Have you been reading up on all the dangerous chemicals that are found in everyday cleaning products and even in your personal care items? If you’re like me, you may be alarmed at all these “extras” in your favorite products and concerned about their lasting effects on you, your family, and your pets.
You might be considering turning to natural herbal products but wondering just where to start your journey and what to look for. By following these 5 tips for making your transition, you’ll easily be on your way to enjoying the benefits of nature’s bounty.
1. Start with small changes!
Any major undertaking is never completed in one day, and your transition to using healthier products will be no exception. Some trial and error may be involved in finding the product that works best for your needs, and you may feel overwhelmed with choices if you decide to replace all of your commercially prepared home and personal care products at once. To simplify this process, try one new herbal product at a time.
2. Really read the package label.
Many manufacturers try to appeal to the masses with green-sounding descriptions on their labels. In reality though, the product may be full of the very chemicals their consumers are hoping to avoid. Be skeptical of phrases such as “Made with natural ingredients” or “Contains plant-based components.” While the product may contain some natural or plant-based ingredients, this descriptor does not necessarily mean that the entire product is naturally-based.
Read the ingredient label and take note of whether it includes things like parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, triclosan, or any of the ingredients beginning with “petro.” If you see any of these words, set the product down and continue your search for authentic natural alternatives.
3. Educate yourself!
So you’ve determined that you’d like to start using natural herbal products to limit your exposure to harmful chemicals. That’s great! But aside from the absence of chemicals, how can these herbal products benefit you? Are certain herbs included in these products only because they smell nice, or is there more to it? If you guessed there’s more to it, you’re correct!
Do a little research on the history of certain herbs and learn what their benefits are. For example, your natural cleaning solution likely contains essential oils of lemon and lavender not only because of their pleasant smell, but because both of these act as an effective disinfectant, antibacterial, and antiviral. By learning about the properties and actions of each herb, you are more likely to make the right choices in the products you use.
4. Be willing to experiment.
This goes back to Step 1, and it’s important because herbs have different effects on different individuals. For example, if your friend told you about a great natural rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis hairwash that left her hair gorgeous and shining, you may find that your own results with the same product are nothing special. This doesn’t mean that herbal products don’t work! But it does mean that your body chemistry may work better in conjunction with a different herb, such as lavender Lavandula angustifolia or nettles Urtica urens. Find what works for you and your body chemistry.
5. Make safety a priority!
It’s a common misconception that anything natural must be safe, but this is absolutely not true. Even though you are avoiding exposure to harmful manmade chemicals when you use natural products, you need to keep in mind that certain herbs can interact with some medications or cause symptoms such as skin irritation or sensitivity.
It is also important to realize that herbs have a stronger effect on children, those who are frail, and the elderly, so extra caution is required with usage in these groups (and sometimes avoidance altogether!). Pregnant women should avoid using herbs during their first trimester, and be sure to thoroughly research side effects and contraindications before usage in their 2nd or 3rd trimesters. This need for research applies to nursing mothers as well!
As with anything new, an open mind and a willingness to learn are necessary for a successful transition to herbal products. Remember to ease into this change by learning about and trying one new product at a time, and you’ll be recommending natural products to others before you know it!