Saturday, August 22, 2015

What Does Science Say About Oil Pulling?

Swishing a tablespoon of vegetable oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes to clean teeth--known as "oil pulling"--is the subject of many natural health blogs. It has been traditional practice for centuries in India where coconut or sesame oils have been used. But with all of its history and current popularity, is there actual science to back the reported benefits of oil pulling? Cleaning teeth is one thing, curing diseases as many claim it does, is another.

The Science Behind Oil Pulling

There are a number of studies that have shown the efficacy of oil pulling at cleaning teeth and improving oral health.

This 2015 study found that oil pulling with coconut oil decreased plaque formation and gingivitis.

This 2014 study concluded that oil pulling was as effective as an antiseptic mouthwash in decreasing bad breath. 

This 2011 study found that oil pulling reduced bad breath and bacteria as well as an antiseptic mouthwash.

This 2011 study discovered that during oil pulling, the oil will break down and emulsify with saliva, thus accounting for some of its mechanical cleaning action.

This 2009 study found that oil pulling improved gum health and reduced plaque in children.

This 2008 study found that oil pulling reduced cavity-causing bacteria. 

Other Claims

But, while the scientifically-backed benefits of oil pulling for oral health are clear, larger claims may not be. Reports of various diseases being cured by oil pulling have not been backed with scientific evidence. Balancing hormones, reducing arthritis, reducing insomnia, eliminating allergies, treating chronic pain, etc are some of the unfounded claims you may see. But, while research may not back these claims, some people may still see overall health benefits from oil pulling.

Oral health is strongly tied to our overall health. Patients with mitral valve prolapse (a heart condition that makes one susceptible to infection of the heart among other things) are advised to brush and floss regularly to avoid infections. (Source) Heart disease has been linked to chronic oral infection and inflammation. (Source)(Source) Research has also tied periodontal disease to depression. (Source) Scientists have also implicated periodontal bacteria in oral cancers. (Source) Because oil pulling improves oral health so well, the body may achieve an overall benefit by removing plaque, decay, inflammation, and bacteria from the mouth. What remains to be studied, however, is if there is a benefit of oil pulling over simple brushing of teeth. In some cases, oil pulling may be more effective--due to the amount of time dedicated to the cleaning process--in people that may not be getting their teeth clean enough from brushing. (Perhaps from worn toothbrushes, not brushing long enough, not brushing thoroughly, not flossing, etc) But for others with more thorough brushing and flossing practices, oil pulling may not show much of an overall health benefit.

What are your experiences with oil pulling? Has it helped you?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Foods for Protecting Your Skin

Getting the right balance of sun exposure can be tricky. On one hand, most people in the northern hemisphere are lacking in vitamin D (cholecalciferol, synthesized by the skin when exposed to the sun) which can protect the body from many cancers, in addition to many other health benefits. On the other hand, the sun is officially considered a carcinogen, with damaging UV rays that can lead to skin cancer. So, finding the right balance of sun exposure is a fine line, and is different for everyone depending on your skin's hue, where you live, vitamin D levels, and family history. (Consult your Dr. for recommendations that pertain to your health.)

But, one trick you can have in your arsenal to protect your skin is eating the right foods. UV rays oxidize the oils and other compounds in your skin to create free radicals and damages DNA. We associate sun damage with sunburn, but much of this damage is invisible, taking years to show up to the naked eye. It has been found that diets rich in phytonutrients, omega-3 and omega-9 fats, and low in omega-6 fats, can counteract some of these damaging effects by providing antioxidants to the skin. (Source) Let's take a look at some foods that are rich in nutrition to help support healthy skin.


Resveratrol, found in grape skins, and proanthocyanidins from grape seeds have both been found to have potent anti-oxidant properties. (Source) (Source)

Flax Seeds

With high amounts of fiber for detoxification, and a high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, flax seeds are a healthy skin powerhouse. (Source)


Many studies detail the antioxidant properties of turmeric's active compound, curcumin. One study found turmeric extract to be toxic to certain skin cancer cells.

Bell Peppers

Vitamin C has been found to suppress the growth of skin cell tumors; as one of the foods richest in vitamin C, bell peppers are not just delicious in a fajita, but great for your skin.
(Source) Other foods rich in vitamin C include cherries, kale, broccoli leaves, and blueberries.

Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and Cabbage)

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain a compound called sulforane, a potent antioxidant that's being studied as, among other things, a skin cancer treatment. (Source)

Brazil Nuts

A recent study found that patients with skin cancer had lower levels of zinc, copper, and selenium than those without skin cancer. Brazil nuts have the highest known levels of selenium than any other food, plus a 1 oz serving (6 kernels) supplies you with a quarter of your RDA of copper and 8% RDA of zinc.

Of course nothing is a substitute for a broad-spectrum physical sunblock (or a hat!) when going out in the sun for longer periods of time. (We recommend Badger's line of sunblock products.) But now you can protect your skin from within with some healthy (and delicious) foods.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Benefit to Lead?

By now we've all heard about the controversy of lead in lipsticks and other cosmetic items. And you may be familiar with the fact that in ancient Rome and Egypt, lead compounds were used as primary ingredients in makeups. But you may not know that the Egyptians actually used lead for its benefits. Wait, benefits?

Some ancient texts suggest that lead was used purposefully to treat eye illnesses and skin ailments. So researchers in France decided to delve further in to this mystery. They took samples of ancient makeup from Egyptian tombs and put it under the microscope. An ultramicroelectrode, to be exact. They found that the Egyptians actually synthesized special lead salts, laurionite and phosgenite--not found in nature--specifically for cosmetic use.  Researchers tested these compounds and saw that once applied to skin, the lead ions created a stress response in the keratinocytes (a type of skin cell). Under this stress, the skin cells created an abundance of nitrogen monoxide--a compound known to stimulate a general immune response. Through this this mechanism of stimulating the immune system, researchers concluded these lead compounds may have actually been used to treat eye and skin conditions. (Source)

What does this mean for us in modern times? Not much. There's no action or change I'm suggesting. I'm not proposing the use of lead makeups or medicines and am not contesting the fact that it's a harmful substance. I just found the study to be interesting, historically and biologically, an insight in to the complex mechanisms of the body and its reactions to the toxins around us.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Are There Nanoparticles in Your Non-Nano Sunblock?

Without potential endocrine-disrupting properties like avobenzone and oxybenzene, and free-radical forming properties like titanium dioxide, plus UVB and UVA protection, zinc oxide is the winning choice when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun.

But there's a problem. Zinc oxide imparts a pasty white hue to your skin when you put it on. Manufacturers wanted to harness the power and reputation of zinc oxide but get rid of the whitish hue. So, they started making zinc oxide in nanoparticle form. These tiny particles could be suspended in a cream and are so small that they go on clear. But, we found out that these tiny particles may not be good for your skin, potentially damaging the DNA within skin cells (source). Because they are such small particles, the theory is that they are able to penetrate the skin further and if light bounces off these particles in to the surrounding cells, damage can occur. (However, other studies have found them not to be harmful.)

The public demand for non-nano zinc oxide is large-however people still don't want to look like they've seen a ghost when wearing sunscreen. So, manufacturers continued to develop products. One was micronized zinc oxide. Particles that are smaller than raw zinc, but not small enough to be called nano. While their small size does help, it still does create a whitish hue on skin. Finally, a company out of Australia came up with truly clear non-nano zinc oxide. But there's a caveat--it contains nanoparticles.


This new clear "non-nano" zinc oxide works like this. They broke down the zinc oxide in to nanoparticles. Then, they glued the nanoparticles together, making the overall particle size large enough to be considered non-nano. Misleading? A bit. Harmful? We don't know yet. Probably safe. The larger particle size would keep the zinc from penetrating the skin deeper, but would the sunlight reflecting off the individual particles be harmful? Preliminary studies by the manufacturer has not shown any harm, however, the long-term safety is yet to be seen.

So, the next time that you use a clear "non-nano" sunscreen, know that it's most likely those glued-together nanoparticles.

My top choice for safe sunscreens has always been, and continues to be Badger. I have been in contact with the formulator in charge of their sunscreens and know personally the care they take when formulating their product. They have the resources and equipment necessary to make sure that the zinc is evenly distributed throughout the formula and they go above and beyond with the testing they put the sunscreens through. You can read more about the zinc they use and even see photos of the glued-together nanoparticle zinc oxide here on their website. Badger is a competitor of ours in some categories, but they really are such a standout company, actually have organic certification, and just do things *right* so I don't mind giving them a little publicity.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Is Your Vitamin C Serum Harming Your Skin?

Vitamin C in skincare is a big trend right now in the beauty world. And rightly so! This simple vitamin has been found to scavenge free-radical damage, helps to firm skin and even-out skin tone. But despite the promise that vitamin C brings, some vitamin C products could actually be damaging your skin.

See, the most effective form of Vitamin C is ascorbic acid. (In particular l-ascorbic acid.) This is the form of C that has been studied and found to be so beneficial. But ascorbic acid is a tricky thing. Once it's dispersed in water (or aloe, etc) it starts to degrade fairly quickly, and these products of degradation can end up damaging your skin with free radicals. To remain stable, ascorbic acid in solution needs to remain in a highly acidic state (Source) and also not exposed to air. So, while it is possible to have a stable vitamin C formula, it is difficult. (The formula will turn brown once this happens, so it's fairly apparent.)

So, formulators instead turned to ascorbyl palmitate--a form of vitamin C that's much more stable. Doesn't break down and it's oil-soluble so it's great to put in a serum. Or so we thought. Turns out, once asorbyl palmitate was actually studied, researchers found out that it didn't have the same benefits that ascorbic acid has. Ascorbyl palmitate has to be activated by enzymes in order to do its job as a vitamin, and they found that the enzymes in the skin just didn't do an efficient job of utilizing the ascorbyl palmitate. They also found that when exposed to sunlight, the ascorbyl broke down and created free radicals on the skin. So, the compound that you've been using to try to reverse damage could actually be damaging your skin! (Source)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why the Essential Oil "Crackdown" is a Good Thing

You may have heard the story--on the 22nd of this September 2014, the FDA sent warning letters to both doTerra and Young Living Essential Oils. (See the original letters here, and here.)

If you read sources like Health Impact News you might think that the government is "targeting" essential oils and natural substances and trying to keep us from using natural remedies. (Read their article here.) You might think that the FDA and Big Pharma feel threatened by essential oils. But today I'd like to offer an alternative and "inside" view as to what's really going on behind the warning letters and why they're actually a good thing.

The Law

According to US law, there are three categories of substances: Drugs, Cosmetics, and Supplements.

Any product or ingredient that claims to treat, cure, or prevent disease is considered to be a drug. All active drug ingredients must go through very specific testing procedures and the FDA approval process before they can legally become a drug. When you make a drug claim but the product/ingredient hasn't gone through the approval process, that product then is considered a "misbranded drug" by the FDA. This law was written several decades ago and has nothing to do with the current drug marketplace or corporations that have ties to the FDA.

Young Living Billboard in Salt Lake City
There are exemptions from drug testing requirements for herbs, supplements, and vitamins, but these substances have to be very clearly marked as supplements and have to use very specific language with their claims. For instance you can claim, "supports immune system" but you can't claim that something is anti-viral. You can claim "supports hormonal balance" but can't claim to cure PCOS. [This is from my understanding of the law; if you're selling supplements please make sure you do all your legal due diligence.]

The third category under the law is cosmetics. Cosmetics are meant to cleanse, moisturize, and beautify the body. (Skin, hair, teeth, etc.) As a company that manufactures cosmetics, we have to be careful in the claims that we make. For instance, we can make a cleanser that's meant for cleansing skin, however, saying that the product will treat acne would be making a drug claim. We can make a moisturizer with skin hydrating and softening properties, but can't claim it will be anti-aging, because that is a drug claim.

Are Essential Oils Drugs, Supplements, or Cosmetics?

Most essential oils haven't gone through the necessary testing and approval process to be drugs, so they're not seen by the law as such. Also, they're not intended solely for internal use (and shouldn't be!) so they're not supplements either. So, the category that essential oils are regulated under is cosmetics. Because cosmetics are not meant to treat disease, they cannot claim to prevent the common cold, treat the flu, cure ebola, or have antibacterial action. They are meant to simply smell nice, refresh your room, or perhaps calm your mood. This is why the companies received their warning letters. You can't state that essential oils are going to treat infections, prevent a cold, stop ebola, or cure cancer within the realms of the law. doTerra and Young Living have been marketing their essential oils illegally for years.

Not a Government Conspiracy

There are hundreds of companies breaking FDA regulations on a daily basis. So many that the FDA really doesn't have the manpower to really regulate every single one. It's really only until a company has really hurt someone with their product or is reported several times that the FDA takes notice. And that is exactly what happened with Young Living & doTerra. With a growing list of people that have been injured by reactions due to bad advice from essential oil reps and a petition supported by Aromatherapy United that was circulated and submitted to the FDA, it's no surprise that after years of breaking the law, they finally got a warning.

NOT because the FDA wants us to stop using essential oils. NOT a government conspiracy to promote "Big Pharma."

The Fallout

Comments in response to the news of the warnings have ranged from supportive to outrage. One argument that I've heard is that it's unfair of the government to come in and stop companies from promoting natural substances, and that the essential oil market should be self-regulated. But, in my view, an industry can't be self-regulated if major players in the market are blatantly breaking the law. If you have an industry that's consistently following the country's regulations, the government is going to spend less time worrying about what you're doing. Clearing out the law-breakers from the industry is a step towards self-regulation.

One article in response to the controversy stated that the FDA "refuses to conduct any testing on natural or alternative therapies in order to find out whether they work or not." Well, yeah...that's because the FDA doesn't do ANY testing. Companies that are bringing a new drug to the market do the testing--not the FDA. The FDA simply reviews the studies that the companies submit to them and decide whether or not a substance is approved and how it should be labeled and marketed. (Listing of side effects, etc.)

Insider's View

Governor Herbert on a Young Living Wagon during the 4th of July Parade

I don't feel bad at all for doTerra and Young Living. These are companies based in my home state of Utah. I've seen their multi-million dollar headquarter buildings, freeway billboards, and the millions of dollars they rake in every year. With the business that they do around here, it's hardly the big mean government picking on the little guys. These companies have our local government in their pockets because they are major players in our state's economy. In fact, the Governor's Office of Economic Development gave doTerra a contract for a tax incentive to build their headquarters in 2013 and just announced a state tax credit and contract with Young Living. These companies may have been served with a slap on the wrist from the FDA, but they have the full support of the governor.

Bottom Line

I support essential oils and I don't have anything against the actual products doTerra and Young Living offers. I think it's great that people are looking for alternatives to drugs and are looking to live more holistically. However, I have seen dangerous advice being given out (ingesting certain essential oils, applying it IN people's eyes, applying it straight to the skin) for years by the reps of these companies and people have been hurt. The warning letters are a step toward safety and self-regulation within the aromatherapy community. As a manufacturer of cosmetics who tries to obey the law, I'd rather see a level playing field and everyone striving to label and market products that adhere to the laws of our country.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Looking Ahead to 2015

A few days ago I received this email asking if we were having troubles as a company:
I've noticed over the past year that you guys have been offering more sales than you had in the past.  I'm starting to get worried!  I worry that perhaps the sales are an indication that sales are down overall, and that the company will go out of business if things don't improve.  
We are so glad to have customers that care! Yes, we have been sending out more emails over the last year, but NO this doesn't mean that we're scrambling and close to closing our doors. In fact, it's the opposite! We're stronger than ever and have seen growth every year! There are a few reasons that we've sent out more emails in the past year:

Changes on Facebook
In years past, we were able to reach so many of our customers through Facebook. Commonly we did Facebook flash sales, contests, and other promotions that kept people involved. But with the changes that Facebook has made in the last year or so, we're lucky if 1000 people out of the 20,000 fans we have on our page see our posts. Paying to promote our posts hasn't been effective so we've re-tooled our strategies and focused more on our email newsletter system to keep people in the loop.

Growth in Our Company
We have big plans! A couple months ago we expanded our warehouse to a second building and are working on three more in the same complex. We are currently building the infrastructure to grow our business in some really exciting ways. There is SO much still that we want to do, but simply haven't had the room to do it in. Expanding our production and warehousing will allow us to add more products, build efficiencies so we can do an even higher volume. There will be production equipment we'll be investing in, we're currently working on a new order picking system with software and scanners so orders ship even more quickly than their normal same-to-next day turnaround. We can't get in to a lot of details because our big plans are going to be a surprise. Our new website was only phase 1. The sale's we've been offering keeps cash flow moving, allowing us to invest back in to our company without the need for outside investors.

Fresh Inventory
We always base our sales on current inventory levels. And with more production capabilities than in years past, we have more products to provide. We always strive to send the freshest products possible; when you order from us, the product has in most cases, been made within the last week to a month. Keeping inventory moving is key to freshness, so we may run sales from time-to-time to keep from possibly overstocking an item.

Spreading the Word
The holiday season is a great way that word is spread about our company. Through promotions in the holiday season we're able to reach new customers by word-of-mouth through gifts. So, during the holidays we run some sales. We're wrapping up the holidays and the new year, so you won't likely see storewide sales with the deep discounts we've offered over the last few months. However, we continue to come up with creative ideas for promotions and new products. Plus, we'll continue offering discounts on certain categories so you can always try something new!

Thank you to everyone for your support over the years! This Spring will mark our 8th year in business thanks to our (very!) loyal customers! We are always working to bring you the best of the best organic products and look forward to an amazing 2015!


Bubble & Bee offers the largest line of USDA certified organic products on the market. Many customers have been willing to pay full price to support & ensure that our company will continue to be able to offer these products. Especially when considering the value of the items (with deodorants that last a long time, shower gels that can be diluted, concentrated face cream, etc.) But as the stability of our company increases and we're able to offer higher volume, we can start to afford to offer more discounts. We have always wanted to make organic approachable for everyone, no matter what kind of budget they're on. So, speaking of's a coupon code! Use code JAN5 at checkout to save $5 off your order over $35. (Expires Monday Jan. 12 midnight MST)