health, chlorinated water, shower filter, antiperspirants

In Pursuit of Wellness: What You Put Onto Your Body

In Pursuit of Wellness: What You Put Onto Your Body

Rosalie owned a screen-printing business for many years. The process of creating and transferring colorful designs onto fabric or other surfaces involves the use of many chemicals. Photo emulsions are used to prepare the screens, inks are forced through the screens, and solvents are necessary to clean and reclaim the screens.

She enjoyed the creative process and took pride in producing attractive, eye-catching designs. She accepted the physical nature of the work, even though her muscles and joints often told her that they were unhappy. She was totally unaware, however, that her activities were having a profound effect upon the cells within her body.

When I began studying blood quality through a darkfield microscope I found that, although she had sold her business several years earlier, Rosalie’s red blood cells were being damaged by toxins in her system. Instead of being round and smooth many had portions missing giving them a Pac Man appearance.

She had never consumed any of the chemicals; she had simply gotten them on her skin in the course of her daily activities. They were absorbed through her skin in amounts great enough to cause visible damage years into the future.

While we commonly think of our skin as an effective barrier, which protects us from the outside world, it is also highly absorbent. Substances that come in contact with the skin can, in many instances, be absorbed into the body very efficiently.

Physicians and pharmacists commonly take advantage of this process. Medications can be placed on patches or mixed into creams that are applied to the skin. An entire day’s dosage of a drug is often administered in this manner, and it is possible in some cases to place an entire week’s supply in a single patch the size of a quarter.

This is one reason why what we put onto our bodies is often as important in determining our state of wellness as what we put into our bodies. Chemicals in soaps and detergents can dry and irritate skin, causing premature aging. Transdermal absorption of toxic chemicals can potentially cause problems as diverse as liver failure and loss of nerve function. Creams, ointments and cosmetics can block the pores and glands preventing them from performing their essential functions.

Just as the quality of the water we drink is the most significant aspect of what we put into our bodies the quality of the water we put onto our bodies is one of the most important factors in determining the health of our skin and of our body in general.

For most of her adult life Rosalie lived with dry, rough, red and sometimes painful patches on her skin. She tried virtually every product that was promoted as being helpful in moisturizing and healing skin irritations. Finally, we installed a filter on our shower that was designed to remove chlorine and toxic chemicals from the water.

The benefit was immediately apparent. When she stepped into her first filtered shower she noted that the water, which had always felt like needles hitting her skin, was no longer painful. Within a matter of days the blotches were gone. It was only then that she remembered that the problem had first appeared when she left her parent’s farm, moved to Minneapolis, and began showering with chlorinated water.

Personal cleansing products should be chosen wisely. Deodorant soaps, which contain chemicals to kill bacteria, can damage living skin cells as well. It is better to choose soaps that do not contain harsh chemicals.

The body contains approximately two and one-half million sweat glands. They are connected with the surface of the body by means of a tiny channel, or pore, which is curled like a corkscrew and is about a quarter-inch long. These numberless ducts make up the sewer system of the body. The sweat glands are surrounded by, and richly supplied with, blood vessels.

Ideally, water and impurities from the blood are transferred to the sweat glands, carried up through the pores, and deposited on the surface of the body. The sweat glands are constantly at work, even when we are not consciously aware of perspiring. They excrete several pounds of impurities each and every day. If this process is interrupted toxins accumulate within the body, potentially leading to illness.

I once heard a story that illustrates this point nicely. A tourist from the United States hailed a cab on a Caribbean island. The day was hot and muggy and the man quickly realized that the cab did not have air conditioning. He complained to the driver. The driver calmly pointed to a hospital they were passing. “Do you see that building?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied the tourist.

“Do you know who’s in that building?” the driver questioned.

“No,” the disgruntled rider returned.

“It’s filled with people like you from the United States,” the driver stated. “You are filled up with poisons because you don’t sweat. We islanders may sweat a lot, but we almost never wind up in the hospital.”

Soaps that leave a film or residue can block the pores and prevent the excretion of waste materials. I personally prefer an herbal body wash that gently removes soil and flakes of dead skin while rinsing cleanly leaving no film to affect the skin’s excretory ability.

Shampoos and hair conditioners should likewise be non-toxic and free rinsing. This is important not only from a health standpoint, but strands of hair that are coated with a chemical residue do not project the natural sheen of clean, healthy hair.

Cosmetics, when worn, should be applied lightly for the same reason. It is also worthwhile seeking out formulations that glide on leaving invisible gaps that allow the skin to function properly.

Nail care products should not contain formaldehyde or toluene, two toxic substances that not only dry and damage the nail surface over time, but also place a strain on the body when absorbed into the system. This is of particular importance in children. Little girls love to play “grown-up” and have their nails painted, but they are at greater risk from toxic exposure due to their small body size.

Care should also be taken when choosing to wear scents. Colognes and perfumes often contain very potent substances that produce their distinctive aroma. I have worked with individuals who were able to clear their chronic headaches only when they discontinued the scent they were wearing.

Just as industrial cleaners, dyes and solvents can cause internal damage, as we found in Rosalie’s blood picture, so can common household cleaners wreak internal havoc when absorbed. Chlorine, which is damaging in the dilute concentrations found in city water supplies, is even more toxic when used undiluted for bleaching clothing and disinfecting surfaces.

The most toxic aisle of any supermarket is that displaying the cleaning supplies. Nearly all common brand-name household cleaners carry warnings about their poisonous potential. Some outlets are beginning to offer non-toxic alternatives and these should be chosen whenever possible. At the very least, gloves should be worn when using any cleaner or disinfectant than contains a cautionary statement that it is harmful if taken internally.

Antiperspirants should not be used routinely. The secretory and excretory glands in the underarm area must be allowed to function properly. Beyond that, most antiperspirants contain aluminum, which is toxic when absorbed. Use a deodorant that prevents the growth of odor causing bacteria without blocking the pores or exposing the body to undesirable chemicals.

Just as there are substances that are harmful when applied to the skin surface, so there are substances that are helpful. Sunscreens, for example, can protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun and prevent damage that can predispose to the development of skin cancer.

Applying skin conditioners that contain antioxidant vitamins such as A, C, and E can also prevent and in some cases help the skin repair damage that has already taken place. Plant substances such as those found in aloe vera can also promote skin health when applied.

Many, if not most, people do not consider the fact that what we put onto our bodies is a significant factor in determining our state of health. It is in many ways as important as what we put into our bodies in determining how we will look and feel in succeeding decades. This is another important piece in the wellness puzzle. Just as in the case of the others it is never too soon to start protecting our children and it is never too late to begin taking steps to enhance our own well-being.

© 2007 Wellness Clubs of

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