I have never had thick luscious hair, but have been able to rely on styling products and hair extensions to give me the look I want with no issues. After having my daughter, though, my postpartum hair loss felt more extreme and I panicked especially about the hair loss, especially close to my hairline. Hair extensions work well for length and volume, but once thinning and loss hit the hairline, it's time to consider some additional options. This is a big area of insecurity for me so I was on a mission to find some products that could help me out.
*Vegamour enters the chat*
I had seen posts raving about the products on social media, but wanted to do some more research myself. I was delighted to find that they are vegan, cruelty free, and don’t have all of the baddie ingredients we all hear about (sulfates, parabens, etc.). I am careful not only about what I use on my real hair, but my extensions as well (they’re expensive so I do not play around!). Luckily it seemed like these products were a good solution for both my natural hair and my faux locks.
For the past month I’ve been using The Everyday Kit, which includes GRO Revitalizing Shampoo, Conditioner, and Dry Shampoo. I’ve been very impressed with the results already. Here are my highlights:
These are now a staple in my haircare routine and I would recommend them to any postpartum mom who is going through the same thing. I am not still breastfeeding, but based on the ingredients these are products I would be comfortable using while breastfeeding and even while pregnant. Of course, talk to your doctor and make your own decision, but for me these get the stamp of approval.
I also want to mention, over the years I’ve had chats with many other women who have experienced thinning hair or hair loss during a time when their IBD was really bad. I went through this for years and know how much of a blow it can be to your confidence. If you fall in that bucket, this could be a haircare line for you to look into. Especially with the assurance of clean ingredients you can confidently use the products without worrying about scalp irritation or exacerbating any other skin condition (also common with IBD/autoimmune diseases).
When it comes to price point, the products are on par with other high end hair care brands. I feel good about making the investment in these, because I know exactly what I am getting thanks to the transparency around ingredients and IT ACTUALLY WORKS. Worth. Every. Penny. They also offer mini sizes (which you know I love) of the shampoo, conditioner, and dry shampoo. So if you want to try before grabbing the full size versions, that is an option.
You can take a deep dive into the science behind the products and their ingredients, here, and shop the full product line on their website.
Next up on my list to try is the GRO Hair Serum…
Antibiotic exposure is a risk factor that came up repeatedly during my time at Digestive Disease Week. I mentioned it in my recap of Pediatric IBD sessions, but there were many other sessions where it was a focus as well.
I surveyed my followers with IBD and about ⅓ of them said they think their onset of early IBD symptoms correlated with a time of heavy antibiotic usage. Of course, this isn’t a scientific study, but I thought it was interesting that this is a factor the IBD community can identify firsthand. The CDC has identified the overprescribing and improper use of antibiotics to be an issue in the United States. In a 2022 study, the CDC reported that at least 28% of all antibiotics prescribed in an outpatient setting were unnecessary. That is 28% of people unnecessarily exposed to a key IBD risk factor.
A lot of our country’s reliance on antibiotics as a first line of treatment can be linked back to the flaws within our healthcare system. Instead of focusing on an underlying issue, our culture is prone to immediately jumping on a “quick fix.” Providers are incentivized to see as many patients as possible. It is easier and quicker to write a prescription and send a patient on their way as opposed to taking a holistic look at the patient’s health to identify other potential causes for their symptoms. This isn’t to fault providers. There are many of them who wish to take a more holistic approach, but the way our healthcare system works doesn’t allow them to. Patients are not blameless in this either. As patients we are conditioned to have a medicine to fix just about everything. If we go to a doctor for a cold and they tell us to go home and get some rest, we leave grumbling about how we made the trip and made a copay just to be told to go home and get some rest. It is almost like we want them to unnecessarily tell us we have a sinus infection so we can get some antibiotics and feel like we are doing something to heal quicker. I have actually heard people leave urgent care complaining that they couldn’t get an antibiotic prescription and planning to just “go see another doctor until they get one.” Moving away from antibiotic overuse is a cultural shift. It can’t just be on the provider or patient side, it has to be a collaborative effort.
There also needs to be more openness in the discussion of natural (or non prescription remedies). So often if you mention a natural or holistic treatment, a provider will dismiss the suggestion. Of course sometimes these treatments are totally bogus and not worth your time, but in other scenarios they could have potential benefits with few to no downsides. For many of these holistic treatments, we are still lacking evidence based research that support them. It is responsible of a provider not to suggest something without supporting evidence, but it is also irresponsible for them to shut down the conversation altogether. With the CDC pushing us toward less antibiotic use, will there in turn be more money and research dedicated to other holistic treatments?
The last factor I want to touch on is insurance coverage for medications. So often, antibiotics are not only a seemingly “quick fix,” but also a cheap one. Insurance companies are more likely to cover antibiotics than they are any type of alternative treatment. Even if a doctor recommends something like acupuncture to help with sinus pain, it is not likely to be covered under many insurance plans. Do you know what is covered? That 7 day supply of an antibiotic to treat a “potential sinus infection.”
Again, I want to reiterate that this is not the fault of providers or the fault of patients. We as a society have gotten to this point and need to recalibrate on what is best for our country’s health as a whole. I am also a firm believer that antibiotics are 100% necessary in some situations. I will give my kids antibiotics if they need them. I take antibiotics when I need them. Antibiotics can save lives when used appropriately. Just like so many things in American culture, we have taken them to one extreme. If we can find a way to balance antibiotic use, I predict our society will see positive health benefits. To get there though, we have some big changes that need to be made.
Yesterday my podcast episode with Rebecca Raphael from Curio Wellness dropped. We chatted about using cannabis to help with GI symptoms (you can listen to it here). When I first got my medical marijuana card and walked into a dispensary I had absolutely no clue what to look for or what to ask. Over time I had conversations with my doctors and professionals who are knowledgeable about medical marijuana and got a lot more comfortable with the topic.
I wanted to pass along some tips for those of you who may be interested in utilizing medical cannabis. As always, please remember that I am not a medical professional so please do not take this as medical advice. Always consult with your provider before starting a new supplement or treatment. This disclaimer leads right into my first tip.
1. Talk to your doctor.
From my conversations with various GI providers about medical marijuana, the biggest take away is talk to them about it! They are not judging you and they genuinely want to know for important reasons. Just like any other herbal supplement it’s important to share with your provider so they can check for any potential interactions and track your symptoms. Also, providers can get a better idea of the impact of the other medications you are taking. For example, if an IBD patient is using medical cannabis and seeing symptom improvement, but not telling their provider this could cause confusion. The provider may attribute symptom improvement to another treatment they are on as opposed to the medical cannabis. It is important for providers to have a full picture of what you are doing to treat your symptoms so they can best advise and treat you. Just some of my own words of advice here: if you feel judged or shamed by your provider, it may be time to find a new one!
2. Find a reputable dispensary and ask them questions. That’s what they’re there for!
Dispensary staff are incredibly knowledgeable and many have a genuine passion for teaching others about cannabis. They are there to advise you on which products will meet your needs and can walk you through many different options. Especially when you are first starting out it can be hard to decipher the difference between strains, cannabinoids, terpenes, etc. (Rebecca Raphael from Curio Wellness does a great job breaking that down on this episode of the podcast.) They can make sure you get the best product for what you are looking for and the best consumption method for your situation.
3. Start slow - ease into it
If you are just starting out, don’t overdo it. There are many low dose cannabis products that can give you the desired effects without any impairment. The issue new users run into sometimes is forgetting that it can take a bit for the effects to kick in. If you are ingesting cannabis products or using them sublingually, they can take even up to two hours to really start working. If a patient is not aware of this, they may think their original dose is not working and consume more. This could cause them to feel unwanted effects like impairment. Cannabis dosing is different for everyone so start small and see what works for you. Just because your friend takes one amount doesn’t mean you will need the same dose.
4. Don’t be afraid to try different products
There are many different products on the market and an ever increasing number of new ones to try. Don’t be afraid to try a new product to see if it works for you. Your dispensary can help guide you as to which products are similar to ones you already use or which ones you may like. You may discover new product lines or symptom specific products that you didn’t know about before. Some, not all, dispensaries have refund or exchange policies to help offset the financial risk of trying a new product. Ask about this to see what your dispensary offers.
5. Keep an eye out for new research
As cannabis grows in popularity and becomes legal in more areas the research will continue to increase. There are many professionals dedicated to providing evidence based research on cannabis and are working hard to do so. Keeping up with the latest in cannabis news and research can alert you to new findings that may impact your use.
Medical cannabis is a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for a while now, but never actually did because I was scared of the backlash. You’d think that someone who talks about their bowel movements on a public platform, sharing my experience with medical marijuana wouldn’t cause any pause, but that wasn’t the case. Judgment around this topic can be brutal, especially in the mom community. As in most situations, judgment stems from fear and lack of education. I believe that if people were properly educated on the benefits and usage of medical cannabis the narrative would change. I think we are seeing the tides turning in that direction, and I hope to be a part of that. That is why I finally decided to start sharing my personal experience with medical marijuana. Seeing as education is paramount, I wanted to make sure I kicked off my discussion of this topic with someone who is an expert.
On this week’s episode of Crohnically Mom, I sat down with Rebecca Raphael, the Chief Revenue Officer at Curio Wellness to discuss all things cannabis. Curio Wellness is a Maryland based cannabis company devoted to providing safe, effective cannabis products. She gave a crash course in what you need to know if you are looking to give medical marijuana a try, we chatted about products that are best for GI conditions, and she debunked some common misconceptions about cannabis. She shared so many useful pieces of information that are great to know whether you choose to incorporate medical marijuana into your treatment program or not. We also got into topics like how to address judgment over your choice to use medical cannabis as well as how to talk to your kids about cannabis as it becomes more widely accepted. The conversation was incredibly valuable. As a mom Rebecca just GETS IT. Hearing the story of her and her family’s involvement with Curio was also so interesting to hear.
I specifically reached out to Curio Wellness to chat about this topic because they are the products I, personally, use the most. They have a whole line dedicated to GI symptoms, which we get into a lot of detail about on the podcast. These have been a game changer for me as I have navigated more severe Crohn’s symptoms over the past couple of months.
What I currently use from Curio Wellness are:
GI Comfort Tablets
The scoop: Each tablet has a minimal amount of THC so you can get the benefits without the impairment. These are meant to be taken twice daily for the management of GI symptoms related to GI disorders. These won’t do the trick if you are looking for immediate relief, but do help if you are consistent with taking them everyday! These I like to think of as the long game!
GI Stimulate Chews
The scoop: Each chew contains 20mg CBG and 5mg THC. These are designed to have a relaxing effect on the GI system. These are a game changer for GI pain. They help to calm stomach spasms, lessen gas pain, and ease my joint pain. They also make eating just more comfortable in general. For me the 5mg of THC can make me a bit sleepy so if I need one of these during the day I will usually just take half of a chew.
GI Soothe Tincture
The scoop: This is oil that you place under your tongue. Each dose has 5mg of THC as well as 5mg CBD and 5mg CBG. I personally love this to take instead of an anti nausea medication or to help calm stomach spasms. It was formulated specifically to help with nausea and it definitely does what it is supposed to do.
For more information on Curio Wellness you can visit their website, here.
You can listen to my chat with Rebecca on Crohnically Mom, here.
Recently I had the chance to sit down with Tamara Duker Freuman, registered dietician and GI nutrition expert. I interviewed her for my podcast, Crohnically Mom, and she provided helpful insight into navigating nutrition and IBD. You can listen to the interview here.
How I was introduced to Tamara was through her newest book “REGULAR”. It is one of the most helpful books about GI symptoms I have ever encountered. Many books focused on addressing GI symptoms focus on things you are doing wrong – the wrong diet, not getting enough sleep, eating “bad” foods, etc. This is demeaning for a reader, especially one with IBD. A lot of the time we have tried everything and it hasn’t worked so the generalized assumption that people with GI issues can “do something about it” is incredibly frustrating. “REGULAR” has a totally different tone that I would describe as empowering.
Tamara starts the book by providing a thorough, yet completely understandable, explanation of how your digestive system works. This is one of my favorite parts of the book and we were only in the first few pages. She breaks down the anatomy in a way that doctors rarely do during a 15 minute appointment or if they do, it usually isn’t communicated in a way that is, excuse my pun, digestible. This knowledge is so crucial because it allows someone experiencing GI symptoms to accurately explain to their doctor what they are experiencing. It also saves them from hours of Google research and perusing through unverified information. This is straight to the point, reliable information about what the heck is going on in your digestive tract.
After the helpful introduction, Tamara guides you through a quiz. The quiz allows you to answer questions about your symptoms and narrow down the chapters that could be most relevant to you. Most people are reading this book not for their interest in GI disorders, like me. They are looking for help, a solution. This quiz helps them get to the most relevant information quickly and because of that, I love this style of book for non-fiction reads. The chapters address a range of GI symptoms/issues from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to pelvic floor dysfunction, to Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
The IBD section was where I spent most of my time. I was looking forward to hearing Tamara’s recommendations, but I admit at first I was a bit nervous. Usually I get nervous reading any book that mentions “diet”. So often they are filled with unrealistic overhauls of your current lifestyle that put foods into categories of “good” and “bad”. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past, this can be very triggering and also just not helpful. “REGULAR” is refreshing as it doesn’t do either of these things. Tamara explains how foods navigate through your system and how they are absorbed. She never says “do not eat this.” Instead she suggests ways to make certain foods more tolerable (e.g. changing their consistency). You will hear in our conversation, how passionate in her practice Tamara is about providing customized nutrition counseling. She isn’t about just throwing a blanket “fix all” meal plan out there and hoping it works, so she doesn’t do that in “REGULAR” either.
Overall, this book is full of fresh takeaways even for someone who is not new to being a GI patient. Tamara’s approach is meant to leave the reader feeling empowered, whether it’s speaking to their provider, looking for answers to their symptoms, or exploring a type of food they always thought was out of reach. This will now be a “go to” recommendation from me for anyone suffering from a GI condition.
You can hear my in depth conversation with Tamara on this week’s episode of Crohnically Mom. You can also grab Tamara’s book, “REGULAR”, on Amazon.
Mental health advocate.
Sharing my raw and real journey through motherhood and navigating Crohn’s Disease. CrohnicallyBlonde is a place where I serve up my unfiltered commentary on chronic illness, mental health, pregnancy, and motherhood alongside lighter lifestyle content like beauty product reviews, travel tips, and book recommendations. My hope is that by authentically sharing my story I can help others going through similar situations not feel so alone and maybe even laugh along with me.