Well people, the new stall in the Village Market at Cape Quarter rocks! Dawn and I are having so much fun interacting with people and getting a sense of what it is that our products are used for and the social context, so to speak, in which our work must function. It has been an experience and a half.
One of the things I have noticed from this experience are the numbers of people who are coming to us for eczema related problems. Now it is a fact that rates of eczema, allergies and asthma have been rising steadily in the last few decades: “Worldwide the risk of developing eczema is reported to be increasing among children and adolescents and currently affects approximately 5-20%.” http://www.allergysa.org/journals/2007/aug/Association%20between%20household%20living%20conditions%20and%20eczema%20in%20adolescents%20living%20in%20Limpopo%20Province%20South%20Africa.pdf
Of course it has been said that increasing environmental pollution has a lot to do with the steep rises in allergy-related diseases. As Maria Rodale points out in her amazing book Organic Manifesto, we are all being subjected to a great chemical experiment. Never before have humans been subjected to so many toxic substances for such a long period of time. The fact that each chemical individually has been declared ‘safe’ at low concentrations does not mean that they are safe for long term use stretching over decades, and mixed with each other. There has never been a study testing pesticides’ interaction with each other over a sustained period of time, even in low doses. The only way we are ever going to find out what happens is now, when my generation who have been exposed to these things for a lifetime begin to age and show wear and tear on our bodies. In the meantime, yes, rising rates of eczema and asthma should worry us. You want to bet they are completely unrelated? Because the stake is our children’s quality of life.
Be that as it may, there is some anecdotal evidence that switching to organic can help with severe eczema: “ a trying seven year experience of eczema on my feet was reduced to practically nil since making the effort last autumn to obtain organic fruit and vegetables a major part of my diet, and both eaten raw.” http://www.wddty.com/eczema-cured-by-cutting-out-pesticides.html To my customers I always say that preventing eczema starts with the soap. If you don’t irritate your skin in the first place then there will be no reason to cure it. Moving from fossil-fuel based soaps (another chemical experiment in progress) to organic soaps is a good way to start minimizing damage. That they are made with renewable energy is just an added bonus, you are saving the planet while getting healthier. No supermarket chain is going to offer you that kind of benefits.
The same effect occurs with your body lotion. Buchu oil works well as a serious moisturizer, and we have had requests for an unscented body butter for those who like a lighter touch. A lot of the feedback I have been getting from customers is that the Buchu Oil Extra Strength does wonders for weeping eczema – whether it is the active ingredients or simply the fact that they are no longer stressing their skin with synthetics I do not know – but this is what I am being told. So if you are a severe eczema sufferer I would recommend trying the switch to organic food and body care. You may find you save lots of money on medical bills simply by not causing the problem in the first place.