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Why Those Black Facial Masks Aren’t The Best For Your Skin & What To Do Instead

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Black facial masks are trending in a big way right now, popping up on our Facebook timelines and advertised endlessly on Instagram. Their effects are particularly appealing to those of us who are prone to blackheads, as the masks supposedly attach to our skin’s surface and pull out any unwanted dirt that would otherwise prevent us from “looking our best.”

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One particular video went viral when YouTuber Tiff decided to test out a black mask that was advertised to her through Facebook.

While the result is relatively amusing, there really is nothing funny about damaging the skin on your face just to attain the flawed standard of beauty that society pushes on us.

Why They’re Bad

First, lets break down the difference between a blackhead and sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous filaments are alternatively known as whiteheads, and they are naturally occurring micro hairline formations on your skin that send oil from your pores onto your skin to moisturize it.

Whiteheads lie just beneath the surface of your skin and develop when there is a buildup of either dead skin or cosmetics that plug the pores working to produce sebum. Blackheads are seen more topically and appear black because they are exposed to the air and oxidize.

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So what’s the problem with pulling these filaments out? I spoke to Toni-Anne Leonardo, an aesthetician who studied at Humber College for Cosmetic Management and Esthetics/Spa Management, who said, “Well, every pore has a hair follicle in it. When you use a peel-off mask you are removing that hair, which can cause damage to the pore. This can lead to a dilated pore and cause damage to cells and create hyper pigmentation.”

The most beneficial ingredient in black masks is typically activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has made its claim to fame recently with the development of these masks and also its use as a natural teeth whitening alternative. The benefits of this carbon are endless and when you couple its qualities with skin care, it usually has a positive effect. Activated charcoal acts like a magnet to attract and absorb dirt and oil, and so when these are present in your pores and activated charcoal comes in contact with it, they will stick to it and wash away when you rinse.

Some people, frighteningly, are trying to mimic this infamous face mask by mixing PVA glue with charcoal powder. When your face feels smooth post facial mask rip, it just confirms that you’ve effectively stripped off a surface layer of your skin.

If you’ve partaken in this mask and are now concerned for your skin’s well-being, don’t worry. Facialist and aesthetician Andy Millward assures us that “the skin is a very sophisticated organ. It is more than capable of replacing the sebaceous filaments that have been removed.” But “this process can take up to 30 days, during which time the skin is obviously going to be a little more vulnerable.”

But Andy warns, “if you continue to use products that strip the skin of its natural oils (including harsh cleansers and exfoliants) then you’re likely to cause secondary issues.”

DIY Face Masks

Controlling what you put in and on your body is of utmost importance to your health and if you have a choice, choose natural. Major cosmetic companies don’t have our best interests in mind and their products are usually laden with toxic chemicals that can seriously harm our health over time.

It’s also important to note that the chemicals most often present in cosmetics are actually terrible for our skin. In our article “What You Really Need to Watch Out For on Your Cosmetics Labels,” I reference a study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle Salinas that 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.

 Below I’ve listed a few natural face masks that you can create right from your kitchen!

Pore-Tightening Açai Berry Facial

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons açai powder or ¼ cup açai slush (a pulverized form of the berry; both sold at health-food stores)
  • 10 fresh, whole berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a mix)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Recipe:
With a potato masher, mash the sugar and açai powder or slush with the berries, then slowly add the olive oil; combine coarsely with a whisk. Massage into the face. Leave on for about five minutes, then rinse with warm water.
(source)

Flower and Clay Mask

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Bentonite Clay
  • 1 cup ground oats
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/8 cup dried lavender, ground
  • 1/3 cup dried rose petals, ground

Recipe:
Grind oatmeal and almonds together using either a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee or nut grinder (leave grains just a little bit course to add an exfoliating element). You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind the lavender and rose petals together, too. After all ingredients are ground, mix together in a bowl. Mix one teaspoon grains with water (or ACV) to make a paste. Massage the paste into your face. Let mask dry completely and then rinse with warm water.
(source)

Papaya Pineapple Face Mask

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 fresh papaya, peeled and seeded
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)

Recipe:
Juice papaya and pineapple in juicer if you have one. If you don’t have a juicer, you can mash the fruit together or put it in a blender. Strain out the pulp with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Gently wash your chest, neck, and face. Use a cotton ball to apply juice to these areas, avoiding the eyes. You can also do the backs of your hands at the same time. Lie down and let it work for 10-15 minutes. It will tingle and itch. Try not to scratch! Rinse with warm water and moisturize. Recipe creator highly recommends coconut oil.
(source)

Skin-Balancing Spirulina Facial

Ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon spirulina powder
  • 1 mashed ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Recipe:
With a whisk, mix the spirulina powder and banana, then add the lemon juice. Apply to the face and leave on for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
(source)

Related CE Article:

What Happens To Your Skin When You Switch or Stop Using Cosmetics Products

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons Why The Ketogenic Diet Might Not Be Right For You

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Dr, Michelle McMacken, an internal medicine physician shares why she doesn't recommend the ketogenic diet to her patients.

  • Reflect On:

    There is no doubt that ketone production has a wide range of benefits, but do we have to adopt a ketogenic diet to stimulate the production of ketones? What about fasting?

The ketogenic diet has gained a tremendous amount of popularity over the past few years, and it’s become a trend that many people are adopting without doing their own research first. We’ve written multiple articles on the ketogenic diet, a diet that promotes a high fat/low carb intake in order to prolong the production of ketone bodies in one’s blood. The release of these ketone bodies happens when we fast and deplete our glucose reserves, which develop from eating carbohydrates that turn into sugar. One can prolong the production of these ketones by sticking to a low carbohydrate/high fat diet, and essentially run off of fat instead of their glucose reserves.

The ketogenic diet is being used as an intervention for cancer, and there are multiple studies showing how ketones can actually kill cancer. It’s becoming well known that cancer cells cannot efficiently process ketone bodies for energy. Essentially, the cell starves itself, and ketones help slow the proliferation of tumor cells. Dietary ketones have been shown to completely halt metastasis. For example, a study titled “The Ketogenic Diet & Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Prolong Survival in Mice with Systemic Metastatic Cancer” explains how it’s already known that the ketogenic diet elevates blood ketones and has been shown to slow cancer progression in both animals and humans. The study also revealed that the ketogenic diet “significantly decreased blood glucose, slowed tumor growth, and increased mean survival time by 56.8 percent in mice with systemic metastatic cancer.”

Fasting (when you fast you produce ketones) is also being used for cancer intervention, seizure prevention (epilepsy), and as a potential therapy for alzheimer’s disease, parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

A TEDx talk given by Mark Mattson, the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience, at the National Institute on Aging goes into detail about fasting, ketones, and how beneficial it is for the brain. He is also a professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and one of the foremost researchers of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying multiple neurodegenerative disorders.

In 1923, scientist Otto Warburg hypothesized that cancer was caused by a metabolic process whereby cancer cells fuel their growth “by swallowing up enormous amounts of glucose [blood sugar] and breaking it down without oxygen.” Coined the Warburg Effect, the theory was considered controversial at the time, but the past few decades have sparked new interest in it and oncologists now use the dependence on glucose that cancer cells have to locate tumours within a patient’s body.

Warburg made his discovery around the same time the ketogenic diet was found to be beneficial for epilepsy. Studies have shown that when the body produces ketones, they form a protective barrier around the brain, which is why more and more paediatricians are recommending the diet for children with epilepsy. It has a huge success rate, but since fasting is neither marketable nor profitable, it receives little mainstream attention.

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All of these are specific interventions for certain diseases, and they can be healthy. On a personal level, I believe fasting a few times a month is extremely healthy and can be very beneficial for the body. All of the studies in human and animal models show nothing but benefits.  Keep in mind that while you fast, you also get the benefits of ketones.

This is far different from continuing on with a no carb, high fat diet where you are constantly producing ketones and burning fat. It doesn’t seem normal unless you have to do it for a specific intervention, like cancer. Despite the potential health benefits, the ‘ketogenic diet’ has become a fad with potential dangers that people should also be aware of.

The Five Reasons

Below is a list of points regarding the ketogenic diet from Michelle McMacken, an internal medicine physician, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, and Director of Bellevue Hospital Weight Management Clinic.

I came across these via her Instagram, which make it clear she does not support the diet:

1. That we know of, no population in history has ever thrived on a very-low-carb/high-fat diet. There is exactly zero scientific evidence that a keto diet is conducive to longevity & longstanding vitality – unlike a plant-centric diet, the foundation of the longest-lived people on earth.

2. A keto diet may cause short-term weight loss, but possibly at a serious price. A 2010 review found that low-carb, animal-based diets increased cardiovascular death by 14%, cancer death by 28%, & all-cause mortality by 23%- trends confirmed in other large studies.

3. A keto diet hasn’t been shown to prevent, control, or reverse type 2 diabetes in the long run. Avoiding carbs will temporarily lower your blood sugar if you have diabetes. But this simply masks the underlying problem, which is insulin resistance – ie. glucose in our blood can’t enter our cells & the liver overproduces sugar. This is NOT the fault of carbs from healthy foods – whole grains, legumes, fruit, or even starchy vegetables. In fact, a high-carb, high-fiber, plant-based diet is exceptionally protective against diabetes & can actually REVERSE insulin resistance & lower diabetes complications. In contrast, low-carb diets can promote diabetes over time, as they foster inflammation & fat buildup in our cells, causing insulin resistance.

4. Keto diet research is in its infancy, focusing on short-term blood results & body weight – not actual rates of disease or death. And some findings are concerning. LDL cholesterol levels tend to rise (or at best, stay the same) on keto diets. An overwhelming wealth of research shows that the higher the LDL, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease.

5. A keto diet is low in refined grains & added sugar, which is great. But it also can be low in phytonutrients, antioxidants, & fiber, all of which have profound benefits, and it forbids some of the most powerfully health-promoting foods on earth – whole grains, legumes, & many fruits. To me, that’s just not good medicine.

Her references:


The Takeaway

It’s great to see the world becoming more health conscious, it’s one of multiple contributing factors in raising our vibrational frequency, and feeling more ‘alive.’ That being said, a lot of ‘fads’ seem to pop up in this field, which are coupled with a great misunderstanding of how these specific diets, like the ketogenic diet, is supposed to be used. At the end of the day, balance is key, and it’s best to incorporate more organic fruits and vegetables in your diet, and completely cut out all processed foods, and substances like high fructose corn syrup etc. Being healthy is not hard, and it’s not complicated. If you’re going to incorporate a specific diet into your lifestyle, just make sure it’s not one that’s specifically designed to combat certain diseases, like the ketogenic diet.

Related CE Articles:

Study Shows What A Ketogenic Diet Did To Mice With Systemic Metastatic Cancer

Doctor Explains What Happens To The Body When It Goes Into Ketosis

The Biggest Misconception About The Ketogenic Diet…You Don’t Actually Have To Follow It

Ending The Debate About The Ketogenic Diet – 9 Studies You Must Be Aware Of 


 

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Association of American Physicians & Surgeons Sues Rep. Adam Schiff For “Censoring Vaccine Debate”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons are suing Rep. Adam Schiff for "censoring vaccine debate."

  • Reflect On:

    Should information that creates and generates concern among the population about vaccines and vaccine safety be censored, even if it's factual and not actually 'fake news?'

Vaccines are a hot topic right now, and vaccine hesitancy is growing and quickly gaining momentum. The reality of vaccine hesitancy is no longer a secret, as many studies on the matter have been published. And it is no longer simply among concerned parents. This study published in the journal EbioMedicine discusses how practitioners in France are becoming increasingly hesitant to prescribe some controversial vaccines to their patients.

The World Health Organization believes vaccine hesitancy is one of the biggest threats to global health security. Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project, was one of many academics to speak at the World Health Organization’s recent Global Vaccine Safety Summit, where she explained why this is being considered a major problem:

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–and we’re constantly looking on any studies in this space–still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider. And if we lose that, we’re in trouble.

Dissenting Professionals, Conflicting Statements

This type of hesitancy among health professionals has begun to spawn organizations looking for answers to their questions. ‘The Physicians for Informed Consent’ is one of multiple examples. It’s promising that doctors, scientists and health safety advocates that have come together to share resources about vaccines, and more importantly voice concerns that they have about certain vaccines and their safety.

At the summit, Dr. Martin Howell Friede, Coordinator of Initiative For Vaccine Research at the World Health Organization, brought up the issue of adjuvants, noting some of the problems with using adjuvants that do not have a proven track record of safety. Many people at the conference also emphasized the need for more safety testing and studies to address the concerns that are being made by vaccine safety advocates. Personally, I think this is encouraging. Science should never cease to question, and who wouldn’t want more safety studies and testing on medications that are being administered worldwide?

As this issue becomes more scrutinized by the public as well as health care professionals, more and more conflicting statements made by high-ranking health authorities are being uncovered, which in themselves may lead to a breakdown of confidence in vaccines. For example, Soumya Swaminathan, MD and Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, stated at the conference,

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I don’t think we can overemphasize the fact that we really don’t have very good safety monitoring systems in many countries and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions, because we’re not able to give clear cut answers when people ask questions about deaths that have occurred due to particular vaccines… One should be able to give a very factual account of what exactly is happening, what the cause of deaths are, but in most cases there’s some obfuscation at that level and therefore there’s less and less trust then in the system.

Prior to this statement, the WHO released a promotional video just days before the conference began, where Dr. Swaminathan contradicted her statement above, saying “we have vaccine safety systems, robust vaccine safety systems.”

It would be nice to have answers as to why the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid close to 4 billion dollars to families of vaccine injured children, and what that says about these ‘safety systems’ she is talking about. Clearly, there seems to be a need to make our vaccines safer and more effective. Personally, I believe forced vaccination to be quite unethical given the fact that so many questions remain unanswered.

Read more about the conference here: Scientists Share Facts About Vaccines At World Health Organization Conference For Vaccine Safety

Association of American Physicians & Surgeons Sue Rep. Adam Schiff

The growing vaccine hesitancy has led the pharmaceutical industry and its supporters to a dangerous strategy: mass censorship. For those of you who haven’t heard, politicians and social media outlets are taking action steps to censor information about vaccines that is not aligned with the industry and its regulatory ‘arm,’ the CDC. In other words, just about anyone who is even questioning vaccine safety, let alone providing evidence that vaccines are not safe, is liable to be discredited, de-monitized, or de-platformed from social media.

Leading the charge is Congressman Adam Schiff, an advocate of vaccine safety and friend of the pharmaceutical industry, who has used his power and influence to immediately strengthen censorship efforts. His moves have been seen as unfair, unethical, and even illegal. In fact, on Jan 15, 2020, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, along with Katarina Verrelli, on behalf of herself and others who seek access to vaccine information, filed suit against Adam Schiff in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Schiff has abused government power and infringed on their free-speech rights.

Here’s how the association characterizes the situation:

Who appointed Congressman Adam Schiff as Censor-in-Chief?” asks AAPS General Counsel.  “No one did, and he should not be misusing his position to censor speech on the internet.”

In February and March 2019, Rep. Schiff contacted Google, Facebook, and Amazon, to encourage them to de-platform or discredit what Schiff asserted to be inaccurate information on vaccines. He then posted the letters and press release on the House.gov website.

Within 24 hours of Schiff’s letter to Amazon dated Mar 1, 2019, Amazon removed the popular videos Vaxxed and Shoot ’Em Up: the Truth About Vaccines from its platform for streaming videos, depriving members of the public of convenient access.

Under a policy announced in May 2019, Twitter includes a pro-government disclaimer placed above search results for an AAPS article on vaccine mandates: “Know the Facts. To make sure you get the best information on vaccination, resources are available from the US Department of Health and Human Services.” The implication of this disclaimer is that if information is not on a government website, then it is somehow less credible.

On Facebook, a search for an AAPS article on vaccines, which previously would lead directly to the AAPS article, now produces search results containing links to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visits to the AAPS website have declined significantly since March 2019, both in absolute terms and relative to the decline that would result from a story’s losing its recency.

“The internet is supposed to provide free access to information to people of different opinions,” stated AAPS Executive Director, Jane Orient, M.D.

Dr. Orient continues, “AAPS is not ‘anti-vaccine,’ but rather supports informed consent, based on an understanding of the full range of medical, legal, and economic considerations relevant to vaccination and any other medical intervention, which inevitably involves risks as well as benefits.”

AAPS argues in the complaint against Rep. Schiff: “The First Amendment protects the rights of free speech and association. Included within the right of free speech is a right to receive information from willing speakers. Under the First Amendment, Americans have the right to hear all sides of every issue and to make their own judgments about those issues without government interference or limitations. Content-based restrictions on speech are presumptively unconstitutional, and courts analyze such restrictions under strict scrutiny.”

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.

The Takeaway

The terms “anti vax” and “pro vax” are really not serving in the best interest of the collective. All they do is divide people when in reality, all of us want the same thing, healthy children, and effective and safe medications if we are going to use them. With all of the concerns that are still being made about vaccines, questioning vaccine safety should not be a problem and in fact, should be welcomed by everybody. Forcing mandatory vaccination policy and censoring information on vaccines, in my opinion, seems to be quite tyrannical and immoral at this stage. I may have a different opinion if vaccines were 100 percent safe and effective for everybody, but they’re not.

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Togo, West Africa Added To A Growing List of Countries That Are Banning Glyphosate

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Togo, a country in West Africa has decided to ban the use of toxic chemical pesticide, glyphosate because of growing health and environmental concerns.

  • Reflect On:

    Togo joins 20 other countries who have decided to ban this pesticide, do you think your country will ever do the same?

Recently, a country in West Africa, Togo has prohibited the ‘import, market or use of glyphosate and any other product containing it.’ This decision was finalized in December of last year by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Production and Fisheries, Noel Kouerta Bataka.

If you are unfamiliar with glyphosate, it is a chemical pesticide made by none other than agricultural giant, Monsanto, Bayer. Glyphosate can be found in RoundUp and used on crops that have been genetically engineered specifically to resist its toxicity, allowing farmers to kill the weeds and pests without killing their crops. The problem is, it is extremely toxic not only for the consumer of products containing it, but for the land and soil as well where it is grown.

There have been numerous studies, many of which CE has reported on that link it to cancer, liver disease, autism, birth defects, brain damage and more.

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage (et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014), article ID 179691)

After 2 years of political discussions in Togo, regarding the worlds most popular herbicide, many are celebrating the decision that was finally made to have it outright banned. Bataka has allowed a 12-month moratorium for all of the current glyphosate supplies to be either used or destroyed.

Ban Of Glyphosate Around The World

As awareness grows regarding the health concerns of glyphosate, so does government level support worldwide. Not only has Key West, Los Angeles, Miami and The University of California banned or restricted the use of this toxic chemical so, have 20 countries around the world. These countries are,

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  • In Africa — Malawi and Togo.
  • In Asia — Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar.
  • In Central America — Bermuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Costa Rica
  • In Europe — Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands

So we still have yet to see bans in Canada, United States, Mexico and many other countries, but hopefully stories such as these will keep the awareness and momentum going and help others to see that this toxic chemical pesticide should not be anywhere near the food we are eating or on our precious Mother Earth.

It’s a big problem, and it’s now entered into our food supply.

How To Avoid Glyphosate

One might believe that they simply have to avoid genetically engineered foods to avoid glyphosate, and while that is a good start, unfortunately it’s not that black and white. There are many non-GMO foods that are still sprayed with this chemical and thus have high concentrations of it.

In reality your best bet would be to grow all of your own fruits, vegetables and even nuts, but unfortunately in this day and age this is not very plausible for everyone.

The foods that are highest in glyphosate are: soy, wheat, almonds, peas, beetroot (including beet sugar), carrots, sweet potatoes, quinoa, peas, tea, meat and dairy, corn and oats. However, many other unsuspecting foods have also have tested positive for high levels of glyphosate including many fruits and berries such as: apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, grapes (wine as well), lemons, olives, peaches, pears and more.

To avoid glyphosate altogether sticking to an all-organic diet is necessary. If this is an obstacle for you, consider locally grown produce where you can talk directly with the farmers about their growing practices. Many farmers grow organically , but cannot afford to obtain the organic certification. You can also wash your produce in baking soda and vinegar click HERE for instructions.

Final Thoughts

While it may seem hopeless at times to even try to avoid environmental toxins like glyphosate, we have to remember that the more we do, and the more we put our money where are mouths are and vote with our dollars, the less these chemicals will be used. We have already seen many big brands step away from using GMO ingredients because of consumer demand, so it may not be as far off as you think.

As countries like Togo step forward and do what is right for their citizens and the planet, awareness will continue to grow and it will assist others in seeing the truth about these chemicals and inspire others to make a change as well. We have more power than we realize and anything can change, with enough awareness.

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