Braids are typically a protective style for kinky coily hair like mine. Their convenience was the perfect solution for my busy schedule. With added hair extensions and my masterful braid artist my hair was just another fashion accessory that I changed every five or six weeks.
But after wearing my favorite braid styles for more than a decade I began to notice some unwelcome changes to my hair. It was dull, lifeless, and so thin and broken off on the crown of my head that I could see my scalp. It was a self inflicted wound…a hairicide. I had starved and suffocated my own hair. The damage, I thought, irreparable.
Truth: I had noticed the changes many months before, but braids were not only convenient and versatile they were also my way of hiding all of those unruly gray hairs that were multiplying around my temples.
The grays (I shall call them) are inevitable. They show up for most of us about midlife. They tend to increase under extreme physical or emotional stress, like when you have a major surgery or become president of the U.S. They also seem to have a mind of their own. When all of the other hairs on your head are going in one direction the grays will always, always go in the other direction. My impending decrepitude felt certain!
The harsh reality was that my twelve year relationship with my braid master would have to end. It was a Gladys Knight and the Pips moments. “I keep wondering (wondering) what I’m gonna do without ya (do without you). And I guess you must be wondering the same thing too…Because neither one of us (neither one of us) wants to be the first to say goodbye…farewell my love, goodbye (goodbye).”
Transition: A wig,of course! I found one that looked very similar to my loose braids style. Underneath, I dutifully conditioned and treated my lifeless locks with Neem oil and pea sprouts. The wig worked out well in early spring, but I live in the Atlanta area. By late April temperatures begin to hit 80 degrees and above. It took me roughly ten seconds with a wig on my head in the heat to decide that I needed to shave off what was left of my hair.
Truth: I am thrifty: The least expensive way has always been my way. I picked a hairstyle, asked around, and was referred to a “natural hair” stylist who was guaranteed to deliver what I wanted… for $180.00! My head is not that big and I certainly don’t have that much hair. I checked the prices of other “natural hair” salons and most of them wanted nearly $100.00 for the short cut and color I desired.
Tragedy: Friday rush hour traffic in Atlanta is always a nightmare, but on Friday, May 8, 2015 a small engine airplane tragically crashed on I-285. The billowing smoke from that accident was the only thing moving on the north and east interstates for hours that afternoon. Like thousands of people that day, I took an alternate route home. It was a long sobering ride home at the end of a sweltering week.
The temperature had reached 90 degrees that week and was hovering above 80 on this day. I needed relief. I could not imagine wearing a wig one more day. My circuitous route provided the answer I needed. There at the intersection in front of me was a barber shop. I had never noticed it before. There was only one other customer inside. I just walked in and sat in an empty chair.
The young barber listened to what I wanted and asked if I was certain. He said, “I have never shaved a lady’s hair so closely before.” I said, “Not to worry, I have never had my head shaved so closely before,” but for the $13.00 he was charging I was all in.
Triumph: Leaving that barber shop was like being released from my hairicide sentence. I had been imprisoned for that crime, but now I felt the sun and breeze on my scalp for what seemed like the first time in my life. I stood in the shower longer than I ever had that evening, letting the shampoo wash away every trace of the bondage from which I had just been set free.
Truth: I am a germaphobe. I do not touch elevator buttons, doors in public places, or kids with runny noses. I have sprayed my own children with Lysol disinfectant and would be a wealthy woman if I had invested half of every dollar I have spent in my lifetime on Clorox. So, I am wondering why it did not occur to me to question my barber on his sterilization methods. BIG mistake! One in which I will never make again.
One week after my second hair cut I am getting ready to go to a friends house warming party. I pulled out my latest thrift store find. A designer LBD (scored for $5.00) and a pair of Betsey Johnson peep toes; a previous discount outlet store steal. I notice a burning and itching sensation on the back of my neck. I also realize that I have a faint headache and some tenderness in the glands of my neck. My husband notices also and comes for a closer look. “You need to take a look at your neck,” he says. “What does it look like to you?” I ask. “You have a circle of raised bumps,” is his reply. Silence.The expression on his face says it all…RINGWORM! Me, the germophobe, has a highly contagious parasitic fungi growing on the back of her neck.
Taking action: I can handle this. I am the preacher of natural healing. It is time to prove that food really is medicine, so off to the kitchen I go. Garlic (check), apple cider vinegar (check), turmeric (check), organic coconut oil (check)…all known for their antifungal properties. To get the full benefit of these healing foods I needed them inside of my body as well as outside. While in the kitchen I made a healing raw kale salad with red onion, raw pumpkin seeds and sliced fresh Georgia peaches. I dressed the salad with a healthy dose of fresh garlic, juice from a whole lemon, ½ teaspoon of lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, about 4 tablespoons of EVOO, 1 teaspoon of raw honey, a pinch of Himalayan sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
While the salad was marinating, I made a garlic and turmeric paste with just enough coconut oil to make the paste smooth. First, I washed my neck with my favorite black soap and left the black soap to dry for one hour on the area of the ringworm infection. I used the drying time to eat my salad. After all, it is important to keep your strength up in a crisis.
After rinsing the soap from the infected area I made a vinegar compress by soaking several cotton balls in the vinegar. I kept the vinegar compress on my neck for 15 minutes. The vinegar went deep into the wound, which stung quite a bit. I did not rinse the vinegar. Next, I applied the garlic and turmeric paste and covered it with a gauze bandage, which I left on overnight. My husband is apparently part vampire. He stayed as far away from me as possible that night.
In the morning I washed the area again with my favorite black soap, rinsed and let my neck air dry. Now here comes the good part. I mixed several drops each of Tea Tree, Neem and Lavender oil into two tablespoons of liquefied coconut oil and applied this mixture to the infected area with a cotton swab. The relief from the itching and stinging was almost instant. With the exception of the garlic compress, I have repeated this process 3-4 times each day for the last four days. On the first day, I also increased my daily intake of Olive Leaf Extract from two teaspoons to two tablespoons. That was aggressive treatment but the results have proven to be effective.
Apple Cider Vinegar, garlic, turmeric, black soap, Tea tree oil, Neem oil, Lavender oil, coconut oil, and Olive Leaf Extract all work individually to provide natural antifungal treatments for skin infections, but together they are a powerhouse that works as fast as anything you might purchase over the counter from a pharmacy, but with none of the dangerous side effects.
I have not decided where I will go for my next hair cut. But I am too old, too cheap, and too germaphobic to risk my time, money or health on any more $13.00 dollar deals.
Derona King is a nutrition and wellness designer for Zilphy’s Garden, Restoring Your Nutritional Heritage. Visit her at https://zilphy.chattapparel.com/ to learn more ways to use the foods in this article and many others to restore your nutritional heritage and heal your body.
Eat Well, Be Well!