What’s In Your Soap?


(picture courtesy of NPR.org)

Several years ago our household stopped using antibacterial soap, for multiple reasons. The first was that doctors were beginning to warn that overuse of antibacterial soap could make it harder for antibiotics to work when you actually needed them. The second was that the soap left our hands so dry that we needed to constantly use lotion. The third reason was that some of us began to get eczema as our skin reacted to the soap.

First we switched to using aloe vera liquid soap for hand-washing, as it seemed to be one of the few varieties of liquid soap that didn’t have antibiotics added. For the bathtub, we switched over to Kirk’s Castile Soap. The dryness and rashes decreased, though not entirely. Then last year one of our sons got fed up with his kids always having skin reactions to the soap, and began to make his own from scratch. There were no antibiotics or weird ingredients with names we couldn’t pronounce in his home brew. After awhile all of us were using his soap bars, and none of us were itching.

Two days ago, the Food And Drug Administration officially declared that antibacterial ingredients in soaps are not good for us. They make our bodies build up a tolerance to antibiotics. They may also mess up our hormones, cause thyroid malfunctions, increase chances of allergies to peanuts and other foods, and cause muscle weakness. After three years of allowing the soap companies to make their own case, the FDA said the companies had not proved that the antibacterial ingredients were safe. They now have one year to remove them from the liquid and bar soaps.

There are 19 ingredients that are being banned, triclosan being the one that is used the most widely in soaps. According to more than one news outlet, the FDA has been keeping an eye on triclosan safety since the 1970’s. It shouldn’t take decades for the government agency that’s supposed to look out for the health and safety of Americans to decide that triclosan is bad for us. This is a national disgrace.

For a list of the newly-banned substances, check out this NPR article:

Don’t Kill The Birthday Girl – by Sandra Beasley (2011)

Don't Kill The Birthday Girl


Most of us can enjoy a wonderful meal with our family and friends at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a birthday without analyzing what we are eating. You may have a milk intolerance, get a headache from eating chocolate, or be allergic to peanuts, but it’s not a big deal. You just avoid that one thing that doesn’t agree with you, and everything is fine. But what if you were allergic to more than a dozen things – and not just mildly, but severely?

Sandra Beasley almost didn’t survive infancy because she was allergic to every possible kind of milk given to her. As she grew, her parents discovered more and more things that her body could not tolerate. This autobiography is a window into the life of a person who has to double and triple check everything she ingests to make sure it won’t kill her.

The author also writes about the medical research that is being done on allergies, and treatments that have been tried. More and more people seem to be struggling with allergies to foods, so this is an important area of medicine. Reading this book gave me a better understanding of how serious this condition can be, and how it affects people’s lives.