It is widely known that our immune system is our first line of defense against illness. There are many ways in which our immune system can be compromised. Most people are aware that we need to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep to keep ourselves healthy but what is less known is how exposure to chemicals can be detrimental to our immune system.
A focus on a healthy immune system is an important part of combating viruses, diseases, and other sorts of health issues. As a culture, we get so focused on finding vaccines or medical cures for illnesses, it seems like we often forget a first line defense. This article is being written at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, which prompted us to do some research to find out if chemical exposure reduces immune function. Even if we were not at the beginning of this outbreak, this research is still compelling and applicable because infectious disease still remains in the top five causes of death worldwide. Having a strong immune system is our first line of defense against being affected strongly by infectious disease.
As a natural and organic store, we’ve always just had this underlying belief that staying away from chemicals is better for us. Our customers are often interested in staying healthy (along with keeping the earth healthy) and that is what brings people to search out our products. Too often it is just a general understanding that chemicals are “bad” or that maybe they are carcinogenic. However, there is a plethora of peer reviewed scientific research that shows exposure to environmental toxins and certain chemicals significantly reduces immune function.
We found that decreased immune function is very strongly linked to exposure to toxins. Research shows that exposure to environmental toxins in utero or as a small child affects immune function later in life. In people with healthy immune systems, exposure to a threat, such as being exposed to a virus, increases the number of immune cells in the blood. Many studies show chemical exposure (compared to not having chemical exposure) leads to reduced levels of immune cells (decreased levels of lymphocytes and cytokines etc.) when encountering an immune threat. If immune cells are reduced, we become more susceptible to disease because there aren’t enough of those good defense cells to fight the threat. There is even evidence that children exposed to toxins are more likely to have a weakened immune system specifically against the influenza virus later in life.
There are many chemicals that act as immunosuppressants in adults. Please see this article for an overview of many common environmental toxins and the effect it has on the immune system. It specifically shows that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and benzopyrines (both of which are emitted by polyurethane foams, found in many non- organic mattresses) impair healthy immune function.
Of course we are passionate about organic mattresses, bedding, and natural bed frames (it is what we do and we truly believe in the many benefits that come from it). Although reducing chemical exposure everywhere is beneficial, we are focused on reducing chemical exposure in mattresses and bedding because humans tend to spend a significant amount of their life sleeping on a mattress (8 hours of sleep a night is ⅓ of our life!). Traditional mattresses can be loaded with chemicals, from flame retardants to polyurethane and other foams (which can be filled with solvents that are known to decrease immune function). All of our organic mattresses are free of flame retardant chemicals and contain no petrochemical-based foams. Sleeping organic not only means that we are trying to ward off cancer, but we are trying to have an overall stronger immune system so that our body can fight these new infectious diseases that are mutating and spreading worldwide.
We are pulling for health and strong immune systems! Let us know if we can help.
Further reading about the health benefits of organic mattresses and bedding:
This article confirms that mattresses are known to release toxins: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20190710/is-your-mattress-releasing-toxins-while-you-sleep#1
An article reviewing why organic mattresses are a healthy choice: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/03/should-you-ditch-your-chemical-mattress/
This is an article on formaldehyde, and that it is a known carcinogen : https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-fact-sheet