Five Toxins To Avoid For Better Health

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

One of the things that many people don't realize about health, is that it is about balance. Eating well and exercising isn't enough. Sleeping well and drinking lots of water isn't going to cut it. We are living in a world where toxins are so ubiquitous that being aware of them and trying to avoid as many as we can is one of the many things we can do to improve our health.

There are literally so many toxins out there that it would be impossible to avoid them all. But like all things, it is about balance, so lets go through five things that you can do to dramatically decrease the toxic load you are putting onto your body, and make it a little happier, and healthier.

Beauty Products & Personal Care

Hidden Toxins : Chinese Medicine Living

Beauty products including cremes and lotions that you put on your skin, hair products like shampoo, conditioner and styling things, makeup and nail polish, as well as things like toothpaste and deodorant are some of the worst offenders when it comes to toxins. The skin is the body's largest organ. It is an organ of detoxification, as well as one of the most direct pathways in which we can take toxins into the body. A lot of beauty products are smashed with toxic chemicals that are absorbed through your skin and stored in tissues and organs which can eventually lead to illness. Plus, if you can avoid them, you want to, right? Yes.

Some of the worst ingredients that are frequently found in beauty products are:

  • sodium laurel sulfate / sodium laureth sulfate - an industrial degreaser, is used to make soaps foamy
  • mineral oil - a byproduct of petroleum, creates a film on the skin that impairs its ability to release toxins
  • phthalates - plasticizers banned in Europe, linked to endocrine disruption, liver / lung / kidney damage and cancer
  • parabens - preservatives, linked to endocrine disruption, cancer and reproductive problems
  • DEA / TEA / MEA - used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for soaps, suspected carcinogens
  • formaldehyde - probable carcinogen, banned in Europe
  • oxybenzone - found in sunscreens, accumulates in fatty tissues and causes allergies, hormone disruption and cellular damage
  • talc - similar in composition to asbestos, linked to respiratory problems and ovarian cancer
  • triclosan - found in antibacterial products, deodorants and hand sanitizers, linked to endocrine disruption and cancer
  • hydroquinone - used in products for lightening the skin. rated one of the most toxic chemicals and linked to cancer and reproductive diseases

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Chinese Herbal Medicine Cabinet - Crate : Chinese Medicine Living900 Needles Documentary : Chinese Medicine LivingAcupuncturist. Mug : Chinese Medicine Living


Clean Water for Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Because water is vital to life and essential to health, drinking the cleanest water with the least amount of chemicals is paramount. If you live in a city, a number of chemicals are intentionally added by city water departments including, in many cases, chlorine and fluoride. Chemicals are also added to prevent water pipes from rusting and to keep water moving through the system.

Fluoride is a controversial chemical, and many countries deliberately put fluoride into public drinking water stating that it has health benefits for strong teeth, especially in children. Although tests were initially carried out with calcium fluoride, it is in fact sodium fluoride and fluorosilicic acid that are put into the public water supply. Sodium fluoride as well as fluorosilicic acid are toxic by-products of the aluminum and fertilizer industries. They are often highly contaminated with lead and arsenic and are difficult and expensive to dispose of. Many cities were persuaded to put them into the water supply citing that they were for tooth decay prevention. Until this time the primary use for sodium fluoride was in rat poison. Food for thought.

Without going into a potentially huge discussion about water filtration, which type is best and the pros and cons of each, I will keep it simple by saying that water is something the body needs to survive. We can live for far longer without food that we can without water, so see drinking and cooking with clean water as an investment in your health and do your best to have access to as clean a water source as possible. There is a website, called find a - - that kindly lists springs across the United States and Canada where you may find natural and clean water. If you are elsewhere, there may be similar websites to help you find clean water close to home.

Laundry Detergent

Natural Laundry Soap : Chinese Medicine Living

Laundry detergent might not be something you think as containing toxins, but the commercial stuff is full of ingredients that you don't want to have next to your skin. I have been making my own laundry detergent for years, and I can make it smell the way I like by adding essential oils, or changing the kinds of natural, organic soaps that I add to it.

The average family washes 80 pounds of laundry a week! Not only are you coming into contact with the toxic chemicals that may be in your laundry detergent, but they are being washed right into our waterways, streams, rivers and oceans affecting animals and the environment. Here is a list of the four worst offenders, but if you would like to read a more in depth discussion on toxins that may be hiding in your laundry detergent, see this article on Toxins in Laundry Detergent on

  • Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • 1,4 - Dioxane
  • NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)
  • Phosphates

I have, as I said, been making my own laundry detergent for years and have, after multiple requests, put it in the Chinese Medicine Living store for sale - Natural Laundry Soap. It is natural and chemical free, and comes in glass jars, as well as burlap bags so that shipping isn't as expensive. Because you only use a spoonful for each load, it goes much farther than the usual store bought stuff, and, well, it helps me sleep better at night knowing that I am perhaps absorbing less toxins through my skin than I might be otherwise. :)

Cleaning Products

Natural Cleaning : Chinese Medicine Living

Vinegar, alcohol, lemon and baking soda are natures cleansers. I am always amazed at how many cleaning products there are at the grocery store when these simple and inexpensive things do just as good a job and keep toxins out of your home and your life.

Unless you are dealing with some serious dirt of the chemical kind that needs nuclear type cleansing, then things like lemon and vinegar, alcohol and baking soda work wonders around the house. Recipes abound on sites like pinterest for how to make your own natural cleansers for your home as well as natural beauty alternatives to the harsh store-bought ones. Cutting out harsh cleansers from your life is an excellent way to remove a whole host of toxins from your home, which will keep you and your family healthier in the long run.


Clean Food : Chinese Medicine Living

I think it is a new generation that has come to, unfortunately, associate food with toxins. In my parents' generation I don't think this was ever the case, and certainly not in the generation before that and beyond. But it is true that our food is now smashed with unpronounceable ingredients and other unholy additives that were more likely created in a laboratory than they were grown in the ground or on a tree. The issue if further complicated by the fact that there is an ongoing debate as to whether the people consuming these foods should have the right to know what is IN them, natural or unnatural. Although this seems insane, most consumers, of course, would like this right. It is only large corporations, that usually create chemicals, and not food, that are pumping millions of dollars into campaigns to stop the labelling of GMO's (genetically modified organisms), and unfortunately, at least so far, many of them are winning. I am hoping, with things like the internet which creates a new transparency, that these companies will no longer be able to lord over the population with their agendas and that as people discover their intentions that they will no longer be able to continue controlling our food supply.

That said, there are still many people (evidenced by my trips to the grocery store) that don't seem to understand that food is a major factor in keeping us heathy and impervious to disease. My stance on food is simple. Try to stay away from anything in a can or a box. Eat fresh, clean foods that are as close from the way they came out of the ground or off a bush or tree as possible and with as little processing as chemicals are often used in this process. Eat organic if you can afford to do so. The way I think about food is that it is the preventative medicine that I take every day so that I can keep my body healthy and avoid getting sick.

When people think of toxins, I think it is often of chemical plants, oil spills or biohazardous waste. In reality, it is the combination of all the toxins that we come into contact with on a daily basis. Toxins in the air, our skin, the food we eat, the water we drink and the people we surround ourselves with (emotional toxins are just as unhealthy!!) all have an impact on overall health. The first step is to become aware of it so we can be a little more mindful of the choices we are making. Thus, we can be healthier, and as a result, happier human beings which is what we all want in the long run. :)

Toxins Stages : Chinese Medicine Living

The Acupuncture Kit : Chinese Medicine LivingSilver Elephant Earrings : Chinese Medicine LivingNatural Laundry Soap : Chinese Medicine Living

Five toxins to avoid for better health

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