Natural treatments to deal with headlice and what cracks on your tongue may tell you about your health,
Q. My children were successfully treated for headlice earlier this year but I’m concerned about a recurrence during their summer camps.
I am sure the headlice themselves are becoming resistant to the usual shampoos and treatment products.
What natural natural treatments would you suggest?
A. Headlice are tiny, only about 2mm-4mm long, but the mere mention of these creatures is usually enough to have everybody in the room scratching their heads.
Contrary to popular myths, they have no preference either way for clean or dirty hair, and they crawl from head to head rather than hopping or jumping.
The current trend for children to sit and play hand-held computer games alongside each other in a huddle is the perfect situation for continual reinfestation.
The eggs are called nits and are typically found in clusters near the nape of the neck and behind the ears — although they can in fact appear throughout the hair, particularly in more severe cases.
Adult female lice lay four or five eggs daily, close to the scalp so that they can have easy access to blood once they have hatched. It takes around eight days for an egg to hatch, and then they live for about five weeks.
The good news is that they will only survive for about a day or two away from their food supply, although you will need to change bed linen, towels, and clothing regularly to help break the cycle.
They only live on humans, so at least we don’t have to worry about reinfestation via household pets.
A few drops of tea tree, lavender, or eucalyptus essential oil on hairbrushes helps prevent infestation and will go some way towards reducing numbers of hatched adults and eggs in cases of infestation.
The old remedy of combing through the hair with brown vinegar also seems to work well in terms of killing off decent numbers of lice and nits, plus it gives a lovely shine to the hair.
Blowdrying the hair for five minutes each day will also help to eradicate both the lice and their eggs.
Neem oil is the most effective natural remedy I have come across, both as a treatment and preventative. Used medicinally in Indian culture for thousands of years, neem also has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and wound-healing properties.
While Neem is suitable for most family members over the age of two, Neem-based products should be avoided during pregnancy.
When using this product with children, it is easiest to apply the product to your own hands and then rub onto the child’s skin. It has a pungent smell, but leaves the hair in fantastic condition once it has been washed out.
For any treatment to work effectively (natural or otherwise), the parents will need to sit down and painstakingly work through the hair removing and killing every louse and egg that they can find on a nightly basis until they no longer find any bugs. It is a good idea to nominate a day of the week for regular maintenance checks.
Q. I have obvious cracks on my tongue, and although I feel otherwise healthy, their appearance bothers me.
Is there anything that will help get rid of them?
A. Tongue diagnosis is a key tool for assessing internal health in both Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.
A healthy tongue should be a pleasant pink colour, without build-up, discolouration, ridges, patches, furrows, bumps or swelling.
The position of the cracks, along with other symptoms will give an indication as to which system(s) are affected.
The front is associated with the heart and liver, the middle with the stomach, the sides with the liver and kidneys, and the base with the bowels.
A dry tongue with many splits can often indicate anaemia, diabetes, fever, and diarrhoea.
I would suggest that you go to an Ayurvedic or traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who will give you a more comprehensive analysis and holistic treatment plan.
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