Me­gan Shep­pard

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

Do you have a ques­tion for Me­gan Shep­pard? Email it to feel­good@ex­am­iner.ie or send a let­ter to: Feel­good, Ir­ish Ex­am­iner, Linn Dubh, As­sump­tion Road, Black­pool, Cork

I have re­cently been gifted an aro­mather­apy dif­fuser for es­sen­tial oils, to­gether with an es­sen­tial oil blend for re­lax­ation. What es­sen­tial oils do you rec­om­mend for health?

>> It can be very dif­fi­cult to just choose from the thou­sands of ther­a­peu­tic es­sen­tial oils avail­able. It is im­por­tant to con­sider what you are want­ing to use them for.

Most peo­ple tend to start with oils that have a wide range of uses and ap­pli­ca­tions. These work­horse oils are a must for any first-aid cab­i­net. It is worth not­ing that it is use­ful to have a good qual­ity cold-pressed car­rier oils, flo­ral wa­ter or hy­drosol, and aloe vera gel on hand for use in com­bi­na­tion with the oils. Laven­der is a ver­sa­tile oil that is not only ef­fec­tive with burns, scalds, headaches, in­som­nia, flu, de­pres­sion, cir­cu­la­tion, wound heal­ing, and detox­i­fi­ca­tion, it also smells won­der­fully. It is of­ten said that if you were to choose only one oil then this would be a wise choice. Laven­der is a nat­u­ral an­tibi­otic, an­ti­sep­tic, an­tide­pres­sant, seda­tive, and detox­i­fier.

Tea tree es­sen­tial oil is from Aus­tralia, and is typ­i­cally used for its pow­er­ful an­ti­sep­tic, an­tivi­ral and an­ti­fun­gal qual­i­ties. It oil is ex­tremely ef­fec­tive and gen­tle. Com­mon uses in­clude fun­gal in­fec­tions, acne, sun­burn, toothache, and house­hold clean­ing.

Eu­ca­lyp­tus is an­other Aus­tralian oil, this one is most com­monly used to treat res­pi­ra­tory ail­ments as well as be­ing an ef­fec­tive anti-in­flam­ma­tory, an­ti­sep­tic, an­tibi­otic, di­uretic, anal­gesic, an­tivi­ral, and de­odoriser. It also does a great job in re­mov­ing resid­ual ‘sticky stuff’ from la­bels and tape!

Lemon is an up­lift­ing oil that is won­der­ful for con­cen­tra­tion and has a gen­eral tonic ef­fect. It works to pu­rify wa­ter, treat in­sect bites, re­lieve headaches, bal­ance the lym­phatic sys­tem, and stim­u­lates di­ges­tion. All of the cit­rus oils have sim­i­lar prop­er­ties and add a bright note to any blend.

Ger­man and Ro­man chamomile are sooth­ing and can be used in prepa­ra­tions for ir­ri­tated skin, par­tic­u­larly where eczema is an is­sue. Rose gera­nium is a great oil for women use­ful in help­ing with the symp­toms of menopause, en­dometrio­sis, uter­ine and breast can­cer, in­fer­til­ity and ner­vous dis­or­ders. Pep­per­mint and spearmint es­sen­tial oils may help with di­ges­tion, flu, mi­graines, and fa­tigue.

I am look­ing for a mush­room sup­ple­ment that has pow­er­ful im­mune-boost­ing prop­er­ties. Do you know where I can find it, please?

>> Ori­en­tal mush­rooms, such as shi­itake, reishi, maitake and cordy­ceps, have an adap­to­genic ef­fect on the body while pro­vid­ing thy­mus sup­port. Adap­to­gens en­able the body to cope more ef­fec­tively by help­ing it adapt to stresses. Red reishi mush­room, (gan­o­derma lu­cidum) has been shown to help re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, in­crease en­ergy lev­els, reg­u­late the im­mune sys­tem, pro­tect the liver, and im­prove sleep qual­ity. Reishi is a pow­er­ful adap­to­gen that acts very rapidly within the body, pos­si­bly due to the wa­ter­sol­u­ble polysac­cha­rides and triter­penes which help to rapidly nor­malise body sys­tems and pro­cesses.

Maitake (Gri­fola fron­dosa) helps with wound heal­ing, is a pow­er­ful an­tiox­i­dant, and been shown to pro­tect against heart dis­ease and di­a­betes.

Shi­itake (Lentin­ula edo­des) is a pow­er­ful im­mune-sup­port­ive mush­room, used for car­dio­vas­cu­lar health, to im­prove brain func­tion, in­crease en­ergy lev­els, re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, and is ac­tu­ally used by on­col­o­gists in Japan to sup­port can­cer pa­tients in post-chemo­ther­apy re­cov­ery. Reishi ex­tract has also been used in the treat­ment of drug-re­sis­tant can­cers. Stud­ies in­di­cate that lung can­cer cells re­spond to the herb much in the same way as they would re­act to chemo­ther­apy drugs. Yet un­like chemo­ther­apy drugs, which can be toxic to healthy cells, the reishi ex­tract was only deadly to can­cer cells not healthy cells.

A com­bi­na­tion of three or more medic­i­nal mush­rooms is ideal, since it will help to in­crease the range of ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects. Sol­gar com­bi­na­tion Reishi Shi­itake Maitake mush­room ex­tract cost €31.34 for 50 cap­sules.

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