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Real Talk

My Experiences of Wellness and my Ideas about Wellness Advocacy

If I ignore the facts, I have been anti-biotic-free since 2002.

Maggie O'Connor

It's only true in so far as the fact that I haven't been prescribed anti-biotics since I had surgery fourteen years ago.  But it's still a really good track record.  Realistically I have probably ingested some through our food and water supplies, amongst god knows what else.  And honestly, I have used natural anti-biotic and anti-viral substances galore, as found at farmer's markets, health food shops, and China town herbalists.

What I am trying to say is that I haven't had any sort of serious illness in quite a while, that and no cavities nor use of synthetic painkillers (except one course postpartum).  I really believe my success has come from a consistent awareness and on-going reduction of toxic loading across these areas of my life: household furnishings, cleaners, cosmetics, clothing, medications, and food.

I don't want to write about food in this post, but basically we stick to vegetarianism + local seasonal organics.  Is it 'difficult' to only eat Ontario apples and pears all winter long?  Absolutely not.  It is totally interesting to experience eating our way through the different varieties of local apples available over the winter, and we love plenty of sulphite-free dried fruit, home-made preserves, and pies... mmm. I digress.

  Aromatherapy play dough.

Aromatherapy play dough.

Some of these categories seem obvious, but many people still feel like it is too much work, or it's expensive, and it isn't necessary.  I can see how label-reading can be tiresome and goes in and out of popularity, and greenwashing completely f's up all our best efforts.

This is why the DIY of simple old school homemaking (where you recognize and control all the ingredients) is still the best approach for safety and economizing.  It is also intensely satisfying to create customized non-toxic personal care and household solutions from scratch.

Unfortunately newly purchased non-toxic furnishings are expensive, comparatively with toxic furnishings.  Oh yay toxic stuff for sale?  Let's shop!  (No one actually thinks that).  These larger priced items are totally within reach if you juggle your budget around or go for vintage [real wood] options.  It is nice to know that if you do opt to lay out a little extra cash for healthy soft furnishings, or real wood kitchen cabinets ($$$!) they are not the actually the most expensive options.  Does that help?

Beeswax candle with cotton wick.

I am a firm believer that we can afford what we want (I don't mean those who are experiencing poverty).  From big ticket items like an organic cotton mattress, to the fun times beeswax candles, this type of consumerism is about being discerning or creating new habits.  I speak from experience in saying that going through the exercise of remodelling a budget for priorities of sustainability (living without seriously compromising your health and values) is deeply rewarding.  You're welcome.

Except that certain categories do make improvement feel impossible - have you tried to find clothing that doesn't contain plastic?  Plastics are the worst because warmth and moisture break them down into even more toxic forms, so like never wear them unless you're a zombie, and never wash or dry them, and never wear-wash-repeat.  I even try desperately to avoid them in our disposable product purchases.  Interestingly (or frighteningly) there are currently zero studies on the effects of wearing plastic clothing, although they are made of many of the same compounds we know have been found to harmfully contaminate food and drink.

  Loveybums organic wool diaper covers, I know, I know.

Loveybums organic wool diaper covers, I know, I know.

Thankfully woollens are coming back into vogue in Canada, and we have hemp.  I am serious about natural fibres and have found reasonably affordable things like non-treated pure wool carpeting, soft furnishings, clothing, shoes, toys...

Some of these items I have pursued to obsession to attain, like the wool carpet underlay that nobody stocked in Toronto (the standard version of which is a green product made of recycled car tires that has been found to be devastatingly carcinogenic).  Or the spandex-free Wrangler jeans only available to cowgirls down south or hefty duties at the boarder.  So you must be kind when I confess to having felt so satisfied as a new mum, upon discovering hand-dyed organic woollen diaper covers - that is so cool right?  I extremely, digress.

I point out the small details because the fact is that they all add up.  Sometimes I feel like being sick has been totally normalized, accepted as random and unavoidable, without consequence.  Turns out that the consequences are MAJOR.  Canadians are the second highest users of prescribed drugs globally, and 55% of those users are Women ages 15-44.  Why are my contemporaries so unwell?  There are many reasons, but check out the reports and guides published by Environmental Defence (who totally has your back).  Here are a few of the good-scary ones:

  1. The Dirty Truth - How toxic cleaning products are putting Canadians at risk.
  2. Pollution in People: Toxic chemical profiles of 11 adults and 5 families across Canada.
  3. Pre-Polluted: A report on toxic substances in the umbilical cord blood of Canadian newborns.
  4. Not So Sexy: The health risks of secret chemicals in fragrance - Canadian edition.
  5. The Manscape: The dirt on toxic ingredients in men's body care products.
  6. The Trouble with Triclosan: How a pervasive antibacterial chemical is polluting our world and our bodies.


This is why dōTERRA.

I want all of us to be able to incorporate non-toxic, beneficial household products and solutions into our homes, so that we have the resources to care for our families, without sacrificing health through on-going exposure to harmful substances.

What happens when you step outside your door?

I am faced with environmental pollutants, I consume whatever I cannot avoid, and I pray that my health and healthcare approach is robust enough to deal. End of. Stress is almost worse.
What have you been up to other than reducing your toxic loading?

Learning yoga and mindfulness, and taking the odd trip to a holistic dentist, a TCM acupuncturist, a naturopath, and an Ayurvedic health educator. And sometimes I just go to see the doctor!
What else?

When I am sick, I make getting better a priority. I start my DIY protocols (remedies, baths, sleep) at the first inkling of infection. I reduce my outings, screen-time, and exposure to stress and bad weather. I change my sheets and buy a new toothbrush. I reserve my digestive energy by supping on soups and teas... Sounds totally romantic, I know, because it is. Everyone deserves time to rest, be cared for, and recover.

If you’re interested in transforming your home into a positively safe environment here are some tools and tips to help inspire you:

  1. Do an assessment with Environmental Defence's Home Checklist.
  2. Try dōTERRA's recipes for homemade cleaning and personal care products.
  3. Come to (or host) an Essential Oils 101 class to learn how to integrate the essential oils that support your needs into your routines, to displace the junk.

Most importantly, let's talk about what we can do together as a community, in the garden, and in the street.