Why choose a natural deodorant?
Sweating is your body’s natural mechanism for cooling down. Sweat has no odour but the bacteria living on your skin metabolizes the proteins and fatty acids from it, which causes odour. Deodorants deal with the odour by killing and/or neutralizing the bacteria directly and antiperspirants use aluminum which acts to block sweat ducts from producing sweat in the first place. Deodorants can be natural or not. Many contain hormone disrupters like parabens or phthalates, which can damage one’s liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive systems. Synthetic fragrances and scents do not need to divulge their ingredients other than ‘fragrance’and often contain very toxic and/or unregulated ingredients. Earth Mind and Body Essentials has developed an all natural, (mostly organic) deodorant that contains none of these ingredients, but is still very effective and gentle on your skin.
But why not aluminum? Isn’t aluminum everywhere? Why is it considered toxic?
Aluminum is the third most abundant element found in the earth’s crust (Gupta et al., 2013). Aluminum is still currently used in some cosmetics like lipstick and lip gloss; it is also contained in many types of toothpaste, most vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. It is in antacids, baking powder, buffered medications, sunscreens, smoking, tea, tin cans, cookware, tinfoil and building materials and more. It is important to note that Aluminum is not necessary to human life at all.
Aluminum is often touted as safe due to the fact that it is so abundant in our water and our food supplies. But there is a reason for this. Air pollution from burning fossil fuels causes sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides to mix in the air producing acid rain. Acid rain is said to produce toxic aluminum ions that then release from rocks (bauxite) and drop into our soil (ending up in our food) and water reservoirs (which leach into our water supply), and can have detrimental effects on our environment. We also use aluminum sulphate to treat our water with less turbidity. Aluminum hydroxide and sodium aluminate are byproducts of this and are present in our drinking water (Strunecka, A., and Blaylock, Russell L. 2010). We then use chemical processes to extract more and use it for many things. So it really isn’t naturally occurring in a place that we have ready access to it except by our own means. And we don’t need aluminum at all in our life cycle. And we can see the effects of our fossil fuel usage in the form of acid rain which in turn is seen in the drying of forests, poisoning of plants, crop decline and/or failure, death of aquatic animals and also by various imbalances in the function of human and animal systems, particularly the central nervous system and the brain (Barabasz et al, 2002).
Ongoing low levels of aluminum in our food and drinking water (as explained above) are also seen to elevate basal levels of inflammatory activity within our Central Nervous Systems. And elevated levels of inflammation are associated with aging, which is also exacerbated in several neurogenerative disorders (Bondy 2010). This points us in a very definitive direction when it comes to the safety of this metal, not only for humans, but also for plants and animals too.
So is one form of Aluminum ‘safer’ than another?
Aluminum can be turned into different forms and compounds by using different processing methods. But the metal itself as a base is toxic and may only become more so depending on the process, so it is important to understand that just because it is a different ‘kind’ of aluminum does not mean it is not still toxic.
Aluminum chlorohydrate is an aluminum group of salts that is made by reacting aluminum with hydrochloric acid. Its most common use is in deodorants and antiperspirants because it alters the pH balance of the skin and the production of sweat by embedding itself within one’s sweat ducts. Other popular aluminum compounds used for the same purpose are aluminum chloride, aluminum zirconium and potassium alum or ammonia alum (marketed as deodorant crystals). Other Aluminum compounds are used as well with similar results. Unfortunately, it is well known that aluminum (no matter which compound it is made into) is a neurotoxin and this poses significant risks over time for users of these deodorants, particularly for those looking to avoid developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, or other neurodegenerative disorders, later in life.
So how did it become known that aluminum is neurotoxin?
Originally, patients going for dialysis received aluminum hydroxide in the solutions of their dialysis. The following symptoms began to arrive: cognitive impairment, neurotoxicity, bone weakness, kidney failure, inflammation of the gallbladder, gallstones, parasitic infections, arthritis, cirrhosis, muscle wasting, and chronic pancreatitis. Following the observation that high levels of aluminum in dialysis fluid could cause a form of dementia in these patients, a number of studies were carried out to determine if aluminium could cause dementia or cognitive impairment as a consequence of environmental exposure over long periods. Aluminium was indeed identified in the amyloid plaques that are one of the diagnostic lesions in the brain for Alzheimer disease, which is a common form of senile and pre-senile dementia (EFSA, 2008) and shows a lifelong accumulation of it in the brain plaques that cause the neurogenerative disease.
Aluminum has been considered non carcinogenic despite few studies done and an association between higher cancer levels in those who have inhaled aluminum dust and aluminum compounds during production/processing work. Consequently, It is considered that there is insufficient data to establish a clear relationship between the use of underarm aluminium-based antiperspirants and breast cancer although there is evidence of a relationship (Afssaps, 2011).
The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety considers that Aluminium (Al) is a known neurotoxicant (SCCS 2014) and there has been evidence to link this metal with several neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease (Miu and Benga, 2006; Percy et al., 2011), Parkinson’s diseases (Oyanagi, 2005) and other chronic neurodegenerative diseases (Bondy, 2010). Consequently, they recommend exposure to Aluminum be avoided (SCCS 2014).
But if I’m not getting it intravenously, should I still be concerned?
Drug companies commonly use transdermal patches to deliver medications through your skin (Prausnitz 2008). So applying chemicals directly on your skin may be more dangerous than swallowing them.
Associate professor of biology at North Carolina State University, Heather Patisaul, Ph.D., is quoted in Time Magazine, saying:
“When you eat something, it’s broken down by your liver and digestive system. But when you put something on your skin, there are times when it can enter your bloodstream without being metabolized.”
So it is definitely still a concern even if you are not receiving aluminum intravenously. In fact, you can also take it orally, through food and other medications, and by inhalation. All methods harmful.
1. Afssaps (2011) Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Produits de Santé.
Evaluation du risque lié à l’utilisation de l’aluminium dans les produits cosmétiques (Risk assessment related to the use of aluminium in cosmetic
products, 43 pages (report in French).
2. Barabasz W, Albinska D, Jaskowska M, Lipiec J. Ecotoxicology of Aluminium. Pol J Environ Stud. 2002;11(3):199–203. http://www.pjoes.com/pdf/11.3/199-203.pdf
3. Bondy SC. (2010).The neurotoxicity of environmental aluminum is still an issue.
Processing Aids and Food Contact Materials (AFC). Safety of aluminium from
dietary intake. The EFSA Journal. 6(7); 754: 1-34FAO/WHO. (2007). Safety evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants: Prepared by the sixty seventh meeting of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). WHO Food Additives Series. 58: 119-207.
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8. Miu AC, Benga O (2006). Aluminum and Alzheimer's disease: a new look. Alzheimers 10(2-3):179-201.
9. Oyanagi K. (2005). The nature of the parkinsonism-dementia complex and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis of Guam and magnesium deficiency. Parkinsonism
Relat Disord. 11 Suppl 1: S17-23.