Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Carrageenan Ingredient in Skincare

What is Carrageenan?

 Carrageenan, or Chondrus Crispus is a red seaweed found in the Atlantic Ocean. The seeweed must be boiled or have alkali treatment to produce a gelatonous material that makes a great thickener for skincare products as well as food.  Without a thickener in many food and cosmetics the ingredients would separate and be to thin. Some everyday products ingested with carrageenan are yogurt, almond milk and coconut milk.

What are the Dangers of Carrageenan?

Previous studies showed that degraged carrageenan can cause colon cancer if ingested.  The FDA approves undegraded carrageenan for foods and cosmetics.  The difference of the two is the weight where the undegraded, or FDA approved one being heavier.  A researcher by the name of Joanne K. Tobacman M.D., professor of clinical medicine at U of Illinois College of Medicine.  She has concluded that the FDA undegraded carrageenan is not healthy, being an inflammitory to tissue, and can be harmful to the stomache and intestines.  Mice exposed to low doses also showed to develop a glucose intolerance, much like diabetes. (1)  A study showed that undegraged carrageenan decelerates sulfatase enzymes, which can hurt health and function of cells. (2)

Is Carrageenan Safe in Cosmetics?

In skincare and cosmetics The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has deemed it safe because very little is able to be absorbed. However, with your skin being the biggest tissue in your body, you will want to not apply a product that causes inflammation, or adverse effects to cell function. 

Miss Violet's advice?  If you are planning on doing something long term, choose a product that doesn't have this ingredient, for it may cause adverse effects over time.  Studies have concluded over a short period of time, no side effects are shown, making studies not be conclusive. The safety is more centered around food, rather than skincare. 

Why is Carrageenan in Organic Food?

Alternatives to carrageenan can be locust bean gum or guar gum, which are much safer.  Many organic foods contain carrageenan and can get away with this because a rule with Organic food is that if an ingredient is essential to the production of the product (like baking soda for cookies), than it may contain that ingredient.  With alternatives, it's harmful nature, and the fact that informed organic shoppers are prepared for their food to separate for health reasons, it isn't necessary in many foods. (3)

(1) http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401181/Is-Carrageenan-Safe.html
(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3495619/ 
(3) http://www.cornucopia.org/2013/12/carrageenan-get-organic-food-anyway/

 

 

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