No IBS Program Support Letter # 3

Dear Friend and No IBS Program User,

Does changing to natural and unscented products really make that much difference to your bowel and digestive health? In a word, YES! Unfortunately, this is information you will rarely hear from health-care providers.

Taking the actions in Module 4 will give your digestive system a big boost. Whereas, if you don’t do them, your symptoms could drag on and on or suddenly flare.

In this letter, you’ll learn:

– A simple way to get started if you’re having trouble taking action on the module about chemical toxic

– How to be a detective for your body if you suddenly have a flare of symptoms.

– How to protect yourself from dangerous plastics that harm your digestion and other systems of your body.

– About dealing with resistance to change. Sometimes the people who are closest to us put up the most resistance. So we’ve created a special tapping script for you to use when this happens.

– And, some ways to protect yourself from other people’s chemicals when you’re in different situations – travelling, going out, or when you have houseguests.

Here’s something that happened to me.

Some years ago (before I knew everything I know now), I was given a great sweatshirt that I wore to a casual party. Unfortunately, at the party, I was overcome by uncontrollable gas. It didn’t exactly make my evening enjoyable.

Later, I found out that new cotton clothes are often full of chemical sizing and pesticides that can cause problems for the GI system. So, if I had washed the sweatshirt before I wore it, my digestion would have been fine. Live and learn.

That’s a minor example, but when you add together all the chemicals and scents your body has to cope with in a day, it’s best to make this load as light as possible.

If you feel a bit daunted by the thought of making a change away from scented and chemical products, here’s a tip: Start simply.

Two actions to take right away:

Begin with unscented laundry products and start washing the scent out of the clothes and sheets you use most often.

Then put your perfume, cologne and scented aftershave or other products into a box and store it in your garage or storage locker. Putting aside my perfumes was one of the hardest things I ever did. I loved my scents and had no intention of ever giving them up, no matter what the health consequences!

My clever and experienced health practitioner at the time suggested I avoid them for only a month. After that, I could open up the box and try them again. So, I packed up all my fragrant bottles, including my beloved shampoos and conditioners, and put them in the garage.

At the end of the month, I swooped down on that box with all the excitement of a mother meeting her child again after a long absence. 

Peeuw! The smell was overpowering! I couldn’t stand it. Instant headache. I went back to the unscented, fragrance-free new products I’d bought with a feeling of relief.

In module 4, we ask you to avoid your scented products for 90 days and, from my own experience, I think you’ll notice a big difference.

And one more thing that will really help:

Don’t feel that you have to change your whole house or apartment overnight. Just work with one room at a time over a number of weeks.

The most important room to start with is your bedroom. While you sleep, your body rests and recovers from the stresses of the day, so the cleaner your bedroom environment is, the better you’ll sleep and the better you’ll recover. When you remove the scents, chemical products and plastic bags from your bedroom, you take away a big layer of toxic stress.

Be a detective for your body:

If you suddenly start having IBS symptoms after feeling good for some time, you need to do some detective work. Check your immediate environment and what you’ve been doing. Review the green actions in Module 4 for help. Here are some additional possibilities to watch out for:

• Did you spray chemical insect repellent on your skin or use bug spray or fumigants inside your house? Try tea tree oil or citronella based products.

• Did you go to a party or event where people wearing scent (perfume, cologne, aftershave, or scented hair products) have hugged you and left scent residue on your skin or clothes? Wash your face, ears and neck and change your top as soon as possible. Sometimes after a party, you may even have to wash your hair if there has been a lot of scent and cigarette smoke.

• Did you pump gasoline into your car and get fuel on your clothes, shoes or skin? If fuel is on your hands, wash them with a grease-cutting dish soap. Cut a piece of lemon and rub it over your hands along with some baking soda to get the smell off them.

• Have you recently renovated or redecorated part of your house? New paints, solvents, and glues, as well as furniture that contains particle board all outgas their chemicals into the air inside your house. Probably the best time to renovate or redecorate is at a time of year when you can keep the windows open. And if your bedroom is repainted, use latex or low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint and do not sleep in the room for 2 or 3 days to a week, until the paint has dried well. When furniture contains particle board, that part of the furniture can be sealed with wood sealant (preferably not by you!)

• Did you spend several hours inside a shopping mall? Shopping malls are notoriously difficult places to stay healthy, as they are full of plastics, new clothes treated with pesticides and fire retardants, hair salons, perfume counters, and other chemical sources. All of the chemical products give off molecules that make a toxic brew out of the air surrounding you. They spell disaster for your digestive and immune systems. If you must go to a shopping mall, plan your purchases and try to get in and out as quickly as possible.

• Did you purchase new cotton clothing and wear it without putting it through the wash first? Cotton and other natural fibers are often heavily pesticided when they arrive from other countries, especially warm countries. It’s important to wash this chemical residue off your new clothes or pajamas before you wear them so it cannot harm you.

And here’s a note about plastics:

Plastics are made from petrochemicals, so plastic bags, wrap, and containers are constantly releasing petrochemical molecules into your household air.

The harder the plastic (like a phone or computer), the less likely it is to do this. But the softer and warmer the plastics are, the more toxins you inhale or ingest from them. Once they’re inside you, they cause problems for your digestion and for your health in general.

How to protect yourself:

1) Contain your plastic bags, containers and plastic wrap by storing them in large tins with tight-fitting lids.

In my house, we have several. They look like giant cookie tins – almost 12 inches high – and are often seen in stores around Christmas time, usually filled with popcorn. My husband eats the popcorn and then we use them for plastic storage.

This keeps the plastic molecules out of our home air. When we need a plastic bag, we take one out, which releases some of the molecules, but a LOT less than if the bags were in a drawer or cupboard.

2) NEVER cook with plastic. If you use a microwave, put your food in glass or regular dishes and cover with a paper towel or a plate NOT plastic wrap. Heating plastic is like salting your food with petrochemicals. Yuck.

Going chemical-free is like learning any new skill or language.

It’s awkward at first and you have to make yourself remember to do it. But as you keep on taking steps to improve your health, it becomes second nature.

When I first went chemical-free, other people didn’t always get what I was doing. One relative in particular thought it was all nonsense and possibly even criminally dangerous. However, I did not let her lack of information about health stop me.

Today, sadly, she has multiple chronic health problems that might have been prevented. Others who were confused or resistant have come to ask me what THEY should do to protect their health!

So, what I found was that even if people are not supportive of you at first, they DO notice when you become healthier. Quite often, they want to have the same benefits in their own lives.

Change creates resistance…

The reality is that ANY type of change creates resistance, no matter what it is. This just seems to be the way humans are. In spite of our cherished beliefs that we are each individuals, most people spend their time walking around in a state of unconsciousness, going along with what everyone else is doing. We feel comfortable with the familiar, even if it’s killing us. Which is a distinct possibility in the case of scented and chemical products!

In fact, going chemical-free protects far more than your bowel. Evidence in books such as Dr. David Servan-Schrieber’s “AntiCancer,” Dr. Theo Colborn’s landmark “Our Stolen Future” and Dr. Josef Krop’s “Healing the Planet One Patient at a Time” reveal the importance of avoiding chemical products for your overall health.

There are few if any long-term studies on the combined effects of all the chemicals in our daily lives, but there’s no question that chemical ingredients play a role in cancer, memory problems, asthma and breathing problems, depression and anxiety, menstrual and fertility issues, arthritis, heart, and other chronic conditions.

So instead of thinking that you are a special case, always different, and can’t fit in, the truth is, by going chemical-free you are ahead of the crowd. In North America, it is becoming more and more common to ban scented products in hospitals, schools and other public buildings, just like smoking. A few years ago, you had to buy unscented products in the health food store. Now, every urban grocery store carries them.

Be patient with the poor folks who don’t have your inside information. They need help and, sooner or later, they’ll ask for it.

But I don’t want to convince everyone!…

While it helps if your whole family can go unscented at the same time you do, it’s not necessary. Much more important is what you choose to put on your body. That means personal care products, hair products, and laundry products (because they leave their residue in your clothing.) If all these items are scent-free, you’ve lifted a huge burden off your gastro-intestinal system.

Resistance from your family or partner can feel stressful and even hurtful at times. Here’s a tapping script for dealing with that:

Start by tapping on the Karate Chop point on the side of the hand.

KC: Even though I feel stressed [or guilty / angry / disappointed / tired / hurt / frustrated] because my family / partner is resisting these changes, the truth is, I’m going ahead anyway
KC: Even though I would prefer to have their support and cooperation, it’s important that I make these changes for myself
KC: Even though I really wish I had their support, I accept myself and am committed to moving forward anyway.

EB: Family resistance
SE: I wish I had their support
UE: I’m feeling alone with these issues
UN: Doesn’t anyone care?
CH: Family resistance
CB: It makes me feel so angry (hurt/disappointed/frustrated)
UA: Why aren’t they more supportive?
H:  I’m tired of feeling alone

EB: Even though I could use more support
SE: I choose to move forward anyway
UE: I’m committed to helping myself
UN: And it’s important to make these changes
CH: I wish they could be more supportive
CB: But change is uncomfortable for everyone
UA: I’m committed to supporting my recovery
H: So I’m willing to go ahead on my own

Take a deep breath, and release it.

Tips for protecting yourself from other people’s chemicals:

One great advantage you have over other people is that, because of IBS, you’ve probably trained yourself to think ahead. This is an incredibly useful skill (and, in fact, a sign of advanced thinking capabilities.)

So here’s how you can put this skill to use to protect yourself from other people’s chemicals.

When you stay in a hotel or someone else’s home, you may encounter bedding and towels full of strong chemical scents that cause trouble for your digestion. What I do is take along my own sheets, pillowcase, washcloth and towels so I don’t have to use the ones provided. It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually a lot less trouble than feeling horrible.

Going out?
Don’t let your coat be hung up in a closet or thrown on a bed with other coats. Be fussy and put your coat to the side or hang it at the very end of the closet with its back to the other coats.

Why? Because the rest of the coats may have perfume on them which will transfer to your coat. We call this, “skunking,” as in, “She skunked me with her perfume.”

If perfume gets on your coat despite your best efforts, here’s what to do once you’re home. Lay your coat on the couch and liberally sprinkle plain dry baking soda on the scented places until they’re covered. Leave it for several hours or overnight. DON’T wet or wipe.

The next day, shake the baking soda off your coat into the sink (you can use it to clean the sink, if you want.) If there is still some baking soda on your coat, use a whisk broom or rough dry cloth to brush it off. Do NOT wet it.

The baking soda is usually enough to lift the scent out of the fabric, but you may also need to hang your coat outside for a few hours to freshen it. If the skunking was fairly light, sometimes hanging the coat outside will be enough to remove the smell.

Have houseguests?
One overnight visitor used such a powerful spray deodorant, my husband and I felt the toxic effects for a week afterwards. On top of that, the guest’s few seconds with a spray can forced me to do several smelly and unwanted hours of work. His deodorant spray must have bounced off his armpits and all over the room because the scent had to be scrubbed off everything: the bedding, the floor, the furniture, even some of the walls!

I now know the importance of asking guests NOT to use such products in my house. They don’t intentionally endanger your health, or their own, but their lack of information is no reason you should suffer.

You have a couple of alternatives. You can let your guests use your unscented products. Or, when the weather is fine, you can ask them to apply their chemically scented products outdoors. Or they can take their hairspray, perfume, aftershave and any spray product with them when they go out and apply them in a public restroom.

If these seem like extreme measures, remember that what might be a minor inconvenience in a guest’s morning could make a major difference to an entire week of your digestion, your mental and emotional functioning, and your ability to do your work. You are fully within your rights to protect your health by asking guests or anyone who comes to work in your house for their cooperation. Your guests might even learn something from you!

Please email us with your questions or concerns. We’re here to help.

Good health to you always!

Karen & Kathy

Karen Alison and Kathy Raymond
The No IBS Program


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