DIY Paleo Toothpaste
4 Tablespoons of Bentonite Clay (be sure to use a plastic spoon, not metal, when using bentonite clay)
3 Tablespoons of Calcium Powder
2 Tablespoons of Baking Soda
a pinch of sea salt
8 drops of organic liquid stevia (to cut the bitterness of the baking soda)
1 teaspoon of organic liquid spearmint or peppermint extract (your choice)
(as an option you can also add ground cloves, or ground cinnamon)
You have 3 options for use:
1. Together, these ingredients make a tooth powder and can be used as is.
2. However, we prefer a paste. Also, I like the antimicrobial properties of Coconut oil – so to the powder I add coconut oil and stir (using plastic) to the consistency I like and I store in a jar or BPA free plastic container.
3. My children prefer a squeezable version. This is also more hygienic for them because they often share a tube. So here’s a tip… bentonite clay expands when water is added (This also makes a great facial mask), so I use a BPA free squeezable tube and fill half way with the paste I use for myself. To that I add a few tablespoons of water and let it sit and expand. The result is a “gooey-er” version that can be squeezed on to a toothbrush rather than dipped.
Why Paleo Toothpaste
When I first started following a paleo/primal lifestyle it was only about the food. For a good 9 months I focused only on what we ate as a family. For me, food was primary, and has been a gateway to other positive changes in our lives. Eventually, I started to consider the effects of other aspects of our life on our overall health. For the past year or so I’ve been making my own household products, from laundry soap to shampoo, toothpaste to deodorant. There are recipes available all over the internet, but I’ve been asked quite frequently WHY? Why go through the trouble of making my own hygiene and cleaning products?
What started this trend in our home was quite simple. Dietary changes had alleviated so many of our health symptoms in a relatively short period of time. Over a 9 month period my allergy, asthma and migraines had stopped, completely, for the first time in 30 years. I was diagnosed with asthma at 7 years old and at 37 I have thrown away all of my inhalers and allergy medications, pitched the chronic steroid usage once and for all! That being said, my son has had a chronically dry flaky scalp ever since he was born. The pediatricians called it cradle cap and gave him a steroid cream for his scalp, it would go away temporarily and then come back. When we went Paleo initially, he was 4 years old, and still this chronically dry scaly scalp would never just go away. I have had a similar problem; since I was a child, I had an itchy dry scalp. While our food choices cleared up our other allergy symptoms, we just could not get rid of this chronic eczema/psoriasis type of peeling patches.
I was completely frustrated and thought that there was nothing we could do. I searched high and low for a solution and then someone suggested that perhaps our shampoo had gluten in it. That led me to really take a look at the ingredients in our products, and here is what I found:
1. Gluten and cross-reactive grain proteins can be located in shampoos, lotions, soaps and cosmetics without us ever realizing it. Most products list scientific names for additives that are unrecognizable. This post from Gluten Free Faces gives a great list of potentially harmful grain based ingredients in these products.
2. Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and while it’s designed to protect us, we know that it is not impenetrable. Our skin does in fact absorb that which we put on it, therefore chemicals and toxins can be topically absorbed into our blood stream. The Mayo Clinic offered this post regarding gluten containing products and Celiac sufferers. In addition, the Extension Toxicology Network (EXTOXNET) released this report on Cutaneous Toxicity and absorption.
3. It shouldn’t be surprising that things like cleaning products contain harmful chemicals and detergents. What was surprising to me as I started looking at ingredients was that ingredients can be “proprietary” and do not necessarily need to be disclosed. I found that when I was looking for colorants and fragrances in my soap, that this was considered a “trade secret” and was legitimately not required to be disclosed.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to identify which products contain these hazardous ingredients. While cleaners are the only household products regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act, their sellers aren’t required to reveal these products’ ingredients. These ingredients are considered “trade secrets,” so government regulations are actually designed to protect this proprietary information, not to protect human health or the environment.” from life.gaiam.com
Things like phthalates, Perchloroethylene (PERC), Triclosan, Quarternary Ammonium Compounts (QUATS), 2-Butoxyethanol, Ammonia, Chlorine, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenols, Diethylene Glycol, nonylphenol ethoxylate, formaldehyde, petroleum, perchlorethylene and butyl cellosolve have all been linked to a number of reactions (you need only look at the warning labels on all of your household products), including respiratory, circulatory, hormonal and carcinogenic long term effects.
4. Even things we’ve been “sold” as healthy alternatives or as “necessary” requirements, can be potentially harmful. Fluoride is the best example of this I can cite. When I started to look at our toothpaste as a potential toxin, I wanted to give my dentists the benefit of the doubt. That was, until I found two research papers located on the American Dental Association’s own website about Fluoride Toxicity.
From the Journal of the American Dental Association: “Conclusions. There is weak and inconsistent evidence that the use of fluoride supplements prevents dental caries in primary teeth.” and “Mild-to-moderate dental fluorosis is a significant side effect.”
Where my kids are concerned, this just didn’t seem like a worthwhile addition to their daily hygiene routine.
I have posted some of the Hygiene and Cleaning products I make from scratch on my website, these have evolved over the past year and I’m currently posting updates to these posts, based on our experience with them over time.
So, has it made a difference? YES! First, I save a ton of money!
Also, since removing commercial shampoos, both my son and myself have a healthy skin and scalp. Yet, there have been a few times we’ve reintroduced shampoo (even organic versions), only to find that the itchy, dry, scaliness returns within 1-3 uses.
AND, since removing commercial toothpaste (confirmed after our most recent dental cleanings, just within the last 2 weeks), my daughter has had an area that they wanted to put a sealant on actually harden up and reverse the damage/softness, my son who had a series of cavities in his baby teeth has had a significant whitening and hardening of his teeth, and even my own gum health has dramatically improved. Personally, both my dentist and hygienist were amazed when they asked what I had done differently in the past 6 months and my answer was “I threw your toothpaste away and made my own!”