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Feminine Hygiene – A Chemical Cocktail

In the same way that we are what we eat, we are also what we put on our skin. Many women are becoming increasingly aware that petrochemicals in many toiletries can negatively affect our health. Petrochemicals are chemical products made from petrol or more correctly oil. They are found in all non-organic or everyday products such as make-up, face creams, deodorants and are even found in sanitary napkins and tampons.

Petrochemicals act just like oestrogen

Over recent years scientists have found that many compounds in the environment mimic or interfere with oestrogen. These compounds are used in materials like detergents, pesticides and plastics. Now scientists are also realising that aluminium, found in deodorant, and the heavy metal cadmium, found in cigarettes, can also bind to the body's oestrogen-receptors and influence their action. These chemicals mimic the body's natural hormone oestrogen as they are a similar shape and can affect oestrogen receptors in the body just like natural oestrogen. As oestrogen is known to be involved in the development and progression of human breast cancer, any components of the environment that have oestrogenic activity and can enter the human breast can theoretically influence a woman's risk of breast cancer. As many female related cancers, including ovarian and uterine, are related to oestrogen, it is imperative that we reduced our exposure to unnecessary environmental oestrogens such as found in foods, plastics, toiletries and feminine hygiene products.

Upper half – breast health

Evidence is mounting that aluminium, which often makes up quarter of the volume of some antiperspirants, can absorb through the skin and mimic oestrogen. As female cancers are oestrogen dependant, it is wise to err on the side of caution and avoid aluminium deodorants. Aluminium in antiperspirants is a major source of exposure to aluminium in humans. Antiperspirants are sprayed into armpits, inadvertently concentrating exposure near to the breast. In addition, they are often applied after shaving, when the skin is likely to be damaged and less able to keep the aluminium out. The human body uses the armpits to purge toxins in the form of perspiration. Antiperspirant, as the name clearly indicates, prevents you from perspiring, thereby inhibiting the body from purging toxins from the armpits. These toxins do not magically disappear. Instead the body deposits them in the lymph nodes below the arms since it cannot sweat them out. This is a recipe for disaster. As nearly all breast cancer tumours occur in the upper outside quadrant of the breast area, where lymph nodes are located, it is wise to choose a deodorant that does not pose any risk.

The natural options

Before you buy your next deodorant check the label to see if it contains aluminium. A good alternative is a crystal deodorant stone. These stones are 3 times more effective than commercial deodorants, they are not sticky or greasy and do not stain clothing. The crystal deodorant stone does not contain any aluminium or other harsh chemicals, perfumes, oils, emulsifiers, alcohol or propellants and are hypoallergenic. Other natural deodorant ranges include Jasons, Tom's of Maine, Lavera, Avalon, Dr. Hauschka, Burts Bees, PitRok and Crystal Spring.

Lower half - Reproductive health

Just about every woman in the world will have a vaginal infection commonly known as thrush at least once in her life. A minor infection can cause symptoms such as an itching, burning or a heavier than normal vaginal discharge. Most women have a slight vaginal discharge on and off for most of their adult lives, but a heavy discharge or one that looks or smells different than usual, may mean infection and needs to be investigated.

Vaginal infections are often attributed to the fungus candida albicans, however they can also be caused by bacterial overgrowth or viral infection. Changes in the vagina's chemical balance can occur when you are stressed, pregnant or taking birth control pills or antibiotics. This can cause the bacterial population to get out of control and irritate the sensitive genital area tissues, allowing for opportunistic infections such as candida. Viral infections are sexually transmitted. Taking simple steps such as wearing cotton underwear and avoiding chemical contact will promote overall vaginal health.

Many women are already conscious of the need to restrict their contact with synthetic materials and unnecessary chemicals and additives. What they may not realise is that sanitary pads contain a blend of chemicals such as chlorine-bleached pulp and the petrochemicals, polypropylene and polyacrylates. These chemicals not only have an oestrogen like activity but also upset the balance of vaginal bacteria and can contribute to vaginal infections.

The natural options

It is important from a nutritional perspective to stimulate the immune system, regulate blood sugar (as sugar feeds bad bacteria) and eliminate the bacteria, fungal or viral infection. Apple cider vinegar douches are a time tested remedy to alleviate symptoms of thrush. Acidophilus is the bacteria specific for vaginal infections and can be applied locally and internally. There are also natural pads and tampons available. Natracare feminine hygiene products are chemical and additive free, biodegradable and contain only organic and natural ingredients sourced from sound ecologically managed producers. So you are not only doing yourself a favour, but the planet as well!

Carina is available to lecture for your group or institution on this subject.

Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu. is a practitioner of 11 years, complementary medicine lecturer of 4 years and mother of six in Galway, Ireland who practices what she teaches.

For an appointment call Carina directly on 083 34 66 333.

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