The key to health and longevity is understanding what effects your body on a daily basis. The food you eat, the products you use and the stresses you hold all contribute to your overall balance and health. The challenge becomes building awareness to all these elements in a way that’s routine. Then managing these things becomes as normal and effortless as brushing your teeth. You do it regularly and it helps you in the long run.
Today we focus on just one of the over 80,000 chemicals used in manufacturing.
Sounds daunting right? 80,000. We forget how many chemicals infuse everything from foods, to household items, to vehicles and the air we breathe. By focusing on just one perhaps you can make a small change.
Small steps, big long-term change.
Our chemical of choice in this article is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS. SLS is a common ingredient in soaps, body wash, shampoo, toothpaste and other products. The chemical itself acts as a detergent as well as a foaming agent. It is often made from coconut oil, but is in no way a natural product. There are safer ingredients that serve the role of surfactant (soap) in body products and cosmetics, but they do not produce the volume of suds and foam that come from SLS.
Let’s be honest. We love suds. People love a head full of suds or foam when they shampoo, or a tub full of bubbles when they take a bath. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate makes that happen. All the suds and foam does nothing to get you any cleaner, but it is fun. In the end you may give up the suds for a little more health.
So what’s the problem? Well there are several problems. One problem that all seem to agree with is that SLS is inflammatory and an irritant. In fact in medical research, when you want to study skin irritation and need inflamed skin to study, you need only to paint some pure SLS on the skin and it will quickly redden and inflame.
(Note-cheap bubble bath is about 50% SLS in case you want to try this experiment at home. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)
We see many cases of people with inflammation of their skin, scalp, gums and mucosa in their mouth where the only treatment needed is switching to soaps, shampoos and toothpastes without SLS.
The inflammation caused by Sodium Lauryl Sulfate does not appear to stop at the skin. The skin can absorb things into the body. It turns out that over years of use there can be significant absorption of SLS into the body. Autopsy studies (unpublished) show very significant levels of SLS in all tissues of the body, including bone and brain.
For more immediate information about the level of sulfates in your body now, there is a simple urine dipstick test you can do. If your urine is loaded with sulfates, then you know your body is loaded as well. This is not good. You can find these test strips at our store. (click here for our store). Just search the store for “sulfate test strips”.
What effect does SLS have on the body? Would it surprise you if I tell you that we don’t really know? Little research is present on this chemical found in such large amounts and in so many heavily used products. We find this amazing. Do a search on Pubmed for “sodium lauryl sulfate toxicity” and you have enough bedtime reading for a month. Click here for the site. (Pubmed does not let us save the search for you – otherwise we would). If you search just for SLS you will find thousands of peer-reviewed articles mostly discussing negative aspects of this chemical.
However, there are no long-term studies on human health. We hope that someone might do a study similar to the study on milk referenced in our post earlier this week. A long term study could go a long way to helping understand how exactly this chemical impacts our lives.
One problem we have identified, through electrodermal screening, is that when someone is full of chemical sulfates then much of their normal chemistry involving sulfur-containing compounds in their body do not work properly. Our “normal” sulfur chemistry is involved with detoxification and immune regulation, as well as a host of other functions. People loaded with chemical sulfates often have poor ability to deal with toxins and a depressed immune function. Also, when people are loaded with sulfates, supplements containing sulfur such as glutathione, lipoic acid, SAM-e and others may not be tolerated or effective.
One final issue with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate recently identified comes as the result of a reactant produced in the chemical synthesis of SLS. The “accidental” chemical is 1,4-dioxane, a known potent carcinogen. A study at EWG.org showed this toxic byproduct in almost 50% of the well-known products they tested.
In future posts we will talk about how to remedy the problem of a body full of chemical sulfates. For now, read labels and choose products that do not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or any other ingredients with a word beginning with “sulf….”. One brand of soap that is sulfate free and widely available is Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap. Just click the link to check it out. (Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap)
You may see products containing a close cousin to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate called Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Some say this is a less irritating and safer product, but we recommend avoiding this chemical as well.
We think you will like a life with fewer irritating products on your body each day. Just try it. As always your body will tell you directly how it feels about the changes you make. Test your urine, and if it is loaded with sulfates, make the changes needed to get the sulfates out.
Stay tuned for further posts on this topic. It’s a big one, especially with 80,000 products out there. As you read labels you will find your choices more limited for sure, but in the end your health will outweigh convenience.
Please leave a comment and let us know what you find in your own explorations.
As always – To Your Health.
Image courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / FomaA