Amber’s Mewsings: Amber and the Laptop

It’s about time that I get some computer time!  I tell you, it can be tough being a writer’s cat.  Not only do I have to be my mom’s mewse, but since she’s on the computer on her desk practically all day long most days, it’s hard to get a paw in edgewise.  And when she leaves the house for a while, she turns the computer off!  I haven’t been able to figure out how to open what she calls her laptop, and I hate that thing anyway.  When it’s in her lap, there’s not enough room for me, too, and that’s just wrong.  You can see me giving the thing the evil eye above.  She recently got something she calls a BlackBerry, even though it looks nothing like a berry to me.  I got all excited at first, because I thought maybe I could use that to write on, but I tried typing on it and realized that my paws are too big to work the tiny keys.

But I digress.   What I really wanted to talk about is that, despite the frustrations mentioned above, being a writer’s cat is really a very cool job.  For starters, it means that my mom is home with me a lot, and I really like that.  I just like knowing that she’s nearby, even when I’m sleeping.  And she says I’m her mewse, which I guess means that I inspire her writing, which is really nice to know.  I know how happy it makes her to be a writer, and I’m glad that I can contribute to that happiness.  It’s also kind of nice to have her at my beck and call all day long – and I have her so well-trained that she doesn’t even realize that that’s what’s happening.  She thinks it’s her own idea to get up and give me a treat occasionally, and to feed me my dinner in the afternoon rather than making me wait until dinner time.  Okay, so maybe the staring holes in the back of her head approach, whining and weaving myself around her legs, and generally making a pest out of myself after a certain time in the afternoon is a bit obnoxious, but it never fails to work, so why should I stop?!

Another thing I like about being a writer’s cat is that I force my mom to take breaks.  Even though she loves what she does, it’s not healthy for her to do it 24/7 (what an odd expression – how did humans come up with that?  I only have four paws, so I can’t count much beyond four.)  So I make sure that she takes breaks throughout the day by asking for cuddle time, looking so cute that she can’t resist taking my photo, or showing her where my dinner plate is (because , some days, I swear, she forgets what she’s supposed to do with it!).  And after a certain point in the evening, I think she needs to get off her computer and come to bed, so sometimes, I have to lead the way and wait for her in the bedroom.

As you can see, being a writer’s cat is not for the faint-hearted among us felines.  It takes a special cat to be a writer’s companion, but it’s also very rewarding (and I don’t just mean food rewards!).

Life Lessons from Our Pets

I have always believed that animals come into our lives to teach us. First and foremost, they teach us about unconditional love. But they also teach us to stretch and grow, to reach beyond our self-imposed limits, and to expand our consciousness. They take us to places we did not think were possible for us to go. I’ve been fortunate to have a number of these animals in my life. 

There was my soul mate kitty, Feebee, who was instrumental in guiding me from an unsatisfactory corporate job to a fulfilling career in the veterinary profession.  For the first time in my life, I discovered what loving what you do for a living feels like.  There was my office cat Virginia, who made my dream of a fulfilling career complete. Whenever I had visualized my perfect job, that dream had always included a cat sleeping in a sunny spot on my desk. One of Virginia’s favorite sleeping places was the spot right next to my computer on my desk at the animal hospital, in front of a sunny window.  There was Buckley, who changed my life in ways I never could have imagined by helping me discover my true passion.  Her lessons were profound enough to inspire an entire book.  And there is Amber, who I share my life with now.  Her gentle, wise presence brings love and affection into my life every day, and she inspired this site, which is dedicated to sharing information about health, happiness and conscious living for pets and their people. 

I’ve found that there are three main lessons that all animals teach us, if only we are willing to listen.  

  1. The teach us to live in the moment.  Our pets don’t spend time analyzing the past, and they don’t worry about the future.  They are fully focused on whatever it is they are doing in the present moment, whether it’s enjoying a meal, playing with a favorite toy, or napping in the sunny spot on the rug.
  2. They help us to slow down.  We get so caught up in the business of our daily lives, and we rarely take enough time to relax.  Spending time with our pets is the best stress relief I know of.  Research has shown that simply petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure.
  3. They help us connect with our spiritual core.  As humans, we have an innate need to get in touch with something greater than ourselves.  For some people, this connection comes through religion, for others, it comes from being in nature.  For me, it has always come from being around animals.    

Listen to the animals in your life – you might be surprised at the lessons they have to teach you.

What have you learned from your pets?

Chronic Renal Disease in Cats

stalking cat

Guest post by Renee L. Austin

As cats age, we watch for physiologic changes that may affect the long term outlook for health. Many health concerns arise because we notice shifts in behavior, appearance, and activity levels. One condition associated with aging and cats is so inconspicuous that once the physical signs do become apparent, the disease is already quite advanced.

Chronic Renal Disease or Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) is often seen in aging cats. It results in a gradual decrease in the function of the kidneys. The kidneys serve a number of purposes; they produce urine and filter waste products from the body, regulate electrolytes such as potassium and phosphorous, they produce erythropoietin which stimulates red blood cell production by the bone marrow, and they contribute toward regulating blood pressure. Once the loss of function begins it is not reversible, and other vital organs are affected along with how your cat may feel in general.

Signs of CRF can be very subtle at first, especially with a species that relies upon masking illness and appearing healthy for its survival. Watch for increased thirst and urination, vomiting or other signs of nausea, lethargy or depression, poor hair coat, loss of appetite, lingering over the water bowl, eating cat litter, constipation, a strong ammonia-like odor to the breath, and changes in vision and hearing.

CRF is diagnosed beginning with a thorough physical examination and simple diagnostics run through your veterinarian’s office. Changes in the kidneys’ ability to concentrate urine and flush out waste are one of the earliest means of detecting the disease and will be assessed in a urinalysis. Blood tests will check for increases in Blood Urea Nitrogen and Creatinine to determine whether there is waste ‘build-up’ in the blood. Any changes in electrolyte levels and general blood cell health will be measured as well. Your cat’s doctor will also want to monitor blood pressure and perform a careful eye exam which may include measuring ocular pressures. 

There is no cure for CRF, but once it is diagnosed there are a number of actions you can take to help slow its progression and keep your cat comfortable at home. Dietary management, supplements, medication, and fluid therapy are all options that your veterinarian may discuss with you.

It is best to catch CRF before you notice signs at home by making routine visits to your veterinarian for examinations and lab work.  By doing this, subtle changes can be detected and monitored over time and preventative measures can be taken in the earliest stages. A good dental maintenance program will also help support overall organ health. Once-a-year visits may be appropriate for the younger feline, but as the years advance, more frequent visits might be in order.

Changes that occur as cats age are complex, and signs of CRF can be similar to many different disease processes. Be certain to make those appointments with your veterinarian and work closely together to understand your cat’s aging issues, as well as steps you can take to manage Chronic Renal Failure. 

Renee AustinRenee L. Austin is the founder of Whimsy Cats, a specialized home care business for cats with chronic medical conditions and special needs. She also provides consulting services for veterinary practices. For more information visit http://www.whimsycats.com

Giveaway: Animal Magnetism

The Conscious Cat is giving away one copy of Animal Magnetism by Rita Mae Brown.  In Brown’s own words, “much of what I am is a result of a life with and close to animals.”  These words perfectly capture the spirit of this book.   In this heartwarming and often funny collection, Brown shares stories of the animals that touched her life.  Click here to read my review of this book.

To enter, please leave a comment letting me know why you’d like to win this book.  One comment per person, please.  For an additional chance to win,  you can blog, tweet or share on Facebook about this giveaway and leave the link in a comment.  The deadline for entering the giveaway is Sunday, January 24.  Good luck!

Book Review: Unexpected Miracles by Dr. Shawn Messonier, D.V.M.

unexpected-miracles-book-coverUnexpected Miracles – Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets is a must read for anyone interested in integrative medicine, holistic health and natural remedies for pets.  Dr. Shawn Messonier, D.V.M.  is a nationally recognized authority on holistic pet care and integrative medicine.  He is the author of the award winning Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, the host of the weekly radio show Dr. Shawn, The Natural Vet on Martha Stewart Radio, and his column  The Holistic Pet is featured in newspapers throughout the United States.  He owns Paws and Claws Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas.

From the publisher:  Dr. Shawn Messonnier has been a veterinarian for more than fifteen years. Once a conventional practictioner, he’s embarked on a crusade to help pet owners keep their treasured furry friends healthy and happy, treating each patient not as a disease but as a unique living entity. Dr. Messonnier brings the reader into his waiting room and introduces them to some remarkable animals…and the courageous owners who never gave up on their pets. Using case studies and higlighting diseases that commonly afflict our pets, Dr. Messonnier shows us the integrative methods he has developed to help these creatures not only survive the maladies they were originally diagnosed with but in many cases go on to live long and healthy lives.  Unexpected Miracles will change the way you think about your  pet’s healthcare forever.

The book is a fascinating collection of often heartwarming stories of cats and dogs who were either given a poor prognosis, a death sentence or a completely wrong diagnosis, and whose owners were coming to Dr. Messonier in hopes of finding a cure or at the very least a way to help their pet live a longer life.  It also offers a thorough look at what truly integrative medical, or in this case, veterinary, care really means.  An integrative approach to veterinary care uses both conventional treatments, commonly thought of as Western medicine, and natural, alternative and holistic treatments ranging from supplements to herbs to acupuncture.  By taking a truly holistic approach, Dr. Messonier treats the patient, not the disease, and uses the best of all available treatment options to achieve optimal healing for each individual patient.  This includes looking at the pet’s environment and potential exposure to toxins, reducing vaccinations from the old paradigm of annual “shots” to only those required by law or no vaccinations at all, to eliminating by-products and low quality ingredients from the pet’s diet.

While each story shared in this book is about the individual pet and the condition the pet’s owner sought help with, there are definite commonalities in all the cases, and it’s these commonalities that will give the reader a thorough understanding of what an integrative approach to health is truly all about.

In addition, the book is a testament to how much we love our pets and that most of us will go to great lenghts to find ways to keep these wonderful creatures happy and healthy by giving them the best possible care.

I think this book should be on every pet owner’s book shelf as not only a reference book, but also as a reminder that sometimes, hope is the best medicine.

For more information about Dr. Messonier, visit his website at http://www.petcarenaturally.com.

Amber’s Story

One of the questions most frequently asked of me since the release of Buckley’s Story has been why Buckley?  What was so special about this particular cat, rather than any of the other cats who have been part of my life, that inspired me to write a book about her?  You’ll have to read the book to find out how she changed my life in ways I never could have imagined by teaching me universal lessons about opening my heart and living a joyful life.  As the old saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  In my case, the teacher came in a seven pound feline body.

Inevitably, the second most frequently asked question I get is will you write a book about Amber?  Who knows, some day, she may get her own book.  Those of you who’ve visited this site have gotten to know her in her occasional Mewsings, but not all of you know her story.  So – even though it’s not a book (yet – you never know!), here is her story:

Amber and her five kittens were brought to the Middleburg Animal Hospital in the spring of 2000 by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  She is a dark Tortoiseshell color, with an amber-colored heart-shaped spot on top of her head, which became the reason for her name.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention.  As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.

After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed.  By Sunday evening, she had relaxed a little and started exploring her new environment.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.  Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”.

Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.

Amber is a gentle, loving cat with a wise old soul.  For the past nine years, her peaceful and solid presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, have been bringing love and affection into my life every day.  She enjoys sleeping in our sunny living room, curling up with me when I sit down to read or to watch television, and watching the birds at the feeder on our deck.

She is a teacher to the core of her being, and she is my writing muse.  There are days when I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the blank screen with no idea of what I’m going to be writing about, but as soon as she comes into the room and curls up on the window perch next to my desk for a long nap, I feel inspired, and the words start flowing.

Animals come into our lives for many reasons.  Some very special animals touch our souls and change us forever.  Amber is one of these special animals.

Sadly, Amber passed away on May 13, 2010, after a sudden, brief illness. I will always miss her.

Kreativ Blogger Award

The Conscious Cat is flattered to have received the Kreativ Blogger award!  And we’re even more flattered because it was given to us by a cat – not just any cat, but none other than Sparkle The Designer Cat, the internet’s premiere cat-to-cat columnist and author of her own book  Dear Sparkle:  Advice from One Cat to Another, which we previously reviewed here on The Conscious Cat.  Thank you, Sparkle!

The award comes with the following rules:

  1. Copy and paste the Kreativ Blogger picture onto your blog.
  2. Thank the person who gave you the award and post a link to their blog.
  3. Write 7 things about yourself we do not know.
  4. Choose 7 other bloggers to award.
  5. Link to those 7 other bloggers.
  6. Notify your 7 bloggers.

I already took care of 1 and 2 above.  Here are seven things you may not know about me:

  1. I like to work in flannel pj pants and a sweatshirt (ah, the beauty of working from home!).
  2. In a prior life, I worked as a travel agent.
  3. When I was little, I wanted to be a professional figure skater.
  4. I have a wicked sweet tooth.
  5. I’ve had long hair since I was seventeen.
  6. I prefer e-mail to talking on the phone.
  7. I love all four seasons, but summer is my favorite.

I’d like to pass this award on to the seven following bloggers (and it’s really hard to pick just seven!):

365 Cat Ladies – Artist Susan Faye presents a different cat picture every single day of the year.  Eye candy for the cat lover!

Albert the Cat – Pearls and Wisdom From the Feline World – need I say more?

Conversations with Eva – where it’s nearly impawsible for anyone else to have the last word.

Moderncat – a wonderful resource for the cat lover with modern style.  This blog defines the word creative!

The Boomer Muse – the daily photo diary of a hyper-hyphenated, tree-hugging, Canadian Baby Boomer/Photographer/Writer/Intuitive Consultant/Cat Lover.

Thoughts in Progress – A wonderful mixture of book reviews and other topics – a place for the mind to gather images.  Not a cat blog, but Mason Canyon is owned by two cats.

Mystery Writing is Murder – author Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog – each day’s post is packed full of resources for writers.   Not a cat blog, either, but Elizabeth is owned by two cats and also shares her life with a corgi.

Everybody’s Gone Surfin’ (Part Two)

cat-on-computer

How to Effectively Communicate with Your Veterinarian

Guest Post by Nancy Kay, DVM

I happen to enjoy hearing about what my clients are learning online.  I sometimes come away with valuable new information, and I’m invariably amused by some of the extraordinary things they tell me- who knew that hip dysplasia is caused by global warming!  Surf to your heart’s content, but be forewarned, not all veterinarians feel as I do.  Some have a hard time not “rolling their eyes” or quickly interrupting the moment the conversation turns to Internet research.  Who can blame them- they’ve grown weary of spending valuable office visit or telephone time talking their clients out of crazy cyberspace notions and reining them in from online wild goose chases.  How unfortunate this is.  Nowadays, people rapidly and reflexively reach for their keyboards to learn more about their pet’s symptoms or disease diagnosis online.  It’s only natural (and in their pet’s best interest) that they will want to discuss what they’ve learned with their veterinarian.

Is there an effective way to communicate with your vet about your online research that is neither irritating to her nor intimidating for you?  I truly believe it is possible, but it involves some work and planning on your part!  Listed below are some secrets for success- things you can do to converse about your Internet research in a manner that is comfortable for you and your vet and, most importantly, beneficial for your pet’s health.

-I may be preaching to the choir, but I cannot overemphasize the importance of working with a vet who is happy and willing to participate in two-way, collaborative dialogue with you. Your opinions, feelings, and questions are held in high regard and enough time is allowed during the office visit to hear them. A veterinarian who practices this “relationship centered” style of communication is far more likely to want to hear about your online research than the veterinarian who practices “paternalistic care” (far more interested in telling you what to do than hearing about your thoughts, questions, or concerns).  Remember, when it comes to veterinarian/client communication styles, you have a choice. It’s up to you to make the right choice!

-Let your vet know that you appreciate her willingness and patience in helping you understand how best to utilize what you’ve learned online.

Ask your veterinarian for her Web site recommendations– those that have already been “vetted”.  This is a collaborative approach that lets her know you intend to spend some time learning more, plus a respectful recognition of the fact that she is the one who has spent her career learning about your dog’s health issues. 

Wait for the appropriate time during the office visit to discuss what you’ve learned on line.  Allow your veterinarian to ask questions of you and examine your precious poopsie rather than “tackling” her with questions and discussion about your Internet research questions the moment she sets foot in the exam room.

Be brief and “to the point” with your questions.  Remember, most office visits are scheduled for 15 to 20 minutes, max. 

Let your veterinarian know that you’ve learned how to be a discriminating surfer!  You know how to differentiate between valuable online resources and “cyber-fluff”. You ignore anecdotal vignettes and Web sites trying to sell their products in favor of credible information provided by veterinary college Web sites and forums that are hosted by well-educated moderators who provide cited research references that support their recommendations.  If you need a little refresher course on how to be a “selective surfer,” I encourage you to read Part One of this article.  When you begin conversation about your Internet research, I encourage you to choose your wording wisely.  Communicate in a respectful fashion that invites conversation as opposed to  “telling” your vet what you want to do. Most veterinarians don’t like being told what to do by their clients, and who can blame them?  After all, we expect veterinarians to provide a collaborative approach- it’s only fair that they expect the same from their clients.  Consider the following conversation starters about Internet research:

Approach one:  “I’m wondering what you think about mixing some canned pumpkin in with Sophie’s food.  I’ve been doing some Internet research about diarrhea and this suggestion seems to comes up frequently.”

Approach two:  “I’ve been doing some online research and learned about the benefits of canned pumpkin.  I want to begin mixing this in with Sophie’s food.”

Approach three:  “I’d like to give Sophie some canned pumpkin for her diarrhea.  A moderator from an online forum suggested I do this.”

Approach four:  “I’ve been following an online forum about canine diarrhea. One of the moderators suggested I consider adding canned pumpkin to Sophie’s diet.  How do you feel about this?”

Which of these approaches sound like invitations for discussion? Which are more likely to be a “turnoff” for your veterinarian? If you’ve selected approaches one and four as successful ways for broaching the topic of Internet research with your vet, well done!  Give your dog a hug and yourself a pat on the back!

In the Internet, we have an extraordinary tool at our fingertips. I encourage you to be critical when choosing which Web sites you intend to take seriously and which ones you wish to visit for a good chuckle.  Approach conversations with your vet about your Internet research thoughtfully and tactfully. These strategies are bound to create a win-win-win situation- for you, your veterinarian and your beloved best buddy! 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

speaking for spot coverPlease visit http://www.speakingforspot.com/ to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Order  a copy of Speaking for Spot personally signed by Dr. Kay – http://www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html

Join Dr. Kay’s email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for Dr. Kay on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Book Review: Houdini by T. J. Banks

Houdini coverFrom the publisher: 

A Siamese only gives his heart to a human once.  For Houdini, an abandoned, down-on-his luck Siamese kitten, that human is Jill Leonard.  After smuggling him home on an airplane, Jill gives Houdini a good home with her other cats.  It’s not long before Houdini settles into life as a loved pet.  Hidden dangers abound when he inadvertently strays from home.  Will Houdini ever find his way back home?

This description hardly does the book justice.  Houdini is a wonderful story for adults and children, and is sure to melt the heart of any cat lover.   Most of the story is told from Houdini’s perspective, and the author’s deep connection with the feline soul shows in every word.  You’ll fall in love with Houdini from the very first chapter.  Banks masterfully shares Houdini’s story from a cat’s point of view, from his despair at being abandoned to his joy when he meets his special person.  You’ll delight in sharing Houdini’s world.  His interaction with other cats, and with the humans in his life, as told from his perspective, are recounted with the sensitivity and grace you’d expect from a feline.  You’ll appreciate the special relationship he shares with Jill, his person.  You’ll worry for him and with him when he gets lost.   You’ll find your heart in your throat as you live through the dangers he encounters as he’s trying to find his way back home.

This is not the kind of book that you’d expect to be unable to put down, but for me, it was exactly that.  It’s impossible to not fall in love with this sweet cat, and you’ll find yourself nodding your head in recognition as you compare some of Houdini’s observations and personality traits to those of the felines in your life.  The book is a celebration of the unconditional love between cats and their humans, as told by one very special Siamese.  Four  paws up for Houdini!

T.J. Banks is the author of  A Time for Shadows and Catsong.  Her work has appeared in numberous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Single Parent’s Soul and A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love.  She lives with her daughter Marissa and their cats and rabbits in a sometimes peaceable, but always interesting kingdom in Connecticut.

I previously reviewed T.J. Bank’s book Catsong right here on The Conscious Cat.  Click here to read the review.

Health Risks of Anti-Bacterial Soaps

cat at sink

With fears of H1N1 running rampant, it seems like everywhere you turn, there’s antibacterial gel, antibacterial soap and other antibacterial cleansers.  But are these cleansers really necessary, not to mention safe, or do they actually post health risks?  Today’s guest post addresses these questions.

Guest post by Woody McMahon, Sequoia Health and Fitness, Inc.

In an effort to fulfill the age old saying “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” the use of antibacterial soaps is on the rise. The liberal use of soap is a good thing, but antibacterial soaps present several major risks.

As early as 2005, researchers at Virginia Tech found that the active chemical ingredient in antibacterial soaps, triclosan, can cause two major health problems. First, consumers who use the soaps may be exposed to significant quantities of the cancer causing substance chloroform. Also, long term use of these soaps creates an unhealthy balance of antibiotic resistant bacteria on the skin. They found bacteria resistant to some of the more popular antibiotic drugs like chloramphenicol, ampicillin, tetracycline and ciprofloxacin.

Dr. Peter Vikesland, an environmental chemist at Virginia Tech had this to say about antibacterial soaps: “This is the first work that we know of that suggests that consumer products, such as antimicrobial soap, can produce significant quantities of chloroform. There are numerous potential exposure pathways that can be envisioned, such as inhalation and skin exposure, when using antimicrobial soaps to wash dishes or when taking a shower. There is also risk of exposure when using triclosan laden moisturizers as they may also react with chlorine in the water.”

What is Triclosan?

Triclosan is a synthetic antimicrobial agent found in a wide variety of products. Its broad spectrum, bacteria fighting ability has made it popular in an ever increasing number of personal care products, cosmetics, antimicrobial creams, acne treatments, lotions, hand soaps, and dish soaps. Triclosan goes under the trade name Microban®, when used in plastics and clothing and Biofresh® when used in acrylic fibers. Even though Triclosan is effective at killing bacteria, it is registered as a pesticide with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill some type of life form. The EPA considers triclosan a high risk for human health and the environment.

What is Chloroform?

When triclosan, the active ingredient in antibacterial soaps, reacts with the chlorine in the tap water, chloroform is created. Chloroform is a central nervous system depressant and cancer causing compound. The U.S. Department of Labor has strict guidelines when it comes to contact with chloroform. Chronic inhalation of chloroform may cause psychiatric and neurological symptoms, including depression, hallucinations and moodiness. In one study, liver enlargement was demonstrated in 17 of 68 workers exposed to chloroform at low levels for 1 to 4 years. Alcoholics are more at risk from chloroform because ethanol increases chloroform’s toxic effects.

Healthy Bacteria

The bacteria on your skin serve as a part of your skin’s natural defense mechanism. Your skin uses healthy bacteria to keep colonies of unhealthy bacteria at bay. Without the healthy bacteria, the unhealthy ones can take over and create infections and other skin problems. Destroy all the healthy bacteria with antibacterial soap and you set yourself up for big problems. The constant use of antibacterial soaps is similar to using antibiotics for every little cold or sneeze. All antibacterial products should be used sparingly so that resistant strains of bacteria do not develop. Using antibiotics only when necessary ensures they will remain effective when the need arises. 

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

When bacteria are exposed to long term, low doses of antibiotics, some of them can develop antibiotic resistance. Resistant bacteria must be treated with other, sometimes stronger antibiotics. In rare instances, there is no known medication that will kill the bacteria. It is wiser to use antibiotics sparingly and for shorter duration. The constant use of antimicrobials, as in the antibacterial soaps, creates a real long term health hazard; one that is easily avoidable with regular soap.

Living a healthier lifestyle is easy with one of Sequoia Health and Fitness, Inc.’s Fresh Start programs.  They provide the plan, implementation, motivation and accountability necessary for your success. To see all of their programs, visit  http://www.sequoiahealth.com.  They offer a no-cost consultation.  For more information, please e-mail Woody McMahon at Woody@SequoiaHealth.com

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