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Worst, Better, Best Products for Your Health

Americans spent nearly $34 billion in 2007 (the most recent year for which data is available) on “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM). This includes $22 billion on self-care products, classes and materials, plus nearly $15 billion on non-vitamin, non-mineral natural products.

The expenditures were undoubtedly made in the hopes of improved health -- physically, mentally or both. But when you spend your hard-earned cash, how do you know it’s for a product that will really benefit you?

Here we’ve compiled a guide to help you make the most savvy, health-conscious choices you can the next time you’re on the lookout for products for your health.

The 5 Worst Vs. Best Products for Your Health

1. Worst

Overly Clean

You should strive to keep your home clean … but not sterile. If your environment is too clean it will not provide the necessary germ exposures needed to “educate” your immune system so it will know how to launch defenses against infectious organisms. Not only can it make your immune responses inadequate, but it may cause your immune system to overreact to substances in your environment that would ordinarily be harmless, such as pollen, dust or pet dander.

Studies have shown, for instance, that young children who spend time in daycare (and therefore are exposed to a wide variety of germs) are less likely to develop allergies and asthma, as are those who grew up on farms, with pets or in large families. Other research has shown that children who grow up in very clean homes have a higher risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease.

Further, if you’re using harsh chemical cleaners, you could also be harming your health. A truly clean home shouldn't smell like anything, so if your “clean” home smells like a pine tree or artificial lemon grove, it’s a sign that toxins are lingering.

Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyzed 21 household cleaners and air fresheners and found that many -- especially those with pine, lemon or orange scents -- emit excessive levels of toxic pollutants.

Six of the products contained ethylene-based glycol ethers, which are classified as hazardous air pollutants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, 12 products contained terpenes, which are found in the pine, lemon and orange oils used to give cleaning products their "clean" smells. Terpenes have been found to react with ozone to produce a variety of toxic substances.

Further, did you know that using cleaning sprays and air fresheners at least once a week can increase your risk of asthma by 30-50 percent? It can, so why expose yourself to this risk?

1. Best

Healthy Clean

Gentle, natural cleansers such as Enviro-Rite are superior to chemical disinfectants. Enviro-Rite has an excellent line of safe cleaning products -- they contain no hazardous ingredients, petrochemicals, perfumes, dyes or animal byproducts, and they have products for all of your cleaning needs, from carpet and upholstery cleaner to spot lifters.

Another option is to use PerfectClean Antimicrobial Microfiber Terry Cloths, Dusters and Mops, which pick up microscopic contaminants with no cleaners needed at all!

PerfectClean terry cloths contain patented built-in antimicrobial protection and are made of ultramicrofibers that are only 3 microns in size, which is even smaller than many bacteria. Because of this unique ultramicrofiber construction, you can reduce the amount of chemical cleaners you use, or even eliminate them altogether.

terry clothEach PerfectClean Terry Cloth lasts hundreds of uses before you have to replace it! Just regularly wash it, and it will last many, many times longer than anything else available -- so you save big money while getting the surfaces in and beyond your home far cleaner (clean to the microscopic level) than you ever could before!

So, unlike ordinary cleaning rags and sponges, you don't need to use chemical cleaners to achieve the deepest clean, which makes them perfect for anyone who's looking to keep toxic cleaners OUT of their home.

2. Worst

Sleeping Pills

Up to half of Americans suffer from insomnia, and if you’re one of them you may have considered taking a sleeping pill. But you should know that anti-anxiety medications like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Librium (which are sometimes used for insomnia because they increase drowsiness and help people sleep) can be addictive.

Other types of sleeping pills that increase drowsiness, such as Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien, are said to be non-habit forming, however they do carry the risk of other side effects. Among them:

  • Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs

  • Changes in appetite

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Difficulty keeping balance

  • Dizziness

  • Drowsiness

  • Dry mouth or throat

  • Gas

  • Headache

  • Heartburn

  • Stomach pain or tenderness

  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body

  • Unusual dreams

  • Weakness

You should know, also, that it’s possible to become psychologically dependant on sleeping pills, to the point you may be unable to sleep without them. This is a dangerous, not to mention expensive, habit.

2. Best

Relaxation / Sleep Techniques

Falling asleep is like shifting gears. It involves a whole different style of functioning than the focused state of attention we have during the day. It requires relaxation and a kind of "letting go." An active mind at bedtime is not conducive to falling asleep. We need to be able to turn off our minds and "de-focus."

To do this, you can try:

  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine. Give yourself time to get ready for bed slowly. Savor the moments of winding down as you wash your face, brush your teeth, and change into your bed clothes. You can use aroma oils, soft music or if spirituality is important to you, a prayer.

  • Keeping your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark. (Usually a cool room promotes sleep, but you will have difficulty sleeping if you feel cold, so experiment. If your feet are cold in winter, warm them up before bed!)

  • Drinking a cup of relaxing tea, like chamomile.

  • Massaging your feet, especially with warm oil, right before bed (or having your partner do it) -- it's very relaxing.

  • Stretching a bit before you lie down. You can literally stretch out some of the "kinks" and tension of the day. Stretching makes some people more energetic and some more sleepy, so experiment and find out what works for you. 6.

  • sleep easy cdOnce you are in bed, listen to relaxing music or the Sleep Easy CD to help you "shift gears" and relax into sleep. With guided sleep meditations by a leading meditation expert, Mary Maddux, and music by a renowned meditation music composer with 20 years experience, this CD will help you find deep rest and sleep … at an incredible price.

  • Use Ancient Secrets Nasal Cleansing Pot to cleanse your sinuses before bed. Regular nasal irrigation cleansing can help keep your sinuses clear of irritants, making it easier to breathe and possibly reducing snoring. When you’re able to breathe freely through your nose, you’ll get a more restful night’s sleep.

3. Worst

Weight Loss Pills

weight loss pills

Over-the-counter weight loss pills are not the quick-fix they may appear to be. For starters, one popular pill, Alli, is meant to be combined with healthy diet and exercise changes. So unless you’re willing to make lifestyle changes the pill may not work.

Further, in 2009 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration received reports that Alli may be causing serious liver injury, in addition to other unpleasant side effects like:

  • Gas with an oily anal discharge

  • Loose stools or diarrhea

  • More-frequent bowel movements

  • Hard-to-control bowel movements

Weight loss pills like Alli are expensive, riddled with side effects and the results are likely to be less than stellar. With Alli, for instance, you can expect to lose just three additional pounds a year, in addition to the approximately 8 pounds you could expect to lose from diet and exercise alone, according to Donald Hensrud, M.D., a preventive medicine and nutrition specialist at Mayo Clinic.

3. Best

Exercise/Healthy Diet

Losing weight is really more about simple mathematics than it is about taking a potentially dangerous diet pill. Eat more calories than your body burns off, and you'll start to gain weight. The equation is really just that simple: Too many calories + not enough activity = excess pounds.

As the American Academy of Family Physicians puts it, "To lose weight, you have to cut down on the number of calories you consume and start burning more calories each day."

But please don’t even think about starving yourself. The key is to eat until you’re full, and focus on getting full by eating healthy foods. You can typically eat as many healthy foods as you want, until you feel full, and still lose weight.

For tips, check out the easy recipes in the book “Alive in 5”: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes. They’ll help you lose weight while enjoying delicious creations like pina colada smoothies, lasagna, stuffed mushrooms and cream of zucchini soup.

No weight loss program is complete without an exercise component, of course, but most people think this means becoming a slave to the treadmill or elliptical machine. While aerobic activity is certainly important for weight loss, it is not the only exercise component you need to focus on.

The greater your muscle tone, the more calories you burn -- even when you're at rest. So some type of weight training should be a non-negotiable part of your workout routine.

Further, because your body and mind are so closely linked, a weight loss program that only focuses on your physical being will miss out on the incredibly important mental and emotional aspects of health.

This is why you will also want to include a form of physical activity that addresses your mind-body connection, and we are extremely excited to introduce for you a one-of-a-kind fitness program from, which is an ideal addition to your weight loss journey.

The program is unlike any other fitness program in that it offers a source of strength and inspiration to support your health journey.

SheaNetics from promotes a “lifestyle” that leads to positive changes that are lasting … Because what do most people do after dieting and losing weight? They gain it back … Why? Because the diet is a short-term substitution for what your mind has to embrace as a new and healthy lifestyle.

As you get into better condition, physically and mentally, you will become more in tune with your body’s desire to feel good. This means you’ll start craving healthier choices and rejecting unhealthy processed foods that drain you of energy.

We encourage you to check out new 6-Disc DVD/CD workout set to get started on your pathway to weight loss and total well-being!

4. Worst

Toxic Shampoos

toxic shampoo

Every year consumers across the world spend $230 billion on beauty products, with $40 billion of that going toward shampoo purchases. And in North America people are opening their wallets to spend nearly $11 billion on shampoo and conditioner products each year.

However, most of the chemicals that make up the ingredients in shampoos and other personal care products have never been tested or adequately assessed for safety by either the federal government or the manufacturers. The FDA is the regulator behind cosmetics, however there are no regulations, guidelines or mandatory testing required of these products nor does the FDA control what goes onto the market or beauty shelves.

Even shampoos meant for the most vulnerable among us, babies and children, may not be safe.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently targeted a contaminant and cancer-causing petrochemical called 1,4-dioxane that has been found in dozens of children’s bath products and adult personal care products in an amount exceeding twice the maximum FDA recommendation.

Although FDA recommendations state that products shouldn’t contain any more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of this contaminant, 15 percent of the products tested exceeded that amount.

Even your organic shampoos may be no safer than the conventional varieties.

The industry for organic products doesn’t fall under any regulations so use caution when purchasing these products. Studies have shown that several major cosmetic companies are engaging in the widespread practice of using floral waters, hydrosols and other organic “infusions” to artificially inflate the “organic” content of their products.

4. Best

Safe, Natural Shampoos

We take baths and wash our hair to get dirt and chemicals off -- so why would you clean yourself with more potentially toxic chemicals? EnviroRite doesn't use harmful perfumes or dyes in their personal care products, so you can enjoy your bath or shower without having to worry about irritating chemicals and fragrances. Plus, Hair-Body Wash will rinse completely, leaving nothing behind!

Enviro-Rite Hair-Body Wash is a non-irritating, soy-based personal cleansing product suitable for use on both body and hair. Soy -- nature's versatile, renewable harvest -- is the cream of the crop among cleansers, natural or otherwise.

Hair-Body Wash cleans beautifully, gently and is a wonderful all natural moisturizer!

Reasons to Choose Enviro-Rite Hair-Body Wash:

  • Free of petroleum-based ingredients, fragrances, dyes and other common triggers for respiratory or skin irritations.

  • Designed by and for people with allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities.

  • Very economical -- dual use for both hair and body!

  • Gives extra body to fine hair

  • Makes a great bubble bath

  • So gentle -- it's great for children too!

  • Earth friendly -- safe to take camping, non-toxic, breaks down safely and rapidly.

  • No animals were used in the testing of this product.

  • Available in both convenient 16oz or Economical, Money Saving Gallon Size!

5. Worst

Toxic Soap

toxic soap

Research from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found hat 57 percent of baby soaps -- certainly considered to be among the most pure and gentle soap there is -- contains 1,4-dioxane, a probable human carcinogen that readily penetrates your skin!

How can this be? Because, as with shampoo, the U.S. government does not require safety testing on the ingredients in your personal care products.

Further, triclosan, the active ingredient in many antibacterial soaps, belongs to the chlorophenol class of chemicals, which are suspected of causing cancer in humans. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, triclosan is a pesticide and was given high scores both as a human health risk and an environmental risk.

You should know that the government does not regulate what "natural" means in soaps labeled natural, so commercial soaps can freely claim to be natural while still using the synthetic compounds discussed above -- and they do.

So finding safe and toxin-free soaps and body washes is not as simple as looking for the "all-natural," organic" or even "hypoallergenic" label, as these products can still contain dangerous ingredients. The term "hypoallergenic" can actually mean whatever a particular company wants it to mean, according to the FDA.

A general rule of thumb? The fewer ingredients listed, the better. Some generally safe and gentle ingredients are:

  • Organic oils (such as olive oil)

  • Essential oils

  • Castile soap

  • Aloe vera

  • Plant extracts

5. Best

Gentle and Natural Soaps

If you're looking for the crème de la crème in natural body cleansers, you'll be delighted with Vermont Soap Organics' line of products. It was created to provide customers with high quality, natural personal care products -- nurturing for both you and the environment.

Vermont Soap Organics started in 1992 as a kitchen-size operation completely devoted to organic all-natural products, and is today the largest manufacturer of truly natural handmade soap in North America. They are also one of the first soap companies to ever receive organic certification.

Vermont Soap uses a modern version of an over 200-year-old method utilizing oils of palm, coconut, and olive, blended with an alkali solution. The batch is mixed for hours, thickening slowly. Botanical concentrates and organic herbs are added, then it is poured into wooden molds and kept warm for three days.

As the Vermont's soap solidifies, the alkali salts rise to the top. The soap is skimmed of excess alkali salts (a major irritant to sensitive skin often found in conventional bar soaps) cut into bars and cured for 3 weeks.

Often lasting about twice as long as conventional bars, Vermont Soap Organics soap is extremely moisturizing and soothing. Your skin will drink in the conditioning, moisturizing goodness of this handcrafted soap.

Anyone with sensitive or hypoallergenic needs can really benefit and find immediate relief using Vermont Organics soap as well. It's also a healthy, simple indulgence to help slow, relax and pamper yourself and your family.

Vermont’s luxurious bar soaps are available in eight different varieties for all skin types:

  • Butter Bar -- best dry skin bar

  • Citrus Sunrise -- all skin types

  • Honey -- gentle exfoliant for combination skin

  • Lemongrass … all skin types

  • Oatmeal Lavender … dry skin

  • Oats & Aloe … unscented for dry sensitive skin

  • Peppermint Magic … oily/combination skin

  • Woodspice … natural deodorant bar

Vermont Soap Organics even carries a safe and natural liquid soap! Seeking an alternative to commercial formulas, Vermont Soap began working with saponified (soap based) foaming concentrates, creating their own natural Aloe Castile Liquid Soap formula.

Their Castile Bath and Shower Gel is a blend of the unique Aloe Castile liquid soap along with a special extract of vegetable gum in glycerin. This process adds extra emollients to create a shower gel that is a natural, organic, rich alternative to many of the artificial, synthesized commercial formulas on the market today.

This all-natural bath and shower gel is available in five deliciously soothing scents, which will leave your skin feeling soft, moisturized, clean and refreshed -- without a trace of chemical residues.

Recommended Reading

Top 9 Things You Thought Were Bad For You… Are Actually Good!

Avoid One of the Most Toxic Laundry Products in Your Home!

Sources July 31, 2009

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