Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Five Alternative Health Practices I Do

I know I've said this before, but my parents were crunchy before it was cool.  While all the other kids were given regular old cold medicine,  we were given fenugreek tea.  

When everyone else was eating fluffernutter sandwiches, we had to eat organic collard soup.  Blech. I hated collard soup nights. Don't get me wrong, we still saw regular doctors, but not all that often, only if something was really wrong or for the occasional injury.  

Anyway, given my upbringing, it's no surprise that I have taken an interest in alternative health. Ear aches, sore throats, coughs, colds....I have a home remedy for that.  We do see regular doctors if we need them, and my kids do get regular well-child check-ups, but I also do a few alternative health practices that I feel have improved my health.  

So, I'm going to share what I do...with you. 


Oil Pulling.

Oil pulling is basically swishing 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth (I use coconut oil) each day for approximately 20 minutes and then spitting out the oil.  It is said to removes toxins, bacteria, microbes and other nasty things from your mouth and between your teeth. I do it first thing in the morning and I definitely feel as though my dental health has improved since starting this practice.  Here is an excellent article from a dentist that explain the benefits of this in more detail.    Granted, it's not very fun and a lot of people find it fairly uncomfortable, but as an added bonus, you can't talk while oil pulling, which means that for at least 20 minutes a day, no one can ask you dumb questions you've already answered 50 million times.  Bonus.

Seed Cycling

Seed cycling helps balance your hormones. It involves consuming different seeds at different times of the menstrual cycle.  During the first half (pre-ovulation) you eat 1 tablespoon of flax seeds and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds each day.  During the second half (post-ovulation) you eat 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds each day.  You can read more about seed cycling here. 

I mix my seeds into my full-fat, plain Greek yogurt, mixed with honey and it is very, very yummy.

This is something I have just started doing very recently, so I really only have one cycle to compare it to. However, I do believe that I have definitely seen a decrease in PMS symptoms.  I used to get absolutely horrible PMS (ask Ben or my parents if you don't believe me). It's been much better in recent years due to other health improvements, but I think the seed cycling is definitely helping as well.  It also appears to have lengthened my luteal phase was a bit shorter than normal thanks to a certain toddler who nurses like a newborn.  I wrote a bit about my experience with NFP, cycle length and breastfeeding toddlers here. 

And, even if doesn't make a difference, all those seeds are healthy and it's a good idea to eat them anyway. 


This isn't so much an alternative health practice as a dietary thing.  Why do I eat gluten-free when I don't have celiac (that I know about)?  Well to put it quite simply, gluten makes me depressed and anxious.  Not in a I'm so depressed I can't function, or I'm so anxious I can't leave my house way, but just in the sense that there is a general fog over my mood and I never experience feelings of peace or contentment.  There is always some sort of stress in life.  Before I removed gluten from my diet, I would feel as though I always had a cloud over my mood, whatever that particular stress happened to be, I would focus on it (in the back of my mind) and never feel completely happy or content.  I could function just fine, but there was this ever present niggling cloud of anxiety and worry.  Eliminating gluten from my diet has eliminated (or at least greatly lessened) that cloud of worry and allows me to feel more general peace and contentment. 

Vitamin D Supplements

I take anywhere from 0-5000 IU per day, depending on the season and how much sun/outdoor time we've been getting and if we are fighting off a cold. I don't take any if it's summer and we've been outside in the sun for much of the day.  I take the full amount in the winter when anyone in the family has a cold.  I've definitely noticed a significant decrease in the number and severity of colds and other winter illness I've dealt with since starting Vitamin D supplementation.  I used to think that I could get enough Vitamin D from the sun, but if I'm honest with myself, I don't spend that much time in full-on sun with most of my body exposed.  Hanging out at the beach in a bikini is just not my thing. We prefer to go to the beach later in the day, when the sun is not so strong. Plus, I don't wear bikinis.   And, when it's really hot I don't enjoy sitting in the sun...I much prefer to hang out in the shade, so I'm pretty sure I'm just not in the sun enough to make enough Vitamin D, especially as I have a naturally darker complexion, which means I need more sun exposure as compared to someone with fairer skin.  You can read more about Vitamin D here. 


Fucoidan is a brown seaweed supplement.  Seaweed is incredibly healthy for you and fucoidan is an incredibly healthy species.  It naturally contains iodine and helps boost thyroid function and metabolism.  I've been taking this supplement for quite some time and I do believe that it definitely helped me lose the baby weight after Elsa was born without really dieting. much faster than after my other kids were born.  I was back into my pre-pregnancy jeans by about 8 weeks, which is much earlier (like 4 months earlier) than it happened with my previous pregnancies.  Of course, I'm sure it's better to eat actual seaweed, but as regular dietary food, seaweed is just not affordable nor attainable here in the good ole' U.S. of A.  At least not that I've seen.  Of course with any supplement, you have to be careful to find a good, quality brand.

So...those are some of the things I do.  Do you do any alternative health practices?  I'd love to hear about it!!

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  1. I had to come over from Hallie's because I'm a SUCKER for alternative health practices!! Oil pulled just this morning in fact! I love the wordless parenting element of it too!

    I've never even HEARD of seed cycling! But thanks to divine design and babies I've only had about six real cycles since...2010? How would it affect non-ovulatory times?

    Have you ever done anything involving apple cider vinegar? My alternative practitioner MIL swears by her morning liter of diluted ACV...I think she washes it down with some calcium bentonite-ade for good measure :)

    I'm also a believer in a good ole saltwater gargle whenever I have a scratchy throat in the mornings.

    1. Hi Kate,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I'm not sure how seed cycling would work with non-ovulatory times but honestly I think it would be helpful to just eat all those seeds on a regular basis anyway. Can't hurt, I mean they're just healthy seeds, right?

      I do use apple cider vinegar if we are fighting a cold or sinus infection or somthing like that. I don't take it on a regular basis, but I find it super helpful for sinus issues/colds. Wow..a whole liter of diluted ACV That's impressive..I don't think I could do that!!

      I had forgotten about salt water gargling..that's right...that is great.

  2. Who asks you dumb questions?

  3. What kind of D do you take?

    1. Just Vitamin D3....not any particular brand, just whatever I can find.

  4. Hi, I'm visiting from Conversion Diary and just enjoyed reading through some of your posts. Interesting health tips! I am contemplating going gluten-free because of some health issues, but as someone who has never done anything special in their diet, this idea seems so difficult to me that I'm not sure I could really do it. Would I have to bake my own bread and make difficult recipes? Any tips on how to get gluten-free while maintaining sanity in a busy family?

    1. Hi Lea, You don't have your own bread. If it's just you, I would buy Udi's gluten-free bread and keep it in your freezer Then just take out slices as you want/need them.

      However, to get started, I wouldn't worry about replacing guten-containing items iwth non-gluten containing items. I would just make a list of all the foods and meals you eat that are naturally gluten-free (ie. fruit, vegetables, yogurt, eggs, cheese, meats, chicken, rice, potatoes, corn, tacos, ). Even junk food like potato chips, popcorn and ice cream. Then try to come up with a weeklly meal plan (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) using only foods you already eat that are naturally gluten-free. Then you can try making substitutions for easy things (like make gluten-free pasta for yourself, instead of wheat pasta). You really don't need to make your own bread or make difficult recipes. You can probably keep a lot of your same recipes with maybe slight modification (ie. you can't use traditional soy sauce, but you can buy special gluten-free soy sauce). Or use gluten-free pasta instead of regular pasta in a pasta dish.

      You don't have to learn how to make your own cookies and cakes and breads and whatnot if you don't want to. You can, and it's fun to do so, but I wouldn't worry about doing that right away. I would stick with what you already eat and then go from there.

      Hope this helps.


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