Woodford Files: Rethinking Sunscreen, Antiperspirant, and Insect Repellant – The Natural Alternatives

 As we charge headlong into the summer season, with flipflops slapping on the pavement and sunscreen oozing from our pores, we may want to re-evaluate our favourite summer routines. With new information emerging on the toxic hazards of many conventional products, it’s a good time to have another look at:

Sunscreen: The body is always hungry for the vitamin D created by sun exposure, which makes sunshine good medicine for every one of us. But it is also strong medicine, so excessive exposure must be avoided by being mindful of peak sun hours, wearing sunhats, and using umbrellas at the beach. Personally I avoid using sunscreen because it turns off the key indicator that I’ve been in the sun too long – sunburn! Sunscreen only blocks the UVB rays that burn skin; it doesn’t block the UVA rays that “penetrate deep into the body, accelerate skin aging, may suppress the immune system, and may cause skin cancer,” according to the Environmental Working Group. In fact, EWG has just released its ‘Sunscreen Hall of Shame’ listing products that contain toxic ingredients like oxybenzone.  (www.ewg.org)

Insect repellant: Avoid the DEET-based varieties (see story on page 86). There are lots of great natural alternatives, including neem, catnip, and eucalyptus oils.

Antiperspirant: Sweating is one of the most important ways that the body cleanses and detoxifies itself. Any product that works to block this process is also blocking the body’s attempt to eliminate toxins. According to Dr. Sat Dharam Kaur, ND, “The skin is a major organ of detoxification and we release toxins through it when we sweat. Perspiration carries out with it cellular and water-soluble toxins and toxic minerals. For example, substances that have been shown to be excreted through the skin during saunas are morphine, methadone, amphetamines, chlorinated pesticides, herbicides, and PCBs.” (See her article The Cancer Chronicles)

At the same time, nobody wants to be a sweaty, stinky mess all season. To keep the underarms smelling sweet, the following strategies are helpful:

Strategies to Stay Sweet Smelling

  • Avoid meat (this reduces the inflammation and putrefaction in the intestines that causes body odour and bad breath);
  • Avoid synthetic clothing (the chemical reaction between polyester and perspiration can cause a bad smell);
  • Look for aluminum-free deodorants at the health food store (sometimes a light dusting of organic baking soda on the underarms is all that’s needed).

This month, we bring you a feature by Helke Ferrie on the “Perils of Being a Patient.” It was originally published here some years ago and turned out to be so popular that we have updated and re-released it this month. This is a survival guide that equips readers with good questions to ask when they end up in a hospital or doctor’s office. From antibiotics, to painkillers, to psychiatric drugs, Ferrie outlines the best and worst effects of these medications, and advises us to avoid acting on blind faith in their safety. Instead, she urges us to do our own homework on the best solutions for our health problems, while viewing the doctors’ orders with a healthy dose of skepticism. Such unbiased advice is valuable in a world full of health ‘news’ that is often tainted by corporate spin doctors. In fact, Robert Kennedy, Jr. has just released a news story stating that “70% of today’s news ad revenue comes from big pharma” (in non-election years), which is why you rarely see media coverage of any topic that would offend drug advertisers.

Back at the ranch, the recent launch of our new digital magazine has earned us fan mail from all over the continent, and we are delighted to report that we now have 780 new subscribers who’ve signed up for a free subscription. Just for fun, we have put a different painting on the cover of our digital edition than on our print edition. So if you want to see it, or just like the idea of having the digital Vitality dropped into your inbox see our Subscriptions page.

Julia Woodford founded Vitality Magazine in 1989, and has been its Editor-in-Chief for the past 30 years. Prior to a career in publishing, her studies included Political Economics at York University, Journalism at Ryerson University, and Psychology, PhysEd, and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She remains a lifelong student of herbalism, nutritional medicine, and the healing arts to this day. You can read her columns on the Vitality website. She is also the Show Manager for Whole Life Expo, Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and green living. Learn more at the Expo website In 2018 she received a “Hall of Fame” award from National Nutrition. In 2019, she was nominated for a “Person of the Year” award by National Nutrition.

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