April 21, 2010
Maintaining a Healthy Home Holistically:
Natural Household Products as Safe Alternatives to Conventional Products
“If you want to learn about the health of a population, look at the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the places where they live.”
-Hippocrates, Father of Medicine, 5th Century BC
Natural household products are an important part of maintaining health holistically. From day to day, what is ingested, inhaled, and introduced into our bodies has effects on levels of function and the state of our health. We spend up to 57 percent of our lives indoors, so it is beneficial to make sure that indoor environments are safe havens to raise healthy children. High levels of exposure to harmful fumes and aromas produced by conventional cleaning products play a role in increasing rates of asthma, especially in young children. Conventional cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that are irritating to both the skin and body. Asthma cannot be cured, but by removing triggers in the home, this condition can be treated and patients can rely less on biomedicine to control symptoms. Two main symptom aggravators for asthmatic patients are bioallergens and chemical irritants. Natural cleaning products can be helpful in removing both from the home. By removing allergens and synthetic chemicals from the home environment, good health is maintained. Perspectives taken from current consumers of natural cleaning products reveal an understanding of the environment as a point of access to a wealth of resources that can serve to alleviate symptoms and enhance one’s quality of life. The efficacy of these products is revealed in personal accounts. Moreso today than ever before, it is crucial to regard the body as a precious vessel and treat it as such. In doing so, some are beginning to relate to the environment in a new way, valuing responsibility to the environment as much as responsibility for their own bodies. By engaging in a reciprocal relationship with the environment, humans live in harmony with their surroundings and preserve nature’s healing powers. Melaleuca, Inc, the Shaklee Corporation, and the Rainbow Company are three institutions that pledge to protect the health of consumers and our environment through increasing accessibility to natural cleaning products. What are Natural Household Products?
Natural cleaning products contain components from the earth as primary constituents, such as oils, herbs, or naturally- occurring chemical compounds. These products do not harm the environment and do not introduce foreign chemicals into the body. Therefore, natural cleaning products are typically non- irritating to the skin and eyes and far more gentle than harsh chemical cleansers. In the context of this paper, just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it is less toxic, or non- irritating all the time. Even cleaners that are safe enough to eat, like lemon juice, can be irritating to the eyes or skin. Consumers should make decisions based on reading the ingredient list for themselves, identifying any ingredients that may be toxic, and then deciding whether to use that product in the home.
There are several labels approved by the FDA that one can use to identify whether or not a product is organic, or in other words, natural. If a product is labeled “100% organic” all of the ingredients used must be natural. If a product is labeled simply “organic,” it at least 95 percent of its ingredients are organically produced. Finally, if a product is labeled “made with organic ingredients,” it must contain at least 70 percent organic contents. The first ingredient on any label is found in the product in greatest quantity, therefore it may be convenient to simply identify this ingredient. Many products are mostly water. Therefore, the first ingredient can provide a clue to the potency of the natural ingredient within the product of...