Tea tree oil – nature’s healer

Aborigines have recognised its healing qualities for hundreds of years, it’s natural and it can heal cuts and burns, boils and warts, athlete’s foot and thrush, and boost the immune system. It is antiseptic, a fungicide, fights bacteria and viruses, has anti-inflammatory qualities, expectorant and balsamic characteristics. It is a natural household disinfectant and insecticide and can even be used as a household cleaner.

Research has discovered that tea tree oil can prevent the antibiotic resistant so-called superbug which affects patients in hospital, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Trials are currently being carried out in Australia to prove its effectiveness in fighting the superbug, and it has already been proven fight candida, acne, boils, athlete’s foot, cold sores and veruccas.

Tea tree oil, distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant found in Australia, is a complex chemical substance made up of almost 50 chemical compounds. The oil is pale yellow and has a pungent medicinal smell, which does not lend it to use as a fragrance.

The tea tree plant is a spindly shrub with soft, bright green needle-like leaves, and tiny cream or yellow flowers. It is native to swampy areas of New South Wales, but as demand has grown more plantations have been cultivated in the same part of Australia. As the healing properties of tea tree oil become more and more recognised, it is fast becoming a massive industry.

While Australia is at the forefront of this industry, other countries who have begun to produce the plant include Zimbabwe, New Zealand, and Ecuador.

Where tea tree got its name

The Melaleuca alternifolia plant was traditionally used by Aborigines to treat cuts, wounds and skin infections, by making mud packs with the crushed up leaves. The name ‘tea tree’ emanated from Captain Cook and the crew of HMS Endeavour who landed in Australia in 1770, picked the aromatic leaves to make a spicy and refreshing cup of tea and even brew their own beer!

As early as 1923 clinical trials in Australia proved that tea tree oil had antiseptic and bactericidal properties, and was 13 times as effective as carbolic which was the standard at that time. Its diverse healing qualities made it standard issue in the first aid kits in the Australian Army and Navy during World War II. However, after the war the advent of antibiotics and other man-made drugs meant that tea tree oil, like other natural remedies, was largely overlooked.

What it heals

Dissatisfaction with the side-effects of 20th century drugs set in during the 1970s and tea tree oil became popular again, but mainly in Australia. Nowadays the average Aussie household has a bottle of tea tree oil in their medicine cabinet and the rest of us are waking up to its amazing qualities.

There are many applications for tea tree oil. Taken as a mouthwash it can eliminate bad breath, gingivitis and mouth ulcers, and used as a gargle in warm water it soothes sore throats. It can be applied neat on burns, bites, cold sores, spots and rashes, or it can be diluted in the bath or on a compress for sunburn, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.

An effective insect repellent when dabbed on the temples, ankles and wrists, tea tree oil can be put in a base oil and massage into the muscles to ease rheumatism and back ache. Its antiseptic properties prevent the spread of germs and used in an oil burner, it can be inhaled to protect people from flu and fever, while easing sleep and bronchial conditions.

Head lice

Young children frequently get headlice from school, and the rest of the family are likely to get them too. Lice thrive on clean hair and it has nothing to do with being dirty. To prevent and eliminate: add 5-10ml of tea tree oil per 100ml of unperfumed, pH balanced organic shampoo. Massage into the scalp for 10 minutes before rinsing. Use a special comb (available from chemists) to check if lice are present, and if so, repeat treatment every two to three days as the treatment will not kill the eggs and these need to have hatched to catch them.

Bronchitis/sinusitis/colds

There are several ways in which tea tree oil can help. Five drops of oil can be put into a bowl of boiling hot water and inhaled for five to ten minutes – if you can bear it that long. Put 8-10 drops in the bath to encourage the body to sweat, and go to bed straight after. Keep the bath cool if body temperature is high. At bedtime three drops of oil added to base oil can be massaged into the chest, back and throat and combined with other oils like eucalyptus and lavender.

Dermatitis and eczema

Mix 25 drops of tea tree oil into 100ml boiled water and apply twice a day when it has cooled. Take regular baths containing tea tree oil drops. It is important to do a patch test on the skin first. Dab some oil on to a healthy area of skin and leave for an hour to see if irritation occurs.

Soothing thrush

Some people put tea tree oil diluted on a tampon, or mixed with live yogurt on a tampon to relieve the symptoms of thrush. In the early 1980s Professor Paul Belaiche, Phytotherapy Dept. at the University of Paris carried out studies on 28 women suffering from thrush. They inserted vaginal tea tree capsules every evening for 30 days, after which 21 were completely cured and the other seven were clinically cured.

Safe for veruccas

Unlike salicyclic acid tea tree oil does not cause damage to ulcerated skin on the feet. It can be applied by people with veruccas without risk of hurting themselves. As it fights bacteria it also prevents the area around the verucca becoming affected.

Cautious purchasing

There is a long list of ingredients in pure tea tree oil but as a guide to consumers, the Australian standard laid down in 1985 requires a content of at least 30 per cent terpinen 4-ol and 15 per cent cineole. The bottle should bear the words Melaleuca alternifolia. It does not matter if it is diluted provided the essential oil is pure and adheres to these standards.

Tea tree products

Apart from the essential oil, tea tree products include: gel, cream, hand and body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, foot spray and powder, soap, pessaries, toothpaste, insect repellant, antiseptic creams, mouthwashes, throat lozenges, pet shampoo.

 Tea Tree Pure Oil Thursday Plantation 10ml £9.50
Tea Tree Head Lice Kit Thursday Plantation 125g £14.44
Tea Tree Hair Conditioner Thursday Plantation 200ml £11.14
Tea Tree Scalp Shampoo Thursday Plantation 200ml £11.14
Tea Tree Antiseptic Cream Thursday Plantation 100ml £11.24
Tea Tree Foot Spray Thursday Plantation 50ml £11.67
Order from www.superfooduk.com and get 5% discount with the code: HSoul1

The spice of life

ginger
Root ginger

Spices are good for you, and they have many health benefits.    Turmeric is a wonderful spice with so many properties, especially in the fight against osteoarthritis (see below).  Spices are also used to preserve food and make it taste good.

At the end of this post there are lots of spicy supplements and products you can buy at www.superfooduk.com using the promotion code: HSoul1.

Most spices have similar health benefits because they warm the system. In Chinese Herbal Medicine (see Therapies) an imbalance in the energy flow is considered to be due to heat, coolness, damp, or dryness in the system in the way that old women complain about the cold getting into their bones.

The warming properties of spices help to relieve damp and cold and have many other health benefits:

Caraway

Babies have been reared on gripe water for over a century and many of them love it. Commercially made with dill, it can equally be concocted at home using caraway seeds.

Rosalind Blackwell, naturopath and herbalist, claims that caraway is very safe for anyone’s stomach and can ease gripey pains and other stomach problems.

Cardamom

Its pungent taste makes cardamom a popular spice with curry eaters, who sometimes eat it whole in their food. Chewing a cardamom pod can help to relieve indigestion and stomach pain, but the spice has many medicinal purposes too. It has been known to relieve asthma, bloating and travel sickness, boost circulation and alleviate symptoms of colds and flu.

Make a tea using crushed pods, or follow Deepak Chopra’s recommendation in his book, The Chopra Centre Herbal Handbook, of adding a pinch of cardamom powder to hot milk for a good sleep.

Cayenne pepper and chilli

The capsicum family encompasses peppers of all kinds – hot and mild. Cayenne is the ground spice from a hot chilli, which is rich in Vitamin C, and it can certainly induce sweating!

It is so pungent and hot that TCM practitioners use it for:

•warming the spleen and stomach
•eliminating damp and cold
•promoting appetite
•soothing digestive problems and vomiting
As a gel its warming effect eases rheumatic and muscular aches and the nerve pain of shingles.

Rosalind Blackwell claims, ‘I use the tincture of cayenne as a circulatory stimulant as it has a very warming effect.’

Cinnamon

Many British cooks use cinnamon regularly for its recognisable flavour in apple pies, mulled wine and curries. A particularly warming spice, it makes a good blend with turmeric and coriander for many types of ailment.

According to Rosalind Blackwell, ‘Cinnamon gets rid of all kinds of bugs, particularly in the gut and eases muscle spasms, but its properties are much stronger as an essential oil.’

Commonly used in a hot toddy to ease cold and flu symptoms, it has also been proven to fight E-coli and has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. A dash of cinnamon in a honey and lemon drink can ease a sore throat, or made into a tea with boiling water it can relieve period pain and muscle spasms.

Cloves

Any grandmother will tell you that oil of cloves soothes toothache by numbing the gum – just put some oil on a piece of cotton wool and place it near the tooth, but if it touches your lip it will really sting! Chewing a raw clove has the same effect if there is no oil in the house. Traditionally used to preserve meat, as a component of mulled wine and to flavour apple pies cloves can usually be found in the kitchen cupboard.

Essential oil of cloves also:

•Soothes insect bites;
•Is a good cold and flu fighter due to its antiseptic properties;
•Eases nausea.
Rosalind Blackwell suggests making an infusion of cloves in hot water or combining it with cinnamon and ginger in a tea to ease nausea and stomach problems, and relieve colds.

Cumin

These seeds of an umbrella-shaped plant are used in cooking whole or ground and they can be liberally added to food to give it a delicious curry flavour. The black variety was said by Mohammed to heal every disease ‘except death’.

Particularly it is known for:

•alleviating wind
•preventing blood platelets sticking together
•preventing clotting
•fighting bacteria
•protecting the heart
•relieving heartburn, indigestion and bloating.

Fenugreek

Often used in pickles, curries and garnishes, fenugreek has been recognised in medicine since Hippocrates’ time, particularly for its beneficial effect on blood glucose levels.

Deepak Chopra recommends a couple of teaspoons in the diet every day for anyone with diabetes or high cholesterol levels;
•Chinese herbal medicine practitioners use it to supporting the kidney function;
•The seeds can be ground or crushed in a cup of hot water to be drunk or used as a gargle for sore throats.

Ginger

Apart from its versatility in cooking, ginger can be kept in the fridge simply for its therapeutic benefits. Make a tea by chopping up about one inch of the root and infusing it in boiling water either in a pan over the heat or in a teapot.

•Drink it to relieve colds – adding garlic if you can bear it – or stomach problems;
•Ginger is anti-inflammatory, helps to improve circulation. Massage arthritic fingers with some warmed ginger oil in a base oil.
•In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is particularly used to fuel the system and warm it up, when there is too much cold and damp;
•For nausea or travel sickness a child can be given a ginger biscuit, cake, crystallised ginger or ginger ale as they all ease the symptoms.

Juniper berries

Most known as an ingredient of gin, juniper berries have been used in cooking and for medicinal benefits since ancient Egyptian times.

According to Rosalind Blackwell, ‘Juniper berries have traditionally been used to disinfect the urinary tract, particularly in cases of cystitis. It can irritate the kidney if used for a long time an infusion of berries in water should only be taken as long as the discomfort lasts.’

Mustard

It may be an old wive’s tale but you can’t beat a hot mustard footbath for easing the symptoms of colds such as blocked nose – just put some mustard powder into a bowl of hot water, put both feet in and relax! ‘It is particularly good for clearing phlegm too,’ Rosalind Blackwell explains.

‘I only suggest this to people who like it because it is an acquired taste, but a regular sandwich with mustard and meat could be helpful’. The Indian mustard plant (Brassicaceae) is believed to act as a magnet for essential minerals and metals in the soil, which we don’t get enough in our food these days.

Turmeric

Its bright yellow colouring has made turmeric useful for adding colour to rice, potatoes, mustard and sauces, and in primitive civilisations for dying clothes. A member of the ginger family, turmeric is familiar to us as a ground up powder, but it is now available in tablet form for medicinal purposes.

To extract the essential ingredient – curcumin – you need either alcohol or cooking in oil. The golden paste which is so good for arthritis in dogs and people involves heating up turmeric powder in water, and then adding coconut oil, and pepper – which is a vital ingredient to help the absorption in the body.

It has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antifungal properties, and is an anti-oxidant which means it fights damaging free radicals.   It is especially good for arthritis, general aches and pains, a healthy digestive system, and an all round boost to the immune system.

Deepak Chopra advises sprinkling it into organic honey and licking the teaspoon every two hours to ease sore throats, or for colds and flu making a tea of one half-teaspoonful of turmeric and some honey to sweeten works well!

Featured products
Wholistic Turmeric Pukka Herbs 30 capsules £15.19
Active Turmeric & Boswellia Pukka Herbs 30 capsules £15.19
Cardamom Oil Health Aid 15ml £7.99
Virgin Coconut Oil Pukka Herbs 300g £7.47
Cinnamon tablets Health Plus 60 x 500mg £8.95
Clove Oil Health Aid 10ml £9.19
Fenugreek capsules Nature’s Aid 90 x 500mg £10.07
Ginger essential oil Absolute Aromas 10ml £8.53
Ginger High Strength capsules Pukka Herbs 60 capsules £9.61
Three Ginger/Three Mint teabags Pukka Herbs      4 packets each of  20 teabags £11.63
Cleanse tea bags Pukka Herbs 20 teabags £4.86
Juniper Berry Oil Absolute Aromas 10ml £10.01

You can get 5% discount with the promotion code: HSoul1 by going to www.superfooduk.com

 

Rosemary key to long life in Italy

RosemaryA small village on the Cilentan coast, Acciaroli is home to a large community of centenarians – one in ten residents is over one hundred years old, and standards of health are excellent.

So what is the key? Conversely, they aren’t especially health-conscious either. Tobacco use is commonplace and so is alcohol consumption. They deny themselves no earthly pleasure: they’re not just living longer lives – they’re living what some might call the good life.

They found that, while the residents enjoy the benefits of a classical Mediterranean diet, they also consume large quantities of rosemary. Scientists and researchers investigating the longevity of Acciaroli’s elderly residents found that rosmarinic acid, the plant’s active ingredient, include:

• antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and memory-boosting qualities;View More: http://sofiagomezfonzo.pass.us/n1rosemarywater
• naturally forming glucosamine, which has been found to have joint-reinforcing qualities.

So David Spencer Percival gave up his day job as the boss of a recruitment company and developed No. 1 Rosemary Water a drink containing rosemary that provides all the health properties of the rosemary herb.

Aromatherapy oils

Many people know aromatherapy as a relaxing massage with oils. But it’s much more than that. You can use essential oils in a variety of ways:  in an oil burner, in massage oil, in the bath, in a spray bottle.  They can form part of your first aid kit when travelling.

See the wide range of aromatherapy oils at  Neals Yard by clicking here. 

Lavender oil – there’s so much you can do with it, especially on holiday. You can apply it to stings and bites to ease itching and soreness. You can put a few drops in the bath to relax before bed, or if you can’t sleep you can put some on a tissue and leave it close to your face. The soothing vapours help you to sleep, or you can use it in a spray bottle as air freshener or burn to create a relaxing and soothing atmosphere.

Tea tree is the other must-have oil  in my bag. It’s antiseptic and has a strong pungent ‘clean’ smell so it’s great for cleaning – put a few drops in water and clean up your phone, your computer and other surfaces or even your kitchen. Put a few drops in the bucket when you clean your floor or use it in the bathroom to dispel other odours. Tea tree is also antifungal and can be used diluted in water or in oil on athlete’s foot, or a few drops in a bidet or shallow bath are good for thrush. Both lavender and tea tree oils can be inhaled in steam when you have a cold, cough or flu. Boil the kettle and put the steaming water in a bowl with a few drops.

Essential oils can be inhaled in steam, used in a compress or poultice, massaged in, put in the bath, burned in an oil burner, put in a spray bottle, or used in water to clean. They are very strong and should not be taken internally. They should be dispersed with the hand in the bath and some people suggest mixing them in milk before adding to the bath.

Basil oil – just sniffing the bottle can switch your brain on

Bergamot made from the peel of bitter orange fruit and is a delightful smell. It is helpful for anyone feeling depressed or tired and irritable. It is antiseptic and can kill germs in the home

Chamomile is calming and can be used in an oil burner or on a tissue for a fraught young child

Citronella keeps flying insects away so burn a few drops in an oil burner with water and place on the table

Clary sage oil is great for period pains – mix in oil and massage on your stomach. It also eases depression – put on a tissue and breathe in the pungent aroma.

Clove oil is well known for easing severe toothache,but be careful to apply to the tooth because it’s very strong and stings the mouth

Cypress oil in water stems blood from haemorrhoids, particularly after having a baby

Eucalyptus oil is excellent for clearing blocked noses and can equally be put in the bath to steam.

Frankincense oil  is known for being uplifting, soothing stress and anxiety, and for its rejuvenating properties on the skin.

Geranium oil is calming and is a great oil to burn or disperse in the bath

Ginger oil helps to stave off travel sickness – just sniffing the bottle will do. It also helps to warm the muscles if you massage it in, and is great for circulation. Dilute very well.

Grapefruit oil is great for jet lag. Disperse a few drops in the bath

Jasmine oil is expensive but very uplifting and relaxing

Juniper oil has a reputation for slimming as it is a natural diuretic. A few drops in the bath can soothe a hangover or in massage oil it can ease aches and pains.

Peppermint  oil is an excellent oil for many conditions, but it is incredibly strong so be careful with it. It is excellent for nausea, but most experts do not advise taking internally. Maggie Tisserand in her book Aromatherapy for Women suggests putting two drops in a spoonful of honey and add hot water. You could also put a few drops in an oil burner and breathe in the vapours. Dispersed in water or lotions peppermint soothes and cools hot, red, and sore feet or athlete’s foot.

Mandarin oil in carrier oil helps to prevent stretchmarks and scars.

Rose oil is made from the petals of the flower, and has the most beautiful aroma.  It is an expensive oil but it is antiseptic and healing. It is also known to be uplifting and helpful for depression, stress or insomnia. Used diluted in a carrier oil it is particularly effective for the skin, smoothing out wrinkles and puffiness, and moisturising dry or sunburnt skin.

Rosemary oil wakes you up so the best way to use it is to have a bath and breathe in the vapours. It is also good for tired legs – so mix in a carrier oil and massage in.  Recent research has shown that rosemary oil enhances cognitive memory.

Thyme helps to ease a cough and can be sprayed in water to the back of the throat • •

Ylang ylang can ease depression, so keep some on a tissue tucked into your clothes so that you can breathe it in, or put a few drops in a bath.

Neals Yard Aromatherapy Oils. 

Top ten herbal remedies

Arnica, courtesy of A. Vogel (Bioforce)
Arnica, courtesy of A. Vogel (Bioforce)

The top ten herbal remedies are the ones most popular with the public. They provide a more natural alternative to drugs, and are often worth trying (but if you are on medication, check first with your doctor or a medical herbalist that you can take them).

Arnica:  the Arnica flower is native to the Alps but its qualities for healing bruises have been recognised for many years. It cannot be taken as a herb internally but is available as a homeopathic tablet. Arnica Gel or cream is excellent for healing bruises and also for soothing stiff joints, aching muscles and osteoarthritis.

Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum): found in the Kalahari desert the natives have traditionally used this herb for digestive complaints. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is therefore very suitable for arthritis, rheumatism and sports injuries. Fears that the herb would become extinct have been alleviated by schemes to grow it sustainably in southern Africa.

Echinacea, courtesy of A. Vogel (Bioforce)

Echinacea: taken as a tincture or tablets it boosts the immune system. The native Indians have used it for thousands of years to put on snake bites and other wounds. More often used now to help resistance to colds, flu and other infections, but has been proven in trials to be effective against respiratory infections.

Ginkgo biloba: from one of the oldest trees in the world the Ginkgo tree was one of the first prehistoric plants on the earth over 150 million years ago. Best known for enhancing circulation and thereby improving the memory it has other uses too. The leaves are used to make tinctures to improve circulation and the function of the brain as well as asthma. The seeds are used by Chinese doctors for urinary problems and wheezing. Read more in Boost Your Memory.

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus): good old conkers that so many children enjoy collecting have another use – they have excellent properties as an astringent to help to prevent and soothe varicose veins. It can be taken as a tincture or the gel can be rubbed into the legs.

St John’s Wort: has become a popular choice for depression but people have to be careful about taking it in conjunction with other medication or even with light boxes (that are used for Seasonal Affective Disorder – see Features, SAD). Also known as Hypericum which is used as a cream to heal wounds. is widely available through health food stores, chemists and at Nutricentre (see the Nutricentre ad). If you are taking medication you should always check with a registered medical herbalist or your doctor before taking herbs to ensure that they do not contraindicate.

Milk Thistle: protects the liver from toxic chemicals and is often useful around Christmas when over-indulgence is the norm. It is sometimes used when people have liver disease but can’t be used as a cure-all for heavy drinkers! It was called Milk Thistle because it was taken by nursing mums to help encourage the flow of milk.

Sage: is particularly recognised as being helpful for hot flushes. You can gather some leaves from the garden, put them in a teapot and sip them if you are going through the menopause or purchase a tincture or tablets. It is also helpful as a gargle for sore throats.

Saw Palmetto: originating in North America saw palmetto has been used by native Americans for thousands of years to help ease chronic congestion. Recent research has shown it to be effective for prostate problems in men without the side-effects of prescription drugs.

Valerian-Hops: 19th century poets and other creative types were known to use Valerian. Combined with unpollenated hops which are renowned for their calming qualities it is a useful herb for helping you sleep or for generally calming down without making you feel dopey in the day.

Source: A. Vogel

Featured Products
Aesculus Gel A. Vogel Bioforce 100g £9.15
Ginkgo biloba A. Vogel Bioforce 50ml £9.20
Aesculus Horse Chestnut Tincture A. Vogel Bioforce 50ml £9.20
Echinaforce Echinacea tincture A. Vogel Bioforce 50ml £9.20
Devils Claw Tincture A. Vogel Bioforce 50ml £9.20
Milk Thistle Compound Tincture with Dandelion & Artichoke A. Vogel Bioforce 50ml £9.20
Atrogel Arnica Gel A. Vogel Bioforce 100g £9.15
Saw Palmetto Viridian Nutrition 30 veg caps £8.70
Valerian Hops Complex (Dormeasan) A. Vogel Bioforce 50ml £9.20
St John’s Wort Organic Tincture Viridian 50ml £7.70
Saw Palmetto A Vogel Bioforce 50ml £9.20
Arnica 30c Nelsons 84 £5.89
Milk Thistle & Dandelion Root (Organic) Kiwiherbs 50ml £10.27
Menosan Sage tincture A. Vogel Bioforce 50ml £9.20
Echinacea Throat Spray A. Vogel Bioforce 30ml £8.65
To order these products go to www.superfooduk.com.  and put in the  promotion code: HSoul1 for a 5% discount.