Antibacterial Soap

Antibacterial products are increasing in popularity and have infiltrated our society. I walk into my daughter’s daycare and antibacterial hand wash is on the wall outside her classroom door. I go to Target and there are antibacterial wipes displayed to wipe off the shopping cart. Our culture has become obsessed with killing germs. However, the problem is the ingredients contained in these antibacterial products, specifically an ingredient known as triclosan.

Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent found predominantly in healthcare environments and is useful in controlling outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococus aureas; otherwise known as MRSA (Journal of Hospital Infections 2006;63:S1-44). Despite being used in many consumer products, beyond its use in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis, there is no evidence according to the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that triclosan provides an extra benefit to health in other consumer products (“Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know”. U S Food and Drug Administration. 8 April 2010.

An article coauthored by Dr. Stuart Levy in the August 6, 1998 issue of Nature warned that triclosan’s overuse could cause resistant strains of bacteria to develop, in much the same way that antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains are emerging (Nature 394{6693}: 531–2). Besides spawning bacteria with cross-resistance to triclosan and important antibiotics, overuse of the anti-bacterial products may upset the delicate balance of intestinal bacteria, a key component of the immune system. This imbalance weakens the immune response and boosts the risk of developing asthma and allergies (Emerging Infectious Disease 2001;7 S3:512-5). The European Union has already banned triclosan in products that come in contact with food and many retailers have removed products containing triclosan from their shelves. Triclosan safety is currently under review by the FDA, but what are we waiting for?

Image of Antibacterial soap at Carpenter Chiropractic in Raleigh, NC

Triclosan is having detrimental impacts on our environment. 96% of antibacterial soaps and cleaners containing triclosan go down the drain and contaminate our water sources (Environmental Science Technology 2010;44:4545-51). That same waste water is used to irrigate fruits and vegetables that end up on our dinner table. Triclosan contaminates our waste water, is then broken down by exposure to sunlight and produces dioxins which are a class of compounds linked to cancer, mutations and birth defects. These dioxins are very toxic endocrine disrupters and disrupt normal hormone activity. Animal studies have shown that triclosan mimics a thyroid hormone and binds to the hormone receptor sites, blocking them, so that normal hormones cannot be used (Toxicology Scientist 2009;107:56-64).

A comprehensive analysis from the University of Michigan School of Public Health indicated that plain soaps are just as effective as consumer-grade antibacterial soaps with triclosan in preventing illness and removing bacteria from the hands ( Alcohol-based hand rubs are recommended by the World Health Organization for healthcare providers. Look carefully at the ingredients and be sure to buy alcohol-based hand sanitizers that do not contain triclosan. Also, look for organic or natural antimicrobial products that contain botanical extracts such as grapefruit seed, tea tree and thyme.

At Carpenter Chiropractic we use alcohol-based hand sanitizers or just plain soap and water between adjusting patients. The chiropractic lifestyle we want to share with our patients involves avoiding exposure to unnecessary toxins found in products like antibacterial soap. Focus on optimal health for you and your family and embrace a chiropractic wellness lifestyle today.


Leave a reply

Dr. Mitch Carpenter and daughter at Carpenter Chiropractic and Integrated Wellness
Carpenter Chiropractic: Dr. Mitch Carpenter
6837 Falls of Neuse Road, #106 Raleigh, NC 27615
Phone: 919-924-0229 URL of Map