Maria Rosales (rosmar) Thu 4 Feb 10 12:15
Thank you so much. Even without having read the book yet, I am thoroughly enjoying this conversation.
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 4 Feb 10 13:52
Thanks Maria, I'm enjoying it too!
the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Thu 4 Feb 10 15:01
Thanks for all these answers, Ellen. Boy, as if to illustrate your point, here's some economic news from today's paper: "Household products maker Clorox Co. said Wednesday that its second-quarter profit jumped 28 percent as it continued to get a boost from sales linked to the swine flu. The company also increased its earnings outlook for the full year. Clorox said both U.S. and international sales of its disinfecting products benefited from demand associated with the H1N1 flu pandemic for a third straight quarter." (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2010/02/04/financial/f0556 11S95.DTL#ixzz0ebuWF9P0) To take the place of toxic chemicals like bleach, I liked your suggestion for using hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle for cleanups around the kitchen, Ellen. Talk about scrubbing bubbles! The edges of the sink looked like they had rabies.
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Thu 4 Feb 10 18:58
ellen, i think i have been a honorary green barbarian for a longtime (fear chemicals, not germs) --- but one contemporary development has given me pause: i am personally acquainted with people who have had tiny scratches (which they washed and disinfected) turn into raging infections requiring emergency-room visits; and friends-of-friends dye (make that die! can. not. type) from community-acquired resistant staph. so the bad superbugs -are- out there; which has made me a OCD about dousing all cuts with alcohol, after washing. i wasnt nearly so persnickety about them a few years back. so while i agree about general overuse of germicides and sanitizers, i have become phobic about treatments of open wounds...
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 4 Feb 10 20:01
Hello Loris, Yes, the overuse of antimicrobials and antibiotics has turned what used to be rather ordinary bacteria into supermonsters, and we have only ourselves to blame... My father in law, for instance, who is in general extremely healthy, somehow ended up with an abscess that covered the entire front of his liver last winter--the bacterial culprit was MRSA, and no one could figure out how he acquired that bacteria, since he had not been in the hospital and had no risk factors for that. He is fine now, thank goodness! I agree that wounds should be thoroughly cleaned, and I am glad you are using alcohol rather than antimicrobials to clean your wounds. The frequent use of alcohol to clean the skin may not be such a good idea though, because alcohol is very drying, and chapped skin can easily be invaded by dangerous bacteria. Eating a lot of fermented foods, and even rubbing a bit of real kefir into your skin now and then may also help you resist dangerous bacterial infections. I have even made kefir out of cream, just so I could use it on my skin. Kefir cream feels lovely on the skin, and it is also ridiculously delicious!
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Thu 4 Feb 10 20:12
Alcohol is an antimicrobial, and is the active ingredient in the bulk of hand sanitizer. Rubbing it on wounds can kill some of the healthy cells in the wound along with bacteria that cause infections, so it's best used to clean areas of intact skin. I agree that people have gone a bit crazy with the use of more potent and specific antibacterials, including antibiotics, helping to create resistant bacteria like MRSA. Today, however, MRSA is so common that it's no longer just--or even primarily--a hospital acquired infection. Your father in law probably got his MRSA from a friend or relative or acquaintance who happens to have been colonized by the bug without having gotten ill from it. More later, because I have not yet had a chance to get very far yet in my reading of the book.
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Thu 4 Feb 10 20:17
not to sidetrack from ellen's book, but i feel i would rather wash a cut, then douse with alcohol --- then apply something like neosporin (antibiotic overuse).
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Thu 4 Feb 10 20:23
Alcohol hurts when you use it to wash a cut, for good reason: it's damaging the raw tissues and irritating the nerves. It is not a healthy disinfectant. A minor wound that is washed with clean water doesn't need alcohol, or neosporin, just a bit of protection from dirt and further injury by a bandaid.
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Thu 4 Feb 10 21:42
interesting. as a kid i was taught to NOT use bandaids, unless the skin injury was something like a burn or blister, which needed protection for awhile. exposure to air = letting a scab form = good. or so i was taught...
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Thu 4 Feb 10 22:05
That's what I learned too, but current dogma is to keep it moist for quicker healing.
descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Thu 4 Feb 10 22:33
> current dogma I long for a day, hopefully not too far in the future, where dogma is replaced by more complete knowledge.
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Fri 5 Feb 10 06:41
Hi everyone! Debunix is right about alcohol, and actually, I never use it on cuts myself, because it hurts like hell, and because a good thorough wash with soap and water should do the trick for simple abrasions and cuts. I do use hydrogen peroxide on deeper wounds that I'm not sure I can clean out thoroughly enough with soap and water. I know that hydrogen peroxide also causes tissue damage, but it definitely kills bacteria, and it doesn't sting the way alcohol does. I do try to encourage the normal microbial inhabitants of my skin by not scrubbing my skin too hard and avoiding harsh detergent-based soaps. In fact, in the winter, sometimes I just put white distilled vinegar on my washcloth and scrub myself with that, because the vinegar does not upset the ph balance of the skin. I also don't shower as often in winter as I do in summer--I don't sweat as much in the winter for one thing, and my really filthy chores are less frequent in the winter. Winter in Northern Minnesota is quite hard on the skin--I don't need to remove all my protective oils every day! I think that the real answer to controlling dangerous strains of bacteria is to sic phages on them. The Russians have been working on phage therapy, utilizing bacteriophage viruses that target bacteria, and only bacteria.Phage therapy is extremely effective and safe, and bacteria cannot adapt to it. During WWII, the Russians fought bacterial infections with phages, rather than with antibiotics, and they have continued to do so. It is just too bad that we did not do the same. We'd all be much better off now if we had! Russian phage therapy facilities custom-grow a set of phages that exactly match each patient's infection. We in the West are just beginning to try to catch up.
Travis Bickle has left the building. (divinea) Fri 5 Feb 10 11:01
Jerry, that particular piece of dogma is the result of more complete knowledge! I had a fascinating conversation with an elderly emergency medicine specialist once about the progression of thought and research on wound care over the course of his career.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 5 Feb 10 15:09
I'm surprised to learn you can't get soap flakes. I hang out with a bunch of sustainability people who make their own laundry soap.
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Fri 5 Feb 10 16:43
The only plain laundry soap flakes available when I was working on the book were imported from Italy and from England.
the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Sat 6 Feb 10 10:37
And they're so expensive, too! Saw a 500g box of L'Amande (with that admittedly adorable illustration on the box) on Amazon for $16.50, plus $6 shipping, which seems like a lot for plain old soap. Especially when soap flakes can be made (according to http://www.greenhome.com/info/magazine/001/soitriedit.html) by grating bar soap. Has anybody tried this method? I would think Ivory soap would work well here, maybe fed through a food processor to save time and aggravation. Sounds like something worth trying... It's hard to get around the fact that it's so expensive on many fronts to live green. How can we combat that? It's hard not just for us, but this makes it more difficult to convince people to change their ways. For example, with prices so high, how do you change the minds of people who think that organic food is elitist? How do you get people to pay $2, say, for a head of organic celery when they can get a "normal" head of celery for 79 cents?
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Sat 6 Feb 10 11:38
I would use a grater to shave either a bar of Ivory soap or a bar of Kirk's plain old castile soap. I also have a hand-cranked grater that would probably work really well for that job. Another very nice alternative to commercial laundry detergents is soap nuts, which actually do grow on trees in tropical regions. Soapnuts are loaded with saponins which lather up in water and work extremely well for washing purposes. I've tried both whole soapnuts and the powdered kind, and I've had excellent results from soapnut tea made from the powder. The saponins are released most efficiently from hot water, and since I don't want to have to do hot water washes just to make the soapnuts work, I boil the powder first and then strain out the liquid. The soapnut tea is extremely effective--I only have to use a teaspoon and a half per load of laundry, and it actually gets the terrible smell out of my socks! Regular laundry detergent often fails miserably at this task... How to combat the expense of eating organic food? I think each of us needs as much good information about the pesticide residues on our foods as we can get, and a good source is the Environmental Working Groups Shoppers Guide to Pesticides. When we have good information, we can make more informed choices. workinghttp://www.foodnews.org/walletguide.php However, not everyone can afford to buy organic food. I have made my living as an organic landscaper, artist, worm wrangler, and writer for most of my adult life. None of these occupations has brought me even within shouting distance of the middle class. I am not willing to try to make anyone feel guilty for not buying organic food. I cant afford to buy only organic food, though my husband and I eat as organically as we can. We grow a very large percentage of our own produce, and preserve as much as we can, in season. The real key to eating healthily and inexpensively is to do your own cooking, and buy as much of your food as you can in season, in bulk, and unprocessed, and then not allow it to go bad-freeze or process your surplus for later use. If you dont know how to cook, eating is going to be an expensive proposition. I think that one solution to the problem of expense would be for several households to pool their resources in order to buy dry food staples and produce in bulk, and then divvy it up, perhaps even cook some of it together in a public kitchen and then divide it into freezable portions. A fifty pound sack of potatoes is a lot less expensive per serving than is a bag of McDonalds French fries. A fifty pound bag of brown rice is a much better buy than a box of Uncle Bens Rice. The beings who are the most adversely affected by agricultural pesticides are not the consumers who eat these foods, but rather the farmworkers who apply the pesticides and the wildlife that is exposed to the spray and the runoff. For the sake of the farmworkers, the wild critters, and the environment, everyone who can afford to buy organic food should! Also, the more insistent we are, the more things change. Though local organic produce stores and farmers market are very important, when the masses begin demanding safer food, and the big guys like WalMart and Safeway feel the heat, really big changes can occur and have occurred.
Andrew Alden (alden) Sat 6 Feb 10 11:53
What's wrong with Ivory Snow, aside from the scent?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sat 6 Feb 10 13:24
Come to think of it, the recipe I know for laundry detergent called for shaved Fels Naptha.
(fom) Sat 6 Feb 10 13:34
I love the laundry soap suggestions! Must try them. I have multiple environmental sensitivities but apparently a good immune system. I have to use the scent free, etc, versions of everything. I have had terrible reactions to neosporin, so for a wound I use plain vodka and occasionally -- if it covers an area larger than .5" square -- some benzalkonium chloride. (I almost lost a foot to a case of MRSA that came from a toe blister, so I am ultracautious about things like burst blisters.) What I use for a hand sanitizer is my own blend of vodka and lavender essential oil. Anyway -- I am about half green barbarian and half OCD germphobe. Overall my sense that we live in a sea of bacteria anyway makes me think that my modestly germphobic practices won't set me back too much. I really try to keep a sense of proportion.
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sat 6 Feb 10 14:08
when i happened by my local natural foods store (which like most in the greater bay area these days has dispenser of natural hand-sanitizing wipes by the door) --- i checked the ingredient statement: #1 is organic alcohol, #2 organic lavender oil, etc etc. i remember reading news stories within the last year that the company that makes this, eos, couldnt keep up with production demands --- and was proud to have a natural alternative. local company and all; previously known for a similar skincare line (lavender based). i was thinking about all this when at a medical appt yesterday; the other woman in the waiting room was snorfling and clearly miserably ill, and commented to the receptionist that she might not be able to talk well to the doc, as she was so nauseated she might have to run to the toilet to vomit. so 'let my immune system face this challenge?' or 'run away!'
Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Sun 7 Feb 10 08:17
Wow! Lots of new posts! In order: Andrew, I just looked up the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for Ivory Soap bars--nothing is wrong with Ivory soap, except the fragrance. The fragrances that are added to consumer products are petroleum products. My skin will not tolerate any fragrances at all, especially fragrances that have gotten embedded in my clothing during laundering. Sharon: I just looked up the MSDS for Fels Naptha Soap, and its components are hydrocarbons and a soupçon of byproducts from terpene processing. This is definitely not a natural, gentle product--I wouldn't want to be messing around grating or shaving it and breathing the dust! Felicity: I use lavender infused vodka for disinfecting too! It is great stuff, but I try to avoid using it for regular hand cleaning, because alcohol is so drying and damaging to the skin. Dry, rough, damaged skin is much more susceptible to invasion by dangerous bacteria than smooth, undamaged skin is. Loris: When my daughter was embarking on a trip to Scotland with her high school theater group, to perform at the Fringe Festival, the team doctor (whose daughter was in the group) told the kids: "Don't touch your noses, don't rub your eyes, keep your hands away from your face. If you have to touch your face, wash your hands first." That's very good advice for anyone who is determined to remain engaged with the world and doesn't want to emulate the late Howard Hughes. I probably would not want to sit right next to the snorfling woman though!
For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sun 7 Feb 10 11:24
but there is a larger question here, i think: if you are an adult, with your immune system being what it is (or isnt) at this point, how much should one be avoidant of cooties, vs laissez-faire (i.e. allowing the good challenges)? also, if, as an adult, you are already one who has the allergies and the sensitivities, would getting sicker more often -help-? and oh, i wanted to say i particularly enjoyed the passage in the book about stainless steel vs other metals. confirmed my experience/observations/prejudices about the stuff...
(fom) Sun 7 Feb 10 14:09
>Felicity: I use lavender infused vodka for disinfecting too! It is great stuff, but I try to avoid using it for regular hand cleaning, because alcohol is so drying and damaging to the skin. Dry, rough, damaged skin is much more susceptible to invasion by dangerous bacteria than smooth, undamaged skin is. I add about 50 drops of the lavender essential oil to a 3-oz bottle of vodka and it's not particularly drying -- the lavender oil is soothing. Plus I do use a lot of hand lotion (eco-groovy types).
Lisa Harris (lrph) Sun 7 Feb 10 14:28
I am ivery interested in the fact that Canada and the EU have banned certain chemicals and hormones that the FDA has yet to ban. Your comment that socialized health care may be the reason rings very true in my ears. Is any of that likely to change once we (hopefully) pass health care reform?
Members: Enter the conference to participate