Action on Eczema

October 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Skincare

Eczema-baby

Well in case you missed it, September held  National Eczema Week and I have a number of suggestions for anyone suffering from this distressing condition.

First you are definitely not alone as currently one in five children and one in twelve adults in the UK are affected. The National Eczema Society is offering a free booklet to help patients and carers cope with one of the most distressing symptoms of eczema – the itch. Normally there is a charge for this, unless you are a member, but until 31 October you can get your free copy by emailing helpline@eczema.org or call the very useful National Eczema Society helpline on 0800 089 1122.

Why me?

Bottom line is that skin affected by eczema releases chemicals which stimulate the nerves and the nerves pass the itch sensation to the brain, and so you scratch and make everything worse. But the itching drives you so mad you are prepared to put up with it for the temporary relief.

Much eczema is stress and environment related and for children in particular, tiredness can make it worse. Soaps and detergents, fragrances, temperature changes, sweating, some clothing , such as wool, and irritant substances such as paint and dyes can all add to the mix so finding out what triggers your eczema would be the first step.

Keeping the skin well moisturised is the next step and your doctor may prescribe a steroid cream as these are anti-inflammatory and work well in the short term for some people. However, nothing works for everyone, and steroids do have unpleasant side effects associated with them, particularly with long term use.

Whether your eczema is persistent, or intermittent, you might want to try one of these natural remedies that have proven to be effective.

Natural help

There are several ways you can help yourself with an outbreak of eczema. Essential oils have shown they have the potential to be very effective at clearing up or relieving the symptoms of eczema.

Peppermint is especially effective at relieving the itching that accompanies this skin disorder. To get the most relief simply rub a drop of diluted peppermint oil over the affected area.

Tea Tree Oil is very popular due to its ability to clear up eczema patches, relieve the accompanying itch, and reduce the redness and swelling that results from an outbreak. This oil can be applied topically to the skin, or it can be used as a cleanser, lotion, or cream when purchased as the active ingredient in these items.

Oatmeal can help relieve the constant itching, reduce some of the redness, and help soften the dry skin of eczema. Using it in a bath is quite effective; just tie a handful of natural oatmeal into a piece of cheesecloth and let it circulate in the warm bath water. Soak awhile and DO NOT add anything else, no soap or bath oils.

Aloe vera was used on the skin of burn victims at Hiroshima and has a great reputation as a healing balm for damaged skin. You can either break off a leaf from the plant and squeeze out the gel to put on your skin, and it is a good to use on the affected areas directly after an oatmeal bath.

Ayudara Natural Skin Balm is a new product that I have been trying out on a patch of eczema that has been quite persistent on the side of my nose. It is a non-steroid all natural treatment for dry skin and contains a combination of Chlorophyll-C and marine extract of golden sea cucumber These actively helps the skin’s cell rejuvenation process and can be an effective treatment for ailments like eczema, dermatitis or dry skin.

In Malaysia people have used golden sea cucumber in natural skin remedies for centuries and it certainly cleared up my small patch of irritated skin very fast.

For specialized information on eczema, do have a look at this website at www.eczema.org for helpful advice and the newest research.

Spotless at last

July 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Skincare

Elaine Mummery has become an acne specialist through her own suffering which began at the age of 13 and she has explored every available avenue to getting a clear and healthy complexion. Spots don’t just happen to teenagers, they can also be a problem throughout life, particularly for women during menopause. Her excellent, clear, book offers real practical solutions and is sourced from doctors all around the world. She is adamant that you don’t need to invest in expensive creams and lotions to cure your skin, but you do need information to start tackling acne and spots, whether it’s a lifelong problem or an occasional flare up. An ideal present for anyone who wants to see visibly clearer skin within seven days, so head to your bookstore – real or virtual – and buy a copy of Spotless for just £10.

Or visit Amazon – Click on the book cover here:

Steady on the perfume or aftershave spray!

December 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Lifestyle, Skincare, Strange But True

To my mind, perfume adds a great deal of pleasure to life – but like most things a little moderation is not a bad idea – and the fact I have one for each day of the week seems pretty moderate to me. However, we have probably all suffered in the proximity of someone who has overdone it and extends the wearing of it to everyone in a 6 foot radius. I was working in London at the time Christian Dior launched his perfume Poison, and my daily journey up the escalator at Green Park was an exercise in holding my breath and trying not to feel faint at the overpowering waves it that surrounded me.

It’s not pleasant for the passive receiver, but it may actually legally constitute at health hazard – it has just been found guilty in the USA and a case is going forward as we speak. A Judge in Detroit heard a case where city planner Susan McBride alleged that perfume from a co-worker was so overwhelming she couldn’t breathe properly. This she claims created a hazardous work environment and actually prevented her from working properly.

The city council went to court to have the claim dismissed, but the Judge agreed with McBride that her breathing difficulties had a legitimate basis and so qualified for protection under federal laws that protect the disabled from workplace discrimination. I don’t know what the court case is based on, but certainly synthetic perfume chemicals have been linked to asthma, infertility and cancer. Because they are applied directly to the skin they are absorbed into the bloodstream and then have to be processed by the liver, where they can do damage.

We are already exposed to a number of toxic chemicals in our everyday environment from air fresheners to hairspray, and the day might come when perfume in the workplace might be banned on health grounds in the same way that smoking was. You might also wonder why it went to court and they didn’t just have a quiet word with the offender, but maybe – as is often the case when wearing perfume – she (or perhaps he for all I know) was just immune to the smell and kept putting on more.

If you want to be sure you are not poisoning the atmosphere, what about switching to natural perfumes with no nasty chemicals?

Tsi~La (pronounced chee-la), is a collection of delicate, sophisticated, 100% natural perfumes with no alcohol, preservatives, artificial fragrances or colourings. Just pure, natural perfumes made from the world’s finest essential oils and plant botanicals, and if you were wondering, the name means “flower” in Cherokee.

You have a choice of six different and distinctive scents, you just have to decide which is the most appropriate – though for most women buying at least two for our varying moods would be a good idea. You will know what will suit them best: Fiori d’Arancio (flirtatious), Fleur Sauvage (alluring), Ilang Ilang (exotic), Kesu (mysterious), Kizes (spontaneous) and Saqui (sensual). Personally, as a woman of many and diverse moods, I am asking Santa for the Tsi-La mini collection because a) I get four of them, and b) they come in a handy roll on so no spillage in the dark cavernous recesses of my handbag. To have a look at these, and other wonderful natural fragrances, visit www.puresha.com

Mobile phones, skin rashes and tumours

I know I have flagged up plenty of potential problems with the over use of mobile phones, but there are two new developments here. First, the minor one, and according to the British Association of Dermatologists, mobile phones are causing an outbreak of facial rashes, particularly to the cheek and ear where you normally hold the phone. It’s due to the nickel coating on the casing and buttons and is the result of an allergy to the nickel.

You may have already been aware of this effect, particularly if you go in for cheaper and more ‘fun’ jewellery, because nickel is the most common contact allergy in Britain, affecting 30% of the population.

Now it won’t damage your health, but a skin rash can be very irritating and upsetting so if you have noticed this yourself then just hang up your mobile for a few days and see if the rash goes away. A natural remedy is to try bathing the irritation in a mixture of one part vinegar to 15 parts water, and dab it on the affected area. It’s something my mother used on me as a child for sunburn, and it seems to help clear up many skin irritations.

Now for the more serious problem and it comes from a report in the latest issue of the American Journal of Epidemilogy. An Israeli study of more than 500 people has revealed that you could be 50% more likely to develop a tumour in your salivary gland if you constantly use your mobile phone. They studied people who had developed this condition and then compared their mobile phone habits with those of a group of 1,300 healthy people.

The Doctor in charge of the study said that it was ‘preliminary’, but he also said that until more evidence became available, a “precautionary” approach was best, particularly when it comes to children’s use of mobile phones. I couldn’t agree more, and as so many people now spend their working day constantly on their mobile, without using a land line at all, it’s worth considering having at least one ‘mobile-free’ day a week. Sunday might be good, after all it wasn’t called a ‘day of rest’ for nothing.

Natural options for childhood eczema

Eczema is a distressing condition, for the child and for the parents as it is a constant, visible, reminder of something that’s wrong in the body. Eczema is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is said to be due to delayed development of the immune system. It can affect 10-20% of all infants, and steroid treatment is often suggested. However, there are many harmful side effects, both short and long-term, associated with steroids and these are just a few of them:

** Corticosteroids mimic hormones produced by the adrenal glands and they interfere with the metabolic balance. This results in knock-on effects throughout the body and the damage is cumulative.

** They are anti-inflammatory and can suppress many symptoms, including pain and eczema. However, they also affect our fight-or-flight response and thus alter our blood flow. This can be positive in the right circumstances, but on a long term basis redirecting blood away from digestion towards the heart, lungs, and limbs means blood is less available to absorb nutrients. A lack of nutrition leads to conditions like osteoporosis developing.

** Nearly all the diseases and conditions on the list of steroid side effects can be explained by the disruption of the body’s hormone system.

** Others, such as liver damage, are the result of the excess stress placed on the organ as it attempts to detoxify the harmful substance from the body.

It is no wonder that so many parents turn to alternative medicine. But how effective is it?

Complementary Therapies in Medicine is a peer-reviewed journal that recently reported a German study showing that homeopathy has better results than steroids for eczema. The study’s focus was on patients’ and doctors’ perceptions of improvement, both in terms of the eczema itself and quality of life over a one year period. The participants were patients aged 1-16 year-olds with eczema, and those that were treated with homeopathy had equal or better results than those treated with corticosteroids. Further, that those children whose conditions were worse at the beginning of the study had greater degrees of improvement with the homeopathic treatment.

Questionnaires were filled out by doctors and their patients, or when necessary, by their parents at the beginning of the study, at six months, and again at 12 months. The study focused on subjective results, not clinical tests, because although clinical tests may show differences in children with eczema and asthma in a biomarker like immunoglobulin E, it doesn’t have any bearing on the patient’s well-being.

Homoeopathy is a standard practice among doctors in both Germany and France, and often included in their medical training. Two groups of patients were studied, one who only had homeopathic treatment and the other who only received conventional medical treatment. The children treated with homeopathy started with worse symptoms than the control group and both groups showed significant improvements over 12 months. Here are the percentages of improvement reported by patients and their doctors after 12 months, and interesting the patients rated their improvement at lower levels than their doctors did.

Self Assessment Improvement:

* Homeopathy, 27% * Conventional, 38%

Doctor’s Assessment of Improvement:

* Homeopathy, 91% * Conventional, 75%

The study also bore out previous research which indicated that people with a higher educational level are more likely to opt for alternative treatments such as homeopathy. 64% of the homeopathic parents’ had almost double to the level of education than the parents who opted for the conventional medical option.

A natural face lift

September 30, 2008 by  
Filed under At Home, Health, Healthy Ageing, Skincare

In keeping with helping you avoid the surgeon’s knife, I thought I would remind you that there is an alternative to botox, chemical peels and the trauma of a surgical face lift if you want to go the DIY route to preserve your looks – or even enhance them if you are lucky. Of course it won’t cost you as much – in fact it’s free – but it does require some of your time. This entirely natural facelift will improve circulation, eliminate toxins and reduce stress and tension so you will lookmore relaxed, and the skin will be smoother with more radiance and that helps you look younger.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
You are going to stimulate the acupressure points on the energy meridians of your face by using your fingers to apply firm pressure to each point and the whole thing shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. To eliminate crows’ feet and tone the eye area:

Place your middle fingers on the inside edges of your eyebrows. Apply light pressure going along your eyebrow, round to under the eye, pressing your fingers on the top of your cheekbones. Then continue to the inside corners of your eyes. Repeat in a circular motion around the eyes 30 times.

To soften fine linesand wrinkles around the eyes:

Put your fingers on the outside end of each eyebrow, then trace down until they are parallel with the centre of your eye. Lightly touch these points for three seconds, then release. Repeat 30 times. Now do the same for the points directly under your pupil on the top edge of your cheekbone.

There are also some other points to rejuvenate the rest of your face: For each of these points, again lightly touch them for three seconds and release, repeating 30 times.

* Either side of each nostril, on the face not the nose itself.

* The point between your top lip and nose, and the point between your bottom lip and tip of the chin. Touch both of these at the same time using your index and ring finger.

* Put your finger directly between your eyebrows, then trace up until just before you reach the slight bump in your forehead, about midway to your hairline. Massage this point gently with a circular motion to release tension. It might help to do these actions facing a mirror for the first few times so you can be sure you are pressing in the right place. Ten minutes a day, every day, and you should see results within a few weeks. No before and after photos please, I will be happy to just take your word for it!

Natural baby products

As you saw in last week’s item about shampoo, products for babies and children are not always as pure as we imagine them to be. If you do want to have an entirely natural, organic range of products then specialist online company Bebeco would be a good place to look.

They produce a nappy balm that is super sensitive on baby’s skin and contains only organic sunflower oil, cocoa butter, carrot oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and local beeswax. If your baby has a real problem with dry skin and eczema, then their problem skin cream helps soothe it with all-natural ingredients of organic sunflower oil, organic calendula petals, local beeswax, and lavender essential oil. If cradle cap is the problem then try their treatment oil with organic jojoba oil, organic calendula, marshmallow root, and almond oil. It also makes a lovely massage oil for baby, and presumably Mum too. www.bebeco.co.uk for details.

Oh, and by the way, on the subject of babies, it has always been know that breastfeeding gives much greater protection against infection and helps build the immune system, but now it turns out there is another good reason to keep off the bottle where possible.

A massive survey carried out by doctors of 13,889 children and their mothers has revealed that breastfed babies are more intelligent than those weaned on formula milk.

Of those mothers, around half had attended clinics promoting breastfeeding and 43% of them fed their babies only on breast milk until the age of three months, compared with 6.4% of women at other clinics that didn’t promote breastfeeding. At the age of six and a half, children who had been exclusively breastfed scored 7.5 points higher in verbal intelligence tests and 5.9 points higher in overall IQ tests.

As a significant number of babies are actually allergic to cow’s milk, this is another reason to add to the file of pluses for breastfeeding, where that is possible for mother and baby.

A delicate topic for a delicate area

June 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Sexual Health, Skincare, Wellness

Assuming that you are like the majority of us, you get into the shower or bath and go to it with the soap or shower gel over your entire body. What you may not know is that many natural practitioners advise against using soap in the genital area because it can cause you problems. Soap should not be used to clean these ‘no-go areas’; the vaginal opening, the tip of the penis, and the anal sphincter. Why not? Because regularly applying soap to these areas can cause the mucosal lining to become dry and unhealthy and that in turn can lead to a number of uncomfortable health conditions. The two most common ones are chronic inflammation and a greater tendency to experience infections.

So please keep the soap away from those delicate openings and use it sparingly on the rest of your body. Nature has already rather cleverly designed your skin so that it is lined with sebaceous glands that secrete an oily substance called sebum, which is what keeps your skin waterproof and resistant to infection by undesirable microorganisms. It’s sebum that prevents soap from drying out skin to a point where significant health challenges can arise, but the mucosal linings of the genital and anal area don’t secrete sebum so they don’t offer the same offer the same protection against the drying effects of soap. So am I suggesting you don’t wash those areas at all? Certainly not, but just stick to using warm or hot water – the continental use of a bidet has a lot to recommend it. You may never have experienced any problems with using soap, but if someone is particularly sensitive to infection or inflammation then it is advice worth passing on.

Broccoli juice as sunscreen?

May 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Skincare

As my friends will testify, vegetables and I are not on very intimate terms and broccoli is something I avoid at all costs. But I may change my mind because of it’s newly discovered potential as a sunscreen. Apparently an extract made from broccoli boosts the body’s natural ability to defend against the sun’s ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer. According to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the USA, an extract of broccoli sprouts contains high levels of sulforaphane and gives substantial protection. Co-leader of the study, Paul Talalay, first discovered in 1992 that broccoli is rich in a naturally occurring plant compound called sulforaphane. While all cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard, turnip, radish and watercress) contain it to a certain degree, the concentration is highest in three-day-old sprouts of the broccoli plant.

Sulforaphane has the effect of activating cells’ production of what are known as “phase 2 enzymes.” One such enzyme, glutathione S-transferase, has been shown to neutralize the DNA-damaging compounds produced by the skin produces when struck by ultraviolet radiation. It also appears to reduce inflammation, which can cause precancerous growths to transform into full-blown cancerous tumors. Only a very small (6 person) trial has been done on this but they are enthusiastic about developing a new sunscreen product as many of the commercial products contain chemicals that are themselves potentially carcinogenic. However, unless they can get broccoli juice to smell more pleasant (I may not eat many vegetables but I do juice them) it will be no competition to my preferred choice which is the all-natural organic sun range from Annemarie Borlind.

Beauty Queen – Naturally, with free samples

May 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Skincare, Womens Health

I must declare an interest here, I have been using the natural skincare range from German organic company Annemarie Borlind for many years and have never found anything better. They are free of every single irritating ingredient, wholly natural and – best of all – incredibly effective. I just got information from them about their new suncare range, which I highly recommend, particularly for the dynamic duo of very effective sun protection and incredible skin care no matter how sensitive your skin is.

However, that is not what I wanted to tell you about. They have reformulated their cosmetic range and it is amazing, nothing ‘worthy’ about it, this is glamour all the way. In fact, it is so good they are offering you the chance to try it free. You will get a tester containing generous amounts of two shades of their fluid foundation, two flattering lip colours and a lip brush.

And the beauty queen bit? No I didn’t make it up, but at the 2008 Miss Germany final professional makeup artists from the famous Face Academy made up the 22 contestants with the new Natural Caring colours from Annemarie Borlind. The eventual winner, Kim Valerie Voight, looked radiant even when surrounded by photographers, journalists, television and radio teams.

It showed that natural beauty cosmetics can cope with a high pressure, glamorous event, as well as being the perfect everyday makeup for the rest of us leading less exalted lives! All their products have dermatologically confirmed skin compatibility, so grab your chance to look at your best, for free.

Contact Jane Moore at Simply Nature, the importers of AnneMarie Borlind in the UK, by emailing her at jane@simply-nature.co.uk or visit the website for more information

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