Saturday, May 2, 2009

What is the SPF of Avocado Oil?

In the last post I wrote about avoiding sunburn. A while ago now, I came across interesting information that gave the SPF (sun protection factor) of some natural substances.

Avocado Oil - SPF 6- 8
Avocado oil was used by some ancient civilizations as a skin moisturizer. It is great for repairing body tissue and maintenance of healthy skin because it is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is a good antioxidant. It is absorbed easily by the skin and does not clog the pores.

Red Raspberry Seed Oil - SPF 28-50
Because it provides a lipid barrier, raspberry provides skin protection and helps the skin retain moisture. It is high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Shea Butter or African Karite Butter - SPF 6

Sesame Oil - SPF 4
Sesame oil is stable and has a good shelf life. In India it is used as a massage oil because it helps reduce skin aging. It soothes and softens the skin.

Vitamin C and the Sun
A researcher, Dr Williams, discovered that it is possible to gain some sun protection from making a 10% solution of vitamin C. Use pure ascorbate or ascorbic acid for this. Make a 10% solution of vitamin C powder and water. Spray it on your skin 10-15 minutes before going in the sun. Continue to apply it liberally while in the sun. I have used this myself. It does work but only if you keep reapplying it frequently. Dr Williams found that it also works to make the solution out of aloe vera gel.

These ideas may not remove the need for sunscreen on all occasions, but they are alternatives that may be suitable for some people in some situations. They certainly give some different ideas that you might feel are worth checking into.

Have fun


Tips to Avoid Sunburn

A change of topic today.
Some Ideas to Avoid Sunburn
  • Wear protective clothing - shady hat, long sleeved shirt etc. There are some nice UV protective shirts available now besides the rash shirts that children usually wear to the beach.
  • Stay out of the sun in the middle of the day. This may not be an issue in cool climates but in tropical/sub tropical areas if at all possible avoid the sun at that time, it is too easy to get burned then.
  • If you can't avoid long periods in the sun or the hottest time use a sunscreen. Be careful about what type of sunscreen you use. Many of them contain substances that, when absorbed by the skin, may be less than beneficial for our overall health. There are several brands available now that only contain natural substances. Please read the labels and gain an understanding of what the ingredients are.
  • Sunscreen needs to be applied about 20-30 minutes before going in the sun.
  • If you are swimming remember to reapply the sunscreen if you are going to still be in the sun.
  • If you are headed for a day of fun in the sun try to find a place that also has some shade. Or take your own shade with you e.g. beach umbrella or shade shelter.
That is about all the usual hints on avoiding sunburn. In the next post I will explore some other ideas that may help in both avoiding toxic substances on our skin and avoiding sunburn. Remember that to get some early morning sun, when you won't burn, on your skin is a good way of getting your vitamin D.

Stay safe in the sun


Thursday, April 30, 2009

20 of the 50 Plants To Purify Your Air

More on Plants and Air Quality

Last post I shared some more about plants improving air quality. A German study investigated what happened to things like formaldahyde after the plants removed it from the air. They wanted to know whether the plants stored the chemicals and whether they later re-released them back into the air.
What they found was that enzymes in the leaves of the plant break the toxins down into non-toxic components that the plant can use. It is a little like the way the human liver cleanses the body of toxins. The chemicals then move into the root system and the soil and micro-organisms break it down even further.

A Larger List of Plants
I came across the complete list of plants, from the NASA study, sourced from the original author.

Best plants that remove chemical vapors from indoor air.
  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata "Bostoniensis")
  • Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Florist's Mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
  • Gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii)
  • Kimberley Queen (Nephrolepis obliterata)
  • Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)
  • Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
  • Corn/Happy plant (Dracaena fragrans "Massangeana")
  • Dracaena "Janet Craig" (Dracaena deremensis "Janet Craig")
  • Schefflera/Umbrella Tree (Brassaia actinophylla)
  • Peace/Madonna Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
  • Dendrobium Orchid (Dendrobium sp.)
  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia "Exotica compacta")
  • Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii "Alii")
  • King of hearts (Homalomena wallisii)
  • Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
  • Lily turf (Liriope spicata)
Source: Dr. B. C. Wolverton, Eco-friendly house plants, 1996

Dr Wolverton wrote a book, "How to Grow Fresh Air :50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office". If you are interested in learning more about how to rid your air of toxins this could be a great read.

It is fantastic that there is such an easy, natural way to improve the air that we breathe. While plants are not the only thing that we might need to to to ensure that our indoor air is as good as it can be, it will certainly help in our efforts to improve our health.

Be healthy and happy


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Plants for Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality and Plants

Spider Plant
I thought I would give you with some pictures of some of the plants that help improve the quality of the air through removing toxins.
This first one, the spider plant, is one of my favourites. They are very common and easy to grow. That means that even if plants normally die on you this one will probably be okay. They don't mind much what conditions they have.

They are also known as Ribbon Plant or Airplane Plant

Aloe Vera

Not only will aloe vera, also known as Aloe Barbadensis, help improve your indoor air quality but it is useful for healing burns, bites and skin problems.

In the NASA studies of plants and air quality, they studied 19 different plants. They found to improve the air quality in a 1,800 square foot house, you need about 15-18 good sized plants in 6 to 8 inch diameter pots.


Chrysanthemum's, along with the bamboo palm, are good for eliminating benzene. These are out gassed from things such as perfumes, scented candles, plastic and washing powders.

The other flower that was tested was the gerbera. This is effective in reducing formaldehyde from the air.

Other plants beside the nineteen tested by NASA may be useful in this regard as well. However the tests did show that not all plants were equal. Some were better against some pollutants than others. So even if you are not a green thumb having indoor plants is good for your health.

I am the world's worst gardener and I have a bamboo palm that does quite well in my house even though the gardeners in my family have been telling me for two years that it desperately needs re potting. Ah well one day it might get done.

Be healthy and enjoy your house plants


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chemicals? Can We Reduce Our Exposure?

What can we do?
What are some of the ways that we can reduce the amount of chemicals we are exposed to?
Can we really do anything about it?
Yes and yes. There are solutions.
Being aware of which products have harmful chemicals in them is a good first step. Knowledge is power.
When we know which things are harmful and why we are in a much better position to find other products to use or other ways of doing things.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you get started in making some changes that will bring you a more chemical free and therefore healthier life.
  • Chlorine is in our water and many of us have a water filter for drinking water. What about the shower? In the confined space of a shower, the chlorine levels in the air can rise to dangerous levels. As well as this we can absorb quite a lot of chlorine through our skin. There are shower filters, which attach to the shower rose, that will eliminate these and other chlorine problems.
  • Paints. There are a variety of eco paints now with low or no VOC's. Some paints are entirely plant based. I recently came across recipes for home made paint. They use the unlikely ingredients of milk and lime. I believe it is important to get the ratios right or it will flake off. If you do use conventional paints make sure you are in a well ventilated area, and use a mask. Allow the painted area to ventilate well while it is off gassing.
  • Household cleaners. Save some money on this one. Choose plant based cleaners or even cheaper, white vinegar, bi carbonate of soda and lemon juice do a great job. A few drops of oil of cloves in water will get rid of mold.
  • Air Purifier. Using an air purifier can help to reduce the chemical load in the air. There are many things like flame retardants that can be in things from our clothes to our furniture. When everything in the house is new, including the house, it can take quite a while before everything has out gassed sufficiently.
  • Add indoor plants NASA has been looking at the ability of plants to help clean up the air quality for years. It is found that they can help in reducing chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. Which plants?
Aloe Vera: eliminates emissions from most toxic materials
English Ivy: petroleum based products
Fig trees: formaldehyde
Chrysanthemum: formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia
Spider plants: great for eliminating formaldehyde
Chinese evergreen, Bamboo palm and Lillies: many toxic materials
Gerbera daisies, philodendrons, golden pathos and snake plants are also useful.
  • Personal products Just to mention this one again. Many of them are full of chemicals that we would be horrified at the thought of putting on our skins.
That is enough of a list to start with.
Change can be difficult. It is better to make small changes that can be sustained rather than changing everything and then dropping it all and doing nothing in the long term.
Check out the things in your house. Which ones are contributing to your health and which are taking away from your health?
It takes a bit of time to find alternatives but it is worth it.

Be healthy


Monday, April 27, 2009

How Many Chemicals Did You Put On Your Skin today?

Our Skin
Our skin is a very important organ in our body. Through it we eliminate many toxins as we perspire. It acts as a protection to the body. It is also able to absorb many things that are placed on it.

When we realise the absorbency of the skin, it becomes obvious that we need to be careful what we put on it. If we use personal products that contain chemicals then those chemicals can find their way into the cells of our body.

It is amazing how many personal care products contain chemicals that are considered hazardous.
Because there are so many chemicals used, it is probably easier and safer to use only 100% natural products. That would save trying to know the names o,f and understand the problems associated with each chemical. In fact most personal care products are not required to list all of the ingredients on the labels, so it becomes difficult to know exactly what we are putting on our skin.

To give some idea of the scope of the problem there are more than 125 ingredients used on the skin that are possible carcinogens. 25 of them are associated with possible birth defects.
Reports show that hundreds of man made chemicals and residues have been found in breast milk and fat cells of people. No one really knows the extent of the health problems that these can cause.

Anything derived from petroleum is a dangerous substance to put on our skins. For example baby oil is mostly mineral oil which is made from petroleum. It can hinder the respiration of the skin and age it prematurely.
Even products like toothpaste, deodorants, body lotions and hair conditioners can contain chemicals like propylene glycol that can cause eye and skin irritation, headaches and nausea.

Find Natural Products
Now days there are a lot of different personal products available that are made entirely from natural products. It takes a bit of effort to search them out but it is worth it. Our health is very precious. It is a lot easier to stay healthy than to try to recover once illness has struck.

Stay healthy


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Are We Being Swamped in Chemicals ?


There is an increasing amount of chemicals in our day to day environment. It is surprising how many different ways we can be exposed to chemicals that we have no idea are there.

It could be beneficial to our health to take some steps to reduce the amount of chemicals that we are exposed to.

Here are some simple ways to do that:

  • Use a water purifier or filter. This will help to eliminate some of the chemicals that may be present.
  • Foods can have a lot of pesticides on them. If possible use organic fruits and vegetables. Alternatively wash them well in a weak vinegar solution.
  • Do not use artificial sweeteners. Use honey, agave nectar or rapadua. Rapadua is dehydrated sugar cane juice. Because water is all that has been taken out it has a low GI and does not give a rush of sugar to the blood stream.
  • Do not use aluminum pots for cooking or cook food in aluminum foil. Use glass, ceramic or stainless steel pots.
  • Avoid chemical cleaners in the house. Many common products are loaded with chemicals. Air fresheners, for example can contain formaldehyde. Using vinegar, bi carbonate of soda and lemon juice covers many cleaning jobs.
  • Floor coverings can be packed with chemicals. Vinyl or linoleum can be problematic as can carpets that are moth or stain resistant. Hard tiles and timber are some suggestions.
  • Polyester fabrics can contain formaldehyde. Natural fabrics such as cotton, wool and silk avoid this problem.
  • Moth balls or naphthalene are extremely dangerous and it can take years for it to break down and dissipate. Use essential oils like clove, mint or orange.

That will do for a start. There are many other things in our lives that can contribute to the huge amount of chemicals that we are exposed to. This small list will give a start to thinking about what there is in our environment that could be potentially harmful.

Giving some thought to how this can be reduced could help us to be healthier.

Be healthy