Green Your Life

Talking about amazing eco-friendly products and access to my online Wikaniko shop.


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The Joys of Bleeding! Re-usable pads, Cotton tampons and pads & Mooncups

Menstruation, periods, time of the month, on-the-blob (sorry – horrible phrase) – whatever you call it, it is not the most enjoyable time for many women, me included.  In the UK, we do not celebrate the fact that women have eggs that enable us to make babies and that we become fertile every single month (much better than Pandas who only manage once a year!).  But if our eggs are not fertilised, then we lose them and we bleed.

We hide it, make ourselves ashamed of it and suffer a fair amount of negativity in the media, at work, at  home or even at play when we are bleeding.  Yes, we have mood swings.  Yes, bleeding can hurt (a lot at times).  Yes, sometimes blood leaks.  No, it is not glamorous.  Yes we can feel like pants and want to hole up in bed with a hot water-bottle, a chick-lit book and a large box of chocolates.  No, we don’t like it when others are negative about it.

And look at the commercial choices of how to cope with the bleeding….

a)    A plug made from rayon & other man-made fibres, bleached with chemicals including dioxin and wrapped in plastic.  These conventional tampons can shed fibres when wet, possibly causing infection.  If there is any cotton in the plug, it will be conventionally grown using loads of pesticides and may be Genetically Modified. Many also have a perfume added which may add to the irritation for many women. And we shove this up our vagina!!!  

b)   A pad made from the same type of stuff as the plug – perhaps a little better as at least it doesn’t go in us, but it still hangs around next to our vagina for a few hours at a time.

Organic cotton, no chlorine bleach, no plastics.  So much better for you

Organic cotton, no chlorine bleach, no plastics. So much better for you

There is a growing amount of literature on the health problems resulting from conventional sanitary products, especially tampons.  But in addition to this, think of the environmental problems – we throw the tampons and pads away and most will end in landfill.  A woman will use at least 11,000 tampons/pads in her lifetime and that makes a huge addition to landfill.  Some tampons will get flushed down the toilet, possibly blocking drains or even ending up in rivers with all their lovely chemicals too!

There is also the cost factor – each month you probably spend £5+ on sanitary products.  That does add up over the years.

So what choice do we have?

Well actually more than you may think.

There is a pad for all preferences - wings, no wings, thick, shaped and thin.  All organic cotton with no chlorine bleach or plastics

There is a pad for all preferences – wings, no wings, thick, shaped and thin. All organic cotton with no chlorine bleach or plastics

On the more conventional lines Natracare have a whole range of organic cotton, chlorine free and plastic free pads and tampons, including maternity pads.  In addition, 95% of the product is biodegradable.  These were my first step away from conventional products and I have been using them for about 15 years.  However, they still need to be disposed of and still create a monthly cost.

They come in different shapes, different thicknesses and different materials.

They come in different shapes, different thicknesses and different materials.

As with reusable nappies, it is equally possible to have re-usable, washable pads.  Many women make their own using a variety of materials and I have used these in the past.  I have just rinsed before adding them to the usual wash. If needlework is not your forte, then you can buy washable pads too.  This option cuts both the disposal issue and the cost issue quite considerably.

Moving to the fairly unconventional is the Mooncup – a reusable cup made from soft, medical grade silicon that you insert into the lower part of the vagina and it collects the blood.  It forms a seal with the walls of the vagina and so does not leak.  It will last for 4 hours+ when you just empty it into the loo, rinse it out under a tap and reinsert.  It can be used during swimming, exercise, overnight in fact for everything except penetrative sex (obviously!).  And you only need 1!

I heard about Mooncups a couple of years ago and was rather squeamish about them.  It sounded a bit weird, having a little rubbery cup up your vagina, collecting the blood and then having to empty it.  But, chatting to a few friends who love them, I decided to give it a try.

The lovely Mooncup.  Reusable, comfortable and easy to use.

The lovely Mooncup. Reusable, comfortable and easy to use.

I love it.  It is so so so much more comfortable than a tampon as there is no tendency to dryness or falling out during a huge coughing fit (this has happened to me, very embarrassing!).  At times I had to actively remember whether I had it in or not!  Insertion and removal were not difficult at all and even the negative comments from my other-half won’t put me off!  He is quite grossed out by the idea, but then he is by the whole concept of periods.

So, that is me sorted for Sanpro for the next X years until Mother Nature decides I should hit the menopause and experience a whole new set of womenly issues!

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Royal Jelly Combats Hayfever

I developed hayfever when I was 16 and worked in a riding stables over the summer to earn a pittance of pocketmoney and get lots of free rides!  Since then, spring and summer has heralded a snotty nose, streaming eyes and itchy ears (right inside where nothing quite reaches and trying to scratch this incredibly itchy itch is impossible).

Interestingly, I don’t suffer from hayfever in all places – when living in Thailand I never suffered terribly, a bit of itchy ear and that was it!  However, in the UK from birch & conifer pollen early in the spring, through the lovely spring flowers, the beautiful grasses and other tree pollens in the summer I sneeze and snuffle.

Pregnancy did put my snuffles on hold – I’d love to know if anyone else has had a pregnancy holiday from hayfever too!  This is probably not suprising (according to my more scientific sister) as when you are pregnant your immune system is not so active, so you don’t reject the baby.  This lowered sensitivity resulted in no hayfever for me!

A tablet a day is keeping my hayfever at bay

A tablet a day is keeping my hayfever at bay

Chatting with some other business mums last autumn, we talked about allergies and hayfever and how to combat these using more natural methods than the doctor might prescribe.  One mum mentioned Royal Jelly – the product queen bees feast on – and how well this worked for her.

On getting home, I checked the numerous health supplements in my Green Your Life shop and yup, there it was…. Royal Jelly.  Well, at £2.99 for a month’s worth of capsules, I reckoned it was worth a go.

Now 6+ months on, I can report that though it has not completely rid me of all hayfever symptoms (I do get the occassional itchy ear, but nothing like most years when I drive others nuts with the noise I make trying to scratch the itch with my tongue!), most have not occurred this year.  Now, I admit it has not been the best of years for hayfever – cold, damp and generally miserable does not lead to high pollen counts.  However, even on the warmer days we have had I have not been streaming in eye and nose.  I thought this may just be that the pollen types that affect me may not have been in the air on those days, so it was not conclusive.

But then, this week I took the kids down to rural Dorset to see their grandparents.  This gorgeous patch of countryside has one summertime problem for me – huge swathes of yellow oil-seed rape.  Usually one look at those golden fields and my eyes start to water, my nose runs and my ears itch.  This time… a little itching and that was it!

So, for me, it is pretty conclusive.  Royal Jelly is keeping my hayfever at bay.

I will need to keep taking it through the year and it is best to be taking it for a while before spring to let the body build up resistance but I think it is really worth it!

Whilst this is my personal experience, there is no scientific proof for it.  However, the scientists have been busy studying the benefits of Royal Jelly and here is a summary of what they have found:-

  • One study found that royal jelly has the ability to stimulate the growth of neural stem cells and glial cells in the brain, which may mean that it can help prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Studies have found that royal jelly has the ability to lower total serum cholesterol levels in people with moderately elevated cholesterol levels.
  • It is believed to have anti-aging properties, improving collagen production in skin and overall youthfulness.
  • It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties when ingested and when applied topically.
  • Research has found that royal jelly has wound healing properties when applied topically to the skin.
  • Royal Jelly contains an antibiotic called 10-Hydroxy-Dgr2-decenoic acid that is effective against many bacteria.
  • Cancer Research in Japan suggests that royal jelly has strong anti-cancer properties. Croatian researchers found that royal jelly injected into mice at the same time that they were injected with cancer cells significantly reduced the spread of cancer.
  • Royal Jelly is believed to aid in fertility by improving the quality of a woman’s eggs and promoting overall youthfulness of her reproductive organs and body.
  • Many women find that royal jelly relieves many of the symptoms of PMS.IMPORTANT: Before you decide to take royal jelly, be aware that people with allergies to bees or honey may have serious allergic reactions