Germ-proof your body with Ayurveda

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Before Western medicine came along with its pills and injections, the ancient Indian healing science of Ayurveda advised a preventative approach to healthcare. By working out which ‘Ayurvedic body type’ you are and determining your dosha, a diet can be mapped out to suit your nutritional needs to prevent illness.

There are several alternative ways to help combat the symptoms of colds without having to reach for chemically packed pills in silver foil. One of these is Ayurveda, the oldest natural healing system originating from India, which offers preventative and curative measures in line with nature.

Ayush Wellness Spa in Jersey have crafted a cold prevention treatment that adheres strictly to the ancient Indian healing philosophy of Ayurveda mixing authentic therapies with luxurious treatments. While they have a number of treatments designed to offer relief from the discomfort associated with head and sinus problems, Nasya is a traditional treatment where the expertly trained therapists massage pressure points in the face, head and chest with medicated oils for instant relief and use steam to help clear nasal passages and aid in purification. Oils and powders are placed up the nose as a stimulant to release congestion.

Ayush Wellness Spa fosters a natural approach to health care that includes meditation, yoga, exercise, massage and daily and seasonal lifestyle routines. They seek to redress the chemical warfare that people wreak on their own bodies by using products that are 100 per cent natural. The spa boasts an apothecary kitchen where herbs and oils are mixed according to guestsÂ’ dosha. Once guests have had their imbalances addressed and dosha type determined with a treatment programme and complementary Ayurvedic meals, we can prescribe natural supplements and elixirs to take with you, so that you can continue on your path towards perfect health in the real world.

Yet for those who are susceptible to the common cold but may not be able to make it to Ayush Wellness Spa to rejuvenate themselves for the year ahead, Ayurvedic help is at hand online or at local herbal or health food outlets.

• Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a shrub whose roots are widely used to boost immunity, reduce anxiety and increase longevity. A review of 58 articles, published in Alternative Medicine Review, concluded that ashwaganda has anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, antioxidant and immune-boosting properties. (600 to 1,000 milligrams a day, divided into two or three capsules) or guduchi (see below) throughout the cold and flu season.

• Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) is an herb that enhances immunity by boosting antibody production and the activity of powerful white blood cells called natural killer cells, says Simon. Studies conducted in India have shown that patients receiving guduchi before having abdominal surgery had fewer postoperative infections and significantly improved outcomes. Ayush advises taking 1 teaspoon twice daily or the recommended dose of ashwagandha if you catch colds and flu easily.

• Herbal jam, or Chavan Prash, which comes from the amalaki fruit (Indian gooseberry), is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants and has immune-enhancing effects. Ayush advises taking it year-round for overall wellness. Spread 1 teaspoon on bread twice daily or take it in capsules.

For enquiries or to make a reservation contact Ayush Wellness Spa, Hotel de France, St SaviourÂ’s Road, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands JE1 7XP on 01534 614171 or visit www.ayushspa.com

Stress professor reveals top 10 tips

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London: Endless shopping queues, cold weather and the nightmare prospect of having the in-laws round for lunch are just some of the reasons why the UK is dreading Christmas 2006!

New research released today by The Wrigley Company reveals that nearly a quarter (23%) of Brits are stressed out and not looking forward to the Christmas break. *

With just ten days until the last shopping weekend before Christmas – the most stressful period of all according to 26% of study respondents – Wrigley has teamed up with top ‘stress professorÂ’ Cary Cooper to help tackle BritainÂ’s Yuletide stress problem. Professor Cooper has developed a formula – based on the results of the survey of 2,400 people – comprising the UKÂ’s key Christmas stress elements that will allow Brits to calculate their personal Christmas stress factor. The professor has come up with some top tips on how to reduce those stress levels as well!

Exhaustion from the Christmas build up, leaving for work and coming home in the dark, getting in the supplies at home, those family members you just don’t want to see, and the return to work all add up to –

Exhaustion Period + 2 (Preparation for Xmas + Weather) + (Family Time + Return to Work) / 2 = Christmas stress!

In fact, the study shows that two million Brits will choose to flee the country on holiday and escape the Christmas crush altogether! Of those who stay behind, nearly half of us (48%) will get stressed out by the experience of Christmas shopping and buying festive foods; 14% will even spend time worrying about the workload left on their desks whilst others will agonise over who gets a Christmas card – with 12% even wanting cards scrapped altogether! It seems that the UK population this Christmas is more likely to resemble Scrooge than Tiny TimÂ…

People are planning to try and take action this year to battle the Christmas stress factor with 16% intending to nurture healthy habits like taking exercise or chewing gum to help manage stress. A further 28% aim to avoid the high streets altogether by shopping online; and 27% will be hiding from people that they find most stressful to try lower their stress levels.

Alarmingly, 44% of those surveyed admit they have no idea how to manage their stress levels and it would appear that putting your feet up and watching the telly (a favourite stress buster) wonÂ’t help at Christmas time, with endless reruns of the Snowman and Mary Poppins leaving nearly half of the population (47%) ready to tear their hair out!

“Christmas should be a happy time of year, but the pressures of modern life mean it’s becoming a period of stress for some instead. Simple things like planning ahead, shopping online, reserving quiet time or actually looking at the positive aspects of spending time with family are all ways you can manage stress and get the most out of the festive season,” says Professor Cary Cooper.

“Managing life’s little stresses doesn’t have to be complex; scientific studies have shown that chewing sugar free gum can help you relieve the symptoms of stress. So this Christmas, whether you’re shopping for presents or preparing for the family to arrive, a piece of gum could help you stay calm,” says Alexandra MacHutchon, from Wrigley

*KRC Research, November 2006, sample of 2414 adults in the UK

Professor Cary CooperÂ’s top tips for managing Christmas stress

1) Do not leave everything to the last minute! Make sure you do start planning in the weeks leading up to Christmas – presents, provisions and what to do at New Year

2) Remember to have some fun along the way; do things you enjoy doing and include members of your family too

3) Make sure you donÂ’t skip meals out of business, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly

4) Approach Christmas with a positive outlook – don’t let yourself think it will be a nightmare, focus on the best things about the festive period instead. That positivity will communicate itself to others around you

5) Take some ‘me’ time – take a bit of time just to relax, unwind and indulge yourself for a few minutes during the day

About the Wrigley Company

The Wrigley Company is the worldÂ’s leading manufacturer of chewing and bubblegum and a major player in the confectionery industry worldwide.

Some of Wrigley’s most famous brands include Wrigley’s Extra®, Airwaves®, Orbit®, Juicy Fruit®, Wrigley’s Spearmint®, Doublemint® and Hubba Bubba®. Wrigley is committed to diversifying close to home and recently launched its first non-gum products for over one hundred years – Extra™ Thin Ice™ and Extra™ Mints.

About Professor Cary Cooper

Cary L. Cooper is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University and the author of numerous scholarly articles and books on stress (e.g. Creating a Balance: Managing Stress, London: The British Library Press). He is also President of the International Stress Management Association and BACP.

UK government warns vulnerable with winter warming advice

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London: As the winter months approach, we all need to plan ahead and take steps to help protect ourselves from the elements. Around 20,000 people die each year in England and Wales as a result of the cold weather and in especially cold winters, deaths in the UK could rise as high as 40,000.

The British government’s Department of HealthÂ’s Keep Warm Keep Well campaign offers older people, the disabled and those on low incomes advice on keeping warm and staying healthy during the colder months. A free winter guide gives plenty of practical tips as well as information on financial support that might be available, such as grants for home improvements to help make houses warmer or help to meet the cost of heating bills.

BritainÂ’s longest serving TV weather forecaster, Michael Fish MBE (seen in our picture right) and who is championing this yearÂ’s campaign, said:

“There is a direct link between cold weather and serious illness – as the temperature drops, the mortality rate rises. A couple of changes to your lifestyle or home can make all the difference to your wellbeing during the winter.”

You can keep warm and well by taking a few precautionary steps:
• Make sure your home is warm this winter:
o Check your heating system works
o Ensure your home is energy efficient so heating bills are kept to a minimum
• Make sure you’re healthy this winter:
o Check with your GP to see if you qualify for a free flu and/or pneumo jab
o Eat well, dress sensibly and take exercise
Keep Warm Keep Well is a partnership between the Department of Health, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), The Department for Work and Pensions, Help the Aged, Age Concern, National Energy Action, Energywatch and WRVS.

For more information about the Keep Warm Keep Well policy, please contact Erica McAlpine in the Department of Health Press Office on 020 7210 5239 or erica.macalpine@dh.gsi.gov.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Source of number of cold weather deaths http://www.statistics.gov.uk./cci/nugget.asp?id=574

2. A copy of the Keep Warm Keep Well booklet can be obtained by writing to DH Publications, PO Box 777, London SE1 6XH. The book is published in a range of languages and in an easy read format. For the hard of hearing, an audio version of the leaflet is also available

3. Campaign materials can be downloaded from the Department of Health website www.dh.gov.uk/socialcare

4. To find out about getting a flu or pneumo jab, people should approach their GP, practice nurse or pharmacist, visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk, NHS Direct Interactive on digital satellite TV, or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647

5. For advice on any aspect of Winter Fuel Payments (including eligibility), call the helpline on 08459 15 15 15 (8.30am to 4.30am, Monday-Friday). Please use textphone 0845 601 5613 if you have speech or hearing difficulties. Please have your National Insurance number ready when you call. You can also go to www.thepensionservice.gov.uk/winterfuel

6. Call a helpline for advice on keeping warm and well this winter:
• Warm Front Scheme 0800 072 0151
• Home Heat Helpline 0800 33 66 99
• NHS Direct (health advice and information) 0845 4647
Calls to NHS Direct cost a maximum of 5 pence per minute from a BT landline. The cost of calls from mobiles and other networks may vary. Your service provider may charge a minimum cost per call. For patientsÂ’ safety all calls are recorded

7. Help and advice is also available from:
• Home Improvement Agencies 0145 789 1909
• The Energy Saving Trust’s Energy Efficiency Advice Centres 0800 512 012
• Energywatch 0191 239 3291
• National Energy Action (NEA) www.nea.org.uk

TOP TIPS

1) Get a flu jab
This is available free from your GP if you are 65 or over, or any age over 6 months with a serious respiratory condition, heart, kidney or liver disease, diabetes or lowered immunity.

2) Dress well
You are at risk if you get cold. Wearing the right amount of clothes in layers and putting on a hat when you go outside, can help keep you much warmer.

3) Eat well
Food is a vital source of warmth. Eat a mixed diet each day and have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day.

4) Keep moving
Moving around is good for your health and generates extra body heat, so any exercise or activity will help keep you warm.

5) Heat well
Try to keep a temperature of 21 degrees in all rooms you use during the day. Or, at the very least heat your living room during the day and your bedroom at night. Use a hot water bottle or an electric blanket (but never at the same time).

6) Plan ahead
Check your heating system and gas safety. Fitting draught proofing or insulation and getting your chimney swept are just a few things you can do now to make a difference.

7) Get financial support
Initiatives such as the Warm Front Scheme, Winter Fuel Payments and the Home Heat Helpline offer advice and grants for energy-efficiency, fuel bills and insulation for those most vulnerable to the winter. Call to find out your eligibility.

8) Stop smoking
Giving up smoking will boost your health for the winter, reduce your chances of a heart attack and improve your bodyÂ’s circulation.

9) Look out for your neighbours
If you have an elderly neighbour or relative, make routine visits to their home and keep an eye out for them in the winter months.

10) Look after yourself if you get ill
Keep a well-stocked medicine chest to help you prepare for potential illness. If you go down with flu you should stay at home and take plenty of rest.

Winter illnesses increase risk of heart attack

London: New research reveals that the risk of heart attack and stroke increases as a result of winter infections.

The joint study sponsored by the British Heart Foundation, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust discovered thatbronchitis can increase the risk of a heart attack by five times.The risk of having a stroke also trebles within the first few days of falling ill, according to researchers.

They found that the increased danger was caused not just by chest illnesses but other infections such as cystitis.

They believe inflammation may have something to do with it – either by helping to form the plaques that block arteries or by contributing to their rupture and causing heart attacks or strokes.

Around 300,000 people have heart attacks in Britain each year, 117,000 of them fatal. Every year more than 130,000 people in England and Wales suffer a stroke.

The latest study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirms that common infections play a part in triggering acute heart and circulatory problems.

The researchers examined the medical records of more than 40,000 people and discovered that the risk of heart attack was five times higher than normal in the first three days after a respiratory tract infection such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

The risk of stroke was found to be three times higher during the same period. The same applied to urinary tract infections such as cystitis.

However, in the following weeks after illness the risk of having a heart attack or stroke gradually decreased.
Professor Patrick Vallance, a researcher on the project at University College London, said: ‘The work shows that the timing of a heart attack is not random.’

He said the finding was important because it showed showed a surge in risk following a range of infections – not just chest infections, as might be expected.

Dr Liam Smeeth from the MRC, lead researcher on the project, said ‘This knowledge will open up new avenues for research and discovery.

‘Armed with the information we have found, we can begin to develop new strategies to reduce the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes.’

The BHF advised people to protect their hearts this winter by staying warm, eating a good diet, having a flu jab and being alert for unusual symptoms.

The researchers also investigated whether vaccinations, including flu and tetanus jabs, increased the risk of heart attacks or strokes. They found no increased risk associated with the vaccines, confirming their safety record.