Fighting Adrenal Fatigue, Naturally

fight adrenal

After losing our son in the early second trimester in August, my body just never recovered. I lost a lot of blood, resulting in plummeting iron levels and extremely low energy. Walking up the stairs, exercising, and even holding my daughter were exhausting to me.

Even when I got to a point where I was eating a very clean diet, pushing through workouts, and taking my multivitamins regularly, I still couldn’t shake the fatigue and general feeling of “unwell”. I gained 15-20lb in about 3 months. My self confidence was waning and I honestly felt hopeless.

Several friends encouraged me to research adrenal fatigue- and, boy, were they on to something! Adrenal fatigue is kind of complicated, but you can read up on it here. The general premise: stress and life events render your adrenal glands basically inactive. Your body stops making adrenaline, or produces it at inappropriate times, resulting in crazy fatigue but then sometimes insomnia and unnecessary panic. Weight won’t budge no matter what, exercise makes you feel worse, and you can have random bouts of inflammation. I had all of these symptoms and more.

Because I don’t currently have health insurance, I was cornered into a self-diagnosis through trial and error. However, I am happy to report that after about 6 weeks, I am already starting to feel much better! So, I want to share some of the lifestyle changes that I have made to fight my battle with adrenal fatigue.

Cut out the caffeine…
This was so hard for me! I was drinking 4-6 cups of coffee throughout the day and I was feeling NOTHING. No jolt, nothing. It does’t help that I like the taste of coffee, the feeling of a warm mug in my hands- so yeah, it was an issue. Overusing caffeine, particularly after 12PM, overworks and confuses the adrenal glands. So out went coffee.

Now, if I have any, I drink decaf or maybe a half cup of regular- and I feel it. Instead, we drink Chaga concentrate or sometimes even Mate!

…and the sugar…
Sugar functions much like coffee in that it makes it more difficult for the adrenal glands to function properly, let alone the myriad other health issues it causes. Out goes the sugar. Boo!

…and the gluten.
Same thing. Gluten takes a lot of work for the body to digest, and when the body needs to be healing instead…you need to conserve that energy. I am not 100% gluten free at this point, but I try to limit my consumption as much as possible to give it the break it needs.

Support your body’s natural rhythms.
ACV and honey in the morning help naturally jumpstart the metabolism and support the adrenals! Also, see the supplements below.
Magnesium and chamomile or lavender at night- help relax the body and the mind. Tell your body that it’s time to shut off and sleep! I love to drink this magnesium just before bed.
Epsom salt baths to relax at night- again, helps relax the body and get ready for sleep. These are particularly helpful if you are struggling with any kind of sleeping issues. This kind is great!

Add in supplements to support healing.
Ashwagandha, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba all support the adrenals and productively manage stress. You can find formulas with all of these, or each individually. There are also adrenal support specific formulas that often include these.

Support your healing with essential oils.
Essential oils can be very supportive of the healing process. Using “awakening” oils in the morning, such as citruses or mints, and calming oils in the evenings, like lavender, chamomile, or cedarwood, can further support the body’s new rhythms. There are also oils that specifically support the adrenals, such as rosemary and lemongrass. For more information on essential oils and for purchasing options, please email me: karli.vonherbulis@gmail.com.

Replenish minerals and vitamins and FEED your adrenals with SOLE.
Sole water is one of the best ways to do this! Sole is a high-mineral salt water infusion that is drank on an empty stomach each morning (ideally). You can buy high quality sea salt crystals made specifically for making sole and make it at home! This has made a huge difference in my healing process and I have come to (almost) crave the taste 🙂

Limit heavy cardio and stick to restorative exercise
For most healing protocols, this sounds counterintuitive- but when your body isn’t making energy hormones to even get you through the day, making them for a sweaty cardio sesh just isn’t gonna work. Stick to things like yoga, tai chi, or walking until you feel your energy starting to return.

SLEEP!
For the love, your body is healing! Go to bed early, sleep in if you can, nap if you need it. This is a good, good thing!

Have you suffered from adrenal fatigue? What was helpful for you in recovery?

Easy DIY Hair Treatments

Several years ago, I was part of a management team for a lovely natural cosmetics line. The products basically sold themselves, what with their colorful packaging, intoxicating smells, and fun names. One of the perks of working there was that I got to take home “samples” of anything I wanted, as I needed to be able to speak for the products from personal experience. I, of course, took full advantage.

One of the things that blew me away about this product line was their innovative use of everyday, household materials: honey, baking soda, Castile soap, herbs, oils. This further propelled my growing desire to know all things health and natural beauty: if these products could be so effective, and yet use such common ingredients, why didn’t I just make them myself?

This question has lead me to where I am today: self-professed “witch doctor” of alternative medicine and natural beauty. Today, I’d like to share some at-home fixes for one of our most worrisome features: hair! You need look no further than your kitchen to find the remedy you’ve likely contemplated pawning your iPhone for.

Lack of shine? Try some lemon juice!
Lemon juice is one of those miracle products that can do just about anything: clean your sink, polish your furniture, marinate your fish, brighten up your skin….and shine your hair! Try squeezing out FRESH JUICE from two or three lemons and using it as a rinse for your hair. Just be careful not to let it sit, as it can have a lightening effect, particularly if you sit out in the sun!

Heat damage? Hit up the honey!
Honey is another miracle product. Chock full of vitamins and minerals, it makes better practically everything it touches, from toast to your t-zone (honey is a natural antibacterial, and also has a lightening effect on the skin, which is perfect for hyper pigmentation or general uneven skin tone). To help heal your poor, damaged mane, work one through the ends of your hair and use as a “pack” of sorts: let it sit for about 20 minutes before you shampoo and condition as normal. Honey is a humectant, meaning that it traps moisture and helps seal it in- which is exactly what your tresses need! If you find the honey hard to maneuver, try working in a bit of olive oil to make it more manageable.

Got product buildup? Break it down with baking soda!
I wash my hair exclusively with baking soda and an ACV rinse. Known for its scouring power in the kitchen, a smooth paste of baking soda and water worked in like a shampoo will gut through any amount of grease, silicone, or other excess product in your hair and strip it off, leaving your hair soft and natural! While you’re at it, us it as a gentle body and face scrub. And toothpaste. Again, miracle product.

Got grease? Detox with apple cider vinegar!
This is another cult product that many people use on their hair exclusively. Apple cider vinegar not only helps normalize oil production in the scalp, but because it is a “fermented” product, it will help combat any kind of scalp abnormality or even fungal issues. I know, it’s not pretty, but it happens! Apple cider vinegar is also an extremely good thing to ingest daily: I take a few teaspoons and mix it with water in the morning for a detoxifying, energizing tonic when I’m feeling sluggish.

Frizz and breakage? Call up the avocado!
Tis one can be hard to swallow unless you have an avocado tree at your disposal, being that they re definitely on the pricey side. If you can manage, take an entire avocado and mash it up guacamole style- but before you dig in with your Scoops, work it all through your hair instead. This will coat your hair with those lovely healthy fats that we all eat everyday (right?) and tame those pesky flyaways. In addition, this treatment strengthens the hair and protects against future damage!

Need some body? Grab a Guinness.
I know this one sounds totally bizarre,but at the uppity store I used to work for, we actually sold beer shampoo, marketed to those wanting to improve the volume of their hair. I absolutely love to have as much volume as possible in my hair, and this stuff made me look like an 80’s rocker gone awesome! It was my favorite. I soon realized that I could just grab a bottle of any old stout and work this magic myself-at a much lower cost. So, channel your inner sorority girl, grab a dark beer (the darker, the better) and head to the shower. Work the whole bottle into your hair and let it soak for just a few minutes, then rinse as normal. Try it if you don’t believe me! Plus or minus (depending on how hard you had to work to channel the sorority girl) is that your hair will smell slightly beer-like. You be the judge 🙂

Color need a lift? Brew up some tea!
This is a pretty commonly used trick, but I thought I would touch on it anyway. Different teas (for different hair shades) will boost color in very gentle but beautiful ways. If you are a blonde, try chamomile tea. Brunette, try any normal black tea- or a red tea if you like warm undertones. Redheads can have a bit of fun with this, too- red tea (like rooibos) works great, but if you can get your hands on some hibiscus flowers (called ‘karkade’ in Mediterranean markets, where they are easily found in bulk) you can see some really nice color deepening. While the results of this are never dramatic, it is always a good idea, no matter what your hair color, to do a test patch first, to make sure that you don’t end up looking silly!

No time to shower? Grab some cornstarch!
This is so easy, a baby could do it. No, really- if you are looking for an easy and affordable dry shampoo option, skip the aerosol and silicone loaded types in the hair section and find yourself a bottle of cornstarch-only baby powder. The shake lid makes it easy to sprinkle a bit on your scalp, comb it through, and give your hair new life and body by absorbing oils and giving hair a bit of texture. The lighter your hair, the better these things work- and that goes for commercial brands as well! If your hair is dark, make sure that you experiment with this on a day when you aren’t walking a runway just in case it makes you look likes colonist in a powdered wig. However, even now that my hair is dark, I still find this to be extremely helpful with careful application.

Just want some all-over oomph? Spoon in some yogurt.
Shine and strength are yogurts two big selling points. While the lactic acid in the yogurt will strip away product and grease that leaves hair looking dull and lifeless, milk fat will moisturizer and strengthen. Just be sure not to get a flavored kind, which will leave you quite sticky and smelling like a jelly jar- look for all-natural, flavorless yogurt if you can find it.

Got any more at-home hair tricks? Let me know!

Easy Detoxifying and Healing Morning Elixir

Detoxifying and Healing Morning ElixirOne of the things that I miss the most while being pregnant is the opportunity to go through regular periods of cleansing and detoxing. I love doing cleanses- they make my body feel more efficient, lighten the load on the digestive system, clear the brain, and give me lots of energy. Full detoxing isn’t recommended during pregnancy because of how the body can react to toxins being pulled into the bloodstream (and therefore possibly reaching the baby), so lighter, more ‘everyday’ detox measures have to be put into place to maintain health and stop the accumulations of toxins and waste!

One of the easiest ways to keep your body clean is to make yourself a light, detoxifying morning drink. There are many, many variations of this (see my friend Kaitlin’s over at Eat Klean), but this is my favorite, as it has very intentionally selected ingredients to treat a variety of health issues and aid in detoxing. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I look forward to it at this point, and I know it’s doing my body a world of good!

YOU’LL NEED:

Fresh juice of 1 organic lemon
1-2 tablespoons Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1-2 tablespoons raw honey
Dash of cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients in the bottom of your favorite mug, top with freshly boiled water that has been cooled to room temperature. Stir until all ingredients are combined and enjoy!

WHAT YOU’RE GETTING:

Lemon Juice– Full of vitamin C (which is especially important in the winter months), lemon juice boosts the immune system. In addition, lemon alkalizes the body, which is proven to inhibit cancer growth! Warm lemon juice also acts as a mild diuretic that will stimulate digestion. Citrus in general is touted for it’s ability to awaken the body and give energy, making it a great addition to this morning beverage!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar– A miracle worker, apple cider vinegar is good for anything from preventing heartburn (huge for me during pregnancy!) to treating fungal skin infections. Taken internally in this morning beverage, it helps recolonize the gut with good probiotics (hence the RAW acv being best), and helps fight bacterial infections and improves dental health due to it’s antibiotic properties. It also acts as an expectorant, which comes in handy if you’re suffering from any type of congestion or cough. *note: the photo shows Trader Joe’s brand ACV.  This is a pasteurized brand, all I had in the house at the time! My favorite raw brand is Bragg’s 🙂

Raw Honey– Raw honey is full of beneficial enzymes and antioxidants that aid in cleansing and has very strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, which keep any threatening sicknesses at bay and will shorten the duration of anything you’re dealing with currently. Raw honey is also full of vitamins and nutrients that support the body in the cleansing process. The healing benefits of raw honey are such that many people will apply raw honey to open wounds to speed the healing process and protect against infection.

Cayenne Pepper– Yes, this gives the drink quite a kick! Besides waking you up in the morning, cayenne helps to clear congestion and stimulate circulation, while boosting the metabolism. Because it elevates circulation, this causes us to sweat (even a little bit!) which is a major source of detoxification. Cayenne can help prevent blood clots, prevent migraines, and is even speculated to have anti-allergenic properties. Like apple cider vinegar, cayenne acts as an expectorant, breaking up mucus and relieving symptoms of many common illnesses.

As you can see, this drink is a nutritional powerhouse! Yes, the taste takes some getting used to, but the health benefits are borderline magical and your body will thank you for a long, long time. Try it and see!

This post was shared with Wildcrafting Wednesday!

Links used in this post are affiliate links. I do earn a very small percentage when you purchase through these links, which allows me to continue doing what I love: writing!

BEAUTY WEEK: DIY Shampoo!

Hello again, friends!  I am really enjoying this beauty week experiment- I really hope you are, too!  If you have any beauty product you’d like to see me try to DIY, let me know- I’d love to do a Beauty Week Pt. 2!

Today’s beauty item is a little more mainstream- I mean, not everyone is a scrub-a-holic like me and exfoliates in every shower, but pretty much any person reading this blog uses shampoo in some form.  For the past four or so years, I have refused to use anything but natural products on my hair- and I must say, my hair has never been better.  However, those products have come with a price tag- sometimes as much as $30 a bottle for shampoo.  I found myself thinking- if all this stuff is really natural, can’t I just make it myself with a little effort?

Now, I have done most of the popular shampoo experiments- no-poo (where you literally rinse your hair daily with water, and that’s it), baking soda only, apple cider vinegar.  No-poo was great after I shaved my head, but after a while I really noticed the grease, and I know that others could, too.  I’m not the type of person who religiously showers daily- maybe if I was, then no-poo would’ve worked.  But only using water on my hair every other day at best just didn’t look great on me.  Baking soda actually worked really well for a long time, but it was difficult to get out of my hair, which has a lot of texture, and only got worse as my hair grew longer.  Apple cider vinegar, using the raw kind that you really are supposed to use, was just too expensive for my budget- though I do know people who use regular ACV from the store and enjoy the effects.  All this to say, I tried all these things, and they weren’t for me.

I have previously extolled the virtues of the LUSH Shampoo Bar ($10 for about 4 months of use) but even they have drawbacks.  Really, I’m just a curious person.  I wanted to see if I could make my own shampoo.  I scoured my natural health and beauty books, various magazines, and Pinterest pages, and this is the simplest, easiest recipe I’ve found:

You’ll need:

1/4 cup Coconut Milk

1/3 cup Castile Soap (we use Dr. Bronner’s in peppermint)

10-20 drops Essential Oil

Other Oils (optional- start at just 1 teaspoon)

Simply mix together and use!  Make sure you shake before each use, too, as sometimes the coconut milk will separate.

Just the basic ingredients of Coconut Milk and Castile Soap are really what forms your shampoo.  My husband actually uses castile soap exclusively on his hair, but I find it a bit too drying and don’t care for the texture in my hair.  The coconut milk smoothes and moisturizes the hair, while castile soap cleans and shines!

You can add other oils in to suit your hair needs- olive oil or coconut oil to moisturize, or certain essential oils, like rosemary for scalp issues. My final product- coconut milk, castile soap, a tiny bit of olive oil and rosemary oil, felt like washing my hair with fresh snow- it smelled so wintery and clean!