As a specialist in nervous system and nerve health, my job sometimes requires to think outside the box for difficult cases that come to the office. Patients who respond slowly to an initial phase of care may have external toxic stressors that must be addressed to allow the nervous system to fully recover. Nervous system toxins could be caused by things patient eats, drinks, inhales, wears, or rubs on their skin. A common nervous system depressant may be lurking in their homes, believe it or not.
Cleaning products are meant to help us live with less bacteria and viruses in our homes and places of work. They are found in various forms of sprays, wipes, and liquids. But the “dirty” secret is that common household products available in supermarkets around the globe are dangerous to our nervous system health.
“The individuals who cleaned their homes with common household cleaners had impaired lung capacity equivalent to smoking twenty cigarettes per day”
Our society is obsessed with cleanliness. Anything less than surgical grade clean is less than acceptable, especially in the home. A baby’s crib must be sparkling clean, the play pen has to be wiped down after each use, and the kitchen and bathroom floor has to look clean enough to eat off of. But our fixation on sanitation can have grave consequences for many unlucky individuals.
Reactions to individual cleaning products are not widely documented for a key reason: the cleaning companies are protected by law from disclosing complete ingredient lists on their labels. Why? Wouldn’t you want to know what is contained in the products you apply to your clothing, eating surfaces, and spray into the air? Without having consumer access to what’s inside these products, it can be easy to think, “It must be safe or they wouldn’t be able to sell it in the store”. But scientific research and my experience with patients tell us otherwise.
An independent long-term study conducted over a 20 year period wanted to answer one simple question: is there a difference in lung health of those who did use common household spray and liquid cleaners compared to those who did not? The results were nothing short of shocking. The individuals who cleaned their homes with common household cleaners had impaired lung capacity equivalent to smoking twenty cigarettes per day!
“Nervous system toxins should be eliminated as a potential culprit.”
At this point, you may be thinking, “But these results can’t be common. Besides, I only clean once a week, not every day”. The study concluded that women who used home cleaning products as little as once per week saw the same reduction in lung capacity as those who smoke a pack a day over the same period. These same products also have the ability to damage our nervous system.
Common symptoms that we see in our office include headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disorders. Some lesser common conditions are attention deficit disorders (ADD/ ADHD), seizures, dizziness and vertigo. Though the conditions may appear to be very different and independent from one another, I have found connections to the severity of the issue and the level of stress to the nervous system. Without a properly functioning nervous system, anything can develop. Nervous system toxins should be eliminated as a potential culprit.
One thing I may discuss are some recommendations to decrease toxic exposure, including cleaning products. This is especially important when dealing with pediatric patients. Children and pets being smaller and lower to the ground, are much more prone to develop adverse reactions. The vapor from spray and liquid cleaners are most highly concentrated at or near ground level. So unlike adults who stand well above the level of the floor, babies, children, and pets can inhale these fumes to a greater degree than adults. We have found that some patients have quicker results when fully implementing our recommendations.
A quick and easy test to see if your cleaners are up to our recommendations or not is to look at the end cap of the product. If your detergent, liquid, or spray has a childproof seal on it when new, this product likely has chemicals that are harmful to your nervous system and overall health. It should be thrown out immediately. In addition, a more thorough look at the available ingredients listed on the container can give additional safety information.
Clorox wipes, for example, are commonly used to disinfect countertops, shelves, toys, and much more. The main ingredients in the wipes are Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride and Alkyl Dimethyl Ethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride. These are the same ingredients as pesticides. The harmful effects of ingesting pesticides are clear and absolutely a no-no for any health conscious individual. So why would we use it in our house for our loved ones to breath? These are just two examples of the nervous system toxins that are contained in these products. What many people don’t realize is that there are safe alternatives out there cleaning just as well without the potential side effects.
Some take away points from the above-mentioned study are:
- Cleaning once per week can reduce lung capacity to the same severity as smoking a pack of cigarettes per day.
- Women are affected more commonly than men.
- Children and pets are especially sensitive to cleaners affecting their nervous system.
- Cleaning at home is just as harmful as being an occupational cleaner, if not more so.
- Liquid cleaners are just as dangerous as sprays.
- Asthma rates increased with women who cleaned with products regularly.
- Over time, negative effects can build up.
- Childhood caps = Nervous system toxins likely in the product.
If you think you or your loved one may be experiencing the effects of nervous system toxins, we have resources to help you heal. Call to schedule a complementary consultation to find customize your individualized options!