Spring Detox - Reducing our Exposure to Toxins

By Wendy Romig, DCN

As we launch into spring from a gentle winter, you may find yourself cleaning out closets, clearing gardens and removing the old and unwanted from your life to open space for the new and rejuvenating. Spring invites awareness to our bodies and to the earth, along with an increased focus on health and wellness. Some may use this time of year to detox their bodies in preparation for the seasons ahead.

In today’s modern world, toxins are abundant. On average, we are exposed to hundreds of toxins each day, creating strain on our internal systems which can promote inflammation, hormonal imbalances and disease. Not to mention the effects on wildlife and our water systems. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most common chemicals we come in contact with based on research from the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).

Toxins found in common personal care products:
Oxybenzone is another product found in sunscreens, personal care products, aftershave and makeup. Oxybenzone has been shown in studies to increase oxidative stress, putting added strain on organs, as well as increasing risk of allergies, cardiovascular disease and imbalances in the endocrine system.

Parabens are found in sunscreens and personal care products. Evidence suggests that these compounds may disrupt hormone production and lead to allergic responses in the body.

Phenylenediamine (along with aminophenol and diaminobenzene) are found in hair dyes. These chemicals have been associated with increased risk of liver toxicity, respiratory illness, and eye irritation.

Phthalates are found in nail polishes, cosmetics, scented products and aftershaves. They have been found to disturb reproductive function, particularly in males.

Retinyl Palmitate is an ingredient found in many personal care products including shaving cream, moisturizers, sun screens and makeup. Research shows that this chemical may contribute to reproductive disruptions and increased oxidative stress in the body.

Triclosan is found most in toothpaste and facial cleansers. Data suggests that exposure to triclosan may increase risk of endocrine system imbalances, allergic responses and organ toxicity. This product has been restricted for cosmetic use in Canada and Japan.

Toxins found in common cleaning products:
Ammonium hydroxide is a chemical used in common household cleaning products which can contribute to respiratory distress, organ damage, allergies, skin irritations and vision issues.

Oxalic Acid is a chemical used in many cleaning products. Evidence suggests this compound contributes to disruption of the endocrine system and may cause convulsions, vision issues or kidney damage.

Sodium hypochlorite is one of the main ingredients in bleach products which may lead to respiratory inflammation, allergies, skin irritation, hormonal imbalances and digestive disturbances.

While this list is far from exhaustive, it contains a few of the more aggressive toxins found in everyday products. As you consider ways to detoxify your life, you may research safer alternatives to some of these products found through the Environmental Working Group website. Many of these products can be found at  your local co-op or natural food store. You may also choose to investigate DIY options like vinegar, water and essential oils for cleaning, and other recipes for skin care which are natural, safe and oftentimes more economical.


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