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Independent health store advice on natural first aid

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at health store Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway.

Building a natural first aid kit for you and your family doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, if you’re clever about what goes into it. There are several plants and herbs that are multi-functional and can save you time and space when putting a first aid kit together. Natural ingredients are kinder to the skin and to the environment, and can work wonders for a multitude of complaints.

Tea tree for example is not only a powerful anti-fungal treatment, it is also antiseptic and anti-bacterial – the perfect addition to any first aid kit. Keep a small bottle of pure tea tree oil with your first aid essentials and use it to repel bugs including head lice, make a home-made hand sanitiser with it or add a few drops to sweaty shoes to kill odours and prevent fungal infections. Tea tree can also be dabbed on blemishes or diluted to make antiseptic wipes for the skin or for worktops, surfaces and car seats.

Manuka honey is another first aid must-have and antibacterial muti-tasker. It is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-viral. This medicinal honey can be eaten directly off the spoon to boost immunity, soothe sore throats, fight off allergies and even reduce mouth ulcers and cold sores. Its strong medicinal properties make manuka ideal for applying to wounds and even external ulcers to sanitise, reduce inflammation and support the overall healing process.

CBD oil has been steadily gaining popularity over the past number of years for its anxiety-reducing properties, with people taking it internally for problems ranging from insomnia to chronic pain. CBD is also available as a topical treatment in oils, gels and balms that can be applied to sore muscles, and works well for rheumatic pain and stiff joints. CBD, which is derived from hemp, is also available in skincare formulations for relief of eczema, psoriasis, acne and dehydrated skin to name a few.

Arnica is another natural remedy often associated with first aid – the homeopathic tablets help to speed up the body’s healing process, with people traditionally taking it to reduce swelling and bruising, or after an injury or even surgery and other medical procedures. It is available in oil, ointment, cream, gel and balm for topical application to help reduce bruising and inflammation as well as easing the pain of sprains, strains and muscular or rheumatic discomfort. Arnica is particularly handy for households with children, as it’s a one-stop-shop for bumps, bruises, grazes, sprains and more!

Lavender oil, although most commonly associated with aromatherapy, is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. When applied to the skin after a burn, sting or insect bite lavender oil’s calming properties reduce redness and give almost immediate relief from the pain. Lavender should be diluted before applying to the skin. Burn lavender oil in a diffuser to help with anxiety or stress or pop a few drops on a hanky under your pillow for a restful sleep.

Silicol gel is a good one for your natural medicine cabinet as it forms a protective coating over the intestines and can give relief to issues such as heartburn, reflux and vomiting, or IBS symptoms such as nausea, flatulence, stomach ache, discomfort and diarrhoea.

What’s What and Who’s Who in Evergreen, Mainguard St

Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway city was the first store to be opened by husband and wife team Aideen and Kieran Hurley back in 1992. “We started out as a delicatessen, but the health food side of the business became more important,” says Aideen. “We always asked our customers what they thought we should stock, and what they thought of stock too.

“At the beginning many of our customers were German and Dutch people who had come to the West of Ireland to live, but now we have a wide range of customers, many of whom are committed to a healthy lifestyle and like to drop in.

“We expanded into the store next door, and then the room upstairs which includes our wide beauty ranges run by Niamh Larkin who has a very in-depth knowledge about natural beauty. Our gift section is also upstairs and we stock incense, candles, aromatherapy oils and other ranges.

“In 1994 we opened a second store, and now have eight in the Galway area. We didn’t set out to have a group of stores, our expansion was more on an ad hoc basis and reflected customer needs. For example. we thought that health stores in shopping centres would be good for customers who drive to do their weekly shop and then drop in at the same time.

“We find that each of our stores has a different personality. Shopping habits have changed and still haven’t got back to the way people shopped in store in 2019. Our online business has been a great success and we are opening a big new warehouse soon.

“I would say our business is over 50% supplements, over 10% skincare and the rest is food. Foodwise we stock a wide range of dried prepacks, jams, spreads, pastas and sauces, biscuits, exotic ingredients and herbs. We have frozen and chilled food sections too.”

VISIT: Evergreen, Mainguard St, Galway
PHONE: (091) 564 215
OPEN: Mon-Thurs 9am-6.30pm, Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 9am-6.30pm, Sun 11am-6pm

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