Alternatively Speaking: Succot soothing

Alternative health expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: Can the etrog fruit be used medicinally?

Man inspects etrog 370 (photo credit: Reuters Photographer / Reuters)
Man inspects etrog 370
(photo credit: Reuters Photographer / Reuters)
Q. Dear Natalie, is the etrog fruit a citrus fruit? Can citrus fruits be used medicinally?
A. Yes! Etrog is indeed a citrus fruit. Herbalists have used citrus fruits as a source of healing for thousands of years mostly using the rinds as medicine.
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine uses several different kinds of citrus peels for support, including mandarin and bitter orange. These act primarily on the digestive and respiratory systems and are generally used to improve digestion and relieve gas and bloating.
The peel can also sometimes be used to resolve phlegm. Qing pi (immature mandarin orange peel), acts primarily on the liver to aid the stomach in digestion, relieve food retention and promote good liver function. This is prescribed when the discomfort is primarily under the rib cage. 
The phytonutrients in citrus fruits (found in the white pulp of the fruit) can also lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Most commonly known for high levels of Vitamin C, citrus fruits are full of antioxidants that fight free radicals, helping keep the immune system healthy. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron, which can be especially beneficial for vegetarians to increase their iron levels.
One way to help relieve nervous tension and insomnia is by using orange oil. Blend it with lavender, or sandalwood. It can also be added to massage oil to help normalize blood pressure and aid circulation.
Q. Dear Natalie, Succot is the time of year where we are instructed to eat five grains in the Succa - wheat, oat, spelt, barley, and rye. I have just discovered I am gluten intolerant and have no idea how I will prepare food over Succot! Do you have any ideas for good gluten free substitutes that help binds food together?
A.  A very common fear of many gluten intolerant sufferers or their spouses is indeed what they can replace for gluten products. Below are some tips for gluten substitutes which can help you manage your condition while still allowing you to eat a variety of foods.
In gluten free baking, eggs are commonly used to help ingredients stick together. They also help set the structure and enhance the texture of baked goods. Eggs are rich in protein and nutrients, and to give a light consistency to baked goods, they combine well with potato starch.
As far as grains are concerned, you can also safely incorporate gluten-free grains into your recipes.
White and brown basmati rice, quinoa, millet, teff and popcorn are all nutrient rich, gluten-free grains. Since most flours contain gluten, try using flours derived from corn, almonds, soybeans, potatoes or sweet rice. Try some of the stronger-tasting flours, such as bean flour, in recipes containing chocolate or nuts.
Click for more JPost High Holy Day featuresClick for more JPost High Holy Day features
Guar gum and xanthum gut are often used to bind gluten-free baked goods. They are usually interchangeable and you only need use a very small amount. Try one-half to 1 teaspoon of guar gum or xanthum gum for every cup of gluten-free flour called for in baked good recipes.
Nuts and seeds are other great snacks for those who are gluten intolerant. Select raw nuts including almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pumpkins and hazelnuts. Raw nuts and seeds are high in protein and an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats when eaten in moderation.
Q. Dear Natalie, last year whilst building our Succa my son cut his hand and suffered a rather deep wound. Can you recommend any natural antiseptics?
A. My favorite household antiseptic remedy is Calendula. A "must" for anyone with young children in the house, or partners who enjoy the odd DIY job. Calendula is an excellent remedy for punctured wounds that need rapid healing of the tissues before a secondary infection sets in. It is known as homeopathic antiseptic because it facilitates quick healing of cuts, lacerations or suppurated wounds. You can apply it as a cream directly on the wound. I recommend using a warm sponge soaked in calendula solution for greatest comfort.
The homeopathic remedy Hypericum is also ideal for stubbed toes or fingers. Hypericum works particularly well for injuries for parts of the body rich in nerves.  Hypericum has been known to prevent tetanus and relieve intense pains after surgeries or when the pains persist in the old scar tissue. I usually prescribe Hypericum when the wounds are far more tender than the appearance of the wound indicates.
Honey is a wonderful natural antiseptic and can also be used to treat wounds.  Due to the antimicrobial agents that kill the bacteria, applying honey directly can prevent infections, in and around the wound.  Several types of bacteria cannot survive in honey so the swelling eases, and the tissues can regrow, thereby healing the wound. 
No first aid box would be complete without Tea Tree Oil. It is a fantastic natural antibiotic that contains antiseptic compounds that are very effective as a skin disinfectant.  Depending on the severity of the wound, it can be used at a strength of 5 to 15 percent daily.
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.
Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. To make an appointment please email [email protected].

Ask Natalie
: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer, email Natalie with your question at n[email protected].
Someone Once Said: ‘He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.’
- Arabian Proverb