Guest Post: Mending Your Muscles as You Sleep

Sleep helps with muscle repair

Sleep helps with muscle repair

People often say their muscles are “tired” after a long workout. While that’s an oversimplification of a complex process, the truth is that sleeping does aid in muscle recovery. If your muscles (and the rest of you) are sleep-deprived, your muscles recover slowly from use and injury. Getting adequate rest may even help you avoid muscle damage in the first place. Sleeping at least seven hours per night is essential to improving your body and overall wellbeing.

The Science of Muscle Recovery

Muscles use different chemicals to heal themselves, and some of these chemicals are only released during the deepest stages of sleep. Growth Factor-1 aids in regenerating tissues, but it’s only released during sleep. A study also hypothesized that the pathways that convert protein to muscle are less active if you’re sleep-deprived. Rebuilding normal wear and tear on your muscles does require a full night’s sleep.

Recovering from Injuries

If you’ve injured your back or leg, you know that these injuries can take a long time to heal. However, sleeping at least seven hours per night may help the recovery process. A study on rats showed that they were less able to recover from muscle injuries when they had been deprived of sleep. Since some of the healing is done while you sleep, it makes sense that you don’t heal as fast if you’re not resting adequately.

Napping to Avoid Injury

Getting enough sleep may also help you avoid injury in the first place. A study that analyzed preschool-aged children noted that the number of accidental falls increased when the kids got less than eight hours of sleep at night. Napping may help. Although naps don’t often reach the deep levels of sleep that you get at night, they still may aid in reducing the risk of accidents.

Steps for Improving Your Sleep

Help your body recover from both injury and daily use by improving your sleep habits and sleeping environment.

Consider setting yourself a bedtime. Although many people believe that bedtimes are for kids, having a reliable schedule for getting to sleep benefits people of all ages. Going to bed at the same time each night helps align your circadian rhythm, an internal “clock” that controls many different processes in your body. This biological clock starts to recognize when you are supposed to get tired and releases melatonin, a sleep hormone. It also may be easier to get up in the morning if you get enough sleep each night.

Develop a routine before going to sleep. Like the regular bedtime, a consistent pattern before bed will help signal your brain that it’s time to sleep. A warm bath and reading a book are calming activities to include. However, reading the news on your favorite electronic device may not be a good choice. The blue wavelength light emitted from electronic devices may suppress melatonin release for hours. Turn off devices at least an hour before bed to start feeling sleepy when it’s appropriate.

Another way to sleep better is to minimize distractions in the bedroom. Light can be disruptive to sleep. Blackout curtains can be used to block out nighttime light pollution for those that live in cities. Some people are more sensitive to sounds. While a new innerspring mattress shouldn’t make any disruptive sounds, if you’re noticing squeaking or creaking when you turn over at night, check your mattress and bedframe and consider replacing the noisy culprit with a newer model. A white noise machine or phone app is also a cheap way to diminish the intrusiveness of sounds. Try not to let any light, noise or other distraction interfere with getting the rest you need.

If you take steps to improve your sleep habits, you may see a reduction in muscle soreness. Sleeping helps you to recover from injury and muscle use. It’s a central part of a healthy lifestyle.

Amy Highland is a sleep expert at She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.  

Guest Post: 6 Skin-Detoxing Herbs That Can Heal Your Acne Naturally

Acne on chin


Who doesn’t want to heal their acne and skin diseases naturally? And I have found that natural remedies tend to work way better than all the expensive skincare products we find in beauty shops. Today we will discuss the benefits of six such herbs that can help you detoxify your bloodstream and make the horrible acne go away forever!

Herbs on a piece of old wood, some in jars, some loose


1. Red Clover

You might not have heard the name of this magic herb before but take my word for it, this herb can fix almost all skin problems. It supports the cardiovascular tissues and blood flow in the body and when taken orally, it can help clear infections from the system pretty quickly. You can find red clover extract easily.

2. Chaste Tree Berry

This berry can also heal a lot of hormonal imbalance issue, but here the prime use of this berry is helping with clearing your acne. It is known an “amphoteric” berry, it increases progesterone and reduces the estrogens which are premenstrual acne’s prime cause. When dried, this fruit can have pepper like fragrance and taste. If you suffer from premenstrual acne, 20mg extract of chaste berry every day could help you a lot.

3. Echinacea

This is another well-known herb, and it reduces the annoying bacterium P which is the culprit behind acne, it can reverse the effects of inflammatory foods and quickly increase your body’s immunity. If you take this herb orally, you will feel like this herb is causing a slightly numbing effect on your mouth. A good way of consuming this herb is dropping a few drops of this herb’s extract in a glad of water and drinking it. You will thank me for bringing this elixir to your notice later.

4. Chlorella

Does the name sound like an algae species? Well, this herb resembles it a great deal. It is a sea plant, and right now, it is showing up in a variety of smoothies and food supplements as well. This sea herb has all nine amino acids in it, plus it is loaded with other elements like magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. It is recommended that you start consuming low dosages of this herb and then gradually increase the amount. I’m sure it will help you clear your skin by detoxifying your body.

5. Red Sage

You must have heard how sage is a very dear herb to the lady who sang Scarborough Fair; this herb has been around for ages and has numerous benefits. But red sage, in particular, has healing properties when it comes to battling the problem of acne. Start by taking small amounts because it might have side effects.

6. Dandelions

This last herb is my favorite. It has healing and strengthening properties no matter what part of it is used: stems, leaves or flowers. The high amounts of anti-oxidants present in this plant help with renewing the skin.

Author bio:
Sania is a student of accounts and finance. She enjoys shopping, trying out skincare remedies and blogging about anything that is related to beauty and self-care. Her love for pets, tea and travelling is eternal. She has published a post on the facemasks for acne at the smart women blog.

Guest Post: How Technology is Helping to Tackle Eczema Triggers

Eczema on a child

Eczema on a child

Technology has its own significance when it comes to the health tech industry. The new era of technology aims at advancing the modern practice of scientific medicine and patient care, thereby, striving to resolve most complex healthcare challenges. A significant growth in the doctor-patient relationship in the past 10 years has been a result of the introduction of digital medicine.

The Term – Digital Medicine

An estimated 50% of adults in the US are diagnosed with one or more chronic ailments such as diabetes, heart and lung diseases that are the cause of seven out of 10 deaths. Statistics reveal that health-care accounts for 86% of the total costs in the US. It is essential to seek medical advice and follow recommended self-management regimens to treat these health conditions. However, often brief doctor visits, overwhelming self-care demands fail to be beneficiary for the patient and they end up in worsening their conditions.

This is where the role of digital medicine becomes prominent and necessary. Digital health is the utilization of the digital technologies to drive a change in the health, healthcare for better living, more productive lives and improved society. Hospitals and doctors suggest that certain digital tools or health apps are empowering the patients to better track, manage, and improve their lives.

These apps are also helping to minimize the inefficiencies in the healthcare system, improve the doctor-patient access, reduce costs, increase quality, and make medicine more personalized and precise.

Benefits of the Digitally Powered Health Apps

Digital medicine being a convergence of remote monitoring, behavior modification and personalized intervention can help manage symptoms in some of the most chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. This has resulted in an increased number of healthcare systems and hospitals preferring digital apps that have undergone clinical trials and can be adopted on a large scale at an economical cost simply through the use of smartphones, wireless devices, and sensors.

These health applications are an assurance for the patients that they can manage their health.

In addition to boosting a patient’s confidence, these digital programs are a medium for the doctors to acquire information related to the patients’ symptoms, behavior, habits and know when the regimens aren’t being followed or intervene during the time of flare-ups.

These innovations also help the care teams to consistently motivate, support the patients to change their lifestyle and follow a routine that includes exercising, taking medications or similar to get a complete hold on their disease.

These medical apps help people monitor and manage their condition at home, thereby, reducing the need to visit the specialist more often.

Eczema Tracker App

Eczema is a common skin condition affecting approximately 30 million Americans, including children and adults. Although no definite cause has been determined till date for the occurrence of eczema, it is commonly linked to family history of asthma, hay fever, eczema, allergies and environmental factors. Food and medicine allergies, pet dander, environmental factors, such as pollen, humidity, temperature alterations, molds are common factors that cause eczema flare-ups.

While the ailment can’t be cured, it can be managed by avoiding the triggers that aggravate the symptoms of eczema. It often becomes tough to keep a record of these triggers. This where a relevant mobile app can take hold of your condition.

Eczema Tracker by Redblink Inc. is the most appropriate app that will help you track the triggers, manage the medicine usage, record the flare-up intensity, provides informational blogs and tips to control eczema in a systematic way.

About the App

It helps track outside environmental conditions, including the weather, temperature, pollen count, UV index, the mold for a particular location and the specific date. You can keep a record of your varied triggers such as environmental, food and health-related that result in flare-ups.

You can keep a note of your medication lists

Graphical data to present your flare-up intensity and medication usage for the specific day.

Tips, advice and New & Updates section to provide more information about eczema, its symptoms, triggers, and remedies.


The introduction of this new technology may initially take some time for complete implementation but according to the pace it is growing, soon it will take over the health industry in a positive manner. It will definitely change the outlook and approach of care teams, doctors, while, the patients will feel more connected and experience better care opportunities than before.

Author Bio:

Hi, I’m Nav. For the past few years, I have been an avid learner in the field of eczema and its care. My knowledge in the area developed as a result of my son’s eczema condition. Despite being born as a healthy boy, he was affected with the skin condition when he was merely 6 months old. I adopted several measures, precautions, allergy free dietary habits and treatment plans to help manage my son’s eczema symptoms. My struggle alongside my son, resulted in the development of my blog website Eczema Living.

Guest Post: Health benefits of … gaming!

Most people these days are more health conscious. We know that certain foods are healthy. We have an idea of what kinds of vitamin and minerals we need to consume more of. Exercise has become a part of many people’s daily routine, and some of us are even practicing healthy hobbies like mindfulness. However, few people are aware that gaming can be healthy, particularly for your cognitive health.

Empirical evidence has shown that gaming can strengthen certain areas of our brain. For example, the areas that are in charge of spatial awareness are strengthened by gaming, as are your planning skills, your memory, and other cognitive skills. Likewise, it has been shown that gaming can help you to recuperate after trauma. Research showed that those who had been in an accident, or who had recently had surgery, were quicker to recover if they played video games. This shows us that, though we are much more knowledgeable about how to live a healthy life nowadays, there are some things that can take us by surprise.

If you are quite healthy, and you eat well, watch what you put into your body, and you try and exercise and look after your body and your mind, then carry on doing what you are doing. As well as this, though, dust off your games console, plug in and play!

For more info about the possible health benefits of gaming, check out the infographic below from Computer Planet.

Health benefits of gaming

Goat Willow (or Pussy Willow) health benefits: the original aspirin

Male goat willow plants bear the familiar pussy willow catkins in Spring

Male goat willow plants bear the familiar pussy willow catkins in Spring

Goat willow, Salix caprea, is sometimes also called French willow, great sallow, Kilmarnock willow, or vetasa in ayurvedic medicine. Gardeners are likely to call it pussy willow because of the furry catkins produced on male plants in Spring and beloved by children.

It is a native of virtually the whole of temperate Asia and Europe. There is a similar looking plant, American pussy willow, S. discolor, which is native to North America, broadly used for the same ailments by the native Americans, and nowadays by herbalists.


Female goat willow flowers are not as attractive as the male ones

Female goat willow flowers are not as attractive as the male ones

Goat willow is a large deciduous shrub or small tree which can reach a height of 10m (30′) and needs a lot of space. Smaller cultivars are readily available from nurseries, some small enough to be grown in pots.

Although it is a true willow, goat willow has regular leaf-shaped leaves, rather than the straplike ones borne by most of the genus. It is a great bee plant and is used for the production of honey in parts of the USA.

Goat willow is dioecious (has male and female flowers on separate plants), but the seeds are rarely used, so unless you need to produce seeds you can get away with having just one plant.

Cultivation and harvest

Seed is very small and needs to be sown on bare soil or it will not germinate.

Like other willows, goat willow prefers damp or moist soil of any kind (except over chalk) and is not fussy about acidity. It will not grow in full shade, but tolerates both maritime exposure and atmospheric pollution.

If you are buying a plant to produce the pussy willow catkins, be careful to pick a male plant (ask the nursery staff how to find one), as the ones on female plants are not so attractive.

Edible uses

Inner bark and young shoots are edible raw or cooked, but very bitter and really only suitable as famine food.

Medicinal uses

If you don't choose a dwarf cultivar, you can quickly end up with quite a big tree.

If you don’t choose a dwarf cultivar, you can quickly end up with quite a big tree.

Although it contains a substance similar to commercial aspirin, goat willow bark cannot be used as an anti-coagulant to prevent stroke etc.

Goat willow bark lowers temperature, is anti-oxidant, antirheumatic and analgesic. It is anti-mutagenic, ie. it helps prevent permanent changes in the DNA caused by mutagens (eg. radiation and certain chemicals). Because many types of cancer are caused by mutagens, this means that goat willow helps to prevent cancer.

In ayurveda, vetasa is used to treat painful arthritis and to lower high temperatures, as a weight loss supplement and appetite suppressant. It is also used as a prophylactic and treatment for cancer.

Goat willow bark has been chewed since medieval times to treat pain from headache and toothache. If you prefer, you can make a decoction from the bark using 15g (a half ounce) of chopped bark in a small enamel, glass or ceramic pan. Add 500ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) cold water and bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain before use. You can take up to 250ml (1 US cup) a day of this decoction, split into 3 doses.

The decoction can also be used for diarrhea, to treat arthritis and increase joint mobility by reducing inflammation and as a gargle for sore throat.

It is used externally to stop bleeding, to clean wounds and as a remedy for minor skin inflammations, injuries, and aches.

Goat willow tea is made by adding half a teaspoon of powdered bark to a cup of cold water in a ceramic, glass or enamel pan, heating to boiling point and then turning off the heat and allowing to brew for five minutes before straining. You can take up to 3-4 cups of this a day. It is used as a remedy for headache, high temperature, digestive disorders and minor rheumatic pain.

Goat willow vinegar, made by soaking bark in vinegar, can be used as a treatment for warts.

Other uses

It is fast growing and useful as a windbreak and/or shelter belt because it coppices well and is tolerant of pollution and maritime exposure. It’s also sometimes used for pioneer planting, though it is rather hungry.

The wood is good for making baskets and rugs, as it is flexible and tough. Unwanted wood can be burnt to make good quality charcoal.

The bark can be used as a leather substitute. Tannin extracted from the bark is used for tanning leather.

In Sweden the bark has been used as a black dye for wool and linen.

Contra-indications and warnings

Do not use if you are allergic to aspirin or salicylates, or if you are currently taking medicine that contains acetylsalicylic acid.

Consult a doctor before taking goat willow if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Goat willow is not used in aromatherapy.

Final Notes

Even if you don’t want to make your own goat willow preparations, it’s worth finding a space for a small pussy willow in your garden, if only for the sight of kids’ faces when its catkins are out. If you are going to use it in herbal medicine, bear in mind that the bark forms part of the vascular system of the plant, don’t cut all the way round your you will kill the tree, and use organic growing methods to avoid funky chemicals in your remedy.

Guest Post – Chamomile: The Perfect Herbal Tea?

The type of chamomile usually used for tea is Roman chamomile

The type of chamomile usually used for tea is Roman chamomile

Chamomile tea has a reputation as being beneficial for the body. But does this herbal tea really deserve all the hype? This article will give you an overview of this perfect herbal tea.


The word Chamomile was originated from the Greek word chamaimēlon, which means “ground apple” in English. Its medicinal history dates back to the periods of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians who prepared it in the infusion form, hence the name “tea”, despite not having Camellia sinensis tea leaves. Because of this, chamomile tea is also considered as a tisane.

The Ancient Romans used chamomile to create flavor drinks, medicinal herb, and even incense. In Spain, chamomile flower is known as “Manzanilla,” which like chamaimēlon, also translate to “little apple.” It was popularly used to add flavor to a light sherry that also goes by the same name. The Norsemen used it to wash their hair. It was believed to make hair shinier.

During the Medieval times, chamomile petals were scattered at gatherings as it brings good odors. According to monks discovered, there is a double-headed chamomile flower in every 10,000 chamomile plants. These double-headed plants had a milder flavor, even though the seeds were sterile, they were refined to use as a medicinal herb and as a tisane.

Did you know that what’s today known as Roman Chamomile wasn’t really cultivated by the Romans? In fact, it was discovered in the Coliseum growing wildly by an English Botanist. He brought the chamomile back with him to England where it has become one of the main types of chamomile now cultivated in the country. Similarly, Chamomile isn’t also native to the Americas but was brought and cultivated by colonists. Eventually, chamomile seeds spread and grew wild in different parts of the world.


What you have to know about chamomile is that it contains great amounts of magnesium and calcium. Calcium is used in many health conditions, one of its uses its ability to help prevent muscle cramps. Magnesium, on the other hand, is known to be a stress reliever, which definitely is something many people can take advantage of these days. Together with a high amount of these essential minerals, chamomile also contains good amounts of phosphorus, potassium, as well as manganese. Iron, zinc, and selenium are also found in chamomile. All things considered, this is a great herbal tea that ideal for regular consumption.

Main Benefits

By now, you should have an idea of how you can use chamomile tea for your benefits, but what can it really do for you?


Chamomile tea has a lot of health benefits! Chamomile is antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antioxidant. It eases stomach ache, colds, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, back pain, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, toothaches, sinus infections, insomnia, and a lot more!

Chamomile tea has a high level of quertin, which is a phytochemical that adds color to vegetables and fruits. It combats damage produced by free radicals. Glycine, which is an amino acid of chamomile, maintains a good nervous system.

With a dash of lemongrass, chamomile tea could easily calm the nerves and relieve stress and tension. Because chamomile tea doesn’t contain caffeine, unlike most teas, drinking it is also a great way to beat insomnia.

Chamomile is also known to be the “go to” herbs for those who suffer from digestive disorders like ulcers, upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea. It relaxes muscle contractions, mainly in the smooth muscles in the intestines. In a Swiss journal study, it is said that the herbal blend of chamomile, peppermint, and iberis were revealed to be effective in treating stomach indigestion, inflammation, and irritation.

Skin Care

Chamomile is used to speed the recovery time of wounds, lessens the production of fine lines and wrinkles, makes skin tone brighter, soothes burns and skin irritations, reduces under eyes dark circles, puffiness, and swelling, and keeps it hydrated.

It contains very effective healing, antioxidant, and purifying properties that are proven to help reduce the production of acne and acne scar.

Hair Care

Chamomile is normally used as an ingredient for treating blond hair [Brunettes should use rosemary. ed]. Rinsing your hair with chamomile can make it brighter and lighter. With continuous use, you can add golden highlights to darker hair. That’s why it’s no surprise how many shampoos on the market today add this as one of their main ingredients. On top of making your hair prettier, it also strengthens it and repairs split ends. It also helps to keep a balance between oily and dry scalp.


Aside from being delicious, there are many other reasons as to why many people chose to drink this herbal tea. And now, you know what those reasons are. However, if you happen to have a strong allergy reaction to plants like ragweed or daisies, you must start with a small amount of chamomile of any form. Even though the side effects are almost nonexistent, it’s still smart to consult with a health expert before using chamomile tea as a health supplement.

David is a blogger at HealthisKing. He has a passion for living healthy through all natural means possible to get the maximum out of his body and teach others along the way.

Guest Post: Top 5 Medicinal Herbs in Costa Rica

With the cost of healthcare increasing, medical tourism is on the rise. It is now a well-known fact that Costa Rica is a medical-treatment destination for many people from the USA, Canada and beyond.

However, what is less well-known, is that Costa Rica has many indigenous herbs and plants that provide medicinal qualities. This natural side of Costa Rica medicine is often overlooked. It provides a perfect balance to the modern high-tech medical facilities in the country.

Let us take a look at the top 5 medicinal herbs in Costa Rica, and get a better understanding of the power of nature’s healthcare system.

Lippia alba. Photo by Dianakc

1. Lippia alba

The common name of this plant is juanilama [ed: it is closely related to lemon verbena]. It is a short shrub-like plant with small purple or white flowers. It has a brown stem which produces light green serrated leaves.

Juanilama is very common across all of Costa Rica and has been used by Costa Ricans as an herbal medicine for hundreds of years. It is best taken as a tea, which can be prepared by placing the leaves and stems of the plant in boiling water.

It is said to aid digestion, depression and arthritis, and can also be used as a remedy for influenza. It is sometimes used in an herbal bath to cure fevers and stomach pain.

Satureja viminea. Photo by

2. Satureja viminea

Also known as a Jamaican Mint Tree, this bush-like plant is found across Costa Rica. [ed: It is closely related to Summer savory, Winter savory, common calamint, lesser calamint, Alpine calamint, showy calamint and basil thyme] Its leaves are small and oval-shaped, and this lime green foliage has a very strong spearmint taste.

The leaves contain menthol oil which can aid in many ways – such as fighting bacteria, calming nerves and helping digestion. It is also used in mouth washes to help prevent cavities in teeth.

The well-known brand, Kama Sutra Luxury Mint Tree Bath Gel and Body Wash, is made from this plant.

Justicia pectoralis. Photo by Scott Zona from Miami, Florida, USA

3. Justicia pectoralis

Also known as Carpenter’s Bush, this plant is grown in Costa Rica at lower levels in fields and gardens. It can reach between 15 – 200 cm in height and has small purple flowers with light-green oval leaves.

For medicinal use, the plant is often used as an antiemetic. In other words, it is effective against nausea and vomiting – often used to cure motion sickness.

It can be used as an infusion to treat headaches, influenza, whooping cough and fever. There is even evidence of it being used on the scalp to treat hair loss.

Costus spicatus. Photo by Joan Simon from Barcelona, España

4. Costus spicatus

This plant is more commonly known as Spiked Spiralflag Ginger [ed: It is closely related to Crepe Ginger]. It has a distinctive look with flowers which emerge from a tall red cone. Under the cone, there are large green leaves.

The seeds, fruits, leaves and rhizomes can all be used for medicinal purposes. It is most frequently used as a diuretic (commonly known as water pills).

However, it can also be used as an anti-inflammatory, stimulant, anthelmintic and antiseptic.

Piper auritum. Photo by Jim Conrad

5. Piper auritum

This plant is known locally in Costa Rica as Hoja Santa (Sacred Leaf). It is a large plant with heart-shaped leaves that can grow up to 2 meters in height. This plant can grow very quickly, and in a native forest can quickly form large thickets with a dense canopy.

The large leaves can be crushed and applied to the skin to relieve the discomfort of skin irritations, bites and wounds.

It is also commonly infused as a tea for pain relief and to ease bronchial conditions.


So, as you can see, Costa Rica has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to natural medicinal herbs.

You may think that this country has moved away from its traditional roots. That it is now simply concerned with providing cheap medical solutions to people from other countries.

But, if you look a bit closer, you will find Costa Rica has a long tradition of using nature for medicinal purposes. And that these are still important and useful today.

About the Author
Paul Taylor is a contributor to He loves traveling off the beaten track and exploring the less well-known parts of a country. That is, when he remembers to take his passport to the airport.


Costa Rica’s Most Magical Plants

Fruit Pavlova – Gluten free recipe

Strawberry pavlova

Strawberry pavlova

A fruit pavlova is a wonderful dessert for any celebration.

This recipe can be relied on to get an oooh! and lots of compliments from your guests at any party you’re planning. You can ring the changes by changing the fruit used as filling. Whatever you choose, it’s guaranteed to go down a treat, but it’s definitely not for anyone counting calories, carbs or aiming for a low fat diet! But it’s not every day we celebrate, is it?

It provides 6-8 Servings.

4 egg whites
250g (½ lb) caster sugar
1 tblsp cornflour (cornstarch)
2 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla essence
250ml (8 fl oz, 1 US cup) double (heavy) cream
Fruit of your choice, for example:
2 bananas
1 small pineapple (or a tin of pineapple cubes in juice, well drained)
2 passion fruit
2 peaches

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F, gas mark 2).

Whisk egg whites until peaking. Add sugar a tablespoonful at a time, whisking until the meringue is very stiff. Whisk in the cornflour, lemon juice and vanilla essence.

Pile meringue mixture onto a baking sheet lined with paper and spread into a 23cm round. Hollow out the centre slightly and bake for 1½ hours.

Cool meringue, remove paper and place on a serving dish.

Cut pineapple in half and scoop out flesh. Remove the central core and discard. Dice the rest of the pineapple. Peel the passion fruit and peaches and slice. Peel the bananas and slice.

Whip cream until stiff and fold in some of the fruit. Pile into the centre of the pavlova and decorate with remaining fruit.

Remedy for aches and pains

Aches and pains can take away the enjoyment of life

Aches and pains can take away the enjoyment of life

Whatever the time of year, aches and pains can plague us from time to time, and this only gets worse as the weather turns from the cool days of autumn to the frost and snow of winter.

Of course, aching joints and muscles aren’t all created equal but although they can often be quelled by taking over-the-counter painkillers, many people prefer to use more natural methods.

When looking for a remedy for aches and pains,, the first step is to try and work out the cause, as it’s helpful in working out the best treatment to use and where to apply it (if it’s topical). So if you don’t already know what’s going on, take a bit of time to visually check out the area affected to see if there’s anything obvious.

Severe unexplained pain in the leg, foot or ankle, accompanied by one sided swelling, areas that are higher in temperature to the touch and/or a change in skin colour is a possible sign of DVT which is a medical emergency requiring Urgent Medical Care. If this is you, take immediate steps to get treatment.

Possible causes of aches and pains

Pain in the legs, joints or muscles can be caused by arthritis, varicose veins, sciatica, injury, a sprain or other muscular strain. All pain in bones and muscles may also be associated with a zinc deficiency.

  • Arthritis occurs mainly around the joints, which are often swollen, though there may be some transference. There are several types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis seem to be auto-immune disorders, sometimes triggered by gluten.
  • Varicose veins are usually visible as blue lines under the skin. They can make your legs feel uncomfortable, heavy and aching, possibly accompanied by a burning or throbbing sensation. They are a result of failure of the valves which normally prevent blood flowing in the wrong direction.
  • Sciatica is caused by a compressed or irritated sciatic nerve (in the lower back), but the pain generally travels down from there and can reach as far as the toes, though usually only affecting one leg.
  • Sprains and other injuries such as torn ligaments are generally caused by an accident of some kind, though some injuries may be the result of over-enthusiastic exercise.
  • Muscular strain is caused by exercise which is heavier than you’re used to – especially at the start of a new exercise regimen.
Pains in any part of the body can be a symptom of serious disease, so if they are severe and longstanding, or if they don’t improve with the use of the remedies suggested here within a few days, please consult your doctor to ensure that you aren’t ignoring a potentially life threatening condition.

Remedies for aches and pains

Remedy for aching joints

If you suffer from aching joints, this is generally caused by some form of arthritis. The most common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which as mentioned above may be related to gluten or other foods in the diet. To test this, take your medical practitioner’s advice or you could try eliminating gluten from your diet for 3 weeks (it takes this long for gluten to leave your system) and keep an eye on your symptoms. An improvement is an indication of a possible link, but you can check this by going on a gluten-rich binge the day after the three weeks is up, and see what happens.

If you’re coping with any joint pain (even osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear) you can obtain some pain relief and reduction of inflammation using topical remedies either alone or in conjunction with prescribed medication.

A zinc supplement may also be helpful, particularly if you’re suffering from RA. You can talk to your doctor about this or read my article about zinc for information on other symptoms that may indicate you’re deficient in zinc.

Another well known supplement used by many people with RA is evening primrose oil (EPO). This contains high levels of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and trials indicate that a dose of 6g (6000mg) EPO a day is helpful in relieving both pain and morning stiffness in the vast majority of users.

If you have holly or even nettles in the garden you can make a home remedy:

Holly home remedy

Make a holly leaf decoction using 2-4 tablespoonfuls of leaves. Put them into 1 UK pint (2½ US cups, 570ml) cold water in a small pan, bring to a boil then simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.

Nettles home remedy

Make a nettle infusion using 3 handfuls of fresh nettles. Put them in a teapot or other container, add 1 UK pint (2½ US cups, 570ml) boiling water, cover and leave to brew for at least 10 minutes (up to 4 hours) before use.

The dosage in each case is up to 1 cup a day.

Although the other remedies recommended for general aches and pains below can also be used (in particular helichrysum), lavender essential oil blended with your favourite carrier oil is specifically recommended for massaging into painful and swollen joints.

Unfortunately, recent research has found that regular use of tea tree and lavender oils in boys before puberty can lead to gynecomastia (breast enlargement) and can interfere with their sexual development [source]. The same thing can occur in adult males, but with less serious effects, since their sexual characteristics are already established. It’s therefore advisable to restrict use of the oils and products (eg. shampoo) that contain either of these oils for boys except in occasional emergency situations.

Psoriatic arthritis may benefit from adding avocado carrier oil additive to the lavender oil blend. Eating avocadoes or using avocado oil in salad dressings etc. may also be helpful.

There is also a wide range of specific remedies for arthritis, many of which I offer in my online shop.

Remedy for aching legs

Varicose veins may benefit from a home remedy made from alkanet: put 15g (half an ounce) of dried root in a small saucepan with 1 UK pint (2½ US cups, 570ml) of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, strain and allow to cool before use. Apply to the area affected and allow to dry.

If your legs ache due to muscular pain read the next section.

Remedy for aching muscles and sciatica

There are several essential oils which are good for massage blends for muscle pain, including all varieties of eucalyptus oil, lemongrass oil and rosemary oil, but the real star for this purpose is helichrysum which is perfect for any type of musculo-skeletal pain, including sciatica.

Helichrysum is very expensive to produce and therefore usually sold in a ready diluted form, but the others need to be diluted with a carrier oil before use. Add 1 drop to each 2ml of carrier oil and shake well before use.

Note that rosemary oil is not suitable for use during pregnancy, for children under 6 years, or by anyone suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) or epilepsy.
As with all essential oils, none of the oils mentioned in this post should be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

I hope that this post has given you some insight into natural ways of dealing with general aches and pains to help you avoid just reaching for the pain killers.