Category Archives: Health and wellness

Beautiful Hair & the B Vitamins

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The B complex vitamins are particularly important to hair health and beauty. Deficiencies of biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and PABA can lead to a loss of colour and there has even been success in reversing the greying process by giving supplements of these nutrients, particularly doses of PABA. One researcher claims to have restored colour to greying hair in 70 present of cases with PABA.

A lack of any of the B complex can result in hair troubles and losses. Vitamin B1, B2, and B12 are particularly important in invigorating lacklustre hair, clearing dandruff, scaling, redness of the scalp, and hair loss. Vitamin C is important too, because it maintains the health and strength of the capillaries supplying the hair producing follicles with nourishment. If your levels of vitamin C are too low, this results in perifollicular haemorrhages, in which these capillaries break and bleed, resulting in improper nourishment to the papillae.

How fast your hair can grow depends on adequate, but not too much protein, since more than adequate amounts can deplete your body of the minerals it needs. It is the right balance of nutrients that is most important. The condition of your hair is greatly affected by medicines that you take; antibiotics, sulpha drugs, aspirin, the Pill, diet pills, tranquillizers, thyroid pills, cortisone, anticancer drugs, and even cold remedies are a common cause of brittleness, dullness, breakage, and loss. Hair follicles are ultrasensitive to hormones. If you are taking a birth – control pill and having trouble with your hair, you might consider changing brands to see if it improves, as well as taking supplements.

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Dealing With Dry Skin

The joy of perfectly heahtly skin

The cause

Dry skin problems usually comes from underactive sebaceous glands, which may be due to hormone imbalance of vitamin or mineral deficiencies and therefore don’t produce enough important oily fluid to lubricate the skin and protect it from water loss.

Another reason may be the result of being exposed to excessively drying weather conditions, central heating, or air-conditioning, or from a diet too low in essential fatty acids.

Sometimes dried out skin is due to an incorrect water balance in the horny cells as a result of their being exposed to water for too long causing the cells to swell and burst, or on the other hand from being deprived of water for too long and as a consequence the cells gradually desiccate.

Excessive dryness of the skin also occurs in people who are suffering from subclinical deficiencies of Vit. A or C or one of several of the B-Complex group or of linoleic acid.

A dry skin incidence is also increasing, probably as a result of air pollution, the use of drugs, or the overuse of detergents and soaps on the skin of the face and body. skin conditions such as neuro-dermatitis, fungus infections, contact dermatitis, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis are often confused with dry skin.

Prevention and cure

Use a water-in-oil emulsion on your face night and day to protect against excessive water loss by trapping the water in the outer layer of the skin, preventing it from being released. Ensure sufficient essential fatty acids in your diet. Good sources are olive oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil.

You may also want to consider taking supplements of Vit. A and D in the form of fish liver oil. Vit. E taken internally or rubbed on the skin is often helpful too.

Other helpers include a humidifier, a weekly steaming of the skin followed by an oil massage, and mineral water sprayed onto the skin before applying moisturiser or treatment products. Avoid using soap on your face, avoid skincare products containing alcohol and apply a mask at least once a week.

Useful aromatherapy oils to use which you can mix yourself that contain the essence most useful for dry skin are geranium, camomile, rose, sandalwood, lavender, and ylang-ylang.

Pep up your day with Sensual Essential Fragrances

Sensual essential oils

Perfume your body with massage oil made up of three super-sensual essential oils. ‘Ylang-ylang is heady and intense, and like romance complicated. Patchouli is warm and sensual, while Clary sage can make you feel almost drunk and deliriously happy.

Or revive your spirits with rose: Few plants encourage self-regard and love more than roses. When you need to feel cherished pick a handful of rose petals, add some lavender sprigs from the garden and tie in a muslin bag or stocking with four cardamom pods and two drops each of rose and lavender essential oil together with a spoonful of oatmeal. Float the bag in a warm bath water for five minutes then indulgently sink into the water and soak for about 15 to 20 minutes as you sip some rosebud tea. You may also wish to try the L’Occitane Rose 4 Reines Bath Gel which is fabulous too.

The joy with frangipani

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The flower essence frangipani invokes subconscious memories of joy, peace and tranquillity, creating a feeling of happiness and there are so many ways to use it.

Sip it

Just by adding seven drops of the flower essence in a little water morning and

Add it

or seven drops added to a bath with other complimentary essential oils is a great way to be enveloped by its joyful qualities. It will leave you feeling uplifted and happy.

Sprits it

or add seven drops to some filtered water, plus a few drops of jasmine and rose oil. Then spray the mixture around you when you feel out of sorts.

A Healthy Head of Hair

I seem to have a trail of visitors who come to my blog seeking hair care advice, so this blog is for them. Although this article refers to women, the nutritional aspects equally apply to men.Hair

Are you one of those women who feel the only way to get your a healthy head of hair to head for the salon and invest in the latest high-end hair care treatment or to use expensive products?

Of course these treatments and products may help, but what you put into your body is vitally important to hair health and growth. When trying to grow your hair or improve the condition then it would be good to follow some if not all of these steps:

Nutrition:  Nutrition is essential if you want a healthy body and a good head of hair. Eat protein-rich foods, include in lean meats, fish, beans, low fat dairy products and eggs. Also include Brazil nuts, almonds, along with flaxseeds; these are good sources of omega-3 fats, and they can increase your hair’s shine over time – but be patient, it will take time, it could take six months before you see the results but it will be worth it. The benefit of fish is that it contains the essential natural oils and fatty acids that your hair needs. If you can, choose organic meats as they don’t have any added chemicals which aren’t good for hair or your body. Drink plenty of water. It not only flushes out all the toxins in your body but it also carries the nutrients to where they need to go.

Vitamins: It’s important to make sure you’re getting specific B vitamins which are; B2, B5, B6, B9, and B12; each play a huge role, from balancing hormones to combating stress, all which can adversely affect your skin elasticity and glow as well as the health  and general appearance of your hair. It is best to try and obtain these vitamins through a healthy diet, but if not always possible invest in a supplement, take a good B-complex vitamin.

Treatment: Most shampoos are harsh so rather look for a shampoo and conditioner that is organic and gentle. There are several on the market.

Cleopatra’s Beauty Secret

Aloe Vera

 

Cleopatra was renowned for her beautiful skin. One of her secrets was to massage aloe gel into her skin to nourish it and to make it shine. But she was not the only one to believe in the restorative powers of aloe.

Her fellow Egyptians was also very fond of the plant and drawings of aloe have been found in Egyptian temples dating to 3000 B.C. Egyptian medical writings from 1500 B.C. recommended it for infections and skin problems and as a laxative, uses that are supported by modern herbologists.

The Bible mentions aloe several times, in passages such as “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon” (Proverbs 7:17). But it is unlikely that biblical aloe was one that we know today. In the ancient world, many bitter, resinous plants were called aloe.

The word ‘aloe’ comes from the Arabic ‘alloeh’ meaning ‘bitter and shiny’ – an apt description of the plant’s wound-healing inner leaf gel.

Michael Castleman, author of The New Healing Herbs reports that Aloe is one of the few non-narcotic plants to cause a war. When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 B.C., he heard of a plant with amazing wound-healing powers on an island off Somalia. Intent on healing his soldiers’ wounds – and on denying this healer to his enemies – Alexander sent an army to seize the island and the plant, which turned out to be aloe.

To prepare fresh aloe gel to help soothe superficial (not needing stitches) wounds, including burns, scrapes, sunburn, and to help prevent infection, select a lower (older) leaf and cut off a few centimetres. Then slice it lengthwise and scoop the gel onto the cleaned wound, and let it dry. As for the injured leaf, it quickly closes its own wound.

This fresh aloe gel is also wonderful for enhancing the beauty of your skin. (It is worth noting that the ‘stabilized’ (preserved) gel found in commercial skin care products and shampoos may not provide the fresh herbs skin-enhancing benefits.)

If you don’t mind the bitterness and resulting stomach cramps you can also take the fresh gel internally as a laxative. Cut a 15cm piece of lower leaf. Wash it to remove any dirt, make a few lengthwise cuts, and put it with cut end down in a glass of water. Refrigerate for an hour or so. Remove the aloe leaf and take mouthful doses.

Can’t find an Aloe Vera plant?

Then use our own indigenous Bulbine frutescens. For external use some claim that it even surpasses Aloe Vera.

Please note that if you are pregnant or trying to conceive you should not take aloe internally as its cathartic nature may stimulate uterine contractions and trigger miscarriage. Nor should it be used by nursing mothers. It may cause stomach cramps and violent catharsis in infants. Before embarking on any self medication please consult your doctor.

Extract from the SA Herb Academy

How Mood Affects Immunity

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We are slowly beginning to unravel the complex interactions between mental and physical health. Researchers have found a wealth of evidence that positive emotions can enhance the immune system, while negative emotions can suppress it. For example, individuals can take up to a year to recover a healthy immune system following the death of their spouse, and long-term caregivers have suppressed immune systems compared with persons in the general population.

Studies on survivors of sexual abuse and those with post-traumatic stress disorder suggest they have elevated levels of stress hormones, as do students at exam time. In these groups of people and others experiencing loneliness, anger, trauma and relationship problems, and infections last longer and wounds take longer to heal. However, having fun with friends and family seems to have the opposite effect on our immune systems. Social contact and laughter have a measurable effect for several hours. Relaxation through massage or listening to music also reduces stress hormones.

The reasons for this link remain unclear, but the brain appears to have a direct effect on stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which have wide-ranging effects on the nervous and immune systems. In the short term, they benefit us with heightened awareness and increased energy, but when prolonged, the effects are less helpful. They lead to a profound change in the immune system, making us more likely to pick up a bug.

Stress can also over activate the immune system, resulting in an increased risk of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, hives and acne also may worsen, and stress can trigger asthma attacks.

The mechanisms behind this are complex and still only partially understood, but what we do know is that our reactions to life events can have far-reaching effects on our health. This can work to our advantage — feelings of relaxation reduce cortisol, together with other beneficial bodily responses. In turn, these changes feed into the immune system, making it function well. This happens spontaneously in our daily lives, but we also can encourage it by choosing to look after ourselves.

Insights from the ‘Placebo Effect’

A mind-body link also is found in experiments where people with infections are given placebo (inactive) treatments, which they think are the real thing. Even though the treatment has no medicinal effect, these volunteers report milder symptoms than those given no treatment.

The link also can work the other way once we have developed an infection. Volunteers who are given a symptomless infection feel more anxious and depressed for the next few hours than healthy volunteers. The infection also has a detrimental effect on their memory, lasting several hours.

It’s also been found that happier people may be less likely to come down with colds.

Dr. Sheldon Cohen, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, suggests in his research that our susceptibility to infection can easily be altered by our lifestyle choices.

“Don’t smoke, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, try to reduce the stress in your life, and strengthen your interpersonal relationships,” he advises.

Being depressed or anxious is linked to catching more infections and experiencing the symptoms more strongly. Of course, it’s possible that happier people might have a tendency to play down how bad they are actually feeling.

Helping Ourselves

While no one knows for sure how our feelings can affect the immune system, most doctors agree that reducing stress is a good idea. Many stresses cannot be avoided altogether, but we can minimize our ‘background’ stress and our reactions to stressful events.

This is easier said than done. The modern world almost is set up to produce anxiety and frustration. But we can manage stress by reducing the demands upon us, increasing our ability to cope with them, or both.

Creative thinking may lead you to ways — such as delegating work or deleting less important items from your to-do lists — to help reduce stress. Then you can look for ways to improve your coping ability, such as learning a new, useful skill or spending more time unwinding each day. If you are anxiety-prone, consider meditation, yoga, or tai chi classes.

Article: by Jane Collingwood http://www.everydayhealth.com/psoriasis/how-does-mood-affect-immunity.aspx?xid=nl_EverydayHealthHealthyAging_20110219

Health Benefits of the Rose

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Roses are not only considered the most romantic flower; they are also said to comfort the heart and emotions. They are usually irresistible and one is ever so tempted to smell every single one as you pass by.

Ancient healing traditions will tell you that Rose clears heat and toxins from the body resulting in a cooling effect, can benefit a sore throat and runny nose, and relieves painful periods. It also contains high levels of Vitamin C, helps the body fight against infection, helps establish healthy bacteria, helps cleans the kidneys, liver and gall bladder, helps remedy gastro, diarrhoea and dysentery, works as a laxative, helps infertility and has a positive effect on the nervous system therefore helps fatigue, insomnia and depression.

When combined with the more widely known benefits of ginger the rose also boosts the immune system, and treats colds, chest infections, digestive disorders, nausea and joint pain and what’s more it tastes good.

Recipe for rose petal and ginger tea

1x1cm cube of fresh ginger peeled and thinly sliced or finely grated
1 dried rose bud or a couple of rose petals
1 cup boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes

Let the tea cool slightly before serving in your favourite tea-cup or a tall glass.