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Soap, Bacteria, and Triclosan

сондажиThis is a roundup of some interesting developments in the world of natural hygiene.

In a first for a US state, Minnesota has voted to ban triclosan in cosmetics including toothpaste.  Researchers of from the University of Minnesota discovered the Triclosan waste was converting to toxic dioxins in Minnesota lakes.  The ban means no hygiene products containing triclosan can be sold in Minnesota.

mag-25Bacteria-t_CA0-superJumbo

Now, while the reasons for the ban are environmental as opposed to health related, there is a good tie in with a recent article about a new product by AOBiome.  The article follows Julia Scott as she eliminates soap and shampoo and instead sprays herself with Bacteria rich AO+ spray.  The spray is full of a particular bacteria that consumes ammonia.  The result of this is that it competes with other bacteria, including dangerous MRSA.

So what’s the tie in?  Well, it seems, as AOBiome states, that we have swung too far in the balance of sterilization.  The new thinking is that Bacteria is not something to be wiped out, but to be studied.  Blanket sterilization leads to ill health on a personal level, but also results in damage to our ecosystem.

The Danger in your Anti-Bacterial soap

Salon today posted a new article describing the dangers of triclosan, which is contained in ‘anti-bacterial’ soaps and a range of other products, including toothpaste, lipstick, shoes and cutting boards.

The article, originally published in Scientific America, is important because it states in no uncertain terms that triclosan is not safe.

Watch out for the anti-bacterial label.
Watch out for the anti-bacterial label.

In animal studies it has been shown to interfere with the regulation of thyroid hormones (affecting metabolism and brain development), testosterone synthesis (decreasing sperm counts) and estrogen action (causing early onset of puberty). Exposure to triclosan has been shown to weaken heart muscle, impairing contractions and reducing heart function, and to weaken skeletal muscle, reducing grip strength. In aquatic environments fish exposed to triclosan were unable to swim properly.

Higher urinary levels of triclosan are associated with hay fever, allergies to airborne triggers (like ragweed and cats) and food (peanut, shrimp, dairy) allergies. Triclosan has even been associated with elevated body mass index in adults. Although the mechanism driving this association is not clear, researchers suggest that it could be due to changes in the gut flora or hormones.

It’s also important because the FDA has been pondering a triclosan ban since 1978.  So if you want to eliminate exposure, then you need to take it into your own hands.

Real men use noShampoo

According to the New York Times, Old Spice is introducing a new hair care line with the byline “Hair that gets results.”

Well, let’s quantify those results:

Chuck Norris uses noshampoo.
Use shampoo? Chuck Norris will get you.
  1. shampoo contributes to plastics pollution.  According to this NYT article half of all plastic pollution originates from single use products, read: shampoo.  The average American consumes (and ultimately disposes of) 220lbs (100kg) of plastic per year.  And this is due to rise to over 300 lbs of plastic per person per year.
  2. shampoo ingredients pollute our water.  According to this article at cnycentral.com the NY attorney general is looking to ban ‘microbeads’ tiny plastic beads used in many shampoos.  Why?  Because they end up in our water.  Microbeads were recently found in alarmingly high levels in Lake Erie.  Not enough?  According to this study by the national institute of health, surfactants found in shampoo contribute to the destruction of micro-algae, threatening the food supply in our waters.
  3. shampoo results in hair loss. According to this article at aarp, your shampoo includes foamers and thickeners, irritants, preservatives,  alcohol, and greasers.  All of these destroy your natural balance and increase hair loss.  As men and women age, it becomes more difficult for our scalp to counter these problems.

Old Spice spent $33 million in the first 9 months of 2013 convincing the general population that their products make you a real man.  Well, if real men are balding polluters, then I agree, but as far as I’m concerned, real men use noshampoo.

The Sauna noShampoo, or how Saunas clean your hair

It’s been a long time since I used shampoo, 7 years.  It’s been even longer since I used a Sauna.  That all changed since I inherited a Sauna with my latest home.  What follows is a description of the wonders of the Sauna, especially for your hair.

First of, a Sauna, for all of those not familiar, is a small wooden room fitted with a heater.  The room is small and well insulated, usually just big enough to fit the desired number of people, most often two, and the heater.  Most Saunas are five feet wide, seven feet long and seven feet tall.  There is a particular type of wood used for the walls, ceiling and benches which give a Sauna its unique and pleasing smell.  The heater is typically electric and contains three heating elements surrounded by volcanic rock.

The ritual of the Sauna is as follows:  The heater is turned on for about 30 to 60 minutes prior to use.  This brings the temperature in the Sauna upwards of 160 to 200 degrees (fahrenheit, of course) or hotter.  You then enter the Sauna and, depending on your preference, add ladles of water to the hot rocks.  Thus you vary the humidity to your personal preference.  Usually, you stay inside for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and people do it anywhere from one to three times per session.  In Finland, this is a daily ritual.  I will always take a cold shower at the end of each session to close the pores  The results are well documented and I won’t go to much in depth.  Suffice it say, you sleep better, your appetite lowers, and you generally feel great.

But, my recent experiences were the first since I stopped using shampoo.  What were the results?  Nothing short of astounding.

First of all, after the first session, much of the oily buildup is washed right off in the post session cold shower.   The result is perfectly balanced hair that feels great for several days. Each proceeding Sauna feels less spectacular for the hair, as the hair is now balanced.

This is a nice cold beer.
This is a nice cold beer.

Needless to say, this got me interested, and so I started looking around.  According to saunascape “Saunas make your hair look great.”  They go on to say:

We spend a lot of time and money on different hair care products to keep our hair looking natural. The truth is, we don’t need to. Our body has many specialized organs that condition our hair better than the synthetic products on the marketplace. The trick is getting them out.

A few minutes in the sauna will activate the sebaceous glands on your scalp, releasing a set of compounds that moisturize and condition your hair. If you wash the dirt away and spend some time in a sauna, a quick rinse is all it takes to reap these benefits.

Glenn at Sauna times summarizes his hair care routine:

I used no shampoo for 74 straight days.  I took a sauna 3-4 times a week.  Each sauna, I took 3-4 rounds, jumping into the clear cool lake water between rounds.  That’s it.

So, readers, the take home message for the evening (cause that’s when you take saunas) is: enjoy a regular Sauna and forget about your hair, forever.

PS. An avid reader asked me about sweating and how to ‘clean’ hair after sweating.  The answer is: sweating is cleaning your hair…

Is antibacterial soap harming your health?

The latest news coming from the FDA (the food and drug administration) is that a triclosan, a chemical present in most antibacterial soaps, might actually be bad for your health

Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation…Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics [link]

Triclosan ingredient list
Check for triclosan on the ingredients list.

The FDA will be reviewing its current regulation of the product.  Triclosan is also present in many toothpastes.  Although its use here is tied to a reduction in Gingivitis, at what price is this?

noShampoo promotes peoples’ health by advising against unnecessary use of chemicals on the body, primarily in shampoo, but also present in almost any consumer product.  Next time you spread something on your body, make sure you’re confident about what the effects might be.

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This is why we started Balloons Blow… The massive increase in balloon pollution did not arise from children’s accidental slips, it is the result of tricky marketing & an industry that promotes & encourages the mass littering of their product. When you see something alarming, & find that the only discussion about it is from people in the business spreading propaganda, you can’t just stay silent. We had to show people what we are finding. These are just some of the balloons we have collected from our favorite beaches & other natural areas. We find more latex balloons than mylar. This littering & the harm it causes is totally preventable.

Photo: This is why we started Balloons Blow... The massive increase in balloon pollution did not arise from children's accidental slips, it is the result of tricky marketing & an industry that promotes & encourages the mass littering of their product. When you see something alarming, & find that the only discussion about it is from people in the business spreading propaganda, you can't just stay silent. We had to show people what we are finding. These are just some of the balloons we have collected from our favorite beaches & other natural areas. We find more latex balloons than mylar. This littering & the harm it causes is totally preventable.