The job of looking after your health today is quite a challenge. Even I don’t always get it right.
I used to use a popular, major brand of toothpaste. It advertises “12-hour germ-fighting protection.” Until, that is, I discovered triclosan was in it.
You may remember triclosan. It was in the hand sanitizer that even my staff was using at the office until I called them out on it and had them replace it with a natural alternative.
Now, I’m just as concerned as you about having healthy teeth and gums. But there’s no way I want triclosan to be part of the solution. It’s a pesticide.
There’s no benefit to putting an antibacterial in toothpaste. And it may even be harmful. Because it allows bacteria to grow stronger and more resistant to medication. So, the next time you get an infection, your body might not be able to fight it.(1)
As bad as triclosan is in a hand sanitizer, it’s even worse when you put it in toothpaste. Because triclosan is easy to absorb in your mouth. And researchers have identified it in deep tissues within 3 hours.(2) Once it gets there, it disrupts your thyroid gland. It can also make testosterone drop by over 30 percent.(3,4) Even worse, I’ve seen scientific studies that concluded that tricolosan increased cancer risk.(5)
In Europe, triclosan is banned in food. But here in the U.S., the FDA is still sitting on the fence. They recently posted a report they called “Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know.” But rather than making a clear recommendation, they said they were “reviewing all of the available evidence.”(6)
So, in the mean time, what should you do?
I’ll tell you what I do. I just don’t use toothpaste any more.
Instead, I brush my teeth like the native people I’ve been lucky enough to live with in my travels.
I use salt. It’s been around since biblical times and even before. It’s all you need to freshen your breath, whiten your teeth, toughen your gums, cure gingivitis, and protect your enamel.
I think you should give it a try. It’s completely safe. It’s inexpensive. And it’s available in every grocery store.
Here are a few tips on how to brush using salt:
1. Use sea salt if possible. Sea salt is naturally occurring and it isn’t processed. Table salt can have residual chemicals from the bleaching and refining process.
Sea salt has minerals in it like potassium and magnesium. You can also buy sea salt that’s iodized. We’re not getting iodine from our diet any more, and this is an easy way to increase your daily level.
There are many kinds of sea salt: Mediterranean, Himalayan, Pacific, and many more. They all have slightly different tastes. You can choose whichever you like best.
2. You can use table salt if you don’t have access to sea salt. But you don’t want it too fine. You need the abrasive action you get from coarser salt. On the other hand, don’t use salt so coarse it hurts your gums.
3. For extra breath freshening, chew on mint or spearmint. It’s easy to grow, or most grocery stores carry it. Chew on a leaf or two after brushing. Mint also has many health benefits; among them curing headaches and improving digestion.(7)
4. For extra whitening, once a week, mash a strawberry into a pulp and make a paste with the sea salt. Strawberries contain malic acid, which will increase the whitening effect of the sea salt.
1. “Use of Antimicrobials in Consumer Products. Report 3 of the Council on Scientific Affairs (A-00).” American Medical Association. 2000.
2. Sandborgh-Englund, G. Adolfsson-Erici, M. et al. “Pharmacokinetics of Triclosan Following Oral Ingestion in Humans.” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A. 2006, Dec; 69(20):1861-1873.
4. Kumar V, Chakraborty A, Kural MJ, Roya P. 2009. “Alteration of testicular steroidogenesis and histopathology of reproductive system in male rats treated with triclosan.” Reproductive Toxicology 27:177-185.
5. Gee RH, Charles A, Taylor N, Darbre PD. “Oestrogenic and androgenic activity of triclosan in breast cancer cells.” J Appl Toxicol 2008; 28:78-91.
6. “Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know,” http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm205999.htm . Accessed May 2010.
7. Sharathchandra, JNN., Kalpana, Patel,. Srinivasan, K. “Digestive enzymes of rat pancreas and small intestine in response to orally administered mint (Mentha Spicata)leaf and garlic (Allium Sativum) oil.” Indian Journal of Pharmacology. 1995;27(3):156-160.
Dr. Al Sears is fast becoming the nation's leading authority on longevity and heart health. His cutting edge breakthroughs and commanding knowledge of alternative medicine have been transforming the lives of his patients for over 15 years.
Dr. Sears currently owns and operates a successful integrative medicine and anti-aging clinic in Wellington, Florida with over 15,000 patients. Over the course of his career, he has developed his own approach to heart health, longevity and anti-aging medicine - combining the best of modern medical science with natural holistic techniques and treatments.