Ditch the Stink: The First Step to Getting You and Your Family Well

I want to talk to you about fragrances and how your favorite perfume might well be affecting your health in negative ways. But first let me just share my experience and how it all started with me. Back when I was 42 years old, I came down with chronic fatigue syndrome. Doctors thought CFS was all in a person’s head. I woke up one day, unable to tolerate the smell of my favorite woodsy cologne. It was all I could taste in my mouth. My mood changed when I smelled anyone’s perfume. Workmen who slathered on aftershave affected me badly. I had to open all the windows even it was freezing outside.

I recall one day in an optometrist’s waiting room. I started to feel sick to my stomach. I became upset and angry when only moments before I felt fine. Behind the couch was a plugin of a leading room-freshener stuck into an electrical socket. That was what was making me miserable. I pulled it out and brought it with me to the doctor. I told him the plugin was making me sick. That it was toxic. I was astonished when he became irate and told me I was deluded. He went on to brush aside my feelings. He told me I should get out of town and find somewhere else to live. I realized that his working in a toxic environment made him hostile but there was no reasoning with the doctor. I never went back to that office.

Speaking of room fresheners, scented candles are also something to be aware of. Both aggravate asthma and other lung conditions. And people who get cluster headaches and migraines should be wary of them. Also, electrical room fresheners spread a fine oily mist into the air which sticks to the walls, our clothes, as well as our lungs!

On another occasion, I went into a compounding pharmacy that carried homeopathic products. As soon as I walked through the door, I was hit by the sickening smell of potpourri. Homeopathics are supposed to be kept far away from fragrances, even natural ones, like essential oils. I knew then and there that all the homeopathics were tainted. When I received the prescription for my hormone capsules, I could actually smell that the capsules had picked up the potpourri fragrance. The effectiveness of those hormones were undoubtedly diminished.

During the initial intake with my patients, I go over all the products they use and chances are, if they’re chronically ill, they’ve been using cleaning products that are “stinky.” Their shampoos contain fragrances and ingredients with names one can hardly pronounce. Their clothes detergent is scented, as is their soaps, bubble baths and the list goes on. One of the stinkiest, most toxic products on the market is clothes softener.

Take time to look at labels–if a product doesn’t disclose its ingredients, don’t buy it. When selecting a product, take a whiff and see how it affects you. If an item lists “fragrance” or “perfume,” know that the scent can contain anything that is unnatural. Look for products that use essential oils. But even then, understand that not every essential oil is going to be benign. While lavender is a favorite of many, lavender gives me a huge headache. I love the fragrance of roses, but rose oil can change a person’s mood and not for the better. Everyone is unique. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re with someone whose scent irritates you. Chances are you may try to avoid them in the future.

I have a dear friend who bathes in perfume. I dread when she shows up at my door.I told her, as gently as I could, that her fragrance made me nauseous. She was shocked, of course, but she did stop dousing herself before our gettogethers. But the toxicity was embedded in her clothes. Even her cell phone reeked. I won’t even mention how awful it was to ride in her car.

Everyone should have an air cleaner in their bedroom. It’s where you spend 1/3 of your day and it’s during the night that your body detoxes whatever it consumes during the day. Your liver is your chemical processing plant. When the liver is overworked, the body goes on chemical overload. In short, all your organs of elimination struggle to keep up with getting rid of the toxicity.

So, a good place to start playing detective is your cosmetic drawer, then under your sinks. Get rid of the heavy duty cleaners, the detergents and whatever else is lurking there. Try replacing those items with unscented biodegradable products like Seventh Generation or, for a general cleaner, try white vinegar or baking soda.

Part of what I do as an acupuncture physician is to cut to the chase. While Five Element Acupuncture is one of the best modalities that can restore health, transforming your living space into a healthy place is key. I help people make changes at a pace that works for them. Check out my testimonials at www.jadespring.com where real people share their experiences.

Signing off for now, I’m Alexis Rotella, Licensed Acupuncturist, at The Jade Spring Health Center, a fragrance-free clinic in Arnold, Maryland where for 20 years now, we’ve been helping people like you to “Ditch the Stink,” and to get you feeling energetic and enthusiastic about your one and only precious life.

(Podcast coming soon, for those of you who are more auditory)