Archives for January 2013

Big Bad Corn

If you are trying to shift some weight, or having health problems due to your immune system being compromised, then the first thing you need to modify in your day to day eating habits is your sugar intake. Know this: pure sugar is better than artificial sugar. And pure sugar is much better than corn syrup, also known as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). But do we really need any of those things? Can’t we just eat some fruit, and use pure raw honey, Xylitol, Rice syrup and Stevia as sweeteners instead? That’s what I’ve been doing. That, and a lot of cleansing with raw vegetable and fruit juices (with some of the pulp left in – for fibres sake). And you know, once you break the waist-bulging-grind of the daily sugar fix, there’s room for some sugar. Mindful sugar, I call it.

Below is an infographic explaining the theory behind HFCS turning up in the ingredients list of nearly every confectionary bar, cake, biscuit, soft drink, and takeaway burger on the market. This is just for your information, because information is power, and power is something we need to take back from the food corporations. I’ve taken to making my own treats, which I’ll be posting under the Paleo tab, above this post, later in the week. But for now, just know that I’m a big believer in Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar series of ebooks, and now, also available in an old-fashioned paper book as well. I love her philosophies so much so, I’ve become an affiliate re-seller, and I’ll be linking to them throughout my paleo posts from now on. You probably don’t need these books to get sugar and HFCS out of your life, but they’re a great kickstart to creating a life without sugar—especially if you’re a sugar addict and you feel you’ve lost control. (I’ll blog more about my sugar journey later, but for now, also know that I’m a die-hard-sugar-addict/hypocrite, I eat mass quantities of chocolate whenever I need to. It’s what I do, but I always buy good quality organic chocolate, and at least I’m living by that ol’ rule of 80/20: eat healthy eighty percent of the time, while eating what I want the other twenty! And all I want that’s naughty is chocolate!)

                                                                                                  Source: via The-Labyrinth on Pinterest

Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Cookbook

I Quit Sugar

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Organic Farm Photo Essay

The time when I lived on an organic farm at Newham, Hanging Rock, is one of the fondest memories to be found anywhere within my retrospective treasure chest of old. For, not only did my quality of life improve, and I miraculously improved with most of my sensitivities to chemicals, but I was able to fulfil a dream of mine: living off the land! Now, I stretch the truth here, because by ‘living off the land’, I mean we grew our own vegetables, which we ate; our ducks laid eggs, which we cooked with; but the rabbits, sheep, chickens, horse, lizard, birds and dogs, were all pets—we didn’t eat any of them. (I know: How very unPalaeolithic of me!)

My days were spent gardening, digging in compost, creating no-dig garden beds, and taking care of the animals (in between those, I studied online, and worked volunteer for AESSRA)

My days were spent gardening, digging in compost, creating no-dig garden beds, and taking care of the animals (in between, I studied Business Admin online, and worked as volunteer for AESSRA)

Was it really so miraculous that I recovered, considering what a clean lifestyle I was living? Even the house was amazingly clean (by clean, I mean free of chemicals): there was no chipboard (which is a particle board type of wood, used in most modern kitchens, and in the manufacturing of furniture; and it’s made using glues, containing one of the nasty chemicals in the news at the moment: formaldehyde) in the house—at all. There were some brand new Ikea shelving units out in the garage; yet, for the first time since I’d been tested and diagnosed as sensitive to chemicals (formaldehyde, being one of them) I had no upper respiratory symptoms while breathing around them, not that I hung out a lot in my garage, anyway! (And that was a feat, because in the last rental house in Portsea, we had to seal the underneath of the cabinets with foil (This was suggested by one of my treating specialists because of the health problems I experienced with that particular brand new kitchen.) This recovery happened in 2009, five years after my diagnosis in 2004; my symptoms started in 2003, so it’s not like I recovered overnight, but I did recover! And it happened here, in this amazing house…

(Below is a photo of the cottage before it was renovated; it was featured on the cover of couple of catalogues for the Woodend, Mt Macedon Ranges Tourism Information Centre. The extension included a kitchen, single garage, and another bedroom— mostly from recycled and natural materials, but, with the integrity of the architectural era of the cottage’s style kept intact, it still looked like this, just wider.)

Source: via The-Labyrinth on Pinterest

And, there was no chlorinated town water; all our water came from the Mt Macedon underground spring. The spring water travelled through two filters before reaching our taps, via a rainwater tank that also collected rainwater. (I have a blog coming up about an accident I had with pool chlorine, where the wind blew some in my face, which I then inhaled through the left side of my nose, sneezed it out, then copped some stinging and a rash for a couple of days; this happened three months before any sensitivities or ‘allergies’ to chemicals occurred. I’m still not sure if chlorine is a problem (or whether it ‘injured’ me in some way, or sensitised me to chemicals; however, it’s hard not to focus on it as a missing link (You know, get rid of all the chlorine in my life, and I’ll be cured, right?) But I’ll blog about this another time. Just know this: I’m not convinced chlorine is a problem. I think it might be more a problem of the level of many groups of chemicals in my body at one time. That’s the theory I’m running with today! But when I get the chance, I’ll try living without it for a week or two and see how I go—not an easy thing to do in the city (By this, I do not mean that I won’t shower for a week, I mean living somewhere where there is only filtered rainwater on tap!)

The property had a spa bath, not that that was on my list of requirements when looking for a suitable rental property for someone sensitive to chemicals, but it was so, so sooo lovely to be able to soak in epsom salts after a hard day’s work in the garden. With mud caked skin, climbing into that tub, surrounded by the hue of beeswax candle’s flames flickering as if to mingle and dance with the torrents of steam rising out of the tub, I was in heaven. Up above, on the ceiling was a roof window, where on a clear night, I could see the stars. (From. In. The. Bathtub!) And [insert excited girly voice], for the first time in years, I was able to use products like these, not the unscented versions that I use now, but the ones with actual (pure organic) essential oils. (If you’ve never been chemically sensitive, along with having to avoid all scents, natural or otherwise, you may not be able to appreciate the beauty of laying in a warm tub of water, inhaling the scent of rose geranium and sandalwood, and feeling as if you are finally home after a long, tiresome journey. (One where you’ve had to wear a mask around everything, while trying to avoid breathing in everything (which is impossibly difficult and stressful.).)

If you look at the top right hand corner of this pic, you can see a part of the glass ceiling

If you look at the top right hand corner of this pic, you can see a part of the glass ceiling

The two bedroom cottage, which had previously been used as Bed and Breakfast holiday accommodation (I think it was called ‘Picnic Cottages’), had all hardwood floors, doors, archways, and window frames—some of them had been recycled. This old cottage had been remodelled with such love, care and home-and-country style, that, only the photos I’m about to share with you can explain just how special this house was!  Notice the roof windows in the kitchen, and the glass ceiling in the sitting room, where the stone fireplace is. We sealed the interior of the fireplace with a foil blanket, so as to not have old woodsmoke remains, outgassing into the house, or leave the chimney open as a point of entry for woodsmoke, if it happened to be smoky outside. The windows were double glazed; and the insulation within the house, and underneath the floors, was made from wool: in winter, the house stayed warm all by itself right up until 9 pm each night!

Horses, rabbits, ducks, chickens, pigeons, cockatiels, dogs, a sheep and a lizard became members of our ever-increasing brood. My daughter, also presented as the ‘Bindi Irwin of Sorrento’ at her grade six graduation, by her teachers, two years previously, became even more of a let’s-bring-every-single-animal-home-and-see-if-mum-lets-me-keep-it type of child. With all the wild animals she kept bringing home, only to be coerced into releasing them again, there was only one responsible thing left for me to do: persuade her into applying for a Wildlife licence!

Bindi Irwin, aka Cas

Bindi Irwin, aka Cas (photo used with full permission)

Another Blue-tounge lizard, one of many bought home, and then, reluctantly, realised back into the wild

Another Blue-tounge lizard, one of many bought home, and then, reluctantly, realised back into the wild


My daughter's first licensed wildlife reptile, Nidhogg (his name is taken from Norse Mythologies’ dragon of the same name)

My daughter’s first licensed wildlife reptile, Nidhogg (his name is taken from Norse Mythologies’ dragon of the same name)

Hamish, the sheep, Benny, the horse, and the rabbits came with the property; this was on the condition that we take care of them, and call the owners if we no longer wanted them. Cas begged me to take the property; it was no longer about Mum’s sensitivities and her desperate need for clean air. No, it was about the animals!

So yeh, we were so lucky, and even luckier because the owners understood about environmental sensitivities, and made a few—but luckily, I didn’t need many—accommodation adjustments: one door that had been treated with Estapol, and two cupboard doors, which needed painting, had to be removed from the property, which wasn’t a problem for these amazing people. So, in every way, this place was absolutely the best place for me to be. It was perfect…

I could walk in the rain, down into gullies, near running creaks: I could smell damp soil, but it wasn’t overpoweringly strong, nor was it hurting me to inhale the smell or the spores through my nose. It didn’t cause sinus pain, or any other symptoms. Mould was no longer effecting me. Hence, being able to hangout, nursing and nourishing my compost bins (a stall of three, all one cubic meter in size). (I have developed the most perfect compost recipe; and it’s my goal in life to be able to revel in making it once again.) (If I could choose between my love of shoes and my love of all things gardening, I’d choose gardening!)

We climbed Hanging Rock at least three times a week. And I walked the back tracks surrounding Newham, Kerrie, and Woodend for two hours everyday: a one hour stroll in the morning fresh air, and again with my daughter after school when the kangaroos were always hanging about in large groups. Newham was so peaceful, barely a car on the road, or the dirt tracks; gum trees nestled around us, shrouding us in old-growth and wisdom, while the local Kookaburras laughed us into harmonious country strolls in the evenings. Our two Pomeraniums, husband, and wife, Bouba and Butchy, chased rabbits they could never, ever catch, collecting prickles in their fur as they went.

Bouby and Butchy: Pomeranian, Wife and Husband, terrors of the bush!

Bouby and Butchy: Pomeranian, Wife and Husband, terrors of the bush!

Here, my daughter and I became friends for the first time; before she entered into the turbulence tunnel of teenager-hood; and after our life, perhaps, a tad more difficult than most people’s: Since my daughter was seven she’s had a hands on roll with the shopping, and many other ‘adult’ tasks and errands, so life has not been easy, she’s grown well into it; however, living on this farm gave us both far more freedom, fun and relaxation than we had ever dreamed of… And, Cas mastered horse riding, while I overcame my deep, long-held fear of horses! (And I’ll always have Benny to thank for this, he was the kindest, gentlest, yet tallest horse, I’d ever ridden. He was part Clydesdale, so that accounted for his size, but he was so damn friendly, who could resist that charm‽)

Here, Benny is getting his weekly wash and groom. Cas, my daughter is minuscule standing behind him. (Note: the chair she needed to reach him.)

Here, Benny is getting his weekly wash and groom. Cas, my daughter is minuscule standing behind him. (Note: the chair she needed to reach him.)

Now, Hamish, the sheep was a special guy. Definitetly part human, but also very temperamental. He was bit of a Ram; his horns were removed when he was young, but he still developed ‘Ram’ behaviour, and that’s what he chose to do, on occasion: ram! Cas thought it was funny, and she’d tackle him and make him stop; she had him trained. But Hamish had me trained too. Trained to run! Every time he was close to me, he had a go at ramming me. On his hierarchal scale of all living things on the farm, I was way below him, and all I could do was climb up onto the nearest fence or car bonnet. I think my fear of horses transmuted over to male sheep! But bless him, after I moved out, I found out he’d stared in this movie, on the same property! (There were two houses on this five acre property, and the bigger one was rented by someone else. I’ll blog about this later too; it’s important, because this experience with this neighbour was how I became so awesome at tackling local councils.)

Now, I’ll leave you with this clip, Hamish – Short Film, winner of The Hope Awards 2008, Sony Tropfest. Our Hamish was the star, along with Claire his owner/mother/carer. It’s a great little film.

I felt sad watching it, because I miss this place so much! But, at the same time, I’m filled with heart-tugging gratitude for having had the opportunity to live, and experience a rich and full country life, and to have recovered from chemical sensitivities while I was there. And, just sharing this with you, reminds me that it’s all so doable once again (Oh, what impending doom‽)



here’s to finding my way back to that same peaceful, healthy, equilibric, metaphorical place once again.

Somewhere different this time, but if I can follow the same philosophies, heed the same cues, and, chuck out the old, ready for the new, then the path up ahead, leading out of the labyrinth of chemical sensitivities, lays bare and waiting…

(More, on the subject of change, and moving on: How leaving attachment to things allow doors to open ♥ from my lovely and supportive friend, author, Michelle Cashmore, over at one of her many blogs: Calm Amidst Chaos)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

The Human Experiment (are you in?)


“What if the greatest chemical disaster of our time is not an oil spill or a nuclear meltdown?” What if it’s toxic chemicals in the products we use everyday on our bodies, in our homes, and outside?” The Human Experiment

This documentary, by KTF films, is about the extremely high-stakes battle being played out globally, where people are waking up from the stench of chemicals, emanating around them, and these same people are fighting to protect people’s health from the thousands of untested chemicals in our everyday products: going by the trailer, it’s well worth watching. Here, from the Safer Chemical’s blog, is some of what helped this film come about:

“Dana Nachman was a producer at NBC when she wrote a story on how to make your home less toxic. “It was something I never gave an ounce of thought to before,” she says. In her research, she learned not only about the tens of thousands of chemicals lurking in everyday products, but that most of those chemicals have never been independently tested for their safety. Meanwhile, rates of tough-to-explain health problems like breast cancer, autism, and infertility — many of which have been linked to toxic exposure — are on the rise. A mother of young children, Nachman found this upsetting enough to turn it into the subject of her next documentary (her first two films tackled wrongful convictions and terrorism). The Human Experiment, narrated by Sean Penn and co-directed by Don Hardy, follows three families motivated by health problems to fight the powerful chemical industry lobby on behalf of everyone’s safety.”

The makers of the film have done a great job highlighting important health issues that are turning out to be common to many people today; and by doing that, they are bringing to light many other health issues, interrelated to one another via chemicals: Cancer, reproductive problems, all the immune compromised disorders; such as mould illness, chemical sensitivities, chemical injuries, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Chronic Fatigue and many more of the ever prevalent yet invisible illnesses too. Issues that, in some countries, get swept up into controversy and arguments; therefore, hiding the essence of the problem: the people who are suffering on a daily basis, and the cause: unregulated chemicals. I’m wondering if obesity will be covered; you know with all the corn syrup and artificial sugar theories that are ricocheting around out there? It’s unjust for the issue of obesity to be blamed on ‘fat people’ and ‘fat children’ with a general consensus that, “Oh, they just overeat!” Instead of asking what is causing this epidemic in the west? Could it be the chemical composition of the foods? So, yeh, I hope that’s covered too.

Another thing I loved about the trailer is how the focus is on our children: there are so many mothers and fathers united in outrage and disbelief over the state of chaos within the whole chemical-companies-self-regulation caper that’s causing so many problems for us—on a global scale. (Us Aussies are a bit behind in the regulations of chemicals but when we catch up, we catch up fast. Just look at us leading the race against the tobacco companies (far more so than the French, although their advertising tactics are to be revered: people no longer want to give head to Big Tobacco! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check it out for yourself.)))

Dana Nachmann, one of the Directors of The Human Experiment had this to say in an interview about her inspiration behind the film:

“I am a journalist and a mom I was assigned to do piece for NBC in 2009 about how to limit toxic chemicals in the home. It was through researching that story that I found out that most consumer products do not get tested for their safety before being put on the market.  I thought this couldn’t really be true, but after looking into it I found out this was the shocking reality. I went through a complete freak out at first, which is what happens to most moms when they learn about this issue.  I was worried about all of the ways my kids had been exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals because I was completely ignorant about this issue.  I was pregnant with my third child and I realized that things in our family had to change and things in our country had to change.  That’s why I wanted to make this movie to turn that fear into empowerment, not just for me but for all the moms and dads who would one day be able to watch the film and help turn this issue around once and for all.”

Here’s the comment I left for the makers of The Human Experiment.

This is so good. Thank you so much for making this. I’m going to be posting it on my blog where I blog about living a ‘normal’ life, and going to Uni while being sensitive to chemicals. I’ve had this for 9 years; for five of them I lived in isolation and, luckily, I recovered. Only to resume a normal life and now, I’m sicker than ever. It’s so obvious that chemicals can cause so many problems; and it’s so obvious that letting companies flood the market with them, only to remove them when we get sick is just plain wrong…

My character limit ran out, but what else I’d like to add, is a set of principles that I bang on about all the time [banging gets louder]: The Burden of Proof, and the Precautionary Principle. At the moment, we, the consumers, carry the burden of proof. Meaning that, if a product or it’s ingredients makes us ill, and we can prove that, then the product will either be taken of the market, or the ingredients replaced. However, if our governments made it mandatory for those companies to apply the Precautionary Principle instead, then all the harmful products and all their toxic ingredients would have to be proven safe, before they were actually allowed out on the market. Then, all the children, men and woman who get sick from these type of ingredients will have a better quality of life; and the people who are yet to get sick, won’t!

How many people need to become chemically injured or sensitised to these toxic chemicals before this happens? How many people will be told they have a ‘chemical allergy’, therefore, laying the blame on their own health, rather than the chemicals they have been constantly exposed too? As they say in the trailer, “low levels, constant chemical exposure effecting everyone on the planet…”  If that, right there, is not a human experiment then I don’t know what is. So I guess, I’ll have to watch the movie, and find out exactly what else is; because going be the trailer, the suggestion is, there are plenty more. So, hello there, all you Guinea pigs and Lab Monkeys out there. Are you going to just sit there and let Big Chemical decide which chemicals are safe for you (your kids, or future kids?), and at what levels?

“The film follows a band of unlikely activists who are fighting back. Ranging from a conservative businessman to a teenage radical, they are staking reputation, career and future in this battle to protect our health. They’ll go head-to-head with the powerful and well-funded chemical industry to uncover a system that’s been hidden from consumers, where science is for sale and million-dollar PR campaigns keep dangerous products on the shelves. What will it take to stop this vast human experiment before it’s too late for our health?”

More from The Safer Chemicals Blog:

“We hope The Human Experiment inspires people to join your national movement around the safety of chemicals.  We’re finishing up the movie now so before it comes out we would love people to share the trailer and create excitement for the film’s release next year.  We want to get the word out that once and for all we are going to elevate this issue to the national level.  We need immediate action from all of us so we can protect our children, and their children, and their children.  It’s evident that if we don’t act on this, companies will continue working in the easiest way possible and that means that they won’t test their chemicals for safety and they won’t switch out dangerous chemicals with safer ones.  We want our health and safety to be of concern to companies, not just their bottom line.”

Watch the trailer for The Human Experiment:

Only drawback here is the music; it’s so dramatic and hyperbolic. I think the facts speak for themselves without the drama chiming in over the top of them. This is not fiction; it’s real, and the music kind of made it kind of movie like, which may work for some people, but not me: I think our senses have become numb when it comes to watching dramatic representations of anything: fiction or not.

And, if you’d like to know more, you can visit The Human Experiment’s Facebook page, here

Or visit The Human Experiment’s page:






Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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