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On the pulse.

With more than 36 million people leaving the country each year for their holidays, the National Blood Service is urging those planning trips to exotic destinations this summer to give blood before they go.

Holidaymakers who travel to many resorts in Africa and the Far East for instance will be disqualified from blood donation for one year following their return.

The Give Before You Go campaign aims to ensure that hospital blood stocks are not adversely affected by the decrease in donors due to holidays.

Liz Reynolds, director of public and customer services for the National Blood Service, said: 'The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of giving blood before going on holiday.

'Every day we need to collect ten thousand donations of blood across England and North Wales to make sure that all the patients in hospitals get the life-saving treatments they require.

'It is vital that we tell people that giving blood should be on their to-do list alongside buying your sun tan lotion and getting your passport.'

Donors can ring the 24-hour National Donor Helpline on 0845 7 711711 for details of venues and times for their nearest blood donation session.

New donors are needed throughout the country. If you are aged between 17 and 60 years of age, in general good health and weigh more than 50kg, you could support the campaign.

Just call the donor helpline to find out where you can donate your first summer pint.

Hayfever season is upon us once again and although over-the-counter remedies are available, many people would prefer to try alternative treatments.

Ian Taylor, training manager for GNC Health and Diet Centres, says: 'Herbal, homoeopathic and dietary alternatives can provide relief without side-effects, so they can be taken individually or as a combination throughout the season.

'I would recommend that people try different remedies until they find one that suits them.'

In studies, nettle has been shown to reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, the inflamed and runny nose that sufferers know so well. It also has a mild anti-histamine effect.

A blend of garlic, horse radish and ginger in tincture form helps ease breathing, reduces nasal congestion and boost the immune system.

Homoeopathy treat like with like so, although it seems strange, homoeopathic pollen can actually help de-sensitise sufferers.

As for dietary supplements, vitamin C boosts the immune system and has an antihistamine effect. Vitamin B5 helps with immune function, as does Quercetin.

Ian says: 'No single remedy works for everyone. Nettle tincture and vitamin C is a good combination to start with.

'Sufferers should also avoid food they are sensitive to - dairy produce is a major culprit, as catarrh formation is a common allergic response to cow's milk.

'Where flowers are a chief cause of irritation, sufferers may benefit from eating locally produced honey before the season starts.

'Made with pollen gathered from the local flowers that cause the problem, honey helps to build resistance.'

If you think of curries as being the ultimate in unhealthy fare, perhaps it is time to take a trip to the Rupali restaurant in Tile Hill Lane, Coventry, where chef and owner Rois Ali is the only Indian chef in the country to have won a national Heartbeat award for his contribution to healthy eating.

He is also the National Curry Chef of the Year and tries to find tasty alternatives to the fat-laden dishes so often churned out by curry houses.

Leading mental health charity Mind wants to encourage people to apply for almost pounds 1 million in grants which it has to give out to those with mental health problems.

Under a new scheme, Real Lives, Real People, Mind is helping people who have difficulty accessing training or employment to arm themselves with new skills.

Mind welcomes application from everyone who has experienced mental distress who would like to learn new skills.

Real Lives, Real People will run until March 2003. To apply call the awards team on 020 8215 2286.


Heading for exotic beaches? Give blood before you go
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 2, 2001
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