Image

The next big thing in beauty: Vitamin Infusions

Nosh Detox Vitamin Infusion

Yesterday morning I discovered one of the biggest secrets to sparkling celebrity skin and it certainly wasn’t from a £1000 pot of promises. I was taped to a drip in a plush address off Harley Street in London, with thousands of milligrams of pure vitamins pumped into my blood intravenously. This was a Nosh Detox Vitamin Infusion and it’s far better than it looks or sounds, I promise, so stick with me!

I guarantee Vitamin Infusions are set to be the next big health and beauty treatment to hit the mainstream. Forget creams, forget supplements and don’t even bother with regular smoothies from the supermarket. What the celebs have been booking before red carpet appearances is a course of vitamin infusions.

What’s a Vitamin Infusion? It’s when vital nutrients are administered directly into the body (by a nurse), bypassing  the digestive system. Vitamins supplements taken orally are usually rendered useless due to ineffective absorption in the gut – I’ve heard the body can only absorb around 40% maximum of a supplement pill anyway which doesn’t sound like very much. Through IV nutrition you literally absorb 100% of the minerals and vitamins right before your eyes – that whole bottle of liquid you see in the picture above was gone within 30 mins.

What’s it for? Great skin, great health, energy, vitality. Even if your diet is great and you feel relatively healthy, you may not be at optimum health. You might feel tired or run down, have dry or dull skin or be getting ill regularly. Having a massive infusion of vitamins not only boosts the body back to health (especially after a spell of illness) but can also be great as a form of health maintenance . The PR girls who’d had the treatment a few days earlier looked incredibly well with enviously great skin so I was sold just by looking at them.

How do I feel now? I felt great after I had it and while I didn’t notice any instant glow on my skin, I did feel absolutely full of beans until the early hours. I definitely couldn’t sleep and woke up super easily the next day. I’ve heard the red carpet crew have these infusions regularly – either a short course before a big event, to get back on track after a period of stress or top-ups ever fortnight, month or even week.

But it doesn’t come cheap. Let’s just say you have to be comfortable with money. The infusion I had was Fit-Amin for immune and energy boost and cost a few hundred pounds. It contained: 2000 mg vitamin C, all the Bs, magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium and several other vital nutrients.

Is this just another fad or is it the future of health and wellbeing? I say future, and most definitely one for health and beauty geeks like me…

Stress-busting aromatherapy and massage

NYR aromatherapy massage course emma robertson

NYR massage aromatherapy course

Did you know the quality of an aromatherapy oil is affected by the quality of the soil and where/how the plant is sourced? Did you also know rose oil was once used as a hangover cure as well as a way to heal a broken heart? And, in addition to relaxation and sleep, essential oil of lavender can also soothe and heal cuts, bites and burns.

I soaked up these fantastic facts and more at the Neal’s Yard Remedies Introduction to Massage course which I was lucky enough to attend last weekend. With it being National Stress Awareness Day last week, alleviating stress was the focus of the day.

I highly recommend this one day course that runs twice a year, especially if you’re excited by the therapeutic benefits of essential oils and wish you could get more massage into your life. Led by Neal’s Yard Remedies Head of Massage, Elaine Tomkins, it’s relaxed and informative with oil blending in the morning and basic hand, neck, back and head massage techniques in the afternoon. Take a partner you like or love and you’ll have a giggle too.

Here I am with beauty freelancer Emma Robertson attempting to give a relaxing head massage but judging by the look on her face I could be causing more pain than pleasure!

NYR aromatherapy massage course emma robertson

How to cure stress with essential oils and aromatherapy:

Rose – it’s one of the most healing (for skin) and anxiety-relieving oils you can choose. Just a few drops with water in an oil burner can calm the mind and prepare it for sleep. My rose oil is burning now as I write…

NYR aromatherapy rose oil burner

It takes 60-100 rose petals to make just one drop of rose essential oil – this fact always makes me wonder how sustainable it is to produce natural rose oil, which is why it’s important to buy from brands that grow organically and show a commitment to the livelihood of growers and farm workers.

Neal’s Yard Remedies has a history of building impressive relationships with its raw materials suppliers and works with a cooperative in southern Turkey for its rose extracts, using organic farming methods and ensuring fair living wages.

Bergamot –  this oil is extracted from the rind of a small (inedible) pear-shaped fruit from a tiny citrus tree (commercially grown in Italy). Bergamot is apparently great with gin (I’ll be trying this) as well as being the distinctive flavour in Earl Grey tea. The scent is uplifting and refreshing with a subtle spikiness.  Blend it with rose in a burner to help soothe nervous anxiety, create a harmonising massage oil or mix it with two drops of lavender for an uplifting bath oil. Along with rose, this was one of my favourites we sniffed.

Frankincense – this ancient oil has been used for religious ceremonies for thousands of years and might remind you of wintery, festive seasons. Its earthy, warm aura feels slightly uplifting and if you blend it with black pepper or citrus oils feels even more powerful. Interestingly, it enhances deep breathing making it great for meditation.

Clary Sage – from these five essential oils we smelled this was my least favourite. The strong muskiness didn’t agree with me at all, however, once blended with bergamot and rose it was far more attractive. This oil is said to help lighten a heavy state of mind, sadness, fatigue or fear. That’s sold it to me.

Holeaf – tipped by our trainer, Elaine as the next oil-to-watch, she predicts more beauty and fragrance brands will be using holeaf to lift their products to life over the next five years. Extracted from a Chinese evergreen tree (the wood of this same tree produces Camphor oil), it can enliven a low mood and low libido. Also good as a post-exercise massage oil to relieve fatigued muscles. Or add to your bath to help with flu, coughs or colds – perfect for this time of year.

If like me you’re fascinated by essential oils and desperate to get some of this vapour energy into your heart, body and mind then here are a few ways Elaine described to drip, pour, mix and burn oils for emotional and physical wellbeing…

1. Burn a few drops with water – inhaling the vapours can have a great effect on mood and emotions.

2. Use as a bath oil – apparently best mixed with full-fat milk to disperse into water more easily or mix with Epsom salts.

3. Apply neat to skin  – please note, not all oils are safe to do this with.

4. Blend with a carrier oil – such as almond or jojoba for a therapeutic massage/body oil.

5. Add to floral water – try orange flower or rose water to make a refreshing facial toner.

6. Combine with unperfumed moisturiser – to nourish and enhance skin.

7. Add a few drops to hot or cold water – to make a healing compress.

…and a few I found searching online which I might try too:

8. Mix 3-5 drops of essential oil to unscented clothes detergent.

9. Mix two teaspoons of tea tree oil with two cups of water in a spray bottle for an oil-purpose household cleaner. (I love this one as I absolutely loathe all the chemical cleaning sprays everyone buys).

10. Soak a cotton ball with patchouli and/or lavender and place in closets to keep moths away from clothes – I’m definitely going to be trying this one as I’m so paranoid about moths eating my clothes.

So there we have it, a very long post about amazing essential oils! I’m off to buy a life-enhancing wardrobe of essential oils, so please pass on any tips you might have too, would love to hear them…

Find out more about Neal’s Yard Remedies courses here. 

Why coconut oil is good for you

Pukka Herbs coconut_oil

Pukka Herbs coconut_oil

Coconut oil is my hot-product of the moment – as a spread for toast and oil for cooking – but a friend recently said it’s not good for us as it’s saturated fat, i.e. a heart health and weight-loss no-no. Yes, it’s a saturated fat but no, it isn’t bad for us, it’s actually very very good. So off I went to consult the powers of Google and I came back with some very very confusing answers. Luckily, health journalist Anna Magee, in her brand new book The De-stress Diet, explains why this is a wonder oil for our health and wellbeing, inside and out…

“Not all saturated fats behave the same. Plant versions like medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut cannot be stored as fat and so act thermogenically, raising fat-burning and metabolism. These are the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory fats like lauric acid caprylic acid, also found in human breast milk, pumpkin seeds and butter.” 

Even more interesting, she says: “High dietary coconut is associated with low obesity and heart disease in culture that eat it a part of their traditional diet, showing abilities to regulate insulin, prevent metabolic syndrome, reduce heart disease risk factors and as a healthy addition to a weight-loss diet.”

So there you have it, a secret powerhouse. It comes as a solid in a jar or tub but turns liquid in warmer temperatures so it’s very versatile. I’ve also heard it’s great for applying straight to skin – I met a woman once who lives in Thailand (think of all the wrinkle-causing sun rays) but honestly she looked about ten years younger which she said was down to using only coconut oil on her face. I’m sold.

So, thank you Anna for the fab explanation that’s helped sort out the bad from the good. Now go forth and get coconut oil into your life! And please check out the exceedingly good health, diet and wellbeing book for an insightful (and seriously easy) way to live a healthier and happier life without stress and weight-gain: The De-Stress Diet by Anna Magee and Charlotte Watts (£12.99, HayHouse). Buy it. Now. You won’t be disappointed.

A berry vitamin boost

Perricone Super Berry Acai

Perricone Super Berry Acai

A belated Happy New Year! Just a quick one to tell you about a great vitamin-boosting drink I tried the other day that helped prop up my weak January immune – Super Berry Powder with Acai by Dr. Perricone – a good winter supplement perhaps?

It contains a blend of a zillion berries – raspberries, blueberries, bilberry, goji and others – as well as acai, a Brazilian berry containing lots of antioxidants and essential fatty acids.  (Although I have to say at this point the nutritional information on the pack isn’t so detailed so I couldn’t tell how effective it really is).

I double-dosed and poured two sachets into one big glass (not sure if you’re supposed/not supposed to do that!) but I needed a mega health boost.

It’s a bit pricey  but just thought I’d tell you about it anyway as I’m a bit of a Perricone fan – currently reading his latest book Forever Young. Let me know if you’ve tried other vitamin-boosting drinks that you’ve liked – always on the lookout for more.

Hope you’re having a great and healthy start to the year – there’ll be more health-related posts this month including info on The De-stress Diet – a fabulous new book, that’s just out, by one of my editors so stay tuned!

x

Tried and loved: New Year’s day massage in Zanzibar

Me at Mrembo Spa, Zanzibar

Having just returned from my big Tanzanian adventure, I couldn’t wait to tell you about my New Year’s day massage by a local, blind therapist on Zanzibar (island off Africa’s east coast). This turned out to be an unbeatable way to see in 2011!

After a few too many drinks the night before in Stone Town – a sleepy tourist town with hundreds of years of Arabic and Portuguese history – I woke up to a wonderful invite by my friend, to go to Mrembo Spa – ‘mrembo’ meaning a woman who loves to pamper herself, in Swahilli – for a massage by Aisha, their blind therapist. An offer I couldn’t refuse as I’ve many massages but never one by a blind person.

Continue reading “Tried and loved: New Year’s day massage in Zanzibar”

Winter health – how not to get a cold

The Organic Pharmacy Immune Tonic

The Organic Pharmacy Immune TonicThe snow caught up with London today and it was freezing! So I thought I’d introduce you to my secret weapon for warding off a winter cold. Something we could all do with at this time of year. And this little saviour is the business when it comes to keeping away aches and pains, and it’s completely natural.

It is The Organic Pharmacy Immune Tonic.

This special tincture is a blend of herbs such as Cat’s Claw (great for kidney health), Elderberry and Thyme (great for fighting infection) to strengthen the immune system and keep you feeling fit against the raging elements outside.

Add a few drops in water (I recommend juice as it doesn’t taste sweet) and down it quick! Keep this up all winter and you might have a few less sneezes than expected.

I love it. Tell me what you use against the winter chill…

£10.76 from The Organic Pharmacy

Review: Divine Retreats, Italy

Fattoria Mansi Bernardini, Tuscany Italy

Fattoria Mansi Bernardini, Tuscany Italy

Fattoria Mansi Bernardini Italy

Lucky me, I’ve just returned from a beautiful few days in the rolling hills of Tuscany, Italy on a Divine Retreats yoga holiday. The setting was unbeatable – a 16th century estate restored but still seeping with history and original antique furniture, with several villas and farmhouses, vineyards and 200 acres of land. Welcome to Fattoria Mansi Bernardini.

The week-long retreat consisted of gentle, mood-enhancing yoga twice a day (with Francis D’Angelo from Special Yoga Centre in London) and sessions with holistic practitioners, such as Journey Healing (with Sandra Ferreira), Theta Healing (with Lorena Granata), Remedial Massage (with Krisztina Karanyicz) and Art Meditation (with Dalia Zermon). I also met Yogi Malik from Yoga Magazine, and Miss Eco Glam.

My visit was brief but it was enough to enjoy the fantastic food whipped up from the family kitchen every night as well as local cheese, biodynamic wine from the neighbouring vineyard and olive oil from the estate’s own olive trees. Amazing.

Look out for a more in-depth review in Natural Health magazine next year.

Thank you Divine Retreats!

The next trip will be in Spring 2011.Visit www.divineretreats.co.uk for more details