Hay Fever Helpers

hay fever helpers health notes

Lifeplan Botanicals Wild Hayflower. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends this mixture of meadow grasses and flowers, which can help trigger your body to fight the pollens you may encounter.

HayMax pure balm. This organic drug-free balm, made with beeswax and seed oils, is applied to the base of the nose and round the eyes to form a barrier to allergens. The range includes HayMax Kids and HayMax Aloe Vera for sore noses.

Eyelergy eye drops. Single-dose, preservative-free droppers deliver a light gel to help eliminate allergens and dust from eyes, relieve itchiness and form a barrier against allergens. For adults and children, suitable for contact lens wearers.


RIO’S REACH-OUT THERAPY

When Rio Ferdinand’s wife Rebecca died from breast cancer in May 2015, aged just 34, he was left a single parent to three children under ten. The footballer’s immediate thoughts focused on ‘all the basic stuff – sorting out the funeral, what to do  with the children, the school run, making sure everyone was all right. You don’t really look at yourself.’

It wasn’t until the winter, when he started talking to his old friend Jamie Moralee, that Rio realised it was hard bottling things up: ‘You get angry, you get upset, you get emotional, you get depressed and it isn’t good for you or the network of people around you.’

Rio and Jamie recall that first conversation in a short film for Heads Together (headstogether.org.uk), the mental health campaign founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry that aims to get people talking about their feelings. Outlining the campaign’s vision for 2017, the Duchess said: ‘The challenge that so many people have is not knowing how to take that first step of reaching out to another person for help. Fear, reticence or a sense of not wanting to burden another means that people suffer in silence – allowing the problem to grow larger and larger.’

That’s when having another person listening can make all the difference. Jamie wanted to talk to Rio about his loss ‘from day one, but I didn’t know the right timing. It was six months after Rebecca’s passing that I plucked up the courage to say, “How are you?” and mention some memories of Rebecca and what a fantastic lady she was.’ That got the two old friends talking and ‘we ended up crying our eyes out on the beach’.

For Rio, ‘Talking about feelings was a release. In these situations, you need to get your feelings out. It’s like a cleanse and it doesn’t just help you, it helps all the people close to you to feel more comfortable.’

Rio and Jamie’s dialogue is part of an online series of films for Heads Together, showing conversations between people from all walks of life. Another features two NHS ambulance workers, Dan and Rich. Dan attended a call that affected him severely: ‘It was the worst thing I had ever seen.’ The experience triggered vivid flashbacks and Dan began ‘smoking, drinking and not sleeping – and getting into a deeper hole day by day.

I didn’t know what to do to get out of it.’ Eventually, he texted his colleague Rich and they started talking. Rich confesses he was worried about what to say to someone going through a crisis: ‘It was nerve-racking, but I kept thinking it was nowhere near as bad as what Dan was going through.’ Dan also had misgivings: ‘I thought it was going to be one of the most difficult things I would ever do but, actually, it was just a conversation between two friends.’

Mental health charity Mind (mind.org.uk) has a useful section on helping others on its website, under Information and Support. Calm, the campaign against living miserably (thecalmzone.net, helpline: 0800 585 858, open 5pm to midnight), offers help to people who are worried about someone they know feeling suicidal. Both charities are part of the Heads Together coalition.


OPTIBAC PROBIOTICS

A 24-year-old reader with recurrent bloating and digestive problems reports that using Optibac Probiotics has significantly reduced the problem. The range includes Optibac Probiotics For Every Day.

Suffering From PMS

suffering-from-pms

Q. My daughter appears to be suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), is there a test she could take and would the herb agnus castus be appropriate to try?

A. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (rcog.org.uk), ‘Forty per cent of women experience PMS symptoms. Of those, five to eight per cent suffer severely. PMS encompasses psychological sympyoms such as depression, anxiety and irritability, with physical symptoms typically bloatedness and mastalgia [breast pain].’ Read More…

Cuts And Grazes

cuts-and-grazes

Q. I tripped recently and tore a layer of skin off both my knees. I realised that I didn’t know the protocol for dealing with this small but painful injury. What should I do next time?

A. Most cuts and grazes are minor and can easily be treated at home, according to NHS Choices (nhs.uk). Here is a guide:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Stop any bleeding Apply pressure using a clean, dry, absorbent material (eg, a flannel, hanky or piece of bandage) for several minutes. If the cut is on your hand or arm, raise it above your head; if to a lower limb, lie down and raise the affected area above the level of your heart.
  • Clean the wound under running tap water (if you are abroad, ensure it is drinking quality). Don’t use antiseptic as it may damage the skin and slow healing. If there are any residual fragments of grit, remove them with tweezers.
  • Pat the area dry with a clean towel and apply a sterile adhesive dressing, eg, a plaster (waterproof plasters mean you can take a shower). Change the dressing daily if possible.
  • Encourage faster healing with a specific product such as Sheald Recovery Balm (£43), which can be applied to open wounds.
  • Go to your GP or minor injuries unit if you think your wound is, or could become, infected. Go to your nearest A&E if you cannot stop the bleeding or if the wound is large – particularly if it is on your face or the palm of your hand. Check with NHS 111 if you need further medical advice.

Read More…

The Vitamin D Lowdown

Sonne

The Vitamin D Lowdown

  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, also categorised as a hormone. It is made by our bodies from cholesterol by the action of UVB from sunlight on our skin.
  • It helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies, which are needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
  • In this country, most people should get enough UVB in the summer months if they get outside in the sun, but UVB dwindles to almost nothing from October to March.
  • Vitamin D3 (the type we need) is also found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), egg yolks, red meat, fat, liver and fortified foods such as some dairy products and breakfast cereals. While it is wise to eat these, we would have to consume huge amounts to get enough – thus the need for supplements.
  • So how much vitamin D do we need? The recommended supplementary amount of vitamin D3 from the age of one to 70 is 400 IU (10mcg) and 320-400 IU for babies.
  • However, many experts believe 1,000 IU or higher is more appropriate for adults.
  • For people with diagnosed vitamin D deficiency, the recommended maintenance therapy (after testing to ensure an optimal level has been reached) is 800 to 2,000 IU daily.
  • Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends trying the Better You DLux 1,000 Spray, a sublingual spray that provides 100 doses of 1,000 IU.

Read More…

How To Settle A Sore Stomach

how-to-settle-a-sore-stomach-2-health-notes

When a friend had a bad bout of food poisoning with severe diarrhoea recently, I asked naturopath Ben Brown, technical director of Viridian Nutrition, for advice. He suggested she do the following:

  • Take an oral rehydration solution (available from chemists nationwide).
  • Avoid dairy food as transient lactose intolerance can develop and make diarrhoea worse.
  • Introduce a daily zinc supplement, containing around 20mg of elemental zinc. Try Solgar Zinc Picolinate (£9.91, victoriahealth.com).
  • Take 500mg of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii, which has strong antimicrobial and anti-diarrheal activity, twice daily. Viridian Nutrition Travel Biotic (£20, victoriahealth.com) contains S. boulardii in a ginger-root base.
  • Sip strong black tea (the tannins help battle the infective bacteria and reduce inflammation), plus ginger tea if you feel nauseous. Eat grated or stewed apple with the peel on.

Read More…

Stress

a-mums-peace-of-mind-health-notes

However much we love the festive season, most of us feel a tad frazzled. Practising mindfulness in any form (eg, yoga) always helps. Here are my other tips for reducing festive-season stress.

  • Have a protein-filled breakfast. Eggs are perfect.
  • Consider a supplement such as Siberian ginseng, a powerful adaptogenic herb that helps combat fatigue. Try HealthAid Sibergin.
  • Eat every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar steady – three meals and two snacks a day.
  • Keep a little tin of almonds in your bag for on-the-go boosts.
  • Don’t dry out. Sip still water or herbal teas throughout the day.
  • Keep your feet happy with comfy footwear. We’re mad about the new, super-chic FitFlop Chelsea boots in snake-embossed leather, which feel as though you’re wearing sneakers.
  • Wind down in a warm bath with aromatherapy oils. Try Neom Organics Perfect Night’s Sleep Bath & Shower Drops.
  • Rest your brain with needlework. My favourite book this year is Kaffe Fassett’s Bold Blooms by Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy with ideas for embroidery, tapestry, knitting, beading and much more.

A MUM’S PEACE OF MIND

Life is busy for mother of four Clemmie Hooper, 32. As well as daughters aged nine and six, Clemmie has ten-month-old twin girls with husband Simon. She has just finished her book on pregnancy and birth (How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out, which will be published by Vermilion in February next year); writes a blog about mothering (gasandairblog.com), and has more than 86,000 followers on Instagram (@mother_of_daughters). So when she was asked to trial Quility, a new mindfulness app, her first reaction was to say no.

‘I had tried practising mindfulness before and always found 20 more important things to do,’ says Clemmie. ‘But the idea of an app specifically targeted at mums persuaded me. I found it easy to use – much more convenient for me than a book – and very helpful.’

On the app, mindfulness expert Tessa Watt points out that the safety advice for parents on planes is to put on their own oxygen masks first. ‘As a mother, you are so programmed to look after everyone else that you sink to the bottom of the pile,’ says Clemmie. ‘I knew Tessa was right – you can’t pour from an empty cup.’

The Quility app is designed for brief gaps of time. ‘You only need to carve out five or ten minutes twice a day to give yourself breathing space,’ says Clemmie. ‘After taking the older children to school I practise mindfulness, mostly being aware of my breath and reconnecting with my body – noticing if I am so tense that my shoulders are pushed sky high, for instance.’

Clemmie’s dentist told her she was grinding her teeth at night. ‘I was anxious when I should be most relaxed,’ she says. Rather than checking emails in bed, Clemmie now turns off her phone notifications and ‘zones out’ with Quility.

‘Now, when everything is going pear-shaped – we’re out of milk, a child is drawing on the wall, everyone is kicking off – I don’t have the same knee-jerk reaction,’ she says. ‘I used to snap, shout, lose my temper – instead I pause for five seconds and breathe. The situation doesn’t change but I’m better at coping with it, so everyone is calmer.’

Leading up to Christmas, Clemmie’s resolution is to not cram in too much. ‘If Saturday is busy, we have a chilled Sunday,’ she says. ‘We are spending Christmas with my husband’s family and when his mother says, “Don’t bring anything except yourselves”, for the first time I will take her at her word.’


WHAT IS MINDFULNESS

It is the ability to be fully in the present moment, aware of where we are and what we are doing, but not overreacting or being overwhelmed by what is going on around us.

Practising mindfulness starts with focusing on your breath going in and out of your nostrils, then absorbing the sensations of your body and environment.

Research shows that people who practise mindfulness are calmer, more aware of their thoughts and feelings, able to focus and manage their emotions better.