As I am writing this, it is a sparkling sunny day outside and my dry tickly cough has nearly disappeared thanks to a homemade natural cough mixture — so I’m feeling pretty positive about 2014! For the first column of the New Year I decided to focus on some simple natural detox and health-boosting remedies which are good value and surprisingly effective. First on my list is Castor Oil.
Some of you might recognise Castor Oil as an old midwife’s remedy and also as a constipation remedy; however using it internally really needs experience or supervision so I will focus on the external applications. Castor Oil has been studied as a remedy for thinning hair and eyebrows, and makes a fantastic hair smoothener (just use a couple of drops — too much and you can easily cross the line from smooth to greasy!). To stimulate hair growth you need to massage the oil into the scalp or eyebrows — I would do this at night — and in the case of the scalp it is so thick that you might find it easier to massage in if it is mixed with some other oil such as olive oil. But more interestingly still is the use of Castor Oil as a ‘pack’ to relieve pain and stimulate the immune system. A nutritionist I studied with years ago described Castor Oil as sunshine in a bottle — not in the sense of being a source of Vitamin D but more in the sense of being a source of healing light. This might sound a bit flakey, but if you think of how good most of us feel when we sunbathe (in moderation of course!) or even sit in front of a dancing log fire it might make some sense. We all need light to survive and thrive. Dr Mercola refers to several studies that examine Castor Oil ‘packing’ and it’s positive health effects (look up Castor Oil on articles.mercola.com) and he also gives detailed instruction on how to do it. If you like you could start by using Castor Oil as a massage oil on painful or inflamed areas, for example the lower back, or the abdomen if you have digestive complaints, or up your spine.
Another tried and tested natural remedy that is making a strong comeback is Epsom Salts. Epsom Salts contain Magnesium Sulphate, and many people take regular Epsom Salt baths to relax and unwind, help relieve pain, and to supplement magnesium, which is something most of us would do very well to try and get more of in any way possible. Epsom salts, known scientifically as hydrated magnesium sulfate is rich in both magnesium and sulfate. While both magnesium and sulfate can be poorly absorbed through the stomach, studies show increased magnesium levels from soaking in a bath enriched with Epsom salts! Magnesium and sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. They stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are thought to help detoxify the body of medicines and environmental contaminants. And I know from experience, magnesium is fantastic for restless legs and leg cramps. All this from a bath? Hurray! Add two cups of Epsom salts and soak for at least 12 minutes. You can do this three times weekly. You should be able to find Epsom Salts in your local healthfood shop.
In terms of basic internal detoxing, nothing can really beat Psyllium Husks and some well-chosen herb teas. Psyllium husk is a source of pure insoluble fibre. You can take Psyllium in water (please follow the directions carefully and make sure you take enough water) and it acts like a sponge and cleans you out inside — something most of us could do with after our Christmas excess.
Then add in some herb teas that support liver function — if you are on a budget why not start with Dandelion tea and Nettle Tea (if you make a pot with a bag of each of those — buy organic teas please! — and a bag of peppermint it will make a pretty OK tasting pot of tea). Another option is Golden Rod Tea from A.Vogel, which supports Kidney function — again, most of us have given our long-suffering kidneys a bashing with all the G & T’s recently so this can be a wise idea. Alternatively you could try Flor Essence Tea, which is a specific Detox blend that has been developed for use alongside cancer treatment to boost healing and detoxing of the stomach, bowels, kidneys, liver and lymphatic system. Finally, it’s time to throw out your LemSips and instead try the Organico Cold Buster! This is the real deal in terms of helping your body overcome a head cold that is heading down into the chest. It’s great for a tickly cough and also for a sore throat.
We have been experimenting with different recipes recently and the ‘Organico Cold Buster’ is very popular. To make: One handful dry carrageen moss, one organic lemon, halved
one inch long piece of ginger, sliced roughly
one inch long piece of turmeric, sliced roughly
six black peppercorns,
local honey to taste. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan and throw in the two halves as well. Put the rest of the ingredients (except the honey) into the pan (if you prefer you can put the carrageen into a small sieve and run it under the cold tap first), add one pint of water and simmer gently for approx 20 minutes. Add honey to taste. Strain into a bottle that fits in your fridge and when you need it add two or three spoonfuls of honey to taste to a mug of hot water and make a delicious warming and healing drink. If you just make a version with carrageen, lemon and honey it should be fine for young kids. All these ingredients should be found in your local healthfood shop.
As I finish this article, I’m enjoying my ‘Cold Buster’ and looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Take care folks and have a wonderful 2014!
Organico Shop Cafe and Bakery is open Monday to Saturday from 9.15am – 6pm (the Cafe from 10am – 5pm). Please call us on 02751391 or visit us online at www.organico.ie for more information, and look us up on FaceBook for tempting cafe menus and interesting health tips. None of this information is intended to replace medical advice, so if you are on medication or are concerned at all about your health please consult a medical practitioner before taking any foods in medicinal quantities.