Holiday health tips

Beach sceneThere are so many health issues that crop up when you go on holiday, particularly abroad, and especially with children too.  Whether it’s travel sickness, upset tummy, insect bites and stings, or too much sun, this helpful A-Z provides plenty of self-help tips for problems that don’t really need a doctor.

ALLERGIES

Foreign lands, strange foods, plenty of heat, insect bites, pollen, chemicals, dust, and cosmetics can all cause allergic reactions.  And if you are out in open spaces where there is plenty of grass you may suffer from hay fever in which case you can try Nelson’s Pollenna.

If there is severe reaction seek medical advice.

  • Apis mel homeopathic remedy for emergency relief to allergic reactions.
  • For burning watery eyes try Euphrasia homeopathic tablets.
  • Pulsatilla is for itchy eyes and blocked nose.
  • Arsen Alb soothes itchy and runny nose and sneezing.
  • Eye drops containing herbal Euphrasia can help sore eyes.
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BURNING

‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’ so don’t. As well as getting burnt you can get sunstroke with symptoms of dizziness, dehydration, raging headache and sickness.

The Aussies say: ‘Slip on a shirt, slap on a cap, and slop on some suncream’.

To prevent burning:

  • Use a high factor sun tan lotion but try to choose one that doesn’t contain a host of chemicals because there are fears that some lotions may have a part to play in skin cancers – see Environmental.
  • Wear cotton shirts even in water where you can still burn.
  • Cover up on cloudy days because the sun still burns.
  • Limit exposure to sun to morning and late afternoon.
  • Take a supplement like VitaCell that contains Vitamin E, beta-carotene and other antioxidants to make the skin more resilient to sun.

For burnt skin:

  • Put one or two drops of either Lavender or Tea Tree essential oils into a bath of cool water to soothe skin, or make a compress with a few drops diluted in one litre of water.
  • Cold compresses can also be made using vinegar, cold tea. cucumber juice.
  • Make a concoction of stinging nettles boiled and cooled and use in the same way.
  • Belladonna 30c is ideal for both sunstroke and sunburn and helps with beetroot skin to throbbing headaches and full blown delirium, according to homeopath, Sue Leach
  • If burning is not too intense try Cantharis.

Severe sunburn is a medical emergency.

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COLD SORES

Echinacea photo courtesy of A.Vogel Bioforce

 The ultra-violet rays of the sun are the biggest trigger for cold sores, but sunbeds also activate them too. They indicate a run down immune system.

To prevent:

  • Take regular Echinacea before holidays in the sun.
  • Eat plenty of garlic in the diet all the time to boost the system.
  • Use a lip cream which contains Propolis, which is made by bees to protect their hives from infection! To treat:
  • Take homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox 6c.
  • Apply Tea tree, Lavender or Eucalyptus oil.
  • Drink lemon balm tea – you can even grow your own!
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DEHYDRATION

Sweating in the heat, travelling on planes, or stomach bugs can all cause dehydration, which can be a very dangerous condition so if someone is shivering and going hot and cold take them to the hospital or a doctor.

To prevent:

  • Don’t spend long hours in hot sun in the middle of the day
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol
  • Drink plenty of water regularly.

To treat:

  • Try drinking coconut water which replaces fluids in the body.
  • Take China 30c homeopathic remedy to cope with loss of fluid due to diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Make up an Electrolyte Solution with 17 fl oz (500ml) of boiled water, 8 teaspoons of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt).
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EYES and EARS

Swimming pools and the sea can affect eyes and ears and cause infections.

Euphrasia courtesy of A.Vogel Bioforce

To soothe sore eyes :

  • Dilute a few drops of Euphrasia or Eyebright in water and apply to eyes on cotton pads.
  • Place cucumber slices on eyes – they’re deliciously cooling.

For ear problems:

  • Soothe earache with two drops of Lavender oil on cotton wool in the outer ear.
  • Inhale Olbas oil to prevent nose and ears blocking.
  • ‘If ears are popping on the plane,’ says Sue Leach, ‘Silicea is a good homeopathic remedy’.
  • ‘Pulsatilla 30c is better if ears hurt on the flight because of a cold.’
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 FATIGUE

Packing, travelling and arriving somewhere new all take their toll and it’s not uncommon to arrive feeling exhausted. Anyone who is working hard and burning the candle at both ends can lose half a holiday recovering!

Self-help tips:

  • Get plenty of sleep on holiday and avoid too much alcohol in the first few days.
  • Do some exercise daily – walking, swimming or yoga.
  • Spend at least one hour a day alone being calm and quiet.
  • Eat healthy foods – plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of water to drink.

Remedies:

  • Nux vomica 30c is good for anyone who is exhausted from too much work.
  • Have daily baths with a few drops of aromatherapy oils in – stimulating Basil, Rosemary or Lemon Grass, or better still ask your partner for a massage!
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 GERMS

Recycled air and other people’s germs on a plane can often result in illness on arrival at your destination. Add to that the stress of actually getting ready to go away and you could succumb to illness when you arrive.

To prevent:

  • Boost the immune system with Echinacea before and during the flight.
  • Coat the inside of nostrils with olive oil to protect from germs.
  • Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins.

To treat:

  • For bacterial, fungal or parasitical infection take 10 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract 2 to 3 times a day – it has an antibiotic effect.
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 HOT FEET

Hot feet can swell and become puffy while athlete’s foot is more prevalent in the sun.

  • Tea tree oil diluted in water or used in a natural lotion can prevent fungal infections.
  • Thuja tincture is good for soothing and healing athlete’s foot.
  • Bathe puffy feet in water with a few drops of peppermint oil, or foot lotion.
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INSECT BITES AND STINGS

Itchy, uncomfortable and unsightly insect bites and stings can also become infectious and make you ill.

To avoid :

  • Light Citronella candles to keep insects away.
  • Use a  herbal insect spray that doesn’t contain DEET to repel bugs and soothe bites –  for gnats, mosquitoes, midges, fleas, biting flies at home and abroad.
  • Put a few drops of Tea tree, Lavender, or Citronella oils in a water spray, or on the wrists and ankles – check that you are not allergic first!

To treat:

  • Apply coconut oil mixed with a couple of drops of lavender and neem oil to keep mosquitoes away and soothe bites.
  • Ledum is the number one homeopathic remedy for bites, according to Sue Leach. Take them every 15 minutes until swelling goes down.
  • For bee and wasp stings take Apis.
  • Soothe insect bites with neat Tea tree or Lavender oil – test first to see if allergic.
  • If nothing else is available put vinegar on a wasp sting.

Jellyfish stings

Very painful and rather shocking when you’re swimming.   The area goes very red and stings as if needles are being stuck in you. So here are some tips:

  • Get out of the water as quickly as possible.
  • Dowse skin with neat vinegar if you can – this works amazingly quickly. The pain goes almost immediately and the redness slowly wears off.
  • If there’s no vinegar you can pee on it – lots of old wives’ tales about this such as male urine is better. It’s obviously to do with the acid as with vinegar, so definitely try it out if there’s a shortage of  vinegar!

 

  • For jelly fish stings remove the tentacles and immerse in hot water.
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JET LAG

Long-haul flights can cause: tiredness, depression, lack of concentration, constipation, and disturbed sleep as the body clock takes time to adjust.

  • On long haul flights Cocculus 30c helps with sleep deprivation – take one tablet every four hours, Sue Leach advises.
  • Arnica 30c helps the body deal with the shock of travelling between time zones – again every four hours.
  • Olive is a good flower remedy to cope with the change your body is going through.
  • Put Neroli (if you can afford it!) or Lavender oil on a tissue and breathe in to induce sleep.
  • On arrival bathe with few drops of Grapefruit, Rosemary, Juniper or Lemongrass oils in water to refresh you.
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KIDS’ CUTS AND GRAZES

Children get into scrapes wherever they are and holidays are a prime time for them to get cuts and grazes.

  • Arnica gel or cream is great for rubbing on bruises particularly after a hard day on the slopes.
  • Take Arnica homeopathic tablets for bad bruises – take regularly until the colouring has gone. For broken skin try Calendula cream or Hypercal which is a combination of healing Hypericum and soothing Calendula.
  • Rescue Remedy cream soothes most cuts and grazes.
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 LIGHT-HEADEDNESS

A mixture of sun and alcohol can cause headaches,light-headedness or sheer exhaustion.

  • If you are hung over or feel generally light-headed try Nux vomica 30c homeopathic remedy.
  • Have a refreshing bath with a few drops of Lavender, Rosemary or Juniper oils.
  • Sip peppermint tea – but not if taking homeopathic remedies as it reduces their effectiveness.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly into your diaphragm.
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MIGRAINES

The sun, alcohol, tension, long distance travelling, and general stress can bring on a severe headache. The best way to stop a migraine is to nip it in the bud before it becomes intolerable.

  • Rub lavender oil on the temples, or any other combination of oils such as Migrastick which contains both peppermint and lavender oils – but don’t get near eyes or they will pour!
  • Take peppermint tea bags on holiday and sip at first signs of headache.
  • A good dip underwater can often clear out the sinuses and stop a headache in its tracks.

Once it strikes:

  • Both Migrastick and 4Head can help – you rub them directly on the skin, but because they contain strong oils they can make your eyes run if too near so be careful how you apply them.
  • For a throbbing headache, redness sensitivity to light and noise try Belladonna 30c homeopathic remedy.
  • For headaches due to a mixture of sun and alcohol, take the homeopathic remedy, Glonoin 30c.
  • When headache is accompanied by feeling sick Nux vom 30c sometimes does the trick.

Sometimes it’s too late to stop a migraine and it may not go away until after you’ve been sick, so don’t hold back!

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 NERVES

Last minute panics and worries about your destination can cause nervous diarrhoea.

  • Take Argent Nit, or Gelsemium homeopathic remedies if you are paralysed with fear.
  • For nervous air passengers put a few drops of Bach Flower’s Rescue Remedy on the tongue .
  • Take Arnica tablets if feeling shocked and traumatised – if this happens every time, start taking before leaving home.
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OVER-INDULGENCE

You don’t have to go away to suffer from indigestion and a bloated stomach – picking at barbeques can make stomachs uncomfortable.

  • Nux vom is a good homeopathic remedy if your stomach feels uncomfortable.
  • Peppermint tablets or tea are excellent for good digestion, relaxing the muscles in the gut and soothing pain and wind, but don’t take with homeopathic remedies as it reduces their effectiveness.   Even sniffing peppermint oil can take away feelings of nausea.
  • Slippery elm is a good indigestion remedy – herbal and totally natural.
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PRICKLY HEAT

For some people the heat and sun brings out an irritating rash which ‘prickles’ the skin.

  • Put a few drops of Lavender oil in a luke warm bath to soothe the rash – disturb the water with your hand to disperse the oil.
  • Take Cantharis homeopathic remedy for intense irritation, made worse by the sun.
  • Aloe Vera gel can be very soothing – preferably straight from the plant.
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QUEASINESS

There could be several reasons for feeling sick or queasy when you’re away – it may be due to food, the heat, the change of climate, jet lag, not enough sleep, jet lag, or even yearning for home!

  • For constipation and nausea take Nux vom 30c.
  • With headache and strong thirst try Bryonia 6c.
  • For travellers constipation use Nat mur 30c.
  • Peppermint oil on a tissue or in tablets can quell queasiness (never take homeopathic remedies with peppermint).
  • For home sickness Bach Flower RemedyHoneysuckle – a few drops in water or on the tongue three times a day.
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RASHES

There can be all types of rashes that crop up when you’re on holiday. Check what you are doing that is different from normal – for example, is it your suncream? If you suspect that it is, change the brand. We suggest natural suncreams which don’t include harsh chemicals, such as those containing aloe vera.  Or it could simply be the sun – see Prickly Heat above, or it might be the sea!  Try to make sensible changes before going to a doctor, who might give you strong corticosteroid creams.   A homeopathic remedy, such as Graphites, can ease

 

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STRESS

Packing and organisation before you leave home can leave you feeling stressed on the journey there. Add to that travelling and arriving somewhere new it’s not difficult to feel completely frazzled.

  • If young kids are whining and being annoying give them Chamomilla 30c – it’s a safe homeopathic remedy and they’ll probably like the sugary taste.
  • On arrival relax in a bath with a few drops of Geranium or Lavender oil.
  • If feeling weepy and fed up use Ylang Ylang or Clary Sage oils in the bath or in a tissue tucked in your collar.
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 TRAVEL SICKNESS

Motion sickness can happen in a car, boat, or plane but is much worse on an empty stomach. It’s important for all the family to have a light meal before setting off on a journey.

  • Cocculus 30c is described by Sue Leach as the ‘perfect remedy for sickness brought on by reading in the back of a car or feeling green on a boat’.
  • Nux Vomica can calm the stomach after vomiting.
  • Sniff Ginger oil, sip ginger tea (if possible), or buy ginger tablets.
  • Other teas which may help – Chamomile and Peppermint (peppermint should not be taken with homeopathic remedies).
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UPSET STOMACH

Over half of Britons who travel abroad come back with some kind of stomach upset – from mild diarrhoea to serious bugs.

There are several ways to prevent stomach bugs:

  • Build up resistance before going away with Probiotics which populate the gut with ‘friendly’ bacteria.
  • Do not eat lukewarm food – it should be hot or chilled!
  • Don’t have a meal in restaurants where there are lots of flies around the food.
  • Wash hands before eating.

To treat discomfort and vomiting:

  • Take homeopathic remedy, Arsenicum Alb 30c for upset tums, particularly if exhausted from vomiting, restless and anxious.
  • Carbo veg 30c is good if you are ‘bent double with stomach cramps and laid out with pain,’ Sue Leach says.

Severe food poisoning requires medical attention.

Slippery Elm is good for indigestion when taken after a meal.

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VACCINATIONS

For cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, polio and malaria seek advice from a homeopath about vaccinations. You need to take expert advice about areas where these diseases are rife and can be deadly. There are some remedies that can be taken in areas where there is less of a risk, but you need to check that your travel insurance will cover medical costs if you don’t have the recommended vaccinations.

  • Even if having vaccinations, take Echinacea, garlic and Vitamin C to build up the immune system before and during the trip.
  • There are some homeopathic remedies to prevent Hepatitis, Tetanus and Malaria, but make sure you speak to a homeopath direct or to a company like Helios.

For more information contact:

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 WATER

Meat and seafood may be common culprits where food poisoning is concerned, but in many countries it’s the water that hasn’t been properly treated which makes you ill.

  • In hot countries drink mineral water in bottles unless you are advised that tap water is definitely safe.
  • In undeveloped countries only drink boiled water.
  • If travelling in the East steer away from salads and peel fruit to avoid the water which has been used to clean them.
  • Never accept ice in suspect countries!

XHAUSTION

Long journeys, hot climates, and a change of setting can be tiring at first.

  • Siberian Ginseng can perk you up – it might be good to take before you go on holiday but don’t take when pregnant.
  • Arnica 30c may be well known for bruising but it’s also a good remedy for physical exhaustion.
  • Revitalise with a few drops of Geranium or Rosemary oil in the bath.
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 YEAST

Too much yeast in the body can cause Candida which results in bloated stomachs or thrush. Anyone who is prone to thrush and fungal infections may find they get worse in hot countries with exotic foods washed down with plenty of local wine.

  • Take Probiotics before going away and during the holiday to populate the gut with healthy bacteria and strengthen resistance.
  • Calendula and tea tree creams can be used to soothe itching of thrush or any fungal infections.
  • Live natural yoghurt can be eaten regularly, and applied to a tampon to cool down an irritated vagina.
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Passiflora courtesy of A.Vogel Bioforce

ZZZ

Nerves and excitement combined with a strange bed and jet lag can seriously upset sleep patterns.

  • Try to get back to normal by going to bed at the right time for the country you’re in.
  • Passiflora or Valerian are herbal remedies which can promote a relaxed night.
  • Put a few drops of Lavender or Neroli oil in a hot bath before bedtime.
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HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY

Painkillers not best for headaches

Ironically and not before time NICE (the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) has reported that one of the most common causes of headaches is overuse of medication.  They advocate (quite surprisingly) that acupuncture is the only proven method to treat tension headaches and migraine and that it should be prescribed by doctors.

Those who take pills such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen for at least ten days a month over three months are said to be at particular risk of ‘medication  over-use headaches’, as they’re called.

Rhiannon Griffiths, acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member says: ‘Acupuncture helps chronic headaches and migraine by treating both the painful and debilitating symptoms at the moment they occur, as well as the underlying root cause in the long term. The root cause may be a deficiency in the body, typically exacerbated by overwork, working long hours, burning the candle at both ends or a lack of proper rest and nourishing food.’

Acupuncture is a great way of dealing with headaches, but not the only one.  Osteopathy, chiropractic and Alexander Technique can be very helpful as the problem often emanates from tension in other parts of the body.

• Regular exercise helps to prevent headaches, particularly yoga, Pilates or T’ai chi which are relaxing and alleviate tension.

• Drink plenty of water (between 6 and 8 glasses a day) as dehydration is a major cause. • Avoid caffeine, chocolate or cheese if they trigger headaches in you.

• Skipping meals induces headaches, so always eat regularly and have healthy snacks in between meals.

• Drink herbal teas, particularly peppermint, when you feel a headache coming on.

• Try coconut water – natural replaces fluids in the body and is very refreshing.

Water, water everywhere

Nutrition consultant and independent consultant to the Natural Hydration Council, Dr Emma Derbyshire, said:  ‘We are at the greatest risk of dehydration when we are too hot or too dry, have limited access to water, or need more water than usual – such as in warm or dry environments. Make sure you always have access to water, even when out and about, and consider bottled water when you are on the move. If in doubt of advice, the Food Standards Agency provides a useful guide of 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day for the average person.’

Osteopathy and Migraines

Hector Wells an osteopath and member of the British Osteopathic Association runs a daily headache clinic in Banbury, Oxfordshire, ‘Headaches and migraines tend to start due to tension often in one of three areas of the body – tension in the pelvis, in the diaphragm or in the head and neck. Often the tension is greater on one side of the body and very often I’ve found that a migraine begins as a person starts trying to relax – a lot of headaches are associated with the start of relaxation.’

• Pelvic-led headaches can be caused by periods, following childbirth or an injury to the sacrum.

• Diaphragm-led  – food poisoning, abdominal surgery, tension/stress related – quite often accompanied with a tight shoulder more commonly the left – left or right shoulder tension is often symptomatic of  diaphragm tension.

• Head/neck led headaches – left or right imbalance, neck tension, postural problems or following an injury – whiplash or banging your head.

‘Some people never quite relax, and perhaps don’t even realise this. If someone suffers from headaches it’s because tension has built up in a particular area of the body causing an imbalance.’

Although massage can help relieve tension an osteopath actually seeks the cause and will align the body to balance the left and right sides, helping it return to its natural state. Osteopaths work in conjunction with existing healthcare and medication and many patients are able to move away from medication altogether when receiving osteopathic treatment.

Try Migrastick to stop a headache in its tracks – it contains essential oils of lavender and mint. You rub the stick on your head where it hurts and it helps to ease the pain. Click here to purchase. 

Hector Wells’ tips

• When suffering from a headache something as simple as a cold face flannel or using a water spray on the face can make a difference. Cold items on the face encourage the body’s parasympathetic system to release tension

• If you’re suffering from sinus headaches stand in the shower and let water run down your face. Pinch your nose at the bridge and push it from left to right, breathing at the same time, whilst the water runs down. Gradually change the direction and the pressure on bridge of the nose – this should help clear the sinuses

• When headaches are caused by diaphragmatic tension lower in the body, often associated with heart burn or indigestion it helps to put a heat pack on the front and back of the diaphragm and drink a warm drink at the same time to help relieve the tension and get your body to a relaxed state.

To find a registered practitioner in your area, call the British Acupuncture Council on 020 8735 0400 or visit www.acupuncture.org.uk

To find a BOA member near you visit www.osteopathy.org

For more information see the Essential Guide to Hydration factsheet

 

 

 

 

Cut the drugs bill with complementary therapies

Wouldn’t the government love to cut the £8.2 billion spent every year on drugs? Wouldn’t it be great if doctors offered you some alternatives –  acupuncture  for the pains in your joints (instead of drugs), reflexology for your problems with conceiving (instead of fertility drugs), or chiropractic for your bad back (instead of anti-inflammatories), or hypnotherapy for your anxiety (instead of anti-depressants)?  

Despite the fact that 50 per cent of the British public have tried complementary therapies, there is still a concerted campaign by certain parts of the media and medical establishment to quash them, citing lack of evidence. The public, however, is not so concerned with scientific evidence (provided there are no safety implications, which in the case of gentle therapies there are not) and they just want something that makes them better.

Many people are driven to complementary therapies because there of lack of success with conventional treatments. For example, IBS, cystitis, multiple sclerosis, indigestion, headaches, CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), migraines, eczema, asthma, infertility, back pain, arthritis, anxiety, and so the list goes on, are not always that well resolved with drugs, which tend to suppress symptoms rather than cure them.  However, they normally have to pay for them.

Lots of people choose to try acupuncture, nutrition, reflexology, homeopathy, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, in addition to their conventional treatments, or some prefer the more natural approach.   As the programme The Food Hospital has shown changing your diet can do wonders for your health.  And there are no side-effects, so what can you lose? If you try it and it works you’re better, if it doesn’t you haven’t damaged your immune system or encountered unpleasant side-effects.

A few enlightened practices offer access to therapies, and acupuncture is quite widely available on the NHS. Read our articles: Complementary Therapies on the NHS; NHS provision of complementary therapies: Visionary healthcare.