One Easy Way to Start Healing Ourselves and the Earth

Photo by Greg & Lois Nunes on Unsplash

1st They Took Our Hormones, Now They Take Our Lives

We may be breathing but are we living? From my observation in the clinic, many individuals are tired, depressed, and suffering from hormonal diseases. Before blaming your genes it is worth recalling the words of Francis Collins, geneticist, and leader of the Human Genome Project:

Environmental Substances

What is in our environment that could be making us sick?

Testing For Safety

There are three factors to consider when looking at the safety of man-made chemicals.

  1. The dose does not make the poison. It has long been accepted that a compound causes harm only once it reaches a certain level. However, this is not the case with most chemicals, especially those that affect hormones (also known as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals or EDCs). Indeed, there is increasing evidence that “some chemicals are often most toxic at the lowest levels”. Regulations, however, still assume that harmful effects occur at a certain level and then increase with the dose.
  2. Chemicals are tested individually. Humans are exposed to a sea of chemicals. These chemicals can have additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects; effects that are not studied. According to a 2010 review, the “ever-increasing quantity and variety of chemical compounds” means focusing on the toxicity of individual chemicals is insufficient.

Instagram Pics, Hormones, and Fertility

Chemicals are everywhere. We cannot control “everywhere” but we can control personal care products. We want the perfect Instagram shot and we follow the feed: if I just bought “X” my skin would look perfect and I would be happy.

  • male and female infertility
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • irregular menstrual cycles
  • endometriosis
  • fibroids
  • thyroid dysfunction
  • hormonal cancers in women
  • prostate cancer
  • lower IQ
  • developmental problems in children
  • preterm birth
  • adverse birth outcomes

A Spiral of Fat and Sick

Not only do EDCs disrupt our hormonal health, but they also disrupt our metabolic health. These chemicals are called Obesogens: substances that promote obesity. Environmental chemicals alter the way the body balances sugars and fats. This alteration can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and fatty liver.

Diagram by Philippa Darbre licensed through Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

If Not for Us, Then for Earth

EDCs affect Earth and the plants and animals on it.

Future generations and species will remember us by our plastic debris.

Animal Health

EDCs have been found in waterways affecting fish, algae, and worms. Adverse effects that have been reported in wildlife range from reduced fertility to modified immune systems and neurological abnormalities. Most of these problems seem to be due to chemicals that are now banned. However, the authors of this study note that this does not mean that the newer chemicals are not causing harm.

Fire & Plastiglomerate

Personal care products generally come in single-use plastic bottles. Yes, they can be recycled. However, single-use plastic continues to be a major marine polluter and can persist for thousands of years. Even recycled plastics can end up in the sea. A 2020 study that looked at the flow of recycled plastic from Europe found that for every individual 3.2 kg of polyethylene, a common type of plastic, ended up in the ocean every year. These plastics pose a huge danger to marine life and seabirds.

Plastiglomerate displayed at Museon in The Hague. Photo by Aaikevanoord, licensed through Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Maybe the Hippies Had a Point

Not only are most personal care products harming our hormones, our health, and the planet, but the sale of these degrades our humanity.

Hippocrates instructed that to treat disease, both the person and the place need to be considered. We cannot ignore the environment that our bodies are in, including what we soak our skin in.

Moisturiser is Optional

We can make a start by feeling good about us — without the makeup. Start with a phthalate- and paraben-free soap bar, gain extra time in the morning without the layering makeup, slowly wean off the lotions to give your skin time to do what it is good at, moisturising itself.

Industry

Is the risk of poor health for us, our children, and the world, worth the Instagram pic? Concerningly, in our quest for immediate gratification, our assessment of risk may be woefully inaccurate; a human trait often exploited by those selling us stuff.

Photo by the author, Cindy de Villiers of a sign in Nelson, New Zealand

Practicing Functional MD developing a diagnostic and treatment online platform, incorporating wearables and AI. Always questioning.

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