Be Prepared for Biting Insects (let’s live together!)

We’re off to the midge haven of Scotland for our summer holiday, so in  true girl guide fashion I’ve followed the motto of “be prepared” and have stocked up on insect repellant and cream to apply on bites.

Just as well I did because just as my stock arrived I suffered this nasty bite to my thigh whilst outside in our garden, from what I can only imagine was a horse fly.

As is usually the case I only noticed it when it started to itch. Immediately applied a generous amount of Stellaria cream from Neal’s Yard Remedies. This cream is rich in almond oil and chickweed extract – exactly what the skin needs to reduce inflammation, itching and allergy. I applied approximately every 3 hours (basically when the itching re-started after the last application) and now 5 days later it no longer itches and has reduced considerably. It didn’t bother me during the night either which was surprising!

I’m sure if I hadn’t had this cream to hand the itching would have been unbearable and I probably would have been scarred from scratching.

When I was bitten I was outside taking my regular yoga practice. It’s so liberating and uplifting to practice outside, and I don’t want to stop doing this. So insect repellant to the rescue! The Neal’s Yard Remedies citronella formula spray has worked a treat ever since. With witch hazel and citronella it is cooling to the skin and smells great (but not so attractive for those pesky insects!)

If you prefer to make your own insect repellant lotion, then the following ingredients will serve well: create your own face and body lotion, citronella essential oil, thyme essential oil, lavender essential oil, pine essential oil, peppermint essential oil. Work to 2% of oils to lotion to keep it skin safe. Switch the lotion for a little alcohol (to disperse the oils) and water to make a spray instead. [Note I am not an aromatherapist however I sought this advice from a qualified colleague.]

While we’re away I will also pop a few drops of citronella in a bowl of boiling water to diffuse through the van of an evening.

Jackie Marsden is a qualified reflexologist and an independent consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. All views are my own.

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Are you getting enough Vitamin O?

What am I talking about? Oxygen.

I’m no expert on yoga/breathing/meditation, however what I learn and find useful for myself, I always share where needed, particularly with my clients.

Many people come to me with stress-related issues, anxiety, sleep problems. Our minds wander and we worry, we ask:

  • Why me?
  • Why (insert loved ones name here)?
  • Why did it happen?
  • I wished it hadn’t happened
  • I’m worried it will happen
  • … the list could go on but you get the idea.

While we’re wasting our time doing this, our bodies are responding with the “fight or flight” response. Heart rate quickens, blood pressure increases, our immune and digestive systems start slowing. Our breath becomes shallow.

We need something to get away from the mind’s futile worrying. What could be easier and more opportune than our breath? Take some deep, slow breaths. Allow the oxygen to fill up our chests, our tummies, our whole bodies. Sweep in through the nose, and if you can, out through the nose, if not slowly and gently through the mouth. Try counting 1,2,3,4 as you inhale, 1,2,3,4 as you exhale. Add in some pauses. Count 1,3,3,4 after every inhale and exhale.

These simple techniques should help you tune out your mind’s babble and focus on the present moment. What is actually bothering you right now at this present moment? Nothing.

Posture during these breathing exercises is important too. If you’re doing them in bed in the middle of the night then you should be horizontal and comfortable. Make sure you’re warm and you can relax your muscles. If you’re sitting then it might be useful to use a small cushion to “prop up” your seat bones (those bony bits in your bottom cheeks). Tilting the pelvis forward like this will shift the spine straighter and open up the chest area, allowing more space.

During my reflexology treatments, my sequence always starts with the diaphragm line, followed by lung reflex, to help calm the breath and aid relaxation.

When we breathe we are literally giving our whole bodies oxygen: what could be more holistic?

The breath is so obvious that it often gets overlooked, but this is one of the greatest tools we have to help ourselves.

Are you getting enough Vitamin O?

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Image courtesy of hinnamsaisuy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s all the fuss about Parabens?

Parabens – what are they? Why are more and more manufacturers labelling their products as paraben-free? Why is paraben-free so important? One of my customers asked me these questions this week and so has spurred me on to write this (previously promised) blog post.

ID-100115115Parabens are synthetically made chemicals, derived from petroleum, and are produced very cheaply and used by the beauty industry to increase the shelf-life of products largely to prevent fungal growth within products. The individual ingredient usually ends in paraben e.g. propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, and less commonly heptylparaben, isobutyparaben, isobutylparaben, benzylparaben.

There is an opinion that the amount of parabens in each product is so tiny that it is negligible to the potential risks. This opinion is flawed because it does not take into consideration the very nature of personal-care products allows for daily exposure to these chemicals and the continued and gradual build up of toxicity within the body. What are the effects after prolonged and repeated use?

Parabens, once entering the body, mimic oestrogen, thus creating imbalance in our endocrine system. As they are fat soluble, so they are stored within our bodies. The absorption of substances through the skin and mucous membranes is particularly disturbing, because the body’s normal filters, the kidneys and liver, are bypassed.

Oestrogen mimicking is a concern because even the smallest amounts can disrupt the normal hormonal balance of the body. Oestrogens are known to be a cancer trigger. So one could deduce that increased levels of oestrogen in the body could be a potential cause of cancer. This is why parabens are linked in particular to breast cancer, as studies showed that parabens have been found, intact, within breast tumours. http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/radiation-chemicals-and-breast-cancer/parabens.html

Parabens are also known as a reproductive toxin causing infertility issues, generally from low sperm count. Some countries have enough doubts about their safety that they have been banned in product use, especially for children’s products.

Beware, though, of brands labelling their products as “paraben-free” when they have switched the parabens for another synthetic and potentially hazardous preservative, simply to save the brand name over concerns of health risks to the consumer. But this is for another blog post.

So you know how I’m going to summarize don’t you? Use a brand that you can trust. Use organic. Use natural. Use Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net