Just because it’s natural..

May 29th, 2008
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.. doesn’t mean it’s good for you or harmless :). There are a plethora of natural occurring substances that are downright toxic and even lethal to animals and humans; so it’s something to be aware of when examining products claiming to be eco-friendly or putting green tips into practice.

I’ve noticed some companies of late touting products that are potentially very harmful as “green” and “natural”. It’s not really misleading, particularly the latter term – but stop and think about it a bit.. all these substances also occur naturally:

- crude oil
- arsenic
- cyanide
- uranium
- mercury

Don’t take a company’s word that ingredient x is natural and therefore equals good or healthy; dig a little deeper and see what you can find out about the ingredient or component.

Green tips – exercise due care.

Many green living resources, including my own site, offer tips in related to topics such as cleaning. The substances recommended are at times also products you should still handle with care.

In many instances, the alternatives are suggested as the lesser of the evils; being less toxic or environmentally damaging/persistent than commonly sold commercial equivalents. For instance, hydrogen peroxide and borax are often mentioned as these are incredibly versatile substances, but still should be handled with care.

I’m writing this article due to some of the email I receive from people asking questions or who post comments on articles where they suggest or ask things like “I’ve been told to drink hydrogen peroxide as a internal cleanser – is this safe?”.

Darn right it will work as a cleanser; it will clean you right out, internal organs and all if the solution is strong enough.

It’s not a stupid question though and at least they have the good sense to ask around first and determine specifics – e.g. the difference between a therapeutic/useful quantity and potentially lethal :).

For example, concentrated hydrogen peroxide is corrosive and even swallowing readily available solutions (3%) can release large quantities of gas in the stomach which can cause internal bleeding.

The other example I mentioned was borax. While a naturally occurring and incredibly useful substance, as little as 5 grams can kill a child or pet if ingested and 20 grams can kill an adult.

Even essential oils in their pure form can be corrosive and highly toxic.

“Going green” can be very exciting as you get to try new things, make concoctions and approach common household chores in a different way – but you should still exercise caution.

When trying any green cleaner recipes or cleaning alternatives, always:

a) wear gloves, particularly if you have sensitive skin
b) spot test before applying over a large surface

In regards to topical or hair treatments, test a small amount first to see if it causes irritation.

I tend to steer clear of writing about potions and tonics you ingest, simply because I’m not a qualified health professional.
 
When I cruise around many green sites, there’s lots of recipes for curing this and that ailment in a “green” way; and while I’m sure most of them are fine, and may perhaps even work, some that I see seem quite dangerous. The best piece of advice I can give in regards to this sort of thing is to talk to your doctor first or a qualified homeopath to at least determine if the suggestion could cause you more harm than good.

Going green doesn’t mean going ga-ga and while there’s lots of folks like myself out here on the web who mean well, sometimes they don’t realize that what they are recommending can be potentially dangerous – so exercise a little common sense. It certainly doesn’t hurt to at least check out any tips you come across just to see if others have reported less than desirable effects.


Michael Bloch
Green Living Tips.com
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