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Is there formaldehyde in gelatin capsules?

Question from T. S.

I have recently heard that the capsules used to package vitamins and herbs are not good for you. Is this true? if so, what is a good alternative to getting the benefits of the these nutrients if not in pill form. It seems difficult when most of us have neither the time or resources for growing our own food.

Debra’s Answer

The capsules used to package vitamins and herbs come in different types.

A standard gelatin capsule is made from animal gelatin. This is a by-product of cooking the meat and bones. If you have ever made meat stock for soup, when you chill it, you will notice that it gels. Gelatin, whether sold plain, mixed with fruit flavoring and sugar to make a popular dessert, or made into gel caps is this same gelatin.

There are also vegetarian capsules with are made from plant based cellulose.

Both of these geletins are safe to eat.

The problem with gel caps is they may contain formaldehyde as a preservative.

The Organic Materials Review Institute–an organization that provides certifiers, growers, manufacturers and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production, handling, and processing–has a whole twenty-five page review of gelatin that tells everything you would ever want to know about what gelatin and gel caps are made of and how they are made, written in 2002.

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Controlling Ants With Kindness

Question from L. S.

I would like to share an update on dealing with the annual ant visitation which seems to coincide with the winter rainy season.

As you discovered, they can be washed away with a sponge [I wrote this in Home Safe Home – DLD]. However, mine come back, and keep coming back until the rainy season ends.

As a now long time composter, my appreciation and even reverence for life forms has increased; I no longer wanted to kill these little fellows; they are just seeking to survive, and hungry, therefore, how could we both get our needs met?

The solution popped out at me. I set out a very small saucer with about a tablespoon of honey in it. Being hungry, that’s where they went, and that’s ONLY where they went. After a bit, I moved it from the counter top to a place not visible to unsympathetic guests. Voila! Happy ants; happy me.

A mildly amusing side note was, though they came in a steady stream, they hadn’t eaten it all by the time Spring arrived! How cool! All that happiness for us both created by a very small offering.

Yours in a chemical-free and love-filled life,

Debra’s Answer

What a lovely solution! Thanks for sharing it.

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Natural and Synthetic Latex Pillows

Question from M. K.

I am thinking of buying some latex bed pillows but I know some have a mixture of natural and synthetic latex. Since you would be breathing so close to the pillow for 8 hours a day, does synthetic latex outgas?

Debra’s Answer

Home Environmental Consultant and Certified Bau-Biologist Mary Cordaro says “Yes, synthetic latex can outgass. Depending on how much synthetic latex is present, the level of outgassing will vary a great deal. If you’re sleeping directly on a synthetic latex pillow, you may be inhaling chemicals from the synthetic latex, which is not advisable, especially since the proximity of the materials and the exposure time is so lengthy. Synthetic latex is formulated with raw materials from petroleum products, which can be harmful to human health. In the United States, it is legal to claim that latex is natural even if it also contains some synthetic latex, so it’s important that you purchase your pillow from a reputable company.”

I agree with Mary’s evaluation. However, my actual personal experience with the 40% natural/60% synthetic latex strips on the wood slats under my mattress has been that I have noticed no petrochemical odor, nor have I experienced any negative health effects.

Eliana Jantz, Founder of Shepherd’s Dream, where I purchased the strips, responded to your questions with this answer: “I haven’t heard any complaints of outgassing from people who use our 40% natural/60% synthetic latex. And by now we probably have at least a hundred folks out there using it. I sleep on a bed without the latex but the guest bed has latex and I’ve never noticed any latex smell in the room where this bed is.

“We decided to use the blend because the Connecticut manufacturer the only one in United States manufacturing latex offered a 25 year warranty on the blend and only a 5 year warranty on the 100% natural latex. Besides that, there was no detectable difference in smell when we tested both samples side by side. Now, we are offering cotton covers for the latex slats so there doesn’t need to be any direct contact with the latex. The covers slip over each individual slat and makes a very nice finish.”

When I first received the strips, they had a very strong odor of the natural latex itself and no petrochemical smell. The natural odor did diminish over time. It took about six weeks before I could even have the latex in my house. Now it is fine. Occasionally I will notice a slight odor in warm weather. For this reason, I personally wouldn’t have a whole latex mattress or a latex pillow–but that’s just me personally! I see no reason why others shouldn’t use these products if they are OK with the latex.

My recommendation would be to choose natural latex if you want a latex pillow, just to be on the safe side. Or, buy a cotton or wool pillow.

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