Category Archives: Nourishing Traditions

But, WHY Am I Sick?

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One of the questions that I carried around for nearly two decades was “Why am I sick”.  The medical community had nothing helpful to tell me… could be hereditary… that was the most helpful answer I got to the ‘why’.  Why then is it so much more prevalent now than it was a generation ago?  Why is it SO much more common now than it was a mere 20 years ago when I was first diagnosed?  20 years ago you had to find a specialist who actually knew what Fibromyalgia was.  Now you can stop five people on the street and at least one of them could likely tell you what it is and who they know that has it.

Why?  Well, I’m no doctor (thank god) but in my experience, and that of every other Fibro Survivor I have met, it is a case of toxic overload of the body.  Our chemical and food environments are wholly different than those of our grandparents.  In a single generation we have dramatically altered the world that we live in.  There are more than 7,000,000,000 recognized chemicals in existence, and more than 80,000 of them are in common use, though the EPA and FDA have no idea how many chemicals are in use in consumer products, what products they are in, nor what these chemicals actually do.  Thousands of new chemicals are approved for use in consumer products each year and the EPA and FDA can only request a small amount of information about these chemicals because the actual content and actions of the chemicals are protected.  80% of these new chemicals are approved within 3 weeks with no information about what they are, how they will be used, or what they might do to life on the planet or inside your body.

We rub our bodies with known carcinogens.  We clean our homes with hormonal disrupting chemicals created in a lab.  The most affordable foods available are also created in labs and factories, and then when we turn up sick, exhausted, depressed, afraid, we are treated with chemical pills created right along side our cleaners and pesticides.  To prevent illness we saturate our entire environment in antibiotics and antimicrobials.  The fundamental problem here:  We ourselves, our comprised of bacterias.  Without them our bodies cease to function, cease to be able to digest and use the food we eat, cease to be able to defend against and then get rid the toxins that we take in.

Let’s break for a moment a learn a couple of interesting and important things about our bodies:

EPIGENETICS – what are they and what does it have to do with Fibromyalgia and other environmental illness?  Here’s where we return to that oh so helpful thing we get told about Fibro, “It appears to be genetic”. Epigenetics affect how a gene (your DNA) is expressed, or “turned on or off”.  Many, many factors can affect your epigenetic tags from the food we eat to the chemicals we are exposed to.  Some epigenetic tags can be passed down from your mother or father.

Why is learning more about epigenetics important? Everything you’ve been taught about genetics is wrong! Well, it’s not completely wrong, but if you weren’t taught about epigenetics, you weren’t told the whole truth. The genes were born with do change. Our DNA is not set in stone.”  The good news is that also means that you can CHANGE yours.  In the pursuit of simplicity, let’s turn to this quick Nova video explaining Epigenetics.

“As the chemical tags that control our genes change, cells can become abnormal, triggering diseases.”

“One of the main findings of research is that epigenomes can change in fusion with what we eat, what we drink, what we smoke, and this is one of the key differences between epigentics and genetics.”

I have all the reason in the world, my health, to believe that a person can, on their own, repair their epigenetics in the same way that they sustained the damage: what we put into, onto and around our bodies in the form of food, drink, vitamins, minerals, and chemicals.

How the guts work:

All disease begins in the gut” -Hippocrates

“And the more we learn ,with all our scientific muscle, is just how right he was, just how correct he was.  When we talk about the digestive system, we have to talk about what lives there and what takes care of it.  We have to talk about the housekeepers of our second brain and our major immune system organ, and the organ which feeds us and protects us and detoxifies us.  We have to talk about gut flora.  The scientists recently, in Scandinavia, have established the fact that about 90% of all cells and all genetic material in your body is your gut flora. So we are just about 10% of our bodies, we only are a shell that holds this microscopic world inside us and we ignore that world at our peril.  It’s role of our physiology, and our psychology, and functioning of that 10% of us, is so fundamental that because we have ignored it for such a long time our health status is in a bad way at the moment.” -Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride

Here is Dr. Campbell-McBride on why a healing diet is fundamentally necessary to the reversal of diseases such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

What we eat, what we put into our bodies, and on them… the chemicals we choose to clean our homes, our laundry, our hands and our hair, to scent our air… the chemicals that are applied to our foods without our knowledge or labeling laws to protect us… these things are the things which are making us sick. These things are the things which we can choose to eradicate from our lives.  Knowledge is power my lovelies, and as you begin to fill your brain with all the truths of the matter of why we are sick you will find that therein lies the power that you need to manage everything that you must do to reclaim your life, your health.

So, here’s to our health!

Or as my father says, “Eat as if your life depends on it!” because, after all, you are what you eat 😉

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Get Cultured!

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“Born of necessity and waste-not-want not attitude, probiotic foods have nourished the human race for thousands of years and appear in one form or another in traditional cuisines cross-globally.  Fermented foods are rich in probiotics – those beneficial bacteria that keep our immune systems and digestive tracts running smoothly and healthfully.”

Get Cultured: Probiotic Foods from a Nourished Kitchen, the first of many e-books detailing tried-and-true nourishing recipes, Get Cultured details thirteen recipes from classics like pickled jalapeños and real sauerkraut to the exotic like Vietnamese preserved limes, green salsa and cortido.

Each recipe in Get Cultured focuses on nourishing pro-biotic, naturally fermented vegetables and all the recipes are dairy-free.

>>> Check it out at nourishedkitchen.com/get-cultured/


Healing Beef Stock

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Broth, made from the bones of animals, has been consumed as a source of nourishment for humankind throughout the ages. It is a traditional remedy across cultures for the sick and weak. A classic folk treatment for colds and flu, it has also been used historically for ailments that affect connective tissues such as the gastrointestinal tract, the joints, the skin, the lungs, the muscles and the blood. Broth has fallen out of favor in most households today, probably due to the increased pace of life that has reduced home cooking in general. Far from being old-fashioned, broth (or stock) continues to be a staple in professional and gourmet cuisine, due to its unsurpassed flavor and body. It serves as the base for many recipes including soup, sauces and gravy. Broth is a valuable food and a valuable medicine, much too valuable to be forgotten or discounted in our modern times with our busy ways and jaded attitudes.  – Allison Siebecker

Throughout my healing journey broth and stock have played starring roles for everything from Fibromyalgia to the most severe stomach flu.  It is humble, unassuming, and so easily dismissed, but it is a true healer.  It took me a while not just to give credit to the benefits of broth, but to implement it as a mainstay in my daily life, but the process has been well worth it.  Not only does it help to heal the body, but it soothes the rough patches of the healing process like die-off, stomach irritation, fatigue and inflammation.  While chicken stock is considered the cream of the stock crop, it is beef stock that we prefer around here because it is easier for us to acquire great bones.  We have made stock from everything from Yak (yes, yak!) to fish and even combined poultry and beef bones.  Each family member has their favorite, but all stock can be wonderfully beautiful in flavor while it does it’s healing work.

From ediblearia.com..

“…if there’s one preparation that separates a great home cook’s from a good home cook’s food, it’s stock.  Stock is the ingredient that most distinguishes restaurant cooking from home cooking.”  -Michael Ruhlman

Here, then, is a proper yet relatively easy way to make a rich, delicious, and (most importantly) healing beef stock at home..

Beef Stock (makes about 1 quart) (informed by recipes by Ruhlman and Darina Allen)

6 cups (more-or-less) cold, filtered water, divided
2 pounds meaty beef bones (shin bones with meat attached are ideal) from a clean, non-industrial source
1/3 pound unpeeled yellow onions, roughly chopped
1/3 pound carrots, roughly chopped
1/3 pound celery, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 large fresh, ripe tomato, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2-3 whole cloves
1 bouquet garni of parsley stalks & leaves, fresh bay leaves and fresh thyme

Arrange the beef bones on a roasting pan or in a large cast iron skillet, allowing plenty of space between each (as you can see, I wasn’t able to find any bones with meat attached, so I rummaged around in the freezer and found an old tri-tip to add to the pan).  Place the pan in a 400 degree oven and roast until nicely browned, about 45 minutes.  Take care not to let the bones burn, or the stock will be bitter.

Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chopped vegetables, garlic and peppercorns over and around the bones.  Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are browned around the edges, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the roasted bones, vegetables, garlic and peppercorns to a clean stockpot or Dutch oven.

Pour the grease off from the roasting pan and deglaze with 1 cup of the water.  Bring the water to a boil, then use a wood utensil to scrape up the fond (the brown bits) from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the liquid over the bones and vegetables in the stock pot.

Add enough of the remaining water to cover the bones, then add the cloves and bouquet garni.

Bring the pot to a rapid boil, then lower the heat to a bare simmer.  Skim and discard any foam that may be present on the surface.

Partially cover the pot and allow to simmer for 6-8 hours, skimming and adding water as necessary to keep the bone submerged.

Turn off the heat and allow the stock to cool in the pot for 30 minutes.  Strain the stock through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer to ensure a clear and clean-tasting stock.

Store stock in the refrigerator and use with 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Inflammation, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and the Food We Eat

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The Toxic Truth About the Gluten Free Diet http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/04/the-toxic-truth-about-gluten-free-food-and-celiac-disease/#more-3490

I’ve just come across this and thought I’d better share.  The fact is that it has been more than 4 years since I read Gut & Psychology Syndrome which helped me to understand why I was sick.  It has been more than four years of forgetting, and I have never since felt as completely healthy and strong since.  I have been wondering why, when I no longer have most of the FMS symptoms I still get occassional feelings of flare ups, and just a general feeling of fragility despite my lack of symptoms.

I’ll admit, I eat a lot of brown rice.  Most of it is sprouted to eliminate the problems that this article talks about, but some of it (that contained in the brown rice crackers and the brown rice pasta) is not sprouted.

Alas, I think it is time for me to read the GAPS book again so that my choices can be made from an informed place again.  For those who have not yet looked into the GAPS program, I highly recommend it.  It was utterly integral to my healing process.  For those who have, but are overwhelmed try reading a bit about the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet).  There is a lot more information and support for this one, but they are essentially the same, with only a few minor differences.

I picked up the GAPS Guide companion book a few years ago, and would like to recommend that one too.  It goes a long way in the hand-holding department.  For those utterly new to healthy eating, you might also like the Internal Bliss Cookbook.   I got mine here:  http://www.shop.gapsdiet.com/category.sc;jsessionid=9C6FB7D261DFF619D218B7A5483565ED.qscstrfrnt06?categoryId=7

I don’t get any kickbacks or anything like that.  It’s just where I picked up my copies.

That being said, my real introduction to healing diets was from the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook and the Wild Fermentation book.  Nourishing Traditions will teach you how to eat some of these dangerous foods in a way that renders them not just safe, but nutritious as well.

A Quick Summary

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Aimee by Whitney Martin

Or not so quick as the case may be…

This is a copy of an email that I recently sent out in response to one of the many emails I get about what I do/have done to reverse the Fibromyalgia:
I so know the broken feeling.  I declared myself cured in the summer of 2008 and since then have been pushing the boundaries trying to figure out exactly what I can and cannot do… exactly what equals a life of physical freedom, what I can get away with a little bit, and what adds up to leave me feeling broken and scared.

I’ve recently landed myself at broken and scared and am now going back to what I must finally admit is ultimately necessary… difficult, but worth more than getting away with anything.  I expect (based on three years of trial and error) that it will take me 4-6 weeks to be completely free of pain and fatigue again.  If I had not abused the rules so much it would be less.  If I don’t get really serious about following “the rules” I will continue to suffer to some degree until I do.  It takes about 5 months of sticking completely by the rules before I can have a slip up without suffering immediately.  When I live inside of these restrictions I live a life free of pain, fatigue, depression, stiffness and “brain fog”.  It seems like a no-brainer, but as a mother, a woman of the age and culture, and a lover of food and overdoing it.  I seem to require a painful reminder that it may be a choice, but that my choices can lead to a world of hurt.

Before I go any further, legally, I have to tell you that I’m not a doctor, I have no legal right, certification or degree that allows me to give you medical advice.  😉

I know this:

I cannot tolerate gluten.  Even small amounts seem to get stored and build up until I feel like a painful toxic dump.  I start getting tired.  Then I start feeling a little stiff… followed by mini “flare ups” of pain, general achy-ness and eventually devastating, deep, widespread pain, exhaustion, inability to concentrate, etc. etc.

Other things that go the exact same way are corn, “natural flavors”, any derivatives of MSG
“binders”, preservatives, additives, dyes, sweeteners or anti-caking agents.

I have a low tolerance for potatoes, gluten-free flour products, and any salt that isn’t pure, air dried sea salt – such as Real Salt or Celtic Salt.

One of the things that brings me to my knees quickest is drinking much less than a gallon of water every day.  If I lived in a relatively cool, humid area this would likely be more like 3/4 gallon minimum.

Things that make my life easier and decrease my sensitivity are: quality probiotics like Code Raw Probiotics, Fermented Cod Liver Oil and high-fat organic butter, organic, whole milk yogurt (plain with honey or maple syrup), regular epsom salt baths with exfoliation, followed by oiling my skin (the skin is the largest organ of detoxification for the body), and whenever possible a cup of homemade bone broth.

Sleep is paramount.  I absolutely hate it.  I’m terrible at sticking to it, but I have to go to sleep at the same time every day, get up in the morning and take a nap if it feels necessary.  I know that as a mother you know that this seems impossible.  When I struggle with it the most I have to take steps to help myself.  I got rid of my TV years ago.  I turn the internet off at 8pm and I take a dose of Skullcap (4-8 drops) and Motherwort (10-15 drops) to help me fall asleep (and stay in a good quality sleep) while a guided relaxation plays on the computer next to my bed.  Sometimes the pain can make sleep so difficult.  When it does I add in a super hot bath, 5 extra drops of Skullcap and I replay the relaxation until I either fall asleep or I can listen to the whole thing.  By the time I have achieved either one of them the pain has lessened and I have a chance of waking up without pain.

I drink Nettle and Red Raspberry leaf tea every day, all day.  This helps with the energy and pain.

Herbal tinctures that I depend upon are as follows:

Skullcap (3-5 drops) as often as every 4 hours during the day.  Up to 10 drops when I’m ready to sleep.
St. Johns Wort (25-30 drops) every 4 hours, 4-5 times per day, every day.  No matter what.
If the pain is really bad during the day I will add a dropper full of California Poppy tincture to the 3 drops of Skullcap (and usual dose of St. Johns)  Until I got used to it the combination of California Poppy and Skullcap made e very drowsy.  If it’s at all possible I lay down until I at least feel a little better.

16 years of doctors and prescriptions proved to me that any prescription has the potential to lift some symptoms temporarily, but that they will usually return in a couple of weeks and they will be worse than before the prescription.  Sleeping drugs where particularly detrimental to my well being, and created a truly devastating cycle of pain and exhaustion after a few weeks.  Prescriptions for depression or anxiety wrecked everything, created new symptoms, and always, always led to additional prescriptions.

I make many sacrifices to eat a completely organic, whole food ingredient diet.  It took me years to learn how to manage it with children, fatigue and serious budget constraints, but it is possible and it feels like a key ingredient.  I recently managed to feed said diet to a family of 5 for less than $400 per month, out of uncomfortable necessity.

If I could not eat a totally organic diet I would check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, eliminate any food that comes in a package with an ingredient list, and add in a whole foods based multi-vitamin such as Raw Code, Rainbow Light or New Chapter.

I have found acupuncture (at least once per week for 8 weeks) to be a huge help in getting over the initial hump of pain and fatigue.  There are many places that will work on a sliding scale or that offer “group sessions” at a steep discount.  Some people find relief in massage, but I have found it to be a mine-field of RMTs unqualified to deal with Fibromyalgia.   Cleanses and detoxes always help.

While I would have felt relieved to have received an email outlining all the changes I needed to make I’m sure an email such as this would have left my head spinning and me feeling a bit hopeless and utterly overwhelmed.

I hope that you might accept my deepest wishes that you find the peace and health that every mother needs to care for the most important thing(s) in her world.  If you need anything…  If you have any questions… someone to complain to… a shoulder to cry on… or are needing a gentle reminder… you can always reach me at this address.

I am opening up my online journal of recovery, Healing Rebel.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the energy to put all these ideas together and think about the pain they’re based on if there isn’t someone holding you accountable.  I’m always grateful for the women who email me.  They give me the push or reminder that I need.

Books that have helped me to understand what I’m dealing with:  Gut & Psychology Syndrome, Nourishing Traditions, Cleanse and Purify Thyself, and readings of Dr. Christopher’s Cure for the Incurables.   If you are of Christian faith, the last two will likely resonate with you on that level.  The first two are more scientific and helpful for learning how to live a new way.  Susun Weed, though totally eccentric, has the best grasp on herbs as nourishing tonics; especially for women.  Eckhart Tolle’s discussion of what he calls “the pain body” in The Power of Now has been immensely helpful to me when all else falls short of the pain.

All the best,

Aimee