Most health conscious people can admit to carefully looking over the nutritional information and ingredient list on the foods they buy, but how often do they do the same for personal care products?
If your toothpaste contains dangerous ingredients like triclosan, sodium laureth sulfate, glycerin or any artificial sweeteners (including aspartame, sorbitol and saccharin), then you should seriously consider tossing that tube into the trash and going for a much safer, natural alternative that can get the job done just as well as regular toothpaste—if not better.
You could head on over to your local health food store to look for organic toothpastes or you could even conduct some thorough research on the more common brands of toothpaste sold in stores (since not all of them contain toxic ingredients). But if you want to save a bit of money in addition to going all natural with your oral care, you could simply stop using toothpaste all together and instead switch to some of the alternatives listed below.
1. Baking Soda
A study from the Journal of Clinical Dentistry found that Arm & Hammer baking soda was effective at cleaning teeth and removing plaque to fight off tooth decay. You’re probably already well aware of the many toothpastes that actually contain baking soda already. If you can withstand the taste and the grittiness of plain baking soda, you might want to try it.
According to WebMD, peroxide can be an effective cleansing solution for your mouth because of its bacteria-killing power, but you have to be ultra careful with it. If you’re going to try this alternative, make sure you dilute the peroxide in water so you’re not brushing with it at full strength, which could potentially burn your gums.
3. Sea Salt
Sea salt is rich in a variety of essential minerals and some people claim that it really helps to whiten their teeth. Try diluting sea salt in water and using it to brush your teeth. If you decide to use straight sea salt (without diluting it) you could risk abrasion.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that can be found in fruits and vegetables, which is often used as a sugar substitute in some food products. Some research has shown that it may prevent tooth decay, but ultimately more evidence is needed to back this claim up. You can get xylitol as a gum, as lozenges or you can simply take it in its sugar form and swish it around in your mouth prior to brushing.
5. Coconut, Sesame or Sunflower Oil
Have you heard of oil pulling? It’s an ancient oral health technique that involves taking about a tablespoon of carrier oil and swishing it around in your mouth for around 20 minutes a day. Research has shown that it can help reduce plaque and fight gingivitis. Just don’t use this as a complete substitute for brushing–gives those pearly whites a scrub with your toothbrush dipped in water at the very least.
6. Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Rosemary or Lemon Essential Oil
It’s no secret that essential oils have some seriously great antibacterial properties that make great cleansers for a range of things–including your teeth. When using essential oils, make sure you follow the safety precautions outlined by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. Use a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil in water and brush away.
If you’re going to try any of these natural oral care alternatives in place of regular toothpaste, make sure to treat it like toothpaste by not swallowing it. Spit it right out when you’re done and give your mouth a good rinse.
Talk to your dentist first about any concerns you may have. If you find a natural solution you really like that works well for you and your oral health, you may never go back to regular old toothpaste ever again.
GreenMedInfo.com provides cutting-edge, evidence-based natural health information and has one of the internet’s most popular e-newsletters with over 100K subscribers. Register for free here.
Signaling yet another victory for the clean food movement, the largest spice company in the world has announced it will be almost entirely organic and non-GMO by the year 2016.
Because of the organic and non-GMO food boom, other companies such as Simply Organic
have been able to grow thanks to the support of customers looking for cleaner options.
The McCormick spice company has maintained its spot as the world’s largest, however, and is now making a move that comes as a surprise to many in order to keep other companies from stealing its market share.
McCormick to Officially Go Organic, GMO-Free Soon
According to this article from the website Food Dive, the compay has announced that a huge majority of its spices and herbs will be organic and non-GMO by the year 2016.
In total, about 80% of its products will meet the new standard. New labels will also adorn the familiar McCormick packages, with over 70% expected to sport new “non-GMO” labels according to the article.
As noted by Food Dive, many of the company’s herbs and spices are already non-GMO, but the increased transparency is expected to be a selling point for many consumers as it has been for products that have become Non-GMO Project Verified.
Also announced by McCormick, a new non-GMO vanilla extract will be introduced along with numerous other organic spices and flavorings to compete with its rivals for the growing organic dollar in the United States (and elsewhere).
“The announcement comes ahead of the peak fall cooking and holiday season where consumer usage of herbs, spices & extracts as key ingredients in recipe favorites increase,” according to the news release.
McCormick a Healthier Option?
Believe it or not, numerous companies use irradiation in order to make spices “more safe” for the consumer.
If you’re buying from any old spice company there’s a high risk that you could be getting irradiated spices.
Luckily for people who wish to avoid irradiated spices there are options.Simply Organic, Frontier and other organic brands are good bets according to a report from FoodBabe.com, and McCormick, while not organic just yet, is another company that does not use irradiation.
According to this article from Food Safety News, McCormick opts instead for steam treatments, preserving more of the health benefits of their spices (although some say it harms the taste more than radiation treatments).
While the McCormick spice company isn’t perfect, it is admirable that they are taking these steps, making them a potentially better buy than other similar brands in a pinch if you can’t get to the health food store.
Mercury as seen by the Messenger probe. Signs of water and organic material have now been picked up © Nasa
Nasa’s Messenger spacecraft has uncovered evidence that not only does water ice exist on the surface of the planet Mercury, but in many places this ice appears to be covered in a 10cm-thick layer of soot-like organic material.1,2 Although the discovery of water ice on the closest planet to the sun was not entirely unexpected, the discovery of organic material was and suggests that some interesting chemistry might be taking place on the planet’s inhospitable surface.
Radar observations of Mercury from Earth had already detected bright, highly reflective regions at the planet’s poles, which astronomers thought could well be water ice originally brought by comets. Orbiting at a distance of just 36 million miles from the sun, compared with Earth’s 93 million miles, Mercury’s daytime surface temperature can reach 400°C. In permanent shadows within craters at the planet’s poles, however, the temperature probably doesn’t rise much above -170°C, allowing water ice to exist more or less indefinitely.3
Confirming whether water ice exists on Mercury’ surface is one of the main objectives of Nasa’s Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft, which was launched in 2004 and went into orbit around the planet in 2011. To this end, its suite of analytical instruments includes the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) and a neutron spectrometer. The MLA can indicate the presence of ice based on its reflection of near-infrared light, while the neutron spectrometer can detect the hydrogen in ice based on the effect it has on the energy level of neutrons blasted off the surface of Mercury by cosmic rays.
In a trio of papers, a group of US and French scientists now report their analysis of the data generated by the MLA and the neutron spectrometer, which reveals that the situation on Mercury is actually more complicated than originally supposed.
When the MLA surveyed Mercury’s north pole, it found bright, reflective regions indicative of surface water ice, but it also found more numerous non-reflective regions that were darker than Mercury’s normal rocky surface. Furthermore, the reflective regions tended to be at cold, high latitudes near the pole, whereas the dark regions tended to be at lower latitudes where the temperature should be too high for surface ice to exist long term.
The neutron spectrometer was unable to resolve individual bright and dark regions. Overall, however, its data indicated the existence of a thick, hydrogen-rich material covered in a thin, less hydrogen-rich layer around Mercury’s north pole.
Putting these data together, the scientists conclude that the bright regions are pure water ice, while the dark regions consist of water ice covered in a 10cm-thick layer of organic material. This explains why the dark regions are found at warmer latitudes, because the organic material provides a thermal blanket that prevents the ice from subliming. At higher latitudes, however, it’s cold enough in the craters for ice to exist without such a blanket.
‘MLA’s discovery of dark material in those permanently shadowed craters was a big surprise,’ group member David Paige at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells Chemistry World. ‘We had expected that Mercury’s subsurface ice deposits were covered by regular Mercury soil, but when this material turned out to be extremely dark, then it got us thinking about what it could possibly be.’
The scientists think that the water and organic material were originally delivered to Mercury’s surface by comets, with both eventually migrating to the cold polar regions where they persisted in craters. Here, powered by high-energy particles in the solar wind, carbon- and nitrogen-containing molecules in the ice undergo chemical reactions, producing increasingly complex, polymer-like organic compounds that form an insulating layer on top of the ice. Determining the precise chemical composition of this layer will require future missions to Mercury, says Paige.
Mark Sephton, professor of organic geochemistry and meteorites at Imperial College London, UK, says the finding of water and organic material on Mercury is ‘an exciting development’ with some important implications for both planetary development and the origin of life. ‘The recognition that planetary surfaces can accumulate volatile materials has implications for theories of how atmospheres and oceans can be formed,’ he explains. ‘Moreover, evidence of a relatively passive surface preserving layers of primitive materials suggests the potential for planetary and lunar records of solar system evolution. Lastly, the presence of organic matter and water reminds us that the raw materials of life are efficiently delivered to many planetary surfaces in the solar system.’
1 D A Paige et al, Science, 2012, DOI: 10.1126/science.1231106
2 G A Neumann et al, Science, 2012, DOI: 10.1126/science.1229764
3 D J Lawrence et al, Science, 2012, DOI: 10.1126/science.1229953
Editors note: Full article can be found here.