Environmental experts say that the average household has about 62 toxic chemicals insidiously inhabiting its air, fluids, and surfaces from which they can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed by the body. These venomous visitors are hidden within most commercially obtained household cleaning products, which are among the most harmful substances found in the home. In fact, in 2000, these common household sanatizing agents were responsible for nearly 10% of all toxic exposures reported to Poison Control Centers throughout the U.S (206,636 calls). As we explore new and improved ways to clean up our lives, to enhance our mental, physical, and spiritual health; it is crucial that we consider the molecular effects of these murky miasmas upon our mind, body, and spirit. Such toxins vary in the types of health risks they pose. Some cause immediate consequences like skin or respiratory irritation, and others are linked to long term repercussions such as cancer. All, due to their effects on the body, also affect the mind. Think about it, if you can.
Mind, Body, and Toxic Molecules
While it is vital that we seek improved health through the pursuit of the optimal concentrations of naturally occuring bodily substances, as encouraged by orthomolecular medicine, it is equally as important that we rid the body of as many harmful toxins as possible. Ayurveda maintains that the mind holds authority over the body, and that the body and mind are intertwined within a lifetime relationship. The conditions of the body affect the conditions of the mind, the mind the body, and so it goes. When the body is weakened by toxic invaders, its immune system, like a molecular militia, seeks to locate and remove these threats. When these natural resources are being devoted to our internal armed forces, they are no longer available to support our natural pursuits of health and happiness. And, most of these wasteful wars being waged are preventable. Hmmm, an interesting parallel?
When the body is weakened by the presence of toxins and our immune system responses to them, the brain goes on RED ALERT and shifts into survival mode (stress response). While in this state, our thoughts, emotions, perceived possibilities, and courses of action are limited to those related to self preservation. Everything suddenly reduces down to some version of fighting, running away, or freezing with fear. This is all we can think about, feel, consider, or do. While locked into this brain frame, we perceive everything as some kind of threat, and are, at the least, defensive. We may think about going off, digging out, or locking ourself in the bathroom. We may feel intense anger, fear, or hurt. We may only be able to consider fighting, leaving, or withdrawing. We may then act upon these things. All this in response to a simple, normally occurring situation. When this happens, we may become anxious or depressed, either because we still believe the threat is real (still in Survival Mode), or because we realize what happened and feel guilty about it (back in Safe Mode feeling regret, remorse, or confusion). In addition to such mental and emotional effects, the brain shuts down the body’s repair and maintenance systems, diverting all available resources to survival, which maintains the brain’s red alert status. We may or may not even know that our body is reacting to a toxin. It may go completely unnoticed, or start with something as subtle as irritability, a headache, or fatigue. However our body reacts to the presence of such harmful chemicals, it can be the trigger that initiates a chain reaction of physical and mental dis-ease. Those who are highly sensitive, have neurological uniqueness, or trigger-based mental illness like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may have stronger mental and emotional reactions to the presence of such toxins in the body.
Which to Ditch
Ever wonder why your commercial cleaning products are missing their ingredients list? I betcha it is because many contain carcinogens, allergens, endocrine disrupters, or reproductive system toxins. Check out the Green Guide to find out how toxic your cleaning supplies really are. It will help you flush out the eight scariest substances lurking under your kitchen sink, and suggest safe, natural alternatives that really work. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) put together a list of the worst household cleaners to encourage our health, happiness, and the color of love. Here is a series devoted to helping you identify the common household chemicals to avoid. Among these, formaldehyde is one of the worst.
Our Personal Favorite
My wife and I prefer an awesome product called Branch Basics for nearly all of our household cleaning needs. We use a powerful, multi-purpose Soap Concentrate as a bathroom cleaner, hand sanitizer, laundry detergent, and much, much more. We also prefer Pure Oxygen Boost as a bleach substitute, for our whitening, brightening, and stain fighting needs. We originally picked up the Soap Concentrate as part of a Large Starter Kit, since this was the best overall value. According to Katie, the Wellness Mama, “Branch Basics is a super versatile cleaner that contains NO toxic ingredients. In fact, not only does it contain zero toxic ingredients, but it can also be used for just about every cleaning job in your house! It also goes beyond household cleaning. Some of the other uses are: personal care, baby wash, laundry and even pet shampoo!” Branch Basics offers a safe, natural alternative to your current, and potentially harmful household cleaning products. And please remember that when pernicious chemicals harm the body, they also harm the mind. Since green is the color of love, since being pristine with green is a healthy way to love ourselves and our environment; let’s make love with the molecules with which we clean. If you would like to give Branch Basics a try, we can offer you 25% off your first order if you use coupon code Pure25. Just click on one of the links in this paragraph, and begin enjoying a safe and natural way to clean.
Do you know anyone whose mental or physical illness has been linked to the harmful effects of toxic cleaning products? Do you know which chemical was the culprit? What have you learned in your pursuit of healthier living through the elimination of toxic chemicals from your life?
Photo credit: Derek Gavey