You may be risking your life for a good night’s sleep.
There are two different categories of sleeping medications: Over-The-Counter (OTC) and Prescription. I’m going to talk to you about the risks of both, beginning with OTC. OTC sleep aids may seem to be an easy fix, not addictive like prescription versions, and even safe because they are made so readily available. This is not the case, is it ever these days? If you are not sleeping well, or not falling asleep well, there is a deeper issue at hand. Finding a natural, healthy solution to the rooted issue will not only solve your sleeping troubles, but improve your overall wellbeing.
Most people assume that taking an OTC sleep aid won’t cause harm, but the sad truth is that a few doses can cause long-term problems. The main ingredient in many OTC sleeping pills is an antihistamine which results in the drowsy and sedative effect. Many OTC sleep aids also contain acetaminophen (Tylenol type products), especially if they advertise pain relief as well. For more specific information on Tylenol risks read here: https://peaandthepodchiropractic.com/the-truth-about-tylenol-dangers-for-infants-children-and-pregnant-women/
Most Common OTC Sleep Aids:
- Tylenol PM
- Advil PM
- Other store-name brands
OTC Sleeping Pills May Increase Your Risk of Liver Failure and are linked to brain damage.
The number one cause of acute liver failure in the United States is taking too much acetaminophen, which is incredibly easy to do considering just how many over-the-counter and prescription products contain this drug. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/21/FDA-Changes-Tylenol-Warnings-But-Doesnt-Tell-You-How-to-Take-it-Safely.aspx
Overdosing is as easy as taking a dose for a headache, cold or achy back that’s making it difficult for you to sleep, but having already taken one or more acetaminophen-containing products to relieve your pain and other symptoms during the day. Not realizing that compounding doses of acetaminophen can be extremely dangerous, even deadly, is what causes an overdose. This risk is important to be aware of, especially if you take Tylenol PM, Excedrin PM or other acetaminophen-containing sleep aids on a regular basis. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/29/overthecounter-sleep-meds-are-not-effective.aspx
The numbers are alarming, over $100 million or more is being spent on OTC sleep aids, and research shows that children 12 years and older along with adults are downing these medications like candy.
Taking these OTC Sleep Medications, even sporadically, can put you at risk of: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep-aids/art-20047860
- Skin rash
- Appetite increase, weight gain, loss of appetite, or even anorexia.
- Hypo-tension (abnormally low blood pressure).
- Blurred vision.
- Prostate problems.
- Liver toxicity.
- Morning hangover. Waking up groggy and feeling “drugged” is a common side effect.
- Daytime drowsiness and fatigue. OTC medications tend to last longer than 8 hours, leaving you unable to function well throughout the next day.
- Dental Decay
Benadryl and Sominex have previously been found to cause hallucinations in the elderly. All of the listed OTC drugs can negatively affect your brain, causing long-term cognitive impairment. These drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine – a nervous system neurotransmitter. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease typically have a marked shortage of acetylcholine. The results of some studies indicate that these drugs with anticholinergic effects may be yet another piece of the puzzle that might explain the sharp rise in dementia and cognitive decline.
Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol, and Elavil are available only by prescription.
“Research involving data from more than 10,500 people who received drugs for poor sleep (hypnotics) showed that “as predicted, patients prescribed any hypnotic had substantially elevated hazards of dying compared to those prescribed no hypnotics” and the association held true even when patients with poor health were taken into account — and even if the patients took fewer than 18 pills in a year.
The study suggested that those who take such medications are not only at higher risk for certain cancers, but are nearly four times more likely to die than people who don’t take them.
Sleeping pills linked to these risks included benzodiazepines (such as temazepam), non-benzodiazepines (such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata), barbiturates, and sedative antihistamines.” http://www.darksideofsleepingpills.com/
Not only are prescription sleep medications linked to increased risk of death, but they place you at a 35% higher risk of cancer.
In addition to the side effects of the OTC versions, prescription sleep aids add the side effects:
- Sleep walking, sleep eating and even sleep driving
- Confusion and disorientation
- Complete amnesia from events, even those that took place during the day
Sleeping Pills Help You Fall Asleep Just 13 Minutes Faster and Sleep Only 11 Minutes Longer
Sleeping pills do nothing to help the underlying reasons why you’re having trouble sleeping in the first place. This is likely why studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can treat insomnia better than drugs
Better Options for a Good Night’s Sleep
Whether you are not able to fall asleep, wake up too often, or don’t feel well rested when you wake up in the morning, these options may provide you with techniques to improve sleep problems.
There are many factors that can influence your sleep, but one that many fail to consider is the use of lights, such as your TV, iPad, and computer, before going to bed. These emit the type of blue light that will suppress melatonin production and hamper your ability to fall asleep. Ideally, you’ll want to turn them off at least an hour prior to bedtime.
Next, making sure your bedroom is ideally suited for sleep can also go a long way to ensure restful and uninterrupted sleep:
- Cover your windows with blackout shades or drapes to ensure complete darkness.
- Consider using a Himalayan salt lamp. It will give off a soft red glow, purify the air, and help you rest easier.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 70 degrees F (21 degrees Celsius)
- Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs).These can disrupt your pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well.
Natural sleep aids and insomnia treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy take time to treat this sleeplessness, usually a minimum of several days or weeks. It takes time and hard work to learn how to sleep if you have insomnia.
Chiropractic care and wellness adjustments will help you to relax. It also improves the blood flow in the nervous system and corrects any misalignments, or sublaxations in the spine. These subluxations compress the nerves and cause lack of communication between the spine and the brain. These subluxations lead to a process called stress response which puts the body out of balance and do not let the body rest.
Avoiding gluten, grains, dairy and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
Omega-3 fats (Like Krill Oil or Fermented Cod Liver Oil) are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins.
B vitamins are important for energy production in cells. And vitamin B6 works with the sleep aid 5-htp to help create serotonin.
Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D3:
Adequate calcium and magnesium in your daily diet are also important nutrients for helping you relax and get a good night’s sleep. But according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements, millions of Americans are not getting adequate amounts. Magnesium in particular may help with fatigue and stress reduction. Multivitamins almost never contain much calcium or magnesium, so you may need to supplement if your diet is lacking in these two essential nutrients. You should also make certain you are getting at least 400 IU of vitamin D3 every day (1,000 IU supplements are even better, especially during the dark winter months). Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption.
Make sure to use high quality supplements.
A melatonin sleep aid can be very effective for some people, especially for jet lag. Melatonin can be taken by itself as a natural sleep aid. It is also often seen as a blend in supplements, which may be the most effective way to use it.
Also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, this substance is produced in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. In supplements, 5-htp often comes from Griffonia simplicifolia seed extract. 5-htp is a precursor to serotonin and increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that has many functions, one of which is to regulate sleep. One of the great things about 5-htp is that it crosses easily from the blood into the brain. That’s why 5-htp taken by itself may be effective for reaching a natural calm mood and also help with depression.
As a natural sleep aid, it’s probably best to use 5-htp as part of a supplement blend.
This brain neurotransmitter is included in some natural sleep aids because it has a calming effect and relieves anxiety that can keep a person awake at night. GABA does promote drowsiness and may help some people fall asleep faster.
This is the most abundant amino acid in your body. It has a wide range of uses, including for insomnia, anxiety, and to improve mood.
This is also an amino acid and is naturally found in green tea. Studies have shown that green tea contains about 1 to 3% theanine. It has a relaxing and anti-anxiety effect on the mind.(Green tea itself is not a natural remedy for insomnia because this tea contains caffeine, but you can find a decaffeinated version.)
Herbal Sleep Remedies:
The best natural sleep aid will have some combination of sleep herbs in them.
- Lemon balm
Not all of these herbs need to be present for an all-natural sleep aid to be effective. Most herbal sleep aids will also often have melatonin mixed in with them, though not always.
Tips for falling asleep fast: http://www.sleeppassport.com/how-to-fall-asleep.html
As you have read so far, the supplements we are consuming are full of fillers and sugars. There are other hidden dangers within these capsules, tablets, liquids, and even powders: DYES.
According to the FDA, in 2007 Americans were consuming five times more artificial food colorings than they were in 1955. That number in no way has decreased in the mast eight years. http://www.organicauthority.com/blog/organic/banned-in-europe-food-coloring-linked-to-behavior-problems/
Artificial colors are being added to our vitamins, supplements, and medicines (as well as our foods, skin products, bath products, etc.) at an alarming rate. Somehow the rate is increasing even though studies are linking these dyes to everything from cancer to hyperactivity in children. The risks can be deadly, and the benefits: a more appealing product to draw consumers in, to make a sale.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of these dyes, even as they are band in other countries across the world due to their significant side effects. Countries throughout Europe have banned against food dyes and insisted on strong labeling with warnings including all health risks to these dyes. But yet, here in the United States we not only promote the use of dyes, but they are included as ingredients within our health-boosting supplementation and medications.
The seven FDA approved food dyes include: http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/
- FD&C Blue No. 1 – Brilliant Blue FCF, E133
- FD&C Blue No. 2 – Indigotine E132
- FD&C Green No. 3 – Fast Green FCF, E143
- FD&C Red No. 40 – Allura Red AC, E129
- FD&C Red No. 3 – Erythrosine, E127
- FD&C Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine, E102
- FD&C Yellow No. 6 – Sunset Yellow FCF, E110
Some of these artificial colors (Yellow Dye 5 & 6) are derived from toxic coal tar. Coal tar is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum. It is recognized as a human carcinogen, with the main concern of using it for individual colors (whether produced from the coal tar or synthetically) is the potential to cause cancer. These colors may also be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and even be combined with aluminum substrate. Aluminum compounds and many heavy metals are toxic to the brain. Coal tar is used for purposes such as: roofing, outdoor sealants, exterior paints, and heating. This should obviously NOT be ingested. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—coal-tar-dyes/
Current research is working towards providing the direct link from synthetic supplements and artificial dyes to autism, sleep disturbances and other chronic problems in children. Previous studies show links to artificial dyes and cancer, hyperactivity, ADHD, allergies, and sterility. http://melisann.hubpages.com/hub/Know-Which-of-Your-Vitamins-and-Medicines-Contain-Toxins
This research is eye opening, even for myself. I have a four year old son with sensory processing disorder, food allergies, food sensitivities, speech delays, and sleep troubles. We were told by wonderful natural-minded pediatric doctors and chiropractors to keep toxins away from him. This meant vaccines, chemicals, processed foods, etc. We learned of a wonderful diet that removed all dyes, fillers, and chemicals from the body to heal the gut. We have had great success on this diet, but hadn’t looked into the hidden details of his supplements (or ours!). While we have been making smart supplement decisions, there were a few with hidden dyes that have since been eliminated. I know that it sounds extreme to most people, but I am telling you from our personal four year journey that what you put into your body makes a world of difference.
Common ailments linked to these dyes include headaches, mood response, hyperactivity, skin rash, and swollen gut, trouble falling asleep, or breathing problems. An actual allergy to dyes may be difficult to diagnose. However, if removing dyes from the diet is linked to absence of symptoms, this may prove dye sensitivity. Allergy testing for dyes is not conclusive, but an IgG antibody test can be part of your investigation. (We had IgG testing done as early as 15 months of age with our son.)
Each dye can be traced to its own set of possible side effects: http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm
Blue Dye No. 1 can cause hyperactivity, skin rashes, bronchoconstriction – especially when combined with other artificial colors- and chromosomal damage. It may also cause issues with the gastrointestinal tract while inhibiting cell respiration and lead to ADHD, asthma, and other allergic reactions. (This dye is banned in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Norway Switzerland, and Sweden.) New studies show that Blue Dye is also absorbed through the skin. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23127598
Blue Dye No. 2 is a synthetic coal tar dye commonly added to pharmaceutical drugs and is also used as a medical diagnostic aid. The dye, which is banned in Norway, has been known to cause nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, skin rashes, breathing problems, brain tumors and other allergic reactions.
Green Dye No. 3 is linked to tumors and gene mutations in test animals.
Red Dye No. 40 is a petroleum byproduct often used in medications and supplements that can cause allergy-like reactions, hyperactivity in children and potential cancer. Asthmatics and those intolerant to aspirin are at increased risk of a reaction to this dye, which is prohibited throughout Europe. http://www.npr.org/2011/03/30/134962888/fda-probes-link-between-food-dyes-kids-behavior
Red Dye No. 3 has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals.
Yellow Dye No. 5 is one of the most dangerous artificial colors. Derived from Coal Tar, the dye is linked to cancer and provokes asthma attacks, skin reactions, and hyperactivity in children. It has been banned in Norway, Austria, and Finland.
Yellow Dye No. 6 is linked to hyperactivity, allergic reactions, nausea, and nasal congestion. It is often used in medications and supplements Yellow Dye #6 is banned in Finland, Norway, and the UK.
Unfortunately, these reactions and their connections to artificial food dyes have largely been dismissed by the FDA. In 2004, an analysis of fifteen studies found evidence that artificial colors worsen the behavior of children with ADHD. Even after studies found that artificial dyes affect the behavior of children without behavioral disorders, the FDA continues to deny any significant link between food dyes and behavioral problems.
By eliminating food dyes and food additives, studies have continuously shown increased improvements in children’s behavior.
The FDA has approved a number of natural dyes for use in products. These dyes include:
- Beet Juice
- Grape Skin Extract
- Paprika Oleoresin
- Fruit and Vegetable Juices
Some natural dyes can still cause adverse reactions to those with sensitivities. My son, for example, reacts to annatto extract. Annatto, caramel, and cochineal extract (known as carmine) have all been traced to allergic reactions.
A partial list of popular vitamins with toxic dyes: http://www.vaclib.org/docs/ToxicDyesVitamins.doc
- One A Day – Red #40
- One A day for Women – Mixed Berry’s – Blue #1 Yellow #5, Yellow #6 and Red #40
- One A Day Scooby Doo – Blue #2, Yellow #6 and Red #40
- Flintstones (Children’s Vitamin) – Blue #1, Blue #2, Yellow #6, Red #40 and Aspartame Toxic Sweetener
- Centrum & Centrum Silver – Yellow #6 and Red #40
- Geritol – Blue #2, Yellow #6 and Red #40
- Prenatal from Nature’s Bounty – Blue #1, Yellow #6 and Red #40
- Tums – Blue #1, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 and Red #40
From www.kidshealth.com (Yes, you read that right: KIDShealth) about birth control pills:
“Hormones are chemical substances that control the functioning of the body’s organs.”
Where do I even start? There is absolutely nothing okay with this statement. How are women, and TEEN women, still given these pills daily?
The birth control pill was approved by the FDA in 1960. Regarded as a hero drug among women, the pill gave women the freedom to have sex without worrying about becoming pregnant. Very few people questioned the side effects and risks of hormonal birth control, and still today, the pill is given as a “right of passage” to most teens. Yet, study after study leads us down a road of questions and worry.
The quote above is completely accurate. Hormones ARE chemical substances. The body produces them regularly and maintains a natural balance that allows the organs to function as they are meant. Estrogen and progestogens are essential steroid hormones. In women, they are required for normal development of female sex organs and secondary sex characteristics, regulation of the menstrual cycle and reproduction, and many other essential physiological functions in the bones, brain, breasts, adipose tissue, and uterus. Synthetic versions of these hormones (estrogen and progestogens) placed in the body then overthrow the natural balance and take control of the organs, tricking and manipulating them into functioning in different ways than they should.
All hormonal contraceptives have at least three mechanisms of action. Artificial female hormones are the active ingredient in all hormonal contraceptives (estrogen and progestin). Some products contain both hormones and others progestin only (Mini-Pill). Using both hormones together is somewhat more effective than progestin alone, but the estrogen component is responsible for most of the serious health hazards associated with hormonal methods. Hormonal contraceptives prevent ovulation, meaning no egg is released so sperm cannot fertilize it.
There are several forms of hormonal birth control, all with similar risks and side effects. Remember that none of the hormonal contraceptive options protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV.
Birth control pills: The most well-known and common form of contraceptive. Oral birth control contains both forms of female hormones, estrogen and progestin. They must be taken daily and at the same time to be considered affective. Most brands include a week of sugar pills after the first 21 pills, allowing the body to still have a period. However, “The Pill” can differ not only in the number of active ingredients, but also in the way ingredients are dosed by brand. Monophasic birth control pills contain the same amount of ingredient in each active pill, while multiphasic birth control pills contain varying levels of hormones through the month. These were designed to minimize side effects such as breakthrough bleeding. There are also low-dose oral contraceptives that contain less estrogen than other types of birth control pills. They contain 20 micrograms of estrogen, compared to 30 to 50 in other birth control pills. Studies are now linking oral contraceptives to cervical, breast, and liver cancer. (www.cancer.gov)
Mini-pill: These are like conventional oral contraceptives, but contain no estrogen, making them safer, but also less effective. Often recommended to women who are breastfeeding, the mini-pill may effect milk supply and can still produce many side effects.
Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA): An injection, the “depot shot” was approved by the FDA in 1992 and quickly became popular due to its non-daily methods. An injection is administered once every 12 weeks and contains medroxyprogesterone acetate, polyethylene glycol, sodium sulfate anhydrous, and myristyl-gamma-picolinium chloride (as a preservative). http://www.rxlist.com/depo-provera-drug/patient-images-side-effects.htm
NuvaRing: A combined hormonal contraceptive, this vaginal ring is inserted once a month and removed to bring on a menstrual cycle.
Contraceptive Implant: An implant the size of a matchstick can be placed under the skin of the upper arm. It releases progestin slowly. It can be left in place for three years.
Contraceptive Patch: Ortho-Evra is the only FDA approved hormonal contraceptive patch. It contains the hormones estrogen and progestin, and is applied to the skin once a week for three weeks. On the fourth week, no patch is used, allowing menstruation to occur. Recent studies have shown that Ortho-Evra causes a higher level of estrogen to circulate in the body than do combination birth control pills. As a result, you may have a slightly higher risk of estrogen-related adverse events.
Synthetic Estrogen Problems Include:
- Breast swelling & tenderness
- Vaginal discharge
- High blood pressure
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Mood swings
- Fluid retention
- Permanent dark patches on face
- Drug interaction problems
- Eye or vision problems
- Gallbladder disease
- Tumors of the liver
- Breast Cancer and/or tumor growth
- Cervical cancer
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot)
- Pulmonary embolism
- Heart attack
Synthetic Progestin Problems Include:
- Weight gain
- Bone loss
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Acne and/or oily skin
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Insulin resistance
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
- Breast tenderness
- Suppression of immune system
- Heart attack
- Breast tumor growth
Other possible side effects to the above mentioned forms of contraceptives:
- menstrual periods that are heavier or longer than normal
- sudden numbness or weakness
- sudden severe headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance
- chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing up blood
- pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs
- nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
- symptoms of depression (sleep problems, weakness, mood changes).
Types of Estrogens Will be Listed As:
- ethynil estradiol
Types of Progestins Will be Listed As:
- ethynodiol diacetate
Many epidemiological studies have shown that prolonged exposure to estrogens may increase the risk of breast cancer.
Hormonal birth control and breast cancer: A recent study compared 1,102 women between the ages of 20 and 49 diagnosed with breast cancer, whose birth control pill usage histories (including does information) were obtained using electronic pharmacy records. The study showed that current and recent pill use increased the relative risk of breast cancer by 50% overall. The risk was highest with high (170%) or moderate doses (60%) of estrogen and certain formulations of progestogen (up to 210%) SOURCE
A few recent studies have also explored the risk of different sub-types of breast cancer with use of birth control pills. Alarmingly, the studies have shown that use of birth control pills increases the risk of a type of breast cancer called triple-negative, which is more common in younger women and is aggressive and difficult to treat. A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute in 2009 showed that use of birth control pills for more than one year increased the risk of triple-negative breast cancer four-fold in women younger than 40. SOURCE and SOURCE
The study also showed that the risk conferred by longer duration of use and by more recent use was significantly higher for triple-negative breast cancer. Several other studies have shown similar results. SOURCE and SOURCE
Since women taking the pills tend to be younger, the combination of findings that the pills increase breast cancer risk with current and recent use and increase the risk of triple-negative breast cancer make it more troubling, especially with the increase in breast cancer diagnoses in young women.
Estrogen in Our Water: Even if you are not taking hormonal birth control, there is still cause to worry. Over the past decade, we have learned about the increasing percentage of hormones being found in our water supply. Studies have found that women on hormonal contraceptives are urinating estrogenic compounds into the water, ans these hormones are not then filtered out. The cycle is as you think: we all then consume these. Estrogenic compounds are part of a larger category of chemicals known as endocrine-disruptors (EDCs), chemicals that can alter the hormonal and homeostatic systems enabling an organism – like a human being or other animal – to communicate with and respond to its environment. We are witnessing puberty beginning younger and younger in our children, and watching cancer rates increase. Hormones in our water are playing a role in this.
Better options for your health: Non-Hormonal Contraceptives:
- Vaginal Spermicides
- Female Condom
- Lea’s Shield
- Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
- Natural Family Planning
How Halloween Candy Affects Kids
It’s time to purchase ALL.THE.CANDY. I mean, it’s for the trick-or-treaters, right? Of course it is.
Whether your children dress in costumes and fill buckets with candy or you choose not to celebrate the holiday, inevitably, the candy somehow still ends up in your home. Before you allow your children “a few harmless pieces,” take the time to learn the consequences of your actions. I am not totally ruining candy for you. There are plenty of great premade, purchasable candies out there, and a plethora of healthier homemade recipes to meet every candy craving.
From Kit Kats and Reeses to Candy Corn and Candy Bars, I took the top purchased candies and broke down their ingredient lists. This is what I found. The most common ingredients are:
High Fructose Corn Syrup: Also labeled as corn syrup, maize syrup, glucose syrup, fructose syrup, tapioca syrup, dahlia syrup, fruit syrup, and crystalline fructose. Corn syrup is derived from genetically modified corn. It “is heavily processed, using enzymes to turn cornstarch into glucose and then fructose.” Even though glucose and fructose occur in nature, HFCS does not occur in nature. Cornstarch is converted to glucose, some of which is then converted to fructose. If a substance’s molecular structure has been changed in a factory, it can’t be considered natural.
A few documented reasons to stay away from HFCS include its links to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, high cholesterol and increased risk of heart attack and heart disease. Additionally, regular consumption of corn syrup may lead to anemia, weakened immune system, fatigue, mood swing and suppressed metabolism. Particularly sensitive individuals may also experience light-headedness or headaches and bowel issues. (A safe, healthy option: look for honey as an ingredient. It is also known that consuming raw milk combates the side effects of HFCS. http://www.earthclinic.com/cures/corn-syrup-side-effects.html ) http://www.thebetterhealthstore.com/Newsletter/100110_High-Fructose_04.html
Natural or Artificial Flavors: “natural flavor” is the fourth most common ingredient listed on labels – not just in your candy. This is a BIG umbrella folks. Companies can label absolutely any ingredient, whether it is synthetic, chemical, etc as a “flavor” as long as it is generally regarded as safe by the FDA. The most common ingredients labeled as “Flavors” are as follows, and you may see some of these listed on their own on a label, but if you don’t, do not be surprised if they are in the product. http://www.livescience.com/ http://www.foodadditivesworld.com/
- MSG: Monosodium-glutamate is a brain neurotoxin. It is a slow poison. Known as flavor-enhancer 621, MSG is now labeled as a “Natural flavor.” Children are more vulnerable to MSG dangers than adults. In fact, MSG and other flavor enhancers are not permitted in foods produced specifically for infants and young children who are 12 months old or less. MSG can cause or exacerbate brain lesions, neuroendocrine disorders, learning disabilities, adverse reactions, neurodegenerative disease and more. The short of it: MSG kills brain cells. http://www.truthinlabeling.org/
- Aluminum Silicate
Insoluble and used as a refractory in glassmaking. It is used as coagulation in food.
- Amino Acid Compounds
- Amyl Acetate
A pear and banana oil. Many artificial flavors are made using amyl acetate. It may cause nervous system depression, indigestion, chest pain, headaches, fatigue, and irritate the mucus membranes.
- Amyl Alcohol
Closely related to Amyl Acetate and also known to be toxic.
- Annatto bixine (yellow orange): My sensitive child reacts to this! It is also called roucou, and is a natural plant extract used to dye an assortment of foods, textiles, and body care products. Primarily, it is used as red / orange in a wide assortment of foods. The food additive number for it is E160b, allowing consumers to identify it on a label even when it is not listed by name. Some children react to this just as they do other food colorings.
- Benzoates (including sodium benzoate)
Can trigger allergies such as skin rashes and asthma, and are believed to be linked brain damage.
Almond flavor, and when derived from nature, traces of hydrogen cyanide – a deadly poison – can be found in it. When made by mixing oil of clove and amyl acetate, no cyanide is produced. Nonetheless, both natural and artificial benzaldehyde can cause central nervous system depression and convulsions.
- Benzyl Acetate
Also related to Amyl Acetate and may cause gastrointestinal, bronchial, skin, and eye irritation.
Artificial flavoring that may cause gastrointestinal irritation, seizures, confusion, and dizziness.
Destroy the nutrients in the foods. It can give rise to nausea and diarrhea.
- Butryic Acid
Caused cancer in lab test with animals.
- Butyl Acetate
Related to Butryic Acid can be toxic in high quantities.
Responsible for high blood cholesterol levels as well as impaired liver and kidney function. Ex) Butylated Hydrozyttoluene (BHT), Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Colorant and flavorant that has diuretic, stimulant properties. It can cause nervousness, heart palpitations and occasionally heart defects.
- Canthaxanthin: Other names – Canthaxanthine, Carophyll Red, CI Food Orange 8, Colour Index No. 40850, E161, Roxanthin Red 10.
Very common flavoring and coloring agent that can cause vitamin B6 deficiencies. It can cause certain genetic defects and even cancer.
Artificial flavoring that can lead to respiratory and circulatory depression as well as cardiac failure.
- Cinnamyl Formate
Also simply known as formic acid, (artificial cinnamon – it may simply say “cinnamon flavor” in the label) has caused cancer in mice and may affect our kidneys.
- Erythrosine (red)
See Red Dye below.
- Red Dye 40
Red dye is known to cause attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Also suspected to cause certain birth defects and possibly cancer.
- Mono and di-glycerides
Can cause birth defects, genetic changes and cancer.
- Potassium Bromate: banned from China, European Union, Canada, Brazil and elsewhere because it causes cancer in rats and mice.
- Potassium Sorbate: A synthetic preservative linked to allergies, nausea, eye irriation, and diarrhea
Causes toxic reactions and allergic response, affecting skin, gastrointestinal tract and heart. It may also cause tumors and bladder cancer.
- Sodium Benzoate
Also known as E211. Sodium benzonate is a common preservative. The FDA classifies it as safe. However, sodium benzoate forms a chemical known as benzene when in the presence of vitamin C.Also heat converts sodium benzoate to benzene. Fruit jellies, jams, and fruit juices which are made with high vitamin C fruits with heat applied in the manufacturing process can be particularly dangerous due to the conversion to benzene from sodium benzoate. Benzene damage DNA and seems to play a role in a variety of diseases due to DNA damaging capabilities. It’s also a known carcinogen.Some studies have shown that sodium benzoate in processed food along with artificial food colorings can cause children with ADHD to be more hyperactive.
- Sodium Chloride
Can lead to high blood pressure, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack.
- Sodium Nitrite
Can be carcinogenic and have other adverse effects on health.
- Salt (common table salt is refined salt)
Refined salt has depleted mineral and higher concentration of sodium then unrefined sundried sea salt.
- Sugar (common white sugar is refined sugar)
Most commonly used additive.
- Tartrazine (Azoic yellow): on ingredient labels as FD&C yellow 5, E102 or C.I. 19140. It is an artificial coloring that is used to make foods and other products more visually appealing or appetizing. It is also used in the printing, textile and paper-manufacturing industries as pH indicators or biological stains. Tartrazine is tied to anxiety, migraines, asthma attacks, blurred vision, eczema, other skin rashes, thyroid cancer, Eosinophilia (increase in specific forms of white blood cells), clinical depression, ADHD or hyperactivity, hives, permanent DNA damage, heart palpitations, rhinitis, sleep disturbances/insomnia, general all-over weakness, hot flushes and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). In severe cases, anaphylactic-like reactions. When fed to chickens it makes their egg yolks yellower – because, in our society, that is so important. (Sarcasm.) Tartrazine interferes with the metabolism of Vitamin B6 in the body.
(A great substitute: Tumeric!)
Artificial vanilla, can cause allergic reactions. It can limit the liver enzyme dopamine sulphotransferase by 50%. Its sources are the waste product of paper mills and petroleum.
Artificial Colors: (See above for specifics)
Emulsifiers: linked to irritable bowel syndrome, disruption of the gut, and obesity.
Nitrites (and nitrates): Synthetic and highly toxic. In fact, these ingredients have been highly linked with a number of deadly cancers.
Trans Fat: Trans fat is also synonymous with the common ingredient “hydrogenated oil.”
Hydrogenated palm kernel oil: Besides being linked to deforestation through the plantations creating this oil, palm oil was found to impair the digestive systems of mice during studies. http://humanfoodproject.com/
Soy Lechithin: Derived from genetically modified soy, lechithin is linked to increase risk of breast cancer, infertility, and impeded brain development in children.
Preservatives: There is no shortage to the amount or types of chemicals put in our food today, and one of the top things added to our food are preservatives. These chemical ingredients, such as TBHQ and/or BHT and BHA are man-made chemicals that do preserve food for longer, but at a great expense to our health. Preservatives have been linked with a number of problems such as allergies and sensitivities, digestion problems, mental problems such as ADHD and depression, as well as cancer.
TBHQ: The most common food preservative. Tertiary Butylhydroquinone is a petroleum-derived form of butane. It is commonly found in lighter fluid (Oh and Butterfingers… and other of your Halloween goodies.) 5 grams of TBHQ is lethal and the FDA ruled that quantities larger than 0.02% could not be used. (RUN AWAY FROM THIS!)
Alternative Sweeteners: For those who are diabetic or otherwise trying to cut down on their sugar intake, food manufacturers have created “sugar free” options that have no sugar. Instead of using sugar, they have replaced it with a non-nutritive, synthetic sweetener. These sugar replacements, such as aspartame, splenda, sucralose, and/or Ace-K act similarly to flavor enhancers in the body, in that they stimulate cells and cause cellular death. These artificial sweeteners wreak havoc in the body and can actually still lead to weight gain and cravings.
Shellac: The shiny coating on your candy labeled “confectioner’s glaze.”
Castoreum: An extract from beaver perineal glands and beaver urine typically considered a “natural flavoring.” You’ll find this in anything berry or vanilla flavored.
Gelatin: a thickening agent made from the protein collagen, which is extracted from animal skin and bones. You will find this in your gummies.
We need to shift our focus from specific harmful ingredients to the food itself: where is this food coming from, how is it being processed, and most importantly, is it even food?
The good news: There are companies providing high-quality candy. My personal favorite place to shop:
(I am not affiliated with the above site, I just have a child with gut issues, speech delay, sensory processing disorder, food allergies, and food sensitivities.)
Just for a chuckle: This is how we feel on Halloween