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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Hand Sanitizing: An Answer to Germophobia?: A simple and safe method of eliminating germs rests in everyone's home, says Dr. Harlan Sparer

Apr 01, 2013 02:52PM ● By Dr. Harlan Sparer

The grandfather of sanitary procedure is Dr. Ignatz Semmelweis, who in the late 19th century suggested that obstetricians wash their hands after they performed an autopsy or touched a dead body. He was ridiculed by his fellow doctors and died penniless, dispatched as a crazy person from practice as a medical doctor.

In today’s disposable society, we don’t have the time or energy to wash our hands with soap. We employ antibacterial agents for hand “sanitizing”, including the use of carcinogenic Agent Orange derivative Triclosan (present in many preparations). The net effect of using these sanitizers is to accomplish several unintended results.

The outer layer of oil on the skin, which acts as an antimicrobial agent, is stripped away. Friendly bacteria are killed, as well, causing a void filled by sanitizer-resistant bacteria such as methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an infection that only responds to a few antibiotics, if at all. It was virtually nonexistent prior to our love affair with sanitizers and antibiotics. Regular use destroys the outer layer of skin, exposing less bacteria-resistant tissue below it. They are generally ineffective against viruses.

The most popular ingredient in sanitizers after Triclosan is alcohol. While contact with alcohol kills some bacteria, it lacks the ability to emulsify and wash away body fluids, dirt and many other substances that are full of unhealthy organisms. Ultimately, there is no substitute for good old soap and water for sanitizing our hands. The shortcuts just aren’t as effective, despite their convenience. They ultimately create many more problems than they solve.

We know the main reason why they are ubiquitous—to make money. The side effects of sanitizing agents are substantial and will increase in years to come. Remember that if by using them, we become part of the problem, not part of the solution. The solution is simple: just wash hands thoroughly with ordinary soap and water.

Dr. Harlan Sparer is a DNFT chiropractor practicing in Tempe. He can be reached at 480-245-7894 or [email protected]. For classes, recipes and videos, visit or

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