Are man-made fragrances making you sick? For many the thought of their laundry or personal care products being a source of unwanted cancer-promoting chemicals in their household sounds strange. But for someone who is trying to figure out how to heal from long-term disease or why they are sick in the first place, man-made fragrances will be a part of the puzzle, and should be understood.
Distinctly fragrant oils that are distilled from plants as diverse as eucalyptus, rose, or frankincense are known as “essential oils.” They have the power to heal disease. Distilled properly, they are completely natural – the real deal. In high demand for medicinal purposes, their availability is often limited because large amounts of plant material are required to produce a very small amount of oil, or the plant species is rare. Because of this, essential oils are often expensive to produce.
Most Artificial Fragrances are Dirt Cheap To Manufacture
But because of the higher cost and limited availability of true essential oils, many large corporations have gone to much less expensive synthetic fragrances for use in their products. “Air fresheners,” colognes, perfumes, household cleaning and laundry products, candles and most personal-care products contain “imitation fragrances made in laboratories from derivatives of petroleum and coal tar” (source).
These man-made smells attempt to imitate the fragrance of essential oils at a tiny fraction of the cost. They are packaged beautifully, and you think you are getting an amazing product.
Manufactured fragrances enable marketing firms to emphasize their “unique fragrances.” The fragrance is marketed as much as the functional purpose of the product, and customers develop brand loyalty based on scent as we will see in a minute.
The Industry’s Toxic Secrets
These imitation fragrances include VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as benzene derivatives, aldehydes, ketones, denaturants and other known toxics and sensitizers – capable or suspected of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. Research now shows that chemicals including VOCs have direct, quick access to the brain through the nasal passages (source).
As corporate chemists, these truths are certainly known to them, but decisions of stockholders and the bottom line – in most cases – is of utmost importance to the company. “Virtually none of these single or combined ingredients are tested for central nervous system safety despite the fact that many of the individual chemicals in fragrances are known to be neurotoxic and/or carcinogenic” (source).
Laundry detergents routinely contain chemicals that are dangerous to the health and irritating to the skin. A residue of these chemicals remains on clothing after it is washed. Clear evidence of this can be found in scented products, because chemical fragrances would be useless if they were simply washed out. Chemical fragrances are especially bad, and are known for aggravating asthma.
Narcotic and Hormone-like Effects Make People Feel Good and Attract the Opposite Sex
Additionally, fragrance manufacturers routinely add chemicals that have narcotic and hormone-like effects. With respect to perfumes and colognes, the chemicals that are added have powerful effects. They ease emotional pain and make people feel good (narcotic effect), or make people feel sexy or attract the interest of the opposite sex (hormonal effect). They also can be carcinogenic.
Daily exposure to the chemicals in perfumes and colognes creates chemical dependency (addiction). As with all other forms of addiction, people tend to use more and more fragrance over time and switch to stronger and stronger fragrances, because they don’t feel the desired effect.
This addiction effect increases sales of perfume and cologne, and builds brand loyalty. There are many people who feel that they are not ready to start the day until they have had their coffee and have put on perfume or cologne. They feel that they are not fully dressed until they put on their scent.
There is no “right to know” for fragranced products: Ingredients in fragrances are considered to be “confidential business information” and do not have to be revealed to the consumer even when the product has been reported to cause human health problems. (source)
Fragrances God Gave Us vs. Artificial Fragrances
As a researching mom using natural essential oils medicinally for well over 20 years, I now recognize synthetic fragrances in perfumes, candles, dryer sheets, and air fresheners. These fakes possess the power to give me a headache or respiratory congestion similar to breathing automobile exhaust. If you use pure essential oils for medicinal purposes, you will immediately discern between imitation fragrances that come from factories and the fragrances that God has given to us. When I smell the spring Korean spicebushes or the summer butterfly bushes outside my door my spirits lift, and I am captivated by God’s good gifts. Plant essential oils have the capacity to heal, because they preserve the life-giving substances that were naturally present in the plants that heal (Gen. 1:29, Rev. 22:2).
Developing an Environmental Illness Or Impairing your Immune System
When I was in the early stages of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), I experienced an impaired sense of smell, and was no longer aware of the substances that challenged my body. Daily in the OR, I breathed all sorts of low-level anesthetics (halothane, enflurane, and methoxyflurane) and the bonding glue methyl-methacrylate that we used for hip replacements in the adjoining suite. As the months rolled by, I didn’t notice them anymore, even when first coming into the room.
This is especially true for substances that are used daily. In later stages of MCS, when the immune system can no longer handle the toxicity, the sense of smell becomes hypersensitive. These people (like me) are essentially canaries in the coal mine. This PubMed study is consistent with that.
If you suspect you may be sensitive to synthetic fragrances, or are developing MCS, you can test yourself in the detergent aisle or lawn care aisle of the superstore. There is one telltale sign: If the smell of the newly manufactured synthetic products [chemicals] is sickening to you, possibly even bringing on a runny nose or sneezing, slight headache or breathing problems, you can be pretty sure that you’re already chemically sensitive or are on your way to becoming so.
If you stop your constant exposure now, your immune system can still recover. Please don’t wait. You may be in danger of developing an environmental illness.
Be on the look-out for a post devoted to a list of the many MUCH SAFER solutions I’ve found through the years!
What are your experiences with toxic fragrances? Could you share it?
- 9 Less-Toxic & Non-Toxic Nail Polish Brands
- Chemicals In Our Skin Care Products: 25 Safer Alternative Picks
- Protect Your Hide: 9 Of The Safest Sunscreens For Kids (& You)
- 19 Known Safe Essential Oils For Children & Babies
Thanks for reading!