Are we living in an over-sanitised world?
A shortage of toilet paper made the headlines at the beginning of the year, following the government’s decision of a national lockdown. However, toilet paper was not the only ‘essential’ item people were panic-buying. Hand sanitisers also became a rarity. It was apparent that the public needed to find ways to ‘disinfect’ themselves and avoid to be carriers of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which they could pass on to others, especially most vulnerable and immuno-deficient people.
Since then, every corner of every public place, including hospitals, trains and buses, are drenched with sanitising products, harsh antimicrobial used as weapons against the invisible threat that is the coronavirus. Classrooms are also heavily sanitised, and many young children are also given hand sanitising products to clean their hands regularly.
A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Virology shows that antiseptic mouthrinses can provide a protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but the study was conducted in vitro, and there is no indication for how long the mouthrinse can offer protection. Although the study found that keeping the mouthrinse inside the mouth for 2 minutes showed the best result. Hydrogen peroxide was also used in the study with similar results.
Some researchers have also found that a solution made with baby shampoo and used as a nasal spray killed the virus.
Whatever people feel safe to use, we are led to believe that we are better off ‘sanitising’ ourselves from top to bottom and from the inside out.
But is it really the solution?
For decades, we have known that our resilience is tightly bound to the exposure of our immune system to a wide variety of microbes, including viruses. In fact, multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria are the biggest threat the world is yet to face. The overuse of antibiotics (in humans and intensive animal production) is the lead problem fuelling MDR infection rate, killing million of people every year.
The FDA just released a list of toxic ingredients found in hand sanitizers, resulting in the recall of over 150 hand sanitizer brands on the market. One of the ingredients banned includes the commonly used ingredient benzethonium chloride. The FDA report also acknowledged the upcoming review of three other ingredients commonly found in hand sanitizing spray: benzalkonium chloride, ethyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol.
It is likely that many other countries have taken similar steps to prevent the sale of highly-toxic products.
With this year’s focus on germs and viruses, many of us have ignored the possible repercussions of slathering our hands with toxins every day, many times a day!
When we pursue the 'germ theory' as the main driver for health, harsh anti-bacterial agents are then justified. The problem is that in killing the ‘bad’ bacteria, the ‘good’ bacteria can become extinct. Good bacteria is your first line of defence against pathogenic microbes. Once we understand terrain theory, it becomes evident that harsh hand sanitisers can impact the immune system and whole-body health. The same can be told for antibiotics.
"We are led to believe that we are better off ‘sanitising’ ourselves from top to bottom and from the inside out."
The WHO explains: “Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.”
Should we now expect cases of AMR to increase as the world is sanitised at incredible speed?
Would it not be better to build an improve our immunity?
We know that a healthy diet and lifestyle are supporting pillars to a strong immune system, allowing the body to respond to microbial threats more efficiently. We also know that chronic stress and anxiety, and regular lack of sleep are major problems, which can lead to immune dysfunction. Too little time outdoors, alcohol and tobacco smoking can also affect our immunity.
 Meyers, C. et al. (2020). Lowering the transmission and spread of human coronavirus. Journal of Medical Virology. 2020, pp. 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.26514
 Griffin, AS. et al. Alternative therapies for chronic rhinosinusitis: a review. Ear Nose Throat J. 2018;97:E25‐E33
 Nikaido H. (2009). Multidrug resistance in bacteria. Annual review of biochemistry. 78, pp. 119–146. doi:10.1146/annurev.biochem.78.082907.145923
 “Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptic Rubs; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use.” Federal Register, 12 Apr. 2019, www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/04/12/2019-06791/safety-and-effectiveness-of-consumer-antiseptic-rubs-topical-antimicrobial-drug-products-for.
 Ballantyne, Coco. “Strange but True: Antibacterial Products May Do More Harm Than Good.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 7 June 2007, www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-antibacterial-products-may-do-more-harm-than-good.
 World Health Organisation. (2020). Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antimicrobial-resistance
Registered Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Iridologist, Lecturer, NLP practitioner and Personal Performance Coach.
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