29 Aug EDCs: Hormone Wreckers You Need to Avoid!
Endocrine disrupting chemicals can be either natural or synthetic and as their name suggests, they ‘disrupt’ and alter functions as well as behaviours regulated by our hormonal system (such as reproduction, growth, appetite and sleep).
Here’s one example: the essential oil of clary sage is oestrogen-like due to its content of sclareol – a chemical compound that is structurally similar to oestrogen, the female sex hormone. Once absorbed by our body, sclareol mimics oestrogen, and can interfere with the hormone’s normal function. This is why the essential oil of clary sage, and indeed all plant extracts of clary sage, are recommended in the case of symptoms of pre-menopause. However, one has to compensate for the decreased action of oestrogen and so conversely, this explains why clary sage is generally not recommended in case of highly hormonal diseases such as breast cancer or ovarian disorders, as it would be dangerous to stimulate the body with ‘oestrogen-like’ formulas.
EDCs & Cosmetic Products
Synthetic EDCs are generally found in cosmetics, however some products that contain low-doses of endocrine disruptors are not perceived as dangerous. However, using them on a daily basis, over a long period of time, even in minute doses, can be…
For instance, phenoxyethanol is a common preservative used in cosmetic formulas for decades. It is also an effective bactericide and has been used to replace parabens, especially in natural products. So far, nothing dramatic! However even in small doses, phenoxyethanol is toxic to the body and the cause of allergies and eczema. It is for this particular reason that current cosmetic regulations limit its concentration to 1%. It is perfectly legal to find this ingredient in all kinds of cosmetic products, including baby wipes, a product that is intended to come into direct contact with the delicate skin of newborn babies. Although this ingredient is not recommended in baby products, it is still dosed at less than 1%!
The more you begin to analyse cosmetic formulas and their active ingredients, the more you are likely to encounter members of the endocrine disrupting chemical family. They are everywhere! Endocrine disruptors, varied and numerous, can be found in several everyday cosmetic products, including day and night creams, sun screens, toothpastes, nail varnishes, and in almost all products that contain fragrances.
So what to do – prohibit all cosmetics?
The cosmetic industry tells us that there is no effective alternative to EDCs, and that such danger is only theoretical. The toxicity of endocrine disruptors can be understood when analysing each ingredient individually (for example phenoxyethanol). Nevertheless the toxicity of a cocktail of endocrine disruptors, such as those we face in everyday life, is still poorly defined. And because this is such a vast field, it becomes increasingly difficult to precisely establish the modes of action of these substances synergistically as well as their possible links to cancer or other diseases.
Identify your Enemy!
Be sure to check out the list of chemicals to avoid when buying your everyday cosmetic products, particularly deodorants, intimate cleansers and shampoos, which come into direct contact with skin.
Here is a list of some of the most common EDCs you should avoid!
- Benzophenone and oxybenzone (UV filters found in many sunscreens and anti-aging products)
- Cyclopentasiloxane (Emollient in shampoos)
- Diethyl phthalate (Plasticiser)
- Methyl-, propyl, buthyl-, ethyl-, isopropyl-, and benzylparaben (Preservative)
- Phenoxyethanol (Preservative and co-solvent)
- Triclosan (Preservative, especially in toothpastes)
- EDTA (Preservative, easily identifiable)
- Perfume: The word perfume not followed by an asterisk in a non-organic cosmetic product is most likely a synthetic fragrance with the presence of phthalates.
Do it Yourself!
You can also try to create your own cosmetics. Here is one skin-care oil recipe is for damaged, irritated or sensitive skin and should be applied twice a day. The essential oils play an active role in healing and soothing the skin. However, due to some of the essential oils, it should be avoided by pregnant or nursing women, children under the age of 3 and should not be applied 5 hours before radiotherapy.
For a 50ml bottle, pour:
- 3 tablespoons of organic daisy (Bellis perennis) macerated oil
- 4 teaspoons of organic calendula macerated oil
- 12 drops of spike lavender (Lavandula spica) essential oil
- 8 drops of immortelle (Helichrysum italicum) essential oil
Be sure to keep the mixture away from light and heat!