Category Archives: Natural Living

Guest Post: How to Heal Hormonal Acne Naturally

Amie, from Rebelle Nutrition, is a fellow NTP and Beautycounter consultant with a passion for healing the body from the inside out. Like me, she was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired all the time, and turned her health around with the power of real food. She started having way more energy and vitality, but her skin issues and hormonal acne took a bit more work and digging around to solve beyond simple nutrition. So here she is to tell you what steps made the biggest difference and resulted in the radiant, clear skin she has now. I hope her story and advice help you on your skin care journey!

Amie Tollefsrud - Hormonal Acne

Eating real food but still suffering from painful hormonal acne?

Here are the steps you might be missing.

So you’re eating a nutrient-dense, whole-food diet but still have annoying (and painful) adult acne. This was exactly my story a few years ago when I first made the change to a paleo-ish style way of eating. My fatigue, joint pain, and acid reflux all improved drastically, but the one thing I could not seem to get a handle on no matter what I tried, was healing my hormonal acne. It continue to pop up, month after month, no matter how “clean” I ate or how dedicated I was to my “natural” skincare routine.

After about a year of research, trial and error, and intense healing, I discovered 5 key steps towards healing hormonal acne that have worked wonders for not only myself, but dozens of my Nutritional Therapy clients who come to me with the same problem. Keep in mind, these steps are intended for those people who have already made the switch to a nutrient-dense, whole-food diet. Improving the quality of the food you eat is the first step towards healing; after which, I recommend bringing in the “big guns” aka these 5 steps:

1. Don’t guess, test!

Unfortunately, there are plenty of nutrient dense foods that can still cause a histamine response (or “sensitivity”) in our bodies. This is especially true of foods we eat on a regular (or even daily) basis. Without rotation and a wide variety of different nutrients, our bodies can create antibodies to these foods, causing a number of physical manifestations such as joint pain, eczema, migraines, or painful acne. If you are eating a paleo style diet that has removed inflammatory foods like grains, dairy, soy, sugar and other processed goods, it might be time to look into food sensitivity testing. But don’t worry, you don’t need to run out and spend hundreds on expensive testing just yet. There is an easy at home test I like to do with clients, called the “Coca’s pulse test” that measures your pulse rate in response to eating certain foods. Here’s how to do it: 

Pick 1 food that you suspect may be causing you problems (coffee, eggs, milk) make sure it is only 1 ingredient and not a combination of different things (banana bread, for example, would not be able to decipher it is the bananas, wheat, or eggs causing the reaction).

Take your pulse for one full minute, record.

Put the chosen food in your mouth and chew but do not swallow for 20 seconds.

After 20 seconds, take your pulse again for one full minute with the food still in your mouth (do not swallow). Record your findings. Spit out the food and rinse your mouth if you plan to test again.

What are your results? An increase of 6 beats per minute or more indicates a stress response from that specific food, and may mean an elimination protocol may be needed. The higher the pulse increase, the greater the response. (Want to watch a video tutorial of this? Go HERE!)

2. Heal your leaky gut

You might be wondering, but WHY is my body creating antibodies to delicious and nutrient rich foods? The answer: your gut is “leaky”. Leaky gut is the term used to describe the process of increased intestinal permeability; which means that undigested food particles are able to make their way into the bloodstream – instead of being properly digested an used as fuel. This causes the immune system to elicit an “attack”, aka a histamine response or sensitivity reaction (i.e. increased pulse rate). Leaky gut is at the root cause of nearly every health symptom imaginable, and I find that repairing the gut lining is one of the most successful ways to improve a variety of skin related conditions – specifically acne. Some of my favorite gut-healing nutrients include L-glutamine, collagen peptides, plenty of nutrient rich bone broth, and DGL

3. Change up your skincare routine

I’m willing to bet that if you have acne, you’ve already tried nearly every product on the market, am I right? As a nutritional therapy practitioner, I tried so hard to make the oil cleansing method work for me, but all it did was create a mess of my bathroom and make my skin look greasy. When I finally learned about Beautycounter, a company that aims to remove harmful toxins and chemicals from their skincare products (without compromising performance), I was sold. I now consider myself to be a bit of a Beautycounter whore; but when I first started out, there were 3 products that improved my adult acne better than ANYTHING else I’ve ever tried. Seriously.

Charcoal Bar for cleansing (morning and night)

Purifying Charcoal Mask (2-3x a week for a spa grade facial)

Balancing Face Oil for moisturizer (I know what you’re thinking, oil on acne?!? But hear me out- Beautycounter specifically formulated this oil for acne prone skin, to moisturize and balance out levels of skin sebum and actually reduce excess oil production – how cool is that?)

4. Get off the treadmill

I know, I know. This is one that my clients, nor I, wanted to accept. But the truth is, if you have hormonal acne and you continue to do intense workouts in the form of running, cross fit, cycling, or anything that elicits a stress response in the body – this is likely to be a key player in the formation of your acne.

Intense exercise leads to heightened levels of stress in the body, causing increased cortisol output and insulin production. For women especially, this can also throw off the delicate balance of progesterone to estrogen – amplifying testosterone levels and causing increased oil production, clogged pores, and – you guessed it: acne.

5. Zinc supplementation

Zinc is an amazing skin-healing mineral that most of us are deficient in, despite eating a good diet. Zinc has been shown to lower chronic levels of inflammation and prevent acne-causing bacteria on the skin to become painful and inflamed. It also helps reduce the bacteria on the surface of the skin that causes acne, reduces keratin production that leads to clogged pores, and balances hormones by keeping levels of acne-causing testosterone in check. If you aren’t getting daily sources of zinc from foods like oysters or pumpkin seeds, I recommend experimenting with zinc supplementation in the form of zinc picolinate for around 3 months or so (make sure to work with a practitioner). 

There you have it! If you are already eating a real-food diet but still struggling with hormonal acne, I hope that these 5 key steps will be as life-changing for you as they have been for the clients in my practice. 

Want more? Download my free e-book: Acne Free in 30 Days HERE

Amie Tollefsrud is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and minimalist living in Maui, HI. She recently downsized to a tiny house by the beach with her husband, where she spends her days surfing, building her online business, and figuring out how to cook real food without a kitchen. Find out more by visiting her blog, Instagram, or Facebook page.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Guest Post- How to Heal Hormonal Acne Naturally

5 Natural Flea Repellants

natural flea repellantWe’ve never had issues with fleas, ticks, or any other bugs on our dogs until we moved to California. Being in the concrete jungle of NYC kept us far away from these problems for years. I actually freaked out a bit (okay, a lot.) when I saw tiny fleas jumping from my dogs’ skin for the first time, and soon realized that this is a common everyday reality living in a suburb.

Why I Refuse to Use Commercial Spot-on Flea Treatments

Frontline, Advantix, Advantage, and other chemical treatments may work well to kill fleas, but the active ingredient in commercial spot-on flea treatments is either a form of pesticide or insecticide that may cause various health issues. There are some scary stories out there about how dogs have experienced seizures or behavior changes after using these products (Thank you, internet). Even if your pets seem fine after using them, the ingredients in these products are less than ideal and may be causing long-term damage after cumulative use.

Just like how I refuse to put anything on my skin that’s toxic or poisonous, the same goes for my dog babies as well. The chemicals in these products (which also include flea sprays, shampoos, dips, and powders) also affect the people who own pets, especially children and pregnant women. After a lot of research and consideration, we decided to experiment with natural and safe methods. After a year of testing different sprays, creams, soap, and diet, I have found 5 most effective ways to keep fleas and ticks at bay:

**Please note that these methods are intended for dogs. Some may apply to cats as well, but do your own research before trying them out for your specific pet.

5 Natural Flea Repellants

1. Brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast is a type of yeast used in beer and bread making. It is actually quite nutrient-dense with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B, chromium, and selenium. When using it for flea treatment, you sprinkle some on your pet’s food everyday. After regular use, you dog will excrete an odor (humans can’t smell it) that repels fleas. This has worked especially well for our dogs, and they seem to like the taste of brewer’s yeast.  Of course, if you dog’s a picky eater, he or she may not like it but I think it’s worth a try. This is the brand we use that we have gotten great results from.

2. Garlic. Contrary to popular belief, a small dose of garlic is safe for dogs, even beneficial! The studies that show that garlic can cause toxicity in animals was done with unreasonably high dosage of garlic extract, which isn’t a realistic serving. The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs recommends a clove of fresh garlic per 10 to 30 lbs of weight a day for cancer prevention. When given in small doses, garlic can help boost the immune system, fight bacteria and fungal infections, and prevent fleas! Just like brewer’s yeast, fleas hate the smell of garlic.

For maximum benefit, crush garlic clove and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before adding it to food. I would start with 1/2 of clove for 10-20 lb dog, and a full clove if heavier than that. You can do this 2-3 times a week to get the benefit of repelling fleas.

3. Betadine solution bath. If you’ve never heard of it before, betadine is an antiseptic iodine solution useful for cuts and wounds. It also has the added benefit of soothing flea bites and skin allergies, as well as killing fleas for dogs! I love this stuff. I’ve actually seen dead fleas in the sink drainer after bathing the dogs with it. This is what I use.

natural flea repellant

natural flea repellant

After shampooing the dogs and rinsing them off, I fill a 4-cup measuring cup with water, and squeeze 2 squirts of the betadine solution in it until it looks like iced tea. I then pour it all over the dogs and massage it into their skin, underneath their hair. I don’t wash it off and just towel dry them with the solution still soaked in. It may stain their hair slightly but it’s only temporary and harmless. The dogs get instant relief from flea bite itches AND they are flea-free! We bathe our dogs every 2 weeks and that seems to be enough.

natural flea repellant

4. Lemon juice or vinegar. This is also a solution you can use during bath time or even make a spray with. Both the smell of lemon juice and vinegar deter fleas and ticks so it is an effective preventative treatment. If using at the end of a bath, you can use half of a lemon to massage and squeeze it into the dog’s skin. For best result, do not wash off. You can do the same with a half-water, half-vinegar solution.

To make a spray, you can mix lemon juice or vinegar with water, then spray the dogs before going outside. I have also heard of others adding apple cider vinegar to their dogs’ food to help with fleas as well.

5. Essential oils. Essential oils are a powerful and effective way to get rid of fleas. Some of my favorites are cedar, lavender, peppermint, citronella, lemon, and clove. I actually use peppermint castile soap to shampoo the dogs to help with fleas.

natural flea repellantWhen using essential oils, make sure you buy quality oils, and to dilute it when using it on your pets. You can make a spray by adding several drops to water, add a few drops to their collars or harnesses, or my favorite method: add 2-3 drops to coconut oil and massage into their skin before going outside. I do this before going on a long walk or hiking, and our dogs haven’t brought home fleas or ticks for a very long time!

Just like humans, our pets need quality food and care to live a long, healthy life. I love my dogs more than most humans I know (just being honest), so I will no doubt make sure that I provide them with the most natural and safest methods when it comes to things like flea treatments. If you have any questions, leave me comment below or contact me. Also, please don’t hesitate to mention any other natural methods you’ve used on your pets that has worked well for you!

natural flea repellant

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.


Homemade Clay Toothpaste

homemade clay toothpasteHomemade clay toothpaste is something I started attempting after I became a fan of Earthpaste, an all-natural toothpaste without chemicals and additives. I hate that conventional toothpaste contain hormone disruptors like triclosan and fluoride, unnecessary artificial sweeteners, and foaming agents like DEA which is linked with various cancers. No thank you. While Earthpaste worked for me for a while, I didn’t like that it had a sweet flavor and I thought it would be fun to make my own.

As a side note, my dental health has improved dramatically through the past several years as I changed my diet and started using natural toothpastes. Remember: your dental health reflects your overall health in general, so if you find that you are prone to cavities and inflammation in your gums, it’s worth looking into your diet and finding out what imbalances are happening in your body.

homemade clay toothpaste

homemade clay toothpaste

homemade clay toothpaste

Why Use Clay?

Clay, specifically bentonite clay, is known to contain an abundance of beneficial trace minerals and vitamins and has traditionally been used to boost immunity and to treat mineral deficiencies. It also has an amazing quality of binding to heavy metals, toxins, bacteria, and harmful substances so they can be removed from body. When used in toothpaste, it helps remineralize our teeth with calcium and magnesium, and its binding component also cleans out the mouth of any bacteria that may be forming.

Coupled with stain-reducing baking soda, the antibacterial component of coconut oil, and essentials oils that optimize their effectiveness, this recipe makes an awesome toothpaste that leaves your mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

Remember, When Using Bentonite Clay…

Bentonite clay should NOT come in contact with any metals. When this happens, it loses its effectiveness because it absorbs the metals that it comes in contact with. When using bentonite clay, use glass, ceramic, or plastic with your utensils and containers.

Also, I recommend you purchase bamboo toothbrushes to reduce your exposure to plastic (something like this). Making small changes to our daily routine can ensure that we reduce the amount of toxins that enter our body and the environment, while saving money at the same time if you go the DIY route!

homemade clay toothpaste

homemade clay toothpaste

homemade clay toothpaste
Homemade Clay Toothpaste
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 3 tbsp bentonite clay
  • ¼ cup filtered water + more, if needed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 15-20 drops of essential oils (I like the combo of peppermint and thieves)
  1. In a glass, plastic, ceramic container (do NOT use metal), mix together bentonite clay, melted coconut oil, and water with a non-metal spoon until well mixed.
  2. Add baking soda and essential oils and mix again.
  3. If the toothpaste is too thick, add a little bit of water at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
  4. Put in a glass or plastic container, where you can dip your toothbrush to use the toothpaste. Alternatively, if you have other people using the toothpaste as well, you can store in a bpa-free plastic squeeze tube.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

DIY Homemade Clay Toothpaste