Category Archives: Children’s Health

Natural Remedies For Head Lice

Another school term has started and with that comes the re-appearance of the head lice plague. The blight of every school mum, head lice provide a never-ending battle for parents. What do you do when you get that call from school “Your child has lice?” If you’re a health conscious parent you’ll look for a natural alternative to the noxious poisons found in insecticide based head lice shampoos and lotions.

natural remedies for head lice

Dangers Of Head Lice Shampoo

Here’s a toxic alert! Skin can readily absorb any product that’s applied to it. Once absorbed it travels to your bloodstream and throughout your body causing toxic effects.

There’s agreement amongst experts that absorption of toxins through the skin is more dangerous than through the mouth. When toxic substances are ingested they are broken down and often detoxified by the liver and kidneys. When they’re absorbed through the skin they travel straight into the blood stream without being broken down first, carrying the full toxic load with them.

One study found that some toxins were absorbed more easily through hairy skin than hairless skin. This makes one wonder whether higher levels of pesticides are being absorbed through the scalp from head lice shampoos and lotions than is expected. Are the toxin levels being absorbed becoming critical?

Apart from the dangers of absorbing the toxins into your body, the chemicals in the shampoo can also irritate the skin especially if the skin is sensitive, as in a child, or if it has any breaks in it.

The chemicals in head lice shampoo can also irritate the eyes.

All insecticidal shampoos and lotions sold in Australia must be registered with the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA) to ensure they comply with safety standards and are effective.

But although deemed safe many of these lotions and shampoos containing pesticide can be harmful to children. Because children’s bodies are much smaller than adults the amounts of toxin in the products can have more impact on their small bodies.

 

Insecticide Shampoos Don’t Always Work

Lice often become resistant to insecticides and many parents find that insecticide shampoos and lotions don’t kill the lice. Repeated unsuccessful attempts to get rid of the pests leaves your child exposed to higher doses of poison without solving the problem.

If you’re in any doubt you need to ask yourself whether the pesticide based shampoos are worse than the problem?

 

Natural Alternatives To Head Lice Shampoo

While head lice don’t carry and spread disease like some other pests, they are none-the-less a real problem.

So how do you beat the problem without poisoning your child?

There are a few alternatives to toxic insecticide treatments. Simply by diligently combing conditioner through dry hair with a metal lice comb you can rid the hair of lice and nits. But it can take a number of attempts. Conditioner stuns the lice for about 20 minutes so they can’t crawl around and if you are quick you can comb them out.

But even more effective is to use conditioner in conjunction with an essential oil mixture.

Some essential oils are very effective at getting rid of lice and nits. Plus the mix can be added to a spray bottle of water and used daily to prevent further infestation.

An essential oil mix first stuns the lice just as conditioner does, but unlike conditioner it also kills them. Lice attach the nits, or eggs, to the hair shaft where they stick like glue and are normally very difficult to dislodge. The great thing about the essential oil mixture is it loosens the nits making them easy to comb out and dispose of before they hatch into nymphs.

 

Essential Oil Head Lice Treatment

A number of essential oils are suitable in the battle against head lice but some, like tea-tree oil which is very effective, can be too strong for children’s sensitive skin.

These ones are more gentle but powerful enough to do the job.

Head Lice Treatment Recipe

To 75ml base oil (coconut is great, or sweet almond) add:essential oil treatment for head lice
Lavender essential oil – 25 drops
Geranium essential oil – 13 drops
Rosemary essential oil – 25 drops
Eucalyptus essential oil – 12 drops

Makes 2-3 treatments. Store any left over in a glass bottle, amber is best.
Be sure to use high quality essential oils. Do not use fragranced oils.

Method

Massage the oil mix through dry hair and leave for two hours.
Shampoo out adding the shampoo BEFORE wetting your hair.
Wet hair and wash.
Put conditioner on hair and comb through with a metal lice comb. This makes it easier to remove all the creatures. To make certain you get all the lice and nits divide the hair into segments and thoroughly comb through each section.
Repeat a few days later to remove stray lice from any missed eggs.
This formula can also be added to distilled water and sprayed over your hair each morning as a lice deterrent.
For really bad infestations the treatment can be repeated every 3 days over a few weeks if needed.
Be generous with the amount of oil used. The bottle will do 3-5 treatments depending on the amount of hair you have.

The extra bonus is your child’s hair will smell beautiful.

Remember to take all the usual precautions: tell your child’s school, tie back hair, don’t share brushes and combs, run bed linen and hats through a hot washer dryer to kill any stray lice and nits.

Head lice infestations are a fact of school life. Check your child’s head regularly. If your child starts scratching don’t panic. Get to work fast to eradicate the pests with the least toxic impact for your child.

natural treatment for head lice

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.
Source articles
http://cincovidas.com/toxic-alert-skin-can-absorb-what-we-apply-to-it%E2%80%94including-cosmetic-chemicals
http://raisingolives.com/oils/treating-lice-naturally-with-essential-oils

Stevia – The Key To Kicking Your Sugar Habit

sugar Kicking the sugar habit is easier said than done. For some people even making the decision to get rid of sugar from their diet is beyond thinking.

One of the biggest health pushes of 2013 was to encourage both us and food manufacturers to dramatically cut back the amount of that ‘giant nasty’ sugar that we consume. Suddenly it seemed that the finger was pointed squarely at sugar as the primary culprit behind one after another health problem.

We all know that too much sugar is bad for us. But most of us don’t really know why,  or how much too much actually is. But it seems that many of us have now picked up on the message that it could be that ANY sugar is bad for us.

But actually removing sugar and sweet foods from what you eat is another matter altogether. Only last week someone was talking to me about their New Year resolutions and breaking their bad habits. “I really need to lose weight” she said “but I don’t think I’m quite ready to say good bye to sugar”. And therein lies the problem that the majority of Australians, and probably most other Westerners face. They love their sweet food and they know just how hard it is to say goodbye to it completely.

Add to this reluctance the fact that sugar is addictive, and the resolve to abstain dissolves.

It is not just about deciding to give up sugar. It is also about breaking the physical effects of sugar. As with any other addiction, sugar metabolism sets up a chemical reaction in the brain as well as the body. Within the brain, glucose from metabolized sugars causes a higher release of dopamine and opioids.

Dopamine is often called the ‘feel-good neurotransmitter’. But while it may make you feel good, the release of too much has many health consequences. Many addictive drugs including nicotine, cocaine and methamphetamine also cause increased levels of dopamine to be released in the same way that sugar does. The opioids released by sugar metabolism also make sugar hard to beat by playing a part in the withdrawal symptoms.

I Love Sugar

HOW SUGAR AFFECTS THE BODY

One health problem where sugar plays a part is ADHD /ADD. Although sugar is not thought to cause ADHD, it does raise levels of dopamine. Increased levels of dopamine have been shown to lead to high activity level and impulsive behaviour in the person. So it seems that when parents notice behavioural changes in their child after eating sugar, they may be seeing the dopamine effect.

During 2013 it was suggested that sugar should be included amongst the big three causes of high cholesterol. The other two being trans fats and stress. It was thought that saturated fat was the main cause of high cholesterol levels but the question is now whether it may be sugar instead. At present this remains a controversial topic.

SUGAR AND ILL HEALTH

Here are some of the many illnesses that sugar is known to either cause or where it  plays a significant role or aggravates the symptoms of illnesses:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Mineral depletion which interferes with the absorption of magnesium & calcium
  • Food allergies
  • Slows down your immune system
  • Increases your risk for cancer – as hypothesized by Dr Walberg
  • Heart disease
  • Behaviour problems – ADHD, ADD
  • Insulin resistance
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Increased triglycerides
  • Reduces (HDL) high-density lipoproteins
  • Poor nutrition
  • Suppresses your immune system
  • Causes inflammation within the body
  • Causes a decline in tissue elasticity and function
  • Raises dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline levels and release
  • Lead to an acidic digestive tract
  • Arthritis
  • Learning disorders in children
  • Candida overgrowth

 For more from this impressive list of 143 Ways That Sugar Ruins Your Health check out this list from Nancy Appleton.

MORE SUGAR PROBLEMS

Over time you become desensitized to sugar. The more you eat, the more effective your body becomes in absorbing it, and the more sugar you absorb the more damage it does. As well as becoming more sensitized to sugar you also become more sensitized to its toxic effects. But fortunately this sensitization to sugar can be decreased so you become less reactive to it, by taking a sugar holiday, even just two weeks off sugar can be effective.

 Sugar is an expert at masquerading and is excellent at hiding in the foods you are eating. It goes by many names but an easy way to identify many sugars is to read the ingredient panel and take note of any ingredients that end in “ose”. Dextrose, lactose, sucrose, glucose, maltose – these are all just different forms of sugar, which when they are metabolized in your body all end up as the same thing, and all have the same effect on your body.

Remember that natural sweeteners, although better for you than white cane sugar because they are not so processed, all essentially become the same thing in your body, blood sugar or glucose. If you want to cut back the amount of blood sugar you cannot just replace one for the other.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

The alternative is NOT to turn to artificial sweeteners. Diet soft drinks, artificially sweetened yoghurts, lo-cal, lo-joule or diet anything are most definitely a poor alternative choice when  they contain artificial chemical sweeteners.

The chemicals such as aspartame that are used to sweeten “diet” or low-sugar foods are linked to all manner of health problems.

But there is one sweetening agent now readily available that is a good alternative to sugar, or to any other sweetener, and it is very safe.

That product is STEVIA.

Stevia rebaudiana
Stevia rebaudiana

Stevia rebaudiuna is a herb that comes from Paraguay in South America, where it has been used for centuries as a sweetener and a health tonic by the Guarani Indians.

The leaves of Stevia are intensely sweet. This naturally sweet extract is in fact up to an amazing 300 times sweeter than cane sugar, so you only need to use a tiny amount of stevia.

The thing that makes the use of stevia so attractive and exciting is that it does not cause an increase in blood sugar levels, in spite of being so sweet. Stevia allows you to enjoy some sweet foods in your diet without the health or weight issues that are caused by cane sugar.

By the way, stevia can used in cooking.

Occasionally some people find stevia has a metallic aftertaste but this seems to be related to the way the plant is processed. The plant leaves have no aftertaste. If you find this a problem it may be worth trying another brand of Stevia, or search out a liquid form.

Be very careful when you buy your Stevia. I was reading the ingredient of a product claiming to be stevia on the shelves at the supermarket and discovered that although the box was covered in the word “Stevia” in fact it was a mixture of stevia and aspartame!

Be careful to buy only pure Stevia. If you are concerned shop for it at a Health Food Shop. It is just as important to read the ingredient panel on foods that are sweetened with Stevia as it is any other to make sure there are not other artificial chemical sweeteners added as well.

Crushed stevia leaves
Crushed stevia leaves

SOME OF THE REPUTED HEALTH BENEFITS OF STEVIA

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Provides sweetness without elevating blood glucose level
  • Research shows taking 1000mg a day of stevioside reduced blood sugarlevels after meals by up to 18 percent in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Studies conducted at Mahidol University in Thailand showed stevia to have the following actions: Lowers blood pressure; anti-inflammatory; anti-tumour; anti-diarrhoeal; diuretic; immunomodulating

Currently further research is being conducted into the effects of stevia on diabetes.

So why not make the decision today to reduce your sugar and other sweetener intake and give stevia a go.

Have you tried stevia? Have you totally removed sugar and sweet food from your diet? Tell us about your experience in the Leave a Reply section below.

If you are local (Mitcham, Melbourne, Australia) you can pick up Stevia at Indigo Centre for Health & Wellbeing.

Small stevia plantation
Small stevia plantation

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatments suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

Source articles

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/12/16/stevia-the-holy-grail-of-sweeteners.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/20/sugar-dangers.aspx

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/4/523.full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/healthscience/2012/october/cholesterol-myth-what-really-causes-heart-disease/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopamine

http://nancyappleton.com/141-reasons-sugar-ruins-your-health/

http://www.healthylife-healthyplanet.com/health-problems-caused-by-sugar.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2356674/Stevia-First-natural-sugar-substitute-help-fight-obesity-diabetes.html

http://owndoc.com/pdf/Stevia%20new%20rural%20industry.pdf

 

Junk it!

Katrina Stairs Red Cross Pantry

Junk food! Everyone knows the term, almost everyone has their favourite, and everyone when asked to name a few would be able to name many more than a few with no hesitation at all. There are certain foods that are immediately recognized as junk foods – many ‘take-away foods’, as well lots of others, packaged and sold in supermarkets or convenience stores – potato chips, biscuits, lollies, soft drinks – are all obvious inclusions. But, what about other junk foods that are masquerading as ‘healthier’ options?

Processed foods are those that have had the ingredients altered so they are no longer in their natural state. Humans have processed their food for millennia. Any food that’s prepared by drying, grinding, chopping or cooking is processed. Traditionally this was done to make the food more digestible or to preserve it for later, when food may not be available. Grain foods were processed, and cheese, sausage and wine are just a few others.

Modern processed foods may on the surface seem far less insidious than the widely accepted ‘junk foods’. But often they are just as bad for you. No longer are processed foods the artisan foods of the past. Now foods are industrially processed in factories. In fact most of the foods in the Aussie diet are processed.

Processing may be as simple as freezing or it may be putting together a complete meal ready to heat and eat. During the process many of the nutrients that are in the original food are destroyed leaving the finished product a far cry from the original, and certainly not in line with the traditional purpose of processing. Grains are treated with very high temperatures and pressure which destroys the nutrients, denatures the fatty acids, and the process even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added.  But not only does the extrusion process used for grains destroy the nutrients, in particular the amino acid lysine, it turns the grains into neurotoxins according to biochemist Paul Stitt in his book Fighting the Food Giants.

Processed foods often appear to be healthy. These days they may feature low-fat, low-carb, fortified with vitamins, fibre, iron, or minerals, no trans-fats, containing omega-3, high-calcium, plus many more. They may make claims to promote health such as ‘may reduce the risk of heart disease’. But they all have the flavour enhanced with excess salt, sugar or oil. Many processed foods like white bread, are essentially empty calories offering very little nutritional value, certainly far less than the wholefood alternative.

During processing part of the plant is often removed or purposefully changed. One example where you can see this is with wheat grains used for bread. The wholewheat grain forms with three layers, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. (diagram) The bran is the layer where the fibre exists. Most nutrients and fatty acids are found in the germ. The endosperm is the starchy layer. The high nutrient density of grains only exists (and provides us with nutrients) when these layers are intact. During processing of the wholewheat grain into a loaf of white bread, most of the germ and bran is stripped away leaving just the starchy endosperm.

Take a look at the package or label on your white bread and notice all the ingredients that are listed. In the past bread was made by mixing whole milled wheat, often other grains or seeds, water, salt and a fermented dough starter, to create an easily digested, fermented bread, or sourdough loaf. Later yeast was used instead of the fermented starter. Traditonally, the bread mixture was kneaded and left to prove twice, unlike commercial breads which are only left to prove once. The extra steps in the process allowed the components of the grain, such as the phytic acid, to break down properly so they can be properly absorbed, or, as is the case with phytic acid which inhibits absorption of other minerals if it is not broken down, to prevent them interfering with efficient metabolism.

White bread packaging showing a list of ingredients which is far removed from those few ingredients found in traditional breads
White bread packaging showing an enormously long list of ingredients, far removed from those few ingredients required to make traditional breads

In commercial processed breads, the process is rushed through, with steps eliminated, and lots of other ingredients beside the basic ingredients that are needed to make home-made bread added. Preservatives, sweeteners, gluten, salt, soy flour plus many chemicals are all added to the mix.

Bread is a perfect example of the big problem with processed foods and also the pointer as to how to get around the problem. Traditional methods of food preparation allowed for the use of pure, wholefood ingredients. Home made foods did not need to have lots of chemicals straight out of the laboratory, many of which come with health cautions, added to stabilize the product and make it more appealing.

Home made food may include less than desirable ingredients, such as sugar, but at least the sugar is real sugar, and not a chemical version, and the butter is butter and not a questionable vegetable oil, or you can make the choice to replace the butter with a healthier fat option such as coconut oil. With processed foods there is no choice. You cannot opt to avoid trans fats or white sugar.

Many of the chemicals, including vitamins and minerals, that occur in a plant work together to help the plant grow and survive more efficiently, and they also work together in a synergistic balance once they enter your body and are metabolized.  But when foods are processed the natural balance between the different chemicals in the original food is upset so their effect on your body and the way in which they work, is altered. Many extra chemicals also need to be added to processed food to stabilize the product, or to make it look, taste, or feel more appealing, and these are rarely good for you

HOW TO AVOID PROCESSED FOODS

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether or not a food is processed, and the first step is to get a few guidelines to help you recognize them when they are traveling incognito. It all comes down to reading the ingredient list, because even a glance at the list will often set the alarm bells ringing. If the product has a long list of ingredients then you can be pretty sure it is processed. The case with the bread is a good example, where the food should have only a few ingredients when made according to traditional methods, often there may be eight, ten or even fifteen on the label.

If the food has a long list of ingredients where there should only be a few it is likely processed.

If you don’t recognize many of the ingredients, or can’t pronounce them, then it is probably highly processed.

If it has a very long shelf life – the ‘use by’ date is way off in the future it is processed.

If it contains trans fats, MSG, or lots of numbers it is definitely processed. In fact about ninety-five percent of processed foods contain MSG.

Take-away foods are a real trap. Aside form the obvious problem with deep frying foods like fish and chips, even foods that seem ok are loaded with highly processed ingredients. Pizza for instance, is covered in oils, processed meats and cheese. The kids menu is particularly bad, generally comprising only highly processed foods such as nuggets, chips and pasta (which is white and therefore highly processed). Salad, vegetables or a baked potato are all less processed options. Beware though of some of the ‘take-away salad chains’ as many of their salads are loaded with processed ingredients in the dressings, again take a quick look at the ingredient list.

processed foods NH

If you set out to eat more fruit and vegetables then you will find you have naturally replaced many processed foods with more natural ones without even being aware of it. Get to know when they are in season and try to eat seasonally, as that is the way you will get the best level of nutrients available.

Look for suitable alternatives – porridge made from wholegrain oats (not quick oats) or quinoa makes a great alternative to boxed cereals. Other breakfast options might be eggs with spinach, asparagus or avocado, quinoa with fruit and nuts, fruit salad and yoghurt, high-fibre-superfood fruit smoothies, omelettes with different vegetables, homemade baked beans, bircher muesli with fruit, green juice. When I have some time I enjoy stir-fried vegetables.

We are all time stressed these days, but the very best way to avoid processed foods is to make foods yourself. Instead of just watching Masterchef, get out in the kitchen yourself and cook up your own junk foods. When you make cakes, muffins or biscuits yourself you can use real eggs, butter or good oils and avoid artificial colours, preservatives and trans fats. Make your own oven-baked potato wedges and avoid the additives. You can flavour them with spices like sumac for an extra kick. Invest in a bread maker, making bread at home is so easy these days, you can even start your own sourdough bread starter.

This is the way to start back to good health through our eating, by reclaiming a few of the best practices of the past, by becoming aware enough to check out what we are consuming before wolfing it down, and by selecting foods that look like they may have come from the garden.

Simple really!

What are your favourite ‘junk food’ alternatives?

photo:  John Burke
photo: John Burke

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

http://www.foodinsight.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=wtg018sd8qk%3D&tabid=1398

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/dirty-secrets-of-the-food-processing-industry

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/10-reasons-to-cut-out-processed-food/

http://www.healthy-food-site.com/processed-food.html

http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/wheaty-indiscretions

Related articles

 

The Sweet Story Of Natural Sugars

Sugar is seen as one of the worst foods we consume these days.
Sugar is seen as one of the worst foods we consume these days.

Sugar has become our best friend, the one we hold the dearest to our heart. We add it as a sweetener to our coffee, it is hidden in pretty well all processed foods and it has become something that it is virtually impossible to avoid unless we are preparing all our foods from basic, raw, fresh ingredients ourselves.

With the rapid rise in weight for a large part of the population, and widespread concern about chronic disease that is connected with obesity, many people are now searching for alternatives to sugar as part of a general clean-up of their diet as a whole. In the campaign to deal with the obesity epidemic there have even been calls to have sugar consumption regulated by placing a tax on it. These days refined sugar is regarded as one of the worst foods around.

When it first appeared in Europe courtesy of the Arab traders, sugar, like many of the new exotic foods was a luxury enjoyed only by the wealthy. But ironically it is the wealthy who are now more able to avoid sugar, because they are able to avoid the cheap, processed foods, which are made with large quantities of white sugar added.

Paradoxically, given the rise in obesity numbers in Australia, sugar consumption in Australia has fallen. In 2011 the average Australian still consumed 42kg of sugar per year, or 800gm (nearly a kilo!) each week. This figure can be compared favourably to the 57kg that was consumed back  in 1951, a significant drop over 60 years, but nonetheless, still a large amount of sugar. In both the USA and Australia, 22 teaspoons of sugar are consumed on average every day. But in the USA sugar consumption, as well as obesity rates, has risen. In the UK consumption is closer to 16 teaspoons of sugar a day, or 1.25lbs a week. Most people by now have seen the TED video by Jamie Oliver where he demonstrates just how much sugar from milk alone is consumed by a child in USA before they reach school. Remembering that it is even more than this in Australia and the USA, it is indeed cause for alarm.

One very simple way to make change in your diet is to address both the quantity and the types of sugars that it contains. Artificial sweeteners are not really the answer. While they are simple to use and have been used extensively throughout the processed food industry to create the ‘low-fat’ and ‘light’ ranges of foods they pose a number of problems when you use them. Aspartame for instance, marketed under a number of brand names, has been linked with cancer and connected to all sorts of other problems.

THE BAD: MORE ON ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

One of the problems with artificial sweeteners is the lack of studies into the long-term effects on the human body. This can often be a problem with research studies. So many new chemicals have been introduced into our lives during the last seventy years but it is only now that we are starting to see some of the long-term effects those chemicals have on our health. It is only now that repeated disease trends amongst the people who have used those chemicals over a long time are becoming apparent. In many ways the users of the chemicals in the community are unwittingly the chemical trial-ers

ASPARTAME is 180 times sweeter than sugar. It is made by bonding two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, and a methyl esther bond. When these break down in your body wood alcohol, a poison, and formaldehyde (highly toxic) are formed. Although the amino acids are found in food, and are normally safe, in aspartame they occur in  huge quantities, far greater than they ever do in food. When they get in the body they act as a neurotoxin – they attack your cells, including the brain cells, overstimulating them, just like MSG does. They can lead to birth defects, cancer and weight gain (yes, that’s right, weight gain!)

SACCARIN is 300 times sweeter than sugar. But this artificial sweetener can cause allergic reactions if you have a problem with sulfa drugs.

CYCLAMATE is 30 times sweeter than sugar. It is allowed in Australian foods, although banned in USA because there are risks of chromosome damage and bladder cancer.

SUCRALOSE is a synthetic chemical. Because of the way it is made, your body is not able to break it down so it passes straight through. Or it should! But studies on animals showed that some sucralose was absorbed by the gut and resulted in anaemia, infertility, calcified kidneys, abortions, even death. There has only been one tiny study of the effects of sucralose on humans, and that study only lasted four days, not long enough to guage any long-term effects on the human body.

THE GOOD: OTHER ALTERNATIVES

More recently a new breed of sweeteners has hit the shelves which offer better options to the health conscious.

STEVIA is probably the most prominent. It comes from the herb Stevia rebaudiuna from Paraguay in South America. It is up to an amazing 300 times sweeter than sugar so you need to only use very little. There is actually some research that suggests that stevia may decrease blood glucose levels, without resulting in hypoglycemia. With zero calories and no glycaemic impact it can be used by diabetics. The natural herb seems to be a perfect substitute for sugar.

In Australia it is becoming more common to see stevia used as a sweetener in many foods. In the USA however, it has not been granted approval in its natural state as a sweetener. Ironically though Coca Cola and Pepsi were both granted approval for their own processed version of Stevia which they manufactured to add to their diet drinks. It seems absolutely crazy that a chemical version manufactured in a lab gains approval when the natural herbal cannot.

One of the disadvantages of Stevia is that it sometimes has a slight bitter aftertaste. The aftertaste is only a problem for some people and should not be enough to put you off using it. You may find the liquid form is better if this bothers you.

You can buy stevia in health food stores and grocery stores. Be careful when buying it and make sure to read the label. I found the ‘Natural Stevia’ on the supermarket shelf was mixed with aspartame making it an obviously undesirable product.  Sometimes you can also get the green leaf which is better for you.

Stevia (sugar substitute) cuttings doing well
Stevia (sugar substitute) cuttings (Photo credit: hardworkinghippy)

COCONUT PALM SUGAR is a sweetener that is, deservedly, gaining popularity right now. Coconut sugar is nutritious with a low glycaemic score, so unlike processed white sugar, it won’t give you a ‘high’ followed by a crash. It has a rich flavour, a bit like brown sugar, and can be substituted directly for sugar, spoon for spoon.

Although the trade in palm oil is having a detrimental effect on the orangutan population, it is worth knowing that palm sugar comes from a different species of palm to the one that is widely planted in the cleared forest areas inhabited by the orangutans, the one that is used for palm oil.

The sugar is extracted from the harvested flowers. The trees live for twenty years and provided that enough flowers are left on the tree for pollination to ensure future crops, it is regarded as a very sustainable crop, one that can be grown anywhere and one that provides small communities with a cash income. This species of palm tree is particularly useful in areas where the soil is degraded as they restore otherwise damaged, compromised soils and they require very little water or soil nutrients.

LUCUMA POWDER is an excellent source of nutrients. It originated in the highlands of South America. Lúcuma is a large sweet fruit which contains fibre as well as good levels of beta-carotene, iron and vitamin B. It has a low sugar content but is sweet, with a taste similar to maple syrup.

MANUKA HONEY or RAW HONEY has been used as a sweetener for generations. As well as being a delicious sweetener it has wonderful health benefits. Its properties as an antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial meant it was traditionally used to treat a wide range of ailments, particularly when there was infection present. Rich in phytonutrients, including antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and carbohydrates, raw honey is a Superfood.

BUT you must be careful with your honey…I am not talking about any old honey off the supermarket shelves which has been processed and contains few nutrients. This is MANUKA or RAW HONEY we are talking about here – search it out. And limit the quantity you use.

XYLITOL is one of the sugar alcohols, along with erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, which are derived from the sugar found in fruit. Sugar alcohols are absorbed by your body slowly and so can pass through the whole gut before they have been totally absorbed. Unlike stevia, xylitol does contain calories, but far less than what is found in sugar. Many love it because it can substituted directly for sugar, one spoon of xylitol for one spoon of sugar, it has no aftertaste, and only about a third of the kilojoules of sugar but tastes just as sweet as sugar.

I know many health practitioners who recommend xylitol. But because it is not well absorbed, it can cause dramatic abdominal cramping, bloating and diarrhea in certain people, and for the sensitive this may be severe and it may occur after just one single  teaspoon. Also, although it is made from plants – birch bark, corn or sugar cane fibre, in order to bring about the change from the fibrous plant state to the white grains it requires a deal of processing which involves using man-made chemicals including amongst others, sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid. It’s worth noting that xylitol is toxic to dogs, so make sure you don’t feed meal scraps that were made with xylitol to your pet.

Some other natural sweeteners include:

Maple Syrup is often used in place of honey. It contains reasonable amounts of the trace mineral manganese as well as some zinc. I love maple syrup, one of my favourite natural sweeteners. But make sure to buy the real deal – organic maple syrup. Some of the stuff around is just sweetened and coloured water.

Brown Rice Syrup contains some manganese, magnesium and zinc but is highly refined. One good thing though is that it is usually organic, and all natural. There were reports last year that brown rice syrup contains arsenic so you may want to avoid it.

Agave Syrup is made from the juice of the succulent agave plant which is heated, filtered and hydrolyzed to make the syrup. This syrup has an extremely high fructose content

But when it comes down to it even though these are natural sweeteners they are still basically sugars. If you really want to get healthy and reduce your risk for diseases like cancer, heart disease, obesity or diabetes then it really boils down to reducing your craving for, and consumption of sugar.

Most foods that are highly sweetened are not those that are the most healthy anyway, usually they are high in carbohydrates and fat. If you really want to get healthy you need to tame that sweet tooth. Cutting out sweeteners breaks the sugar craving cycle that sets up in your brain every time you eat sugar (or other sweet food). Once you stop eating sweet food even though you may suffer intensified cravings initially, you will very soon find that you don’t miss it because you have broken the cycle and stopped the craving for sugar. The other positive is that your taste buds become more sensitive and you will start to really taste the natural sweetness in foods like fruit a lot better.

What is your favourite natural sweetener?

Manuka honey is a wonderful natural sweetener, just don't have too much
Manuka honey is a wonderful natural sweetener, just don’t have too much

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care
provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

http://www.sugaraustralia.com.au/Shared/Green%20Pool%20Report%20Media%20Release.pdf

http://scepticalnutritionist.com.au/?p=514

http://www.livestrong.com/article/500273-sugar-vs-sugar-alcohol/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/08/the-4-best-and-3-worst-sweeteners-to-have-in-your-kitchen.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_sugar

Xylitol: Should We Stop Calling It Natural?

Why I Still Love Homeopathy…In Spite Of Everything

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Although I write about many different things you can do to build your health on this blog, this week I want to share a purely anecdotal story about Homeopathy, because after all, it is the main method of treatment that I use for the people who come into my clinic, and it is the reason that I actually started  out on this gentle journey to better health myself.

Many people don’t even know that Homeopathy can be pretty darn useful for treating acute illnesses like flu, coughs and colds, diarrhea, vomiting, viral infections, hay fever, headaches, teething, nausea and so on, you get the idea. When people caome in to see me many say they “have tried everything else and so may as well try Homeopathy”, it is often only used when things have reached rock bottom.

But Homeopathy can be an excellent treatment for ‘new illnesses’when used according to homeopathic principles, and something to consider before starting a course of antibiotics. Once I discovered how good well-matched simplex Homeopathics (not the ‘complex remedies’ sold over the counter) were for treating acute illness it was all I ever used for my children. We headed out to the Homeopath, right past the doctor, whenever they got sick. In fact one, now 25, has not taken antibiotics, not once, since he was 3, which was when I first discovered Homeopathy. The youngest has grown up with only Homeopathics, and has only had antibiotics ONCE EVER, when he developed a terrible infection after swimming beside a sewage outlet at a beach in Thailand. The others are also healthy. Antibiotics didn’t get used in our house at all after we turned to Homeopathy. That’s a pretty awesome record!

So, here is what has been happening at my house this week, a perfect example of why I love Homeopathy so much.

I’m a pretty good prescriber of Homeopathic remedies for acute illnesses. There is a bit of a knack to this, and the way that my brain processes information happens to be well suited to this type of prescribing.

However, when I get sick myself it is another matter altogether, because, as any of my students that have completed the Homeopathy @ Home Short Course I run (where they learnt how to prescribe Homeopathics for first stage acute illnesses and first aid for themselves and their family) will agree, it takes a clear head to find a good match between a “Symptom Picture” in a patient and a “Homeopathic Remedy Picture”. Getting that match right is what gets the results – a really close match equals a great result, a so-so match equals some improvement, maybe.

Like most of you,when I am sick my brain just doesn’t work clearly and I often struggle to prescribe for myself in that state, which is what I want to tell you about.

Finding enough clarity to carefully select a Homeopathy Remedy can be an near-impossible task when your brain feels like it's made of cotton wool and is being squeezed between a tight vice
Finding enough clarity to carefully select a Homeopathy Remedy can be an near-impossible task when your brain feels like it’s made of cotton wool and is being squeezed between a tight vice

My husband came home last week and brought with him one of the nastiest, most violent coughs I have ever seen (not up there with the whooping cough we had once, but running a good race) which he promptly shared with me…violent cough, headache to knock you out, sore throat etc etc…winter illness at its worst! The pair of us sat hacking away in unison all weekend, each just as sick as the other. I endured it, my head too foggy to even think about what remedy to take. But every night when I lay down to get to sleep it was just getting worse and worse, getting to sleep was a nightmare.

Then came the night when I was coughing so badly I had to go and it the bathroom as I was certain I was going to throw up from it. I sat on the edge of the bath coughing it out and realized it was ‘do or die’, I needed to rally enough to find a remedy match fast. It was heading towards 1am, but I gathered my books, and really focused, in spite of the brain fog, and came up with a remedy very quickly, which I made up and took straight away.

Five minutes later, all my coughing, wheezing, headache and breathlessness had stopped and I dropped off to sleep.

The next morning instead of waking to a major coughing fit I was pretty good. I took another dose then (and a couple more in the days since). I am still a little bit hoarse and cough once in a while, but otherwise I am good, none of the severe symptoms have returned and I feel great, full of energy.

This is what happens when a really good Homeopathic prescription is made for an acute illness. Symptoms may be stopped in their tracks. But even better is that you feel great and full of energy even though to others you might still sound a bit sick. It is almost as if your body ‘knows’ that it has got on top of this virus and the battle is on its way to being won.  You feel it is ok to go about your life again because you don’t need to ‘conserve your strength’, to crawl into bed to recuperate.

My husband?

Well he has an on/off relationship with Homeopathy which it seems is turned to ‘off’ right now, and he is letting nature take its course. He didn’t go to work today (unheard of!) and spent the day lying in bed, unable to move, coughing his lungs out every time he woke up, feeling like death. I realize this is only a winter virus, although certainly a pretty nasty one, but this story is a perfect example of how Homeopathy can be so useful for treating acute illnesses.

I have been working as a Homeopath for thirteen years now and I repeatedly see how so many of the people who come through my clinic experience an improvment in their health quickly and effectively when they use Homeopathy to treat their sickness. Watching the amazing response in my son twenty two years ago was how I was first introduced to this treatment, that I had never even heard of, and you can read about that right here.

But, in spite of what I know and have seen over all those years, of what I expect to see happen, I sometimes still sit in my clinic, listening to clients tell of the changes they have experienced after taking their prescribed Homeopathic remedies, and in spite of what experience has taught me good Homeopathic prescribing is capable of, there are still times when I am just blown away by the response the person has experienced, and the extent of their improvement.

It doesn’t happen all the time by any means, but when it does it still amazes me, and that is the main reason why I love being a Homeopath and why I still love the amazing possibilities of Homeopathy.

When the symptoms of an illness that someone is experiencing are matched perfectly to the correct Homeopathic remedy, and that remedy is taken according to homeopathic principles, at the correct potency to match the strength of the illness, it is as if the body, or the immune system if you will, is suddenly jolted into action, and the rapid healing response that follows is an absolute joy to watch.

water-lily-flower

I realize that this is just one example and ‘does not a case for Homeopathy make’, but when you watch a response like this happen there is no doubt that there are powerful possibilities here…and the intellectual questions about how it can be happening get brushed to the side.

But, as with all things, everyone has their own path to follow. The Homepathic road was the one for my family but it may not be for you.

Have you ever experienced or observed one of these very rapid responses to treatment with a perfectly matched Homeopathic remedy? Tell us about it in the comments below.

You might also like to check out this Youtube playlist where lots of people  have posted about their personal experience of how “Homeopathy Works For Me”. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF0F0329B561969C8

Disclaimer 2

Ah-Ah-Ah-Choooooo! Scratch, Scratch! Allergy Time

Allergies are the bane of so many people’s life these days making it difficult for them to function well in their everyday life.

Allergies occur when your immune system is hypersensitive. When an allergen comes into contact with any mucous membrane surface – the respiratory tract, digestive tract, the eyes – it sets up an inflammation which causes the symptoms. Food Intolerances are different to allergies and are the result of an inability to digest or absorb foods. But the symptoms of each can be very similar and often confused. Symptoms from allergy usually develop quickly.

Allergies are the bane of so many people’s life these days Photo credit: Brooke Novak
Allergies are the bane of so many people’s life these days Photo credit: Brooke Novak

The incidence of food allergy is growing. In 2011 an Australian study, the Health Nuts Study, found that 10% out of 5000 infants demonstrated food allergy. This is the highest rate in the world and we should be alarmed about why the incidence is rising so rapidly.

The most common allergic reactions usually fall into four groups.
  •       Anaphylaxis – a life-threatening reaction where the airways can swell
  •       Skin symptoms – eczema, dermatitis, welts and hives
  •       Eye reactions – conjunctivitis, redness, itching and watering
  •       Hay Fever or Rhinitis

Some asthmas are caused by allergies. Anaphylaxis is a more serious allergic response and is potentially life-threatening. One of my children experienced this on a number of occasions from milk and butter when he was young and beestings later, and it is a very scary situation. It usually occurs very quickly and affects multiple body systems. It needs an immediate dose of adrenalin to reverse it.

There is now evidence which suggests that the increased use of antibiotics may have something to do with the increase in allergies and asthma because it upsets the normal balance of gut flora and leads to confusion within the immune system so that it is unable to tell the difference between harmless substances and bacteria, viruses and parasites. It is also thought that our higher hygiene standards may have contributed, by exposing us to fewer pathogens, which leads to your body attacking harmless antigens instead.

You can develop an allergy to many common things including grasses and flower pollen
You can develop an allergy to many common things including grasses and flower pollen

There are many common things to which people develop an allergy. Allergens might be any of the following:

  •      Foods such as gluten or wheat, milk and dairy foods, seafood and shellfish,alcohol, soy, eggs, peanuts, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, alcohol.
  •      Environmental factors such as dust, dust mites, pollen, mould, animal fur, grasses
  •      Man-made substances such as medications, pesticides, latex, nickel
  •      Insects including cockroaches, bees or wasps

While there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications that are regularly used for allergies, they all put lots of strain on your liver as it has to detox the medications. This may actually exacerbate the condition. Most people have used antihistamines to gain relief from the symptoms of hay fever at some time, but the ongoing prospect of having to take loads of pharmaceuticals, to say nothing of the debilitating side effects they cause, is not at all appealing. Western medicine stresses ongoing medications and avoidance of exposure but this is not always possible.

What else can you do to deal with this in more natural way?

The best way to get rid of the problem of allergies is with professional advice from a Natural Medicine Practitioner.

But there are many ways that you can get relief for your allergy symptoms using a host of ‘Kitchen Remedies’. Anaphylaxis must always be regarded as a medical emergency and treated accordingly. But the next time allergy strikes with other symptoms, before you reach for the antihistamine try out some of these tips, until you are ready to seek long-term relief from a Natural Health practitioner.

 

Please read my disclaimer below before reading on.

Allergies occur when your immune system is hypersensitive.
Allergies occur when your immune system is hypersensitive.

Kitchen Remedies

Respiratory passages:

For sinuses and nasal congestion put some olive oil in your palm and sprinkle some black pepper into it. Breathe the aroma in. It makes you sneeze and that removes the allergens in your nose.

Many people swear by Neti pots, although I haven’t tried them myself. You fill the Neti pot with a saline solution and use it to flush the allergens and irritation from your sinuses. Use a pre-made saline rinse or make one yourself by dissolving 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt (or sea salt as a second choice) in 1 litre of boiled distilled water. Allow it to cool completely and put it in the Neti pot. Pour it through one nostril and allow it to drain out the other. Make sure you rinse the irrigation device after you use it with boiled distilled water and leave it to ‘air-dry’.

Herbal teas:    Peppermint tea is a great decongestant which can unclog sinuses and improve breathing. It is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Chamomile tea is a natural anti-inflammatory and may reduce the duration of hay fever attacks.

Eating food drenched in wasabi will clear out your sinuses in an instant, so head for the sushi bar if you need a quick clear when you are out and about.

Showering as soon as you come back inside after being outdoors can be an easy way to get quick allergy relief. It can help remove allergens from your skin and hair and the steam will help to clear nasal cavities, although it will usually be only temporarily.

Even just inhaling the steam over a bowl of hot water can flush out the mucous just as well as a shower. Add a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil and carefully inhale the steam for an even better result.

Skin reactions:

A colloidal oatmeal mask for hives or eczema. You can either add  2 or 3 cups straight to the bathwater where it disperses and stays in suspension rather than settling to the bottom, or make a paste to spread over the affected area. To make the paste you need 1-2 tablespoons of Colloidal Oatmeal. You can make your own if you cannot buy it. Add warm water until you get the desired consistency. Spread on your skin and leave for a few minutes

Apple cider vinegar has long been recognized for its wonderful healing properties. Dilute a little in water and dab onto any itchy area. Great for dry eczema, hives or bed bug bites.

Mixing Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda) with a little water to form a paste which you can spread on the skin will help stop the itching. You can also add it to a warm bath and soak in it for twenty minutes if the reaction area is more widespread.

Nettle is often used to relieve allergies as it is a natural antihistamine which targets the immune system. As well as drinking your nettle tea you can also use it topically. Allow it to cool and then use a cloth or gauze to dab it on the itchy spots where it will give relief. You could also take 300 to 500 mg of stinging nettle capsules each day.

A strong brew of dried anti-inflammatory chamomile flowers steeped for fifteen minutes or more then cooled and strained, can be applied to eczema for about 20 minutes with gauze or a cloth for itchiness relief. You can use it three times a day.

Basil is another herb that contains anti-allergenic components and it will give relief for hives. Boil a couple of leaves in water. Once the tea has cooled down apply it topically on the hives.

Organic cold pressed coconut oil can be applied topically and gives relief to many sufferers.

Aloe vera gel is useful, especially when it comes from freshly cut leaves.

Water that has had thin cucumber slices soaked in it for a few hours and then filtered can be applied to the area with a clean gauze or cloth.

Eye reactions:

For puffiness place slices of cold raw potato on your eyes

To relieve itchy, dry or watery eyes try making a compress from chamomile or black tea bags that have been steeped in boiling water and allowed to cool. Leave on for five minutes. Choose organic teabags as there are many chemicals used to bleach the material used for the bag that may aggravate already inflamed eyes. Even better if you refrigerate the teabags first.

A wonderful eyewash can be made to soothe itchy eyes by diluting non-alcoholic calendula liquid in water.

And last but not least, don’t forget to drink lots of water which helps with sinus drainage and congestion. It seems as though I say to do this in every post, but almost everybody drinks too little water and dehydration, even when it is mild, contributes to many health problems. With allergies, dehydration makes your mouth and throat dry and your mucous thickens.

Do you have a great “Kitchen Remedy” that you use for your allergies? Share it in the replies below.

Check back again soon as I will write lots more about allergies and food intolerances (lactose and gluten).

Photo credit: Sylvia McFadden
Photo credit: Sylvia McFadden

Source articles:

http://wellnessmama.com/8370/7-natural-remedies-for-allergy-relief/

http://www.wellbeing.com.au/article/Features/Body-Health/Allergy-alert_1260

http://www.naturalnews.com/036292_eczema_home_remedies_skin_disease.html

http://www.great-natural-home-remedies.org/home-remedies/allergies.html

http://www.detoxificationforthebody.com/2013/05/22/home-remedies-for-allergies/

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/herbal-remedies-for-spring-allergies.html

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/get-healthy/home-remedies/natural-home-remedies-hives

http://www.anniesremedy.com/chart_remedy.php?tag=allergies

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Are You Well Enough To Weather Winter?

A question that is worth asking yourself right now is “am I well enough to weather winter?” If you build your health before winter arrives you are more likely to get through it without falling victim to lots of colds or worse, the flu.

If you build up your health before winter arrives you are far more likely to get through without falling victim to lots of colds or worse, the flu.   Photo credit: Flickr Winter Fog by Larisa Koshkina
If you build your health before winter arrives you are more likely to get through without falling victim to lots of colds or worse, the flu.
Photo credit: Flickr Winter Fog by Larisa Koshkina

During these last weeks of Autumn a really nasty flu/cough/virus arrived alongside the change in weather, and people have been struck down with it all around, including me. It seems to be tagged as ‘flu’ but mine was more of a really nasty cough & cold. Most of the viruses that look and feel like flu are in fact not, with probably less than 20% actually being flu. But this does not stop the others from being downright unpleasant and highly contagious.

Preparing your health for winter really needs to begin as soon as the weather begins to change from summer into autumn, with a careful plan to bolster your immune system. But if you have not prepared yourself and have already had a taste of the illnesses that lie ahead this winter then there are still various tactics you can use to help you get through with minimum damage.

While aspirin or other medications may make you feel better because you can forget your symptoms for a bit they only suppress the symptoms and don’t actually make you better any faster. For that you need to look at other options, as well as making a few changes right now.

When my family catch the flu or any other cough or cold we all reach straight for the best selected Homeopathic remedy, because they are so effective against viral infection (unlike Antibiotics which we would avoid anyway). This is what I took this week to get rid of the bout I have just had fast. Homeopathic remedies are great as they reduce the unpleasant symptoms such as aches and pains or headache dramatically as they clear up the infection. But to get the fast, complete resolution the choice of remedy needs to be made individually – the remedy that did it for me may not be the same as the one you need. So if you would like to use this wonderful treatment head off to a Homeopath or else look for a short course to learn how to home-prescribe for acute illnesses yourself.

While there are many great Homeopathic medicines that are awesome for the flu, it is much better not to catch the flu in the first place.

The very first indication you are coming down with a cold or flu is the time you need to take action. Photo credit: Flickr Sick Again by Miss Rogue
The very first indication you are coming down with a cold or flu is the time you need to take action.
Photo credit: Flickr Sick Again by Miss Rogue

PREVENT THE FLU

Here are some steps you can take to help prevent getting the flu. It is really important to make sure you follow these steps if you have come into contact with someone who has flu. But when flu is doing the rounds you can bet that you have been in contact with sufferers, at work, the train, the shopping centre, at school, or anywhere you have been.

Rest    Get plenty of rest. Your immune system recharges itself while you are asleep. When you are overtired your system is not strong enough to fight off infection. Try for eight solid hours a night.

Water  Drink enough water as it improves the function of every system in your body

Nutrition Increase fresh fruit and vegetable in your diet, preferably organic if you can. Fresh organic produce in a rainbow of colours is packed full of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are crucial for maintaining your immune health. Add spices such as turmeric, oregano, cinnamon and cloves have high ORAC scores   http://www.oracvalues.com which equates to high levels of antioxidants. Adding a high quality daily multivitamin will fill in any gaps in the full range you may have.

Exercise  Get regular exercise. Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes a day improves your immunity although it is not known exactly why. But it does need to be regular and consistent exercise, running occasionally won’t do a lot. However don’t overdo it as too much exercise makes you more susceptible to infection.

Hygeine Wash your hands often, especially before eating. You need to use warm water and soap and to really lather up. This is one of the best ways to avoid contracting the virus. Also, try not to touch your mouth, nose or eyes to prevent the virus entering your system.

Sugars Cut back on sugar and grains in your diet as they are both very weakening to your immune system.

The time you need to take steps if you want to fight the flu off is at the very first indication you are coming down with it because this is when the strategies work their best. Don’t just do a few things, you need to fight the virus off on all fronts by adopting every strategy you can – nutrition, sleep, exercise, supplements, calm.

Take some time off to rest up and recuperate. It is much better to rest for one day rather than getting sick for much longer, simply because you pushed on when your body was telling you to slow down

There are a number of supplements you can take to help to prevent flu which improve your immunity and help your mucous membranes stay healthy.

Vitamin D Most importantly get on to Vitamin D. It produces antimicrobial peptides in your body to kill viruses as well as bacteria. Huge numbers of the population are deficient in this crucial vitamin and because the source is sunlight their levels drop even further during the winter when sunlight is scarce or weak. 2000 IU a day has been found to keep flu away.

Vitamin C Adding a Vitamin C supplement during the flu season will provide your immune system with lots of extra power when it comes to warding off viral illness, as it acts as an antioxidant in your body. You can find it in many foods including lemons, limes, oranges, red pepper and broccoli.

Beta Carotene (Vitamin A) Vitamin A also acts as an antioxidant. It is of huge benefit to dramatically increase the amount you take each day if you do fall ill. Food sources are orange and yellow foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin as well as broccoli and dark green vegetables.

Zinc Strong immunity is dependant on good zinc levels but many people are deficient in this trace element, as the body has no way to store it. It increases production of infection fighting white blood cells and helps your immune system release more antibodies. If your levels of zinc are low you will be much more susceptible to infection. Your natural health practitioner can test your levels for you.

Vitamin E Another antioxidant, it improves immune function. If you have Hypertension make sure to take a water soluble version. Good food sources are olive oil, almonds, avocado and spinach.

Vitamin B6  Vitamin B6 deficiency leads to a weakened immune system. Vegetarians need to be particularly careful as most sources of B6 are animal foods.

Selenium It has been found that viruses tend to mutate easily into more damaging forms that lead to flu-related lung damage in people who are deficient in Selenium.

Olive Leaf Extract is a very effective immune system builder

Probiotics Studies show that long term use of lactic acid bacteria can protect against flu infection.

HERBAL HELP

There are many herbs that support and boost your immune system and help you stave off the flu, while also helping the mucous membranes, such as Astragulus membranaceus, Hydrastis Canadensis, Sambucus nigra, Shitake mushroom and Garlic. Echinacea is useful for the first twenty-four hours of the illness.

Garlic is one food that really gives you a huge boost. If you take your garlic as a food you need to know these first. The health benefits of garlic are destroyed by cooking, much better if it is raw. You need to be able to smell garlic for it to work – odour free tablets are useless. The inside of the clove needs to be exposed to the air to be effective, so cut or crush the clove before you eat it. You should take two cloves a day. If you cut it up very small and swallow the bits with water or  tea they will be easier to eat. Often when I need some garlic I squeeze the cloves right on the top of my pasta or casserole after I have served it and just eat it with the first mouthful. That way it is raw so still effective but the taste is masked by the taste of the food. Chew on parsley after taking garlic to avoid ‘garlic breath’

Reishi, Shitake and Maitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for over 6,000 years as they are excellent for increasing white blood cell activity to better fight off infection. There are many great mushroom supplements in tablet form available as well as the liquid herbs.

IF YOU STILL CATCH THE FLU

If in spite of taking preventative measures you are unfortunate and do catch the flu, here are some suggestions to help ease the flu symptoms a bit.

  • Hot water bottles or heated wheat bags are great for sore, chilly patients
  • Hot baths with Epsom salts: Put 1-2 cups of salts into a warm bath and soak . This helps draw out inflammation and ease muscle pain
  • Gentle massage can help increase circulation
  • Vitamin C in a powdered form in juice or water is easier to swallow than tablets and will ease inflamed mucous membranes as it passes over them.
  • Chicken soup can be good as it helps replace electrolytes plus has other healing properties
  • If you feel nausea ginger or chamomile tea may help
  • Here are some nice herbal recipes for the symptoms of viral colds and flu, including a Cold & Flu Tea and a Sore Throat Gargle

And don’t forget, when you start feeling better it is important to remember that you are more vulnerable than normal and so you should take things a bit easier for a while, cutting back your schedule and keeping down your stress levels.

What’s your best tip for combating the flu?

Take some time off to rest up and recuperate Photo credit: Kate Ter Haar
Take some time off to rest up and recuperate
Photo credit: Kate Ter Haar

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/03/how-to-prevent-the-flu-easy-as-1-2-3.aspx

http://www.livestrong.com/article/365772-vitamins-for-the-flu/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/546106-selenium-for-the-flu/

http://www.naturalnews.com/019194_flu_the_health.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/13/zinc-for-colds-and-flu.aspx

Homeopathy To The Rescue – Homeopathy Awareness Week

Homeopathy Awareness Week (13-19 May 2013)
Homeopathy Awareness Week (13-19 May 2013)

May is an important month for Homeopaths here in Australia as it marks the celebration of Homeopathy Awareness Week (13th – 19th May). This year the theme is “Homeopathy To The Rescue” and the focus is on the ways Homeopathy can, and has been used in the treatment of trauma and disasters.

The purpose of this annual celebration is to get you all noticing the impact Homeopathy has on a global scale and to start you thinking about how Homeopathy could be useful in your life.

While there is a long history of Homeopathy being used with wonderful results during epidemics  and after disasters , using Homeopathic medicine to deal with the small traumas of your everyday life is where many people first encounter the healing benefits of the remedies.

Homeopathic Arnica is one remedy that I would have been lost without in raising my four sons, and in fact I cannot imagine how the Mums of active boys manage without it. When my boys were young they played a lot of sport, basketball, AFL football, baseball, hockey, netball, gymnastics, and rockclimbing, to say nothing of rough and rowdy games through the bushland around our home.

In addition to the kit of remedies I have at home, I always carried a Homeopathic First Aid kit in the boot of my car so we would have what we needed when we were out and about. In this kit was trusty Arnica.

Homeopaths often reach for Arnica as the first remedy to heal anyone affected by shock, trauma or injury, where it acts on the emotional or spiritual shock as well as on the physical shock.

Arnica has lots of uses but it is perhaps best known for its use when there is damage to soft tissue. It has amazing healing properties for muscle damage showing in symptoms such as bruising, swelling and aching. At sporting events, particularly football, I soon became known as the go-to-girl for help when the boys were hurt on the field, and would often have parents come to me asking for some arnica for their son.

I have to say that one year it actually saved one of my sons team from despair, because Arnica was the remedy that ensured the team a place in the Grand Final (which they then won!) How? At half time the star player, the full forward (the one who does most of the goal scoring) was taken off the field because his hand had been stomped on by a boot with ‘stops’ on the sole and there were four distinct dark bruises on his palm. I gave him one dose of Arnica at the start of half time, and by the time the second half started twenty minutes later, the bruising had almost disappeared so he was allowed to play, and to go on and kick the winning goal.

Over the course of many years of kids sport there were many, many other instances of parents being able to watch bruising or swellings, like ‘eggs’ on the head, actually go right down over a very short time, and so the Arnica was often sought out.

Arnica got these boys through the injuries with minimal fuss and allowed them to get back out to their game.

Arnica is a remedy that I give to many of my patients and not just the boys. Many people use it after they have had a big workout at the gym, or a hard day in the garden to relieve the aches and pains. Others use it after having dental work. It is a remedy that many now value in their home first aid kit, and the first remedy they think of for injuries and trauma.

What is Arnica?

A meadow of Arnica montana growing wild in Belgium
A meadow of Arnica montana growing wild in Belgium
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42244964@N03/3939176462/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Homeopathic Arnica Montana is made from a small plant of the Compositae family. It grows in the mountain pastures of mainland Europe where for centuries it has a long history of use as a herbal to treat bruises, sprains, rheumatic pain, emotional shock, hematoma and oedema.

Today, Arnica creams are widely used in the sports industry, and in fact  a number of Olympic athletes have found them helpful in reaching the pinnacle of their chosen sport. Here is the testimony of one and here a long list of other sports stars using Homeopathic Arnica.

Arnica has an affinity with the blood vessels, repairing them so that bruising and stagnation is able to dissipate from the site of the wound.

The benefit of Arnica, as you read in the story of my son’s football team, is that it speeds up the healing process. The bruising passes quickly, aching muscles return to normal faster, swelling subsides quickly, allowing a faster return to training, the game, or everyday activity.

When could you use Arnica?

Although I make some suggestions here for when Arnica may be helpful, I do not advocate using it without consulting your Homeopath first. Whilst Homeopathic remedies are very gentle they need to be prescribed with an understanding of how they work in order to be used effectively and safely. In addition if you have a seious accident or injury it is essential to get checked out for concussions, broken bones or other serious damage. But, even when these do occur Arnica can be useful to speed the healing process.

  • After accidents where there is shock
  • After an injury that leaves bruising of muscles
  • After an injury that leaves soft tissue swollen and sore
  • After over-exerting yourself
  • After surgery or dental work

Because Homeopathy Awareness Week is about using Homeopathy to deal with trauma this year, I am once again running my very popular short course “HOMEOPATHY @ HOME – TREATING ACUTE & FIRST AID AILMENTS”   beginning during Homeopathy Awareness Week, where you learn when and how to use thirty Homeopathic remedies, including Arnica, that will completely change the way you deal with acute illnesses and accidents in your family.

If you have missed this course but would like to join one later, check back again for details of the next course as I run it once every year.

If you would like to read about the latest research and thoughts on how Homeopathy might work, you may like to read Dana Ullman’s summary in this article published last week in The Huffington Post

But for those who have used Homeopathic medicine with enormous success the question is NOT how it works, or even whether it works. They have seen many times, that it does work effectively and that is enough reason to continue to love and use this remarkable treatment.

I don’t know how it works, nobody does yet. No doubt as research delves deeper and our knowledge grows, just how Homeopathic medicines work will become clearer. After all, in medicine there are also many medications and anaesthetics that were used and seen to be effective, long before the mechanism of how they work was known.

If you have had a positive experience with using Homeopathic Arnica let us know about it in the comments below.

Homeopaths often reach for Arnica as the first remedy to heal anyone affected by shock, trauma or injury
Homeopaths often reach for Arnica as the first remedy to heal anyone affected by shock, trauma or injury

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://www.arnica.com.au/arnica.php

http://www.fao.org/ag/AGp/agpc/doc/Gbase/data/pf000462.htm

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail182.php

http://drnancymalik.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/sports-medicine/

http://homeopathyforyou.com.au/trauma/arnica-to-the-rescue-for-injuries/

Combat Stress In Your Life With Meditation

The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years and we are all living with increasingly rising stress levels
The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years and we are all living with increasingly rising stress levels

“We are fragmented into so many different aspects. We don´t know who we really are, or what aspects of ourselves we should identify with or believe in. So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home.
Meditation, then, is bringing the mind home.”
Sogyal Rinpoche

Stress plays a major part in the development of many illnesses. It is known to affect many body functions including the reproductive system, cause eczema and psoriasis, cause dry mouth or ulcers and musculoskeletal pain as well as affecting the immune system as a whole.

The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years. As we all take on more and more in our lives and the influx of information bombards us faster and faster, we live with increasingly rising stress levels – whether their cause or focus is on our work, our family , finances, or the health of ourselves, our parents as they age, our family or our beautiful planet, or any of the myriad of commitments we all have in our life. Some may even be stressing about whether they are allowing enough “download” time to counter the stress they have. Almost all of us, including children, are affected to some degree.

DE- STRESS

One of the ways that I often suggest to clients to offload the effects of this stress in their life is to adopt the practice of meditation. Some say they have tried it but just can’t maintain focus. But for others the idea is somewhat daunting and many dismiss the idea out-of-hand. Introducing something new requires planning, and for them to allocate scarce time seems to only escalate their problem. For others it is all just a bit ”woo-woo” and uncomfortable.

But the fact remains that meditation is a wonderful way to de-stress, and it does not have to be difficult, or to require big chunks of your time, or to actively involve “chakras”. You do not need to join a class, it is entirely portable. And it does not have to include burning incense, crystals, difficult yoga poses or the need to “get it right”.

There are many different ways that the benefits of meditation can be obtained and it’s simply a matter of finding the one that fits you and your life, and then making that a regular part of your day.

There is a misconception that in order to meditate you need to completely shut down your mind. But for most people the mind chatter just keeps on intruding, constantly pulling them out of that calm, quiet, thought-free place we all seek.

The truth is that in order to be able to meditate in that way takes many, many years of practice. For the majority thoughts wander in and out, and it’s ok. The key is to accept that your thoughts will wander, and to simply consciously pull them back again whenever they do, by focusing once more on the meditative technique that you are using.

The thing is, meditation does not have to be a big major undertaking. Sure there are yogis who can sit and meditate all day. But there are also others who do it throughout their day in bursts of a few minutes. And many more who allocate a set amount of “me-time” when they are able to do their practice, and re-group.

MINDFULNESS

The enlightened Buddist monk Thich Nhat Hanh advocates doing walking meditations, which offer you the opportunity to transform an everyday practice into a healing and nourishing way to develop mindfulness, awaken your consciousness and to bring some peace into a life all too often over-run with stress. Basically they are meditation in action. You become mindful of the action of walking and try to keep your mind focused on the experience of walking and breathing. This makes it a lot easier for “monkey minds” to deal with as it gives the flighty mind something on which to concentrate. You can hear him explain it here and watch him demonstrate this form of meditation to a group of followers. It is a good form of meditation for women, who often benefit from active meditation as it is more yang, or masculine. I learnt the practice of this powerful technique from this wonderful Walking Meditation Kit – comprising book, DVD and CD which you can buy from Amazon. Meditation Oasis has clear detailed instructions for doing a walking meditation to get you started right here.

If you find you prefer active meditation Osho offers a number of  dynamic meditations you may like to try.

Many people prefer a guided meditation as they find having a voice directing the practice helps them to maintain their focus. Here is a simple ten minute relaxation meditation that I came across recently. I like it for its simplicity, her gentle, soothing voice and because it incorporates conscious muscle relaxation – perfect for releasing stress. I believe this is one you could even do at your desk if things start to get on top of you at work.

If you are having difficulty actually relaxing any muscles in these meditations one tip is to tighten each muscle momentarily. This allows you to relax the muscle on release. Use this technique until you are able to relax the muscles at will.

BREATHE

One of the simplest ways to start meditating is to practice consciously watching your breath, often called mindfulness . It comes out of Buddhist tradition but is not ‘religious’ in itself. It is all about ‘being present’ and allows for your mind to do its own thing while you develop, over time, the ability to detach from the thought. That sounds complicated, but in fact it is very simple. Here are two variations of a calming and simple meditation that focuses on the breath, again from Meditation Oasis. Breathing Meditation is one of the simplest forms of meditation and yet is also one of the most powerful. You may discover you never need to look any further!

Of course there are many different types of meditation that can be used to fulfill all sorts of purposes. Many have heard of Transcendental Meditation which derives from Hinduism. Zazen meditation involves just sitting for long periods. Kundalini is gaining in popularity and focuses on the rising stream of energy that exists in humans. Guided visualizations can be a very powerful way to opening your awareness. I use these in my Women’s Circles often with wonderful results. They involve concentration on an image or imagined environment or experience. Another form of meditation that I have found particularly powerful is the practice of Qi Gong, a Taoist meditation technique. Of course there are others as well and you may like to investigate some once you have established a regular meditation practice in your life.

I am a big fan of not taking on big loads – maybe it is the inner sloth, who knows. But if there is an easier pathway then I am always willing to give that option a go. And one way that always makes things a little easier to achieve is to break tasks down into their smallest bites and to then tackle those one at a time. If the prospect of meditation seems a bit daunting to you then start small. Start out by adopting a five minute breathing meditation, or if that is too much make it three minutes. Or start by doing a quick body relaxation every day at your desk or before the kids come home from school, or before going to bed at night. Or maybe even do it for a few minutes a few times through the day.

Soon you will find that it is easy to meditate.

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”
Voltaire

This is how I picture myself meditating...but it is far more likely I will be sitting in my car catching a few brief moments to centre my breathing before plunging back into the chaos of life
This is how I picture myself meditating…but it is far more likely I will be sitting in my car catching a few brief moments to centre my breathing before plunging back into the chaos of life

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://www.iam-u.org/index.php/8-basic-kinds-of-meditation-and-why-you-should-meditate-on-your-heart http://www.wildmind.org/walking/overview

Plastic Bombastic – Not Fantastic

The new school year is here and thousands of children are heading off to school each day with packed lunches
The new school year is here and thousands of children are heading off to school each day with packed lunches

Making school lunches can be a bit of a nightmare. Every mother wants to send their children off to school with a healthy lunch (even if occasionally they succumb to outside pressure and include unhealthy snacks such as potato chips). Lots of children are now known to have reactions to certain foods and many schools impose limitations on the inclusion of certain foods, and of course this limits choices. There is lots of advice and suggestions around about school lunches and it is very easy to find ideas for healthy lunch boxes.

But in addition to what the children actually eat there is also the question of how to package it. With the new school year beginning this week and thousands of children heading off to school each day with lunches packed into plastic boxes and wrapped tightly in plastic cling film now is again the right time to revisit the question of the dangers on the kids health of chemicals leaching out of the plastic and into the food.

The issue is not whether chemicals will leach from the packaging into the food, but how much

Over the last few years the media has widely covered the impact on babies of Bisphenol A, or BPA as it is commonly known, used in the production of babies bottles with the result that there are now BPA-free baby bot

tles available. But not much is said about the danger of other plastics, even though research has made the dangers well known.

Plastics deserve their bad name! There have been numerous studies showing the adverse effects of plastics – in particular PVC, polycarbonate and polystyrene which contain the chemicals DEHP, Bisphenol A (BPA) and nonylphenol, all xeno-oestrogens.

The problem with xeno-oestrogens, such as BPA, is that they alter hormones. They have been linked to breast and testicular cancer, infertility, early puberty, reproductive delays, obesity and diabetes, as well as being found to lower the ability of your immune system to respond to inflammation. BPA has even been found to be linked to behavioural and emotional problems in pre-schoolers. The danger from BPA is even greater for babies and children because they seem to be sensitive to even tiny amounts. Boys in particular are susceptible to the hormone altering effects.

These toxic chemicals not only occur in plastics. They are present across our environment and are found everywhere from the lining of metal food cans, to the detergents in cleaning products, dental sealants and composites, pesticides and even baby bottles.

Let’s break it down a bit

  • Many chemicals found in plastics alter hormones in the body and lead to illness of the reproductive system and other diseases.
  • Harmful chemicals are found in all manner of plastic products and are more likely to be there than not. Some plastics are not so dangerous
  • There is lots of evidence of BPA leaching from the epoxy lining of cans holding food and beverage. Even cans certified “organic” leach BPA.
  • Chemicals leach out of plastics faster when they are in contact with fatty, salty or acidic foods like meat, milk or tomatoes.
  • Chemicals leach out faster when the plastic is heated. NEVER heat food or drinks in plastic, and be very wary of unintentional heating like water bottles left in a warm car.
  • Some plastics are safer than others. The number of the type of plastic will be on the bottom of the container. The ones to avoid are #1 (PET or PETE polyethylene terephthalate), #3 (PVC polyvinyl chloride), #6 (PS polystyrene), #7 (all other types of plastics). Some labeled with #7 are safe and some unsafe but you can’t be sure which it is. One of the unsafe ones is polycarbonate (PC) which is used in baby bottles.

What plastics are safer?

Some safer plastics to use are:

#2 HDPE (high density polyethylene) – a hard plastic used for many food containers as well as some toys,

shopping bags packaging, plus lots more. It is more stable than most other plastics and does not leach out endocrine disrupting chemicals. It is also easy to recycle.

#4 LDPE (low density polyethylene) – a soft plastic used in bags, squeezable bottles, cling films. It is safer but not recyclable, unlike #2

#5 Polypropylene (PP) – used for rigid containers like ice-cream containers, plus many other items. It is thought to be free from known hazards but again, is not recyclable.

These do not give you a huge choice and also need to be balanced up with the damage that non-recyclable plastics do to our environment.

It is really safer and more responsible to avoid using plastic .

Paper bags - an alternative to plastic lunch boxes
Paper bags – an alternative to plastic lunch boxes

Simple ways to make changes

  • Use paper bags for school lunches – safe and recyclable
  • School lunch can be wrapped in greaseproof paper (at your supermarket) or one of the re-useable wraps now available. Look for them at Onya or 4MyEarth
  • Store food in glass, unglazed ceramics and stainless steel which are the safest containers for food storage. .
  • Get a good quality stainless steel drink bottle for you and your children and avoid plastic water bottles or juice boxes
  • Avoid lunch boxes made from PVC (#3) and polycarbonate (#7) as food left sitting in these could be harming your kids
  • Never heat food or liquids in plastic containers (not even if they are made of safer plastics)
  • Take your own containers for take-away foods and avoid having hot food sitting in plastic containers
  • Don’t use cling wrap in the microwave – harmful chemicals leach out
  • If you need to store food and drinks in plastic then choose one of the safer ones
  • Only use plastics if they have a recycling symbol on the bottom so you know it is not harmful, or else you could call the manufacturer to find out what type of plastic it is
  • Glass is the only safe option for baby bottles
  • Don’t store foods like meat, tomato-based meals or cheese wrapped in cling wrap or any plastic.
  • Avoid canned foods wherever you can – look for glass instead.

If you do make the change away from plastic containers and food wraps, not only will you be protecting your family’s health you will also be making a significant contribution towards a cleaner planet, where vast quantities of plastics in landfill and our oceans pose a huge problem.

Vast quantities of plastics in landfill and our oceans pose a huge problem
Vast quantities of plastics pose a huge problem to our health as well as in landfill and our oceans

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://www.naturalnews.com/041912_BPA_fetal_exposure_contamination.html#ixzz2dxplBmpG

http://www.buildingbiology.com.au/index.php/Biology/Plastics.html http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/16/practical-options-to-store-your-food-without-contaminating-them-with-plastics.aspx

http://welladjustedbabies.com/the-wrap-on-plastic-food-wrap

http://www.emagazine.com/blog/bpa-free

http://www.ecolife.com/blog/food-health/plastic-food-wrap.html