A hand massage can help:
- Pain relief: The most common forms of arthritis in the hand are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. If you suffer from chronic arthritis in your hand, regular hand and wrist massage can reduce your pain and improve your grip strength.
- RSI: If you use your hands for repetitive tasks, such as typing, and you regularly experience pain or cramping, a hand massage could relax your muscles.
- Improve circulation: Stimulating circulation in your hands is important, especially if you suffer from a condition such as Raynaud’s disease, a painful condition of the fingers, toes and other areas, which is believed to be caused by a sharp and persistent contraction of a blood vessel, causing a marked reduction in blood flow to the fingers.
- Surgery and injury: Improving circulation in your hand is also important following surgery or after an injury, such as ligament sprains and muscle strains. Improved circulation to your injured tissues helps speed your healing by bringing more nutrients to the area of injury and removing the harmful metabolic byproducts that tend to accumulate in your tissues following trauma.
- Improve hand mobility: Hand massage helps loosen tight hand muscles, reduces scar tissue and adhesions that cause decreased finger and wrist mobility, and improves your hand’s various ranges of motion and flexibility.
The Hand Massage
You could put a flower essences mixture in the center of your palms before giving yourself a hand massage. Or mix a little essential oil in with some hand cream and rub into your hands before giving yourself the treatment. Not too much, otherwise your fingers will skid everywhere! Use the following steps:
- Begin your treatment by sitting quietly and closing your eyes. Take a few deep breaths as you still your body and focus your mind.
- Begin your hand massage by pinching the tips of each finger of your left hand (nail to back). Reverse and repeat this process on your right hand. The pressure applied to your fingers should be firm, but not painful. A few seconds for each fingertip will do.
- After pinching the tops your fingertips go back to each tip and pinch them again, this time squeezing from side to side.
- Vigorously rub from base to tip of each finger of your left hand, front and back plus sides. Reverse and repeat this process on your right hand.
- Tug each finger and thumb firmly.
- Using your right thumb and forefinger, firmly grasp the webbed area between your thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Keeping a firm hold, tug at the skin gently until the fleshy web snaps away from your grasp. Repeat this process for the areas between all your fingers. Reverse and repeat this process on your right hand.
- Turn your left hand palm down. Use your right thumb to massage the back of your hand. Massage the knuckles and in-between knuckle area first. Continue thumb massaging each area on the back of the hand. Reverse and repeat this process on your right hand.
- Cradle your left wrist (palm up) inside your right hand. Use your thumb to massage your inner wrist. This is an especially soothing massage for anyone who routinely uses their wrists in repetitive movements, such as computer work. Reverse and repeat this process on your right hand.
- Massage the palm of your left hand with your right thumb, knuckle or the blunt end of a crystal wand. Massage the fleshier mound areas more deeply. Reverse and repeat this process on your right hand.
- At the end of the session press your right thumb or the blunt end of a crystal wand
deeply in the center of your left palm. Reverse and repeat this process on your right hand. Take a few deep breaths and center yourself.
If you are a Reiki practitioner, activate your hand chakras before giving yourself a hand massage.
Supplements and Herbs
- Calcium levels tend to be lower in the bodies of women with PMS, and supplementation can help reduce bloating, depression, pain, mood swings, and food cravings.
- Magnesium calms the nervous system and improves mood, helps prevent weight gain, improves blood sugar balance, and can help reduce swelling of the hands and legs, breast tenderness, and abdominal bloating.
- Vitamin B6 can taken for 10−14 days before your period or if you have general stress symptoms.
- Chromium GTF may be taken for added help with cravings for sweet foods and general blood sugar imbalance.
- Hemp seed oil has a good balance of omegas 3, 6, and 9. It has been shown to increase GLA levels in the body significantly, thereby easing PMS.
- Linseed (flaxseed) oil) is good for dry skin or eczema.
- Vitamin E is indicated where there is breast tenderness.
- Vitex agnus castus can reduce PMS symptoms such as irritability, depression, headaches, and breast tenderness by improving progesterone levels in the body. For best results take in the morning before rising for four cycles.
- Dandelion leaf (capsule or tea) encourages the elimination of excess water, while maintaining potassium levels.
- Evening primrose oil is an omega-6 EFA involved in the metabolism of prostaglandins, which regulate pain and inflammation in the body. It can be helpful for breast tenderness and needs to be taken for about three months to be effective.
GENERAL NOTE: Avoid hormone-balancing herbs if you are on prescription hormonal medications.
Reduce the following:
- Table salt aggravates water retention and leads to bloating.
- Saturated fats and low-quality vegetable oils.
- Hydrogenated fats found in manufactured margarine and other processed foods.
- Refined sugar including fructose and artificial sweeteners.
- Limiting alcohol allows your liver to function more effectively; the liver is responsible for detoxing the body, including clearing excess hormones from the bloodstream. Alcohol consumption also contributes to blood sugar imbalance implicated in PMS.
- Simple carbohydrates found in sweets and refined foods.
Increase the following:
- Foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In particular, vegetables from the cabbage family (cruciferous vegetables) can increase the rate at which the liver changes oestrogen into a water soluble form that can then be easily excreted. The cabbage family includes all cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and radicchio.
- Organic foods, as they contain fewer hormones to interfere with the already turbulent confusion of hormones in your body.
- Grass-fed meat, dairy, and eggs, as they contain high levels of vitamin D and omega 3 fats.
- Wild-caught salmon graze on algae, a mineral-rich and easily absorbable protein substance (such as spirulina or chlorella), which helps to correct blood sugar and anaemia.
- Foods rich in calcium, in the form of milk and other dairy products, such as plain yogurt and cottage cheese.
- Legumes, including soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, mung beans, and aduki beans, contain important plant-based oestrogens known as phytoestrogens, which help balance the hormonal system.
- Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon and other oily fish, ground linseed, raw nuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and fresh cold-pressed oils like extra virgin olive oil and linseed (flaxseed).
Regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling, may help relieve PMS symptoms.
Many women have sleep problems during PMS. You can improve sleep by eliminating distractions in your bedroom (other than a lover!), including phones, computers, and TVs. If you still can’t get a good night’s rest consider taking a quick power nap during the day with a soothing lavender eye bag popped over the eyes.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is the name for a group of weakening medical complaints characterized by persistent fatigue and other symptoms that lasts for a minimum of six months.
Tips to Improve Energy
- Drink at least 1½ litres of water daily plus fresh juices to detoxify the body and reduce muscle pain and fatigue.
- If stress has played a major part in your life, your adrenal glands may be exhausted. A nutritional therapist can organise a laboratory test to investigate the levels of your stress hormones (cortisol and DHEA). Based on this information, symptoms can be improved with appropriate nutritional therapy.
- Foods to enjoy: beans and pulses, fresh vegetables, organic white meat, fish, seeds and freshly cracked nuts, organic brown rice and millet, natural yoghurt, yeast-free bread, oat cakes, rice cakes, cold-pressed vegetable oils (for dressings).
- Protein helps to build and maintain body tissue and balance the fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which could lead to fatigue. Protein can also alleviate pain and muscle weakness. Sources: lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans and rice.
- Many nutritional therapists have found that clients suffering from CFS respond well to an anti-candida diet so it might be worth getting yourself checked out for candida.
- Some experts suggest that CFS is linked to the immune system which may explain why certain foods could worsen symptoms. A good place to start when trying to identify food sensitivities is to keep a food diary of what you eat and when you experience the worsening of symptoms which could help you spot any patterns.
- Low blood sugar is common in CFS. Having blood sugar level tests may help eliminate this possibility.
- Foods to avoid: sugar, yeast, refined grains such as white rice and white flour products, malted products – some cereals and drinks, fermented products (vinegar, soya sauce, alcohol), most milk products, fresh and dried fruit (high in fructose), mushrooms, tea and coffee, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, fried foods.
- An inefficient digestive system can result in feeling sluggish. In order to avoid this, whole grains should be included in your diet to insure that the digestive system is kept moving e.g. brown rice, barley, quinoa, oatmeal and whole wheat.
Supplements and Herbs
Supplements that may be helpful in alleviating CFS symptoms:
- Antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid, vitamin E, vitamin C help protect cells from free radical damage and oxidative stress.
- Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifido bacteria enhance intestinal colonies of friendly bacteria.
- Milk thistle encourages detoxification.
- Siberian ginseng, vitamin B5 and vitamin C support the adrenal glands.
- Chromium and vitamin B3 have been shown to balance blood sugar.
- CoQ10 is a fat-soluble coenzyme and involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate, the cellular source of energy. In addition to reducing fatigue, CoQ10 may alleviate muscle weakness and pain and reduce cognitive dysfunction. Its role as a free radical scavenger may lead to improvement in immune responses.
- Essential fatty acids such as omegas 3 and 6, EPA, DHA, fish oil, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil and borage seed oil are vital for maintaining the structure and function of cell membranes, particularly in the nervous system and can help reduce fatigue. They can also enhance immune system activity.
- Magnesium may help reduce fatigue.
- The herbs ginseng and Echinacea may help improve energy and boost the immune system.
NOTE: Before taking on any nutritional programme or herbal supplements as part of your CFS treatment, consult a qualified nutritionist through the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (www.bant.org.uk) or the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (www.nimh.org.uk).
Lessons in the Alexander technique, named after Frederick Matthias Alexander, teach you how to stop using unnecessary levels of muscular and mental tension during your daily activities, the purpose being to help you unlearn bad physical habits and return to a balanced state of body alignment.
Alexander developed the principles in the 1890s as a personal tool to alleviate his breathing problems and voice loss during performances as a Shakespearean orator. After doctors found no physical cause, Alexander reasoned that he was doing something to himself while speaking to cause his problem. His self-observation showed a habitual pattern of pulling the head backwards and downwards which disrupted the normal working of his posture, breathing and vocal mechanisms. After experimenting to develop his ability to stop the unnecessary and habitual contracting in his neck, he found that his problem with recurrent voice loss was resolved. He refined his technique of self-observation and re-training to teach his discoveries to others from 1930 until his death in 1955.
Famous people who have studied the Alexander Technique include: Paul McCartney, Roald Dahl, John Cleese, Judy Dench and Paul Newman.
The technique teaches you how to use yourself when moving, resting and breathing. You learn to become aware of and then change the habits of movement, tension and reaction that interfere with healthy coordination. Coordination and poise rely on the natural balance of the head, neck and back (Alexander called this ‘the primary control’). The technique works through re-establishing this natural balance to promote easy upright posture and efficient functioning, body and mind.
Lavender is a small aromatic evergreen shrub of the mint family, with narrow leaves and bluish-purple flowers, used in perfumery and medicine. Here are some interesting ways you might like to use lavender in your life:
- Mix together a dried herb tea of chamomile and lavender. Steep in hot water for a few minutes and add honey if desired.
- A drop of lavender oil on a bee sting will reduce itching and swelling.
- Put 3 drops of lavender oil into the palms of your hands before rubbing together gently and inhaling deeply. Smooth your palms over your temples and wrists for a calming effect. Extra note: If you suffer from hay fever, lavender will help alleviate the symptoms.
- Put a drop of lavender oil on a minor burn.
- Mix 5 drops of lavender oil with coconut oil and use directly on the skin for eczema.
- Take 1 drop of lavender on the end of your tongue or behind the ears to ease travel sickness.
- Rub a drop of lavender oil on sunburned lips.
- Add 4 drops of lavender to sparkling water.
- A strong lavender tea can be cooled and used as a scalp rinse to help prevent dandruff.
- Add a cup of strong lavender tea and a cup of Epsom salts to a bath for sore muscles.
- Make lavender talc by mixing 8 parts of bentonite clay, 8 parts of arrowroot powder, 1 part slippery elm 1 part comfrey root powder. Shake well and add 40 drops lavender oil. Shake again.
- Put a drop of lavender onto a cold sore to ease.
- Make wedding favour lavender sachets by adding lavender buds to a muslin bag.
- Make homemade lavender scented candles, by adding fresh or dried lavender buds and a few drops of lavender essential oil into the heated wax.
- Make a room spray with 2 cups water plus 2 drops of lavender, 2 drops of tea tree and 2 drops of peppermint oil in a spritzer bottle.
- For a salad dressing, mix together 6 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic or apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon each of mustard powder and dried lavender flowers.
- Use pressed lavender blooms to decorate homemade cards and gift wrapping.
- For lavender infused vinegar, add a handful of dried or fresh lavender buds to 2 cups white wine or apple cider vinegar. Leave for 6 weeks, shaking every few days. Strain before use.
- Use lavender flower blooms to decorate a cake
- Add crushed dried lavender flowers to your homemade liquid soap recipe.
- Add lavender blooms to your homemade blackberry jam.
- Stir crumbled fresh lavender blooms and a pinch of cinnamon into vanilla ice cream.
- Make your own lavender water by adding 5 drops lavender oil for every 5oz distilled water. Store in a spritzer bottle and use as a refreshing facial tonic.
- Dab a few drops of diluted lavender oil onto spots to reduce inflammation and inhibit overgrowth bacteria to the skin
- Mix 6 drops of lavender oil to 1cup baking soda and sprinkle on the carpet an hour before hovering.
Check out our extensive range of microwavable wheat bags scented with lavender.
‘Blood pressure’ is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways. High blood pressure or hypertension is a common disorder in which blood pressure remains abnormally high (a reading of 140/90 mm Hg or greater). There are some factors that increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, which you cannot control such as age, family history and ethnic origin. Some self-help steps you can take include:
- Stop the salt and sodium-rich foods.
- Decrease or eliminate alcohol.
- Reject refined foods e.g. sugary, pre-made, preserved, fried and fatty.
- Reduce or eliminate soft drinks.
- Reduce saturated and trans-fats. Choose white fish and skinless chicken and turkey.
- Eating oats daily can contribute to lowering hypertension.
- Increase potassium through jacket potatoes, spinach, dried apricots, salmon, avocados and bananas.
- Boost magnesium through mackerel, figs, dark chocolate, brown rice and pumpkin seeds.
- Try beetroot juice.
- Hypertensive patients seldom drink enough milk and they are usually low on calcium. Increase intake of soybeans, sardines, watercress, broccoli, milk, kale and fortified orange juice.
- French maritime pine bark extract lowered blood pressure in a Chinese study, which was reported in the January 2004 issue of Life Sciences.
- Increase your omega-3s via essential fatty acid-containing foods or supplements of fish oil, flaxseed oil and primrose oil.
- Studies suggest that the isoflavones in soy, tofu, tempeh and miso make arterial walls more elastic.
- Bean including black, white, navy, lima, pinto, and kidney are full of soluble fiber, magnesium, and potassium, all excellent ingredients for lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart health.
- Studies show carrot juice cleans arteries.
- The capsicum in cayenne slows arteriosclerosis, which can cause hypertension.
- Parsley is a natural diuretic, which cuts blood pressure.
- Ginger offers hypertensive benefits to some.
- Spinach is packed with heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, folate, and magnesium — key ingredients for lowering and maintaining blood pressure levels. Mix fresh spinach leaves into salads or adding them to sandwiches.
- Evidence shows that garlic lowers hypertension 2%-7%. Onions help too.
- Saffron contains a blood pressure-lowering chemical called crocetin.
- Taking 55 mg of concentrated reishi mushroom extract three times a day may reduce moderately high blood pressure after 1 month.
- Chamomile flowers, fennel seed and rosemary may cut hypertension risk.
- Cat’s claw contains the alkaloid rhynchophylline, which has anti-hypertensive effects.
- A 1997 study suggested kelp may help lower blood pressure.
- Reduce coffee and tea to lower blood pressure.
Healthy lifestyle habits can also help you maintain normal blood pressure. Routine physical activity can lower high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems. Staying at a healthy weight can improve your health. Reducing or eliminating smoking is beneficial (it can damage your blood vessels and raise your risk for high blood pressure). Learning to manage and cope with stress can help you mentally relax which in turn improves your wellbeing.
NOTE: Don’t stop blood pressure medication without consulting your GP.