I have been outraged ever since I heard of triclosan. Triclosan is an ingredient added to many anti-bacterial soaps, and a few years ago, the results of animal studies showed that it can be an endocrine disruptor, meaning it disturbs the actions of the body’s natural hormones such as oestrogen. This can cause anything from premature menstruation (currently an epidemic amongst girls in the developed world and the middle class in developing countries) to breast and cervical cancer. The thought of mothers buying the stuff for their children out of love is truly chilling, but hey, that’s capitalism. Not surprisingly, no human studies have been done on triclosan – except for, as Maria Rodale points out, the large scale long term human experiment carried out on millions of us with our own money by allowing these substances to be sold on the open market without the test of time – but eventually the US Food And Drug Administration went so far as to say:
“ FDA has not received evidence that the triclosan provides an extra benefit to health. At this time, the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.”
In other words, there are grounds to fear triclosan maybe be harmful to us but nothing to prove that it can help. In fact, simply by killing almost all the germs triclosan is pretty certain to stimulate the ones surviving to evolve resistance and become even stronger, something even the revolving-door-to-business-FDA admits. This is because of course the best way to protect your kids from germs is to feed them proper healthy food and ensure that their bodies are full of helpful bacteria that will help them build resistance to the nasty ones. Organic yoghurt and lots of dirt, in other words. But we are caught in this mode of thinking that there is a ‘solution’ to every ‘problem’ and that this consists of adding something instead of taking the trouble to live healthily. So you can still buy triclosan soap in any supermarket, and I hope you just went to check your cupboards to see if you have bought it.
Then there were the parabens. They are used as preservatives in the cosmetics industry, and are another of your endocrine disruptors. While you are searching your cupboards, have a look to see how many of your soaps and deodorants contain methylparaben, propylparaben, or butylparaben! A study was released in 2012 showing that 99 % of breast cancer samples examined showed traces of parabens in their fatty tissues. Deodorants are probably the worst agents here since we use them to stop us from sweating and clog up our pores by shoving parabens straight into our lymph glands. In response, our friends the USFDA made another of their inane statements:
“Although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much less estrogenic activity than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen. For example, a 1998 study (Routledge et al., in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology) found that the most potent paraben tested in the study, butylparaben, showed from 10,000- to 100,000-fold less activity than naturally occurring estradiol (a form of estrogen).”
This is of course arrant nonsense, and although it is really worrying that a body concerned with regulating food safety can be so ignorant about how nature works, that is not so much my problem at the moment as the fact that the underlying thinking goes unchallenged. Naturally occurring oestrogens are everywhere, we are adapted to them and evolved with them in nature. But why are we adding to them? Disease is incremental. Just like all it takes is one virus to cause HIV/AIDS, all it takes is one drop of oestrogen too much to set off the wave of uncontrolled replication of cells known as cancer. It must surely be obvious that we have enough to do dealing with naturally occurring oestrogens (which by the way we need in the right doses to function normally and reproduce) without adding to them. Nature is full of examples like that. A little water is good. Too much is a flood. A little heat is nice. Too much is global warming. How is it that the ‘scientists’ at the FDA don’t get this? Has too much agribusiness money addled their brains?
Plus, of course, the current scientific method of doing these studies one substance at a time denies that we live in an ecology. Let us add up the endocrine disrupting drops here and the drops there, the anti-bacterial soap, the organo phosphates in our vegetables, the BPA in our plastic (banned at last, you note, from baby bottles but not from products intended for adults), the paraben preserved deodorant and the rBST in the milk, and all those substances which have been ‘proved’ in double blind clinical trials to be low risk taken together might be very high risk indeed. I say ‘might’ because we have no scientific studies evaluating the combination of all those substances on human health. Oh ja nee, we do have one. We are it. Or are we going to pretend that the waves of asthmas, eczemas, cancers and immune systems disruptions that are hitting us now are completely unrelated to the bunch of chemicals we are shoving into ourselves with our own hard-earned money?.
For me the last straw has been aqueous cream. As those of you who have children with eczema know, aqueous cream is often prescribed by doctors instead of soap for eczema. So you could have knocked me over with a feather when I read Jane Griffiths to the effect that:
“..this is made from petroleum by-products and contains the detergent sodium laurel sulphate, which is detrimental to our bodies… Research has shown that it actually exacerbates skin conditions such as eczema. Regular use of aqueous cream on healthy skin reduces its thickness and dries the surface out.”
This explained to me reports that we have continuously been getting about eczema being ‘cured’ by using Khoelife soaps. I know that the Extra Strength Buchu Oil is helpful in closing open sores and so is useful for weeping eczema. But I have consistently said that the ‘cure’ lies more in simply not causing the problem in the first place. Live healthily, exercise well, don’t feed your child preservatives, remember that eczema like all immune system disruption is stress related (in other words huge fights with your spouse in front of the kids is not going to help) and do not wash your child with chemical detergents falsely called soap. But the aqueous cream angle! Because it is, you know, recommended by doctors.
We can carry on like this indefinitely. We can keep on producing new synthetic substances in labs and run mass testing on people until it becomes clear that they are dangerous, whereupon it gets withdrawn and some other synthetic chemical introduced in its place. Or, before there is a big aqueous cream scandal and another mealy mouthful from the FDA, we could just stick to what we know. Natural soap with no synthetics or chemicals, only oils and herbs which have been tested in use for thousands of years (as Demi Bown says ‘the longest clinical trial in history’ ) AND MADE WITH LOVE. This Dr Abrahams suggests prevention is better than cure. Order your soap and body butter from us and save yourself the doctor’s bills. Khoelife soap may not be miraculous. It just doesn’t cause a problem. Simple, isn’t it?
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 . Rodale, Maria Organic Manifesto: How Organic Food Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World and Keep Us Safe Rodale Press, New York, 2010, pp.36.
 . Rodale Organic Farming , pp. 29.
[ 6.] . Griffiths, Jane Jane’s Delicious Herbs: Growing and Using Herbs in South Africa , Sunbird Publishers, Johannesburg, n/d, pp. 182. Cf. also Danby SG, Al-Enezi T, Sultan A, Chittock J, Kennedy K, Cork MJ. The Effect Of Aqueous Cream BP On The Skin Barrier In Volunteers With A Previous History Of Atopic Dermatitis. British Journal of Dermatology 2011 Aug;165(2):329-34.
 . Bown, Deni Ornamental Herbs For Your Garden Harper Collins, London, 1993, pp. 121.