Natural remedies for anxiety/depression

Get on top of anxiety and depression in your life

Photo by Cat from Sevilla, Spain

There are many natural remedies for anxiety and depression. This post only covers readily available products which will help with both problems.

Anxiety and depression are closely related and often occur together. Anxiety is generally associated with stress or fear, whereas depression is often considered to be a result of suppressed anger. Both are linked to serotonin levels in the brain.

Anxiety, depression and deficiency

There are strong indications that both depression and anxiety are at least partly deficiency diseases.

Deficiencies in vitamin B, vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and tryptophan (an amino acid which is involved in the production of serotonin) have been linked to symptoms of anxiety.

Depression has been linked to deficiencies in Omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamin B, vitamin D, folate, chromium, iron, magnesium, zinc, iodine or selenium.

Note: Gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and some other closely-related grains as well as foods made from these, eg. pasta, bread and pastry) is also sometimes associated with depression. If you discover this link affects you, you should ask your doctor for a test for celiac disease.

An Epsom salt bath will give you a lift

Epsom salts (Magnesium sulphate) added to your bath are a simple and easy way to relieve emotional stress and depression. As a nice side effect, it will also help flush toxins, ease muscle pain and give your skin a new smooth softness.

Originally discovered as a component of healing springs in Epsom, Surrey, England, these salts have been used for centuries for their rejuvenating properties. Magnesium is involved in many of the body’s functions including energy production, the ability to utilise B vitamins and transmission of nervous impulses. It is readily absorbed using this method.

A balanced diet helps keep anxiety/depression at bay

The first step in fighting off the symptoms of anxiety and depression is to ensure that you are getting a really good balanced diet with all the relevant nutrients.

As a short term fix, a good one-a-day supplement such as Quest Super Once a Day and a high dose (1000mg or more) fish oil supplement will reinstate your nutrient levels quickly.

Foods which help keep your emotions on an even keel

Bee pollen is rich in nutrients are essential for a healthy brain and nervous system including vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C and the minerals iron and zinc. Adding bee pollen to your breakfast cereal or smoothie may help to reduce anxiety and stress.

Chia seeds contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and tryptophan.

Omega-3 is also found in oily fish, walnuts and flax seeds (also called linseed).

Tryptophan is found in dairy products, soy milk, meat, seafood, avocados, winter squash, nuts, and legumes (peas, beans and lentils).

Herbal infusions for anxiety and depression

Chamomile tea is well known to be calming and relaxing, but lemon balm, also called melissa, is helpful both for anxiety and also depression. Two other alternatives you might have in your kitchen cupboard are sage and turmeric. In each case, you can make tea using a teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of boiling water. Brew for at least 5 minutes and strain before you drink it. You can add honey to sweeten if you like. Some of these herbs are also available in tea bags.

Turmeric is easier to drink as golden milk: stir into a cup of dairy or non-dairy milk in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and serve. You can add ginger, honey or black pepper to this mixture. It’s very good for you, not just on the emotional front but also as an anti-inflammatory and to boost your immune system.

Essential oils for anxiety and depression

There’s a wide range of essential oils which can be used to fight off blues and angst. You can either add them to a massage blend, put a few drops in the bath or use them in an oil burner or electric diffuser.

There are professional blends such as De-Stress blend, or if you prefer to use single oils or make your own blend, you can choose from sweeter oils like bergamot, rose geranium, jasmine grandiflorum or officinale, lavender, neroli and ylang ylang or more masculine ones such as Virginian cedarwood, Roman chamomile, rosewood, sandalwood and turmeric (be a little careful with turmeric oil, as it can stain quite badly if it gets in the wrong place).

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.

Exercise raises your spirits

I’ve left exercise till last for two reasons. The first one is, as anyone who has suffered from depression will tell you, getting the motivation together even just to crawl out of bed is a major undertaking when you are dealing with the ‘black dog’. The other is that some people are physically unable to exercise because of underlying health conditions that may themselves contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.

However, if you are more at the anxiety end of this spectrum and are able, a bike ride, a run, a workout at your local gym, or whatever your preferred form of heartbeat raising activity will increase endorphins and your confidence, both of which will help to make you feel better.

 


Natural Remedies for Hay Fever

hay-fever

Sore eyes are a classic symptom of hay fever

Hay fever (also called allergic rhinitis) is a real problem for many people, ruining their summers. When everybody else is making the most of the beautiful weather, hay fever sufferers tend to try and stay indoors, away from the dreaded pollen. It’s either that or put up with streaming eyes, blocked nose, sneezing and the rest.

While you can protect your eyes to a certain extent by wearing wraparound sunglasses, the other symptoms can make you feel like you have a heavy cold, not really conducive to fun in the sun, but there are many different remedies that have been used with some success over the centuries. Here is a rundown.

The “immunisation” approach to hay fever treatment

An old remedy which some people still swear by is to take a spoonful of local honey every day, both in the run up to hay fever season and right through to its conclusion. This is believed to work by “immunising” you against the pollen produced nearby. But the honey you buy in your local supermarket probably won’t do the job, unless you’re very lucky, and it’s hard to find local beekeepers with honey for sale.

Another idea on the same lines that is sometimes suggested is to take bee pollen. To my mind, this suffers from the same problem as honey – mostly bee pollen is imported from places where the local flora are completely different to the ones that are causing your symptoms. But it’s tasty and nutritious in its own right, so you might want to try it on the basis that “it can’t hurt”.

There are also homeopathic remedies such as Pollenna®, which are specifically created to fight hay fever symptoms. Like the honey, you start taking this a few weeks before the beginning of the season, and continue until the end. This is definitely worth a try, as people who use it often swear by it.

Food for hay fever sufferers

Three foods have a particularly good reputation for helping get hay fever symptoms under control:

Moringa is a very strong antihistamine. This is a superfood which contains all 9 essential amino acids, and is high in fibre and protein. It is often added to smoothies, dairy or non-dairy milk or fruit juice. It can also be used in other recipes. If you haven’t used it before start with half a teaspoon a day and increase gradually to a maximum of 4 teaspoons a day.

Hot peppers are a decongestant. The dried version may be labelled cayenne pepper or chilli powder, but be careful with “chilli powder” and check the ingredients. Some chilli powders contain other seasonings that won’t help and make working out how much to use difficult. Fresh chilli pepper is just as good, possibly even better, but the dried powder can be used by people who can’t tolerate the fresh product.

Garlic is antihistamine and decongestant. It’s important to use it freshly crushed unless you buy the frozen type which is ready to use. Garlic granules and similar dried seasonings are not medicinally active.

Other foods that have antihistamine properties that you might have in your fridge or kitchen cupboards include ginger, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, onions, watercress, apples, peaches and pomegranates as well as proper Chinese bean sprouts grown from mung beans.

Try and eat some of these every day. At the very least they’ll give you a wide range of nutrients that will help to improve your underlying health.

Herbal teas for hay fever

Several herbal teas have been recommended for hay fever, the most frequently suggested being German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Others include elderflower, nettle, tulsi (holy basil), ginger and apple, green tea and green tea with ginger.

All these are natural antihistamines, so you can mix and match your afternoon herb tea and know you’re helping to relieve your symptoms.

Supplements for hay fever

Vitamin C, quercetin and garlic are all recommended for their antihistamine effects. You may also be able to find single herb remedies like German chamomile, turmeric, thyme, elderflower, nettle and tulsi.

Essential oils for hay fever relief

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.

The following essential oils can be used in burners, added to the bath or used in steam inhalations to help with symptoms:
German (blue) chamomile – antihistamine
Eucalyptus blue gum
Rose
Hay fever blend

Other hay fever treatments

Leaving aside prescribed medication, there are two main alternative therapies that some people have found to be helpful. These are acupuncture and hypnotherapy. I have no experience with either of these, but they have some good reports.

Summary

Hay fever can be distressing, but there are many lines of attack you can take to gain control. You have nothing to lose but your sneeze!

Remedies mentioned in this post

I offer the following remedies in my online shop:

bee pollen
chamomile tea
chilli/cayenne
Eucalyptus blue gum essential oil
garlic supplement
German (blue) chamomile essential oil
ground gingervarious ginger tea blends
tea products
moringa
mung beans
nettle tea, nettle juice
Pollenna®
quercetin
rose essential oil
dried thyme, thyme juice, thyme tea
tulsi tea
turmericturmeric capsules
vitamin C


Peppermint

Home Remedies for Heartburn (Acid Reflux)

Peppermint

Peppermint is very helpful for digestive disorders, including heartburn

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is a very common and often very unpleasant ailment which is triggered when the lower oesophageal sphincter above the stomach opens up and stomach acid backs up into the oesophagus. The sensation resulting from this can feel as though someone has lit a small bonfire in your chest, and it’s burning its way up to your neck.

Heartburn is a minor ailment, however unpleasant, but if it continues for a long period it can lead to conditions that are much more worrying, including Barrett’s oesophagus. Thankfully, there are several home remedies for heartburn that are instantly effective in getting relief from this nasty and uncomfortable ailment.

Baking Soda:

The element that is most effective in relieving heartburn is calcium, which is also the main ingredient in some of the over the counter heartburn meds. Instead of spending several pounds buying over the counter meds you can get the same relief from an item you can probably find in your kitchen, baking soda. Take ½ to 1 teaspoonful of baking soda and dissolve it in 250ml/8 fluid ounces of tepid water. Give the mixture a good stir and drink all of it down in one go. You can take this as frequently as needed but don’t exceed 3½ teaspoons in a 24 hour period.

Peppermint:

Be it in the shape of a naturally flavoured peppermint gum or peppermint tea, peppermint has been shown to have a cooling effect on our upper gastric parts to relieve heartburn. Please do not use peppermint essential oil for your heartburn; it can actually worsen the symptoms. Chewing peppermint gum creates extra saliva that can dilute the acid in your oesophagus and wash it away; it also helps constrict the lower oesophageal sphincter to keep stomach acid from backing up into the oesophagus.

As with all essential oils, peppermint essential oil should never 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.

Chamomile or Fenugreek Tea:

Both chamomile tea and fenugreek are effective for soothing stomachs and getting rid of stomach aches and cramps as well as curing heartburn. Fenugreek in particular is very effective for various digestive ailments, anything from heartburn to other digestive issues such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation, inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). Also, fenugreek seeds include a substance called mucilage, which soothes an inflamed gastrointestinal tract when it comes into contact with the stomach and intestinal lining.

Slippery Elm:

Like fenugreek, slippery elm also has mucilage, which turns into a thick gel when mixed with water and as a result helps thicken the layer of mucous lining your oesophagus and stomach forming a protective layer to create a strong barrier against acid, ulcers and oesophageal cancer. The way this works is that slippery elm stimulates the nerve endings throughout the gastrointestinal tract, and especially in the oesophagus, causing increased mucus secretion. The raised mucus production may protect the oesophageal surface from backed up stomach acid and symptomatic heartburn.

Fennel Seeds:

Fennel seeds are heavily used as an after meal remedy to ensure digestion and prevent acid reflux or heartburn from occurring. Fennel seeds contain a substance called anethole with a unique ability to suppress stomach spasms which are sometimes the cause of acid reflex. After a meal try chewing on toasted fennel seeds to ensure good digestion and to avoid heartburn.

If you suffer from acid reflux/heartburn for a long period, it’s important to consult your medical practitioner.


Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infections and Cystitis

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) (usually called cystitis in the UK)  is a painful reminder that when nature’s system of excreting liquid from our body goes awry, it makes everyone very uncomfortable.

UTIs happen when pathogens (usually E.coli bacteria) get into the urethra (the tube along which urine passes out of the body from the bladder). There are various ways this infection can occur, but whatever the cause the result is the same – pain and misery.

The bacteria attach to the walls of the urethra and bladder. Left untreated the infection may travel farther up the urinary system all the way to the kidneys, so it is very important to treat UTIs promptly.

Cranberry Juice:

BNA-5144For decades it has been well known that drinking cranberry juice is a surefire way to relieve UTI symptoms because sufferers have noticed that it works far better and more quickly than anything prescribed by conventional doctors.

Unsurprisingly, Big Pharma has fought back to protect their interests, publishing studies in the Journal of American Family Physicians in 2013 explaining that the connection between cranberry juice and relief from UTI is “tenuous at best”.

My advice is to try it for yourself. If you still need something else afterwards, here is another home remedy for UTI, though I’ve never tried it myself, as the cranberry works for me every time.

Quebra Pedra:

Quebra PedraThis is a remedy from the Amazon rainforest which has been used for generations to treat genito-urinary system disorders. It’s also helpful for stomach and kidney problems. Available in tea bags or capsules.

These Home Remedies for UTI, are for short term relief of the symptoms. If you get no relief in 48-72 hours, please consult your physician.


Natural Herbal Remedies for a Sore Throat

throat-ease

Check out these remedies for sore throat

The best sore throat remedy is speed.

I’m not talking about an illegal substance. What I mean is, as soon as you get the first little symptoms: that scratchy feeling in your throat, a slight soreness that’s barely noticeable, that is the best time to act.

Most sore throats (80%) are caused by a virus, and there isn’t much a doctor can do for you because antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them may give you diarrhea, and definitely screws up your “good” gut bacteria. This leaves you worse off than before you took the medication for no benefit.

Links for all the remedies mentioned are at the end of this post.

Act Fast

If you spring into action as soon as you realise you’re getting a sore throat, there’s a good chance you can knock it on the head before it really gets a hold. Home remedies for sore throat are definitely helpful, and if you act fast enough you may be able to avoid the pain altogether.

So, whether you’re taking early steps, or even if you have ignored or failed to notice your body warning you that the sore throat is on its way, the best treatment is probably a natural remedy.

Fastest acting: Garlic and honey

The fastest-acting natural remedy for a sore throat is garlic and honey. This may sound disgusting, but it works really fast. Crush a clove of garlic, chop it finely, then let it sit for 20 minutes, (the all-important allicin does not exist until two compounds held in separate cells of the garlic mix together and react), then mix it with an equal quantity of honey (Manuka honey if you’ve got it). Then eat the mixture. The honey takes away a lot of the bite of the garlic, but you can close your eyes if you want, or hold your nose! You can take this 3-4 times a day.

An alternative, if you can’t bear this idea (which after all, is probably no worse than a lot of proprietary medicines and much less likely to do you any harm), you can use my patent chicken soup recipe, which you will find here.

Soothing a sore throat that’s gone nasty

If your sore throat has reached its nasty stage, you may also want to try gargling with one of the following:

salt water (1 tsp salt dissolved in a cup of warm water),
apple cider vinegar and honey (1 tbsp of each stirred into a cup of hot water),
green tea (add honey if you like),
marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) infusion.

You might also like to suck some Manuka honey lozenges, or drink some throat relief tea (a mixture of cinnamon and marsh mallow).

If you’ve got an oil burner or electric diffuser you can use it with an essential oil such as cajuput, clary sage, Eucalyptus citriodora or Eucalyptus radiata to provide a soothing and antiseptic atmosphere.

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.

Keep hydrated, sleep as much as you can and if your sore throat is still bad after 2-3 days, consult your medical practitioner. But in most cases, using a combination of two or three of these remedies will do the trick and save you the visit.

Links

apple cider vinegar
honey
green tea
throat relief tea
cajuput essential oil
clary sage essential oil
Eucalyptus citriodora essential oil
Eucalyptus radiata essential oil


Constipation Remedies for Quick Relief and Long Term Control

trolls

Beat constipation the natural way

Although constipation is something people don’t generally talk about, and may even be the subject of humour, it’s no joke. Mild constipation is easily dealt with, but severe blockage (or faecal impaction) can be dangerous and if you can’t sort it out, will require urgent medical attention.

Links to all the recommended remedies are at the end.

If you’re suffering from acute severe constipation, you don’t have time to add enough fibre to deal with it in the long term (that’s for later), and you absolutely have to get rid of the blockage right now, or as quickly as possible, you need the type of constipation remedy called a purgative. Otherwise one of the milder remedies for constipation will most likely meet your needs.

Quick Fix

A purgative is a very strong laxative, suitable only for occasional use when the situation is serious. It will completely empty your bowels, and there may well be cramping pains as the process takes place. Stay near a toilet once you’ve taken these until you’re sure the problem has been completely eliminated! I recommend LAXPure Rapid capsules, but if you prefer a single herb, you might choose Aloe vera or Cascara Sagrada.

Milder Solutions

If you just want a good general laxative, there are a number of these, including Cassilax®, Cleansing Herbs, Cleansing Herb tablets, Col-Flush Ultra Capsules, Col-Flush Vegecaps, Consti-Cleanse Extreme Powder, Oxy Kalm Cleanser Vegecaps and Oxy Powder Capsules. If you prefer single herbs choose from liquorice root and Manna Fig Syrup.

Please note that whether you’re using a mild laxative or a stronger purgative, treatment should never be continued for longer than 7 days, and if the problem isn’t solved by then, you need to visit your doctor right away.

Long Term Control

The best way to deal with constipation is by avoidance. A diet that includes plenty of fibre (what they used to call roughage) will keep your elimination system working right. Lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains is the easiest way to achieve this; peas, beans, lentils and celery are particularly good sources of fibre.

If you don’t eat fruit and vegetables, you won’t just be missing out on the important fibre that keeps your digestive system in the best of health, but also essential nutrients that are difficult to get any other way.

Lack of fruit and veg is also linked to some types of cancer, so it’s best to make sure to eat plenty on a regular basis. Laxatives may relieve the situation in the short term, but, like any other medication resorted to for long periods, their effect will gradually reduce, leaving you back where you started, but without a solution. There are also other health implications resulting from overuse of laxatives.

Clay_SoilIf you’ve ever had to garden on clay, you’ll know how hard it gets. The solution is to add fibrous humous, which over time turns it into more usable soil. The same sort of thing happens in the gut when you eat more fibre, only thankfully the process is a lot quicker. An alternative for people who can’t eat fruit and vegetables is to add fibre in some other form. Traditionally this would probably have been wheat bran, but psyllium husks, chia seeds and baobab powder are more recent introductions.

For each 100g, wheat bran provides 15g fibre, chia seeds 34g, baobab powder 47g, and psyllium husks 67g soluble and 33g insoluble fibre! The fibre helps to absorb excess liquid and also bulks out the stool, making it softer and easier to eliminate.

It’s important to drink plenty of water along with any fibre supplement. For example, you might take 1-2 tsp psyllium husks stirred into a large glass of water once or twice a day (you can also mix it into a smoothie or other drink). If you have an ongoing problem with constipation, it’s a good idea to start off with about half the maximum dose, and reduce or increase it until you find the right level for you.

Keep your fibre levels high and you need never worry about constipation ever again.

LINKS
Quick Fix

LAXPure Rapid Capsules
Aloe Vera Juice (Unflavoured)
Cascara Sagrada capsules

Milder Solutions

*Cassilax®
Cleansing Herbs, *Cleansing Herb tablets
Col-Flush VegecapsCol-Flush Ultra Capsules
Consti-Cleanse Extreme Powder
Oxy Kalm Cleanser Vegecaps
Oxy Powder Capsules
various Liquorice products
Manna Fig Syrup, Organic

*These products cannot be supplied to customers in the USA.

Long Term Control

Baobab powder
Chia seeds
Psyllium

 


The best cough remedies for chesty and tickly coughs

iStock_000014187057Small

Soothe your cough with a natural remedy

There are many potential causes for coughing, so the first step is to find out exactly what is causing it. For example, coughs can result from allergy, asthma, acid reflux, overly-dry air, and smoke or other air pollution (including self-inflicted smoke from cigarettes).

Assuming that none of these causes are present (or there’s been no change), but you have started to cough a lot recently, then it’s likely that you have a chest infection of some kind, either viral (most likely) or bacterial.

The type of cough you are experiencing also affects the cough remedies you can choose from. Dry, tickly coughs (sometimes called hacking coughs) are the type that are most likely to wake you up at night – along with your partner if they’re a light sleeper.

Productive, phlegmy or chesty coughs are less annoying, but probably more unpleasant to deal with. On the other hand, at least once you’ve expelled the phlegm, the coughing tends to stop, so you’re more likely to be able to sleep and avoid disturbing other family members.

Links to all the recommended remedies are at the bottom of the post.

1. Stay hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated, so the first thing I would recommend is that you drink lots of herbal tea. There are a variety of herb teas to choose from. The best for a dry cough is probably liquorice or marsh mallow (the herb, not the candy!), and for a chesty cough black pepper or ginger tea is great. Add honey, which is healing in its own right besides making the flavours a bit less in your face.

2. Steam inhalation

A steam inhalation is a great help when dealing with coughs and similar respiratory conditions. You need a big flat bowl of very hot water and a towel to cover your head. Add essential oil of your choice from this selection:

For a dry cough choose from bay laurel, cypress, ginger and peppermint,
or for a chesty cough select from bergamot, cedarwood Virginian, Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum), marjoram sweet or myrrh.

Just put a few drops of the oil into the hot water, then lean over it and use the towel to enclose your head and the bowl in the steam. This is an old remedy, but it still works just as well.

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.

3. Turmeric

You can also make a home remedy for your cough: a mixture of turmeric powder and honey is a powerful healer. Another turmeric based Indian remedy called Haldi doodh is made by stirring half a teaspoon of turmeric powder into a glass of hot milk. Drink it while it’s still warm.

4. Suck on a cough drop

I recommend Manuka honey lozenges or other natural cough sweets. Go for sweets which contain menthol if buying from a local store. Avoid the ones that are sugar free because, apart from the fact that most sugar substitutes are based on chemicals which can be harmful, you also miss out on the natural volatility of sugar or honey which helps to relieve congestion and soothe your throat.

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.

These simple remedies for coughs will help you get back on top much quicker than you expect. But remember, if any condition persists for more than a few days, or worsens to the extent that you become at all worried, it’s time to take a trip to your doctor’s surgery.

Links

turmeric
honey

Dry Cough

liquorice products
bay laurel essential oil
cypress essential oil
ginger essential oil
peppermint essential oil

Chesty Cough

black pepper
ginger
bergamot essential oil
cedarwood Virginian essential oil
Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum) essential oil
marjoram sweet essential oil
myrrh essential oil


Herbal Remedies for Eczema

Herbal Remedies

Eczema is unsightly and can be painful

Eczema is a common skin disorder that affects adults as well as children. According to the latest research, this skin disorder affects an estimated one in five children, and one in 12 adults in the UK.There is no single cause for eczema but your genes are one of the most important factors. Although there are plenty of conventional medications available to alleviate eczema, many people prefer to use natural remedies, which are usually gentler and frequently more effective as well.

Why should you use herbal remedies to treat eczema?

The use of herbal medication for eczema isn’t something new. Herbs have been widely used for years to address a number of skin ailments, including eczema. The herbs used vary, depending on the severity of the case. Please be advised though that single-herb remedies are probably only suitable for mild to moderate cases.Remember, everybody’s body chemistry is slightly different, so we all reach differently to different things. Always do a patch test on a small area of skin like the inside of the elbow and leave for 24 hours before using a new remedy on a larger area.If you find that your symptoms are getting worse with a particular remedy, discontinue use and allow the skin to rest for at least 48 hours before trying anything else. If improvement doesn’t occur, consult your GP.

Herbal remedies for eczema

Here are some single-herb remedies you can try for mild eczema:

Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)

coconutIf you are not allergic to coconut, try coconut oil. Rub coconut oil onto the affected areas and let it dry. You can apply it before going to bed and leave on overnight.Coconut oil has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It contains caprylic acid, capric acid and vitamin E and K that help to prevent itching, flaking and inflammation and prevents your skin from drying out.

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

chamomileGerman chamomile (Matricaria recutita) soothes dry skin. It contains bisabolol or alpha-bisabolol – a natural alcohol – that helps ease irritation and inflammation. German chamomile has strong anti-microbial properties that may ward off germs. The best way to use German chamomile is to add a few drops of German chamomile essential oil to a bath and have a good soak.

Aloe vera

aloe-veraKnown as the wonder plant, Aloe vera is used to treat eczema, and to heal scars, burns and wrinkles. Aloe vera is often included in creams and ointments, or can be used just on its own.This succulent plant contains 75 different components which include vitamins A, C and F, amino acids, minerals, zinc, magnesium, enzymes and more. Aloe vera also contains a vital enzyme known as carboxy-peptidase, which has an anti-inflammatory effect.Although these single herb solutions may be effective, there are a number of professionally formulated herbal remedies for eczema which are likely to be more effective, in particular if you’ve been suffering from eczema for a long time without getting any relief from the usual prescribed medication. I offer a number of these in my shop in the Remedies section (or just search for eczema).Herbal remedies are often an effective solution to reduce or treat eczema. Alongside skin treatment, you also need to take care of your diet. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and try to get a balanced diet. If you don’t like fruit and veg, you can use fruit and vegetable powders to hide the nutrients and fibre you’re missing in your normal food or in smoothies and juices.


5 Herbal Remedies That Really Work

Nature has bestowed humans with unlimited treasures, including traditional herbs. Herbs offer effective solutions to common ailments. They are also generally safer as compared to conventional medicines.

From Aloe vera to peppermint, here are 5 herbal wonders that really work:

Aloe Vera

Cross section of Aloe vera leaf

Cross section of Aloe vera leaf

Aloe vera contains more than 75 active healing ingredients, including enzymes, salicylic acid, lignin, saponins, and amino acids. It also has essential antioxidant vitamins A, C, and beta-carotene (Vitamin A) as well as folic acid.

Most people use Aloe vera gel for cosmetic use. It may be used to treat sunburn, acne marks and restore lost skin elasticity.

It is a natural moisturiser for dry and damaged hair. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, it helps keep your hair smooth and healthy. Due to Aloe vera’s antiseptic and antibacterial properties, it also helps rid the scalp of dandruff.

Check out the range of Aloe vera products in my online shop.

Aside from the plant’s cosmetic and beauty applications, aloe vera contains strong anti-inflammatory components. Some people recommend its juice as a digestive aid, but I advise caution: it’s a very strong purgative, which is fine, so long as you stay near a bathroom for the next few hours.

Turmeric

Turmeric

Turmeric is a well known spice

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a well-known spice that improves the flavour of dishes. It’s also an antioxidant and has proven medicinal value.

Turmeric contains antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory molecules called curcumin, which makes it particularly useful to arthritis patients.

If you have a cold, you can eat a teaspoon of honey mixed with turmeric powder to help drive it away.

Be careful to buy good quality turmeric, as some of the cheaper types are bulked out with other ingredients that at best aren’t medicinally active and at worst may be actively dangerous in medicinal quantities.

There is also a turmeric essential oil which is mainly used tor skin conditions, stress and fatigue.

I offer a range of turmeric products including supplements in my online shop.

Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek (methi) seeds

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an Asian herb. It has been used for decades to address blood pressure and appetite issues.

Studies have found that consuming 2 ounces of fenugreek seed each day can reduce cholesterol levels.

It contains high antioxidant levels, but is mainly used for period pains, indigestion, for bronchitis and as a gargle for sore throat. Make a decoction using 4 teaspoonfuls seeds soaked overnight in 2 cups of cold water, then boil for one minute and strain off the seeds. You can take up to 2 cups a day of this.

I offer fenugreek, loose and in capsules in my online shop.

 Peppermint

Peppermint

Peppermint is a useful herb

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita officinalis) contains phyto-nutrients that fight diseases. This herb has strong anti-oxidant properties. It also contains important oils such as menthone, menthol and menthol acetate.

Peppermint helps alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn. For indigestion, griping pains or symptoms of IBS, have a cup of peppermint infusion (use 1-2 teaspoons dried herb to a cup of water, brew for at least 10 minutes, then strain off the herb and drink hot or cold).

In aromatherapy, the oil is sometimes used to relieve tension headaches.

As with all essential oils, peppermint essential oil should never 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 offer a range of peppermint herb products in my online shop.

Lavender

Lavender

There’s much more to lavender than just scent

Aside from its enchanting aroma, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) also offers optimal health benefits. A lavender infusion made in the same way as described under peppermint is helpful for anxiety and depression. You can drink up to 1 cup a day, usually split into 3 doses.

Lavender exudes a soothing smell that calms down an anxious mind and helps you sleep. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil or some lavender flowers in a cotton bag to your bath to de-stress after a long day. Lavender is also used in creams to treat skin conditions like acne.

You’ll find a wide range of lavender-based products in my online shop.

These five herbs offer optimal health benefits. You may find some of them in your garden. But, if you are looking for something extra, make sure to check out Frann’s Alt.Health Shop.


Find an Alternative: Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy

Child fever

A compress can be very helpful for a thumping head

Traditionally, people who suffer illness have widely resorted to alternative medications to find relief. In fact, until the early part of the 20th century, what we now call alternative medicine was the only type of medicine there was.

The term alternative medicine is generally used to describe practices used in place of so-called conventional medicine. It embraces therapies with a historical, traditional or cultural background as well as those based on more recent discoveries. It does not usually completely conform to conventional medicine practice, in particular because it does not rely on drugs which are potentially dangerous, whether in themselves or because of unexpected side effects.

There are several different branches of alternative medicine:

  • Herbal medicine also known as botanical medicine or herbology is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. A great number of people have been resorting to the use of herbal medicine instead prescription drugs. This is because most synthetically produced drugs have such adverse effects that patients often suffer more discomfort than the original ailment. The use of herbal medicine has minuscule side effects compared to highly processed medications.
  • Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from certain plants for healing. These oils are usually diluted in a carrier oil which is then used for massage, as they are extremely strong and may cause problems when used undilute. Other methods include using the oils in an essential oil diffuser (commonly called an oil burner), a method which is often used for respiratory complaints, for example. Contrary to popular belief, they have far more applications than the generally known mood and psychological purposes, not least of which is for skin conditions, muscle pain, rheumatism and similar ailments. However, no matter what you may read elsewhere, it is never safe to swallow essential oils. 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.

  • Homeopathy is based on the writings of Samuel Hahnemann, who discovered the method in the late eighteenth century. He was a very successful physician at the time, and survived to reach the age of 88 years – an amazing age in those days, so he must have been doing something right. However, most modern research appears to indicate that most homeopathic remedies are little more than nostrums.
  • Bach flower remedies were developed by Dr Edward Bach in the 1930s. They are primarily used for emotional and spiritual disorders. One of his remedies which is often recommended for shock is Rescue Remedy. This is a mixture of several of his primary plant remedies.

Although some authorities are skeptical about the use of alternative herbal medicine, they cannot deny that plants are very potent sources of medicinal compounds. Many of the products now used by conventional medicine are actually derived from plants, although they are now produced artificially, rather than by extraction from the original source. In fact, over a hundred plant compounds are being used to produce pharmaceutical drugs. For thousands of years herbal medicines have been used to treat people’s conditions prior to the advent of modern medicine. Our progenitors have proven them effective.

Many still doubt effectiveness of alternative herbal medicine due to discouragement they receive from their physicians. This is not surprising because physicians have a vested interested in selling their own medications, rather than approve of your choice to go herbal. Many herbal medicines are much cheaper than prescription ones though there are those which will cost you a fair bit. But even if you end up spending more, you’ll get fewer side effects and that weighs heavily in my view.