Natural does not mean non-toxic. Please understand that your ‘natural’ products can still kill me!

As you may remember, my current breathing difficulties all started from an anaphylactic reaction in mid-May. Two and a half months later and I finally have an answer regarding my on-going issues and a new diagnosis: Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome. Oh, and for those following my Blogs, yes, once again I am atypical!

The good news is that I now know what’s wrong. The bad news is that I’m already doing everything that I can to alleviate the issue and the only thing left that may help is more time.

With luck, this should improve within 6-24 months. In some cases, though, the breathing difficulties can be permanent. I’m obviously hoping for 6 months!

However, this whole experience reminds me of an on-going argument that I have been having with a number of people, and organizations, over the last few years.

There is an increasing emphasis in society on ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ products as being healthy for us. However, what people don’t seem to understand is that ‘natural’ does not mean non-toxic.

Non-toxic means: “not poisonous, innocuous, harmless, benign, non-irritating, hypoallergenic”. Poison sounds like such a serious word, but it simply means causing or capable of causing death or illness if taken into the body.”

A good example of this problem came up for me today.

Having been given a new diagnosis I did what many people would do and Googled ™ it when I got home.

One of the links that came up pretty quickly was to Young Living: Essential Oils.

They had a posting on their site that specifically advertises a household cleaner for people with RADS. To quote their advert:

“RADS (Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome), also known as childhood asthma or occupational asthma, is a condition that is caused by irritants included in household cleaning products, perfumes, etc. Young Living’s Thieves Cleaner is a wonderfully effective, non-toxic household cleaner for every surface in your home. GREAT for mold issues!“

While their definition of RADS is based on materials from the 1980’s and has since been revised (which should have given me a hint really), the product sounded great; so I looked it up and much to my shock, given the wording in the advert, found that:

“Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner uses clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary for a fresh, pleasant clean.”

Well, correct me if I’m wrong but in my experience, all of those ingredients have strong scents, perfumes! Irritants, in fact for anybody with RADS.

So I contacted the company and asked them to clarify how they could justify advertising this as non-toxic.

Their answer was that “Non-toxic is chemical free, which it is.”

They see no problem with their advertising at all.

In fact, they basically told me to just not buy their products.

I have no problems not buying their products. In fact, I’ll go one step further and based on their poor customer service and lack of understanding and awareness I will absolutely recommend that people do NOT buy their products.

However, thinking that perhaps my understanding of the term ‘non-toxic’ was incorrect I looked it up in the context of consumer reports. Perhaps there is a legal definition, related to products, which meant something more than my understanding of the term ‘non-toxic’?

The reality is that the term ‘non-toxic’ on labels means absolutely nothing! While products have to be labeled ‘toxic’ if they meet specific criteria there are no criteria for non-toxic as it is recognized that toxicity is a continuum and what is toxic for me, may not be for you.

So this brings me back to my original statement. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it is non-toxic!

Think about it. How many murder mysteries have you read, or watched, where a plant was used to poison somebody? Those plants are totally natural. Yet they kill!

So please stop assuming that because something is ‘natural’ that it is healthy, let alone safe.

Please stop labeling products as ‘non-toxic’.

It means nothing and is incredibly misleading.

Please label everything to the tiniest detail, with all ingredients, or at least make that full detail available to those of us who need it (I understand that there isn’t a lot of space on most product labels).

A ‘natural’ product, in this case, a cleaner with an orange concentrate, has seriously impacted my life. I have now been housebound, and off work, for almost a month. I’m looking at this being my life for another 4 months to two years! Possibly even the rest of my life. It sucks!

For those that are interested RADS “refers to wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath in someone suffering lung damage after exposures to some sort of exposure such as toxic chemicals contained in vapors, fumes, or smoke. RADS often mimics asthma but is not asthma per se.”

RADS means that my airways are now constantly reactive to pretty much everything. Not just the things that I have always had responses to but I now have to be wary of all scents. Further, I am also currently ‘exercise intolerant’, which means that I’m incredibly short of breath on any exertion beyond simply sitting; even talking is difficult.

So please, please be compassionate.

Don’t use any scented products in public places.

Especially, please don’t use them in a medical building!

“Natural” does not mean ‘non-toxic’.

“Natural” products can still kill!


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