As I write this it seems the sun has finally decided to make an appearance - and boy is it toasty today! So let's have a little look at some first aid remedies for surviving the summer months and beyond.
Burns - For minor burns my absolute favourite remedy has to be lavender essential oil. This can work very quickly to relieve pain and aid tissue repair. It can be applied neat to the skin (but always patch test, some people may be allergic) or added to a cold water bath for the burned area. Honey is another traditional remedy to apply. Homeopathic remedies of use include cantharis - for pain creating restlessness, hypericum - nerve pain, and urtica urens - for prickly, stinging pain.
Sunburn - It is important we make the most of our summer months and top up our vitamin D levels, so I'm a great believer in getting bare skin out there for short bursts as often as possible. Then it's time to cover up before we start to singe. If you do get caught out, keep a pot of Aloe Vera gel with some added lavender oil chilling in the fridge - wonderfully soothing to sunburn and makes a good general after-sun moisturiser for the skin. Another great way to cool off is a chilled bottle of rose water spritzed on the skin - cooling, calming and a delightful scent to boot.
Bruising - Soak cotton wool or a flannel in good quality vinegar and apply to the bruise as soon as possible for 20-30 minutes. Comfrey cream is also excellent for helping to heal bruises - apply regularly. The homeopathic remedy arnica can be useful for all kinds of physical trauma - it is often taken before and after operations as an aid to healing. For a little aroma help, add a few drops of lavender and/or helichrysum essential oil to cold water or the vinegar soak. These oils can also be added to a base cream or oil or, indeed, the comfrey cream.
Summer Survival—First Aid
Cuts - Always clean cuts well. Salt water or marigold (calendula) tincture/tea can be used for this. To halt bleeding powdered cayenne or yarrow can be sprinkled on the cut - use with care (especially the cayenne - not something you want to accidentally get into sensitive tissues or the eyes!). Honey and colloidal silver are useful anti-septic's to apply to wounds. I would certainly never be without a bottle of colloidal silver in my house. I have seen it work wonders for pretty nasty cuts and wounds. It is also a useful bug busting remedy to use at the first sign of the sniffles - a spray bottle is a handy way to apply to the skin or onto sore throats.
Sprains/Strains - Got a little overzealous with the gardening? Pulled a muscle weeding and pruning? Start with ice packs and vinegar compresses. Homeopathic arnica is the go to remedy for trauma and it is often recommended to be taken immediately and for several doses until the swelling starts to subside. Then people may chooses to switch to either rhus tox - to alleviate stiffness and aid general healing, or ruta grav - a general remedy for injuries to tendons, muscles and joints. An aromatherapy blend of ginger (anti-inflammatory), rosemary (to aid circulation) and juniper (to assist the lymphatic system in removing waste from the injured area) can be useful to support the body’s repair mechanisms. Try roughly 2 drops of each essential oil in 10ml of base oil and apply at least three times a day (always patch test before first use!).
Hayfever - Lots of lovely remedies for this common condition exist and here's a few of my favourites. Great anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines include quercetin (found in apples and onions as well as supplements), nettles and good old vitamin C. Combination H in the tissue salt is an all rounder. Homeopathic Euphrasia is particularly useful for eye irritation. The anti-oxidant Pycnogenol is another great choice which may also be useful for asthmatics.
I hope you're enjoying our summer whatever the weather! See you next month.
My Gran made the best cakes. One of my all time favourites was her apple cake. I've made it myself and everyone loved it!
Pre-heat oven to 160c/320f/ gas mark 3
Cream the butter and sugar, add the syrup and mix well.
Beat eggs in a little at a time, add flour and mixed spice.
Add apples and make sure they mix in and well distributed.
Bake for 1 hour or til cooked and risen.
Leave to cool.
Spread with honey and sprinkle a little demerara sugar then serve.
Bara Brith is a traditional welsh teabread. In Welsh 'Bara Brith' means speckled bread.
Measure the currants, sultanas and sugar into a bowl. Pour over the hot tea, cover and leave overnight.
Pre-heat the oven to 150c/300f/gas mark 2.
Lightly Grease and base line a 2lb/900g loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Stir the flour and egg into the fruit mixture, mix thoroughly then turn into the tin and level the surface.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 90- 105 mins or until well risen and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 10min before turning out leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
Serve sliced and buttered.
If you are a vegan you will definitely want to avoid eggs and all egg based products, as do some vegetarians. You may also want to stick to an egg free diet if you have an allergy or intolerance to the allergen in the egg protein. Eggs are used for so many things under so many guises (like egg albumen)
Egg allergy usually develops in babies and young children, and many children grow out of it in a few years. However Egg allergy can continue into adulthood especially if you suffer from other allergies. Symptoms can show themselves within minutes and can include a rash around your mouth, swelling in the mouth or face, sneezing and wheezing, and vomiting. It is common for it to seem like the throat is closing up. If the allergy is severe, egg allergy can cause anaphylactic shock. These days it is easy to spot and avoid eggs in your diet as a new law came out in 2005 stating that if a food contains eggs it must be stated in the cautions panel of the label as egg can cause anaphylactic shock and result in death.
Any egg ingredients hiding here?
Common foods you should avoid or look for an egg free alternative for are things like mayonnaise, cakes and pastries, batter and pancake products, custard, noodles, and other pastas, sauces, cookies, baking powder, waffles, pretzels, meringue, breaded foods and maybe even ice cream. You should be fine with Easter eggs though! These are the ingredients to look out for which are produced from eggs: albumin, globulin, livetin, lysozyme, or Simplesse (TM) sweetener.
Egg free alternatives
No need to panic though, there is an excellent selection of egg free foods and alternatives which can make you life a little easier. Here you will find egg free mayonnaise, custard powder, cakes, pasta, and even egg replacer to help you replace eggs in baking.
You don't have to add salt to food to be eating too much, roughly 75% of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.
High salt intake can cause high blood pressure, especially the older we get.
High blood pressure often has no symptoms, and it is estimated that in England about one in every three people who have high blood pressure don’t know it. But if you have it, you are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
Salt in our food can raise our blood pressure and aggravate heart disease or strokes. In our Western diet where processed foods feature so highly we eat far too much salt without even realising it. So if you want to begin to care for your heart by limiting your salt intake it can be difficult to know where to start.
Low Sodium Diet
A low salt or low sodium diet should, according to the Food standards Agency be limited to 6 grams of salt a day - around a single teaspoon. That may sound like quite a lot, but the average person eats between 8-11 grams a day. Labelling for low salt
We will only describe a product as low salt if the manufacturer has labelled it low salt. As this can be inconsistent & manufacturers may be talking comparatively please always check out the nutritional information for the actual salt used.
Foods that contain salt
Some foods are almost always high in salt because of the way they are made.
Other foods, such as bread and breakfast cereals, can contribute a lot of salt to our diet. But that’s not because these foods are always high in salt – it’s because we eat a lot of them.
High-salt foodsThe following foods are almost always high in salt. To cut down on salt, eat them less often or have smaller amounts:
Foods that can be high in salt
In the following foods, the salt content can vary widely between different brands or varieties. That means you can cut down on salt by comparing brands and choosing the one that is lower in salt. Nutrition labels can help you do this.
These foods include:
Why would I want to avoid sugar?
Intolerance or sensitivity to refined sugar is common, and it has been suggested that over a quarter of us are a little intolerant to this addictive substance that has no nutritional value other than to add calories.
To give a quick summary: sugar increases blood fat (triglyceride) levels; is packed with empty calories; encourages the growth of yeasts like those in candida albicans; it disturbs our blood sugar levels, which diabetics know all about; and it can effect a depletion of vitamins and minerals.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause serious health complications.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. They’re different conditions, caused by different things, but they are both serious and need to be treated and managed properly.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that plays a very important role in our bodies. After we eat, we begin to digest carbohydrates, breaking them down into glucose.
The insulin released by the pancreas moves glucose into our cells, where it is used as fuel for energy. It may help to understand that insulin is often described as a key, which open the doors to the cells, allowing glucose to enter. If we do not have enough insulin in our bodies, the glucose will stay in our bloodstream and can be deadly the higher the levels.
Type 1 Diabetes-
If you think you have a problem then please contact your doctor or a medical professional and get help.
Q: What are low calorie sweeteners?
A: These are ingredients used to sweeten foods – they can be split into two categories: bulk sweeteners and intense sweeteners. Bulk sweeteners are used when the volume that sugar would have normally given to a food is required as well as sweetness. They contain 2kcal/g whereas sucrose (normal table sugar) contains 4kcal/g. Intense sweeteners are sweeteners that are so sweet that only very small amounts are required to give a sweet taste, meaning they have no appreciable energy value. They can be up to 7000 times sweeter than sucrose.
Q: How do I spot a sweetener on a food label?
A: Food labels need to say on the main face if they contain added sugars and/ or sweeteners. Sweeteners are additives and will be labelled as such in the ingredients list. This will be either as a sweetener with its name or as an E number.
Below is a list of common sweeteners with their corresponding E numbers:
Aspartame - E951
Acesulfame K - E950
Saccharin - E954
Sucralose - E955
Maltitol - E965
Isomalt - E953
Sorbitol - E420
Some people prefer "natural" sweeteners over refined ones. In most cases, they are less refined than white sugar and may contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Here are some varieties of "natural" sweeteners;
Barley malt is a thick, dark, slow-digesting sweetener made from sprouted barley. It has a malt-like flavour. Some say barley malt is to beer as grapes are to wine. It is ideally suited to brewing for many reasons: Malted barley has a high complement of enzymes for converting its starch supply into simple sugars; it also contains protein, which is needed for yeast nutrition. Another important element is its flavour. Pure malt extract, which is relatively expensive, is sometimes adulterated with corn syrup, which is cheap. Barley malt extract (available in powder and liquid forms) is also used medicinally as a bulking agent to promote bowel regularity.
Brown rice syrup
Brown rice syrup is a naturally processed sweetener, made from sprouted brown rice. It is thick and mild-flavoured.
Also known as levulose and fruit sugar, fructose is the sweetest of all the simple sugars (e.g., glucose, fructose, galactose). Fruits contain between 1 and 7% fructose, although some fruits have much higher amounts. Fructose makes up about 40% of the dry weight of honey. It is also available in crystalline form, but its sweetness rapidly declines when dissolved in water. Fruit juice concentrates Fruit juice concentrates are made by cooking down peach, pineapple, grape, and pear juices to produce a sweeter, more concentrated product. The product is then frozen to increase shelf life.
Honey is a sweet substance made from plant nectar (sucrose) by the honeybee. The source of the nectar determines the colour, flavour, and texture of honey. Alfalfa and clover honey are the most common types, but blackberry, heather, and acacia honeys are also popular. Honey is sold in liquid or crystallized form, and is available raw or pasteurized. Commercial honey is heated to 150 to 160°F (65.5 to 71°C) to prevent crystallization and yeast formation. "Organic" or "raw" honey has not been heat-treated. About 40% of the sugar in honey is fructose. Honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores, the bacterium that causes botulism. Heat treatment is not sufficient to destroy C. botulinum spores, but the high sugar content of the honey prevents the spores from germinating, thus preventing the risk of deadly botulism. Normal adults are not at risk of botulism from eating honey; however, the gastrointestinal tracts of young infants (under one year of age) may promote spore germination. For this reason, infants under one year of age should not consume honey in any form.
Maple syrup is made from the boiled sap of sugar maple trees, primarily in the Northeastern United States and Canada. The taste and colour vary depending on the temperature at which the sap was boiled, and how long the sap was cooked. USDA Grade A maple syrup is the most popular grade for everyday use as a topping on pancakes, desserts, and other foods. It is usually made throughout most of the short syrup production season. Grade B syrup is generally made toward the end of the season, as the weather warms toward spring and the trees end their winter dormancy. USDA Grade B syrup is much darker and has a stronger flavour, which makes it more suitable for flavouring and cooking purposes. It is thought that this late season syrup contains more minerals.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that can effectively replace sugar or other sweeteners. Nowadays, it is mainly extracted from corn, although originally it used to be made from birch tree pulp. sweetener, in fact even the human body produces a few grams of xylitol each day. Chemically, xylitol is a polyol and unlike most sweeteners it looks and tastes almost exactly like sugar (please note I said almost). However, you should note that it's not a calorie free sweetener but it has 40% less calories than sugar.
Xylitol and Dental Care
Some of you if you read food labels you might have noticed that some of the sugars that are supposed to improve dental health contain xylitol. This is not a coincidence. Xylitol can have a beneficial effect for dental health especially when compared to sugar. The two main reason are:
Xylitol has been approved by the FDA almost 45 years ago and there have never been reported any side effects other than a mild laxative effect. After all it's a natural substance that we produce ourselves and we even consume anyway by eating various fruits.
Xylitol and Dogs
Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that the consumption of xylitol can be dangerous for dogs.
Xylitol for Diabetics
One of the most important parts of diabetes management includes blood glucose management. Sugar and other carbohydrates cause a rapid elevation of blood glucose levels. Xylitol on the other hand, has a low glycaemic effect (it has a glycaemic index of 7) and doesn't require insulin for its metabolism. Because of this it is considered a good sugar alternative for diabetic patients.(from- http://hubpages.com/hub/Xylitol)