Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Organic Does Not Mean Pesticide-Free

Many people today prefer to buy organic products only, for their health and the health of their families. I buy organic, pesticide-free catnip out of preference too. Organic though, does not mean pesticide-free, nor does it necessarily mean that the organic products many people eat, or experiment with for Do It Yourself (DIY) cosmetics are safer than products that are not organic.

Since 2009, there has been another peanut scandal involving a different company. The company named in the link directly above, declared bankruptcy.

It is not about organically grown products to me in general, as I buy food available at my local grocer and I buy what I can afford. It is about all producers taking all precautions for safety, proper testing and government regulation compliance. I remember the spinach recall from a few years back, as well. Not all outbreaks result in deaths. However, one death is too many

See Also
Mayo Clinic, "Food Poisoning", updated 2014
The National Pediculosis Association,® Inc. Organic Pesticides, Debunking a myth, 2005
"Organic pesticides don't harm the environment."
"Completely false."
NPR Article, Organic pesticides, 2011
"In the USDA tests, there was ten times as much spinosad on organic lettuce than was found on conventionally cultivated fruits and vegetables."
The National Pediculosis Association,® Inc. Alternative lice treatments, 2009
"Non-toxic remedies are obviously a preferred choice over pesticides whenever possible. However, this doesn't mean that everything touted as "natural" is across-the-board safe."
The National Pediculosis Association,® Inc., Safety, 2009
See "What product should I use to treat my child?"
Mayo Clinic, "Nutrition and healthy eating", updated 2014
Chemistry Explained, "Pesticides", added March 22, 2015
Environmental Health News, Pesticides and prostate cancer, 2011
Public Health Notices, Canada, updated 2015
CDC, E. Coli Outbreaks, updated 2014
USDA Organic Certification - The National List
FDA, Recent Safety Recalls, current

Detox Products Are A Myth That Can Be Both Expensive And Dangerous

There is no such thing as a cosmetic product that can "detox" your hair or skin, period. Detox applied to cosmetics is a marketing term only. Detox as applied to diet supplements and "body purifiers" as stated in the link above "outside of the clinical treatment for drug addiction or poisoning" can be hazardous to your health.

Many shampoos marketed to "detox" the hair and scalp, simply contain different cleanser(s) than mainstream ones. While that may not be bad, some high-end "detox" shampoos I have seen, also contain a number of herbal, other extracts and ingredients that cause a fair amount of build-up (residue). Such residue can and has been reported online to cause problems, like limp, oily hair, dry hair with continued use, which makes total sense to me, tangles and the appearance of dandruff. There is nothing "magical" or purifying in those products, other than the how well they can separate you from your money and clean out funds you have designated for cosmetics.

We all need to cleanse our hair and scalp and our bodies. No one needs to be "taken to the cleaners" in today's global economy in particular, or at any other time.

Kudos to young scientists for challenging marketing claims that encourage that happening.

See Also
FDA, detox, sorted by date
Some university courses in alternative medicine, 2010

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Aloe Vera Juice, Extracts And Gel: Current Safety Information

I will be adding to this post. - Updated June 5, 2016

Aloe vera is promoted for many uses today. The gel has traditional use for some kinds of burns and skin healing. The juice is promoted for internal use and commercially often contains a mix of juice and some gel. However, as with all natural products, there are safety cautions for the use of both.


"Aloe vera: A review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects", 2016, bolding added by me
"Aloe plant is ... a dietary supplement in a variety of foods and ... an ingredient in cosmetic products. ... widespread human exposure and its potential toxic and carcinogenic activities raise safety concerns. ... Ingestion of Aloe preparations is associated with diarrhea, hypokalemia, pseudomelanosis coli, kidney failure, as well as phototoxicity and hypersensitive reactions. Recently, Aloe vera whole leaf extract showed clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in rats ... was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B). ... This review ... updated information on the toxicological effects, including the cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and adverse clinical effects of Aloe vera whole leaf extract, gel, and latex."

"IARC MONOGRAPHS ON THE EVALUATION OF CARCINOGENIC RISKS TO HUMANS Volume 108 (2015)" - "Aloe vera", color and bolding added by me
"There is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of Aloe vera. ... There is sufficient evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of whole leaf extract of Aloe vera. ... Whole leaf extract of Aloe vera is possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B)."

"Case reports include acute eczema, contact urticaria, and dermatitis in individuals who applied Aloe-derived ingredients topically. ... In Aloe-derived ingredients used in cosmetics, regardless of species, anthraquinone levels should not exceed 50 ppm. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel advised the industry that the total polychlorobiphenyl (PCB)/pesticide contamination of any plant-derived cosmetic ingredient should be limited to not more than 40 ppm, with not more than 10 ppm for any specific residue and that limits were appropriate for the following impurities: arsenic (3 mg/kg maximum), heavy metals (20 mg/kg maximum), and lead (5 mg/kg maximum)."

World Health Organization, Aloe Gel, 2016, colored bolding added by me
"Medicinal uses ... Uses supported by clinical data ... None. ... At present no commercial preparation has been proved to be stable. Because many of the active ingredients in the gel appear to deteriorate on storage, the use of fresh gel is recommended. ... In most cases the gel must be freshly prepared because of its sensitivity to enzymatic, oxidative, or microbial degradation. ... There have been a few reports of contact dermatitis and burning skin sensations following topical applications of Aloe Vera Gel to dermabraded skin ... These reactions appeared to be associated with anthraquinone contaminants in this preparation ... An acute bullous allergic reaction and contact urticaria have also been reported to result from the use of Aloe Vera Gel"
World Health Organization: "Aloe"color and some bolding added by me
"Uses described in folk medicine, not supported by experimental or clinical data ... Treatment of seborrhoeic dermatitis, peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, and fungal infections, and for reduction of blood sugar (glucose) levels ... Microbiology ... The test for Salmonella spp. in aloe products should be negative. ... Pesticide residues ... To be established in accordance with national requirements. ... Heavy metals ... Recommended lead and cadmium levels are not more than 10 and 0.3mg/kg, respectively, in the final dosage form of the plant material ... Radioactive residues ... For analysis of strontium-90, iodine-131, caesium-134, caesium-137, and plutonium-239, see WHO guidelines on quality control methods for medicinal plants ... Pregnancy ... Aloe should not be used during pregnancy except under medical supervision after benefits and risks have been evaluated ... Nursing mothers ... Anthranoid metabolites appear in breast milk. Aloe should not be used during lactation except under medical supervision ... insufficient data available to assess the potential for pharmacological effects in the breast-fed infant ... Paediatric use ... Oral use of Aloe in children under 10 years old is contraindicated. 


More on the background of the above information 

National Toxicology Program "Aloe Vera" 
"What do the NTP rodent studies mean for humans? ... NTP rat studies give cause for serious concern ... nothing would lead us to believe that this finding would not be relevant to humans" 

"We conclude that goldenseal root powder caused cancer in the liver of male and female rats and male mice" 


Mayo Clinic: "Aloe", updated 2013 - See also "Evidence" - more research is needed.

The research on aloe vera and cancer is continuing and longer trial times are being used in studies., 2013


Methods to stabilize commercial aloe gel are still being investigated.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Etsy Policy Changes And Cosmetics

Here is an article dated 2012, on the new Etsy policy changes that apply to cosmetic product vendors as well, now.

Improper marketing claims can be a huge problem with some cosmetics but safety is paramount. A number of Etsy cosmetic vendors appear to be clueless, in a few of the public Etsy forum discussions I have read, as to what FDA marketing restrictions they need to be in compliance with, while hoping they do not get caught. Others appear to be trying to figure out ways around the regulations and remain selling on Etsy, which is a bad sign to me. If so little effort has been put into learning about government cosmetic marketing regulations and the resulting consequences of violating them, how can a vendor be trusted to be selling cosmetics that are safe?

Natural is definitely not safer than synthetic in the hands of those who market and sell cosmetics first and ask important questions later. The work comes first, in making sure a product is safe and well formulated, with all government safety regulations in place having been followed. Hopefully, product performance lives up to its ad copy, which also needs to be in line with existing laws. "Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products."

Why are cosmetics marketing regulations such a big deal? When marketing claims go beyond the legal restrictions, the product, for all intents and purposes, can become a drug.  

From the FDA 2012
“Two important protections for the public are that a firm may not sell new drugs unless they have been tested and approved by FDA and a firm may not make false or unsubstantiated claims about drugs they sell,” said Dara A. Corrigan, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “When a firm disregards these protections, it not only violates the law but also creates a risk for consumers, who may rely on a bogus product and forego effective and proven treatment. FDA must and will take aggressive enforcement action.”  

Are mainstream cosmetics companies exempt from FDA marketing claim challenges? No, they are not. Lancome is owned by L'Oreal. See also this post

The FDA has current resources for the reporting of adverse cosmetics effects and improper marketing claims. One simply has to use them.

From the resources link above.
"When in doubt about how to report a problem, call your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator."

More resources from the FDA, updated 2016    

  • "Certain claims may cause a product to be considered a drug, even if the product is marketed as if it were a cosmetic. Such claims establish the product as a drug because the intended use is to treat or prevent disease or otherwise affect the structure or functions of the human body. Some examples are claims that products will restore hair growth, reduce cellulite, treat varicose veins ...

  • This principle also holds true for "essential oils." For example, a fragrance marketed for promoting attractiveness is a cosmetic. But a fragrance marketed with certain "aromatherapy" claims, such as assertions that the scent will help the consumer sleep or quit smoking, meets the definition of a drug because of its intended use. ..."

Cosmetics products, whether they are mainstream or alternative, need to be safe, properly formulated and regulated. Marketing claims need to be supported by legitimate, reputable sources. Unfortunately, with regard to some natural products, the scientific evidence is limited and lacking, as to the effectiveness claimed by those trying to sell them at a profit, for uses not defined as cosmetic. 

Some natural cosmetics products have been removed from the market for safety reasons. Information on mercury can be found here. Products can be contaminated several ways making them unsafe, that only accepted testing can reveal. 

See Also
FDA Consumer Update, updated 2015
"A study published in the August 27, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), demonstrated that one-fifth of U.S.-manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic products bought on the Internet contained detectable lead, mercury, or arsenic. ... All metal-containing products exceeded one or more standards for acceptable daily metal intake. ... In light of recent reports, FDA ... considering possible enforcement actions related to Ayurvedic products manufactured in the United States."
The International Society of Dermatology, abstract 2012
"Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda may cause heavy metal toxicity, severe cutaneous adverse reactions, and contact dermatitis. ... Hair oils may cause contact dermatitis and folliculitis."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2012
"Numerous cases of heavy metal poisonings associated with the use of foreign medications, supplements, traditional remedies, or other health products have been documented (2–5). ... Heavy metals might not be listed as ingredients and might only be identified by testing. Some heavy metal inclusion might result from incidental contamination during production (e.g., the use of contaminated raw ingredients or poor manufacturing equipment), whereas other inclusion might be intentional for perceived therapeutic benefits."