8 Bizarre Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

by Vanessa Grassi

You may have noticed your beloved pearly whites transforming into a darker shade over the years. While it’s natural for teeth to become more discolored with time, white smiles are much more ideal. People have spent so much money on teeth whitening products and expensive laser treatments, contributing to a multi-billion dollar industry (according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry). From bleaching trays to whitening kits and bleaching lights, there are a number of other ways to achieve that bright smile. Most of the time, these methods aren’t proven to work, and may even end up causing you more health problems. For bleaching junkies, remember that dental hygiene should be a priority over just pure aesthetic appearances. Here are eight bizarre (and unproven) ways to whiten your teeth.

1. Using Orange Peels: Featured on The Ellen Show as one of the best teeth whitening home remedies, merely rubbing an orange peel on your teeth can solve your teeth discoloration problem. Apparently the soft white inside of an orange has whitening properties. There hasn’t been much research on this, nor can anyone attest to how long lasting this method is, but at least you won’t be using harmful artificial chemicals in the process.

2. Making Strawberry Toothpaste: The logic here is that strawberries contain malic acid, an enzyme found in some whitening toothpastes. Rubbing strawberries or creating a paste from them is supposed to act as a natural cleaning, removing bacteria from your mouth. Be wary of getting the seeds stuck in your teeth, though, if you’re planning on trying this.

3. Biting on Crunchy Fruits & Vegetables: The abrasiveness of crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery act like natural stain removers. Because your mouth needs to produce more saliva (your body’s built-in cleaning agent) in order to chew these crunchy foods, it naturally whitens your teeth in the process. It wouldn’t be bad idea to eat more fruits and vegetables to begin with, as these foods are high in vitamin C, which has great abilities in preventing gum disease and gingivitis.

4. Rubbing Crushed Walnuts: In some cultures, crushing walnuts down to a small enough size to rub them on your teeth actually whitens them. Be careful to remove all of the hard outer shell, as you may damage the enamel of your tooth and irritate your gums. Walnuts are supposed to be natural cleaners for your teeth, preventing yellowing and keeping your mouth bacteria-free.

5. Gargling White Vinegar: White vinegar has many home remedy uses, and teeth whitening is one of them. Unfortunately, it is also an acid, so too much exposure to your teeth may damage the protective enamel layer. In moderation, it may be helpful to dilute the white vinegar with water prior to gargling. As expected, vinegar isn’t the most pleasant kind of mouthwash, so rinse your mouth with water to get rid of the acidic taste.

6. Swishing Coconut Oil in Your Mouth: The many wonderful properties of coconut oil include clearing up your skin, and even possibly whitening your teeth. If you’re a fan of coconut and want to try, simply swish a tablespoonful of coconut oil in your mouth for about 10 minutes. The oil is supposed to absorb heavy metals in your body (and on your teeth), leaving it feeling cleaner and smoother.

7. Using Sage (Salvia) Leaves: Apparently brushing your teeth using the leaves of sage (salvia) is an effective method for teeth whitening. Sage leaves have a strong odor, though, that some people may not enjoy. However, they are popular in the realm of herbal medicine, treating sweating problems and maybe even whitening teeth.

8. Brushing Teeth With Wood Ash: Probably the most bizarre way of achieving a whiter smile, is to brush your teeth with wood ash (i.e. from your fireplace.) The only reason why this would work is because wood ash contains potassium hydroxide. In reality, it’s as dangerous and unpleasant as it sounds, as the harshness of the potassium hydroxide could really damage your teeth.

Better Skin Through Ayurveda

by Jen Quinlan

Vata = Dry Skin

To Cleanse: Mix 1 tsp almond meal, ½ tsp dry milk, 1 pinch sugar. Store in a spice jar.

In your palm, make paste using ¼ tsp cleanser & warm water. Apply it over face and neck and gently massage into the skin for about one minute. Do not scrub. Rinse well with warm water. Do not dry. If skin is very dry, instead just wash with a mixture of 1 Tbsp heavy cream & 2 drops of lemon juice.

To Nourish: Mix 1 oz sesame oil, 10 drops geranium oil, 5 drops each neroli and lemon oil. Store in dark glass bottle with a dropper. In the palm, mix 3 drops of nourishing oil & 6 drops water. While skin is still wet, massage mixture all over face and neck until oil is absorbed.

To Moisturize: Melt 1 ½ oz cocoa butter in double boiler. Add 4 oz. avocado oil & remove from heat. Add 1 oz orange tea a drop at a time while stirring. When cool, add 3-4 drops each geranium and rose oil. Gently apply moisturizing cream over surface of skin and neck. Do not massage into skin.

Pitta = Sensitive Skin

To Cleanse: Mix 1 tsp almond meal, ½ tsp dry milk, ½ tsp ground orange peel. Store in a spice jar. In your palm, make paste using ¼ tsp cleanser mix & rosewater. Massage paste over face and neck gently for 1 minute. Do not scrub. Rinse with cool water. Do not dry. If skin is very sensitive, use the cleanser only at bedtime. In the morning, wash only with plain heavy cream. Rinse with cool water & continue with normal nourishing and moisturizing steps below.

To Nourish:  Mix 1 oz almond oil, 10 drops each rose & sandlewood oil. Store in dark glass bottle with dropper. In your palm, mix 2-3 drops of nourishing oil w/4-6 drops water. While skin is wet, gently massage mixture all over face and neck for 1 minute.

To Moisturize: Melt 1 oz cocoa butter in double boiler. Add 3 oz sunflower oil & remove from heat. Using a dropper, add 2 oz rose tea one drop at a time while stirring. When cool, add 5-6 drops sandalwood oil. Gently apply to face and neck (don’t massage into skin).

Kapha = Oily Skin

To Cleanse: Mix 1 tsp barley meal, ½ tsp lemon peel, ½ tsp dry milk. Store in spice jar. In palm, make paste using ½ tsp cleanser & warm water. Massage paste into face & neck for 1 minute. Do not scrub. Rinse with warm water. Do not dry. Don’t use soaps or astringents containing alcohol.

To Nourish: Mix 1 oz sunflower oil, 10 drops lavender oil, 5 drops each bergamot and clary sage oil. Store in glass jar with dropper. In your palm, mix 2 drops of nourishing oil & 4 drops water. While skin is wet, gently massage mixture all over face and neck for 1 minute.

To Moisturize: Melt 1 oz cocoa butter in double boiler. Add 3 oz almond, safflower or canola oil. Remove from heat. Using dropper, add 2 oz rosemary or basil tea one drop at a time while stirring. When cool, add 1 drop camphor oil, 2 drops bergamot oil & 3 drops lavender oil. Gently apply cream over face and neck.

Weekly Exfoliating Mask:
Dry Skin: Banana or avocado pulp
Sensitive Skin: Banana or pineapple pulp
Oily Skin: Strawberry or papaya pulp

Apply to face and neck and lie down for 10-15 minutes with legs up to increase blood supply to the face. Rinse with water, then nourish and moisturize.

Tuning In To Your Skin: Who Are You?

Vata = Space+Air

The best ayurvedic text, the Chakra Samhita, defines a Vata dosha as dry, rough, cool, lacking weight, tiny, always moving, broad, and unlimited, or unbound. Vatas are more slender and have dry, delicate skin and hair with lots of volume. Quick in speech, thought, and action.  They make friends with ease. They are light sleepers and more often than not choose warm climates to live in. They thrive on creativity and are very enthusiastic. Factors that can cause Vata to be thrown out of balance are foods that are raw or dry, and over consumption of ice-cold beverages as well as extreme cold winds. Daily routine, travel, and mental overexertion also throw Vata for a loop.

Pitta = Water+Fire

Pittas are hot, sharp, burning, flowing, and pungent. Pitta is like gasoline; can be ignited if out of balance. Pitta are more medium proportions with warm, fair skin. They are sensitive and have fine hair that may have premature graying or thinning. They have a set goal and purpose with each step and are sharp and determined in speech, thought, and action. They also tend to be light sleepers and live in cooler climates. Self confidence with strong entrepreneurial ambitions. If you are Pitta you will become unbalanced with spicy food, if you skip a meal, if you are too hot, or if there is emotional trauma.

Kapha = Earth+Water

A Kapha is cold, soft, sweet, and slippery. They tend to be larger, robust people. Their skin is often oily and they have rich wavy hair. They are stable, calm, and very easy going. They are steady in their step while loyalty is their middle name. They are heavy sleepers and uncomfortable in clammy, damp or dank environments. Their dispositions are calm and sweet. Kapha balance can be thrown off by fried, heavy, or sweet foods. Ice cold beverages also cause havoc as well as cold temperature, daytime sleeping and lack of exercise.

Smell Good, Naturally…

by Melissa Ida and Rebecca Gorski

It’s no secret that our personal care products are laden with chemicals and they are bad for us. As with anything you put in or on your body, you need to know what is in that product. We have to be very vigilant consumers and learn to read the ingredients, not just the pretty words on the front of the product packaging. There is no regulation for “natural”, and that’s no secret. The fun part becomes learning what to look for and how to avoid those things.

In addition to shampoos, lotions, soaps, and sun screens, deodorants are on the must-know-what’s-in-them-before-I-put-them-on-my-body list. How bad are deodorants and antiperspirants and how do you know what to look for?
Here is a list of chemicals frequently found in deodorants that you should definitely avoid:


What it is:
One of the most common elements in our environment and the world’s most common metal, it is used for many things, including our personal care products.

What it does:
It restricts the sweat from releasing through your underarms, thus letting you remain odor-free. However, in that process, the antiperspirant is absorbed by your body, aluminum included. The toxins that should be releasing themselves from your body go back in and are absorbed.

Problems with this include: a suspected link between Alzheimer’s disease and toxicity of aluminum (The World Health Organization, 1993), and it may be linked to problems with the sweat glands and lymph glands in and around underarms.

What can you do about it?

The biggest thing you can do to control the scent of what comes out of your body is to alter what you put into it. Foods that cause foul odors include: large quantities of red meat (causes stagnation) and  highly processed dietary foods lacking in fiber but high in white flour, sugar, and hydrogenated oils. Foods that help: plant-based foods like whole grains, leafy greens, fresh fruits, sprouts, raw nuts and seeds, healthy oils, parsley, cilantro, celery, mint, and the aromatic herbs sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. The chlorophyll and other phytonutrients cleanse from the inside out.

Eliminate or reduce problem-causing foods and increase natural foods and you might still sweat when you’re hot and overworked — but you might not smell so bad when you do.


What it is:
This is one of the most common antimicrobial agents used in antibacterial soaps, detergents, deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, towels, mattresses, and so on. It was initially developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals. The surprising news is that in 2005 the FDA found no evidence that antibacterial washes containing triclosan were superior to plain soap and water for protecting consumers from bacteria.

What it does:
It is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity and low levels may disrupt thyroid function.  Some studies show that the triclosan could react with chlorinated water to produce chloroform, a probable human carcinogen.

What you can do about it:
Avoid personal care products with triclosan and triclocarban on the ingredients label. In addition, do not use antibacterial soap or other antibacterial products.


What it is:
According to the EPA, formaldehyde is a probable carcinogen, though the risk of cancer from absorption through the skin is not fully understood. The chemical can also trigger adverse skin reactions in children and adults who are sensitive to the chemical. Contact dermatitis specialists recommend that children avoid exposure to products containing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives called formaldehyde releasers break down over time in the container.

What it does:
When used in deodorants and antiperspirants, formaldehyde comes into direct contact with the skin and is absorbed through its pores. When absorbed or inhaled, this chemical  can cause short-term and/or long-term effects. Short-terms effects, such as skin sensitivity, rashes, and allergic skin reactions,  have all been linked to formaldehyde use.  Long-term effects, however, may be much more severe. Past studies have shown a correlation between formaldehyde use and leukemia and brain cancer.

What can you do about it?
Avoid roll-on antiperspirants that list formaldehyde-containing preservatives such as Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15 on their labels. By substituting preservative-packed antiperspirants with more natural deodorants, you will be doing your body a favor. Deodorants with plant-based, biodegradable ingredients ensure a healthier you and a greener environment.

Smelly and Good Choices!!

Lime Mint & Lovage Deodorant
Enjoy our refreshing lime mint and lovage scented deodorant with quality direct from our organic herb fields, nurtured through hand processing, and infused with the desire to bring nature’s healing to your well being. $8.00 fourelementsherbals.com

Coconutty is probably the world’s only deodorant with powdered coconut milk, both creamed and desiccated coconut and coconut oil to help it stay in place all day. $7.95, lushusa.com

Aromaco Deodorant
Aromaco Deodorant is our cooling, patchouli scented deodorant block based on an infusion of astringent witch hazel and chamomile vinegar. This also has odor-bashing baking soda in it too, so use it on your feet, your armpits and anywhere else you want to keep smelling fresh and lovely. (Vegan)  To Use:  Apply directly to underarms, feet or anywhere that needs a little stink control. Sold by weight, $6.95

T’eo Deodorant
It contains effective essential oils that get to work quickly and efficiently on the bacteria that live on your skin and effectively breaks down sweat. Lemongrass and tea tree oil to kill unpleasant microbes, juniper berry oil to purify and detoxify, and fresh grape juice which acts as a gentle astringent. (Vegan)  To Use:  Apply directly to underarms, feet or anywhere that needs a little stink control. $7.95

The Guv’ner
The Guv’ner has come to us fresh from the LUSH kitchens — and it’s our strongest, most effective deodorant yet. The Guv’ner was created for the boys. $9.95 lushusa.com

Quick Facts About Your Skin:

“Aluminum can be absorbed into the skin,” explains Dr. Kris McGrath, a Chicago-based allergist. “When it breaks free, it’s highly charged and may affect DNA, which can increase the risk of cancerous cells.”

“Parabens, which are used as preservatives, can behave like a weak form of estrogen — and high estrogen levels over long periods of time may be linked to breast cancer risk.”

Pass the Salt

Not so long ago, “natural deodorant” meant scraping a cold salt rock against your skin or laying heavy on the patchouli in the hopes of masking odor. While these protections did little to stave  off sweat, they offered an alternative to conventional B.O. busters — and their accompanying health risks.

Awesomely Chemical Free Choices

When it comes to buying natural and chemical free products, it’s always great to look locally in addition to national brands.  Wisconsin is a hotspot of locally, naturally and chemical free products. Here are a few of both choices to help you green your shower a bit more.

Just Products

Moisturizing Body Wash
Bubbles abound and fragrances will swirl when you pamper your skin with our moisturizing body wash! Choose between our classic Lavender Blend or the fresh Radiant fragrance. Handcrafted to be as good for your skin as it is for the planet! Your skin will be clean, soft and smell fantastic! Formulated for my kids’ skin… you’ll think I spoil them rotten!

12 Oz.  $12.00 | trustjust.com

Handmade Natural Beauty Products

Soap & Shampoo Bar
Peppermint & Tea Tree Oil Soap

This peppermint and tea tree oil soap is invigorating and is a fragrant handmade soap. It produces a very intense and stimulating rich lather; perfect as a refreshing good morning soap. Also an excellent foot soap used in conjunction with the Peppermint & Tea Tree Oil Foot Scrub and Foot Balm Bar. Additionally, it has been reported that this makes an excellent face and complexion soap to help with acne and a luxurious shampoo bar with aids in helping with dry scalp and provides a light tingly feeling. NOTE: Product is now a larger size and boxed rather than wrapped in paper as shown in photo.

4 oz. bar  $7.00 | naturalbeautysoaps.net

Four Elements Products

Chickweed Anti-Itch Soap
Relief at last. Finally, an anti-itch soap for poison ivy, oak sumac, and insect bites!

$5.00 | fourelementsherbals.com

Sandalwood & Ginseng Soap
My most popular oil, a lover’s blend, is now combined in a soap with the same exotic aromatics; sandalwood, cinnamon, and rose. Ground ginseng roots are added to provide a slight exfoliate quality.

$5.00 | fourelementsherbals.com

Daddy-O Shampoo

Mark Constantine is a master trichologist. He made Daddy-O to suit those with grey or blonde hair, who particularly want their hair to be brighter and healthier looking. An infusion of lemons and seaweed gives softness and shine, while the violet leaf, rose, and bergamot oils create a scent that stays on your hair throughout the day. Work a small amount into a lather and rinse thoroughly; follow up with a LUSH conditioner for soft tresses.

3.3 fl. Oz.  $9.95 | lushusa.com

Kiss My Face Peace Soap

Kiss My Face continues its tradition of social consciousness and support of organizations that aim to make the world a healthier, happier place. The new castile soap is formulated with 100% natural ingredients including olive, coconut and jojoba oils. Castile soap is a safe and gentle alternative to traditional soaps that often contain harsh ingredients. Available in the following scents:

  • Grassy Mint
  • Lemongrass Clary Sage
  • Lavender Mandarin
  • Pomegranate Acai

Peace Soap is free of parabens, phthalates, and animal ingredients and was not tested on animals. The packaging features peace written in languages from around the world and is made from 50% recycled plastic.


Freeing Yourself

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish

For many women, applying makeup and other personal care products is a normal, everyday activity. The possibilities are almost endless for anyone choosing a blush, foundation, powder, lotion, or shampoo. From a variety of brand names to choose from, along with various ingredients, how does a person decide which products are best? And, how do you know which product is least likely to harm both your skin and your body?

When choosing cosmetics and personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, and lotions, it is important to consider if the products have parabens or phthalates in them. Both parabens and phthalates have been in the news as products to avoid, although doing so can prove to be somewhat difficult.

The American Chemistry Council represents companies that safely utilize various chemical compounds, including phthalates. According to the www.americanchemistry.com website, phthalates are a family of compounds whose primary use is as a vinyl softener; they are colorless, oily liquids with little or no odor and low volatility. Some phthalates are utilized as solvents or fixatives to help fragrances last longer.

According to www.thedailygreen.com, a website powered by Good Housekeeping, phthalates are known as “endocrine disruptors” and have been shown to cause damage neurologically and in the reproductive system. “Most of what we put on our skin is absorbed,” says Lisa Petty, a holistic wellness consultant and author of Living Beauty: Feel Great, Look Fabulous, and Live Well. As stated on www.theworldwomenwant.com, phthalates are chemicals that may damage the liver, kidneys, or lungs. While people may be exposed to phthalates in their current products, there are other phthalate-free alternatives that could easily be used to replace this ingredient.

When reading the labels on makeup products or other personal care products, phthalates will seldom be listed as ingredients. Rather, consumers must understand that phthalates can be recognized by their chemical names or abbreviations. According to www.thedailygreen.com, there are three steps consumers can take to ensure they are identifying products that have, or may have, phthalates:

  • Read the ingredients. Items such as DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), and BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate) are often found in personal care products such as nail polish, deodorants, and shampoos.
  • Be wary of the term “fragrance.” A product that adds a “fragrance” to a product may be adding a combination of compounds, which may include phthalates.
  • Choose plastics with the recycling code 1, 2, or 5. Recycling codes 3 and 7 are more likely to contain bisphenol A or phthalates.

According to naturalskincaresecrets.com, parabens are the second most common ingredient in skin care products — water is the first ingredient. While parabens are the most widely used preservatives in the United States, they may cause rashes and other allergic reactions. While many products may claim to be “natural” or “organic,” consumers should always be cautioned to read the labels of their chosen products. Today, parabens are utilized in an estimated 75 to 90 percent of all personal care products. While preservatives are essential for many personal care products, there are other natural preservatives that are safe and effective.

Similar to phthalates, parabens are found in hundreds of beauty products and can potentially cause long-term effects. Alexandra Spunt, co-author of No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products stated, “These antibacterial preservatives are cheap and effective — which is probably why more than three quarters of all cosmetics use them.” As Spunt points out, little is known about the long-term effects of parabens and our exposure to them. Like phthalates, parabens have been linked to mimicking hormones, causing further complications for consumers. “Parabens can migrate to body tissue when applied topically, and lab studies have shown that they can mimic estrogen and have been detected in breast tumors,” Sprout said.

Because the personal care products industry is largely unregulated, there are still more than 10,500 ingredients that have never really been evaluated for safety. The best way to avoid parabens and phthalates is to purchase products that signify they are paraben-free or phthalate-free. And, luckily for consumers, there are a wide variety of products in various price ranges that can suit your natural personal product needs.

If you are seeking paraben-free or phthalate-free personal care products, check out the Environmental Working Group’s online website at www.ewg.org. The databases available include makeup, body lotion, skin care, and dental care. Products are rated according to: overall hazard, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity, and use restrictions.

For any woman seeking to use more natural and healthier personal care products, the information is available. However, it may require research, determination, and diligence to find the healthier products. While we may not know exactly what happens when these preservatives are used, it is better to be safe than sorry. And, isn’t your health worth it?


Read More: Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie

Products to Consider

  • Avalon Organics
  • Suki’s Naturals
  • Weleda
  • Tom’s of Maine
  • Aubrey Organics
  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Burts Bees
  • California Baby
  • Dr. Hauschka
  • Terressentials
  • Badger
  • Nature’s Gate
  • Kiss My Face
  • Pangea
  • Dial
  • St. Ives
  • Pure and Natural
  • Garnier Fructis
  • Sunrider Products

Definition from Environmental Working Group

Parabens (Propyl, Isopropyl, Butyl, and Isobutylparabens): Parabens are estrogen-mimicking preservatives, found in breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. The CDC has detected parabens in virtually all Americans surveyed. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.

Phthalates: A growing number of studies link this chemical to male reproductive system disorders. Pregnant women should avoid nail polish containing dibutyl phathalate. Everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” indicating a chemical mixture that may contain phthalates.

Information Regarding Makeup and Personal Care Products Safety

Source: www.theworldwomenwant.com

  • Use less. Cut down on the number of products you use to minimize the chemicals that come in contact with your skin.
  • Avoid dark hair dyes. Many contain coal tar ingredients that have been linked to cancer in some studies.
  • Reduce use of powders. Avoid baby powder for newborns and infants. Several ingredients common in powder have been linked to cancer and other lung problems when they are inhaled.
  • Be fragrance free. Read the label to avoid deceptions. The word “fragrance” should not appear.
  • Polish less often. Nail polish is one of the few products that routinely contains ingredients linked to birth defects. Paint your toenails and skip the fingernails. Paint nails in a well-ventilated room, or outside. Don’t use nail polish while you’re pregnant.