Guest Post by Angie Alt: Giving Up the Poisons

January 28, 2013 in Categories: by

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Angie Alt is wife, mother, world traveler & blogger. She’s also a warrior in the autoimmunity war. Angie confronts three autoimmune disorders each day, including Celiac Disease, with powerful management techniques like AIPaleo & the Paleolithic lifestyle. She blogs regularly about the emotional side of tackling autoimmunity, adopting Paleo, and how it impacts her, her family, & their way of life. You can read more by Angela Alt at her blog and connect with her on Facebook.

Nine months ago I decided to start my own personal health revolution.  I was very, very sick and tired of being very, very sick and tired.  I had tried everything, been to every kind of doctor.  Through an intensely difficult process (that often literally involved me begging physicians to help me) I had finally been accurately diagnosed, but there did not seem to be any hope for healing.  In my last ditch effort, I adopted the Autoimmune Protocol and immediately felt the sweet relief of healing beginning.

 AIP is not easy.  It is a very restrictive version of Paleo and figuring out how to prepare tasty meals with so much limitation makes it a tough transition for many.  Surprisingly, it was not a very difficult shift for me.  I attribute this to my desperation.  I was absolutely committed to regaining my health . . . basically, I felt the other choice was probably a slow, painful decline to an early end.

 I happily rid my self and my kitchen of the poisons.  As the months have flown by and my energy and strength have gradually returned, I’ve begun to think more carefully about the other places that toxins lurk.  I’ve put an incredible amount of effort into changing my diet for optimal health . . . I don’t want anything to threaten that hard-won ground.  The more I learned about it, the more I realized that most of the poison left in my life is coming from so-called “beauty” products.  Managing multiple autoimmune diseases is a delicate task; even the chemicals in my beauty routine could be detrimental.

 Sooo, a few months ago I began the process of switching to a natural beauty plan.  I started with my body soap, then I changed my body lotion and then how I approach shaving. Next I changed how I handle facial care and recently I started experimenting with my hair care.  Guess what?  I am finding it much, much harder than switching my diet.  Why is that?

 I think it is fear.  Changing the way I ate was a huge adjustment and it did affect my social life (I almost never eat out and I bring all my own food to social gatherings), but I wasn’t really worried about what people would think of me.  BUT what if people think I look bad?  Changing my beauty routine might mean that I don’t look as good (at least during the switch, while I’m trying to work out the kinks).  How can I face that possibility?  We have a powerful, multi-billion dollar beauty industry that tells us everyday that we need to achieve unrealistic standards, all of course, with the help of their products.

 It has been humbling for me to realize over the course of this journey how focused I’ve always been on some of the superficial aspects of life.  I first noticed this about myself when I began taking stock of the impact that autoimmunity had made on my outward appearance (especially in the time since 2009 when I was most intensely ill).  I found myself actually grieving the effects on my skin, my shape, and even my hair.  I decided to tackle that part of me, the one so focused on outward appearance, by being open about it on my own blog.

 I still have a long way to go in both tweaking my new natural approach to self-care and silencing the insecurity demons.  As I write this, I’m adjusting to the No ‘Poo Method and the oil slick I call my hair is calling out, “You look terrible.  Give in to the beauty industry ads.  Go back to shampoo.”  (Absurdly, in my mind, my oily hair is a nemesis being paid by the beauty industry to taunt me.  LOL!)  I’m sticking to it though.  The more my health is restored, the more I prove to myself that I am not beholden to the messages of Big Food, Big Medicine, and Big Beauty, the more confidence I gain.  And really, what is more attractive than a person glowing with health and confidence?  It is totally worth giving up all the poisons.

 (As a little motivator for ladies considering the switch themselves . . . my husband has loved my transition to a natural beauty routine.  He thinks my hair is softer & nicer to the touch and is glad to be rid of the harsh smells of alcohol-based products.  It sure helps to have such an adoring fan.)


Doing the AI protocol revealed a coconut intolerance for my husband. Come to find out, almost ALL (“natural-organic”) soaps, lotions, shampoos and even toothpaste have coconut derived chemicals. Thanks for this post. Using the AI protocol has helped both my husband and I to be healthier. Now, the other cleansing: personal hygiene.

I love this article Angie. I am on a similar journey to rid my personal care items of poisons. I did the no-poo method for a good six months before I gave up because it was causing my dandruff to flare up really bad. Now I mix up a teeny bit of coconut oil (less than 1/8 teaspoon), a squirt of castille soap (I use peppermint) and a squirt of warm water in a little bottle and use that to wash my hair. The coconut oil makes it lather like crazy and it is the first time I have been able to get my scalp really clean since using shampoo. You have to be careful and not use too much coconut oil or your hair will get greasy though! I then rinse with ACV. 🙂

Your recipe for shampoo sounds great. I have meeting doing no’poo for about 6 months also but like you, my hair tends to get oily after a few days along with a small bout of dandruff near my bangs. I’m going to try your method.

for hair care at least, i’ve been using desert essence organics fragrance free shampoo and conditioner which works REALLY well and in reading the ingredients i really can’t find anything harmful in it at all. it is also clearly labeled as gluten free. it may be more natural to use the no-poo method, but this shampoo isn’t expensive and works well and doesn’t seem to bother me at all. i am very sensitive to chemicals. i also love using gabriel cosmetics and jane iredale. all of their ingredients are listed and are very natural. they are all gluten free except for a couple of items in the jane iredale line, which are clearly listed. i use tropical traditions deodorant (or no deodorant!!), lotion, hand soap, dish detergent, laundry detergent, all purpose cleansers, or make my own from recipes on pinterest (using vinegar/baking soda/borax and the like). for skincare i use the jane iredale magic mitt to cleanse and remove makeup (microfiber and water only) or oil cleansing, although i don’t love oil cleansing as much as most seem to. i also love the desert essence organic toothpaste (also gluten free), although i know some of the really hardcore people make their own too. hope these recommendations help people find a balance between feeling pretty and being safe <3

I switched to no’poo about six months ago. I like it the day I wash it with baking soda, and rinse with ACV, lavender and tea tree oil, and usually the day after I wash it. I also use the oil cleansing method for my face but have gotten mixed results. We have also changed our toothpaste, lotion and deodorant. I switched our laundry soap, and household cleaners but I still need to find an alternative for dryer sheets. I think we underestimate how many toxins we use everyday without knowing the consequences, especially on our skin.

Yay! It’s time for all of us to stop poisoning ourselves in the name of beauty. There’s nothing wrong with any of us that we need things covered or smoothed or “enhanced.” Angie, if you haven’t already, I’d suggest pre-boiling the water you use for no-poo; you might have hard water that’s contributing to the oiliness. Or just use a LOT of your baking soda mix for a while and gradually back off. Also, vinegar as a rinse does wonders for the texture, even while your hair is still adjusting. Best of luck!

I used to wash my hair every day as i had oily roots and i they made me uncomfortable (not to mention how they looked!) then I changed to kerastase -I know that it isn’t chemical free but they have a great shampoo that settles the oil production in the scalp but also moisturizers the ends. I now was my hair once a week. As I said, it’s not chemical free but as I use it once a week it’s a lot less chemicals. On day 3 I do a root touch up with corn flour, or if I am out I use a dry shampoo.

I have evicted white skin (When I was at school, on sports days we wore white socks, my father used to look at my legs as if he was inspecting them. I asked what he was doing (silly me), he told me he was trying to work out where the socks finished and my legs started) I have dark brown hair, the hair on my legs was extremely dark, and thanks to PCOS it was also thick and it grew fast, so fast that I had to shave every day – if I shaved in the morning I would shave again at night if I had to go out. So I have lasered my entire body (except eyebrows and cranium). Best decision I have ever made -I have a few treatments to go but I can go a week or two without shaving and not its just a patch here or there. I have always hated body hair (possibly because of the PCOS).

I used a fragrance free, soap free cleanser. If there if a better option please tell me. Once a week I also make my own exfoliant of oil and salt. It’s amazing.

I have used every product out there ( or it feels that way!) about 16 months ago I swapped to Jurlique. It’s a natural based product. While it still has chemicals it is more natural than anything I have ever used. My skin looks better than it ever has, the redness has gone, the pores refined and the oiliness I had (??PCOS) has settled right down.

Where I am struggling -it’s the food.

Denise – may I ask how you narrowed down a coconut intolerance? The reason I ask is I use alot of coconut oil and coconut in my smoothies. But I don’t know if it is the coconut that I am reacting to. How can you single out one item? Thank you for any help with this.

@ Chris: Started the strict Autoimmune Protocol cleanse 12.24.12. DH has scalp psoriasis. Wanting a milk substitute (the organic, unsweetened coconut milk), something to add extra fiber and texture to cooking (organic, unsweetened flakes) and something to replace a thickening agent (besides say, the other “flours” out there). Scalp issues were not going away, in fact, getting worse. Around the mouth and on the lips were getting eczema-ish and tongue feeling “itchy”. What was it that we added to our diet that was not there in such great quantity? All organic fresh vegetables, organic grass-fed beef/chicken/turkey and grapefruit. All these we eat anyways-always have. Eliminated nuts, grains, peanuts, legumes, dairy, eggs,sugar with AI protocol. I don’t know what else it could be. Dropped the coconut stuff from his diet and symptoms are slowly improving. Maybe the overload of coconut and 1 avocado a day instead of 1/2-from the same family of “drupes”.

It’s funny how I’m the exact opposite. I’m finding going full Paleo to be difficult (giving up gluten is easy – it’s the rice/beans/dairy that’s hard!) but have basically, and inadvertently almost completely converted to an all natural beauty regimene. No-poo for my hair, Dr. Bronner’s for my body, and mineral/crystal deodarant. Just bought Dr. Bronner’s peppermint flavor to try as a toothpaste, and while I haven’t given up my lotions, I do use argan oil on my face and nails, and have also done a combo of olive oil and caster oil for my face as well (you wash it off, unlike the argan oil.) Honestly, people can’t tell. As long as you don’t stink and your hair looks decent, it’s fine (I don’t wear makeup daily.) Getting over the initial no-poo transistion is a pain, but worth it. I wash my hair now twice a week with a baking soda/vinegar combo, and I love that it’s a time saver.

But with my food allergies to chicken and beef (IgE allergies with real reactions), going full Paleo is a nightmare. Hopefully being off gluten and being on supplments will help with my issues and hopefully I will be able to re-introduce chicken and beef back into my diet soon (even though I have had an IgE reaction to beef for years I didn’t have any physical reactions until recently.)

I have no problems that prevent me from using commercial shampoos, but dislike the long list of chemicals … and for what? To make more suds? I tried no ‘poo for six months. It was not bad, but I disliked the idea that pollen and pollution possibly picked up during the day remained in my hair. I’ve used castile soap since the early 1970’s for washing and started showering and rubbing the bar into my hair. Wonderful, wonderful results. Makes my grey hair shiny, soft, and I go to bed feeling like I’ve washed the modern world out of my hair.

Has anyone tried making soap in their crockpot? It’s called hot process soap. Once I learned how to do it I haven’t gone back to commercial poison soaps. I make my own shampoo bars as well as my own body bars. I started with 100% lard soaps and then tweaked and worked my way up to my perfect recipe of 80% lard and 20% palm kernel oil. VERY moisturizing but still sudsy and cleans well. I encourage anyone with chemical sensitivities to try making their own soap.

Working on my laundry detergents now…. I LOVE fabric softener. It’s so loaded with poisons! I’ve done soap nuts, wool balls and made my own detergents. I know it is horrific but I still miss the fresh smell of fabric softener!

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