Fluoride: A Blessing, A Curse, or Both?
Ever noticed that "Contact Poison Control immediately if..." warning on your toothpaste? Any more than a pea-sized amount (about 1/3 of the perfectly shaped strip of toothpaste on the picture on the box...) is dangerous for human consumption. And light-weight kids are even more sensitive and prone to acute toxicity when it comes to ingesting toothpaste.
Between just 0.1 - 0.3mg of toothpaste per kg of bodyweight (which is less than just 3% of a tube of Colgate for Kids being swallowed by your average 1-1/2 yr old) can cause acute toxicity, resulting in stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, and flu-like symptoms. It's a fact: most kids swallow about 30% of the toothpaste they brush with! Does it make any sense why we would give kids bubble gum and fruit-flavored toothpaste if they're not supposed to swallow it?
Have you ever tried to brush a toddler's teeth? No exaggeration - 9 out of 10 kids I've babysat will grab the brush, insist on brushing by themselves, then swallow it like it's frosting. Immediately!
Oh how we would shame a parent who spoon fed cherry-flavored rat poison to their kids every night. But ironically, there's a lot of shame and blame in the mainstream world heaped on parents who choose to avoid the chemical known as fluoride for the sake of their kids' health.
A Controversial Topic
There's a bloody battle happening over this ingredient. Depending on which side of the line you're on, you may either receive a brutal verbal thrashing from your dentist, or be ostracized by the crunchy granola moms in your playgroup. I've delayed posting anything about fluoride for months simply because I didn't want to be seen as "one of those people" who is viewed as an extremist.
But you know what? I've realized that knowledge is power. If there's something worth such a vehement debate, I'm going to look into it. And I'm going to share what I find with you, because you deserve to know about the conversation taking place.
There are many, many studies and sources which claim that fluoride is harmful - and a growing number of studies and sources vehemently stating that it is perfectly safe and effective.
In the past, the ADA has deemed some of the information below to be "misinformation." As with any controversial topic - it's controversial!
DISCLAIMER: I wanted to post here the resources and the logic that made the most sense to me in my exploration of this important topic. Though many American medical authorities will insist that using fluoride daily is perfectly safe, it still may be worth researching for yourself. I mean, we Americans have been wrong before.
Fluoride: A Mixed Bag
Fluoride (usually in the form of sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate) is a controversial chemical that is added to our toothpaste and public water supplies. The stated purpose is to help harden our teeth to prevent tooth decay and cavities, but there is no direct evidence that fluoride actually can achieve this via toothpaste or drinking water.
It is questionable whether the brief contact with the teeth during brushing allows enough time to harden the enamel before being washed away by the saliva and swallowed. And there is no evidence that the internal consumption of fluoride in the water translates to harder teeth. In fact - the opposite is sometimes true (see fluorosis pictures below...but be warned - they're a bit gnarly!).
Newsweek published an article in 2015 titled "Fluoridation May Not Prevent Cavities, Scientific Review Shows." Another article in Newsweek stated that even our government is ready to pull back on the fluoride in the water for safety reasons. Click below to read.
Applying fluoride during dental work, in a concentrated amount, or via a prescription toothpaste (that is, at a strength of at least 5,000 ppm), does prove to be more effective in hardening teeth however, than the slow, low-dose approaches of brushing and drinking it.
So the question is: Is fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated tap water really necessary?
The Dose Makes the Poison
ANY substance consumed at a high enough dose can be fatal.
That includes water, salt, and yes... even kale.
Consuming more than 4lbs of kale in a day for 2 months solid (without getting adequate co-nutrients like magnesium and fat)? You may end up with kidney stones and thyroid issues. So don't do that. Just eat the volume of greens that members of the human race (not members of the horse family) have consistently eaten before, and you'll be fine.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not putting this beloved leafy green under the bus... It's totally safe. I eat about 2 cups of it DAILY!
What makes a substance "safe", in my simple logic, is that it is meant to be consumed, and has been consumed by humans and animals for millennia, in its unadulterated, pure form.
8 glasses of water a day, 2300mg of salt a day, 5-8 servings of vegetables a day. All these are safe and natural. Our bodies were designed for this and have been thriving on these for millennia.
Whichever amount we've consumed of a substance for these thousands of years is probably a safe amount to continue consuming, especially if it's an essential nutrient or contains essential nutrients for our body (Unless it's been genetically modified or any pesticides/herbicides have been added, that is... the verdict is still out on the safety of those).
But, let's take a substance that is NOT recommended or intended for dietary consumption or nutritional benefit (i.e., lead, arsenic, or fluoride). When that substance:
- is consumed consistently,
- gets "stuck" in our body and accumulates, and then
- causes reactions, dysfunction in our organs, and other side effects...
...well, I don't know about you, but for me, this has now fallen into the category of a "toxic" substance. No matter how many times the "experts in the field" tell me the opposite, I just don't feel it's logical to consume it on the daily.
The EPA allows fluoride levels to reach 4000ppb before they declare it to be dangerous...yet its relative toxicity is comparable to arsenic.
Yes, fluoride does occur naturally, in very small amounts, in soil and water. But it is known that high concentrations of fluoride in the soil is toxic to plants and damages the bone mass of animals and people.
Even very, very low doses of certain substances like fluoride (which may be non-fatal when consumed once or twice) can have a cumulative effect on the body that is highly dangerous when we don't flush it out of our system.
It is from this point of view that I want to look closer at things like the chemicals in the stuff I eat, drink, and slather on my skin daily - including my toothpaste which is absorbed rapidly through the oral membranes. (Especially if its active ingredient's original commercial use was as rat and roach poison. Just saying.)
Fluoride's Effect on Enzymes
One touted effect of fluoride is that it poisons the enzymes of the oral bacteria that cause plaque and decay. It logically follows then, that fluoride will also poison good enzymes in the human body, causing a whole array of damaging effects! Not the least of which are food allergies, inflammation, diabetes, and obesity.
High doses of fluoride (and prolonged ingestion of low doses) inhibit over 60 enzymes needed in the body & digestive system, such as lipase, protease, and catalase.
It's an understatement to say that enzymes are ESSENTIAL for our bodies to function properly!
Fluorosis: Fluoride's Effects on Teeth and Bones
Fluorosis on the teeth is an indicator that the rest of our system is saturated beyond healthy levels with the toxic compounds of fluoride. It manifests in cloudy, discolored parts of the teeth, and the teeth are more brittle (ironically). Teeth that are affected by moderate to severe fluorosis are prone to crumbling.
Children who are exposed to high amounts of fluoride via drinking water or toothpaste before their adult teeth emerge develop fluorosis of the adult teeth.
There is also a higher risk of hip fractures in adults who live in areas with a fluoridated water supply, as they consume between 1-6 mg (1-6 ppm) daily of that fluoride.
You can be sure that if the fluoride has saturated someone's teeth, it has also accumulated in their bones, pineal gland, and arteries as well, which may have incredibly dangerous effects on the body.
photographs by Hardy Limeback, DDS, PhD and the Center for Natural Dentistry, via http://fluoridealert.org/issues/fluorosis/
Fluoride's Effects on the Thyroid
Back in the 1950s, shockingly, they used fluoride to lower thyroid function in hyperthyroid patients, and reduce the thyroid's absorption of the essential nutrient iodine. (Hmm...sounds like a questionable treatment to me!)
Thus, fluoride has been shown to reduce the function of the thyroid - and thus, it can cause hypothyroidism in healthy individuals! Hypothyroidism (and the associated symptoms of fatigue, obesity and depression) is a growing epidemic in Western countries.
Read this article about a study done in England which showed a 30% increased risk of hypothyroidism in areas with fluoridated water supplies: Newsweek: "Water Fluoridation may Increase Risk of Underactive Thyroid Disorder."
Fluoride's Effects on the Brain
Over 50 human studies and 100 animal studies show that long-term exposure to fluoride damages the brain, and impairs the ability to learn new information or remember. Some of the studies show the effects of high doses of fluoride, but others show the long-term effects of low doses (such as in multiple-times-daily consumption of toothpaste and drinking water).
Fluoride's Effects on Babies & Children
A 2012 meta-analysis by a team of Harvard researchers, funded by the National Institute of Health showed that fluoride is correlated with reduced IQ in children.
The researchers state, "Children who lived in areas with high fluoride exposure had lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-exposure or control areas."
Fluoride exposure is also linked to impaired fetal brain development (which is one of the reasons you can buy a gallon of non-fluoridated "baby drinking water" at the grocery store for mixing baby formula). Click here for a study on the issue.
A Better Option
This blog is a journal of my personal journey in all-natural problem-solving.
While I don't think we can eliminate all the problematic toxins out of our lives, we absolutely can use healthy, safe alternatives to the heavy-hitters in our toxicity load.
And while we're at it, why not use a safe alternative that does an even better job than the mainstream options? My hope for this blog is empowerment for anyone who wishes for a better, more effective alternatives to the products we've been led to believe are the only option.