Millions of people do their best to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly but forget to give their oral health the same attention in their daily health regimens. It's important to remember that without effectively addressing your dental health, it's difficult to achieve high-level physical health.
Even more concerning are the millions of people who eat a healthy diet and avoid dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, but still expose themselves to harmful chemicals in their everyday personal care products.
For example, parabens and phthalates are widely included in personal care products, as is fluoride in dental products. In addition to avoiding such chemicals, there are many natural products that can help you detoxify from such chemicals and their damaging effects.
Your Physical Health Is Linked to Good Oral Health
I am always surprised at how many people fail to realize the importance of their oral health — not flossing correctly or supporting their oral microbiome. The delicate balance of friendly bacteria in your mouth is as important to overall health as your gut microbiome.
Maintaining oral homeostasis helps protect you from potentially harmful viruses and bacteria in the environment.
Inflamed and diseased gums may also raise your risk of diabetes and heart disease.1 In fact, 93% of people with gum disease are at risk of having Type 2 diabetes,2 while periodontal disease can put you at a 20% to 180% increased risk of heart disease.3
Germ Killing Mouthwashes Are Best Avoided
Despite the widely-held belief that antimicrobial agents and alcohol mouthwashes support oral health by “killing bad bacteria,” they actually do far more harm than good.
“Good bugs basically have a harder chance of setting up a healthy, balanced microbiome when you disturb them, denature them or dehydrate them with alcohol-based products,” says Dr. Gerry Curatola, founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry.4
However, you definitely want to reduce the “bad bugs” that can remain on tooth surfaces and between teeth, encouraging gum inflammation and bacterial colonies. One of the most effective ways to do this is by flossing and/or mechanical scrubbing. Flossing may help prevent tooth decay, periodontal disease, gum disease and plaque buildup, while using a water-flossing system can help remove smaller particles that may not be removable with conventional dental floss alone.
Surveys show only 31.6% of Americans age 30 or over floss daily, even though the benefits are clear.5
Many who think their gums look fine may have unrecognized periodontal disease, fooled by the inflammation, which looks “plump.” Some dentists recommend making flossing less tedious by doing it while you watch TV, when you can give it more time without being bored.
Another way to avoid toxic chemicals to clean your teeth is to try oil pulling. For example, oil pulling with coconut oil is also scientifically recognized to help eliminate unhealthy biofilm, debris and harmful bacteria from your teeth, acting as a natural detergent but without the damage done by chemical detergents.6
I currently do oil pulling with coconut oil for five to 10 minutes first thing in the morning before I eat any food.
Avoid These Dental Hazards
Thanks to the popularity of tooth whitening, many people have become aware of the importance of preserving their tooth enamel. Yet, there is another risk that fewer people are aware of, according to The New York Times.7
“[R]esearch shows that brushing too soon after meals and drinks, especially those that are acidic, can do more harm than good. Acid reflux poses a similar problem: While it might seem like a good idea to brush after a reflux episode, doing so can damage your teeth.
Acid attacks the teeth, eroding enamel and the layer below it, called dentin. Brushing can accelerate this process, said Dr. Howard R. Gamble, president of the Academy of General Dentistry. ‘With brushing, you could actually push the acid deeper into the enamel and the dentin,' he said.”
In one study, researchers evaluated a group of volunteers and the impact that brushing had on their teeth after they drank diet soda. It was found that there was an increase in dentin loss when brushing directly after drinking soda, and up to 20 minutes after consuming the beverage. There was considerably less loss, however, when brushing occurred 30 to 60 minutes afterward.8
For years, I've warned against the dangers of fluoride, which not only harms your microbiome but may affect your bones, brain, thyroid and pineal glands, and impair optimal blood sugar levels. Fluoride may also have an adverse impact on sleep patterns, and short-term and working memory.
Moreover, what are commonly called “silver fillings” actually contain 50% mercury,9 a well-known neurotoxin and dangerous environmental pollutant. The remainder of the filling is usually a mixture of copper, tin, silver and zinc. Dental amalgam is a toxic pollutant that no one should have in their mouth.
Personal Care Products Are Loaded With Hazardous Chemicals
For years, I have warned about chemicals like dioxane, parabens, phthlates, Methylisothiazolinone (MIT), toulene, triclosan, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and others that are put in everyday products at the public's peril. These chemicals are toxic to humans and the environment, putting people at risk of reproductive health problems and even cancer.
Certain plants are scientifically proven to mitigate the dangers of some of these products and help to detoxify your body. A study published in Food and Function demonstrated that the Indian gooseberry has been shown to be effective in preventing and lessening the toxic effects of alcohol, heavy metals, medications and environmental pathogens or fungi on the liver.10
Research published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology details chlorella's ability to detoxify heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — known carcinogens — in the human body.11
Investigational New Drugs wrote that silymarin — extracted from milk thistle — administered in mice “markedly protects against chemically induced renal cancer and acts plausibly by virtue of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative activities.”12
And finally, a study in the Journal of Drug Design, Development and Therapy says that Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs), an ingredient found in the wolfberry plant, protect the liver from injuries due to exposure to toxic chemicals or other insults and “reduce irradiation — or chemotherapy-induced organ toxicities.”
The research also found that LBPs protect against “neuronal injury,” amyloid-related harm and factors thought to contribute to Alzheimer's disease.13
Anise and Coconut Oil Effectively Treat Head Lice
While the discovery that your child has head lice is usually met with shock and surprise, it's important to remember that it's a common condition and not an indication of lack of good hygiene. However, the infestation doesn't need to be treated with dangerous insecticides.
In fact, when researchers compared a lotion made from permethrin, an insecticide in the pyrethroid family, with coconut oil and anise spray, the coconut oil/anise spray was actually more effective. I've often written about the many benefits of coconut oil for hair, whether you want to condition, moisturize or detangle it, stimulate its growth or banish dandruff.
Here is what researchers with the European Journal of Pediatrics wrote on the subject a few years ago:14
“We designed a randomized, controlled, parallel group trial involving 100 participants with active head louse infestation to investigate the activity of a coconut and anise spray and to see whether permethrin lotion is still effective, using two applications of product 9 days apart.
The spray was significantly more successful (41/50, 82.0%) cures compared with permethrin (21/50, 42.0% …) Per-protocol success was 83.3% and 44.7%, respectively.
Thirty-three people reported irritant reactions following alcohol contact with excoriated skin. We concluded that, although permethrin lotion is still effective for some people, the coconut and anise spray can be a significantly more effective alternative treatment.”
More recently, researchers found that clove oil diluted in coconut oil killed lice in their studies. And, Yunnan verbena oil diluted in coconut oil “showed also a significant efficacy.”15
Another Less Toxic Head Lice Treatment
Other head lice treatments that have been shared anecdotally include soaking your child's hair in vinegar, letting it dry without being rinsed out, then coating the hair with coconut oil and putting a shower cap on overnight. Within a few hours the coconut oil will suffocate the live lice; you need to comb the eggs or “nits” out with a fine-tooth comb, sometimes more than once.
Also, use the hottest settings to wash and dry any linens or clothing exposed to the lice. As with bedbugs and fleas, vacuuming is an important part of getting the situation under control because eggs live on long after the insects are dead.
Recently, a study from the Dierdre Imus Environmental Health Center at Hackensack University Medical Center16 showed that the application of 100% dimethicone — a widely-used silicon-based organic polymer — may be an effective head lice treatment for children that avoids insecticides too.
Over the span of four years, 58 children ages 3 to 12 were treated with the product LiceMD, which contains dimethicone. The researchers found that after 14 days, 96.5% of the children were rid of live lice and 80.7% were rid of viable eggs. The study recommended dimethicone as “a safe and highly effective treatment for pediatric head lice.”
Hot Air May Eliminate Head Lice Without Chemicals
In 2006, the journal Pediatrics noted that head lice were becoming resistant to chemicals and that children were often missing school because of head lice:17
“Each year millions of children are infested with head lice, a condition known as pediculosis, which is responsible for tens of millions of lost school days. Head lice have evolved resistance to many of the currently used pediculicides; therefore, an effective new treatment for head lice is needed.”
Researchers used six different types of hot-air blowers to examine the effectiveness of hot air against head lice, including a wall-mounted dryer, a hand-held blow dryer, and a custom-built blower dubbed “The LouseBuster.” The study found that hot air itself may be useful in treatment of head lice:
“[W]e examined the effectiveness of several methods that use hot air to kill head lice and their eggs … Our findings demonstrate that one 30-minute application of hot air has the potential to eradicate head lice infestations. In summary, hot air is an effective, safe treatment and one to which lice are unlikely to evolve resistance.”
Along that same line, in 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a device that uses hot air to kill lice.18 While the device appears to “suck up” eggs like a vacuum, it actually dehydrates eggs with heat, thereby killing them, says its manufacturer. Finally, if treating your child's head lice yourself does not appeal to you, there are specialists in some areas who will come to your home and treat your child's hair nontoxically, including combing out the nits.19
Use Natural Methods to Avoid Toxins in Cosmetic Products
While advertisers and beauty companies tout their personal care products as essential for your hygiene and health, it's more beneficial — and safer — to use natural products to avoid toxic chemicals that may harm your well-being.
Your oral health is particularly crucial to your overall health. Remember to avoid antimicrobial agents or alcohol-based mouthwashes in favor of regular flossing or mechanical scrubbing, which may help prevent gum disease, tooth decay and plaque buildup.
Be sure to purify your water and refrain from using fluoride-based toothpastes, as fluoride may bring a host of health issues such as upsetting your microbiome and impairing your sleeping patterns, blood sugar levels, and your short-term memory.
For other personal care such as your hair and scalp, you can opt for natural solutions to deal with instances like head lice by using clove oil diluted in coconut oil, hot-air blowers, or seeing a specialist who will treat the issue nontoxically.
Not only will these methods help you avoid harmful chemicals, but they may also assist in benefitting your overall health.
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