Saturday, June 26, 2010

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS NATURAL?

Robert Tisserand says "cold-pressed citrus oils like bergamot contain about 1 ppm of DEHP, because it leaches out of plastic tubing used in the extraction process". From Nature with Love says "citrus seed extracts are not all-natural preservatives. They are chemically derived from the seeds of citrus fruits." Who knew right?!

Isn't GSE suppose to be the natural preservative alternative to the synthetic? Aren't essential oils suppose to be the natural scenting alternative to fragrance oils?

I talk to my husband about my vision for an all natural existence and he reminds me of the air we breath. "It isn't pure" he says, "you know it is laden with chemicals no matter where you go". I had to remind him that although it may appear at times that I'm oblivious to the fact that synthetic chemicals surround us, I assured him I am not.

Not long after the discussion with my husband a friend asked me what I would do after ridding as many synthetic chemicals from my life as humanly possible if I were to get cancer. Would I be angry at all the work I put into keeping synthetics out of my kitchen, out of my body products, out of my life. At first, I didn't know exactly how to answer. Would I be angry? Would I feel like all this effort was for nothing? I actually had to soul search on that one a little bit and maybe I still am.

One thing I learned about myself from my friends question is that I don't rid synthetics from my life so that I can live. I've exposed myself to synthetics by naivete (the lotions, the perfumes, the cleaning supplies etc...) and by no fault of my own (afterall, I can't change the air I breath right!?!). I won't undo what is already done and for the most part cannot undo what exists around me. My children now carry their own set of synthetic chemicals, many from birth that they inherited from me, and will accumulate more just by existing in this life. So, what am I doing it all for?

To be able to live in a natural state is the earths gift to us, at least it once was. We had everything we needed right here on our planet to live day to day without complication. Animals, berries and nuts for food and plants for medication. Somewhere along the way we became a society obsessed with development and accumulation. We turned natural into artificial and called it progress. Today we are a society full of depressed, anxious, and physically unhealthy individuals. In 2005 the CDC released a report that showed 2.4 billion medications were given during doctor or hospital visits and 118 million of those were antidepressants, 113 million were for high blood pressure. Adult use of antidepressants tripled from 1988 to 2000, and those statistics are based only on those who seek help. As a whole Americans aren't happy or healthy. So again, why am I doing it?

I have three reasons:

1. Rebellion

First and foremost, I can't (un)know what is known. It isn't scare tactics from the media that make me leary of synthetics, it is history. The health of our nation, of the world. The evidence is right before us. Whole towns of people who are sick or dying because of air pollution or water contamination. Breast cancer has risen 80% in the United Kingdom since the 1970's, cases have doubled in Japan and Korea when they were known for having the least. You hear that increased nutrition is the cause of the rise in breast cancer. Increased nutrition??? Because our children eat better they reach puberty sooner and have later menopause which means an estrogen dependent breast cancer can form. Where is the logic in that? Maybe the increase in nutrition is actually an increase in exposure to pesticides that mimic estrogen. That sounds more plausible.

There is only one commonality that I see and that is synthetic chemicals. It is in our food, water, body products, and air. Those defending air will say it is the water, those defending water will say it is the food, those defending food with say it is the body products. You would think with this so-called "healthy" society of "wanna be fit and eat rights" we'd all be doing much better but we aren't. We aren't because it is everywhere. It is estimated that 81,100,000 people had one form or another of cardiovascular disease in 2006. 831,272 people died of heart disease in 2006. Sixteen million Americans are said to have a Thyroid disease which is an endocrine disorder and 40% of those cases are caused by Graves disease (an autoimmune disorder).

I have found it interesting that woman are more likely than men to suffer Graves disease (7x's more) or Thyroid disease, heart disease and of course breast cancer. It was reported by Bionsen (based on their study) that "women, on average, expose their face and body to 515 chemicals in the form of beauty products every single day." Think about that. Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, shaving gel, lip stick, foundation, eye shadow, blush, eye liner, mascara, hair gel or hair spray, perfume. If it was just in the air, in the water and in the food, why are women at the top of the list for getting hormonal disorders, cancers and heart disease? Women are also more likely to suffer depression.

So the first answer is rebellion. I am rebelling against the synthetic industry. It is killing us, there is no doubt in my mind and I won't pay them to kill me or my offspring. They can release all the studies they want to convince the public their products aren't dangerous, but my instincts, which have never failed me before, are telling me this is the problem.

2. The future health of my children and grandchildren

I can't take away what my children have already been exposed to but I can partially choose what they will be exposed to in the present and the future. When they grow up they can choose for themselves but hopefully I'll have instilled some of my values in them and they will pass it on to their children and so forth, maybe leading to a better, healthier, future.

3. My Health

My health is really the least of my worries but it is still a concern. I'm not going to fill myself full of things I know will contribute to my death. So this is where the "all natural" part comes in.

Is there such a thing as all natural? We consider our herbs natural but are they really when they contain herbicide run-off from the neighbors property? We consider our honey natural if we are beekeepers but is it really considering our bees picked up pesticides while foraging and bring it back to the hive? (sorry people, there isn't anything such as organic honey). Numerous natural ingredients became available to those of us in the body product industry ONLY after being chemically extracted and those chemicals can remain (as noted by Robert Tisserand and From Nature with Love) in the final product. Is it no longer natural then?

What we call natural today is NOT what our ancestors would have called natural so does that mean we can't find safe products for ourselves or use the term on our label? Maybe the Jennifer from the Smart Mama was right when she said to pay attention to labeling. Don't call something "all natural" if any component is synthetic. Don't call something "chemical free" because even water is a chemical. I'm thinking I'll label my products "natural as can possibly be" and see how well that goes over. As for what to use in my own house. I make what I can and when I have to buy it I look for the food with the least amount of pesticides and the product with the least synthetic ingredients (within my price range of course).