What’s In My Personal Care Products?!!!

Would you put a moisturizer on your face or body if you knew it was made with toxic ingredients? Of course not. Yet our cosmetics and personal care products are so under-regulated most of us do it unwittingly every day.

I decided to inform my readers about these toxins when I recently read that the Environmental Working Group “has found Teflon and other similar chemicals in nearly 200 personal care products, ranging from shampoo to shaving cream to sunscreen.” This is the first in a series that lists some of the most common and toxic chemicals found in your personal care products.

Per- and Polyfluoralkyl Substances (PFAs)
The Teflon family includes virtually indestructible chemicals including PFAs. Chemical PFAs are connected with increased risk of cancer, endocrine disruption, infertility and birth defects. They also bioaccumulate, meaning their concentration increases over time in the blood and organs. While some PFAs have been removed from the formulations, Teflon and its cousins are still used. In addition, new research suggests that the replacement chemicals might not be any safer. These chemicals are found in cosmetics like foundation, mascara, and sunscreen.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
This chemical is added to make the products lather or foam. That is why it commonly is found in mouthwash, toothpaste, and face and body wash.  Unfortunately, this chemical has been shown to irritate the skin, lung and eyes. Additionally, it can contribute to canker sores and disrupt the natural balance of oils. SLS is associated with acne (cystic acne) around the mouth and chin.

Coal Tar
Coal tar is on the list of the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a carcinogen.  Coal tar often does not go by that name. Rather, the same substance is called aminophenol or diaminobenzene or phenylenediamine.  These are commonly found in hair dye and shampoo.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
BHA is probably a carcinogen according to the National Toxicology Program. Animal studies associate it with some stomach cancers and with interference with thyroid levels and also with normal reproductive system development.  It is also considered unsafe in fragrance.

Triclosan and Triclocarban
The FDA finds there is no health benefit to people who use products with these substances, and they are linked to “hormonal disruption, bacterial resistance, impaired muscle function, impaired immune function and increased allergies.”  Triclosan is found in liquid products like toothpaste and triclocarban is found in bar soaps to make them antibacterial.  Both are also found in deodorant.  For a less toxic support, try tea tree oil.

These chemicals are used to prevent the growth of organisms (i.e. bacteria, mold) in cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical products.  However, they are associated with the increased risk of breast cancer. Topical application is no help as they are absorbed through the skin.

Check your personal care products for these substances. I recommend not using those products and looking for cleaner ones.

Next month I will present more of these toxins.  In the meantime, check out Environmental Working Group.







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Spring: Enhance your health with a tune-up

Spring is a good time to do a self-evaluation and to take steps to improve your health.  Here are 6 steps for that.

healthy senior

  1. Sleep: When we sleep our body heals. I think of it as recharging our batteries. Just as we see the plants blooming, so can we. What does this have to do with sleep?  The better our sleep, the more energy and better mood we have.
  2. Get out in the sun for 15 to 30 minutes per day. Ancient medical traditions are being validated by modern experience. Exposure to the sun improves our well being. The globalepidemic of low vitamin D can be attributed to our staying inside away from full spectrum light.  Low vitamin D levels have been associated with increased risk of mortal illness.
  3. Exercise: Get your juices flowing. Exercise is the medium our body uses to clean out our “plumbing” including our lymphatics as well as our blood vessels. This is especially important as our environment becomes increasingly toxic with chemicals and organisms that seem to be more virulent than in past decades.
  4. Food: Learn to eat more vegetables of many varieties. Include green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, asparagus, artichoke, avocado, cabbageveggies and fruit, beets and beet greens, bell pepper, brussels sprouts, capers, carrots, celery, celery root (a different form of celery), chard, cilantro, cucumber, daikon (white radish), dandelion, eggplant, garlic, a range of chili peppers, jicima, kale, varieties of lettuce, Jerusalem artichoke, leek, mushrooms, mustard greens, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas (English, snap), potato, sweet potato/yam, rutabaga, shallots, spinach, squash (winter, summer) tomato, turnip and waterchestnut. Add spices for more variety.
  5. Supplements: Ideally, whole food derived supplements are better in terms of providing more of what we need. I suggest a multiple vitamin and mineral, vitamin C and essential fatty acids (like fish oil). There are many more for different conditions.
  6. See your health care practitioner for support this spring.


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For Flu Prevention and Treatment

I am bringing my previous post back because it is flu season once again.

Even in Los Angeles, the evenings are relatively cooler.  ‘Tis the season for colds, coughs, sniffles and flu.  Three people in the last 10 days have mentioned to me that they have had a cough that would not go away.  They all had a fever and malaise for the first few days and recovered from those symptoms yet the cough continued. (Two had already taken the flu shot.)  What is a person to do?

Here are my recommendations:   Sneezer in his pjs

Wash your hands every time after touching door handles or shaking hands.

Caution: as tempting as all the sugary foods are this time of year, don’t fall into that trap. Rather, reduce your sugar intake.

Similarly, as tempting as it is to stay up late, get a full night’s sleep regularly.  Remember, sleep is when we heal.

Vitamin C: to bowel tolerance.  In other words, just under the amount that causes diarrhea.  This varies to each individual, so you need to test where your level is.  Also, we need even more vitamin C when we are “fighting” something.

Probiotics: At least once per day, every day.  The gastrointestinal tract is lined with lymph nodes which are there to protect us from outside infections.

Take Vitamin D daily: 1000 to 5000 iu’s dosage

Vitamin A: At least 10,000 iu’s per day.  At the first sign of illness, increase this to 100,000 iu’s for 3 days.  Then back to the usual dose.

Zinc: 25 to 50 mg per day.  Double this for 3 days at the first sign of illness.  Then back to the usual dose.

Elderberry in some form.  4 times per day as per the bottle at the beginning of a viral illness.

Nano silver as Argentyn 23 or Sovereign Silver as needed. Follow the recommendations on the bottle.

Oscillococcinum: 1/3 of a tube 3 times per week (let it dissolve under your tongue).

For those who tolerate it: Garlic.  One woman told me she never gets sick when she eats several cloves of roasted garlic every day through the winter

A high quality echinacea also supports the immune system when taken daily.

Many people find using a wellness formula (most health food stores carry this) very helpful.

These are a good start.

PS:   People who think they have a prolonged cold or cough might actually be suffering from allergies.  The high vitamin C dose can begin to alleviate this problem.

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To Eat or Not to Eat: No Question

Here are two article headlines from THE WEEK magazine that say a mouthful.  The first is “Eat produce, live longer” in the March 17, 2017 issue and the second is “Sugar, America’s favorite drug.”

The first report is taken from a study from Imperial College London.  Researchers analyzed 95 studies on diet and well-being and concluded that daily intake of 10 portions of fruit and vegetables, or 28 ounces of fresh produce is “associated with a 33 percent reduced risk of stroke, a 13 percent drop in cancer risk, and a 31 percent lower risk for premature death.”  This type of diet reduces cholesterol levels and blood pressure while improving circulatory health and strengthening the immune system.  No prescription drug is as effective as the fresh produce.

The sugar article describes how sugar came to be so popular: “Big Sugar” mounted an aggressive advertising campaign in the 1970’s and combined this with “scientific” misinformation about the benefits of sugar.

Too much refined sugar affects the liver and results in the body having difficulties managing that sugar. This ultimately leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes from “insulin resistance.”  Insulin resistance means the body produces more and more insulin to handle all the sugar but the insulin becomes less and less effective.   This requires the body to produce more and more insulin.  The problem with this is that the excess insulin is very inflammatory and associated with the increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer.

Where do we find all of this sugar?  We find it in the processed foods we purchase.  Eighty percent of supermarket foods contain it.  “The average American adult downs 22 teaspoons of the stuff a day, the average child 32.”  Sugar is an addicting drug as noted in animal studies and as experienced by those of us who want to stop eating it.

Bottom line: I cannot caution you enough about eating sugar.  Seriously curtail your intake.  You want to munch?  Eat fresh veggies.  You want sweet?  Eat some fruit.


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“An Epidemic of Contact Dermatitis”

There are a number of reports about a preservative and synthetic biocide used in thousands of personal care products that is very irritating to skin. I am summarizing the valuable information in one of them.  The name of the chemical is Methylisothiazolinone, MI or MIT for short.  Here is a list of some of the products in which it is used: baby wipes, wall paints, bandaids, dish soap, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soaps, markers, room sprays (Febreeze), carpet cleaners, paper towels, toilet paper and more.  Companies are using this to avoid parabens.  

Because of some studies suggesting it is also neurotoxic, some doctors have expressed concern about exposure in pregnant women and for the fetus.  One study found that in children with eczema almost 50% had at least one positive reaction in the patch test. The most common allergens in this group were nickel sulfate, MIT and fragrance mix. MIT is part of the fragrance mix.

One committee in Europe who recommends prevention standards noted that once sensitized, even airborn exposure could potentially cause a severe contact dermatitis on the exposed skin.

How to avoid this chemical?  Besides the name and the acronym, it is also used in fragrance as MCI.  Methylisothiazolinone Free  is a website providing information about the MIT and products free of the chemical.  It also lists other names for the MIT.

Let your legislators know that Europe and Canada have set limits on the use of these chemicals and you want the United States to do so as well.


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Fresh Air, Really?

Air fresheners are so prevalent.  We even utilize “green” ones which we assume are safe. However, as the article, Ten Questions Concerning Air Fresheners and Indoor Built Environments reveals, they are not as safe and innocuous as we might think.  The article is well-documented.  Here are the summary statements. I recommend you peruse the whole article for a fuller description.

  • Air fresheners are used throughout society.
  • Air fresheners, even ones called green and organic, can emit potentially hazardous  chemicals.
  • Fewer than 10% of air freshener ingredients are typically disclosed to the public.
  • Over 20% of the general US population report adverse health effects from air fresheners.
  • Fragrance-free indoor environments receive a majority of support.


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Eat Your Veggies!

The Week magazine, March 17, 2017 has an article in the “Health and Science” section about one of my favorite topics.  The article is entitled “Eat produce, live longer.”  Research at the Imperial College London which analyzed 95 studies on diet suggested that we are not eating enough fruit and vegetables, even by the World Health Organization Standards.  We should be eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day – and I recommend more vegetables than fruit.  The results are quite impressive.  Those who ate 28 ounces of fresh produce were associated with the following: “33% reduced risk of stroke, 13% drop in cancer risk, and 31% lower risk for premature death.”  What could be easier and still healthful?   

On a different note but related, the Los Angeles Times  January 15, 2017 has an article entitled “Just a little sugar may be too much” written by Gary Taubes.  It addresses the concern that eating too much sugar can cause a person to suffer from “metabolic syndrome” (ie increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol or triglycerides and increased fat around the middle). This syndrome plays a role in many of the chronic diseases from which we are now suffering.  These include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia as the article notes.  The problem is how much is too much of the main sugars which are cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  Is “in moderation” ok?  Or is only 5% of your diet ok?  We don’t know.  Yet it is estimated that every man, woman and child in the United States eats more than 150 pounds  of sugar per year.  What a shocking statistic!

Here are two keys to good health.  When you want something sweet, eat a piece of fresh fruit.  Secondly, eat lots of vegetables along with your protein.  Your body will thank you.

If you want to find out which fruits and vegetables and yes, which sugars work for you, make an appointment.

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Get A Jump On Flu Season

It is flu season again.  Here are recommendations to strengthenSneezer in his pjs your immune system so you don’t get the flu in the first place.  I know many people who have the flu after they get the vaccine.  I believe these methodologies, when utilized together, work better.

  1. Sleep

I put sleep first because it is the aid most people dismiss. When we sleep, we heal and regenerate our batteries. We cannot make up for lost sleep in one night. Get into the habit of treating yourself to a good night’s sleep (8 hours average) every night.

  1. Reduce your sugar intake

Eating sugar impairs the immune system for hours. Think about that. It means that your white cells become “drunk” and less able to protect you from potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. My suggestion during any time of increased vulnerability is to cut out sugar entirely.

  1. Vitamin C

We are one of four mammals who do not make their own vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the best antiviral supports available. Take vitamin C to “bowel tolerance,” meaning just under the amount that causes diarrhea. When you are well, this amount will be less, often significantly less, than when you are ill or “fighting a bug.”

Don’t think there is something wrong if you find you need as much as 5000 mg on a regular basis. That is your body’s requirement.  Increase it as needed to stay well.

  1. Vitamin A

Some years ago a study in Japan showed that high doses of vitamin A (100,000 to 400,000 IU) per day for 3 days significantly reduced the duration and severity of measles in children. Thus, at the first sign of a viral infection, take 100,000 IU of vitamin A for 2 or 3 days. (Note: This is actual vitamin A, not beta carotene.)

  1. Zinc

Zinc is also essential for the immune system and really helps with viral infections.Take approximately 75 mg (i.e.  80 is fine, too) the first day, then 50 mg the next few days, and then reduce to a maintenance level of 15 to 30 mg. If you take zinc on a long-term basis, you need to supplement with 1 to 2 mg of copper a couple of times per week to balance the zinc.

  1. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is the newest discovery for improving the immune system and so much else in the body. We are finding a majority of the population quite deficient in this essential nutrient, even those of us in sunny Southern California.

Take 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 for about 3 days at the first sign of an infection. Then reduce your intake to between 2000 and 5000 IU per day. At the end of 3 months at this level, a blood test for vitamin D (25-hydroxy vitamin D3 level is the one to request) is highly recommended, for it is possible to have too high a level. The blood test will help you to determine your proper dosage. The goal is to have a blood level between 50 and 80 ng/ml.

  1. Probiotics

Several pounds of beneficial bacteria are supposed to reside in our intestines. They are a critical part of our immune system. The intestines are lined with lymphatic tissue which is supported by the beneficial bacteria. The general name for these bacteria is “probiotics.” Most people have heard of lactobacillus acidophilus, but there are dozens of species of these different bacteria that we need, and we do not get them adequately in yogurt. Some brands of probiotics need to be refrigerated and some do not. Some are made from milk and/or soy, and others are dairy-free and gluten-free. Purchase the kind that fits you.Take the probiotics of your choice 2 to 4 times per day at the first sign of infection. Many of us need probiotics on an ongoing basis at least once per day.

  1. Frequent hand washing

Viruses can survive very well on any surface. However, I do not recommend the use of antibacterial hand wipes or soaps on a regular basis because they kill not only the viruses on your skin but also the beneficial bacteria. In addition, there is concern that the chemicals in these wipes and soaps may be more harmful than beneficial for us.

Nothing replaces regular soap and water for washing your hands. Get into the practice of washing your hands frequently and not putting your fingers in your mouth, nose, or ears. Those openings are avenues of entry for viruses and other infectious agents.

  1. Humacel

Humacel is one of the best antiviral products I have experienced. It apparently works on all viruses.  There is another version of this called Viracillin, from another company.  I am told it works as well as Humacel though I have not tried it personally.

  1. Other immune-boosting remedies

Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic that many find helpful for combating the flu. (It’s the number one over-the-counter flu medicine in France.) I recommend completely dissolving 1/3 of a tube of the pellets under your tongue 3 times per week throughout the flu season as a preventive.

ProBoost is freeze-dried, thymic protein that really boosts one’s immune system. I recommend dissolving the contents of 1 packet directly under your tongue for 3 minutes every day or every other day throughout the flu season.  If you do suffer from the flu, take a packet 3 times per day until you are better.

Echinacea Premium is a very fine echinacea from the vendor, MediHerb. Echinacea is perhaps the most commonly known botanical immune stimulant. This form is safe to take on a daily basis through the flu season to maintain a strong immune system.

Argentyn 23, also called Sovereign Silver, is a nano silver. Silver is a natural killer of infectious agents. In this brand, the silver particles are so small that you do not have to worry about your teeth turning blue if you take it too long. The company also has a spray version for nasal application as well as a gel which can be applied to your skin. I have even prescribed it for inhalation when someone had a lung or bronchial infection.

Some other excellent wellness formulas contain herbs like olive leaf extract, cat’s claw, and ashwaganda as well as other beneficial herbs.

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Guess the substance? Guess the addiction?

A patient of mine, we’ll call her Jane, described the following process.  She had many questionmark-charactersymptoms that not only aggravated her, they also scared her.  She was worried she was deteriorating very rapidly.

Here were her symptoms:  Poor energy and stamina: she did not feel refreshed after a full night’s sleep and had an afternoon slump. Her hip joints became painful and stiff over the past year to the point where she limped.  Additionally, her balance was tenuous.  She considered buying a cane to stabilize herself.  Her skin became increasingly dry and wrinkled.  Her posture required effort.  While normally a happy person, she found her mood to dip and stay low days on end.  Her heart beat irregularly.  At times it was absolutely thundering, so much that she thought others might be able to hear it.

What happened then?

cup-of-coffeeJane was the first person to arrive at work in the morning, so she made the coffee.  She would bring coffee to work and then home on Friday for the weekend.  On Monday morning, she realized that she had forgotten the coffee at home.  Panic!!  She would have run over to Starbucks but she was covering the office.  Tea just would not do!  What could she do?  Then Jane remembered that one of her bosses only drank hot water.  Jane heated up water and drank it.  Surprise!  The plain hot water was very comforting (to quote Jane: “think of a hug for your insides.”)  She was very thirsty that day and kept drinking the hot water.

Jane stopped the coffee and substituted hot water.  After 5 days her over-stimulated brain calmed, her hip pain improved by 75% and she had more energy.  After 2 weeks, she awakened refreshed and no longer had an afternoon slump.  “My energy is through the roof” for the first time in a long time.

Now she could climb stairs easily.  Her balance was back in full force.  Jane found her good posture to be effortless.  Her happy mood returned.  After 3 weeks, no more pounding heart!

Jane felt great.

Jane is very lucky.  She did not experience headaches.  She did comment though that she never would have considered having a day without coffee, yet she changed.  Her final retort? “I will never touch the stuff again.  I feel too great.”

What are you drinking or eating that you believe you cannot live without?   You also might be pleasantly surprised at how well you feel when you stop it.  If you are wondering what food it is, consider an appointment at the Lippman Center where we screen for allergies, infections, toxicities, and deficiencies.  310-289-8430

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What is Lurking Under Your House?

shutterstock_439738522One of my patients sent me a question about her home’s environment.  During earthquake retrofitting, she was informed that some dirt in front of the house had to be pushed back from the foundation. After the dirt was moved, she noticed strange odors inside her house. Her concern was this:  Was it microbes or mold? She wondered if she should keep the windows open.

I contacted Mary Cordaro, a Healthy Building and Indoor Air Consultant. She responded that my patient definitely should keep her windows closed to reduce the risk of additional complications. She indicated that besides mold, which is always naturally occurring in soil, there is also a possible serious pesticide issue present in an old crawl space. Mary continued, “if a house is old, it is likely that DDT or chlordane was applied around the inside of the foundation wall for termite prevention when the house was built. When old soil is disturbed, dust rises up into the house. Old houses have a lot of openings under the floors allowing both mold and pesticides into the room air. These old pesticides are persistent. They stick to dust in the soil as well as to house dust and surfaces inside the house.”

Imagine the dangers for young children and/or pets who live closer to the floor and have greater exposure.

If this is your situation, i.e. living in an old house where work is going to be done around the crawl space and foundation, there is remediation available. I recommend you seek a consultant before beginning the work so that you don’t endanger you or your family’s health from these toxic old chemicals.

My standard evaluation includes screening for exposure to mold or pesticides.  If this interests you, call my office for an appointment (310-289-8430).

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