Health Tips that have Nothing to do with Diet or Exercise, Part I

Two weeks ago I started getting mysterious ankle pains out of nowhere, which started out as no biggie and progressed into me not being able to walk at all last weekend.  I haven’t worked out in nearly two weeks, I want to give the little guy a rest as I figure out what’s going on with it.

You guys know that I feel that health is much more than diet and exercise, as I have said one jillion times since this blog’s inception.  However, this laid-up-ness is still a bummer for me – exercise keeps me feeling so nice and strong and even-keeled.

Plus, everything with health is so darn interconnected. It is tempting to just slide down the slippery slope from slothfulness into eating crap foods and hey… might as well go buy some size 2 pants to hate myself over, while I’m at it!

I feel with all my heart that self-love is the most important aspect of healthy living.  Sometimes, though, the masculine energy part of me kicks in and I just want to feel like I am DOing something to take care of myself, you know?  Not being able to move my body really frustrates that part of me!

BUT BUT BUT… there’s a tremendous gift in limitation.  With so much that I can’t do, it helps me to zero in on what I can.  This foray into couch-land has prompted me use new ways to take extra-special loving care of myself without riding my bike or standing at the kitchen counter chopping veggies.

Today, I’m going to share my findings with you!  In this blog post, I’ll tell you about some of my favorite action-oriented ways to feel like a million bucks when your ability to eat well and exercise is limited.  Even the most health-conscious lady in the world hits up against roadblocks like these sometimes. You can sail right past this temporary setback with a little willingness to be creative!

How I Learned About this Freaky Health Stuff

I discovered these methods during a bad breakup years ago.  After I moved through the Twinkies and Wild Turkey stage of dysfunctional relationship grieving, my progression to the “You know what?  I’m gonna run a fucking MARATHON, you asshole!” stage was halted because it was the dead of a very snowy winter.

I didn’t want the freezing weather to stop the sacred healing breakup process, so I looked to the trusty internet for ways to achieve spitefully good health while stuck indoors.

I discovered Oil Pulling and Dry Skin Brushing and started doing both every morning.  I was mildly weirded out, but I loved how they made me feel.  My energy levels increased like crazy, the whites of my eyes got all bright, my menstrual cramps subsided, and I made it through that entire winter without a single cold or virus despite the fact that I’d spent a good portion of it chasing snack cakes with 101-proof liquor.

I got over that guy, and by the next winter I met Jonny and you guys know how wonderfully that turned out!  I can’t prove it, but I do have a feeling that what lured him into my womanly web was my detoxified organs.

Oil Pulling

Oil Pulling is a simple Ayurvedic therapy that will make your friends gag.  But you’ll feel so great that you won’t even care!  Instructions are below, but the basic method is swishing around cold-pressed oil in your mouth for 20 minutes without swallowing first thing in the morning.

Oil pulling has been documented as a cure for kidney diseases, sleep disorders, various cancers, ulcers, digestive issues, AIDS, and just about everything else that can go wrong with a human bod.

The magic powers of Oil Pulling make sense when when you consider that in Ayurvedic medicine (Traditional Chinese Medicine too! They’re not just blowing smoke up your ass), the various parts of the tongue are linked to each organ in the body.  By detoxifying your tongue, you can improve the functioning of your organs.

As you swish, the tissues in your mouth release all kinds of bacteria and send them on their merry way.  Ordinarily, that bacteria would stay in your body (ew) and contribute to aging and organ degeneration.  Oil Pulling is also thought to cleanse and purify the taste buds.

Many people also say it whitens and brightens teeth.  I haven’t experienced that – my teeth are still making strangers puke, after all.  It does make my mouth feel as clean as it does after going to the dentist, though!

Here’s how you do it:

1.  First thing in the morning, before drinking any liquids (even water!), pour a tablespoon of cold-pressed oil into your mouth.  Traditionally, sunflower or sesame oil is used, but I’ve also had luck with coconut oil.

2.  Swish the oil all around in your mouth, but don’t swallow it, for about 20 minutes.  I do this part while I’m showering.  You’ll know you’re done when the oil turns all white and thick.  This means it has become saturated with your toxins.  I find this to be both revolting and oddly satisfying.  It might take you less than 20 minutes to get to Toxin Town… experiment and see!

3. Spit that crap out and rinse out your mouth with warm water.  This is a final sweep for any toxins that might be hangin’ around your old pie hole.

Dry Skin Brushing

The skin is the largest organ in the body.  It wants to release all the toxic shit you don’t need.  Daily dry skin brushing before you shower is an easy peasy way to help it do just that.

Dry skin brushing is an age-old practice that involves using a dry skin brush (har har) to remove dead skin cells from your body.  The benefits go much further than gorgeous skin, though you’ll get that too… by helping the skin to do its elimination work, you’ll get improved health throughout your entire body.

Dry skin brushing improves lymphatic drainage (SEXY!), helps get rid of cellulite (I can’t swear to this one.  I love my body but inspecting my cellulite to assess changes over time would drive me fucking bonkers!), decreases strain on your kidneys (your skin is like, “Don’t worry, kidneys… we detox hard so you don’t have to!”), and most importantly will make you feel completely and fabulously refreshed!

To experience the magic of dry skin brushing, get a natural bristle skin brush and, starting with your feet, make firm strokes toward your heart.  Work your way all over your body from your feet to your head, always stroking towards your heart (away from your heart encourages the blood in the wrong direction).

A few notes:  you should experiment with differing amounts of pressure to see what works best for you – it should be hard enough that you can really feel it, but not so hard that it hurts.  Skip your breasts and vagina, you don’t need dry bristles up in there.

This is best done right before a shower or workout – once you loosen all that gunk up, you want to wash it away as soon as possible via water or sweat.

Now you let your freak flag fly!  Do you have any unconventional health practices to share?  Tell us about them!

P.S.  I found both of these on Earth Clinic, which is my go-to resource for home remedies.
P.P.S. I have not tried urine therapy yet.
P.P.P.S.  I am not a doctor.  I am just a woman who wants you to feel great, and is not afraid to tell you that you might need to drink your own pee for that to happen.  For specific dietary or medical advice, please consult your physician.

Read Part II here!

26 Responses to Health Tips that have Nothing to do with Diet or Exercise, Part I
  1. Janine (Alternative Housewife)
    July 9, 2012 | 2:34 am

    Ha – Totally relate to those breakup steps. I go through a similar cycle when my husband and I have a really big fight.

    Was gonna comment about where to find the brush as well but found the answer in previous comments – Yay!

    Off to my cupboard to see if the sesame oil we have is cold pressed. Somehow I doubt it.

    • Marla
      July 9, 2012 | 9:12 am

      Let me know what you think, Janine! <3

      I bet you will have no trouble finding cold pressed oils in Portland (that's where you live, right?)... that's where my fiance is from and every time we go I feel like it is just a mecca for every specialty health-related item and I LOVE it!!!

  2. Liz
    July 5, 2012 | 9:06 am

    Marla! I bought my first jar of coconut oil (cold pressed, unrefined) for a recipe yesterday. I had read this post a few days ago and was intrigued by the oil pulling, and I tried it this morning. It wasn’t bad at all and I’m definitely going to do it again. I do have a question about coconut oil, though. Mine says refridgeration isn’t necessary – what do you recommend? My mom uses it and leaves it refridgerated and it stays a solid – mine is a liquid now. Is there a certain brand of coconut oil you swear by?

    • Marla
      July 5, 2012 | 9:18 am

      Hi Liz! I can’t wait to hear about what you think about oil pulling over time. Personally, I leave mine out because I use it as body lotion every day and for cooking too too and when it’s refrigerated, it can be kind of annoying to try to break off chunks of it. Though I do understand why some people prefer the fridge – in hot weather, like right now, it becomes a total liquid which kind of freaked me out at first but now I’m used to it. Most of the year, though, it stays a nice spreadable mushy semi-solid which works great. I love the Nutiva brand because they’re inexpensive and a great company in general: Keep me posted please, love! <3

      • Liz
        July 7, 2012 | 11:50 am

        Is it normal to feel a little sick before feeling better? Ive done it the past 3 mornings, and its like the phelgm is draining out of my system. (sorry if that’s gross). After day two I felt like I was getting a little head cold and a little run down – I rarely ever get sick. I feel alright this morning after sleeping a lot. It would make sense, though. What was your experience?

        • Marla
          July 9, 2012 | 9:10 am

          I’ve never gotten sick from it, but I have read that since it’s detoxifying that some people experience ‘die-off’ symptoms like fatigue or flu-like stuff as the toxins make their way up and out of the body – it’s gentler than what you’d experience doing, say, a juice cleanse but it can happen nonetheless. I also lose TONS of phlegm when I do it, which I think is great! Have you kept it up the last couple of days and how are you feeling now?

  3. Jo Macdonald
    July 5, 2012 | 5:55 am

    This is such perfect timing Marla as I have been housebound for a week with a poorly chickenpox girl and as such have done nothing for myself at all – barely time to shower & brush teeth! Have heard about oil pulling but never done it…so glad you say it is disgusting but worth it, I have so not been buying into those who say it isn’t gross! May just literally have to suck it and see. Huge hugs to you as always ♥

    • Marla
      July 5, 2012 | 9:13 am

      hahahhaha literally suck it! Awwww Jo… hope that your babe is feeling much better already and that you get to do some nice things to take care of you to fill yourself back up after all that output! I promise, you will get used to the actual practice of it, though it never stops feeling weird heading to the kitchen to swig some oil first thing in the morning. Lots of love to you honey.

  4. Lesley Reid Cross
    July 3, 2012 | 1:26 pm

    Thanks for the reminder to try oil pulling again. I tried it a few weeks ago, and it did seem to make my teeth whiter, the calculus build-up I had chipped off nearly effortlessly, and my mouth felt very clean. Used coconut oil. I truly thought I wouldn’t be able to tolerate the oil in my mouth because I have a strong aversion to oily things, but it was okay. I didn’t see results outside of my mouth (aside from the pimple on my chin where the oil dripped) but I didn’t really keep up with it.

    The dry brushing is something I want to try, and also introduce to my 12yo who has sensory integration challenges- this could be a good addition to her sensory diet….in addition to the other benefits. Thanks for the link to the brush because I wouldn’t have had any idea what kind of brush to use!

    Love these alternative self-care ideas!

    • Marla
      July 4, 2012 | 11:48 am

      Thanks so much, Lesley! It IS amazing how clean oil pulling makes your mouth feel, isn’t it? I’d be interested to hear what benefits you experience if you try it again and do it over time. Please do let me know what you and your daughter think about the dry brushing – that is a WONDERFUL idea and side benefit with the sensory integration aspect of it! Lots of love and alternative self-care to you and your daughter too. <3

  5. Lisa Frideborg Lloyd
    July 3, 2012 | 7:20 am

    Thanks for the reminder, Marla. *note to self – get some organic cold pressed sesame oil at local health food shop* I have done both in the past and have no clue why I stopped…? O.O

    • Marla
      July 4, 2012 | 11:42 am

      Hi Lisa! Thank YOU! Hehehe… I’d stopped too until this ankle shiz and I have no idea why EITHER! Glad I could help get you back on the gently detoxing horse. <3

  6. Lindsay
    July 2, 2012 | 8:34 pm

    What great ideas! I actually have a dry skin brush (somewhere around here)- I heard about it from one of my favorite yoga websites, but I haven’t tried it in a long long time. I guess it’s time to bring it out again! And I’ve never heard of oil pulling, but it sounds fascinating. Can you only do it in the morning?

    • Marla
      July 4, 2012 | 11:31 am

      Hi there Lindsay! Thank you so much! What a great question. You just need to do it on an empty stomach, so first thing in the morning is easiest for most, but they also say that you can do it whenever in the day (some people do it multiple times a day) as long as it is 4 hours or so after eating and 1 hour or so after drinking anything. Hope that helps, love.

  7. Tanja
    July 2, 2012 | 3:29 pm

    Oh Marla, you’ve done it again, my dear – made me giggle insanely with your gorgeous cartoons and awesome humour!

    This is a well timed post for me because I’m finding my crazy woman-who-walks exercise patterns dwindling to almost nothing with everything that’s going on for me, and it’s frustrating the HELL out of me.

    I love the concept of dry skin brushing – lymphatic drainage is actually something I have major issues with in my ankles and calves (I *am* Balloon Lady), so I’d love to see if this helps with it.



    • Marla
      July 4, 2012 | 11:29 am

      Hey Tanja! I hope that you find lots of little ways to take care of yourself during this hard time – I know what an active gal you are and I can understand how it’s frustrating to have those patterns interrupted. I think you will love the dry skin brushing – it’s a very easy thing to slip into your routine without too much adjustment. Let me know what you think! Sending SO much love to you and your ankles that I’m sure are beautiful, balloony or not. xoxo

  8. Positive Sarah
    July 2, 2012 | 3:25 pm

    Euw! I know of some Ayurvedic practices – I’ve been boiled like a Christmas pudding in herbs and oils, had hot oil dripped on me for what felt like hours and also been chased around an Ayurvedic clinic with a herbal enema being promised that it would take ten years off me (it would take ten years off him if he got too close to my undercarriage with a vacuum tube) but I’ve never heard of oil pulling. I might give that a go if I’m feeling brave…

    • Marla
      July 4, 2012 | 11:24 am

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA SARAH YOU’RE CRACKING ME UP HERE. STOP ITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA. I bet you will like oil pulling – it can be something to get used to at first, but has so many benefits. And it is way more benign than having herbs shot up your ass!!!! mwah!!!!

  9. tokyotutti
    July 2, 2012 | 11:37 am

    so now we know you don’t always sing in the shower. i figured you started the day singing your heart out. :) thanks for the tips.
    to anyone who hasn’t had the honor of meeting marla in person: she does have insanely beautiful glowing skin and i’ve always wondered what her secrets were. what oil do you normally use, marla? i am not sure i can do it but i could try once.

    • Marla
      July 4, 2012 | 11:22 am

      YOU ARE SO GOOD TO ME. YOU have beautiful glowing skin yourself, you need none of my weirdo skin care routine but you know I would tell you about it anytime. THANK YOU SO MUCH. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Okay with the oil pulling I have used all different kinds over the years – I often switch types when the bottle runs out just to keep it exciting/change up the health benefits. My favorite is coconut oil (if you ever want some I can totally pick it up for you, just let me know). The original doc who started telling people to do this said only cold pressed sesame or sunflower seed oil, but I think they all work and so do lots of other people here: Lots of people have trouble with it at first and start with only a couple of minutes, then work their way up, so no biggie if you find it difficult. Also just FYI – the oil becomes totally tasteless really fast. <3 <3 <3

  10. Gina
    July 2, 2012 | 11:05 am

    Sending you lots of healing energy for your ankle! And whole body :) :) :).

    I can totally relate to the frustration of not working out…….I couldn’t workout for almost 3 weeks a few months ago when I broke my toe….and I also can’t work out like I used to bc of my health issue… ego and I have battled on that issue quite a few times in the past few years…..but I’m starting to be much more centered about it….. :)

    Love this post…….I dry brush regularly, but haven’t done the oil thing….20 minutes huh? sounds like a looooong time, but I’m going to try it……..thx Marla.

    • Marla
      July 4, 2012 | 11:14 am

      Hi sweetpea. Thank you so much. It is such an ego battle with injury/illness/exercise, huh? It really is a good exercise in surrender – so I guess we do get our exercise somehow. :) Glad to hear that you’re coming to a good place with it… I am working on it too. Let me know what you think about oil pulling. 20 minutes DOES seem like a long time at first, but you can totally work your way up to it and I swear, doing it in the shower while you’re doing other stuff makes it breeze right by. Happy 4th Gina! Big hugs!

  11. Arwen
    July 2, 2012 | 10:29 am

    Thank you. I actually have a dry brush that never gets used. It was a gift that I didn’t understand. :) I guess now I have to use.

    The oil thing? Hmmm it sounds beyond gross (I have an issue with spitting, lol), but I’m going to give it a whirl!

    • Marla
      July 4, 2012 | 11:12 am

      Hi there Arwen! I bet you will love the dry brushing – it’s a few minutes of time invested that totally gives back a ton. :) Let me know what you think about trying the ol’ OP… I don’t have a spitting thing BUT I did think it was nasty at first and totally got used to it. <3

  12. Kathleen
    July 2, 2012 | 6:29 am

    Hi Marla! How often do you do these things? The oil pulling does sound kind of gross but with so many benefits it may be worth it :)

    • Marla
      July 2, 2012 | 9:24 am

      Hi Kathleen! Hope you guys are enjoying summer so far! To answer your question, as often as possible. Dry skin brushing you can pretty much do anytime and get some benefit (though you get more with consistency)… from what I have read about oil pulling, it depends on what you want to use it for. If it’s just to maintain your health, then just as consistently as you can do it. If you’re looking to cure something acute, you should see results within 2-4 days. If you’re trying to cure something chronic, it can take up to a year of doing it every day. Please let me know if you try it and what you think!

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I'm Marla Hamilton, and this is my blog. I write it because I want to make it very easy for you to feel healthy and great about yourself.Read more about me here.
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