Lifestyle, respiratory perils and cold comforts
Respiratory perils are all too common especially as we live through the Covid-19 health pandemic. Seasonal coughs and colds, sneezing, itchy noses and throats, asthma, or maybe living with a partner who snores are common respiratory troubles. Worse still they can impact on our sleep and affect our daytime quality of life. But how many of us stop to think what may be causing our respiratory woes beyond allergies and simply catching a cold? Could it be something to do with the way we live in our increasingly urban indoor environments?
A new Puressentiel report - HOW TO ACHIEVE DEEP SLEEP AND BREATHE EASY - The latest science on sleep and respiration would suggest that the answer is yes. The new report reveals that more than two thirds of us don’t stop to think about the poor quality of indoor air and the impact this has on our respiratory problems.
Respiratory perils and indoor air
Almost half (47%) of those surveyed by the makers of evidence backed essential oils, Puressentiel, had concerns about outdoor air quality. Yet, despite spending more time inside, only a third (32%) worried about air quality inside their homes.
The Puressentiel data suggest poor air quality is a problem, with:
One in five (22%) reporting unexplained respiratory symptoms.
Only a third (35%) taking any measures to improve air quality in their homes — and in most cases (71%) this consists of nothing more than opening windows.
More than a quarter (29%) using an air freshener spray and a similar number (27%) lighting candles, both of which actually add to airborne pollution and irritants.
Being able to breathe easily is vital for our health and even impacts on our sleep. In fact, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing are often a cornerstone of strategies to improve sleep patterns and produce positive physiological changes which promote sleep.
Dr Gill Jenkins, GP explains: “Controlled, deep breathing taps into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the polar opposite of the sympathetic nervous system that drives our fight-or-flight response. Tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system promotes relaxation, and sleep, because it turns down high-energy functions, such as alertness, associated with our survival responses.
“However, this is not the only link between rest and respiration. As anyone who has a partner who snores knows well, anything which impairs breathing will have a huge impact on our sleep.”
Unexplained respiratory troubles
The new Puressentiel report provides fresh data on other common respiratory woes too, including pollution, allergies, and seasonal coughs and colds.
Almost half of those surveyed (47%) by Puressentiel had, for no apparent reason, experienced sneezing, coughs or an itchy throat or eyes — classic signs of allergy or infection — while in their homes. Almost a quarter (22%) reported unexplained respiratory symptoms.
A common trigger is house dust mites — which trigger both asthma and skin allergies. Experts estimate that one in four people is now sensitised to dust mites, and there is no escaping them. A typical mattress contains tens of thousands of them and a square metre of carpet could be home to as many as 100,000 mites.
Spores from mould and fungus are another known, and sometimes visible, irritant. Professor Naomichi Yamamoto, an expert in aero- and fungal-biology at Yale University, says: “Exposure to fungal allergens is considered to be a strong risk factor for asthma symptom prevalence and severity, and there is robust evidence to support a relationship between elevated environmental fungal spore counts and asthma attacks.”
Asthma UK recently issued warnings about spores, and awareness of this problem often peaks in early autumn. Dr Nisa Aslam, GP says: “This may be because symptoms can’t be brushed off as hay fever, but it is too early for seasonal coughs and colds to be widespread.”
The Puressentiel data confirms consumers are increasingly alert to this risk, with 55% routinely checking for black spores and mould around windows. By comparison, data collected for Puressentiel just two years ago, found only 41% of consumers regularly cleaned around windows to prevent mould.
Dr Chris Etheridge, medical herbalist says: “Puressentiel has been at the forefront of raising consumer awareness of the risks of poor air quality and indoor pollutants such as mould and it’s encouraging to see more people are actively looking for signs of a problem.
“But, as the latest findings around usage of air fresheners and candles confirm, there is still a long way to go in terms of increasing awareness of strategies, such as proven essential oil products, which tackle the source of the problem.”
While there is understandable concern and uncertainty about what winter will bring in terms of COVID-19, we are set to see the usual spike in coughs and respiratory infections caused by the more familiar variants of the coronavirus which are associated with the common cold.
Dr Nisa Aslam says: “Better hygiene and hand-washing techniques do reduce transmission of everyday infections such as coughs, colds and stomach bugs.
“But as the months go on with living with Covid, is it vital we don’t relax our guard when it comes to hygiene, although some people maybe doubting and questioning the hygiene heritage. What is not, is the ongoing need for risk reduction measures — and essential oils offer an attractive, sustainable and effective approach.”
More than half (53%) of those surveyed confirmed they usually catch a cold during winter, and a quarter (24%) succumb to three or more infections. Paracetamol (66%) and ibuprofen (51%) are most commonly used to manage symptoms, but 49% also used drinks containing paracetamol.
Dr Nisa Aslam says: “This is potentially dangerous as using more than one product containing paracetamol increases the risk of accidental overdose — which can damage the liver, or even result in death.”
Three out of five (60%) of those surveyed were concerned they would not be able to distinguish symptoms of seasonal colds and flu from a mild bout of the coronavirus. A similar number (62%) admit they will also be more worried by cough and cold symptoms as a result of the pandemic.
Shockingly, only three quarters (77%) said they will self isolate at the first sign of symptoms. Dr Chris Etheridge notes: “With nearly a quarter admitting they were prepared to spread infections, it is inevitable that coughs, colds and respiratory infections will be in wide circulation.”
Puressentiel’s Respiratory range offers effective, proven, natural relief for symptoms such as nasal congestion. And here is how the evidence stacks up:
Puressentiel Respiratory Nasal Spray Decongestant, combines a 100% natural sterile saline solution which moistens and softens blocked nasal mucosa. It contains hypertonic sea water and organic rosemary floral water plus the organic essential oils - eucalyptus radiata, rosat geranium, niaouli, ravintsara - for gentle, non-irritant and non-drying action on the nasal mucous membrane. This decongestant product also contains propolis and echinacea extracts.
An intervention trial in 31 adults with a history of nasal congestion caused by allergic rhinitis confirmed benefits across five measures after eight days of use:
Redness: 84% of participants reported benefits, with an average improvement of 67%
Oedema: 84% reported benefits, with an average reduction in symptoms of 83%
Thickness of mucosal membranes was reduced in 72% of participants, with an average improvement of 46%
Secretions: 97% of participants reported less runniness, with an average reduction in secretions of 81%
Dryness of mucosa improved in 13% of participants, with an average improvement of 92%.
By the fifth day of the trial, 97% of
participants said they thought their nasal cavities had been cleansed naturally. The same number said pain was reduced and they could breathe more easily. Two-thirds of participants scored it nine or 10 out of 10.
Last year, a 30-day trial, in 43 patients with chronic nasal obstruction associated with allergic rhinitis reported similarly strong benefits.
Crucially, this was in addition to any relief they were getting from other medicines. Of the 40 patients who provided these details, 88% were already using antihistamines, 65% were using local corticosteroids, another 18%.
70% reported symptom control at the end of the trial, compared to 14% at the start.
On average nasal peak flow — the amount of air which can be inhaled or expelled through the nose — increased from 86.5 litres per minute to 105.1 litres per minute: a 26% improvement.
Puressentiel Resp OKÒ Chest Rub combines 19 essential oils including tea tree, two species of lavender (Lavender and Lavandin grosso), peppermint and eucalyptus to produce a clinically proven decongestant rub. A 20-day trial in 20 adults found:
91% reported the scent allowed them to breathe freely
77% confirmed the rub had a soothing and calming effect
82% said it improved respiratory wellbeing
The rub was well tolerated, with 96% saying it left their skin feeling soft
Puressentiel Resp OKÒ Massage Balm combines 19 essential oils including two species of lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus and clove to produce a clinically proven decongestant balm.
A 20-day trial in 25 children aged eight to 17 with rhinitis or bronchitis showed:
Improvements in respiratory symptoms and sleep especially among kids and teenagers (8-17years old) by 96% - total reported improvement after 7 days.
Significant reductions in the use of prescription antibiotics, bronchodilators and corticosteroids
Puressentiel Respiratory Air Spray
A unique blend of essential oils which should be used at the first signs of winter discomfort or seasonal sensitivities. It contains 19 essential oils which help soothe the airways and ease congestion: anise, bay St Thomas, cajeput, Atlas cedarwood, lemon, clove, cypress, eucalyptus, Lavandula officinalis, lavandin grosso, peppermint, niaouli, oregano, Sylvestris pine, ravintsara, rosemary, sage officinale, tea tree and thyme.
This all-round spray is free from preservatives and propellant gas and can be used to reduce the risk of respiratory symptoms and bring relief when they arise.
It can be used in three ways:
• For atmospheric use, at home or work, spray 4 to 6 sprays into ambient air.
• For dry inhalation, on the move or when symptoms first strike, 2 to 3 sprays on a handkerchief or tissue, to be breathed in.
• For wet inhalation, to ease airways and relieve decongestion, 2 to 3 sprays into a bowl of simmering water, inhale the vapours for 10 to 15 minutes.
New Pureessentiel Respiratory Protective Nasal Spray is a registered medical device. It uses eucalyptus oil, sea water and a natural film-forming agent to provide an immediate and long-lasting barrier against allergens. Clinically proven to last for four hours. RRP £11.99 (20ml)