Still Using Antibacterial Soap?
For many years now, I have been using castile soap, an olive oil based soap that gets its name from “Castilla de la Mancha”, the region of which originates in Spain.
Castile Soap was made by the Moroccans and Spaniards for hundreds of years, the recipe slowly spread throughout other regions and it also varied with the usage of different plants added for their aroma and therapeutic values.
Still many people feel that unless you use an antibacterial soap you are not cleansing yourself well enough. If you’re among the millions of Americans who use antibacterial hand soaps or body wash, you probably do so because you believe these products are better at protecting you from harmful bacteria.
Not necessarily, says the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, says microbiologist, Coleen Rogers Ph.D., there’s no evidence that over-the-counter antibacterial soap products are any better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. Most germs are removed from the hands, for example, by the mechanical action of soap combined with hand rubbing, and are washed away by running water.
Something else that you may want to avoid is antibacterial gels known as hand sanitizers. Against common belief they are not very helpful. In fact, most people who use these types of cleansers regularly on themselves and their children are the ones that tend to be sick the most. If you don't believe me just check around your group of friends and pay attention to those who carry hand sanitizers in the purses and use them all the time, you will be surprised to realize they are the ones fighting colds and sickness more often than not.
I’ve talked about this before. I maintain that these products not only aren’t necessary, but they’re actually harmful, because they encourage the development of resistance in bacteria. The threat of “superbugs” that we can’t control is no fantasy. It’s already happening. Ask anyone who works in a hospital or nursing home. I’m also concerned about the impact of antibacterial chemicals on human health.
And now the FDA is getting involved. Rogers is a lead scientist at FDA. In a press release, she said: “New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits.” Common antibacterial ingredients, such as triclosan and triclocarban, may pose unnecessary risks to consumers.
FDA plans to require manufacturers to prove otherwise, and may eventually consider a ban if evidence is not forthcoming. FDA notes that antibacterial ingredients may adversely affect human hormones. These sorts of chemicals, called endocrine disruptors, may affect everything from reproductive health to body weight. Hand sanitizers, hand wipes, and hand soaps used in healthcare settings will not be affected by the proposed new rule.
My advice? Do yourself and the rest of us a favor and vote with your pocketbook: Don’t buy or use these unnecessary and potentially harmful products.