The Power of Arnica

Arnica is a well-known homeopathic remedy and a gentle herb from the daisy family (a relative to Calendula, Chamomile, Echinacea, Yarrow and Dandelion).

For centuries Arnica has been used for bruising and sprains. It’s old names such as “fall herb” and “wound herb” signify its age-old use for the effects of trauma. Swiss mountain guides chewed Arnica leaves to prevent fatigue from climbing.

Just like the tough, hardy daisy, Arnica will help you bounce back from life’s knocks and tumbles. It reduces pain, inflammation and swelling, and increases blood circulation.

Arnica is an alpine plant growing and thriving in the most extreme conditions, making it a tough, hardy plant. It grows in nutrient-poor soil, at high altitudes and strong sunlight. It is a survivor, getting through the most difficult of times. It’s leaves are also usually full of little insects and parasites, giving it a victim persona. Its root contains essential oils which are powerful anti–inflammatory agents. So there is no wonder that Arnica is a powerful remedy not just on a physical level but also on emotional and spiritual levels too.

If you have fallen over and taken a knock, or are feeling battered and bruised from a tough exercise workout, Arnica knows that feeling. Arnica can sooth your weariness, heal your bruises, remedy the trauma and comfort your injured pride.

Arnica Salve (by Neal’s Yard Remedies) is potent plant power in a jar: organic essential oils and herbal extracts in pure, organic beeswax. Supporting a hard worked body, the salve can be massaged into muscles before and after exertion, stimulating muscles before workouts and easing them afterwards. Of course it is also a necessity for the organic medicine cabinet for emergency first aid for those knocks, bruises, falls and sprains.

When overtired why not enjoy a restorative soak with Arnica in the bath. Infusions of mineral-rich Seaweed, Comfrey and Arnica are combined with pure essential oils of Lemon, Pine, Juniper and Lavender to ease tired muscles and restore a sense of vitality.

Especially formulated to ease weary limbs. Or why not try the new Seaweed and Arnica Bath Salts?

 

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, acupuncturist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Group Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic.

Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chicken Pox: A Mother’s and Therapist’s Perspective

My youngest daughter has recently contracted the common virus known as Chicken Pox (herpes varicella-zoster).

The virus can cause a high temperature, loss of appetite and the well known spots or rash. The spots start off looking like red spots, then they blister and finally scab over.

Once the blisters have scabbed over the child is no longer contagious, even though the scabs are still present and can still look alarming, particularly to other parents! They can take up to two weeks to fade and disappear.

Chicken Pox
Chicken Pox

During the blistering and early scabbing stages in particularly, itching can be pretty debilitating. My daughter didn’t try to scratch the spots but just stood there and cried in despair! At this point I used Calendula and Oat lotion. I chose this over the “traditional” calamine lotion because I always want to avoid synthetic preservatives that are found in many products nowadays.

Calendula and oat lotion is deeply soothing and calming, with anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to this, it also contains Stellaria media (Chickweed) extract, a traditional herb renowned for cooling and soothing itching or red skin: ideal for Chicken Pox.

Chickweed
Stellaria media (Chickweed)

We had only one full day of itching and feeling miserable in general. I used the Calendula & Oat lotion regularly during this day, as well as giving her an oat bath. To do this I simply put half a cup of organic porridge oats into an old sock and knotted the top. Then I placed it under the running water when filling up the tub.

calendula_oat

I genuinely believe that the two above remedies reduced the time of itching and discomfort for my daughter (and subsequently me!) and am now prepared for my older daughter to contract the virus too!

In addition to the above, I really wanted to give reflexology, however my youngest daughter is very much a person who knows her own mind and would not be persuaded. I would have liked to give some short and gently zone therapy with emphasis on the thymus and lymphatics to help the immune system fight the virus, and the solar plexus for calming. My older daughter is more welcoming to the therapy and she is already receiving reflexology regularly in the anticipation of catching the virus.

It should go without saying, that in addition to topical lotions and medicines such as paracetamol, what the body needs the most in situations like this is water, and plenty of it.

Now that the worst is over for my youngest daughter, I am now applying Organic Rosehip Seed Oil to reduce any potential scarring. Rosehip seed oil contains vitamin A, vitamin C and the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, which are fantastic ingredients to encourage skin rejuvenation, moisture replenishment, and healing.

rosehip

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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What can we do for Eczema?

Eczema is dry, itchy, flaky, red and inflamed skin (and sometimes worse). It is largely a chronic condition meaning that it is long-lasting and can be controlled but not cured.

Those suffering with eczema usually suffer also with other conditions such as asthma and hayfever. This is because they are all types of allergies; the body has an inapproprate allergic reaction to antigens that are usually harmless (e.g. animal hair, pollen, dust). When the body reacts in this way it releases huge amounts of histamine which then causes inflammation, itching, sneezing, wheezing etc. It is usually the immune response that causes the damage to the body, not the allergen itself. (1)

So what can we do for eczema, and why do people suffer with eczema? I believe it has a lot to do with the gut. If we don’t have good gut health then the toxic overload is too much for our bodies and the skin will try to help by excreting those toxins. Remember that the skin is an outlet as well as a protective barrier and receptor. So cleaning up diets, eliminating processed foods, sugar, caffeine etc. and increasing the intake of vegetables and water is going to have a profound effect in the long term. I think we all have room for improvement with our diets!

But in the shorter term something is needed to apply to the skin to reduce the symptoms and give relief. This is particularly true for children whom are a large group of atopic (hereditary) eczema suffers.  Any petroleum-based products are not going to do this. The skin might feel soft and moisturised initially but after continued use the product will block the skin’s pores, causing imbalances in the skin’s natural equilibrium and resulting in even more problems.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its replacement, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are both known irritants. Beware of products labelled “sensitive”. Many products on the market are full of chemicals that have no place on the skin. However, most people can tolerate them. For those who can’t, the manufacturer removes the problem chemicals, and replaces them with some that are actually worse, on the basis that the customer is unlikely to react to both. (2)

The following products are those which myself and colleagues have seen to be helpful with treating eczema:

NYRO baby balm. This balm protects and calms the skin with a combination of gentle, moisturising ingredients, including olive oil, coconut oil and shea nut butter. Apply as required to affected areas. One mother kindly shared these amazing photographs of her daughter’s eczema, before and after using the NYRO baby balm for 6 weeks.

eczema before

eczema after

For small patches of eczema or dermatitis, consider the NYRO Stellaria Cream  which is fabulous at reducing itching. Chickweed, a traditional herb renowned for cooling and soothing itching or red skin, is the active ingredient in this formula.

Another fantastic product to try is the anti-inflammatory and deeply soothing Calendula and Oat Lotion, which is suitable for extreme dryness and sensitive skin.

calendula_oatOne particular customer has experienced great success with seemingly uncontrollable eczema by the daily application of organic virgin coconut oil. The Neal’s Yard Remedies coconut oil is raw, unrefined, unbleached, and processed without heat to retain its unique balance of nutrients. Applied directly to the skin, coconut oil makes an extremely effective conditioning treatment, gently soothing dry, sensitive skin or scalps.

As a reflexologist, I am very much aware of the power of stress and what it can do to the body. If you are suffering with eczema it could be exacerbated by stress, or vica versa. A course of reflexology might help the situation, calming the sympathetic nervous system and in turn stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and allowing the body to regain a state of relaxation and homeostasis. During the reflexology sessions particular emphasis would be paid to specific reflex points, particularly those of the digestive system, endocrine system, lymphatics and immune systems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the lungs are linked to the colon; they share the same meridian. This ties in with the commonalities between eczema, asthma and hayfever, and highlights another reason to look to improve digestive health. They are both organs of elimination.

Along with a cleaned-up diet, a cleansing and healing supplement such as aloe vera juice and/or beauty oil might also be used to help with the healing and replenishing process.  Aloe vera juice is an excellent digestive tonic. Beauty oil is a blend of avocado, hemp, flax and evening primrose oils.

(1) Ross & Wilson Anatomy & Physiology  in Health and Illness. p371

(2) Closed discussion thread

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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