Woodland Herbs

Monthly Newsletter: August 2008

In this issue

Welcome to your regular newsletter from Woodland Herbs. We hope you will find it interesting, entertaining and useful. If you do not wish to continue to receive this email please email us at unsubscribe@woodlandherbs.co.uk

Summer Sun

Sunshine As we approach the end of the summer we always hope for a final heatwave. We are often told that the sun is our enemy, however it is better to think of it as our friend. Although the sun’s solar rays can damage our skin, they also help regulate our moods and help to strengthen our bones. This year the importance of sunlight has been highlited with research published showing the importance of vitamin D in many aspects of our health. A large proportion of our vitamin D is produced by the action of sunlight on our skin, therefore sunlight does not just make us feel good, it is required for our health. At Woodland Herbs we feel that if you treat the sun with the respect it deserves you can make the best of the summer sun.

It is very important to know your skin type as the more fair skinned you are, the more protection you will need and the longer you should spend acclimatising to the sun. Sounds simple, but many people ignore this fact and end up badly burnt after their first day in the hot sun.

Another thing people don’t realise is how much our diet affects the condition of our skin. Before exposing our skin to the sun it is important to feed your skin cells with important vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Beta carotene (the precursor to vitamin A) helps protect us from the damaging effects of free radicals, experts recommend that we should consume 20- 50mg of it each day (ideally from the diet, but a mixed carotenoid supplement may also be useful). Another excellent natural source of antioxidants is tomatoes. Taken as part of a daily diet tomatoes can provide us with a great source of antioxidants (especially if eaten cooked). When it comes to diet for healthy skin, water is absolutely essential. Dehydrated skin doesn’t tan well, so ensure adequate water intake.

Safe Tanning

Ultimately there is no such thing as safe tanning, but there are a few ways to prevent some of the damage that occurs. The tanning process is your body developing its own protection from the sun, therefore it is vital to start slowly and build up gently, while avoiding sun-burn. Avoiding sunbathing during the hottest part of the day means that you will protect your skin from the most damaging rays (11am-3pm). To learn more about reducing you risks from the sun visit Cancer research UK's website as this includes good advice on appropriate SPF factors. This is especially important for children who are more at risk than adults.

There are natural products which can help build up your own resistance and help your body to recover from sunshine. One of the simplest is to take a course of horsetail (Equisetum arvense) as a tincture or a tea before going out in the sun – it strengthens the connective tissue and aids recovery. It is a source of silica which is easy to absorb (shouldn’t be taken in pregnancy, kidney disease or for extended periods of time).

Sunburn

If the worst happens and you find yourself suffering from sunburn there are a range of different herbs that can be used to help sunburn. Aloe vera gel is one of the simplest and can be spread onto the skin to cool and sooth the skin. Natural aftersuns such as Weleda’s use a mix of oils, aloe vera and butters to moisturise the skin and reduce the effects of the burns. The sun can also trigger cold sores, so if you are prone to cold sores consider taking Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) or the amino acid Lysine before going away.

Skin Cancer

Although we have tried to highlight the good parts of sun tanning, skin cancer is a disease which is on the increase in the UK. It is something everybody should be aware of and watchful for. Firstly everyone need to look out for any changes in moles on the skin. Closely examine your moles regularly for any changes, the lighter your complexion the more necessary it is to keep a close eye on them. If you notice any change contact your doctor immediately. Do not hesitate as the earlier any changes are treated the greater the chance that all will be well.

Featured Natural Remedies – Insect Repellents

insect Insects are one of the worst annoyances of holidays, especially here in Scotland; however insect repellents can help reduce the frequency of bites you receive. There are huge range of lotions and sprays you can apply to your skin, and we like Bioforce's Herbal Insect Repellent which is a natural insect repellent using neem, lavender and rosemary. It has been successfully tested on the Scottish Midgie. You can always make your own insect repellent, one of the classic essential oils for repelling insects is Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus). However there are a wide range of scents that many people have found useful, it appears that each culture has its own favourite insect repellant made from indigenous plants.

If you are travelling to a country with malaria please seek specialist advice

Herb of the Month, Neem

NeemNeem (Azadirachta indica) is one the most useful medicinal plants to come from the Indian subcontinent. Just about every part of the tree is used from the leaf, to the roots, all of which have different properties. One of the useful properties is its insecticide action, it is so potent that the neem tree is left untouched by plagues of locusts! Neem has along history of use for skin conditions and Neem Cream applied topically may be used for a wide range of skin conditions. Alternatively Pure Neem Oil can also be used directly on the skin, however be aware that it is quite smelly and is solid on cold days.