Posts tagged: healthy alternative

Why Everyone Is Suddenly Using Crystal Deodorant

Crystal Deodorant Stick
Image © (under license)

As nontoxic and natural cosmetics continue going mainstream, it was only a matter of time before the wave caught up with deodorants. Conscious consumers and health fanatics are currently raving about crystal deodorants, which are touted as healthier alternatives.

What Is Crystal Deodorant?

First things first: Deodorants and antiperspirants are two different products. While the latter blocks sweat ducts, deodorants work by combating odor-causing bacteria. Now that we’re all on the same page, crystal deodorant or “deodorant stones” were first formulated in the 1980’s from French-sourced mineral salt.

How does crystal deodorant work? The product fights bad odor by targeting the bacterial source. But unlike its synthetic counterpart, crystal deodorant does not interfere with the body’s regulatory mechanisms such as temperature regulation and sweating. Other perks include a lack of by-products, toxic residue, and stains from its use.

Similar to standard deodorants, crystal deodorant is applied under the arm – leaving a thin film of salt that is hostile to odor-forming microbes. The application process involves wetting the surface of the stone and rubbing it generously after a shower. Simple and natural!

Why Switch To Crystal Deodorant?

Would you drink a cupful of potentially toxic cosmetic chemicals? The obvious answer is no! Then why would you be comfortable smearing these dangerous ingredients on your skin in the form of antiperspirants and deodorants every day? It’s estimated that 9 in every 10 Americans [1] use deodorants as part of the prevailing social norms or simply smell better. While this is quite understandable, have you considered the safety of the deodorant products you apply under your arm?

Most standard antiperspirants and deodorants contain a concoction of potentially hazardous chemicals such as diethanolamine, triethanolamine, triclosan, parabens, and aluminum. Some of these chemical ingredients are associated with an increased risk of cancer, hormonal disruption, allergies, and CNS disorder. When you use these products, some of the substances are absorbed into the body.

For example, animal studies [2] show that triclosan interferes with hormone activity. Similarly, an article [3] published in the Journal of Organic Biochemistry claims that aluminum found in antiperspirants causes gene instability, increasing the risk of tumors and cancer cells. Although these studies do not provide hard evidence regarding the carcinogenic properties of deodorants and antiperspirants, they are definitely a cause for concern.

If you are concerned about the negative impacts of standard deodorants on your skin, the best way to prevent exposure to potentially harmful toxins is by ditching the products. And unless you are comfortable walking around with a stinky underarm, we’d advise you to acquire natural crystal deodorant. The deodorants kill bacteria, keeping you fresh for up to 24 hours. Besides, did you know that crystal deodorants are verified by the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep Cosmetics Database? [4]


[1] Fontanez, S. (2008). Body Odor Through the Ages: A Brief History of Deodorant. Retrieved 25 October 2019, from

[2] Veldhoen, N., Skirrow, R. C., Osachoff, H., Wigmore, H., Clapson, D. J., Gunderson, M. P., … & Helbing, C. C. (2006). The bactericidal agent triclosan modulates thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and disrupts postembryonic anuran development. Aquatic toxicology, 80(3), 217-227.

[3] Darbre, P. D., Mannello, F., & Exley, C. (2013). Aluminium and breast cancer: Sources of exposure, tissue measurements and mechanisms of toxicological actions on breast biology. Journal of inorganic biochemistry, 128, 257-261.

[4] Browse Products || Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database | EWG. (2019). Retrieved 25 October 2019, from

Broccoli Extract Shows Promise For Type 2 Diabetes

Broccoli Extract Shows Promise For Type 2 Diabetes
Graphic – Image sources – see foot of article

Type 2 Diabetes is a global epidemic affecting over 422 million people worldwide. With numerous complications ranging from blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and amputations, it is more than a blood sugar problem. [1] Given such grave implications, the search for a more effective, safe, and affordable treatment has never been more in need of urgency.

Surprisingly, the search for the latest development in diabetes treatments may find its answer within the humble vegetable, the broccoli.

In a human trial study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers discovered that concentrated broccoli sprout extract may help patients with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. For 12 weeks, 97 type-2 diabetic participants were given broccoli sprout extracts and then monitored for changes in blood glucose levels. After the specified period, it was clear to the researchers that the extract was exerting a favorable effect. The obese participants showed a 10 percent decrease in fasting blood sugar levels compared to the control group. The exact reason why it seems to work better for those patients who are obese is not yet clear. Although 10 percent may seem like a small reduction, it is a significant improvement considering the fact that for every 1 percent decrease reduces the risk of eye, nerve, and kidney damage by 40 percent. [2]

The researchers attributed this effect to a compound found in broccoli called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane had already been found to exert a hypoglycemic effect in animal models by blocking liver cells from producing glucose. This, in theory, explains the observed effect in the human study. [3]

Despite these promising results, researchers are quick to point out that the research work has a long way to go. The test subject is small and the trial period is short. Still, they remain optimistic and are looking forward to doing more tests. But that needn’t stop you: Broccoli, noted for numerous other health benefits, is a wonderful addition to the diet. Steam lightly with a small amount of butter and you have an excellent, nutritious side dish that may also have remarkable healing qualities.


[1] Diabetes

[2] Diabetes HbA1c

[3] Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes (2017)

Infographic photo sources: (PD)

Astaxhanthin: The Miracle Supplement?

Astaxanthin - The Miracle Supplement
Images – pixabay (PD), Frank Fox – (lic under CC 3.0), ©

Astaxanthin (pronounced “asta-ZAN-thin”) is a deep red-orange marine carotenoid pigment that occurs naturally in salmon, Pacific and Antarctic krill, rainbow trout, lobster, yeast, microalgae, Arctic shrimp and other sea creatures. Astaxanthin is considered one of the most powerful naturally-occurring antioxidants and has been called a “Master Antioxidant” and “King of the Carotenoids”, due to its superlative potential for free radical scavenging in the human body.

It has been linked by researchers to many potential health benefits including healthier skin, physical endurance, heart health, joint pain, anti-inflammatory and may have anti cancer effects. Numerous studies have indicated that astaxanthin has potential health-promoting effects in the prevention and treatment of various diseases including chronic inflammatory diseases, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, diabetic nephropathy, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, liver diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, eye diseases, skin diseases, exercise-induced fatigue and male infertility.

Carotenoids have gained much attention in recent years due to their beneficial effects on human health. Around 750 carotenoids have been identified and researched and they are most typically known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. [1]

Astaxanthin 6067x Stronger Antioxidant Than Vitamin C:

In 2007 scientists ran tests to determine the “singlet oxygen quenching rate constants” (antioxidant ability) for numerous dietary antioxidants. This, in simple language, indicates their potential as free radical scavengers. The results were astounding. [2]

Astaxanthin was found to be a much more powerful antioxidant than β‐carotene, α‐tocopherol, lycopene, lutein and other members of the carotenoid family. The study found astaxanthin 6,067x stronger than vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid), 794x stronger than CoQ10 (ubiquinone), 562x stronger than green tea catechins (Epigallocatechingallate), 75x stronger than alpha lipoic acid and 40x stronger than β‐carotene! Astaxanthin in fact “beat all comers” including curcumin, resveratrol, lycopene, zeaxanthin and lutein.

However unlike β‐carotene and lycopene, Astaxanthin can cross the blood–brain and blood–retinal barriers, and so may exert its positive effects on the brain and eyes.

Astaxanthin For Eye Health:

Clinical trials have demonstrated that astaxanthin gives support with eye conditions and general eye health – including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, eye strain and fatigue and seeing in fine detail. [3][4][5][6][7][8]

Astaxanthin As Neuroprotective And Cognition Enhancer:

Most of the neurological benefits provided by seafood consumption are regarded as deriving from omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. However studies of astaxanthin have demonstrated results against free radical-promoted neurodegenerative processes and cognition loss. [9] It has the capability to cross the blood-brain barrier and is receiving attention for its effect on the prevention or co-treatment of neurological pathologies, including Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. [1] Recent study has also found that astaxanthin ameliorates cognitive impairment in cases of “chemobrain” – a condition experienced by a high proportion of cancer patients given chemotherapeutic treatment. [10] A 12-week study found both high dosage (12mg) and low dosage (6mg) improved cognitive health scores in 96 middle-aged and elderly test subjects. [11]

Sources And Production Of Astaxanthin:

Astaxanthin is produced both naturally and through chemical synthesis; thus if you are seeking a natural form, be sure to specify this when purchasing.

Astaxhanthin has been approved as a feed ingredient for salmon and contributes to the color of farmed salmon. It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and in the EU it has the food additive number E161j. [12]

Most of the astaxanthin which is used for aquaculture is produced synthetically; however natural, GMO-free astaxanthin is available in supplement form. Natural-source astaxanthin is typically isolated from microorganisms. The fast-growing microalga Haematococcus pluvialis is the primary source for natural astaxanthin production and is thought to contain the highest level found in nature, with 40g of astaxanthin being obtained from one dry kilogram of the microalga. Other microorganism sources include the yeast Phaffia rhodozyma and the appropriately named gram-negative aerobic bacterium Paracoccus carotinifaciens. [13]

Digging further into this to learn whether GMO techniques are used, I found the GRAS application of one manufacturer who reported that while a mutant strain of P. carotinifaciens was used for the production of the astaxanthin, this was developed “using classical mutation and selection techniques and has not been subjected to genetic engineering.” [14] The inference here, however, is that GMO techniques may be used either now or at some point in the future and thus the buyer should be fully aware of the source in order to make an informed choice.

How To Take Astaxanthin:

Astaxanthin occurs in small quantities in salmon, krill, crayfish and shrimp but in order to achieve its full therapeutic potential, supplements are generally recommended.

165 grams (5.8 ounces) of wild salmon daily would be required in order to get a 3.6 milligram dose, which is considered beneficial to health. Now I love salmon but to match this you would have to chomp through an unreasonable amount of wild salmon, 7 days per week – and the quantity of astaxanthin in farmed Atlantic salmon is lower still. [15]

Dosage: A typical one-a-day astaxanthin supplement might contain 1.5 to 9mg. Studies [11] have tested 12mg per day in 96 subjects for 12 weeks without note of adverse effects. One study gave a single 100mg dose to three volunteers – with food. Plasma concentration peaked at 6.7 +/- 1.2 hours and after 72 hours, 12% remained. Side effects were not noted. [16]

Like CoQ10, astaxanthin is lipid-soluble thus best taken with food in order to facilitate optimal uptake. Taking astaxanthin with fish oil has been found to provide increased benefits in terms of antioxidant, immune response and infectious disease risk reduction characteristics. [17]

The usual caveat applies: This article is not a medical recommendation. Ask your Doctor before using supplements, especially if you are using medications.

Further Reading:

100 Science-Supported Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer


[1] Galasso C. Et al. (2018). On the Neuroprotective Role of Astaxanthin: New Perspectives?

[2] Y. Nishida (Carotenoid Science, 2007) Quenching Activities of Common Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidants against Singlet Oxygen Using Chemiluminescence Detection System.

[3] Iwasaki Tsuneto, Tahara Akihiko. Effects of Astaxanthin on Eyestrain Induced by Accommodative Dysfunction. Journal of the Eye 2006; 23: 829-834.

[4] Nagaki Y., Hayasaka S., Yamada T., Hayasaka Y., Sanada M., Uonomi T. Effects of Astaxanthin on accommodation, critical flicker fusion, and pattern visual evoked potential in visual display terminal workers. Journal of Traditional Medicines 2002: 19 (5), 170 – 173.

[5] Nagaki Yasunori et al. The Effect of Astaxanthin on Retinal Capillary Blood Flow in Normal Volunteers. Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines Vol.21;No.5;537-542(2005).

[6] Sun Z, Liu J, Zeng X, Huangfu J, Jiang Y, Wang M, Chen F. Protective actions of microalgae against endogenous and exogenous advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) in human retinal pigment epithelial cells. Food Funct. 2011 May;2(5):251-8. doi: 10.1039/c1fo10021a. Epub 2011 Apr 21.

[7] Ishida S. Lifestyle-related diseases and anti-aging ophthalmology: suppression of retinal and choroidal pathologies by inhibiting renin-angiotensin system and inflammation. Article in Japanese: Nihon Ganka Gakkai Zasshi. 2009 Mar;113(3):403-22; discussion 423. Review. Japanese.

[8] Liao JH, Chen CS, Maher TJ, Liu CY, Lin MH, Wu TH, Wu SH. Astaxanthin interacts with selenite and attenuates selenite-induced cataractogenesis. Chem Res Toxicol. 2009 Mar 16;22(3):518-25. doi: 10.1021/tx800378z.

[9] Barros, M., Poppe, S. & Bondan, E. (2014). Neuroprotective properties of the marine carotenoid astaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids, and perspectives for the natural combination of both in krill oil.

[10] El-Agamy SE (2018) Astaxanthin Ameliorates Doxorubicin-Induced Cognitive Impairment (Chemobrain) in Experimental Rat Model: Impact on Oxidative, Inflammatory, and Apoptotic Machineries.

[11] Mikiyuki Katagiri et. al. (2012) Effects of astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract on cognitive function: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

[12] Astaxanthin – Wikipedia.

[13] Yuan JP et. Al. (2011) Potential health-promoting effects of astaxanthin: a high-value carotenoid mostly from microalgae


[15] Ranga Rao Ambati et. al. (2014) Astaxanthin: Sources, Extraction, Stability, Biological Activities and Its Commercial Applications—A Review.

[16] Osterlie, M et. al. (2000) Plasma appearance and distribution of astaxanthin E/Z and R/S isomers in plasma lipoproteins of men after single dose administration of astaxanthin.

[17] Otton R. et. al. (2012) Combined fish oil and astaxanthin supplementation modulates rat lymphocyte function.