Is There A Doctor In The House?

Throughout January I have been suffering with illness. Having contracted the influenza virus, which there is nothing that modern medicine can do for, I then contracted bronchitis which needed treating with penicillin, and once that was over the common cold joined the party! This has caused me to look at the practice of home remedies.

‘Nature itself is the best physician’ – Hippocrates

  • Ginger: Used for thousands of years in Asian medicine to treat stomachaches, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.
  • Honey: Helps soothe a cough and ease a sore throat due to its potent antibacterial effects and high amount of antimicrobial compounds. Local honey can ease hay fever symptoms as it is made from the local pollen. Don’t give honey to an infant or a toddler younger than 1 as there a risk of a rare kind of food poisoning that could be dangerous for them.
  • Mint: Peppermint oil eases gut conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and constipation. As well as being good for headaches and nausea. 
  • Garlic: Used for centuries for its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal effects, which means it fights bacteria and viruses, and stimulates the immune system helping you avoid illness and recover faster when you get sick. It can also lower the risk of certain types of cancer, and lowers blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
  • Tea: Hot tea acts as a natural decongestant, helping clear the sinuses of mucus (not too hot that it irritates the throat). It contains polyphenols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and even some anti-cancer effects. Tannins are a type of polyphenol that are antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal. Black tea can inhibit the bacteria growth in the throat, and echinacea tea may shorten the length of the cold or flu.
  • Green tea: Contains powerful antioxidants that protect body cells from damage and help fight disease. It lowers the risk of heart disease and certain kinds of cancers.
  • Coconut water: Provides the fluids, glucose, and electrolytes you need to stay hydrated while sick. It helps re-hydrate after exercise and mild cases of diarrhoea. It contains antioxidants that fight oxidative damage, and may also improve blood sugar control, but it can cause bloating.
  • Bananas: These are a good source of nutrients and soluble fibre, which can help relieve diarrhoea. 
  • Yogurt: This is a good source of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals, and is easy to eat. Some contain probiotics, which can help strengthen the immune system, so you get sick less often and get better faster.
  • Oatmeal: This is a good source of nutrients and easy to eat. It stimulates the immune system and improves blood sugar levels. It contains beta-glucan (a type of fibre) that decreases inflammation in the gut, relieving symptoms such as intestinal cramping, bloating, and diarrhoea. 
  • Fruit: Many fruits contain flavonoids called anthocyanins that fight viruses and bacteria, and stimulates the immune system. Anthocyanins inhibit common viruses and bacteria from attaching to cells, while stimulating the immune system. The best sources are strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Berries have excellent anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-boosting effects.
  • Vegetables: Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and kale are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, as well as being great sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. They contain beneficial plant compounds too that act as antioxidants, which protect body cells from damage and help fight inflammation.
  • Salmon: This is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, which fights inflammation and boosts the immune system.
  • Hot bath: This soothes muscles, bones, and tendons, easing the effects of arthritis, back pain, and joint pain. Warm water stimulates blood flow to areas that need comfort. Gently stretching while in the bath will also help to relieve symptoms. Steam from a hot bath helps stuffy noses and bad coughs. Congestion is caused by inflammation of nasal passages, and steam improves blood circulation, which helps the immune system to flush out viruses. It also loosens any mucus. Don’t make it too hot, especially if you have a skin condition, with the ideal temperature between 33 – 37 degrees Celsius.

Easy decongesting bath infusion: Add 1 cup of sea salt, 1 cup of Epsom salt, and 10 drops of eucalyptus oil to warm running water, mix well and relax.

Note: Please talk with your doctor or pharmacist before trying any home remedy, especially if you take prescription or over-the-counter medications, because some can affect how drugs work.

‘The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind’ – Paracelsus 

Courage

New year, new start, new business, new nerves. Being scared is just an extension of fear that we allow to get the better of us. I came across this lovely phrase; 

‘Courage is fear that has said its prayers’ – Richard Montanari

Courage is defined as ‘a quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty’. It can be divided into 4 types:

  • Moral; the courage to stand up for what you believe in.
  • Intellectual; the courage to challenge old concepts and to act upon new ideas.
  • Disciplined; the courage to focus despite distractions.
  • Empathetic; the courage to feel and care for others above your own biases. 

Courage facilitates a person to work wholly, from the head, heart, and gut, for the greater good.

‘In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.’ – Lewis Carroll 

Ways to show everyday courage:

  • Say ‘no’ – Putting yourself first occasionally is healthy, lowering stress and anxiety.
  • Ask – Speak out, ask for things that you need because others might not realise that you need help and may surprise you.
  • Love – Be brave with your emotions, it might be reciprocated. 
  • Let go – Holding onto pain is toxic to the mind and body, don’t let pain be part of your identity or hold you back.
  • Be you – Defy the norm, try something new, and listen to your heart.

A little daily stress is fine but the long-term effects of stress on the body include:

  • Feeling easily agitated, frustrated, moody, overwhelmed, fatigued, and anxious.
  • Forgetfulness, inability to focus, poor judgement, pessimistic.
  • Suffer with low self-esteem, depression, and nervousness.
  • Avoiding others and responsibilities.
  • Headaches, chest pain, rapid heartrate, high blood pressure, ulcers, stroke.
  • Tense muscles, unable to relax, insomnia.
  • Frequent colds and infections.
  • Exhibit poor appetite, nervous behaviours such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing.
  • Poor skin such as psoriasis and eczema, also hair loss. 

If you are suffering with stress please see your doctor, who can evaluate the symptoms and recommend the best course of action for you. 

Massage effectively reduces stress by initiating relaxation, which is an involuntary response of the nervous system. The heart-rate slows and breathing deepens, which lowers blood pressure and decreases the production of cortisol (the stress hormone). Muscles are then able to relax, and the body promotes an increase in serotonin (the happy hormone).

A tip for at home to relieve anxiety is to sit comfortably, close your eyes, touch the spot between your eyebrows and apply a firm pressure in a circular motion for 5 minutes, breathe slowly and deeply while you do this. 

Remember sometimes a mistake is a good thing and can bring some happiness. Here are some bloopers found in actual church bulletins (taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul):

  • The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind, and they can be seen in the church basement Friday afternoon. 
  • There is a collection to repair the church carpet. All those wishing to do something on the carpet will please come forward to get a piece of paper.
  • Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.

We have been given a spirit not of fear but of power and love, which will support each of us through the difficult decisions, guiding us to do what is right for us; just believe in yourself – and say your prayers!

What is massage and reiki?

Massage:

Massage is the therapeutic practice of manipulating the body’s muscles and limbs to ease tension and reduce pain. It is effective in easing the symptoms of disorders and pain in the muscles and nervous system, being a beneficial treatment for tense muscles resulting from stress. It is a method of healing that stimulates the blood circulation and the lymphatic system to help assist and clear the body of toxins.

Benefits of massage:

  • Reduces stress
  • Relieves muscular tension
  • Improved posture and better breathing
  • Increases Circulation
  • Improves skin quality
  • Improves mobility
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves the immune system
  • Better digestion
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Detoxifying

Aftercare advice:

  • Drink plenty of water (to help detoxification)
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine for at least 24 hours
  • Eat something sweet if feeling woozy
  • Eat a light meal
  • Take gentle exercise (postural exercises assist mobility)
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep warm

Occasionally you may experience the following reactions upto 48 hours after a massage, these are uncommon but perfectly normal as your body is expelling toxins:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Increased urination/defecation
  • Increased thirst
  • Tired/achy muscles

If any of the above symptoms persist please seek advice from your doctor.

Reiki:

Reiki was developed in 1922 by Mikao Usui in Japan. Originally as a technique called palm healing or hands-on healing. This technique uses a universal energy that is said to be transferred through the palms. This universal energy is known as qi (pronounced, ‘chi’) in Reiki. In other related therapies it is referred to as the Western notions of humours, prana in Hindu, ruah and nefesh in Judaism, chi in Igbo, pneuma in ancient Greece, Hawaiian mana, lüng in Tibetan Buddhism, and indigenous America had manitou.

Universal energy is considered to be the basis of existence. It sustains all life. Found in the electromagnetic energy of the sun to photosynthesis in plants. So, taking a more scientific view at this concept, we can relate it to the electrical impulses of the body. For example, in a typical human, the cerebral cortex contains approximately 15-33 billion neurons, each connected by synapses to several thousand other neurons, communicating via axons carrying electrochemical signal pulses, called action potentials, which reach all over the body; potentially, reiki could be thought to be stimulating the flow of electrochemical energy with the human body.

Similar therapies include therapeutic touch (developed in the 1970’s by Dora Kunz and Dolores Krieger) where the client’s universal energy is manipulated. Also, laying on of hands, which is a religious practice of Christianity, where the Holy Spirit is invoked for spiritual and physical healing (uses contact). 

Reiki translates as ‘spirit energy’. The spirit is further defined as ‘a person’s emotions and character; the soul’, which effects their ‘mood, attitude, temperament, nature, and typical attitude’. The objective of reiki is to use physiology (the study of functions and mechanisms within a living system) to work the qi in order to help the client’s condition. It aims to promote good well-being. 

The safety concerns for practicing are akin to many complementary therapies, which are low. It is considered safe for most people to use complementary therapies, and also alongside other medical treatments, i.e. cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy are often encouraged (by and with the consent of their doctor) to use complementary therapies to help them generally feel better.

With reiki, ultimately, it is the client who heals their own self. The therapist acts as a human energy conduit, in order to support the client’s own immunological response. 

It must be noted that the safety and legal concerns for all complementary therapies to be aware of are that theses treatments may be natural but they can cause harm if administered incorrectly. Indirect harm can be done through poor knowledge of the practitioner, causing dangerous side effects, i.e. feverfew can cause miscarriage in pregnant women. Drug interaction must also be considered, i.e. gingko and chamomile can increase the risk of bleeding in those taking anticoagulants (including aspirin). Consultations with perspective clients must be undertaken and be thorough. Clients should never give up or substitute medicine or treatments prescribed by their doctor for alternative procedures.