Toothbrush Sanitiser

Toothbrush Sanitiser

They say you should replace your toothbrush every month or so, and even sooner if you have been suffering from a sore throat or other mouth-related problems.

This sounds like perfectly good advice, as – if you think about it – just rinsing off your brush after using it means bacteria from your mouth mostly stays on the bristles, ready to re-infect you next time.

(Pause to imagine how disgusting that sounds…)

Short of using a new toothbrush every day, putting it through the dishwasher on a regular basis, or installing one of those ultraviolet disinfecting machines you see at clinics and salons, there isn’t much to do about this apart from stifling your imagination and hoping for the best.

Unless this entertaining device I found recently actually works…

From Dr Tungs, a brand I have never heard of before, it’s a snap-on toothbrush sanitiser that claims to use natural essential oils to kill germs and neutralise bacterial growth on your toothbrush. A small disc attaches to a regular toothbrush cover, with tiny holes on the inside surface which apparently release disinfecting vapours.

For S$6.50, you get a cover with a disc attached, plus 2 extra discs. Each disc lasts 2 months so this gives you 6 months protection – not a bad deal!

The packet says the disc contains one or more of lemon, lime, peppermint, tea tree and thyme oils, which surprised me slightly. I mean, is there not a consistent recipe, or would any of these oils do the same job by themselves?

The disc in my toothbrush cover smells very like it contains tea tree oil, and I was slightly concerned that this would be overpowering as I cleaned my teeth. So far, though, although the brush does smell when I take it from the cover, giving it a rinse and applying toothpaste makes any potential taste undetectable.

I’m not saying this works, and I’m not sure how I would be able to tell either way, but there appears to be no harm in continuing to give it a try.

Chilli Pain Patch

Applying chilli in any form onto a sore patch does not sound like a very good idea – you’d imagine it would only make things hurt more. Perhaps that is part of the plan – by giving yourself something else to complain about, you will forget the original problem.

Still, I was intrigued by the idea and the packaging of this Taiwanese product. There are drawings of chillies and the warning that it is ‘strong’, but as I was travelling light and had left most of my medical kit behind, this seemed like it was worth trying following a minor but annoying injury.

The patch itself is fairly large but can be cut to size and the remainder saved for another day. It is really just an enormous sticking plaster with air holes punched in, and the adhesive side coloured red – presumably just for show but it certainly reminds you this contains chilli!

So I stuck a piece over my pulled muscle and tried to get on with my day. I have to say, though, that I could not tolerate this for very long. There was an immediate and unnerving tingling sensation then it all became very hot. After about an hour, my skin turned bright red, not only underneath the patch but all around it, too. When I peeled the plaster off, the whole area became even hotter and very painful indeed. Then it all died away and although my skin stayed red for hours, I actually felt a lot better.

Maybe it does work. I did not throw away the rest of the plaster, and will have to give it another try.

Breath and Belly Mints

This is a breath freshener with a difference – a tiny bead within a bead which promises to freshen up not only your mouth but also your belly. You can even play a ‘maze’ game with the beads inside their packet, as their name – Nude – stands up in big letters on the base.

Nude comes from Japanese pharmaceutical company Morishita Jintan, and is available in several flavours, but each of them works in the same way. When you pop the bead into your mouth, the outer gelatin layer dissolves to give a very strong minty flavour. The inner bead has a thicker coating, and you are supposed to swallow that so it dissolves in your stomach. This apparently allows the essential herb extract oil inside to work on the contents of your gut and prevent further bad breath from forming.

It’s an ingenious idea, and whilst I can’t say I am sure the second bead really does work as advertised, I certainly felt it had a big effect on my breath and the general feeling of freshness in my mouth.

I bought these in Thailand but will be looking out for more when I visit Japan next week.

Water Massage

So, there you are on a shopping spree in the mall, needing a pick-me-up. A massage would be perfect, but you don’t have the time or the inclination to check into a spa, strip off and end up an hour later slick with scented oil.

Many places run a thriving trade in 10 minute shoulder massages or coin operated foot massage machines – this comes somewhere in between and is highly entertaining to boot.

The water massage machine is a large metal pod in which you lie down, fully clothed and protected by a thick rubber sheet, whilst being pummelled by jets of water. It works a treat, and you emerge invigorated but unscathed.

Not that the sensation isn’t completely weird, however. It is somewhat disconcerting to be shut inside the massage capsule in the first place, even though the end is open so your head is more or less in the open air.

Then the sensation of being under the great sprays of water whilst remaining completely dry is very odd – like trying to shower through the curtain, or walking in a river in waders.

It is also incredibly noisy as the water pounds against the thick rubber sheet, which is why you wear ear protectors.

But a 10 minute blast is a lot of fun and at £10, well worth it for the amusement value as well as the invigorating effect. We tried this in London’s Westfield and would do it again any time.

Mohito Toothpaste

Yes, you read that right, although I have to stress that this toothpaste does not contain alcohol, just the lime and mint combination which might make you feel that it does.

And a very strange combination it is in connection with cleaning your teeth. It gave me that slightly guilty feeling that comes from doing something like eating a muffin for ‘breakfast’ when you know that really, it’s dessert.

The strange opaque ‘colour’ of the toothpaste and the somewhat unsettling smell do not help either, although I am sure it does a great job in actually cleaning your teeth.

Daughter #2 tried it and said: “It’s not actually that bad but I think I need to clean my teeth again properly, now.”

This, needless to say, was another little something strange I picked up in Korea…

Ear Floss

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Opinions differ in how best to treat pierced ears. Some people swear by surgical spirit, others say that salt water is good enough, and the shops that actually do the piercings (obviously) want to sell you some very expensive care product in a bottle so big there is no way you will use it all before the expiry date.

It’s a problem, albeit a small one, as ears and earrings need cleaning if you are to avoid any annoying infections.

So I particularly liked these 2 items which I bought in Shibuya – a spray cleaner designed to reach the smallest crevice of your earrings, not to mention the insides of your butterfly earring backs, and  especially, the PiaFloss.

This is something of a design masterpiece – hold it one way up and remove the lid to find needle thin sticks of what is probably stiffened thread. Turn the tube the other way up and unscrew the end, and you will find a reservoir of what smells very much like surgical spirit. You soak the sticks you need in there, then push them carefully through the holes in your ears. There you are – sterilised inside as well as out. Genius!

Hot Bath Salts

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The Japanese love their hot baths, and such are the health giving properties of soaking up to your neck in a communal tub, chatting and relaxing, that heavily subsidised public bath houses are still found in most neighbourhoods.

For those who prefer to bathe in privacy, or who fancy spicing up their dip with bubbles and salts, there are countless exciting products on sale.

Amongst them I found this, a sachet of ‘hot’ salts which promised a 20 minute soak that was as good for you as 2 hours of strenuous exercise.

Daughter #2, fresh off a 12 hour plane ride and keen to feel better without actually working for it, volunteered to give these a try. Perhaps she should have left it a day or two longer, because a combination of exhaustion, jet lag, and the unaccustomed experience of spending time in hot water in an already steamy climate, left her fit for nothing but 16 hours asleep…

Acai Bowl

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For such a small berry, the acai packs a big punch. And, as it comes from the rainforests of South America, it also carries a fairly hefty price tag.

The acai bowl is one of the dishes that Brazil is famous for, and daughter #1 was very excited to have the chance to try it on the beach in Rio. Sadly, she was very disappointed (her comments are largely unprintable…)

When I found small packets of acai berries on sale in Singapore and tried to make a bowl myself at home, I understood exactly what she meant. The berries come frozen, and if you defrost them completely they turn into a ghastly brown mush.

Fortunately, there are now a couple of places here which are dedicated to serving acai bowls as they should be – with the berries still frozen but broken up into a texture like granita. Served with artfully arranged fresh fruit, granola, bee pollen, chia seeds, coconut shavings and cacao nibs, this becomes a delicious treat.

Not to mention ridiculously healthy. The acai is full of antioxidants and omegas 3, 6 and 9, which are supposed to fight free radicals, prevent all sorts of problems including heart disease and cancer, and even boost energy whilst delaying signs of aging. As if all that wasn’t enough, they are low GI, vegan, and manage to make you feel full after eating just a small portion.

I can certainly vouch for that last part – a small bowl, costing only S$6.80, is more than an adequate substitute for lunch and leaves me feeling particularly virtuous.

Pebble Reflexology

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In traditional Chinese medicine, meridian lines running through the body are supposed to connect various parts whilst providing a pathway for energy. Problems in one area can therefore be helped by massage or acupuncture in a different area, unblocking the energy flow and boosting health.

It is an idea which has become very popular in alternative medicine worldwide, and Western scientists have discovered there can be great health benefits from certain TCM practices.

Reflexology, or massaging the feet to stimulate the pressure points along the meridians, is one of these, and it is not unusual to find carefully constructed pebble paths in European parks so that people can give themselves a DIY reflexology session as they take a constitutional stroll.

You can also buy special sandals with pebbles fixed into the soles, as you can see from the photo of the ones I bought ages ago at a Festival of Mind, Body and Spirit in London.

Here in Singapore, many public parks have areas of different shaped pebbles where you can often see people walking up and down barefoot. Like the tai chi practise that goes on every morning, it’s one more way for the older generation to stay healthy.

Like many things which are good for you, however, it is hard to remember to do it on a regular basis… especially when – like this one – it can be pretty painful. I may have to grit my teeth and give it another go!

Titanium Balls

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Necklaces and wristbands containing microballs of pure titanium have been popular among athletes for quite a while – the theory is that something in this precious metal balances out the electrical impulses in your body when you are injured, exhausted or stressed. There is little scientific proof that this works, but sometimes the placebo effect is all that matters.

Titanium is very expensive, however, so buying one of the branded versions is not really a spur of the moment, ‘let’s see if this helps’ sort of thing.

But then I saw these stick on balls in Daiso, the Japanese equivalent to the Pound Store, and thought that I’d give them a try.

According to the packet: ‘If the body’s natural bioelectric current is disturbed, it tends to leave various unpleasant symptoms’ including all sorts of aches, pains and general ill health. The way to use these plasters, each small disc holding a 1.2mm titanium ball in place, is to centre them on the meridian points of the area which is giving you trouble. Small diagrams helpfully point out where these points are, but I suggest you ask a friend to help you position the more inaccessible ones such as those on your shoulder blades.

I stuck all 10 of these on in various places, most specifically on a foot that has still not fully recovered from falling off a dodgy pavement in Manila. The plasters stayed on 3 days, surviving multiple showers and dips in the pool with no signs of becoming unstuck, which was quite a surprise. I did not notice any difference, in fact they are so small and unobtrusive that I forgot I was wearing them until the 3rd day, when they suddenly began to itch. When I removed them, I was left with a series of indented red dots where the titanium balls had been, although happily these disappeared overnight.

If you look carefully at the bottom of the packet you can see a disclaimer which says: ‘This product is not a medical device’. But it didn’t do any harm and – for just S$2 – was interesting to try.