Skincare rituals: AS Apothecary Complete Box of Cleansing

Even though this year spring has been slow coming and the temperatures at the moment remind us more of winter, the bird song outside the window early in the morning is unmistakably spring-like. Spring read more

Tummy bugs: tried & tested advice

Autumn is such a misleading season-on the one hand you get a wonderful variety of crops ( just looking at the pumpkin fields instantly lifts my mood ) and beautiful foliage and colors, but on the other hand, it signals the change in weather, so most of us succumb to all kinds of bugs and colds, with many more on the horizon until the gentle arrival of spring.

Last week saw the rise in the cases of notorious tummy bugs, bringing with it sleepless nights and children’s misery, so I though I will put together a little list of things that work for my family time and time again. Hope you find it equally helpful!


-The most obvious: wash your hands. Not every five seconds, but after cooking, cleaning, touching animals, being outside or coming back home from work, school or playdates. Use a good soap and teach your kids that hygiene is very important if they don’t want to have bugs in their tummies. That becomes doubly important if someone in the family actually gets a tummy bug.  

-If you or your child do get the misfortune of geting a tummy bug then the following remedies get my vote:

1. Dioralyte in whatever flavour your or your little one prefers. It helps with replacing essential body water, vitamins and salts that get lost due to vomiting and diarrhoea. Children in particular can become dehydrated very quickly, so make sure that they actually drink something to replenish the essential body fluids.  

2. A Russian paste like gel called Enterosgel, which helps to shift all the bugs and toxins out of your system quicker. If you can’t get your hands on a tube, try Charcoal tablets or Alka Seltzer ( for adults only, not children ) which serve the same purpose and are very effective.

3. A good probiotic to replace the good bacteria that gets lost, once your tummy starts to settle. There are good ones for both adults and children that can be bought at your local chemist or from my favorite online health store Victoria Health ( see the link below ). For children ABD Dophilus from Solgar gets my vote, as well

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Vitamin support for autumn time

Transition from summer to autumn can be somewhat treacherous and our immune system tends to either take time to adjust ( we end up feeling tired and struggle to get out of bed in the morning) or we just end up catching colds or viruses. I am on my second cold in as many weeks and have been thinking lately on what vitamins I can rely to help me get over colds without resorting to over the counter medicine.

My number one ‘friend’ in that respect is Emergen C, which I start taking at the first sign of a cold and most often than not, even if the cold stays, it lingers as opposed to taking over my body. There are also two very useful homeopathic remedies-aconite 30c or oscillococcinum-the same rule applies-start taking them as soon as you have an inkling that you are coming down with something. The cold will either start developing at a much quicker pace or will disappear all together-win win either way.

Pukka is a very good brand ( I really like some of their teas) that produces organic bio nutrients and I have started taking theirpukka Natural Vitamin C that contains bioflavonoids that are made from a powerful blend of organic fruit extracts including, rosehip ( a very popular remedy in Russia which is also available as delicious tea, that acts as a tonic not only for your immunity but your skin too-be choosy about which one you buythough as many of them tend to be bland and a good rosehip tea if fragrant and full of flavour), lemon, acerola and bilberries.

Eskimo makes a high strength Omega 3 fish oil supplement that also contains vitamin E which is a great anti-oxidant and I find that not only it nurtures my skin, as the weather becomes colder and harsher but it gives my body support as the energy levels dwindle a little.

From my own experience I know that going to bed earlier, preferably with an open window in your bedroom, eating seasonal foods that are full of vitamins, drinking warming teas like chai tea, green tea or lemon and ginger infusions and doing moderate amount of exercise, even if it is a brisk walk during the daylight hours makes a big difference to the way our bodies respond to cold and viruses.

Chicken pox: helpful tips

Until recently i had faint memories of chicken pox, a very common childhood illness. I got it aged 14, on the last day of the 21 incubation period from my baby brother-i was almost gleeful that i wouldn’t get it and then boom, on the last day all over my lovely face and body. For some reason, i though it would be fun to put zelenka-a very commonly used Russian natural antiseptic-dark green in colour- on the spots on my face and look out of the window when my so-called boyfriend gave me a holler, standing downstairs in our garden-we used to be next door neighbours at the time-suffice to say he ran away almost screaming, while I collapsed in heaps of laughing giggles.

Chicken pox generally rears its head or rather spots during spring or summer-i have no idea why but it’s an acknowledged fact. It generally spreads from child to child at school-I foolishly thought that my kids would not get it because they would have ‘higher immunity’ due to the fact that I had it as a child and the fact that I nursed them-don’t be fooled by this old folks tale- if your child is meant to get it, he or she will, no matter what .)

Most kids are utterly miserable for the first two to four days due to the fact that they get terribly itchy. Try explaining to a small child that he or she  shouldn’t scratch because they might have marks on their body in the future-they might give you a pitiful glance at best……

It is absolutely true that the younger the child, the easier they handle this illness, so if you baby or child gets it, don’t dispair, just be patient.

During my childhood one wasn’t vaccinated against chicken pox but there is a vaccine for it now, yet a word of warning-it stops being very effective after a child turns 10 or so and if your child gets it around 16 or 18, keep an eye on things as it might lead to infertility as a side effect.

So my tired and tested advice is this:

-the initial 3 or 4 days can be miserable but things get better after that pretty quickly. Try to keep you child distracted by favourite tv programmes, reading etc.-anything that will keep their minds off scratching.

-a word on Piriton syrup-doctors recommend it and some of my girlfriends think it does make a difference during the itchy phase-in my experience it didn’t make a difference at all. 

-there is a genius cream to help with the itching that my friend Michelle gave me, having used it on her children-thank God for friends at times like that-having had the experience like that themselves, they will help you keep your sanity and your child’s misery at bay too. The gel is called ViraSoothe by Care+(available from larger Boots branches). It can be used on children as young as 6 months and it helps relieve the itching and supports the healing and scarring process-it truly made a huge difference and in a very short period of time.

-homeopathy has lots of helpful remedies that help with fever/itching/healing. My lovely homeopath Kay Wesley recommended the remedies below:

Sulphur makes the spots come out more quickly. Merc Viv is great is blisters get inflamed.Rhus tox is a useful cream to apply as the blisters appear;switch to Calendula cream once the blisters/spots are fully out-it helps the skin heal properly and in some cases minimises the scarring.

-it might be beneficial to give your child a couple of quick baths a day, with calendula drops or Weleda’s baby products-it calms them down and soothes the itchy skin.

-please be aware that your child is contagious for the first 5 days or until the spots start drying out and no new ones appear. And don’t give dirty looks to mothers of kids who look like they had chicken pox at the playground-no decent mother will take her child out intentionally while they are contagious for other people.

-infectious deceases like that make your child’s immunity stronger, so just keep an eye on your child’s behaviour and call the doctor is something worries you-better safe than sorry.

And last but not least-the positive thing about chicken pox (my son calls it chicken fox) is that you only get it once!

Thoughts on pregnancy

PregnancyPregnancy is a special time in the life of any woman, but I am not going to say that it’s always easy and straight forward. Some of us get pregnant just by ‘looking’ at our partner, some struggle to do so and some choose not to have kids-every choice is personal and to be respected.

My pregnancies were different in the sense that I felt different emotionally and physically with each of my ‘bumps’ but I was lucky to have had straight forward pregnancies and was guided by a wonderful support network.

I have extensively discussed the subject with many of my girlfriends and have to say, that there are no exact guidelines. For example, a few years ago you were told not to have any alcohol, now it’s being said that an odd glass of red wine might be beneficial for both mother-to-be and the bump.

Does one eat sushi? I did or so did many of my girlfriends, as long as the fish was really fresh and the restaurant ‘tried and tested’.

Do you take supplements? Some buy any off the counter vitamins for pregnant women but many of my girlfriends name Zita West’s ones for each trimester and pre-c0nception as firm favourites.

Do you exercise? Again, depends on the pregnancy. Sometimes you are just too tired and don’t want to do anything other than walk in the fresh air and that is the right thing to do. More often than not pregnancy yoga and pilates achieve great results-be it in the class or doing a DVD workout at home-a word of warning though-don’t start any new activity during pregnancy and often yoga and pilates are not recommended before you are 3 months along. Again, talk to your midwife or Ob. My favourite and tried and tested yoga DVDs are by Shiva Rea ‘Prenatal yoga’ (it has trimester modifications) and ‘Tara Lee’s ‘Pregnancy Health Yoga’ (it has full and restorative practises, breathing exercises, relaxation, visualisation, partner work, preparation for labour and birth and also covers common pregnancy related ailments). It’s better to do little but every day than do a bigger session let’s say twice a week-again, that’s what worked for me.

I saw Dr. Gowri Motha and one of her lovely therapist’s Sarah, when I was pregnant with my son-the only thing I didn’t like is that there were always several women who had treatments side by side, separated by whimsical screens. Her book ‘Gentle Birth Method’ has been on my bedside table each time though, as it gave lots of useful and sensible advice and answered lots of questions, covering each week of the pregnancy and labour. It talks about birth preparations, symptoms, diet, exercises, treatments and so far, I haven’t found a better book, though I have high hopes for Emma Cannon’s next book, due out next year.

I have to be honest and say that I have been very diligent about not taking any medication during pregnancy, unless it was advised by my obstetrician.

I also used homeopathy and my lovely homeopath Kay truly convinced me that homeopathy is potent and very helpful when dealing with various pregnancy related ailments like sciatica, tiredness, back ache etc. You can also benefit from it during labour and it helps you heal faster post delivery and gets milk production going faster (if you choose to breast-feed) and can help to calm you and the baby among other benefits. My son had some homeopathic medicines made by Kay before he had MMR, which I consider to be one of the ‘toughest’ vaccination combinations on the kid’s immunity and he sailed through the vaccination and post vaccination period without fever or aches or swelling of the glands.

I also gave a lot of thought to cosmetics i.e. what I was putting on my skin, be it on the body or face. I have been truly lucky that my friend

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