Sunday, 25 March 2007


Toxic chemicals are all around us. Not just the visible ones such as tobacco smoke and exhaust fumes, but hundreds of chemicals that go unseen. Carpets and upholstery, industrial glues, paints, cleaning products and even perfumes have ingredients that can harm our immune systems. There are ways in which you can cut down on the contact from toxic chemicals. One example is to make your own surface cleaner (Tea tree and lemon essential oil mixed in water for example) and to go for natural air fresheners instead of chemical ones.

When you cut out chemicals from the house you might feel an improvement in the air quality straight away. Other effects are more subtle. It might be a month or two before you realise that you don’t have an afternoon headache or your complexion has cleared up or you can breath easier. Within six months you might find that you react very strongly to the smell of chemical cleaners. Just like perfume we eventually can’t smell it if we are in contact with it for a long period, our bodies become resistant to the odour. You will also find that your nose will be able to detect the nice smells again like fresh flowers and home cooking. This will make you realise how much your sense of smell is dulled by household chemicals.

When certain chemicals are no longer poisoning your system you might find that you become aware of certain foods or smells that make you feel ill. Heed the warnings and cut these out of your diet completely. This is the start of the detoxification process.

During the period of detoxification you need to follow your bodies needs. You might find that you are more tired than usual. Sleep is when your body does its essential maintenance work, so go to bed earlier for a while. Here are some other ways of helping your body.

Change your diet. This doesn’t have to be too drastic. Go for organic fruit and vegetables. A diet low in saturated fat will help to keep toxins from building up in the body. Go for oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, trout, salmon and herring. These contain essential fatty acids that fight the effects of chemical exposure on the body.

Exercise. Choose two or three activities that you enjoy and work these into your schedule each week. Anything that makes you sweat is particularly useful for boosting metabolism and helping the release of toxins through the skin.

Stress relief. The state of your body often reflects the state of your mind. Too much stress will depletes the body of nutrients needed to fight the effects of pollution. Choose activities that get you totally absorbed and allow you to switch off completely for a while. Yoga and meditation can be very relaxing and the deep breathing that is involved will promote the release of toxins via the lungs.

Hydrotherapy. Water in all its states helps to purify the body. Try relaxing in a bath with cider vinegar, epsom salts or sea salt added to the water. These will stimulate the skin to release toxins. If you belong to a health club have a steam sauna and a massage would also be a very good idea!

Plants. Common houseplants can help to remove toxins from indoor air. The most effective ones are aloe vera, English ivy, spider plants, peace lilies, philodendrons, bamboo plants, chrysanthemums and daisies. Each has been shown to remove harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and xylene from the air.


When you shop for cleaning products look out for the ones with the least amount of chemicals present in the list of ingredients. This won’t guarantee that the product doesn’t have harmful irritants in them but it will go some way to relieving the symptoms of industrial poisoning.

Here’s an alternative air freshener idea to get you started on the road to a chemical free environment. Mix a 200g box of baking soda with 10-15 drops of you favourite essential oils. Put into a cardboard box, which you can decorate if you wish, or a small dish. Put out of the way and let it get rid of most of the household pongs.


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