Tag Archives: Organic Clothing

Suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)? Another Reason to Go Green!

The rate at which people are experiencing a barrage of health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory problems,  difficulties focusing mentally due to fragrances and a gambit of other chemical sensitivities to cleaning supplies, off-gassing clothes, furniture, varnishes, new carpets etc., is rising substantially.

There are at least two good reasons to consider purchasing organic clothing:  one, your clothing is intimately in contact with the largest (and arguably, most neglected) organ of the body, your skin!  Organic clothing has not been treated with harmful pesticides, insecticides and dyes, and is therefore not contributing to the pollution of your own body’s biological terrain.  Two, organic clothing made from natural fibers and materials are eco-friendly, are from renewable resources and is also *hopefully, socially conscious.

Persons who might benefit the most in making this conscious change are persons who have itchy, irritated skin, are constantly sneezing, coughing or congested, or persons who have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS).  These persons may find organic clothing is an essential component of their self-care plan in reducing their exposure to the vast array of toxic chemicals that we are unknowingly (and now knowingly) exposing ourselves to every day.

When I think of organic clothing, the first eco-friendly material that pops into mind is hemp.  It was the original eco-fabric incorporated into t-shirts and denim.  It grows quickly and does not require the use of pesticides.  It is an environmentally positive crop, which means it actually improves the condition of the soil it grows in!

Organic cotton is grown without the use of herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides resulting in finer, naturally softer fabric with higher thread counts.

Jute, likely more commonly known to you as burlap or hessian, is produced from a plant that matures in less than 6 months and is therefore highly renewable.  Moreover, it is biodegradable and recyclable and a great alternative to plastic.  While this may not be your first choice for eco-friendly fibers against your skin because of its coarse texture, it is durable and breathable and is used in bags, shoes and jackets.  The camouflage suit (known as a ghillie suit) was initially used in the military for concealment.  For civilians, this material is used in camo jackets worn by hunters and serious paintball or airsoft participants.

Clothing (I digress a moment – as well as flooring in our homes) made from organic bamboo is another growing hot commodity amongst contemporary green clothing line designers.  It is a plant which you know grows readily in our households, without the need of harmful fertilizers and pesticides.  Material made from bamboo, does however undergo some degree of chemical processing by the time it gets to your wardrobe.

Lyocell fibers, whose trademark name is Tencel, are made from wood pulp cellulose.  Cellulose is a natural polymer found in the cells of all vegetation.  Although it is generally eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, its soft and durable qualities making it desirable, it can undergo the same harsh chemical treatment conventional clothing undergoes from its natural fibers to your garments.

Other natural fabrics which are increasingly “all the rage” and are being incorporated into luxurious clothing designers’ green lines (and eventually percolates into the average persons’ wardrobe) include: aloe (Germany, Spain and Italy), modal (Beech tree cellulose), soy (“vegetable cashmere”) and yak (long-haired bovine that is indigenous to the Himalayan mountains).

We are becoming increasingly aware of the food we put into our bodies.  Perhaps it is also time we become conscious of the clothes we place against our skin.

Prone to Change of Season Coughs and Colds? “Weather-Proof” Your Immunity

I was just musing over a keynote presentation given by Dr. Kerry Bone at the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors’ Annual November 2011 Convention, “Emerging Trends and Treatments in Naturopathic Medicine”. Every year this conference invites leading physicians and field-experts to share their knowledge on an array of hot topics.

To give you some background information on Dr. Bone, he is a highly experienced researcher and industrial chemist turned well-respected, leading phytotherapy (or herbal medicine) expert. He has maintained an active practice over the last 28 years in Australia and is a prolific author on herbal texts used world-wide and over 30 peer-reviewed scientific journals.

He spoke about how immunity is the “new” priority in the modern day patient. With every new epidemic that arises, be it severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian flu, swine flu or an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as clostridium difficile (C. diff), methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a popular question becomes, what can Naturopathic Medicine offer?

Though winter is almost over, from an immune system stand point, we aren’t quite out of the woods just yet. As a Naturopathic Doctor, based on the character of, say your cough (is it dry, wet, spasmodic?) we can make recommendations on the botanical herbs most appropriate for you.

Some dry cough remedies may include glycerrhiza glabra, tussilago farfara, verbascum thapsus or althea officinalis. If you have a wet cough we may recommend sanguinaria canadensis, lobelia inflata or aspidosperma quebracho. If you present with more of a spasmodic cough, grindelia robustica, foeniculum officinale, hyoscyamus niger, actea racemosa, or prunus serotina may be most appropriate.  These botanical medicines are not only fantastic but they are also safe when used appropriately and while under supervision of your Naturopathic Doctor who is aware of your medical history [this point cannot be emphasized enough].

To illustrate my point, there are upper dose recommendations that should not be exceeded when using glycerrhiza glabra (you may know it as licorice) in patients with high blood pressure or hypokalemia (low potassium levels).  Tussilago (colt’s foot) is best used short term only because its medicinal constituent, pyrrolizidine alkaloids can be toxic to your liver when used for an extended period of time much like many other over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.  Additional considerations include a discussion about which part of the botanical herb is best (is it the roots, flowers, leaves)?  Is this better as a hot liquid extraction (ie. tea) or better as a cold infusion, or does it require alcohol extraction (ie. tincture)?  What is the appropriate dose?  What will inhibit its absorption?  What vitamins can enhance its delivery and efficacy?  What can it interact with?  Are you a woman of child-bearing age, who may require an alternative botanical?  Do you have an autoimmune disorder that must be taken into consideration?

There are many herbal medicines that may be used to strengthen your immune system so you are able to cut down the duration of your cold and flu, and the latest antibiotic epidemic.  The great thing is, as a Naturopathic Doctor, this is only one of several other modalities, or tools, at our disposal to help address your concerns.

We encourage you to come, chat with us about your concerns, so together we can investigate the most appropriate treatments for you and your family.