About three years ago, I found a lump in my breast and this triggered a need to find safer alternatives in personal care products, from deodorants to nail polish, shampoos and toothpastes! While it is evident that we cannot control every aspect of our lives, we can control some things.
The label on my former mouthwash reads:
Keep out of reach of children.
Do not swallow.
Not to be used by Children under 12 years of age.
In case of accidental ingestion contact a poison control center or doctor immediately.
Similarly, my former toothpaste is loaded with dangerous chemicals and toxins.
Medical Ingredients: Sodium Flourite 0.24%
Non-medical ingredients: sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, sodium lauryl sulphate, trisodium phosphate, flavour, cellulose gum, sodium phosphate, carbomer, sodium saccharin, titanium dioxide, FD & C blue no.1
It also comes with a warning label:
Do not swallow (in bold)
Children under 6 years of age should use only a “pea-sized” amount and be supervised while brushing.
The Scare: a lot of alarming ingredients are packed into these products.
Still confused? Lets do a little bit of research into some of the ingredients toxins above.
The mouth is a vascular area, so it’s an active getaway to the blood stream. Gums are more absorbent than most parts of the body consequently whatever is in your mouth can build up in your liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and tissues. Although difficult to digest – it is alarmingly true.
In children and youth, minimal ingestion of sodium fluoride can cause salivation, nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, and diarrhea. Large doses of the carcinogen may cause paralysis, muscular weakness and clonic convulsions, followed by respiratory and cardiac failure. Furthermore, it is one of the main ingredients in rat and cockroach poisons. Did you know that Fluoride has NEVER been approved by the Food and Drug Administration?
So why then is it in our toothpaste?
FD&C Blue Dye # 1 & 2: are synthesized from petroleum. In plain English, crude oil! These dyes are artificial colorings often found in familiar toothpaste brands and a wide variety of other products. Recent studies indicate that FD & C Blue Dyes 1 & 2 can trigger a wide number of behavioural, learning, and health problems. FD&C color dyes may also cause potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, lack of concentration, and cancer.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS):
Perhaps the most dangerous ingredient in personal-care products is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Because SLS has a foaming property, it is added to toothpastes in order to generate foam and give the impression that the toothpaste is working. Nonetheless, it has been found to be quite corrosive and harmful to skin tissue says a report by the American College of Toxicity.
In the cleaning industry, SLS is used in products such as garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and car wash soaps. Elsewhere, SLS is used for clinical testing as a primary skin irritant.
The journal of the American College of Toxicology reports that SLS can penetrate and be retained in the eye, brain, heart, and liver with potentially harmful long-term effects. Also found in most shampoos [including “no tears” baby shampoos] SLS can keep children’s eyes from developing properly, as well as cause cataracts in adults, and impair hair growth.
Alternatively, baking soda is one of the best cleaners, whether for teeth or the bathtub. And although it does not foam, it has natural whitening properties and it is antibacterial. Best of all… it’s safe!!
Finally, many standard toothpastes contain saccharin – the subtle sweetness you’ll miss when you switch to a natural toothpaste. However, dating as far back as the 1970s, research studies have linked saccharin to cancer in animals.
Do you really want to be swallowing all of these worrisome chemicals? Some research studies suggest that we consume a full tube of toothpaste a year! Below is an outline of safer greener alternatives.
Green Beaver is a Canadian independent company that creates eco-friendly natural toothpaste. My personal favourites are Cilantro Mint, Green apple and Zesty Orange. They however have 5 different flavours to choose from. I have been using Green Beaver for over a year now. Their toothpastes are formulated without fluoride, artificial flavours, dyes, SLS, parabens, chemical whiteners, chemical preservatives, or animal products. The company uses xylitol, a natural sweetener made from birch trees that also has antibacterial properties. The package is made from 100% recycled fibers.
Baking soda: Before the development of the commercial toothpaste industry, people used a homemade baking soda paste to brush their teeth. Combined with vegetable glycerine, baking soda kills the germs that cause cavities just as effectively as any product you buy in the drugstore. Moreover, baking soda is one of the cheapest commercial teeth whiteners present in the market today. One box of baking soda costs somewhere near a dollar, and this one box can be used for over a hundred brushings. Overall, brushing with baking soda is believed to enhance dental health.
Be warned though, because of this abrasive quality, if you use baking soda too frequently it will damage tooth enamel. I recommend alternating it with natural toothpaste.
Tom's of Maine is a popular brand widely available now at big-box grocery and drug stores, having been purchased in 2006 by Colgate-Palmolive. Many of their toothpastes are fluoride free, but they still contain SLS.
To sum up, you don’t have to be a biochemist to get these risks out of your life. It’s as simple as changing brands. You have a chance to vote every time you make a purchase. Vote with your wallets, choose safer, greener alternatives. Your health matters!