Archive for the ‘Toxicity’ category

Skin Allergies – Just the beginning?

July 10, 2013

Warning over ‘epidemic’ of skin allergies from chemicals in cosmetics and household products

I wonder how many people took this headline seriously. We should, because it could have wider implications than we realise.

At last, the news is out that chemicals you put on your skin can have consequences for your health; in fact, you could say that your skin is an excellent drug delivery system!  After all, that’s why hormone patches and nicotine patches work!  So it should come as no surprise that MI (methylisothiazolinone) has negative effects on your skin.

In a world that in increasingly toxic I believe we no longer have the physiological capacity to deal with the huge rise in toxic chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis in one form or another.

Since World War 11, 80,000 new synthetic chemicals have been  produced and released into the environment  –  pesticides, herbicides, chemical solvents, xenobiotics, toxic metals, plasticisers, disinfectants, chemicals from industrial pollution, nitrates and fertilisers, not to mention the rise in smoking and second hand smoke,   – and those are just a handful of what’s on offer.

As far back as 1962, the potential risk from chemicals was highlighted by Rachel Carson in her ground breaking book Silent Spring.

Whilst many companies claim that toxicology studies are done on a particular chemical, what no one can do is assess the risks when different chemicals are combined. If you think about it, it’s an impossible task, where would you begin? There is no way you could test all the different combinations.

Most women are using hundreds of chemicals on a daily basis – shower gel, deodorant, moisturiser, eye cream, night cream, eye shadow, eye liner, lip liner, blusher, lipstick etc and they’re using them every single day.

Many of these chemicals are fat soluble. That means they are stored in fatty/adipose tissue in your body and the organ with the highest % of fat is your brain!

At the moment, the focus is on skin and allergies, but how long will it take to recognise that the increase in brain diseases such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers, just might have something to do with the rise in chemicals in our environment, in our homes, in the products we put on our skin and which, I believe, based on the work I do with clients who suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, are no longer metabolised by an overloaded liver.

When you realise that your liver has specific pathways that deal with all the toxicity most of us are exposed to, it makes sense to support and look after it, which could mean changing your diet, giving up alcohol, changing the products you use, going on a detox, taking appropriate supplements to support liver function..…….there are many options!  There’s a school of thought that says ‘detoxing’ isn’t necessary and it’s a waste of time and money, but your liver is fundamental to your health so it makes sense to take the very best care of it.

Hormones and Hair Loss

February 15, 2012

Losing your hair? 

Losing your hair may not be just down to "growing older"

Before I started my skincare company – Celgenics – I worked with many women to address their hormone problems. One of the questions that was frequently asked is why do women often start losing their hair as they get older, especially in their late 40’s and 50’s?

There  are many causes of hair loss but one of the most common and often undiagnosed causes in this age bracket is a low functioning thyroid.  As women age their thyroid function tends to decline and unfortunately the time of peri-menopause and menopause is when women really need good thyroid function.

Low thyroid function is an underlying problem for many women and quite commonly it’s never picked up until she reaches peri-menopause when her energy drops to the floor and she feels she’s literally dragging herself around.

The relationship of thinning hair to thyroid function is that every single cell in your body is dependent on having adequate thyroid hormone levels.  The thyroid gland produces 2 major hormones, thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) and they work to help the cells  produce energy, otherwise known as ATP [adenosine triphosphate].  The thyroid gland secretes about 1 teaspoon of thyroid hormone [thyroxine] over a  year  and even though that’s a tiny amount, if the balance of T4 and T3 is wrong,  then a wide range of symptoms can develop: Hair loss, brittle nails, cold hands and feet, constipation, dry skin, high cholesterol, poor memory, puffy eyes, weight gain, to list just a few.

Unfortunately, it appears that hypothyroidism [as it’s known clinically] is frequently undiagnosed.

The conventional approach to diagnosing low thyroid function has been to measure TSH [thyroid stimulating hormone].  If the TSH test comes back raised, a diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made.  If the result is normal then it’s usually assumed that there’s no problem with the thyroid.

Unfortunately this test doesn’t take into account the levels of T4 and T3 which can give a much more precise picture of thyroid health.  If you think your thyroid is low, then it’s worth getting a comprehensive thyroid screen carried out which will measure T4 , T3 as well as antibodies which may indicate an auto immune condition such as Graves disease or Hashimoto’s.

Physical signs of low thyroid are very dry skin, hair loss, dry and hard skin on the heels, loss of the outer third of the eyebrow.

Conventional treatment relies mainly on using Thyroxine, a synthetic form of thyroxine.  Another approach is to use a dessicated glandular thyroid product;  Armour is a common one in the UK but requires a prescription by a GP.  Another approach is to work with a nutritional therapist and use glandular products that have had thyroid hormones removed but work by supporting your thyroid to produce more T4 and T3.  Many people find that homeopathic thyroid support works well.

Glandular products are usually derived from porcine thyroid so may not be appropriate for some religious groups, however, there are certainly other options to try.

Once the thyroid is properly supported, all those symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, hard skin on the heels, weight gain can be resolved!   It really can turn peoples’ lives around.

If you suspect your thyroid is low, there are foods that prevent the conversion of T4 to T3 so you could try cutting them down or taking them out of your diet to see if it makes a difference.

Believe it not, cruciferous vegetables which we’re all told to eat, can prevent the conversion of T4 to T3.

These are things like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  The other food which lots of people are eating nowadays is non fermented Soy! Foods like soy milk, soy cheese, tofu etc all fall into this category.

Other factors associated with poor conversion include chronic illness, fasting, heavy metal toxicity, poor adrenal function, high stress levels, fasting and cigarettes to name but a few.


If you have any of the symptoms listed and they don’t respond to changes in diet, rest, more sleep, less stress etc, it’s a good idea to get a comprehensive thyroid test done which includes testing T4 and T3.

Bear in mind that the conventional test measure thyroid hormones in the blood whereas the hormones are actually doing their work within the cells.

Work with a doctor who is prepared to look at your symptoms from a holistic view point or find a nutritional therapist/naturopath who can arrange for you to have the appropriate lab tests and can suggest glandular products to take.

Correcting your low functioning thyroid can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of life.


Sugar started my company

January 25, 2012

I started Celgenics by accident; I never intended to start a skincare company but of course nothing is an accident and everything we do is preparation for the future. On a summer’s evening 4 years ago, a client was lying on my treatment table, telling me that she was going shopping the following day for a moisturiser.  She hated looking for skincare because she was allergic to all the parabens and sodium laurel sulfates that are used as preservatives.  I had been doing lots of ‘detox’ work with her because she was very sensitive to perfumes, petrol fumes, hair dyes and lots of foods, but in particular, sugar, which she absolutely loved.

It so happened [serendipity?] that a few months previously, I had spent a lot of money learning how to make creams, serums, cleansers and lots more lovely natural skincare products.  I offered to make her a moisturiser which, happily, was a great success and she asked me to make 7 more for her sisters as Christmas presents.

Sugar affects our skin in many ways

So that was how I started and there’s lots more to the story, but the point I want to make is that what we put on our skin, what we eat, what we’re exposed to in the way of toxic chemicals such as paints, pesticides, herbicides to name but a few, can have a profound impact on our health.  Sugar is now ubiquitous in our diets. We’re eating more and more of it, in sweets, in biscuits, in Coca Cola and fizzy drinks. It’s so much a part of most people’s lifestyles that we never think about any negative effects it might be having.

Every time you eat sugar you deplete your body of zinc and chromium because they’re both needed to make insulin. And every time you eat sugar, your body has to produce insulin. Insulin is the only hormone we have that reduces blood glucose levels. The sugar ‘rush’ that you get makes you feel nervous and stimulates the brain to crave more sugar.  Over time this constant production of insulin produces what’s known as insulin resistance where the cells become resistant to insulin and the constant production of adrenal hormones to keep your energy going can ultimately lead to adrenal exhaustion.

How many people do you know who eat lots of chocolate and biscuits who say they need it to give them energy but who wake up tired and are permanently exhausted? These people frequently have a whole host of allergies.

Over 20 years most of my work has been helping people back to health by looking at toxicity and out of that has grown my new passion – Celgenics – it encompasses all the ‘healing’ tools I use in my practice and which I want to spread into the world!

Not only does it make you tired…it also makes you age. As well as reducing your sex hormones!

Sugar contributes to the ageing process of cells in a range of ways. It’s a sticky substance, and literally sticks to the proteins in the body to form what are called advanced glycated end products – or the very appropriate acronym AGEs. This process is known as glycation. It’s irreversible, and damages the structure of proteins like collagen, so that your immune system has to remove the damaged protein and produce more collagen. This cruel process then depletes you of Vitamin C, so you can’t produce more collagen, leading to a build-up of AGEs, which causes inflammation.

Not only does sugar age your skin – it gives you cellulite too. Cellulite, those lumpy fat deposits that are the bane of women’s thighs and bottoms worldwide, is frequently caused by a build-up of sugar.

The single most important factor that accelerates ageing is insulin…triggered by sugar. But fortunately, the body has an amazing ability to heal itself, given the right ingredients to work with. Cutting out sugar and reducing your insulin can bring huge health benefits, as well as giving birth to gorgeous skin, if you can just control your urges when they hit!

More glow, more vitality – everything you put into your body is visible when you look in the mirror. So check out your skin – what are you waiting for?

Do you struggle with a reliance on sugar? Or have you given up sugar, and found that it’s benefited your health and your skin? Why not tell us in a comment below?

The Ten Deadly (Skincare) Sins

August 30, 2011

The Ten Deadly (Skincare) Sins

What’s in your skin cream? Any ideas? Thought not. The ingredients lists on cosmetics’ packaging can confuse even the most clued-up label lover. Marian Bourne who created Celgenics shares her tips on what to look out for.

What comes out of the lab isn't always good for your skin

Many products made by leading cosmetics brands contain unfathomable lists of ingredients that can be harmful to not only ourselves, but the environment around us. You need to be armed with the information on what you should be avoiding. So what are the top 10 chemicals to avoid to guarantee you’re not using highly toxic ingredients?

1. Parabens
Otherwise known as methyl, ethyl, propyl, butly (sounding rather like the registration call for a 1930s girls’ school classroom), and also hydoxy methyl benzoates. Parabens are artificial preservatives which can give a product up to seven years of shelf life. They’ve been linked to cancer, they’re neurotoxic and they have hormone-disrupting qualities which mimic oestrogen and interfere with the body’s endocrine system. This is a cluster of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into your bloodstream to regulate your body.

2. Synthetic Colours and Fragrances
Many colours in make-up and fragrances are carcinogenic – defined, this means a substance or radiation that’s an agent directly involved in causing cancer. Labelled as FD&C or D&C, these are followed by a colour and a number. Fragrances for women can contain up to 200 single ingredients. They can also cause many side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, irritation and so on. Both are found in nearly all chemical-based products and cosmetics.

3. Propylene Glycol
This is used as a moisturiser – ideally this is vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural and have virtually no toxicity.   But usually, it’s a synthetic petrochemical mix and labelled as PEG or PPG. They can often cause an allergic reaction, including dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities and could inhibit the growth of your skin cells, or cause skin irritation.

4. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate
A cheap and harsh detergent that is strong enough to degrease an engine! SLS provides the foaming and cleaning action in toothpastes, shampoos, soaps and body washes. Not surprisingly, it easily penetrates the skin and helps other chemicals to penetrate.  It’s sometimes disguised on the label as having been derived from coconut – this too can cause eye and skin irritation.

5. Formaldehyde
Labelled as diazolidinyl urea or imidazolidinyl urea, these chemicals release formaldehyde – a colourless gas that is commonly used to preserve the dead that seems a strange choice for beauty products! It can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and lungs and is a known carcinogen.

6. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
Often used in cosmetics as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents. They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. They are carcinogenic and toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.

7. Toluene
This is poison!  It’s harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made from petroleum or coal tar, it’s found in many synthetic fragrances. Long-term exposure has been linked to anaemia, low blood cell count, liver/kidney damage, and it may even affect a developing foetus – so if you’re pregnant, it’s a nasty it’s very much best to avoid. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.

8. Petrolatum
Commonly known as mineral oil jelly, liquid vaseline, paraffinum and baby oil!  It’s derived from petroleum products and is often mixed with paraffin oil derivatives. These products coat the skin like a plastic so your pores get clogged, and your skin can’t breathe. The ensuing build-up of toxins can lead to acne, dermatitis and photosensitivity, or rash.

9. Carincogens

Watch out for Acrylamide, Bisphenol-A (BPA), Butyl benzyl phthalate, Coal tar dyes, Green 5, Orange 7, Red 3,4,8,9,17,19,33, mineral oils and Nitrofurazone.

10. Skin Whiteners
These are a combination of the hormone cortisone and hydroquinone. Frankly, you shouldn’t see hydroquinone in any European product, because it has been banned. However, if you see it in a product on the internet, don’t be tempted, it’s carcinogenic and may pose a risk of leukemia.

There are many other ingredients to watch out for. A good rule of thumb is to look out for abbreviations e.g. (DEA) or (TEA) in brackets and chemical chain names e.g. stearalkonium chloride. New laws are due to be enforced over the next few years, which should hopefully bring a better understanding of cosmetic ingredient risks. The cosmetics industry may soon find that it has to justify everything that goes into its products – and not before time!

Do your cosmetics contain these nasties? Why not have a rummage through and let me know?

Beware Leaky Gut Syndrome

February 28, 2010

Most people do not know that illnesses such as colds, flu, respiratory disorders and the like, gain entrance into our system by way of the gut.

How, you might ask.

Leaky gut syndrome is the name given to a very common health disorder in which the intestinal lining is more permeable than it should be. This increased permeability of the gut allows entry to all manner of disease, like viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, toxic metals, candida, and toxic materials. All of which can impact your general health and your skin.

With a healthy gut, toxic materials, undigested food and fats are repelled and eliminated; with an unhealthy gut which has become compromised, toxins, undigested protein and fat will pass through the “leaky” intestinal wall, and instead of being utilized by the body, are then a health risk for the individual.

Leaky gut syndrome has become as common an occurrence as the common cold, and it is caused by an inflamed and irritated bowel lining. This inflammation can occur for a number of reasons:

  • Any and all prescriptive corticosteroids.
  • Alcohol and caffeine, which irritate the gut wall, this includes cokes (diet and regular), chocolate, coffee and cocoa.
  • Contaminated foods, E. coli and other bacteria can develop due to poor food handling.
  • Chemicals found in processed and fermented foods (dyes and preservatives), wine, vinegar, soy sauce, tofu, etc.
  • A diet high in refined sugars and other carbohydrates (e.g. candy, cookies, sodas, processed foods and white bread).
  • Foods contaminated by parasites (pork, chicken, fresh water and hatchery fish).
  • Antibiotic use – this causes an overgrowth of bacteria (yeast) in the gut due to the immune suppression that occurs.
  • Ingestion of animal products that have been given hormonal and antibiotic treatments.

Think of the impact on your skin!

Inflammation in the gut causes the normal permeability of the wall to increase, which then allows the absorption of larger molecules, which are normally broken down to smaller pieces, before passing into the body. Once inside, these microbes are then able to invade the bloodstream and colonize just about anywhere in body tissue or organs causing inflammation, pain and disease processes to occur.  This inflammation also damages the protective coating of the antibodies of the IgA family (immunoglobulins) normally present in a healthy gut. The IgA’s help our body to ward off infections, however, a leaky gut causes considerable damage to the immune system IgA’s and makes us less resistant to viruses, bacteria’s, parasites, toxic materials, metals and candida.

Another problem a leaky gut creates is a mineral deficiency, because the damage that happens to the carrier proteins which are needed for transport of specific minerals, are damaged by the inflammatory processes. Loss of carrier proteins can cause a variety of problems and deficiencies – a zinc deficiency can cause hair loss and some eye disorders (macular degeneration). Copper deficiency can lead to Osteoarthritis or even elevated blood cholesterol in some cases.

The inflammation in the gut causes swelling and, along with the noxious chemicals that are present, there will be blocked absorption of vitamins and essential amino acids. Eventually, nutritional deficiencies can lead to other complaints such as fatigue, headaches, memory loss, lack or concentration and irritability. Lower bowel gas, bloating and cramping are also among the symptoms that are associated with a leaky gut. Even unexplained weight gain is another symptom, which can be due to the deficiencies that are created by the leaky gut.

Another problem with leaky gut syndrome is that the toxins that accumulate in the gut put an incredible burden on the liver. Healing a leaky gut reduces the toxic load to the liver and will greatly improve nutritional uptake. Eating a good, nutrient-rich (organic) diet that has a good amount of fibre is a good start. A good detoxification programme is nearly always recommended, but it is important to understand that side effects can occur:

  • Headaches, severe to mild which can last for days if the detox is not done according to   your specific needs.
  • Flu-like reactions, from mild to severe, which can be minimized with the right detoxification program.
  • Lack of energy, this can be eliminated through proper supplementation.
  • Changes in bowel function

Detoxing slowly will help to minimise side effects.

Bridger, J.C.: Brown, J.F. “Development of Immunity to Porcine Rotavirus in Piglets Protected From Disease by Bovine Colostrum” Infectious Immunity 31(3):906-910. 1981. The Journal of the American Nutraceutical Assoc., Cellular Detoxification, Kratz, Allen M., PharmD, Human and Experimental Toxicity, vol. 13, 1994. Walker, Allan, MD, “Antigen Absorption from the Small Intestine and Gastrointestinal Ds.”, Pediatric Clinics of North America. 22(4):731-746, 1975. Doe, W.F., “An Overview of Intestinal Immunity and Malabsorption”, American Journal of Medicine 67(6):1077-1084, 1979. Galland, L.; “Leaky Gut Syndrome: Breaking the Vicious Cycle”, Townsend Letter for Doctors 145(6) 63-68, 1995.

Looking at ‘Common’ Skincare tips

February 2, 2010

When you read any popular beauty magazine they boast some ‘common’ tips for gaining healthy looking skin like drink water, don’t eat chocolate, don’t touch your face too often, sleep well. Yes these factors do contribute to the health and appearance of your skin, however there is an important factor that many of these articles overlook.

What are you putting on your skin? There is more light being shed on this important topic and increasingly more people are turning to natural products. The bottom line is- all the toxic chemicals in cosmetics can damage your skin and are absorbed into the body. So you might be having great sleep and drinking lots of water but your skin could still be being damaged by harmful chemicals in the products you put on your skin day in and day out.

Opt for natural and organic products always. Our skincare is personal, pure, free of chemicals and utilises the healing and regenerating properties of vibrational energy medicine.

We each age in a different way and how we feel on an emotional level is often reflected in the health of our skin.

Like D.H Lawrence writes in his poem ‘Healing’…

I am not a mechanism,
an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism
is working wrongly that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the
Soul, to the deep emotional self…