Alternatively Speaking: New outlook for the new year

Alternative medicine enthusiast Natalie Marx answers your questions: What are the health benefits of pomegranates? How can bloating be avoided?

pomegrantes 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
pomegrantes 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Q. Natalie, I tend to shave my face once a week before Shabbat (and before the High Holidays). I suffer terribly from razor burn and sometimes itching and was wondering if there are any alternative solutions?
A. There are a few suggestions that can help prevent the razor burn occurring and below that I will give some tips on how to treat the burn itself.
I recommend that you use a fresh blade to shave, not a dull or old blade, and always use a clean and preferably sterilized blade. Old razors may accumulate soap residues and tiny hairs from previous use. If left even for a short time, bacteria and fungus can also settle on the blade and may even have rust. You do not want any of that near your skin, and especially not in any nicks or cuts.
If possible, try not to rush through your shaving routine and always remember to use warm water and moisturizing creams or gels. Taking both time and care of your skin while shaving will prevent the risk of razor burn. Have you considered using an electric shaver? Electric shavers are usually much gentler on the skin and have blades covered with mesh foils for safer shaving.
Using moisture is definitely the best way to ensure that you have an injury free shave. Keep the skin moist before, during and after shaving. You can soak the skin with warm water or hold a warm, wet towel on it for a few minutes, use a gentle moisturizing cream or gel during shaving. Its important that you shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it. Shaving this way avoids pushing the hair shaft into the follicle, causing bumps that can get infected or ingrown hair. Be careful not to shave too closely or push the razor into the skin, especially with a new blade.
There are several wonderful herbal treatments that can soothe and heal razor burn. Aloe vera is my favorite. It is guaranteed to soothe and clear razor burn. Almost every shaving product on the market today claims to have aloe vera in it. Calendula cream will soothe the redness too and provides antiseptic protection. Another tip is to mix tea treet oil with a little aloe vera. Tea Tree Oil is a natural antiseptic and works to kill any bacteria that might be as a result of your razor burn. Just be careful because Tea Tree Oil can be irritating for some people, so it's best to dilute it with an aloe cream for best results. Just a small drop of the tea tree will be enough. You can also apply a thin layer of eucalyptus cream; it is very refreshing and protects scraped skin. Rinsing razor-burned skin with cool green tea will stop the skin burning and help it to heal. Cold compresses of wet spearmint leaves are also very cooling and healing.
Q. With pomegranate in season and Rosh Hashana approaching...can you tell me the health benefits of pomegranate?
A. Indeed pomegranate season is upon us! This ruby red fruit has earned a mention in the Torah and also in ancient Greek writings by Homer. The Talmud states that "even the wicked amongst us are filled with good deeds like pomegranates [are filled with seeds]." On Rosh Hashana, our custom to use a pomegranate as the new fruit over which we recite Shehecheyanu is to "remind" G-d of all the good deeds we've done during the year. The Malbim also points out that pomegranates allegedly have 613 seeds which parallel the 613 commandments in the Torah. By eating a pomegranate we express our desire that the year ahead be full of good deeds.
Pomegranates are cultivated throughout India, the Middle East, southern Europe and California. Eventually the fruit spread into Europe, first taken by the Roman army to Rome and later by the Moors to the south of Spain. It was from Spain that this fruit made its way across the Atlantic to America in the boats of the first pilgrims. This amazing fruit has traveled across the world with the passing of great historical events. The ancient people of the Middle East always held this fruit in high regard and revered the fruit as a symbol of life, health and fertility. They used it frequently in their medicines and also used it to help cure lots of different flu’s and diseases. It only seems to be recently that the western world has taken note of the fruit and started to do tests and research on it. This is where the story starts to get more interesting as the medical tests begin giving out the results.
Some initial test results have shown great health benefits attributed to the fruit and the medical profession have called the pomegranate a super fruit. Some of the health benefits that have been high lighted are:
- The fruit has almost 3 times more antioxidants than all other fruits.
- Eaten regularly, it can help to reduce high blood pressure and also it can help to lower the levels of bad cholesterol in your body.
-It can help to reduce the chances of having heart problems or a stroke.
-  The fruit contains vitamin A, C and E along with folic acid and fiber.
Scientists in Israel have in fact been conducting research on the health benefits of pomegranates and pomegranate juice for years, and now others have joined in.
Researchers report that pomegranates are rich in antioxidants that can keep bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2000).
This degradation of LDL seems to be an initial step in the development of atherosclerosis. In addition, pomegranate juice, like aspirin, can help keep blood platelets from clumping together to form unwanted clots. More recent research has found that eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months improved the amount of oxygen getting to the heart muscle of patients with coronary heart disease (American Journal of the College of Cardiology, Sept. 2005). Other researchers report that long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may help combat erectile dysfunction (Journal of Urology, July 2005).
Q. Hi Natalie, Please can you help me - I have been suffering from severe bloating after big meals along with tiredness and a little vaginal itching. My doctor thinks I may have Candida. Are there any natural remedies to cure Candida? Thank you so much for your help.
Candida's favorite foods are sugar and yeast. My first tip is to work out your diet.
A Candida diet is designed to improve the intestinal flora. It includes foods that restrict the growth of yeast and those that promote the growth of friendly bacteria.
The best kind of diet for treating Candida is made up of clean meats, plain yogurt, protein and non-starchy vegetables. Eating yogurt will help the natural bacteria in the intestines to flourish, making it possible for the immune system to control the Candida. Things that should not be eaten until the yeast is under control are: sugar, foods made from yeast, fruits and carbohydrates. Sugar is the number one food of Candida yeast and must be avoided. Honey can be used as an alternative to sugar. Fruit is naturally high in sugar and should be avoided as much as possible especially grapes, bananas and melons. Instead you can choose an apple or pear each day.
Cut down on your alcohol intake too. A lot of alcohols are fermented with yeast as well as being full of sugar. Check too for products containing vinegar. Vinegar is made from yeast. A lot of dressings, ketcup and mayonnaise contain vinegar.
Wheat, and anything made out of wheat (such as flour, bread, cakes and biscuits) should be avoided. Instead you can find some tasty bread made without yeast such as rye or spelt You can find these in almost all health food stores.
Another tip is to avoid caffeine. Try cutting out all caffeinated beverages. Herbal tea makes an excellent and healthy alternative. Processed foods and any chemical additives or preservatives should be avoided. Cut out any pasteurized dairy products, as they will feed the Candida overgrowth.
If you can avoid simple carbohydrates altogether, then try only to eat complex carbohydrates in small amounts. Servings of vegetables like potatoes and carrots should be kept small as they have a high carbohydrate content. Drink plenty of filtered water to help to cleanse your system as well as keeping you hydrated.
As long as Candida stays within the intestinal tract it actually plays an important part in our bodies. Its job is to locate and destroy harmful bacteria. Without it, a person would be defenseless against dangerous bacteria within the body.
Fiber is also key to solving Candida. One teaspoon to one tablespoon of soluble fiber containing guar gum, psyllium husks, flaxseeds or pectin can be mixed in a glass of water two times per day on an empty stomach.
Garlic capsules are one of my favorite remedies for Candida and one which I have seen most success from. One capsule two times per day taken with the enteric-coated volatile oil is a typical recommendation.
Finally you can try coconut oil. Start with one teaspoon per day and work up to three to five tablespoons per day.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor. 
Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at

Someone Once Said: "Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks." - Song of Solomon 4:3.

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