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A Life Worth Fighting For

I am Laura Martin, 33 year old wife, mom to two lovely little boys, Luke (6.5) and Lochlan (4). I am a teacher, stay-at-home mom, entrepreneur, and wellness advocate. Before we get started let’s watch this quick video:

Let me be your friend. I want to change the world one house at a time. I am excited to talk to you today about what you’ve seen in that video. But first, if I may, let me tell you a little story ….

Once Upon A Time my husband, Mitch and I, visited Kings Landing. We had a great day exploring and “stepping back in time”. When we were there we walked past this beautiful garden of fresh veggies growing outside one of the historical homes. It had chickens scratching around eating bugs, and a jersey cow grazing in the field. When we stepped into the house the most amazing smell of freshly cooked chicken soup wafted through the air. The lady of the house took a pot off the hearth and ladled out this incredible food for the “visiting cousin” (summer camp child) to enjoy. Clearly the little girl was disgusted.. it wasn’t the usual chicken nuggets and french fries she was used to. But Mitch and I were drooling. It looked just a good as it smelled.

On the way back home after our visit we talked about how far food has come since the 18th century. We realized that society has traded fresh and healthy for quick and convenient. It was then that Mitch and I decided to go on the “Kings Landing Diet” — only eat what our great grandparents would have eaten. We simply started eating local, organic, fresh, un-processed foods. We began making our own food from scratch. It was fun, exciting, and within a few weeks we noticed a huge difference in our health. We just felt SO much better, more energy, better skin, better mental clarity, higher sex drive… It was a great way to “cleanse” before deciding to have babies.

We were blessed to get pregnant very quickly, and throughout the pregnancy I continued to learn more and more about the hidden toxic chemicals in our food and everyday environment. The more I learnt, the more overwhelmed I started to feel. I had a precious, innocent, pure little baby growing inside of me and I felt so responsible to keep him safe. I suffered through severe morning sickness, headaches, and an awful cold because I refused to take any medicine. Why? Well, I was scared of what it could potentially do to my baby. I had no idea what those big words on the ingredients lists were and how they could affect my unborn child. So I just steered clear of them.

It was during the last few months of my pregnancy that my dear friend introduced me to essential oils. We were doing an overnight event with our youth group at Church and I was so stuffed up with a cold that I couldn’t breathe. Shannon saw me suffering. So she went and got a cup of hot water and put some Eucalyptus Radiata in it- told me to cup my hands around it and breathe deep. I trusted my friend and her super, natural, crunchy ways, and gave it a try. Well, within 10 minutes I went from being completely stuffed up to a huge release — blowing my nose and getting all the guck out. I was amazed! It really worked.

I went home and my crazy, Type A personality came to the forefront as I started researching essential oils. To save time, let me just say that no other company could come close to a popular MLM company's quality, but I still didn’t think I really needed them and just kind of let things be. A few weeks before Luke was born, at a baby shower, the friend gifted me a calming blend, and I remember smelling it and thinking, “Gross, I’m not going to have my baby smelling like that!” And stashed it away. (If I’d only known right?!).

I survived my pregnancy and was ready for Luke to arrive. I had only natural materials and fibres in the nursery. I only allowed natural, wooden toys in the house. I had Castile soap ready and waiting. I was a natural momma, knowing I didn’t want any chemicals near my baby. I was blessed to make it through a whole pregnancy, and birth without using any medication at all. I did my very best to ensure he was a toxin free as possible. But there was just one problem… toxic chemicals are impossible to avoid completely.

They’re in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the soil our food is grown in, and of course they’re in common, mass-marketed, everyday household products. From the cleaners we scrub our homes with and breathe in, to the cosmetics and bodily care products that we put on our bodies —the average woman puts 515 synthetic chemicals on her body each day!!! And 60% of what we put on our body gets absorbed into our bodies (in less than 26 seconds, by the way). What goes on our bodies goes in our bodies. And what goes in our bodies, affects our growing fetuses. I had detoxified my home as much as I could — or as much as I knew at the time- while I was pregnant. But I couldn’t detoxify my workplace or what I was exposed to in our environment.

The Environmental Working Group found that there were 287 different chemicals in the umbilical chord of newborns. 180 of which are known to cause cancer in humans, and 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system. So before my brand new baby has even lived an hour on this earth he was already “contaminated”. It is heartbreaking to know that I couldn’t protect him from that. But I could be the gatekeeper of my home. I continued to eat as good I could, as I was breastfeeding my baby, and what I ate would go through my milk to Luke. “Gluten Free,” “Dairy Free”, processed-sugar free, Non-GMO… we jokingly say we are really high maintenance eaters. But for good reason.

The use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fillers and colourants in modern day food is pervasive. I know, buying organic can be expensive — when I decided not to go back to work after having Luke we were living on Mitch’s salary alone… he’s an artist. It’s not like he makes a huge income or anything… So this list here is one we abided by. We always bought organic when it comes to the foods listed under Dirty Dozen. The Clean 15 foods are ones that aren’t as necessary to purchase organic — but we tried as much as possible to stick with organic for our babies. Studies have linked pesticides in our food to everything from headaches to cancer to birth defects — but many experts maintain that the levels in conventional food are safe for most healthy adults. Even low-level pesticide exposure, however, can be significantly more toxic for fetuses and children (due to their less-developed immune systems) and for pregnant women (it puts added strain on their already taxed organs), according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences.

Petrochemicals like the Glyphosate sprayed in our province are killing our environment, wildlife populations, and are entering our water systems. Just last year Glyphosate was sprayed in our Turtle Creek Water Shed. The World Health Organization has deemed Glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Get yourself a Berkey Filter —- you need it. Water is life.

Ok so back to Luke being about 5 months old. He was teething and no amount of momma’s nursing was helping. After hours of crying and exhaustion for both of us, I broke down and gave him a dose of baby Tylenol—instantaneously the guilt hit me. What had I just done? What did I just put into my precious baby? I messaged my friend at 5:30 in the morning begging her for a healthier alternative — copaiba didn’t exist then so clove to the rescue. It was then that I finally took the plunge and bought my premium starter kit. I vowed to myself that never again would I be unprepared, and every nap time and feeding from then on I devoted myself to learning more about essential oils and how they could help my baby.

Well, it was doing that research that made me realize that in today’s world, some of the most dangerous things that affect our health are things we willingly expose ourselves to on a daily basis. And some of these things might not be what you expect! In fact, you might be completely oblivious to the fact that the products we use on ourselves, in our home, on our children, and in our everyday lives, could be the very things that are contributing to why we’re sick, why we have health problems, why we struggle emotionally, and why we are not living a life full of wellness, purpose, and abundance.

So let's delve into this a little more, shall we?! Not all chemicals are harmful - our bodies are made up of chemicals, water is a chemical and some chemicals (oils) improve our health. Our bodies are designed with amazing filtration systems — liver and kidneys. They are there to get the bad stuff out of our bodies. However, the problem is, in today’s society, they are getting overloaded and what is happening is chemicals begin to accumulate in our bodies over time.

This is called “bioaccumulation”. Toxins build up and build up and the impacts of them may not show up until long after our exposure to them. In fact, some of the chemicals that pregnant women are exposed to won’t show up until three generations from now. What we do now, effects our great grandchildren! You may be thinking to yourselves, “but I don’t use many products, or I don’t eat a lot of processed foods, so I’m ok.” Well, active chemicals in products are measured in the parts per billion range (ppb). What does that mean? What’s ppb look like? Imagine half a teaspoon of red food colouring poured into an Olympic sized swimming pool. It doesn’t sound like very much does it? But even at tiny doses, they can be potent. NuvaRing at 0.035ppb can prevent conception. Albuterol at 2.1 ppb can stop an asthma attack. A tiny amount of an active chemical can have a big effect on the body.

In Canada there are some laws that limit the amount of a particular chemical in a product. In isolation a chemical can be relatively safe, but when it’s combined with other ingredients that contain other chemicals that original “safe” chemical is not longer safe — it becomes a chemical cocktail. It’s this cocktail effect — the combination of pesticides, plastics, cosmetics, preservatives, etc.— that is wreaking havoc on our bodies. Our liver and kidneys cannot cope with the onslaught of toxins they’re being asked to filter. Continuous exposure to these toxins leads us to reach “Total Load” or “Body Burden” — the accumulated total of chemicals in our bodies that now set the stage for major health problems. So let’s learn about some of the chemicals that we should try to avoid like the plague and just how they effect our health…

David Suzuki’s foundation has compiled a list of the “Dirty Dozen” toxic chemicals that are hidden in common personal care products… You can see them listed here. We don’t have time to talk about them all today, so I really do encourage you to go learn more on your own when you go home tonight. But I do think it’s important to highlight a few of these so you really grasp just how dangerous they are and why it is important to eliminate them from our products.

Let’s start with fragrance… I was the queen of fragrance in my early adulthood — perfume, deodorant, hairsprays. I loved smelling good. When we bought our first home, I was working at Wheaton’s and could get Yankee Candles at a quarter of the price as a regular retail customer. My new house had a different big jar candle in every room. Harvest Apple, Clean Linen, Cinnamon Stick, you name it and I had it. I loved fleecy sheets and original tide laundry soap… the smell of fresh laundry brought me so much joy. I had Bath and Body Works hand soap at every sink. But when you know better you do better. As I learned more about fragrance and the damage it causes I overhauled my home and got rid of them all. The more I distanced myself from the use of synthetic scents, the more sensitive I became to them.

Fragrance or parfum is an umbrella term that secretly hides over 3000 different chemicals. Fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets so manufacturers are not required to disclose fragrance chemicals in their ingredients list. It’s in nearly every type of personal care and cleaning product. Even those products that are marketed as “fragrance-free” or “unscented” may in fact contain fragrance but they also contain a masking chemical that prevents the brain from perceiving odour.

Of the thousands of chemicals used in fragrances, most have not been tested for toxicity, alone or in combination. Many of these unlisted ingredients are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms. My family and I just moved out to the country because I couldn’t open the windows in my old suburban neighbourhood on a hot day or else I would get an instant headache from the smell of “laundry” in the air. My little boys couldn’t play outside in the backyard without “feeling funny”. Fragrance is a known carcinogen….

Let me ask you, how many people here know someone who has cancer?! Cancer is the number two cause of death in our country. Three out of my four grandparents suffered and died as a result of cancer related illness. The American Cancer Society says only 5-10% of all cancer cases are from gene defects. That means 90-95% of cancer cases are under our control! So avoiding fragrance and it’s 3000 chemicals is vital!!!

Phthalates are also used as fragrance ingredients. Phthalates are used to keep plastics flexible. So any soft plastics — soothers, teething toys, soft foam mats, etc. But, Health Canada recently announced regulations banning six phthaltates (including DBP) in children’s toys — because evidence suggests that exposure may cause liver and kidney failure in young children who suck or chew on them for long periods of time —, but its use in cosmetics is unrestricted. DBP is absorbed through the skin and can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations. It causes developmental defects, and the European Union classifies it as an endocrine disruptor.

What is an endocrine disruptor? Endocrine Disruptors or “gender benders” interfere with the body’s endocrine system. They produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects. Look at all the internal structures that they would affect. If you suffer from thyroid problems, and or adrenal fatigue, for example then it’s more than likely because your endocrine system has been affected by chemicals like phthalates and the others on the Dirty Dozen list.

Pthalates along with 6 other categories of chemicals have been proven to disrupt brain development. We live in a day in age where 1 in 6 children have a developmental disability including ADHD, Austism, learning disabilities and developmental delays. By the year 2020 children on the autism spectrum will out number those who aren’t! 1 in 12 youth in Canada have been dispensed mood/anxiety or antipsychotic medication! Something has GOT to change!!! The European Union also classifies DBP phthalates as being a chemical that may cause harm to the unborn child and impair fertility.

It is getting harder and harder for women to get pregnant in this day in age. The infertility rate for women ages 18-44 was over 15.7% in 2010 and now is closer to the 20% range. I have friends who desperately want to have babies but, are struggling to conceive. Ok, say you finally are able to conceive, after months, and years of trying. But current research states that 33% of pregnancies in Canada end in miscarriage. I know SO many young women who struggle with infertility. I know too many moms who have suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage. The heartache they have had to endure is life-changing. It’s something no one should have to go through. And the fact that a baby’s life could be saved simply by ridding the world of phthalates, tells me just where our society’s priorities are. Corporate greed over ethics!

Speaking of Corporate greed did you know that a common ingredient in anti-bacterial soaps and hand-sanitizers and toothpastes that is supposed to “keep you healthy” and protect against germs actually surprises your immune system? Isn’t that just like a money-hungry company…. Sell you a product with the guise of keeping your healthy, so that when it actually makes you sicker, you go out to buy more?! This is exactly what happens with products containing Triclosan. The Canadian Medical Association has called for a ban on tricoslan-filled products, but their pleas have largely been ignored.

A similar situation occurs with feminine hygiene products. Maxi pads and tampons contain dioxin —- which believe it or not is a byproduct of Triclosan mixing with chlorine. A chemical that actually causes your periods to be heavier, for you to bleed more, for longer, so you have to go out and buy more pads and tampons! Dioxin, by the way, is a known carcinogen — what’s the second most common cancer we women get? Cervical cancer — well, know wonder, we are putting dioxin filled products up our whoo-has and expect our bodies just to cope!

I first learned about dioxin when after the first few weeks of Luke’s life, he broke out in a painful diaper rash. I tried every possible brand of mainstream disposable diapers and nothing worked. So one night, while letting his sore raw bum air out, diaper free, before bed I was researching and learned that dioxin is in disposable diapers, is an endocrine disruptor and a known carcinogen. Well that night I ordered nearly $1500 worth of natural organic bamboo cloth diapers and within 3 days of switching to them we never once had a diaper rash again. —Even though dioxin isn’t on the Dirty Dozen list, it is important for us to talk about it.

When I see this word (Formaldehyde) I instantly think of grade 10 science class, and the smell of dissecting a frog or a pig. Right? Well, can you believe that it is commonly used as a preservative in a wide range of cosmetics? It’s even was used during this picture —in the very first soap that bathed my baby at the hospital— Johnson’s baby soap! It also in vinyl flooring, plastics, and toilet bowl cleaners to name a few. Formaldehyde can off gas and be inhaled, and can be absorbed through the skin. Health Canada recognizes and recommends that we should eliminate and, at the very least, reduce as many sources of formaldehyde as possible. It is restricted ingredient in cosmetics with only a low level being allowed. But again, it bioaccumulates over time. It adds up and adds up…. So much so, in fact, that dead bodies are decomposing at a much slower rate than in previous generations, because the formaldehyde that’s stored in their bodies is preserving them just like those dead frogs and piggies. Gross right?!

Those are just a handful of chemicals that it is vital to avoid. Again, I encourage you to check out for more info on these and the other Dirty Dozen chemicals. When you know better you do better.

This picture is the morning after my second baby was born — at home, with “Gentle Baby” in the diffuser and Thieves cleaner on the household surfaces. What a difference from the last picture right?!

Let’s start shifting that paradigm, and thinking about the VALUE of taking care of your family. Have you ever heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” We can stop treating symptoms and start supporting systems by investing in our health, eliminating toxins and chemicals in our life, and flooding the body with nutrients and plant based ingredients instead. While I am definitely NOT saying you should quit taking medications and going to the doctor (modern medicine is amazing and absolutely holds a vital place in this world), I am simply saying that there are essential oils and products you could be using that will support a healthy body and maintain a level of ultimate wellness. And while I am not a doctor myself, we don’t have to be medical professionals to make better decisions for our health and the health of our families.

There is nothing more important and precious to us that our babies and children, they are worth fighting for. We cannot control everything that happens in our children’s lives, but we can control what kind of products we expose them to, whether they are good or bad. And while we make many mistakes as parents in raising our children, we know that using these chemical-free products is the one decision we can make for our children that is perfectly right in every way.

Thank you for bearing with me and listening. I crave a simple life where we don’t have to worry about what chemicals are in every little thing around us. With your help I believe that we can make a huge difference in the lives of our children. Thank you.

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