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Essential Oils vs. Purell

Posted Mar 18 2010 5:23pm

Last weekend at IIN I was chatting it up with some new found friends in the bathroom. As we were leaving the bathroom for the start of class, I walked over to the Purell Hand Sanitizer and pushed twice, dispensing 2 dollops of the clear liquid gel into my hands.  Before I could enjoy the disinfecting bliss, I heard a loud shout, "NOOOOoooo!" My heart jumped. "NOOOOoooo!" It's 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday! Why was my new acquaintance yelling at me?  What could I have possibly done?  Little did I know, I was about to get a lecture on Purell Hand Sanitizer: the hows and whys that it is terrible for you.  I left the bathroom thinking I was going to die because I had used it. Perfect...

So here is what my new friend told me:

1) The alcohol content in Purell is SOO high that it is toxic, especially when absorbed through your skin. She even went as far as to say that the alcohol is absorbed into our organs and poisons them.

2) Purell kills all the good bacteria on your hands as well as the bad.

3) Howie Mandel's (aka germaphobe) excessive use of hand sanitizer has made him highly susceptible to warts and other fungal bacteria on his hands.

4) Use essential oil, like lavender, or softer forms of packaged disinfectants (see Burt's Bees ) to naturally sanitize your hands.

When she finished her rant, I was officially horrified by my history of Purell use and decided that some research must be done to substantiate my concerns. Here is what I found....

The alcohol content in Purell is 62%, which is the necessary amount needed to kill bacteria.  "Two ounces of Purell is equal to 4 shots of alcohol" ( ) or 120 proof already, if you ingest it, the alcohol content is considered potentially harmful, and more so life threatening to young children.  The only information I could find about organ toxicity was on the Skin Deep website.  This information was enough for me to want to do a switcheroo to more natural forms of hand sanitization. Click here to be brought to Skin Deep's page on Purell.

Purell does in fact kill both the good and the bad bacteria.  While, it is good to kill the bad, it is not so great to kill the good.  The good bacteria protects our body from infection as well has helping it to fight the bad bacteria. If we get rid of the good, how will we fight the bad?

As far as the Howie Mandel claim, I have not found any information talking about his susceptibility to warts due to Purell overuse.  I did read that he wears rubber gloves, but only to avoid the germs from day to day contact with surfaces and people. Supposedly.

In researching essential oils as natural antiseptics, I discovered that this claim is true! And not only is lavender a natural disinfectant, but so are clove, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme and pine. There are a lot of interesting websites out there that talk about the use of essential oils for home cleaning and air purification in addition to their antiseptic qualities.  I will list some of these sites at the end of this post.  I do feel obligated to question whether or not a medical professional would support the use of these "natural" or "holistic" disinfectants in a hospital. I HIGHLY doubt it, and so with that said, please use essential oils as you see them pertaining to your life.  For me - a person not wanting to kill the good bacteria - I tested out lavender oil and plan to try Burt's Bees product for potential use after my rides on the NYC subway. 

To summarize my thoughts on this subject:

Essential Oil/Natural Health Store forms of hand sanitizers = BETTER & FUN TO TEST OUT

I now use lavender essential oil and my boyfriend likens me to some kind of witch, or potion maven apothecary. Whatever. It smells good and it is soo relaxing! I have taken to dabbing a bit behind my ears and on my neck before bed and it is lovely.

There are lots of ways to enjoy essential oils other than as sanitizing agents.  They relax and energize, and can be used to support our health in many ways.  This is just the tip of the iceberg - I plan on reading more and more on this subject and promise to share the interesting tidbits along the way.

Here are some of the interesting sites I stumbled across:

Stream of Consciousness

Essential Oils - Their Properties

The Real Essentials

Do you use essential oils and if so, which ones and why? 
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