sounds ridiculous, but in my 12 year old mind it was the only way to achieve social acceptance.

A school uniform would have bee a relief in that sense.  But at what cost?  I learned a lot about thrift and resourcefulness trying to come up with a wardrobe on the $1/hour I earned babysitting.  And clothes were a way for me to express my creativity and individuality.  I'm sure I would have found another outlet,  maybe even a better one, if I'd had a school uniform, but I'm pretty sure I would have hated the conformity of it all.  It still rubs me the wrong way a little bit, and I'm finding small ways of rebelling through my son's wardrobe.  Not that he cares.  He just wants to play mario bros and watch the (original) smurfs on youtube (wait a second, are we in some kind of time warp?).

Anyway.  Aside from my non-conformist tendencies, I have another reason for not being happy with the school uniform thing.  It's not organic.  As you may have noticed, I am an organic freak.  I go to a lot of trouble to make sure that most of our clothes are made from organic cotton or other healthy, eco-friendly, renewable fibers.  And my second choice, if organic etc is not available, is for second hand clothes, where the environmental impact is reduced and hopefully some of the toxic chemicals have been washed away.  So for me the idea of buying brand-new, pesticide and possibly formaldehyde-laden cotton and polyester-blend clothes for my son is anathema.


So what do I do?  I go to a lot of trouble to source organic cotton white polo shirts from America so that I can have them printed and embroidered with the school logo.  And I track down second-hand versions of the shorts.  I did actually manage to find organic cotton shorts in the right color (royal blue) but they were clearly for girls and had lovely pleats etc, so I just couldn't do that to him... I'm a mean enough Mom as it is ;-)

It wasn't until a few days into the first week that I noticed that all of the other boys were wearing grey socks.  Socks were not listed on the uniform order form, so I hadn't even thought about it.  I must have missed the memo about the grey socks.  Maybe it's something like Vegemite or Cricket and you just have to grown up Australian to know about the grey socks. 

I had been lucky enough to find some great organic kids socks at Nordstrom when we were in the US in January, so I bought some black ones and some white ones.  I might have even bought some grey ones if they had had any, but they didn't. 

So I have spent the last few weeks searching for eco-friendly grey socks for a size 13 boy's foot.  They do not exist.  If you can find some for me I will send you a prize.  Really.

I did manage to find some grey bamboo socks at a local shop, but they are more my size than my 6 year old's.  I'm still making him wear them for now though.  I am that mean.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Guest post on "Elimination Communication" and "Diaper Free Baby" book review

I'm so excited to share this guest blog post from my dear friend Ali about her amazing 3 month old baby girl Summit.  I had flirted with the thought of using Elimination Communication, which I really like the idea of, but I never got around to trying it... now I really wish I had, and I'm even inspired to start trying it with my 9 month old.  Here's Ali's story:


I think I’m being toilet trained by my three month old. Seriously, she hasn’t pooped in a diaper in over a week. Here’s how it happened. Fair warning, there will be talk of poop.

Ever since she came home from the hospital Summit has been a little fussy when she has to poop. This is especially true in the early morning, when it seems to take her a while. I’ve assumed it was gas or just general discomfort but at one point I told my friend Melissa about it and she asked if I’d read a book called The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative by Christine Gross-Loh about Elimination Communication. Truthfully, I’d been avoiding it.
Elimination Communication (often called EC) is a process where parents learn to read their baby’s cues and offer them chances to use the toilet instead of a diaper. Some families start as early as birth which sounds crazy until you think about the fact that it is a relatively new (and Western) idea that babies should use diapers for the first 2-3 years of their lives. In fact, in more than half of the world babies are using the toilet by age 1. The basic idea is that it is not natural to soil oneself (seriously, what other mammal poops all over itself and sits in it?) and that if we nurture a sense of body awareness from an early age we allow our babies an alternative to soiling themselves. Also we don’t set them up to struggle with toilet training later. Sounds great, right? So why was I avoiding it even though my baby was giving me clear signs that she didn’t want to poop in a diaper?

The truth is that during the first few months of Summit’s life I was overwhelmed enough with the transition from caring for a relatively independent 6 year old to caring for him and his brand new, totally dependent sister. The thought of adding a new level of awareness to my day to day life sounded impossible. During those early days it seemed like she was always peeing or pooping and I couldn’t imagine how I would realistically implement something like EC. Also, she was this floppy, tiny little person and the idea of holding her over the toilet didn’t appeal to me. It may sound silly, but there it is.

There was another aspect to my reluctance as well. The people I know who practice EC do it in a community where there’s a lot of support for it; a community where it is not frowned upon to bring your half-naked baby to a party and even let them poop on the ground in the yard. Most of them do a pretty comprehensive form of EC, so I assumed that was the way it was always done. In my community there is not a lot of EC going on so there would be much less support and much less understanding about what is involved. All I could imagine was what it would be like to try to pick Mason up from school with a pants-less baby ,who might or might not cover me in pee (or worse, poop) in front of all the other moms. No, EC was not for me. I was sure of it.

But Summit’s apparent discomfort continued and it got me thinking. Melissa is smart and knows quite a bit about EC, and her instincts around parenting are fantastic. I decided I should at least read the book.  As I read section after section in which Summit’s exact behaviors were described I was hit hard with the realization that like-it-or-not I couldn’t unlearn what I was learning. I couldn’t ignore that there might be a way to better meet Summit’s needs. I was also relieved to learn that EC is not an all or nothing proposition. You can practice it sometimes but not all the time. You can keep your baby in a diaper and take it off to give her chances at the potty. This appealed to me greatly because it minimized the risk of standing at swimming lessons or on the school playground or anywhere else at all actually, with yellow poop running down my side. Even doing it once a week is supposed to help your baby maintain body awareness. Surely I could handle it once a week, right?

The more I read the more clear it became that Summit is the perfect candidate for some level of EC. I had to be honest with myself and admit that I’d been seeing signs from the beginning. I started to feel silly about the fact that I’d almost always known when Summit had to poop and, because I knew she struggled with it, I’d hold her little knees up to put her in kind of a squatting position so she could poop…into a diaper. You’d think removing the diaper and putting her over the toilet wouldn’t feel like such a huge, giant leap.

The author of Diaper Free Baby suggests that people who want to practice EC might consider using cloth diapers because they also increase body awareness. Disposables don’t allow the baby to feel the wetness when they go, disconnecting them from the process and outcome of elimination. We already use cloth diapers. The author suggested that baby wearing helps in practicing EC because the proximity helps the parent to pick up on cues and also because babies don’t like to pee or poop when they are in their carriers so the signs may be even clearer. I wear Summit almost all the time. I tried not to think about the times she’d protest in the carrier and then poop in her diaper when I pulled her out. The author mentioned that co-sleeping also makes EC easier. Summit doesn’t even have a crib. Though it is clear that EC is flexible and none of these other parenting approaches are a mandatory part of it, it is also clear that most of what we instinctively do compliments elimination communication. Perhaps more importantly it feels like ignoring signs my baby is communicating to me about her needs would be a departure from everything else I believe about parenting.

Last Saturday night I finished the book and at about 5:00am Sunday morning Summit started squirming around in bed, making complaining sounds and kicking her legs. Ordinarily I’d try to comfort her, nurse her and put her back to sleep. If she did eventually poop (after an hour or so of restless tossing around) I’d get up and change her diaper and then restart the comforting, nursing routine and hope against hope that more sleep might be had. It’s not a process I love to participate in before the sun has risen so what is the logic in clinging to it, right? “Here goes nothing” I thought to myself , and brought her to the bathroom. I felt a little silly.

The moment I held Summit over the toilet she pooped. Then she turned to me and gave me a huge, happy grin and started making excited, chatty sounds as if she was telling me a story all about her dense mommy who finally figured out that poop goes in the potty. Moments later we were back in bed where she nursed herself back to sleep and slept for another peaceful hour and a half. When she woke up I could hardly wait to let her try again. I held her over the potty and she peed immediately, the restarted the chatty, happy girl routine. I was pretty impressed with both of us.

Jeannette was less impressed. From the moment the book entered the house she’d feared it. “Are you going to drag me down this road with you?” she wanted to know. It all sounded crazy and overwhelming to her and I could empathize, but I also couldn’t ignore what Summit and the book were both telling me. She didn’t want to poop in a diaper. There was another option. We should learn more. I tried to woo Jeannette with promises of fewer diapers to wash, more sleep to be had, a happier baby. She laughed at me… right up until the moment that I had her watch Summit do it. The smile got her too. Summit, at 3 months old, is clearly proud of herself. What parent can ignore that?

The author of Diaper Free Baby emphasizes that Elimination Communication does not have to be a full time practice. Summit disagrees. In the week and a half since that first poop in the potty she has not pooped in a single diaper. Instead she gives me cues that she needs to go. They aren’t always the same but they are pretty clear. I’d compare it to the way a baby communicates that they want to nurse. Whatever set of signs they give you might not be clear to everyone around you but you as the mom will know they want to nurse. Sometimes you may get it wrong. Mostly you get it right. It’s like that with EC. I have a harder time with the cues for peeing so she still has a fair number of wet diapers but she also pees in the potty at least a few times every day.

It’s exciting when we get it right and we’re getting better at it. The other day I tried to put Summit in the Mei Tai Baby Carrier and she got really fussy and wouldn’t settle. I took her out and brought her to the toilet where she pooped immediately and then went happily back into the carrier for a nice, long nap. One day she wouldn’t latch on to nurse herself to sleep at naptime so I took her to the bathroom. She peed, smiled, then snuggled in for a 3 hour nap. She woke up with a dry diaper and was thrilled to pee the moment I put her on the potty but not before. It’s pretty rewarding when it works like that.

It doesn’t always work like that. Some days it does feel a little overwhelming. Honestly, it’s faster and more convenient to just ignore a baby’s cues and change her at a time that works for you. The question is, is it fair? I’ve had moments where we’re trying to get out the door and a voice in my head is telling me I should let Summit try the potty before we go and another voice is telling me we just don’t have time. It’s hard to feel torn. There are times when I make the time and then it turns out she doesn’t need to go and I wonder if I’m reading the signs right at all. There have been times when I feel a little ridiculous holding a tiny three month old over a potty. It is easier at home but going out in public can feel like a challenge. Socially it can feel awkward to have to explain what we’re doing to friends and family. It can be hard to offer as many opportunities as a tiny baby needs . It is easier for me to sleep through Summit peeing into a diaper than it is for me to get up and hold her over a potty. The reality is though, that I can’t un-know what I’ve seen in the past week. I would never tell Mason that he couldn’t use the bathroom because we have somewhere to be. Why should Summit have to soil herself just because that’s what we assume babies do? This is an unusual practice in our culture and some people might judge me for doing it. That’s uncomfortable. However, when I measure the discomfort that comes with that judgment against the pride I take in meeting my baby’s needs there is just no comparison.

A few weeks ago I would have told you that I didn’t have the energy, the time, even the knowledge to do this. And yet here we are, doing it. Is it work? Sure. But it is work that I’d rather do now, with an eager infant, than in two or three years with a reluctant toddler or (God forbid) preschooler. This whole thing has rocked my world a little. My preconceptions about EC have been rattled by the clear evidence I see in front of me. I worried that a baby might feel pressured to use the potty before she was really ready. It turns out that Summit is distressed when she can’t use the potty and proud and relieved when she has a chance. There are no false rewards for using the potty and certainly there are no punishments when it doesn’t work out that way. I don’t praise her for using the potty. Instead I make statements like “Oh, you peed in the potty, you must feel better!” There are no “accidents” in this process. When she pees in her diaper I simply change her and we move on. It’s all pretty natural and fluid. If some days it is remarkably rewarding while others it is a little overwhelming, then it is just like most other aspects of parenting, right? Practically speaking I can’t ignore the fact that I’m washing and changing fewer diapers. More importantly, I’m making my baby girl really, really happy.


Thanks Ali for letting me share this wonderful post with the world.  You are an inspiration to us all :-)
Lots of Love, 
Annie
xxxooo

Saturday, September 03, 2011

VOC-free paint - safer for pregnancy and babies - let the nesting begin!


While I've been busy with my baby (now 8 months, 4 teeth, and virtually eczema-free - more on that soon!) and 5 year old, I've asked some friends to write guest blog posts. Here is the first, from Melissa Wittig, an eco-friendly interior designer at Relish Designs and author of the very informative Healthy Home Insight Blog.  Enjoy :-) 

Ahhh... everyone loves the excitement and anticipation that comes from a freshly painted room, a change of colour and scenery can be as good as a holiday.  With the bombardment of reality renovation shows and spring just around the corner [in Australia at least] great painting weather is fast approaching.  While being inspired by the plethora of colours available take a moment to consider the contents of the emulsion that will be painted throughout your space.  Buying paint can be likened to food choices, some cause health problems and others contribute to a healthy future.

Paint formulas all vary,  brands are made differently and use different ingredients. These ingredients can vary in their performance, durability and ease of application along with a vital difference – potential for indoor air pollution.  Most paints on the market once applied have that new paint smell that we are all familiar with. This new paint smell is the paint off-gassing which is referred to as VOCs - Volatile Organic Compounds, essentially a health warning from your nose.

Paint within the home environment has been a silent contributor to unhealthy homes for far too long, a fact that has conveniently escaped many colourful marketing campaigns. It is only in recent times that VOCs are being understood by the wider public as detrimental to human health.  Paint fumes have the potential to cause and worsen respiratory conditions among other illnesses and once paint is on the wall it has the potential to off-gas for years after application, long after the new smell has gone.

There are “healthier choice” paint options available in the market place although some detective work is required to cut through green washing.  There are low VOC paint products on the market, but make sure that the product is still low VOC after the tint (colour) has been added. The ultimate “healthier choice” is to buy paint that is ZERO VOC. There is a ZERO VOC product on the market that is comparative in price with other paints, is Australian made and uses a recycled ingredient: Ecolour. The company is a smaller corporate identity than some in the paint world but a company with a commitment to healthy people and a healthy environment. 

The biggest decision when you are about to paint is not the colour, it is what the paint is made from and how it may impact on your indoor air quality for years to come.  Energy efficient homes are important, but healthy homes should be sharing the spotlight.  Ecolour have stockists around Australia, but they have just opened a Melbourne store and are offering a 10% discount valid until the end of October 2011. Contact the Melbourne store at 3 Evans St, Braybrook, 1300 937 686  and let them know that Melissa from Relish Designs sent you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Avoiding non-ionizing radiation during pregnancy with Belly Armor

Ironically I didn't get a mobile phone until I was pregnant with my first son.  I held out until I was one of only about 3 people (one of whom was my husband) I knew who didn't have one at the time (2005).  Now all three of us have mobile phones (I have the lowest radiation-emitting phone I could find in Australia - a Nokia 6700c SAR value 0.410 W/Kg), but I still try to avoid using it as much as possible, and when I do use it I always use speakerphone and set the phone down as far from me as possible.  I never carry it on my body.  But I do spend a lot of time at a computer, including while pregnant and breast feeding, and I do worry about the effect of this on my baby.  


I try to minimize the radiation from the computer by using an ethernet connection to my broadband instead of wireless.  We have also gotten rid of our cordless phones at home and replaced them with traditional landlines.  But there's only so much you can do in a world full of radiation, and sometimes where you live or work has wireless internet that you can't turn off, or lots of cell phones (or even worse, power lines or a mobile phone boosting tower).  Thankfully there are some products that you can use to cut down the exposure of your baby in utero.  Sadly I wasn't aware of these products when I was pregnant, but I've discovered them now and hopefully you can benefit from them.  (And I can use them if I have another baby!)


When Belly Armor CEO Aileen Chen was pregnant with her first child, she was working as a banking executive.  She became concerned about the impact of her frequent travel and use of electronic devices and started researching what the experts were saying about everyday radiation, and became more and more concerned with what she found. So, after looking for something to shield this everyday radiation, and not finding anything, she decided to create it herself and Belly Armor was born.


Aileen partnered with a company that creates radiation shields for industrial purposes and worked with them to create something for consumer use.  The resulting textile is incredibly light, breathable, machine washable and shields against everyday radiation with 99% effectiveness.  Belly Armor's products include maternity tops, a belly band, and belly blankets.  Aileen was named #11 in the Babble 2011 list of the top 50 Mompreneurs ("They cook, they clean and, between naptimes, they run kickass companies."). 

There is some fantastic information on the Belly Armor website, including a great collection of recent news items about radiation from cell phones and wireless networks, and an interesting/scary list of possible health risks from radiation exposure, especially during pregnancy.
Belly Armor were kind enough to provide me with one of their belly blankets to test, and I can confirm that the cell phone test works. I would recommend these products to any pregnant women wanting to avoid radiation, along with other radiation-minimizing tips such as these.  


*** You can get 10% off all purchases from www.bellyarmor.com with the promo coupon code Annies until June 24th 2011.  ***


I asked Belly Armor some questions to find out more about the company and their products:



"Q: Where are your products made and what mechanisms do you have in place to ensure safe working conditions?
A: Our products are made in our own factory in Indonesia and our CEO makes frequent trips out there.  It adheres to GMP standards (good manufacturing practices) and we have programs in place to ensure our processes are socially and environmentally responsible. This includes balancing our carbon footprint by purchasing carbon offsets through a great program called TerraPass.

Q: Would you ever consider using organic cotton or other eco-friendly materials in your products?
A: Yes, we will be introducing an organic cotton product later this year.  We also use eco-friendly recycled packaging and processes.

Q: Are you planning on expanding your range in the near future?
A: Yes, in addition to the organic product we plan on launching, we'll be doing another product launch with a next generation technology this summer that we are very excited about.

Q: Do you recommend using the blankets on babies after they are born?
A: Right now our products are only for use during maternity.  Risk from radiation exposure is also a big concern for babies and young children, so we do hope to expand our line in the near future to help address this as well.

Q: Any other tips on avoiding radiation exposure?
A: Use headsets or speakerphone while on your cell phone, especially when pregnant. When you have the option, use a landline and limit the time on your cell phone.

Don't set your laptop on your pregnant (or non-pregnant) belly. Always work with it on the desk or at least with a lap desk or laptop cooler between you and the laptop.

Be aware of the time spent using electronics and, when possible, increase the distance between yourself and electronic devices - particularly appliances that use high rotation or air flow, such as hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, blenders, etc."

Finally, I love this quote from a mom named Christine who was interviewed for another Belly Armor review: "It really is sad how unavoidable it is — unless of course you live in a bubble and even then, your bubble may be made of BPA plastic, therefore negating the whole bubble thing!"  Sad but true.  At least with Belly Armor there is something relatively easy you can do to reduce your exposure to radiation :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Confessions of an organic mom who is sometimes normal

The last month or so has been a bit rough for our family.  Beautiful Organic Boy #2 (BOB2) has been unwell, primarily with infected eczema, which means that none of us has been getting much sleep, and since he wasn't sleeping unless one of us was holding him, we weren't getting much else done either.  I have a few posts planned about the whole saga, and how to stay as natural & organic as possible while navigating the conventional medical paradigm, but for now I wanted to share some quick thoughts on my recent revelations.  I have so much more appreciation now for what life must be like for families with chronically unsettled/unwell babies, or people who are carers around the clock.  It's hard work and you have very little time to look after yourself, just getting a moment to brush your teeth or wash your hair is a challenge.  That's why I've taken to wearing outfits that can go from bed to school drop off and back to bed a few more times without having to be changed (just reapply a bit of organic deodorant).

It's also hard to take the time and have the mental clarity to research and purchase the safest products for your family while being a full time carer for someone who is unwell.  I have to confess that I've done the following things in the last few weeks that I never thought I would.  They probably seem pretty normal to some of you, but for me it was a real insight into what life is like for people who are really busy/stressed/over-worked etc.  I realize now how much my lovely organic lifestyle has been made possible because of having the luxury of time (by working part time from home) to research and procure the safest products (or find ways to consume less but that require more time/effort).

So here are my confessions:
1.  I bought a pack of Huggies diapers (actually my husband did) because it was too much trouble to find a shop with the eco-friendly ones in stock.
2.  We bought a clothes dryer, which is being delivered this week hopefully.
3.  I bought some beef that wasn't organic because I couldn't get to the organic butcher (and it was really yummy).
4.  I used some petroleum-based skin care products on my baby because he was reacting badly to all of the natural/organic ones :-(
5.  I drove places that I could have easily walked to because I was too tired/didn't have time/couldn't be bothered.

PS: I've also taken to peeing in the shower lately, as it saves time and it's hard to pee when you're always holding a sick baby.  But I don't have to add that to my list of confessions since I reckon it's pretty eco-friendly, saving water and all...

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to reduce harm from radiation exposure

I know many of you are worried about radiation exposure.  It will be important to avoid dairy products that come from areas that have been exposed to radiation, or dairy of unknown origin. Good time to be doing a detox anyway.  I've included this informative article from one of my favorite health practitioners (she helped to cure me of my food allergies and intolerances).
Stay safe!
xx Annie

Reproduced with permission from Dr Louisa Williams of Marin Naturopathic Medicine:
As you already know, dangerous levels of radiation were reported yesterday to be leaking from the damaged Fukushima Japanese nuclear power plant. This is not only dangerous for the Japanese people, but something we need to be proactive about on the West Coast. Reports estimate that nuclear fallout can travel through the jet streams to the Western United States and Canada within a week to 10 days. It is impossible to estimate at this point how strong this dose will be to us, but some experts are predicting that it could be a significant amount of radiation.
 
Protect the Thyroid:
Potassium iodide (KI) is the gold standard for protecting against radiation to the sensitive thyroid gland. A person who is contaminated with radioactive iodine may experience thyroid cancer or growths later in life. KI protects the thyroid from absorbing this radioactive iodine. The CDC recommends 130 mg KI for adults, 65 mg for children between 3 and 18 (unless they are adult size and then they should take the adult dose), 32 mg for infants and children between 1 month and 3 years old, and 16 mg for newborns to 1 month old, for acute radiation poisoning. These dosages may need to be lowered for us on the West Coast however, since the radiation will probably be reduced by the time it reaches us.
 
Unfortunately, when I called around to various Whole Foods as well as Apothecure (holistic pharmacy in Dallas) today they were all out of it, and said they couldn’t seem to get more from their suppliers.
 
Herbal Formula with Iodine:
I have ordered from Eclectic Institute a supply of an herbal tincture called Red Clover/Burdock. This combination remedy based on the original detoxifying Hoxsey formula contains almost 140 mg of iodine per teaspoon.
 
Here’s the good news about this tincture: It’s an excellent time-tested blood purifier and enhances metabolic functioning through elimination, and it tests energetically better than potassium iodide alone which can cause stomach irritation and other side effects. So even if the radiation turns out to not be significant, this formula is a nice spring detoxifier that can be taken for a week to 10 days.
 
Caution with Pregnancy and Thyroid Disorders: 
Pregnant women cannot take this formula since it also contains Cascara sagrada, and herbal laxatives are contraindicated during pregnancy. (As well as for anyone with a strong diarrhea tendency.) Additionally, iodine aggravates Hashimoto’s disease. And since 90% of people with hypothyroidism actually suffer from this autoimmune thyroid dysfunction, these individuals should also avoid potassium iodide. Further, those with hyperthyroidism, or Grave’s disease, should also avoid KI because iodine aggravates both hyper-, as well as hypo-, disorders of the thyroid. Also, those with shellfish allergies may be allergic to the iodine itself, and shouldn’t take KI or this formula. Finally, since this is classically an anti-cancer and detoxifying herbal tincture used by adults, herbalists disagree on whether this tincture is appropriate for children.
 
Sulfur Crystals/MSM Provides Glutathione:
There are other measures one can take to protect against radiation. Glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in the body, is used by the thyroid to protect itself against free radicals. One of the best ways to receive utilizable and absorbable glutathione in the body is through the Crystal Sulfur/MSM supplement, which many of you are familiar with and have in stock at home. Vitamin C is also an important antioxidant to protect against radiation damage.
 
Medical Baths for Radiation Exposure:
Additionally, the late great Hazel Parcells always recommended for any radiation exposure (e.g., after spinal or dental x-rays, mammograms, Cat scans, etc.), a therapeutic bath of non-iodized (Kosher) salt and one pound of baking soda in a tub of water – as hot as you can stand it – and to stay in this water until it cools. Then wait at least 4 hours before showering. (Again, not recommended for pregnant women or anyone so weak that this could potentially enervate them.) An alternative bath is magnesium salts (Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts, or magnesium chloride bath flakes) and baking soda, in the same amounts (e.g., 1 to 5 pounds each). Baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, binds with uranium and helps protect the kidneys from uranium and cesium radiation exposure. Oral administration of baking soda in water can also be employed to protect against uranium damage and help alkalinize acidic inflamed tissues.
 
Diet:
Miso soup has been a time-tested radiation detoxifier. Additionally, kelp and other seaweeds provide small amounts of iodine as well as other nutrients that protect from nuclear radiation. Unfortunately, according to an adviser at Eclectic Institute, Fucus vesiculosus, (kelp or bladderwrack), has been significantly contaminated (along with much of our seafood, sadly) with arsenic and other heavy metals, so these are not recommended in supplement form at this time. Spirulina and chlorella vary in quality, so these should be tested out on a case-by-case situation, since many brands also contain heavy metals.
 
Plan: 
Iodine only stays in your body for 24 to 72 hours. So don’t begin taking KI or Red Clover/Burdock tincture now. Wait until we receive news that the radiation is imminent. Meterologists estimate that it will take about 10 days to reach the West Coast after significant radiation is released from Japan. So that gives us some time now to boost our immune systems.
 
(Very) General Suggestions Now:
Continue taking your supplements diligently daily. Perhaps increase the dosage slightly. (EG, From 2 to 3 capsules a day of Pure Radiance C, or from ½ to 1 tsp. of Crystal Sulfur/MSM, 2 times a day, etc.)
 
Radiation Imminent:
Begin Potassium iodide tablets or Red Clover/Burdock tincture (if not contraindicated for you).
Red Clover/Burdock tincture – Take a dosage of 1 tsp a day or less (EG, ½ tsp if the radiation levels are considered relatively low. I wish I could be more specific; please watch the news and keep up with the internet news. I will send out another newsletter if I have more information at some point.) This dosage should be taken for a week to 10 days, or less if the radiation exposure is of a briefer duration.
 
Increase the dosages of your supplements (EG, Take 6 capsules a day of Pure Radiance C, and move from 1 tsp. to 1 TBSP. of Crystal Sulfur/MSM, 2 times a day, etc.)
 
Baking Soda – ½ to 1 tsp. in ½ glass (4 oz) of water, or more, daily. (Don’t take larger dosages – e.g., 3 tsps or more daily for over a 2-week period.)
 
Medical Baths for Radiation Exposure – 1 x a day
 
Optimal organic diet with the addition of daily miso soup, as well as seaweed.
 
Increase the dosages of your supplements (EG, Take 6 capsules a day of Pure Radiance C, and move from 1 tsp. to 1 TBSP. of Crystal Sulfur/MSM, 2 times a day, Quinton mineral vials to 2 vials a day, etc.)
 
Conclusion and Caution:
Of course, no one really knows what’s going to happen at this point. But it’s better to be safe and proactive in case the radiation does reach us over here in significant amounts.
 
If you have any adverse reactions to the Red Clover/Burdock tincture or increasing the dosage of your nutritional supplements, please stop. The best way to protect yourself against radiation is through a healthy, strong body. So certainly don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this general protocol or your own individual supplement protocol.
 
You can order the Red Clover/Burdock herbal tincture from Eclectic Institute or at this office: (415) 460-1968 or info@marinnaturopathicmedicine.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

These are a few of my favorite (baby) things...

We have been very blessed by our generous friends and family who have given us lots of wonderful and thoughtful gifts for our new baby.  While it has been three months already and I'm no where near organized enough to send out thank you cards yet, I wanted to do a quick post on what makes a great baby gift in my mind, such as:
-practical
-homemade
-eco-friendly
-hand-me downs
Of course just because something is practical, ethical and safe for baby and planet doesn't mean they can't be beautiful :-)  I am loving the Enchanted Woodland Mobile from cocoon couture that our friends Melinda and Gavin gave us.  It is hand-crafted from eco-friendly plantation timber and printed with non-toxic ink.  I've got it hanging above the change-table (which is in my home office!).  We also got a beautiful wooden vehicle-mobile from our friends Samantha and Paul, which is above the crib (which is in the living room, since we are still using an organic co-sleeper in our bedroom).

Another favorite is this organic cotton quilt, which was hand-made by my amazing step-mother Jan:

We also had lovely hand-made presents from my mother-in-law Eileen (a knitted [or maybe crocheted? I'm so ignorant about these crafty things] blanket), our dear friend Colleen (who took time out of her busy life as an orthopedic surgeon to knit an adorable woolen sweater and hat (aka jumper and beanie), and our lovely friend Carolyn who knitted (I'm pretty sure it's knitted!) a soft little bunny comforter thingy :-)  We're hoping the little bubba starts hanging onto Carolyn's bunny at night instead of pulling his own hair, which he does without realizing that it's attached to him and then he starts screaming because it hurts... one day he'll figure out that he has the power to stop the pain himself by letting go :-)

In addition to giving us a very sweet little organic cotton onesie from the Syracuse Cultural Workers, my mom is sewing an organic cotton duvet (aka doona) cover for us for our new organic cotton queen bed.

I'm also very grateful to my friend Simcha who gave us the organic cotton long-sleeved onesie that bubsie is wearing in the picture above, since it introduced me to Nature Baby from New Zealand, which I hadn't come across before, and is now my favorite one-stop shop for all things organic and baby-related (more on them soon).

People know me well by now and lots of friends gave us beautiful organic cotton clothing from purebaby and Pumpkin Patch (I hadn't even realized that they are doing organic now).

One of the best things people can do for you when you have babies is to not give you things you don't need.  One of my best friends knows me so well that she didn't get anything for the new baby, since really we already have everything we need and she got a small present for his big brother instead :-)

Finally, I love hand-me-downs and loans, such as this gorgeous Moses basket style bassinet that we borrowed from my friend Katie, who also has a fantastic kids book blog and online bookshop called We Heart Books, which is my favorite source for kids birthday presents :-)

We received lots of other lovely gifts and cards as well and if you're reading this, I promise the thank you cards will be coming... eventually!