Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Safe?

Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Safe?
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Just because the toothpaste ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate doesn’t cause cancer doesn’t mean it can’t cause problems.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a common detergent used in toothpaste. It was featured in a famous internet hoax nearly twenty years ago. Colgate toothpaste has it, supposedly proven to cause cancer. At least, by buying Colgate rather than Crest, you wouldn’t be supporting Satan—or, so claimed another famous hoax.

The hoax that sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste and hair care products was linked to cancer became so widespread, the American Cancer Society was forced to publish a response to shampoo-poo the link. “Radical…e-mails have been flying through cyberspace stating Sodium Lauryl Sulfate…cause[s] cancer,…[and it’s simply] not true.”

So, I just ignored it all these years, until I was doing research on canker sores—you know, those painful shallow gray ulcerations you get inside your lip or cheek, also known as aphthous ulcers. They can often be set off by trauma, like if you accidentally stab yourself with a toothbrush or something. And so, they recommend to try to avoid biting your lip, and also to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate-containing toothpaste—not because of cancer, but apparently for irritation, which at least makes a little more sense. I mean, why would a detergent—a soap chemical—be carcinogenic? Though you could imagine how it might, theoretically at least, dissolve off some protective layer from the inside of your mouth, or something. So, I decided to look into it.

Although SLS “has been used as a foaming agent” in toothpastes since the 1930s, our story begins 25 years ago, with an abstract presented at a conference on the possible effects of sodium lauryl sulfate on recurring canker sores. They took ten men and women getting more than one sore a week—nearly 18 on average, over a three-month period, using a regular SLS-containing toothpaste. And then, they switched them to using an SLS-free toothpaste for another three months. And, they went from 18 canker sores down to around five; that’s like a 70% decrease. And indeed, what they thought was happening is that the sodium lauryl sulfate was adversely affecting the protective mucous layer that lines our mouth. You always have to be cautious about published abstracts, though. You always want to make sure that they actually go on to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed medical journal. And indeed, in this case, they did; so, you can confirm that, yes indeed, it was a double-blind study. Yes, indeed, they used the exact same toothpaste; just one with the regular concentration of SLS, and the other SLS-free.

But still, just ten patients? It was considered “a preliminary study,” but with apparently such a dramatic effect, a series of experiments were performed to see what might be going on—as simple as just applying some SLS, at the concentration found in toothpaste, onto someone’s gums with a Q-tip for 90 seconds, and measuring the spike in blood flow to the area, which is a sign of inflammation, presumably because the detergent was penetrating and irritating the gums. Yeah, but does it actually damage the tissue?

Researchers smeared some toothpastes on the gums of some dental hygienists, two minutes twice a day for four days, and, while the SLS-free toothpaste didn’t cause any problems, the ones with the typical amount of sodium lauryl sulfate caused “desquamation” among most of them—in other words, a sloughing off or peeling of the topmost layers of the inside lining of their mouths. No wonder it might make canker sores worse.

It’s funny; if you go back to the original American Cancer Society debunking, their response was sodium lauryl sulfate is “not [a] known carcinogen.” It’s just a “known irritant.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a common detergent used in toothpaste. It was featured in a famous internet hoax nearly twenty years ago. Colgate toothpaste has it, supposedly proven to cause cancer. At least, by buying Colgate rather than Crest, you wouldn’t be supporting Satan—or, so claimed another famous hoax.

The hoax that sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste and hair care products was linked to cancer became so widespread, the American Cancer Society was forced to publish a response to shampoo-poo the link. “Radical…e-mails have been flying through cyberspace stating Sodium Lauryl Sulfate…cause[s] cancer,…[and it’s simply] not true.”

So, I just ignored it all these years, until I was doing research on canker sores—you know, those painful shallow gray ulcerations you get inside your lip or cheek, also known as aphthous ulcers. They can often be set off by trauma, like if you accidentally stab yourself with a toothbrush or something. And so, they recommend to try to avoid biting your lip, and also to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate-containing toothpaste—not because of cancer, but apparently for irritation, which at least makes a little more sense. I mean, why would a detergent—a soap chemical—be carcinogenic? Though you could imagine how it might, theoretically at least, dissolve off some protective layer from the inside of your mouth, or something. So, I decided to look into it.

Although SLS “has been used as a foaming agent” in toothpastes since the 1930s, our story begins 25 years ago, with an abstract presented at a conference on the possible effects of sodium lauryl sulfate on recurring canker sores. They took ten men and women getting more than one sore a week—nearly 18 on average, over a three-month period, using a regular SLS-containing toothpaste. And then, they switched them to using an SLS-free toothpaste for another three months. And, they went from 18 canker sores down to around five; that’s like a 70% decrease. And indeed, what they thought was happening is that the sodium lauryl sulfate was adversely affecting the protective mucous layer that lines our mouth. You always have to be cautious about published abstracts, though. You always want to make sure that they actually go on to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed medical journal. And indeed, in this case, they did; so, you can confirm that, yes indeed, it was a double-blind study. Yes, indeed, they used the exact same toothpaste; just one with the regular concentration of SLS, and the other SLS-free.

But still, just ten patients? It was considered “a preliminary study,” but with apparently such a dramatic effect, a series of experiments were performed to see what might be going on—as simple as just applying some SLS, at the concentration found in toothpaste, onto someone’s gums with a Q-tip for 90 seconds, and measuring the spike in blood flow to the area, which is a sign of inflammation, presumably because the detergent was penetrating and irritating the gums. Yeah, but does it actually damage the tissue?

Researchers smeared some toothpastes on the gums of some dental hygienists, two minutes twice a day for four days, and, while the SLS-free toothpaste didn’t cause any problems, the ones with the typical amount of sodium lauryl sulfate caused “desquamation” among most of them—in other words, a sloughing off or peeling of the topmost layers of the inside lining of their mouths. No wonder it might make canker sores worse.

It’s funny; if you go back to the original American Cancer Society debunking, their response was sodium lauryl sulfate is “not [a] known carcinogen.” It’s just a “known irritant.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

What about the non-SLS foaming agents? Stay tuned for my next video: Is CAPB in SLS-Free Toothpaste Any Better?

As I said in the video, I did a deep dive into canker sores, and will have a bunch of videos coming up over the next few months. I did do one years ago, though, if you can’t wait; see Apthous Ulcer Mystery Solved.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

117 responses to “Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Safe?

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    1. What’s the bottom line? Is this a recommendation not to use it? Minimize it? Are there steps you can take to minimize problems if you plan to continue using it? Thanks!




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        1. There are many toothpastes now that do not use SLS. Dr. Gs team is here to show us how to best manage our health in such an unethical greedy world. The ultimate desicion is still up the the consumer.
          I for one am very grateful for all the teams insights. I have a family to raise and need to be functional for a very very long time.

          Love and gratitude
          Holly




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    2. Technically, SLS is safe. But if it continuously irritates your sores then it’s not good because it causes cancer. Just like continuous skin burning from sun exposure, or continuous cut on the body, etc.




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        1. Moderator aka Dr Ben just changed his reply from a.. to thin air (and he can edit while we can’t). Wow wow wow, talking about civilized discussion.

          http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient.php?ingred06=706110#.WdI1jhO3wW8

          According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews,6 research studies on SLS have shown links to:

          Irritation of the skin and eyes
          Organ toxicity
          Developmental/reproductive toxicity
          Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes
          Possible mutations and cancer

          “A study cited in the Wall Street Journal (November 1, 1988) linked SLS to cataracts and nitrate absorption (nitrates are carcinogens—or cancer causing substances). Apparently, this absorption occurs when the SLS becomes contaminated with NDELA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine) during processing. This contamination comes about as a result of SLS coming into contact with any number of chemicals including TEA (triethanolamine), which is a commonly used ingredient in shampoos as a detergent.”




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          1. Yes Jerry, I’m trying to be civilized, which is not easy when you ignore all available peer-reviewed published evidence and focus on the Wall Street Journal’s opinion on physiology…as if that was actually a compelling source …not. That reminds me of Time magazine quoting one study (funded by the egg industry) that eggs are healthy when all the previous unbiased work showed the opposite. As I stated, there is no evidence that SLS or SDS causes cancer.

            Dr. Ben

            Virus-free.
            http://www.avg.com




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            1. Speaking of “civilized” coming from a guy who calls himself moderator and doctor and used foul language but was coward to edit and delete (unfortunately I have the image saved on my phone), the Wall street simply quoted a study done by some research institution and the following article from a more reliable source also quoted the Wall Street article which simply quoted a research article.

              http://www.ovarian-cancer-survivors.org/sodium-lauryl-sulphate.html




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              1. Jerry, you suffer from a bad case of confirmation bias. The Wall Street Journal is not a peer-reviewed medical journal. The most important point is that what you pasted is simply not evidence the SDS or SLS causes cancer. You’re welcome to believe whatever myths you like, but no one that is unbiased and objective that has any knowledge of medical research will agree with you.

                Dr. Ben

                Virus-free.
                http://www.avg.com




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                1. I give up. “doctor”. If you believe that continuous canker sore and peeling of the mouth skin do not raise the chance of cancer then I have nothing more to discuss. I feel sorry for your patients, doc.




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                  1. Try to be objective Jerry. I know its tempting to believe what sounds right in your head, but controlled clinical trials are what advances humanity and unveils the truth. If we just believe “what makes sense” then the earth would be flat and the center of the universe. Keep in mind that cancer cells are genetically different than all other cells. Their DNA has been changed so that they do not stop growing when they should like other normal cells and they do not adhere to adjacent cells as they should. These types of DNA changes do not arise from irritation alone. I have had many many patients with aphthous stomatitis over the years and have seen all the studies that have evaluated these patients. They have no increased rate of cancer and many of have been using SDS and SLS. Keeping these people comfortable is all we can do. Stopping SDS and SLS is good, but they don’t cause cancer.

                    Dr. Ben

                    Virus-free.
                    http://www.avg.com




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    3. Endure?? Obviously someone who has never suffered from canker sores. VERY PAINFUL. Affect the way you talk and eat. Lasts for a week or more.




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    4. To answer your question, no, it doesn’t lead to more serious health outcomes. But neither are herpes and we don’t just tell people that it’s something that one can endure.

      The tone of your comment leads me to conclude you’re a person who doesn’t experience these sores often if at all. I used to experience them regularly till I went vegan and I am SO grateful that I no longer suffer from them. I went vegan for the welfare of the egg hens and dairy cattle and not myself, but if I’d been presented with the trade-off between eating dairy and getting the sores and not eating dairy not getting them, that would’ve weighed heavily in a choice to go vegan.

      If you don’t “get it” about how someone would want to spare themselves of these excruciatingly painful sores, then try biting your cheek on a weekly basis and regularly eating lots of vinaigrette dressed salads.




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      1. So I think I have had those sores quite a few times. At least ones that looked like the ones in the picture of the video. It’s possible that it was some other type of sore though that wasn’t as painful. They were obviously not comfortable and there was some pain. The character of the pain was like what you described with biting cheek the vinegar. But yeah I guess it never seemed like a huge deal to me when I got them.

        Now if it is causing lots of trouble for someone or lots of suffering then I think yeah it makes sense to avoid it. I’m not trying to belittle or condescend the pain for people who have issues with it.

        My question was because I don’t seem to get them anymore (and when I did get them I didn’t get them very often), and even if I would so far it hasn’t bothered me terribly, so it didn’t feel worth it to me to worry about what tooth paste I’m buying UNLESS it also leads to more serious adverse health outcomes.

        And again, by “serious” I don’t mean that for people who suffer terribly from it that this isn’t something that I take serious, in context what I mean by serious is simply things like cancer, dying sooner and intensely crippling conditions, etc.




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    5. No. This cannot be endured by patients that have this. It’s incredibly painful. If it’s caused by SDS or SLS then just avoid these compounds. Toothpaste itself does nothing other than provide topical fluoride and there are other sources of topical fluoride that do not contain SDS or SLS.

      Dr. Ben




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  1. If this is your first video, or first week of Nutrition Facts exposure, please do read the doctor’s notes and note all the supporting/relevant videos he lists there. Also note that the archive is fully searchable and that all sources are listed for YOU to be able to read the reports yourself and answer many of your other questions.

    There is no prohibition against discussion of dissenting ideas and positions but please realize that this site is about the nutrition facts as found by the latest research, and OFTEN these things will be somewhat different from mainstream and popular belief and thoughts. Also that facts are subject to change depending upon findings, and that nutritional research is a difficult task for many reasons.

    Most common questions and conflicts on very many subjects have been previously addressed and can be found, along with the supporting studies and discussion if one will simply take a few minutes to look for them.

    We are glad to have you here with open mind and ready palate. WFPB works for so many of us, and works well! We hope to support your transition and create a tide of change. Thanks for stopping in.




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  2. “canker sores—you know, those painful shallow gray ulcerations you get inside your lip or cheek, also known as aphthous ulcers.”

    Eating wheat gives me these, and I do not have gluten issues. Corn can as well, but rice does not.




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  3. A year ago I switched to baking soda for teeth brushing to avoid the SLS in regular toothpaste.

    It used to be thought that baking soda was too abrasive to use instead of toothpaste. However, testing has shown that it’s actually quite low in abrasion – lower than most commercial toothpastes.

    I haven’t had a canker sore since.




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      1. Interesting article. I use a lot of baking soda for my household cleaning to protect the environment… But from this article, baking soda is not good for the environment, something I want to protect in the first place. Hmmm.




        2
  4. In the last six months I have decided to go plant based not only for what I eat, but also for what I put on my body. I switched shampoos, and lotion, shaving cream, toothpaste to plant based or natural versions…. boy that is quite the experiment, many of these products are terrible. Finally after settling into a mostly plant based products routine I have noticed a large difference in how I feel, how my skin reacts and oral hygiene… I feel better

    Here is what I’ve discovered so far:

    Toothpaste was the biggest change, I’ve been a fan of the Jason brand. No fluoride or SLS, it leaves my mouth feeling 95% as clean as the more harsh commercial brands, however, the big change is my morning breath doesn’t feel nearly as bad anymore. My mouth might not feel as clean initially but it never gets as bad either.

    Handsoaps I’ve switched to Puracy brand. I hate all things antibacterial, so this switch was easier. Sure its not .99c but when its on your hands, it just feels different, I don’t know how to describe it. The scents are natural and smell natural, they aren’t harsh or fake, the dry patches I would occasionally get on my skin are gone.

    For shower soap I still have two brands. Live Clean is not too expensive, 98% plant based, ultra moisturizing, the scent is awesome. My moisturizers use after this is minimal, and I feel very clean and fresh after this.. well I feel very natural.. something regular soaps don’t do. While it is SLS free, there is a Sodium L Lauryl XXX in it, it is probably doing very similar things. I have also used the Taza brand, but its much much more expensive (I’ve used it less) doesn’t have any SLS or close to SLS looking chemicals, their ingredient list is much more readable. Taza works very well, doesn’t lather as much though.

    Shampoos I still have two as well. I kind of really fell in love with Aveeno brands of natural shampoos, it isn’t that natural but is SLS free. It has a great scent, cleans well, has a moderate price tag, it isn’t as plant based as I’d like. I wash my hair daily, a little anal about my hair. I also have the Taza brand, similar to the soap it is expensive, natural and works well, definitely not a great lather though. I’m still likely to keep searching for shampoo

    Household cleaners I’m using the puracy brand right now, they are a little costly. The multi surface cleaner is fantastic, better than aggressive chemical cleaners, and the best part your house doesn’t feel chemically after. The dish soap is a little pricey and I feel it doesn’t clean very far for the same volume as traditional cleaners, it cleans well but definitely costly. I haven’t attempted dishwasher, laundry or dryer products yet (it can take me more than a year to go through a package of that stuff)

    Shaving cream has been a struggle, I have yet to find one that really helps, honestly of the two I’ve tried only on is better than water. Pacific Shaving Company has one with a great scent but I think shaving very wet is just better, its expensive and doesn’t work well. Rocky Mountain Barber Company has a product, it lathers and softens decently, but still not nearly as good my normal Nivea, and is 2-3x the cost. As a daily shaver (my hair grows very fast) I need a good product in this area.

    For moisturizers I’ve used Aveeno for years, if feels a little greasy but goes away, it isn’t the worst out there for sure, and it can help dry skin or acute skin conditions well; its also moderately priced. Recently I’ve attempted to use Puracy moisturizer, and while the winter isn’t here I’m impressed, not greasy, and really feels to moisturize well. While the puracy stuff is unscented it does still smell nice.

    I’ll throw in deodorant for completion sake. Since it normally doesn’t have SLS, but the aluminum of anti-antiperspirants are a concern. The jason brand I’ve used here and there, it works pretty good, moderate price, but I feel really crazy for local Canadian brands Lovetica, expensive but lasts a long time and leaves me scentless. I’m really amazed how long one stick of Lovetica lasts.

    Lipbalms I also use Lovetica, great scents, works well. I’ve also found a brand Beauty by Earth that works great too, even more variety in scents, but I still prefer Lovetica.




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    1. Two thoughts came to mind reading your post. Years ago I got skin dryness and itch on the backs of my hands which I blamed on harsh antibacterial hand soaps. A dermatologist called it eczema. Switching to a plant-based diet cures eczema. You changed your soap and diet at the same time and might be giving the soap change more credit than it deserves.

      For an all-natural shampoo, look on the internet regarding using honey as a shampoo. I haven’t tried it myself.




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      1. I dunno, Fencepost. My Mom had a bad case of eczema last year on her back. The doc wanted to do a biopsy on it. I went home, reviewed some articles on the Net, and then changed her laundry soap to an unscented one (no dyes and no fragrances). Then I applied some oatmeal lotion to her eczema daily. It went away in a couple of months. Clean as a newborn. I won’t buy any product that has a fragrance or dye in it. I think Dr. G has some videos about fragrances, if you are interested.




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    2. You may want to check out the brands you use on the Skin Deep cosmetics data base at the Enviornmental Working Group web site ewg.org. “Natural” is not well regulated and some brands claiming they are natural still use many harsh chemicals. :)




      6
      1. Definitely natural is a problem, I don’t use natural to search for ingredients products. I did use plant based and checked the list before buying. I don’t think I can go find products that work well and meet some database requirements… I’ve looked at those databases and they just aren’t friendly




        1
    3. Nick P, I always look for the picture of the little bunny on the package that let’s us know that the product hasn’t been tested on animals :-)




      1
    4. Thanks for the information, Nick. I agree that one of the biggest challenges is shaving soap. I’ve tried Pacific, Burt’s Bees, and a couple of others. In desperation I even bought a tube of Kiss My Face and tried that. None of them has the same smoothness or ease of shaving that the commercial brands have. They all feel only slightly better than plain water. Dragging facial hairs out by their roots makes for a disenchanting shaving experience. Some products have too much glycerine or “goo” in them – makes them hard to rinse off.

      See my post below about eczema.




      0
    1. Fluoride toothpaste decreases the risk for tooth decay. It is in very high concentration in toothpaste though, so you should rinse it out of your mouth completely after brushing. Small children should not use toothpaste or even have access to the tube because they can ingest huge amounts of fluoride which can be toxic since they might swallow it. That said, fluoride toothpastes are beneficial and safe when used as designed; ie. brush then rinse. Fluoride is not part of some conspiracy against humanity as some tinfoil hat wearing folks think. It occurs naturally in some water supplies in amounts less than 1 PPM. At those levels, there is zero increased risk for any diseases and HUGE decreased risk for tooth decay when kids drink this water during their tooth forming years. The fluoride gets incorporated into their teeth during formation which decreases the ability for bacteria to cause cavities.

      Dr. Ben




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  5. Let’s see… the list of ingredients in one popular brand of toothpaste reads as follows:

    sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, sodium lauryl sulfate, trisodium phosphate, flavor, sodium phosphate, cellulose gum, carbomer, sodium saccharin, titanium dioxide, blue 1

    Except for “water,” this ingredient list sounds like it comes right out of Junior’s chemistry set.

    Some of these are covered in other videos, viz., sorbitol, saccharin, titanium dioxide.
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/a-harmless-artificial-sweetener/




    3
  6. One must still be wise in looking at the ingredients of things. Even though it may say it is SLS free, manufacturers are clever in that they have simply replaced SLS with a derivative of it with similar sounding names. I still consider it the same unhealthy crappola, and look to avoid those products like the plague. Something you may want to consider as well…..




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  7. I got rid of my Colgate toothpaste a while ago because of its glyphosate content. Then I switched to “natural baking soda” toothpaste but it tastes so yucky. Then I switched to Crest toothpaste as a compromise. Well I just check Crest toothpaste and it has SLS. Will I switch back to baking soda toothpaste? Probably not. Because since I ate healthy and with plenty of probiotics (foods and supplement), I no longer has any tooth decay, nor sore spot in my mouth, not even bad breath when I just get up in the morning. And so just like you cannot avoid EMF from cell phone, I will continue to use Crest.

    http://news.crest.com/faq-item/crest-complete-faq/does-crest-contain-sodium-lauryl-sulfate-sls-or-sodium-laureth-sulfate-s




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    1. Jerry: What is the “natural baking soda” toothpaste you used to use? I use Arm & Hammer Peroxicare, which contains baking soda. I checked after seeing this video and found that it has SLS. (I have chronic problem with canker sores, so I want to change the toothpaste and see if it helps.) Thank you Jerry.




      2
        1. Dude I love that toothpaste from trader Joe’s that has fennel and propolis in it!! It’s so good and has no flouride. My husband missed his dentist visits for a year and the dentist was surprised at his nice teeth hahaha! I also notice that I don’t get stains on my teeth from coffee and cocoa powder like I used to when I used Crest.




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    1. Just make sure you wash it all off your dishes. If you do the dishes by hand, wearing heavy nitrile gloves will protect you. Extended skin exposure can cause irritation.

      Dr. Ben




      0
  8. So interesting. I wasn’t aware that SLS is in toothpaste, but always avoided it in Shampoos/Bodywash. So it definitely irritates the skin wheter inside or outside, is that right? My mum has psoriaris and I always tell her to avoid SLS but she isn’t consitent with it… And the skin shows. THANKS for the great work!




    2
    1. Shampoos or baby washes ideally are tear free, meaning very mild and non irritating to delicate eye ball tissues.. This 82 year old senior uses only such tear free baby shampoos or body washes, when showering or even as a shampoo, containing little if any SLS or harsh surfactants.




      1
      1. Actually tear free shampoos aren’t so much gentle as they are deceptive- they contain numbing agents that just numb your eyes rather than feeling a sting….




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        1. Hi Maria, tear baby shampoos contains mild surfactants that stabilize or preserve not denature proteins or tissues including eye balls, hence tear free to babies without alleged “numbing agents” unknown to me. Adult tear free shampoos may be more irritating.




          0
  9. About 6 years ago I used a new to the market tooth whitening toothpaste for the first (and last) time. Within 30 seconds the inside of my mouth – tongue, cheeks, lips, hard and soft palate – began to feel burned although the area looked normal. 6 months of misery followed and it took 10 months to completely resolve. I had been using a toothpaste free of sodium lauryl sulfate for a 5 years before this event. My own personal suspicion was that the SLS along with the whitening agent caused the problem. The docs I saw basically had no clue.




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  10. For 10 years i don’t use any toothpaste anymore – i do use only 3-4 drops of tee-tree or frankincense essential oil for about 5 to 10 minutes twice or three times a day – no brushing. This way i turned my teeth white and fine in about few months. I drink coffee and tee – 3-4 big cups a day. Also i eat 95% raw, 100% organic and i don’t use any kind of oils in my food.

    Just sharing :)




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    1. Ivail: Can you please elaborate on how you use these two natural products? I’m intrigued by the time you have given (5 to 10 minutes), which is along time. Thanks




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  11. This might be a good time to share that, for the most part, skin care and cosmetics products are completely unregulated. They can put just about anything they want into a skin “care” product without testing and showing that it is not harmful. Given that skin is our body’s largest organ and that we absorb many items through our skin (nicotine patch, chemotherapy nausea-reduction patch, for example), I don’t put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t put in my mouth. The cosmetics industry has been known to put particularly nasty stuff in cosmetics.
    There is some discussion, now, that the chemicals that are used in sun screens don’t protect against malignant melanoma and may also, actually, increase the incidence of such. This is far from proven and far from accepted thinking at this point in time (from what I can deduce at this point), but something to be aware of. http://www.jabfm.org/content/24/6/735.full This article goes on to say that the research may be indicating that chronic (regular) sun exposure may beef up the body’s sun-defense (melatonin increase) and that this may be a more effective way to protect ourselves against the damaging rays of the sun. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense – this is just exactly what plants do as well. A peach will show the rosy results in its skin from sun exposure. YOu can actually see, in a peach, where another peach has blocked the sun’s rays and where, on the same peach, the suns rays reach the skin. The peach creates the antioxidants in its skin in response to the sun causing the rosy color. This is what melatonin does for us – and creates a sun tan which is protective.




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    1. OMG, Rudy, kindred spirit here! Like you, I don’t put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t put in my mouth. My preference is pure, unrefined shea butter. I’ve also used coconut oil but don’t like the smell. And I can’t stand sunscreen, especially on my face. That & so called skin ‘care’ moisturizers make me feel like my skin is dirty & have to wash it off. Shea butter has a clean & natural feel on my skin, and it also has some natural sunscreen properties. I’ve been waiting for the backlash again the sunscreen. They’re chemicals that people are told to put on their skin everyday. How can it not have a deleterious effect?

      I have family & friends who work in the cosmetics & skin ‘care’ industry or what I like to call the snake oil industry, & although it took awhile, every single one of them finally admitted to me that there isn’t one single wrinkle cream out there that actually does what it claims on the label. There isn’t one thing out on the market that can penetrate the dermis to have any kind of effect on wrinkles. And yet, it’s a billion dollar industry that preys on people’s weakness & hope.There are people, who have for decades, gone from one skin ‘care’ product to another, hoping that this one will really work this time. And the industry gets away with peddling lies & snake oil. And don’t even get me started on hair ‘care’.

      Here’s little piece of trivia that you might find interesting. The products you see advertised aren’t really the actual products. They’re mock-ups that they call comps. How do I know that? I’ve made them while I was between jobs. I was helping a family member make a deadline for an entire product line. We took empty prototype bottles & filled them with other creams, lotions, gels & liquids to match the small product samples we were given. If the color wasn’t right, we added food coloring & a little alcohol to make sure the product wouldn’t go bad. We filled the bottles, cut & carefully placed the labels on by hand, making them ready for the photo shoots. And this wasn’t for some little rinky dink brand. This was for one of the major players in the industry. They can’t wait until the product is packaged to do the ads because they’d never make the deadline for the product launch.




      3
      1. Re: I don’t put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t put in my mouth. My preference is pure, unrefined shea butter. I’ve also used coconut oil

        Wow wow wow Nancy, do you put coconut oil in your mouth? Where is all those saturated fat scare from you and your doctor? Are you consuming coconut oil in secret while scaring off others? Are you trying to scare them off so that you can buy coconut oil cheap? Shame on you,




        2
        1. Jerry, you’re so funny. Would is a conditional tense. I doesn’t mean that I actually eat coconut oil on a regular basis. But to tell you the truth, every once in a while, when I cheat, I’ll eat a piece of Righteously Raw chocolate, which has coconut oil. I’ll have maybe one a month or every other month, & I never eat more than one because they’re so rich. Nothing for you to get excited about. Lol. After stopping regular consumption of all oils, which are not whole foods, the pain in my joints (hands, knees, & hips), went away so I’d never go back to consuming oils on a regular basis.




          2
      2. Thanks for the insight into the cosmetic industry. Good stuff to put out into the public ether.

        My own personal sun block has been long sleeves and a hat for years. Interestingly, even though I may be outside for a time with the short sleeves I wear around the house, I don’t sunburn anymore… like I did when I was younger and would stay red or peeling all the time… occasionally getting water blisters.

        Tom Terrific (New England Patriots Quarterback) says in his book that since he began hydrating regularly he no longer sunburns. Just sayin’ for FYI.




        1
  12. I really wonder about the merit or lack of merit of this vid. Like GMO’s many of us who are health conscious did not have 20 years to wait
    before someone “put it to the test”. We avoided chemicals, synthetics, and companies whose business is to manufacture toxic chemicals and
    whose objective is to take over the world’s food supply and leave a wake of destruction everywhere they set up shop. Really, reporting on decades old
    research in cases like this is not particularly useful…




    2
    1. Like you, I’ve avoided things like this including body soap, laundry soap with fragrance, toothpaste (ruined teeth by eating dried blueberries covered in high fructose corn syrup… thought the good outweighed the bad.) In re: the lack of body soap use, my skin has fared pretty well because I don’t strip the natural oils from it with soap.

      And if I am going out into the public, I swish a little coconut oil under my armpits. Love the smell of it and whomever I’m around seems to enjoy my company and do not push away but rather stand a little closer. And if they are the hugging kind I get a hug.




      3
      1. Also should have mentioned that I do a shower rinse every so often and about once a week do a recently started activity of washing down with pure cranberry juice (no additives, just pure juice) cut with 50% or more distilled water.




        1
  13. If it removes the top layer of skin cells it removes a first line of defense, it seems to me. Nature usually does not provide something without a reason, so I don’t think we should allow that to happen if we can avoid it.




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  14. I am allergic to antibiotics like Bactrim and Keflex, which (as I understand it) are sulfa drugs. Is there any relationship to the sulfite mentioned in this article? I do have a long term full body itch and have never known the cause ….




    0
    1. Sulfa drugs contain sulfonamides which is chemically different that sulfites, so they are not cross reactive. That said, you could be hypersensitive to sulfites too. If you see an allergist, you might be able to be tested. The problem is that sulfites occur naturally in so many foods.

      Dr. Ben




      2
  15. Besides containing dangerous toxins, the companies that sell these products do not like Americans.
    So there are other reasons for not giving them our hard earned dollars.
    For example, Proctor & Gamble is a sponsor of the NFL.
    Big corporations, and big money means globalism.
    Lets support local companies that put dollars back into our communities and care
    about the health of Americans!




    6
  16. Most toothpastes contain some kind of mint flavoring (methyl salicylate), which in itself is an irritant and a strong mast cell degranulator (releases inflammatory mediators). When I switched from a mint-flavored sensitivity toothpaste (with sodium lauryl sulfate-SLS) to a children’s toothpaste with strawberry flavor (still has SLS), my tooth sensitivity disappeared. Otherwise I don’t have a problem with SLS, only with the mint flavoring.




    1
  17. I have a tendency to develop these aphthous ulcers. Wow, they are painful. I switched to an SLS free toothpaste about ten years ago and my situation improved tremendously. I still get them easily if I accidentally irritate the inside of my mouth, but I get far fewer and less frequent occurrences. Yes, anecdotal evidence with n=1. By the way, for those of you that also get these, I highly recommend you ask your doctor or dentist for a prescription for triamcinolone acetonide dental paste. As soon as you feel one of those sores coming on, get the stuff on there right away. If I catch it early on, the improvement is dramatic and the sore heals so much faster. Best time to apply is before going to sleep. But the trick is getting the medication to it early on. Otherwise, its still helpful, but healing takes longer.




    3
  18. All biochemists like myself know that SLS aka SDS is a known irreversible protein denaturant, meaning irreversibly destroying any protein in solution or in top layers of the skin. It is especially damaging to gums of older folk which regenerate tissue much slower than kids, hence there is gum shrinkage commonly seen among seniors. SLS or ammonium salts in shampoos are damaging by 2 pathways: they dissolve or emulsify protective lipids at the base of hairs thereby exposing the roots and destroying them, meaning gradual hair loss. Most shampoos now use the milder and less destructive sodium laurethsulfate as the first ingredient and lesser amounts of SDS or ammonium salts. Similarly SDS or similar harsh surfactant in so called mild dish washing detergents, often unlisted, have been shown to cause irreversible destruction of top layers of skin on exposed hands with shedding and exposure of live layers taking hours or days. Long term use over years ultimately kills underlying nerves and causes peripheral neuropathy or tingling in hands.




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    1. What is SDS?

      At first SDS is equated with SLS (“aka”), but later distinguished “Most shampoos now use the milder and less destructive sodium laurethsulfate as the first ingredient and lesser amounts of SDS or ammonium salts.”

      It is a bit confusing and a clarification would be helpful.




      1
      1. Hi James, Yes, SDS or sodium dodecyl sulfate is identical to sodium lauryl sulfate, both mainly containing a 12 carbon chain. Laurethsulfate is a milder version abbreviated from lauryl ethoxy containing PEG groups, as in mild surfactants containing polysorbates PEG 40 or 80 or PEG glycosides made from sugars.




        1
    2. Thank you for this information Herman. I’ve been wondering if “natural surfactants” or coconut based surfactants are safe. Seems like lots of natural cleaners, like Trader Joe’s dish soap and all purpose cleaner, use them. Are they safe or no better than SLS?




      1
      1. Hi Julie, “natural” is insufficient, since most surfactants even SLS are made from natural coconut fats. The key is absence of sulfo, sulfate or betaine. Yes, TJ sells mild hand soaps, also check labels of 7th Generations products. Some shampoos also contain very mild PEG 40 or 80 based polysorbates, or sugar based polyglucosides, or laurates. Note that conventional soaps, even ivory snow, are fat based alkaline sodium stearates, some quite harsh on skin.




        1
        1. Sorry if I misunderstood what you’re saying and I’m wrong here, but you’re saying natural products are insufficient at cleaning? If so, that is quite a blanket statement and simply not true in the least. Again, I may have misunderstood, but insufficient at what, exactly? Cleaning? The purpose of soap is to simply help with the rinsing off process. I use all natural pure coconut castile soap and more recently I’ve been using Booda Butter bar soap (amazing stuff and palm oil free!) for face and body. For hair I use Sunfood shampoo and conditioner… the stuff is so pure that you can actually understand why they have to specify you’re not supposed to eat it… because it reads pretty edible. Not only does it get the job done, but my hair has never felt or looked so good, more expensive than the previous “natural” stuff I used to use, but it actually lasts months longer so I spend way less. And the natural soaps actually make me feel cleaner than the other stuff I used to use. Of course over washing with anything, even water, can strip your skin of its natural oils.
          For teeth I use water and bentonite clay and I’ve had a cavity from back in my pre-vegan toothpaste using days that healed itself in recent years (I couldn’t get it taken care of back then due to insurance). So I’d definitely call the natural approach more than sufficient, actually. It’s also healthy and sustainable and I’m not sure how anything that isn’t both of these things could be considered sufficient in the first place.
          Again though, I may have totally misunderstood your comment and went off on a pointless tangent… Only time will tell.




          0
          1. Hi S, yes, you misunderstood. My comment re natural soap refers to the fact that all are made by alkaline hydrolysis usually using corrosive sodium hydroxide to form sodium salts of different fatty acids depending on fat source. My point was that sodium salt of weak acids like stearic acid are naturally alkaline, sometimes contaminated with residual sodium hydroxide that requires neutralization often with acetic acid during manufacture. Whenever using a bar of any soap, I suggest you use commercial alk-acid pH paper to make sure the pH after wetting is no higher than 8. Note that natural skin pH is 5-6. My bar of Kirk’s Castile is about 8, a Dove bar for sensitive skin tested about 7.




            1
            1. Oh sorry, didn’t see your comment (again, shouldn’t post when this tried). Thanks for the response and sorry for my misunderstanding! I feel kind of ridiculous for not catching that right away. Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely do that!




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          2. Really wish there were an edit button or in this case delete, I just realized you were saying referring to the term “natural” being insufficient. Must remember not to comment (especially with no edit button) when this tired. Oh well… lol




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    3. Hello Mr. Rutner,

      You state that “Long term use over years ultimately kills underlying nerves and causes peripheral neuropathy or tingling in hands.”

      Can you please provide the studies, or whatever evidence, clinical or otherwise on which you base this assertion. If true, this is most troubling and I would like to research this further.

      Thanks!

      Jay




      2
      1. Hi Jay, sorry I have no direct evidence linking prolonged use of dishwashing fluids with peripheral nerve damage in hands. Regrettably I no longer have nor could I locate a report in a cosmetics journal observing extensive irreversible epidermal skin destruction from a single exposure to SDS, less severe with other surfactants in wash fluids or even common bar soaps. This study involved dye staining of the exposed skin and scotch tape lift off of altered patterns for microscopic examination. My speculation is based on the increasing neuropathy, tingling and loss of temperature discrimination in my 95 y old mother after lifelong exposure to dish washing fluid, at least twice daily wearing no gloves. Since most earlier even so called gentle dish washing fluids contained mainly SDS, it is conceivable that repeated exposure of underlying normal cell layers would ultimately reach and damage embedded nerve endings. Funding of such studies by organizations or manufacturers and formulators with vested interests would be highly unlikely or, if done and unfavorable, would never get published.




        1
    1. This is a very good question. Without a controlled clinical trial, we don’t know. There really is no reason that I can think of to brush your cheeks. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease grow in and around the teeth. They can re-seed the pockets from the cheeks but there are so many other areas that you can’t brush that will re-seed as well, like the tonsils and pharynx in general. In addition, we know the bad bacteria like Porphyromonas gingivalis live within the epithelial cells, so just brushing the surface will not remove these intracellular bacteria. To take it one step further, we know that periodontal disease is also associated with a significant list of viruses too. Many are herpesviruses that live far away from the cheek tissue, like the immune system and even the brain. Traumatizing your cheeks with a brush could actually cause a recurrent herpes infection.

      Dr. Ben




      3
    1. Eww, that would taste disgusting. Personally, I can’t stand Dr Bronners soap. It used to dry my skin and then I found out it had palm oil in it which is one of the most destructive, unsustainable ingredients a company could use. The destruction alone is horrifically unsustainable and one of the biggest (and growing) threats to the planet (thanks to the “sustainable” and now the “conflict-free” propaganda when in reality all palm oil is the same and is produced the same way but companies have gotten smarter and better at masking this and confusing the public and CONservation groups like WWF have only worsened things and gain from it all in the process), and it is also one of the cruelest industries on the planet right up there with animal agriculture. And like animal agriculture, it greatly violates human rights as well, to the extent that the people of Borneo have pleaded via petitions to stop growing palm oil in their country. Anyways, I’d suggest for these reasons using Nutribiotic pure coconut oil castile soap, the ingredients are a lot more pure, the soap does not dry your skin like Dr Bronners and it goes down the drain easier. Not all of Nutribiotic stuff is palm oil free though, but their castile soap is.
      I HIGHLY suggest Booda Butter products and their bar soap… so sustainable and works amazing and they’re just an awesome company who really cares.

      For teeth, I just use pure bentonite clay, works amazingly and would be a great base to make your own toothpaste if you wanted to add other ingredients.




      0
  19. Many years ago I suddenly developed a mouthful of canker sores — so painful that I could barely eat anything. After two week when they worsened instead of healing, I saw a periodontist. The first thing she said, after examination, was to find a SLS-free toothpaste. This was not an easy task. Most drug stores didn’t carry them and would have to special order. They also were very expensive, were bad-tasting and seemed rather gritty.
    Instead, I started brushing with a thin slurry of baking soda and water. The cankers disappeared and have not returned. At that time, my dentist said I was the second patient she’d seen in the past 3 months who had the sores caused by SLS, that’s why she immediately suggested it.
    I was wondering if the manufacturers had increased the proportion of SLS in their toothpastes to make them feel more velvety and increase the foaming.




    0
    1. There is no way to know what they put in their toothpaste as it’s all proprietary with no duty to disclose amounts of ingredients. I’m a periodontist and I recommend that patients simply don’t use toothpaste. The only benefit of toothpaste in controlled clinical studies is topical fluoride which helps prevent tooth decay. Toothpaste has zero benefit on gum health. I never use toothpaste at all when I brush my teeth.

      Baking soda’s utility in preventing and treating periodontal disease has been studied extensively. There is no difference in gum health between patients using baking soda and those that don’t.

      Dr. Ben




      2
        1. Yes, but you don’t even need water. The need for brushing and flossing arises from the need to eliminate the bacterial biofilm that will otherwise accumulate and cause gingivitis (9-14 days) that can lead to periodontitis (possible after 3 months of gingivitis.) In all of our experimental models on humans, brushing and flossing correctly and effectively (which most people don’t do) will remove all biofilm and prevent all gingivitis and periodontitis. Toothpaste adds no benefit. Rinses add no benefit. Used on their own in the absence of brushing and flossing, toothpaste and rinses add near nothing except for chlorhexidine or dilute bleach. Bleach by the way is all natural and produced by your immune system neutrophils in the phagosome to kill bacteria. Clinical studies using specific dilute bleach solutions have been shown to reduce gingival inflammation. 0.5% is the maximum that should be used though.

          Dr. Ben

          Virus-free.
          http://www.avg.com




          2
          1. Very cool info, thanks or sharing! I’ve had great success with just using water and bentonite clay for brushing. I never use toothpaste anymore and while my oral health speaks for itself, it will be cool to tell the skeptics what a periodontist has to say about it. Do you also recommend waiting an hour after eating to brush to avoid enamel erosion?




            0
            1. I don’t make any recommendations on when to brush, only as to frequency of brushing which would be twice per day, although once can be enough. I have not seen any clinical studies that show enamel erosion from brushing too soon after eating. The risk is theoretical as far as I have seen.

              Dr. Ben




              2
  20. I brush with pure bentonite clay and water and have been doing this for a couple years now. It’s really sustainable and affordable and honestly, nothing cleans better! My teeth are so shiny and clean afterwards and it does great at cleaning off stains as well I’ve noticed since I first started using it years ago. I don’t have any issues with staining (no matter how much tea I drink… seems the whitening commercials have been exaggerating) which I attribute to both brushing with bentonite clay and my clean WFPB diet. One of the reasons I like it aside from being natural, sustainable, and having great cleaning abilities, is that it contains natural occurring minerals (because it’s clay, so yeah) and has no glycerine which I read once may prevent tooth remineralization (not sure about the science on that, but the theory made sense). I figured if anything, it would help assist the natural remineralization process. Well I actually had a mild cavity from a long time ago from before going vegan and then WFPB vegan (and before I started brushing with clay) and I had to wait to get it taken care of because of insurance, so I just “kept an eye on it.” I had assumed it would have gotten worse but alas, it was gone! According to dental x-rays, it had completely healed itself with no trace left behind. I give credit to my diet as well as some credit to the bentonite clay.




    2
  21. This is completely unrelated sorry – but does anyone know if vegan powders or supplements work? It’s just that after seeing all Dr. Gregers examples of studies where the powdered form of a vegetable or berry or any nutrient really had no significant positive effect in the subject, I wonder why B12 supplements then work? – or if it’s worth investing in vegan protein powders for example?




    0
    1. Eevee, it’s my understanding that a lot of these powders & supplements don’t always contain what they claim to. It’s not regulated, so you don’t know what you’re actually getting. I’ve heard that Labdoor is a good source for testing supplements & protein powders. You should check them out. B12 supplements might be a little different because you can always check the B levels in your blood with a blood test.




      1
    2. Eevee, I’m not sure what videos you’re referring to. Dr. Greger actually recommends some dry freezer powders such as amla berry powder. He just recommends whole foods over supplementation for various reasons.
      I don’t know much about B12 powders but I do know B12 is important for anyone these days, not just vegans. I personally take Garden of Life’s B12 spray once a week because it’s organic and all natural and all that good stuff and Garden of Life is a trustworthy company too.
      Dr. Greger doesn’t recommend using protein powders but I do know of a healthy vegan doctor who does use a protein powder because she’s busy and she chooses to do that in the morning. Just make sure if you feel you need one or would like to try one out, that it’s a good reputable source. Get it from a company that does tests for heavy metals (Sun Warrior and Garden of Life are really good for this) and is whole foods. You might like hemp powder which is just from hemp seeds but slightly more concentrated protein and less fat (thought the fat in hemp is awesome for you so even if you used hemp protein powder, I definitely recommend incorporating the actual full seeds in your diet as well).




      0
  22. freezed*… I really need to start proof reading these. And what I meant with the whole foods thing with protein powder is that it should come from whole plant foods and not have a bunch of unhealthy fillers, etc.




    0
  23. Some of the most interesting recent research on canker sores revolves around the role of the oral microbiome in preventing or reducing outbreaks. I hope Dr. G addresses this in one if his videos.




    0
  24. I have a question, not about SLS.
    In considering sugar limitations/day, 6 t for women, does one need to count date paste as an added sugar? The sugar in dates is inherent, but when you pulverize it with water does that negate the fiber effect of keeping it low glycemic? Im trying to decrease my sugar intake, but don’t want to kid myself.




    0
  25. Sue- good for you in keeping track of your sugar intake. I think you should trust your instincts and indeed not kid yourself that you can consider the date paste not an added sugar. Yes, it comes from a natural source, those sweet dates, but you are not eating WHOLE dates; you are using the date powder as a sweetener. While this is better than simple sugars, it still does not contain desirable fiber. Use cautiously and to be safe count it as part of your total sugar intake. Remember too that even if it is healthier, you are still continuing the craving for sweetness, rather than allowing your body to adapt to less sweet tastes. sensation Check out this video for hope you can indeed train those taste buds: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/changing-our-taste-buds/ Best wishes towards that goal!




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  26. Hi, although this video is about tooth paste many shampoos have sls. I searched the website for hair and fingernails and it seems like not much has been talked about.

    With that said I have major ridges in my fingernails and they often flake off beyond where they are attached causing pain. My hair has also become brittle and there is more left in the comb than ever. I have asked several Mds about this and also searched the internet and still have not found clarity.

    The question is could something be missing from my vegan diet causing this?

    It would be really great if Dr Greger would do some videos on hair and nails.

    Thanks Rob




    0
  27. Rob, You asked if something in your vegan diet could be causing hair loss and brittleness and flaking, ridge fingernails. I’ve reviewed and there are two NutritionFacts.org videos that mention hair: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/amla-versus-cancer-cell-growth/ (mentions hair health) and https://nutritionfacts.org/video/fish-fog/ (hair loss). Perhaps you’ve already reviewed these(?).
    Re-nail health, this might be helpful : https://medlineplus.gov/naildiseases.html While iron deficiency can cause nail problems, I’m assuming your doctors have already review this (?)

    One of our wise moderators previously responded with this advice on the hair loss issue which you might find helpful.
    “Going vegan is not a generally recognized cause of hair loss. But, the devil is in the details:
    Following is a link to an article from Jack Norris who talks about the link between thyroid problems and hair loss–and how a change in diet may bring a thyroid problem to the fore. Other potential issues are also listed. http://jacknorrisrd.com/category/hair-loss/ Specifically note: “Summary: Occasionally, women who become vegetarian or vegan report experiencing hair loss. If there is a dietary cause, the most likely are rapid weight loss, thyroid problems, or iron deficiency. Zinc deficiency and not getting enough of the amino acid lysine could also be culprits.” For the full article where Jack goes into lots of detailed information, check out: http://veganhealth.org/articles/hairloss

    After looking at this information, I would think that if someone feels that they are really having hair loss, then it is time to see the doctor to figure out what the specific cause is. Once the cause is known, it can be directly addressed in a healthy way. For example, if someone is short on zinc, the ideal would be to address that zinc problem, not to revert back to a diet that is otherwise unhealthy in every other way.” Hope these are helpful…




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  28. If SLS destroys the outer layer of the mucus membrane of the mouth, can I assume that it is also helping the gums recede? I am fanatical about my oral hygiene, and I looked for and saw SLS in my mouthwashes and toothpaste, and my gums have receded over the years. I just assumed this sort of thing happened with age (of course, I had assumed a LOT of stuff til I found this website). However, when I used a non SLS toothpaste, and a non CA-whatever it is toothpaste, and a non-SLS no alcohol mouthwash, my gums started to bleed, and I could smell rot when I flossed. What say any of you? And before you mention vitamin C and exercise, I get plenty of both. Thanks.

    I went back to the regular toothpaste and the old junky mouth rinse, and the issues stopped. However, this was also back when I was eating small amounts of meat. I’ve only been on Dr. Greger’s “diet” for a month and a half.




    0

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