Every few days, it seems, a public figure issues a statement saying that although they are fully vaccinated, they just tested positive for COVID. And, although they are asymptomatic at this time, out of “an abundance of caution” they will quarantine for five days.
I just love the phrase “an abundance of caution.” Is that like a gaggle of geese? Or a congress of baboons? In any event, I appreciate the sentiment.
It is out of an abundance of caution, then, that I am switching to organic toiletries: soap, shampoo, hair conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant and shaving cream. The links between these products and dementia are weak at best, but I figure it can’t hurt, so why not?
Gum disease and gingivitis are both risk factors for dementia. Daily brushing, therefore, is important. As the old Crest carton and tv ad reminded us: ‘…when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care.’
The primary concern about toothpaste seems to be the presence of fluoride. From what I can gather, though, the best documented effects involve embryonic neurodevelopment and young children. Deposits have also been found post-mortem in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s, but no correlational or causal links have been proposed.
Other ingredients in toothpaste (e.g., artificial sweeteners, artificial coloring, parabens, propylene glycol) might harm you in various ways, but my concern here is brain health. But…out of an abundance of caution…I made the switch.
It appears that a solution of equal parts baking soda and water will work just fine as a daily toothpaste and it’s as inexpensive as it gets. Alternatively, there are a variety of organic toothpastes available online, although most are on the pricey side.
Shampoo and hair conditioner
Did you know that there are emissary veins in your scalp that provide a conduit into your brain? Their presence means that what you rub into your scalp has the potential to get into your brain…and that’s cause for concern.
A few chemicals in the United States have been banned from use in hair dyes for this reason, but there are many others that are suspect but for which there are inadequate studies to establish the danger. The European Union, on the other hand, has banned some 1,300 chemicals from cosmetics.
Since we massage shampoo and hair conditioner into our scalps on a regular basis, and the potential exists for it to be absorbed into our brains, then I think it makes sense to pay attention to what we’re using.
I used Pert shampoo with conditioner for years. It always burned my eyes, but I didn’t think anything about it. After all, at an early age we were taught to close our eyes when shampooing. Now, though, I figure that that isn’t such a good thing after all, and so I tried organic products and…lo and behold…no more eye irritation!
I’ve been using Zest for as long as I can remember, and, just like with my shampoo, the fumes burned my eyes. That was enough to get me to try an organic milled soap. And just like with the shampoo, the burning disappeared.
One theory about Alzheimer’s posits that an ineffective immune system can be responsible for the disease. The thinking behind it is somewhat counter-intuitive: we are so germ-conscious that we sanitize ourselves to the extent that our bodies don’t learn how to fight off a range of bacteria, and it is our under-developed immune systems that fail us when it comes to preventing dementia caused by bacteria.
One of the recommendations that this suggests is to stop using anti-bacterial soap. Fascinating!
In addition, chemicals can be absorbed through our skin, some of which can cross the blood-brain barrier, so it makes sense to pay attention to the ingredients in your soap…out of an abundance of caution!
The suspect chemicals to be avoided in deodorants are parabens, triclosan, phthalates, propylene glycol and aluminum. Their effects are linked to cancer more than dementia, but as long as we’re protecting ourselves, we might as well go all in.
It turns out I was already using a safe deodorant: unscented Arm & Hammer Essentials, so no need to change.
The ill effects of the chemicals that might be found in shaving soaps are generally not too severe except for aerosols which may contain carcinogens. But just like with deodorant, we’ve come this far, so we might as well finish the job. In this case, too, I was already using a natural, unscented shaving soap.
So for me, it wasn’t that hard to make the switch to natural toiletries. The fact that I only use 6 items certainly helped! Did I really have to do it? No. Will it decrease my likelihood of getting dementia by a significant degree? Probably not. But out of an abundance of caution, I did it anyway. 😀