Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh so THAT'S why Colgate Total Toothpaste causes my tongue to go numb!

A few months ago I bought a tube of Colgate Total Toothpaste at my local Target. It made my teeth look shiny but it also caused my tongue to go numb.  Not a good side effect for a toothpaste.  So I called Colgate and told them about the problem.  The customer service rep read a script that said, "We're sorry that you had that experience. It is not a problem that we expect.  But there are many ingredients in toothpaste and everyone reacts differently.  We'll send you a coupon for a free tube of toothpaste."  So I got a coupon worth $1.81 and felt pleased with myself for taking some sort of action.  And just as the lawyers (who drew up the script read by the customer service agent) hoped, that seemed like the end of the story. 

But today, buried deep within the LA Times health section was an article titled, "FDA is reviewing the use of antibacterial products containing triclosan."  It turns out that triclosan is an antibacterial chemical that is used in hand soaps and yes, Colgate Total Toothpaste.  Turns out triclosan is also an endocrine disruptor that interferes with "thyroid hormones, thereby impairing growth and brain development." It also interferes with the reproductive hormones estrogen and testosterone, leading to infertility. Money quotes from the article:

"There's no question that exposure to triclosan is widespread in the U.S. A national health survey found triclosan in the urine of 75% of the 2,517 people who gave samples. The chemical can enter the body via absorption through the skin or the lining of the mouth.

Mae Wu, a program attorney at the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group in Washington, D.C., says that even people who deliberately try to avoid antimicrobial products still end up getting exposed because the soaps are in public restrooms, offices and restaurants.

What triclosan does once it enters the body is not clear. Research in animals has found hormonal effects of triclosan, including upsetting the normal balance of thyroid hormones, thereby impairing growth and brain development, and of the reproductive hormones estrogen and testosterone, leading to infertility. These effects are similar to other so-called endocrine disruptors, such as bisphenol A, dioxins and pesticides such as DDT. The FDA says it intends to evaluate this new research."
-- LA Times, April 19, 2010

I thought it was a little creepy that they claimed that their toothpaste continued working for 12 hours!  But seriously, to put a fucking endocrine disruptor in my toothpaste!!!  WTF!? 

A few years ago I took a homeopathic treatment for a chronic ailment and it worked better than any prescription medicine I had tried.  Interestingly, the homeopath said that in order for this treatment to work I could never ever drink coffee, smoke, or use mint.  "It turns the remedy off," she said.  I don't think for a moment that the magic sugar pills actually produced the helpful result.  Rather, by religiously observing the rules about avoiding coffee I was finally able to sleep again and I believe that helped my body to repair itself. I imagine those who cut out smoking (not a problem for me since I already didn't smoke) also saw similar benefits from the subtraction of the toxic particle pollution rather than the addition of the sugar pills. But I could never figure out why mint was also prohibited.  The only real consequence of that prohibition was that I  changed toothpaste -- from Colgate to Tom's of Maine (Anise flavor).  But it now it makes sense -- by banning mint, homeopaths also get people to stop using traditional toothpaste -- and it turns out that traditional toothpastes are loaded with all sorts of nasty chemicals like saccharine, titanium dioxide, and triclosan.  And because the gums are a mucous membrane, brushing your teeth with traditional toothpaste then allows these chemicals to enter your bloodstream.

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