Recently, I’ve provided evidence that the caring for our beloved buggy bodies with essential oils can have synergistic wellness benefits. After all, essential oils can positively impact the microbiota in our bellies, and in our brain, and both are supportive of health!
Previously, I reviewed some of the latest research indicating that disturbances in our microbiome effect disease outcomes and that outside influences can negatively impact our microbiome. Chemicals can be one such disturbance in both directions. Last week, I tied this together with evidence that our bugs play a role in detoxifying our bodies and that certain exposures can create buggy disturbances. Of course, I suggested essential oils as one possible solution to mitigate these everyday stressors our critters and human cells are up against.
The Tricolsan Bug Trauma
A current study reported that triclosan has been found to disturb the microbiome of zebra fish. Although a human study failed to find a similar association with triclosan- and triclocarban (TCS) personal care products, when examining changes in participants oral and stool microbiome samples, a commentary eloquently explained the pitfalls of this conclusion and potential oversights:
Yet it is not necessarily surprising that Poole et al. (2) did not observe any statistically significant effects from exposure to TCS/TCC on the human microbiome structure of the gut and oral cavity. Although Poole et al. (2) performed a substantial and commendable amount of work, the study design was not geared to determine with confidence if and to what extent antimicrobials alter the human microbiome. The authors acknowledge as much themselves when discussing their interesting data on nonsignificant associations found between use of antimicrobial products and body weight changes (2). Whereas small crossover control cohort studies (with, e.g., ?16 participants ) are frequently underpowered for demonstrating with confidence specific human health outcomes, they are still valuable and can be informative. This also applies to the work by Poole et al. (2). Complicating factors in their study included the focus on compounds that are ubiquitous (72% detection frequency for TCS during the non-TCS exposure period), collection of exposure data only for TCS but not for TCC, a high (35%) proportion of out-of-range TCS data requiring use of lower- and upper-bound approximations, uncertainty about the length of time required for the microbiome to return to the baseline, and consideration of long-term outcomes (obesity) that may be ill suited to a study with only a relatively short duration (2).
The author also urged caution to dismiss the concern for harm that this chemical can have on the body from this one limited study (bold emphasis mine):
While presenting a treasure trove of information on the composition and plasticity of the human gut and oral microbiome, the work by Poole et al. (2) does not serve to inform the regulatory decision-making process with respect to antimicrobial compounds. Motivated by a combination of concerns over unwanted environmental and human health impacts and widespread human exposure, and limited or lacking proof of the value of antimicrobials for controlling infectious disease burden in the general population (1), bans or restrictions of the use of TCS or of TCS and TCC have recently been announced in Europe (21), Minnesota (22), and Iowa (23) and are also under consideration for the United States nationwide (24), with a final decision expected from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by September 2016 (1). In addition, a major United States health care provider (25) and multiple international companies (26) have decided to limit use of TCS/TCC in their household product lines.
The more we know about the effects of being so clean, the more we may not want to scrub so much! Just recently, chemical disinfectants and sanitizers have been linked to thyroid cancer. According to Medscape:
Working with chemicals like deodorizers, sanitizers, disinfectants and sterilizers may increase the risk for thyroid cancer, a recent study suggests.
Occupational exposure to these chemicals, known as biocides, was associated with a 65% higher risk of thyroid cancer, the study found. For people whose jobs might have led to the most cumulative exposure to biocides over time, the odds of thyroid cancer were more than doubled.
Staying the “Necessary” Clean in a Dirty World with Essential Oils
As more evidence accumulates with associations and toxic effects of chemicals on our health, the precautionary principle becomes more commonsense. Rather than staying bogged down with this “dooms day” information, I’ve made an intention to empower people with solutions. Below are some natural alternatives to chemical hand sanitizers.
Gel Hand Sanitizer
- 1 Tablespoon Witch Hazel
- 8 ounces 100% pure Aloe Vera gel
- 1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
- 10 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca) essential oil
- 5 drops Lavender essential oil
- Mix together the essential oils and the Vitamin E in a container.
- Add Witch Hazel and mix.
- Add this mixture to the Aloe Vera gel and mix.
- Shake well before each use.
Storage: This gel sanitizer should last a few months as the Vitamin E oil acts as a natural preservative. To help prolong the life of this blend, either re-use a squeezable or pump-top bottle or use a clean spoon to apply it straight out of a glass jar, rather than putting your dirty fingers into the mix each time you use it.
Spray Hand Sanitizer
- 1 Tablespoon Witch Hazel
- 2 Teaspoons 100% pure Aloe Vera Gel (you can also use vegetable glycerin)
- 8 drops of Vitamin E oil
- Essential Oils (Lavender, Tea Tree, or try Lemon, Lime, Orange etc.)
- Clean Water
- Combine together the witch hazel, aloe vera gel, Vitamin E oil, and essential oils.
- Pour into a small spray bottle.
- Add enough clean water to fill bottle.
- Shake well
Storage: For this recipe you will need a 4 oz (120 ml) glass spray bottle, or similar. It is best not to use plastic as it may react with the essential oils.
Learn, Empower, Stay Healthy
Gaulke CA, Barton CL, Proffitt S, Tanguay RL, Sharpton TJ. Triclosan Exposure Is Associated with Rapid Restructuring of the Microbiome in Adult Zebrafish. Rawls JF, ed. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(5):e0154632. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154632.
Halden RU. Lessons Learned from Probing for Impacts of Triclosan and Triclocarban on Human Microbiomes. mSphere. 2016;1(3):e00089-16. doi:10.1128/mSphere.00089-16.
Mercola, J. Polytoxicity: The Wild World of Chemical Exposure. Mercola.com. March 15, 2017. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/03/15/the-wild-world-of-chemical-exposure.aspx
Rapport, L. Chemical Disinfectants and Sanitizers Linked to Thyroid Cancer. Medscape (Reuters Health) March 31, 2017. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/878025?src=wnl_mdplsnews_170407_mscpedit_wir&uac=146852BY&impID=1324603&faf=1
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)