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Every day toxins in the home (cleaning products, cosmetics and food) nearly destroyed my health (hormonal, emotional, physical, reproductive health and more) and caused my family a lot of pain and stress.
This is the back story, and scroll down to the end for the latest UPDATE!
had quite a few comments and emails in regards to my post about toxins in the home and the impact they can have our health. I’m SO glad the discussion and information was helpful because it is a topic that my own family is deeply concerned about.
I actually didn’t originally intend to share some of the stories I’m about to share, but after talking to some of you I just feel led once again that things I have experienced or gone through might be a lightbulb moment, could maybe even change someone’s life or open someone’s eyes (and in more ways than just the wake up call to avoid slipping on ice!). So, here goes. It’s kind of a long story.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Don’t take anything I say as scientific or medical advice. I can’t and won’t even try to diagnose your ailments and never mean to imply that what worked for me can cure anyone of anything. This is just my story. If it helps even one person, it’s worth sharing.
Let me preface my next stories by also saying I have great respect for the doctors and their wisdom that has literally helped save my life, both of my daughters lives, my husband’s life, my mom’s life and in general have helped others in our family in countless ways over the years.
But the lack of understanding on my part and from some in the medical community and beyond for what would truly make me or our family healthy at various times in our life has at times been confusing, frustrating and even utterly heartbreaking.
Even when I know better, I do not make perfectly healthy or even wise decisions all the time. :) But I’m learning. I believe you can’t live well by hanging onto regrets, so even if you think you could have done something differently in the past, we just need to offer ourselves and others grace and move forward to do the best we can with what we know in the present.
I have far too many stories to tell and this is far too big of a topic for us to discuss in a blog post (and not the place to get into too many details), but I’ll share a couple snippets from my history so you can better understand what has led to my interest in wellness and why I believe creating a healthy home matters so much.
Even more importantly, if any of these stories help you to consider your own situation or perhaps motivates you to research something further now or even down the road, it will have been worth it for me to share.
While I clearly love decorating and making a house a cozier place to be, there is nothing more important than our health and creating a healthy home for our families. Nothing.
In the year following the birth of my first daughter, I suffered an unexpected health crash soon after I started on a popular but unhealthy packaged food diet plan (I didn’t realize there could possibly be a connection to my health at the time). I was a young and healthy new mom, and then suddenly I wasn’t healthy at all. It started with weird mystery ailments regular doctors couldn’t diagnose. I had all sorts of tests and was given all sorts of prescriptions that didn’t help.
Fortunately, I didn’t stop searching for answers. I found a naturopathic doctor who didn’t just treat or dismiss my symptoms. He helped me to understand potential cause (so many toxins in food and in home products like cosmetics and household cleaners) and reasons for my random symptoms (and found toxins and imbalances in my body through bloodwork and hair!) as well the lifelong results (my thyroid was failing among other systems that needed support through detoxing the toxins and increased nutrition).
My family has a history of auto-immune diseases. I am very grateful that this doctor was one of the first to open my eyes to the role our lifestyle and environment may play in how we feel.
I’ve since read so many eye-opening studies and learned new information from other doctors! I am very mindful of what it all might mean for my own health. I’m always learning, but sometimes slow to act.
The naturopathic doctor gave me some little drops to put under my tongue and the nutritional support and advice I needed to start to get well and to compensate for my failing thyroid. Some of the things he gave me were literally an overnight fix for my crazy brain fog symptoms and some things would take time to help my body to get back to a state of health.
I eventually stopped going to the naturopathic clinic because my health insurance didn’t cover visits and I thought we couldn’t afford health care out of pocket. I felt so much better after his treatments that I didn’t even think I needed to continue.
Unfortunately, when I stopped going to the clinic I also stopped the things the doctor had prescribed for my health and thyroid. I do regret that because stopping those treatments cost me far more than the price of an office visit.
My hypothyroidism hadn’t yet shown up through any test in any medical lab, so there was actually no other doctor who would treat me for it. While I do wish I had continued to be treated for my thyroid, I am so glad that I took with me a much greater awareness that our bodies simply don’t function well with synthetic chemicals and other toxins that are in our home.
I am glad I was enlightened to the fact that there were substances in our food, environment and home (cleaning and personal care products) that could do more harm than good. Those lessons have stuck with me and I’ve passed them onto my children as they’ve grown up, too.
I was so impacted that I started telling everyone I knew about the risks of chemicals in the home, of drinking diet sodas, of eating diet foods and using any products that had words you couldn’t pronounce.
People often looked at me funny, but kept right on drinking the chemicals and spraying them around their home. At least I could sleep at night knowing I tried to help! I totally understand why it’s hard to change. I’m still learning and still making changes all the time.
Over time, my own failing thyroid started to cause more than just weird symptoms, hair loss, weight issues, depression, anxiety or fatigue. The thyroid regulates everything in your body so when it’s not functioning properly, nothing is. Symptoms you don’t even think are related can be connected to your thyroid failure. And studies on thyroid issues show they be traced to things in your environment that disrupt your system from functioning as it should.
Again, I’m not a doctor and none of this is medical advice for anyone else. This is just my story.
Heartbreakingly, years later, the year before we had our now 16 year old son, we experienced a miscarriage at 13 weeks, just after seeing a heartbeat on ultrasound and telling our families the happy news of a new baby just week before. The loss was unexpected and devastating to us and the hardest thing we’ve ever been through.
Doctors were puzzled as we had two healthy girls and no prior history of any issues. My doctor asked me a lot of questions. When I mentioned the potential thyroid issues that had never even shown up on blood work, he said let’s test again. Lo and behold, my thyroid finally was bad enough that it was out of range in a lab.
I was able to be officially treated for hypothyroidism by an endocrinologist. She taught me even more about my thyroid and what to watch for in future blood tests and symptoms. We went on to have another healthy baby, our son Luke. I was grateful to finally have a lab diagnosis and eventually another healthy baby, but so very sad at the journey and loss to get there.
After that hard experience, I was even more cautious about what we brought into our environment and to watch for symptoms that might indicate something was amiss. I also learned I had to be my own health advocate and if something didn’t seem right, I needed to speak up or find someone who would understand.
The need to be aware was put to the test again when our son was a little over a year old. He started exhibiting some sudden emotional and physical symptoms that really alarmed me. He went from a happy baby to a sad temper tantrum baby and had some noticeable digestive upsets. It broke my heart to see him suffering.
Even though we thought we were feeding him well, I spoke to his wonderful doctor about a potential connection to food just in case. I was met with the same puzzled look I had seen in the eyes of past doctors when I mentioned weird symptoms.
I knew I was going to have to be my son’s wellness advocate and began my detective work. I started very diligently reading books, studying labels and eliminating anything from his diet that seemed to stir up symptoms. Even if it was something I thought was “natural” like cow’s milk or a healthy whole grain bread! As I altered his diet, I saw night and day results.
We stopped all cow’s milk and any form of it (like casein and whey, which can be found in a list of ingredients even in foods labeled as healthy such as whole wheat bread). When he started preschool, I banned him from receiving any sugary fruit snacks, cheddar fish crackers or anything that contained milk, soy, preservatives or artificial coloring. It wasn’t easy!
He was a different kid when those things were kept from his diet. He was happy and his body functioned properly. We always tried to serve what we considered healthy food to our family, but never had it been more obvious to me that even things that seemed “natural” like milk could create so many negative emotional and physical symptoms. I vowed that I would never forget those symptoms and what caused them. I still am just as diligent with reading labels and reminding him to watch his diet as a teenager (it’s not easy, but worth it).
Interestingly, a few years later on the way home from a blogging event I happened to sit in the back of a plane next to a medical professional who was on his way home from another country. I normally sit on a plane with headphones in hopes that no one will talk to me (introvert) but this guy just started talking. :)
He was so passionate about what he wanted to tell me that I took the headphones off and started really listening. He told me that he had been studying the effect of chemicals in food sources and the environment and the role they play in auto-immune diseases.
I shared my own stories and he literally made me promise to continue to watch what I fed my family (to be mindful where our food came from, that good farmers and safe farming practices matter) and to be aware of the devastating impact from common and hidden hidden toxic chemicals in products in the home and food would eventually have on health.
He wasn’t an alarmist, I could tell he was just sincerely wanting to help even just one person with the knowledge he had discovered. That one person sitting next to him that day was me. I’m so glad he was willing to warn me about what he had seen because it really resonated with my experience, solidified my concerns and opened my mind to what was to come if we weren’t more diligent. I think of him every time a new health study supports just what he told me would eventually happen so many years later.
Even though (gratefully) overall I’ve been pretty healthy most of my life, many experiences over the years continued to reinforce the importance of working towards a more chemical-free environment.
In addition to what I’ve already shared, I had two seasons as a young mom where I experienced debilitating panic attacks, a life-threatening emergency surgery soon after we moved to Washington followed by a second thyroid-related crash just a few years ago due to a synthetic drug (which sent me right back to my naturopathic doctor to help solve, no more messing around!), and even health issues in family members that have helped to shaped my perspective on even more things we can do to have a healthier home.
I’m still learning and finding out new things to watch out for in our home. I am still reading about and discovering connections between past symptoms, health and the environment.
Health isn’t a guarantee in this life. There are so many factors outside of our control and circumstances that go into what makes us and our environment and home healthy or unhealthy. We can’t live in regret for past choices or fear of the future. We certainly can’t control everything and don’t need to be paranoid.
But I believe that even though we can’t necessarily control everything about our health or environment, we can research more and take small but important steps TODAY to better support the health of our home and the people in it.
Small improvements and changes in our home really DO make a difference. As I look back on my journey, I can see so many pivotal decisions that have added up to greater health.
In 2015 I decided it was critical to my health that I make some significant changes in our home. The year before I had started into another downward spiral, beginning with the flu that had me down for almost a month.
By January of the following year, 2015, my thyroid TSH levels were completely out of control, reaching an extremely abnormal 70!!! I don’t know how I was even functioning. Clearly, I wasn’t.
When I saw my blood work, I knew I needed to get serious. I had to change how I treated my thyroid (I started by ditching synthetic ingredients and adopting natural ones).
As I looked for potential issues, I was appalled to discover things I thought were good for cleaning or beautifying or scenting our home (candles, cleaners, shampoos, cosmetics, etc) could be seriously impacting my health. Ugh!!!!
Know better, do better. But don’t wait around until you have a health crisis, or for “the right time” to change, or for a new study to prove that toxic products are bad for you. They are. No doubt.
I’m sooo so grateful I am finally seeing how much better I can feel without all the junk in my house! The changes I’ve made (particularly in the past four years) have yielded results that are not just in my head (although my foggy brain is COMPLETELY non-existent, yay!). Not only have they positively impacted how I feel every day but in my improved lab work.
Case in point, this little chart is my actual TSH (thyroid) blood level starting in January 2015 to July 2016.
January 2015 was the month I realized I had to get more serious about making changes. It was in that season that I started using essential oils and natural products to support my thyroid and overall wellness.
While I had essential oils in our home prior to January 2015, I didn’t know much about them and only used oils sporadically. I got my first essential oil diffusers for my home at Christmas in 2014 and started the new year by diving in all the way with a more holistic lifestyle, oils and all. I’ve never looked back!
Even though I thought I already was using more “natural products” I began researching the standards of the brands I brought into our home and each of the ingredients in the products.
I was not only shocked by what was in all of those bottles but it was clear that I had no idea about the integrity or quality standards of the brands I was trusting for our families health.
That greater awareness changed everything, right then and there.
After discovering the incredible quality standards and integrity of Young Living, I began not only actually using oils on a regular basis, but ordering all of my household and personal care products from Young Living, too. I’ve never looked back.
The results of the simple changes and a commitment to ditching toxins and making wellness a lifestyle are as dramatic to how I feel as this chart shows.
I’ve got a ways to go, but I have no regrets in the changes I’ve made.
When I was finally was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s and the Epstein Barr virus, most of my symptoms were already gone! My brain was clear, I had boundless energy, I was not overly anxious.
I’m SO glad all those years ago I was introduced to the benefits of oils, the need to be eliminating toxins, eating better and being more mindful of what we bring into our home.
Increasingly better choices, changes and improvements have now spanned the past 30 years of my life! Yet I can see how every little step, each small improvement (or wake up call!), has literally turned my health around. Imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t started this journey! I’m so grateful.
Every positive step forward matters.
I’d love to help you get started on a path to non-toxic living. I can’t think of a better starting point than to grab the same essential oil kit I have (and then begin USING it every day) here.
Now I diffuse oils every single day to make my home smell amazing naturally (I’m always trying out different fun blends, I ditched most of my candles and don’t miss them one bit!). But it’s not just about scent, I also use oils daily to support my family’s wellness (for better sleep, supported immune systems, balanced emotions and happier hormones, natural skincare, cleaning, and so much more). My home would really not be the same without them.
Since I actually had oils in my home before I even knew how beneficial they would be, I want to help you to learn how to get started immediately!
When you get the kit with my referral link, I send you a pretty welcome packet and a helpful oils book in the mail, as well as an invite to my private community called the Dwell Well Collective.
My girls and I have so much fun hanging out with women in this group who are all excited about wellness, making natural changes, and using essential oils to enhance our lives.
We host free weekly classes, share our tips and favorite natural recipes, and just get to know each other! It’s become a really sweet community and we’d so love to have you a part of it.
If you have any questions I’m happy to chat, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
EDITED TO ADD: WOW! THANK YOU so much for your kind emails and messages on social media in responses to this post. I’m touched beyond words to have found such kindred spirits and am honored to pray for your situations!
Simple Changes for a Cleaner Home (products I use)
Thanks for reading my story and sharing it with anyone who might benefit.
Here’s to a happier, healthier home!