Fohm unit

The IBS Warrior’s Guide For Using Adult Wipes

Although no one really wants to talk about disposing of adult wipes, it’s a large problem and growing larger every day. I first became aware of the implications of their use when adult wipes and those for small children were identified as a major cause of fatbergs and as killers of marine life.  A more in-depth look found they are also a waste of good trees and a source of possibly carcinogenic ingredients.

In the never-ending search for new markets, companies expanded their lines of baby wipes several years ago to make adult wipes for normal cleaning after going to the bathroom. The corporations then expanded further into disposable wipes for hemorrhoid sufferers, so-called “feminine” wipes and for folks with sensitive skin, too.

As a person with irritable bowel syndrome, I was a perfect customer for the new adult wipes consumer segment. Although I was using so many disposable wipes each day we bought them by the case, I didn’t think much about it–except I decided I would not flush them down our toilet despite label assurances it was all right. Frankly, this was to prevent a clogged toilet more than protecting sewer systems, not creating fatbergs or protecting sea creatures.

Don’t Flush Wipes Even If The Package Says You Can

If you use just one adult wipe after going to the bathroom and flush, that single wipe won’t clog your toilet or likely even the larger pipes that connect your house with the main sewer lines. The issue arises when wipes enter the main sewer system. Sewer lines, especially in older neighborhoods, will have tree roots growing into them at the joints. These roots spread into the sewer pipe to form a web. This mesh of roots will allow liquids to pass but not something as large and impermeable as a wipe. Toilet paper is made to dissolve quickly and does not usually cause an obstruction.

Even if wet wipes make it through the sewer pipes, they can still create problems when they arrive at the sewerage treatment plant. The industrial pumps there can be damaged and overheat because of fibrous wet wipes. Of course, the cost of repairing or replacing these pumps is paid by taxpayers.

Even National Public Radio weighed in on the subject.

This Green Way to Wipe Is A Winner

As a member of the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network and someone who uses adult disposable wipes, I was recruited to test and write about a new way to clean my bottom. I was attracted to the idea of using only toilet paper and still getting as clean as I was with wipes. In exchange for my honest evaluation, I received one of the units–a retail cost of $49 when ordered from the manufacturer’s website.

My first impression was positive. The unit took up less space than the package of wipes and was much more attractive. I also liked that the cleanser was pH balanced, fragrance-free and did not contain harmful parabens. Set-up was easy.

The next issue was how much of the foam cleaner to dispense at a time. The dispenser unit provides two options. The first is a 10 mL flow and the other dispenses 25 mLs. After a few attempts, I quickly learned that the 10 mL flow was perfect and that I needed more than two squares of paper if I wanted to prevent tearing and dissolving. Trial and error resulted in a “Goldilocks” combination of 10 mLs of Fohm on three squares of doubled over toilet paper. I show this combination in the video below.


I tried my new adult “disposable” wipe with two different brands of toilet paper–a double-ply premium and a budget-friendly two-ply brand–with similar results. Both held the Fohm long enough for one or two passes before disintegrating. Knowing I can dispose of the used Fohm wipes in the toilet makes the environmentalist in me very happy.

As the company says on its website, “Fohm is what you end up with when you create a user experience that’s built for adults on toilets, and not try to repurpose a product designed for babies in diapers.” 

I quickly came to prefer the new Fohm dispenser over adult disposable wipes. So much so that I ordered more cleanser within the first week. I guess I’ll have to repurpose what’s left of that case of adult wipes in my basement.
Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions.


chips aisle in supermarket

New Study: Processed Foods Increase Mortality

As readers of this blog can attest, I have a lot to say about the nutritionally inadequate and poisonous standard American diet and lifestyle. Today, a seven-year study published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that eating highly processed foods appears to be associated with a 14% higher mortality.

There’s an ever-increasing amount of evidence that frequently eating processed foods is associated with chronic diseases like high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, and cancer. However, this is the first study to look at processed food consumption and mortality.

Highly Processed Food Not Healthy

Highly processed foods include ready-to-eat foods like packaged snacks, sugary drinks, breads, candies, ready-made meals, and processed meats with little nutritional value. frozen food supermarket aisleThese have a high-calorie content along with being low in fiber and high in carbohydrates (including added sugar), saturated fats, unhealthy additives like artificial coloring and chemical preservatives, and large amounts of salt.

Popular because they are seen as affordable, easy to prepare and resist spoiling, these foods are also intensively marketed and prominently displayed in supermarkets.

The research was conducted in France where the EU does not allow genetically modified organisms and many of the pesticides found in most nonorganic American processed foods.

Researchers obtained mealtime data from 44,551 adults. Almost three-quarters of the study group were women having a mean age at the study’s start of 56.7 years.

According to the French study, for every 10% increase in highly processed foods in the diet, the risk of dying from any cause increased by 14%.* Participants were already in the French NutriNet-Santé Study, an ongoing, nationwide, web-based nutritional study that began in May 2009. The researchers conducted follow-up through December 15, 2017. Food intake information was recorded using 24-hour dietary recalls.

Processed Food Makes Up 30% of French Diet vs. 60% of American Diet

The diet questionnaires asked for information on what foods were typically eaten at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and also what snacks were eaten. There were validated photos so participants could accurately report portion size. Based on the responses, highly processed foods accounted for about 30% of French respondents total daily intake.

highly processed breakfast cerealsThis is in stark contrast to the standard American diet. A 2016 study found highly processed food accounting for almost 60% of calories (57.9%), and almost 90% of calories (89.7%) from added sugars. The extra sugar in ultra-processed foods is eight times higher than in minimally processed food and processed ingredients used to make food (2.4 and 3.7% respectively) added together.

The data analysis adjusted for potential things that could have skewed results. These confounders included age, gender, income, educational level, marital status, urban or rural residence, physical activity level, smoking status, alcohol intake, calorie intake, first-degree family history of cancer/cardiovascular disease, number of 24-hour dietary records completed, the season in which dietary recalls were done, and the overall nutritional quality of the diet.

Food Coloring, Preservatives Plus Added Salt and Sugar Raise Chronic Disease Risk

Researchers stated that food additives (like coloring and preservatives), in addition to the high salt, high sugar, and low fiber content of highly processed foods, contribute to an increased risk for chronic diseases that ultimately leads to the increased mortality risk found in this study.

Adjusting for an overall healthy diet (as estimated by following French national recommendations) made the association between ultra-processed foods and death weaker but did not remove it. This suggests that a healthy diet plays a part in reducing the observed 14% greater risk of death.

Please look at the Resources section of this blog to find links to websites I used to increase my health despite being disabled by a complex and devastating multi-system disease that causes dysfunction of the neurological, immune, endocrine, and energy metabolism systems. Read all about this disease by clicking on the link above.

* Hazard ratio per 10% increment, 1.14; 95% confidence interval, 1.04 – 1.27;P = .008


Eucalyptus Oil Is Perfect For Colds, Flu and Other Uses

Eucalyptus essential oil (EO) smells like the rub Mom used to put on your chest when you had a cold or the flu. It still works wonders.

Did you know that homemade disinfectants, hand sanitizers and mouthwashes made from eucalyptus EO will minimize exposure to the toxic chemicals found in many over-the-counter products? But before I get into how to make these inexpensive, effective household products, let’s review some background.

The eucalyptus tree is native to Australia, where it is the preferred food for Koalas, but is now found around the world. Aboriginal Australians crushed and then soaked eucalyptus leaves to make medicine and used the bark for everything from canoes to bowls.

A eucalyptus tree was brought back from Tasmania to the British Museum in London In 1777 at which time it was given a scientific name. There are more than 500 species of eucalyptus now. However, only a few are used to make the essential oil–Eucalyptus odorata and Eucalyptus globulus. The colorless essential oil is obtained through complex extraction processes that involve either distilling or cold-pressing the eucalyptus leaves.

Six Ways Eucalyptus Oil Works

Eases upper respiratory irritation and congestion

Besides doing battle against microbes, eucalyptus can reduce redness and swelling. Researchers at Zhejiang University in China found that eucalyptus oil hinders the body’s toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) response, a reaction that produces cytokines that lead to irritation and swelling. By limiting these TLR4 reactions, eucalyptus oil may boost your immune system, allowing your body to heal more quickly and efficiently.

Effective against many common cold germs

Eucalyptus oil placed in a petri dish along with various microbes was effective against virus and bacteria species that cause cold sores, fever, acne, and sore throat.  One of the main components of eucalyptus oil, 1,8-cineole, is a natural monoterpene also found in tea tree oil and rosemary–both are potent antivirals and antibacterials. Isolated 1,8-cineole is less effective than the oil itself, which supports a common finding in natural medicines–an entourage effect in which the various components work together to be more effective.

Fights bad breath and tooth decay

Eucalyptus globulus has antibacterial effects against mouth microbes linked to tooth decay and is more effective at preventing the growth of bacterial biofilm than commercial-grade fluoride.  Eucalyptus flavored chewing gum helps with bad breath, also known as halitosis.

Fights ringworm & other skin/nail fungus infections

Brazilian researchers found that the high concentration of the compound 1,8-cineole fights harmful organisms that can infect the skin of humans, cats, and dogs. Eucalyptus oil also naturally repels nail fungus, making a great foot soak.

Soothes dry scalp and nourishes hair

According to research in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, hair products with eucalyptus help improve bounce and elasticity, starting at the roots.  The healing properties of eucalyptus also help with an itchy scalp by boosting the production of ceramides, lipids that help form the skin’s barrier and help skin retain moisture. Reduced flakiness and irritation, as well as improvements in hair gloss and hair fiber properties, were seen regardless of race, age, or gender.

Combats resistant head lice  

Some lice species are resistant to traditional treatments like permethrin-based head lice shampoos. However, recent research published in Phytomedicine found that eucalyptus essential oil is an effective treatment for head lice. There was one reported case of a preschooler who developed seizures after treatment with eucalyptus, so always test a skin patch to rule out an allergic reaction.

Six Thrifty and Effective Ways

To Use Eucalyptus Oil

Inhale for chest and sinus congestion

Add boiling water to a medium size heat-safe bowl and add 5-10 drops each of eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils.

Place a towel over the top of your head and the bowl and inhale the vapors for a few minutes.

You can get a similar effect by placing a few drops of eucalyptus and rosemary oil in your hot shower. The oils will naturally rise with the heat of the water, entering your nose, throat, and lungs for an invigorating lift. If you prefer, replace rosemary with peppermint essential oil.

Make your own vapor rub

Mix 3-5 drops each of eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils with an eighth of a cup of either raw shea butter or organic coconut oil in a small bowl.

Spread on your chest to feel the warmth and breathe in the vapors.

Any leftover rub can be transferred to a clean glass container for safe storage. Use dark glass for optimal shelf life.

BONUS: This mixture also can be used on aching muscles and joints.

hand-repelling-germsHand sanitizer without chemicals or alcohol

Fill three-fourths of a small (4 oz.) spray bottle with distilled water.

Add one tablespoon aloe vera gel, 10 drops each of eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, and clove essential oils, plus 20 drops of either lemon, orange or grapefruit essential oil.

Shake before each use and spray your hands or hard surface two or three times. You may want to test this on an inconspicuous place before using on a table or countertop to avoid possible discoloration.

Effective mouthwash and toothpaste

Mix two drops each of eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils plus two teaspoons baking soda in a medium-sized (8-oz) airtight bottle filled with distilled water.

Shake, then gargle with a mouthful.

Rinse mouth out completely.

You can also brush your teeth with baking soda mixed with a couple of drops of eucalyptus and any other favorite essential oil, such as peppermint or spearmint.

DIY insect repellent

Add 3-5 drops each of lavender, lemon, and eucalyptus oils to 8 oz. of distilled water.

A plastic spray bottle works fine but a dark-colored glass bottle will keep the oils potent longer.

Shake before each use.

Non-toxic air freshener

Mix half a cup of baking soda (or coffee beans) in a small container with a few drops of eucalyptus oil.

Add a few more drops of eucalyptus oil to your mixture when the scent fades.

Cautions When Using Essential Oils

Essential oils are extremely concentrated, and therefore you should always take precautions when using eucalyptus or any essential oil due to their potency and strength. Most essential oils can irritate if placed directly on the skin or hair, so it’s important to dilute them with a carrier oil like almond, jojoba, olive or coconut oil before using. Essential oils should never be used on an open wound. Only food-grade essential oils should be taken internally. Unless your healthcare provider recommends it, avoid using eucalyptus oil with young children.

Eucalyptus oil is an effective and beneficial essential oil that has a long history of use for congestion-related ailments from bronchitis to asthma and for relieving symptoms typical of a cold or flu. It can also be used in everything from hand sanitizers and deodorants to mouthwash and conditioner, thanks to all of its antiseptic, antibacterial, and inflammation-reducing properties.

For these and many other reasons, eucalyptus essential oil should be part of your natural medicine chest.

Have you tried eucalyptus essential oil before? Any uses I haven’t covered or good/bad experiences you care to share with other readers?


Organic Food Slashes Cancer Risk

A new study of almost 69,000 people finds a significant reduction in the risk of developing cancer among people who eat an organic diet. Lymphomas, the cancers commonly found in people with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome), were reduced by a whopping 76%. The risk reduction is 86% for Non-Hodgkins lymphomas. Overall cancer risk was reduced by 25% when compared to people who never consume organic foods.

The study gathered data from 68, 946 French organic food consumers between 2009 and 2016. Participants reported their consumption frequency of labeled organic foods (never, occasionally, or most of the time). 

The research team hypothesized that lower exposure to pesticide residues on food is the reason for the dramatic decrease in cancer. This is supported with a body of research showing that organic crops have lower levels of pesticide residues, and that eating organic food decreases your exposure to pesticides.


This is the first study on such a large scale to find such clear support of organic foods. The well-designed study allowed the research team to follow up with the 68,946 participants over several years to see how their food choices impacted cancer risk, while controlling for confounding variables like dietary patterns and other lifestyle factors.

Research-Based Support For Organics

Research linking organic diets with a lower impact on health is becoming more common.

  • One study of just over 35,000 Norwegian women found mothers who ate organic food during pregnancy decreased the risk of certain uro-genital birth defects.
  • Other research on reproduction found that eating fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues was associated with a lower total sperm count and a lower percentage of normal-looking sperm among men presenting to a fertility clinic. 
  • Eating high–pesticide residue fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower probability of clinical pregnancy and live birth in a study done at a fertility clinic associated with a teaching hospital. Compared with women who ate less than one serving/day of non-organic fruits and vegetables, women eating more than two servings/day had an 18% lower probability of pregnancy and a 26% lower probability of live birth.

There is no disputing that cancer is becoming an epidemic in the US. It is diagnosed in new patients over a million times per year and is estimated to kill over 600,000 people in 2018 alone.

It just makes sense to do whatever we can to reduce our risk of cancer. Eating organically is, in my opinion, the hands-down simplest way to do this. But what about you? Is eating organic beyond the limits of your food budget?

flu still life

What To Know About Flu, Colds & Chronic Illness

Since so many of us with chronic illnesses stay at home most of the week, we aren’t exposed to the upper respiratory germs that people in the workplace run across daily*. Additionally, many chronic illnesses also include an immune system dysfunction.

It can be a shock to find out a family member, friend or caregiver has passed along a bug that hits you hard. Suddenly your nose starts to run, your throat is a bit scratchy and you may even feel overheated. Do you have the dreaded flu or a cold?

Many people think a fever occurs only with flu, but there is a huge overlap between non-flu viruses and those produce by classic influenza. That said, there are some predictable differences between the two contagious illnesses.



Common Cold

Other Viral


Quick, An Hour or Less

Several Days of Increasing Symptoms

Can Be Within Hours


Dry, Nonproductive

Wet, Produces Mucous




Body Aches

Like You Were Run Over by a Truck

Slightly to Moderately Increased

Head Congestion


Severe, Often Sinuses Inflamed

Sore Throat


Often With Swollen Neck Glands

GI—Nausea, Diarrhea, Stomach Ache




Just about everyone in the medical community, as well as many bloggers, say it’s crucial everyone get a flu vaccination—preferably before the end of October. The flu shot’s effectiveness can vary from about 50% to 90% depending on how well vaccine manufacturers determined which strain of flu would be most active in the 2018-19 Flu Season.

Experts say that even if the vaccine is only 30-40% effective someone with it will have a quicker and easier time getting over the flu. Another reason frequently discussed is that vaccinations save lives. The rationale is that by vaccinating yourself, you’ll be much less likely to acquire and spread it to at-risk groups.

But say you are one of the millions of people with a compromised immune system. What to do? This was the subject of a recent, very long thread on the subject on a Facebook group I frequent for people with ME/CFS.

By the time the thread closed, there was no clear consensus. People spoke about how many months (usually three to four) they took to recover from flu and swore they would never go without a vaccination again. Others said they were down for three to four weeks with immune system activation after receiving a vaccination for flu.

Personally, I use the Mayo Health System. Inexplicably, Mayo still recommends the discredited results of an infamous research study–graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the primary treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome. Sadly, it does not list myalgic encephalomyelitis as a disease or condition.

I have a Masters in Nursing Science and worked as a Nurse Practitioner in South Carolina, Colorado, and Wisconsin before contracting this damn disease (ME/CFS). I do my own research and, since Mayo still clings to outdated and erroneous recommendations based on the highly flawed PACE Trial in the UK, I make up my own mind as far as my own health issues go.

So, as I have done many times in the past when faced with a decision, I wrote out the pros and cons.



May help hubby, on O2 for COPD, avoid getting the flu

May trigger extended (2-4 wks) immune system reaction

Maybe bedridden for months if I get the flu

I have not had flu since contracting ME, actually not since I was a young woman

Chronically ill with a disease that began with a coxsackievirus infection

I am seldom ill from community-acquired infections, even when I was not homebound

I am chronically ill with a disease that began with a coxsackievirus infection, some specialists believe a subclinical enterovirus infection is at the root of ME

As Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH wrote in response to a question asking if flu vaccination making autoimmune diseases worse, “The CDC and other experts generally recommend that people with autoimmune diseases get the seasonal flu vaccine. This is because people with autoimmune conditions are at higher risk of having flu complications, and it’s estimated that the overall risk of being harmed by the flu is higher than the small risk of developing an autoimmune exacerbation related to the vaccine.

People with autoimmune conditions should not get the live attenuated flu vaccine. (But that one is not recommended in the US this year, anyway.)

I think there are certainly some doctors who believe it’s risky for people with autoimmune issues to get the flu shot. I was not able to find much scientific evidence regarding the risk, however, so I’m not sure we really know what the risk is.

I would recommend you discuss your questions regarding the likely benefits and risks of flu vaccination with your own doctors. You may want to discuss this question with a rheumatologist, as they may have a better understanding of the guidelines and research evidence on this topic.

Good luck!”

I respect Dr. Kernisan and so if she could find no contradictions for a person with a (presumed) autoimmune disease receiving an annual flu vaccination, I can’t argue with it.

I will be doing a 16-day Buddhist practice for my health starting this weekend. Not wanting a possible reaction to immune system triggering from the vaccine during this time of prayers and meditation, I will not get vaccinated until after the retreat finishes on November 5th.

I’ll let you all know if I have any sort of reaction to the vaccination. But what about you? Have you had a reaction to flu shots? Do you get an annual flu vaccination?

*I’m talking about folks who are deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration. If you are in the process of applying for disability or have just been denied benefits, there is an excellent post on how to appeal a disability denial as well as a host of other valuable information. Check it out on this website