By Kinya Kamau M.D
Well hello! Today, let's dive into our households and talk about how to rid our houses of toxic chemicals present in a lot of the products we use.
As you know, I am a busy physician mom of 3 little boys aka GlamLifeMD You can read more about me here and I like to keep it real. In this article, we will learn:
My husband and I welcomed our first child 6 years ago (although I have to admit it seems like just yesterday. They grow up so fast). During my pregnancy, I devoured every new parent book that I could find. Reason being, I had never really taken care of any baby for longer than a day, so I wanted to be prepared. With my first baby, I was a clean freak.
I used to mop the kitchen floors twice a day and actually bleach the white tiles! I would use antibacterial soap to wash the baby bottles and our house had plenty of plug-ins for a clean smell and during the winter I used to burn scented candles.
We went on to have 2 more kids and I maintained the same kind of environment for them. The only thing that changed was I stopped worrying too much if they picked up food from the floor and I stopped rinsing their toys each time they fell down. Ok ok, don't kill me for letting them eat off the floor, I promise by baby number 3, you will be just like me. Mine are all boys, so you can imagine the fun adventures we have!
1 year ago, I was shocked to learn about a chemical called Triclosan. Triclosan was in the news, most antibacterial products had Triclosan. The news was: Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and that meant reducing testosterone levels of males among a myriad of other problems.
Keep in mind, I had been using antibacterial soaps in my home since my kids were born. We stocked up on antibacterial dish soap, antibacterial dishwasher soap, antibacterial hand soap, antibacterial hand sanitizer, and I could go on and on.
I felt like a failure. I had done everything right as a parent but exposed my little ones to a harmful chemical that was now banned.
I got my momma hat on and decided to take the health of my family into my hands. I decided to learn what chemicals were in the products we were using at home. I didn't want to wake up 10 or 15 years from now when the regulating bodies decided to ban more chemicals yet I had exposed my family to their harmful effects.
I went from room to room in my house and I was shocked at what I discovered! In every room, I was literally using products that were contributing to the ill health of my family. Imagine the shock I had when I discovered dryer sheets were toxic. Download an app called THINK DIRTY and scan every product in your home. You will be surprised at what you find.
We shall go room by room and I will show you what I found in my house.
Kitchen- the dish soap, dishwasher soap, hand soap all had harmful ingredients, including Triclosan.
Bathrooms- the hand soap, bath soap, shower gel, toilet and bathroom cleaners were poisoning us from the inside. Oh, and don’t forget the plug-in air fresheners and scented candles. The scented candles release Volatile organic compounds that are harmful to our health. Can you image how shocked I was?
Laundry room- this is supposed to be where to remove the dirt from the clothes, but no, the laundry soap, bleach, and drier soap were all full of harmful chemicals.
Bedrooms- we had plug-ins in every bedroom. The sinks had toothpaste that had Triclosan.
Dressing table- I scanned my makeup and I was shocked at what I found. How? How could the products we were using be full of toxic chemicals?
I want you to either use the THINK DIRTY app or just looks for any of the following chemicals to ascertain that the products in your home are safe.
1. DEHP & Phthalates
Phthalates, a family of industrial chemicals used to soften PVC plastic and as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products. They can be found in items such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes.
2. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS”
Found most commonly in fabric softener liquids and sheets, most household cleaners are labeled “antibacterial.” Quats are another type of antimicrobials, and thus pose the same problem as triclosan by helping antibiotic-resistant bacteria breed.
They’re also a skin irritant. One 10-year study of Contact dermatitis found quats to be one of the leading causes. According to Sutton, they’re also suspected as a culprit for respiratory disorders: “There’s evidence that even healthy people who are [exposed to quats] on a regular basis develop asthma as a result.”
2-butoxyethanol is the key ingredient in many window cleaners and multipurpose cleaners that give these items their characteristic sweet smell. It belongs to the category of “glycol ethers,” a set of powerful solvents that don’t mess around. Law does not require 2-butoxyethanol to be listed on a product’s label.
According to the EPA’s Web site in addition to causing sore throats when inhaled at high levels glycol ethers can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage. Although the EPA sets a standard on 2-butoxyethanol for workplace safety, Sutton warns, “If you’re cleaning at home in a confined area, like an unventilated bathroom, you can actually end up getting 2-butoxyethanol in the air at levels that are higher than workplace safety standards.”
4. Sodium Laureth Sulfates (SLS)
SLS are carcinogens. Found most commonly in foaming cosmetics, shampoos, cleansers, most body washes, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, bubble bath, and laundry detergent. A common ingredient in personal care products, sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, is an additive that allows cleansing products & skin care products to foam.
According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin-Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, SLS is a moderate hazard" that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and endocrine disruption. Ammonium lauryl sulfate, or ALS, is similar to SLS and poses similar risks.
Triclosan is also known as an Endocrine disruptor and can cause antibiotic resistance. It is found most commonly in toothpaste, cleansers, and antiperspirants. There is a good reason to believe that the over-use of products with triclosan has contributed to bacterial resistance in the same way we are cautioned against the use of antibiotics.
Triclosan is also lipophilic, which means it can bioaccumulate in your fat for long periods of time, and as reported by Scientific American. Triclosan is now detectable in human breast milk, blood, and urine samples. Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) found the chemical in 75% of urine samples tested for a study focused on triclosan. The use of triclosan is linked to the following effects on human health:
> Abnormal endocrine system/thyroid hormone signaling, weakening of the immune system;
> Children exposed to antibacterial products at an early age have an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma, and eczema;
> Uncontrolled cell growth;
> Developmental and reproductive toxicity
6. Parfum/Fragrance are carcinogens and can cause neurotoxicity, allergies, and skin sensitivities. They are found most commonly in a variety of cleaners and cosmetics to add aroma and smell. Companies and manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients of a fragrance due to it being termed as a "trade secret".
According to an online article (noted below), "manufacturers of beauty and cleaning products don’t have to disclose the hundreds of potential chemicals that could be used to make their fragrance, because they are considered 'trade secrets' by the FDA." There are more than 3,000 ingredients that can be considered "fragrance" by the FDA.
You might be thinking, YUCK, right? Now if you glanced over this quickly, let me help clear up a few terms you just saw.
What is an Endocrine Disruptor? Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.
According to the Environmental Working Group, “There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones.”
My search for cleaner and safer products for my family lead me to essential oils. Say what? Well, hang in there, I will explain to you what I learned along the way.
It all started when I sought help from a dear doctor mommy friend of mine about my son's eczema and she asked me what laundry soap I use. I had tried many stores and bought "clean/green laundry soaps without improvement. She recommended I switch to plant-based essential oil-infused products so as to reduce skin irritation. I did it based on her recommendation and I have not looked back.
Let's talk a little bit about the innumerable benefits of essential oils and what essential oils can do for me and you since they have been used from ancient times but kind of disappeared after the 1940s and are now being rediscovered. We will also read about the amazing benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy, essential oils meaning, benefits of essential oils for skin, and essential oil uses and benefits in this mini essential oils’ guide
Essential oils are made from the most valuable part of the plant. They are distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, fruit, rinds, resins, and herbs. They consist of over 100 natural organic compounds.
In humans, a wide range of essential oils provides support for every system in the body: your skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, endocrine system and your hormones, respiratory system, and immune system. They support brain health and a healthy weight.
Different kinds of best essential oils are used extensively for spiritual support in your prayer life. They have been used for thousands of years as beauty aids and even for emotional support. An oil in a diffuser can soothe a child’s tough day at school. It can also provide a calming effect when you’ve had a stressful day at work. Oils can be used as an alternative to cleaning chemicals in the home. You can literally start swapping out every single chemical in your home to live a purer lifestyle, and you can do it without breaking the bank!
There are about 300 kinds of essential oils on the earth, but thankfully, but you only need about 10-20 of them to build a good kit. Some of my favorite and best essential oils are:
Lavender- I pour a few drops onto drier balls and these have substituted the harmful drier sheets. I also put this in my diffuser and use it to freshen rooms. I no longer use scented candles or plug-ins
Thieves Essential Oil- this blend of Eucalyptus, Clove, Rosemary, and Lemon is my favorite fragrance. The aroma is welcoming and clean. Not only do I diffuse it almost daily, but I use the Thieves household cleaner for literally all my cleaning. Name it, and I have a Thieves recipe for it.
Essential oils give cleaning products the extra oomph to get rid of dirt. Remember there are over 100 active compounds in different kinds of essential oils. So, as you are cleaning or diffusing essential oils, you are also getting health benefits from them.
How do essential oils enter and how long do they last?
Tests have shown essential oils reach the heart, liver, and thyroid in three seconds when inhaled; they can be found in the bloodstream in 26 seconds when applied topically. Expulsion of essential oils takes three to six hours in a normal, healthy body.
The history of essential oils is quite interesting. Essential oils were first mentioned by their names in the biblical book of Genesis, chapter 37 when Joseph was sold to the slave traders. They carried spices, balm, and Myrrh! Genesis ends with the burial of Joseph’s father anointed with Myrrh. There are over 1,100 direct and indirect mentions of essential oils in the Scripture.
Some of the oldest cultures on earth made use of essential oils. The Babylonians placed orders for Cedarwood, Myrrh, and Cyprus. The Egyptians used essential oils for beauty and embalming and they have the oldest recorded deodorant recipe made with essential oils. Pakistan and Rome used essential oils in the communal bathhouses.
They were even used by Christ! Jesus was given gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Frankincense is sometimes referred to as “the coconut oil of essential oils,” because it has over 10,000 uses. Essential oils were used by the Medieval Europeans, many of whom brought oils back during the Crusades. It was only after World War II when essential oils were “rediscovered,” and the science on their uses grows with every single year
I have used oils for over a year. Lavender smelled nice in my bath but never had any significant effect on my body. I bought my lavender for $4 a bottle online, at farmers markets, or at bulk foods stores. In the United States, there is no rating system for essential oils. It would be wonderful if there were—because then you’d know what you were buying! If you walk into a grocery store and look at a box of cereal, you’ll see nutrition facts on the side.
There are no “nutrition facts” on the side of oils. That means you have to trust the source. You have to know the company you are purchasing from. What sets Young Living aside? Seed to Seal. It’s our promise of purity. You can learn more about Seed to Seal at seedtoseal.com
All oils in the world fall into one of four categories: Authentic, Manipulated, Perfume, or Synthetic.
Authentic is the only true pure oil. Synthetic oils would be like opening your fridge, taking a glass of orange juice, and diluting it 95% before you drank it! (And diluting it with chemicals!) It wouldn’t have the same benefits of a full glass of only orange juice. That’s why you want authentic oils.
Before you purchase, check to see if the company grows their own plants, has a Seed to Seal guarantee of purity, and controls the entire process—from the farm to the sealed bottle. Pesticides, pollution, previously farmed land; all of it can affect the quality of an oil. Why would you go the extra step of using an oil to get away from a chemical—only to use an oil-laden with chemicals? It makes no sense.
Look for oils without pesticides used, no artificial fertilizers, and no weed killers. The plants are harvested at their peak. They’re then put through a rigorous testing process.
Most essential oils are sold more cheaply because companies cut corners to save money.
If you spray your crop with pesticides, you have more crop to distill. If you use a chemical solvent to extract the oil, you pull more out. If you dilute it with a cheaper oil or a carrier oil, you stretch the oil you have distilled, and can easily sell more cheaply.
It takes a great deal of work to produce a tiny amount of essential oil!
60,000 rose blossoms provide only one ounce of Rose oil
Lavender is abundant—220 pounds will provide seven pounds of oil
Jasmine flowers must be picked by hand before the sun becomes hot on the very first day they open, thus making one of the most expensive oils in the world! It takes eight million hand-picked blossoms to produce 2.2 pounds of oil
A Sandalwood tree must be 30 years old and 30 feet high before it can be cut down for distillation. Gary Young’s Sandalwood trees must be 90 percent lifeless before they are harvested.
But a little goes a long way. Most oils are $10 to $30 a bottle. Depending on oil thickness (viscosity), a 5-ml bottle contains about 90-100 drops, and a 15-mL bottle contains about 200-240 drops. Each application is one to three drops, meaning even a small bottle will get you 45 to 90 applications.
Thieves cleaner is made of plants only and costs about $1.50 a bottle to make. You can’t even get that in the organic section at the grocery store! It replaces a multi-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and floor cleaner. The organic versions of those can run you $4 to $6 a bottle.
There are certain oils that are photosensitive, meaning you don’t want to wear them and go outside. These are mostly citrus oils, like Grapefruit, Lemon, etc.
When using on your skin, always watch for redness and dilute with a carrier oil. Dilute oils on children, because their skin is more permeable and absorbs the oils more quickly.
Look at the ingredient list of what you have in your bathroom and kitchen. Every day, we put products on our skin, in our body, and breathe them; but many of these products contain damaging chemicals.
The average woman applies over 300 chemicals every day to her body just through soaps, makeup, shampoos, and hair care products. Eighty of those products are applied before breakfast!
When you use Young Living’s essential oils, you’re using a product with one ingredient, like Lemon, Oregano, Tangerine—no synthetic additives and no yuck.