Tag Archives: Hygiene Hypothesis

Triclosan, Your Toothpaste and Your Endocrine System

 

 

TOP triclosan toothpaste

 

Take a look at the ingredients in your toothpaste. Is triclosan on the list? If so, switching brands would be a good idea.

 

Some products containing triclosan. (Source. www.achildgrows.com)
Some products containing triclosan. (Source. www.achildgrows.com)

 

Triclosan is the active ingredient in many widely used antibacterial products. You probably used some – or many – of them in your own home. These products claim to kill “99.9% of germs” as if that were a good thing … and triclosan is the killer.

 

(Source:  www.greenlivingonline.com)
(Source: www.greenlivingonline.com)

 

 

TRICLOSAN: A PROBLEMATIC CHEMICAL WITH ADVERSE HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS  (Francis, 2014), (Kaplan, 2014), (Mercola, 2014)

Triclosan is a synthetic, broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent present in a wide variety of consumer products: toothpastes, liquid soaps, dish washing liquids, mouth washes, face washes, hand sanitizers, surgical cleaning scrubs, shaving gels, deodorants, detergents, textiles, socks, workout clothes, toys, plastic kitchenware, cutting boards, school supplies – and many more.
Triclosan was first registered as a pesticide in 1969 and is now widely used as an antimicrobial. Do you want to brush your teeth with pesticide? For that matter, do you think it’s wise to kill 99% of the useful bacterial in your mouth daily?

 

 

(Source: www.ecomythsalliance.org)
(Source: www.ecomythsalliance.org)
The label on Colgate toothpastes lists the amount of triclosan in its products as only 0.30% – which may seem very small. But because triclosan is extremely powerful at killing bacteria and other microbes, this negligible amount makes the chemical a powerfully active ingredient.
Aside from killing 99% of our useful microbes along with the harmful ones, triclosan also reacts with water to form chloroform, a possible carcinogen, and with sunlight to form dioxins, known endocrine disruptors. (Angkadjaja, 2012)

 

 

(Source: www.cela.ca)
(Source: www.cela.ca)
Triclosan’s chemical structure is similar to thyroid hormones and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs – toxic chemicals now banned in the US but still found in the environment). This similarity allows it to attach to thyroid hormone receptors, altering hormone regulation and possibly interfering with fetal development. Scientists have noted an increased cancer risk from triclosan exposure. And bacteria exposed to triclosan are apt to become resistant to antibiotics.

 

 

(Source: thehealthykey.com)
(Source: thehealthykey.com)

 

The US Food and Drug Administration acknowledges that recent research raises “valid concerns” about the safety of triclosan, which is used so widely in products that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports it is found in the urine of 75% of the population.
Triclosan:
  • Is found in the blood, urine and breast milk of the average person.
  • Is a known hormone disrupter.
  • Is a culprit in creating superbugs, bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
  • Weakens the heart muscle, impairing contractions and reducing heart function.
  • Weakens skeletal muscles, reducing grip strength
  • Washes into your sewage systems  and pollutes water bodies
On top of all this, ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAP OFFERS NO PROVEN BENEFIT OVER REGULAR SOAP!

 

 

 

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A joint project of Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides has created a FACT SHEET on the dangers of triclosan. It contains a summary of nearly 60 studies into the chemical’s impact on health. From the FACT SHEET:

A growing list of household and personal care products are advertised as “antibacterial” because they contain a chemical called triclosan. While the manufacturers of these products want you to think triclosan protects you from harmful bacteria, it turns out it may be doing more harm than good.

See  Triclosan: What the Research Shows  (Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides, undated)

 

The proliferation of triclosan in everyday consumer products is enormous. It is now found in our drinking water, in our rivers, in our bodies. Several other countries, including the members of the European Union, have banned or restricted use of the chemical. Yet we in the US continue to consume and be exposed to an onslaught of triclosan. (Layton, 2010)

 

 

(Source: ww.beyondpesticides.org)
(Source: ww.beyondpesticides.org)
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s name for triclosan is 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol. Triclosan is similar in its uses and mechanism of action to triclocarbon, another dangerous antibacterial chemical used in personal care products. Brand names include Digiclean, Asepso, Prevens, Virx, Derma-Glove, FresHands and Renewal. (Wikipedia, 8/24/2014)

 

 

(Source:  www.medicalnewspk.com)
(Source: www.medicalnewspk.com)

 

 

 

 

HOW TRICLOSAN WORKS

The cells of all organisms, including bacteria, require a cell membrane to survive. The cell membrane is a critical barrier that selectively allows oxygen, nutrients, and wastes to permeate and leave the cell; it is the “edge of life, the boundary that separates the living cell from its nonliving surroundings”. Without a permeable cell membrane, a cell would simply die. For example, wastes would not be transported out of the cell, causing toxins to accumulate and poison the cell. Curiously, it is precisely this function of the cell membrane that Triclosan is engineered to immobilize….

Triclosan stops the fatty acid elongation process by inhibiting a bacterial enzyme. … By stealing active sites from the natural substrate, Triclosan systematically kills bacteria by stopping fatty acid chain growth. This, in turn, stops the growth of the cell membrane and effectively kills the cell. The process is efficient, insidious and almost perfect, and when given the opportunity, Triclosan is extremely successful.

–  S. Angkadjaja, 2012. What Makes Antibacterial Soap Antibacterial? Illumin: A review of engineering in everyday life

 

 

breastfeeding-3

 

 

 

 

Earthpaste Amazingly Natural Toothpaste Cinnamon
Earthpaste Amazingly Natural Toothpaste – Cinnamon

TRICLOSAN-FREE TOOTHPASTES

 Here are some of the triclosan-free toothpastes on the market:
  • Redmond Trading Company’s Earthpaste Amazingly Natural Toothpaste – Cinnamon
  •  Doterra Toothpaste
  • Tom’s of Maine
  • Sensodyne
  • Jason’s Natural Toothpaste
  • Nature’s Gate
  • Desert Essence
  • Crest Toothpastes
  • Waleda

 

Some of these brands contain fluoride and other chemicals of concern. For example, here’s Environmental Working Group’s SKIN DEEP’s analysis of Sensodyne Original Flavor Toothpaste:
 At least it doesn’t contain triclosan.

 

 

active-ingredients-e1377624937238

Check the ingredients list on your own toothpaste. Triclosan is listed under Active Ingredients.
I personally also avoid toothpastes containing fluoride, which is a toxin – and the reason why fluoride-containing toothpastes come with a warning not to swallow  it – as on the label above.

 

 

 

 

MANY BACTERIA ARE GOOD FOR US

There is much evidence showing that bacteria are not all dangerous and should not be killed willy nilly. Many strains of  bacteria are in fact necessary for our health. The modern world has developed an unhealthy phobia against germs of all kinds.
Remember the Human Microbiome?  A large part of it resides in our gastro-intestinal tracts. So much so that the Gut Microbiome is often referred to as our second genome. Our guts are home to several pounds of microbes responsible for keeping our immune systems strong so we can have healthy bodies and minds.
In addition to the gut microbiome, the human body also is home to other important microbiomes: On our skin; in our mouths, urogenital tracts, nasal cavities.

 

 

Human Microbiomes
Human Microbiomes

 

In fact, bacteria and other micro-organisms living in and on the human body outnumber our human cells by 10 to 1! And this is a good thing. Without these microbes, our health – perhaps our very existence – would be in serious jeopardy.

 

 

ed1ce47043a1196fa6093b16620ad41d

 

A nice little animated video from NPR called The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome  (5:28).
The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome - NPR
The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome – NPR

 

 

THE HYGIENE HYPOTHESIS

The Hygiene Hypothesis states that overly sanitizing our skins and environments is actually doing much harm and is responsible for the steep rise in auto-immune diseases, asthma, eczema and other health problems.
Michael Pollan states it well in his New York Times Magazine article“Some of My Best Friends Are Germs “ – which I highly recommend reading:

Human health should now “be thought of as a collective property of the human-associated microbiota”  ….

Such a paradigm shift comes not a moment too soon, because as a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being. Researchers now speak of an impoverished “Westernized microbiome” and ask whether the time has come to embark on a project of “restoration ecology” — not in the rain forest or on the prairie but right here at home, in the human gut. (Pollan, 2013)

(Source: www.dailymail.co.uk)
The Hygiene Hypothesis: Our modern obsession with cleanliness is making us and our environment sick. (Source: www.dailymail.co.uk)

 

My recommendation is to be alarmed rather than reassured by products that promise to kill 99.9% of germs. Using these products will deprive you of many microbes necessary for your health – and the health of our planet too.

 

 

THE RIGHT WAY TO WASH YOUR HANDS

In 2005 an advisory panel told the Federal Drug Administration there was no evidence that antibacterial soaps work better than regular soap and water. (Layton, 2010)

 

hand-washing-technique

 

Remember washing your hands with regular soap and warm water before antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers hit the market? Turns out using regular soap and water is actually the best way to protect your health and prevent the spread of infections and communicable illnesses. In case you’ve forgotten how to do it:
  • Wet your hands with warm water.
  • Lather up with regular soap.
  • Rub soapy hands together for at least 15 seconds before rinsing.
  • Dry hands before turning off the faucet.
  • Use a paper towel to turn off the water to avoid germs on the faucet.

 

 

 

 

CHECK FOR TRICLOSAN IN OTHER PRODUCTS

You might also want to check for triclosan in the ingredients list of your other personal care and household cleaning products. It’s bad stuff.
Some of the many products containing triclosan:

 

(Source: drsohm.tumblr.com)
(Source: drsohm.tumblr.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source:  www.redicecreations.com)
(Source: www.redicecreations.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source:  healthverdict.com)
(Source: healthverdict.com)

 

 

THE EWG’S SKIN DEEP WEBSITE AND MOBILE APP

The Environmental Working Group has collected safety data on over 69,000 products. You can either go to their SKIN DEEP website or use their mobile app.

 

Information from EWG's SKIN DEEP project
Sample information from EWG’s SKIN DEEP project’s mobile app that lets you obtain hazard on over 69,000 personal care products by typing in the product’s name or scanning its barcode with a smart phone

 

Why the EWG established the SKIN DEEP project:

The American government doesn’t require health studies or pre-market testing of the chemicals in personal care products, even though just about everyone is exposed to them. Through Skin Deep, we put the power of information in consumers’ hands. When you know what’s in the products you bring into your home and how those chemicals may affect your health and the environment, you can make informed purchasing decisions — and help transform the marketplace. At the same time, we advocate responsible corporate and governmental policies to protect the most vulnerable among us.

 

What SKIN DEEP says about triclosan and triclocarban on their website:

Triclosan & Triclocarban: Antimicrobial pesticides in liquid soap (triclosan) or soap bars (triclocarban), very toxic to the aquatic environment. Often found as contaminants in people due to widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products. Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say that soap and water serves just as well to prevent spread of infections and reduce bacteria on the skin. Overuse may promote the development of bacterial resistance.

 

 

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REFERENCES

Angkadjaja, S. (2012). What Makes Antibacterial Soap Antibacterial?  Illumin: A review of engineering in everyday life. See:  http://illumin.usc.edu/printer/68/what-makes-antibacterial-soap-antibacterial/

Food & Water Watch + Beyond Pesticides. (undated). Triclosan: What the Research Shows. See:  http://www.beyondpesticides.org/antibacterial/triclosan-research-3-09.pdf

Francis, I. (2014). Why you should be worried about the chemical ‘Triclosan’ that’s in your toothpaste.  See:   http://www.thealternative.in/lifestyle/worried-chemical-triclosan-thats-toothpaste/

Hardin, J.R. (2014). The Gut Microbiome – Our Second Genome. AllergiesAndYourCut.com. See:  http://allergiesandyourgut.com/the-gut-microbiome-our-second-genome/

Kaplan, D. (2014). FDA says studies on triclosan, used in sanitizers and soaps, raise concerns. See:  http://www.healthfreedoms.org/fda-says-studies-on-triclosan-used-in-sanitizers-and-soaps-raise-concerns/

Layton, L. (2010). FDA says studies on triclosan, used in sanitizers and soaps, raise concerns. The Washington Post. See:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/07/AR2010040704621.html

Mercola, R. (2014). Best-Selling Toothpaste Contains Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/27/triclosan-toothpaste.aspx?e_cid=20140827Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20140827Z1&et_cid=DM54542&et_rid=636597549

NPR. (2013). The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome. Video (5:28). See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DTrENdWvvM

Pollan, M. (2013). Some of My Best Friends Are Germs. New York Times Magazine, May 15 2013.  See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?_r=0

Wikipedia. (8/24/2014). Triclosan.  See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triclosan

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Live Dirty, Eat Clean … The Gut Microbiome Is the Future of Medicine

 

 

eat-food-michael-pollan-quote-715

 

Integrative gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan has further refined  Michael Pollan’s wise ground rules, contributing:

 

 

Robynne Chutkan, MD, Integrative Gastroenterologist
– Robynne Chutkan, MD, Integrative Gastroenterologist

 

 I’m sure you get the ‘Eat Clean’ part.
The ‘Live Dirty’ part refers to the Hygiene Hypothesis: A lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic micro-organisms such as gut flora probiotics, and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic and other autoimmune diseases by suppressing the natural development of the immune system. The lack of exposure leads to defects in the establishment of immune tolerance. The Hygiene Hypothesis is also sometimes called the Biome Depletion Theory or the Lost Friends Theory.

 

 

images-2

 

I highly recommend watching Dr Chutkan’s charming discussion of the merits of eating wisely while also exposing ourselves to a wide variety of microbes to keep our immune systems strong. The microbiome is the vast collection of microbes that live in and on our bodies. As she points out, the microbiome is going to be the future of medicine.
Here’s her easy to understand and often funny talk: Live Dirty, Eat Clean! Why The Microbiome Is The Future Of Medicine (18:07 minutes)

 

 

Robyyne Chutkan, MD
Robyyne Chutkan, MD

 

Robynne Chutkan, MD, FASGE, is a Board Certified Integrative Gastroenterologist, an Assistant Professor at the Georgetown University Hospital, and Founder and Director of The Digestive Center for Women in Washington, DC. She is also the author of Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage.

 

Michael Pollan put it well in his article Some of My Best Friends Are Germs (Pollan, 2013):

As a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota.

 

 

 

hippocrates

 

Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived c. 460-377 BC and is considered to be the Father of Medicine, understood the vital relationship between our guts and our health. Then this knowledge was lost as medicine moved into the modern era.

 

 

REFERENCES

Chutkan, R. (2014).  Live Dirty, Eat Clean! Why the Microbiome Is the Future of Medicine. MindBodyClean.com Video. See:  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14368/live-dirty-eat-clean-why-the-microbiome-is-the-future-of-medicine-dr-robynne.html

Chutkan, R. (2014). Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage. See:  http://www.amazon.com/Gutbliss-10-Day-Toxins-Digestive-Baggage/dp/1583335226/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407363655&sr=1-1&keywords=gut+bliss

Polan, M. (2013). Some of My Best Friends Are Germs. New York Times Magazine, May 15 2013. See:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

 

Living Bacterial Skin Tonic – Instead of Soap?!

Last update 8/22/2015.

AOBiome linked to this post on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AOBiome

 

images-3

 

Information on a new product called AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist caught my eye recently. (Scott, 2014)
It’s a liquid developed by a biotech start up company in Cambridge MA to spray on our bodies in lieu of – or as an adjunct to – taking showers. Showering with most soaps and shampoos kills all the healthy elements of our skin microbiome. The company, AOBiome, says its new living bacterial skin tonic, made of safe live-cultured Nitrosomonas bacteria, replenishes the biome of microscopic organisms that live on our skin.
This does indeed sound novel, interesting – and important!

 

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I started this site to write about how the micro-organisms living in our guts – the gut microbiome – affect the entire body and how to restore your gut – and the rest of you – to good health. See The Gut Microbiome – Our Second Genome.  Reading about AOBiome’s brilliant work on restoring our skin’s microbiome, produced a moment of clarity in me – one of those true light bulb moment: It’s not just our gut’s we’re destroying but our other microbiomes as well.

 

 

FDA__antibacterial_soaps_are_ineffective_1946250000_4753974_ver1.0_640_480

 

Our usual approach to the bacteria and other micro-organisms living on our skins – and everywhere else we can get to them – is to KILL THEM DEAD. We regard bacteria and their relatives as dangerous and just plain nasty. So this is an entirely new approach – a U turn in how to think about bacteria: The new spray contains billions of cultivated Nitrosomonas eutropha, an ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) most commonly found in dirt and untreated water in rivers, lakes, and the sea.  (Martinko, 2014)

 

 

 

 

VARIOUS PARTS OF THE HUMAN MICROBIOME

 

 

Skin Microbiome
Artist’s Rendition of the Skin Microbiome – Our Second Genome. (Credit: genome.duke.edu)

 

 

The aggregates of micro-organisms living inside and on our bodies, collectively referred to as the human microbiome or microbiota, make their homes in many places:
  • In our GI tracts
  • On the surface of and in deep layers of our skin
  • On our hair
  • In the saliva and mucosa in our mouths
  • In our noses and sinuses
  • In our urogenital tracts
  • In the conjunctiva (the lining inside the eyelids and covering the white part of the eye)

 

 

Some of the Microbiomes of the Human Body. (Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute
Some of the Microbiomes of the Human Body. (Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute

 

 

 

 

OUR SECOND GENOME – THE HUMAN MICROBIOME

Sources: (AOBiome, 2014), (Wikipedia, 2014), and (Baylor College of Medicine, 2013-2014)
  • There are 100’s of trillions of micro-organisms in the various microbiomes in and on our bodies, our Second Genome.
  • The number of non-human micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea and single-celled leukaryotes) inhabiting a healthy human adult is estimated to outnumber human cells by a ratio of 10 to 1.
  • The human microbiome contains about 3,000,000 non-human bacterial cells to our 23,000 human cells. (See correction below)
  • The total number of genes in our microbiome exceeds the number of genes in our human genome by a factor of at least 200.
  • So, even though the microbial cells making their home in and on us are only 1/10th to 1/100th the size of our human cells, they account for up to 5 pounds of an adult’s body weight.
  • To date, only a small percentage of the bacteria comprising our human microbiome have been identified.
Correction (8/22/2015): A reader named Stephen sent the following comment:

I just need to point out that you have one fact slightly, but importantly, inaccurate. You cite that:

The human microbiome contains about 3,000,000 non-human bacterial cells to our 23,000 human cells.

When in fact, you should replace the two occurrences of the word “cells” with the word “genes”. This fact is often misunderstood. What it means is that the human genome has about 23k unique genes, whereas the bacteria that inhabit us have about 3x10E6 unique genes, not that there are 3 million genes among them. The point is that the bacteria on our bodies possess incredible functional diversity and can do many things for our bodies that we cannot do ourselves.

 

 

(Source: welladjustedbabies.com)
(Source: welladjustedbabies.com)

 

And these miniscule critters aren’t invaders trying to harm us. The vast majority of them are necessary and beneficial to us – as we are to them.
Yet for a century, we’ve been unintentionally, but systematically, distorting and destroying the healthy workings of our various microbiomes with processed foods, pharmaceuticals – especially antibiotics, cleaning products, cosmetics, pesticides and herbicides, genetically modified foods and more, resulting in the degradation of our immune systems and huge increases in diseases and chronic medical conditions.
At the same time, and with many of the same products, we’ve also been degrading  healthy microbiomes in the soil and our water supplies – making not only humans ill but also wreaking havoc on the other fauna and flora on our planet.

 

 

 

Human Microbiome Map
Human Microbiome Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE HUMAN SKIN MICROBIOME

 

The Zoo on Our Skin (Source: discovermagazine.com)
The Zoo on Our Skin
(Source: discovermagazine.com)

 

From the  AOBiome website (AOBiome, 2014):

Human skin, a large and heterogenous organ, harbors a fascinating array of species of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. The specific makeup of the skin flora depends on many factors, such as whether the particular skin area is dry, moist, or sebaceous, the age of the host, external conditions, etc. Dry forearms and hairy, moist underarms are very distinct habitats, despite their relative proximity. People living together also seem to share a larger portion of their microbimes than those are not cohabitating, and pet owners share some with their animal companions.

Here are some of the most common microorganisms that reside on our skin:

Propionibacteria are the most prevalent on sebaceous, or oily skin, such as nostrils, scalp, upper chest and back. They are lipophilic anaerobes, decomposing oily sebum secreted by our glands, producing propionic acid. Although they are present in infants and babies, they become more dominant around the onset of puberty, as the sebaceous glands increase their output. One of the bacterial strains, Propionibacterium acnes, is thought to be responsible for inflammation of the glands that can lead to acne.

Staphylococci have their name derived from Greek word for grape, as their colonies resemble grape clusters. They reside predominantly in the moist areas of the body, such as the armpit, the elbow crease, etc. As aerobic bacteria, they produce lactic acid that lowers the pH of the skin and controls growth of other microorganisms. They are particularly prevalent on the skin of babies and infants, their relative abundance decreasing with age. While normally harmless, certain species of staphylococci, such as S. aureus, can act as human pathogens. Methicilin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections are a difficult public health problem in hospitals and beyond.

Corynebacteria are rod-shaped, and mostly innocuous. They also prefer moist environments, such as the navel, or back of the knee. They grow slowly, even when the food is abundant.

Betaproteobacteria are a diverse group, which includes Nitrosomonas, currently excluded from human skin. They are the most prevalent group in the dry areas, such as the forearms. Also, these are the bacteria that the dog owners have the most in common with their dogs

Malassezia – as fungi, Malassezia get a honorable mention. They are found on our skin in large quantities, and are typically harmless, but certain species can cause dandruff or skin discoloration.

 

 

Skin Microbiome (Source: skinmicrobiome.wordpress.com
Skin Microbiome
(Source: skinmicrobiome.wordpress.com)

 

 

 

 

NITROSOMONAS BACTERIA IN DIRT

Horse Rolling in Dirt
Horse Rolling in Dirt
Ever wonder why horses love to roll around in dirt? We know horses, like humans, sweat a lot. We also know how unpleasant our skin can feel – and smell – after we’ve worked up a sweat. David Whitlock, the M.I.T.- trained chemical engineer who invented AO+, theorized that horses dirt bathe to manage their sweat. He reasoned, “The only way that horses could evolve this behavior was if they had substantial evolutionary benefits from it.”
The goal of using AO+ spray is to encourage the growth of a healthy colony of probiotic bacteria on the skin. This probiotic bacterial colony will then act as a built-in cleanser, deodorant, anti-inflammatory and immune booster by feeding on the ammonia in our sweat, converting it into nitrite and nitric oxide.
Scientists at AOBiome hypothesize that humans also had healthy, mutually beneficial, colonies of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), such as Nitrosomonas eutropha, living on our skins. These AOBs regulated our nitrogen metabolism. Then in the 20th century, we began regarding all bacteria as dangerous and started trying to scrub them all away. (AOBiome, 2014)

 

 

 

images-1

 

 

 

THE HYGIENE HYPOTHESIS

The Hygiene Hypothesis – also called the Biome Depletion Theory or the Lost Friends Theory – states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (eg, probiotic gut flora – referred to as Our Old Friends), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing the natural development of the immune system. In particular, the lack of exposure is thought to lead to defects in the establishment of immune tolerance. (Wikipedia, 2014).
The Hygiene Hypothesis is consistent with the destruction of the ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) on our skins. Many ingredients in most of our personal care products have been found in laboratory tests to inhibit or have been found  toxic to AOB: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium coco-sulfate, castile-type soaps, and amine oxides (such as lauryl dimethyl amine oxide). AOBiome’s laboratory is still in the process of testing the AOB toxicity of other ingredients commonly found in soaps, shampoos, skin creams, and deodorants.
The encouraging news is that AOBiome has found ingredients that ARE compatible with ammonia oxidizing bacteria. Their goal is to test, certify and develop a variety of hygiene products with these ingredients – including soaps and shampoos. (AOBiome on facebook, 2013-2014)

 

 

 

WHY IT’S GOOD TO HAVE COLONIES OF THESE BACTERIA ON OUR SKINS

Here’s an explanation of why restoring healthy colonies of this bacteria on our skins is important – from the AOBiome website (AOBiome, 2014):

Modern hygiene has selectively depleted the natural balance of the skin microbiome particularly affecting AOB. By restoring the appropriate AOB levels, we believe a range of human health conditions could be impacted. AOBiome is interested in exploring potential physiologic effects including:

Improving skin architecture
Improving skin architecture

 

Preventing infection
Preventing infection

 

Improving vascularization
Improving vascularization

 

 

Before the advent of anionic surfactants, Nitrosomonas would have colonized our skin, our sweat glands in particular, constantly secreting low amounts of NO. Due to their particular sensitivity to detergents, however, they have been eradicated from our skin microbiome. As a consequence, we are dermatologically and systemically NO-deprived – in a mildly pro-inflammatory state, with a number of our systemic NO-mediated regulatory mechanisms out of balance. This deprivation may contribute to a number of skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, potentially also neuropathies, and more. AOBiome aims to re-introduce Nitrosomonas to our skin’s bacterial flora, restoring natural NO levels, stabilizing the NO-dependent signaling pathways and alleviating symptoms resulting from NO imbalance.

Nitrosomonas are naturally occurring in most aquatic and soil environments and seem to totally lack pathogenic potential, as indicated by the absence of pathogenicity factors and also evidenced by the complete lack of human infections reported to date. Since Nitrosomonas depend on ammonia and urea for their growth, their numbers on the skin are necessarily limited, and are naturally regulated by the amount of sweat the body produces. This ensures that the amount of NO produced would be relatively low, without any adverse effects. Because of its reactivity, the Nitrosomonas-produced NO will exert most of its effects locally, in the skin of the host. If desirable, however, one could eliminate the bacteria using a simple soap treatment.

AOBiome’s scientists have also found that using concentrated AO+ led to a hundredfold decrease of Propionibacterium acnes, bacteria associated with acne breakouts. And they have found that a two week treatment with a formulation of AOB heals skin ulcers on diabetic mice.  (Scott, 2014)

 

 

 

 

ARE WE GOING TO GIVE UP SHOWERING?

AOBiome says NO. The probiotic bacteria in AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist thrive in water so you can use it and also continue showering – just not lathering yourself up with soap or shampoo that will kill those useful bacteria. The ammonia oxidizing bacteria in AO+ can survive limited exposure to the chlorine and chloramine added to municipal water supplies to purify them. From the company’s facebook page (AOBiome, 2013-2014):
Our research shows that daily application along with normal showering in regular tap water produces a sustained level of AOB on skin. In our initial cosmetic study we showed that AOB are detectable and present in 95% of cases with daily showering and application and that AOB continue to survive in 60% of subjects for up to 7 days without additional applications as long as shampoo is not used. This is the basis for our recommendation that you apply AO+™ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist daily as part of your usual personal hygiene routine.
A note for those of you who’ve read the New York Times Magazine article, “My No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment” (Scott, 2014), and came away from it thinking the choice will be between using the ammonia oxidizing bacterial spray or showering:
The article’s author was using the spray and not showering for 28 days as part of a clinical trial for AOBiome. When she started showering again but not also using the spray, the colony of ammonia oxidizing bacteria on her skin was quickly destroyed by showering with soap.
When the  Company has succeeded in bringing to market an AOB-friendly shampoo and AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist is also readily available, we should be able to both shower and wash our hair with these products while maintaining a healthy colony of AOB. And when an AOB-friendly skin cream has been developed and approved for marketing to the public, we’ll also be able to nurture our AOB colonies by using it.

 

 showering

 

 

 

 

 

SAVING OUR SKINS – FIGURATIVELY AND LITERALLY

 

Credit: New York Times.com
Credit: New York Times.com

 

As Michael Pollan wrote in an excellent article last year titled Some of My Best Friends Are Germs (Pollan, 2013):

As a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota.

Now this brilliant biotech company, AOBiome, is working on a big piece of the solution to our ills. If you want to be wowed by the work they’re doing, take a look at their website.

 

 

(Credit: New York Times.com)
Credit: New York Times.com

 

 

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Us - just 10% human
ALL OF US ARE ONLY 10% HUMAN

 

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REFERENCES

AOBiome. (2014). Pioneering bacterial therapy for the skin. See: https://www.aobiome.com/company

AOBiome. (2013-2014). facebook.  See:  https://www.facebook.com/AOBiome

Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology. (2013-2014). The Human Microbiome Project.  See:  https://www.bcm.edu/departments/molecular-virology-and-microbiology/microbiome

Hardin, J.R. The Gut Microbiome – Our Second Genome. AllergiesAndYourGut.com.  See:  http://allergiesandyourgut.com/the-gut-microbiome-our-second-genome/

Martinko, K. (2014). Could bacteria be the new beauty trend that actually makes us healthier?  See:  http://www.treehugger.com/health/could-bacteria-be-new-beauty-trend-actually-makes-us-healthier.html

Polan, M. (2013). Some of My Best Friends Are Germs. New York Times Magazine, May 15 2013. See:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Scott, J. (May 22 2014). My No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment.  The New York Times Magazine. See:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/magazine/my-no-soap-no-shampoo-bacteria-rich-hygiene-experiment.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults&mabReward=relbias:r,%5B%22RI:6%22,%22RI:12%22%5D&url=http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/?action=click&region=Masthead&pgtype=Homepage&module=SearchSubmit&contentCollection=Homepage&t=qry545&_r=1

Wikipedia. (June 2 2014). Hygiene Hypothesis. See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene_hypothesis

Wikipedia. (June 3 2014). Human Microbiome.  See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_microbiome

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.