Monday, May 3, 2010

Parabens, Propylene glycol, Sodium lauryl sulfates... OH MY!

Everywhere you turn nowadays, whether it is in the grocery store or going down the makeup aisle, you will find organic options.  While growing up I did not quite understand the meaning nor the benefits that went along with organic products and eventually formed an opinion about those who strictly limited themselves to living the organic lifestyle:  they were snobby, uptight rich bitches.  Go ahead and throw the word "hippy" in there as well.  These were people I did not want to associate with.  Those who would not eat my hormone packed chicken or wear just normal deodorant like everyone else.  Then one year I became very ill and my mind was changed forever.

Growing up I was a very busy child.  I was involved in dance and performance theater and I could always rely on getting a horrible cold that would be in conjunction with a sinus infection or bronchitis twice a year, ritually right before performance time.  So there I would be, sitting in my pretty Nutcracker dress, coughing my lungs out on stage like an eighty year old smoker with emphysema.  Not a pretty sight.  It became routine to go into the doctor and have them administer antibiotics.  By the time I was in high school I figured these meds were just your normal "cure all" and sometimes I ended up on antibiotics two to three times a year.  To be honest, I don't remember where I read my first article about the dangers of antibiotics but it sure caused me to get a bug up my butt to start researching.  I set my homework aside and scoured the internet for hours and found a plethora of articles discussing this very topic!  Did you know that antibiotics should always be your last resort and at a maximum should only be taken once a year?  Wow.  I hadn't realized that they also break down your immune system due to killing the good and bad bacteria and you may get to a point where your body can't fight off its own infections, therefore you need to rely on medicine all over again!  I started to become conscious of the fact that even when I got a minor cold it would always take a nasty turn for the worse and it seemed like my body just couldn't fight back anymore.  I was weak and tired all the time and I was only seventeen years old!  I started to notice the  viscous cycle my body was going through due to the overuse of antibiotics and I immediately decided right then and there that I was just going to STOP.  I was going to let my self get sick if need be and even if it took a month, I was going to let my body fight its own battle as it was meant to do and build my precious immune system back up.  So, did it work?

Heck yes it worked!  There was a time when I would take 1000 mg of ibuprofen for any little ache and pain or four tablets of Benadryl to fall asleep at night.  Shortly after I graduated high school I went to a naturopath doctor (The only one on the whole Kitsap peninsula!) who prescribed me Valerian root for anxiety and restlessness.  I bought the molasses version and would stir it in my tea before bed.  It didn't knock me on my tush like I at first expected since I was comparing it to Benadryl or stronger forms of relaxants I had previously abused, but after a week of using it religiously I just felt RELAXED and my mind wasn't running in ten million circles when I was trying to wind down to go to bed.  I didn't feel groggy the next day and I woke up naturally and little by little my life was starting to change for the better.

My eyes were starting to open to the importance of what we put in our bodies and how to properly take care of them.  To be honest, there is so much crap on the market today that just makes me cringe.  Do people not realize that what we put on our skin (ladies!) is absorbed into our body?  You may scoff and roll your eyes you not put lotion on?  You can see it and feel it on your skin when you put it on, so shouldn't you be concerned where it is magically ending up soon thereafter?  Hmm...I wonder where it went.  Oh!  It absorbed into your skin.  Imagine that.  Just like our makeup and deodorant.  I will have to write a short note later about my adventures in "Deodorant Land" and how to find a natural product without smelling like a water buffalo at the end of the day.  I promise to not disappoint on that topic. 

I'm still in the beginning of my organic switchover and my whole life hasn't been entirely affected yet.  Some items I believe are just a waste of money (for my lifestyle at least) like organic cotton q-tips, although I have switched over to organic cotton tampons and pads.   For something that is literally sitting inside of me all day, I can't imagine how my body is processing all those chemicals and fragrances that are in regular tampons.  Ladies, would you spray perfume up there?  Then why on earth would you use tampons with fragrance?!  :::shivers:::  Sorry gentlemen for bringing up such a crude topic, but yes, it is true!  We women DO bleed for days on end and don't die.  It is natural and healthy event so quit grabbing your sides, squirming from side to side and groaning, "Ugh, gross!  Yuck! I don't want to hear about your womanly stuff!"  Let me remind you love our 'womanly stuff' the other three weeks out of the month so quit grimacing please, I'm starting to get offended.

We are a normal young married couple who has a budget like anyone else and I can't just afford to go out an switch everything over to organic, but the little changes I have made, especially with medicinal and food choices, have been very beneficial.  I'm sure I'll be writing more on the topic, especially when it comes to sharing tips and products on how to pamper ourselves naturally from the R.A.W. products line.  (Raw All Natural Products for Women) Don't worry boys...we have a male line for you too.  (R.A.M. Raw All Natural Products for Men)

I have included a short list of some of the common, but nasty!, ingredients in our everyday products that you should look for and research before buying:

  • Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, etc.) are skin irritants, disturb your hormonal balance, are potential mutagens and have been found in breast cancer tumors. (page 118) They are commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions and deodorants.
  • Propylene glycol is a strong irritant, may cause delayed allergic reactions, kidney, liver, nervous system damage, and has not been fully investigated for its potential to cause cancer. (page 128) Check your makeup, deodorant, mouthwash, shaving lotions and baby lotion for this ingredient.  
  • Fragrance may irritate the skin and cause a variety of adverse reactions. It may contain hundreds of different chemicals, some are hazardous, some cause cancer. (page 88) This is found in just about all cosmetics and personal care products, unless it says fragrance free. See page 21 to discover what fragrance free really means.
  • Sodium fluoride is a poison and its toxic effects can be delayed. It can cause death if swallowed. (page 135) Check your toothpaste. Unless it says fluoride free, it most likely has some form of fluoride in it. 
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate is a skin and eye irritant. It disrupts your hormone balance and has been shown to increase the growth of cancer cells. (page 115) Used in makeup, suntan lotions and sunscreens.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate is a skin and eye irritant, and may cause dry skin and eczema. It is a potential mutagen and may inhibit DNA synthesis. (page 136) It is found in shampoos, bubble bath, lotions, creams, and toothpaste.
  • D&C colors are primarily derived from coal tar which is known to cause cancer. They are certified by the FDA not to contain more than 20 ppm of lead and arsenic, but the certification does not address any adverse effects these colors may have on your body and disregards the permeability of the skin which allows these substances to be absorbed into your body. (page 70) Commonly used to add color to most commercial cosmetics and personal care products.
  • FD&C colors are primarily derived from coal tar which is known to cause cancer. They are certified by the FDA not to contain more than 10 ppm of lead and arsenic, but the certification does not address any adverse effects these colors may have on your body. (page 86) Added to most cosmetics and personal care products for color.
  •  (I copied this list from

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