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The problem with perfumes: Watch out for toxins

By Dr. Michael Veselak, D.C.

perfume-bottlesWhen smelling nicely scented products, they can trigger happy memories or even change our mood. In fact, some of the chemicals used in perfumes have been found to have a mild narcotic effect. Sadly, however, they can also trigger serious physical illnesses and reactions in people who have developed a chemical sensitivity, and the numbers of such people are growing. Artificial scents are toxic to everyone — However some folks have lost their resilience to them.

Chemicals derived from petroleum are present in Perfumes which are associated with many health problems including hormone disruptions, allergies, cancer, birth defects, nervous-system disorders, and can tend to build up in our tissue, and most have not been tested for safety at all.  For instance, some are linked to sperm damage and are found concentrated in human fat tissue and in breast milk.  Even though about 3,000 chemicals would fall under this category, they are only required to be labeled as “Fragrance” by manufactures.

A chemical linked to cancers, hormone disruption, and neurological disorders called phthalates in present in 75% of products found in the “fragrance” list.  Although many countries have banned phthalates and the United States has banned them in toys, they continue to be used in perfumes, including those marketed to children.

Even if you run an air purifirer, drink filtered water, use non-toxic products, and buy organic food, there is no way to completely escape the perfume scents.  They’re in your neighbor’s dryer sheets venting next door, other people wear fragrances or use them in their homes, they’re in air fresheners and insecticides in public buildings, in soaps in public restrooms, and so on. If you participate in public life, you are exposed to synthetic scents. As for your own product use, if you see “fragrance” on the label, then you know it contains an indeterminate amount of these chemicals.

How to reduce the risk of developing a chemical sensitivity to perfumes

Some people have lost their tolerance to chemicals and exposure to perfumes, dryer sheets, scented detergents and so on can trigger any number of symptoms, including migraines, incontinence, fatigue, inflammation, or a worsening of an autoimmune condition. For instance, someone with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease, who is sensitive to chemicals may lose muscle control of her legs when exposed to perfume.

You can reduce your risk of developing a sensitivity to perfumes and other synthetic chemicals by doing the following things:

  • Reduce the toxic burden on your body. This means not using products in your home or on your body that contain synthetic chemicals. Also, avoid foods that have artificial colorings and additives, which also have been linked to numerous health disorders.
  • Make sure your glutathione status is good. Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant that defends your cells against toxic chemicals. By reducing your toxic burden you protect your glutathione stores. You can also take supplements to boost glutathione production. Ask my office for details.
  • Remove foods to which you are sensitive. If you regularly eat a food to which you have an immune sensitivity, such as gluten, it causes your immune system to be hyperactive and more prone to developing sensitivities to other things, such as chemicals. Do a food immune reaction panel from Cyrex Labs or an elimination/provocation diet to find out which foods trigger inflammation in you.

By switching to natural oils and essential oils you don’t have to give up your good smelling perfume . Some essential oils not only smell good but they are therapeutic as well. However, those with a sensitivity to perfumes may not be able to tolerate natural scents.

Ask my office for more advice on preventing or managing chemical sensitivities.

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