We've become a germaphobic culture. Do you obsessively wash your hands? If so, you may also have fallen prey to the hype about using hand sanitizers. These germicides are everywhere. They're available in highly portable bottles so you can have one in your car, purse, office drawer, etc. You can also find them at the entrance to grocery stores so you can clean your hands or wipe down your shopping cart. We've gone too far and overdone it.
The truth is that we need germs to help boost our immune responses and keep us healthier. Getting rid of all bacteria is wrecking havoc on well being, especially if you're using hand sanitizers.
3 main reasons why I avoid hand sanitizers like the plague (because they may cause the plague!):
1. By killing all bacteria, we are forcing natural forms of bacteria to evolve into superpowers. This fixation on being germ-free is leading to a population of superbugs. We're also undermining the biological functioning of our immune system which needs to be stimulated to react to bacteria. In addition, we're seeing the impact of this by the overuse of antibiotics but that's another whole article.
2. The alcohol found in most of these products is harmful to the skin. Alcohol is drying and can dehydrate cells. The repeated irritation can make our hands rough, wrinkled and essentially speed up aging. If alcohol isn't present then triclosan, an antibacterial is often used as a major ingredient. Studies have shown that this substance can disrupt hormone function and add to rise of bacteria and viruses that can resist antibiotics.
3. The skin has natural oils and bacteria that help provide a protective barrier to the body. Sanitizers strip the skin of these important oils and disrupt the skin's ability to protect itself.
So what do I use? This winter, the incidences of flu and colds seemed to increase exponentially. Bacteria and viruses are passed on by touching or shaking hands with another person. Or we pick up infected mucus by touching a door knob, desk or chair. Or when someone sneezes or coughs, droplets fly out that we may inhale. One of the best deterrents I've found is essential oil of lavender. Extracted from the lavender plant, which is part of the mint family, oil of lavender has been shown to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-septic and anti-inflammatory. And it's natural!
I carry a bottle of lavender in my purse and as I arrive at any place with crowds of people--whether a meeting, lunch with friends, a tennis match or especially when traveling on airplanes--I dab a few drops of lavender under my nose and on the back of my hand. If someone near me sneezes, I breathe in the lavender from the back of my hand. You can also use lavender in a room diffuser in your office, home or anywhere people gather. Create a lavender spray by mixing 30 drops of lavender in a pint of water. Spray it on door handles, table tops, bathroom countertops, desks, etc. I'm happy to report, I avoided getting any cold or flu this year so I'm actually continuing my practice into the summer months...and beyond! Make sure you don't buy "scent" of lavender but authentic essential oil of lavender from a reliable source! Email me if you'd like some brand recommendations: Contact me.
By the way, if you do get a cold and have trouble sleeping, you can use a few drops of lavender on your pillow to help you relax and breathe more freely. Be well!