Beauty secrets for men?

A few days ago, I mentioned a new yet ancient Mediterranean beauty treatment called Aphrodite.

Well, it turns out there’s a masculine version of the brand called, appropriately, Appolon.

Apollon olive OilShaving Gel
Brings out the Adonis in you

Now, you wouldn’t expect men to be hunting for beauty secrets, but they do like practical things which work. So, knowing that a combination of organic olive oil and wild herbs is good for the skin and hair is useful. The A and E vitamins in olive oil help repair and renew skin, while its antioxidants have a natural ability to nourish cells back to a healthier state.

So, consider these products if you hope to look a little more like Adonis:


Experience the luxurious beauty secrets of ancient Greece

olive oil soap
Beauty secrets from ancient Greece

In the Mediterranean there’s a traditional way to look after your hair and skin.

In Crete and Greece at least they use olive oil and wild herbs.

Women from the Minoan Civilisation would brush their hair with olive oil to keep it soft and shiny. Athletes used the oil to massage their bodies to relax their muscles. Even today it is advised that newly born babies are bathed with  olive oil soap to avoid skin problems.

Aphrodite’s olive oil bodycare products will give your skin a strong and healthy, radiant look. The range includes body butter, facial scrub, eye cream, soaps, shampoo and conditioner – all using organic extra virgin olive oil.

Natural beauty secrets, practiced for centuries, will not be far away.

Afghan raisins? A fair play for peace

If trade can be the cause of war, perhaps it can also provide a cause for peace?

Fair trade groups are testing this theory by trading coffee from the Congo and olive oil from Palestine in the UK.

Now, after four years work, Tropical Wholefoods are exporting raisins from peaceful areas of Afghanistan.

The Guardian reports “Offering people decent prices for their produce can help to support jobs, improving living conditions for producers, their families and the local businesses they buy from, and diverting young men, especially, away from involvement in militias.” (Sarah Irving)

The Fairtrade raisins are from the Shomali region of Afghanistan and, along with apricot kernals from Northern Pakistan, are the latest in a string of senstional fruits sold by Tropical Wholefoods.

Fairtrade fruits bursting with flavour
Fairtrade fruits bursting with flavour

Shoppers appreciate the excellence of the foods. Banana chips which are chewy, apricot kernals flavoured in chilli, banana-type ‘Bogoya’ slices which taste so good you’ll finish the bag, and now Afghan raisins which were once reputed to be the best in the world.

You can enjoy them as organic fruit and nut snack bars too.

Fair trade is all about opening up an opportunity for a different kind of life – and if it brings peace then it’s fair enough.

Olive oil almost halves your chance of having a stroke

If you’re older the bad news is you’re more likely to have a stroke (although roughly a quarter of strokes happen to people under 65).

An oil that keeps your body working
An oil that keeps your body working

But you can halve your chances with olive oil. Such are the indications from a study of over 7000 people.

No one is exactly sure why olive oil helps – it may be that the average diet of olive oil users is healthier over all, but a risk reduction of 41% is not to be sneezed at. Strokes are the biggest cause of adult disability in the UK.

What is known is that olive oil reduces blood pressure and contains compounds which are good for dealing with  inflammation which is linked to the development of heart disease and arthritis.

Organic creams for the most sensitive skin

Having just written about vegan cosmetics which, by their very composition tend to be safe and natural, it’s good to introduce a new skincare range which is just that, and not surprisingly it’s vegan and organic too.

Organic  cream for sensitive skin
Organic cream for sensitive skin

Natraderm have created a new line of moisturising creams for use in the  shower, and for the hair and skin. And of course, being Natraderm, they are totally free from artificial colours, fragrances, sulphates, chemical preservatives or artificial foaming agents.

What is really excellent about these creams is that they are suitable for anyone with sensitive skin or suffering from eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, skin rashes and irritations.

The shower gels and shampoo are entirely organic and blended with extracts of Jojoba, Shea Butter, Aloe Vera, Olive Oil and Coconut Oil.

If you’ve ever used Natraderm you’ll know how soothing it is, so you can look forward to being gently cleansed and moisturised by these new skin-friendly creams.

How well do you know your olives? A brief guide

My house is split in its love for olives. The refined half spend hours chatting round a jar of the ancient berries, à la Grecque, while the rest of the barbarian household make passing rude comments in the corner. You can tell which group I’m part of.

As the epitome of health I’d never imagined that olives could be any healthier. But the raw food community are having a go… but I thought olives were raw?

There are olives and then there are good olives

To be honest I didn’t realise that, often, the olives you buy are pasteurised – that means they are heat treated to kill off bacteria and pickled with caustic soda. But this also kills off some nutrients.

(Heaven forbid the philistine remnant of my family get hold of this information – they’d never let us forget it.)

Newly harvested olives
Newly harvested olives

Sterilisation requires even more heat for longer – these are the type of olives you often get on your pizza.

The traditional curing method has always been to soak olives in salt or salt water for several weeks. That way there is no discolouration, the olives retain their crunch, there’s more nutrients and they won’t taste metallic.

Did you know some black olives are just dyed black? If they have been, you should see it on the labelling under E579 or Ferrous Gluconate. And the label should also tell you if your olives are pasteurised.

And, of course, if you go organic your olive won’t carry chemical pesticides.

RAW Health Olives

RAW Health harvest their olives by hand, debitter them in spring water and never use heat. You can choose from organic Kalamata olives (dark) or mixed olives and their Kalamata Olive Oil (organic extra virgin) has already won two top awards this year.

RAW Health are always coming up with new ideas. In addition to their olives, why not try their herb infused Sprouted Sunseeds Provençale (great on a summer evening with a bottle of wine which is, er, technically a raw food) or grab some of their Energy Boost Trail Mix for an active day out?

Head Start

Get ahead of the rest using natural products. Lisa Burn investigates.

Hair and skin

It’s known as your crowning glory, so keep it that way with lots of love and attention.
A healthy diet will be reflected in the condition of your hair – if it’s brittle and snaps easily it could mean you’re lacking in zinc, if it’s dry then you may not be eating enough foods supplying essential fatty acids. Eat oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon three times a week, eat more nuts and seeds, consider a fish oil or linseed oil supplement. Pamper your hair from the outside by massaging jojoba or olive oil into the scalp and wrapping in cling film or a towel for an hour before washing. A couple of drops of lavender or tea tree oil added to shampoo can help combat dandruff.
If you’re prone to spot breakouts or acne, again see if you can improve your diet. Drink more water – around two litres a day – and see if cutting down on milk, cheese and butter improves your skin as acne or eczema could indicate a sensitivity to dairy products. A good multivitamin and mineral will supply the nutrients needed – including vitamins A, C, E, B vitamins, betacarotene and zinc – for glowing skin, or consider one of the special formulations available.

Eyes down

Too many late nights can take their toll on your peepers, leaving dark circles and bags that look more like suitcases. Refresh them with witch hazel in a compress or a couple of slices of cold cucumber (one on each eye). Chamomile tea also helps – drink the tea first then pop the cooled tea bags over your closed eyes for a couple of minutes. Dark circles can also indicate food intolerance so a visit to a nutritionist can help determine if diet is at the root of your problem. Vitamins A, C and E as well as beta-carotene and zinc make for healthy retinas as well as helping combat damage from pollution and smoke, so a multi vitamin and mineral supplement is a good idea. Or, try one of the specially designed supplements geared to optical health. These contain carotenoids, herbs such as rutin and eyebright, bilberry extract and lutein.

If you suffer from hay fever then the homeopathic remedies nux vomica and allium cepa can help soothe watery eyes.

Pucker up

Do you dazzle with your smile or avoid showing your teeth at any cost? Teeth don’t always get the kind of pampering other parts of the body get – a quick brush twice a day is as far as it goes for many people. It shows in the statistics: according to the British Dental Health Foundation 19 out of 20 people suffer gum disease at some point in their lives.

Daily brushing and flossing is the minimum requirement for healthy teeth and gums, preferably brushing after each meal. Gum disease is a big problem and flossing can help remove the plaque that forms on the edges of the gums. If your teeth feel loose try aloe vera juice to help tighten them; if your gums bleed it could be you’re lacking in vitamin C. Vitamin D and calcium are crucial for healthy, strong teeth while munching on raw vegetables such as carrots improves blood flow to the gums.

Many toothpastes claim to improve the whiteness of teeth as well as freshening breath. Check out those containing natural ingredients – essential oils such as myrrh and tea tree to fight infection, fennel and peppermint for fresh breath, cloves to strengthen the gums, Echinacea for immune support and neem to help fight plaque.

Don’t forget your lips when you’re caring for your mouth. Indulge them with gorgeous balms that not only keep lips moisturised but also look and smell delicious. Many use beeswax or jojoba oil as a base with other ingredients including plant extracts and vitamin E to combat dryness, as well as offering brilliant colour coverage.

Ear ear

Blocked Eustachian tubes, which run from the back of the throat to the middle ear, are one cause of earache, another is an infection caused for example, by a cold or blocked sinuses. Pain can be worse at night because you’re lying flat, so try sitting up for a couple of minutes and swallowing or prop your head up while you sleep to enable the tubes to drain. Echinacea should help clear any infection by stimulating the immune system to fight it off, also, garlic oil applied topically reduces inflammation. Loss of hearing could be caused by ear wax – but don’t stick anything in your ear to remove the wax. Instead, soften it by using olive oil then rinsing with tepid water using a rubber bulb syringe. (Do not put drops or liquid in your ears if you suspect your eardrum may be perforated but seek medical help). Hopi ear candles help regulate pressure inside the ears.

Smell wonderful

Closely linked to your ears and throat, nose blockages can be caused by colds and flu as well as hay fever and allergies. Echinacea and pycogenol from pine bark strengthen the immune system while extra vitamin C or elderberry extract will help fight off snuffles and sniffles. To relieve itching and a runny nose caused by hayfever try a nasal spray containing aloe vera or try the homeopathic remedy euphrasia; for a burning nose try allium cepa. If you’re suffering from a cold, relieve nasal congestion with steam inhalations using essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree or lavender several times a day. Just add around four drops of your chosen oil to a bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel and breathe in the vapours.

If you suffer from nosebleeds try drinking nettle tea to strengthen blood vessels, also bioflavonoid supplements could help in the same way.


Rub a couple of drops of lavender essential oil into your temples to relieve pain, or try a blend with peppermint oil in a cold compress. For migraine, try feverfew tincture or one of the solid stick products containing essential oils and rub over your forehead and neck. Common migraine triggers are cheese, chocolate and caffeine so if you think food lies at the bottom or your migraine problem try excluding triggers from your diet. The homeopathic remedies Iris, Bryonia and Nux Vomica can all bring relief.

Healthy mind

Cut stress with relaxation exercises such as yoga or t’ai chi. Drop your daily dose of coffee or tea in favour of herbal teas with calming effects, such as chamomile or vervain. Healthy eating, including nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables, keeps levels of serotonin and tryptophan on an even keel and these will keep you feeling calm. Consider a supplement of B vitamins. For mild to moderate depression St John’s Wort has proven beneficial but consult your GP before taking it if you are also taking prescribed medication because of possible interaction. Regular exercise – such as running, dancing, swimming, cycling or even brisk walking:

– is a great way of making yourself feel good, banishing feelings of low self-esteem and getting you fitter into the bargain. Watching what you eat can also relieve depression and improve memory

– increase essential fatty acids in your diet from oily fish or fish oil or linseed oil supplements. Research into ginkgo biloba has shown it to be effective for memory loss, while in aromatherapy, rosemary is good for mental clarity and is used as a memory improver. ®

Lisa Burn © Natural Lifestyle April 2005 in connection with Natural Health Week