Volatile organic compounds - Dangerous gases in the room air?

What are VOCs?

VOC is short for "volatile organic compounds" - in German "volatile organic substances". These are compounds with high vapor pressure and / or low boiling point. The methane gas is often left out here, or explicitly demarcated. [1]

How are VOCs defined?

Different countries define VOCs quite differently, so no exact one Description, which is universally applicable, available. Generally they are divided into:

→ VVOC - "very volatile organic compounds" with a boiling point between 0-50 ° C and 50-100 ° C

→ VOC - "volatile organic compounds" with a boiling point between 50-100 ° C and 240-260 ° C

→ SVOC - "semi-volatile organic compounds" with a boiling point between 240-260 ° C and 380-400 ° C

→ POM - "associated to volatile organic compounds" with a boiling point above 380 ° C [2]

Where do VOCs come from?

VOCs are natural and synthetic. Natural sources are e.g. Humans, animals, plants and microorganisms. Synthetic sources are e.g. Furniture, as well as construction, and plastics. The most common natural VOCs are the plant terpenes, which are all derived from isoprene. The most common synthetic sources are mainly road construction and in the plastics industry. Here are mostly organic solvents, such as dichloromethane, chloroform, acetone, ethanol or ether used. Humans have the pheromones as a natural source of VOCs. Here comes the statement "can not smell" ago, because the smell of other people can give us an opinion about this person. Plants use pheromones much more often than humans, so they are used to warn other plants against predators, to announce the maturity of the seed carriers or fruiting bodies, to attract bees and other pollinators or to keep out predators and microorganisms.[3]

What are the problems with VOCs?

VOCs can reach the groundwater, which is particularly evident in settlements with a very developed transport network with a high concentration. In addition, VOCs are very problematic when they occur in high concentration indoors. This can be achieved by e.g. contaminated building materials, molds, or even by room fragrance lamps occur. Health effects include headache and fatigue, but also respiratory irritation and hypersensitivity reactions. These symptoms are titled "Building Disease" or "Sick Building Syndrome". This sensitivity to VOCs is usually the case in humans who have a pre-existing disease such as have an allergy to the allergens in essential oils. But it can also, like an allergy, arise without pre-existing diseases or early signs. In the case of essential oils, substances such as eugenol, linalool, geraniol, citronella or menthol are often the trigger of such VOC sensitivities. These substances are also known allergens and can also trigger contact allergies. In addition, VOCs are partially flammable, so sometimes the essential oils, and can thus lead to explosions at a certain indoor air concentration.[4]

How can you protect yourself from VOCs?

To be protected from VOCs you have to pay attention to some things, so you can:

→ Lower the humidity in the room to prevent mold

→ Ventilate frequently to prevent the accumulation of VOCs in the room air

→ Professionally determine and eliminate possible constructional causes

→ Buy a room air ionizer that removes the VOCs from the breath.

The latter possibilities are quite expensive and expensive in the case of structural engineering causes. One should therefore act as preventively as possible, not corrective. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not possible.[5]



Teeth whitening - What is used and why?

What is tooth whitening?

Teeth whitening is the removal of internal or external discoloration of the teeth. The external discoloration of the teeth is caused by food and beverages in the dyes contained in them. Thus, e.g. Coffee, tea and tobacco smoke. The external discoloration can be eliminated by simple oral hygiene. The internal discoloration of the teeth may be reduced by e.g. Antibiotics, sulfide-forming bacteria, invading substances or injuries of the dental pulp arise. They can not be eliminated by normal oral hygiene.[1]

How does tooth whitening work?

Teeth whitening from external discolorations can be removed by commercially available oral hygiene products. More stubborn discolorations are treated with special preparations containing almost all activated charcoal. But even natural substances can whiten the teeth. For example, Salt, baking soda, apple cider vinegar (be careful with acidic agents, these can attack the teeth), turmeric or coconut oil. Teeth whitening of internal discoloration happens only after consultation with a dentist, and only with healthy teeth. There are different methods.

→ „"Home Bleaching" - Here the dentist makes a precisely fitting plastic splint of the teeth, which is filled with a bleaching solution at home, and is worn for several hours.

→ „"In-Office Bleaching" - Brightening is performed directly at the dentist. Higher concentrations of bleaching agents are used, which are doctor-coated directly on the teeth.

→ „"Walking Bleach Technique" - Here the crown of the tooth is drilled out, filled with a bleach, and closed again. After a few days, this tooth is reopened, emptied and closed.

For a long time one tried to bleach teeth, whereby also many senseless or even dangerous means were used, so for example. Urine or acids. Today, urea peroxide is used. This requires no specific pH and is less reactive than normal hydrogen peroxide. So far it is classified as harmless and highly effective.[2]

What are the problems of teeth whitening?

Possible consequences of tooth whitening are not yet clear, but it can cause a strong pain sensitivity of the teeth to temperature as well as sweet and sour for a few days. In addition, in the case of long-term treatments, a weakening of the tooth structure and demineralization of the teeth can take place. Furthermore, prostheses such as crowns or fillings can not be bleached, resulting in a color difference. Often, the bleaching agent is also swallowed, which leads to mucous membrane irritation. Freely available preparations may have harmful ingredients and may be misused by the layman. In addition, teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure, and must be rescheduled more often to ensure permanent lightening. This is very expensive with around 300 to 600 € for both jaws, or 20-50 € per tooth. These costs are also considered purely cosmetic, and are not covered by health insurance.[3]



Why oral care is important - and what is used

What is oral care?

Die Mundpflege umfasst alle Handlungen, welche darauf abzielen, das Mundgefühl und Wohlbefinden, sowie die Mundhygiene zu verbessern, zu behandeln und in Stand zu halten. Hierzu zählen die allgemeine Mundhygiene, mit der Entfernung von Plaque und Mikroorganismen, die Bekämpfung von Mundgeruch, und Zahnfärbung, sowie die Mund feuchte, das Wohlbefinden innerhalb des Mund- und Rachenraumes, sowie Entzündungs- und Schmerzlinderung.[1]

What is used for oral hygiene?

In der Medizin bezeichnet man das Vorbeugen von Krankheiten im Mundbereich Prophylaxe – vom griechischem „prophylásso“ – „von vornherein Ausschließen“. Man unterscheidet die Gruppenprophylaxe von ganzen Bevölkerungsgruppen und die Individualprophylaxe jeder Einzellperson. Funde aus der Steinzeit zeigen, dass selbst dort Mundhygiene angewandt wurde. Bei unzureichender Mundhygiene können Plaque, Karies und Parodontitis auftreten. Plaque ist eine Mischung aus Eiweißen, Kohlenhydraten, Phosphaten und Mikroorganismen. Letztere werden durch hauptsächlich Zucker genährt und produzieren Säure und Schwefelverbindungen. Bei Karies fällt der pH-Wert im Mund durch die Säuren der Mirkoorganismen so tief, dass Mineralien aus dem Zahn gelöst werden. Parodontitis ist die Entzündung des Zahnfleisches, durch welche die Zähne an Halt verlieren. Im schlimmsten Fall führt dies zu Zahnverlust. Man unterscheidet zudem unter Zahn- und Protesehygiene. Beide dienen der Entfernung von Essensresten und Plaque. Hierbei können die Zähne nicht nur pur chemisch, sondern müssen mechanisch, gereinigt werden. Man sollte ca. 2 mal am Tag die Zähne putzen, wobei man eine Zahnbürste mit mittelharten, abgerundeten, Borsten, mit einem ca. 30mm langem Kopf verwendet sollte. Man sollte die Zähne nicht direkt nach dem Verzehr von säurehaltigen Lebensmittel putzen, da man sonst den Zahnschmelz abreiben kann. Mittel der Mundhygiene sind z.B. Zahnpasta, Zahnbürste, Mundgele, Zahnseide oder Mundwasser. Inhaltsstoffe sind hauptsächlich : Chlorhexidinglukonat, ätherische Öle, Propandiol, Ethanol, Extrakte aus Minze, Salbei und Kamille, Kaliumnitrat, Calciumcarbonat, Strontiumchlorid, Oxalate, quartäre Ammoniumverbindungen, Zink- Verbindungen, Fluoride und Fluorverbindungen. [2]

What do which ingredients do?

Mixtures of aminofluorides and zinc fluoride will dissolve plaque, but may also cause yellowing of the teeth

The alkaloid Sanguinarin from the bloodroot has an antibacterial effect and kills bacteria that cause tooth decay or bad breath.

Surfactants can remove bacteria from the teeth and thus facilitate rinsing.

Chlorhexidinglukonat wirkt antibakteriell und Plaque lösend. Es ist das wirksamste Mittel gegen Plaque. Jedoch gilt es als einziges Mundhygieneartikel nicht als kosmetischer, sondern als medizinischer Inhaltsstoff.

Essential oils with menthol, methyl salicylate or eucalyptol are used to dissolve plaque. These oils form thin films on the teeth, kill bacteria, and prevent their accumulation.[3]

In addition to cleansing, there is also a reduction in sensitivity to pain from closing the dentinal tubules with arginine and metal salts.

In dental hygiene, fluorides are the best researched substances. They ensure a better acid resistance of the teeth, they also reduce the sugar fermentation and remineralize the teeth. As a general recommendation, you should regularly use fluoride-containing toothpaste. This should have a concentration over 1000ppm. If this is not enough, there are toothpaste with higher fluoride salaries, but these are expensive and prescription.

Daneben gibt es noch das Xylitol, welches nach Studien, bei 5 Gramm am Tag die Entstehung von Plaque quasi komplett verhindert. Es bildet Komplexe mit Calcium und Eiweißen im Speichel, wodurch es die Zähne remineralisiert. Zusätzlich können Mikroorganismen Xylitol so gut wie gar nicht verdauen, besonders die Gattung Streptococcus mutans ist hier betroffen, was zu deren absterben führt.[4]

In the Arab world, the buds or branches of the toothbrush tree are also used as toothbrushes. The so-called Mizwak has a fluoride content of 8-22ppm, as well as silicon, calcium sulfate, tannins, saponins, flavonoids and chlorides. [5]

What about oral hygiene products of natural cosmetics?

Many oral hygiene products already use essential oils and herbal extracts. Mint, chamomile, bloodroot and sage are the most commonly used plants from which these raw materials are extracted. However, the effect of toothpaste is dependent on the added fluorides. After Stiftung Warentest toothpaste without Fluoride were rated as "poor (5.0)".[6]



PZ study on Xylitol[4]


Stem Cells in Cosmetics - Anti-Aging Miracles?

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells of organisms that have the peculiarity of being able to divide indefinitely and become as good as any other cell type. The mechanism of infinite sharing is not yet clear, but what is certain is that the environment affects which cell type the cell becomes. They are distinguished by the ontogenetic, individual, age of the organism. The early, embryonic, stem cells can develop into any tissue, the late, adult, stem cells can only develop into specific tissues. Even plants have stem cells, but they also have the ability to regenerate the entire organism.[1]

Where do stem cells come from?

Embryonic stem cells are obtained from the blastocyst. The blastocyst is the accumulated cell accumulation, which occurs approximately from the 5th and 6th development day, and requires 8 weeks to complete, starting from conception. This developmental phase is called embryogenesis. In Germany, the production of embryonic stem cells is banned in so far as it affects or ends the life of the embryo. Importation must be permitted and is only permitted for high-level research purposes. Adult stem cells occur after the development of the embryo in the organism. They have a much less pronounced differentiation potential and can only become specific cells. They are extracted from the blood of donors who undergo the process of stem cell pheresis.[2]

Why are stem cells in cosmetics?

Stem cells have been used for a long time for the treatment of leukemia in particular, but they should also be able to cure many other serious diseases. Plant stem cells are interesting for cosmetics manufacturers. The injection of endogenous stem cells from adipose tissue has been shown, after some tests, to have an anti-aging effect. The plant stem cells, however, offer a number of problems, such as:

Stem cells can not last long without very specific circumstances, the shelf life of a product would be only a few days if you're lucky.

Whole cells can not be absorbed through the skin.

It is not proven that plant stem cells even have a positive effect on humans?

Any research will address the use of adult, or cultured, embryonic stem cells. And even here there were side effects such as tumors or excessive bone growth. [3]

Conclusion on plant stem cells:

Without serious and reproducible research and studies, plant stem cells are just pretty promises, for expensive prices, without much impact. You pay a lot of money for unclear effects and unknown risks.[4]



What is the history of cosmetics?

What is cosmetics?

The word "cosmetics" comes from the Greek, from the verb "kosméo" which means "I order" or "I decorate" means. A cosmetic article is any care and thus, improvement, regeneration or maintenance of the body. The cosmetics themselves aim in different ways to improve the appearance and well-being. By cleaning, perfuming or maintaining the natural body image is to be improved. There is also the decorative cosmetics, which is out to retouch, contour and model the complexion.[1]

What is the history of cosmetics?

Even in prehistoric times, face paintings have been applied, e.g. Finds from Spain and France. The most famous but are the early civilizations of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.[2]

The Egyptians:

The Egyptians were probably the first to advertise cosmetics in such a way. For them, body hygiene and purity were extremely important. They had a wide range of active ingredients and tools. e.g. Creams and ointments or perfumes, with milk, honey, sea salt, aloe vera, roses, and different vegetable oils, e.g. Almond, myrrh, and lily oil. But they also used decorative agents such as the green malachite, the red cinnabar or the silvery galena. Here, especially the make-up of the eyes was important, so much so that the sign of the Egyptian eye stood for the word beauty. [3]

The Greeks:

In Greece it was similar but here a greater emphasis was put in care and smell. But even decorative, the faces were laminated with lead white. In addition, a variety of mixtures were designed here.[4]

The Romans:

The Romans made a distinction in cosmetics, they shared the consumption of cosmetics from the very simple to very luxurious life.They used countless ingredients, concoctions and tinctures, with rose olive oil, beeswax and expensive exotic fragrances. Here was the cosmetics but also for the first time in criticism.[5]

Early Christianity:

In early Christianity, ointment oils have become an important cultural commodity, e.g. Hospital anointings or for baptism. However, the cosmetics were criticized more because women should go more to inner values, according to the belief. Who uses cosmetics was titled as narcissistic.[6]

The Middle Ages:

Towards the Middle Ages, the church prevailed in Europe strong, and so expensive cosmetics was considered even pagan. Women who nevertheless used cosmetics, especially decorative ones, were discredited and suspected of prostitution. At the same time, cosmetics flourished in the Ottoman area, with the largest rose-growing area in Europe.[7]

The Renaissance:

Here, the cosmetics were only gaining in importance, and was also enriched by the early beginnings of chemistry. Cosmetics found a big boost in use especially in powders, pomades and generous amounts of perfume. This was prevalent mainly in the upper circles, and spread throughout the Baroque and Rococo.[8]

The Industrial Revolution:

From the middle of the 18th century to the 19th century, the "naturalness was rediscovered", whereby decorative cosmetics have fallen into disrepute again. The care was based on old findings on aloe vera, rose water, oils, etc., and expanded this with scientific novelties.[9]

The modern era:

In the 20th century, the cosmetics industry exploded. It started with a few companies from France, and local companies followed quickly. Not only the applicative, but also the decorative cosmetics had risen. The science, especially the chemistry had also come to great conclusions at that time, and enriched the cosmetics in addition. This resulted in many claims, wishes and interests of customers and industries at the same time. Tattoos and piercings, which were previously intended for outcasts, came more and more in fashion. However, this enormous boom meant that the look and body image now wanted to be embellished at any cost. The entire appearance, clothing, hair, body, face etc. were now important parts of society. To increase the attractiveness and erotic countless preparations, cures and treatments, as well as make-up products and home remedies came to light. And people were just too willing to try them all. From a full body cleanser were shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, hair straightener, hair fixator, etc. From a color of powder are whole pallets with colors and functions for different areas. And with increasing demands and ideals, the market is growing with offers. Often, however, was only paid to the appearance, but not on the health. Everything that was promised to help was also used, so preparations with lead and mercury salts, Tollkirschen tinctures, even hydrochloric acid, ammonia and hydrogen peroxide or even radioactive radium came on the market.[10]

The 21st century

All these dangerous practices have been stopped by EU Regulation 1223/2009 since 2013. Some, e.g. the consumption of radium was already abolished before that. The contents, which are forbidden or restricted, are registered in the CosIng database. In addition, the INCI should provide information about the exact content of a cosmetic product. However, despite strict rules and regulations, the problem of secularism has remained in many developing countries, and the local people are reaching for every straw they have. For example, In Africa, skin lightening is still operated with mercury.[11]

The natural cosmetics as another branch:

Natural cosmetics have been an additional branch of the cosmetics industry for quite some time, and are becoming increasingly popular. It has no exact description, only the commonly associated values ​​of man and the environment form its definition. At Naturkosmetik it is about the well-groomed, gentle and respectful treatment of man and nature. Some want, apart from a lot of chemistry, others do something good for nature. For something to be called natural cosmetics, it has to meet certain criteria in terms of ecology. For example, Plants that are used are grown in accordance with certain regulations and must not be threatened with extinction. In addition, e.g. no arable land created by deforestation, or extensive chemical processes are used.[12]



Inflammation - What are anti-inflammatories?

What are inflammations?

Inflammations are all local immune reactions that cause reactions such as redness, swelling, itching or feeling of warmth in connection with harmful stimuli[1].

How do they develop and what happens when an inflammation occurs?

The causes of inflammation can be different, and need only exceed a certain inhibition threshold, which is different from person to person. Radiation, mechanical stimuli (friction, injury), chemical stimuli such as acids or bases, and allergens and microorganisms such as viruses or fungi can cause inflammation. The inflammation starts from the stimulus to reduce the blood circulation for a few minutes, then follows in the affected area hyperemia, over-circulation. The permeability, permeability, of the vessels is increased by messenger substances such as histamine, whereby plasma proteins penetrate into the affected area, where they initiate phagocytosis, and provide mast cells. In phagocytosis, foreign bodies are crushed and the affected area protected from them. Inflammation can be dangerous because it also destroys healthy tissue. Especially in pulmonary fibrosis or atherosclerosis this is life threatening[2].

What can be done against inflammation?

here are environmental influences, as well as medical remedies for inflammation. There are 4 groups of drugs.

COX inhibitors are substances that inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which is important for the biosynthesis of inflammatory mediators. COX inhibitors also have analgesic effects, e.g. the ibuprofen or aspirin. Side effects may include gastrointestinal ulcers or kidney damage.

steroids such as Cortisone bind to the same receptors as the inflammatory mediators. Side effects include e.g. Edema.

Immunosuppressants, of which there are many different, including the glucocorticoids. Effects and side effects are substance specific.

Cytokine inhibitors that inhibit the cytokines, the signaling substances. These are mostly proteins that block the respective receptors[3].

Local cold is considered anti-inflammatory as it slows down the metabolism and lowers blood circulation. In addition, UV light is said to help fight inflammation by contributing to vitamin D synthesis. There are special and very individual cures for this[4].

Are there anti-inflammatory substances in nature?

Yes, many plants have ingredients that are anti-inflammatory. These substances are used by the plant mostly to defend against foreign bodies and microorganisms. For example, The true sage as the main ingredient possesses α-bisabolol, and real arnica sesquiterpene lactones. Tinctures and creams often contain sage or arnica, and reduce redness, itching and swelling. Menthol acts e.g. Cooling and used against airway inflammation [5].