Category Archives: Natural Health

Coasting to Christmas on the Silly Season Tsunami

With the end of the year racing towards us it is very easy to succumb to overwhelm, and here in Australia I believe that we actually do this season much harder than we need to, and perhaps harder than they do overseas. The festivities of Christmas, or whichever of the Holidays  you celebrate, coincides here with the end of the school year, the end of the working year, and the end of the calender year, all in one short week.

coasting to christmas-1386235586MYq

Trying to juggle a myriad of  ‘end-of-year’ school activities, dance concerts, exam study, shopping for the festivities ahead and socialising, together with having so many businesses closing down for at least a few weeks and preparations for the mass post-Christmas exodus to various idyllic beachy places, it is very easy to get caught up in a sense of “approaching the end”. Easy to get that nagging feeling that you need to finish absolutely everything, to tie up all the loose ends in your life.

It seems that the whole nation drives itself into an absolute feverpitch of stress through December and then shifts to the opposite extreme and shuts down totally after Christmas Eve. It is no wonder everyone races around with a sense of impending doom if everything isn’t done and finalized on time.

Perhaps this Australian ‘end-is-nigh’ approach to December actually fuels the stressful emotions that are experienced.

Are You Driving Yourself Too Hard?

How many times do you say to people ‘we must catch up before Christmas’? How much do you drive yourself at work to finalise jobs that realistically might wait a week or two? How many parties do you attend? How many late nights do you have? How much fattening, sugary, or rich food do you eat? How often are you driven to do or buy something which could wait, without really knowing what drives you to do it right now? And these are only what you are actually doing – they don’t even start to address the emotions that get stirred up at this time.

This last part of the year can be a time of escalating stress for so many during the build-up to Christmas with ‘so much to get done’, loneliness, increasingly tired children as they approach the end of the school year, the pressures of self-run businesses to cover added end of year costs such as holiday pay for staff, a calendar that seems to overflow, loss of a job and financial constraints, plus many more difficulties.

Loneliness and Grief

This part of the year is also the time of tremendous emotional stress for many. It is the time when the loss of loved family members, whether through separation or their passing, comes home and strikes with almost paralyzing force. For some people the whole season is wrapped in a tight mantle of grief that draws in around and stifles them.

It can also be the time when singles feel the most lonely, when isolation from family and friends or an abscence of them in your life strikes most intensely.

Family Tensions

For others the experience of returning into a family where everyone is suddenly thrown back into the role they played as a youngster and the family dynamics that played out when they were children, is too difficult to deal with.This is in spite of the fact that in their real everyday life they are responsible and competent parents, partners, employees or employers with wide and admirable skills and abilities.

In this scenario is it any wonder that the anxieties of childhood rear their ugly heads. Is it any wonder that behaviour reverts and childish tantrums or bickering, petulant unhappiness or resentment and various other actions that arise from the uncertain and fearful child that is still living deep within, start to occur.

But whatever the reason the ability to engage in the Christmas spirit eludes many and the season is anything but bright.

There are natural treatments that can help you cope as the Holiday Season gets nearer and stress levels increase
There are natural treatments that can help you cope as the Holiday Season gets nearer and stress levels increase

WHAT YOU CAN DO

There are a number of natural strategies that you can adopt to help deal with these issues. Rather than go into each of them in detail I will give you a link to some that I think are sound and effective. You can have a look and try a few out and then use any that suit you the best.

Even making a little time to get some exercise or relaxation is a good way to start. When we start to rush both exercise and relaxation space often go by the wayside. Schedule the time in your calendar and then stick to it.

Remember that a massage can work wonders especially if you carry your stress in your neck and shoulders, and it will be even more effective if it includes aromatherapy essential oils for relaxation.

Emotions respond beautifully to any of the varied forms of energetic medicine. Medicine delivered in an energetic form can be very effective in ‘re-balancing and re-setting you’ so that you are able to deal with whatever it is you have to face. Hear are a few.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy offers some great remedies for many of the issues such as stress, overwork, grief, over-excitement, anxiety, guilt, exhaustion and so on.

Homeopathic Coffea helps with getting over-excited children off to sleep on ChristmasEve. Ignatia is often a first choice for grieving. Nux vomica can work wonders if you are driving yourself towards burnout with overwork.

Homeopathic remedies need to be matched to your own idiosyncratic symptoms, the particular way you manifest the stress so unless you are familiar with self-prescribing for acute situations, or if your stress is long-standing you should consult with a fully trained and registered Homeopath.

Learn how to choose the best Homeopathic remedies for acute illnesses
Learn how to choose the best Homeopathic remedies for acute illnesses

Acupuncture

Visiting an Acupuncturist is a great way to deal with the stress, but even better, you can do Acupressure yourself anytime and anywhere, and it works along the same lines as acupuncture. Here is a good demonstration of one way to relieve stress by Donna Eden, an expert at using acupressure in her energy medicine work.

This advice and demonstration of acupressure points to use for hangovers could be useful if you are partying hard. And here are some acupressure points to help with feelings of anxiety felt throughout the holiday season.

Flower Essences

Flower essences can have a great benefit when trying to deal with grief. They work very gently, but effectively on the emotions.

The basic Bach Rescue Remedy or Australian Bush Flower Emergency Essence are both good ‘all-purpose’ mixes for dealing with stressful situations but there are a number of others that can be tailored to each individuals requirements. FES Five Flower Formula is similar to Bach Rescue Remedy.

Perhaps my favourite for this time of the year would be the Australian Bush Flower ‘Calm & Clear’ essence – the name says it all.

There are flower essences to help relieve all the other stressful emotional responses to the holidays and they are well worth investigating.

For information about each of the Bach remedies look here, for Australian Bush Flower Remedies look here and Californian Flower Essences here.   And this blogger describes her response to flower remedies which is interesting if you have had no experience of them before

Calm_Clear_Th

Difficult Families

Here are some useful strategies for those who have to deal with intensified extended family tensions. They give you the opportunity to plan ahead and devise strategies for you as well as your family.

Importantly it is all about taking back the reigns and getting back your sense of control. If you are able to clearly identify where your stress is coming from then you have a better chance of achieving this control. If there is a tradition in your festivities that causes more stress than joy, then it is time to give yourself permission to change things. Maybe 2012 is the year to make changes, after all you cannot help others if you are not really coping yourself.

Don’t forget, it is not all about the ‘Big Day’. The stress of the lead up through December can be just as bad or worse, and the significant health effect that prolonged stress can have on your whole system is often not recognized or acknowledged until it gets serious.

Remember to check in with situations and ask yourself whether they are of joy or of stress right through the whole Month of December.

Make this the year where you decide to be a bit kinder to yourself. Sure there are always going to be pressures, but maybe by being aware of the extent of the manufactured pressures you embrace, you can let a few slide, and in easing up your obligations you will be able to deal with those stresses you really cannot avoid.

It is time to allow yourself the gift of self-love and self-care.

It is time to allow yourself the gift of self-love and self-care

 

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. 

Skin Deep: How To Avoid Toxic Skin Care

I’m always amazed how so many high end/high price skin and hair care products claiming all manner of nourishing and rejuvenating benefits,  contain so many ingredients toxic for your skin and hair. Often the toxic chemicals they contain are actually the cause of dehydration, dermatitis or other skin problems.

Skin Deep: How to avoid toxic skin care products

Often products we use to prevent skin problems actually cause those same skin problems, so why do we continue with this crazy behaviour?

We’re all susceptible to great advertising campaigns and because most rarely know what those long chemical names actually are we’re all quick to accept the recommendation of the advertisers.

Of course even if you do know which chemicals are harmful it can be impossible to read ingredient lists printed in microscopic script, if indeed they’re included on the product at all. Legislation only requires the list of ingredients be displayed but not necessarily on the product – it can just be a card sitting at the point of sale, which you may not notice or stop to read!

We’re also easily seduced by nice smells, creamy texture, pretty packaging in our favourite colour, prestige brands, outrageous claims, or simply brand loyalty.

 

 

Organic Skin Care Claims

natural non-toxic skin care
Photo courtesy: Shawn Campbell

In Australia a product can be labeled ‘organic’ if it contains any carbon in it at all. Given that there’s carbon in all plant and animal matter it’s pretty well a ‘free-for-all’. Technically, the inclusion of any vegetable oil or herbal preparation renders the product ‘organic’.

The word ‘organic’ on its own means zilch.

If the product contains ingredients grown according to accepted organic farming practices it will be labeled ‘Certified Organic’ or ‘Australian Certified Organic’. If ‘Containing Organic Ingredients’ is emblazoned on the packet be careful! There may only be a few drops of one certified organic essential oil in the largish container, while all the other ingredients are not organic and may be quite nasty chemicals.

Companies are ‘put on trust’ and don’t even have to substantiate any of their claims about a product unless they’re challenged. Can you afford the legal fees to prove that you really will look younger when you use their product? It rarely happens.

 

Getting Round The Hurdles

You do need to learn to read the label, even if just to know the main things to steer clear of. If you want natural, beneficial products then you need to be able to search for them. It’s up to you whether you want to settle for products just a little “cleaner” or get one that is really top-quality.

It’s also important to remember that although there may be only small of amounts of each of the harmful ingredients in the product they are cumulative and are present in every product you are using. You use many of these products every day, as well as other products around the home that contain these toxic additives – which all adds up to quite a significant toxic, damaging load.

Small exposures add up and may result in disease later on in life.

 

 

Chemicals To Avoid

The first few ingredients on the label are the most important. All ingredients must be listed in the order of quantity, that is, the one that there’s the most of is listed first and the one there’s least of is last.

The Worst Ingredients

The most problematic ingredients, and thus the ones you DO need to avoid, found in almost all skin/hair care products are these:

1. PETROLEUM PRODUCTS: (Mineral oil, Paraffin, Petrolatum): They coat the skin like plastic which clogs the pores, and interferes with the elimination of toxins allowing their build up and leading to acne and dermatitis. They slow skin cell development which results in premature ageing. They are often used in lip products to protect chapping and sun damage but as mineral oils promote skin photosensitivity (sun damage) and interfere with the body’s own moisturisation, they actually lead to dry and chapped skin.

2. SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES: They can cause skin irritation, rash, headache, dizziness, vomiting, coughing, and hyperpigmentation. They can also affect the central nervous system and cause depression, hyperactivity and irritability. Because they contain up to 4000 ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic, there is no way to know exactly what they do contain. If you want products with a fragrance then look for ones that use essential oils instead.

3. PARABEN PRESERVATIVES (Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben): Widely used and known to be highly toxic, they are a preservative used to inhibit microbial growth and extend shelf life. They cause many allergic skin reactions and skin rashes, irritate eyes and respiratory tract, and are connected to cancer. They also disrupt homrmonal process in the endocrine system as they mimic oestrogen

4. PROPYLENE GLYCOL:  A synthetic petrochemical, it inhibits skin cell growth, weakens cell structure, causes allergic reactions, dermatitis, skin irritation, conjunctivitis, and kidney/liver abnormalities. It is used as a ‘moisturizer’ and also found in fragrance oils. It is toxic and dangerous and the EPA requires workers handling it to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles and to dispose of it by burying it in the ground. In spite of this, there is no warning label requirement for products like stick deodorants even though the concentrations are higher than in most industrial applications.

5. SODIUM LAUREL/ LAURETH SULPHATE (SLS or SLES), AMMONIUM LAURYL SULPHATE (ALS): The synthetic substance that builds the ‘foaminess’ in shampoos, they dehydrate skin and inflame and separate the skin layers. They cause eye irritation, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf like dandruff, allergic reactions, they break down the moisture barrier in the skin, and they turn into a carcinogen. They are found in over 90% of personal care products that foam including shampoos, skin care and even toothpastes as well as engine degreasers and garage floor cleaners. Don’t be deceived into thinking it is ok if it says ‘comes from coconut’.

6. TRIETHANOLAMINE (TEA) – (it will often have a number added): It is a synthetic emulsifier which is severely irritating to body tissues and can cause allergic reactions, eye problems, dry skin and hair, and can be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. Over 40% of cosmetics containing it have been found contaminated with nitrosamines (potent carcinogens). The Material Safety Data Sheet actually advises wearing a face shield if there is danger of eye contact.

7. POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL (PEG) – (sometimes with a number added): They reduce the skin’s natural moisture factor and leave it vulnerable to bacteria. They also contribute to the appearance of ageing. Very commonly used and connected with liver and kidney damage and a carcinogen, you will also find them in caustic spray-on oven cleaners.

8. STEARALKONIUM CHLORIDE: Highly toxic, it can cause allergic reactions. Originally developed as a fabric conditioner it is now used in creams and hair conditioners because it is cheaper than herbals or proteins. Over time it causes hair to become dry and brittle

9. DIAZOLIDINYL UREA: The American Academy of Dermatology established it as the primary cause of contact dermatitis. It is the most commonly used preservative after parabens. It contains formaldehyde which is toxic if inhaled. It causes skin nose, eyes and throat irritation coughing and difficult breathing. It is toxic.

10. SYNTHETIC COLOURS: They are used simply to make products pretty. Avoid anything with these added as animal studies show almost all are cancer-causing agents and serve no beneficial purpose in the product at all.

Here are a few more to avoid, although they’re just a few of the huge problem.

Toulene – (benzoic, benzyl) A well known poison affecting many organs and found in synthetic fragrances, it is fatal if swallowed and harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Oxybenzone – (or benzophenone-3): It is found in any product offering sun protection – it inactivates the skins own antioxidant system (which leads to premature ageing),disrupts hormones, and causes cancer.  Ironically, it reacts under UV light (ie: in the sun) to potentially damage DNA and affect development.

Retinal Palmitate – decomposes under UVA rays into chemicals that cause cell mutations. Being photo-toxic it causes skin ageing but is often found in anti-ageing products!

Skin Deep: Avoid toxic skin care products

Children Are At Greater Risk

The EWC (Environmental Working Committee) offer this advice  on how to read a personal care product label. They recommend paying particular attention to products for children and babies which contain the same harmful ingredients but pose a greater risk. Children are so much smaller than adults so they’re relatively far more exposed to the dangers of the contaminants. Their organs are immature and far less capable at dealing with the assault.

 

Other Ways These Chemicals Affect You

The effect these toxins have on you isn’t just about how your skin or hair looks and feels. Many people also have a huge improvement in other health problems after they change their hair, skin or cleaning (personal and clothes) products. Switching from products containing the above ingredients to more natural products that don’t contain the nasty chemicals can have a huge impact on their health.

If you do seek out products made from more natural, healthy ingredients you may find that problems like allergies start to go away. Even simply changing to products that don’t contain artificial colours or synthetic fragrances makes a significance difference and is a great place to begin.

Natural chemical free products leave your skin younger and healthierNo doubt in the past you’ve found some products were good for your skin and others not so good. Natural skin and hair care products are no different. If you find one isn’t good for you then try another. The right one for your own individual skin and hair will be there and it’s simply a matter of finding which it is. I tried many different natural, healthy shampoos and conditioners before I found the one that suits my hair and leaves it beautifully soft.

 

Not  All ‘Natural’ And ‘Organic’ Products Are Ok

Here is a great article by the Wellness Warrior, Jess Ainscough, called ‘8 Beauty Brands You Would Think Are Natural’ where she challenges the ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ claims made by big companies. She examines one randomly chosen product from each range for just how many toxins it contains. She reinforces just why you do need to know your stuff and should really get you asking questions.

 

A List To Use When Shopping

To make it easier to navigate your way through the jungle of scientific names here’s a list of the ingredients above. Copy it and keep it in your bag. Then you can check the ingredients in products before you buy them.

PETROLEUM PRODUCTS: (Mineral oil, Paraffin, Petrolatum)

SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES

PARABEN PRESERVATIVES (Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben)–

PROPYLENE GLYCOL

SODIUM LAUREL/ LAURETH SULPHATE (SLS or SLES), AMMONIUM LAURYL SULPHATE (ALS)

TRIETHANOLAMINE (TEA)

STEARALKONIUM CHLORIDE

DIAZOLIDINYL UREA

SYNTHETIC COLOURS

POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL (PEG)

skin deep 4

Personal care products are supposed to enhance our skin and hair. Make sure that the ones you use are in fact food for your skin and not toxins for your skin.

 

Toxic ingredients in skin and hair care products often cause dehydration
Many toxic ingredients in skin care products cause dehydration

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:

The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics

Organic Consumer’s Association: Ten Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Base

Miessence: Ingredients We Shun