Looking at the Research: Preservatives

I love the idea of the Seventh Generation brand. I have been using products from this company for years to clean around my home. Dish soaps, laundry detergent, counter cleaner, bathroom cleaners, you name it. I felt good about these products. Unfortunately about a year ago it became strikingly obvious that the dish soap was one of the causes of my reoccurring contact dermatitis. I have look more into it now and I am unfortunately not alone.

The label for this dish soap lists two synthetic preservatives: benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone. A quick search in pub med central brought me to an article I could share with you all. A review article that comments on both of these preservatives contained more answers to my own skin problem. Take some time and read through this article when you have a chance if you often experience contact allergies. It is also excellent practice to read scientific papers so you can begin to know how to best research for your own needs.

The two chemicals I was interested in were not frequently discussed in this article but the answers were there. Benzisothiazolinone (BIT) was only mentioned a few times in this article but the first mention told me most of what I needed. This molecule is ‘not permitted to be used in cosmetics’ in Europe. While it appeaser that the studies this review looked at did not notice significant reactions to this chemical, there is enough of a concern around it that is already unable to be used in some locations.

Methylisothiazolinone (MI) on the other hand, appears to be my culprit. This chemical was noted to cause 10.9% of positive contact dermatitis reactions, being the third most common contact allergen that was looked at in this review. One of the papers cited in this review even noted how this preservative is sometimes not disclosed on ‘natural’ cleaning products. I am glad that Seventh Generation did list this right on the package and now I feel confident that I will no longer be buying this product or others that I see list MI or the related molecule methylchloroisothiazolinone. Thankfully at least the European union has now changed their legislation due to tests on these molecules being used in cosmetics.

It is very easy to pass over doing the research and learning why you are having a reaction or symptom. Sometimes it is hard to target what it is. It took me a few years of using this soap to see the problem was from the soap. If you are frequently getting rashes and want to know if it is due to methylisothiazolinone you can look through this comprehensive database of products in the United States that contains this chemical.

Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultationsvisit The Dancing Herbalist.com.

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