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From Sunscreen to Bug Spray: How To Protect Your Kids From Chemical Poisoning This Summer

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    From chemical-ladened sunscreens to bug sprays with DEET, there is plenty to be cautious about before lathering up your kids in the name of protection.

  • Reflect On:

    What simple changes can you make to protect your family this summer?

Summertime should be a carefree time of year as we head out on vacation, go to the beach, or hike in the woods. We shouldn’t have to worry about the products that we use or the environmental toxins that might be hanging around. Unfortunately, in today’s world, our children’s bodies are getting bombarded with neurotoxins and cancer-causing chemicals at every turn. If we compare total body burden to a container, we can only fill it to capacity. Anything above capacity causes spillover or, in other words, allergy symptoms and ultimately sickness.

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Here are some tips for reducing toxic exposure:

  1. Stop using chemical sunscreens.
  2. Stay away from conventional bug spray with DEET and other harmful chemicals.
  3. Avoid playgrounds and sports fields that use mulch made from recycled rubber tires.
  4. Reduce exposure to weed killers and pesticides found on grass, and in food.
  5. Do not drink from plastic bottles, especially ones left in the hot sun or a warm car.
  6. Prevent your child from drinking from a hose.

Chemical Sunscreens

It’s time we stop lathering our kids and ourselves with chemical sunscreen. Many ingredients in conventional sunscreens are not safe for humans or aquatic life. It is time that we stop using them. There is an abundance of data that links the ingredient Octinoxate to thyroid dysfunction, endocrine disruption, and reproductive toxicity. It is also believed to affect development, brain function, and metabolism. Oxybenzone, sometimes called benzophenone-3, is linked to endocrine disruption,  organ toxicity, and allergies. Homosalate is used to prevent the body from absorbing UV light. This ingredient is linked to hormone disruption and is believed to enhance the absorption of toxic bug spray and pesticides.  Other dangerous ingredients include: artificial fragrances and preservatives such as BHT, which when applied to the skin is believed to be associated with toxic effects in lung tissue.

Vitamin D3 – The Sunshine Vitamin

Despite widespread belief, moderate sun exposure is beneficial to our health. Vitamin D, especially the form D3 or “the sunshine vitamin,” is the only vitamin your body makes itself with the help of the sun. So be sure to get enough sun exposure to help the body make this essential nutrient. Low vitamin D levels in your blood are linked to a higher incidence of cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, arthritis, and many other degenerative diseases. So, hold off on trying to protect yourself from the rays of the sun at every turn. Allow yourself to play outside, garden, and enjoy the rays in moderation.

Safer Alternatives

To protect ourselves from overexposure to UV rays and help prevent skin cancer, here are some tips:

  1. Cover-up. Wear hats and protective clothing when appropriate.
  2. Be more mindful about sitting in the shade or purchase a sun umbrella. UV rays are most harmful between 10 am and 4 pm.
  3. Shop for natural, mineral-zinc based, certified products free from toxic chemicals. Use products that are safer for your family and wildlife. When my family is exposed to extremely hot climates or when they are in the sun for extended periods of time, we use sunscreens by Badger, Babo Botanicals, Goddess Garden, and 7th Avenue products.
  4. Use lotion over sprays as to not inhale any particles, which may pose a risk no matter how safe the ingredients. Also, lotions ensure a more even application, so you know you are completely covered.

Conventional Bug Spray

Are you being poisoned by your bug spray? Most bug repellents contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) or Picaridin as their active ingredient. Many do not realize how harmful these chemicals are to their health. DEET is linked to seizures, slurred speech, confusion, rashes, and other neurological disturbances. It can melt plastic and other synthetic fabrics, so you can imagine what it may do to your body. DEET is also believed to cause cell death. Picaridin does not seem to carry the same neurotoxicity as DEET. However, it is a chemical created by Bayer in the 1980s and does seem to pose some risks. A review of reports to the National Poison Data System between 2000 and 2015 found only one moderate effect reported from the use of picaridin-containing products – the remaining cases were classified as having minor impacts including ocular irritation, pain, vomiting, and oral irritation.

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Safer Alternatives

To protect ourselves from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other pesky insects, here are some tips:

  1. Wear pants, a hat, socks, shoes, and long sleeves, especially when venturing into the woods, dense brush, or tall grass with possible bug infestations.
  2. Be mindful of adding extra protection during the early morning and evening hours as well as during periods of peeked humidity. Use nets or bug zappers over outdoor eating areas. Place nets over strollers and baby carriers.
  3. Shop for natural insect repellants that do not use harmful chemicals. Use products that are safer for your family and wildlife. Just be careful about using bug spray that contains Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus on children younger than three years old. Some products I love that work extremely well are Skedattle – Natural Bug Spray, Buzz Away, and Herbal Armor.
  4. Make your bug spray. Mix ½ cup of witch hazel, ½ cup of vinegar, and one Tbs of rubbing alcohol with a generous amount of lavender essential oil, geranium oil, rosemary oil, and citronella oil (10-30 drops of each) in a glass spray bottle and apply.
  5. Rub any dried leaf from the lavender or mint family all over your body to the delicate parts of the body such as underarms, behind ears, and neck.
  6. Eat garlic and drink Cistus tea. Bugs hate both, and your skin will secrete them acting as a natural deterrent.
  7. Pretreat your clothing with natural repellants by spraying it ahead of wearing it.

Recycled Tire Mulch

Children and athletes are exposed to dangerous turf and playgrounds. There has been increasing evidence that rubber and other synthetic materials used on playground surfaces and athletic fields are toxic to our health. They contain phthalates (chemicals that affect hormones, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other chemicals. These chemicals are also linked to an increased risk of birth defects and cancer.

Synthetic Pesticides & Weed Killers

From the food we eat to the grass our children play on, pesticides and herbicides seem to be everywhere. They are poisons designed to kill, and unfortunately, are harming more than what they are targeting. Not only do pesticides kill insects, they also kill the good gut bacteria (the microbiome) in our intestinal system that regulates our immune system as a whole, and they kill the bugs by targeting their nervous system. Ingredients in herbicides such as glyphosate target plants by specifically blocking the action of a critical enzyme that plants use to synthesize three amino acids (tyrosinetryptophan, and phenylalanine), which are essential components of all proteins.

Without the ability to synthesize these amino acids, the plants die. Humans ingest these chemicals daily… what could possibly go wrong? For starters, many published studies have proven the relationships between exposure to pesticides/herbicides and the deterioration of human health, including neurological disorders and cancer. And yet, many are still on the market and heavily consumed. To avoid these chemicals, we must eat organic foods and become more mindful of the grass we allow our children to play on.

Plastic Bottles

So many of us walk around drinking out of plastic bottles without realizing how unhealthy this can be. Water bottles, for example, contain phthalates. They are colorless, odorless, oily liquids. Phthalates are especially dangerous because they are linked to asthma and allergies, and they also mimic hormones and can damage the endocrine system. A 2009 study in Korea showed a strong positive association between phthalates metabolites in urine and symptoms of ADHD and other neurological dysfunction.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is another industrial chemical used primarily to make plastic water bottles. Some risks include adverse effects on the endocrine system and potential damage to brain synapses, resulting in an increased risk of depression, memory problems, ADHD and other neurological disorders, asthma, learning issues, aggression, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer. It is especially important not to allow these bottles to be heated, for example, when sitting in a hot car for a prolonged amount of time, these chemicals are known to leach out.

Plastic Garden Hoses

One of my fondest childhood memories is drinking water from the garden hose. We all did it, but was it safe? Unfortunately, PVC hoses often carry a warning that reads, “This product contains chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.” Many hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which uses lead as a stabilizer. Other dangerous materials that are toxic to the human body often found in garden hoses are antimony, organotin, BPA, and Phthalates.

Summer is the season full of fun, action, and smiles. While it’s important to try to enjoy every moment of it, let’s keep our kids safe and healthy this summer by applying the practical advice outlined above.


Learn more about my family’s healing journey (including everything that has worked for me and many of my clients) in my book Healing Without Hurting. And to receive more info on how you and your family can overcome ADHD, apraxia, anxiety, and more without medication – SIGN UP HERE

As an Amazon Associate the author of this article earns from qualifying purchases.

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Awareness

A Potential Solution To Reduce Snoring & Sleep Apnea

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I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.

Snoring and sleep apnea not only represent a holistic health risk to an individual, the irritating noise at night can often create conflict in a couple’s relationship. I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.

Major Cause of Snoring & Sleep Apnea

One major cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is mouth breathing during sleep, especially when you sleep in the supine position. When you sleep in the supine position with an open mouth, gravity pulls down your jaw and tongue, which then compresses your throat. As a result, your airway gets suppressed and narrowed, leaving less space for the air to pass through.

Mouth breathing also introduces stronger air flow as you inhale and exhale, which exacerbates the airway soft tissue vibration, causing the loud snoring noise. Strong air flow during mouth breathing also induces strong negative pressure that sucks in the soft tissues around the throat area, further narrowing your airway and eventually causing it to collapse, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea.

The Quick Fix? Wear Tape To Keep Your Mouth Closed

As I mentioned earlier, one of the main causes of snoring and sleep apnea is mouth breathing. A quick fix to keep your mouth closed during the night is to apply a small piece of tape over it. When your mouth is closed and lips are together, it is harder for you jaw to fall back even when lying in a supine position. Keeping your mouth closed also forces you to breathe through your nose, which not only helps to regulate the airflow to reduce the negative pressure inside your airway, but also reduces soft tissue vibration

An otoralyngology study published this year in the American Academy of Otolaryngology Journal demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique, showing significant reduction in median AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index) score and snoring index [1].

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In the past few years, ENT specialist Dr. Hung Cheng Tseng and I have recommended wearing tape for all of our clients as part of our AirwayFit training program, and the feedback has been great. For some CPAP users, wearing tape on their mouth can help to eliminate the air leakage issue. In addition, if you often find yourself waking up with a dried mouth and throat, this method will also help you keep your mouth and throat moisturized throughout the night.

How To Apply?

In practice, wearing tape to sleep is actually a lot less daunting than it sounds.

Visit any drug store near you and pick up a small roll of medical grade paper tape. It should cost you no more than $10. I recommend ones that are hypoallergenic, porous, and non-waterproof. When you wear the tape, you want to roll your lips slightly inward so you don’t apply it directly onto your lips. Otherwise, your lips can really hurt when you remove it in the morning. Some people apply some lip balm or vaseline onto their lips first as a layer of protection.

You don’t have to wear the tape over your entire mouth. You can start by wearing it vertically, in the center, right beneath your nose, and that should suffice; as long as the tape keeps your jaw up, you should be fine. I also recommend you to pre-fold one of the corners of the tape, just so that there’s a corner you can grab onto easily in the morning to tear it off.  If you have sensitive skin and you find removing the tape hurts, you can wet it with water before you remove it in the morning. You could also reduce the stickiness of the tape prior to use by sticking it onto your forearm a couple of times before applying to your lips.

If you really are panicked by this idea, then as I mentioned before, you can try wearing it only at the center portion of your mouth. This will leave gaps on the two sides of your mouth but still keep your jaw in the upright position during sleep. Also, if it’s your first night trying this method, wearing the tape 30 minutes before you go to bed can help you adjust to the feeling.

Most people who have tried the tape method to keep their mouth closed find it convenient and more comfortable and cheaper than the alternative methods. However, I would caution against wearing tape to keep your mouth closed if you experience the following: nausea or epilepsy, or if you have consumed alcohol or any pill or medicine prior to sleep. Otherwise, give it a try today and you will find yourself waking up feeling much more energized and hydrated the next morning!

To learn more about your sleep trouble, visit www.AirwayFit.com

Source:

[1]    Huang TW., Young TH., “Novel Porous Oral Patches for Patients with Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Mouth Breathing: A Pilot Study” American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery 152.2 (2015): 369-373. Print.

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Awareness

A Simple Recipe For A Homemade Non-Toxic Fabric Softener

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many fabric softeners are loaded with toxic chemicals that may cause harm to our health.

  • Reflect On:

    Have you looked for alternatives to make or to buy? There are plenty out there.

Fabric softeners are one of the most unnecessary dangerous chemicals that you may be using in your home, and it’s important that you stop right away. There are much better, safer, all natural alternatives that will keep you, your family, and the environment safe. The natural alternatives can also prolong the life of your clothes. Really, we have no reason to have ever invented such a toxic product in the first place.

Fabric softener is one thing, among many household items, that absolutely must go, and hopefully from the awareness that is raised from this article and many others that are exposing these harmful chemicals for what they are, we will continue to see the decline in their use as people continue to opt for safer, cleaner alternatives.

So, What Is So Bad About Conventional Fabric Softeners?

First of all, the majority of conventional cleaning and personal care products can essentially be thrown in the garbage as they are absolutely loaded with chemicals, many of which are completely banned in other countries. We have many safer, all-natural alternatives to these types of things and we simply do not need to be using these to clean ourselves, our home, or our clothes. People sometimes assume that our governments have our best interests in mind and wouldn’t allow ingredients that are toxic to our health into the products that we use on a regular basis, and while that’s a nice thought, it is a naive one.

Fabric Softeners are among the worst offenders in terms of toxicity and it really makes one wonder how these chemical pollutants were approved by the U.S. Environmental Agency in the first place. The purpose of Fabric Softeners is to free your clothes from wrinkles and static cling and of course leave them smelling mountain fresh or like a field of lavender, but at what cost is this “fresh” smell?

According to the Environmental Working Group, fabric softeners contain chemicals and fragrances that can cause skin irritation and respiratory irritation. The fragrance element alone can come from hundreds of different chemical compounds, and yes many of them are toxic.

Interestingly, according to what Anne Steinmann, Ph.D., professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a world expert on environmental pollutants and their health effects, said in an interview with New Scientist, “Most exposure to hazardous pollutants occurs indoors, and a primary source for these pollutants is our everyday consumer products.”

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New Scientist also has stated that there are no legal requirements that all the ingredients, including potential toxins be listed for most of the products we use every day. While the compounds they contain have been tested individually for toxicity, scientists admit it’s hard to say how dangerous they might become when some are mixed.

Conventional fabric softeners are either a liquid that you pour into the rinse cycle of your washing machine, or a sheet that is thrown into the dryer with your clothes. Both contain compounds that are especially harmful to children. Toxic chemicals can easily enter your body through the skin. One of the worst is phthalates, which are added to emit a fake fresh fragrance, the University of Illinois Cancer center had the following to say about phthalates,

“Phthalates [are a] synthetic preservative that’s carcinogenic and linked to adverse reproductive effects (decreased sperm counts, early breast development and birth defects) and live and kidney damage.”

Steinmann also noted,

“Using a liquid fabric softener? You are pouring these toxic chemicals into the ocean every time you use it. Even worse than liquid fabric softeners are dryer sheets, whose chemicals are heated and then shot into the air for you to breathe into your lungs.

That ‘fresh-from-the-dryer’ smell that fabric softeners impart to your clean load of laundry? Don’t breathe it in, if you like your lungs to function. That super floral smell is masking a seriously unhealthy chemical stench.

So, What Are The Alternatives?

Luckily, there are lots, which begs the question, why did we ever start using these horrible toxic products in the first place? Every chemical product that is in use today for personal care or home cleaning could essentially vanish from the Earth and you know what? We would make do.

A simple recipe for a homemade fabric softener is as follows:

Ingredients

2 Cups Epsom Salts or 2 Cups Coarse Sea Salt
20-30 Drops Essential Oil
1/2 Cup Baking Soda

Simply mix all ingredients together and store in a container with tight-fitting lid, add ½ cup directly to your load of laundry.

Some even more simple ideas are as follows,

One half cup pure baking soda added to your laundry.

One cup of distilled white vinegar and about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil shaken in a spray bottle, give your wet clothes a spritz after they are washed, before you put into the dryer.
Don’t worry the vinegar smell will go away.


A crumpled up ball of aluminum foil tossed in the dryer with your clothes can help to get rid of the static cling.

Another great alternative, that is simple, cost-effective, economical and environmentally friendly is the use of dryer balls. You can get the plastic kind that can cut your drying time in half and reduce the static cling in your clothes, but to be more environmentally conscious there are also wool dryer balls that you can purchase or easily make your own.

Final Thoughts

Here’s what it comes down to, as consumers we have been gravely misinformed and maybe we have believed that there are some kind of standards set in place by our governments, unfortunately, it seems that these protection agencies, for the most part, don’t have our best interest in mind. So, with that in mind, it is up to us to be aware of what we are purchasing, if we stop purchasing these conventional products which contain harmful ingredients such as phthalates and fragrances, then the big corporations will either change their recipes, stop using these chemicals or simply go out of business. As the consumer, we have a direct vote for the types of products that are being produced by how we are choosing to spend our money. If WE don’t want chemicals in our products, we must simply stop buying them and start making our own. We must take responsibility for our own lives and create the type of world we want to live in. It is up to each and every one if us.

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Awareness

Pamela Anderson Speaks Out Against Porn & Explains How It Can Ruin Lives & Relationships

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Pamela Anderson has called out the pornography industry and has provided a warning about the damage it can cause.

  • Reflect On:

    Think about the porn industry, it's origins, and what it has become today. How can porn impact us psychologically, physically, and what impact is it having on the younger generation and their overall perception of sex and sexuality?

Perhaps one of the most iconic sex symbols of our time, former Baywatch star and Playboy Bunny Pamela Anderson, has a warning for us all. In an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal, entitles “Take The Pledge: No More Indulging Porn,” Anderson andrabbi-counselor Shmuley Boteach warn about how watching too much porn can ruin lives and relationships.

She’s been quite an activist as of late, the picture you see above was taken in her support for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange.

For those of you who may be thinking how hypocritical this sounds coming from a former porn star, (I can hear the comments now) just remember, people can change and often do. Who better suited to know about the porn industry than an insider? There was a lot of backlash for her article, but perhaps she is onto something here.

“From our respective positions of rabbi-counselor and former Playboy model and actress, we have often warned about pornography’s corrosive effects on a man’s soul and on his ability to function as husband and, by extension, as father,” the pair continue. “This is a public hazard of unprecedented seriousness given how freely available, anonymously accessible and easily disseminated pornography is nowadays.”

“How many families will suffer? How many marriages will implode? How many talented men will scrap their most important relationships and careers for a brief onanistic thrill? How many children will propel, warp-speed, into the dark side of adult sexuality by forced exposure to their fathers’ profanations?”

The Problem With Porn

I’m not here to demonize an entire genre and subculture, but there are a few things that we should all consider when it comes to porn. This topic is fairly taboo, even though it is extremely prevalent in our current society — just from a couple clicks of your fingertips a whole world of all kinds of sexual fantasies and fetishes are available. Online you can find anything you want, and the “selection” of what is offered has certainly ramped up in the digital age. What used to be seemingly innocent magazines and videotapes is now a whole underworld of anything you could imagine — often including crude and violent scenes of degradation and objectification of young women and men, too.

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Watching porn frequently is not only highly addictive, but overtime it can also lead to desensitization. This could be the reason that the porn seems to be getting more and more violent and grotesque over the past decade or so. Viewers are needing more and more to simply feel something.

It’s Okay To Play

When it comes to sex, we all have different desires, fantasies and wants and this information is not intending to shame anyone for their own. There is a whole subculture of people who are aroused by BDSM, and other fetishes, which is absolutely fine. However, this type of sexual play is often consensual, with strict rules in place. Some of the porn that is emerging is known as abuse porn and does not depict a consensual experience.

“The sensual revolution would replace pornography with eroticism—the alloying of sex with love, of physicality with personality, of the body’s mechanics with imagination, of orgasmic release with binding relationships. In an age where public disapproval is no longer an obstacle to personal disgrace, we must turn instead to the appeal of self-interest,” they write.

“Simply put, we must educate ourselves and our children to understand that porn is for losers—a boring, wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality.”

It’s Time To Talk About It

Of course in an effort to remain neutral we shouldn’t generalize the entirety of porn and judge those who watch it, but it is something that we should be openly discussing more often. Raising awareness of the potential consequences and effects of porn would be a great place to start. Especially because the younger people are likely accessing this type of material online and there is a good chance that what they are seeing is their first glimpse of sexuality.

Are the scenes depicted in porn how we want our children to be viewing sex? Do we want our sons and daughters to believe that this is what sex is all about and all there is to it? Or should we be teaching them that although it can be fun to play games that both parties should be respecting each other and consenting to the experience before engaging in this type of play? And that sex can be a beautiful, loving and sacred act. It’s time to open up the conversations and bring awareness to the consequences of watching too much porn and the potential for addiction.

There is an excellent movie about this very topic called “Don Jon” a young man who is totally addicted to porn and hooking up scores a “perfect 10,” unfortunately, even she is not enough to satisfy his desires and he actually prefers watching porn to being with her. I won’t reveal how this movie ends, but it is very enlightening around the topic and is an enjoyable film.

For more information on this topic, read, “The Problem With Porn: Something We Should All Consider”

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