News, nowadays, is full of stories of chemicals in our food, cosmetics, medicines, our environment, and our bodies. We have all heard the phrase, “Avoid chemical or synthetic products as they are bad for us, instead opt for natural products”.
Why people mostly choose natural products is because of the common belief that nature is pure and inherently superior to humans.
However, what if we tell you that this is a great misconception that ignores a simple and basic truth that ‘everything is made up of chemicals’. It is still surprising to some of the people to know that chemicals are the basic building blocks of the human body. A human body contains at least 60 different chemicals, ranging from simple elements like iron, carbon to other chemicals with very complex structures.
“Toxicologists believe that nearly every substance (chemical) is safe in certain amounts.”
Let’s take the example of botulinum, it is the most poisonous substance on Earth. Think like this, just 50 grams of the botulinum, if spread evenly worldwide, would kill everyone. But it is quite thrilling to know it is used in a very minute amount for cosmetic purposes, we are talking about Botox. Thus the phrase, “the dose makes the poison”.
Natural products vs synthetic chemicals in the beauty industry
Women and cosmetics – it’s a love affair that’s been going on for centuries. And women can easily admit that there is never enough lipstick or perfumes! But how natural are our cosmetic products?
According to research, most of our favorite cosmetics are cocktails of industrially produced (and potentially dangerous) chemicals that could damage our health. Let’s see the stats:
“An average woman puts 515 synthetic chemicals on her body every single day without even knowing. And 60 percent of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our bodies.”
Over the last few years, this topic has been covered a lot in the news. First reported in 2007 with a report on lead contamination in lipsticks, “A Poison Kiss,” by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics highlighted the levels of lead (and other metals) in lipstick. The Food and Drug Administration followed up with a review of lipstick in 2011 and found traces of lead in 400 lipsticks.
“Exposure to Lead can cause learning, language, and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, impulsiveness, reduced school performance, increased aggression, seizures, and brain damage, anemia, and, after long exposure, damage to the kidneys. Lead has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in both men and women, hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, and delays in the onset of puberty in girls.”
Natural products vs synthetic chemicals in the pharma industry
Nature has been very good and kind to us. If we see in medicines, nature has given us aspirin, morphine, and other medicines derived directly from plants. There is a long history of the use of plants as medicines in treating diseases of various kinds.
However, some “natural” medicines, contrary to what many may think, can have serious safety concerns.
For example, kava, a plant native to the islands of the South Pacific, and often used as a dietary supplement for anxiety, may cause severe liver damage. Ephedra, an evergreen shrub-like plant native to central Asia and Mongolia that has been used for centuries in treating colds, fever, and other conditions, is associated with heart problems and the risk of death.
“In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids for safety reasons.”
Everything we eat and use has a great impact on our life and health. Even if unknowingly you are consuming synthetic chemicals in any way, sometimes they may leave some sort of side effect on your body (it is still debatable). However, to say that natural products are always safe to use is not completely true as well.
But it is quite important to know the ingredients of the things that you are consuming and to read about them if they are causing any side effects to you in any way.