Carol (Missy) Cohen MPH, CHHC

Are Your Cosmetics Toxic?

The FDA released a memo recently making the public aware that beauty products may be contaminated with mercury. You can see it here:

Why is this a big deal?

Heavy metals are natural in our environment but when they build up in our bodies they become toxic and inflammatory. Mercury can cause agrophobia, panic attacks, and seizures. On the less extreme side, mercury toxicity can cause those annoying, little signs of “just getting older.” Things such as headaches, fatigue, achy and swollen joints, difficulty losing weight and more.

Depending on your diet, with a few nutritional tweaks and added supplements, those symptoms of “just getting older” can be a thing of the past. My grandmother was young and spry well into her 80’s!

Don’t eat mercury (or other heavy metals!)

Mercury is not something that you would want to ingest. That being said, many of us are walking around today with a mouth full of mercury from fillings in our teeth that we received as kids. Those fillings off-gas mercury but, not only that, when they start to fall apart just from being in our mouths too long, most dentists are not being careful in their removal. Many are not putting up a dam to prevent us from swallowing that toxin and by swallowing it, we are contributing to the mercury content in our bodies. Be cautious of how your silver amalgams are removed and see a qualified biologic dentist. I send many of my clients to Groton Wellness in Massachusetts for just this purpose.

If ingesting mercury is such a bad idea, why put it on your skin?

That is a great question. Putting anything on your skin is the equivalent of eating it.  When you put a lotion, shampoo, soap, an ointment… whatever on your skin, it is absorbed into your body and enters your bloodstream. From the bloodstream, it enters your cells and affects what genes you express. That means that your sunscreen, for example, could actually be giving you cancer!

It is just as important to check the ingredients of your personal care products as it is your food. Did you know that some vitamins, supplements and, yes, even personal care products may contain mercury! Mercury is typically found in creams that are designed to lighten you skin and anti-aging products. Words to look for are:

  • Mercurous chloride
  • Calomel
  • Mercuric
  • Mercurio
  • Mercury

If any of your skin products have those words on the label, stop using them immediately! I also recommend that if you have any of the symptoms listed above that you get your mercury level tested. Your regular physician should be able to do this.

How much mercury is okay?

The ideal level of mercury in our bodies should be zero. That being said, mercury is in our environment naturally and cannot be avoided. Almost all of us will have some level of mercury. How much you need to remove from your system is dependent on your own unique body and how well you naturally detoxify it.

There are agents that bind to the mercury to help remove it from your body. In addition, things like chlorella, spirulina and cilantro are natural chelators. Be sure to include those in your diet on a regular basis!


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