Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the Natural Trade Show and Total CAM Show which are being jointly held at the Harrogate International Centre. I say lucky because I was able to see a number of talks on natural health issues by some great
speakers, and also because I actually live in Harrogate (in Yorkshire, England) so attending the show didn't involve any waking up early or travelling on a Sunday!
The Natural Trade Show (NTS) and Total CAM Show (TCS) are now held annually in both Brighton and Harrogate. The NTS provides an opportunity for the health food and supplement industries in the UK to show their products to retailers, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners, and others involved in natural health. The TCS provides a forum for prominent figures in the natural health field to educate and share their expertise with CAM practitioners who are required to attend a specific number of such events every year to earn professional development points and maintain professional body membership and insurance eligibility.
I was able to attend the shows both as an "independent retailer" as a result of selling products from this site, and as A CAM student as this month I start studying for a bachelor's degree in nutritional therapy. I was quite amused by the tag of "independent retailer" as I consider The Environmental Illness Resource site to be an information site. The store really is only a minimal part of it and it really doesn't earn much money!
My main interest in attending was to listen to a few of the talks that were being presented. Not surprisingly, the one that I knew I must see after first seeing the schedule of speakers was entitled 'How to have a natural/eco home'. This talk was given by Janey Lee Grace who is something of a national radio personality here in the UK and has done a fantastic job of raising awareness of the health dangers of everyday chemical products and giving people natural and safe alternatives.
Janey focused mainly on alternatives to the usual chemical domestic cleaning products that fill the cupboards in most people's kitchens. She emphasized how good simple items such as baking soda and lemon juice can be as multipurpose cleaners and that using these in place of chemical products will save you a lot of money as well! The audience seemed most interested by the alternatives to laundry detergents that Janey discussed. These included 'laundry balls' which are totally chemical free and are said to clean clothing both by ionizing the water and through the mechanical pounding action they produce while being spun in the machine with the clothing. Janey also talked about another laundry detergent alternative that I had never come across myself before, 'soap nuts'. Soap nuts are actually the fruit of a tree that grows throughout India. There are many varieties of 'soap nut tree' including the common Sapindus Mukrossi and Sapindus Trifoliatus. The magic of the fruit of the soap nut tree is that when soaked in water they produce saponins, in other words, soap! A few soap nuts placed in a muslin bag or even in a sock tied at the end and placed in the washing machine reportedly will clean your clothes as well as any chemical detergent. I have just "Googled" for "soap nuts" and found a very large number of online stores offering big bags of them for very low prices. Janey said they would save people a lot of money and from what I have seen so far she may well be right. I will give them a go in the near future and let you know how good of a substitue they are for laundry detergents!
I did see some other talks at the show, including one on methylation presented by Patrick Holford, founder of The Optimum Nutrition Institute in London which trains the majority of nutritional therapists here in the UK. Methylation is an important chemical process in the body which plays a large role in the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). Without effective methylation levels of these neurotransmitters can drop and result in depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional symptoms. There are a group of nutritional supplements called 'methyl donors' which can increase methylation and treat these conditions. Methyl donors include folic acid, vitamin B12, SAMe and trimethyl glycine (TMG). Low levels of methyl donors particularly folic acid and vitamin B12 have been found in environmental illnesses so if you suffer from poor mood and mental function it is probably worth having your levels checked or having a trial of methyl donor supplements.
Of course along with attending the talks I did enjoy working around the stands at the natural trade show and sampling the natural foods on offer. There were some delicious pasta and curry sauces with none of the usual additives!
About: Matthew Hogg ("Maff")
Diagnosed with M.E./chronic fatigue syndrome aged only 11 years old and subsequently associated illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Despite his own struggles he has constantly sought to educate and support others suffering from such "invisible illnesses" through his website, The Environmental Illness Resource. He fully recovered from MCS using his own approach and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Health.