Not wearing any perfume?


My raw throat is closing, my heart racing, and my head fuzzy from the fumes emanating from my dear friend.  She knows I’m very sensitive to chemicals.

“I stopped wearing perfume a long time ago after I found out that it makes some people sick,” she says.

What do I say?

What I’m thinking is this:

The fragrance in your laundry products is just as toxic as any perfume you would spray on.  In fact it can be even more problematic because there is no way to control the amount of fragrance that ends up on your clothes and it is very difficult to ever get it to wash out.  All of your clothes and linens are now drenched in it, so there is no way for you to decide to be “fragrance free” for a day so you can come visit me without making me ill.  The companies that sell laundry products have been progressively ramping up the amounts of fragrance in their products because they know that it is not how well the product works that sells it, but how it smells.  As a result, the products we have now are far more toxic and irritating than they were in the past.  But this has gone practically unnoticed by people like you because you have become so accustomed to living in a cloud of chemical fumes that your sense of smell has become dulled.  So you can’t tell that at this very moment your clothes are outgassing enormous amounts of the sick-making fragrance that you think you are not wearing.  And now I’m sick.

What I say is: “Oh well, everything makes me sick now.  Don’t worry about it.”

Because I love my friend.

But the truth is that my friend is putting herself at risk.  Just because she does not have obvious symptoms as soon as she smells laundry detergent or other chemicals does not mean they are not affecting her.  She has chronic health problems that could very well be related to the toxic personal care and cleaning products that she uses, but she will never be able to discern that this is the case unless she purges her home of all toxic chemicals so that she knows how it feels to breathe clean air.

So how loving is it of me to avoid telling the truth?  I avoid it to keep the peace.  But meanwhile my friends suffer and I suffer.  So here it is.  The truth:

Laundry detergent and fabric softener is not harmless.  Neither is anything else that has chemical fragrance added to it.  You may not have sprayed perfume on this morning, but that lotion on your hands is pungent.  And your hairspray even more so.  Your fabric softener-impregnated clothes compete with your lotion and your hairspray to create a toxic soup that makes me choke.   And it’s terrible for you too.  Now you know.

Next comes the inevitable question: then what can I use?   Everything has fragrance.  Well no, not everything.  Most things.  Yes, it’s hard at first to switch to a more natural and non-toxic lifestyle, but it can be done.  And once you’ve got your routine down, it becomes second nature.  Following are some links to guides on how to choose healthier products:

Environmental Working Group’s consumer guides:  consumer guides

Debra Lynn Dadd’s list:  Debra’s list

Wellness Mama’s tips and recipes for a non-toxic home:  Wellness Mama




You are what you breathe!

Is the epidemic of obesity solely a result of poor food choices? People have had access to unhealthy foods like sugar and white flour for a long time, and the bad effects of these refined foods should not be minimized. But it has only been recently that we have had such huge increases in toxic chemical exposures in our food, water, and air. And this corresponds to the huge spike in cases of obesity.

John Molot

Weight gain/weight loss.

Summer in the city, lunchtime on a weekday. I walked through a park on my way to a meeting on a main street. It was a lovely day; clear blue sky and warm sunshine. The park benches were all occupied with people eating their lunch. I don’t usually peer into the lunches of strangers but I had been mulling over the obesity epidemic as a blog post topic – call it my research. 

I stopped and took a panoramic view of what people were eating. Here’s what I saw – a guy, eating out of a cardboard box – bright orange noodles with some thin slices of vegetables; two girls with plastic black boxes – penne with tomato sauce; subs and sandwiches, more black containers, cans of pop and iced tea.  I didn’t notice any obvious bags from home, and there were far more sweetened beverages and…

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Linking MCS and Autism

Whenever I hear that a friend is having a new baby, I’m happy for them. But I also cringe, knowing that the baby will probably be exposed to large amounts of toxicants in things like new paint and carpet in the nursery, scented laundry and personal care products, and cleaning chemicals. Here are some good, practical suggestions on how to reduce your baby’s chemical exposures and prevent illness.

John Molot


Young women need to listen to the canaries

I’m in my 60s now, ten years into my second marriage, and my wife and I have six children between us. We are at a stage in life when our children are having babies and our friends and relatives of the same age are also becoming grandparents.  When we hear the exciting news – that we’re expecting a new grandchild – the combined feeling of joy and excitement is hard to describe, which helps to suppress the unspeakable worry; that the baby might be born with less than good health. And we have good reason for concern, because developmental disorders now affect one in six children.

Conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affect almost 2% of children, which is 8 times higher than in the 90’s. Look at the following graph. What’s going on?


Some people blame the increase in ASD…

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Can We?


It is a horrible fact that we can read in the daily paper, without interrupting our breakfast, numerical reckonings of death and destruction that ought to break our hearts or scare us out of our wits.  This brings us to an entirely practical question: Can we–and if we can, how can we–make actual in our minds the sometimes urgent things we say we know?  This obviously can not be accomplished by a technological breakthrough, nor can it be accomplished by a big thought.  Perhaps it cannot be accomplished at all. – Wendell Berry, The Jefferson Lecture

So can we?  Who really can wrap their heads around the collective and massive agony of a planet gone mad?  And even if we could, would we be capable of the herculean effort that it would require to correct the situation?  Do we even know how?  And even if we did, how many people would care enough?

And is it even up to us?  The Bible says that it isn’t:

I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step. – Jeremiah 10:23

So what does God really expect of us?  Do we just stand by and watch as the world goes up in smoke?

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”+37  He said to him: “‘You must love Jehovah* your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul* and with your whole mind.’+ 38  This is the greatest and first commandment. 39  The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’+ 40  On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”+ – Matthew 22: 36-40

So, although God promises to step in and handle the things that we cannot fix on our own, he has always expected people to show love.  Most of what destroys and hurts people and other living beings is behavior that is the opposite of love.  We can, as Gandhi so famously said, “be the change” we wish to see in the world as we wait patiently for God’s intervention.

Why are we unable to stop the destruction?

Will Man Ruin the Earth Beyond Repair?

Simplicity of Wellness

Johann Hari’s Take on Addiction – It’s Not What you May Think

I want to make clear that, although the issue of drug abuse is  highly politicized, I do not mean to take a stance on the drug war by posting this article.  What interests me about it is Mr. Hari’s very interesting opinion on what actually causes addiction.  There seems to be quite a lot of evidence to suggest that it’s not what most of us have been taught to believe it is.  Yes, addictive substances can be dangerous, without a doubt.  But what makes the difference between the strung out addict who has repeatedly overdosed and the user who doesn’t seem to have been harmed, and even seems to be able to quit at will?  It may be as simple as this: connection.

Although I believe that genetics and nutrition also play a large role, I also believe that Johann Hari makes a very good point.

How I discovered a coffee pot was making my patient sick

Could the answer to why we are ill be as simple as BPA in a coffee pot? For one woman, it apparently was. Toxic exposures are often overlooked as sources of illness.


The evidence for the health benefits of coffee may be growing, but what if your coffee pot were contributing to chronic disease?

A recent patient of mine fit this picture. She was having troublesome symptoms that looked classically perimenopausal, but also suffered from a worsening skin condition that left bumps on her shins. She asked me if there might be a common cause.

I listened carefully for clues—food sensitivities, a low vitamin D level, uterine fibroids, an autoimmune disease. I ordered tests and asked her to begin an elimination diet (avoiding wheat, dairy, soy, citrus, and eggs) and keep a symptom record. I also gave her my environmental handout, which covers a wide range of recommendations like avoiding artificial fragrances and insecticides.

Twelve days later when I called to check in, she exclaimed, “I think I figured it out! It’s the coffee!”

My patient was savvy about environmental chemical exposures; she regularly…

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