Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ever Get a Headache From Some Other Person's Perfume or Cologne?

Have you ever gotten a headache from sitting near someone bathed in cologne?  Or felt dizzy, nauseous or disoriented by the fragrance worn by a fellow coworker?  Did you ever give someone a hug and smell their perfume all day and feel totally irritated?  You probably have a chemical sensitivity to fragrance, and you are not alone.

Most of the commercial fragrances today contain toxins.  This is allowed by a loophole for the term 'fragrance' on cosmetic and cleaning products. The Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973 requires cosmetics companies to list ingredients on labels, but it exempts the word fragrance, allowing the ingredients used in a fragrance to go unlisted and untested for safety.

The fragrance industry is allowed to regulate itself, through a trade association known as the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). While this association is tasked with  testing fragrance ingredients for safety, many consumer advocacy groups dispute they are fulfilling their responsibility.  The Environmental Working Group explains that in an analysis of the chemical contents of products which list the term fragrance, a chemical known as phthalates is used to make fragrances last longer.  These phthalates have many negative side effects like damaging the male reproductive system and triggering asthma attacks.  The group also lists many other chemicals that are used with harmful side effects.   

The funny thing is human beings are very attracted to fragrance, and it is something businesses use to get us to buy their products.  Our sense of smell is one of the most primitive senses and is closely connected to the limbic system in the brain.  This area of the brain governs both emotion and memory.  It also is associated with our unconscious mind which drives many of our decisions.  In Ayurveda the sense of smell is considered the gateway to the brain.  Aromas are used by Ayurveda as healing therapy, and there is a branch of holistic medicine known as Aromatherapy that heals people both physically and spiritually with essential oils.  

While we want to avoid commercial toxic fragrances, we still want to enjoy the uplifting and healing benefits of fragrance.  The best way to enjoy fragrance is to use organic essential oils that can be purchased in a health food store.  Or you could meet with an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner or Aromatherapist who will choose fragrances for your unique body, spirit or situation that will make you glow from the inside out. These essential oils are completely naturally derived from botanical ingredients like flowers, fruits, seeds, bark, leaves and wood.   Essential oils do not last as long as perfumes, but they can be reapplied.  And they will not give your friends and family a headache that they may be too polite to tell you about.

Stay healthy & well,

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