11 Commonly Used Chemicals In Conventional Shampoos That May Be Detrimental To Your Health

Most people shampoo their hair a few times a week and may not realize the toxic mix they are absorbing through their skin. When you shampoo your hair, the 20 blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, and 1,000 nerve endings soak in the toxins. When toxins are absorbed through your skin, they bypass your liver and enter the bloodstream and tissues directly, with no filtering.

You simply cannot assume that because a product is for sale in the marketplace it is safe. Deceptive advertising seems commonplace with many companies, as many products are labelled natural and yet contain hazardous ingredients.

11 Commonly Used Chemicals in Shampoos 

If you’ve ever tried reading the label on your shampoo bottle, you might have felt like you were reading Latin, since many ingredients are listed by their chemical name. Many common ingredients in your shampoo are linked to cancer, asthma, neurological problems, skin irritation, and other health problems.

Some of the basic ingredients in shampoo include surfactants, preservatives, fragrance, and colour, as well as active or inactive ingredients that can include stabilizers, thickeners, and products to nourish or strengthen your hair.

This is by no means a complete list of chemicals or their side effects.

Diethanolamine (DEA): DEA, or diethanolamine, is a wetting agent used to create a rich lather that many consumers expect in their shampoo. DEA reacts with other chemicals in the shampoo and can create an extremely potent carcinogen called NDEA (nitrosodiethanolamine). NDEA is easily absorbed through the skin and is linked with bladder, esophagus, liver, and stomach cancer.

To eliminate your exposure to NDEA avoid these ingredients:

Cocamide DEA or Cocamide Diethanolamine
DEA Lauryl Sulfate or Diethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate
Lauramide DEA or Lauramide Diethanolamine
Linoleamide DEA or Linoleamide Diethanolamine
Oleamide DEA or Oleamide Diethanolamine
Any product containing TEA or Triethanolamine

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS): SLS is a detergent and a surfactant used to break down surface tension, allowing the shampoo to become a more effective cleanser. SLS is also linked to Nitrosamines, a potent carcinogen that causes your body to absorb nitrates, another known carcinogen. Over 40,000 studies in the PubMed science library include information on the toxicity of this chemical.

Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES): SLES is a concern because it can become  contaminated with Dioxane during the manufacturing process. Dioxane is a suspected carcinogen. Because the liver has a difficult time metabolizing this effectively, it remains in the body for an extended period of time.

Propylene Glycol: Although this ingredient is used in anti-freeze for your car radiator, you can also find it in moisturizers, hand sanitizers, baby products, conditioners, and shampoos. MSDS sheets warn users to avoid skin contact, yet it remains in many cosmetics. It is linked to liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride: These chemicals function as a preservative, antimicrobial, and surfactant in shampoo. They are also associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, as well as allergies.

Formaldehyde: Quaternium-15 is a formaldehyde releasing preservative. There are 85 studies in the PubMed science library that include information on the toxicity of this chemical. On a scale of 0-10, this product rates an 8 on the Skin Deep database. The European Union has determined that this ingredient may not be safe in cosmetics.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine- (CAPB): EWG Skin Deep lists this as a moderate overall hazard, associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. According to PubMed, the increasing rates of sensitization led to CAPBs being named Allergen of the Year in 2004.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone: According to Skin Deep, this widely used preservative is associated with allergic reactions and there is also some cancer concern.

Methylisothiazolinone: According to Skin Deep, this widely used preservative is associated with allergic reactions. Lab studies on brain cells of mammals suggest that it may also be neurotoxic. Methylisothiazolinone can be very irritating. For this reason, it is mostly used in rinse-off products. The concentrations in leave-on products are restricted to a minimal amount to lessen the risk of a negative reaction.

Fragrance: Artificial fragrances can contain hundreds, even thousands of chemicals, including phthalates. Since fragrances are protected as a trade secret, the full ingredients do not have to be listed on the label. Fragrances are a major cause of allergic reactions.

How Do I Find Safe Products?

Research the company you are buying products from. Go to company websites, look up their mission statement, and check out their product lines. Are they using synthetic ingredients or organic? Do they offer third party testing or product certification?

Learn to read labels. This can be a challenge, since many ingredients are listed by a chemical name. Two great resources to help you get started are EWG’s Skin Deep database and Ruth Winter’s book A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, which has a wealth of information.

Understand that certain terms can be ambiguous. There is no federal regulation for the word natural. So just because something states it is natural, doesn’t mean it is safe. Lets be clear, the FDA does not define what it means for a product to be labelled organic or natural or hypoallergenic. The processing of a natural product can involve the addition of chemicals to break it down to a useable formula.

Natural and organic are not the same.  Natural can mean the product was derived from a natural source, while the term organic means that the plant was grown without the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. However, just because some organic products were used, doesn’t mean the entire product is organic.

Made with organic ingredients: According to the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) site, products with at least 70% organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” on their label.  Products with less than 70% organic ingredients must list those items on the label, and can’t have a USDA organic label on the product.

3rd party certification. USDA organic certification means that 95% of the ingredients are organic. NSF certification means that 70% organic ingredients were used.

References

A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, 7th Edition: Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals. 7th Edition. 2009.

EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

MSDS

Fragrance Free Versus Unscented… Is There a Difference?

Is there a difference between products that are labelled unscented or fragrance free? Yes, and if you want to avoid scented products then fragrance free is what you’re looking for.

Many consumers are under the misconception that unscented and fragrance free are the same thing.  They are not. Fragrance free means no fragrance or masking fragrance was added to the product.

Unscented products are products that use a masking fragrance to hide the scent of the product.

What does fragrance mean?

Fragrance can be a combination of either natural or synthetic ingredients. In truth the list of chemicals used in a scent can be quite lengthy. In addition a scent can be considered a trade secret and therefore companies can use the term “fragrance” or “parfum” on a product label without disclosing specific ingredients.

Why should I be concerned if a product has fragrance?

There are more than 2,500 chemical ingredients used in fragrances such as perfumes, lotions, detergents, fabric softeners and other consumer products.  They are added to give products a pleasant smell. Many however can also cause asthmatic reactions, allergies and skin irritations.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, fragrance allergy is the number one cause of skin irritation and because they contain phthalates, it can carry additional risks.

Fragrance can be composed of dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemicals. Why is that a problem? Because you truly have no idea of what you are buying or using. If you have respiratory problems such as asthma or are chemically sensitive, these chemicals can have a potent and negative effect on your health.

Without proper labeling, how are you the consumer to know if a particular product contains an ingredient that is a known allergen or irritant for you?

Isn’t fragrance regulated?

The FDA gave companies a loop hole in labeling back in 1966.  It was originally created so that a company would not have to list proprietary ingredients on their label. This would prevent others from copying their formulas and recreating a product under their own label.  So under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1966, companies do not have to list all of the ingredients used in their products.

Fragranced ingredients must meet the same safety requirements as other cosmetic ingredients. However, they do not require FDA approval before they go on the market. Under U.S. regulation, scented products can simply use the word “fragrance” on their ingredients list. Each chemical ingredient used to create a particular scent does not have to be listed on the label, they simply fall under that one word “fragrance”.

The FDA does not have the same legal authority to require allergen labelling on cosmetic products as they do for food products. So if fragrance is an issue for you, your best bet is to stay with fragrance free products.

Unscented doesn’t mean free of fragrance

Unscented products traditionally have a masking fragrance. A masking fragrance is a scent that covers up unpleasant odors. If you don’t smell anything when you open a product, that’s another indication that a masking agent has been used to cloak or hide the smell. A fragrance free product will have some natural fragrance to it, usually related to base materials used in a product such as olive oil, coconut oil or shea butter.

In addition to masking fragrances, fragrances are created with phthalates; an industrial product that is known to cause hormone disruptions and is linked to numerous health issues, including various cancers. Yet they still remain in synthetic fragrances and numerous personal care products.

Allergies and asthma are common and significant reactions to fragranced products. The problems can be compounded as fragrances are layered by using multiple products. Consider the amounts of products that are used daily by consumers: scented detergent, scented dryer sheets, scented shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, cologne, perfume, etc. It all adds up and it all adds to your toxic body burden. 

What are phthalates?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are commonly used in numerous consumer products such as nail polish, hair sprays, toys, vinyl flooring, wall papers, food packaging, after shave, cologne, perfume and other fragranced products. 

What is a masking fragrance?

Fragrance and masking fragrance are the same thing. They are each a fragrance but with different purposes. Fragrances are used to give a product a pleasant smell. A masking fragrance is used to hide or cover up the smell of a product that may have an unpleasant or bad odor.

In addition, masking fragrance is used to create the illusion that a product is unscented, when in reality it is not. So while it is smell free, it isn’t fragrance free.

What does fragrance free mean?

Fragrance free means that no masking scents or fragrance are used in the product. The product should have a clear label that says “fragrance-free” somewhere on the label. Words that are indicative of fragrance such as “natural fragrance” “fragrance,” “perfume,” or “parfum” should not be listed anywhere on the label or in the ingredients.

You have the right to know what is in the products you use. Become a label reader. If in doubt contact the company directly to ask questions or voice your concern. Your health matters!

Additional Reference:

https://www.ewg.org/research/not-so-sexy

A Grain Free, Gluten Free Cauliflower Flat Bread Recipe With Step By Step Instructions

If you are gluten intolerant or simply trying to avoid grains, it can be a challenge to find a bread that fits into those parameters. Many store bought breads simply have too many unnecessary ingredients and are also very pricey.

I do occasionally enjoy a gluten free pizza or gluten free bread when I eat out. But nothing tastes as fresh and delicious as something you make yourself. Since I also tend to gain weight anytime I eat breads or pasta, it is always a balancing act for me with eating breads. That’s why I love this cauliflower bread, it is grain free and uses almond meal in place of flour to give this bread a nice fullness and depth of flavor.

Why use almond flour?

Almond meal/flour is nothing more than ground almonds. By leaving the skin on the almonds when you grind them, you reap the nutritional benefits of the  polyphenols (antioxidants) which are concentrated on the almond skins. Polyphenols have numerous health benefits. They are known to help fight cancer cells, free radicals, as well as reducing inflammation, helping to promote  normal blood pressure and protecting your skin against UVs. If you’re concerned about the tannins in the skins you can use sprouted almonds or almonds without the skins.

Almonds are high in protein and magnesium. Adding almond meal/flour adds antioxidants to this bread. According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, just 1 ounce of almonds can provide the same antioxidant capability as 1 cup of broccoli or green tea.

Cauliflower is also a great alternative to flour

Cauliflower is incredibly versatile, and works wonderfully not only in breads and pizza crusts but in desserts as well. This nutritious vegetable contains minimal amounts of starch, as opposed to traditional flours which if consumed regularly  can lead to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes.

From a nutritional standpoint one cup of fresh cauliflower contains:

Fiber

Folate

Magnesium

Manganese

Potassium

Protein

Riboflavin

Thiamin

Vitamins K and B6

Gluten Free, Grain Free Cauliflower Flat Bread Recipe

Ingredients

2 C. Raw riced cauliflower

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Herbamare

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 C. Almond flour **

4 eggs

2 T. EVOO

**You can make your own almond flour by simply placing almonds in a vitamix or other high speed blender and processing until the desired texture is achieved.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Cut up fresh cauliflower. Place the grating blade in food processor. Place lid on and tighten. Put cauliflower through chute to rice the cauliflower.

Remove cauliflower from processor, place in dish towel. Squeeze out excess water, by placing rice in towel and twisting to extract water. Alternately, you  could also use a juice or apple press to squeeze out the excess water.

Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix them well with a spoon.

Transfer the mixture to the lined baking tray and spread evenly into a 12″ x 9″ rectangle. Make sure the layer is a little less than a quarter inch thick.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until it is golden.

Once baked, cool the flatbread completely, turn over on a rack and gently peel the parchment paper from it. Cut into desired size. I cut mine into 3″ x 3″ pieces of flatbread, for a total of 12 pieces of flatbread.

Store the bread in a container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

 

The Health Benefits of Astragalus

Astragalus benefits are numerous and include the ability to boost energy levels, alleviate allergies, protect heart health, prevent various cancers, and relieve chemo side effects, among many others. Astragalus, also known for its immune boosting properties, has been used for thousands of years. It is known by many names such as huang qi in Chinese, meaning yellow leader, referring to the colour of the roots. In Japanese it is known as ogi and in Korean, hwanggi. Another common name is milk vetch.

Benefits of Astragalus Root

Astragalus is rich in iron, zinc, folic acid, and choline. Its roots contain polysaccharides, triterpenoids, isoflavones, glycosides, malonates, and saponins. Astragalus root is a potent adaptogen, which can help the body deal with emotional, mental, and physical stress, as well as having a major health benefits for the body. Three important components of astragalus are flavonoids, polysaccharides, and saponins. Flavonoids have antioxidant qualities that scavenge free radicals and help to prevent numerous issues such as cancer, heart disease, and immunodeficiency viruses.

Anemia: Astragalus helps to strengthen blood vessels and improve the body’s efficiency in delivering oxygen throughout the body.

Anti-Aging: Telomere length in DNA is associated with aging, with shorter telomeres indicating damaged, older cells. TAT2 increases the activity and production of telomerase, an enzyme that facilitates the repair of telomeres on DNA.

Anti-Inflammatory: The saponins and polysaccharides in astragalus reduce inflammatory response in a wide range of illnesses.

Asthma: Traditionally used to prevent asthma attacks in chronic asthma patients.

Colds and Flu: Rich with antioxidants to fight free radical damage and stimulate the immune system.

Cancer: Astragalus may have anti-tumour effects, specifically against melanoma and leukemia, as well as gastric cancer cell growth.

Chemotherapy Side Effects Relief: Patients receiving chemo may recover more quickly and experience relief from symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea when taking astragalus.

Cholesterol: Studies show that astragalus is promising in its ability to lower cholesterol levels and if proven in human trials, would be a great alternative to statins.

Diabetes: Lowers blood sugar.

Insomnia: Because astragalus promotes your overall health and hormonal balance, consuming astragalus on a consistent basis can help your body get back into a normal circadian rhythm.

Immune System Booster: This study shows astragalus’ ability to regulate immune responses.

Kidney Disease: Preliminary research suggests astragalus may help protect the kidneys and may help treat kidney disease.

Liver Cancer: This study shares the success of astragalus in decreasing or destroying cancer tumours, especially in instances of chemo resistance.

Seasonal Allergies: Astragalus may help reduce symptoms in people who have allergic rhinitis or hay fever.

Toxin Removal: Astragalus offers support for liver activity and can also help to reduce the effects of toxin overload in the liver.

Wound Healing: This 2012 study shares exciting news about increased recovery rates for healing wounds and prevention of scarring.

Who Shouldn’t Use Astragalus?

While this may be beneficial for people with weak immune systems, it’s not a good choice for people who have an autoimmune disease, as it can exacerbate your symptoms. Unless approved by a physician, people with multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, or systemic lupus erythematosus shouldn’t use astragalus.

People who have had transplant surgery should not use astragalus, because it counteracts with the drug (cyclophosphamide), which is responsible for minimizing the risk of organ rejection. Astragalus may interfere with the effectiveness of corticosteroid medications and other drugs that suppress the immune system.

Pregnant and nursing mothers should also discuss this with their healthcare provider.

Using Astragalus

Astragalus root is available in many forms, such as dried root strips, tinctures, powders, capsules, and tablets. It can be taken as a tea, strips can be added to soups, and powders can be added to many recipes.

Incorporating Astragalus Into Your Diet

Looking for some ways to incorporate astragalus into your diet? Give one of these delicious recipes a try.

Astragalus Butter

Immune Power Ball Recipe

Immune Soup

Astragalus Chai

Astragalus Miso Soup

Astragalus Fruit Smoothie

 

11 Commonly Used Chemicals in Shampoos That Are Detrimental To Your Health

Most people shampoo their hair a few times a week and may not realize the toxic mix they are absorbing through their skin. When you shampoo your hair, the 20 blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, and 1,000 nerve endings soak in the toxins. When toxins are absorbed through your skin, they bypass your liver and enter the bloodstream and tissues directly, with no filtering.

You simply cannot assume that because a product is for sale in the marketplace it is safe. Deceptive advertising seems commonplace with many companies, as many products are labelled natural and yet contain hazardous ingredients.

11 Commonly Used Chemicals in Shampoos 

If you’ve ever tried reading the label on your shampoo bottle, you might have felt like you were reading Latin, since many ingredients are listed by their chemical name. Many common ingredients in your shampoo are linked to cancer, asthma, neurological problems, skin irritation, and other health problems.

Some of the basic ingredients in shampoo include surfactants, preservatives, fragrance, and colour, as well as active or inactive ingredients that can include stabilizers, thickeners, and products to nourish or strengthen your hair.

This is by no means a complete list of chemicals or their side effects.

Diethanolamine (DEA): DEA, or diethanolamine, is a wetting agent used to create a rich lather that many consumers expect in their shampoo. DEA reacts with other chemicals in the shampoo and can create an extremely potent carcinogen called NDEA (nitrosodiethanolamine). NDEA is easily absorbed through the skin and is linked with bladder, esophagus, liver, and stomach cancer.

To eliminate your exposure to NDEA avoid these ingredients:

Cocamide DEA or Cocamide Diethanolamine
DEA Lauryl Sulfate or Diethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate
Lauramide DEA or Lauramide Diethanolamine
Linoleamide DEA or Linoleamide Diethanolamine
Oleamide DEA or Oleamide Diethanolamine
Any product containing TEA or Triethanolamine

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS): SLS is a detergent and a surfactant used to break down surface tension, allowing the shampoo to become a more effective cleanser. SLS is also linked to Nitrosamines, a potent carcinogen that causes your body to absorb nitrates, another known carcinogen. Over 40,000 studies in the PubMed science library include information on the toxicity of this chemical.

Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES): SLES is a concern because it can become  contaminated with Dioxane during the manufacturing process. Dioxane is a suspected carcinogen. Because the liver has a difficult time metabolizing this effectively, it remains in the body for an extended period of time.

Propylene Glycol: Although this ingredient is used in anti-freeze for your car radiator, you can also find it in moisturizers, hand sanitizers, baby products, conditioners, and shampoos. MSDS sheets warn users to avoid skin contact, yet it remains in many cosmetics. It is linked to liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride: These chemicals function as a preservative, antimicrobial, and surfactant in shampoo. They are also associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, as well as allergies.

Formaldehyde: Quaternium-15 is a formaldehyde releasing preservative. There are 85 studies in the PubMed science library that include information on the toxicity of this chemical. On a scale of 0-10, this product rates an 8 on the Skin Deep database. The European Union has determined that this ingredient may not be safe in cosmetics.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine- (CAPB): EWG Skin Deep lists this as a moderate overall hazard, associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. According to PubMed, the increasing rates of sensitization led to CAPBs being named Allergen of the Year in 2004.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone: According to Skin Deep, this widely used preservative is associated with allergic reactions and there is also some cancer concern.

Methylisothiazolinone: According to Skin Deep, this widely used preservative is associated with allergic reactions. Lab studies on brain cells of mammals suggest that it may also be neurotoxic. Methylisothiazolinone can be very irritating. For this reason, it is mostly used in rinse-off products. The concentrations in leave-on products are restricted to a minimal amount to lessen the risk of a negative reaction.

Fragrance: Artificial fragrances can contain hundreds, even thousands of chemicals, including phthalates. Since fragrances are protected as a trade secret, the full ingredients do not have to be listed on the label. Fragrances are a major cause of allergic reactions.

How Do I Find Safe Products?

Research the company you are buying products from. Go to company websites, look up their mission statement, and check out their product lines. Are they using synthetic ingredients or organic? Do they offer third party testing or product certification?

Learn to read labels. This can be a challenge, since many ingredients are listed by a chemical name. Two great resources to help you get started are EWG’s Skin Deep database and Ruth Winter’s book A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, which has a wealth of information.

Understand that certain terms can be ambiguous. There is no federal regulation for the word natural. So just because something states it is natural, doesn’t mean it is safe. Lets be clear, the FDA does not define what it means for a product to be labelled organic or natural or hypoallergenic. The processing of a natural product can involve the addition of chemicals to break it down to a useable formula.

Natural and organic are not the same.  Natural can mean the product was derived from a natural source, while the term organic means that the plant was grown without the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. However, just because some organic products were used, doesn’t mean the entire product is organic.

Made with organic ingredients: According to the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) site, products with at least 70% organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” on their label.  Products with less than 70% organic ingredients must list those items on the label, and can’t have a USDA organic label on the product.

3rd party certification. USDA organic certification means that 95% of the ingredients are organic. NSF certification means that 70% organic ingredients were used.

References

A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, 7th Edition: Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals. 7th Edition. 2009.

EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

MSDS