Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

This isn’t a new topic in the healthy living community, but it’s an important one so I feel the need to cover it here on Molly’s Suds Baby Steps. Monosodium Glutamate is food additive that has been under the spotlight for many years, and there is much research that proves it can have negative side effects when ingested.

MSG

I used to think “I’m safe from MSG because I don’t eat Chinese food”, but doing some research into the widely used additive proved me wrong. MSG is used as a flavor enhancer and can be found in thousands of products, here are some of the most common ones:

  • Hamburger Helper
  • Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix
  • Progresso soups
  • Campbell’s soups
  • Certain flavors of Wheat Thins (this one shocked me!)
  • Pringles chips (the seasoned varieties)
  • Doritos
  • Planters nuts
  • Fritos
  • Ramen noodles
  • McDonald’s
  • KFC
  • Burger King
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Taco Bell

While the FDA has labeled MSG as “generally recognized as safe”, they still require it be put on a label when added to a food. The symptoms that have been reported to the FDA as a result of ingesting MSG include headache, flushing, sweating, facial pressure, numbness and tingling in the neck and face, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, chest pain, nausea, and weakness (source). MSG is a controversial topic because some researchers have indicated that they can find no link between MSG and these symptoms, while others confirm that the symptoms are without a doubt connected to MSG. According to the FDA website:

“Over the years, FDA has received reports of symptoms such as headache and nausea after eating foods containing MSG. However, we were never able to confirm that the MSG caused the reported effects.

These adverse event reports helped trigger FDA to ask the independent scientific group Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) to examine the safety of MSG in the 1990s. FASEB’s report concluded that MSG is safe. The FASEB report identified some short-term, transient, and generally mild symptoms, such as headache, numbness, flushing, tingling, palpitations, and drowsiness that may occur in some sensitive individuals who consume 3 grams or more of MSG without food. However, a typical serving of a food with added MSG contains less than 0.5 grams of MSG. Consuming more than 3 grams of MSG without food at one time is unlikely.”

In a contrasting report, Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon explains, “MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees — and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.”

This article from Dr. Mercola’s site is a great resource for learning more about the harmful effects of MSG. In it, he explains that while “monosodium glutamate” has to be labeled on product ingredients, MSG can be hidden in many different ingredients, so you can ingest it without even realizing it. According to Dr. Mercola, the following ingredients ALWAYS contain MSG:

  • autolyzed yeast
  • glutamate
  • calcium caseinate
  • gelatin
  • glutamic acid
  • hydrolyzed protein
  • yeast food
  • yeast extract
  • textured protein
  • yeast nutrient

The following ingredients OFTEN contain MSG:

  • Flavors and flavorings
  • natural chicken flavoring
  • stock
  • anything enzyme modified
  • protease
  • soy sauce
  • carrageenan
  • corn starch
  • malt extract
  • maltodextrin
  • citric acid
  • natural pork flavoring
  • soy protein
  • pectin
  • powdered mil
  • barley malt

Is your brain suddenly racing through your canned and packaged foods in the pantry, these ingredients looking familiar? Did you not even realize you may be ingesting MSG because it has been hidden in one of the above? If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to MSG consumption and haven’t been able to pinpoint why you are having them, try cutting out MSG in ALL forms to see if it eases them. People who suffer from migraines are especially warned by physicians to avoid MSG. Of course, talk to your doctor about your symptoms, too.

So how can you avoid MSG altogether? One way is to do a quick internet search before eating a food, if you have time. Www.msgtruth.org has compiled a massive list of specific foods that should be avoided because they contain MSG. Another way is to simply (or not so simply sometimes) eat clean and all-natural. This means cooking from whole vegetables, making each meal from scratch and knowing that the ingredients you are 100% safe and natural. If you are buying something packaged, it can be so hard to tell if it contains preservatives and flavor enhancers like MSG because it can be hidden behind so many different names. Make sure in addition to your food labels you are reading your beauty product labels! If your shampoo contains the words “hydrolyzed”, “proten”, or “amino acids”, it might contain MSG.

Finally, the easiest way to avoid MSG is to do research and increase your knowledge about what certain foods contain it naturally (tomatoes, grapes, potatoes, mushrooms), and where it may be added in. http://www.truthinlabeling.org has compiled a great list of the many names MSG goes by. Check it out, get informed, and cut out the MSG!

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By Courtney Perry

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Homemade Play-Doh

Since the 1950’s when it was first invented, Play-Doh has been a staple in homes, daycares, and schools across the country. Hasbro, the manufacturer of Play-Doh, claims it to be non-toxic, but a closer look at its ingredients may have you second guessing its safety for your children. According to Hasbro’s website: “the exact ingredients of PLAY-DOH compound are proprietary, so we cannot share them with you. We can tell you that it is primarily a mixture of water, salt and flour.” (source)

While the primary ingredients that Hasbro shares with the general public are non-toxic, their current US Patent lists several more ingredients including preservatives, fragrance, petroleum (to make the Play-Doh feel smooth), and borax (prevents mold growth). Borax is the additive that disheartens me the most. The Environmental Working Group put out a great article in 2011 discussing the dangers of using Borax. Recently, they gave it a rating of “F” on their website mostly due to its developmental and reproductive system toxicity.

It’s one thing for your children to simply touch Play-Doh and then immediately wash their hands afterwards, but we know that is not how most children operate. I can practically still taste the salty Play-Doh from when I was a child, my green pancake and red french fry creations were just too irresistible to not taste. Kids explore the world with their hands and mouths, so shouldn’t they have something more natural and safe to play with? For the older children who use Play-Doh and aren’t likely to eat it, Borax is a known skin irritant and may cause allergic reactions.

Cooks.com has a no-bake play-doh recipe that is safe for those curious kids of yours who may decide to sample their play-doh creations. The recipe is so easy, you could even turn making their play-doh into an activity to do together!

Ingredients

1 cup water
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
1/4 cup oil
*food coloring

*click here for ways to make natural and organic food coloring
*India Tree sells some great all natural food coloring, too!

Directions

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. Add small amounts of flour until desired consistency is achieved. Store in a plastic zip-loc bag!

By Courtney Perry

Fido Deserves Chemical-Free Too!

Manufacturers of animal bath products are just as guilty as the makers of human bath and beauty products when it comes to pumping shampoos, soaps, and conditioners full of harmful chemicals and unnecessary ingredients.

Those of us with pets know that they are not just animals who live with us, they are family members. We care for our pets in many ways on a daily basis, so why not treat their skin and fur with the same care you show your own skin, or your children’s skin?

If you read the back of your pet’s shampoo bottle, can you pronounce all of the ingredients? Does it contain sodium laureth sulfate, fragrance, or boric acid? Steer clear! There are​ chemicals used in many animal shampoos that should be avoided, especially in the shampoos advertising tick and flea prevention/extermination. Not only are you potentially harming your pet’s skin by washing them with those chemical-filled shampoos, but they are probably ingesting some of it too. Dr. Mercola’s website has a great article that goes into more detail about some of the toxins you will commonly find in animal shampoos, and what he feels is safe for them as an alternative.

Molly’s Suds Dog Shampoo was created as a way to eliminate a source of chemicals in your home and on your loved ones. Four-legged friends deserve a shampoo that is cleansing, nourishing, safe, and smells good too!

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The ingredients on the Molly’s Suds Dog Shampoo are as follows:

Proprietary blend of purified water and coconut oil, folic acid, minerals and enzymes from edible and seed bearing plants, essential oils of lavender and organic peppermint.

All real ingredients. They are natural, chemical-free, and good for your dog’s skin and coat. This was really important to me, as I have to give my dog up to three baths per week! Whenever she has a nice long roll in the grass, I am forced to bathe her because of my pollen and grass allergies. Washing a dog so many times per week with other dog shampoos, you risk drying out your dog’s skin and may cause them to develop rashes and irritation. With Molly’s Dog Shampoo, there has been no problem. In fact, the addition of coconut oil to the shampoo makes for a great moisturizer for dogs with already sensitive and dry skin.

Still using your generic dog shampoo with mystery ingredients? Try a bottle of Molly’s Suds Dog Shampoo to see what you’ve been missing. After one bath, I bet you won’t go back.

By Courtney Perry

Scented Candles: Good For Your Mood, Not Your Health

There is nothing more soothing than lighting a “Limoncello” or “Autumn Day” candle and letting the calming scents fill your house and lungs.

candlesThat is until you find out that the chemicals released by the candles are full of toxins and are harmful to your body and organs. In the last post, I went over the benefits of using Thieves Oil and how it is a wonderful alternative to the candles and oils that smell great but are not so great for you. Here are a few reasons that many candles are considered harmful:

1. The fragrance in most candles is not natural, meaning it is chemically made. When burned, those chemicals are converted into possible carcinogenic toxins such as acetone, benezene, and toluene.

2. Paraffin wax is a popular type of candle and burning it may be just as harmful as being exposed to second hand smoke. Research has shown that lighting a paraffin candle once in awhile probably won’t do too much damage, but continued exposure can lead to asthma, allergies, and other respiratory tract problems.  The soot from paraffin candles contains many of the same toxins found in diesel fuel.

3. Candles from China and South America (where many imported candles come from) can contain lead in the wicks.

4. Did you know a single fragrance (cheap oils made for diffusers contain synthetic fragrances) can contain up to 600 different chemical ingredients? These chemical-filled oil blends are just as toxic as candles and are not the same as essential oils.

So while many candles are considered unsafe, there are great alternatives out there. Don’t worry, your rainy days spent curled up with a book, cup of tea, and a soothing candle don’t have to be a thing of the past.

Beeswax candles are safe and have a natural, pleasant fragrance

Soy candles, just make sure your candle is 100% soy

Burn essential oils in a diffuser

Summer stove top potpourri 

Holiday stove top potpourri

Fall stove top potpourri

Lemon/Rosemary/Vanilla potpourri (scroll to the bottom)

Do you have a favorite stove top potpourri recipe? Share below! 

By Courtney Perry

Homemade Bug Repellent

Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of your bug spray? Here are some of the common ones and what you should know about each:

  • Deet- According to the Environment Protection Agency, “wash [Deet] off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in and not spray it directly on your face.” In studies conducted on lab rats, Deet caused brain cell death and behavioral changes after prolonged usage. In humans, Deet has been known to cause memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath. Click here for a short article from MedMinute regarding the dangers of Deet.
  • Citronella oil- Direct application of citronella oil has been found to raise the heart rate of some people. Canada Health is starting to phase out using citronella oil in products because of uncertainties regarding its safety.
  • Neem Oil- Can be irritating to the skin and eyes. In cats, neem oil has caused sluggishness, excessive salivation, impaired movement, trembling, twitching, and convulsions. In one study, pregnant rats were exposed to neem oil and their pregnancies ended shortly after.
  • Ethanol-  associated with skin irritation or contact dermatitis
  • Fragrance- aka chemicals. Virtually unregulated by the FDA and could contain any number of harmful chemicals.
  • Aminomethyl Propanol- The EWG gives it a toxicity rating of 3. According to the EWG, research has shown it to be an irritant, an endocrine disruptor, and as having respiratory effects
  • Sodium Benzoate- has been linked to asthma attacks, hypertension, and ADHD.
  • Prallethrin- Can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, fatigue. Severe cases involve fluid in the lungs and muscle twitching. Seizures may occur and are more common with more toxic cyano-pyrethroids
  • Sodium Nitrite- large amounts can cause rapid heart rate and rapid breathing, as well as seizures, coma, and death. Excess contact with skin and eyes causes redness, itching and swelling. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/283826-sodium-nitrite-dangers/#ixzz2aep7Kzb3

The great news is that it is easy and inexpensive to make your own bug repellent, and you know exactly what you are putting on your body. Here is my favorite recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)

Directions:

  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) halfway with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent

What does your family use for insect repellent? Do you have a recipe that is tried and true? 

bug-spray

By Courtney Perry

The Fluoride Debate and DIY Toothpaste

How often do you take medications without knowing the potential side effects? If someone on the street walked up to you and said “here take this pill”, would you? When you ingest fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste, mouthwash, and at the dentist, do you know the risks you are taking?

Recently, several counties in the United States have decided to quit adding fluoride to the public water supply because of potential harmful side effects. Recent studies have shown that high levels of fluoride can cause tooth and bone decay. It’s become such a national issue that the Obama Administration is moving towards lowering the amount of fluoride added to drinking water.

In an ABC news article from November 2012, a man named Corey Sturmer described his confusing diagnosis when he went to the dentist at 25-years old and was told he had fluorosis- an erosion of the enamel and discoloration of the teeth due to too much fluoride use. We are all told from the time we are children that fluoride is important for us, we must use it to maintain a healthy mouth. But is this actually the case? In a 2006 study by the National Academy of Science regarding fluoride use proclaimed that fluoride can affect the thyroid gland and potentially lower the intelligence of children. Ummmm, what!? My thoughts, too.

source: wikipedia

Severe Fluorosis
source: wikipedia

Like anything dealing with your health and body, it is important to do research to determine what is best for you and your family- but you may want to consider making the switch to fluoride-free toothpaste.There are hundreds of communities who have decided to go fluoride-free based on scientific findings, here is a list! The Fluoride Action Network has compiled a fantastic list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Fluoride use. Click here to read the full list, but here are some interesting answers to get you started.

Do we need fluoride?

No. It is now well established that fluoride is not an essential nutrient. This means that no human disease – including tooth decay – will result from a “deficiency” of fluoride. Fluoridating water supplies is therefore different than adding iodine to salt. Unlike fluoride, iodine is an essential nutrient (the body needs iodine to ensure the proper functioning of the thyroid gland). No such necessity exists for fluoride.

Does Fluoride occur naturally in water?

As a general rule, the only fresh water with high levels of fluoride (other than waters polluted by fluoride-emitting industries) is water derived from deep wells. Rather than being something to celebrate, high levels of naturally occurring fluorides have wreaked havoc on tens of millions of people’s health around the world. People consuming water with naturally high levels of fluoride have been found to suffer serious health ailments including disfiguring tooth damagebone diseaseulcersreduced IQthyroid disease, and infertility. Because of this, international organizations like UNICEF assist developing nations in finding ways of removing fluoride from the water.

Thankfully, most fresh water supplies contain very low levels of fluoride. The average level of fluoride in unpolluted fresh water is less than 0.1 ppm, which is about 10 times less than the levels added to water in fluoridation programs (0.7 to 1.2 ppm).  The frequent claim, therefore, that “nature thought of fluoridation first” does not withstand scrutiny.

Does fluoridated water reduce tooth decay?

If water fluoridation has a benefit, it is a minimal one. Recent large-scale studies from the United States have found little practical or statistical difference in tooth decay rates among children living in fluoridated versus non-fluoridated areas. In addition, data complied by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that tooth decay rates have declined just as rapidly in non-fluoridated western countries as they have in fluoridated western countries. Read more.

data1

What are the risks from swallowing fluoride?

Fluoride has long been known to be a very toxic substance. This is why, like arsenic, fluoride has been used in pesticides and rodenticides (to kill rats, insects, etc). It is also why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that all fluoride toothpaste sold in the U.S. carry a poison warning that instructs users to contact the poison control center if they swallow more than used for brushing.

Excessive fluoride exposure is well known to cause a painful bone disease (skeletal fluorosis), as well as a discoloration of the teeth known as dental fluorosis. Excessive fluoride exposure has also been linked to a range of other chronic ailments including arthritisbone fragilitydental fluorosisglucose intolerancegastrointestinal distressthyroid disease, and possibly cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

While the lowest doses that cause some of these effects are not yet well defined, it is clear that certain subsets of the population are particularly vulnerable to fluoride’s toxicity. Populations that have heightened susceptibility to fluoride include infants, individuals with kidney disease, individuals with nutrient deficiencies (particularly calcium and iodine), and individuals with medical conditions that cause excessive thirst.

To see a complete list of FAN’s research on fluoride’s health effects, click here. 

If you are ready to make a move towards a fluoride-free lifestyle, you can start by making your own toothpaste! It’s not as scary as it sounds. I’ve tried several recipes but so far, my favorite recipe comes from crunchybetty.com.

Homemade Coconut Oil Toothpaste

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda
  • 25 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)

Put the coconut oil and baking soda in a bowl and mash up with a fork until blended. Add the peppermint essential oil, stevia and optional vegetable glycerin and continue to mash and stir until you’ve reached toothpaste consistency.

 

By Courtney Perry

Apple Cider Vinegar: The Ultimate Problem Solver

Deciding to go chemical-free can be overwhelming, hence the reason for this blog. Take one day at a time, learn about your options, and make baby steps. An easy way to start is by doing research about the items you may already have in your house that can take the place of other harsh, toxic products! Today I am going to highlight one of my favorites: apple cider vinegar. 

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be used for so many different things it should be a staple in your home. In fact, one week ago I went to the doctor with bright red, swollen, spotted tonsils, a fever, and chills. A positive strep test sent me into hysterics because I am severely allergic to most antibiotics. I went home and decided I was going to cure my strep throat with apple cider vinegar, and I did just that. For a week I gargled the vinegar diluted in warm water. Within 12 hours, my sore throat was gone. I went back to the doctor after 6 days to get another strep test and lo and behold, it came back negative! From extensive online research, apple cider vinegar has been known to cure strep throat along with several other ailments. Please note, strep throat can be a very serious sickness with potential life threatening side effects if not treated. See your doctor and choose the best treatment plan for you

When choosing an apple cider vinegar brand, the more organic and natural the better, as with most things. My favorite brand is Bragg, it contains something called  “the mother” which looks like a big ball of snot in the bottom of the bottle. Do not be afraid. This goopy, snotty looking mass is what makes the vinegar so good for you. It has a ton of enzymes and good bacteria! 

ACV

So, what else can apple cider vinegar be used for?

Medical
(suggested amount is 2 teaspoons per day diluted in water)

  • High cholesterol
  • Weight loss
  • Skin disorders (eczema, psoriasis, acne, warts)
  • Diarrhea (if bacteria is causing the problems)
  • Hiccups
  • Prevents indigestion
  • Sinus congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Fatigue
  • Teeth whitening
  • Leg cramps
  • Gas and bloating
  • Sunburn relief
  • Dandruff

Household

  • Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties and absorbs odor so it makes a great cleaning product! Simply mix one part ACV and one part water and spray on any hard surface in your home (even wood). Wipe immediately with a dry towel
  • Mix one tablespoon of ACV with water and rinse your hair with it. You will be amazed at how shiny and healthy your hair looks! 
  • Dab onto your skin blemishes for quick healing 
  • If you are brave, try using ACV as a deodorant. The vinegar smell only lasts for a few minutes and it has been known to keep people smell-free! 
  • Rubbing ACV onto your pet’s skin or adding a little to his or her water bowl can help repel and kill fleas 
  • Clogged drain? Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda into the drain and chase it with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar. Rinse with hot water
  • Mix one part ACV with one part water and clean your windows. You’ll be amazed at the streak-free, shiny results
  • Garlic, onion, and fish smelling hands can be fixed by simply washing with the ACV
  • Smell remover- place a bowl of ACV on the floor and let sit overnight. It has been proven to work on cigarette smoke, beer, vomit, and several other unpleasant odors! 

What other uses have you found for apple cider vinegar?  

By Courtney Perry