India is known for its natural remedies, its connection to nature. Ayurvedic and holistic medicine is big here. You find a lot of ayurvedic products in stores, such as cosmetics, medicine, and see many clinics ranging from a 30-acre luxury spa in Whitefield, where Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall spent a few days in November for a rejuvenating retreat, to a doctor practicing under a tent on the sidewalk. India cultivates this image, and many places advertise the purity and simplicity of their merchandise. Purity of the product equals purity of the mind.
Hoping to detach myself from the West’s grip on unnecessary chemicals, I bought natural tooth powder. It was a nice little experiment, and since I don’t like mint nor toothpastes that taste like food (which really limits your choices) it sounded like a good idea. Also, contrary to what I expected, Indian people have rather nice teeth. They may not have all of them, but I haven’t seen as much visible tooth decay as in other poor countries. My dentist told me this can be attributed to the traditional use of neem to clean teeth.
The selection of toothpastes here is astounding. You can find all the American brands, plus some local ones such as “Himalaya”. I settled for “Dabur”. And it was so much fun.
It comes in a nice red shiny container, one side written in English, the other in Hindi, with the same happy family pictured on both sides. It took me about five tries to open the cap. There is a little hole at the top that you have to punch down, but no matter what tool I used, there was no little hole. I think a drill would have been the best, but I don’t have a drill here. I tried twisting it open, but the flat of a knife blade finally did it in.
It’s a fine, dark red powder. I dipped my toothbrush in water, dipped it in the powder, and head down facing the sink, brushed. Have you ever done the cinnamon challenge? It’s less intense, and you don’t have to swallow the powder, which is a big plus! It’s spicy, tingly, sweet, with cinnamon and clove flavor, both of which I like. Once you get past the initial shock to your taste buds, you take a look at yourself and the mirror and get completely grossed out: the powder remains dark red, and it looks like you smeared mud all over your teeth. It’s a pretty nasty look! For a second I wondered if it would stain my teeth but I don’t think it did.
Brush for a little longer, and rinse. You have to rinse well and use the bristles to wipe off what’s lodged in between your teeth, but it’s not difficult to do. The sink looks like a mouse got murdered in there!
My teeth were all nice and clean. It’s really a nice feeling, like after a professional cleaning. I was all happy. I asked E. to try it and he agreed with me. I used it a couple of more time and decided it was a win. I had finally found a toothpaste I liked, and my mouth tasted like a fancy Christmas cookie.
But all natural doesn’t mean all good. Natural can be dangerous. Heck, natural can be deadly. Arsenic in its pure form is found in nature. Mushrooms can kill you. So can tobacco.
Why mention tobacco? Because they put it in that tooth powder.
I searched for reviews on this product and was disgusted. Yes, they put tobacco in this powder, as well as in most Indian brand toothpastes, without listing it in the ingredients. So much for a healthy product. It doesn’t get much worse than scrubbing tiny tobacco particles onto your tongue for several minutes twice a day.
To say I was disappointed is an understatement, but I learned my lesson. Do your research. And remember that some natural remedies are at best hocus pocus, or worse, poisonous.