The People's Perspective on Medicine

Antibacterial Compound Targets Muscle in Mice and Minnows

The antibacterial compound triclosan may carry unsuspected risks. Triclosan is found in most over-the-counter antibacterial soaps, many toothpastes and mouthwashes. It is also found in some deodorants, toys and trash bags. In the past, concerns have been raised that triclosan may have endocrine disrupting properties.
Now, researchers report that this antibacterial chemical can disrupt muscle cells in mice and fish at levels comparable to human exposures. In the mice, heart rate dropped about 25 percent after exposure, while minnows exposed to triclosan in their water were less efficient swimmers. The researchers conclude, “We have shown that triclosan potently impairs muscle functions by interfering with signaling between two proteins that are of fundamental importance to life.” They suggest that regulatory agencies may want to reconsider the safety of this nearly ubiquitous compound.
[PNAS, online Aug. 13, 2012]

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
0- 0 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 12 comments
Comments
Add your comment

>Several years ago I began using Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid baby soap because I am extremely sensitive to fragrances
I forget about them because I’m not in the natural food groceries as a matter of course.
If you like the soap, you’ll probably enjoy to movie–it’s on Netflix now. Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soapbox. What a guy!

> So my question is this: when is it most necessary to use antibacterial soap and what antibacterial product (if in existence) does not contain Triclosan?
Never (in day-to-day use, outside of health care facilities), and, why would any other unnecessary antibacterial product be any safer?
You have an immune system. Unless it is somehow compromised through some other medical challenge, let it do its work. It works fine with a little help.
We read that “triclosan et al kill 99% of germs.” what we don’t read /* MAKING NUMBERS UP HERE ALERT ON */ is that regular ivory soap kills 98% of the same germs, /* MNU OFF*/
and that the germs that kill you are going to be inhaled from someone’s sneeze or transferred through some other contact with body fluids that seemed like a good idea at the time, not washable.
For most people, in most cases.

L Williams, just a good plain soap and water in the most critical areas such as hands, underarms and crotch are all you need. Soap doesn’t reach the rest of my body and the soap I use (sometimes) is hard milled coconut oil soap. It looks like Ivory but a lot milder. My hubby uses it daily.
People are always commenting on my skin, I’m almost 67, and when I tell them that I don’t use soap they are horrified. In fact, I am in our hot tub every evening and so do not soap anything normally. I don’t even need deodorant most of the time. If we have eaten out at someplace new I can tell when the food is full of additives. My body will stink!
No I haven’t always done this and in my younger years believed all the hoopla. I’ve been doing it my way for close to 20 years. No makeup for almost 30 years.
Our body needs these microbes! We cannot live without them. It is best that we take care of them and us. Get rid of the nasty ones on the hands of course but leave them alone on the rest of your body!
Nothing better than a good natural soap and water for the hands!

I avoid antibacterial soap products too. I buy Softsoap Soothing Aloe Vera liquid hand soap which is non-antibacterial and doesn’t contain triclosan. I usually buy the soap at Target or Big Lots.
A lot of regular bar soap doesn’t contain antibacterial agents either.

If I were that allergic, I’d bring a travel-sized bottle of soap I could tolerate with me.

I buy a liquid soap that is coconut oil based and is kind to my hands. I buy the larger sizes and refill my dispensers.
It is incredibly important for kids to be exposed to dirt and everything else. I agree that most parents are too hygienic. I let my son play in mud puddles and with the neighbor kids when they were sick. Their parents thought I was crazy but were relieved to have their kids occupied.
My son’s first cold was when he was a teenager and decided that he was old enough to decide if he needed vitamins or not. He decided he wouldn’t take them. I simply waited. About two weeks later he got his first cold! He became a believer and hasn’t had a cold since. He is now almost 34!

Are there any safer alternatives? I just finished taking Microbiology and was influenced to buy antibacterial body wash. I looked at the contents of that bottle as soon as I heard about this study and to no surprise, there it was: Triclosan. So my question is this: when is it most necessary to use antibacterial soap and what antibacterial product (if in existence) does not contain Triclosan?
I would really appreciate a response; often I post here only to be left in the dark. I’m not panicking over this, I am just an informed and health conscious consumer .
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Antibacterial soap makes sense in a health care setting but not at home. Usually, washing well with ordinary soap and water works well without any potentially harmful chemicals.

Several years ago I began using Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid baby soap because I am extremely sensitive to fragrances. This soap is all natural, organic, & fair trade. It DOES NOT contain triclosan or other such chemicals. Bronner’s soap comes in other formulations which contain natural essential oil fragrances such as lavender, peppermint & almond. Bronner’s has other personal care products in addition to the soaps. I have purchased the soap at Amazon and local stores such as Whole Foods, Earth Fare, natural food stores & co-ops. I have also seen it at some chain stores such as Target. You can order directly from Bronner’s. http://www.drbronner.com/
For laundry I use powdered Charlie’s soap, which does not contain any fragrance (or antibacterials), and is the best laundry detergent I’ve ever used. I use the soap and the laundry pre-spray. Both are amazing. Charlie’s has other products, too. These are available at some of the same places Dr. Bronner’s products are, as well on the Charlie’s Soap website. http://www.charliesoap.com/
There’s no need to use products that ultimately harm you! These two companies make products that don’t cause allery & asthma attacks, dermatitis, and other problems.

I am really aggravated by the current trend to have antibacterials in everything, and especially in hand washing liquids. I am allergic to triclosan and many other such additives. My hands turn red, swell and itch terribly when exposed to them.
Since the soap dispensers do not tell you what is in them, I am cannot wash my hands with anything but water when using public restrooms and even in other peoples homes! I am not a happy camper!

This day and time the younger set [20’s 30′ 40’s] think their children are supposed to be dirt and germ free. I am almost 74 years old and have attended the N.C. State Fair since I was six year old. I guess I have probably missed 10 years of going to the fair. I have petted the animals, etc. and they only time I washed my hands was after going to the restroom. “Knock on wood,” I have never been sick.
I have always heard children need to get dirty to build up t heir immune system.
The old saying ” you need to eat a peck of dirt growing up.”
Let children be children and get dirty once in a while and maybe they can enjoy petting the animals.

I just looked on our anti-microbial soap label and it contains not triclosan, but triclocarban. Would these be the same element?

I wish it were possible to buy liquid hand soap that didn’t promise to kill 99% of everything… I’m happy to get rid of the dirt and let my own immune system take care of the rest. It’s that 1% that gets away that gets my attention.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^