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Archive for May, 2010

I’ve been learning a lot about aloe vera recently, this wondrous plant they call the Medicine Plant. Others call it the burns plant, the first aid plant, the silent healer or even the wonder plant. I actually thought it was a cactus but have learnt it is actually a member of the lily family and it’s cousins are the garlic, onion and asparagus.

Aloe Vera plant

Despite these wondrous names, in fact they are only about five species of aloe that actualy possess these beneficial propertis and the most powerful of those five is Aloe Barbadensis Miller and only that should really be called Aloe Vera or “True Aloe”.

So you’ve probably seen it in various items in the shops, ranging from tootpaste to toilet roll, drinks to soap but why is Aloe Vera so good and what can it do for you?

The contents of the aloe vera leaf provide a potent cocktail of good stuff including at least nine minerals, the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E plus B vitamins, vital to growth and repair. Aloe Vera provides 19 of the 20 amind acids required by the body and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids that the body cannot make itself. It contains a variety of enzymes that help digestion and plant sterols that act as anti-inflammatories. On top of all that, aloe has been found to be anti-viral, a natural pain killer, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

Those with weakened immune systems or over-active immune systems may find aloe vera of great benefit as it acts as an adaptagen and brings the body back into balance. Case studies have shown a remarkable improvement in those with auto-immune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also a quick healer and a regular use of aloe is on burns – people have used aloe gel direct from the leaf on to a burn which has led to fast healing with no scars. Acne sufferers also benefit quickly from the use of aloe vera. It should be noted though that aloe vera only acts as a suprressant so it’s important to take it regularly.

Digestion is another area where aloe vera excels by soothing the lining of the digestive tract, reducing inflammation of the membranes and speeding up transit time of contents through the digestive system. As it is anti-fungal, problems such as candida can be controlled by regulating the gut flora.

Aloe vera can be consumed in a variety of ways. The best way to take it is as a drink made from 100% stabilised aloe vera gel. Only 2 fl oz is needed each day and some varieties includes fruit extracts to sweeten the taste. I like it with cranberry and apple. As well as the juice, it can be applied topically in the form of cream, gel, lotion and spray and often an ingredient in shower gels, toothpate (great for controlling gum disease), deodourant and other bodycare products.

As a natural remedy, aloe vera tops the bill in so many ways. Be sure you buy products where the main ingredient is 100% stabilised aloe vera gel (so many products on our shelves nowadays have small percentages but lead you to thinking it is a main ingredient). Do contact me if you’d like some more information on this amazing plant.

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Did you know that 1 in 3 of us will at some time in our lives have an allergic reaction. For some, this is a one off thing but for others it is a constant source of distress and misery. This coming week, 10-14 May, is National Allergy Week in the UK, aiming to bring awareness and understanding of allergies.

Allergy UK

An allergy is a negative response by our bodies to something that in itself is not harmful such as dust, resulting in symptoms and even disease in a pre-disposed person. These substances are known as allergens. Our immune system is working overtime and thinks the substance is attacking us, when it actually is not.

At this time of year, hayfever is a common allergy with people have negative responses to tree pollen, flower pollen and grass. Others are allergic to a wide range of substances such as dust, mites, straw, pets, chemical substances within household goods, food such as wheat, shellfish and peanuts and even medicines such as penicillin. The body will react in various ways such as runny nose, itchy red eyes, skin rash, shortness of breath and sneezing.

However for some people the response is far more serious, for example those with a nut allergy may have an anaphylactic reaction. This occurs when the chemicals released by the immune system in response to the allergen end up in the bloodstream and travel around the entire body, giving rise to widespread symptoms such a decrease in blood pressure, rash, difficulty in swallowing due to swelling in the throat or mouth and a difficulty in breathing. Those who suffer from anaphylaxis will have learnt to self-medicate with adrenaline which is injected directly in the muscles, and hospitalisation is needed.

Asthma is another common allergy where the muscles of the airways tighten usually in response to an allergen such as pet hair, food, air pollutants and household chemicals (did you know the chemicals in new carpets can cause an asthma attack?). Most asthma sufferers will use a reliever inhaler or preventative inhaler to control their symptoms.

However, in addition to the medicines mentioned above, many people turn to complementary and natural therapies alongside their medicine to help control their symptoms. Please note that it is important you do not stop any medication without prior discussion with your GP.

Firstly, Bowen Technique is increasingly being used to assist with hayfever and asthma, and as a general boost to the immune system. Bowen Technique is a gentle light-touch therapy which is non-invasive and works to balance the whole body using light rolling moves of thumbs and fingers over particular points of the body. However, Bowen therapists do not treat just the symptom, rather the whole body is treated, paving the way for the body to heal itself. In many cases Bowen provides quick and often permanent relief. With asthma and for those whose allergy leads to a shortness of breath, Bowen can produce dramatic results just be relieving the diaphragm and allowing this large muscle to relax, allowing steady natural breathing to return. Contact me if you would like more information about Bowen Technique.

Secondly, bee products are increasingly being used to support the immune system. Bee pollen, Bee Propolis and Royal Jelly have been used for centuries for good health. Bee pollen is one of the purest foods around and, together with Royal Jelly and Proposals, provides a wide array of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. Hailed as a ‘superfood’, bee products can help build the body’s resistance and increase efficiency of the immune system.

Bee collecting pollen

Those with a pollen allergy are generally allergic to wind-carried pollens rather than bee-collected pollens and thus bee pollen may be safely used by even those persons who are prone to allergies such as hayfever, as they will usually suffer no ill-effects. It is thought the enzymes in pollen actually neutralise any allergenic properties. Contact me if you would like more information on bee pollen and other bee products.

Bee photo courtesy of Christian Meyn at Free Digital Photos.net

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