Archive for the ‘Clean & Green Living’ Category

Would you rather clean your refrigerator or the ocean?

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Mary Duggan

By Mary Duggan

One. I love Maritime culture. Two. I am proud to make environmentally sound personal care products. Three. I live for being in the water: anything from my bathtub to the ocean. Four: I love seeing women doing really important and interesting work. So you can imagine my delight when I read that one of the Tall Ships converging on Chicago just a few weeks ago was here doing really important environmental research on microplastics in our waterways and lots of the scientists involved are women. And you guessed it, while the topic is complex and layered, one of the catastrophic delivery systems for microplastics to our waterways is through toxic personal care products.  (more…)


Having Choices Was My Greatest Gift

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

MaryDuggan_hands on hip

By Mary Duggan

It’s days before my big birthday and I would rather be otherwise occupied than explaining a recent blog. But okay, let’s try this again. And I will leave out the elegant metaphor or was it an analogy? Whatever it was, I still think it was spot on (as everyone seems to be saying lately) if we are ever going to figure out what keeps people from reclaiming their precious health.

The point I was trying to make is this: did anyone involved in your medical care make clear to you that you have choices? Did anyone say there are two ways to look at your __________? Here you have to insert the type of auto-immune disease you have been diagnosed with because there are so many. A big part of the conversation is why so many and a big part of the answer is the inflammation that links these conditions. But first, about choices.

I know in my case the docs made clear there were no real options or choices. I have found in years of discussions with other folks suffering from these myriad disorders that they were not presented choices either. And there’s the rub. Okay? Sorry but I will not allow you to take away my English Literature degree altogether. And I will argue with you that having a choice in the manner of your medical care is such a gift. Many medical maladies are permanent and irreversible and tragic – autoimmune disease isn’t. (more…)


Disease Is A Lousy Lover

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

MaryDuggan_hands on hip

By Mary Duggan

Why do folks fall in love with their diseases? I just don’t get it. The minute someone tells me that they have MS or RA or Lupus or Fibromyalgia, and the list goes on from there, I can hear it in their voice. That immediate embracing of victim energy. This fell from the sky and it landed on me. I am not lucky. My mother had it. I have learned to live with it. My doctor says, my doctor says, my doctor says seems to be the primary mantra that keeps them down for the count and deeply invested in their disease.

When folks with any sort of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Krohn’s Disease say my doctor told me that what I eat will make no difference at all I actually want to scream. On and on it goes and I need an alternative to screaming. What is it with us human beings that we surrender so quickly and fully to our diagnosis of disease? Why do we fall in love (more…)


Angelina Jolie Has Inspired Me

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Mary Duggan

There are two gallons of urine in my fridge and I couldn’t be happier. I think you might want to gather some in your fridge as well.

urine side by side pee

Here’s why.

Angelina Jolie has folks talking about breast cancer, fear and powerlessness. So I figured it was a good time for me to make an important move towards breast health and empowerment in my own life. Jolie opted for a preventive double mastectomy in response to BRCA1 genetic testing that revealed her to be strongly predisposed to breast cancer. Her story has been front and center in the news this past week. While some folks heralded Jolie’s choice as heroic, I have to admit to being pretty much horrified by the news. I have heard about this option being taken before from folks not at all famous. I was horrified then, as well. All week I have scoured the press, looking for someone saying something wonderful in response. I couldn’t find it; so here is what I have to contribute to the conversation.

But first, my “credentials.” I have all sorts of markers for Breast Cancer, though I have never opted for the BRCA1 test. I can’t imagine that I ever will. Here is a test I have opted to take instead.

urine brown box

This little brown box is my contribution to the story. Annie and I left our doctor’s office weeks ago each toting our 24 Hour Urinary Iodine Loading Test Kits – WHEW. Each kit cost $120 and comes in the box shown above. Of course we carried them home, popped them onto the floor of the pantry and meant to get back to them but didn’t. Peeing in a cup every time you pee for 24 hours is a pain in the neck. A hassle. An easy task to put off. Gentlemen really, for ladies it is more of a hassle than it is for you.

More importantly, I had put it off  for years and that is crazy. More or less crazy than how Jolie is handling her breast health is the issue here. Here’s why. You all know Jolie’s story by now. Here is a bit of mine. My mother had both breast and uterine cancer. My Dad as well had cancer. Like Jolie, divorce left him less present in my life so I am clearer on my Mom’s genetic gifts to me. I have a preponderance of “markers” for breast cancer that I am keenly aware of without BRCA1 testing.

  • I am Caucasian.
  • I am overweight.
  • I am inactive.
  • I have never had a child.
  • I have never breast-fed a child.
  • I began to menstruate early.
  • I arrived late to menopause.
  • I have large breasts.
  • I have a family history of cancer on both sides of my family. Okay, I think that’s enough for now.
urine vials

Shake your 24 hour collection of pee, fill a vial with a sample and mail. How easy is that?

You would think I would be crazy scared to death of cancer, wouldn’t you? Well, I am not; and here’s why. I am keenly aware that I live in a different world than my parents did and I handle all of my health concerns differently as well.

I am exposed each and every day to chemical pollution that my ancestors could not have imagined. And so I invested in a Far Infrared Sauna. It deals very effectively with that. It costs far less than BRCA testing and it protects more than just my breast and uterus. And I can share it with others. I take LOTS of other precautions, as well.

My parents took antibiotics, and other prescription medications whenever their docs told them to. I  take a more preventive approach and radically limit my participation in the pharmaceutical industry that my parents used freely and without fear. Instead I work conscientiously with my physician to utilize testing and supplementation to build up my body and assist it in warding off disease and malfunction.

When thyroid disease reared its ugly head in my Mother’s young life, she agreed to removal with radiation and a lifetime regimen of the proven ineffective drug- Synthroid. I watched my sisters go unsuccessfully down the Synthroid road in the treatment of their hypothyroidism.  When I got slammed with severe Grave’s Disease (hyperthyroidism) I paid close attention to the Broda Barnes Protocol from the University of Chicago and went down the natural Armour Thyroid path instead. The program has been wildly successful for me and my sisters with hypothyroidism. Endless thanks to our brother John for bringing it into our health consciousness and our lives.

I have addressed my spinal issues, including a profound brain injury and debilitating stenosis, through the use of drugless therapies like chiropractic, acupuncture, cranial sacral adjustments and more. My mother came late to chiropractic and only used it sporadically. Watching her body bend under the pain and debilitation of spinal stenosis was heartbreaking. And because I have inherited it from her – scary. I have days when I still curse its omnipresence in my life; but I believe that yoga and cranial sacral chiropractic with acupuncture will at least keep it at bay longer than my mother’s back braces did for her.

When I suffered a profound hearing loss as a young woman, I put hearing aids on hold and headed out for a consultation with a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It worked beautifully and my hearing was fully restored. Who’d a thunk sick kidneys could bring on hearing loss.

You get the picture. I view my body, disease, doctors, health, wellness, ALL OF IT, in a radically different manner than my genetic precedents. I have a colonic every time cash and time allow. I especially make sure to do a few when I am doing a significant cleanse. Oh yeah, I do regular cleanses and I make sure they cross disciplinary lines: one time a homeopathic cleanse – next time a naturopathic cleanse – next time a vegetable juice cleanse – next time 100% raw for 22 months – next time a 3-day-fast. I am trying my best.

Now, back to the little brown box.  Why is collecting a gallon of urine part of my breast health regimen? Science. This is a 24-hour urine iodine test designed to measure the amount of iodine retained by my body, thereby showing my body’s iodine status. Connection to breast cancer? You have to read the book. I did years ago and then overwhelmed with all sorts of other things I was doing for my health, it fell to the wayside. But I am a listener and I do believe in the power of three. When a topic of importance is brought to my attention three times in rapid fire succession, I listen. Within about a week, I had more than three folks very well-versed in the field of alternative and preventive medicine say the word is in and the word is iodine.

urine mailer box

How could I have taken so long to do this test? In the mail it goes for Mary and Annie. Clare, we have saved you some room in the fridge.

The book is IODINE: Why You Need It Why You Can’t Live Without It by David Brownstein, M.D.

Not going to read it? That’s okay, kind of. Here’s is my VERY short opine on why I think you need to bring this to your doctor and get tested. Iodine has been strongly linked to breast cancer and all sorts of other modern maladies. I live in the “Goiter Belt” and I just love to say that. Okay, us folks in the Midwest who are not getting all the wonderful salty side effects of close to the ocean life need to look at iodine.  But seriously and this is oh-so-serious, get the book and let’s all read it together and discuss it and then let’s do something about it. Here’s why. And here’s my problem with something Angelina Jolie said.

Jolie states in her NY Times Op Ed that “…there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer.” And I am sorry but that statement seems absurd to me. I never meet women who aren’t afraid of cancer. Never. And I think fear has to be reduced and healthy choices have to be enhanced. Not surgery and reconstruction. Healthy choices. Like taking the correct form of iodine to heal our breasts.

I am trying to be fair here, and I know Jolie is referring to folks with a strong genetic predisposition. But I think nonetheless that we have to get a serious grip. The National Cancer Institute tells us that about 12% of all women will develop breast cancer sometime in their life. Take that in. Of that 12%, 3 to 5% have BRCA abnormalities. Take that in. The numbers that Jolie was quoting were from studies done in the mid-1990s that have since been revised – downward. Okay? Let’s breathe and concentrate on tests and steps to restore health. Powerful, right?

Jolie goes on to say, “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.” But what about that fear? Fear can be informative and powerful if channeled properly. For example, if I get my breast tissue removed, can’t the body just create the cancer somewhere else? And what about that powerlessness? Is wildly expensive, not always covered by insurance and extremely painful surgery really the powerful move to make? Other women with voices who have made the same choice as Jolie have contested Jolie’s portrayal of the surgery and recovery. Check out the bloggers.

I have a different idea. A different definition entirely about what it is to be powerful. Let’s get testing that shows us what’s missing in our diets and then let’s make changes. Let’s explore ways to heal our bodies with supplementation and cleansing and exercise and protect our entire body from cancer. There is so much more to be done than just surgical mutilation. And for me, so profoundly genetically pre-disposed, mutilation is the correct word. I remember my mother’s breasts: before and after the surgeon’s skills. But I also remember all the other choices and information that went into her health decision. Too much of women’s health is still mutilation. Enough already. Let’s gather our pee, while we may.

urine angled pee

Collecting our urine was not scary or expensive. It felt POWERFUL!

You know I will be back with the results. And I will, at that time, explore just a bit more about the role of flouride and bromide and why we need to know these words and how they put our breasts and our health at risk. I am dying to know what my urine had to say about the flouride and bromide levels in my body. Well, dying is the wrong word. I am living to know. I hope you are too. Let’s all pee in a cup right now while Angelina Jolie has breast health in the forefront of the cancer conversation.


About the author:

Mary DugganMary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks.  We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

****** Please leave your comments and thoughts below. We love to hear from you.******



A Service Dog is never OUT OF SERVICE

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Chester 120628 Looking up the stairsBy Mary Duggan

I am deeply touched by folks who meet us in public and inquire after Chester, my service dog. I see the look of disappointment on their faces when they realize he is not with me. Then I see the look of real pain when I update them on his recovery and tell them just bits of what he has been through this past year.

I don’t know if Chester will ever again be able to take on his big job of assisting me through the neurological challenges of my life with a TBI. My sisters are always determined that his working life will be fully restored (more…)


Our Clan Had A Medicine Man

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Mary DugganBy Mary Duggan

I hate working weekends. It makes me crabby. And I have to do it on a regular basis. This weekend in particular was guaranteed to be a rough one. The week began with the Boston Marathon and tragedy and stress and heartache and loss that will be ongoing. Then the horrific explosion in Texas that wiped a whole town off the map, crushed a nursing home and killed scores of people. Add in tornadoes, an earthquake in China and here in Chicago flooding. If ever a Friday night called for hard cider and gluten free pizza, this was the one. And Saturday would be best spent with multiple pots of coffee and  the newspaper in the a.m. and restorative yard work in the p.m.

Granted, the Duggan Sisters fared better than many with the flooding. When I bought this old house seven years ago, I had 11 foundation cracks sealed immediately. The guy did a great job and the basement has been bone dry. Then last year we found one more crack. But it’s small and rarely a problem and always seems to move from the to-do list to the maybe next time list. But this time the rain was different: powerful, relentless and exhausting.

Annie heard the sound of water in the basement below very early on Thursday. She and Clare had clocked in hours of moving furniture, removing rugs, protecting stock, emptying 25+ industrial-sized buckets of water, and sandbagging with towels (which were then relayed for washing and drying) before I even woke up.  When I did wake up, I didn’t recognize the sound of the industrial bucket on wheels being dragged across the basement floor. I thought we were being robbed and was tip-toeing around carefully upstairs, trying to get my bearings, and stifling a scream when I realized Clare’s bed was empty. OMG! They’ve taken Clare. (more…)


Noah, get the ark. It’s Springtime in Chicago.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

It is raining torrents. The back yard is flooded and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the rhododendron and astillbe the girls transplanted on Sunday does not float away. It’s praying time again: Lord, please keep the roof intact for one last Spring and I promise you we will find a way to replace it. Yep, it’s April in Chicago, the sky is dark green and threatening, temps are dropping fast, and I want cooked food. Here ‘s what Annie served instead.

Spinach Strawberry Salad pairs perfectly with a hearty and heart healthy Walnut Pate. Chow down

Spinach Strawberry Salad pairs perfectly with a hearty and heart healthy Walnut Pate. Chow down

Walnut Pate from a Jenny Cornbleet recipe that tasted, I swear, like meat. I kept taking small bites and saying, wait, WHAT is the taste here? (more…)


EXPOsé: Conclusion – Lean, Learn, Leave

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Mary DugganEXPOsé: part 4 of 4

By Mary Duggan


There is an energy particular to the final day of any large fair or expo. In some ways it is a little slower, as some attendees have already left town. But the wrapping up loose ends, making trades, swapping wares energy required to bring it on home is actually it’s own kind of stress. At EXPO it involved talking with people who had spent big bucks and traveled far to be there and needed to maximize their investment. Kind of like us. So the last day continued with the intensity of the first two right down to the very last minute, when the lights are promptly and decisively shut off to encourage registrants to vacate the premises.

Expo_from Australia

From Australia to Anaheim, Ashton is seeking the NEXT big thing. No worries mate. The Duggan Sisters are ready to rock the globe!

The last day is also about (more…)


Skip the disease and tell the truth about wheat.

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

By Mary Duggan

Everyone is all a-buzz, or should I say all a-blog today about the Oslo study. Yep, it looks like folks who don’t have celiacs disease can suffer from gluten sensitivity so they want to come up with a new disease. Feeding the victim mentality when it comes to our health. I think we have to shift the paradigm. Instead of trying to find a disease category for the catastrophe of wheat in the human body, let’s tell the truth about the history of wheat and the consequences of GMOs and the Frankengrain that has been created. I do not test positive for gluten sensitivity. But I can read. Knowing what wheat has been proven to do as it penetrates the sacred blood brain barrier was enough for me. I treasure my brain function, especially after sustaining a traumatic brain injury more than a decade ago. Recently, after fourteen months meticulously gluten free I ingested some wheat inadvertently. Four days of GI and neurological hell followed.

Bad science has to be rooted out of our food supply or none of us will be well. (more…)


Iranian Scientist Talks Sense: Meet Mr. Darvish

Monday, January 14th, 2013


By Mary Duggan

Mohammad Darvish: what a lovely, gentle, enlightened Iranian. I’d like to meet him. I know, I know, you are sick of hearing that day in and day out. Sick of all the hype about all the wonderful Iranians we should be getting to know better. But seriously, really seriously, wouldn’t it be wonderful to start knowing each other as fellow citizens of planet earth? Why are such a small number of characters allowed a place on the world stage? I think there are so many interesting people to meet and stories to hear, especially folks from countries that we think are so completely different from ours, so foreign to us in the truest sense of the word. I think knowing these people and their stories is what would actually make the world a better place in which to live, a less scary place for sure. Isn’t that why they tell us we need all these nuclear weapons? To protect our place in this scary world we live in? Isn’t that what Iranians are being told as well? Why not build bridges instead of bombs; bridges to one another?

Turns out the ’60s really were about flower power.

A few days ago I encountered a lovely, encouraging article in the news about Mohammad Darvish, a botanist and environmental activist in Iran. I’d love to spend some time with him; just one tree hugger to another, swapping stories and dreams. I’d like to walk in the herbarium where he works. It was built as a joint effort in the 1960s by botanists from our two countries. We could listen to waterfalls and experience microclimates. I’d like to swap vegetarian recipes and discuss Persian poetry and tell him about the Iranian centered years of my own strange life.

Ahmadinejad and Kardashian are getting too much air time.

Okay, okay I know I’d end up telling him about our little deodorant company, as well. For sure I’d give him a sample and I’d wager he’d love it being botanically based and named lifestinks. And I would give it to him so he would know about the work we three sisters are doing to make our planet a less toxic place. Because just as I’d like to know an Iranian other than Ahmadinejad, I’m sure he’d like to know an American not named Kardashian. Darvish and Duggan are altogether simpler names to spell and pronounce and remember. I’d like to think our efforts matter more to both of our countries and our shared planet.

Mohammad Darvish is a crusader deserving of our attention. Until we can see him chatting with Bill Moyers, this lovely article will have to suffice. Let’s take the time to acknowledge the heroic in our midst. Let’s shine a light on really interesting people living really substantial lives. I think it’s fun and healing. At least it will make Kim’s pregnancy pass a little more quickly for all of us.


About the author:

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks.  We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.