Brush up on post-chemo problems

Monday, March 20th, 2017

CHEMO_TOOTH_BRUSHING

In 2011, when Joanna (known as Joe) Brindle, now 48, was going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer, she felt nauseous and was frequently sick. What surprised her was that when her treatment finished the symptoms continued several times a week after she brushed her teeth. In addition, ‘From the time I started chemo, everything I ate – except for raw carrots – tasted horrendously of salt.’

Because of the continued vomiting, Joe found it difficult to keep food down so she was in danger of becoming undernourished. Joe also has type 1 diabetes and this played havoc with her blood sugar and insulin levels. Looking at the timing of her sickness, Joe suspected that the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) in her toothpaste might be the culprit. Joe is a dentist’s dream because she loves cleaning her teeth several times daily. ‘My mother always said it’s the best thing you can do. So being sick when I brushed my teeth was terrible.’

One morning, Joe confessed to her boss at Cambio Healthcare Systems in Reading that she was late because of being sick. ‘He suggested I try an organic toothpaste called Boca which doesn’t contain SLS. I have not been sick since I started using it in August 2012, apart from when I ran out of it for a week.’ The all-pervading taste of salt tailed off too, although Joe does not know if this was linked to using Boca.

Boca is a small revolution in dental care because it offers different formulations for day and night. Day Formulation includes invigorating ginseng, caffeine, mint and rose oil, while Overnight Formulation contains soothing camomile, aloe and valerian. As well as being free from SLS (which is also linked to mouth ulcers), Boca excludes triclosan (an antibacterial agent that the US Food and Drug Administration banned in soap but permitted in toothpaste), microbeads and synthetic preservatives (a sealing cap gives an 18-month shelf life). There is anecdotal evidence that the toothpastes may help to ‘outfox’ dental bacteria.

‘When you go through cancer treatment, people give you products to help your skin, hair and nails but not toothpaste,’ says Joe. ‘I want everyone to know how much Boca can help.’

Boca costs £13.99 for Day and Overnight Formulations lasting eight weeks; or sign up online for a free 30-day trial and a discount if you continue with the subscription/boca.co.uk.

 

Wow Chia Seed Drinks are a first in our household because my sceptical husband said he would actually buy them. There are four delicious combos of cold-pressed fruits and vegetables: watermelon and pomegranate; orange, mango and carrot; apple, spinach and kiwi, and blueberry, pear and lemon. Each has 11.36g of chia seeds, which contain protein, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants – and give the drink a distinctive (yet nice) texture. Wow’s nutritional profile compares favourably with others/£2.49 each, stockists at wowchia.com.

 

Aromatherapist Michelle Roques O’Neil’s Inner Light Crystal Clear smelling salts are a modern take on the Victorian staple – perfect for when today’s frazzled heroine is in need of clarity. Pink crystal chunks are infused with invigorating essential oils (eg, clementine, frankincense and wild mint) ‘to snap you out of tiredness or confusion,’ she says. I keep them on my desk/£32 at roquesoneil.com.