To Wash or Not To Wash

Peggy Rickard belongs to the same Landmark Worldwide Center (an international personal and professional growth, training and development landmarkqrcompany) as I do here in Arizona.  I didn’t know her, but she wanted to perform a service project for one of her Landmark courses and she wanted it to deal with the kidneys. The manager of the center – the ever affable Philip Rand – knew I did “something with kidneys,” so he asked if I would call her.  When I did, it turned out that she has a medical advocacy business, but that had nothing to do with her project.

We had a wonderful conversation.  Here was someone in one of my other communities who spoke my kidney language. Peggy had already contacted The National Kidney Foundation of Arizona and learned from Dr. James Ivie, the Director of Patient Services, that what was really needed was to have the information leaflets about kidney disease and donation translated into Spanish since Hispanics are at a higher risk for kidney disease.

Kidney ArizonaMaybe I can pick out a few words of Spanish here and there, but she needed more. I couldn’t translate the leaflets into Spanish for her and didn’t know anyone who could.  That night, I went to the center for the completion session of The Wisdom Unlimited course in which I had been participating. In a greet-those-you-don’t-know moment, I spoke with Nathaniel (Nat) Garcia II – since he was the person directly in front of me – only to discover he is a missionary… and fluent in Spanish…and more than willing to do the translations.  Problem solved.

That got me to thinking about language. While taking a shower the next morning, the bottle of shampoo I was using caught my eye. It had the words ‘sulfate free’ in large letters on the label.  Hmmm, sulfate looks a lot like sulphur.  Are they related?

After checking a bunch of dictionaries, I decided to use the definition of The Medical Dictionary at http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/sulfate since it seemed the simplest to understand.

“a salt of sulfuric acid”

Uh-oh, sulfuric means made of sulfur. Although the spelling may be different, sulfuric acid is highly corrosive. It’s also a mineral… and is used in both waste water treatment and fertilizer creation. Why would shampoo have this as an ingredient in the first place?shampoo

I figured the best person to provide an answer would be a hair stylist so I read Melissa Jongman’s article on http://hubpages.com/style/Sulfates-Are-they-damaging-your-hair-Why-to-opt-for-a-sulfate-free-shampoo

“Sulfates are detergents used to make the shampoo lather. They’re inexpensive to use in shampoos, which explains why more than 90% of shampoos contain them. The most common sulfates used in these shampoos are:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
  • Ammonia Laureth Sulphate (ALS)
  • TEA Lauryeth Sulfate (TEA)
  • Sodium Myreth Sulphate (SMS)”

This was not looking good.  Sulphur is something we, as Chronic Kidney Disease patients, need to avoid. As I explained in What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, sulphur can further damage your already damaged kidneys.

Book CoverSo what can we do?  Not washing our hair is obviously not the answer. I googled shampoos without sulfates and came up with a list of 43 at http://sulfatefreeshampoos.org/sulfate-free-shampoo-list/#list. While the latest edit of this list was during this new year, I am not familiar with the editors nor the products. However, you can safely bet that I’ll try them.

Let’s go back to why sulfates are not good for CKD patients for a minute. I stumbled across a CKD education site called quizlet.com. Perusing this site, I found the statement that

“Very late CKD is due to reduced excretion of sulfates and phosphates.”

Of course! That makes perfect sense: as our kidney function declines, we are not excreting as much of these substances as we did before we were lucky enough (ouch!) to develop CKD and they build up.  That’s CKD 101.

A nervous me decided to see what other beauty or health products used sulfates. I discovered it’s used in body wash (Wait! Isn’t sulfate a skin irritant?), toothpaste, and nail polish. That tripped a thought. Didn’t I blog about that?

I used the search function on the blog only to find that that blog dealt with other chemicals in nail polish.  (Gritting teeth and crying out in anguish) Is nothing safe anymore? All right, pick a chemical… any chemical.

Looking at the ingredients in both hair products and nail polish, I chose phthalates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html helped us out with this one:chemistry

“Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. … They are used in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes)….

How Phthalates Affect People’s Health

Human health effects from exposure to low levels of phthalates are unknown. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals. More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to phthalates.”

Maybe the human health effects are unknown and maybe this passes quickly via the urine, but if you have Chronic Kidney Disease, you are not filtering your blood as well as other people.  Why take a chance of making it worse?

Now that I’ve probably made you fearful of using any beauty product on the market, be aware that there are many products without phthalate. Breast Cancer Action (Yes, there seems to be a connection between breast cancer and phthalates.) at http://www.bcaction.org/our-take-on-breast-cancer/environment/safe-cosmetics/phthalate-free-cosmetics/  offers a list of companies which produce phthalate free beauty aids.

DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAILDigital Cover Part 2 redone - Copy

Let’s talk about service and gratitude for just a minute.  While I’ve always believed in service, it’s only since I’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (way back in in 2008) that I’ve become aware of how very thankful I am for the little things in life – like spreading CKD Awareness by writing this blog, posting some CKD tidbit on Twitter daily, starting an Instagram account for SlowItDownCKD, and offering my books.  Thank YOU for being the readers.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

Back to D

Those of you who know me personally know that this blog is a vacation for me right now.  Between Bear’s back issues, Nima’s upcoming gallbladder removal {that’s one way to rid yourself of a stone, aching backHmmm, that’s not funny, is it?} and my macula degeneration {which I persist in mispronouncing as macula conception for some reason}, it’s good to get back to D.  Vitamin D, that is.  Even more information piled up on my desk about it this week and that’s after not having enough room in last week’s blog to incorporate all the information I had at that point.

The following definition is from MedlinePlus @http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002405.htm.  This is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine  From the National Institutes of HealthNational Institutes of Health which I trust and often cite in the blog:

“Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are essential for normal bone formation. Throughout childhood, your body uses these minerals to produce bones. If you do not get enough calcium, or if your body does not absorb enough calcium from your diet, bone production and bone tissues may suffer.Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in adults or rickets in children.”

So, as adults, we basically need vitamin D to keep our bones healthy, although it does perform other functions such as “regulates calcium and phosphorous blood levels … affects the immune system.” This last definition is from the glossary of What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease. By the way, thank you for keeping the sales going.  Every time I sell a book, it means another one I can donate. {Amazon.com or B&N.com. for digital or print.  Email me at: myckdexperience.com if you’d like a signed copy.}

I did manage to find out why my former nephrologist recommended supplemental vitamin D for me.  If he’d been as quick to answer the more important questions I had when I was his patient, he vit dmight not have become my former nephrologist.  But I do have to admit that as a newly diagnosed patient, I did not leave the poor man alone nor was I gentle in my demands for answers.  By the way, he was impressively gracious when I apologized for that behavior.

Apparently, vitamin D is routinely recommended for those over 60 since – statistically speaking – more than half the people in this age group have a vitamin D deficiency. Once you are tested, the level of the vitamin D in your blood determines whether you will be advised to take a low or high dose supplement. While the normal acceptable range is 30 to 100 {depending upon which lab you use}, mine was 29 back in 2009 when I started taking the supplements.  It did go up to 31 six months later. I still take the supplements to make certain it stays within range. 31 is so low in the acceptable range. I didn’t see it on any of this year’s lab results and intend to rectify that on my next lab date in two weeks.

As you know, I rarely write about children.  However, I noticed a MedPage Today article last week that suggested “There was an association between lower vitamin D levels and worse clinical outcome” in the need for pediatric heart-lung bypass.  It was far too technical for me, but you may want to take a look for yourself – especially since the article mentions pediatric studies “linking vitamin D deficiency with a number of condition such as asthma, acute respiratory infection, and cardiomyopathy {e.g. disease of the heart muscle}, as well as organ dysfunction and length of stay in the pediatric intensive care unit.” The address is: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/HeartTransplanation/40384.

The day before the above article ran, MedPage Today ran another article discussing why low vitamin D levels in whites can lead to a heart risk, but the same low vitamin D levels don’t lead to heart risks in Blacks or Hispanics. I especially like Dr. Keith Norris’s comment on this “…reinforces what we’re seeing in medicine, [which] is a push toward personalized medicine where we’re really looking beyond what happens to a whole group of people, but how do we understand what’s happening at more [of] an individual level.” In other words, a person is a person is a person – even when it comes to their health.  You’ll find this one at: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Endocrinology/GeneralEndocrinology/40368races

MedPage Today seems to be carrying the blog today.  While there was no risk of heart disease due to low levels of vitamin D in Blacks, supplements could possibly lower blood pressure just a bit in Blacks.  So, if you don’t take them for one reason, you take them for another, I guess.  The researchers themselves are not certain, however, whether this study was long enough to prove anything. Still, I found it interesting and you might, too:  http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Hypertension?38398.

Before you get down in the mouth about this information, let’s talk about vitamin D in kidney patients and gum disease {Get it? Down in the mouth? Gum disease? Oh well.} This time, the information is specifically for those with chronic kidney disease (hello!). According to Dr. Jessica Bastos back in April of this year, “This association seems to be mediated through an impairment in clearing bacterial infection due to a decrease in cathelicidin {e.g. antimicrobial polypeptides} production.” There is a purported correlation between low levels of vitamin D and low levels of cathelicidin production.  I don’t know about you, but I intend to print the blog and check that I took my vitamin D today.  My dentist is a nice guy, but this is my mouth we’re talking about. Take a gander: http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/NKF/38254.

I have many more articles in front of me, so I’m going to simply list the areas in which low vitamin D is involved:Book signing

  • cardiovascular
  • chronic kidney disease {the purpose of this blog, lest we forget}
  • health hip fracture risk
  • hepatitis B {Have you decided to take the inoculation against this?}
  • hypertension
  • stroke

Got how dangerous low levels of vitamin D can be?  Good.  Be ready to be confounded.  Another study links low levels of vitamin D with long life.  The  studies suggest, ” that low serum levels of vitamin D are a consequence rather than a cause of disease,” according to its authors.  This is a must read: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Genetics/GeneralGenetics/35767.

Wow, this could have been a four part blog.  Let’s hope you’re confused enough about the benefits {or lack thereof} of vitamin D supplementation to do a little research of your own.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!