Big gaps in consumer health protection
Lack of regulation of supplements
Unlike in the European Union, in the United States, our supplemental industry is not regulated. Unfortunately, this means that quality assurance is not always provided to customers. It is disturbing that many supplemental companies claim that their products are safe and made with quality ingredients while independent lab studies have proved these claims to be false.
Currently, even contaminants such as metals are in some over the counter supplements. A good way to protect yourself is to learn about professional companies that do provide outside lab quality assurance. You can check out how your products rate through Consumer Lab, an independent police force for product quality.
To address this gap in consumer protection, I created a nutritional, medicinal store as part of my medical practice in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Healing Gardens Medicinal Store provides my patients, family, and community with high-quality supplements from companies that assure product safety.
Lack of regulation of cosmetics
Like supplements, many cosmetic products contain unsafe ingredients. In my research, I was alarmed to learn that the majority of cosmetic products, such as moisturizers, shampoos, makeup, etc., contain extremely toxic ingredients.
An estimated 100,000 synthetic chemicals are currently registered for use in the United States. Fewer than 10% of these chemicals have been tested for their effects on human health. Unfortunately, a significant number of these chemicals have found their way into our personal care products and our environment.
Because of this disturbing news, to help protect my patients, my family, myself, and my community, I developed a safe and effective plant-based cosmetic line, Dr. Fields’ Sacred Skin, that is free of toxic chemicals.
Hormone disruptors and carcinogens in everyday cosmetics
I want the phrase, “Safe Cosmetics” to be part of my community’s general health knowledge. In order to educate my patients, I provide them with a list of toxins that are commonly found in everyday skincare products. Two classes of synthetic chemicals known as parabens and phthalates are among the worst offenders.
The “Trade Secret” loophole
Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate the use of these chemicals, nor does it require manufacturers to disclose them as ingredients. The “Trade Secret” loophole allows manufacturers to conceal these potentially deadly chemicals as “fragrance”.
Organizations taking action to protect consumers
Thankfully, large organizations such as the Breast Cancer Fund and the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, have become aware of the dangers of these chemicals and have begun educating the public.
Jeanne Rizzo, RN and executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund stated,
It is unacceptable that the cosmetic companies continue to use ingredients that are breast carcinogens as well as other toxic chemicals in their products. We call on the cosmetic industry to phase out their use of these harmful ingredients.
Theo Colborn, PhD and president of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange in Paonia, Colorado says,
There is no doubt about the need for extreme caution in using products that contain parabens and phthalates. Well over 100 studies since 1992 have demonstrated that these chemicals can disrupt both male and female hormone function, interfering with the roles of estrogen and testosterone in animal and tissue cultures. Other studies have found intact parabens in human breast tumors.
Colborn also states that a broad spectrum of birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairments occurred in lab animals exposed to phthalates.
June Hamilton, vice president of research for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in Washington, DC states that a typical US woman applies about twelve products every day. Those twelve products add up to as many as 168 potentially harmful ingredients. Ms. Hamilton confirms that the risk from multiple exposures increases the detrimental effects.
Developing a new, safe skincare line: Dr. Fields’ Sacred Skin
After investigating this staggering data, I rapidly started working with a natural pharmacist to develop my all-natural line of skincare products.
To create this line, I took the best scientific data and combined it with plant medicine. I made a commitment to eliminate synthetic chemicals, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, EDTA, urea, artificial colors, fragrances, and all other known toxic agents.
I am also committed to using only herbal infusions, essential oils, and plants. Of course, I have rejected the use of petroleum in my products because petroleum can clog pores and, more importantly, it is a nonrenewable resource.
The skin can absorb harmful chemicals
The body absorbs 60-70% of whatever is applied topically to the skin, and that includes harmful chemicals. In some cases, the skin absorbs more than is absorbed through the intestines.
What I teach people about skincare is no different than what I teach people about food. Protect yourself. These days, there are many chemicals in food that are extremely unhealthy for our bodies. Likewise for skincare products.
It is essential for our health and the health of our environment not to bombard our bodies with these chemicals.
I hold this motto: “If you can’t eat what you put on your skin, it’s probably not safe.”
My commitment to safe cosmetics
I registered my skincare line with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. This organization asked hundreds of cosmetic companies to sign their Compact for the global production of safe health and beauty products. This includes a pledge that their products will meet all standards and be free of chemicals known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutations, or birth defects.
Slow but steady regulatory progress
The European Union has taken the international lead in guarding the public against chemicals in personal and household products. In 2001, the EU classified phthalates as substances that are toxic to reproduction. Many US manufacturers oppose tighter regulations, but with increased awareness and pressure from advocacy groups, results are slowly beginning to be seen. Fortunately, 175 companies have signed on with Safe Cosmetics, but we have a long way to go in educating the public and changing legislation.
Keep a watchful eye on the products you use
Although changes are starting to happen, do not be fooled by companies who call their products “natural” after adding a few herbs or drops of oil. Many times, these “natural” products are filled with other harmful ingredients.
Much still needs to be done before cosmetic labeling becomes meaningful.