Bridging the Gap: Essential Oils and the Endocrine System

More and more people are starting to turn towards all-natural and non-toxic alternatives when it comes to whole body health. But what does this really look like, specifically for the Endocrine System? Keep reading to learn more.


WHAT IS THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM?


The Endocrine System is our body's highway of connections for our hormones. It helps regulate our bodies from the moment we conceived, through childhood, adulthood, and even into old age. It helps develop the brain and the nervous system, as well as helps grow and develop the reproductive system. It also regulates our metabolism and blood sugar levels.


Phew! The Endocrine System does a lot, am I right?


When I was in school, I thought only women had an Endocrine System. I associated it with estrogen and reproduction, therefore I thought of it more like a digestive system with physical parts than like the nervous system, both with parts, chemicals and signals.

There are many different working parts to the Endocrine System, but here are a few of the big players that we need to pay attention to in order to understand how this system works:

  • Ovaries (females)

  • Testes (males)

  • Hypothalamus

  • Pituitary Glands

  • Thyroid Glands

  • Adrenal Glands


The hypothalamus is the part of our body that links the Endocrine System and the Nervous System together. This is very important because it helps our brain communicate to the rest of the body and helps regulate our hormones, thus helping to regulate all the rest of our bodily functions.


The pituitary gland receives signals from the hypothalamus. Both parts of the pituitary gland (posterior and anterior lobes) either create hormones or receive them from the hypothalamus and use these hormones to act on other endocrine glands.


The thyroid gland is key to helping us regulate our metabolism. Those who have issues with metabolism, and thus potential weight gain issues, often times have issues with their thyroid gland.


The adrenal gland is actually made up of two different glands called the cortex and medulla. These two glands create hormones of their own that are workhorses that respond to stress. They can help regulate blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and the body's salt and water balance¹.


Now that we know what some of the most important parts of the Endocrine System do, let's talk about how our environment can impact the way this system works.


WHAT IS ENDOCRINE DISRPUTION?


According to the EPA, "environmental contaminants can disrupt the endocrine system leading to adverse-health consequences".¹


Endocrine disruption is when our Endocrine System in our body is impacted negatively by chemicals in the atmosphere and environment around us.


If you didn't know, there are a lot of chemicals that can disrupt our Endocrine System. Here are just a few examples²:

  • Phthalates

  • Parabens

  • Glycol ethers

  • Fragrances

  • Cyclosiloxanes

  • Bisphenol A (BPA)

Now normally, one would assume that these chemicals aren't in our products we use in our homes... correct?


I hate to break it to you, but there are a TON of products we use EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. that can disrupt our Endocrine System. Here are just a few shocking examples of products containing Phthalates³:

  • Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion

  • Vaseline Sheer Infusion Vitamin Burst Body Lotion

  • Jergens Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer

  • St. Ives Hydrating Vitamin E Advanced Body Moisturizer

  • Dove Go Fresh Body Mist

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. Here are even more examples of products potentially in our homes that contain one or multiple disruptors mentioned above:

  • John Frieda Frizz Ease Firm Hold Hairspray (contains multiple endocrine disruptors)

  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion (contains parabens and phthalates)

  • Old Spice Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Volcano with Charcoal (contains Cyclosiloxanes)

  • TRESemmé Moisture Rich Shampoo (contains Glycol ethers, fragrance)

  • TRESemmé Moisture Rich Conditioner (contains Glycol ethers, fragrance)

  • LashBlast Volume Waterproof Mascara (contains Parabens)

In my opinion, the most shocking part about all of this is this is not an exhaustive list. There are hundreds, if not thousands of products on our shelves that many of us use on a daily basis that contain chemicals and ingredients like this.


WHY BE CONCERNED?


Many of you may be reading this and asking "okay, but what's the big deal? I've been using these products for a long time and I feel fine. Are you sure this is even real?"


Let me make this perfectly clear: if we continue to consume products that contain chemicals that can disrupt our Endocrine System, we can experience a variety of negative side effects²:

  • interference with reproduction

  • increased cancer risk

  • disturbances in the immune and nervous system function

This affects you if:

  • You are wanting to have children someday - regardless of if you're a man or a woman

  • If you want to stay healthy and not get cancer

  • If you want to improve your immune system and nervous system response to daily stressors

This also affects you if you have young children. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also states that endocrine disruptors can actually cause developmental malformations in young children and babies² if they are exposed to these chemicals from birth.


I gave birth to my daughter in the middle of 2020 (literally the end of June). Being a mother, this throws me into full-on "mom mode". If I had the option, I would never use products or ingredients like this, especially if I knew it could affect her development.


Friends, this is why talking about this subject is so important. We need to be vigilant and mindful about protecting ourselves and our families. It's not just about us anymore.


IS THIS REALLY REAL?


TRIGGER WARNING: these examples I am about to share with you can be quite graphic. Please take note before reading further. However, please also take this as a sign that protecting and caring for our Endocrine System really is this serious. If you would like to skip this section, you can scroll down to the next bolded subject line to continue reading.


Here is what the EPA says about how endocrine disruptors can affect our bodies²:


Disruption of the endocrine system can occur in various ways. Some chemicals mimic a natural hormone, fooling the body into over-responding to the stimulus (e.g., a growth hormone that results in increased muscle mass), or responding at inappropriate times (e.g., producing insulin when it is not needed). Other endocrine disruptors block the effects of a hormone from certain receptors (e.g. growth hormones required for normal development). Still others directly stimulate or inhibit the endocrine system and cause overproduction or underproduction of hormones (e.g. an over or underactive thyroid).
Certain drugs are used to intentionally cause some of these effects, such as birth control pills. In many situations involving environmental chemicals, however, an endocrine effect is not desirable.

To put things in perspective for you, here is one example given by the EPA²:


One example of the devastating consequences of the exposure of developing animals, including humans, to endocrine disruptors is the case of the potent drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen. Prior to its ban in the early 1970's, doctors mistakenly prescribed DES to as many as five million pregnant women to block spontaneous abortion and promote fetal growth. It was discovered after the children went through puberty that DES affected the development of the reproductive system and caused vaginal cancer.

Please don't take this lightly. The endocrine disruptor DES literally was the cause of many children developing vaginal cancer. These chemicals are serious hazards that need to be taken off the shelves, but they are hidden by so many manufacturers that somehow they remain in our stores and in our homes.


IF THEY'RE EVERYWHERE, WHAT CAN I DO?


Although this article may seem incredible depressing, there is real, true hope.


One of the easiest ways you can start avoiding endocrine disruptors is by slowly and intentionally replacing products in your home with clean alternatives to what you already have. Most likely what you already use is working for your family, so often times replacing one-for-one is the way to go!


Here's the big piece of encouragement for you: there really are a lot of brands out there that create all-natural, safe products that you can use in your home that actually work. I know when I first started my all-natural journey, I ran into a lot of products that claimed to be all-natural that either truly weren't, or else didn't work for me and my family.


One thing I will say on this subject is, if you try something and it doesn't work, that's completely okay! Please don't give up; keep trying new things until you find something that does work for your family.


The first step into making this switch is simple: start reading the ingredient lists on your bottles and products! And if that list isn't on there? Look it up before going to the store to purchase more! You can google "endocrine disruptor ingredients" and lists will pop up with words you can match to what's in your ingredient list. That's how I first started learning more about truly all-natural products!


WHAT OPTIONS DO I HAVE?


I can't bring everything to the table right here on this post, but I can give you some suggestions on where to start looking for better alternatives in your home.


I may be biased, but one of my favorite places to get clean products is actually right in our shop! This may sound weird, but yes, I do actually use the products I sell right in my home.


I'm not sure if you've ever noticed this, but have you ever talked to someone that works for a company and swears by the products they create, but then doesn't actually use them? I find this to be true with a lot of leaders on executive boards of larger companies, especially if you watch closely on their personal social media pages (aka you never see them using the products they advertise in real life).


I wanted to mention this to you because I do actually swear by these products, and my family loves them too! If I didn't love them, I wouldn't sell them. It's as simple as that.


Here some of the easiest ways you can switch the products in your home to cleaner alternatives:

  • Foaming Hand Soap - switch from Bath & Body Works to our brand!

  • Hand & Body Lotion - switch from Aveeno to our brand!

  • Perfume & Cologne - switch from department stores to us!

  • Bath Salts - switch from fragrance-filled products to our all-natural alternatives!

  • Lip Balms - switch from synthetic and chemical ingredients to our all-natural ones!

These are just a couple examples, but here are some links that you can check out. Yes, we do actually list all of our ingredients. It truly is as simple as that to create all-natural and clean products. You don't have to add in all the fillers because, quite frankly, they aren't needed.


Foaming Hand Soap - Stay Well

Hand & Body Lotion - Renew & Refresh

Perfume - Cozy Chai

Bath Salt - Rejuvenate

Lip Balm - Raspberry Rose


CONCLUSION


Friends, hear me out. You don't need all those products and chemicals in your life! Do yourself the favor and choose clean products that you can be proud of to put in your home. I believe by educating ourselves in the world around us, our whole body health, and how it affects our daily lives, we truly can make better and more informed decisions that can transform how we live and how we feel. You really can do this!


Stay safe, y'all!






Footnotes:

  1. What is the Endocrine System? | US EPA. (2021). Retrieved 29 July 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/endocrine-disruption/what-endocrine-system

  2. Endocrine Disruptors : OSH Answers. (2021). Retrieved 29 July 2021, from https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/endocrine.html

  3. Phthalates. (2021). Retrieved 29 July 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/phthalates

  4. Cyclopentasiloxane in Cosmetics: Safety and More. (2021). Retrieved 29 July 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/cyclopentasiloxane