Fresh or foul? Smells are all around us – how significant are they? (Part 1)
As I sit on the California Zephyr heading from San Francisco to Iowa we are currently travelling through forests of trees and I can imagine the smell outside the window. Our sense of smell is powerful and carries many associations. But when it comes to the fragrances in my home I made huge changes 11 years ago. Until then I hadn’t really thought that much about the “clean” smell bursting out of the dishwasher when I opened the door and the dishes were still hot, or the “soft” smell from my newly washed and dried towels.
My change to safer, cleaner laundry and kitchen products and the accompanying reduction of synthetic smells in my home was rapid, when my daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. She was only 9 when she developed an ulcer on her shin which grew rapidly with great pain and led to us developing a close relationship with the children’s hospital where she was diagnosed with Pyoderma gangrenosum. It was scary, as more of the ulcers started on the other leg and her hand, we were incredibly grateful to the kind nurses and doctors, but they didn’t have a lot to offer in terms of treatment other than pain killers and careful wound dressing.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “no one knows exactly what causes pyoderma gangrenosum, but it appears to be a disorder of the immune system. … scarring and recurrences are common.” As a researcher I read and sought advice from medical practitioners, no one knew why her autoimmune system had gone into overdrive, as the first ulcer necrotized and grew, and her little body did not respond to the steroid treatment. But it seemed logical to do everything possible to reduce all possible causes of inflammation. I started to review everything that went on or in her body.
I learnt more about the impact of everyday personal care and household products. So I set about reducing the toxins in our home as well as addressing her diet to increase nutrient density and haunting the internet late at night hunting for answers. It took a few months to see progress, but the nurses and doctors were impressed at how quickly we managed to bring the disease under control.
In our home I tried assorted natural and alternative cleaning and laundry products before settling on the products I still recommend today. Some alternative products I used seemed ok but weren’t very effective or reliable. Finding products that were healthier, but still worked was important to me, plus the products I recommend are manufactured by an ethical company, that has no animal testing and environmentally friendly practices. I enjoy knowing that we have reduced the air pollution load in our home and am still surprised by the heavy synthetic smells I sometimes encounter when visiting others.