No Shampoo & Sauerkraut; An Update

Not long ago, a reader asked us for an update on my no shampoo experience and how our sauerkraut was doing. So, here it is.

I quit using shampoo in March, 2014. I posted updates on my progress at three months and six months. I have to tell you, after looking back at these articles, I think my hair looks better now than ever. 

Before I started, March 20, 2014

Comparing the first picture, March 20, 2014, and today, I can see where my hair is healthier and has a more natural shine. I have continued to use only baking soda and water for my ‘shampoo’, along with apple cider vinegar and water for my ‘conditioner’. I still have the occasional itch on my scalp from psoriasis, but nothing compared to what it was when I used commercial products. I have not used any of the prescription medication I needed for decades to control the itch on my scalp. I couldn’t be happier.
 

April 22, 2014


June 12, 2014


September 24, 2014

June 5, 2015

This was one of the many steps Frank and I have taken to decrease our chemical exposure and intake, in our effort to improve our overall health. Fermenting our own sauerkraut has been one of the most recent experiments I have conducted on Frank. At first we were both hesitant, but now we’re not at all. We happily eat our kraut at least six days a week. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit into the meal, and a few times, I just plain forgot to serve it.

The current batch we’re eating now was a combination of        1 1/2 heads of cabbage and about 15 large carrots. This is okay, but the vegetables are softer and don’t taste quite as good as the plain cabbage. It was something I wanted to try, but probably won’t do this combination again.

I removed all of the carrot/cabbage kraut from the crock two days ago and stored it in the refrigerator. We got about four quarts this time. I don’t pack it down solid, so it’s not a full four quarts, but it is enough to last us quite a while. We eat about a 1/4 to a 1/3 of a cup per serving. 

 

Since the crock and fermentation process seem to be going well, this time I put    3 1/2 heads of cabbage in the crock, filling it pretty full. I continue to use some of the juice or liquid from the previous batch to inoculate, or speed up the fermenting process. I also drink some of it on occasion when we get to the bottom of a jar. It is pretty stout stuff, but it’s good. We prefer the cabbage shredded, which I do with our KitchenAid. I have started using sea salt instead of regular table salt for the minerals it contains. I use it in all of my cooking as well as the kraut. 

I add a little vinegar in the moat to keep it from getting slimy.

This summer I hope to try fermenting some of our garden produce, like cucumbers, okra, turnips, peppers and beets. It would be nice to discover another vegetable, or combination of vegetables we enjoy as much as we do the cabbage.

I appreciate Deb’s request for an update on these two topics. There isn’t any reason for me to ever use commercial products on my hair again. What I am doing now is effective, keeps my hair and scalp healthier, my hair looks better and another added benefit is that it costs pennies on the dollar compared to commercial products. The sauerkraut experience has shown us another way to improve our health by making something for ourselves instead of depending on someone else to do it for us. It takes time, planning and effort on our part, but the health benefits of consuming fermented foods well outweigh the effort expended. It’s a great life. One full of learning, work and progress. I am grateful.

Until next time – Fern
 

Our Journey to Better Health

Hi Ladies and Gentlemen. Frank and I have been trying to put together some thoughts lately. It’s an odd topic, it goes back 20 to 30 years, and we’re going to try to take you from there to where we are today. I’m going to share with you some of the changes we’ve made in our lives recently, and a little history about where these changes are coming from. We all have different learning levels, some are right in our face everyday, sometimes we ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I see this years and years ago?” We’re all human, or I believe we are all human anyway, we all make mistakes, and I believe what separates a lot of us is how we acknowledge and handle our mistakes. Here goes.

Back in the late 80’s or early 90’s, Frank had a persistent pain in his shoulder blade. He went to the doctor, and was given a prescription of Relafen for the pain, which he ended up taking for years. He would go back to the doctor with pain in his shoulder, and after awhile, he was

also getting an upset stomach. Finally, at one doctor visit, he asked if the upset stomach, pain in his shoulder, and the Relafen were somehow related. The doctor said yes. It turns out that the Relafen, though it worked on the pain, was causing the stomach upset, which can be manifested as a referred pain to the shoulder blade. So we asked, “Why didn’t you tell us this years ago?” Frank had been taking a medication for a pain that had probably always come from his stomach, that made the problem worse in a vicious, Catch 22 cycle. Frank stopped taking the medication, took care of his stomach and miraculously the shoulder pain was cured. 

This was the beginning of our realization that most doctors are only able to see, or diagnose, or treat, what they have been taught to see, or diagnose, or treat. Very few of them are able to gather data, i.e. symptoms; synthesize that data; evaluate all aspects of treatment, i.e. something besides “Here. Take this pill.”; and come up with an effective treatment plan that doesn’t just mask the symptoms, but treats the underlying cause of the problem. 

Fast forward a few years, and now we live in Alaska. Frank starts having problems with his armpits being dry and chaffed. He goes to the doctor. They gave him this cream and that cream, none of them worked. They 

gave him a shot, they gave him some pills. None of them worked. He looked at the chemical composition of some different deodorants, and he changed what he was using. The problem still persisted. Alaska is notorious for low humidity, sinus problems are prevalent. Somebody mentioned to him it may be dry skin, try some lotion. Wa-la! Put lotion on, wait a little while, put on deodorant, and the medical mystery was solved. Dry skin. Makes you wonder why the doctors didn’t tell him that since they see the effects of dryness everyday. A couple of squirts of Vaseline Intensive Care, problem solved.

Fast forward to about four or five years ago. After we moved to our homestead from Alaska, we began an earnest effort to eliminate much of the chemicalized food, chemicalized toiletries, chemicalized gardening techniques and feeding our animals chemicalized products. We haven’t been able to totally eliminate them, but here are some of the things we have done.

Frank went first in the no deodorant at all arena. I followed a few years later. Now, neither one of us apply anything at all to our armpits. Nothing. If we work real hard, there may be an odor of sorts temporarily, but we don’t go around stinking all the time. It took a few weeks for our armpits to ‘withdraw’ from the chemicals we were applying daily. They felt a little funny for a bit, but now, I don’t notice them at all.

Next we quit using toothpaste. This time I went first. I have had a problem with bad breath at times for years and years, especially if I was taking any medications. But, we’ll get back to medications in a minute. I really

thought I would have even more problems with my breath when I quit toothpaste, but you know what? My mouth felt cleaner that it ever had. I was totally amazed. It was then I realized all that taste good, fluoridated, poison stuff I brushed my teeth with every day was leaving a coating in my mouth that lead to bad breath. Amazing! Actually, my reaction was more like, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Not long afterwards, Frank stopped using toothpaste as well. Now we use plain baking soda. I’ve looked at many sites that make their own toothpaste with essential oils and other stuff, but I like plain, simple baking soda. It works great.

We’ve already written about our lip balm and lotion recently, so I don’t need to explain that again. I also stopped using any shampoo and conditioner about a year ago, along with commercial panty liners. All of these steps have helped to eliminate more and more commercially made products and chemicals that our bodies were absorbing every single day. 

Now back to some more medications. Over the last couple of decades, Frank and I started having some reflux problems, so we went to the doctor. I think this started sometime shortly after 2000 when we were in Alaska. They put us on Protonix and Nexium which we took for years. Years.

No one told us that these types of medications were initially produced for people to take no longer than six weeks at a time without causing side effects and problems. It was only a few years ago we found out, through our own research, what a huge impact proton pump inhibitors can have, not only on the production of acid and the whole digestive system, but on your entire body at the cellular level. It changes the chemical composition of your body and how it reacts to acid. That’s part of the reason it is so difficult to get off of this drug, or it was in our case. We just followed doctor’s recommendations and continued to “take this pill.” Once we found out just how much damage long term use of these pills could have on our bodies, we decided to wean them down and quit. The only problem is, that once your body has adjusted to having these drugs for a long period of time, it goes through a major increase of acid production trying to compensate for the lack of medication. Most people cannot tolerate the withdrawal symptoms of intense heartburn and stomach pain, so guess what? They go back on the medication thinking there is something wrong. We did. More than once. I even ended up with

ulcers in my esophagus accompanied by serious chest pains (they even did an entire heart work up in the hospital and found nothing), gastritis and h-pylori. Then I did some very serious research on Nexium and found out one of the complications of long term use is ulcers in the esophagus. I was angry. Very angry that I had been allowed, even encouraged to take this medication for years! When I was sick with the esophageal ulcers they had me double the medication. We have now successfully quit these medications and have no reflux, no stomach pain, and don’t need to take any over-the-counter antacids. I feel like we have finally been able to heal our bodies from the damage these medications did.

Some time when we were living in Alaska, one of the doctors recommended Frank take a blood pressure medication since his readings were just borderline high. He didn’t take anything for years, but started taking one off and on after we moved here. But his blood pressure was

never really high. So, we bought a little blood pressure machine. Well, a number of months back Frank’s blood pressure was what we thought was really high. We have a couple of nurses in the family, Frank called and we went to visit one of them. To her, his blood pressure was no big deal. She’s an active, participating, veteran nurse. We all have stressful days, and Frank had a major surgery recently, and before that was in a tremendous amount of pain. But the words of our in-law nurse, “That’s not bad.” So, Frank quit his blood pressure medication. Nothing happened, and his blood pressure went down. The next time we visited the doctor he wanted Frank to take a beta blocker along with his blood pressure medication, and we said no. He has since quit taking the blood pressure medication altogether.  His blood pressure is now fine.

I haven’t mentioned it, but Frank and I have our blood work done twice a year. Each time we have it done, our doctor wants to put us on medication to lower our cholesterol. Frank has a long term running joke. “If you want me to lower my cholesterol, just give me a pencil with an eraser.” He has found that, believe it or not, what you have to eat the day before affects everything that is tested in your blood work, especially the biggies, like cholesterol and sugar. But the medical folks will tell you that your diet the day before doesn’t make any difference. Hogwash! If he has a bowl of ice cream before he goes to bed the night before his blood test, the next day his sugar is elevated. We keep all of our old blood test records. Frank started experimenting to see if what he ate the night before affected the tests and it does. So, what you’re told and what is reality, don’t always fit together.

There seems to be a pattern. I have a headache, take this. What you’re taking for the headache upsets your stomach, so take this. What you’re taking for your stomach causes your blood pressure to rise, take this. And then take this. And then you don’t know why you’re taking anything. It’s a difficult thing to see and figure out.

We have all been taught to do what our doctor tells us to do and we want to believe that the medical profession has our best interest at heart. Speaking of heart. A number of years ago, back in Alaska, Frank had a stress test done on his heart. Everything was great, except for one spot they couldn’t see and it was a dark spot, or sometimes called an artifact. This lady doctor was going to schedule surgery, Frank told her no, and she was appalled that someone would question her. Follow me here. A couple of years ago, Frank had another stress test here in Oklahoma. His heart is just fine, except there is another dark spot, or artifact, in a different location, and the doctor wants to schedule surgery. Now isn’t this ironic? That there is a dark spot, or artifact, a place they cant’ see in two different parts of his heart on two separate tests. I don’t want to think that this is some kind of high level con game, but if you can’t see it, then I guess you’ve got to go in and look, don’t you? Makes you wonder. So, does the medical profession have your best interest at heart? Makes you wonder. By the way, Frank never had any surgery. The answer was still no.

Moving on. When Frank went back for his five month check up after having back surgery, we had a pleasant conversation with the surgeon. Earlier on, Frank had asked him if weight was a factor, related to his surgery, and the doctor’s response was, weight is always a factor. Now, Frank and I are both big people, and we’re also overweight big people, which boils down to we’re both fat. You know, corn fed. And we’ve both been told for years by

assorted doctors that we needed to lose weight. We’ve done the token diet thing a time or two, but something was different that day with the back surgeon. He introduced us to a program where you cut carbohydrates sharply. We talked about it in his office some and when we left that day at around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, we walked out to the truck, and sat there for a minute. We both agreed it is time, and that we can do this. That was December 2, 2014. I cannot tell you what is different. There was no strike of lightening or epiphany, but we both knew it, and we both felt it, and we both agreed that the time is now. So, like we do most things, we came home, got on the internet, looked up the books,

downloaded the ebook version, and the next day we started our diet. And I’m reluctant to call it a diet, we just changed the way we eat. If you eat food in any form or fashion, you’re on some kind of diet. We just changed the way we eat. This is the way we plan to eat from now on. It’s not a starvation diet, I eat more and bigger plates of food than we ever have. Frank the carnivore has learned to like the color green better. In 10 weeks now, it has made some dramatic effects upon our lives. You know that humble turnip we have talked about for months? That accidental, experimental animal feed project? It has been a major part of our diet. I can’t help but believe in my mind that this is all part of some master plan. But that’s kind of getting out there, I guess. But for those of you that feel and see that way, then you know what I’m talking about.

A long time ago, seven or eight years back, we came to the realization that things are changing profoundly in our world. This could be one of those times where we wonder why it took us so long to see it, or we can be thankful that we saw it a number of years ago. But the deal is, we did see it, and there are changes
happening. On the chemical issue, I’d rather

get off the chemicals on my schedule, than get off chemicals on somebody else’s schedule. Withdrawal is not always a pretty thing when you don’t have access to what you’re used to, whether it be illegal drugs or legal prescription drugs. And then there are the chemicals that we are just exposed to daily, whether we eat them, drink them, breathe them or absorb them through our skin, if we have to have them, then when the time comes that we don’t, things may not be pleasant at all. If you have things in your life that you’ve been wanting to change, I hope you find the inspiration and the motivation to do so. Even if it’s not a chemical, or a pharmaceutical, what about behavioral things that we have become addicted to? Picture television. The winds are changing, and the winds may change at your house soon. It might be time for you to give thought to change also. 

We’ve taken the time to share these personal notes, and some of them are very personal, in the hope that they will help someone in some small way. If you can find any motivation or inspiration in some of our trials, please use them. We hope these stories and views will give you something to think about.

Frank & Fern

No Shampoo Six Months Later…and Never Again

Well, it has now been six months since I quit using any hair care products, and I never plan to use any again. After this length of time and the wonderful results I have had, I can truly say I never intend to use any shampoo or conditioner again. Why would I? I now have less itching or psoriasis symptoms, and I have eliminated a source of daily chemical exposure for my body. Needless to say, I am very happy with the results.

To follow this experiment I have been conducting, here are the previous articles which outline the steps I have taken.

No More Shampoo – March, 31, 2014

No Shampoo, One Month Later – April 24, 2014

No Shampoo, Three Months Later – June 13, 2014

Here is a pictorial view of the past six months without shampoo.

Before I started, March 20th
One month later, April 22nd

 
Three months later, June 12th

Now, six month later, September 24th

I still have a little itching from my psoriasis, but continue to be medication free after six months of time. That in itself is worth the effort to do something a little different. Along the way I have told a few people that I have quit using shampoo and they have been surprised. No one has been able to tell the difference. There have been a few times that I thought the hair next to my scalp didn’t look as clean as I would like for it to. Then I only applied the vinegar solution to the ends of the hair for a few days and it took care of that. There are many times now that I only wash my hair every other day instead of everyday, like I did when I still used shampoo.


I had wondered from time to time what I would do with my hair in a collapse scenario. I doubt if I would wash it as often, and I had even thought I might have to cut it short. This is not an option I relish, since I have not cut my hair any shorter than it is now for over 40 years. The option of using baking soda and vinegar, is much more viable than depending on a stock of commercial hair care products, and one that can be incorporated into a survival scenario. That gives me one less thing to worry about. Now I just need to start making some bars of soap for the rest of our cleaning needs. It’s one of the things on my list of skills to learn. If you get the chance to learn something new, take it, and then share with the rest of us.

Until next time – Fern

No Shampoo, Three Months Later

I wanted to give you another update on my No Shampoo experience. I have made a few slight changes, and continue to be very happy with the results.

After about six weeks of using my baking soda and vinegar combinations, I realized my hair was getting pretty dry and so was my scalp. So, I went back and re-read some of the information I originally used to make this change.

Before

In this article, “However, baking soda can leave your hair very dry and give your scalp a scaly look, and so you may consider applying a moisturizer on your hair. Baking soda is good for people who have an oily scalp. People who have a dry scalp may need to consider using extra ingredients, and this is where cider vinegar comes in.” And then it goes on to say, “Apple cider vinegar is a natural moisturizer. It is ideal for dry hair and scalp. After long periods of using baking soda to clean hair, your hair is likely to become dry. After washing and rinsing with the baking soda solution, pour a mix of apple cider vinegar and water through your hair and then rinse with water again. This cleanses your hair and also leaves it moisturized. Baking soda and cider vinegar is good for people with a normal, dry or even combined scalp.”

One week later

So, with this in mind, I changed up my routine a little. I am using two teaspoons of baking soda with two cups of water for shampoo,  and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in two cups of water for conditioner. I have also changed how I use the vinegar conditioner. Instead of only putting a little on the ends of my hair, which was leaving it pretty dry, I put a liberal amount on all of my hair, from scalp to ends. It does make a difference. Now when I rinse my hair, it feels smooth and silky like it used to with the commercial products. I know that isn’t the end goal, but it does feel like it did back then. Originally, I only used the vinegar rinse on the ends of my hair because some of the articles I read led me to believe the hair next to my scalp would look greasy and dirty. Since my hair was getting pretty dry, I figured I was past the stage of adjusting to the change, and tried using the rinse on all of my hair.

One month later

I am also very happy to report that I still do not require any medicated products for the psoriasis on my scalp. I continue to itch a little, but there is no comparison to before when I was using prescription and other medicated products on a regular basis. I usually have an outbreak of psoriasis each spring on my arms and stomach when I get a patch of poison ivy, which makes me blister. This year has been no exception. I wondered if my No Poo routine would be able to withstand this outbreak, and it has. Another plus.

Three months later

My hair actually looks better. Frank says he can’t tell the difference, I look like I always have. My hair still feels thicker and fuller. It combs out differently. It doesn’t get near as tangled as it use to, and I have a lot of hair. I have been able to change to using only a comb and not using a brush at all. I think my hair breaks off less, because there is much less hair in my comb each day than there ever was before I quit using shampoo and a brush.

I am consistently amazed at all of the things out there to learn that can make us healthier, happier people. I am just grateful that I ran across this one thing. It has really opened my eyes to how dousing our bodies with chemicals everyday affects our health.

Until next time – Fern

No Shampoo, One Month Later

Well, it’s been a month since I quit using shampoo. And you know what? I don’t ever plan on using it again. It seems the more I learn about all of the chemicals around us, more doors open that give me an alternative to using them. For that, I am truly grateful. Here are pictures of my progress.
 

Before


Grace, a friend that hadn’t seen me in a while, was surprised at how my hair looked. She expected it to be flatter and sort of greasy looking, but it’s not. She described it as fuller and a little ‘fly away’, but said it looks good. I do think my hair is a darker color, which is okay, even though I liked the lighter blond look. Before long, the gray will take over anyway. I am still using the same formulas: 1 tablespoon of baking soda per 2 cups of water for shampoo, and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in 2 cups of water for conditioner/detangler. I did try the vinegar rinse on my scalp once, but it made me itch more. The only place I use the vinegar rinse is from the neck down to correct the pH of my hair.
 

One week later


Frank, the one that matters most, thinks my hair looks just fine, and so do I. Not only did I quit exposing my head to a menagerie of chemicals from the shampoo and conditioner, I have not had to use the medicine for psoriasis on my head one time in this last month. That has not been possible for about 20 years. 20 years. That is a long time. My scalp does still itch a little, but nothing like it did when I was still using shampoo and conditioner four days a week, and selenium sulfide shampoo and a prescription medication twice a week. For me, this is just amazing, and I will never go back. Another benefit from this new regimen is the savings. The baking soda and vinegar I use cost pennies compared to the other four products I was using.

One month later

I can’t wait to see what I will get to learn next. Life is good, even in the midst of the calamitous ruin of our country. Do all you can to simplify your needs and wants. Find ways to perform the necessary daily tasks that will keep you and yours living healthy, happy lives. Even when all about us is the uneasy wind of mighty change blowing our way, we can learn and thrive. Buckle up. We’re in for quite a ride.

Until next time – Fern

No More Shampoo

Did you know there are a lot of people that don’t use shampoo or conditioner on their hair? Until very recently, I didn’t know that. Not long ago we posted an article about Trying to Escape Chemicals that talks about toothpaste, deodorant, fluoride, sugar, BPA, aluminum, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. As I was clicking around reading different articles and blogs I ran across The Homesteading Hippy which had an article titled How To Make Homemade Shampoo. This reminded me of our journey to escape chemicals, so I read it. What I read there lead me to do a search about leading a no shampoo life. I was amazed at what I found.

You see, Frank has not used shampoo or conditioner for as long as I can remember. He only uses Dove bar soap. I, on the other hand have always used a shampoo and conditioner. About 20 years ago I started having an itching problem and tried many different brands and types of shampoos and conditioners. After a few years I was diagnosed with psoriasis and have since used a liquid medication on my scalp along with selenium sulfide shampoo twice a week, in between using a very mild shampoo and conditioner. I have kept up this regimen for years and years.


When I read about the no shampoo information and all of the chemicals found in shampoo and conditioner I wondered what impact it might have on my itching problem if I could eliminate them altogether. My only reservation was the possibility of having very greasy hair. You see, I have long hair. But I was excited about the possibility of clearing up some of my psoriasis problem as well as not having to use the chemicals found in the medications I have been using for years.

Before

Then I read about the chemicals found in many hair care products and realized this was another source of toxins my body was being exposed to everyday. Here is a list of just a few of the sites I read while researching the ‘no poo’ movement that is out there. I think a lot of this activity has been sparked by the desire to live more naturally. Some of these activities can be taken to the extreme, but some are just good common sense.

How To Go No Poo

No Poo Method

Cancer-Causing Chemicals Found In 98 Shampoos and Soaps

Finding a Safe Shampoo, and What Ingredients To Avoid

Toxic Ingredients in Personal Care Products

Hair Care Products, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

What Chemicals Should You Look Out For in Your Personal Care Products?

It’s quite a list, isn’t it? The more I read and researched, the more I realize that we have been using many chemicals for years and years. Even just a few years ago, I really didn’t give it much thought. I knew there were chemicals in the food, water and everything under the sun, but I was not serious about eliminating as many as possible. It appears that now is my time of awakening and action, so I want to share what I am learning along the way. If it is of use to you, that’s great. If your time has not come yet, I perfectly understand, mine was years in the making.

After reading a lot of information, this is the regimen I chose. I had bought some condiment containers from the warehouse market, the kind you use for mustard and ketchup. These worked great for my ‘shampoo and conditioner’ bottles. I mixed up one tablespoon of baking soda with two cups of water for my shampoo. For the conditioner, I mixed up two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with two cups of water. To wash my hair, I wet it down first, liberally put the ‘shampoo’ all over my scalp and hair, then rub it in all over. I let it sit for about two minutes, then rinse it out. I only put the conditioner on the lower two thirds of my hair and not on my scalp. This is to, hopefully, prevent the hair on my scalp from looking greasy. I rub this in my hair, then rinse. That’s it. I thought my hair would be really hard to comb out since it’s so long and I wasn’t using a traditional conditioner, which I had to have just to comb it out without major tangles. But, you know what? I think it is easier to comb out now than with the commercial conditioner. I was very surprised.

After one week

So, am I happy with my hair? Yes, I really am. One, my head isn’t itching hardly at all and that is a real blessing. And two, my hair is thicker. Is that because it is dirty? I really don’t think so. Is it because of the baking soda? I don’t think so, but I really don’t know. My hair feels very different, not bad, just different. In the shower, my hair feels more like my skin, and in some ways it feels more natural. It’s kind of like when I started using baking soda instead of toothpaste. I thought my mouth wouldn’t feel as clean, but it was just the opposite. I don’t feel like my mouth has a coating of ‘stuff’ on it from the ingredients in the toothpaste. I think it is the same way with my hair. It doesn’t feel as if it has a coating of the stuff in the shampoo and conditioner. The last time Frank trimmed my hair, yes he has been cutting my hair for years, he thought my hair was much thinner. I had been noticing the same thing for a while. Now it feels much thicker and I don’t think there is near as much left in my comb or brush when I comb or brush it out. I’m not sure why. My only theory is that it is stronger or healthier, but I really don’t know if that is the case. I only know that there is not near as much coming out or breaking off in my comb and brush.

It has only been a week since I began this new routine. So far I am very happy with the results. If any adverse affects come about sometime in the future, I will let you know. This is one more experiment I wanted to share. We all have times in life where different learning opportunities come along. Enjoy yours. Don’t be afraid or wonder what others will think. Do what is best for you and your family. Always.

Until next time – Fern