Let Me Take You by the (just washed) Hand …
Having spent virtually all of my working life in the natural products industry, it has never ceased to amaze me how that even with all the research and science we now have to back the ingredients and products we use, it is still classed as some sort of witchcraft or akin to a snake oil salesman. Just the other day, someone was being interviewed about the Corona virus outbreak and commented ‘don’t bother with all those silly health food things,’ another admitted that she had heard some good things about natural products, but that ‘you should really go to your GP.’ Which is great except for the fact the GP doesn’t want you anywhere near the surgery.
So, come with me and take a virtual stroll around a health food store and consider some of the things you might find there and how they can help you in your bid for wellness. When you have read it, Google ‘health food stores near me,’ and take a trip to your nearest one to get some sensible advice and solutions.
It seems that everywhere you look at the moment, you are exposed to worrying news about the spread of illness and disease. Does it make you think that maybe you need to live inside some sort of sanitised bubble and not come out until it is all over? A lot of people are telling me that they are almost afraid to step outside their front door and the stress and worry of the risk of ‘catching something’ is really getting them down.
It can be very stressful when you have families away from home, especially if they are abroad, or have children at university where you can be pretty sure they are probably not eating the best of diets. It is easy to let the fear of something overtake the actual reality, we end up feeling ill from stress, anxiety and lack of sleep more than actually having a virus. This article in Psychology Today US suggests that the our heads are being affected more than our brains.
Let’s Look at Wellness, not Illness.
I am not dismissing the risks and effects of the illness, but it is important to get the figures in perspective. It is more important to consider the at-risk groups and ensure we are supporting them by being aware of early symptoms and treating accordingly. What is important is that when you look at statistics that say there is a 1% chance of dying from something, you have a 99% chance of not!
So much of keeping well is based around simple ideas and common sense. Yes, everyone from the Prime Minister down is telling us how to wash our hands, but it genuinely is one of the easiest and most effective ways to combat the transference of viruses and bacteria. You really don’t have to sing Happy Birthday out loud as you wash, but it gives you a good idea of the length of time you should be taking to wash your hands thoroughly. It is also a great way to get children engaged in handwashing.
If you fancy singing something different, CNN have created a list of a songs from each decade, from Elivis to Lizzo
Look for a handwash that is produced to BSEN1276 Standards as this has been tested against a broad spectrum of contaminants including neutralises 99.9% of harmful bacteria including E.coli, Salmonella and MRSA. Bio D Handwash is great, not only has it been fully tested, it comes in gorgeous fragrances and is eco-friendly too. I agree that the current concern is viruses and not bacteria, but clean hands are the key.
If you have sensitive skin, use a gentle soap such as an olive oil based one to keep skin soft Olivio Olive Oil Soap is made with a very high quality oil, in fact it is the same one they use in their Hellenic Olive Oil. (Bird friendly harvesting too!)
Of course, it is important to dry the hands properly and dispose of any paper towels. Wet hands, especially if a bit warm are a perfect breeding ground for bugs.
Hand sanitisers are rapidly disappearing off the shelves, some are so astringent that you end up with very dry and irritated hands. Some of them are not that effective, so look at what you are buying. Have you thought about making your own? You can control the ingredients and have a ready supply all the time. It is easy to purchase small plastic bottles or glass jars to store it in.
A simple recipe is based on Aloe Vera Gel. Buy a good one without a load of unwanted ingredients, Lifeplan Pure Aloe Gel is 99% aloe vera gel and makes a perfect base.
4 tablespoons of Aloe Vera Gel
1 tablespoon of Cider Vinegar. Comvita is a good one. (Or use Vodka or other 90+% alcohol.)
10 drops of Tea Tree Oil, Thursday Plantation is Autralia’s no 1 selling Tea Tree Oil.
10 drops of Lavender and 10 drops of Eucalyptus.
Absolute Aromas have some great quality oils.
Mix it up store in a jar or bottle – make sure you clean that out first!
Use as needed, the great thing about making your own is that you can make a fresh batch every week and know all the ingredients are still active. Clean the storage container out before adding a new batch though!
It’s not just your hands, think about using shampoos and body washes with essential oils such as Tea Tree and Lavender to keep the rest of your skin and hair clean.
It seems mad that we are being shown how to use a tissue to catch a sneeze, but it seems that wither people really do not know how to do it or maybe the authorities think we don’t know. Isn’t it common sense? Maybe not, so bear this in mind when you are close to someone that didn’t pack a tissue … a sneeze can travel at speeds of up to 100mph, the germs can travel around 75 feet. The average bus is 62 feet … Get the hand sanitiser out and wash your hands asap, if you are close to the sneezer. Maybe a quick squirt of an aromatherapy room spray such as Absolute Aromas’ Lavender or Prevention Spray to clear the air.
The key thing about keeping your hands clean is nothing to do with the germs entering the body from the hands, it is the fact they stay alive long enough for you to touch your face, particularly the eyes and from there, they have a free ride into the lovely warm and moist environment of your mucous membranes. From there, they can happily grow away and start getting to work.
Quick tip: give surfaces where there is lots of human contact a quick and regular squirt with an all purpose antibacterial cleaner. If you are looking for eco and allergy friendly ones, try Bio D Multi-surface Sanitiser.
Healthy from the inside out.
How many times do you hear ‘you are what you eat’? It is more a case of you are what you digest and a healthy diet, as boring as that sounds to some, is a vital way to keep yourself well. It doesn’t have to be difficult, a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, oily fish, if you eat meet try and get organic and include extras such as fermented food like sauerkraut and kimchi.
Keep hydrated, not with tea and coffee, but with water or herbal teas. Use warming teas such as ginger, turmeric and peppermint. Heath and Heather and Clipper both have superb ranges that offer high quality teas. If you are not sleeping because of worrying about keeping well, try a chamomile tea to help you relax. A hydrated system fights of bugs far better than a dehydrated one.
Food Supplements, Yay or Nay?
Certain nutrients are known to be needed for proper functioning of the immune system, especially Vitamin C and the mineral Zinc. Both of these play an important role in keeping the immune system working well. They are safe to take long term and ideal if you are working anywhere that there are lots of people. Shops, offices, public transport, schools etc.
Vitamin A is needed to keep mucous membranes healthy; Vitamin D is needed for proper function of the immune system too. You can take supplements separately or look for a good strength multivitamin and mineral. If you feel you want something to specifically target the throat area, Lifeplan Honey C has Manuka Honey and Vitamin C in, great for those that don’t like the taste of honey. If you do like honey, try Manuka from New Zealand. Comvita Triple Tested Manuka Honey is available in a variety of strengths and can be taken off the spoon or added to herbal teas. Manuka Honey is well tested and shown to have additional properties that have a positive effect on the body. Oh, and it tastes nice too! Need something to soothe the throat and stop everyone panicking around you because you happened to cough? Keep a few Ricola Soothe and Clear with Echinacea in your pocket.
Other supplements that are worth a look.
We are not permitted to make claims other than the approved EFFSA claims, for food supplements or for a herbal medicine unless it holds a Traditional Herbal Medicines licence. But there are lots of supplements that are worth looking at when aiming for wellness and not illness.
Here are a few other things to consider, don’t be afraid to ask for advice in your local health food store, they are a mine of information and expertise. The National Association of Health Stores has a store locator to help you find your nearest store.
Here are a few of my favourites.
Olive Leaf Extract, I have used Olive Leaf Extract ever since I first discovered it in around 1985. It has become one of my go to products if anyone is under the weather. Olive leaf has so much research available, Google is your friend here, especially for the sorts of situations we find ourselves currently in. I personally use Comvita’s one, I love the fact it is grown and processed in the same location, it is about as fresh as you can get, and the simple processing keeps all the active principles in the finished product. They also now produce a capsule that includes Vitamin C and Zinc for the normal function of the immune system.
Comvita's Olive Tree Farm, Australia,
Do you like pizza and Italian food? Did you know that one of the most popular flavours is a herb that has a long history of use as a medicine? Oregano is a great herb that again has shown some significant results in testing. There are many oregano oils available that are not the real deal, some are highly farmed and don’t contain the full spectrum of active principles. It is important to look for one with a full profile, ideally it contains around 30 different principles, including Thymol and Carvacrol. Avoid anything that says ‘high thymol,’ that will have been manipulated to get to high levels, you don’t want high levels!
One of the best is Oreganol P73 from North American Herb and Spice. They only use high mountain, wild grown, raw, hand picked oregano. I love the fact that they support the communities where it grows, so that the profits go back to support schools, living conditions and the environment. So as to make sure the wild grown oregano is not over-picked, NAHS will even pay them when they need to leave an area for a year to grow back.
Gut health plays a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system. If your good bacteria are not flourishing in your digestive tract, your immune system will suffer. We often don’t think about our digestive system in relation to how our immune system will function, but it is a vital part of the whole. Ensure an intake of good quality healthy bacteria on a regular basis. This can help all the family stay well and also enhances the absorption of the nutrients from your supplements and your food. Renew Life have range of varying formulations and are all room temperature stable so that you don’t have to keep it in the fridge.
There are plenty of other natural solutions and support, you can use fish oils, rich in EPA and DHA with are important for the health of the respiratory system. If you don’t like taking tablets, look out for New Era Tissue Salts, Combination J and Q are ideal at this time of the year, along with No 4, Ferr Phos which is important for mucous membranes too.
It’s not the virus, it’s the stress that is making me ill!
For some people, the constant bombardment and information overload with use of emotive words such as ‘cases soar,’ and virus toll rises,’ when there has been an increase in 20 diagnosed (not deaths) cases, can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. For most of us, the risk of getting ill is incredibly small, the chances of a full recovery if we do fall ill, are very good. The headlines and news bulletins reporting nothing but wall to wall ‘virus’ coverage means that it is becoming a major worry for some people. In fact, they are feeling ill due to the stress they are under.
This is an area where natural solutions can excel, gentle bath washes and oils rich in natural ingredients and fragranced with essential oils can do wonders. Try Green People or Balmonds. If you are tense try B vitamins and Magnesium, important for the health of the nervous system and tiredness.
RelaxOn by Lifeplan is really nice combination of nutrients that also includes 5HTP, Montmorency Cherry and Chamomile. Another one that I get great feedback from is New Nordic’s Mellissa Dream, which includes Lemon Balm and L-Theanine, it is also available as a chewable gummie too.
Supplies Running Low
Hopefully people will soon stop the panic buying of toilet rolls and pasta—what interesting choices—but if you are concerned with the lack of supplies, especially of sanitary items that may well follow the way of the loo roll, it might be a good time to invest in a silicone menstrual cup. Using something like OrganiCup means you don' need to buy tampons or towels and is more eco friendly in the long term too.
It’s hard to miss CBD in in the press at the moment, a non-psychoactive cannabis extract, CBD oil works with our own endocannabinoid system and many people now include it as part of their daily supplement regime. Good brands to look for include Cannateo, CannabiGold, CBDfx and CBD Leafline—they also produce flavoured oils if you are not keen on the taste of the natural one.
Don’t kiss your dog!
The latest advice is not to kiss your pets, there is a reported case where an owner has given his dog Covid-19 by kissing it! Regardless of whether you plan to kiss our pets or not, good oral health is another first line of defence. A toothpaste with Tea Tree Oil or Propolis in can help keep your mouth in good condition and free from invading nasties. Try Biomed or Green People. This time of year can also be tough on the lips, cracked lips can be a good starting place for infections, so keep your lips soft and healthy by using a natural, non-petroleum based lip balm such as Burt’s Bees. I love their Tinted Lip Balms and Shimmers. A little bit of glamour with the moisturising beeswax. I think I have one in just about every bag and even in my pencil case!
And finally …
The important overall message is to take sensible precautions, contact your surgery or call 111 if you do feel you have symptoms, stay hydrated, eat well and practise good hygiene. Do make sure that you take a trip to your local health food store, if you have never been there before, now is the perfect time to acquaint yourself with what they have to offer.
As a final thought, a positive mind set is all important in helping you stay well and to be aware of when you might need to get some help or advice. Little treats can work wonders when you are in need of a boost. Just like their slogan says, ‘we all need a little Booja-Booja sometimes.’ I find the two pack truffles they produce, are the perfect pick-me-up, that indulgent moment that can make all the difference. Of course, good quality raw chocolate is also a source of important minerals like magnesium, so I am doing myself some good at the same time, aren’t I? Stay well.
Disclaimer and transparency.
This blog is not sponsored or contributed to by any of the brands mentioned. They are a selection of brands that you are likely to find in your local independent health food store and are easily available in the UK.