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Dispelling Myths Regarding the Use of Thimerosal in Vaccines

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By Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN
Executive Director
World Mercury Project
(Downloadable PDF)

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Recently, entertainer John Oliver discussed vaccines on his weekly HBO program Last Week with John Oliver. In doing so, he exposed viewers to several inaccuracies about vaccine safety, including those regarding the use and toxicity of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. In developing his monologue, it appears that Mr. Oliver—like numerous news outlets who promote vaccines as universally safe and effective—relied solely on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which continues efforts to persuade the American public that injecting mercury into pregnant women and children with thimerosal-containing flu vaccines is safe.

-->Listened to our latest podcast episode yet? Joe speaks with Franco DeNicola to explore how we can overcome fears and uncertainty during this time. This episode includes some helpful exercises as well. Click here to listen!

The talking points reviewed below were derived from a recently published article by CNN titled Thimerosal: Everything You Need To Know About This Vaccine Preservative.  These talking points are at best misleading, and at worse, patently false. The World Mercury Project has responded to each of the CNN/CDC talking points with factual information in our effort to educate consumers to avoid this completely unnecessary and dangerous neurotoxin.

CNN Statement: Thimerosal is best known as a preservative used in some vaccines to keep them from becoming contaminated. The preservative has gotten a lot of attention over the years, particularly since it was removed from childhood vaccines in 2001. Several studies have shown that the preservative is safe, but not everyone has been convinced. (Note, there is no link provided to support the statement that thimerosal is safe.)

WMP Fact:  Although thimerosal was slated for removal from childhood vaccines in 1999, the reformulation process took several years.  Products containing thimerosal were not recalled and the manufacturers were allowed to continue to distribute thimerosal containing vaccines well into 2001 that had a two year expiration date. In 2003 when all the residual stock of thimerosal containing vaccines was almost distributed, the CDC Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) made the new recommendation that all pregnant women, infants starting at six months of age and children receive flu vaccines annually.

This recommendation was contradictory to the fact that the prestigious Institute of Medicine made the recommendation in 2001 that pregnant women, infants and children NOT receive thimerosal preserved vaccines. At the time, the vast majority of flu vaccines contained thimerosal. The fetus is especially vulnerable to mercury exposure because it accumulates mercury at a higher rate than the mother.  This flu season approximately 48 million doses of flu vaccine containing thimerosal were distributed, leaving pregnant women, infants and children in the U.S. at risk of mercury exposure.

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 Here’s what you need to know about what it is (and what it isn’t).

CNN Statement: Thimerosal is the most widely used preservative in vials of vaccines used multiple times, a mercury-based organic compound that can prevent bacteria and fungus from growing.

WMP Fact:  While it is true that thimerosal is a widely used preservative, it is not necessarily an effective preservative. In 1975 the FDA convened a panel of experts to review the use of thimerosal as a preservative. The agency issued a report of the panel’s findings in the Federal Register where they concluded that “some mercury-containing preparations are not effective and others are not safe and effective” for antimicrobial use.

With respect to thimerosal in particular, the panel found evidence from 1950 which concluded that “thimerosal was no better than water in protecting mice from potential fatal streptococcal infections.” and “35.3 times more toxic for embryonic chick heart tissue than for Staphylococcus aureus.” The panel concluded that “thimerosal was not safe for OTC topical use and not effective as a topical antimicrobial because its bacteriostatic action can be reversed.”

Most of the literature reviewed addressed mercury’s lack of antibacterial properties. One study published in 1970 titled, “Three thousand years of mercury. A plea for abandonment of a dangerous, unproven therapy,” addressed mercury’s lack of effectiveness regarding anti-fungal properties.  

Why do vaccines need preservatives?

CNN Statement: Vaccine makers started using preservatives in the 1930s after they found that contamination could become a problem with multi-dose vaccines. Doctors learned that the hard way in 1928, when 12 children died after getting vaccinated for diphtheria. An investigation found that the multi-dose vaccine had been contaminated with living staphylococci. The children had been injected with the diphtheria vaccine and a staph infection.

WMP Fact: While it is true that preservatives are used to prevent bacterial contamination in multi-dose vials of vaccines, there is ample evidence provided by federal agencies and independent scientists that spans the last 80 years which documents that thimerosal is not an effective or safe vaccine preservative.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1948 titled “The bacteriostatic and bactericidal actions of some mercurial compounds on hemolytic streptococci,” the authors vigorously argued that thimerosal was ineffective as a “disinfectant, germicide and antiseptic.”  In the review of the literature in this paper, the authors cited eight studies from 1928, 1935, 1937, 1938, and 1944 all of which drew similar conclusions.

There are several recent reports of thimerosal’s failure as a preservative as well.  Clusters of disease from Group A streptococcus infections were traced back to multi-dose vials of diphtheria toxoid, pertussis, and tetanus toxoid (DPT) vaccine which were contaminated after being opened.  Additionally, in 2004, a Chiron plant that manufactured Fluvirin was forced to close because its vaccine was contaminated with Serratia marcescens. This vaccine used thimerosal as a preservative in its product. In this case and others, thimerosal failed to prevent bacterial growth which resulted in dangerous infections.

What happens to the preservative in your body?

CNN Statement: Your body easily eliminates the thimerosal. Unlike chemicals that might stay in your body for a long time, it is quickly removed from the blood and excreted in your waste. Thimerosal does not build up in your system like other mercury-based compounds can. (Note, this link takes you to the CDC website where this statement is repeated, but with no references or resources to support the claim)

WMP Fact:  This statement is patently false. Thimerosal does leave the blood stream faster than methylmercury, but that is because it more quickly moves into the tissue and organs in the body than methylmercury.  A 2005 study funded by the National Institutes of Health compared brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to injected ethylmercury (thimerosal) and equal amounts of ingested methylmercury. In this study, ethylmercury exposure resulted in twice as much inorganic mercury in the brains of the infant monkeys compared to those exposed to methylmercury. Specifically, the relative concentrations in monkeys with detectable levels of inorganic mercury were 16 ng/g in thimerosal-treated monkeys and 7 ng/g in the methylmercury-treated monkeys in which inorganic mercury levels were detectable.  Inorganic mercury was below detectable levels in 8 out of 17 of the methylmercury-treated monkeys. Inorganic mercury has an estimated half-life in the brain of 27 years. Exposures to mercury during these critical periods of development disrupt the growth and migration of neurons, with the potential to cause irreversible damage to the central nervous system.

Is it safe?

CNN StatementHundreds of studies have shown that it is extremely safe for humans. Several comprehensive reviews have shown there is no evidence of harm caused by low doses. (This links to the CDC website, but there is no data to support this claim on the site.) In animals, some studies have shown central nervous problems, coma and death, although the same has not been found in humans.

WMP Fact:  There are several reports of deaths in the medical literature from exposure to thimerosal.   In April of 2001 thimerosal was nominated by the FDA to be reviewed by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) due to the lack of toxicity and safety data. In the nomination, several cases of acute mercury poisoning from thimerosal-containing products were documented. These reports included the exposure to thimerosal from immune globulin (Matheson 1980) hepatitis B immune globulin (Lowell 1996), thimerosal ear irrigations in a children with tympanostomy tubes (Royhans 1994), thimerosal treatment of omphaloceles in infants (Fagan 1977), and a suicide attempt with thimerosal (Pfab 1996). These studies reported local necrosis, acute hemolysis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, acute renal tubular necrosis, and central nervous system injury including obtundation, coma, and death resulting from the exposures.

Are there any side effects?

CNN Statement: The most common side effect is a mild rash or redness at the injection site. There may also be a little swelling. All of these symptoms disappear quickly. On rare occasions, some people have had allergic reactions to the preservative.

WMP Fact:  What CNN fails to acknowledge are the thousands of families who have reported developmental regression of their children after exposure to thimerosal containing vaccines.  One such case was actually covered by CNN in 2007 when a child who received multiple thimerosal-containing vaccines regressed developmentally within 48 hours after receiving the vaccines and was later diagnosed with autism.

Do children get vaccines with thimerosal?

CNN Statement: All routinely recommended vaccines for children in the US are available in a thimerosal-free formulation or contain only a trace amount.

WMP Fact:  Flu vaccines are universally recommended for infants and children. Approximately 1/3 of all flu vaccines contain thimerosal.  According to the CDC, 48 million doses of flu vaccine manufactured this year contained thimerosal.  A trace amount is defined as being 1 microgram (mcg) or less.  Flu vaccines contain 25 mcg of mercury. According to EPA mercury exposure guidelines of 0.1 mcg per kilogram of body weight, a baby would need to weigh 550 lbs to be able to safely process the amount of mercury in a thimerosal containing flu vaccine. State and Federal guidelines require that any product that contains more than 0.2 milligrams per liter (200 PPB) of mercury must be disposed of as a hazardous waste. All flu vaccines preserved with mercury that are not used must be disposed of as hazardous waste because they contain 50,000 PPB mercury.

What makes it different from other mercury-based products?

CNN Statement: Thimerosal is an ethylmercury; the mercury that can be found in fish is a methylmercury. Though they are only one letter apart, the substances are different. Mercury is an element found in the Earth’s crust. We are all exposed to mercury as we live on the surface of the planet. It’s in our water, in our soil and in the air. Methylmercury is created when mercury comes into contact with some bacteria. Doctors warn pregnant women to avoid some fish because it can be contaminated with this form. Unlike ethylmercury, which can pass through your body quickly, methylmercury can linger and accumulate. If enough accumulates, it can be toxic.

In 1999, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee held a meeting to discuss the safety of thimerosal. Some who testified worried that babies were unable to eliminate the mercury from their systems. Follow-up studies of infants showed that they “excreted significant amounts of mercury in stool after thimerosal exposure,” meaning it was removed from the body quickly, compared with methylmercury.

WMP Fact: Evidence that ethylmercury quickly passes through the body is not supported by scientific research which documents that ethylmercury accumulates in the kidneys and brain tissue. Although infants have been found to excrete some mercury in their stool after exposure to thimerosal containing vaccines, the amount excreted does not account for the amount injected. Michael Pichichero, a pediatrician, measured mercury concentrations in stool of 22 normal infants exposed to thimerosal in vaccines, ages two and six months, and found a range of 23-141 nanograms of mercury per gram of stool (dry weight). The authors interpreted these levels, mere parts per billion, as positive evidence of mercury elimination. But these mercury levels are extremely low and not nearly enough to allow for rapid excretion as the authors propose.

One of the few researchers who studies the effects of ethylmercury is Thomas Burbacher, PhD, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and director of the infant primate research lab at the National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle. Burbacher says that just because ethylmercury is gone from an infant’s blood soon after it receives a dose of thimerosal — a half-life of just 3.7 days in the Pichichero study — doesn’t mean it’s gone from the body. “It could have gone to the brain,” Burbacher tells WebMD. “Although total mercury levels in the blood are lower following thimerosal exposure [than following methyl mercury exposure], mercury in the blood from thimerosal has an easier time getting to the brain than methylmercury.”

If it is safe, why was it removed from kids’ shots?

CNN Statement: Based on the recommended childhood vaccination schedule, there was concern that some babies could be exposed to a higher cumulative level of mercury in the first six months of life from these shots. At the time, babies got diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis, Haemophilus influenza type b and hepatitis B shots. If an infant got all three, the accumulation went beyond the EPA guidelines for methylmercury.

WMP Fact: This is actually a factual statement.  WMP would like to add that the amount that infants received from thimerosal containing vaccines was far in excess of EPA guidelines.  An average 5 KG infant at 2 months of age could receive 62.5 mcg of mercury from vaccines.  According to EPA guidelines the allowable exposure levels would be .5 mcg.  Infants were routinely exposure to 125 times EPA allowable guidelines based on weight.

A study published in Pediatrics in 2000 measured blood mercury levels in newborns administered the Hepatitis B vaccine, containing 12.5 mcg of ethyl mercury.  The investigation documented elevated post-immunization concentrations relative to pre-immunization levels in all neonates studied.  One infant was found to have developed a mercury level of 23.6 mcg/L, thus meeting the CDC criteria as a case of chemical poisoning from mercury.

Experts contend that there are “windows of vulnerability” which occur during neurological development and that specific types of developmental outcomes may have separate windows of vulnerability.  These critical periods of development have not been established and may be relatively short in duration. The fact that thimerosal from vaccines has been documented to raise blood mercury levels over known thresholds where developmental effects have been documented to occur during the first few months of life means that particular “windows of vulnerability” may have been breached.  Even minor neurological impairment can have profound societal effects when amortized across the entire population and life span.

For more information regarding the use of mercury in vaccines see click here.

For more information about the use of thimerosal in vaccines see World Mercury Projects FAQ

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Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

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Alternative News

Norway Investigates 29 Deaths in Elderly Patients After Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccination

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Norway has registered a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who’ve had their first Covid-19 vaccination shot, raising questions over which groups to target in national inoculation programs.

  • Reflect On:

    Should freedom of choice always remain here? Should governments and private institutions not be allowed to mandate this vaccine in order to have access to certain rights and freedoms?

What Happened: 29 patients who were quite old and frail have died following their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination. As a result, Norwegian officials have since adjusted their advice on who should get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to many given the fact that the clinical trials were conducted with people who are healthy. Older and sick people with co-morbidities were not used in the trials, and people with severe allergies and other diseases that can make one more susceptible to vaccine injury were not used either. It can be confusing given the fact that vaccination is being encouraged for the elderly in nursing homes and those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that “There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine.”

On the 15th of January it was 23 deaths, Bloomberg is now reporting that a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who’ve had their first COVID-19 shot. They point out that “Until Friday, Pfizer/BioNTech was the only vaccine available in Norway”, stating that the Norwegian Medicines Agency told them that as a result “all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine.”

“There are 13 deaths that have been assessed, and we are aware of another 16 deaths that are currently being assessed,” the agency said. All the reported deaths related to “elderly people with serious basic disorders,” it said. “Most people have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, such as nausea and vomiting, fever, local reactions at the injection site, and worsening of their underlying condition.”

Madsen also told the BMJ that,

There is a possibility that these common adverse reactions, that are not dangerous in fitter, younger patients and are not unusual with vaccines, may aggravate underlying disease in the elderly. We are not alarmed or worried about this, because these are very rare occurrences and they occurred in very frail patients with very serious disease. We are not asking for doctors to continue with vaccination, but to carry out extra evaluation of very sick people whose underlying condition might be aggravated by it. This evaluation includes discussing the risks and benefits of vaccination with the patient and their families to decide whether or not vaccination is the best course.

The BMJ article goes on to point out that the Paul Ehrlich Institute in Germany is also investigating 10 deaths shortly after COVID-19 vaccination, and closes with the following information:

In a statement, Pfizer said, “Pfizer and BioNTech are aware of reported deaths following administration of BNT162b2. We are working with NOMA to gather all the relevant information.

“Norwegian authorities have prioritised the immunisation of residents in nursing homes, most of whom are very elderly with underlying medical conditions and some of whom are terminally ill. NOMA confirm the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations. All reported deaths will be thoroughly evaluated by NOMA to determine if these incidents are related to the vaccine. The Norwegian government will also consider adjusting their vaccination instructions to take the patients’ health into more consideration.

“Our immediate thoughts are with the bereaved families.”

Vaccine Hesitancy is Growing Among Healthcare Workers: Vaccine hesitancy is growing all over the globe, one of the latest examples comes from Riverside County, California. It has a population of approximately 2.4 million, and about 50 percent of healthcare workers in the county are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite the fact that they have top priority and access to it.  At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one in five frontline nurses and doctors have declined the shot. Roughly 20% to 40% of L.A. County’s frontline workers who were offered the vaccine did the same, according to county public health officials. You can read more about that story here.

Vaccine hesitancy among physicians and academics is nothing new. To illustrate this I often point to a conference held at the end of 2019 put on by the World Health Organization (WHO). At the conference, Dr. Heidi Larson a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project Emphasized this point, having  stated,

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers. We have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen…still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider.

A study published in the journal EbioMedicine  as far back as 2013 outlines this point, among many others.

Pfizer’s Questionable History:  Losing faith in “big pharma” does not come without good reason. For example, in 2010 Robert G. Evans, PhD, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research Emeritus Professor, Vancouver School of Economics, UBC, published a paper that’s accessible in PubMed titled “Tough on Crime? Pfizer and the CIHR.”

In it, he outlines the fact that,

Pfizer has been a “habitual offender,” persistently engaging in illegal and corrupt marketing practices, bribing physicians and suppressing adverse trial results. Since 2002 the company and its subsidiaries have been assessed $3 billion in criminal convictions, civil penalties and jury awards. The 2.3-billion settlement…set a new record for both criminal fines and total penalties. A link with Pfizer might well advance the commercialization of Canadian research.

Suppressing clinical trial results is something I’ve come across multiple times with several different medicines. Five years ago I wrote about how big pharma did not share adverse reactions people had and harmful results from their clinical trials for commonly used antidepressant drugs.

Even scientists from within federal these health regulatory agencies have been sounding the alarm. For example, a few years ago more than a dozen scientists from within the CDC put out an anonymous public statement detailing the influence corporations have on government policies. They were referred to as the  Spider Papers.

The Takeaway: Given the fact that everything is not black and white, especially when it comes to vaccine safety, do we really want to give government health agencies and/or private institutions the right to enforce mandatory vaccination requirements when their efficacy have been called into question? Should people have the freedom of choice? It’s a subject that has many people polarized in their beliefs, but at the end of the day the sharing of information, opinion and evidence should not be shut down, discouraged, ridiculed or censored.

In a day and age where more people are starting to see our planet in a completely different light, one which has more and more questioning the human experience and why we live the way we do it seems the ‘crack down’ on free thought gets tighter and tighter. Do we really want to live in a world where we lose the right to choose what we do with our own body, or one where certain rights and freedoms are taken away if we don’t comply? The next question is, what do we do about it? Those who are in a position to enforce these measures must, it seems, have a shift in consciousness and refuse to implement them. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut answer, but there is no doubt that we are currently going through that possible process, we are living in it.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

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Awareness

Psycho-Acoustic Medicine: Science Behind Sound Healing For Serotonin Production

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A number of studies and experiments have shown that sound can be used as medicine for various ailments and diseases.

  • Reflect On:

    Is our modern day medical industry truly interested in the health and well-being of people, or do profit and control take more priority?

Mental illness has reached an all time high in the world, and yet the modern day medicines to relieve symptoms have gained controversy. This is, in part, why people have dug up the past to better understand alternative ways of healing.

Sound, for instance, has been a tool for promoting the physical and emotional health of the body for as long as history can account for, deeply rooted in ancient cultures and civilizations. The ancient Egyptians used vowel sound chants in healing because they believed vowels were sacred. Tibetan monks take advantage of singing bowls, which they believe to be “a symbol of the unknowable” whose “vibrations have been described as the sound of the universe manifesting.”

“Our various states of consciousness are directly connected to the ever-changing electrical, chemical, and architectural environment of the brain. Daily habits of behavior and thought processes have the ability to alter the architecture of brain structure and connectivity, as well as, the neurochemical and electrical neural oscillations of your mind.”

Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of the perception of sound, and it has fueled researchers paths to better understand how it can be used as medicine. For instance, in 1973, Dr. Gerald Oster, a medical doctor and biophysicist, proved, in his research paper, “Auditory Beats in the Brain,” how sound affects the how the brain absorbs new information, controls mood, sleep patterns, healing responses, and more, and how quickly. Thus, specific frequencies of sound and music can be used to generate neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

brain_scan

To understand the fundamentals of sound in healing, we must first understand our brain waves. The nucleus of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, is the communication between neurons. Brain waves are generated by way of electrical pulses working in unison from masses of neurons interacting with one another. Brain waves are divided into five different bandwidths that are thought to form a spectrum of human consciousness.

The slowest of the waves are delta waves (.5 to 3 Hz), which are the slowest brain waves and occur mostly during our deepest state of sleep. The fastest of the waves are gamma waves (25 to 100 Hz), which are associated with higher states of conscious perception. Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz) occur when the brain is daydreaming or consciously practicing mindfulness or meditation.

According to Dr. Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., a speech-language pathologist:

Research shows that different frequencies presented to each ear through stereo headphones… create a difference tone (or binaural beat) as the brain puts together the two tones it actually hears. Through EEG monitoring the difference tone is identified by a change in the electrical pattern produced by the brain. For example, frequencies of 200 Hz and 210 Hz produce a binaural beat frequency of 10 Hz (The difference in 210 Hz and 200 Hz is 10 Hz). Monitoring of the brain’s electricity (EEG) shows that the brain produces increased 10 Hz activity with equal frequency and amplitude of the wave form in both hemispheres of the brain (left and right hemisphere).

It is thought that different brain wave patterns are connected to the production in the brain of certain neurochemicals linked with relaxation and stress release, as well as better learning and creativity, memory, and more. Such neurochemicals include beta-endorphins, growth factors, gut peptides, acetylcholine, vasopressin, and serotonin.

A series of experiments conducted by neuro-electric therapy engineer Dr. Margaret Patterson and Dr. Ifor Capel, revealed how alpha brainwaves boosted the production of serotonin. Dr. Capel explained:

As far as we can tell, each brain center generates impulses at a specific frequency based on the predominant neurotransmitter it secretes. In other words, the brain’s internal communication system—its language, is based on frequency… Presumably, when we send in waves of electrical energy at, say, 10 Hz, certain cells in the lower brain stem will respond because they normally fire within that frequency range.

Additional research upholds the beliefs of mind-body medicine in this sense, stating that brainwaves being in the Alpha state, 8 to 14 Hz, permits a vibration allowing for more serotonin to be created.

It’s important for us to come to terms with the fact that there is science behind age-old medicinal practices that do not require putting unknown substances in our bodies to alleviate issues like stress, depression, anxiety, and more.

But even more intriguing is to think something as simple as sound, as music, which we have come to treat as utterly pleasurable entertainment, has not only been used to promote healing and well-being, but has proven to work through research as well.

If your mental health is of concern, try listening to a binaural beat to generate alpha waves between 8 and 14 Hz to produce more serotonin. Another option is to take advantage of music that promotes a relaxed alpha state in the brain such as classical music.

Related CE Article: Research Shows We Can Heal With Vibration, Frequency & Sound

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

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Awareness

Study: Short Break From Cosmetics Causes “Significant Drop of Hormone Disrupting Chemicals”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas demonstrates how even a short break from certain kinds of makeup, shampoos and lotions leads to a large drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the body.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is this industry so poorly regulated?

A study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle Salinas has demonstrated how taking even a short break from various cosmetics, shampoos, and other personal care products can lead to a substantial drop in the levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals present within the body.

The results from the study were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Researchers gave 100 Latina teenagers various personal care products that were labeled to be free of common chemicals including phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and oxybenzone. These chemicals are used regularly in almost all conventional personal care products such as cosmetics, soap, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products, and animal studies have shown that they directly interfere with the body’s endocrine system.

“Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals,” said study lead author Kim Harley, associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health. “Teen girls may be at particular risk since it’s a time of rapid reproductive development, and research has suggested that they use more personal care products per day than the average adult woman.”

Results

After just a three-day trial with the girls using only the lower-chemical products, urine samples showed a significant drop in the level of chemicals in the body. Methyl and propyl parabens, commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics, dropped 44% and 45%, respectively, metabolites of diethyl phthalate, used often in perfumes, dropped by 27%, and both triclosan and benzophenone-3 fell 36%. The authors of the study were surprised to see an increase in two lesser common parabens, but, being minor, could easily have been caused by accidental contamination or a substitute not listed on the labels.

Co-director of the study Kimberly Parra explains why having local youths participate in the study was of particular importance:

The results of the study are particularly interesting on a scientific level, but the fact that high school students led the study set a new path to engaging youth to learn about science and how it can be used to improve the health of their communities. After learning of the results, the youth took it upon themselves to educate friends and community members, and presented their cause to legislatures in Sacramento.

Included in the CHAMACOS Youth Council were 12 local high school students who helped design and implement the study. One of the teen researchers, Maritza Cárdenas, is now a UC Berkeley undergraduate majoring in molecular and cell biology.

“One of the goals of our study was to create awareness among the participants of the chemicals found in everyday products, to help make people more conscious about what they’re using,” said Cárdenas. “Seeing the drop in chemical levels after just three days shows that simple actions can be taken, such as choosing products with fewer chemicals, and make a difference.”

The researchers noted that cosmetics and personal care products are not well-regulated in this country, and that getting data about health effects from exposure, particularly long-term ones, is difficult. But they say there is growing evidence linking endocrine-disrupting chemicals to neurobehavioral problems, obesity and cancer cell growth.

What Can You Do?

Well, you can be sure to check the labels on any products you purchase. Most personal care products contain a list of ingredients, but unfortunately many cosmetics do not. If you use a particular brand that you really love you can try contacting the manufacturer directly and asking them for an ingredient list.

You can also opt for more natural and organic products, but be sure to keep in mind that in the industry of personal care products, the words “natural” and “organic” are often meaningless. A safe bet would be to buy these products from a health food store and be sure to read the ingredients or ask the sales clerk. Generally, when products do not contain specific chemicals, the manufacturers are happy to label them as such.

The less demand for these chemically-laden products there is, the less these chemicals will be used. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLAR! We have the power to create the type of world we want. Be the change.

Check out The Story Of Cosmetics below!

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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