If you are a lady of African descent like me, you have to pause and read this article first before relaxing your hair again.
It is no news that Fibroids have been on the rise in the last decade, especially in young ladies age 35 to 45. In the past, it wasn’t so. Older women were more prone to fibroids and they were few.
In fact, statistics predict that up to 90% of black women will develop fibroids before the age of 50. And this is becoming a reality as a lot of women under the age of 30 are now being diagnosed of fibroids on a daily basis.
Now, let me come home. The cases of fibroids in Nigeria are alarming. Young ladies who are not married are even having fibroids now than older women.
As a researcher, I tried finding the root cause of fibroids years back and most of the information I was seeing online was that it was genetic.
I knew something was not adding up because some ladies who I know personally who have fibroids have mothers and grandmothers who never had this.
With my knowledge in natural healing, I know genetics is not a death sentence. Many have lived long life with faulty genes just by controlling their lifestyles and nutrition.
Your genetic condition can be likened to a gun, a gun is not dangerous until you pull the trigger. The triggers are unhealthy lifestyles, exposure to toxins, and unhealthy living. If these triggers are not pulled, you will live a healthy life.
So, I knew deep down that there have to be something else, apart from genetics responsible for the high rise of fibroids. After many years (like 2 or 3 years to be precise), I finally got the answer to my question.
I am a member of an online Whatsapp health class and in this particular class where I got my answer, a naturopathic doctor was the guest speaker. She talked on toxins, one of the main causes of diseases and death in our world today.
She said so many things and advised us to be as simple and natural as possible. Then what struck me was when she said studies have linked hair relaxers to fibroids. That was my answer.
I am a very curious person, so I went online immediately after the class to confirm or discredit it because I relax my hair every three months. And to my greatest surprise, it is true.
This is what this post is all about and I want to share my findings with you. Read to the end to know how hair relaxers cause fibroids, what uterine fibroids are, how to detoxify your body of these dangerous chemicals, and how to straighten and soften your African hair naturally.
Hair Relaxers Have Been Linked to Uterine Fibroids
One of the studies I came across is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. One reason why I believe this study is because African women use hair relaxers than other races and that is why we are the main victims of fibroids.
In the last few years, they have been an increase in the number of relaxers and hair products targeted towards black women and right now, these are being scrutinized and investigated and a study has proved that they cause fibroids.
This study was led by Dr. Lauren Wise of Boston University. In this study, she followed and studied the lives of more than 23,000 pre-menopausal black girls from 1997 to 2009.
Women who participated in this study agreed that they have use relaxer at one point in their lives. They had different frequencies and durations and they also reported having scalp lesions, chemical burns, and they stated the formula used.
Close to 94% of women in this study used hair relaxers at least once yearly. Some women use it up to seven times a year. This study proved that black women who used relaxers have higher risks of fibroids than women who don’t.
The chances of fibroids increase on the duration and frequencies of relaxer application. This study also revealed that the formula of relaxer used had no effect on the incidence of fibroids since they all contain parabens and phthalates.
The occurrence of fibroids correlated with the duration of hair relaxers and the number of burns and scalp lesions these women experienced.
What are Hair Relaxers?
Hair relaxers are products made of creamy chemical substances used to relax the natural texture of our hair. These products make the hair kinky, curly, and more manageable.
The chemicals in these relaxers alter the virgin texture of your hair. They reduce curls by breaking your hair strands through “controlled damage”.
Many African women who use relaxers just want to straighten their hair without any problem but that is not the case again. I will be showing you various ways relaxers affect your health apart from fibroids.
How Relaxers Affect Your Health?
Hair relaxers are of three main formulas and they cause scalp lesions and chemical burns. They also strip your hair of its natural oils and most of the chemicals used in these products are not regulated.
Relaxers contain parabens and phthalates (the compound responsible for causing fibroids). These chemicals are hormonally active and they create harmful estrogen effects on our cells.
The three formulas of relaxers are thio (containing thioglycolic salts), lye (sodium hydroxide), and no lye (calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate).
It is a common believe that no lye relaxers cause fewer burns and scalp lesions. There is little evidence to support this as I use this and also get scalp burns.
Another study I came across also revealed that relaxers make young girls attain puberty early. Little girls who are exposed to relaxers early start menstruating before the age of 10.
Early menstruation also raises the risks of uterine fibroids. Some health experts are of the opinion that the early periods are caused by relaxer products targeting black women.
This particular study I am talking about studies 300 women. They were of African American, African Caribbean, Hispanic, and White origin. They were asked the age of their first menstrual period and it started between the ages of 8 to 19.
The study revealed that Black women who used relaxers quite early in their childhood and also certain hair oils containing some chemicals had their first periods earlier than other races.
These studies I shared and many more done on the harmful effects of these individual chemicals found in relaxers show that black women are exposed to harmful chemicals through these harmful hair products.
These chemicals in the relaxer and other hair products enter your skin through your scalp. Your scalp has pores just like your skin, it doesn’t have to get burnt before it enters your body.
Also, most of these relaxers whether they are actually no lye or not cause scalp lesions and burns which will aid the smooth entry of these dangerous chemicals and toxins into your body.
They also affect your brain cells and you have headaches, mental fog, inability to focus and many more. If you have ever relaxed your hair, these studies show that you have a higher risk of fibroids as a black lady.
Other risk factors for fibroids are obesity and wrong eating. Women who don’t eat greens regularly have high risks of fibroids.
Even the high rate of breast cancer now in women has been linked to all these chemicals in our hair and skin care products. Most of these hair relaxers and hair products contain parabens, benzophenones, and additional UV screens that have been linked to breast cancer.
What are Fibroids?
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in the uterus of a woman. They are made up of muscle fibers and they can be of varying sizes. Some can be as small as a pea while others as a large as a melon.
According to studies, fibroids occur up to 9 times more in black women than in other races. Black women also have fibroids earlier than other races.
This racial disparity looked like in a mystery in the past but now we know better. It is a well-known fact that fibroid growths are influenced by estrogens.
This is why it happens a lot in women of reproductive age because the levels of estrogen are higher at this time and they shrink during menopause when the levels of estrogen are low.
Fibroids grow within the walls of the womb and they are grouped into three.
- The Submucosal fibroids grow underneath the lining of the uterus.
- The subserosal fibroids grow outside the uterus
- The intramural fibroids grow inbetween the muscles of the uterus.
Other types of fibroids grow on stalks that grow out from the surface of the uterus. They can also grow into the cavity of the uterus, they are called peduncles.
Fibroid tumors are estrogen-dependent. Phthalates and parabens have estrogenic effect on your cells. They disrupt the natural ability of the body to produce estrogen.
This will trigger the development of fibroids.
Signs and Symptoms of Fibroids
Many women have fibroids but do not know because they are no symptoms for now. The symptoms can also be influenced by some factors such as the location of the fibroid, the number of the fibroids, and the size of the fibroids.
However, the most common symptoms in women who have uterine fibroids are:
- Leg pains and back ache
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Frequent urination
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Prolonged menstrual bleeding (it lasts for more than a week)
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
It is rare for a fibroid to cause acute pain when it has outgrown its blood supply and starts dying.
Natural Ways to Soften and Straighten your Hair
There are lots of natural ways to straighten your and soften your African hair. Go online and look for natural hair blogs and pick the hair regimen that suits your hair type best.
Also, remember to drink a lot of water. Good hydration keeps your hair soft and healthy. Natural oils are also good for your hair. They make it soft and easy to take care of.
They also boost the growth of your hair and prevent breakages and hair fall. Examples of these natural oils are coconut oil, argan oil, extra-virgin olive oil, shea butter, etc.
These are natural, safer, and have no side effects. They are in tune with your body and your body recognizes them and knows how to utilize them.
Avoid too much intake of animal protein, it makes your hair brittle and coarse. Let most of your proteins come from legumes and green leafy vegetables. Your hair needs less protein.
Greens also reduce your risks of fibroids and help you maintain a healthy weight. Remember that obesity is a risk factor for fibroid. If you take in less animal protein but notice that your hair is still coarse and brittle, then you have to check your hair products.
Check the label of your hair products and avoid those with the following names: amino acids, proteins, keratin, elastin, and collagen. Use products that do not contain any of the following mentioned.
Avoid any hair products that contain phthalates and other chemicals even if they are not relaxers. They will still cause the same effects. Make sure you drink a lot of water and also hydrate your hair.
Our hairs have a lot of pores and we can lose the moisture that is in them. Our hair moisture comes from the root, the scalp. So you have to make sure your scalp is always moisturized.
It shouldn’t feel dry or else your hair will be dry too and fall off. Use the right shampoo and conditioner and they should be free of harmful chemicals.
To make the natural oils more effective, mix them with water before applying them on your hair. Oils or butter do not contain water and water is the best moisturizer.
Mix them with water to help your hair absorb them better. Oils don’t work for dry hair if you do not mix them with water. If you can’t mix them with water, then wet your hair and apply them.
When you do this, your hair will be well moisturized and the oil will seal the pores to prevent the escape of moisture. Your hair will transform quickly and start to look smoother and healthier.
Also remember that your hair is prone to dryness every time you use shampoo. So always end your hair washing with a good organic conditioner.
If your hair is too coarse, you can consider using a leave-in conditioner. Or if you want to wash it out, you warm the conditioner slightly before use and leave it on your hair for at least 30 minutes.
How to Detoxify your Body of Dangerous Chemicals
Detoxification is the key to natural health and healthy living. Toxins and dangerous poisons that get into our bodies through body and skin care products we use can cause harm to our bodies.
In natural healing, toxins are one of the main causes of diseases and deaths. And from this post, we have seen some of the toxins that get into our bodies and cause fibroids, breast cancer, hormonal imbalance, and other dangerous complications.
Exposure to all these over the years leads to an accumulation in the body and this, in turn, would make one ill. Your body has a natural process of detoxification but this can be slowed down or even stopped by unhealthy living, continuous exposure to toxins, and some medical conditions.
Natural ways you can help and hasten the elimination of dangerous substances in your body is through the juicing, intake of green smoothies, alkaline diet, cleans and full detox.
I wouldn’t advise you to try some detox methods without the supervision of a naturopath because they can cause various discomforts and you will need a help of a naturopath to go through this phase successfully.
Some of the discomforts and symptoms you would notice are body aches, sore throat, skin rashes, constipation, flu-like conditions, and nausea.
So, I will make it simple for you. I will show you how to detoxify effectively without this detox programmes. However, if you have access to a naturopathic doctor, you can request for a cleansing and juicing programmes.
A clean and healthy body free of chemicals and toxins all depends on your diet. The nutrients taken in will bind to dangerous substances and escort them out of the body. This is a no-brainer.
A high intake of fiber-rich foods will clean your bowels and colon and help prevent colorectal cancer. Health experts agree that death and life starts in the colon.
Regular intake of green vegetables also does same. They kill cancer cells, clean the body of foreign and poisonous substances and improve your overall health.
Increase your intake of herbs, seeds, nuts, and healthy oils. This will give your body the right nutrients they need to get rid of toxins, toxins, and heavy metals that are dangerous to your health.
Physical activities help to get rid of toxins. It induces sweating and the body eliminates all these unwanted substances through the sweat released. Working out facilitates detoxification and it also boosts the circulation of blood.
This promotes faster detox. You should also include walking in your daily activities, Hippocrates called this the “best medicine for man”. If you walk for at least one hour daily, your body will be clean of all these harmful chemicals.
3. Massage and dry brushing
Massage therapy promotes the circulation of blood at the surface levels and it also helps eliminate minute toxins.
Dry brushing is the process of rubbing your whole body with a dry brush. This improves blood circulation and eliminates dead skin cells.
This induces sweating and this is a way the body eliminates unwanted and poisonous substances. Engaging in these acts will open your skin pores and aid the excretion of toxins.
This also helps relieves respiratory symptoms like bronchitis and colds.
5. Deep breathing
This gives the body enough oxygen and it also eliminates excess carbondioxide from the lungs. Oxygen is a fuel for your cells, your body will run smoothly and detoxify if you take in more fuel.
This effective alternative medicine helps to increase and regulate the flow of energy in the body. It promotes detoxification by increasing the flow of blood in certain areas that are difficult to reach, e.g. the lower back.
Sleep is a powerful healing process. During a state of deep sleep, your body detoxifies and resets all your organs back to square one. Adequate hours of sleep rid the brain of neurotoxins.
As an adult, you need at least 8 hours of night sleep. It is highly important for your body.
8. Naturopathic chelation
This is as effective as IV treatment in cleansing the body but you have to do it under the supervision of a naturopath.
Natural Foods that Boost Detoxification
Natural foods that are powerful detoxifiers are:
- Limes, lemons, and citrus fruits. They have a rich content of pectin and this powerful compound can eliminate heavy metals from the body.
- Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage are dense in alpha lipoic acid (ALA). These natural antioxidants detoxify the body and eliminate free radicals also.
- Fermented foods are rich sources of probiotics. These healthy bacteria promote detoxification and a healthy body. You can make your pickled vegetables at home or you take other fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, etc. They help the liver carry out its process of detoxification.
Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids but I don’t advise people to go for it because most brands have heavy metals.
So, it is better you go for fresh wild caught oily fish or you opt for cod liver oil.
- Sulfur-rich foods like garlic, onions, cucumbers and others boost the production of glutathione in the body. Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant in the body, it detoxifies and it is produced and recycled by the body.
- However, high levels of toxins in the body can affect this process. Intake of sulfur-rich foods will boost the ability of the body to make this.
Exercises also boost the production of glutathione in your body.
- Mud bath; this is a powerful detox bath that helps your body get rid of toxins. It eliminates heavy metals and toxins from the body.
Add Bentonite clay to your bath water and soak in it for at least 1 hour. This clay will bind to unwanted substances in your body and eliminate them through your skin.
You skin will also be smooth and hydrated after this treatment.
- Seaweed is another powerful detoxifier. They remove heavy metals like copper and mercury from the body. It is rich in iodine and this vital nutrient eliminates fluoride, a heavy metal.
When you load the body with iodine, you will displace fluoride, heavy metals, and other toxins from your cell receptors and flush them out of the body.
- Chlorophyll is another powerful detoxifier and you can load up on this by taking more green smoothies. Chlorophyll binds with toxins and makes the body unable to absorb them.
It also controls our cravings for sugar and helps in the fight against cancer.
- Water, this is the last but not the least. Water is a powerful detoxifier. So you have to increase your intake of purified water daily. Avoid water with chlorine and fluoride.
- Increase your intake of herbs such as ginger and turmeric. These are powerful root herb that detoxifies the body of dangerous substances and they also fight inflammation.
In Ayurveda medicine, they are used to treat liver and digestive disorders. Their active compounds Gingerol and Curcumin are powerful detoxifying agents.
You can add them generously to your meals and you can also boil them and take the decoction daily. People on some prescription drugs should check with their doctors before trying these because there can be a drug-herb interaction in some cases.
A lot of naturopaths have been telling us not to put things on our skin that we can’t find in nature. The rule is if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.
Medically, anything you put on your skin is a drug. That is why there are prescription and non-prescription creams applied topically to treat skin problems and conditions.
We should be careful in protecting ourselves against invasion of toxins which can be detrimental to our health. Look for more natural ways to go about your skin care and hair care.
I have given helpful tips above, choose the one that works best for you. You can formulate your own hair regimen and this will even help you build a relationship with your hair.
It will also make you love your African hair better. All these chemicals are toxins and they are not meant to be in your body.
Even if a company claims that they their products are natural or organic, they still contain phthalates and since relaxers are not regulated by a governing body, they are mandated by the law to list all the ingredients contained in the product.
So, this simply means that the hair product you are using can contain parabens and phthalates and they won’t be listed on the label. Some companies can list them as “fragrance”.
It is better to avoid all these hair relaxers and other hair chemicals. You can’t be so sure that the product you are using is free of phthalates. You will be on the safer side by doing hair relaxers totally. An excerpt from the study says:
“Because the vast majority of hair relaxers list ‘fragrance’ as an ingredient, and 100% of popular fragrances tested in a 2002 study were found to contain phthalates, most hair relaxers likely contain these chemicals. In addition, some hair relaxer products directly list phthalates as one of their chemical ingredients.” (Wise et al. 2012)
You will be surprised to note that phthalates are not the only chemicals that disrupt your endocrine system in hair relaxers. There are many more in these products.
From this post, we can see that the so called “advantage” of hair straightening using relaxers is nothing compared to their dangerous side effects. So please think again before you relax your hair.
And also read the labels of products you buy carefully before using them. Please note that this post is not meant to bully anyone into the natural hair gang or to make those who relax feel bad.
I was relaxing my hair every three months despite the natural hair stuff going on around me until I came across this information. I just want to share my findings and I hope this will help a lot of black women out there.
I am not urging you to go natural because of any selfish reason but for the sake of your health only. Your health matters more the texture of your hair. Straight hair can be easier to manage but fibroids and breast cancer are not. Thank you.
- Hair Relaxer Use and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata in African-American Women NCBI
- Hair Relaxers and Fibroids?- An Update from Dr. Wise
- African American Women and Fibroids: 6 Risk Factors VIVA.EVE
- New Study Finds Exposure to Toxic Phthalates in Decline; Consumer Demand for Safe Cosmetics a Factor Report