Have you ever heard the term “body burden”? Body burden is the toxic load we place on our bodies from day-to-day living that can lower our quality of life and negatively affect our health. We add to this burden by using toxic body care products and household chemicals like cleaning products and pesticides. The kind of water we drink and the foods we eat play a role, as well as over-the-counter and prescription drugs … these play a big part in overburdening our bodies.
Our body burden starts growing even before we are born! Studies have found that babies today are born with more than 200 man-made, industrial chemicals already in their blood. This number will grow and maybe even quadruple by adulthood. That is astounding!
Only about 200 of the over 80,000 chemicals used in commerce have ever been studied for safety. And 20% of those 80,000 are kept as “trade secrets.” So, we don’t really know the effects these chemicals are having on our health, or even know what chemicals we’re being exposed to in some cases!
Different chemicals have different effects on people depending not only on the specific chemical, but on the amount, timing, duration, and means of exposure to that chemical. These chemicals can cause direct damage to the body’s organs including the heart and brain. The bones, blood, nerves, reproductive and endocrine system can all be affected by body burden!
When I was pregnant with my second child in early 2005, I began delving into natural/home-birthing books and started dabbling in creating organic baby care items. I simply was not satisfied with the items I was seeing on the shelves in regards to diaper creams, powders, and baby washes. There is very little extra care that goes into the mass production of these products that you see on the baby aisle at your favorite store. There are still toxic chemicals present and artificial colors & fragrances “trade secrets” that your baby readily absorbs into the lungs and via the skin!
I began having “a-ha moments” quite often since discovering that not every product on the shelf was going to be safe to use! I was a bit naïve in my early 30s, but I am thankful to have awakened to better ways to care for my children, myself, and my husband! Today, there are *thankfully* many more healthy options available to the consumer!
This article isn’t about baby care products but I thought I would mention MY personal turning point!
You cannot eliminate every point of exposure to toxins but you CAN reduce and control it. And by reducing your exposure to toxins, you can reduce the effect they have on your health.
Let’s take a look at some simples swaps you can make right now to ease your body burden!
I always balk at the term because these mainstream “fresheners” are nothing but junk that can cause serious harm. Air freshening products can contain dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde and phthalates that can contribute to asthma, nasal allergies, headaches & migraines, infertility & birth defects, and even cancer. Formaldehyde is a well-known human carcinogen that has been definitively linked to cancers of the nose and throat. Naphthalene is another chemical found in the majority of air fresheners and it has been shown to cause tissue damage and cancer in the lungs of rodents in laboratory studies. It is plausible to assume that it causes similar effects in humans.
Children are particularly vulnerable to these chemicals but anyone at any age can be affected.
Air fresheners include plug-ins, aerosols, certain candles, and carpet powders.
<<What to use instead:
Invest in an essential oil diffuser to safely scent your home with lovely botanicals! You don’t have to spend a fortune; many home diffusers can be purchased for under $40 and will last for years. Some of my favorite essential oils to diffuse for a clean, fresh, and inviting aroma are lemon, lime, sweet orange, cinnamon, spearmint, and lavender. Mix and match your favorites!
Making carpet deodorizers is simple. All you need is baking soda and essential oils. For each cup of baking soda, use about 30 drops of essential oil. Mix well, store in a jar with a lid, and sprinkle on carpets as needed to deodorize and freshen! Allow the powder to sit on the carpet for at least 30 minutes before vacuuming it up.
Lost River Naturals’ Sacred Space Aroma Spray is a fantastic, cleansing/purifying, grounding scent for the home using pure essential oils! https://lostrivernaturals.com/product/sacred-space-smudge-spray/
Choose soy, coconut, or beeswax-based candles made with essential oils instead of artificial fragrances and paraffin wax. Etsy is a great place to discover handmade, non-toxic candles! Or if you’re the DIY type, candle making is a fun and easy project!
>>Scented laundry products
Like air fresheners, scented body products can cause just as much (or more!) damage to the lungs and body as a whole due to the chemical fragrances they off-gas. One thing I simply despise is smelling someone’s “clean” laundry that refuses to go away! These scents (sticky molecules) remain on the clothing long after it has been laundered and affects the surrounding air and even STICKS to your lungs! Yuck!
Studies show that air vented from machines using the top-selling, scented, liquid laundry detergents and scented dryer sheets contain hazardous chemicals, including two that are classified as carcinogens. Manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients used in fragrances, or in laundry products, and these chemicals are not even regulated.
One particular study, with findings published in the journal ‘Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health’ is alarming. The study focused on chemicals emitted through laundry vents. Analysis of the captured gases found more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants, coming out of the vents. Of those, two chemicals — acetaldehyde and benzene — are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as carcinogens, for which the agency has established no safe exposure level.
These products can affect not only personal health but also public and environmental health. The chemicals go into the air, down the drain, and into bodies of water.
<<What to use instead:
Choose “free and clear” laundry detergents when possible or those scented with pure essential oils.
‘Ecos’ brand laundry liquid is a favorite of mine that contains none of these harmful chemicals mentioned above. We use the ‘free and clear’ version of ECOS laundry detergent.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the brand “biokleen’. This company makes natural, biodegradable laundry powders and liquids too that seem to be very popular in the natural health community, although I have not tried this brand myself.
Again, if you are the DIY type, there are many easy, homemade recipes to try like this one: https://keeperofthehome.org/homemade-laundry-powder-3-ingredients-10-minutes/
that WORKS LIKE CRAZY and will cost pennies per load to save you a lot of money and worry!
>>Cosmetics and Personal Care Products
This category I could write on for days and days but I won’t! I will simply share some of my favorite resources so you can easily see for yourself if what you are using may be causing harm.
You can imagine the amount of chemicals present in cosmetics and body care products when the industry is largely unregulated. Many ingredients are not even listed on packaging… ingredients like:
1,4 Dioxane which is a contaminant linked to cancer found in products that create suds, such as shampoo and liquid soap
Formaldehyde, a carcinogen, which is a byproduct of the manufacting process of commercial products.
Coal Tar which is found in many hair dyes, lotions and soaps may not appear on the label but it’s also a nasty additive that elevates cancer risks.
And these may be listed but must be avoided…
Talc which may contain asbestos, found in makeup and body powders
Parabens which can mimic hormones and disrupt the endocrine system as a whole and contribute to breast cancer. Parabens are widely used in fragrances, make-up and body care items since the 1920s to help preserve products and prevent bacterial growth.
Toluene, found naturally in crude oil and is added to gasoline. It’s used in the making of many products including hair dyes and nail products.
The list of chemicals to avoid is too long to publish, so I suggest spending some time on the sites linked below:
Here is a wonderful resource to delve into (Campaign For Safe Cosmetics): https://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chem-of-concern/
and The Environmental Working Group’s site, “Skin Deep” https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ . This is a huge database where you can get a safety rating on hundreds of brands.
<<What to use instead
Since a lot more people are looking for natural personal care items today, they are easy to find! Just look around my website shop right here for organic deodorants, natural tooth powder cleanser, face care, body care and more! I have dedicated my life to creating products that are not only safe for the family, but really work and won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out on anything! If you haven’t shopped my offerings, I hope you at least take a look, beacuse I am so proud of what I do (and we use it all here at home!) Shop – Lost River Naturals
Natural products for the body are beautifully designed. Once you try natural make-up or face serums or deodorant, you’ll wonder why you ever used the chemical stuff! It’s simply NOT NEEDED.
When shopping for natural cosmetics and personal care, just read the ingredients just like you do when shopping for natural foods at the grocery store. The simpler the better! If it’s something you cannot recognize or pronounce, it’s most likely not a natural product. (except maybe for latin/botanical names of herbs and essential oils, those can get pretty tricky but they ARE safe!)
When I first discovered that the products I was buying off the shelf may not be safe, I wanted to panic and throw everything out at once! This may not be the best answer for you especially if you are on a budget or are feeling overwhelmed like I was! I suggest replacing 1 or 2 items at a time, then move on.
I bet once you start looking you will find that many products are multi-purpose! When you simplify you will more organized, save money, and actually start using the products you have on hand.
And, again, if you’re the Do It Yourself type, dive in and have some fun trying out different recipes at home that will make you feel better, LOOK better and even live longer!
Owner of Lost River Naturals