Picture of hand sanitizer

Photo courtesy of By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Scalable Grid Engine – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87027168

With illness scares filling the news, cleanliness, including the use of hand sanitizers are at an all time high, but they could be causing a worse situation down the road. Knowing more could help you be healthier, able to fight the virus. Building a strong immune system may be your best defense.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal reported hand sanitizers don’t affect viruses like we hope, “Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may not be the panacea for hand hygiene they were once supposed, as mounting research indicates they may not be effective substitutes for soap and water, and in some cases may actually increase the risk for outbreaks of highly contagious viruses in health care settings.”

With their studies on the norovirus they reported, “Of the 45 facilities that reported preferential use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers in a recent survery [sic], 53% experienced a confirmed outbreak of norovirus, compared with 18% of the 17 facilities that used hand sanitizers less often than soap and water.”

Emerging Infectious Diseases reported a study on hand sanitizer which showed many hand sanitizers are not helping at all. They found, “Some products marketed to the public as antimicrobial hand sanitizers are not effective in reducing bacterial counts on hands. In the course of a classroom demonstration of the comparative efficacy of hospital-grade antimicrobial soap and alcohol-based sanitizers, a product with 40% ethanol as the active ingredient was purchased at a retail discount store. Despite a label claim of reducing ‘germs and harmful bacteria’ by 99.9%, we observed an apparent increase in the concentration of bacteria in handprints impressed on agar plates after cleansing.”

They go on to say, “Some products marketed to the public as antimicrobial hand sanitizers are not effective in reducing bacterial counts on hands. Bacterial colony forming units tended to show little change or increases. The most prevalent bacteria were staphylococci, including those with characteristics of Staphylococcus aureus. 40% ethanol is a less effective bacterial antiseptic than 60% ethanol. Consumers should be alerted to check the alcohol concentration in hand sanitizers because substandard products may be marketed to the public.”

Hand sanitizers have shown greater chemical absorption in the human body, poisoning people with chemicals.

One study reported by PLoS One said, “Some commonly used hand sanitizers, as well as other skin care products, contain mixtures of dermal penetration enhancing chemicals that can increase by up to 100 fold the dermal absorption of lipophilic compounds such as BPA (bisphinol A, an endocrine disruptor). We found that when men and women held thermal receipt paper immediately after using a hand sanitizer with penetration enhancing chemicals, significant free BPA was transferred to their hands and then to French fries that were eaten.”

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They found, “The elevated levels of BPA that we observed due to holding thermal paper after using a product containing dermal penetration enhancing chemicals have been related to an increased risk for a wide range of developmental abnormalities as well as diseases in adults.”

Hand sanitizer has been found to cause unexpected results in different situations, such as testing drunk on a breathalyzer.

Academic Emergency Medicine reported a study using three groups of people who had not consumed any alcohol. One group used one pump of (Purell) hand sanitizer and allowed it to dry prior to using a standard breathalyzer test. The second group used one pump but didn’t allow their hands to dry prior to taking the breathalyzer. The third group used two pumps and didn’t allow the hand sanitizer to dry prior to taking the breathalyzer. The study concluded, “The use of common alcohol-based hand sanitizer may cause false-positive readings with a standard hospital breathalyzer when the operator uses the hand sanitizer correctly. The breathalyzer readings are further elevated if more sanitizer is used or if it is not allowed to dry appropriately.”

Picture of person washing their hands with soap.

Photo courtesy of wikicommons

Interestingly washing hands and allowing them to dry has been found to transfer much less bacteria.

The International Journal of Preventive Medicine studied different studies on hand washing through history and found, “The research results indicate that the bacteria released from the female washed hands in wet and dry condition was lower than from the male’s hands with a significance level (3 CFU vs. 8 CFU; confidence interval 95%, P ≤ 0.001).” More interestingly, “The valuable results of the study indicated that released amount of bacterial flora from wet hands is more than 10 times in compared to dry hands.”

Does this mean we stop using hand sanitizer? No. It means we  use it as intended, for emergency situations when there is no access to soap and water. It is a temporary substitute until you can get to soap and water. If you are in a situation that causes you to use hand sanitizer, repopulating the biome is important to maintain proper health.

The Human Microbiome Project was started in 2007 by the NIH, specifically to study the microbes around us, in us, and on us, as well as how they affect our health. They report, “We know that washing our hands is important for removing harmful microbes—for example, before eating or after using the bathroom. Lotions and creams can provide a barrier to protect your skin’s moisture, ‘but in fact you’re also putting a fertilizer onto the microbial garden. You’re really changing the food source for the bacteria that live on your skin’.”

Dr. Martin J. Blase from the New York University School of Medicine has been key to the findings.

More importantly, the findings showed, “Many researchers worry that some people are trying to get too clean. Blaser thinks that people are using sanitizers and antibiotic products too often these days. ‘Obviously, there are many bad germs, but I think we’ve gone overboard and it looks like trying to get rid of the bad guys has had a collateral effect on the good guys’.”

Building our terrain through varying these microbes and feeding the beneficial strains shows the strongest support. In fact using Kimchi, a probiotic fermented food,  is making headlines  in Korea for eradicating the Coronavirus. The microbes that live in us and on us are the key to rebalancing the biome, giving us the ammunition to fight our battles against sickness.

The Magazine HaB Korea says, “Medical circles say that there is no scientific basis for the immune effects of Kimchi. The food industry and academia, however, are paying attention to the anti-viral effects of Kimchi Lactobacillus. The global death toll from the 2003 SARS outbreak reached 700, but there were no infections in Korea. And many analyzed that it was thanks to the effect of Kimchi.”

Since Kimchi and other probiotic foods have been found to boost the immune system, it’s no surprise. Click here to read more and see the studies that back up the findings.

*Nourishing Plot is written by Becky Plotner, ND, traditional naturopath, CGP, D.PSc. who sees clients in Rossville, Georgia. She is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor, through The American Naturopathic Medical Association and works as a Certified GAPS Practitioner who sees clients in her office, Skype and phone. She has been published in Wise Traditions, spoken at two Weston A. Price Conferences, Certified GAPS Practitioner Trainings, has been on many radio shows, television shows and writes for Nourishing Plot. She serves on the GAPS Board of Directors and has recently been named “The GAPS Expert” by Dr. Natasha and will serve teaching other Certified GAPS Practitioners proper use of the GAPS protocol. Since her son was delivered from the effects of autism (Asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder/manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia, through food, she continued her education specializing in Leaky Gut and parasitology through Duke University, finishing with distinction. She is a Chapter Leader for The Weston A. Price Foundation. [email protected]

“GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The right of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Patent and Designs Act 1988.




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