I have recently begun using products from the wide range from Danish company Urtekram, which focuses on delivering gorgeous products for those with sensitivity, allergy or simply wanting something more natural in their cosmetics and pampering. They are particularly hot on ensuring products like the hand creams meet with standards for organic certification, green/eco and vegan living. So often, companies striving to fulfil such stringent standards, fail to then produce items that are gorgeous and lovely to use, but not so with these hand creams! I have the Rose and Nordic Birch versions and both of them are absolutely lovely. The textures, first of all, are rich and creamy, without being oily. So your hand cream stays where it should do – on your hands. This kind of texture is especially welcome during the colder months, when skin needs that extra boost of moisture and comfort. The other top feature is the scents. If you like anything on the rose and rose geranium vibe, then the Rose hand cream ticks the box. Admittedly, it has more of the geranium oil than rose oil quality, but it really is a luxurious smelling and feeling product, which has been making me feel cared about each time I use it. Needless to say there’s not much left of the 75 ml pinky-red tube, which has fitted very handily into my handbag. The other winner is the Nordic Birch, packaged in a lilac pink tube – the colour matches its light fragrance and general feeling of sensitivity, mixed with freshness. This cream has a really subtle and uplifting scent, designed to evoke the experience of walking through woodland and enjoying the fresh air. Subtle, but slightly heady, one to relax with whilst listening, perhaps, to Elkie Brooks singing Lilac Wine! Nordic Birch currently sits on my bedside table and provides a reassuring hand caress before bedtime. Both tubes feature easy, flip open caps and are of a slightly chubby, friendly build. As well as these products being easy to use and lovely to apply, what I am enjoying is that they make my hands feel so much better, pampered and nourished. And although there are some fragrances involved, they are natural and non-irritating so I haven’t ended up with the usual dryness, itching or redness that I can get from so many hand creams. I am looking forward to exploring more from the Urtekram range – I think they’re a company to look out for. UK stockists include the independent store, Lansdown Health Foods in Lewes, East Sussex (Tel: 01273 474681). The full range of Urtekram products can be viewed at http://www.urtekram.com/.
HayMax Organic Pollen Barrier Balm for Hayfever
Now also available in Lavender and Aloe Vera Options
Here is the latest update on Haymax – I was glad, just recently, to see a box of this product on the counter of a local, independent health food store in Haslemere, Surrey, too!
Now Three Out of Top Four Supermarkets Stock HayMax
HayMax, the organic pollen barrier balm for hayfever sufferers, is now available in over 200 Morrisons stores nationwide. Morrisons joins Tesco and Asda of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets stocking this drug-free balm.
Morrisons Buyer, Stephanie Brown comments: “We’re pleased to be stocking HayMax as it is has a good track record. It will help extend our range and give customers more choice and value when looking for ways to help with their hayfever, dust and pet allergies.”
Since it is drug-free, HayMax is suitable for pregnant and breast feeding women, and is great for children. There are no drowsy side-effects, so it’s ideal when driving and for people taking exams. The balm comes in a handy pot, so fits easily into a hand bag, school bag, sports bag, briefcase or pocket.
HayMax is applied around the base of the nostrils. It works by trapping pollen before it enters the nasal passages. Hayfever is a reaction to too much pollen in the body. Each person has a ‘trigger’ level, above which they suffer from symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and watering eyes, but below which they have no reaction. By trapping pollen, HayMax helps keep the sufferer below their trigger level, helping keep them symptom free.
Invented in his own kitchen by company founder and MD, Max Wiseberg, HayMax has gone from strength to strength in a little over 8 years. It has won no less than 18 awards, including the Janey Loves Platinum Award for 2012 for the second year in a row, and highly commended from Natural Lifestyle for 2012. It is regularly positively reviewed by doctors in the media, including Dr Chris Steele MBE on ITV1 no less than 4 times!
Last year the balm was proven to trap over one third of the pollen grains in the air , and the same study found that it also traps cat dander and dust mite droppings, two of the most common indoor airborne allergens.
HayMax™ retails at £6.99 for a 5ml pot and is available from selected branches of Morrisons nationwide. More information is available from HayMax™ at http://www.haymax.biz or on 01525 406600.
 Chief Investigator: Professor Roy Kennedy, Principal Investigator: Louise Robertson, Researcher: Dr Mary Lewis, National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, 1st February 2012.
Original Article, published on GoldenCup 26 June 2011 @ 15.32:
Having had to deal with allergies for many years, it’s always refreshing to see some alternative way of coping with them. Hence I was pleased to see this little plastic pot of Hay Max appear on the market in the Spring of 2009. The producers have now expanded the range to three options: Pure, Lavender and Aloe Vera.
Hay Max is an organic, drug-free balm intended to help stop sneezing and allergy reactions to pollen, through trapping the pollen before it gets into the delicate membranes of the nose.
The idea is you just apply a small amount around the base of the nostrils. It’s easy to use and the pot is small enough to carry around in a handbag or purse. An added bonus is that the balm does not have a strong fragrance and, even in its pure form, contains aloe vera or aloe barbadensis, helpful for the reduction of inflammation.
Another ingredient is sunflower oil, both of which can help to moisturise a nose that has become sore through too much wiping with tissues! Nonetheless the balm does not have a greasy feel.
Any drawbacks? It is not clear whether it is intended to also help with itchy eye allergy problems which are often a problem with hayfever and rhinitis (household dust allergy). However, as it works with the point of entry of irritants to the nose, it may also help with eye irritation – worth a try!
All in all, HayMaxTM looks like a fairly straightforward product with simple ingredients; it is nice to use and it won’t make you drowsy. Well worth giving it a go, I think, when pollen season strikes. Price on launch was £6.80 for a 5ml pot but look around for variations. Available in good chemists, pharmacies and health food stores.
Article Text Copyright: Diana McMahon Collis 2011 – to reproduce this article please credit the author and let us know where you have published it – with thanks!
First review published at: Qassia April 2009 with permission
This post could also have been be entitled “Oxytocin – for feeling good generally”. Because this is a brain chemical – a neuropeptide – which creates a great feel-good response in the mind/body; it also does so in relation to other humans – you could say it’s sort of socially contagious, in a good way. Some researchers are even dubbing it as “Social Viagra”! Oxytocin is isolated and captured as an actual substance, which is prescribed in nasal spray form, for individuals struggling with social phobia. But it is also naturally produced in the body in any case, under various conditions. In an automatic, practical way, it is produced during the physical processes of sexual climax, childbirth and expression of breast milk. In a more everyday, going-about-your-business kind of way, release of this hormone can be triggered through simply being nice to someone else. This behaviour makes you feel good and may also elicit a pleasant response from the other person which, in turn, adds to your own feel-good factor, through the feedback loop of the positive social interaction. In other words, it’s a lot like the knock on effect of tuning into certain states of mind (moods or modes of feeling and being) which then generate more of themselves through the law of attraction – as shown in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know.
There are some good reports around on Oxytocin. You can also get the lowdown in a really straightforward way from author Dr David Hamilton, who has thoroughly researched this area, in his book Why Kindness Is Good For You.
One of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s quite a fat read (just under 600 pages) but I managed to whizz through it in half of a week-long holiday in Mykonos. A gripping tale and it doesn’t take too much imagination to pinpoint who the hero and anti-hero are based on! Or maybe antagonist and protagonist would be more accurate terms for describing the two newspaper barons depicted in The Fourth Estate. If you want a real insight into how the media operates and how the news is created – er recorded – you could do worse than read this book. I had no idea how gifted a storyteller Jeffrey Archer is until I read it. His time in politics was clearly not wasted, even if it only meant that he observed a great deal about the media machine! I wonder if his other books are as enthralling; I particularly liked the subject matter in this one. And if you’ve come across The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho you might even find a few echoes of that in here (no, really!). Archer manages to evoke sympathy for deeply flawed characters and never fails to shock in style.
Anything with a possible tree of life on the cover is worth a second look!
Author: Noreen Jameson
Artist: Noreen Jameson
“Branching Out” is the fifth in a series of books by Noreen Jameson. Noreen is a metaphysician, healer, and Druid – her books deal with empowering ourselves, and becoming authentic people. I cannot recommend them highly enough! The first three books in this series (“Petals of the R.O.S.E.”, “Wells of Wisdom”, and “Whispers … I know …”) were meant to act as the “roots” of an all-encompassing Tree. Her fourth book, “Lifescapes”, was meant to act as the trunk of the Tree. In the fifth book, “Branching Out”, there is an expansion of previous information, along with new “buds” of information being presented. What we are seeing here is the highly esoteric (IMHO) being brought down to an everyday understanding.
What will you find in this book? A ton of information, that’s what! Okay, to be more…
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Hayfever affects nearly 40% of children and peaks in adolescence, frequently during exam times, when students are trying to perform at their best. Researchers conducting a study in June 2007 concluded that those students who suffer with hay fever on the day of their exam are 40% more likely to drop a grade between their mock and final GCSE’s than students who don’t suffer with hayfever – rising to 70% if they are taking a sedating antihistamine treatment. 
I certainly wish that something like the Qu-Chi acupressure band had been around when I was sitting exams at school, as having a bout of hayfever all through my Maths O-Level definitely affected my performance and my results!
The Qu-Chi band has been developed by acupuncturist Andrew Broch and is a simple but effective device for tackling the symptoms associated with hayfever and related allergies such as rhinitis. In a nutshell, histamine reactions that show up around the facial area can be tackled and indeed prevented with this band. This is what Airtight International, the manufacturers, say, in more detail:
“The band works by utilising the “Qu-Chi” acupuncture pressure point, which is a specific focus-point on the body, linked to the front of the face and the sinuses. This point is used to pull heat away from the face and reduces the affect associated with symptoms and has been shown to reduce the affective effects of histamine type reactions in the body.”
The way that Andrew Broch, its inventor, explains it is: ‘If you imagine your body as an onion, it has many layers. Acupuncturists believe that if the body’s energy is in the superficial level of the body, it will be more sensitive to whatever the body comes into contact with such as pollen, perfume, dust, paint, animal hair, etc and thus produces histamine to help defend against attack. So I came up with a proto-type band to see how effective it would be if the qu-chi point was isolated with an acupressure marble. When stimulated, the Qu-chi point moves this superficial energy inwards towards the centre of the body, so the body is not as sensitive and does not react when coming into contact with pollen.’
Here is the lowdown on the Qu-Chi band in use, by a long-term sufferer of hayfever and rhinitis symptoms.
How to use it: one band goes one side of the elbow, the other band goes the other side, with the black button on the acupressure point in the crease of the elbow. Instructions in the pack explain where this spot is and how to be sure you have found it, ie it feels slightly tender when pressed.
Times of Usage: The band can be used both day and night. Although it is not completely clear from the pack information how long it is to be used for at each usage, I found that it worked best to keep it on for quite a while, ie several hours at a time. For a few hours I found it to be painless to wear; when I wore it all day long I did feel at some point that I wanted to take it off. Maybe it was just an indication that the band had done its job!
Care: The Qu-Chi band is machine washable and claims to be hard wearing; I hope it will live up to this claim as some of the stitching came a little loose on the band I was trialling. However, so far it has remained intact just through general usage.
How it works: the black plastic button presses on the Qu-Chi acupressure point, which moves sensations in the facial areas to further within the body. The idea here is that any exterior irritants are not registered as irritations at the surface level, so the usual histamine reaction associated with an allergic response to incoming toxins or irritants does not occur.
Results: Does it actually work in practice? For me the answer was an unequivocal yes! I should add that, these days, my main symptoms tend to occur around the eye area and occasionally I also experience an itchy throat. Mostly, I get itchy eyes and, if I can’t resist the urge to itch, will often end up with eye infections such as red eye and conjunctivitis, which can be difficult to clear. At best my eyes will become sore from rubbing them and the itching is an annoying distraction. My usual mode of both preventative and curative action is to use eye drops. But since trying the Qu-Chi band I am impressed at finding it to be as effective as drops, in the early stages of irritation. Where it is perhaps less effective is in coping with an infection state once that has set in, which is not something that it claims to do in any case. If used at the initial moment of irritation, or soon after, it does seem to relieve the itching – both with eyes and throat.
Advantages: The Qu-Chi acupressure band is “unisex”, suitable for both men and women, boys and girls. In the pack picture the band appears in a shade of beige. The one I received was pink and toned in reasonably well with my particular skin tone. Some people might argue that pink is more of an advantage for girls, but with such items as surfer bracelets and festival fabric jewellery around these days, it does look cool and fun in pink! Thinking of holiday and sports use, as the band can go into water, I imagine that it could happily be worn when swimming, or in the shower. What is not entirely clear is whether the band being wet affects the tautness of the fabric, which keeps the acupressure button or “marble” in place; but possibly not as the elastic quality would still remain. Cost wise, at £9.95, the band is quite economical compared with ongoing supplies of orthodox hayfever applications, given that it can be used again and again. It should be added that it can, however, be used with other medications if need be. The band is also lightweight to carry around and can be easily kept in a handbag when not needed. The Qu-Chi band claims to be fast-acting and to not cause drowsiness. I found that my symptoms reduced within ten minutes of wearing it, which, to me, seemed to be quite quick. I also did not feel especially drowsy having applied the band, so I do feel that it lives up to these claims. The symptoms it alleviates include the following: runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, tiredness, headache and lack of concentration. You can put the band on either before symptoms appear, or as soon as you notice them.
Disadvantages: After longer use (3 hours or more) I did wish I could take the band off as it felt slightly taut on my arm. The adult size is “one size” and my arms are probably average size. I wonder if it will be comfortable enough for an adult with much wider arm circumference. The maker’s say it is suitable for people of all ages, although there is no specific mention of babies and I imagine there may be a risk of baby pulling the band off and swallowing it. However, the instructions make clear that it is not to be used by pregnant women, as this acupressure point can induce labour. Additionally, as part of the effect of the band drawing energy away from the face and towards the internal organs, I noticed that my taste buds were slightly impaired when eating and, later, that there was a degree of abdominal pain and extra activity in the organs. This occurred on two separate occasions when the band was worn for several hours at a time and reminded me of the side effects from taking antihistamine medication for rhinitis. However, from the point of view of the Chinese medicine, of which acupressure is a part, maybe this would be viewed as a positive outcome, with the body undergoing a process of detoxification and rebalancing within the organs. I also experienced a ‘flu virus not long after using the band, which suggested to me that this mode of help for an allergy might be tapping into an underlying cause and bringing it to the surface.
Conclusion: The basic idea behind this band is brilliant and the band works similarly to “water bands” aimed at helping people who suffer with sea sickness. In fact, for me it worked better than those do, or at least I found it more effective for relieving hayfever symptoms than I found water bands to be for relieving sea-sickness. So even if you have tried water bands and they did not help, the Qu-Chi band is still worth a try for helping with symptoms relating to hayfever and allergic rhinitis. I very much liked that the band is easily portable, simple to use and effective. It is nice to have another method for tackling symptoms of itchiness in the eyes, especially when in a situation where it is difficult to apply eye drops. There is no mess involved in using the band. I was surprised at how effective it was for my symptoms, including stalling an itchy throat, which, for me, can often be the precursor to a sudden bout of sneezing and watery eyes. I also occasionally experience facial itchiness relating to eczema and think that I will be reaching for the Qu-Chi band to help with that situation, too! For anyone who has ever suffered the debilitating effects of a day of relentless hayfever or rhinitis, this has to be a handy product to keep on hand.
Availability: Retailing at £9.95, the Qu-Chi band is available from http://www.qu-chi.co.uk and http://www.asda-pharmacy.co.uk, as well as Amazon, Manor Pharmacies and many independent chemists and pharmacies nationwide. You can also order direct from the ‘Qu-Chi’ mail order hotline on 0113 350 5432. Qu-Chi also has distributors in Spain, Denmark, Japan and Slovenia
Note:  Findings from a Hayfever and exam performance Study commissioned by the charity Education for Health, in June 2007. For more information see Donald MacLeod’s in depth article in the Guardian Education section dated 13th June 2007:
Review/Article Text Copyright Diana McMahon-Collis 2011
Not everyone is clear about the difference between vitamins and minerals or the benefits of taking several different kinds at once, in a multi form.
The simple fact is that vitamins work together, in many ways, so Multis are generally a good idea. These days it’s not just about basic nutrition but optimum nutrition. This means we have a choice about adding items into the diet in supplement form, to help specific situations. We don’t expect to see too many people with scurvy these days because we know that Vitamin C stops health going downhill in that way! But it is surprising how often the lack of a specific mineral, for instance, can result in various minor problems, especially when it comes to bone and skin health. Likewise, a general boost to feelings of wellbeing can often be present when the full Vitamin spectrum is covered in the diet – or adequately supplemented.
Sometimes we just want a multivitamin product for a feeling of “health insurance”. It’s really great, if working long hours or feeling a little stressed, to know that the extra help is being received from a daily dose of a decent multi supplement.
The well respected health products company Solgar now has Omnium, a combined Multiple Vitamin and Mineral formula supplement. Omnium arrives in a classy dark brown glass jar with a gold and purple label. It clearly communicates quality and safety and this is reflected in both outer and inner safety seals.
The product itself is a fairly large, purple pill – sugar, salt and starch free and suitable for vegans. Solgar suggest taking two per day. These pack a punch as they contain a wide range of nutrients, even including Coenzyme Q-10, good for if you do regular sports activities, as well as Vitamins C, D, E and K and a good range of B vitamins. Maybe the most appealing part, though, is the broad mineral base, including Magnesium, Calcium, Selenium and Zinc – to name but a few.
As with any high grade Multi, it is wise to think carefully about any single supplements or other combinations that you might also be taking, because it is possible to have too much of a good thing. But if you are looking for your nutrient back up from a single source, Omnium could be a good bet. It appears to be a sound, quality product containing a very wide range of nutrients.
As you might expect, this kind of advanced nutrition product comes at a price, so expect to pay, typically, around £17.50 for a 30 tablet jar. But maybe weigh this against the fact that Co-enzyme and a good Vitamin B Multi can, alone, be pretty costly. I tried Omnium for a month and did feel my health was well supported during that time.
For more information, visit:http://www.solgar.co.uk/
Article Text Copyright: Diana McMahon Collis 2010 – to reproduce this article please credit the author and let us know where you have published it – with thanks!