According to a recent article by The Guardian, Triclosan was introduced into common household products when Americans became more germ-phobic. The whole anti-bacterial phase has been going strong for the last twenty years, encouraging people to wash with antibacterial soap promising to destroy the evil nemesis – bacteria. However, the facts prove this simply isn’t true.
The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) published an article in 2012 explaining that Triclosan showed disruption in hormone regulation in animals. While the FDA is clear to explain that animal testing does not equate to human testing, they also state that their concern over Triclosan needed further review. Fast forward to 2015, an article in The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy published by the Oxford University Press concludes:
“Antibacterial soap containing triclosan (0.3%) was no more effective than plain soap at reducing bacterial contamination when used under ‘real-life’ conditions.”
Asserting from this publication, all you need is regular soap. The real propagation is about how someone washes his/her hands as opposed to with what. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends washing your hands for twenty seconds (the length of time it takes you to hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice).
Not all chemicals are evil. In fact, humans are comprised of a multitude of chemicals: “Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium.”
Chemicals can only become problematic when they disrupt the natural functions of the human system. University of Chicago professor Jack Gilbert (Ecology and Evolution; Surgery) and Microbiology and ISTP graduate student Alyson L. Yee have published a paper explaining that triclosan, a chemical commonly found in antibacterial products such as soap and toothpaste, may be disrupting the human microbiome.
The human microbiome are the flora and bacteria that grows inside of the human gastrointestinal system. These bacteria are necessary to maintain the proper balance and order of our system; it helps us digest our food, fight off “bad” bacteria, eat away waste products, and help our immunity.
Yee and Gilbert explore the effects of Triclosan in the microbiome of fish explaining: “Triclosan exposure resulted in substantial topological changes to microbial correlation networks, indicating that exposure might alter how microbes interact and communicate with one another in the gut.” The authors suggest that further studies are needed to understand the chemical’s effects on the human body.
Finally, it has been suggested that Triclosan may be contributing to the worldwide phenomena of bacterial resistance. As more people continue to use antibacterial products, the bacteria has evolved to become resistant to antibiotic medications. This has the potential to cause a worldwide threat as numerous disease have almost become defunct because of antibiotics, such as tetanus, rabies, polio, yellow fever and more – the goal is to maintain the antibiotics to keep these diseases at bay.
As we know, if we fight nature, nature will always prevail, so it is up to our daily behavior to create lasting changes. Along with washing your hands and body with antibacterial soap, it’s imperative to understand that Triclosan will then get washed down our drains and into the water system – what seems like a small, repeated action actually has long-term and global effects.
A simple change: Use natural, regular soap that is free of Triclosan and unnecessary detergents. Science proves it’s just as effective as getting a person clean, without harming your microbiome (gut), or contributing to bacterial resistance.
Want more information? Click the links in this article for all of the references used.