Caring For Your Hands Naturally

February 16th, 2006

When you hear about Wrinkles and skin aging, your first thoughts are about face and neck. But the earliest signs of aging will show on your hands.

Often neglected, hands need to be regularly taken care of. Frequent contacts with water and chemicals, sun, cold weather, gardening - all put your skin under a big Stress. While hands do not have many oil glands, they will give away your age earlier than your pampered face.

In the meantime, it has been noticed that after making eye contact, the next thing people pay attention to is your hands.

What can you do to keep your hands beautiful?

  • Moisturize! Several times a day. Dry Skin is easily injured and looks wrinkled.
  • Protect your hands - wear gloves when gardening, washing dishes, or dealing with chemicals
  • Use sun protection
  • Keep your hands dry. Any water left on your hands will evaporate and dry out the skin.
  • Give your hands a special treatment - herbal or oil bath - once in a while.

Here are a few suggestions for your next hand spa:

  • Herbal hand bath Bring 1 qt of water to boil and pour over 1 tbsp of Herbs (you can use all of these or just one: Chamomile, Nettle, Sage, Coltsfoot, Calendula). Let the infusion cool to 100-110F and soak your hands in it for about 15-20 minutes. Dry your hands thoroughly and apply a rich Moisturizer.

  • You can make your own nourishing hand cream. Thoroughly mix 1 teaspoon of honey and 3 tbsp of unsalted butter. Add 1 tbsp of strong herbal infusion. This will make a very rich cream. It will take a while to absorb, but leave your hands silky and smooth.

  • For Dry Skin use this hand treatment 1-2 times a week: 1 tbsp Glycerin 1 Egg yolk 2 tbsp vegetable oil (olive, almond, or another oil of your choice) Lemon Juice of 1 lemon 3 1/2 - 4 oz of an herbal infusion (for example: Chamomile, Calendula, elderflower) or Rose water.

Other tips: - Mashed potatoes (with milk) will make a great hand Mask. - When cooking with eggs, don’t throw the eggshells away. Scrape out the remaining egg white and spread it over your hands. - Rubbing your skin with a piece of lemon will give the skin a more even tone. - After washing dishes or dealing with other alkali detergents, rinse your hands with sour milk or with vinegar-in-water solution (1 tbsp. vinegar per 2qt of water). This will help to restore pH balance of the skin. - Keep your hands warm. Not only for the sake of better skin, but for your overall health. Flue and Colds often start with cold hands.

Tip for gardeners: - Before digging in the dirt, scratch a bar of Soap with your nails. When you are done working, cleaning your hands will be so much easier!

Nails. Just like your skin and hair, your nails need moisture and conditioning too. Here are few tips for better nails:

  • If you use nail polish, do not use acetone polish removers.
  • From time to time give your nails a break - let them be “naked” for a few days.
  • For stronger nails, soak them in Horsetail infusion.
  • Olive Oil that you probably have in your pantry will make a perfect strengthening nail bath (warm it first).
  • Cuticles. Removing them is not always a good idea because it makes your nails more vulnerable to infections. Yet, if you decide to do the procedure, prepare the nails first: apply a rich cream to the cuticle area soak your nails in warm soapy water for 5-6 minutes. after drying your hands, push the cuticles back and then carefully cut them off with small scissors.

As always, topical measures are not always enough, especially if you have brittle, split or dull nails.

There are Vitamins that will help:

  • Organic Silica - to speed up the growth, avoid brittle and split nails.
  • Essential Fatty Acids - Omega 3-6, Primrose Oil, Borage Oil, Fish Oil - for healthy and strong nails.
  • Vitamin B (particularly B5) - for healthy nails and skin.
  • Chelated Iron - to avoid vertical ridges and spoon nails.
  • MSM (Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane) - provides building material for healthy cells.

For better absorption of Vitamins and minerals, take digestive enzymes or bitters to stimulate digestion and help your body clean itself of toxins.

Whichever way you choose to care for your hands, even if it is just a hand Lotion from your local grocery store, use it regularly. After all, doing so many things, your hands deserve care and attention.

More Herbal Preparation Methods

February 16th, 2006

Infusion

Infusions are basically a herbal tea. You let the herb steep in hot or cold water for a while, then either reheat and drink, or drink it cool. You can use infusions in a bath, as a wash and for many other uses.

Method #1 – Hot – Infuse 1 heaped teaspoon of dry Herbs with one cup of boiling water. Steep for approx. 3-5 mins, and strain. - Cold – put 1 heaped teaspoon of dry Herbs in 1 cup of cold water and soak for 8-10 hours, strain and slightly warm before drinking.

Method #2 – (Chinese method) If you are using oyster shell, dragon bone or other minerals you have to add them to 6 cups of boiling water, simmer for 30 mins. If you have no minerals, or after the minerals have simmered for 30 mins, add your heavy roots and bark and simmer for another 20-30 mins. Then add any lighter twigs, fruits and leaves, simmer for another 10-15 mins. Finally remove from the heat and add any leaves and flowers, cover and steep for 10-20 mins. Strain, it’s ready to drink.

Method #3 – Steep 2 teaspoons of dry herbal mixture in 2 cups of boiling water for 10-15 mins.

Method #4 – Steep ½ oz – 1oz dried herbal mixture to 1 pint (600ml) of water for 10-20 mins, then strain and drink.

Herbal Wine

Use a sweet red wine with an alcohol content of at least 12%. Cover four ounces of herb with three cups of wine. Leave for a week before straining.

Take four teaspoons one or two times daily. Herbal wine is best used within a month.

Cream

A cream is a blend of oil, beeswax and water. You can make your own, or purchase an unscented, water based cream. After adding herb to purchased cream, simmer in the top of a double boiler for 30 minutes. Strain before it cools.

Melt two ounces beeswax in a double boiler. Add one cup olive or other vegetable oil and blend. Add two ounces herb. For lighter cream, add a little water, mixing well. Simmer 20 minutes, mixing well. Add a drop of tincture of Benzoin as a preservative. Strain thorough a cloth in to sterilized jars

Decoction

A Decoction is used when a plant is not soluble in hot or cold water but will be released by simmering. This is used for roots, heavy wooden plants. Make sure you don’t use an aluminium saucepan, as the metal will leech into the tea. Glass or ceramic is best.

Method #1 – Use 1teaspoon dried plant matter to 1 cup of water. Simmer for 5-20 mins. 5 minutes for shredded plant, and 20 mins for larger pieces. Strain while hot. Drink.

Method #2 – Use a handful of fresh herb, or 1 teaspoon of dried herb, simmer for 30 mins in 1cup of water.

Method # 3 – Take 30g (1oz) dried herbal mixture and 500ml (16floz) cold water in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 mins.

Compress

Also called Fomentation. This is used when the Herbs are too strong to ingest, as the skin allows a smaller amount of the herb to be absorbed slowly by the body.

Method – Make a herbal infusion/decoction and soak a face cloth, or cotton cloth in this. Squeeze out excess liquid, and apply to the effected area.

Capsules

Capsules are used when the plant is unpalatable to take as a tea, or for Herbs which require small doses. You can purchase empty capsules from most health food shops.

Method – Capsules come in 3 sizes, “0”, “00”, “000” being small, medium (normal) and large. A medium capsule will hold approx ½ teaspoon of herb. Fill the capsule with powdered herb. 1 capsule is equivalent to 1 cup of herbal tea.

Bolus

A bolus is a suppository made from adding powdered Herbs to cocoa butter to form a thick paste, which is then refrigerated. Once the bolus is hardened, bring it to room temperature, and it is ready to use. The cocoa butter will melt with the body heat releasing the Herbs. You might like to wear old underwear to prevent staining as the bolus melts.

Extracts

These are made to treat ailments such as strained muscles, Arthritis or inflammation. It is similar to a tincture, but may be made using oil, vinegar or alcohol.

Method – Place 4oz of dried Herbs of 8oz of fresh herb into a jar. Add 1 pint of Vinegar, alcohol or Vegetable oil. Shake the jar twice a day for 4 days for powdered herb, or 15 days for whole/chopped/sliced etc. Herbs. Vitamin E or wheatgerm oil can be added to oil based extracts to help preserve them.

Ointments

Ointments are used when the active principles of the herb are needed for longer periods of time, such as muscular Aches.

Method #1 – Take 1 – 2 heaped tablespoons of herb and bring to the boil in vaseline, stir then strain. Use cold.

Method #2 – Melt ¼ cup each of beeswax and vegetable oil in a double boiler until the wax is molten. Add a tablespoon of herbal extract (in an oil base), herbal infused oil or Essential Oils. If you wish to use Herbs, use 1 tablespoon of dried herb, and strain through a heated metal strainer.

Oils

Oils are used when ointments or compresses are not practical. Always store your oils in amber glass bottles to prevent sunlight from reacting with the oils.

Method – Take 2 oz plant matter to 1 pint of oil. Leave this to stand for 4 days. If you want this process to happen quickly, you can heat the oil in a saucepan for 1 hour. A small amount of Vitamin E or Wheatgerm oil can be added to help preserve the oil.

Poultice

A poultice is made from warm mashed Herbs, which are applied directly to the skin. Used for inflammation, bites, boils, abscesses etc. You should apply oil to the area before applying the poultice.

Method #1 – Add hot water, apple cider vinegar, herbal tea, liniment or tincture to the desired Herbs, and mash them into a paste.

Method #2 – In a saucepan bring water to the boil, suspend a sieve over the pan, and place into the sieve the fresh or dried Herbs you will be using. Steam, these for a few minutes. Spread the softened Herbs onto a cloth and apply to the affected area. Cover the compress with a bandage and leave for 2 hours.

Salve

A salve is similar to an ointment

Method – Take dried or fresh Herbs and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 mins. Strain and add to an equal amount of vegetable oil. Simmer until the remaining water has evaporated from the oil. Add enough beeswax to give the salve a thick consistency (Remembering that it hardens as it cools) and pour into a jar.

Syrup

Syrups are used for coughs, congestion, Sore Throats etc.

Method #1 – Take 2 oz herb and boil in 1 quart of water until it has reduced to about 1 pint. While still warm ass 2 oz of honey and/or glycerine..

Method #2 – Take 600ml (1 pint) boiling water and 900g (2 lb) of sugar. Bring this to the boil. Take off the heat, stir in tincture (3 parts syrup to 1 part tincture)

Tincture

Tinctures are similar to extracts but are made using alcohol, allowing it to keep for longer periods of time. People with weak digestion may have trouble with tinctures.

Method #1 – Combine 4oz of powdered or chopped herb with 1 pint of alcohol (Vodka, brandy, Gin, Rum etc.) Shake daily for 2 weeks, strain and bottle.

Method #2 – Take a jar and place the dried herbal mixture into the bottom. Add alcohol to cover the Herbs plus 1 inch. Leave sit for 2 weeks, strain.

Herbal Bath

A herbal bath is goof for fevers and Stress related conditions. A foot bath can be made for soaking tired sore feet, or for food conditions such a tinea, athletes foot and corns.

Method – Steep 200g of dried herb in cold water for 12 hours. Heat the infusion and then add it to your bath water. For a foot bath, steep 50g of herb with the method above, and add to a bucket of water.

Inhalation

Place 50g of dried herb in a bowl or in the sink. Pour a litre of boiling water over the Herbs. Cover your head with a towel and hang your head over the bowl/sink to inhale the steam.

Eardrops

Slice Garlic and place in a small amount of Olive Oil. Add a few Lavender flowers. Leave sit for 2 hours then strain. Warm 1 tsp of oil by placing it over a cup of hot water. Put few drops into the ear and plug with cotton wool.

Medication for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Alternative Anxiety Disorder Treatments

February 16th, 2006

by Tess Thompson

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most difficult of the Anxiety disorders to diagnose because it lacks many of the more dramatic symptoms of other disorders. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are not always prone to Panic Attacks, for example, and do not necessarily fear social situations. GAD usually includes subtler symptoms, such as excessive worry about things like work, family, health or money, and can be accompanied by physical symptoms that include muscle twitching, Headaches, sweating, or gastrointestinal trouble. The National Institute of Health classifies a specific symptom of GAD as being excessive worry or Anxiety occurring more days than not for at least a six month period. Many who experience this can begin to feel frustrated and helpless, but there are a variety of successful treatments and therapy that can help restore patients to a normal life.

Individual therapy is generally recommended for people with GAD, as many do not feel comfortable discussing their symptoms in a group environment. Therapy sessions should Focus on identifying Stress factors, practicing Relaxation techniques and Breathing exercises, and helping the individual find a balance between work, family, personal time and other obligations.

Doctors occasionally prescribe medication as one of the treatments for Anxiety if the individual’s symptoms are so intense that they interfere with psychotherapy and Relaxation exercises. Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (also known as Valium) and lorazepam (Xanax) are the most commonly prescribed medications for this type of disorder, but it should be noted that there is not much clinical research that has shown these types of medications to be more effective than others. Benzodiazepines can produce sedative side effects that affect performance and daily functioning, and medication for Generalized Anxiety Disorder should only be taken if absolutely necessary and always under professional supervision.

It can often also be beneficial to explore alternative Anxiety disorder treatments like herbal medications. The herb Passiflora Incarnata (Passion Flower) is regularly used to provide Anxiety relief, and as a treatment for isomnia, hyperactivity and Nervous Tension. Lemon Balm is an overall Nervous system restorative that can also successfuly calm symptoms, as well as Lavender - the most popular and widely used natural ingredient for treatment of Anxiety and an active ingredient in Panic Attack treatments as well.

Successful treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is attainable and should generally include a much more intense Focus on therapy than on prescription medication. Many who suffer from the disorder are able to overcome the symptoms purely through focusing their energy on learning how to identify stressors in their lives and regularly practicing methods for coping with them. Each person’s life is different, and so are each person’s symptoms, but individualized treatment can go a long way toward alleviating Anxiety and restoring a healthy life.



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