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Rude Wonders

Ask Away: independent health store advice on holiday essentials

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 Aimee Kitten who has a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, a diploma in massage therapy and works in Health Matters in Dublin’s Grafton St.


Working in a health store can be very seasonal and during the summer months we are asked for lots of different summer remedies.

When customers ask for something to prevent insect bites we recommend 300-500mg a day of vitamin B1/ thiamine. This works for most people and for those that it doesn’t, taking a garlic supplement can be effective. Both of these supplements work by changing the odour given off from the body through the sweat glands, helping to repel insects. We also stock a number of natural insect repellents containing either neem or citronella oils, natural plant oils that deter insects. Citronella can also be burnt in candles and oil burners. Another essential oil to use if you have been bitten is lavender. When applied undiluted to a bite it takes away the sting and the itch.

As no one likes to suffer from sunburn we can recommend beta carotene, one of the carotenoids, to our customers to help to prepare the skin for the sun. Beta carotene increases a pigment in the skin called melanin which then gives the skin the tanned appearance. It can also help to prolong any tan that you may get. Another of the carotenoids – astaxanthin – is useful in cases of prickly heat. We would suggest taking this remedy if you are prone to the condition and before exposure to the sun. If, however, you do get burnt aloe vera gel is an excellent remedy, both for cooling the burn and repairing the damaged skin. Another great thing to have to hand during the summer is a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of pure lavender oil. It cools down sunburnt skin and can be used alongside aloe vera if needed. All of these remedies are no substitute for a good sunscreen applied regularly throughout the day. We stock natural mineral-based sun factors for people who don’t want to use a synthetic SPF.

There are a number of remedies for dehydration but the most important thing you can do is make sure it never gets to that point. We always recommend that people drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid drinks which can dehydrate such as coffee, tea and alcohol. Coconut water is full of natural electrolytes and can prevent and treat dehydration. We also stock a supplement that contains vitamin C and electrolytes and is handy to pack when you’re travelling.

When on holiday there is nothing worse than illness. There are some remedies you can bring with you to cover any minor holiday illness. Ginger is a good remedy for travel sickness and also for nausea. For an upset stomach or bloating we always recommend a probiotic. This can even be taken before you travel to help to prevent an upset stomach. Another product we sell which can be great for travelling is a liquid sachet of pureed papaya. It can settle a stomach and also contains natural digestive enzymes for when you have that full stomach feeling. If you are suffering from more than just nausea we have a probiotic which is great in cases of diarrhoea, it contains a form of yeast called saccharomyces cerevisiae which is excellent at recognising and removing foreign micro-organisms in the body and eliminating them.

Who's who and what's what at Health Matters

Liz Beattie has been the manager of Health Matters in Grafton St since it opened 10 years ago. “Our store is right in the heart of the southside shopping district of Dublin opposite Weirs jewellers and Brown Thomas. We have six very knowledgeable and helpful staff.

“We have good passing trade and tourists due to our location, but we would know more than half of our customers by name and they know us too. We run a customer loyalty scheme with a card. Lunchtime is our busiest time of day as well as Thursday late night shopping and Sundays too.

“We mainly focus on supplements and bodycare. Our most popular products at the moment include coconut oil, spirulina, wheatgrass and barleygrass, hyaluronic acid for skin and joints and omega 3s.

“We would sell more high-end products in the bodycare end of the market including face creams and body products. We find that there is a growing interest in natural body products – people research them on the internet then come in looking for what they want. Sometimes trends can be quite faddish. Recently there was a rush on matcha tea with Trinity College students for example.

“Our USP is top quality customer service and product knowledge.”

Visit: Health Matters, 8 Grafton St, Dublin 2
SPEAK TO: Manager Liz Beattie, Una McAleer kineosiologist, Ruth McLoughlin aromatherapist and acupuncturist, and Aimee Kitten.
OR BUY: Online at www.healthmatters.ie

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