Summer! Summer means heat, water and fun in the sun. It can also mean sunburn. In my quest to find the best sunblocks (many are not as safe as they appear) I came across references to the Cabbage Palm Fern. I did some research and it seemed there might actually be something to the claims of sun protection in a pill.
The Cabbage Palm Fern, Polypodium leucotomos, is a plant native to Central America. Several studies have been done that have shown it to have a slight protective effect against UV damage. The studies to date have not been double-blind studies (the participants knew they were receiving the treatment which could create a placebo effect), nor have they been extensive, but they seem to indicate the root of this fern may indeed help to protect our skin from sun damage.
There are two brands currently available, Heliocare and Life Extension's FernBlock . Neither should be relied on to provide full sun protection and should be used as a supplement to a good sunscreen. Personally, I wouldn't be without it.
Last year I spent a week in the Tucson sun;113 degree Tucson sun! I was naturally worried about my sun exposure so I took 2 of Life Extensions Fernblock every morning in addition to using the Nutri-Lift sunscreen mentioned below in my original post. I did tan, but I was truly amazed that despite the hot sun I never burned. Of course this is no guarantee the combination will work the same for everyone, but since I'm on the fair side I'm sold on the combination for my sun protection.
When I know I'm going to be in the sun I use sunscreen on everything but my face. My sunscreen of choice is Nutri-Lift's photo stable Maximum Sun Protection. What about the face you ask? I can't stand sunscreen on my face, and with skin that tends toward oily, my face doesn't like it either, so I use a foundation with sunscreen and top it off with a powdered sunscreen. Two great organic foundations that include sunscreen are Nutra-lift Flawless Foundation, which has an SPF of 18, and Jane Iredale's Moisture Tint, with an SPF of 15. I've tried them both and found them to be lightweight and blend well.
I've saved the best for last, my very favorite sunscreen product is Jane Iredale's Powder Me SPF (link below). It's a mineral powder that comes in three shades, including translucent. The company claims you can even sprinkle it on your scalp for coverage on your head. Wouldn't that be wonderful to protect the part where we tend to get burnt!
One last note about your summer skin protection arsenal, lycopene-rich fruits and veggies such as watermelon, guava, pink grapefruit, and tomatoes also seem to reduce skin damage from UVA and UVB rays. A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology looked at women whose diets included 16 milligrams of lycopene every day (the amount in about two cups of diced watermelon) for 12 weeks . The results were a reduction in the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays, including sunburns and cellular damage.
Here's my article on Sun Protection for Children, in case you missed it.
5 Important Considerations for Sun Safety
1. Sunglasses -- Children who spend a lot of time in the sun, especially children who are blue-eyed, should wear sunglasses, or shade their eyes with a hat. Sun exposure in the early years can lead to cataracts and age related glaucoma in later years.
2. Sunscreen -- Get a good low toxin sunscreen that blocks both UVB and UVA rays. This is critical, as it’s the UVA rays, the ones that don’t actually burn, that cause the most dangerous skin damage according to the latest Environmental Working Group report. Avoid oxybenzone and retinylpalmitate. Re-apply every 20 minutes or as recommended by your pediatrician. Consider purchasing a UV monitoring wristband UV Monitoring Wristband, which will prompt you when to re-apply.
3. Vitamin D -- It's been discovered some adults and children are developing low Vitamin D stores in their bodies as a result of conscientious sunscreen use. Others report the problem is not that great because we don't tend to use sunscreen properly in the first place. Vitamin D supplements are helpful, but unless you have a medical reason to stay out of the sun altogether, 20-30 minutes of indirect sunlight a few times a week is recommended. This is reportedly enough to enable your body to absorb the rays necessary to synthesize Vitamin. This applies in the winter too. And no, you can’t get adequate Vitamin D from sunlight through a window.
4. After Sun -- If your child gets a little too much sun, suggested soothers are aloe, tea (make a brew to release the tannins and soak a washcloth in it, then apply), or apple cider vinegar. I’ve seen vinegar reduce redness in a mild pink burn; the smell does go away. Of course, if a burn is significant, consult your doctor right away.
5. Sun Blocking Clothing -- For those who are extremely fair or want to ensure they limit their
future exposure, there are clothes made with high sun resistance such as SunGrubbies.com and the Coolibar line that you may want to consider.
New information is becoming available regularly about sun safety. An updated sunscreen report will be published soon by the Environmental Working Group. Pay attention to the news and have even more fun in the sun knowing you’re taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself and the children in your life.
Toothpaste, mouthwash, soap and "hand cleansers" are among those products we use every day containing the dangerous antibacterial triclosan. I've written about the concerns with these antibacterial products before in my post entitled Triclosan -- Avoid It!. Here's yet another reason to stop using these products. A study at the University of California at Davis indicates high levels of triclosan may impair the ability of the heart and skeletal muscles to contract. The authors expect that this would only be a possibility for those who have an existing heart condition, but why take chances. A chemical that has already been found to be creating super bugs and is suspect in cancer isn't worth having in our homes.
Speaking of the super bugs, antibiotic type medications for TB are just one of the treatments that arebecoming less and less effective because of the new strains of organisms that have developed because of our use of the antibacterial products. As the NIH puts it, "TB bacteria evolve to outwit the TB antibiotics". Many of our old time antibiotics are no longer effective. Some health experts are calling this a serious health crisis.
There are plenty of products out there without these dangerous antibacterials in their ingredients. Shop around and, as they say, be apart of the solution.
There are so many good books about green living out there that I stopped picking up every one I see years ago. I have my favorites that I consider classics, Debra Lynn Dadd’s original Nontoxic and Natural (I’ll talk more about her another time) among others. Now I've added a new one to my list of classics. I picked up Renee Loux’s Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home primarily because her book on raw foods, Living Cuisine: The Art and Spirit of Raw Foods is on my cookbook shelf. Honestly, I’ve never seen her show so I didn’t realize she was also a natural living expert.
I'm glad I picked it up, as it is a book that anyone interested in starting or furthering a natural lifestyle should own. It is priceless as a resource book. It’s particularly valuable because the information isn’t likely to become obsolete as some books in this genre do. This is because she doesn’t just rely on identifying safe brand names and products in the market place. She also gives detailed lists of chemicals to avoid and make it yourself alternatives.
She lists the dangers of the chemicals or contaminants in each area, everything from laundry detergents to bedding. She explains very clearly what to look for, what to avoid, and what the alternatives are. You can probably guess from my writing I particularly enjoy the new homemade formulas she offers to add to my repertoire.
I highly recommend this book for those starting on the path to discovering natural health as well as seasoned natural health gurus.
NaturalJersey.com was created in order to have a place on the web where we can all share the great green & natural health resources in NJ. I hope you find it a never ending resource when you're looking for health-minded local businesses.