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Traditionally especially in tropical countries it is an accepted body care program to oil the body once or even twice a day. Usually it was coconut oil; made at home from coconuts growing in the area.

The benefits of this are many but one recent mind blowing study has shown a benefit most people do not think about.

Universities from Nebraska; Illinois; China and Brazil working in cooperation with The US Department of Agriculture have found that Coconut Oil is just as repellent as DEET.

DEET is an insect repellent that is used in products to prevent bites from insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas and small flying insects.

DEET has some serious side effects.

Manufacturers and governments still say it is safe to use but the people who use it a lot are disagreeing.

Children are affected the most as usual – The Canadian Government does not recommend using DEET on a daily basis for children younger than 12 years old for more than a month. For infants younger than 6 months old, they recommend not using it all.

The FDA does not recomend the use of DEET for children under 2 years old.

Mental retardation, muscular hypotonia, hearing loss, and coarctation of the aorta have been reported among infants whose mothers were exposed to DEET during pregnancy; however, a direct relationship between the use of DEET and birth defects has not been demonstrated.

They are still looking at the connections of the use of DEET to Gulf War Syndrome. US Veterans who used DEET-containing insect repellents showed signs of arthro-myo-neuropathy, a neurotoxic syndrome with symptoms including joint and muscle pain, fatigue after exertion, and tingling or numbing of the hands, arms, feet, and legs.

In 1982 workers at The National Everglades Park in Florida were concerned by the effects they were having from sustained use of DEET and they requested the National Park Service initiate a health hazard evaluation to evaluate occupational exposure to DEET among workers. It was found that more highly exposed workers had significantly higher prevalence of insomnia, muscle cramping, symptoms of mood disturbances,skin rash or blisters, and difficulty starting or stopping the urinary stream.

Until 1989, the standard-issue insect repellent used by the U. S. military contained 75% DEET, but concerns about its toxicity led to a search for new formulations. The 3M Company therefore developed a slow-release product containing only 35% DEET, which is the repellent currently used by military personnel

In the 1990’s a ban on any DEET product above 30% was put into place but it was negated by the courts and the companies who stood to make millions from the product.

The use of DEET has continued because vector-borne diseases account for 17% of all infectious diseases resulting in 700,000 human deaths annually. Repellents are a primary tool for reducing the impact of biting insects on humans and animals.

Universities have done multiple studies to find alternatives to DEET. Studies increased when they found mosquitoes were breeding immunity to the most powerful DEET concoction.

Lemon Eucalyptus is one natural product they found that compared to DEET in effectiveness but we will talk about that later.

In a cooperative study released in September 2018 that included U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of University of Kentucky, South China Agricultural University, Rutgers University, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology and the Universidade Federal de Goiás of Brazil they found that fatty acids derived from coconut oil are inexpensive and highly efficacious repellant compounds.

What is mind blowing is these coconut fatty acids are active against a wide array of insects including biting flies, ticks, bed bugs AND mosquitoes. The medium-chain length fatty acids from C8:0 to C12:0 were found to exhibit the predominant repellent activity.

Repellency was stronger and with longer residual activity than that of DEET.

In laboratory bioassays, these fatty acids repelled biting flies and bed bugs for two weeks after application, and ticks for one week.

An aqueous starch-based formulation containing natural coconut fatty acids was also prepared and shown to protect pastured cattle from biting flies up to 96-hours in the hot summer, which, to their knowledge, is the longest protection provided by a natural repellent product studied to date.

This is huge.

There is already DEET in our waters and environment and repeated exposure seems to increase the side effects.

Science has shown we can use coconut based products instead.

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Children's yoga aI grew up in a country where you wanted curls. all the little girls with straight hair could hardly wait to get a  perm. Not sure who wanted me to have curls – mom or I but I clearly remember the chemical smell and the burning of the perms I got as a child. I did not have many as I decided early on I did not want to perm my hair and I was lucky to have a mom who let me more or less decide what hair to have.

As a teen growing up I worked part time in a store that had a beauty parlour attached. That was when I realized just how dangerous the perms could be. In more than one incident I remember a person’s scalp was burnt and I also heard of other people’s hair falling out. This just reinforced my urge to have natural hair.

During my year sabbatical in 1981 studying herbal medicine and vegetarian cooking in the Caribbean I was amazed to find the reverse of Canada. Most of the women I met wanted to get rid of their curls. Often they had started straightening their hair as young children.

Generally it seemed to me that those who permed OR straightened often had very damaged hair that kept breaking off.

Over my lifetime what I realized was harmful intuitively as a child started to be scientifically proven – I was not surprised to hear that studies have shown that Hairdressers have a higher incidence of Cancer and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has labelled these occupations as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

A really recent study has shown the chemicals in these hair products can cause fibroids.

People have also started to speak out about the twisted marketing that makes us want to be different then our beautiful natural selves. There are natural hair groups all over facebook and it is the focus of many blogs. Articles such as the ones below are sharing peoples experiences with the damaging effects of perms and straighteners and sharing the joy of their natural hair.

I spent £18,000 on straightening treatments …until my hair fell out

At last after a lifetime of observing mega corporations earning millions by talking people into using harmful chemicals to alter the beauty of their natural hair; natural hair is in vogue and has become the norm. Oh joy!

The young people of today are embracing natural hair and the array of techniques they promote are interesting and wide ranging. My step daughter has a blog on natural hair but there are 1000’s and 1000’s more.

The first time I saw locks was in 1981 in an ancient book on yoga in a library of a Yoga Center in Christ Church Barbados that has since closed. A gentleman was in The Eagle Pose and his hair was in locks which were spread out in a mandala on the floor around him. I just knew I wanted my hair like that.

In the 80’s when I decided my natural hairstyle was going to be locks I was amazed at the reaction, in Canada and in the Caribbean. People found it truly hard to believe that I loved my hair in this natural style shaped and formed by nature and life.

I have never found that picture or book again but I can close my eyes and see it clearly almost 40 years later.

The next place

Over the years I have grown to love my locks a little more each year. My hair has been a great conversation piece wherever I have visited or lived.

The history of locs is interesting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreadlocks

One thing I absolutely love is the camadarie of people with locks. On my last visit to Toronto on one of the most busy corners near Young and Bloor I saw a young man with locks and we greeted each other in passing.

Here in Dominica my daughters were told that in any publicly funded school children with locks were accepted and they were welcomed into the schools nearby. It was only at the Catholic school we were told locks were not allowed and by then my daughter had decided to cut her hair. A few years later I heard even the Catholic Schools were accepting students with locks.

Locks are very common now and my research shows locks have historically existed in many different cultures.

A recent article online was a shock – I had thought we were past this. This article talked about how a little 7 year old in Oklahoma had been expelled from school for her locks. How archaic! I absolutely love how this woman sent love and support to this little girl online through an E book called For Tiana: A Care Package FILLED with Locs of LOVE. I enjoyed Alice Walker’s talk at the end too!

Here’s to having the freedom to choose natural hair for our children; mohawk; afro; locs; combed; braided and the celebration of our differences.

Resources

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/news/hairdressers-and-barbers-may-be-at-increased-cancer-risk

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/10/living/identity-opinion-yaba-blay-dreadlocks-brown-girl/index.html?iref=obinsite