3 Summer Season and Camping Items That May Contribute to Your Allergy Misery

Three everyday items that many of us use when we go camping, or throughout the summer season, that we would never suspect might be causing or contributing to allergies are:

1. Suntan products: Lotions, Oils, or Sprays
2. Bug Sprays or Repellants
3. Antibacterial Soaps or Hand Sanitizers

Most suntan products are made with chemical sunscreens, many of which have been found to be unsafe or even carcinogenic, and there is continuing debate as to their actual effectiveness in providing adequate protection from the damaging effects of over exposure to the sun. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I’ve blogged extensively over the past few years on various aspects of this topic. While not much has changed over the years, there is some momentum building around the need to innovate and find safer sunscreen ingredients.

This may well be a hidden source of allergy trouble. Until we see some real change and innovation in this arena your best tactic for choosing sun care products that won’t cause more trouble than they are worth is to eliminate commonly used sunscreen chemicals like Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, and Octocrylene in favor of sunblock products made with naturally occurring minerals like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide. These mineral sunblock products stay on the surface of the skin and reflect sunlight instead of being absorbed into the skin, so they are safer and more effective. And if you use suntan oils stay away from Mineral Oil – a petroleum derivative that has been found to be an endocrine disruptor– and instead, choose a healthy fat like virgin Coconut Oil, which is totally safe and also an excellent skin care oil.

When it comes to bug sprays, there are not a lot of options out there to choose from and unfortunately most commercial bug sprays only disclose the active ingredient so you have no idea what else is in the product that could be creating additional problems. As much as humanly possible you should avoid DEET, which is a highly toxic substance. And because most of the time it comes in a spray form you end up inhaling that substance as well! Don’t be fooled by scent. Just because it doesn’t smell bad doesn’t mean it isn’t bad for you!

Instead opt-in for products made with 100% pure essential oils like Citronella, Lemongrass and Geranium, which are just a few of the many essential oils that are effective bug repellants. These are natural substances that your body can easily metabolize and eliminate so again, there’s no fear of chemical residue being left behind.

Last but not least, when it comes to antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers avoid products made with Triclosan! This ingredient is a derivative of Agent Orange and is considered highly toxic by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Product manufacturers would have you believe that because it’s used in diluted amounts it’s ok but it’s NOT! This ingredient is not only harmful to you it’s very harmful to the environment too.

Choose products made with Tea Tree and Lavender essential oils –both are very effective antibacterial agents without the toxic effects. For hand sanitizers look for products with these oils in a base of Aloe Vera, Vegetable Glycerin or Ethanol. For soaps stick to liquid castile soaps made with essential oils.

One last note on this . . . you may be allergic to certain plants and herbs, which would make it difficult or even impossible to use products with the specific essential oils I mentioned above. Don’t let that discourage you. There are a wide variety of essential oils with therapeutic benefits to choose from and being sensitive to one in no way means you will be sensitive to others.

60 Minutes That Could Change the Course of Your Baby’s Future for the Better

There’s little doubt that maintaining a healthy pregnancy is one of the keys to birthing healthier happier babies. So what exactly does it mean to have a healthy pregnancy? There are the really obvious things like not smoking, drinking alcohol, or consuming drugs (recreational or otherwise) unless it’s medically necessary and under the supervision of your OB or other health care practitioner. Then there’s eating healthy, getting plenty of rest, staying fit, staying properly hydrated, managing your stress levels and emotions, and avoiding exposure to pesticides and dangerous chemicals like the ones commonly found in a lot of household cleaning products.

But what about the hidden health threats from the harmful toxins found in many personal care and beauty products? In my humble opinion, this is a very important subject that not nearly enough people are talking and educating about so unfortunately, a lot of women don’t give it much thought or overlook it altogether. They continue to use products on a regular basis that may be setting themselves and their babies up for all kinds of long-term health issues including, believe it or not, infant obesity! Sadly, even some nicely packaged products for babies and moms that are given as baby shower gifts from friends and family who mean well, contain these ingredients!

The research and evidence are overwhelming for anyone who is willing to take a hard look at what’s going on with the cumulative effects of using products made with these toxic ingredients. It’s not pretty, I can tell you that! Consider these shocking research findings:

The average woman uses 12 personal care products a day, each contains an average of 168 different chemical ingredients. It’s estimated that the average woman is exposed to over 2,000 chemicals daily from personal care products alone.

While there are many conscious consumers out there who “get it” and are doing their part to stay safe and healthy, clearly not enough women, including pregnant women and women who are planning to become pregnant, are getting the message!

That’s why I’m offering a FREE Healthy Pregnancy, Happy Baby training call, where you’ll learn what the top worst toxic ingredients in personal care and beauty products are that you MUST avoid, and why. You’ll also learn how to identify safer, more effective, natural alternatives, including essential oils (Mother Nature’s Rx) to set yourself and your baby up for a long healthy future.

This training is ideal for anyone who is pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or works with pregnant women, but even if you are none of these, you will still gain valuable insight and information to help you improve your health and wellness. Register here now  to join me for the next live call. Register even if you can’t make it to the call live so you can listen to the replay afterwards!

Please share this link with your network: http://www.aromatherapyforpregnancy.com/preview/

Help spread the word about this vital healh information!

Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health

Hope you’ve been enjoying all the insight and wisdom that’s being shared on these Tele-Summit calls. This evening is our 4th call in the series: “Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health.” I’ll be the resident expert for today’s session and I’ll be talking about something very important –-the hidden health threats to your baby from the personal care and beauty products you use! Some of the things I’ll cover on tonight’s session:

  • Startling new research about ingredients in mass-produced personal care products that may pre-dispose your baby to obesity (among other serious health problems!)
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  • The top 10 ingredients you MUST avoid to keep you and your baby safe and how you can find out if the products you’re using right now may contain them
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  • Using Mother Nature’s Rx: Essential Oils to safely address some of the most common pregnancy-related complaints

Much of what I’ll be sharing on tonight’s call applies to you whether you are pregnant or not, but becomes even more important when you are or planning to be. There’s no better time than now to take inventory of the products you currently use and toss the ones that are bad for you. Come join me and learn how to become a more conscious consumer so you can stop exposing your baby to hidden threats from toxic exposure while learning how to identify and choose safer, more effective natural alternatives.

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern. Don’t miss this very important call!

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info. It’s FREE!

Spring Clean Your Air: 5 Tips to Reduce Allergens & Hidden Health Hazards in Your Home Part 2

Here are three more hidden health hazards in your home to pay close attention to. Most people are totally unaware of these and the increased opportunity for allergies and illness they present!

  1. Furniture and Home Furnishings That Can Bring You DownOne major source of hazardous exposure is the chemicals and neuro-toxic solvents used furniture and home furnishings. These include but are not limited to the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint, solvents used to stain and finish furniture, flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs) and stain resistant coatings like perchloroethylene (the main chemical used in dry-cleaning) added to your drapes, carpets, upholstered furniture and bedding, and even the PVC (polyvinyl chloride)in your plastic shower curtain. Collectively, your home furnishings outgas a variety of chemicals that can become a significant source of pollution in the home.To make matters worse, your carpets, drapes and upholstery can be a gold mine for dust mites, and if your home is damp, a fertile breeding ground for mold –-both common sources of allergy and illness. For this reason, many allergists recommend that their patients get rid of carpets altogether. At a minimum, you can install a dehumidifier and make sure to steam and clean carpets thoroughly and regularly.

    Next time you’re ready to paint, switch to low or no VOC paints. Consider upgrading your home with furniture made from natural fibers like wool, organic cotton, untreated wood or wood finished with a water-based stain. Or buy used or antique furniture that’s at least five years old, where it’s a good bet that most of their chemicals have already been released. Avoid furnishings made from particleboard, polyurethane foam, and PVC.

  2. The Bedroom: An Oasis of Calm or a Chamber of Horrors?It may sound a little dramatic, but the place where you spend a third of your life may be teaming with toxins and dust mites! Most traditional mattresses are made with metal coils coated in toxic chemicals to keep them from rusting and degrading over time. On top of that, they are filled with polyurethane foam, flame retardant materials, and/or cotton loaded with pesticides. Then there are the chemicals added to the outer layer of the mattress to make them water and stain resistant. That adds up to a lot of chemicals that you are frequently lounging around on!Ditch your mattress in favor of a greener, cleaner option like natural (not hybrid) latex, natural rubber, organic cotton, or organic wool. Natural latex is naturally anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, dust mite proof, and relieves pressure points along the body. Natural rubber is exceptionally breathable, naturally hygienic, will not house dust mites, and has been shown to reduce pressure-point pain up to 30% better than memory foam. Wool is an excellent choice because of its high moisture content and the protein (keratin) that it contains, making it naturally flame resistant and hostile to dust mites.

    If you can’t swing a new bed, make yours more comfy and allergen-free by adding a wool or natural rubber mattress topper. The wool in mattress toppers (and in mattresses) is well encased in cotton so if you’re allergic or sensitive to it there shouldn’t be a problem. At a minimum, swing for organic cotton zippered encasings to protect your lungs from dust mite allergens and put a little barrier between yourself and the toxins being out gassed by your current mattress.

  3. Do You Practice Fireplace Safety & Common Sense?If you have or use a fireplace then you may be setting yourself up for possible carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, wood fires can release a substance called benzopyrene–a carcinogen that can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.Make sure your fireplace and/or wood stove are installed properly and the flue is open when you light a fire. Have both inspected annually to remove creosote build up which can block the chimney and force toxic fumes back into your living room. As a precaution, install a smoke and carbon monoxide detector nearby.

Spring Clean Your Air: 5 Tips to Reduce Allergens & Hidden Health Hazards in Your Home Part 1

Springtime with its fresh blooms and high pollen counts, is typically the time when the allergy-prone suffer most. Most of us dismiss our sneezing, wheezing, drippy noses and goopy eyes as the inevitable result of this sequence of events and pop a few antihistamines or cold tablets to manage the symptoms without a second thought. But what if the cause of your allergy misery was the result of something else?

The simple truth is, there are numerous hidden health threats in your home that can cause allergies and other health problems year-round. If you suffer from chronic allergies, there are ways to reduce or eliminate your exposure to these hazards if you know where to look for them.

Here are two of the five hidden (and not-so-hidden) hazards in your home that may be contributing to your misery and what you can do to eliminate them:

    1. Common Household Cleaning and Laundry Products to Die For

      Many of the everyday house hold cleaning products we use are loaded with ammonia, bleach, and a host of dangerous chemicals that can burn your lungs, eyes, nose, and skin –if not used with great caution. Most laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and even dishwashing liquid are made with synthetic fragrances containing phthalates — chemicals used by industry to soften plastics that have been shown to be endocrine disruptors.All those noxious smells can be extremely irritating and harmful especially when you come in frequent or constant contact with them. The good news is there are a growing selection of plant-based, chlorine-, ammonia- and phosphate-free detergents and multi-purpose cleaners to choose from. Or you can make your own safe, highly effective and “green” cleaning products from ingredients like baking soda, washing soda, borax, white vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils.

 

  1. Synthetic Air Fresheners & Scented Candles with Leaded Wicks

    According to one Consumer Product Safety Commission study, as many as 40% of candles on the market still contained lead wires inside their wicks. A candle with a lead-core wick has been shown to release five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for childrenand exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air.It’s now believed that frequent candle burning –especially synthetically scented candles– is a major source of soot and toxic exposure because the chemicals (i.e. phthalates) used in “fragrance” oils tend to soften the wax, increasing the need to add metals to the wicks to stiffen them. Though candle soot is primarily composed of elemental carbon, it can include phthalates, lead, and other toxic ingredients such as benzene and tuolene.

    Scented aerosol sprays, gels, and plug-in air fresheners contain harmful chemicals linked to breathing difficulties, developmental problems in babies, and cancer in laboratory animals.

    Using essential oils in a diffuser or in a water-based aromatherapy spray is a perfectly safe and healthy way to scent your home. And certain essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary and lavender, can assist with sinus congestion associated with allergies, reduce stress, and enhance wellbeing. Always use candles made from 100% vegetable (soy) wax or beeswax with coreless cotton wicks, and scented with essential oils only.

Internal Spring Cleaning: 7 Tips for Successful Cleansing and Detox

Here are my top 7 tips to ensure your cleanse is successful and you are able to achieve real detoxification. Here’s hoping that your transition into spring is one that makes you feel lighter and full of energy to take on all the projects and activities that come with longer days and more sunshine!

    1. If you cleanse too hard, as can happen during a fast, you often end up with a “healing crisis” –an acute condition brought on by the process. This is due to the rapid release of toxins into your system, which is faster than your organs can handle them. Symptoms range from headaches and nausea to fever and rashes, and while these usually only last for the first couple of days, it can be very unpleasant depending on how toxic you are when you start.

 

    1. While it’s true that cleansing can jump start your weight loss efforts, be wary of products that are really weight loss products claiming to be detox and cleansing products too. These products may contain harsh ingredients and chemicals to jump-start a detox program that can also be harmful to the body. In many cases they are often just liquid-type diets intended for rapid weight loss by reducing or controlling calories, and don’t offer much by way of actual cleansing.

 

    1. One of the simplest and most common ways to cleanse your system is to simply increase your intake of quality fiber. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and goes through the body undigested until it reaches the colon. Fiber also stimulates the liver to release toxins back into the digestive tract so they can ultimately, be removed by the colon.

      There are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber (like psyllium husks) absorbs toxins and is the more gentle of the two. Insoluble fiber (like oat bran) sweeps the colon and is harsher, but when combined with liquid bentonite (clay), it’s remarkably effective at pulling material off colon walls that’s been there for years. Always remember, when eating more fiber, drink extra water. Because fiber absorbs fluids and expands, additional fluids are needed to keep it moving through the digestive tract.

 

    1. You don’t have to starve to cleanse. A good meal plan is the most significant part of a good cleansing program that’s not based on fasting. For at least 2 weeks, eliminate bread or flour products of any type (including pasta, cakes, cookies, cereal or crackers), dairy products, tropical fruit, fermented foods, sweets, caffeine and alcohol. Other foods to avoid are nightshade foods (eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms), shellfish, peanuts, and grapes.

      During this time, your diet should consist of 80% alkaline and neutral ash-forming foods like green vegetables, non-tropical fruit, potatoes, squash, alkaline grains like millet, coldwater fish, onions, garlic, green tea and almonds. Eat less than 20% acid-forming beans, lentils, eggs, and grains (oats, corn, and wheat).

 

    1. A final component to include in colon cleansing is daily essential fatty acids from good quality oils. EFAs such as fish oils, flax, and borage oil can lubricate and soothe the colon in addition to proving nutritional support for other aspects of your body’s health and well being.

 

    1. As part of your detoxification, support your blood and lymph systems with teas containing blood-purifying herbs like burdock root, red clover or dandelion. Help blood and lymph circulate more effectively with dry brushing, or massage, and encourage toxin elimination through the skin via sweat-inducing exercise, Epsom salt baths, or dry saunas.

 

  1. Maintain a healthy internal environment by adding probiotics like plain yogurt or kefir and naturally fermented foods to your regular diet, to support the proliferation of healthy bacteria in your gut.

Whether your goal is to maintain longer-term health or simply to get back on track to better nutrition, a program of regular cleansing (i.e. at least twice a year, or ideally, once a quarter) can make all the difference in how you look and feel.

Is Your Body Overdue for a Spring Cleaning? Cleansing & Detoxification for Optimal Health

When spring arrives I’m usually thinking about spring-cleaning and looking forward to getting rid of some of the clutter that has accumulated during the fall and winter months! Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ins and outs, and the importance of internal cleansing and herbal detoxification. The changing of the seasons is the time that a lot of people decide to cleanse –perhaps mimicking the cleansing effect of nature’s transition from the dead and darkness of winter into the light and freshness of spring. With the return of sunshine and longer days, the bloom of wildflowers dotting the landscape all around us, so comes the desire to start anew.

While cleaning house and getting rid of the clutter we’ve accumulated over the winter months seems almost second nature to most of us, how many of us routinely ponder the importance or necessity of a little internal spring-cleaning?

Our ancestors engaged in cleansing rituals at least twice a year –usually in the spring and in the fall. They probably weren’t fully aware of their bodies’ need to eliminate old cells and the toxins generated by their bodies’ normal ongoing metabolic processes in order to build healthy new tissue. And yet instinctively, they would ingest the herbs and plant foods that provided them with the detoxification necessary to promote natural healing.

We’ve come a long way since those days and are now faced with an unfortunate fact of modern life — routine exposure to a significant amount of additional toxins. Even if you don’t work directly with chemicals or live near a chemical or industrial plant or an obvious source of pollution, you still have dozens of environmental toxins –pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, and byproducts from plastics –circulating in your bloodstream and stored up in your fat cells. In fact, research indicates that the average American is exposed to a staggering 100,000 chemicals, 25% of which are hazardous to human health.

With all that toxic exposure on top of the internal toxins generated through metabolic waste, it’s not hard to see how over time, the organ systems of the body responsible for processing and eliminating toxins become overloaded and inefficient. When toxins start to accumulate and increase in your tissues, a variety of conditions can show up –from fatigue, allergies, and asthma, to digestive disturbances, skin problems, or painful joints. If you experience these symptoms, it’s a good bet that inflammation is also present, and too much inflammation can lead to cellular damage, chronic disease, recurrent infections, and general immune system deficiencies.

The Metal and The Damage Done: Mercury

Last but not least of the Fearsome Four is Mercury. Next to Plutonium it is the most toxic naturally occurring substance on the planet. It’s a potent neurotoxin that disrupts the development of the central nervous system, posing the biggest threat to pregnant women, children, and teenagers. Pregnant women should take particular care because Mercury easily crosses the blood brain barrier and placenta, and can remain in the body for up to a year –potentially harming a baby’s growing nervous system and brain. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), children exposed to Methylmercury in Utero have trouble with attention, cognitive thinking, memory, language, fine motor and visual spatial skills, Adults with high mercury levels have trouble with vision, motor function, and memory. Low-level symptoms include memory loss, fatigue, insomnia, joint pain, or headache.

That’s because Mercury competes with oxygen for space in red blood cells. When oxygen can’t get through, the body is deprived of energy. That’s why fatigue is a common symptom of mercury poisoning. Scientists are just beginning to understand how chronic, low-level exposure to Mercury can contribute to chronic health problems often seen in adults like heart disease and cataracts. And consumer advocacy groups like the Policy Project warn that the elderly and people with autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure and other heart-disease risk factors may also be vulnerable.

So how do we become exposed to Mercury? Coal-burning power plants are by far, the biggest producers of mercury pollution –spewing about 98,000 pounds of Mercury into the air. Remember the definition of heavy metal? Well from the air, Mercury seeps into the ground and rivers, lakes, and oceans, where it’s absorbed by small micro-organisms like algae. From there, it makes its way up the food chain to bigger and bigger fish –becoming more and more concentrated at each level.  Sadly, once Mercury enters the environment, it never leaves.

Seafood remains the biggest source of exposure though there’s still some debate as to which fish to avoid. Shark, swordfish and tuna seem to be the worst offenders. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends avoiding sea bass and halibut as well. See www.ewg.org/safefishlist/ for a more complete list.

Another common source of mercury exposure is the dental amalgam fillings in your teeth. Though the potential harm from this is also hotly debated. The FDA now says amalgam fillings, which contain 50% elemental mercury, may have neuro-toxic effects but doesn’t explicitly advise pregnant women and children against them.

To minimize exposure to this metal, be careful what fish you eat and how often you eat it. Aim low on the food chain and if you have to eat tuna stick to light canned tuna or fresh yellowfin tuna, which are likely to be less contaminated than other types. If you have mercury filings, find a holistic dentist experienced in the removal of mercury fillings and get them replaced with less toxic fillings.

As an added measure of protection, eat seaweed with your fish. It’s a natural “chelator” in the gut. If you hate seaweed then take a selenium supplement (at least 200 micrograms) instead.

The Metal and The Damage Done: Lead

Lead is quite possibly the most dangerous of all the heavy metals because of the damage it can wreak on our bodies. This member of the Fearsome Four is a potent neurotoxin that affects brain development and the nervous system. Too much of it can be deadly.

Originally discovered as a by-product of smelting silver, this metal has been used by humans since the beginning of civilization. Until the 1970s, gasoline was single-handedly responsible for most of America’s lead emissions, and lead-based paint was the second biggest contributor to lead pollution. Before 1955 much of the white colored house paint used nationwide contained up to 50% lead. It wasn’t until the 1970s that government started lowering the allowable levels in paint to < 1%. As much as 86% of homes built before 1978 still contain lead-based paint!

Today one of the main sources of lead exposure in adults is drinking water contaminated from old lead pipes and faucets. Other common but not so obvious sources of lead exposure come through burning candles with lead-based wicks, and for women, using lipstick –many of which have been found to contain alarming levels of lead. In October 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released it’s report called ‘A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick.’ For more information or to download a copy of this report click here or read their Lead in Lipstick FAQs.

It’s estimated that people have anywhere from 125 to 200 mg of lead in their bodies –nearly 1000 times more than or ancestors! High lead levels can damage arteries, cause irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and hypertension. Unfortunately, there is no known level of lead that is safe for humans.

To reduce your exposure to this metal, avoid burning candles made with lead wicks and find natural alternatives to commercial lipsticks. If you drink tap water, run the tap for a few minutes to flush out any standing water from the pipes that may have been contaminated, or install a water-filtration system. And use low or no VOC paints, especially inside your home.

As an extra protective measure, up your intake of both Vitamin C and Calcium (the latter competes for space with the metal and keeps it from entering bone cells!).

The Metal and The Damage Done: Cadmium

Cadmium is the second heavy metal in the Fearsome Four — a growing source of environmental toxicity that should be avoided as much as possible. Found deep below the earth’s surface, it began contaminating the food and water supply when people started mining for zinc, which is often found mixed with cadmium. Since cadmium is naturally drawn to zinc it can elbow zinc out of the body –throwing key biological processes out of whack. Without a proper zinc-to-cadmium ratio, the body becomes more vulnerable to cadmium toxicity. And too much Cadmium can eventually lead to a depressed immune system, kidney damage, and cancer.

To lower your exposure to this metal, don’t eat refined grains (when grains are refined, the outer zinc-rich layers are stripped off and the cadmium-rich kernel is retained). Instead, eat zinc-rich foods like whole grains, beans and nuts.

Avoid inhaling cigarette smoke –either directly or indirectly. One cigarette contains 1 microgram of Cadmium. When smoked, 30% of a cigarette’s Cadmium is absorbed directly into the smoker’s lungs. The rest is released into the air.

Another insidious source of exposure appears to be kids’ jewelry, face paints, and toys so choose these items wisely.

As an added measure of protection against this metal, take a super green supplement that includes zinc, calcium and selenium –all 3 help the body rebuff cadmium deposits.