The Overuse of Antibacterial Products & its Negative Impact on Health

December 20th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Conscious Living, Disease Prevention, essential oils, Healthy Living

kid-toxic-cleanersTrue or false: Using antibacterial cleansers (soaps, sprays, “kills 99.9% of germs” products) will keep you and your family safe from bacteria?

Did you answer false?

It may surprise you but false is the correct answer here. We’ve been told time and time again that using antibacterial cleansing agents is a way to safeguard our family from germs, bacteria and viruses but recent research has proved that, due to the overuse of these products, the opposite is true. In fact, Minnesota has banned several types of antibacterial soaps and cleansing agents (namely those containing Triclosan) in order to stop the spread of infectious diseases and avoidable illnesses.

Wait a minute–aren’t the antibacterial products meant to do that very thing? Read on and discover what all the confusion is about.

The Evolution of an Antibacterial Monster

In the beginning, antibacterial agents were used in hospitals to protect doctors, nurses and other staff from exposure to bacteria and viruses. These agents were put into clothing and soaps and when they were found to be truly effective at slowing the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses, someone had a “Eureka!” moment and the trend towards antibacterial everything began.

From the humble beginnings of protecting those in the medical profession, the active ingredients of antibacterial cleansing agents are now found in soaps, cleaning spray, and even children’s highchairs of the public. Yes–it’s now impregnated into the plastic your child is eating their food from. Want more shocking news? The CDC found that there are traces of Triclosan (the most common and dangerous antibacterial agent) in 75% of American’s urine.

What began as a protective measure is now officially out of hand.

Triclosan’s Connection to Declining Health

Antibacterial products are meant to slow the spread of bacteria but their overuse in recent decades has led to mutations of the very bacteria they are meant to protect us from. The result? Strains that are now becoming resistant to antibacterial cleaning agents and causing more harm than we could have imagined. While antibacterial cleansers do kill weaker bacteria, it leaves behind the stronger strains, allowing them to multiply and mutate into stronger versions of themselves. What’s more, the ‘good’ bacteria that’s meant to keep the ‘bad’ bacteria in check is also wiped out!

cleanersHumans are curious and through the study of pharmacoepidemiology (how people use medicines) an investigation into the overuse or misuse of antibiotics led to the discovery that these antibacterial cleansing agents are having a detrimental impact on our health. Scientific American Online found that overuse of antibacterial products could be leading to not only an increase in super-bacteria but also an increase in allergies and even the prevalence of cancer and hormonal disruptions.

From the moment we are born, environmental flora bombards us from every direction; it’s in dirt, air, and even on our bodies. Our natural reaction in the modern world has been to clean everything and attempt to sanitize our world by ridding our homes, bodies and air of any impurity.  By overusing antibacterial products, children’s immune systems aren’t what they used to be. Our bodies need bacteria. We need to be exposed to a variety of ‘baddies’ as this is how our immune systems flourish and keep us healthy throughout our lives. With exposure, our bodies are able to properly develop and strengthen.

Because of the overuse of antibacterial soaps, cleansers, sprays and instant/waterless antibacterial hand wash, strains of microbes aren’t allowed to be introduced into the body. While this might sound like a good idea, it is hampering the strength and growth of certain T-cells in the body. T-cells trigger an immunoresponse in the body when microbes are introduced into our systems and if our bodies aren’t given this exposure, the immunoresponse won’t happen. When we constantly strip any trace of bacteria from our bodies,  our immune systems aren’t able to prepare and protect us through a developed and hearty immune system. Simply put, a child raised in a home that’s overly sterilized has limited exposure to microbes and, as soon as they step foot out of their home, illness is nearly inevitable. We cannot sterilize the world…why are we attempting to sterilize ourselves?

Scientific American Online linked the increase in allergies, cancer and many other illnesses and medical complaints to the overuse of the very product we are using in an attempt to keep those illnesses from happening!

What Now?

Here’s the good news–everything isn’t lost. Just as we are learning the dangers of the overuse of antibiotics, we are also rediscovering the amazing cleansing properties of the natural products that are probably already present in our homes. Lemon juice, vinegar and good old fashioned soapy hot water are just as effective as antibacterial agents in most cases. Before you start spraying a product that claims to kill some unbelievable amount of bacteria from your countertop, why not consider an all natural cleanser that will do the same but without leaving behind a film of chemicals?

small oil bottlesAll-Natural Cleansing Spray I

  • 1 cup water, distilled or filtered
  • 5 drops orange essential oil (anti-infectious, antivirus, antiseptic, antiviral)
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil (anti-infectious, antivirus, antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial)
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil (anti, infectious, antivirus, antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal)
  • 5 drops tea tree oil (anti-infectious, antivirus, antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal)

Mix ingredients into a clean spray bottle, shake and store in a dark place. Use this spray as you would any other!

All-Natural Cleansing Spray II

Mix ingredients into a clean spray bottle, shake and store in a dark place. If you’re concerned about your home smelling like vinegar after using this spray don’t fret! The essential oils in the mix will overcome the vinegar smell. Use this spray as you would any other! Bonus–it’s even a great glass cleaner (no streaks!).

You may be asking, ‘what about our bodies?! I can’t possibly just spray my hands with an all-natural spray!’ Good questions warrant good answers! Most of us are quick to wash our hands and don’t pay much attention to the duration we’re soaping up. A good rule of thumb: Wash your hands for 20 seconds with plenty of soap and warm water. 

Thieves Household Cleaner– a popular product from Young Living Essential Oils.  This contains Thieves Essential Oil blend and is useful for all types of cleaning.

It’s that easy!

Before you decide to reach for another bottle of antibacterial spray, consider what we’re learning and get ahead of the Us versus Them game of humans and bacterial mutants!


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One Comment so far ↓

  • Lora

    Very informative article! I’ve been taught since I was young and I even told my kids that they should buy and use antibacterial soaps and cleansers to keep them safe from bacteria but when I read this article, it made me change my mind. Thank you very much, I’ll be using all-natural cleaner starting now.

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