Alternatively Speaking: Keeping the mosquitoes at bay

Alternative medicine enthusiast Natalie Marx answers your questions: Is there a herbal cure for prolapsed hemorrhoids? Are there alternative mosquito repellents?

mosquito 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
mosquito 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic value. The physician is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume responsibility. It is the patient, not the doctor, who ultimately creates healing. Sharing knowledge and understanding with my patients has always been a priority so that they are able to make informed decisions about their health care. Once we share knowledge we help empower one another to reach optimum health.
Question. Hi Natalie, is there any herbal or medicinal cure for prolapsed hemorrhoids as an alternative to surgery?
Answer. Prolapsed Hemorrhoids, which are distinguished by an external lump of inflamed tissue protruding from the anus, can be treated with a variety of interventions, depending on their severity.
Inflammation can be reduced by bathing in warm water, which assists the blood vessels in the rectal area to relax. Consuming bulk fiber products like psyllium seed husk and plantain produces softer stool, which is easier to pass and therefore less likely to induce new hemorrhoids or inflame preexisting ones. 
Adopting a squatting position when making a bowel movement is thought to ease stress to the anal walls and aid in easier defecation. 
For individuals whose poor circulation is the cause of their hemorrhoids, it is recommended to use a pillow to raise the legs while sleeping to assist in eliminating altogether the presence of external hemorrhoids. The use of soothing compounds and substances such as Witch hazel, Cranesbill, Aloe Vera and honey provide relief for some of the symptoms associated with the condition. 
Certain dietary interventions will also help, such as Butcher’s Broom, Horse-Chestnut, as well as bioflavanoids.  Because compounds such as Butcher’s Broom contain naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents such as ruscogenins, they are often sought out by patients who wish to try an organic approach to addressing the symptoms that accompany Prolapsed Hemorrhoids.
Bioflavonoids are a type of plant compound that work by stabilizing and strengthening blood vessel walls and by decreasing inflammation. They reduce anal discomfort, pain, and anal discharge during an acute hemorrhoid attack (shouldn't be used by people taking tamoxifen for breast cancer).
The major flavonoids found in citrus fruits, diosmin, herperidin, and oxerutins, are also beneficial. The plant butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus), which is also known as knee holly, box holly, and sweet broom has a long history of traditional use for hemorrhoids and varicose veins. It is often used when there is underlying poor circulation in the veins.
How does butcher's broom work? Butcher's broom extract contains anti-inflammatory and vein-contricting properties that improve the tone and integrity of veins and shrink the swollen tissue. The active compound is called ruscogen. Butcher's broom is usually recommended in capsule or tea form. The tea has a slightly bitter taste, so a bit of honey can be used to sweeten it. The tea can be made by steeping one teaspoon of the herb in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Butchers broom is also effective when applied topically as an ointment or compress. Butcher's broom should not be used by people with high blood pressure, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), by pregnant or nursing women, or by people taking alpha blocker or MAO inhibitor drugs unless otherwise recommended by their doctor.I also recommend using a topical application of chamomile or calendula. You can apply this as a compress or ointment.
Q. I live in Haifa right by the sea and I am being bitten alive by mosquitoes! Can you recommend anything other than DEET as an effective mosquito repellent?
A. You can repel mosquitoes with several natural and extremely effective methods using herbs and essential oils that can be purchased from your local health food store or even from your garden. For a quick effective mosquito repellent, simply crush a handful of lemon balm leaves in your hand and rub them on exposed skin. Grow the plants near the backdoor or in the garden, where the leaves will be handy when you need them. 
Other plant oils mosquitoes don't like are citronella, jojoba, neem, witch hazel, tea tree oil, peppermint, lemon basil, lemon oregano, lemon geranium, lemon grass, catnip, eucalyptus and pennyroyal. Its very simple to make your own natural anti mosquito lotion.
To make a lotion, use: 2 ounces distilled water2 ounces olive oilRoughly 120 drops essential oil.
Put the water into a deep mixing bowl, and using a wire whip, begin beating quickly while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. After oil is mixed into the distilled water, stir in the essential oil of your choice (citronella is probably the most effective for insect repellent use).
You should also eat raw garlic. The essence laces breath and exudes from skin pores, dettering mosquitoes away. A more sociable option is to take Vitamin B1. This is a fantastic repellent against mosquitoes since they cant bare the smell. You should take one a day during mosquito season (if possible a good idea to begin a few weeks before the season starts). I also recommend sleeping with a fan at night! Fans, are very effective at keeping mosquitoes away. A seminal 2003 study by epidemiologists at the University of Michigan found that outdoor fans work to keep mosquitoes from biting. There are two reasons behind this. First, a fan disperses your body's carbon dioxide, and it is your CO2 that attracts mosquitoes. Second, a blowing wind makes it harder for the mosquito to land on your skin.
Q. Other than drinking water, are there any foods that rehydrate the body?
A. Rehydration means to restore fluid to something dehydrated, in this case the replenishment of bodily fluids. There is no question that water is the most effective and preferred means of rehydrating. However, using food to rehydrate should not be forgotten since many foods contain water. Incorporation of foods and liquids can improve symptoms of dehydration, such as fatigue, headaches and muscle aches. The best rehydration foods are the ones with the most water content.
Vegetables contain water; Cucumbers are 97 percent water, lettuce and zucchini are 95 percent water and eggplant is 92 percent water. High-water content in vegetables not only provides hydration, it also encourages feelings of fullness with fewer calories, according to Barbara Rolls, researcher for a 1999 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Fruit that contains the greatest water content include tomatoes at 95 percent water, watermelon at 92 percent, grapefruit 91 percent, peaches at 85 percent and apples are 84 percent water. Soups make an excellent choice for rehydration due to the water and sodium content. Water makes up the majority of most broth-based soups. According to a study in the 1998 Journal of Physiology, soup is recommended for athletes during post-exercise rehydration as the sodium in broth based soups is effective at retaining and restoring water in the body.
Thought for the day: 'Wisdom is to the soul what health is to the body' -De Saint-Real
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 [email protected]