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Tag: toxic load

What’s So Bad About Vasoline?

One of my girlfriends recommended a lotion to me recently, but as soon as I read the ingredients, I knew I would never use it because the first thing listed was mineral oil.

What’s so bad about mineral oil, the friend asked?

Save this product for automotive or household repairs.

Well, for starters, mineral oil and Vasoline Petroleum Jelly are byproducts from refining oil. Yep, they are pulled out of the sludge found at the bottom of the barrels at oil refineries. They are literally “toxic waste.”

My friend persisted: Why shouldn’t you put petroleum products on your skin?  She believed her skin felt softer after using petroleum products, particularly on rough patches of eczema.

Let’s start with the fact that our skin is our largest organ. Skin cells breathe and metabolize just as all of our body cells do, and they absorb chemicals through contact. Adding chemicals to your skin will increase your overall toxic load in your body which could hasten the onset of a health crisis.

Slathering mineral oil or petroleum jelly on skin smothers skin cells and prevents efficient cellular respiration. While you might feel an immediate softening effect, or even feel as if the product is moisturizing, you are in fact simply putting a layer of inorganic oil over your cells and trapping moisture underneath the skin while not allowing any more moisture to enter.

Our bodies were designed to efficiently rid the system of toxins through discharges from the bowels and urinary tract, mucous from the nose or throat, and perspiration and cellular respiration through the skin. Sealing off the skin thwarts this process and traps toxins inside the body.

Zum Kiss Shea Butter Lip Balm is petroleum free and feels great on lips!

Petroleum is found deep underground, often a mile or more below the surface where life exists. For the course of human history, petroleum has been inaccessible and unused until very recently. Mammals did not evolve to need or use petroleum or its byproducts as part of achieving health. Just because Vasoline is a familiar brand doesn’t mean it is safe to use. Marlboro is a familiar brand, too, but that doesn’t mean its products are any safer for having been around for a century.

I cringe every time I hear of another pediatrician recommending feeding a child spoonfuls of mineral oil as a misguided constipation remedy. Mineral oil does not rinse off cleanly; it leave a residual layer of petroleum, which is what makes things slippery. I can’t imagine smothering the cells of the digestive tract with a clinging film in any way helps to improve digestion. It might ease constipation by greasing the chute, but it inhibits nutrient absorption through the intestines in the process. A destructive trade-off, if you ask me.

A recent Huffington Post article by Rebecca Adams brought a comment from a reader addicted to using Vasoline on her lips. She felt disgusted at the thought of how much petroleum she must have directly ingested over the years, but couldn’t think of a safer replacement for her dry lips. I’m a fan of Zum Kiss Shea Butter Lip Balm for safely moisturized lips.

Try almond oil for moisturizing skin for a safe, natural skin softener that heals while it softens and  does not inhibit cellular respiration.

Our Toxic World and Our Own Toxic Threshold

My husband holding my newborn son in 2002.

Every person has a toxic threshold: that level at which their body can no longer handle the toxins it absorbs. It’s when you cross that toxic threshold that things start to go awry and the body that used to function perfectly now starts to show symptoms ranging from hives to asthma to migraines to neurologic disorders or other symptoms.

To protect our health, we want to limit our toxic exposures as much as possible because, even when you are aware and proactive about it, you will still be exposed to some level of toxicity every day through the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

The Environmental Working Group did a study analyzing the cord blood of newborn babies around the U.S. They found that the average baby is born with 200 contaminants already in their cord blood. Two hundred chemicals, including carcinogens, hormone modulators, perfluorochemicals,petrochemicals, pesticides, plastics, BPA,  pharmaceuticals, and more.

From birth, our kids are already behind the eight ball and well on their way to crossing their own personal toxic thresholds. It’s no wonder that we are seeing a dramatic increase in kids with allergies because their bodies just can’t cope anymore.

The other night I watched the new movie about Liberace, “Behind the Candlelabra,” starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. In one scene, Liberace describes how he became sicker and sicker, and eventually deathly ill, until he realized that the dry cleaning fumes emanating from his elaborate costumes were killing him.

Sometimes something as simple as a course of antibiotics can push someone over their toxic threshold and into a downhill health spiral. You never know what your body can’t handle until it shows up and demands your attention in a negative way.

A friend recently told me that she had started a new medication that gave her hives. She ceased taking the drug, but the hives continued for a while and her doctor started her on daily corticosteroids and an antihistimine. Despite all these efforts, she is still finding hives every so often. She has crossed her toxic threshold and, in my experience, her cascade of health issues is beginning.

I tried to impress on her the importance of acting sooner rather than later to calm her body, before the symptoms escalate. Once you cross that toxic threshold, it takes almost superhuman efforts to bring your body back beneath it. I suspect that, once crossed, the threshold drops significantly, so that now the person must take extra care in their toxin exposure and try to allow the body to heal.

What should you do if you cross your toxin threshold?

1. Eliminate all artificial foods and food additives. Get rid of The Scary 7, GMOs, and processed foods.

2. Eliminate synthetic fragrances and colors from personal care products, laundry soaps, and cleaning products. Stop using dryer sheets.

3. Use all-natural cleaning products, including dish soap, dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, and surface cleaners.

4. Use all-natural, safe personal care products and cosmetics.

5. Filter your water for chlorine and chemical contaminants.

6. Consider a parasite cleanse.

7. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet: good. Better: learn your own individual anti-inflammatory foods because each body is unique.

Can Allergens Be Absorbed Through Your Skin?

Allergens can absolutely be absorbed through the skin. Beyond the obvious topical dermatitis you might get from touching poison ivy, for example, irritants that come into contact with your skin can give you effects that are more than skin deep. Pain, inflammation, fatigue, migraines, nervous system issues… These are all examples of how our bodies may be affected by what we put on our skin.

Don’t forget that our skin is our largest organ and provides a semipermeable barrier between us and everything else. If you are sensitive to something ingested, you’ll want to avoid touching it or smelling it, too. After all, aromas are literally molecules with mass and weight, and even something this small can cause some people to react.

I always discuss personal care and cleaning products with my food sensitivity clients. I had one client with persistent, unexplained shoulder pain who swore by a certain blue topical salve that she thought was giving her relief. She used it 4-5x/day. She finally switched brands after blue dye showed up reactive on her Mediator Release Test (MRT) and the pain went away.

Another example is a client who tested sensitive to citrus fruits on the MRT. When she uses cosmetics or cleansers that contain citric acid, her skin will flare up and react for several days.

I talk to my clients about avoiding aloe in skin care products if they are sensitive to the Lily family and coconut derivatives like sodium lauryl sulfate  if they are sensitive to coconut. We look at scents like vanilla and lemon in soaps, etc., and chemical preservatives like sorbates in shampoos and cleansers. When items like these foods or chemicals turn up high in the MRT, I encourage them to avoid the allergen in every way.

Beyond that, we talk in general about using clean, non-toxic products to lower their overall toxic load.

Your Toxic Threshold

There are some 80,000 chemical compounds in our world that didn’t exist 200 years ago.

We are exposed to chemicals at every turn: in the air we breathe; the water we drink; the soaps, cosmetics, and personal products we use; the foods we eat; and even the clothes we wear.

Everyone has an individual tolerance threshold for toxicity that– once you cross that unknown boundary with too many toxic exposures and too much toxicity built up– can cascade into a variety of symptoms and system malfunctions.

Although we can’t control much of what we’re exposed to, we can work to decrease our personal toxic load by choosing pure foods and clean, non-toxic products whenever possible.

Knowledge is power.