Hormone Disruptors

Hormones comprise the communication network of the body. They regulate temperature, glucose assimilation, calcium uptake, bone mass, water metabolism, immune and digestive systems, weight, and energy, to name just a few of their functions. If your hormones aren’t working properly its like having your internet and phone connections malfunction. It initially causes little problems which can grow into big problems. Many times mystifying, multiple symptoms, that can be anything from annoying to life disrupting, necessitate addressing the endocrine system to enable the body’s hormones to get back on track.

The endocrine system includes the adrenal glands, thyroid gland, pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, and parathyroid gland. These all secrete hormones. Though, most organs and tissues can secrete some hormones as needed. If damaged, organs and tissues secret hormones to initiate an inflammatory response. Fat cells secrete the hormone estrogen.

You might think of your body as a large and complex organization, and the glands of the endocrine system as heads of various departments. They all have specific responsibilities to keep the organization running at optimal efficiency. So they send hormones which are like emails, texts, phone calls, and letters, to the heads of other departments: the glands, as well as to the other working members of the organization: the organs and tissues. The blood is the transportation system of this communication.

But, in this modern day we have hackers, mail fraud, and storms or accidents that destroy phone lines and cell towers that interfere with these various forms of communication, just like Hormone Disruptors do in your body. So to avoid having to come to see someone like me, after things have crashed, what can you do to help your hormones stay fully functional?

The major assault on your hormones are chemicals. Pesticides, herbicides, car exhaust, soaps, chemicals in foods and drinks, products used on dishes, clothes, toiletries, cleaning products, air fresheners, plastics that we buy or store food in, and perfumes can disrupt your hormones.

We now live in a world so saturated with chemicals there’s no place on the planet to avoid them. Even the air on Mount Everest tests positive for chemical compounds.

I just had a friend, a gardening guru, share the history of herbicides with me. They were developed during WWII for defoliating areas where enemies might find cover. After the war there was a huge supply of these chemicals, but no longer any demand. So chemical companies created one. Lawns used to be a mixture of grass and other plants, clover, dandelions, and other low ground cover. Advertising made it desirable to have lawns with just grass. Suddenly it was popular to spread poison on your lawn, even socially unacceptable not to. Use it on your lawn and you’re not just walking on it, you’re breathing it every time moister and heat release more into the air.

After WWII pesticides became the answer to controlling bugs that ate crops and invaded houses. Many that were banned here, after being directly linked to major health issues, are still used on crops in other countries, and then imported to the US. But even pesticides and herbicides approved for use in the US create havoc for hormones. An oil base, also harmful to our bodies, is necessary so rain doesn’t wash it off. Before selling, crops are rinsed with cold water, which does little to remove oil based chemicals.

Many GMO crops are now created to be “Round Up Ready”. This means at harvest time crops are sprayed with the herbicide Round Up. The leaves and stems wither and die, making it easier to collect the crops.

Chemicals in food and drinks became the answer to extending the shelf life for foods products sold in groceries and restaurants, especially fast food. Some corporations put addictive chemicals in their processed foods to boost sales. An example is artificial sweeteners which are highly addictive. When used in small enough amounts the FDA doesn’t require these substances to be listed under the ingredients on packaging. But minute amounts add up, especially when eating numerous products that contain small amounts of toxins. Fast food can be the worst, since they aren’t required to list ingredients. In some cases the list of chemicals used in fast foods wouldn’t even fit on the packaging.

Any chemicals you eat, drink, apply to your skin, use in your home or your yard, can adversely affect your health.

Obviously, some people are more vulnerable than others. It depends on your genetics, what toxic substances you’ve been exposed to in your life, how much you exercise, your digestive and immune systems, which all help determine how efficiently your body detoxifies.

There’s an increasing number of people with chemical and scent sensitivities. More public places now have scent free zones. But often people don’t have a clue what that means. “I’m not wearing any scents,” they claim because they didn’t knowingly apply cologne or perfume. But thanks to their shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, moisturizer, deodorant, laundry detergent, fabric softeners, and the perfumes in each of them, they reek so strongly you can smell them coming, and hours after they leave. They’re adversely effecting their health as well as those around them. In crowded places like concerts, movie theaters, or plays one highly aromatic individual can ruin not only the performance for those sitting adjacent, but set off days of health issues for more chemically sensitive people. Just wearing perfume, cologne, or even essential oils to crowded places can now cause a major problem, since chemical insensitivity can lead to difficulty with any strong scents, natural or otherwise.

Let’s talk about antiperspirants. What stops the perspiration is aluminum. Aluminum is a metal. Applied to the body it is absorbed through the skin. Shaving under the arms and then applying this toxic substance increases the absorption. Natural, chemical free, deodorants are a healthier choice. Eating clean, organic food, including a wide range of vegetables three times per day, and staying as chemical free as possible, can prevent undesirable body odor, since one of the ways the body has to detoxify is through the skin. If you’re eating chemicals, it can make you stink. Just walk around a gym after lunch time. You can usually tell, just by your nose, who had fast food for lunch, or even just meats that aren’t organic or clean enough free range. If you sweat too easily, your body is out of balance. A good Acupuncturist can help with that. But if you are eating clean food and staying as chemical free as possible your sweat shouldn’t reek. If it still does there are issues with your body that need to be addressed.

Food containers can be another problem. Whenever possible try to buy food in glass containers, not plastic. Food, especially hot food, can absorb hormone disrupting chemicals from plastic.

Costco, Bi Mart and amazon.com all carry glass containers with sealable plastic lids for food storage. Wait for food to cool before putting the lid on.

Detoxifying foods like miso are a wonderful addition to the diet. Studies have shown that miso detoxifies radiation. But bought in plastic containers this wonderful food can absorb the chemicals in the plastic and cause more harm than good. There’s just one source of miso I know of that comes in glass containers, South River Miso. You can buy it online, but only in cooler months. There are no stores in the area that carry it, though if there was enough demand maybe, by the time it gets cool again, they will.

There’s no way, in our present world, to completely avoid exposure to chemicals. But there’s many ways to minimize it. Go to a Health Food Store and talk to the employees there about what they have available. Try to stay as scent free as possible in all your choices.

White vinegar in water is a great for cleaning windows, counters, and appliances. The vinegar smell dissipates quickly and leaves a fresh scent.

Baking soda is great for scrubbing burned areas on pots, pans, and range tops. It can be used for anything that you’d use cleanser for but it’s non-abrasive. It’s also gentle enough for teeth. Black tea or coffee stains the inside of cups and teeth. Baking soda is a great way to gently whiten both. It also helps freshen breath and can be used before, after or with a chemical free tooth paste. Baking soda can even be patted under the arms for a deodorant. Apply just out of the shower or moisten the area first so it sticks.

Olive or coconut oils are ancient and natural moisturizers. A small amount smoothed over the skin at the end of a shower, while the water is still running (though not on you) when the steam and heat are have opened your pores, permits the oil to absorb into the skin. Stepping out of the shower, the cold air closes the pores. You can then pat dry without feeling greasy, or sliming your towel. I keep a scrub brush in the shower to give the floor a once over while showering to keep oils from building up and making it slippery. A little scrubbing, in alternating areas, with the brush during each shower keeps the whole thing clean without using harsh chemicals. Olive and coconut oils can also be used to remove make up, which should also be chemical free.

Hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning mold. Spray when the shower is dry and let it do it’s thing. Scrub during your next shower, if needed. Spraying a shower and the inside of toilets before a trip prevents coming home to an overgrowth of mold.

For greasy stove tops and toilet bowls I use a product with lavender and tea tree oil. Though I use that more sparingly due to the scent.

Going chemical free may seem daunting. It’s a process. Don’t make yourself crazy and try to do it all at once. Just do the best you can and keep replacing what you use with chemical free products. Your hormones, and your body, will thank you for it.

Health & Happiness,
Nancy Burton, L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist)

Healthy Tips:

The farmers markets are up and running, Tuesday mornings at the Armory on East Main and Saturday mornings on Oak in Ashland. They’re fun places to get a wide variety of organic meats and vegetables, and try samples of new foods.

Pickled Planet, organic cultured vegetables, provides a huge selection for sampling at both markets. One tablespoon of organic cultured vegetables, three times per day, added as a seasoning to your food, or a shot of the brine, which can be mixed with water if too strong, is usually more effective and less expensive than probiotics.

Another discovery of local healthy options I happened upon is Dauenhauer Cattle. High quality, chemical free beef, just fed on chemical free grass. They offer prime cuts, organ meats, and hamburger, at great prices. Also chemical free, uncured sausage and hotdogs. A family run business, they aren’t yet at the markets, but you can give them a call at 541-531-6538 to see what they have available.

Bon Appetite !