Are Sunscreens Safe?

Were you a child of the 60’s and 70’s?

Then you’ll remember that you weren’t allowed to go out in the middle of day in Summer when the sun was at its hottest. And when you did get to the beach or local swimming pool your Mother slathered thick white greasy zinc across your nose and cheeks.  It worked because it was a physical barrier – like paint on your house – blocking the sun’s damaging rays.

You were told to stay out of the sun during the hot scorching midday sun (even though you begged to go out). Sometimes your begging worked, but you had a time limit and, if like me, were made to wear sun ponchos over your bathers with a big hat that was terribly unfashionable.

Once we got to our teen years, and our parents weren’t tracking us, we threw caution to the wind and slathered ourselves with olive oil or coconut oil and laid in the sun for hours (against our mothers’ wishes) in the hope of a strapless all over tan. In fact, I wanted a tan SO MUCH.. ( and being a 2hr bus ride from the beach and no having no pool)… I used to fill my Dad’s wheelbarrow with water and lay in there with just my bikini bottoms for what felt like hours at a time.  I paid the price with a melanoma being removed from my tummy.

Now Fast forward to present day…

Those cover-up-days with super daggy zinc slathered all over us, ponchos and hats are over. Although there is the new SPF bathers for kids, there isn’t much in the way for adults or fashion conscious teenagers right?

Our zest for outdoor activities – all day beach jaunts, swimming, water-skiing, sailing, outdoor picnics etc are incompatible with greasy zinc, daggy hats and sunlight curfews. So in come long-use chemicals sunscreens… cheap, simple to apply and more importantly they last for hours and can be re-applied time and time again allowing us to stay outdoors far longer than nature intended.

Which ultimately means IN our BODIES??

Now before you freak out… NOT all ‘chemicals’ are ‘dangerous’, even if they do have unpronounceable names. Some are safe and cause no harm at all. And for that matter…  ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean safe e.g. Arsenic. So, you must be vigilant and look carefully into these products.

But who has the time? Well me! Because it’s my job to make sure that health is in tip top shape – and that means teaching you all about what goes IN and ON your body.

So, grab a cuppa, and read on…

Here are the ingredients of a very popular 30SPF, TGA approved (Aust) sunscreen…

Phenoxyethanol an anti-microbial preservative that stabilizes products. There have been links to eczema 1 and other allergic reactions. Considered an irritant by the EU and Japan, it can only be used in products if under 1%. However, it is reported that some people still react to amounts of less than 1% [1].

Octocrylene functions as UV Light Absorber and filter. Deemed safe, and used in many sunscreen products, however there have been some studies about this chemical and its effects on the body. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has concerns about bioaccumulation and cellular level changes. And that it may cause irritation to the eyes, lungs and skin [2]. Another study showed that Octocrylene was found in human breast milk. Out of 78.8% of women used some cosmetic products containing UV filters, of which Octocrylene was one of them, 76.5% was found in human milk samples [3]. Research is showing that these ingredients may mimic estrogen and can result in alterations of the reproductive system and result in an increased risk for conditions such as endometriosis. [4]

Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone) absorbs UV rays. Although considered safe, a study at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Chemistry, simulated a real situation and found when Avobenzone comes in contact with chlorinated water and ultraviolet light it can disintegrate. In fact, the UV-A light in a day of sunlight is sufficient to break down most of the compound. Doctor of Chemistry, Albert Lebedev, stated “On the basis of the experiments one could make a conclusion that a generally safe compound transforms in the water and forms more dangerous products. In spite of the fact that there are no precise toxicological profiles for the most established products, it’s known that acetyl benzenes and phenols, especially chlorinated ones, are quite toxic.” [5][6][7]

Phenylbenzimidazole Sulphonic Acid (Ensulizole) works by absorbs UVB rays (not UVA rays) and converts ultraviolet radiation into less damaging infrared radiation (heat). It is water-soluble, and gives sunscreens a non-greasy texture. Considered to be relatively safe, as there are few studies on this chemical, but may cause dermatitis and/or allergic reactions in some people.

So there you have it… What do you think? Would you put a sunscreen made with these chemicals on your skin? Or your child’s or grandchild’s skin?

Even though regulators of these chemicals in sunscreens put limits on the amounts that can be used in formulations, you really have to ask yourself… “What are the effects if I use them regularly?” We know that mixtures of UV filters accumulate. And it cannot be excluded that sunscreen formulations may have estrogenic and other effects on us.[8]  And these chemicals are not just in sunscreens but can be found in our personal care products too.

But don’t despair as there are alternatives – you just have to look.

In regard to being sun safe… these are you options

Look for water resistant, biodegradable, natural low irritant, organically sourced ingredients. Although they are thicker and greasier (actually a good thing – like the old zinc) they are safe and do the job. My favourites are Soleo Organics and Wot Not brands. I’m not affiliated with these brands, I just like them (ALOT). There are MANY fantastic natural sunscreens – do your homework – check the label. If unsure of an ingredient, email the company and ask them. It may seem like hard work, but believe me when I tell you…. being ‘sick’ is harder work!!

AND… always remember to implement these important measures to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

  • Don’t lay out in the sun between 10am to 3pm.
  • Use a 30+SPF Natural sunscreen
  • Sit in shade where possible, or use a SPF umbr.ella (I used to be embarrassed at doing this, but not anymore – especially after living in Japan and seeing their beautiful skin)
    Wear on protective SPF beachwear
  • Wear a hat
  • Wear sunglasses

And remember that the cause of sunburn is UV radiation, and this is not related to temperature, so it can happen on the cloudiest of days. (check the daily UV Index).

Happy Summer. Nat xx


  1. Bohn, S., & Bircher, A. J. (2001). Phenoxyethanol‐induced urticaria. Allergy, 56(9), 922-923.
  2. Environmental Working Group (EWG).
  3. 2008. Endocrine Active UV Filters: Developmental Toxicity and Exposure Through Breast Milk.
  4. 2012. Urinary Concentrations of Benzophenone-type UV Filters in U.S. Women and Their Association with Endometriosis. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012; 46 (8): 4624 DOI: 10.1021/es204415a
  5. 2017. Stability and removal of selected avobenzone’s chlorination products, Chemosphere,Volume 182, Pages 238-244.
  6. 2001. Environ Health Perspect. In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens.
  7. 2012. Sunscreens: are they beneficial for health? An overview of endocrine disrupting properties of UV-filters. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2012.01280.x.
  8. 2005. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. Additive estrogenic effects of mixtures of frequently used UV filters on pS2-gene transcription in MCF-7 cells.






What started out as a casual conversation with a friend about the dangers of many household products turned into an investigation on their effects on the body – YOUR body, YOUR health, YOUR family’s health and the CREATION of a Safe Non-toxic Alternative.

My research uncovered that using everyday household cleaners, air fresheners and bug repellents, hand santizers etc. can result in a multitude of health problems, some that you may be blaming on ‘allergies’.

The first thing I found astonishing is that cleaning product companies do NOT have to list their ingredients on the label, they just provide a website. However visiting their website was nebulous, vague and unclear. Searching for the ingredients list was like searching for a needle in a hay stack. Eventually I found the ingredients, NOT on their website, but by googling Safety Data Sheets for the product.

Now you may want to stop here… grab a cuppa…. as this may take you 20-mins, or so, to read. But I am going so far as to say it’s ESSENTIAL reading, your health depends on it. And I’m not being dramatic just for effect! Which I’ve been known to do 😉

You see, over time, the chemicals in your daily household products can build up in the body, in your tissues, organs and even whole-body systems e.g. Nervous system. This products (chemicals) have a profound effect on the Skin and Gut Microbiome, which can result in health issues.

Just spraying, or applying, these products ‘sometimes’ can trigger an immunological reaction resulting in headaches, skin rashes, sneezing, red watery itchy eyes, sore itchy throat, congestion, sinus problems, tightness in the chest and even difficulty breathing, and that’s just to name a few.

Here is what I uncovered: the COMMON INGREDIENTS found in your everyday cleaning products

SODIUM DODECYLBENZENE SULPHONATE can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, irritating the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Long term exposure may result in dermatitis.  Found in kitchen and bathroom cleaning sprays and liquid cleaning agents.

SODIUM TETRABORATE DECAHYDRATE is basically borax. Commonly used in air-fresheners and cleaners. The jury is still out on borax. Good or bad? There is conflicting information out there. But inhalation may result in …shortness of breath, sore throat, coughs and nose bleeds. In America, the FDA banned borax as an additive in foods. The European Chemicals Agency has named it as being ‘of very high concern’. I’ll leave it to you to decide.

FRAGRANCE is added to nearly all cleaners and air-fresheners so things can smell ‘clean’. What does ‘clean’ really smell like, I wonder…?? Anyway, companies do NOT have to list the source. Mind-boggling, hey? Something we use in our homes, day in and day out and there is no mention of what’s in it! Let’s look at what the research says. A 2007 study in the ‘American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care’ revealed that frequent use of household cleaning sprays is a risk factor for asthma as fragrances were found to linger in the air1. Another 2009 study conducted at the ‘University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’ showed long-term use of cleaning products is recognized as a common cause of new-onset and aggravated occupational asthma2.

DIPROPYLENE GLYCOL BUTYL ETHER also found in Mace spray and brake fluid; and your household cleaning products – eek! The compounds can be absorbed into the body by inhalation and can result in irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and symptoms such as dizziness and headaches. Long term use targets the respiratory and central nervous system.

PROPYLENE GLYCOL can affect the“Integumentary system (Skin), Urinary system (Kidneys) and Respiratory system (From Nose to the Lungs)”. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry3. And knowing all of that, it is still approved for sale. Crazy?? YES!! According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry… Propylene glycol breaks down in the body in about 48 hours. However, studies of people and animals show that if you have repeated eye, skin, nasal, or oral exposures to propylene glycol for a short time, you may develop some irritation”. I wonder what their definition of ‘Short-time’ is?  Day in and day out??

SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES) a detergent and surfactant causes eye or skin irritation in experiments conducted on animals and humans” 4. You can find this ingredient in your home spray cleaners, toilet cleaners, shower cleaners etc.

AMMONIUM CHLORIDE used in glass cleaning and bench cleaning sprays produces strong fumes that are potentially damaging to mucous membranes such as eyes, nose and airways.

HYDROCHLORIC ACID is found in toilet and shower screen/tile cleaners. It’s corrosive and its fumes can result in asthma like symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness 5. Skin contact can blister and burn skin.

TRICLOSAN is a common ingredient in antibacterial cleaners and hand sanitisers. Apparently, an individual can only absorb a small amount of triclosan through the skin or the mouth. However, in a 2004 study of participants aged 6yrs and older, Triclosan was detected in the urine of nearly 75% of the people tested 6. So, on one hand they say it is only absorbed in small amounts, but it is found in urine of nearly 75% of people. Wtf? Other research indicates that, “There is some concern that widespread use of triclosan and other biocides can alter antibiotic resistance in bacteria” 7. Amazing hey, the very thing meant to keep pathogenic bacteria at bay may make it stronger!

BENZISOTHIAZOLINONE is used as a preservative and antimicrobial in room air-fresheners. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates it as a HIGH concern due to its irritation to the skin, eyes and lungs. A 2013 study 8 showed that when combined with Citral and Triclosan (also used in cleaning products) had a negative effect on lung epithelial cells, inhibiting cell growth. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (EU) says due to a lack of data it should not be used in personal care items. But apparently it is ok to spray around the home and inhale it?? Seriously??

Also, Formaldehyde can be used in small concentrations as a preservative in cleaning products and air fresheners. It can interfere with the ability to smell by coating nasal passages with an oily film.

I really could go on and on. There was a heap more ingredients, but you get the picture, right?

And the effects of these chemicals on the Gut Microbiome have not even been researched yet but knowing its detrimental effects on the body it’s hard to imagine it doesn’t affect the microbiome, considering we are more bacteria than cells.

So, what to do?

BIN all your cleaning products – you and your family’s health is paramount here.

What to use instead?

The the cheapest and simplest cleaner is plain white vinegar with a splash of lemon juice. It’s simple, cheap and effective. And if trying to remove stains sprinkle some bicarb on the area, apply the vinegar solution and scrub.

I did you this bicarb/vinegar method for a couple of years but found it wasn’t suitable for all surfaces e.g. wood, leather; and boy it can be messy!

So, I set off to work in the VOI Laboratory to develop an alternative.

My aim was to develop an Organic Cleaning Do-it-all to replace the shelf of products used in most homes. Something safe, non-toxic and highly effective on ALL surfaces that smelt amazing and had (research proven) effective anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic and antiseptic properties.


After one-year of research, and multiple testing participants, the result was… OCD Spray … an Organic Cleaning Do- It -All that could be used on any surface from counters, to floors, to pillows and could clean, disinfect, sanitize, naturally deters pests and be SAFE to use.

I also wanted to provide a concentrate to reduce waste, and allow the end user, to create varying strengths depending on what needed to be cleaned.

EDIT 2020. Lots of people have asked me… “Is OCD effective against COVID-19? Doesn’t it need 70%+ Alcohol to work”. I make no claim to treat any condition, specific bacteria or virus, but rather, present the facts from research. Recent new concerns are emerging about alcohol-tolerant bacteria and viruses. Over recent years, researchers have noted a steady rise in the number of serious infections caused by one particular drug-resistant bacterium — Enterococcus faecium — despite the wide use of alcohol-based disinfectants. 23

Here is the information, and research, about the ingredients used in OCD Spray

CLOVE an antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antibacterial and insecticidal properties. It kills mould rather than just bleaching it.  The antiviral activity of clove oil is from a compound ‘eugeniin’. Its effectiveness is by the inhibition of the viral DNA while having relatively little effect on normal, uninfected cells. Clove oil has an anti-inflammatory effect on the respiratory system and can help clear the nasal passages. It is used as an expectorant (promotes the secretion phlegm) and has been used for centuries to treat various respiratory disorders. As a bonus, it’s an excellent natural Insect Repellent as its vapour is too potent for the olfactory senses of many insects. 16,17,18

EUCALYPTUS is another oil excellent for relieving respiratory problem symptoms such as cough, sore throat, running nose, nasal congestion, bronchitis, and sinusitis. This wonderful oil – sourced right here in Australia – has antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It has been shown to kill bacterial germs in the air keeping rooms clean and sterilized naturally. A 2013 study showed that in just 4-days patients treated with Cineole (Eucalyptus oil contains 60% cineole) “showed significantly more improvements of the bronchitis-sum-score than those of the placebo group” 9. Eucaplytus oil has been shown to be effective against Gram-negative bacteria including some antibiotic-resistant strains and has been reported to have antiviral activity 20, 21, 22

LEMON has natural anti-infection, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antifungal and disinfectant properties. Lemon essential oil can be used on any surface as an all-purpose disinfectant and has proven antimicrobial properties on food-borne pathogens so it is excellent for spray cutting boards, counter tops etc after cooking as it is effective in preventing contamination from,and growth of, pathogenic bacteria. 25

TEA TREE OIL (TTO) is sourced here in Australia (Melaleuca). It has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, and insecticide properties. And if you’ve ever had a whiff of it you’d know why! Potent little bugger! Pathogenic bacteria and microbes lurking in your home don’t stand a chance against this oil. Evidence of Tea Tree’s anti-fungal and antibacterial activity is overwhelming. Tea tree oil is effective in disrupting the permeability barrier of cell membrane structures of microorganisms, with its activity being similar to disinfectants such as quaternary ammonium compounds. As a bonus Tea tree oil is a great insect deterrent. A 2011 study 10 concluded that TTO was effective as a deterrent to the different stages of the Australian sheep blowfly larvae. Not that you have larvae hanging around the home but you do have flies that lay larvae! The study showed that TTO aroma stimulated larvae to leave the wound, and its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties aided in wound healing. Virus titers (laboratory test that measures the presence and amount of antibodies in blood) were reduced significantly with Tea Tree Essential oil and results indicate that Tea Tree essential oil (and Eucalyptus oil) can affect the virus before or during adsorption, but not after penetration into the host cell 26

ROSEMARY is touted as one of the most popular essential oils. Apart from its ability to boost mental activity, I am in love with its ability to help relieve stress. A Japanese 200511 study showed that it can decrease cortisol levels in saliva. Cortisol, our ‘flight or fight’ response to stress wreaks havoc on the body over time. So, by using the OCD Spray in your home you will probably feel a lot calmer 😉 But Rosemary’s wonderful effects don’t stop there. It works extremely well to remove bad odours (keep an OCD Spray in the toilet!!). Its inhalation has shown to improve the body’s immune response can increase the strength of the immune system and help and can help to ease symptoms of chest and nasal congestion, allergies, colds and flu. Another study showed that when mixed with other essential oils e.g. clove and eucalyptus, rosemary oil can be effective against particular viruses and bacteria. In one study it was shown to be effective against S. aureus and S. pneumoniae, two bacteria responsible for postinfluenza pneumonia (Chung & Huh, 2015). This dual activity could be of particular
interest to treat influenza and also postinfluenza bacterial pneumonia infections, a leading cause of influenza-associated death23  The monoterpenes and phenols present in thyme, sage and rosemary essential oils possess noticeable antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral activity. 19

LAVENDER oil has superior antibacterial and antiviral properties but I think the stand out for this oil is its ability to calm the nervous system. Excellent for those of you that are frazzled from working or day, or from the kids. And for all you women who find it hard to sleep – good news – use your OCD Spray to clean surfaces in the bedroom because a 2011 study 12 showed that inhalation of lavender oil showed a significant decrease in mean heart rate (HR) which means the nervous system is significantly calmed by the inhalation of lavender which equals better sleep. Further studies show that many essential oils, such as lavender, can bypass the blood-brain barrier and deliver therapeutic agents to the brain13 exerting positive benefits on the nervous system. As an added bonus mosquitoes don’t like the smell so no more ‘mozzies’ flying around your ears at night keeping you up 😉

CINNAMON BARK has potent antibacterial, anti-fungal and antimicrobial capability that destroys and suppresses the growth of microorganisms mainly due to a compound, Cinnamaldehyde. Research shows that cinnamon oil has antibacterial action against S. epidermidis biofilm cells and compared to other essential oils shows a particularly potent bactericidal and significant inhibitory effect against P. aeruginosa, B. subtilis, P. vulgaris, K. pneumoniae and S. aureus. Cinnamon oil has also been shown to inhibit the growth of molds, yeast and bacteria 27,28,29

SAGE is one of my favourite oils for cleaning. I love the aroma, maybe because it reminds me of Italian food. It has amazing properties… antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal. A 2007 Study 14 tested the antimicrobial activity against 13 bacterial strains and 6 fungi. It revealed that both Sage, and Rosemary, had important antibacterial activity against bacteria’s such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, S. enteritidis, and Shigella sonei. Making it an excellent addition to the OCD Spray. Also, its inhalation can help relieve congestion caused from colds and flu. The monoterpenes and phenols present in thyme, sage and rosemary essential oils possess noticeable antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral activity. 19

THYME another oil I am obsessed with. Maybe food related too?? It has superior antiviral antiseptic, antibacterial and insecticide properties. But probably why I love this oil is because of its ability to inhibit bacterial growth. Thyme essential oil is a wonderful expectorant helping to ease congestion. Much like lavender it is also used in aromatherapy due to its stress-relieving abilities. As an insecticide, it targets moths that tend to overtake your pantry. Use OCD Spray to wipe down pantry shelves and keep the moths away. The monoterpenes and phenols present in thyme, sage and rosemary essential oils possess noticeable antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral activity. 19

Finally, there is a Solubiliser in the mix. Solubiliser is necessary as it combines the essential oils and the water you add, without it would separate and you’d get oil globs on surfaces. I use a Solubiliser that is 35% Alcohol.

So there you have it, information to make an informed decision about what to use in your home (and car) to clean

If you think this information would be useful for family and friends please CLICK on the social media SHARE buttons below. Thanks Nat xx

  1. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (2007).
  2. (2009). Evaluation of cleaning activities on respiratory symptoms in asthmatic female homemakers.
  3. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
  4. Final report on the safety assessment of sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. 2(5): 1–34.  doi:10.3109/10915818309140713.
  5. Medical Management Guidelines for Hydrogen Chloride. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR). Atlanta, GA. (2014) Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014: chap 153.
  6. Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (Fourth Report. (2003–2004). 2009 Report
  7. Aiello A.E, Larson E.L, Levy S.B. (2007). Consumer antibacterial soaps: effective or just risky? Clin Infect Dis 2007;45 Suppl 2:S137-S147.
  8. Kwon, et al. (2013) Cytotoxic effects of air freshener biocides in lung epithelial cells. Environmental Health Research Department, National Institute of Environmental Research, Korea.
  9. Efficacy of cineole in patients suffering from acute bronchitis: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial. (2013).
  10. J.T, James. P.J. (2011). Insecticidal and repellent effects of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil against Lucilia cuprina. Veterinary Parasitology. Volume 184, Issues 2–4, 23 March 2012, Pages 271-278.
  11. T. (2005). Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva. Department of Oral Physiology, Meikai University, School of Dentistry, Japan. DOI:
  12. L.W., Cheng.S.L., Liu. C.F. (2012). The Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on Autonomic Nervous System in Midlife Women with Insomnia. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Article ID 740813
  13. E. Perry. N. (2003). Aromatherapy in the Management of Psychiatric Disorders. Clinical and Neuropharmacological Perspectives.
  14. Bozin, B et al. (2007). Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Properties of Rosemary and Sage (Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Salvia Officinalis L., Lamiaceae) Essential Oils. Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pharmacy and Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Novi Sad, Serbia. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2007, 55 (19), pp 7879–7885. DOI: 10.1021/jf0715323
  15. Other sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC twenty-four seven. Saving Lives, Protecting People.
  16. Daniel, A.N et al (2009).  Anti-inflamatory and antinociceptive activities of eugenol essential oil in experimental animal models. Rev Bras Farmacogn.
  17. Kurokawa, M. (1998). Purification and characterization of eugeniin as an antiherpesvirus compound from Geum japonicum and Syzygium aromaticum. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1998; 284(2): 728-735
  18. Pérez-Conesa, D. McLandsborough L., Weiss J. (2006) Inhibition and inactivation of Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli
    O157:H7 colony biofilms by micellar-encapsulated eugenol and carvacrol. J Food Prot.
  19. Nazzaro, F., Fratianni, F., De Martino, L., Coppola, R., & De Feo, V. (2013). Effect of essential oils on pathogenic bacteria. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland)6(12), 1451–1474.
  20. Astani, A., Reichling, J., & Schnitzler, P. (2010). Comparative study on the antiviral activity of selected monoterpenes derived from essential oils.
  21. Cermelli, C., Fabio, A., Fabio, G., & Quaglio, P. (2008). Effect of eucalyptus essential oil on respiratory bacteria and viruses. Current Microbiology.
  22. Vimalanathan, S., & Hudson, J. (2014). Anti-influenza virus activity of essential oils and vapors. American Journal of Essential Oil and Natural Products.
  23. Pidot, S.J. et al. (2018). Increasing tolerance of hospital Enterococcus faecium to handwash alcohols. Sci Transl Med.
  24. Chung, D. R., & Huh, K. (2015). Novel pandemic influenza A (H1N1) and community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia. Expert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy.
  25. Yazgan H, Ozogul Y, Kuley E. (2019) Antimicrobial influence of nanoemulsified lemon essential oil and pure lemon essential oil on food-borne pathogens and fish spoilage bacteria. Int J Food Microbiol.
  26. Schnitzler P, Schön K, Reichling J. (2001) Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture. Pharmazie.
  27. Prabuseenivasan S, Jayakumar M, Ignacimuthu S. (2006) In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils. BMC Complement Altern Med.
  28. Nuryastuti T, van der Mei HC, Busscher HJ et al. (2009) Effect of cinnamon oil on icaA expression and biofilm formation by Staphylococcus epidermidis. Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
  29. Matan N, Rimkeeree H, Mawson AJ, Chompreeda P, Haruthaithanasan V, Parker M. (2006) Antimicrobial activity of cinnamon and clove oils under modified atmosphere conditions. Int J Food Microbiol.


To pick, or not to pick - that is the Question (1)THE ANSWER…

Pick if it’s ready, BUT pick it properly!!

FIRST establish if it’s ready

If it’s a flaming red mass with no head, it isn’t ready. And if you push, prod and pick at it you are going to end up with either a crater on your face, a pimple the size of Mt Everest with a localised infection. So, be patient, apply a warm compress to the area and let it either come to a head or go away – let’s face it either way is a win!

If it is ready, then follow these simple steps…

  1. Cleanse your face. Never start picking (although tempting) on an uncleansed face as the bacteria present on the skin spread and you’ll get 5 more pimples to replace the one you are about to pop!
  2. Get a warm flannel or cotton pad and hold it on the pimple for about 2-3 minutes. This opens up the pore (like opening the door to push it out!)
  3. Gently pull the skin in an outwards direction (yes out, not pushing in) and see if the pimple pops this way. This is the BEST way as it stops bacteria from spreading under the skin.
  4. If the pimple doesn’t pop this way but you feel it is SO NEAR, then get a couple of cotton buds (Q-tips) and gently push the skin around the pimple – this should pop it.
  5. If you have tried the above and it hasn’t popped, it’s not ready! So stop and come back to it later when it may be ready. Don’t keep pushing as you will end up with a scar! 6. Cleanse the face again and then apply the REPAIR and RESTORE TREATMENT SERUM for to speed up healing.


seed cyclingDo you have issues with your menstrual cycle? Cramps, Back aches, PMS, Low energy, Irregular cycles, Low mood, Skin breakouts, Digestive Issues?

Hormonal imbalances can play a very big role in these symptoms; in particular an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.


The good news is that hormonal imbalances can often be helped with seed cycling. Seed cycling works to help with the regularity and health of the entire cycle by supporting hormone production, binding and metabolism.

Different seeds contain different types and amounts of lignans and essential fatty acids. Lignans help our body bind up excess hormones and fatty acids help with hormone production. Together they work on balancing hormones throughout the entire menstrual cycle.

But first a little about what may be going on. The recipe for seed cycling is at the end of this article.


seedThe female reproductive cycle involves an interplay of hormones that normally results in cyclical changes in the ovaries and uterus. Each cycle takes anywhere from 20 – 35 days, with the average being 28 days, to complete and involves the development and release of an egg from the ovaries and the preparation of the uterus to receive a fertilized egg.

If fertilization doesn’t occur, the endometrial (uterine) lining is lost through menstruation (day 1). Estrogen and progesterone are two of the key hormones that regulate this cycle. Estrogen levels increase during the first part of the cycle; whereas, progesterone levels increase while estrogen levels slowly decrease during the last part of the cycle. It is the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone throughout the cycle that contributes to the symptoms of PMS, menstrual cramps and irregular cycles.


From the time menstruation starts until ovulation is Phase 1. The production of estrogen is essential during this phase. Phase 1 begins on the first day of menstruation and lasts until you ovulate, which is around 14 days.

From ovulation until menstruating is Phase 2. Progesterone is being made and utilized during this 2nd phase. Phase 2 is from when you ovulate, day 14 until the say your menstruation starts.


You’ll need

  • 1 cup Flaxseeds
  • 1 cup Pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup Sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup Sesame seeds


  • In a blender or coffee mill grind the Flaxseeds and Pumpkin seeds. Combine, put in a jar and keep in fridge.
  • In a blender or coffee mill grind the Sunflower and Sesame seeds. Combine, put in a jar and keep in fridge.


  1. Day 1 to 14: Take 1 tablespoon daily of your ground flax and pumpkin seed mix.
  2. Day 15 to menses: Take 1 tablespoon of your ground sunflower and sesame seed mix.

The easiest way to have your ground seeds is to add to salads, with your coconut yoghurt, granola or in a smoothie. Understanding that the raw aspect is so important and taking them daily equally as important.

It usually takes about 3 months before you will start noticing the improvement in your menstrual related symptoms. So no instant miracle 😉


  • Flax and sesame seeds are full of lignans, which block excess estrogens.
  • Sunflower seeds are high in selenium, a trace mineral essential for liver detoxification.
  • Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which supports progesterone release.

Try it out, it’s real food, real safe and you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain 🙂

It’s a good idea to keep a diary so you can track your cycle and see if there is a difference.

Let me know how it worked for you by commenting below 👇👇

Nat 💚


BREATHINGWhen someone says, “just relax” or “chill out” does it make your blood boil?

Well it’s probably a sign that you REALLY need to relax (lol)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried various relaxation techniques. Meditation (half successful), yoga (not successful) and then I came across BREATHING. Well I figured I could do that since it’s what I do all day, every day!!

But guess what, it’s not as simple as that, because the breathing that most of us do every day is Shallow Breathing – that is, breathing through the chest rather than lower lungs and breathing through the mouth rather than the nose.

This type of quick breathing is often a result of our fast paced lifestyle. We’re always in a rush (guilty as charged!!).

But did you know that Rapid Breathing results in a surge of the stress hormone cortisol, increases blood pressure and limits the amount of oxygen we need for optimal health. Not ideal.

The Key To Relaxation is SLOW BREATHING. I’ve tested it (yep took a bullet for you) and can attest to the fact that it WORKS!

And the bonus it that you can do it anywhere, anytime, no equipment required (also, it’s a sort of meditation, so it ticks that box too!)


  • Clearer skin due to increased oxygen intake
  • Calms the mind
  • Helps centre thoughts
  • Lowers heart rate
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves mood

So Here Are My 3 Top Breathing Exercises To Get You Started…

4 — 5 — 6

  • Close your eyes, take a big breath in to the count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for the count of 5
  • Then let it out slowly to the count of 6.
  • Repeat approx 5-10 times.


  • Breath-in for a count of 5
  • Breath out, slowly, for a count of 10.
  • Repeat approx 5-10 times.


  • A bit more concentration needed for this one but it really is relaxing!
  • Using your right index finger close the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril.
  • At the peak of inhalation, switch to closing the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
  • Now breath in through the right nostril, at the peak of inhalation, switch to closing the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril.
  • Repeat as often as you like.

SHARE this post to help others that need to CHILL 😉

Nat xx


Bircher MuesliThe EASIEST and most NUTRITIOUS breakfast you can make in 5 minutes! This is a traditional Swiss recipe created over a 100 yrs. ago by Maximillian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss doctor, who served it to his patients as a part of a healing therapy. The fact that it is soaked overnight helps to improve the digestion and absorption of the nutrient-dense ingredients.

SERVINGS: 10 servings (100g each)

NUTRITIONAL VALUE (100g serving size)
224 calories, Protein 5.3g, Fat 15g, Sat Fat 8g, Carbohydrates 13g, Fibre 4g


  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 4 tablespoons of flaked or slivered almonds
  • 4 tablespoons goji berries (optional)
  • 1 can coconut milk (400ml) OR 400ml homemade almond milk.
  • 1½ cups filtered water (put this in the emptied coconut milk can, swish around, and then put in)

OPTIONAL: Instead of extra water, add freshly squeezed green apple juice for a sweeter taste. However be aware this will change the Nutritional Values.


  1. Put all the DRY ingredients into a large glass dish/bowl (that has a lid).
  2. Mix well with a spoon
  3. Pour on the coconut or almond milk and water. Mix well
  4. Put in fridge. It’s ready to eat after 5 or so hours.
  5. Keep in fridge, lasts 7-10 days.


  • Drizzle with honey
  • Dollop of yoghurt
  • Scattering of fresh berries
  • Sliced banana, apple or pear.


image064In my HEALTH AND WELLBEING articles I predominantly talk about nutrition, and some fitness, but usually don’t delve into mental health. For those of you that know me – you can probably understand why! 🙂

I recently listened to a great TED talk about EMOTIONAL FIRST AID. It talked about that when we cut or injure ourselves we put a Band-Aid or bandage on it. And if we have an infection we tend to it by improving our diet, by taking supplements or a course of antibiotics. But when it comes to our mental health most of us ignore it. As an example, when we’re lonely or experience failure we are told to ‘move on’, ‘get over it’, ‘toughen up’ etc. But we really need to learn how to practice emotional first aid.  Here’s a great TED talk to listen to that will help equip with you with some skills.


image063You don’t need to survive on a diet of lettuce leaves when you go meatless but for the sake of your health I urge you to start cutting down on your consumption. A 2009 study examined the relationship of early death with the consumption of red meat, processed meat and poultry. It showed that individuals that ate red meat (daily) not only ate fewer vegetables and fruits, but (men only) consumed more alcohol. The research concluded that daily consumption of red meat and processed meats (20g a day) directly correlated to an increase risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and digestive tract diseases. Eating poultry was not directly linked to all causes.

So I hear you ask, “What the hell do I eat if there’s no meat?!” …And… “Where will I get my protein from?”.

Heaps of yummy options for Meatless Days… Beans, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, Fruit and Vegetables to create meals like Cauli Chickpea Madras, Spaghetti Marinara with Lentil balls, Cauliflower Risotto, Mexican Bean Chill with Corn chips all featured on my Gut Rebalancing Protocol the list goes on.

And your protein? Don’t worry as you will get adequate protein from all these foods. In fact it’s where animals get their protein from – yes the meat you eat, the protein is from the animals eating plants. Watch this video about plant-based living

Here’s a simple plan to get you started with easy 2 minute meals.


Option 1: Porridge topped with slivered almonds, dusting of cinnamon and topped drizzled with raw unprocessed honey or maple syrup.
Option 2: Smashed Avocado mixed with chopped tomato, red onion and sunflower and pumpkin seeds on crispbread.


Option 1: Pumpkin and Spinach Salad with Tahini dressing and Pine nuts.
Option 2: Open Crispbread sandwich with Hummus Mayo, Sliced tomato and Avocado.



Comment below and let me know how you went on your Meatless day 🙂

Natalie 💚


image042Not the one from the supermarket that is kept in vinegar but the REAL SAUERKRAUT that has been fermented in brine (salt solution). SAUERKRAUT is an excellent pre-biotic. A Prebiotics is a food that serves as food for beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract.  Fermented foods assist in restoring the balance of bacteria in your gut, aid digestion and improve your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat. So rather than popping a prebiotic why not colonize the gut with REAL food!


  • Lactic acid enhances the digestibility of food and promotes the growth of healthy flora in the intestines.
  • Increases Vitamin A & C levels
  • It produces enzymes that help with digestion
  • It produces antibiotic substances
  • Rich in Vitamin K2 (known cancer fighter)
  • Helps cut down on sugar cravings


image061If you’re anything like me, when mid-afternoon hits I usually crave for something sweet.

If I’m not prepared I make ‘unhealthy’ choices so I make sure I prepare a suite of afternoon snacks on the weekend. Here is a sample of some of the snacks I prepare….

  • A jar of mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, brazil nuts)
  • An assortment of fruit: bananas, apples, pears and oranges. (I bought a really nice bowl that I keep on my desk)
  • A slice of some sort e.g. Goji berry slice, bliss balls or Chocolate macaroons. Click here for recipes
  • I make a batch of HUMMUS DIP  cut up a some carrots & celery sticks and keep at work in the fridge for a go-to-snack.

Do you have any quick snacks that you would like to share with the Voi community? Leave them in the comment section!


image040Originating in the mountainous region of Russia it was a process used to preserve milk and its consumption is thought to have contributed to the longevity of its people. It’s sort of like keeping Goldfish. You have to tend to them every couple of days or they may die! The final product ‘kefir’ can be bought from health food stores. Worth giving it a taste before you embark on raising your own.

SO WHAT IS KEFIR? Kefir is a fermented drink that is made through the action of bacterial and yeast microorganism on milk. It is made by adding ‘kefir grains’ (starter culture) to milk (they look a little like cauliflower florets). When the grains are added to milk, the grains shed and the microorganisms inoculate the milk. The grains keep growing while fermenting and these are used for subsequent fermentations.


Both Kefir and Yoghurt are cultured milk products however they contain different types of beneficial bacteria. Yoghurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for friendly bacteria to reside in. However kefir colonises the intestinal tract, which yoghurt does not do.

Kefir also contains strains of bacteria that yoghurt doesn’t have e.g. Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. It also contains beneficial yeasts which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, and remove pathogens and strengthen the intestines. Therefore, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E.coli and intestinal parasites. Kefir has been used through history to treat a range of health conditions.


image036It’s easy to hide upper arms in winter but in a couple of months, when the sun starts to shine, we’re going to have to expose those wiggly, jiggly arms that are starting to look like ham hocks! So what’s the best exercise to keep them in shape? A study at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse compared different exercises searching for the most effective. The best one was the TRIANGLE PUSH UP or also known as the DIAMOND PUSH UP. You start with the plank position (knees on floor for novices) suck in your abdominals, tighten your glutes (butt) and place your hands on the floor with your thumbs touching and your forefingers touching – essentially forming a triangle (or diamond). Lower and raise your body, with your arms, keeping your back straight (don’t let it sag) and abdominals engaged. Start with one set (8-12) reps every second day for the first week, then increase to 3 sets. If you get really good then straighten your legs and keep your knees off the floor. Here’s to Spring and showing those arms!