Category Archives: endocrine disruptors

Modern Epidemic: Metabolic Syndrome

“Metabolic Syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms that are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and other developed countries. Metabolic Syndrome is often referred to as an “epidemic” because the number of people affected by it is increasing so rapidly. Why does this matter? Because Metabolic Syndrome is a set of conditions created by lifestyle and dietary habits. Metabolic Syndrome is Metabolic Syndrome: Apple with Stethoscope and Measuring Tapeknown to increase the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, depression, stroke and more.

Although experts disagree on the specific causes of Metabolic Syndrome, they all agree that obesity, a high carbohydrate diet, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are contributing factors. Other factors which may increase your risk include heredity, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, smoking and possibly toxic exposure from food, air and water.

The problem with Metabolic Syndrome is that no single definition of what it is and no specified set of diagnostic criteria have been defined. Many practitioners in the mainstream medical community do not believe Metabolic Syndrome exists and do not believe early identification can help improve health outcomes. There is also controversy about whether the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome truly represent a “syndrome” or are merely a group of related symptoms which each has its own risk factors. The concern is that we have created a “disease” which truly doesn’t exist.

The bottom line is that whether you group the symptoms together and label them or not, they each represent a very real risk to health and longevity. In my practice, I work with many people who have multiple symptoms associated with Metabolic Syndrome. Addressing the issues quickly restores health. It also often results in improved self esteem and a restored positive outlook. I find that people who address Metabolic Syndrome typically experience better overall health on a long term basis.

Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

The most common symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include:

  • Weight gain in the stomach and abdomen, often in spite of exercise and decreased food intake
  • Fatigue
  • Increased triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Fasting blood glucose levels greater than 100 mg/dL
  • Acne
  • Higher than normal blood levels of insulin (Please see The Top 3 Blood Tests Everyone Should Request for more info)
  • Mild to moderate kidney damage resulting in excess protein in the urine
  • Increased systemic inflammation which may cause joint pain, water retention and other symptoms
  • Increased liver enzymes due to insufficient detoxification and/or a condition called “fatty liver”
  • Excess growth of Candida (yeast) in the body
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women
  • Low Testosterone in men
  • Abnormal development in children
  • Mental and psychological issues, ranging from mild to extreme

If you have three or more of those symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your practitioner. Ask him or her to order blood work including a complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, insulin level, A1C and complete thyroid panel. (If your doctor is unsure how to interpret these tests related to Metabolic Syndrome risk factors, please feel free to contact me to schedule a half-hour blood work interpretation consultation.)

Reversing Metabolic Syndrome

The good news is that Metabolic Syndrome can often be reversed using simple lifestyle changes. Supplements may also be used in some cases. The purpose of the recommended changes is to improve insulin sensitivity and restore balance to the endocrine system. Potential changes may include:

  • Improving an exercise regimen and combining it with weight training
  • Decreasing the type and quantity of carbohydrates eaten on a daily basis
  • Increasing the amount of healthy fat consumed on a daily basis
  • Identifying and addressing mineral deficiencies
  • Improving digestion to ensure foods are adequately digested and absorbed
  • Other recommendations based on the person’s specific health needs

Reversing Metabolic Syndrome is very possible, but requires the direction of a qualified practitioner. If you suspect you have Metabolic Syndrome and would like to start the process of reversing it, please contact me to schedule a consultation. 

Photo courtesy of Keith Ramsey

Little-Known Facts About Soap

Beautiful Bars of Handmade SoapSoap is a common ingredient in every household. How many times each day do you use it? Most of us use it five to ten times each day, yet few of us pause to think much about it. The following facts may give you a new appreciation of and perspective on soap. It’s not just a bunch of bubbles!

For information on why soap is better than hand sanitizer, please read: Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer.

Next Soap Making Class: November 16, Indianapolis

Did you know the following facts? Which ones do you find surprising?

These Facts May Surprise You

  • Soap was first used as a medicinal agent.
    . 
  • The Egyptians regularly bathed, using a soap made by combining animal fats with wood ash.
    . 
  • Real soap is created by combining a strong alkali (lye) with oils and fats.
    .
  • Real soap made with natural ingredients often has a healing effect on acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
    . 
  • The soapmaking process, called “saponification,” separates the oils’ fatty acid bonds and combines them with molecules in the lye to form a salt. This salt is what we refer to as “soap.” (Yes, some salts are soft.)
    . 
  • Most commercial soaps are not true soap, but are a combination of chemical detergents, artificial lathering agents and toxic chemicals.
    . 
  • After a perfectly balanced saponification process finishes, the soap no longer contains lye or fat. Both are “consumed” during the saponification process.
    . 
  • The best soapmakers add extra oils to their recipes. Doing so means some of the oils do not saponify and remain in the soap. This is called “superfatting” and creates a very moisturizing, nourishing bar of soap.
    Natural Handmade Soap. 
  • Glycerin, a natural moisturizer, is a natural product created during the soapmaking process. Commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin, replacing it with artificial detergents and other chemicals. This creates a soap that is very drying to the skin. Real, homemade soap retains the glycerin.
    . 
  • A single bar of commercial bar soap may contain over 20 toxic ingredients, many of which have been connected to cancer, endocrine issues, skin problems and more.
                     .. 
  • The lather, hardness and moisturizing qualities of a soap are dependent on the various oils used in the recipe.
    . 
  • A simple, moisturizing soap can be made using nothing more than olive oil, lard and lye. This soap can be made using common kitchen equipment. Nothing special is needed!

Learn to make your own soap … it’s easy!

It is surprisingly simple to make your own soap. No special ingredients or equipment is needed. If the facts shared above make you want to learn how to make your own soap, stay tuned for my ebook and for upcoming classes on soapmaking.

Why You Should Never Use Products Containing Triclosan

Update, December 10, 2013

I was contacted today by a representative of GOJO Industries, the manufacturer of Purell Hand Sanitizer. The representative contacted me to inform me this article contained “errors” and that the FDA does not allow the chemical Triclosan to be used in “leave on” products. Although I appreciate the representative’s desire to defend their product, the truth is that Triclosan used to be very commonly used in hand sanitizers made by other companies. Let me also make it perfectly clear this article never advised against using hand sanitizing products but specifically warned against using products containing Triclosan.

Approximately five years ago, I spent a significant amount of time researching OTC hand sanitizers in search of ones that did not contain Triclosan. At that time, the majority of the products I researched did indeed contain Triclosan. Purell’s did not. In my research, there were very few hand sanitizers that solely contained alcohol. A Washington Post article from 2010 also identified that some — not all — hand sanitizers did indeed contain Triclosan. In Purell’s defense, they are listed on the Food and Water Watch’s list of companies which are committed to NOT using Triclosan and their products do not contain Triclosan.

Unfortunately, the fact the FDA claims to not allow Triclosan to be used in in leave-on products raises huge questions about why and how some companies continue to use Triclosan in products which are left on the skin. These products include Revlon’s ColorStay LipSHINE Lip Color Plus; Bath and Body Works Instant Antibacterial Hand Gel; numerous deodorants made by companies such as Right Guard and Old Spice; and numerous acne products. (In recent years, the Vaseline Company discontinued using Triclosan in lotions.) If Triclosan cannot be used in products which are left on the skin, why is it allowed to be used in deodorants and lipsticks which are obviously left on the skin? The FDA is currently re-examining Triclosan regulations, but they do not have a strong history of making necessary changes.

The bottom line is that you must read labels. Triclosan is still very commonly included in oral products such as mouthwashes and toothpastes; hand and body washes; etc. The Crest Company has removed Triclosan from some of their products, but not all. The Colgate Company has not yet removed Triclosan from several of its toothpastes. It is especially important to note that Triclosan is included in many products which are labeled “natural,” such as several Avon body sprays. You can view a list of products that contain Triclosan at:

Environmental Working Group’s List of Products Containing Triclosan

US Department of Health and Human Services  Household Products Database

Dr. Ben Kim’s List of Products Containing Triclosan

It is also important to note that the fact a hand sanitizer does not contain Triclosan does not mean it is a pure product. Many OTC hand sanitizers contain a wide variety of other ingredients which are not considered safe.

Original Article, Published 10/3/2011

Let me start this post by saying I strongly encourage everyone to maintain good hygiene during flu season by using frequent hand washing. Although the use of hand sanitizer seems to be a great way to avoid bacteria when you can’t wash your hands, there are dangers associated with OTC hand sanitizers containing Triclosan. In today’s post I’ll share the dangers of Triclosan. If you’d like to see alternatives you can easily make yourself, please read Hand Sanitizer Alternatives. If you are interested in learning more about the unpublished dangers in other common products, please read my post, Why You Should NEVER Use Splenda (Sucralose)

A chemical called Triclosan is the most commonly used antibacterial ingredient in antibacterial liquid soaps, deodorants, oral hygiene products, antibacterial clothing, plastic toys, antibacterial dental products, common cosmetics and antibacterial cleaners. Triclosan is marketed as Microban when used in fabrics and plastics (including toys), and as Biofresh when used in sportsclothing containing acrylic fibers. Triclosan is not just included in most antibacterial products used topically, but is also included in products intended for internal use. The widespread use of Triclosan means it is extremely common and is probably located in at least one product (probably more) in most US households. You can review a list of products containing Triclosan here: Dr. Ben Kim: Products that Contain Triclosan. The EPA investigated Triclosan and classified it as a pesticide, not a cosmetic ingredient. This alone should be cause for concern.
This widespread use would be fine if Triclosan were a safe chemical with no side effects on human health or ecological balance. Unfortunately, it is not a safe chemical. Here’s why:
  • Triclosan Has an Almost Indefinite Afterlife in Human Tissue: Swedish studies found Triclosan in 60% of women’s breast milk, even years after mothers had stopped using antibacterial products due to toxicity concerns. The body stores Triclosan in fat cells. (Toxicity is a common cause of inability to lose weight. The body refuses to lose its protective layer of fat in order to avoid flooding the body with toxins. I find that an effective detox often results in a loss of 5-10 pounds over the span of a year even if no other efforts are made.)  Since the body cannot metabolize and eliminate Triclosan, some studies suggest daily use could easily lead to toxic levels of the chemical in the body.
    .
  • Triclosan is a Known Endocrine Disruptor: Multiple scientific studies have proven that Triclosan negatively affects thyroid function in frogs, specifically the metabolism of the thyroid hormones. This effect has been shown to stop tadpoles from developing sex organs or from ever becoming a frog. There is some evidence that Triclosan has the same effect in humans. No one can deny that there is an absolute epidemic of thyroid disorders in the US. Did Triclosan cause them? Probably not. Is it a contributor, the evidence says that’s very possible. Why take the risk?
         . 
  • Triclosan Is Associated With Antibiotic Resistance: Other studies have proven that continual use of Triclosan (an antibacterial product) creates antibiotic resistance bacteria. Other studies proved that people who use products containing Triclosan on a daily basis have a higher incidence of resistance to antibiotics than people who do not.
    .
  • Triclosan Forms Carcinogens When Exposed to Chlorine in Tap Water: When Triclosan is exposed to tap water, such as when you wash your hands with an antibacterial soap, it releases chloroform gas, a known carcinogen. Studies also showed the effect is stronger when hot water is used, such as during a shower. Imagine how much of this gas you inhale during a hot shower. Chloroform gas is also emitted when water containing Triclosan is exposed to sunlight. This effect is a known killer of algaes and other aquatic plant life that are an essential part of the food chain. Waste water processing cannot remove all Triclosan from tap water, so you are drinking it whether you want to or not if you drink tap water. (Please don’t.) Triclosan is also known to break down into dioxins, a chemical known to be toxic.On a side note, did you know the EPA allows sewage from water treatment plants to be used as fertilizer? This means that the dioxins and other chemicals in sewage are being absorbed by the non-organic fruits and veggies you are eating. Aside from being disgusting, this practice could be potentially dangerous.
    .
  • Triclosen is strongly Linked to Human Disorders: Although further research is needed to confirm the full effects of Triclosan on the endocrine system, existing research proved Triclosan is dangerous to humans and linked its use to increased rates of asthma, allergies and eczema.
    .
  • Triclosan was recently linked to muscular weakness and disorders:  Recent studies found that Triclosan impairs muscular contractions in cardiac and skeletal muscles. These effects are already seen in the environment in the form of slower swimming fish and other abnormalities.

Needless to say, I thoroughly read all products before purchasing any OTC product, especially since Triclosan hides in products where you wouldn’t expect to find it. I make most of my own bath products and household cleansers. I also make my own all-natural hand sanitizer. Please read Hand Sanitizer Alternatives with Recipes for information on how to avoid Triclosan and easily make your own hand sanitizer and sanitizing sprays.

Please read labels on your household products. How many contain Triclosan?

References:

Gee, RH, A Charles, N Taylor, and PD Darbre. 2008. Oestrogenic and androgenic activity of triclosan in breast cancer cells. Journal of Applied Toxicology 38: 78-91.

Gutierrez, David, “Antibacterial soap ingredient triclosan may be harmful to humans,” 15 Mar 2007, NewsTarget.com. http://www.newstarget.com/021703.html

Ciniglia, C, C Cascone, RL Giudice, et al. 2005. Application of methods for assessing the geno- and cytotoxicity of triclosan to C. ehrenbergii. Journal of Hazardous Materials 122: 227-232.

Coogan, MA, RE Edziyie, TW La Point, and BJ Venables. 2007. Algal bioaccumulation of triclocarban, triclosan, and methyl triclosan in a North Texas wastewater treatment plant receiving stream. Chemosphere 67: 1911-1918.


Calafat, AM, X Ye, LY Wong et al. 2008. Urinary concentrations of triclosan in the U.S. population: 2003-2004. Environmental Health Perspectives 116(3): 303-307.

Crofton, KM, KB Paul MJ DeVito, and JM Hedge. 2007. Shortterm in vivo exposure to the water contaminant triclosan: Evidence for disruption of thyroxine. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology 24:194-197. Veldhoen, N, RC Skirrow, H Osachoff, et al. 2006.
The bactericidal agent triclosan modulates thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and disrupts postembryonic anuran development. Aquatic Toxicology 80: 217-227.