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Chemicals to avoid in hair care and natural ingredients to use

Chemicals to avoid in hair care and natural ingredients to use

Buying personal care products is a fun routine for most of us. Most of us select products based on how appealing the label is, or if the brand is well-known from an advertisement, or by loving the smell of a product. We don’t bother reading the small print on the labels of skin and hair products, because we don’t think it matters for our health if the ingredients are natural or synthetic. We follow beautiful photos and enticing labels like “Ultra moisturising”, “Shiny and Thick Hair” or “Contains Organic Argan Oil” without a second thought. Why would it be important to know the ingredients in our hair care products? Well, just like when we eat food and the nutrients are absorbed into our intestines, a similar process takes place when applying products on our skin and hair – about 60% gets absorbed and goes directly to our bloodstream. If you think the ingredients in our hair products do not matter, you are wrong! Every product we use contributes to the cocktail of chemicals we get daily. If we want to take control of our health and wellbeing, we cannot continue to be ignorant and trust advertisements. We need to get educated on which ingredients to avoid and start making informed decisions about which beauty products and ranges to use. To help you get there, we’ve put together a list of the most common synthetic ingredients in hair care products with known negative side effects:

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS):
This is a common detergent and surfactant which is used in hair and skin care products. This inexpensive ingredient’s main functions are cleansing and foaming. SLS can easily penetrate the skin, moreover, it can circulate in the body for up to five days and leave residue in the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs as was discovered by the American College of Toxicology. Our skin and hair do have a protective mechanism to prevent harmful things from entering into our bloodstream, however, SLS has been found to weaken this defence mechanism by stripping the natural protective layer on both skin and hair. This harsh industrial degreaser is a known skin irritant and linked to the weakening of the hair and contributing to dry, damaged hair and hair loss.

Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES):
SLES is a derivative of SLS. It is made using a process called ethoxylation and is considered milder and less irritating for the skin. The problem with SLES is that it is often contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane, a by-product and known carcinogen, which is suspected of causing harm to the kidneys. Note that 1,4 Dioxane compound will not be found on the ingredients list of your shampoo or soap, as it is a by-product.

Probably one of the most ignored ingredients is fragrances, after all, why would you question it, when it is just a nice smell? Unfortunately, fragrances are highly toxic ingredients and their full chemical composition is not even disclosed due to being a trade secret. Fragrances present in hair care products are made up of more than 3000 different chemicals and can have severe adverse effects on your health. They are linked to causing liver damage, allergies, brain fog, damage to the central nervous system, obesity, asthma, contact dermatitis, organ toxicity, and even cancer.

They are synthetic ingredients used as preservatives in cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical products. They are a cheap and very effective agent to extend the product’s shelf life and prevent mould and bacteria growth. Parabens can be derived from a chemical that occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables, for example, carrots and blueberries. This chemical is known as para-hydroxybenzoic acid. Furthermore, the human body also produces it naturally to break down amino acids. So, why is it considered a hazardous ingredient? Parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals, as they mimic hormones, more specifically oestrogen. They have been found in breast cancer cells, and have also been linked to organ failure and reproductive damage.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG):
This is a petroleum-based chemical that is used to create a smooth creamy texture in products. It has been listed as a developmental toxicant, meaning it could interfere with human development and lead to genotoxicity, a process where chemicals interfere on a cellular level and cause genetic mutations, which in turn, lead to cancer.

Let’s move on to the next big one, hair dyes!

When we visit the hairdresser for our regular monthly appointment, to either cover up the grey hairs or for a fashionable colour change, we are adding more poison into the pot of toxins our bodies are already trying to fight off. Many women dye their hair regularly but are not at all aware of the consequences of continuous use of synthetic hair dyes. How hair dye works: Synthetic hair dyes work on a three-step process to achieve permanent results. It includes the use of ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and p-phenylenediamine. Firstly Ammonia is used to open up the cuticles of the hair (layers of hair proteins) so the dye molecules will be able to get into the hair shaft. Secondly, hydrogen peroxide or similar agents remove the existing hair colour molecules, strips the hair of its current colour, and lustre. And lastly, the new synthetic colours molecules are deposited deep into the hair shaft.

Some of the most common chemicals found in hair dye are:

Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical most commonly found in dark hair dyes. It is derived from petroleum and is a type of coal-tar. Various chemicals form this coal-tar, namely benzene, naphthalene, aniline, phenols, and other chemicals. Even though this has been found to have adverse health effects, it is exempt from needing approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Research has found that when PPD is combined with Hydrogen Peroxide, it can be very toxic which may lead to cancer.

DMDM hydantoin:
This is a preservative often used as a means of killing off fungi, bacteria, and yeasts. It is most commonly used in herbicides, floor waxes, copying paper, inks, latex paints, shampoos, conditioners, and other beauty products. DMDM hydantoin releases small amounts of formaldehyde the longer that it sits on the shelf.

Lead Acetate:
A colour additive that has been used for a long time in hair dyes. It is a key ingredient in what is known as progressive dyes. These types of dyes are more specifically used for men. They allow for a gradual darkening of the hair over some time, but it has to be applied continuously until the desired colour is achieved. Lead acetate is a dangerous neurotoxin. This substance is made by treating litharge with acetic acid. It works by combining with the protein in the hair, which leads to the dark, black colour that can be achieved.

Toulene is an industrial solvent, also known as methylbenzene. It is a clear colourless liquid that is found naturally in crude oil and the tolu tree (tolu balsam, found in South America). The resin was used for traditional healing. Even though this solvent is found naturally, toluene itself is toxic. It has been found to cause a variety of health problems as it is a known neurotoxin, linked to birth defects, allergic reactions, and miscarriage.

A water-soluble organic compound. This white crystalline substance turns pink when exposed to light. It is most commonly used in the rubber industry for the production of tyres, as a chemical fertilisers as well as for wood bonding. This ingredient, when used in hair dyes, can cause scalp irritation and disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system.

A typical conventional hair dye contains quite a long list of ingredients similar to the below:
Creme Colourant: Aqua/Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Deceth-3, Propylene Glycol, Laureth-12, Ethanolamine, Oleth-30, Lauric Acid, Polyquaternium-6, Glycol Distearate, Sodium Metasilicate, 4-Amino-2-Hydroxytoluene, Toluene-2,5-Diamine, Hexadimethrine Chloride, Silica Dimethyl Silylate [Nano]/Silica Dimethyl Silylate, CI 77491/Iron Oxides, CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Ascorbic Acid, Mica, Thiolactic Acid, Thioglycerin, 2-Methyl-5-Hydroxyethylaminophenol, Pentasodium Pentetate, Carbomer, Resorcinol, Parfum/Fragrance. (F.I.L. C22441/4). Developer Creme: Aqua/Water, Hydrogen Peroxide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stannate, Trideceth-2 Carboxamide Mea, Pentasodium Pentetate, Phosphoric Acid, Ceteareth-25, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Glycerin. (F.I.L. C11321/9). Shine Enhancing Conditioner With Royal Jelly: Aqua/Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, PEG-180, Amodimethicone, Cetyl Esters, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Trideceth-6, Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride, Limonene, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Cetrimonium Chloride, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Amyl Cinnamal, Royal Jelly, Parfum/Fragrance. (F.I.L. C45510/1).

The ingredients above are difficult to read and pronounce. It feels like one needs to have a degree in Chemistry to understand what they are exactly. For comparison, natural hair colour will contain only one ingredient, such as pure Henna or pure Indigo powder or a combination of plant and herbal ingredients and perhaps an essential oil or vitamin extract. Here is an ingredients list for a 100% pure herbal hair colour product:

 Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Leaf Powder, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) root powder, Juglans Regia (Walnut) shell powder, Indigofera Tinctoria (Indigo) leaf powder, Indigofera Argentea (Indigo) leaf powder, Algin, Hydrolized Wheat Protein, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Parfume (Essential oils)

Which one will you choose? The more information we have the easier and more educated our choice will be. It is not just about quick results and fashion, it is about our health and longevity. So, what can we do to hide grey hair without compromising our health?

Luckily, nature provides the answers once again. Herbs and other plants have been used for generations for dying hair and fabrics without causing negative side effects. Those safe, natural, and effective ingredients have some limitations, but they certainly won’t cause harm to our skin, hair, and overall health.

Pure Henna and Indigo powder:
Henna and Indigo have both been used for centuries for dying hair and body paint art. Indigo is also used for dying fabric blue, and henna can be used medicinally for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Henna a well-known herb used in India and has been used for body art for over 5000 years. Henna helps to seal the hair cuticle and make it stronger, which helps to prevent hair breakage and split ends. It protects the hair from environmental damage and balances the hair pH and oiliness of the hair. Henna will not lighten hair, for those with dark hair, it will add reddish highlights, brown hair will turn to a deep auburn, and blond/ light hair will go red or orange.

Indigo is of the oldest forms of hair dye. It made by squashing the leaves of the Indigofera plant. When it is used as a dye, it leaves the hair with a dark blue tinge. The powder is green in colour. If you wish to dye your hair black, henna has to be used first as a base and then rinsed, then indigo must be applied. Indigo used to be referred to as “blue gold”  as it was an expensive and rare commodity. It helps to support hair growth and may add volume to your locks. Indigo may also help to reduce dandruff and add a beautiful natural shine to your hair. Henna and Indigo can be used separately or mixed.

Some other natural products that you can use for hair masks or just everyday hair care:

Almond oil:
Almond oil has wonderful nourishing and moisturising properties. This nut oil is rich in vitamin E, Vitamin A, Zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. Massage almond oil into your hair and scalp, as this can help to reduce itchiness, dryness, breakage, and split ends. Due to its extremely hydrating nature, massaging almond oil into the scalp helps to loosen dead skin cells, which will then be washed out once you shower. You can apply the almond oil to your scalp an hour before you shower, or you can leave it in overnight for even better results. Just remember that if you keep it overnight, you may want to put your hair in a plastic covering to prevent your pillow from becoming oily.

Cacao butter:
We all know that cacao butter makes up one of the most delicious foods on the planet, i.e., chocolate! But did you know that you can also use this for your hair? Cacao butter has amazing properties that can help to heal and soften your hair. It is especially great for those with curly or frizzy hair, but it has a wide variety of benefits for hair health overall. It strengthens the hair shaft, gives volume and strength to fine hair, and may help prevent hair loss due to breakage just to name a few. When you use cacao butter, make sure to heat it before you use it as it solidifies at room temperature, which is also why you should not leave it in your hair for more than 10-15 minutes. You can also use it as a conditioner, however, it is recommended that you only apply it to the ends of your hair, because otherwise, it could give your hair a weighed-down appearance.

Coconut oil:
You have probably heard about the many uses for coconut oil a variety of times, but we can’t leave it out. It has a diverse number of benefits for the hair because it is rich in lauric acid, medium-chain fatty acids, and has antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil can help to moisturise hair, protect it against protein loss, support hair growth, and fight infections and fungus. Researchers found that due to the lauric acid content of coconut oil, applying it to your hair can help reduce protein loss due to its high affinity for hair proteins and low molecular weight, which helps it to penetrate the hair shaft. A hair mask with coconut oil and few drops of tee tree oil is considered one of the most efficient natural anti-dandruff treatments.

Jojoba oil:
Jojoba oil is a magnificent oil to use for hair and skin! The oil is a liquid plant wax, derived from the seed of the Jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis). It is most commonly used to treat psoriasis, sunburn, and chapped skin, but it is also popular for hair because of its ability to unclog hair follicles and encourage hair regrowth. Jojoba oil is very rich in vitamin E and vitamin B which are essential vitamins for healthy hair. The oil also helps to restore moisture to the hair, recover split ends, getting rid of dandruff, and improving hair texture. For those of us who struggle with frizzy hair, jojoba is great at calming the frizz naturally. Simply add a bit of oil to your brush and comb through your hair for soft shiny more-manageable hair.

Essential oils:
There are a variety of essential oils that can be used for hair instead of conventional hair care products, which most often contain harmful chemicals. You have to combine them with a carrier oil or add a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner.

Cedarwood essential oil is extracted from the wood of the cedarwood tree and is often used in hair products due to its ability to encourage hair growth. When mixed with a carrier the oil can be massaged into the scalp to help promote circulation which in turn stimulates hair follicles and increases hair growth. Cedarwood essential will also calm an itchy scalp and helps remove flaky skin, making it a perfect remedy for dandruff.

Most of us would know chamomile as a tea, but there is also a chamomile essential oil. The essential oil is great for adding softness and shine to your hair. To lighten your hair, combine about 5 drops of chamomile essential oil with one tablespoon of sea salt, 1/3 of a cup of baking soda, and warm water to create a paste. Apply the paste to your hair, massaging it into the scalp and base of the hair. Leave in for half an hour then rinse. No bleach needed! If you want the effect to be a bit stronger, you can also sit out in the sun.

This very well-known essential oil has got very prominent hair growth-promoting effects. A 2016 study found that lavender essential oil was able to significantly increase the number of hair follicles, as well as thicken the thermal layer. This fragrant oil can help to reduce dandruff, get rid of fungal or bacterial issues, and also restore dry skin and hair.

Clary Sage
Just like lavender essential oil, clary sage contains an ester called linalyl acetate which helps to reduce skin inflammation and helps to promote hair growth and thickness. Clary sage combines well with jojoba oil to help regulate oil production from the skin, which can aid in reducing any flakiness that could potentially lead to dandruff.

Lemongrass essential oil works wonderfully for soothing an irritated scalp along with strengthening hair follicles. It may also be used as part of natural dandruff treatment.

The powerful antiseptic properties of peppermint essential oil make it ideal for helping to treat dandruff and lice. It may promote hair growth and decrease inflammation. Few drops of Peppermint can be added to your shampoo or conditioner for a refreshing morning experience.

Rosemary essential oil is another infamous oil for promoting and stimulating hair growth and thickness. It is said to help with slowing down the greying process, reducing dandruff, treating dry scalp, and preventing baldness. Rosemary oil can be mixed with olive oil or coconut oil and applied to hair then rinsed out with shampoo. The treatment should be done about twice a week for maximum results.

This essential oil is perfect for those who struggle with dry scalp. People with oily hair should avoid using it. The Ylang-Ylang essential oil has been found to revitalise sebum production. The lack of sebum production can lead to dry and brittle hair. By using ylang-ylang, you would be able to revive texture and diminish hair breakage.

Remember to be aware of what you are putting onto your body, and subsequently, into your body. The skin is our biggest organ, and 60% of what you put onto your skin and hair will be absorbed straight into your bloodstream. With so many natural options, it is easy to treat your hair with love and care, avoid the conventional products containing toxic, harsh chemicals and nourish it with natural and organic products. You will feel and see the difference!

Detoxifying Herbs: Milk Thistle and Dandelion

Detoxifying Herbs: Milk Thistle and Dandelion

In the modern world we are constantly exposed to various toxins – from consumption of highly-processed foods containing synthetic additives to environmental toxins, prescription medications and, cleaning and beauty products we use daily. The cocktail of chemicals we receive daily is causing an overload on our body’s detoxification systems and organs and leads to disruptions in proper functions and development of diseases.
Our bodies have amazing abilities to detoxify and our overall wellbeing depends on how well these detoxification processes work. The liver is one of the most important organs responsible for detoxification. It works tirelessly to remove toxins from our body, to detoxify the blood, to produce the bile that is needed to digest fat, to store essential vitamins, minerals, and iron as well as to break down hormones.
When the liver functions are compromised, we struggle to digest food correctly (specifically fats), don’t have energy, feel tired, and sleepy.
Factors such as:

  1. Heavy alcohol abuse
  2. Low potassium levels
  3. Intravenous drug usage
  4. Obesity, or a diet high in saturated fats/ processed foods
  5. High levels of triglycerides in the blood
  6. Prescription medications
  7. Autoimmune diseases
  8. Viral infections

All of these listed above may cause severe stress on the liver and disruption of its normal functions.
There are also various signs and symptoms that can give an indication that your liver isn’t functioning optimally:

  1. Constipation
  2. Acid reflux and heartburn
  3. Bloating and gas
  4. Inability to lose weight
  5. Moodiness, anxiety, or depression
  6. Chronic fatigue
  7. Rosacea
  8. High blood pressure
  9. Skin or eyes that are yellowish
  10. Dark urine
  11. Bruise easily
  12. Excessive sweating
  13. Poor appetite

Cleansing your liver is extremely important.
Did you know that the average woman living in the Western world puts over 500 different chemicals into her body daily through the beauty products she uses and around 60% of those are absorbed through the skin, hair, and nails? Even though men use fewer products, they are still putting around 85 different chemicals into their bodies each day. That is separate from the chemicals and toxins that our body absorbs from the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the cleaning products that we use in our homes and offices, from paint, fire retardants, non-stock cooking ware, medicines, vaccines, etc. Our liver needs regular detox to be able to cope with the gigantic task of keeping our body clean of toxins. Luckily, for us, Nature provides plants and herbs that are very beneficial for boosting liver function as well as helping to detoxify this important organ. Some of those plants, such as Milk Thistle and Dandelion, we consider weeds. They grow in different climates and many countries, including in our back gardens.

Milk Thistle
Milk thistle (Onopordum acanthium), also known as Cotton thistle and Scotch thistle, is native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. The plant’s upper stem, leaves, flowers, and seeds have been used for over 2000 years for medicinal purposes such as improving libido, skin health, and weight loss. It has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is especially beneficial for improving liver health. This healing herb acts as a powerful liver cleanser, aids in removing toxins from the body that are not processed by the liver, assists in liver regeneration, and help to reduce liver damage.
Keeping our liver health is vital for staying healthy in general. The liver is the largest internal organ that is in charge of various detoxifying functions. It performs about 500 functions in the body, including hormone production, releasing sugar into the bloodstream, secreting bile into the small intestine for the absorption of fat, and more. Traditional medicinal practices have been prescribing Milk Thistle concoctions for treating alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver, toxin-induced liver diseases, and acute and chronic viral hepatitis. The active ingredient in the plant, Silymarin, has a strong antioxidant effect and is shown to help with reversing toxicity in the liver and body.
Additionally, milk thistle has also been found to help with a variety of other health issues:

  1. May help to reduce the risk of cancer development.
  2. May aid in lowering high cholesterol
  3. Could help to prevent or control diabetes
  4. May help to prevent gallstones
  5. May have anti-aging effects

Health Benefits of Milk Thistle

The plant that most people know to be a horrible pesky weed, or as one that they can use to make wishes, actually has great medicinal properties. Dandelions, Taraxacum officinale, have a deep-rooted history in traditional medicine, which has been traced back to 659 B.C. in ancient China. Dandelion root was traditionally used to help heal the liver, as well as to promote better digestion. The plant is rich in fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. The high amounts of antioxidants present in this plant are promoting proper liver functions including bile production and flow.
This common garden weed is also often recommended for various other health issues:

  1. help promote skin health
  2. stimulate digestive tract functions
  3. help strengthen bones, because of the high amount of vitamin K present
  4. prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria due to its powerful antimicrobial properties
  5. assist the body’s ability to lower cholesterol
  6. has anti-cancer properties

Health Benefits of Dandelion

Both milk thistle and dandelion are plant powerhouses, with great antioxidant properties that are so beneficial for your liver as well as your overall health. Dandelion and milk thistle can come in the form of a tea, tincture, or capsule supplement. Keep in mind milk thistle and dandelion are very potent plants. To avoid any possible interaction with medications or supplements that you already take, make sure that you consult with your health care practitioner prior to using them. Taking these two plants or herbal supplements can help improve your liver function, but to see improvement in your health a dietary change is vital. Avoiding foods that are increasing the strain on your liver and including foods that are stimulating and nourishing for the liver and the body.

Foods that support liver function:

1.Raw vegetable juice
The easiest way to get in the nutrients that you need to cleanse the liver from veggies is by juicing them. Juicing the vegetables makes them easier to digest and also allows for better absorption. The best vegetables to use when doing a liver cleanse are cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower. These veggies help to regulate the body’s pH level. You can also add your favourite green veggies, or you can add carrots, and beetroot to make it more enjoyable.

2. Carrots!
Did you know that carrots are great for detoxing the liver because the beta carotene that is present in carrots gets converted to vitamin A? This helps to get rid of toxins in the body as well as help reduce fat in the liver.

3. Foods rich in potassium
Getting your daily dose of potassium is important for reducing systolic blood pressure, supporting a healthy cardiovascular system, and cleansing the liver. Some foods that are rich in potassium are sweet potatoes, organic tomato sauces/ purees, spinach, white beans, lima beans, blackstrap molasses, and bananas.

4. Turmeric
Turmeric has a variety of health benefits; it is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. But it also helps aid in digestion and it supports healthy liver tissue and metabolism.

Foods for Liver Function Infographic

Foods to avoid when your liver is compromised or for better liver health:

  1. Excessive alcohol and caffeine.
  2. Fruits and vegetables that have been excessively sprayed with pesticides.
  3. Foods that are made with hydrogenated oils, refined vegetable oils, as well as artificial sweeteners or ingredients.
  4. Refined grains such as white bread, white rice, and white flour to name a few.
  5. Snacks, foods, and drinks that are filled with sugar
  6. Processed meats such as deli meats or cold cut meats which contain nitrates
  7. Dairy that has been pasteurised and homogenised, farm-factory meat and fish.

Your liver health is extremely important, so treat it with love and care and support it with good nutritious food!

All you need to know about Artemisia

All you need to know about Artemisia

Artemisia plant has been known for hundreds of years as a traditional medicine across the globe. In European cultures, it has been recommended for boosting appetite and improving digestive disorders, while in African countries it is used as a natural anti-malaria supplement. The plant has been researched quite well with many clinical trials verifying its beneficial properties, such as improving diversity of gut microbiome and helping combat Malaria.

This aromatic perennial herb is found in almost every part of the world, including Africa, Asia, and Europe. The plant has greyish-green feathery leaves and bears small cream-coloured flowers in summer. ⁠It forms part of the daisy family and has over 400 species. The most known types of Artemisia are Artemisia absinthium, Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood), Artemisia cina and Artemisia argyi (used in Tradititonal Chinese Medicine).
Artemisia varieties native to South Africa are Artemisia afro and Artemisia annua.
Artemisia is also known as Wormwood (English), Wilde Als (Afrikaans) and Lengana (Tswana and Southern Sotho) and mhlonyane (isiZulu).
The leaves, stems, and flowers of the wormwood plant all have very powerful medicinal properties and can be used fresh or dried, often made into teas to help with a variety of illnesses.
The sudden spike of interest about the medicinal properties of Artemisia happened after the president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, promoted in April 2020 a new natural supplement as a possible treatment for the latest worldwide-spread viral outbreak. The news about this locally produced herbal supplement went viral and Artemisia became a star herb overnight.
For the average reader the information available on the web is confusing – some sources claim Artemisia is a cure for many infections including viral, others say it has no health benefits whatsoever. We’ve been following the heated arguments between those who promote natural means and the modern medicine practitioners in regards to the benefits of Artemisia and below is a short summary of possible health benefits this fascinating plant provides:
Recommended for treating cold, cough and fevers:
Artemisia has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine and for treating fever, cold and coughs. The plant is rich in polysaccharides, glycans and inulin, which are shown in laboratory trials to protect from enteric and systemic pathogens.
Effective treatment for Malaria:
Artemisinin, an active compound found in Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood), is known to be one of the strongest natural anti-malarial agent, recognised and recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO). This bioactive ingredient was first isolated by Chinese researchers is 1972 and even since it is considered the most effective drug in treating cerebral malaria and chloroquine resistant falciparum malaria.
Powerful anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties:
Wormwood essential oil has been found to exhibit promising anti-microbial and ant-ifungal capabilities. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry has research that shows that wormwood essential oil has strong antimicrobial effects on various bacterial strains including E. coli and salmonella.
Moreover, along with its antimicrobial properties, it has also got powerful anti-fungal abilities. The oil that is extracted from Artemisia absinthium was found to hinder the growth of a wide variety of fungi.
Effective against SIBO and Crohn’s disease:
Wormwood tea and capsules are potentially very helpful in fighting against small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) symptoms.
A study that was conducted in Germany on 40 patients that were on steroids for Crohn’s disease, was given herbal blend containing 500 milligrams of wormwood. The steroids were maintained up until week two and then after that, they were slowly decreased until zero steroids were taken by the 10th week. Steady improvement was found in 18 of the patients with Crohn’s disease despite the decrease in steroids.
Wormwood was found to be effective in decreasing or removing the need for steroids in Crohn’s disease patients. It was also found that wormwood helped to improve mood and overall quality of life in the patients.
Anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating properties:
Artemisinin is thought to inhibit cytokines and prevent cytokines storm which in turn helps the immune system from overload.
Anti-parasite properties:
Wormwood is said to be effective for removing intestinal worms such as pinworms, tapeworms, and roundworms. A study, done in 2018, found that Wormwood effectively caused worm paralysis, death, and ultrastructural alterations.
Antiviral properties:
The anti-viral properties of Artemisia have been researched for the past few months and official results are pending.

Artemisia is a plant with versatile health benefits and can be taken as a tea, extract, tinctures, and even in skin ointments.
Please, note that Artemisia is a very potent plant and it must be used with caution. Consult your health practitioner if not sure or if you have an existing health condition.

Organic Choice stocks herbal powders, tinctures and extracts from locally grown Artemisia plant varieties by Proudly South African brands.
Neogenesis range includes capsules and tinctures in highly concentrated form. Their Lamaria capsules are full spectrum 100% yeald extracts of Artemisia annua, 4 times stronger than industry extracts; and are alkalized with 90 ionic trace minerals and Fulvic Acid. The tinctures are made with the freshest organically grown, wild-crafted herbs and are
Meridian Herbs uses their own organically grown herbs. Their capsules contain a pure powdered form of Lengana (Artemisia Afra).

Disclaimer: We make no claims to the effectiveness of Artemisia in the treatment of viral infections. Research is still underway to investigate its efficacy and there is currently no scientifically proven treatment. Artemisia is not a proven cure or treatment for COVID-19 and has not been evaluated as such by WHO.


Madagascar’s president promotes unproven herbal cure for COVID-19

Immune-Boosting Red Marine Algae

Immune-Boosting Red Marine Algae

Gigartina Red Marine Algae is a type of seaweed which has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine 300 B.C as a nutritious source of food and for treating medical conditions.

Algae comes in a wide range of colours, from blue-green, to brown, to red and is one the most ancient species of plant-like organisms, which can be traced back to the Jurassic period.
Algae plays a role in producing oxygen and provide the base for the oceanic food pyramid.
There are over 4000 species of red algae that have been classified by scientist to this date. Gigartina is one of the most beneficial and potent types available. It is said to have 20 times more mineral content than plants that grow on land.

Benefits of Red Algae

  • Immune Boosting and Anti-Viral Properties.
    The strain, Gigartina skottsbergii, is a rare type of red marine algae containing the highest number of sulphated polysaccharides found in sea plants. Sulfated polysaccharides are unique protein-bound carbohydrates (complex sugars that contain sulphur) that stimulate body’s immune response to bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins. Human clinical trials indicate the sulfated polysaccharides in Gigartina may help to improve immune function, help counter viruses such as herpes, shingles, HIV and influenza and may reduce the number of viral attacks and their severity. Scientific evidence suggests that Gigartina red algae may interfere with virus’s ability to attach to a host cell. A study conducted in 2009 in New Zealand had found that Gigartina marine algae was effective in preventing the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1) from infecting the body. This was due to the presence of the sulphate polysaccharides. Gigartina also contains Carrageenan, another active component with strong anti-viral and immune boosting properties.
  • Support healthy gut.
    The sulphated polysaccharides can benefit the growth of good bacteria in your gut, which help improve your overall gut health, such as improving nutrient absorption, immune function, and inflammation just to name a few.
  • Rich in essential trace minerals and Iodine
    Red algae are a very good source of protein, minerals such as Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium, vitamins such as A and B12, and fibres. Gigartina red algae has also been found to be high in natural form of Iodine, which is may help with thyroid-related issues.
  • Support eye health and prevent eye degeneration
    It is also one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants, which help to protect our bodies from damage from free radicals. The antioxidants Zeaxanthin and Lutein present in red algae also provide a natural support for eye health and help to prevent macular degeneration.
  • Anti-inflammatory and pain relief
    Omega 3 Fatty Acid and Chlorophil are compounds found in Gigartina and other algae, which provide anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective and analgesic properties. Studies suggest Gigartina may help with improving gastric ulcer conditions.
  • Great for skin, hair and nails health
    Red marine algae are believed to help with skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, herpes and promote healthy skin, hair and nails. The Astaxanthin content has been proven to have natural UV protection effect, neutralizes free radicals and have overall anti-aging effect on skin.
  • Preventing anxiety and depression
    Another great health benefit is that Gigartina is a very rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for helping to regulate mood, preventing anxiety and depression, and can aid in enhancing cognitive function.
  • Good for heart support and cardio-vascular system
    Gigartina is recommended for athletes and people who do lots of physical activities as it is a good source of Magnesium – a mineral essential for over 300 functions in the body including cardiovascular system and muscles performance and tone.

It is important to note that algae supplements can interact negatively with immunosuppressing medications as well as medications that slow blood clotting.

Vibrant Health offers a rare supplement with pure Red Algae extract, Gigartina. This potent natural product features 1000mg with Gigartina skottsbergii extract conveniently packed in a capsule form.
Another Vibrant Health product containing Red Marine Algae extract is their Immune Defense featuring 50ml with Red Algae extrac blended with few herbal and natural compounds for a intestinal immune function support and protection against harmful patogens.

The Wonders of Vitamin C

The Wonders of Vitamin C

When we think of vitamin C, an orange or lemon may immediately come to mind. We know that vitamin C can help boost the immune system, but there is a multitude of other benefits that vitamin C has for our body which helps it to function.

Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be produced by our body, meaning that we can only obtain it through the food we eat or supplements we take. It has powerful antioxidant properties and helps to maintain the body’s connective tissue, along with improving skin health. Vitamin C has been found to be a valuable ingredient for collagen production (which is an important component of blood vessels, bones, and ligaments) as well as other compounds such as L-Carnitine and neurotransmitters.

Health benefits of vitamin C:

1)  Powerful antioxidant properties: Antioxidants have been found to be important for fending off disease-causing free radicals and preventing oxidative stress.

2)  Boosts immunity: Studies have found that vitamin C may aid in reducing symptoms and shortening the duration of respiratory tract infections. It may also help to minimise the occurrence of other diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhoea.

3)  May help prevent anemia: Vitamin C has been found to help increase the absorption of iron. Anaemia is a condition that occurs due to a lack of healthy red blood cells which can be a result of poor absorption of vitamin B12 and iron in the body. The symptoms of anaemia include fatigue, chest pain, and weakness. Studies have found that vitamin C can increase iron absorption by 67 percent when taken with a meal.

4)  Improves heart health: Studies have found that vitamin C may help to improve your heart health and prevent heart disease. A study found that supplementing with 500 milligrams of Vitamin C a day decreased LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

5)  May help reduce the risk of gout: Vitamin C has been found to help protect against gout as there has been a variety of studies that show that a higher intake of vitamin C leads to a lower risk of gout developing. The reasoning behind this is that vitamin C helps to lower the uric acid levels in the blood, which aids in reducing gout incidences.

6)  Gives skin a beautiful glow: Vitamin C is involved in collagen production and as a result, it can help delay the aging of the skin, along with helping to protect against skin damage. Ascorbic acid is a notorious ingredient found in many cosmetics and skin care products due to its wonderful antioxidant properties.

Sources of Vitamin C in foods

Vitamin C is found in an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, which can be easily incorporated into our daily meals. The list below contains the fruits and vegetables with highest Vitamin C content:

  • Black Currants, Camu Camu, Acerola Cherry
  • Kiwi fruit, Guava, Oranges, Strawberries, Blueberries
  • Papaya, Pineapple, Mango, Grapefruit
  • Red Peppers, Broccoli, Kale
  • Brussels Sprouts, Tomatoes, Spinach

Vitamin C supplements:

Vitamin C can also be taken in the form of a daily supplement. There are a variety of different types of vitamin C supplements available on the market and many people wonder what the differences are. Here is a simplified breakdown explaining the different types so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing a vitamin C supplement:

1)  Ascorbic Acid: Ascorbic acid is derived from sugar dextrose and is white in colour. As the name suggests, it is acidic in nature. It has a polyhydroxy function which gives it its antioxidant properties. It is a natural water-soluble vitamin. Ascorbic acid is the most common and most affordable version of a vitamin C supplement.

2)  Buffered vitamin C: This form of vitamin C is less acidic but still has the same nutritional benefits as standard vitamin C supplements. Buffered vitamin C is often combined with minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium. The reason that it is combined with these minerals is so that it does not cause gastrointestinal irritation and it allows for higher doses of vitamin C to be taken. Additionally, minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium reduce the rate at which vitamin C passes through the gastrointestinal system, therefore, providing more time for optimal absorption. This form of vitamin C is great for those who suffer from gastrointestinal issues, those who exercise regularly, and those who need hormonal balancing.

3)  Ester-C: A non-acidic (neutral pH) form of vitamin C. The main component of this form of vitamin C is calcium. This makes it much easier to digest. The metabolites (dehydroascorbic acid and calcium threonate) inside Ester-C help to create higher retention of vitamin C in cells.

4)  Vitamin C Magnesium Ascorbate: Magnesium ascorbate is another non-acidic form of vitamin C. Ascorbic acid and magnesium are synthesized in order to form magnesium ascorbate. It is also gentler on the digestive tract, making it a great option for those who are acid-sensitive. Magnesium ascorbate has wonderful benefits, such as helping to support heart, bone, and muscle health as well as the immune system. It can also help with reversing the effects of excess calcium.

5) Vitamin C Sodium Ascorbate: Sodium ascorbate is a more bioavailable form of vitamin C, and like that of magnesium ascorbate, it is also easier on the digestive tract as it is less acidic and is more suitable for those with gastrointestinal issues.

6) Liposomal vitamin C: This form of vitamin C uses liposomal technology, which creates an increase in the absorption of nutrients. It is the most expensive version of vitamin C, as liposomal technology is used to capture the active ingredients inside these protective membranes known as liposomes, which consists of bi-layers of phospholipid molecules. These phospholipid molecules are similar to our own body’s cell membranes which protect contents thus allowing it to pass through the digestive juices without experiencing gastrointestinal distress and then delivering the vitamin C directly to the cells. Liposomal vitamin C ensures almost 100% bioavailability as it delivers more vitamin C into the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency:

Many people have heard of scurvy, the condition which caused the deaths of many British sailors during the 1700s. Scurvy is the result of the disturbance of the synthesis of collagen and connective tissues due to lack of Vitamin C in the body. Nowadays, scurvy is very rare condition, but studies have found that people who have digestive disorders or smoke are more susceptible to vitamin C deficiency. Some of the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Fatigue
  • Easy bruising
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Swollen joints
  • Dry, splitting hair
  • Weakened immune system
  • Gingivitis

There can also be negative side-effects from taking too much vitamin C, for example, you may experience diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps. In addition, excessive amounts of vitamin C can cause kidney stones (more prominent in men), insomnia, and an accumulation of iron. Nonetheless, vitamin C has low toxicity and excess amounts of vitamin C in the body are excreted. The tolerable amount of vitamin C for adults is 2000mg daily, which far exceeds the amount of vitamin C that you will get from your daily diet.

Vitamin C is a really powerful vitamin and is so essential for our bodies to function well. The best source of Vitamin C is from whole foods such as Camu Camu, berries etc. Some alternative health practitioners advice on taking mega doses with Vitamin C to keep cold, flu and viruses at bay.

Ingredients Policy & Ingredients to Avoid

Ingredients Policy & Ingredients to Avoid

Central to Organic Choice is our ingredient policy. Every single product that we stock has been carefully analysed by the team, and only products that meet our strict ingredients policy have been approved to be on our shelves.

Why do we do that? Is really necessary to read the ingredients list on all products?

Most of us know what organic means and why organic food is better for us, but have you ever read the ingredients on a shampoo bottle or dishwashing liquid? Have you ever questioned what parabens, diethanolamine (DEA), sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate (SLS) or phthalates are? We rely on legislation and regulation bodies to control what is used and entrust our health and lives in the hands of a system that works on the presumption that chemicals are safe until proven hazardous.

Many synthetic ingredients, classified as toxic or potentially dangerous, have been used in beauty and cleaning products for decades. They are allowed by existing regulations because the application of small quantities of chemicals is considered to be safe. However, recent scientific research shows that long term exposure to tiny doses of chemicals can have the same disastrous effects on health as exposure to large doses.

With about 80,000 different chemicals present in our life – from our food, cosmetics and medicines to furniture and cell phones – only about  2,000 are properly assessed for safety. We can’t afford to be ignorant.

Organic Choice was created to help more people understand what goes into the products we use every day.

We provide information about the latest research and data of ingredients, the effects of synthetic additives on our health, eco-living tips, organic news and much more.

You will never find the ingredients below (plus quite a few more) in the products we offer and sell.

Ingredients to avoid in foods:

1.Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – Flavour enhancer often found in soups, seasonings, frozen entrees, sauces, cold drinks and many restaurant foods, MSG is known to over-excite brain cells in the hypothalamus. Studies have shown this may increase hunger and trigger strong food cravings, leading you to overeat. Some people do have a sensitivity to MSG and may experience symptoms like headaches, sweating and numbness after eating a large amount.

2.High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, and saccharine) – HFCS is a highly refined sweetener that’s found in most processed foods, particularly soda, juice, candy, breakfast cereals and snack foods. This additive is so calorie-dense it’s one of the major contributors to the obesity epidemic. Like trans fats, it raises bad cholesterol levels and can lead to diabetes. Artificial sweeteners are used in many diet foods and beverages to enhance sweetness while reducing calorie content. Artificial sweeteners are made with chemicals known to be neurotoxins and carcinogens, affecting brain function. Some of these chemicals affect your weight by triggering the hormone that instructs your body to store fat, and decreasing levels of serotonin (which regulates your mood, sleep cycle, and digestion).

3.Synthetic Growth hormones (rBST and rBGH) – Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) are used to increase milk production in cows. Cows given the hormone are more prone to udder infections and thus are given more antibiotics than cows that are not treated with the hormone. Studies have linked growth hormones, which are given to conventionally raised dairy cows and cattle, to early puberty and obesity.

4.Artificial/Synthetic Colourants (dyes) – Artificial food colouring is used to brighten and improve the appearance of everything from candies to condiments. In recent years, though, there have been many concerns about potential health effects and artificial food colouring has been linked to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chromosomal damage, and thyroid cancer, among other conditions. Specific food dyes like Blue no. 1 (also known as Brilliant Blue FCF or E133), Blue no. 2 (also known as Indigo Carmine or E132), Red no. 40 (also known as Allura Red AC or E129), Yellow no. 5 (also known as Tartrazine or E102), and Yellow no. 6 (also known as Sunset Yellow FCF or E110) have been associated with allergic reactions in some people.

Also look out for the letters D&C preceding a colour. They are considered carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer but are approved for use in drugs and cosmetics. Take lipstick for example, which come in an enormous array of colours. A red lipstick might be called Red 33 Lake, but the colour code is actually C1 17200. This is frightening considering that once applied, it can be very easily ingested.

5.Artificial flavours – Artificial flavours are chemicals designed to mimic the taste of other ingredients. They can be used to imitate a variety of different flavours, from popcorn and caramel to fruit and beyond. Animal studies have found that these synthetic flavours could have some concerning effects on health and may be toxic to bone marrow cells. Look for “chocolate” or “cocoa” on the ingredients label rather than “chocolate flavouring” or “artificial flavouring.”

6.Sodium nitrites and nitrates – These food additives are used to preserve, flavour, and add colour to processed meats like bacon, ham, hot dogs and also wines. They’re carcinogenic, cause allergic reactions and headaches and can negatively affect the function of the liver and pancreas, the organ responsible for insulin production.

7.Hydrogenated oils (Trans fats) – Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that has undergone hydrogenation, which increases shelf life and improves the consistency of products. It can be found in many types of processed foods like baked goods, margarine, microwave popcorn and biscuits. Trans fats are dangerous because they increase the body’s LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol; they also heighten the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other health problems. Trans fats have been banned, but it is still going to be several years for these evil fats to be rooted out of our food supply. You can also make a few simple switches in your diet, like using butter instead of margarine and swapping out vegetable oils for olive oil or coconut oil instead.

8.Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – You’ll find these preservatives in cereals, chewing gum, and potato chips. In large quantities, both BHA and BHT can wreak havoc in your body, from disrupting your endocrine system to producing cancer-causing compounds.

9.Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate – Potassium and sodium benzoate are preservatives added to soft drinks and acidic foods like salad dressings, pickles, fruit juices and condiments to inhibit the growth of mould, bacteria and yeast. One study found that combining sodium benzoate with artificial food colouring increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old children. Another study showed that a higher intake of beverages containing sodium benzoate was associated with more symptoms of ADHD in 475 college students. When combined with vitamin C, or light and heat, benzoate can also be converted into benzene, a compound that may be associated with cancer development. Carbonated beverages contain the highest concentration of benzene, and diet or sugar-free beverages are even more prone to benzene formation. To minimize your intake of sodium benzoate, check the labels of your food carefully. Avoid foods that contain ingredients like benzoic acid, benzene or benzoate, especially if combined with a source of vitamin C such as citric acid or ascorbic acid.

10.Bisphenol A (BPA) – BPA is not necessarily a food ingredient, but is found in the epoxy resin lining aluminium cans, the lining of some glass jar lids, cash register receipts and some plastic bottles and containers. There is more and more research linking BPA to many reproductive disorders, such as infertility, cancer and abnormalities in child growth. Look for BPA-free cans and containers and avoid microwaving in plastic.

Ingredients to avoid in everyday products:

1.Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)/Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) – It is found in more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products like shampoos, mascara, acne treatment, body wash and household cleaning products. When SLS/SLES interacts with other chemicals (like many listed above) it forms nitrosamines – a carcinogen. It can affect the skin, eyes, kidneys and the lungs.

2.Parabens (ethyl, butyl, methyl, propyl) – These are preservatives that stop the growth of bacteria in products. But they also produce estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with an increased risk of cancers such as breast cancer. A study done in the UK found that biopsied breast cancer tumours contained traces of parabens. Read all your labels carefully, as parabens are not only found in personal care products but also in food and pharmaceutical products. Here’s a post about how to avoid parabens.

3.Phthalates (dibutyl, diethyl, dimethyl) – These are a group of chemicals found in the majority of nail polishes, perfumes, lotions, and hairsprays. They are endocrine disruptors and are linked to breast cancer and reproductive birth defects. Scarily, you often won’t even see these on the label as they can be legally ‘hidden’ under ‘fragrance/parfum’. Here’s a post about how to avoid phthalates.

4.Triclosan – This is widely used as an antimicrobial chemical, and also an endocrine disruptor – particularly targeting the thyroid and reproductive hormones. It is also a skin irritant. Not only that, triclosan is known to contribute to making bacteria antibiotic resistant. Think hand sanitisers, antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, and deodorants.

5.Propylene Glycol – Found in moisturisers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoos and hairspray. It’s a small organic alcohol compound that is used as a skin conditioning agent. It is actually classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. It can cause hives and dermatitis.

6.Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) – PFCs are used in the manufacture of non-stick cookware, and they could be detrimental to your health. PFCs have been shown to be toxic in animal studies, exerting negative reproductive, developmental and systemic effects. The risk really occurs when the pans/pots are heated too high or when they become scratched. Make sure you use a wooden or a silicone utensil because PFCs can be dislodged in that non-stick coating when it gets scratched.

7.Atrazine – Drinking water is a major source of atrazine, one of the most common pesticides used to control weeds in the cultivation of corn, sorghum and sugarcane. The problems that it causes are an increased risk for cancer as well as increased cardiovascular risks. Atrazine, together with the more commonly used pesticides, can be effectively removed from water by passing it through a granular activated carbon water filter.

8.Fluoride – Fluoride is found naturally in soil, water, and foods. It is also produced synthetically for use in drinking water, toothpaste, mouthwashes and various chemical products. Fluoride comes from fluorine, which is a common, natural, and abundant element. Adding fluoride to the water supply reduces the incidence of tooth decay as it protects teeth from decay by demineralization and remineralization. Too much fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis or skeletal fluorosis, which can damage bones and joints. In some cases, excess fluoride can damage the parathyroid gland. This can result in hyperparathyroidism, which involves uncontrolled secretion of parathyroid hormones. In 2017, a report was published suggesting that exposure to fluoride before birth could lead to poorer cognitive outcomes in the future. In 2014, fluoride was documented as a neurotoxin that could be hazardous to child development.

9.Fire Retardants – Found in household products such as upholstered furniture, mattresses, carpet padding, electronics and in the foam of kids’ products such as car seats, changing tables, nap mats and nursing pillows, fire retardants are meant to keep you safe, but they could be doing more harm than good. According to the Environmental Working Group, the contaminants leak out of products and adhere to children’s hands and other items they may put in their mouths. Even low exposure during development could cause reproductive damage and issues with behaviour, memory, hearing, learning and motor skills in children. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are cited as being among the most toxic fire retardants.

10.Lead – Found in lead-based paint and some cosmetics. Low levels of lead can cause high blood pressure, compromised brain and kidney function and increased risk of miscarriage. In children, lead can cause developmental and behavioural problems, premature birth, low birth weight and learning difficulties. Lead dust created during the normal wear and tear of lead-based paint surfaces produces the most common source of poisoning.

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