There has been lots of stories in the news over the years about potential heart problems caused by long term use of painkillers such as ibuprofen and diclofenac (Voltarol) but the very well known link between these drugs and gastrointestinal bleeding doesn’t often get a mention. See this old article on Ibuprofen on BBC website
Doctor and medical columnist Thomas Stuttaford says in that article he thinks ibuprofen is a reasonable analgesic and anti-inflammatory – but it has more side effects than people realise.
“Side effects include renal damage. It’s not terribly well tolerated by the over 65s. It can cause gastric bleeding. And NSAIDs [the group of anti-inflammatory drugs that ibuprofen belongs to] contribute to something in the region of 2,000 deaths a year in the UK.”
I came across this video of Lorimer Moseley talking about the the role of the brain in chronic pain. He is a physio who has become interested in pain research and the psychology of pain. He is a very amusing speaker and gets his message across extremely well.. this video is 25 minutes long so grab a cuppa and watch it.
Much research has been done between the link between emotional and physical pain and, in my experience as a homeopath, helping people deal with difficult emotions such as anger or grief will often will reduce or eliminate their physical pain.
Clare Walters at Absolute Specialists runs training courses for therapists in various mindfulness techniques including the Pain Release Process which she has developed from her experience working with people with fibromyalgia. I completed the practitioner training course last year and am now accredited in Focussed Mindfulness Techniques which I often use alongside homeopathy in my consultations. I have found these techniques to be simple and profound tools for dealing with physical and emotional pain and I will write more about them another time.
New moon and new year on January 1st this year. How many of you out there start with good intentions and resolutions and within a couple of weeks those grand plans are history? I’m just as guilty as everyone else – last year my aim was to do yoga at home at least twice a week – that lasted about a month and then life got in the way and it was the first thing to go.
I wrote earlier about my experiences of doing the Artist’s Way and would really recommend that for anyone who wants to make time for a bit of creativity in their life this year. The regular writing aspect of it has been hugely important for me and is something I do every day now. I have found writing really helpful for processing problems and also allowing ideas and solutions to bubble up to the surface. See my musings about it in my previous blog.
If that sounds a bit deep and you want something a bit more quirky and fun to get your teeth into this year then have a look at Leonie Dawson and what she does. There is a huge amount of great advice and unashamedly girlie goddess stuff and freebies on her website about empowering and encouraging women to make time to plan and achieve their goals in life and business.
Leonie’s Create Your Amazing Year workbook & calendar is an incredibly popular & useful tool to help you plan out & make happen your most incredible year in life or business (or both!). Over the last five years, thousands of women have used this workbook with the most amazing results.
Used by entrepreneurs, artists, mothers, creative types, coaches, teachers and women of all ages, the Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Biz workbooks are filled with dozens of pages of powerful worksheets & a printable calendar to help you create your amazing new year. See some examples below of the sort of thing you get in the workbook.
I’m really excited about it and am just printing lots of it out as a type. Most of it is stuff we know we ought to do but forget about when we need them most. The workbook and calendar mean you actually book time for things, remind yourself what cheers you up, make time to spend with friends and also block out time to spend on your own, plan and set goals and ideally do it with a group of goddess chums who will help with accountability.. so all that mean that your goals are more achievable.
I’m doing it with some friends and really looking forward to getting started – the ebooks are very reasonable (click here to go to Leonie’s Amazing Year pages or any of the images to get to them) but if you don’t fancy printing lots off then you can buy a real book on Amazon. Link to Leonie’s book page on Amazon here.
With Christmas approaching and the seemingly endless adverts on TV I know many folk are starting to worry about the costs of the festive season.
I must confess to being a bit of a ‘Bah Humbug’ about it all.. our family certainly don’t go for expensive gifts and are likely to find practical or appropriate presents in charity shops and give things like home-made jams and cakes. Most years we go to our local supermarket just before they close on Christmas Eve and get whatever is massively reduced and have that for Christmas dinner. I don’t eat meat but last year hubby ate extremely well with bargain venison, pheasant and Beef Wellington!
I met Helen Collier, initially through the ether on twitter (she’s @HarmoneyLife), then later we ended up doing some mindfulness training together with Absolute Specialists. Helen is a money coach and her business Harmoney Life helps people understand their ‘money archetypes’ which can enable you to have a healthier attitude to money. Money coaching is very popular in America but still a very new concept over here.
Helen has a short money quiz on her website which can be enlightening. When you think about money what words spring to mind? You might be surprised.. if you are focused on negative words like fear, lack, debt, anxiety then that isn’t going to make you feel great about anything to do with money.
Helen has a free webinar aimed at women who are divorcing where she explains about the different money archetypes so it is interesting for anyone.. if you do decide you want to really get to grips with an unhealthy view of money then Helen offers face to face coaching or can work over Skype.
Some of you know I am a big fan of Tad Hargrave and his Marketing for Hippies website. He wrote a really honest blog a few months ago about being broke and being absolutely fine about it.
That blog prompted a multitude of comments from people who really did care when they were broke.. so he wrote a follow up. This has loads of simple tips for cost cutting or just thinking about what you are spending your money on.
I mentioned Tad’s blogs to Helen and she said ‘ He appears to have Money Magician qualities and is open to the flow of money in his life, at the same time he’s confident in his ability to generate money and is able to get his Warrior, the archetype of action, working for him when he needs to.’
In terms of homeopathy and natural health, if thoughts of money or concerns about family visitations over Christmas are on your mind, then a mix of flower remedies may help switch your brain off and help get a bit of clarity on the situation. If worrying is keeping you awake at night then flower remedies or other natural remedies can really help you calm your mind and get some sleep.
If you want some help just give me a call or email – we can have a chat in person, by phone or Skype and I can make up a mix of flower remedies appropriate for you and pop them in the post… a special pre-Christmas offer of £25 including UK postage.
If you want to explore this subject further.. these are a few books below to look at. Helen did her Money Coaching training with Deborah Price, a friend interviewed George Kinder years ago and was really impressed by what he had to say about spirituality and attitudes to money. I recently finished the Artist’s Way (see my previous blog) and Julia Cameron has done a similar book focussed on money – The Prosperous Heart.
Jo Rhodes is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.
Many of our critics go on about the ‘fact’ that homeopathy must be nonsense because the remedies are diluted so much there must be nothing there. See my previous blog about Avogadro and dilutions for my response to that. (more…)
I finished doing the Artist’s Way this morning. For those of you that haven’t heard of it… Julia Cameron wrote the book many years ago, it is a course in discovering and recovering your creative self. It was designed to help artists and other creative folk who felt they were blocked in some way but don’t have to be particularly artistic to get a huge amount out of the book. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m arty but do love creating things in other ways like gardening, foraging, jam making, patchwork and making soaps but this has definitely been a really powerful experience.
The two main parts of the Artist’s Way are daily journal writing, the Morning Pages, and Artist’s Dates where you take time out every week to do something creative or just go somewhere and do things that are different from your normal routine.
It is a 12 week programme but for various reasons it’s take about 8 months. I wanted to do each week properly and do all the tasks and decided I’d rather do it slowly.. so I have.
This little heart was something I made after finishing the book.. it doesn’t look much, and the stitching is a bit dodgy in places.. but the process of hand sewing the heart and filling it with lavender was a very meditative process and I really enjoyed it. In this technology-filled world we don’t generally take time out to do simple things like that.
Doing a homeopathy course, and more recently mindfulness training, means that I have done a lot of work over the years on dealing with my own emotional issues. The book revisited a lot of them and was interesting to note how my attitude to some things has changed. Overall, it’s been a really powerful self development journey which I would really recommend.
On many occasions my morning writing featured wild food in some way, recipe ideas, places I know there are wild foods or medicinal herbs so the idea to do something with all that has grown. I have done a few wild food walks and talks locally and had some great conversations over the last few months with people who use wild plants in various ways but the Artist’s Way has poked me to do more. I’m in the process of creating a blog for my alter ego Wild Food Woman which will be live soon at www.wildfoodwoman.co.uk I’ve also started tweeting as @wildfoodwoman on twitter.
If you would like to find out more about The Artist’s Way have a look at Julia Cameron’s website. She has some short videos about various aspects of the book including Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates.
She has written several books now on writing, art and creativity, spirituality, money and prosperity – many have a similar format to the Artist’s Ways and are designed to be worked through to get the most out of them. She has also written books of poetry, plays and fiction. Amazon links to some of them below.. other booksellers are available!
I came across this wonderful musical history of homeopathy today. It’s called Homeo Pie and is a history of homeopathy in America sung to the tune of American Pie.
Few people know about homeopathy’s long and dramatic history in the United States. This music video will educate and entertain you in under 10 minutes.
It was written by Bara Waters and performed by her husband Robert Cassard.. these are her words about the song from her website.
In the early 1990′s, as my final class project for the Hahnemann College of Homeopathy, I chose to explore homeopathic history in the USA. As a songwriter, I thought it would be fun and challenging to write new homeopathically-oriented lyrics for American Pie, Don McLean’s epic hit about the history of rock and roll. My purpose was to shed light on a little-known drama: homeopathy’s early popularity in the US, followed by its suppression by advocates of conventional medicine (including the American Medical Association), and its eventual—and inevitable—resurgence in the past 30 years.
To complete the project, my husband Robert Cassard and I recorded a note-for-note imitation of American Pie with the new lyrics, and Homeo Pie was born. After we performed the song live at the NCH conference in San Diego in 1996, fellow attendees begged that we make the song available to a larger audience. Over the years, we sold hundreds of cassettes and CDs to homeopaths both in the US and abroad.
Homeo Pie has been out of print for more than decade, but I still play it in the classes I teach, and continue to get requests for CDs. This time, Robert and I decided to bring it back to life in the more illustrative form of a music video. It’s our gift to the homeopathic community—offered with love and a great big grin. Long live Homeopathy!
See more from Bara on her website www.empoweringuhomeopathy.com
As some of you know, I am a keen wild food forager, that means at this time of year I am often busy picking or cooking all sorts of tasty things.
There is a huge amount of fruit around this year and if you are getting sick of making crumble or jam then this is a great solution.
Fruit leather is effectively a kind of fruit jerky and a healthy chewy treat. I don’t add sugar but you can if you want. It is very easy to make and, if properly dried, will keep for several weeks in the fridge. In my experience it never lasts long enough to go bad!
What follows is a general guideline to making fruit leather, there is no set recipe so just see how you get on and experiment.
I used 12 pears and a baking tray approx 30cm x 50cm so you can see from the pictures how much that makes.
- Fresh fruit such as apples, pears, grapes, apricots, peaches, plums, berries
- Lemon juice
- Sugar (if needed)
- Optional spices – cinnamon and nutmeg work well with apples and pears
1 Rinse the fruit. If you use stoned fruit such as plums or apricots, remove the stones and chop the fruit. If you are using apples or pears, peel and core them, then chop.
2 Taste the fruit before proceeding and think about how sweet it is. If it is a little sharp, you may want to add some sugar in the next step.
3 Place fruit in a large saucepan. Add about half a cup of water for every 4 cups of chopped fruit. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the fruit is cooked through. Uncover and stir. Use a potato masher or hand blender to mash up the fruit in the pan. Add sugar or lemon juice in small amounts at this stage and keep tasting until you are happy with the flavour. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices if you wish.
4 Continue to simmer for around 10 minutes and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has thickened. A lot of the moisture will have gone by now and it should be more of a thick paste at this stage. Taste again and adjust sugar/lemon/spices if necessary.
5 Line a baking sheet with cling film (the kind that is microwave safe). Do NOT be tempted to try aluminium foil or greaseproof paper.. trust me.. the fruit leather will weld itself to anything but cling film! Leave the purée to cool for a few minutes then pour into the lined baking sheet to about 0.5cm thickness.
5 Place the baking sheet in the oven and make sure the cling film hasn’t folded back over on top of the purée. If this happens, the purée won’t dry out. Heat the oven to 200°F or about 95°C. A fan oven will speed up the process and help dry out the purée. Let dry in the oven like this for as long as it takes, there really is no set time as each mix will be different but 6-8 hours is probably a good guess. We usually keep it in the oven overnight for about 8-10 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, tap it with your finger to check and it will be very clear when it is done. It will darken considerably and shrink quite a bit but that is fine.
If you have a food dehydrator you can use that. If you live somewhere warm (not Yorkshire!) you can cover the tray with some cheesecloth or one of the mesh ‘cake cosies’ and leave it outside in the sun on a hot day.
6 When the fruit leather is ready, you can just roll it up with the cling film and store in the fridge if you want. I prefer to peel the cling film off and use scissors to cut it into squares for easy bite-sized snacks. These can be stored in a plastic tub in the fridge and will keep for several weeks but usually get eaten pretty quickly.
If you are interested in wild food have a look at my previous blog post about foraging. It contains lots of links to free downloads and recipes as well as some book suggestions for identifying and cooking what you have picked. I will be setting up a wild food blog in the near future and also tweet as @wildfoodwoman
For myself and many other homeopaths, festival season means helping out with the Travelling Homeopaths Collective who have been providing low cost homeopathy treatment at festivals since 1990. This year there will be a homeopathy clinic at 16 festivals all over the country – see here for the list of where THC will be.
The sort of things people come to see us about include hangovers, dodgy tummies, urine infections, coughs and colds, sunburn, bites and stings but over 60% of the people we see come to us about hay fever. Many people who usually control their hay fever with medication suffer at festivals as they are exposed to different pollen, not enough sleep and often a bit of over indulgence! See my previous post for some natural tips for hay fever sufferers.
Everyone working in the festival clinics is fully insured and many are extremely experienced practitioners, there are also some supervised students as the festivals give them an opportunity to gain a great deal of case-taking experience in a short period of time.
I would like to stress that we can only treat simple first aid or acute illnesses at festivals. It is not appropriate to treat long term physical or emotional problems in a festival environment. However, if people want to explore the possibility of using homeopathy for those sort of conditions then we can put them in touch with a qualified practitioner in their area. FindAHomeopath website has a postcode search if you would like to find a homeopath near you.
Over the last few years it has been noticeable that many more people have been coming to the clinic tent for a chat as they are disillusioned with their conventional treatment. Things like IBS, chronic back pain, insomnia, depression, recurrent cystitis, ME and fibromyalgia are conditions that conventional medicine struggles to treat effectively and so people are looking for information on other approaches. Some of these conditions have some excellent research studies which show homeopathic treatment can be very effective. See the British Homoeopathic Association website for a list of medical conditions where there is positive homeopathy research.
So, if you or your offspring are off to a festival just pop in and say hello. You don’t have to be ill to come and see us!
In case you were wondering about the picture of the flooded field and tents – that was Glastonbury in 2005….
Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is one of Summer’s miseries and the most common allergy in the UK. One in four people suffer from some sort of allergy at some point in their lives. What’s more, the number of people affected by allergies is increasing by about 5% every year. Many people suffer with hay fever for several months each year and either don’t get relief from their symptoms or struggle with side effects of their medication.
Hay fever could be costing businesses billions of pounds a year as a result of lost productivity according to this article in the Daily Telegraph.
Many students end up taking exams over the summer when pollen levels are high and hay fever symptoms are at their worst. Allergy UK research has shown that 40% of children can drop a grade between mocks and final exams because of poor sleep and reduced concentration due to their hay fever.
Currently no antihistamine or steroid tablets are approved for use in pregnancy. Happily, there are ways to help hay fever symptoms without any danger to mother or baby. Homeopathy fits the bill because it is safe so can be used confidently throughout all stages of pregnancy and after the birth.
There are a number of published medical trials with positive results for the use of homeopathy in the treatment of hay fever. Getting treatment before the pollen season kicks in is the best time to try and get on top of things but there are also several homeopathic remedies that can be useful to deal with symptoms when they appear. Incidentally, it was a homeopathic doctor, C.H. Blackley, who in 1871 first identified pollen as the cause of hay fever.
Every summer I work as a volunteer for the Travelling Homeopaths Collective who are a charity providing low-cost homeopathy clinics at festivals. I usually work with them at Glastonbury and one or two local festivals each year, around 60% of the people we treat come to see us about hay fever. Many of them come back soon after to tell us how much better they feel which is always good to hear!
There are many natural products that can help to prevent or to reduce symptoms. As well as homeopathy, some people find that barrier creams, pollen, honey and nutritional supplements may help. I wrote a longer blog about natural treatments for hay fever on the Settle Website which includes more information. Click here for the full article
Homeopathy treats the individual and not the disease so hay fever is a great example of how it differs from conventional medicine. Three people with hay fever may well have markedly different symptoms so could be given different remedies by a homeopath.
The fundamental principle of homeopathy is ’like cures like’ which means something in large amounts can produce symptoms but a very small amount of that substance can trigger your body to recognize the problem and deal with it.
A simple example is coffee. People who drink large amounts of coffee or caffeinated drinks may have sleep problems, headaches, feel agitated or restless and these problems can often be helped using the homeopathic remedy coffea which is made from coffee beans.
Here are a few of the most commonly used homeopathic remedies for hay fever
Euphrasia – this is a fantastic remedy made from the plant Eyebright where eye symptoms are the most distressing. Itching, burning and puffy eyes with runny nose. Eyes feel much worse in sunlight and windy weather. The person will feels worse indoors. Euphrasia is also available as eyedrops.
Allium Cepa – this is a remedy made from red onion. In homeopathy ‘like cures like’ so if you think about how you feel if you chop up a strong onion you can see how this could be useful for hay fever. There is a streaming, watery discharge from eyes and nose, the nasal discharge may be burning, may also be lots of sneezing – the person will feel better in open air, much worse indoors.
Arsenicum album – burning, watery, discharge from both eyes and nose, the person feels chilly and thirsty and will either want hot water or frequent sips of cold water, often there is also some anxiety or restlessness.
Nux Vomica – lots of sneezing, streaming eyes and nose, itching in ears, very grumpy and irritable, general over sensitivity to light, smells and noise. The nose may be completely blocked at times, especially in the morning which can lead to outbursts of frustration and grumpiness. This remedy can also be very helpful for hangovers or digestive trouble caused by over indulgence!
Nelson’s Pollenna is a mix of three homeopathic remedies for common symptoms of hay fever and is widely available in chemists and health food shops. Allium Cepa, Euphrasia and Sabadilla. This combination does cover the vast majority of hay fever symptoms and can be beneficial for many people.
A homeopathic preparation of mixed pollens is also available. Several medical trials have shown that homeopathically prepared mixed pollens of trees, grasses and flowers can help alleviate hay fever symptoms. Weleda do a hay fever kit which contains homeopathic mixed pollens and a natural nasal spray to help clear blocked noses.
As homeopathy treats the individual you need to consider whether any of these remedies sound relevant for you. If not, have a look at this hay fever guide from Helios pharmacy as there are many other remedies which might help or give me a call.
All of the remedies I have mentioned should be easy to find in your local health food shop or pharmacy. Locally Wholesome Bee in Settle have an excellent selection of natural remedies and Sole to Soul Holistic Therapy Centre in Bentham also have a small selection of essential oils and natural remedies.
Pass it on..
I realise not everyone suffers from hay fever – so if this isn’t relevant for you pass it on to someone you know who might benefit from it.
A fellow homeopath sent me this wonderful musical video – Chinese Medicine Blues – from acupuncturist Peter Firebrace.
This video is the title track of an upcoming album, due out May 2013, this song is a response to regulations imposed by the Advertising Standards Authority on what acupuncturists can say they treat. This was put out during Acupuncture Awareness Week in March 2013.
Whilst I completely accept we have to have some sort of Advertising Standards to prevent people making fraudulent claims, the rules governing therapists are somewhat frustrating. We are not allowed to say we can treat or cure anything and have to be extremely careful with the wording on our websites and our leaflets. Testimonials from patients are allowed to say I have a lovely clinic, a nice approachable manner, I’m easy to talk to, my medicines are easy to take.. but they can’t say I can fix anything.
The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) write and maintain the UK Advertising Codes, which are administered by the Advertising Standards Authority. Acupuncture has been around for over 3500 years and there is no doubt it has helped many millions in that time.. but according to the Committees of Advertising Practice, acupuncture is only useful for a small number of conditions including toothache, nausea and vomiting, headaches, backaches and knee pain. The many thousands of practitioners would disagree that is all acupuncture is good for, as would many of their patients.
Homeopathic practitioners have a similar problem. The CAP view on homeopathy is..
‘ ..no scientific rationale exists for assuming that remedies lacking in pharmacologically active molecules can produce clinical effects and is unaware of robust evidence that proves it does. Some homeopaths seem to be medically qualified and therefore regulated by the General Medical Council. Those who are medically qualified may make claims about treating conditions but only if it is clear that the efficacy is due to conventional treatments. Those practitioners who are not medically qualified should not make claims about the efficacy of their treatments and should not refer to serious medical conditions’
So that means, because we don’t fully understand the mechanism of homeopathic dilutions. they think it is implausible, and that homeopaths who are doctors are allowed to claim they can cure their patients but can’t say it is homeopathy that does it! The ASA base their assumptions on homeopathy on the widely discredited Government Science and Technology Committee report published in February 2010.
The Science and Technology report and its recommendations led to the dramatic assertion by the media that the public have been conned since 1948 by NHS placebos masquerading as medicine and this was a vast waste on NHS money. However, this was not all MPS in Westminster condemning homeopathy, this controversial report was ratified by only three MPs: Two of whom were not even present at the committee hearings – and one of those two was not even a member of the committee when the hearings were held. Of the three, one (Doug Naysmith) stood down as an MP at the election in May 2010, and the other two (Evan Harris & Ian Cawsey) lost their seats in that general election. So not exactly the whole of parliament denouncing homeopathy. For an excellent summary of the whole affair see this blog from The Voice of not so Young Homeopathy.
The Society of Homeopaths and other homeopathic groups have been in discussion with ASA and CAP to show them vast amounts of what we believe to be good evidence that homoepathy works.. but the guidelines have not changed.
For good info on dilutions, evidence and research have a look at ExtraordinaryMedicine.org or the Society of Homeopaths page on evidence or peruse this blog for old posts on research and dilutions and evidence