Category Archives: Tip-sy Tuesday

Whole Foods Rocks!

At first I wasn’t so fond of Whole Foods. Mainly because their prices are high. But that’s a fact of buying organic and buying the lesser known brands. When I first learned to really like them was when I learned that they don’t carry anything containing MSG or nitrates. That’s actually a very small subset of the items they don’t allow, but those 2 are important to me because they trigger migraines in me. Finally I had a place that I could buy soups and salad dressings and lunch meats and bacon and the occasional pepperoni without worry.

I also now use them for a lot of other products – especially cleaning and personal care products.

This past weekend I was there looking for my shampoo. I’ve used Earth Sciences for years. They make a fragrance free one that truly has no added fragrance of any kind.

Couldn’t find it. I typically forget that name and just look for the bottle. While looking, I found a “365 Everyday Value” Shampoo that is fragrance free. “365 Everyday Value” is Whole Foods own brand and tends to be a lot cheaper. A Whole Foods employee came up to me to see if she could help me. I told her what I had been looking for. She asked me what the bottle looked like. Then she showed me where that shampoo was. They had totally changed their packaging. Instead of a green rectangular bottle, it was now in a white tear shaped bottled.

But by then I was more interested in the Whole Foods brand. She said they make shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and shower gels. They come in scented varieties, but also in truly fragrance free varieties. The label says they are specially formulated with 100% natural, biodegradable ingredients; free of parabens, animal ingredients, artificial fragrance and unnecessary chemicals. And they are not tested on animals.

The Whole Foods brand items are reasonably priced. In fact, I wound up saving a TON of money:

The Earth Sciences I used to by (the green bottle) was $5.99 for 17 oz. OR $ .35 per ounce.

Their new, improved bottle is only 12 oz and cost $6.49 OR a whopping $ .54 per ounce.

The shampoo I bought was 32 oz. for $4.99 == $ .1559 per ounce!

So, Earth Sciences new label resulted in lost sales for them.

Now, if only Whole Foods would start carrying items with reduced sodium…

What Does Fragrance Free Mean?

I see a lot of talk on the web about this. As well as hear a lot of different comments. Some comments are about the fact that a product has an odor of any kind.

So, what do I mean by Fragrance Free?

It’s the addition of artificial fragrance that I mean when I talk about fragrance added to anything. You can call it “fragrance”, “masking fragrance”, “perfume” or even “parfum” (for that French feel). They are all the same. A bunch of chemicals that likely haven’t been tested on humans. Probably some have, but the fragrance industry doesn’t what to tell you about that. So they hide behind their “trade secret” claim.

You have to be careful when shopping. It isn’t enough that the front of the label says “Unscented” or “Fragrance Free”. There’s no FDA regulation about this. Or any regulation anywhere. If it’s a personal care product (shampoo, lotion, makeup, etc), then turn it over and read the ingredients. I know it’s more work, but if you’re sensitive, it’s necessary. Read the whole list. Fragrances are usually listed near the end, but don’t rely on that. I even read the ingredients when the front says “No Added Fragrance”. If you’re sensitive to fragrances, you can’t be too careful.

And if it’s a household product, it’s trickier. There’s no regulation that requires them to even list their ingredients. Sometimes it can be trial and error. Here are some clues: If it says “Fresh Clean Scent” or “Ocean Fresh Scent” or anything else that implies a certain scent, then don’t buy it. It has fragrance of some sort in it. Some products say “No Added Fragrance”. I trust these cautiously. Your best bet (although nearly impossible to follow 100%) is to only buy household products that list their ingredients.

And yes, a fragrance free product is likely to still have a ‘odor’ to it. Some chemicals have an odor. So you’ll still be able to smell something. Some people find the chemical odors objectionable. Which is why you often see “masking fragrance” in your ingredient list. To me, a masking fragrance is as bad (or even worse) than other added fragrances. I say worse because it can fool you without that fragrancy smell to it.

If you still want a product with a nice smell, consider purchasing a bit of an essential oil and adding it to your products. Don’t add a lot, a little goes a long way. And some of your ‘greener’ products have essential oils added. I’ve become so sensitive to odors that I stay away from these too. But you might want to give them a try.

This Explains A Lot

MCS causes a lot of problems include chronic pain, fibromyalgia and migraines. If you suffer from any of these, you’ve probably found that your brain doesn’t seem to work quite as good as it used to. You very easily forget things, can’t concentrate, have difficulty with anything requiring thought. Your friends and family are likely to say it’s just part of getting older. But deep down, you know that it is more than that in your case.

Sound familiar? Well, you’re right. Researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago have found that chronic pain disrupts brain function and causes many problems. These include difficulty making even simple decisions, anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances. The scary part is that the damage can be permanent. You can read an article on it here.

The Top Ten Reasons to Be Scent Free at Work

by Catherine Dicker et al. Originally appeared in The Advocate: The newsletter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association Labor Relations Committee.

  1. You save money.
  2. Your co-workers can breathe easier.
  3. You won’t attract the wrong kind of attention.
  4. You won’t trigger someone’s migraine (or maybe your own).
  5. You won’t exacerbate your patient’s asthma.
  6. You will contribute to better Indoor Air Quality.
  7. You will not be in a cloud of acetone, formaldehyde, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, limoline, linalool, and methylene chloride all of which are listed as hazardous waste and contribute to workplace asthma.
  8. You won’t cause skin reactions in sensitized people.
  9. You won’t be supporting big business profits of companies that disregard consumer health and safety.
  10. You’ll be safe to be around and safe to hug.

Household Products Database

I found a link recently to the Household Products Database. Created by the National Library of Medicine, it provides health & safety information on household products.

You can look up information by product or ingredient. For example, enter Fragrance in the ingredients search and you get this long list. I didn’t read the entire list, but I did look through it.

I learned some interesting things. For example, did you know you could buy Cologne for your pet??? I knew that if you took a pet to be groomed that they put stinky stuff on them. But worse – Crest Toothpaste is on the list as containing fragrance??!? What in the world? Why? Oh, sorry, probably cannot apply logic to this… ๐Ÿ˜•

Fragrance Free Course For Nurses!

A regular commentator to this blog, Linda, sent me some information on a free online course for nurses:

Fragrance Free! Creating a Safe Healthcare Environment รขโ‚ฌโ€ 1.2 Contact Hours

The goal of this program is to ensure a therapeutic environment in which the patient and the nurse can interact, as well as to create a healthy workplace in which employees can practice.

Course Description: Chemical fragrances may seem like a natural part of modern American life, but in fact, they are anything but natural.

These petroleum-based products, many of which contain known carcinogens, are produced with virtually no regulation by the FDA, and their widespread use is turning the modern health care environment-and the rest of the world-into Chemical Soup. Fragrance Free! looks at the hidden costs of chemical fragrance use in the health care industry, including the growth of allergies and potentially debilitating conditions such as chemical sensitivity.

The course discusses how to recognize the beginnings of chemical sensitivity, while offering alternatives to fragranced produces and common sense steps to reduce chemical fragrances in the health care environment.

Nurses and LPN’s are taking it. Credits are good across the US.

I think it should be required by all nursing professionals. I have a friend who is a retired nurse. She taught nursing also. She said that she was taught NOT to wear any fragrances around patients. Too bad they don’t teach that anymore! I had an experience a few years back with that. I was in hospital being treated for my migraines – for which the primary trigger is fragrances. One of the main nurses literally reeked w/ perfume. She was sweet as could be, but I always cringed when she came in b/c it was sheer torture to smell that perfume.

Dryer Balls!

Dryer Max Dryer Balls – They help eliminate static. They also claim to shorten drying time although I can’t really be sure about that. I got mine as a Christmas present. That was nice since I’m a rather reluctant shopper these days.

Here’s what they look like:

Dryer Max Dryer Balls
(Hey – a bonus – if you click on the image – it’s a PUZZLE! My time was 2:55!)

The price is reasonable and they’re available many places. Just google them. (Just be warned that if you go to their actual web site that they play a movie when you go there.)

What’s that? You say you found some fragrance free dryer sheets? Keep in mind that they come with a lot of chemicals too. All those sheets have been found to leave deposits on your lint screen. Less is best!

Asthma On The Rise

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who is truly “aware” , but last month our local newspaper reported on the increase in asthma in children. That was something I’ve noticed over the past few years just from personal observation and reading. But it seems the media isn’t really paid to think so they just found out.

The report citedreally information from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and said that San Antonio ranked No. 11 this year (2007) on its list of “asthma capitals”.

The article was written from the standpoint of what it is costing the schools. As in, they get their state funding based upon attendance. Plus the schools now have a supply of nebulizers in their nurse’s office.

It did mention some of the things that the school districts are doing to try to help the children with asthma. Mostly removing these asthma triggers and agents that can harbor asthma triggers: stuffed animals, pillows, pets, deodorizing sprays, aerosols, candles, carpeting. But it likely isn’t near far enough.

I actually graduated from one of the schools mentioned in the article. I was back there for an alumni event a few years back. There was a strong scent of fragrance that I believe came from the cleaners used in the building. I left there with a migraine. It’s no wonder there are more kids with asthma.

I suspect that the school districts may not realize that fragrances are in all those cleaners. I actually encountered such thinking when I still worked in the “real” world. This was after I began having migraines 24/7. I somewhat got the attention of management although their primary goal seemed to prove me wrong. I actually had one person tell me that the cleaners that were used did not contain fragrance. She showed me the label which did not list fragrance as an ingredient. Of course it didn’t. It wasn’t required by law to list fragrance. But, what exactly did she think “Fresh Clean Scent” on the label meant?

How is your children’s school? You may want to inquire about the chemical cleaners they use.