A few years ago, my husband was diagnosed with Cluster Headaches, which is a rare form of headache. Unfortunately, not much is known about this condition, what causes it and how to ‘cure’ it. Often called suicide headaches, cluster headaches are excruciating. What we do know is that cluster headaches are more common in men and in those who smoke or are heavy drinkers of caffeine or alcohol, with triggers that include high altitude, lack of sleep, cigarette smoke, alcohol, and strong smells.
Thankfully he has a pain relief nasal spray that he uses in the onset of an attack. He is also on a daily dose of preventative medication (Verapamil) which helps reduce the occurrence, severity, and duration of his headaches.
This experience prompted some immediate lifestyle changes for us.
- We became a lot more aware of his (and our) health and triggers that may bring on a cluster headache. More fruits, veggies and vitamins became regular staples in our diet and consumption of alcohol (in his case, beer) has reduced dramatically to the stage that bottles have been known to expire in our fridge!
- We avoid toxic chemicals by reducing unnecessary chemical use in and around our home:
- Vinegar, baking soda and essential oils have replaced most of our cleaning products.
- Boiling water now takes care of the weeds that pop up in the driveway, and close to the house and pool. Hot water and other pesticide-free tactics are better for the bees, and no doubt better for us than chemical-based weed killers.
- We’ve started replacing our pots and pans from the old flaking, non-stick to stainless. Whilst there isn’t any long-term research to conclude whether non-stick is safe or not, there’s no risk of anything leaching into our food in the meantime with trusty old stainless steel! Whilst Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical released when non-stick cookware heats up, was phased out of the U.S in 2015 it is still made in some other countries. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified PFOA as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. PFOA has potential to be a health concern as it stays in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Whilst non-stick may not be an immediate health risk, avoiding it was a simple way of minimising our possible risk.
- We’ve made a conscious effort to purchase and use alternatives to plastic wherever possible. Glass containers are slowly replacing our discoloured old plastic containers to store food and for use in the microwave. We never microwave plastic containers as its associated with increased leaching of chemicals into food. “Microwave safe” containers only means that it won’t melt.
- Natural Personal Care Products. It made sense whilst eating better and removing harsh chemicals from our home, that we became aware of what we were putting on our skin and made the switch to natural personal care products. We steer clear of anything with Parabens, Fragrances and Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Aluminium compounds, Refined Petroleum, Talc and the list goes on. The closer to natural, the better for us. It’s just another way of minimising our exposure to chemicals.
Whilst our journey to living a less-toxic lifestyle has centred around my husband’s cluster headache diagnosis, it became bigger than that.
Living a more natural, less toxic lifestyle has also been a win for the environment as we’ve become more aware of our footprint. As I write this blog, we’re preparing for the addition of a native beehive into our garden in the next month! I’m proud to say that our pesticide-free garden is now a safer place for bees. Our reduced usage of plastic is also something that I’m proud of – The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the impact on wildlife from littered plastics is heart-breaking.
By ensuring that the products we bring into our home are free from harmful chemicals, we’ve not only been looking after ourselves, but also the environment around us.
Not only is it important to reduce harmful chemicals in our home, but it’s also important to ensure that the products we put onto or into our bodies are safe and free from harmful chemicals. And one way of doing this is with natural personal care products.
Browse Veeda’s Natural Postpartum and Incontinence range here