Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

Posts tagged ‘Home Remedies’

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VWCosmetics Prickly Pear Seed Oil – The ‘Next Big Thing’ After Argan?

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) Seed Oil is another treasure finding its way out of Morocco following its hugely successful predecessor Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil. It’s currently one of the most expensive oils available to buy purely for its own value rather than say, couture brand label mark-ups and packaging so it’s quite an honour to be writing about something that I wouldn’t usually come across. If Argan oil is known as ‘liquid gold’ then would that make Prickly Pear liquid platinum? I took it for a test drive to see 😉

Please note – the bottle of 10ml Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil I’m reviewing was provided by VWCosmetics at http://www.vwcosmetics.com/ in exchange for a fair opinion and company mention, both of which I always include as a matter of course in a review 🙂

OVERVIEW OF THE SITUATION

I was offered the chance to try this oil whilst nursing a scald/burn on my left hand so this review is the sequel to the one featuring Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex, it continues the treatment here’s a re-cap of where I left off:

Timeline

Approx 1 week after the burn

Time for a change from the aloe vera and lemon juice, started using Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex.

Approx 1 week after that

Time for another change – I find it best to do this as the skin (body in general) can get used to one thing/treatment and the effects can plateau but I still needed more healing so started using the Organic Prickly Pear Seed oil (OPPSO) on affected area and the above oil on the areas around it.

And approx 1 week after that

Dabbing apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ intact on the wound as a finishing touch, this was left to the end as it is a high strength, unrefined vinegar and not generally found on the highstreet. It’s very strong (so should be diluted) and also very versatile for health, cosmetic and cleaning – so using it here to eat through the damaged layers, heal, soften (yes this type of vinegar softens skin – and hair – whereas lemon juice dries) and lighten the skin. Using OPPSO and argan afterwards.

Note on terminology from now on:
OPPSO – refers specifically to VWCosmetics Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil
PPSO – refers to prickly pear seed oil in general, organic or not, virgin & cold pressed or not.

WHAT IS A PRICKLY PEAR?

It’s not a pear as we know and love but a colourful cactus fruit that grows in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Ever heard that joke about treating a porcupine for pins and needles? Well this plant and its fruit are covered in spindles so it no joke when local growers say to leave the higher growing fruit to the birds since it’s not a good idea to use ladders near these plants!… Ouch. They remind me a tad of dragon fruit on the outside and pomegranates on the inside so that should give you an idea of how exotic they are and how small their seeds are. The Daily Mail stated that it takes 1 million seeds to make 1litre of oil and the Chelsea Physic Garden say that their 3in spines used to play 78rpm records on gramophones before steel needles, yikes! They have a Mayan heritage but were also found throughout Africa as a precious resource for food and health then taken to the Mediterranean where they were hailed and regaled before being brought to the spotlight again in current times.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

Photo credit: photowalk.mostlyfiction.com/category/desert-plants/

What are those spikes protecting?

A heck of a lot of vitamin content (E & K primarily) and unsaturated fatty acids (Linoleic/Omega 6, Oleic/Omega 9 – has the ability to penetrate beneath the upper layer(s) of skin for longer lasting benefits) as well as saturated acid (Palmitic), minerals and amino acids. And that’s just in the seed oil, the rest of the seed and fruit as a whole are very nutritious. In terms of cosmetic use PPSO is suitable for residents of such dry climates and when shared with the rest of us, in theory a great health booster particularly for those advancing in years and those with dry skin/hair, lines/wrinkles and for some masking to removing discolouration of skin and light scarring. I’ve read about those with heavy scarring and birthmarks having ‘miraculous’ results but personally I doubt that would happen for me. There doesn’t appear to be many sources of info (other than the invaluable and irreplaceable experience of the those who’ve been consuming/using it for ages of course) but the general consensus is that PPSO outclasses argan oil in tocopherols and tocotrienols (the 10 groups of Vitamin E) and leaves olive oil in the dust so to speak hence has the highest amount of Vitamin E out of most oils available for cosmetic use. Other oils noted for Vitamin E are wheat germ and almond. Remember though that Vitamin E can only be taken internally in much smaller amounts than topical use – so olive oil is still excellent for eating and for thicker texture.

I’ve tried to explain Vitamin E in a number of reviews but basically unlike other vitamins it’s not a single ‘thing’ – it’s a group of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols (5 of each) that are collectively known as Vitamin E though on many products you’ll notice a prominence of tocopherols mentioned e.g. ‘tocopherols enriched’. As a beauty aid Vitamin E is noted and used for anti-oxidant ability and focus on regeneration so all round anti-aging and weather protecting.

PUTTING IT THROUGH THE PACES

First impressions – texture and packaging

The oil is lightweight, has a faint scent that reminds me of cocoa butter and is very smooth – that might sound strange but many oils thicken and get blobby to in the cold but this one doesn’t. That might be because it’s a ‘stable’ oil meaning that it retains more of its nutritional value in conditions that other oils would start to degrade in, given that it’s cultivated and used in hot climates with bright sunshine it’s impressive that it also holds well in the cold. It’s also quick to absorb.

It comes in a cute, little dark Brown glass bottle and matching thick card Brown box. It has an inbuilt, plastic dropper pipette which I found was slow/clogged at times so perhaps not quite wide enough but other than that functional and prevents waste.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

On the burn

I started using this on the burn because I felt it would be better to use a single ingredient product to get the full benefit, product blends are great but sometimes I feel the properties are competing and you might not get the force of the ones you want as they are subdued by others. I was tempted by another product I had used in the past that is a powerhouse of oils but I decided for the burn area itself to go with the OPPSO for the higher concentration of Vitamin E. I’m not one who goes for either phrase ‘if you eat well it shows so you shouldn’t have to worry about your skin/hair/nails’ or ‘the product you apply in one area spreads and affects all the other areas so why bother with specific areas’ … I agree with both to an extent as through research and experience (and quite frankly common sense) one does affect the other, it’s all connected but at the same time some areas need more attention than others and tailored attention at that. That’s exactly why in my Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil review I stated that I felt it important to keep the whole hand well nourished so the skin around the burn wouldn’t suffer as well and could indeed boost aid to the affected area but at the same time the affected area has different/extra needs.

By the time I started using this my skin had that overly smooth/non lined look like a gel blob were it liquid and if left like that looked as if it would probably acquire that somewhat shiny look of stretch mark and cut/torn based scars as well as the lines from the surrounding skin. I wanted to avoid that because it’s a large and noticeable area.

I only needed upto 4 drops to cover the affected and surrounding area and used it regularly especially after washing. I found that it wasn’t as softening or smoothing as I had expected but my hands are problem areas in that respect and need more in the way of lotion or body butter for that effect. However it addressed the shiny tissue issue and made the skin look more ‘real’ and matte again. It now looks more like a birthmark or skin discolouration than an injury scar and the area is not raised but level with the rest of the skin. I think that’s the most I could hope for given the severity of the burn, my skin being prone to scarring and using this at a later stage of the treatment instead of earlier.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review Natural Burn Treatment Home RemedyVegan

Uneven skin tone

Interestingly enough PPSO has notable amounts about both Vitamins E and K; the former being a blood thinner and the latter a thickener – in that sense I can imagine that having a balance of both would or should assist with uneven skin tones, not taking into account skin colourants but more the formation of skin cells. That said old scars and marks run deep and can take years to noticeably reduce since even new skin copies the old when it comes to those so it’s important to use something that is high in Omega 9 to get to those layers or be present when they grow, it’s one thing to have the Vitamin E it’s another to get it where you want it to go, (argan oil has much more Omega 9 than PPSO).

It’s supposed to help with shadows on the face and like many other people probably have been doing I’ve been sleeping under the blanket since on the onset of cold weather and that leads to blotchy facial skin and the darkening of the sides of the nose and under the eyes especially. I’ve tried the oil in that area and haven’t noticed any difference but that’s unlikely to change unless I come up for air and actually get some more oxygen! I’m thinking if I steamed my face & neck and then put this on as an overnight moisturizer it would have a much better chance.

Other

I had a few places of torn skin near my cuticles and this healed them in no time, they didn’t even itch – just went straight back to normal skin.

It’s apparently also really good for achieving glossy locks with a little going a long way, since this is a 10ml bottle and I’m pre-occupied with my skin at the moment I haven’t tried it but I’d hazard a guess that since its rich in Omega 6&9 it’d be better for thick and/or coarse (prone to curling, wiry) or dry and/or damaged hair – it might be too heavy/greasy feeling for light and/or thin hair unless washed out shortly after or heat dried-in.

VALERIE WIDMANN COSMETICS

Looking at the VWCosmetics website I was impressed by the passion shown by the founder for the products from production to sustainability. There is a focus on organic argan and prickly pear seed oil products, both of which are grown by fair trade women’s cooperatives with an interest in helping and forwarding their position in society and protecting their environment. Acquiring both oils is extremely labour intensive e.g. for OPPSO the seeds have to be carefully separated from the pulp and ‘Because each seed contains only 5% of oil, up to 35 kilograms of seeds are necessary to get about 1 litre of Oil.’

There is a lot of info on the site so I won’t reproduce it here but it’s poignant to note that this is pure OPPSO and not a cheaper alternative where PPSO has been blended with other oils or actually from the cactus blossoms and not the fruit seeds.

Also for company info:

VWC OPPSO is
-produced on demand ensuring freshness
-elite quality
-first cold-pressed
-organic and unscented
-sustainably harvested
-virgin and unrefined
-does not contain artificial or chemical additives
-paraben and cruelty-free
-brown bottles for maximum protection
-distributed from Germany in consideration of the strict German cosmetic directives

OPPSO Eco – Certification
VWC only works with Producers in Morocco that have their OPPSO classified as a “Natural and Organic cosmetic” holding both ECOCERT and USDA certification.

CONCLUSION

I think on the whole I’d benefit a lot more from OPPSO if I was older or had weather beaten skin/hair, the fact that I use oils regularly (and have a high oil ‘fat’ diet) perhaps made the effects less noticeable but I can imagine that if the weather was hotter, more oil used and dried in over a longer time period the properties would have more of a chance to shine. Plus this is a small bottle but I’d be interested to see how it fairs on other problem areas on the body. That said in terms of healing damaged skin for both a burn and tearing it did a good job and for that I’m grateful – to Mother Nature, the women who cultivated this and Valerie Widmann who offered it at a coincidental time.

10ml Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil €24.95/£19.57

http://www.vwcosmetics.com/products/organic-prickly-pear-seed-oil-products/10ml-organic-prickly-pear-seed-oil.html

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Dr Organic Vitamin E Pure Oil – A Solid Middle Range Contender

My left hand was recently scalded and though luckily the worst of it didn’t cover the whole hand quite a large and noticeable area was affected so I was looking for a product that would help. To show how this item fits into the wider perspective I’ll quickly outline my actions to treat the burn thus far and the reasons why I ended up with this particular oil.

Timeline

Day 1

Immediately after the burn I held my hand under the cold tap for approx 15min, then held half a potato over it until the pain went, held an aloe vera soaked gauze over it for a while and then packed grated potato over it with bandage, replenished every 3 hours for 9 hours.

Day 2

Got my strength and mobility back in that hand, no pain and the skin looked good and smooth in general but after a while the most affected area showed itself and was very Red with an obvious outline/perimeter. Over the next few days I applied aloe vera and lemon juice to it (no more bandages whilst indoors), I was satisfied the residual inside heat had passed but didn’t have access to an oil I wanted I use yet.

Approx 1 week later

Time for a change, the aloe vera and lemon were great but since they were both juice (would have preferred raw aloe vera gel) they were drying, which isn’t a bad thing but it was a toss up between wanting to let the affected skin dry and fall off but also needing the rest to be well nourished and heal as much as possible. The skin was a lot darker, itchy over 2-3 days, still Red in places but more Brown and very distinct from the rest of my hand. I was leaning towards a Dr Organic’s lotion (preferably the Vitamin E, Aloe, Coconut or Tea Tree) but ended up with the Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex instead.

Approx 1 week after that

Prickly Pear Seed oil on affected area and the above oil around it.

A very similar incident happened when I was a child, my Mother immediately plunged my hand in a bowl of cold water for what felt like ages (which is something to be careful of since it doesn’t always soothe and you mustn’t add to the stress on the skin by potentially ‘freeze burning’ it), someone else suggested putting butter on it (never put butter or oil on just after the burn unless you’re sacrificing a body part for a cannibal who likes fried meat). Thankfully Mum didn’t listen, she used Sudafed and later we went to a doctor and got something prescribed. That all led to weeks of heavy bandage, skin that looked like bacon, lots of uncomfortable itching, stinging, then all the peeling and general ‘grossness’. Being a lot older now I don’t have the masses of regenerative ability I used to and my skin is prone to scarring, the above actions are not a recommendation just a run through of my actions for myself and if I had more of a choice there are other products I’d use but as it is this review focuses on the second week when using Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex.

Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil Complex Review

Advice from staff at Holland & Barrett, compromises and being budget friendly

I had intended to get a lotion because oils are generally expensive though I wasn’t too keen on the lotions because Dr Organic include a lot of formulation ingredients (e.g. preservatives) but they do use aloe vera as the base and in comparison to other organic, cruelty free and mainly natural products readily available on the highstreet you get more for your money with 200ml at approx £7 (more or less depending on the particular lotion).

That said I was in two minds about lavender oil and tea tree oil, both are supposed to be very good for burns and I usually like to mix them as I find the latter makes the former more moisturizing and the lavender compliments the tea tree but again, essential oils are very costly and you’ll be lucky to find big sizes in ready made blended oils on the highstreet. Bigger bottles of both refined blended oils and higher quality and higher concentration blended oils are available online but then you’re balancing delivery time and higher prices. I mulled over a tea tree tincture but decided against it and then against tea tree altogether as it encourages scar tissue to form, not a bad thing in terms of quick healing but not what I wanted.

It came down to a couple of the Dr Organic aloe vera gels and the lotions so at that point I asked for advice. In my experience most H&B staff are well informed about their products, a bit like Lush staff but less effervescent, and in their favour also open to possible as well as specified uses for products and not reticent in recommending other stores if they don’t have something suitable. The H&B lady thought a Vitamin E product would be best since Vitamin E focuses on regeneration, it had been my first choice for the lotion but we agreed the oil would be better since this case wasn’t just for normal skin; overall it’s more pricey but for an oil, organic oil at that and considering that a little goes a long way it was probably the best option. There was also the Dr Organic Vitamin E Scar & Stretch Mark Serum available but she thought that was better for once scarring had occurred and older scars in general, from my point of view that one’s not vegan so I couldn’t use it anyway.

This currently costs £8.99 at 50ml (though they have great sales & a rewards card).

The proof is in the pudding

The ingredient list is very simple; sunflower seed oil, rosehip oil, tocopherol (compounds associated with Vitamin E, source unknown here), jojoba seed oil, calendula flower extract, Damascena rose oil, citronellol and geraniol. To me that suggests rosehip and rose oils diluted into sunflower and jojoba seed oils as otherwise the price would be much higher, their scent is also very faint instead of heady which fits that theory. All of the oils are well known for their extra smoothing and softening effects with the rosehip and rose having a focus on anti-aging and the calendula a refreshing/revitalising component.

I find this oil very easy to use in that it feels light, isn’t sticky and spreads well only needing upto 3 drops per application to fit that part of my hand. When I first used it on the burn I felt a slight ‘stinging’ sensation but only that time, with regular use I found the affected area quickly and visibly retracted, the Redness decreased and the Brown increased particularly around the perimeter. The top layer(s) of skin became more noticeable in readiness to and indeed started to peel off but instead of being crispy and flaking it came off neatly and without pain when reaching the surrounding skin. Interestingly enough the skin underneath didn’t look as ‘ready’ to be revealed as I would have expected with even a couple of White bits (something I’m not used to lol) but they’re slowly getting darker, other parts were Pink but that wasn’t an issue. The perimeter was and is darker than my regular skin so a bit of a concern but since Vitamin E is associated with treatment for uneven skin tone I’m hoping it’ll all reach a good balance.

I have to reiterate that I would have preferred a stronger oil and this is very mild with sunflower and jojoba being gentle bases for more intense oils so after a week’s use I wasn’t too happy with the outcome. I hadn’t expected miracles, it had initially proved helpful by dealing with the top layer(s) but the underneath wasn’t going as well as I’d hoped. Being a pessimist-realist I worried that it’d end up scarred and it was showing signs of that overly smooth/non lined and shiny texture/look of scarred skin but I was given a stronger oil that I then switched to for the affected area. I’m still using the Vitamin E blend around the skin though as I find it a good maintainer for normal skin.

Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil Complex Review Opinion Natural Healing Vegan

Stretch marks, scars and more, oh my

The packaging states that this is helpful for dry skin, uneven skin, scars, lines/wrinkles and stretch marks. Having been an active youth subject to a lot of incident and injury from freewheeling ok falling/tumbling down slopes landing underneath my bicycle, jumping off swings at high arc, street hockey to more mundane indoor things like apparently falling off a chair as a child and breaking an arm I’ve alot of scars. I tested this on a range of them; some old (over a decade) stretch marks on my arm (thank you push-ups, not), a bite mark on my hand that’s relatively recent and a breakout on my face (I rarely eat refined White sugar but did recently for filler and immediately suffered for it with inflammation and spots) and the results varied. I found this worked best on my face with the spots automatically feeling slightly itchy and being visibly reduced overnight, whereas on the older scars there wasn’t any difference. I hadn’t really expected any either since scars are notorious that way and this is a light oil. I find the best ones are the really thick oils and butters like olive, cocoa, shea and coconut – they don’t really reduce old scars as much as disguise them like a soft lens in a romantic film when a lead character comes on screen. They soften the skin enough to make the appearance of scars less ‘harsh’ and jagged, that smoothing also makes the skin look and feel younger which in my experience adds a little glow (more noticeable on darker skin) though if you stop using them the scars become more noticeable again.

In regards to dry skin perhaps the cold weather is hindering it because it’s softening but not really making the skin ‘fill out’ which in itself would combat lines/wrinkles too. It doesn’t tone or tauten – though it doesn’t claim to – but just in case you were hoping for that this is not one of those (fruit oils are better for that). Again, I can imagine this working better in warmer weather.

What is Vitamin E?

I generally know the term ‘Vitamin E’ to apply to a group of health promoting compounds from various plants/foods rather than a single vitamin. A fat soluble nutrient and an antioxidant, which infers to me that it’s a healthy fat (obviously if consumed consciously as part of a lifestyle/diet read up on the possible effects of large quantities and remember that fats are used for many functions in the body not just affecting weight) which is easily broken down and helps prevent oxidization in the body which can lead to degenerative effects such as the ever dreaded aging but also health maladies. It’s linked to a healthy immune system, skin, hair and eyes but the benefits and risks are different depending on topical use or ingesting with the latter needing more careful consideration and recommended amounts for internal use are much lower than the ‘Tocopherol Enriched (10,000iu)’ of this product.

As a now common term in the skin care industry Dr Organic describes it ‘as a moisturiser it helps combat premature skin aging and also protects and soothes dry dehydrated and sun exposed skin. It also restores elasticity and reduces the appearance of skin imperfections by increasing hydration.’

The packaging – Mainly a Disadvantage

This is the one point where the brand falls down on the whole imo. There’s generally too much of it or its awkward. In this case the oil itself comes in a dark Brown glass bottle with inbuilt dropper pipette which is handy and hasn’t clogged in use but the box is twice as big as it needs to be (as you can see from the photo), has an two lids and is literally half empty. I’m guessing they thought they could print the info they wanted on it instead of adding a leaflet inside but its unbalanced and almost makes you think there’s something missing.

Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil Complex Review Opinion Natural Healing Vegan

About the brand

Dr Organic or ‘dr.organic’ is a cosmetic brand primarily available at Holland & Barrett. The ‘Dr’ is a British brand, are enrolled in a number of organic standard certifications and have a plethora of awards.

They describe themselves as providers or ‘bioactive skincare’; bioactive basically means a substance that can be used to affect or promote a response from a living organism, and/or can extracted from a living organism. To me it sounds like a very general slogan which can be applied to any number of cosmetics and non-cosmetics alike however from what I’ve seen of the brand it seems to imply that they are interested in conveying the beneficial properties of the items used without clashing or heightening/playing down some characteristics over others. It’s a lot to ask/a big claim and of course different people have different experiences, their products seem quite mild in general but there are some ingredients I’m not keen on.

Quoted from http://www.drorganic.co.uk/about.asp

Our Promise…
Organic ingredients
Bioactive ingredients
Natural ingredients
Natural ingredients are used in all formulations.
No harsh chemicals
No animal ingredients
All our products are suitable for vegetarians. In some products we used by-products from animals, most of which revolve around honey, these include; honey, royal jelly, propolis and bees wax.
No animal testing
No mineral oils
No GM ingredients
Preservatives (naturally derived)

The ranges available are Aloe Vera, Pomegranate, Tea Tree, Vitamin E, Lavender, Manuka Honey, Olive Oil, Royal Jelly, Rose Otto, Coconut Oil, Moroccan Argan Oil and Dead Sea Mineral. All of the ranges are vegetarian friendly and most vegan friendly.

Each range has a variety of products available including the usual Lip Balms, Body Butters, Hand & Nail Creams, Face Masks, Face Scrubs, Soaps, Body Scrubs, Body Washes, Face Washes, Shampoos, and Conditioners etc. Some more interesting items are toothpastes, deodorants and items focusing on the foot care.

All in all

Some of the glossiest (and feathery-iest) people I know eat tons of sunflower seeds so even though it sounds like a common oil and not particularly impressive, this unrefined version contains a lot of Vitamin E and thankfully in this blend doesn’t have that heavy, greasy feel or smell usually associated with it. Jojoba is also not the best for smell but is also subdued in that respect here. It’s lightweight and whilst not a quick absorber it’s not too slow and doesn’t thicken in the cold weather so makes a decent barrier oil that protects, nourishes and encourages skin growth. On the whole it’s value for money.

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Victorian Tips of the Day 6 & 7 – Cooking

TIP 6 – Mushroom Ketchup!

Break some large mushrooms, throw over them a good quantity of salt, and let them stand two nights. Strain and press out the liquor, and put into a stewpan with black pepper bruised, sliced ginger, shalots, and horse-radish. Boil it an hour, strain it, and bottle it up quite close when it is cold. If well boiled, tied down properly, and set in a dry place, it will keep two or three years; otherwise it will soon spoil.

mushroom ketchup recipe Victorian

TIP 7 – For a Cold!

A remedy for the ‘common cold’ eh, there’s so many some more proficient than others and quite a few healthy ones that boost your immune system in general. I haven’t tried this one but it doesn’t sound bad, pretty tasty actually!

Take a tea-cupful of linseed, a quarter of a pound of stick liquorice sliced, and a quarter of a pound of sun raisins, put them in two quarts of soft water, and let it simmer over slow fire, til nearly reduced to one quart; then strain off, and add to it, while it is hot, a quarter of pound of brown sugar-candy pounded.

James W. Laughton, The General Receipt-Book, c. 1845

Note – Linseed it known as flaxseed in the US.

Victorian Tip of the Day 3: Chilblains

Soak them in warm bran with water; then rub them well with mustard-seed flour. This must be done before they break.

The Housewife’s Receipt Book, 1837

That reminds me, wish I had some mustard oil for the now semi-swollen toes I have… Though I think I have some apple cider vinegar left…

A few tips for swollen toes and sore heels

It’s raining or pouring? Snowing? Windy? Or it’s simply bloody cold. At times like these hands and feet tend to get really cold and after a while they can start to swell. My toes decided to morph into cocktail sausage lookalikes which have prevented me from walking much today so here are a few tips that worked for me:

1. Don’t wait, leaving it and hoping/thinking it will get better by itself and not wanting to face it because, and in truth, there are so many other things to do/think about. I’m saying that because I do that a fair bit and sometimes the situation goes from annoying to quite distracting to the toes saying “That’s it! Dolly, deal with us now, we are not standing for this any more!” Which is what happened yesterday after a week of itching, tickling/tingling, being swollen but still walkable to being quite distracting on and off to the “That’s it!” point. Luckily it was in the evening as all of a sudden they got painful and hot and it was a mad dash for the things I needed as I knew I’d be sitting down for a while.

2. Traditional Epsom salt soak – approx 1/4 cup to a bowl of warm water, soak footsies for approx 25min. I actually soaked them for an hour as unfortunately I had to keep topping up the water (and used about 1/2 a cup of salt by the end) because the water kept going cold after a few minutes. After soaking, remember to gently remove any dead skin before tip 3.

3. Tea Tree oil and/or Lavender Oil gently applied over the feet. Remember not to use essential oil unless it’s been blended with a base oil.

4. If the swelling hasn’t gone down after the above (and it didn’t for me) – Neem oil mixed with a bit turmeric to make a paste and gently applied like a masque – obviously have to be prepared to sit down for a while with feet up for this one so have everything you need beside you first. I left it on until it completely dried, gently wiped off with a damp cloth and then applied some neem oil by itself. NOTE – turmeric is used as a colouring because it stains Yellow/Orange so the skin can change colour with this but it does wash off after 1-3 washes lol, use cool to warm water and a gentle/mild soap if you want and a towel/cloth that you don’t mind staining.

5. Warm to cool. When my feet are really swollen the worst bits ‘change their mind’ as to what they prefer, they’ll feel soothed for a while in a warm situation and then get irritated and will settle down a bit if moved to a cool environment. This pattern tends to happen when they are really swollen and continues for a while until the swelling goes down a bit. (I find the same happens with bruising as well.) This obviously means covering them lightly with a blanket (I tend to bend the blanket/duvet to form a cave so that the fabric isn’t touching the skin) for a while and then moving them out of the blanket, ongoing. For those ok with using heating if available, you can have them near a warm heater for a while, then move them, put them back, move them etc as necessary. I sleep sitting up at this point as they’re sore and don’t want fabrics rubbing them.

5. Hot water bottle – except not hot morelike warm-hot, or in a bag/carrier. When the feet are feeling slightly mollified I find they like a hot water bottle placed near them (lower legs, ankles) and sometimes on them.

6. Once the hot water bottle stage is reached pressure tends to help as well so I find sitting crossed legged helps.

7. When going out or just being unable to go barefoot indoors don’t aggravate the skin with rough fabrics. When my feet are swollen/sore they are very sensitive and the slightest touch of fabric irritates them/increases itchiness regardless of whether it’s cool cotton or something ‘furry’. So socks that are super soft or super smooth can help as a barrier for a while from rougher textures but bear in mind how breathable they are. I have some filmy thin, soft bandage that I wrap around my feet before putting anything else on. It’s best to just rest though if possible.

I’m no stranger to inflammation and swelling as I’ve had sore knees, regular jaw flame-ups and rsi in my fingers since I was 18, a bad hip since I was 23 and bad lower back since 27 as well as breathing/congestion (consistently blocked nose/throat) which involves inflamed breathing passages since 15. Hence I’ve tried lots of techniques from natural ointments akin to ‘deep heat’ to placing and holding raw garlic cloves in my jaw/back of the mouth behind the molars for upto two hours refreshing the garlic each half hour. I don’t mind putting ice on swollen parts of the body in general but I don’t use it on the extremities (hands/feet) where thousands and thousands of nerve endings are.

Happy feet are better feet 😀 !