Archive for the ‘Environmental Medicine’ Category

Treating Eczema

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

By, clevercupcakes @ flickr

As if people suffering from Eczema really want more to deal with, a study recently published in the British Journal of Dermatology claims that using emollient skin lotions that contain Sodium Laurel Sulfates (SLS) on eczematous skin might exacerbate the problem.  What’s more, people who have itchy/eczematous skin apply these lotions liberally as a means to soothe the skin & it’s one of the commonly prescribed forms of treatment regarding eczema.

“Our study has found that rubbing aqueous cream containing SLS into the skin thins this protective barrier, making the skin more susceptible to irritation by chemicals.

“So to use this cream on eczematous skin, which is already thin and vulnerable to irritation, is likely to make the condition even worse.”

Postgraduate researcher Manda Tsang worked on the project as part of her PhD CASE studentship funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council with York Pharma Plc.

Tsang said: “Eczema affects around 30 per cent of the population, an increase from around five per cent a generation ago.

“This is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as central heating and carpets that can encourage dust mites, and using more creams and cosmetics that can thin the skin if used too frequently (University of Bath, 2010).

Being a victim of skin issues (basically all my life), I suffered from eczema that got progressively worse in my early twenties and lasted up until this past year.  Thankfully, I have been lucky enough to manage it on my own through chinese medicine, chinese herbs, acupuncture, diet and lifestyle… but it took years of me trying product after product and consulting doctor after doctor  to realize that nobody actually did know how to help me.

Eczema is right up there with asthma and allergies; these three disorders actually make up what we refer to as the Atopic Triad (they are commonly found in conjunction with one another and are very obscure disorders that are affecting more and more people).  Steroid creams have their place in treatment and can be very helpful, however, research shows these are only safe to use for two weeks at a time, not a lifetime.  We can identify the things that exacerbate these conditions (sometimes) & work to avoid them; but sometimes it is so many different things causing the eczema that sifting through them can be exhausting, frustrating and time-consuming.  Not to mention the fact that it could be the very thing that we think is helping, which is making it worse… much worse.  Case in point, sodium laurel sulfate’s (SLS); commonly found in all sorts of dermatologic & cosmetic products.  It has been shown to cause a short list of health issues including organ system toxicity, skin irritation, endocrine disruption and has been linked to cancer.  If you don’t believe me, check out the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic’s database:  Skin Deep.

For me, eczema was a huge struggle, I spent years of sleepless nights, had the pleasure of feeling ‘crazy’ itchy, a sensation that still haunts me to this day, I had numerous patches of eczema pretty much covering all of my limbs and the frustration of not finding help everywhere I looked.  I found relief in steroid creams and the only information I could get from my allergist was a blood test that told us my IgE (that’s the allergy Immunoglobulin that tells you there is an allergic reaction happening in the body) levels were through the roof, but no insight as to what to do about it.  So, I sought care under an acupuncturist and herbalist, changed my diet (cut out grains and most sugars), moved out of the house I was living in and stopped using ANY and all lotions on my skin.  Knock on wood, here I am 8 years later (finally) without a spot of eczema and able to sleep.  Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox, but if there is something positive to take away from all of this, I now have a great appreciation for what I’ve learned through that process and I currently have a couple of cases in clinic who have skin disorders and I’m really enjoying the chance to work with them.  We learn the best from our own life experiences and I only hope I can use mine to help others in need.

Till next time,

~be well~



University of Bath (2010, November 13). Creams used to treat eczema could make it worse, study      suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 14, 2010, from


Toxic babies?!

February 8, 2010 Leave a comment

 I just got this email from the President of the Environmental Working Group and wanted to share.  In this day and age, it is almost impossible to avoid environmental toxins; it’s in the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the water we drink & the house we live in to name a few… you’d pretty much have to live in a bubble to be sure you weren’t being affected by anything; & then you’d probably be worried about plastic off-gassing, BPA and CO2 emissions anyway!  The real, unfortunate thing these days however, is that we can’t even catch a break from the moment we are conceived!  Even in what seems like a very sterile, nourishing & protected environment like the placenta, free from (what we assume) outside contact; we are directly influenced by whatever the mother is exposed to, be it any of the afore-mentioned toxins.   With this in mind, get informed, be smart about your health and the environment you live in.  

Here are a few quick tips: 

By, Daniel Hurst Photography on

1.  Find healthy, local and/or organic foods 

  • Sometimes local is just as important as organic!
  • Learn to sustain yourself; grow a garden (see Tip #4 below), get some chickens & goats, & if you really want to get primal, hunt for your own meat!

2.  Think about getting an air filter/sanitizer *especially if you have asthma &/or allergies*  

  • I like to use Dr. Mercola’s Website for a lot of these, mostly because I know he’s done his research on marketing only the best products and it gets a little overwhelming when searching for these things on your own, there are so many products out there all claiming the same thing and it’s nice to know you are getting a good product for your money!  Dr.

3.  Get a water purifier for both your tap (drinking) & shower *your skin is the largest organ on your body and we absorb almost everything through our skin, without the added benefit of detoxing it through out Livers before it’s absorbed straight into our blood*; and if you really want to get into it, look into getting a water ionizer, to both filter and alkalize your water, giving you the benefit of a more hydrating water molecule as well as creating a more alkaline environment inside your body

4.  If you have a garden, check your soil for heavy metals and previous pesticide/herbicide use.  

  • Use oats to check for herbicide/pesiticides:  Clean Air Gardening Blog 
  • To test your soil, call your local Health Department and send in a sample.  You should be able to look up areas of concern through the local Health Department as well.  Some areas are more prone to lead or other heavy metal accumulations than others and this is all tracked and recorded.  
  • Or you can order soil tests as well to get a whole plethora of information about your soil:  Dr. Good

The Environmental Working Group is a great resource as well as Dr. Mercola’s website.   EWG has great info about farming, children, chemicals, water, food and even cosmetics and skin products; they have been very active these days in changing the way our government controls these things in our daily lives!  So finally onto my initial purpose for writing up this blog post… please read below to see their most recent agenda:  

Dear Erin,
On Thursday, I testified in a U.S. Senate hearing, and I want to tell you what I told the Senators.  Babies are coming into this world pre-polluted with toxic chemicals.  When EWG tested the umbilical cord blood of 10 Americans, we found nearly 300 chemicals, including BPA, perchlorate, fire retardants, lead, mercury, and PCBs.  The best way to stop this pre-pollution is to enact the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act, which would require that chemicals be proven safe for children before they can be sold.  Click here to sign our petition.

By, Paul D'Andrea

Now is the time for Congress to introduce the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act.  The chemicals are in us. The risk of disease and illness is serious.  The chemicals we found are increasingly linked to serious long-term health effects, from childhood cancer and autism to ADHD, learning deficits, infertility, and heart disease. We need a system for assessing chemicals so our children get the healthy start they deserve. The longer Congress waits, the more babies are exposed.  

Sign EWG Action Fund’s petition to Congress
Join the 1000’s of other Americans who are telling Congress it’s time for a real federal toxics law that will make chemicals in consumer products safe for kids.
Click here to add your name to our petition. Congress needs to hear from you right now. We’ve waited long enough.
Thank you for speaking up for a new national chemical policy that places human health front and center — right where it should be.

Ken Cook, President
Environmental Working Group
and EWG Action Fund

Don’t just take my word for it, be informed about these things, they affect your health and well-being as well as those you love and lets face it, without these essential things, we miss out on living the life we dream of!  Our health is the basic building block of our lives! 

~be well~  

ErinSources:  Cook, Ken. “Thursday.”  Email to the author. 6 Feb 2010;

Environmental Working Group

December 3, 2009 1 comment

By, amosik_'s

One of my most prized sources of information about all sorts of things regarding healthy and green-living… health & toxins, home, farming, natural resources, energy choices, health tips, skin care, child safety…  the list goes on. 

The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to using the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

The Environmental Working Group is an amazing resource with great health information using valid research to back up their claims.  They work hard to make sure you have all the information you need about the products you are using everyday.  If you haven’t already check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Website, it’s a database of most skin care products, their safety, ingredients & possible toxicity… it’s pretty eye-opening!   (You can also check out my blog post on “Living Organically“).   In addition they have a Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce

They also have an Enviroblog, which I have listed under ‘Blogs and Websites I love’ to the right.  Check it out!  If you are like me, you like to be “in the know” about products and how they affect us and right now the EWG is looking for donations of any amount (as low as $5) to keep up the good work! 


I am a big fan of the organization and in the midst of the holiday season, I urge you to make informed decisions about the gifts you give and check out their sites! 

~Happy Holidays~


Source:  Environmental Working Group, Dec. 2nd 2009

Muscular Dystrophy, Obama’s Health Care, Emu Oil & Toxic Beds…

August 22, 2009 4 comments
by, Anushruti RK

by, Anushruti RK


 If I actually wrote in my blog as much as I think about topics, I’d probably be posting every day if not more than that!  Be that as it may, I just don’t have that much time in my day and find myself wondering where the day went not having accomplished half the things that are on “my list of things to do”.  It seems also, that by the time I actually have time to sit down and actually put these thoughts on paper, or in this case, on the computer, my ideas seem to have flittered away and the once ingenous, scholarly & well worded blog  posts I came up with in the shower are no longer anywhere within my grasp… but lucky for me, that’s why somebody invented post-its!  Now, as if my “to do lists” weren’t piling up here and there, I have that many more little notes left for myself around the house, in the car, & at the bottom of my backpack with tidbits of information that I will at some point put into more organized thoughts. 

Acupuncture & Muscular Dystrophy

There has obviously been a lot on my mind lately, and first on my list of things to share is Muscular Dystrophy.  If you don’t know about this disease it is a devastating Autoimmune disease that attacks the muscles and causes degeneration (the breakdown) of the Skeletal Muscle, and eventually the Smooth Muscle.  There are a couple of reasons I am choosing to bring this up.  One; I recently had an experience with a woman who has Myotonic Dystrophy; a type of Muscular Dystrophy in which the degeneration starts from the finger-tips and toes and eventually makes its way toward the body degenerating everything in its path eventually taking over the smooth muscle of the heart.  It can be treated only by pain management and physical therapy to slow the process, but is otherwise inescapable.  With weekly visits to her Acupuncturist she can decrease her intake of pain meds from 24 IB Profen a day to just 4.  If that’s not proof in the making, then I don’t know what is!  Just imagine how much liver & kidney damage she is saving herself from by just spending 1 hour a week with an Acupuncturist!  Not to mention keeping herself pain free enough to be able to do activity and keep her muscle tone from degenerating too quickly.  Pretty amazing stuff if I do say so myself!  And two; because that day as I was leaving school there on the street, was a group of Portlands’ best Firefighters holding up signs to Fight Muscular Dystrophy.  I considered that a pretty significant sign, that the message was to be spread.

Thoughts on Obama’s Health Care 

Since we’re on the topic of Health, and since my blog is aimed at health and wellness, the second of my thoughts to share are some real facts about Obama’s new health care plan.  Since this has been a topic of hot debate lately, I figured it only fair to share this article and website since I’ve been reading some pretty crazy things from our favorite hockey mom among others.  This site is great for all things politics, its a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to “reduce the level of deception and confusion in US politics” by monitoring the factual accuracy of what is read, seen and heard.  Check out this article:

Seven Falsehoods About Health Care


On to my next thought; Emu Oil!

  I am not normally one to quickly endorse a product unless I have used it and personally feel that it is useful, healthy and a legit product.  If you’ve read some of my earlier blog posts you would know that I struggle with chronic eczema of the worst kind!  I’ve literally tried everything… maybe not everything, but it sure feels like it.  Anyway, I was at a local Arts Festival in Stanley, Idaho earlier this summer and came across this booth that had all organic skin products.  The reason I stopped was because they had this wonderful bug repellent, all natural and non-toxic that actually smelled good.  As I was walking away I noticed a small sign that said “treats Eczema” and since I’ll try anything (almost) that claims to help with eczema I started asking.  Turns out this Emu Oil is generally awesome!  Aborigines used to use it on the returning warriors after their battles to ease their muscle aches.  It can be used for Arthritis, Diaper rash, Eczema, Psoriasis, Ear Aches, Sports Injuries, Shingles, Diabetes & the list goes on.   Emu Oil is an excellent transdermal carrier, which basically means it is one of the best oils for crossing the skin barrier and “delivering” the essential fats to the skin, muscles and the body.  Over time I have tried numerous different natural oils on my skin, and I can tell you none have ever soaked in quite like it and actually moistened my skin.  On top of it all, it actually did get rid of a spot of stubborn ezcema on my knee; which I can safely say is a first.  I highly recommend it and here is a great website, the company is out of Boise, Idaho and they are clearly very passionate about creating a very quality product; they have great information on their website and a great Organic product.


Emulate Natural Care


And last but not least; Toxic Beds…

 This creates a perfect segue into my last thought to share; toxic beds!  I have recently been doing a little experiment on myself and my skin (my eczema).  The idea came about after a good friend decided to stop sleeping in what she thought to be her toxic bed and started feeling so much better after getting rid of it.  So… I have been avoiding my bed for the past couple of weeks, and three times have found that going back to the bed actually caused a pretty instant reaction.  Though, unfortunately it was consistent for a couple of weeks, I am back at square one, having a reaction even without the bed, I am still quite convinced that beds are toxic and I’m not sure that I’ll ever feel the same about sleeping in one.  There is no way that a bed able to withstand a blow torch of ungodly hot temperatures without even a spark, is even anywhere in the ballpark of being considered “non-toxic”.  It doesn’t stop with the flame retardent either, there is also Boric Acid (Roach Killer), Antimony (resembles Arsenic) and DBDPO (known to cause cancer) in the mattress.  The more I read about it, the more I’m appalled that it is actually in the laws and regulations for mattress companies to have this stuff in their mattresses.  This article has a bunch of crazy facts regarding mattress’ and their chemical contaminants & the  regulations that are in place currently.  It’s mind blowing, and I highly recommend considering your next mattress purchase to be something non-toxic… it could save your life, literally.  Just think how many hours you spend in your bed; resting and recovering, and how many of us suffer from awful sleep, chronic fatigue and general un-ease. 

People For Clean


 Hopefully this information will tide you over; there is a little something for everyone in here.  Usually I try to keep my posts pretty simple and short so you don’t get too bored, but hopefully this lengthy post doesn’t deter you from reading the whole piece & actually making it to the end.  There is some pretty valuable information in here that I hope you continue to research and continue to educate yourself about your health! 

Be well!


Sources: Aug, 21st 2009; Aug 14th, 2009;, Aug 21st, 2009;, Aug 21st, 2009

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