Alternatively Speaking: Stopping the sores

Alternative medicine enthusiast Natalie Marx answers your questions: Are there any alternative remedies for travel sickness?

Natalie Marx 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Natalie Marx 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Question: Can you tell me more about menstrual cups? Are they safe? Is insertion much more difficult than tampons? What are the benefits? I'd like an educated opinion.
Answer: A menstrual cup is a type of cup or barrier worn inside the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual fluid. Unlike tampons and pads, the cup collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it. While insertion and removal may take some time to get used to, many women consider menstrual cups to be an innovative and safe alternative to tampons. Menstrual cups are safe for women of all ages. Here are some of the benefits that menstrual cups provide:
No risk of toxic shock syndrome or irritation, which may be caused by the bleaching of the absorbent fibers in tampons or the synthetic fibers themselves.
Can be worn for up to 12 hours on light flow days. This is almost twice as long as a tampon, so it is useful for overnight use or when a woman knows she won't have access to a bathroom.
Can be worn during vigorous physical activity, such as swimming and aerobics. You might save money — consider how much money you spend each year on tampons and pads compared to the one-time cost of a menstrual cup.More environmentally friendly.
There are a few different varieties of menstrual cups on the market. If you choose to try one out, make sure to read the manufacturer's directions and recommendations, as each product differs. Most are washable and reusable, but there are disposable menstrual cups, too. The cups look similar to a cervical cap with small flexible rods connected to the base to aid in their removal (kind of like a tiny plunger). With proper care, some menstrual cups can be used for up to ten years! The cups are made from a few different types of materials such as medical grade silicone (non-latex) or natural gum rubber.
Insertion and removal of menstrual cups takes practice, just as tampons and diaphragms do. The more knowledgeable and comfortable a woman is about and with her body, and the more she practices insertion, the easier it will be. With practice, privacy, and persistence, a woman can learn to avoid and/or minimize spills.
If you use tampons, then you'll probably be able to use menstrual cups, too. Now that you are informed, feel free to give this method a try!
 Q. Natalie, I am supposed to go travelling with my partner in two weeks and I'm nervous because I usually suffer from travel sickness. Are there any other alternative remedies I can take for travel sickness?
A. Travel or motion sickness refers to the uneasiness, nausea, cold sweats, dizziness and vomiting that can be brought on by train, car, boat, plane or any other type of transportation. In addition to the natural remedies I suggest below, there are some other things you can do to prevent or alleviate symptoms. For example, try not to read when traveling, and do not sit in a seat facing backwards. If traveling by car, sit in the front seat and keep your eyes focused on something in the distance so that you see the same motion that your body and inner ears feel. In an airplane, the best place to sit is over the wing where there is least motion.
Ginger (zingiber officinalis) is probably the most well known herbal remedy for motion sickness. Traditionally used to relieve nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Ginger also has some pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Mint is another very effective herbal remedy for motion sickness that has been used for centuries to alleviate digestive problems, nausea, and heartburn. One of the most effective mint herbs for people who suffer from motion sickness and similar disorders is mentha piperita.
Other natural substances you can try that are useful for treating motion sickness include the homeopathic remedies kalium phosphate and pulsatilla vulgaris. Kalium phosphate is a natural tranquilizer that is very effective in calming a nervous stomach and relieving anxiety-like symptoms that can be associated with motion sickness.Pulsatilla vulgaris can also relieve dizziness, nausea and vomiting, with pulsatilla vulgaris being particularly effective for those with an aversion to closed spaces.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, pressing on an acupuncture point called "pericardium 6" (P6) may relieve nausea and motion sickness. The point is located on the inside of the forearm, about two inches above the crease of the wrist. You can press on the point using the index finger of the opposite hand.
Alternatively, acupressure wrist bands, often marketed as "sea bands", stimulate the point. They have a plastic button or bead that puts pressure on the p6 point. The person wearing the band can also press on the bead for additional stimulation.
Q. I have suffered from cold sores for the last few years. It's really starting to affect my confidence when I go out. Its so uncomfortable and I'm really self conscious about people seeing with them. Any advice you can give to treating them?
A. Cold sores, are caused be herpes simplex virus1 HSV-1, which is related to, but different from the virus that causes genital herpes. Cold sores first appear three to ten days after exposure to the virus and last up to five weeks.
These cold sores are very contagious and very common. The regular cycle of cold sores are about ten days, with the remedies for cold sores below you will be able to shorten the time to three to five days when used correctly. I highly recommend using an Echinacea and goldenseal extract mixture. Echinacea is an immune system booster that can also prevent a cold sore outbreak. Take one dropper-full a day for no more than three days. Also put a few drops on a cotton ball and place on the affected area for a few minutes several times a day.
You can also try using lemon balm. This contains a high concentration of polyphenols and appears to minimize herpes outbreaks. It can be applied topically in cream form. As a nutritional supplement you can try L-Lysine. This fights the virus that causes cold sores. Take 500 mg twice a day.
Since cold sores are often aggravated or brought on by stress, our vitamin B levels are usually then depleted. Vitamin B complex is one of my favorite and is very important for healing and immune system functions. Take 100 mg of each major B vitamin twice a day. Ideally you can buy a vitamin B Complex. Finally (although a little less sociable!) you can cut garlic in half and place one part on the cold sore. A compound in garlic cold Kyolic has antiviral properties which speeds healing. If you are very prone to cold sores, you can also take two garlic capsules a 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