There are many good books on making natural body and hair care products. I personally like herbalist Rosemary Gladstone. Also Better Basics for the Home by Berthold-Bond, a book by a Canary on housekeeping, home repair, body care and more, has good recipes as well. It is pretty easy. MCS-America has a few great brochures about cleaning body and home. (See Resources.)

Natural does not mean safe. This is a mistake many recent converts to “green living” make. Canaries often cannot tolerate essential oils. Some studies have shown that lavender essential oil can harm a baby boy’s hormonal growth and that autistic children respond poorly to it, yet people tend to think lavender is the universal relaxation oil. Essential oils are very powerful. So are herbs in other forms. You wouldn’t want to inhale poison ivy smoke or eat acorns that haven’t been leached of their tannic acid.

You must respect the power of the plants. They can harm or heal. Used incorrectly you can poison someone. People have allergies. Some cause miscarriages. Some change blood pressure. A good rule many herbalists recommend is to find three sources that agree on the safe use of a natural remedy. People dedicate their whole lives to herbalism and still warn me that they do not know a lot so I need to use my best judgment. That is what I look for in a healer or doctor of any kind. I bought a face crème for my mother from a famous organic skin care line that many Canaries like. It turned her bright orange. The company refunded my money and said it was common with that product for fair skinned people. I wish their ad had said that. The beta carotene (from carrots) dyed my mother’s face. We use all natural skin and hair care products of course, but this illustrates how it’s not one size fits all.

I cannot use any product for sale at the health food store. They all have fragrance. I check products on the website EWG’s Skin Deep. It is a few years out of date, but they have more than 74,000 products on their data base. For each one they list the ingredients and their known health hazards. I was shocked that all my eco-friendly, natural, health food co-op stuff had to go. Greenwashing! (i.e. the marketing lie that a toxic product is eco-friendly and all natural and safe.) I passed out in the shower using health food store shampoo due to the fragrance. Our basics are Dr Bronner’s unscented castile soap diluted for hair and skin; hair rinse of lemon juice (hair should be a tad acidic and soap leaves a coating); organic sunflower oil or coconut oil on dry skin and hair ends; grapeseed oil on oily skin; a mix of organic corn starch with organic baking soda for powder/deodorant; homemade baking soda and myrrh tooth powder; and beeswax floss.

The dentist’s office – We have not successfully solved this problem. The only holistic dentist in the state seems geared to people who want to be unconscious with nitrous oxide, a Canary no-no, and having their teeth whitened. One Canary says he is OK for her because the air is filtered ever 20 minutes, but it’s not great. Holistic is a word that has no true meaning. One person brings her own fans and has them keep the windows open. The first appointment in the morning keeps you from fragrance worn by patients. Also ask when they clean and with what when scheduling an appointment. I have been blessed with good teeth and as they are one of the very few aspects of my health I knew I could control, I did, with regular flossing. We like the ultrasonic tooth scaling because it hurts less and I am going to see if we can bring our own toothpaste and floss for the hygienist’s cleaning. I am not concerned about the metal fillings I got as a child now because removing them exposes me to far more harmful toxins than leaving them be. I have also had dentists tell me that the white ones need to be replaced every ten years and so it is a financial commitment. Yet some Canaries have had the removal of their filling truly change their quality of life for the better – If they saw someone who specialized in that. That is the key. Don’t let anyone mess with metals in your mouth unless it is their specialty and come highly recommended. Canaries that had that procedure done by someone not good at it have ended up sick for years afterwards. Err on the side of caution.

As all toothpastes are toxic (Tom’s of Maine was bought by Palmolive), here are some common Canary suggestions: olive oil, sea salt, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide. Dentists have told me that since toothpaste is only on your teeth for a moment, it is mostly useless. Brushing and flossing is what counts. Many Canaries love electric toothbrushes and the ones for children often do not have dyed bristled. Floss is often toxic, so I use beeswax silk biodegradable floss. Myrrh powder added to yout tooth powder helps with periodontal disease.

Glad rags are reusable menstrual pads and they come in different sizes and some are made of organic cotton. I find them very easy to use and only need the panty liner due to having light menses. There are other brands in the Resources. They also can be used if you are cut and need to stop the bleeding. Many of the products I use can be found at a good price online at or I would like to shop locally, but the health food store is actually the most toxic place in town for me! And I cannot get out of their building due to having a walker. Standing with my mask on, feeling faint, repeatedly yelling “Can someone open the door for me?” in a “health food” “community” store just doesn’t work for me.