As the depleted stock of hand sanitizers has shown us, sanitization is at the top of everyone’s minds during this pandemic. But is it possible that we’re sanitizing too much? Can over-sanitization actually be harmful to our health? The answers may surprise you. In this third episode in a series with Ancient Nutrition founder Dr. Josh Axe, he and the Amens discuss what may be happening to some of your vital organs if you are obsessively using sanitizer, or even using the wrong kinds of sanitizer.
For more info on Dr. Axe’s new book, “Ancient Remedies”, visit https://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Remedies-Essential-Powerful-Medicine/dp/0316496456
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Welcome back, we are here with Dr. Josh Axe and his new book, Ancient Remedies. I’m really enjoying this talk. Of course, I love anything food-related, and how food is medicine. So thank you so much. We were talking about mushrooms in the last episode, we’re going to talk about sanitization and over sanitizing.
I have to just say, because you threw me under the bus at the end of the last episode, I am a nurse and so I do believe in, obviously, cleaning surfaces. But, as a nurse, I’ve also always thought that we over sanitized. And then comes along COVID, right? So I’ve always been one of those people who was like, “Okay, kid, go play in the dirt.” My daughter sucked her thumb and so there were plenty of terms around. I was not one of those parents who believed in over sanitizing things.
But now we’re in the age of COVID, and all of a sudden Daniel comes home one day and I had stripped all the surfaces off our floors because I bleached everything, because we’re in a different age now, and so now people are fearful. So let’s talk about sanitizing, what it does, what over sanitizing does, and how do we balance it in this time of COVID?
Dr. Josh Axe:
Yeah. So I think balance is really important, but I also think it’s about what you’re using and what you’re eating. I’m going to give you an example of this when it comes to medications versus supplements today. When you look at what a lot of people choose to do when it comes to their health, is they will choose something like an antidepressant drug, right? So that’s what a lot of doctors will prescribe and it doesn’t work, necessarily, with your body by design.
I mean, it’s something foreign, it’s a chemical made up, versus if you’re using something like, the brilliant Dr. Amen here might recommend is something like ginkgo biloba, lion’s mane mushroom, omega-3 fatty acids, eating walnuts and more coconut and getting all the healthy… That, your body can recognize and it can work with and it’s going to help address more of the root cause of what the problem that’s going on.
The same thing here is I want to use that analogy of you can either choose a chemical drug or you can use these things in nature that work more easily, and they’re more gentle on your body. So, using something like essential oils, using other things like vinegar or very hot water, those things also have really powerful sanitization properties that I think are effective enough when we’re talking about fighting off different types of… and we’re talking about airborne viruses, that sort of thing as well. So really, if anything, diffusing essential oils in the air, I think is going to be beneficial.
There’s a few oils in particular, tea tree oil has very, very strong antimicrobial properties, but it’s been shown to be more effective against some of the things that we want to get rid of like acne. I mean, that’s a bacteria in yeast that you can actually start getting on your skin and it’s very, very effective at treating that. But it’s been shown to be effective against staph and other forms of viruses and bacteria in that way. So tea tree oil is a great one. Clove oil contains a compound-
I just had this thought, and tell me if I’m crazy or not. So your skin has a microbiome as well. There are trillions of bugs on your skin, and just washing them off on a regular basis is not necessarily a good thing for the health of the microbiome. We have two, soon to be three, teenagers in the house and so acne’s often a big deal.
I wonder if that’s when the microbiome on their skin, because of their hormones and their diets might not be good as we could control when they were seven. I wonder if the microbiome becomes a contributor to skin health and how you break out and so on.
And so they often will go to the dermatologist and get an antibiotic like Cleocin, a roll-on antibiotic. That’s doing the same thing to the microbiome that taking oral antibiotics does to your gut, which can cause an overgrowth [inaudible [00:05:11] and so on. Thoughts about that?
That’s a perfect example, and you’re absolutely right. I mean, today people are calling it your… I mean, your gut is directly connected really closely to a few organ systems, your immune system probably the most closely, and then your brain and then your skin. Those are probably the three big ones, and so yeah, there is a deep connection between your gut and your skin.
But also, yeah, using an internal antibiotic or an external antibiotic, those are both going to not only kill off the bad, but good, right? Good bacteria also keeps that bad bacteria in check. And when you’re using something like a essential oil like tea tree, it’s not going to kill off as much as the good, it’s going to really do more of the bad versus something that kills off everything.
That’s what happens today when people are taking a lot of these conventional medications or using things that have triclosan, which is a sanitization compound found an antibacterial hand soap and a lot of these hand gels and those sorts of things that we’re using today, but it’s been linked to liver and kidney disease there that we’re using. So here’s the thing to just remember is that there is a side effect. Over sanitization, the side effect is damaging your skin and damaging… the big thing though, is your gut microbiome and your liver, those are probably the two organ systems that are the most harmed.
So here’s the thing, I encourage people proper sensitization, but use essential oils or other things that are natural using natural ingredients. The bleach and the compounds that are high in triclosan, those are going to kill the bad, but remember you’re killing all of the good as well. And there’s studies that show if you’ve taken a single round of a prescription antibiotic internally, it increases your risk of cancer and heart disease dramatically, I’m talking about by more than double.
I’m not trying to scare… I hope that didn’t sound like I’m trying to do that there. My whole point there is, is that your gut’s a big deal. Those good guys, those probiotics in your gut, they’re a big deal and you want to do everything you can to help them flourish, and doing things more general, like essential oils, it’ll help.
Well I think that goes with your story of chronic stress when you were a child.
Well, and that’s why I wanted to talk about that-
… in the last episode we talked about stress.
Right. But it was also bad food, multiple rounds of antibiotics-
Oh, I was a frequent-flyer.
… and then developing thyroid cancer when you’re 23.
Right? So all of that matters. Okay, so we’re in the age of COVID, what sanitizers would you recommend? Because I think it’s important to be thoughtful, to wash your hands and not touch things because we don’t want to pass on this virus that hurts people. So we want to be thoughtful, but at the same time we don’t want to damage our own immune system in the process.
So I like one thing you said really quick, if I can just go back so it doesn’t get bypassed. So when it first came out, of course I went crazy because we didn’t know what we were dealing with, and I’m like, “I’m bleaching everything,” which I did. But then I calmed down and we started to understand a little more. One thing that I like, I have a steam mop, so you said heat. I like heat. So heat damages the bacteria, and so I have this little steam thing that cleans the floors.
The virus, not the bacteria.
Sorry, the virus. I have this little steam machine that cleans the floors and it gets very, very hot.
And yeah, I think that that’s actually a really good way, and I use a vinegar compound in it, and that cleans the floors really well. And I like what you said also about essential oils.
Yeah, I think there are four things… In fact, I have a recipe in the new book, Ancient Remedies. I have food recipes in there, I also have DIY recipes, like how to make your own toothpaste, I have recipes for a natural hand sanitizer. And the oils that are most beneficial for this, I mentioned tea tree oil, thyme oil actually is probably maybe the best out there. So thyme essential oil is very good, cinnamon clove, and there’s one other I was going to mention… actually lemongrass is another one.
So those five oils in particular, but even lavender actually has a lot of antimicrobial properties. In fact, I know my wife’s a yoga instructor, that’s what they’ll… they actually have a essential oil spray that they spray their mats with, so I think those are really good options.
So, Ancient Remedies, you can buy it now. It comes out February 2nd. We’re very excited about Dr. Axe’s new book. Stay with us. When we come back, we’re going to talk about stress, or I’ll be in trouble [inaudible [00:10:08] and then I will be stressed. Stay with us.
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