Can you help me breathe more easily?
Q. I am 30 and have post-nasal drip, which makes it very hard to breathe, particularly as I am also asthmatic. I would like to feel well, especially around Christmas, but the doctor is very dismissive. A. Pharmacist Shabir Daya (the resident pharmacist at www.victoriahealth.com) has helped many people with this problem so I asked him for his advice. He explains that post-nasal drip (PND) is associated with excessive production of mucus by the respiratory tract in the nose, which then accumulates at the back of the throat or in the nasal cavity. This causes problems with breathing.
The big culprits tend to be acid-producing foods, especially dairy products, tomatoes and potatoes. So cut down on these as much as possible. Try swapping cow’s milk for almond, rice or oat milk (available from good supermarkets nationwide). Some asthmatics also find it helps to cut down on gluten too.
Try these natural remedies (NB click on any product name to find it on the VH site):
Marshmallow, one capsule three times daily. Marshmallow contains long-chain molecules called mucilages, which work to soothe and calm the inflamed mucus membranes. This reduces the amount of mucus produced. Power Health Marshmallow, £4.60 for 30 capsules - buy here
Also take plantago tincture. This herb helps to break down the bonds that form mucus, so it is expelled more easily. It also has antibacterial properties, so it prevents the mucus getting infected, which is a common problem. A Vogel Plantago, £9.15 for 50 ml - buy here
Ivy thyme may help your asthma, too. Take 15 drops in water, two or three times daily. Asthma attacks are often triggered by inflammation in the respiratory tract, which ivy extract can soothe. A Vogel IvyThyme Complex, £9.15 for 50 ml - buy here
Also use a saltpipe inhaler (£29.95). A few minutes daily has been proved to help people breathe more easily by calming the cells of the respiratory system and helping them to self-cleanse.
DITCH THE ITCH
Following my article on eczema sufferers avoiding products containing the harsh detergent sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS ), a reader emailed saying: ‘To our amazement, the emollient [aqueous ointment] prescribed by our GP for our three-year-old son’s chronic eczema had SLS in the ingredients! We eliminated all products with it in and his eczema has disappeared. No more itching, discomfort or sleepless nights.’
To make sure it really is a jolly Christmas I am stocking up with a good first-aid kit (plenty of choice at Boots), First Aid Manual (Dorling Kindersley, £13.99*), written in conjunction with St John Ambulance, plus my favourite standbys from Victoria Health:
Food Science Mega Probiotic-ND, £18.50 for 60 capsules. A non-dairy supplement to help us digest all that lovely food. Adults, two capsules once or twice daily; children over two, one capsule once or twice daily - buy here
IN THE KNICK OF TIME
When TV presenter Annabel Croft left home at 15 to play tennis on the international circuit, her mother gave her protective pants to avoid ‘accidents’ when her period was due. Chatting with her friend Carol Smillie about their teenage daughters, they wondered why there was no modern equivalent. After questioning 100 girls, they found 91 were so afraid of leaking that they avoided sleepovers, light clothing and even sports. So Annabel and Carol developed Diary Doll pants, which are lightweight, breathable and totally waterproof, ‘to buy you enough time to save embarrassment’, explains Carol. Menopausal women are also discovering how useful they are. £9.99, available in pale pink or black, and sizes S-XL, www.diarydoll.com - buy here
THREE OF THE BEST HEALTHY TREATS
1. Ohso Probiotic Chocolate Bars Our favourite healthy stocking filler, these are a daily guilt-free treat to boost your good bacteria. £3.99 for seven, www.ohsolovesyourtummy.com
2. Kallo organic Belgian Chocolate Rice Cake Thins Gluten-allergic chocolate fans will revel in these, in milk or dark chocolate, around £2 a packet, available from supermarkets.
3. Cocoa-Dusted Goji Berries Championed by nutritionist Jenna Barclay, these are both delicious and good for you. £3.99 for 100 g, from www.foodstolove.co.uk.