aromatherapy, beauty, herbal medicine, nature, Uncategorized

Five natural beauty products I cannot live without

Patients often ask me for advice on natural cosmetics and skincare products.   The kind of products I choose personally must be naturally fragranced, free from as many artificial chemical nasties as is possible and actually work.  When you tick these boxes, these products are also an absolute delight to use and way  more luxurious than their big brand name, highly artificial cousins.  Cleopatra herself, may have been tempted by these natural and luxurious essentials.

So, here are my top five natural beauty products:

Jane Iredale Mineral Makeup

This is the most lovely makeup I have ever used.  In fact, I’m surprised how often people comment on my skin when I’m wearing it, the minerals give you a healthy glow.  And they won’t block your pores but they will give you sun protection.  The makeup is actually good for promoting healthy skin.   That’s a far cry from traditional foundations which contribute to blocked  pores and breakouts!  Some of their products contain essential oils and their lip and eye colours are very pretty too.  Jane Iredale is on the more expensive side but a little goes a long way and it is well worth the price.

Alchemy Shampoo and Conditioner

Alchemy is a great range off Australian made and owned hair care products.   They don’t use parabens or sulphate in their products.  What is great about their shampoo and conditioners is that they contain herbal extracts and essential oils so that not only does your hair smell amazing, but it will look and feel great too!

Uspa Skincare

This line of skincare is perhaps the best I have ever used.  Uspa products are made in Australia from organic plant-based ingredients where possible.  The difference between Uspa and other natural cosmetic brands is that Uspa is mainly used and sold by beauty therapists, not health food stores and pharmacies.  The level of quality and the results they deliver for your skin are beautifully noticeable.  I’m a devotee of their Awaken Foam Cleanser, Bamboo Polish and Moisture Control Lotion with Vitamin C.  Did I mention that these products also smell amazing?

MiEssence Aluminium-free Deodorant

Now, I’ve tried a lot of aluminium-free deodorants and I can say that many of them, with the best intentions and theory behind them, just don’t work.  But this one does!  It’s the only one that I have found that really does work.  It comes in fragrance-free, ancient spice (for the boys) and tahitian breeze (a delightful natural floral fragrance).  The company behind this product source organic ingredients and are another Australian natural cosmetics success story.  You can usually find this one at your local health food store.

Sunspirit Essential Oils

This range of 100% pure essential oils has long been my favourite and most trusted aromatherapy brand.  I love using these essential oils in salt scrubs, face masks, body oils, bath blends and in spritzers.  Sunspirit is another Australian brand who have been committed to sourcing and supplying high quality, therapeutic grade essential oils for over 35 years.  I was lucky enough to tour the laboratory facility that undertakes the testing of their essential oils last week.  The state of the art facility has a high commitment to quality control.  What that means is the herbs are tested for chemical markers to ensure they are the correct plant, that the quality of the herb is good enough to have a therapeutic effect (desired markers in the plant’s chemical profile are present and in the right amounts) and the essential oil will be stable and therapeutic for the whole of its life up to its expiry date.   Sunspirit essential oils are mid-priced which makes them exceptional value given their gold standard commitment to quality.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

aromatherapy, exercise, herbal medicine, martial arts, massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Bruise remedies for martial artists, athletes & the accident-prone

A very athletic (but non-ninja) friend called me on the weekend searching for a fast cure for bruising.  She had taken a bad tumble from her bicycle the week before she was to compete in a big triathlon.  She had bad bruising developing behind her knee that covered most of the back of her knee and part of her thigh.  With some wisdom from both the Chinese and western herbal medicine worlds, the bruising didn’t get anywhere near “as ugly as she had expected” and she’s been back on the bike painlessly getting her last training in before the big event this weekend.

My top 5 remedies for bruising that all martial artists (and anyone else) need to know:

  1. Ice.  But don’t overdo it.  Ice can be used in the first 24-48 hours of an injury occurring.  If the injury feels hot, looks red and is continuing to swell, you can apply ice.  Compression bandaging is useful at this time too.  There is no need for ice once these symptoms have stopped.
  2. Arnica. Arnica is known as ‘the herb for bruising’ in western herbal medicine.  I like the Sunspirit Arnica Ointment, which can be smeared over the injured body part (e.g. knee or ankle) and then wrapped with gladwrap and left over night. It contains a few other herbs to aid healing and give some pain relief.  Arnica can also do wonders for bruising when taken internally as a homeopathic remedy.  This gives you a way to tackle the bruising from the inside while you are busy addressing the local area of the trauma.
  3. Liniment.  Traditional Chinese Medicine offers us many liniments that lay claim to reducing bruising.  The most famous of these amongst martial artists is ‘Dit Da Jow’ or ‘Hit Medicine’. Some of my favourites that are more easily available are Zheng Gu Shui and Po Sum On.  Liniment needs to be applied to the local bruise area every few hours, throughout the days following the injury.  The herbs used in these liniments aim to promote blood circulation and thus disperse the blood that has stagnated.
  4. Rubbing.  Yes, we can rub the bruise out.  Sounds painful, and it can be, but it works a treat.  You need to take some of the liniment referred to above and moisten the bruised area.  Then place your thumb or fingers in the centre of the bruise, apply deep pressure and massage towards the outside of the bruise.  You can use a deep, flicking movement to do this.  We are aiming to move the stagnant blood away from the site of the trauma.  The bruise will change colour and intensity fairly quickly with this technique.  A note of caution.  Rubbing out a bruise may not be suitable on acute serious injuries.
  5. Heat.  So it’s ice that we use first of all, and then later we apply heat.  Ice is used to stop the swelling and bruise developing, and then we can go straight into applying a heat pack to reinvigorate blood circulation.  The idea is to slap on some liniment and apply your heat pack on top.  This will aid circulation to the area and the warmth will prepare the bruise nicely to be rubbed out.

A note for people who bruise easily.  If you are prone to bruising with light touch or without recollection of a trauma it may indicate that you have an underlying condition affecting your blood clotting or blood vessels.  Sometimes medications and even supplements (e.g. fish oil) or herbal medicines (e.g. ginkgo biloba) can contribute to thinning of the blood.  A tendency to easy bruising should be discussed with your acupuncturist, herbalist or general practitioner.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

aromatherapy, beauty, health

Lemon myrtle: the true Aussie Battler of the herbal medicine kingdom

If the definition of an Aussie Battler is someone who is considered working class, struggles against hardship and yet still earns some due respect, then the Australian herb, lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), can rightly claim this title in the plant kingdom.

Lemon myrtle is an Australian native subtropical plant that is gradually gaining recognition for the great work it is capable of.  It has always played second fiddle to tea tree in the herbal medicine world and has struggled to take its rightful place in the medicine cabinet. In fact, how many of you have even heard of lemon myrtle?  As it’s fairly cheap to produce, it’s often anonymously used in cleaning and food production for its lemony characteristics (it’s even described as being more ‘lemony’ than lemon) but beyond this, it’s largely ignored.

I actually love this lemony herb with its beautiful leaves and uplifting aroma.  It makes wonderful herbal tea (just take a few leaves, crunch them in your hand, add hot water, cover and allow to steep), personal care products and the essential oil itself can be used in many ways.

Probably the area where it really shines, and this comes back to it being a hard worker, is as an antimicrobial agent.  Lemon myrtle has been shown to be superior to tea tree as an antiseptic.

This hard-working Aussie does have a downside though.  It can cause damage to the skin if used undiluted.  However, studies have shown that a 1% dilution can give you the antimicrobial results you desire without harming your skin.  To make this dilution, add 1 drop of 100% pure lemon myrtle oil to 5mL of your preferred carrier oil.

But, the upside far outweighs the downside.  Lemon myrtle has a delightful fragrance.  In my opinion, it is much more appealing than that of tea tree.  Lemony fresh, it clears the mind and uplifts the heart.  It is perfect for adding to the wash with your dirty clothes (think socks, sweaty exercise clothes, sheets and towels). It makes fabulous soaps (the crushed leaves can even be used to exfoliate the skin) and hand wash. I add the essential oil to steam inhalations when I have sinus congestion or clogged pores.  Why, it can even be added to my DIY Salt Scrub recipe.  I like to source my lemon myrtle essential oil from Refreshed Lemon Myrtle, a little company in Byron Bay committed to sustainable production of lemon myrtle products.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

aromatherapy, health

I want my bath…and the essential oils!

I love baths.  There’s nothing like a long soak in a warm bath for your health and happiness.  And in Winter, I think baths are even nicer.

There are endless reasons to justify having a luxurious bath.  It could be because you:

  • Had a bad day
  • Had a good day
  • Had a hard workout
  • Have body aches
  • Picked up a cold or flu
  • Need a good sleep
  • Feel cold
  • Are feeling grumpy
  • Think everyone else is being grumpy
  • Deserve to be spoiled
  • Have some new bath oils
  • Are preparing for a night out
  • Are preparing for a night in
  • Are feeling like romance
  • Just like baths!

Here’s some simple steps to create your perfect mind-relaxing, muscle-soothing and health-promoting bath.  Be careful, like anything that creates a sense of euphoria, baths like these can be addictive!

  1. Remove all unpleasant noises from earshot of your bath (eg. phones, children).
  2. Replace those sounds with your chosen selection of chill out music (perhaps some jazz or classical?)
  3. Run the bath with the perfect temperature water for you.
  4. Add 1-2 cups of epsom salts to soothe your muscular aches away.
  5. Assemble fluffy towels in easy reach of your bath.
  6. Light some candles.
  7. Will you be in the need of a beverage?  A nice cup of herbal tea goes down well, but sometimes a glass of wine fits the mood.
  8. Choose the right essential oils to set the mood for your bath.  Just before you hop in, add 4-6 drops of pure essential oil (that’s the plant-based ones not the artificial oils known as fragrant oils) to the bath and agitate the water to disperse them (or you can add the essential oils to a tablespoon of oil or teaspoon of vodka first).  Here’s some essential oil suggestions:
    • relaxation blend: lavender (3 drops), orange (1 drop), chamomile – often sold as a 3% dilution – this is ok (2 drops)
    • balance blend: geranium (2 drops), rosewood (2 drops), lavender (2 drops)
    • uplifting blend: bergamot (2 drops), lemon (2 drops), geranium (2 drops)
    • romantic blend: ylang ylang (1 drop), geranium (2 drops), orange (1 drop)
    • muscle-relax blend: lavender (3 drops), rosemary (1 drop), marjoram (1 drop)
  9. Sink into the bath, relax and enjoy.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

aromatherapy, beauty, health

Summer skin treat – the DIY salt scrub

I am going to share with you my favourite skin treat – the do-it-yourself salt scrub.

This easy and cheap to make (unlike it’s shop bought cousins) salt scrub will leave your skin smooth, soft and glowing. And if you like, you can take your salt scrub experience up a few notches to ‘day spa’ level by adding a few drops of essential oils for their luxurious fragrances and skin enhancing qualities.

Sarah’s Salt Scrub Recipe

Ingredients
2 tablespoons (approx.) table salt
1 tablespoon (approx.) carrier oil (natural and unfragranced eg. sweet almond oil or olive oil)
5 drops of essential oil of choice (see below for suggestions – you can mix a few together to make up your 5 drops.)

Method

1. Pour the table salt into a small bowl (like the Chinese dipping sauce ones).
2. Mix in the carrier oil gradually until the salt is sticky but not runny.
3. Add essential oil and mix well.
4. Jump in the shower (so you don’t make a mess) and apply small amounts of the salt mixture to your body (chest, back, arms, legs, feet, hands and only very gently on the face) in small circular motions. Avoid any delicate or broken skin.
5. Wash off the salt mixture under the shower.
6. To remove any greasy residue, immediately wash with a natural cleanser or vegetable oil based soap.
7. Jump out of the shower with your new radiant skin.

Depending on your skin type you might like to do this treatment once or twice per week. During hot, humid weather you can increase this to every second day or as required.

A quick note on essential oils
I love essential oils. They are extracted from flowers, leaves, fruits and other parts of plants. The essential oils carry the therapeutic properties of the plant from which they were sourced. Essential oils are different to ‘fragrant oils’ which are synthetic chemical fragrances lacking in therapeutic value. When purchasing your essential oils be sure the bottle reads “100% pure essential oil”. Most essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin and are best diluted in a carrier oil.

Essential oil suggestions to enhance your salt scrub:

  • Tea tree oil – if you skin is prone to acne or fungal infections
  • Lemon myrtle oil – similar to tea tree but I think it smells nicer
  • Lavender – calming, relaxing, antiseptic
  • Geranium – balancing for oily skins
  • Lime – refreshing
  • Grapefruit – has a detoxifying effect, great for use over cellulite

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.