The last time I went to see my acupuncturist, he took a look at my tongue, pressed his pointer finger into my jumpy pulse, then said, “You’re burning the candle at both ends.” Busted! And totally true.
One thing I’ve learned with a little age is that my body reacts very quickly to stress and poor self-care. All it takes is a couple of bad nights’ sleep, one too many nights out, or a few weeks of not really paying attention and woooooomp. I get a bug.
Pain in the butt as it is, I sort of like it this way because it keeps me in check. I have friends who can do just about anything to their body and bounce back like it’s nothing (jalouse!), but some people (moi!) need a certain amount of routine and rest to feel their best. Easy to say, hard to do, and when I don’t, I pay for it. Like I am now.
Problem is, I’m scared of pretty much all OTC drugs except Advil (and sunscreen), so when the boy kindly asked me if he could get me any medicine this weekend, my first thought was: “But I don’t take medicine!” Which, on its face, is ridiculous. If you feel bad and something can make you feel better…
Right. So for me, that’s where propolis comes in.
Propolis is a resin that bees collect from trees and other plants to seal up holes and gaps in their hive. That’s not all it does, though. Propolis is also used by bees to fight bacterial growth, disease and parasites—and human, cleverly taking cues from the bees, use the stuff for all kinds of infections, bugs, fungi, viruses etc. And we’ve been doing that for approximately 2,500 years.
The research on it says that in certain formulations it can be powerfully antibacterial and antifungal, can be used for canker sores and herpes, as well as other kinds of infection and inflammation. A recent study also showed it to be as effective as prescription drugs on toenail fungus, which, if you have toenail fungus, could be good news. It may also be an immunostimulant.
As is often the case with plant medicine, the studies about the stuff are mostly small and inconclusive. Very promising, though, if you ask me.
And no, I can’t be sure that propolis shortens the length of my colds or prevents them from spreading and worsening… But considering my colds typically last about 3 days and never get that bad, it certainly seems to work for me.
So what about you guys? Do you look forward to getting a cold so you can take Nyquil? Do you use homeopathic stuff? What’s worked for you?
Disclaimer: This post is based purely on my anecdotal experience, and is written by a person who does really dumb things sometimes. Follow any advice herein at your own risk.
The preeminent rule of skincare is this: When you have a cyst—i.e. an owie under-the-skinner—you do not touch it. Hell, you don’t even look at it the wrong way, let alone rub your grubby fingers on it.
A few days ago I was following this rule. I had a hormonal guy growing deep beneath the surface of my chin, and for the first few days I dutifully ignored it. But then, who knows when—I was probably watching TV or being otherwise distracted—I somehow got to poking and prodding it a bit. And lo and behold, the next morning I woke up to a painful, red and pulsey protrusion.
Sorry guys, if you’re easily grossed out it’s earmuffs time.
At some point later that day I decided that what had really happened was that the cyst was coming to the surface (how nice of it!) and I would totally be able to lance it and be done with the thing. Lance, by the by, is the fancy word for pop with a needle.
For no good reason (it never works) I did this, and—surprise!—made matters so much worse. My friend was now infected: I could feel it spreading under the skin—swollen, painful, and soon to be a likely candidate for antibiotics. I’m not exaggerating: I have taken antibiotics more than once for infected cysts. Clearly I have a propensity for the things, and for rubbing them the wrong way.
Ok the gross ends there. In a preemptive attack to avoid the antibiotics here is what I did yesterday.
1. Topical Advil: Again, to be very clear, I don’t know if any skincare specialist would recommend this but when I have a swollen thing on my face I will sometimes turn to the anti-inflammatory properties of Ibuprofen (a.k.a. Advil). Here’s what I do: I cut the pill in half with a very sharp knife, run it under some water, and then scrape out some of the inside powder and apply it directly to the spot, letting it dry there for 20 minutes or so. If something is really infected (like yesterday), this isn’t going to make it much better—but it does reduce a bit of the pain and swelling and generally makes me feel less aware of the beast. Which is nice.
2. Clay: I was working from home, so after the Advil, I put on the Evan Healy Green Tea Clay, still a big favorite of ours. Both Evan and my father (who is a doctor and has helped treat these awful bumps of mine before) recommend clay for cysts. Clay helps bring to the surface all the bad stuff, which once you’ve done what I did is kind of your only choice. I spent most of yesterday with a big green spot on my chin.
3. Propolis: Last night, I took the cyst to Whole Foods and we bought some propolis together. We’ve talked about propolis over at GOOD: It’s the antimicrobial resin that bees use to sterilize their hives, and it’s been shown to do some pretty amazing things for humans too—like help kill cold sores. So, as my final act before bed, I drowned my spot in propolis (which dries in a weird sticky way, like apple juice would) and tried to get a good night’s rest.
It ain’t pretty—because now it looks scabby and dry—but I most definitely managed to kill the infection! The pain is gone and so is the swelling, which makes me feel like me and my friend are on our way to recovery. Now I will use much kinder tactics to heal the damage I’ve done—argan oil, Egyptian Magic, and some honey.
Here’s hoping that some of you will reveal equally weird (but maybe sometimes effective) things you do in your bathroom. The floor is yours!