We know we need to support our health by the occasional “detox”. Whether it means participating in dry-July or Sober-October, or finally seeing a Naturopath for that niggling gut issue you’ve had for years, we always think of it as giving ourselves that little extra TLC we all deserve. But when was the last time we considered a detox of our home? The building we work in for 8 hours a day? The places we sleep, we wash, we eat and we socialise? Buying organic and popping out some flowers is great, but realistically there is so much more we can be aware of and achieve to ‘detox’ the environment immediately around us.
Health & Hygiene
From the smell when you walk in the door to the overgrowth in a mouldy bathroom; every home needs decent cleaning agents for maintenance. Purchasing multiple expensive and harsh-chemical laden formulas will kill many things, but also may contribute to the chemical loading in your home. And no, you don’t have to settle for pouring white vinegar over everything. In fact, that won’t necessarily always be the best approach for every household need. There are many free recipes available online that will give you substitutes for disinfectants and soaps, formula’s and recipes, advice on which are best and how to use them. The first website on our reference list is my favourite due to its practical approach and extensive information.
And of course, essential oils are a must for me. I like to use the electric safety steam vaporisers where possible as they reduce the risk of steam burns, fire, bad spills or wax on carpet! Essential oils drops may also be added in with your washing loads, mopping water or linen press. Antibacterial agents like triclosan have been linked to hypothyroidism, so tea tree or eucalyptus used as needed is safer. Wash and clean items regularly (including your own hands) to prevent any build up or the need for scrubbing.
Not just for decoration, some houseplants actually show the ability to significantly decrease the toxic loading in our environments. Even once we start to change our mindset, avoid purchasing aerosol sprays, chose natural fragrances and cleaning products, the following chemical sources are still largely present in our home and office:
- Volatile organic compounds such as benzene and trichloroethylene, or TCE
- Airborne biological pollutants
- Carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides
- Pesticides and disinfectants (phenols)
- Radon (a naturally occurring radioactive gas, which develops form the breakdown of uranium and has a tendency to get trapped inside buildings with us)
- Peace lilies, best with lots of water and indirect sunlight
- Butterfly palm or Areca palm, which may grow quite tall in humidity
- Lady palm, which is very durable but slow growing
- Philodendron is also very hardy, will tolerate most types of light exposure
- Bamboo palm, which I had in my room as a teen, and will often generate multiple baby palms you can then share with friends and are not too thirsty for regular water
- Ficus or Rubber plants are very popular, but do produce sap, and may be toxic to animals if eaten. Ficus Alii have narrower leaves and should not be near heating or cooling vents
- The Boston fern is best for anyone who prefers a hanging pot planter and where there is bright indirect light
- Dracaena which have bright green shoots in the middle and darker leaves around the edges
Reduce Exposure & Contact
Everything in our diets can help or harm, and so can many innocuous looking or handy household conveniences. BPA is a nasty toxin that mimics estrogen and will often be found in food storage containers and the resins in any household appliance or furniture. It has been linked to poor fertility health, headaches, dermatitis and more.
Aluminium exposure is often not only in cookware and foil, but in deodorants, added to grated cheese to stop it sticking, and in makeup. Although approved in terms of safety for everyday use, much evidence exists on its toxic effects most notably as a direct cause to Alzheimer’s disease.
Chlorines and dioxins, lead in paint, phthalates, pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s); some you can combat with the methods mentioned above, but here are some of the best ways to reduce the exposure at all.
- Chose hardwood furniture or recycle antiques. Solid wood and exterior grade woods have less VOC’s. Allow newer items to ‘off gas’ in a sheltered area like a garage before introducing to your home. We are buying new doors shortly and intend to do this.
- Buy fresh, certified organic produce, and wash them in water with some vinegar added, and use a brush to scrub with
- Use a fly swat instead of chemical laden insecticide within the home, and choose non-toxic methods for your garden bug and weed maintenance
- Use glass, Pyrex, bamboo or stainless steel in your cookware and storage. Cotton bags for your fruit and veg can be recycled. Note: BPA free does NOT mean 100% chemical free. Avoid treated wood and Teflon cookware.
- Check any purchases of bedding & clothing (especially for children!) carefully, wash and air outside before use to reduce flame retardants and chemicals like bromide which are yet to be phased out in use. Choose wool or cotton fill or down over foams or polyesters and avoid Scotchguard.
Muslin cloth and sea sponges for washing will not off gas nasty chemicals and may certainly be more hygienic than that common plastic loofah. Replace or run through the washing loads every month, and allow to dry thoroughly between uses.
- Even a very, VERY basic water filter like Brita jugs or Puratap will at least get rid of chlorine, but not reduce the extra nasty chemicals like heavy metals. We highly recommend Zazen alkalising water filters. Always dispose of boiled water, do not re-boil, avoid boiling tap water altogether, as its concentrates any toxins
- Many items such as Fluoro light bulbs still contain mercury! Exposure to mercury from a broken bulb or just general disposal is a very serious safety concern. There are specialty recycling programs available, but try to not purchase them at all is best
- Limit your dietary intake of seafood at the TOP of the food chain, especially the steaks and canned versions of: mackerel, tuna, swordfish, shark, or marlin.
Ventilation & Storage
Airing your home regularly is effective for reducing toxic build up, but is particularly essential after any painting, newer floors or carpets and furniture arrive.
- Keep your filters very clean on heating and air-con systems to prevent build-up of mould and fungi related toxins (mycotoxins) which may be linked to a range of health issues from mucous membrane irritation to allergies
- Avoid humidity or use a dehumidifier in storage area’s
- Damp cleaning/dusting with a wet cloth catches dust and accumulated nasties best
- Always use a fan in the bathrooms and avoid very hot showers or baths to reduce exposure to chlorine from hot water. This chemical gets stored in your fat cells, and is a neurotoxin, causes headaches, miscarriage and may also be linked to colon and bladder cancer
- Use Himalayan salt lamps or candle holders in your home. They will not purify the air the same way plants can via filtration. Negative ions are the therapeutic energy occurrence from nature such as ocean waves, waterfalls, sunlight, storms and lightening. Himalayan salt lamps produce negative ions when warm. Ironically named positive ions from electronic devices such as computers and microwaves are linked to poor health.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Adv Dip Naturopathy, Adv Dip Western Herbal Medicine
Head Naturopath Kimberly Orbons is passionate about encouraging and empowering each person to facilitate their own good health with Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and preventative lifestyle management. Using a combination of diagnostics and symptomatology to identify the different metabolic processes contributing to disease allows her to treat the root or cause of poor health, providing relief of symptoms and long term recovery.
Kimberly believes it is extremely important to build a personalized healing plan, taking all the complexities of a patient’s health and illness into consideration. Her consults have a strong focus on client care and treating each patient as an individual, and may therefore co-ordinate with other medical treatments. The goal is to establish each patient’s ability to live in the best possible state of health, naturally. Her mentors in clinical practice include Founder Lucy Herron, Dr. David Brownstein, Naturopath Angela Hywood and Dr. Sarah Wine. Since achieving her qualifications in 2007 she has extensive clinical experience, and also 3 years managing the natural health sections and seminar within pharmacy.
Kimberly works closely with our CEO Lizzy Herron, our naturopathic consultants and all The Lucy Rose clinical staff to ensure our patients are provided with the best and most up to date health services and quality health advice. She has actively contributed to our online media, patient guidelines, patient support and informational services for the past 3 years and enjoys providing excellent free to access health data to patients across Australia daily.
 How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office (Penguin; First Edition April 1, 1997).