A Hot Bath Has Benefits Similar to Exercise

A hot bath burns calories, helps control blood sugar and keeps your blood vessels healthy. What’s not to like?

Source: A Hot Bath Has Benefits Similar to Exercise

I have heard on many occasions from my customers that they just don’t like baths or that they don’t see any benefit to them. I have always felt that there was a benefit to them in the areas of decreasing stress after a hard day (especially if using aromatherapy oils or candles), or to soften skin for better absorption of moisturizers. What I didn’t know was that according to a Loughborough University study there are physiological benefits that go beyond relaxation or skincare.

One very important effect is an improvement in cardiovascular function which in turn can “reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke” Steve Faulkner

In their studies they looked at the mechanism that allowed for the improved function and what they found was that “passive heating raised levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.” The implications of this include treatments for high blood pressure and for poor peripheral circulation.

They also noted that in participants with type 2 diabetes there were overall improvements in body weight, blood sugar control and insulin resistance. Now this seems too good to be true, and they don’t have the exact mechanism down, but there is some evidence found from animal studies that show the human body produces more of a specific type of protein during stress. They refer to these proteins as “shock proteins” and it is believed that these proteins may aid the function of insulin. The presence of these proteins tends to be lower in those with type 2 diabetes so it stands to reason that if these do aid in the effectiveness of insulin the subsequent increase of these proteins during a hot bath or sauna would be beneficial.

Federal Toxmap Shutters, Raising the Ire of Pollution Researchers

December 16, 2019 by Michael Schulson

The loss of the federal pollution tracker, supporters say, will inhibit public access to data on environmental hazards.
Top: The National Library of Medicine’s Toxmap application shed light on pollution nationwide. It’s no longer available to the public. Visual: NLM

Fifteen years ago, the U.S. National Library of Medicine launched Toxmap, a free, interactive online application that combines pollution data from at least a dozen U.S. government sources. A Toxmap user could pan and zoom across a map of the United States sprinkled with thousands of blue and red dots, with each blue dot representing a factory, coal-fired power plant, or other facility that has released certain toxic chemicals into the environment, and each red dot marking a Superfund program site — “some of the nation’s most contaminated land,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Toxmap allowed users to pull up detailed EPA data for each toxic release site, and to overlay other information, such as mortality statistics, onto those maps. And it’s precisely those capabilities that earned Toxmap a devoted following among researchers, students, activists, and other people keen to identify sources of pollution in their communities.

Those capabilities appear to no longer be available to the public.

Earlier this year, with little explanation, the NLM announced that it would be “retiring” the Toxmap website on Dec. 16, 2019. The library did not respond directly to queries on Monday about what was meant by “retiring,” but by Tuesday morning, the Toxmap website had been taken down and visitors to the former URL were met with a message acknowledging the closure and pointing visitors to other potential sources of information. (An archived version of the old Toxmap landing page is preserved at the Internet Archive.) The decision to sunset the application has upset some of Toxmap’s most loyal users and raised concerns among environmental data advocates, who say that Toxmap’s demise would inhibit reliable public access to essential data about environmental hazards.

“I think it’s really sad that they’re getting rid of this,” said Claudia Persico, an environmental policy scholar at American University who studies the impact of pollution on children’s health, and who uses Toxmap in her research. That sentiment was shared by Chris Sellers, an environmental historian at Stony Brook University and a member of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), which monitors federal environmental data sources and advocates for greater public access. “It was stunning to me that the National Library of Medicine is actually retiring this pretty essential tool for our environmental right-to-know.”

NLM has offered only brief explanations for its decision. In a statement to Undark, NLM communications staff wrote that, in order to meet the goals of a new strategic plan, the Library “had to make some difficult organizational changes,” adding that “selected Toxmap data” could be found scattered among nine other U.S. and Canadian government websites. (The map includes data from Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory.) “Part of the decision was prompted by the increasing availability of the underlying data from their original sources,” NLM added. “Many sources such as the EPA, among others, offer several products that provide similar geographic information system (GIS) functionality.”

In particular, the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) site allows people to enter a zip code and view nearby pollution sources, along with some data about their toxic releases.

But those alternatives, researchers say, simply do not offer the same scope and simplicity as Toxmap. “Because this information has gotten so complex, and there’s so much of it, it’s very difficult for someone who’s not really trained in the area to navigate it,” said Sellers. “This tool actually cut through all the jargon, all the different interfaces that EPA, for instance, puts up before you get to the actual data that you’re interested in.”

Data-sharing tools like Toxmap have their roots in the 1980s, when a toxic gas leak at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killed thousands of people. (Estimates range from 2,200 victims to more than 10,000.) In response to the Bhopal disaster, lawmakers in the United States called for legislation that would give Americans information about potential toxin sources in their communities, under a principle called “right-to-know.” The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, passed in 1986, required companies using certain hazardous chemicals to report that information to the EPA, and for the EPA to make that information available to the public.

Much of that data came to form the backbone of Toxmap, which was launched in 2004 by the NLM, part of the National Institutes of Health. While this data was available in other formats, the NLM tool brought it together in one place and made it accessible to the general public. From the start, the tool “was developed to be easy to navigate and to understand,” a group of NLM affiliates wrote in a 2014 paper marking Toxmap’s 10th anniversary.

Since then, Toxmap has been used for everything from student projects to figures in academic papers. “It’s a great resource for teaching students,” said Sara Wylie, a science and technology studies scholar at Northeastern University and a cofounder of EDGI. Wylie uses Toxmap in her environment, technology, and society class. Among other things, she told Undark, the tool offers a vivid demonstration for students of how widespread toxic releases are in the U.S. The dots on Toxmap cluster around major cities, forming dense agglomerations in the country’s most populated corridors. They speckle quiet suburban neighborhoods, trail out along interstate highways, and dot the rural West. “It’s always shocking for students to find out that there are emissions happening near them, to see the complexity of them, and so it’s a pretty unique resource.”

Persico said she has found the tool helpful for research. “Being able to go to a place and actually see what the geographic landscape looks like, of the dispersion of pollution,” she noted, “is really, really valuable.” She uses the tool to visualize toxin sources and to generate figures for papers and for presentations. A new scientific paper she has pending publication in a journal, for example, uses Toxmap to show how EPA registered sites in Florida line up with population density statistics.

In 2018, the NLM launched a major update to Toxmap. But then, earlier this year, the Library announced that it would be shuttering the Toxicology Data Network, or Toxnet, the database collection that includes Toxmap. Many of its components would migrate to other NLM sites. But Toxmap, the organization announced, would be retired.

When asked about the concerns of researchers and other Toxmap devotees, as well as for more information about the upkeep cost and usage rate of Toxmap, the National Library of Medicine declined to answer questions, saying only in an email message: “We are not scheduling interviews regarding the sunsetting of Toxmap.”

This dearth of information has contributed to suspicions that the demise of Toxmap may have political motivations. “I hope people will understand what’s happening out there, that the government is gradually cutting off these very valuable tools that are really essential to our democracy,” said Sellers, citing trends under the Trump administration that include a reduction of mentions of climate change on EPA websites, and an administration effort to restrict the health data that can be used to inform government regulations.

Members of the public, he added, “have a right to know what chemicals are being released and stored, that are potentially dangerous, next door.”

Political suspicions aside, there is little evidence that Toxmap’s demise serves some higher political agenda — and indeed, leadership of the National Library of Medicine, including its director Patricia Flatley Brennan, predate the Trump administration. And in an email response to questions that arrived Tuesday afternoon, the library said that “the decision to retire the site was made by NLM, and not by the administration.” Still, the site’s closing does highlight that, more than 30 years after the passage of federal environmental right-to-know legislation, and more than 30 years into the internet era, finding simple, accessible, easy-to-use presentations of reliable pollution data can be difficult, if not impossible. Tools like Toxmap, Wylie said, could be clunky — even if they are, as she put it, “the best we’ve got right now.”

And yet the site’s basic principle — an interactive map, with toxic release sites clearly labeled, extensive health and demographic data ready for overlay, and extensive government data available at the click of a mouse — had a clear appeal. Asked what her ideal-world toxic data platform would look like, Persico laughed.

“Honestly,” she said, “I would build something like Toxmap.”

UPDATES: This story has been edited to reflect the actual removal of the Toxmap website, which was still available at first publication, and to add a response from the National Library of Medicine to the suggestion by some researchers that Toxmap was closed for political reasons. Undark may add further updates as additional information becomes available.

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.

For purposes of preservation here is the original site url list for alternative sources for data previously consolidated and available on Toxmap.

Study Shows How Prescribed Burns Benefit Bees

This article intrigued me since I had previously participated in prescription burns for the University of Nebraska in Omaha.

All the studies on the benefits of prescription burns were more related to the forbs and the biodiversity thereof.  This is not to say the studies regarding fauna were not there. I was just not aware of them.

For instance, I would have expected that abundance in plant biodiversity would equate to a similar abundance in insect biodiversity, especially in pollinators.  It is great to have a better understanding of this process and why the pollinators might benefit from this method of land management.  This is important now more than ever as our pollinators are in decline.  It is a good read and I highly recommend it.

Source: Study Shows How Prescribed Burns Benefit Bees

Prescription Burns at Allwine Prairie, NE

Source: Study Shows How Prescribed Burns Benefit Bees

Healthy Skin Care Swaps

As the new year approaches, you may be thinking about positive changes you can make for yourself. One change that is positive and healthy is swapping out animal tested, toxic products wrapped in plastic for ones that are non-toxic, cruelty-free, healthy and sustainable. This can certainly be simple to do and so should be high up on your list.

When you think of which products should be first, some use the replacement as they run out concept. This is certainly a viable concept as you are able to avoid a large expenditure as well as a waste of your current products. I have always appreciated this approach and encourage others to do the same, however if you are vulnerable to immune disorders, have reactive or sensitive skin, and or cancer is prevalent in your family you may consider switching products that are more readily absorbed sooner. These products would include anything that can be ingested, or is more likely to sit on your skin longer and so have a higher chance of being absorbed.

These products include lip balms, facial lotions and serums, and body balms and lotions. Not that soaps and cleansers aren’t important, however they will be on your skin for only a few minutes at best and then will be rinsed down the drain. With that being said, to switch from a bottled product such as shampoo or body wash to a solid bar form may be a simple switch just to avoid adding plastics to your home and potentially to the landfill.

Lip balms are on the top of this list for clean swap as it is more likely to be applied and reapplied throughout the day as well as partially ingested as you eat or drink food. Using the EWG Skindeep database, toxicity data has been pulled for a few commonly used lip balms to compare their ratings based on their published ingredient lists. For those of you who haven’t discovered them yet, EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a non profit that uses information gathered from current research and ranks products based on their ingredient list on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most hazardous. They are a fabulous wealth of information.

ChapstickBlistexEOSChagrin ValleyLittle Seed
EWG rating 3-5EWG rating 5-7EWG rating 1-4EWG rating 1EWG rating 1
Oxybenzone
EWG = 8
Retinyl palmitate
EWG = 9
Fragrance
EWG = 8
Castor Seed Oil EWG = 2Castor Seed Oil EWG = 2
Fragrance
EWG = 8
Oxybenzone
EWG = 8
Homosolate
EWG = 4
All else were 1All else were 1
Propylparaben EWG = 7Phenol
EWG = 7
Octocrylene
EWG = 3
Octinoxate
EWG = 6
Octinoxate
EWG = 6
Petrolatum
EWG = 4
Petroleum
EWG = 4
Methylparaben
EWG = 4
Not Cruelty-Free
Owned by Pfizer which does animal testing.
Not Cruelty-Free
Sells in countries that require animal testing.
Not Cruelty-Free
Sells in countries that require animal testing.
Cruelty-Free
Packaged in glass with metal cap.
Cruelty-Free
Packaged in aluminum tin.

EWG rates all products with the word fragrance in their ingredient list a bit more harshly because there is no way to know what is being referred to by this word. The biggest concern here is that there is no transparency when that word is used. Both chapstick and EOS used this word. While most of the ingredients in EOS brand are on the low end of the concern spectrum, depending on which of the lip balms you chose, you may get a dose of fragrance as well which is likely part of the allure of the product. The least these makers could do is be transparent about what the “fragrance” is so that those with sensitivities can avoid products that may contain them.

Parabens such as propylparaben and methylparaben are suspected endocrine disruptors and are added to products for their preservative qualities. This is what gives many commercially available products including food their longer shelf life. There have been numerous studies that compare the effects of parabens to natural estradiol and determined that parabens can be used within a margin of safety (MOS).
Examples of effects from endocrine disruption can be birth defects, developmental defects, and tumors. While use of parabens has been deemed safe under “specific margins of safety”, it is difficult to determine what the effects might be when when we layer product after product onto ourselves each with the minimal amount of any given number of parabens or paraben derivative products added “within the margin of safety.”

According to Kavlock from the EPA, ‘Such effects may have an endocrine-related basis, which has led to speculation about the possibility that these endocrine effects may have environmental causes. However, considerable scientific uncertainty remains regarding the actual causes of such effects. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that small disturbances in endocrine function, particularly during certain highly sensitive stages of the life cycle (e.g., development, pregnancy, lactation) can lead to profound and lasting effects’ (Kavlock et al., 1996. EPA, 1997).

Oxybenzone is used as a penetration enhancer and allow ingredients to absorb into the skin more quickly. EWG sites a study by Hanson KM, Gratton E, and Bardeen CJ in 2006 which states that oxybenzone produces excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, lead to cell death and may be implicated in cardiovascular disease. There is another study cited that contradicts this. Other human case studies supported a concern that the ingredient may cause possible immune system or allergenic effects. In simple terms, the ingredient may cause a person to develop a more sensitive and reactive immune system.

http://www.chicagonow.com/shiny-side/2017/05/the-real-faces-of-autoimmune-disease/

The cumulative effect of ingredients such as these combined with our genetic predisposition may be a cause for the rise in autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, arthritis, lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome. A study in 2010 by Prof. Ehrenfeld singles out hairspray as well as lipstick as known occasional triggers. “Environmental pollution is also a cause for concern to those genetically predisposed to an autoimmune disease. Second-hand smoke, food chemicals or chemicals in the air, jet fuel fumes, UV exposure and other forms of environmental pollution are amongst the triggers considered to provoke the onset of autoimmune diseases. Industrial regions, particularly in Northern Europe and North America, still exhibit the highest rates of most autoimmune diseases. But on a much more local scale, Prof. Ehrenfeld also singles out hairspray as well as lipstick as known occasional triggers.”

‘…prevalence rates for some of these illnesses are rising for what Miller says must largely be environmental reasons. “Our gene sequences aren’t changing fast enough to account for the increases,” Miller says. “Yet our environment is—we’ve got 80,000 chemicals approved for use in commerce, but we know very little about their immune effects.’

The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption says there is strong evidence to support that octinoxate is an endocrine disruptor on humans as well as significant wildlife and environment disruption. One or more human case studies show possible photoallergic or allergenic effects and lastly, it has been shown to accumulate in people. Bioaccumulation alone makes this a problematic ingredient, due to the likely build up of these ingredients in wildlife as well as potentially in our food supplies.

There are other chemicals listed, but the main concerns have been covered with the exception of petroleum. Now, we all know that petroleum was used by most everyone in the U.S. as a salve for burns and scrapes and has been generally accepted as safe and is not bioaccumulative, however there are better options than substances derived from fossil fuels for our personal needs.

Lastly, each of the major brands insists on packaging in plastic due to its availability and shelf life potential. Plastics are another issue and even if they are recyclable, should be avoided since most times recyclable packaging still ends up in the land fill and I wonder about the release of micro plastics into the environment during production or during processing into recycled material. Beyond this there is potential for the plastic ingredients to leach into the product over time.

This would be an excessively long “rant” and pointless if positive options were not listed. Two are listed above in the table. Both are cruelty-free, packaged without plastic, sustainably produced, and the only ingredient that is not listed with a hazard of 1 by EWG is castor seed oil.

Tel Aviv University. “Arthritis: Environmental exposure to hairspray, lipstick, pollution, can trigger autoimmune diseases.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100125123231.htm (accessed December 18, 2019).

Source: Autoimmune Disease Rates Increasing

Source: Trigger for autoimmune disease identified: Newly identified cells help explain why women suffer autoimmune disease more often — ScienceDaily

Source: Questions Persist: Environmental Factors in Autoimmune Disease

Source: Long-Term Effects of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Reproductive Physiology and Behavior

Source: What is Endocrine Disruption? | Endocrine Disruption | US EPA

Federal Toxmap Shutters, Raising the Ire of Pollution Researchers

December 16, 2019 by Michael Schulson

Fifteen years ago, the U.S. National Library of Medicine launched Toxmap, a free, interactive online application that combines pollution data from at least a dozen U.S. government sources. A Toxmap user could pan and zoom across a map of the United States sprinkled with thousands of blue and red dots, with each blue dot representing a factory, coal-fired power plant, or other facility that has released certain toxic chemicals into the environment, and each red dot marking a Superfund program site — “some of the nation’s most contaminated land,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Toxmap allowed users to pull up detailed EPA data for each toxic release site, and to overlay other information, such as mortality statistics, onto those maps. And it’s precisely those capabilities that earned Toxmap a devoted following among researchers, students, activists, and other people keen to identify sources of pollution in their communities.

Those capabilities appear to no longer be available to the public.

Earlier this year, with little explanation, the NLM announced that it would be “retiring” the Toxmap website on Dec. 16, 2019. The library did not respond directly to queries on Monday about what was meant by “retiring,” but by Tuesday morning, the Toxmap website had been taken down and visitors to the former URL were met with a message acknowledging the closure and pointing visitors to other potential sources of information. (An archived version of the old Toxmap landing page is preserved at the Internet Archive.) The decision to sunset the application has upset some of Toxmap’s most loyal users and raised concerns among environmental data advocates, who say that Toxmap’s demise would inhibit reliable public access to essential data about environmental hazards.

“I think it’s really sad that they’re getting rid of this,” said Claudia Persico, an environmental policy scholar at American University who studies the impact of pollution on children’s health, and who uses Toxmap in her research. That sentiment was shared by Chris Sellers, an environmental historian at Stony Brook University and a member of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), which monitors federal environmental data sources and advocates for greater public access. “It was stunning to me that the National Library of Medicine is actually retiring this pretty essential tool for our environmental right-to-know.”

NLM has offered only brief explanations for its decision. In a statement to Undark, NLM communications staff wrote that, in order to meet the goals of a new strategic plan, the Library “had to make some difficult organizational changes,” adding that “selected Toxmap data” could be found scattered among nine other U.S. and Canadian government websites. (The map includes data from Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory.) “Part of the decision was prompted by the increasing availability of the underlying data from their original sources,” NLM added. “Many sources such as the EPA, among others, offer several products that provide similar geographic information system (GIS) functionality.”

In particular, the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) site allows people to enter a zip code and view nearby pollution sources, along with some data about their toxic releases.

But those alternatives, researchers say, simply do not offer the same scope and simplicity as Toxmap. “Because this information has gotten so complex, and there’s so much of it, it’s very difficult for someone who’s not really trained in the area to navigate it,” said Sellers. “This tool actually cut through all the jargon, all the different interfaces that EPA, for instance, puts up before you get to the actual data that you’re interested in.”

Data-sharing tools like Toxmap have their roots in the 1980s, when a toxic gas leak at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killed thousands of people. (Estimates range from 2,200 victims to more than 10,000.) In response to the Bhopal disaster, lawmakers in the United States called for legislation that would give Americans information about potential toxin sources in their communities, under a principle called “right-to-know.” The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, passed in 1986, required companies using certain hazardous chemicals to report that information to the EPA, and for the EPA to make that information available to the public.

Much of that data came to form the backbone of Toxmap, which was launched in 2004 by the NLM, part of the National Institutes of Health. While this data was available in other formats, the NLM tool brought it together in one place and made it accessible to the general public. From the start, the tool “was developed to be easy to navigate and to understand,” a group of NLM affiliates wrote in a 2014 paper marking Toxmap’s 10th anniversary.

Since then, Toxmap has been used for everything from student projects to figures in academic papers. “It’s a great resource for teaching students,” said Sara Wylie, a science and technology studies scholar at Northeastern University and a cofounder of EDGI. Wylie uses Toxmap in her environment, technology, and society class. Among other things, she told Undark, the tool offers a vivid demonstration for students of how widespread toxic releases are in the U.S. The dots on Toxmap cluster around major cities, forming dense agglomerations in the country’s most populated corridors. They speckle quiet suburban neighborhoods, trail out along interstate highways, and dot the rural West. “It’s always shocking for students to find out that there are emissions happening near them, to see the complexity of them, and so it’s a pretty unique resource.”

Persico said she has found the tool helpful for research. “Being able to go to a place and actually see what the geographic landscape looks like, of the dispersion of pollution,” she noted, “is really, really valuable.” She uses the tool to visualize toxin sources and to generate figures for papers and for presentations. A new scientific paper she has pending publication in a journal, for example, uses Toxmap to show how EPA registered sites in Florida line up with population density statistics.

In 2018, the NLM launched a major update to Toxmap. But then, earlier this year, the Library announced that it would be shuttering the Toxicology Data Network, or Toxnet, the database collection that includes Toxmap. Many of its components would migrate to other NLM sites. But Toxmap, the organization announced, would be retired.

When asked about the concerns of researchers and other Toxmap devotees, as well as for more information about the upkeep cost and usage rate of Toxmap, the National Library of Medicine declined to answer questions, saying only in an email message: “We are not scheduling interviews regarding the sunsetting of Toxmap.”

This dearth of information has contributed to suspicions that the demise of Toxmap may have political motivations. “I hope people will understand what’s happening out there, that the government is gradually cutting off these very valuable tools that are really essential to our democracy,” said Sellers, citing trends under the Trump administration that include a reduction of mentions of climate change on EPA websites, and an administration effort to restrict the health data that can be used to inform government regulations.

Members of the public, he added, “have a right to know what chemicals are being released and stored, that are potentially dangerous, next door.”

Political suspicions aside, there is little evidence that Toxmap’s demise serves some higher political agenda — and indeed, leadership of the National Library of Medicine, including its director Patricia Flatley Brennan, predate the Trump administration. And in an email response to questions that arrived Tuesday afternoon, the library said that “the decision to retire the site was made by NLM, and not by the administration.” Still, the site’s closing does highlight that, more than 30 years after the passage of federal environmental right-to-know legislation, and more than 30 years into the internet era, finding simple, accessible, easy-to-use presentations of reliable pollution data can be difficult, if not impossible. Tools like Toxmap, Wylie said, could be clunky — even if they are, as she put it, “the best we’ve got right now.”

And yet the site’s basic principle — an interactive map, with toxic release sites clearly labeled, extensive health and demographic data ready for overlay, and extensive government data available at the click of a mouse — had a clear appeal. Asked what her ideal-world toxic data platform would look like, Persico laughed.

“Honestly,” she said, “I would build something like Toxmap.”


UPDATES: This story has been edited to reflect the actual removal of the Toxmap website, which was still available at first publication, and to add a response from the National Library of Medicine to the suggestion by some researchers that Toxmap was closed for political reasons. Undark may add further updates as additional information becomes available.

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.

For purposes of preservation here is the original site url list for alternative sources for data previously consolidated and available on Toxmap.

Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors

Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors

There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones.

Sun Protection 101- What you need to know about the ingredients in your Sun Protection Product

There’s been a lot of discussion lately as to terminology for sun protection products. I saw a news broadcast the other day where the news anchors all discussed what terms were currently in use today. The question posed was what term do you use to refer to your sun protection product. The three options given were Tan Lotion, Sun Screen and Sun Block. This type of discussion trivializes the importance of understanding the risks of sun exposure as well as the risks of the products used to mitigate sun exposure. What they did not seem to realize was that these three terms do not refer to the same thing and are not simply a colloquialism indicating the times.

Suntan lotion is a generic term that was used when the sun protection products such as Coppertone were marketed. It refers to a lotion with a small SPF measure usually no more than 8, often times closer to 2, that is used to block UVB rays, but not UVA. The intent is to moisturize the skin and allow a longer amount of time in the sun before burning.

Sunscreen is a chemical product that penetrates into the skin and absorbs UVA rays. UVA rays are responsible for oxidation and skin damage, but do not cause a sunburn.

Sunblock is a physical barrier that shields against UV rays including UVA and UVB. The FDA no longer allows the term to be used commercially as it can be misconstrued to cause the user to believe they are getting more protection than they actually are.

A small explanation about UV. There are three kinds of UV (ultraviolet) light that comes from the sun. UVA has longer wavelengths and penetrates further into the dermis which is why it can cause DNA damage. UVB has shorter wavelengths and is responsible for sunburns. UVC has an even shorter wavelength, but is absorbed by our ozone layer so is not a cause for concern.

The types of chemical sunscreens are octyl methoxycinnamate also known as octinoxide, octyl salicylate aka octisalate and octocrylene. According to the Environmental Working Group all of these have potential issues with endocrine disruption, bioaccumulation, and are allergenic. While it has been known for some time that these ingredients may have potential impacts as endocrine disruptors or allergens, it was not known that they are persisting in the skin longer than just during general use.

Since we are all becoming more aware of the risks of skin cancer due to sun exposure on a daily basis people are using these these products on a daily basis instead of just during longer durations of exposure. The persistence of these chemicals in our systems is more like a few weeks and the impact of these chemicals was likely not assessed for this type of exposure. Because of this we should all be cautious.

The most widely known physical sunblocks are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are widely used and can generally be recognized by the whitish cast left on the skin. This is because they sit on top of the skin rather than penetrating. While these are more effective in preventing skin damage from UVB rays they are less popular due to the heavier nature of the product. Manufacturers are getting better at formulating this in a lighter consistency.

According to a 1997 study conducted by the Federation of European Biochemical Societies titanium dioxide (TiO2) absorbs about 70% of incident UV, and in aqueous environments this leads to the generation of hydroxyl radicals which can initiate oxidations. These oxidations are known as free radicals. “Free radicals seek to bond with other molecules, but in the process, they can damage cells or the DNA contained within those cells. This in turn could increase the risk of skin cancer.”

These studies have shown that in shorter duration these physical sunblocks are effective but in longer duration there is potential for them to oxidize and release free radicals. Free radicals are the bane of our skin’s existence by causing damage to the skin’s ability to function normally which in turn cause premature aging and inflammation and potentially cancer.

So what is a person supposed to do? Ultimately we should all avoid spending longer amounts of time in direct sun. Shade is an effective way to avoid getting burned, but it is not able to prevent all sun damage. This is because the sun’s rays get reflected off of surfaces which means you are still getting UV indirect exposure and potentially oxidation.

Can we feel confident just finding a tree to hide under? Not really. “Factors that increase the amount of scattered or indirect UVB, such as reflective surfaces, will decrease the protection trees can provide. The same tree actually gives less protection earlier and later in the day, when the proportion of diffuse UV is high, than it does in the middle of the day when the sun is more directly overhead. Similarly, someone sitting under a tree on a sunny day with little indirect UV is better protected than someone sitting under the same tree on a cloudy day, when there is more indirect sunlight.15 However, any tree cover is better than none.” (Skincancer.org)

Since we all live in the real world and can’t always plan the time of day or the type of tree, we seek shade from, we should seek to mitigate the risk of exposure by pairing the sunblock products with antioxidants.

Antioxidants counteract free radicals because they’re essentially “self-sacrificing soldiers.” … they donate an electron to free radicals to “calm” them down and are consumed in the process. (Dr. Axe)

There are many antioxidants, but some of the most widely used and stable are carrot seed oil, vitamin E, vitamin C, grape seed which includes both vitamins E and C. Vitamin C is also an effective collagen booster which is why you will find it used in many facial serums.

Many sunblock products formulated today have already taken these steps and included carrot seed oil, myrrh, lemongrass, lavender, chamomile…

Please feel free to check out some of my hand-picked sun protection products.

https://www.earthlybeauty.com/sun-exposure

Source: If You Can See Sunlight, Seek the Shade – SkinCancer.org

Source: Chemical oxidation and DNA damage catalysed by inorganic sunscreen ingredients – Dunford – 1997 – FEBS Letters – Wiley Online Library

Source: Sunscreen Chemicals Soak All the Way Into Your Bloodstream | WIRED

Source: Causes of Aging Skin: Free Radical Damage

Source: Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin AgingSource: OncoSec – Sunscreen vs. Sunblock, What’s the Difference?

Source: 9 Antioxidants That Can Help Prevent Premature Skin Aging | HuffPost Life

Source: Chemical oxidation and DNA damage catalysed by inorganic sunscreen ingredients – Dunford – 1997 – FEBS Letters – Wiley Online Library

Source: UVA radiation damages DNA in human melanocyte skin cells and can lead to melanoma — ScienceDaily

Source: Sunscreen ingredient may increase skin cancer risk -- ScienceDaily

Source: Sunscreen vs. Sunblock – There’s A Difference | The Block Island Organics Blog

Source: UVA radiation damages DNA in human melanocyte skin cells and can lead to melanoma — ScienceDaily

Source: Fighting Free Radicals & Free Radical Damage – Dr. Axe

Source: 10 Pre-Sunscreen Methods for Dealing with the Sun | Mental Floss

Source: From Ancient Greece to Modern Times: A History of Sunscreen

Source: Photosensitization of the Sunscreen Octyl p‐Dimethylaminobenzoate by UVA in Human Melanocytes but not in Keratinocytes¶ – Xu – 2001 – Photochemistry and Photobiology – Wiley Online Library

Source: An in vitro systematic spectroscopic examination of the photostabilities of a random set of commercial sunscreen lotions and their chemical UVB/UVA active agents – Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences (RSC Publishing)

Source: Photosensitization of Guanine-Specific DNA Damage by 2-Phenylbenzimidazole and the Sunscreen Agent 2-Phenylbenzimidazole-5-sulfonic Acid – Chemical Research in Toxicology (ACS Publications)

Source: Characterization of DNA Damage Inflicted by Free Radicals from a Mutagenic Sunscreen Ingredient and Its Location Using an in vitro Genetic Reversion Assay – McHugh – 1997 – Photochemistry and Photobiology – Wiley Online Library

Source: A Review of Sunscreen Safety and Efficacy – Gasparro – 1998 – Photochemistry and Photobiology – Wiley Online Library

Source: Photochemical behavior of nanoscale TiO2 and ZnO sunscreen ingredients – ScienceDirect

Source: Effective sunscreen ingredients and cutaneous irritation in patients with rosacea. – Abstract – Europe PMC

Source: Microfine Zinc Oxide is a Superior Sunscreen Ingredient to Microfine Titanium Dioxide – Pinnell – 2000 – Dermatologic Surgery – Wiley Online Library

Source: Performance of Six Sunscreen Formulations on Human Skin: A Comparison | JAMA Dermatology | JAMA Network

Source: Photochemical Formation of Singlet Molecular Oxygen in Illuminated Aqueous Solutions of Several Commercially Available Sunscreen Active Ingredients – Chemical Research in Toxicology (ACS Publications)

Source: Development of assays for the detection of photomutagenicity of chemicals during exposure to UV light. II. Results of testing three sunscreen ingredients | Mutagenesis | Oxford AcademicSource: Sunscreen May Not Have It Made in the Shade | Flashback | OZY

White Rabbit Symbolic Meaning

As we approach Easter week-end I thought it might be interesting to explore the symbolism of the rabbit.

According to Shaman Quornesha S. Lemon if “the white rabbit appears in your dreams, waking life, synchronicity, or other it means that you will experience very positive events that feel like an empowering turning point in regards to your luck or chance. You will experience blessings of many kinds.

The white rabbit appears as a sign that life will be all the more beautiful from here. It is also an interpretation that you will begin chapters anew in your life. If you are closing a door this is confirmation that you need to make these changes. The animal kingdom reminds you at this time that however you see yourself…the world will follow your lead. Know that you are safe and protected and loved deeply beyond measure.

The White rabbit represents the hollow. And hollow defines emptiness and the opportunity to be filled. If you are furthering your own spirituality at this time, you will have the support. If you are delving into the unknown through fear with inner courage you are being commended. Do not fear the changes you are making dear one. The rabbit reminds you to step forward through your fears, as you will begin to experience the mystical, metaphysical and supernatural aspects even more, now or in the coming times.”

I was interested in this today as I was reading Old Factory’s story of Parousia in which the White Rabbit is the first chapter of the story and illustrates following the voice within to destiny. Old Factory says that

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“The White Rabbit is Parousia’s power animal. A swift pure messenger who seems to have always been there guiding us forward into the Great Unknown. A modern day archetype. A cross between Neo’s,  Carrolls, Dr. Gonzo’s and the white rabbit of Chinese mythology (did you know that ancient Chinese describes a white rabbit who mixes the elixir of immortality for the gods on the moon? This is what they saw instead of a “Man in the Moon”.)”

Aside from the esoterism of Old Factory’s white rabbit references, I like the symbolism as it involves finding courage through your inner fear and moving forward. This is likely the reason it became a symbol for Easter.

Where Did the Name Easter Come From?

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Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts. Image: Public Domain.

Historic Mysteries says that the Saxon mother goddess, Eostre is known to bring new life and the dawn goddess Ostara represented fertility and rebirth.  Is is likely that the name Easter evolved from a combination of these pagan goddesses and was eventually applied to the Christian traditions.

The message of the white rabbit applies to me personally in my new venture, but I would guess it also applies to many of you in different turning points of your lives.  Whether it be a new job, a new baby or family, or just trying something extraordinary for yourself. Expanding your world with new experiences, new connections, and new rituals can be exhilerating and scary but also fulfilling and rewarding.

I would recommend to everyone to find something that speaks to you and make it happen.

Source: White Rabbit Symbolic Meaning – Whispers, Channels, Prophecies & Visions

Source: Pagan Easter: Where Did the Modern Tradition Really Originate? | Historic Mysteries

White Rabbit perfume, bath salt and soap available at Earthly Beauty

California Poppy – Side Effects and Benefits

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Do you remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz, when the Wicked Witch of the West put poppies in the path of Dorothy and the gang?  They all fell asleep.  This is something that doesn’t just work in the movies, but you would not be accusedof being wicked if you used a similar technique.  They may even consider you to be closer to Glinda, the Good Witch.

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According to Herbal Supplement Resource, there are therapeutic effects of the California Poppy or Eschscholzia californica.  These are different than the opium poppies, Papaver somniferum shown in the movie.  There is no opium in the California Poppy, but there are sedative, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties.  Because of these properties, tinctures of these flowers have been used to treat conditions including insomnia, bedwetting (incontinence), anxiety and nervous tension, according to Herbal Supplement Resource.

They also note that it can be used to treat behavioral disorders such as ADD, ADHD in children and young adults as well as used to improve intellectual capacity, memory, and concentration in the elderly.

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Available for 20% off using promo code CalmKid20 at checkout at EarthlyBeauty.com

This plant is considered child safe and based on normal intake levels there are no known side effects from using this herb, though it  is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as it could suppress lactation.

Webmd.com as well as RXlist.com note that there is developing research which suggests that the “California poppy, in combination with magnesium and hawthorn, might be useful in treating mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders. This combination product, called Sympathyl, is not available in the US.”

Fat and the Moon have created Calm Kid Mist which has the California Poppy tincture as one of its ingredients.

Their instructions are to mist on pillows for night time peace and around an agitated kiddo. Fat and the Moon caution that it is “not intended as a mace for kids- don’t directly spray in your little dude or dudettes face! (I’m saying it, cause I’ve seen it happen!)”

They instruct to “Spray above the frustrated tike and let the plants attributes rain down.”

This mist is available at EarthlyBeauty.com.  If you use CalmKid20 at check-out you will receive 20% off this product.  If you have experience with this product, please let us know in the comments section either on this post, or on the Calm Kid product page.  It would be greatly appreciated.

Source: California Poppy – Side Effects and Benefits

Sourace: WebMD_CaliforniaPoppy

Source: DIY California Poppy Tincture | The Ecology Center

Source: California Poppy Effectiveness, Safety, and Drug Interactions on RxList

Carrot Seed Oil Uses and Benefits for Your Skin

Carrot seed oil, or daucus carota has characteristics that make it a good addition to your skin care regimen.  It is included in many high quality botanical based products already.

While this ingredient has great potential for positive effects, it is also lauded for some that may not be quite accurate.

First let’s ensure we understand what it is that is being discussed.  Carrot seed oil is not the same as carrot oil.

There are four types of “carrot oil”:

  • carrot seed essential oil – a concentrated essential oil got through steam distillation of carrot seeds from the plant Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace).
  • carrot seed carrier oil – a carrier oil (or vegetable oil) got through cold pressing of carrot seeds of Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace).
  • wild carrot carrier oil or carrot root oil – infusing wild carrot root from the plant Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace) in vegetable oil for a number of weeks, then strained to get the infused oil.
  • ‘domestic’ carrot oil – produced at home by infusing domestic carrot (the orange one we all know) from the plant Daucus carota subsp. sativus.

** Definitions provided by Beauty Munsta

Carrot seed essential oil would be considered the oil that has the most densely concentrated phytonutrients.  While the other oils are also considered beneficial they are generally best used as a carrier oil instead of a key ingredient.

Notice in the definitions above that the ‘domestic’ carrot oil is distinguised by the subspecies sativus.  According to The Carrot Museum in the UK, “Both the wild and the cultivated carrots belong to the species Daucus carota. Wild carrot is distinguished by the name Daucus carota, Carota, whereas domesticated carrot belongs to  Daucus carota, sativus.”  Queen Anne’s Lace originated on the Iranian Plateau (an area which now includes Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran).  One cool fact is that the plateau is home of the Damarand Peak which is listed as #22 of the World Country High Points and is one of the Seven Volcanic Summits according to PeakBagger.com.  It was initially introduced as a medicinal herb and later domesticated as a food.

The two plants are sexually compatible, and can be cross bred, however if you pull up the root, you will see an obvious difference in the structure as the wild variety is very fibrous.  The domesticated variety has been bred to be smoother and less bitter.

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Carrot seed oil has been added to skin care products with claims of adding moisture, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and brightening the complexion.  Which of these claims are accurate is up for debate, but there are peer reviewed studies which do show important benefits.

Powerful Antioxidant

Like many oils and essential oils, carrot seed oil contains powerful antioxidants that can help to protect against disease. (Food Chemistry Volume 91, Issue 4, August 2005, Pages 723-729)

An antioxidant is a substance that helps protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are made during normal cell metabolism (chemical changes that take place in a cell).  They are electrically charged molecules in the cells, that can react with other molecules (like DNA) and damage them.

They can even form chain reactions, where the molecules they damage also turn into free radicals.

This is where antioxidants come in… if a molecule loses an electron and turns into a free radical, the antioxidant molecule steps in and “gives” the free radical an electron, effectively neutralizing it. Antioxidants Explained in Human Terms

This does not mean that we should aim to remove all free radicals from our systems.  Free radicals are also used to kill harmful bacteria in our systems.  It is about having balance of free radicals and antioxidants.

According to OrganicFacts.net, when externally applied, carrot seed oil can cure infections on the skin and in open wounds. It is extremely effective in curing sores, gangrene, psoriasis, ulcers, rashes, carbuncles, and other such problems.

There are a number of sources such as Healthsite.com that claim carrot seed essential oil stimulates the growth of new cells and tissues.  Though I found no scientific articles supporting this, it is likely possible due to the antioxidant effects as well as its ability to ward off skin infections that would otherwise take the energy away from producing new cells.

An animal study was conducted to investigate the effect of carrot seed oil on skin cancer (namely, squamous cell carcinoma) in rats and found it to be particularly potent. Topical treatment was shown to delay tumor appearance on these rats.

It also may be an effective treatment for some forms of acne.  This makes sense as it has been shown to have an antibacterial and antifungal effect.  Some acne is known to be caused by bacteria.   Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) is the relatively slow-growing, typically aerotolerant anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium (rod).  But there is another less known cause of skin eruptions that is often also diagnosed as acne.

Pityrosporum is a type of yeast that is naturally occuring on the skin.  In the case that the normal balance of the skin is disrupted, an overgrowth of this organism can result in a condition known as pityrosporum folliculitis. The yeast overgrowth may be encouraged by external factors and/or by reduced resistance on the part of the host.

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, “the reasons why a particular patient develops pityrosporum folliculitis are not fully understood but the following are believed to be important: “

  • The yeast favors hot, humid, sweaty environments.  Wearing fabrics that trap moisture are conducive to setting up these conditions.
  • Application of greasy sunscreens and oily emollients such as coconut oil.
  • An oily-skin tendency – the yeast feeds on skin oil.
  • Decreased resistance to microorganisms (immunity).
  • Stress or fatigue.
  • Diabetes.
  • Oral steroids such as prednisone.
  • Oral contraceptive pill.
  • Being overweight, resulting in more sweating and tighter clothing.

I am not a doctor nor am I advocating any specific treatment for either acne or pityrosporum folliculitis, but I do speculate that it is possible for carrot seed oil to be of benefit for these conditions due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which may help to balance out the oil production and immune response.  It is also likely to be an effective treatment for rosacea due to its anti-inflammatory effects.

There have been claims that carrot seed oil as well as other essential oils have great SPF or Sun Protection Factor ability.  I have not seen any credible evidence that this is true.  Most of the reports cite a 2009 article that found an SPF factor of 38 – 40, however I would not call this article as a credible source.  To my knowledge, it has not been peer reviewed.  If it had, the methods would have been questioned due to the fact that the other ingredients that were in the mixture that was tested would have to have been identified and analyzed individually to determine each ingredients’ SPF.

That is not to say that carrot seed oil is not useful for sun protection.  While I doubt it offers much in the SPF realm, it may offer support to the skin in combating the free radicals that occur due to sun exposure.

Below is a table of herbal plants and their role in photo protection from the Indo Americal Journal of Pharmaceutical Research from 2014.  Among many active agents listed,  Apigenin is listed for its prevention of UVA and UVB skin carcinogenesis.   Apigenin is a compound present in carrot seed oil.  According to this paper, the carrot is the “most important root vegetable plant in the world.”  The constituents included in the UV protective nature of the carrot.  They specifically mention “campesterol which effectively enhance body’s immune response to U.V radiation, nourishes, rejuvenate skin and shows cytotoxicity against mutagens”

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In short, the compounds found in carrot seed oil are effective in repairing damage to the skin caused by the sun or other factors.  It is not recommended, however as a sun protection to replace sunblocks.  A responsible company may include it in their formulation for anti-aging, or cellular repair.  It is not the only effective ingredient but should not be ignored.

As I believe sun protection to be a very important aspect of skin care, it would be thoughtless of me to not include some good options from the Earthly Beauty collection.

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Graydon Elements

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Blissoma Amend

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VIVIAODAYS Sunscreen

Source: Carrot Seed Oil Uses and Benefits | GuruNanda

Source: Carrot Seed Oil Skin Care Uses + Other Benefits – Dr. Axe

Source: Top 10 Benefits of Carrot Seed Essential Oil | Organic Facts

Source: Natural Oil Sunscreens: What You Need to Know & Badger Balm for Fool Proof Sun Protection – Living Pretty, Naturally

Source: Queen Anne’s Lace – The Wild Carrot

Source: Antioxidant properties of cold-pressed black caraway, carrot, cranberry, and hemp seed oils – ScienceDirect

Source: Definition of free radical scavenger – NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms – National Cancer Institute

Source: Antioxidants Explained in Human Terms

Source: Definition of free radical scavenger – NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms – National Cancer Institute

Source: Health benefits of carrot seed essential oil | TheHealthSite.com

Source: Chemopreventive effects of wild carrot oil against 7,12-dimethyl benz(a)anthracene-induced squamous cell carcinoma in mice. – PubMed – NCBI

Source: Pityrosporum Folliculitis – American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD)

Source:  Research Gate Prakash_Kendr

Source: Can Raspberry and Carrot seed oils really protect your skin from the s – MASLA Skincare