With the holidays, there are all sorts of things to win on Facebook and Twitter. And I love competing, especially if I have to write poems for it! Last week, I competed to win a small box of VSM stuff. Let me explain: VSM is a brand of homeopathic medicine very popular in the Netherlands. Ever since I was a little girl, sore muscles in our family were treated with Spiroflor jelly, their homeopathic solution. It smells awful, as it should, but is oddly comforting and always appears to help.
So, after waiting for a week, I got the message that, yay (!), I won the gift box. I received it yesterday afternoon, together with a load of holiday candy (which was all gone by 6 am, you can surely understand). In it was a new type of Spiroflor that becomes warm when you put it on your skin, and a Nisyleen throat-spray for when you have a sore throat. Two conditions I suffer quite frequently. So I was very happy!
I’ve always liked Spiroflor, and in my opinion, the VSM products are fine, but when I visited the website today, I discovered that it is all advertised as natural homeopathic medicine. Which is when I decided to take a look at the ingredients. Per 100 grams of jelly, Spiroflor contains 6 grams of Bellis perennis extract (also known as daisy), 2 grams of Spiraea ulmaria extract (meadowsweet) and 10 grams of Arnica montana extract… that’s 18/100 grams of actual working extracts! Some of the other ingredients are naturally necessary for a jelly, such as paraffin and water, but what on earth do these extra ingredients do?
perfume (seriously, why perfume),
methyl nicotinate (which will probably reduce pain, but does not sound very natural),
ascorbic acid and methylparaben (conservatives),
eugenol (something with scent, again),
limonene (fragrant oil from lemon rind, so scent again… but you might also know it from cleaning products),
disodium EDTA (…no clue),
and, finally, linalool (you’d never guess, smell again).
You can see that I am researching as I am writing: perhaps it is all the additives that give Spiroflor such a strange scent. But seriously, how much of this is really natural? I know I’m not allergic to any of the ingredients and that I like the effect, so I’ll continue to use it, but can they really advertise it as natural? Perhaps, considering their working ingredients are from nature.
I would like some alternative, though. A couple of years ago I watched a series with James Wong, an ethnobotanist, who also knew of the compounds in all types of plants and trees, and used that knowledge to make medicine and cosmetics. Loved the series, and it seems so incredibly simple! So perhaps, when I’ve run out of Spiroflor, I’ll try to make my own muscle balm. Daisies and meadowsweet shouldn’t be that hard to find, should they? 😉
- Homeopathy: The Test (BBC Documentary Films) (wchildblog.com)