BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 31 May '19

How to use the power of plants to combat the scourge of indoor air pollution

This article first appeared in our spring ’19 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Organic Revolution, distributed with the Guardian on 31 May 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Awareness of our outdoor air quality is on the rise, but not so many people are talking about the fumes we breathe at home. We spend about 90% of our time inside, yet according to the Environmental Protection Agency the air inside a typical house, school or workplace is two to five times more polluted than the air directly outside. Toxic household products – from cleaners and plug-ins to room sprays – all add to the cocktail of chemicals inside your home.

Toxic ingredients

‘Many so-called ‘natural’ or ‘eco’ household products still contain perfumes that are generally synthetic chemical molecules; these are combined with raw materials often derived from petrochemicals, as many have been classed as sustainable’, explains Angelika Davenport, toxin free campaigner and founder of Tincture. ‘Ingredients such as phenoxyethanol can be naturally derived and synthetically produced, but in both cases its use is linked to eczema and severe skin inflammation.’

Another ingredient to avoid is benzisothiazolinone, which is an immune system toxicant and an irritant for skin, lungs and eyes. So why is it in ‘eco’ products? ‘Because it has been classified as biodegradable under the ‘eco’ labelling rules!’, Angelika explains.

Ancient monastic wisdom

Angelika began investigating common toxic products and ingredients through concern for her children; her son Freddie suffered from severe asthma and hay fever and her daughter Cosima developed dermatological problems. ‘I wanted to protect my children in their own home’, Angelika explains. ‘That is where my Tincture journey began.’

ESSENTIAL OILS AND THEIR BENEFITS

  • Sage: Anti-fungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory
  • Eucalyptus: A fantastic immunity booster due to its antibacterial properties
  • Chamomile: Treats skin diseases, stress and sleeping disorders
  • Peppermint: Helps with digestive disorders, headaches and lack of concentration
  • Frankincense: A great antiseptic for minor wounds and insect bites
  • Lavender: A very potent antiseptic, best known for its general relaxation properties.

Click here to find out why the Tincture Starter Set is a My Green Pod Hero

In her quest to create a range of affordable, 100% natural products, Angelika looked to ancient monastic wisdom. In their time, monasteries were not only havens of spiritual devotion but important centres of knowledge, learning and healing. Monks were highly educated individuals and pioneers of modern plant-based medicine.

‘The monasteries used to operate large, complex cloister gardens growing medicinal plants’, Angelika explains. ‘We looked at all the herbal ingredients used to treat the sick and prevent the spread of disease and incorporated a blend into our natural raw material base, to enhance not only the product performance but also our wellbeing and health.’

The power of active botanicals

Today volumes of scientific evidence support the active properties of many of the botanical ingredients used in medieval times. Some active essential oils are known to have a number of healing and cleansing qualities, from antibacterial and antiseptic to deodorising and antidepressant properties.

Bergamot has been found to have both antibacterial and anti-fungal activity against campylobacter, E. coli, listeria and staphylococcus. Studies also support the use of bergamot for alleviating symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. Bergamot is just one of the ingredients used in Tincture formulations, which on average comprise over 30 different plant extracts.

Some plants have been scientifically proven to reduce indoor volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by as much as 80%. ‘My personal favourites are the golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum), a fast-growing vine, and the spider plant, which has been found to have one of the highest formaldehyde removal capacities’, Angelika tells us. ‘The peepal tree and areca palm can also give off oxygen for 24 hours, improving the overall air quality in your home!’

A silver bullet

In addition to plants Angelika uses another natural resource, silver, to keep Tincture bottles free from bacteria. Silver is a known antimicrobial agent that works by attacking bacteria’s metabolism. The addition of silver makes the bottles safe for multi-use, as the plastic can’t leak into the formulations to contaminate water systems or household surfaces.

‘The benchmark for the development of our products has always been that they have to work and also outperform current eco standards’, Angelika tells us. ‘At the same time, the health of your family and pets – and that of our planet – is of utmost importance in everything we do and develop. We have taken great care in selecting totally natural ingredients that have been assessed for their quality and sustainability.’