Birth Control Detox: Part 1
Updated: Oct 3
My story, top 4 strategies, grocery list, and natural protection options.
Written July 2015.
I have been on the pill since I was 15. Now, at 23, I have been pumping my body with synthetic hormones for 8 years. That sounds scary. But I have also watched my teenage acne ridden skin quickly give way to a clear complexion. For me, it was the responsible choice for my relationships and sex life. In all honesty, I have had a very positive experience being on the pill. No sudden weight change, intense mood swings, or horrible cramps.
However, when I started shifting my lifestyle for the better after a holistic wellness program, I began to suspect that birth control may not be all that wonderful in the long run. I started to understand that dependence on medication, especially hormones, could have adverse health effects. I saw clear skin now, but I didn't really know what this meant for my body in the future. I wanted to live a long, healthy life, and I needed to commit to the lifestyle I desired.
Committing to this lifestyle included knowing what I was putting in and on my body. It meant making the switch from chemical laden foods and products to natural and homemade options. Birth control is lingering on the forefront of my mind, because it’s the one thing I want to eliminate that I still felt very dependent on. The “natural” option compromises my now clear skin and pregnancy protection.
I recently went off the pill and was birth control free for about 3 months. I may have not noticed a weight gain when I first started the pill, but I felt a lot better about my body weight than I had in a long time. I experienced less bloating and felt generally lighter. On the downside, my skin broke out like nobody’s business, and I felt like I was back behind the pizza face mask of my insecure, prepubescent self. I also did not have a period the whole time, and even though I knew I wasn’t pregnant, it still freaked me out! I caved and went back on birth control pills after about 3 months.
I have talked with a lot of people about their birth control experiences, and have continued to read up on the research and studies on birth control. I have tirelessly gone over the pros and cons in my head, and the gut feeling remains that going off birth control will optimize my health, and in the long run, will outweigh the benefits of being on it. Maybe it’s a gut feeling because my gut is being taxed by these artificial hormones! It makes sense that my breakouts could be a symptom of toxic overload and hormone imbalance.
A close friend had a similar experience with her skin on birth control. It helped to clear it up, but when she went off, she had horrible breakouts for almost a year. However, after that year, her body finally seemed to get its groove back, and she has had problem-free skin since. Though a year of breakouts sounds like a lot of dates in dimly lit restaurants and money spent on organic skin care, I’m ready to tackle the root cause of my breakouts, as well as align my lifestyle with my holistic ideals and beliefs. In preparation, I am doing research to put together a survival guide and tool kit of sorts for going off birth control.
I’ve collected the best tips and strategies out there for helping your body adjust to going off birth control and onto its own natural cycle, with a close look at skin. I’ve also included a little bit about natural pregnancy protection. This will be the approach I follow as I quit the pill, and I thought I’d share with others who are looking to do the same.
TOP 4 STRATEGIES FOR QUITTING THE PILL
1. Replenish Nutritional Deficiencies
Birth control pills zap the body of many important nutrients! Be extra mindful of B vitamins, zinc and magnesium. Here are some tips to boost nutrition post birth control pills:
Bone broth is a nutritional powerhouse. Drink a cup or two daily.
Invest in and commit to taking vitamin B complex daily.
Eat chick peas to increase your B6 and iron levels.
Add nuts and seeds to your diet to increase zinc and magnesium intake.
2. Balance Hormones
Going off birth control is going to be a shock to the system. The body has gotten used to a regular, controlled dose of synthetic hormones, and now it has to adjust to its natural hormone production. Here are some tips to support and balance hormones:
Take maca powder, a hormone balancing superfood.
Regulate circadian rhythm (body clock) by getting proper sleep, and try following moon cycles. Women’s menstrual cycles are synced with the cycle of the moon.
Have some local bee pollen, a high alkaline food. It is also source of bioflavonoid which supports hormone production.
Gelatin and collagen hydrolysate contain hormone balancing amino acids.
3. Boost Good Bacteria
The gut flora is inevitably threatened while on the pill, so it is important to replenish healthy bacteria. A good balance of healthy bacteria in the body will combat infection, enhance nutrient absorption, improve skin, and provide the foundation for hormone balance. To boost good bacteria, follow these two tips:
Add fermented foods to your diet, such as sauerkraut and kimchi. Although tempeh and kefir are fermented, I am not taking dairy and soy as a part of my post birth control protocol.
Take a high quality probiotic.
4. Detoxify the Body
Some side effects of going off the pill, such as skin outbreaks, are signs of toxicity in the body. Going off the pill is a form of detox itself, however some of the chemical residue still remains after quitting. Allowing the body to detox supports lots of other functions that aid in helping your body adjust to this big change. Detoxifying includes cutting out all chemical laden products and switching to natural or homemade options. This includes (processed) foods, personal care and cleaning products, etc. Here are some tips:
Pick out a 3-4 cleansing, herbal teas and drink a cup of each daily. Think peppermint, dandelion, ginger, milk thistle, turmeric, etc.
Add more high alkaline foods to your diet. Start with these: bee pollen, dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, wheat grass, and garlic.
Use a clay mask. Mix equal parts bentonite clay and diluted apple cider vinegar. Apply to skin, leave on for 10 minutes and rinse.
Epsom salt baths: work up to 3 cups of Epsom salt, and soak for 20 minutes.
This list includes all the things you need to follow the top 4 strategies, as well as a few extras. Try picking 3-4 new things to add each month. Many of these items will last you quite awhile, so once you purchase them, you will get a lot of good use before you have to restock (if you have to!).
· Bentonite clay
· Black seed oil
· Bone Broth
· Cabbage (for homemade sauerkraut)
· Chick peas
· Dark leafy greens
· Epsom salt (for bath)
· Fermented foods (sauerkraut- refrigerated section)
· Herbal teas (dandelion, peppermint, nettle, ginger, turmeric, milk thistle, etc)
· Himalayan pink salt
· Local bee pollen
· Maca powder
· Magnesium oil
· Premier Research Labs Max B nd (Vitamin B complex)
· PB 8 (probiotic)
· Pumpkin seeds
· Quality cod liver oil
· Raw apple cider vinegar
· Wheat grass
· Zinc supplement
NATURAL PREGNANCY PROTECTION
Condoms: A common, hormone-less birth control method, plus STD protection.
Diaphragm: A reusable cup that covers the cervix. To be used with spermicide.
Fertility Awareness Method:
Mucus method: When discharge increases and becomes slippery and clear, it is likely that ovulation is starting, and chances of pregnancy are increased. While it is tacky and cloudy, ovulation has passed. Combine this method with the two below for the most effectiveness.
Temperature method: Upon waking, take your temperature with and record it. Your temperature will rise after ovulation, so if you have an elevated temperature 3 days in a row, it is likely that ovulation is over. This should be used with the mucus method.
Calendar/Rhythm method: If your cycle is regular, ovulation occurs sometime the first week or two after your period. This method is the least effective, but can help improve effectiveness when combined with the temperature and mucus method above.
Be sure to check out Part 2 where I share the refined regimen that I ended up following and the exact pieces that made it work for me to detox birth control, balance my hormones, and clear my skin.
Please note: We all must do what is right and best for our own health and body, and that can be very different from person to person. This was written in 2015, and there have inevitably been new nutritional and reproductive health developments. I am not a doctor. This is not a prescribed plan. I am sharing my story and methods as a young woman based on my experiences. Please check in with your body, a trusted doctor, and do the research when addressing health concerns.