I’d like to start by saying that this a guide for self help for common ailments that can be treated at home and not a replacement for medical intervention. Often as “business athletes” we act tough and don’t put ourselves first when it comes to caring for our own ailments, often leaving them to worsen due to our high pain threshold! Sound familiar? Yep, thought so.
Here’s a simple guide of natural products to keep in your medicine cabinet so you can react quickly when issues arise.
Arnica is a herb and the flowers of the plant are used for making natural oral or topical remedies. Taking Arnica orally can help with anything from a sore throat, teething pain, bruising, muscle pain. If applied topically it may relieve the symptoms of pain, swelling, bruises, insect bites, arthritis and sprains. The AP Massage oil contains the active ingredient Arnica Montana flower extract so makes a perfect oil to use on the body for sore muscles, aches and pains (NOTE: do not use on open wounds).
Epsom salts are simply magnesium sulphate to help relax aching muscles. Another bonus of soaking in an Epsom salts bath is that it soothes the nervous system. Simply dissolve the salts in a bath (temperature approx 36C-40C, which is normal bath temperature). Aim to soak for 15 to 20 minutes. For general wellbeing use approx 250g-500g and for deeper muscle relaxation use 500g to 1kg per soak.
Short-term inflammation plays a role in repairing damage and fighting off invaders to our body. Pain is is inflammation and the body’s natural response to repair itself. Now, chronic inflammation is a different story and be a precursor to disease and long term ailments. Luckily turmeric contains an active ingredient called curcumin which is a strong anti-inflammatory component. You can easily add turmeric to your daily cooking or try making something called “golden paste” that you can add to yogurt, smoothies, soups and stews.
Golden Paste Recipe:
- 60g turmeric powder
- 250ml water
- 70ml coconut oil
- 3 teaspoons of freshly cracked pepper
- Bring the turmeric and water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until you have a thick paste. This takes about 7-10 minutes and you may need to add additional water. Slow the paste to cool until Luke warm.
- Add the freshly ground pepper and oil at the end of the cooking.
- Stir fully until well mixed.
- You can make a larger batch and freeze in a few jars for later use.
LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL
Lavender is a wonderful stress reliever and wonderful for relaxation either for a good pre-race nights sleep or post event massage. It’s also super for soothing cuts and bruises as well as can help speed up recovery and healing time.
PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL
Peppermint oil has helped to reduce pain and is widely know for its antispasmodic properties for tight muscles. Add a few drops to a carrier oil or cream and apply topically. The cooling sensation of the peppermint oil is very refreshing for both muscles and your mood.
WINTERGREEN ESSENTIAL OIL
Wintergreen is renown for deep pain relief but needs to be used sparingly as it’s very strong and powerful. Add 1-2 drops only to a carrier oil and massage directly on painful area. Avoid contact with eyes and open wounds when using any topical creams and essential oils.
Wasabi – yes, that bright green condiment that you get with your sushi or sashimi at a Japanese restaurant has very powerful properties as well as a punchy aroma and fiery kick. Famously known in Japan as a antimicrobial agent and helps to eliminate bacteria. Remember raw fish has a propensity to attract bacteria so no wonder they make a perfect combination. Add wasabi as an condiment and serve alongside an omelette, baked fish, meat and chicken.
EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
Evening Primrose Oil contains polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acids which are renowned to help control pain and inflammation. There is lots of evidence that it can reduce joint pain and improve muscle soreness. Evening Primrose oil contains 2-15% gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and approximately 70% linolenic acid (LA, which your body makes into GLA). GLA is important for maintaining the cellular structure and function of joints. Your body also makes it into a substance called “prostaglandins”, which regulate your immune system and fight joint inflammation. Take a look at clean supplements for at least 3 months at a strength of 500-600mg of evening primrose oil or 20-30ml of evening primrose oil taken orally.
Bone Broth has been around for decades but recently come back into trend due to it’s natural immune boosting properties. Simmering causes the bones and ligaments to release minerals in a form that is easily absorbed by the body like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sulphur plus healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine. These all help reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain.
- 1 kg of bones from a healthy source ( I normally use free range organic chicken)
- 2 chicken feet for extra gelatine (optional yet easy to find at a local butcher)
- 3 red onions (large diced)
- 2 large carrots (large diced)
- 3 stalks of celery (large diced)
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 handful of parsley
- Pinch of Himalayan crystal salt
- Pinch of cracked black pepper
- 1 inch of fresh turmeric grated
- 1 inch of fresh ginger grated
- 1 clove of garlic
- If you’re using raw bones then you may like to roast them first for added flavour. I save the bones from a Sunday roast chicken and then add more bones from the butcher. If you buy just raw bones then roast the bones for only 30 minutes at 200C.
- Place the bones and the apple cider vinegar in a large stock pot and add 100ml of water. Let sit for 30 minutes as the vinegar acids helps make the bone nutrients more available.
- Place all the rest of the ingredients in the stock pot and fill with water to cover the ingredients.
- Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Simmer for 6-8 hours
- During the simmering process, skim the surface to remove impurities (frothy/foamy layer) and throw it away.
- You may need to top it up with extra water so please keep an eye on it ever hour.
- Let cool, strain and serve or freeze.