Tissue salts explained

The word biochemistry comes from the Greek word “bios” (meaning life) and “chemistry.”  Biochemistry refers to the natural chemical changes that are carried out by life processes.  These changes are affected by the union of organic substances with inorganic elements, whereby different tissues of the body are formed. 

Energy is then obtained so that the body can carry out the vital processes like breathing, moving, thinking, blood-circulation, and so forth.  Dr. Schüβler, a German-born doctor was most probably one of the first doctors to use the term “biochemistry.”  He was also a physiological chemist and a physicist.  He was ahead of his time when it came to science and, by putting his theories to the test as a medical doctor, he achieved great results.  And so, Biochemistry was born!  Years later, a well-known scientist Rudolph Virchow, discovered that the human body is composed of a tremendous amount of living cells, each one made up of a very small, but balanced quantity of 3 classes of materials, namely water, organic substances and inorganic substances.  Water and organic matter like sugar and albuminous, fatty substances, make up the greater portion, whilst inorganic / mineral substances, are vital (although less than the others).  These mineral substances are the “active workers” that utilise the inactive substances in building the millions of cells of which the body is composed.

So; what is the use and reason for using and prescribing tissue salts?  In a nutshell; if your blood lacks any of the necessary quantities of inorganic substances, then the rebuilding process cannot carry on in an optimum way, thus resulting in a disturbance in the cells that causes “disease,” or a dis-ease.  When there is a shortage or deficiency of one or more vital mineral substances, injuries, self-poisoning, and so on, can occur.  For example, if you don’t have enough calcium and magnesium in your body (or if your body doesn’t absorb enough of these minerals), you get cramps, spasms, and even headaches! 

Dr. Schüβler proved that there are 12 mineral salts in our body’s cells that is crucial in carrying on the functional activities in our cells.  These mineral salts are:

Calcium Fluoride (Calc. Fluor,), Calcium Phosphate (Calc. Phos.), Calcium Sulphate (Calc. Sulp.), Phosphate of Iron (Ferr. Phos.), Potassium Chloride (Kali Mur.), Potassium Phosphate (Kali. Phos.), Potassium Sulphate (Kali. Sulph.), Magnesium Phosphate (Mag. Phos.), Sodiu Chloride (Nat. Mur.), Sodium Phosphate (Nat. Phos.), Sodium Sulphate (Nat. Sulph.), and Silicic Oxide (Silica).

There are 5 principles that underlines the reasons for and the use of tissue salts:

  1. Disease doesn’t occur if cell metabolism is normal;
  2. Cell metabolism is normal if cell nutrition is adequate;
  3. Nutritional substances are either of an organic nature or an inorganic nature, when it comes to the body’s cells;
  4. The ability of the body’s cells to assimilate and excrete, and further utilise, the nutritional material is impaired if there is a deficiency in the inorganic mineral / tissue salt, constituent of cellular tissues;
  5. Adequate cell nutrition can be restored and cellular metabolism can be normalised by supplying the required tissue salts to the organism in a well divided assimilable form.

It should be noted that tissue salts are not pharmaceutical drugs – you do not need a doctor’s prescription for it, nor are there any side-effects or harm done, when using them.  They are vital cell foods and in harmony with the body.  For example, Magnesium Phosphate (Mag. Phos.) can be given to babies that suffer from colic.  Tissue salts can also be taken up to 3 times a day, depending on the severity of the symptoms, and can also be used during pregnancy.  When in doubt – consult your health practitioner!

Let us have a quick look at the use of each of the 12 tissue salts:

  1. Calc. Fluor:  present in the surface of bone, enamel of teeth and in the elastic fibres of the skin, muscular tissue and blood vessels.
  2. Calc. Phos:  a constituent of the bone, teeth, connective tissue, blood corpuscles and gastric juices.  Together with albumin it gives solidity to the bones and building of teeth (bone consists of 57% calcium phosphate).  It uses albumin as cement to build up bone structure (good for children to take)
  3. Calc. Sulp:  a healer and blood purifier; found in the liver where it helps in the removal of waste products from the blood stream.  It has a cleansing and purifying influence throughout the system.
  4. Ferr. Phos:  it is the “biochemic first-aid.”  It carries oxygen, enters into the composition of haemoglobin and takes up oxygen from the air that we inhale via our lungs, and carries it in the blood stream to all parts of the body.  This is a vital force that sustains life and gives strength and toughness to the circular walls of the blood vessels (particularly the arteries).
  5. Kali. Mur:  it is used to treat sluggish conditions.  It combines with fibrin, an organic substance.  Any deficiency causes fibrin to become non-functional and the body then discharges catarrh and other similar symptoms that affect the skin and mucous membrane.
  6. Kali. Phos:  a good nerve nutrient, that is found in the tissues and fluids of the body; notably the brain and nerve cells.  It has an antiseptic action and counteracts decay in the organisms.
  7. Kali. Sulp:  has an affinity with the cells that form the lining of the skin and those forming the internal mucous lining of all internal organs.
  8. Mag. Phos:  known as the “anti-spasmodic” remedy, its main function is connected with the nervous system where it supplements the action of Kali. Phos.  A deficiency of Mag. Phos causes spasms and cramps – therefore it is important to help maintain the rhythmic and coherent movements of muscular tissue.
  9. Nat. Mur:  the “water-distributer.”  It enters into every composition of every fluid and solid substance of the body.  It controls the ebb and flow of the bodily fluids and its prime function is to maintain a proper degree of moisture throughout the system.  If there is a lack of this salt, cell division and normal growth could not proceed.  Nat. Mur is also linked to nutrition and glandular activity.
  10. Nat. Phos:  present in the blood, muscles, nerves and brain cells, as well as in the intercellular fluids.  It neutralises acid and regulates the consistency of bile, as well as promoting the absorption of water. 
  11. Nat. Sulp:  regulates the density of the intercellular fluids (fluids that bathe the tissue cells), by eliminating excess water.  It controls the healthy functioning fo the liver, ensures an adequate supply of free-flowing, healthy bile, and remves poison-charges fluids (a normal result of chemical exchanges constantly taking place).
  12. Silica:  present in the blood, skin, hair and nails; it is a constituent of connective tissue, bones, nerve sheaths and mucous membranes.  Silica’s action is deep and long lasting.  It acts more upon the organic substances of the body, especially the bones, joints, gland and skin, and is indicated wherever there is pus forming or threatened suppuration, like an abscess or boil.

“Blood is to the human body what soil is to the plant.  It is common knowledge that poor, exhausted soil will produce only weak, sickly plants.  In the same way, poor blood, lacking in essential constituents, will produce weak, sickly bodies, prone to disease.  By enriching the soil, the ill-conditioned plant can be made to recover and flourish.  The recovery of the ailing human body can best be achieved by a similar process – by restoring to the blood the constituents in which it is lacking.  This is Biochemistry,” The Chemistry of Living Tissue.

Bach flower remedies, Tissue salts and Astrology?

Bach flower remedies, tissue salts, and other natural medicine, is concerned with the vertical causes of illness.  This means that it looks at the inter relationship between the body, mind and spirit / soul.  Unlike medical medicine, it treats the origin / root cause of the illness / allergy, not just the symptoms, thus helping the user to be cured rather than just “feel better.”

What has this got to do with astrology, you might wonder?  I was reading a recent article by Jacqueline Brook, about the links, who believes there is a definite link / correlation between them.  The essence of healing (being healed) is not just to remove physical suffering.  Instead it is / should be to assist the person to realize what is the cause of the illness on all levels, so that he / she can be healed completely.  Astrology, she believes, is the same, as it offers a natal chart with insights into the physical, emotional, spiritual and deep levels of a person’s being / persona.

Let us explore the remedies.  Bach remedies were discovered and formulated in the 1930s by Dr Edward Bach.  It is a simple and natural healing modality that uses wild flowers.  Instead of treating just the physical illness, Bach remedies treat essence of the illness. 

It must be noted that there are certain illnesses that cannot be treated (Dr Bach recognized 38 conditions that were treatable), and that some people are allergic to flowers and thus this treatment is not the answer. Bach remedies are classified under 7 headings:  mental and emotional states, fear, uncertainty, insufficient interest in the present moment, loneliness, being overly sensitive to influences and ideas, despondency and despair, and over-concern for the welfare of other people.

Jacqueline notes that, in a natal chart, there are 7 planets that influences a person in a strong / not so strong way.  For example, if a person has a weak Mars in their chart, they come across as timid, fearing the unknown and are unable to pursue their dreams and goals (Mars is the natural ruler of aggression / strong will, desire and action).  Astrology is an ancient form of wisdom and the reason they use the planets, are because our solar system, us and our planet, are energy.  The moon influences the ocean when it is full moon – our bodies are made up of 70 – 80& water – what is the possibility that it can influence people?

Now let’s have a look at tissue salts.  Dr WH Scheussler, founder of biochemistry, believed that a disease does not and will not occur if a person’s cell activity is normal.  He presented 5 principles in support of his studies:  your body is made up of tissue salts and any imbalance (too much or too little of a substance), can cause an imbalance.  The body, he concluded, requires both complex and organic compounds, as well as inorganic substances as cell nutrients.  If there is an imbalance, the body’s cells will not be able to assimilate and utilise these compounds. 

There are 12 tissue salts on the market today, as well as combinations.  Numbers 1,2 and 3 are calcium based, no 4 is iron based, no 5,6 and 7 are potassium based, 8 is magnesium based, 9, 10 and 11 are sodium based, and 12 is silicon.  Tissue salts is completely safe.  Even if you take some in excess, your body will simply excrete it!  Mag. Phos, for example, is not just for cramping, but can also be used for babies who suffer from colic; without any harm to the baby!  In a later article I will go into more detail about the different tissue salts and their uses.

Now – what has Bach remedies and Tissue salts got to do with Astrology, you might still wonder?  According to Jacqueline it is twofold.  Tissue salts can be based on the planetary rulers of the body parts being treated, or it can be selected on the basis of the planetary ruler of the mineral of which the tissue salts are composed or derived from.  A weak Saturn in a chart, for example, will require tissue salts no. 1, 2 or 3, as they are calcium based and Saturn is the ruler of the skeletal system and teeth.  He also rules limestone and limestone is a common sedimentary rock which form from the precipitation of calcium carbonate from water.  Another example of astrology’s link to tissue salts is that too much calcium (Saturn) in the body hinders the absorption of iron (Mars).  Is your skin dry and do you get cold easily?  You might just be slow and ponderous, while another person, who has a dry skin but gets hot easily, is faster moving and action orientated…

Alternative medicine treats a person holistically, because they know that we are not just physical beings, but also spiritual, mental and emotional.  Astrology also believes this, therefore in a natal chart, all the different houses, planets, and so forth, are taken into account when a reading is given.

Many doctors today are realizing that patients must be treated in a more holistic manner.  Diet, exercise and pills are not the “be all and end all” when it comes to treating the reasons and not just the symptoms. 

“Physicians are agreed that when treatment is possible through diet, there should be no recourse through medicine; and when treatment is possible through a simple, there should be no recourse to a compound.”  This, Jacqueline believes, is a reason why astrologers and holistic / allopathic health care practitioners, can work together.

Yoga and wine

A trend that is popular overseas, is now also starting to take shape in South Africa – doing yoga in the morning, and sipping on a glass of wine afterwards!

Reading an article, written by Sharni Quinn, founder of Follow the Sun, she said the idea to combine the two, came about in 2013.  It was during this time, when she took groups overseas on an “Eat, Play, Yoga journeys” to Bali, that she realized that one can have fun and freedom of mind, while at the same time living more consciously and sustainable.  She started “Yoga & Wine- “weekends in the Cape and says it is a huge success.  In the morning the group does yoga, self-reflect / meditate and relax.  In the afternoon a shuttle takes them to various wine farms, where they learn about wine-making and get a chance to taste it.  Sharni says that, combining the two, is a new way of connecting with like-minded people and forming new friendships.

According to Alex Elman, yoga is an ancient, if not the most ancient, discipline; and wine has a rich history.  Both dates back to 6 000 BC.  He believes that one develops a palate for wine-drinking over time and, during yoga, you stretch your body in order to sit in meditation for prolonged periods.

Going way back into history, we know that wine was used in different, sacred traditions, for example in the Greek Dionysian rites, the Buddhist tantra, as well as the Christian Mass.  When you drink wine, you savour the taste, the smell and the aroma.  You are mindful of the cultivation and making of the wine.  In Yoga you are mindful of your breathing, the way you do each and every pose and the way you centre yourself in meditation.

Another interesting thought of why this trend has taken off, is that they claim that you can achieve a state of relaxation and/or mindfulness with both yoga and drinking wine!  This is partly true.  A big difference (I believe) is that wine helps a person to feel more relaxed once the wine “kicks in” after a glass or 2.  When you do yoga regularly, you automatically start to become more mindful, more relaxed and present, because you learn how to breathe correctly, as well as learn how to meditate / become still. 

Popularity is growing and new ideas are popping up almost every day when it comes to exercising.  Whether doing this as part of an organization’s team-building, or as a birthday- / special occasion-celebration, pairing wine and yoga seems to be working in a positive way.  The key, however, is to remember that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and that moderation is key to living a well-balanced life.

Celebrating women

In South Africa, August is women’s month, whereas in the UK and US, women’s month is celebrated in March.  Nonetheless, it is a time to celebrate being a woman, a mother, a spouse, a partner and a friend.  A time when society is reminded to take care and respect a woman; for she is the carrier of life.

It is a great idea to have a month where we can celebrate and acknowledge the role the women play in society.  Yes, it is also a month when violence against women are looked at.  In the end it boils down to respect.  When you respect yourself, you will respect other people, things, animals and nature itself.  When you love yourself, you will love others, because the Divinity is in each and every one (and everything) of us. 

It is always important to have a balance between one’s feminine and masculine side (regardless of your sex), but I can’t help but wonder if men don’t feel “lost” in a sense, because women can / want to proof that they can do what men can do?!

In today’s modern world the material possessions in life started to be more important than love, kindness, trust and humbleness.  It is important to make peace with who we are, to get to a point of balancing our feminine and masculine qualities, to allow other women to be women, and to allow men to be men.  It is a time to get back to our true self, to find out what our true values are, and to not just say things, but do it as well!  Dr. Demartini says your true values are those values that you will always return to – and how you value yourself, will determine how others and the world, value you!

My philosophy is:  if you can change something and/or get rid of a bad habit, then do it.  The sooner the better!  If you cannot change something, then make peace with it and be grateful for what you were given.  So many times, we complain about our legs being too short, for example.  However, be grateful you have legs and that you can walk.

For all my female readers, I’d like to say:  enjoy being you, be grateful for what you have, love yourself, and be true to you!  There is nobody on earth like you, nor is there anybody who can replace you.  Yes, we all have flaws that we don’t like. 

All in all, being women is not always easy.  Life has its ups and downs, but how we look at the world, will change how we feel and think about the world.  And what we think, believe and say to ourselves, will either make us stronger and give us self-confidence, or not. 

To all the women throughout the world; be grateful, love yourself, and know that you are special, you are unique, and society thanks you for being you!

Nail care – the what’s and what to do’s

All of us has, at one or other point, struggled with brittle nails.  More often than none it is due to lack of nutrition, weather, harsh soaps and working with your hands, in water, without wearing gloves.

Our nails are a substructure of the epidermis and are mainly composed of keratin (a type of protein).  Nails grow from approximately 0.05 to 1.2 millimetres (1/500 to 1/20 of an inch) a week and, if you lose a nail, it takes about 7 months to grow out fully. How do you know if your nails are healthy or not? 

I am going to list a few things that you can look at:

  1.  A lack of protein, folic acid and vitamin C, causes hangnails.  These are nails that curve down when they become long.  Another indication of protein deficiency are white bands across the nails;
  2. A lack of vitamin A and calcium causes brittleness and dryness;
  3. A deficiency of the B-vitamins causes fragility, with horizontal and vertical ridges;
  4. Insufficient intake of vitamin B12 leads to excessive dryness, very rounded and/or curved nail ends, and darkened nails;
  5. Iron deficiency causes “spoon” nails (concave shapes) and/or vertical ridges;
  6. Zinc deficiency causes the development of white spots on the nails;
  7. A lack of “friendly” bacteria (lactobacilli) in the body can result in fungus-growth in and around the nails;
  8. A lack of sufficient hydrochloric acid contributes to splitting nails.

Before we look at supplements and dietary changes / add-ons we can use, remember that some of the above conditions can also be due to a skin allergy, for example eczema.  The latter can, if a person had it / has it on his / her hands, can affect the way the nails look.

As stated above, vitamin A, C, B-complex, B12, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc, (taken with copper to balance out the zinc) are all important.  Vitamin D3 and iron are also essential nutrients.  A good Omega-oil supplement will not only feed the nails and nailbeds, but is also needed to keep our skin supple and moist, but it is also “brain food!”

When we look at what we can add to our daily food intake, things like alfalfa, flaxseed, lemongrass, parsley, pumpkin seed and sage, are good nutrients.  Chamomile, rosemary and turmeric are great to use for circulation and for nourishing the nails.  Eating enough good quality proteins or taking a protein-supplement if you are vegetarian, as well as grains, legumes, oatmeal, nuts, seeds and eggs, are all good.

Eating plenty of fresh fruits and raw vegetables, cutting down or avoiding refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, as well as drinking plenty of water, are all important as well.  Fresh carrot juice is high in calcium and phosphorus – good for strengthening the nails; and as you know, high in vitamin A; so good for our eyes as well!

Eating too many citrus fruits, using too much salt and/or vinegar, can cause an imbalance between the protein/calcium levels in our bodies.  Royal jelly, spirulina or kelp are rich in silica, zinc and the B-vitamins.  Brewer’s yeast or wheat germ oil, taken daily, can help with splitting nails and/or hangnails. 

If your nails’ colour is not what it used to be, or your nails are brittle, mix equal parts of honey, avocado oil, egg yolk and a pinch of salt together.  Rub the mixture into your nails and cuticles.  Leave it on for 30 minutes and rinse off.  Repeat this every day and, after about 2 weeks, you should see changes.  If you’d like to strengthen your nails, soak them in warm olive oil or apple cider vinegar for 10 – 20 minutes every day.

Take care not to use your nails to scrape or pick, for example removing a staple.  Use gloves when you are working in water, in the garden or around the house.  When cutting your nails, make sure that they are warm, as it is easier to cut without splitting – and warm nails will not blunt your nail clippers / scissors either!  Keeping it relatively short is not only easier to maintain and work with, but the longer the nails, the bigger the chance of it breaking and/or bending / curving.

When you are filing your nails, be careful not to file in different directions (this can cause the nails to become brittle and/or split).  Instead file in one direction.  Don’t pull on a cuticle if it is dry or formed a small, loose skin.  Rather cut it off and put some moisturizer on.  Biting your nails?  Firstly; best to get rid of the stress and the reason(s) you are doing it and, if all else fails, put a bitter residue / polish on your nails…but rather stop or don’t start at all!

If you like to wear nail polish often, use a base coat before you put your colour on.  This will protect your nail from discolouring.  Do give your nails time-off as well to breathe, as nail polish can stop oxygen from penetrating the nails.  Before you use any brand’s nail polish remover, make sure that it contains acetate and not acetone.  The latter can be toxic to skins and are much harsher on the nail and skin, than acetate.

Lastly, I would like to mention a few other considerations to be aware of…

Exposing our hands and nails to too much water and soap, can cause the nails to loosen from its beds.  Water causes our nails to swell and, when they shrink once dry, it can become loose and/or brittle.  If you smoke, suffer from allergies, are on anticancer medication, is a diabetic, stress or has / had a prolonged illness, your nails can also show one / more of the above-mentioned symptoms.  Speaking to your health practitioner about it, is always a good idea.  Artificial nails might look good, but the chemicals and glue used can cause havoc; especially if it is not done properly and if you don’t take “time-out” from wearing it.  Fungal infections can also occur easier.  In a study done on hospital nurses it was found that they carry twice as many bacteria on their hands! 

In a recent interview on the radio a researcher that researched the difference between using hand sanitizers and warm water and soap, said that hand sanitizers clean our hands from everyday dirt / dust, but it cannot protect you from picking up the E. coli-virus.  However, when you wash your hands with warm water and soap (for 20 seconds; including under the nails), we not only get rid of germs and dirt, but anything else that might cause us to contract an illness.

There are many brands on the market that has different ingredients in; promising to moisturize your hands, lessen the look of ageing, and so forth.  Glycerine, vitamin E and added oil (coconut oil, argan oil or coconut butter), are something to look out for when choosing a product.  A hand serum is another good option to use; especially if your hands are very dry.

Our hands and nails are always on display – so take the time to take care of then too!

Skincare for all seasons

There are many articles and blog posts written on the different product-brands when it comes to looking after our skin.  I am not going to go into detail about it.  What I would like to write about is how to take care of your skin from the inside.

There are different types of skins: sensitive, oily, dry and combination.

A sensitive skin is a skin that doesn’t tan easily, and often breaks out in a rash / allergic reaction if using products that have too many chemicals in.

An oily skin often occurs during puberty, adolescence and teenage years, when the skin is excreting too much oil and breakouts occur.  However, adults can also suffer from an oily skin and get “adult acne.”

A dry skin struggles when it is dry and/or winter (especially when the person is living where the winters are not humid).  The first places to take a knock, so to speak, are the lips, elbows hands and heels. 

A combination skin is often partly dry or normal, and partly oily.  The latter is the area of the forehead, nose and chin. 

For a balanced, healthy skin, a balance between oil and moisture is crucial.  The oil is secreted by the sebaceous glands, which lubricates the skin’s surface.  The moisture is the water present inside the skin cells.  This comes to the cells via the bloodstream and it is the water that keeps the skin plumped-up, healthy and youthful-looking.  It is interesting to note that there are 2 types of dry skin:  a normal dry skin results from a lack of natural oils.  A complex dry skin lacks both oil and moisture; and characteristics include fine lines, brown spots, discolouration, enlarges pores and sagging skin.  If the skin is / has been exposed to prolonged sunlight (or sunbeds), then the proteins (elastin, collagen and keratin), may also be damaged.

Often a dull skin not only looks dull, but it easily develops wrinkles and/or fine lines, and can even become scaly / flaky.  Fair-skinned people are more prone to have or develop a dry skin as they age.

If there is no underlying cause such as eczema or psoriasis, then it can be a combination of heredity, vitamin deficiencies and poor nutrition.  Vitamins A and B play a crucial role and a deficiency of these vitamins, can easily lead to a dry, scaly skin.  Other important vitamins and minerals to add to your diet, are vitamin E, B-complex with extra B12, Zinc and Primrose oil (or any other essential fatty acid-product).  Vitamin C, L-Cysteine and Selenium, are also good choices.

As for looking at your diet, make sure to includes vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts.  Eat a good quality protein and eat more raw foods.  Eating foods that is high in sulphur, like garlic, onions, eggs and asparagus, are a good way to keep the skin looking smooth and youthful.  Eating lots of orange and yellow vegetables can aid with your intake of beta-carotene (part of vitamin A – also important for good eyesight!).

Try not to eat a lot / avoid completely: friend foods, soft drinks, sugar, junk food and processed foods.  Junk foods are often prepared in oil that has been used over and over again.  If certain vegetable oils are placed on high heat, free radicals are produced, which have a destructive effect on your skin, and your health in general.

Always drink plenty of water.  A good test to see if you are drinking enough water is to gently tuck on the skin on your hand.  If it falls back, you are not dehydrated, but if it stays up, then you need more fluid.  Another signal from the body to let you know that you’re not drinking enough water, is that you are thirsty.  Experts believe when you are thirsty, you are already dehydrating!

Moisturizing our skin with the right products is always best.  As I have said earlier, there are many different products on the market for the different skin types.  Products containing glycerine, vitamin E and panthenol, are good options.

When you wash your face and body use a loofah / scrub 1 – 2 times per week.  Don’t do this more than twice per week, as exfoliation can rid the skin of its natural oils (these oils are not just important for locking-in the moisture but also acts as a barrier against the elements).  A facial mask once / twice per week is another good way to deep-cleanse your face.

There are many homemade-recipes that works just as well as the products you buy in a store.  If you are uncertain about using something, either just dap a small amount on your hand to see if there is any skin reaction, or use a sample first.

Many experts believe that it is good to change your moisturizers and facial creams during the different seasons.  However, I have found that the one I use works well in both summer and winter.  For those suffering from a dry skin; remember to look out for products with plenty of moisturizing factors in.  For oily skins it is best to use creams and make-up that gives a matte finish / look.

At the end of the day; no matter how many lotions and other treatments you use, you cannot stop getting older.  However, you can change the way you age, by changing the way you think about it.  So, why not turn your frown into a smile?

Taking care of your hair

In the Northern Hemisphere it is summer; however, in the Southern Hemisphere we are still in the grips of winter.  Taking care of your hair and skin during the dryer and/or colder months of the year, is quite different to warm, summer days.

Our hair can often become dryer during this time of year; especially if we make use of hairdryers more often than usual.  A good hair mask is a great way to nourish the hair, as well as looking out for a good quality shampoo and conditioner (ask your hairdresser what is the best option for your hair).

Another tip is to look out for products that have something like Argan oil, avocado, or shea butter in.  Using products with added ingredients that will feed, nourish and protect our hair, is always a good choice during these months. 

Home remedies like an avocado mask, egg mask, essential oils, tea, and others, are cheap, natural ways to take care of your hair – whether during the winter months or those warm summer months.  I am going to look at 3 different ways to take care of your hair at home.

An avocado- and egg mask.  According to Stephen Sanna, expert colourist at the Pierre Michel Salon in New York City, using mashed avocado, mixed with an egg, will help to restore your hair’s lustre; as avocados are rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals and the egg will helps to restore the protein in your hair.

Rinsing your hair with freshly brewed, unsweetened tea, will give dry hair a natural shine.  Use a ¼ cup of tea as a final rinse after your regular shampoo.  It not only gives the hair a natural shine, but will also enhance your hair colour.  Chamomile tea is best for blondes and black tea for brunettes.

Apple cider vinegar is a wonderful thing to use as well.  Especially during the summer months when you are at the beach or swimming a lot.  Using ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, mixed with ¾ cup of water, will help to get rid of the chemicals and saltiness of the water.  Afterwards you apply your conditioner as normal, and your hair will stay shiny and soft. 

This can also be used during winter, when we blow-dry our hair more often and/or colour our hair.  Apple cider vinegar is also a good way to rid your hair of excess conditioner. 

Whether it is wintertime or summertime; it is always a good idea to “let your hair down” and not to wear it up all the time.  Not only does it damage the hair follicles, but it can also aid in baldness!  According to my hairdresser, wearing your long hair up all day, every day, literally pulls the hair away from the forehead!

If you live in a climate where the air is dry you can use a humidifier.  It is also a good idea to put out a plate / bowl of water if you are in a space with the heater on all the time.  When the air is dry it will not only dry out the skin, but also your eyes and lips.

Other things to remember is nutrition – what you put into your body is just as important, if not more so, than what you put on!  Taking your Omega-oils, drinking enough water (especially when it is cold and/or dry) and eating fresh vegetables and fruits, are all role-players in giving our hair and skin a healthy look.

There is an old folk’s tale that says one should brush your hair 100 strokes each day!  Not only is it great for the scalp but it will also give your hair a shine.  Brushing is not only a natural thing to do, but also a way of distributing the hair’s natural oils and massaging your scalp.  A lovely way to relax and, again, to “oil” your hair with its own oil, is a head massage. 

Many hairdressers believe that it is not good to wash your hair every single day, as you can easily deplete the hair and hair follicles of the natural oils (necessary to feed and keep the hair healthy and nourished).  It is tricky when you are outdoors, for example, or if you exercise and/or sweat.  A light wash (with or without using shampoo or conditioner), can do the trick.  Best to try to have a couple of days in-between washes!

Two other things to remember is not to brush your hair when it is wet; unless you use a comb with big teeth. Best to wrap your wet hair in a towel and towel-dry the excess water / wetness first. Also make sure you use the correct brushes and/or combs. Also try to brush your hair from the scalp towards the roots – this is another tip to distribute the hair’s natural oils.

A last tip is to treat split ends either with a cut, or with some oil or butter!  Yes, you read it – butter!  According to a Reader’s Digest article, using a small amount of butter on the ends can help to protect it and keep it from splitting!

Our head, it is said, is our crown (as it were) …So whether it is wintertime or summertime where you live, remember to nourish and protect your hair as much as you would nourish and protect the rest of your body against the elements.

Ear troubles

In my previous blog we looked at ear health, how to take care of our ears and how to protect them. 

In today’s blog post I want to look at some of the ear troubles (infections and other issues) that can affect our hearing and our health.

First up is ear infections.  Many children (and adults) suffer from / had swimmer’s ear (external otitis).  This is commonly preceded by an upper respiratory infection or allergy; mostly dairy produce.  Symptoms range from fever, discharge from the ear, pain and swelling, slight fever and red, throbbing ear when touched.

Another infection is middle ear infection (otitis media).  This infection develops behind the eardrum, when bacteria or viruses get into this space.  Symptoms like earache, sharp, dull and/or throbbing pain, feeling of fullness in the ear and a fever, can often occur.

Then there are various forms of dizziness.  Vertigo (faintness or light-headedness) occurs when there is a sensation in a person’s head that mirrors falling or sinking, or thinking the room is spinning around, even when he / she is not moving.  Vertigo occurs when the central nervous system receives conflicting messages from the inner ear, eyes, muscles and skin pressure receptors. 

This can occur due to brain tumours, high / low blood pressure, allergies, diabetes, a head injury, inadequate / interrupted oxygen-supply to the brain, anaemia, viral infection, fever, using certain drugs, nutritional deficiencies, a neurological disease, psychological stress, changes in the atmospheric pressure, blockage of the ear canal / eustachian tube, middle ear infection, or even excess wax in the ear.  Other illnesses that can cause vertigo are arteriosclerosis, cervical osteoarthritis, or poor cerebral circulation.

Ménière’s disease is a broad term used to describe all the different inner ear disturbances, namely ringing in the ears, loss of hearing and balance, vertigo, tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ears), and a sensation of fullness / pressure (this can affect either one or both ears).  This is a rare disease and the causes are still unknown. 

Many experts believe that it is because of a condition called endolymphatic hydrops (the excessive swelling of the small, fluid-filled chambers of the inner ear that creates periods of vertigo due to the pressure and severe disruptions within the inner ear).  Symptoms can range from nausea, sweating, vomiting and a loss of balance.  It can be caused by impaired blood flow to the brain due to clogged arteries and poor circulation, allergies, consumption of excess alcohol or caffeine, stress, barometric changes, pregnancy, visual stimuli, experiencing orgasm, sugar, exposure to loud noises, air pressure changes and excessive salt intake.

Many of us has, at one stage or another, experienced dizziness from getting up too quickly.  This is normal, but when the symptoms don’t subside after a minute or two, there might be another reason why you are dizzy.  Therefore, it is always advisable to speak to your health practitioner about dizzy spells; especially if it occurs on a regular basis.  Ear pain should also not be ignored; especially if it doesn’t go away after a day.  When we swim (this affects children especially), water can get into the ear.  It should drain after about a day, but if not and the person / child develops pain and/or swelling, then it is best to have it looked at. 

Dizziness can also be linked to blood sugar levels.  When we eat too much sugar and sweet things, our blood sugar shoots up higher than normal and when it drops, it drops lower than normal.  The same can happen when we consume too much caffeine.  What to do when you suffer from one of the above-mentioned ear problems? 

First of all, look at your diet.  Make sure you take a good Vitamin C, vitamin B-complex with extra B6, vitamin E, Zinc, Calcium and Magnesium-formula (drink it at night and make sure to take it together for better absorption), and watch what you eat.  Ginger is a wonderful herb that will alleviate dizziness, as well as nausea. 

If you or your child has an ear infection, use something like Olive leaf extract to help the body fight off the infection.  Garlic is also good to use; either add it to your diet or make a poultice from the onion.  Garlic has natural anti-inflammatory properties in and is good for a strong immune system.  Hot and cold compresses can also alleviate pain, as well as making a poultice from onions.

Food allergies, especially in babies and young children, must always be looked at when they experience one of the above-mentioned illnesses; especially if it occurs more than once.  Look at your stress levels and make sure to not only reduce it, but also to handle it better.  Smoking and excess alcohol, together with a diet high in salt and processed foods and fats, can also play a role, as it depletes the body of the important vitamins and minerals.

If you suffer from low blood sugar levels, make sure to eat enough protein during the day, to steer off dips in the blood sugar levels.  Most people have a “slump” in the afternoon; so instead of snacking on biscuits, chips or chocolate, rather eat a piece of cheese, fruit or nuts. 

Regular exercise is not only good for the body, but also good for the mind and the soul.  Even if you don’t like going to the gym, put on your walking shoes and go for a walk or a run.  Our ears play an important role; not just when listening, but also to help us maintain our balance.  Take care of what you have!

Looking after your ears

To be able to hear is a gift.  Our ears are not just important for hearing and listening.  It also plays an important role in maintaining our balance, with regards to the gravitational pull of the earth.  Whether you are standing on one leg or coming up from a lying down position, the middle ear helps to maintain balance and stability (also known as dynamic equilibrium). 

Inside the inner ear there are 3 small loops above the cochlea, called semi-circular canals.  These canals, as well as the cochlea, are filled with thousands of microscopic hairs and liquid.  When you turn / move your head, the liquid in these canals move as well. 

This in turn, moves the tiny hairs and they send a nerve message to your brain about the position of your head.  In less than a second, your brain sends messages to the right muscles so that you maintain your balance!

There are a number of diseases that can affect one’s balance, for example vertigo, tinnitus, Meniere’s disease, perilymph fistula, and so on.  More on this in a later article.

Coming back to looking after our ears. During the spring- and autumn months, allergies like hay fever can spike due to the increase in pollens, as well as dust and animal dander.  Allergies not only affect your nose, eyes, throat and chest, but also your ears. 

The most common symptoms are earaches, fullness, difficulty hearing and itching.  There can also be a temporary loss of hearing due to the built-up of mucus in the middle ear (conductive hearing loss).  Your nose and ears are linked, internally, and if your sinus canals are clogged, then there is a good chance your ears will be too!

So, what to do?  As we all know there are many over-the-counter medicines and sprays that one can use.  Seeking medical advice is always advised when the symptoms become worse.  Protecting our ears; especially when the temperatures dip below 15°C (59°F), is important.  Our ears don’t have any protective fatty tissue; only a thin layer of skin that protects the nerves in the ear canal.  Cooler weather and/or wind may cause discomfort and even pain, in your ear canal.  Covering our ears with ear mittens or a beanie, is a very good way to protect our ears (especially when it is cold and/or windy outside).

For those people using hearing aids, remember to have a spare battery at hand, as the cooler weather can also affect your hearing aids.

Apart from the weather, ears are very sensitive to loud sounds, noise from a power drill, for example, loud music, and so forth.  There are many documents written that prove that high decibel levels can deafen you, especially if you are / were exposed to high, loud levels.  The danger-levels start at 85dB (decibels) and include things like rock concerts, subway trains, electric tools, and so forth.  Babies and young children should not be exposed or at least not for a long period, to loud sounds.  Covering our ears with earmuffs or custom-made earplugs, will buffer most of it, so that we can still enjoy the music or carry on with our work, but without damaging our ears.  Talking on a telephone can also deafen the ear, especially if the other person is talking very loudly!  Try to swop the phone around, instead of listening on the one side only.  Or better yet, put the phone on speaker-mode!

Many people like to listen with earphones – doctors say the best earphones are the ones that cover the whole ear, and not the ones that go inside, as these earphones sit too close to the middle ear and, used long-term and/or too loud, can damage the ear permanently.

Ever heard about getting rid of ear wax using a wax candle?  While lying on your side, a wax stick, with a paper plate over the ear (very important because it catches the dripping wax), is gently placed into the ear and lit. While it burns, the heat “collects” all the wax inside your ear and, when it has finished burning, the wax comes out in a little ball.  Do not try this at home if you’ve never used it before – rather seek professional help.  Many doctors don’t believe that using an ear bud is a good thing…reason?  If it goes in too far it can damage the ear and a little bit of wax protects the ear from dust and other objects.

A few other good tips are to make sure you keep your stress levels down, go for check-ups, keep the ears dry, give your ears time to recover if it was exposed to noise (research indicates at least 16 hours) and to get up and move!  Did you know that exercises like running, walking, cycling, and any other form of cardio, not only gets your heartrate up, but also gets your blood pumping throughout the whole body; including to your ears.  This will help the internal structure of your ears, as with the internal organs, to stay healthy and function at their optimal level.

So, when we are taking care of our bodies, we should never forget that we only have one pair of ears…just like we only have one pair of eyes! 

Enlightenment

Throughout the years there were many philosophers seeking enlightenment.  What is it exactly?  And did they find it?

According to the Oxford dictionary, enlightenment is “knowledge about and understanding of something; the process of understanding something or making somebody understand it.”

The Age of Enlightenment was established during the late 17th and early 18th century, when philosophers, writers, thinkers and scientists, for example Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Sir Isaac Newton, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson, and others, began to argue that science and reason were more important than religion and tradition.  During this period there was a decline in the power of absolute monarchies, a rise of modern political ideologies (e.g. liberalism, republicanism and independence of thought).  These ideals had an impact on the American and French Revolutions.

In this post, I want to delve deeper into enlightenment (mindfulness, as it is called by many today), with regards to ourselves, our journey, and our spiritual growth.

In an interview with Sri Sri Ravishankar, enlightenment is “the journey from the head back to the heart.”  It is a time when people, in the past and today, are moving ahead or toward a spiritual path, rather than a religious path.  When asked what it really means, Sri Sri Ravishankar answered “it is a joke!  It is like a fish in the ocean searching for the ocean!” 

He explained by telling the story of a school of fish who wanted to know who, in fact, saw the ocean. Not one; until one fish said he thinks his great grandfather did.  In the end, a statue was built in honour of this great grandfather who, they thought, saw the ocean!

According to Sri Sri Ravishankar, enlightenment is the very nucleus of our being.  It is diving deep into the core of our self and living our life from there.  He said, “When we were born, we came into this world gifted with innocence, but as we grew up and became more intelligent, we lost our innocence.”  We were born in silence and lived in our hearts, in touch with our inner voice (or as some people say Spirit), but as we grew up, the silence was filled with words and we moved into our heads.  Thus, enlightenment is the journey from the head, back to the heart, back to silence and the regaining of our innocence, getting in touch with our spirit or inner voice, without losing our intelligence. 

Another lesson (level) of enlightenment is to be in a state of being that is unshakeable regardless of the circumstances.  It is a state of being where nothing and nobody can rob your heart from its smile!  Yes, this is the tricky part – not something that is easily achieved.  As humans we let the ego take over; we cry, we argue, we fight, we get depressed, and so forth. 

Nothing bad or wrong about it – we are human after all and we have feelings.  The trick is to not let these emotions take over and “rule” your decisions and consume your mind, heart, body and soul to such an extent that you lose touch with your inner self.  Balance between the chatter in the mind and the feelings in the heart, is key.

Sri Sri Ravishankar said that one should try and get to a state of non-judgment, of looking at everything around us and believing that everything belongs to everyone, because every person belongs to the divine. Every human being, every animal, every plant, everything in creation, belongs to the divine (the creator), who created many different places, people, animals, universes, and so forth.

It is a rare combination – the combination of innocence and intelligence, having words for expression and the ability to be silent.  When you can achieve this; the mind will be fully present in the moment / in the now.  When you can be still and connect with spirit by listening to your heart, you can allow nature’s song to flow through you!

In the modern world we talk about mindfulness, which is similar to enlightenment.  When we are mindful, we are in the present moment, we don’t dwell on the past and we don’t worry about the future.  When we “go within” and become still, we open our hearts and connect with our Source / our Creator / Divinity, which is within each and every one of us.

So – why not give it a try!  Next time your gut feelings surface, don’t ignore it or push it away.  Stop, breathe and listen.  Become aware that there is more to you than just the chatter in your head; more than just a physical body.  There is a soul, a spirit within, that wants to connect with you and help you on your earthly journey.

(Info and interview with Sri Sri Ravishankar in the magazine Complete Yoga)