Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Homemade Nasal Spray

Congestion sucks, whether it's colds or allergies, dealing with it is never a fun task.

Saline nasal spray can provide relief for congestion. However, saline nasal spray solution is one thing you don't have to buy at a store. With a few ingredients, you can make it at home in a matter of minutes. This was definitely a tip I was hesitant to try when I first heard of it, but it’s something I swear by now. Salt-water rinsing, also known as nasal irrigation, helps break nasal congestion while also removing virus particles and bacteria from your nose.

  • Salt (kosher, canning, or pickling salt)
  • Baking soda
  • Nasal irrigation pot (available at most pharmacies), or just a standard bulb syringe.
  • Measuring spoons
  • Container with lid
In case you were wondering what a bulb syringe looks like, here is a photo. I've added in a link that takes you to Amazon in case you wanted to know the price :D

Making the Nasal Spray

1)       Prepare the solution by putting 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp baking soda into the container. Add half a cup of lukewarm tap water and mix the contents.
2)       Fill the nasal pot or bulb syringe with the liquid.

How to Use the Spray

1)    Position your head! Lean over the sink; rotate your head to one side.
2)    Insert the spout of the irrigation device into the uppermost nostril. Breathe through your mouth.
3)    Raise the handle of the nasal pot so the solution flows into the upper nostril; in a few moments, the solution will begin to drain from the lower nostril. You should start feeling some relief from your blocked nose but do it slowly.
4)    Continue until the pot is empty or until you feel relieved of your congestion, then exhale gently through both nostrils and gently blow your nose.
5)    Repeat with the other nostril.
6)    Do this twice a day or as directed.
You can store and reuse the unused saline solution in the sealed container at room temperature for up to two days. But don’t fret there’s plenty more where that came from if you need to make it again!
Now why is this tip so effective? Because it really can help with sinusitis and congestion.

Although nasal sprays have been determined to be effective at helping with congestion I will outline just how effective this natural spray in helping with sinus problems, improving the quality of life for sufferers.
For all serious allergy sufferers, sinusitis (or rhinosinusitis) is defined as an inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the para-nasal sinuses. A comprehensive test conducted by the University of Chicago recommended nasal irrigation to patients with chronic rhinosinusitis, where they concluded that large-volume, low-pressure saline irrigation decreases the severity and frequency of symptoms. In other words, if you irrigate your nasal system with a sizable amount of the liquid and do it gently, the symptoms of your congestion will reduce in seriousness (please see here for the full article )

For chronic sufferers you can rejoice: There is evidence, too, that patients who successfully use large-volume, low-pressure saline irrigation gain more than symptom relief. In a study conducted David Rabago MD, published by the Ann Fam Medical Journal also found that effective use of this technique was associated with a sense of empowerment, and led to improved self-management skills, as well as a rapid, and long-term, improvement in quality of life (please see here for the full article)

This is pretty comprehensive evidence that it is effective. The fact that it is safe and gentle, non-toxic and cheap to make has got to make it a winning combination!

Do you use nasal sprays? Have you tried this before? I would love to know your experiences!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Sweet, Sweet Face Mask

This is such an easy and versatile tip that you can really experiment with it.

Use this as a base for the face mask and you can add other ingredients to your choosing but I think the two ingredients work fantastically if you are needing a quick, easy to make and effective.
One is water, which I’m sure you can get easily at home J
The other is something that is a basic staple that every household has: honey. I know that I have already mentioned honey in other uses (see my link).
I wasn’t lying when I said that the ingredients I recommend are versatile and can be used in so many ways: that is the beauty of home-made, natural remedies!

Why honey?
Apart from its delicious taste, honey also has so many benefits for your skin.
Honey is highly moisturizing on the skin. It reduces inflammation and swelling so it's perfect for dark circles/puffy eyes. It gently cleanses your skin and kills germs.
Honey and a honey face mask are essential elements in all natural skin care. Honey is the queen of skin care ingredients and has been used for thousands of years. What more proof of effectiveness do you need?
Scientific evidence did you say? I can certainly do that for you J

Protects Against Damage
Honey is a natural antioxidant, which provides protective benefits when used topically on the skin. Anything that provides protective benefits on the skin, I think that sounds like a good idea! The Skin Care Resource Centre reports that current research has determined the effectiveness of honey as a natural form of sunscreen, to protect the skin from sun damage such as premature wrinkling, a condition that in some people can lead to skin cancer. (see here for the full article http://www.livestrong.com/article/112833-benefits-honey-skin-care/) For someone like me who has eczema and has frequent bouts of sunburn this is something I rely on for an instant skin fixer and it works every time.

Promotes Wound Healing

As another added benefit that compliments its ability to protect against damage, honey can also heal wounds, due to its natural antimicrobial properties. According to the New Zealand Dermatological Society, the chemical makeup of honey is described as "high osmolality." To give a scientific explanation, High osmolality when referring to honey means that the sugars interact with water in such a way those microorganisms cannot develop. This means that when honey comes in contact with the wound , hydrogen peroxide is produced. The creation of the hydrogen peroxide can provide antibacterial benefits to ulcerated areas, which speeds healing. http://www.livestrong.com/article/112833-benefits-honey-skin-care/.  So basically if your skin has been through the trenches lately, use this mask ASAP!

This is a frequently touted benefit of using honey in skincare but there has been no conclusive evidence that honey on its own can directly help with acne. I personally think because acne is such a different experience for everybody it is hard to recommend a one size fits all remedy to help it. I still recommend you use this recipe to replenish your skin but I cannot guarantee that your acne problems will be solved.

As for which honey you should use, whatever honey you have at home will do the trick but if you are a honey lover like me, raw honey is fantastic.

How To Use This Mask
Whilst there are lots of way to apply it, I honestly use it on the fly and only make enough to use for the one time, instead of making a bulk amount due to the use of water.

½ teaspoon water
1 teaspoon honey
You can change the quantities and add more if you like but the main key is that there needs to be more honey than water. The water merely acts to make the honey more liquid so it mixes easier, you don’t want the mixture to be too runny though so add a few drops of water first.
I find that this amount is more than enough to cover my face but it’s up to you how much sweetness you want on your face J

When the ingredients have been mixed, apply liberally to your face, massaging lightly until all the corners of your face has been covered. If there is any leftover it makes a nice little drink too!

Leave on your face for 15-20 minutes.

Once the 15-20 minutes is over, wash it off completely and moisturise as normal. You will feel the difference!
Everyone including you can enjoy a relaxing and satisfying natural spa experience right in your own home with these honey face masks. It's all made clear; these facial mask recipes are as simple as ABC, affordable or downright cheap and you probably have the ingredients already somewhere in your pantry.

Do you already use this remedy? Or do you add other ingredients to it?

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Drinking Salt For Your Benefit: Baking Soda

Now this tip is a source of controversy but it is such a heavily discussed remedy that I decided to try it out myself and have personally felt the benefits from it.
Whilst this is definitely NOT one of my favourite remedies, it does work and if you can get over the fairly unpleasant taste (it took me a while but now I’m totally used to it) this will bring you loads of benefits.
The concoction is something that you won’t even need to jot down here it is:

Mix either a ½ teaspoon or 1 single teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water that is no more than 8 ounces. Give it a good stir and drink all of the mixture. You can repeat this as needed but should not exceed seven ½ teaspoon doses in a 24 hour period. Also, avoid using this as a remedy for more than a week straight, as it is high in salt and can have side effects such as swelling or nausea.

If you really cannot drink it on its own, I tend to add juice or cordial concentrate to sweeten it up.
Now before you go and dismiss drinking this salty brine water, let me tell you just why it is so good for you. Whilst there have been numerous touted benefits of drinking baking soda, I will discuss two benefits that have been scientifically proven.


Heartburn is awful and unfortunately most adults will experience it during their lifetime. It is characterized by an uncomfortable burning sensation right behind the breastbone that often times creeps up the throat, and is a symptom more so than a disease. It is caused by acid reflux, which occurs when the ring of muscle that allows food into your stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) relaxes when it shouldn’t. The result is acid from your stomach goes back up your esophagus, which then causes the sensation of heartburn. 

Think about it…its acid burning your throat…ouch! A spoonful of sodium bicarbonate, or teaspoon-full to be exact, can help put an end to the gnawing, burning, sensation of heartburn caused by acid reflux. Baking soda can help your reflux and in turn help your heartburn because it is a base substance: it has a pH higher than 7.0, and therefore neutralizes stomach acid. Neutralizing the stomach acid means that if/when your LES decides to be lazy and acid comes up your throat, you don’t get “burned.” (see here for the article)

Athletic performance
For all you athletes or fitness fanatics, baking soda is found to increase how long you can train for. In a study with well-trained cyclists, there was a statistically significant increase in performance both with acute ‘loading’ of baking soda, as well as chronic use in 3 daily doses. Both acute and chronic consumption increased average power output in a 4-minute performance test on a cycling ergometer.

In the same study, Baking soda doesn’t just act as an ergogenic agent in short duration exertion either – it also enhances performance when engaging in exercise for longer periods of time. 80 males ran 14 second sprints with 16 seconds of rest for a period of 30 minutes, followed by a period of rest, only to start sprinting again. Many studies have used approximately 300mg/kg prior to exercise or testing to increase performance. This has been a dose that is consistently reliable in increasing peak and average power, time to exhaustion, and so on. Many studies use a 60 minute ‘absorption period’ where baking soda is delivered in one serving. Some have used baking soda taken throughout a time period ranging from 30-90 minutes prior to testing, but based on all the studies conducted, dosage 60 to 90 minutes prior to exercise seems to be the most recommended timeframe. (see here for the full article

This really does work: I take the drink about 30 minutes to an hour before a workout and it helps SO much. Try it next time and see the difference for yourself.

You can always have too much of a good thing and that phrase especially applies to baking soda: please use it sparingly. Whilst it can provide such benefits you need to be aware it is high in sodium as well.

Have you tried this tip? What do you think of it’s effectiveness? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below :)

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Sweetest Cough/Sore Throat Cure

It’s never a fun situation when you have a persistent cough, in fact I dare to name me a situation when it is fun to have a cough (just kidding!) 
Whether you are at work, on the train or bus, at a restaurant, in a classroom they are plain annoying! 
The worst thing about coughs is that they seem to drag on longer than other common ailments. So your cold's long gone, but have you now been left with a lingering cough that is keeping everyone awake and annoying colleagues?
New US research shows the average time for a cough to last after a virus is an exhausting 18 days - with many coughs sticking around even longer. (see here for the full article). So don't be too surprised when you have an annoying persistent cough even a week after your cold is gone. 
Whilst almost everyone must have experienced coughing sometime in their life, did you know that there are two primary types of coughs, dry and productive?
A productive cough is one in which you are coughing up phlegm or mucous-this is not a cough that should be suppressed, as your body needs to rid itself of the gunk that’s in your chest/lungs. While it shouldn’t be suppressed, some of these remedies will address a productive cough by including an expectorant, or something that loosens mucous and makes it easier for the body to get rid of.
A dry, hacking, cough is another story. This is one we do want to stop. It can be caused by allergies, dry air, a random tickle at the back of your throat that won’t go away, the aftermath of a cold, being in a dusty environment, etc. etc. For these we turn to demulcents, ingredients that soothe irritated mucous membranes and remove the irritant triggering the cough. Studies conducted in 2004 found that the main ingredients in cough syrup (dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine) have the same effectiveness in treating coughs as a placebo ingredient. Instead of turning to chemical solutions for every minor ailment, try some home remedies instead. They are not only better for you, but they taste a whole lot better than most cough syrup too!
Insert picture of honey, link to manuka honey on Amazon
Studies, such as one conducted at Penn State College of Medicine, have found that honey can work more efficiently to calm a cough than over-the-counter drugs. It is a rich demulcent, with a high viscosity and stickiness that does an incredible job of coating and soothing those irritated mucous membranes. Thanks to an enzyme added by bees when they harvest honey, it also has antibacterial properties as well, which may help shorten how long you have the cough if it is due to bacterial illness. The Mayo Clinic have also confirmed that honey is an effective cough medicine (see here for the full article)
Note: This is an excellent alternative remedy for both kids and adults, but should never be given to children under the age of 2 years due to the risk of botulism.

You will need…
-1 tablespoon of honey
As for what type of honey, whatever you have at home is fine. Because I love my honey and have tried the different types, I personally stick to raw and organic honey. It might not be your thing but I prefer the taste more. 
Take 1 tablespoon of honey 1-3 times daily as needed to control coughing. For best results take the honey slowly and let it coat your throat.
Take immediately before bed if cough is disrupting your sleep. For children, you can adjust the dosing to 1 teaspoon up to one tablespoon.

And that is all there is to it! What’s not to love about this? It’s delicious, good for you and effective! It also works just as well for sore throats too so it is versatile as well :)
This always works for me, and one of friends inadvertently discovered for himself how great it is too. He had a bottle of honey at work for himself and happened to get a terrible cough and was considering taking some time off.  He loved the taste of honey and couldn't stop eating it, and he said that after a few days of going through the bottle, his cough was completely gone! Real story. 

So there you have it: any hesitation you have had to try this tried but true method should be gone now with all the studies conducted confirming its effectiveness. Instead of packing some lozenges make sure you get a good dosage of honey before you go out the door and take it regularly and in no time it will go away :)

Is this a tip you use regularly? Or is there another remedy that you think is even better than honey for coughs?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Yoghurt Face Mask

This is such a simple recipe, and there's plenty leftover for you to eat as well.

Plain yogurt (I prefer to use Greek Yoghurt as it is more robust and is thicker) is a multi-vitamin super food used as a staple DIY ingredient in many homemade face mask recipes for beautiful youthful skin. 

Why is Yogurt So Good?
Whilst Yogurt has been touted as a cure for acne, I am going to refute these claims and disagree. From the scientific studies conducted, there has been no conclusive evidence that yogurt is helpful in helping with acne. However scientific studies conducted have revealed that yogurt does have benefits for your skin's overall appearance. In a study conducted by the Journal of Cosmetic Science, it was found that facial masks that contained yogurt 'successfully improved the moisture, brightness, and elasticity of treated skin' (see here for further details of the study).
The way I think about this tip is: dairy products have been proven to be effective at tenderising. Ever heard of recipes where you marinade the meat in yogurt or buttermilk to soften the meat? That's what I think of this recipe as, tenderising your face. It might not be a pretty image but that's the way I think of it, and boy does it work.

Here’s a simple list of the nutrients found in yogurt and how they are useful for skin (refer to here for the full article)
Benefit for Skin
Vitamin B2
For cell growth and regeneration. Hydrates and moisturizes skin as well as protects it from free radical damage.
Vitamin B12
Heals rough uneven skin. Has skin lightening properties useful for evening out skin discolorations and acne scars.
Vitamin B5
Brightens dull skin and lightens dark spots and acne scars, making them less visible.
Composes the uppermost layer of skin. Heals dry withered skin.
Lactic Acid
Moisturizes, hydrates and nourishes dry skin. Keeps skin looking youthful by combating free radicals that age skin.
Slows down aging by fighting the free radicals that cause wrinkles by stealing oxygen from healthy skin cells.
Table showing nutrients in yogurt that promote beautiful skin.

Friday, 27 February 2015

How to Deal With Oily Hair

This is something that I have struggled for years to deal with. 
Having oily hair myself, it is difficult to manage: I will need to wash my hair every two days if I wanted to have constantly primmed, clean looking hair.
But in reality, after 1 day, maybe 2 days in the cooler season, my hair roots start looking stringy and not nice at all. 

Does this look familiar? Don't worry, I feel your pain!

And then there are so many articles out there saying that you shouldn't wash your hair that often, and you should only wash once or twice a week!

I had tried so many proclaimed remedies that were meant to tame those pesky oily roots, but sadly enough none of them worked.

Whilst in my upcoming e-book I will discuss my go-to shampoo recipe, this is the main tip that I have picked up over the years that have worked for me, along with my busy schedule. They may not be groundbreaking but they work, and at the end of the day isn't that the main goal?

Working in an office job, it gets pretty busy and most days I always have my hair done up in a bun anyway so there isn't as much pressure for me to always have my locks glossy and looking prim perfect. 

This brings me to my tried and tested tip: dry shampoo.

I first heard of this product a few years back when I was walking around Priceline, a large Australian chain health and beauty shop. I saw it on sale at the front, and I thought: wow that is a genius idea! I won't have to wash my hair as often and it would still look washed and clean.
Nowadays dry shampoo is really popular, as busybodies love the convenience it brings, for people like me!

But one thing that annoyed me after a while was the price: most bottles, especially for the effective ones cost upwards of $10. That costs more than my NORMAL shampoo, it didn't seem worth it to keep forking out cash just because of my laziness. 

That's when I came across a home remedy that was literally sitting on my bathroom shelf that I had been neglecting: talcum powder. If you have heard of this tip, move along to the next time but this tip really works!
As you know talcum powder is a finely powdered mineral, hence it can also help to absorb excess moisture. That is why it works so well as a dry shampoo: it helps absord the excess moisture in your hair!

How to use:
Sprinkle onto your roots, just make sure the roots have a nice even coverage and have gotten a nice thin layer.
Leave in for 10-15 minutes.
After the time has passed, brush your roots thoroughly, ensuring the powder is fully coated into the hair. Eventually the residue will disappear and you will hair clean hair that has just been washed :)

I have read that using talcum powder is better for blondes due to the white residue in the talcum powder, but I use it all the time with no issues (I have black hair by the way!). It might be a bit fiddly to get the powder out of your hair but the results are worth it! I love using this in between washes, it really is a fantastic home remedy.

Any talcum powder you have at home will do, but something that caught my eye recently was all this talk of talcum powder possibly giving you breathing problems and even CANCER! I was pretty alarmed, as you do and did some investigating. 
I am happy to say that there have been numerous scientific studies carried out on talcum powder and they have found no links to cancer. 

What type of talcum powder do I use? Why the classic of course, Johnson's! I decided to switch to cornstarch over normal, not because I was alarmed at all these potential links to cancer but I just wanted to give it a try and I am never going back. It works so much better for me as a moisturiser and dry shampoo, making my hair look a lot cleaner and shinier, as well as easier to brush out. If you are interested in checking it out, click here

Have you tried this tip before? Is there another tip that works for you?
Post your comment below :)