Cold Sore Treatment and Prevention

Herpes virus, HSV type 1, prevention, natural supplement,
Herpes Simplex Virus – Type 1

If you are lucky enough to have never experienced a cold sore, this article will probably be something that you will just pass by and most likely never give a second thought to. However if you are one of the 1 in 5 (UK stats) who does suffer from cold sores, chances are you will have already scrolled passed this sentence and are scanning the following text for new ways to help with these pesky little fellers!

Herpes Simplex Virus
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and the most common form is Type 1 which occurs on the face. Type 2 occurs on the genitals and is a lot less common, for more details on type 2 click here. This article will focus on HSV type 1; it will look at how it occurs, treatments and possible prevention.

You may believe that each time you get a cold sore it’s because you have ‘caught’ the virus, but with cold sores that’s just not the case. Like the chicken pox (shingles) and glandular fever you only catch the virus once. Studies suggest that it’s usually caught in early childhood and doesn’t normally manifest until puberty. Because it’s so contagious it can be passed on by something as simple as a kiss from a family member with a cold sore. Once the you catch the virus it lies dormant, hiding in nearby nerve sheaths (called ganglions) and stays there until triggered. It’s thought that 6 in 10 people carry the virus but yet only a quarter of them actually get symptoms. Some people don’t suffer any symptoms at all (and never develop anything- oh how I wish!) whereas others go on to develop the occasional blister, some more frequently than others.

Common Triggers
The list below shows the most common triggers and it’s worth looking at so you can work out what it is that’s likely to be causing your outbreaks. Recognising your triggers can help to prevent future blisters, by enabling you to mange your heath better (such as taking a supplement or eating better).

  • Tiredness or lack of sleep
  • Illness such as a cold or fever
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Hormones / mensturation
  • Strong Sunlight
  • Being run down
  • Poor immune system

The Cycle of a Cold Sore
When you break out in a cold sore you will usually experience a warning sign, such as a tingling or burning sensation or redness where the blister will eventually appear. They usually appear on the lip or around the mouth however 10% of people will develop them on the cheeks, chin or nose. Once it breaks out you will be left with a fluid filled blister; the severity depends from person to person and can last anything between 7-14 days. The blister is most contagious once it ruptures (around day 4) and will be sensitive to touch. Fluids will discharged from Inflamed tissues and blood vessels. In severe cases you may feel pain in the lymph glands under the jaw. Soon after this the blister will start to scab, forming a crust. This is blood serum containing proteins. Laughing, smiling and eating can cause the scab to split (depending on where it is) and make healing time last a little longer. The scab will eventually get smaller as the skin below begins to heal. Once the scab has gone you may have a red patch for a few days. As cold sores are so contagious a good hygiene routine is key to preventing it getting worse.

Hygiene and Care
It’s important to take care of a cold sore once it develops otherwise it can become infected or spread, needing treatment from a doctor. Herpes UK states that cold sore cannot be caught by sharing a glass or cutlery, however other medical sites suggest that it’s better not to share theses sorts of things, including face cloths and towels. The type of treatment you choose will depend on how bad your cold sore is. You may suffer very little with barely any pain, leaving it to heal on its own. Alternatively you may find you feel unwell, have cold like symptoms and suffer great pain. The cold like symptoms are not a cause of the HSV itself, but rather what causes the virus to be triggered. Which ever treatment you choose always remember to wash your hand before and after touching your cold sore.

Below are a number of tips and methods that can help treat/ heal and soothe a cold sore. It’s difficult to say which ones are best as it depends on your triggers and what your body responds to. What may work for one person may do nothing for another. (My husband swears that he can ‘will’ his away with the power of mental magic!!!).

Petroleum Jelly – research suggests that covering the blister with a little petroleum jelly can help to protect it from secondary infection from bacteria.

Sun Block – some people develop cold sores from bright sunlight; The summer months/using a sun bed or even going on holiday can cause an outbreak. If this is the case, use a SFP cream or block, with a minimal of protection 15. Be sure not to share sun block sticks / lipsticks.

Pain Killer – if you develop a cold or fever take paracetamol or a cold/ flu remedy for a few days (follow the instructions on the packet).

Ibuprofen – some people suffer with painful lymph glands and may get a sore swollen mouth, usually during the time the blister becomes an lesion. Taking ibuprofen can help reduce the swelling and the pain in the glands.

Creams, Lotions and Potions – there are a number of antiviral creams available over the counter for treating cold sores that contain Aciclovir (brand name Zovirax) or Penciclovir (brand name Brvectavir). They are most effective if applied as soon as you feel the tingle/ burning sensation before any blister has appeared. If applied after this time they are not as effective and won’t kill the virus but will stop it from multiplying.

Anti Viral Tablets – Aciclovir and Penciclovir are both available on prescription. You would need to see your doctor as they are usually only prescribed for people who suffer baldy with reoccurring or sever cold sores.

Cold Sore Patches – contains hydrocolloid gel which is used for treating skin wounds.

Topical Anaesthetics – Sometimes you may also suffer from ulcers inside the mouth. Treatments such as Rinstead, Anbesol and teething gels can help to numb the pain.

My top tips – (from experience)
I have suffered from HSV Type 1 since I was a child, then 4 years ago I developed Myalgic Encephalopathy, which can have an impact on the immune system. For a long time, while I struggled to manage my health I would develop cold sore after cold sore, some times getting one on either side of my lip at the same time! I now take lysine (see below) and rarely get them. However when I am unfortunate enough to get one I follow the tips below.

Try using a cotton bud to apply creams so that you never actually touch the blister. This can be helpful as the cotton bud can be thrown away and it’s better to dab than rub as the skin can be very sensitive

When you first feel the tingle, ice can be applied to help soothe the burning sensation you may get. Wrap a ice cube in a food bag and hold on the lip until it feels numb. Be careful with this method as you don’t want to be rubbing the ice around the lip, so not to spread it.

If possible – don’t stress! If you have a date, big day or something special, stressing about it will make it worse! If it’s out, it’s out and there’s NOTHING you can do about it. If you feel the need to cover it with make up do so carefully and using cotton buds. If using a lipstick or Chapstick do not rub direct onto the lip. Use cotton buds or a clean finger (then wash after).

Once the blister bursts and you get a scab form, try to keep it dry. It will heal quicker as the scab dries out, however if you laugh or smile a lot like I do, you may find it useful to apply a little petroleum jelly round the outside of the scab to prevent it from splitting when you move your lips.

There are literally hundreds of suggestions on the internet from fellow sufferers for ‘treating’ cold sores however they usually involve things such as applying aftershave or nail vanish remover! (Do NOT try at home). They are not proven and applying random liquids and solutions not intended for medical treatment could aggravate the blister and make it worse.

Natural Prevention
There is another way that can help cold sores and that is to prevent them from occurring. It may sound lame and not so much of a ‘cure’ but there has been a lot of of scientific studies carries out regarding dietary impact on cold sores and research has found that lysine and arginine, two amino acids, play a huge part in the development of cold sores.

What are Amino Acids?
Often described as ‘building blocks’ amino acids are chemicals that make up protein in the body. There are over 50 different kinds, with 20 of these defined as essential. Next to water, protein makes up the greatest proportion of body weight there’re its crucial to ensure a balanced diet as it could cause a deficiency of amino acids. Only 11 types of amino acids as synthetically made by the body, the rest have to come from your diet as the body cannot store them. If your body becomes in deficient it will draw on it’s own tissue proteins causing it to beak down its structure including healthy tissue. Each amino acid has a different function but to give an overall idea, they carry out functions such as helping the body to regulate water balance, assist in the exchange of nutrients between intracellular fluids and the tissues, blood and lymph and help to maintain an internal ph level. L- Lysine (usually called lysine) is defined as an essential amino acid and L- Arginine is classed as a conditional amino acid, as it’s essential more so in children than adults.

Lysine is necessary for proper growth. It assists in absorbing calcium, aids the formation of collagen, bones, connective tissue/ cartilage and skin tendons. It also helps in preventing infections, the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol.

L-Arginine, know as Arginine, helps in the production of spermatozoa in men. It helps with growth hormones and strengthens the immune system. It aids in ailments such as arthritis, has stress busting properties and improves metabolism. In the body, this amino acids changed into nitric oxide (NO) and is a powerful transmitter that helps the blood vessels to relax and improves circulation

So as you can see, both of these amino acids are important for the body. The problem however is that when your body develops an ailment such as a cold sore these amino acids compete against each other for absorption in the intestine therefore the right balance/ ratio of lysine to Arginine is important. During a cold sore Lysine levels needs to be higher and Arginine should be decreased, other wise the lysine will be less efficient at reducing the virus.

Increase Lysine
The best way to manage your arginine and lysine levels are through your diet. By knowing which foods to eat you will be able to help your body combat the onset of a cold sore. Research suggests that if you start taking a supplement after a cold sore has erupted it’s not effective. You can opt to take a supplement which you can buy from most health shops, but you should first try increasing lysine naturally by varying your diet and being conscious of your diet during times you that you feel may trigger a sore eg such as stressful/ busy periods or during the winter. However if you suffer from a health condition or a poor immune system, a supplement maybe what you need to boost your system. The journal Dermatologica found that patients who took a L-lysine supplement daily for six months experienced significant reductions in the frequency, severity and duration of cold sore outbreaks compared to patients who took a placebo.

Foods high in lysine

  • Most vegetables and fruits particularly beets, avocados, mangos, tomatoes, apples,
  • apricots, pears, figs and papaya
  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Fish, particularly sardines and cod
  • Chicken, beef and lamb
  • Sprouts

Foods high in arginine (Foods to decrease/limit)

  • Chocolate
  • Nuts, including peanut butter
  • Protein shakes and drinks that contain Arginine
  • Oats, including porridge
  • Muscle building formulas and multivitamins that contain Arginine

For a more detailed list of foods containing these amino acids take a look here where you can find a more detailed list of Lysine and Arginine foods or here at the traditional oven website

More Information
Another type of natural prevention that is worth mentioning is taking supplements for a weak immune system (such as those who have no particular health condition, but suffer with frequent illnesses such as colds and infections) and those who get stressed easy. We all know that it’s important to relax and unwind, which can help prevent stress but realistically there are periods during our lifetime when things are more stressful than others such as as new job, new/ difficult relationship / family crisis etc. Whatever the circumstances, some peoples body’s are weaker at dealing with these stresses and it can cause them to be more susceptible to viruses or breaking out in cold sores. If you can identify stress or a weak immune system as a trigger, then you can take something to help strengthen the body. The best way to chose a supplement is to look at what each of them is for and which you feel would suit you best. If buying from a health shop (such a holland and Barrett who have trained staff) you can be advised on the most suitable one for you and check for any interventions with any other supplements/ medication you may be taking. (If you take medication ALWAYS check with your doctor first)

So, to give a brief idea of what’s out there, I have listed three different supplements with a short description. There is so much information about them and there have been so many studies that I would probably have to do a whole separate post about them! So, rather than go on and on I have supplied a few links, words highlighted in green will open a separate page where you can find out more details.

Originally used by the native Americans this herb has became popular (by settlers in the USA) from as far back as the 1800’s. echinacea is commonly used to treat and prevent colds and flu although there are many other uses. Research by scientists at the university of Connecticut school of pharmacy carried out over a dozen studies. They found that the risks of catching a cold decreased by a massive 58%, they also found that when people did catch a cold it lasted a mere 1.4 days.

The term adaptogen is used to describe a remedy found in traditional Chinese, Tibetian, Ayurvedic and Native American medicne. It was originally termed by scientist Dr Nikolai Lazarev who was granted by the military to find a way to enhance the productivity and performance of soldiers without dangerous stimulants.

The various ingredients are used to improve the adrenal system, which is the body’s system that with the hormonal response to stress. These ingredients help to body to ‘adapt’ to stress, another reason why they are thought to be named adaptogens.

Adaptogens can be used on their own but are usually a combination of herbs mixed together. They help the body to deal with unwanted stressors, whether physical emotional, chemical or biological. For example they can be used to treat anxiety, fatigue, trauma and even have been used with cancer patients.

One of the most common adaptogens that you are likely to have heard of is Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). Panax ginseng is an energy tonic to helps to regulate the human energy system. It stimulates and regulates the central nervous system and the endocrine system. It’s usually used to help with energy levels, fighting fatigue and coping with stress but if taking anti depressants or blood medication check with your doctor ad hey can have server interactions

This is a potent immune system tonic used for over thousands of years and is believe by Asian people to strengthen muscles and improve metabolic functions. It is said to clean the blood and spleen and is common in china. It enhances the function of the skin, helping eliminate toxins. For example, it’s has been used to help cold sores as it helps the skin to heal quicker and more efficiently.

Research by M.D Aderson, at the research centre at the university of Houston (the worlds largest cancer research institution) demonstrated clearly that astragalus improves the immune response in humans when he used it on patties undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer. The research ground that patients who took it whilst having treatment recovered faster at a higher rate and with fewer side effects.

Other natural suggestions can be found here.

Civitelli R, Villareal DT, Agnusdei D, Nardi P, Avioli LV, Gennari C. “Dietary L-lysine and calcium metabolism in humans.” Nutrition. 1992 Nov-Dec;8(6):400-5.

Emmert, DH (2000 Mar 15). “Treatment of common cutaneous herpes simplex virus infections.”. American family physician 61 (6): 1697–706, 1708. PMID 10750877.

Harmenberg, J.; Öberg, B.; Spruance, S. (2010). “Prevention of Ulcerative Lesions by Episodic Treatment of Recurrent Herpes Labialis: A Literature Review”. Acta Dermato Venereologica 90 (2): 122–130. doi:10.2340/00015555-0806. PMID 20169294.

Useful Websites




Pumpkin Soup

Vegetarian soup, vegetable soup, spicy, pumpkin,
Pumpkin Soup

Now that the weather has changed and the temperature dropped I decided to get into the autumn spirit and cook up some seasonal veg. I’ve never made a soup and I thought that it was about time that I did, especially considering that the last few weeks I’ve slurrped a bowl of soup at lunchtimes (accompanying my sandwich) to help warm me up.

I thought that I would start with something cheap and easy so what better to start than a pumpkin! To begin with I googled pumpkin soup to see what the main ingredients were (other than the pumpkin of course!) and made my shopping list. It wasn’t until a few days later when I decided to actually make it that my plans changed a little. I could say that it’s because I threw caution into the wind and decided to create my own recipe but the true is, I couldn’t find the recipe I had looked at online- Doh! Because i could find another recipe that i really liked I decided to make my own using a combination of the easiest ones I saw.

So, how did it turn out? Delicious!! Even if I say so myself. It was spicy, filling and went great with a sandwich. However, I think I got a little carried away because I managed to get a fair few bowls out of it! We had approximately 8-10 servings so if your making a batch you may want to halve the ingredients if your not planning to eat it all week! Alternatively you can freeze half, but you would need to use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock (suggestions online have said that chicken stock doesn’t freeze well).

900g Pumpkin
2 Sweet potatoes
2 Small onions (white)
2-3 Cloves do garlic
1/2 Red chilli
140ml (small pot) Double cream
1 Stock cube (Chicken or vegetable)
1 tsp Garamasala
1 tsp All spice
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Jerk seasoning
1/2 tsp Black pepper
Pinch of salt

You may want to play about with the ingredients and adapt it according to your taste buds. Many recipes online add other vegetables as well as pumpkin to add to the flavour. The most common vegetables were carrots, sweet potato, suede and butternut squash (and/ instead of pumpkin).

To make the soup creamy I added a small carton of double cream but again, some of the recipes I had seen used milk, coconut milk, creme fresh, or yogurt. I don’t know how much each of these will alter the taste, but I can imagine it will be a lighter option and less calories.

I liquidised my soup (I had to do this in two batches as I made so much!) but some recipes suggested just straining the soup through a strainer/sieve. It depends on what kind of consistency you want your soup to be.

If freezing, use a vegetable stock as it’s not advisable to freeze chicken stock. Also remember that you if you tweak any of the other ingredients, check if they are ok to freeze if you plan to do so.


  1. Peel the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, onion and garlic. Chop the onion, chilli and garlic and put aside. Cut the pumpkin/ sweet potato into small squares and place on an oiled baking tray. Place in the oven at 200’c for 20-25 minutes or until soft (a knife should just slide through)
  2. In a frying pan or large saucepan heat the onions on low until soft but don’t allow them to brown. When soft, add the butternut squash, pumpkin, chilli and garlic. Add the stock cube (1/2 pint of water) and the seasoning, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and carefully pour into a liquidiser ( you may have to do this in two batches)
  4. Once liquidised, pour into a fresh saucepan and add the cream. Heat for a further 5 minutes then serve, ideally with a beard roll
  5. If freezing, ensure the soup has cooled down completely before transferring to a suitable container.

Dry Body Brushing

Dry body brushing, lymphatic drainage, cellulite
Dry Body Brushing

Dry body brushing, (if you haven’t heard of it), is simply exactly what it says on the tin – it’s dry brushing (your body) with a brush. You only have to type it into a search engine to see that it’s posted all over the internet. It’s often talked about in fashion magazines, usually when featuring ways to look good for summer. However it’s not a new thing, it’s been around for years and has always been a hot topic for debate. Articles vary between suggesting that it’s a load of old rubbish to suggesting that doing this one thing will completely flush away all your toxins and rid your body of cellulite! So does it work? Well, In order to answer that question, you need to understand a little bit about the physiology of the body. Here Im going to explain a little about what cellulite is, the skins function in all of this and the body’s toxic drainage process. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be like a school science class where you lose the will to live. I’m going to keep it as simple as possible and hopefully it should be enough to help you understand how dry brushing can help in your daily routine and if its worth you giving it a try. I will also make clear that I am not a medical professional and the following pieces of information is derived from my own research into the subject.

What is Cellulite?
Cellulite is medically known as adiposis edematosa, dermopanniculosis deformans, status protrusus cutis or gynoid lipodystrophy (I hope you were able to pronounce those!) (Wikipedia) It’s described as the orange peel appearance on skin and usually occurs in the thighs and bottom area but can also occur on the stomach, back, arms and calves. It’s said to affect 85% of pubertal women but is less common in men (Avram, 2004) To understand how cellulite occurs, you need to have a basic understanding of the connective tissue structure (what skin is made up of).

Anatomy of the Skin
The skin is made up of a number of layers: the outer layer (called the epidermis), the layer below this, (which is called the dermis) and the layer below, which is where the sweat glands, hair, blood vessels, and nerve receptors are; below this are two more layers of subcutaneous (meaning beneath the skin) layers of fat. The first section of this fat protrudes into the dermis causing an uneven distribution of fat which is what the lumpy appearance is under the skin. In women, this connective tissue structure has a different make up to men. It’s described as a chamber like structure (often said to be honeycomb like) making it easier for fat to protrude and become unevenly distributed. In men the structure is said to be criss crossed making it more likely for fat to distribute evenly; the epidermis and dermis layers of skin are also a lot thicker. As woman are the reproductive ones of our species, they tend to have a higher fat level than men (the female body stores fat to prepare for pregnancy) so cellulite is more likely to occur and as they store most their fat in their thighs and bottom, this is where it tends to be (Hayward, 2006)

What Causes Fat to Bulge into the Dermis?
There have been a number of factors studied that contribute to the appearance of cellulite, such as links to weight (Gallo Alvaro, 2009), circulation, toxins and the health of the skin. Research found that the connective tissue, which is made up mostly of collagen, allows fat to bulge more when it has become weakened. There is a link to clothing and circulation, where research found that tight underwear/ clothes worn on the bottom half of the body can hinder circulation, causing cellulite. Smoking is also found to have an affect (Finks, 2006) as well as a slow lymphatic system. A study by Sadick and Margo (2007) found that cellulite improved when a person lost weight. Rawlings went on to find that this was because fat cells retract slightly from the dermis in weight loss. So in short, cellulite can’t be removed no matter what you do, it’s part of the body just like fat and muscle. It suggests that if these factors were changed the appearance of cellulite may lessen. Take the Lymphatic drainage system for example, this is a system in the body that helps to expel toxins, if a person suffered from a condition that caused it to slow down, the appearance of cellulite could worsen, however if the person made an effort to help stimulate this system and took steps to avoid toxins it could prevent cellulite from getting worse.

The Lymphatic System
Our body has many amazing processes and systems that are working every day to ensure our bodies function properly. Most of the time we don’t even realise they are working away. One of the important features of our body is the lymphatic system. It was originally discovered around the 1600’s but it was dismissed as a simple drainage system. It’s only been within the last 20 years that it was discovered to be a complex system. Made up of vessels (small tubes) nodes (often referred to as glands) and lymphatic fluid, it is essential for fluid regulation and the elimination of toxins and waste. Lymphatic fluid forms when excess fluid (including proteins and water) surrounding the body tissue drain into the lymph vessels. These vessels (fine tubes) then carry the fluid all round the organs, filtering through little nodes all around the body (except in the central nervous system) then returns it into the blood stream.

There are approximately 600-700 lymph nodes in the body and the amount varies from person to person. Their size also varies from the size of a pin head to the size of a bean. They contain white blood cells called lymphocytes that filter out harmful organisms such as damaged cells, diseases, bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. When the nodes struggle to immediately kill bacteria, viruses and diseases, they become swollen and painful. The most common example of this is if you have ever been to the doctors with a sore throat or cold. You will find the doctor will feel your throat to see if your ‘glands’ are up. The thoracic duct and right thoracic duct are the two major lymphatic vessels. The thoracic duct is located near the lower part of the spine and collects lymph from the pelvis, abdomen, and lower chest. It runs up the the chest and empties into the blood through a large vein near the the left side of the neck. The right thoracic duct collects for the right side of the neck, chest and arm and empties into a large vein in the right side of the neck. It’s important for the lymph to collect excess fluids and return it back into the blood stream, otherwise excess fluid would build up in the body tissues and swell.

The lymphatic system doesn’t process this all on its own, it has a number of organs that work alongside it including the spleen, thymus, tonsils and adenoids. However rather than go into excess detail I’m not going to discuss the other processes. However you can find out more about them here. Once the lymphatic process has taken place the filtered toxins move on to other organs such as the liver, kidneys bladder and bowels, which process them further and expel them from the body. Unlike blood circulation, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a main organ that functions to move it around the body (like the blood has the heart). However research has found that the thoracic duct acts as a ‘pumping mechanism’ that is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system (Kinmonth, 1959/ 1960/1982), this has been said to rely partly on movement and gravity such as a persons breathing and contractions of the skeletal muscles.

If a lymphatic system becomes slow, it can cause a build up of toxins in the nodes causing aches and pains, bloating and fatigue. The lymphatic system relies on movement to keep it pumping round, but this doesn’t mean you have to start doing aerobics everyday. A simple brisk walk, massage and stimulation of the skin and breathing techniques can help.

The Facts
Dry body brushing CAN have a positive effect on the body, FACT. The stimulation of the bristles on the skin, are similar to that of a massage. Research has proven that massage and stimulation can be an effective way to maintain a healthy body.

The Physiological Effects of Brushing :-

  • It helps the cardiovascular system by assisting the venous flow of blood back to the heart
  • It produces enhanced blood flow, delivering fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissues
  • It improves waste removal, toxins and carbon dioxide are hastened via the venous system
  • Helps to prevent oedema (excess fluid in the tissues) by increasing lymphatic drainage
  • Increases white blood cells and strengthens immune system if done regularly
  • Improves circulation to the skin, increases nutrition to the cells and encourages cell regeneration
  • Increases production of sweat from the sweat glands
  • Improves elasticity in the skin
  • Stimulates nerve endings
  • Helps remove dry skin cells which prevents blocked pores
  • Prevents a sluggish lymphatic system
  • Helps with bloating, as it stimulates the lymphatic system, also aids digestion and kidney function

Body brushing can be good for you, however, it needs to be pointed out that dry brushing alone won’t suddenly sweep away all your cellulite. In order for it to be most effective, you need to combine it with a number of healthy habits. Combined with eating healthily and taking a little exercise, these habits will work together to reduce fat and improve circulation thus improving lymphatic drainage and appearance of cellulite. So if you’re serious about your body, whether you want to lose weight, have a health condition that you want to take control of or just want to make a few healthier changes then dry body brushing is a great addition to your routine. If you’re looking for an easy cellulite cure then don’t bother because there’s no such thing!

Dry Brushing Notes
Dry brushing is suggested to be more effective when done everyday (and more so if done twice a day).

It’s best done before a shower because it’s more effective on dry skin as wet skin tends to stretch. Also, as brushing stimulates the drainage of toxins, showering afterwards can help remove dead skin cells and wash waste (such as sweat)

Brushing should be done with a natural fibre brush as synthetic brushes are shown to contain harmful toxins from the chemicals used that make up the bristles Buy a brush with a long removable handle.

It’s easier to use a brush with no handle when brushing the arms and legs but for the back and shoulders you will probably need a long handle.

Brushing should take 5-10 minutes, but the longer you take, the better the results

Don’t brush too hard! Start gently and the longer you keep up the routine you will find you can apply a little more pressure if you wish (but you don’t have to!)

Do not brush over skin that is sore, broken or highly sensitive.

Your skin will turn slightly pink – this is normal Brush in long and fluid strokes towards the heart (your stomach is an exception see number 3) Brush each section a number of times, if it helps, listen to some music or count to (for example) 30 before moving on to the next limb

Try it for 30 days – research shows that if you can do something for 30 days in a row you are likely to keep it up Find a time to do it that you will be able to keep to. If you can’t do it in the morning (before work) then do it as part of your winding down routine at night.

Remember to clean your brush regularly as it will gather dry skin and dirt!

1.Begin by brushing from the right foot, starting from the sole then moving over the top. Move onto the ankles and up towards the lower part of the leg. Sweep over the knee and up the thigh in long strokes towards the bottom. When you reach the bottom move on to the other leg.
2. Once you have reached the bottom on both sides brush over the bottom and up the back (in the direction of your neck) to where your bra strap would be (you may find it easier to have a brush with a long – removable- handle). For men, brush up your back to where your ribs end
3. Brush the right arm from the palm up to the shoulder then again on your left.
4. Now brush the stomach, this time instead of long sweeping strokes, brush in a clockwise circular motion (in flow with the digestive system)
5. Brush down from the neck and over the breasts taking care not to brush too hard.
6. Brush down the back from the shoulders to where your bra strap falls Finish with a shower.

For an ultimate boost of the immune system alternate the temperature of the shower from hot to cold (as cold as you can possibly go) as this boosts the production of white blood cells.

Avram, M. 2004. Cellulite: A review of its physiology and treatment. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 6, 181–85.

Fink, J.S., et al. 2006. Use of intense pulsed light and a retinyl-based cream as a potential treatment for cellulite: A pilot study.
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 5, 254–62.

Gallo Alvaro C, et al. 2009 Women with weight loss and abnormal mesenteric lymph nodes. Revista Clinica Española. 209:245-246.

Heyward, V.H. 2006. Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription (5th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Kinmonth JB. 1959. Manometry of Human Thoracic Duct. Journal of Physiology 177:41

Kinmonth JB. 1960. Some aspects of cardiovascular surgery journal of the. Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh. 5: 278-297

Kinmonth JB. 1982. The Lymphatics, 2nd Edition. Edward Armold. Pp 80.

Rawlings, A.V. 2006. Cellulite and its treatment. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 28, 175–90.

Sadick, N., & Magro, C. 2007. A study evaluating the safety and efficacy of the VelaSmooth™ system in the treatment of cellulite. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 9, 15–20.



Smashed Spuds

Potato, roasted, spicy, seasoned
Smashed Spuds


This recipe is one of my husbands ultimate favourites (although he says that about a few recipes I cook!) Its so easy to make and is a great accompaniment to most dishes. I cannot take any credit for this as I haven’t added in any new ingredients (just tweaked it a little). I came across it in the Essentials magazine and it was titled ‘Smashed Summer Spuds’. The recipe calls for jersey or new potatoes but you can use normal roasting potatoes like you would to make roasters.

1kg jersey royal or new potatoes
3 tbsp olive/cooking oil
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks of rosemary
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp chilli flakes

Oven 220’C or gas mark 7

If you don’t have any jersey royals or new potatoes use roasting potatoes, peel and cut into small pieces the same size as jersey royals. This will effectively make them rotated potatoes but with the spices and garlic added it should make a nice change to normal roasties.

If you don’t like spicy food don’t be put off using the chilli flakes, just be sure to only add a little sprinkle.

You may want to try sprinkling with small pieces of bacon or dried onion bits. You would need to cook the bacon and sprinkle over just before serving as the high oven temperature will cause the bacon to cook hard. Again, sprinkle onion bits just before serving.

Cooking times can vary and it also depends on how crunchy you like your potatoes. The original recipe cooks for 20-30 minutes however I usually cook mine for 35-40 minutes. I find it helps to have the tray high up in the oven in the last 10 minutes in order to brown the potatoes.

For a more cheeky taste you can use goose fat instead of cooking oil although this will add a few calories!

1. Heat oven 220′ or gas mark 7. In a pan cover the potatoes with boiled water and cook for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
2. In a baking tray add oil, crushed garlic, celery salt, chilli flakes and chopped rosemary. When the potatoes are ready, drain and tip into the tray.
3. Using a spoon, mix the ingredients so that each potato is covered. Then using a fork gently tap and press on the potatoes ‘smashing’ and crushing them.
4. Place the tray in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes (see notes for cooking times). In the last 10 minutes if you want them crispier move the tray higher up (but ensure to keep checking them!)


Stuffed Butternut Squash

Butternut squash
Stuffed Butternut Squash Recipe

With summer feeling like a dream long ago, we are left with cold nights and a great excuse to get this seasons vegetables cooked up into a hearty warm dish. What could be more perfect than a delicious tasty meal that’s really simple to make.

I first discovered stuffed butternut squash last year (2012) when I received my monthly Zest magazine. I was so completely taken with it, that butternut squash has become a staple ingredient in my kitchen and is now often added to most new recipes I discover.

The original recipe ‘Aromatic Stuffed Butternut Squash’ can be found here on the Zest magazine website. My version has been spiced up and given a few added extras. My serving can feed up to 4 people when you quarter the squash (cut up after cooking) and serve extra filling on the side. Alternatively you can stick to 2 portions and save the extra filling for the next day. It’s probably easier to make this dish and work out the servings according to whether you want more squash or more filling and whether you’re adding a serving of vegetables/ salad.

Butternut squash
Bacon cut into small squares (4 slices, fat trimmed off)
Puy Lentils (see notes)
1 Red onion
2 Garlic cloves
1 Courgette
1/4 Red chilli
Oxo cube (beef)
Tilda rice coconut and lime
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
Pinch Black pepper
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp Caribbean seasoning
1/2 tsp All purpose seasoning

Heat oven to 190’C

Cutting a squash can be difficult so please be careful. I usually place it on a damp tea towel and cut through the neck (thinnest part) slowly moving on to the ‘bulb’. I use a spoon to help scoop out the middle.

You can use packet lentils and rice, Tilda do a great selection of rices that have a delicious flavour to them but you can use plain brown or white rice. Merchant Gourmet Puy lentils are great packet lentils, they are so much easier than preparing lentils from scratch.

This dish can be made with or without bacon. The courgette and tinned tomatoes are also optional. If you like mushrooms they would be great added to this dish (I don’t like them, so don’t add them)

1. Cut the squash in half and de-seed. You may want to scoop out a bit of the squash to make room for the filling if there is only a small space once you have removed the seeds. Rub a little oil all over the squash and place on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes
2. If you are using raw rice/ lentils you will need to cook them according to packet instructions. (If you are using ready made lentils and rice you can use these straight from the packet but you won’t need them at this stage).
3. Chop the courgette, onion, garlic and chilli into small squares.
4. Heat a frying pan with a little oil. If using bacon, cook for 2-3 minutes before adding in the onion, garlic, chilli, courgette and tinned tomatoes. When the onions have softened, add lentils, rice and 1/2 pint of water.
5. Crumble a stock cube over the mix, add spices and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
6. When the squash has cooked, remove it from the oven. Carefully fill the scooped out section with the filling. Any filling leftover can be kept warm and served with the stuffed squash or cooled and kept in the fridge for another day.
7. Place the stuffed squash in the oven for a further 25 minutes or until tender.
8. When cooked, serve with any left over filling, salad or on its own.

This dish is very filling! You may feel it looks very little on its own but lentils, rice and squash are all filing ingredients.


Curried Goat

Curried GoatGolden coloured leaves and cool chilly mornings mean one thing! It’s officially autumn! As the days are get shorter and the nights darker, what better way to warm you up than a delicious spicy curry.

Research has shown that a good curry can be beneficial to your health and even help prevent you from getting a cold[1] The reason for this is down to the types of ingredients used. Garlic is said to have cardiovascular, anti-microbia [2] and antibiotic properties [3]. Spices have a number of health benefits, such as cinnamon (found in this recipe in the jerk seasoning) can help a sore throat [4]. These are common everyday ingredients that are top choice in many spicy dishes.

This recipe was given to me by a family friend and is a traditional Caribbean recipe made using goat. If you have never tried goat I would suggest giving it a go as it really is a delicious dish. However it can also be substituted with lamb.

750g Goat (see notes)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
2 bell peppers (1red/1 green) chopped into very small squares
1tsp Lamb seasoning
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Curry powder
1/2 tsp Garamasala
1/2 tsp Jerk seasoning
Few shakes of hot pepper sauce
Ginger – small chunk – size of an ice cube
1/2 Scotch bonnet (VERY hot pepper)
1 Tin tomatoes
Rice (see notes)
Oxo cube or stock pot or 1-2 cups of bone broth

To begin, you need to decide how many people you are cooking for to gauge how much meat and rice* you need. For 4 people you would use approx 750g of goat (on the bone), rice should be judged according to the listed cooking instructions.

Scotch bonnet is a very hot pepper and if you’re not good with spicy food you may want to miss this ingredient out. However if you would like to try it, try adding just a small amount (eg 1/4 of a whole scotch bonnet). I will also point out that it’s ideal to wear gloves when preparing the pepper as it can be a nightmare if you handle it then rub your eyes!!!!

When seasoning the meat it can be done the day or night before cooking. The longer the meat is seasoned, the better it will taste. When cooking the meat, keep adding small amounts of water as it will keep the meat moist but will reduce down and make a thick delicious sauce.

*This recipe was created before I went paleo, but it can easily be tweaked to make it paleo friendly. If you do eat rice (some paleo people do) then you can serve it with some (add in some diced onion and some fresh chilli to snazz it up). For an alternative you can make cauliflower rice (see my recipe for cauli rice), again add in some diced onion and chilli to give it some extra flavour.

As noted above you can use either a stock pot or a cup of bone broth instead of a stock cube. This recipe has been made a number of times since I started being paleo and it always varies – sometimes it uses as much as 2 cups of broth, whereas other times just one cup so the best way is to judge it by taste. If you think it needs more, add some in.

Meat if you don’t have any goat or can’t find any , it can be made with some lamb or mutton, ideally use a meat with some bone as it helps add flavour. I recently made this dish using 400g of diced (grass fed) lamb and 800g of ‘scrap end’ which is the neck of mutton/ goat and it turned out beautifully!

This recipe can also be made in a slow cooker! All you need to do is add in all the ingredients (meat, onion, seasoning, stock, peppers, tomatoes) and cook on low for about 8 hours (ideal for days you are out the house all day). You will need to scoop/ drain off any oil that rises to the top before serving.

1. Wash the meat (cold water with lemon or vinegar) then drain. Place in a bowl and add the spices. Rub them into the meat and cover. Place in the fridge for as long as possible for the seasoning to sink in.

2. Cut the onion (1 large per 4 people) into chunks, crush the garlic, cut up the scotch bonnet and the ginger. Add this to the meat.

3. Heat a large pan (or a Dutch pot[5] if you have one (with little or no oil)) And add the meat/ onion mix. Any seasoning left in the bowl, add a little water to collect it and add to the pan.

4. Brown the meat slowly (10 min approx), when the pan gets dry add water and keep adding, bit by bit. This will help to make a sauce.

5. Once the meat is cooked turn down the heat, add the bell peppers, a pint of water, and cook slowly on a low heat. Ensure you keep checking the meat, if needed, add more water (a bit at a time), this will help keep the meat from drying out. Cook for as long as possible (1-2 hours). The longer it cooks for the better it will taste, ideally the meat should be falling off the bone before you even think about serving it up!

6. After at LEAST 2 hours, skim off any oil that has risen to the top then add the tinned tomatoes. Continue to cook on low.

7. Cook rice according to packet details.

8. Just before the rice is cooked (5 mins before) add a stock cube to the the meat. Then when the rice is ready drain the rice and serve with the meat on top.

Please be careful as the bones will have separated from the meat!!!

[1] Curry linked to cold cure

[2] Spices to help the immune system A study conducted by Dr. Ellen Tattelman, an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York.

[3] “Garlic: A natural antibiotic”. ACM Modern Drug Discovery April 2002 Vol. 5, No. 4, p 12. 2002-04-01. Retrieved 2010-08-23.

[4] Health benefits of cinnamon

[5] What is a Dutch pot? Sometimes called a Dutchie, It is any large, heavy pot with a snug fitting lid used for stovetop cooking. Traditionally used in Caribbean cooking, these hard-working heavy pots are perfect for slow-simmered soups and braises.


Beauty Sample Boxes


Beauty Samples, samples, make up, cosmetics

We all like to smell fresh and look good but when someone asks you what beauty products you use, what is it that pops into your head? what items do you think of? Luxury body wash? Your favourite lipstick? Either of these would be right, because beauty products around today range from anything that we use to bath or shower with to the tools we use to apply our make up.

Many of us will have a collection of ‘favourites’ the items that we use that suit our skin/ hair / lifestyle and then there will be the other items that we tend to change now and again ( usually as fashion/ styles change). So when you decide to try a new product how do you choose which one to buy? With so many different brands on the market with a range of price tags, it can be difficult to decide on which items are best. Do you buy according to price, assuming that a cheaper item might not work as well or do you buy the most expensive because you think it’s guaranteed to work – justifying the price tag? Well there’s a new way to shop for beauty products that’s becoming more and more popular that helps you overlook the price tag and focus on how much you like the item.

Beauty Samples
What would you say if I told you that you could sample a wide range of quality beauty products at a fraction of the price? Too good to be true I hear you say?… Well, you can! The new trend for beauty products shopping, is through specialist websites where you can purchase beauty products for as little as £2.50 an item! It is true, but (and yes, there is a but) there is a bit of a catch. Now, don’t stop reading here, because the catch isn’t very big and the benefits heavily outweigh them.

So, what are these catches – if you’re anything like me you will want to know up front and right away what they are so that you can start to weigh up your options.

The ‘Catches’

  • You usually have to ‘subscribe’. This is where you create an account and agree to make a monthly payment and receive a ‘box’ each month. BUT do not fear – all of the sites that follow this process allow you to cancel the ‘subscription’ after you purchase your first box so you’re not tied into any kind of lengthy contract.
  • You don’t always get to choose the items you want. These beauty sites work by sending you out a goodie box each month filled with a range of beauty items. Once you’ve made your first payment you will receive a little box filled with approximately 5 items, some may be full sized and others may be a sample size. Each site has a slightly different way of selecting the items that get sent to you. Although it can feel a bit like a lucky dip, the sites do tend to show previous month selections so you get an idea of the types of products they stock.

Subscriptions are on average £10 plus P&P (don’t worry, I will give a full break down of costs below), meaning it works out on average that each item costs as little as £2.50.

When you consider that you don’t actually have to stick to a subscription the concept is a really good one. It allows you to try some of the more expensive brands without having to fork out for it. That way if you try an item and love it you know that it’s well worth the price tag. However if your try it and hate or don’t feel its worth it, you haven’t wasted your money. And the cost – most of the boxes cost the same price as a single foundation! They are also a great gift idea, you can send them to friends and family or even buy a subscription for them.

If you’ve decided you want to give it a try, how do you pick which site to use? well, it all depends on what you want to get out of your box. Each beauty site has a slightly different process. Below I have given an outline of three beauty boxes as these are the three that I have tried.

Latest in Beauty
It needs to be pointed out that this site doesn’t have a subscription process. It’s probably the best site to try first as you get an idea of the sample sizes and selection but won’t have to remember to cancel any subscription.

You have three options with this site
First you can order a little beauty box. This usually consists of 3 samples. The box is free however you are asked to pay towards the cost of postage and packing. The cost is £1.50 and is done via text message

The second option is to order one of their ‘luxury samples’. There is a two page list of beauty samples that you can order. This is the only site that you can buy sample items. The items are individually priced from £1-10. They will state if they are sample sized or full sized and samples will give you and idea of how many uses you will get out of them. You are limited to one of each item.

Finally they have their ‘Latest in Beauty’ collections (they currently only have 2 different options). These are ready made collections that their team have put together. Each box has a theme such as ‘Clean & Fresh’ (£14.95 inc P&P), or ‘Ultimate Discovery’ (£14.95 inc P&P). Each theme will list a selection of items and you will be sent all the items in the box, colours and tones will be based on the information you have provided in your beauty profile (when you sign up you will be asked to fill in some basic questions about your skin tone, beauty habits and hair colouring).

Postage and packaging for this site has just been increased to £3.95 and items can take up to 5 working days for delivery once your order has been processed.

Birchbox has a subscription process but give easy to follow details if you decide to suspend it. Please note that there is a cut off date for suspending your account each month as payments are processed and sent out on set dates (eg payment is usually taken on the 5th of the month and boxes sent out between 15th – 20th of the month). For first time orders or when re-activating subscriptions, order delivery will be confirmed by email and usually takes 3-5 working days but can sometimes take up to 10 working days.

Each month you will receive 4-5 items with a magazine. There is also the chance to purchase these (full sized) items in their shop. They have a rewards scheme where you receive points every time you spend with them. When you purchase a box you will get 1 point for each pound you spend. You can also earn points by filling in surveys to review the items you have received. You have to fill the survey in on the month that you receive the item in order to qualify for points (you can still fill in surveys at a later date for any of the products but won’t receive points if it’s after the month you received it). You will also receive points when you refer your friends. Points can be used to purchase items in their shop.

Birchbox costs £12.95 per month including postage and packaging. If you wanted to pay for a subscription up front or get it as a gift you can purchase a subscription for 3 months (£30 plus £2.95 P&P a month), 6 months (£60 plus £2.95 P&P a month) or 12 months (£90 plus £2.95 P&P a month).

Love Me Beauty
Love Me Beauty is also subscription run but again give simple instructions for cancelling. The difference with this site is that at the beginning of each month you will be sent an email telling you that the boutique is open. This will take you to their site where there are 3 menus for that month.

It’s up to you to select which menu you would like to receive, however they are only open for 28 days* (a countdown clock will be shown). If your subscription is active and you haven’t selected an option by the end date, one will be selected for you automatically. It is best to choose one at the beginning of the month, as once a menu has run out of stock you will be limited to the remaining menus.

Boxes are dispatched daily once you have selected your choice, delivery can take 3-5 working days. The advantage of this site is that you will receive exactly what is on the menu you have chosen. There are usually 4 a 5 products in each menu, 1 – 2 are guaranteed to be ‘star items’ (full size) and 3 travel sized. Love Me Beauty also have a a points collection in place as well as reward system. With rewards they offer 1 month free for 3 friends referred, 1 extra sample when 5 surveys are completed and one extra product for every 3 months subscribed (when your subscription is live). Their points system works where you get points for filling in surveys, when you have enough points you can use them to redeem a free box.

So there you have it, three great ways to get the latest beauty items for a fraction of the price. I have used all three of these sites and thoroughly enjoyed each experience. If I was to sum them up I would say that Lastest in beauty is best for ordering individual samples, Birchbox and Love Me Beauty are best for rewards if you aim to be a regular subscriber and Love Me Beauty are best if you want only exact items with no surprises.

Other Beauty Sample Boxes
I have come across a few other beauty sample boxes but as I haven’t tried them I am unable to give any personal opinion on them. I have listed them below with a brief summary, if you have come across any others and have tried them please let me know!

Be Box
Works on a subscription system but can be cancelled at anytime
You receive 4 – 5 items
1 month is £10 plus £2.95 P&P
This box is a great idea as it’s philosophy is that it’s for ‘women of colour’. However the site does say that you don’t have to be a woman of colour to subscribe

Glossy Box
Works on a subscription systems but can be cancelled at anytime
You receive 5 ‘surprise’ items
1 month is £10 plus £2.95 P&P

* I was unable to establish if Love Me Beauty’s boutique is open for 30/28 days. When I tried checking my own personal account it showed 28 days.